Title: Us

Author: Stormymouse

Author's email: stormy@enterpriseboys.de

Author's URL: http://www.enterpriseboys.de


Pairing: Archer/Reed, Archer/Tucker, Tucker/Reed

Rating: G

Summary: The carousel of love keeps turning.

Previous story: Him

Spoiler: none

Warnings: none

Archive: A no-no to anyone but EntSTSlash, Archers_Enterprise, ReedsArcheryRange and Captain_and_the_Commander…though I might reconsider if someone asks me nicely! ;-)

Disclaimer: Unfortunately the boyz don't belong to me! Thanks to Rick Berman and Brannon Braga for bringing them to life and to Paramount for bringing them on the screen and for letting me borrow them from time to time…i'll take good care of them!

Beta: None, all mistakes and contradictions belong to me! If you find them…feel free to keep them! ;-)

Feedback: I depend on it! It's what makes me strive for more! So, please, go ahead! And you guys do feedback so well!

"Have I told you lately that I love you, have I told you there's no one else above you, you fill my heart with…ARGH!"

Lieutenant Malcolm Reed slammed his fists onto the console in front of him. "Stop humming, Reed" he muttered under his breath.

Carefully the tactical officer looked around the armory but there were no crewmembers present who could have witnessed his uncharacteristic outburst.

He rubbed his neck with the palm of his hand. He couldn't concentrate, his thoughts kept returning to one single thing—Commander Charles Tucker III.

"'Have I told you lately'…duh! You've never even told him once, you idiot!"

The Brit snorted. He had never talked to himself before but Enterprise's chief engineer brought out the worst in him.

Especially on a day like this.

The door slid aside and Trip, the source of the lieutenant's absentmindedness, stepped into the armory.

Malcolm's heart skipped a beat, the butterflies in his stomach pulled off some L4s and he started to smile.

"Hey Tr…"

The words and the smile died on his lips as the handsome blond man doubled over with laughter and looked back over his shoulder to where Captain Jonathan Archer entered the room just behind him, grinning broadly.

"I swear to God, Trip, that's really how it happened!"

The CO of the NX-01 slapped the younger man's back and then directed his attention to his chief of security.

"Everything okay with you, Lieutenant?"

Malcolm swallowed hard.

'No!' he wanted to shout. 'Nothing is okay!' The friendship between the captain and the man he was secretly in love with gnawed at his nerves.

"Sure, Sir, everything is alright!"

Inwardly he cursed himself. 'This is so pathetic! If I go on like this I will never get what I want—no matter how far out of my reach it may be!'

The chief engineer came over to the Brit, a broad grin on his face.

"We just wanna make sure that y'aren't gonna back outa our little party tonight! It is ya birthday after all!"

Malcolm winced. What good was a birthday when the present you really wanted was light years out of your reach?

"I will be there."

He knew he didn't sound overly enthusiastic and the glares Archer and Tucker shot him told him that it hadn't gone unnoticed.

"Come on, Malcolm, everybody needs some time to relax!"

The captain's voice had a certain sympathy to it.

The lieutenant just nodded.

"Understood, Sir!"

The mess hall was packed with people and every single one of them came over to congratulate Malcolm.

He felt uncomfortable with all this attention on him because the one whose awareness he would have loved to wake didn't even seem to notice him.

Commander Tucker was standing near to the captain, they were laughing and the Southerner's eyes were gleaming.

And all of a sudden, without a warning shot across the bow, it hit Malcolm.

In the past few months he had learned to live with the fact that the blond chief engineer was straight. But he wasn't. Trip Tucker was madly in love with Jonathan Archer! Those looks he shot the captain spoke volumes and the lieutenant couldn't believe he had noticed it earlier.

The realization cut Malcolm like a knife, the pain was almost physical. Trip being gay meant that technically he was available. But once again he wasn't to be had, his heart belonged to someone else.

And by the looks of it Captain Archer wasn't even aware of his best friend's feelings, didn't even notice the little, almost accidental caresses he received from Tucker or the way the Southerner clung to every word the older man was saying.

Somehow Malcolm managed to get through the evening. The drinks helped a lot. Usually he didn't drink but usually he wasn't this forlorn either.

The Brit saw Trip swaying over to him, the alcohol taking its toll.

"Once again…happy birthday, Malc!" he said, his drawl even more accentuated than usual, while handing over one of the glasses he had been carrying.

The normally merry blue eyes of the man in front of the tactical officer were troubled. He nipped at his beer and looked out of the window but his eyes darted to the captain more times than Reed cared for.

A drop of the amber liquid escaped over the rim of Tucker's glass. He caught it with his tongue and a shiver ran down Malcolm's spine.

He had to avert his eyes and he swallowed hard but his gaze was drawn to Tucker's mouth again as the Southerner's tongue whizzed out to moisten his lips.

Reed almost let out a small moan. The covert sensuality made him nervous and he ran his fingers over his mouth, trying to make the wishful tingling go away.

Trip's eyes were fixed on the Brit and as their eyes met for a moment the glance was full of lasciviousness.

The lieutenant sucked in a breath through clenched teeth as the commander sighed and looked back at the captain who at that moment was leaving the mess hall, walking into his private mess.

Malcolm didn't know if it was the alcohol or Tucker that made his head spin. He wanted to reach out, wanted to shake him, wanted to make the Southerner look at him and not at Jonathan. But he didn't.

Before he could do anything he would regret later—and somehow he was absolutely certain that he would regret everything that could happen—he turned around without a word and stormed out of the room.


Trip noticed Jonathan entering his private mess and he heaved a big sigh. At least now he didn't have to handle his best friend and beloved captain staring at Reed anymore.

It was hard to cope with that when you wanted nothing more but to feel the caress of those loving eyes on yourself. And that made it even harder to understand that Malcolm really didn't seem to notice it.

He turned to the lieutenant again, only to see that he was turning towards the mess hall door, also leaving without a word of goodbye.

Tucker closed his eyes and ran the back of his hand over his mouth. There was no point in staying any longer. He had drunk too much as it was, hanging about would put him in danger of drowning his sadness completely and he knew that that couldn't be the answer.


As Malcolm stopped in front of the observation lounge and heard his own rasping breath he realized that he had been running.

He rested his forehead against the comfortingly cold metal of the door and pushed the button to let the panel slide away.

When he found that he was alone he slumped against the wall opposite one of the large panoramic windows and slid down to the ground.

The Brit tried to shut out everything but the familiar humming sound of the ship's engines but he couldn't forget the way Trip's tongue had been dancing over his lips.


The door to the observation lounge slid aside and Tucker was surprised to find Malcolm sitting on the ground in one corner, legs pulled up against his chest, chin resting on his knees.

"Seems like this is the place to go tonight, huh, Malc?

He wasn't sure but he thought he saw the Brit abruptly brushing away a tear that was running down his cheek.

"Malc, are you okay?"

The armory officer cleared his throat. He tried do hide it, but the lump in his throat was obvious when he spoke.

"Sure, why shouldn't I be?"

Tucker slouched down next to him and nudged the other man's shoulder with his own.

"Yeah, right, it's absolutely obvious that ya're feelin' really good and that ya're in perfect birthday mood! Come on, it's me, Trip, your buddy! Tell me! Ya'll feel better!"

Reed kept staring out of the window, seemingly erecting an imaginary wall around him.

"No, I won't!"

The Southerner furrowed his brow.

"No what? No, ya won't tell me? Or no, ya won't feel better after ya've told me?"

Reed sighed, turned around and crossed his legs, hands lying loosely on his thighs. He raised his head and looked at the chief engineer, still saying nothing.

Tucker had the feeling like he saw the gray eyes for the first time, the depth and sorrow and fear and he could see what Jon saw in the lieutenant, what attracted his best friend to this man.

And he could see something else…love.

After the realization had settled in he knew that Malcolm was waiting for him, expecting him to lean closer, waiting for him to kiss him.

The Southerner's impulsive, mad side told him that it would feel good to kiss the Brit, to fall into his arms, to be given some warmth and affection. The rational side kept recalling Jon's face to Trip's memory, the emerald green eyes sparkling with that inner fire he possessed.

Never having been the rational type and being pushed over the top by the alcohol Tucker moved in on Malcolm, suddenly believing that kissing the lieutenant would somehow bring him closer to Jon, that experiencing what his best friend desperately wanted to experience would create a secret bond between him and the captain.

The lips, thinner than Jon's full sensuous lips, were warm and moist and after a short moment they responded to the soft pressure Trip was applying.


Malcolm could feel Trip's breath on his face. He sat very still as he felt the pressure of that wonderful mouth on his own and when he was sure that the Southerner wasn't going to back away he slowly opened his mouth and let his tongue glide between the pink lips.

His heart throbbed in his chest as he felt the commander answering his wordless plea and gently circling his tongue around the Brit's.

He had never felt more tenderness in one single kiss but he knew that this wasn't for real. This wasn't how he wanted Trip to be. This was Trip trying to escape his own feelings, trying to find something like a substitute.

But just as he was about to pull back he felt Tucker's hands cupping his face and he didn't want to think about anything else but cherishing and memorizing the feeling of the Southerner's touch.


Jonathan was lying on his bunk, staring at the ceiling, Porthos cuddled up next to him.

All evening long he hadn't been able to avert his eyes from his armory officer. The man had radiated a sadness and vulnerability that was palpable and it had broken the captain's heart to see him like that.

He had wanted to go over, to make that feeling go away but he had known he would never be able to do it. The way Malcolm had looked at Trip, the way his beautiful gray eyes had sparkled the one moment and had gone dull the next had been so painful.

And then seeing the lieutenant and the commander together, Trip lost in his thoughts, somehow not looking very happy himself, totally oblivious of the glimpses the Brit was casting him, and Malcolm, trying to conceal what he felt, his eyes always drawn to the blond Southerner.

Archer hadn't felt up to taking it any longer and had gone to his quarters almost immediately after Trip had left his side to talk to Malcolm.

He had been lying awake ever since, sleep unwilling to overwhelm him. He needed to talk to someone. And that someone could only be Trip, his best friend.

Archer got out off bed and headed for the Southerner's quarters, hoping to find him there.

He pushed the button and waited for Tucker to answer the door chime.

After a few minutes and two more attempts to get the chief engineer's attention Archer came to the conclusion that Trip was either fast asleep, knocked out by too much alcohol or that he had fled from his quarters to his favorite spot at this time of night.

He assumed it was the latter.

The door the observation lounge opened almost noiselessly and when Jonathan stepped into the oval room his eyes fell on Malcolm and Trip, sitting across from each other, entangled in a gently embrace, the commander's fingers laced into the lieutenant's black hair, the Brit's nose burrowed into the Southerner's neck.

Archer had to steady himself by putting one hand against the wall, his other hand shooting up to smother the disbelieving moan that was about to escape his mouth.

His two subordinate officers let go of each other, both staring at him but the expressions on their faces couldn't have been more different.


Trip couldn't remember ever having seen so much pain in his best friend's eyes. He cursed himself for giving in to his cravings, for not thinking, for not having considered what finding him and Malcolm would do to Jon.

Not only had he betrayed his own feelings for that man but also the confidence Archer had had in him when he had told him about Malcolm.


Reed saw the captain standing in the doorway, totally devastated. And he saw Trip's reaction, saw how the Southerner seemed to collapse at the expression on their CO's face.

"Jon, I didn't…" he heard Tucker pleading, the familiar drawl almost gone from his voice.

"Trip, you knew how I feel about him…" Archer's voice trailed off and out of the blue Malcolm realized why the captain was so shocked.

Seemingly becoming conscious about what he had just said Jonathan abruptly turned around and hurried out the lounge.

"Jon!" Trip groaned, jumping to his feet and following the older man.

Malcolm stayed behind, still feeling Tucker's hands in his face, still tasting the lingering flavor of the Southerner's mouth.

He had been given the present he had wanted the most…and he had lost it again immediately.

Pulling his legs back against his chest he placed his chin on his knees, hugged his arms around his shins and let the tears come.

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