Title: Honest Attraction

Author: Perpetual Motion

Email: iwannabedonna@yahoo.com

URL: http://www.geocities.com/iwannabedonna

Date: 12/15/02

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Summary: Jon likes Malcolm. Trip thinks Malcolm likes Jon. Jon finds out if he's right.

Beta: As always, mad love and marriage proposals to Julian Lee who's proofreading was fantastic and comments inbetween were hysterical. But really, dear, I insist *you* take the cat.

Spoilers: Minefield

Comments: Okay, so it took awhile, but at least it's here. Most likely will have a sequel; we'll see when it gets done.

Archer stood by the door in Sickbay and waited while Phlox finished working on Malcolm's wound. He rubbed his face and sighed as he replayed the day in his head. The ship exploding. The mine attaching to the hull. The mine attaching to the hull *through* Malcolm's leg. The hull detaching from the ship. His detaching Malcolm from the hull. Then, the explosion. Then the launch bay, and now Sickbay. Where Malcolm was being fixed up and Jon was trying to get his hands to stop shaking from adrenaline and residual fear.

Phlox walked over, smiling. "I've fixed it up the best I can. Some physical therapy will be in order for some muscle tissue I couldn't fix completely, and he'll be on some mild pain medication for a few days, but he's perfectly healthy otherwise."

"What kind of physical therapy?"

"Repetitive exercises mostly. Maybe some swimming."

"We don't have the facilities for swimming on board."

"I'm aware, but perhaps if we find a place with facilities you could see fit to stopping. It's been awhile since anyone has had shore leave."

Archer had to grin at Phlox's blatant hint. "We'll see, Doctor. May I see him now?"

Phlox nodded. "Of course. But make it short. I'm having him rest here tonight before letting him go tomorrow morning. He'll need a couple of days of bed rest before I'm going to be willing to start therapy."

"Thanks, Doc." Archer walked over to the biobed and tried to smile at Malcolm, but he got the feeling it came out as more of a grimace. "You are possibly the most stubborn man I've ever met."

"It's part of the Reed charm." Malcolm smiled somewhat sleepily up at Archer. "No one's ever told you?"

"The one person who could was busy trying to be suicidal."

"I was being level-headed."

"You pulled out your oxygen tube." Archer laid a hand on his arm. "How are you feeling?"

"Numb mostly. How are you?"

"No worse for wear, except for a few frazzled nerves."

Malcolm managed another smile, this one a little loose on the edges due to the pain medication. "I don't think I can take full credit for that. Between the Romulans and the mine, I was only a third of the problem."

"You were the first third."

"I always try to be on top."

Archer smiled again. "Of course you do; you're a Reed."

"I am."

"When you're feeling better, we still have a breakfast to finish."

"Yes, Sir." Malcolm's eyes drifted shut.

Archer took his cue and left quietly, nodding at Phlox on the way out. "Keep me informed."

"Yes, Sir."

He left Sickbay, taking the turbolift to his quarters. Trip met him outside his door.

"How's he doin'?"

"Phlox says he'll be fine with some rest and physical therapy."

"How 'bout you?"

Jon opened the door to his quarters and led the way inside. He sat on the bed and put his head in his hands. "I don't know. Most of the time out there I was trying to decide if I was saving him as the Captain or as myself."

Trip sat next to him. "Ah've known ya fer a long time, Jon, and Ah know ya wouldn't just save a guy 'cause ya've got a thing fer him. Ya saved him 'cause he's a member of the crew, and it was possible to save him."

"I could have gotten us all blown to hell."

"Don't look back. Look at now. We're fine. We got away from the Romulans, and Malcolm's only got an itty-bitty hole in him." Trip grinned. "And now ya can help him recover."

Jon grinned back at him. "Don't put ideas like that into my head. I can barely get him to relax around me, let alone get him comfortable enough to allow me to touch him."

Trip rolled his eyes. "Sometimes Ah swear ya got yer Captain bars outta a cereal box. Aren't ya supposed ta be able ta read people?"

"Excuse me?"

"He wants ya, too, Jon. Ah'd bet the ship on it."

"I think we've done enough to the ship for one day."

"Ah mean it. Listen ta the logs from today. The way he talks, he wants ya as much as ya want him."

"Trip, it's been an excruciating day, could you not tease me right now?" Jon rubbed the back of his head.

Trip patted him on the back. "Ah swear it, Jon. Trust me on this."

Jon didn't snap at him. Whenever Trip asked for his trust, when it didn't involve some sort of shady deal or Trip's taste in women, he went with it; they'd been friends to long for it to be any other way. "Fine. I will. I'm going to check on him in the morning, so you need to leave so I can get some sleep. No use looking like walking death around a man you think has feelings for me."

Trip decided not to comment. It had been a long enough day already. Best to leave Jon to sleep. "Night, Jon."

"Night, Trip."


The next morning, after showering, shaving, and eating a quick breakfast, Archer headed to Sickbay. He found Malcolm sitting up and arguing with Phlox.

"I'm perfectly fine."

"I'm learning not to trust whatever health assessment you give me, Lieutenant."

"And why not? I think I know my limits."

"No, you don't. You're always 'fine'."

Archer stepped in to interject before Malcolm could retort with, by the look on his face, something very inappropriate. "Good morning. Sleep well, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, Sir." Malcolm nodded to him.

"I'm glad to hear that." Archer smiled at him, then looked at Phlox. "Good morning, Doctor. Are you planning to let my Armory officer out today?"

"I would love to, but we're disagreeing on medical instructions."

Malcolm spoke, his voice neutral. "I think I know when I'm ready to go back on duty, Doctor."

"I'm sure you are." Phlox's voice was sarcastic. "But if we followed your idea of 'fine' and 'ready', you'd be dead. Therefore, you will not go to work today. I told you, rest today, physical therapy for a few weeks, work after that."

"And I said—"

"Malcolm, don't argue with the Doctor." Archer put his hand on Malcolm's shoulder. "You had a rod go through your leg. If Phlox says rest, therapy and then work, then it's rest, therapy, and then work."

Malcolm was obviously displeased, but he just replied with a terse, "Yes, Sir."

"Good." Archer turned to Phlox. "If you're done with him, I'll make sure he gets to his quarters."

"You can have him. Make sure he gets some sleep."

"I will." Archer handed Malcolm the crutches that were leaning against the bed. "Shall we?"

"With all due respect, Captain, I can get to my quarters by myself. I'm a grown man." Malcolm got his crutches underneath him, and they left Sickbay, entering the corridor.

"Yes, you are, but seeing as I'm aware of how stubborn you are, I think it's best if I make sure you don't veer off into the Armory." The look on Malcolm's face let Archer know he had planned to do just that. Archer laughed lightly. "We'll get to your quarters, and I'll bring you something to dismantle."

"I'd rather have something to blow up."

"Not in your quarters." The ship lurched suddenly, and Archer moved quickly to catch Malcolm before he fell. He managed to hold Malcolm up and hit a comm link on the wall. "Sub-Commander, report."

"We appear to have come across a minor space storm."

"Any damage?"

"None, sir. The storm is only a few kilometers wide. We should be out of it shortly."

"Keep me informed. Archer out." Archer took his finger off the comm and placed his hand on Malcolm's shoulder. "You okay, Lieutenant?"

Malcolm clenched his jaw as he righted himself. "Just some pain from the fall, I'll be fine." The ship lurched again, and Malcolm pitched forward, throwing his hands off his crutches just in time to brace himself against the bulkhead. "Minor storm my arse." He attempted to straighten up and felt Archer's hands on his hips.

"Careful, Malcolm." Archer's voice was warm.

Malcolm tried to finish standing and realized his hands were on either side of Archer. He cleared his throat. "Pardon me, Sir." The ship shuddered a third time. "Goddamnit."

Archer indulged for a moment and squeezed Malcolm's hips. "Language, Lieutenant." He smiled down at him.

"I—ummm." Malcolm cleared his throat again. "I apologize."

"Don't. I don't mind."

"It's bad manners."

"You're getting tossed around the ship with an injured leg. You can curse. I promise."

Malcolm felt himself start to blush. ~He can disarm me so easily. It's ridiculous.~ He suddenly realized he was still standing with his hands on either side of Archer. "Oh."

Jon felt him moving away and clenched his hands. "You might want to stay put for a second, just in case we're not quite out of that storm yet." ~At least let me get one last touch in while there's a half-assed excuse.~ He smiled again. ~And you're so attractive when you blush like that.~

"Sir, I really feel—"


"Yes, Sir?"

"Do you ever drop the propriety?" Jon kept his tone light. He wanted to keep Malcolm distracted, keep him from noticing he was holding Malcolm a little more intimately, his hands moving around to touch Malcolm's back. He could practically hear the court martial. ~I swear, Your Honor, I was just helping him stand with that bad leg. That's all.~

"I believe we had this conversation on the hull yesterday, Sir."

"No, yesterday we discussed your thoughts on my command tactics, whether or not you had any hobbies, and the amount of time it takes for a Romulan mine to explode. Right now, I'm asking why you're always so proper."

"I'm a Reed." Malcolm said it with a sardonic edge in his voice. He gave a wry smile to the captain.

Jon laughed lightly. "You should relax once and a while. Just be Malcolm. Forget the Reed part sometimes."

"Any suggestions as to when, Sir?"

"Well, now."

Malcolm almost retorted with something sarcastic, but he reminded himself he was standing with the Captain. Actually, he was nearly standing *against* the Captain. He took in the way they were standing and realized how it would look if someone walked by: his hands on either side of the Captain, the Captain's hands on his hips. It would look very intimate—much too intimate. He stepped back, making sure to favor his leg, and looked for his crutches; another shudder went through the ship, and he fell to the floor, cursing when his leg was jarred badly. "Damn!"

Archer crouched next to him and started to help him to his feet. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Sir, thank you." He felt another blush try to get across his face, embarrassed that he couldn't even hold himself up with some stupid leg injury.

"Malcolm…" Archer paused and looked the other man over. He was blushing across his cheekbones, frustration in his eyes. He looked completely delectable. Archer couldn't help himself. He kissed Malcolm's cheek. ~Trip, you better had been right.~ He felt Malcolm freeze. ~Oh, shit.~

"Sir?" The full question was evident in that single word. ~What are you doing?~

Archer cleared his throat and kept a hand on Malcolm's elbows as he retrieved the other man's crutches. "I think we need to talk." He led the rest of the way to Malcolm's quarters but let Malcolm precede him into the room.

Malcolm hobbled over to the couch and eased himself down. He lifted his leg onto the cushions and attempted to get comfortable. "Would you care to explain, Captain?"

Archer recognized the tone of voice. It was Malcolm's official security voice. He was being interrogated. "I kissed you."


"Because I wanted to."

"Is there a particular reason you wanted to, Captain?"

Jon decided to dive off the deep end and go for absolute honesty. He wanted no confusion by the time they were done talking. "There were quite a few reasons. I could list them if you like."

Malcolm eyed him skeptically. "Go ahead."

"You're very intelligent. You're quick on your feet. You've got a great sense of humor—dry as it is. You're a hard worker, and you're damned good at your job. You're also very handsome, and I find you even more attractive when you blush." Jon smiled.

Malcolm wasn't smiling. "Do you make a habit to lust after your Armory officers?"

"No, I don't. In fact, you're the first officer I've ever lusted after."

"So, this is lust."

"No, this is," Jon paused for a second and sat next to Malcolm. He placed his hands on either side of Malcolm's face and shrugged. "I'm not sure what this is, but it isn't just friendship, and it's not just lust."

Malcolm nodded, never taking his eyes from Jon. "But it is an infatuation of some kind."

"I wouldn't call it just infatuation."

"Then what would you call it?"

Jon smiled. "Honest attraction to a man who is very attractive."

"I see. Would you be willing to kiss me properly now that it's slightly more private?"

"Gladly." Jon leaned in and kissed Malcolm softly on the lips. It was nearly chaste, lasting only a few seconds, and when Jon pulled way he ran his thumbs across Malcolm's cheekbones. "Want to explain why you're not shocked or surprised over this?"

"I'm a security officer. I'm your *head* of security. If I couldn't read people, I'd be terrible at my job."

Trip's crack about his Captain's bars ran through his head, and Jon really did have to wonder if the other man had been right.

~I certainly didn't notice this, and I *wanted* to notice this.~ "I'm supposed to be able to read people. Why didn't I read you?"

"I didn't want you to. I wanted to make sure I was right."

"You could read me, then?"

Malcolm nodded and spoke in a casual tone. "You gave yourself away at breakfast the other day. You were much too accommodating—even for your personality. You were attempting to be slightly romantic without being overt."

Jon blinked a couple of times before finding his voice. "How long have you known, exactly? I *thought* I was being discreet."

"You tried to be, but no Captain, no matter how informal, spends days trying to discover his Armory officer's favorite food." Malcolm's voice turned serious suddenly. "Nor does any just plain friendly Captain risk his life and ship for someone jammed to the hull with a metal rod."

Jon smiled sheepishly. "I was worried."

"You made a mistake. You should have sent one of my people or Trip out there. At least they would have had *some* training."

"I wasn't thinking straight."

"No, you weren't."

Jon looked Malcolm in the eye, curiosity up. "I recall being talked to about my lack of proper protocol on the hull yesterday, and I'm suddenly wondering why you've dropped the propriety."

"You kissed me."

"That's all it takes? If I'd known that, I'd have done it sooner."

Malcolm finally smiled. "No, you wouldn't."

"I wouldn't?"

"You're a little ragged on the edges of protocol, but you'd never ignore something as large as who has to approach whom."

"As much as I'd like to feel proud that you think so highly of me, I did just break that particular rule."


Jon shrugged. "Could we play that down, seeing as it's ended well?"

"I suppose." Malcolm leaned forward hesitantly and kissed Jon lightly. When he pulled away, he was smiling. "I do have to admit that having you there was rather nice. If it had been a member of my team, she or he may not have followed directions as well."

"I'm glad I was able to follow your directions." Jon heard Trip's voice in his head again, telling him he should listen to the logs. "Malcolm, did you say anything on the hull yesterday that I didn't hear, but the EV suit microphone might have picked up?"

Malcolm furrowed his brows in thought. "Why?"

"I'm just curious."

"No, you're not. You've heard something from Commander Tucker."

"How'd you—"

"Because it's always Commander Tucker." Malcolm sighed and cursed lightly under his breath. "I always forget how damned sensitive those microphones are." He looked down at the floor and then back up at Jon. "Right before I pulled my oxygen tube, I said I would miss you. I'm sure there was more longing in that sentence than there should have been."

Jon just looked at Malcolm for a moment. "Oh." He smiled. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." Malcolm's eyes narrowed, and his expression turned to one of self-deprecation. "This goes against everything that's been instilled in me."

"Which part?"

"Getting familiar with a senior officer. If my father ever hears of this he'll throw up his hands and give up on me."

"I assumed he'd done that when you joined this crew." Jon couldn't keep the bitter tinge out of his voice.

It was Malcolm's turn to shrug. "I wasn't raised in a way for my father to become my friend like you were. There were limits, and there were expectations. I never crossed the limits, but I never met his expectations."

Jon stroked Malcolm's arm. "You never tired to hug him goodbye, but you joined the wrong part of the military. Doesn't it hurt to know he's disappointed because of something as particular as your branch of service?" "I'm a Reed. I don't get hurt." Malcolm saw Jon glance at his leg. "Don't say it."

"Fine. But I'd like to state at this very early point that I'm not overly thrilled with your father."

"Neither am I." Malcolm cocked his head at Jon. "'Very early point' of what, exactly?"

"Of a relationship, if you're interested."


"You're blushing."


"It really is attractive." Jon held back a grin as Malcolm continued to try and locate the necessary words. ~The man takes a rod to the leg with barely a grimace, but say the 'r' word, and he's struck speechless.~

"A relationship?"

~There's the coherency.~ "Yes, if you're interested."

"Are there guidelines for this relationship?"

"Do you have any you'd like to make mandatory?"

"Discretion." Malcolm said it firmly. "My private life is my *private* life. As is yours. I'd like it not to become ship scuttlebutt."

"I'm in complete agreement. I'd like to request a 'love me, love my dog' clause."

"I'd expect nothing less."

Jon grinned at him. "Does this mean you're expecting something?"

"Yes, I believe it does."

Jon kissed Malcolm slowly. "Then let's start working towards something."

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