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Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes:

Malcolm makes a decision that will change the course of his life. Written for the Valentine's Day Playlist Challenge.

My song was "Love is Alive" by Gary Wright. Warning: Pure fluff. The candy-floss-stuck-to-your-teeth-kind.

Song lyrics are in italics. There is some Malay and Mandarin in this story. Translations are in bold. The Mandarin is written in Pinyin without the tones, since trying to put them in XHTML is a pain.


He checked his appearance in the mirror. Blue dress shirt, dark slacks, leather shoes. Trip had told him that the color blue always brought out his eyes. It was the one piece of sound fashion advice the man possessed. Malcolm Reed chuckled and shook his head. Trip had volunteered other bits of arcane wisdom when he'd told him his plans.

"You gotta set the scene, get all romantic. A nice dinner in an out-of-the-way place, maybe. Some place that has some meanin' for the two of you."
"Like in the middle of Vulcan's Forge at the height of noon?"

"Hey, that doesn't count. I was delirious then. And in any case, she understood. I ended up doin' it the proper way later." Trip grinned widely, then slapped Malcolm on the shoulder. "Whatever you come up with, I'm sure she's gonna love it. Just don't screw it up."

Malcolm had rolled his eyes. "Thank you for the vote of confidence, Trip."

There was nice restaurant in Hong Kong, one that he and Hoshi had visited before. It was easy to make the reservations; the manager was more than accommodating. After all, Valentine's Day was not an 'official' holiday in Hong Kong, but people did get into the spirit.

Valentine's Day, and he was about to change his life forever. He should be nervous as hell, but all he felt was a sense of calm expectation. This was the right time, and the right way of going about this.

Well, I think it's time to get ready
To realize just what I have found.

He shrugged into his jacket and picked up the velvet case on the dresser. With a soft smile, he slipped it into his pocket and left the hotel room.

Kowloon Harbor was busy this evening. The lights danced on the water and tangoed with the shadows. Children wove and dodged their way among the adults in their game of tag. One little boy tripped and nearly fell. Malcolm's reflexes kicked in before his conscious mind caught up. His arm shot out and caught the boy before he did a face-plant on the concrete boardwalk.

"Ah, maaf! Seharusnya aku menonton mana aku akan pergi..." Sorry! I should have been watching where I was going...

Malcolm smiled and shook his head. It had been some time since he'd heard Malay, but he remembered enough to understand the boy's apology. Obviously, the lad's family wasn't native to Hong Kong but had recently immigrated from Malaysia.

"Tidak apa-apa. Tidak ada salahnya dilakukan," he replied. It's all right. There was no harm done.

The boy's eyes widened at the reassurance. Obviously, he hadn't expected to hear his native language spoken by an Englishman. He grinned, despite the embarrassed flush to his cheeks. "Terima kasih." Thank you.

"I think your friends are waiting for you, lad. Go on."

He bobbed his head and vanished into the crowd. Malcolm watched him go; why did the young man seem so familiar? His shy demeanor, his bright smile...it reminded Malcolm of Hoshi. If God sent omens, this one only affirmed his resolve.

I have lived only half of what I am
It's all clear to me now.

Malcolm was early, as usual. It was a necessary habit when one's father was a Royal Navy officer whose middle name was punctuality. The restaurant hadn't changed since he—since they—had last been here. Three years, four months, and fifteen days ago, to be exact. He rolled his eyes at his own obsessive habit.

Then she walked into the foyer and damned if his heart stopped right there.

She was beautiful, in a blue silk Chinese cheongsam, with golden embroidery at the collar and hem. The dress was slit high on the side, showing a generous amount of leg as she glided across the floor. Malcolm swallowed hard as rational thought failed him again, for a completely different cause this time.

Hoshi Sato greeted the waitstaff with polite warmth, as if she'd only been here yesterday instead of three years ago. That was another thing he loved about her...she was so open, so in tune with other people.

"Nimen hao! Nimen shenti hao ma?"
"Hen hao, xiexie!"

They conversed in rapid Cantonese, at ease as if they were like family. She looked up, spotted Malcolm and gave him a radiant smile.

My heart is on fire
My soul's like a wheel that's turnin'
My love is alive, my love is alive
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

"You look quite nice tonight, Malcolm," Hoshi said. "The shirt brings out the color of your eyes."

"Thank you. You look stunning. Did you get this in the market district this morning?"

Her eyes sparkled with mischief as she nodded. "I did. The seamstress did a good job tailoring it." She pitched her voice low so only he could hear her. "I had no trouble putting it on, but I might need some help taking it off later."

A year ago, that remark might have flustered him. Now, he only smirked and replied, "Ah. The gentlemanly thing to do is to offer you that assistance...later."

"You're such a gentleman, Malcolm," she murmured.

"Only for you, love."

The owner himself ushered them to a quiet alcove near the oceanfront. By the time dinner arrived, the sun was low on Kowloon Harbor, and the sky darkened from blue to royal purple. The stars winked on, one by one, and shone down on the nightlife below.
The food was delicious, but Malcolm was busy watching Hoshi. If anyone asked him what he was eating, he wouldn't have had a clue what it was.

There's something inside
That's making me crazy.

They chatted about all sorts of things: the refit of Enterprise, Trip and T'Pol's most recent visit to Shi'Kahr, the captain's discovery that he was about to be a 'grandfather' of sorts. Porthos had found a lady friend and...things just happened. Malcolm choked on his wine as Hoshi related Jon Archer's embarrassment and disbelief. Luckily, Mademoiselle's owner found the entire situation humorous.

"Cecilia's been Jon's friend since they were teenagers, Malcolm. She offered him first pick of the litter. He told me that if we wanted one, we're welcome."

Malcolm raised an eyebrow. "What did you tell him?"

"I said I'd think about it. I wouldn't mind having Porthos's son...or daughter...running around, but with things so uncertain right now-"

"At least the possibility is there." The face of the young boy on the boardwalk flashed across his mind. He smiled at a private thought as he took another sip of his wine. "I'm sure the captain made the same offer to Trip."

She laughed, the sound turning heads all over the restaurant. "Can you imagine T'Pol's reaction? It took her nearly four years to get used to Porthos being around her."

"I think she might surprise you, Hoshi. But, yes, the thought of T'Pol with one of Porthos's progeny..."

"Travis would have a field day. Phlox wouldn't mind another pet on board; he's got the menagerie, what's one more?"

The conversation went from the serious to the hilarious, with everything else in between. Malcolm loved watching her talk, emphasizing her points with her hands and her voice. It was a poetic dance, a graceful ballet. He could spend forever watching her.

Finally, the waitstaff brought dessert. Fresh fruit, rice cakes, chocolate-covered ladyfingers. Hoshi's eyes lit up at the selection and Malcolm felt his heart tighten in his chest.

It was time.

I'll try to keep it together
'Cause what I say
may not happen the same way

He slid a free hand into his pocket and withdrew the velvet case. She didn't notice the movement as she reveled in one of the chocolate ladyfingers. "Oh, I'm making a mess," she laughed as she searched for a napkin. "I can't help it; their desserts are so good!
"

"Here." He picked up a napkin and pressed it into her hand, but he didn't let go. With one smooth movement, he was on one knee in front of her, the open velvet case in his palm. Her eyes widened in shock, her mouth dropping into a small 'o' of surprise."

Now could be forever.

They heard a soft chatter from the doorway. The waitstaff hid there in nervous anticipation; after all, this didn't happen in their establishment every day! Malcolm smiled and looked up at her. Hoshi's eyes brimmed with joy, the tears trembling on her lashes.

There's a mirror moving inside my mind
Reflecting the love that you shine on me.

"Hoshi Sato, my love, will you marry me?"

She blinked, blinked again. The entire world held its breath as she made her decision.

It only took her half a second.

"YES!" she shouted, for everyone in the restaurant to hear.

He slipped the ring upon her finger and the entire corps of waitstaff and patrons burst into applause. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Hoshi." he murmured against her lips.

Hold on now to that feeling
Let it flow, let it grow,
yeah, yeah.

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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