Tom had been absolutely awed when Harry had slipped his briefs off so erotically and then languidly walked to the water. His partial erection surged to full staff when he saw Harry's cock hanging there, waiting to be licked, waiting to be sucked.
//Oh Gods, I want him so bad.// With a decision born out of desperation, he moved towards Harry as he surfaced.
His lips found Harry's before Harry even had time to wipe the water from his eyes. He pressed against Harry with passion and need, and gasped into Harry's mouth when he felt it returned. Then suddenly it was gone. The lips vanished.
He opened his eyes to see Harry squeezing his eyes shut and talking to himself. He kept repeating “Keep control. Got to keep control. Control.”
Tom opened his mouth to ask him what was wrong, to tell him to let himself go and enjoy it, when he felt something wrap around his ankle. His scream was cut off when it yanked him below. He got a mouthful of water instead.
Beneath the water, he could see it. He had something like a tentacle wrapped around his leg, but it appeared to be a plant, not an animal. He followed it back to see the tentacle attached to a huge underwater bush. He reached down to try to loosen it, but he was held fast, and the surface was several feet above him.
Harry didn't notice Tom get pulled under, but he did notice that Tom had been underwater for longer than he should have been. Fear crept up inside him. He dove under.
He saw Tom instantly, and saw the tentacle drawing him closer to a large plant. He swam to him, and put his hands next to Tom's, trying to free him. It wouldn't let go, but Tom's hands did.
Harry turned to look at Tom and saw him losing consciousness. He'd been under too long. He was out of oxygen.
Harry did the only thing he could think of doing.
Tom floated in the water, and felt the darkness creeping up on him. He was losing consciousness, and he knew it. When Harry had found him, he felt a surge of hope. He knew Harry would save him somehow.
His hands fell back from the vine/tentacle thing because he couldn't focus on them any longer. His world was getting darker and darker.
He looked down to see Harry again, one last look before he died. He wished he had told him he loved him. Wished he could tell Harry so many things, especially not to blame himself. He knew the sensitive young man would tear himself up with guilt for not saving him. He wished…
The darkness was closing in fast when he saw Harry's other pair of arms reach out and grab the tentacle, the four hands able to break its grip.
The blackness closed on him while he thought //Other pair of arms?//
Tom coughed, water flowing from his mouth. He felt himself being rolled on his side, as more water poured out. He kept coughing until he could breathe clearly again.
“Tom? Are you all right? Gods, let him be all right.”
“Harry? You know it would take more than that to get rid of me,” he said hoarsely.
“Oh thank the gods!” Tom felt Harry's arms come around him and something itched in his brain, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
“I couldn't beam you to Sickbay, so I had to do old fashioned mouth to mouth. I'm so glad it worked. I was so scared.”
“It's okay, Harry. I'm fine. Really. I just need to lay here a minute.”
“Should I call anyone?”
Tom smiled at him. “Do you want to explain what happened?”
Harry looked at him. “No, not really.”
“Okay then, just let me rest for a minute, and then we'll head back.”
Tuvok frowned when he saw them walking up. “Mr. Paris, it is 1905 hours. We have been waiting for more than an hour. What delayed you?”
Tom and Harry glanced at each other. “We found a lake and went to check it out,” Tom said. “We had hoped there would be dense vegetation, but it was a bust. We couldn't find anything edible.”
Tuvok's frown deepened. The furtive glances the Ensign and the Lieutenant were sharing seemed out of character.
“Where is the lake located?”
“About five and half kilometers..” Tom trailed off.
Tuvok arched an eyebrow. “I see. It took you an hour to walk an extra kilometer?”
“Uh. It was my fault, Tuvok.”
Tuvok shifted his gaze to the Ensign. “I, uh, fell into the lake.”
//Interesting. Ensign Kim is attempting to cover up something.// “Fascinating. Your clothes do not appear to be damp.”
“Uh, they dried on the way back.”
It all began to click within Tuvok's mind. The earlier indications of sexual tension were dramatically apparent between the two bridge officers now. Obviously more happened at the lake than they would like to admit.
//This should prove to be a fascinating display of human behavior.//
“Very well.” Tuvok gestured to the shuttle, giving in. “Lieutenant, please pilot us back to Voyager.” He did not miss the look of relief on both of their faces.
Back on board Voyager, Tom and Harry sat down to enjoy a dinner.
“I'm so glad we pooled our replicator credits and got dinner together. I couldn't stand the thought of Neelix's cooking tonight. I think I'd have nightmares of it jumping off the plate and grabbing me.”
Harry laughed. “That's reality, not a nightmare.”
“Harry, I want to thank you again for saving me.”
“It was nothing. You've saved my life plenty of times.”
“Yeah, but we never kissed beforehand,” Tom smirked.
“I'm sorry. I just thought…I just thought if you knew how I felt, you might let go. I care for you Harry, more than I would care for a friend.”
Harry felt his chest tightening up and his breathing was becoming rapid.
“Harry? Are you okay?”
Harry realized he was chanting “control” over and over again, while he struggled to keep himself in check.
“Tom…” he croaked.
Tom rushed around the table and wrapped his arms around him, staring at his face. “What's wrong, Harry?”
It was too much. Harry felt his control faltering. He had to get out. Had to get away. He couldn't be here, not in Tom's arms, not like this. He felt his legs changing, betraying him.
No! Gods! Tom couldn't see him! Not Tom! Not like this!
He shoved Tom away from him, throwing him down onto the floor. “No!” he yelled, racing for the bedroom, hoping he'd make it in time.
Tom sat on the floor stunned. His vision was blurry. He must have hit his head when he Harry pushed him. //What the hell?//
“Harry?” He tried to clear his vision and caught a blurry glimpse of Harry running to his bedroom. Harry's legs didn't look quite right. Tom shook his head, trying to get the last of the effects shaken loose. When he looked up again, the door to the bedroom was shutting.
Tom slowly got up, testing his legs, and then walked to the bedroom door. “Let's talk about this. Please.”
“Go away, Tom. I can't….I can't see you right now.”
“We've got to talk, Harry. We have to.”
“Please, Tom. Not now.”
“I'm sorry, Harry. I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”
“You don't understand. You don't understand. Just go, please.”
“I can't. I can't leave you. I love you Harry. I'm coming in.”
Tom entered, and saw Harry in that chair again, hugging his legs close, a blanket tightly wrapped around him.
“Tom, please go. I can't, I can't…” he slipped into his control mantra again. Tom's declaration of his love was more than he could stand.
“You've got to talk to me. I can't leave, knowing I've hurt you. I love you.”
“You don't love me!” Harry roared. “You don't even know who I am! How could you love me?”
“Of course, I know you. I've known you for four years. But I want to know more. I want to be with you.”
“No, no…” Harry said sobbing. “You don't know. You don't understand.”
Tom slumped down on Harry's bed. “Okay. Is it me, or do you just not like men?”
Harry looked up and saw Tom was hurt by all of this. That was the last thing he wanted to do. “Tom, it isn't you. I love you, damn it, but this can't happen. You don't understand.”
“If it is just that you've never been with a man, Harry, we can take it slow.”
“No! You don't get it. This can't happen. Just try to understand.”
“Explain it to me then.”
“Yes, you can. I trust you more than anything, Harry. Today, when I almost died, I knew you'd save me. I knew that because you were there, I'd be okay. I've wanted to tell you for so long how I feel, but I've been too afraid. You know me, I keep everything bottled up inside me. I don't want to do that anymore. Not with you. And I think you feel the same way about me.”
“You don't know what you are asking for. You don't know.”
“I don't care how dark your past is, Harry. It doesn't matter to me. Look at me, I've been thrown out of StarFleet, been a Marquis terrorist, a prison inmate, and more. I'm here for you. I've been to hell and back, and I don't intend to go anywhere else without you, unless you don't want me.”
“I do want you,” the words tore from Harry's lips. “But…”
He was stopped by Tom rising off the bed and pressing their lips together. It was a soft, gentle kiss, their lips only touching for a moment.
“Oh Tom. I want to tell you, I really do. But I can't.”
“I love you. You can tell me.”
“That's just it. I love you, but you don't love me. You can't love me.”
Tom chuckled. “I think I know my feelings about you better than you do.”
“I'm serious, Tom. I'm not who you think I am.”
Tom leaned in to kiss his forehead softly, brushing the hair back with his hand. “Then tell me.”
Harry's eyes squeezed shut again. Tom's kindness was torture for him. “Got to keep control. Have to keep my control. Can't lose my shape.”
Tom's memory of being under the water flashed back to him. Everything was dark, but he remembered looking at Harry. Remembered thinking about how much he loved him, as he watched Harry's second pair of arms reach out to grab the tentacle.
Harry heard Tom's gasp and quickly looked at his body, making sure it hadn't betrayed him. How could he live like this?
He saw Tom fall back to the bed, sitting on it once again.
“Harry? I just remembered something. And everything is sort of falling into place, but there are some things I don't understand.”
Harry froze. //He can't know! He can't!//
“You just said 'can't lose my shape'. That's it, isn't it?”
//He knows! How did he find out?//
“You're so afraid to lost control. It's because you're afraid I'll see something you don't want me to see, right? I think I've already seen.”
Harry felt like the wind had been knocked out of him.
“When I was drowning, I saw you. I saw your extra arms.”
//No! He was unconscious! I saw his eyes! He couldn't have seen!//
“I don't understand how or why, but somehow you had an extra pair of arms. Is that what you are so afraid I'd find out about?”
Harry was speechless.
Tom sat in silence for a few minutes, not looking at him, and shaking slightly. Then he heard a chuckle and turned to see a smile forming on Tom's face.
“I'm such a pervert, Harry. Here I've just realized there's a lot more to my friend than I've ever thought possible, and my first thought was how useful an extra pair of hands could be during sex.” Tom grinned. “You don't have extras of anything else do you?” he added with a leer.
“Harry, it's okay. I want to hear you explain, but I'll wait until you're ready.”
Tom stood up from the bed. “You can tell me anything. Nothing will change that. When you're ready, I'll be waiting.” Tom left the room.
When Harry heard the front door slide closed, he broke down into sobs.
Tom stood outside Harry's cabin, shaking badly. It had taken every ounce of his willpower to do what he had done. Playing that off as it was nothing was probably the hardest thing he'd ever done.
It had hit him hard. Realizing that his best friend, the man he loved, wasn't human had rocked him. He loved Harry, but dear gods, what was he?
Tom went to Sandrine's and shot game after game. B'Elanna was there, and he didn't have it in him to tease her. She looked at him strangely a few times.
“Tom, what's wrong? You haven't made a crack about the warp core all night.”
He forced a smile. “I've just decided to stop fighting fate, B'Elanna. I'm going to stop trying to win you away from your true love.”
B'Elanna smiled and moved closer. “Tom, that was bad, even for you.” She set her hand on his arm.
He jumped back, staring at her hand. //Damn it! It's B'Elanna! Not Harry!//
The thought jolted him. Was he really frightened of Harry?
“What is it, Tom?” B'Elanna showing concern was a rare sight.
He opened his mouth to make a crack and there was nothing there. He sighed. “I don't know, B'Elanna. I wish I knew.”
It was almost 0200 hours when Harry arrived at Tom's quarters. He'd been thinking all night, and decided his best friend, the man he loved, deserved the truth. No matter the cost.
He waited for Tom to answer the door, rather than walking in like he usually did. He didn't want to frighten him.
Harry saw the guarded look on Tom's face. “I know it's late, Tom. I just thought…”
“Okay. Come in.” Tom moved to the chair in the far corner of the room. The chair furthest away from him.
//He's afraid of me. I don't blame him.//
Harry took the chair nearest the door and took a deep breath.
“Tom, I've decided I can't lie to you anymore. I can't. I know you'll probably hate me when I'm done talking, but you deserve to know. You deserve the truth. You deserve more than me.”
“Harry. I don't know what to say,” Tom said, running his hands through his hair. “I want to say this doesn't matter, but I don't know.”
Harry shifted in his chair. “You're right. You don't know, that's why I'm going to tell you. I can't look at you when I say this though, and please don't say anything. No matter what. If you say anything, I don't think I'll be able to finish. Please?”
Harry curled his legs up into the chair, and looked at his hands. “I suppose you've realized by now that I'm not human.” He glanced up to see Tom's nod. “Okay. Like I said, I'm not human. I'm not even close to being human. I know the medical scans say I am, you've run some on me yourself when I've been injured. But, I'm not. Actually, I really wasn't even injured during those times. It is all part of the lie, the lie I've been living for so long.”
“I don't understand.”
“Tom, you will. Just listen, okay?” Harry took a deep breath. “I'm only a little over 6 years old. I was two when we met.” He glanced over and saw Tom's puzzled gaze. “I'm getting ahead of myself.” Harry swallowed. “I'm not Harry Kim, not the real one anyway. The real Harry Kim died while in StarFleet Academy. Of course, no one knows that he died. Harry Kim just went out on a training mission one day and never came back. I came back instead. That's when the lie started.
“I was only a few days old when it happened. I was designed to do this. I was born to this. This lie is all I've really ever known. My parents, if you can call them that, killed Harry Kim and put me in to replace him. It wasn't hard. Harry Kim had always been a loner, studying when he could have been socializing. He didn't have friends, just a few acquaintances. It was easy to assume his life. I kept up his studies, and graduated from StarFleet. I had been told to do well, but not too well. I was to have a strong record, but not draw too much attention to myself, at least not for a while.
“It was hard, living a lie. Knowing that if anyone ever found me out, I'd be killed instantly. It was hard too, because I was really enjoying this life. When I found Libby, it was wonderful. I had been told exactly when and where to find her. She was a… uh… replacement as well.
“You see, I was…am…a spy.”
Tom struggled not to say anything. This was so unbelievable, yet he believed every word. His Harry Kim was not his Harry Kim.
He was in love with a man who died six years ago.
“Libby was there to help me with my cover. My mission was to infiltrate StarFleet slowly, rising through the ranks so that I wouldn't gain any undue attention. It was expected to take years, of course, and because of…who I am…I couldn't have a… a human wife. It would have been too risky. So Libby and I were put there as a team. I would establish myself in StarFleet, and she'd be my wife. After I was established, she was to make her way through the political system and rise through the Federation. The two of us together would know everything, or that was the plan at least. Libby was the only one like me I'd ever met, at least since my first few days of life. That was until we got to DS-9, and I saw Odo.”
//No, this can't be true. It can't be true. He can't be!//
Tom remembered their brief stop at Deep Space 9, where he had first met Harry. Odo was the chief of security, a member of a race from the gamma quadrant. A race completely different than any other.
Odo was a shape-shifter.
“I know what you're thinking. Or at least I can guess. You don't want to believe it. But it is true. All of it, and I'm not done.”
Harry glanced over at Tom, his beautiful Tom, and saw the blank look on his face. Tom looked lost, and so very alone, and it was all his fault. He brought his gaze back down to his knees and went on.
“I know you remember Odo, and remember what he is capable of. Odo is a 'Founder.' The Founders dominate the Gamma quadrant. They even control the development of other races. They have genetically created their own warriors, their own negotiators, and more. If they don't create a race out of nothing, they take an existing species and alter it to their purposes. They can be brutal. They care nothing for 'solids', or non-shape shifters, except for what they can gain from them.
“The Founders want to control the Alpha quadrant as well as the Gamma quadrant. They say they want to bring order to it, provide stability, but what they really want to do it is dominate it and wipe out any possible threat. StarFleet, the Federation…it is a threat and they want it eliminated.
Harry paused for a moment. At first, the words were hard to speak, but now they tumbled out freely. He would tell Tom all of it. Hopefully before Tom killed him.
“I don't know how much you know about the Founders, but they have some limitations. They have to return to their solid form to regenerate. They can only hold their shape for a max of 20 hours or so before they lose it completely and return to their natural form. A spy would still have to regenerate, and that could cause problems. If they wanted a deep cover spy, the spy would have to be able to hold his shape longer.
“Like I said, the Founders have no problems doing genetic engineering. They even began experimenting on themselves, or on their children rather.” He stopped and laughed bitterly. “For thousands of years, the Founders have been sending their children off to remote places. Some parents. Supposedly, it is to let them learn. Someday, they are supposed to find their way home and rejoin the Great Link. That's what Odo was—a young changeling thrown out into space. He chose not to go back to the Founders like he was supposed to, at least as far as I know.
“Anyway, the Founders decided to do some genetic engineering on their offspring. They designed them to be able to hold their solid shapes longer. Normal changelings don't eat food, but an engineered changeling can, to provide the energy to hold its shape longer. Eventually though, it has to change back, but it can stay for weeks in its solid form. It was the perfect spy, just what they wanted.
“So, they made several of them,” he sighed. “Made several of us, I guess I should say. We were given our instructions in the Great Link and then sent to Earth, and a few other places, to begin our work. We were only a couple days old, but we were pumped full of information, information on how to act like a human, how to look like a human, especially the humans we'd been told to replace.
Tom was reeling. This had to be a joke. Harry couldn't be a changeling. He'd know. God damn it! He'd know!
He'd been his best friend for four years. He had fallen in love with him. Now Harry was telling him that he was actually a shapeless blob, an enemy of the Federation, hell, an enemy of the entire quadrant, a spy.
Gods, this can't be happening. This can't be happening.
“When we destroyed the Caretaker array, I felt more alone that I had ever felt in my life. I wondered if I'd ever see any of my kind again. If I'd ever be able to link again. It was torture.
“It took a long time, but eventually I settled in, and tried to accept my life. It was a lot harder to hide myself here, for lots of reasons. First, people here are so much closer than they are back home. You can't sneeze on this ship without 30 people asking you if you have a cold or something. That's another thing—getting sick or hurt. Everyone seems to get hurt around here at some point or another, so I had to get hurt too. I learned to allow my body to be injured, like everyone else. I couldn't just reshape it like I wanted to. It was a struggle, but I couldn't blow my cover.
“I didn't realize it for a while, but one morning I woke up and it hit me. I had friends, like you and B'Elanna. I had people who trusted me, believed in me. And I was a fraud. The guilt was terrible. But as time passed, I began to forget who I was. I became Harry Kim, in my thoughts, in my heart. I still knew I wasn't human, but that was so easy to ignore, to forget, at least for short periods of time.”
Harry risked looking at Tom again. He was pale and lifeless. Harry didn't know how much more he could take. “Do you want me to continue?” Harry was amazed at how easily he was saying all of this. He was feeling numb inside, but he wanted to get it all out. He had been hiding for too long.
He watched Tom's throat swell as he swallowed. When he spoke, his tone was flat. There was no emotion in it. “Keep going.” It hurt Harry so bad just to look at him. He knew he was driving a knife into the heart of the person he cared for the most. He pushed his feelings down and continued.
“It was hardest with you. You always looked at me with such trust, like I was the one constant thing in the universe, and that tore me up inside. I swore I was never going to hurt you.” He felt a tear sliding down his face. “And now I'm breaking that promise. I'm sorry.” He sniffed and tried to brace himself enough to continue.
“There were so many times I almost lost you. It scared me like nothing ever has, worse that when I thought I'd never see my people again. When you left Voyager to try and trap Seska's informant, I…I almost went with you. I thought I was losing you forever and I couldn't stand it. I was going to turn myself into something you wouldn't notice and just stay with you, making sure you were safe. I went…I went to do it when you were leaving. I was going to hide in one of your pockets, whatever it took. But I didn't expect Kes and Neelix to be there. I couldn't go with you. They would have seen me. It shouldn't have mattered since I didn't think I'd ever see them again, but I guess I was too scared. And so I only said goodbye.
“We've been through so much together, Tom. I feel so guilty because there were so many times I could have made things easier. When we were in prison, I was tempted. Things got so bad in there. But I kept thinking about being rescued and what would happen if we were. I didn't need for you to protect me, but it felt so good, and I feel ashamed about it. When you were hurt, it drove me out of my mind. Part of me wanted to run away and leave you there. It wouldn't…it wouldn't have been hard for me to go right back up the chute, or find another way out. But I couldn't leave you. It made me so angry, so angry that I couldn't just run away. I think…I think I almost killed you because I loved you so much. I want to think it was the clamp that drove me to that, but I don't know. I could feel the clamp trying to control me, but I could have shifted away from it at any time. If I had changed my shape, it wouldn't have been able to affect me.”
Harry kept his gaze on his knees, not wanting to risk seeing Tom's expression. He was surprised Tom hadn't killed him yet. How many times had Harry let Tom down, just because of his secret? Was it really worth it?
“I never wanted this. I never wanted to be what I am. I never wanted to risk anyone finding out. That's why I lamented over Libby for so long. Of course, I missed her. I missed linking with her. But it was also a good way to keep people away from me, to keep them at a distance so they wouldn't find out. But you would never stay away, and that made me so happy and so scared at the same time.
“I'm not a Founder now, Tom. I may have been for a couple days when I was first born, but I've lived in a human body so long that I don't know anything else now. I never want to make it back to the Alpha Quadrant. I never want to have my people come to me and ask me to destroy the Federation. I couldn't do that now. I'm too human.” He forced a laugh. “There's a joke. Me…human. Yeah, right.”
Harry looked at Tom, who was holding his face in his hands.
“Gods, Tom, I know I've hurt you so much. I'm so sorry. I wish I really was Harry Kim. I wish you could love me like you love him. I'm just a shadow…a traitor…a spy. But I can't live like this anymore. I couldn't keep lying to you. When you almost died down on the planet, and there was no other way, I had to do whatever it took to help you. It was all happening so fast, and I love you too much to let you die. But I also know that saving you will cost me my life, and I don't regret that. I would do it again. You are more important to me than anything, even my own life.
“I know you hate me. You have to. I've deceived you for so long. I know I don't deserve to ask anything of you, but I'm asking anyway. I want it to be you who shoots the phaser at me, Tom. I want you to take all that hate and pain and rage you feel for me and pull the trigger, so that you can move on, and not let it haunt you. You do that too much, and I can't stand to think how much I've hurt you. So many people have caused you pain, and you've never been able to fight back.”
Harry reached to his side, and pulled out the phaser and set it on the coffee table. “Please, Tom, right now. It is set for the highest setting. That should be enough to vaporize me. You know what StarFleet's orders are for changelings—kill on sight.”
Tom looked at the weapon on the table, and felt the urge to pick it up and wipe Harry…no, that THING!…out of existence forever. //How could he do this? How could he pretend to love me? Oh gods! This hurts so much!//
He felt the tears streaming down his face. When he spoke, it was a whisper, his throat too tight for anything else. “Why? Why did you do this to me? How could you pretend to be my friend. Pretend to love me? Pretend to care about me? How could you lie about everything? Why didn't you just stay away from me instead?”
“Tom, I never pretended. You have to believe me. I do love you, and I'm so sorry that I've hurt you. I love you more than life, which is why I want you to kill me, so that you can go on.”
“Go on! Go on! How do you expect me to go on? I've just found out that the man I loved has been lying to me, about everything, for the entire time I've known him. I loved you so much. Gods, this hurts so bad.”
“I'm so sorry, Tom. I'm so sorry. I want you to know that I do love you, and that I never pretended about that. You were the only thing that kept me sane for so long. Your friendship was all that kept me going. Not thoughts of going home, not thoughts of rejoining my people. Just you. Only you.”
Tom was sobbing now. “I need you to leave. I need you to leave right now.”
Harry stood up and picked up the phaser. He held it out to Tom.
“No! I can't! I can't! God help me I can't! Just get out! Get out!” Tom screamed at him.
Harry put the phaser back on the table, turned and then left the room.
Tom curled up into his bed. He hadn't cried since he was a kid, but the tears were flowing now, and he couldn't stop them.
He thought of killing himself just to end the pain, and thought of killing Harry to get even. Every now and then, he'd get a blessed moment of peace and there'd be no thought, just emptiness. But it wouldn't last long. He'd think of Harry laughing at one of his jokes, and the pain would tear at him again.
He remembered the first time he saw Harry on DS-9. He was young and shy, but so stunning, so perfect. It was like he had a glow to him. Innocent, trusting, naïve…Tom would have said all those words to describe him once. But not now, not now that he knew it was all an act, all a lie.
//How did he trick me so easily?//
//Because you were lonely and you needed a friend more than anything. And there was Harry, offering you everything you'd ever wanted. Trust, friendship, laughter. He was like a dream come true.//
//Damn! That's all he was…even back then. He was just a dream. Not even human.//
“What am I going to do?”
Part of him wanted to run to the captain and tell her everything and let her handle it. It was her ship; Harry was her officer. It was all her responsibility. She'd take care of everything. She always did.
But he knew he couldn't do that. That would be signing a death warrant for Harry, and that part of him that once loved him, might even still love him, wouldn't let that happen.
//10 days. How much longer?//
How long would it be before Tom came for him? He would have ended his life already, the guilt was incredible. He felt he didn't deserve to live. But he knew Tom would need to do it, need to release that anger. He held so much within him. Harry loved him too much, had already hurt him too much, to deny him his revenge. So, he waited.
The Bridge shifts were horrible. Tom sat at the conn, never looking at him. He'd see Tom in the mess hall and watch him immediately get up and leave. Harry stopped going to the mess hall after a while. He didn't want Tom to stop eating because of him.
He spent his evenings alone. B'Elanna dropped by a few times and tried to get him to go to Sandrine's, but he refused. He kept telling her to ask Tom instead, but she said he wouldn't go either. She said she was worried about the two of them. He couldn't tell her what happened. How could he?
Harry just continued to wait.
Tom sat on his couch eating tomato soup. There was something that was soothing about it. It had never failed to relax him, until 10 days ago.
He kept trying, each night having a single bowl, hoping that it would bring that comfortable, safe feeling back. 10 days of failures.
//What am I going to do?//
He hadn't thought about a decision so much ever in his life. His attitude towards decisions was just to pick an option quickly and move on. That's probably why we wound up making so many bad ones. Caldik Prime, StarFleet, the Marquis, and prison…where would it stop?
He wished he'd never found out. Wished he'd fallen for a Delaney sister, no matter irritating they could be. Heck, he even wished that things had worked out with B'Elanna. Why Harry?
He weighed his choices carefully. Harry had asked for death, but could he really do it? And was that the easy way out?
Tom gripped the phaser so tightly he thought it would break. He had finally reached his decision. He entered when the door slid open.
He looked at Harry, who stood up from his chair. Harry didn't beg, didn't plead. He was just waiting.
Tom threw the phaser at him, hitting him squarely on the chest. “How dare you! How dare you ask me to kill you! You bastard.”
He saw Harry's confused look. “How am I supposed to kill you? God damn it!” He collapsed into a heap on the floor. “I still love you. God help me, I still love you.”
“You can't. You know what I am. You can't love me.”
“I know. I know…and gods, it doesn't change the last four years. It doesn't change that you saved my life more times than I'd care to admit. It doesn't change the fun we've had playing pool in Sandrine's. It doesn't change the conversations we've had over dinner. It doesn't change you.”
“Yes, it does, Tom. You aren't thinking clearly. I'm not who you thought I was. You were in love with someone my people killed six years ago.”
“No. I never met that Harry Kim. You're the only Harry Kim I've ever known. Your past doesn't matter. I tell myself every morning when I wake up that my past doesn't matter. I tell myself that I'm here on Voyager now and that I'm a different person. If mine doesn't matter, then neither does yours.”
“Tom, look at me. Look at me, damn it!”
He looked up and saw Harry standing in front of him, tears streaming down his face.
“You need to see me. You need to see what I am so you'll understand.”
Tom watched as Harry's flesh melted and disappeared, replaced by an orange-gold liquid, glowing with energy. It still had the same shape as Harry for a moment, and then sank into a puddle on the floor, undulating slowly, moving out of the clothes it was encased within. Tom couldn't tear his eyes from it.
He watched as a tendril rose up out of it, thickening as it rose. It was soon a column, which widened, forming arms and legs, and facial features. Then the flesh rose, slowing forming and Harry was Harry again, standing naked before him.
“Do you see now, Tom? Do you understand? You can't love me.”
Tom stood up and walked towards him. He closed his eyes and put his hand on Harry's shoulder. If it was like it had always been, he'd know that he made the right decision. When he felt that jolt, that feeling of energy traveling up his arm, he knew. “No, you don't understand. You are still Harry.”
“No, you listen to me. I listened to you. You are the only one who has ever stood by me through everything. The only one who has been my friend through everything. You're willing to give your life to me. So I'm taking it. Your life is mine, and I refuse to let it go. I won't. I won't let you die, and I'm certainly not going to kill you. I love you.”
Tom listened to his words, stunned at what came out of him. //Dear Gods, there is hope for us, isn't there?//
“Harry, I just need time. I need things to be normal for a while. Just you and me and the damn Delta Quadrant. Okay?”
The next two months passed slowly. Tom slowly reconstructed their friendship, realizing that nothing had really changed. It had taken him two whole weeks before he could stop jumping when Harry touched him. Those innocent pats on the back had been a stumbling block. But as time passed he could touch Harry on the shoulder without thinking about it, and not even tense up when Harry did the same to him.
Tom smiled over at Harry, who had just flubbed another shot. B'Elanna pounced on the table, sinking her last ball. “Gotcha, StarFleet.” He watched Harry smile at her and concede his smashing defeat. //He's so damn cute.//
He laughed as Harry tried to transfer over some of his replicator credits.
“B'Elanna, we agreed. Just take them.”
“Nah, StarFleet, it wasn't even a challenge.” B'Elanna was laughing and smiling.
“B'Ela, if I didn't know you were in love with the warp core, I'd swear you were flirting with Harry.”
Her gaze flashed over at him. “Watch it, FlyBoy.” She pantomimed squeezing his nuts again. “I won't be so gentle this time.”
“Uh, Harry? Save me.”
Harry laughed and pulled him away towards the bar. “Rack 'em, B'Elanna. I'm just taking Tom to the bar to get a drink.”
“Leave him there, StarFleet.”
When they reached the bar, Tom whispered down into Harry's ear. “You know, you're pretty cute for a puddle of goo.” It was only this week that Tom had found himself able to tease Harry about it. He loved that Harry blushed when he did.
“You just got cuter.” He pulled Harry's hand and led him towards a dark corner of Sandrine's. In the darkness, he pulled Harry's face towards him. //Am I really going to do this?//
He looked into Harry's face, which was hidden in shadow. //Yes, I am.//
He lowered his lips and touched them to Harry's. It was their first kiss since the planet, since everything changed. When Harry's lips moved against his, Tom flashed back to the lake. He remembered watching his bronze body walking into the water, the feel of Harry's wet body in his arms, the feel of their lips touching.
Then he was back in the present, and his heart was pounding. Part of it was fear, part of it was passion. He let himself be drawn into the kiss, feeling his lips crushing against Harry's.
He wrapped his arms around Harry's body, pulling him closer. For a moment, it was perfect. Then he felt Harry's erection pressing into him, and felt his own pressing back. He broke the kiss and stepped back.
“I'm sorry. I…”
“Tom, it's okay. We can take this at whatever speed you want.”
“I'm not quite ready yet.”
“I understand. How about we go shoot some pool?”
Tom smiled at him. “I'd like that. But I think we should wait a few minutes. I should have worn baggy pants tonight.”
Harry chuckled at him. “Well, B'Elanna's not going to wait much longer. I'll head back and you can meet me there.”
“But you have one too.”
“One of the advantages of being a changeling.” He chuckled. “If thine nose offends thee, cut it off. Or however that goes.”
“You…you…” //He couldn't! Oh Gods, he could!//
“You know, it is becoming so easy to tease you. I never thought I'd leave you speechless.” He smiled and leaned in to kiss Tom gently. “From what I can see, you just lost your problem.” He grinned.
Tom had to grin as well. Harry had solved both their problems.
They walked back to the pool table where B'Elanna was waiting. “Hey? Where are the drinks? And I thought you were going to ditch that loser, StarFleet.” She was laughing.
“Harry, do you have another name?”
“Harry is the only one I've ever had.”
“Good, I like it.” Tom glanced at the pile of clothes scattered around the room, clothes they had just taken off. He glanced at Harry's jacket lying on the arm of the couch, inches from his face. “You know, I just thought of something. Why don't you just form clothes like Odo does? Why do you wear real ones?”
Harry chuckled. “At a time like this, a time I've been dreaming of for four long years, you are wondering about clothes? Sheesh. I feel wanted.” Harry raised his head and waited until Tom kissed him gently on the lips. “The first time I was in Engineering and everyone took off their jackets because of the heat and I couldn't, I realized there was a problem. It wasn't like I could just disconnect a part of myself and leave it over there in a pile with the rest of the jackets. I figured it would probably happen again, and rather than get weird looks from the crew for not blending in, I decided to be as human-like as possible…which means being naked under real clothes.”
Tom slid his hand inside Harry's briefs. “So I guess I have to take these off then, huh?” Tom pulled the material down cautiously at first, and then sped up as need swelled within him. He stared at Harry's dick.
“So…was the original Ensign Kim this well hung?” Tom watched the blush rise in Harry's cheeks. Just like it always had when he had been embarrassed. “I didn't think so. Couldn't resist making a few improvements, huh?” Tom chuckled and ran his fingers along Harry's thick cock. “I approve of your efforts.” He wrapped his palm around it and started stroking it tenderly.
“Tom, I'm not sure. I don't know if I'll be able…”
“To keep your shape? Like I said a long time ago, I think an extra pair of hands could be really helpful during sex.” He stroked Harry's cock, feeling it harden even more in his hands. “Harry,” he whispered “when you are like this, you feel everything right?”
“Yes, oh yes. In this shape, I'm as human as you are.”
“That's all I needed to know.” Tom wiggled his way down the couch and slipped Harry's cock between his lips.
Tom pulled off after a few sucks and chuckled. “Not too much bigger, Harry, or it isn't going to fit!”
Harry pulled Tom to his feet and dragged him into the bedroom. His mind was still whirling. He couldn't believe Tom accepted him, loved him, was willing to touch him even. It was like a fantasy made real. He'd been happy enough during the past weeks when he and Tom and gotten to know each other again. Tom's friendship was more than enough, more than he deserved. This, Tom offering himself like this, it was too much…and yet he wanted more.
He pushed Tom down onto the bed. “Computer, lights off.”
“But, Harry, I want to see you,” Tom whined.
“Not this time, love. This time you are going to feel me. Put your hands up above you head and keep them there. Don't move them.”
“I don't know if I can do that. I don't think I can hold back and not touch you.”
“Just this once. I've wanted to explore your body for so long that I can't wait. Just let me do this.” He put every ounce of need and lust into his voice, imploring Tom to do this for him.
“Okay, I'm all yours.”
Harry shuddered. He loved this man so much, this man who was willing to give himself up to him.
Harry eased down, lying beside Tom on the bed. He bent his head in for a gentle kiss, which grew hot and passionate. He let his tongue slip between Tom's lips, and sighed when he got access inside. He ran his tongue along Tom's, and then slid around to explore the rest of Tom's mouth.
He brought his hand to Tom's nipple and squeezed it softly, and then with more pressure. Tom was squirming beneath his touch. “Please Harry, more.” He continued kissing him, continuing to twist the nipple with his fingers. It wasn't long before Tom was panting, begging for him. Harry kept kissing him, now using both hands to pinch Tom's nipples. Tom arched his back in pleasure. “Harry, touch me more.”
Harry moved to straddle Tom, and then generated a second set of arms, letting them slide down Tom's chest. He continued kissing him, and pinching both nipples. When the second pair of hands grabbed Tom's cock and balls, he gasped.
“Oh God, Harry. This is unreal.”
“Well, you wanted to know what a second pair could do. Interested in a third?”
“Oh fuck, Harry. I want it all.”
Harry reached out with another tendril and slid it between Tom's legs. It was small and thin, but after entering, gradually thickened, spreading Tom open wide.
“I feel like I'm in bed with the whole crew, Harry. This is incredible.”
Harry chuckled. “I'm only just beginning. I've been dreaming about this for years.”
Harry let his form go completely.
Tom shuddered as the warm liquid spread all over him. He was soon encased in it, everything but his mouth, allowing him to breathe, to pant…to beg. He began to feel it move against him, like a million tiny tongues, licking him everywhere at once. His ear lobes, his nipples, his cock.
“Oh Harry! Oh my god!”
He felt suction on his cock, and on his fingers, and on his neck. A million mouths all determined to taste him.
“Harry, how are you doing this? Oh Gods! That feels like…I can't even describe it. Oh Gods!”
He felt Harry manipulating the tendril in his ass, finding his prostate, and prodding it, massaging it, caressing it. Tom felt his balls, which somehow were also encased in a mouth, tighten. His cock was pistoned by something like a hand, licked by several tongues, and the tip sucked on by a determined mouth. It was too much. He screamed out Harry's name and exploded inside the cocoon that was Harry.
Harry lazily reformed himself and lay along Tom's panting body. “Harry, I never knew…I never expected…I thought about the arms…I never thought…Wow”
Harry chuckled. “Next time will be even better.”
“I don't think anything could be better than that, Harry.”
“Well, I'm just hoping you'll last longer than a minute and twelve seconds next time,” Harry teased.
Tom gaped. “That's all it was? It felt like an eternity, the most incredible eternity anyone could ever have.”
Harry sagged a little next to Tom.
“What's wrong, baby? What did I say?”
“It's nothing. I'm okay.”
“Bullshit. You said that before and it wasn't true. You can tell me. If I can handle the love of my life turning into a pile of goo, I think I can handle just about anything.”
“I love you, Tom. I really do. You are everything I could ever hope for, except…”
“Except I'm not like you.”
“Yeah,” Harry said sadly.
“What is like when you…I mean…people like you…I mean…oh hell…I don't know how to say it so I'm just going to say it. What's it like when two gooey blobs get hot and heavy?”
Harry chortled at Tom's description at first, and then grew somber. “It's beyond anything you can imagine, Tom. I loved making you happy, and in this body, you'll be able to make me happy…but nothing will ever compare.”
“I'm sorry, Harry.”
“It's okay. I'm actually happier right now than I've been in four years. I've dreamed of getting you into my bed all this time…”
“Well, you certainly weren't obvious about it.”
“Not obvious? Not obvious? Why do you think I've been walking around with a sausage between my legs?”
“Ah, for me? How sweet. You know what Harry? That reminds me. This time it's my turn. Well, in a few minutes anyway, and I want you, in this body this time. After that, you can have your gooey way with me.” Tom chuckled and then sobered. “I know it won't be as good as you want it, but I'll try.”
“Tom, you are all I want.”
“No, Harry, I'm not. But I'll try.”
The next morning, Harry sat in the mess hall with Tom. Breakfast was crunchy this morning, and was actually edible. Of course, their smiles weren't from the food alone.
B'Elanna set her tray down at their table and took a seat. “All right, what's going on. Tom never smiles in the morning.”
“We're fine, B'Elanna. We're just in a good mood.”
“I can see that. You two are smiling like you just had sex.”
Tom froze. Harry blushed.
“Oh my god. I can't believe it. Was that what that was all about a few months ago? When you wouldn't talk to each other? Sex?”
Tom got his voice back first. He reached out and placed his hand on top of Harry's and gave it a soft squeeze. “Not sex. Love.”
B'Elanna's smile grew larger.
“Not that the sex wasn't great, mind you.” Tom had fully recovered and was entering teasing mode. “B'Elanna, you should have dated Harry while you had the chance. He can do the most amazing things with his mouth…”
“Tom!” Harry looked at him horrified.
B'Elanna laughed conspiratorially. “I think you'll have to meet me alone to tell me that one, Tom.”
“Chakotay to Torres.”
“We need you in Engineering, B'Elanna. A gel pack just exploded.”
B'Elanna groaned and looked at the food on her plate sadly. “It actually looked good this morning.”
“What was that B'Elanna?”
“Nothing important. I'm on my way.” She looked at the two of them.
“You know, it is kind of odd that the Captain and Chakotay aren't here eating. Chakotay's already running around the ship.”
“Maybe they had an early breakfast…in her quarters,” Tom said, with a lazy touch of sensuality in his voice.
“Tom, stop it!” Harry said.
“You never know, StarFleet. They could have gotten awfully close when they were stranded on that planet together. Anything is possible. Look at the two of you. Who would have guessed?” She laughed. “I know I wouldn't have. Anyway, I'll see the two of you later. And Tom, feel free to drop by Engineering… without Harry.” She laughed deviously.
“Count on it, B'Elanna.” Tom chuckled as he walked away, until his gaze found Harry's terrified face. “Harry?”
“You can't tell her! Oh God, I never thought you'd tell anyone.”
“Harry, relax. I'm not telling her anything. We're just teasing like we've always done. Do you honestly think I'd tell her the truth?”
Harry relaxed visibly. “No, I guess I just panicked. I've never had to worry about anyone else letting it slip. I'm sorry.”
“Don't worry. You can make it up to me.” Tom smirked.
“I plan to.”
“I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted.”
“I can't move.”
“Get us something from the replicator.”
“I told you, I can't move.”
Tom rolled over and snuggled against him. They were making love with Harry as a human almost all the time now. Tom felt better knowing that he could bring Harry at least some pleasure that way. When Harry was a…well, a blob, it was kind of hard to tell if he was getting anything out of it. Tom was sure that he didn't.
“That was evil of you, you know.”
Harry smirked. “You deserved it.”
“All that time I never even thought about you forming yourself into another person. I never even suspected it.”
Harry chuckled. “You should have seen your face when 'Chakotay' told you that your recent performance was lacking and that the captain had reinstated corporal punishment.”
Tom had to laugh also. “When he told me to pull down my pants and bend over to receive my punishment…I almost died.”
Harry was laughing almost as hard now as he had earlier. “I could tell. I just kept hitting my hand with that paddle, waiting for you to strip. It was priceless.”
Tom crawled on top of him. “You are an evil, devious, mean person.”
“But you love me anyway.”
Tom sighed. “You are just too lovable. I can't help it. But if you EVER do that again…I'll…I'll pour you into a cup and tell Neelix you are soup!”
Harry chuckled. “Well, at least I'd taste better than the normal fare.”
Tom bent down and kissed him, then raised his head and licked his lips. “Okay…I give you that one.”
Three weeks later, their lives were still bliss. Harry couldn't believe that he had ever resisted telling Tom about himself. He would have missed out on all of this. If only he could tell him the rest. He had dreams about it, fantasies about it, but it would never happen. He couldn't let Tom do that, and he thought Tom actually might do it, which scared him.
“Hey yourself.” Harry could tell something was on Tom's mind. “Spill it.” Harry was so adept at reading him now that it was pointless for Tom to try and hide anything. He never could.
Tom looked at him and sighed. “Harry, I feel guilty.”
“Keeping a secret from the captain.”
Harry winced. He had known this conversation would come. Tom was ultra-loyal to the captain. “I can't tell her, Tom. She'd throw me off the ship, or kill me on the spot.”
“No, I don't think she would. Not if came up to her and told her, rather than having her find out accidentally some day. She'll understand if you explain it to her, just like I did. I'll help you explain it to her.”
Harry shook his head. “She's the captain of this ship. This StarFleet ship. You know, StarFleet, the people my kind are trying to destroy. It would be shoot first, ask questions later.”
“You know that's not true. She's never been that way. Hell, Harry, we have a former Borg living on our ship. The Borg almost eradicated us. The Dominion may be scary, but not that scary. Not yet anyway. At least they weren't when we left. Besides, the Gamma quadrant is a long way away from here. And you can't live like this forever. You need to be able to be who you are.”
“I know this is eating you up inside, but I can't tell her. I can't risk it. What if I lost you? What if she dumped me on some planet and left me there? I couldn't bear to be without you.”
“I'd stay with you.”
“No, you wouldn't. I wouldn't let you. I love you too much.”
“Harry, you couldn't stop me.”
“Please, you have to understand. My people can live almost anywhere. We require no food per se and can tolerate extremes no human could hope to survive in.”
“No, you have to understand me. I will not leave you, ever.”
Harry looked at him sadly. “Someday you will.”
“Not for as long as I live.”
“I know, and that is what scares me.”
“Tom, I love you so much. When I lose you, I'll lose my mind.”
“WHEN you lose me? How do you know I'll go first?”
“Tom, even if you live a long healthy life, you'll still go first.”
“You can't know that.”
“I know that. If we are together for the next hundred years, when you die, I'll still be considered a child by my people.”
“We live very long lives. Thousands of your years. If we're careful, it can be tens of thousands.”
Tom collapsed onto the couch in shock. “Thousands?”
“Yes. And it kills me inside to know that I'll only have you for a few short years. Every time I see you, I want to memorize every detail, every part, so that I'll be able to remember you forever.”
“Why do I feel like I've just been hit by a photon torpedo?”
“It's okay, Tom. Nothing has changed between us.”
“I know. You're right. I just never though about it. I thought we'd grow old and gray together.”
“I can age my appearance. We will grow old and gray together.”
“But after I'm gone, you'll just move on.” Tom said flatly. “My entire life will just be a moment to you.”
“No! Never!” He grabbed Tom by the shoulders and stared into his eyes. “Your life, no matter how long I live, will be the happiest time of my life.”
“You can't say that Harry.” Tom shook his head. “What if some pretty little amoebae swims by?” His teasing was back, and Harry was relieved.
“I'd ask it if it was your cousin!” Harry shot back.
“Hey! You're the blob around here.”
“But you're the slob!”
Tom tackled him and pinned him to the floor. “You, my love, will pay for that.”
Harry let his shape go and melted out of Tom's grip. He formed a mouth to laugh after Tom yelled “No fair!”
“Computer, location of Lieutenant Paris?”
“Lieutenant Paris is in his quarters.”
Chakotay grabbed the data pad off his desk and stormed down to the turbolift.
//Paris will not get away with incomplete reports like this.//
He entered Paris's quarters when he heard the younger man yell out “Come in.”
Chakotay watched as Paris jumped up from his seat on the couch when he realized who was in his quarters.
“Lieutenant. Your recent performance has been lacking. These reports do not meet StarFleet standards by any means.”
He watched as Tom smiled at him, when he should have been scowling. //He's acting strange.//
“*Commander*, I'm so sorry.”
Chakotay was becoming more confused by the second. “Lieutenant, apologies are not enough. Your performance…”
“Oh, *Commander*, let me try to improve my performance.”
//What the hell?//
He watched as Tom walked towards him, too close. He took a step back and bumped against the door. “Paris, what are you doing?”
“Just improving my performance, *Commander*. I know the real Chakotay wouldn't come here, he'd summon me to his office.”
//The real Chakotay?//
Chakotay froze when he saw Tom leaning towards him. He felt lips on his neck, and a hand massaging his groin. He stood there stunned for a moment.
He pushed Tom back. “What the hell are you doing, Lieutenant?” he bellowed.
He noticed Tom blinking, the expression changing on his face. “Oh Gods, you're him. You're not…Oh Gods!” He saw Tom swallow with difficulty. “My apologies, Commander. I was…confused.”
Chakotay blinked. //He's confused?// He cleared his throat. //I've got to get out of here.// “You are confined to quarters, Lieutenant.”
He reached out to hit the door controls without taking his eyes off Tom. He didn't stop staring until the door slid closed. Then he realized he was standing in the corridor with a partial erection.
//Damn the man!// He adjusted his uniform, shoving his cock down, and hurried to his quarters. //Damn him!//
“You did what?”
“I thought he was you.” Tom was laughing now, the initial shock had worn off. “He came in and said 'Paris, your recent performance has been lacking' like you did a couple weeks ago. I thought you were playing with me again.”
“So you kissed him? And groped him?”
Tom ducked his head sheepishly. “I only kissed him on the neck. And my hand was only there for a few seconds.”
Harry gulped. “I can't believe you did that. What did he do?”
Tom chuckled mischievously, “Jealous?”
“Well, yeah. But I'm also wondering how long it will be till he comes to kill you.”
“Wanna know a secret?”
“Spill it!” Harry demanded. He stopped for a minute. “You…you aren't attracted to him, are you?”
Tom pulled him down onto the couch and snuggled against him. “Harry, you know I love you. Chakotay's cute, in a rugged sort of way, but he does not have your, uh, *finer attributes*.” He kissed him on the cheek while he squeezed his groin.
“So, that's all you want me for, huh? Great sex?”
“Hey! Who said anything about great?”
Harry twisted him around and stretched out on top of him. “Excuse me?”
“Not great, Harry. Incredible. Awesome. Earth Shattering. Fantastic. Superb.” He kissed Harry's neck between words.
“Okay, that's better. Uh, Tom, are you going to tell me the secret before I, uh…that feels good, before I, oh yeah, before I fuck it out of you?”
Tom bit him softly. “Here's the secret,” he whispered, “Chakotay got a woody.”
Tom stood behind him as he brushed his hair, messing it up as Harry tried to straighten it out.
“Do you have to go?”
“Tom, you know I do.” He turned and pulled Tom into his arms. “You could have come with me if you didn't have an appointment with the doctor.”
Tom chuckled and rubbed his naked body against Harry's uniform. “I can't believe he's making me see the doctor for a physical.”
“You threw yourself at the man, talked about the 'real' Chakotay, and grabbed his crotch. I'm not surprised he wants the doctor to check you out.”
He watched Tom's face light up as he smiled. //Gods, I love this man.//
“When will you be back?”
“It's too cold to stay down there very long. Tuvok says a storm front will be moving in soon, so I don't have a lot of time. If we weren't so low on dilithium, I wouldn't have to go down at all.”
“Why you though?” Tom whined, and rubbed up against him again.
“Because B'Elanna is working on the warp core.”
“Sure she is. She just doesn't want to go.”
“Tom, stop. I've got to go. I'll be back soon.”
“Captain, we can't leave him down there!”
“Tom, we are trying everything we can. It's been 36 hours since we lost contact, and the planet has below freezing temperatures. We can't find any signs of Harry, of any humanoid life.”
She saw Tom's eyes brighten for a moment. “Captain, I need a favor, and I can't explain why. I need you to trust me.”
The captain looked at him suspiciously. “What's the favor?”
“I need to transport down to the surface.”
“Absolutely not. You won't last more than an hour in that cold. You can't hope to find Harry in an hour.”
“I know. But Harry will find me.”
“Please, Captain? The Doc can monitor my vitals, and if I start to drop below the minimum safety levels, you can transport me back.”
She recognized the look on his face. It was the “if you don't give me permission, I'll find a way to go anyway, and I don't want to disobey you” look. //Damn.//
“All right. But not for an hour. 30 minutes. No more.”
“Thank you, Captain!” he said, running out the door.
“Dismissed”, she whispered when the door shut behind him. “Bring him back, Tom. Bring him back.”
Tom materialized on the surface, and started shivering instantly. He'd never been in weather so cold.
“Harry! Where are you?” he yelled out, his voice muffled by the snow and wind.
He began walking, trudging through the huge snow drifts. He kept calling until his voice was hoarse.
“Harry! Please, answer me!”
His comm badge chirped. “Paris here.”
“Mr. Paris, your vitals are approaching the minimum safety threshold. We will need to transport you back soon.”
“How much longer?”
“Five minutes at the most. You have already been down there over 20 minutes.”
“Understood. Paris out.”
“Harry! Harry! Oh Gods, Harry!”
He saw a cave along one of the hillsides and thought that if Harry had gone anywhere, that probably would be the spot. He had five minutes, and he better make the best of it.
His comm badge chirped again. “Paris here” he said through frozen lips.
“Stand by for transport, Mr. Paris. You're vitals have gone to low.”
“No! I just need a few more minutes!”
“I'm sorry, Mr. Paris. I had hoped you would find him. Stand by for transport.”
“No!” Tom grabbed his communicator and threw it as far as he could. “I will not leave him!”
He was barely moving when he reached the cave. He shined his light inside, but couldn't see the back. It was obviously a deep cave. He entered, and escaped the freezing wind for a minute. He knew Voyager would find him eventually, but the weather conditions would make it harder without his comm badge. He had gained a little time.
He fired his phaser on a low setting to heat up some of the rocks. It wouldn't provide much warmth, but he needed some just to keep moving.
As he fired, he didn't see the shape moving up from the back of the cave.
When he turned his light back to the recesses of the cave, he saw it. A large white shape moving towards him. It was hairy, with long white fur hanging around it, and looked somewhat feline. The teeth on it were enormous.
“Please God, let it be him. Harry?”
As the shape neared, it began to lose its form. The familiar orange-gold pattern was visible.
“Oh Gods! Harry! I knew I'd find you. I knew you'd find me!”
“Tom! You can't be here! You'll freeze!” Harry was standing naked in front of him now.
“So will you if you stay like that.”
“Oh, I didn't think.” Harry's body shifted into liquid for a moment, and then reappeared in heavy winter clothing, similar to Tom's. “You have to go back. I'll come with you if they can get a lock on me. But you have to go back.”
“Uh… there's a bit of a problem there. They were going to transport me up before I found you, and I threw my comm badge away so they couldn't. But they'll find me eventually. If you stay in your human shape, they'll find you, too. I knew you wouldn't stay human down here, it would be impossible. And I couldn't tell them to look for anything else without revealing your secret.”
Harry came up and hugged him. “You stupid bastard. I love you.”
“You're welcome,” Tom smirked.
“So how long do you think?”
“With the weather getting worse every second, it'll screw up the sensors. Probably a couple hours.”
“You can't last that long, Tom. Even in here. Another half hour, tops.”
“I know.” Tom said sadly. “I took too long. But we always knew I'd go first, and I couldn't just leave you here.”
“Tom, you knew I'd be okay.”
“But you'd be here all alone.”
“Tom, if you die here, I'll still be all alone, and I'll feel guilty for the rest of my life…and you know that will be almost forever.”
“I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't think. I just had to be here with you.”
Harry gathered him in his arms. “I know, Tom. I know.”
They sat huddled together, and when Tom's shivering started again, Harry turned himself into a thick blanket and wrapped himself around Tom.
“Thanks, Harry. But it isn't enough, and you know it. I'd rather be able to talk with you, and hold you in my arms.”
Harry reformed himself. “Tom, I…”
“Don't say anything, Harry, unless you are going to tell me you love me.”
“I love you.” Tears streamed down his cheeks.
“I love you, too.”
Harry just held him in his arms for a few minutes and finally forced words to come out of his mouth. “Tom, there's something…there's something I can do. It's risky. More than that actually, you'll probably die from it. But I don't know what else to do.”
Tom struggled to turn his head to look at him. He barely formed the words. “I don't think it makes much difference now, Harry. I'll die either way. We both know Voyager isn't going to find us in time.”
“Not unless…not unless it works.”
“What works?” Tom's teeth clicked against each other while he spoke.
“I told you they genetically altered me.” He paused. “Well, there was something I didn't tell you. Because it was so awful.”
Tom just waited. There wasn't much else he could do.
“I…I was given a means of defending myself. It's horrible, Tom. I can't believe I'm even thinking of doing this to you.” Harry wiped his face dry with hands. “I don't know if I can do it.”
“I don't want to…I don't want to die, Harry.” He tried not to plead, but the fear was settling in. He knew he didn't have much longer.
“Gods, Tom. I don't want to live with out you.” Harry wrapped Tom tighter in his arms. “If I lose you…”
“I don't have a lot of time. I know that. Tell me.”
Harry took a deep breath. “If things started going badly, like someone found out my secret something like that, I was supposed to do whatever it took to get them out of the way. As a last resort, I had a way to throw them off my trail.”
“Harry, can I have the short version?”
“Sorry, I was being stupid. It's a genetic virus. When it comes into contact with organic material, it attacks the existing DNA sequences and recodes them.”
“I don't get it, Harry. Why?”
“Just wait a minute. I'm not finished. It restructures them to match a changeling.”
“Wait. Are you saying it turns a person into a changeling?”
“No, not necessarily. Most of the time, it kills them and leaves behind the 'body' of a changeling. The person is dead though, and the material looses cohesion, and then there is only the residue. If things got bad, I could inject someone, and then notify the authorities of a suspected changeling. It would take the suspicion off of me and they'd have a changeling, or what was left of one, to blame everything on.”
“I know. But the Founders aren't a kind race. They will do anything it takes.”
“So, why do you want to do this to me? I still don't understand.”
“I said, “most of the time” it doesn't create a changeling. But it can.”
“What? All this time…all this time you could have turned me into a changeling, and you never did it. Given me near immortality, given me the chance to link with you, to change shapes. You could have given me everything and you didn't do it? Why?”
“I couldn't, Tom. If it was that simple, I would offered it to you long ago. It is just that it's dangerous, Tom. There's a good chance you won't live through it. They tested it on some prisoners they captured from the Alpha Quadrant… some humans, some Bajorans, a few Cardassians. When they reached the final testing stages, they injected the virus into 100 subjects. 97 of them died. Only 3 Cardassians survived the process.”
“No. That's why I wouldn't tell you, Tom. I was too afraid you'd want it and I'd lose you. I couldn't let that happen.”
“I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten angry. I don't want to be angry with you. Not now. Not when we don't have a lot of time left together. It doesn't really matter, Harry. I'm not a Cardassian, in case you hadn't noticed.”
“I know. Just listen. Cardassians have really low body temperatures, but still manage to tolerate a lot of heat, probably because they descended from some sort of reptile. When the recoded cells start multiplying and replacing the existing cells, there is a lot of heat generated. It raises the heat beyond what most life forms can live through.”
“I think I get it. If I can stay cold enough, I might have a chance.”
“That's what I'm hoping. I don't know what else to do. I won't do it unless you want me to…I'm just so afraid I'll lose you.”
Tom closed his eyes and didn't say anything. “Tom? Tom!” Harry panicked.
“It's okay. I was just thinking. I want you to wait as long as possible, Harry. Maybe Voyager will find us in time. How long does it take?”
“About 90 minutes, give or take, or that's what I was told anyway.”
“If Voyager finds us before it's over, they'll find out.”
Harry smiled at him. “They'll know even if it is after. It'll be a day or two before you'll be able to form anything…even with help from me.”
“You sound confident.”
“I love you. I can't be anything else.”
Tom was barely aware that Harry let his shape go. He saw a tendril coming towards his ear, but couldn't focus on it.
He screamed. Harry was pushing inside him, inside his head, inside his brain, and the pain was unbearable. He would have blacked out, but the pain was too severe, which seemed like a contradiction. It wouldn't even let him sink into oblivion.
Then he felt the tendril pulling back, but there was a strange pressure inside his head. It was growing. The tendril pulled back and slipped out. He was barely conscious of Harry reforming next to him.
“It's done. I love you.”
Tom nodded, and then screamed as the pressure surged, feeling like his head was going to explode. He felt liquid, blood probably, dripping from his nose and his ears.
Harry was rocking him, holding him tightly. “I love you. I love you.” Harry was repeating it over and over.
Tom screamed again as his eyes burst.
Harry was sobbing. His lover was being destroyed piece by piece, and he was the cause. “Please, Tom…hold on. Make it through. I love you.”
He looked down at his lover's face, a bloody soup now. The virus was brutal. It was not made for comfort, as the Founders could care less about what happened to a human. This was made for saving the lives of Founders, and was never meant to be used this way. What was left would look like a changeling, but it didn't mean it would be a changeling. It didn't mean it would be alive.
“Please, Tom. Please make it through.”
Tom's body was warm, turning hot. It wasn't a good sign. Harry moved them closer to the mouth of the cave where it was colder. He waited…and hoped.
“I have detected faint life signs, Captain. I can not get an exact lock, but it appears to be two separate life signs, one is very faint.”
The Captain voice grated out. “Transporter room, lock onto the coordinates Mr. Tuvok will be feeding you. I want a wide range transport, 3 meter cushion on all sides. Transport directly to Sickbay. Janeway to Sickbay. Prepare for wounded. It is a wide range transport, so stay clear of the staging area until they arrive. Chakotay. You have the bridge. I'll be in Sickbay, making Mr. Paris think twice before…” the rest was lost in a mumble as the turbolift doors closed behind her.
Harry felt the transporter beams surging around him. “No! Not yet! It's too early!”
Then the light shimmered brightly, darkening to reveal Sickbay.
The holodoc was already present. The doctor's face revealed his horror at seeing Tom.
“Ensign, get him on that biobed immediately.”
“No! Don't touch him! Computer, engage privacy lock on sickbay and adjust temperature to 0 degrees centigrade.”
“Access denied. Command level authorization required.”
Harry turned to implore the doctor. “Please. I will explain everything, but he can't be seen like this, he can't be touched, and it has to be freezing! Please!”
Harry saw the doctor look at him and the bloody, distorted body he was holding. Harry saw the look in the doctor's eyes as he evaluated Tom and decided he couldn't do anything for him anyway. “Very well, Ensign. Computer, engage sickbay privacy lock. Authorization EMH Beta 12. Adjust environmental controls to 0 degrees centigrade. Authorization EMH Omicron 9.”
The room chilled instantly.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
“You will not survive long in this temperature, Ensign.”
“I'll be fine. We just need time.”
“Ensign, I will need to examine the bod… I mean Mr. Paris.”
“He's not dead, yet, Doc. Hopefully he won't be any time soon.”
“Please explain, Ensign.”
The doors to Sickbay swished open. Harry heard her voice before he saw her, and she sounded angry. He didn't care.
“Doctor, what the hell is going on? Why was there a privacy lock on sickbay? And why is freezing in here?”
“Generally, Captain, a privacy lock means privacy was necessary. I see you overrode the command.” His voice was a touch superior.
She bristled at the doctor's smug tone. “Doctor, I want to know what is going on, and I want to know now. Where are they?”
“Here, Captain, we're right here.”
The Captain's gaze followed the voice to its source. Her mouth moved but nothing came out. After her momentary lapse, she gave an order. “Computer, reengage privacy lock. Authorization Janeway Omega 4.”
“Doctor, why aren't you doing anything? Get to work!” Her voice was wild as she struggled to retain control.
The doctor shook his head. “I'm sorry, Captain.”
Her features fell.
“He's not dead, Captain. He's not dead.”
“Oh Harry, I'm so sorry. This must be so hard on you. He came looking for you, and now you've lost him.” She had her arms hugged to her chest.
Harry's voice rose to a scream. “He's not dead! Just leave us alone! I won't let him die! He can't die!”
The captain stepped back after the roar from her young ensign. She opened her mouth automatically to discipline her officer until she remembered where she was and what was happening. Pain etched lines in every inch of Harry's face. She glanced at the doctor and gestured for him to accompany her. They stepped a few meters away.
“He is beyond my care, Captain. I can put him in stasis, but that will just prolong the inevitable.”
She put her hands to her face for moment, struggling to fight back the tears. When she regained her control, she spoke again. “All right.” She heard how flat and toneless her voice sounded. “First things first. I want to know what the hell happened.” She was moving through it for now. The grief wouldn't capture her. Not yet. It was like a cold hand squeezing at her heart. Freezing. She forced herself to deal with what she could, and shove aside the rest until later. “Doctor, why is it freezing in here?”
“Ensign Kim demanded it. He claimed it was necessary to keep Mr. Paris alive.”
“Is he alive?”
“If he is, I don't know how. His entire cranium seems to have been pulverized, in addition to any other injuries.”
“I have not been able to scan him yet. Mr. Kim insists that I keep a distance from them.” The doctor sounded annoyed. “Considering that I see no way to save Mr. Paris, I acquiesced.”
“Understood.” She felt the grief rising up again. She forced herself to deal with what she could, her StarFleet training gratefully overriding her personal desire to fall down and weep. //No time for that. Not now.//
She walked to a wall and ordered a replicator to produce a heavy jacket. She knew she would be with Mr. Kim for quite some time, and she didn't want to return the temperature to normal until she had him calmed down, and probably sedated.
She shrugged into the coat and moved back towards them. She saw the snow lying frozen on the floor. It wouldn't melt with the environmental controls set like this. It was all around them, and she noticed that Harry had scooped some on top of Tom. It was stained red with Tom's blood.
//I will not cry. I will not. I refuse. It is not the time.// She had to take care of her crew first. She looked at Harry, trying to avoid sight of Tom, which was impossible. She decided Harry was in shock, thinking he could slow down Tom's body functions somehow until he could get help. Maybe he hadn't fully registered that he was back on Voyager, despite what he said.
She stepped closer. “Harry…”
“Stay back, Captain. Don't come near him.”
“Harry, please. You are back on Voyager. The doctor is right here.”
“I know where the fuck I am, Captain, and I know what the fuck I'm doing. Just leave us alone.” He didn't even look at her.
She was rocked by her ensign's angry words. She held back the rebuke that had formed on her lips. “Harry, I'm so sorry. I wish…I never should have..” She stopped herself. If she hadn't let Tom go, they never would have found Harry. Could she really have chosen between them? //Yes, I could have. If I had no other choice. I just didn't think this would happen.// “I'm so sorry you've lost him. I know he was your closest friend.”
“He's more than my friend, Captain. I love him and he loves me.” He was rocking with Tom's body in his arms, shedding tears, staring into space Tom's face should have been. “He isn't dead. He isn't dead. He isn't going to die.”
She felt the tears welling in her eyes. She would not cry, damn it. They were together. How had she not known? They were close, but a couple? And now Tom was gone. “Oh Harry, I'm so sorry.”
“He's not dead. He's just…he's just…changing.”
“Harry, look at me, please.” She waited for him to look at her, waited for him to take his gaze off of Tom. She wasn't sure of what she was going to say yet, but she knew she had to move him away.
Her eyes were so intently fixed on Harry that she almost missed it. She saw it out of the corner of her eye and gasped. Tom's arm shot out and shook for a moment before dropping back to his side. Even the doctor looked stunned. She hadn't even realized he was standing next to her.
“Doctor! He is still alive. Do…” She stopped when Harry lifted his eyes from Tom and stared at her. She shot a quick look at the doctor, urging him to get closer.
“Ensign, I must scan him and see if I can do anything.” The doctor had lost his smug demeanor for the moment.
“You can scan him, but don't do anything. Don't touch him.”
She caught his eyes again as he spoke. “I should have told you before, Captain. I should have, but I was so afraid. And now Tom might die.” Harry was weeping, the words coming out in tortured sobs.
The captain swallowed all of her emotions and moved back into command, the place in her mind that she stayed in when a battle was raging and people were dying all around her. It was her only hope right now, her only hope of getting through this. “Tell me what, Harry?”
Harry looked away from her. “There are things…things you don't know about me. Promise you won't do anything until you've heard me out.”
“Please, promise me.”
“All right. You have my word.” Tom's legs started spasming, and her eyes stared at them, transfixed, horrified. The doctor moved ever closer with the tricorder and a hypospray.
“No! Don't touch him! If you do, you'll kill him. It will only be a few more minutes, and then we'll know.”
“Harry? What's happening?”
She caught his gaze and saw him sigh…and then everything seemed to melt away from her. But it wasn't her. It was him. He was melting. He was… “Dear God!” Horror and revulsion chiseled at her mind, driving splinters of fear deep within her thoughts.
She watched as the shape gained form again and details were added until Harry was before her once again. “You know what I am, Captain. But I'm not like the others. I'm not a Founder!”
She found her voice. “You're a shapeshifter! A changeling!” The horror was written all over her face.
“Yes. But not like them, I'm more like Odo. I don't want the Dominion to take over the Federation.”
“What did you do to Tom?” she cried.
“I'm saving him. He came looking for me because he loves me, and because he knew why you couldn't find me on the planet. I wasn't in human shape anymore, and the sensors wouldn't recognize me.” Harry looked fiercely determined.
“That's why he wanted to go down.” //Tom knew. Why didn't he tell me?// A deep place in her mind answered her, and it took a moment to seep in. Because she would have left him there. She would have abandoned Harry on that planet and left at high warp. This wasn't Harry, it was a thing. But Tom loved him, loved it, enough to risk his life… She wouldn't think about this now. Not now. She would just listen.
“..so we didn't find each other right away. When you were going to transport him up, he decided he wouldn't leave me there. He threw away his comm badge. Then we found each other, but he was freezing to death.”
She could tell the words were just spilling out of him. His eyes were unfocused and he still rocked Tom in his arms. //Can he really care so much? He isn't human.//
“I had no way of contacting you. My own comm badge was lost in the snow as well, along with the rest of my gear.”
She realized he was naked. She hadn't even noticed that before. Did he have clothes on before he…before he changed his shape? He must have. She would have noticed that. She was sure of it. //Damn it, Kathryn! Why are you focusing on that?// and then she answered herself. //Because I don't want to focus on anything else. Oh gods…I've lost Tom.//
“I knew you wouldn't find us in time, so I did the only thing I could to save his life.” His eyes swam back into focus and she could feel his gaze. “I'm making him into one of us—a changeling.”
The captain's face went white, whiter than it had been when she had seen Tom. “No! You can't!” She couldn't think.
She followed his gaze down to Tom's body and heard him whisper to him. “You will make it. You have to. I love you.”
“This can't be happening!” The words were her own, but she didn't remember voicing them. It was like hearing them from someone else.
“Would you rather have him dead?” Harry spit out bitterly.
She couldn't think. Dear Gods, this couldn't be happening. What would she do? She struggled with herself, and reminded herself to deal with what she could.
“He…does he know?”
“He made the decision, Captain. He knew it was his only chance.” She could see the tears in his eyes again. She tried not to think about how real he seemed, how real his eyes looked. He was a shapeshifter, an enemy of the Federation. //But the Federation is so far away.//
She could feel the weight on her back as if it was a physical presence. //Deal with what you can, Kathryn.// “How?”
“The how isn't important right now. This is a one shot deal, and if it doesn't work, Tom will die. The only thing saving him is the cold. It is keeping his body temperature down, I hope.”
The doctor hovered closer with his tricorder. “Mr. Paris's body temperature is currently 103 degrees, Captain. I don't understand how his body is still functioning. Most of his systems are barely registering on my tricorder. There are signs of extreme activity at a genetic level.” The doctor lowered his tricorder and looked at her. “Captain, his DNA strands are being wiped out. Completely eradicated.” He sounded astonished. “This is fascinating Captain. Ensign, please put him on a biobed. I can get more accurate readings there. I can study the readings and may be able to replicate this process on others. This will make a fantastic study…”
“Doctor!” Her tone was furious. “You will do no such thing.”
“But Captain, this is the most incredible genetic engineering the Federation has ever seen. I must study it.”
She looked at the quivering mass in front of her. //How can he think of doing this to someone else?// “Computer, deactivate Emergency Medical Hologram. Erase database memory pertaining to the last 30 minutes. Erase any medical logs written during the same time period. Delete tricorder logs made in the last 30 minutes. Authorization Janeway Opal One.”
She let her thoughts wander while the computer read back the confirmations. She would have to search more carefully later. She would not allow any scientific record to exist of this transformation. This abomination could never be repeated.
She looked back to see Harry rocked Tom in his arms and crooning to him. “Not much longer now, my love. Not much longer. You'll make it. You have to make it.”
Harry wished she would shut up. He just wanted to be alone with Tom. He'd told her what happened, and then she demanded more. The captain had demanded to know everything, starting with how a shapeshifter managed to get on board her ship. Her voice was hostile, and he couldn't blame her. He just hoped that after Tom made it through this, and Harry prayed to any god he could think of that he would, she would leave them on a world together, and not kill them.
“Captain, please. I know you are angry. I know you feel betrayed. But please…can we let this wait? It is almost over and then we'll know. If Tom doesn't make it through…if he dies…” his throat was so tight from crying he could barely speak. “If Tom dies, please kill me. Right away. Please. I don't want to wait.”
He saw his words sink in. “You really love him, don't you?”
“With everything I am.”
“I've never killed anything in cold blood.”
“Captain, please. I'll fight you if you need me too, but please, do it. If Tom dies…” he choked up.
He heard her sigh. “All right.”
They were silent for a moment as they both stared at Tom's body. There wasn't much left of it now.
“Captain, if he lives…”
“If he lives, we'll talk again.”
“I just want to say I'm sorry, Captain. I know you are probably wondering what secrets I've let slip and what risks there are now, but it isn't like that. I've never done anything to put Voyager in danger.”
“I'd like to believe that, Harry. I will admit that you are not what I expected from a changeling.”
“I..” His reply was cut short as he felt the shifts in the body below him. “Oh Gods…this is it. Please Tom. Please stay with me.”
The fever broke, and as it did, Tom lost the last of his shape. His remaining flesh pulsed and then liquefied. It shrank in on itself, turning a golden orange and slid from Harry's arms to the floor of sickbay. There was nothing left of Tom except some blood in the snow and some bits of flesh here and there. That and the glowing mass on the floor that looked like a shapeshifter.
“Please Tom. Please be there.”
Harry glanced at the captain as he let the shape of his arm go. He was surprised to see her smile at him encouragingly.
He back down and stretched his pulsing arm down to gently caress what he hoped was still Tom. Bracing himself, he pushed himself inside it, passed the outer layers, hoping to find a presence, hoping to find sentience, hoping to find Tom.
She watched his arm, or whatever you would call it, stretching out to touch Tom. She ached to stop this. She wanted her old Tom back. She wanted her old Harry back. But that wasn't possible. Everything had changed.
She smiled at Harry when he looked at her. What else could she do? She wasn't sure if she wanted this work or not. Would it be better for everyone if it didn't?
She realized she didn't have a phaser on her. She hadn't thought to bring one to Sickbay of course. There hadn't been a need at the time. Now she faced a changeling, and there was no telling what he might do if Tom died. His grief might make anything possible.
She was tempted to go for one, but decided to hold her ground. If this shapeshifter was anything like the Harry Kim she'd known, he'd never do anything to harm Voyager. She had to believe that, right now. Had to believe it if she even hoped of letting them stay on board.
She watched the tentacle coming from Harry push inside the mass. Once it entered, she couldn't tell one from the other really. It looked like it was all one…one creature.
“He's there! Oh thank the gods! He's there!” Harry's face was bright with joy. She watched as he let the rest of his shape go, pooling down next to Tom, merging with his love.
She felt a tear sliding down her cheek, and she realized that, somehow, she was happy.
Harry signaled the chime at the Captain's Ready Room. She had sent word asking to see him. No one had looked at him strangely when he walked onto the bridge. It had been 2 days, and so far no one else knew, at least not to his knowledge.
He heard her say “Enter” and he pushed the button on the pad, and the door slid open. He walked inside and stopped in front of her desk.
“You wanted to see me, Captain.”
“Have a seat, Ensign.”
He watched her take a sip of coffee and then sit back in her chair.
“I'd be lying if I said that I was happy with you, or with this. Nevertheless, we have to go on with what we have, deal only with what we can, and hope. I don't know if we'll ever get back to the Alpha Quadrant. >From what you've told me about your lifespan, it may only be you, Tom, and the children who make it back. I admit that I have some reservations about that, but another part of me, the part of me that has known you both for 4 years, that part thinks they couldn't be in better hands.”
Harry's thoughts were running wild. Did she really mean they could stay on Voyager? He and Tom and talked about it, and both wanted to stay if they could. This was their home. These people were their family now.
“I've decided to disregard StarFleet's directive on changelings for right now. They obviously made an exception for Odo, and I think I can apply the same reasoning here. Captain Sisko and I discussed Odo while we were at DS-9, and he said he couldn't have found a more loyal officer. I expect the same loyalty from you, and from Tom.”
“You already have it, Captain.”
He saw her smile. “I believe I do. I've told you many times that in StarFleet weird is part of the job. You're just part of the weird now.”
He had to chuckle. She was handling this so well. His admiration for her grew even larger.
“You know, StarFleet Command is going to have a field day with me when we get home. I'm bringing back a former Borg, two Shapeshifters, a half Maquis crew, a Talaxian cook and morale officer, a sentient holographic doctor, and we still have how many years left? They'll think I've lost my mind.”
Harry shook his head. Put like that, it did sound pretty far-fetched. He snorted…and then laughed outright. She joined him. It relieved all the tension in the room.
When they both settled down, he saw her look at him fondly. “Oh Harry, I'm so glad we have you back. You are still the same Ensign Kim who has saved our lives time and time again, and proven his loyalty beyond question. I have to do what I see is right, and take advantage of everything I can to get us home. You and Tom will undoubtedly prove to be even more valuable to have along than you already were.”
The words made him feel good inside. Tom had been right, she had accepted him, and Tom as well.
“Now,” she said, “that does leave us with a problem. I expect you and Tom to do whatever necessary to protect Voyager. As I see it, you two are our aces in the hole. So, I expect that the crew will find out eventually.”
“Captain, I think it would be better to tell them now. If Tom or I should need to shapeshift to save someone, we don't need a phaser set to kill fired at us in the process.”
“I had hoped you would say that. The sooner we tell them the better, I think. Janeway to Chakotay.”
“Chakotay here, Captain.”
“Assemble the senior staff in the briefing room.”
“Of course, Captain.”
She smiled at Harry. “Senior Staff first, the rest of the crew second.”
Harry sat across from Tom in the mess hall, watching him try to hold his shape. This was his first public appearance. The captain had informed the entire ship about them, and made her policy clear. Tom and Harry were part of the crew, and if anyone had a problem with that, they could take it up directly with her, and her alone. People looked at them a little strangely, but that was to be expected.
He focused his attention as Tom brought the fork towards his mouth. It was some awful creation Neelix had recently devised. Harry didn't want to touch it, but Tom had insisted on getting back into his old routine.
The look on Tom's face when he tasted it set Harry to laughing. Tom's face pinched up, disgust clearly on his face, and then he lost his shape, falling into his plate of food.
Harry thought he was going to pass out from laughing so hard. When he calmed himself, he heard Neelix's anxious voice asking what happened.
“It's all right, Neelix. It's just the food.”
Neelix's face dropped so far down in shock that Harry would have sworn he was a shape-shifter too. And that set him to laughing all over again.
When he could breathe again, he looked at the formless shape in front of him. “Come on Tom. Pull yourself together”, he teased and then started laughing again.
He had gotten his shape shifting abilities down pretty well now. He could hold his shape just fine, and had even learned other shapes. He and Harry spent most of their free time in their quarters or on the holodeck exploring things like they never had before. The possibilities that existed for a shapeshifter were endless…including the pranks, which is what he was doing now.
He didn't move. He just waited. Chakotay was almost done with his work-out. This was going to be great. He still owed him for the trip to the doctor. He had been so embarrassed to find out that Chakotay had ordered an old fashion rectal exam. //Who knew the man had a sense of humor?// It was time to start paying him back.
Chakotay wiped some of the sweat of his face with his hand, until he realized his hands were just as sweaty.
“Hold up, B'Elanna. I want to dry off a little.”
He walked over to the bench to grab his towel. He picked it up and unfolded it, about to press it flat against his face.
Suddenly, he screamed.
B'Elanna stared at Chakotay as he screamed and dropped his towel, backing away from it. Then she saw the eyes on it…winking at him…and the huge red lips puckering up.
“Oh shit. Chakotay's going to kill him.”
The towel lifted up off the floor, turning into a golden liquid as it dashed for the door, laughing.
“Paris! I'll get you!” Chakotay was out the door after him.
Harry shook his head. He couldn't believe it. The Captain had called him to her ready room only minutes after he heard the rumor.
“Kathryn… Captain, please!” Chakotay had lost it. There wasn't a trace of the cool, calm First Officer.
Harry could tell the Captain was struggling not to laugh. The corners of her mouth kept curving up before she caught herself and pretended to look stern again.
“Chakotay, go over it one more time.”
“Do I have to?”
“Now that we have everyone together, yes. Please, just once more.”
Harry couldn't tell if the Captain needed to hear it again, or just wanted to hear it again for the humor of it.
Chakotay took a deep breath. “Fine. I was in the gym with B'Elanna, and we were working out. I went to grab my towel to wipe my face, and he…he…” Chakotay was pointing at Tom, who was laughing behind his hand.
“He…” Chakotay took another breath. “As I brought the towel to my face, I suddenly noticed it had eyes, and they blinked at me and the lips…the lips tried to kiss me.”
Tom erupted. “And he screamed! Oh you have no idea! He screamed like a little girl!” Tom was laughing so hard he actually fell out of his chair.
Harry was struggling not to do the same. Even the Captain was shaking with suppressed laughter, and Harry didn't think she even knew what had started this whole mess. The humor finally hit Chakotay and even *he* laughed, which set everyone to laughing all over again.
After a few minutes, the Captain managed to put on her poker face and stared at Tom. “Lieutenant, as humorous as this may have been, I must ask you to refrain from terrorizing the crew members. I've been receiving reports from all over the ship.” The captain stopped to sip at her coffee, her gaze not leaving Tom.
Tom just looked back at her for a minute and then sighed. “All right, Captain,” Tom replied. “I'll stop. I won't even pretend to be Chakotay's jockstrap anymore.”
The captain spit out her coffee, all over Chakotay, who was gasping and sputtering and staring at Tom. Chakotay finally managed to roar “What?”
Tom was on the floor again, laughing hysterically. “This is too easy, Captain! Look at him!”
The Captain was holding her sides as if they hurt, laughing loudly. Harry was laughing so hard he was about to lose his shape. Chakotay had blushed all the way up to his hairline.
“Hey beautiful.” Harry turned to face his lover.
Tom kissed him. Their lips intermingled briefly, a small link that went beyond mere kissing.
“We're supposed to meet B'Elanna on the holodeck in twenty minutes,” Harry said. “We've got to go. I want to grab something to eat first.”
“Why? We don't need to.”
“But it makes us seem more part of the crew this way. Besides, we get to hold our shapes longer that way.”
“I know.” He wrapped his arms around Harry. “But it was so beautiful on that planet yesterday. I'm just feeling romantic. I wish we could go back. Taking the shape of the local birds and flying through the skies. All my life, all I've ever wanted to do is fly, and now I can, all by myself. No ship, no shuttle…just me and you. It was incredible. If it wasn't for you, I would never be able to do these things.”
“Tom, if it wasn't for you, I would never have done them either. You've freed me. I'm more alive than I have ever been. Provided, of course, Chakotay doesn't try to kill us.”
Tom chuckled. “That was a good one.”
“Yep, it was. Too bad the Captain said no more.”
Tom didn't say anything.
“Tom, remember when she said she'd not only make us clean out the plasma injectors, she'd make us *BE* the plasma injectors for a while?”
Tom grinned. “She loved every minute of it. So did you.”
Harry just shook his head. “Tom, you were a nightmare before. I didn't know I'd be creating a monster.”
Tom's lips found his again. “We've got fifteen minutes left, and we can skip the food. Let's go to bedroom.”
Harry tried to resist, but Tom's lips felt too good against his. “Okay, but we've got to hurry.”
They ran to the bedroom and fell on the bed, kissing as they went.
Harry slid down and engulfed Tom's cock in his mouth. “Oh yes, Harry! That feels so good.”
When Tom was good and wet, Harry straddled him and took Tom deep into his ass. He bucked up and down on him, sending them both into higher realms of pleasure. When they were close, they shifted out of their shapes, merging together, linking as one, sharing the orgasm, sharing their love.
“Janeway to Paris.”
“Is Ensign Kim with you?”
Tom glanced down at his sleeping lover. “Yes.”
“Please report to my Ready Room. Ensign Kim as well.”
The door slid open and she caught a bit of the conversation on the other side. “I swear I didn't do anything, Harry.”
The captain nearly smiled when she heard that. If the situation hadn't been so serious, she probably would have enjoyed putting some pressure on Tom, just to see him squirm. She wasn't blind, but sometimes she turned a blind eye to this pair. In some ways, she felt protective of them, though they hardly needed it…and now she needed them.
“Come in, gentlemen. Take a seat.” She paused until they were seated before she continued. “I need your help.”
“Of course, Captain.”
Harry chimed in, asking “How can we help?”
“I need your rather unique abilities.” She saw them glance at each other for a moment. “Commander Chakotay has been abducted.” //Damn it, don't let the fear show in your voice.//
“Abducted? I thought things were going well on the planet.”
“Up until twenty minutes ago, they were. Apparently one of the three factions is in opposition to our trade proposal. The Corinor, the party we've been dealing with, have informed us that it is mostly likely the Grebers.”
“Why? I thought all of them were interested in trade.”
“They are. But the Grebers want to trade Chakotay for our technology, or so the Corinor expect. They don't want to give up the dilithium.”
“Okay, we're the rescue team then.”
“Not exactly, Tom. It's more complicated than that.”
“The Muhs, the religious faction, have had Chakotay in religious ceremonies for the past 5 days to prove his worthiness. If they discover he is missing, the Corinor have told us it will ruin the trade agreement, because the Muhs will see it as a demonstration of our unworthiness.”
“That's ridiculous, Captain. He was kidnapped.”
She smiled grimly at Harry. “I know, but apparently that won't change things.”
“So what's the plan?”
“If we weren't so desperate for the dilithium, we'd rescue Chakotay and get the hell away from here. We're in a bind, gentlemen, and I think you two are only chance of getting Chakotay back, as well as the dilithium.”
She took a sip of coffee. “I'm not sure how possible this is, but can one of you look like Chakotay?”
Tom burst out laughing, and Harry looked a little embarrassed. //I'm missing something here,// she thought.
Tom looked at her and said, “Harry can do it. He has, uh, experience…”
“More experience shapeshifting, Captain,” Harry said, cutting him off.
//I'm definitely missing something here.//
“If Sickbay has a blood or tissue sample, I'll be able to do it perfectly. Even if they scan me, they won't be able to tell.”
“Excellent, Harry. I'll have the doctor pull a sample from storage.”
“What do you need me to do, Captain?” Tom's blue eyes gazed into hers.
“If Harry becomes Chakotay, I think the harder part falls on you. I need you to rescue Chakotay.”
She watched a grin slide up his face. “Oh, this will be great. He'll owe me his life twice after this.” He laughed deviously. “You want me to lead the away team?”
“No, we can't have an away team down on the surface. If they are discovered, the Muhs will hear of it, and the negotiations will still break down. We need Chakotay out of there as quickly and quietly as possible.”
“Okay. Just me then. I can move faster on my own anyway.”
“My thoughts exactly. Harry, you'll need to move in quietly as well, until you reach Chakotay's room on the planet, and then form him and continue with the rituals.” She paused for a moment, wondering how he'd take the next part. “Harry, I'm not sure how to tell you this. Chakotay had asked that this part of his mission be kept confidential. The final days of the ceremony involve some, uh, sexual rites.”
Harry blanched. Tom perked up. “Damn. Is it too late to switch?” He had his half-smirk firmly in place. “Then again, I'd have to pass on seeing Chakotay's face when I rescue him. I don't think I can give that up.” He turned to looked at Harry. “Guess that means you have all the fun.”
“Captain,” Harry flustered, “I'm not sure about this. I mean, sex? As Chakotay? That just seems a little…I don't know…wrong.”
Inwardly, she was pleased Harry felt this way. She trusted him completely, but this was the first time she was asking him to act like a shapeshifter. Seeing him have human reservations was a relief.
“I understand, Harry. We don't have any other options though.”
She looked at him and tried to put some hope in her face. “Maybe Tom will rescue Chakotay quickly enough that you won't need to finish out the ceremonies.” She glanced at Tom, and saw him smiling again.
“It's okay, Harry.”
She watched as his hand moved over to Harry's, and they let the shape of their hands flow together. They rarely linked in front of others, she knew, and felt like she was intruding on something private. //Damn, I miss being with someone.//
“Harry, it's okay,” Tom sent through the link, letting his mind touch his lover's.
“But, it will be like cheating on you.” Tom could tell he was clearly upset about this.
“No, Harry, nothing like that could ever come between us. You know our love could never be replaced by sex with anyone else.”
“And you know that linking is beyond sex; nothing can compare.”
Tom got an idea. “Harry, if it was me doing this, would you be jealous?”
“Because of the same things you said. But this just feels wrong. Masquerading as Chakotay, not being faithful to you when you are being faithful to me…”
Tom chuckled within the link. “So, you're basically saying that if I managed to have sex with someone else, you wouldn't feel as guilty.”
“In a weird way, yes. It would make us even somehow.”
“That certainly was not the answer I was expecting. You know that sounds ridiculous, don't you? But all right. If I somehow get the chance, I will.”
“It would be that easy for you?”
“No, not at all. But in a way, human sex is a lot like massage used to be for me. A little sensual, done in the right way it can even be erotic…but it doesn't compare to down and dirty sex. You are my down and dirty sex now, Harry. Nothing will ever compare to you, compare to that.”
“Is this a bad sign, Tom. That we can have sex with others?”
Tom poured all the love he had into the link, then decided to play with his lover. “Harry, you know I've been with a lot of people. You've only been with Libby and me. I'm don't want to criticize or anything…” he paused for a moment, “but you could use some experience.”
He chuckled. “I'm just teasing you. Go have fun, Harry. I want you to enjoy yourself. When we come back, we can link and share all the memories and enjoy them together. It will be like we both experienced it.”
“Tom, you know how you said you'd have sex with someone else? Are you going to try to do it with Chakotay?”
“Would that bother you?”
“No. Well, maybe. But it also might get those fantasies out of your head. Plus, I know I wouldn't have to worry about losing you to him, you two hate each other.”
Tom heard Harry laughing. “Okay, I'll try Chakotay. But it might not happen. He may turn me down.”
“But if he doesn't, I'll get those memories too. I'm kind of curious about him.”
“Okay, it's a done deal. You okay?”
He felt Harry sigh. “All right. I can do it.”
They were silent for a moment.
“You know what, Tom?”
“Next time I form Chakotay, I'll be anatomically correct.” His tone was leering. “Just think of the possibilities we'll have when we get back.”
Tom laughed. “You just said you wanted me to lose the fantasies…and now here you are plotting more of them. You're crazy.”
“But you love me.”
“Of course I do.”
She watched their hands reform into flesh and separate. It had only been for maybe 20 seconds, and now they were smiling, and it looked like they had worked through the difficulty. She marveled at what could be accomplished in such a short time.
“Time is crucial, gentlemen.”
They looked at her. “Give us the details, Captain, and we'll be ready to go.”
After they left, she whispered to the empty room, “You brought your love back one, Tom, now bring back mine.”
Harry arrived on the surface just outside the city walls. A copse of trees hid him moment while he decided how to get inside. The Corinor had told them that a transporter beam inside the palace would be caught by the internal sensors, and that he'd need to beam down outside, and somehow make his way in without being seen. The Corinor representative had sounded skeptical of a replacement period, let alone one sneaking in the palace.
He looked up into the trees, hoping he'd find some sort of…//There!//
He let his shape go and slid up the branches in a serpentine fashion. It hadn't noticed him yet. When he was in range, he shot out a tendril, forming the end into a needle like point. It penetrated its flesh and took only a small drop of blood.
The bird squawked in surprise and flew away unharmed. When realism was needed, it was faster to grab a drop of blood to help form the shape correctly. Trying to do it manually could be time consuming.
His body flowed into the cells, tracing the DNA structure, learning how to mimic it. In seconds, he had formed himself into a tiny bird, much like a Finch on Earth, but solid black like a raven.
He flew off towards the palace.
When Tom materialized on the planet he was about a ten kilometers from a desert plateau. A small palace sat on top of it, the home base of the Grebers. Scans showed that they did sensor sweeps around the perimeter, and he had been forced to transport down outside their range.
Tom looked at his surroundings for something to shift into so he wouldn't be noticed, but couldn't find anything but sand. The cliffs of the plateau looked pretty sheer, and flying seemed like the best option. It was dusk, so he didn't think he'd be noticed in the fading light.
He shifted into the bird he had shaped a few planets back and took off.
Harry arrived in the chamber through an open window and landed on a bedpost. He couldn't see anyone in the room, so he changed into Chakotay. He threw on a robe and stepped out into the sitting room.
Jabrin, the Corinor representative, jumped out of his chair. “You're back! How did you escape?”
The captain had told him that he could trust Jabrin, to a point. “Are you the only one present?”
“Yes. I stalled for time and told them you were bathing. It has only been about 45 minutes, but the Muhs are getting impatient. I'm so happy you were able to escape.”
“I didn't escape, Jabrin. I'm a replacement.”
“I am not the original Chakotay.”
“Unbelievable…I was expecting a replacement, true, but I had no idea. You look exactly like him. The technology your people must possess…are you a clone? How were you able to be here so quickly? This is amazing.”
Harry raised his hand. “I can't explain how, Jabrin.” The captain had told him not to reveal he was a shapeshifter, even to Jabrin. The Corinor were eager for technology, of any kind, and might try to capture him to learn how he changed his shape. “I'll need you to help me through this. The real Chakotay knows what is going on, but I don't. I need you to brief me quickly.”
“Of course. But we'll need some time.” Jabrin's eyes narrowed for a moment and then glanced up at them. “Go to the outer door and inform the servants that you will be meditating to prepare for this evening's rituals and do not wish to be disturbed. The Muhs will respect this.”
Harry moved to the door and swung it open. A servant immediately appeared. She looked relieved to see him.
“I'm happy nothing was amiss, Commander Chakotay. We heard sounds of a struggle, but Minister Jabrin would not let us in.”
“Everything is fine. I was…exercising to prepare my body for this evening and then had a bath. Now, I will need time to mentally prepare. Perhaps an hour. Will you please inform…” he paused. He wasn't sure who she should inform.
“Of course. I will tell the council. They will be pleased at the level of devotion you are showing to our customs. I am sure they will not mind postponing the ceremony for an hour.” She scurried off and Harry shut the door, breathing his own sigh of relief.
“All right, Jabrin. Tell me what is happening.”
Tom scurried into the dining hall. This mouse disguise was perfect. The Grebers were slobs. Mice, or whatever type of rodents they were, ran freely through this place. He sat beside a table leg, out of the way of any falling feet and waited for information.
Finally, the conversation at the table above him changed.
“Can you believe him? Demanding to be released? I showed him.”
“Yeah, he won't mouth off again.”
“Maybe we should go teach him another lesson.”
“Sure, why not. We're going to kill him after they give us what we want anyway.”
Tom struggled not to shift right then and take them out. He knew he needed them, for now.
He saw the boot pulling away from him and made his move. He let his shape go, jumped onto the boot, and continued shrinking. He slid up the pant leg and clung to the boot, out of sight. Hopefully, he was taking a ride directly to Chakotay.
Harry stood outside the door to the main hall. He had hoped there wouldn't be any ceremonies of this nature until Chakotay came back, but he wasn't that lucky. Of course, tonight was the first sexual ceremony. Chakotay hadn't even participated in one yet. It figured. He just had to remember that this was necessary, and that he wasn't cheating on Tom. He loved Tom only, no other came close.
He pushed open the doors and walked in naked. He felt all the eyes crawl along his body, or Chakotay's body actually. He felt himself blush.
“Welcome, Commander Chakotay. We are pleased to see you here.”
Harry turned to face the Dais, where three old Muhs were seated, all of them male. He forced himself to smile.
“I am pleased to be here, Your Graces.”
“Tonight begins the final ceremony, Chakotay.”
“Oh?” Harry felt hopeful. He had been told there were 3 more days left.
“Yes, the final ceremony usually lasts several days. How long it actually lasts is up to you.”
“Whatever pleases Your Graces,” he forced himself to say.
They smiled at him. “Such wonderful manners,” the oldest one said. “You have performed so well in our other ceremonies that we have selected our best novitiates to take part in this with you. Many volunteered, I can assure you. So many that we made an exception, and allowed a few additional. I trust this does not cause any problems for you?”
“Of course not, Your Graces.” Jabrin had told him to agree to just about anything they said.
“Excellent. Bring in the novitiates.”
Two large doors swung open at the opposite end of the chamber. People wearing loose purple robes entered, faces shrouded in hoods. There must have been over 20 of them. Harry gasped. //I'm supposed to have sex with all of them? Oh gods!//
“Normally there are only 12, but we had so many ask to participate that we extended it 24 novitiates. Normally, seekers are able to satisfy four of them per day, so this may take as many as 6 days.
//No way am I doing this for 6 days.//
Jabrin had explained to him that there would be 12 and that he would be expected to bring them to satisfaction, or orgasm. The Dais of Graces would watch, and verify satisfaction. Luckily, on this world the eyes glowed slightly purple when they reached orgasm. Verification was easy.
Harry gulped. //24 of them though? Oh Gods. Tom should be here. This would be a dream mission for him.//
The oldest Grace was speaking again. “When you have brought all to satisfaction, you will receive our blessing and our support for the trade agreement you seek.”
“Bring on the first novitiate.”
Harry moved to a bed that had been provided and watched as the first figure in purple approached him. The robe opened and the hood fell back, revealing a young woman. She was beautiful, and her anatomy looked remarkably close to that of a human.
She crawled onto the bed and laid down beside him. She said nothing.
Harry reached out with his hand and cupped a full breast. She shivered.
Jabrin had told him of the pleasure centers for his kind, both male and female, because novitiates could be either. Luckily, they were similar to human as well.
Harry rolled on top of her and began kissing her neck and her cheek, brushing his lips across hers. She was shivering more forcefully now.
He licked her earlobes, which, if his information was correct, would trigger her to become wet down below. She gasped, and he felt wetness at her groin. Apparently, his information was correct. Not only was she wet, she was dripping.
He wasted no time and slipped his hard cock within her, watching her eyes roll up in pleasure. Harry had realized earlier that these people knew even less about his physiology than he did about theirs, so he made up his mind to cheat a little.
He increased the size of his, or Chakotay's, cock to completely fill her, and added a few ridges to increase the stimulation. He also formed a fleshy protrusion in his pubic hair that would stimulate her clitoris while he fucked her. Hands on her nipples and his tongue licking her neck had her crying out in pleasure already.
//This will be easy.//
It wasn't long before her whole body twitched below him and she screamed. Her muscles clamping down on his cock caused him to lose himself inside her.
He looked into her damp eyes and saw that her pupils were brightly purple. He had completed his first, and in only a few minutes.
He let his cock soften and return to its former appearance and let the extra pubic flesh dissolve. He got up and faced the Dais again.
The young girl got up off the bed with a look of wonder on her face.
The oldest Grace spoke. “Commander Chakotay. You have amazed us once again. Never have we seen one of our kind reach satisfaction so quickly, and so completely.”
“Does this please Your Graces?”
“Yes, very much. Do you require time to rest before continuing? Our kind usually need to rest for several hours, so do not feel like you must continue right away.”
“No, Your Graces. If it pleases you, I can continue now.”
They looked amazed. Of course, the real Commander Chakotay would have needed time to recover, but Harry didn't. //Chakotay would have taken longer, too.// Harry hid a smile. //Of course, Chakotay probably would have wanted this to last a month.//
“Very well. Bring on the next novitiate.”
Harry turned to face the bed again, and saw another purple robed figure approach. The robe fell off and revealed a young man, who was already firm with desire.
Harry reached out and grasped the young man's erection, pulling him down onto the bed. He kissed his way down the firm chest and stomach, and fastened his mouth onto the rock hard pole at his groin, making the young man cry out. He heard gasps from around the chamber.
He pulled off the throbbing flesh and looked at the Dais. “Your Graces? Have I created any offense?”
This time, the youngest of the three answered. “No. We just did not expect that. It is…uncommon…among our people.”
“But I may continue?”
Harry turned to look at the young man stretched out below him. He looked into his eyes and saw the desire and excitement on his face. He clearly wanted this.
Harry sank his mouth back down on the young man's cock and heard him moan. He slid his mouth up and down, keeping his lips tight. His tongue swirled the end, and pushed inside the slit. He reached out with his hand and stroked the young man in time with his mouth.
As he expected, the young man cried out, spurting his seed into Harry's mouth, almost going into convulsions in the process. Harry swallowed, licked him clean, and sat up. The man's eyes were brilliantly purple.
Harry rose and faced the Dais again.
The youngest of the three spoke again, his voice sounding dry and raspy. “Never have I wished so badly to be a novitiate again. You are quite surprising, Commander Chakotay.”
Harry smiled. //Two down, and it has only been about 20 minutes. I'll be done in no time at all. I'll be back with Tom soon.//
He looked back at the men in front of him. “If it pleases Your Graces.” He smiled even bigger when he saw the Graces blush. Harry was surprised to find out that he was enjoying himself. Tom was still the love of his life, and this didn't change that in the least.
“Wake up! Look how weak these people are.”
Chakotay heard them, but kept his eyes closed. He didn't want another beating. //Maybe they'll go away if they think I'm unconscious.//
“Get up!” They pulled him off the bed and he fell onto the cell floor.
He grimaced against the pain. Several of his ribs felt broken and landing on the floor hurt like hell. He opened his eyes to see the same two Grebers in front of him again. //Shit. These are the same ones who beat me last time.//
He blinked his eyes a few times. He must have a concussion now as well. One of his tormentors legs looked like it was pulsing. He shook his head and looked again but it was still there.
He felt the other man's hands on him, lifting him up, exposing him to the other. //He's holding me up so the other can beat me.//
He looked back at the pulsing leg, and saw the material split open, a golden yellow fluid escaping from it. Chakotay watched in horror as it slid up the man's leg.
His tormentor must have felt it, because he looked down and started screaming. It shot up his body and covered his mouth. It was then that he knew. This was his rescue attempt.
Chakotay flung his head back against the man behind him, striking him on the nose. The hands holding him loosened, and Chakotay pulled out of them, but couldn't support himself and fell to the floor.
He turned his head to see the first man clawing at his face, trying to remove the goo. There was a snap as his neck broke, and suddenly he fell to the floor.
The liquid leaped off of him and landed at the second man, who had been staring at the scene in horror. Another snap, and he fell down as well.
Chakotay watched as the liquid grew and formed a shape. //Oh Gods, why couldn't it have been Harry?// He saw Tom's smirking mouth and dreaded what would come next.
“So, just how many times am I going to have to save your life?”
//Damn the man! Damn him!// “Just get me out of here.”
Tom chuckled, knowing he had scored a point. “Of course. Can you walk?”
“Maybe in a few minutes.”
“Good. We have about a ten mile hike to get back to the beam in point.”
He heard himself groan. //10k? I'll never make it.// “Can you transport me from here?”
“No, not possible. It might set off their sensors and then the Muhs might find out. We've got to get you out of their sensor sweep range first.”
“Want to try standing up?”
“Okay.” He grabbed onto the hand the Tom offered and pulled himself up. He was shaky but mobile. “How do we get out of here?”
“Well, we're going to try to walk out.” He saw Tom glance at the dead guards. “I wish they had been closer to your size. You could have worn their clothes. A naked man walking through this place will draw attention.”
“I can try to wear…”
“Not a chance. These guys are way to small for you, Chakotay.”
Chakotay saw Tom's eyes flash. //I'm not going to like this.//
“Commander, it looks like I'll get to be your jockstrap after all.”
Tom melted before Chakotay could say anything, and he felt a warm balm sliding across his skin. Despite the pain he was in, it felt erotic.
The golden flow faded and he found himself wearing a guard's uniform. It looked normal outwardly, but Chakotay felt a strange tightness underneath, especially at his chest.
He heard a buzzing near his ear. He turned his head and it got louder. It was the point of the shirt collar vibrating. It stretched toward his ear, and he could hear faint vibrations that eventually settled into rhythms he could identify as words. It was Tom, communicating with him.
“Hey Big Guy, can you hear me yet?”
“Great. I hoped this would work. It isn't like I can grow a head and talk to you that way after we leave the cell. It might draw a little too much attention. Okay, open the door and turn left.”
Somehow the vibration managed to sound like a laugh. “I know…you owe me your life.”
Chakotay grimaced and opened the cell door. Luckily, the corridor was empty. He moved into it, walking left as Tom had told him.
“Make a right at the next junction.”
“Okay,” he whispered. “Tom? Why are you so tight around my chest? I can't breathe.”
“Oh, sorry. Guess that was too tight,” the vibration answered. “I can feel a few broken ribs, and I was trying to act like an old fashioned cast. I'll loosen up just a little.”
Chakotay felt the tightness ease marginally. “Tom, you know they didn't cast chests, right?”
“Well, yeah. But I thought it would help.”
“It is.” Chakotay didn't know if it really helped or not, but it made him feel strangely comforted inside. //I'm glad to see the soft caring side, instead of the arrogant, egotistical, smart-assed pilot side.// He chuckled.
“What?” Tom vibrated.
“Nothing. Which way now?”
“A left at the next junction, then up a flight of stairs. To the left is the dining hall, and to the right, there should be a terrace. Head to the terrace.”
“The terrace? How…”
“Just trust me.”
Chakotay did as he was instructed, and wound up on a large viewing terrace, with the desert stretching out in every direction, barely lit by the glow of two pale moons. A gust of wind swept by, chilling him. The high temperature of the desert day during his arrival had fallen to the stark cold of the night.
“Just how am I supposed to get down?”
He felt his clothes growing warmer, and then they pulled off of him, leaving him shivering in the night wind.
Tom formed for a second next to him. “We've got to hurry, we don't have much time.”
“We're going to jump.”
“Just trust me. This is going to be difficult, but you need to relax and trust me. I don't know a shape large enough to fly you away from here, and this is all I can think of.”
He watched as Tom let his shape go and he flowed up onto the terrace's stone railing. A tendril beckoned him closer, and when he was next to Tom, several tendrils reached out and gently lifted him up onto the railing as well.
The tendrils thickened out around his chest and body, running around his thighs and shoulders, almost like ropes. He felt something tug at him, and suddenly he was falling.
The air was rushing past him and in the darkness, he couldn't see the ground. He wanted to scream, but couldn't risk alerting anyone, so hit bit his cheek and held onto Tom.
It was several seconds before he realized he wasn't falling as quickly anymore. He looked above him and saw a graceful arch of material and realized Tom had turned himself into a makeshift parachute and they were slowly gliding to the ground.
“You could have told me.”
A strap by his ear vibrated back, “But I was hoping I could hear you scream like a little girl again”, and then he heard that chuckle again.
//Damn the man!//
Only a few seconds later, Tom brought them to a graceful stop on the desert floor. Tom had put out large feet, and taken the brunt of the impact, cushioning Chakotay. //How can he be such an ass one minute, and so considerate the next?//
He felt Tom sliding off of him and waited for him to reshape himself.
“Yep. My ribs hurt a little, but it would have been worse if you hadn't absorbed the impact. Thanks.”
“You're welcome. Ready to hike?”
“Sure.” He tried to sound confident, but he ached, and the wind was cold. But he set out walking next to Tom.
“Are you cold?”
“Nothing I can't handle.”
“I don't think so, Chakotay. You could be experiencing shock from your injuries, in addition to the cold.”
He didn't reply. He heard Tom sigh and then he felt the warmth of Tom sliding over him again, protecting him from the wind and the cold. It felt wonderful. The warmth coalesced into a thick jacket and pants.
“Better?” he heard the vibration ask.
“Much. Thank you.”
“Lift up a leg.”
He did so, and felt a boot form around his foot. He stepped back down and raised the other and felt its twin form. “You think of everything, don't you?” He heard the softness in his tone and was surprised at himself.
The vibration was silent.
Chakotay walked for about a kilometer in the silence, with Tom once again bracing his ribs, adding a little support. He was attempting not to think about the fact that it was Tom wrapped around him, Tom keeping him warm, Tom touching his most private parts. But his thoughts kept slipping to the wonderful silken feel of the boxers that Tom had formed, and how his cock kept sliding along it as he walked. He wondered if Tom had made silk down there deliberately.
//Shit.// He felt it happening. He was growing hard.
“It's okay, Chakotay,” he heard Tom whisper to him. “I have a confession to make to you anyway.”
Chakotay tried to draw himself away from the wonderful feeling sliding along his cock. “What confession?”
“Remember that day a few months back? In my quarters? When I kissed you and grabbed you?”
Chakotay felt his cock twitch and get a little harder. He knew Tom could feel it. “Yes.”
“Well, I was confused because Harry used to play games with me, back when I was human. He, ummm, took your shape once or twice.”
“Well, he knew I was attracted to you and wanted to play with me. The first time he did it, he came to my quarters and pretended to yell at me, and then he, uh, spanked me.”
“Spanked you?” Chakotay swallowed. His erection was throbbing now. He could barely keep walking.
“Yeah. So when you came to my quarters that time, I thought he was you.”
Chakotay felt the material tighten at his groin, creating more friction.
“I'm really sorry about what happened, Chakotay. I told Harry about it, but I never let anyone else know…about any of it.”
The material tightened again.
“I know you're lonely. I feel really bad about what happened. Seeing you in that cell, all bruised and bloody, it made me think about what an ass I've been to you at times.”
“It's okay.” Chakotay could barely speak. The sensations coming from his cock were blacking out almost everything else.
“I know you love the captain, everyone knows it. But, if you want, sort of as an apology, I can help you out with this situation.”
Chakotay felt Tom close tightly around his cock, squeezing it. He moaned.
“Yes, please…but what about Harry.”
“It's okay. Harry understands.”
He felt Tom rippling across his erection, sending wave after wave of pleasure into his body. He fell down to his knees in the sand.
“Just lie back.”
He did, and felt Tom grow warm around him again, dissolving into his natural form. He felt Tom sliding all around him, and he felt tiny rough tongues licking him everywhere, as if he was a giant bowl of milk and all the kittens in the universe had just been let loose on him. He moaned.
He felt pressure at his nipples, suction, and then pinching. At his groin, it was like his cock had been put into a giant suction pump, pressure rippling up and down its length, and a hot, wet, slurping at the tip. He cried out and came.
When he got his voice back, he said, “Sex was never meant to be that good.”
He heard Tom chuckle. “At least I'm pleased to find out you only lasted 52 seconds. I made it over a minute the first time Harry did that to me.”
“That's it? All that in less than a minute?”
“Amazing, isn't it?”
“Unbelievable.” He thought about it for a few seconds, and couldn't believe he was going to say this. “You know, 52 seconds of your time is hardly a decent payback for the years of hell you put me through.”
Tom chuckled. “Is that an indication that you want more?”
“Not right now, no. But maybe another time?” He tried not to sound too hopeful.
“I'll tell you what. When we get back to the ship, I'll set up a date with you. I'll have to approve it with Harry, of course, but he'll let me. I get the feeling he's having far more fun than we are at the moment.”
“A date? I wasn't interested in romance, Paris.”
“Of course not, not with me anyway.”
“Perhaps you'd like an evening alone with the captain? Or at least someone who looks just like her? Feels just like her? Inside and out?”
Thoughts were racing through his head. He couldn't do this. He wouldn't even create her image on the holodeck. That was against StarFleet policy and plus it wasn't real. This would be like that right? But would it? An exact copy? He shuddered.
“Okay, Commander. I'll let you know when. For now, we better get moving. We still have a lot of distance to go.”
Chakotay groaned. “I can't. It was hard enough before, and now, after that, I can't.”
Tom snickered. “I'll take that as a compliment. However, you don't need to walk, just ride.”
“You can ride on my back. You do know how to horseback ride, don't you, oh Mystic Warrior?”
Chakotay laughed. He didn't even bristle at the taunt, not after what he had just experienced. “Of course I do. A horse? Why didn't you do that before?”
He heard Tom pause and then answer. “Harry told me I could try to seduce you. He's taking your place in the sex rites and doesn't want to feel like he's the only one cheating.”
“So why'd you say yes?”
“Because I wanted to. I've had fantasies about you since I joined the Maquis. I always wanted to touch you and feel you.”
Chakotay didn't know what to say.
“Don't worry. It isn't love or anything, just a case of lust. Kind of like having a crush on the teacher I guess. I love Harry though, with everything that I am.”
Chakotay sighed. He had felt like he was standing at a precipice. He had his own feelings for Kathryn, feelings he could never express. But the thought of having an experience like he just had, on a regular basis…well, it had tempted him for a minute. “I'm relieved to hear that, Tom.”
Just then, a siren blared out into the quiet night. “Shit, they found out you're missing. We gotta go!”
Chakotay felt warmth slide between his legs and get wider, lifting him up. In moments, he was sitting on the back of a horse, racing off across the desert.
Harry looked up at the Dais. His last novitiate had just looked up at him with purple eyes. Harry had enjoyed himself thoroughly, though it wasn't like linking. His, or Chakotay's, ass was pretty sore, but that would disappear when he shifted back to himself. He had let himself go, sucking, fucking, being fucked, whatever seemed best at the time. He smiled at the memory of their shocked faces when he had requested two novitiates at the same time, a male and a female.
“Are Your Graces pleased?” //They look shocked and horny as hell actually.//
“Commander Chakotay, you have completed your task in only six hours. We are astonished.”
“If it would please Your Graces, I could continue.” //Did I really just say that?//
The eldest one cleared his throat. “No, that will not be necessary. You have proven yourself worthy beyond our dreams. Even if you do not receive the support of the Corinor or the Grebers, you will receive your dilithium. You are a champion, beyond measure. It will be our gift to you.”
Harry bowed his head, pleased. “If it pleases Your Graces, but will the Corinor and the Grebers be willing to go without trade?”
“Commander Chakotay, you have just given the entire planet a gift beyond measure. All of us, Muhs, Corinor, and Grebers, all will be in awe of you. The broadcast of this ceremony has undoubtedly pleased them…”
“Pardon me, Your Graces. Did you say broadcast?”
Harry paled. They had a record of this?
Janeway sat in her Ready Room, eyes still glued to her viewscreen. She had watched Chakotay, or Harry, walked out of the room a few minutes ago. //Who would have thought this would have been more valuable than anything else to them?// She chuckled.
It had been the most erotic thing she had ever seen. When they had caught the announcement that the ceremony would be broadcast, she had it put directly to her Ready Room, and given Tuvok orders to ensure the transmission was not received anywhere else on board. She knew she shouldn't have watched it either, but she couldn't resist.
When Chakotay had entered the room naked, all thoughts of turning the viewscreen off disappeared. She had envisioned him so many times, in the dead of night, aching for him to touch her. She could never act on those feelings of course, but watching him, even though it was really Ensign Kim, was incredible.
She hit a few buttons to play back the transmission. She confirmed that the privacy lock was still active and shifted her legs in her chair as Chakotay reached out to grab a young woman's full breast.
“Tuvok to Janeway.”
Janeway roused herself from her bed. She had requested transport to her room rather than walk back, smelling of sex, even if was only by her own hand.
“Go ahead, Mr. Tuvok.”
“Commander Chakotay has just requested transport back to the ship, using Lieutenant Paris's comm badge. He has requested we beam him directly to Sickbay.”
“I'll be there in five minutes.”
//Thank the Gods I took a long shower before I went to bed. I'd smell like a Risean whore right now otherwise.//
She dressed and entered Sickbay to see Chakotay sitting on a biobed.
“A few cracked ribs, but nothing we can't fix,” she heard the doctor say.
“Welcome back, Commander.” //Damn it. That came out deep and throaty…and needy.//
“Glad to be back, Captain.”
She noticed he wouldn't look at her. “Where is Lieutenant Paris?”
She saw him glance down at himself. “Doctor, could you excuse us for a moment?”
The doctor looked annoyed. “Certainly, but I will need to tend to your injuries.”
When the doctor had disappeared, she saw a tendril oozing out of his uniform shoulder and understood. It waved at her and she chuckled.
“I see.” They had agreed that Harry and Tom would not reveal their more colorful aspects to the doctor. Each time he had heard about them, he had demanded to do studies, and Tuvok and B'Elanna had to keep clearing his memory banks. She had issued orders that no one was to reveal anything about them to the doctor, just to save Tuvok and B'Elanna the work.
She walked to the replicator and ordered him some temporary clothes. She returned and handed him a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. The tendril at his shoulder thickened, and formed a mouth.
“Hey Captain? Did you know that Chakotay wears an extra large? Jockstrap that is.”
She froze, blushing profusely. Chakotay ducked his head.
“Gentlemen, I think I will leave the two of you now.” She tried to keep an even tone. “I'll hear both of your reports later.”
She turned away and strode out of sickbay quickly, with bright red cheeks, and some dampness between her legs.
Harry and Tom parted and reformed themselves.
“Gods, I needed that.”
“Hey! I needed it more than you did. 24 of them did you say? And all I gave Chakotay was a lousy hand job?”
Harry chuckled. “But did you get it out of your system?”
“Yeah, it was okay, but nothing like being with you. But there's a slight problem.”
“Oh Gods. What did you do?”
“Nothing really. I just promised him something. But I need your help to pull it off.”
Harry's eyes widened as Tom outlined his plan.
Chakotay leaned back on his couch. //Am I really going to go through with this?//
It was the day he and Paris had set up for his date with 'the captain'. He felt a little guilty, but damn it, he was horny. He had hoped to relieve himself of these urges on the planet below, but Ensign Kim had wiped out that possibility in a devastatingly short period of time.
His door chime sounded and he nervously called out “Enter.”
Kathryn flowed in, wearing a pale green dress showing ample cleavage. His jaw dropped to the floor.
“Commander, I have a mission for you.” Her hands slid down her hips.
“Ssshh…Kathryn for tonight.”
Gods, even the voice was right. He stood up and moved to her…him…her.
He ached to kiss her, to feel her naked body. He moved his lips to hers and was stunned when he felt fingers against his lips.
“Meet me in the mess hall in 40 minutes. Dinner will be waiting.”
“The mess hall?”
“Don't worry. I pulled a few strings. It's completely empty.”
“Rank has its privileges.”
“You didn't. What if she finds out?”
She looked at him reprovingly. “Trust me.” She ran his fingers along his collar. “I like this red on you Chakotay. Keep it on…for now.”
He was breathing heavily. This felt so…real.
She walked to the door, and turned back to say “40 minutes, don't be late” and gracefully walked out the door.
Harry stood outside the Captain's quarters. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching and formed Chakotay and pressed a key on the door pad.
//Who can that be?// “Come in.”
She was startled to see Commander Chakotay, she had just been thinking about him. Thinking thoughts she shouldn't have been thinking.
//Gods, he looks gorgeous.//
He was wearing a loose red shirt, with the top buttons undone, showing his smooth chest. Tight black jeans clung to his legs, leaving nothing to the imagination.
“Captain? May I speak with you?”
“Of course.” She beckoned for him to sit down, mostly because she didn't trust herself to not stare at his groin. She was surprised when he sat next to her on the couch, rather than in the chair she had intended.
He leaned close and whispered, “Kathryn.”
Just the whisper of her name sent chills through her body, yet somehow managed to heat up her center.
“I can't wait any longer, Kathryn. Forget about the Alpha Quadrant, forget about Mark. I need you. I must have you.”
Her mouth was dry. “Commander…”
“No, not Commander. My name is Chakotay. Call me Chakotay.”
His lips had brushed her ear when he said that. Her heart was racing.
“I don't think…”
“That's it. Don't think, just do.” He reached out and set his hand on her leg, sliding it in towards her inner thigh.
She gasped. “I…I…” All trace of Captain Janeway was gone. She was Kathryn, a woman in need, and was astonished that he had reduced her to it so quickly.
“Kathryn, it's all right. I know you saw the broadcast. I know you want me. Tuvok told me that the broadcast of the ceremony was put to your Ready Room only. But Kathryn, this is just like that.” His hand massaged her thigh lightly.
She didn't grasp the meaning at first, and then it dawned on her. “You mean…”
“I mean I'm not the real Chakotay.”
She gasped again.
“But I can be him for tonight. You can't go on like this, Captain.”
“But…oh gods…I can't…Which one are you? Tom or Harry?” //I can't. This isn't him, and I can't even do it with him.//
“Does it matter? Wouldn't it be better to not know and just feel Chakotay?” He grabbed her hand and slid it to his crotch, letting her feel his rigid length.
She squeezed. She couldn't stop herself. //I can't do this, but Gods, I want it. I want him. I've always wanted him.// She heard herself whisper her agreement to him, and wasn't surprised at all.
“The mess hall, in 35 minutes.”
“The mess hall?”
“Don't worry, I cleared it. No one will see us. Rank has its privileges.” His hand was rubbing slow circles on her thigh.
She swallowed thickly.
“Wear your green silk dress for me, Kathryn. It's my favorite.” He rubbed his thumb across her lips and then stood up.
She stared at the prominent erection in his pants. “Oh Gods.”
“Dinner will be waiting for us.”
She entered the mess hall a few minutes late. The lighting was dimmed, but one table was lit brightly by candles, with Chakotay seated at it. He rose and walked towards her, gracefully, like a cat stalking its prey. She shivered beneath the thin material of her green dress.
The table was set with china, several covered dishes and a pristine white table cloth, glowing in the candle light. In the middle of the table sat a vase with two roses, one white and one red.
He took her hand and brought it to his lips, kissing her open palm.
//Gods, this is like a dream come true.//
She let herself be swept up in it.
He brought her hand back down and held it, gazing into her eyes. To this Kathryn, for this one night, he could say anything. It was hard to believe she was not the real Kathryn.
“Kathryn, you look stunning.”
She blushed. “Thank you, Chakotay.”
He had to say it. “I love you, Kathryn. I've loved you for so long.” He watched her eyes widen.
“I love you, too, Chakotay. I could never tell you before.”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately, almost believing the real Kathryn had just said that. His voice was husky and full of need. “Dinner can wait.”
His hands reached out to her waist and then slid up, cupping her breasts in both hands. He wanted to touch them, to feel the naked fullness against his palms. He reached up and pulled down the shoulders of her gown, letting it slip down, exposing her.
His fingers slid across her nipples and he heard her moan. //Gods, how is making this so much like her? At least how I've always dreamt her to be.//
He leaned in to kiss her again, roughly squeezing a breast in one hand, the other hand sliding down her back to cup her ass. He felt her hands busily unbuttoning his jeans, and in a moment, his cock slipped out into her waiting grip. It was his turn to moan.
The sound of movement in the background startled her. She froze, and felt him freeze as well.
The sound came again, faintly, coming from the dinner table.
She looked at Chakotay, and saw he was looking at the table, just as shocked as she was.
Both their mouths dropped open when they saw the flower vase quiver slightly. The two roses, one white and one red, shook for a moment and then stretched out, each becoming a golden orange liquid, arcing out onto the floor.
They grew and formed shapes. Suddenly, Tom and Harry were standing before them, smiling.
She looked at Chakotay, stunned. The real Chakotay.
He was looking at her just as stunned.
“Well, it looks like our work here is done,” she heard Tom say.
She swung her head back to face them. They were holding hands, with bright grins.
“Chakotay, I'd like to introduce you to the real Kathryn, who just confessed her love for you.” She glanced at Chakotay, who was staring at Tom.
Harry's voice brought her attention to him. “Kathryn, I'd like to introduce you to the real Chakotay, who just confessed his love for you.”
They both chorused together, “Have fun you two.”
She watched them walk to the mess hall doors, still processing what just happened. As the mess hall doors closed, she heard Tom say “We need someone for B'Elanna now. She's been with the warp core way too long.”
She blinked, it finally sinking in that it was the real Chakotay standing next to her. She realized they had both frozen in place. His hand was still on her breast, his cock, though somewhat softer, was still in her hand.
They still didn't move.
She felt Chakotay's cock hardening again, his fingers sliding across a nipple. She felt herself squeezing him softly.
He whispered to her. “Damn the pair, but I wouldn't trade this for anything.”
She looked at him, desire warring with duty…and felt duty lose. She kissed him.
“We've got to go, Tom! We only have three minutes!”
“Three minutes! Shit!”
“Where's my uniform? I told you we didn't have time for sex this morning!”
“Shit, we'll never make it.”
“If we're late, Chakotay will string us up!”
“Nah, he owes me two lives and owes me big for that night with the Captain.”
“Do you really want to chance it?”
“You're right. Where's my uniform?”
“Fuck it! Let's just go. We can just make uniforms for today.”
“Yeah. Faster than the turbolift.”
The two of them shot out of the ventilation duct on the bridge, dropping down and dashing for their stations before they had even formed yet.
The Captain and Chakotay shot amused looks at each other. This was not the first time the two bridge officers had arrived in this manner.
Two blobs reached their stations and formed into general shapes, finally becoming Tom and Harry.
The Captain's voice rang out. “Late night, gentlemen? You were almost late. By my chronometer, you made it by 30 seconds.”
The Captain leaned over to hear something Chakotay whispered, their fingers touching briefly. She laughed. “Mr. Paris?”
“Don't you think a uniform would be appropriate on the bridge?”
Tom flushed crimson, and he heard Harry laughing hysterically.
“Uh, yes, Captain.” He formed one quickly. “Hey, look at that! I still had two seconds to spare.”
The captain just looked around the bridge, wondering what would happen next. She settled her gaze on the view screen, thinking about the future and the shape of things to come.