Chakotay replicated another pair
of pajama bottoms for Tom and then
stood hesitantly at the foot of
the bed. It was too soon in their
relationship for this. What
relationship? he mocked. They didn’t
*have* a relationship. All
they’d done is kiss, which had opened up a
whole can of worms. They hadn’t
professed undying love for one
He took a deep breath as he realized
that that was what he wanted to
Profess his undying love for the
pilot. And he would, just as soon as
Tom was well enough to understand
what he said.
With that decided he looked down
at the pajama pants in his hands. It
wasn’t fair to Tom that he was about
to see him in all his splendor
when he couldn’t reciprocate.
He would have to be as clinical as
possible, and definitely *not* stare.
He was dismayed to realize his hands
were shaking, and his pants were
now embarrassingly tight.
He closed his eyes to try and center
but immediately he began to visualize
in slow motion what he was about
to do. He opened his eyes
quickly, berating himself for his lack of
The screen. The first thing
he had to do was pull the privacy screen
around the bed.
“Commander?” The voice startled
him and he turned quickly to see Jean
and Sue standing behind him.
“Would you like us to handle this,
Sir?” Sue asked politely. “Jean and
I have discussed this and we don’t
mind at all. Do we, Jean?”
“No, not at all, Sir,” Jean echoed.
“In fact, we insist. Don’t we,
Chakotay looked down into their
eager faces, both pairs of eyes bright
with anticipation. He shook
his head. “I couldn’t ask that of you.”
“Oh, but it’s the least we can do,”
Jean said hastily. “We noticed you
were having some difficulty in carrying
out the Doctor’s request, and
since we’re happy to do it...”
“*More* than happy,” Sue emphasized.
Chakotay fought the urge to laugh,
but couldn’t stop his grin. “I’m
sure you are. It’s just that
I don’t think Tom would be too
with the idea.”
“He looks a little too out of it
to be bothered,” Jean argued, seeing
their chance slipping away.
“Besides, if the situation was reversed,
he’d do it for us,” Sue added.
“He’s the medical assistant.
“Not to us it isn’t,” Jean said
under her breath.
Chakotay sighed. “Thank you,
Ensigns, but no. I’ll have to do it.”
“Damn!” both Jean and Sue said together.
“Let’s see if we can help the Doc,”
Jean suggested to her friend.
Naomi’s rather upset.”
Sue nodded and they walked over
there, glancing over their shoulders at
Tom, longingly, one last time.
Chakotay hesitated one more time.
He could do this and stay in
He knew he could.
Harry watched the proceedings sourly
and snorted to himself when
Chakotay refused to let Jean and
Sue strip Tom of his pants. What the
hell was the big deal? You
took off his pants, wiped away any cookie
crumbs that happened to have stuck
anywhere, and then put on another
pair for him.
He wondered if the women would offer
to help him in similar
circumstances, and then blushed
as he realized he’d die of
embarrassment if they did.
He had a feeling Tom would feel the same
way, so it was probably a good thing
that Chakotay had said no.
But why the hell was he procrastinating
like this? You’d think he’d be
a little more enthusiastic about
the whole thing... considering.
Didn’t Chakotay *want* to see what
He’d wanted to, that very first
time, and not because he had any
inclinations, but just because he’d
been interested to see how he
measured up, so to speak.
Harry grew impatient as he watched
Chakotay dither. Damn it! If he
cookie crumbs in *his* pants and
was too sick to get rid of them, he’d
sure as hell want something done
about it. Tom was probably getting
chaffed or something. His
concern for his friend grew.
He finished making the bed and then
marched resolutely over to where
Commander was still standing at
the foot of Tom’s bed, playing with the
pants in his hand. There was
a look of almost panic on his face.
was shocked. The Commander
always seemed so stoic and calm and
everything. He honestly couldn’t
see what was causing all this drama.
Undressing Tom meant nothing to
him, and all he could think was that if
a person *was* attracted to Tom,
and had the chance to see what he had,
they’d take it, wouldn’t they?
He watched Chakotay impatiently,
and then reached out to take the pants
>from him. “Let *me* do it,”
he said sharply. “I’m the logical choice
since I’m the only one around here
that’s not in the least bit
interested in oggling Tom’s groin
*or* naked butt.”
Chakotay hissed in his breath, and
both Sue and Jean called out at the
same time, “Harry, shut up!”
“What did he say about Tom’s butt?”
Naomi asked innocently, thankfully
still rather confused.
“Nothing, Sweetie,” Jean said quickly.
“Harry was just being silly.”
The Doctor hurried over to glare
at Harry furiously. “Ensign Kim,
please remember there is a child
present.” He lowered his voice. “I
would just like to state for the
record that I have no interest
whatsoever of staring at Lieutenant
Paris’s groin or butt. I have had
that questionable pleasure in the
Harry turned red. “I didn’t
mean you, Doc.” He squirmed at the look
Chakotay was sending him and realized
he should have been a little more
Chakotay squared his shoulders.
“I’ll see to Tom, thank you, Ensign.”
“Sorry,” Harry said again.
He followed the Doctor over to the others
while Chakotay put up the screen,
and tensed at the looks Jean and Sue
were giving him. “Sorry,”
he mumbled once more.
The tension mounted as the two ensigns
glared back at him silently.
strained atmosphere was broken
by Tom’s voice coming clearly from
behind the screen. “I’m sorry,
Cha, I’d really like to, honestly, but
I’ve got one *hell* of a headache.”
Harry's eyes widened, and both Jean
and Sue formed little O's with
mouths before they all began to
chortle in amusement.
Chakotay took a deep breath and
stoically stepped out from behind the
screen, pushing it back out of the
way. He kept his face averted until
he was quite sure he was composed,
and then turned to look at his
They quickly turned away, Harry
and Sue began fussing over Naomi, and
the Doctor and Jean turned their
attention to Sam.
Chakotay sighed. They weren’t
fooling him for a minute. He’d heard
their laughter. He was sure
he’d laugh about it after too, but right
now he was still too damned uncomfortable.
Tom, his eyes huge in his pale face,
had beseeched him to understand.
“Later, okay?” he’d mumbled deliriously,
adding to the embarrassing
moment. The snickers coming
from the other side of the screen hadn’t
helped either, nor the Doctor’s
huffed, “Please remember the child,
He cleared his throat and the busy
activity stopped. “I have to go to
the bathroom,” he said quietly,
daring any of them to make something of
that. He tried not to flush
at the speculative looks he received.
“Could somebody please keep an eye
on Tom? I won’t be long.”
“I will,” both Jean and Sue cried,
making a dash for Tom’s bed at the
same time. Chakotay’s eyes
widened and he stepped out of the way,
worried he was about to be bowled
over in the headlong rush.
“You take that side, I’ll take this,”
Jean instructed Sue. She glanced
over at Chakotay. “Take your
time, Commander, we have everything under
“I’m sure you do,” Chakotay answered
rather breathlessly. He hurried
away, determined to be as quick
as he could. He didn’t like the way
Ensigns Kofoed and Hayes were looking
at Tom. He didn’t like it at
The rest of the day was a blur to
Tom. He drifted in and out of
consciousness, his breathing labored,
to see somebody hovering over
Most of the time it seemed to be
Chakotay, a worried frown on his face.
The thought of the Commander caring
for him and worrying over him
comforted him somehow and he was
able to relax back into a peaceful
Harry, Jean and Sue took turns helping
the Doctor and Chakotay with Sam
and Tom, and also keeping Naomi
occupied. The little girl was feeling
much better, although not completely
well, and was now bored and
As soon as he had finished his rather
bland dinner, Harry was convinced
he had the first symptoms of the
virus, despite the Doctor’s assurance
that it was still too soon.
Seeing just how ill both Tom and Sam had
been that day had completely unnerved
him and he lay on his bed,
extremely sorry for himself, determined
that if he lived through this
he’d reprogram the Doctor to be
a little more sympathetic. He was
slightly mollified when Jean and
Sue began fussing over him, insisting
he get under the covers and try
to get some rest.
Chakotay watched the three ensigns
with concern. He hoped fervently
that Harry’s illness was only psychosomatic
as the Doctor insisted. He
didn’t think he could handle anyone
else being sick at the moment. Tom
was all he could manage, and if
Harry became sick, Jeanette and Sue
probably would shortly after.
Naomi Wildman was sleeping peacefully,
the Doctor saying she’d be fine
in the morning. Her mother,
Sam, was resting comfortably, although she
still had some way to go before
she was well.
He sighed as he mopped at Tom’s
brow. This virus may not be deadly,
it certainly devastated its victims.
He’d been worried sick about Tom
and still was for that matter.
Most of the time the pilot didn’t seem
to know where he was, or even *who*
he was, although Chakotay was
pleased to notice that Tom *did*
seem to know who *he* was.
Tom kept calling him ‘Cha’, which
touched him deeply. It had been a
long time since anyone had called
him that. It made him feel strangely
sentimental. He wanted to
devote all his time in caring for Tom, but
the Doctor had been called away
for an emergency in sickbay, and he’d
been left in charge.
He was used to responsibility, but
despite the careful instructions the
Doctor had given him, he found the
task rather daunting. He wasn’t a
trained medic, and he didn’t want
any more of his charges to become ill
before the Doctor returned.
He glanced over at Harry’s bed again,
and smiled as he saw Harry lying
on his side watching Tom’s television
set, Jean and Sue perched on the
bed behind him. They certainly
didn’t look ill... yet.
Tucking the blankets firmly around
Tom, Chakotay stood up and went over
to check on Sam. Her temperature
was still elevated, so he wiped a
cloth over her face.
“Thanks,” she mumbled.
“How do you feel now?” he asked
“Weak... groggy... but better than
“That’s good,” he smiled, patting
her arm. “I think you’re over the
worst of it.”
“I hope so, Commander,” she murmured.
“She’s fine. Sound asleep.”
“That’s good.” Sam’s eyes
began to close.
“Is there anything I can get for
“No, thank you, Commander.”
Chakotay patted her arm and walked
over to Harry’s bed. “How are you
A chorus of ‘fine, good, and sick,’
was his answer.
He frowned and went around the bed
to Harry. “What’s the problem?”
“My stomach’s queasy.”
Chakotay ran the tricorder over
him and groaned inwardly. “Your
temperature is a little above normal.”
“I knew I was sick,” Harry moaned.
“It will be a while before you start
to feel really ill,” Chakotay told
him, steeling himself to remain
Harry moaned again.
The Doctor returned to chaos.
Chakotay was running between beds,
looking slightly harassed.
Damp cloths, tricorders, glasses of water,
bowls and bedpans seemed to be everywhere.
“Commander, what is going on here?
It’s the middle of the night.
Everyone should be asleep.”
“Tell that to them,” Chakotay growled.
“You are not allowed to leave
here alone again, Doctor.
That is a direct order.”
The Doctor sniffed. “I’ll
tell that to Ensign Vorik the next time he
attempts to amputate three of his
Chakotay didn’t have time to answer,
almost dropping the bowl he was
carrying in his haste to answer
Harry’s rather gurgled plea.
The Doctor calmly cleaned up the
mess, checked on Tom, Sam and Naomi,
and then went to see what he could
do for Sue and Jean. Chakotay
collapsed on his bed and then jumped
up again to check on Tom.
“You’re going to get sick too, Cha.
Shouldn’t you be resting or
Chakotay smiled down at him.
“For now.” Tom nodded over
towards Harry. “Was I as sick as that?”
“No. Thankfully you didn’t
eat the popcorn or any cookies. You’ve had
trouble breathing and been delirious
most of the day, though.”
“How about you?”
“I’m fine... so far.”
“You look tired.”
“I am. It’s three o’clock
in the morning.”
“How is everyone?”
“Jean and Sue are fine, although
slightly restless. Naomi and Sam are
sleeping peacefully, and Harry is...
well Harry is...”
“Very sorry he ate that popcorn,”
Tom finished for him.
“Not to mention the cookies,” Chakotay
Tom tried to return the smile, but
all he could manage was a grimace.
Tom woke up in the morning feeling
much better. He rolled over and saw
Chakotay lying on the twin bed beside
his, fast asleep.
The Doctor hurried over as soon
as he noticed that Tom was awake. “How
are you feeling, Mr. Paris?”
“A hell of a lot better than I did,”
Tom answered. “How’s Cha? He’s
not sick is he?”
“Cha? Oh! The Commander
is fine, just tired. I’m letting him rest
while he can. I’m afraid the
virus has our three intrepid Ensigns well
in its grasp.” He ran his
tricorder over Tom as he spoke. “Your
readings are much better.
If you rest today you should be able to get
“Can’t I get up now?”
“No, Mr. Paris, you can’t.”
“But... you might need my help with
Harry, Jean and Sue.”
“If you do not rest properly, you’ll
only make yourself ill again. You
forget, I’m a hologram, I can easily
“You can’t be in two places at once,”
Tom argued, his voice sounding a
lot weaker than he’d intended.
He was surprised at just how tired he
was becoming. Perhaps he should
rest after all. His eyes began to
close and he heard the Doc say something
about having to see to Harry.
Tom reached out his hand, wondering
sleepily if he could touch
His fingers grasped Chakotay’s hand,
which was dangling over the side
the bed, and squeezed gently.
He was surprised when Chakotay squeezed
“I thought you were asleep,” he
“I am,” Chakotay replied, just as
soft. “I’m dreaming that the
potential love of my life is holding
Tom closed his eyes and struggled
to find his voice. “Then I must be
dreaming too,” he finally whispered.
Three days later, Harry, Jean and
Sue sat eating their dinner together
in the mess hall. Jean smiled
happily and pointed to the table at the
far end of the room. “Aren’t
they just perfect together?”
Harry sighed and watched Tom and
Chakotay as they ate together,
and joking the whole time.
“They do look good together,” he admitted.
“I don’t know why I didn’t see it
“You didn’t have the benefit of
The Matchmaker’s Guide to Perfect
Coupling,” Sue told him.
Harry snorted. “That thing
was a waste of replicator rations.”
“How can you say that?” Jean asked
in amazement. “It worked, didn’t
“I don’t see how,” Harry argued.
“You didn’t even use any of the 100
guaranteed ways to get them together.”
“Who says we didn’t?” Jean smirked.
“Getting sick and nursing each
other was number 100 on the list.”
“But you didn’t plan that,” Harry
“It still worked,” Sue said, matching
Jean’s smirk. “I’d say that
was a job well done.”
Harry snorted. “That was luck,
pure and simple.”
“Oh?” Jean raised her eyebrows.
“Does that mean you don’t want our
help with B’Elanna?”
“I didn’t say that. I just...
well, it all seems so... oh hell!
Where’s that padd?”
Sue seemed to produce it out of
thin air and the three then bent their
“I get to pick which one I want
to use,” Harry stipulated, trying to
read the list upside down.
“What’s number one?”
Tom glanced over at his friends’
table. “Now, I wonder what they’re up
Chakotay twisted around to see and
then laughed. “You probably don’t
want to know.”
“You may be right.” Tom turned
his attention back to his companion.
“Where were we?”
“You were about to tell me that
you’re a man of your word.”
Chakotay nodded solemnly.
“I seem to remember you making me a promise
“I’m sorry?” Tom looked at
him in confusion.
“Granted, you were rather out of
it at the time, but I’d like to think
you meant it.”
Tom shook his head. “I think
I missed something here.”
Chakotay grinned and stood up.
“Perhaps we should go back to my
quarters and discuss the matter?”
Tom stood up also. “I said
something while I was delirious, didn’t I?”
“It’s a shame you don’t remember
it,” Chakotay winked. “It was a
“You had some memorable moments
yourself,” Tom laughed
good-naturedly and held out his
arm. “Your quarters sound fine to me.
Although, as chief medical assistant,
I’m going to have to insist that
you have an early night.”
“Don’t worry, I intend to be in
bed *very* early,” Chakotay told him
The two men left arm-in-arm, completely
missing the three pairs of
delighted eyes that followed them
all the way to the door.