Warning: Slash, Smut

Written for: kayjayuu

Disclaimer: I don't own it, I make no money from it. Not written for profit, simply for pleasure.

Written as part of the Enterprise Ficathon. Thechallenge was for kayjayuu, who wanted either of the following stories:

Story 1 - Archer/Reed, angsty, a breakup because one or both don't think the relationship is proper, but then they realize they can't stay apart either. Happy ending, please, 'cause otherwise... why bother.
Story 2 - Archer fic, exploring family ties. Not necessarily shippy but if so, A/R please...we never really got that much on Jon's parents, let alone anyone else in the family.

My response: I tried hard to write a story for Kay just as she requested. But A/R are very, very difficult for me to write. I've done a couple of scenes in the past, based in challenges, but never an entire story.

I began and scrapped several approaches. In the end, instead of writing either story, I somehow wrote a story with a bit of both - a nod to Archer's background, A/R getting together...in a way...but not as I think Kay would prefer they get together. In exchange for not quite meeting her request, I've included some A/R smut. I'm sure it's tame by most standards, but I'm a wicked prude, and this is really the first time I've been so smutty.

As for happy endings? It's not unhappy - bittersweet, I think.

I hope that she likes this result.

x-x

Despite the long day, Malcolm found himself surprisingly energetic as he and Captain Archer left their meeting and stepped out into the bustling New York City streets. They'd been on Earth, in the city, for just the day, visiting with one of Starfleet's contractors. They'd been reviewing the proposed changes to the weapons systems for the hoped-for next generation of starship.

Although it was important work, Malcolm had found himself increasingly distracted as the day passed. It had been a long time since he'd set foot on Earth, and he'd been eager to get outside, feel the summer air on his face. And now that he was out in it, the humidity - he'd somehow forgotten about that - hit him immediately as they began to move on the crowded pavement.

Malcolm had been in New York once before, and now, walking alongside the captain, he was suddenly reminded of one of the many differences he'd noted between this and other cities - the place seemed to have a unique smell, especially in summer's heat - a mix of the exhaust from vehicles, rubbish, old milk and, incongruously, flowers. He smiled as Archer, popping a candy of some type into his mouth, began talking about the meeting they'd just left.

They strode past an old, brick building, well maintained, and Archer stopped just under its awning. "I used to date a girl who lived there," he said, staring up towards the top of the eight-storey building, pointing at a window in the corner.

"Hmm...," Malcolm said, half paying attention as he enjoyed the day around him - the sun warming him through his uniform, the scents in the air, the breeze ruffling his hair. He missed those things, being on a ship. Actually, he only missed those things once he was actually planet-side; whilst on Enterprise, he was usually too busy to remember...

"...A long time ago," Archer said from beside him, catching his attention. The captain was still looking up at the apartment window. "Lifetimes ago," he said, a hint of sadness in his tone. Archer shook his head, then turned to him, mischief in his eyes. "We're not going back to Enterprise until tomorrow morning. Do you have plans for the rest of the day?"

"No, sir," Malcolm replied.

"I have family near here, upstate a bit, and was planning to stop in. Would you be willing to join me?"

Travelling upstate to visit Archer's family? Malcolm wasn't sure that sounded like a promising evening.

At Malcolm's doubtful expression, Archer went on. "I can promise you pizza and beer, or barbecue, or Italian cookies...any of several uniquely American delights."

Malcolm still wasn't convinced. Apparently, it showed on his face, because Archer, with a slightly uncomfortable expression, said, "They're kind of distant relatives, who I haven't seen in a while. I'd like to visit, but it will be easier if I bring someone - otherwise, it might be kind of overwhelming."

At that, Malcolm finally smiled. "How can I refuse?"

"One favour, though?" Archer asked.

"Sir?"

"Drop the 'sir' for the rest of the day, will you?" He smiled at Malcolm. "'Jon' would be fine. I don't think I can handle you calling me 'sir' in front of my cousins."

"Or at the deli," Malcolm said, deadpan.

"Deli?" Archer asked.

"If you're schlepping me all over New York, I want deli," Malcolm replied in his best New York accent. "Jon," he added with a wry smile.

x-x

Malcolm sat across the small café table from the capt...er, right - make that "Jon", he thought, smiling at the man over his cappuccino. He inhaled deeply, enjoying its mellow scent.

As Jon had promised, they'd stopped at one of his hometown's Italian delis on their walk from the station, and had split one of the huge sandwiches that made New York deli such an experience. Now they were idling over cookies and coffee in the small, crowded café.

As Jon took a sip of his espresso, Malcolm took the opportunity to gaze out the nearby window at the passers-by. Jon's hometown was small by Malcolm's standards, nestled in some mountains...probably the Catskills, Malcolm thought, spying one hill looming over the low, brick buildings across the street. The place was certainly a lot smaller and more country-like than Manhattan had been, despite its proximity to the city.

As he stared out the window, sipping his coffee, he listened to the people around them, some at the tiny tables along the window where they were seated, others lined up at the nearby counter placing orders with the bustling deli workers. He could hear several languages spoken: English, of course, but also Spanish, and he thought...maybe Polish. Definitely some sort of Slavic language.

He placed his cup on the metal tabletop and looked at Jon. "Fairly cosmopolitan for such a rural area," he said.

Jon smiled. "Yeah, it's been like this forever." Jon glanced around him at the crowd. "At times like this, it could be today, could be a hundred years ago."

Malcolm heard a burst of Yiddish as the door opened, admitting a Hassidic couple in dark, heavy, old-fashioned clothing.

Jon looked from them, to him again. "Or two hundred," he whispered. Then, louder, he said, "I used to come back here for most summers...nice place to grow up, actually. Close enough to the city for all that, but far enough away to have a real childhood."

Malcolm smiled, and listened to the deli workers shout from behind the counter, their vowels so broadly rounded compared to his own - even compared to Jon's. And Jon pronounced his "Rs", unlike Malcolm, or even this lot.

"You don't have the accent," he said, raising an eyebrow in query. Jon gave him a puzzled expression, so Malcolm continued. "The deli workers, others here have a distinct accent, quite New York, but you don't."

Jon nodded. "I only lived here summers, grew up mostly around San Francisco." He took a sip from his drink.

"You don't sound Californian, either."

Jon looked thoughtful. "I was born near here, but I moved to Houston with my dad, then to San Francisco when he started really working on the engine, so it might be that. My accent probably changed over time, with all the moves." He smiled.

"My accent has changed since I've lived in the States, and on Enterprise."

"Really?"

Malcolm nodded. "Especially once I entered Starfleet. And I quickly realised that there are certain terms I couldn't use, as I wouldn't necessarily be understood."

"Such as?"

"Well, I don't say 'bollocks' quite as often as I used to," Malcolm said, blushing slightly.

Jon laughed. The clock on the wall gave a gentle chime, and Jon glanced in its direction. "Hey," he said. "We should get going. They're expecting us." He slid a compact box from his pocket, opened it and slipped something into his mouth. He seemed to savour the flavour, then glanced to Malcolm. "Want one?" he asked, holding the box in Malcolm's direction. "They're some mints I picked up on that last planet we'd visited."

Malcolm nodded, took one, and slid it into his mouth. He blinked in surprise: the flavours moved from cinnamon, or something quite like it, to something approaching anisette, and he could feel a gentle warmth on his tongue and his cheeks. "Nice," he said in surprise, and they stood to leave for the short walk to Jon's nephew's house.

x-x

Malcolm lay on his back on the narrow bed, staring at the ceiling of Jon's nephew's guest room. As the dawn light came through the blinds, he turned onto his side, pulling the blankets with him, and stared at Jon where he slept on the other side of the room.

The man snored. Was still snoring, actually, and it had caused Malcolm to sleep only fitfully throughout the night. He contemplated throwing his pillow at Jon, but instead rolled over again, now facing the wall, and pulled the covers up over his head.

Despite the lack of sleep, it had been a worthwhile trip. Last night, Jon's family had been surprisingly welcoming of a stranger in their midst, and he'd had an unexpectedly pleasant evening. He could understand how Jon might have felt overwhelmed - there had been so many people there: nephews, cousins, nieces. Malcolm smiled, closing his eyes. He remembered Jon's teenage cousin flirting with him last night, which led to his and Jon's pre-sleep conversation about relationships. Malcolm had found it odd to be discussing such personal matters with his commanding officer, but Jon's style was so casual and accepting. Being away from the ship, too, had made Malcolm feel freer, and he had found himself opening up a bit, talking about past girlfriends, and how he would like to settle down in some not-too-distant future.

He heard a muffled "Hrumph," then nothing. At last the snoring stops, he thought, snuggling deeper into his pillow. He sighed, allowing himself to drift.

"Morning, sunshine."

Light, blindingly bright; and Malcolm groaned, pulling the blankets up over his head.

"Malcolm?" The captain's voice, from quite nearby. But it couldn't be - it was certainly too early.

"Lieutenant?"

"Yeah?" Malcolm murmured, still half-asleep. Surely it couldn't be time already? "Time's it?" he managed to get out.

"Transport leaves in an hour, Lieutenant."

Malcolm rolled over, pushing back the covers and blinking up at Archer.

Jon stood there, already dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, his hair damp, mugs in both hands. He seemed like he'd been up for some time, although he looked tired. He smiled beatifically, his body haloed by the sunlight streaming through the window behind him, curls of steam rising from both mugs. "Sleep okay?"

"Fine, sir," Malcolm replied, trying to seem sincere. Smelling the coffee, he sat up, pushing the blankets aside.

Jon looked at him askance. "You seem pretty tired."

Malcolm shrugged. "Nothing that a bit of caffeine won't cure."

"I'm feeling a little bleary myself," Jon replied. "I brought coffee if you'd like some."

"Thank you," Malcolm replied, holding out his hand and accepting a mug with gratitude. He watched as Jon returned to his own bed, sitting on its edge and taking slow, careful sips of his hot beverage whilst staring off at nothing.

"Are you all right?" Malcolm said after some time.

"What?" Jon replied, seeming to shake off his lethargy. He looked at Malcolm. "Sorry, yeah. Just tired." He glanced at his watch. "Come on. We need to leave soon."

Malcolm nodded and stood, heading for the shower, mug in hand.

x-x

Malcolm looked in the mirror while he ran his fingers through his hair, then checked his appearance to be sure his uniform was in order. The whole transport process had taken less time than usual - since they were coming from Earth, they were able to skip decon. If he was lucky, he might just be on time for his regular shift, and not have to work late tonight.

Unable to stifle it, he yawned, covering his mouth with a hand, then he rubbed that hand across his weary eyes. He was knackered, probably due to lack of sleep last night. He stared at himself in the mirror, and raised an eyebrow, acknowledging his tired appearance. He'd have to stop by the mess before he went on duty, as some tea was definitely in order.

Hearing his door chime, he left the bathroom and went to it, triggering it open. Jon stood there, still in the civilian clothing he'd been wearing that morning.

"Can I come in?" Jon asked, his eyes sleepy beneath the warmth of his expression.

"Certainly, sir," Malcolm replied, standing aside to let the captain pass. As the door closed behind him, Malcolm turned to find Jon mere inches away.

"I enjoyed our time together on Earth," Jon said, stepping even closer to Malcolm. He reached out a hand and placed it on Malcolm's arm.

Malcolm stared down at Jon's hand, then up to Jon's face, taken aback. He was unsure...it seemed as if...but it couldn't be...

Jon slid his hand up Malcolm's arm to his shoulder, and smiled. "I wondered, if you aren't doing anything later on, if you'd..."

Malcolm took a quick step back. If he didn't know better, he'd swear that the captain was asking him out. "Sir -" he got out as his back hit the door.

Archer cut across him. "I know that we haven't always gotten along, but..." Jon stepped closer to Malcolm, placing a gentle hand, palm flat, on his chest. "You must realise that you're a very attractive man."

Malcolm simply stood there, frozen. First, at the fact that Jon, his captain, was hitting on a subordinate - it didn't seem in character for the man. Second, Malcolm was fairly sure, based on past observations and conversations with Hoshi and Trip, that the man was straight.

"Erm, sorry," Malcolm said awkwardly. "I'm not gay."

Jon took a step back. "You sure?"

Malcolm nodded, unable to say more.

"Too bad." Jon placed his hand on Malcolm's arm again, and Malcolm did his level best not to slide away. "There are no regulations against dating subordinates, or superiors," Jon said with a smile. "At least, not anymore."

"I realise that, sir," Malcolm said. "But still, I'm not interested in men."

"I understand," Jon said, dropping his hand and stepping away. He smiled sadly, and then reached over Malcolm's shoulder and triggered the door. Malcolm stumbled a bit as the door at his back opened, and Jon left without a word.

The door shut and Malcolm slumped against it, staring out into his room. "Good Lord," he said, exhaling loudly.

x-x

Please let me know what you think of this story so far.