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"Malcolm... why in heck's name do ya insist on keeping this damn paper calendar?" Trip Tucker asked, sitting back on the chair at Malcolm's desk.

"Because I do... Did you come here just to insult my calendar or was there something you wanted?" Malcolm asks, his face drawing into a scowl at Trip's question.

He knows it's not the first time Trip has wondered about it, he never use to keep a calendar, only since the Expanse, and the years since then, did he begin to keep one, and mark off the days on it.

"Uh huh... what's got a bee in your bonnet?" Trip questioned, casually putting his feet up on Malcolm's desk.

"Trip..." Malcolm said warningly.

"Relax, I just dropped by for a friendly chat." Trip said.

"Last time you Mr Tucker, dropped by for a 'friendly chat' I ended up drunkenly confessing my feelings for certain people who shall remain nameless, you'll forgive me if I don't believe you." Malcolm said.

"Awww come on, your not still sore about that, not like it hasn't worked out for the best." Trip said, winking cheekily.

"That as it maybe... was there a purpose to your visit?" Malcolm asked, sighing.

"Yeah, Jonny asked me to drop by and check on ya... make sure ya weren't beating yourself up too bad cause he got hurt." Trip said.

"There was no need." Malcolm said insistently.

"Sure there were... he was worried... and he knows you well enough to know you tend to bottle things up, which only leads to you getting all tense, and agitated, and doing silly things like sleeping in your own quarters instead of Jon's." Trip said, pointedly looking around Malcolm's quarters.

"I'm fine. I'm simply tired. I was hoping to get some sleep." Malcolm said.

"Sure Malcolm... so ya gonna tell me about the calendar?" Trip asked, changing the subject back to the month of September that was currently half marked of with red X's.

"I wasn't thinking about it no, now are you planning on leaving, or should I just continue on with my business while you sit there and question my décor choices?" Malcolm asked tiredly.

"Fine, fine, have it your way... just so ya know, Jonny will be outta sickbay in the morning, I'd suggest you not still be moping around then." Trip said, tossing Malcolm a 'this isn't over' look before he left.

Malcolm sighed, and sat down at his desk, pulling a red marker out and looking at the number 17 on the calendar.

17th of September 2359, and Malcolm Reed was still alive.

Trip has asked the same question Jon had asked when he'd first noticed the calendar a few months ago. They had only been together two months, but it was the first time they'd been in his quarters as apposed to Jon's, mainly because Malcolm had just been released from sickbay and Dr Phlox had insisted he be escorted back to his quarters, meaning his quarters was exactly where he had to go, since no one was yet aware of his and Jon's relationship.

"Everyday I beat my own previous record for number of consecutive days I've stayed alive." Malcolm had replied to him, refusing further comment when questioned.

At the time, what Malcolm had failed to mention, is that it was also a measure of the consecutive days he kept the crew safe... on the days any member of the crew had lost their lives... weather Malcolm had been present or not, the calendar had gone unmarked.

Today it could very nearly have gone unmarked.

Today Jon had nearly been killed.

Malcolm marked of the day with a red X, and tossed the pen back into it's drawer.

Jon was fine, Malcolm was fine, another day had been marked of on the calendar, and everyone on Enterprise was still alive and well.

Malcolm sighed tiredly, brushing a hand through his hair, creating an unruly pattern.

"Reed to Tucker." Malcolm said, hitting the comm panel.

"Didn't I just get kicked out of your quarters a minute ago?" Trip's voice came back over the comm.

"Yes well... I was wondering if you might still like to have that friendly chat." Malcolm asked.

"Sure... but you can supply the booze this time." Trip said, with a chuckle.

"I'll see you in a few minutes." Malcolm replied, closing the channel.

He wasn't sure he was ready yet to tell Jon the full reason behind the calendar, but Trip was a good friend, and Malcolm knew he'd listen without poking fun... well mostly without poking fun, after all there were few things Trip enjoyed more than torturing Malcolm with his off-beat sense of humour.

"Everyday I beat my own previous record for number of consecutive days I've stayed alive... and with any luck, I'll also keep beating my own previous record for the number of consecutive days I've kept everyone else on Enterprise alive."

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