"Mr. Paris, please be careful with that container."

The Doctor strode purposefully across sickbay with a very worried look on his holographic face.

"I'm always careful, Doc. Careful's my middle name," Tom replied cockily, placing the silver canister that he'd been holding on a small table near the door.

"Really Lieutenant? I thought your middle name was Eugene. And I'm quite sure that translates as *a disaster waiting to happen*," the Doctor retorted as he snatched the container up and walked into his office.

"Hey, that's not fair," Tom said as he followed the disgruntled EMH. "I haven't messed up anything for ages."

He stopped just inside the doorway, his hands on his hips and a scowl on his flushed face. The Doctor whirled around to face the indignant pilot.

"Maybe so. But I have no doubt that this run of good fortune will end soon. This is just the calm before the storm," he stated, then placed the shiny canister on his otherwise empty desk and sat down in his chair.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence! When I need another morale boost, I'll know where to come!" Tom replied, almost shouting.

He stepped forward, placing his hands on the desk as he continued his tirade. "I've been working here for weeks without any mishaps, in between ferrying away teams to that mud ball of a planet, and what have you been doing? You've just been waiting for me to do something wrong! You're not happy unless I'm seen as some kind of incompetent lackey!"

"What's this all about?"

The voice came from behind Tom. Neither he nor the Doctor had heard the door swish open and Tom jumped up, startled.

"Commander!" Tom exclaimed as he spun around. His hand clipped the canister and, before anyone could react, it toppled over and rolled across the desk, falling heavily to the floor.

"There!" the Doctor crowed triumphantly. "I knew it was too good to last!" He bent down to retrieve the canister, then his expression changed to one of concern. "Computer. Seal the doors to sickbay and erect a level five biohazard containment field. This area is to remain quarantined for the next six hours," he ordered as he resealed the container that had broken open on impact with the floor.

"What's the matter, Doctor?" Chakotay asked as the EMH turned towards him. "What was in that container?"

"An experimental substance that I've been working on. It's an airborne biological mood enhancer," the Doctor answered. He deposited the container in a nearby box that held similar objects and closed it up.

"Is it dangerous?" the Commander asked worriedly.

"No, not dangerous, just untested as yet," the Doctor replied, sitting back down in his chair and looking from one man to the other.

"So why the quarantine?" Tom demanded. "And why would you want to experiment with a mood enhancer anyway?"

"Good questions, Lieutenant," Chakotay remarked, nodding at Tom. "Doctor?" he questioned, turning his attention to the EMH.

"Well, I thought it might be useful if we ever encountered another void. A large number of the crew suffered from depression and other assorted and related ailments the last time. I thought this might possibly stave off a repeat of that situation."

"But why the quarantine?" Tom persisted.

"Because it still needs refining. At the moment it doesn't just enhance a feeling of well-being, my studies show it could possibly create a condition similar to inebriation. Not something we need the entire crew to experience all at once. And there could be side effects that I haven't predicted, although I'm certain that none of them would be harmful."

"Great," Tom remarked softly as he sank down into a nearby chair.

The pilot repeatedly ran his fingers through his blond hair, alternately mussing it up and then smoothing it out. Chakotay studied Tom carefully for a few moments before shifting his gaze back to the EMH.

"Well, Doctor," the Commander began. "I suggest you make a full report to the Captain. She's going to want to know why sickbay's been quarantined and why her First Officer and Senior Pilot won't be on the bridge for their shifts. I'll let you explain."

"Mm, yes. I suppose I should do that. I'll have the computer transport my mobile emitter and I'll set up a temporary sickbay elsewhere. You gentlemen will have to remain here. Although, if you experience any problems comm me and I'll come straight back."

Chakotay and Tom watched as the Doctor gave his commands to the computer, then disappeared as he went off-line. The emitter that he'd placed on the desk was transported seconds later.

"Six hours in sickbay," Chakotay muttered as he wandered out of the Doctor's office. He seated himself on the edge of one of the beds and sighed.

"It could be worse, y'know," Tom said as he came to stand in front of the Commander.

"Could it?" Chakotay asked, focusing on Tom's face.

"Yeah, you could be stuck in here with Tuvok," Tom replied, smiling at the older man.

Chakotay grinned, then stretched out on the bed. "You're right," he agreed "That would be worse."

Tom stood staring down at the relaxed man laying in front of him. Chakotay's eyes were closed and a small smile was still playing about his lips. Tom's mind returned to their away mission together two weeks previously.

He could still see the Commander's naked body glowing in the light from the fire; in fact Tom had relived that moment in his dreams many times since. He'd hoped to pursue some of the ideas he'd had then. He'd wanted to find out whether Chakotay might be interested in him or if he'd just imagined the older man's attraction.

As yet, though, Tom hadn't had time to investigate his suspicions. The Captain had had him piloting the shuttle for the other exploration teams that had been sent down. That, and his shifts in sickbay, had left him with no time for personal pursuits and his and Chakotay's paths had rarely crossed.

"What's on your mind Tom?" Chakotay asked softly, breaking through the younger man's thoughts.

Tom came back to the present and noticed that the Commander's warm, dark eyes were trained on his face. "Nothing really. Just thinking about that away mission we went on."

"Thank you for not mentioning my embarrassing moment to anyone, Tom. I appreciate it," Chakotay said quietly as he sat up.

"You're welcome, Commander," Tom replied, smiling.

"Chakotay," the older man corrected him. "I think we can consider ourselves off duty for now."

"Okay, Chakotay it is."


Chakotay swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up, albeit shakily.

"Are you okay?" Tom asked as he noticed the First Officer sway slightly.

"I feel a little dizzy," Chakotay replied, closing his eyes as the room appeared to him to be spinning.

Tom took hold of Chakotay's shoulders and pushed gently until the older man was once again sitting on the bed. "I think you should stay put," he suggested. "It must be the effects of whatever was in that container."

"Is it affecting you?" Chakotay asked, reaching out to rest his hand on Tom's upper arm.

"No, not yet," Tom answered softly. 'But you are,' he thought as the warmth from Chakotay's hand filtered through his uniform sleeve.

"Are you sure, Tom? You look a bit flushed," Chakotay commented. "Come and sit down next to me."

"I don't think that'll help," Tom blurted out before he'd even realised that he was speaking. It sank in at Chakotay's next words.

"Why won't it help?" the older man asked with concern, his hand tightening its grip on Tom's arm.

Tom felt his face grow redder at the increased contact and he swallowed heavily as he gazed at the floor.


Chakotay moved his hand to Tom's chin and gently lifted the pilot's head. He noticed the nervousness apparent in Tom's bright, blue eyes and he frowned slightly.

"What's the matter?" he asked worriedly. "You look scared. What is it?"

Tom felt all his emotions bubble up inside him as he stared into compassionate brown eyes. He wasn't sure if he was suddenly feeling very bold, or if the Doctor's experimental substance was finally infiltrating his system, but at that moment he decided it was the time to confess his feelings to the Commander. He took a deep breath, his eyes closing briefly before returning to Chakotay's worried face.

"You're right, I am scared," Tom said quietly.

"Of what?" Chakotay asked before Tom had time to continue.

"You," Tom replied, nervously running his fingers through his hair.

Chakotay gripped Tom's shoulders and pulled him to stand closer. "Why would you be scared of me, Tom? I'd never do anything to harm you," the Commander said with a trace of hurt in his voice. "Tell me what's wrong. Please."

"Can I show you instead?" Tom asked as he stepped even nearer to the older man. He'd decided that if this was to be his one chance of laying his emotions bare, then he was going to make the most of it.

"Show me what, Tom?" Chakotay asked as he felt the heat from Tom's body wash over him.

"This," Tom replied and placed his hands either side of Chakotay's face.

He leaned in then and sought out the Commander's soft lips with his own, kissing him with all the passion that had been building since they had first met. Tom had only recently acknowledged his feelings for the dark-haired man but he realised now that the attraction had always been there.

He moaned softly as Chakotay wound strong arms around him and deepened the kiss further. One part of his brain registered the fact that he was being kissed as much as he was kissing and the euphoria it provoked found its way to his lips, encouraging him onwards. His hands slid round to the back of Chakotay's neck and played with the silky, black hair there as the kiss continued.

Chakotay shifted slightly on the bed until he was almost standing again. He parted his legs and pulled Tom even closer, groaning as their bodies connected from lips to groin and their erections met through their uniform pants.

"Oh God," Tom moaned as he broke away. He rested his head on Chakotay's shoulder as he struggled for breath.

"Is this what you were scared of?" Chakotay murmured as he nuzzled at Tom's neck and nipped lightly at the pale skin.

"I was scared that you wouldn't feel the same way, that you wouldn't return my interest. I was afraid that you'd reject me," Tom confessed as Chakotay nibbled his way to the pilot's chin, vaguely astounded at how easily the words had just tumbled out without thought.

"Then that makes two of us," Chakotay answered softly, slowly stroking Tom's back.

"You thought I would reject you?" Tom asked with amazement as he moved to look into the older man's eyes.

"I wasn't sure, Tom," Chakotay sighed. "I got the feeling down on that planet that you were interested in me, I just wasn't sure how interested."

"I'm very interested, in case you hadn't noticed," Tom replied with a grin. He brushed his fingers across Chakotay's cheek as he gazed longingly at the man who had been inhabiting his dreams.

"I'm glad," Chakotay smiled back. "But," he added as his face turned more serious. "Are you interested in a relationship or were you just considering a fling? Because I'll be honest with you, Tom, I was hoping for something long term."

"So was I," Tom answered softly and placed a small kiss on the older man's cheek.

Chakotay closed his eyes as Tom's mouth travelled to his neck, leaving a trail of warm kisses in its wake. The room no longer appeared to him to be spinning, instead he was now infused with a heady, warm glow that was spreading rapidly throughout his body.

He pulled Tom to him until their bodies connected once more and he recaptured the younger man's lips with his own. As the kiss became more and more passionate, the men began to eagerly explore each other's bodies with their hands.

Tom groaned as he felt Chakotay's fingers caressing his hips before they stroked their way to the waistband of his pants. The hands moved to the front, finding the fastening and quickly undoing it. Tom felt a rush of cool air across his penis as it was gently released from its confines, then hot fingers closed around it.

"Oh, please!" he begged as his head swam with pleasure at the longed for contact. "Please, Chakotay."

The older man slid carefully off the bed, sinking slowly to his knees in front of the highly aroused pilot.

As Tom gazed down at the strong man kneeling at his feet, his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. Chakotay leaned forward, taking the tip of Tom's penis into his mouth and Tom cried out loudly. Chakotay smiled to himself, then took Tom in deeper as he gently caressed the younger man's balls. Tom groaned again and spread his legs as far as his pants would allow, trying to give Chakotay better access.

"That feels so good," Tom panted as Chakotay began to suck more forcefully. The older man's fingers worked their way to the back of Tom's thighs, then upwards to explore between his cheeks. "Yes!" Tom ground out as a finger entered him.

He thrust forwards into Chakotay's mouth as the finger worked its way deeper. Tom gripped the dark head at his groin as he increased his thrusts and Chakotay inserted another finger.

"Oh God, Cha. I can't last! I can't!" Tom cried out. His climax hit him, and he exploded into the warmth of Chakotay's mouth. The older man held on, sucking every last drop from the panting pilot, then stood up to kiss Tom soundly.

"I want you Tom," Chakotay whispered as the kiss ended.

"Then take me," Tom whispered back.

His gaze drifted to a tray close to the bed and a small pot of ointment that sat there. "Use this," he said, picking it up and placing it in Chakotay's hand. "Now, Cha."

Tom turned to lean over the bed, his pants pooled at his feet. He sighed with pleasure as he felt soft kisses being placed on his back and cheeks, strong hands rubbing gently at his hips and thighs.

Chakotay gazed down at the body being so willingly offered to him. He felt as though he was in a different world, a place where dreams came true.

He covered his fingers with the cool ointment and pushed gently into Tom's partially prepared opening. Tom's muscles relaxed instantly and Chakotay quickly undid his own pants, coating his throbbing erection with the cream. He gripped Tom's thighs as he pressed slowly into the younger man. Further and further he pushed, until he was buried deep inside.

"This is where I belong, Tom," Chakotay murmured as he leaned forward to cover Tom's body with his own. "You're so hot. So tight," he continued as he began to move. "You feel so good."

He thrust harder and faster, his panting breaths tickling Tom's neck.

"I want to take you again and again, Tom. I want you to belong to me and only me. I want..." His voice trailed off as he thrust forcefully once more, coming with a violent shudder before collapsing on top of Tom.

Tom could feel Chakotay's rapid heartbeat pulsing against his back and the man's laboured breathing against his neck. Tom lay still a moment, trying to catch his own breath, then tried to move out from under the spent older man. As he shifted to the side, Chakotay suddenly slid to the floor, banging his head as he fell. Tom bent quickly to the unconscious man, hitting his comm badge as he knelt down.

"Paris to the Doctor," he called as he refastened first Chakotay's pants, and then his own.

"Yes, Mr. Paris, what is it?" came the impatient voice of the EMH.

"It's Chakotay. He's unconscious," Tom answered worriedly.

"I'll be right there, Mr. Paris. Doctor out."

Tom stroked Chakotay's face as he waited for the Doctor's arrival.

"What happened, Lieutenant?" the Doctor asked as he materialised next to Tom.

"I don't know. We were.... He fell and hit his head." Tom replied nervously.

"Hmm. Well, help me get him onto the bed and I'll run some scans."

They carefully lifted the unresponsive First Officer and placed him on the bed that he'd previously sat on.

"His heart rate is very high," the Doctor commented as he began his scans. "Perhaps you can tell me how that came about, Mr. Paris? Was the Commander agitated?"

"No, he wasn't. Far from it," Tom answered as he took in the still form on the bed.

"Well, something caused his heart rate to rocket and... Hmm, I see. Well, you don't need to answer that question now, Lieutenant. I think, from these readings, I have a pretty good idea what activity you were both engaged in."

Tom blushed as the Doctor gave him a disdainful look before turning back to the monitors.

"Will he be out long?" Tom asked with concern.

"It's hard to tell at this stage," the EMH replied as he turned to face the Lieutenant. "The mood enhancer that was present in his system was pumped rapidly throughout his body as his heart rate increased. It would appear that the Commander is suffering from something akin to an alcohol-induced coma."

"He's in a coma?" Tom repeated, looking horrified.

"Yes, Lieutenant. And there is no way of knowing how long it will last, or exactly what damage may have been caused. Only time will tell."

Tom stared down at his new lover laying silently on the bed, his dark hair still damp from the exertions of their joining. The pilot closed his eyes as feelings of love mixed with guilt washed over him.

"Please be okay, Cha," he whispered. "Please."

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