Title: Phoenix Fire
Pairing: C/P (predominantly), some P/K
Chapter Eleven (11/?)
Summary: Harry Kim reflects on his current situation as DS9 moves into a state of emergency. (Caution: language)
For I wander like a homeless spirit, lost between the living and the dead. I watch the living and their families; how I envy them!
--- 23rd century Chinese dissident poet Mei-Jia.
Harry Kim leaned against the cold metal wall, his eyes closed. He tried to shut down the noises around him, the faint sounds of people running and the shouting. Where he was sitting, he could hear the station in a state of turmoil. Everything was crumbling all around him and he felt defenseless, like an infant lost in a strange land.
He knew that the captain and Chakotay were still deep in discussion. The Native American man had an intent expression on his face; he was gesturing and nodding at the same time. Tuvok sat calmly, listening in to the soft whispering. Something was afoot but Harry didn’t really care. He had already forgotten about the ‘caring’ bit when Seven and Tom left with the young doctor. He had already ceased to care when Voyager was treated like a criminal. He was mad at first, the rage eating away at him like a roaring fire. Shit, he wanted to run up to the guards, punch them senseless and rescue his friends. Especially Seven.
Perhaps, he would become selfish, retreat back to his world of secret dreams and desires. Perhaps, he would remember Tom’s kisses and their time together. But he had already promised Chakotay that he would back off like a gentleman.
He clenched his fist, knowing the tears on his cheeks were tears of anger and frustration. He knew that he had to help his ship…
But do I really care?
He was hungry. Ravenous, actually. The food was appetizing, reminding him of paper mash and cardboard. Captain Janeway ate a little and she advised Naomi to do so. But the rest of the crew ate nothing.
Images of his parents came flooding into his fevered mind. Man, his parents. They must be so elated that he was back. No wait. He was not exactly back. He was happily…wrongfully imprisoned in some outpost ‘debriefing room’ that was a fucking euphemism for ‘prison’. His mother must be worried sick. She would be. From day one of his existence, she was concerned about his health and his life. Everything. He was her only son and she lavished all her care on him.
Only son. Sometimes, he hated being the sole son of the Kim family. Every matter was centered on his person. He was given the best, fed the most nutritious food and mixed around with the elite. His schooling was all perfection and he admitted he did well in math and engineering. He loved numbers, even when he was a kid. He would spend his time in his room, playing with numbers and thinking up the most complicated equations. So, some of his meaner, more cynical friends called him ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’. The moment his mother knew about these childish taunts, she went straight to the school and complained.
His friends were given detention and his mother was satisfied.
His life was peaceful. Enriching. But at times, he felt stifled by his mother’s love. He was the fulfillment of her prayer to Buddha, the blessing that came from the skies. His mother kept drumming that fact into him and he grew up believing, assimilating it into his identity. He was obliged to repay the ‘debt’ as all filial children of Chinese/Korean descent would do.
It must be Lunar New Year back on Earth. Right where he lived, Chinatown must be alive with festivities. Lion and dragon dances. Feasting. A lot of good food.
The reunion dinner where the family would gather and enjoy that period of ‘togetherness’. He recalled with a pang in his heart his mother’s smile of profound satisfaction as he and his father tucked into the dishes of shark’s fin, sliced abalone and fresh carp. She prided herself on her cooking skills, a heritage she held proudly. For almost two decades, he had celebrated with his family. Even when he was dating Libby, he would bring her home for the celebrations.
His aunts and uncles would visit them, bringing bags of goodies. He would meet up with his cousins and they would exchange notes. Two of them, he remembered, were Ivy-League graduates and they had set up their own companies. A few were still teenagers when he left for his assignment on Voyager. They were immensely pleased when he announced his posting in front of everyone. His mother stood at the doorway of the kitchen, her hands coated with flour. She was making Northern Chinese dumplings with two of his aunts.
She was beaming with pride.
Harry sighed, dreading the pain when it tore into his heart like taloned fingers. The captain and her two senior officers were still talking. Chakotay was solemn, his hands clasped in front of him. He looked older, wearier.
Seven, where are you now?
He missed her company. He recalled how he had poured out his soul before her, playing his clarinet. She was privy to his inner pain. At first, he thought that Seven would reject him with that imperious voice of hers but she didn’t. Instead, their friendship grew and grew. She helped him ease the torment in his heart and in return, he taught her humanity. He introduced her to music, to fine Cantonese and Korean cuisine (even though she protested and claimed that her biological systems would not adapt fully to Earth food). He must have blown his replicator rations on the plate of ‘xiaolong bao’. But he was rewarded with the look of incredulous admiration when Seven placed the tiny dumpling into her mouth and the shine in her eyes when she began to chew.
It was a magical evening. Of course, he received a scathing tongue-lashing from the Doctor. But he didn’t care.
He didn’t care now too.
All he wanted…all he ever wanted was Seven.
The rest of the world could curl up and die a pitiful death. Let the Federation and whatever damned races kill themselves in their senseless battle for dominance. He wanted out from this stupid war. He didn’t go into the Academy for galactic self-interests. He went to Starfleet, believing that he would serve humanity and the Federation with his skills.
Man, he craved a plate of ‘xiaolong bao’. That was his favorite snack. The boy in him relished the burst of sweet-savory juices the moment he bit down and the hotness of the sliced ginger, coupled with the sourness of the black vinegar.
But Earth…freedom seemed so far away.
He could still hear people running outside their ‘prison’. The two security officers were getting nervous but they kept their cool. They had their job to do.
Tom’s eyes would water when he tasted the Korean pickled vegetables. It was decidedly a spicy side dish. Blue eyes twinkling, the man declared that he would rather stick to steak and potatoes.
The world was in conflict…and he was thinking about food!
B’Elanna walked over, arms folded. She tried to smile.
"The one and truly," she had a wry grin on her face. "Come, Starfleet, the captain wants to talk to us."
Harry was unwilling to stand up and walk over to his superior officer.
"Harry," B’Elanna’s tone was at once world-weary and firm. "You can’t sit here and mope. You want to get out of this place? Then, you better get your ass into gear."
The young man shook his head.
"You don’t want me to kick your ass, don’t you?" The half-Klingon woman said and her eyes flashed.
Harry lifted up both of his hands. "Okay, okay…"
He got off from his seat, noting how stiff his joints were. Captain Janeway beckoned him over and Chakotay made an extra place for him at the table.
Maybe, the plate of ‘xiaolong bao’ could wait. He would do his job and be happy.
‘xiaolong bao": literal translation: "little dragon(?) dumpling", a Shanghainess delicacy.
‘kimchee": hot Korean pickled vegetables.