Title: Enterprise Christmas Carol, An

Author: Beverly Crusher

E-mail: bev_crusher1971@yahoo.de


Archive: Permission to archive granted to Archers_Enterprise, MEG-Archive, EntSTSlash, reedsarchery, reedsarmory,

Rating: NC-17, no sex with the Ghosts, but with Jon.

Status: complete

Sequel to: none

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Spoilers: none

Disclaimer: the usual…me…nada…Paramount…all…lucky bastards *sigh"

Beta: The wonderful "Queen of drabbles"…Mareel!

Summary: We all know the story of Charles Dickens and Ebenezer Scrooge. But what would happen if the three Christmas ghosts visited our boys on Enterprise?

Author's Notes: This story was inspired by the novel from Charles Dickens, and by the movies "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, and "The Muppet Christmas Carol." Heavy sappy Christmas fic. Enjoy.

Feedback: Pleeeeaseeeeee…that would make my Christmas complete.



Malcolm Reed had an uneasy sleep that night.

It was the night before Christmas, and the two weeks lying behind him had been pure hell to put it mildly. Everyone on this damned ship seemed to be willing to spread Christmas joy, whether he liked it or not. Now he almost had nightmares about reindeers, Santa's, decorated Christmas trees, and scented candles.

Malcolm turned around, hit his fist into his pillow, and tried to sleep. His lover next to him stirred slightly in his sleep. Malcolm kissed him tenderly on the naked shoulder, and rested his chin lightly on the soft skin.

"Why won't you accept that I'm not as enthusiastic about Christmas as you and the rest of the crew?"

Shuddering, he thought about their last argument. It was about Christmas…again. About the Christmas party, to be precise…

Jon stared at him.

"I just don't get it. Why are you so…stubborn? Everybody loves Christmas. What the hell happened to you, that you have such an aversion to it? It's the time of the year…"

"…the time of the year where we are all full of peace and love to each other…blah blah blah. Accept it Jon, I am not keen on Christmas. You don't get it? I don't get it why you have the need to embrace the whole world on that night. Tell me, and maybe I'll understand it."

Jon slumped in a nearby chair, and his face took on a dreamy expression.

"When I was a child, my father always used to dress up as Santa Claus. He had a big sack with our gifts in it. I remember one Christmas eve when I was absolutely convinced that I would get no gift at all. I had broke my mother's favorite vase, a present from her aunt. She had loved it so much, and I'd broken it. And worst of all, I lied to her when she asked me about it, telling her it was the cat that had knocked it down. Of course she knew I was lying. She could read it in my eyes. But she pretended to believe me. And then came Christmas, and I got exactly what I longed for so much. A puppy. A puppy just like Porthos. I will never forget it."

Jon looked at Malcolm again. And in his eyes Malcolm saw the memory of the love and the joy the little boy must have been feeling that night.

"I loved her so much it almost hurt. I told her the whole truth about the vase on that same evening, and she simply took me in her arms, kissed me, and forgave me."

He stood up again, stepped closer to Malcolm, and took the stiff body of his lover in his arms. Nuzzling his face in the younger man's neck, he softly murmured.

"That's why I love Christmas so much. And that's why I want to spend every Christmas eve with the people I love most. And you are on the top of my list."

Sighing Malcolm remembered his own reaction. He had freed himself from his lover's embrace, had stuttered something like "I don't want to. I can't. You wouldn't understand," and within a heartbeat he had practically fled out of his lover's quarters, hoping that Jon would leave it at that.

No way.

His lover insisted on his presence. It was his right. He was the captain. But the last

word hadn't been spoken.

The man lying next to Malcolm moved in his sleep, and gave him a little hook on the chin with his shoulder. Smiling at this, Malcolm cuddled closer to Jonathan, sneaked his arms around the other man's waist, and tried to go back to sleep.

This time he was successful.


Part 1 "The ghost from the past"

Malcolm awoke with a sudden intake of breath. Something chilly had touched his skin.

Something very, very cold, like an ice-cube that slid slowly along his spine. In an instant he sat bolt upright. Instinctively he looked at the time.

It was 0134 hours.

He rubbed his eyes when his gaze fell on a sparkling trail on the floor. He watched the trace starting at his bed, crossing his quarters, and disappearing under the door, leading to the hallway.

Curious now, Malcolm swung his legs out of the bed, put on his trousers and a loose-fitting shirt. Without waking his lover, he left Jon's quarters, and followed the trail. It led through half of the ship, ending in the messhall. He lifted his gaze until it fell on a man who was sitting in a chair by a viewport.

Malcolm felt himself go pale, his knees went weak, and his heart skipped a beat. There in the chair sat his old friend Elliot Dougall, smiling at him. There was only one thing that was really disturbing at that moment…Elliot Dougall died in a shuttlecraft—accident several years ago.

Elliot Dougall was dead.

Blindly, Malcolm reached for a chair, and sat down heavily. He tried to speak, opened his mouth, closed it again, looking very much like a fish on dry land. Elliot's face lit up in one of his blinding smiles. He got up, stepped closer to Malcolm, and gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder.

"Hey, Weapon. Are you all right?"


No one had called him that in a long while. Back in the academy where he had trained, he had become close friends with a few people. They had known of his love for weapons systems, phase pistols, and cannons. So somewhere in the second semester, someone ame up with the nickname "Weapon" for him. It stuck with him for years, until the day Elliot died. That was one of Malcolm's darkest hours. Since then no one had ever mentioned that nickname again.

And now here he was.


His smile was beaming as brightly as ever. His jet black hair was a little ruffled as always. His hand on Malcolm's shoulder was warm and strong. Familiar.

The world seemed to shift around Malcolm. There was only Elliot's hand to steady him.

Finally Malcolm was able to utter one word.


Elliot sat down on a chair next to Malcolm.

"Elliot, what are you doing here?"

"You're in deep trouble, Weapon."

Malcolm swallowed hard.

"What do you mean? Is there something with the ship?"

Elliot laughed heartily. His chocolate brown eyes were glistening with joy just like in old times, when he was alive. Then he became serious again.

"No, Weapon. There's nothing with the ship. But there is something with you. Do you know what day it is tomorrow?"

Malcolm turned away from his old friend, and groaned in frustration.

"Not you, too!"

Elliot reached out, and turned Malcolm to him again.

"Yes, me, too. Malcolm, why do you hate Christmas so much? You never told me about it."

Malcolm closed his eyes, trying to suppress the feeling of loneliness that always threatened to overwhelm him at this time of the year. He pinched the bridge of his nose, and tried to hide his inner turmoil.

"Elliot, I told you once that I don't want to talk about it, and I will tell you the same now. There are…were…there were incidents in the past…with my parents. So I'm not too keen on celebrating this day. Can't we just leave it at that?"

"No, we can't. Malcolm, we MUST talk about it."

Now Malcolm jumped up from his chair, the anger evident in his face.

"WHY? Why do we have to talk about it? Why does EVERYONE have to talk about it? I don't WANT to talk about it. Accept that."

Now Elliot became angry too. He followed Malcolm, grabbing his arm, forcing the armory officer to look him in the eyes.

"Malcolm, something will happen. You have insulted a very important entity. You have to bear the consequences. I'm here to warn you. And maybe give you one last chance."

The right corner of Malcolm's mouth quirked slightly upward. He folded his arms in front of his chest and stared at his old friend. His old DEAD friend.

"Warn me?"

Elliot's eyes became a touch darker. Malcolm knew that as a sign of terrible ire. Involuntarily, he moved back a little.

"You will be visited by three ghosts. I tried to spare you that. But you leave me no choice. Three ghosts, of which the first will come one hour from now. Await him.

And you will think of me. Await him…"

With a startled gasp, Malcolm awoke in the arms of his lover. In his own bed.


Part 2 "The first ghost"

Malcolm tried in vain to calm his wildly beating heart. He sat up, breathing deeply in and out several times. Slowly, so as to not to disturb the sleeping man next to him, he moved out of the bed, fumbling his way to the lavatory. He switched on the light, and flinched a little in the sudden brightness.

He stared into his eyes.

It's been a dream.

Nothing more than a bad dream. Elliot had not been here. Oh my, what a weird dream.

He sat down on the toilet. It had felt so real. So terrible real. Feeling Elliot's hand on his shoulder, hearing his voice, that old nickname. It took Malcolm all his willpower to choke back the sobs that threatened to surface.

After a few minutes, he was finally able to stand again. His knees still weak, he slowly moved back to the bed, lifted the duvet, and snuggled close to the warmth radiating from Jon, who was still fast asleep. He found it hard to return to sleep. With a quick glance he checked the time.

It was 0218 hours.

So early. Then a thought came to his mind.

"…the first will come one hour from now…"

The hour was almost over, and though he knew with all his rational thought that there WERE no things like ghosts, he found himself tense up in anticipation. The minutes went by slowly, so slowly, agonizingly slowly. And ever so slowly, Malcolm started to relax.

0232 hours.

Malcolm allowed himself a little smile about his own stupidity. Ghosts. Pah! Who believed in ghosts when born and raised in the 22. century?

0237 hours.

Malcolm's famous half smile was settled on his features, his limbs grew heavy and he was more than ready to go back to sleep, when suddenly…


…a tiny voice whispered in his ear. Malcolm's eyes flew open. Every single hair on his body stood at attention, and he jerked upright as if someone had just stabbed a rod through his back.

Right there in front of him was a…well, it looked like a fairy out of his…his sister's childhood books. A little female creature, dressed in a white gown, with fragile silver wings.

It was amazing.

She had the most beautiful face that he had ever seen. Whenever she moved her wings he heard the sound of tiny bells.

"Who are you?" he finally managed to ask.

The shimmering Intensified for a few seconds, blinding him so that he had to close his eyes. When he could open them again, the shining creature had grown to a size of a twelve-year-old child. It was a girl, he could see that clearly now. She had big baby-blue eyes, long, golden curls and a lovely heart-shaped face.

Now she had her arms crossed, and tapped impatiently with her small foot on the floor.

No, wait.

She tapped…air. It would have been hard for her to do the tapping on the floor for she hovered almost ten inch above the floor.

Malcolm tried not to panic, which wasn't so easy, considering what he had been experiencing in the messhall an hour ago.

"You don't know me?"

The girl's voice was angelic. Slowly Malcolm shook his head.

"Should I?"

The soft expression on her face didn't change, not even for a second, when she turned around and punched her little fist directly in Malcolm's stomach. Crying out in pain, Malcolm collapsed on the floor like a Swiss blade knife. Bloody hell, that really hurt.

He pressed his hands to his body, and hissed through clenched teeth.

"What was that for?"

The little girl knelt down next to him, still wearing that sweet, innocent smile on her face.

"You know me now, don't you?"

Stubbornly Malcolm shook his head. The pain only slowly subsided.

"Who ARE you?"

Now the girl turned away from him, raising her eyes to the ceiling, and with a voice like thunder she shouted.


Malcolm looked over toward the bed, but to his amazement, his lover kept on sleeping. Then recognition hit him like a hammer. Eyes wide open he stared at the shining figurine.

"You…you are the ghost, aren't you? The first one of three. The one Elliot told me, no, warned me about. Now I can see why."

The angelic smile was back on the Ghost's face.

"See, that's what I like about English-man. You're so clever…well, at least sometimes. So, are you ready?"

Malcolm slowly got up from the floor, still holding his hurting stomach. He hold up on hand in a defending gesture.

"What was the punch for? Bloody hell, I have the feeling a truck hit me."

The Ghost's smile became impossible wider. She clenched her right hand to a fist, and swung it a few times forth and back. Malcolm ducked his head involuntarily.

"I still can do it, can't I? Though I must admit that I'm a little out of practice. You know, in the last few hundred years people have been far more imaginative than one would guess. I dislike violence."

"Oh yes? Pardon me, but you could have fooled me. I really got the impression you liked seeing me writhing on the floor."

The sarcasm was lost on this Ghost. She just smiled, and looked at Malcolm again, more defiantly this time.

"Let's just stop this now. So, are you ready to go, Malcolm?"

Now Malcolm raised himself to his full height, but was nonetheless forced to looked up at her, for she still hovered above the floor just far enough for her to look down on him.

They stood like that for several minutes, until his neck became stiff, and he decided to give in. He heaved a deep sigh.

"All right. I can't say I'm ready, but let's go before you hit me again."

She cast him her blinding smile again, and this time it was blinding in the truest sense of the word. The shine around her became so bright that he had to close his eyes. When he could open them again, he noticed that the surroundings had changed dramatically.

He was no longer on board Enterprise, he was standing in a snow-covered garden which was painfully familiar. It was…

"The garden of Aunt Charlotte's, my father's sister. I had to spend one Christmas' eve here. Can't say I really liked it."

Malcolm shivered in the cold. He was wearing only his thin underwear. The Ghost next to him now showed sympathy. For the first time.

"Would you like to go inside?"

Malcolm winced.

"No. No, not really. I know what you want to show me. I don't want to see it."

She stared at him with a dead-pan expression, and began to clench and unclench her right hand. Again he knew that he had to give in. He sighed, and gestured towards the front door.

"Okay, you'll take the lead, I'll follow."

Within the blink of an eye he stood inside the mansion. The hall was pompously decorated with evergreen, mistletoe, and bells. It had always reminded him of an old trashy movie.

He had always hated it.

Suddenly he heard the soft tapping of bare feet on wood floors. He turned and saw his two cousins running down the big stairway. They were wearing their favorite pajamas, the ones with the horses on them. And there, a few steps behind them, a little boy came downstairs. He wore a unicoloured pajama in blue, his dark hair was mussed up, his gray eyes were sad.

Malcolm was staring at himself.

Oh how well he remembered that special Christmas. He was ten years old, but looked younger because of his slim figure. His parents had been attending a large, official Navy-Ball. His sister was with her best friend.

And Malcolm?

He had to go to Aunt Charlotte.

He watched himself slowly walk behind his two cousins, and disappear into the living room.

Malcolm swallowed hard. It had been one hell of a Christmas. While his cousins unpacked one gift after another, revealing toys, books, and lots of that little nonsense little boys love so much, he had only one gift. It wasn't wrapped, for his father used to say that there was no sense in wrapping things in expensive paper.

"You will throw away the paper anyway."

His gift on that Christmas eve had been a book about the History of the Royal Navy. How well he remembered the teasing of his cousins, the mocking looks of his Aunt Charlotte, and his own feeling of embarrassment.

He had cried himself to sleep that night, wishing with all his heart that at least Maddie would be here. Maddie had given him her gift earlier. A self-drawn picture of herself, together with him. As he was lying in the strange bed, hundreds of miles away from her, crying in his loneliness, he held it pressed to his heart -the only friendly anchor in an uncaring world.

Now Malcolm stood there, grown-up, his feelings under control.

But deep in his heart he still could feel the pain, the humiliation, the emptiness in his heart. A tear came to his eyes, but with a vigorous movement he wiped it away.

He jerked slightly when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was the Ghost.

"Come, let's move on. There are other Christmas's I want to show you."

He shook his head. No, he didn't want to see more. What weird kind of satisfaction brought it to that strange little Ghost to see him suffer like this?

But before he could open his mouth to protest she snapped her fingers, and he found himself in his parent's house. Maddie came down the stairs, looking beautiful. She wore a red dress, accentuating her fair skin, and her dark hair.

Malcolm felt a lump in his throat.

Not that Christmas as well.

The memory came back so clearly that it almost hurt physically.

Deborah had broken up with him on that Christmas. He knew where he had been on that night, and although he wanted nothing more than to run away as far and as fast as he could, he felt an inner urge to cross the living room, and open the door to the kitchen.

There he saw himself again.

He was twenty-one. Still smaller than the rest, a fact that would never change. He sat on the table, the picture-phone in front of him.

"That's your decision?"

His voice sounded controlled, quiet, almost cold.

"I'm sorry, Malcolm. Believe it or not. But there's no way that…that thing between us could ever work. You're so different."

You're so different. These words cut into his heart like a knife. Malcolm took a step closer, looking his younger self over the shoulder.


The face of an angel, a voice like silk, but a heart of stone. She had broken his heart on that Christmas eve. He had known that she would break up with him. But why of all days did it had to be this one? Wasn't she able to wait just one more day?

He had loved her so much. She had been his first great love. He had plans. Plans with her. And then she broke up with him. Just like that, without any reason.

You're so different.

Malcolm closed his eyes. Damned tears. He took a deep, shuddering breath.

"You're so different."

Those words again, this time muttered softly by another voice.


He opened his eyes wide. The scenery had changed. They were now in his room at the Academy. He was lying in bed with Justin, his first male lover. Justin had shown him how amazing love between two men could be.

"You're so different."

Justin smiled, that special smile that had been reserved for his lover only. Only for Malcolm. The 24-year-old-version of Enterprise's armory officer was stretching luxuriously next to the lean, well-muscled form of his lover, then he kissed him lovingly on the shoulder, gently nibbling his way over the collarbone upwards to the waiting mouth.

"What do you mean?"

He felt Justin's right hand that gently stroked up and down his spine.

"You're so special to me, Mal. I can't imagine how I lived without you."

"But why am I different?"

Justin grinned, his hand slid down his body until it reached Malcolm's penis. Tenderly he closed his hand around the rapidly hardening member. Malcolm moaned softly.

"You're so responsive. No one ever showed me so much love like you do. No one ever LOVED me like you do. Or like I love you. That makes you different."

Suddenly Justin jumped out of the bed, leaving his aroused lover full of curiosity behind. He stepped to his wardrobe, opened it, and took something out of the jacket he had worn that afternoon. With a wide smile on his face, and a devil dancing in his eyes he handed Malcolm a little box, wrapped in paper with hearts on it.

"Merry Christmas, love."

Malcolm's jaw fell. His eyes filled with tears, his hands a little shaky he took the box carefully.

"For me?"

Justin laughed at the obvious surprise in his lover's voice.

"Of course for you. Open it."

For some very long seconds Malcolm only stared at the box, not moving. Justin got nervous. Tentatively he reached out, and touched Malcolm's shoulder.

"Mal? What's wrong? Say something, love, please."

Malcolm raised his head until his gray eyes found the brown ones of his lover. To his utter shock, Justin saw tears in the other man's eyes. But before he could say something, he was nearly squashed by 150 lbs of English-man. Malcolm was speechless. Of course he had a present for his lover. It was natural for him.

But never before had one of his lovers, male or female, bought a present for him. He was so used to giving and not receiving that this gesture simply overwhelmed him.

Smiling, Justin pressed Malcolm close to his heart. How much he loved this weird English-man. But it was HIS weird English-man.

Malcolm freed himself from his lover's embrace, reached over to the nightstand, and pulled out a wrapped gift.

It had taken some hard thinking to find the perfect present for his lover, but finally he had found it. In an old library that he passed everyday on his way to the Academy. The first edition of Zefrem Cochran's book "The First Human Warp Flight".

Justin adored Cochran, so it was just perfect. He left the old book store with a little song in his heart.

Justin reacted just the way Malcolm had expected. He tore the wrap open, saw the book, and hugged Malcolm so strongly that he heard his ribs crack slightly.

Now it was up to Malcolm to open his gift. Hesitantly he tugged on the bow, until it gave way, and the paper opened. Now Malcolm stared at a little black box. His heart began to beat faster. Slowly he opened the box, and his gaze fell on a extraordinary wristwatch from Calvin Hill.

He looked up, and his gaze locked with Justin's who stared expectantly at his lover.

"That's…that's beautiful."

Justin's smile almost blinded him in its pure joy.

"Take it out. There is something engraved on the backside."

Carefully Malcolm put the watch out of the package, and turned it around. With tears in his eyes he read the words

"For my one and only. Love J."

The vision blurred, and Malcolm tried in vain to keep the memory of this special Christmas.

Meanwhile the tears streamed down his face.

Once more he felt a hand on his shoulder but this time he wasn't startled. Then a soft voice whispered into his ear.

"It is really not my intention to torture you. All I show you is past. It is gone. You can't interfere, you can't keep it, you can't change it."

She became silent, leaving him to his thoughts. After a few seconds she continued.

"I'll leave you now. The next Ghost will come soon. Be prepared for him. And don't be afraid."

Her voice vanished, and Malcolm found himself in his quarters on Enterprise. The Ghost was gone.


Part 3 "The second Ghost"

He slumped to the floor. In his agony he braced himself against the pain that seemed to be overwhelming. Deborah. Justin. They were gone. Long gone. Deborah had married the football-star of their college, and Justin…Justin had gone to Australia, one and a half years after their Christmas together. They had tried to stay in contact, but after four months had passed without a word from him, Malcolm had stopped grieving and moved on. Maybe Justin had forgotten him. Only two years later, he heard that Justin had moved in with a woman, that he was married, and had three healthy children.

Slowly he crawled to his nightstand, opened the first drawer, and searched silently until his fingers closed around something cold.

The watch.

He pulled it out, and examined it in the light of the passing stars. Tenderly he touched the watch face, felt under his fingertips every single scratch. Then he turned it over. The engraving was worn over the years. But still he could read the words.

"For my one and only. Love J."

For two happy years he had truly believed that he could be Justin's one and only. After him he had trusted no one.

He'd had plenty of affairs over the past years. But only on a physical level. No one had been able to conquer his heart.

Until Jonathan Archer came into his life.

With a feeling of unending gratitude he looked over to the bed, where his lover was sprawled out. Suddenly he yearned for the nearness of his lover, the warmth of his skin, the soft breathing, the steady beating of his strong heart. He got up, which wasn't easy.

His knees were still like jelly.

When he crawled under the cover, Jon reached out in his sleep and pulled him near.

Without any resistance, Malcolm let himself being pulled into that loving embrace. Jon cuddled him up like he was a giant teddy-bear. Malcolm loved it.

"I love you so much," he whispered.

Then he closed his eyes, but his body stayed tense. He knew that the second Ghost had to arrive soon. What would he be like? What would he show him?

He felt tired, and slowly he shut his eyes.

"Ho Ho Ho…wake up, Sleepy head. It is Christmas!"

The voice thundered in his head, and he jumped. He felt no reaction from Jon who was normally very sensitive to any disturbance.

He sat up, and stared into the darkness.


No, there beneath the door to the hallway he saw a golden shimmer. Like burning candles. Reluctantly he unfolded Jon's arms that held him tight, and followed the lights.

When the doors opened in front of him, he was sure that he had to be dreaming.

There before him stood a very tall, very thick man, dressed in a typical Santa-Claus-outfit.

Next to him stood a giant Christmas-tree, decorated with tinsel, glitter-balls, tiny toys made of wood and straw, and a beautiful angel stuck on the top.

A big pile of wrapped packages was lying round the tree. Dozens of candles were lit and illuminated the room in a enchanted way.

Malcolm felt himself stare at all the wondrous things. Then he looked back at the big man. His blue eyes were friendly, and he looked at him with such a warmth that Malcolm felt his heart response.

Without any fear he stepped nearer.

"Are you the Ghost?" he asked.

The big man nodded. His voice was gentle and caring.

"I am the Ghost of the present Christmas. I will show you what you normally will not be able to see. Are you ready?"

Malcolm nodded without hesitation, and accepted the proffered hand.

Within milliseconds they were standing in…

"Maddie's house."

Happily, Malcolm turned around to the smiling big Santa.

"We're at Maddie's house. Where is she?"

"Come with me, and I will show you all you need to know."

Without Malcolm noticing, they changed locations, and stood in the living-room. There was Maddie with her fiance. They were sitting together, holding hands, but somehow his sister seemed to be sad.

"Maddie? What's wrong with her?"

The Ghost gently nudged him closer.

"Listen to her, and you will understand."

Malcolm took a few steps. Now he could hear the words.

"I wonder what Malcolm's doing now?"

Her fiance Daniel cradled her face in his hand.

"I'm sure he is happy where is now."

"You are?"

Daniel nodded. Leaning over he gave her a kiss.

"I AM. Didn't you say that your big brother can take care of himself?"

Maddie's posture sagged a bit. The look she gave Daniel was a little doubtful.

"Nooo, actually I always used to say that Malcolm HATES Christmas. I even had a present for him, but he didn't call me, so I couldn't even show it to him. Look, I'm sure he would have liked it."

Maddie left the living-room for a few moments, and came back with a big box. Carefully she opened it. Daniel made a strange face, then he reached into the box, and Malcolm's jaw dropped.

Daniel was holding two weapons in his hand. It was a pair of old dueling pistols. The set from the Antique shop in San Francisco. He had mentioned it to Maddie the day he had last seen her. She had visited him at the academy, and on their walk to the restaurant they had passed the Antique shop. The dueling pistols were lying in the shop window, and Malcolm had been fascinated.

She had remembered that.

Tears came to his eyes. Before he could blink them away the settings changed. He found himself in the mess-hall on Enterprise again.

The room was only very slightly decorated. There wasn't all that much Christmas stuff to be found on Enterprise. But the lights in the room were dimmed, and on all the tables candles were lit. In one corner stood a big tree, illuminated with dozens of lights.

Almost the whole crew was there except the gamma shift, which had to stay on the bridge.

Then he saw Jonathan. And Trip. With a smile on his face he crossed the room to join them.

"Hello, Trip. Captain."

No one noticed him, no one responded. With a questioning look in his eyes he turned around to face the Ghost.

"You can not interfere. They do not see you, they can not hear you. Just watch and listen and you will understand."

Attentive he turned to Trip and Jon again, this time concentrating on the conversation.

"So, where's your English-man?"

Trip's voice sounded friendly. Malcolm was surprised. Did he know? Had Jon told him about their relationship?

Jon's voice sounded sad, and even a little hurt as he answered.

"In his quarters. You know he don't like parties, and especially Christmas."

Trip looked surprised.

"Why not? Hell, everybody loves Chris'mas."

"Not everybody. Not Malcolm. Oh Trip, I was close to ORDERING him to come here. He would rather face a court-martial, I guess, than to join us on Christmas."

"D'you know why?"

Jon shook his head.

"Nope. He's locked up like an oyster about that. We had an argument last night that I thought 'That's it. He'll leave me.' And just because of this party. If he ever talks to me again, and won't break up with me, I'll spend all my future Christmas night's alone. At least not together with him."

Full of sympathy Trip laid his hand on Jon's shoulder.

"He won't leave ya. He's too much in love. Believe me. Now come on. Let's get you some of the eggnog. It's Hoshi's famous traditional recipe. Even T'Pol tried it."

The smile returned to Jon's face.

"No way. T'Pol?"

Trip's eyes sparkled.

"You betcha…but I'm sure she just did it to please Hoshi."

Laughing, the two men went away, joining the crowd of people who was starting to sing an old-fashioned Christmas-song. "Have yourself a merry little Christmas…"

Malcolm swallowed. Why hadn't he noticed how much his presence meant to his lover?

He felt sick. Heart-sick. Mind-sick. Miserable.

Watching his friends and colleagues sing, exchanging gifts, and telling old stories of home made his heart weep.

"Do not cry. You still can change the things. This is only what could happen. It is not written yet.

The Ghosts voice was rumbling in his chest. When Malcolm turned he was surprised to see that the Ghost had aged heavily. Concerned, he rested one hand on the Ghosts broad shoulder.

"Ghost? What is happening to you?"

The Ghost laughed.

"I am growing old. My time is almost over. I live only one night. It is the same for hundreds of years in the past and in the future. When the morning comes I will be gone."

Malcolm clung to the arm of the friendly Ghost.

"Don't leave me, please. I think I'm beginning to understand the meaning of Christmas. But please, stay here. Show me more. Just…don't leave me."

Smiling the Ghost patted Malcolm's hand. And before Malcolm could say anything more, he vanished. Only his voice remained, echoing in his head.

"Await the last Ghost soon. And then you will truly understand."

With that Malcolm was alone again. Standing shaking in his quarters, staring at the floor.


Part 4 "The last Ghost"

Malcolm sat down on the bed, next to Jon, lost in thought. He had never understood before why Jon had insisted so strongly on his being there at the Christmas party. Now slowly realization dawned.

He loved him. JON loved him so much that he even told his long-time best friend about him. He didn't even TRY to hide their relationship. It was all or nothing to Jon.

And here he was. Malcolm, stubborn, British to his bones, and denying him his presence on this night of nights.

And why?

Because of the events in his past?


But who was responsible for that?


Surely not.

So why did Malcolm punish him for things he had absolutely nothing to do with?

Maybe with Jon's love, with his strength at his side, with his hands gently guiding him, he could learn to love Christmas again.

He had reached over to carefully touch Jon's shoulder when he suddenly sensed that he was no longer alone. Suspicious, he turned and was startled to see a tall, slim figure standing in the middle of his quarters.

A woman.

She was dressed in black, with long deep-black hair, and dark eyes. Her skin was fair, almost translucent, and in her eyes Malcolm saw all the grief of the world.

"You are the third Ghost? Of the Christmas's to come?"

Silently she nodded.

"Okay then, let's go."

Again she nodded, then she raised her hand in a graceful manner, and the surroundings became blurred for a moment, whereupon they returned to normal again.

He found himself at Maddie's house again. His lips curved up in a slight smile. Maybe his future wasn't as bleak as he had imagined it?

He stepped closer to the living-room door and carefully pushed it open. Inside he saw a tall, sparkling tree and his sister, Daniel, Jon, and at least five kids from 2-1/2 to 12 years of age. He smiled as he entered the room, until he caught sight of the lost expression on Jon's face.

Malcolm was in full alert-mode when he turned to the Ghost.

"What's wrong here?"

Without saying a word she gestured toward a little boy about 5 years old, who was now running to Jon, tugging on his trousers.

"Daddy Jon? Where is Daddy Malcolm?"

Malcolm couldn't believe his ears. Children? They really had children together? But where was he himself? Well, his older-self, to be precise.

Jon reached down, and lifted the child to cradle it in his arms.

"Daddy Malcolm is at home. He didn't want to come with us tonight."

"Why not? Doesn't he love us?"

Malcolm heart almost broke in his chest when he heard the question. Was it really that what other people thought? That he didn't love them, didn't care for them because he left them alone in this special night?

Yes. It was so obvious.

He listened only half-heartedly to Jon's reply.

"My god, no. You should never ever think that Daddy doesn't love you. It's just that he doesn't like to be in public on a day like this."

It was so hard to explain to a little five-year-old. But Jon was doing his best.

The Ghost appeared before him, and stretched out her arms. Her black cape covered the scene for a second, and when she lowered her arms again, it had changed.

They were back on Enterprise. In the mess-hall. People were laughing, drinking, unwrapping gifts, embracing each other. He saw Trip, his blond hair now was a heavy gray, and he was wearing…what…glasses? Malcolm grinned wide. And he was captain.

Hoshi now was commander. She was married to a very attractive man, someone Malcolm didn't know.

T'Pol. Unchanged though the years though she wore her hair longer, tied back in a pony-tail. Very nice.

Travis. Also a commander, but with a different uniform. He had joined the MACO, and seemed to be very content. He had become a bit thicker. It suited him. He had lost all the juvenile, and looked more adult. He even was wearing a beard.

There was only one person missing. No, actually two.

Jon and himself.

He looked questioningly at the Ghost.

She spoke, for the first time. With a voice that echoed all the pain, and all the grief in the whole universe. Tears came to his eyes just listening to her voice.

"He is not here. Listen to him, and you will know why."

She gestured gracefully to Trip. Malcolm stepped closer, a lump formed in his throat.

Trip was talking to Hoshi. Though Malcolm hated to eavesdrop, he had to know what was going on.

"Where is the Admiral anyway?"

Admiral? Malcolm felt his heart swell with proud. His lover would be an Admiral.

Trip carelessly shrugged his shoulders. His face changed to an unreadable expression.

"Dunno…maybe in his quarters. Just like every year. I'll go check on him later. You know, he's doing his job, every goddamn day of the year. He's out here in space, making first contact with dozens of different species, hammering out negotiations. And he's doin' it good. But every year on Chris'mas he breaks down. It's always the same. And I can't change it. God knows I've tried."

Hoshi's eyes clouded.

"I just don't understand it. All because of him?"

Trip nodded courtly. It was very obvious that he didn't want to talk about it, but Hoshi couldn't let him off the hook.

"What happened, Captain? What happened really?"

Trip's face closed completely. Now Malcolm could see pure, unbridled aversion. He became frightened. What had happened? Who was 'him'? Where was Jon?

"He died. Malcolm died on Christmas. It was exactly eight years ago. Jon was away with us, out celebrating. And Malcolm was alone at home when it happened. It was an accident, but Jon could never forgive himself for not being there when his…"

The rest of the sentence trailed off. Hoshi remained silent. She was terrible embarrassed. She had had no clue about it.

Malcolm could feel himself go pale. Without turning he addressed the Ghost. His voice was harsh, and thick with emotion.

"Lemme see him. Please."

The scenery changed, and he saw Jon. It broke his heart. Malcolm slumped to the floor in tears when he saw the man that was once full of life, and love, and happiness.

Nothing was left. He was only a shadow of his former self.

Jon was in his dark quarters, only dimly illuminated by passing stars. He sat by a viewport. Though he was still tall, Malcolm could see the signs that age had left. His hair was gray, a little longer than usual, just as Malcolm had always loved it. His shoulders were slumped slightly forward, his back was bowed.

Malcolm crawled closer, inch by inch, though he was not sure whether he'd like what he'd see.

When he was close enough to look Jon in the eyes, he was horrified. There was no life in them any more. They were black holes, without hope, without feeling.

Slowly Malcolm rose again to his feet. On the nightstand he saw a picture, and stepped nearer to take a closer look. It showed Jon and an older version of himself, each of them with a child on his arms. Malcolm held a little girl, Jon a slightly older boy. Two children.

Jon's dream. They had made it. Somehow they had made it, and had been able to build a family.

Where were the children now?

Suddenly the door-chime rang. Jon didn't reply.

It rang again. And again. And again.

After the fourth or fifth time Jon finally uttered a mumbled

"Come in, Trip."

The door swooshed open, and Trip entered. He stepped closer to Jon, knelt down in front of him, and took the trembling hands of his old friend in his own. His voice was soft, like silk.

"Jon, why don't you come to the mess-hall, and join us? Please. They are asking for you."

Jon closed his eyes, a single tear escaped his lids and slowly run down his wrinkled cheek.

"I can't," he whispered.

Trip sighed. Apparently they had had this kind of discussion pretty often in the past.

"Jon, please. Not tonight. Don't torture yourself with your memories. One day you have to forget. And forgive yourself. It wasn't your fault, you know that, Jon, don't you?"

"I should have been there for him. Maybe the accident wouldn't have happened if I had been there for him. I let him down."

Tenderly Trip wiped the tear away.

"No, my friend. You didn't let him down. You would have never let him down. And I'm sure he wouldn't blame you at all."

Malcolm slowly shook his head, barely able to speak.

"No, " he whispered. "I don't blame you. My god, Jon. My love, how could I do this to you?"

He turned around to face the Ghost. The expression in her eyes had changed. Where had been only blackness and despair before, now there was a glimmer of hope. Small, barely noticeable, but it was there.

So there was hope for him?

"I understand. I finally understand. Take me back, please. I finally understand what you all wanted to tell me."

The Ghost nodded, and without him really noticing it, he was back in Jon's quarters.


Part 5 "The Understanding"

Malcolm blinked several times before his vision cleared again. Then he saw the familiar surroundings of Jon's quarters. Porthos lay snoring in his basket at the end of the bed, Jon was still lying on his side, his hand outstretched to the place where seconds…or minutes…or hours earlier his lover had been curled up against him.

Malcolm breathed deeply. His mind was still very busy in processing the recent events. He looked down at Jon, his face softened in sleep, looking so Incredibly peaceful and young, so vulnerable.

Malcolm felt his love for this man like something tangible. In that second he made his decision. Maybe he could blame his parents for his bad memories of Christmas. And maybe he could blame Deborah. And Justin. And himself. But not Jon. And certainly not Christmas itself.

So there was no reason to deny Jon the presence of his lover on this night of nights. He would start to celebrate Christmas again. With Jon. With his love. He looked at the watch in his hands.

"For my one and only. Love J.

Justin HAD been his one and only. For the time that it lasted.

Now it was time to start his life all over. With one last glance at the watch he carelessly drooped it on the table, then he tiptoed back to the bed, encircled himself in the arms of his lover, and began kissing the broad shoulder, working his way up to the fine shaped mouth.

He was rewarded with a soft moan. Jon awoke slowly, his grip around his lover tightened, and another part of his anatomy began to rise slowly, too. Malcolm wanted to talk to him, explain him everything he'd gone through that night. He wanted to tell him about his encounter with the three, no, four ghosts. About the decision he had made, but before he could form one single sentence, the unbelievably talented lips of his lover made jelly of his normally very quick and sharp brain.

So he gave in, willingly, joyfully, and with all his heart. He returned the kiss with passion, and soon his blood felt like fire in his veins.

With his last functioning brain-cell, Malcolm knew there had been something that he wanted to tell Jon, but then his lover's hand closed around his hard member, and that last brain-cell silently waved good-bye.

Malcolm moaned deep in his throat, his hands roaming over the body of his lover. He would never get enough of that man. Now his hands glided through the silken strands of Jon's hair. It was a little longer, and he loved it.

He wanted to play with his lover, made him ache with need, but when he felt the steady motions of his lover's hand on his shaft he was lost. He gave himself over completely to the pleasure and the love that only Jon was able to give him.

He closed his eyes, only feeling. And then falling. When he felt the beginnings of his climax he opened his eyes, took Jon's face in his hands, kissed him heart-wrenching tenderness, and whispered in that final moment to him, his gaze never leaving his lover's green eyes.

"I love you, Jon."

And then he came, hard, like a vulcano eruption. It tore the breath out of his lungs, and he was hardly able to breathe. Suddenly he felt Jon's lips on his, kissing him, caressing him, giving him his breath back. A single tear rolled down his cheek as he slowly, ever so slowly came back to earth.

"You're all right, dear one?"

Malcolm nodded. He gazed lovingly at Jon. Then he felt the unmistakable sign of Jon's erection poke in his left tigh. Smiling he reached down, and closed his fingers around the fully erect shaft. Jon gasped into his open mouth.

Then Malcolm kissed him. He poured everything he felt into that one kiss, everything he was unable to say aloud, everything that yearned in his heart. Then he let his lips wander slowly over the jaw, along the throat, traced gentle circles with his tongue over the older man's collarbone, continuing his travel over the chest, just stopping short to tease the nipples, smiling when he heard the sharp intake of breath from the man underneath him, until he finally reached his goal.

Jon's head fell back, his mouth was slightly opened, his eyes closed. Malcolm watched him, as he made love to him. His talented lips closed around the head of Jon's penis, his long fingers around the base, and with exactly the right kind of pressure he began to stroke his love.

It didn't take Jon long to come. Sex in the middle of the night was a dream-like experience, and with his mind still somewhere in dreamland, and his body in full-alert mode he couldn't last long. It was impossible. And just when he was about to cross the line he heard the words.

"Merry Christmas, love."

That did it. He came with a roaring shout into the waiting mouth of his lover. His breath came in short, ragged gasps as he pulled Malcolm up to his mouth to kiss him senseless.

"I love you, Malcolm Reed. You don't know how much."

In the darkness of his quarters Jon Imagined more than he saw his lover's smile.

"I do know, love. Believe me, I do. Now sleep tight. Tomorrow I have to tell you about the dream I had. Good night."


Part 6 "Merry Christmas"

"Do you believe any of this?"

Trip looked at Jon with skepticism. They were standing in Jon's quarters. Trip had come to join the captain on his way to his private mess, when Jon had told him in short form the story of Malcolm's dream.

Now, confronted with the question he had been asking himself the whole morning, he hesitantly shrugged his shoulders.

"I'm not so sure whether I should believe it or not. And I don't think that's important. But Malcolm will be at my side tonight when we celebrate. And that's worth more than you can imagine. This morning I even heard him humming a Christmas-song in the shower. To receive a gift like that I'm willing to believe in almost everything. If that involves some Ghosts, hey, that's okay by me."

Trip remained silent for a few more moments. Then his gaze fell on a PADD on Jon's nightstand. Curiously he stepped closer, and lifted it up to read a few lines. It wasn't Jon's habit to read in bed, so this PADD had to belong to Malcolm.

Laughing out loud he reached it over to Jon, who looked questioningly at him.

"I didn't know that your stiff Brit would have such a vivid imagination."

Jon' gaze fell on the title, and with a broad grin he laid the PADD back on his nightstand. Friendly he patted Trip on the shoulder.

"Don't tease him about it. It's just a pity we can't write a 'Thank you'-note to Mr. Dickens."

Laughing, the two men left Jon's quarters, while Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" waited until Malcolm would have a chance to finish reading it.

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