Tom pulled the screen around his bed after haphazardly throwing his
things in the cupboard provided. He’d brought a holodeck program he’d
been working on and a book to read. He didn’t feel like looking at
either one of them he decided as he changed into the blue sickbay
pajamas. At least he had company.
He wondered what they could do to help pass the time over the next
couple of days and then smiled brightly. Of course!
In no time at all the four of them were firmly ensconced in front of
Tom’s television set, B’Elanna transporting it in at his request; a
huge bowl of popcorn settled on the bed between them as they watched in
The Doctor just rolled his eyes in disapproval, but Chakotay continued
to sneak glances at the four, his longing to join them obvious.
He looked over once more as Harry began spluttering in indignation.
“Harry, it’s called an ad. B’Elanna programmed them in so that it’d be
more authentic,” Tom said patiently.
“But, I don’t understand,” Harry said perplexed, getting over his
frustration at the interruption of the program. “Was that women just
standing around waiting for that guy to get shot so that she could
doing that funny little dance? And where does the music come from?
Why is she talking about disinfectant when there’s been a murder? Talk
about getting your priorities screwed.”
“Harry, the ads don’t have anything to do with the program.”
“Yeah, Harry,” Sue said. “Don’t you understand? She doesn’t even know
there’s been a murder. She’s somewhere else entirely... cleaning the
floor. I think.”
“What I want to know is what they’re doing in the middle of the
program,” Harry said puzzled. “These ads are really weird.”
“I can’t believe anyone would clean a floor like that,” Jean added.
“Although it does look like fun. And just look at how that side of the
room sparkles compared to that side.”
“I still say it’s weird,” Harry grumbled. “All this dancing and music
when there’s a dead guy lying in the middle of a street somewhere.”
Tom sighed. “You’re missing the point.”
“What *is* the point? What were these ads for?”
“I don’t know,” Tom admitted, pushing away the queasiness the smell of
the popcorn was causing. They all sat forward eagerly as the next one
Chakotay craned his neck to see. He wasn’t sure what he was looking
There were two strange creatures talking. They resembled a drawing.
One red, the other yellow. They had the letter ‘m’ printed on their
“That’s exactly what I feel like,” Jean declared. “Some chocolate.
Those 'm&m’s' sound nice.”
“Peanut ones,” Harry agreed.
“May I just remind you all,” the Doctor harrumphed. “You should all be
very careful what you eat. I can’t allow you to have chocolate.”
Three people groaned. Tom didn’t join in. The thought of eating
chocolate was doing all sorts of things to his stomach. He wished the
Doctor would ban the popcorn too. It was really starting to get to
“You’ll thank me afterwards,” the Doctor said loftily.
Tom stood up quickly and made his way to the bathroom as nonchalantly
as he could. “Won’t be long,” he said, hoping his voice wouldn’t
“Don’t you want to see this ad, Tom?” Harry asked. “It’s all about a
dog that can project his thoughts into writing. You can read it in a
bubble sort of thing that’s above his head.”
“No, that’s okay. You’re supposed to go to the bathroom when the ads
“I wish you’d told me that before,” Harry grumbled, as Jean and Sue
groaned and raced for the other bathroom.
“You don’t have to go,” Tom protested.
Harry sighed and sat back down again. “That’s good. I don’t want to
Tom hastily splashed some water onto his face and took a couple of deep
breaths. He was not going to be sick, he told himself firmly. Now all
he had to do was convince his stomach.
“Hey, guys,” he heard Harry call. “The television’s found that dead
guy again. You’d better hurry up or you’ll miss what’s happening.”
Chakotay grinned and made his way over to Harry. “Can you keep it down
to a low roar, Harry? There are people trying to sleep.”
“Sorry,” Harry said sheepishly. “The Doc’s not going to take the
television away, is he?”
“He wants to, but I told him you’d all be quiet. He *is* confiscating
the popcorn however.” Chakotay picked up the bowl as he spoke and went
over to the replicator.
Jean and Sue hurried back to the bed. “What’d we miss?”
“Not much,” Harry told them as they settled back on the bed beside him.
He lowered his voice. “We have to be quiet or the Doc will take it
away. He’s already banished the popcorn.”
“Damn!” said Jean. “There’s something about watching this thing that
makes you hungry.”
“Don’t worry. I hid some cookies under Tom’s bed,” Harry said smugly.
He made sure the Doctor wasn’t watching, and then pulled them out.
“Try not to let the Doc see.”
“Do you have any choc chip?” Sue asked hopefully.
“Yep. I’ve got oatmeal and peanut crunch too.”
“A veritable feast,” Jean laughed, grabbing a choc chip and biting into
it before the Doctor could turn around. “I hope Tom’s all right. He’s
been in the bathroom a long time.”
“Maybe I should go and check,” Harry said reluctantly.
“No, let’s get Chakotay to,” Sue said with a grin. She raised her
voice. “Excuse me, Commander. We’re rather worried about Tom. He’s
still in the bathroom.”
Chakotay frowned, but it was the Doctor who answered. “I’ll see to
Sue sighed and shrugged . It had been worth a try.
Chakotay stood by the bed. “What are you watching? And does the
Doctor know you’re eating cookies?”
“It’s a murder mystery,” Jean told him. “And, no, the Doctor doesn’t
know we’re eating these. We’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell him,
Chakotay smiled, showing her his dimples. “Only if you let me have one
of those oatmeal ones.”
He perched on the bed beside her. “I may as well join you. There’s
nothing I can do while Sam and Naomi are sleeping anyway.”
Harry tried not to groan as he noticed the way Jean and Sue started to
fawn all over the Commander. Damn it all! Why didn’t they act that
way with him? He was just as good-looking as Chakotay, and he’d been
told his smile was pretty damn special too. Okay, so the Commander had
that whole, sexy, mystic warrior thing, but still!!!!
What was it about Tom and Chakotay that had them so besotted?
The cookie in his hand crumbled and he brushed it away impatiently.
The Doctor and Tom emerged from the bathroom and he quickly stuffed the
cookie bags under Tom’s blanket.
“Is everything all right?” Chakotay asked.
“I’m fine,” Tom insisted.
“Your temperature has elevated and there is a decidedly glassy look to
“Cut it out, Doc. I feel fine. How many times do I have to say it?”
Chakotay made room for Tom on the bed. “You do look rather flushed.”
“That’s because I’m annoyed,” Tom said bitterly. “If I’m sick I’ll
tell you, okay, Doc?”
“Keep an eye on him,” the Doctor told Chakotay, ignoring Tom’s words.
“Ensign Wildman appears to be sleeping peacefully for now.”
Harry smiled in delight at this news. “Sam wasn’t too bad, was she? I
mean, she was just a little restless, and except for that one gagging
incident she wasn’t that sick at all.”
“I didn’t say she was over it, Ensign,” the Doctor said dryly, dashing
Harry’s hopes. “And you also did not see her early hours this
“Doctor, I’m hot,” Naomi called out, sitting up in bed. “And thirsty.”
“Coming, child. Please call me if you need me, Commander.”
Harry glanced over at his friend as they all settled to watch the rest
of the program. Despite Tom’s insistence that he felt fine, he didn’t
Harry fought down the panic. Tom was probably just a little flushed.
He wasn’t really sick. He’d say if he was. If Tom didn’t get too
then his own chances of getting sick went down considerably. And,
after all, he’d only shared some of Tom’s pizza, that’s all. It wasn’t
like he’d kissed the guy, or even hugged him for that matter.
He knew he was infected, but *how* infected could he be?
That thought made him wonder about the Commander again. Just what had
happened to cause him to become infected? He couldn’t imagine them
sharing a bite to eat in sickbay, so that left only one thing.
He tried to imagine Chakotay giving Tom an affectionate hug and peck on
the cheek. He couldn’t picture it and the whole idea was absurd
Why would he?
So that meant Chakotay had kissed Tom properly. If that were so, then
Jean and Sue were right. There *was* something going on with them.
He eyed the two closely from his vantage point at the head of the bed.
They were sitting, watching the screen avidly, shoulders touching,
relaxed against one another. They looked good together, Harry
Like they belonged.
More gunshots from the television had him whipping his head around to
see, and for a while he was lost in the program.
Sue looked over her shoulder. “Harry, the Doc’s not watching. Hand
over some more of those cookies,” she whispered.
They all munched happily, except for Tom, who insisted he wasn’t
His voice was rather high-pitched and Chakotay glanced at him in
concern. Tom was definitely more flushed than before.
“Tom,” he whispered into his ear so that the others wouldn’t hear. “I
know you’re not well. I think I should tell the Doctor.”
“No!” Tom turned and hissed into his ear in return. “I don’t want to
give in to this thing. If you tell the Doc, he’ll make me lie down and
then I really *will* be sick.”
Chakotay sighed. “I don’t think you’re going to have any say in the
matter. How about if you lean against me for now? I’ll have to let
Doctor know if you get any worse, okay?”
Tom nodded and waited while he adjusted into a more comfortable
and then relaxed back. Chakotay, without thinking, kissed the top of
Tom’s head and wrapped his arms around him. “Better?”
Tom nodded again and tried to concentrate on the television. He
actually felt a lot worse than he’d let on, but there was something
about the way he was being held that made him want to forget about
everything else. He sighed in contentment and closed his eyes.
Neither man noticed the incredulous stare coming from the top of the
Harry had seen movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to
investigate. He was surprised to see Chakotay apparently nuzzling
ear, and then Tom turn to reciprocate. His eyes opened even wider as
Tom settled back into Chakotay’s arms. Harry forgot to breathe when
Chakotay kissed the top of Tom’s head.
He nudged Sue, who turned to see what he was staring at and then poked
Jean. Jean swiveled around to see what was happening right beside her
that had her two friends so entranced, and smiled in delight.
Chakotay finally noticed the attention and felt his face grow warm. He
then shrugged mentally. He intended pursuing Tom openly once all this
was over anyway, so what did it matter if he let Tom’s friends know how
He returned their smiles. “Tom’s not feeling all that good,” he said
Harry’s smile faded. “Should I call the Doc over?”
“Tom doesn’t want to yet. He seems to think if he doesn’t acknowledge
he’s sick, he won’t get any worse.”
Harry swallowed nervously. He didn’t want Tom to get any sicker. He
was worried about his friend, but he was also worried about himself.
The sicker Tom become, the sicker he would probably be too. Damn it!
And damn Neelix and his stupid virus that had hardly affected him at
all! Gods, how he wished he was Talaxian too!
He shook his head. That was a weird thought. He didn’t really want to
be a Talaxian. He must be delirious or something!!! He groaned
“I think I’m getting sick too.”
The Doctor harrumphed behind him, making him jump. “That’s not
possible. According to my calculations, Ensign, you were infected a
good twenty hours after Mr. Paris. It will be some time before you
start feeling the effects.”
“Everybody’s different,” Harry insisted. “I’m very susceptible to
infection. I think you should give me something, just in case.”
The Doctor sniffed. “And what do you propose I give you?”
“I don’t know. You’re the Doc. Something to stop me from vomiting for
absolute certainty, and I think I must have a temperature, so something
for that too.”
“I have already explained to you, Mr. Kim, that I can’t stop the
symptoms, only try to alleviate them as best I can. Unfortunately my
success with Ensign Wildman has been limited. As for you; you do not
have any symptoms. So giving you something would be rather pointless.”
Harry started to protest, but the Doctor cut him off. “If you’ll
excuse me, I have a patient to attend to.”
He walked around to stand in front of Tom, and waved his tricorder over
him. “Mr. Paris, are you nauseous?” he asked quietly.
“I’m okay,” Tom mumbled, trying very hard not to prove the exact
The Doctor made a tutting sound. “You’re a very stubborn individual,
Mr. Paris. I won’t hold that against you, however.” He placed a
hypospray against Tom’s neck. “This should help a little.”
“Thanks,” Tom said gratefully as the nausea faded.
“Commander, if you get tired of propping the Lieutenant up, or he
becomes worse, I’m going to have to insist he lie down. Is that
“Of course, Doctor.”
“Very well. I’ll be right over there if you need me.”
Chakotay could feel Tom gradually worsen. He was now leaning against
him heavily, his body hot and sweaty. Although he enjoyed holding Tom
so closely, Chakotay began to worry. “Tom, you’re going to have to
get into bed,” he said reluctantly.
Tom didn’t even protest, and Chakotay sighed with relief. “Everyone
the bed,” he ordered. “Tom has to lie down.”
Harry, Jean and Sue all watched Tom with concern as he climbed groggily
into bed and settled between the sheets. Gods, he looked awful! They
couldn’t help smiling a little at the way Chakotay was fussing over him
as he tucked him in.
Tom wriggled around in the bed, trying to get comfortable and then
turned over. He started wriggling again and then sat up rather
“What the hell?”
“What is it, Tom? What’s wrong?” Chakotay asked in concern.
“There are cookie crumbs in my bed,” Tom said rather flatly.
“I don’t want there to be cookie crumbs in my bed.” Tom’s voice rose
Chakotay frowned. “Let me see.”
“They’re uncomfortable.” Tom’s voice became shrill. “Who put cookie
crumbs in my bed?”
“We did,” Jean confessed. “We’re terribly sorry, Tom. We didn’t mean
“We’ll help get them out,” Sue offered.
Harry started brushing vigorously at Tom’s sheet. “I didn’t think
“Harry! You’re making it worse,” Tom cried out. “They’re multiplying
and… and growing. They’re getting bigger.” Tom’s eyes were huge, the
pupils dilated. “They’re like little... little bits of cookie.”
“That’s what they are,” Harry said reasonably, hoping he wouldn’t act
crazy when *his* temperature decided to skyrocket the way Tom’s was.
“Chakotay, save me,” Tom panicked. “They’re going to get me.”
“Yes, Commander,” the Doctor called out, coming over to join them and
see what the commotion was all about. “Please save Mr. Paris by
him in the spare bed next to yours.” He turned to Harry, Jean and Sue.
“The three of you can change this bed in case anyone else is beamed in.
First, however, I’d like an explanation on why there are cookie crumbs
in Mr. Paris’s bed, when I’ve already stressed the importance of a
All three blushed. “It’s my fault,” Harry said finally. “I snuck the
“We’re terribly sorry,” Jean whispered, for the second time in as many
“You all will be,” the Doctor prophesized darkly.
Chakotay smiled at the Doctor’s remark as he helped Tom into bed once
more. Thankfully, he’d only eaten three of the oatmeal cookies and
should be fully digested before he became ill. He decided to be very
careful what he ate over the next twenty-four hours.
“I think I got cookie crumbs in my pants,” Tom said suddenly,
to sit up again. “Do you want to see?”
Chakotay cleared his throat, visions swimming before his eyes. “I
think that’s necessary.”
“Yes, it is. I have to get them out. They might go up my… you know,
if I don’t.”
Chakotay heard smothered giggles behind him. The others could hear
every word, of course. It was probably just the fever talking, he told
himself, but if Tom *did* have crumbs in his pants, he really should do
something about it. They would be very irritating. The thought of
fishing around in Tom’s pants caused a tightening in his own.
Stop that, he told himself sternly. You’re here as a care provider.
Tom needs your help, not your lust.
“I suggest you help Mr. Paris change into a fresh pair of pajama
bottoms,” the Doctor said, standing right behind him. There was an
smirk on his face that only Chakotay could see. He pressed another
hypospray into Tom’s neck. “This should help him to sleep. However,
it will also leave him too weak to manage on his own.”
“Couldn’t you have waited and given that to him after he’d changed
“Why, I suppose I could have,” the Doctor answered airily. He smirked
The smirk was wiped from his face as Naomi sat up in bed and began to
wail. “I’m going to be sick.”
“The bowl, Ms. Wildman,” he urged, racing over there. “Use the bowl.”
Chakotay grimaced and turned back to Tom. Spirits! How was he going
to handle this? He wasn’t a trained nurse. He had no idea how to
remain detached from what he was about to do.
Spirits help him! This wasn’t the way he’d pictured seeing Tom for the