Labour of Love.

By Alia & Mareel

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount and to one another.

Rating: PG

Thanks: Thank you to Mareel for agreeing to share this adventure with me. And (from Mareel) my thanks to Alia for inviting me to write with her and for all of discussions we've enjoyed about the guys.

Author's Notes: This is in response to the live journal community 7_virtues challenge; 'Diligence' is prompt #7.

Comments: For Alia & for Mareel

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Malcolm

Growing up in my father's house I was constantly reminded of the facts of life according to Stuart Reed's rule. First and foremost was that half measures were completely unacceptable. It was a one hundred percent or nothing. Commitment to work and study was more important then friends or loved ones. Duty came before anything else.

Thankfully Jonathan seems to understand how difficult it has been for me to move out from under my father's shadow -- how my upbringing has and will most likely continue to influence every aspect of my life to some degree.

I guess our early relationship is a perfect example of that.

I know Jonathan loves me for who I am even though it took a long time for me to accept it. I also know it was hard on him when we first became involved. I was taught not to fraternise with my superiors, and when I initially realised I was attracted to him and the feeling was more than mutual I tried everything I could think of to push him away.

It was a battle I was never going to win of course, but I didn't know that back then and I had to try. I had my family's reputation to think of and my father's voice resonating in the back of my mind every time Jonathan and I were alone together. My first year on board Enterprise was awkward and bloody uncomfortable as the tension between Jonathan and I grew stronger with each passing day, making it impossible for me to let my guard down for even a moment. Not that it stopped Jonathan from trying to break through the wall of professionalism and protocol I constructed around myself. He may have thought I was playing hard to get but it was self preservation that forced me to spend every waking minute working, perfecting my skills, eating when necessary and only sleeping when I could no longer stay awake.

None of it made any difference though and in the end it was Jonathan's own dedication to duty that changed my mind and gave me the courage to tell him how I felt about him.

During an away mission just into our second year the captain and I were captured by a pre-warp society, faced with execution by hanging Jonathan had pleaded ardently for me to be spared. A rescue party arrived just in to time to save us both, but by then it was too late. I had already seen the man he was, willing as I had always been taught to sacrifice everything for the mission. The fact that he had been willing to forfeit his own life to save the aliens from contamination had finally broken my resolve and when we were both back on board Enterprise I took my completed report to his quarters and offered what I knew we both wanted.

Jonathan's reaction filled me with confidence. In spite of my lack of finesse he welcomed me into his arms and his bed, enabling me to finally let go of the restrictions imposed by our ranks.

I wish I could say that our first time was perfect; everything I had imagined during the very few times I had allowed myself to fantasise about my very handsome captain, unfortunately it was far from it. Although I had had a number of successful sexual liaisons in the past I have never had a lover. Not in the true sense of the word anyway. Certainly I knew the mechanics of the act, how to give and receive pleasure but I didn't know how to love or how to marry the feelings I had for him with the necessary actions, no matter how much I wanted to.

Any hope we had for a compatible future could have ended then and there. Whispered apologies and rash statements of it all being a terrible mistake were gently brushed aside though as Jonathan made it very clear that he wasn't interested in giving up on me, on us. For my own part, while I was confused I couldn't have gone back to pretending I hadn't had sex with my commanding officer, or wasn't feeling what I could only guess was love for the first time in my adult life even if I had wanted to. I might have had difficulty letting go I what I had always known, but if nothing else I knew I wanted to learn.

It wasn't easy for either of us.

There were times over the following weeks when I cursed my father for the emotional limitations he had forced upon me. Times when I would given anything to be able to tell Jonathan what I was feeling, that I loved having him inside of me, that I wanted nothing more than to give him the same pleasure that he gave me. But there were other times when I was very grateful for sense of diligence my father had inadvertently instilled in me and the faith that I knew Jonathan held for our future.

Eventually I learned to trust my own instincts as well as Jonathan's and very slowly I found ways of expressing my needs and desires. Making love with him became as important to me as everything else we did together. It wasn't just about the joining of bodies or even the release, it was about the marrying together of hearts and souls, the needs and passion we inspired and shared with each other. It also about making one another happy and being happy I have discovered is just much a duty in life as any other.

Jonathan

It's late, but lying here tonight with Malcolm asleep in my arms, his head pillowed on my chest, I don't want to fall asleep yet. I just want to hold onto the moment as tightly as I'm holding him.

Tonight was different for us; in some subtle way, everything seemed to come together. In the weeks since he first came to my quarters with a report in his hands and his heart in his eyes, I've hoped for the time when we both would be able to express everything we feel for each other. Since that first time he kissed me, with a shy determination to finally push past the barriers he'd so carefully maintained, I've known much of what he couldn't find words to tell me. But I also knew that he'd have to find his own way to those words, and I didn't realize until he whispered them to me tonight how much I'd needed to hear him tell me that he loves me.

I'm a man of words -- too many words sometimes, or so I've been told on occasion - but as Hoshi once reminded me, not all language is spoken. I was afraid of overwhelming Malcolm with my own words, but from the moment of his first kiss I wanted him to have no doubt of my love for him, ever, regardless of how it was expressed.

He was upset that first night as we lay together on my bed, wrapped up in what should have been purely afterglow. It made me worry that I'd pushed too far too fast, that maybe we should have taken it slower. But I'd needed him so much, had dreamed so often of holding him, kissing him, making love to him. And he'd wanted me as well, though he thought he hadn't conveyed his feelings adequately.

Malcolm thought he'd disappointed me, and for my part, I was afraid I wasn't all he hoped I would be as a partner. I wanted to reassure him that he was all I wanted… and that he didn't have to meet any goals or expectations… just to love me in whatever ways felt right to him. But I don't know that he had ever been with someone who had really loved him. He wasn't inexperienced, but I know too well from my own past how different it is when your partner means so much to you. You want so much more than a one-night stand and don't want to mess it up, but you do want everything to be as perfect as you've dreamed it.

For Malcolm, I know there was even more involved than all that. We had just done something that went against everything he'd been brought up to believe was appropriate. That he had been determined to do it anyway, to initiate a relationship with a man who was also his captain, spoke volumes of how much I meant to him. I couldn't let him doubt himself. He'd pushed past so much to get that far, I knew we could find the rest of the way together. Maybe its part of his upbringing, but he never gives up on anything important so there was no way I'd let him give up on us.

But he was still afraid he wasn't good enough somehow, and that I would push him away for all of those perceived inadequacies. He needn't have had any doubts or fears about that. I've loved and wanted and needed him for so long now, and I've always needed to push just hard enough at his barriers for him to know I wanted more in our relationship.

As I hold him tonight, I wonder if he ever dreamed of me… and what his dreams were like. My own dreams of Malcolm were frequent and still vivid in memory. Sometimes they were incredibly erotic… in other dreams, we simply were together, living, loving.

I remember one of them so clearly, the one that brought tears to my eyes when I woke from it because he wasn't really there with me. In that dream, our only touches had been of our entwined fingers, which had somehow been a more intimate moment than we could have shared in any other way. Because he loved me, and had told me so, in so many ways.

Being together, actually holding him, feeling his body tremble at my touch, and shivering as he returns the touch with his own hands or lips… all that has brought us so much closer than even my dreams had envisioned. He touches me more deeply than I have ever been touched… with his lovemaking, with the look in his eyes when I lose myself in them, and tonight… and with his whispered words of love that touched my heart.

I turn my head enough to kiss his hair before I finally let my eyes drift closed. I don't need dreams of him, I'm holding all I need right here.

The end

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