Disclaimer: Resistance is futile, particularly when it comes to chocolate,
coffee, and writing fanfic. All things I pay for and get nothing in return
but a good feeling and feedback. So don't worry, Paramount, for all things
Star Trek are still yours.
Author's Note: This story is based on my very first one which I've written
in German. It had a few flaws, though, so I decided to rewrite the whole
thing J/P style and make it more up to date (including "Survival Instinct").
Rated: PG-13
Written: 4/00

Living in Sin
By Claudia

"For you've touched her perfect body with your mind."
—Leonard Cohen, Suzanne

Chapter 1

 The panel above Tom's head was beeping discretely,
constantly monitoring his vital signs it was programmed to keep
watch over. The surgical arch was closed protectively over him,
providing his broken body with all the nutrition and medications
necessary for his recovery. As for now, Tom Paris was kept in
artificial paralysis to help the delicate nerve tissue of his spinal
cord heal. No matter where he was touched, he wouldn't feel
anything, except for in his face.
 By now, Kathryn Janeway knew every bit of his face as
though it were the back of her hand. She knew the softness of his
skin, particularly the space between his eyebrows, mesmerized by
the softness of the fine hair there. The flesh of his lips was so new
that it was still very tender. Also, she enjoyed letting the back of
her finders being tickled by the stubble on his jaw and chin.
 But she longed for more. She wanted to touch his hands,
wanted his arms around her, his breath on her skin.
 Kathryn closed her eyes. She wanted him so much it hurt.
His health, though, wouldn't allow that, let alone the Doctor. Tom
had been on the edge of death more often than anyone had cared to
count during the surgery. It had been a week now, and he still was
in a coma. The EMH repeatedly urged her to be patient, but
patience had never been a virtue of Kathryn's, unless it concerned
her beloved science.
 The Captain of Voyager craned her neck in different
directions to relieve the tension that had built in her muscles. When
she opened her eyes again, her gaze fell inadvertently on the
medicine wheel that Chakotay had put up for his friends earlier. He
had told her something about the meaning and effect of the stones
in general, and about their location on the wheel in particular. He
had even been so awfully kind as to carve a new stone especially
for Tom. To put it in a simple way, the end of a medicine wheel
was to guide the mind and soul of a comatose or dying person back
on the right way.
 "You'll have to be patient, Kathryn," Chakotay had told
her. "Let the spirits find his soul, and let him learn to trust them.
He will, for he is a smart man who'd better not leave a girlfriend
like his on her own."
 Kathryn had thanked him with a big hug. After all they had
been through they had finally made it to a comfortable level of
relationship. With both of them either married or happily in love
they had realized that what had always been between them was the
beginning of a very deep friendship that went beyond the love they
had once been so close to sharing.
 So, Kathryn was grateful for her friend's help, but with
Tom not being a very spiritual person, she was having doubts
whether the medicine wheel would have an effect on her
boyfriend's healing process. As the Doctor had pointed out—and
that repeatedly so—it would at best enhance his spirits, but he
wouldn't make it without all the technology in the surgical bay.
Kathryn knew that, of course, but she hadn't said anything. Once
she had believed in the power of things spiritual, and she had saved
a life with that power.
 "Are you okay?" Both the question and the warm hand on
her shoulder startled her and woke her from her reverie. She turned
around and found Riley standing behind her, her hand now gliding
from her shoulder into Kathryn's hand. The older woman gave her
an appreciative squeeze.
 "Yes, thank you," she said wearily. "I could do with a cup
of coffee now, though."
 A smile spread on the former Borg's face, and it was only
then that Kathryn noticed her hiding something behind her back.
When Riley finally revealed her secret, Kathryn smiled. Somehow,
this woman must have read her thoughts, for she had brought a
thermos flask and matching cup. Several of her crew had finally
managed a way to grow coffee trees in Hydroponics, and now all
the coffeeholics were enjoying the first harvest. Sometimes the
corridors outside the Mess Hall were thick with the scent of freshly
brewed coffee.
 "Thank you ever so much, Ril," Kathryn whispered,
holding the cup so her friend could pour her some. She took a sip
of the steaming hot beverage and enjoyed its bitterness with eyes
 "How's Tom?"
 "Quite fine, I think," Kathryn said. She watched her while
Riley was scrutinizing the readouts on the sides of the medical
arch. With the Doctor's help, Riley had grown her own blonde hair
back, and by now it was cascading down her shoulders in thick
waves. She had saved Chakotay's life, something for which
Kathryn would be forever grateful to her. In turn, she had offered
her to come back home with them, an offer Riley had only been too
happy to accept after she had seen through the hidden agenda of
the rest of the former drones. Her presence—and expertise in all
things Borg—had changed life aboard Voyager quite a bit. After
all, she had been the catalyst that had one couple marry and
another live in sin.
 "I don't know how to say it, Kathryn, but the three of us—
and my lord and master—have looked for a way to make things a
little bit easier for the two of you," Riley began. She had referred to
Seven and Marika Wilkara, Three of Nine. The Bajoran ex-Borg
was spending the remainder of whatever short time was left of her
life on Voyager. Although reticent at first, she had soon embraced
life aboard Voyager as much as she could. Riley and Chakotay in
particular were those with whom she spent most of her time.
Kathryn couldn't think of a better guide to humanity than her best
 "Well, we'd like you and Tom to have this," Riley
continued after pausing. From one of her pockets she produced a
silver box.
 "What is it?" Kathryn put her cup down on a table standing
nearby, and looked curiously at the small container Riley was
proffering her.
 "It's something you'll enjoy a lot," Riley said cryptically.
 Kathryn took the box, and when she opened it she found a
pair of neurocortical monitors imbedded in the black foam
material. "These are modified neural transponders."
 "To form a kind of a mini-collective between two people,"
Kathryn concluded.
 "Exactly," Riley smiled. "So Tom won't feel so alone
anymore. But I must strongly advise you not to use it for longer
than two or three hours a day. It could cause damage in Tom's
nervous systems."
 "Thank you, Doc," Kathryn whispered, carefully closing
the small box. "You have no idea how much you've helped us with
that." She stood and embraced the doctor.
 Riley smiled and massaged the older woman's shoulders.
"Believe me, I do. This was Chakotay's idea, after all. He
appreciated the neural link a lot when he was injured on the Borg
 Kathryn's lips turned into a mischievous smile. "What else
does your prescription say?"
 "Use it only when I'm on duty. Doc probably wouldn't
appreciate this," Riley whispered conspiratorially.

 The box with one of the neural transponders was sitting on
the glass top table in front of Kathryn. She had just returned from
Sickbay, had for once left Tom in the capable hands of Dr. Frazier.
It wasn't that she didn't trust either her or the Doctor, on the
contrary. She wanted to be there for him, make sure that he was
okay, let him know in some way she hadn't yet found that he wasn't
alone, that he was being cared for and taken care of. Still the coma
was a mystery to science. Many different theories existed as to
what was going on in a person's mind when they were trapped in a
coma. That was why even a medicine wheel had been put up for
Tom. And that was why Kathryn kept sitting by his side until she
fell asleep from exhaustion.
 But now, the neural transponder had been affixed to the
base of his skull, where Riley had activated it. A constellation of
flickering lights had told them that it was active, as had a specially
designed program on the surgeon's console. Riley then had shown
Kathryn how to activate the link, and had wished her luck.
 Now, in the privacy of her quarters, she was sitting on her
sofa, her neural transponder in front of her. "Please make this
work," she murmured to herself, then she took the device from its
case and attached it behind her ear. Then she took a deep breath
and activated it.

 Neither of us had ever had anyone in our thoughts before.
Well, there had been the odd mind-meld, but that didn't really
count because Tuvok had been very discrete in his way, and on top
of that he'd known what he was doing. It never felt like an intrusion
on our minds. But what happened now was completely different.
Tom had withdrawn himself into the deepest part of his inner
recesses, whereas Kathryn had opened her mind completely to the
link. It was overwhelming and it was only then that we fully
grasped the dilemma of the survivors of Seven's unimatrix. You
weren't alone, never, and in the matter of seconds we learned
everything about each other. There weren't any secrets any more. If
Tom had known, he wouldn't have allowed it. Not because he had
to hide something.
 It was just so much, and while Kathryn was giving away
every part of her being, Tom just remained where he was. He
stayed within the shelter of the protective wall, had shut down all
the other parts of his mind. Even a Vulcan couldn't have held
themselves more in check than Tom did in his coma. Despite that,
Tom learned about Kathryn, because there are parts of your mind
you can't keep in control easily.
 One of the first things Kathryn learned was that Tom was
still responsive to sensory input, such as touch, and sound, and
smell, and taste. It was so good for her to see that after all, he still
was there, and he appreciated what she was doing. He just couldn't
act on it, or rather, he wouldn't. What he had seen had been so
abominable that in order to keep it in check in his mind, he couldn't
bother with his surroundings and people about him. Kathryn knew
that this was a protective mechanism, and no one and nothing
could break it easily.
 ::I miss you so much, Tom,:: Kathryn thought, and knew
that he had understood. She could follow up her words into his
mind, for such was the nature of the link of our minds.
 But for the moment there was no way for Tom to leave his
shelter, because what he had seen was still too abhorrent for him to
cope with. And suddenly we realized that if Tom kept shutting
himself out from the world, he would come back either with
amnesia or never wake again. That was, his body might, but part of
his mind would remain adrift.
 Both were chances Kathryn didn't want to take.
 Tom could sense the profound fear within her, but also her
love, and her strong determination to get him out of here, her
unwillingness to accept her helplessness. If he could, he would
have tried to make her change her mind. But that meant leaving his
shelter, which of course he couldn't. If he had, Kathryn would have
been successful.
 "I love you, Tom Paris," Kathryn said into the loneliness of
her quarters, and Tom could hear it. Kathryn cupped her left hand
in her right, and slowly raised them to her lips. She started to kiss
the base of her palm, drawing a line from her wrist to the tips of
her fingers. And while she was feeling herself touching her skin,
she also felt what Tom was feeling; our minds were linked to feel
and sense what the other felt and sensed. Experiencing the
excitement of kissing someone and being kissed at the same time
was overwhelming.
 It allowed the part of Tom's mind that kept track of the
sensory input to enjoy our sensations. We knew Tom loved being
kissed in this way, but we also knew that he couldn't be lured out
of his shell that easily.
 "You're not alone, we're taking care of you. Everything
will work out, just come back to us. It's not time for you yet,"
Kathryn whispered, and again we heard her voice both in our
minds and ears. And our minds smiled at the way Kathryn felt
about listening to herself with another's mind.

 Riley deactivated the neural transponder after the terminal
had informed her that the link was broken. During all the time of
the link she had kept track of Tom's vital signs and brainwaves,
and whatever Kathryn had done worked. For a few brief seconds
there had been spikes in the otherwise calm brainwaves, depictions
of Tom's imperceptible reaction to Kathryn's presence. That was an
incredible success. She hadn't expected much of anything. Kathryn,
of course, was delighted to learn about this new development when
Riley informed her via the intercom.
 When she went about to change the sheets and wash him
with Kathryn's help, Dr. Frazier made another discovery. She had
just lowered the surgical arch and removed the silvery blanket
when she noticed that Tom's left hand, which until then had been
clenched up by spastic paralysis, was resting completely relaxed on
his stomach.
 "What have you done to him, Kathryn Janeway?" Riley
couldn't help wondering aloud. She gathered his left hand in hers
and found that it was just limp. Her gaze then fell on his toes which
until then had been slightly curled. But they were just as relaxed as
his fingers. She slipped her hands around his neck and found the
muscles there less tense than usual. "What has she done to you?"
 "I told him that I loved him, and I kissed him in the way he
loves," came the reply from the door.
 Riley turned to Kathryn. She was standing with her back
turned on the door, so Kathryn couldn't see what she had done to
him. Kathryn was suddenly in a hurry to be by his side, and when
she noticed the changes in his posture, she let out a cry that
sounded like both a laugh and a sob. She picked up his hand, and
kissed his palm although she knew he couldn't feel it because of the
artificial paralysis.
 "Oh good God," she whispered on the verge of tears. "I had
no idea," she said, looking at Riley.
 "Neither had I," the physician had to admit. "It's incredible.
You've got to tell me everything."
 And tell her Kathryn did while they were taking care of

 From that point on, Kathryn and Riley were very optimistic
about Tom's recovery. The Doctor, of course, felt left out and was
disappointed by the fact that the women had made an important
decision without him. At first he would have rejected their idea of
using the neural transponders as a way to get through to his patient.
It was a very intrusive therapy, which on top of that wasn't even
thought of as such. Plus all this Borg stuff was getting far too
omnipresent an universal remedy in his Sickbay.
 "But don't you see, Doc, that the neural transponder is just
a means to communicate with Tom? It doesn't cure anything at all,
that is something which you and I are here for. And Tom has to
help as well, of course," Riley argued.
 The Doctor still huffed. "You could have asked me at least.
It's hardly asking too much, now, is it?" Kathryn had to admit that
he was having a point there.
 "I'm awfully sorry, Doc," she said. "I guess I was too
carried away as to think about that," she admitted.
 "Well," the EMH allowed, "it's obvious that Tom shows
recovery. But next time—"
 "We will ask, of course," Riley finished the sentence for
him. Then she stood on tip toe and kissed his cheek. "Thanks

 ::Kathryn, is that you?::
 Her heart skipped a beat. ::Of course, silly.:: She would
never have expected a reaction like this from him, at least not at the
second time they were linked. Kathryn pressed her fingers to her
lips, and instantaneously we could feel the ripple of warm pleasure
that slowly spread in Tom. At the same time, we felt the touch with
her own senses. It was so overwhelming to experience both of our
sensations that we wondered would it would be like if we were
linked while making love to each other.
 Kathryn smiled, and Tom felt the movement of her
muscles. ::What was I thinking,:: we could hear her think. This
time, Tom didn't answer, though. We knew how much will power
it had cost Tom just to ask for her. So Kathryn couldn't ask for
more. ::You're incredible, bluetiful,:: she said. ::You're all relaxed
now. Thank you so much for that.::
 We were certain that her bluetiful had heard. So Kathryn
let us being carried away by the sensations of lips on a palm, as
they slowly traveled towards the fingertips, leaving a slightly damp
trail in their wake. The hand was so warm as it cupped the other
hand, and we thought we would die from the tenderness of the new
touch. The fingertips of the one hand were slowly grazing the soft
skin of the inside of a forearm.
 Tom sucked in air, Kathryn could feel his chest heave with
the excitement of the touch. We were very sorry when she broke
the link, but maybe it had been too much for one night.

 Two days later, Tom's condition still hadn't changed. When
Chakotay came to check on him, he talked softly to him. Kathryn
had told him that Tom knew very well what was going on around
him. It was her and the doctors' strong belief that if they kept
including him in their lives and the goings-on on Voyager it would
be easier for him to wake.
 "Hey, Poocuh, how are you?" His gaze flew over the
readings on the monitors. Although not a doctor, Chakotay knew
immediately that something was wrong. The readings seemed to be
fine, but he had an uneasy feeling about the EEG. "What's going on
here, Tom?" he muttered, scrutinizing the younger man
thoughtfully and worried. The bruises and lacerations had
disappeared. There were no scars whatsoever, his skin was a little
pinker where the Doctor had regenerated it.
 Chakotay's eyes wandered from Tom's sleeping beauty's
face to the medicine wheel next to the monitors above his head.
And frowned at the very same moment. The Eagle Stone wasn't
supposed to be in the center of—
 "Hang on a minute," Chakotay murmured. "Unless I knew
you were in a coma, Poocuh, I'd say you're not too keen on coming
back." He shook is head, wondering what had happened here. All
the other stones were in exactly the same places where he had put
them a couple of days ago.
 The Doctor, who had noticed the Commander coming in,
put down his tissue samples and scanner, and joined him in the
main surgery area. "How can I be of assistance?"
 Chakotay explained the situation without taking his eyes
off the depiction of the inner and outer universe of Tom's mind.
After he had ended, the Doctor frowned. "I haven't moved any of
the stones."
 "Chakotay to Frazier."
 After Chakotay had repeated his explanation once more, he
received the same answer as before. Kathryn didn't know anything
either, and it took the two men all their powers of persuasion to
make her stay on her bridge. "We'll find about this, Captain."
 Her reply was hesitant, accompanied by a little sigh. "Very
well. Janeway out."