"Good evening Father, Mother" Malcolm greeted politely as his parents appeared on screen.
"Malcolm," His father responded gruffly.
"Malcolm Dear, how are you?" His Mother asked.
"I am well enough, how are both of you?" Malcolm asked.
He hated this... this... fake ness.
He'd never realised in the past just how fake it all was, but since Jon Archer had swept into his life, first as Captain and friend, and then as lover, he'd come to realise a lot of things that had never occurred to him before.
The conversation was short lived, and stiflingly polite, so Malcolm was glad when he could bid his parents goodbye until the following month.
He only really bothered to call for his mother's sake... knowing his father wouldn't care one-way or the other, but he had promised his mother he'd call once a month, and so he did, without failing, and every time, once the call had ended he'd sag in relief, and try and put it out of his mind, until the next time around.
"Hey sweetheart," Jon greeted entering his and Malcolm's joint quarters, his work out cloths damp with sweat.
"Hello love... good workout?" Malcolm asked, accepting the offered kiss as his lover leaned over him.
"Hmmm yeah... how's your folks?" Jon asked.
"Oh fine. Madeline is coming for a visit soon; they are looking forward to seeing her." Malcolm told him.
"We'll have to visit them when we get back to Earth," Jon suggested. It was an idle suggestion, he knew Malcolm wouldn't want to go, more than that, he was sadly afraid, his parents, wouldn't care if he visited or not, most especially Admiral Reed.
Jon had thankfully only spoken to him twice, that was once too many for his personal tastes, but they were Malcolm's parents, and Jon knew that as much as Malcolm denied it, their approval... his father's approval meant a lot to him; the pity was that Stuart Reed didn't see fit to give it, even to his only son.
"Come on... take a shower with me, then I have a surprise." Jon told Malcolm, pulling him from the chair.
"A surprise?" Malcolm asked, only slightly worried, he wasn't fond of surprises as a rule, but Jon's were generally nice ones.
"Hmmm... Yes, a surprise... now of course you don't *have* to share a shower with me first, but..." Jon let it trail of suggestively... a look on his face that he knew Malcolm couldn't resist.
"Shower." Malcolm agreed readily.
"Okay close your eyes," Jon murmured, approaching the closed observation lounge doors.
He'd picked out their clothes before they left, much to Malcolm's amusement who assured his older lover he could dress himself quite well, until Jon informed him that the clothes he'd picked made him look very sexy, and so Malcolm acquiesced.
Jon was in black 'jeans' and a sea green shirt that Malcolm had bought for him their last shore leave, and Malcolm in black jeans and a matching shirt in blue... they looked like salt and pepper, but they also looked very good.
Malcolm obeyed, quickly, aware that any moment someone might walk past, and although the crew was aware of his relationship with Jon, he wasn't one for flaunting, and public displays of affection.
"Surprise." Jon whispered gently as the doors opened and he lead Malcolm forward.
The room was empty, but for a single table set of to one side, with one of the few decorative dinner settings aboard, only really to be used for diplomatic occasions, candles, and a bucket of chilled champagne.
"It's lovely, but what is it in aid off?" Malcolm asked.
"It's in aid of you of course... I knew you'd be expecting something next week... so I kinda cheated," Jon told him, chuckling slightly; as he lead Malcolm to the table and pulled out his chair for him, in an overly gallant gesture that would normally earn him a glare, but earned him a smile tonight instead.
"You Jonathan Archer... are a sneak... but it's one of your many lovable qualities, so you're forgiven." Malcolm said, smiling cheekily.
"Why thank-you kind Sir," Jon offered, bowing playfully before taking his own seat.
It was only then that Malcolm became aware of the presence of two other people in the room, the first being Trip Tucker, best friend to the couple, and the other Hoshi Sato.
Hoshi was sitting near the back of the room, mostly hidden by shadows, and she was softly playing a sweet tune on a harp... and instrument Malcolm wasn't even aware she played, and he certainly hadn't known there was one aboard Enterprise.
Trip appeared at their side, in a tux no less, with two plates of creamy garlic-flavoured goat cheese spread on pumpernickel bread, which he set before the men before pouring them both a glass of champagne.
"Do I want to ask how you conned him into this?" Malcolm asked, half jokingly as Trip stepped way from the table, and stood beside Hoshi until they had finished their appetizer.
"Oh he just... owed me a favour." Jon replied, smirking slightly.
Trip was attentive through the appetizer, and the main course of Chicken Ricotta, making sure their glasses were full, and clearing away the plates in short order.
"Trip hold off on the desert for a little while," Jon told his friend after he had cleared the plates from their main course.
"Aye Cap'n." Trip said, returning to his place by Hoshi, wondering when Jon was going to get around to the point of this evening.
"Care to dance?" Jon asked a little while later, after some light conversation.
"Of course" Malcolm agreed, standing up and waiting for Jonathan to move closer, wrapping their arms around the others waist, Malcolm resting his head against Jon's shoulder as Hoshi played a softly haunting melody behind them.
"This is perfect love," Malcolm murmured, settling more fully against Jon.
"Not over yet... still have desert to go." Jon replied gently, brushing his lips against Malcolm's soft hair.
"Hmmm... can we go back to our quarters for desert... I'm sure I can find something there that I'd find very tasty," Malcolm said, looking up and grinning wickedly at his lover.
"I'm sure... but chef did go to a lot of trouble for this... we wouldn't want to offend him now would we," Jon smiled brightly, offering his lover a kiss on the lips, promising that he would get 'seconds' for desert back in their quarters later.
Jon lead Malcolm back to the table as Hoshi finished another tune, and motioned Trip for the desert, studiously ignoring looking at his friend for fear he'd give the game away.
Chef really had outdone himself with Desert Jon thought as he watched Malcolm delight in the Barbequed Pineapple, marinated with rum, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and served in a banana boat with pineapple on either side, and two scoops of ice cream with a pineapple juice glaze on top.
"This is delicious love... we really must thank chef for this." Malcolm said, his tongue flicking out to lap a stray drop of pineapple juice from his lips.
"Yes... we really must." Jon agreed, getting just a little lost in the subtly sensuality of that simple movement for a minute.
"Down boy..." Malcolm teased, his eyes flickering to Jon's and back to the bowl before him, in time to see the glint of gold hidden in his desert.
Nimble fingers removed and carefully cleaned the gleaming gold on a napkin, before Malcolm turned his gaze to Jon who had been watching him the whole time.
Jon moved from his chair, around to Malcolm's side, kneeling on one knee... if he was going to do it he decided, he would do it properly, Malcolm deserved it all.
"Malcolm... ever since I first met you there was something about you... I couldn't decided what it was, you were smart, and had a dry humour that never failed to make me smile... but it was more than that... you were strong, and yet venerable, you allowed me to take care of you, even while you took care of me... I love you, I always will, nothing can ever change that, and I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather spend the rest of my life with, whether that is a day, or a year, or one hundred years... Will you Marry Me?"
"Oh Jon... Of course I will," Malcolm murmured softly, smiling through slightly damp eyes, and as Jon leaned up and kissed him, he leaned down to meet him half way.
"What did I ever do to deserve you... I love you Jon... I don't know how I could ever tell you how much... you’re the universe to me... I've never felt like this, I never thought I could feel like this... it would be my honour to marry you... I can't imagine every being with anyone else."
Trip and Hoshi, slipped away unnoticed in the background as the two lovers continued to murmur words of love well into the night.
When they appeared on the bridge late the next morning, slightly bleary eyed, but smiling happily, no one commented, but the happiness soon spread to the rest of the ship... and Malcolm smiled even brighter, because it was true what they said... the crew are happy when the Captain is happy, and by some unbelievable streak of fortune he was the very person who had made the Captain happy.