Title: The Terror That Flaps in the Night

Author: Sarah Li MacKiver

E-mail address: kxmuse@yahoo.com

Author's website: http://www.geocities.com/kxmuse/ShortSweetSlash.html

Date: 03/22/02

Fandom: Enterprise

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Category: first time, humor, spooky old house challenge

Rating: PG 13

Status: complete

Archive: yes

Series/Sequel: not yet, but I'm working on it.

Disclaimers: They belong to each other

Notes: This story was posted a month or so ago on the Short Sweet Slash list when the original owner of the list issued a challenge for a spooky old house story. I'm now heir to the list and always digging for lovely slash fics.

Beta: Juli! Thank you, Juli, for being there for me! Second Note: The posting of this story is, in no way, a retort to the newest list discussion. It's simply my story written about two beautiful guys. I think they're all beautiful. :)

The night was dark and windy. The air was moist and smelled of rain. There had been cataclysmic storms in another sector of Birmingham.

Malcolm Reed trembled to himself as he mused on the name of the town. It wasn't Birmingham, England, with which he was familiar. It wasn't even Birmingham, Alabama, which was a friendly, hospitable town. No. It was Birmingham, Risuoc, on another planet, in another galaxy far, far away from Earth. Thaeot, which was blessed with a slightly similar terran atmosphere, but was rumored to be inhabited by very unnatural beings.

To humans, it was said to be a frightening place. Ghosts who went bump in the night, some even in the daytime. Spirits, demons, ghouls, restless souls, whatever they were, they were trouble for visitors.

"Well?" Captain Jonathan Archer was waiting impatiently for a report. Upon no immediate response, he nudged the tactical officer and became a bit more urgent. "Malcolm? Some time today, maybe?"

"Sir…" Malcolm shone his light and edged away from the enormous house covered in cobwebs and vines. "I don't really…"


"It's haunted."

Archer gave him a skeptical glimmer. "Haunted."

"Y-yes, sir. Haunted. Ghosts inside."

"Your equipment tells you that?"

"My equipment tells me no living beings are inside, but the auditory sensors are picking up high volumes of noise."

"Malcolm." The captain pressed a hand on his shoulder. "The wind is blowing. Did you take that into consideration?"

"It's not the wind, Captain."

"You prefer to think it's ghosts."

"I believe it *is* ghosts, sir."

Archer sighed. "We're about to get soaked by the oncoming storm. You know as well as I do that Thaeotian rain can cause a severe skin rash or worse. Let's get inside."

Malcolm hesitated. "But…"

"I'll protect you from the ghosts." Archer promised, hauling him along by the wrist.

The rain began before they were inside, which hurried their ascension up the wooden steps to the front door. Malcolm's back was well-spattered before they were safely inside.

It was obvious previous Earth travelers had constructed the house. The first room was large with a high, adorned ceiling. The captain's light made the center visible, but the corners were dark and mysterious. "It's really old-fashioned." he commented as he ambled into the adjoining room. "Kinda makes you think of those Southern plantations, doesn't it?"

"Yes. Commander Tucker would certainly be in his element here." Malcolm scurried to keep up with him and was preceded into a roomful of decorative furniture; a sectional sofa, a matching short sofa, plush chairs, a wide ottoman, tables, shelves and a desk. "This must be the 'parlor'. Homey, isn't it?" he muttered.

"Yes, it is. Since we're stranded here until Trip gets the systems back online, we may as well make ourselves comfortable. Looks like we've got it all to ourselves. No ghosts in sight."

"Yes, sir." Chagrined, Reed put down his supply bag. Twisting an arm behind his back, he scratched at the moist area of his clothing. "I think I should get out of this shirt before I blister."

Archer quickly lent a hand to helping peel the shirt off over the lieutenant's head, then turned him so he could view the damage. "It's red." he said, drying the skin. "I've got some antifungal ointment in my pack. Sit down and I'll rub some on you."

Shivering from the chill in the room, Malcolm seated himself on the ottoman in front of the smaller sofa. Sitting behind him, Jon asked, "Is it burning?"

"Yes, it feels a bit like the results of a bout with a leather belt."

Emitting a long sigh, the captain shook his head. "Malcolm, I'm not going to ask, but if you ever want to talk about it, I'm here." He squeezed ointment onto the fingers of his right hand and carefully began to apply it to the redness. "Do you have a clean shirt?"

"I have my jacket."

"Good. It's cold enough to wear it, anyway." Archer's fingers slipped down the small knots of the other man's spine until the waistband of the trousers stopped him. Hesitantly, he leaned to glimpse into the darkened path beyond his view. "Everything okay lower?"

There was a muffled pause, then the Englishman nodded. "I can get that myself later."

"If the rain got to your skin, it should be taken care of *now*. On your feet, Lieutenant. Drop your pants."


With another sigh, the captain resorted to exerting his authority. "I just gave you an order. You will obey it at this time."

Reluctantly, Malcolm stood, unbuttoned his pants and let them fall to his ankles. His face was as red as his back when the captain's hands tugged down his underpants and pulled him back, naked, onto the ottoman. "This is very embarrassing." he said.

Jon's fingers gently applied the ointment to his buttocks where red spots were present, carefully dipping into the silky cleft. He paused when his companion stiffened. "Take it easy, Malcolm. I'm just putting medicine on you. No harm, no foul."

"Yes, sir." Reed mumbled, and surrendered his dignity. "Thank you."

Perceptively, Jon spoke even softer as he drew his hand away. "I'm finished. Get your blanket out and curl up on the sofa."

A sudden loud banging above them startled them. With their lights, they searched the ceiling and far stairwell that led to the upper floor, but saw nothing. Breathing hard and shakily, Malcolm retreated into the larger man's knees and tripped backward into his lap. "I told you there are ghosts here!" he cried.

"I'll go upstairs and take a look." Setting the smaller man aside, Archer began to rise to his feet.

Malcolm grabbed for him. "Don't you dare leave me naked and alone down here! If you go upstairs, so shall I!"

"Get your blanket. We'll both go."

His hands trembled so badly he had trouble unzipping the bag. When he was wrapped securely in his blanket, he asked, "Is it possible we could remain here and *not* investigate the source of the noise?"

"I think we need to know what's up there if we plan to get any sleep tonight." Jon answered. "If you're right and there are 'ghosts' here, we need to figure out how to deal with them. If it's something else, it's important to know *what*."

"Of course you're right. Right behind you, Captain." Hefting both their supply sacks, Malcolm readied himself for peril.

"Stay close."


Together, they crept up the creaky stairs, jolting at another loud outburst from the room above them. This time, instead of simple banging, wailing and clunking was also audible. They paused to exchange a worried glance before continuing their climb.

As they approached the floor, dark wings flapped into the shadows of the room at the end of a long hallway. Staring, Malcolm whispered, "Birds or any other living creature would have shown up on the sensors. Whatever it is, it's long dead."

Abandoning all reason, Archer dashed to the entrance of the room and slammed the door shut. "Whatever it is, let's see if it can fly outta there now." He shined his light into the other opened doors on the floor, revealing beautifully furnished bedrooms.

"They may not take kindly to our transience in their dwelling." Malcolm approached the doorway to the largest room and peered inside. Through the window, he saw lightning had begun and rain was coming down in torrents.

"Somehow, I don't think they're gonna much mind if we spend one night. Why would the dead care about us?" Archer moved cautiously into the room, illuminating it fully. Throwing back the bedcovers, he coughed at the cloud of dust. "A little dusty, but cozy." he announced.

"Do you think the dust is as toxic as the rain?"

"I hope not. The rain's not actually toxic. Just seems to create a bacterial infection on human skin. Get in bed."

Still wrapped in his blanket, Malcolm crawled into bed and settled on the side against the wall. "I'm not accustomed to dual sleeping arrangements."

"Me, either, but I think we'll survive the experience." Archer grinned and rolled in beside him, covering them both with the blanket. "It's been a long, long time since I shared a bed with anyone…and even longer since that someone was male."

The nuance in the statement caused Reed to consider. "Sir, are you saying…"

"I'm not saying anything, Malcolm. Don't make it dirty."

"Dirty? Why would it be…"

"Have *you* ever slept with another man…in *that* way?"

"Not deliberately, no."

"That's a bit vague, don't you think?"

"No vaguer than anything else we've discussed lately."

Archer rolled onto his side facing the lieutenant. "Are you implying that we sidestep major issues?"

Malcolm was suddenly shy. "Such as what?"

"Such as you and I talking about this."


"Yes, this. Us. Together." Archer's arm swept the immediate area. "In bed together."

"What's to talk about?" The squeak on the last word caused another bit of embarrassment. "I'm still all-too-aware that we're in bed together in a *haunted house* where strange beings fly into dark rooms!"

"Forget the thing in the other room. In this room, it's just you and me. We're alone, we're safe, we're warm and we're even *more* aware of each other. Tell me your feelings on this."

The voice was weak. "My feelings on being in bed with you? Captain, I daresay you must be desperate to keep my mind off the surroundings or you've been possessed by one of the ghosts that inhabits this house!"

"Couldn't it be that I'm trying to explain how I feel about you?"

Malcolm gazed at him in silence.

"Take a minute and think about it." Jon finished. "Don't just assume I'm playing games or that my mind is gone."

"You…" He strangled on his own realization. "You like me?"

"You could say that."

"As in…you *like* me?"

"You're getting warmer."


Archer's hand rested lightly on his cheek. Malcolm closed his eyes and turned his face into the palm, let his lips graze the texture. The thumb slid along the lower lip, dipped it down and slowly pressed between the parted teeth. He tasted the pad, then swirled his tongue around it and sucked it in deep.

The whisper came from around the thumb in his mouth. "I like you, too, Jonny."

"Jonny? Where did that come from?"

"Would you like me to call you 'Captain' or 'Sir' while I'm performing symbolic felatio on your thumb?"

"No. I want you to stop being so symbolic."

"My thoughts precisely." Malcolm turned his face away until the thumb was extracted, then raised up to kiss his captain's warm lips. "Would this be a good place to start?"

"This is a perfect place to start." Jonathan rolled on top of him and bestowed a long, deep kiss on his lips.

Wide, dark wings flapped past the window, but the two men were too caught up in their passion to notice.

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