"What's happened Doctor?" Janeway asked as the alarm that had delayed her exit from sickbay was silenced and quiet was restored.
"What? Oh, Captain, you're still here," the EMH remarked as he turned to face her.
"Of course I'm still here," Janeway stated as she approached the hologram. "If an alarm goes off as I reach the door, then I'm hardly likely to leave, now am I?"
"Mm, no, I suppose not," the Doctor replied, casually.
"So what happened?" the Captain asked again. She placed her hands on her hips as she stared at the infuriating Chief Medical Officer.
"Happened?" the EMH said quizzically. "What do you mean?"
Janeway sighed in frustration and waved her hands in the direction of the monitors. "The alarm! Why did it go off?" she asked impatiently.
"Oh, that. Yes, well... Um, you see..." the Doctor stammered. "It had nothing to do with the Commander or Mr. Paris."
"Then what was it?" Janeway enquired with exasperation. She was quickly reaching her limit for dealing with him.
"A personal reminder," the Doctor replied, bowing his head slightly. "You see, I'm expecting company shortly and I wanted to make sure I was ready in time. So I set the alarm."
Janeway shook her head in disbelief, then walked back towards the door. "I'll be on the bridge," she said curtly. She left, muttering to herself about a certain hologram being too sentient, or not sentient enough - she couldn't decide.
As the door closed, the Doctor turned back to the monitors and checked them one more time. There was no change in the readings so the EMH left Chakotay and Tom laying peacefully on neighbouring beds and went into his office. As he checked his appearance in a mirror that he'd pulled out of his desk drawer, the outer door opened again. This time to admit his awaited visitor.
"Ah, Seven! What a pleasant surprise," the Doctor gushed as he turned to face the ex-Borg.
"Hardly a surprise, Doctor, since I am here to participate in your research at your invitation," Seven replied matter-of-factly.
"Yes, well thank you for agreeing to help. I'm sure, by working together, we will be able to make progress," the EMH answered, smiling.
Seven tilted her head slightly. "I am certain you are correct," she said, moving to the computer terminal. "I suggest we begin by reviewing your data."
"Of course," the Doctor agreed. "Let's get started."
"Tom's in a coma too?" B'Elanna asked in disbelief.
She sank down into the seat next to Harry in the corner of the quiet mess hall and placed her coffee on the table.
"Yeah," Harry replied, rubbing his hand across his forehead. "Tuvok found him earlier this morning. The Captain will probably give us the details later."
"I knew something was wrong with him!" B'Elanna said emphatically. "He's been odd all week."
"Actually, I've been thinking about that," Harry said with a slight frown. "I don't think it was just the accident that affected him."
"Why, what else could it be?" B'Elanna asked, puzzled.
"I don't know exactly but I'm sure there's something. Tom started acting a bit strange after he and Chakotay went on that away mission together. Maybe something in the planet's atmosphere affected them."
B'Elanna shook her head. "I don't think that's it. We had several other teams down there and they're all fine," she said. "I think that all the shuttle trips and his shifts in sickbay may have exhausted Tom, but I don't think the problem's anything to do with the planet."
"Maybe not," Harry conceded. "But Tom wasn't quite himself after that first trip."
"How d'you mean?" B'Elanna asked, sipping at her coffee.
"I can't really put my finger on it," Harry replied. "He just seemed sort of on edge when he was off duty. We'd be sitting in Sandrine's and he'd be constantly looking around. It was as though he was looking for someone, or waiting for something to happen."
"Did you ask him about it?"
"Yeah, but he just said he was tired and went back to his quarters. I tried questioning him a couple of other times as well, but he wouldn't talk about it. He kept fobbing me off with lame excuses."
"There's got to be something wrong then, because he usually tells you everything," B'Elanna stated, looking thoughtful. "Perhaps Tom had a disagreement with Chakotay and was expecting a reprimand," she suggested. "It wouldn't have been the first time."
"That might be it. Perhaps that's why he visited Chakotay in sickbay so often; he argued with the Commander, then felt guilty when he went into a coma," Harry said, nodding to himself. It was suddenly all perfectly clear to him. "Tom would definitely have felt bad about something like that."
"Then, that must be it," B'Elanna agreed. She finished her coffee and stood up. "Come on, let's call in at sickbay before our shift starts."
"What a wonderful way to start the day," Tom said softly as Chakotay nuzzled at his neck, then kissed his way to Tom's chin. They had just showered and had decided to return to the warmth of Tom's bed for a little while longer.
"You're right," Chakotay whispered, then kissed Tom's lips gently, over and over. "This is what I've wanted for such a long time."
Tom sighed and snuggled closer to the big man's warm body. "I'm so glad you're well again," he murmured. "And I wish I wasn't on duty today because I could spend forever in bed with you."
Chakotay grinned and wrapped his arms tightly around the younger man. "Let me see what I can do," he said and kissed the top of Tom's head.
"Where are you going?" Tom asked as Chakotay released him and clambered out of bed.
"To check the duty roster. I won't be able to change today's shifts but I should be able to arrange some time off for us both from tomorrow," he said, smiling. "One of the perks of being First Officer," he added with a wink.
"So what other perks are there?" Tom asked as his gaze took in the firm, bronze body of his lover.
"Well, I have a bigger cabin for one thing. And, if you spend tonight with me there, you'll notice the bed is bigger too," Chakotay grinned. "That's quite a useful perk."
"Oh yeah?" Tom remarked with raised eyebrows. "How useful? Has it seen much action?"
"That would be telling," Chakotay replied, leaning across the bed to kiss Tom on the nose. "Let's just say it's seen enough."
"Perhaps I should ask the Captain," Tom teased.
"She wouldn't be able to answer you, Tom," Chakotay replied, grabbing his pants from the pile of clothes near the bedroom door. "It's been 'Maquis only' past my living area."
"So, I'll be the first Starfleet officer through your bedroom door then," Tom remarked as he got up and retrieved his own clothes.
"I still think of you as Maquis, Tom. You were imprisoned as Maquis and you weren't officially Starfleet when we first got stuck out here. It was just circumstance that brought that about."
"Yeah," Tom agreed as they moved into the other room and crossed to the computer terminal. "Times have changed, though," he added.
"Not so much," Chakotay remarked, calling up the duty roster. "We may wear Starfleet uniforms and follow Starfleet rules for now, but we'll never stop being Maquis."
"Always the rebel, huh?" Tom said, smiling at his lover. "What's up?" he asked then, as Chakotay frowned at the screen.
"You're not on the roster, Tom."
"I must be," Tom stated, peering over Chakotay's shoulder.
"No, you're not. Baytart has your shift. You're not scheduled for duty at all for the next week and neither am I."
"That's odd. No-one told me about this."
"Well, let's go to the morning briefing and see if the Captain can shed some light on it," Chakotay suggested as he switched off the screen.
"Okay, come on," Tom said, grabbing Chakotay by the elbow and steering the Commander towards the door.
They left the cabin and set off down the corridor towards the turbolift. As they approached it, B'Elanna turned the corner and walked straight past them. Tom stopped and turned around, watching her as she continued on with no indication that she'd even seen the two men.
"What d'you suppose *her* problem is?" Tom asked, scowling. "She didn't even stop to ask you how you were."
"She must have something important on her mind, Tom," Chakotay replied as he watched B'Elanna disappear from view. "She didn't actually seem to notice us. Probably some big engineering problem. You know how she gets."
"Yeah, I suppose," Tom said, still feeling miffed that B'Elanna had ignored his lover.
They continued to the turbolift and entered. Chakotay instructed it to take them to the bridge and they stood in silence for the short ride. As the doors slid open at their destination, they exited side by side.
Harry looked up from his station as he heard the lift arrive and frowned before returning his attention to his terminal.
"Looks like we've missed the morning briefing," Tom remarked as he nodded towards Harry. "Alpha shift's already here."
"Yes," Chakotay replied, distractedly.
He'd seen Tuvok turn to look at the lift doors as they'd opened. The Vulcan had raised one eyebrow but had not appeared to notice the two officers as they'd walked out on to the bridge.
Chakotay walked slowly down towards the Captain's chair, Tom following.
"Good morning, Captain," Chakotay said as he stopped in front of her. He looked at her expectantly, waiting for a response that never came.
"Captain?" Tom questioned.
He looked in puzzlement at Chakotay as Janeway seemed not to hear him. "What's going on, Cha?" he asked, looking from his lover to Janeway. The Captain was gazing at the viewscreen, oblivious to the scrutiny of her First Officer and senior pilot.
"I don't know, Tom," Chakotay replied.
He turned to face Tuvok and addressed him. "Tuvok? Can you hear me?" he asked but there was no response from the dark Vulcan.
"Harry?" Tom said, stepping in front of the busy ensign. Harry's attention never wavered from his task.
Chakotay returned his attention to Janeway. "Captain," he said loudly, bending to touch her on the arm. He straightened again as she gave no indication of either hearing him or feeling the touch of his hand.
"I don't like this," Tom commented nervously as he rejoined Chakotay in front of the command chairs. "It's like we don't exist."
"Well, we obviously do exist because we can see each other," Chakotay remarked, placing his hands on Tom's tense shoulders. "And we can hear each other and feel each other as well," he added as he pulled Tom in for a hug.
"I'm glad I'm not in this situation alone," Tom said quietly, his voice betraying his worry at their predicament. "And I'm glad that it's you here with me." He rested his forehead against the older man's neck as he continued. "I wonder what's going on though, Cha. Why do we seem to be invisible to everyone but each other?"
Chakotay kissed Tom's cheek, then held him tighter. "I don't know but we're going to find out," he replied with certainty. "There are only two basic possibilities. Either something has happened just to us or it's happened to everyone except us. The first thing we need to do is to determine which scenario is correct."
Tom pulled back to look at Chakotay's face as a thoughtful expression crossed his own. "When you touched the Captain's arm, could you feel her?" he asked. "Because it was obvious that she couldn't feel you."
"Yes, I could feel her," Chakotay replied, frowning. "But she didn't respond at all, did she? And there was something odd about her."
He paused as he tried to recall what he'd experienced. "I could feel her," he repeated, thinking back. "But it was just like touching a chair or the computer terminal. She felt solid but there was no body heat. She didn't feel alive."
"I wonder why she couldn't feel you, if you could feel her?" Tom mused. "Do *I* feel alive to you?" he asked, gazing into Chakotay's dark eyes. "Because you feel alive to me."
Chakotay leaned forward and kissed Tom softly on the lips.
"Yes, you feel alive to me, Tom. And you make *me* feel alive. More alive than I've ever felt."
His mouth met Tom's again and he allowed all his feelings for the younger man to show as he kissed him thoroughly. As they broke apart, Chakotay guided Tom towards the unoccupied chair to the Captain's left. He sat down, pulling Tom onto his lap. Janeway glanced in their direction as the chair creaked slightly, then she shrugged and looked away.
Chakotay smiled, then ran his hands through Tom's hair and down to caress the back of his neck. He pulled the pilot's head forward and once again found Tom's eager lips.
As the two men kissed, the bridge crew went about their jobs unaware of what was happening in the chair. The lovers tuned out all the noise and chatter around them, pushing their problems to one side as they concentrated all their attention on each other.
Tom slowly stroked Chakotay's chest before allowing his hands to travel downwards to the bulge in the Commander's pants. Chakotay groaned as Tom's fingers trailed back and forth across his growing erection.
"Please," he whispered as Tom's hands came to rest on the fastening of his pants.
Tom swiftly opened them and freed Chakotay's throbbing penis. He closed his hand lightly around it and bent to nip at the older man's throat.
"We'll sort out why no-one can see us, later," Tom murmured against his lover's neck. "But for now, Cha, let's make the most of the situation."
He stroked Chakotay gently as he pressed his own groin forward to meet the Commander's. "Take me here," he continued softly. "Right here in your chair. With Janeway sitting beside us."
Chakotay closed his eyes briefly as Tom gripped him harder. He quickly brought his hands to Tom's waistband and made short work of getting the pilot's pants undone.
"Stand up, Tom," he ordered, then divested the younger man of the unwanted garment before shedding his own pants as well.
Tom sat back down across Chakotay's bare thighs as the older man grasped and massaged his cheeks.
"We don't have anything, Tom. Will you be okay?" Chakotay asked as Tom wriggled teasingly on his lap.
Tom nodded and took hold of Chakotay's hand.
"This is all I need right now," he answered, then sucked Chakotay's fingers into his mouth.
Chakotay moaned as Tom's tongue ran up and down, coating his fingers with warm moisture. He pulled them out slowly, then reached around to find Tom's opening.
The younger man groaned and rested his head on Chakotay's shoulder as gentle fingers began to probe him. He arched up then as a wave of pleasure swept through him, his movement causing the chair to creak once more. Janeway turned her head towards the sound, then sat staring at the Commander's chair.
"Take me, now!" Tom panted as he saw the Captain looking in their direction.
He quickly moistened his own hand and rubbed the wetness along the length of Chakotay's erection. The First Officer gripped Tom's hips as the pilot gradually lowered himself down onto his achingly hard penis.
"You're so hot, Tom," Chakotay gasped as the younger man's passage surrounded him. "So hot," he repeated before kissing Tom passionately.
"Oh, God, Cha!" Tom groaned as the kiss ended and he slowly began to raise and then lower himself. "Oh, God! Bridge shifts will never be the same again!" he said, panting. He closed his eyes tight."I don't think I'll be able to last long," he added with another groan.
Chakotay glanced to his right. The Captain's gaze was still riveted on the squeaking chair.
He leaned back to give Tom more room and to make it easier to thrust upwards in time with Tom's movements, then ran his hand up his lover's thigh and grasped the man's hot, weeping erection. Tom moaned at the welcome contact and began to move more quickly as Chakotay pumped him rapidly.
"Yes, Tom! That's it!" Chakotay gasped as he felt Tom begin to tighten around him. "Come for me, Tom. Come hard!"
"I am, I am!" Tom yelled out, erupting forcefully onto his lover's uniform-clad chest.
"Yes!" Chakotay exclaimed as he thrust one more time, then climaxed deep inside Tom's shuddering body.
The younger man fell forward, his forehead resting against Chakotay's as they both struggled for breath. It was several minutes before Tom could sit upright again. He placed his hands on Chakotay's shoulders as he gazed into his lover's eyes.
"That was amazing, Sir, and I believe it was definitely above and beyond the call of duty," he said, grinning.
"As your Commanding officer, it's my duty to make sure your needs are attended to," Chakotay replied with a matching grin. "But," he added. "Now, I think we ought to get on with our investigations."
"Yes, we should," Tom agreed. "But what do we do first?"
"First, we get dressed. Then we go back to my quarters so I can get a clean uniform," Chakotay replied, looking down at his sticky jacket.
"Sorry about that," Tom apologised with a laugh. "But you did tell me to come for you."
"Yes, *for me*, not all over me," Chakotay retorted with a mock scowl that quickly became another grin.
He kissed the smiling pilot's nose, then shifted forwards in the chair. Tom took the hint and stood up. He handed Chakotay his pants off the floor and they dressed quickly.
As Chakotay stood up, the chair gave one last creak. Janeway gave a frustrated snort as she heard it and called out for someone to 'fetch some oil for the blasted thing'.
Chakotay and Tom smiled as they walked to the turbolift. They stepped inside and, just before the doors closed, they saw Harry's face once again reflecting his puzzlement at the arrival and departure of the empty lift.
"After you've changed, I think we should go to sickbay," Tom suggested as he turned to face his lover. He paused, as something occurred to him. "By the way, Cha, what did the Doc say to you when he discharged you?" he queried, suddenly realising that he'd failed to ask Chakotay that the previous night.
Chakotay frowned at the question, then shook his head. "I don't know, Tom. I don't actually remember leaving sickbay. I remember you talking to me, telling me to come back to you soon, and that's all. The next thing I recall is being with you in your bedroom."
Tom was silent for a moment as he pondered Chakotay's answer. "Well," he said finally. "Even if the Doc isn't able to see us, we can still access your medical records. Maybe they'll shed some light on this mystery."
"Good idea, Tom," Chakotay said as the lift came to a halt. "And we know what to expect now in the way of the crew's reaction to us. Or lack of it I should say. At least we won't experience the same feeling of shock there that we did when we entered the bridge."
"Thank God," Tom muttered as they stepped into the corridor. "I don't think I could handle any more shocks."
"Don't worry, Tom. The only shocking thing in sickbay is the Doctor's attitude," Chakotay replied, smiling.
He wrapped his arm around Tom's shoulders as they entered his quarters, both of them contemplating their forthcoming visit to the Doctor's domain.