Warning: The following short story will contain a m/m relationship. If you cannot tolerate homosexuality, please delete it, close the window. Leave.

Pairing: C/P, K/Seven

Summary: This is a short story, inspired after a night out with a few friends of mine. 

Title: That Little Touch

Rating: PG

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That Little Touch
By Ki

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The Messhall bustles with normal dinner activity. Groups of crewmembers line up with their food-trays as Neelix dishes out Delta Quadrant morsels. I smile and sip at my hot coffee. Beside me, Seven stirs but she does not speak. Her eyes watch the couple in front of us with an intensity I find amusing.

They sit side by side each other. Still-full trays of food lay eaten on the table. I wrinkle my nose. The curry looks tolerably edible but it remains untouched. Putting down my mug, I begin to study them closely. 

Guys. They look like ordinary guys I know. Starfleet officers. Both wearing the bi-colored red and black of command. The only thing differentiating them is probably their slight height discrepancy. Maybe, rank and age might play a part. But they look like ordinary guys who play pool during the weekends.

Seven shifts again and leans forward. 

"Are you two in a …relationship?"

The question is sudden. Kind of unexpected. I gulp down a lump in my throat and winces inwardly to myself. Tact is one thing my dear Seven has to learn. 

They do not look offended. Instead, they nod and smile. One turns to his partner with blue eyes and grins conspiratorially. 

I feel the heat of embarrassment filling my cheeks and I quickly look down into my own curry, poking the vegetable stalks with my fork. I guess I am still in shock. 

"So…err…how did you meet?" I ask and smile hesitantly. I feel as if I have asked a stupid question.

They both look at each other. "For a very long time…" The older man answers quietly, his brown eyes twinkling. 

I am quite surprised to see that they are not behaving like a couple at all. The pairs around us are at least holding hands, myself included. It took me quite a while to convince Seven about the validity and beauty of touch. 

Perhaps, the ship isn’t ready to accept this relationship. There are covert glances thrown at the direction of my friends and furtive whispers. People are squeamish about it and I guess, my friends feel it and have decided not to display their affection publicly. 

The crowd grows. I can hear laughter, bits of conversations flowing around me. 

"Now Har, don’t you tell me you belong to the "hellfire and brimstone" club?" The blue eyes regard me strangely. 

I shake my head. "No. No, I don’t, okay?"

There is a sigh from the speaker. 

"Look, Tom," I say a little louder than usual. "I am not those hypocrites who pretend to be nice. I am proud to be your friend."

A radiant smile lights up the handsome face. "Aww, thanks Har."

We become silent for a few minutes. Seven stands up, her hand on my shoulder. Her fingers give a tiny squeeze --- her sign of affection --- and she walks away, back to her Astrometrics lab. 

I don’t know what to say to Tom and Chakotay. Instead, I tuck into my cold lunch. As I eat, I watch them. 

They are not holding hands. But their fingers rest close together. Then, I see it. Long fair slender fingertips brushing the back of the tanned hand. 

It is such a little touch but it speaks volumes.

I chuckle softly. 

That single little touch is going to stick in my mind for a long time.