Title: So I See

Author: Buttercup

E-mail: Buttercupgaud@aol.com

Date: 08/23/02

Feedback: Go on you know you want to.

Disclaimer: The guys don't belong to me they belong to Paramount and I certainly didn't make any money out of this.

Archive: Yes, at EntSTSlash, Tim Ruben, Archers_Enterprise, Allslash, Situation Room, and WWoMB; anyone else, ask and you shall receive.

Pairings: Tucker/Reed

Rating: PG-13? For swearing mostly.

Notes/warnings: Umm, Trip gets mean, but later on. You'll see why and probably think it's justified too. I thought of this, this morning and just wrote it. No beta. So sorry about the mistakes I'm sure are there, despite my checking about three times!

Summary: Trip thinks about things and makes a discovery.

And so I see right through you
And I know what you've been up to
So I see right through you
And I know the things you do

—Lene Marlin


Jon almost giggled as he dragged the other man into his small quarters. He looked at the flushed face of the smaller man and laughed out loud.

"Does he suspect anything?" Jon asked softly.

"I think I'm safe in saying that Trip knows nothing," Malcolm answered softly a smile playing on his lips.

"You sure? He didn't see you come in here? He doesn't know where you are?" Archer questioned quickly.

"Trust me, he doesn't suspect a thing," Malcolm smiled again.

"What did you tell him, this time?" Jon asked as he moved over to the bed and cleaned off the things on it.

"That I had to work," Malcolm answered with a shake of his head "Which is true, so this had better be quick."

"Well," Jon grinned again "If you insisted."


"So," Hoshi smiled warmly at Trip as he sat down next to her in the mess hall "Where is he?"

"Where's who?" Trip asked taking a bite out of his sandwich.

"Your shadow," the comm. officer answered, her eyes sparkling slightly.

"If your talking about Malcolm, then I don't know." Trip answered with a smile.

"Huh, you can't usually separate you two with a crowbar," Hoshi commented with a shrug.

"Yeah, well, he's been busy lately, is all," the commander knew he was being defensive, but he could help it. He'd noticed his lover's absence of late as well. It was something that was starting to concern him slightly. Not a lot, but it did seem that Malcolm had more important things that he wanted to be doing rather then spending time with him. And that hurt Trip little.

"How long is it that you two have been together now?" Hoshi asked after a moment.

"One year, eleven months, four days, and—"Trip looked briefly at his watch "Sixteen hours." The chief engineer flushed a very bright shade of red before answering again "Ah mean, about two years now."

Hoshi laughed brightly "I see. You two are so cute."

"We're not cute." Trip mumbled, feeling his heated skin flush again.

"Yes you are…Oh, I was meaning to ask why it was that you didn't go on that away mission to get spare parts the other week," Hoshi asked after a second, clearly deciding that she'd tormented the commander enough for one day.

"The cap'in decided to take Mal with him instead," Trip shrugged slightly.

"Oh," Hoshi said "You and the captain haven't had a fight or anything?"

"No," Trip frowned at the woman for a second "Why?"

"Nothing, it's just the two of you usually jump at the chance to go off on away missions, and well, as they were parts for engineering I just thought…" Hoshi seemed to suddenly notice the worried look on Trip's face and shook her head and smiled slightly "I mean, I'm sure it's nothing. Maybe he wanted to spend some time with Malcolm, or something."

"Yeah," Trip answered softly "Yeah, maybe he did. Thanks for the chat Hoshi, see you later." Trip got up from the table and walked away. His half eaten food completely forgotten.

His heart was beating more quickly in his chest then usual, he could feel it against his ribs. He stepped into the lift. 'Maybe he wanted to spend some time with Malcolm'. The words seemed to make an uncomfortable sort of sense. Now that he thought about it, Malcolm had started acting funny just before that away mission. It had gotten worse after it too.

Trip had suspected that Malcolm wasn't telling him something for some time. The Brit was never really good at lying to Trip, the commander could always tell. But the older man had pushed the thoughts away. Malcolm was never really one to share his feelings; Trip figured that when he was ready the lieutenant would tell him about whatever it was that was bothering him.

Trip's mind began bringing up memories of the last few weeks. Whenever Malcolm and Jon were in the same room together there had been…looks. They passed between the two men covertly, usually whenever Trip spoke. The looks held hidden meaning and laughter. They were laughing at him.

But why? A horrible thought crossed his mind.

Trip shook his head. No, they wouldn't do that to him. Malcolm loved him. The Brit wouldn't betray that love, it just wasn't him. As for Jon he was Trip's best friend, they were so similar at times that Trip had often wondered if you'd been separated at birth.

Suddenly a conversation he'd once had with the captain surfaced in his mind, making his blood run cold.

// "So, what about that guy over there then?" Jon's voice made Trip look up and follow his friend's finger.

"Six…and a half," Trip said slowly "Points for the ass, and the hair."

Jon laughed out loud "I'd give him six, the clothes are awful."

"What about her?" Trip nodded at a woman that sauntered passed their recliners; she stretched slightly and then dived into the pool in a single, graceful motion.

"Eight," both men said at once, then laughed again.

"I worry sometimes," Jon said softly.

"'Bout what?" Trip asked as he took a sip of his cool drink.

"You ever noticed how we tend to go for the same sort of people? What if we both fell for the same person?"

"Well, clearly they'd choose me and then you'd be heart broken," Trip smirked slightly making Archer smile back at him.

"We both have a terrible tendency to fall hard and fast, you ever noticed that?" Jon asked after a moment.

"Yeah, it's a problem, Ah'm working on it."

"I don't tend to think straight, when it happens. I wouldn't want to hurt you."

"Jon," Trip sat up and turned so that he was facing his best friend "Are you trying to tell me that you're in love with my Mah new girlfriend?"

Jon grinned "I haven't met her, Trip. So, how likely is that?"

Trip shrugged "Ah don't know, it's just…Do you rally mean to say that you'd steal someone I loved from me if you loved them too?"

"No, I don't think so…I mean I don't know, I just…" Jon frowned "Forget it, I'm being an idiot."

"No change there then," Trip said them yelped as Archer dumped the remainder of his ice cold drink over Trip's bare chest "I'll get you for that, Archer," Trip growled. Jon just laughed. //

Trip made his way into the armoury and found it empty. He frowned. Malcolm should be here. His shift had started over an hour ago and he knew that the lieutenant was only half way through checking the phasers. A slight feeling of panic rose inside Trip's stomach. He moved to a comm. panel on the wall and opened a channel.

"Tucker to the bridge."

"Yes, Commander Tucker?" T'Pol's steady voice answered.

"Is Malcolm there?" he asked feeling only mildly stupid for doing so.

"No," T'Pol answered.

"Well, he ain't here in the armoury either," Trip said after a moment "He's never late; it's pretty much recognised as one of the signs of the apocalypse."

"I'm sure that there's an explanation," T'Pol answered confidently.

"Yeah, could you tell me where he is? I'll go tell him that he's late."

There was a pause, then the Vulcan answered "Ensign Mayweather informs me that he saw the lieutenant and the captain enter the captain's quarters, approximately twenty minutes ago."

"Thanks," Trip cut the commutation.

He leaned heavily against the wall. His head was spinning. Trip wondered why it was so quite. Surly when your world falls down around your head there should be a noise. Some sort of explosion.

It couldn't be true. Not in a million years. But then it could. It did make a horrible sort of sense. It explained everything that had been happening in the last few weeks. Why Malcolm was avoiding him, why Jon didn't want to spend time with him. Why his lover and best friend had gone on an away mission together when it made more sense that Trip should go instead.

It was like an actual physical pain. Betrayal. Jealousy. Loss. Hate.

After about ten minutes or so, Trip managed to pull himself together enough to walk out of the armoury. He didn't really know where he was going, he was just walking. Somehow he ended up back at his own quarters; he keyed in his entry code and walked inside.

His blue eyes surveyed his darkened room. He didn't bother to switch the lights on; it seemed like too much effort. Instead he just walked over to his bed and lay down, fully clothed. He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling.

He didn't really feel anything now, just sort of numb. He figured that he should be angry, or hurt, or…something, but he didn't. Just tired. The commander didn't really want to move, ever again if at all possible. Not that it mattered much, he'd only just finished his shift, there was about twelve hours before he was due to start again.

He supposed that he should confront them both. It would be nice to see Malcolm beg him for forgiveness, not that he'd take him back of course. That struck Trip as very important. He wasn't the type of guy to hold grudges normally, but there some things that just shouldn't be forgiven. Ever. No matter what.

It was then that a very nasty thought struck him. What if Malcolm didn't want to stay with him? It was possible that the lieutenant was just waiting for an excuse to leave Trip for Jon. The humiliation would be unbearable. Every day he'd see everyone on Enterprise looking at him with such concern, asking if was okay every three seconds, all eyes turning to stare at him whenever Jon or Malcolm were near by. He could already hear the whispers as he walked down the corridors.

He'd have to transfer off the ship. He'd have to give up the job he loved so much, had worked so hard to get. Because of *them*. That made the anger surface slightly. It made some of the hurt make itself known too. They were willing to ruin Trip's entire life over this. For what? A quick thrill? If it was more than that, they should have said. Malcolm should have told him. Trip would have let him go. Sure it would have hurt like hell, but not like it did now. He would have at least been able to show his face again. He'd of been able to forgive them one day. He wouldn't have lost his best friend and lover in one foul swoop.

The commander must have fallen asleep at some point. He woke with a start. It took a couple of blissful seconds before he remembered what had happened. Then he felt slightly sick again. He got up off the bed and walked into his tiny bathroom.

After he'd washed his face and changed into some fresh clothes he walked out of his quarters. All he wanted was to forget about what he'd found out, just pretend that it hadn't happened, maybe go and see Malcolm and arrange a time to go and get dinner together. Or perhaps ask Jon if he wanted to go to the movie that was showing that night. But he couldn't. He'd lost them both.

Horrible images of the two men together entered Trip's head as he walked into the lift. The way Malcolm look during sex, his eyes full of lust. Trip hated the thought that Jon had seen the man he loved in that state. He closed his eyes and shook his head, hoping that it would clear the images. It didn't work.

He entered the mess hall, he wasn't hungry, but the thought of sitting and thinking about what Jon and Malcolm may or may not have done in all the time they'd been together was unbearable. The commander looked up and froze.

Malcolm and Jon.

Sitting together in a corner, talking and laughing. Trip suddenly began to feel all these things that he thought he should have been feeling earlier. Anger being the most prominent of those. His breathing had sped up and he clenched and unclenched his fists as he stood watching them as if rooted to the spot.

Jon lent over slowly and placed a hand on Malcolm's shoulder. He whispered something in the smaller man's ear and then his free hand went to Malcolm's right one which was resting on the table.

Something inside of Trip snapped. They couldn't even be bothered to hide it? That's how much they cared about him? They'd flaunt their betrayal in his face like this?

Tucker barely even noticed that he was moving, but suddenly he found himself standing at their table, his face a mask of barely controlled rage.

"Well, isn't this cosy?" his voice shook as he spoke.

"Hey," Malcolm stood up slightly, a smile on his lips.

"That's the best you could come up with?" the commander was on autopilot, he wasn't thinking about what he was saying, the words formed themselves. His lover's smile wavered slightly.

"What do you mean?"

"Ah, know!" anger was now coursing through his veins, making his voice rise.

"Know about what?" the armoury officer stood tall meeting the other man's gaze, uncertainty in those beautiful eyes, Trip shook his head.

"The little thing you got going on with Jon," he spat back, his breathing heavy "Oh, God, I can't even look at you, make me feel sick," Trip cast his eyes down.

"Trip," Jon had stood up now and was moving slowly toward him "Don't do this…you don't understand."

"What tha hell?" Trip was all but screaming now "What's the matter? Don't want me to cause a scene in front of everyone? Don't want them to know you've been fucking around with someone else's boyfriend?" Trip dimly heard a few surprised gasps. Malcolm closed his eyes briefly. "What's the matter, truth hurt?" he hissed at his lover.

"Me and Jon…?" his voice was small, as though not wanting to make real what Trip was saying.

"All those times we were together, and you said you loved me, what was that? Huh, Mal?" Trip reached out and grabbed a hold of the smaller man's arm "Lies? How long is it that it's been going on? All the time, or were there others? Travis maybe? Who else you been fucking behind my back? Tell me!"

"That's enough Trip!" Archer's voice was stern.

"Well, that's lovely," sarcasm dripped from the words "sticking up for his virtue now are you? Glad to see you care, I hate for you to have ruined my life for some cheap fuck," Trip whirled on his best friend "Was he worth it? I bet he was, feels good don't he? Bet you loved the sneaking around, you always got off on that. Where'd you do it? All over? Quick blow jobs while on duty, or was it more thought out, planned so that I was away?"

"Trip, just stop it!" Malcolm shouted back at him.

"No! Ah won't, I want to know. I wanna know how I ever let myself fall some sort of cheap slut. I really can't even bear to think of you." Trip finished with a grimace as he looked at the other man. Then he stood there breathing heavily and glaring at Malcolm, who now had a strangely serene look on his face.

"Are you done?" Malcolm asked after a moment.

"Oh no, Ah'm not done, I could keep this going for another good hour or so," the commander hissed back at him.

"Well, you can stop there," Malcolm answered softly "And answer me this question: what is it next Tuesday?"

Trip thought for a second before growling his answer "Mah birthday, but I don't—"

"Right," Malcolm agreed "And do you remember a conversation we had about it, around four weeks ago?"

"What the hell are talking about?" Trip demanded.

"You said," Malcolm continued as though he hadn't heard the interruption "That you hadn't seen your family on your birthday for the last four years or so. That you missed the huge parties you used to have," Malcolm paused for a second as though remembering something "You never really introduced me to them, I don't even know where they live. Jon does though. Your best friend knows where your family is. It made sense that he should be the one to ask them to record some birthday messages for you."

Trip suddenly felt the anger he was feeling leave abruptly and a feeling of cold dread replace it.

"It started with me needing a present for you. Something that you'd like. I had to ask to go on an away mission, the one that you were meant to go on. Me and the captain got talking about your birthday, got a little carried away I suppose. We thought that it'd be nice to make it really special for you. Then, well, it takes a lot to get organised, we needed a time and a place where all your friends could get together and have party to celebrate.

"But above all, it took time because I wanted it to be a surprise; I wanted you to be surprised. So," Malcolm brought up the hand that had been behind his back, a disk clasped lightly in the palm. In that split second the scene that the commander had witnessed replayed in his head with a different slant. Jon reaching over with a smile on his lips, placing one hand on Malcolm's shoulder, while the other one gently placed a disk into the armoury officer's right hand. Trip struggled not to faint "Happy birthday, commander. Oh," Malcolm looked up and met Trip's eyes "surprise," He finished softly as he handed over the small disk.

Then Malcolm was moving passed him and walking out of the door. Trip could only stand where he was, staring at the disk in his hand. What had he done?

Trip suddenly looked up from the disk in his hand. He deliberately avoided looking at the captain, but choose instead to look around at who else had been there to witness…what just happened.

Trip swore fluently. Why was it that very single person on the ship had decided to eat at the exact same time? He blanched slightly when he saw Mayweather staring dumbly at him. Oh God, the things he'd said…

Abruptly he wished that he were drunk. That way he'd not only have something to blame this whole thing on, but there would be a chance he wouldn't remember it the next morning. He wasn't drunk though, he was stone cold sober and he'd accused his captain and lover of sleeping together. When all they'd been doing was arranging a surprise birthday party for him. Because they loved him.

Trip looked up and met the green eyes of the captain "Oh God, Jon, I…"

"Do not say a word," Jon said. Trip had never heard Jon use that tone before, it was threatening, full of anger and a promise of retribution. "I think," he ground out, his jaw tight from suppressed anger "That you've said enough, I suggest you leave, before I do something that you'll regret."


"I said don't!"

Trip shut his mouth again. It was for the best, he didn't know what to say anyway. Jon was right, he'd said quite enough. He thought he should leave, but his body seemed to have stopped working. He closed his eyes as he remembered the way Malcolm had looked.

He wasn't sure what was worse. At the beginning when Malcolm had looked shocked and…Hurt didn't really begin to cover it; crushed might be a better word. Or the cool look he had given Trip as he left. Like the commander didn't matter in the slightest. Malcolm hadn't looked at him like that since before they'd gotten together.

"You can all carry on now," Archer barked, making Trip jump violently "Show's over, the commander won't be making any more baseless, and hurtful accusations tonight."

Crew members began to move, most of them totally unsure of what they should do. They seemed caught between wanting to get as far away as possible and wanting to stay and find out what might happen next.

"Jon, please—"

The captain spun on his heel, for a split second Trip thought that Jon was going to backhand him. Archer's right hand had flown up to behind his shoulder, but he caught himself just in time. The older man instead clenched his hand into a fist and brought it to his mouth; he hissed, "Don't Trip, you don't get to call me that anymore. Captain when we're at work. And when we're not I suggest that you stay the hell away from me." With this Trip's best friend stalked from the room.

Trip could honestly say that he had never felt more alone in his entire life. He looked around the room looking for ally, finding none. The whole room was just staring at him like he'd grown a second head. A repulsive second head.

Trip looked back at the disk in his hand again. Suddenly he regained the use of his limbs. And fled the room.


"I figured I'd find you here," the soft voice echoed around the empty room "It's where you come when you want to hide." Trip stepped into the armoury.

"When I need to think, I come here, yes." Malcolm didn't look up from his boots as he spoke. The lieutenant was sitting on the floor, his back against the wall, contemplating his boot clad feet.

"Oh God, Mal, Ah'm so sorry…what I did back there—it was…just awful. I—" Trip started quickly hoping to get his side of the story in before the impending fight began, but his lover cut him off with his quiet response.

"It doesn't matter."

"What? Of course it does! What I did was just terrible—"

Again the commander was stopped from finishing his sentence "No, that's not what I meant," Malcolm stood up. He met the scared blue eyes of the other man before continuing, "I meant it doesn't matter that you're sorry."

Trip felt panic rise in him again "Listen Mal, I know I was stupid, that I said some unforgivable things, but I was hurt…I thought I'd lost you, I wasn't thinking straight."

"Trip," to Tucker's horror he saw that Malcolm's eyes were shinning with tears "You called me a slut in front of people I'm meant to be in charge of. How am I supposed to go into work and give them orders and expect them to follow me, they won't even respect me."

"Mal, that's not true—"

"I can't lead men into battle that don't trust me," Reed looked down again, breaking eye contact "Why the hell should they be expected to trust me? When the only person who truly knows me thinks I'm fucking his best friend?"

"I—" Trip seemed unable to get out a complete sentence, but this time it was because he really had no idea what to say.

"It's easier than I thought," Malcolm didn't seem to be addressing Trip now, he was still looking at the floor, scuffing the tip of his boot over the smooth surface "You know," Reed looked up and watched Trip for second. In that moment the commander noticed the tears were gone, there was a calm there now. One that frightened Trip more than anything he'd ever seen "I used to think about this all the time," Malcolm continued, conversationally, "when we first got together. I was just waiting for the day when you'd wake up and realise what a hideous mistake getting together with me was. I was always waiting for you to up and leave, or to slip up and show that you really didn't love me like you said you did.

I used to imagine having to have this conversation with you. I'd imagine telling you that I never wanted to see you again. Not to try and see or talk to me. It used to make me feel physically sick. But it's easier than I thought."

Realisation dawned on the commander "Mal, listen to me, I know I was stupid, but you can't do this," Trip knew his tone was pleading, but at that point he couldn't seem to care.

"Well, I am. I don't want to see you Trip. Don't come to my quarters or try to speak to me."

"I can't do that, Mal. What we have, it's too special, I need you—"

"Well, that's great, Trip, but I have news for you." The two men's eyes locked "I don't need you. I don't want you. I certainly don't like you. And quite frankly, I think I may well hate you, so just get out of my armoury and leave me alone."

"No, Ah'm staying right here," Tucker sounded desperate now, his statement held no conviction at all "We have to talk. We can't just give up."

"Fine," Malcolm nodded. Trip felt a glimmer of hope. "Then, I'm leaving." The glimmer died abruptly.

The Lieutenant began to move passed the other man, but Trip tried again "Please," the plea was soft, almost broken. Trip dimly felt the tear fall down his left cheek.

Malcolm stopped by the door and turned back to face the other man "Goodbye, commander."

The door slid shut.


Trip went to try and talk to Malcolm the next day. He went to his quarters and rang the door chime. He got no answer. So he went back the next day, and the one after. He knew he was being pathetic, but he didn't care. All that seemed to matter was getting Reed to understand how sorry he was.

The rest of the crew were avoiding him. His team in engineering still followed his orders without any complaints, but that was all. Hardly anyone spoke to him unless it was work related. He ate alone in the mess hall. He'd stop every few mouthfuls and stare at the spot where he'd accused Malcolm and Jon. He'd make himself recall every single detail, just to remind himself what sort of person he was.

The rest of the crew's annoyance at him might have been more hurtful for Trip if he could feel it. But the pain he was in over losing Malcolm was all consuming. As was the fact he couldn't see Jon.

Trip hadn't tried speaking to the captain. He didn't want to have a fight with him. He didn't think that he could take it.

He couldn't exactly explain why he continued to try and see Malcolm, despite the fact the other man clearly didn't want to see him. But Trip would get this almost hysterical panic whenever he thought about never being with the other man again. He wouldn't let himself believe that they wouldn't get back together. It wasn't an option.

He also refused to believe that Malcolm didn't feel the same way about him. He just had to.

And so everyday Trip would go and ring on the lieutenant's door. Trip checked the time. Malcolm had gotten off shift about twenty minutes ago. The commander got up from the table and left the mess hall.

He was soon standing outside Reed's quarters and his hand went to the chime and he rang it. There was no answer, there never was. Trip rang again. Then again. On the fourth chime something new happened. The door opened.

Trip's heart stopped beating for second, then set off at a gallop. Malcolm stood in the doorway, dressed in lose black trousers and a dark grey top that clung slightly to his solid frame. Trip had never seen anything so perfect.

"Malcolm," Trip started softly.

"Don't make me file a complaint about you, Trip," the other man began, stopping Tucker before he'd even started the speech he'd been rehearsing since the night in the armoury. "I'll do it, if you don't stop this. If you don't stop harassing me, I'll complain to the Starfleet. I really don't want to retell the whole sordid affair, but that doesn't mean I won't. I mean it," Malcolm words were soft; there was no anger there, jus a gentle sadness.

"Malcolm, listen," Trip tried again.

"Go away," the request was simple and didn't even hold emotion. Tucker staggered back slightly, and then began to move away down the hall.

This was it. Trip knew from experience that it wasn't the anger and hate that you had to worry about when you had a fight. If hate was there it meant the other person still had strong feelings for you. While that was true, there was still hope. They still cared. Hate you could work with.

What you had to worry about was the point when hate faded to indifference. Once the person stopped caring whether you were alive or not, it was over.

Trip knew now that Malcolm wasn't irritated at him. Trip hadn't made his lover angry. Trip had made Malcolm fall out of love with him.

His legs gave out and he sat down on the floor of the corridor. With his back against the wall, and knees drawn up against his chest, arms folded over them, he buried his head into his arms and burst into tears.

He hadn't cried since they broke up, save for two or three tears as Malcolm had walked out of the armoury. He hadn't believed that it was over till now. The commander knew that crying in public was pitiful. Not that it mattered, everyone had already lost all respect for him, what did he care if they saw him break down?

Suddenly strong arms were hauling him to his feet. There was a muttered:

"Come on, commander." Before someone was leading him down the corridor.

Trip leaned heavily against the other person, not caring who it was or where he was going. As it turned out they ended up outside his own quarters. Trip reached up and keyed in his code and let himself be dragged inside. He was deposited on his bed.

"Travis," Trip said after taking in a shuddering breath "why are you here? I thought you were mad at me."

"Oh, I'm still mad at you," Mayweather began making some strong coffee as spoke "But I couldn't leave you in the middle of the corridor like that. It's not like I hate you or anything. You just screwed up," the other man seemed to consider his own words for a second "I mean, you really, really, screwed up."

"Malcolm doesn't hate me either," Trip mumbled as he rolled onto his back.

"Really?" Travis seem surprised at this "Well, then you're lucky, I guess."

"No," Trip shook his head, "you don't understand. He doesn't hate me. He just doesn't care."

"Ah," comprehension dawned on the ensign "I see. I'm sorry."

"Are you?" Trip asked as he took the offered cup, "I figured you'd all be jumping for joy, Ah mean Malcolm left me. Nothing less than Ah deserve."

"Right," Travis sighed, he seemed unsure of what to say. Caught between being pissed off and wanting to help someone so clearly in pain. In the end he settled on saying: "I'm on duty about…five minutes ago. I'll see you later," he stopped half way out of the door, "and commander?"


"It'll get easier."

Trip didn't believe him.


"You know," Jon said as he handed the other man a cup of tea, milk with two sugars "I sometimes wish we had."

Malcolm raised an eyebrow as he nodded his thanks "Had what?"

"Been having an affair," Jon answered as he sat down next to his friend.

"Why's that?"

"Well, at least we could have had some fun before the shit hit the fan."

The lieutenant laughed at this "Well, that's true," he sighed before continuing "At least all this would have happened for a reason."

"Is he still trying to see you?" Archer inquired softly after a moment.

"I'm not sure," Malcolm looked at Jon sadly "I think I finally got through to him that I don't want to see him."

"I'm sorry," Jon said "This—"

"I sincerely hope you aren't about to say this is in anyway your fault."

"Isn't it?" Jon asked.

"Of course it isn't," Malcolm placed the tea down on the floor and turned on the couch so he was facing Archer "In my more vengeful moments I think it's all Trip's fault. When I'm being honest I have to take some of the blame myself."


"He didn't trust me," Malcolm answered simply "I must have done something to make him think he couldn't."

Jon rolled his eyes "If we're playing that game, then I need some of the blame too. Trip didn't trust me either."

Malcolm half smiled "Well, I'm not sure there's enough blame to go round."

"In that case why don't we just blame Trip and be done with it?" Jon laughed half-heartedly.

"That would make everything much more simple."

"He's an idiot," Archer said, annoyance clear in his voice.

"Why in particular?"

"I can't believe that he managed to mess up so badly," Jon explained "He lost his best friend, the respect of his captain, and probably most of the crew, *and* he lost you."

"It is quite impressive. But, then, Trip was never someone who did things by halves." Jon didn't smile at Malcolm's attempt at a joke.

"But, what you had together, that was amazing," Archer continued "Why would he even risk that?"

"I don't know, I guess I wasn't that important to him," Malcolm seemed uncomfortable with where this conversation was going.

"Well, you should have been!" Jon stood up abruptly and walked over to his desk. Reed watched him for a second.

"We both should have been," he stood up and walked over to join the other man. "I have to go…"

Archer turned around to face his friend "You haven't finished you tea."

"Don't feel like it."

To the end of his days Malcolm couldn't explain what possessed him to pull the other man down into a passionate kiss. Nor could he explain why Jon kissed him back.

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