Title: Losing Control

Author: Kylie Lee

E-mail: KylieLee1000@hotmail.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/kylielee1000/

Date: 08/31/02

Length: ~8,000 words

Pairing: A/R

Type: M/M

Series/sequel: This fic has a sequel, Treading the Boards

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Archer, Tucker, and Reed embark on the rescue of a kidnapped woman. Flirting and snogging ensue. And sex.

Feedback: Yes, please

Archive: EntSTSlash, Archers_Enterprise

Disclaimer: Original material copyright 2002 Kylie Lee. Characters are Paramount's. They own it all. No money changed hands.

Comments: This is NOT in canon with my other stuff. This fic was not beta'd. It is a stand-alone story written in response to a challenge by Kalita to write a fic that uses the following lines: "Should I add this one to your body count?"; "Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do? whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"; "I wasn't expecting to walk into Yankee Stadium"; "You ain't gonna start swingin' no golf clubs or baseball bats now are ya?"; "You're always saying you want to share some quality time, well…I have the time, and you definitely have the quality"; and "You know I am a better (insert job title here) if I get laid in the morning." Yes, I managed to fit them all in.

*** 1

"Should I add this one to your body count, Lieutenant?" Captain Jonathan Archer's voice was amused.

Archer's armory officer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, holstered the phase pistol. "Yes, do," he answered dryly. "What does that make it? Three? I thought this compound was supposed to be lightly guarded."

"Three *is* lightly," Archer responded. "I thought you wanted to share some quality time with your captain, you and Trip. We're being kept too busy." He knelt by the stunned body of the guard and patted it gently. He removed three knives, some kind of pistol, and a heavy, metal, electronic stick of some kind. "Do you know what this is?" he asked, tossing it to Reed.

Reed surveyed it. It looked familiar. "A shock stick of some kind, I'd wager," he decided, taking it and activating it. He touched the tip to the ground and was rewarded with a little thud through his arm. It still had charge. He turned it off and stowed it the inside pocket of his leather jacket. It might come in handy. "Do you need help tying her up?"

"No, I've got it." Archer grunted slightly as he flipped the guard over onto her stomach and hogtied her with rope he had brought especially for this purpose. "Do you think anyone heard us?"

"Oh, now you ask," Reed sighed. "No. Where's Commander Tucker?"

"Over here," a voice said, not too loudly, and a moment later, Trip Tucker, the ship's engineer, hove into view. "I found her. Come on."

Tucker waited as Archer and Reed dragged the stunned body of the guard into an empty room, then followed him. The guard would come to in a few hours with nothing worse than the symptoms of a hangover: a bad headache and dehydration.

All three members of the crew of the starship Enterprise were wearing civilian clothes: jeans, T-shirts or sweaters, and jackets. It was important that if they were seen, nobody link them back to Starfleet. Reed had insisted that they replace their communicators and tricorders with commercial brands, rather than Starfleet issue, for the same reason. If they were captured and interrogated, it would throw their captors off the scent—for a while, anyway. They had landed on the planet in a rented shuttle, and Enterprise was in orbit around a nearby star system, not the one they were in. They had covered their tracks as thoroughly as they could, given their lack of time.

Tucker led them down a corridor, took a few turns that seemed random to Reed, and then pointed to a door. They were all absolutely silent. Reed deployed his tricorder. Two guards. He signaled this information to his fellow crew members, then held up a fist, shook it, and counted down: three, two, one. Then he phasered the door open, ran in, and took out the two surprised guards with a single stun blast, Archer and Tucker at his back. That was it. Clearly, they were not working with professionals here. Reed did a sweep.

"We're in," he said tersely, leaning out the door.

The woman they were there to rescue was in the room just beyond where the guards had been stationed, which had been fixed up as a kind of bedroom. "She's been drugged," Reed reported. Tucker stayed and guarded the door, peering out from inside the door frame, weapon drawn. Archer disarmed and tied up the unconscious guards, using, Reed was amused to note, some of his Scout skills.

Reed looked at the woman who had caused him all this trouble. The Olaxans looked human to him, but he had been assured that they were not. She was small and fine-boned, not quite five feet tall, blonde, and lovely. She was also the daughter of someone important to the Vulcans, and her disappearance three weeks ago out here in the backwaters of space had caused them quite some consternation, although the incident had been hushed up. The Vulcans had convinced Admiral Forrest that she needed rescuing, and Forrest had sent in Archer and crew—they were the only ship within light-years of where this woman was located. The Vulcans had handed over intelligence and her location, and now, here they were, ready to rescue her.

At the moment, their target was reclining in a cot. Reed took in the medical equipment on a tray pushed against a wall of the windowless room, then poked through it. He didn't know what most of the stuff was. He frowned at a pincer device, then set it back down and turned his attention to the prisoner they were here to rescue.

"Miss, can you hear me?" Reed asked, leaning down.


"Can you hear me?"

A hiccuping laugh. "Yes, I can hear you. Silly. What's your name? You're new."

"I'm Reed."

"Hello, Reed."

"And that's Archer."

"Archer," the woman repeated, taking him in.

"And Tucker's here somewhere."

Archer pulled the second guard out of Reed's line of sight and stuck his head through the door. "Ready?"

"Just about." Reed turned his attention to the woman. Her name was Lora, but he wasn't supposed to call her that. She was staring, transfixed, at Archer.

"Archer?" she asked.

"Yes, miss?" Archer looked at her curiously.

"Archer's quite good-looking, isn't he?" Lora asked, turning to Reed. "Very tall. Tall and strong."

"Yes, he is," Reed said automatically.

"Very, very good-looking," Lora repeated. She laughed again, low and thrilling. "I see you agree. Don't you agree, Reed?"

"Oh, absolutely." Reed met Archer's eyes. He did his best to look amused. Indeed, Archer was very, very good-looking. He had noticed that himself quite some time ago.

"Standing right here," Archer said, voice ironic.

Reed pulled Lora up and hauled her against his body. Her legs didn't want to hold her. He managed to get her arm around his neck and his arm around her waist. She was small and light, but she felt like a sack of potatoes. At least she didn't struggle.

"I could tell you agreed," she said in what she clearly thought was a conspiratorial whisper. "Is he your lover?"

Reed fought down a blush. "No, miss."

"Too bad." She giggled, then squelched it. "Sorry. Sorry. I can't think straight. I think they gave me something in my food. And they made my head hurt."

"I'm not surprised," Reed said.

"Are you coming or what?" Tucker's voice hissed.

"Miss, we're here to rescue you," Archer told Lora. "Your father sent us." He displayed proof: a heavy ambassadorial seal they had picked up at the embassy earlier in the day. Lora frowned at it. "Is it all right with you if we rescue you?"

Lora considered as Reed hauled her forward, into the room with the stunned guards. "Are you bad?" she asked at last. Archer exchanged a look with Reed. "No. We're good," he said, slipping the seal back into a pocket. He was clearly keeping it simple.

"You're not bad boys?"


"Because of your jackets." She reached over and tugged on Reed's leather. "They make you look bad." Lora began humming, then chanted, "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Bad boys, bad boys—"

Tucker turned to face them. "Malcolm, just stun her already," he said, impatient.

"It's not her fault. She's been drugged."

"Yeah, well, we need to get the hell out of Dodge, and quietly, so either you shut her up or I do it myself." Tucker was certainly touchy. Well, he was an engineer, not an escape artist, Reed reflected. He had come along because they needed his technical expertise to break into the compound.

"Don't hurt me. No stunning. I'll be good. I'll be good," Lora said, and giggled again. She clapped a hand over her mouth. Reed saw despair in her eyes. She couldn't control herself, and she was aware enough of her surroundings to know that she didn't like it. He knew just how she felt. He hated to lose control himself.

"Trip, take her," Reed ordered, passing her off to the taller man. He was in charge of this mission; he needed his hands free. He gestured to Archer, and Archer slid into the corridor. While he was gone, Reed checked the time and the status of the dampening field Tucker had set up to bollox up the recording devices that riddled the building. They were on schedule, and the device was still working.

"All right," Archer said, coming back a moment later. He had done a quick reconnaissance. "The coast is clear. Let's go."

Easy in, easy out, Reed congratulated himself a few minutes later. They had made it outside. They were within a five-minute walk of the rented car, walking as fast along the street as Lora would permit without actually carrying her, when they heard raised voices behind them. A moment later, a loud alarm went off, honking in hideously loud blasts every few seconds. Reed couldn't tell where the noise originated, but he assumed it was the lightly guarded compound they had just left behind. Their surveillance must be back up. Tucker had bought them almost enough time. Just almost. Not quite. Either that—or, more likely, they noticed that the devices weren't working and called in the cavalry.

"Damn it," Tucker swore, swinging around, not seeming to notice Lora as she fought to keep her balance. "Malcolm?"

Reed ran a quick scan. "We're cut off from the car. I see—two ahead, three behind."

"What now?" Archer asked, because Reed was in charge of the mission.

"We can't go forward or back, so we go up, down, or sideways," Reed snapped.

Archer took a look around. "Here they come." He had to shout over the din. Armed personnel wearing red uniforms spotted them and broke into a run. "Well? Which is it? Up, down, or side?"

"Side," Reed said, because the other two weren't options.

He boosted himself up over the high wall to his right at the same time Archer did. He heard Tucker swear, and then Lora's body sailed over the wall. Archer managed to roll his body under hers so she didn't hit the ground, and Tucker was next to them a moment later. They scrambled to their feet, Lora making a low whimpering sound she didn't seem aware of. They heard a whistle. The siren was still going off in loud bursts. Then suddenly it cut off. The silence was deafening.

"Well, hell, I wasn't expecting to walk into Yankee Stadium," Tucker said.

Reed turned around. They had just boosted themselves over the wall of what was clearly some kind of sports arena. It was deserted.

"Come on," he ordered, and he was running behind bleachers over to some kind of pit a few meters away. "In here. Quick. Come on." The four of them scrambled in just as a few of the red-clad warriors followed them over the wall. They crouched down, below the line of sight. It would only be a few minutes before they were caught.

Reed quickly surveyed the area they were in. It was apparently where players waited to go onto the field. He tugged at Tucker's arm when he noticed the door. He pointed at it and made movements with his fingers, miming a safecracker twirling an old-fashioned lock mechanism. Tucker eyed him, then the door. He knelt next to the locking mechanism and assessed it. A moment later, he turned to Reed and gave a thumbs-up. He could open it.

The suspense was going to kill him. Reed tore his eyes away from Tucker. Archer had Lora pulled close to his body, and one hand was over her mouth. Her eyes were wide and frightened as they met Reed's. He smiled at her in what he hoped was a reassuring way. They listened as the police crew searched the stadium. The voices were coming closer and closer.

Then there was a quiet thunk, the door slid open, and they slithered inside. Tucker shut the door silently behind them and locked it. The room smelled stale and musty—a typical locker room smell, Reed thought. They crouched in the darkness on either side of the door. Reed had his phaser pistol out. He thought it was still on stun, but he wasn't sure. There was no way to confirm it in the dark. They heard the call of voices and the pound of feet as the dugout area was searched. Someone tried the door. Luckily, Tucker had been able to open it without ripping out or disabling the locking mechanism, so there was no evidence where they had gone. Then there was a whistle and the sounds receded.

"Thank god," Archer said at last. He must have released Lora because she spoke.

"Thank you," she said. She sounded steadier. "How long have I been gone?"

"Three weeks," Reed said.

"That long?" Her voice was plaintive. "I've missed the exhibition, haven't I." It wasn't a question.

"I think that was the point," Archer said. "Trip, can you hit the lights?"

"Um, no," Tucker said. "I can't see a damn thing."

"Wait, I have a torch," Reed said, and he pulled it out and turned it on. He found the lighting controls and raised the lights. They were indeed in a locker room, which was in turn attached to some kind of facility geared to athletes. The four of them explored the area quickly. "We can spend the night here," Reed decided. "We can leave tomorrow morning, after the work cycle starts. That will give us traffic to hide in, and we can make it to the station and hire a new shuttle at the spaceport. Are you all right?" The last was said, concerned, to Lora. She looked awful.

"No," she responded. "No, I don't think so." She covered her mouth with her hand and looked desperate. She was clearly about to vomit, the aftereffects of the drugs, the excitement, and physical exertion after being stuck in a small room for three weeks.

Tucker looked sympathetic. "This way," he said. He began escorting her to the lavatory. "You two get some sleep," he tossed over his shoulder. "I'll take watch." The door swung shut behind them, abruptly cutting off sound.

"Sleep?" Archer asked, skeptical. "How much longer until morning?"

"Six hours," Reed replied absently.

"Well, we may as well make ourselves comfortable." Archer took off his jacket and made it into a pillow. He lay on his back and folded his hands on his stomach. After a moment, Reed sat down next to him. "I feel sorry for her," Archer said.

It took a moment for Reed to realize that he meant Lora. "Lora? Why?"

"She looks like the kind of person who hates to lose control, and we saw her out of control."

Reed made a noncommittal noise.

"She reminds me of you that way," Archer went on.


"You hate to lose control too."

Reed laughed. "I do at that. You're right."

"Would you relax? I won't be able to get any sleep if you don't unwind." Archer's hand reached up and patted him between the shoulder blades. Reed stiffened. "Oh, sorry. I didn't realize you disliked being touched."

"No, it's all right." It wasn't, but Reed didn't know what else to say. Archer touched most people: a hand on the shoulder here, a pat on the back there. But he didn't tend to touch Reed, now that he thought about it. Reed removed his own jacket, then realized it was too full of equipment and lethal weaponry to use as a pillow. He got back up and scrounged up a blanket and some clean towels. "I could only find one blanket," he said apologetically.

"We can share it," Archer said genially. "Can you dim the lights?"

Reed did so, then stretched out next to Archer. He put a rolled-up towel under his head. The floor was cold. He felt Archer move, and then the blanket fluttered over him too. "Thanks," he said, and he did his best to relax. It was hard, because Jonathan Archer was right there, and Reed's body wasn't handling his nearness very professionally. But if Reed was tensed up like a taut bowstring, Archer would certainly notice. Had noticed.

"Malcolm, is everything okay?" Archer asked a few minutes later. He sounded almost asleep.

Reed nodded, then realized Archer couldn't see him. "Yes," he said, but what he meant was, "No, you're too near and I can't think properly."

"Okay, good," Archer said, as if satisfied, and then, to Reed's horror, he turned on his side, facing Reed. "I can't sleep unless I'm warm," he said, his face a pale smear of white in the dark. "Come here." And before Reed could say a word, or leap up, or miraculously explode in a riveting case of spontaneous human combustion, Archer pulled Reed against him, turning Reed away from him, and put his arm around him, so they were spooned together. "You're very warm, Malcolm," Archer said sleepily. Reed had clenched when Archer touched him. "Relax."



"What?" "Jon. Call me Jon."

"Jon, please let me go."

"I'd rather not." Archer hitched his body closer, and Reed became aware that Archer was hard. Archer snuggled in next to Reed and exhaled, his breath ruffling Reed's hair. "That's more like it." Reed opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again. Archer gently ran his hand up and down Reed's body, his fingers rubbing gently along Reed's throbbing hardness through his jeans, then moving to stroke his stomach and chest under his T-shirt. He brushed his palm against a nipple, and Reed gasped slightly. He could feel the lingering traces of Archer's touch, ghosts of warmth. Then Archer's hand stilled, coming to rest on Reed's chest, and Archer gently thrust his cock against Reed's ass. "I thought you were interested," Archer said with satisfaction, and then he sighed and fell asleep.

*** 2

Reed met his own eyes in the mirror as he pulled on his T-shirt. He had just finished a quick shower. He was the last person to do so. Tucker had scrounged some food, so they had eaten, and they were preparing to leave. If Tucker found anything odd about his captain and the armory officer snuggled together as they slept, he hadn't said a word. Lora looked horrible and ill, but she seemed composed. She and Tucker seemed to have reached some kind of understanding, and she kept close to him. She trusted him, Reed realized.

There was just the little problem of his captain's overtures to him. Reed had noticed Archer watching him—had been watching him ever since he set foot on Enterprise. It had made him terribly self- conscious at first, but he thought he had gotten over that. Now he remembered the way Archer had pushed against him last night and the satisfaction in his voice when he said, "I thought you were interested." Oh, he was. He had thought Archer was watching him because he wasn't sure of him, but now—he had another, far more interesting interpretation. In the light of day, he wished he had pulled away last night. But in the darkness, it had seemed all right to allow Archer to touch him. Now Archer knew. And there wasn't anything he could do about it.

Reed sighed and ran wet fingers through his hair, spiking it. He may as well take this opportunity to be out of uniform to do something interesting with his hair. He had found some hair stuff in someone's locker and had borrowed it. The spiky look, coupled with his leather, made him look dangerous. He smiled: a bad boy. He rinsed and dried his hands, stowed the gear he had borrowed, and put the towel in a bin along with other dirty ones. They were doing their best not to leave traces, although microscopic traces of them—DNA, hair, skin—were likely everywhere. He pulled his leather jacket on; it was a few pounds heavier than usual because of all the gear. He surveyed the lumpiness of the jacket. He should probably get rid of some of the knives he had pocketed. Why did all the guards have knives? He decided it must be some cultural thing. He would have to discard much of this equipment anyway when they went through security at the spaceport. Maybe he could mail some of the stuff to himself, for his collection.

Suddenly, from one of the other rooms, he head a ruckus. He heard loud, surprised voices and the sound of banging and slamming. Lora's voice rose, high and thin, but he couldn't make out what she was saying. Reed slid out of the lavatory and followed the sounds. There was a thud, followed by a loud crash; then he heard the sounds of scuffling feet.

"There he goes!" he heard Archer cry, and the door flung open and a red-clad police officer pounded out, right into Reed's shock stick. The police offer dropped as if pole-axed, falling heavily on top of Reed and knocking him the ground, and a moment later, Archer, phase pistol drawn, was next to him. Reed pushed the man off him and Archer checked the man's pulse. "He's unconscious but alive," he reported. "That was one hell of a shock." Then he turned his attention to Reed. "You all right?" Archer held out his hand and Reed took it. Archer hauled him to his feet but didn't let go of his hand.

"I'm fine. Just spending some quality time with my captain," Reed said.

Archer held his eyes for a long moment, and Reed felt Archer's thumb gently stroke his palm. A thrill went through his body, focusing on his stomach and groin. Then Archer squeezed Reed's fingers, dropped his hand, and opened the door.

"Good work, there, miss," Tucker was saying as Archer and Reed entered.

He saw two red-clad police officers, or whoever they were, lying in a heap on the floor. Lora, breathing hard, was holding a bat. When she heard the door open, she whirled around, eyes blazing, bringing the bat up behind one shoulder, ready to swing. When she saw Reed and Archer, she relaxed, but, he noted with approval, she didn't let go of the bat.

"Everything all right?" Reed asked, raising his eyebrows.

"You missed some of the excitement," Archer said.

"I see that," Reed responded. "Is everyone all right?"

Tucker knelt beside the officers. "Our kidnappee surprised 'em, and I stunned 'em."

"Oh, call me Lora," she said, tired. "It's all right. I won't take offense. Can we go?"

"I think we'd better," Tucker responded. "But—you ain't gonna start swinging no golf clubs or baseball bats, now, are you?"

Lora looked down at the bat still in her hand and laughed, a short, surprised sound. "No," she said, and she dropped it. "A month ago, I was an unknown artist with a 3D exhibition slated at the most prestigious hall on Tyros, and now look at me. Kidnapped, drugged, saved. I missed the exhibition. My career is over before it ever began." Her eyes were wet. "Damn. Sorry." She wiped her eyes. "At least I didn't miss the vote. But it's very hard for me not to feel resentful toward my father right now."

Reed decided he liked Lora. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"I'm sure that's why I was kidnapped, why I missed the show. That show meant everything to me, to my career. I was kidnapped by his political enemies only to suffer a personal disappointment that doesn't affect my father in the least." She took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. "Sometimes, I hate being somebody's daughter. I'd prefer to just be me."

"Look, we'd better make tracks," Tucker said. "If these guys don't report back to base or wherever, they're going to be missed, send out a search party."

They made their way out of the locker room, then the stadium. At Reed's insistence, they abandoned the rented car and took a taxi to the shuttleport. Then there was some negotiation as Archer rented a new shuttle while Lora, Reed, and Tucker got something to eat. It hadn't gone exactly to plan, but at least everything had worked out all right, Reed reflected. The best part was, they had the cooperation of the person they had been sent to save. That made things much, much easier.

They boarded the shuttle separately—first Reed and Tucker, then Archer and Lora—and an hour apart. Then Archer, who pulled rank to get to pilot, got in the queue to leave, and they were off.

*** 3

"I'm going to get some sleep," Tucker announced as soon as Archer had set the autopilot. "How long do we have?"

"Twelve hours," Archer said. That was their travel time to the planet around which Enterprise was orbiting. The plan was to transfer Lora and Archer to Enterprise, and Reed and Tucker would land on the planet, return the shuttle, get their damage deposit back, and then have Travis Mayweather come down and get them.

"Lora?" Tucker asked. "You need some sleep too?"

"Oh, yes, please." Lora looked haggard. Apparently she had been up, ill, much of the night, the aftereffects of the drug that had kept her docile for several weeks.

"Come on. There are bunk beds. Do you want a top bunk?" Tucker winked at Reed and held the door open for her. He sounded bright and cheerful. Reed blessed him. Tucker was good with women.

Tucker's and Lora's voices faded as they retreated to the small bedroom with four tiny bunk beds. There was also a small galley and a lavatory.

"Do you want to get some sleep as well?" Reed asked Archer. "I'll stay on watch if you like."

"No, I'm fine."

"I'm wondering about Lora," Reed said, settling back in the copilot's chair. "She was lightly guarded, likely because she was drugged—so the guards were to keep her in, not us out. But what about the police force? And the motive—I don't buy the motive."

"I wondered about the police too. I think it was just that we broke into the building, broke the law. My feeling is that it's separate from the kidnapping."

"But why go to all this trouble, just so she misses some art exhibition?"

Archer shrugged. "It does seem odd, but the mission was successful, so I'm not going to worry about it."

"What was that vote she asked about?"


"She said she hadn't missed the vote, but that she had missed the exhibition."

Archer shook his head. "I don't know. Maybe her father is voting on something in senate? I'll let the bigwigs back home sort it all out." He turned and faced Reed. "Anyway, I'd like to talk to you."

"What about?" Reed asked.

"You're always saying you want to share some quality time," Archer joked. That had been the running joke between the three of them for this whole mission. "Well…I have the time, and you definitely have the quality." He stood up and pulled Reed out of his chair. Reed's heart began to accelerate. "Yes, definitely quality," he murmured, tugging gently on Reed's leather jacket. "I really like you in that jacket, by the way."

"Thank you," Reed managed.

"Malcolm?" Archer asked.

"Yes?" Reed tried to keep strangled panic out of his voice.

"Why are you playing so hard to get?" Archer was incredibly near, hand still on a lapel of Reed's jacket. "I'm starting to think you're not interested." He pulled Reed a step closer. "Are you—not interested?" He slid his hands inside Reed's jacket and around Reed's back. "Because you seem interested to me."

"I'm interested," Reed responded, because it was obvious he was.

"Good." Archer leaned down and Reed's stomach jumped. He was certain Archer was going to kiss him. But he didn't. Archer whispered in his ear instead. "I wish you would demonstrate your interest. I hate making the first move." Archer shifted his hands down slightly. Reed smiled despite himself. Archer's presence was warm and electric. "I would hate to try to seduce a superior officer, only to be rejected," he said. "It's so difficult to regain the proper footing after that."

"What makes you think you would be rejected?" Archer asked.

Reed considered that. "Good point." Reed reached out his own hands and grasped Archer's hips, pulled him close. They were both hard. Reed felt a pulse of anticipation as he made his decision, and then he leaned up and kissed his captain. They tested each other gently, tongues playing. Archer tasted hot and sweet. Their mouths nibbled and licked.

"Oh. Yes," Archer said, and he pulled Reed tight against his body and deepened the kiss. "I thought so."

"Thought so what?" Reed asked a long few moments later. He was breathless.

"I thought there might be something between us. I thought that when you first came on board, when I first met you." Archer leaned against the console of the shuttle and spread his legs, making himself a little shorter, and pulled Reed between them. Reed pressed against Archer, groin against groin, and slid his hands up Archer's chest and around his neck. "I see there is," Archer whispered, arms tightening around Reed. "Lora saw it too." Then there was silence as Reed kissed him, and Archer kissed him back.

They lost all track of time as they leaned into each other, mouth against mouth. They were both hard, but there was no urgency. They were just exploring each other. The shuttle was too small, too intimate for anything else. Archer's hands were on Reed's ass, rotating it gently, pressing the ridge of Reed's erection against Archer's, and the only sounds were the sounds of kissing and the small, encouraging noises of pleasure and interest that went with it.

The world had narrowed its focus to only the two of them and the sensation of mouth on mouth, so it was a surprise when Tucker's voice said, "I hate to disturb you two lovebirds, but are we being followed?"

Archer dropped his hands from Reed's ass, and Reed pulled away from Archer. Reed knew he was blushing. Archer wasn't. Reed stepped to one side.

"Followed? What makes you say that, Trip?" Archer asked.

Tucker looked from Archer to Reed, amused, and Reed wiped his mouth. Reed did his best to look professional and interested. "Well," Tucker began, "Lora fell right asleep and I got to thinking that it was just a little too easy, our breaking her out, and as I pondered that, I was looking out that little window in there, and I noticed another shuttle. It was still there ten minutes later. So I figured we were being followed. It's too close," he added unnecessarily.

Archer turned to the controls, presumably to check out their tail.

"Oh, bloody hell," Reed muttered as something clicked.

"Bloody hell what, Lieutenant?" Tucker asked.

"In the room she was in where we found here. There was some medical equipment. There was this—this pincer device there, and I just realized it was an implanter."

Archer looked over his shoulder, confused.

"The vote! The vote!" Reed cried. "We were meant to rescue her! We—or whoever. They let us take her." He grabbed at Tucker's belt.

"Whoa, Malcolm," Tucker said. "I like girls. Stick with the captain there."

"No, your tricorder," Reed said, ignoring Tucker. He freed the device with an impatient pull and raced to the little bedroom. He flipped it open and scanned Lora, who awoke with the crunch of the three men craning up to look at her in her top bunk. "Look, see," Reed said triumphantly a moment later, waving the tricorder at them.

"What's wrong?" Lora asked.

"Do you have an implant in your head?" Reed asked her.


"An implant. In your head. Some kind of little machine."

"No, of course not. Whyever would I?" Lora sounded confused. "Well, you have one now." Reed showed her the tricorder.

"What is it?" Lora asked, touching the output with a finger. "It's small."

"I think it's a bomb," Reed said. "Look, see the tripolymer construction here, and that bit of platinum, which triggers the explosive—"

"Malcolm," Archer said warningly.

"Sorry." Reed focused. "Captain, why don't you pilot this shuttle, keep an eye on our tail. And, Lora, please, tell me about this vote."

Lora did. Reed summed it up, leaving out the political implications, which he considered irrelevant. "So you will be there at the vote, representing your father's consort and thereby the women of your district—"

"Because my mother is dead. Yes."

"And everyone will be there: the president, both branches of the Electorate, and the Prime."


"And then you blow up, and they all die."

"Well, can you get this damn thing out of me?" Lora didn't look as much scared as angry.

"I can't, but I'll wager our doctor could." Reed looked at the tricorder readout again. "Trip, what do you think?"

"I'm not a doctor, Malcolm, I'm an engineer." But Tucker took the tricorder from him. "Yeah, it's not too far in, and it's up through the nasal cavity. Easy access."

Lora touched her nose gently. "I thought I broke it or something during the struggle, when they took me," she said quietly. "Then—who's after us? Because it's clear that I was meant to be taken."

"Maybe they're making it look good," Tucker theorized.

"And maybe it's the cops," Archer said from the doorway. "In fact, it is. They're apparently still mad about the whole breaking-and- entering thing. I doubt they even know about Lora."

Reed sighed. He hated it when things spun out of control like this. "Right, then. Here's what we'll do—"

He didn't get any further than that, because someone shot at them, and then things happened fast. They all scrambled into the cockpit area, and Archer took evasive maneuvers. Reed, clutching a handhold, used the com to try to contact Enterprise, to ask them to warp on over and save the day, but he couldn't get through. They took another hit, and Tucker was unfortunately next to a console when it blew up, although Reed couldn't tell how badly he was hurt. Tucker swore a lot, so it probably wasn't as bad as it could have been. Then Lora darted in front of him at the com system and keyed in a code.

"This is Lora Falcon, daughter of Elector Darius Falcon," she announced in an imperious voice. "I demand to know why you are shooting at my shuttle. Stop immediately."

To Reed's surprise, the barrage stopped. There were a few moments of silence. Archer continued his evasive maneuvers, sending debris flying. Tucker groaned. Reed's stomach was starting to get queasy from all the pitching.

The com crackled. "Darius Falcon?" a male voice said doubtfully.

"Indeed," Lora said with asperity. She rattled off some kind of key code. "I am ill and my crew are bringing me to a medical facility on Benig Three."

Another silence. Then: "Lora Falcon, that code is valid," the same voice said, more confidently. "However, your, um, crew is wanted on charges of breaking and entering, trespassing, and willful destruction of property."

"Certainly what they do in their spare time is of little concern to me," Lora said dismissively, and Reed stifled a hysterical giggle. "I'm sure your government would hate to see an interplanetary incident begin over such a trifle. I'm sure I would be pleased to pay for the damage, their fines, whatever else you think appropriate. I will also discipline my crew. Myself."

Archer, encouraged at this turn of events, righted the shuttle.

This time, the silence was longer. "We will escort you down to the surface of Benig Three," the voice said at last.

"Can you expedite the trip?" Reed asked her quietly. "Because in addition to getting that bomb out of your head, I think Mr. Tucker needs medical assistance too."

Lora took care of it. Within two hours, Lora and Tucker were offloaded into a faster shuttle and rushed to the hospital, and Reed and Archer, although not actually arrested, were detained for several hours and questioned closely. An elderly woman who turned out to be Lora's lawyer met them there and took them in hand. Then they were released and instructed to show up the next day for some kind of hearing, which the lawyer assured them was merely a formality, and that the charges would be dropped because the damages had been paid. Nobody said a word about all the guards they had stunned and hogtied. Reed didn't volunteer that bit of information.

At long last, Reed and Archer were deposited by the lawyer onto the street with the directions to a good hotel and a credit chit. Archer found a public com next to a scenic park and managed to contact T'Pol on Enterprise. While he talked, Reed sat on a bench and relaxed, watching the people go by. It was getting late.

"Hungry?" Archer asked, settling next to him.

"Yes. You?"

"Yes." Archer ran his hands through his hair. "T'Pol reports that the Elector is happy with the way the mission turned out. Therefore, so are the Vulcans. I sent T'Pol the information about the device in Lora's head, and she's forwarding it to Phlox. I imagine that if he thinks the doctors here can't remove it, he'll come down and do it himself. And Commander Tucker is going to be fine. He checked in a few hours ago. We'll be picked up tomorrow at the shuttleport after the hearing."

"I like away missions," Reed said cheerfully. He drew his jacket a little closer. It was much lighter now. All the equipment had been confiscated during his interrogation, including that nifty shock stick. At least he looked less lumpy.

"Come on, let's go get some dinner and find ourselves a hotel room." Archer stood up and held out a hand, and Reed took it. Archer smiled at him and squeezed his fingers. They walked, side by side, close together, chatting companionably. It was almost like a date: dinner and drinks in an intimate restaurant, with a most attractive man.

Yes, Reed was quite happy at how it all had turned out.

*** 4

After dinner, slightly tipsy, they couldn't get in the hotel room fast enough. Archer couldn't make the key card work properly in his fumbling fingers, and Reed had to rescue it. Then Archer shut the door firmly behind them and locked it. He set the key down on a desk and pulled something out of an inside pocket and stuck it in the nightstand.

"Always be prepared?" Reed asked. He was pretty sure he knew what that stuff was.

"What can I say. I was an Eagle Scout. Not quite as good a one as you, of course, but an Eagle nonetheless." Archer removed his jacket, then held Reed's eyes with his own. There was a question there.

Reed answered it. He removed his jacket and hung it up. But he didn't stop there. He stripped completely. Then, nude, he rubbed his body against Archer's fully clothed body. He reached out with his hands and undid Archer's jeans, baring Archer's erection, then slid a hand up underneath his shirt. He pressed his chest and groin against Archer's, bare skin against bare skin, and pulled Archer's head down. "I'd like you inside me," he said, almost conversationally, and kissed him hard.

Archer's hands slid around and caressed Reed's ass. His mouth was hot. They kissed for a long time, Reed tugging at Archer's clothing, until Archer was nude too. Archer's body was as magnificent as Reed had suspected: broad shouldered, shoulders tapering to waist, lightly haired chest, impressive muscle definition. This time, because they knew they didn't have to stop at kissing, they let the heat between them escalate. Then Archer tugged the covers of the bed back with one hand, the other hand busy on Reed's body.

Archer's hands pushed him onto the bed. "On your back, Malcolm." Reed wiggled down slightly so his head wasn't so close to the head of the bed and relaxed against the pillows. He didn't say anything; he just looked at his captain.

"I want to see you come. I want to fuck you face to face." Archer reached into the nightstand and grabbed lube and a condom. Reed smiled. He had been right. "Here," Archer said, handing Reed the condom. "Put it on me."

Reed obediently ripped it open, but Archer saw the question in his eyes. Archer leaned over and nuzzled the crook of Reed's neck with his face before settling himself between Reed's legs. "I don't want to come too fast. This will reduce the sensation."

Archer watched Reed as Reed took the round disk of plastic and stuck his fingertips in it. He pushed slightly, saw that it was the wrong way around, and then flipped it around. Reed smoothed it over Archer's cock, enjoying the hardness and largeness of Archer's erection. Now that he had made a decision, it was irrevocable. Reed was trembling inside with excitement. It felt good to not hold back, to not hide his reactions. Archer spread lube on his sheathed cock, pushed Reed back down gently, then covered Reed's body with his own as he kissed him.

"I can't wait to fuck you," Archer said softly. "I want to watch you come. I want to watch your control break." He kissed Reed again. Reed wrapped his arms and legs around Archer and pulled his warm body as close as he could. His hands wandered down and cupped Archer's ass. Archer's cock was weirdly cold against his skin, a combination of condom and slick lube.

Then Archer put his hands on Reed's chest and drew his body back between Reed's legs. Reed reluctantly uncrossed his legs, and Archer knelt between them. He pushed Reed's legs up so that the soles of Reed's feet faced the ceiling, then leaned down and delicately licked the rim of Reed's asshole. The feathery touch tickled and Reed flinched, so Archer licked harder, tongue swirling around and then sliding inside just a centimeter or two. "Tell me if you like this," Archer said after a minute or so.

"I don't know if I like it," Reed gasped. The sensation was erotic, but the ingrained feeling that putting a mouth there was wrong was overriding the pleasure.

"Then I'll stop," Archer said. There was a sucking sound from the lube container as Archer squirted some more in his hand. Archer spread the lube around Reed's asshole, then reached his slick hand over and lightly grasped Reed's cock, spreading lube there too. "Relax now," Archer ordered. Then Archer positioned himself and sheathed himself inside Reed. He embedded himself fully in one movement, then leaned over Reed's body, supporting his body weight with his hand on the mattress beside Reed's body. "Oh, god, you're tight." Archer placed a hand at the base of his own penis and withdrew slightly, then squeezed hard at the base until he had control again.

Reed shut his eyes for a moment and considered the sensation of being filled by Archer. There was pain where his sphincter was overstretched—likely he would bleed a little—but he consciously relaxed and that helped a lot. Then Archer gently began thrusting, and Reed forgot about the pain. Archer's large cock stroked that place deep inside, sending sharp, hard pleasure directly to his groin.

"Tell me how you want it, Malcolm," Archer said.

Reed met Archer's eyes. "Hard," he said. "I want it hard."

"I don't think I can last long with hard."

"I'm not going to last long either," Reed gasped.

Archer made a circle with his thumb and forefinger and wrapped it around the base of his cock again. His eyes were on Reed's as he pushed in slowly, then pulled almost all the way out. Then his eyes half-closed as he pushed in and withdrew, hard and fast, and then waited a moment and did it again.

Reed, feet in the air, moaned when Archer's cock stroked his prostate. Archer was so large that it was being continuously stimulated, and the friction as Archer pushed in and withdrew was sending waves of pleasure through his body. Reed grasped his own lube- slick cock. He couldn't last much longer.

"Tell me how you feel, Malcolm," Archer gasped.

"Jon, please. Hard. Hard." He was so close. It felt incredibly good. Why had Archer stopped? "Please."

"Shit, Malcolm." Then Archer took a deep breath, presumably to muster self-control, and began pounding Reed in earnest, his eyes never leaving Reed's. Reed's hand frantically massaged his own cock, stroking and squeezing in time to Archer's smooth, regular strokes. The pleasure blazed, then culminated. Reed's orgasm ripped through his body, stunning him with its intensity. His cock, balls, and prostate all throbbed with sustained pleasure. He lost all sense of time as he rode the crest of his orgasm, and Archer rode him through it, never breaking his rhythm, his cock hard and huge inside him. He heard himself crying out, and he felt warm wetness against his stomach and hand as his cock jetted over and over again.

Then Archer stopped thrusting and pulled himself out abruptly. "Oh, god," Archer gasped. "Malcolm, that was quite a performance." He quickly removed his condom. "Your hand. Stroke me with your hand."

Reed, dazed, obliged, spreading lube, along with his own warm come, onto Archer's hot cock. "You haven't come."

"I wanted to wait for you." Archer's eyes were locked on his. "I can't believe I didn't come when you did. God, you looked so sexy. So out of control. And all for me." He used a hand to position his cock, and he slid inside Reed again. "I want to come inside you without the condom." Without preliminary, he began thrusting. "Oh, god. I'm so close." He slid his free hand around Reed's hip and under his ass and continued his thrusting. "You're keeping me right on the edge." His hand pushed up, slightly changing the angle of Reed's ass, and he thrust in and out, squeezing and rotating Reed's ass to maximize his pleasure. "Oh, god. Yes. I'm coming." His movements changed from regular thrusts to a deep, lengthy push in followed by a short pull back, then a deep upward movement again. "Oh, god, Malcolm," Archer gasped, and he repeated Reed's name over and over as his body began a rhythmic to-and-fro jerking.

Reed watched as Archer orgasmed, feeling Archer push deep inside but unable to feel the pulse of his coming. Archer stayed inside him for what seemed like a long time, thrusting strongly; then he pulled out again and rubbed his cock against Reed's groin and stomach. The last few jets of come pulsed hot against his stomach as Archer stroked himself. Reed would never have imagined that Archer was so demonstrative, so vocal, so selfish in his pleasure. The way he had rotated Reed's ass to maximize sensation—well, it had been intensely erotic. Reed curled his hand around Archer's large cock as Archer panted and moaned his last. Then Archer collapsed on top of him and pressed his face in the crook of Reed's neck, breathing hard. Reed wrapped his arms and legs around him, and their hearts thudded together.

"Oh, god, Malcolm," Archer whispered. "That was incredible."

He kissed Reed, then rolled off him, turning onto his side and turning Reed to face him. He rested against the pillow next to Reed, forehead to forehead, and gasped for a few seconds. Then there was silence as they recovered, Archer tenderly kissing Reed on the lips and eyelids, then pulling back to pant. It took Archer a long time to regain his composure. The sight of Archer coming, the sight of Archer so moved afterward—Reed knew he would love to provoke that reaction again.

Reed shivered slightly, and in response, Archer drew the sheet up across their bodies and tugged Reed close, twining their legs. "Big day tomorrow," he said, stroking the side of Reed's face. "Our hearing."

"We should get some sleep."

"Oh, must we?"

"You know, I'm a better armory officer if I get laid in the morning," Reed teased.

"It's important to me that my crew members live up to their full potential," Archer said virtuously. He kissed Reed gently, then stroked a hand up and down Reed's body, which was now warming. His hand gently tweaked Reed's softening dick, then traveled up his chest. "I could get used to you in my bed, Malcolm," Archer said. "I could get used to watching your face when you come. Sometimes I used to watch you as you sat at tac and imagined what you would look like when you came."

"Really?" Reed asked, surprised.

"You look so quiet, so controlled," Archer explained. "I wanted to break that quiet."

"Well, you have. And did my real reaction meet with your approval?"

"Oh, yes," Archer breathed. "There is no comparison. The real thing is much, much better. And the best thing is—" He gently tongued Reed's ear—"The best thing is, I made you lose control. I made you come. I did that."

Reed smiled to himself. Archer sounded delightfully proud. "You did indeed," he responded. He lay so he was on his back and turned his head to face Archer. "Would you like to watch me lose control again?"

"Yes. Yes, I would."

"Then touch me here. And here." Reed's eyes half-closed in pleasure. "Yes, that's it. There. Oh, god, Jon. Yes."

And then they lost all sense of time as they explored one another's bodies again, the pace leisurely this time, all the pent-up energy of the last few months of longing looks and concealed desire exploding in a cascade of sensation.

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