Title: The Hawks of Morning

Author: Mareel

Author's email: Mareel@earthlink.net

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


Archer's Enterprise

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity, Archer's Enterprise, Reed's Armory, Others welcome, please let me know.

Category: Slash (m/m)

Rating: PG-13

Status: Complete

Pairing: Archer/Reed

Series: Refuge

Sequel to: Memory and Promises

Number in series: 5

Next Story: Still Waiting

Spoilers: The Expanse, The Xindi, general season 3

Disclaimer: They all still belong to Paramount. But most days I care more about what happens to them.

Summary: Nightmares, role-reversals, and an old lullabye. Jon and Malcolm look at what they need from their relationship, and what they find in it.

Author's Notes: Another story in the Refuge series. This one is dedicated to KayJay and Linsey with my deepest thanks for so much inspiration. I began writing this pre-Expanse, but it wouldn't be finished now if it weren't for their treksoap Jon and Malcolm pointing the way.

*** when midnight comes…

"…Jon O'Dreams."

The words were murmured so softly that he wasn't sure he heard them correctly.


Jonathan rolled over on the rumpled bed, automatically reaching out for the man who had fallen asleep in his arms a few hours ago. His inner time-sense told him it was still early, maybe 0300 hours or thereabouts, so he wasn't sure why he had awakened. Their lovemaking had been intense, and he and Malcolm should both have slept soundly. But the bed next to him was empty now.

"I'm here, Jon, go back to sleep. I'm sorry to have disturbed you."

The voice was reassuring in its gentleness, but it seemed to be coming from a distance. Jon squinted in the near-darkness of his quarters, trying to locate Malcolm. He knew the tactical officer had much better night vision than his own had ever been; it was likely that Malcolm could see him perfectly well.

He disengaged his legs from the tangle of bedclothes, and sat up on the edge of the bunk. From there he could see the shadowy form of his lover silhouetted by faint light from the viewport. They were travelling through a fairly dense cluster of stars, and Malcolm was seated on the small couch by the viewport, his gaze turned outward. Jon pulled on a robe and joined him there.

"What's wrong, Malcolm? You weren't sleeping?" Jon wrapped an arm around the smaller man and pulled him closer.

"I woke up a little while ago and didn't want to disturb your sleep," Malcolm replied, taking Jon's free hand in his own, stroking it softly with his thumb. "I needed to use the lav, and the stars caught my eye as I passed the viewport. Stunning sector of space, don't you think?"

Jon nodded, still groggy with sleep. Malcolm continued, as though he expected no answer. "It reminded me of an old Irish song I learned as a child. There was a line that went 'the stars are flying; your candle's dying. Yield up the darkness to old John O'Dreams.' I started thinking about it and couldn't go back to sleep right away."

"That must be what I heard…I heard you murmur 'Jon' and thought you were talking to me." Archer turned the man in his arms so that he could see his face more clearly. He sensed that Malcolm had more on his mind than stargazing and an old lullabye.

"I'm sorry, Jon. I didn't realize I'd spoken the words aloud. I didn't mean to wake you."

"Malcolm, I don't know that I've ever heard the song you mentioned. Is there more of it? You know I like Irish poetry."

"Indeed. Your whole bloody bridge crew and probably half the rest of the ship's complement know you've occasionally had Yeats on the brain, love." The slight smile that had been playing across Malcolm's lips morphed into a smirk.

Jon blushed deeply at the reference to their experience on the rogue planet early in the mission, where his mental images of the "glimmering girl with apple blossom in her hair" had been sensed and adopted by the shapeshifting alien prey of the Eska hunting party.

"Malcolm, it wasn't the girl as a woman that attracted me. I think it was just the whole idea of chasing a dream."

Malcolm smiled up at him, this smile lighting his eyes. "I know, love. You've been known to chase a dream or two."

"And to catch one, occasionally," replied Jon, his voice growing husky as his arms tightened around Malcolm. "Now tell me more about this Jon O'Dreams. It sounds like he might be your equivalent of Yeats' glimmering girl."

"Perhaps…It's just something my grandmother used to sing when Maddy and I were young and went to stay with her in the summers. Those were the best days of my childhood; I always felt safe with her. The images from the song just stayed with me. John O'Dreams is like the sandman, bringing sleep and dreams. Not unlike you, love." Malcolm drew Jon's head down to claim his lips in an undemanding kiss.

"In other ways as well," he continued, dropping his head onto Archer's shoulder, and slipping his hand beneath the robe to caress the strong chest, absently raking his fingers through the dark hair.

"When I was trying to find the courage to acknowledge my attraction to you, I worried a great deal about how I could ever consider it appropriate to see my commanding officer as even a friend, let alone a partner. One night I was lying awake worrying about it…longing for you, actually…and bits of the song kept running through my head:

'Both man and master in the night are one All things are equal when the day is done…All find their comfort in old John O'Dreams.'

It didn't convince me at the time, but it helped me sleep." Malcolm's voice trailed off as if he were getting lost in his old doubts.

"Do you believe it now?" Jon asked, his level of concern rising. "You know I love you more than I can ever tell you." Jon still felt he needed to remind the younger man occasionally that their relationship was truly beyond rank, beyond responsibilities. Their private time together was precious to both of them, and he thought that Malcolm was close to accepting that ranks were irrelevant to their partnership.

Jonathan knew he'd had to learn the hard way that sometimes the responsibilities of the captain had to take precedence over friendship, or even over love. But he was also trying to learn how to ensure that the friend or the lover would know exactly whom they were dealing with on such occasions—the captain or the man. He'd nearly lost both Trip and Malcolm over the incident with the cogenitor.

No, that wasn't quite true—he'd nearly lost them because of his handling of the incident. That he still had both his friend and his partner by his side was due mainly to their tenacity and the depth of their feelings, not to his skill in handling the relationships. He was grateful every day for the love of the remarkable man in his arms, who could stand up to him, and stand by him even while emphatically disapproving of his actions.

But he also knew that incident would probably not be the last time he would ever have to act as captain in a way that would be at odds with his personal feelings toward Trip, or toward Malcolm, for that matter. But he had promised both of them, and himself, never to let Captain Archer have the last word…

A light touch on his cheek and Malcolm's quiet words broke into his thoughts.

"I know, love. I never doubt your love for me, or that our being together makes us both stronger, more able to face whatever we encounter. And I'm seldom troubled by the old nightmares when I sleep in your arms."

Returning to the words of the old lullabye, Malcolm's voice was soft and as close to musical as Jon had ever heard it…like the shadow of a song.

"' Sleep is a river…rolls on forever…and for your boatman, choose old John o' Dreams.'

Excellent advice, that. I propose we give it a try."

*** tomorrow's cares…

"Jon? You're exhausted. Come to bed?"

"In a minute, Malcolm. Let me just finish reviewing this report—Hoshi translated another segment of the Xindi database. Not starcharts this time, sounds like it's more cultural information…maybe…"

"Well, I'm not going to be able to keep my eyes open much longer, love. Wake me when you come to bed if I've drifted off."

"Yeah…okay. I will. You get some sleep."

What the hell is wrong with me? Did I just tell Malcolm to go to bed without me, and worse than that, tell him I'd wake him when I do bother to come to bed? The man barely gets any sleep anyway…damn it all.

I toss the data padd across the desk and start stripping off my uniform—both literally and figuratively, I hope. I can see Malcolm watching me in silence, the smallest trace of a smile quirking his lips. God, what it does to me to see that! That he still finds a smile for me after all the shit…

Sometimes I try to remember how we were before the Expanse. Before the world shifted and changed and we set out on this mission of…of what exactly? Protection? Vengeance? Retribution? Pre-emptive annihilation? Genocide? I don't know what the hell to call it anymore. Things seemed so much clearer when we were in Earth orbit, looking down at that gaping emptiness where life had been incinerated in a mindless flash…where Trip's sister died, to make it personal. Now, as the reality of the choices we may be faced with sinks in…

When Malcolm and I talk about strategic options—as captain and tactical officer—I'm just not sure what's right or wrong anymore. And Malcolm? He's completely professional during those discussions, if I can ignore the questions in his eyes. I know I have his loyalty as his captain, but I have as much need of his support for Jonathan. He's a compass of sorts for me. If I look, I can read in his face, or in his bearing, when I've started veering off-course.

And now I'm the one who's having nightmares.

I know Malcolm has wrestled with bad dreams and nightmares much of his life. When we were first together, he was so skittish, so adamant about never wanting to stay the night after we'd made love for hours. I thought at first it was because he was worried about getting back to his own quarters before morning shift change made it too hard to get from here to there without being noticed.

But one night he did fall asleep in my arms, and scared me half to death when he awoke an hour or so later, terrified and disoriented. I could understand the disorientation—he'd never slept in my cabin before, but the terror mystified me. Clearly it was a nightmare, but he seemed so resigned to it, telling me it was nothing unusual.

I wouldn't let him leave my bed that night, and he's been there ever since. He had a few more nightmares, but he was able to get past them to sleep again if I held him close for a little while. I would just stroke him softly—his face, shoulders, chest, belly—with no intent to arouse, just to comfort, and he would relax in my arms and sleep dreamlessly.

I never thought it would be me needing that comfort.

But he always offers it, no matter how bad his own day has been. And god help me, I always accept. I can barely remember what a full night's peaceful sleep really feels like. I know I'd have forgotten entirely if it weren't for Malcolm.

"Are you going to sleep in those boots?" His voice carries traces of both amusement and exasperation as it breaks through the tangle of thoughts that crowd my mind when I'm not focussed on a particular task.

"I can't believe you put up with me, Malcolm." I take his hand and hold it close to my heart for a moment as I sink onto the bed beside him. His other hand is on my face, drawing me close for a quiet kiss that offers anything, but asks little for himself. He doesn't argue with me, or try to explain anything; he simply holds me, his hands gently reminding me of his love.

I know there are times when I treat him badly, snapping at him on the bridge, ignoring his legitimate cautions. I can read the hurt in his eyes, in the set of his mouth. That beautiful mouth doesn't smile much these days, and I can't help but think that something precious has been lost…because of me…because of this damned mission. I try to tell myself that it's the captain, not the man, making those choices, hurting him with those words, but I'm not very damn convincing. Half the time, I'm not even sure there is any difference between the two anymore. Chalk up another loss.

But Malcolm must somehow see past all of that. He's always there for me. Schedules permitting, he's here, in our cabin, in our bed, offering whatever comfort I'll accept—his touch, his voice, his warmth, just his loving presence. It almost seems like he's doing the living for both of us, and I draw on his strength to get through the night and the next day…and the next. I don't know how he does it. Maybe it's the sheer force of his love.

But somehow he keeps the demons away from my dreams.

*** now as you sleep…

I'm holding him, watching as he finally sleeps, my back to the viewport this time…turned away from the deadly beauty that is the Delphic Expanse.

We're carrying a great deal of baggage with us into the Expanse—responsibility, anger, grief. I sometimes fear Trip will implode from the pressure of it; he's turned his focus so far inward. It worries Jon; I know he's trying to lend strength to his friend, but it's hard when he meets cold silence in eyes where there was once laughter and joy.

When he turns to me at night, too exhausted to do more than stroke my cheek and kiss me, I feel something I've seldom felt before—his need for me. I'm his refuge…a quiet place. My touch and voice somehow relax him. It's astonishing, really. When I take his hand and talk to him or read aloud softly, tension seeps from his shoulders and neck. His head falls onto my shoulder and sometimes he falls asleep like that, with his arm wound around my waist, his head slipping to my chest or my lap as he drifts off.

Tonight I cradle him close; wishing I could do more than simply love him. This whole experience, harrowing as it's been, has brought us closer than ever, in an odd sort of way. I always found myself drawn to his strength, always felt safe in his arms. Now he's drawing that strength from me, from our love. I know there are times when he feels as if he's pushing me away, and I don't deny to either of us that my feelings are bruised from time to time. But none of that changes anything about what is between us.

I watch him as he sleeps, and remember the lullabye we shared once, a lifetime ago now. One line holds special meaning for me, somehow speaking to what Jon did for me…for us. Now it's my turn to comfort…protect…defend. I find myself needing to do something more for him, offer some part of myself that I've never shared. So I softly sing the words this time…as I watch over his sleep.

'…The hawks of morning cannot harm you here…'

And they will not. I won't permit it.


the complete song:

John O' Dreams

When midnight comes, good people homeward tread
Seek now your blankets and your feather bed
Home is the rover, his journey's over
Yield up the nighttime to old John o' dreams

Across the hills the sun has gone astray
Tomorrow's cares are many dreams away
The stars are flying, your candle's dying
Yield up the darkness to old John o' dreams

Both man and master in the night are one
All things are equal when the day is done
The prince and plowman, the slave and freeman
All find their comfort with old John o' dreams

Now as you sleep the dreams come winging clear
The hawks of morning cannot harm you here
Sleep is a river; flows on forever
And for your boatman choose old John o' dreams

—Lyrics by Bill Caddick

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to the author.

Star Trek and Enterprise are copyrighted by Paramount. We don't own 'em—we just play with them. No money was made.
Please do not repost material without requesting permission directly from the author.
Archer's Enterprise is maintained by the Webmistress.