Title: A Life with Him

Author: Kati

Author's Contact: do_not_say_a_thing@yahoo.com

Archive: Permission to archive granted to Archers_Enterprise Rating: PG-13

Status: Complete

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Warnings: Deathfic (I didn't mean for this to turn out as a deathfic, it just did)

Spoilers: Minefield, the Expanse

Disclaimer: I don't own any of them, except in my dreams. Beta: None I'm afraid.

Summary: "Part of me wants to go over there and ask him what he finds so very captivating. Part of me is so very desperate to spend time with him. The same part that makes my heart jump every time he smiles towards me..."

Author's Notes: This is actually four stories that are supposed to form some sort of whole. The first one takes place before Shuttlepod One, the second just after Minefield, the third and fourth sometime in the third season.

Feedback: I'll be grateful for anything I get, even if I might not find the courage to read it. (This is my first Enterprise fic ever and I'm somewhat nervous.)

Watching Him

I can't help the way my eyes tend to linger on him whenever they can. I would have had to be blind not to appreciate the way he looks and I do, ever since the first time I set eyes on him. It's not the reason however why I cannot stop watching him, it's part of it no doubt, but there are many other beautiful people onboard and I find no trouble keeping my eyes away from them.

There is something about his presence that captivates me and it seems others as well. I believe he could charm anyone and mostly he doesn't even try. He is simply being himself… everything I will never be.

I don't know how I can be so attracted to the one thing I so resent about him, but I am. I'm drawn to him, like the proverbial moth to a flame and I'm sure if I let myself get close enough I will get burned.

I can watch him however and indulge in the occasional what if. There's no harm in watching, or so I keep telling myself because I simply cannot stop myself from doing it.

At the moment he is sitting, holding a PADD in his right hand and a cup of what is presumably coffee in his left. He seems completely absorbed in whatever he's reading; perhaps that explains why he's sitting alone. It is a rare event to see him sitting alone in the mess hall, there is always someone who would be more than pleased to spend time with him, just another thing to show you just how very different he is from me.

The hour is late and except for myself and Commander Tucker there are only two other persons present, so perhaps that is the real reason why he is sitting alone. Then again I am sure neither of the two crewmembers would have minded his company.

I should leave, any minute now he might look up and realize that I have been sitting here watching him for the past half hour, or more likely one of the other two people in the mess hall will realize what I am doing.

He hasn't even tasted his coffee. It must be cold by now.

Part of me wants to go over there and ask him what he finds so very captivating. Part of me is so very desperate to spend time with him. The same part that makes my heart jump every time he smiles towards me, and makes me wonder what those talented hands could… I know I shouldn't let my thoughts drift in that direction. He is my superior officer and I have never before entertained the thought of befriending my superiors, let alone anything… more.

Even if he wasn't a fellow crewmate and my superior at that I would still not let myself approach him. I am not capable of letting people that close to me and Commander Tucker refuses to do anything by halves, it would never work. And again I'm letting myself be absorbed by ridiculous what ifs. If he knew what I was thinking he would probably feel sorry for me, because I know better than to think he would find me interesting.

He takes a sip of his coffee, there is a brief look of distaste on his features before he looks at the cup in surprise. So the coffee has gone cold then.

I could get up, fetch him another cup of coffee. I can even imagine the smile he would give me when I place the hot cup of coffee in front of him. My heart speeds up at the mere thought of that smile and those blue eyes directed at me.

This is getting truly ridiculous. It is past time I returned to my quarters, no doubt I can find a report or something of the like that needs my attention, too bad I can't think of anything at the moment.


Loving Him

"I guess you're feeling better if you're trying to get out of Sickbay already."

I look up from my argument with Doctor Phlox at the sound of the familiar voice. Well it's not so much an argument as it is me doing my best to convince Phlox that I do not need to be in Sickbay and him ignoring me. I despise having to spend time in this place and it has nothing to do with Doctor Phlox.

"I'm fine," I answer, even if I know that my words will be ignored by both the Doctor and Trip. Perhaps I do overuse that particular _expression, but I'm still certainly well enough not to have to stay here.

"You are nowhere near 'fine' Lieutenant."

"You should listen to the Doc," Trip says. His _expression and the tone of his voice tell me what his words do not; he was worried about me.

I settle back down on the biobed. If Trip is here, staying is not all that bad of an idea I suppose. And I don't want him to worry.

I have never had a friend quite like Charles Tucker the Third, then again, I've never really had friends at all. I'm not someone people want to take the time to get to know, I have no idea why he did. Why he still does.

"Are you even listening to me Mal?" He is the only one I would ever allow to call me by that rather ridiculous shortened version of my name. I've never liked nicknames much, but when it comes from him it doesn't really bother me.

He can call me whatever he wants as long as he's actually spending time with me.

"I am," I answer him, even though I haven't really been paying much attention to what he's been saying.

"Really? So what did I just tell you?"

That smile tells me he knows bloody well I haven't got the faintest idea. He doesn't seem to mind though.

Yes, he is definitely the best friend I've ever had. Sometimes I even suspect he might be offering me something more, but perhaps it's just wishful thinking on my part and either way I would never dare to do anything that might spoil the friendship we do have.


Missing Him

It seems as if it has been so very long since I've seen those blue eyes look so alive. They are sparkling with emotion now, anger to be more precise. And they look to be very much in the here and now. They rarely seem to do any of that anymore.

Mostly now those beautiful eyes seem dull and dead. If pissing him off means I get to see some life in those eyes, I am more than willing to bear the consequences. I miss the way they used to look; filled with life and laughter, sometimes sparkling with mischief at other times filled with concern or perhaps fondness, but always so very alive.

I miss him. I miss my friend, but he hasn't been that person since the Xindi attack. Not since Lizzie died. It's not that I don't understand why he is like he is now, but understanding it doesn't mean I have to like it.

I try to help him, but there isn't much I can do. So I've settled for pissing him off now and then, just to see some life in those eyes of his once in a while. I suspect I might never see him smile at me again, so I've settled for what I can get, even if it happens to be anger.

It's pathetic really.

"You haven't been listening to me at all, have you?" The last half yelled, half growled question finally makes my attention snap back at what he's saying. What I should have been focusing on all along. I'm not even sure anymore what I did to make him angry this time.

"No sir, I haven't." I know it's certainly not an answer I should have given and I'm not even sure why I did.

For a moment I'm almost sure he's going to hit me, but then his eyes suddenly go dead again and I wish he had hit me; it would have been less painful than having to see those eyes like that.

Before the Xindi I had hopes that there might be something more between us. I would have been more than happy at being nothing more than his friend, even that was more than I had thought possible, but it seemed as if there was something more between us. Even the friendship seems to be gone know, I should have known better than to let him that close, but no matter how much it hurts now I really can't find it in me to regret any of it.

"Just fix it Lieutenant," he tells me and leaves, leaving me to try to remember exactly what he's referring to.


Leaving Him

"Look Mal, I…"

"Trip, don't…"

I cough. I can taste the blood in my mouth.

"You haven't called me that in a while." He sounds sad, regretful perhaps.

"You haven't exactly given me reason to," I answer, my voice barely above a whisper. It's the best I can do at the moment.

There isn't much to say after that, we both know how he's been acting lately and why.

"You should leave. Get yourself to safety."

"I won't leave you."

"So you'll stay and die with me Commander?" I ask as harshly as I can. I see him flinch.

"You ain't gonna die." The denial is more of an automatic response than anything based on any real fact. There is no way he is getting both of us to safety and without medical attention I'm as good as dead. He knows the facts as well as I do.

"If I had realized that me dying would get me my friend back I would have done this sooner," I tell him and for a brief moment I feel satisfaction at the hurt and guilt I can see my words caused. "But it does sort of negate the purpose I suppose. I hardly think I'll have much use of a friend once I'm dead. And you dying here makes all the time you've spent being a complete bastard quite useless."

"I'm sorry," he whispers. I know he is, but it's good to hear it as well. I forgave him a long time ago, I was just waiting for him to want to hear that. I suppose now is the time to tell him then.

So why can't I get the words out?

I don't want to leave him thinking I never forgave him.

I don't want to leave him.

I cough again. It's even more painful this time.

"I'll forgive you if you do one thing for me."

"Anything." I think that in that moment he truly does mean anything. I wonder what he'd do if I asked him to leave.

"Smile for me? I always loved your smile."

"Loved?" He asks, his voice wavering. He seems to be asking so much with that one word.

"Yes," I answer to all those things we never dared bring up before. It's strange how much easier dying makes some things, I never would have had the courage to admit to loving him before.

He does smile then, a far too sad smile, but it's more than I've seen in a long time. There are even tears in his eyes.

He never cried for Lizzie.

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