By Alia

Disclaimer: The Enterprise characters do not belong to me, they are only being borrowed for the purpose of this piece of fan fiction and will be returned, unscathed to their rightful owner as soon as I am finished with them.

Summary: Jon may feel he's losing it, but there are still some things he can rely on.

Warnings: M/M interactions.

Rated: G for nothing graphic.

Thanks: To Alcott for betaing this ficlet for me.

Authors notes: I have not seen a great deal of season three. I have read each episode synopsis however and the various spoilers provided my luckier list sibs.

Comments: Can be sent to aliajones1999@yahoo.com

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It has often been said that the first casualty of any war is innocence, and at times like this, when I actually let myself stop to think about everything that has happened since the Xindi attacked earth, I know there is no better way to describe the effect it has had on us all.

We have only been in the Expanse a few weeks but I can already feel the objectivity that most of us had managed to salvage after the attack, slowly being eroded. I keep telling myself it's to be expected, that we are no longer on a journey of exploration. Our mission now is to save Earth and to ensure the survival of the human race, and it's not something we can do with the same wide-eyed wonder we'd had two years ago.

I also know that we've all changed on some level; it's not just me. Still, as Captain I am well aware that I need to maintain at least a modicum of control. I can't just let myself be consumed as I was today by the relentless anger and frustration I feel, have felt on an ongoing basis since Earth was attacked.

Just looking at the Xindi database infuriates me. I can't concentrate, which only adds to my frustration. I know it's because I'm too wound up and that it would be wiser to leave it until I've at least had some rest, but I can't seem to make myself stop trying to understand the strange symbols, or to make sense of why they want to destroy us.

There is a part of me however that thinks they have already succeeded, that before this is over I will end up as just one more statistic of the Delphic Expanse.

A familiar chirping cuts through my tangled thoughts and for a moment I am torn between allowing the intrusion and persisting with the database. It's no use though. The chime sounds again before I can refocus and I snap at my caller to 'come in'.

I don't have many visitors to my cabin; fewer and fewer it seems lately. Trip drops by occasionally, T'pol when necessary, but as I turn from the screen the door slides open to reveal the very last person I had expected to see here tonight, I find myself dealing with a completely different array of emotions. Surprise, confusion and a strange kind of elation that I can't really explain, to name just a few.

Unlike myself, Malcolm has changed out of his uniform and is now dressed in what for him would be considered casual attire. He still looks decidedly rigid however, uneasy as we regard one another.

I feel somewhat uneasy myself and as I stand up to greet him and he steps inside I realise it's because of how I had behaved earlier, when I had threatened to kill Orgoth.

Malcolm had witnessed my assault on the alien. His reaction to my chosen method of interrogation had been an issue of contention between us throughout the incident, and would be I had suspected for some time to come. Knowing his contempt for the lack of control I had showed I hadn't expected to see him tonight or any time soon - I had thought he wouldn't want to see me, beyond what was unavoidable for at least the next few days, or until he came to terms yet again with the fact that I was probably never going to be the Captain he thought I should be.

"Can I help you?" I ask, using neither his name nor his rank. I do not understand why he is here, not after the way I acted, how I treated him, and I don't want to pre-empt anything.

The door slides closed with the sound of my voice and I see Malcolm relax as it does. I know it's wrong, unprofessional to care what he thinks of me but I find myself relaxing a little also, absurdly relieved at the slight but unmistakable changes in his body language. That he is clearly here to see me, Jon and not just his commanding officer.

Malcolm shakes his head as soon as the cabin is sealed shut, stepping into my personal space and reaching for the opening on my uniform a moment later. "I was thinking more along the lines of whether or not I could help you." He explains as he tugs gently on the collar of my overalls, moving it to one side to give himself access to the tensed shoulder muscles beneath it.

It still amazes me that for a man so concerned with regulations that very few of them seem to apply when he decides to take charge of a situation. My breath catches in my throat as Malcolm's warm fingers caress the area of skin he has exposed; slowly invoking feelings that both sadden and arouse me.

"I'm not very good company," I warn him. I don't know what else to say. What I should do. I am still dealing with the fact that he is here and he has not simply abandoned me - us, as I had feared he would.

A small, almost undetectable smile quirks the corner of Malcolm's mouth as both his hands move to work their usual magic. "Its okay love, you don't have to be." He tells me.

I know it's not right, that he just lets me take when I do not have anything to give back, but I don't have the energy to argue with him or the inclination to resist what I know he can give me, has given me since long before the Xindi attacked.

Surrender is not a word I ever plan to use, though over the course of the next few minutes that is exactly what I do. The zipper on my uniform is lowered and I am helped from the restricting fabric and then eased back into my chair. I still find it a little disconcerting to watch Malcolm loving me or to think about what he feels for me as love. I know that is what it is though and that I can rely on it, if nothing else, to endure.

The End

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