Title: One For The Road
Summary: Before taking Enterprise into the Expanse. Jonathan calls Erika to try and reconnect after three years of silence, and asks her to be his back up back home.

So, I'm doing an ENT liveblog over on Tumblr, and after I had this little idea the lovely Trip convinced me that I needed to write it out. So, here you are Trip! Big *mwahs*. This one is dedicated to you, my fellow ENT and Jorika lover.

Erika pulled her winnings towards her again with a smile on her face, and as she did she noticed the dejected looks of her colleagues. Apparently after more than 3 years they still hadn't learnt not to play against the XO. She hadn't lost a hand since she had come to the Republic, and she had no intention of starting now. She grinned as the only other woman at the table showed her displeasure with a demonstrative plea. "No! Not again!"

She just grinned, shrugging a little as the comm demanded her attention, the others in the room started picking up their belongings, knowing a call from the bridge was going to end their game one way or another. Veronica, however, just continued sitting there, staring at the poker table. "Sorry Ronnie. You should have learnt by now. Hernandez here."

"Commander, there is a call from Enterprise for you" came the voice of whoever was working on the comm, and she knew almost immediately who it was, but why would he be calling her right now, surely he had far more important things to do than call her.

"Can you put it through to my quarters, thanks."

"Who do you know on Enterprise?" Veronica asked, finally pulling herself to her feet and grabbing the fleece that she had won from a hand Erika had folded on, and stopped in the doorway, the last one to leave, as usual.

"Jonathan." She smiled as his face appeared on her screen, and she held her hand up to him a second as she tried to convince Veronica to move faster, intrigued as she was to see what Jonathan needed. "I'll see you later Ron." She said, pointedly.

"Fine, fine. I'm determined to beat you one of these days though." She muttered as she left, pulling the door shut behind her, she turned back to the screen and slid into the chair at the end of her desk, forgetting for a moment it was on wheels and confusing herself as to why it was moving.

"Did I interrupt something?" He asked, indicating the direction of her door, and she laughed. Shaking her head as she continued chuckling, almost certain that he would have an idea, she had played poker with their fellow officers almost her entire career, and being the XO hadn't changed that. She guessed that if she was ever given a captaincy it probably would.

"A poker game, I was convincing our senior pilot that leaving was a good idea."

He chuckled, and she watched as his entire demeanour changed from a friendly joke to something far more serious, something she couldn't quite put her finger on, and that worried her more than she would have thought, she'd never had a problem reading him before. "You heard about Enterprise's mission?" He said eventually, and she nodded, wondering what he was really calling for.

"Everyone in the fleet heard about your mission Jon."

"I need to do this, it could be Earth's only chance." He suddenly seemed to be talking to himself more than to her, but he kept looking at her, and she realised he'd called her for backup, for someone he trusted to tell him that he was doing the right thing, that he wasn't making a mistake taking Enterprise to the Expanse.

"I'm aware of that." She muttered, but a second later his question made it clear that he had, indeed, been talking to himself.

He looked at her with pleading eyes, and it was obvious he really needed this backup. "Am I doing the right thing?" She wasn't a captain, yet. She didn't know if she was that she'd take her ship, but she knew that Jonathan was doing the right thing, and would do anything he could to not only protect Earth, but to protect his ship and crew too.

"You're the only one who can do it Jonathan. So yes." She nodded, watching as his face changed again, this time to something less harsh, one thinking of the worst case. That was an expression she had known for as long as she'd known him. More than 10 years of seeing that face before every mission, before every life changing decision.

"Erika, if I don't make it back, will you be the one to tell my mom. I've already put it in writing to Starfleet, that I want it to be you. But you need to agree to it." His voice was barely above a whisper, and wasn't really sure what to make of that request, but the obvious stumbling block was the first to jump out at her.

"Jon, your mother hates me."

"Rike, please?" He pleaded again, and she couldn't say no to him like that. She was surprised at his use of the old endearment, he hadn't called her that since before their break-up, and that just made her sure that he thought he wasn't going to come back from this.

"You've not called me that in a while. Sure, I'll do it, if I can. I have my position too Jon, on Republic"

"I know." He sighed and she knew something was playing on his mind, what it was however, wasn't as easy for her to read. She supposed that some distance had to have grown in their 3 years apart, she hated that it had happened, but she was also unsurprised.

"What is it?"

"I'm sorry, Erika." He said, still looking at her with that unreadable look, and that made her more nervous than anything he had ever said to her, she had never faced him looking so simultaneously focused and terrified, even when he'd told her of his promotion he had been one or the other.

"What for?"

"Everything, everything I did, everything I said, the fact we haven't spoken in more than 3 years."

"You weren't alone on that Jonathan. I did my share of it too." She felt like she was seeing his last confession, his eyes studied her in a way she hadn't experienced in years. She wondered if he still saw her the way she had been the last time they had spoken, when she told him she was leaving the NX project for the Republic because she wasn't sure she could work with him, or did he see her as she was today, a supposedly well respected officer who was in contention for a command of her own.

"I didn't want to leave without speaking to you, not on a mission like this."

"Be safe, Jonathan, try and make it home." She whispered, knowing that she probably sounded more than a little pathetic. He just broke into the first real smile she'd seen since he'd got on the comm, and that was that. She couldn't not return that smile.

"I love you, Erika. That never changed." Love had never been the problem between them, and it clearly wasn't now. Rank, duty, they had always been their issues, their problems. Breaking up hadn't caused them to fall out of love, it had just caused them to re-evaluate their priorities, and right now, she regretted that their decision had put duty first. For the first time in years she missed him, as more than just her best friend, she missed him as her partner.

"I know, me too, Jon. Do good, and I'll see you when you make it home. I promise." She made the decision then and there, whatever happened between now and then, she would be there when Jonathan made it home. He needed that, and she probably would too.

"I'll hold you to that. I'll write you." He smiled, and their eyes kept hold of each other a moment longer before the connection ended. She took a deep breath and wiped her eyes, looking up to the photograph she kept there and frowned. She hoped she was right, and in a few months Jonathan would be home again.