Warning: the following story contains explicit m/m sexual encounters. If you are offended by it, you are welcome to stop reading the story. If you are above 18 and is open-minded, you are free to read it.
Disclaimer: the characters in the story, though owned by Paramount, are products of my imagination and creativity. (yada yada yada)
Pairings: C/P, P/K
Dedicated to Cleo for her inspiration and her ideas of butterfly migration. Thanks, Cleo! **hugs** And thanks for beta-reading the story.
Also to Helmboy. Thanks for the advice!
On Butterfly Wings
Tom Paris loved flying the Delta Flyer.
He sat in the shuttlecraft, delighted and proud of his design. She was his ship, his creation. His pride. His joy.
The captainís voice gently nudged him back to reality. There was a tinge of good-natured humour in her voice.
"Tom, are you listening to me?"
Tom cleared his throat. "Yes maíam. Go ahead, shoot!"
Someone chuckled. Tom suspected that it wasnít the captain who did.
He grinned to himself again.
"Tom, the purpose for todayís exercise" ---her tone transmitting a mental picture of a wry grin on her face--- "is to test the Delta Flyer out for any inherent flaw. Remember, she took quite a beating last time with Ensign Wildman onboard. I still want to see the Flyer working perfectly. "
He shuddered. The Flyer, his baby, wasnít that perfect. But like a protective dad, he tried to shield her from harsh criticism. "I will try, Captain."
Soft laughter at the other end.
He bent to his task.
Then the world turned white.
Harry Kim looked up from his console, shock bleaching his open face pale.
"Captain, Tom ÖTom just disappeared!" He gasped.
Kathryn Janeway wheeled about sharply. "What exactly happened, Mr Kim?"
"He just disappeared from all the external scanners."
Kim was half-spluttering, half-exasperated. "He was just Ögone like that!"
"As colorful as Ensign Kimís analogy, he is theoretically correct. Mr Paris has simply disappeared into, as you humans will say, thin air."
Cool Tuvok spoke up, breaking the silence on the Bridge. He sounded unfazed as usual.
Commander Chakotay, quiet until now, walked up to Harryís console. His face was dark with worry.
"We will find him."
There was a tone of silent confidence underlying his words.
He will find Tom, Kim realized. He will search for him no matter how difficult it is.
"Snap to it, " Kathryn rapped out and sat on her command chair with head held high.
After a frenzied period in which Harry, Seven and Tuvok exhausted most of their resources (and many near-hits), they found the Flyer floating alone in space, orbitting a beautiful blue-white planet. The shuttlecraft was eerily empty but the instrumentations in the ship were functioning normally. There was no sign of internal glitch at all. Even when Chakotay and Kim beamed onboard the Flyer, Tomís brainchild was humming quietly, in perfect working order.
The Commander gazed around, his senses stretched out to the fullest. The interior of the shuttlecraft reminded him so much of Tom. There was even a hint of the pine cologne Tom used. He breathed in deeply, as if to draw in the very essence of the man he sorely missed.
Harry Kimís voice. The young Asian man regarded him politely.
"I managed to extract the shipís internal logs. Do you want to examine them?" Kim asked respectfully.
He too Ö missed Tom badly.
"By all means, Ensign." Chakotay nodded and Kim immediately activated his tricorder. The instrument beeped, trilled and stopped. Kim lifted an eyebrow. Chakotay leaned forward in bated breath. "What did you get?"
"The shipís logs seemed to have registered a faint ion reading. There seemed to have a burst of ion particles onboard the Flyer, just before Tom technically disappeared. " Kim said excitedly, but schooled his enthusiasm when he saw Chakotayís grave expression. "So I conclude that Tom was beamed away and the ion particles seemed to have originated from Öthe planet."
Hint of hope. Chakotay nodded again. Tom, I am coming for you.
"Good, let us return back to the ship and inform the Captain." Voyagerís second-in-command said, eyeing the glowing planet from the viewscreen. He slapped his commbadge.
"Voyager, two to beam up."
Kathrynís face was patrician. It was also firm and adamant.
"Mr Chakotay, do you realize that the planet might be dangerous?" She said sternly. Her grey eyes flickered. She was angry.
"Captain, allow me to beam down to the planet." Chakotay soldiered on, disregarding Kathrynís opinions for the first time. "Kim has afterall pronounced that the planet is hospitable. In fact, it is a M-class planet."
"Yes. But his research also informed us that the planet is uninhabited?" Kathryn grasped her hands and rested them on her worktable. "Have it occurred to you as strange?"
"I have considered that factor, Kathryn."
The Captain sighed audibly and stood up abruptly. She left her table and headed for the viewport where the planet could be seen. Swathes of white clouds. Tantalizing glimpses of green and brown, evidence of land. It looks so like Earth, she mused to herself, feeling the ache of homesickness. Five years in the Delta Quad Öand the call of home remained sharply haunting. She shook it off and turned to glance at Chakotay.
"I know that you care for Tom but sometimes I feel that you jeopardize your own life for him too much, " she gave a throaty laugh.
"Thank you, Kathryn."
The Captain sighed once more. "I know that I canít possibly argue against you, not with that look on your face. " A wry grin on her own. "Take Harry with you and Ötake some necessary precautions." The Native American realized that she meant weapons. "I donít trust that planet."
"Good luck, " Kathrynís face was unreadable. "And be careful."
The moment they beamed onto the planet, Chakotay and Kim stood in awe of their new alien surroundings. Nothing had prepared them for what they were about to enter into.
Once the brilliant blue haze of the transporter beam faded away, Kim thought that he was dreaming. He rubbed his eyes. He wasnít blind. The entire area around him was Ögilded with gold. It was as if he had just walked into Fairyland, into a world of shimmering golden lights and opalescent colors. His jaws literally dropped as he surveyed the wondrous scenery before him. Everything was shining with the light and it seemed to the dazzled Kim that the light was internal, coming from an inner source. The leaves, huge fronds, reminded him of gold filigree. Flowers, looking in the world like lotus blooms, glittered. Kim stepped forward, unsure of his own response to such beauty and extravagance. There was a feeling of eternal calm and peace in the place, emanating from all directions.
The phaser rifle slung across his shoulders felt like a dead weight, like an intrusion into glorious divine beauty. He extended a trembling hand to touch one golden lotus-flower ---
"Donít touch it, Kim."
He became aware of Chakotayís presence and he flushed deeply, withdrawing his hand and tried to act professional. He took out his tricorder.
"I donít believe it, sir. " He said slowly. Even the grass beneath his boots looked like crystal. " This is not some holographic projection. Everything is real Övery real. "
Chakotay moved closer. His face betrayed his own admiration of the serene place. "Beautiful." He muttered. "But this ---"he indicated the glowing plants with a sweep of his hand--- "wasnít in the scans."
"Itís like something out of The Faerie Queene, " Kim said, his tone solemn. He felt that speaking aloud in this place seemed rude, sacrilegious.
The Commander smiled. He glimmered with reflected golden light and his gestures were graceful (or so Kim thought). He was also very handsome. Kim looked away, embarrassed. Come on, Kim, heís already taken Ö He stopped himself immediately, guilty.
They walked on, drinking in the surreal beauty. It was like Paradise, rich with glory.
A soft whispery breeze ruffled Chakotayís hair and he looked up. He thought that he saw a star moving. A star in bright daylight (or golden light) ? But the star was still moving and he was stunned to see it moving towards their current position. And the breeze ÖIt reminded him of wings Ö
Kim had his hand on his phaser, his very expression one of alert consciousness. Chakotay saw that once, during a volleyball match.
Intense and keen.
The star drifted closer and the two Starfleet officers could see that it was humanoid. It floated above the ground, bearing ---Chakotay squintedówings. Closer and closer it came. Then with a burst of speed, it hovered before them.
"Oh my Lord Ö" Kim whispered.
It was Ö
It had a very human torso and body, well-muscled but lean as a gymnastís. It shone with the same golden light, like the trees and flowers. It had large delicate-looking yellow butterfly wings. As the strange golden humanoid regarded them with a benign smile, the wings fluttered and shimmered with its own light.
The face Ö
Chakotay found himself speechless. This nude figure before him was Tom. Yet this Tom had the air of angelic gracefulness. An aura like an angel. The chiselled face was given more androgynous angles. The eyebrows slanted upwards like elven eyes. However the blue was still Tomís blue and for some strange reason, the color went very well with the golden hair streaming down his neck and falling in gentle waves on his shoulders.
"What Öon earth?" Chakotay could only say. Kim looked as if he was about to faint. The Commander had to pinch himself to check if he was dreaming. But if he was dreaming, this dream was definitely one of the weirdest Öand the most enthralling.
The winged Adonis bowed and spoke, "Hiya, Chakotay ÖKim."
With a hint of the old Paris humor.
"Oh wow, " Kim said, wide-eyed. "Oh wow Öwhat happened to you?"
Tom/Not-Tom landed gracefully onto the grass and flicked his wings. Even that gesture was poetry in motion. "I guess I underwent a transformation of sorts. A big transformation." The voice was soft, gentle. "I am now Feirín."
"Fei-rín-n?" Chakotay had trouble pronouncing the word. "What Öwhoís the Feirín?"
Tom seemed to glow for a while. He looked bemused. "The Feirín are an alien race of winged men. This is their planet, Ssuiítai."
Chakotay shook his head slowly. "This is so unbelievable Ö"
"You bet," was the pert answer.
The news of Tomís transformation blasted through Voyager like bushfire.
Tuvokís eyebrow shot right up when he saw the figure of Tom on the viewscreen.
Kathryn sank straight into her command chair.
As for Chakotay and Kim, they were brought to the central meeting place of the Feirín to meet the rest of the race. It was an unsettling experience for Kim, being surrounded by beautiful-beyond-description men with golden butterfly wings and long streaming hair. All of the Feirín had the elven grace and elegance the two officers found strangely bewitching; they appeared otherworldly. If Kim had the right word to use, he would call them Ďangels.í
Tomís Feirín name was now Ssuiírinín. Chakotay and Kim were dying to ask him questions. As Ssuiírinín led the two non-Feirín away to a quiet corner, the Feirín brethren broke into small groups, holding hands, talking and kissing each other.
"There was this bright white light in the Flyer, " Tom was saying in a distant voice. "Then I woke up in this forest glade and two Feirín were standing in front of me. I was naturally shocked but they told me not to be afraid. Then I realized that I was naked, like them. And I had WINGS!" He laughed, a musical cascade of pure notes, like an angelís laughter.
"They told me that they took me from the Flyer because I am one of them. That I am actually Feirín in reality. " Tom continued, blue eyes luminous. "I am still trying to accept that fact ---"
"You believe them?" Chakotay interrupted. The man before him was glorious beyond description, so much so that he actuallly wanted to kiss him.
"I am still trying, Chak Ö" Tomís blue eyes glistened, smiling at him radiantly. Chakotay could feel a blush creeping up his face, starting from his cheeks. The man, his beloved, was breath-taking; he longed to touch the smooth features with his hand, feel Tom Ökiss him. Hold it, control yourself, Chakotay growled to himself.
"I mean, " the butterfly wings fluttered a little, Tom shaking his golden hair off his shoulders. "You canít expect me to forget about my human upbringing right? But this is what Dílinin and the rest told me: I was actually a Feirín child, abandoned literally on the doorstep of my home. That probably explains why I always felt as if I was from a different planet!" He laughed softly but Chakotay could see the residual hurt in his eyes. Even the delicate wings drooped a little.
Kim cleared his throat. The ensign was attempting to adapt to the surreal surroundings and he was evidently failing. Having seen golden-haired and blue eye-ed Adonises and Apollos with wings, naked and bronzed, was one thing. But Öbut his close friend was claiming to be one now! "You were actually Feirín?"
" They sensed Voyager coming into this star system and I stuck out like a sore thumb. My energy readings were different from yours Ö" Tom grinned and put a hand on Chakotayís shoulder. The Commander started in shock. " Geez, Chak. You are jumpy!"
"They Ďsensed Ď Voyager?" Chakotay quickly composed himself: his nerves were literally in shreds! "They have scanning technology?" He queried, his Maquis senses rousing from slumber. It sounded very suspicious.
Kim gazed at Tom, his body suddenly uncomfortable. This attraction of this androgynous-looking Tom, in all his glory, was slowly eating away his defenses. His manhood stirred Öand hardened to his horror. He turned slightly away to hide it.
"The Feirín is a collective and they are telepathic, " Ssuiírinín said nodding to a couple of beautiful Feirín who walked past the trio, arms linked. Chakotay lifted an eyebrow. Openly flaunting their sexual orientation? He thought and suddenly envied them. "I was Ďseení and they decided to take me from the Flyer. Dílinin told me that I had to know about my Feirín past and I was already fullgrown. So here I am ---" He spread his wings and Chakotay felt a gentle breeze brushing his face, almost like a kiss.
Sensed Voyager? Tom seems to be hiding something from us. Chakotay mused, hiding his thoughts from the others. I need to know about these men. Where are the women? No children? However, Tom was distracting him Öa lot.
"Do you like to spend a night here, on Ssuiítai? " Tom said, his voice softened. "Chakotay?"
Kim hid his disappointment and pretended to look at his tricorder.
"I have to decline, Tom." Chakotay said, seeing the hopefulness in Tomís eyes crumble into bits. He felt as if he was a mean old man, cruelly twisting the wings of a fragile butterfly. "I am sorry."
"Thatís okay, " Tom waved his hand dismissively, an elegant gesture. "I guess the people on the ship probably canít take this anyway Ö" He pointed at his body, the beautiful body that was causing two men hell.
Kim prayed that Tom would turn to him next but the former pilot didnít. He sighed to himself. Tough love, kid.
"We will come back tomorrow, to do some tests." Chakotay said. "Kim?"
"I am right behind you, sir."
"Voyager, two to beam up."
The last Chakotay saw before he was whisked away was Tom waving sadly.
In the quarters of a certain officer, there were sighs and groans. Bedsheets rustled. The sounds became more urgent and with an abrupt gasp of pleasure, they ceased, replaced only by the quiet white sound of the shipís engines.
Kim sank back onto his bed, breathing tiredly. At least there was temporary relief now. He was so hard when he returned back to the ship. He wasnít himself when the Captain de-briefed them. Now, in his room, he could act out his unrequited desires.
Well ÖHe got off the bed and headed for the toilet to wash his hands.
***The two meíN are gone***
***Good. Whereís our newest addition?***
***Heís with some of our brethren. All these are quite new to him***
Wings beating steadily.
***He will learn, in due time***
***Now we see***
Chakotay had spent a restless night, unable to sleep
Not with the image of the winged and naked Tom burned permanently into his mind.
Now breakfasted and clean, he stood in one of Ssuiítaiís paradise-like forest groves. Kim was standing next to him. The lad looked as if he had dark rings around his eyes. Two more crewmen had also beamed down with more equipment. They gaped in wonderment at the incandescent scenery about them.
With a susurrus of wings, the Feirín arrived in one huge shimmering group, like a river of fluid gold. Chakotayís skin prickled at the sight of Tom amongst them.
Breath-takingly gorgeous, Voyagerís second-in-command mused to himself, recalling memories of Tom as recent as two weeks ago. Tom was standing before the windows in his quarters, bare from the waist up and smiling at him. They had just made love and the intensity of their sexual union had given Tomís skin a radiance Chakotay had never seen. In the softened light, he seemed to shimmer. Have I ever told you that you are beautiful? Chakotay had whispered, still wanted to. His throat ached with the hard lump in it.
Tom separated himself from the Feirín group and walked towards the Voyager contingent, his gait as light as a gazelle. Kim noticed the two crewmen staring unabashed at this new Tom and grinned inwardly. But then the moment he saw Tom, his newly-patched up defenses fell apart at their seams again. He couldnít help but note ---with a fresh jab of embarrassment--- Tomís sculpted physique and his exposed manhood. Kim shuddered : that body was in his dreams all night, deliciously supple to the touch Ö
"Hello." The voice of Tom jolted Kim back to reality and he lowered his face quickly, so that Commander Chakotay could never see his flushed reaction. Cool it, Kim! Tomís the Commanderís Önot yours! He scolded himself furiously.
"I trust you had a good nightís rest, " Tom was saying with a familiar cocky grin on his face. Kim realized with shock that Tom knew he had affected both him and Chakotay! Cocky to the last, Kim thought angrily and activated his PADD with a frown.
Chakotay nodded and spoke up, in controlled formal tones. "We are here to investigate the place. Do I have the Feirínís permission?" He was standing so stiffly that Kim could swear heíd heard the Commanderís bones creaking in protest.
"Yes, " Tom bowed, his butterfly wings rustling. "Feel free to explore the place, Chakotay."
Kim caught the momentary shadowing of Tomís face.
"On behalf of Captain Kathryn Janeway and the Federation ship Voyager, I thank the Feirín for extending their hospitality." Chakotay continued speaking with that formal voice.
You donít have to act like this!
Kim wasnít sure if he had heard Tom. But the expression on the former pilotís face spoke a thousand words.
"Shairan here will be your guide, "Tom said, his tone a tad cooler. Another Feirín stepped out from the group, a youngish-looking man with his wings tinged with silver.
"With pleasure, " Chakotay bowed.
Why is Chakotay doing this to me?
Why is he so formal, so Öcold all of the sudden?
Because I am now Feirín?
Because I have affected him?
Kim was bored. He spent two hours, walking with Shairan who for his cultured alien manners was as dry as Neelixís cereal mix. He took readings dutifully but his mind was constantly thinking of Tom.
I shouldnít be thinking like this! He jabbed at the PADD frustrated. I am supposed to be having a relationship with Seven right? Have I forgotten about her now? The mental image of the ice-maiden former Borg flashed across his mind, a picture of cool hauteur, aristocratic smooth features. Damn, this planetís affecting me! First, Chakotay. Now, Tom Öoh God, Tom Ö
"Harry Kim?" Shairan spoke, half-startling the Asian man.
"Oh! Yes!" Kim smoothed his hair and smiled, shame-faced. "Where are we?"
"We have come to the end of the tour, " Shairanís green eyes smiled with secret amusement.
"I see Ö" Kim smiled back. The young Feirínís smile was radiantly infectious. "Thank you."
"My sincere pleasure, " Shairan bowed again and took off with a clap of his wings. Feirín were apparently very powerful.
Suddenly alone, Kim blinked and gazed around. Well, alone again eh?
Hey, water Ösounds of splashing Ö
He gravitated towards the source of the splashing automatically. It came from behind a curtain of hanging vines (that resembled silver streamers) and he parted it with his right hand quietly, peering Ö
Framed by golden fronds and silver vine leaves stood Tom, like some faun in his forest. He was waist-deep in a pond. Water, like golden rivulets streamed down his back from a small water-fall. He bathed, oblivious to the world, delicate wings flicking away water droplets. Kim swallowed hard as he watched Tom lift a hand to smooth back the wet hair. The golden water accentuated the contours of Tomís body; it glimmered, glistened, trailing a line down a muscled back Ö
Tom turned slowly in the water and bent down, cupping water in his right palm. He poured the water on his face, looking as if he was enjoying himself immensely. Then --- Kim gulped in air rapidly --- Tom dipped his hand into the water and his face became infused with pleasure.
Is he ---? Kim gasped. His body trembled too. His own loins hardened in response. Oh my God, he is ---
Still unaware of Kim in the foliage, the winged Adonis stroked his torso gently, making soft crooning noises. Fingers circled a golden nipple, once Ötwice Ösqueezed hard. A sharp intake of breath. The splashing in the water became more louder.
Kim groaned. His manhood was growing harder, more engorged. He dropped his tricorder and with a shaking hand, he pressed down between his legs. He closed his eyes, gritting his teeth. Opened his eyes again.
Tomís eyes were shut tight. He leaned back languidly, like a golden cougar stretching out luxuriously. From where Kim was hiding, he could see the glistening phallus between Tomís hand. Oh damn, its beautiful, Kimís gaze was fixated on the shiny organ. More blood rushed into the ensignís own, throbbing almost painfully. Kim whimpered and seized the growing lump between his legs, began pumping it ferociously, trying to slake the urgent savage desire. His eyes slitted to pleasure/pain-induced halves, he stayed glued to the man in the pond, held in a hypnotic dance.
The entire body of Tom shuddered and with a sharp cry, he shook convulsively. Again. Then he lowered himself into the water, limp. Kim sobbed, squeezing his swollen penis hard --- pushing,pushing, pushing --- and climaxed. Fire zig-zagged through his body, sending shock-waves into his brain. He collapsed onto his knees, groaning.
Dizzy, Kim tried to get up to his feet.
"Whoís that?! Show yourself!" Tomís voice. Angry.
Still wobbly, Kim found his footing, wavered like a drunken man.
A chill ran down Kimís back like icy claws. He saw Tomís outraged eyes, snapping blue lasers at him. Damn, I came in my pants, Kim thought disgustedly, getting up onto his knees.
"I am sorry I Ö." He mustered his voice. He found it weak, apologetic.
"I never knew that you have that in you!" Tom said coyly, pulling himself up onto the pondís edge. Now there was good humor in Tomís voice, that familiar Paris oh-so-subtle wit seeping in.
"I swear that I wonít NEVER ever do that again!" Kim said, flushing redder than a beetroot.
"I am sure you will Ö" Tom laughed, fluttering his wings.
And Kim realized he was looking at Tom face-to-face. Wow, super-fast reflexes Ö
He gulped nervously.
The blue eyes intense, burning straight into his retinas.
Kim backed a little. Tomís so damn close I can smell him and he smells like honeyÖ
He was transfixed by those blue eyes, unable to move. Tom leaned down and placed his lips on Kimís. One chaste ---yet lethal---kiss.
"Behave yourself next time, " Tom mock-admonished, patting the head of Kim who flushed immediately. "Remember Seven?" He laughed teasingly, to the discomfit of the young ensign.
"Damn it, Tom. I think Iím turned on by you!" Kim snapped and regretted it. Classic case of mouth moving before brain, he mused. His lips still tingled with Tomís feathery kiss.
The winged man before him lifted an eyebrow. His face was unreadable. Then suddenly, he grabbed Kim by the armpits and without warning Kim who cried out in shock, lifted up into the golden-blue sky.
"PUT ME DOWN!!" Kim screamed. His feet dangled, touching nothing. Empty space. The pond dwindled to a tiny speck. His lungs burned. Rushing air shrieked in his ears. "PUT ME DOWN!"
He could hear gleeful laughter.
"Tom, put me down! NOW! " Kim ordered, shouting at the top of his lungs. The wind tore his words away.
More laughter. Kimís heart thudded hard like a maniacal drum. His eyes were closed with sheer terror, tears seeping through his lids.
His feet touched solid ground.
Kim opened his eyes. He was in a sun-lit grove. Terra firma! He almost kissed the ground in gratitude. He glared at Tom who grinned impishly.
"Donítyoudare---" Kim managed to get the words out in a rush because Tom was pulling the dazed younger man towards him, bruising his lips with a hard sweet liplock. Kim reflexively pushed himself away but he succumbed, melting into Tomís embrace. His hands brushed Tomís warm arms. Held onto them.
Kim felt his zipper slidding down.
"How about Commander Chako---" Tom stifled the rest of Kimís question with another bruising demanding kiss.
"Nevermind about him Ö" The blonde Feirín whispered into his ears. "You are cold. Let me warm you up."
Lips brushed his ear-lobes. Once. Twice.
Nevermind ÖThe last coherent thought of Harry Kim before he lost all clarity, all control.
On Butterfly Wings
"Here is our Communal Bath," explained the leonine-maned Feirín to an increasingly puzzled Commander Chakotay who for the millionth day of the day thought about the absence of womenfolk and children in this evidently thriving community. "You can take your bath in the special water if you like, Commander. Itís known to be theurapetic. "
The leonine-haired man ---Dílinin?---guided Chakotay through the Bath, reminding the Native American of Roman baths. There was a huge bath, about the size of an Olympic swimming pool; it was clear and inviting. Many Feirín were lounging in the water, looking relaxed. A few of the couples were massaging each other. The entire place was something straight out from the time of the Roman Empire.
Dílinin continued talking about the wonders of Ssuiítai, his manners serene and placid. Chakotay grew quickly bored. He gazed around ; flying Feirín were moving about in the air, like dancing fireflies. It painted a charming picture. As he followed the Feirín along, half-tuning out what the guide was saying, he mulled over a persistent thought in his mind: Whereís Tom?
Right after the Voyager team were dispersed, Tom left, flying off into the distance. Chakotay wanted so much to talk to Tom, in a quiet place. Spirits! I miss him! The Commander sighed inwardly. He lifted his hand, tapped his commbadge.
"Chakotay to Kim."
"Chakotay to Kim."
A tendril of ice curled its way up Chakotayís back. Thereís something wrong !
"Is anything the matter, Commander Chakotay?"
Dílininís smooth voice.
Chakotay watched the sapphire blue eyes of the Feirín blink at him in quiet query.
"I tried to contact one of my crewmen." Chakotay schooled his expression to one of confidence. Donít show fear. "Heís not answering."
"Thatís indeed worrying, Commander." Dílinin sounded surprised and a little concerned. "Can I do anything?"
"No. Itís alright Ö" Chakotay said, knowing that he had a frown on his face. The Chakotay Look, Tom jokingly termed it. The Look of Silent Contemplation.
Damn it, Tom!
"Are you sure, Commander? If anything happens, I will bear the total responsibility." Dílininís golden glow dimmed slightly.
"I am sure, " Chakotay tried to sound reassuring. He tapped his commbadge ---
Laughter. Cheerful and familiar laughter. It came from the bath. Chakotay forgot about hailing Voyager and he squinted closer, to the source of the laughing.
Kim was in the water, bare except for a loincloth. He practically glistened with the water streaming off his back. He was talking to ---
Chakotayís stomach did a figure-eight and screeched to a nauseating halt. Dílinin and the surrounding beauty faded. He could only stare, his heart strangled, at the bright figure massaging Kimís shoulders Ö
Images flashed through his shock-numbed mind. Laughter. Love. Togetherness. Joy.
Pain. Choking, terrifying pain, digging into his chest.
Then rage. Hot burning rage, roaring in his bloodveins and bursting in his head.
"Commander Chakotay?" Dílinin asked tentatively.
The look the Native American turned towards the Feirín was enough to solidify the fragrant air.
Kim didnít notice the Commander who was observing him with barely concealed fury. He was totally engrossed in the attentions of the beautiful man who was kneading his back with strong hands. He was delighting in the sensations coursing through his body. He forgot about Voyager. He shut out the thoughts of Seven. He discarded the duties of a Starfleet officer.
The fingers brushed the nape of his neck and he shivered with pleasure, anticipating more to come. To his joy, the fingers slid down ever so gently to his loinclothed butt, lifted the hem and tickled Kimís anus. The ensign moaned softly; he was still wonderfully sore from the sexual encounter in the sun-dappled grove. But the fingers didnít stop their gentle probing, sliding further in.
"Ow!" Kim involuntarily cried out, splashing about in the water.
"Ow?" The purring voice of Tom whispered into his ears. "What do you mean by Ďowí?"
"Iím a little sore," Kim grinned and patted Tomís hand.
"Ensign Kim! "
Chakotayís voice seared through the air, turning heads and stilling conversations. It almost made Kim jump out from his bare skin.
"Ensign Kim, why are you neglecting your duties?"
Kim saw the Commander standing on the edge of the bath, his dark eyes burning. He looked mad. Very mad. Behind him, he heard Tomís soft wince.
"Ensign," Chakotayís tone was cold, emotionless. "Get out from the bath. We are leaving for the ship now. "
Kim could only nod and slip out from the bath. He took one of the folded towels on the bench. Chakotay growled and Kim hurried his towel-drying up. He found his uniform under another bench and under the chill regard of the Commander, he struggled into the black-and-gold suit.
Oh shit, oh damn, oh shit Ötriple shit !
He felt like a frightened chick, helpless before a powerful hawk.
"We will collect Ensigns Díarcy and Bellar now. Are you ready, ensign?" Chakotay hissed. He didnít care about the sorry appearance of Kim in front of him: hair wet and uncombed, looking harassed. He glanced at Tom who had stepped out from the water. Damn, he still looks good!
Chakotay gritted his teeth.
I hate this place.
The silence in the turbolift was unbearable.
Two officers standing beside each other, one standing slightly behind.
The doors hissed open.
"I will pretend that nothing happened planetside, " the Commander said, his voice steely. "Never, ever, do it again. If you ever repeat this mistake, I swear to the spirits I will turn your intestines inside out."
Kathryn Janeway knew that something was wrong.
She sensed it on the Bridge, in the Messhall, along the corridors.
There was an air of tension literally crackling between her first officer and Ensign Kim, thick and unpleasant. They avoided each other like the plague and when they actually had to meet, there was some distance, some implicit friction.
The captain came to a startling conclusion.
They were fighting over ÖTom.
She glared icily at the viewscreen, at the blue-white clouds of the planet, spinning enticingly. Chakotay and Kim were refusing to talk, either to one another or her. The sense of friendliness was gone, replaced by suspicion. She did not know what really happened on the planet but whatever it was, it was turning two good officers and friends into enemies.
Kathryn sighed to herself.
Chakotay pushed himself hard, leaping off the ledge and landing onto the harsh desert floor, calf muscles bulging with the impact. Perspiration poured down his back, pooling between his midriff and darkened his sweat-shirt.
He looked around, letting the breeze cool his heated skin. He enjoyed the strenuous work-out, allowing him to clear his mind and loosen the taut nerves in his body.
The sight of Tom and Kim together Ö
The Native American growled deep in his throat, breaking into a brisk run. His legs pumped like pistons, coursing over the rocks effortlessly. The wind sang; he could feel it stream through his hair. With the blue sky, the landscape of the pampas, the dry wind in his face, he was free once more ---
--- Found himself tumbling onto the gravelly ground, the sharp flinty pebbles skinning his knees, biting into his bare arms. He gasped with the unexpected pain, managing to get back onto his feet. Blood trickled down from the skin-wounds, trails of red flowing down his elbows. His knees looked bad. He had forgotten that he had removed the safety protocols.
"Computer, delete program Chak.14."
The program faded into the red grids of the Holodeck.
The scraped knees smarted as he walked out back onto the corridors of the ship. Passing crewmen eyed him in surprise and astonishment. Chakotay just walked on, permitting a tight smile on his face. He got back to his quarters and for a moment, he stood there, at the doorway.
It felt quiet without Tom, without his laughter Öwithout his touch.
"Lights, 90 %."
The room gradually acquired illumination. Chakotay strode in, picking up a clean towel. He saw the glass phoenix on the bedside table
A present from Tom, for his 44th birthday.
He watched the planet Ssuiítai slide past as Voyager rounded a bend on her orbit. His muscles inevitably clenched, causing his skin-wounds to bleed once more.
Thereís something not quite right, that planet with its utopian, feel-good atmosphere.
By the spirits, he was going back to the planet.
Harry stirred his Vulcan mocha listlessly, seated alone in the Messhall.
Most of the crew had left for their duties; only Neelix remained behind the kitchen counter, cleaning the tops and wrapping the leftovers in clingwrap for any latecomer The Talaxian tactfully left the young Asian man alone.
The ensign stared at the whorls of chocolate in the mug, wanting to still the turmoil of emotions in his heart. God, he felt quilty! Guilty because he realized that he had slept with his best friend. Guilty because he had hurt Commander Chakotayís feelings.
Guilty because he actually enjoyed it.
He could still feel the supple hands massaging his shoulders, caressing his skin. It was unlike anything heíd experienced before. Sure, he had Libby during his Academy days, experimented with his sexuality but he was Harry Kim, ace student and whiz-kid. Studious, uptight, too serious. However when he met Tom, that first time on Deep Space Nine, he found out that he was attracted to the tall blonde pilot. Attracted to the languid nonchalance, the worldliness, the sleek charm.
Kim put down the mug of mocha, aware of the growing hardness between his legs. He blushed and attempted to hide it.
For a while Öa long while, he kept his one-sided admiration to himself. He still loved Libby but she faded with time and distance until she became somewhat like a beautiful ghost. He watched Tom intently, observed him. Tom was a good-looking man and Kim wasnít surprised to find women flocking after him. At nights, he ached, troubled by loneliness and the dormant desire in him.
It wasnít easy.
Then Commander Chakotay and Tom started seeing each other. Kim grew unhappy, sick with jealousy. He envied their closeness, their intimacy. He could never be part of that mystical bond between the two men.
Sevenís arrival seemed like a new start for him. She was the enigmatic ice princess, at once untouchable and desirable. She was both sensuality and steel. These two qualities baffled Kim, drawing him to her like a moth to fire. The relationship between the former Borg and him was sometimes frustrating, sometimes mind-boggling.
Yet Seven, for all her desirability, was at the end Öunattainable.
Harry sighed, willing the erection to ease off. It was almost impossible. The trip down to the planet, Tomís transformation ignited in him a fire that refused to be extinguished. As if in response to his rising urge, his inner thighs tingled.
The mocha tasted bitter in his mouth.
Ssuiírinín ,formerly known as Thomas Eugene Paris,sat on a hill, contemplating his life.
His delicate butterfly wings flickered in slight annoyance as he gazed up into the sky, into the darker layers and beyond that. Somewhere up there, he knew there was a ship circling the planet. A beautiful silver ship.
That ship belonged to his old life, to a past which he would rather forget.
Now he was Feirín. He was free. The sky was his. He could finally fly.
I am Feirín.
He inadvertantly thought back to a time where anguish and pain dominated. His father. No, his Ďfatherí. That old man was demanding, inflexible and intolerant of failure. He made my life hell, forcing me, pressurizing me. When I was in jail, he refused to recognize me. He cut off all relations with me. When I got out, with Captain Janewayís help, he wasnít there. He pretended not to hear. I was a failure, his failure. His personal failure. I was never good for him
Tears trickled down his cheeks.
Now I am different. Different. I am free.
Free. He rolled the word in his mouth. Free.
He wiped his face and stretched himself to the fullest. There was so much energy, so much power in this new body. The newness, the sleekness. He felt like ÖVoyager. Unlimited strength packed into one body.
And for now, he was accepted, whole-heartedly in the Feirín community.
There was one time in his life where acceptance was scarce in coming. Sure, men and women admired him. For his flying and his lovemaking. But that was it. Nothing else. Then Chakotay changed his life. He was loved, cherished and cared for.
Why did I have sex with Harry?
Tom refused to answer that inner question. Instead, he leaped into the sky, embracing his newfound freedom.
Chakotay couldnít sleep. He lay on his empty bed, thinking of a certain blonde pilot with his skillful hands. The big man groaned. His limbs screamed for release ...
Memory flashback Ö
"You are good, " Chakotay murmured appreciatively as Tom expertly kneaded his taut shoulders. "Did you learn this at the Academy?"
Soft amused laughter. The hands continued their sinuous path around his shoulderblades, sliding down gently.
There was a fragrance in the air, the exotic aroma of the oil Tom was using. It hinted of jasmine and sandalwood. Ginger too, sniffed Chakotay, leaning back, enjoying the sensations Tomís fingers were rousing. He managed to convince Tom to replicate vials of fragrant oil and the young man obliged, with a whole cabinet of different scents.
Tom put these fragrances to good use, of course.
Now as his loverís hands smeared (lavender?) oil over his buttocks, Chakotay closed his eyes. It never felt so good before, him laying naked on the floor of his quarters, dined and wined. Lowered lights, candles glowing in the semi-dark.
"Hey, babe, you learning how to make cookies out of my butt?" He said, his chin on his folded arms.
"Shut up, big guy." Tomís reply had a hint of a grin to it. "I have great practice though Ö" He jiggled the firm butt-cheeks in front of him playfully.
Chakotay almost jumped out of his skin when he felt a smooth finger tickle the insides of his sphincter. But he relaxed, knowing how good Tom was with his fingers. He moaned softly when small electric jabs of pleasure coursed their way to his brain, to his groin. His penis was stiffening; he was getting a little uncomfortable.
He gasped with delight as Tom introduced another gel-coated finger into his anus. He started to thrust, at first with slow forward motions, then when Chakotay begged for more, he increased his speed til the Native American was bucking with ill-concealed pleasure and desire. Oh spirits Öoh spirits! Chakotay saw stars exploding before his eyes. Oh spirits, Tom!
Then Tom stopped and Chakotay turned around, half-dazed, frustrated. He groaned, "Tom?"
"On your back." The pilot commanded imperiously.
Racked with desire, still throbbing with desperate need, Chakotay rolled over to his back. He could see Tom, similarly nude. The pilot grinned impishly and scooped out something from a bowl. With the same grin on his face, he took Chakotayís engorged member and coated it gently. The next instant, Chakotay experienced a certain coolness covering the entire shaft. Like ice, he thought.
He saw Tomís butt moving towards his face.
"Yeah, I want to try this new position, darling."
"You wicked little boy Ö" Chakotay chuckled. "Whatís this cream youíd using?"
"Something I bought during shore leave at Ridian." Tom laughed and wiggled his butt.
Chakotay slicked his loverís rimmed sphincter with the clear-looking cream and he heard Tom gasp aloud with the sensation. He smiled in the darkness. Then he lay back onto the floor, letting Tom ease himself down onto his hardened cock.
Tom started to move, swaying his hips. Chakotay groaned out. This felt good Övery good, his member wrapped in his loverís warm flesh. He began to thrust his hips too, encouraging Tom, beseeching him to go faster. Faster, faster ÖHis dimmed eyes could make out Tom shaking violently too; the young man was pumping his own member.
Chakotay cried out as he climaxed, bucking his hips spasmodically. He could hear Tomís answering moan too. A pleasant coolness spread across his heated body. Later, he gathered Tom in his arms and they lay in the dark, enjoying each otherís company. They made love again, both of them shouting simultaneously with their orgasms Ö
His lonely cry echoed in his empty quarters.
Early next morning, the Commander beamed down alone to the planet. He had only the safety of his phaser and his link to the ship.
Once again, the beauty of the place took his breath away. Plants sparkled. There were golden globes of strange fruits hanging tantalizingly off branches. He glanced around, smiling slightly. If Kes was still here, she would be delighted, her elfin hands inquisitively touching, knowing all of them. She would probably look at home in this fairyland planet. Thereís a beautiful rose-like flower, thatís like a lily-of-the-valley Öthis looks like a hibiscus Ö
Hibiscus? Chakotay leaned down and held the delicate golden flower in his hand. It looks like a hibiscus, feels like it, smells like it Ö
He frowned, deciding that he was being silly. He was thinking of Earth again.
Walking on, Chakotay activated his tricorder and scanned the place.
There are unusually high energy levels over there, he observed, startled. He strode forward, confident. Suddenly, his feet gave way ---
---darkness, sense of falling ---
He landed on his back hard. His head spun and his back ached. For a while, he lay on the strange surface, recomposing. It was totally dark; he couldnít see his hands.
He blinked and was immediately reassured to see a faint light coming from above. He seemed to have fallen into a pothole or something.
Scampering to his feet, he reoriented himself. He had lost his tricorder and now it was back to basics: he had to use his four senses. His eyes picked out another faint light in front of him (or was it above him?) and decided to follow it. He was uncommonly warm; the darkness pulsated with a certain dry heat. He sniffed. The air smelled musty, like old paper.
The light grew brighter and larger. Chakotay stumbled on, his hands outstretched, feeling for any solid bearings. Once or twice, he knocked into rock. Another time, he nearly tripped over something and that something slithered away, making a rustling sound as it brushed past his legs. Chakotay almost leaped back in sheer fright.
Almost there, Chakotay muttered to himself. Almost there.
He rounded a corner ---
And gaped in shock.
"Mr Tuvok, try scanning the planetís surface for Mr Chakotay."
Kathryn paced the entire Bridge, up and down.
Down and up.
The captain shook her head. Chakotay was acting like a fool-hardy teenager, sneaking off without informing her. It was so unlike the steady, mature man she knew and worked with for the past few years. Something must be bothering him.
Kathryn sighed and continued her restless pacing.
Near her, Ensign Harry Kim hunched down at his console, concentrating on his task
He could only pray.
Chakotay had seen many strange things in his life. He had been a seasoned traveller and he encountered bizarre stuff during his career as a Maquis soldier. Denebian slime devil, Cardassian vole, singing plants, the crawling spiders the Bajorans used to catch for food (which tasted like a cross between crab meat and peanut butter) and exotic dancers with three breasts and eye-stalks. Not to mention the diverse races of the Federation and the non-Federation.
He counted himself lucky to have seen creatures only imagined in story books and tales. Or vids, as Tom had shown him. The wanderlust and the fascination with different cultures allowed him the open-mindedness, appealing to his inner wish to be an anthropologist.
But the things he had seen literally took his breath away.
He was looking at rows and rows of chrysalises.
Human-sized chrysalises, golden, hanging from the ceiling. Chakotay realized that the light in the huge Öcavern originated from the chrysalises. Each individual chrysalis had its own reddish-gold light, pulsating from within and they beat like a sychronized heart.
The Commander got over the first rush of fear and stepped up to the nearest chrysalis. He put a hand on its surface and drew it back immediately. It rippled under his palm. He found his skin prickling with a sense of foreboding. He put his hand back onto the chrysalis. It felt like dried snake skin and it vibrated.
Something was definitely alive in this chrysalis.
Chakotay couldnít help but think back to the vid Tom had watched with him a few months ago. Aliens ? Tom had a certain penchant for violent and bloody movies. But this Aliens flick cut the cake. It was extremely visceral ; he couldnít stomach beef steak for a while.
The chrysalis gave a shake and before the stunned eyes of the man, it detached itself from the ceiling. It fell onto the ground with a rustle like dessicated leaves, laying side-ways.
A small crack appeared, a long hairline fissure snaking its way along the entire length of the chrysalis.
Chakotayís heart constricted, the fight or flight instinct screaming in his mind. Move, Chakotay, move!
Silvers of yellow light were seeping out from the chrysalis.
Move, dammit, move!
Chakotay found himself rooted to the ground, unable to budge. His gaze was fixated on the object which was by now streaming golden beams of light.
Then, he saw a Ö
Hand? Yes, a hand. Human. With five digits.
The rest of the hand emerged, shining with incandescent colors, covered with moisture. Shoulders followed.
A face. A very human face --- Ensign Díarcy?!
Chakotay struggled to pull himself out of the temporary paralysis that held him captive. He summoned enough courage to run ---
That obscenity with the face of Ensign Díarcy was now fully emerged from the empty shell, dripping golden fluid down a naked body. He reached for Chakotay ---
Before Chakotay could shout out a warcry, before he could hit out, something bright struck him.
The big man crumbled without a sound. But he hung onto his failing senses like a desperate man who had found some precious water. As the darkness claimed him, he thought that he could see golden figures dancing Ö
"Captain, the Commanderís signal is very faint."
Kathrynís brows furrowed, the sign of an imminent storm.
"Faint, you say, Mr Kim?"
Harry nodded. His hands flew over the panels. "Yes, captain. Very faint. But I can still pick him out but something is blocking us. "
"I see," Kathryn whispered and stepped down to her command chair. "This planet is confirming my suspicions. Itís not as pleasant and bucolic as it seems. Mr Kim, intensify the scans and ask Seven to assist you in your search. "
"Mr Kim?" The captain lifted an eyebrow.
"Yes Ömaíam." Harry nodded hurriedly and strode immediately to the turbolift.
Kathryn Janeway permitted herself an inner shrug.
It was like a womb.
He could feel the influx of strange alien things seeping into his body, changing him. He was undergoing a transformation, a life-altering process.
All around him was a translucent wall. He lifted his hand ---what is a hand?--- and touched it.
He was changing.
It was a fascinating Öfeeling.
He turned slowly, the fluid coating his body swirling with the slight motion. He watched it with infinite admiration, letting the sparkling motes wash over him.
The voice whispered in his head.
He frowned. Who is Tom?
The tendrils crept everywhere, slipping into every vessel, every bone, every organ. They were fusing with him, bonding, moulding.
A pale face. Blue eyes. Tall.
Harry Kim stood next to the statuesque woman.
She reminded him forcefully of some Valkyrie warrior maiden, cold and haughty.
"It would seem that the lifesigns of the Commander are masked by some entity, " Seven was saying in her imperious voice, her supple fingers darting all over the panels. "Mr Kim?"
"Hhhmmph?" Harry blinked and tried to focus. He was thinking about skillful hands rubbing his shoulders Ö
"Oh yes, I was just woolgathering Ö" He cringed slightly at the intense blue gaze Seven had fixed him with.
"Gathering wool?" Seven questioned. "Please explain."
Harryís face reddened. "I mean, I was just thinking about something. "
"I see, " the former Borg nodded. "Very interesting. Now can we return back to the task proper?"
"You were saying something about Commander Chakotayís lifesigns being masked Ö"
"Yes. His bio-signs are very faint and ---" Sevenís regal features arranged themselves into a frown ---"they are being changed."
"Changed?" Harry found himself concerned, despite of the cold shoulder Chakotay had been giving him lately.
"I detect certain fluctuations, " Seven indicated the bright curves on the screen, particularly the spikes. "It seems that the bio-signs are slowly being taken over by something Öalien."
Ice water cascaded down Harryís back.
"I think we need to tell the captain, " he said, suddenly worried about Chakotay Öand Tom.
Seven nodded curtly.
Ssuiírinín sensed a change in the atmosphere.
It was charged, almost with an air of anticipation.
Images flashed through his mind.
Of pale beautiful skin, of fine blonde hair, of smooth cheeks.
Of primal sex, star-exploding orgasms ripping through body and soul.
Of intimacy and togetherness, of entwined limbs.
He tried to stop the mad mental deluge.
Of a starship, hurtling through space. Of a woman, patrician and commanding.
Of people who looked to him for leadership.
Of blue eyes that worshipped him.
"Captain, " Tuvok said, his voice carefully modulated. "I have just received news that Ensign DíArcy has disappeared."
Kathryn Janewayís temples throbbed with the mother of all headaches.
"Why am I not informed?" She rapped out, her voice lashing out. She was angry.
"It would seem that Ensign DíArcy had taken ill two days ago and the Doctor had sent him to his quarters." The Vulcan security officer said without batting an eyelid at his quietly-enraged commander. "But he had not appeared in Engineering for his duties."
"What else did Lieutenant Torres say?"
"She said nothing else."
First, her Conn officer. Then her second-in-command and one of her engineers.
This was getting a little too uncanny for her own liking.
The turbolift doors hissed open and young Kim ran out, followed by calm Seven.
Judging by the young manís expression, Kathryn knew that she was going to hear more bad news.
**The time has arrived.**
Ssuiírinín found flight exhilarating.
He had never been so free in his life, allowed so much movement and fluidity of space. The wings brought him to places he never knew existed, places of exquisite beauty. He could taste the wind in his mouth, its voice in his ears.
He never felt cold although he was divested of the cumbersome uniform. Instead, he felt much lighter than usual.
Here, in the air, with the kiss of the wind on his skin and his golden wings, he could finally fly.
Flying was his dream, his hope. He excelled in flying; it was his key to freedom. To control something like a starship, packed with so much power like a tiger, and make it fly. To sit in the inside of a shuttlecraft and command it with his will.
Now his dream was made manifest. He was the dream.
He was flight incarnate.
Ssuiírinín dipped and somersaulted in the sky, a phoenix in triumphant flight.
He could recall a warm handsome face smiling affectionately as he placed the glass phoenix onto the table. Dark thoughtful eyes, twinkling with obvious joy. Dimpled as the handsome face smiled, holding the mythical bird in his hands.
A monthís replicator rations for this glass filigree phoenix.
Thank you, Tom.
The handsome face, with its brown beautiful eyes, then kissed him on the lips.
A gentle loving kiss.
I love you, Tom.
The handsome face had a name.
With a silent scream, Ssuiíriníin fell.
Kim leaned against the walls of the turbolift, exhausted.
He had left the captainís conference room, after a heated debate carried out between Janeway, Seven and himself. The only option they could come to an agreement was to go back to the planet.
Tom. Chakotay. Kim thought worriedly. Díarcy.
The turbolift brought him to his destination.
Tom, the ensign sent an urgent prayer to the stars.
I hope youíre alright.
The Feirín discovered the crumpled shape near the shining forest glade. Without a word, they carried it gently back to the Temple.
A lone figure emerged from the grove.
Nude, it glistened with the same Feirín golden sheen. But it had a regal, stately stature.
With a determined smile on its lips, it began walking.
Golden shimmering figures congregated in the place they called the Temple. They came in pairs, in groups. They clustered like delicate butterflies, their wings fanning the air lightly. Their eyes were sparkling, liquid with an obvious joy. Many held hands.
The Temple had been there for a long time. It was their most sacred place, their most treasured possession. It was the place that housed their hopes, their dreams, their expectations.
A young man, his beauty radiant, stepped out from the cluster. He was the youth who accompanied the human man Harry Kim. Shairan walked up to the entrance of the Temple, his countenance proud, his head carried high.
He tossed his long silverish-gold hair back and lifted his voice in a song.
It was a song of immense jubilation. It sang of renewal and rejuvenation. It was a wordless paen, consisting of a haunting tune. It spiraled heavenwards.
The Temple began to tremble and crack.
The golden figures banded closer, drawn together in breathless anticipation.
They watched as the Temple started to cave in by itself.
"Captain, I am picking up strong seismic readings from the planet. " Tuvok announced on Voyagerís Bridge. His commander wheeled on her heels and gave him a steady stare.
"An earthquake?" Her voice was dry.
"It appears to be 6.5 on the Richter scale, " the Vulcan officer continued unperturbed. He might as well describe the weather. "It is localized in a particular area."
"What area?" Captain Janeway strode quickly over to his station. She leaned over, her expression intense.
"It is an area" --- Tuvok barely lifted an eyebrow---"shaped like a flower."
Shairan continued singing the haunting paen. He poured his heart, his soul into the entire tapestry of the song. Unconsciously, he was weaving, lacing the voices of an ancient migrant race into a complex ballad; the yearning and seeking voices, their secret memories and their desires, merged into the melodic river.
As he sang, his fit taut body began to emanate a brilliant glow. The light pulsated, growing in brightness. Soon Shairan seemed to be coated in a mantle of shifting pink-gold aurora borealises. Near him, his fellow friends, his brethrens echoed his transformation.
The Temple finished the last of its death throes.
What was revealled was a geometrically-shaped pit, sinking deep into the planetís center. It had roughly five corners and a center that rippled with energy.
Ovals of light dotted every conceivable spot in the pit, each beating like a red heart. They resembled rubies, sparkling.
Shairan halted his singing and turned to the rest of his community. His eyes had taken on a silvery cast.
**We are ready**
He returned his gaze back to the sunken ground and lifted his voice once more. This time, the same paen had cresendoed to a more insistent tone.
The ovals of lights shuddered and shook.
Shairan closed his eyes, consumed by the song. His brethren joined in, adding to the complexity of the tune. The ground rumbled; the surrounding trees vibrated.
As the young Feirín led the song, his wings, once golden-silver, lengthened, rippling with the color of molten gold. The pinions spread til they were almost twice the height of the man.
His fellow Feirín mirrored the change as well.
The single still voice smashed the hypnotic atmosphere.
"Stop. I want you to answer some questions."
The intruder was the second-in-command of the strange ship. But he had undergone some subtle transformation. He was sheathed in the same auric brilliance like a Feirín. His dark eyes glimmered with the same intensity like Shairan.
Like the Feirín, he was nude. But he wore power.
His dark hair now surrounded his head like a leonine mane. His body rippled with tamed muscles. But he had no wings.
"You are disturbing us, " Shairanís voice sounded breathless.
"I have seen the cocoons, " Chakotay said, walking confidently up to the Feirín. He fixed the fairy-like man with a quiet look. "You are stealing men from my ship, arenít you?"
Shairan felt the urgency in the air, the desperate throb in the atmosphere. Yet this man, so like a Feirín and yet so different, demanded attention.
"Why?" Chakotay said, his voice low and insistent. "Why are you taking Tom and Díarcy away? "
Shairan did not answer. Instead, he gestured to his Feirín brothers. They carried a limp form between them. Chakotay started in utter shock. It was Tom.
It was Tom but a Tom stripped of his former fey loveliness.
His yellow wings were broken.
Chakotay turned his dark eyes back to Shairan. He wanted so much to run over to his wounded lover and gather him into his arms. But he had to demand for answers.
"What you did to Tom and Díarcy is wrong, " Chakotay said in a calm voice. " They donít belong here."
Shairanís silver eyes darkened in sorrow.
"Our race is a migrant race, " he began softly. " But itís dying. A long time ago, we were once so beautiful, so healthy. We travelled the stars so easily." Shairan sighed. " Then one day, we found ourselves ill. One by one, our brethren started to drop. We discovered that we couldnít breed."
His voice was tired.
"We became desperate and in our desperation, we went to every planet in the system to seek new blood." Shairan pointed at the sunken pit filled with the ovals of light. "We found that by infusing their bodies with our DNA, they are able to turn Feirín. But many have rejected our DNA. To them, it is like a virus. When your ship entered our system, we discovered that Ssuiírinín ---" He gestured at the forlorn figure unconscious on the ground ---" has compatibility and we took him."
"What you did is wrong, " Chakotay shook his head. "You are making him believe in a lie."
"He desires it, " Shairan flung a hard glare at his accuser. "He wants it."
"But Tom and Díarcy are not real Feirín."
"They ARE Feirín!" Shairan thundered angrily. He softened immediately. "Now Ssuiírinín is now injured. He can never fly again. He can never make the journey."
"Yes. We are preparing for the journey. We are migrating to a different planet. "
"What about Tom?" Chakotay knelt down and touched the warm-cold cheek. He looks as if heís sleeping.
"Heís now weak. He can never fly."
"I will have to bring him back to Voyager ."
The Feirínís face was sad. "I guess we have no choice."
Soundlessly, Tomís butterfly wings crumbled off and Chakotay gathered him tenderly into his arms. He stroked the face he so loved.
"How about Díarcy?"
"He has made his choice to stay."
"Thank you." Chakotay said gratefully. "Thank you."
CHAP.10: Conclusion and epilogue
The people onboard the Bridge of the starship gaped in silent admiration and awe as they watched a glow engulf the planet.
Something profoundly significant was happening.
A flood of gold was snaking its way upwards from the planet, spiralling in a corkscrew of light. It was an impenetrable stream, seemingly continous, fluid. As the Starfleet officers and crewmembers gazed, rendered speechless, the flow of incandesdance rushed towards them in an endless torrent.
Some swore that they saw figures with large wings in the golden rush.
The golden river made its quiet stately way past the ship, moving towards the darkness of space.
When Voyagerís folk couldnít see the brilliant river anymore, they managed to break the hypnotic silence and went about their tasks. As for Kathryn Janeway, she rapped out orders to continue searching for Commander Chakotay and the two crewmembers. As for Harry Kim, he could only pray.
They saw the Commander the moment they beamed down onto the planet.
Kathryn permitted herself to lift an eyebrow at the naked man who only smiled at her. Her gaze became sad when she saw who he was carrying.
She sent them straight to Sickbay where the Doctor carried out a barrage of tests, medical and psychological. For Tom, the recovery took longer with the rejuvenation of bones and the restructuring of muscules, he was paralysed from the waist down, although the Doctor reassured the captain and Chakotay that he could be healed in the near possible feature.
Chakotay healed quickly. He returned back to duties as soon as possible. But to the people around him, to his colleagues, he bore uncanny vestiges of the transformation to half-Feirín. His tanned skin had taken on a slight golden sheen and his eyes were brilliant. He walked with a subtle power.
He worried for Tom.
When Tom woke up, he was severely disoriented and delirious. He wanted to go back to the planet. Then realizing that he was handicapped, he descended into a period of depression where he rejected food and drink. Chakotay could only massage him, be with him.
Harry Kim visited Tom regularly, bringing him news and gossip. But Chakotay avoided the ensign.
"Whatever happened on the planet was a dream, " Tom told Harry, his blue eyes pools of sorrow. "I am sorry." His face was wan, bloodless, bereft of his former glory.
Harry smiled. But his heart broke into thousands of shards. He only stayed on because Tom was his friend, his best friend.
Tom Paris was discharged from Sickbay the same day they discovered the remnants of a space craft on the Feirín planet.
They found out that it originated from Earth. The Feirín did visit Earth.
Tom received the news quietly, seated on the electric wheelchair the Doctor had designed (and based on 20th century medical files). He sat, with his hands folded on his laps, while Kathryn Janeway commended him for his bravery and praised him for his survival.
Chakotay stood close to him, a protective presence.
Chakotay tried to cheer his Tom up. He actually cooked Italian pasta for the dinner and he played an old opera file he had discovered. Tom arrived punctually, on his wheelchair. Chakotay had to stem the rush of sadness, a nagging ache in his chest.
They ate in silence, each savoring the pasta and each otherís company. It had been a long time since the two were together.
Chakotay tentatively started the conversation. It was so unusual of Tom to be quiet.
" Tom?" He asked again when the pilot didnít answer.
Tear-filled blue eyes answered him.
"Baby, whatís wrong?" Chakotay stood up, concerned.
"You donít have to patronise me, " Tom muttered, his face sullen.
"Iím not patronising you, " the Native American was stunned by the accusory tone in Tomís voice.
"You should have left me with them, " the pilot gazed up, suddenly angry. He felt the dormant rage bubbling up, like hot boiling oil threatening to overflow.
Chakotay bit his lip. He could still see the chrysalises cracking open with the song and millions of new Feirín hatching from their shells.
"Do you know I was so free?" Tom growled, his color up. "I was flying, for Godís sake. Flying Öfree! Now I am like this Ö" He motioned exasperatedly at the wheelchair.
All of a sudden, he started to sob.
The sound tore at Chakotayís heart. He hugged Tom, feeling the tears dampen his shirt.
"You are still free, Tom." Chakotay murmured, stroking the soft blonde hair with a gentle hand.
In the background, Pucciniís "Madame Butterfly" finished with a heart-wrenching finale.
"You are free, love." Chakotay whispered, starring into dark eyes. "Free inside."
"I hope, " a soft voice said. "I hope so."