Go Not Gentle
Debra Fran Baker
The mess hall was draped in white, and the air was filled with the scent of flowers. Tears flowed from almost every eye. A new bride and groom held each other tightly, overcome by feelings they never thought to express. Seven of Nine stood apart from all of this, a blonde statue trying to understand what we were doing there together. My captain, my Kathryn - my wife - walked to the front of the room slowly and began to speak.
"I will not wear a white gown even for you, Tom Paris!"
"Don't 'but B'Elanna' me, blondie. If I'm not going to wear a Klingon gown, why should I wear the wedding clothes of *your* subset of humanity?"
I could hear Tom sigh across the mess hall.
"Maybe it was a mistake to let the two of them get married." Kathryn smiled over Neelix's latest concoction.
"They'll be fine, Kathryn."
"The first Voyager wedding. I'm surprised it took this long, Chakotay."
"Okay, Tom. I'll get dressed up for the wedding, but I'm not wearing white. It's bad luck."
Harry, who was refereeing again, looked at him. "In my culture, white is for mourning. A bride would never wear white. If B'Elanna thinks it's bad luck, it's bad luck. Red, now..."
"I'm not wearing red, either. At least, I'm not wearing a traditional Klingon gown."
"Too bad. I like those cutouts."
"And you love it, too."
"That's because I'm a fool. Tom, I'll wear a dress. I'll even wear a long *red* dress, but no veil, no crown and no cutouts."
Harry cut in. "If B'Elanna isn't going to be wearing a traditional gown, does that mean I can't be your sword bearer?" He sounded disappointed.
"*You* are going to be my best man." Tom sounded confident.
"My man of honor." B'Elanna challenged him.
"Can I be both?"
"You are both, Harry. We couldn't do this without you."
They were quiet again, until they found something else to argue about.
"Don't say it, love. When we get married, we'll do it in dress uniforms. Either that or we'll have a Betazed ceremony." Her eyes sparkled.
"Do you really want that? It would mean seeing Neelix nude."
"Hmmm. Afraid of the competition, Chakotay?"
"When are we going to tell the crew about us?"
"After we get those two settled. I don't want to upstage them."
I nodded. We weren't keeping our relationship a secret, but the engagement would stay undercover for a few more days.
"It's not going to surprise too many people, you know."
Harry chose that moment to walk by them, carrying his tray.
"Actually, Captain, there's a betting pool."
"What are they betting on?" I couldn't keep the grin from my face.
"Who proposed, when and how you'll announce it."
"What was your bet?"
"The captain proposed two weeks ago and Tom and B'Elanna will get a surprise during their wedding. Assuming they don't kill each other first. If they do, I get everyone's rations anyway."
He walked on. We laughed.
"Looks like our little ensign is getting more confident." Kathryn looked at him fondly.
"I know. He's actually getting comfortable around Seven of Nine." I smiled at that. I'd been all too amused when he'd reached out to her earlier, but now it seemed that he wasn't quite so intimidated.
"I'd say he was very comfortable, Chakotay. Look." I looked. Seven was *smiling* at him as they walked out of the mess hall arm in arm.
"Well, mother, I'd say our little boy is growing up."
"I hope they're happy. I could use another wedding."
*Crash* An empty tray hit the deck.
"And if you think you're going to have a bachelor party without inviting me, Mister, you are dead wrong!"
"Assuming we have *one* wedding, Kathryn." We got up and took control of the situation.
"One more week, Chakotay. One more week."
They married in dress uniforms and dignity, B'Elanna glowing with happiness in gold, Tom in red, both with wreaths of flowers on their brows. Neelix dropped them on just before they went to stand in front of Kathryn, Harry standing just behind them, and equally happy. He held their rings in his hand. The mess hall was draped with brightly colored banners.
Kathryn was even more beautiful than B'Elanna, at least in my eyes. She wore her dress uniform as if it were a gown, a queen to B'Elanna's princess. The standard Starfleet ceremony is brief and to the point, and Tom and B'Elanna saw no need to change it.
Immediately afterwards, we were ambushed. Not the ship - they ambushed Kathryn and me. They being the entire crew who were present - which only exempted the skeleton crew on duty and watching on their viewscreens. One minute I was going to claim my kisses from the couple, the next I was standing next to Kathryn, Tuvok was standing in front of us in his dress uniform and Neelix was dropping wreaths on *our* heads.
"What is the meaning of this?"
"Looks like a wedding, Captain." Tom's grin was positively devilish.
"Your wedding, Mr. Paris. Not ours." I didn't know how to react.
B'Elanna echoed Tom's grin. "Why not? The whole crew knows you two want to get married."
Kathryn looked at me. I shrugged and smiled. "Chakotay and I didn't want to spoil your wedding day. We would find a good date for ourselves."
"Right." That came from Harry, standing behind us. We both turned. He was holding Seven's hand. "You would have found some other excuse - a shipwide emergency, another wedding, the birth of a child, something. We...the crew...we all care about both of you and we want to see you be happy, and you are both happiest when you are together."
"Please, Captain. It would be tremendous help for ship's morale." Neelix spoke up from behind the buffet table.
"Indeed. It is not logical to delay this." Even Tuvok was part of this.
"Please, Captain, Commander. B'Elanna and I would be honored if you would share our wedding day."
We were being bombarded on all sides. The only recourse was surrender. I was never happier to concede defeat. And Kathryn - my Kathryn looked even more beautiful as we turned to face Tuvok, crowned as she was with flowers.
And so we were married. Harry produced a pair of plain gold wedding rings out of nowhere and somehow they fit us perfectly. And while my people have a more elaborate ceremony, I would treasure Starfleet's simple words forever.
And then I got my kisses from the *other* bride and groom. I think we danced for hours, with only brief breaks for food and drink. I know I danced with half the crew - and at one point Yael Sternlicht divided us up into male and female circles and led us all in running around with great enthusiasm to music with an infectious beat. But it was the slow dances I wanted more than anything. I could hold Kathryn in my arms as we swayed. I could see other couples forming, and we both watched as Harry and Seven slipped away.
"How long has *that* been going on, Tom?" I looked at my fellow groom. He was smiling ear to ear.
"A couple of months, I think. Have you noticed that Harry isn't blushing around her anymore?"
"He's grown up quite a bit." Kathryn sounded both proud and sad. I knew how she felt. On the one hand, we respected the man he'd come to be, on the other we missed the boy he was. He was a good man, though, and strong in his innocence and gentleness. If fate had been kinder to him, he'd be on his way up the ladder of Starfleet. As it was, barring either a miracle or a disaster, Harry would be running Ops forever. Some Starfleet vessel would be missing a fine captain twenty or so years from now. Or a fine chief engineer - Harry would be perfect in either capacity.
He proved that the next couple of days, because he and Tuvok insisted that Kathryn and I take a honeymoon. With B'Elanna and Tom also out of action, that left him and Tuvok in charge of the ship. So long as no real emergencies came up, Kathryn was content to let it be that way. Not that she didn't trust either with emergencies, but it was *her* ship and *her* crew and therefore her job to take care of them.
The *other* bride and groom helped us move my things into Kathryn's quarters, since it was their fault we had to do it. And then we disappeared for three days. They had a honeymoon program for the holodeck. We spent it just enjoying each other, in and out of bed. One moment I'll always cherish was the book we read aloud to each other. It was an old science fiction novel about a group that called itself "People." It wasn't that it was especially romantic, but it was gentle and sweet.
Three days was all Kathryn or I would permit ourselves. Then it was back to work. The Alpha shift was complete when we returned. This was not a surprise. Tom couldn't live without flying and B'Elanna needed to know her engines were treated right.
"Looks like we're addicted to work, Captain."
"That's what keeps this ship going, Tom." There were smiles all around and then we got back to the business of going home.
"What's our next destination, Mr. Paris?"
"Ma'am, according to the last people we contacted, we should be coming upon a good source of trace elements soon. It's an asteroid belt in an uninhabited and unclaimed system. It's pretty well mined out, but we can get enough for our needs."
"Excellent. We are getting short on a number of elements. Go there, Mr. Paris."
"Aye, aye, ma'am."
Most people think of asteroid belts as an obstacle course for starships. They are wrong. Asteroid belts are only slightly more crowded than normal space. Finding any chunk of rock is difficult. Finding just the right ones is almost impossible.
The crew of Voyager always does the impossible. In this case, it was Seven and her astrometrics lab who did the job. She and Harry were finally working together properly.
"Initiating sensor sweep of sector 840."
"Sensor sweep indicates pure nickel/iron."
"Initiating sensor sweep of sector 841."
"Sensors indicate...galbanum! Begin pinpointing the sensors, Seven."
"Yes, Ensign. Dividing the sector into subsectors."
It was a pleasure watching the pair work. Within hours, they had the belt mapped out with every possible source of useful minerals. Now we had to get them. Which meant that someone had to turn miner again. And again, Harry volunteered.
"What is it with you, Har? You are a department head. You don't have to do manual labor."
"I like digging, Tom. And I like getting out of the ship once in awhile, even if it's in an environmental suit."
"Mining in an e-suit is dangerous work, Harry. Are you sure you want to do it that way?" I wondered how our Harry could be so daring.
"Keep a transporter lock on me and I'll be fine. Anyway, Tom's coming with me."
My wife spoke up. "We'll need more than Tom. There's a lot of elements out there. Half the crew will turn miner, and I'll take any volunteers. In fact, I'll go myself."
"Kathryn!" They all turned to look at me.
"Harry isn't the only one who wants to get off this ship. We haven't found a place willing to give us leave in months. And *you* don't get protective of me. You may be my husband," her voice caressed those words, " but you are not my guardian." I nodded.
"Perhaps it would be best if we had several teams instead of individuals."
"I concur with Seven." Tuvok nodded towards her. "Teams of three would be optimum."
"One to be injured, one to stay with them and one to go for help?"
"Indeed, Commander. Also, it would mean greater efficiency for the miners, as one could store while the others dig."
"Mr. Tuvok, please take the names of volunteers and make up the teams."
We left the conference room. As we did, I overheard Seven and Harry.
"Anneke, are you certain?"
"I have no reason to suspect otherwise."
He broke out in a brilliant smile. "We'll tell the others after we finish mining. You're not going?"
"No. I'm needed aboard ship. Be careful, Harrison. You are...important to me."
I hummed as I left the room. I'm a romantic.
Tuvok teamed Kathryn and me up with Harry, and we were sent to find rare earths on a fairly big chunk of rock, armed with a phaser rifle, a pick and shovel, tricorders and containers.
There was absolutely no discussion about who would do what job. Kathryn grabbed the rifle and began calibrating it for the asteroid, and Harry picked up a tricorder and the metal implements. That left me to pack, which was just fine.
I couldn't mistake my bride's laughter as she vaporized rocks, leaving the ones we wanted behind.
"Enjoying yourself, Kathryn?"
"I'm imagining that the rocks are Kazons and Hirogen and Borg and I'm saving my ship. I feel ten years younger, Chakotay."
As for Harry - every time he swung his pick, he was pushed backwards.
"Darn Newton! Equal and opposite reactions are not funny." I could hear the grin in his voice.
"Need some help?"
"No, I'll figure it out. I just need to balance..." He adjusted his grav units.
Kathryn stopped for a moment to look around.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" There was awe in her voice.
"It's been a long time since I've seen the stars so close. They always look different through an atmosphere, even through starship windows. I feel very connected to them."
"I'll never get to know the stars in this quadrant. I used to know all the constellations back on Earth."
"We named constellations on my homeworld, too. Someone had a sense of humor - we have the Coffee Cup and the Teddy Bear as well as the Spear and the Fish."
"Do you miss it very much, my love?"
I didn't have to think about it. "No. I don't miss it at all. My home is with you, wherever you are. And since that's in that pretty bird flying above us, I am home."
"Then it's a good thing we got married."
You can't kiss in e-suits, and hugging is less than satisfactory, but that was fine. I could see her smile.
Harry was watching us.
"What about you, Mr. Kim? Are you homesick?"
"No. That's my home up there, too, where my friends and my family are. The only people I really miss now are my parents." He looked right at Kathryn then. I could see his eyes behind his faceplate. They were bright, clear and honest. Much like the man himself. We'd watched him grow from a green boy straight out of the academy into someone who would give any parent pride. Maybe we even had a hand in that growth. "And while I will always miss their love, I'm glad I have you both to help me as they would have."
"Gentlemen, I suggest that we get to work. Our O2 won't last forever." Kathryn was sniffing. Don't cry in near-zero gravity - the tears stay in your eyes and you can't wipe them away. I gave my head a violent shake instead.
Harry found a way to use the pick and shovel, Kathryn happily blasted away her enemies and I picked up after them. We soon had our quota. Trace minerals and rare earths are funny things. We never need much of any one of them, but if they aren't around we're in trouble. With this one day's mining, we'd be set for months, if not longer.
We piled the crates for ease of transport. It wasn't easy. There was practically no gravity on that rock, so the crates didn't weigh much, but we still had to fight inertia. We used portable grav units to keep them down, just as we did for ourselves. They weren't perfect, but they helped.
Kathryn was just about to signal the ship for transport when it happened. One moment, Harry was leaping to place one last crate, the next he was lying face down on his pick. His grav units must have malfunctioned. There was blood - so much blood. As Kathryn called for an emergency transport to sickbay, I turned him over. The pick had gone completely through him.
We materialized in sickbay. Moments later, Tom arrived. Even before he removed his own e-suit, the Doctor was cutting off Harry's. Kathryn and I retreated to the other side, where we were joined by B'Elanna and Seven. Just as I will never forget the sight of Harry on that asteroid, I will never forget Tom working frantically with tears rolling down his cheeks, helping the Doctor as best he could.
Don't ask me how long we waited. My heart said an eternity, my head said not long enough and my chrono said something I didn't believe. I prayed, Kathryn paced and researched the library, B'Elanna raged quietly and Seven just stood in silence, occasionally touching her belly.
Then I saw the Doctor shake his head. Tom looked like he was going to argue, but then he nodded. Kathryn caught her breath. She'd seen the same thing. The two worked for a few more minutes, and then the Doctor came to us.
"I'm sorry. I'm afraid there was too much damage in too many organs. Mr. Kim would not survive further surgery."
"No! You can't give up! That's *Harry* on that table! Doctor, you are programmed to save lives, not..."
"Lt. Torres, I have done all that I can do. Anything more would be counterproductive. Harry is conscious now, and he wishes to speak to Seven of Nine."
I watched Tom kiss Harry before he left. As soon as he joined us, Tom collapsed in tears. B'Elanna eased him into a chair and held him as he sobbed.
"Shh, querido. He has a warrior's heart. He will face death bravely. You'll see."
"He doesn't want to go. He's fighting to stay with us. Why him? What are we going to do without Harry?" He buried his head in B'Elanna's chest.
"Kathryn, look at Harry's eyes." She did as she held my hand. "He's already looking at the other side."
"I want him to stay here. We need him, Chakotay."
"He'll be going to a higher place. His soul is too special for anything else. And he'll always watch over us." At that moment, I wanted to believe those words.
Seven bent over the bed, holding his hand and touching his dark hair. I could see her nod once and touch her belly again. Then she kissed his lips. She straightened and touched his cheek. I had no idea she could be so gentle, or that she felt so much for Harry. I could see his eyes in the distance.
Then, to our horror, Harry began to jerk. Tom was about to rush from his wife's arms, but the Doctor was already there. We could hear Harry cough once, and then he was silent. The Doctor looked up and shook his head.
Kathryn stood and stared. "Good-bye, my son."
"Our son." She looked at me and smiled sadly.
Seven was clearly struggling with unfamiliar emotion when she came back to us.
"Ensign Kim...Harrison...wanted me to tell you this as soon as possible."
"What is it, Seven?" I had a suspicion, but it was hers to say.
"As you may know, Harrison and I have been lovers for several months now. My reproductive system recently became functional, which was quite unexpected. I am pregnant, and have been for about a month. We learned this today."
"Pregnant?" Kathryn's voice was soft, and tear-filled.
"Yes, Captain. We were happy, and the Doctor says I am healthy. Harrison's genes will survive in his child."
Kathryn nodded. "We will discuss modifying your schedule. Are you all right, Seven?"
"I do not know, Captain. Events have been occuring too swiftly."
"We're all here for you, Seven. Remember that."
It was time to face the rest of the crew. I watched my wife turn into "Captain Janeway." It took me longer, but I found the commander waiting inside of me, too. We had to be strong.
Only a week earlier, the mess hall had been bright and joyful. Now it was stark and white. There was a bare white urn with Harry's ashes, and a holo of him, smiling and joyful at the weddings. And the scent of flowers was everywhere as we burned incense. Tom and B'Elanna held each other closely. Seven stood straight and tall and alone. She even rejected Kathryn's attempts at consolation. She'd replaced her customary jumpsuit with a soft white robe, and her hair was loose. Every once in a while, she'd touch her belly.
No one else was a Buddhist aboard, and no one was qualified to say the correct prayers, so Kathryn did the other duty of captains everywhere. She stood in front of the assembled crew, and the viewscreens for the skeleton on duty.
"Harry Kim was one of the brightest lights on this ship. He would have honored any ship. His brilliance, his enthusiasm, his honesty and his strength were dedicated to all of us, and without him I don't know if we would have made it this far.
"But now that he's been torn from us, we must continue without him. We will keep this ship running and we will take her home. For Harry and his child and all the other children who will be born as the years go on. And Harry himself will always be with us. Look at the stars and you'll see his bright eyes. Look in your hearts and you'll see his gentle spirit. Look at Seven of Nine and you will see his future."
She turned to face the urn and the holo. "Good bye, Harry. Safe journey home. We love you." She covered her face with her hands.
I went to her. There were tears running down her face. It had been two days since Harry died, and now was the first time she'd cried. As I held her in my arms, I began to weep as well. I could see Tom comforting B'Elanna.
And I could see Seven. There were tears glistening on her face. She touched them in wonder.
"Kathryn...Seven needs you." My wife nodded and wiped away her tears. She didn't become "Captain" again. She became something older and stronger. She held my hand as we walked to Seven.
"Captain?" Her voice was ragged. "What is happening? I can't control my breathing, and my eyes are producing excess moisture."
Kathryn touched her shoulder. "Seven...Anneke...it's grief. It's crying and it 's perfectly natural and right and human that you do cry. In fact, it's probably healthy for you and the child. So, cry. That's what a funeral is for - it provides a ceremonial outlet for grief. There are also hormones from your pregnancy flooding your system."
"Afraid of what?"
"Losing control. I've never felt like this, and I'm concerned I might be violent and not be able to control it."
"We'll manage, Seven. You aren't alone here. We may not be a collective, but we are your family."
Kathryn held Seven in her arms. Seven began to sob - harsh, ugly noises that filled the mess hall. Then she wiped her eyes and walked gracefully to the urn, and touched it, saying good bye again.
"Push! Push!" Tom stood at her head, looking at the mirror positioned in front of Seven of Nine.
"I am pushing, Tom. The child doesn't wish to make his appearance."
"Oh, yes, he does. Here's the head. And now the shoulders. And...he's beautiful and perfect. Just like his uncle."
"And his grandparents." I felt as if I were one at that moment.
"And his mother." Kathryn smiled at her.
"May I see him?"
"Of course. Hold him very gently."
"Thank you, Doctor. Captain, I believe he has his father's eyes."
"I agree. As bright as any star."
"I will name him Harrison." Annika Hanson smiled at her new baby.
Debra Fran Baker firstname.lastname@example.org