Vows

From crime@acs.bu.edu Sat Feb 17 10:33:52 1996
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 09:42:33 -0500 (EST)
From: mary self
To: David Tremel
Cc: mary self
Subject: Vows

Disclaimers: see part 1 of the trilogy

Vows
Part II of The Onca and the Nightingale

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1995

Harry Kim threw himself onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. It
was 0300, and the party had just broken up. Tomorrow was the *big* day.
It felt like someone had shoved a tritanium beam in where his trapezius
muscles should be. And his stomach, gods, his stomach couldn’t have more
butterflies in it if he had eaten the entire insect population of Malkis IX.
He didn’t think he had been this nervous when he reported for duty on Voyager
three years ago. *Gods, has it really been that long?* he wondered.
For two years, he had tried to be faithful to Libby, and then she had
come along. He had been the one who found her, bloodied and burnt, in the
twisted wreckage of her family’s ship, and he had been the one who, with
B’Elanna’s help, had rebuilt her instrument. At first, they had simply played
together at Sandrine’s; two musicians sharing their artistic ideas. But some-
where over the past year, it had become more than that. *Which is funny,* he
mused. *Because I always assumed that she would end up with Tom.*
*Tom. Lieutenant Tom Paris. My best friend and now, my best man.*
Harry smiled to himself. *Somehow he’s always been there for me, ever since
we met on DS9 and he saved me from that Ferengi hustler.* His thoughts
trailed on.
Hell, if it hadn’t been for Tom, he probably wouldn’t be marrying Mylaa
now. Tom had been the one who had encouraged Harry to forget about Libby.

“Harry, Harry, Harry.” Tom shook his head in that all-too-familiar
manner of disbelief and disgust. “You can’t go on carrying a torch for
Libby forever. What if we never get home? What if that great cosmic
jokester called Fate has decided that your path lies in a different direction
from hers?”
Tom stooped to pick up his towel. They had just finished a two game
set of raquetball on the holodeck; each winning a game a piece.
“If you like someone on board, go after her,” he continued. “It
doesn’t make sense for a good-looking guy like yourself to waste away on a
memory of what might have been. So tell me; who is she?” he teased.
“B’Elanna? Ensign Simons?” An evil grin spread across his face. “I know,
it’s the Captain.”
“Yeah, right. Actually, I’m not after her; I’m only after a promotion,
so that I can obtain my all-consuming dream of becoming an admiral by the time
I’m thirty-five.” Harry’s sarcastic retort reflected the older man’s
pervading influence.
“Admiral of what?” Tom chuckled. “The large Starfleet presence in the
Delta Quadrant? Seriously though, who is she?” A troubling thought passed
through his mind. *Oh gods, please don’t let it be-*
“It’s Mylaa.” Harry looked down, somehow embarrassed by this simple
declaration. He didn’t see the fleeting look of jealousy which crossed
Tom’s face.
“Listen, Tom. I know you two were getting close for a while. So if
you want me to back off. . . ”
“Close?” Tom snorted. “Harry, she was going through some rough times
after the attack. Chakotay and I just helped her through them. That’s all;
there’s nothing more to tell. Really.” He hoped he sounded convincing.
“Look, like I said, if you want her go for it. If it doesn’t work out there
are always the Delaney sisters.” Tom forced a grin.
The younger man smiled. “No thanks, I learned my lesson in Venice,”
he replied.

A few days later at their usual rehearsal, Harry finally screwed up
the courage to ask Mylaa out. He felt so silly and nervous.
*Why are you so jumpy? It isn’t like this is the first girl you’ve
ever asked for a date. I mean, look at Libby. No, stupid, don’t look at
Libby, it’ll only-*
“Harry.” Mylaa’s voice cut short his thoughts. “Is something wrong?
That’s the third time you’ve missed my cue.”
“Huh, what? Oh, I’m sorry.” *Way to go, Romeo.*
“Harry, if something is wrong or if you’d rather not rehearse today,
it’s okay. You can tell me; I’ll understand. Besides, some people have told
me I make a pretty good listener.”
His continued silence made her nervous. She reached out for him.
“Harry, please. If something is really wrong, maybe I can help.”
He grasped her hand. “Nothing’s wrong. It’s just that-” *C’mon kid,
spit it out.* “It’s just that I was wondering if maybe you’d like to have
dinner with me tomorrow night in, uh, my quarters?”
“Harry.” Her voice was soft, and a light flush crept over her face and
down her neck. “I’d love to.”
His knees almost buckled underneath him. “Great! How about I pick you
up at 1900?”
“I’ll be ready.”
The rest of their rehearsal had been tension-filled, and the next
evening was a disaster. Neelix had fixed an appalling dish, which disgusted
them both. Harry had spilled his drink on her, and she had tripped over a
chair, sending them both sprawling on the floor. For the sake of safety, they
had decided to call it an early night.

“I don’t understand what happened.” Harry found himself saying to Tom
the next day.
“It sound as if the stars were just against you last night.” Tom
replied, ashamed that within him a small voice was cheering. “Better
luck, next time.”
“Next time?! There isn’t going to be any next time.”
“Harry, Harry, Harry-”
“Oh, don’t give me that `Harry, Harry, Harry’. Would you want to
humiliate yourself a second time in front of the woman you love?” *Love?
Where the hell did that come from?* he wondered.
“Love?” Tom echoed. “Harry, are you serious? You’ve barely been on
one date with her, and you’ve only known her a few months.”
“I know, I mean, I don’t know. Oh hell, I don’t know anything
anymore.” He stabbed his fork viciously into a piece of meat.
“Harry, if you do love her then you’ve got to ask her out again, or you
will never know if she feels the same. And if she does-” Tom stopped. He
couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence. The picture that had just
passed through his mind seized his gut and twisted it into a painful knot.
Paris grimaced ever so slightly. *My best friend and the woman that I love; it
figures. and just when I thought my life was looking up.*
“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t have a choice, do I?” Harry looked at
his plate of food; it had lost all its taste. “I’d better be going; I’ve got
to run a level 2 diagnostic on the main reaction control system.”
Tom stared at his friend’s departing back. *Damn you Dad! Damn Ricki!
Damn prison!* In spite of all the therapy and talks with his animal guide,
revealing his true feelings to Mylaa had been one rubicon that he had been
unable to cross.
*Thanks, Dad.* He told the stoic image in his head. *You got me so
good at hiding my feelings that I’m going to lose her to Harry.* He closed his
eyes. Harry had always been there for him. He remembered how the young ensign
had stood by him when they first came aboard, even to the point of ignoring the
warnings given to him by Commander Cavit and Doctor Fitzgerald, “I owe him,”
Tom said quietly.
“Something wrong with the food, Lieutenant?” Neelix’s voice interrupted
Tom’s train of thought.
“No.” Paris pushed away the tray of food and stood up. “I guess I’m
just not hungry,” he said as he strode out of the mess.

“And then, I forgot he had moved the chair, and tripped, bringing him
down with me.” Mylaa shook her head. “Kes, I just don’t understand what
happened. I mean, when we play together, there is a connection, an
understanding, but last night, it was like we were two strangers.”
Kes tried to suppress the giggle which was threatening to erupt. “It
sounds to me like you were both nervous, and in a sense, you were strangers.
This was your first date, even if you have been friends for a while.” She
grasped Mylaa’s hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Give it time; I’m sure
things will work out.”
Mylaa thougth a minute. “Looking at it that way,” she said finally.
“You’re probably right. Especially the part about being friends; we both may
have expected too much from last night. Maybe I’ll ask him to go for a walk on
the holodeck later, so we can talk. Kes, you’re wonderful,” she exclaimed,
giving her friend a hug.
The Ocampan smiled modestly. “I’m glad I could help.”

After dinner, Mylaa stood waiting for the turbolift, rehearsing what
she wanted to say. She heard the doors open, and someone bumped into her.
“Mylaa!” Harry exclaimed, catching her arm. “I’m sorry; I was just
coming to see you.”
“And I was coming to see you.”
They both laughed nervously.
“Mylaa.” “Harry.”
“You first,” she insisted.
“No, you first.”
“All right,” she smiled, flustered by the unexpected turn of events.
“I was wondering if maybe you’d like to take a walk on the holodeck with me, so
we could talk.”
Harry looped her arm around his. “You’re not going to believe this,
but I was coming to ask you the same thing. Let’s go.”

“Computer, run program Kim, Icor IX.”
“Program running, you may enter when ready,” the computer responded.
“Icor IX?” Mylaa asked at they entered.
“It’s a wilderness planet back in the Alpha Quadrant. A friend of mine
who was studying botany at the Academy dragged me there on a camping trip
during one of our breaks. All the facilities, except one hotel complex, are
underground. There are no city lights; so at night, the entire galaxy opens up
above you.”
Mylaa listened. She heard running water, the soft rustle of leaves,
and a few animal calls. “Do I hear a waterfall?”
“Umm-hmm.” Harry affirmed. “Some people like the Janarian Falls on
Betazed, but I prefer the intimacy of this smaller fall and pool. Here, step
up and up again. Now, kneel down and stick out your hand.”
“Oooo. The water is warmer than I expected.” Mylaa smiled as the
sparkling liquid flowed over her fingers.
“That’s because the source is a warm spring upstream.” He sat down
beside her. “Now feel this.”
“It’s soft, almost like an animal’s fur.”
“Close.” Harry laughed. “It’s what I call a furry fern. There’s some
long scientific name, but furry fern always sticks in my mind.” He paused
and looked at her, the moonlight illuminating her face. “Its leaves are almost
the same colour as your eyes.”
“Is that a compliment or an insult?” she teased.
“It’s a compliment. Your eyes are lovely colour; something we call
hazel. Sort of a mixture of brown and green,” he added.
“Really? You know, no one has ever told me what colour my eyes were.”
A wistful look appeared on her face. “I suppose they always thought it was
unnecessary since I have no frame of reference upon which to base colours.”
Harry felt his face flush. “I-I’m sorry.” he stammered. “I didn’t
mean to- It’s just that you handle yourself so well and do so many things that
I forget. . . Oh hell! I seem to be only digging myself in deeper.”
“Harry, it’s all right. You didn’t upset me.” She smiled. “I’m glad
you’re comfortable enough with me to make such a statement. Others always tip-
toe around the subject of my eyes not realizing that I am curious about such
things as my hair and eye colour.” Mylaa paused. “Harry, what colour is
my hair?”
“It’s brown, but its got strands of gold in it, too, which,” he
swallowed nervously. “Catch beautifully in this moonlight.”
She shifted her position, allowing her legs to rest on a lower stone.
Embarrassed by the vanity of her next question, she whispered, “Would humans
consider me attractive?”
“Beautiful.” he said before he caught himself. He cleared his throat.
“I mean, I think most human males would consider you attractive.”
Mylaa reached her hand up towards his face. “What colour are you
eyes?” she asked gently tracing the outline of his face.
“Brown.”
“And your hair?”
“Dark brown, almost black.” He closed his eyes as her fingertips
caressed his cheek. *Oh gods, could it be?* he wondered. *She looks so
lovely, just like when she plays.*
“Harry, what are you thinking?”
“Hmmm?”
“I said, what are you thinking?”
He opened his eyes. Her hands were in her lap, although he would’ve
sworn they were still touching his face. “I was thinking about how you look
when you play the aleel.”
Mylaa cocked her head to one side. “How do you mean?”
“Well, at times, your face is the picture of serenity, and you look
completely at peace with yourself and the world around you. At other times,
it’s the exact opposite. An intensity fills your movements and you flush
slightly in the face and along the sides of your neck. It’s really quite
attractive.” *And arousing,* he added silently.
She raised her hands up to her neck and blushed ever so slightly.
“Kera’anians do that. It indicates excitement and in certain instances, um,
sexual receptivity.”
Harry looked at her a moment before taking her face in his hands.
“So if I do this.” She felt his lips fall gently on hers. “And this.” His
tongue began to coax her lips apart. “I might get the same response?”
Mylaa extended her tongue to meet his. He moved with a tender surety
that she hadn’t expected, and she felt the flush begin.
Harry opened his own eyes long enough to peek at her neck and
shoulders, and noticed a very light pink strip of flesh which seemed to be
growing darker. Moving from her lips to her ear, he started to slowly trace
the line with his lips, tongue and teeth.
Mylaa’s heart was pounding. All of her senses were centered on the
soft pressure of his mouth on her skin. *It has been so long since-* She felt
his hands move to unzip her shirt. “Harry.” She pushed gently against his
chest. “In here?”
“I can engage the privacy lock.” he murmured in her ear. *Don’t say
stop,* he prayed silently. *Please, Mylaa; I don’t think I can.*
“Harry.” She pushed harder. “Harry, please; I’d rather go back to
your room.”
“My room?” He pulled away, memories from last night intruding on his
pleasure. “Why? After last night fiasco?”
Mylaa raised a hand to his face and guided it back to hers. “Let’s see
if we can’t break the jinx,” she whispered against his lips.

His cabin was only two decks away from the holodeck, but it seemed like
it took forever to get there. He set the privacy lock, hoping that Tom
would have better sense than to break-in again. Turning around, he saw her
standing in the middle of the room; her face displayed the same sensuous
excitement he felt.
“Harry-”
His mouth closed over hers silencing whatever she had wanted to say.
The pink flesh on her neck beckoned to him, however, and once again his lips
began their journey.
She rolled her head to one side, exposing her neck as much as possible,
as a small moan escaped her lips. Pulling on the zipper, she opened the front
of his uniform.
Without leaving her neck, Harry dropped his arms by his side so that
she could extricate his upper body from the jumpsuit. Urged on by their
desire, they quickly undressed each other, and stood in the center of his room
for several minutes, exploring each other with their hands. Then, Harry picked
Mylaa up and carried her to his bed.

“Time is 0530,” the computer chirped.
“Computer, discontinue alarm.” Harry muttered sleepily, snuggling
into Mylaa’s back. She felt so nice to hold; he didn’t want to get up.
She stirred in his arms and yawned. Turning on her back, she freed her
left hand to touch his face and bring his lips to hers. “Time to get up,”
she whispered.
“Unh-unh, you feel too good to leave.” He pulled her closer.
“But what about the ship? How will they run it without you?” Her
voice assumed a tone of mock distress.
“Mmmm, I guess they’ll have to learn,” he replied, kissing her ear and
neck. “Because I’ve got more important things to do.” He moved atop her.
“Such as?” she giggled, putting he arms around her neck.
Harry raised up on his elbows and thought. “Well, I should run a
level 1 diagnostic on the emitter array; it’ll take me at least four hours,
maybe more.”
“Really, Anything else?”
“Oh, yeah,” he continued. “There’s also the level 4 diagnostic that I
have to run on the primary and tactical systems, and I was also thinking of
running an holographic experiment to see if I could boost the efficiency of the
optical subprocessors.”
“Oh, is that all?” Mylaa tried her best to sound bored. “And here I
was going to suggest we take a nice leisurely shower together and then get
some breakfast, if there is time,” she added wickedly. “But I’m sure the
emitter array is far more interesting than I am.”
“You think so, huh?” He smiled and kissed her. “C’mon. I wonder what
Neelix has for breakfast?”

By 0630, they arrived in the mess and sat down together at an empty
table. B’Elanna strolled in a few minutes later and joined them.
“You two look awfully happy; what’s up?”
“Nothing,” Harry grinned, giving Mylaa’s hand a squeeze. “We’re just
both in a good mood this morning.”
“Mmm-hmm. And I bet I can figure out why,” she smiled.
Harry and Mylaa both blushed. “Is it that obvious?” Mylaa asked.
“Only to someone who’s never met you. I think everyone else on board
has been expecting you two to get together since the day you arrived, Mylaa.”
B’Elanna winked at Harry knowingly. “Oh, Harry, before I forget. The Captain
has given us permission to take the array off-line for the diagnostic. I told
her we could be done in three hours; what do you think?”
Mylaa didn’t hear Harry’s response. Kes had come up and sat down
beside her. “I’m glad to see things are better between you and Ensign Kim.”
She gave Mylaa a playful dig in the ribs and giggled.
Mylaa laughed in response. “Oh you don’t how much better things are,”
she whispered.
“Hey, who forgot to invite me to the party?” Tom asked as he
approached the full table.
“No one.” Harry grinned. “Pull up a chair and join us. B’Elanna and
I are going to be running a level 1 diagnostic on the emitter array.
It shouldn’t effect conn, but you should know anyway.”
“Okay, now I know.” Paris gave Harry a funny look. “Harry, I stopped
by your quarters last night to see if you wanted to play a late game of pool,
but your door was locked and you didn’t respond to the chime. What was up?”
“Oh, nothing.” Harry tried to sound casual, while B’Elanna almost
choked on her coffee. “I just didn’t want to be disturbed, that’s all.”
Tom looked at his friend’s face and then at Mylaa’s. *Could they?
Oh Gods! No!* The realization of what must have happened hit him, and it felt
like someone had thrust a d’k tahg in his gut. Maintaining his grin, he pushed
his plate of food away. “You know something told me not to pick your lock
last night.”
“Janeway to all senior officers, report to the briefing room.”
*Thank the gods for small miracles.* Tom thought as he stood up and
quickly walked out of the mess. He didn’t want to see Harry kiss her good-bye.
Kes watched him leave with B’Elanna and Harry close behind. Tom’s face
had never revealed the pain she knew he had felt. *He loves her, too,* she
thought.

Paris paced up and down in his quarters. *Thomas, you have got to get
control of yourself.*
Ever since breakfast, the day had gotten progressively worse.
He hadn’t been able to keep his mind on his work, and Captain Janeway had
to repeat orders to him on three different occasions. He sat down on his bed.
*Not good, Thomas, not good. Keep this up and she might relieve you for good.*
The door chimed. He took a deep breath and stood up. “Yes?”
“How are you doing, Tom?” Kes entered, on her face was a look of
intense concern. “Harry came by sickbay to see if you had stopped by. He said
something about the Captain relieving you from your duties today because you
aren’t feeling well.”
So, Harry had noticed; he had rather hoped against all hope that not
many people had. “Yeah, but once I left the bridge, I felt a little better so
I decided to just come here and take a nap.” He tried to force a smile, but
wasn’t successful.
Kes shook her head. “Tom, that isn’t it and you know it. I felt your
pain at breakfast this morning. You’re in love with Mylaa,too, aren’t you?”
Tom stared at her, terrified that his best guarded wall of defense had
been breached.
“It’s okay,” she continued. “You didn’t reveal it at the table to any-
one else; your face never lost its expression. My empathic abilities were only
able to pick up your pain because it was so intense.” She paused. “You’ve
become very good at hiding your feelings from others, haven’t you?”
He sat down on the bed and put his head in his hands. “Yeah,” he said
after a while. “I’ve had lots of practice.”
Kes sat down next to him and put her arm around his shoulders. “Tom,
you’ve got to tell Mylaa. She deserves to know.”
“No!” He stood up and took a few steps before turning back to her.
“I won’t put her in the position of having to choose, and I won’t hurt Harry
by doing it, either. Kes, if I haven’t been able to get up the courage to let
her in that’s my problem. I’m not going to let my best friend and the woman I
love suffer for it.”
“I don’t understand, Tom. Why haven’t you been able to tell her?
Those other girlfriends you talk about. . .”
“Ricki was the last girl I let in. I trusted her, Kes; with her, I
thought I had finally found someone who would be there for me when I needed
her. I had never really had that before. Then, after the trial stripped me
of my commission, I looked around and she was nowhere to be found. She had
decided some other up and coming Starfleet officer made a better catch than I
did.” He shook his head. “You know, I don’t know who I hated more, her for
leaving me or myself for being foolish enough to trust someone like that.”
Kes nodded. While she didn’t have access to his complete medical file,
she did know that Tom had received some psycho-therapy from the Doctor during
a difficult period about a year and a half ago. Whatever he had been through
in his younger years, clearly still effected him now.
“Mylaa was different,” he continued. “I think I fell in love with her
when I first heard her sing, and then, she went through her rough patches. She
needed help, but she was too proud to admit it. It was almost like watching
myself.”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “Kes, I told her everything about
myself; I trusted her that much. Somehow though, I couldn’t bring myself to
trust her with the knowledge of how I felt about her. Hell, I still can’t;
only now it doesn’t matter because it’s too late. Harry loves her, and he has
been too good a friend for me to deny him this. Besides, he’ll make a better
husband and father than I ever could.
Paris sat down beside her. “Kes, please promise you won’t tell
her, or anyone.” His face, suddenly aged by pain, pleaded with her.
Placing a hand on his arm, she returned his gaze. “I promise, but
someday Tom, you will be repaid for all the pain you’ve gone through. You have
to believe that.”
He managed a half-smile. “Unh-hunh, sure. You got any idea when?”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry.”
He took a deep breath. “Well, in the meantime, I should get used to
the idea of seeing them together. I can’t hide in here forever, and I sure
can’t lose my position at conn. Hell, it’s about all I have left.” *At least
until we get back to Federation space, and then, I’ll lose that, too.* he
thought grimly.
“Tom, if you ever need someone to talk to,” Kes began.
“I know who to call.” He flashed her his best flirtatious grin.
“Thanks, Kes. It actually feels a little better just being able to tell some-
one this. Now, if you don’t mind, I really would like to try and get some
sleep.” He moved further up on the bed, resting his head on the pillow.
She knew he still needed to talk, but he would have to realize this for
himself before she or anyone else could help him. Frowning, Kes stood up
and left the room.
As he lay on his bed, an image of Harry and Mylaa together appeared
in front of him, and a small groan of pain escaped from his chest. Turning
over on his side, he shut his eyes and felt the first tear roll down his cheek
onto the pillow.

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