Not Like a Virgin
Summary: Tom undergoes a virgin birth on a pretechnological world. This is in response to Maz's challenge for Tom to experience a virgin
birth in the context of a Christmas carol. The carol is Away in a Manger. You may know the words, I didn't reproduce them here. Minor spoilers for Thirty Days.
Disclaimer: The Ensign and the Commander (sigh), and everything, belong to Paramount. The story is mine. Copyright 1998.
Warning: Not much, no sex, mild language. But there is attraction between two men. If that isn't for you, please feel free to go elsewhere.
Comments are welcome: email@example.com.
I want to thank those who made comments to an earlier version I sent out on limited distribution.
12/28/98; revised 1/5/99
Not Like a Virgin
On this holy night I retell the tale handed down to me from my grandmare who witnessed these events. Let us gather our hay about us and settle comfortably in the stable yard. According to grandmare . . .
The stable and home of my family burned down and I was loose in the world. I had left the valley, gone over the mountain pass, and now grazed on the side of a hill, enjoying the sunshine of the late afternoon. Unexpectedly, I saw shimmering blue lights and suddenly two alien appearing men stood on the hillside. These men were not unlike my family's species, bipedal, short noses, small ears, compact necks. They did not have the prominent brow ridges and flaring ears of my family's species, rather they appeared somewhat delicate.
The taller of the two seemed to be younger, with light hair and eyes the blue of the shimmering lights. The other man was older, dark mane and dark eyes, a marking on his forehead. It surprised me to find that they wore clothing very much like the people of my family. Each carried a pack on his back that appeared to be made of materials from this land. When he saw me looking at them, the darker man placed a hand on the arm of his companion. Standing motionless, they spoke softly for awhile and I gave them sounds of a greeting combining neighs and snorts. Presently, I was able to understand them.
"We are a peaceful people. We mean you no harm. I am Commander Chakotay and this is Ensign Tom Paris."
I signaled back that I intended them no harm either. The older one, Chakotay, came closer, holding out his hand for me to sniff. With a pained expression, the younger one followed in his wake. Snuffling up against the darker man I nuzzled his shoulder with my muzzle. His answering hand was warm as he stroked my neck and the short, fuzzy horn between my ears. Despite the pleasure of his touch, I watched the younger man with apprehension. There was barely disguised fear on his face. I gave him a gentle nudge on his arm and saw a hesitant smile light that fair face. It would be all right.
"Tom," the older one smiled at his companion and then echoed my thoughts. "See, it's all right. She won't hurt you."
"Yeah, if you say so. But, don't forget, I'm a city boy."
"She's really beautiful. Look at her, Tom, the forest colors of her coat, those large, intelligent eyes . . . "
I could not help but preen a bit at his praise. "I am FrontPacer of the stable of Stoneleigh. How may I help you?" I signaled.
"Can you tell us where to find people similar to us?" The commander explained, "We're hoping to trade for food stuffs."
Sensing no deceit, I nodded, brushing the sleeve on the younger man's arm as I did so. He started but smiled at me. It was possible his smile was a little nervous. I shook my head to indicate that I was just teasing and he smiled at me again. Some of the tenseness had left his body. "My family has met difficult times, but I will take you to them."
For the first time, the younger one, Tom Paris, spoke to me. "What happened to them?"
"They were burned out, the stable, the house, the outbuildings, all gone."
"Was anyone hurt?"
"Yes. My foal was burned. The owners were overcome with smoke."
The fair one looked at me with compassion on his face. "Are they all right?"
"The foal is healing. The owners have let me loose to be on my own until they rebuild. Others of the stable are also on their own."
"How far is it?"
I stepped back a bit and looked at them. The shorter one was about the height of the male in my family. And he was sturdy. The taller one
seemed a bit spindly by the standards of my family and he had spoken of being a city boy. I had some reservations about his stamina. "Three days journey for the two of you."
They exchanged significant glances at each other and conferred softly. I let my ears fall so that I would not eavesdrop, yet I couldn't help but
pick up some of their words. Chakotay was ready to go, the younger one was hesitant, mentioned going back to the ship. I wondered what ship he referred to as there was no water way nearby, only small ponds and streams. It appeared that the older one was in charge and he encouraged the fair one to get into the spirit of things. I had no idea what he meant. He then fingered a silvery ornament on his chest and spoke aloud as if having a conversation with an unseen entity. Finally, he turned to Tom Paris and told him, "The ship is going on to the eighth planet for those minerals. They'll be back for us in a week."
"Great," the younger one muttered but I did not believe he meant the word. "I just hope we find the food stuffs Voyager needs to make a three day hike seem worthwhile."
The man in command told him, "I'm sure we will. Aren't you the man who likes to hike on the holodeck? Climb mountains? Ski down steep
slopes? Where's your sense of adventure, Ensign?"
A sour look crossed the fair man's face at the term 'Ensign'. His shoulders slumped and he looked deeply unhappy. I could only wonder at his reaction since the term had no meaning in our language. Later, I was to learn that Ensign and Commander were ranks in their hierarchy. The commander ignored the younger man's distress. He addressed me, "So, FrontPacer, could you tell us how to reach your family?"
"I will go with you. Although she is in good hands, it is time I checked on my foal."
The land was rolling savannah with few trees, small meandering streams, considerable vegetation, and many species of wildlife. As the largest of the animals, I provided a form of protection for these smaller beings who walked beside me. Toward sunset, the younger one began to look agitated. His fair skin had become a deeper shade of pink punctuated by many small brown spots where his skin had been exposed to the sun. None of my family showed this reaction to being outdoors. I wondered if the younger man was ill.
"Chakotay, isn't it time we stopped for the night?"
Chakotay looked to me and I nodded. I led them to a small rise over the stream where they prepared themselves for the night. The campsite was protected by several tall trees with broad canopies.
I was curious about the many items which came from their packs, a tent, blankets, food stuffs. It seemed as if they had taken care to provide for themselves. The commander pulled out a tool and waved it over the face, neck, head, and hands of the fair one. The pink color receded as did the brown spots the commander called freckles. He teased and chided the younger one, "Those freckles looked good on you, Paris. But I guess you should have put on the sunscreen the doctor gave you."
Irritation flashed on the younger man's face. "I did. Lots of it."
The commander looked closely at his companion. "If that's so . . ."
"Yeah. This sun is a lot stronger than the doc thought."
"Did you bring a hat?"
"No," Paris replied shortly.
"Fortunately, I did. If you wear it and apply the sunscreen frequently, maybe you can avoid another sunburn."
"Thanks, Mom." The tone was sarcastic.
I decided to move off and give them privacy. With many years of apparent hurt between them, they did not seem to be friends. I told them I would be not too far away foraging and would return to them after moonrises. The two moons of our world would light the night for a period of time that would allow me easy travel back to their camp.
When I returned to the camp, I was startled at the scene before me. A lighted being stood before the two men who were out of their tent and
standing as if in confrontation with the lighted being. How can I describe the lighted being? It had the shape and appearance of one of these men, but it glowed amber and I could see through it. The younger man was particularly overwrought by the words of the lighted being.
I quickened my pace, finally to stand squarely on my four legs, ready to come to their aid, should they need it. I quirked my ears to hear better.
"No!! This is not going to happen."
"You have been chosen to fulfill the ancient stories. You are a virgin who will give birth to the child of our goddess."
Tom snorted. "In the first place, I'm no virgin."
The lighted being cocked its head and regarded the younger one as the commander placed a hand on the fair man's shoulder. Chakotay
addressed the lighted being. "Look, I don't know who you are or what you're doing here, but we're not from this world. We have nothing to do with your ancient stories. And he's right, he's not a virgin. For that matter, neither am I."
The fair one's skin became very pink in the light of the moons as if the sun had once again punished him. Instead of taking the commander's words as the dismissal that had been clearly intended, the lighted being held its glowing hand out to touch the younger one's head. "You are now," it said. "You are reborn as a virgin. You will give birth to the goddess' child as a virgin."
"No!" Tom Paris protested. "You . . . " A change came over his fair face. It was as if he dropped several years and became a younger man, barely more than a boy. A look of wonder appeared on his young face. "Oh-h. Oh, my gods."
"What is it, Tom?"
"I think it . . . I have no memory of ever . . . ever . . . " the wonder on the face carried over to the voice.
"You're now a virgin?" the older man asked with skepticism in his voice.
"I . . . yes."
Under his breath, the commander muttered something about how he was going to explain this in his logs. "Tom. How old do you feel?"
"Like . . . like a teenager. This is weird, Commander."
"You look much younger."
"I feel that way. As if there's a whole world of experience waiting for me, all of it ahead of me. I can't believe it." His voice had dropped to a whisper, filled with awe at the transformation. He raised his eyes to the lighted being who had waited patiently. "What . . . what now?"
"Now the spirit will be in you and you will conceive a child and carry that child. Your mate will be at your side and will care for you until the time
Tom was shaking his head. "No. I don't think so. You see, I'm a male. And males don't get pregnant. We aren't equipped . . . "
He stopped shaking his head when the lighted being raised its arms and light fell on his fair head one more time. "No," Paris said softly. "Don't. Please don't."
"This is a special blessing. After its birth, your child will be fostered to the Stoneleigh family and then you both may be on your way."
"But . . . " In the moons' light, his young face had become very pale and he seemed to sway. Chakotay grabbed him about the waist and held
"It's all right, Tom. It'll be all right."
A very scared face took a quick look at the commander then turned back to the lighted being. "Why? Why me?"
The lighted being's posture changed as if considering the young one's question. "We have waited a long time for a being such as yourself. It
was foretold: 'A virgin boy, born of another world, fair and exotic, will come among the people. He will bear the long awaited child.' You are the one we have looked for."
Tom shook his head. "I don't think so. Only because you did something . . . that's how I ended up a virgin. But I've done a lot of terrible things. I can't be what you're looking for."
"But you are. You are filled with a sweet center that you have hidden with many layers of distancing maneuvers. You have felt great pain at
your own actions. We do not want someone who has never made mistakes. The self-righteousness would poison the blessed child. But your innate goodness will nurture the child you will carry. You are the one."
Still shaking his head, Tom raised his head to gaze fearlessly at the lighted being. "What choice do I have?"
This question seemed to throw back the lighted being. "Oh, my," it spoke, distressed. "Oh, my. You must have a choice. Too many have forced you against your will. That cannot happen with this special child. Of course, you may choose."
Tom's body lost some of its defensiveness. His arms uncrossed and fell to his sides. However, the troubled look did not leave his face. As if struggling with himself, his tone tentative, he asked, "I'm not saying yes, but . . . what would happen if I did it?"
"I will embrace you and the spirit will enter you and it will be done."
"How long until the child is born?"
The lighted being was silent for a moment. "One week."
This statement shocked the young man. "One week?" he questioned. "That's not . . . that's not . . . possible. Is it?"
"For this special child, it is possible."
"And I don't have to raise it?"
"It will be fostered. The Stoneleigh family will foster it and it will grow well and strong and will lead its people in the way of the goddess."
A look of longing seemed to visit the commander for a brief moment. He held the younger man by the shoulders and spoke to him in quiet,
urgent tones. "Tom. This is an incredible opportunity."
Tom appeared stunned, too numbed to speak. He shook his head in the negative. "I . . .I can't do this. Carry a child?"
"I'll be with you every step of the way. Tom, think about this . . .this gift."
The young man seemed lost for several moments, all his emotions on the surface. I picked up fear and worry. And disbelief. He whispered, "I
"It's your decision, Tom. What do you fear?"
"I . . . I'll do something wrong . . .it won't happen the way this . . . being says it will. I'll screw it up. And . . . everyone on Voyager . . . it'll be like the beginning when everyone hated me. Now they'll just laugh at me. I worked so hard to be accepted." He turned his face away from the commander. Softly, he said, "And I know, my little mission in the Delta Flyer nearly cost me all of that. I can't face that again. I can't."
"Suppose it doesn't go like that. Voyager is at least a week away. It'll all be over by the time she returns. If you don't want anyone but the
captain to know about this, I certainly won't tell them. No one but the captain has to know. And she will know you did something very special,
something very unselfish for another peoples' way of life. When you took the Delta Flyer, you were willing to give up your life to help the
Monaians. Here's a good cause. You can do this, Tom."
"But the Prime Directive . . . "
"You've been asked to do this. This is different. I don't think the captain will demote you if you agree."
"I'm scared," Tom admitted in a tight voice.
"I know. So am I. After all, I'm the one who'll be with you through this, even if I'm not your 'mate', and I don't want to screw it up either."
That earned a small smile from the fair one. Then he shook his head, "Chakotay, this is crazy."
"Yeah," Chakotay agreed, his face breaking into valleys as he grinned. "But think of it, Tom, you would bring to fulfillment this culture's
"You're the spiritual one. Not me. You do it."
"I don't have fair skin . . . and I'm hardly a boy."
"I didn't think I was. And, I wasn't a virgin either, was I? Until that, whatever, did its thing."
Chakotay must have picked up the edge of bitterness in Tom's words, for he asked, "Would you have said no . . . if you'd had the chance?"
"How can I know? I don't remember. I mean . . . it's taken away everything I knew about myself as a sexual being. Suppose I liked what I knew?"
"Suppose you didn't?" Chakotay asked softly.
"Do you know something?" Tom sounded anxious.
"Not directly. But, Tom, what about this . . . carrying a child? You're usually the impulsive one. I'm surprised you aren't eager to do it."
"Chakotay, I'm a *guy*. You know . . . I'm not faced here with seeing some life's dream come true by having a kid."
"Okay. I understand. Maybe you shouldn't do it."
Tom frowned. "You don't think I should?"
"I didn't say that. This is your decision. And I know it's a big one. It's your body that will be affected for the next week, maybe longer."
"I don't . . . I just don't *know*."
Tom appeared distressed by the decision he faced. He walked away from us a little way, hugging his arms about himself as if he was cold. As I watched, curious, I saw him look up at the clear night sky, the moons shining brightly, the stars glittering in their dark blanket. By the moons' light, his upturned face was pale, anguished, and so young. Then he took a deep breath, his features calmed, and he returned to us.
The lighted being moved closer to them. "May I embrace you, Tom Paris?"
I wasn't sure what Tom was going to say. The commander placed an arm about Tom's waist, his larger bulk steady by the young one's side.
After several very long moments passed by, the young man nodded his head, shivered a little, and whispered, "Yes."
As I watched, the commander stepped away and the lighted being merged with Tom Paris. The young man seemed to be aglow with the being's essence and remained that way for many minutes. When the lighted being removed itself, the young man collapsed into the arms of the commander. Very gently, the commander lowered Tom to the ground, his hand running across the fair face. He seemed to be crooning to the young man lying so still on the ground. When Chakotay turned to look at the lighted being, a question apparent on his lips, the lighted being flashed once, spoke once, "It is well," and was gone.
I looked around. I raised my ears and nose to the currents but detected no trace of the lighted being. It was as if it had never been, except for the young man prone on the ground, his commander leaning over him protectively, patting his hair and mouthing soft, soothing sounds.
Moving closer, I saw the first faint stirrings in that pale face. The first moon's light was almost gone, but I could make out both wonder and pain in the boy's expression. He still looked like a youngster, the only lines on his face now not from age but from some undefinable pain he
"Tom? Tom? Are you all right?" Chakotay continued to stroke the light hair which now seemed damp and limp under his touch.
Tom curled up, turning onto his side and bringing his long legs up toward his chest. Wet tears stained tracks of silver down his cheeks.
"Oh, spirits, Tom, I'm so sorry. I should have known better . . . "
"No," the boy was saying. "No. I . . . I can handle this. I just . . . I can feel my body changing."
The commander rocked back on his heels. "Oh, spirits, what did I let you do?" Chakotay reached for the pack, but Tom's hand on his arm
"No. No painkiller," he gasped. "It could hurt the . . ."
"All right," the commander agreed, "but if the pain gets worse . . . "
"No. Let me see this through." He spoke through tight lips and clenched jaw.
As we watched, we saw the young man's body change here and there. His face became softer still, emphasizing how very young he looked. He gasped in pain at some of the internal changes which we couldn't see other than by his expressions. Chakotay reached out a hand and the boy gripped it tightly, his hand becoming rigid and stiff as it grasped the commander's. His other hand went to his middle and he rubbed at his abdomen as if to ease the hurt there. The commander placed his free hand over Tom's and lent his warmth and strength to help with the pain.
When the pain eased, the first moon had set and the landscape had darkened. With the commander's help, Tom was able to stand unsteadily. Chakotay guided him inside the tent and I heard the sounds of settling in. Soft voices murmured and I returned to grazing, my nightly habits upset by the unexpected events. I remained close to the camp during the remainder of the night.
Based upon the lack of sounds from the tent, the two men must have slept for several hours. Then the younger one awoke with a frightened cry and the older one soothed him back to sleep with murmurings whose meanings I could not detect.
In the morning, the commander exited the tent first, stirred up some meals and brought one inside the tent for Tom. I had almost gone back to grazing when Tom hurtled out of the tent and made it a few steps before going down on his knees and vomiting. Chakotay was by his side in an instant. When Tom finished, much to my surprise, he gave the commander a wry grin. "This is what I get for agreeing to be pregnant. What was I thinking of? Huh? You're my superior officer, you're supposed to protect me from these stupid decisions."
The commander shrugged and grinned back, "It seemed like a good idea last night."
Tom managed to get to his feet on his own and made his way down to the creek while the commander cleaned up the campsite. Tom knelt by
the side of the whistling waters and splashed water on his face and in his mouth.
With Tom remaining nauseous all day, we stayed at the camp site, not risking travels that would aggravate his upset. Chakotay brought out the blankets and aired them outside, giving Tom one to lay down on under the shade of the trees. As the day wore on, Chakotay tried to find something that Tom could eat and drink that would stay down, but nothing worked for long. For his part, Tom napped frequently during the day, the commander not far from his side.
I had heard the commander tell the lighted being that they weren't mates, but the man's actions certainly belied that claim. He was gentle and solicitous of the young man as if they had been bonded for many years. When the commander wasn't looking, I saw Tom give him looks that spoke of longing and gratitude. However, all through the day the young man had great fun making comments about his predicament, such as "I can't wait to have sex." The commander flushed at some of these remarks.
At one point, Chakotay sat down next to Tom and told him, "It's okay if you're scared, Tom. I'm not sure what we've got you into here. And I
understand that you use humor to deal with difficult situations. You're one hell of a resilient man, I gotta tell you."
Tom looked down as if embarrassed. "Thanks," he mumbled. With an impish grin, he added more clearly, "I hope you'll still respect me in the morning."
The commander laughed with Tom and ruffled his hair. "Irrepressible, huh?"
A shy expression crossed Tom's face. "Commander, what's it like to have sex?"
Chakotay seemed stunned by the question. "You don't remember, do you?"
"If I did it, I must have been too drunk to remember." A frown marred that young forehead. "It really . . . I mean, I don't remember ever doing it."
"When this is over, I'm sure you'll find out the answer to that question yourself."
Blue eyes held the brown ones for a long moment. "I'm not so sure."
"How do you mean? Has your body changed . . . I don't mean to pry . . . "
"Am I still a male? Yeah. I still have all the equipment. And then some. I guess that spirit just added a few things." A startled look crossed his face. "No! Oh, no, it never occurred to me. It could have . . . " Tom paled and moved away from the commander to throw up into the grass just off the blanket. "Oh, shit. I'm sorry. It just . . . sunk in what I could have lost."
"It's all right, Tom. I'm glad you didn't lose anything." The younger man gave him a surprised look. "I am. Honest."
The commander pulled him into an embrace, then let him go. "I'll get you some water."
Tom lay back on the blanket.
After dinner, a light meal for the ensign which he promptly vomited, the commander sat beside Tom. "I'm sorry, Tom."
"'S okay. I made the decision. It's only a week. How bad can it be?"
"I hope you'll feel better soon."
"Me too." Tom rested on his side, his fingers tracing an idle path on the blanket. "Chakotay. I've been remembering my medical training about
pregnancy and childbirth."
"There's some things you're going to have to do."
"If there's no midwife or doctor in the place where we're going, I'll be delivering the child."
"Have you ever done that before?"
The fair one sighed. "There's a lot involved. It's more than just boiling water . . . "
"Tell me what I have to do."
"The first part is easy. I'll need to set the hypospray for extra vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. And, if I continue to throw up everything I
eat or drink, we're going to have to get creative."
"How so? I'm sure the hypospray . . . "
"That's just it. This is . . . I don't want to risk harming it with drugs. We just don't know what will hurt it and what wouldn't."
"What should I do?"
"I'll think of something." Burying his face in the blanket, the younger man mumbled something I didn't catch.
Apparently the commander didn't catch it either. "What is it?"
Tom rolled over onto his back. "You're going to have to do the exams."
Very carefully, the commander asked, "What kind of exams?"
"Internal ones. How the fetus is situated. How much dilation there is of the cervix. When the time comes."
Both men appeared uncomfortable with this knowledge. "So, maybe I won't be such a virgin after all."
Chakotay shook his head. "No. The contact you're talking about is medical, not sexual. I think there's a difference."
Tom shrugged. "Chakotay . . . "
"Did I have a lot of sexual experience . . . you know . . . before?"
"Before you became a virgin?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"I was thinking about what it would be like going back on the ship and not knowing if I had had sex with this person or that person. It could be .
. . I don't know . . . awkward. You know?"
"I understand." Chakotay rubbed his jaw. "You had a reputation as someone who had many affairs."
"Does that mean sex?"
"Probably. I have no direct knowledge of what you did or didn't do. But, I think it's safe to say, you did."
"My guess is a lot."
"Tom . . . "
"Chakotay, I need to know before I go up there and make a fool of myself."
The large man sighed. "B'Elanna, the Delaney twins, Harry . . ."
"I believe so. You two were a couple for awhile."
"What about recently?"
"I don't know of anyone. Not since you and B'Elanna broke up."
The younger man yawned. "I wish I knew if I liked it."
Chakotay grinned at him. "I suspect that you did."
"Really? You think so?" Tom grinned back.
Chakotay laughed with him, but then turned serious. "I think you liked most of it, at least during the time you've been on Voyager."
A puzzled look crossed those fair features. "Chakotay, is there something you're not telling me? About my past?"
"I only have rumors, Tom. Do you really want to hear them?"
"They're not good, are they?" Tom asked.
"No. They're not."
"Was I . . . a rapist, or something?"
"No. I never heard of you forcing anyone to do anything."
Chakotay spoke those words forcefully as I began to drift silently away from them.
I heard Tom press the older man once again. "Then what did you hear?"
Before Chakotay could answer, I was out of range of hearing. I don't know what he told his young companion. When I returned, Chakotay was urging Tom to take some nourishment.
Tom tried the offerings the commander gave him and seemed all right. Nothing came back up immediately. As the first moon rose, Chakotay suggested they try to get some sleep. The two men disappeared inside the tent and I went off a short distance, grazing and watching over them.
The next morning found Tom looking a little less pale and more able to ingest food and drink and keep it down. He threw up once but claimed not to be as ill feeling as the day before. The commander did most of the work of breaking camp and I offered to carry their packs. I offered to carry Tom as well, but the young man just looked at me and shook his head. "Thanks," he said, "But I don't think so. The motion could set me off."
I understood and we three set out. Tom wore a floppy brimmed hat on his head and I had seen the commander smearing some kind of cream on his face, neck and hands. However, by midmorning Tom was stumbling, whether from the sun or fatigue I could not tell. Chakotay called a halt so that the younger man could rest under the shade of a small tree. Tom kept down the water that Chakotay gave him.
We kept to a steady pace, pausing for a midday meal, an afternoon break and then stopped for the evening well before the sun went down. Tom was simply too tired to continue. Despite his fatigue, I had to revise my opinion of this young man's stamina. He had held up remarkably well in a body that had changed drastically on him. He traveled with good humor and few complaints.
His abdomen had swelled somewhat and the commander suggested that he loosen his pants to become more comfortable. The commander rolled out blankets for his companion and prepared a meal for them to eat. Tom had little appetite and barely touched his food. But what he ate, he kept down. Once again, the commander waved the tool over his pink skin.
As before, our campsite was near a stream and protected by tall trees. I sniffed the air and noticed the ruffling and inverting of the leaves on the trees. It would rain tonight. When I told the men this news, they looked at each other in dismay. But without complaint, they worked together to place their belongings inside the tent. Tom went to bed and the commander remained outside for awhile talking softly at a device in his hand.
". . . now can begin to see evidence of the pregnancy. Tom is holding up as well as can be expected under the circumstances. As I should have known, based on his behavior in the years I've known him, he whines and moans a lot and looks at me as if he hates me. I used to believe myself a patient man, but . . . oh, enough. End log."
When I approached him, the man looked up at me. We seemed to have differing views of Tom Paris. Where I saw surprising endurance, the Commander seemed to see constant complaints. I saw sadness on the bronzed face. "How can I help?" I asked.
Chakotay quirked his mouth. "I shouldn't have let him do it."
I nuzzled the man's shoulder in comfort. "I am sorry."
He patted my muzzle and stroked along my head from my nose to my ears, tickling my horn. "Not your doing. I appreciate all the help you've
been giving us. Tell me, at the rate we're going, will we reach your family in time?"
"You mean before the birth?" He nodded and I calculated the distance. "Maybe. We need good weather, your young man needs to remain in
good health. We could make it."
"Has your family had experience in delivering babies?"
"They helped me to deliver my foal."
Chakotay lapsed into silence. I knew it was not the same thing, as did he.
"You are worried about your young man?"
He nodded. I could think of nothing to say to ease his mind. He pushed up on to his feet. "Well. Time for bed. You'll be all right out here?"
I gave him a soft whinny. "It's not my stable, but I will be fine. Sleep well."
When the rains came, I was more or less protected from the worst of it by the canopy of leaves on the big trees. I saw the winds and rain
lashing at the tent, but it held.
By morning the rains had stopped, the sun dim behind many thick layers of clouds. Everything was wet, the ground, the tent, the rustling
leaves sending down showers of water when the winds hit them. Chakotay emerged first, dressed once again in the clothes of this world. He placed a ground cloth down and brought his pack out to set on the cloth. He disappeared to the creek for awhile. While Chakotay was gone, Tom came out of the tent knuckling sleep from his eyes. Tom wore only a long shirt, his feet and pale legs bare. He rummaged in the pack and pulled out a pair of long pants. When he pulled them on, he loosened a drawstring and tied them with a frown. Reaching inside the tent, he brought out his shoes and socks and struggled to pull the boots on. He gave up, his eyes glinting wetly.
When Chakotay returned, he knelt down beside Tom and spoke to him for a few moments. Then Chakotay took the boots and put them on the young man's feet. With a pat to the shoulder, Chakotay finished dressing the younger man and helped him to his feet. There was now a noticeable swelling of Tom's belly and he moved awkwardly off towards the creek. Chakotay's dark gaze followed him carefully.
The gloom of the day seemed to affect both men as we walked over terrain that was now more rocky and at a higher altitude than yesterday's trek. During the break at midday for the meal they both needed, Tom slept for a long period of time on the ground cloth Chakotay had placed out for them. For his part, Chakotay walked a little ways up the hillside and stared off in the distance at the direction we were yet to travel. I remained at the meal site, watching over Tom.
He slept on his side, the hat over his face, his arms and legs pulled up protectively. The lighted being had been right. He had a certain
sweetness about him. And his partner had been right as well. He was very resilient. I knew well what the reaction would have been of the
stallion in our stable had the lighted being asked him to carry a child. I fear he would have reared up and stomped the lighted being right into the ground, goring it until it no longer glowed. This Tom Paris had agreed even though he was frightened and scared. I wondered why he
agreed to it.
After a slow afternoon we stopped early once again. The clouds had lowered and promised more rain. Settling awkwardly on the ground cloth, Tom loosened the drawstring on his pants and rubbed at his belly. Chakotay looked down and grinned. "Pants too tight again, huh?"
"Yep," Tom agreed. "You know, I don't feel anything moving inside yet. I wonder if it's all right?"
The commander reached into the pack and drew out a device that he held out toward the other and waved in front of him. Then he sat next to the young man and together they gazed down at the device. It must have told them something for each had a look of awe on their faces.
"Wow," Tom exclaimed softly. "It's a girl."
"Yes, and it's healthy."
"It's so tiny."
They looked at each other, looks of longing and love that I have seen exchanged in my family. But instead of acting on these feelings they
turned their heads away from each other. Chakotay flipped the device closed and put it away and Tom lay back down on the cloth, his hands
under his head, his belly no longer flat and taut as it had been two days earlier. Small breasts were softly mounded under his loose shirt. His eyes were closed so he missed the desire that suffused the face of his commander.
Midway through their evening meal, it began to rain. They scrambled to put things in the tent and then they themselves disappeared inside it. Later, Tom came out, the ground cloth around his shoulders and the hat on his head to protect him from the rain. He disappeared behind a boulder. When he reappeared, I must have startled him with my nearness.
I gave him a soft nuzzling to his cheek and he smiled at me and touched my head for the first time. "Thanks, FrontPacer. I have the feeling you're really looking out for us."
I snickered and wrinkled my muzzle at him. He laughed and patted me again. His touch was soft and gentle, much, I sensed, like his spirit. Yet there was more than gentleness to his spirit. The tall young man had surprised me with his endurance and good humor. "Why?" I couldn't help but ask.
"Why did you agree to carry this spirit child?"
He shrugged and looked past me up into the night sky. "Redemption," he said quietly.
I didn't understand and the moment to ask what he meant went past as I thought about his answer.
"I'm going back to bed," he announced with a final pat to my muzzle. I gave him a delicate snuffle in return.
Redemption, he'd said.
It rained all the next day and the commander elected to remain in camp rather than brave the elements. Tom complained mildly at being stuck inside the tent. Wearing the ground cloth and hat, he ventured out a few times into the cold, stinging rain, but remained only long enough to accomplish his business before he returned inside the tent. The commander was out and about more frequently and for longer periods of time. He, too, seemed to chafe under the restrictions caused by the bad weather.
By late afternoon, too late to break camp, the skies cleared and both men walked about in the wet world. Chakotay had walked up to a view
point with Tom and stretched his arm out to the vista that lay below them. I joined them and indicated the farm way below us that was my
family's. We could not make out the blackened ruins from this distance. However, I knew that the burned out buildings were there. The Stoneleigh farm was the first of the settlements this side of the mountain range. At the pace we had been going, it would be two to three days before we reached the farm. I hoped we would make it in time for the birth.
We made steady progress the next two days but were still a day away from our goal. We descended from the mountainous terrain in a gradual drop-off. As before, we met no other travelers, only the occasional animal not too shy to remain in sight for a brief time. During these two days, Tom's belly grew larger and larger until he could no longer reach his feet to remove or put on his shoes and socks. His pants were tied below his belly, his large shirt now tight over the broad expanse. I sensed how distressed Tom was at his condition, but it didn't seem to me that he complained overly much. He sent pointed verbal barbs at Chakotay which the older man deflected carefully, reminding me of an older dog from the farm who patiently kept a younger pup in his place without hurting him. At times, Chakotay's expression resembled that older dog when his patience had reached its limit. However, by the night of the second day, it was Tom's ability to persevere that had reached its limit. He was
exhausted and near tears. They sat on their ground cloth very close to each other.
With Chakotay's arm across his shoulder Tom sobbed against the other man's chest. "I can't do it," he cried, "I can't go on. I'm so tired. I hate you. It's all your fault . . . we should have gone back to the ship . . ."
Chakotay gave as much comfort as he could to the distraught young man. "It's all right. We've stopped for the night. It's all right. Sh-h. I'm right
He stroked and soothed and gradually Tom's tears dried up. When he finished, Tom tried to apologize to the older man but Chakotay would
have none of it. He praised his companion's strength and endurance. He brought Tom some food and drink which the younger man picked at
once again, this time too tired to eat. Caressing the side of Tom's face, the commander suggested that he take a nap, that he might feel more like
eating later. Tom nodded his agreement and Chakotay helped him to stretch out on his side. The commander's broad hand splayed out across
the side of Tom's belly. Eventually Tom set his own hand on top of his partner's.
"I can feel her really kicking up a storm tonight," Chakotay whispered, his voice very soft, his touch firm across the taut skin.
"You should feel her from the inside. I swear she's bruised at least two ribs."
Perhaps it came as a surprise to both of them although I had seen it developing over the course of the days we had been together. The
commander leaned over and kissed the younger man on the cheek. Before he could pull away, Tom moved into the kiss, joining his lips to
Chakotay's. Their hands still on Tom's belly, Tom rolled over onto his back and the commander moved with him, their mouths locked together
for a long, deep kiss.
When the commander finally lifted up his head, I saw that both men wore dazed and delighted expressions. I decided it was time to graze on the
other side of the boulder field.
Later, I once again inadvertently overheard the older man talking to a device he held in his hands as his companion slept inside the tent. ". . . I
feel for Tom. Despite all his complaints and moments of bad temper, and there have been many, I'm not sure I would have held up any better.
We've had to travel up and over a mountain pass even as the fetus he carries grows so rapidly, larger and larger. It throws off his body's
balance in more ways than one. Although he experiences fatigue and sometimes pain, he won't let me use a hypospray for fear he might harm
the child. I never knew he had this kind of ability to put aside his own comfort the way he has."
The commander paused for a moment and then continued. "He said he hated me. But I don't think he meant it. I've grown to care about him a
great deal. How to say this? I find him beautiful. Of course, he has to contradict me, telling me he's fat and bloated." Chakotay laughed softly.
"That's my Tom. But I've come to believe that the spirit was right to choose him. I'm glad this is my personal log because I wouldn't want it
going into any official log, but we kissed. I wanted him to see himself now as I see him, sweet, funny, tough, generous . . .loved. I think he
wants to believe me, but he's a little wary right now. In his place . . . I guess I would be, too. In less than a week I've gone from barely tolerating
the man to loving him. At this point, though, I don't want to take advantage of his situation. Anything more than a kiss will have to wait. But
that kiss . . . " the commander sighed, a smile on his lips. "End log."
By the next morning, Tom had grown so large he could barely walk. We three decided that he should try to ride on me for awhile. I knelt down
and Chakotay placed a blanket across my back. With Chakotay's help, a fearful Tom Paris climbed onto my back. The commander held onto him
tightly as I raised myself up. I remained still as Tom adjusted himself for greater comfort. Then we headed out as I picked my way slowly down
the last hillside before we reached the rolling, green valley below us.
A few hours later I believed that Tom had begun labor. Every so often his body would tense up. Although he rubbed his back occasionally, he
otherwise gave no clue to the man walking beside us that he was feeling any cramping.
We were at the outskirts of the Stoneleigh farm when I heard a sharp cry from Tom and felt a hot liquid rush through the blanket to spread over
my back. I stopped carefully as Tom gripped my mane in his hands.
"What is it?" Chakotay asked, worried by Tom's cry.
"My . . . my water broke," Tom confessed, his voice edged with panic.
"It's all right. That's natural. You know that. It just means . . . "
"The baby . . ."
"Yeah. The baby's coming."
I asked if Tom could hang on for a short while longer. I knew of an outbuilding on the farm that was not too far and that had not been burned in
the fire. It was small but it would provide some shelter from the elements. It had a well for water and plenty of hay for Tom to lay on as he gave
birth to the baby.
Tom agreed that he could stay on me awhile longer but I knew he didn't have long before the harder pains would come. In fact, the first hard
pain came just as the shed appeared not far from us. Tom clutched my mane with tight fists as he fought off the pain. I stopped, waiting for it to
subside as I knew it would. When he was breathing easier I brought them to the shed. I knelt and Chakotay brought Tom off my back. Tom was
unsteady on his feet, stumbling a bit. But after a moment he was able to follow Chakotay's guiding hand to the shed. Chakotay went inside,
leaving Tom to hold onto the door frame for support with one arm braced there. With his other arm, he reached behind his back and rubbed,
seemingly with as much force as he could muster. The commander spent a short amount of time in there and then led Tom inside where I could
see the ground cloth spread out over mounds of hay.
Several of the farm animals, the sheep and cows, the pig, the dog, all wandered over as the afternoon wore on. Inside the shed, Tom would cry
out when the worst of the pains hit him and Chakotay would murmur soothing words to him. I heard Tom's angry voice declaring he had been
insane to agree to this and that he wanted the spirit to come back so he could tell it that Chakotay would make a much better deliverer than he
would. Chakotay chuckled which earned him a string of epithets I was unable to translate. During lulls in the pains, Chakotay built a fire in the
fireplace and set a pot of water to boil.
I didn't want to leave them, but thought I should get my family to come help. When I stuck my head inside the shed, I asked Chakotay if this
would be helpful. He looked at me, nonverbally saying that anything would be helpful. I let Tom know I was going for awhile. But he was too
involved in the latest contraction. As I waited, I saw him lying partially upright, his face pale and sweaty, a blanket covering him, his wet pants
forgotten off to the side. I couldn't help but think how very young he looked and how very scared. After a brief respite, another pain hit him and
his face scrunched up and he gripped Chakotay's hand so tightly the big man winced. A cry of pain shattered the quiet of the evening.
There was nothing I could do, so I went after my family. This would be their child, the child they had never had. Relatives of my family had had
a child just six months before and I remembered the hurt and grief in my family's faces as they tried to be happy for the others. This child would
be cherished and loved, I knew that as surely as I knew that they would recover from the fires that had destroyed their buildings.
I traveled to the farm of the relatives to retrieve my family. It took awhile to explain to them about the exotic visitors who came to trade for food
stuffs. I told them how the strangers had been met by a lighted being, the younger man made a virgin and pregnant. The Stoneleighs and their
relatives all immediately understood the significance of the events. The long promised child of the goddess was about to be born.
As I checked on my young foal who was now fine, the Stoneleigh's hitched up their wagon for the trip. The stallion made good time. When we
returned to the outbuilding, the second moon had set, the night air was cool and clear. I had been listening for any sounds of distress from
Tom, but heard nothing. I hoped that he was all right. Then I heard the cries of a baby and his gentle voice talking to the infant. My family
stood at the doorway, me right behind them, all the animals ranged around the shed. Above the shed, high in the skies, a bright light shone, a
light we had never before seen there.
When I looked over their shoulders to peer inside, Chakotay sat beside the weary but smiling young man, the commander's hands in almost
constant contact with the younger man. Both were smiling happily. The baby was at Tom's breast, no longer crying, instead she was sucking
"We're the Stoneleighs," my family female told them. "I'm Dneira. This is Armul. May we come in?"
Chakotay stood up and greeted them, giving them his name and introducing them to Tom Paris who remained in his makeshift bed.
"You're here to take the baby?" Tom asked, the smile gone.
"FrontPacer told us what the lighted being said to you. That we were to be the child's foster parents. Is that not . . .?"
Dneira had been so excited when I told her the lighted being's declaration. But now she faced a young man who held his baby close to his
chest, tears in his eyes. Chakotay returned next to Tom, placing his hand on Tom's shoulder and gripping tightly. Tom turned tear filled eyes on
the commander. "Chakotay . . .?"
"Ah, Tom, I know . . ."
Dneira and Armul exchanged worried glances. Were their dreams of a child going to come to nothing? The baby turned away from the breast
and regarded us with solemn blue eyes. She had those blue eyes in common with her birth parent, but her brow ridges and flaring ears were
those of my family as was her darker skin.
"Chakotay," the moan came from the young man. The commander sighed and patted Tom's shoulder.
The commander spoke to my family. "Perhaps you could tell us a little about yourselves. It might make it easier for Tom. . . "
Seating themselves around the shed on hay bales, the Stoneleighs related their history. As they talked, they mentioned the many attempts to
bear a child, all miscarriages and stillbirths. They had given up trying. When they heard my story of this child to be fostered by them, they had
begun to hope again for the much longed for child. During the telling, Tom looked from them to his child and back again. His intelligence told
him immediately that this was a child of this world but his emotions fought him. He cared about the baby and it could be hard for him to give her
"How will you feed her?" Tom asked, his voice trembling.
"My cousin is still breast feeding her baby. She will wet nurse her."
Tom's face fell. We heard a breep sound and Chakotay excused himself to go outside the shed. I had seen him talk to an unseen entity that first
night. It seemed the unseen entity had reappeared. Perhaps this was a hail from the ship they kept talking about throughout our journey to the
Dneira asked if she could hold the baby. Fearfully, Tom looked at his baby and then at Dneira. I tried to tell him there was nothing to fear,
Dneira would do nothing to hurt either of them. She was a kind and gentle soul. Dneira cast me a grateful glance and then reached for the baby
that Tom reluctantly allowed to go into her arms. Tom watched his baby so vigilantly that I thought no one could pass his muster. But Dneira
crooned to the baby, rocked her and touched her lightly on her sweet face. Likewise, Armul bent over them, his hand hovering over Dneira's.
There was such a look of heartbreak on Tom's face as he realized that he would be letting his baby go. I wanted Chakotay to return to his side
quickly to be there as he went through this.
By the time Chakotay returned, Tom's eyes were wet with unshed tears. He quickly noted the baby in the Stoneleigh's arms and threw his own
arms around the dispirited young man, hugging him tightly to him.
One moment it was not there and then it was. The lighted being made an appearance in the shed. It took in the baby in Dneira's lap, the
commander with his arms wrapped around a sobbing Tom Paris and it spoke. "All is well, my children. Tom Paris, you have done well. Do you
wish to be restored?"
The shining eyes gazed in puzzlement at the lighted being. "What?"
"Should I restore you to how you were before?"
Tom looked at Chakotay, clearly not understanding what the being had asked of him. "Chak?"
Chakotay spoke to the being and then to Tom. "It wants to know if you wish to remain a virgin."
Tom's eyes consulted Chakotay's as if asking if he wanted Tom to remain a virgin. Chakotay said warmly, "It's your decision. Nothing you
decide will change how I feel about you."
The humor that so characterized Tom Paris flashed for a moment. "So, no matter what, you're saying I won't be one for long, huh?"
The commander's answering grin revealed deep dimples.
"I'll stay this way," Tom told the being.
"And the physical changes?"
Again Tom was slow to catch on. I remembered how tired I was after I gave birth to my foal and understood how hard it must be for him to think
This time the being explained to Tom directly. "You are now capable of bearing children. Now and in the years to come. Do you wish to retain
Tom paled and gave a frightened glance at the commander. Chakotay leaned in to talk softly in his ear and Tom nodded and told Chakotay,
"Yes, I know it's my decision."
Paris faced the lighted being, his voice trembling. "No. I need to be the way I was. I need to be only a male."
The lighted being held her hand over his head and we saw the light move through him. It wasn't as spectacular as it had been the night he had
become pregnant, but nonetheless, it transformed the young man once again. The angular lines returned to his face, the breasts disappeared,
his belly under the blanket seemed to shrink and flatten. As we watched these changes, the being disappeared in a flash of light. Chakotay
pressed one of his devices against the younger man's neck and the pain in his face was erased. "Tom," Chakotay said, "Voyager is here."
Armul spoke up. "We have food stuffs for you. It is the least we can do. It is not intended to make up for your sacrifice, but to be a heartfelt
thank you for all you have done."
For the first time in a long while, I looked outside the shed. In the dawning light, we could see the neighbors pulling up in the wagons, all
loaded with supplies for the now legendary pair. As these were unloaded, Tom managed to get to his feet, pulling the blanket up around his
hips. Chakotay spoke to him and Tom nodded as Chakotay pulled a pair of pants from one of the packs. We all moved outside to give him some
privacy to clean himself up and get dressed.
When Tom joined us outside the shed, he sighed heavily as he approached the baby in Dneira's arms. He leaned over and gave the baby a kiss
on its forehead. Then he straightened up and looked at Chakotay, grief and love mixed together.
Dneira and Armul climbed into their wagon just as dawn broke. Tom helped Dneira into her seat and reached out one long finger to the baby's
Dneira told him, "I will take good care of her. Armul and I have decided to call her Paris. She will grow up special and loved and she will take
that love from you and from us and give it to our world in the name of the goddess."
"Thank you," Tom mouthed the words, unable to speak over the breaking of his heart. Chakotay rested his hand on Tom's arm and gave a small
"No. Thank you. You have given our world . . . and us . . . a very precious gift."
Armul set the wagon in motion and the stallion strode away toward the farm of the relatives. The other wagons were now empty of their goods
and followed the Stoneleigh's into the rising sun.
When I looked back, Tom was in Chakotay's arms, the older man comforting him. Then shimmering blue lights took them and the food stuffs away. We never saw them again.
And this is the tale told to me by my grandmare. The injured foal was my mare. Sometimes, at night, I look up into the sky, but the light
described by grandmare is gone. I have wondered how Tom Paris was able to give up his child to strangers, but grandmare said that he was a special man, sweet and good. She thought that such a man should receive only love and care in return. She believed that Chakotay would be the one to provide those qualities in abundance. And, as Dneira told Tom Paris, he left our world a precious gift. A gift that even now is leading the people of this land to the teachings of peace and love from our holy goddess. This stable yard where we gather tonight, this shed at the outskirts of the farm, is a protected place of worship to commemorate the miracle of that night so many years ago.