Title: Making Repairs

Author: Mareel

Author's e-mail: Mareel@earthlink.net

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

Date: 05/04/03

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben, Others welcome, please ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash (m/m)

Rating: PG

Status: Complete

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Characters: Archer, Tucker (friendship); Archer/Reed (romantic pairing) Spoilers: Cogenitor

Summary: In the aftermath of Cogenitor, Trip, Archer, and Reed struggle with their personal and professional relationships.

Disclaimer: Of course Enterprise and the characters belong to Paramount (I just feel the need to take care of them sometimes.)

Author's Notes: I've been haunted by the ending of Cogenitor, and wanted to take a look at the inevitable impact on the friendship between Jon and Trip. I had to give them/myself some hope.

"Commander Tucker, I thought I might find you here. Is this the new mess hall annex?" Malcolm paused in the doorway to the tiny cubicle that served as Trip's office space in Engineering. He nodded toward the barely touched sandwich on the desk, half buried under padds and schematic drawings. "You've been putting in a lot of hours here lately."

"What is it, Malcolm? Are you here to check up on me? Did Phlox send you to make sure I was eatin' right? Well, he ain't my mamma, and neither are you, Malcolm, so don't bother. I'm fine, just have a lot of work to do, that's all."

Malcolm leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms, fixing the disheveled blonde engineer in his gaze. "I thought that was my line—being 'fine,' Commander. And no one sent me. Actually I was worried about you myself. I haven't seen you in the mess hall for days, at any mealtime, and neither have Hoshi or Travis for that matter. And when I see the captain leave his dining room, the only person I ever see leaving with him lately is T'Pol."

He gave the engineer a sad little smile. "I hope I don't have competition."

The relationship between Reed and Archer was no longer a secret among the senior staff. After several months of tentative advances and false starts, they had acknowledged their mutual feelings for one another and begun spending most of their nights together in the captain's larger cabin and bed. Initially unwilling to let anyone else know of the relationship, Malcolm had finally allowed Archer to share the news with Trip. As Jonathan's long-time friend, Trip had been delighted to learn of the relationship, and the three of them had been spending some off-hours time together watching water polo matches or old movies, or just talking.

"Huh?" Trip looked up from the padd he had been pointedly examining as Malcolm spoke. "What's that about competition? You don't think the Cap'n has any romantic interest in T'Pol do you? Never gonna happen, Malcolm. He loves you, and he's not the kind of guy to cheat on someone."

Malcolm shrugged. "Well, something is bothering him, because he's not himself with me these days…or nights," he added quietly.

Trip heard the concern in Reed's voice, and took a deep breath. His own problems with Archer were one thing, but they shouldn't be affecting the captain's relationship with Malcolm. "Do you think it's about what happened with the cogenitor? Does he ever talk about me? About how I disappointed him? He sure ain't talkin' to me about it, and it's probably eating at him if he doesn't talk to somebody. I know how guilty I feel about the whole thing, and if I know Jonny, he's probably feeling pretty damn guilty about a few things as well."

"Maybe T'Pol is a good listener," Malcolm replied. "He's not saying anything about it to me. I brought it up once and he told me his shipboard personnel problems were none of my business. That was the last time we were together…and that was over two weeks ago. He's adjusted the duty rosters since then to keep us on different shifts so we have no time off together."

"Oh God, Malcolm. I'm so sorry this is affecting you too. It's killin' me, not being able to even talk to him about it; but you're his lover, he shouldn't shut you out because of it. You need to keep trying to keep things normal between the two of you."

"I'm afraid that's easier said than done, Commander. But at least he'll still talk to me about weapons systems upgrades. Perhaps I'll suggest he include you in our next briefing."

"Thanks, Malcolm, but I know Jonny pretty well, and when he's made up his mind about something, or somebody, he's not likely to change it. I think I'm pretty much finished here on Enterprise…probably pretty much finished in Starfleet, for that matter."

Malcolm didn't try to cheer him with any false hopes, but surprised Trip by moving to stand behind him and gently rubbing his slumped shoulders for a few minutes in silence. With a final admonishment to his friend to 'please eat that sandwich before it gets buried completely' Malcolm left him to his solitude.


Later, on the bridge:

"Captain, may I speak with you privately?"

"In my ready room, Malcolm."

Archer did not ask Reed to sit, so the armoury officer stood at ease before the captain's desk, waiting until he seated himself before beginning to speak.

"Captain…Jonathan…we need to talk about what's happening here."

"I'm not sure I know what you're getting at, Malcolm."

Surprised at hearing no warmth in his lover's voice, Reed nevertheless continued as he had planned. "I see two problems here, Jon. One is the problem between you and Commander Tucker, which I know is none of my business. The other is the problem with us. I don't have a lot of experience with relationships, but I think we need to talk about how we want ours to continue when we can't find any time to spend together or talk to each other."

"Malcolm, this isn't a good time to talk about personal issues, can't it wait until…"

Reed interrupted him, something he never would have thought himself capable of doing prior to the acknowledgement of their relationship.

"Jon, I don't think we should wait too long. I miss you; I miss talking to you…I miss holding you. I love you—and I can tell when you hurt. I've held enough emotion inside myself over the years to recognize when someone I love is doing the same thing. I'm not going to beg, but I want you to know I'm here whenever you want to talk."

Malcolm took a deep breath and continued. "And for the record, sir, not as your lover but as a senior officer on this ship, I think you need to settle the issues with Commander Tucker one way or another. It's damaging to morale, and to the ability of the crew to respond appropriately to any crisis situation which may arise."

"Will that be all, Lieutenant?"

Reed nodded, and drew himself to attention.


Back at the tactical station, Reed tried not to let his disappointment and personal pain show in his demeanor. It was a struggle, but the shift eventually ended, and he made his way to the armoury to privately grieve the loss of the only loving relationship he'd ever known.

Later that night, Trip stopped in at the armoury to leave a set of schematics for Malcolm to review in the morning. He found Reed still there, sitting motionless at his desk in the half-darkened armoury, his dark head resting on his arms.


Reed lifted his head at the sound of Trip's voice, but didn't seem as startled as Tucker would have expected of a man being surprised by a voice in the dark. "It's all right, Trip; I heard you come in. I'm not losing my professional edge—that's probably all I do have left of my life."

"What happened? Did you and Jonny have a talk?"

"No. I talked. He dismissed me."

"Shit. This ain't over yet, Malcolm. It's all my fault and I need to see if I can fix it; I don't think I can live with having ruined someone else's life after all I've done already."

In a gesture reminiscent of Malcolm's earlier compassionate touch, Trip gathered the armoury officer's slender body into his arms and let the grieving man's head rest on his shoulder for a moment while Malcolm pulled himself together. When he raised his head, the storm-grey eyes that met Trip's were calm, though shadowed by a pain that looked like it was there to stay.

"Thank you, Trip. I appreciate your friendship more than you know. Try to get some rest now."

Trip returned to his quarters, picked up a padd and started to draft the hardest letter he'd ever had to write.


The following morning, in the captain's ready room:

"What's this?" asked Archer, accepting the padd he was handed by Tucker.

"It's my resignation, Captain. I think we both know it's the best thing for the mission, the best thing for you, and for me too, I guess. Maybe it will get us back to someplace I need to be. I need you to be my friend a whole lot more than I need you to be my captain," Trip continued, forging ahead before he lost his nerve.

"I'll resign my commission if that would make it easier for you to see me as a friend again—as just Trip, not the Lt. Commander Charles Tucker who fucked up so badly as an officer. Hell, Jonny, I'm just an engineer. I'm no diplomat; we both know that now. I know now I should've just kept my mouth shut and my eyes on their engines—that's what a good officer would have done, no matter how much it was killin' him to see what was going on.

I've thought a lot about everything that happened, and how things have been since then—and I can't keep goin' like this, Cap'n. I'm out here because I wanted to explore, sure, but also because I love warp engines…and even more 'cause you've been the best friend I've ever had and I wanted to share all this with you. If I've messed that up, the rest won't mean anything to me."


"Cap'n? Jon? Say something, anything. Don't keep me hangin' here." Try as he might, Tucker couldn't quite keep his rising panic out of his voice.

"Commander…Trip, I don't know…I'm not sure…" Jon's voice broke, and he turned his gaze away from the man in front of him, staring out the viewport instead. Trip watched his friend's shoulders slump, his posture changing from that of the Starfleet captain to that of a weary man carrying too heavy a burden. As he continued to stare out at the stars, Archer's shoulders began to tremble, and he seemed to be fighting for control.

"It's all right, Cap'n, you don't have to say it. Just file the resignation with Admiral Forrest and I'll do my job until he can get a replacement engineering chief out here. I don't want to make your job any harder; that's the last thing I'd want to do to you. I've already disappointed you enough."

Seeing no change in Archer's stance, Tucker turned to leave. "One other thing I need to say, as your friend, even if you don't think of me that way anymore. You've gotta talk to Malcolm, stop pushing him away. You're killin' him too, not letting him help you through this. I can see it—he loves you, Jonny—and I know you love him. Don't throw that away too. I'll be all right back on Earth if I know he's out here takin' care of you." He paused. "Permission to be dismissed, sir?"

The response from Archer was barely audible. "Denied, Commander."


"Your request to be dismissed…and your resignation request. Both denied. We're not finished out here, Trip." Archer finally turned from the viewport, moving to lean on the edge of his desk. He motioned for Trip to take a seat as well. When Tucker met his gaze he was surprised to see the green eyes glittering with unshed tears, but they were the eyes of his friend, not those of the cold stranger he'd been seeing for the past weeks.

"It might be easier to let you walk away from all this, but that isn't the right thing to do for either of us, or for Enterprise and her mission. Something you just said made me stop and think about things. When you came in here, I was prepared to accept your resignation."

He paused at Tucker's sharp and audible intake of breath. "But I just realized you're right about at least one thing. I do need you as my friend more than I need to be your commanding officer. As it happens, I'm both. But that's my own weakness; I shouldn't make it your problem. I knew something like this could happen when we signed on to Enterprise as captain and commander, and I thought I knew how to handle it. I was wrong about that. When this all happened, I handled the whole situation badly, and I need to apologize to you for that and figure out a way to avoid it happening again.

But both the captain and the friend need you here, on the job and…well, as my friend." Archer paused, catching Tucker's gaze and holding it as he reached out to place a hand on the younger man's shoulder. He felt Trip's shudder of relief and caught his friend up in his arms as Tucker rose from his seat and turned to face him. "It's okay, Trip, we'll get through this somehow. Can you accept my apology?"

"Cap'n…Jonny…I don't know what to say, except thank you for givin' me another chance to do things right. And for just being my friend."

"I'd like you and Malcolm to join me for dinner tonight, Trip. We've got some things to catch up on."

"I'll be there with bells on, Cap'n. Do you want me to tell Malcolm about it when I head down to Engineering?"

"No thanks, Trip. I have some things I need to say to Malcolm before dinner."

Trip caught the little smile on his friend's face, and returned it with a grin of his own. "Just don't spoil your appetite by havin' your dessert first, Cap'n. See you both later."


"Archer to Lt. Reed."

"Reed here, Captain."

"Malcolm, could you plan to join me for dinner tonight, along with Commander Tucker? And I'd like to meet with you in my quarters in about 10 minutes if you can get free from whatever you're working on at the moment." "In your quarters, Captain?"

"For some talk, Malcolm. And I think maybe we should consider having dessert first tonight."

"Understood, Jon. Thank you."

"With your help, Malcolm, and the help of an old friend, we'll all get through this. I need to apologize to you, and to thank you."

"I'd like that, Jon. I'll see you shortly; I just finished up some repairs."

Not the end.

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