Title: Concerning Courage

Author: Mareel

Author's email: Mareel@earthlink.net

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

Date: 09/17/03

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben, Reed's Armory, BLTS, Archer's Enterprise. Others welcome, please let me know.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash (m/m)

Rating: R

Status: Complete

Characters: Archer/Reed

Series: No

Sequel to: Dear Sir

Summary: After Malcolm suffers a serious injury, Jonathan receives a letter from Stuart Reed with a message for Malcolm.

Disclaimer: Of course Enterprise and the characters belong to Paramount. I make no profit from this, but feel compelled to do it anyway.

Author's Notes: A discussion about sequels started me thinking about "Dear Sir" and what response Malcolm might have received, if any. I said that I wouldn't write a follow-up unless I knew what happened and had something to say. I had no clue and Malcolm didn't seem to know, either. Maybe that's because although Stuart didn't answer Malcolm directly, he did write to Jon. This is a bit of an alternative take on Stuart Reed.

To: Captain Jonathan Archer, Starfleet

From: Admiral Stuart Reed, Royal Naval (Ret.)

Dear Captain Archer,

I am writing to thank you for your update on Malcolm's condition. We received the official notification from Starfleet that he had been gravely injured, but yours was the only positive news that we've heard. Mary and I appreciate your taking the time to let us know that he is recovering, and has been able to resume many of his duties on Enterprise.

At your suggestion, Malcolm wrote a letter to me some time ago in an attempt to breach the distance that has steadily grown between us since he was a boy. I never answered that letter. My initial reaction was one of anger at him for making such an emotional appeal. I raised my son to take a dispassionate view of life, especially life in a command hierarchy where loyalty and duty are rigidly delineated and fraternization is very much proscribed. Malcolm certainly exhibited a strong and commendable loyalty to his ship and captain, but I was convinced that this loyalty was misplaced at best, and probably dangerous to himself and to his career. Moreover, I could feel nothing but contempt for a captain who would allow himself to become emotionally and sexually involved with a subordinate. So I had no intention of replying to my son's letter.

When we received the Starfleet communique about Malcolm's near-fatal injury, Mary and I had a discussion unlike any we've ever had before. Permitting no interruptions, she spoke her mind and wouldn't stop talking until she'd said everything she'd kept quiet for over forty years. She poured out all of her fears for her son, her frustration and anger with me, her feelings of loneliness and isolation. And then I told her something I'd never told anyone before.

You and Malcolm, more than anyone else, have the right to hear this, as it has coloured my entire view of you, and of my son, and how I've dealt with him. Nearly losing him, and then seeing your unwavering support of him, professionally and personally…all these things have made me decide to share this with you. It is somewhat easier for me to tell you these things than to say them to my son directly, considering all that's happened between us. I leave it to your discretion to decide how much of it to share with Malcolm. You know him best, and can gauge the state of his physical and emotional health, and decide whether he would benefit from knowing any of this.

Malcolm and I are not so very different. We are both stubborn men; we're both tenacious, detail-oriented to the point of being rather anal. Like my son, I've always thought of myself as very capable of loyalty and bravery. I've come to realize that the last bit is not completely true, but I will return to it. As I say, my son and I are not so different. We both fell in love with our commanding officers. We both prefer men. The difference between us is that Malcolm has never lacked the courage to openly acknowledge and act on his true feelings, whereas I never managed to find the courage to do so. I regret this immeasurably.

This is difficult for me to write; please excuse any lapses in continuity. I was a young and newly promoted lieutenant in the Royal Navy at the time, with a very promising career ahead of me. My credentials were impeccable, my skills were more than adequate, and, to be frank, I had excellent family connections within the Admiralty. My commanding officer was a well-regarded, and extremely attractive, destroyer captain. There was an immediate attraction between us despite the difference in rank, and we embarked upon a fiery clandestine relationship, though I'm not certain it was ever exclusive on his part.

It was not my first relationship with a man, but it was my first with a fellow officer—indeed it was the only relationship I'd ever had that lasted more than a night or two. We continued together for nearly a year, and I fancied myself in love with him. We were terribly discreet, or at least I was. Apparently he was not quite discreet enough, or he was betrayed. It wasn't until some time after an abrupt change of command that I finally learned what had happened. He only attempted to contact me once. In a private message directed to my permanent address, he described his quiet dishonourable discharge after a closed hearing during which he'd refused to disclose the names of any of his partners. He asked to see me again, told me I meant a great deal to him. I never replied.

Never again did I risk that kind of indiscretion or betrayal. My career advanced apace, and I supported that advancement with a conventional, if emotionally barren, marriage and family life. My own father took great pride in my success, oblivious to the cost. When my son was born, I vowed that he should never find himself in the kind of situations I had faced, and did all I could to ensure that his life and career path would offer him every possible advantage. But when his preferences became clear, he reminded me far too much of what I had once been and the decisions I had made—decisions I continued to live with every day of my life. I couldn't bear those memories, and rejected Malcolm and his choices. His fierce determination to choose his own life felt like a slap in my face for having been afraid to make those same decisions for myself.

When I learned that he had entered into an affair with his captain and commanding officer, I immediately feared the worst for Malcolm, and thought the worst of you. I waited to hear of his dismissal in disgrace from Starfleet, or of your own dismissal for conduct unbecoming. But your Starfleet appears to be a more enlightened organization than the Royal Navy, since the two of you are apparently permitted to live together openly as partners. I envy you that, and I envy you both the love and trust that is so evident between you. There are times when I wonder whether I could ever have had such a love in my own life if I had found more courage within myself when I was Malcolm's age.

I leave it up to you to decide how much of this to share with my son. You will be best able to gauge whether he would be better off with or without the knowledge that his father understands his choices, but that his parents' marriage was a facade. Mary knows all of this now; she didn't even seem terribly surprised when I told her everything. Although ours was a marriage of convenience, we have a certain fondness for one another and we both want what is best for our children. You may certainly permit Malcolm to read this letter, or to share whatever parts you think it best that he see. My own preference is for him to learn the whole truth; I simply hesitate to cause him any more pain.

But if I may ask one favour of you, please make sure that Malcolm reads at least the brief message attached below, so that he will know that both of us love our son and are proud of him and of his chosen partner. Thank you, Jonathan.

With best regards,

Stuart Reed

Dear Malcolm,

We were very concerned to learn of your injury, but relieved to hear good news from Captain Archer about the progress of your recovery.

With regard to the letter you wrote some time ago, I know that we've had our share of conflict and differences, but I want to be sure that you know that your mother and I both love you, and that you're very much in our thoughts.

Let me be clear. I need to tell you that I am very proud of you and admire your courage—both your bravery and service on Enterprise, and the integrity and courage of your personal life. You could not have chosen a better man than Jonathan Archer, nor one who cares more deeply for you. I wish you both every happiness. Please stay in contact with us whenever you can.

With loving regard,

Your father


Later, in Jon and Malcolm's quarters—

"Malcolm? You've been pretty quiet this evening, since you read your father's letter. Want to talk about it?"

Malcolm looked up from the PADD he'd been clutching. "I don't know what to say, Jon. I don't know this man who says he's my father. But I'd like to, someday."

Jon crossed the short distance between them and wrapped his arms around the smaller man. "Me too, Malcolm. It took a lot of courage for him to write all that, to admit it all, after so many years of silence."

"It explains a great deal, doesn't it?" Malcolm leaned his head against Jon's shoulder and felt the soft murmur of agreement more than he heard it. They sat together in stillness for long minutes, simply holding one another close.

"You appear to have an quite an effect on Reed men, Jonathan. He's never even met you, but he trusted you with things he'd never told anyone, except my mum after forty years and two children together."

"He trusted me with more than his past, Malcolm. He trusts me to love you and care for you." Jon turned Malcolm in his arms until their eyes met. "I do, you know. Very much."

"I know, love."

"Are you going to write back to him?"

"Yes," Malcolm replied. "I was thinking about what I wanted to say when you came over here and began distracting me."

"Well, I'll leave you to it for a few minutes. But I'm warning you, I want you so much I can taste you already, so don't be long."

"The wanting's mutual, love. I can write this later. Ummm…do that again…"

Later that night, Jon picked up the PADD that had slipped to the floor by the bed. Curious, he scanned the first lines…and wiped the dampness from his eyes with the edge of the sheet as he slipped back into bed and wrapped his Malcolm in love.


To: Admiral Stuart Reed, Royal Navy (Ret.)

From: Malcolm

Dear Father,

Let me say something about courage…

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