Warnings: Swearing. Angst. Redemption.

Notes: The title and a few elements of this story are from The Waste Land, by TS Eliot. I wrote this in honour of November, which is "Drown Malcolm" month.

Thanks: To the folks on the Yahoo EntSlash list, who helped me think through the liturgy of bad things that have happened to our dear Malcolm.

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-Now-

Ocean waves surged against the boulders below him, but Malcolm stood with his feet firmly planted on the rocky jetty. His bare feet were slanted forward on the slick granite, huge chunks of which had been pieced together, seemingly pell-mell, to form the quay jutting into the harbour. The setting sun had turned the water a deep, bright blue, and he could see clouds gathering, their edges tipped bright orange against the darkening sky. Even over the salt-tinged air, he could smell the rain coming.

A cool breeze made him wrap his arms across his chest. The approach of night was pushing the temperature lower and his light jacket wouldn't do for much longer. His feet were already freezing - he'd abandoned his shoes somewhere on the beach a few kilometres back.

A wave hit the rock below him, sending salt spray shooting up. He looked down at the water metres below and almost smiled. The idea of water as relief rather than as something to be feared was new to him. So much had changed, lately.

It was twilight, now; time hanging balanced between the day just past and the night to come. He stood, poised, trying to find the balance.

The past year had been difficult. Hayes' death, and those of others, weighed heavily on him. Then there was his seeming inability to separate himself from his past covert work. Archer's lack of trust. His own disappointment in himself. The loss of Trip's friendship.

But those were not the reasons why he was standing there, staring down at the water. The real reasons were hard to name. His own loneliness? The danger of his mission? The deaths he had on his hands? Cowardice? Fatigue? Curiosity?

Perhaps it was not his to know, but to do.

So why was he brooding? He'd come out here with a purpose, and instead found himself standing and staring at the water.

The sky had darkened around him, the water turning murky and black. Down the beach he could see lights from the motels and businesses blinking on, but they seemed far off.

The first raindrop hit his shoulder, and then it was a deluge. The cold rain soaked him quickly. He didn't fight it. He stood, arms wrapped around himself, staring out at the sea.

He took a hesitant step forward, closer to the edge of the jetty. The water below him was now lost in the dark and rain, but he could hear the waves slapping the quay. The rain pelted the rocks around him and hit the water in a rising chorus.

He thought he heard a voice calling. The rain came harder and all sound was lost in the downpour. He took another step closer, his feet just at the edge of the jetty. He stared down at the blackness.

There was a tug at his shoulder. He was pulled away from the edge, and back. Adrenaline spiking, heart pounding, he swung about.

It was Trip, looking dishevelled and slightly panicked. "What's going on here?" Trip said, almost shouting to be heard over the storm.

Malcolm stared at him for a moment. He felt a flash of anger. Lip curled in disgust, he turned away and started walking back down the jetty, not caring if Trip followed.

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Please review and let me know what you think of this story so far. Thanks!