Title: In The Darkest Of Places
Summary: One moment together in the midst of their duties leads to a discussion about exactly what they mean to one another, but would a question asked in the heat of the moment break them for good, or lead them to being stronger than ever.

So, today I decided that for character research I needed to read "Kobayashi Maru" and "Beneath The Raptors Wing". I'm both sad and glad I did, but this little rewrite came from that, I was SO annoyed at the really crappy scene they gave them, and the terrible development. Dedicated to the Jon/Erika shippers, wherever you all are!

The comfort she gave him was something he hadn't really expected to find. They had agreed that maybe, just maybe, they would be best to go back to being officers, captains, people who didn't give in to their impulses. But he'd never been great at that, especially not when it came to her.

Maybe it was the drink, or the darkness, or just the fact that she made him feel as comfortable as she did, but one thing had led to another and the next he knew, her uniform was flying across the room as his pooled on the floor at his feet.

"Didn't we say we weren't going to do this again?"

"You know what, to hell with the rules, and the regulations, and the expectations. To hell with it all." The impassioned outburst from her surprised him, he had seen her in her worst moods over the years he'd known her, and had always trusted her judgement beyond even his own at times. She was the most selfless person he'd ever met, so to hear her sound so annoyed, it was something he wanted her to explain. He sat back and looked at her a minute, taking her hand in his and studying her face. "I just don't want this to run away from us again Jon."

"Erika... with our-"

"I know, and you know that that's not what I mean. Yes our ships aren't often going to be together like this, and yes we live dangerous lives and have dangerous jobs but..." She trailed off a moment, then leant forwards and kissed him as hard as she could, and he had never been able to resist her when she kissed him like that. When she let him see what was truly going on in her mind, it was like a holy experience because so few ever saw her as anything but the professional officer she had always been. When she pulled back again he saw the determination in her eyes "I don't want to let this go again, I don't want to sit in 5 years, or 10 years, and wonder what we missed out on. I've loved you since I was 24 years old, Jonathan, and there isn't some magical switch where I can just turn those feelings off because it's my job, or because the fact that we are what we are would make it difficult for us. I don't care if we only see each other once a year, or once a decade. I don't want to let this get away again."

The look in her eye, and the almost simple plea she made burrowed into his heart. Though when they had first met they had had more bumps and bruises than anyone else he'd ever known, they had not only worked well together, but they had fallen in love with each other, almost as long as Starfleet had existed he had loved her, but always quietly, privately. That was the way they had worked. The first time they had been seeing each other they had been Lieutenants, heads of all the classes and missions at Starfleet, he had been two years further along than her, but rank hadn't played a part, and they had spent almost four year challenging each other, privately and professionally, the week he had gotten news of his promotion he'd been planning on proposing to her, if he had, their lives would have been so very different.

She was right though, their jobs, their very lives, made relationships tricky, and he knew that most Captains' tended to steer clear of them in general, but like Erika, he knew they'd never fallen out of love, in fact he still trembled a little whenever he knew Erika and Columbia were headed into a dangerous situation.

His thoughts took only seconds, but he knew she was right, they had had something special, and the first time, when they had ended things for his career, a decision he had regretted regularly over the rest of it, they had never expected to be in the position they were now. Sitting together, the same rank, at the same point in time, facing the questions he'd thought they'd laid to rest long ago.

But every time they were together, the fireworks ignited again, from the rock-face after the Xindi mission to right now, on his bunk on Enterprise, this had happened, but this time Erika had chosen to clarify their position, and that both filled him with joy and terrified him. He already knew his answer, there was only ever one answer he could give her, especially in a situation like this. He didn't need to use words. He just leant forward and pulled her into him, kissing her with all the energy, frustration and love he had for her, and then smiled, kissing her cheek as she once again moulded perfectly into his chest. "There is nothing I want more." He sighed into her ear, and the next words that fell from his lips surprised even him, "Marry me?"

She sat back and silently studied him, she was clearly checking to see whether he was playing a joke on her, or not asking her a serious question. He hadn't planned on asking her, not in 10 years, but he was serious, and he knew that he needed to clarify, "not right now, not until the right time and the right place, after the war that we both know is coming, after the battles and the pain."

"A lot can change in that time Jon."

"I know that, but you're right. We let each other go once before and we've tried so many times to distance ourselves since I got home from the Xindi mission and it just hasn't worked-" He trailed off and stroked her cheek, unable to tear himself away from her now even to get his point across. "Because we both know that we might never see each other again. So let's make the best of it, and jump in with both feet." He smiled as she nodded, understanding his reasons. He knew that they had a few hard years ahead of them, but they would make it, he was certain, and he hoped that one day in the not too distant future, he would be able to see her walking down the aisle.