By Morticia


ST: Voyager C/P
Rating. SLASH, m/m NC-17

Archive: Anywhere, just let me know, please

Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al are Paramount's (lucky devils) Angel is
mine (yippee!)

Part 26


"It's perfect, Haz" Tom said, his blue eyes sparkling and his white
cheeks flushed with excitement, "I couldn't imagine anything more

I looked at him in concern. We had spent our whole two-day shoreleave
on this planet going from one jeweler to another to find
the `perfect' ring.  Tom's face was drawn and pale with tiredness. He
simply would not settle for anything that he had seen before now.
They were too big, too small, too gold, too pale, too plain, too
intricate or too expensive. Anyone would think that his life depended
on the decision.

Perhaps it did in a way. I hadn't seen him so happy and animated
since the accident. Chakotay's proposal two weeks ago had invigorated
him. I wasn't alone in my doubts about Chakotay's reasons for the
proposal. Sue and I had talked long into numerous nights discussing
our mutual concerns. But Tom was my best friend and he was happy, and
that was all that mattered.

Which was why I was so concerned at his choice. It would break his
heart if he couldn't afford to buy it.

I agreed that it was oddly appropriate. The craftsmanship of the ring
was indisputable and the beautifully carved features of a remarkably
wolf-like creature's head were raised above the band to display eyes
set with tiny fiery stones. It was so Chakotay that I agreed with Tom
that it was "perfect" but I also expected that the cost would be
beyond anything that he could afford.

Tom had very little in the way of `money'. When we had been invited
down to the surface of Yndoria to trade and the Captain had decided
that it was a safe place for shoreleave, she had quickly arranged as
normal for the crew to convert replicator rations into local

Tom's payoff was not very substantial. It wasn't his fault; it wasn't
as if he spent any of his rations on luxuries. But he had such a high
dependency on replicated items, just to survive day to day, that in
over a year he had only managed to squirrel away the smallest amount
of credits.

Enough for a small gold wedding band perhaps, but not the beautiful
piece in the window.

Fortunately the shop entrance was up a curved staircase into a narrow
door. It would be virtually impossible for Tom to enter.

"I'll go in and check the price, shall I?" I said cheerfully, "You
may as well wait here."

Tom flashed me a concerned look, and his Adam's apple jumped
nervously as he read the doubt in my voice.

"Do you think the gems are real?" He whispered "I thought they would
just be semi-precious stones. Do you think it's really expensive?"
and suddenly the disappointment in his voice broke my heart.

Abruptly I made a decision to help him out. I had been saving for
months to be able to buy Sue an engagement ring. That was why I had
accompanied Tom on his quest, or at least one of the reasons. It was
possible that if we combined our money we would just about have

But I didn't want him to know. He had such fierce pride that I knew
he would refuse. He already had to depend on other people for more
than he could bear. I suspected that he would be offended by my
gesture, would mistakenly see it as charity.

The truth was that I would have given Tom the shirt off my back ever
since the first day we met at DS9.

Quite simply, I loved him.

"Nah, no-one uses expensive stones in a piece that unusual. It's not
the kind of ring that just anyone would buy. It's just a dress ring."
I lied glibly. "I'll just go and check. Will you be alright here on
your own?"

"Sure, Haz" Tom said, his voice subdued, He was obviously unconvinced
by my assurances.

I hesitated a moment, unwilling to leave Tom alone. The Y'ndorians
were a civilized people but they were obviously horrified by Tom's
disabilities. They had been too polite to stare at him. They had,
however, tended to conduct all conversations with me, constantly
talking over the top of Tom's head as though he was unable to hear or
understand. As though his mind was as damaged as his body.  I did not
believe that anyone would hurt Tom but I doubted anyone would rush to
help him either.

"I'll leave your Comm. Badge open, Tom. Any problems at all, tell
Voyager to beam you straight up." I ordered and Tom blinked his
acceptance of my precautions even as he flushed a little at his own

If I could have given him my own legs at that moment, I would have.
But perhaps I could at least get him his ring.

I ascended the rickety staircase and entered into the surprising
gloom of the shop. A bright eyed Y'ndorian shuffled out of the back
and grinned at me with sharp rodent teeth. The Y'ndorians were very
like Neelix in appearance except they were thin faced and rat-like in
countenance. I saw the shopkeeper's whiskers twitching in excitement
at the presence of an off-worlder. His thin fingers were rubbing
themselves in anticipation and my heart sank.

I tried to be casual but I know that I look like an easy mark, and
the shopkeeper was not fooled for an instant.

"There's a ring in your window. A dress-piece. An animal's head with
red eyes. I just wondered if I could take a closer look."

"Oh it's an exquisite piece. A real work of art. Made as a special
order for someone. That's why it's not priced. It's reserved."

"So why is it in your window?" I snapped, and then sighed as I
realised how much I was giving away my desperation

"Well.for the right price I might be persuaded to make my customer
wait for a replacement. But I would be risking his displeasure. You
would have to pay me enough to make it worth my while." The Y'ndorian
smirked as he retrieved the ring from it's display.

I was tempted to tell him to stuff the bloody thing up his ass, but I
saw Tom's motionless figure through the window, patiently waiting for
me on the street below and I swallowed my bitter pride and simply
murmured "How much is enough?"

"50 yarrans"

My jaw hit the floor. Even pooling my money with Tom's I barely had
15. "How much?" I squeaked.

"The stones are bzentlar crystals, true psychic mood stones. They
change color with the emotions of the wearer. See." He slipped the
ring over his thumb, since it was too wide for his skinny fingers and
the red eyes changed to blue fire

"What does that mean?" I asked curiously

"Happiness" The shopkeeper replied smugly "How could I be anything
but happy when I own such an exquisite treasure?"

The eyes of the `wolf' glowed with the same beauty as Tom's eyes and
I was filled with despair. Forgetting all rules of bartering I
whispered sadly "I only have 15"

"Fifteen? You insult me, 30 or nothing!" The Y'ndorian screeched in
outrage. "Here, try it on."

He thrust the ring over my own middle finger and I felt its
substantial weight and an instant warm glow on my skin. The blue eyes
flashed and changed color again. To dull black.

The shopkeeper took a violent step back, his mouth gaping in
horror. "Oh, no" he said "That's bad, that's very bad." he muttered
and his eyes pierced my face with sudden concern

"Black is the color of total despair. Why are you so sad?" and the
genuine interest in his voice was unmistakable.

Believe it or not, I began to cry.

"There, there" The Y'ndorian soothed nervously, "It's just a ring, I
have lots of other pretty things."

"Nothing else will do" I whispered, "Nothing else will make him

"Who? Make who happy?" The Y'ndorian queried, his whiskers twitching
in obvious concern. He was probably mortified at the thought of
people seeing an off-worlder leave his shop in tears, I thought
angrily; he was probably worried it would be bad for his business.

"Tom" and I nodded out the window. The Shopkeeper stared at Tom's
motionless form, at the ugly brace around his head and the straps
that cris-crossed his thin body, at the chair that imprisoned his
useless legs.

"The broken one" The Y'ndorian whispered, "I heard the rumor from my
brother but I didn't believe it. It seemed so cruel that anyone would
force a person to live with such injuries, with no hope."

"You're wrong." I yelled furiously "He does have hope. He's getting
married to the person he loves more than his own life."

"Married? Him? Who would marry such a broken man? Do you have another
like him then?" The shopkeeper queried in astonishment. I knew he was
not being deliberately cruel. He simply could not imagine anyone
still loving Tom.

"He is marrying the First Officer of our ship." I replied proudly
and "Chakotay will be honored by the marriage. Tom only deserves the
best. Tom is a better man than anyone I have ever met, even if he
is `broken'." I snarled in angry defense of my friend.

The little Y'ndorian blinked softly at my passionate words.

"Indeed, he must be very special to inspire such loyalty in you." He
replied gently and I suddenly wondered how on earth he had ever
reminded me of a rat. I had not seen such a wise gentle look on a
face since I was a tiny boy on my grandfather's lap.

"The ring is for him then? For `Tom'?"

"It's for Tom's wedding gift to Chakotay."

"Then take it." The Y'ndorian stated firmly and closed my hand
tightly over the ring.

"But - but, I only have 15 yarrans" I stuttered in confusion

"Keep them and keep the ring. It is a gift."

"I d-don't know what to say. Thank you!"

"No, thank you, off-worlder, for reminding me that there are still
some things more important than Yarrans. " The shopkeeper
chuckled "But don't you dare tell anyone. Humph. Indeed not. Bad for
business."  And with a last chuckle he disappeared back into the
bowels of his shop, leaving me standing there in amazement.

It took me a few minutes to compose myself enough to leave.

I found Tom where I had left him. His eyes were glazed with fresh
tears and on his lap were a number of coins.

"Tom?" I queried and he looked at me and bravely tried to smile.

"Hi, Haz. Get me out of here. Please."

"What's happened, Tom? Where did this money come from?"

Tom laughed bitterly. " A passer by, Haz. He thought I was a beggar.
He threw me money."

"I'm sure he thought he was being kind, Tom." I soothed

"Fuck him, fuck his charity." Tom snapped, his eyes wide with hurt,
then in an abrupt mood change he laughed softly "Of course, I told
him off!"

"What did you say?"

"I told him I was worth twice that much!" Tom grinned cockily and I
met his eyes and then we both laughed.

"Any luck with the ring?" He asked me and I knew without doubt that
there was no way I could tell him of the Y'ndorian's kindness.

"You were right, Tom. It's just a gimmick ring. The stones change
color with your mood. It wasn't expensive."

"Did you buy it for me?" Tom asked hopefully

"Yes. Do you want to look at it?"

"No, not now. I'm tired. I just want to go home."

"Okay, Tom."


"Yes, Tom?"

"Thank you" he sighed softly, happily, and then closed his eyes and
was asleep before we materialised back on Voyager.

I left him with Chakotay and took the ring to hide in my room. Then I
converted the 15 Yarrans back into credits and transferred the whole
amount to the ever-growing Tom & Chakotay wedding fund that B'Elanna
and Seven were organizing.

Sue would just have to wait for her ring.

It was several hours later that I had a summons to the Captain's
ready room.  I pulled on my uniform in a hurry and arrived there out
of breath and a little nervous. When I was invited in I saw that the
Captain had visitors, two Y'ndorians. One was the shopkeeper.

Suddenly I wondered whether I had mistaken his offer. Perhaps I was
going to be arrested for theft. I was terrified.

"I believe you visited Mr. K'plnk's shop today, Mr. Kim."

"Yes, Ma'am." I stuttered nervously

"It appears that your evident concern for Tom has impressed the
Y'ndorians greatly. Mr. K'plnk is the brother of the Y'ndorian High
Commissioner. This is High Commissioner P'lsnt" The Captain said,
struggling slightly with the pronunciation.

"I'm honored to meet you, Sir" I managed although my mind was racing
with questions.

"It seems that the Y'ndorians have trade relations with a race known
as the V'rakn'hal. It appears this race have superior medical
technology and Commissioner P'lsnt is sure that these V'rakn'hal will
be able to help Tom."

For a moment hope raced through me and then reality struck home.

"With respect, Captain, we've had offers of help on dozens of
occasions. It hardly seems far to Tom to keep dangling hope in front
of him only to snatch it away. The Doctor says that even if we get
home now it will be too late. Tom's spinal cord is dead."

"I know all that, Harry. But this time it's different. High
Commissioner P'lsnt says that one of their patrol ships encountered
the Hirogens. By the time they rescued the ship all but one of the
crew were dead. The survivor had had his spine almost completely
removed from his body as a trophy but by a miracle he was still
alive. The V'rakn'hal managed to cure him and today he is walking."

The implications of the Captain's words hit me like a photon torpedo.
There actually was a chance then. By god, the V'rakn'hal might
actually hold the key to Tom's cure.

"Where are they, Captain?"

"They are approximately 4 days away at warp 6. High Commissioner
P'lsnt has already given the directions to Seven and she is working
out a course. I want you to keep the information to yourself for now.
I am not even going to tell Tom or Chakotay until I have had a chance
to talk to the V'rakn'hal directly.  However, I thought you should
get a chance to thank Mr. K'plnk for his help and I wanted you to
know that it was your meeting with him that gave Tom this chance."

"Thank you Captain, and thank you, Sir, for your help and
generosity." I said to K'plnk, my voice choked with emotion.

The little Y'ndorian, blinked at me kindly "I always seem to make you
cry Harry Kim" he smiled "Bless you for your precious heart. I pray
that your friend is cured."

"Thank you, Sir. I'm praying too."

I wandered back to my quarters in a daze. I was still crying when Sue
came back from her shift.

"Harry, what is it? What's the matter?" She asked, sitting down
beside me and grabbing my hands in her own.

"Nothing, Sue. Nothing's the matter. Everything is wonderful." I
replied, hugging her fiercly

Sue looked into my eyes in obvious confusion but whatever she saw
there must have satisfied her because she just snuggled up into my
lap and nuzzled my neck.

Everything would be fine now, I thought.

I was wrong as usual.