By Alia - 2009
characters do not belong to me. Sadly Jon and Malcolm are the property of Paramount. I am just
playing with them, and request you keep in mind that no disrespect or
infringement to copyright is intended.
Jonathan Archer has survived the Expanse, but what comes next?
for adult M/M content.
Author's Notes: This
is a story started out as a brief synopsis for a title challenge. It is not
exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the synopsis, but hopefully it will hit
the right chord with anyone not completely happy with the season 4 episode of
Home. Dedicated to Mareel for
providing me with the title, and the inspiration to continue with these
always welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
None of it feels real. Not
the masses that welcome our return or the twenty-seven coffins draped in
Starfleet colours. Yet, in the back of my mind I know I am not dreaming any of
this. The raised voices and the solidness of each casket beneath my fingertips
confirm their existence -- the reality of it all.
They call us heroes, saviours
of earth, but I cannot bring myself to believe any of it. Neither my conscience, nor my memories of those we have lost along
the way will allow it.
I don’t dare let myself
sleep. My apartment, long abandoned for my captain’s cabin feels more like a
prison cell than the home it once was, even Porthos seems to think so. Crowds
of reporters have set up camp outside our small block and if their behaviour
upon our arrival here is anything to judge by, they have no intention of
leaving until they get their story. I can’t talk to them though, not yet. Maybe
when our return sinks in and I have had some time to reconcile the emptiness I
feel, maybe then I will have something to say to them.
Morning comes and I am forced
to step outside. I barely escape the barrage of questions before my temper flares. I am not so lucky when I face the Vulcan
ambassador however, and even though I would prefer to stay and deal with his
accusations, Forrest sends me away.
I head for the mountains, as
far from civilisation as I can go on short notice, and attempt to submerge
myself in the challenge of climbing, pitting myself, body and soul against the
elements as I had in my youth.
I do not anticipate company,
but I cannot bring myself to engage long enough with my uninvited guest to send
For two days I push myself to
the limit of my endurance and finally I sleep. My dreams, when they come to me
are all nightmares and nothing about them or the effect they have on me has
changed since our return to earth. I wake up screaming, fighting for my life
against a reptilian monster whose only goal it seems is my death and demise of
A strong hand settles on my
shoulder as images of my imminent annihilation continue to cloud and control my
consciousness. I swing without thinking, my fist connecting with not the scaled
exterior of one of the reptilian monsters or even the smooth almost moist
armour of the insectoids, but with a decidedly human
I would not have believed my
companion capable of over-powering me given the differences in our sizes and
the fury driving me, but some how he manages to force me back and down against
the rocky ground of our campsite. Physically restrained, I find myself pinned
between the unrelenting terrain of the mountain side and my very determined
Our eyes meet with the
assistance of the dying fire light and as if a dark shadow has been lifted I
can see Malcolm’s bruised and bleeding profile staring back at me, his face
contorted between wary concern and a look of longing I do not understand.
“You were dreaming,” he
informs me through ragged snatches for breath. “I tried to wake you up.”
I give a slow nod, knowing
what I was being told was true, that I had just come out the other side of yet
another nightmarish encounter with the Xindi.
A part of me wondered if the
dreams would ever go away, if I would ever enjoy a normal night’s sleep again.
Right now it seemed unlikely that anything about my life could be considered
normal again, but I am too exhausted to think about it, or to care. The damage
to Malcolm’s lip and the look of concern and confusion in his eyes is too much
to endure along with everything else and I turn my face away.
Scanning our campsite, I
search the shadows for any stragglers from my dream. There are none of course.
And other than the rapid beating of my own heart and Malcolm’s still some what
laboured breathing above me, all is quiet around us. Just the peace and
solitude I’d been looking for when I chose this place, I remind myself -- with
Now the remnants of my dream
have passed and my safety for the moment is assured I find myself caught
between feeling irritated and slightly embarrassed by Malcolm’s presence. He isn’t exactly resting any of his weight on
me but our position against the rocky face of the mountain is extremely
uncomfortable and growing more awkward by the moment.
I need some distance and I
needed it now.
Twisting my raised arms I try
to free myself from the man currently holding me captive. Instead of releasing
me however, I feel the grip around my wrists increase and his weight resettle
so that he is now straddling my hips, his rump resting across my crotch. The
night and all it’s now familiar horrors close in around me again and in a
moment of reignited, completely irrational fear of attack my irritation gives
way to panic.
“What are you doing,” I
demand. “Get off of me.” I fight the best I can but it is no use. No matter how
much I struggle the man above me has the advantage and it is only the utter
futility of my efforts that finally halts them.
you talk about it.”
Malcolm’s breath is hot
against the side of my face now, closer than before, his voice demanding in a way
I had not experienced during all the years he has served with me and I find
myself returning his gaze before I can think to stop myself.
“I can’t,” I tell him. For
the life of me I cannot explain why I am able to admit the truth to Malcolm
when I find it impossible to tell anyone else.
“You have to try,” he informs
There is no explanation given
for why I have to talk about my time
in the Expanse and I am in no mood to ask for one.
I flex my arms, unclenching
and re-clenching my fists, my patience growing thinner by the moment. I am too tired to deal with any of this,
Malcolm’s sudden need to act as counsellor included.
Moistening dry lips I set my
“Need I remind you lieutenant
that I am your superior officer, and you are out of line?”
The warning I give has no
visible impact. For all his apparent concern for me and his position under my
command Malcolm appears completely unmoved by anything I have said, or any
action I might take against him. Barely
a moment passes before he answers me.
“I am very aware of who you
are, Jonathan, and what I am doing.”
The use of my name opposed to
my rank surprises me at a time in my life when I had come to believe that nothing
would and for a moment or two I simply lie beneath my captor contemplating my
changing relationship with him.
In all the years I have known
him, Malcolm has always given me the impression that he likened breaches of
protocol with a fate worse than death. In fact there was an incident during our
second year out when he had proven exactly that. I have no idea why I would think
of our stint in mine field now, or recall the connection that had formed
between us during the days that surrounded it only to dissipate again, making me
think it had never existed in the first place.
I shake my head; trying without
any real success to dispel the unwanted memories of the awkward meals we’d
shared in the captain’s mess and my failed attempts to break through the barriers
of rank and impenetrable Reed tradition. We are not the same men anymore. Never
will be again, I remind myself. Too much has happened. Our days of innocent
exploration were long gone and nothing I had imagined or hoped for back then
could be revisited ever again.
Just thinking about the past
felt like the opening of another old wound -- the burying of yet another life
lost to the Xindi. The pain it awakens is
indescribable and for countless moments I can’t breath, can’t think beyond the
loss I feel on so many levels that I can’t even begin to name them all.
I have scarily allowed myself
to acknowledge my grief, but I know it is on a scale only comparable to my ever
present frustration and anger. The latter, I don’t doubt, is growing
increasingly more evident on my face as Malcolm and I continue to regard one
another. I don’t understand why his eyes seem to have a way of cutting me to
the core, why they have never seemed so blue, why he is here? None of it
matters though, I can’t let it.
Digging my heels into the
ground beneath me I flex my arms again, the tension in my body nearing breaking
point. The pain in my gut – in my heart, more than I can bear
As if sensing some impending and
unavoidable danger I note the changes occurring in Malcolm’s gaze as I struggle
against throwing him off and staying where I am, along with the instant he
loosens his grip and shifts his weight. It takes me even less time to realise
my opportunity and to take it. Thankfully, this time he makes no further
attempts to restrain me and I free myself without interference.
Navigating by feel alone I
crawl a short distance then slowly drag myself to my feet and stagger the rest
of way to the cliff face.
The mountain side drops away as
I come to stand on the edge, sand and small rocks falling the hundred or so
metres to cavern below. Leaning forward I wonder about their fate at the
bottom, and at a canopy of stars marking my own final resting place…
Somewhere behind me I hear my
name being called and I step back, my legs literally folding under me as I
crumple to the ground where I had once stood. Drawing my knees to my chest I wrap
my arms around them, realising as I rock myself back and forth that the fear clipping
Malcolm’s voice was more warranted than I wanted to admit, to him, myself or
anyone else right now.
It is hard to say how long it
is before I manage to accept what had almost happened and I drag myself back to
the here and now, though in truth, it can’t be more than a minute or so, if
that. Malcolm is standing beside me when I look up again, his eyes as haunted
and confused as I feel right now.
“You should move away from
the edge,” he says using a tone that leaves no room for augment, a hand already
extended to help me up.
I don’t know what to say, if
Malcolm knows what I had been thinking before he called me back or not. It
seems likely that he does, but is either unwilling or unable to discuss it at
Moments of indecision pass and
with no energy left to fight him I untangle my legs and reach for his
pro-offered hand. Nothing is said as Malcolm pulls me to my feet or as we take
our first tentative steps away from the ravine, our hands still clasped firmly together.
Within seconds it seems we
hear the mountain protesting our presence and the ground beneath our feet begins
to crumble, threatening to give way. I catch Malcolm’s eyes as the gravity of
the situation takes hold, noting the sudden fear and realisation that we needed
to get away from this place the instant I come to the same conclusion. For one
brief moment I contemplate the possibility of fate deciding my future after all,
but before I can extract myself from him, to let it all go, I feel myself
physically hauled to safety.
We land badly, my full body weight
pinning my companion to the uneven ground where we fall. He groans in protest, uttering a string of obscenities
that erases all traces of his British reserve in an instant. Still winded, I
roll us to the side, trying to catch my breath with very little success as nothing
I do seems to make any difference. Fury has replaced fear and Malcolm is clearly
unprepared to keep his opinions to himself any longer.
“Jesus Christ, Jonathan. Are
you trying to get us both killed?”
I shake my head. I may not be
overly concerned about my safety right now, but I have no intention of seeing
Malcolm, of all people, harmed. Despite not giving a damn about what happens to
me I have never stopped caring about him. Like everything else though, it has
been a waste.
I try to untangle myself from
him, to pull away and put some distance between us but he locks both legs
around my lower body, holding me in place. I struggle against the contact and
the unavoidable intimacy as he brings our hips together, his intention very clear
and then raises his hands to either side of my face, forcing me to look at him.
I don’t want to look though,
to see the disappointment or anything else that I know is there and I close my
“Stop it,” I tell him. “Please
let me go. I can’t.”
“No, and yes you can.”
Malcolm’s voice is gentle
again, though no less demanding than before, his breath warm against my face as
he pulls me closer.
I am not sure what any of
this means, why he is here, doing any of this when he had made it very clear he
had no interest in me beyond my role as his commanding officer, but something I
had thought died long ago slowly stirs inside of me and I find it impossible to
resist when he presses his lips to mine.
It has been a very long time
since anyone kissed me. Longer still since they have used anywhere near the
sincerity and determination that Malcolm draws on as he deepens the kiss and carefully
manoeuvres me on to my back.
For a moment or two I
concentrate on the sensations flowing through my body, the long dormant feelings
of need and desire that rise like absent friends as he sets about stealing my
breath and driving away any thoughts of calling a stop to this. If I didn’t know better I would think that he
had planned this because it feels as if every touch and gesture was designed to
set me free and it is only a matter of seconds before I find myself returning
the kiss with unprecedented enthusiasm and my hands travelling over Malcolm’s
muscular back and up to his shoulders.
I am not accustomed to taking
the submissive role and thankfully Malcolm seems to understand as I take
control of the situation and roll us both over again. Opening my eyes I get a
brief glimpse of the longing I had seen earlier, but had not understood – had in
fact resigned myself to the idea that I had been mistaken about the time we
spent together before the Expanse.
It seems impossible that I
could have been so wrong.
Malcolm seems a little
bewildered by my question. “Does it matter?” he returns, one strong hand reaching
up to stroke my cheek, loving me in a way I never thought he would. “Isn’t it enough that we are here now? Together. That you want this?”
I shake my head, wanting to
deny the truth, but failing miserably. I am hard for the first time in over a
year, though God only knows how that is possible. I am very familiar with self-service, or at
least I used to be, but I know that is not what Malcolm has in mind, or what I
really want. I still don’t understand, having sex won’t fix anything, or
suddenly make the differences in our ranks vanish, but my concerns are silenced
even before they can be voiced as he again takes possession of my mouth and I
find myself drowning in his touch, unwilling now to save myself.
With Malcolm’s help I manage
to get his pants open and underwear off, tossing both items out of the way as
he begins work on my own. It feels dream like to be touching him like this, his
skin almost hot under my hands, his breathing ragged as he arches against me,
begging me for more, for anything and everything I am willing to give.
“Whatever you want.” He tells
me when we finally free me from my own clothing and I resettle myself at his
side, immediately reaching for him again.
“We’ll work something out,” is
all I say.
I am very aware that Malcolm means
every word and that right now he would allow anything, never minding his own
comfort. I won’t risk hurting him though,
now or ever.
It is over too quickly for
both of us, and yet there are no words of complaint or disappointment. For
myself at least, I have no regrets about what we have shared and Malcolm seems
content for the moment to remain where he is, moulded to my chest while our
bodies continue to cool.
It feels strange to have him
so close, to feel his heart beating so strong and know that it’s not from fear
or anger. To know that he came to me, wanted me after everything we have been
through, after everything that has been lost in the last year seems like a gift
I never expected to receive, or felt I deserved.
I close my eyes and breathe
in the man in my arms. I have no words for this moment, for the gratitude I
feel, or for the days ahead I now know we will endure together. That somehow I
am still redeemable, even if only in Malcolm’s eyes.
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