|Note: This is especially for my friend, Tom, who gave me one of the ideas for this part. Thanks, Tom!
"Neelix, d'you think you could stop that noise?" Tom said irritably, over his shoulder.
"Oh, yes. Sorry, Tom. Um... What exactly is it I'm supposed to stop?" Neelix asked, shuffling towards the front of the shuttle.
Tom sighed, and ran his hand across his aching head. "That humming noise you keep making," he answered, turning to face the Talaxian. "My head's killing me, and that's not helping."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Can I get you anything? A painkiller, perhaps?" Neelix offered. "Or I could fly for a while if you'd like to rest."
"Actually, I wouldn't mind both," Tom admitted.
"I'll just go and get a hypospray for you, then I'll take over the controls. Just sit still for a moment, and I'll be right back," Neelix said, and bustled off to find the med-kit. He returned a few moments later, hypospray in hand. "Here you go, Tom," he said, pressing the device against Tom's neck. "That should help. Now go and lay down, and leave everything to me."
"Thanks, Neelix," Tom said gratefully. He stood up, then made his way towards the rear of the shuttle. He pulled down the foldaway bed from the wall of the craft, and sat on the edge of it. "Oh, by the way, Neelix," he called. "We should be in communications range of Voyager in about an hour. Wake me up then. Okay?"
"Certainly, Tom. I'll call you the minute we're in range. Now you rest, you hear? This mission has been too much for you; you've had one headache after the other. I don't know what the Captain was thinking of, sending you out like this so soon after you'd left sickbay. You really weren't up to something of this sort. The Doctor should've known better as well; all that technology he's got at his disposal...."
"...he never should have told the Captain you were fit..."
"Just fly the shuttle, will you? Don't think I'm being rude, but I'll be able to sleep more easily if you're not talking to me."
"Of course, Tom. I wasn't thinking. Sorry. I'll be so quiet you won't even know I'm here," Neelix said, and turned around to face the controls.
"Thanks," Tom replied. He lay down on the small bed, and closed his eyes.
"Enter," Janeway called in answer to her door chime. She placed her coffee cup on her desk as the door opened, and Seven walked into the ready room. "What can I do for you, Seven?" she asked, smiling at the former Borg.
"I have been investigating how Commander Chakotay managed to access the computer while he was in a coma. I wish to inform you of my progress," Seven stated.
"Do you have an explanation yet?" Janeway asked with interest. She motioned for Seven to take a seat, but her offer was declined.
"No, Captain. Although I do have something that you may find of interest. I found some unusual readings in sickbay on that particular day, and used the computer to check for similar readings in other parts of the ship."
"And what did you find?"
"Several others that matched, mainly in Lieutenant Paris' quarters, and on the bridge. I asked Commander Tuvok for access to the security vids from the bridge, and by using the computer to overlay and enhance the relevant information, I was able to partially build up a visual representation of what occurred there."
"That's an amazing achievement, Seven. Well done," Janeway praised her.
"Do you wish to see the recording, Captain?"
"Of course," Janeway confirmed. "Although, with Commander Chakotay unwell, I'm needed on the bridge right now. If you send it to the terminal in my quarters, I'll view it after my shift."
"Very well, Captain. I will ensure that it can only be accessed by you."
"Thank you, Seven. And good work," Janeway said again.
Seven gave a slight nod, then left.
Janeway smiled, it looked as though the mystery might actually be solved one day, and she was pleased. Also, Tom had contacted Voyager to say the food gathering mission had been a success, and he would be returning in two hours time. Apart from Chakotay's absence, the day wasn't going too badly, she thought.
She stood up, and feeling happier than she had, made her way to the bridge. Once there, she settled down in her chair for what she hoped would be a routine and trouble-free afternoon.
Chakotay lay on his bed, in the dark. The persistent headache that he'd had for almost two and a half days, was fading. The Doctor had been unable to treat it effectively, just supplying painkillers as often as he could. He'd said that Chakotay's unusual brain activity had become quite erratic, and thought that this was probably the cause of the Commander's discomfort, although he had no idea what to do about it. Chakotay was certain he, himself, knew what the problem was, but he wasn't going to mention anything without Tom's consent.
As soon as Tom had started to fly away from Voyager, their link had weakened slightly. They had been able to stay in touch with each other for the first few hours, but as soon as the shuttle was out of communications range of Voyager, their mental communications ceased as well. The headaches had started soon after.
Chakotay had tried to continue with his work, but unable to hide his pain from the eagle-eyed Captain, he'd been sent to sickbay, and the Doctor had ruled out a return to duty until the headaches had gone. Chakotay knew, as a faint image of his lover filled his mind, that the pains would all be gone soon.
He smiled as the loneliness that he'd experienced without Tom's presence disappeared, and was replaced instead with a warm feeling of being loved. He was amazed at how strongly that came across, even though, as Tom was now able to inform him, the shuttle was still two hours away from reaching Voyager.
Chakotay sighed contentedly. He suddenly felt whole again, and decided that as soon as Tom returned they would engage in some long overdue celebrating. With this in mind, he got up and went out into his living area, calling up the lights as he went. He crossed to the computer terminal, and with Tom's agreement, booked some holodeck time for them both. Chakotay decided it would be a homecoming that Tom would never forget.
After two peaceful hours, Janeway's trouble-free afternoon came to an abrupt end.
"Captain, we're being hailed," Harry Kim announced. "In fact, make that two hails. I'm receiving one from the shuttle, and another from a ship that's just appeared behind us."
"Send a message to Lieutenant Paris to bring the shuttle in, and open a channel to the alien ship, main screen," Janeway commanded. She smoothed her uniform down, then stood up in front of the viewscreen to address the unknown alien that appeared there.
"I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway. May I ask who you are, and your reason for contacting us?" Janeway asked.
"I am Zay, master of this ship. I was instructed to follow your small vessel covertly to find out where it had come from. The Derzai wish to know why you took from the sacred planet without permission."
"May I ask who the Derzai are? Is that your species?" Janeway enquired.
Zay shook his head, causing a few strands of his long, black hair to fall across his light brown face. "No, Captain. The Derzai are the Holy Ones; the protectors of the sacred planet. We are Dergaj. But I must ask again, why did you take without permission?"
"I'm extremely sorry, Zay, but we were unaware of the planet's importance; we believed it to be uninhabited and unclaimed. We would never have gone there had we known it was sacred to you. Perhaps you would like to come aboard Voyager, and we can discuss what needs to be done," Janeway offered.
"That will be acceptable. Azai will accompany me. He is Derzai and knows the law. He will advise on the correct course of action," Zay answered. "If you will send us the relevant co-ordinates, we will transport to your ship shortly, Captain."
"Certainly. We'll look forward to seeing you," Janeway replied, smiling.
"Thank you. We look forward to seeing you, and your ship. It looks very different from others that we have encountered."
"If all goes well, I'm sure I could give you a short tour, but we'll discuss that more when you arrive," Janeway said, studying the alien's face carefully. He appeared to be honest and sincere, but she hoped that looks didn't turn out to be deceiving.
"We will be with you shortly," Zay answered.
As the screen went blank, Janeway looked across to Harry. "Is the shuttle on board?" she asked.
"Yes, Captain. Shuttle bay doors have just closed."
"Then I'd better head down there and see what was collected." She turned to Tuvok. "You have the bridge, Tuvok. And take care of our visitors if they arrive before I get back."
"Yes, Captain," the Vulcan replied with a small nod.
Janeway left the bridge, and quickly made her way to the shuttle bay. She entered just as Tom was stepping out of the shuttle. "Don't bother unloading right now," she called to him. "We may have to give it all back," she added as she approached the puzzled pilot. "Apparently the planet you went to is sacred, and we should have asked permission before we took anything."
Tom sighed, and shook his head. "Great," he muttered. "All those headaches for nothing."
"Headaches? Have you been unwell, Tom?" Janeway asked with concern.
"Just a few odd pains. I'm fine now, Captain," Tom assured her. "After I've given you my report, I'll go and relax. I'll be as good as new tomorrow."
"You may as well go now, Tom, I'm sure Neelix can give me all the information I might need. I want to speak with him, anyway. He may have some information about the aliens that contacted us."
"Thanks, Captain. I'll see you tomorrow, then." Tom said, smiling. He left as Janeway entered the shuttle, looking for Neelix, then made his way to the holodeck, where he knew his lover was waiting for him.
He opened the door, and was immediately grabbed by a pair of strong arms that wound themselves tightly around him. He moaned softly as Chakotay pulled him close to his own warm body, and began to kiss him over and over.
"God, I've missed you," Tom murmured as Chakotay turned his attention to the pilot's neck. "I was so lonely when I couldn't reach your mind. It was awful, Cha."
"I know," Chakotay agreed quietly. "I felt the same way." He led the younger man to a large blue blanket that was spread out on the grassy bank of a fast flowing river, then pulled him to sit down. "It seems like forever since we were together, Tom," he said softly.
"Yeah, it does," Tom agreed. He stretched out on the soft blanket, tugging Chakotay to lay down with him. "In fact," Tom continued. "We've only been together properly once. In sickbay, before you went into a coma," he said, stroking Chakotay's dark hair. "The other times we were either not in our real bodies, or just using our link."
"Yes, you're right, Tom, and I think we should do something about it," Chakotay replied. "Computer. Engage privacy lock," he called, then moved to cover Tom's body with his own. "Let's see what it's like to use both our bodies and our link," he whispered, and reached out to touch Tom with his hands and his mind.
Tom felt Chakotay's fingers gently working their way through his hair, then he was drawn into what seemed to him like another reality. Chakotay's mouth was on his, kissing him passionately, and it felt wonderful, but he could feel everything that Chakotay was feeling too. All his lover's emotions tumbled down their link, and Tom gasped as the realisation hit him that Chakotay loved him with all his heart and soul. He moaned softly, pulling Chakotay closer, his hands finding their way to the older man's back, then rubbing gently up and down.
As his feelings threatened to swamp the younger man, Chakotay released Tom's mouth, and stared down into his lover's shining blue eyes. He eased his control of their link slightly, and let Tom's emotions have equal footing with his own. All the love that he'd sent Tom's way was mirrored and reflected as Tom's feelings for him became apparent.
Without any words, the two men slowly began to undress. Their minds wrapped themselves around each other, exploring each other's thoughts, as their hands explored their bodies. Time passed rapidly and unnoticed as they became unaware of anything except the waves of emotions passing along their link, and the overpowering sensations that coursed through their bodies.
As their arousal soared, Chakotay reached under the edge of the blanket and retrieved the lubricant that he'd concealed there. He gently began to prepare Tom for what they both knew would be an incredible experience. Their thoughts and feelings had combined to such an extent that it was impossible for them to tell who was actually experiencing what, and as Chakotay slipped his fingers inside Tom's body, he felt as though it was Tom's fingers inside of him. He groaned, and pushed in deeper, causing Tom to cry out ecstatically as he felt Chakotay's pleasure wash over him.
Tom twisted underneath his lover, turning on to his front and offering himself to the older man. Chakotay lay down on top of him, his throbbing erection positioned just outside Tom's opening. As he eased inside what felt to him like his own body, neither he nor Tom had any awareness of the computer's announcement.
"Warning. Holodeck time has expired. Program shutting down. Privacy lock disengaged."
Both men carried on, totally oblivious to the familiar grid appearing around them. As Chakotay slowly moved inside Tom, his pace building gradually as intense waves of emotion rocked them, their minds were too concerned with their new, overpowering connection to register anything else. Not even the door opening, many minutes later, caught their attention.
Janeway entered the holodeck, Zay and Azai at her side, and all three stopped and stared in astonishment. Chakotay was moving rapidly in and out of Tom's body, his eyes closed, and his teeth marking Tom's neck. Before Janeway could move or say anything, both men cried out loudly as their shared orgasms hit them, and violent tremors slammed through their bodies and minds.
Zay and Azai nodded to each other. "I will ensure that the other Derzai are informed of this display, Captain Janeway. You will hear from us later," Azai stated. Zay touched the bracelet he wore, and both aliens disappeared.
Janeway was furious. She'd spent the last hour trying to convince her visitors that Voyager's crew had not intended any disrespect to the Derzai, and here were two of her senior officers engaged in a sexual act right in front of them.
"My quarters! Ten minutes!" she yelled, then stormed out just after Chakotay's shocked gaze met her own.
As she walked back to her quarters, she wondered how a day that had started out so well could finish so badly. Arriving at her cabin, she took a deep breath, then opened her door. As soon as she was inside, she headed straight for the replicator, and ordered herself a strong black coffee, then collapsed in the chair next to her computer terminal. The message light was blinking, and Janeway suddenly remembered asking Seven to send the security recording she'd enhanced to her quarters. She smiled. Perhaps today wasn't a total loss after all, she thought. Maybe Seven had hit the jackpot with her research.
Janeway accessed the file just as her door chime sounded. "Enter," she called, and Chakotay and Tom walked in, looking red-faced and extremely embarrassed.
"I'll be with you in a moment," Janeway said tersely, then turned to look at the recording being played back on the screen. The colour drained from her face, and her jaw dropped open as she looked at the scene on the monitor. "I don't believe it!" she exclaimed, and turned back to pin her officers with an icy stare.