Series: From A - Z
Part: 13
Title: Message
Author: Chuckles
Pairing: C/P
Series Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Paramount's, not mine!
Summary: The aftermath of Harry's admission to Tom.

As the door to Tom's quarters closed, Chakotay walked quietly out of the
bedroom and into the living area. He stood still for a moment as he took in
the dejected appearance of his lover. Tom was slumped on the couch, his head
buried in his hands, and Chakotay didn't need their link to know that he was
extremely upset.

Chakotay had heard every word that had been exchanged between Tom and Harry,
but he'd stayed in the bedroom in deference to Tom's wishes that they keep
their relationship private. He had felt Tom's shock and anger wash over him
as Harry had spoken, and now he could see, as well as feel, his lover's

Chakotay crossed to the couch and sank down next to Tom. Wordlessly, he
wrapped his arms around the younger man and pulled him into a tight embrace.
All Tom's sorrow flooded Chakotay's mind, but he made no attempt to block
it; he wanted to share it. There was no way he would allow Tom to suffer

Tom rested his head on Chakotay's bare shoulder. Tears streamed silently
down his face and fell onto his lover's warm, dark skin as he physically
expressed his feelings about what he perceived as Harry's betrayal of him.
The Ensign's admission that he wouldn't want a friend that was gay had
wounded Tom deeply, and left him numb inside.

Tom's distress was all too clear and Chakotay reached out with his mind to
connect with Tom's troubled thoughts. He allowed them to flow from the
younger man into himself, absorbing and neutralising them, then sent back
wave after wave of love and comfort in their place.

Tom's tears gradually died away as Chakotay held him close both physically
and mentally, and he softly kissed the older man's neck.

// I love you, Tom, // Chakotay responded.

Chakotay's unspoken declaration reverberated in his mind, and Tom knew then
that the only opinions that truly mattered were his and Chakotay's. It was
of no consequence if other people didn't approve of them, they would stay
together whatever anyone else thought. And if it meant losing his friendship
with Harry, well......

// Let's go back to bed, Tom, // Chakotay suggested. // We'll talk about
everything properly in the morning. //

"Okay," Tom whispered, and gave his lover another soft kiss before they
stood and made their way back to the bedroom.

After climbing into bed and once again entwining themselves body and mind,
they drifted to sleep.

They awoke the next morning to find a message waiting for them from the EMH.
He was annoyed that they had managed to avoid several of the check-ups that
he'd ordered after their return to consciousness, and insisted on seeing
them both before breakfast.

With their intended discussion about the previous evening's events
temporarily postponed, they quickly showered and dressed, then headed for

"Good morning, gentlemen, how lovely to see you," the Doctor gushed, as the
door opened to admit them. "Just take a seat, and I'll be with you in a
moment," he continued cheerily.

"You haven't been experimenting with that mood enhancer again, have you?"
Tom asked, wary of the Doctor's cheerfulness.

"No, Mr. Paris, I haven't," the EMH replied huffily. "Whatever would make
you think of such a thing?"

"No reason. You just seem to be in a pretty good mood that's all."

"Well I...... Ah, Seven! How nice of you to join us!" the Doctor remarked,
as the door opened once again. "I was just about to start the tests."

"Then proceed, Doctor," Seven instructed him. "I will monitor the results
with you."

"Excuse me," Chakotay interrupted. "But why are you here, Seven? Medical
examinations are usually confidential. And," he added, turning to the EMH,
"Whatever the reason, Tom and I should have been consulted first."

"I am sorry, Commander, I did not intend to intrude on your privacy. I am
merely continuing my investigations into how you were able to access the
computer systems while in a coma," Seven stated. "Any information that I
obtain here will be subject to the same security protocols as the rest of my

"Does that include the contents of the vid that you gave to the Captain?"
Tom asked. "And any conclusions that you might have reached about Chakotay
and myself?"

"Yes, Lieutenant. I will not be divulging anything that I have seen, or
deduced, to anyone other than Captain Janeway."

"Very well," Chakotay commented. "But I would still like to know why we were
not told of your participation in these tests."

"Ah, I'm afraid that's my fault," the Doctor stated a little reluctantly. "I
didn't think you would mind. After all, Seven has helped me with the test
results before."

"Maybe so, Doc, but as I understand it, we were both unconscious at the time
and had no choice in the matter," Tom informed the EMH. "We're not
unconscious now, though, so it would've been polite to ask us first."

"Then I apologise," the Doctor said contritely. "If it's all right with you,
I would like Seven to help."

"No problem," Tom replied. "But I'll let you know right now that I'm hungry,
so whatever you're gonna do, don't take too long about it. I want my

"Harry? What are you doing here?" B'Elanna asked with surprise, as she
answered her door chime. "It's not even breakfast time yet."

As the door closed behind him, she ushered the tired looking Ensign into her
quarters and gestured for him to take a seat on her couch. He sat down
wearily and looked over at her as she joined him.

"I know it's early, B'Elanna," he apologised, "but I really needed to talk
to someone and you're the only person I could speak to about this."

"What's wrong?" B'Elanna enquired. "You look like you didn't sleep last

"I didn't," Harry confirmed, "I had this stupid argument with Tom. I was
thinking about it all night and it kept me awake."

"An argument about what?" B'Elanna asked puzzled.

"Something really stupid," Harry repeated. "And all because Tom didn't have
the decency to inform me about his change of plans."

"Change of plans? You mean he didn't go to the holodeck with you last

"No, he didn't. I waited for him for fifteen minutes, then I spent the next
fifteen minutes trying to comm him. The computer said he was in his
quarters, so I kept trying because I thought maybe he was showering or
something. In the end I gave up and went round there."


"And we had this stupid argument about him being gay. I tried to reason with
him and gave him my honest opinion about it, but he got all angry and told
me to leave."

B'Elanna sat forward and looked carefully at Harry. "He told you he was
gay?" she asked.

"Well, no, he never actually said that. He just kept asking whether I'd
still be his friend if he *was*. I told him it was a daft question because
he isn't gay, but he insisted that I answered it."

"I see, and what brought that subject up? I mean, you went there to find out
why he didn't meet you, so how did you start talking about the possibility
of him being gay?"

Harry sighed, and his tired expression was replaced with agitation. "Because
I told him that *that's* what people would think," he informed her gruffly.
"And they *would*, I know what they're like!"

At B'Elanna's puzzled expression, Harry continued. "You didn't see how the
Commander was behaving on the bridge yesterday; it was sickening! He was all
over Tom and he couldn't keep his hands to himself! I tried to explain to
Tom that if it carried on, then people would talk."

"You mean they would say that Tom was gay?" B'Elanna questioned, as she
attempted to clarify Harry's comments. "And that they'd think he and
Chakotay were together?"

"Exactly! Only Tom didn't seem bothered. He didn't seem to understand, or
even care, why I'm concerned about him."

"And why *are* you, Harry?" B'Elanna asked sharply, as her growing
suspicions about his apparent concern for Tom began to show. "What would it
matter if Tom *was* involved with Chakotay? Chakotay's a great guy and he'd
be really good for Tom. They're both adults, so I can't see what the problem

"What do you mean 'you can't see what the problem is' or why it would
matter? Of *course* it matters!" Harry exclaimed with exasperation. "They
might be adults, but they're both *men* and Tom's *my* best friend! People
would talk!"

B'Elanna gazed at Harry in complete disbelief as his statement appeared to
confirm her thoughts. "I hope you don't really mean that," she growled
menacingly. "Because if you do, you can get the fuck out of my quarters
right now!"

"Mean what?!" Harry asked, being deliberately obtuse.

"Oh for fuck's sake, Harry, you *know* what! But just tell me if I'm wrong,
okay?!" B'Elanna challenged him, her anger growing astronomically. "For some
obscure reason, that I just *can't* comprehend, you're prejudiced against
same-sex relationships, aren't you?!

"You're not just worried that Tom might be gay, but that it might reflect on
you!" she accused him. "I bet that's the reason why Tom threw you out!"

When Harry remained silent and failed to refute her statement, she stared
directly into his eyes and continued with increased fury.

"You're not interested in Tom's happiness at all, are you? You'd rather he
spent the rest of the journey home alone than spend it with a man! You'd
begrudge him the chance of love just because his partner didn't meet with
your approval!

"You're just a selfish little prick who's only concerned about himself! I
don't know who these 'people' are that you're so worried about, but tell me
now that you wouldn't care what they'd think of *you* if Tom *was* gay!" she

"Of course I'd care what people would think of me! I'm not gay, and I have
no intention of being labelled as gay!" Harry practically shouted, as he
stood up. "I came here because I thought I might be able to talk to you, but
you're starting to sound just like Tom!"

"Then perhaps that should tell you something, Harry!" B'Elanna shouted back,
as she got up to stand in front of the Ensign. "Perhaps you should actually
start thinking about what you're saying, then shut the fuck up!"

"I know *exactly* what I'm saying!" Harry insisted angrily. "I'm saying that
I don't want people talking about Tom, and I don't want them talking about
me either!"

"And why the *fuck* would they do that?! Not everyone's a narrow-minded
little asshole like you, y'know! In fact I can't think of *anyone* that
would care one way or the other if Tom was gay or not! They wouldn't care if
*you* were either, for that matter!"

"Well, *I* care! And I have no intention of hanging around with Tom until he
gets all this *crap* out of his head!" Harry announced, as he walked towards
the door. "I'll see you around."

"Not with that attitude you won't!" B'Elanna retorted, as Harry stepped into
the corridor. "You're on your fucking own from now on!"


"Well that was an interesting morning," Chakotay commented to Tom.

The two men were sitting together in the dark and enjoying the quietness of
the small observation lounge at lunch time.

"Yeah," Tom agreed, "What with the trip to sick bay, Janeway's attempted
interrogation of us at the morning briefing and Harry's death glares, it was
very interesting."

"Well, it could have been worse," Chakotay remarked, as he took hold of
Tom's hand and stroked it gently.

"It could? How?" Tom asked, intrigued. He moved closer to the older man and
softly kissed Chakotay's cheek as he waited for his reply.

"We might have had the same problem that we had yesterday," Chakotay
grinned. "Remember?"

"Oh, God, yeah!" Tom laughed. "That was an experience! I wonder why we felt
so drawn to each other, though?"

"You mean you don't know?" Chakotay asked with a cheeky grin. "And I thought
you loved me!" he teased.

"I do and you know it! And yes, I'm always drawn to you, but not always as
urgently as yesterday; that was just incredible. I wonder why we don't feel
like it today?"

"Probably because yesterday we went straight to bed as soon as our shifts
finished," Chakotay guessed. "Apart from Ensign Kim's little interruption,
we must have spent about fourteen hours in your bedroom. We even forgot to
have dinner!"

"We should do that at the end of every day - make love all night, I mean,
not forget about dinner, and it should be minus the outburst from any
homophobic associates of course."

"Of course," Chakotay agreed. He turned slightly to look at Tom's face then.
"I really do love you, Tom, and I'm incredibly lucky to have you, especially
when you're willing to give up your best friend for me," he said softly.

"Cha, I can't give up my best friend - because my best friend is you," Tom
replied, leaning forward to kiss Chakotay on the lips. "I don't need anyone
else, ever."

Chakotay wrapped his arm around Tom's shoulders and pulled him closer. He
was lost for words, so instead he filled Tom's mind with all the love he

Tom snuggled even closer to Chakotay and lost himself in the warm feeling of
love that now surrounded them both. They were content in a way that they
could only be with each other, and relished every moment of it.

As they sat enjoying their unique closeness, swirling clouds of colour
appeared in their minds. The light they had seen when they'd been given the
Derzai's gift glowed dimly at the centre, until it suddenly leapt towards
them with an amazing burst of energy.

Chakotay and Tom reached out for each other as the light moved closer. As it
stopped just before them, and the brightness dimmed, a familiar face became
visible as it peered out from a bank of blue mist.

"The gift is growing, my friends," Azai stated softly, his voice barely
audible in the quiet room. "So now it is time."

"Time for what, Azai?" Chakotay asked, looking at the vision in front of

"It is time for you to receive an important message," Azai replied. "The one
that comes to you because of the knowledge, and that I will now reveal. You
must listen carefully and follow the law."

"Why didn't you tell us about this before?" Chakotay enquired. "Wouldn't it
have been simpler when you were on our ship?"

"Listen carefully," the vision repeated, "and you will understand."

As the men listened, another voice began to speak.