TITLE: Gallows Walk 2


E-MAIL: scarab@blueyonder.co.uk

URL: http://www.lookout2.com/nautika/sara/

DATE: 12/11/02

SUMMARY: Trip's thoughts on what happened to Malcolm and Archer.

SEQUEL TO: Gallows Walk 1

PAIRINGS: Reed/Tucker…although Archer is in it alot!

RATING: PG-13…to be on the safe side…some swearing!

ARCHIVE: My page on Nautika's site, thanks Nautika, the list archive and anywhere else, just remind me where it's going as I've got the brain of a goldfish!

WARNINGS: Major spoilers for 'The Communicator',

FEEDBACK: Yes please, it helps feed the bunnies!

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is also dedicated to Nautika who is still putting up with me taking the michael out of Malcolm in our recent messages. I hope you enjoy it!

DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately I don't own Enterprise or her crew, Paramount does (although Trip is always welcome as I can offer him a very good home!)

I lay awake staring into the darkness, my thoughts on the man whose nightmares had woken me. It's been almost a week since Malcolm and the Captain had almost been hung for being enemy spies and like the bruises on their faces, Malcolm's nightmares are beginning to be less frequent. Except for tonight. I had calmed him and he now sleeps peacefully draped across my chest, but although I'm tired I can't sleep. I wish Malcolm would tell me about his demons, let me help but he doesn't and when he's awake he tells me he's fine.

Finally realising that I'm not going to sleep I decide that, as Malcolm seems to be settled, I'll go to the messhall for some milk. I slowly disengage myself and pull on some sweat pants and a T-shirt and giving Malcolm one last look, leave the room.

The messhall is as I expect it to be, quiet and as I walk over to the dispenser to get the milk, I hear something and turn to see the Captain looking out of the viewport.

"Sorry." I say thinking that I had disturbed him. He doesn't seem to hear me and continues to stare blankly into space.

"You okay Cap'n?" I walk up to him, cautiously aware that something seems to be bothering him.

"What?" He suddenly seems to realise that I'm there, "Oh Trip, couldn't you sleep either?"

He stands with his arms wrapped around him and I see the shadows under his eyes.

"No," I decide to take a chance, "Nightmares do that to ya,"

He looks startled and concerned, "You're getting nightmares?"

"Not me. Malcolm." I pause and sip my milk, "He told me that you tried t' save him, that you offered your life for him."

"I'm his Captain, it's what I should do," he returns his gaze to the stars.

"Is that what your nightmares are 'bout?"

"I'm not getting nightmares," he smiles slightly but I've been his friend long enough to see through it.

"Jon, I'm your best friend, I've seen you at your best and Hell I've seen you at your worst, you can tell me anythin', maybe I can help."

"There's nothing to tell, I'm fine."

"Bullshit." I find I'm angry and putting down my milk, I turn him to face me. "Look at yourself. You've not been sleeping since you got back." he doesn't answer me, "You know somethin' Jonathan Archer, you're one stubborn sonofabitch, just like Malcolm. He won't tell me 'bout his nightmares either!"

"So how do you…" he trails off at my expression and smiles shyly at my raised eyebrows.

"It's difficult t' hide a nightmare when you're sharing your bed"

For awhile there is a silence between us and I wait for him to break it.

"We could have really died." his voice is quiet, "When I felt that noose around my neck, I realised that we were really going to die and that I would have killed Malcolm."

"You would not have killed Malcolm, those bastards down there would have done that."

"I would have let you down," he continues as if he hasn't heard me. "How would you have forgiven me for killing Malcolm?"

He looks at me, begging forgiveness and I see the tears in his eyes. I also see the guilt and, for the first time, I really understand the burden of command and realise there is no need for words.

"C'mere" I pull him into a hug and as his arms wrap around me he finally lets go and the tears begin to fall. I know I'm getting a wet shoulder, but I don't care, Jon Archer is my best friend and if this is all I have to suffer for him to finally let go of his hurt, fear and guilt, I'll pay that price. After a few minutes the sobs subside and he pulls away, his eyes red and puffy and he smiles.

"Thanks Trip, I really needed that."

"You wanna talk now?"

He nods and we sit and talk about everything and anything, his hopes and fears for his crew and our mission until he starts to yawn.

"I think it's time you hit the hay, Cap'n," I say as I stand, "and I'd better get back to Malcolm"

"Thanks Trip."

"Hey, what are friends for." I shrug as we leave the messhall.

As I walk back into my quarters, I notice Malcolm stirring and slide back into bed with him. He opens his eyes and looks up at me.

"I woke up and your were gone." he says and I feel a pang of guilt.

"Went t' get some milk, Jon was there."

Malcolm sits up, my expression telling him far more than words ever could.

"Is he alright?"

"I think he is now." I yawn and pull Malcolm into the warmth of the blankets with me.

"I think we both are," Malcolm smiles and kisses me gently before settling himself and as I drift off to sleep I think he might be right.

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