"Well I don't know, if I knew would I be asking you?" Malcolm asked aggravated.
"Hey less of the snappin' if'n you don't mind, it's Jon you should be asking about this." Trip told him.
"Ahh of course, I'll just ask him why he suddenly finds me repulsive shall I?" Malcolm snapped again.
"Malcolm, I know Jon, he does not find you repulsive... I don't know what's wrong, but that ain't it," Trip assured the Brit.
"Well I don't see what else is could be, he won't come to bed at the same time as me, even just to cuddle, he gets up in the morning before I do, he even snuck off on Valentines Day and locked himself in his ready room till 0300 the next morning." Malcolm was at a loose end.
He didn't know what to think.
He didn't want to lose Jon, he'd die without him, maybe not physically, but Jon had brought him alive in a way none of his past lovers had ever done, he'd be dead inside if he lost Jon.
Oh he didn't care about the sex, not really, I mean, all in all, sex was just that, he didn't need to fuck, or be fucked by Jon to show, or be shown that they loved each other, a look, a smile, a gentle brush of fingers, so many things showed Malcolm he was loved, much more than sex ever could, but it was the rest.
They hadn't shared a meal in several weeks, Jon's irregular hours, and his frequent, if he believed secret trips to see T'Pol.
Part of Malcolm wondered, but he knew better, Jon was no cheater.
"Talk to him Malcolm seriously, before this gets any further out of hand," Trip advised again with a pat on the shoulder, and a friendly smile, before he left Malcolm standing in the middle of his and Jon's quarters, still as unsure as he had been when he'd first called Trip down here.
But Trip was right about one thing, things were getting out of hand and Malcolm needed to do something drastic... and the sooner the better, grabbing a padd, Malcolm quickly compiled the letter, and saved it before leaving his quarters.
*Captain's Ready Room*
Jon was tired, bone tired, and he groaned as the chime on his door announced a visitor, he so didn't need this.
"Come in," he called anyway, knowing he couldn't just ignore it.
"Captain Sir," it was Malcolm, who handed him a padd, and stood at strict attention waiting for Jon to read it.
Jon's face fell as he read the words on the data padd, a request to transfer to new quarters.
"Malcolm..." Jon was at a loss for words, he'd known it was coming, tried to prepare for it, but it still hurt.
"Are you even surprised?" Malcolm asked, feeling like something in side him was breaking as he watched Jon's unresponsiveness.
"Not really I've been waiting for this," Jon admitted softly.
"I suppose you have, you could have just asked me to go," Malcolm said, his voice soft, but hard at the same time.
"I couldn't I... I was hoping, if I just avoided a confrontation you'd stay, I suppose it was too much to hope for." Jon didn't look at him.
"Stay? You ignore me, you *lie* to me, and you expect me to stay? You never come home until god knows what hour, you leave before I get up, I know you've been catching cat naps here, and visiting with T'Pol, what the hell happened Jon? What the hell happened that I deserved to be treated like this?" Malcolm asked, no, Malcolm yelled... he was angry, and with good reason, and he wasn't going to leave here until he got an answer.
"I... oh God Malcolm I'm sorry I... T'Pol she's been helping me meditate, I didn't, I wanted... I wanted it not to hurt when you left..." Jon was lost in a sea of Malcolm's rage, and he didn't know what to say, or do, or when everything had gone horribly wrong, but he had a sickening feeling that if he lost Malcolm today, it wouldn't be because the Armoury officer wanted a 'younger model' but because of his own plain stupidity.
"Sorry... why, I don't understand Jon, what the hell made you think I was going to leave?" Malcolm asked, anger still plainly written on his features.
"I... I'm not getting any younger Malcolm I thought... you're so much younger, so much more vital, I can't give you everything you deserve," Jon admitted, tiredly collapsing into a heap, as his confession, and the strain of the last few weeks finally took its toll, and he fell unconscious on the floor.
Malcolm stood startled, looking at his pale lover, unconscious, seconds passed before his Starfleet training kicked in, and he was spurred into action.
Hitting the comm panel on Jon's desk, he called for Phlox, kneeling down beside Jon to check his pulse and breathing, glad to find both were steady.
"Jon..." Malcolm murmured, gently brushing a few stray hairs from his lover's forehead, just as the door opened to herald Phlox's arrival.
"Lt. Reed," Phlox looked expectantly at Malcolm, even as he bent to examine his patient.
"He just collapsed; he hasn't been sleeping, or eating very well for the last few weeks." Malcolm told him, relieved when Phlox confirmed Malcolm was correct and that Jon would be fine, given some adequate rest, and a few hearty meals.
"Take him back to his quarters, I believe he'd be more comfortable there," Phlox ordered the two crewmen who had arrived with him.
A few minutes later, Malcolm said goodbye to Phlox, and having called his second in command in the Armoury, making sure everything was okay, he allowed himself the relief of slipping into bed along side Jon, holding him close.
Jon awoke several hours later cocooned warmly in Malcolm's arms, hearing the soft snuffling his lover sometimes made in his sleep.
He moved slowly around until he could face his lover, frowning at the black circles under his eyes.
Jon felt the guilt hit him in the gut... he'd been so wrapped up in trying to prepare himself for Malcolm leaving him, he hadn't noticed he'd been the one leaving and worse than that, he hadn't realised what he'd been doing to Malcolm because of his stupidity.
"I'm so sorry sweetheart," Jon murmured softly, running his fingers softly along Malcolm's jaw.
Malcolm's eye fluttered open.
"Jon..." Malcolm sighed, eyes fluttering closed again at the sensation of his lovers touch after so long.
"I don't know what to say Malcolm, I guess I let my own insecurities get the better of me, I was so wrapped up in what I thought I couldn't give you, and I never thought to ask... I don't know why I just... your so amazing and I guess... I was just so busy feeling inadequate... I'm sorry, please forgive me."
"Listen and listen good Archer... you are stuck with me, weather your 44 or 144, I love you, and you will start taking better care of yourself, and you will not be taking anymore cat naps in your ready room, you will not be skipping meals, and you will sleep here with me every night, unless there is a really important reason why you can't."
"Yes Sir," Jon smiled, relieved that Malcolm was willing to forgive him so readily for being such an ass.
"I love you Jon, never forget that, I'm not going anywhere," Malcolm swore, offering Jon a light kiss in promise.
"I love you too... I... I know this is kinda a daft time to ask, since we've already been living together for almost three years and given everything lately, I haven't been, I'd understand if you didn't want... but... maybe... something more... permanent."
Malcolm smiled softly. "Why Jonathan Archer, are you proposing?"
"Yeah well kinda... yeah I am," Jon said.
"Well I don't know, I mean as you said, after your behaviour lately..." Malcolm trailed off.
"Malcolm I said I was... umph," Jon was cut off as Malcolm kissed him, taking his mouth in a hot, deep kiss.
"I think Malcolm Archer-Reed has a nice ring to it, could work," Malcolm smiled wickedly.
"Not as good as Jonathan Reed-Archer, but I guess it has a ring," Jon agreed, relief flooding his features.
"Go back to sleep love... this can all wait till morning... neither of us are going anywhere in a hurry," Malcolm said gently, pulling Jon back to him, holding him tightly as he felt the man drop into a deep sleep again.
*Two Weeks Later*
"Soooo when do I get to dolly up for this shindig?" Trip asked.
Malcolm and Jon had finally announced their engagement and after the events earlier in the month, no one was happier than Trip to hear about it.
"Not for a while yet, we're going to wait till we're back in space dock in a couple of months," Jon told him smiling, his hand clasping Malcolm's openly on top of the table in the Captain's mess where the senior staff were gathered.
"Well congratulations Sirs," Came from Travis, repeated by Hoshi and even T'Pol. Phlox heartily shook their hands, and offered them wishes for a long and happy life together.
By the time Jon and Malcolm got back to their quarters, they were grinning unbearably, and excited by the events of the evening, and of the upcoming wedding, that neither was in the mood to sleep.
It was two very tired, but very happy looking officers that appeared on the bridge the next morning, and if anyone noticed that, no one except Trip would dare to say it.