As the door whispered shut behind him, his face still an emotionless
mask, Chakotay spoke in a clear, precise voice into the empty office.
"Computer, initiate sound dampeners on this room. Engage level one
privacy lock. Authority Chakotay 4 alpha."
Then, and only then, did he finally allow his façade of coldness to
Like a glacier thawed by an atomic explosion, Chakotay's expression
instantly melted, the harsh planes of his face disintegrating as
grief and rage ravaged his features until they were barely
His right arm shot out and swept the contents off his desk. Data
padds crashed to the floor, the cacophony of their breaking an eerie
echo of the destruction of his own heart.
"DAMN YOU TO HELL TOM PARIS!" he screamed as he sank to his knees in
the debris, hugging himself as though the pain inside his chest could
be physically contained.
"What the hell happened to you, Tom?" Harry demanded. "And why were
you just sitting here in the dark?"
Responding to Tom's desperate hail, Harry had let himself into Tom's
quarters to find the room in pitch darkness. He had called for
lights, only to find the pilot huddled up in the corner of the couch.
His pale, blotchy face swollen by tears, he was curled in a
protective ball, his right arm cradled to his stomach.
Harry stepped forwards in angry concern, only for Tom to flinch then
sob, as though his own movement had pained him.
It was only then that Harry saw the angry red swelling around Tom's
"What did you do to your arm, Tom?" he asked, even as Tom's miserable
features told their own answer.
"*He* did this, didn't he?" Harry accused.
Tom just turned his head away in shame.
"Fuck Tom. I *told* you not to go see him. Let me look at your arm,"
Tom gingerly extended the swollen limb, wincing with pain as Harry
ran gentle fingers over the hot flesh.
"Why the hell didn't you go to sickbay? It's broken. He's broken your
"I didn't want anyone to know," Tom whispered. "But I can't fix it
myself. I tried but it hurt too much. That's why I called you."
"Oh, yeah, right. Just call good old Harry. He won't tell anyone that
your *boyfriend* beat you up. Harry's always here to pick up the
pieces, isn't he?" Harry snarled, as he picked up Tom's discarded
bone-knitter and began to repair the damage.
"Not that Harry's *advice* is worth listening to, of course," Harry
continued as he worked, tears of his own beginning to run down his
face. "Not that you give a fuck about the fact that Harry is the
*only* person who actually gives a shit about you."
"Please don't, Harry," Tom begged. "Don't cry. I'm sorry."
"You're sorry. Yeah, right Tom. And tomorrow, or the day after you'll
do it again, won't you? You'll keep banging your head against that
brick wall otherwise known as Chakotay, until he either kills you or
breaks your heart."
"Too late for that," Tom whispered.
"I know," Harry answered in a gentler voice.
"He hates me, Harry. He was so cold, he was arctic. He said I was
nothing more than a cheap slut. I told him the truth, Haz. I told him
everything. I even, even told him
I, I loved him."
"Do you, Tom?" Harry demanded suddenly, his face stilling into an
expressionless mask. "Do you *really* love him?"
"I don't know," Tom wailed. "I hate him. I want him. I need him. I
can't breathe without him. He fills my head. His face never leaves
my thoughts. I *ache*, Harry. My whole body aches for him. I can't
think, I can't, oh shit, I don't know what I'm trying to say. He just
consumes me, like fire, and it burns, and it hurts and I hate it, and
I hate him, and I can't live without him. And I'm so angry I want to
explode. Only I'm so sad I want to curl up and die. Is *that* love?"
Tom demanded hysterically.
Harry just gazed at Tom for a long time, his own dark eyes blazing,
then he dropped his face towards his lap.
"Yeah, that's love," Harry whispered, so miserably that it cut
through Tom's own self-pity like a sharp blade.
"Is this what you feel? Is this what I make you feel?" Tom demanded
guiltily, as realisation finally struck him.
Harry gave a choking sob, rising to stride across the room and rest
his forehead on the doorjamb.
"Yeah," he finally replied. "You're my life, Tom. You consume *me*,"
he confessed bitterly.
He suddenly turned to face Tom, who had risen in concern.
"And you know the difference between me and your precious Chakotay?"
Tom just stared at him helplessly, his blue eyes filled with torment.
"I love *you*, Tom. I don't have to fantasize that you fit some
ideal. I love you as you are. I don't care if you lie, or cheat, or
deceive me. I don't expect you to change for me. I don't need you to
fit some pre-ordained ideal."
"Harry, don't," Tom begged.
"Don't what? Tell the truth? That it's killing me to see you break
your heart over him when he doesn't deserve you?"
"You're wrong, Harry. It's me who doesn't deserve *him*. He's a good
man. I lied to him, I used him. And when I realised that I loved him,
it was too late. I've hurt him so much that he'll never forgive me."
"Maybe so," Harry answered. "But that's the difference between me and
Chakotay, Tom. *I'll* always forgive you."
"Shit, Harry. I'm sorry," Tom sobbed. "I'm so sorry."
"Come here," Harry whispered, opening his arms, walking forwards and
enfolding them around Tom's shaking frame.
"Don't feel bad, Tom. It's not your fault. You can't help who you
fall in love with. I should know," he laughed bitterly. "Love's like
a disease, only there's no easy cure. You just get sicker and sicker
until you either get what you want or you give up, or you start to
"Do you hate me, Harry?" Tom asked in a small, frightened voice.
"Yeah, a little, I guess," Harry admitted. "But I love you more. You
get used to the pain. It becomes a part of you. You learn to
compromise, take what you can get, treasure the little things,
pretend the bad things don't happen."
Tom digested his words miserably. His own pain was only bearable
because he knew he deserved it. But what had Harry ever done to
deserve *his* pain? Nothing, except make the same mistake that
Chakotay had done. Fall in love with him, Tom Paris, scum of the
known universe. Except, in the event, Chakotay was obviously smarter
than Harry because he, at least, had eventually wised up.
And that's when Tom knew what he had to do.
"You wanna fuck me, Harry?" he offered tentatively.
"Yeah," Harry laughed ruefully. "You know I do."
"Okay," Tom said.
"You mean it?" Harry asked in complete surprise.
"Yeah," Tom said, wiping at his eyes. "I'd like that."
"Shit, Tom," Harry laughed miserably. "You are such a good liar."
Tom glanced at him nervously.
"Is that a no?" he asked.
"I'm not *that* desperate, Tom," Harry protested. "Talk about a mercy
"Shit, Harry, I didn't mean to -"
"I know what you meant, Tom. And yeah, to tell the truth, I guess I
*am* that desperate," Harry suddenly confessed.
Tom squeezed him tightly, confused by the change of mind.
"I *do* love you, Haz," he said.
"I know, Tom. Just not enough," Harry said.
Tom nodded miserably.
"So you want to come to bed anyway?" Tom asked.
"Sure, Tom," Harry agreed. "I'd like that."
On his hands and knees in the middle of his mattress, his head
hanging between his trembling arms, Tom shuddered as Harry settled
himself between his legs and ran rough, possessive palms over Tom's
thighs and butt.
"Harry," Tom said urgently.
"Oh, yeah baby," Harry purred as he ran his excited fingers down
Tom's flanks, delighted by the way that Tom was trembling with
excitement. He was going to make this so good, so wonderful, that Tom
would forget that he had ever imagined that anyone else could love
him like Harry did.
"HARRY!" Tom almost shouted, as Harry continued to ignore him.
Tom was loath to actually leap up and knock Harry off him, but he
could feel the panic building inside him as Harry prepared to touch
what Tom suddenly knew, with blinding clarity, was Chakotay's alone .
"TOM!" Harry exclaimed back passionately, pushing his slick index
finger between the cleft of Tom's ass cheeks and teasing at the dark
Tom yelped and scrambled up the bed in panic, leaving Harry abandoned
and dumbfounded at its foot.
"Tom?" Harry queried carefully, as Tom crouched at the head of the
bed, his blue eyes swirling with guilty panic.
"Harry, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I made a mistake. A huge mistake,"
"I know you did, Tom, but that's okay. Harry's here now. Harry's
going to take all the pain away. Harry's going to make you feel
better," Harry soothed, beginning to shuffle forwards.
Wild-eyed, Tom saw Harry advancing and for a moment, anger tinged his
panic as he wondered whether Harry was deliberately misunderstanding
him. But the look of complete adoration in Harry's eyes was
Tom felt sick.
This was his own fault. He had offered, he had led Harry on, and now
he couldn't go through with it. He knew how much that hurt now and he
dropped his eyes in shame.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I know I said yes, Haz. But I can't. I
just can't. Please try to understand."
Harry bit his tongue, forcing his immediate wave of angry
disappointment to recede before he responded.
"That's okay. Whatever you want Tom. I don't really mind if you want
to fuck *me* instead," he lied.
"Oh, Shit, Haz," Tom cursed helplessly. "I don't want to fuck you,"
A huge relieved grin broke across Harry's face.
"I'm gonna make you feel SO good, Tom. When you find out what you've
been missing you'll never think about *him* again," Harry promised.
It was too much for Tom. Despite his guilt, the depth of Harry's
misunderstanding was too great to ignore. He scrambled off the bed,
grabbing a sheet and wrapping it around his waist. Then he began to
pace up and down like a caged animal.
"I don't WANT to forget about him, Harry. I LOVE him. I can't do
this. It's wrong," Tom apologised.
Harry's eyes darkened with fury, yet he was careful to keep his voice
soft and sorrowful as he replied.
"He doesn't love *you* though, does he? He hates you Tom. You lied to
him and deceived him, and he hates you. How many of your bones does
he have to break before you realise that he never loved you anyway?"
"Yes he did," Tom sobbed. "He told me he did."
"He thought he loved you because he didn't know you, Tom. Let's face
it, no-one who *really* knows you has ever liked you very much, have
they? They all turn on you in the end. They don't understand you like
I do. They don't *love* you like I do.
"Forget Chakotay, Tom. As far as he's concerned you're just a lying
little slut. But *I* love you. Let me show you how much. Stop wasting
your time chasing after him. He'll never love you like I do, Tom. *No
one* will ever love you like I do."
"I know," Tom muttered, hanging his head in misery.
Harry reached out his hand invitingly.
"Come back to bed, Tom," he purred.
Tom took a tentative step forwards, his eyes almost blank from the
pain of his empty, aching loneliness. Harry's evident adoration
almost unmanned him. For a fleeting moment he asked himself why the
hell he was even hesitating.
He loved Harry, kind of. Harry was sweet, attractive, fun. Harry was
honest and good. And Harry loved him. Loved the *real* him. Harry
didn't judge him or hurt him or confuse him. Harry didn't make him
burn in the pitiless flames of passion, and surely he had been singed
enough for a lifetime.
And yet, he couldn't do it.
He froze still a step away from Harry's inviting hand.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I think, um, I think it would be best if you left
Harry, who was now perched on the end of the bed, his cock rearing in
eager anticipation, gave an almost comical jerk of outraged shock.
"Leave?" he choked. "You want me to LEAVE?"
Tom swallowed nervously.
"Yeah," he muttered guiltily.
Rage swept through Harry, bubbling just under the surface of his skin
like pressurised lava.
Not rage at Tom, of course. He didn't blame Tom for his confusion.
He'd *never* blamed Tom for any of his affairs.
To be perfectly honest, Harry didn't think Tom was responsible for
any of his actions. For an intelligent man, Tom was one hell of a
bimbo, in Harry's opinion. Tom had brains, but not one iota of plain
common sense. He was immature and naïve. He lived in an emotional
fantasy world and was incapable of seeing the woods for the trees.
That Tom could stand there in front of his own devotion and still
insist on being faithful to a man who wouldn't piss on him if he were
on fire, proved that to Harry beyond doubt.
So although he'd never planned to do it, and he knew that Tom would
be upset at first, Harry decided that for Tom's own good he was going
to have to take off his kid-gloves and put his foot down before Tom
really made a mess of his life.
"I'm not going anywhere, Tom," he drawled.
Tom jerked in shock. A nervous smile played around his lips as he
took in the completely alien expression of vindictiveness on Harry's
"I said -" Tom began.
"I don't give a fuck what you said," Harry replied, his words all the
more chilling for their quiet calmness. "Stop pissing about and get
your ass back in this fucking bed."
For a moment, Tom's features were frozen in complete shock, then his
cheeks blazed with color and his eyes narrowed into furious slits.
"Get the fuck out of here, Harry, before I say something I'll regret."
Harry just shrugged casually.
"Sure Tom, if that's what you want. I'll go."
He waited until Tom's shoulders slumped in relief before he continued.
"I should have reported Chakotay's assault on you immediately,
"What?" Tom demanded.
"Chakotay's assault. First Officers can't go around breaking people's
wrists, Tom. Whatever the provocation. He's a dangerous man. First
your jaw, then your arm, god only knows what he'll do next. The
sooner he's in the brig, the safer we will all be."
"You can't, Harry," Tom gasped in horror.
Harry just smiled sweetly.
"But I can't leave you alone, knowing you aren't safe, can I? If you
want me to go, then fine, I'll leave. The last thing I want to do is
upset you. But I'm not risking anything happening to you while I'm
"You *can't* report him, Harry. He'd just say *why* he hit me, and
then everyone would know what I did. I'd end up in the brig. Is that
what you want?" Tom said desperately.
"Of course not, Tom. Chakotay wouldn't dare say what you did to him.
He'd be the laughing stock of the ship, wouldn't he? I mean, between
Tuvok and Seska both turning out to be spies, the way you and the
Captain showed him up when you were looking for the traitor, then the
way the Captain pretended to be all over him then ended up with Tuvok
and now you turning out to have used him all along, he wouldn't dare
show his face out of his quarters ever again. No one will blame YOU
Tom. They'll just say it was his own fault for being such a fool.
"This last week since people have realised you aren't together
anymore there's been a queue of people at his door. No one ever
really saw him as a sexual person before, but since he apparently
managed to keep *you* satisfied for so long, everyone wants a taste
of him. He's terrified people will find out the truth. He won't dare
admit *why* he hurt you."
"Don't you remember how embarrassed he was after you flushed out
Jonas and then told the whole crew what a dupe he'd been?" Harry
"Yeah," Tom whispered brokenly.
"So you know I'm right, don't you? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if
he just got off Voyager on the next inhabitable planet. There's only
just so much humiliation a man can face, Tom," Harry continued sadly.
"You can't tell anyone what I did, Harry. So you can't tell anyone
what *he* did, either," Tom begged.
Harry considered thoughtfully.
"I don't know Tom. I can't trust you, can I, babe? You don't know
what's best for you. I'd never forgive myself if he hurt you again."
"He won't hurt me , Harry, I swear," Tom insisted.
"Well, he wouldn't if you stayed away from him," Harry agreed. "But I
can't trust you to do that, can I?"
"Yes you can," Tom promised desperately.
"I can't Tom. If you love him as much as you *say* you love him, you
won't be able to leave him alone."
"Maybe I don't really love him, maybe I'm confused," Tom argued.
Harry smiled encouragingly, then let his face fall again.
"I don't believe you Tom. We're best friends. I know you'd hardly
hurt *me* like this if you weren't still confused about your feelings
for him. So I can't possibly just let you carry on making the same
"Unless?" Tom repeated hopefully,
"Unless you're just playing with me?" Harry suggested. "Yeah, this
was a joke, right? You're only pretending you want me to leave?"
Although the abject misery on Tom's pale face hurt him and he wanted
to shiver in sympathy with the uncertain trembles that rippled
through Tom's slim frame, Harry almost punched the air in triumph
when Tom finally dipped his eyes and whispered.
"Sure, Haz. I was just joking."
"So, you really DO want me to fuck you, honey?" Harry demanded.
Tom's defeated "Yeah," was the sweetest sound that Harry had ever