Title: The Mission

Author: Weebob

E-mail: weebob@fsmail.net


Archer's Enterprise

Fandom: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: Aids the learning process!

Archive: EntSTCommunity, Reed's Armory, BLTS, MEGA—if you want it—any others, probably, but please ask first.

Summary: A successful mission ends badly.

SPOILERS: Minefield, The Xindi

WARNING: Deathfic—written on the fly after an evil bunny bite, so I'm not sure that I've pulled it off!

DISCLAIMER: I don't own or have any rights to the Star Trek universe, "Enterprise", or any of its characters—they belong to UPN/Paramount. I am making no money from this story.

The mission's been successful: we've transmitted the information we came for back to Enterprise and they're on their way to meet us. Unfortunately, they'll be too late.

The aquatic Xindi species' defence grid picked us up when we tried to escape in the submersible Trip put together for us out of that old Suliban cell ship we captured way back at the start of our mission. It saved our asses last time Malcolm and I were in a fix but its not going to save us this time. Nobody will.

Our power's gone—all but the glow of the emergency lights—and our hull's been damaged by the Xindi weapons. We're lying low in an ocean trench but water's leaking in fast and Malcolm's getting scared.

He knew this could happen, but he still wouldn't let me take this on alone: said I'd need him to watch my back and keep me alive to get the job done. It was way too important to risk failure.

On both counts, he was right and I DID succeed because he was with me. Now he's going to die because he's with me.

I move aside to let him get up on the pilot's console and raise himself a little bit out of the water. He shoots me a frightened glance: "We're not going to make it, are we?"

His voice shakes with fear and I reach up to caress his face but can say nothing to reassure him. "Enterprise will get here a little too late for us, Malcolm, unless Trip manages to pull off a miracle and get her above warp 5.5"

Leaning into my touch, he gives a wry smile: "Not much chance of that on the amount of sleep he's been getting lately." His bravado crumbles " Oh Jon, I'm so scared."

I move closer and put my arms around him: the water's deep enough now to lift me off my feet and our faces are level "I know Malcolm. So am I."

Wrapping me in a desperate embrace, he kisses me—even though that means he has to duck part of his face in the water to do so. We're both floating now, our heads brushing the roof of the ship, and I pull him in for another kiss—probably our last.

When we separate, he's crying and tells me how much he loves me and that I'm the best thing ever to happen to him. The desire to save him drives me to try the comm. one more time. Its working, but there's nothing but static and nobody to hear me.

Our phase pistols and other flotsam bob past us and Malcolm's terrified now, trying to climb up my body to get his face out of the water—we must only have a few minutes of air left. He's getting hysterical and I try, unsuccessfully, to calm him down. I pull him against me again, feeling his lean body struggling and his hands trying to push him upwards. I hold him tighter and he makes little panicky, mewing noises.

My heart is breaking as he clutches at me: my brave, strong Malcolm losing his dignity because of a phobia. I can't let him suffer like this. "Malcolm, I love you more than you can ever imagine and you don't have to be afraid. I won't let you drown."

At my words, he looks up suddenly and those remarkable eyes of his meet mine. He understands and nods—almost imperceptibly—suddenly serene. "Forever and eternity, Jon."

My hands are trembling as I grab a phase pistol out of the water and hug him as I hold it against the back of his head, feeling his lashes brush my cheek as he closes his eyes. "Forever and eternity, Malcolm."

I fire—just as the comm. splutters to life: "T'Pol to Archer. We are in orbit and preparing for emergency transport. Please stand by."

As the channel clicks closed, I pull my beloved Malcolm's lifeless body against me, bury my face in his shoulder, put the phase pistol to my temple and pull the trig…

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