Title: Perception

Author: Pretzelduck

Author's e-mail: pretzelduck@yahoo.com

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


Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben, and WWOMB

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Status: Complete

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Summary: Malcolm reflects on the morning after and acts on shifted views.

Warnings: None

Series/Sequel: None

Next story: Ambiguity

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Guess what? I don't own the Star Trek franchise. Paramount does. I also don't make any money from writing this. The only thing I make money on is my ability to roll pretzels and work a cash register.

I wonder if he was disappointed.

He was rather quiet afterwards. Eyes closed, he kept a gentle but tight hold on me. Every time I shifted, he would pull me closer to him. It's like that now. We're spooned together in his bed, his chest against my back. There is a sheet covering us that Jonathan wrapped around us after I shivered. I'm well aware of the time and my location. I should be leaving but he won't let me. As an armory officer, it would be conceivable that I possess a greater strength than my captain. But I cannot move. Jonathan has what can only be called a death grip on me.

I suppose if I truly wished to, I could break his hold on me. But I don't know if I want to. I cannot recall my mere presence being so important to anyone before. He doesn't want me to go before he wakes. I can sympathize; I've woken to an empty but previously occupied bed before. However, it would be better for both of us if I did not remain.

It would be best if I did not return.

But now that I know how he truly feels about me…

Jonathan was emphatic about assuring me that he cared about me and had for a great deal of time. He listed a number of my supposed qualities that attracted him to me. It still seems rather odd that he sees such things in me. No one has ever described me as passionate or vulnerable before.

A substantial portion of my life has been spent keeping others away. With each new pain, it became easier to not trust until I was certain that I was impervious to the need to be close to another person.

It's odd then, that I am as reluctant as I am to leave his bed. I've been awake for most the night. It took me what passed like a slow hour to become somewhat accustomed to his arms around me. Despite an impression I once gave to Commander Tucker, it has been quite awhile since I have been touched with any intimacy. The feel of his fingers caressing my bare chest as he slept is disconcerting to say the least. Jonathan has slept so soundly, only moving when I move. Apparently comfortable with me in his bed.

I don't know how he can be so at ease with this change in our relationship. I'm not even entirely certain what sort of relationship we had before this. There was the framework for a friendship, a burgeoning set of shared experiences and a mutual respect for each other. But were we friends? Are we friends now? Or did we inexplicably bypass that step and move straight into something else?

Something, indeed. One night that held so many firsts. The first touch of our lips, the first time I've spoken aloud his given name, the first admittance of an apparently mutual attraction. I've avoided analyzing my feelings regarding him for a reason. Any thoughts of him are immediately relegated to a space in my mind labeled 'captain'. And until last night, not a single one escaped.

Until he hesitantly reached out and took my hand. There was a lengthy pause in a discussion we were having about the weapons systems. We had been more or less arguing about security again and I was trying to find another way to explain to him my point-of-view, when I felt his fingers touch mine.

In that single instant, every thought I had mistakenly believed to be locked away manifested itself fully grown in my mind. My memories of him…his touch, his smile, all the things he had ever said to me…and this forced re-examination of them quickly proved dangerous when I looked up into his luminous eyes.

Everything shifted.

Another first…the most important…the first time I didn't see my commanding officer but a man who wanted me. There was a reason I didn't analyze my feelings toward him. I couldn't be attracted to my captain. It was, and is, beyond inappropriate. But last night, I wasn't looking at my captain. I was looking at Jonathan. The man I knew I had longed for, no matter how much I had tried to think of him as a figure rather than as a person.

And I couldn't deny him nor could I lie to him. I wanted him to make love to me.

Lying in his arms afterwards, I tried to keep my vision of him. It was suddenly a precious thing to me. Jonathan was precious to me. But the hours passed anyway and the revelation failed me and he transformed back into the captain I cannot care for. The value of what I had seen before slowly began to fade.

I need to leave. If I do not do so know, I might not ever. And I cannot stay.

The feeling of not having him pressed up against my back is as painful as any physical wound I've known. There is enough light for me to discern my things among the scattered bits of clothing on the floor. Jonathan had set the lights to their minimal setting. He said he wanted to be able to see my reactions to his touch. I still don't quite understand that. I've never had sex with the lights on before. I thought it was supposed to be dark…

My training comes in use as it is relatively easy for me to get dressed without disturbing either Jonathan or Porthos. I'm not concerned about my undoubtedly disheveled appearance. It wouldn't be the first time I've been seen stalking the corridors in the early hours after nodding off in the armory.

The sound of movement behind me stops me from exiting the room. Jonathan is moving in his sleep. The hand that was moments ago caressing my chest is vainly searching the place where I was for my missing body. The mouth that was only hours ago making me writhe in pleasure is beginning to frown as his hand encounters nothing but air and fabric.

An urge to climb back into his bed just to make that frown disappear rushes through me so I counter it the only way I know how.

The sound of the door closing behind me seems almost thunderous in the stillness of the hallway. But it is a mere whisper to the sound of the door opening again as my feet continue to propel me further away. And it is pure silence in comparison to Jonathan's sleepy voice echoing in my ears.


A moment's hesitation. My feet stop their forward progress for an instant. He sounds…lost. But an echo is just that. An echo. His voice fades as I continue away from his door.

However, I cannot help but wonder once more if he was disappointed.

If he meant it, when as he drifted to sleep this night, he whispered in my ear…and said he loved me.

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