Title: Shadows in the Dark

Author: Pretzelduck

Author's email: pretzelduck@yahoo.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/pretzelduck

Date: Posted to Archer's Enterprise, EntSTSlash, and Maco_Love 06/01/2004

Archive: Yes to Archer's Enterprise and EntSTCommunity

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Status: Complete

Pairing: Reed/Hayes

Summary: In a future AU, nightmares plague Hayes and Reed's sleep.

Warnings: AU

Series: n/a

Sequel to: n/a

Beta: n/a

Spoilers: Harbinger, Hatchery, Countdown

Disclaimer: I don't own the Star Trek franchise. Paramount does. If I did, I would have done a few things differently. I also don't make any money from writing this. So feel free to sue me if you'd like a collection of empty Mountain Dew bottles and political science textbooks.

Author's Notes: I attempted to write a Hayes deathfic based on 'Countdown' but my heart just wasn't in it. So I wrote this future AU fic based on the events of the episode instead. I just couldn't kill him. I tried. I swear I did.

Beads of sweat trail down my back and have also dampened my forehead. My entire body is trembling a little, the effect of emotions induced by my imagined journey into the past. Sometimes, waking up from nightmares is worse than the nightmare itself. This isn't one of those times.

I can still see him on the biobed. The shrill alarm going off in a steady pattern is still ringing in my ears. It indicated that life had left his body. That Matthew was dead.

There was a disruptor wound on his chest that Phlox and his creatures had apparently been unable to heal. His last words to me had been something about relying on McKenzie. I'm not sure about the significance of that. He mentioned once that he thought she'd make a good team leader, a fine example of command material.

Even now, a year after the destruction of the Xindi weapon, we both still have our share of Expanse-related nightmares. This one is a recurring one of mine. It revolves around the actual rescue of Hoshi from the Reptilians, which, according to the Starfleet psychologist I'm required to see once a week, was a pivotal turning point in my life. And it takes a doctorate to figure that out?

Reality wasn't much different from my nightmare. Matthew had been injured, severely but still within Phlox's ability to treat. But what disturbs me about this particular dream is my reaction. When he was dying, I simply stood there and watched. I didn't say anything.

Dream Matthew died without ever knowing what he had done to me.


I was hoping he would sleep through my tossing and turning. Matthew deserves an uninterrupted night of rest. If it's not my bad dreams, it's his. I can feel myself smile involuntarily at 'fleeter,' though. Once used in only derogatory and snide comments, it has become Matthew's endearment of choice. Any other time and I would be making some MACO-related remark back at him but I just don't feel like attempting levity.


I've bothered him with my silence. I can tell by the slight quiver in his sleepy voice. His hand is hesitantly caressing my arm, so slowly and gently that it almost overwhelms me for a moment. Rolling over, I land perfectly snug up against his side. My heart doesn't even beat once before his arms are wrapped around me. Despite the quiet reassurance, words aren't coming to me. This is my least favorite of the nightmares. Too many reminders of what I could have lost. Before I even knew I had it.

Bumping my nose against his jaw, my hand reaches out for one of his and I lace our fingers together. We know each other too well in the dark. There is very little groping for hands and searching for lips. I think we spent enough nights entangled in our narrow bunks on Enterprise to memorize such things. It borders on frightening how well our bodies fit together. My head on his shoulder. My hand in his hand.

Matthew starts to run the fingers of his free hand lightly across my back. My patiently gentle MACO. I never would have guessed the first time I met him that he would become 'my' anything besides my adversary. Or that he was capable of being patient or gentle. I almost missed him. I almost let him pass me by. The caress stops and the arm around me tightens, pulling me closer. I can feel his soft lips brush against my hair and then again on my forehead.

"You died again."

I'm not sure if Matthew hears me. My voice is softer than a whisper. I can barely hear myself. But he pulls his hand from my grasp and brings it up to run his fingers through my hair. I've never told him how soothing I find the motion but I believe he has figured it out on his own.

"I'm not dead, fleeter."

His voice is just as quiet. It still echoes in the small bedroom of our sparsely decorated apartment in San Francisco. Only a few eyebrows were raised when Enterprise returned and Matthew and I moved in here together. It's easier to not work all night at the weapons research and development lab I was reassigned to when Matthew is here and awaiting my pasta and grilled chicken. After a tragic incident with our first stove, we agreed that I was the better cook. It's a shame, though. I actually miss his blackened meal offerings. Although they were barely edible, he had cooked them. I guess I like the fact that he cooked for me. It was sweet.

Also, it's easier to go from sprawling to cuddling in our now much larger bed. Not that either of us would ever call it 'cuddling.' But like now, it's what we do when darkness reenters our lives.

"Do you remember the first time we held hands in public? Travis practically had an asthma attack from laughing so hard."

We had attended one of the movie nights that Matthew had long mocked for our first public date. It took us an hour into the film to work up the courage to cautiously hold hands in the dark. After it finished, we stood up to leave. Holding hands like that had…and still does…seemed so right that neither of us realized we were still doing it. Travis had turned around to say hello and when he saw us, the poor ensign more or less went into convulsions.

Either Matthew doesn't recall that or he doesn't find the memory comical because there is a low rumbling sound in his throat and the hand stroking my hair stills.


He doesn't often let me get away with changing the subject and I know it bothers him when I try. But how do I explain to him what he already knows? I've dreamed before that he died after that rescue operation. Matthew has dreamed that he died then on numerous occasions. At any rate, our nightmares about it revolve around the same thing.

Missed opportunities.

"Just go back to sleep."

In an attempt to avoid discussion, I try to roll back over away from him but Matthew refuses to let me go. Sometimes I hate the fact that we possess about equal physical strength. It makes escaping from his arms all that much tougher. Especially when most of the time, my heart really isn't in it.

"It helps to talk about things."

Exactly what I am trying to steer clear of. He does sound like my appointed psychologist, though. Which is mildly amusing. "Says who?"

"Me." I chuckle a bit at that. "And you. Three nights ago when I had that same dream."

Bugger. I hate it when he does that. How dare he use my own words against me?


I don't have to feel him flinch to know that he's surprised. It isn't often that I use a shortened version of his name. It took long enough to refer to him as 'Matthew' in my head and aloud. We bloody well had sex twice before he even told me that was what he liked to be called. And it wasn't until the third time that I actually used it.

Another kiss to my forehead stops that line of thought. I told Matthew one time that no one had ever treated me like he does. I remember thinking that he would laugh my comment away or roll his eyes at my sentimentality. I had mentally groaned at the sappiness of my words. Instead, Matthew blushed and his gaze dropped to the floor. The words he muttered then are the best to be repeated to him now.

"I don't want to know life without you."

I emphasize my words by snuggling closer and taking a firmer hold on the muscular body beneath me. The truth of that statement is striking and almost humbling in its intensity. The transformation of resenting his very presence to needing it so much took an almost too long length of time. Respect had to be earned on both sides and a shared set of experiences practically unwittingly built camaraderie between not only us but our teams. The admission of mutual affection required the combination of constant reminders that the time allotted for our lives could be fleeting and a moment of perfect realization and self-acceptance of something that had before been rejected. For me, that flash came when Matthew nearly died after the recovery of Hoshi from the Reptilians. Watching him lay there as he battled between life and death, I slowly understood that I didn't want to lose him.

"You won't, Malcolm. I'm not going anywhere."

I wonder how he knew exactly what I was thinking and when the exact moment was that I was thinking it. But still, I'm far too aware that nothing is guaranteed.

"We might have a huge fight."

Apparently, he finds humor in this as the rumble of laughter in his chest reverberates through me. "It wouldn't be the first time. You've bruised my kidney, remember?"

That particular incident is rather hard to forget. I have a feeling that the number of couples who have been in full-blown fistfights with one another is small and the number that are still together or got together afterwards is even smaller.

"That isn't what I meant."

Matthew gives me a quick squeeze and I feel his breath tickle my hair as he sighs. "I know."

Despite the dynamics of our working relationship, Matthew and I were very careful of each other when we made our first tentative steps into the dating realm. Tempers were squashed and words bitten back. We've since grown more comfortable with who we are together and we've had some rather impressive arguments, including a multi-week one over whether or not we could or should both return to shipboard duty. In the end, we realized we were tired of the good fight and Matthew requested assignment as a combat instructor at the MACO base nearby. I suppose, though, that the fear will always still be there. That one word…one misunderstanding…could send him walking out the front door, returning only to get his belongings.

Silence envelops us as we lay here, both deep in thought. I only have the barest idea of what he's thinking about. A problem that arises when both partners in a relationship are naturally reticent. At least we both admitted that fact to one another. We realized that it was something we had to work on if we wanted this 'us' to thrive. I think it's been harder than either of us thought it might be. It's times like this…when our guards are down and we're hyperaware of our respective vulnerabilities…that it is the toughest.

Neither Matthew nor I talk a great deal about our upbringings or the pasts that led us to Enterprise. From what I've gathered, they are heartbreakingly similar. I'm all too aware of the pain of rejection and self-imposed isolation. Something in me aches when I think of Matthew experiencing it too.

Pulling his head downward, I lean forward to kiss him. All dark thoughts are shoved to the back of my mind when I feel him respond to the gentle pressure. Our mouths move against each other at a slow, practiced pace. Hands unerringly find their way to backs and chests and jaws. The caresses are meant to comfort, not arouse.

Verbal communication is highly overrated.

As a matter of fact, the nonverbal seems to be working perfectly as I can feel the tension created by our words and thoughts leave Matthew's body. We separate from one another but continue the light rubbing of reachable bare skin. There is no sense like touch, after all.

I don't think either of us will be able to go back to sleep, though. Slipping out of his arms, I stand up next to the bed and hold my hand out to him.

"Come on, love. Since we're up, we might as well see the sun rise."

At this distance in the dark, I can't see Matthew's smile but I know that it's there. This is our routine. Nights often plagued by restless sleep followed by mornings spent wrapped in blankets and each other as we watch a new day begin. Even with the room almost pitch black, his hand finds mine and I cover it with my other one. I know exactly what he's going to say next.

"I'll grab a blanket, if you make the tea. We both know I can't boil water."

It's my turn to smile. I outright laugh sometimes at Matthew's refusal to eat or drink anything replicated unless he absolutely must. Says he had enough of that on Enterprise.

Never letting my hands go, Matthew climbs out of bed and we maneuver ourselves out of the bedroom.

And away from the night.


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