Title: Here

Author: Kipli

Author's email: kipli16@yahoo.com

Author's URL: http://kipli.net/fiction.html

Date: 05/23/03

Archive: Yes to EntSTSlash, WWOMB, Archers_Enterprise, and ASC*, otherwise ask first pretty please.

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Preslash

Rating: PG

Status: Complete

Pairing: Reed/Mayweather

Summary: After "Horizon," Mayweather questions his life on Enterprise.

Warnings: None

Sequel: None

Beta: None

Spoilers: Horizon

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the universe. I just live there.

Author's Notes: This fanfic includes m/m romantic and physical situations. It was supposed to be short. Yes, shorter than this. But then it just kept going for a few more pages this afternoon. ;) Preslash. No beta.

Am I really here? Does anyone ever see me? Really see me?

Would they notice if I quietly disappeared? I could just let myself fade into thin air. Then I could be gone and hastily forgotten, smoothly replaced by anyone else. No one would spare me a second thought. Not on this ship anyway.

I bury my face harder against my arm. The table is cool against my chin. It's late and the mess hall is silent around me. No one else is here.

Not that any one of them would talk with me. Not really talk with me. They would just nod their heads and spout some kind of encouragement at me, turning away from me as quickly as they polite could.

Why do I stay here? Why do I do this to myself? I should be with my mother, my family, my home. Why am I here?

I swallow hard and cover my head with my other arm.

Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I should wake the Captain and tell him to turn *Enterprise* around. Return to a ship where I only have to walk down the corridor to run into someone who cares. Return to a ship that never has an empty mess hall. Return to a place I can call home.

Everyone would be surprised to see me desperate to go back to the *Horizon*. I chuckle humorlessly, the sound echoing a little off the table and my wrapped arms. They think I'm always so happy-go-lucky, always glad to be wherever I am. That Travis Mayweather, he might get a kick in the stomach by life, but he's *always* ready for more.

My chuckle turns into a sob and I dig my fingers into my scalp. I left my mother for the second time. And without my father there to keep things from falling apart. Dad…I'm never going to see him again…

I quickly shove away any thoughts of my father. It's all too painful still. I can't bear to deal with them right now.

But I've left my mother, my brother, and everyone I've ever cared for, again, just to return to this. Why? Why the hell am I here? How could I leave them? What good is it doing them? What good is it doing me?

I pause my thoughts for a moment, wondering. I'm here because…because I want to make a difference. I want to do my job and do it well. I want to do more than just haul cargo from spaceport to spaceport. I want to see knew things, meet knew people. I want…


I jump at the soft voice beside me, nearly spilling my now tepid hot cocoa, and look up to see Malcolm standing next to the table. I wipe my not quite dry eyes and face, but I don't sit up, instead resting my chin on my arm on the table. We're off duty. It's the middle of the night. No need to stand and salute him. "Oh, hi."

He looks down at me, concerned. "I didn't mean to startle you. Can I sit down?"

"If you want." I watch absently as he sits beside me, setting a cup of tea in front of him. He's not in uniform, a rare occasion for Malcolm, and he's looking pretty good in gray sweats and blue T- shirt. He should dress casually more often. His hair is mussed. He must have been sleeping, or trying to sleep, before coming to the mess hall. Of course, he would be the one to sneak into the room without my hearing.

Malcolm skips the obvious questions about why I'm upset. Instead, fingers curled around his cup, he asks, "Did you enjoy seeing family?"

I nod in answer. I fold both my arms in front of me on the table and rest the right side of my face against my bare forearm, watching his tan fingers play against the white porcelain cup. "Thanks for taking care of the beacon on their hull."

He shrugs and lifts the cup to his lips. "Simple removal. Happy to help." He blows on the hot liquid before sipping the tea.

I try my best not to enjoy his company, to continue to stew in my depression, but it is comforting just to have him here. Malcolm is the closest friend I have on board. We used to talk often when the mission first started, but Malcolm slowly made other friends, losing some of his more reclusive nature. Now Trip and Malcolm are almost inseparable. It used to be that way with us. Not that I'm jealous…not really jealous, anyway. Malcolm is allowed to have more than one friend. It's just…I do miss him. The singular closeness we had. It had been nice having someone.

"Care to talk about it?" he asks.

My mind reels back to my previous thoughts, before Malcolm's arrival, and I sigh. "Not really."

Malcolm just nods, not pushing the issue, and takes another sip. "I'm glad you're back."

I shift my gaze up to his eyes, wondering what he means.

He looks back down at me. "I was…" He traces a finger along the edge of his cup. "…worried you might not return. After your father's death, and the obvious distress that happened while you were on the *Horizon*, I thought maybe…" His voice trailed off.

He'd missed me, worried about me. Perhaps someone would notice if I went away. "It was hard to leave them." I look away and down at the table. "They need me, and I left them, again." I shake my head against my arm.

"I'm sure they will do fine. And this ship and crew needs you as well."

"Wouldn't be too hard to find a replacement for me," I say, a little too bitterly.

Malcolm sets his tea down and stares sternly at me. "We could never replace you, Travis. You are the best pilot. Period."

"Anyone can steer a starship." I can't look at him.

"No one can do what you do. The math equations and course corrections you do in your head. The skill and speed at which you maneuver the ship during a battle. The steady hand you have with the controls every day. It is not an easy job, Travis, and I would not want it myself. No one else on board, no one anywhere, can ever hope to match your expertise."

I'm stunned by the speech on my behalf. I'm even more stunned that it came from Malcolm, spoken so emphatically. I sit up slowly and meet his gaze. "Thanks." I don't know what else to say.

He cracks a smile at me. "Be aware, the next time you question yourself in front of me, I'll simply give you a sound smack to the back of the head."

I laugh. I've missed Malcolm's humor. "Whatever works."

Malcolm squeezes my arm. "We do need you here, Travis. I'm glad you came back." He stands and collects his empty cup.

I get the sudden impression Malcolm meant that *he* needs me here, not just the crew in general. My heart warms and a calmness settles in my stomach. I watch him for a moment, then stand and follow him, grabbing my own cup of cold cocoa.

I am here.

Malcolm sees me.

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