Title: Catching Snowflakes

Author: Pretzelduck

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

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

Date: Posted to Archer's Enterprise and EntSTSlash 01/20/2004

Archive: Permission to archive granted to Archer's Enterprise and EntSTCommunity

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Status: Complete

Pairing: Reed/Mayweather

Summary: An away mission gives Travis the opportunity to enjoy more than just some snow.

Warnings: None

Series: n/a

Sequel to: n/a

Beta: n/a

Spoilers: general season 3 stuff

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.

It's snowing.

I haven't seen a lot of snow in my life. Disadvantage of growing up on a cargo ship, I guess. So it doesn't bother me in the slightest when the snowflakes start to fall. I have to be secretly pleased at this development, though. We're on a mission and the rest of the away team certainly won't share my excitement.

We have to find the Xindi weapon. I know that without a doubt. What I don't understand is the usefulness of combing over abandoned facility after abandoned facility. We're down here to search through another one and it seems like an exercise in futility to me. Scanning equipment that hasn't been used in months isn't going to help us save Earth. There is rarely any information gained from these exhibitions and it's my opinion that all they've been doing lately is lowering morale.

The mood on the ship is growing darker and darker. It's weird to walk into the mess hall and not hear laughter. Most people are quietly talking with one or two companions or sitting alone mesmerized by the glow of a padd. As Malcolm would say, the Enterprise has become a warship.


I know about Commander Tucker's anguish over the death of his sister and the transformation of Captain Archer into a harsh, consumed individual but the Xindi and the Expanse have taken their toll on Malcolm as well. In some ways, I think this mission has been the hardest on him. He was letting his guard down around the crew, against his own nature, only to have the people that he had come to know disappear after the Xindi's attack on Earth.

To me, Malcolm looks lost. He put himself on uncertain footing when he started to open up to others and now the ground beneath him is shaking, carelessly tossing him around and trying to make him lose his balance. There are days when I don't know how he's still standing. It's not just the changed nature of the crew. I've read the reports from the missions. The things that Malcolm has had to do in order to bring us closer to the weapon and the Xindi behind it are frightening. I wonder how well he sleeps at night or if he even sleeps at all.

I've tried striking up conversations with him like the jovial ones we used to have. But he ignores my attempts at levity and keeps our talks strictly about work-related things. It's the best I can do, I guess. I might not be able to get him to stop thinking about his jobs for a little while but I can keep him in one place long enough so he at least eats something and that oft-abused body of his can get a little rest.

But it isn't enough for me. I miss the old Malcolm. The one that would come peeking out when he was off-duty, even if he was always still in his uniform. My favorite movie nights were the ones when a beyond bad B-movie was playing and we would go together. He would make the oddest faces at the screen, glaring at the main characters whenever they did something stupid and muttering British curses at them under his breath. It was adorable.

Those were my dates with Malcolm. Not that I've ever told him that I thought of them that way and not that I ever will but that doesn't mean that I don't wish I could go with him again.

Despite trying to ignore it and thinking that it would go away, I know that I have a crush on Malcolm. It sounds juvenile. Hell, pretending that going to the movies with him is like going on a date with him is juvenile so at least I'm consistent. But it's hard not to be attracted to him. I tried it for a couple of weeks last year. I was miserable. Malcolm is intelligent, funny when he lets himself be, something beyond good-looking, and so stubborn that you can't help but love him for it.

We're friends, though, which is something I've realized over the time I've known him that very few people have achieved. Although I wish we were something more, I'm both happy and proud to call Malcolm my friend. Which leaves us where we are now. Scanning the ruins of what is probably a Xindi bathroom.

"Stick out your tongue."

What? I turn toward the sound of the achingly familiar voice. My eyes are met with an expected but still piercing sight. Malcolm is standing beside me, looking utterly serene in the ever-increasing amounts of snow. It's starting to collect in his hair; the snow not quite melting quick enough to prevent it.

"I don't get it, Malcolm. What are you talking about?"

One corner of his mouth turns up a little before he follows his own advice and sticks his tongue out. His head is bobbing back and forth slightly and his tongue is darting around. Malcolm looks so delectably impish that I'm having a hard time not pulling him into my arms. So I guess I'm only mostly disappointed when he apparently accomplishes his goal and his tongue disappears back inside his mouth.

"The objective is to catch a snowflake on your tongue so it's possible to feel it melt. I remembered you said you hadn't seen snow very often and I thought you might enjoy trying it."

His eyes dart away from me and I can't tell if the flush on his cheeks is from the cold or out of embarrassment. I don't know why he would be uncomfortable because he remembered something I told him but the strangest things seem to bother him sometimes so I guess this is one of them.

"So all I do is stick my tongue out?"

He nods once, briskly like we're in some briefing and crosses his arms against his chest. It's Malcolm's "I'm trying to retain my composure" pose. I don't know why he would be, though. Maybe he's worried about being casual while on an away mission.

Being too casual usually isn't a concern of mine so I follow Malcolm's instructions and try to catch a snowflake using my tongue. I'm not sure if I'm successful until I feel this slightly cold sensation on my tongue dissolve into liquid and then disappear. This is kind of fun. I can feel Malcolm's eyes on me as I try to duplicate my success. After a few moments pass, I hear something that I haven't heard in far too long.

Laughter. Malcolm is laughing at me. It's a soft chuckle, barely audible but genuine. I pull my tongue back inside my mouth so I can grin at him. I want to tell him how good it is to hear him laugh. But the words get stuck in my throat.

Malcolm is just standing there and he's too close. I'm not sure if the warmth I'm feeling is from his nearness or from the sparkling signs of life shining in his eyes again. Whatever it is, it's just too damn much. In one of the more rash decisions of my life, I give in to the impulse and lean over to brush my lips against his.

It's one of those moments when everything stands still. His lips are soft. And despite the slowly dropping temperature, they're warm. I can feel the snow falling gently on my cheek. I swear I can hear Malcolm's heart beating steadily. Just as I begin to relish all of these sensations, my higher brain functions kick in and pull my body away. I don't take a step back, though. I know I'm probably crowding his personal space a bit but I don't want Malcolm to think that I regret what I just did. I don't. I probably won't even regret kissing him if in a few seconds I end up flat on my ass with a broken nose.

But those seconds pass without merit so I decide to take a chance and look up from my intense study of my boots.

The first thing I notice is that Malcolm is apparently also conducting an analysis of his footwear. There has got to be a way to get him to look at me. I hope I haven't made an absolute mess of things. What if there are no more movie nights or lunches after this? What if I've just established myself as another uncertainity in Malcolm's life…someone else that he doesn't know how to act around anymore?

And why didn't I think of any of this before?

I need to breach this distance between us. I need to say something to him.

"I'm sorry if I startled you, Malcolm…" That's right. I'm not sorry that I kissed him but I do feel bad about catching him so off-guard. "…There was a snowflake about to land on your lips and I couldn't resist trying to catch it."

That has got to be the lamest explanation in the history of stolen kisses. I guess now I'm famous for something, at any rate. Come one, come all, see Travis Mayweather, the man whose explanations are as bad as Jonathan Archer's animal metaphors.

At least I get the desired effect. Malcolm's eyes are now looking into mine. I don't see revulsion or pity there. But he's so damn good at hiding his emotions. Wouldn't he tell me if he was offended? If he didn't think of me like that?

"Perfectly reasonable, I suppose. However, I believe I'll have to arrange for another demonstration when we are under a different set of circumstances."

Huh? Sometimes I wonder if Malcolm speaks English. "Another demonstration?"

"Yes. For proper technique, you're supposed to use your tongue."

Are we still talking about the snow? I don't think so, based on the blush making its way across Malcolm's cheeks. His eyes haven't left my face, though now they're slipping down from my eyes to look at my lips.

I think I know for sure that he was never talking about the snow. Malcolm is talking about kissing. About me kissing him. He's not offended. He's not repulsed. He's attracted.

I give him a little grin, hoping to coax out one of those beautiful smiles of his in return. No such luck, though. He's waiting for my response. "I'll have to remember that for next time."

And because I've had enough of subtlety, I go for broke. After putting my scanner back in my pocket, I reach out and take both of Malcolm's hands in mine. They're softer than I imagined. More delicate. Not fragile or weak but…nice.

"The next time I kiss you, that is."

There's my smile. Shy, hesitant, and so very Malcolm. Our eyes are fixed on each other. Suddenly, I realize that he usually meets my eyes when we're talking. More with me than anyone else. What other clues could I have missed? Has Malcolm been within my reach all this time?

The feeling of his hands gently squeezing mine quickly returns me to the present. I return the pressure and his thumbs start to slowly caress the backs of my hands.

Forget the times when we're sparring together in the gym and he's all sweaty and smirking at me as he helps me up from the mat. Forget the times when we're in decon together and he's relaxed and half-naked. I've never wanted to kiss Malcolm more than I do at this moment.

So, of course, his communicator beeps.

The sound seems to surprise him. I can both see and feel him flinch a little. But what shocks me is that he only pulls one of his hands away. Only what he needs to retrieve and answer his communicator. The other he leaves in my grasp. Like some sort of background hum, I hear him talking to the captain, explaining that neither of us has found anything and that we're returning to the shuttlepod. Most of my attention is focused on the feeling of his hand still in mine. A connection that still remains. He could have pulled both of his hands away. He could have taken a step back. But he didn't.

I watch as he puts his communicator back in his pocket, reaches back out toward me, and takes my empty hand in his. Our eyes meet again and it's like nothing just happened. Like we weren't just interrupted.

"I told the captain that we were on our way back to the landing site but before we go, I want you to know that…" Malcolm's voice breaks slightly and he pauses. His hands give mine another squeeze. "…that I'm looking forward to that kiss, Travis."

Now he does take both of his hands away as he walks off in the direction of the shuttlepod. I'm not angry with him and I'm not even surprised at his actions. Romantic interludes on an alien planet in perpetually hostile territory don't strike me as something Malcolm is incredibly comfortable with.

I take a few quick strides and catch up with him so we're walking side by side. I know the landing site is getting close so I place my hand on his forearm. It's enough to get him to stop long enough so I can whisper in his ear.

"So am I, Malcolm. So am I."

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