Nascency

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From: crime@bu.edu (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Nascency (P/M & K/T)
Date: 7 Oct 1995 14:02:48 GMT
Organization: Boston University
Lines: 904
Message-ID: <4561a8$k9q@news.bu.edu>
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WARNING: THIS STORY DOES CONTAIN GRAPHIC SEX; THOSE THAT ARE EASILY
OFFENDED BEWARE!

DISCLAIMERS: All original characters belong to Paramount, and are used here
for the purpose of fun only. The story and the character of
Caitlin Matthews are my creations and as such, are belong to me.

Nascency

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1995

“Okay, Harry. Now you want to hold the cue like this, because you want
to put a clockwise spin on the ball.” Lieutenant Caitlin Matthews adjusted her
fellow officer’s stance slightly. “That’s it. Now, just make a smooth down-
ward stroke. Oh well, practice makes perfect. Believe me, Harry, this is one
of the hardest pool shots to learn. Two more over here, Sandrine.”
Ensign Harry Kim lowered his stick and slumped dejectedly against the
table. Everything in his life seemed to be going wrong lately; the screw-up
at Ops, losing Ensign Nomura to Baxter, and now, this. He had lost every game
he’d played for the past two weeks. So, as a last resort, he had asked Caitlin
to give him a few pointers.
Lieutenant Matthews studied her friend as the drinks were delivered.
Picking up the cueball, she cleared the other balls off the table. She placed
the cueball directly in front of her and picked up a cue. “Okay, Harry, I want
you to try to do this. Just hit the ball straight into the opposite bumper so
that it returns and hits the tip of the stick, like this.” She bent down and
sent the ball on its pre-described journey. “Okay, now you try it.”
The ensign looked at her doubtfully, but then shrugged. Who was he to
argue with her; even on his best days, he couldn’t come close to beating her.
He tried the suggested shot only to have the ball come back to the right of
the stick.
“Try it again. Take your time,” the security officer advised.
He did, with the opposite results; this time the ball returned to the
left of the stick. Sighing in frustration, he staightened up.
“It’s your stroke.” Caitlin stated. “If your stroke was smooth, the
ball should return to the stick. As long as your stroke is uneven, I don’t
care how good you are, you’ll never win a game.”
“Okay, so how do I fix it?”
“Just repeat the exercise I just showed you; in time, it should even
out, unless the problem is more than your stroke.” She gently tapped his
forehead. “Howzit going up here, Harry? You seem to be a little bit edgy
of late.”
“I’m all right, I guess. It’s just everything has been going wrong for
about two weeks now, and I’m getting really frustrated.”
Caitlin nodded. “I think I understand. I saw Nomura at breakfast with
Baxter this morning; I take it things didn’t quite gel between you two.”
“That’s a big understatement. I never had a chance in the first
place.” Harry tossed his stick on the table before sinking into a nearby
chair. “You know, I finally decide to let Libby go, and for what? To spend
my nights off alone.”
“What about B’Elanna? You two seem to get along fairly well, and I
know she’s not seeing anybody right now.”
“B’Elanna is my friend. We’ve worked together for almost three years
now. I don’t want to wreck our friendship just because I’d like some female
company. I’ve been down that road once before, and I didn’t like it.”
Caitlin sat cross-legged on the pool table and regarded him with
sympathy. She hated playing match-maker; it was a good way to get at least two
people angry at you. “Harry, I wish I could do something to help, but all I
can say is that this too shall pass. You’ve just got to hang in there.” She
took a sip of her drink as the holodeck doors opened and Lt. Tom Paris entered.
“There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you. Hey, Harry,
howzit going?” He planted a firm kiss on Caitlin’s mouth, tickling her upper
lip with his tongue. “Mmm, Sandrine, a glass of Burgundy, ma cherie.”
“Oui, Thomas,” came the reply.
“You’re in a good mood,” remarked Caitlin. “What’s up?”
The pilot grinned and hopped up on the table beside her. “I have
arranged for us to have a one day/one night shore leave on Parnus when we get
there. I just got the Captain’s okay a little while ago.”
“Tom, that’s wonderful!” Caitlin threw her arms around his neck and
kissed him her most sincere thanks.
“Mmm-hmm, I thought you’d appreciate my efforts.” He looked over at
Kim. “And I arranged the same for you, Harry. Maybe you could get Ensign
Nomura . . .to. . . what?” Tom grew confused as Caitlin began violently
shaking her head. “Uh-oh, I take it Nomura is no longer the subject du jour.”
Harry’s long face silently answered the implied question.
“All the more reason for you to take the shore leave, Harry,” Caitlin
interjected. “Get off the ship, see some new sights, meet new people. It’ll
refresh your spirit.”
“Maybe. Listen, thanks for letting me bend your ear, Caitlin, and for
the lesson, too.” The somber young man slowly rose to his feet. “My shift
starts in an hour; so, I’ll catch you later on the bridge.”
“See you in an hour,” she replied.
“Bye, Tom, and thanks for the leave.”
“No problem. What are friends for? Hey, cheer up, old man.”
Harry shot them both a rueful grin as the exit doors opened.
As soon as the doors closed, Caitlin called out, “Matthews to Torres.”
“Torres here.”
“B’Elanna, a friendly suggestion. Ask the Captain for a one day/one
night shore leave on Parnus.”
“Okay, why?”
“Don’t ask. I’m just told it comes highly recommended, if you catch
my meaning.”
A subtle smile flashed across the Chief Engineer’s face. “Will do,
Caitlin. And thanks.”
“Don’t thank me yet. Save it for later if things work out. Matthews
out.”
Tom sipped his wine, casting a curious glance sideways at her. “I
thought you didn’t believe in playing matchmaker.”
“I’m not really. Both of them could use a little shore leave, and if
you’ve already arranged some for Harry, he may as well have a friend to spend
it with. I think at times we may be a rather painful reminder to him of what
he’s lost.” She hopped off the table and stood in front of him, her arms
encircling his neck. “Besides I fully intend to spend at least some of the
time, alone, with you.”
“No complaints here.” He flashed his best seductive smile. “You
should see the room. I’ve already arranged for us; I think you’ll like it.”
She chuckled and brought her forehead to his. “Have I told you lately
that I love you?”
“Hmmm, not since I last told you, which was I think when you were
crawling into bed at the end of your shift.” His blue eyes gazed flirtatiously
into her green ones.
“Well, let me rectify that situation, right now, Lieutenant. I love
you, and I think I’m a very lucky lady.”
“Oh, any one of at least dozen women on this ship could’ve told you
that,” he replied, baiting her jealousy.
“Really, well, in that case, I’ll take any one of a dozen men on this
ship with me on my shore leave, and you can stay behind with your `lady
friends’,” she retorted.
“That would be a mistake, and I’ll show you why. Computer, delete
characters and engage privacy lock.” Paris stood up and removed the Kim’s
stick from the table. His hands grabbed her waist, drawing her to him.
“Tom, I have to be on duty in fifty minutes.” Her protest lacked a
certain sincerity.
He grinned. “Don’t worry. I’ve never made you late for a shift once,
and that’s a record I promise to maintain.”

Parnus was beautiful. The capital city, Artios, was centered around a
large park, complete with gentle, rolling, tree-topped hills and two small
lakes. Tom, Caitlin and Harry had wandered throughout the northern part of
the city all morning, exploring a museum, a few small shops and some
residential areas. The people were friendly, curious about their visitors; an
elderly shop owner had suggested that they take their lunch in the Park of
Eternal Peace, explaining that the name came from the historic peace treaty
signed there over seven generations ago.
“I don’t care what he said,” Tom whispered, as they stood in line at a
small food stall. “I still think it sounds like a cemetery.”
“Shh,” Caitlin scolded, trying to suppress a grin. She glanced down at
the small basket of fresh fruits, vegetables and bread he held. “What are we
going to drink at this impromptu picnic?”
“Harry’s taking care of that. I told him to pick up some water and
the local equivalent of wine; so he had to go to another stall. Oh, come on,
sometime today,” Tom groaned, as the stall owner and a elderly customer began
the galaxy-wide ritual of haggling over prices.
Caitlin listened to the rising crescendo of debate going on in front of
them, automatically keeping score in her head. Tom watched a small grin spread
across her face; he could almost hear Chakotay now, `Always the trader, aren’t
you, Matthews?’. Paris smiled to himself; whatever she wanted, she got, he’d
give her that.
Caitlin stole a quick look and saw that he was watching her. “What?”
“Oh, nothing.” A fake air of innocence came upon him as he
deliberately shifted his gaze away and back. “I can just the Commander, now,
that’s all.”
“About what?”
“You.”
“Me? What did I do?”
Tom’s face broke into a huge grin. “Now don’t tell me you weren’t
keeping score.”
“You could tell?” A slight flush of embarrassment crept into her
cheeks. She hadn’t meant to; it had all been so involuntary.
He laughed and kissed her on the cheek, his free arm closing about her
waist. “I know you, Cait, probably better than you think I do.”
An emerald gaze searched his face. “That’s a frightening thought,”
she admitted.
“It is, isn’t it? Hey, here comes Harry. I knew he’d be back before
we were through paying.” Tom cast an infuriated glance at the still-haggling
shopkeeper. “So, what did you get?”
His friend frowned slightly. “Exactly what you told me to get. Water
and wine, what else? You guys haven’t paid yet? I’m starving.” Kim’s face
took on an expression of a petulent child.
“Nope, and I’m starving, too. I guess – whoops, here we go.” The
elderly customer grudgingly paid the settled upon amount, allowing Tom to place
the basket on the counter. They quickly paid and headed for the park, choosing
a partially shady area underneath a large tree for the picnic. Caitlin
streched out a blanket from the small supply kit they had brought before they
sat down to eat.
The bright sun beat down upon their dark uniforms, and between it and
the wine, after they finished eating, one by one, they dozed off. “Look out!”
Tom vaguely remembered hearing the warning before something hit him in the
stomach, successfully waking him up and taking his breath away at the
same time. “What. . .the. . .hell?” he gasped, as his eyes fell on a medium-
sized ball among their food.
Caitlin and Harry sleepily raised their heads in response to his
exclamation. A few children out of a group of about ten ran up; they had been
playing a little ways off when the three of them had begun to doze off.
“Sorry, mister. I hope it didn’t hurt you too bad. I tried to warn
you.”
Tom picked up the ball and tossed it to the one who had spoken. “It’s
okay; no real harm done.”
Caitlin eyed the children with amusement. “What are you playing?”
The children exchanged glances. “Bacha,” one of them replied.
“How do you play?”
More uncertain looks were transferred before the taller of the group
hastily explained the simple rules.
Matthews grinned. “Sounds like fun, mind if I play?”
The taller child shrugged and checked with his companions. “I guess
you can if you want to.”
“Great.” She scrambled to her feet and followed the children back out
onto their field of battle.
Tom sat up and watched her run, roll, and laugh, just like a child. He
noticed that she under-played, matching her skill level to that of the kids;
not letting them win, but not completely defeating them, either. So unlike his
father, who had always played to win, even when Paris was a toddler. *Damn
tyrant! Took all the fun out of almost everything I did.* He shook his head,
not wanting the past to intrude on such a beautiful day.
He looked back out at her; strands of auburn hair hanging down on
either side of her flushed face. She was having fun, and the children were
responding in kind. A big grin stretched across his face. *I wonder if-*
“Heads up, Lieutenant!” He heard the warning yell a split-second
before he brain registered a fast-moving projectile heading towards him. His
hands flashed up and caught the ball.
Caitlin stood there grinning. “Well, are you going to play or not?”
She and the children waited expectantly.
*To hell with protocol!* His blue eyes twinkled with mischief. “Just
see if you can hit me.” He launched the ball back at her and ran into the
middle of the pack of children.
Harry continued to lie beneath the tree, watching the group play. The
small smile of amusement on his face was slowly replaced by a frown as confused
feelings of loneliness and jealousy overcame his enjoyment of the moment.
“Hey, Harry! Come on!” Tom called. “I need you,” he added, barely
dodging a throw by Caitlin.
The ensign shrugged. Why not? It was certainly better than sitting
here feeling miserable. Forcing a grin, he jumped to his feet and joined
the others.

They must have played with the Parnusian children for the better part
of an hour, losing themselves completely in the simple act of having fun;
something that was impossible to do on a starship. One could come close, but
there was always a reminder, that fast-approaching duty shift or the time limit
of the holographic program. Here, on the planet, however, the only reminders
were the uniforms they each wore; uniforms that were rapidly showing signs of
grass and dirt.
“You know, we’re going to have to change before dinner.” Kim remarked,
as they sat down and looked sheepishly at their soiled clothes.
“A shower might also be in order,” added Tom, wiping a patch of dirt
off Caitlin’s cheek.
“Speak for yourself,” she replied using some water and a napkin to dab
away some blood on his chin. “At least, I didn’t injure myself.”
He grinned at her. “Comes with the territory, `Mother’.”
She stuck her tongue out. “Fine, take care of your own wounds, then.
See if I care. Harry’s right, though, we should head to the hotel and change.
We don’t want to make too bad of an impression.”
“If they let us check in, looking as we do,” Harry chuckled, sending
them all into a fit of giggles.
Presently, Tom stood up and adjusted his uniform, trying hard to invoke
a little dignity to his disheveled appearance. “Let’s get going, then.” He
offered each a hand up, before stooping himself to pick up some of the remnants
of their picnic.

The hotel was on the other side of the park, facing one of the small
lakes. Shaped like an `L’, the first two floors were more like a nursery
filled with a large variety of native and non-native plants. On the roof of
the second story, off of the main dining room, was a large garden, which
allowed visitors to stroll around a small fish pond, as well as affording an
unobstructed view of the large park below.
“Yes, can I help you?” The clerk at the desk could barely stop the
sneer in his voice from appearing on his face as he looked at the three untidy
humans in front of him.
Tom put on his friendliest grin. “Two rooms under the name
Thomas Paris; I made the reservations about four days ago.”
The clerk looked doubtful, and Harry and Caitlin tried hard to stifle
their giggles. Catching his brown eyes in her gaze, she realized just how
badly he had needed this shore leave; she hadn’t seen him smile like that in
weeks.
“Ah, yes, Lieutenant Paris. Here we go. Rooms 1015 and 917. Your
luggage arrived earlier and has been sent up. I hope you find the rooms to
your liking.”
“Thank you. I’m sure we will.” Tom spun on his two red-faced
companions, their eyes dancing with the laughter they wouldn’t allow themselves
to express. “What?”
They exploded, no longer able to contain their merriment. The whole
scene had just been so, well, silly, the pompousness of the clerk contrasting
with Tom’s good-natured sloveness. Paris’ grin broadened. “Come on, you two.
Let’s go get civilized. Harry, here’s your room’s code,” he added as they
crossed over to the lifts.

The room that Tom had chosen for Caitlin and himself surpassed anything
she had ever been in. On the left was a huge bed with at least four pillows
each between the two of them. On the right was a small raised fire place with
a soft, shaggy rug in front of it; on the rug were a few large pillows,
suitable for reclining. On the wall opposite the door were three large
windows with impressive views of the park and the city below.
Gratified, Tom watched as Matthews’ mouth slowly dropped open in
amazement. He took her hand and led her off to the right to a raised platform
past the fireplace. “This is the real reason I got the room,” he said,
touching a small panel on the wall. A cover slid back revealing a beautiful
tub large enough to comfortably fit two. “I’ve also made arrangements for a
selection of bath oils to be brought up; I thought you might want to take one
of your long soaking baths tonight,” he hinted suggestively, placing his arms
around her waist.
Caitlin found herself to overwhelmed to reply. Struggling to find a
coherent train of thought, she glanced at him warily. “What’s the catch?”
A hurt look crossed his face. “There’s no catch. I just wanted to do
something nice for us that’s all. Honest, Cait, I-” He found his words cut
off by the sudden presence of her lips against his, her fingers winding their
way through his hair.
“Thank you,” she finally breathed.
“Anytime.” He grinned, hugging her tighter. “I guess we’d better get
showered and changed; Harry will be waiting.” His lips sought out her, again.
“Mmm-hmm. . . we don’t. . . want to. . . keep him,” she mumbled between
kisses. His mouth left a moist trail along her jaw as he moved toward her ear.”Ahhh. . . maybe we could shower together and save a little time?”
Tom raised his head and looked at her, amusement twinkling in his clear
blue eyes. “Do you really think that would save us time?”
“Probably not, but I figured I’d throw it out as a suggestion anyway.”
Paris threw back his head in laughter. “Nice try. You go first. I’ll
get one when you’re done.”
Caitlin picked up her duffle and stepped toward a doorway on the right
of the fireplace. “Spoilsport,” she teased.

At 1900 hours, B’Elanna joined the threesome for dinner. She hadn’t
been able to get the day off as they had, but she had obtained permission to
join them at the end of her shift. The meal was an elaborate six course
affair, according to Parnusian tradition, with time for digestion between each
course. All total, it took them over two hours to eat. After the equivalent
of dessert, they discovered it was customary to take a brief stroll in the
garden to calm the spirit and aid final digestion.
Harry watched Tom and Caitlin wander slowly off on their own, and the
old misery that had disappeared in the afternoon returned. B’Elanna, too,
sensed his change in mood and silently stood beside him. *He doesn’t even know
I’m here,* she told herself, suddenly regretting her decision to join the three
for dinner.
Slowly, Kim drew himself together, becoming aware of her gaze. He
looked at her for a moment, trying to discern what emotions were behind the
expression on her face. Sadness? Concern? He really couldn’t tell, but he
did know that he was being rude.
“I’m sorry, B’Elanna. I didn’t mean to ignore you like that; I’ve just
had a lot on my mind lately, and it all resurfaced at once.”
She tried to give him a supportive smile. She had never been good as
a counselor, never really wanted to be, until now. “Look, Harry, I know some-
thing has been bothering you, and I know I’m not exactly the person people
think of when they need to talk, but if you want to, I’ll be more than happy
to listen.” She eyed him hopefully. “It might make you feel better.”
He shook his head before wandering over to a nearby bench. “I doubt
it, B’Elanna. In fact, I’m not sure I want anyone to know; I’m kind of
ashamed of the whole thing.”
She looked at him curiously. What could he have done that was so bad?
He was as straight-laced as they came; honest, forthright, conscientious. That
was what she liked about him; she knew he would always tell the truth, or point
out the more pragmatic route whenever her emotions began affecting her
judgement. She sat down beside him. “Harry, we’ve always been honest with
each other; and I think you know you can trust me. I’m your friend, right?”
“Of course, you are, B’Elanna. It’s just that-” He broke off.
Confiding in someone would probably help, but to actually express the
humiliating emotions he was experiencing seemed too difficult a task.
“It’s just what? C’mon, Starfleet, talk to me. I won’t tell anyone.”
On impulse, she grabbed his hand and gave it a little squeeze.
Harry looked off toward Tom and Caitlin sitting across the small pond,
Paris’ arm around her shoulders, both gazing up into the night sky. “I’m a
terrible friend, B’Elanna. Look at them. Somehow thousands of light years
from home, they’ve managed to find each other. I should be happy for them,
right? But I’m not. I’m so jealous I can hardly see straight. It doesn’t
seem fair that they should find new lives out here, while mine gets ripped away
before it even had a chance to start.”
He shook his head and glanced down at his hands. “I had such plans for
Libby and me; a home, kids, the works. And I’ve lost it, every single bit of
it. Each day it gets a little bit harder to remember her face, to remember
what she sounded like. Even if we got back to Earth tomorrow, I don’t think I
could go back to her; it just wouldn’t be the same. Too much time has passed.”
He gave a sarcastic snort. “Hell, maybe, I never really loved her in the first
place; I just don’t know anymore.”
The two sat in silence for a moment before Kim stood up abruptly in
exasperation. “I’ve got to walk; you want to come with me?” He offered her
his hand.
B’Elanna nodded and slipped her hand in his. With any other male, she
would’ve resented this gesture, but with him, it was different. She knew he
didn’t see her as weak, but maybe that was the problem. Tom had seen her human
side when they had been captured so long ago, but Harry hadn’t. He had visited
her in sickbay only after the genetic replacement program had begun. He knew
she was half-human; couldn’t he guess that she had a softer side, too.
Harry released her hand as soon as she was on her feet. It was just
such an automatic gesture for him. A while ago, he had figured out that, like
most Klingons, she probably took offense to it, but for some reason, she had
never said anything to him.
They strolled along in silence, with Harry occasionally stopping to
admire a certain flower or plant. “My grandfather used to own a nursery. He
could grow just about anything, even Ebbaran orchids, which almost never grow
in captivity.”
B’Elanna gave a little laugh. “When I was about three, my dad brought
home this huge plant for my mother. He had been growing it as a surprise in
his office. It took her only four days to kill it. I don’t think she realized
how much that hurt him,” she added softly. Eager to change the subject, she
glanced around quickly. “It looks like the happy couple have left us.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I think they went in about fifteen minutes ago.
I guess they wanted to be alone. Go figure.”
They came to the edge fo the balcony and looked down onto the park
below, moonlight reflecting off the nearby lake. Harry cast a sideways
glance at B’Elanna. She had been uncharacteristically silent this evening.
They had always been able to talk to each other, but tonight she was different,
softer, almost empathic. The moonlight cast shadows across her face,
accentuating the ridges of her forehead and her cheekbones. *She really is
beautiful. . . No, you can’t do this,* he told himself. *You’ve seen sex ruin
friendships before.* He turned his head and gazed out at the lake, feeling
more alone than ever.
B’Elanna had felt his eyes upon her, only to have her hopes dashed when
he looked away. *Is he so afraid of me?* she wondered. She wished that
Caitlin had been a little more forthcoming about the chat she had had with
Harry, but all her friend had done was smile and say she wasn’t going to get
involved anymore than she already was. * I have to know one way or the other,*
B’Elanna finally decided. *If he refuses, he refuses, and we move on from
there.* Turning toward him, she reached a hand out and gently brushed his
cheek.
His eyes closed briefly at the touch of her skin on his. He caught her
hand and turned to face her, a pained look in his eyes. “B’Elanna, please
don’t. I don’t want us to make a mistake.”
“Mistake? What are talking about?” Embarrassed, she tried to jerk her
hand out of his.
“B’Elanna, listen to me,” he continued, maintaining his grip. “I’ll be
honest. I don’t want to be alone tonight, but I don’t want to sacrifice our
present friendship either, especially for one quick night of comfort.”
“We all need to be held sometimes, Starfleet, and sometimes we have to
close our eyes and take chances. You don’t have to be alone tonight, Harry;
I’ll stay with you if you want me to.” Her eyes pleaded with his heart. It
had taken Seska’s casual mention of Harry’s date with Jenny Delaney to make her
aware of how she was beginning to feel about him, and now, it seemed that he,
too, had feelings for her. If only he would act on them.
*Do I or don’t I? She’s so beautiful. What if it doesn’t work out?
What if it does? I want her; I’ve been wanting her. I’m afraid.* Harry
silenced his whirling thoughts the only way he could think of at the moment.
Cradling her face between his hands, he lowered his lips on to hers, tasting
the sweet remnants of the brandied fruit they had had for dessert. Her tongue
came out and teasingly invited his into her mouth. *Oh Gods!* For the first
time in what seemed like ages, all reason left him. His arms moved around
her back, crushing her against his chest, as they hungrily explored each
others’ mouths. Voices from the street below suddenly reminded them of where
they were. Pulling apart, Harry didn’t wait for her to say anything; he
grabbed her hand and led her toward the entrance.
The lift showed almost immediately, and to their relief, it was empty.
B’Elanna giggled and began to playfully undo the front of his uniform. For a
second, he stared at her not quite believing what she was doing. Then, he
seized her shoulder and pinned her roughly to the side of the car, his body
grinding urgently against hers, his lips descending once again on her mouth.
She let out a low growl of delight and bit his lower lip hard, drawing blood.
Harry let out a yelp of pain and jerked back slightly.
“Shh,” she whispered, tenderly licking the wound. “I should have
warned you; I do bite.”
He gazed at her, his brown eyes clouded by desire. “I’ve never made
love to a Klingon before, half or otherwise. You’ll have to tell me what you
like and don’t like.”
Her hand dropped down, allowing her fingers to slowly outline his
hardened sex through the uniform. Harry closed his eyes and emitted a low
moan, as he pressed himself into her hand. “I like that,” she replied
provocatively.
Before he could think of a retort, the lift doors opened. Thanking
the gods that the hall was empty and that his room was only a few doors down,
he hauled her out of the lift. This was either going to be a night to remember
or one he would wish later that he could forget. Kim hoped fervently that it
would be the former.

Caitlin watched from in front of the fire as Tom sat on the side of the
tub drawing her bath. He added a few drops of oil to the hot water filling the
room with a warm, musky aroma. Something was bothering him; she could tell.
All afternoon and evening, ever since they had checked in, he had experienced
these lapses of silence, as if some important matter kept dragging his thoughts
elsewhere.
She walked over to where he perched, his fingers absently swirling in
the water. Placing her hands on his shoulders, she gave them a gentle squeeze.
“Where are you?”
“Hmm?”
“Where are you? You’ve been leaving me off and on all evening. What’s
wrong?”
“Nothing.” His one dry hand reached up to give a reassuring pat to her
right arm.
“That’s not true. Something’s upset you; what is it?” She knelt down
in front of him. “Have I done something?”
Paris looked at her; a strange smile, not quite happy but not quite sad
either, appeared on his face. He reached out and brushed her cheek. “You
haven’t done a thing, and I’m not upset. I’ve just got a lot of things on my
mind that I’m not quite ready to discuss yet, okay?” He shut off the water.
“There, your bath is ready, m’lady; you’d best get into it quickly.”
Caitlin reached up to unfasten his uniform, but he caught her hands and
shook his head. “Not for me, I need to go take a little walk and clear my
head. Don’t worry, though; everything is okay, really. Just enjoy the bath
and the fire, and I’ll be back by the time you’re done.” He kissed her on the
forehead before gazing deeply into the uncertain green eyes. “Trust me,” he
grinned, slowly unfastening her uniform.
She gently slapped his hands away. “All right. I can do it myself.
Go take a walk.”
He grabbed her chin, tilting her head up, and planted a decisive kiss
on her mouth. “See you in a bit.”

As Harry and B’Elanna entered the hotel through the east door, Tom
exited from the west and wandered along the garden path coming to the bench
his friends had vacated earlier. Sitting down, he gazed out over the small
moonlit pond.
Why had he felt so unsettled after playing in the park? Why did
flashes of Caitlin playing with the kids keep popping into his mind? Why was
he of all people suddenly thinking about children? A family? Him? He could
barely take care of himself at times; how could he possibly be responsible
enough to be a parent?
Besides, kids tied you down; they made any relationship, even marriage,
much too permanent. No more picking up and leaving when the time came. Nah,
you had to stay and try to make it work for the kids’ sake. And privacy?
Well, good-bye to that, and freedom, too. No more all-night pool sessions at
Sandrine’s; no more late-night poker matches; no more impromptu shore leaves or
visits to the holodeck.
How did he even know he could be a good father? The last thing he
wanted to do was mess up some kid’s life like his dad had done to him. Anyway,
he didn’t know if Caitlin wanted to get married, much less have kids. *I mean,
she seems to like them, but liking them and having them are two completely
different things,* he reflected.
The image returned. It gave him a warm, almost queasy feeling in the
pit of his stomach; a mixture of excitement, apprehension and joy at the
thought of feeling their baby grow and move inside her. He grinned and shook
his head. *Who would have thought under all these layers of cynicism beat the
heart of a true romantic?* He certainly hadn’t.
Their relationship had made great strides, and they both had been
coping with their problems much better. In fact, since Caitlin’s accident a
few months ago, they had hardly fought at all. But had he really reached the
point where he could settle down and willingly accept the responsibility of a
family? When he had lost Ricki, he had vowed never to let anyone get that
close to him again, but somehow that arrogant red-head had burrowed her way
through all his carefully erected defenses.
He chuckled in disbelief. A few years ago, he had just been trying to
survive a prison sentence long enough to get out and drink himself into a
permanent stupor, forgetting who he was and all that happened in the process.
Now, here he sat thinking about starting a family with some equally brash
Maquis on a ship some sixty-odd light years from Earth that had never been
built to house families in the first place. Was he insane? He looked up
towards their room and then at the starry sky. `Probably’ was the answer
that came to his mind.
Tom sat in silence for several more minutes before standing up and
walking toward the east door. She should be through with her bath by now, and
he hadn’t booked that particular room to spend the night in the garden alone
with his thoughts.

Caitlin was sitting on the soft rug in front of the fire toweling her-
self dry when Tom entered the room. Crossing over, he crouched down behind
her, his hands coming around to cup each breast, his fingers slowly caressing
the nipples into two hard points. Her head rolled back to one side allowing
his lips to meander down her sensitive neck. An arm reached up behind his
head, her fingers weaving their way through his hair. She smelt so good, the
bath oil blending perfectly with her own body’s chemistry. He heard her emit
a low “oooh”, as her body curved upward into his hands.
“Your skin’ll dry out in front of this fire,” he said softly, playfully
grabbing an earlobe between his teeth. “Would you like me to rub some oil
on you?”
“Mmmmm, that would be nice.”
“Then, lie down. I’ll be right back. . . I promise,” he added,
planting a kiss on her bare shoulder.
Caitlin stretched out on her stomach and watched the flames dance in
the fireplace. She could feel the beginnings of her own arousal, but she
wanted to make this evening last. It wasn’t often that they had access to
such beautiful, non-holographic surroundings.
At the side of the tub, Paris paused to remove his boots before
examining the assortment of scented oils, the Parnusians had left. One smelt
of spices, another sweet and floral, and still another reminded him vaguely of
almonds. He finally chose the same warm musk he had selected earlier, which
spoke to him of exotic, romantic evenings on Argelius. Rubbing a little of the
oil between his palms, he knelt beside Caitlin and began massaging it with slow
circular motions into her upper back and shoulders. Gradually, he worked his
way down her body until he reached her feet. “You’re not going to sleep are
you?” He glanced up at her motionless head. Receiving no reply, he moved back
up and leaned over her shoulders. “I asked you a question.”
The eyelids fluttered open. “Hmmm?”
“I asked if you had fallen asleep.”
A drowsy smile responded. “Almost. That was wonderful,” she purred in
contentment.
He bent down and tongued the outside of her ear. “Well, don’t. I
haven’t finished yet. Roll over.”
With what seemed like a great deal of effort, Caitlin commanded her
relaxed muscles to move. Tom bent over and tickled the edges of her mouth with
his tongue, catching her lower lip briefly in his teeth. “Remember, don’t go
to sleep.” He sat up and reached for the bottle of oil.
She eyed him with a lazy deviltry. “Before you use anymore of that,
shouldn’t you take off your uniform? You don’t want to get any stains on it.”
“Gee, I seem to already have it all on my hands. I guess you’ll have
to help me.”
Her green eyes danced in the firelight as she reached up and began
unfastening his jumpsuit. In a few minutes, it lay, along with the grey
turtleneck and his underwear, in a crumpled heap. “Lie back down,” he ordered,
stradling her body. “I still have your front to do.”
The aroma of the oil filled the room, intoxicating them with its
promises of the exotic and sensual. A wicked grin appeared on Tom’s face as he
drizzled some oil down the valley of her breasts and onto her stomach. Then,
he lowered his own body down, rubbing it gently against her in a somewhat
circular pattern to distribute the oil between them.
Her arms encircled his neck and brought his mouth to hers. As they
kissed, their tongues exploring each others’ mouths in a deliberate, practiced
manner, she felt his sex press urgently against the sensitive skin between her
thigh and vulva. She reached down between their bodies and stroked him
gently, teasing the erect organ at times with her nails. Now, it was Paris’
time to moan.
Caitlin spread her legs wider and guided him in, her body arching up
as he slowly filled her. His pelvis began its rhythmic thrusts, quickly
becoming faster and more insistent in the quest for fulfillment. “Umm-mmm.”
Matthews placed her hands on his hips halting his movements. “Not yet.”
“Huh?” Tom raised his head and looked at her questioningly.
“I just want us to take our time,” she whispered. “Who knows when
we’ll have a chance like this in surroundings such as these again?” Her
fingers drew slippery designs in the blond hair on his chest.
He nodded and regretfully withdrew himself. “I agree, but I don’t
know how much longer I can control myself.” His breath tickled her neck,
causing her to shudder. “You know how much you excite me.” Pausing briefly
to pay tender tribute to each breast, he kissed his way down her stomach.
Tentatively, he took her moist sex in his mouth, his tongue savouring the
familiar taste of her juices. Soon, she began writh under his affectionate
ministrations. With a final kiss, he moved back up, allowing himself to enter
her once again while she licked her wetness off his chin.
“Ohhh, gods,” he sighed as their oil covered bodies glided together.
“You feel so good.” Lost in the sensations, his mind drifted freely,
unencumbered by any thought except of that of the woman beneath him. “Cait,
you-” The image of her pregnant sihouette seized his imagination, and he
looked down at her. *Gods, she would be beautiful, and so would our children.*
“Cait, you- what?” she murmured, rising slightly to nibble along his
collarbone.
“Hmmm?” Still trapped by the image, Paris lowered his chest onto hers.
“That’s what I’m asking you. What are you thinking about? What could
possibly draw your attention . . .away?” She raked her nails up his buttocks
and lower back, sending shock waves through his close to overloaded nervous
system.
He groaned and drove himself into her as deeply as he could. “Oh gods,
Cait. I want us to have a baby.” The whispered words tumbled out before he
could stop them. “I want to make you pregnant.”
Her eyes flew open. “You’re crazy,” she gasped, pushing his shoulders
up with both hands.
“Maybe.” *Too late now, Thomas.* He grabbed her wrists and pinned
them with one hand above her head. “And maybe I just want the pleasure of
seeing my child suckle at this breast,” he concluded, gazing deeply into her
eyes as his thumb brushed gently over her erect left nipple.
His face bore an expression of apprehensive serenity, a look of one who
had willingly accepted the inevitability of his fate. “Tom, you’re starting to
scare me,” she whispered.
“It’s okay,” he half-smiled, brushing away a few strands of hair from
her forehead. “I’m doing a pretty good job of scaring myself, too.”
Suddenly, it seemed as if his lips were everywhere with an increased
passion; her mouth, her eyelids, her jaw, her neck. A small deep moan came
from Caitlin. *Thank the gods for implants,* she thought. *I don’t know if I
could refuse him otherwise.*
His thrusting became more forceful and he released her wrists, allowing
her to cling to him tightly, wrapping her arms and legs around his torso. As
she cried her oncoming release into his ear, Tom found his restraint pushed
over the edge. He let go with his own explosion that he had struggled to hold
back, filling her with his lifeforce before collapsing on top of her.
“I love you.” His exhausted groan tickled her ear. Groggily, she
turned her head and kissed him. *We can always move to the bed later,* she
thought, languidly stroking the damp head of hair on her shoulder.

After a few hours, Caitlin woke up. The roaring fire had become
nothing more than a few dying embers. They were in the bed now, Tom’s arm
laying across her stomach. She vaguely remembered them falling asleep in each
other’s arms on the rug. *He must have carried me over here, just like some
sleepy child,* she mused drowsily. *Child!* The word brought her to a
heightened state of wakefulness, as she recalled what he had said.
Had he really meant it? She turned and looked at the boyish face next
to her, its lips slightly parted in sleep. Parents? Them? She raised a hand
and softly brushed his cheek.
His eyes blinked slowly open; instinctively, he knew what she was
thinking. “I meant what I said, Cait. I want us to get married and have
kids.” His arm hugged her closer. “I know we haven’t really discussed this
before, but I-”
The presence of her fingers on his lips effectively silenced whatever
he was going to say. “We’ll talk about this later. Right now, let’s get some
sleep.” She rolled onto her side permitting him to spoon up behind her.
Tom buried his face in her neck; her skin was still fragrant from the
oil. *Tomorrow,* he promised himself silently, as she snuggled into his chest.
*Tomorrow we’ll talk.*

The light grey of the approaching dawn had filled the room when Caitlin
opened her eyes for the second time. She was still under Paris’ arm, his
breath blowing softly against her neck. Last night, their devil-may-care
relationship had entered into a new phase, when he officially announced the `m’
and `k’ words. *This is it, kid; this is where you either cut and run or
decide to stick it out. There is no middle ground anymore,* she told herself.
There was a small grunt behind her as Tom shifted onto his back.
Stealthily, she eased herself out of the large bed, wrapping her nude body in a
large complimentary robe. She wandered over to one of the windows. The sill
was large enough to sit upon, and she did so, drawing her knees up under her
chin.
She couldn’t tell which disturbed her more, marriage or the ensuing
progeny; most likely the children. Tom and she had been together for over two
years now, and in response, she had expected the subject of matrimony to pop
up. While, her mother was alive, her parents had enjoyed a happy marriage, and
J’nok and Kema’s marriage was likewise happy, at least as happy as Klingon
marriages could be. *It makes things a little more permanent than I like, but
I guess if you find the right person it’s an inevitable step.* Her gaze
redirected itself briefly toward the blond male sleeping on the bed. *Is he
really “the right person”? Would I need to ask myself this question if he
was?* Uncertainty flooded her thoughts.
That she cared for him deeply was evident; that she had uttered those
three special words to him was likewise easily confirmed. For almost eight
months now, she had been all but officially moved into his quarters, even Tuvok
checked there first when he was looking for her. How could marriage be all
that much different? Logically, it shouldn’t be, but emotionally, well, that
was another story. There was just something final about those two little
words, `I do’.
Kids were another matter entirely. Yes, she liked them. Ensign
Wildman’s son was amazing to watch; he was growing up so fast, learning so
much. Caitlin had to admit she had had fun babysitting him a few times, but
the best thing about it was that she had gotten to give him back. No permanent
responsibility, and gods, what a responsibility! *Am I really ready and
willing to take on all that?*
Her gaze swept back over Tom’s inert form. *Oh gods,* she sighed.
*He’s going to want an answer. What am I going to say?* She looked out toward
the slowly rising sun; at this point, maybe seemed like the only answer she
could truthfully give.

The bright light of the morning sun poured into the white room. Tom
opened his eyes to Caitlin’s vacant pillow. Rubbing the sleep away, he rolled
over, lazily looking around. She was sitting on one of the windowsills
watching the sun rise. “Hey,” he called softly. “How long have you been up?”
She shrugged, still gazing outside. “I don’t know; a while, I guess.
I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep.”
*Uh-oh.* By now, he was familiar with her problem-solving mannerisms.
Total silence, withdrawn, long window stares. *You can be such an idiot,
Thomas. Why couldn’t you keep you mouth shut? Why did you have to go and
spoil this shore leave?* He reached for the other robe and pulled it on as he
sidled up beside her. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, resting his
chin on the top of her head. “I’m sorry, Cait. I didn’t mean to upset you.
I have such a big mouth sometimes, but then, I guess you know that by now.”
With an uneasy chuckle, he kissed her hair.
“No, you were right to tell me, even if you timing isn’t what I would
necessarily call appropriate.” She tilted her head up and gave him a tender
smile that didn’t quite match her serious gaze. “It’s not that I haven’t been
expecting the subject to come up, but you don’t meet many kids leading the life
I’ve led. And well, I’ve never really considered the possibility of meeting
someone and having them. The whole thing just took me a little off guard.”
“I know what you mean. Now, you know why I was so distant yesterday,
why I had to be alone. I had to sort out my feelings on the subject, too.”
He crouched down beside her, holding her green gaze in his. “Whatever you
decide, I’ll abide by it; it is your body, after all. But I had to let you
know how I felt; I just couldn’t stop myself.”
She closed her eyes. It scared her that he loved her so much. When
her father and his crew disappeared, she had lost the only family she knew, and
now this idiot wanted to start one with her. *I can’t. I just can’t. Not
now, anyway.*
Paris watched her silently. *She doesn’t want them,* he told himself.
*You’d better prepare yourself, old man.*
“Tom.” Caitlin kept her eyes closed; she couldn’t say this and look
him in the face. “I can’t. I can’t deal with the thought let alone the action
of having a child; not right now, at least.” Slowly she opened her eyes, her
heart screaming at the sight of the disappointment in his face. “I mean, maybe
if we are still together in a year or two, I’ll feel differently, but
everything is still so much up in the air. It just wouldn’t be fair to us or
to the child. I’m sorry.” Her hand reached out and stroked his cheek.
Tom caught her hand and kissed the center of her palm. “Cait, I told
you; if that’s your decision, I’ll live with it. I suppose in one sense a
maybe is better than a firm yes or no. After all, a lot of things have to be
considered, living arrangements, marriage, and some of those decisions have
to be cleared with the Captain first.”
“Exactly,” she agreed. “Things are still just too unsettled for me,
Tom. In a year or two, we could get home; we could still be on Voyager; we
could even decide to settle on some planet here. Waiting just seems to me to
be the right thing to do.” She shook her head. “I don’t know; maybe I’m just
making excuses to cover up my own fears.”
Standing up, Paris smiled sadly. “How come you always get to be the
practical one?”
“Because one of us has to be the dreamer, and you’re much better suited
for that role than I am.” Taking his hand, she gently brushed it with her
lips. “I love you, Thomas Eugene Paris, and don’t you ever forget that.”
He squeezed her fingers tightly. “I won’t,” he replied, gazing down
intently upon her.
Eager to break the tension of the moment, Caitlin took a deep breath,
and caused her eyes to begin to twinkle. “Now, that that’s settled; I’m
starved; when’s breakfast?”
For a moment, he stared at her in surprise as her playful words sunk
in. Then, his face broke into a huge grin, and he realized at that moment he
would do anything for her, including wait. “Do you want to go downstairs or
order room service?”
“Do you have to ask?” she smiled, her other hand stealing up to undo
the belt of his robe.

Harry opened his eyes slowly. The sun was peeking through the room
darkeners and hitting him straight in the face. B’Elanna’s head rested on his
chest, her arm draped across his stomach. Last night, gods, last night had
been incredible, and he knew this morning he was going to have aches in muscles
he didn’t even know existed. But it was worth it. He hadn’t felt his happy in
a long time.
He ran his tongue over his lower lip where she had first bitten him,
wondering where else he bore the scars of their first night together. *Oh,
yeah.* On his neck up by his jaw. *That must be a real beauty.* The one on
his chest; the one on the inside of his upper arm; the one on his thigh . . .
He had never realized that just the right amount of pain in the right spot
could be so arousing. *At least I left a few marks on her, too,* he thought
with some satisfaction, remembering the special places she had shown him on
her body.
B’Elanna stirred, her hair gently tickling his chest. With his free
hand, he traced the ridges of her forehead down her nose to the full lips
beneath. “Good morning, Maquis.”
She took his finger in her mouth, swirling her tongue around the tip
before releasing it. Her brown eyes shone softly, catching the shaft of
sunlight which was now crossing his chest. “Good morning yourself, Starfleet.
How are you doing?”
He grinned. “Well, that all depends, emotionally, I’m first-rate;
physically, that’s another story. You are fantastic.” His fingers clutched
her chin and guided her face up to his.
B’Elanna threw one leg over him and lay her petite, strong body on top
of his. “You’re not so bad yourself, Starfleet,” she responded, kissing him
deeply. “I’ve wanted to do this for quite sometime.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” he mumbled, tasting the small hollow at
the base of her neck.
She closed her eyes as his thumb and forefinger caressed her nipples
into two tight brown points. His touch was different than her other lovers;
they had all tried to appeal to her Klingon half. His gentle nature touched
her human side, as well; while his occasional outbursts of strength seemed to
satisfy her wilder desires. “Harry,” she breathed. “You know why I didn’t.
You were still in love with Libby, trying to be faithful to her. I admired you
for that. I-”
With a sudden burst of energy, Kim flipped her over on her back,
pinning her body beneath his. “I don’t want to talk about her now, B’Elanna;
I don’t really want to talk at all. You’re with me, now, and that’s all I
care about.” His teeth sank into her honey-colored skin, and she let out a
gasp of painful desire. *He’s learning,* they both thought silently.
“B’Elanna.” His breath was warm and arousing, and she let out a low
growl of delight.
“Let’s order up breakfast,” she suggested, her body arching up against
his. Surprised, he pulled his head up and stared at her in disbelief.
Laughing, she ran a tongue over her lips. “Relax, Starfleet. I was just
wondering what you would taste like with jelly.”

Caitlin and Tom sat in the lobby, his hand closed around hers; every
now and then, he would look at her and give it a small squeeze. “Where the
hell is Harry? We’ve got to be back on board in five minutes.”
She grinned. “Maybe he is otherwise occupied.”
Paris stared at her. “You don’t think that he and B’Elanna-?”
“Why not? I think they would make a good couple.”
“I suppose, and I know B’Elanna likes him, but I just don’t see Harry-”
“Shh!” Caitlin spotted the two exiting the nearby lift. B’Elanna
whispered something to him, and Harry incline his head to catch her words,
revealing a purplish mark right below his jaw. Caitlin’s grin broadened.
“Close your mouth, Paris; you’re letting bugs in.”
Tom did so, but the look of amazement remained on his face. “Um, ready
to go?” he asked as the new couple approached.
Harry looked at B’Elanna, who nodded. “Sure.”
“Paris to Voyager. Four to beam up.”
“Acknowledged. Energizing,” came the reply.
“Ah, home, sweet home,” Paris declared as the four of them stepped off
the platform. “Come on Harry. We’ve only got one minute before our shift
begins.” His hand grasped Caitlin’s briefly before he handed her his duffle.
“Do you mind?”
She shook her head. “Nope, you go on. You don’t want the Captain mad
at you.”
He grinned. “C’mon, Harry.”
Kim paused to give B’Elanna a quick kiss. “Lunch?” he asked hopefully.
“And dinner,” she responded with a smile.
The two women watched them head toward the nearby lift. “So do I get
my thanks, now?” Caitlin asked, casting a bemused glance at her friend.

The lift deposited the two officers quickly on the bridge, and each
headed for their respective stations.
“I trust you had a pleasant shore leave,” the Captain remarked,
patiently overlooking their almost tardiness.
“Yes, Captain,” Harry replied.
“Mr. Kim, were they any altercations while you were down there?”
inquired Tuvok.
Kim shook his head. “No, why?”
“I have observed that you have a bruise on your neck and a cut on your
lip; perhaps you should have them treated at sickbay.”
Instinctively, Harry’s hand flew to the purplish mark, his eyes opening
wide and his face turning a deep scarlet. Paris let out a loud guffaw from the
conn, while Chakotay’s shoulders began to shake in silent mirth. The Captain,
herself, fought hard to maintain her composure. “Do you require a trip to
sickbay, Mr. Kim?”
“No, Captain.” Harry had never wanted a hole to open beneath his feet
so badly in all his life, but he wasn’t about to hurt B’Elanna by having the
Doctor remove her marks. Silently, he wondered if Tuvok was developing a
perverse sense of humor under that stoical Vulcan countenance. “I’ll be fine.”
“Very well. Mr. Paris, set our course.”
“Course laid in, Captain,” he replied, a broad grin still on his face.
“Warp 7. Engage.”

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