Title: It All Meant So Much More To Be

Author: Stormymouse

Author's email: stormy@enterpriseboys.de

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

Date: 2004-03-19

Archive: A no-no to anyone but entstslash, archers_enterprise and reedsarcheryrange—but you can always ask ;-)

Category: Slash

Rating: G

Pairing: A/R

Summary: For all the times you walked the line for me and standing by my side I say thank you.

Warning: DEATH FIC!!!

Author's note: A very sweet friend of mine asked me to write something that would cherish Archer's body in all his glory. It was supposed to be a nice, happy NC17 fic. Then the plot bunny of doom appeared, grinned deviously and all of a sudden this was a death fic with almost no mention of Archer's attributes at all! ARGH! The lyrics Archer recites at the end are from the song "No Reply" (words: Tim Jensen, music and arrangement by Kanno Yoko) from the OST of "Cowboy Bebop: Future Blues" (thank you, Stoffel, for pointing that out to me! *hug*)

Beta: None, all mistakes and contradictions are mine! If you find them—keep them ;-)

Disclaimer: Own? Me? You must be kidding!

Feedback: Yes, please! You do that so well!

He knew the jolt would come but when the anomaly hit the shuttle pod the sheer force of it took him by surprise. Lieutenant Malcolm Reed was pressed back into the pilot's seat, his head banged against the headrest and for a moment the only thing he saw where swirls of bright light behind his eyelids.

ENTERPRISE's armory officer heard a heavy thud and someone crying out in pain. He quickly turned around to see the captain lying on the floor, unconscious. "JON?!" Desperation grew inside of him but he knew he had to concentrate on trying to hold the pod on course, to land it safely on the asteroid again.

With his eyes alternating between the view screen and the panel in front of him and his injured CO behind him he managed to set down and secure the vessel. Only when he was as certain as possible that they would not experience any more unforeseen difficulties did he jump out of the seat and over to the man on the ground.

Captain Jonathan Archer was lying on his stomach, his head turned away from Malcolm. The Brit carefully tried to discard any possible back injuries and when he was sure it was safe he rolled his superior officer onto his back.

Reed inhaled sharply through clenched teeth when he saw the captain's face. A long bloody gash led from his left temple all the way down to his jaw, his left eye was swollen shut, his lower lip was cut and bleeding.

He gently placed Jonathan's head down on the deck plating and stood up, looked around the pod, opened a hatch, then another and still another until he had found the med kit he had been looking for.

Malcolm knelt down next to the captain, grabbed the scanner and ran it over the other man's body. It didn't show any serious injuries, just a bad concussion. A little more relaxed after seeing the readout on the device the Brit took out some bandages and antiseptic and tried to clean the wounds, gently running the cloth over the bruised skin.

After he had tended to the captain's wounds he stood up and managed to get the still unconscious man onto one of the benches, resting his head on a pillow he had found and sat back down in the pilot's seat.

Reed tried some of the controls but he realized pretty soon that most of the systems were heavily damaged, the propulsion system would need a lot of attention from ENTERPRISE's chief engineer when they got back. A flight to ENTERPRISE, yet alone a launch was out of question.

Hopefully he pressed the button that set the comm system into action. "Lieutenant Reed to ENTERPRISE! Please respond!" He heard nothing but white noise. "ENTERPRISE! Please respond!" Still nothing. Malcolm sighed. The anomaly field surrounding the asteroid seemed to prevent him from reaching the ship.

He slammed his fist onto the panel in front of him. Maybe if the captain had piloted the shuttle they would be fine now, his greater experience and the amount of flying hours could have made the difference. But he had insisted to take the helm.

It had seemed like an easy trip back to the ship, until the anomaly field had appeared out of nowhere, causing the pod's system to run havoc and forcing him to land on one of the smaller asteroids he and Archer had studied earlier.

"ENTERPRISE! This is Lieutenant Reed! Respond!" He closed his eyes as the only answer he got was more subspace noise. The security officer turned on the automatic distress beacon and hoped that Hoshi would somehow be able to pick it up.

Malcolm ran his hand over his face and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked over to the captain and decided that there was nothing else he could do but wait. Sitting down on the bench next to the captain's calm body he lifted Jonathan's head onto his thigh and gently ran his fingers through the short dark blond hair.

Reed looked at the captain's face. It was so handsome, even though it was bruised. The curve of the beautiful full lips, the long lashes, the prominent jaw line, the small dimple on the chin, the five o' clock shadow on his cheeks. His fingers gently traced the bruises and cuts, whispering over the marred skin.

As he studied and touched Archer Malcolm realized that this was the first time in ages that he had the time and the urge to do so. So much had happened since they had entered the Expanse, so much that had torn him away from the captain, so much that had made him think that this mission didn't leave room for love.

Jonathan's lids fluttered and Reed smiled at his lover as he opened his eyes. "Hello sleepyhead!" He put a hand on the captain's chest and ran his thumb over his collar bone. "How are you feeling?"

The reflection of pain on Jon's face as the older man tried to focus and touched the bruises on his face was answer enough. Malcolm removed the captain's hand from the injuries and held it in his own. "You crashed headfirst into one of the panels when the anomaly hit us."

Archer moaned and wanted to sit up. He winced and closed his eyes as the lieutenant pulled him back down. "Jon, you've got a concussion. Rest! There's nothing else to do anyway."

The captain sighed. "What the hell happened?"

As Reed filled him in on what had happened since he had passed out he studied Jonathan's face and he saw the same feelings reflected in those marvelous green eyes as he had had earlier, memories of happier times when caresses and just being together had been a common thing for both of them, when the Xindi hadn't yet taken away so much of their freedom and of their love.

"I'm afraid all we can do now is to wait for the anomaly to dissolve and for Hoshi to pick up the distress signal", he ended his summing up of the recent events. His one hand still gently stroked Archer's collarbone and the other soothingly combed through the captain's hair.

"Go to sleep, Jon. I'll be here to keep an eye on things", he said softly as he saw Archer's eyelids getting heavier by the minute, urging him to take the rest he needed.

When the older man's breathing leveled out, the regular rising and falling of his chest a reassuring feeling under Reed's hand, the armory officer allowed himself some time to relax.

Jonathan slept fitfully, tossing his head around and moaning in his sleep. Malcolm awoke all of a sudden and blinked, inwardly cursing himself for falling asleep. He cupped Jon's face with his left hand and traced those lips with his thumb, causing them to twitch. He grinned and bent down to plant a gentle kiss on his lover's mouth. "Jon, wake up…", he whispered and slowly Jonathan opened his eyes.

Reed tenderly nudged his side. "Get up! Maybe together we can find a way to get this thing up and running again." It was then that he noticed the worried expression on the captain's face. "What's up?"

"Mal, I…" Archer put his hand over his mouth and exhaled audibly. Malcolm felt a cold knot forming in the pit of his stomach as his lover continued speaking. "I can't move my legs."

The lieutenant's heart skipped a beat and he tried to grin. "Awww, come on now, Jon. You never were good at trying to have me on…" His voice trailed off.

"I'm not joking, love, I mean it. I can't move my legs."

Reed swallowed hard. He grabbed the scanner he had left on the opposite bench and ran it over the captain's body. Malcolm inhaled sharply as he saw the readout. There it was, a blood clot that bore against the nerve cord leading to Jonathan's legs.

He dug the palm of his hands into his eyes as he realized the extent of his lover's injury. There was nothing he could do for him but help him through it until ENTERPRISE found them.

"I'm sorry, love, we need Phlox for this one." He saw Jonathan nod and forced a smile onto his face.

Malcolm busied himself with keeping Jonathan as comfortable as possible. With each passing minute he prayed for their crew members to find them. Seeing his lover this helpless left himself feeling vulnerable, too.

He sat down again, handing the captain a ration he had heated. As Jonathan reached out to take the plate from him his arm gave way and the meatloaf tumbled to the floor.

The lieutenant stared at him. "Jonathan?" He ran another scan and compared it with the one he had taken a few hours ago. The clot had moved up the spinal cord and now blocked the nerves responsible for the arms.

He felt something touching his hand as Jonathan was able to intertwine his fingers with Malcolm's. "I'm sorry, Mal…" His voice broke. "If this thing moves as fast as it has…"

"Shhh, sweets, shhh," the Brit shushed the older man. "They'll be here in no time. I promise!"

The hand gripping his went limp. Malcolm stared at Jonathan with a dreadful fear until he saw the faint flutter of his pulse in the hollow of his throat. He cradled the captain's body to his chest, gently rocking back and forth, murmuring words of love to soothe his troubled sleep.

"Malcolm." Jonathan's voice was barely audible but Reed immediately opened his eyes and was wide awake. He planted a kiss on Archer's cold lips. "Yes, love?" he said more cheerfully than he felt.

His lover's green eyes were full of passion. "I just remembered a song I've heard years ago. I can't recall all the lyrics but something stayed in my mind." He swallowed and held the gaze of the stormy gray eyes of the man he loved.

"I close my eyes and watch as my life passes by The only thing I see is you For all the times you walked the line for me and standing by my side I say thank you You in my life It all meant so much more to be."

When his hand squeezed Malcolm's the lieutenant knew that was for the last time. A few moments later the regular rising and falling of Jonathan's chest ceased and the reassuring rhythm of the captain's heartbeat died away with the man Reed loved more than life itself.

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