By Alia & Mareel.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount and to one
Author's Notes: This is in response to the 7_virtues
challenge; ' Humility ', thank you to Mareel for the gift of patience
and allowing Malcolm to take as long as he needed.
Comments: For Alia & for Mareel
It's not easy being home.
Or perhaps I should say that it's not easy being on Earth again,
as I'm not sure it's really home right now. I know I wanted little
else on every day we spent out there in the Expanse, but as they say
'be careful what you wish for.'
Today was one of those days when I felt like nothing more than a
fraudulent hero, a symbol of things I'm not sure I can believe in
anymore, if I ever really could. I'm expected to be able to share
some kind of inspirational words with everyone from politicians to
schoolchildren. The people they should honor are those among my
officers and crew who survived the same things I did, with more grace
and less reward.
This trip has been especially rough. I met with grieving families
of people whose lives were cut short, either by the Xindi attack or,
worse yet, by our response to it… by my response to it. They
seem to be looking to me for some kind of validation of those deaths…
and with gratitude for the reassurance that they weren't pointless.
I hope they weren't, but it makes me more than uncomfortable to be
hailed as some kind of savior when, in reality, some of those deaths
were by my orders.
I try not to even think about those I can't meet. Degra's family
can't be the only Xindi grieving a loss of a much-loved lifemate or
parent… or child. One day, I'd like to know his children; in my
mind, they are the faces for all of the nameless ones we hated
And Starfleet wants to make me an admiral. I know it's meant as
an honor, a promotion; my father would be proud. Hell, Malcolm's
father might even be secretly proud, a little, even though it
is only Starfleet and not the Royal Navy. I wish I could be,
but the man they intend to honor doesn't exist anymore, if he ever
did. I lost part of him in the Expanse, bit by bit, as I made each
choice from a set of no-win options.
After a week of sleeping in a different lonely place every night,
I need this break, need to find my own way home again. My transport
shuttle, another Starfleet courtesy, is finally getting close to the
small wine-country town where I've asked Malcolm to join me for a
weekend away from it all. Nestled between vine-covered hillsides,
this is a place where I don't have to be the hero, or even the
captain. I don't have to be strong, or inspiring, or even in charge
of ordering dinner, unless I choose to be. Or unless Malcolm needs
me to be… for him, I would do or be anything he asks. I owe him so
I lost part of myself in the Expanse, but Malcolm is the reason I
survived it. He's the hero, the strong one who never lost sight of
who he was… or of what we are together. Right now I want nothing
more than to touch that certainty again, to wrap my arms around him
and feel his heartbeat against my chest. I want to make love with
him as well, and want to fall asleep and wake in his arms, but his
simple nearness is what I'm craving most.
I jump out of the shuttle as soon as it lands, grab my own bags,
and wave the pilot off. Calling Malcolm's name, I push the door
open and am met by a smile that lights the room.
"Malcolm, love… "
The rest of my words won't matter right now. He knows so well
what I need. He always has known, even when I didn't.
I thought I'd probably rush to gather him into my arms, and I did
let the duffels drop to the floor as soon as I stepped inside.
Instead I find myself just gazing at him, drinking him in… the love
and concern in his eyes, the quiet strength and stillness in the way
he stands waiting for me. And I'm almost overwhelmed by all of this…
the peaceful isolation of this place, the time away from
responsibilities… and especially by Malcolm's reassuring presence, by
my deep certainty that he will be willing to again help put me back
together when I feel broken in so many ways.
When I finally take the few steps to close the distance between
us, his arms draw me in and enfold me, holding me safe, sheltering.
My own arms find their way around his waist as I press my cheek
against his hair, breathing him in deeply.
I can't begin to express all of what I'm feeling, or all that I
need to convey to him about how much I love and need him… about how
at last I can let go and be only his Jonathan. In silence, I sink
to my knees near his feet, and reach up to take his hands between
mine, squeezing them tightly, hoping he will understand.
His eyes meet mine and time slows. The only words I find are very
"… home, love… am home now."
I barely have time to finish looking around the small villa
Jonathan has organized for us before I hear a shuttle land outside. I
know instinctively that it is him. After all we have been through
during our time in the Expanse I can feel his presence as innately
now as I can the beat of my own heart.
I take a deep breath, letting it out slowly, consciously calming
myself as I make my way back to the main room. I know this last week
especially has been difficult on Jonathan and that he has been
waiting for this time together since before we even returned to
What I don't know is how he has managed our time apart.
The messages I have received have provided me with brief details
about his movements, but there has been little else to tell me how he
has dealt with meeting the families and loved ones of those lost
during our mission. It can't have been easy for him - to come face to
face with the parents and partners of the men and women he'd been
responsible for, only to have to tell them he'd failed in his duty to
keep them safe.
I hear the shuttle taking off again outside and my heart swells of
its accord in my chest.
Despite Jonathan's reservations that his visits or any amount of
words could bring comfort to those whose loss could not be measured I
am very aware that his presence has the ability to heal the deepest
of wounds and give meaning to the most difficult situations.
For myself, this last week has felt like an eternity and all I
want now is to hold him in my arms and to tell him he is safe here
with me and that I will be whatever he needs for as long as our time
The sound of his voice and the look of relief on his face as the
door finally opens bring a smile to my lips and a familiar stirring
in my groin as I take in the sight of him.
After our week a part I half expect Jonathan to gather me in his
arms and to kiss me senseless, but for reasons I understand only too
well he simply drops the duffle he's been carrying and stands gazing
While it has been difficult for Jonathan to accept it, our time in
the Expanse has changed a great deal about him. Gone is the man who
would have taken this moment for granted, or not given a second
thought to the tranquility and beauty surrounding us, leaving in his
place is another man entirely, one who has experienced loss and the
threat of losing moments like this forever. Not that I am
complaining, it is just I need to remind myself that for Jonathan
this time alone is a chance for him to put aside the responsibilities
of captain Archer, the horror of the mission and concentrate on
re-finding himself - on us.
As always I am humbled by the way he looks at me and how he can
make me feel ten feet tall. A few steps forward brings us within arms
reach of each other and I open myself and draw him in, holding him
close and breathing in his scent as he presses a cheek against my
God, I want him so badly right now and while I can feel the
same need to reconnect radiating from Jonathan I know that he needs
so much then just being made love to. As if to confirm as much I note
him pull back after a moment or two and slide silently to his knees
in front of me.
Reaching up, Jonathan takes both of my hands in his own, his eyes
locking with mine as the world around us slows and vanishes, leaving
only the two of us. Squeezing my hands I watch the struggle for
words that aren't necessary, now or ever.
"Yes," I assure him. "You're home, love."
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