Star Trek: Enterprise -- Archer/Reed -- 007. Days (1/100)
Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise
Prompt: 007. Days
Word Count: 818
Author's Notes: The daily grind can be heaven, or hell. (Written for fanfic100 and mareel's birthday. Usual disclaimers. No spoilers.)
You've come to realize sometimes there aren't enough petty little things for a captain to do on the bridge to keep the mind occupied.
You listen with that sixth sense you've developed from day after day after day of sitting in That Chair -- the center of all things Enterprise whether you want it or not -- to the daily routines that pass behind you and beside you and in front of you. Beneath you. Only not above, because above you and outside of the tentative metal skin that cordons off your world from the icy inability to survive in space, out there... lies a void. A darkness. A distance so vast between stars, hell, between atoms, that there may as well be no connection at all.
And sometimes it doesn't seem right that there is at least one, clear and tangible only to you, an invisible thread that feeds from the heart, tethering you to the silence that returns from unanswered hails. But it's there nonetheless.
So you sit and you wait, in That Chair, lurching seamlessly through the tasks of being in command, belting out the occasional question, directing crewmen in a pause, looking busy, hovering -- but not too close -- over first this station, then that one, trying to sound normal, act normal, be normal, even though it's nigh to impossible to ever be normal again, to be just a captain, just in command, just his commanding officer.
It's just a job. You do your job, do your duty. You both put on a face every day that allows you to breathe among your colleagues or even your friends, gives you the space you need in such close quarters, to be separate in deed but not in heart. To keep your solemn little secret of how it feels to wrap around each other at night, to breach that fragile armor worn as a skin that surrounds you and keeps you safe from others grazing too closely to the truth, to the fire that burns to light your way through the void in your lives. That face creates a useful distance between you on purpose.
Damn his duty. And damn you for sending him to it. One of these days he won't come back, and you hope it isn't now. Or tomorrow. Ever, actually, but you know the odds, just as he does, every time he carries out one of your orders. It's his job, dammit, to stand in the breach, to go first, to take the shot and take the brunt of violation against crewmate, captain, ship. It's your job to make sure he does so. You know it, he knows it. You hate it.
But you love him for it. And in spite of yourself.
Staccato half-conversations rise and wane, the beeping and whirring pulse of your bridge ebbing and flowing as it always does, and you're out of ways to keep from wondering about him. You shift just enough to feel the change in position, even when you know no one else noticed. You know the difference. The barest chill passes through your uniform for a few seconds, until the empty spot beneath you warms, absorbing part of you as if it were his skin.
For a moment, you remember what it was like just last night, you can feel him beneath you, raw, open, breathing, moving together in tandem, in a ritual you both know well. He's warm to the touch, heated even. He gives to you what no one else could, willingly offering body and soul despite the risk, throwing his whole being into the chasm of emotion that threatened to engulf you, take you down, make you less without him. Instead, he makes you more, better, stronger with every day that passes with him in your arms, your heart, your bed, and you are grateful. Grateful, and in love.
You almost jump when the hail comes through, when his static-filled voice fills your ears and reality crowds out memory -- mission accomplished, coming home. And suddenly the utter lack of things to do evaporates and there aren't enough minutes in the hours in the day to wrap up the tedious chores that take you to the end of your shift, to the debriefing, to the reports to tidy up and send off. The ticks of the clock are interminable before that singular moment when you are finally alone and never alone and you feel him all over and around and inside and the touch of his skin becomes a completeness that overwhelms and protects you all at once. And you drift toward the void of sleep together, content to remain secret and private for these precious moments, shutting out all the world with a cocoon of gentle kisses and murmured promises of love and duty to one another.
And tomorrow will be another day, all over again.