Discourse

By Alia - 20014

Disclaimer: These 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.

Summary: Not all communication is verbal.

Rated: for M/M content.

Warnings:  Angst (light)

Authors Notes: This is story four in my ‘Judgement’ series and picks up where ‘New ground’ finishes off. I have become quite fixated on the challenges I think Jonathan would face should he enter into a relationship and tried to work them into the story.  Weird point of view. Please keep in mind that it contains Australian spelling and is unbetaed. If you find a mistake, missing word, please feel free to point it out to me.

Comments: Are welcome and can be sent to aliajones1999@yahoo.com

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Malcolm can feel the moment everything changes. The cool and careful withdrawal of Jonathan’s hand as it loses contact with his hip and slips down his body to rest on the bed beside him. He knows it’s to be expected, that Jonathan may not be ready to deal with the lines they have crossed.

Despite environmental controls and regulated temperatures throughout the ship the air in the captain’s cabin becomes wafer-thin once more, only this time Malcolm swears it’s because the very walls are closing in around them, conspiring together to force the confrontation that neither wants, but cannot deny needs to occur.

Not surprisingly Jonathan’s eyes are closed again and Malcolm can see the tension his statement has caused; the marring of strong features, along with the effort his would be lover uses to moisten dry lips – to reply.

“Okay.”

The single word is strained, almost as if Jonathan isn’t sure how much talking about this will cost him and as the stakes are still unclear, he simply isn’t ready to risk speaking out of turn. Malcolm can sympathise. He is in the exact same position after all, completely at the other man’s mercy.

Time bends and stretches as each waits for the other to start. The beat of Malcolm’s heart counting off the seconds until the silence settling in the small space becomes too much and Jonathan rolls away, slinging an arm over his eyes.

“I don’t know what to say,” he confesses. “What you want...”

The remainder of what Jonathan was about to say fades away, but it doesn’t matter because Malcolm can hear the rest loud and clear. The unspoken ‘or if I can give it to you,’ words that will ultimately define what happens next between them. He glances away briefly, wishing this wasn’t so painful, that he could somehow make the impossible happen. Un-complicate their lives and create a scenario where only their needs mattered.

Malcolm isn’t one for wasting his time on daydreams however and if he was going to be honest with himself, he had always known that Jonathan’s position would influence the decisions he made; that he had little choice in the matter. Despite the difficulties they now faced he didn’t regret coming here, or making love with Jonathan. Far more than an unacknowledged fantasy made real or the scratching an itch, being with the captain had been a revelation unlike any he had experienced before. If he lived to be a hundred years old every future encounter would undoubtedly pale in comparison to what they had shared.

The lingering euphoria is proof enough and Malcolm moves again, twisting once more on the edge of the bed so that he isn’t forced to talk over his shoulder and so he could actually look at the man who had unwittingly stolen his heart. Jonathan’s uninhibited sprawl beside him is a welcome reminder of the level of ease already present between them and he reaches out to stroke down one of Jonathan’s long legs; somehow finding his own voice in the process.

“You must know I’m in love with you.”

It’s more an attempt to clarify than a question. Malcolm’s not even sure if it’s what he meant to say. He hadn’t planned on burdening Jonathan with the information, not straight away, but now that it was out it felt very much like the shifting of a great weight. That it was right for Jonathan to know even if Malcolm wasn’t sure it was what he wanted to hear.

Behind the relative protection of his arm Jonathan’s eyes water, the sting too painful to ignore or be any way lessened by the pressure he applies. He knows his reaction is in part due to what he has endured over the last few weeks. His emotions are still raw, too close to the surface to be dealing with anything as important as this, but there doesn’t appear to be any way to avoid it.

When Malcolm said he wanted to talk he had agreed, at least in theory that there should be some recognition of what had occurred between them. Naively he had thought that at worst he would be told that this had been a mistake and couldn’t happen again or at best, perhaps Malcolm would want to take him up on more shared meals in the captain’s mess or even express an interest in returning sometime. Not necessarily happy about it Jonathan had tried to prepare himself for all possibilities. This however, was not at all what he’d imagined.

He can feel the lump forming in his throat; the swell of emotion threatening to overtake him. Jonathan knows he needs to say something. He can’t leave Malcolm’s valour unacknowledged indefinitely, not after everything they have shared, but it’s difficult to reconcile what he has heard with the feelings waring inside of him. Up until a couple of hours ago he had honestly believed Malcolm’s impenetrable facade was just that, but hearing him admit the true depth of his feelings makes Jonathan realise just how much he had misjudged the situation, that Malcolm’s actions tonight couldn’t be attributed to anything else.

Jonathan isn’t used to being this wrong about a member of his crew or his own heart. It was hard to accept. Had he really been blind all this time? So caught up with his missions and his ship that he couldn’t see that Malcolm was in love with him? It doesn’t seem possible and yet he knows that is exactly what has happened.  Balling his fist doesn’t help, doesn’t take away the confusion or change the fact that Malcolm is still waiting. His chest is tight; his head filling with a dozen different thoughts and possibilities, his own feelings for Malcolm hopelessly tangled with responsibility and yet somehow Jonathan forces himself to unclench his hand and lower his arm.

“Yes,” he manages.

Malcolm’s touch is reassuring in ways Jonathan hadn’t considered before.  It’s a lover’s touch he realises. Something he has been sadly lacking for too long, but he knows he doesn’t want to lose again anytime soon. Malcolm smiles, a little uncomfortably Jonathan thinks, at his admission, the gentle stroking of his leg unabated, but it’s obvious that he is also waiting for Jonathan to say something else -- to return the sentiment. 

This would be the perfect time to tell his very brave armoury officer that while there were things he needed to work out, he cared about him more than he had words to express and had very much enjoyed what they had done together, but as the moments pass Jonathan is unable to articulate any of it and with no more forth coming Malcolm withdraws his hand. His disappointment as plain as the shadow that falls over his face as he stares down at the place where their joint release is still drying on the rumpled sheets of Jonathan’s bed.

“You never said anything,” he says.

Jonathan knows he needs to do better, but his mouth is dry and the lump in his throat seems caught somehow; choking off the things he wants to say but he knows he can’t. Not if he wants them both to remain on board Enterprise for the foreseeable future. Propping himself up on his elbows, he tries again, his voice pitched lower than before. “I guess I didn’t realise it until now.” 

Rounded shoulders straighten slightly as Malcolm looks up again, his expression apprehensive and just like Jonathan’s, his voice is little more than a whisper in the dark. “Does it bother you? The way I feel about you?”

Bothered, wouldn’t be the way Jonathan would describe how he feels about Malcolm’s declaration. Surprised, slightly overwhelmed and incredibly honoured would be closer terms, but he doesn’t say so. He shakes his head no instead.

Sitting up now he moves to recover the distance between them. Malcolm is still perched on the side of the bed. His knees bent to make room in the limited space so it doesn’t take a great deal of effort before contact is made. Jonathan can hear the slight intake of breath as he slides a tentative hand along the inside of Malcolm’s thigh and moves further into the other man’s personal space; a gesture he hopes is clear enough in its intent to relay his wish to keep the conversation going even though words continue to fail him. He stops just short of Malcolm’s groin, fingers splaying to take a firmer hold, his head tilted to one side, eyes searching for signs of acceptance. Thankfully Malcolm seems to understand. His expression is still somewhat guarded, though hopes blooms as they regard one another and after a moment he leans in to reclaim Jonathan’s mouth.

The angle isn’t ideal, but together they make it work. Arms reach to embrace and legs untangle to provide support as both men rise to their knee in the expanse currently holding them apart from the world around them.  Malcolm takes the lead unchallenged, once again guiding Jonathan to his satisfaction. Jonathan happier than he ever imagined as he surrenders, unashamed under the sensual assault as each pour everything still unsaid into the kiss.  Hopes without promises, trust without question. Time without meaning. Love without rank or responsibility. It’s enough. All that they need for the time being. 

Jonathan is panting when Malcolm finally releases him. “I used to be better at this,” he offers, his forehead resting against Malcolm’s as he endeavours to catch his breath.

“Kissing?” This added as Malcolm pushes away to run appreciative hands over Jonathan’s shoulders and down his arms; far from serious and thoroughly heartened to see the smile forming on Jonathan’s pleasantly swollen lips.

For the first time in longer than either can remember Jonathan laughs. “Talking about my feelings,” he returns. “Because you Mister Reed seem to have a way of making me forget how.”

Malcolm smiles, not at all apologetic, his heart filling with unabashed pride for the man he draws back into his arms and holds against him. He knows there are things Jonathan can’t say. That it would be unfair to force him to act in a way contrary to his position. They are both aware of what Starfleet does and does not allow in regards to relationships between ranks and Malcolm isn’t so naïve to think that the rules could be changed just for the two of them. He loved Jonathan for many reasons; his commitment to his crew and to Starfleet amongst them.

“I know this won’t be easy,” he tells him, “that you can’t promise me anything, but if there’s a chance we can make this work, I want to try.”

Long moments of silence follow. Not because the statement requires consideration or discussion, but because Malcolm knows Jonathan is searching for a way to respond and remain true to his command. They don’t need words. Malcolm knows that now and when strong arms tighten around his back and warm lips are pressed to his bare shoulder, it’s enough.

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