Disclaimer (well, sort of): Paramount owns Harry, but they don't deserve
him. I'm sorry, I've only watched half of Voyager, but I can't take it
anymore. I like Harry and since Paramount is making him do and say those
really lame, embarrassing things, I'm going to take matters into my own
hands. Be prepared: I intend to take Star Trek canon and twist it and
smash it and stomp on it until Harry no longer makes me cringe. I'm
leaving the rest of Paramount's property intact. Well, sort of. For now,
anyway. ;)

Warning (sort of): For 50K, this story is unfortunately fairly smut-free.
The R rating is for language, a few lusty m/m thoughts, and characters
talking about <gasp!> sex. But weep not, hot sticky messy slashy fucking
is coming soon... well, eventually... ok, *hopefully*... in a sequel near
you.

Summary: First in a (probably) six-part series. Harry gives up hope of
returning to the alpha quadrant, and some interesting revelations follow.

Archiving: ASC/EM, PKSP and the Star Trek Slash Archive. Nowhere else
without permission.

Feedback, oh god, yes, feedback, give it to me, oh, I want it now... I'll
write back, I'll take criticism, I'll do *anything*, just give me what I
need!

Address: julad@bigfoot.com

And huge thanks to Chriss for all her help and encouragement. I know I'm a
hussy, but darling, even if you're not the only one for me, you're the most
important. ;)

************************************************

DISCOVERY (VOY, P/K, R)
copyright julad
January 1998.
************************************************

Part 1/4.

It had been the most gruelling shift of his life, and Tom keyed the code to
his room and stepped inside with a heartfelt sigh of relief. First the
relentless attack by dozens of unknown shuttles, leading to a battle with
two larger starships that had stretched Tom's piloting skill and nerve to
the limit. And just as it was over, and the exhausted crew prepared to
change shift, there was a desperate chase after a possible shortcut home.
When the captain finally declared the opportunity lost, nobody cared who
the attackers had been, or whether the moving anomaly had really been a
wormhole. It was just the end of another really long, weird day in the
delta quadrant. All anyone wanted was to crawl into bed and sleep for a
year.

Tom closed his eyes momentarily and swayed on his feet, trying to decide
between a shower and collapsing into sleep right here in the doorway.
Eventually he realised that he'd been awake so fucking long, another ten
minutes up was worth it for a better rest. It had taken a supreme mental
effort just to make that decision, so the process of undressing was far too
complicated for his exhausted mind. Tom staggered into the bathroom,
touched the control and stepped into the steaming shower fully clothed.

The stinging water pounded into his aching neck and shoulders, washed over
his face and trickled through his hair and down his back. Tom just stood
there, trembling with fatigue, letting it wash away the stickiness and the
sweat, bringing welcome relief from the tension which had tightened his
body into a coil of screaming muscles. Finally he peeled off the sodden
uniform and sat for a long time on the floor of the shower, the heat and
steam working their magic until he was clean, relaxed, and ready for a very
long sleep.

He hadn't bothered drying off, just stepped straight into a pair of
drawstring pants, so he didn't notice Harry through the water dripping in
his eyes. Indeed, he was so tired that even the choking sound in his
otherwise silent quarters didn't really register. It was the movement that
finally caught his attention, Harry's shoulders shaking with silent sobs as
he rocked back and forth in the corner. Tom was there in a second, sleep
forgotten, arms around his friend, and crooning mindless words of comfort.
At the first touch, Harry howled out loud and clutched Tom's shoulders,
pressing his face to Tom's bare chest. His tears were as hot against Tom's
skin as the shower had been.

Bewildered and concerned at this sudden, devastating outburst, Tom gathered
his friend up and carried him to the bed, holding his body as close as he
could, stroking his tangled hair and wiping the tears from his distraught
face. "Shh, Harry, I'm here. I'm here. It's alright, tell me what's
wrong, it's alright, I'm here."

After a while the weeping subsided into exhausted, breathless sobs, and Tom
gently turned Harry's head to look at him. "What's wrong, buddy? What's
the matter?"

Harry's eyes were swollen almost shut, the redness contrasting with his
cheeks, which were alarmingly pale. Tom realised that both of them must be
close to physical collapse by now. He looked at Harry searchingly, but
still barely heard the whispered reply.

"We're not getting home, are we Tom?"

/*Libby*./ Tom sighed and held Harry tightly. This had been a long time
coming, and if anything could have brought it on, it would have been a
shift like today's. "I don't know when we'll get back. Nobody knows. But
no, maybe we are not getting home." He hated saying it to him, even though
it was true.

Harry choked back another sob. "We're dead, aren't we? Back home...
Nobody waits for us anymore."

"They hope, Harry. I know everyone who loves you prays you'll come home.
But it's been three years." Tom knew who his friend wept for, and spoke
very gently. "I can't tell you if she still waits. Maybe she does, you
know. But Harry, do you want to her to put her life on hold that long?"

"No..." And with that hoarse whisper the tears started afresh. Tom held
him close and murmured words of comfort as Harry sobbed his heart out for
the love he was finally letting go.

It was a long time before Harry's grief subsided into silence and then,
exhausted from the gruelling shift and the painful outburst of emotion, he
fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. Tom lay awake a few minutes, still
holding his friend, and then sleep claimed him also.

**************************************************

Thare was the fading remnant of a pleasant dream. There was the sound of
voices and footsteps in the corridor, coming closer and then fading away in
the opposite direction. There was the hum of background noise on the
starship. There was a vaguely familiar scent. There was a warm body next
to him. It was nice.

Tom opened his eyes.

Harry was still sleeping, one arm flung across Tom's chest and his head on
Tom's shoulder. He was still in his sweaty, crumpled uniform, and Tom
smiled indulgently, then sighed. /Poor Harry. What must it be like? I
don't give a flying fuck if we never get home./ But Harry had clung to the
dream of returning to the alpha quad and Libby, and now he was giving up
hope. It was sad, but since they had been stuck here for years now, it
probably had to happen. Tom stroked his face gently, and drew him closer.

/I forgot how nice it is, to just lie with another human by my side,/ Tom
mused idly. He was fully awake now, and refreshed, but he lay in the bed
enjoying the warmth of Harry a while longer. It occurred to him that there
could be gossip, if someone found them together like this, but Tom didn't
really care. He and Harry were such good friends, nobody would seriously
believe any rumours about them.

By now Tom was noticing strange feelings in his stomach, and as soon as he
recognised the hunger he could think of nothing but food. God, he was
famished! He hadn't been able to take a lunch break, and was too tired
after the shift for dinner. And unfortunately, he didn't have enough
rations to replicate half the meal he needed. Dammit. Was it breakfast or
lunch in the mess hall?

"Computer, what time is it?"

"2040 hours"

/*Shit!* How long have I slept?/ Tom thought a minute then realised he'd
lost all track of time since the first alien shuttles had attacked. He
didn't know when he'd finished his shift, or how long he'd sat in the
shower, or how late he'd stayed up with Harry, and had absolutely no idea
what time he'd actually gone to sleep. It was a complete mystery. He
laughed as the urge took him to ask the computer what the date was.

A movement beside him told Tom that his laughter had woken Harry. "What's
funny?" his friend murmured in a drowsy voice.

Tom laughed again. "I can't figure out what day it is."

Harry stretched lazily. He looked much better. "I'm not surprised. I
feel like I've slept for a week, and I bet I could keep on sleeping."

"You okay, Harry?"

Harry grinned ruefully, remembering his outburst. "Yeah, I'm okay. Thanks
for... you know."

Tom gathered him in a huge bear hug. "Yeah, I know. But I did nothing you
haven't done for me before. How do you feel now?"

"Kind of blank, actually. Empty." He sighed, and rested his head on Tom's
shoulder again. "God, I hope she's okay. Someone better be taking good
care of her."

"You'll see her again one day, I know it."

"I know it too. One day." Harry smiled sadly, and Tom held him a while
longer, trying to ignore the insistent demands of his empty stomach. He
only lasted a few minutes.

"Harry, I have some bad news, I'm afraid." Harry looked up, concerned, and
Tom grinned evilly. "I'm so hungry that I'm leaving you for Neelix."

"Oh, *food*!" Harry breathed the word like a revelation. "If you're
leaving me for Neelix, I'm coming too."

The thought of eating propelled Tom into action. He got up and dragged
Harry out behind him. "Go have a shower and change. I'll find out what
day it is and talk to the captain, then we'll go have breakfast. It's
about 2100 hours, by the way, so let's go to Sandrine's after."

Harry laughed at the incongruity of it, and stepped through the door.
"Okay. I won't be long."

Tom stood in the doorway and watched his friend walk along the corridor
towards his room. An Ensign from Engineering walked past, noticed Harry's
dishevelled uniform, and then stared at Tom watching him. Tom went back
inside, snorting at the suspicious disbelief he'd seen on the man's face.

/As *if*!/

Harry was the best friend he'd ever had, they trusted each other
completely. Gods, Harry had just spent hours crying in his arms, and Tom
had held him while they talked and slept. And in a few minutes they would
go to the mess hall together, completely relaxed in each other's company,
closer than ever. They had the perfect friendship, Tom realised. Why
would he want more than this?

*********************************end1/4

Discovery, by julad.
VOY, P/K, R.
Part 2/4.
See part 1 for disclaimer and introduction.

[two weeks later...]

The door swished open and Harry walked into his friend's quarters as Tom
stepped out of the bathroom, hair dripping. Harry was immaculate in
uniform, but Tom only had boxers on.

"Shit, I knew I'd be running late," he muttered. "Where are my pants?"

Harry handed them to him. "Don't worry, you're not very late." He
grinned. "Not much more than usual. Although I *had* wanted a minute to
talk before breakfast."

"Can't let a man get dressed in private, can you?" Tom looked around the
bombsite that passed for his quarters. "Umm, shirt... shirt..." Harry
grabbed it off the back of a chair and held it out.

"Not if a man can't get dressed without help!" Harry teased, and Tom had
the decency to look bashful. He deserved that. He'd overslept shamefully,
and probably *would* be late without help.

"So what's on your mind, Har?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably, and Tom wondered if he was upset about Libby
again. After that first night of crying, Harry had been kind of withdrawn
for a few days. But over the past week and a half, he'd pretty much come
back to normal. Better than normal, actually. He finally seemed happy to
be stuck on Voyager. Content, maybe. Sometimes Tom would catch Harry
smiling at something, or staring at someone, as if seeing for the first
time, and it made him smile too. Tom had put the quick recovery down to
the fact that Harry's lifestyle hadn't changed, his life had continued
exactly as it had for the past three years. Now that Harry was here and
wanted to talk, Tom felt like a fool.

/Only his hope changed,/ Tom cursed his own stupidity. /*Only* his dreams
and his entire plan for the future collapsed into galactic fucking dust./
There was no way that a couple of weeks were long enough to recover from
that kind of change. So Tom replicated two coffees and two croissants, and
gestured Harry to the couch. "Hell, I wasn't going to make it to the Mess
Hall anyway!"

"It doesn't really matter," Harry shrugged. "I just wanted to ask you
something, that's all."

"I'll tell you anything if you tell me where my other boot is." Tom
followed Harry's finger to the offending boot, half covered by a soggy
towel. "Alright, ask away!"

"Errm, it was just that, um, you pay attention to gossip, right?"

"Do I pay attention? *Do I pay attention?* What a stupid question. I am
Voyager's official gossip co-ordinator, as well you know." Tom was
suddenly very curious; this didn't sound like it was about Libby. "Why?
Do you want to know something? Do you want everyone else *not* to know
something?"

"No, I was just thinking, well, I'm kind of single now, aren't I? So I
thought I should find out what I'm getting myself into. You know, who's
available and who I should watch out for and stuff..." Harry trailed off
at the look on Tom's face. The look that said he was pretending not to be
very, very pleased about something.

"Oh, right up my alley, babe. Anything in particular you wanted to know
about? Any *one* in particular perhaps?"

"No*one*, no, so don't get all excited. It's just... Three years is a long
time I guess. I'm not really waiting for someone anymore, am I?" Harry
sighed, and stretched. "I've gotten a bit of a shock. Until now, celibacy
was easy."

"*Easy?* *Celibacy!*" Tom couldn't stop his horror showing. Did the man
have no hormones?

"Well, no," Harry corrected himself ruefully. "*Celibacy* was not easy,
but staying faithful to Libby was." He sipped his coffee, and then
shrugged. "To tell you the truth, celibacy was pretty fucking painful.
Some nights were agony. I needed to screw her so badly it hurt, but I
never wanted to be with anyone but her. No one else really turned me on,
so I never had cause to be unfaithful."

"*Nobody* turned you on?" Tom was again worried about his young friend.
"B'Elanna, Kes, the Delaneys, Nicoletti... *none* of them did it for you?
That can't be true!"

Harry flopped back on the couch and moaned. "Tom, you don't know what it
was like. With me and Libby. The sex, I mean."

"What was it like then?" Tom asked, dubiously. He was expecting some
lovely tale about being faithful and waiting forever. Harry's next words
were a bit of a shock to the system...

"It was *incredible* Tom, it was amazing what she could do to me. She
could take me from zero to orgasm in about two minutes. She could tie me
up and make me come just by talking. She could drag it out all damn night
until I didn't just think I was *going* to die, I thought I *did* die and
was burning in hell or floating in heaven or both." Tom had choked on his
coffee, but Harry didn't notice. "And I couldn't get enough of her, ever.
I could screw her all day and half the next fucking *week* and still want
more. So when I came aboard, there wasn't room in my fantasies for another
woman. I just wanted Libby. No one even came close to turning me on like
she did."

Tom had forgotten the coffee and was staring at his friend in utter shock.
"Shit! How come you never talked about that stuff? I was starting to
think you two never did it at all!"

"Oh, we *did it*, alright." Harry was smiling wickedly, and couldn't
resist teasing Tom while his guard was down. "I just didn't talk about it
because I wanted to keep my reputation intact. Otherwise, what would the
crew think? The two most insatiable sex fiends on board spending all their
spare time together?"

"Us.. What? But... You're not like that!" Tom spluttered.

"Like what, exactly?" The warning in Harry's voice was offset by his
glittering eyes, and a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth. Uh oh.
That was a dangerous look. Forget embarrassing Harry, Tom didn't speak for
fear of making an idiot of *himself*.

Harry started laughing aloud now. "You think I'm not insatiable? Wrong.
That I don't fuck men? Wrong!" Tom's jaw was making slow but steady
progress towards the floor, a rare sight for the normally cocky and
unflappable pilot. That was so unusual that Harry just couldn't help
telling him more. He casually took a bite from his croissant, continuing
with his mouth full.

"Before meeting Libby, I used to... well, experiment, with some of my
friends. Female *and* male. We were just like that, it was fun. You know
that picture I have, the eight of us from the academy? They were great.
Whenever someone felt like doing something, trying something, we only had
to ask. We were best of friends, best of lovers, never got jealous, had
fun all the time. Had absolutely fantastic sex, if we were single and in
the mood. Tried everything we could think of, actually. It was a perfect
arrangement. And when Libby and I got serious, nobody was hurt that I
didn't fool around with them anymore." Harry sighed, lost in memories for
a minute. "Gods, I haven't thought about them in ages. I hope they're all
okay."

It was probably nearly time to start shift, and Tom didn't seem like he was
going to speak anytime soon, so Harry explained his problem. "Well,
anyway, I might as well tell you, by the time we got stuck out here, I'd
been having sex pretty much whenever I wanted since I was seventeen.
Suddenly it's been three years, and I.... I guess I want to know which
crew members are like my academy friends... Who like to fool around but
don't make a *thing* of it. I know I can't get involved with someone yet,
it's too soon."

Tom was wracking his brains, desperately trying to think of something to
say. Words repeatedly failed him. In the end he was saved by his comm
badge.

"Janeway to Paris."

Tom still couldn't get it together. What did he mean, 'tried everything we
could think of'? He'd thought Harry was so nice!

"Kim here. Go ahead." Harry responded for him.

The captain was furious. "We may be 70 lightyears away from Starfleet
regulations, Ensign, but I still expect my officers to answer their own
comm badges. I also expect bridge crew to arrive punctually at staff
meetings."

That broke through Tom's fugue, and he yelped in horror at forgetting the
time.

"We're on our way, captain," Harry informed her, as Tom was already out the
door and sprinting towards the turbolift.

***************************

An hour later, Tom was grinning in surprise. Again. It seemed that Harry
was determined to keep turning his brains inside out until he was a
slobbering imbecile. /Lieutenant Kim,/ he corrected himself dazedly. At
least this time Harry was as stunned as Tom.

For their five minutes tardiness, the captain's reaction had been rather
unsettling. Tom had apparently been taking her tolerance of his laidback
attitude for granted, because he hadn't expected the lengthy reprimand they
got. And in front of the entire senior staff, no less. Tom had really
started to worry when she focused on him, listing the responsibilities of a
lieutenant and the example that he should be setting. He was getting
seriously scared, but then she had turned to Harry and handed him one of
the small pips that meant so much to a member of starfleet. "I hope that
in the future, your behaviour will justify the decision made by Chakotay
and myself, Lieutenant Kim." As Harry stood speechless, Janeway had
dropped the furious expression and cordially invited her officers to dinner
in her quarters that night.

As they moved to their positions on the bridge, Tom turned to grin at Harry
some more, even though his cheeks already ached unbearably. Harry was
still blushing faintly, but looked very, very pleased. Fortunately it was
a fairly mundane shift, because Tom could barely sit still for excitement.
Not only was his best friend now happy to be stuck on Voyager, they had
more in common than Tom had previously thought... and he was a lieutenant!
There were going to be some massive celebrations tonight, Tom predicted,
and fuck the synthahol, he and Harry were going to get incredibly,
seriously, *properly* drunk. Suddenly, there was a lot he wanted to talk
about.

******************************

Tom was almost writhing with anticipation by the time Harry came by his
quarters. At the end of alpha shift, Harry had had to speak with the
captain and Chakotay about his new rank. Unfortunately, that also meant
leaving Tom alone to think and, more importantly, to scheme. But this
time, Tom thought, Harry would go along with his plans willingly. /Or
else!/

The door slid open and Harry entered, looking fairly dazed. Tom grabbed
him, yelling a hundred things at once, then ordered him repeat every word
of his meeting with Janeway and Chakotay.

"I'll tell you what she said about you, Tom," Harry offered.

"Me? Why would she talk about me?"

Harry managed to look humble. "She said now that I'm the same rank as you,
I don't have any excuse for being dragged into trouble with you. She said
from now on, I'm being held equally responsible for any and every piece of
mischief you get up to. Then Chakotay rolled his eyes and told her to get
on with it, and she said we both have tomorrow off because she knows we're
going to need it."

Tom was impressed. "Smart lady, she's right. Now, since you're equally
responsible, do you want to hear what we're going to get up to tonight?"

"There's no time, Tom, we have to get ready for dinner."

"That's what the mischief is about, my friend. I've got you a present."
Tom couldn't quite keep the sly smile from his face.

Harry knew that smile too well. "What is it?" he asked cautiously.

"It's in the bathroom. Go open it. And shut the door behind you. And
Gods, don't look so worried! This is a great day, and it's only going to
get better! I've solved your celibacy problem!" Tom couldn't help another
hug, and then propelled Harry into the bathroom. He listened to the rustle
of wrapping paper, and Harry's low whistle. "Oh, wow, Tom."

"That's what you're wearing to dinner and Sandrine's tonight," Tom
explained. "Put it on, I know it fits perfectly."

There was a few moments silence, but soon Harry burst out laughing. "Oh my
God, are you *serious*?"

"Absolutely! Show me."

Harry stepped out of the bathroom. His wry smile said it all. "Holy
shit," Tom breathed. He had intended Harry to look good, that was the
idea. He hadn't expected his friend to look gorgeous. But the man
standing in the doorway resembled a glamourous holovid star more than his
unassuming friend.
The clothes Tom had replicated were made of an exquisitely soft, thick
fabric he'd seen at a tailor's store on Deep Space Nine. The pants were
black, clinging to Harry's hips and stretching across a flat stomach.
Further down the fabric was a little looser, gently molding to long muscled
legs as Harry walked over to the couch where Tom was seated open-mouthed. A
cherry sheen highlighted the silhouetted figure as the fabric caught light
and reflected it in a different colour.

The shirt was the reverse colouring of the pants, a deep dark red that
gleamed midnight black in the folds and shadows. It was a simple t-shirt
style, also closely fitting, but not everywhere at once. As Harry
shrugged, bemused, the fabric tightened across his chest and for the
briefest second, pecs were perfectly outlined. Tom watched in awe as his
friend turned, gently rippling shoulder muscles apparent, and walked back
to the bathroom. His eyes followed as the shirt clung to the arms Tom
already knew were well defined. It was fascinating to watch. Even though
Tom had seen his friend work out countless times before, the way the fabric
drew attention to first this curve, then that shadow, was utterly
mesmerising.

Harry's polite cough from the bathroom doorway drew Tom back to the task at
hand. "I take it you're pleased with your handiwork?"

"Oh, *very*," Tom grinned. "You look good enough to eat. If you don't get
a dozen propositions before the night is over, why, I'll screw you
myself!" Tom was a little surprised to realise he was only half-joking.
/Well why not,/ he defended himself. /In my academy days I would have
*thrown* myself at something that good looking.../ Thought was lost as he
saw his friend lean over the bathroom sink. The way Harry's pants fitted
his ass left nothing to the imagination. Well, it left a lot to the
imagination, actually. Such as where to touch, where to kiss, where to
bite... Tom rolled his eyes, but couldn't repress a little shiver of
desire. There was no doubt about it, his friend was going to get a lot of
attention when he walked into Sandrine's tonight.

Harry turned around, hair now damp and slightly mussed. A few black
strands fell over his golden skin, highlighting cheekbones and drawing
attention into warm eyes. The half smile on voluptuous lips completed the
transformation from serious crewmember to an amused, relaxed and handsome
man. "Well, I guess I'm as ready as I ever will be, knowing this crew," he
joked sardonically, and all resemblence to serious young Ensign Kim
vanished without a trace. "What are you wearing tonight?"

Tom hadn't even thought about it. "Something good, I think. Can't let you
get *all* the offers!"

"Then allow me," Harry said smugly, moving to the replicator. He tossed
Tom a blue t-shirt similar to his own. "Wear that with your white jeans,
and we'll see who is the most popular." Tom wriggled into the shirt
immediately and looked at himself in the mirror. Unlike Harry's, this
shirt revealed everything about Tom's torso at once. The folds of the
royal blue gave off a silvery sheen, making his eyes glitter like sapphires
in reflection.

"Yippee!" Tom cried, and disappeared into the bathroom. "Replicate our
first drinks for the night, Harry. It's time for some serious fun. Where
has this personality of yours *been* all my life?"

"Alpha quadrant?"

The sarcasm in that reply felt like cold water down Tom's back, killing off
his carefree mood instantly. More than anything, it reminded him of what
his friend had been through in the past three years. Sure they'd had some
bad times here, a lot of them in fact, but that wasn't the point, Tom
suddenly knew.

In alpha quadrant, he thought to himself as he got ready, Harry had had
everything a person his age could want. Family, fiancee, great friends and
a *very* promising career. There, he would have been promoted two years
ago. Here he had friends, sure, but no career prospects and no promise for
the future. This talented man was confined on the one starship with
miserable supplies and no backup, scrounging out survival in the delta
quadrant, when he should be soaring up the ranks of Starfleet and enjoying
the lifestyle and the resources of a successful officer. Tom suddenly
realised what alpha quadrant meant to Harry, and why, until now, his friend
had left this side of himself there. For Tom, delta quadrant was a
merciful escape from his father, his prison sentence and his past. But for
Harry, it was the end of practically everything he'd looked forward to in
life.

It made Tom want to get home tomorrow, and damn his own problems there.
But that wasn't going to happen. All he could do was make Harry enjoy life
on Voyager as much as possible. Starting tonight. This wasn't going to be
just a promotion celebration anymore. Tom decided he would make it Harry's
first real welcome to the delta quadrant. He stepped out of the bathroom
and took the proffered drink.

"A toast, my friend," Tom held his drink up, and looked straight at Harry.
"To you, and to your wonderful future, wherever it takes place." Tom drank
deeply, and after looking at him for a long minute, so did Harry.

**********************************end2/4

Discovery, by julad.
VOY, P/K, R.
Part 3/4.
See part 1 for disclaimers and introduction.

"Want 'nother drink yet?" Tom asked, trying unsuccessfully to sit up in his
chair. Apparently his tolerance for real alcohol had deserted him since
his Marseilles days, because each of his limbs suddenly had a mind of its
own, and they sure weren't listening to him anymore. Tom reached for the
bottle and missed. He made another grab, and missed again. On the third
attempt, he grasped the bottle neck and sighed happily. God, he loved
tequila.

Harry's sides ached unbearably from laughing, and he could only shake his
head in answer and try to get more air. It felt like he'd been laughing
since... since Henley had passed them in the hall on the way to dinner.
Harry had had to admit that Tom looked carefree, sexy and gorgeous in the
blue shirt, and he knew Tom was very pleased with his handiwork on him.
Harry hadn't seen that person in the mirror for many years, and could
barely believe it was him wearing pants as tight as these. He looked
older, too, and his eyes held dark shadows of experience, scars borne of
life in the delta quadrant.

The two men's appearance seemed to shock everyone. Henley's expression as
she looked Harry up and down had slowly changed from disbelief into frank
appreciation, causing Tom to look incredibly smug. "See you at Sandrine's
tonight?" he'd asked with an air of innocence that fooled nobody. Henley
had given a cool "maybe" and strolled off, but Tom turned back and caught
her checking out Harry's butt. She was already in the holodeck with three
of her girlfriends when the two men had arrived.

The reactions of everyone at dinner had been a scream. B'Elanna had licked
her lips and growled, Chakotay averted his eyes, Janeway smiled
indulgently, and Tuvok's eyebrow had shot to his hairline. They'd had a
fantastic time throughout the meal, downing glass after glass of wine and
flirting outrageously with everyone at every opportunity. When the party
moved to an already packed Sandrine's, their high spirits had been
infectious.

Tom reigned over the celebrations from his usual position at the pool
table. He was teasing opponent after opponent mercilessly, until he
literally had an audience surrounding him, just listening to his wisecracks
and cheering on the players. Harry had spent the night dancing, losing
himself in the festive atmosphere, the holoprogram's music, and the company
of anyone who cared to join him. All of his partners were full of
congratulations and somewhat wide-eyed at Harry's appearance, *and* the
fact that he was giving Tom a run for his money in the flirting
department. His style was different though, more calm and mysteriously
seductive than Tom's cynically blatant and self-assured invitations.

Tom was in fine form tonight, first regaling him with stories of old
mischief, then filling him in on every bit of salacious Voyager gossip he¦d
picked up in three years. Somewhere along the line everyone else had left,
either for their shifts or for bed, and by the start of gamma shift, they
were the only two in the holographic bar. As drink after beautiful drink
had annihilated all sense of propriety, Tom had begun making a score of
gross, bizarre and indecent suggestions about how, where, and with whom his
friend should be exploring the options of a single man on Voyager. At the
most recent suggestion, involving Neelix, the mess hall storage cupboards
and that hideous apron, Harry was helplessly convulsing with giggles.
"That's not going to be even remotely funny when we sit down to breakfast
tomorrow," he gasped.

Tom shrugged and rolled his eyes in drunken resignation. "As if we could
face a Neelix breakfast tomorrow anyway. It's bad enough when we're not
hungover. God, those pink blobs and stretchy brown sauce would probably
taste better on the way back up anyway. Give me greasy bacon and eggs so I
can puke like normal people, I say."

Harry's stomach lurched at the memory of today's pink and brown lunch.
"Now you have to pour me another drink," he muttered, "or I'll cry at the
thought of seventy years of that shit."

Tom really was doing his best to get the liquid in the glasses, but he
could barely hold the bottle straight. /At this stage,/ Harry observed
wryly, /that tequila is probably better off on the table than inside me
anyway./ Of course, the sensible part of his brain had left in a huff
after the fourth shot had met the wine from dinner, so he downed the tenth
in a surreal imitation of his usual calm efficiency and asked for another.

"Not yet," Tom waved a blurry finger at him. "You still haven't decided
whose invitation you¦re going to accept tonight. Six offers to choose
from! Can't go making a decision like that under the influence, my boy."

Harry was barely able to see straight, but he had the strongest feeling
that he didn't want to talk about that. Why not, of course, would have to
remain a mystery until he was sober. Instead, he decided to distract Tom
with some grand gestures. He grabbed the bottle and poured another two
shots, handed one to Tom and stood up shakily. "To the fucking delta
quadrant!" he announced, and drained the glass. Tom was finding pretty
much everything to be hysterically funny by now, and he choked on his own
drink then literally fell out of the chair laughing. Harry had just
enough brain cells operating to be vaguely concerned by that, and walked
around the table to see if Tom was all right. Walking was a bit
complicated, as it turned out, because his legs weren't moving quite as
fast as his body was, and the floor was suddenly approaching at warp
speed. He didn't feel a thing as it slammed into his shoulder, he was too
busy wondering who had rotated the ship's gravity.

His friend was now clutching his sides and shrieking in mirth. "You're
even drunker than me!" he howled in triumph.

"I'm three whole drinks more than you drunk," Harry said indignantly.
/That's pretty drunk,/ he watched his friend dazedly, /because Tom's
fucking wasted./ He rolled onto his stomach, then looked down in
surprise. "Where did the floor come from?" he wondered aloud.

"You fell."

"Oh? Oh. Guess I better stay here then," Harry muttered resignedly. "Too
dangerous up there." They lay there a long time, occasionally muttering
words like "leola root" and siezing up laughing again, but eventually
settling into a companionable silence.

After a while Tom leaned in, a conspiratorial gleam in his unfocused eyes.
"So, Harry, what else don't I know about you?"

Harry screwed up his face as he tried to understand Tom's question through
the blizzard of drunken thoughts in his head. That eleventh tequila had
done a lot of damage to his brain, apparently. He finally settled on a
confused "huh?"

"Harry, the whole Voyager thinks you some kind of puppy dog, all cute and
innocent and nice," Tom slurred. "I just found out the 'innocent' bit is
bullshit." Harry made a sexy face and growled, then fell about laughing,
but Tom stubbornly persisted. "So tell me what else there is... you know,
that's wrong, what we think about you."

This time Harry understood, and sighed because he wanted to say something
and couldn't seem to get a sentence started in his head. "Tom!" he wailed,
a plea for help. Then he noticed *again* how drunk he was, and the giggles
resurfaced. "Too drunk to talk." He grimaced and then rolled about
laughing until tears streamed from his eyes.

Tom was torn between his curiosity, and his own alcohol-fuelled inclination
to join Harry in mindless hysterics. He lolled about in indecision for a
while, giving in the occasional drunken snicker, and finally pulled himself
together (well, sort of) and staggered over to the bar. "Sandrine,
Sandrine, mon cherie, I need help." He stepped back slightly at the
quizzical look on his creation's face. The room spun with that tiny step,
and he gripped the bar for support. "I need stuff, you know, sober stuff,
medicine, you know, that stuff... Harry too drunk, can't talk..." The
inclination to giggle finally won over. "Like me!"

He beamed as Sandrine wordlessly held up a bottles of pills. "Knew you had
it! Umm... how many? Don't want sober, just want to talk," he added
sternly as the bartender opened the bottle. She handed him two pills and
two glasses of water, patted his hand with a knowing smile and returned to
her tidying. Tom stood there for a long time, trying hazily to remember if
he had programmed her to be silent and enigmatic. Then he remembered that
he couldn't remember anything because of all that tequila, and finally he
remembered the pills in his hand. He swallowed one, and as his vision
cleared (well, sort of), he made his way to where Harry was still lying on
the floor.

**************************end3/4

Discovery, by julad.
VOY, P/K, R.
Part 4/4.
See part 1 for disclaimers and introduction.

/At least he's stopped laughing,/ Tom smiled indulgently as he rounded the
table, then stopped in his tracks as his eyes fell on Harry. He was
stretched out on his back, eyes half closed, silky black hair falling
everywhere over golden skin, and luscious lips curved ever-so-slightly
upwards. One arm was thrown behind his head, and even the way his fingers
curled was gorgeous. /The picture of sensual abandon/ Tom thought, and
then started at the direction his own thoughts had taken. /Sensual my
*ass*, he's the picture of drunken stupor,/ he corrected firmly, but the
memory of Harry's body in his arms, shaking with sobs, drifted through
Tom's mind as he knelt down.

"Harry," he shook him gently, and then grasped his shoulder to help him sit
up. "Here, swallow this." /And *don't* think about shoulder muscles moving
under my hand just then, and don't even *begin* to think whatever it is you
want to think about Harry swaying slightly and his face turned up and his
neck exposed... Fucking *what*?!?/ Tom suddenly felt like slapping himself
in the face, beating his head on the floor, anything to stop the crazy
thoughts that had started appearing in his own head. What the hell was
going on? Harry was his *best friend*, for chrissakes!

"Hey, what's wrong?" Harry asked, suddenly aware of the pained look on
Tom's face.

"Just considering the relative benefits of staying here on a hard floor, as
opposed to dragging my carcass into a chair," Tom lied easily, then lay
back beside Harry. "Nope, the chair is definitely too high to reach at
this stage."

"I must say that table seems a long way away," Harry admitted, stretching
out beside him. "So I guess you didn't sober me up completely."

"No, sorry Harry, I'm aiming for the perfect balance - drunk enough that
you want to spill your secrets, but *not* so drunk that you can't get the
words out." Tom turned to look at his friend. "So you did want to talk
about something? Do you remember what you were trying to say?"

Harry was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, and Tom could see his
chest rise and then fall as he exhaled deeply. "Yeah... I did want to talk
about something. Two things, actually. The first is not, you know, some
amazing secret, but something that people didn't understand about me,
something I wish they knew." Tom stared at Harry's profile only inches
away, wondering whether to prompt him as he lapsed into silence. Finally
Harry turned his head and looked into his eyes, and Tom felt like a
white-hot bolt of lightning had shot down through his eyes and along his
spine, right to his feet. Harry was beautiful, Tom was drowning in his
dark eyes and his toes were tingling unbearably from the shock he'd had.
/Am I still drunk?/ Tom wondered, his mind spinning through the stars. /Am
I out of my fucking mind? Does it matter that I'm crazy if I just fell in
love with my best friend?/

Harry grinned ruefully, and Tom suddenly remembered where he was and the
conversation he was having. Remembered he had to breathe. "You're going
to hate it," Harry confessed. "It's about me and Libby. *Again*."

Tom sat up, reminding himself that Harry was his friend and wanted to talk,
and gladly pushed his own rather sudden discovery out of his mind. "Don't
be so sure Harry," he joked. "I rather liked the last confession about you
and Libby."

Faint colour stained Harry's cheeks but he continued. "Okay, umm, it's
just that it always bugged me, the image everyone had of me and Libby. Of
us being engaged. Like I'd met a nice girl who liked me, so *of course* I
proposed. Like we were two cute kids staring at each other shyly, and
blushing when we held hands, and giggling nervously at the idea of getting
married and doing *that*."

Tom snorted at the idea, and Harry surprised him, stopped his heart
actually, by breaking into a wicked and very unashamed grin. "OK, so you
know that isn't true, but it was the other stuff that got to me. People
seem to think that we got engaged because we were nice kids and that's what
nice kids do. Like we didn't know what it meant; like we didn't know what
we were doing. But it's not true, we did know, we *chose* a future
together. We had both been in and out of relationships for years, so we
knew love when we found it. What we had wasn't cute, Tom, it wasn't
*sweet*," he said the word like it poisoned him, "it was strong and it was
real and it took my breath away, how much I wanted this woman at my side
forever."

Tom nodded, starting to truly understand why his friend had only recently
given up hope of returning, and Harry continued. "She knew me better than
anyone. She knew my blackest moods and my deepest fears and still loved
me. We did that cute stuff, holding hands and kissing, and it was nice.
We did the sex stuff, and that was fantastic Tom, it was mind-blowing and
it was relentless, but the thing people don't know is that she was my
closest friend, my lifelong companion, my other self. We laughed together
all the time, and talked about everything, *everything*!"

Harry's looked up at Tom, trying to make him realise what Libby had meant
to him. "I would have *died* for her, to save her life. But not the way a
man dies for a girlfriend or crewman or a cause, not nobly or gallantly, or
bravely. I would have died for her *passionately*. Without even
thinking. Like I'd die to save you. That's what people don't know. I
would die for Libby the way I would die for my truest friend."

"You would really die for me?" Tom whispered, disbelieving.

Something in Tom's face made Harry bite back a flippant reply. He answered
with the truth. "Without reservation, Tom."

"Why?" Tom didn't know why this was affecting him so deeply. /Yes I do,/
he corrected himself wryly.

Harry smiled up at Tom, wondering how he didn't know. "There are other
people I would die for, of course. B'Elanna, the Captain, my family... but
you're the only one who means as much to me as Libby did. You..." Harry
trailed off, suddenly wondering exactly why Tom was so important to him.
"I need you. I started needing you when I found myself lightyears from
Libby. I needed a friend so badly, and you were there for me. But before
that, in the beginning, I needed to help you. You were utterly alone, I
saw that. Back then, all I knew was that you were in a lot of trouble, and
that when I was a complete stranger and you thought *I* needed help, you
gave it. So I helped you, and I'm so glad I did, Tom. I couldn't ask for
a truer friend."

/Harry would kill me for thinking this,/ Tom thought fondly, /but that is
the sweetest smile anyone has ever given me!/ Then something occurred to
him.

"Hang on a minute, Harry. Did you just say I *thought* you needed help on
DS9? Are you implying I was *mistaken* in thinking you were totally out of
your depth?"

Harry laughed, somewhat mischievously. "Ermm, well... yes, you were." Tom
opened his mouth indignantly, but no sound came out. Harry continued.
"Well, you never told me off or teased me or anything, so I had no reason
to tell you this, but yes, I knew exactly what I was doing when I was
talking to that Ferengi."

"Bullshit," Tom spluttered in disbelief, and then stopped. That wicked
look in Harry's eyes, the one he had seen so much of recently, reminded him
of every time he had been outwitted by his young friend. Tom realized he
could only roll his eyes and listen to the next amazing Harry revelation.

Seeing Tom's resigned expression, Harry couldn't repress a giggle. This
was so fun, he should have opened up to Tom long ago! "You interrupted me
before I got to the punchline, I'm afraid. I was going to get haggled up
to a ridiculous price for those silly crystals, then change my mind and
tell him he would be better off making his complaint so that in the future,
he wouldn't be insulted by foolish cadets who had been given misleading and
slanderous information about his people. I like to think his reaction
would have been amusing."

Tom smiled wryly at the thought of the Ferengi trying to bargain his way
out of *that* situation.

"Anyway, I guess that's part of the second thing people don't realise about
me, but I want you to know now." Harry looked at him fondly, tolerantly.
"I am really not as green as everyone thinks, you know. Or as sweet,
innocent, and naive." Tom stopped looking wary and started looking
extremely suspicious. His friend gave him a knowing look. "You've seen my
academic record. One is not made chief operations officer on their first
mission for being stupid, my friend. Really, it sometimes disappointed me
that you never figured me out. But I didn't expect you to. It is amazing
how easily people let their guard down when they think they are dealing
with an incredibly naive rookie. Most of the time they don't even know
they've done it."

He was apparently doing a bad job of explaining this, because Tom was
looking at him like he¦d suddenly started speaking in Klingon. "That's
what the innocent act is for, you know. Getting past the barriers people
build around themselves. Sometimes, like with the Ferengi, I want that
guard down for my own preservation, or to see what people say when they
think I won't understand. Stuck in a weird place like the delta quadrant,
it's actually turned out to be a useful cover for when I really *am* naive
and ignorant. Mostly I do it because it's easier to make friends, and help
people get along better. But sometimes," Harry put his hand on Tom's
knee, "I want someone to let me help them."

Tom put his hands on his face and groaned as the truth of it landed on him
like a ton of bricks. Oh fuck. It *was* true, he could see right away.
He knew Harry was always perfectly capable on duty, and utterly dependable
in any crisis. That was the reason for his promotion. Tom had just never
noticed that the naivete was only apparent when the shift was quiet, or
Harry was off-duty.

Tom needed another drink. This was too much for him. /Meet the new
Harry,/ he told himself. Confident, relaxed Lieutenant, recently single.
Devastatingly sexy with incredible depth of character and emotion.
Intelligent. Courageous. Generous. And, it seemed, a streak of
wickedness and a cunning personality that even Thomas Eugene Paris
admired. God, he'd fallen for it himself.

Tom remembered how he had felt during those first weeks on Voyager,
completely isolated in a hostile environment, too terrified of his own
fragile life to even breathe. Suddenly the memories of the years before
Voyager gripped him. Haunted by the ghosts of three people killed by his
one mistake, cast from the only life he'd ever known or expected, torn from
the sky. Finding himself utterly alone, disowned by family, friends,
fiancee. The deliberate downward spiral through the bars of Marseilles,
and the ridicule and contempt of the Maquis when, in a last desperate grasp
at flight and freedom, he'd joined their cause. Getting caught on his
first mission was a blow delivered by the most malign and all-knowing God
imaginable. Nothing could have shamed him more. And in prison, he finally
hit rock bottom, an outcast among outcasts, despised by every despicable
criminal for every moment of his life there. The son of an admiral, the
image of his beautiful mother, a killer, a liar, a Starfleet traitor, a
Maquis traitor, and a failure. Every single inmate had a reason to hate
him, to taunt him, to mock and crush and teach him that he was worse than
nothing, he was the most reviled man ever born.

Then he had been offered a brief journey back into his beautiful stars in
return for another betrayal and one more abandonment to add to all the
others. What the hell, he'd thought, nothing could hurt more than it
already did. Tom had come onto Voyager the most hollow, vacant, alone
person in the world. The facade of a human surrounding an emptiness that
stretched farther than the most desolate expanse of space. He would never,
*ever* have willingly trusted anyone, *never* knowingly let anyone near,
but that totally innocent, charming, friendly ensign won him over within
days.

*A man who'd known exactly what he was doing at the time.* Tom started
trembling at the thought. Harry had found the person inside him and
brought it back, made it think and feel and laugh again. Given him hope,
when hard years had taught him that hopes only got torn to shreds by his
own stupidity. *That*, that resurrection of his own soul, had been
deliberate. /Well, how's that for a surprise, Thomas Eugene Paris?/ Tom
laughed weakly, not knowing what, if anything, was funny.

"Hey," the hand on his knee moved down and tugged gently at his ankle.
"You okay?"

Tom shuddered. "I had no idea, until just now, how much I let myself trust
you. Shit, if you hadn't done it as my friend..."

"You know you can trust me, Tom. I only ever do it as a friend, okay?
That or in self protection against scavenging Ferengi or ravenous Delaney
sisters." He grinned, showing beautiful white teeth, then stood up and
stretched. "Had enough revelations for the night? You want another
drink?"

Tom stared up at his friend, feeling his mind mercifully retreating from
the discoveries of the day. He was transfixed by every detail of Harry's
sensual movement. It was like golden light was pouring off the statue of a
god. It was like golden warmth was pouring inside Tom as he realised how
much he loved his marvellous friend.

"That's okay. My head is already spinning too fast, thanks to you." Tom
murmured, smiling coyly up at Harry, realising his comment could be taken
two ways, and that he meant both of them.

Harry held out his hand and hauled Tom onto his feet. "Maybe we should get
some sleep. Day off tomorrow, we can talk, okay?"

Tom looked down to where his hand still rested in Harry's. The brown
fingers were so warm, so reassuring against his own pale ones. It felt
like they had always been there, holding him all along, like a lifeline to
salvation. /My life must have been upside down before, and now it's the
right way up,/ he thought dizzily. /That's why all this strange weird
crazy stuff feels so normal.../

Harry tugged at Tom's hand, leading him towards the exit, but Tom let go
and stood still and stared at Harry as if for the first time.

"Tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow."

It seemed like a very, very long time since he'd stepped out of the shower
this morning. Tom returned to his quarters in silence, and was grateful
when sleep finally put an end to impossible thinking.

***************************************end4/4

Email

Julad's Hideout