Part 5
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.  It’s different.”
“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 Tom packaged?
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 past.”
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
tactful.  “Sorry.”
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
interested audience.
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 softly.
“Weak... groggy... but better than before.”
“That’s good,” he smiled, patting her arm.  “I think you’re over the
worst of it.”
“I hope so, Commander,” she murmured.  “How’s Naomi?”
“She’s fine.  Sound asleep.”
“That’s good.”  Sam’s eyes began to close.
“Is there anything I can get for you?”
“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 calm.
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 fingers.”
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.  “You’re lucid.”
“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 smiled.
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
up later.”
“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 cope.”
“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 said softly.
“I am,” Chakotay replied, just as soft.  “I’m dreaming that the
potential love of my life is holding my hand.”
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 for myself.”
“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 protested.
“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
heads together.
“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.”
“I was?”
Chakotay nodded solemnly.  “I seem to remember you making me a promise
of ‘later’.”
“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
memorable moment.”
“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.
The End.
July 2001