by Juli

September 2002

Jonathan Archer woke only when he felt a warm body start to climb into bed with him. "Malcolm?"

"Sorry, love," the other man responded. Having been unsuccessful in not disturbing his lover, Reed gave up stealth to quickly finish getting under the covers. "I was trying not to wake you. Phlox is right, you need some rest."

In the dimmed light of their quarters, Archer could only see the pale oval of Malcolm's face. He knew every nook and cranny of that beloved surface, however, and unerringly planted a sleepy kiss in the appropriate spot. Malcolm rubbed noses with him, then lay down beside the older man's sleep-warm body, his hair tickling Jonathan's chin as the armory officer settled with his head pillowed on Archer's chest. Both men let out exhausted but satisfied sighs at the exact same moment, causing them to laugh softly. Porthos, as exhausted as his master and his master's mate, slept right through Malcolm's entrance, their kiss, and the quiet chuckles.

Jonathan ran a hand down his lover's sleek flank, loving the feel of the firm muscles clothed by the velvet of Malcolm's skin. "Some captain I am, down here taking a nap while my officers are still working to fix the ship."

Reed summoned up enough energy to drag his arm out from underneath the covers and thump his mate on the chest. "Let's not go into that again. You made Trip rest. You made me rest. You even made T'Pol go to her quarters and take a break. Surely you deserve as much care. You're human, John. Don't let the Vulcan's convince you that's a bad thing to be. You have your limits."

"It just felt odd, to be here in bed while you and the others were working so hard...." Jonathan knew his lover was right. He'd made each of his officers and crew take breaks during their marathon repair sessions, but had neglected to do so himself. Phlox had eventually used his position as the ship's doctor to force the issue, much to Malcolm's relief. "What time is it? Now that I've had a little shut-eye, maybe I should get up and give them a hand...."

Reed, having conveniently thrown his shirt over the clock display, lifted himself on one arm and looked down at his lover. This close, Jonathan could see the sardonic look on the Englishman's face, despite the darkness of the room.

"That's right, you are the captain, aren't you? You have to personally oversee the repair of all the ship's systems." Malcolm tsked in displeasure. "I'm disappointed with you, Jonathan, you've been neglecting your duty."

Even though Archer knew the other man was being sarcastic, his sense of responsibility made it

impossible for him not to ask. "What do you mean?"

"Trip tells me that Chef's been complaining that his can opener is sticking but he hasn't had time to fix it. We can't have that, now, can we? Think of the ramifications to the crew's morale - UMPF!"

Jonathan had stopped the flow of gentle sarcasm the only way he knew how, by kissing his lover. When Reed's lips ceased moving and the lieutenant had melted into the kiss, Archer pulled back. "All right, I get the point. I'll stay here and rest."

"Wise decision," Malcolm said, burrowing more deeply into Jonathan's arms. It was well and good for Jonathan to be a dedicated captain, but not when he pushed himself beyond his limits, despite they're being a whole crew available to ease his burden. "Now go to sleep."

"Yes, sir. Right away, sir." Jonathan said, even as he settled more comfortably against his pillow, his lover a welcome warmth against his side.

Malcolm's response to the teasing was another thump to Archer's chest. "Don't be an ass. Go to sleep."

Archer smiled in the darkness, clearly hearing the love behind the pseudo-grumpy tone. Kissing the top of Reed's head, he sighed in contentment. It was his life's dream to be an interstellar explorer but, now that he'd accomplished that, he was thankful he had the man in his arms to ground him.

~the end~  

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