Title: 'Love isn't easy (but it sure is hard enough)'

Author: Elf

Author's Contact: Maddooks@yahoo.com

Archive: Permission to archive granted to Archers_Enterprise

Rating: PG

Status: complete

Series: n/a (all 19 parts are here together)

Sequel to: n/a

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Warnings: None

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Abba not mine, Enterprise not mine. Nothing is mine.

Beta: Sal and SueC have once again brought insight, sense and correct grammar to the shambles I palmed off on them.

Summary: It's not always easy choosing the right path to take through life, but sometimes the path doesn't matter, it's the travelling companions that make the difference.

Author's Notes: This all started when I was playing on iTunes. I got bitten by a disco!bunny. These drabbles are each titled with one line from each song on the ABBA GOLD CD (hence there being 19 of them). You can try and get the songs, if you want! They are, therefore, affecionately known as 'Drabbas'.

_Love isn't easy (but it sure is hard enough)_

*I remember long ago another starry night like this* ~Trip

I can't think of a more perfect place to be. I lie still, looking at the stars, you in my arms.

I remember our first night; our first night squashed together in a single bunk, our first night sleeping in each other's arms. Just lying there, being together. No words needed to be said. Our bodies did the talking.

I remember seeing your face as you slept, falling in love all over again with this version of you that I only see when we're alone. The side of you you hide away as if it's too fragile to be shown.


*And I'm possessive, it isn't nice* ~Malcolm

He's asleep now, his breathing deep and even. His hold on me has relaxed, and with stealth that I've practiced my whole life I remove myself from his arms. I dress and silently slip away, back to my cabin.

I leave because I want to stay so badly. I want to savour this perfection I've found—to keep it, keep him. Block out the rest of the world.

And I can't. I can't be that possessive. Just because he's chosen to spend a few precious moments of his life with me doesn't mean he won't leave.

Like they all do.


*Leave 'em burning and then you're gone* ~Trip

I wake alone.

I wanted so badly for you to stay, although I've never told you. I know how much you care about how others see you. I just wish you'd understand that I'm proud to be with you. Honoured that you chose me.

You have no idea what you do to me. No-one has ever made me feel so alive. I just wish I could express it to you. But sometimes, words aren't enough. I can't use words as cleverly as you or Hoshi. I try to show you with only actions. I just hope that's enough for you.


*Won't somebody help me chase the shadows away* ~Malcolm

Sometimes I just can't help wondering what he's doing with me. I mean, he could have anyone. Someone who's good for him. Someone special, clever, handsome...all those things I'm not. All those things that my Father has spent his life telling me that I'll never be.

But sometimes, when I'm with him...I feel like maybe...I could be that person, the person he deserves. He helps chase those shadows of doubt away.

Other times, I'm sure I'm just holding him back, keeping him from finding the one he's really destined to be with. Why can't he see that?


*I can read in your face that your feelings are driving you wild* ~Trip

I wish I knew what he was thinking sometimes. I catch moments, when he's unguarded, and he lets me see in. The look on his face, in his eyes...he looks conflicted, unhappy, unsure. But whenever I ask, I get the obligatory "I'm fine".

I wish he'd talk to me. Doesn't he know that I care about him so much it hurts? If there were anything I could do to make him happy, I would do it in an instant.

Sometimes I wonder if he really wants to be with me at all. But I'm too scared to ask him.


*How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving* ~Malcolm

I've been here before. I recognise the signs. Every relationship I've ever had has left it's own mark on my heart.

So now I've learnt to strike first. I don't allow myself to be hurt anymore, not by anyone except myself.

He's not talking to me, that's one of the first signs. I catch him looking at me sometimes, with...pity? in his eyes. And I know he's just waiting for the moment to tell me, to end it.

So I'll do it first. Pre-emptive. Tactics. It's what I know. It's how I've learnt to protect myself. I'm sorry Trip.


*You don't wanna hurt me, baby don't worry, I ain't gonna let you* ~Trip

I listen to what he's saying.

"No, Mal, you don't mean that."

He doesn't dispute what I say, but he smiles a sad smile, that shows nothing of the real Malcolm.

"We both knew it would come to this," he says.

And maybe I did know, deep down, that he's been preparing for this moment since we started seeing each other. But this moment should never have come. I would never have initiated it. And I can't believe it's what he really wants.

And I'm not going to let him do this to us. I know he'll thank me later.


*We just have to face it, this time we're through* ~Malcolm

He argues. Of course he would. He wanted to be the one to say this. I've jumped before I was pushed, and somehow, by doing so, I've dragged him down with me. He sits there, mouth open, half-formed sentences falling from his lips as he tries to understand that all the lines he planned on saying are coming from my mouth instead.

"It's for the best," I say, for some reason trying to take some of his pain away; take it on myself, despite my feeling like I'm losing the best part of myself. I hide my emotion. He doesn't.


*I don't wanna talk, about the things we've gone through* ~Trip

I sit alone. There are other people present, but inside I'm lonely. He's even here, just a few seats away. I can hear his accent cutting through the others. Cutting into me.

People have guessed what's happened, they're skirting around the issue. Trying too hard to ignore it. Making it all the more painful.

I want to ask him why. I want to pin him down, shout at him, cry, shake him until I force the reason out.

Why did he throw away what we had? Why didn't I talk to him when I still could? How did this happen?


*I'm nothing special, in fact I'm a bit of a bore* ~Malcolm

They've all noticed it, of course.

They always do.

I sit here, occasionally answering direct questions. I know they're trying to make me feel included, but it feels forced.

It just makes it all the more obvious that the only reason they ever chose to befriend me was him. Trip. Commander Tucker.

I know how they see me—how they saw me before. An uptight bore. A stickler for rules.

No fun.

Just another reason why he's better without me. Mr Life-and-Soul over there. Just not my life anymore; not my soul. It's for the best. He must see that.


*Blue since the day we parted* ~Trip

I don't understand how he can carry on as if nothing's changed. He's gone back to that person he was before. People are noticing. It's like he hasn't just given up on me, he's done the same to the whole crew.

Sure, he's still good at his job—the best—but this mission is more than that. We're not eighty ranks, stuck on this ship, we're people, and this is a community. It can't be healthy to keep yourself locked away.

Although I can hardly talk. I know that since he left I've been only half of myself.

Oh, Mal.


*A man like that is hard to find but I can't get him off my mind* ~Malcolm

He still watches me sometimes.

And yes, sometimes I watch him. Just because I know what I did was right, doesn't mean I don't miss him. His playful moods, his ways of jollying me out of my own darker ones. The way he used to find any silly excuse to come to the armoury to see me. How he used to bring me food when he knew I wasn't eating.

I wish I didn't have to cut him out of my life so completely, but I know that any offer of friendship could be misconstrued. He needs to move on.


*You seemed so far away though you were standing near* ~Trip

We're on an away mission, a planet that's got all the biologists excited about something.

For once Jon's allowed Malcolm to provide security whilst I help out with some heavy drilling rigs. I assume he's noticed something's wrong and this is his way of giving us some time together.

We work together, but he could be a stranger to me. We spend the time in silence, me talking to the scientists more than Mal.

I don't know where Malcolm's gone, or why he thought he needed to go there. But I pray I can help him find the way back.


*If I trust in you, would you let me down* ~Malcolm

It's like torture. More people trying to help when they don't know the full story.

I just wish everyone would leave it. It was my decision and they don't seem to understand that.

Maybe I don't understand it either. I don't understand why Trip still seems to think that I did the wrong thing. He should understand, out of everyone, he should.

But now I'm beginning to wonder. I'd trust him with my life, just not my heart. Maybe he'd be the first one who didn't leave that telltale scar on my heart. If I can just find the courage...


*And my destination makes it worth the while* ~Trip

I can't say it hasn't been hard, but finally, after these weeks, Mal is talking to me again. I never gave up, not really, I just kept changing my plan of attack. And the last one seems to have worked. I've just tried to get back to normal. Only speaking to Mal about work-related matters. Letting him respond or not, as he chooses, not pushing anything.

And finally he's actually asked if the seat at my table is free when we're in the mess hall. Okay, we only talk about a new set of schematics, but it's a start.


*We've done it all before and now we're back to get some more* ~Malcolm

Some things never change. Isn't that the saying? Well, I can't say things haven't changed but Trip and I are getting back to how we were when Enterprise first launched.

We're having professional disagreements, but this time it's as if we both know the script already. Both know each other's arguments before they're said.

And yes, it makes me feel good. Makes me feel as if I belong.

I realise that it must have taken a lot of perseverance for him to get to know me this well. I don't make it easy for people to get inside my walls.


*One of us is lying* ~Trip

Still he says he doesn't want to get any closer than being workmates.

I know he's lying to me. Is he lying to himself as well? Does he really believe this is better, us both being unhappy? I can't believe he does.

I'm going to make him see the truth. Neither of us is whole without the other, and that whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I'm sure I can make him see that I'm right. I just have to do what I failed to do last time. I have to find courage and talk to him.


*I feel like I win when I lose* ~Malcolm

It's not a chat, but not an argument either. I guess you could call it a discussion, if that didn't sound a little too clinical.

We end up coming to a mutual agreement.

We were both wrong. And we won't make the same mistakes again. In the future we'll talk, instead of jumping to conclusions.

And I was so very wrong to think that leaving this man and continuing on my own could ever be the best thing to do. Wrong to ignore him when he tried to talk to me.

I've never been so glad to be proven wrong.


*And when you take me in your arms* ~Trip

I lie in his arms, listening to his breathing. I know he's awake too, but we're content just to lie here, together again.

Our bodies fit together so perfectly, it was crazy to think we could ever be happier without each other.

Perhaps sometimes we have to have a taste of how bad things could be for us to appreciate what we have.

I look up—outside the window the stars look as if they've been strung up as bunting. As if the universe is celebrating that one small wrong has been righted.

Inside we celebrate in our own way.




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