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"How's it going Bey?" Paris asked as he walked into their crew quarters.
"I thought I would be able to finish this tonight, but the isolinear circuitry doesn't seem to want to cooperate." Bey said in frustration.
Paris smiled and said, "Why don't you knock off for the night and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. I bet the circuitry will be in a much better mood then."
Bey looked at Paris in confusion, then broke into a smile and nodded.
"I brought you something to eat. It's been a while." Paris said and sat a bowl of food beside Bey.
"What is it?" Bey asked cautiously.
"Something better than what you had earlier, I promise." Paris said with a smile.
Bey didn't need any further encouragement. He started eating and was soon making sounds of appreciation.
"Vorik was able to find some flavorings and made what he calls 'peach'. It tastes more like a strong apricot to me, but it's close enough." Paris said casually as he sat at the table.
"I don't know what any of those things taste like, but this flavor is good." Bey said happily.
"And those wafers were stored in the supply room. We're assuming that they're ration bars. Personally, I like them better than the peach yogurt." Paris said gently.
"S'Good." Bey said, barely between bites.
Paris chuckled and said, "I'm glad you like it."
Bey looked at Paris curiously, then shyly smiled.
"Did you have anything else you wanted to do before bed?" Paris asked as he stood.
"Why? Are you ready to turn in?" Bey asked casually.
"Yes. I'm really tired. But if you need to be up for a while, I can wait." Paris said as he walked to the far side of the room to look at the bed.
"No. Actually, I'm at a good stopping point. Give me a minute to finish this and I'll be ready." Bey said quickly.
"No rush. We're not punching a time clock." Paris said casually as he looked around the room.
"A what?" Bey asked curiously.
"Never mind. I keep forgetting that neither of your donors are human. Some of my Earth sayings won't make sense to you." Paris said casually.
"Seska always found the Human tendency to use nonsensical sayings very irritating." Bey said absently as he scraped the last of the 'peach' yogurt out of his bowl.
"And what do you think about it?" Paris asked as he sat on the edge of the bed.
"Honestly, when I find how the saying is derived, I find it very interesting." Bey said and carried his bowl to the bathroom sink to rinse it out.
"Well, you know how Humans tend to operate on schedules, right?" Paris asked, a little more loudly so Bey could hear him.
"Yes, they like to create charts to fill every available moment of their day." Bey said as he walked back into the room.
"Not all of us do, but probably the ones you encountered did." Paris said in thought.
"Chakotay did." Bey said simply.
"Okay, you got me there." Paris said with a smile.
"Punching a time clock?" Bey prompted.
"A time clock was a device that imprinted a timestamp on a card when you inserted it. That way the person who paid for your services, knew when you arrived to work." Paris said in thought.
"I understand, but 'punching'?" Bey asked curiously.
"As I understand it, the older versions of the time clock had a lever or a button that you had to press to cause the clock to imprint. I guess when you aren't trusted to be at work on time and have to prove it, you're not too gentle with the lever or button." Paris said casually.
Bey laughed and said, "I can see a line of Humans walking to the clock and taking turns slamming it with all the force they can to show the indignity of it."
Paris smiled and said, "I didn't think of it that way until I explained it, but I can see it too."
A moment of silence fell between the two until Bey finally said, "There's only one bed."
"I expected that." Paris said as he looked up at Bey with a casual smile.
Bey smiled with relief and said, "I'm so glad you decided to be my friend. I can't imagine anyone else who'd be willing to share a bed with me."
"Give them time Bey. I'm sure it won't take too long before they see the good guy you really are." Paris said as he began to take off his shoes.
"I wish I could be as sure as you are." Bey said as he sat beside Paris and started doing the same.
"Give it time." Paris said as he stood and pulled off the oversized shirt he had been given earlier then folded it neatly.
Bey looked at him and said, "I guess we'll need to go to the supply room and get a few more changes of clothes. These are all we have."
"In the morning I'll ask Chell. He's in charge of the supplies." Paris said and pulled down his pants.
Bey sat and looked at Paris in stunned fascination.
"It's okay isn't it?" Paris asked with concern at Bey's expression.
Bey shook his head quickly and said, "Fine. I just. I don't know. Flashbacks I guess."
Paris looked at Bey curiously and asked, "Flashbacks of what?"
"Seska and Chakotay." Bey said shyly as he pulled off his shirt.
"Oh." Paris said quietly as he sat on the bed.
"Don't worry Paris. I'm not expecting you to..." Bey trailed off in embarrassment.
"That's not what I was thinking." Paris said quietly.
"What then?" Bey asked as he looked into Paris' eyes.
Paris saw the helplessness and need for comfort in Bey's eyes and said, "I've been elected leader. I'm in charge, but that won't work here."
"How do you mean?" Bey asked in confusion.
"If I tried to... do anything... sexual. It would feel like I was taking advantage of you because I'm the leader." Paris said with difficulty.
Bey closed his eyes and slowly nodded.
"That's why you're going to have to initiate anything that happens between us." Paris said in almost a whisper.
Bey's eyes snapped open in shock.
"I like you. You know that. I find you attractive. But anything that happens between us will have to be because you want it to... I just can't be in charge here too..." Paris trailed off.
Bey gently smiled and with a look of resolve, pulled his pants down.
"Are we ready for bed?" Paris asked slowly.
"Yes. Very ready." Bey said with a peaceful smile.
Paris got between the covers and waited anxiously as Bey got in beside him.
Bey got in the bed, then pressed the button to turn off the light, plunging the room into complete darkness.
After a long moment of silence, Bey asked, "May I touch you?"
"Yes Bey. I think I'd like that." Paris said calmly.
Paris shivered as Bey's fingers glided across his chest, apparently verifying his position before Bey gave him a gentle hug and rested his head on Paris' shoulder.
"Would you mind if I just hold you tonight?" Bey asked cautiously.
Paris responded by adjusting his position so he could take Bey into his arms.
"I think that sounds perfect." Paris said in a contented voice.
Bey hesitantly moved around to get more comfortable and his body lined up along Paris' left side, his semi-erect penis pressing into Paris' hip.
"May I..." Bey began to ask.
"Just do it. If I don't want to do something, I'll let you know." Paris whispered.
Bey cautiously scooted up slightly, then began to kiss Paris gently.
Long minutes passed as the gentle kissing continued, not insisting, but just expressing love and devotion.
Finally Bey stopped the kiss and rested his head beside Paris'.
After a few seconds, Paris turned his head and began to kiss Bey, just as gently, trying to express his own caring.
Eventually the two went to sleep, holding each other peacefully, content in the night.
* * * * *
Paris slowly opened his eyes to complete darkness.
As he became aware of his surroundings, he felt Bey, still pressed into his side and resting on his shoulder.
"Good morning." Bey said with a gentle voice.
"Good morning. Did you sleep well?" Paris asked, feeling completely relaxed.
"The best ever." Bey said with contentment and felt for the light switch beside the bed.
"Me too. I don't know what Tom and Chakotay were doing wrong. It seems a crime to sleep alone when you can sleep like we just did." Paris said happily.
"I agree. What could be worth giving this up?" Bey asked as he rested his head on Paris' shoulder again.
"The bathroom." Paris said regretfully.
Bey let out a giggle at the statement and scooted out of the bed.
Paris hurried into the bathroom.
A moment later he returned to the bed and scooted in, followed immediately by Bey.
"I think I'd like to stay like this with you all day." Paris said in a dreamy voice.
"It sounds nice. But we have too many things to do." Bey said with regret.
"I know. But when things get settled, we'll have to plan a day in bed for the two of us." Paris said with a smile.
"Wouldn't that be hard to explain to the others?" Bey asked curiously.
"Not really. We just tell them that we want to spend the day in bed together." Paris said simply.
"But... You mean you want to tell everyone?" Bey asked apprehensively.
"Well, I won't if you don't want me to. But I don't see any reason we should hide the fact that I like you. I don't want anyone thinking that you're available." Paris finished with a smile.
"Somehow, I don't think there is going to be a long line of people wanting me." Bey said seriously.
"I don't know. If the others get to know the great guy that I'm discovering, they're going to be eaten up with jealousy because I got to you first." Paris said, then gave a casual kiss to Bey's right ear.
Bey giggled and said, "You're the one I'm worried about. I think half the girls are wanting you for themselves. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them tried something with you before very long."
"One did." Paris said slowly.
"What?" Bey asked with concern.
"I don't want to name names because it was a one time thing. One of her donors liked one of my donors and she, sort of cornered me..." Paris said uncomfortably.
"Did you... do it?" Bey asked quietly.
"Yes. Once. Then it was over. I'm sorry Bey. I didn't want to hurt you by telling you, but I thought it would hurt a lot more if you found out and I hadn't told you." Paris said in a hesitant voice.
A moment of silence stretched out between them until Bey finally said, "Thank you for telling me. You're right. If I found out later and you hadn't told me, that would have hurt worse."
Paris smiled and scooted down a little so he could give Bey a proper kiss.
"I'll always be honest with you Bey. Always." Paris said seriously.
"I don't know if I can promise that." Bey said hesitantly.
"Seska?" Paris asked quietly.
"Yes. Her whole life was devoted to lying. She was so good at it that she could even fool telepaths... there were times that she didn't remember what the truth was." Bey said distantly.
"If you have a problem with it, just let me know as soon as you recognize it. I promise not to be angry or hold it against you." Paris said seriously.
"Thank you. I promise that I'll try to be honest. I'll try harder than she ever did." Bey said as a vow.
"Then I'm not worried. How about one more kiss, then we start the day." Paris asked gently.
Bey's response was to pull Paris into a firm kiss that lasted long minutes.
* * * * *
"Good morning. How is everyone doing today?" Paris asked happily as he entered the mess hall.
"Very well. Vorik said that he will have breakfast ready in a few minutes." Nicoletti said peacefully.
Wildman glanced at Nicoletti and smiled shyly.
"I'm glad I'm not the only one who is well rested. Both of you look so relaxed that you're almost glowing with it." Paris said speculatively.
Wildman looked away from Nicoletti quickly, then down at the table before her. Nicoletti laughed and said, "I guess you could say that. I'm curious as to why YOU look so rested."
"Probably for the same reason as you." Paris said non-committally.
"But I thought you were rooming with the Cardassian." Nicoletti said slowly.
"I'm sure that you can understand why being referred to as 'the Cardassian' might be uncomfortable for him. I think it would be best if we just called him Bey." Paris said seriously.
"You're the leader." Nicoletti said in resignation.
"I'm not asking as the leader, just as a fellow crewmember. Bey is one of us and I'd like for him to feel like it. Referring to him or anyone by their species is just a way of dividing us. I'm not asking you to like him, I'm only asking that you give Bey the same courtesy and respect as any other member of the crew." Paris said with hope.
"I guess I can see that. I'm sorry Paris, I wasn't thinking." Nicoletti said shyly.
"We're all adjusting Nicoletti. There are bound to be a few bumps along the way." Paris said with a gentle smile.
"So are you and Bey... you know... doing it?" Nicoletti asked with a girlish chuckle.
"Nikki!" Wildman said in a scandalized voice and slapped her playfully on the shoulder.
"We're in the process of becoming a couple. That's all I'm going to say on the subject." Paris said and could feel a slight blush rising in his face.
"They haven't done it yet, but he wants to." Nicoletti said to Wildman, as if translating.
Paris laughed and stood as he said, "I'm going to see if Vorik needs any help."
* * * * *
"Good morning Vorik, how are you doing today?" Paris asked as he walked into the kitchen.
"Great. Chell volunteered to help me so I'll have breakfast ready in no time." Vorik said happily.
"You're looking much better today. How are you feeling?" Paris asked curiously.
"Aside from the ebb and flow of my energy thanks to my hybrid physiology, I'm feeling extremely well." Vorik said, then tasted the mixture he was working on.
"Chell, would you get the crackers from the supply room? I think this is almost ready." Vorik asked with a smile.
"Yes. I'll be back in one minute." Chell said and hurried out of the room.
"I think he's worried about you." Paris said as he looked at the empty doorway.
"I think you're right." Vorik said in a non-commiital voice.
Paris turned to look at Vorik and asked, "How do you feel about him?"
Vorik got a peaceful smile and said, "Well, if you would have asked me how a half-Vulcan and a half-Bolean would interact, I would have said they'd drive each other crazy within an hour. But he's so... happy. I find myself wanting to just enjoy his company every minute of the day."
Paris smiled and asked, "Can you tell me something honestly?"
Vorik looked up from his food preparation and nodded seriously.
"Is there any reason that you can't?" Paris asked curiously.
"Well. If we... got together... Wouldn't it be likely to cause problems with the others?" Vorik asked with concern.
"I don't think so. But if it does, they can deal with it. Do whatever it is that makes you two happy. I'll support you however I can." Paris said seriously.
"Thank you Paris. I see the logic in your argument." Vorik said, trying to maintain a serious look.
"Don't pull your Vulcan routine on me. You're no good at it." Paris said with a chuckle.
"Where do you want them?" Chell asked as he hurried into the kitchen.
"Just set it on the counter. We'll open the packages as we serve them." Vorik said professionally.
"What else can I do to help?" Chell asked hopefully.
Vorik looked at Paris and received a nod of encouragement.
"Come here for a second." Vorik said gently.
Chell hurried to Vorik's side.
"Chell, last night when you thought I was asleep, you gave me a hug and a kiss behind the ear." Vorik said quietly.
Chell got a look of fright and glanced at Paris who held up a hand in a 'wait' motion.
"I liked it Chell. If you have those types of feelings for me, I'd like to explore them with you and see where they lead." Vorik said as he looked deeply into Chell's eyes.
"R... Really?" Chell asked in disbelief.
"Really Chell. Paris just talked with me about it and made me realize that we should try to find happiness wherever we can." Vorik said peacefully.
Chell hesitantly moved forward and pulled Vorik into a hug.
Vorik happily accepted the hug and gave Chell a gentle kiss.
Paris smiled and left the kitchen.
* * * * *
"Is breakfast almost ready?" Dalby asked as she walked into the room.
"Yes. Just a few minutes more." Paris said as he walked to an unoccupied table.
Dalby automatically fell into the seat next to him.
"Any word on Janeway or Carey?" Paris asked casually.
"They might still be working on the shuttle. They were so lost in it last time I checked on them last night that I doubt they've even thought of sleep." Dalby said with a smile.
"We slept quite well as a matter of fact." Janeway said from the doorway, followed closely by Carey.
"How are you doing this morning Janeway?" Paris asked as he made a gesture to offer them seats at his table.
"We made a lot of progress last night. My earlier estimates turned out to be a little pessimistic." Janeway said seriously.
"Really? How long till we have a working shuttle then?" Paris asked with interest.
"Well, if we can get some breakfast and get right to it, we should have the first shuttle done before the end of today." Janeway said happily.
"That soon? What happened?" Paris asked in surprise.
"I had originally planned to replace the navigation array and sensors that were inoperable. But Carey spotted redundant systems that I hadn't noticed. After working a few bypasses, we have all the command controls operating. Now we just have to work our way through the secondary and safety systems. And I wouldn't mind another look at the atmospheric processing engine, it doesn't *feel* right." Janeway said in a� continuous ramble.
Paris smiled and said, "Janeway, seeing you like this makes me glad you didn't get the job of leader. I don't think you would be nearly so excited by organizing workgroups."
Janeway smiled and said, "You may be right, but don't expect me to decline the position of leader if it's offered to me."
"I have no doubt that you'll accept and that you'll make a fine leader when it happens." Paris said in contentment.
"Paris. You were right." Bey said as he rushed into the mess hall.
"About what?" Paris asked seriously.
"The isolinear circuitry was in a much better mood this morning. It's done." Bey said proudly as he held out the product of his labor.
"What is it?" Janeway asked as she looked over the device.
"Bey can explain it best." Paris said with a smile.
"Why don't I just show you?" Bey asked as he held out his hand for the weapon.
Janeway hesitantly handed the half-Cardassian the weapon and watched him cautiously.
Bey looked around the room, then walked to the farthest table and tented a napkin in it's center.
He walked back to Paris and the others and said, "I needed a target."
"Whenever you're ready Bey." Paris said with interest.
In one fluid movement, Bey turned and flexed his arm, allowing the coil of the whip to fully extend.
As the whip 'popped' a pulse of energy flew out of it and across the room. In a burst of energy, the napkin was vaporized.
"Impressive." Kim said from the doorway.
"At least." Paris said, stunned by the grace and dangerous beauty of Bey as he operated the whip.
"You said you can construct more of these, right?" Paris asked carefully.
"Yes. I think I can scavenge enough parts to construct enough for everyone." Bey said as he coiled the whip and sat it on the table.
"Is it difficult to learn to aim?" Janeway asked in thought.
"No. I'd say a half hour of practice should be enough for anyone to be able to operate one with reasonable accuracy." Bey said seriously.
"Good. How many people do you need to help you mass produce the whips?" Paris asked in his full 'Captain Chakotay' voice.
"One. If Gerry is available, he is familiar enough with weapon construction that I can show him what to do." Bey said as he took a seat.
"As soon as he checks in, he's yours." Paris said, then looked around the room.
"Janeway, do you and Carey need any additional help?" Paris asked carefully.
"No. Anyone else would just be in our way." Janeway said firmly.
Paris nodded, then asked, "Kim, how many people do you need to help you in the command center?"
"Nicoletti, Wildman and Dalby could complete communications devices while I assess the condition of scanners, shields and long-range communications." Kim said seriously.
"They're yours for as long as you need them. Contact me with updates." Paris said firmly.
Kim nodded without a hint of emotion.
"Is anyone hungry?" Chell asked in a cheerful voice as he walked into the room carrying a tray of plates.
"What is it?" Janeway asked as a plate of food was placed before her.
"Our best estimation of waffles with maple syrup." Chell said as he placed plates before each person present.
"It looks... interesting. Thank you." Nicoletti said cautiously.
"Hold on. We have a special surprise." Chell said with excitement as Vorik came out of the kitchen carrying a tray of mugs.
"Here you go." Vorik said as he placed a mug before each person.
Paris smelled the cup and finally asked, "What is it?"
"Taste it and tell me what you think." Vorik said with an expectant smile.
Paris carefully tasted the drink, then his eyes went wide in surprise.
"It's coffee!" Paris said quickly.
Janeway almost jumped at the cup beside her plate.
"Well, it technically isn't coffee, but I was able to fashion a close approximation in taste and was even able to find some caffeine to give it a kick.
"It's wonderful Vorik. When the shuttle is done, I'll make sure you get the most comfortable seat." Janeway said with a look of ecstasy.
"This food is really good." Wildman said in astonishment.
"Thank you. It was Chell's idea to try for waffles. After that we worked together to get the taste right." Vorik said happily.
"She's right. You did a great job with this meal." Paris said after taking a bite.
"Just let us know if you would like another serving. We made extra." Chell said with a smile.
No one answered, but the sounds of happily eating people was all the reply Chell or Vorik needed.
* * * * *
Paris and Bey were talking about what general supplies they were going to need in the long term when the Mess Hall door opened.
"Look who finally decided to join us." Paris said with a teasing smile.
"Blow me Paris." Gerry said as he walked in.
Bey laughed at the irreverent comment.
"I take it you didn't sleep well." Paris said, trying to hide a smile.
Gerry flopped into a chair and said, "I just saw Nicoletti and Wildman groping in the hallway. I started doing the math and realized that if we all pair off, some of us guys are going to be doing without."
Paris looked at Bey with question.
Bey gave an unconcerned shrug, so Paris said, "Some of us guys are taking care of each other."
Gerry looked at Paris with wide eyes, then got a look of concentration before saying, "Chell and Vorik?"
"Bey and I." Paris said seriously.
"You gotta be shitting me cap! You and a Cardie?" Gerry said in shock.
Paris stood immediately and said, "Bey isn't a Cardie, he's a hybrid like the rest of us. He had no more control over his donors than you did. And if you talk about him like he's less than the rest of us, I'm going to knock you out."
Gerry looked up at Paris for a long moment, judging just how serious he was before saying, "Yeah. Sorry Cap. Sorry Bey. I'm just sore because it looks like I'm not going to be getting any."
"I think Dalby might be feeling the same way." Bey said cautiously.
"What?" Gerry said as he looked at Bey carefully.
"She was sitting there, watching Nicoletti and Wildman and looking just about like you do now." Bey said seriously.
Gerry stared off into space for a minute, then said, "Okay, I'll see if I can talk to her. Hopefully no one else will get to her first."
"I don't think anyone else will get her today. She's working with Wildman, Nicoletti and Kim. But you'd better not wait too long." Paris said seriously.
"I can see that. What do you have for me to do today?" Gerry asked as he relaxed back in his chair.
"Bey, would you mind getting Gerry his breakfast while I fill him in?" Paris asked hopefully.
"Sure, be right back." Bey said and hurried away.
As soon as Bey was out of the room, Paris said, "I was originally going to ask you to work with Bey today. But after that Cardie crack, I don't think I want to put him through that."
"I said I was sorry Cap." Gerry said in a slight whine.
"Yeah. But it's just words unless you mean it." Paris said seriously.
"You can't expect me to let it go after everything I've been through fighting them." Gerry said with irritation.
"That wasn't you Gerry. That was Greg and Geron. All you've been through is what happened since you woke up yesterday." Paris said seriously.
Gerry closed his eyes and nodded.
"Now, we need weapons. Bey's phase pulse whip works. If you can treat him decently, and I mean for real, not just to try and make me happy, then you two can work together. Otherwise he'll be working alone and it will take him twice as long to get them done." Paris said firmly.
"Got it. You said you and him are together?" Gerry asked cautiously.
"We're getting there." Paris said seriously.
"Alright Cap. I'll treat him decent." Gerry said seriously.
"Are you guys ready for me to stop pretending to be getting the food?" Bey asked from the kitchen doorway.
"Yeah Bey. Just finished." Paris said with a smile.
"Good. It's getting cold." Bey said as he carried a tray of food and coffee to Gerry.
"Look at this. It's like real food." Gerry said in astonishment.
"It tastes even better than it looks." Paris said with a smile.
"I'm going to start gathering parts for the next phase whip." Bey said quietly.
"Hold on Bey. Let me finish and I'll go with you." Gerry said quickly.
"You don't have to." Bey said hesitantly.
"No. Cap just reminded me that everything I remember isn't from me. I forgot for a while, but now I understand. You and me, we're the same. Hell, we might have even been grown in neighboring petry dishes, that makes us kind of like brothers." Gerry said hopefully.
Bey smiled, then chuckled as he said, "That is the most round-about logic I've ever heard, but if it means you won't mind helping me today, I'll take it."
"Yeah, that's what it means." Gerry said as he continued to wolf down his food.
"You don't have to hurry, enjoy your breakfast, then we can start." Bey said seriously.
Gerry stopped his eating for a second, then took a sip of his coffee.
"Yeah. This is good, I should enjoy it." Gerry said honestly.
"There's more if you like. Just tell me how much." Bey said with a smile.
"One more just like this, coffee and all." Gerry said seriously.
"I'll be back in one minute." Bey said casually as he left.
"Thanks Gerry. Let me know if there's ever anything I can do to repay you for this." Paris said seriously.
"There is no obligation between friends, right Cap?" Gerry asked hopefully.
Paris smiled and said, "Right."