Title: What We Have Between Us

Author: Joules Mer

Author's e-mail: julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk

Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net

Date: Nov. 21, 2003

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity and BLTS.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: R/Sim, T/R

Summary: "Can we talk?"

Series:  Ghosts and Lovers (sequel to A Waking Dream)

Beta: None

Spoilers: Similitude (but oh so AU)

Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  No profit was made, no copyright infringement is intended

Author's notes:  There may be a fourth in the series if the god of happy-endings decides it wants one, but this is fairly complete as it is.

    I'm frozen in the corridor in front of his door.  I know several crewmen have passed in the time that I've been standing here, but I can't bring myself to care.  Sometimes there are more important things than ship's gossip to worry about.  I finally reach out and press the chime.  It's a full ten seconds before I'm told to enter, I'd almost assumed he wasn't in.

    I step into his quarters and find them dimly lit.  It's only 2100 hours, but it's almost like he was trying to sleep.  His bunk is rumpled as if he was lying on top of it, and there's something dark next to his pillow.  I turn my gaze back to the man in front of me.  Malcolm is rumpled and haggard, he doesn't look like he got any sleep last night.  I didn't either.

    "Can we talk?"

    Malcolm doesn't speak, he just motions for me to have a seat wherever I want.  I take the bunk, wandering over and perching on the edge.  He crosses to his computer terminal and sits at his desk.  I may have initiated this conversation, but I don't really know what I want to say.  I just know we need to talk.

    My curiosity gets the better of me and I reach out and hook the crumpled material of the dark object with my index finger.  I draw it towards me and it unfolds to become a standard issue black shirt.  I frown in confusion when I realize that it smells subtly like my shower gel, not like Malcolm at all.  My finger brushes a damp area and as I peer at Malcolm's still puffy and reddened eyes it clicks.  "This was his?"  Malcolm nods again.  It's almost as if he doesn't trust himself to speak.  "You two were close?"

    His voice is a hoarse whisper, "Very."  

    I nod and chew on my bottom lip.  I finally manage to blurt out the question that has been bothering me since last night, "Why'd you kiss me?"

    Malcolm ducks his head as he replies, "Because he told me to."

    I know my brow has furrowed in confusion at that, "He told you to?"

    "He knew how I feel about you."

    "How you feel about me, or how you felt about him?"

    "It's not that different, Trip."

    "The hell it ain't."  The words come out as a low growl.  It's true that I've found Malcolm attractive from the moment I laid my eye on him, I can't bear to think that a clone took my chance for me.  I can't bear to think that I was so incredibly close to having him myself, only to have someone else beat me to it.

    Malcolm looks up at me again and I can see his eyes shining in the low light.  "I've liked you for a long time, Trip Tucker.  He came to my quarters and asked if there was anything between you and I because he felt very strongly towards me.  He loved me, Trip, and I loved him.  I loved him because he was so much like you."

    "So you loved him."  I emphasize the him, wanting to force Sim to be a separate entity.

    "He had your memories, Trip.  He was so much like you."

    "He.  Wasn't. Me."  I grate out each word slowly.

    "He was close enough for me.  I love you, Trip, and every little thing that makes you who you are.  Sim had a lot of those characteristics.  It was so easy for me to love him."

    "Why'd ya run last night?"

    Malcolm snorted despite himself, "I thought that would be perfectly obvious.  I definitely overstepped the boundaries of our friendship, and you definitely seemed to mind."

    "I didn't."  The words startle Malcolm as much as they startle me.  I need to learn to always think before I speak.  He looks at me with wide eyes.

    "You didn't mind?"

    I look at him and find myself unable to lie, "I've liked you for a long time, Mal.  I think I might even love you."

    "So you didn't mind..."  Malcolm sounds so uncertain I hurry to reassure him.

    "You just surprised me.  That's all."

    "Oh."  He seems to ponder his quiet exclamation for a moment before he gets up and walks towards me, carefully seating himself next to me on the bunk.  "Then you won't mind if I..."  He trails off and leans in, gently capturing my lips in our first real kiss.  This time I'm ready for it and find myself drowning in the sensation of Malcolm's lips on mine.  He feels just like I imagined.  I kiss back eagerly, turning it from tender to downright demanding, and he's right there with me.  He runs his hands over me and they unerringly find every sensitive spot on my body.  I run my hands over him, mapping out his responses for the first time.


    The chronometer blinks 0330 as I roll over, cuddling closer to my new lover's warmth.  I should feel nothing but joy at finally being here, but it's troubled thoughts that are keeping me awake right now.  Malcolm says he loves me, but I can't help but wonder if it's because of the man I remind him of.  To Malcolm it's almost as if Sim and I are, or were, the same person.  It's as if he buried his lover, but got him back along with his love at the same time.  It's not the same to me.  I never met Sim, but I know he wasn't me.  I look at Malcolm sleeping and can't help but frown slightly.  There will always be a ghost between us.