Title: Uncivilized Conversation

Author: MJ

Author's e-mail: mjr91@aol.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/mj/

Date: 03/21/02

Archive: Archer's Enterprise

Fandom: Enterprise

Pairing: A/R

Rating: PG

Summary: Archer digs his way out of kissing that lady druggist.

Author's Note: The rerun of "Civilization" really made me want to hear Archer dig his way out of it…and I can somehow just hear DK, with that cute British accent, snorting about "lady druggists."

Malcolm fidgeted over a few items on the table in Archer's room, pretending to be absorbed in nothing in particular. He didn't suppose that his ruse was working. Damn the man; to anyone else, Malcolm Reed was a closed book-reserved, withdrawn, inscrutable. To Jonathan Archer, Captain of the Enterprise, Malcolm was apparently transparent.

It ought to be a good thing, he supposed, that your lover had a clue as to what you were thinking. Malcolm wasn't altogether sure he liked the sensation.

Archer looked up from his book. "You okay? What's bothering you?"

"Nothing," Malcolm lied smoothly. "Just a little wound up." Anyone else, even Tucker, would have bought that. He knew Archer wouldn't. He turned his attention to the padd on the table, tried nonchalance, decided it wasn't going to work. There'd be a response any second.

Archer put his book down flat on the desk. "It's more than that. What is it?"

"I don't know, I suppose I was just wondering…what it was like down there."

Archer shrugged. "Did you ever go to one of those festivals-Renaissance Fairs? Where everyone's in Shakespearean costume and is pretending to be in seventeenth-century London?"

Malcolm turned to his lover and nodded. "Oh, right, I've been to one or two of those." "Imagine if it were real. It was a lot like that. You saw what was on the screen; it was just like it looked. Straight out of a movie, or more like a Renaissance theme park. Curio shops, apothecaries, street lamps filled with oil and lit up at night, cobblestone streets-it really was like going back in time, only it was real. No actors with bad accents pretending to be Christopher Marlowe or Queen Elizabeth."

"I wish I'd been able to go down with you and T'pol and Trip." Malcolm leaned back against the table, watching Archer. "It sounds as if you could have used a hand when the shooting started."

Archer chuckled, stretching his arms and working a kink out of his shoulder. "Yeah, a backup would've been nice when I had it out with Garos. I think you'd have enjoyed the explosion when I set off that residic oil." Another shrug. "But it's a good thing you were up here. There's nobody else I'd rather have had up here tracking what was happening. I needed that."

"Just doing my job," Malcolm replied. And that was all it had been, just doing his job. Trip, Hoshi and T'pol had gotten the planet-side excitement; he's just stood by. And Archer, he thought miserably, appeared to have gotten rather more excitement on the planet than he'd had a right to-and not only because of the reactor and the shoot-out.

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained…and he was going to have to bring it up sometime, wasn't he? Otherwise, he knew, it would be bothering him to the point of absolute torment. "I just wish I knew more about what really happened down there."

"It's in the report," Archer said. "I think I've pretty much gotten it down coherently; T'pol's reviewing it for me. If you want to take a look at it, I'd be happy to—"

Malcolm cut him off. "That's not what I mean, Jon. It's not the report I'm worried about. It's what's not in the report."

"What?" Archer looked surprised.

"From what I can gather, it sounds like you got some pretty close contact with at least one alien. Just how close was it, Jon? You didn't exactly have anyone monitoring what was up with you and the lady druggist when you were alone at her place, did you?"

Archer looked over Malcolm quietly. It didn't matter how high the man sent Malcolm's blood pressure-those eyes did it every time. Malcolm shifted slightly, feeling the heat whether Archer had intended to send it his way or not. It never failed-hadn't since the first time he'd met Archer back at Starfleet HQ when he'd been called in for an interview regarding serving on Enterprise. The look Archer had given him, even then, had been enough to make Malcolm doubt that there was adequate room in the cut of his trousers. At the moment, there definitely wasn't enough give in the fabric or cut of the damned uniform; he knew that much. He hated that Jonathan Archer could make his body react so involuntarily at any time; no one else had ever had that effect on him.

The feeling was not the one he wanted in trying to control this situation.

Archer sighed. "What you really want to know is if I slept with her."


"As a matter of fact, I didn't. I wanted to, I admit it. I certainly thought about it. But I didn't."


Archer nodded. "Really."

Malcolm slumped further back against the table, his palms flat against its surface, supporting him. "I believe you. Thank you for being honest."

"Malcolm…" Archer began, then faded. He tried again. "Malcolm…how much would it matter to you if I had?"

"Rather a lot, actually."

"I thought you'd say that." Archer dislodged himself from his own perch at the couch and crossed the short distance to his lover, wrapping one arm around Malcolm. It wasn't until he felt Archer's body against his that Malcolm realized how tight his own muscles were. His awareness disintegrated, however, as he felt Archer's breath against his hair, and as he directed all of his attention to that minor pleasure. "I could have; I won't lie about that. I thought about it. But I didn't, because I didn't want to hurt you. You've had more than enough people hurt you already; you don't need it from me."

Malcolm leaned into the embrace, finally letting go of his grasp on the table and relaxing slightly. "I love you."

"I know. I love you, too. And could we quit attempting to break this table? If we do break it, I'll never hear the end of it from Trip."

"What do you suggest instead?"

"We could get our asses off of the table and into bed…" Archer proposed.

"That might be a little more comfortable," Malcolm acknowledged, sliding off the edge of the table, feeling Archer's body moving along with his. "Promise me you won't chase any more lady druggists?"

"Promise," Archer responded solemnly. "Except when they give me presents for you."

"What are you talking about?" Malcolm stared at Archer as if the man had gone quite mad.

"Well, it's not exactly for you," Archer explained, "but she gave me a jar of some kind of skin cream she makes from some plant down there, and I'll be damned if whatever it is doesn't smell just like pineapple. I thought maybe you could help me find some kind of use for it."

"Maybe she's not so bad after all," Malcolm mused. "Bed. Now. I think I need to give you a back rub with your new present."

"Starting to like girls?" Archer teased.

"Oh, be quiet." Planting his mouth firmly over Archer's helped stifle any further comments.

Forgiving Jonathan Archer for necking with that lady druggist was going to be easier than he'd thought.

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