Chute To The Heart

Author’s Note: This is a standalone fan fiction I wrote after watching the episode “The Chute”. Harry and Tom share a romantic moment together and, because of this, Harry leaves forever changed.

 

Counselor Deanna Troi looked up from the folded hands in her lap, already showing signs of human aging, with a soft sigh. She had been seeing Harry Kim since his return from the Voyager expedition. It was a personal favor from Admiral Janeway, who had noticed recently that Kim did not seem to be adapting to life back on Earth the way the others had. Somewhere, deep inside, Janeway had sensed that Harry was hiding a secret from his family on the Voyager. With the ship now temporarily retired and the crew successfully back on Earth, life was supposed to return to normal. Sadly, as Troi noticed, Harry was not adapting.

This was his fourth session and it had been just as superficial as the three prior to it. They had gone back to the third year of his mission in the Delta Quadrant, briefly touching on his mistaken arrest in the wake of a terrorist bombing. Tom Paris – his closest friend on Voyager – had been with him at the time of arrest and followed him through what was called “The Chute”.¬† Troi sensed his anxiety as he strained to carefully brush over pieces in the story. Something was missing, that much she could tell. As she now looked at Harry, it was clear that today’s session would be different. They would be revisiting that incident of the floating prison to reach some form of understanding that Harry had spent years denying himself of.

Clearing her throat, she offered him a smile, “How did you feel when your friend, Mr. Paris, struck you to conform with the others?”
Harry’s eyes widened, “Angry, of course. I thought he’d reverted back to his days on the penal colony and would forget how close we were.”
“Just how close were the two of you prior to that arrest?”
“Very close”, he looked down to his own hands before continuing, “probably closer than many others on the Voyager had the chance to be. It was unexplored space, we were scared…everything was so new.”
Troi raised an eyebrow, “When you say very close….”
“I mean very…very…close.”
“Like brothers?”
Harry sighed as he slapped his knees, “I think, if you promise me confidentiality, I can tell you the full story of what happened when I went down the chute.”

 

They had formed a plan to escape the prison and prove their innocence. Surely, Captain Janeway would be just as eager to see them return to the ship and resume their normal posts. With a little careful planning, they had decided to build a device that would manipulate the frequency emitted from the chute. Once the force field was disabled, they could climb up and surprise whatever guards waited on the other side. It was a solid plan, and with a sore jaw, Harry got to work on the device. Tom, who kept calm despite the circumstances, set himself to building the two a small place to stay for the time being. Despite the temporary sentence, they would need a place to safely rest every night. In the shadows there loomed many who were starving and ready to kill if they had to. Tom didn’t want to see his best friend unguarded as he slaved away over their saving device.

When night fell, or rather what they assumed must be night time, Harry gave up on the device and shared a meager ration with his friend. The two sat close together to enjoy their mutual body heat. For a moment, Harry felt as if Tom were his great protector, or knight in shining armor, ready to do anything to keep them safe. A blush came over him as if he were a school boy caught in a daydream. They were both fully grown men with obligations…there was no room for fantasies. Was it a fantasy? Tom looked at him in a way that seemed to penetrate the generic term of “friend”. Deciding not to put much effort into deeper interpretation, Harry turned his back and quickly finished his ration. Before going to bed, Tom embraced him briefly and exhaled. It could be a long sentence, and they may never be found innocent. Things may have to change…they may have to adapt.

The next morning, Harry awoke from a confusing dream. In it, Tom Paris was riding a white steed and branding an old-fashioned sword. He wore his Starfleet uniform despite the dated background around them, the communications badge shimmering in the sunlight. Harry was in a large meadow, smelling of the most beautiful flowers he had ever seen, feeling the soft grass beneath his bare feet. Also in his uniform, Harry felt confidence return to him. As Tom’s white stallion got closer and closer, Harry outstretched his arm. The sword was dropped and Tom flew into his arms, where they embraced each other tightly. Their lips brushed and then…Harry was shaken awake. He sat upright and bumped his body against Tom’s. A flush went into his cheeks as his best friend looked at him curiously. Could he guess what Harry had been dreaming? Deciding he couldn’t, and glad that Tom wasn’t a Betazoid, Harry went back to work on his device.

What Harry didn’t know, however, was the dream that his dear friend Tom had as they slept next to each other the previous night in their make-shift bed. Much like the dated clich√© that was Harry’s own nighttime fantasy, Tom’s took place in the trenches of a 20th century war. Perhaps it was the first world war, though the artifacts around them seemed to lean on the idea that it was the second. Who could keep track with the many wars of Earth? Tom was wearing a dark uniform he could not recognize, and shouldered a gun as he walked next to Harry. His shorter friend was chatting happily, moving his hands as he spoke, more animated than Tom had ever seen. Not being able to resist the urge, Tom pushed Harry into a tree and locked his lips against his own. For a moment, their lips remained pressed together in a deep expression of emotion. When Tom moved back, Harry yanked him forward for more. The sound of small commotion outside of their hut had jolted Tom from his own dream. That was when he shook his friend awake.

For the first half of the day, neither spoke to each other about anything of relevance. They were bent on escaping regardless of the costs. As Harry worked on the device to disable the chute’s force field, and Tom scavenged for useful items around the prison, their eyes rarely met. Were they aware of some deeper feelings for one another that they could not express in words? Was it so shameful in the 25th century for a man to love another man in a romantic fashion? They were a progressive civilization! The fear of their love was not what held them back, however. Back on Earth, Harry had a girlfriend and Tom had obligations. With the Delta Quadrant offering dangerous risks around every corner, perhaps it wasn’t wise to take time to explore their own sexuality. Either way, their mundane days down in the prison would come to an end when Tom would be drawn into a fight, leaving him injured.

 

“I think I should go. I’ve already kept you here long enough.”, Harry exhaled softly without making eye contact.
“No”, said Deanna with fascination, “please keep going. I feel you’re making a breakthrough to something you’ve suppressed for far too long. It isn’t healthy to hide how you feel or try and deny these feelings. Please, Mr. Kim, continue.”
“There was a fight. Tom defended me and was stabbed with a shank by another prisoner. I felt terror rise in my body, and I can recall fighting back tears. I prayed to the gods that he wasn’t dead. I held his body so close to mine, promising I would do whatever it took to get us out of there.”
“Naturally you made good on that promise. Here you are, and Mr. Paris is thriving from what I understand.”
Harry looked up to her, “With his wife and child.”
Sensing bitterness, Deanna raised an eyebrow, “You never told him your feelings?”
“Oh I told him. We both came to an agreement, however.”
“Please”, Deanna said with a pleading smile, “continue with this story.”

 

The bleeding had stopped and they were staying in the larger hut of a fellow prisoner who had shown them kindness. After a failed attempt to unify several aliens into forming a revolt and working together, Harry returned to Tom and nursed him. The device on his skull, implanted on the other prisoners as well for precaution, already started frustrating him. Tom slipped in and out of consciousness, mumbling when he had the strength and almost pleading for Harry to escape without him. Despite the altered moods the implant gave him, Harry knew that he could never leave Tom behind. In the past two days, Tom had become a part of him. They were connected in a way which could not be discussed amongst these rough prisoners. Where the hell was Janeway? Where was Chakotay, Tuvok, and all the others from Voyager? Harry felt abandoned and angry, cursing the ship and himself for getting into Starfleet to begin with.

They had fought during Tom’s more lucid moments. In one of those occasions, Tom had destroyed the device which promised escape from the chute. It didn’t matter at that point. Harry had broken the force field and made the shocking discovery that, instead of being underground as they had believed, they were in a station floating in the depths of space. Even if they managed to open the door, there was no way they would be able to summon a ship to aid in their escape. Tom’s anger was just a sign of the implant influencing his growing discontent. They would surely be stuck in this place with no hope of escape. Surely there was only so much Captain Janeway could do to secure their innocence. A convicted man, whether falsely accused or not, was still a convicted man.

In a moment of deep sadness and gentle compassion, Harry held Tom’s body close to his. He promised Tom to protect him now, to be the stronger man, to ensure that none of the rogue aliens would destroy what was left of their short life. In a moment of passion, they admitted everything to one another. With sweat on his brow, Tom took in deep breaths and struggled to find the right words. Harry smiled down at him, running his fingers through Tom’s blonde hair gently. He would be the caregiver now, the breadwinner, the strength. He would do it for Tom….because a part of him felt true love.

In a rasping breath, Tom spoke out the truth, “I think I’m in love with you, Harry.”

Harry nodded gently, “I think we’ve shared the same dreams. It could be this prison…it does strange things to a man’s mind.”
“Or the implants”, Tom offered weakly, “or the fact we’re stranded in the Delta Quadrant. I don’t know what the reason is…I just…knew I had to tell you. Before I…well, before…”
“Don’t say things like that. Neither of us are going to last very long here. We might as well enjoy what we have.”, Harry said with a strange confidence.

It happened in that moment. Harry leaned down and Tom’s hand braced the back of his friend’s neck. Their lips met, fully awake and free of their dream world, in a romantic kiss. Brushing their lips together and sharing an intimate kiss tied a ribbon on the small secret they had been hiding from each other for the past few days. They could not go on lying. As their lips parted, they both knew that it was a moment neither would forget. Tom closed his eyes and attempted to rest as a way to dull the pain from his wound. Harry cradled him and then later defended him with a pathetic shank he crafted from a piece of metal debris. All seemed to be lost until Captain Janeway appeared with the team. They were saved and returned to Voyager…though things became different. Regardless of their continued friendship, Tom and Harry had never spoken of those few days in that prison. Not until Harry had agreed to meet with Counselor Deanne Troi.

Deanna smiled and leaned forward to put her hand on Harry’s, “I’m proud of you for sharing your secret with me, Harry. It takes true strength to face our own fears.”
Harry nodded slowly, “It feels good to finally tell the truth of that story. I’ve never spoken to Tom about it, and I doubt I ever will. He’s happily married and whatever I say won’t change that.”
“If you feel it’s important you two speak about it, we can arrange a session in my office. I’m in San Francisco for the next three weeks. I want to help you resolve these feelings.”
Harry stood up and smiled, “In a strange way, I think they are resolved. What Tom and I shared in that prison will always be stored in my heart. I know the truth of what happened after I fell down the Chute. I emerged a changed man.”
“Have you had any relationships since then?”
“Not of that nature. Tom’s one in a million.”
Deanna stood up as well and shook his hand gently, “I understand. If you ever feel the need to speak with me again, or perhaps schedule another session, you know how to contact me.”
“Thank you, Counselor Troi”, said Harry with warmth in his eyes, “but I think now I can move on without that weight on my shoulders.”
“There’s no shame in love.”
He nodded, “No there isn’t.”
“So”, she asked, “what will you do now?”
Looking past her, Harry spoke with a knowing smile, “I’m going to apply for a new post and head out to space again. Even if I move on with my career and my life, I will always have my memories to comfort me.”

 

Copyright 2010. The characters and the Star Trek: Voyager universe are copyright Paramount. This is a fan fiction written for entertainment and not meant for profit. Thank you for reading my work and continuing to support my writing process.

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