The Man in the Uniform

by The Grrrl

Title: The Man in the Uniform

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@yahoo.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/thegrrrl/

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Oct 04, 2003

Pairing: Archer/Tucker

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Trip comes to a realization about Jon and their relationship.

Spoilers: 3.4 "Rajiin" (postep)

Beta: The lovely and gracious Kylie Lee, who really helped pull this darn fic together. Thank you. You're the best!

Comments: Grrrl does Archer/Tucker! All by herself! <gasp>

"They had your number, Cap'n." Trip says sourly. It had been a setup from the very start, he realizes. The Xindi apparently were aware of Jon's nature, that he would want to rescue Rajin, and in doing so allow a spy into their midst. Still, he's surprised that Jon fell for it. After all they had been through the past two years—how could Jon be so naive?

Jon rubs his face, nodding. He looks miserable sitting there on the bed like that, shoulders slumped, his face pale and drawn. Trip thinks that maybe he should feel more sympathetic toward his captain. But he can't seem to find it within himself. He's too angry, and has been all day. He looks away from Jon, and notices Porthos hovering around his ankles.

"Just tell me one thing," he continues, bending down to pet the dog, who wiggles appreciatively. "How does your rescuing Rajin differ from me wanting to help that Vissian Cogenitor?"

Trip looks up to see Jon staring at him, obviously bewildered. "Trip, how does that matter—"

"It does matter. Believe me," Trip tells Jon as he straightens up. Porthos waits expectantly, then wanders away, disappointed. "Just tell me how you think interfering with that culture is any different than me interfering with the Vissians. Which, may I remind you, you gave me endless amounts of shit for." He folds his arms across his chest and waits for his captain to explain himself.

But Jon doesn't. He merely says, "Trip, I don't want to talk about this right now," and turns away. Trip knows this is Jon's way of saying that he doesn't have an answer.

But Trip does want to talk about it. Trip just spent an entire day watching trellium-D blow up in his face so he's tired and frustrated, and he's even more pissed off because Jon can't see how much this is bothering him. "I'll tell you how it's different," he announces. "It's different because you're the captain. You get to rescue lost puppies, or pretty little kittens in this case, and damn the consequences." He stabs his finger in the air as he makes his point. "That's how it's different."

"Damn the consequences? You really think I don't care that we just gave the Xindi information that could help them wipe out the human race?"

"I'm not saying that. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't have rescued her." Trip, says, wondering if Jon is being deliberately dense. "What I'm saying is you stole this man's merchandise because you didn't think what he was doin' was right, just like I felt about what the Vissians were doin' to—doin' to Charlie—"

Jon's head snaps up. "Are you telling me I have two different sets of standards, Mr. Tucker, one for myself, and one for my crew?" His voice is low, and there's a hint of danger in it.

"No," Trip says, then hesitates. He rubs the back of his neck, which is stiff from the long, fruitless day in the lab. "Yes. Fuck. I don't know, Jon."

And it's true—Trip doesn't know. He's just pissed, pissed at everything, including Jon. He doesn't know if he's right or if Jon's right or if Porthos has the solution to it all. One thing that he does know for sure is that Jon brought a pretty woman back to the ship, and now the Xindi know god-knows-what about human physiology.

Jon rises from the bed and approaches Trip. "You listen to me, Trip, he says, eyes glittering dangerously. "She came to me asking for help—"

"Just like Charlie did."

"Are you going to keep interrupting me?" Jon asks.

Trip holds up his hands. "Just tryin' to make my point—"

"Damn it Trip, you made it, okay? And by the way, how's the progress on trellium-D?"

Jon knows full well how the project is progressing. Or rather, how it's not progressing. "We're gettin' there," Trip spits out, disgusted by Jon's spitefulness. "And we haven't blown up the damn shit yet. Sir."

They're face to face, close enough to touch, but only their eyes meet. Trip knows from experience that neither of them will budge. Another impasse. Deep down inside, Trip's vaguely aware that he's being a real son of a bitch, but he's too angry to care. He also knows that Jon's angry too, that he was angry long before Trip strolled into his quarters, looking for a fight. It hasn't been a good two days for either of them, with three Macos in serious condition in the infirmary and T'Pol still recovering from neural damage inflicted by Rajin. Not to mention the fact that the reptilian Xindi managed to waltz right in and retrieve their spy despite their best efforts. They had fucked up, in a big way. And while Trip doesn't exactly blame Jon, he still thinks that Jon should have known better. He is their captain, after all.

Seconds pass silently, and Porthos whimpers somewhere from the depths of his bed, sensing the tension.

Jon suddenly sighs. His face crumples and he asks in a plaintive voice, "Why do we do this?"

And just like that, the fight goes out of Trip. He slumps down into a chair. "I dunno. Maybe because we're better at bein' friends than lovers?"

"I can't do it anymore, Trip. All we do is fight. I have enough of a fight on my hands already. All I wanted to do was help her. And now—" Jon doesn't finish his sentence but walks over to the viewport and stares out at the stars.

Jon looks defeated, and Trip hates that. Trip hates even more that Jon is so willing to give up on their relationship. It hurts him to think that what they have means so little to Jon. "Fine. Maybe you're right. Bein' the captain and all, of course you're right."

"Trip—"

It was a warning, but Trip recklessly ignores it. "Cap'n, this mission obviously needs your full focus. And this isn't working. Let's just call it quits, no hard feelings, okay?" He says this quickly, because he thinks it's the right thing to do, the right thing for Jon. It's hard for him to talk with the big lump in his throat, so he rises from the chair and quickly steps out of Jon's quarters. The last thing he sees is Jon's shocked face.

***

Trip lies in bed, wide awake as usual, thinking that he was an idiot—that he should have known better than to start a relationship with Jon during this mission. Thing was, he had been feeling foolhardy after leaving Earth for this Xindi thing, which seemed very likely to be suicide mission, so he figured what the hell. First opportunity he got, he threw himself at the man he had loved and admired for years, letting loose all the pent-up passion and longing he'd been carrying around for years. And Jon—well, Jon responded, responded with a hell of a lot of enthusiasm. They came together explosively, with such passion that Trip felt as though he was being torn apart from the inside, that Jon had somehow reached in and touched his very soul. Trip loved the feel of Jon's body slamming against his, loved the way Jon held him, loved the way Jon cried out his name when he came. That Jon should love him so much, should want him so much, was more than Trip had ever dared dream of.

But maybe there's just too much shit going on in the Expanse for something that beautiful to survive, Trip thinks. Too much pressure on Jon—the weight of the world, as Jon once told him. And it's true, the weight of the world, Earth's literal future, is on Jon's shoulders, and somehow, instead of helping him carry it, all Trip manages to do is make it heavier. Instead of finding comfort in each other's arms, they snipe at each other in a way they never did when they were friends. Trip doesn't know why that is.

Nothing makes sense anymore. He feels like his soul is caught up in one of those Expanse anomalies, stretched and pulled inside out. He lies in bed, going over it again and again in his mind, hearing his own words. And Jon didn't come after him. Jon didn't call him. Jon didn't apologize. Jon didn't, in that way he had, ask Trip to apologize, or to back off so they could make up. Jon was going to just let him go this time.

He tosses and turns in the bed, unable to get comfortable. It's going to be a long night, lying there all alone, with only the memories on Jon's hands on his body for company, memories of whispered words of love during the night. He wonders what he and Jon are going to be to each other now, if they can still be friends, recapturing what they once had, or if he has lost everything. Was it going to be Captain Archer and Commander Tucker from now on? It hurt to think it, but then, at this point, everything hurts. What's one more hurt on top of everything else?

He had never expected Jon to be the one to add to his pain, though. Then again, Jon seemed to be doing a whole lot less-than-noble things that Trip had never expected him to.

Trip thinks about that. And realizes that maybe, just maybe, he's expecting a little too much of Jon. For so many years Trip had admired Jon, looked up to him, wanted to be just like him: a hero, a pioneer in space. But now, serving so closely with Jon on this mission, he can't avoid acknowledging that his hero all too often has feet of clay, that he's overlooked the fact that Jon is just a man, the same as he is.

He wonders if maybe he fell in love with a Jonathan Archer that never actually existed.

He's so lost in dark thoughts that he doesn't hear the faint chirp of the passcode being entered outside his door. A second later, the door slides open. He levers himself up onto his elbows and squints at the door. Trip recognizes Jon's silhouette against the dim light of the hall, but even without that, he'd still know it was him.

"Jon—" Trip's heart is hammering against his chest. He doesn't know what to expect.

He's sitting up in bed when Jon reaches him. The first thing Jon does is wrap his arms around him, and the sense of relief is overpowering. "God damn it, Trip," Jon whispers, squeezing Trip so hard that his ribs ache, but Trip doesn't care. He simply buries his face in Jon's chest and hangs on tight.

Jon's shaking a little, and so is Trip. "Jon," Trip says, and pulls him down onto the bed. "Jon—I'm sorry—so sorry—"

"No, Trip, I'm sorry—"

"I'm sorry I didn't see—" Trip doesn't know how to say it, how to say that he is sorry that he never saw Jon for who he is, never looked beyond the hero for the man. That he never allowed Jon to make a mistake. To be human.

"It's okay, shhh," Jon tells him softly, petting Trip's head.

"I hate that we keep fightin' like this," Trip whispers, covering Jon's face with kisses. "I can't stand it anymore." He holds Jon's head in his hands, unable to see his face in the dark.

"Me, neither," Jon says. Jon rolls onto top of Trip, pressing him into the mattress. Trip gladly takes his weight. Jon's chest presses against his chest, and he can feel that Jon's heart is pounding, too. He spreads his legs, and Jon slips in between.

"'Cause I didn't mean it," Trip tells him. Maybe he did when he said it, but now he doesn't. Jon rouses such passion in him—he loses himself in that passion. He rubs his cheek against Jon's face, and Jon's lashes brush against his temple. "I didn't mean any of it." He wraps his arms and legs around Jon, holding him in place. "I was bein' a real bastard."

"Listen," Jon says, his warm breath caressing Trip's ear. "Let's just agree from now on to keep it to once a week. Maybe Sunday afternoons. We can argue and tell each other to go to hell, just to get it out of our systems."

"It's a date," Trip whispers, and his lips find Jon's.

Jon grunts and his tongue immediately plunges into Trip's mouth as hands seek Trip's ass, squeezing, then tugging at his briefs. Trip impatiently helps Jon, sliding his own briefs off, then yanks at Jon's pants so that he can feel Jon's cock against his skin. Jon growls and pushes insistently against Trip's thigh, and then it's as if they are trying to get inside each other's skin, clutching and shoving and thrusting, both of them hard and hungry.

Trip has his legs around Jon's waist now, hips canted up so that Jon's cock is rubbing against his opening. Jon pushes, making Trip groan and bite at Jon's shoulder in sheer desperation. He needs it, needs Jon inside of him, because this is the one thing that does work between them, that they can get right each and every time.

"Wait," Jon whispers as Trip grabs his cock. He rolls off Trip to reach toward the bedside table. He barely gets his fingers around the bottle of lube before Trip yanks him back.

"Now—I ain't waitin'—" Trip demands. Jon's slick finger slides inside of him and no, that's not what Trip wants. "Fuck me, damn it, Jon—" he snarls impatiently. He grabs the bottle from Jon, splashes some on his hand, and wraps his fingers around Jon's cock, using it to pull him into position even though his hands are slippery.

"That's it, that's it." The bottle slips from Trip's hand and tumbles to the floor as Jon enters him, groaning, and even though he's tight and it hurts some all Trip can feel is sheer relief. All the anger and desperation melts away, all thoughts of trellium-D and spies and anomalies and Jon chasing after simpering blondes. It all vanishes with a mindless surge of pleasure so hot and intense that it makes him cry out and clutch at Jon's shoulders before reaching frantically for his own dick. "Harder—Jon, harder, damn it—" he gasps.

"Oh, hell, Trip—" Jon's hands are behind Trip's knees, holding Trip's legs up as he plunges his cock into Trip again and again in the darkness. "Love you, you know that, don't you?"

Trip does know this, he's always known it. He tries to tell Jon this by pulling him down and kissing him, by twisting and writhing against Jon's dick, by whispering Jon's name into Jon's mouth as he shakes and comes, sobbing from the intensity. It's only a few more stokes until Jon comes, gripping Trip's thigh so hard that it hurts, pounding into him, his soft balls slapping against Trip's ass. Trip holds onto Jon through his spasms, soaking in Jon's pleasure through his skin, reveling in it. Reveling in Jon, the man.

"Oh yeah, Johnny, that's it," he says. "My Johnny." Because this is his Jon, the Jon no one else gets to have. And when Jon collapses into Trip's arms, his body heavy and limp and radiating heat, his cock sliding out of Trip's ass, Trip hugs him, thinking that this is the moment he loves. This is moment where he wishes time could just stand still and they could just stay like this, slick and sweaty, satiated and full of love for each other. No Expanse, no mission, no enemies, no death. No Commander, no Captain. Just each other.

"Mmph." After moment Jon mumbles into Trip's neck and pushes himself up. Trip feels a pang of regret; even if it can't last forever, he wants the moment to last at least a little bit longer.

But Jon merely takes his shirt off and wipes Trip's stomach clean with it. "Sticky," he explains, throwing the shirt onto the floor.

"Now how'd that happen?" Trip asks, sliding over to give Jon some room in the bed.

Jon kisses him, then lies back and pulls Trip to his chest. "Another mystery of the universe." Then, more seriously, he asks, "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

Trip shakes his head, snuggling against Jon's chest. "Nope. It was just what I needed. You're what I need, Jon." Jon kisses the top of his head. Trip scoots up further so that his mouth can reach Jon's, and they kiss slowly and thoughtfully, as if trying to get it right.

"I should get back," Jon finally says.

Trip sighs. "Yeah. I know." It wouldn't do for the captain to be missing from his quarters at night.

But instead of getting up, Jon just lies back, pulling the pillow under his head. "But this is nice. I was so worried, that we—"

"I hear ya," Trip answers, laying his head back down on Jon's chest. "This is a hell of a lot better than fightin', that's for damn sure." He licks the moist skin, savoring the flavor of Jon's sweat.

Jon grunts in response, and Trip wonders if he's falling asleep. Because Jon really should leave, in case the third shift bridge crew needs to contact him. Not that Trip wants him to, of course. Trip would like nothing more than to spend the night in Jon's arms.

Jon, totally relaxed, begins to snore quietly. Trip contemplates waking him. It is somewhat negligent for the captain to be with him, just like it was for Jon to bring that slave on board Enterprise and allow her to roam about the ship, although Trip's not sure he would have behaved differently himself. Yet a few short hours ago, Trip was in Jon's quarters giving him shit.

Trip tries to remember why he was so angry with Jon, why they had fought. Right now, he only feels love for the man, the same love and affection that he's always felt. Maybe Jon's not the perfect captain, but who is? It's not as if Trip himself is perfect. He's made plenty of mistakes—probably, he admits, even more than his share.

"Jon," he whispers, patting Jon's chest.

Jon wakes with a startled "Huh?"

"You need to get back, darlin'." He kisses Jon's sleepy lips, then slides out of bed to turn on the lights so he can find a clean shirt for his captain to wear.

Jon sits up, hair rumpled, blinking at the sudden brightness. Trip hands him a shirt, and Jon just looks at it, still groggy and confused from being awakened. "Thanks," he finally mumbles, looking up at Trip with a little smile.

Jon looks so young, so vulnerable, and Trip feels a sudden surge of affection. He smiles back at Jon, deciding that he loves the real man, warts and all. That the imperfect, passionate Jon, sitting there, befuddled but full of love for him, is more wondrous than the idea of the heroic Starfleet officer ever was.

"Here, let me." He slips the shirt over Jon's head, then kisses him affectionately as Jon works his arms through the sleeves. "There." He pats down Jon's hair and they both laugh a little, then kiss again.

Jon pulls on his pants and shoes before heading to the door, then stops and turns. "See you at dinner tomorrow?" he asks.

"Maybe. Depending on how it goes with the damn trellium."

Jon nods. "Be careful. Oh, and don't forget about Sunday," he adds with a sly smile.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Trip tells him.

As he watches the captain leave, he is fairly certain there won't be anything to fight about when Sunday rolls around. But he's pretty sure he can talk Johnny into skipping ahead to the make-up sex.

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