Title: Introspection

Author: Mareel

Author's email: Mareel@earthlink.net

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

Date: 09/25/03

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben, Archer's Enterprise, and BLTS. Others please ask.

Category: Slash (m/m)

Rating: R

Status: Complete

Characters: Tucker/Reed; Archer/Reed ??

Series: Indiscretion

Previous: Insomnia

Next: Intonation

Disclaimer: Still not mine. And they probably hate me for this anyway.

Summary: Malcolm needs to find some answers within himself before he talks to Trip.

Author's Notes: My thanks to all of you who are encouraging this. There will be more.

I don't know what to say to him. What I did—what I said—was inexcusable. Trip leaves me messages saying he needs to talk to me, that we need to talk to each other. That he's not angry, just confused and hurt that I've shut him out.

I should talk to him. I owe him that much. Actually, I owe him much more, but I think I've torpedoed all that. I just don't know what to say that won't hurt him more, and I believe I've hurt him enough already.

Trip loves me. He's told me so enough times that I had to believe him. I never understood why, but he said he'd loved me from the minute he stopped hating me. There's a fine line there and I'm certain I've pushed him back across it. Or I will do, if I tell him the truth—that I don't know why that name slipped out, or that perhaps I do know why, but I don't know what it means.

I'm sure he'll want to know if I might have breathed Jonathan's name because I'd had a relationship with him in the past that I'd never mentioned. I don't even think Trip would terribly mind hearing that. He could reassure himself with the thought that it hadn't worked out. But I can answer quite honestly that there was never any kind of relationship beyond Captain and armoury officer.

Because I turned him down.

I told him it would have been inappropriate, violating every fraternization regulation on the books. That was a defence…a shield, and a damn good strategy, I thought.

I'm certain he saw straight through it.

It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and it still hurts to remember the sadness in his eyes. But I knew he'd only ask once, and after I'd declined, I could put the whole thing aside and get on with my life without thinking about impossible what-if scenarios.


Trip and I had been inching toward friendship, and I began to see signals that he was interested in more than just a friendly relationship. Once I'd settled things with Jonathan, I noticed that Trip was courting me in all the ways Jon never could. I don't know if he'd held off because hecd been aware of his friend's interest, or if the timing was just a coincidence.

He was persistent, and charming and persuasive. Once we started dating, things moved very quickly in our relationship. I enjoyed his company, the sex was exhilarating, and I felt safe with him.

He told me he was in love with me. That's never happened to me before. I've never been into a relationship so deeply; things have always tended to go wrong long before they got to that point. But I finally had to believe him. And when I was wrapped in his arms savouring a warm afterglow, my head pillowed on his chest, his fingers caressing my cheek, tangling in my hair…well, it was easier than I ever thought it would be to confide that I loved him too. And to believe it.

So why wasn't it his name on my lips when we had just shared the most intimate of experiences? Trip tried to tell me in a message that he'd understand if it were some kind of stupid slip of the tongue. He even told me he'd once said something equally idiotic to one of the women he had dated. The trouble is—this being Trip—it probably was just an idiotic mistake resulting from a disengaged brain. His girlfriend probably realized that as well, and laughed as she read him the riot act. He might even have laughed last night if I'd screamed "T'Pol!" or some such. As a fantasy lover, she would have posed no real threat to our relationship. Trip understands fantasy—he loves to role-play those old movies he enjoys so much.

But I know he recognized that my whisper was no fantasy. It was a cry from the heart.


When Jon offered a sympathetic ear tonight in the lounge, how very easy it would have been to accept it. And it may be that an ear was really all he was offering. I don't think Trip told him what I said; despite his reputation as the mother lode of ship's gossip, neither of us would be apt to share that kind of thing with anyone else. Nevertheless, an intimate tete-a-tete with Jonathan would have been perilous to both of us.

All of the reasons I had for not getting involved with him in the first place are still valid—more so than ever, now that we're heading into the Expanse. He cannot afford the distraction of a relationship that would inevitably cost him his best friend, a relationship where both of us would be making life and death decisions affecting each other every day. What kind of tactical officer would I be if I let him put himself in that kind of dangerous position—if I were the cause of his distraction at a crucial moment, and people were to die because of it?

Dear god, I'm such a pathetic wanker. What a load of rubbish!

I claimed that Jon and I have never had a relationship. Partly true. We've never been on a date, never spent much time alone together at all, actually. I've certainly never kissed him, except in some rather explicit dreams. I'm not sure I've ever even touched him deliberately except to help improve his accuracy with a phase pistol.

He, on the other hand, uses touch as a weapon—one that I am completely defenceless against. His hand on my shoulder tonight provided conclusive proof of that. It was probably meant as friendly reassurance, but it provoked a deeper response than the most intimate of caresses. It woke something in my heart that I'd thought was safely buried.

I'll have to talk to Trip, though I'm not sure how to say any of this to him. His only mistake was to get involved with my sorry arse in the first place. He'll say he thought I loved him; I can already hear the incomprehension, the pain, in his voice. The saddest part is that I do love him; though he probably won't believe me now. I just don't think I'm in love with him the way he is with me. I know I can't go on like this; it isn't fair to him.

Or to Jonathan.

I don't think I could say no to him again.

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