Splash Down - Part Four
“Travis, you gonna be okay?” Trip Tucker looked at the ensign in concern. Mayweather’s skin was almost gray.
“Yes, sir,” Travis turned away from doing the pre-flight check to look at him. “I understand that you talked the Sub-Commander in to letting me come on this mission, sir. Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” Trip responded. “You got more right than most to be here. And you’re the best pilot we got. All I had to do was get the Sub-Commander to see the logic of the situation.”
Had circumstances been less dire, Travis probably would have smiled at the thought of the emotional engineer being able to out-reason a Vulcan. As it was, all he did was incline his head a little in acknowledgement of Tucker’s statement.
Trip sighed. Travis had done a lot of maturing over the last couple of days. Not that he hadn’t been a fine Starfleet officer before, just a little green in the life experience area. Trip tended to treat Travis like a younger brother and it was hard to watch him struggle to deal with having both his lover and his captain missing. There was nothing he could do for Mayweather, except be there for him. Sometimes, life handed you a situation, and, one way or another, you dealt with it. Tucker and the other crew members would try to support Travis all they could, but ultimately, how the helmsman came to grips with the situation was utterly up to Travis.
“The weather pattern is in a state of flux,” T’Pol’s voice came over the shuttle’s com. “The storm is losing its cohesion. I suggest you make use of the time available.”
“We’re on our way,” Trip responded. “Okay, Travis, take her out. We’ll go right down inta Davy Jones’ locker if we have to.”
Mayweather’s response was to guide the shuttle out of Enterprise. “We’re coming, Ruth,” he whispered.
Tucker didn’t say anything, although he mutely mouthed the same words to Jonathan. With any luck, one or both of them might be alive and, somehow, be able to sense that help was on the way.
Jonathan awoke to the unusual sensation of being rocked. “Mmmmm…” he murmured, not quite ready to wake fully. When a burbled chuckle responded, he roused himself enough to lift his head and open his eyes.
Malc’m’s smiling face peered up at him through a thin curtain of water. Jonathan discovered he was laying facedown full upon the Sa’an, Malc’m’s buoyant body acting as a raft and keeping him afloat. Jonathan smiled back, dipping his face into the water to kiss the other man.
“Don’t you sleep?” Jonathan asked his lover after they both surfaced.
“Of course,” Malc’m responded easily. “But I had something better to do.”
“Oh, really?” The captain retorted. “What would that be?”
“Looking at you.” Malc’m slid his arms around Jonathan with a satisfied sigh. “I meant what I said; you are beautiful.”
Jonathan playfully splashed him. “We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.”
“How about you?” Malc’m asked. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, fine, thanks.” Jonathan looked down at Malc’m, embarrassed. “Sorry about scaring you before.”
Jonathan had never passed out during sex before. Of course, he’d never had underwater sex with an alien before, either. After losing consciousness during the most intense orgasm of his life, Jonathan had woken briefly in the cave, a very anxious Malc’m blinking down at him. He vaguely remembered mumbling something reassuring before falling asleep. At least, from the relaxed expression on Malc’m’s face, he assumed it was reassuring.
Malc’m pressed close, his tail tangling with Jonathan’s legs. Since it hindered the human’s water-treading activities, he took more of the other man’s weight, once again keeping him afloat.
“It’s all right, J’han Taan,” Malc’m assured him, then went on to ask, “Do humans always lose consciousness after mating?”
Jonathan blushed. “No. Only when it’s really, really good.”
“So it was, then?” Malc’m asked anxiously. “Good?”
The captain cupped Malc’m’s face with one hand. “Good doesn’t even come close. It was… incredible. *You’re* incredible.”
Malc’m pressed his face into Jonathan’s warm hand. “You’re quite amazing yourself, J’han Taan. Even if you don’t believe that you are beautiful.”
It was an odd but wonderful conversation to be having. Jonathan Archer couldn’t believe that he was floating in a cave on an alien planet, with his equally alien lover at his side. He was one of the first humans – if not *the* first human – to have made love with a member of another species. Not that he’d ever want that fact in any history book. Not because he was ashamed, but because the moment was too intimate to be shared.
The knowledge that he would soon be leaving this special man behind left his heart too full to speak. Jonathan brought his other hand up to bracket Malc’m’s face. Pulling the Sa’an to him, Archer kissed Malc’m deeply.
When they broke apart, breathless, Jonathan pressed his forehead to his lover’s. “Malc’m,” he whispered in contentment.
Malc’m bit his lip. “Now that we’ve mated for the first time, it is permissible for you to use a shortened version of my name.” He looked at Archer shyly. “If it pleases you, you may refer to me as Mal.”
“Of course,” Jonathan kissed him yet again. “Mal. And you should call me Jon.”
Archer felt his lover shift in response to the way their bodies slid against one another. Reaching one arm down into the water, his rubbed his fingers against Malc’m’s genital slit. Feeling the tip of the Sa’an’s penis protrude in response, Jonathan grinned mischievously at his lover. “The *first* time we mated, huh? I like how you worded that – because I certainly would like a repeat performance.”
Malc’m had closed his eyes in response to being stroked but opened them again when Archer finished speaking. “I would love nothing more, J’han Taa-.…” He stumbled over the nickname. “J’han. But I’m afraid I’m a little tender this morning….”
“Of course you are,” Jonathan finished for him. He didn’t doubt that his lover was sore; it been one hell of a ride. He stroked Malc’m’s emerging penis lovingly; his own hardening in response. He’d had to be talked into making love to Malc’m, but now that he had, he was eager to do so again. He avoided thinking that he soon would no longer have a chance to be with his Sa’an scout. “Which is why I think you should be inside of me this time.”
Malc’m moaned but the human didn’t know if were because of the sensations his touches were causing or if it was due to his suggestion. “Mal, would that be okay?”
“You, you would let me do that?” Malc’m stuttered.
Jonathan frowned, reminding himself that Malc’m came from an alien culture and that he shouldn’t take the other man’s hesitancy the wrong way. “In human relationships, it’s normal for sexual partners to take turns.”
Malc’m bit his lip, body instinctively humping into Jonathan’s firm caress. “You’re a Pi’mka, J’han. A leader of your people.”
“In Sa’an society,” Malc’m explained, “the dominate mate usually does the penetrating. You’re a Pi’mka, I’m not. It wouldn’t be proper.”
“Ah,” Jonathan exclaimed, as though that explained everything. “When I’m with you, I’m not Captain Jonathan Archer or a Pi’mka or any sort of leader. I’m just J’han and I want to be with you. Will you let me?”
There was nothing Malc’m to say to that plea except, “Yes.”
“Good.” Jonathan kissed him again. “Now, stay right there.”
Malc’m was left to watch while Jonathan swam to the cave ledge and pulled himself out of the water. The captain spent a moment or two rifling around in the salvaged boxes, finally lifting a small bottle triumphantly. Heading back to his lover, his erection made it difficult for Jonathan to walk and he conceded that, maybe, Malc’m was right. Perhaps there *was* a design flaw in the human male genital area. If so, though, he was willing to live with it, considering how well it functioned the rest of the time.
Eager to put that function to the test again, he simply jumped into the pool, feet first, instead of delicately sliding in. When he popped his head of the water and flung the wet hair out of his eyes, he found Malc’m looking at him with a glint in his eye.
“You seem most eager, J’han,” the Sa’an teased him.
Archer reached up and put his bottle on the very edge of the cave ledge. After both his hand were free, it only took one stroke for Jonathan to reach Malc’m’s side. “I guess it’s just that I know how limited our time is.” When Malc’m’s eyes darkened at the reminder, Jonathan pulled him into his arms, kissing him thoroughly.
Their first coming together had been fast and frenzied. It had been what they both needed at the time, but Jonathan wanted this coupling to be slower, more tender. Just one time, he wanted to make love to Malc’m, not only mate. With that in mind, he slowed the kiss down, nipping gently at Malc’m’s lips. When the other man opened more fully to him, Jonathan’s tongue quested inside, sliding and tickling against its counterpart. Before long, Malc’m’s hands were on Jonathan’s shoulders as the Sa’an steadied himself and pressed closer, giving himself readily over to their kisses.
Jonathan’s hands roamed freely. He stroked down Malc’m’s back, feeling the smooth skin become rougher just below the waist, showing where his tail started. He lingered when he felt his lover’s breath catch as he caressed the small of his back. He did it again, enjoying the way Malc’m shivered at the contact. “Like that, do you?”
“Mmmhmmm,” Malc’m murmured. His hands trailed down Archer’s shoulders to his chest, fingers tangling in the hair he found adorning the smooth skin. “You’re furry here; Sa’an are smooth. I like it.”
“So, I noticed,” Jonathan said, referring to the way Malc’m was petting him. He brought his hands to the front of Malc’m, mirroring the Sa’an’s exploration of his own body. “Some human males find this to be a particularly sensitive spot.” Carefully gauging Malc’m’s response, he gently pinched his lover’s nipples, smiling when Malc’m’s eyes flew wide open in response.
“Are you one of those males?” Malc’m asked after a few moments. He didn’t wait for an answer, instead grazing his thumb over the nearest of Archer’s erect nipples. When he felt Archer’s hips move in response, he made a guess based on their previous activities. He took the small nub in his teeth, worrying at it gently.
“You are entirely too good at that,” Jonathan moaned. He pulled Malc’m up, holding him close. “I meant what I said, I’d like you inside of me.”
Malc’m kissed Jonathan’s shoulder, unable to deny this man anything. “How?”
Archer smiled at him. Taking Malc’m’s hand, he kissed the fingers in a gesture similar to what Malc’m had used with him, then guided the Sa’an’s hand to his backside. Encouraging Malc’m’s fingers to stroke his crack, he rubbed himself against his lover. “When two human males come together, they join here.”
His lover looked concerned. “Will I fit? I refuse to do anything that might hurt you.”
Jonathan had been prepared for that reaction. “That’s what this is for.” They were close enough to the ledge that he was able to reach the bottle he’d placed there. “This UV protective lotion is slick – it will help lubricate the way.”
“If you’re sure,” Malc’m said dubiously, taking the bottle from Jonathan and looking at it closely.
“I’m sure,” Jonathan said and then kissed his lover, hard. When their lips parted, he played his trump card. “Please, Mal.”
Painfully hard himself, Malc’m nodded. “Of course, love.”
At that, Jonathan turned around and braced himself against the rock, the lower half of his body under the water as he presented his backside to his lover. Almost immediately, he felt Malc’m brush up behind him, the Sa’an’s rigid cock sliding against his hip. “First, you’ll have to use your fingers and make sure I’m loose enough.”
It felt strange to Jonathan, to be calling out directions. From Malc’m’s reaction, though, it was clear he’d never topped another male and he wanted to make sure it was good for both of them. A tentative finger broached Jonathan’s opening and he was convinced he was right; Malc’m’s was not the touch of an experienced man.
“Feels good,” Jonathan murmured, lifting his hips to encourage his partner.
Malc’m added another finger and eventually a third. When Jonathan looked back over his shoulder, the Sa’an had a tiny frown of concentration on his face as he worked his fingers in and out of his lover. The sight endeared Malc’m to him even more and Jonathan knew he had to have him inside him as soon as possible.
“That’s enough, Mal,” he gritted out past his desire. “I’m ready. Please.”
Malc’m was beyond words. He floated his body as close to Jonathan as he could, wrapping his arms around his lover’s torso. He lined his penis up to his lover’s opening and, with infinite care, pushed himself inside.
“God, that’s good,” Jonathan said, arching his back as he felt Malc’m breaching his body. Turning his head awkwardly, he managed to kiss the Sa’an. “Don’t stop.”
“J’han…” Malc’m whispered. “I’ve never felt such heat before.”
“It gets even better, love,” Jonathan encouraged him, body burning in a most delicious way. Malc’m wasn’t a large man but his cock felt hard and smooth inside him. “Start to move and you’ll see what I mean.”
Being a Sa’an, Malc’m was used to using his tail to move himself and this intimate act with Jonathan was no different. He gently swished his tail back and forth to create the momentum for his pelvic thrusts, both men crying out softly at the sensation.
Unlike their first coupling, this one was slow. Malc’m kept a gentle pace, reveling in the way Jonathan’s body clutched to his as he withdrew and then cleaved to him as he thrust back inside. Like the tide, they ebbed and flowed together and it was almost an anticlimax when their bodies reached the pinnacle.
Jonathan’s muscles began to tighten and he clenched his ass cheeks as he felt his orgasm wash through him almost gently. Malc’m followed him, calling out Jonathan’s name as he released himself inside Jonathan’s body, finally collapsing across the human’s back. Jonathan gladly took his weight, reaching around and grabbing his lover’s hands and twining their fingers together.
The couple stayed that way until Tc’hla, whose joy in life seemed to be interrupting them, emerged in the pool. She made whumping noises at Malc’m, although it was hard to tell if it was displeasure in what he was doing or if she were simply trying to get his attention.
“I’m sorry, J’han,” Malc’m said with a sigh. Pressing a last kiss to the spot in between the human’s shoulder blades, he slide off his lover, closing his eyes in disappointment as he felt himself slip out of Jonathan’s body.
Jonathan grabbed him before he could drift away. He kissed the other man, then nuzzled behind his ear as he offered reassurance. “It’s all right, I understand.”
Resolutely, Archer let Malc’m go, watching the Sa’an approach Tc’hla. She dropped a piece of carved bone into Malc’m’s hand.
“Mal?” Jonathan asked when his lover didn’t say anything. Malc’m was just turning the small token over and over again in his hands.
Malc’m sighed, finally lifting his head to look at Jonathan. “P’ul and Nnau, the other scouts, they’ve sent word through Tc’hla.” His voice sounded thin. “The storm has broken.”
The storm had broken. Jonathan could leave. It was what he wanted.
“It was kind of them to let us know,” Jonathan said noncommittally.
Malc’m snorted. “Kindness had nothing to do with it, J’han,” he explained bitterly. “They just want you off Water as soon as possible.”
Jonathan didn’t know what to say to that statement but there was no way he could hear that tone in Malc’m’s voice and not react. Moving through the water, he came up behind Malc’m and rubbed his lover’s stiff back. For once, Tc’hla didn’t protest the human’s proximity. Malc’m leaned back into the caress, sighing deeply as he relaxed into the inevitable.
“We can’t linger over our goodbyes, J’han,” he said quietly, not turning to look at his mate. “They’ll be watching. Any delays will be… frowned upon.”
Jonathan turned Malc’m in the water so that the scout was facing him. “I wish….”
Malc’m sighed tightly. “As do I, but the currents flow where they will, not where we would have them.”
“No regrets?” Archer asked, stroking the side of Malc’m’s face. “Maybe we shouldn’t have….”
“Don’t say that!” Malc’m turned his face to kiss Jonathan’s palm, mitigating the sharpness of his words. “I’m glad for what we did,” he said fiercely, but then his face softened. “I shall miss you to the end of my days but it would have been worse to have never known your touch.”
“Cruel,” Jonathan said, using Malc’m’s word from earlier.
“Yes.” The Sa’an’s response was a broken whisper.
Jonathan bent and kissed Malc’m gently. Malc’m leaned in to it and the kiss deepened, heavy with loss. The tender moment would have lasted longer but Tc’hla broke the lovers apart, bumping in to Malc’m and whumping nervously.
He couldn’t help it; despite the anguish at the coming parting, Jonathan had to laugh. “Good ol’ Tc’hla, keeping us honest.”
“I never thought I would say this,” Malc’m said dryly, “but she does her duty rather too well.”
Jonathan bumped for foreheads with Malc’m briefly and then, while he still had the willpower, turned away from his lover. He moved slowly at first as he swam to the ledge and pulled himself out. Every meter he put between them made it a little bit easier and by the time he began to don his uniform, Archer was moving normally.
Malc’m floated over to the cave ledge and rested his arms on it, head pillowed on them as he watched pensively. His thirsty eyes drank in every movement his mate made, storing them up to savor later. He resented every layer that Jonathan put on his body, the protective coverings masking the human’s glorious body. Each item was a barrier, another layer that separated him from his mate just that much more.
Jonathan wrestled himself into the bulky EVA suit. He took a moment to download the UT data into the even smaller version that was part of his protective gear. He wouldn’t be able to use it until they reached the surface but he’d be damned if he’d spend his last moments with Malc’m unable to communicate. Finally, after removing the heavy boot weights that were needed when using the suit in gravity-less environments, he lumbered to the edge of the pool and awkwardly sat down. He dangled his feet in the water and put his headpiece on the floor next to him, not quite ready to put it on yet.
He looked at Malc’m quietly. The two had really been saying their goodbyes since Malc’m and Tc’hla had retrieved the EVA suit but there still seemed so much left to say.
“Mal,” Archer began, “I don’t know how to thank you for all you’ve done for me.”
“Don’t, J’han,” Malc’m interrupted. “Just you being here has meant more to me than you’ll ever know.”
“I’ll never forget you,” Jonathan promised in a husky voice.
“Nor I, you,” Malc’m reached behind his neck and removed his aki pendant, offering it to the captain. “Here, I want you to have this.”
Jonathan shook his head. “No, I couldn’t. You’ve given me so much already.”
“Think of it accepting it as your gift to me,” Malc’m insisted. “This way, a part of me will go with you. I’d like that, to think something of me is with you while you explore the sky.”
“I’d like that too,” Archer confessed. He reached for the pendant but was thwarted by the heavy gloves he wore.
“Here, love, let me,” Malc’m deftly swam between Jonathan’s knees. He gestured for Archer to bend down and, when the captain obeyed, he put the necklace around Jonathan’s neck. After arranging it so that it hung to his satisfaction, he patted it fondly. “There.”
Jonathan looked down at the pendant, so exactly the color of Malc’m’s eyes. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Malc’m said solemnly. “Be safe, J’han. Best of journeys to you and yours.”
Archer picked up the headpiece to his EVA suit. He didn’t dare bend to kiss Malc’m again. If he did, he didn’t think he would be able to stop. “Be safe yourself, Mal. Don’t swim deeper than Tc’hla can follow.”
Malc’m nodded, watching as Jonathan put on the last piece of his equipment. He held out his hand to the human, who gripped it as best he could, given the thick gloves.
Jonathan pushed off the ledge and entered the water, his unwieldy suit pulling him down. With Malc’m’s help, it was a controlled descent, but the captain began to worry about their plan. He could breathe well enough, thanks to the suit’s oxygen supply, but what would they do if he were too heavy to float?
They dropped through a rocky tunnel and out into open water. Jonathan had taken that route twice before; once when Malc’m rescued him and then again when they’d mated. On neither occasion, however, had Archer been in any position to appreciate the view. He’d noticed the water in the pool was somewhat luminescent but that illumination was nothing compared to a whole ocean full of it. The water was so clear and vibrant that it almost glowed, making it incredibly easy to see.
He’d also never had the opportunity to observe his lover in his true element. Had he thought Malc’m graceful as he moved through the tiny confinement of the cave? It was nothing to seeing his lover dance through the water that was his natural environment. Malc’m circled him, obviously keeping a sharp eye out for Jonathan’s safety. The Sa’an’s dark hair moved about him like a halo and the water polo player in Archer appreciated both the strength and promise of speed in his lithe tailed body.
Malc’m only let Jonathan drop a few feet outside the cave before towing him over to an outcrop. Archer could see that his cave was at the peak of an undersea mountain range. It went on below him for as far as Archer could see. Above him, featureless blue indicated that they were very deep in the water indeed. The captain shuddered to think what would have happened to him had Malc’m not rescued him. In Earth mythology, mermaids lured sailors to their deaths upon the rocks. He was lucky that *his* mermaid wasn’t a myth – and was inclined to save sailors instead of killing them.
With hand gestures that indicated he wanted Jonathan to stay put, Malc’m darted off into the blue. Tc’hla stayed behind; something that Archer guessed wasn’t her idea. The wpa’ne circled him swiftly, her stubby tail swishing in agitation.
It wasn’t too long before Malc’m came swimming back, an anxious frown on his face until he saw that Jonathan was right where he left him. He was towing what looked like balloons behind him. Since they didn’t move other than bobbing along behind the scout, Jonathan assumed the bulbous-shaped objects were plants of some sort. He didn’t have a clue as to their purpose, however, until Malc’m carefully tied them to the back of his suit. Immediately, Jonathan felt lighter. The plants were buoyant, it seemed, and would help with his assent to the surface.
Malc’m took Jonathan’s hands and pulled with determination. Archer tried to help as much as he could, but the EVA suit hampered him from making any helpful movement. Thanks to the buoyancy of the plants, they did appear to be rising at a rapid clip, making Jonathan glad that the suit took care of regulating the pressure of his body. Otherwise, he would have been in risk of getting the bends.
The plan was working – the EVA suit would get him to the surface. After what felt like days in that confining cave, Jonathan was finally on his way back to Enterprise.
Archer cursed that suit every centimeter of the way.
He hated the fact that it isolated him even as it protected him. With the suit on, he couldn’t feel the water, couldn’t feel Malc’m’s hand grasping his. The EVA suit kept him safe in a little mini-environment of his own, but also kept him from experiencing his lover’s world in any sort of meaningful way. It was torturous for a man who loved the ocean… and the alien who’d rescued him from it.
They rose through the water for longer than Jonathan would have thought possible and yet still the journey was over too soon. As the water around them grew brighter, he realized they were near the surface. Sure enough, it was only moments later that they emerged, popping up like two corks.
Jonathan grinned at Malc’m through the clear front of his helmet, reassured to get a smile back from the Sa’an, albeit a weak one. He looked up at the sky, noticing that it was gray – the omnipresent storms threatening to descend again. Realizing the danger if that were to happen, Jonathan used his chin to toggle the communicator switch inside the head piece. It wasn’t sophisticated enough to call Enterprise, but would at least be able to send out a homing signal. The other communication devices were located on the outer part of the suit; a practical enough arrangement in space but useless in the water.
Having done what he could to let his people know where he was, Jonathan turned back to Malc’m. The Sa’an left off watching the sky to look back at him, giving Jonathan a smile that was getting shakier by the moment. Archer pushed the button to retract the face plate on his helmet.
“We made it!” Jonathan yelled. After the near-silence of the cave and the complete silence of the journey to the surface, it seemed incredibly noisy.
“Yes,” Malc’m answered. “Did you contact your people?”
As if on cue, there was a squawk from inside his helmet. “Yes, I think so,” Jonathan said.
“Good,” the scout answered. “Tc’hla’s keeping watch, but it would be best to get you out of the water as soon as possible. We’re not the only life in the ocean to take advantage of a break in the storm.”
The water around Jonathan was unchanged, but with Malc’m’s pronouncement, suddenly seemed a lot less friendly.
“Will you be all right?” Jonathan asked, not just meaning safety from predators. He was worried that Malc’m might have some unpleasant repercussions for having helped him.
“I’ll be fine, J’han,” Malc’m reassured him. He let the waves push him closer to the human. “Promise me something.”
Jonathan didn’t have to think before responding. “Anything.”
Malc’m smiled at him sadly. “Find someone who will tell you that you’re beautiful often enough that you actually believe it.”
Archer opened his mouth to answer but was distracted by an incoming shuttle. The small craft buzzed close overhead before making a sharp turn and making its way back. The captain had turned his body to track its progress and turned around in excitement. The arrival of his crew had alleviated the pain of his imminent separation from Malc’m, helping him to forget it for just a moment.
He turned, wanting to share his joy with the man who’d made it possible, only to find that he was alone. Malc’m was gone. Jonathan twisted in the water as fast as his bulky suit would allow. All around him was endless waves and sky.
The few moments before the shuttle made its way back to him were undoubtedly the loneliest in Jonathan Archer’s life.
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