Title: Future Imperfect

Author: MJ

Author's email: mjr91@aol.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/mj/

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Rating: PG-13 for threatening airlocks and such

Archive: Your list, you've got it. Others please ask.

Spoilers: Season 3, especially "Azati Prime" through "E2" based on E2

Summary: Malcolm tells Jon about the future on Lorian's NX-01

Beta: Thanks to Red, Kipli, Helyn and Mareel cheering section, fixers of error, and debaters of plot points in a particularly complex episode.

He entered his quarters to find Malcolm Reed curled on his bed, with an arm around his dog. It wasn't usual for Reed to come to Jonathan Archer's cabin unannounced, but it wasn't unwelcome. Reed's fear of being observed with Archer by the other crew, as well as his desire to maintain his privacy, kept him away from Archer a great deal more than Archer liked.

Reed didn't look happy—not that there was much to be happy about. Earth was close to being destroyed, and Enterprise wasn't in the best shape herself, putting it mildly. Archer had a few things to say to Starfleet when he got back to Earth about spare equipment needed for long journeys—warp coils, injectors, torpedoes, medical equipment… the vast number of things they'd found themselves needing desperately in the Expanse. No wonder they and their descendants—Trip and T'Pol's son Lorian, Karyn Archer, and company, had taken up trading constantly with the other peoples of the region; the alternative would have been pirateering. Archer had done that once, and didn't care to do it again.

Actually, Reed looked like hell, though that in itself was hardly a surprise. Archer checked his own reflection in the mirror; he looked like hell himself—dirty, disheveled, recovering from his encounter with the Xindi with a plethora of healing scars and bruises still remaining. Reed was just off a bout with heatstroke and dehydration, from the repairs on the hull of the ship, but his hell looked more internalized than that.

Archer sat on the edge of the bed, reaching a hand over to Reed's shoulder. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I'm fine."

"You're not fine. What's wrong?"

Reed sat up slightly, still stroking Porthos, the beagle sprawled across Archer's bunk in a state of near-comatose pleasure from the attention. "Nothing. I suppose I'm a bit depressed."

"Oh?" Archer moved over, sliding his arm around Reed. "What's wrong?"

"I don't suppose you heard about lunch."

Archer shook his head. "No. Why—what happened?"

"I was eating with Travis and Hoshi. A fair number of the crew have been accessing the logs from Lorian's Enterprise—they're trying to meet their great grandchildren and all that."

"That's not surprising. It's not often you get to see your future. Or what might be, or have been, your future. What Lorian and Karyn have been telling me about the ship's history while we've been working has been fascinating."

Reed shifted. "Just how carefully did you pursue the Archer family future history with Karyn?"

"What do you mean?"

The armory officer stared at his captain. "You *have* been too busy to pay attention, haven't you? You're busily working beside your own part-Ikaarian great-granddaughter and you've failed to contemplate the question of how *we* had children in order for *you* to have a great-granddaughter?"

Archer ran his free hand over his face, wincing. "Wait—uh—okay, I hear you. I've been so busy working with the repairs and modifications that I haven't had a chance to think about anything I've been hearing from them; I've just been hearing it and filing it away for future reference. I know there's an Ikaarian woman we rescued…" Archer tapered off doubtfully; had Karyn Archer said that he was supposed to have married the Ikaarian? "I'm gathering you accessed Lorian's database yourself. What's our problem?"

A sigh. "I've looked through the general records, as a fair number of the crew have. But I *also* took a look at my personal logs. They seem to have saved them." Reed shifted edgily.

After a moment he continued, still plainly uncomfortable. "Remember that Phlox was working on reproductive technology to make sure that people on ship could have children—for instance, T'Pol and Trip. We know that right now they couldn't possibly—not that I can see yet that they *would*—I wonder what changes that… never mind…

"But anyway," Reed continued, "that Ikaarian that volunteered to have our children. You and I decided that you'd go first."

"And?" Archer was curious as to Reed's evident distress. They'd had a similar conversation themselves—well, that was to say, they'd had it already, whether on this Enterprise or on the one that was now Lorian's—about whether they might have a child when they got back to Earth, when everything was over. It begged the question of the situation ever being over… or of there being an Earth when they were done… or of their own survival. Thinking about children was always a presumption of survival, a presumption that seemed a bit much at the moment if one thought about it.

"We never had the second one. Mine." Reed choked back something that sounded like a stifled sob. "You married her and had three more children. After you decided you'd rather be with her than with me."

He was silent for a moment, his face pained. "Hoshi asked me if I'd ever gotten married, had children, on Lorian's ship. I couldn't quite answer her—my stomach started bothering me and I had to leave the mess. I wasn't up to reporting that you threw me over—or that I proceeded to get myself killed rather heroically in the next available battle. *My* logs indicate I'd decided to do it, hoping I'd manage to make you feel guilty and suffer. I didn't try going into *your* logs to find out if that part succeeded."

Archer winced. "Malcolm, I'm sorry. I can't imagine I did that to you… at any rate, since we aren't getting trapped a century in the past this time, it isn't *going* to happen. Not this time around." He squeezed Reed tight. "And you have no business going off and getting yourself killed. Under any circumstances. I refuse to let you traumatize Porthos that way."

Reed swallowed audibly. "Right. No traumatizing Porthos." Then a sudden chuckle. "So we're staying together for the sake of the dog?"

Porthos' tail thumped loudly against the bed. "That's what Porthos says. You gonna argue with him?"

"Never. Who could argue with that?" Reed slid an arm around Archer. "Besides, I've made up my mind."

"Oh?" Archer was curious as to his lover's sudden change of humor.

Reed's eyes twinkled as he smirked. "Next time you try dumping me for some woman, I'll kill you instead and take Porthos for myself. And I *won't* feel guilty."

"Fine. And I love you, too." He should have known that the prospect of someone *else* dying—preferably slowly and painfully at Reed's hands—would be the sort of thing that would cheer the younger man immeasurably. If only Reed were contemplating torturing Major Hayes instead of him, it would have been a perfect moment.

"You'd better." Reed twisted around to kiss Archer soundly. "I hate dumping bodies out of airlocks."

Porthos' tail thumped again, twice. He must have hated dumping bodies, as well.

Archer grinned. "I promise I'll be good, Malcolm."

"You always are, love." Reed's hand strayed lower, encouragingly. "Coming to bed?"

"Coming? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah."

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