Real Love

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Title: Real Love
Category: Songfic
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Lieutenant Reed and Major Hayes share a drink and a conversation in the early hours.
Author's Note: Keeping in line with the David Gray obsession, this particular song is taken from the "a new day at midnight" album, which btw is fantastic!!

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

"I gave my life for freedom - This I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so."
-- William Norman Ewer

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o


"Black tea, hot."

The resequencer chirruped and began to fill Malcolm Reed's mug with the rich dark brown liquid, and he inhaled deeply. Something like this was just what he needed right now. When the mug was filled he picked it up, savouring the burst of warmth he got from it, and turned to face the rest of the mess hall.

At roughly 0200 hours - around the time it was now - the place was usually empty, despite a few of the crew still suffering from increasingly infrequent bouts of sleeplessness, and empty the place was tonight; just a whole load of empty tables, chairs and a damn good view of a nearby nebula.


The dawn in all its majesty
Is stealing me away

Malcolm crossed over to the table furthest away from the door and sat with his back to it, placing the mug in front of him on the table. He was actually considering drinking some of it when he heard the mess door hiss open behind him; someone was coming in.

He heard a voice request milky coffee and turned around on his seat. "Major."

Hayes turned around, looking surprised. "Lieutenant," he said, "I didn't expect to see you in here."

Malcolm lifted his mug by way of explanation. "Just call me Mister Insomniac," he remarked dryly. Then, "Come on, come sit down."

Hayes raised a questioning eyebrow, then turned back to the dispenser and took out his steaming coffee. With an expression that very nearly bordered on mild annoyance he slowly weaved his way around the other tables and did indeed take a seat at Malcolm's table, although he chose to sit directly opposite the lieutenant. He didn't say anything, only wrapping his hands around his coffee and staring silently into his drink.

The dawn in all its majesty
Is turning me to clay

Eventually, however, Hayes looked up from his drink. "Is there any reason for this, Lieutenant?" he asked stiffly.

"Reason for what?" Malcolm asked him, genuinely confused.

"This," Hayes replied, indicating the mess.

Suddenly Malcolm cottoned on to what the major meant. "Nothing that I can think of," he said honestly. "You can't sleep, I can't sleep. Why not spend our sleepless night in each other's company?"

Hayes shot the lieutenant what could well have been a suspicious look, but then visibly relaxed himself. A little. Very little, in fact, Malcolm thought. Barely enough to be at all noticeable. "Very well, then," the major said.

And through the bars of iron rain
Way beyond and back again

"I assume we're going to make some kind of conversation, then," he added. For the first time that Malcolm could remember since meeting the man, Hayes sounded... uncertain.

In response, he shook his head slightly. "Not necessarily," he replied. "I'm all for the quiet contemplative silence, but -"

"That would take too long." Hayes finished the sentence for him, and he quirked one side of his mouth into part of a smile. "Talking sounds good," he added.

I hear the voice of Eden cry
Lift me up I'm walking on high

"Okay then," Malcolm replied. He paused for a second, thinking. "What's your favourite film?" he asked, pretty much saying the first thing that came into his head - it sounded dumb, even to him.

"What?" Hayes sounded sceptical.

"Your favourite film," Malcolm repeated. "What is it, and why?"

To his utter surprise, Hayes replied without hesitation. "The Shawshank Redemption."

Malcolm frowned for a second, trying to remember... "That's the one with the prison, isn't it?" Hayes nodded. "Yes..." Malcolm said, nodding as well. "I know which one you mean now." He rubbed his hand across part of his face briefly. "How come?"

Hayes shrugged. "The main character - Andy Dufresne - he was sent to a place where he was meant to die. Him against the system." He paused for a moment, clearly deep in thought. "I guess here, on Enterprise, we're all in the same sort of situation. Circumstances out of our own control, going on what could all too easily become some one way journey into the unknown." He shrugged again. "It occurred to me the other night, that we're all Andy Dufresne here."

It's real love

"But Andy ultimately escaped, though," Malcolm reminded him. "He survived."

Hayes nodded and picked up his coffee. "I know," he said. "It's just an analogy, but it still fits. General ordered me to pick a team to come on board with; make sure I tell 'em all what could be in store for 'em, make sure they know the risks. Like death. Never seeing home again. Losing people you care about for the sake of the greater good." He set the mug back down on the table. "I don't know... sometimes it feels like we're not going to have enough time to build our tunnel and get the hell out of here."

Real love

Hayes laughed mirthlessly. "Andy freakin' Dufresne," he declared harshly, resting his head in one hand. Then, "So what about you, Starfleet? Got any favourite movies?"

"Mm-hmm." Malcolm nodded, taking a small sip of his tea, which was rapidly getting cold. "Green Mile's one. What?" he added, seeing the expression on the other man's face.

"There aren't any explosions in The Green Mile."

Malcolm stared at him. "Why would there have to be explosions?"

Hayes shrugged again. "It was mentioned in at least two or three reports on you."

"What was?"

"You and this thing for explosions."

"It doesn't mean I have to have them in every film I watch," Malcolm told the major. "It's nice to have something... different every now and again. A little variation, if you will."

This world in all its clarity
Is glorious, is fake

Hayes nodded. "Okay," he said. "Reasons."

"Film's main theme runs along the lines of hope," Malcolm explained, "much like Shawshank's does. Hope, miracles, that sort of thing. When I was younger I suppose I liked entertaining the idea that miracles could happen, no matter what the world does to them."

This world in all its vanity
Is more than I can take

"And," he added, somewhat mirthlessly, "in the situation we find ourselves in at the moment, we could use all the bloody miracles we can get."

Hayes raised an eyebrow. "I'll drink to that," he said somewhat brusquely, "but believing in miracles is the same as believing in fate, wouldn't you say?"

"I don't believe in fate," Malcolm replied, "for the simple reason that it negates the idea of free will. And believing in miracles doesn't mean you believe in fate."

"Still," Hayes said, taking another, much longer swig from his mug, "both miracles and fate imply that you believe in someone up there pulling some kinda string, and you're the puppet."

"Diminished responsibility."

Hayes nodded. "Exactly. Which brings us right back round to the original topic of conversation."

"It does?" Malcolm enquired.

"Yep," Hayes said, a note of finality in his voice. "Which is that none of us - you and me included, Starfleet - wanna be responsible for anything happening to this ship or anybody onboard her. Hence your miracles, Lieutenant."

And down the road the iron wheels
Chain my heart to how it feels

"That's a good point, Major," Malcolm replied calmly, taking another sip of his rapidly cooling tea, "but haven't you ever entertained the idea of relying on a bit of blind luck once in your life?"


"Me neither," Malcolm admitted. "Sod diminished responsibility, needing luck would mean that I'm - anyone is allowing space for error in what they do."

Hayes leaned back in his seat, a speculative look entering his eyes. "Are we speaking from past experience here?" he asked.

Malcolm shook his head. "Not unless you count the History exam I forgot to revise for back in Year Thirteen," he answered. "All I could do was hope like Hell that I could answer the questions that came up."

Avoiding what was perhaps the obvious dig at the lieutenant, Hayes instead said, "Could you?"

"Most of them," Malcolm said. "Although that was probably more coincidence than luck."

"Hmm." Hayes started counting out on his fingers. "Miracles, luck, fate... anything you do believe in, Lieutenant?"

"Yes," Malcolm answered crisply. "I believe in cannons and firearms."

"'You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone'," Hayes quoted, cocking his head to one side as he spoke. When Malcolm only stared at him, he acquiesced. "Al Capone," he explained. "Think I read it on the back of a beer mat once."

To his own surprise, Malcolm actually chuckled. "I think I can top that one," he added. "Try this: 'The English have an unwritten rule; they only go to places they might get home from'. Billy Connelly," he said as a considered afterthought. "Late twentieth century."

"Lemme guess," Hayes told him. "He's either Scottish or Australian."

"Scottish, actually," Malcolm said, surprise evident in his voice.

Hayes laughed properly and for the first time relaxed fully against the back of his chair. "And once again the similarities are there."

Malcolm thought about this for a moment. "What are you talking about?" he asked.

I hear the voice of Eden cry
Lift me up I'm walking on high

"Both of those quotes," Hayes said patiently. "Taking a gun everywhere with you, and the English only going places they're gonna get home from again."

It was Malcolm's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Getting prophetic now are we, Major?"

Hayes chuckled. "Miracles, fate, luck and prophecies. Bet you were a whole barrel of monkeys when you were a kid, Lieutenant."

It's real love
Real love

"I had my moments," Malcolm answered carefully. He didn't say anything else, and the major didn't seem to desperate to probe any further into that particular line of conversation.

Real love

An uncomfortable kind of silence fell over the pair for some time, broken only when the low thrumming of the warp engine beneath them shifted frequency ever so slightly - it was enough to catch the attention of both the armoury officer and the MACO commander.

"Is it supposed to do that?" Hayes asked a little uncertainly.

Malcolm shrugged indifferently. "It happens sometimes," he said. "Usually it's when repairs are being made to the relays - different connections are made and the engine output reflects that."

"Oh." Hayes nodded. "Okay." Then, "Do you think we're ever gonna get home?"

Malcolm looked at him for a few seconds. "I thought you said I don't believe in prophecies," he challenged, his tone only half joking.

Hayes stared straight back at him. "Do you?" he repeated.

"I don't know," Malcolm admitted softly. "I suppose I'd like to think I'll see Earth again, but in all honesty I - I really don't know."

Hayes raised an eyebrow. "You make a crappy fortune-teller, you know."

Real love

"I thought the point of me being here was to blow things up."

Hayes grinned wryly, although it didn't reach his eyes. "That too." He paused for a moment. "You never answered my question, though."

"Which one?" Malcolm asked.

"Favourite movie," Hayes stated shortly. "You vaguely mentioned The Green Mile, but there was nothing definite." He crossed his arms and leaned back again. "I'm listening, Starfleet."

It took Malcolm some time before he gave any kind of answer. "Anything," he said. At Hayes' sceptical look, he continued. "I'll try anything once, although the film adaptation of Dune did leave me scarred for a while."

"The book was much better," Hayes mused.

"I've sworn off late twentieth century romance," Malcolm continued, "and in my own personal opinion, Casablanca should be burned at the bonfire along with a few other things I'll refrain from mentioning."

"You don't like Casablanca?" Hayes asked incredulously. "What the hell have you got against Ingrid Bergman?"

Malcolm shuddered theatrically. "Long story," was all he would say on the matter.

"You're still evading the question, though." Hayes told him. "C'mon - I told you about Shawshank."

And something in the heart of me
Is telling me it's time

"Fair enough," Malcolm allowed. "K-PAX."

To meet the eye of destiny

Hayes considered the point, again leaning back in his chair and this time taking his coffee with him. "Don't think I've seen that one," he said after some thought.

"You should," Malcolm told him. "It's good."

And leave it all behind

"What's it about?" Hayes asked.

"Schizophrenia. It's set mainly on the wards of a mental institution," Malcolm explained. "Guy's brought in, claims he's an alien inhabiting this man's body, proceeds to turn to place upside-down. Mostly for the better."

"Is he?" Hayes asked.

Malcolm frowned. "Is he what?"

"An alien in the guy's body," the major clarified.

"No," Malcolm replied. "At least, you think not once you get to the end."

Hayes raised half a smile. He held up his fingers again. "Miracles, luck, fate, prophecies and the little voices in your head. This is getting to be a pretty long list, Starfleet."

Malcolm smirked. "Did I also mention that romance is dead?" he asked slyly.

And through my bones an iron rage
paints my soul upon the page
I hear the voice of Eden cry

"Let me rephrase that, then," Hayes said. "Anything, besides blowing things up, that you do believe in?"

Malcolm didn't hesitate. "Yes."

Lift me up I'm walking on high

"Well?" Hayes asked, letting the word trail.

Makes me wanna lay down and die

"I believe in hope," Malcolm told him. "Hope that when the morning comes I'll be able to cope with any shit thrown Enterprise's way. Hope that I'll be able to do my best and keep everybody from dying out here. Hope - yes, I suppose I do hope that we could make like Mister Dufresne and build an escape tunnel out of here before it's all too late." He stopped for a moment, and looked Hayes straight in the eyes. "Despite what some people around here think," he said quietly, "I believe that tomorrow will come."

He left it at that.

Hayes nodded. "I'll go with that," he said equally quietly. He then picked up his empty mug and held it up, as if offering a toast. "Here's to you, Starfleet," he said. "You make sure we get to see tomorrow in one piece, and I'll bring the popcorn and Ingrid Bergman movies."

It's real love

"God, I hope you're joking."

Hayes shrugged, setting his mug back down. "I'm sure we could find some middle ground to suit the both of us - providing," he added, eyeing Malcolm squarely, "providing we're around to see the morning. I don't know about you, Lieutenant, but I'm not planning on dying any time soon."

Real love

"Neither am I," Malcolm replied. "After all, if I did die, then who would be left to rubbish the ideas of fate and luck to you?"

"The Vulcans," Hayes shot back mirthlessly. "Them, and a couple senior officers back home who will - for now - remain anonymous."

Real love

Malcolm laughed out loud at that, much to the surprise of both men, and after a few seconds he stopped and drew a long, loud sigh. "It's rather strange, don't you think?"

"What is?" Hayes asked.

"This." Malcolm held an arm out to the rest of the mess hall. "Here we are, discussing life, death and everything inbetween, and yet when the morning shift starts, it'll be as if nothing's changed. I'll go back to the armoury and find better ways to blow up the super-weapon when we find it, and you'll go back to the gym and train your men and women to better be able to help defend this crew against any enemies we find. That's something I could never work out as a child," he said. "No matter what happens, what you do, how hard you try, ultimately nothing changes. Only the names."

Real love

Abruptly Hayes stood up, and Malcolm followed suit. "Well," the major said, "if what you say's right, and in a couple hours' time we're gonna be at each other's throats over something stupid again, let me say this now. It was good drinking coffee with you, Lieutenant." He held out a hand to Malcolm. "Maybe we should do this again some other time."

"Maybe without the cynicism," Malcolm added wryly, shaking the proffered hand.

"Hell no," Hayes replied. "That's half of what makes it so much fun."

"Makes what so much fun?"

Hayes shrugged. "Maybe I'll tell you when we reach Earth again. Good morning, Lieutenant," he said. He gave another half smile, although again it didn't quite reach his eyes. "With any luck, or maybe it'll be a stroke of fate or even a bit of a miracle, I've got a feeling I'll see you later." He picked up both their mugs, and dumped them off on the way out of the mess.

Malcolm watched him leave, still standing by the table. The lighting in the mess hall and out in the corridor had risen slightly in deference to the time of morning back on Earth, signalling the precursor to the start of Alpha shift. He stayed there for a few minutes, standing and staring at the door the major had left by before forcing his legs into motion. He was due in the armoury in about ten minutes.

When he got down there he took the padd that one of the Delta shift crewmen offered to him, and read the words without taking them in - in his mind he was back in the mess hall, reliving the conversation he had had with Major Hayes, and one of the things that the man had said to him: everyone on this ship was Andrew Dufresne, waiting and patiently biding their time before beginning to make their own escapes out of here, and make it home.

Silently, Malcolm watched as Ensign Maritas at the cannon assembly port gave way to Ensign Rose, and realised something else. In his own way, Hayes had been right; Lieutenant Reed didn't entertain ideas like the existence of fate and luck, but at the same time, with a bit of luck, Malcolm Reed hoped that he would be able to get Enterprise home in one piece, with everybody still alive.

But for now, he had work to do, and with the ease born of years of practice, Malcolm slipped into the lieutenant guise and started giving orders to the people on his shift. Because no matter how grand the gesture, or how big the heroics when it came to crunch time - whenever that was going to be - nothing changed.

The dawn in all its majesty
Is stealing me away

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