Title: Meant to Be Together

Author: Beverly

Author's Contact: bev_crusher1971@yahoo.de

Fandom: Enterprise

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Rating: NC-17

Category: Slash

Summary: On an alien planet, Jon has an interesting meeting that finally opens his eyes.

Comments: The "alpha-team", mentioned in Part 3, is a tv-series here in germany. It's similar to "Emergency Room". I love it (alpha-team) and watch it every Thursday. The most interesting thing about it, that Dr. Eberhard Scheu is really gay (the character, not the actor). Anyone who wants to take a look at all the people I wrote about, just go to http://www.sat1.de/serien/alphateam/alphateam/ . That's it. Have fun and pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaase. send me feedback.just a little word, a tiny crumb.thank you.

Beta reader(s): Mainly the wonderful Mareel, queen of drabbles and grammar. Stormy for her wonderful reaction about Part 1, and Grainne for her interesting thoughts, also Part 1.


Jonathan Archer strolled aimlessly over the market place of an unknown planet far away from his home world. It reminded him strongly of the oriental bazaars he had visited with his uncle.

Around him were hundreds of people, dressed in multi-coloured clothes, talking in what seemed to be a dozen different languages.

Hoshi had managed to put the main dialects from this planet in the UT, but Jonathan had switched it off. He found it more interesting to listen to the unknown words, not knowing what they meant.

Suddenly something caught his eye. There, seemingly in the last corner of the market, sat an old woman. She wore a black dress, which was itself unusual, for the whole place seemed to be filled with colors. Her hair was long and white. She wore it open, so it fell down her back.

But it was her eyes that almost transfixed him, put him completely under her ban, draw him closer until he finally stood in front of her. Without even noticing, he slowly sank down to his knees.

Her gaze never left his all the while, and when he sat at her feet, she raised a trembling hand. Her fingers were ossified by a kind of arthritis, and her bones looked almost fragile. She lay her hand surprisingly gently on Jon's heart, and murmured something in her foreign language.

For a second he simply stared at her; then he remembered the UT, but before he could switch it on, the old woman took his face in her hands, and intensified the stare. For what seemed an eternity they sat like that. Then she lowered her hand again to press it on his heart. And this time, when she whispered the words, Jon could understand each and every single one of them. Without his UT.

"You great pain."

He felt his heart beat faster.

"What do you mean?"

For a second she pressed her hand a bit more firmly to his heart, and he gasped slightly.

"In there. Great pain. No joy. Love, but you afraid."

Now goosebumps covered Jon's whole body. This old woman had become eerie. He wanted to get up, but he couldn't. His legs didn't obey. And before he could say something, the old woman spoke again. She moved a little closer to Jonathan, and whispered.

"Let me show. Pain. Love. Understand. And find."

She raised her left hand now, and gently, oh so gently, it came to rest on Jon's neck. Suddenly a flood of pictures overwhelmed his senses. He felt like falling…falling in a deep swirl with no escape…

PART 1: Florence, 1571

It was dark and close to midnight when a lonely figure hastily ran along the river Arno, trying his best to hide in the shadows. He crossed the river over the Ponte S. Trinita. He could be sure that there wouldn't be too many guards at this hour in the night. The Via Maggio was empty, and the figure carefully left his shelter in the shadows to cross the Piazza Pitti. A single candle was burning in one of the upper windows.

A slight smile ghosted across the shadow's face, but was gone before it could be noticed.

She was there. Waiting.

A hand searched for a piece of paper, long fingers closing around it the second they found it.

With long-practiced ease, the figure seemed to become one with the shadows as if he knew his way by heart around the Palazzo.

This Palazzo belonged to the Medici, and if you wanted to survive in Florence, you knew that you don't mess with the Medici.

And though this little slip of paper in his pocket had nothing to do with any of the Palazzo's inhabitants, he was careful.

There was the door. He slid closer, barely noticeable in his dark clothes.

Knock…knock, knock…knock.

The sign.

He waited.

Then he heard the answer.


He let out a sigh of relief.

The door opened without a noise, and showed the face of a young man. The figure in the shadow held his breath for a second. Lord, he was beautiful. Small, delicate, but not feminine. Dark hair, now slightly tousled as if he just had left his bed. Gray eyes, framed by incredible lashes. And his mouth was worth the risk of being murdered.

Now said mouth smiled, opened, and with a voice that caused shivers running up and down his opponent's back, he asked.

"Come in, stupido, or do want us to get caught?"

Malco was angry. He was tired, that bastardo stupido out there didn't move, and though it was already in the first days of April the nights were still a little chilly.

He took one step aside, not really looking at the man coming in from the cold. He closed the door hastily, and turned around to the stranger.

God, how he hated this. But he had promised his little sister Madelina to support her little affare di amore. Their parents would certainly disinherit them both if they were ever to find out that the chosen one of their little daughter was an artist. A painter called Tizian.

Never, ever would their parents allow this.

He knew that.

She knew that, too.

But because he loved her so much, he had let himself be persuaded by her sweet tongue. And that was the reason he was here now.

In the middle of the night.

In the kitchen of all places, confronted with the lover of his sister. He turned around to face him. His face was hidden beneath a black hood. But Malco could see that he was tall. Well, at least she seemed to have a good taste.

The flickering light from his candle threw weird shadows over the walls while the silence stretched.

Then Malco got curious. Bolder, he took one step forward, and asked,

"If I'm about to bring you to my sister, let me see your face first."

The stranger raised both hands, which were covered with dark gloves, and with one elegant movement, he threw the hood of his cape back.

All that Malco could do was stare.

An artist? That man? His face itself seemed to be made by an artist. It was clearly defined, with high cheekbones. The hair was a light brown, and his eyes had the color of grass. His lips were turned upwards, as if he were smiling about a joke that only he could understand.

So that was the lover of his sister? That was Tizian?

Malco swallowed hard. Why did the best men always have to be taken? He sighed, barely audible. His sister would surely have fun with him.

The kind of fun that could cause her deep trouble.

The kind of fun that would cause him deep ecstasy.

"Come on now, I'll bring you to her room."

He was just about to turn around when a hand on his arm stopped him. The stranger spoke, for the first time since he had entered the room, and his words caused Malco's heart to jump.

"I'm not here to see your sister."

Jonatero Archerio was playing some kind of corriere de'll amore for his best friend Tizian. The painter had had a date tonight, which he had to cancel though it nearly broke his heart. In his despair he had asked his friend and loyal companion for the last eight years, Jonatero, to bring a message to his lovely amica di cuore.

That was the reason Jonatero had sneaked his way through the dark like a thief in the night.

And now he was standing in front of one of the most handsome man he had ever seen. He pushed his hands deeper in his pockets to minimize the temptation of touching him when he felt the letter from Tizian.

A little embarrassed, he pulled it out and handed it over to the man whose name he didn't even know.

"I shall just deliver this note from Master Tizian. He is tied up with business tonight, and he can not come to see your…sister."

His voice sounded slightly questioning at the end, and the young man nodded, lost in thought, gazing down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly Jonatero pulled all his courage together, and murmured.

"May I have your name?"

The young man tore his eyes from the note, and for the first time that night he smiled. His smile simply took the older man's breath away. It was blinding, put sparkles in those beautiful gray depths, and seemed to fill the room with a light brighter than the candle.

"My name is Malco di Reedi. My sister and I, we are distant relatives to Cosimo di Medici, the owner of this bello palazzo. Well, very, very, very distant. We are here for the summer months to find a suitable husband for my sister. But as you know, she has already made her decision. A decision that our parents will absolutely not agree to. And right now I wish I wouldn't talk so much. And I wish I knew your name, too…"

Now Malco stopped. He flushed with embarrassment. What would that man now think of him? He had been rambling again. And he didn't even know the other man's name. He turned away, and pressed his trembling hands against his hot face.

"I'm Jonatero Archerio. I'm a good friend of Tizian. He asked me to do him this favor tonight. And I must admit that I don't regret it that I came here."

Malco turned around again, and opened his mouth to say something, when a female voice from the door interrupted the two men.

"Mal? Isn't he here yet?"

Malco smiled again, and opened the door carefully. He passed the note through, whispered a few words, and closed the door again.

The sad sighing of the woman was heard, and then the soft footfall, when she went back to her room.



Both men began simultaneously. Laughing, Jonatero gestured to Malco to speak first.

"I guess you will go home now?"

"Oh yes. It is late. I have to get up early tomorrow morning. My night is over with the first rays of the sun."

"Oh, I understand. I would like to offer you a glass of wine, but…"

Jonatero's voice interrupted Malco mid-sentence.

"I would love to."

"You would?"

Jonatero nodded, and was rewarded with another one of the young man's blinding smiles. While he sat down on the clean scrubbed wooden table, Malco quickly put out two glasses and a bottle of Chianti. He poured it, and he also sat, raising his glass. The other man returned the gesture and with a soft cling they clinked the glasses.

"To new friends."

"To the ones we love."

Jonatero's voice was soft. His gaze never leaving those gray eyes, he slowly took the first sip of his wine. It was excellent. The discomfort both had felt a few minutes ago was gone now. They began to talk easily, finding out that they had a lot in common.

They had lost all track of time when Malco heard a noise. Without thinking, he laid his hand on Jonatero's arm to silence him.

A quiet chirping sound came from the outside. He rose and stepped to the window. Slowly the new day was dawning, the early birds had started singing, and the first rays of the sun were beginning to color the sky.

Malco didn't dare turn around to look at Jonatero. The night was over, and so was their time spent together.

Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder, and when he finally found the courage to look at the older man, he saw an expression of sorrow in those green eyes that mirrored his own in a breathtaking way.

"I really must go now."

Malco nodded.

"I know."

"Will I see you again?"

In an instant the younger man's heart beat faster. Could it be…?

"Do you want to?"

He didn't know what he expected. Maybe the usual empty phrases such as 'we should try to keep in touch' or something like that. But the answer he got was incredibly sincere and simple.



"Have you ever been to the Palio in Siena?"


"It starts tomorrow. I'm there every year to support my contrada. Would you accompany me, please? If you want to…"

"I want to!" he interrupted him without thinking.

Jonatero's formerly insecure expression changed to a big smile.

"We have to start early tomorrow. It will take us a few hours to get to Siena. Do you want to go there by coach? Or would you like to ride?"

Malco gave it a quick thought, and the imagination of spending hours in a private coach alone with this man sent a shiver down his spine.

"I guess a coach would be more comfortable."

Jonatero's smile grew impossibly wider.

"I will come for you tomorrow at this time. I…"

He stopped, and prayed for all the gods in heaven that he didn't misread the signals emanating from this gorgeous man. He leaned forward, and pressed a quick kiss on those tempting lips. It was barely a touch, but it sent all his senses into overload. His mind was reeling, his hands shaking, his knees felt like they were giving way every second.

And then he felt the young man reciprocating the kiss.

It was heaven.



If anyone saw them, they would be in a dungeon before they would be able to break apart from their kiss.

With all his power he backed away, cradling the young man's face in his hands.

"Not here. Not now. I see you tomorrow and we will talk about it. About us. Arrivederci, amore."

With one last look into those astonishing eyes, the tall man left, melting into the remaining shadows of the night, leaving Malco deep in thought.

The day went by with agonizing slowness. His sister was boring him with stories about her lover, or better…her soon-to-be lover. Or rather not-so-soon when he was asked. But he wasn't. So he remained quiet, listened to her babbling, nodded every now and then when it seemed appropriate, and thought about green eyes, soft lips, and forbidden feelings. He was so deep in his own thoughts that he didn't notice that his sister had stopped talking. So he was startled when he suddenly saw her hand waving before his eyes.

"Mal? You alright?"

In vain he tried to pull himself together. The smile of reassurance he wanted to give her failed. And a look full of sympathy came into her eyes.

"Dio mio, brother. You are in love, aren't you?"

She knew him too well. There was no sense in hiding his emotions from her. He simply nodded.

"Who is he?"

Being his sister, she also knew about his preferences in bed. She wasn't shocked, or disgusted. She loved him for who he was, and for her it didn't matter that he preffered men to women. In fact she liked the idea. They always had something to talk about. And going for a walk in the park with him was much more fun than with anybody else. They used to discuss the different men they met, and tried to imagine their good and their bad sides.

Now Malco rose his head, and his sister saw the sincere love in them. She swallowed hard. This time her brother was truly and deeply in love. She could read it in his eyes.

"Jonatero Archerio. He brought the note from Tizian last night."

"He was there? In the Palazzo? And you didn't show him to me?"

He gave her a deadly glare, and she had enough decency to blush.

"You're right. Last night really was neither the right place, nor the right time. But is there a chance I can meet him?"

"Well…depends on how early you can get up in the morning."

His smile became a little mysterious. And Madelina suddenly envied him…

Siena was filled with hundreds of people. The noises of the horses were heard in every part of the city, street hawkers were offering their deeds, and different languages could be heard.

Malco was overwhelmed. Jonatero could see it in the big, wide-opened eyes of his young friend. Constantly, they were pushed together or apart. The mood in the streets were excited, everywhere they could hear people yelling, and suddenly there was a cry from the far end of the street where they were walking.

The horses from the contrada came. Jonatero supported the contrada di pantera from the Via di Quirico. He was born and raised there and as a true son of his city he never missed a race of his contrada.

After the marching in of the ten participating contrada's, the carroccio came, and with him the Palio, the wonderful banner and the desire of all the riders.

When the race finally began, the mood was boiling over, people yelled, horses neighed, and the riders had a hard time remaining on the bare horsebacks.

The race itself lasted only a few minutes, and after it was over the winning horse was celebrated like a true hero. Unfortunately it hadn't been the horse from Jonatero's contrada, but that didn't seem to bother him. He was in a hilarious mood, laughing, singing, and greeting old friends and relatives.

Never forgetting Malco, who sometimes stood silently by his side. Every now and then Malco felt the tender touch of the other man's hand on his back, or at his own hand. It made his skin tingle, and his heart beat faster.

Later that night they sat among a cheery crowd of people celebrating the Palio by eating and drinking. Jonatero and Malco would stay overnight with one of Jonatero's relatives, an uncle who was by now well and truly drunk. Jonatero only laughed at a comment from Malco, saying that his uncle would sleep somewhere together with an equally drunk, nice and willing woman, and in the morning they would come back to the campo together, and would go on celebrating.

Tonight he and Malco would be able to sleep alone and undisturbed in his uncle's house.


A shiver ran down Malco's spine at the opportunities that unfold themselves before his inner eye. He gazed at Jonatero, who had just clinked glasses with his older brother when he somehow seemed to feel the younger man's eyes resting on him. He turned around, reciprocating the look, and found himself suddenly unable to go on drinking and laughing with his friends and his family.

All he wanted to do now was to take this amazing man in his arms and make love to him. Their eyes locked, and within seconds they simply nodded. Jonatero leaned over to his brother, whispering something in his ear, making the older man laugh out loud. He gave his brother a heavy pat on his back, causing him to stumble slightly, then he looked at Malco, grinned broadly, and yelled to Malco's complete embarrassment,

"Have fun tonight. Go and celebrate life, amici!"

They left the street, turning some corners, leaving the crowd behind them until they finally reached a more quiet part of the city. After a few minutes Malco broke the silence between them.

"Your brother…does he know about…you? And me?"

Jonatero turned his head to look at the young man. His eyes were dark and unreadable in the pale moonlight.

"Yes, he does. I have no secrets to my family. He loves me. He may not always agree with my…decision…with the way I lead my life, but I am his brother and he loves me. No matter what. What about you and your family?"

Malco remained silent for a few minutes. His parents…dio mio! If they were ever to discover who he loved. His father would disinherit him as quickly as possible, trying his best to convince everybody that he never ever had a son as sick as him.

His mother would faint at first, and then she would probably die of embarrassment.

His older brother would most likely beat him to death.

Only his sister knew about him. And she loved him regardless.

He told Jonatero all of this in a very quiet voice. He didn't want pity from the older man, he just told him the facts.

Nothing could have prepared him for the reaction of the other man. Without thinking, Jonatero pulled him in a hug, gently rocking him, assuring him wordlessly that it was safe for him to let go. Finally.

Their kiss was tender at first, then it grew more passionate, until they tried to devour each other open-mouthed. Panting, they parted after what seemed an eternity.

"Malco, come with me. Let me show you a life without fear. Let me show you a life full of love. Let me love you."

Malco didn't hesitate.

"Si, Jonatero. Love me. Love me the way that I love you."

Moaning, Jonatero kissed him again, until he was able to part long enough to pull him inside his uncle's house, push him into the bedroom, and undress him quickly (and very efficiently).

Their first skin-to-skin contact made both man moan in anticipation. Their passion rose again, and it didn't take them long to reach their completion.

Sweating, entangled in each other's arms, they fell asleep.

Only to wake up again two hours later. And in the first light of the morning they came together again, loving, tender, yet wild and passionate at the same time. When Malco entered the beautiful body of Jonatero he felt like flying. His head was dancing in the clouds while his body was grounded in the incredible love of the man close to him.

His hands roamed over the silken skin, caressing, memorizing every line, every inch. And when he came his shout of ecstasy flew to the early sun, disappearing into the golden colored clouds of the sunrise.

"I love you."

Jonatero stretched luxuriously, bathing in the afterglow of his lovemaking. These words, murmured by his sleepy lover made his heart sing. He reached over to gently caress the other man's cheek.

"I love you, too."

He gazed lovingly at the dark-haired man by his side, who slowly drifted off to sleep. And he knew deep in his heart that he had found his destination. His love. And his reason for living.

"Stay with me."

One gray opened, then the other, staring at him.


Jonatero's gaze never left his lover's. He continued, his voice filled with emotion.

"I couldn't stand losing you. Now that I've found you, I know what I've been missing."

Malco remained quiet. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Last night had been a dream come true. But never in his wildest dreams had he dared to hope that this could be something lasting. And now he was looking in the green eyes of the Sienese man, seeing only honesty, sincerity and love.

But Jonatero became nervous. The silence stretched. Too long for his liking. Maybe he had been too fast? Wanting too much after too little time?

"We don't have to stay here, we can go back to Florence, maybe San Gimignano. It's beautiful there. We could live in one of the towers, only you and mmph…"

Last night Malco had discovered a very effective way to silence the tall man. He simply kissed him senseless. And so did he now. This kiss was the answer Jonatero had hoped for. The deep kiss changed to little butterfly kisses, spread all over his face. And in between the kisses he heard a single word. A word that brought tears to his eyes. A word murmured in love.



Jonathan Archer's eyes flew open. In shock and disbelief he stared at the old woman and pulled away from her grasp. It took him a few seconds to get enough spit together to speak.

"What was that?"

The old woman smiled. With a voice crackling like old parchment, she answered.

"That you. You and love. Destined love. Understand now? Love and you no longer pain."

"You mean, that Malcolm and me…? No, that can't be true. You must be wrong. That's…that's impossible."

The old woman tilted her head as if she was thinking about his words.

"Impossible? No. You destined! Let me show more!"

And her hand returned to his heart… PART 2: Washington Harbour 1821

The 'Seaman's Pride' sailed slowly into the harbour. It was plain to see that she had been in heavy trouble. The mainsail was torn in many pieces, one mast was missing and she was listing heavily. As soon as the ship was moored securely at the dock, a woman ran up the gangway, searching for the captain. She was accompanied by a young black man, who followed close on her heels.

Finally her eyes fell on the man in a captain's uniform. With energetic steps she moved close and addressed him.

"Captain Miles?"

The captain turned. His silver hair was tousled from the wind, his face was lined by many years in the sun and the salty wind, his skin tanned. His amazingly blue eyes watched the young woman intently before he answered,

"Aye, Ma'am?"

"You are late, Captain. Your ship should have arrived here two weeks ago. Could you tell me what has happened?"

The old man eyed her with an unreadable expression. Then he turned and bellowed a few orders to his crew before gazing at the young woman again.

"Who wants to know about that?"

She straightened her posture and reciprocated the look without any sign of fear, though internally she was shaking heavily.

"My name is Lady Elizabeth Tucker. My father is the owner of this ship line. And we were expecting a guest who was supposed to be on this ship. Sir Jonathan Archer. And now would you, please, be so kind to explain the reason for your delay? Then you can bring me to Sir Archer's cabin."

The old captain closed his eyes for a second, before he murmured quietly,

"We shouldn't discuss this here in the open, Ma'am. Please, follow me to my cabin."

A shiver ran down her spine as she followed the old seaman.

Down in the cabin, the old captain told her with as much tact as he could, that the ship had been beaten by a terrible storm lasting for three days. Sir Jonathan Archer had tried to help. He had been climbing up high in the rigging while the ship was being tossed around by the waves. One of the waves had caught him, and had washed him overboard. He had never been sighted again.

Elizabeth Tucker kept her composure amazingly well. Only the deep sadness in her eyes gave the old sailor a vague impression of her feelings. She swallowed twice before asking in a very quiet voice,

"When did this happen, Captain?"

"About three days ago, Ma'am. There's no hope that the sea'll let him go. By now the sharks might have eaten him."

She paled a little more, and Captain Miles cursed silently. Hell, he shouldn't have said that. But she had a right to know it. There was absolutely no hope for the man to survive three days out there on the sea. Even if he had found something to hold on to so that he wouldn't drown, there were still the aforementioned sharks.

Lady Elizabeth Tucker, sister of Lord Charles Tucker, made it to her carriage without showing any sign of weakness. But once inside its safety, she broke down completely.

Jonathan Archer had been a friend of her family as long as she could remember. He and her brother Charles had grown up together like siblings. Sobbing, she thought of all the tricks the two boys had played on each other. And on her. And yet she had loved him dearly. Loved him like she loved Charles.

This should have been a visit full of joy, of laughter, and of memories.

Now all that remained was a dull pain in her heart, and the grief of being the bearer of such horrible news.

Malcolm Reed rode slowly along the sandy beach of his property. He had been lucky to buy one of the most enchanting places along the coastline of America from the crown, and now he was living here alone, accompanied only by his two Irish wolfhounds.

Originally, he was from England. Two years ago he had killed a young man in a duel, defending the honour of his sister. The parents of the dead man had insisted on banishing him, and his father had been forced to send him away.

Far, far away.

He had no Inclination to revolt. Silently, he had packed a few things together, had said good-bye to his beloved sister, and had stepped on the next ship to America.

Because of his quiet departure, his father had paid him whatever he could afford of his estate, so he started his new life as a man without too many worries.

He had begun to cultivate his land, and this year he would have a good harvest of corn. Right at the moment there was nothing he could do. Today the sun was shining, the first time after a whole week of constant rain and heavy storms.

So he had decided to take advantage of the good weather and take a long ride on his horse along the beach with his dogs, Aengus and Molly. It was late, shortly after dinner-time, and darkness would soon fall.

The evening wind blew fresh in his face, and enjoying the warmth of the late sun on his face, he closed his eyes, Molly close as ever by his side. Suddenly he heard Aengus whining. Then a deep, powerful "Woof!".

Lazily he opened one eye, searching for his dog. He spotted him about 100 feet away, and called him. But Aengus didn't obey. That was very unusual.

Malcolm watched him more closely, and saw that Aengus tried to pull something out of the water. Something big. And according to the large dog's efforts, something very heavy.

Normally, it wasn't his habit to play with things like branches or twigs, so Malcolm rode closer.

And was shocked.

There, in his strong fangs, Aengus held the collar of a man's shirt. The dog had managed to pull the man out of the sea, and drag him up the beach. Now he opened his fangs carefully, and the man slumped down.

Malcolm dismounted from his horse, and knelt down beside the unmoving form, searching for any sign of life. To his relief he found a pulse, though it was weak and fluttering. He moved him around, and searched quickly for any broken bones, but he found none and decided that he could try to bring him home.

Suddenly the man opened his eyes wide. They were green. Green like the sea stretching out before his eyes. Malcolm stared into these green eyes.

"Who are you?" he whispered. But instead of an answer the man suddenly writhed with pain, and vomited a flood of saltwater. He cringed again, and for a few seconds his eyes held Malcolm's, then he shut them again, and fell back into unconsciousness.

It took Malcolm some time to heave the heavy body on his horse's back, and when he finally managed it, It was full dark. Slowly he led his horse homewards, luckily both knowing the way by heart.

When he arrived at his house, it took all of his strength to pull the unconscious man down again, carry him inside, and up into the bedroom. When the tall man was finally lying safe on Malcolm's bed, he was panting from the efforts.

Malcolm undressed him, and tucked him under the bedcover. Warmth. The stranger now needed warmth, and sleep, and rest.

Tomorrow he would send for a doctor, but tonight the man should just rest. Before he left the sleeping man, he put a bucket next to the bed, just in case not all of the water had left the man's stomach. Exhausted, he made his way downstairs to the kitchen.

Caitlin, the young Irish girl who cooked for him and kept his household clean, was already gone, so he made himself something to eat, and finally went to sleep in his guestroom.

He awoke slowly.

His head hurt like hell, and he felt torn and beaten. Every single bone in his body seemed to ache and every muscle felt overstrained.

Groaning, he moved to his side, feeling his stomach revolt instantly. He breathed deeply in and out, willing his inner organs to come to rest. And it worked. After a few minutes the nauseated feeling disappeared, and he carefully opened one eye.

He was lying in a bed in a small room. In a small room that wasn't moving. That excluded the ship.

Ship? What ship?

How did he come to think of a ship?

He had never been on a ship. Had he? He hadn't. Right? He furrowed his brow, trying to think, but thinking was painful. His head still hurt.


He was thirsty, and just when he was about to get up to find something to drink, he heard a soft footfall. The flickering light of a candle came near until it illuminated the room, and a man tiptoed in. In his left hand he carried the candle, in his right hand he had a glass of water. Then the man spoke.

"You are awake."

A soft whisper, not a question, but an ascertainment.

He nodded, not knowing what to say. His whole attention was focused on the water in the other man's hand.

"I thought you might be thirsty."

He nodded again, more vehement now and the other man smiled, a shy smile that somehow touched his heart.

The other man came closer, and handed him the glass. Greedily, he reached out for the glass, drowning it in one big gulp.

And regretting it only seconds later, when his stomach revolted, and he vomited again. The other man managed just in time to hand him a bucket, and he retched miserably.

It took him some time to come back to his senses, and to notice a hand gently running up and down his back. Comforting him. Supporting him. And he heard the other man's voice gently soothing him with low, tender words.

"Sshh…quiet, it'll go away. Relax. Ssshh."

He managed only one word.


The other man nodded slowly.

"I'll bring you another glass. But until I'm back, please, lay down, and try to relax."

He nodded, and let himself being pushed back. He watched the other man walk out of the room, feeling suddenly terribly alone.


Time to think.


It didn't hurt so much now. So he tried to think about how he ended up here.

And where was here?

What had happened? He searched inside his head, but all he could find there was darkness.

Why darkness?

Panic rose inside him. Where had he been? Why was he here? Where was here? Who was that man? Who was…?

His eyes went wide. Shivers run down his spine, and the now familiar nauseated feeling came again…who was he himself?


He remembered nothing! There, where his memories ought to be, there was a huge gaping hole! Nothing! He couldn't remember who he was…where he was…why he was here…and where 'here' was.

He heard the other man come back again, and stared at him wide-eyed. He didn't know him. Or should he? How could he? How could he know when he didn't…know. A feeling between hysteria and panic settled inside him, and he asked in a croaking voice:

"Who are you?"

The other man smiled. It was a friendly smile. A warm smile. While handing him the glass of water, he answered,

"My name is Malcolm Reed. Here, drink this. But, please, slowly this time, yes?"

Numbly, he took the glass, staring at the other man. And somehow he managed one final question.

"Who am I?"

Malcolm felt like he'd been hit. What did he mean? What did he mean by 'Who am I'?

He couldn't remember? WHY couldn't he remember? How should Malcolm know his name? He tried to calm down. Breathing in…breathing out…in…out…

Malcolm gazed deeply into the other man's eyes.

"What do you mean? Don't you remember?"

The other man shook his head, his voice now sounded desperate.

"I remember nothing. NOTHING!"

"SShh…please, don't worry!"

Again the soothing voice, the hand on his shoulder. Gently rubbing, caressing, calming.

"Lie down. We can do nothing about it now. Go back to sleep, and we will talk about all this tomorrow, all right? Sleep now."

Malcolm gently pushed the other man back into the cushions, and found his hand suddenly in a tight grip.

"Will you stay?"

He hesitated only for a split second, then he saw the desperation in the stranger's eyes and nodded, a gentle smile on his face.

"Rest now. I will stay until you sleep. Good night."

The stranger held Malcolm's hand pressed to his heart, and after a few minutes the grip slowly loosened and he could tell that sleep had finally caught the older man.

'Who am I?'

The question still rang in his ears. Apparently he couldn't remember why he had been lying on the beach.

Carefully he extracted his hand from the now loose hold of the sleeping man. They would talk about this. Tomorrow. They would talk about this tomorrow.

The next day brought sun again. It was shining down from a cloudless sky, rapidly warming the air. The birds were singing, and butterflies were playing.

Malcolm had been awake since dawn, and was now standing in his kitchen, joking with Caitlin who was preparing his breakfast.

"And who is he?" she asked now, her green eyes sparkling with curiosity.

Malcolm smiled.

"I don't know."

Caitlin pouted. Her nice face looked even better with that cute little pout, but Malcolm was immune to it.

"How come you dinna know, Master Reed? He slept in your bed last night."

His smile faded slightly. Yes, the stranger had slept in his bed. A thought that made his heart beat faster. How he wished he could have joined him.

Caitlin was the only one here who knew about his preferences. Knew that he liked women, but loved men. She had found it out one day, and to his complete and utter amazement she had stayed, telling him she felt even more safe in his house now. Now she knew he would never try to seduce her. And he was eternally grateful for that kind of understanding.

He was just about to answer when a quiet voice coming from the door answered the young maid's question.

"He can't know it, Miss, because I don't know it myself."

Malcolm and Caitlin turned around to see the stranger stand in the doorway, swaying slightly.

He woke up to a bright sunny day. His headache was gone, and he felt almost good.


Still he had a big zero in his brain, and couldn't even tell his own name. But somehow he knew that he had to be lucky to be alive. Slowly he got up, and looked around to search for some clothes to wear.

On a nearby chair he found underwear, trousers, and a clean shirt. Grateful for them, he dressed and left the room in search of his host. The memories of the last night were somewhat blurry, and he couldn't quite recall his host's face. His name was Malcolm Reed, that much he could remember.

As he slowly walked down the stairs, he heard a quiet murmur from behind one door. As he reached for the doorknob, he heard a woman's voice saying,

"How come you dinna know, Master Reed? He slept in your bed last night."

He pushed the door open, and answered instead of the asked man.

"He can't know it, Miss, because I don't know it myself."

Both turned around to face him, Reed's face lighting up with pleasure.

"You are awake." Malcolm said, unconsciously repeating his words from last night.

Now the man smiled.

"Yes, I am."

The girl seemed to be about seventeen years old. A nice girl with long red braids and green eyes. Her figure was slim, her voice was pleasant to hear. Now she quickly walked up to him, pulled him over to the table, sat him down, and within a few minutes a hearty breakfast was placed in front of him.

"Eat, sir. You'll feel better after that. Master Reed, would you like tea or coffee?"

Reed smiled, and sat down in front of the stranger.

"Coffee, please. Thank you, Caitlin."

The cup was placed in front of him, complete with a little bit of milk, just the way he liked it. Then Caitlin excused herself. Today was her washing day, and she had to start soon or she wouldn't be able to finish it today.

The two man sat opposite each other In silence, one eating, the other slowly sipping his coffee.

Finally Malcolm broke the silence.

"How shall I address you?"

The stranger raised his head, gazing at Malcolm.

God, that man had gorgeous eyes. Not really blue, not really gray, a mixture of both. A colour that reminded him of the skies above his Irish home.

His Irish home? His heart skipped a beat. He remembered…

"I am from Ireland."

His voice sounded careful, questioning as if he wasn't quite sure whether he could trust his own memories. Malcolm's eyes grew slightly wider.

"You remember?"

He nodded.

"What else?"

He furrowed his brow, closed his eyes, thinking hard, but he had to give up at last. He shook his head sadly,

"Nothing. That's all."

Malcolm covered the other man's hand with his own in a gesture of comfort.

"Don't worry. It's a start. It means that your memory isn't lost forever. Given time, you will remember everything."

"You think so?"

He pressed the hand quickly, reassuringly, before releasing it again. And instantly the other man felt like he lost something. He flexed his hand a few times, and pulled it up to his heart.

"I'm sure. But until then…how shall I address you?"

The man shrugged his shoulders, helpless.

"I don't know. What do you think would fit me?"

Malcolm leaned his head to one side and studied him closely. As he gazed at the beautiful face, the handsome features, the clearly defined cheek-bones, an image sprang to his mind.

Michelangelo's David.

Once he had been in Florence, and there, on the Piazza Signoria, he had seen the statue for the first time.

It had amazed him. He had been sure that never before he had seen something as beautiful as that.

Until now.

Now he gazed at a man who seemed to surpass the beauty of the statue. And so, without hesitation, he answered,



"Do you know the 'David' from Michelangelo Buonarroti?"

The stranger shook his head, a questioning gaze in his eyes.

"It is a beau…statue in Italy. I've seen it once, and I loved it immediately. You remind me of it."

A sad smile lifted the corner of the other man's mouth.

"So cold and inaccessible?"

Malcolm stared at him in shock.

"NO! Of course not! But you remind me of him. Your face, your body, your…everything."

"Thank you."

The other man's voice sounded sincere. And so it was set. Until he could remember everything again, his name would be David.

The next days and weeks went by peacefully. Malcolm and David grew closer from day to day.

It turned out that David was a very good rider. A when the harvest time came, he was as helpful as any worker Malcolm had engaged.

One night they sat together on the porch after enjoying Caitlin's good meal, drinking a rich Italian wine. Malcolm was telling him stories about his journeys, about Italy, about his home in England. And how he had been forced to go away.

They were sitting side by side, and when Malcolm told him about his parents and how they had abandoned him, David put his arm around his shoulder, and pulled him closer.

It was a comforting gesture, and for a second Malcolm relaxed into the other man's embrace, before his rational thinking kicked in again. But he managed to suppress every warning thought. He closed his eyes, resting his head on the strong shoulder, enjoying the comforting closeness of another man.

David thought nothing. He just felt, and it felt oh-so-good. So he carefully nuzzled his face into the smaller man's hair, breathing in deeply.

And from somewhere deep inside his mind, pictures came to the surface. Feelings, emotions. Love. And hurt.


Kisses. Touches. A gasp. A moaned name

"Jon, oh god, Jon."

A male voice. A breathless voice. Involuntarily, he tightened his grip around the younger man's shoulder.

Jon? Was that his name? It sounded familiar. So maybe it was his name.



"I guess…I guess I just remembered something."

"You did?"

Malcolm entangled himself from David's grip, and gazed at him in excitement.

"What do you remember?"

"My name?"

David's voice sounded insecure.


"And what?"

Malcolm turned his eyes upward, before gazing at David again.

"And what is your name?"



Malcolm repeated the name, and looked at the other man. Then he smiled.

"That suits you."

"Are you sure?"

"I am."

Without hesitation, Malcolm moved back into Jon's embrace, snuggling closer to the solid form of the older man.

"Do you remember anything else?"

Jon's arms closed almost automatically around Malcolm again.

"No. But now I'm confident that it will come…bit by bit."

Suddenly Malcolm felt his body react to Jon's warm nearness. He freed himself again from the almost loving embrace of the older man.

"I'll go to sleep now. Good night."

Before Jon could reply, Malcolm was gone.

And Jon was left outside on the porch.

With an almost aching hard-on.

"No, please! Don't go!"

A desperate plea, sobbed quietly. Jon sat straight upright. The soft murmuring touched his heart. For a moment he wasn't sure if he hadn't dreamed, but then he heard the voice again. More insistent now.

"Please STAY! Don't leave me alone! You can't…"

The voice now sounded more urgent.


Jon reacted purely on instinct when he pushed his covers aside, left his bed, and followed the voice until he stood in front of Malcolm's door. He could hear a groan again, and then…

…a yell! A cry, cutting through to his heart, and without thinking Jon pushed the door open.

Malcolm sat bolt upright, staring wide-eyed into nothingness, tears streaking down his cheeks.


Jon's voice didn't reach the younger man, who was still caught in his nightmare. Jon stepped closer.


A little louder now. Still no reaction.


Now he reached out, touched the younger man's shoulder and shook him slightly.

He was unprepared for his reaction. With a gasp Malcolm came to his senses again, stared at Jon with tear-clouded eyes, and threw himself suddenly into the older man's embrace.

And Jon closed his arms around him. He heard the sobbing of the other man, felt his body tremble, and instinctively pressed him closer to his heart. He rocked him gently in his arms, until he felt the trembling slowly, ever so slowly subside, until he felt the body in his arms relax.

But Malcolm didn't loosen his grip.

They sat like that for almost an hour. When Jon thought that the younger man had fallen asleep again, he tried to free himself from the grip.

Not because he wanted to, but because he felt his body react. Again. And it was embarrassing, for he was sure that the young man simply drew comfort from his presence.

Nothing more.



The grip of the apparently sleeping man tightened again, and a still barely audible voice murmured,

"Stay, please."

Jon gave in to the impulse, and gently stroked Malcolm's dark hair.

"Are you sure?"

He felt the nod, and smiled. Carefully he pulled his legs onto the bed, made himself comfortable, and in an instant Malcolm plastered himself on top of the older man.

Gently, Jon pulled the covers up to warm them both, and stroked the younger man's back until he could tell that he was really sleeping again.

With a deep sigh, he closed his eyes, and followed him to dreamland within minutes.

He shivered in the cold, and turned to seek the warmth of the body next to him. There had to be someone. Inch by inch he scooted closer, until he found the other man. With a contented sigh, he slipped his arms around the sleeping form of the other man, snuggled closer, and went back to sleep within seconds.

… lightning… thunder crashing… the roaring of the sea around him… water… everywhere was water… pulling on him… drawing him down… tugging on him… drowning him… and then there was a man… warmth… love… and the nightmare became a dream… loving arms closing around him in the middle of the night… giving warmth and comfort… giving so much, wanting so little in return…

It took Jon a while to come to the surface of his dreams. And when he finally succeeded, he felt a body pressed to his side. He didn't dare to open his eyes, fearing this might just be another dream. Then he remembered…

He remembered…


He sat up.

"I remember!"


The sleepy voice from the man next to him made him smile. As he rolled over, the covers slipped down, revealing his usual morning hard-on, but Jon simply didn't think about it right now.

He beamed down at the younger man, who still had his head buried in his pillow. And whose gaze, as he opened his eyes, now fell directly on said erection, and who had to swallow very hard. In his mind, Malcolm repeated again and again.

I will not stare…I will not stare…I will…I will…God, I can't stand it…I can't make it…

It took all of his willpower to tear his gaze away from the tempting sight, and to pretend interest. But then slowly, the words came through.

"You remember?"

Jon nodded, his eyes shining with a light that almost blinded Malcolm.

"What do you remember?"

"Everything. The ship, the storm…"

And he began to tell Malcolm the story of the storm, and how he had been stranded.

"What made you remember?"

Suddenly Jon's expression changed. He seemed to become wary, more on his guard. And his voice sounded hesitant when he answered,

"It was you."


"Yes, you. Malcolm, I guess there is something I think you should know about me."

God, this was hard. Malcolm's face was so open, so trusting, and right now Jon wasn't sure if this expression wouldn't turn to disgust, or even worse, to hate. He took a deep breath.

"ItwasyoubecauseIthinkIloveyou." he almost stumbled over the words, spelling them out in one long breath.

Then he turned his head away, waiting. For a few seconds there was nothing. Then…


Incredulous, Jon looked back at Malcolm.

"Is that all you have to say?"

"I'm sorry, but I guess I'm still too sleepy. What did you just say?"

Jon's face fell a little.

"Are you kidding?"

"No, but… " now Malcolm yawned heartily and rubbed his eyes. "It's hard for me to understand anything properly before I had my first cup of coffee."

A knock on the door caused both men to turn their heads and answer simultaneously,

"Come in."

Caitlin was standing in the doorway, a tray in her hands. A tray with two cups of coffee, two plates, and everything that was needed for a very comfortable breakfast in bed… for two.

Malcolm gazed carefully at Jon, who was staring at Caitlin and her big smile. Then, very slowly, he turned to his companion.

"She knows?"

Malcolm nodded.

"She knows…"

But Jon wasn't finished yet, he just had to swallow, and so both men finished the sentence together.

"…about me. About you?"

They stared into each other's eyes, while Caitlin put the tray down, smiled even more brightly, and left the room quietly.

Now they were alone.

Jon was staring down at his hands, while Malcolm's still sleep-blurred brain tried to put all the information together. Finally he put one finger under Jon's chin, lifting it gently so the older man had to look into his eyes.

"Jon… what was it you thought I should know?"

Still avoiding his eyes, Jon blushed furiously.

"I love you," he murmured, barely audibly, and was surprised to hear a soft laughter from the man next to him.

"Thank god. Otherwise you would have killed me for that."

And with these words Malcolm closed the gap between them, kissing him gently.

It was slowly and tender at first, but soon fire took over. Too long they'd had to suppress their feelings. Too long they'd had to pretend they were someone they weren't. Too long each had yearned to feel the body of another man pressed up against his own.

And now the kiss was the final flame, the last spark that was necessary to cause the explosion.

Hands roamed over silken skin, each playing with the other man's body like it was a fine tuned instrument. Jon craved the nearness of Malcolm, and he pulled him closer and closer, until they both seemed to become one.

"I love you. I love you so much…"

Malcolm whispered those words over and over again, kissing every inch of Jon's exposed skin, licking and biting. Slowly he moved deeper, teasing the older man's nipples until they were like hard little pebbles.

He kissed his way down, until he finally reached his goal -the erection that had caught his eyes earlier this morning.

It had been so long.

So long since he had made love to a man that way, open, loving, and in the light of the day.

Not in the shadows. Not in some dark alley. Without further words, he kissed the hard cock, kissed the tip before gently licking along the sides, returning to the tip, and finally swallowing it whole.

Jon fell back on the bed, closed his eyes, and tried his best not to push up blindly into that wet warmth. A deep moan escaped him, followed by some gasps, as Malcolm licked his cock again.

"God, Malcolm, you're killing me."

Never releasing his grip on his lover's hardness, Malcolm moved up to kiss him, hard, demanding.

"How do you want me?"

Jon opened his eyes wide.

"What do you mean?"

The younger man's smile became almost predatory.

"You know what I mean. Do you want to take or be taken?"

The smile that now crossed Jon's features was almost blinding in its intensity.

"I love it both ways. How about you?"

Malcolm giggled softly.

"Same here. But right now, there is nothing that I would love more than to feel you buried deep inside of me…"

With an animalistic roar, Jon rolled them both over, so that he was lying on top of his lover. Now it was his turn to kiss Malcolm slowly senseless. As he worked his magic on that beautiful body, Malcolm was soon writhing underneath him. And while Malcolm wasn't looking, Jon carefully pulled the butter nearer…and he lubed his index finger with it, and then slowly, very slowly and carefully he searched for the entrance of his lover's body, and pushed his finger inside.

A deep groan escaped the parted lips of the younger man. He had his eyes closed, and concentrated on those feelings his lover evoked in him. On the gently rhythm he set up, on the soft kisses that rained down upon his body.

And then a second finger entered him, and all thinking flew to heaven. He became pure bliss, emotion, and when he felt his lover's lips close around his hardness, he arched his back and came.

He came in long, warm, almost painful spurts in his lover's mouth. Sobbing he collapsed back down on his bed, caught by the strong arms of his lover.

He hadn't meant it to be over so soon, but it had been too long for him…too long since the last time…he tried to explain, stumbling over the words that rushed out of his mouth. He was silenced with one of the most tender kisses he had ever experienced. Jon whispered lovingly into his ear,

"We have our whole life ahead of us. What do you worry about?"

"I wanted it to be perfect."

Laughing quietly Jon replied,

"But it WAS perfect."

"But you didn't come, and.."

"What makes you think that?" Jon interrupted the rambling from the younger man. Malcolm gazed at him questioningly. Then Jon gestured with his head down. Down to his cock. Down to where the unmistakable signs of a climax were slowly drying on his skin.

"You came?"

Jon nodded grinning.

"It's a miracle I didn't come the moment you closed your wonderful mouth around me. But then, when you came…your face, your taste, the noises you made…it was too much for me, and I…well…I came."

"You're amazing."

They kissed tenderly, before Jon replied.

"So are you."

With a happy smile in his eyes, Malcolm went on,

"And we have our whole life ahead of us, right?"

Jon nodded.

"I would never leave you, Malcolm. I found you…or better… you found me. And it was destiny."

"I love you, Jon…what did you say was your whole name?"

Laughing, Jon answered.

"My whole name is Sir Jonathan Archer. I am here to visit an old friend of mine, Charles Tucker. We grew up together. Do you think I could send word to him by a messenger later today?"

Malcolm nodded, pulling Jon down to him.

"Of course, Caitlin's brother Rory can deliver the note. But now kiss me, Sir Jonathan Archer, and let me show you once more how much I love you…"


This time Jon's eyes opened slowly, a flicker of hope shining in them. The old woman smiled, very content now. Still her hand rested on his heart, and she left it there while she asked him,

"You go now? Go to love?"

Jon raised his hand, closed it around the woman's, and pressed it gently. She saw a sadness in his eyes that touched her heart. Something that hadn't happened for a long time. Usually she could protect herself from her client's emotions. But this man was so vulnerable. It was almost impossible for her to remain untouched. And now he spoke, his voice full of regret.

"I don't know what you're showing me, old woman. And why you're showing me all this. And whatever it is, and how much I want it to happen…it can't be true. I don't believe in destiny, and…"

Here the old woman interrupted him angrily with a couple of harsh words. Jon managed to record them with his UT, before the old woman returned his grip around his neck, and over his heart, and whispered,

"One more, human, I show you love one more. When you not believe, you go. Waste life. Stay unhappy. Understand?"

A little frightened now because of the woman's intensity, he simply nodded, and unknowingly closed his eyes again, bracing himself inwardly for the flood of pictures that was about to come…

…and it came…

…and it was the most intense of all…

PART 3: Hamburg, 2004, Hansa-Hospital, Emergency Admissions

"Dr. Voss, Dr. Scheu, please come to Emergency Admissions."

The voice from Senior Nursing Officer Gisela Ebert was ringing through the hospital, informing the two men that once again something had happened in the big city of Hamburg at night. Sighing, Dr. Eberhard Scheu put down his coffee, and hastily made his way to Emergency Admissions. He arrived together with Dr. Robert Voss, just in time for the ambulance. The four paramedics pulled down the gurney carefully, and Eberhard had to swallow. He had seen a lot in his years in the ER, but this was enough to make him heartsick.

A man was lying on the gurney, his face almost completely swollen, dark with bruises, and covered with blood. His right arm was extending in a strange angle, and an IV was fastened to his left arm.

"What do we have here?" Eberhard asked, keeping his voice professional.

One of the emergency doctors answered. Eberhard knew him well. His name was Erich, and usually they were flirting a bit, but not this time. Erich's face was dark with anger, an expression Eberhard had never seen before on the young man's features.

"White, male, about thirty. He has at least two broken ribs. His right arm is broken in two places, and he might have a concussion. But his pulse is steady, his blood-pressure is by 130 over 80. He had been beaten up by some Neo-Nazis. An eldery couple had watched them, called the police, and then us. Apparently he was just leaving a gay-bar on the Reeperbahn. And those idiots saw that. You know their sick minds…"

Now Erich looked up for the first time, his blue eyes clouded with sorrow. Then he swallowed, and tried his best to regain his composure. Markus, another of the ambulance men, knew about Erich and his feelings, and continued when he saw Dr. Voss' face darken. Dr. Voss wanted facts, not some homophobic talking.

"He regained consciousness every now and then for a few minutes. He's speaking English, and he said his name was Sgt. Malcolm Reed from the USAF. He seemed to remember everything. He even gave us a summary of his injuries."

Surprised, Eberhard raised his head.

"That's exceptional for a man in such a bad condition."

The patient coughed slightly, and with a lot of effort he opened one eye.

"Normally I'm in pretty good shape. But there were five of them, and so…I could have taken three, but not five."

Coughing, his head fell back again. Eberhard took one corner of the blanket the man was lying on, and looked at Robert.

"By three…one…two…three."

Together he, Robert and two of the paramedics moved the injured man onto a bed. The man quietly murmured something in English. Eberhard looked at Robert Voss.

"So, how good is your English?"

Robert shook his head.

"I understood almost nothing. He has a very strange accent. I guess we have to call a translator."

He gazed at Sister Dorothea, the Deaconess, who was standing right behind him, ready when needed.

"Sister Dorothea, don't we have someone new on the team tonight? An exchange-doctor? From America?"

Sister Dorothea shook her head. Her warm, friendly voice answered immediately.

"He is from Munich, but his English is excellent since he studied two years in Los Angeles."

Robert made a dismissive gesture with his hand.

"Whatever. Please, Sister Dorothea. Go and get me this man. We need someone who speaks English."

Then he turned to Dr. Jaspers.

"We need a radiography from his thorax in two layers. And call Martina, the anesthesiologist. Here," he gave Till, the young male nurse a sample of blood. "We need his blood group, and some preserves. Bring this to the lab, and tell Veronica to hurry up. Dr. Jaspers, we will need you in the OR. Tell them to make OR 2 ready."

Dr. Jaspers, the internist, nodded and left the room in a hurry.

Sister Dorothea returned; right on her heels was Dr. Jonathan Arkerun, an excellent surgeon with great skills.

"Where is he?"

Eberhard waved the tall man nearer.

"Over here, Doctor. He's from England. Or America. I can never tell the difference. But he seems to be conscious, maybe you can talk to him. You know, the usual: name, address, where he comes from, why the hell he went to a gay-bar at the Reeperbahn at night of all places."

Now the man opened again one of his eyes, murmuring.

"Where am I?"

Dr. Arkerun moved closer to the young man, and gasped. It nearly broke his heart to see a face as beautiful as this beaten up like that. But he pulled himself together.

"You are in the Hansa-Hospital. Can you tell me your name?" he softly said in English.

The opened eye locked on the doctor.

"You understand me?"

Smiling, Jonathan nodded.

"My name is Dr. Jonathan Arkerun. And who are you?"

"My name's Reed. Sgt. Malcolm Reed, from the USAF, I'm on leave

here in Hamburg. I wanted to see the Reeperbahn, and then…"

He coughed heavily, and Eberhard pushed Jonathan aside. Together with Robert he wheeled the bed out of the shock room. On his way out, he called over his shoulder.

"We have to operate him now. Let's get him quickly in the OR, and afterwards he can tell you anything we need to know. Jonathan, it would be good if you could stay around, okay?"

Jonathan nodded, smiling at Eberhard, though before his inner eye he still saw the heavily beaten face. After a few minutes of silence, he turned to Sister Dorothea, who was silently cleaning up the mess the team had left.

"What had happened, Sister Dorothea?"

She didn't stop in her work while answering the question.

"We're not quite sure yet, but Erich, the doctor on the ambulance, told us, that he was the victim of some Neo-Nazis, who saw him as he was leaving a gay-bar."

Jonathan's face fell.

"And that's it? That's the reason they've beaten this poor guy half to death? Just because he might be gay?"

Dorothea nodded. She sensed something in the older man. The years she had spent working here on the alphateam, had heightened her senses incredibly. She was almost sure that the horror she could now see clearly in the handsome features of the doctor in front of her was based on more than just on his sense of justice.

She had also noticed the looks between Dr. Scheu and him, and because she knew of Dr. Scheu's sexuality, she guessed the same about Dr. Arkerun. She watched him, standing there, staring at the floor, lost in his own thoughts. He was tall, at least 1,90m, and lean. His light brown hair was a little longer than usual, his green eyes, normally sparkling with humor, were now dark, his gaze intense.

His gaze.

Without her noticing, Jonathan had raised his head and was now looking Dorothea directly in the eyes.

"A penny for your thoughts, lovely sister."

The smile had returned, and she knew she had been caught staring. But she had seen too much, had experienced too much to be ashamed. She reciprocated his look without any shyness.

"I was just thinking why someone should want to kill a man, just because the other man loves a man, and not a woman."

His face hardened at her words. He pushed himself away from the table he'd been leaning on and strolled to the big window, which showed him the reception of the EA. His hands came together on his back, folded.

He watched all those familiar faces. Gisela, handling the reception desk with her usual charm and ease. Helmut, running around, dictating to all the nurses and being absolutely irreplaceable here.

Without turning around, he answered the question, his voice quiet,

"I would give everything I have, everything I possess, and everything I ever learned, to find an answer to that question, my lovely sister."

He felt more than he saw her presence at his side. Gently she lay a hand on his arm.

"They will patch him up, Dr. Arkerun. I'm sure about it."

"I know. I just feel so helpless," Jonathan shook his head, "I'm waiting here, Sister Dorothea."

Smiling the Deaconess patted his arm.

"I'd prefer 'lovely sister'. Do you want a coffee?"

A little sparkle reappeared in the remarkable eyes of the doctor, and he nodded.

"That would be nice, my lovely sister. But just tell me where I can find it. I don't want to cause any inconveniences."

"Pah! Nonsense. I'm ready here anyway. Come with me. I know a place where we can wait undisturbed."

The operation lasted four hours. One of the ribs had found its way into Sgt. Reed's lung, and it took all the abilities and skills of Dr. Voss and Dr. Scheu to fix it. Twice his blood pressure went down dramatically, one time they had to re-animate him.

But finally they closed the last incision, wiping the sweat from their foreheads.

Eberhard looked at Martina, the anesthesiologist, and smiled.

"I guess that's it. Now put him to the recovery room, and let's see how he's feeling when he's awake again."

Martina nodded, and carefully pulled Sgt. Reed back to the land of the living.


The noise was insistent. And disturbing. Somehow hurting. His head hurt. His lungs burned with every breath he took. Slowly Malcolm opened his right eye. The left was still closed. He couldn't open it. White ceiling…white walls…and the unnerving ~beep~beep~beep~ from the monitor next to his bed… a hospital.

With a deep and frustrated sigh, Malcolm closed his eye again.

It had happen again.

Once again he had been beaten. And just because he'd been on the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Decided to join us again?"

An amused voice caused Malcolm to open his right eye again. He got a blurry vision from a man in a white doctor's coat.

"Who are you?"

The oval of the face came nearer.

"My name is Dr. Jonathan Arkerun. I'm a surgeon, and… well, I…ah…I'm kind of an interpreter. You said your name is Malcolm Reed?"

Malcolm nodded.

"Sgt. Malcolm Reed."

He couldn't see the face quite clearly, but he could hear the smile in the voice as the man answered,

"I'm sorry, Sgt. Reed. Where are you from?"

The eye closed again.

"Why do you want to know?"

A sigh.

"It's my job, Sergeant. So, please, where are you from?"

A deep sigh.

"Originally, I'm from England. But I last worked for the United States Air Force. I'm off duty for six months. I'm visiting here in Hamburg, staying with a… a friend."

"Kind of an English man in New York?"

The voice sounded friendly, referring to the well-known Sting song.

Malcolm laughed slightly, but the laughing evolved into heavy coughing, It took him a few second to regain his composure.

"I guess you could say that."

Suddenly the doctor's voice sounded serious again, though he was talking more quietly now.

"Can you tell me what happened? We had to inform the police, and they might be here soon."

"The police?"



"Why what?"

"Why did you had to inform the police?"

Now the surgeon sounded a little bit confused.

"You've been the victim of an assault. We HAD to inform the police. It's our duty. So, will you tell me what happened?"


Malcolm turned his face away from the man in the white coat.


Now Dr. Arkerun sounded really surprised.

"Why not?"

Malcolm's voice sounded stronger now.

"It is nothing of your concern."

Silence. Then…

"Why did you came out of that gay-bar?"

Malcolm turned his head slowly, and stared at him with a deadpan expression in his eyes, before he answered.

"What do you think?"

"Are you…?"

"…gay? Yes."

"But what about the infamous 'Don't ask, don't tell'?"

Malcolm snorted slightly, and that was his only reply. Jonathan watched the face of the younger man. When all the bruises, the swollen eye and the bandages were away, he had to be beautiful.

Something stirred inside him. Something hidden deeply. Something that he had desperately tried to forget in the last six or seven years.

Lust. Desire. And the profound wish to protect. He carefully took the hand of the younger man.

"I want to help you. Me, and the whole alphateam. But you have to trust us. You have to help us, too. And you have to tell us what happened."

Gray met green. And with a faltering voice Malcolm began to tell him the events of the evening.

The police made their notes, promised to do everything within their power and left again.

Exhausted, Malcolm sank back into the cushions. He had left a few things out, such as the name of his companion, the name of the bar, and his sexual orientation. Through the whole questioning, Dr. Arkerun had stayed at his side. For that he was very grateful. It had given him comfort and strength.

Now he was tired, and closed his eyes, trying to sleep.


"Why didn't you tell them what you told me?"

Malcolm slowly opened his eye.

"I did."

"You didn't. You didn't give them the name of the bar, you didn't tell him that your companion was another gay man, and that he ran away, leaving you alone, so that these bastards could beat the shit out of you."

Malcolm closed his eye again, and repeated his words from earlier that night.

"It was none of their concern."

He heard the soft footfall as the doctor stepped closer, followed by the screeching noise of a chair being pulled over the floor without being lifted up.


Malcolm didn't react.

"You want to hide forever?"

Sighing Malcolm opened his eye again.

"Listen, Dr…?"

"Arkerun. Dr. Jonathan Arkerun."

,,…Dr. Arkerun. I'm really tired. Could you eventually consider letting me sleep?"

The eye closed again, and Malcolm felt a deep fatigue overcome him. He yawned heartily, not trying to hide it.

Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"I really want to help you, Sergeant. And I really would like to talk to about the…incident. Therefore I have a reason. Helmut will come later, and arrange the transport to the Main House. When you feel better, we will talk. And that's a doctor's order, Sergeant Reed. And now…good night."

With that Dr. Arkerun walked out of the room, leaving Malcolm to his own dark thoughts.

…three weeks later…

"Good morning, sunshine. Rise and shine."

The door to his patient's room was opened energetically, and Dr. Jonathan Arkerun entered, a big smile on his face.

Malcolm groaned, and pulled the cover up and over his ears, trying to hide from this terrible cheeriness that the doctor was spreading.

"Go away…" came the muffled reply.

"No chance, Sergeant. Do you know what day it is today?"

Slowly Malcolm emerged from his hiding, hope shining in his eyes.

"I can go home?"

Jonathan's smile grew impossibly wider.

"Yep. I just signed your discharge ticket. One final evaluation, and you can get dressed and go home."

Now Jonathan's face lost a bit of his smile.

"Do you have a place to go?"

Malcolm was already busy getting up and getting dressed.

"Indeed," he replied over his shoulder. "I'll have a place where I can fully recover, thank you. And I still have some months left in my vacation."

Jonathan was still lingering in the doorway, and now closed the door gently behind him. Malcolm looked up, amazed to find him still standing there, with his back to the door, his gaze directed at his shoes.

"Is there something else I can do for you, doctor?"

Jonathan mumbled something that Malcolm couldn't understand. It had to be German, for he could make out three words. It sounded like "feigling", "abendessen" and "ausgehen".

All three were unknown to him. He stepped closer, resting one hand on the doctor's arm. Jonathan's head shot up, and the both men were staring into each other's eyes.


Jonathan heaved a deep breath, before he quietly said,

"Is there any chance you would consider going out with me? Join me for dinner, perhaps?"

For the first time Malcolm looked really at him and saw not the doctor, but the man. He took in the tall figure, the light brown hair, the green eyes, the enchanting smile.

And he reciprocated the smile.

"I would like it very much."

Jonathan smiled relieved.

"Tonight? At seven?"

Now Malcolm was surprised.


Jonathan's smile faded slightly. Damned, it was too soon. He should have waited, he should have suggested a date for next week…next month…next…



To say a stone was falling from his heart would have been the understatement of the year.

Now Malcolm smiled for the first time since Jonathan had known him. It was a shy smile, a half smile, a smile that caught the doctor completely off-guard, and he fell. He fell completely and totally in love with that Sgt. Malcolm Reed, US Air Force.

Slightly breathless, he asked,

"How about Italian?"

"Italian would be fine. When does your shift end here?"

"At six tonight. How about I fetch you at seven?"

The smile stayed on the English-man's face, as he gave him the address where he would be staying for the next few weeks.

With a handshake that lasted a bit longer than appropriate, the men parted.

"And how did he get the nickname 'Trip'?"

Malcolm could barely hide his laughter when he answered the question.

"He was falling over everything that was lying in his way. We used to run away together when his little sister was chasing us. There only had to be one little stone…be sure Charles tripped over it and fell. After a few such incidents his nickname was set. He used to trip…so it was Trip."

The loud laughter of the older man caused some other guests to turn their heads, but their reaction was only a slight smile in return before they went on eating.

Without even noticing it, Jonathan reached over the table and touched the younger man's hand.

And silence fell between them…then…

"Dr. Arkerun…"

"Call me Jonathan, please. Or Jon."

"…Jon…what are you doing?"

Slowly Jon entwined his fingers with Malcolm's, holding his hand tight. But he remained silent.

Malcolm eyed him carefully. The whole evening he had been getting signals he was insecure about. Looks, casual touches, the undivided attention of that extra-ordinary man in front of him.

But he was afraid. Afraid that this man might be just friendly, and that he was reading too much into his little gestures. He had to know, had to be sure…

"Say something…" the English-man whispered, almost pleading. "I have to know what this is all about…"

Slowly Jonathan raised the other man's hand to his lips, and, never leaving those amazing gray eyes, he kissed every finger tenderly.

A shiver ran down Malcolm's spine and he could feel himself blush.

"What do you do to me?"


A soft whisper, barely audible in the soft murmur of the other guests, but it seemed to fill Malcolm's senses like nothing ever before did. With an unreadable expression in his eyes, he asked the older man,

"Do you believe in love at first sight?"

Now Jonathan had to swallow hard. Once he had believed in it. Once he had experienced it, with a young man named Gnther. But after six months, Gnther had left him, right after Jonathan had asked him to spend the rest of his life with him.

How Jonathan had loved him. He would have done everything for him. He would have left the Emergency nightshift; he would have taken the dayshift. Or even changed his job completely. Whatever it would have taken.

"You suffocate me with your love!" was all Gnther had said to him, before he had packed his bags, and had left him.

Left him alone, with a broken heart.

And the decision never again to fall head over heels. And he had managed to keep it that way. He'd had affairs with other men after that. But always it had been purely physical. Never ever had he allowed himself to involve his heart again.

And now he was sitting here, in a nice Italian restaurant, in front of a stunningly gorgeous man, whose hand he was holding. And who was doing his best to capture Jonathan's long hidden heart. And who suddenly asked him, if he believed in love at first sight.

"Why do you want to know that?" Jonathan's voice sounded insecure.

"Because I think I have fallen for you, Dr. Jonathan Arkerun."

And without another word, Malcolm leaned over the table and kissed the surprised man gently on the mouth.

Then he sat back, took his glass of red wine, and drank as if nothing had happened, leaving Jonathan open-mouthed.

And that was the beginning.

"Oh god, Malcolm, yessssss."

Jon closed his eyes, and leaned back while the talented mouth of his English-man was doing its usual magic to his body. He reached down, and wove his hands into the dark strands of his lover, gently guiding him.

The younger man had three fingers buried deep inside his lover's body, and his cock in his mouth, gently nibbling up and down, listening to Jon's deep moans, his sighing and gasping.

He knew the other man was close…so close…just one or two more strokes were all it took… and then Jon came. In long, warm spurts he came in the velvet heat of his lover's mouth. Gently Malcolm pulled his fingers out of his lover's warmth, and cleaned them on the nearby cloth that was always laying just within reach.

Breathing hard, Jon pulled Malcolm up to him, and kissed him, hard and longing at first, but soon his kiss became softer, more seductive. Malcolm smiled into the soft mouth.

"I love you, Jon. I love you so much it sometimes scares me."

Smiling gently, Jon kissed his shoulder.

"It doesn't have to scare you."

Malcolm's smile faded slightly and he swallowed his disappointment at this reaction. It wasn't what he had expected. But that incredible mouth began to trail a path down his body, and Malcolm closed his eyes, moaning quietly, forgetting what it was he had been worrying about.

Jon slid deeper, kissing and licking along this gorgeous body, until he was finally able to close his lips around the throbbing manhood of his lover. Without letting go of his prey, he reached for the lube on the nightstand, and gently opened his lover up. One finger slid in easily, the second followed only seconds later.

Malcolm was writhing underneath him, moving and bucking his hips in ecstasy, moaning constantly now.

"Oh please, Jon, please, can you…love, come in me…now…I want you to…oh please…" Malcolm almost sobbed now.

For Jon it was a miracle how he could be hard again, especially with his last climax less than fifteen minutes ago.

But he was, and he didn't want to muse about the how and why. He quickly lubed himself up, positioned himself at the entrance to his lover's body, and pushed forward. Slowly, inch-by-inch he glided deeper into the tight heat, and into the love that surrounded him.

They moved in perfect unison, until Malcolm couldn't hold it back any longer. He arched his back, involuntarily pulling his lover deeper than ever inside him as he came hard, and almost violently. And that did it to Jon, who came a second time, howling like a wolf.

Sweating, they collapsed together in a heap of tangled arms and legs, kissing each other over and over again.

"I love you, Jon. I love you, love you, love you…"

Jon was still trying to regain his breath, saying nothing, just listening to the wildly beating heart of his lover.

Never before had he experienced such love, such trust, and such understanding. But nevertheless he wasn't able to tell his lover what the other man longed to hear so much. His brief relationship with Gnther had shown him that as soon as he loved someone, and told him he loved him, he would lose him. So he was afraid to let anyone into his heart. And never since that day had he ever told anyone those three magic words "I love you".

They were together for four months now, and everyone at the Hansa Hospital knew about their relationship. Jonathan had never tried to hide it. Every now and then Malcolm came to fetch him in the morning. Or he came in the middle of the night, when he was unable to sleep and knew that Jonathan had to work nightshift at the alphateam.

Now Jon disentangled himself carefully from his lover's embrace, sat on the edge of the bed, and asked him in a casual tone,

"Shouldn't we get up now? My shift starts in about an hour."

Malcolm tried his best to hide his disappointment, and swallowed.

"Yes, you're right."

Malcolm got up and put on his jeans.

"I'll make us something to eat, okay?"

Jon only nodded and headed for the bathroom. As the two men sat together over their lunch, the mood was once again lightening up a bit, and after a few minutes they were chatting again in their usual loving way.

When Jon left to go to work, they kissed lovingly, and Malcolm promised to fetch him in the morning.

One final kiss, and Jon was away.

It was five minutes to six the next morning, when Malcolm entered the EA of the Hansa-Hospital. He spotted his lover instantly; he was standing at the reception desk, laughing and joking with Gisela.

Smiling, he came nearer, and cleared his throat to get their attention. Jonathan turned around, saw him and his face lit up.

"Malcolm. You can't imagine how good it is to see you after a night like that."

Gisela gave him one of her loveliest smiles.

"Good morning, Malcolm. So, the rest of the day he is yours. Treat him well, and make sure he can recover properly from all the… stress down here."

With a questioning expression in his eyes, Malcolm turned to Gisela.

"You say that as if there's something I should know?!"

Now Gisela's laughing eyes searched again for the doctor who was doing his best to appear busy.

"Dr. Arkerun, didn't you tell Malcolm about our new nurse?"

Now Jonathan blushed, and mumbled something like "no time" and "too busy".

Gisela's laugh became even heartier. Seeing the confused face of the younger man in front of her, she finally explained the situation.

"We have a new nurse. Her name is Ilsa Martin and she seems to have fallen head over heels for your good doctor here. She has a tendency to appear right there where he is. And she's practically glued to his side. I wonder where…ah…there she is. Now you can see for yourself, Malcolm."

A young woman came nearer, dressed in the typical nurse's uniform. She was small, almost fragile looking, with long black hair, big blue eyes, and a face to die for. That was…if one liked women. She wore flattering make-up, and her hips had a very seductive swing.

Now she placed herself next to Jonathan, smiled up to him, and pressed herself almost shameless to his side.

Malcolm felt his blood running cold when he suddenly felt Gisela's hand touch his. He looked up into her friendly face. She gestured quickly to Jonathan and Ilsa, and Malcolm suddenly knew why Gisela had been laughing about her.

She was gazing up at his lover with a look of total and complete adoration on her face. But there was something else. Deeper in those blue eyes lay something that made Malcolm shiver. Something dark, something unreadable.

And suddenly he was on his guard.

There was something lurking there in those blue eyes of Ilsa Martin, just outside of his grasp.

But he was diverted when Jon suddenly addressed him.

"Are you ready flirting with Gisela?"

He looked up and gazed directly in the amused sparkling eyes of his lover. And within seconds he decided to claim this man as his. He leaned closer, and kissed him. And to his complete amazement, Jonathan reciprocated the kiss. With all his heart, with all his soul. They parted only when they heard whistling and encouraging yells. The whistles were coming especially from Eberhard who was standing next to Gisela, his right arm draped loosely around Erich, his lover.

Blushing furiously, they both said goodnight to the alphateam that was waiting for the changing of the shifts. Malcolm's last look fell on Ilsa, and he swallowed hard. Her face was white, her lips a thin line, her fists clenched and she was almost trembling with fury and rage.

And Malcolm knew…he had made himself an enemy tonight.

The next day went by uneventfully. They spent a whole lot of it in bed, making love, laughing, kissing. Then they went shopping together, for Malcolm needed some trousers. At home they were undressing each other again very quickly, went to bed again, and made love to each other once more. But when the evening came near, Jonathan suddenly got a strange feeling. A feeling he couldn't quite explain.

Malcolm clung tightly to Jon, refusing to let him go. Laughing tenderly, Jon pressed him to his heart.

"Hey, Liebling, what's up?"

Malcolm remained silent. Carefully Jon tried to free himself from his lover's grip, but Malcolm only hold on tighter, murmuring,

"I love you, Jon. Do you know how much I love you? You may never forget that, yes?"

"Malcolm? Malcolm, you scare me. Please, let me get up now."

Hesitantly Malcolm released his lover who got up and headed for the bathroom, just like every evening.

Dinner was rather silent this evening. And when Malcolm kissed Jon good-bye, he stayed standing in the doorway, looking after him. And silently he whispered,

"I love you, Jon,"

knowing he would never hear the words he so longed for in return. Slowly, he put his hand in his pocket, touching the white envelope with the official sign of the USAF on it. They were calling him back. Back to New York. Sooner than expected. Away from his leave. Away from his love. For a few days he had been determined to retire. To stay in Germany just to be near his lover. But he doubted that Jonathan would ever feel the way Malcolm felt for him. And so he had made his decision. It had almost broke his heart.

And only now, that his lover was out of sight, he let the tears come running and he sobbed quietly, before going to the bedroom to pack his things for leaving.

The letter he'd written the day before would explain everything Jonathan needed to know. And Malcolm would try to go on.

It was five minutes to six in the morning, the usual time for Malcolm to come and fetch his lover.

That strange feeling had disappeared, and Jon was light-hearted again, looking forward to see his lover. In his heart a wall had been broken down that night. He was determined to finally tell Malcolm that he loved him. He was willing to risk it.

When he stepped to Gisela, he was surprised to find her alone.

No Malcolm?

He stepped closer, leaning himself comfortable on the reception desk.

"So, Gisela, another night is over. Time to go home again, huh? I just thought that Malcolm would come and fetch me…"

He looked around but couldn't find him, and suddenly he noticed the strange silence from Gisela. He turned to her again, studying her face closely.

"Gisela? You alright?"

She swallowed and told him in a quiet voice,

"Malcolm had been here, Dr. Arkerun. But he couldn't wait for your shift to be over. He was in quite a hurry. He…he asked me to give you that."

With these words she pulled a white envelope out of a drawer, and handed it over him. The question in his face was obvious as he took it, turning it a few times in his hands. It was a thick envelope with only one word written on it in the distinctive handwriting of his lover.


Jonathan stared at Gisela but she only shrugged helpless, before lowering her gaze again, clearly avoiding any further questions.

With heavy steps he slowly made his way to the nurses' room, and slumped down on the couch.

His fingers trembled as he carefully opened the envelope. Inside he found a single sheet of paper, covered with Malcolm's accurate writing, five pictures taken over the last four months, and the copy of a letter from the USAF Headquarters, New York, dated two days ago. A few parts were crossed through…confidential parts, he thought.

Though he had difficulties to concentrate on the words, he began reading the letter. He was stunned.

Malcolm was gone.

Malcolm had left him.

And this time his lover hadn't left him because of too much love, but because he hadn't shown him enough of his love.

"I always waited for a sign from you. For a sign that showed me you'd love me only half as much as I love you. But that sign never came. And you never told me…"

In his mind he screamed the words "But I DO love you, Malcolm. I DO love you so very much it scares me to death. I can't live without you. How am I supposed to live without you?"

He stared at the pictures. They showed Malcolm over the last few months, his face was getting smaller and his eyes more sad from picture to picture and finally Jonathan noticed what he had done. What he had lost. Malcolm was gone.


"Don't try to find me. Though I don't believe that you would take on such a strain, a little part inside me still hopes you would a least think about it. But don't do it. As you know I'm Military, and we have our ways in hiding. You wouldn't find me. But I will never forget you. I doubt that I will ever love another man the way I loved you. Please, think of me…sometimes."

Sometimes…for weeks…for months now this man had been his universe, his reason for living. And all that Malcolm asked of him now was that he should think of him sometimes. Unnoticed by him, tears started to flow. Rolling down his cheeks they slowly fell down to earth. He blinked a few times, trying to clear his focus again, to read the other letter.

It was a formal writing from the USAF, ordering Sgt. Malcolm Reed back to base, as soon as possible. The flight was booked, and he was due to report within the next 24 hours.

For what seemed an eternity Jonathan sat there, staring into nothingness. Within less than twenty minutes his whole world had been shattered. Nothing would ever be the same again.

And as this realization hit him with full force, his world narrowed down until the only thing he could see was the picture in his hand. That one, that showed a laughing Malcolm.

The letter fell out of his suddenly feeble fingers. In an almost elegant curve it touched the floor and remained there…unnoticed.


His eyes flew open with shock. For a few seconds, Jonathan simply stared into the face of the old woman. Her expression was serious. She said only one word,


Jon nodded slowly. Oh yes, he understood. Finally he understood. And finally he knew why he felt so safe when Malcolm was around. Why he always had the feeling of knowing him. Knowing him on a deep and profound level. Knowing him almost better than he knew himself.

His knees were hurting from the long kneeling on the hard floor, and as he managed to get up, he stumbled slightly. But his gaze never left that of the old woman who was now smiling again.

It was a knowing smile, a very content smile, reminding him of a cat who had just found a dish of cream.

With one last, long look into her eyes, he nodded and turned away.

He had to find Malcolm. His love. His destination.

PART 4: On board the Enterprise NX-01, now

Jonathan Archer stood in his quarters. His mind was still reeling, still trying to process the things he had seen and experienced that afternoon. The emotions, the feelings, the love, and the terrible loss of his last experience.

And it was the loss he could still feel in his heart. And it had been so senseless. So avoidable. If only that doctor had told his Malcolm…had told him…but was he any better than that doctor? The doctor had been hiding behind a broken heart.

And he, the starship -captain?

He was hiding behind his regulations. Behind his 'anti-fraternization-rules'. Behind his fear of rejection. No, he wasn't any better.

But who said there would be a rejection?

He could dare being rejected. He could STAND to be rejected. What he couldn't stand any longer was the not-knowing, the insecurity he was feeling deep in his heart.

In some of his earlier lives, and maybe in ALL of his earlier lives, he and Malcolm had been destined to be together. Somehow they always had been able to find each other, even if that had meant for one of them to cross the Atlantic Ocean and nearly die in that attempt.

So, how difficult could it be to find each other on a ship like "Enterprise"…?

Very difficult, as he thought a few hours later.

He had invited Malcolm in his private quarters for dinner. The table had been carefully laid with a white tablecloth, flowers and candles. Chef had made all of Malcolm's favorite dishes, and they had been drinking an excellent wine. Everything should be perfect.


But it was far from being perfect.

While Jon had been drinking the wine, Malcolm only had sipped on his glass, and had decided to stick to the water. The conversation had been labored, mostly about work, and slowly, ever so slowly, Jon was losing his conviction that he ever would be able to break down the walls this man had erected around himself.

But still he could hear the harsh words of the old woman in his ear. The words he had been unable to translate, but had been able to record. The words Hoshi had translated later for him, giving her result to him with a questioning look in her eyes.

"Why should that old woman call you a 'stubborn son of a bitch', Captain?"

His answer had been a furious blush and some hastily stumbled words, ending in an "Excuse me, Ensign."

And now he was here, sitting opposite a very uncomfortable looking Malcolm Reed who seemed to be wishing himself far, far away.

So he decided to try another tactic. Apparently the 'easy-chat' wasn't exactly what was needed now, so maybe he should deepen the discussion.

"Malcolm, do you believe in fate?"

"Pardon me, Captain?"

Malcolm was sitting over his dish, desperately praying for a Xindi -attack to end this dinner. This was not any different from all the other dinners he'd had with his captain over the past years. He sat there, listening to his captain's easy banter, every now and then throwing in his own two pennies, and all the while he was trying his best not to stare at the man he adored so much.

Sometimes at night, when he was lying awake in his quarters, he tried to imagine what it would be like to be loved by someone like Jonathan Archer.

What it'd be like to feel his skin against his own. Or to inhale his unique scent that sometimes caressed his senses when the captain passed by. Or to taste those seductive lips, play with his tongue, tease him, slowly making love to that incredible sexy mouth.

Usually he was jerking off after his thoughts reached the mouth, and when he came, he came with Jonathan Archer's name on his lips.

Did he believe in fate?

The question caught him completely off-guard.

Did he?

He never thought about it really. He coughed slightly and reached for his glass of wine to buy himself some time to answer. Finally he thought of a way to answer.

"Well, I do believe there might be some kind of red thread, something that might lead us unknowingly. I don't know if you could call that fate."

Jon got up, turned to one of the viewports, and looked outside. Malcolm's gaze followed him, gently caressing the muscular back of his captain. He was so lost in the observation of his object of desire that the next question startled him. Again.

"But do you think that some people might be made for each other?"

"Pardon?" he repeated himself. He didn't know what else to say.

Jon turned around, an amused sparkle in his eyes.

"I mean…do you think that some people might be destined to be together?"

"I…I…well, maybe."

Jon sat down again, his gaze never leaving Malcolm's.

"And what would you do if you met that person?"

Malcolm tried to make any kind of sense of this conversation, but failed. He frowned slightly.

"I'm not sure whether I would recognize him. Or her," he added hastily.

"And if you did recognize him exactly? Or her." Jon added the 'her' with a little smile.

Malcolm managed to stand the warm gaze of his captain for exactly four seconds before he felt the heat in his face, knowing he was blushing again. Slightly embarrassed, he lowered his eyes. If he knew him exactly…if it were the man in front of him, he would take his hand, kiss that inviting mouth, undress him slowly, and…and…and if he didn't stop right NOW, he would have serious problems in getting up.

The silence stretched, and Malcolm suddenly realized that the captain was still waiting for his answer. He knew exactly what he would be doing.

"I would tell him, Sir," he murmured quietly.


The captain's voice sounded very soft now. And without looking up Malcolm nodded. He saw no reason in hiding his preferences.

"Yes, sir. Him. But I guess in your case… her. You should tell… her."

It hurt.

It hurt so badly.

He sensed more than he saw that the captain was leaning back in his chair.

And he waited for the inevitable. The formal good-bye from his captain that would tell him this evening was over. But to his complete and utter amazement, it didn't come.

Quite the contrary…

Jon leaned back in his chair, watching his armory officer closely. Malcolm had his head bowed and looked absolutely devastated. He was clearly waiting for a rejection.

Oh Malcolm, why do have to make it so hard for me, he thought.

For a few seconds he simply sat there and studied the sight in front of him. Malcolm, his shoulders slightly slumped, head bowed, hands trembling. A man who was only held in place by his sense of duty.


Jonathan had to risk something or he would lose Malcolm just like that doctor did 150 years ago.

"Malcolm, I…ah…"

Suddenly the tension in the younger man seemed to explode. He jumped up and threw his napkin on his plate. Confused, Jon also rose to his feet.

"Captain, I assume it would be best if I were to leave you now."

Everything in Jon began to scream "NO!", and involuntarily he reached out to touch Malcolm, to hold him, to stop him from leaving. The second his hand touched the younger man's arm, all his inhibitions, all the 'buts' and 'what-ifs' seemed to vanish. With a deep moan he pulled the young man to his chest and kissed him.

Time stood still. Became meaningless. Jon couldn't say if he kissed Malcolm for seconds or for hours. His senses were on overload, his whole universe narrowed down to that man in his arms.

After what seemed a lifetime, he let go, staring down into the wide-opened eyes of his armory officer. What he saw there was unreadable. All he knew was that the man hadn't reciprocated the kiss. And that he felt like a complete idiot.

With a desperate expression in his eyes, he turned away from these eyes, taking a few steps to the viewport, staring out at the stars. He clenched and unclenched his hands, trying to stop the trembling, and finally managed to say,

"I'm sorry, Malcolm. I… I understand if you'd like to go now."

He waited for the opening and closing of the door, but it didn't come. Nothing came. There was only the sound of his own ragged breathing, the thundering of his blood in his ears, and the almost too loud beating of his heart. Unable to watch his reflection in the glass of the viewport, he closed his eyes.

An arm suddenly found its way around his waist. A face pressed against his back, another arm sneaking around to join the first, gently pulling him back against the body of the man standing behind him.

"You wanted to know what I'd do, if I ever met that special someone."

Malcolm's voice was quiet, almost gentle. Jon nodded, not opening his eyes, relishing the feeling of body against body.

Malcolm's voice remained soft, became almost hypnotic as he very slowly turned the man in his arms around, suiting the action to the word.

"I would take him in my arms like this, hold him tight as if to never let him go again. I would take his face in my hands, look into his beautiful green eyes, and I would tell him, I love you. You were meant for me, and I will never ever let you go again. You're destined to be by my side, and I by yours. Jon… I love you."

With these words Malcolm closed the tiny distance between the two of them and kissed him.

Jon was overwhelmed. The love and the trust he felt in those words and in that amazing kiss, made his knees go weak. Without a trace of hesitation he deepened the kiss, gently pushing Malcolm's lips apart, diving into that sweet cavern of his mouth, drowning…drowning…endlessly…

Malcolm had been his only anchor in a sea of passion, of lust, of unadulterated love. Somewhere between that first kiss and now he had lost track of time.

Hands were roaming over his body, lips were searching for his most intimate places, and fingers were playing on his body like he was a finely tuned instrument.

When he came, he was almost sobbing, crying out Malcolm's name as he had done so often before. But this time when he came, he wasn't alone. This time he felt Malcolm moving deep inside his body. And he heard the long- drawn shout of fulfillment, echoing his own, heard his own name in that one moment of white-hot ecstasy that left him shattered into a million pieces.

Only slowly he came back to earth, gliding gently in the welcoming embrace of his lover. Feeling him, tasting him, breathing him in.

Now he was lying on his bed, sweating, his heart beating wildly, while soft kisses were raining down on his body, and a wet cloth cleaned the mess they both had made.

A single tear escaped his right eye, running silently down his cheek, captured before it could fall down onto the pillow by the tip of Malcolm's tongue. And as if in a dream, he heard the beguilingly accent of his beloved English-man.


Slowly he shook his head; a grin began to spread over his face.

"Unbelievable happy. You?"

Another tender kiss was placed on his temple.

"Same here, cap…Jon."

Lazily Jon moved his head to face his lover.

His lover.

How long had he waited to call him that. And it had taken an old woman on a foreign planet to open his eyes and finally see. See those amazing gray depths now filled with so much love it almost made him cry. See that long sinewy body stretched out next to his own, finally allowed to touch it. He reached out, cradled the younger man's face in his right hand, and drew him closer to kiss those tempting lips once again. Suddenly Malcolm pulled back slightly and looked deep into his eyes, murmuring softly,

"Thank you."

"What for?"

An enigmatic smile appeared on Malcolm's lips.

"For finding the courage to do what I never would have dared. It's been so long that I've… had these feelings for you. When I got up this morning, I never would have dreamed that you could ever reciprocate my feelings. When you left the ship this morning, you showed no signs of…"

He interrupted himself suddenly, propped himself up on one elbow and eyed his captain suspiciously. Jonathan smiled under his intense gaze.


"You ARE Jonathan Archer, aren't you?"

Now Jon laughed out loud, before he pulled Malcolm down to kiss him lovingly.

"Yes, Malcolm, I AM Jonathan Archer. But you are right about one point… something really happened down there. And though it sounds pretty unbelievable, I'm going to be eternally grateful for it."

"What was that?"

Jon quickly gave his suspicious armory officer one more kiss, and then he told him his story of the old woman and her amazing abilities.


Earth, England, 2193

The sun set slowly over the hills of Cornwall as a smile formed on the old man's face. Today was his husband's birthday.

His 72nd.

The celebration had been a success. Though he knew very well that his husband hated those kinds of events.

All had come. All the people he had invited.

Trip, their old friend, and his best man at the wedding, with his wife and two of their three children. Travis and Hoshi, together with their seven children and their four grandchildren. T'Pol came together with Phlox, for they both served on the same ship. And some of his and his husband's old colleagues had been there as well.

Everything had been fine and though his grand love had looked very cranky at the beginning, he knew he had loved every single second of it.

Looking back, recalling the years they had spent together, the old man's smile deepened.

Sure, they'd had their bad times and their good times. But the good times outweighed the bad times by far.

He heard the soft footfall of someone coming near, and seconds later he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up into the smiling face of his youngest son Martin, who knelt down beside his father, gently patting his shoulder.

"The dinner is ready, Dad. Papa's already waiting inside. Would you come in, too?"

Jon nodded, and heaved himself out of his chair. There were days when he felt every single one of his 84 years.

But when he stepped inside his house, his gaze found his husband, and suddenly he felt as if nothing had changed since their dinner so many years ago.

Malcolm was sitting next to their eldest daughter Joanna, gently cradling their third grandchild in his arms. The four-year-old Brianna was half asleep, listening to the story her grandfather was telling her.

In all those years he had never lost that seductive accent, and it still made Jonathan's skin tingle.

With a grateful sigh, he took in the sight of his whole family. Martin, their oldest son Connor, and their daughters Elisabeth and Joanna. They all were here celebrating their Papa's birthday, together with their spouses, partners or whomever they had chosen to live with.

And with their children. Five grandchildren—three boys, two girls. He loved every single one of them.

But he still loved most of all the man who had been able to fulfill all of his dreams. The man who had been standing by his side over all those years. And who had given him so much love and trust that it still brought tears to his eyes.

Now this man looked up, found his eyes, and a beautiful smile lit up his face. All the little wrinkles deepened, making his face even more handsome. Carefully, so as not to disturb the little girl that had fallen asleep in his arms, he got up and stepped to his husband, greeting him with a tender kiss on the lips.

"Hello, love. Eli and Jo made dinner for us. I guess the girls finally learned how to cook. I know that Eli learned it from Marsha, but Jo? Ouch…"

Joanna had heard that last sentence, and in reaching for her little daughter, had given her father a friendly punch on his arm. But the smile stayed on her face.

"Eli isn't the only one who was able to find a partner who can cook. Kevin's also very good in the kitchen."

And with a tender smile on her face she went over to her husband. Malcolm put his arm around his own husband, his eyes sparkling with love.

"We've come a long way, love. All those years, all those fights, and yet… all the love we found."

Jon pulled his husband closer, and kissed him.

"I'm still glad that I met that old woman. And she was right. Some people are meant to be together. Such as you and me."

Jon felt his heart beat faster as Malcolm kissed him again, this time more passionately.

"We have a wonderful life, don't we?" he whispered, as Malcolm released him for a second.

And there, in the eyes of his husband, he saw the answer. ***

~the end~

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