Title: Reality

Author: Pretzelduck

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

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

Date: Posted to Archer's Enterprise, EntSTSlash and Reed's Archery Range 12/02/2003

Archive: Permission to archive granted to Archer's Enterprise, EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Summary: Malcolm makes a decision on what view of Jonathan Archer he wants to keep.

Warnings: None

Series: Perception

Previous story: Ambiguity

Number in series: 3

Work in Progress: No

Beta: None

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: 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.

Author's Notes: The action in this picks up from where Malcolm enters the turbolift in 'Ambiguity.' That being said, it and 'Perception' should probably be read first for any of this to make any sense.

As soon as I enter the lift, I hit the 'stop' button. The last thing I want to face at the moment is the sterile features of my own quarters. I can safely think in here. It's too early for my holding of the turbolift to disturb many. I still have two hours before my shift begins and I need to sort out my thoughts. I need to get the image of him out of my mind.


There are a dozen different things I could have said. The one that I chose implied that I would talk to him eventually. He is the captain so I cannot necessarily avoid him. However, that inability applies to duty-related interactions. Off-duty, I can…and have…give him a wide berth. He's too personable. Wanting to spend time with me. Seeking me out when he feels I've worked too many hours. It's rather distracting. He makes it difficult to keep him at a distance. That wide berth I've always tried to maintain has been shrinking as of late but I still managed to keep our exchanges within the professional realm.

Until last night, at least.

One look into those damnable eyes of his and all thoughts of professionalism seemed insignificant to me. All that mattered was the feel of Jonathan's lips against mine and any remaining distance between us dissolved when we returned each other's explorations without hesitation. Every caress made us bolder. Each kiss held more passion than the last. When we briefly parted, starved for air, he looked at me with a reverence I know I will always remember.

Jonathan cradled my head in his hands and not allowing me to look away from his eyes, he told me how long he had wanted me and how much I meant to him. He looked sincere and hopeful. Wanting me to respond with a similar declaration. I couldn't say anything. Nothing I said would be right and his illusion of me would have shattered. In actuality, I am not the man that Jonathan sees. But I didn't dare correct his mistake. No one has looked at me like I'm the center of their universe before. I could quite easily let myself become immersed in his gaze.

If only it was truly meant for me.

However, I cannot say that I regret my actions of last night. There was such tenderness in each of his movements and all of his words. Jonathan made me feel as if I was deserving of his warmth. That man is so persistent that a part of me believes that given time, he could convince me that I actually do. The piece of my mind that I have listened to my entire life reminds me of why I cannot give him that time.

It comes down to the propriety of an intimate relationship with my commanding officer. There would be innumerable complications and the constant concern regarding preferential treatment. I cannot become involved with my captain.

But it isn't my captain that I want. It's Jonathan. The man I allowed myself to see last night. That is who whispered words of affection to me and looked at me with such wonder. It would take but one more glance into his eyes for me to admit to him that I care for him as well.

I worry, though, how long my ability to keep the man separate from the captain will last. It's fleeting; abandoning me as I laid in his bed this morning only to return now after I've ignored his plea for me to talk to him. I never imagined that he could be so flustered and uncertain. Those are sensations I usually associate with myself instead. But he was. It was almost enough to keep my fingers from pressing the button to call the turbolift. Almost.

The distance I kept between us disappeared last night and I know if I go back to his quarters…if I talk to him about what happened between us…then there will be no return. I know, without a doubt, that I would not be able to lie to him. I couldn't last night and if he asked me what it meant to me, I would tell him the truth. I would say that it was everything. If I breach that distance one more time, it will be impossible to recreate. Jonathan would become a part of my life. I don't think he would accept anything less than an actual relationship. Complete with dinners and movies and endearments.

I have to admit that it is an intriguing image. The two of us cuddling together on his bed, watching an old movie, his arms around me, my fingers interlaced with his. Relaxed and comfortable with each other like Jonathan was with me in his bed.

Would the real end result of a final acknowledgement of my feelings be different than my imagined picture? Could Jonathan actually convince me of the veracity of his feelings and teach me to accept my own?

How much is too much faith to place in another person?

Everyday, I trust him with my life. Is my heart…my true self…any different?

Jonathan came after me. He has done it before but never down the corridors of Enterprise, in his underwear, and with so much emotion in his eyes. He has refused to leave me behind, be it alive or dead, and now he has refused to let me leave him behind. To walk away from his life without saying why.

If I had remained with my original assumption, that he is the captain and nothing else, then I would not be thinking about any of this. But at the right moment, I looked into his eyes and truly saw Jonathan. So now I know.

I don't want to walk away.

My uniform is disgracefully rumpled and I'm in desperate need of a shower and a shave but I'm going back. To him. To Jonathan.

It seems like barely a second passes before the lift door opens and I find myself back out in the hallway, this time walking toward his cabin instead of away from it. Rounding the corner, I'm presented with something I did not expect. A view of Commander Tucker leaning against the doorway to Jonathan's open quarters.

I keep my footsteps soft so I can creep close enough to make out what they are saying. Nothing about Jonathan and me; the commander is prattling on about an adjustment he wants to make to the intake manifolds.

Perhaps this wasn't the best idea. Obviously, I can't talk to him with the commander around.

Wait…he's leaving and not walking anywhere toward me. I don't think he even noticed my presence in the corridor behind him. Poor observational skills, in my opinion.

But Jonathan sees me. I can feel his eyes fall on me before he shuts the door. My eyes meet his, although I've given them no such command.

There's that look of awe again. It pulls me toward him. This time I let myself become engulfed by it. Each step I take makes his smile a little bigger. Each one gives me a little more strength. When I finally reach him, he wraps his arms around me and finishes what his eyes began, pulling me inside his quarters until the door shuts behind us.

It's just the two of us now and this close to him, I can feel his body trembling slightly. Insecurity has replaced the wonderment in his eyes. My being here is almost too much for him to believe.

"It's all right, Jonathan. I didn't know if I was coming back either."

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