The door of the cabin opened and Andrew could hear Alan saying, "Are you sure you don't want to come in for a while?"
"No, I want to check in with Chakotay. Maybe we'll come by to visit later." Tom said and walked away.
Alan walked in to find Andrew sitting on the couch.
"You been awake long?" Alan asked as he seated himself beside Andrew.
"Just a few minutes. Did you have a good visit with Tom?" Andrew asked quietly, not wanting to pry but curious about what the men had been talking about.
"Yeah. He just wanted to talk. We stopped by the mess hall... it happens to be named appropriately." Alan said as he pulled Andrew in for a kiss.
"I'm glad you've been able to make friends here." Andrew said quietly.
"Would you like something to eat? We have a replicator that can make just about anything." Alan asked with worry.
"I'm not really hungry. Would you hold me?" Andrew asked tentatively.
Alan immediately pulled him into a tight embrace. "Andy, I can tell that something is bothering you. Do you feel like talking about it?" Alan asked with calm assurance.
"No... I love you." Andrew said as he took a moment to just experience the comfort of Alan's embrace.
"I love you too." Alan said and kissed the top of Andrew's head.
"While I was... asleep... in the Sickbay, I could feel you near me." Andrew said, soaking in the comfort.
"Really? What did you feel?" Alan asked curiously.
"You were talking to me, but I couldn't understand the words. Then you kissed me. You gave me a hug... and then I felt a tear drop on my cheek." Andrew said from distant memory.
"I was just telling you that everything was going to be okay. I didn't want you to be afraid if you were able to understand what was going on." Alan said soothingly.
"I was scared for a minute, but I knew you were watching out for me and everything was going to be okay." Andrew said with a smile.
"I protect you just like you protect me." Alan said, remembering his conversation about love with Tom.
"Forever." Andrew said in a whisper.
Alan held him close and felt the concern growing deep within his heart.
"Love?" Andrew asked in a whisper.
"I'm going to talk to the Doctor in the morning... would you do me a favor and wait for me here?" Andrew asked in a shaky tone.
"If that's what you want, I'll stay right here." Alan said, feeling hurt that Andrew didn't want him there.
"Thanks love... I was worried about asking you. Thank you for not making a fuss... I love you." Andrew said and pulled Alan tighter.
"Can I tell you something?" Alan asked tentatively.
"Anything." Andrew said and relaxed his grip.
"I'm worried. I know something is bothering you and you're not talking to me about it. I'm not trying to guilt you into telling me but, I want you to know what I'm feeling." Alan said, letting his concern show through his voice.
"I know you're worried, and I promise that after I talk to the Doctor, I'll tell you what it is. Right now I need to handle this my own way." Andrew said and buried his face in Alan's shoulder.
"Thanks for that. I trust you to do what is right, so I'll try not to be worried." Alan said with love.
"I think I'm ready to eat something. What can you make with that thing?" Andrew asked, glancing over at the replicator.
"Wait right here." Alan said happily.
A few minutes later Alan appeared with a steaming plate.
"Dinner is served." Alan said with pride.
"Beanie Weenies?" Andrew asked with disbelief.
"Just like home." Alan said and sat next to Andrew.
"I guess you do love me." Andrew said with a smile.
"Never doubt it." Alan said and watched Andrew eat.
* * * * *
"Doctor, do you have a minute?" Andrew asked from the doorway of the Doctor's office.
"Yes Mr. Wells, how may I help you?" the Doctor replied, setting down a padd.
"Something's... wrong. With me. I don't feel right." Andrew said with difficulty.
"How so?" the Doctor asked as a look of concern crossed his face.
"I don't *feel* right. It's like my emotions are... muffled." Andrew said, searching for the right words.
"You have just undergone extensive neural reconstruction, some disorientation is to be expected." the Doctor said in a practiced tone.
"It's more than that Doctor. I don't feel like me. Something you did changed me. After twenty-three years, I finally like me and I don't want to be different. I don't want to be like this. I like the way I was." Andrew said with pain in his voice.
"I assure you that I did nothing to alter you in any way, but since you are concerned, get on a biobed and I will run a comparative analysis against the readings from when you first arrived." the Doctor said, leading Andrew into the examination room.
Andrew did so and the Doctor activated the biobed's shell.
After a few minutes the Doctor said, "Curious."
"What is it Doctor?" Andrew asked with worry.
"I'm not sure." the Doctor said then pressed a button on the workstation and said, "Seven of Nine to the Sickbay."
* * * * *
"Tom? Are you busy right now?" Alan asked into the comm unit.
"I'm working a half shift today, so I have a few minutes. What's up?" Tom asked.
"Nothing much, I'm just about to crawl out of my skin with worry. Andrew went down to talk to the Doctor and asked me to stay here."
"Why would he do that?" Tom asked with concern.
"I have no idea. But I'm going crazy with worry down here." Alan said helplessly.
"I have to go to work soon, but I think I know someone who can keep you company until Andrew gets back. Just open the door in a few minutes when it chimes." Tom said and signed off the comm.
* * * * *
"You require my assistance Doctor?" Seven asked as she entered the Sickbay.
"Can you explain the presence of nano-probes in Mr. Wells' thyroid and pancreas?" the Doctor asked with challenge in his voice.
"I detected systemic damage from a congenital defect which was aggravated by prolonged malnutrition. Therefore I corrected the damage." Seven said without emotion.
"What did she do Doctor?" Andrew asked with worry.
"She repaired systemic damage which had the effect of altering your brain chemistry. The damage would have made you prone to mood swings, emotionalism and occasional erratic behavior." the Doctor explained.
"Fix it." Andrew demanded.
"It is irrational to damage a unit that is operating at optimum efficiency." Seven said flatly.
"Doctor, you are a computer program, right?" Andrew asked carefully.
"Yes, a bit of an understatement, but essentially correct." the Doctor said.
"If someone thought you would operate more efficiently without your emotions, even some of them, wouldn't you try to stop them from changing you?" Andrew asked with pleading in his voice.
After a moment of silence the Doctor finally said, "Point taken."
"I do not understand." Seven said looking from Andrew to the Doctor.
"Seven, as individuals, humans have differences and variations, that is part of their strength. While one person may be debilitated by the systemic damage that Mr. Wells had, others adapt to it and integrate it into their life. Mr. Wells' is apparently a person who has learned to live with the mood swings and erratic behavior brought on by the abnormal brain chemistry. It has become part of who he is and he feels the loss of that part of himself." the Doctor explained.
"I still do not understand. But understanding is not required. Do you wish me to damage the organs to recreate the original conditions?" Seven asked and looked at the computer's readout.
The Doctor thought about what Seven was asking and said, "No Seven. I will need to do some research and find another way to deal with this. I know Mr. Wells wants to be restored to his original condition but damaging healthy organs should be a last resort. My ethical subroutines are jumping at the thought of it."
"So what are you going to do Doctor?" Andrew asked with concern.
"Rest assured that I will correct the problem Mr. Wells. Please allow me the time to find what options are available to you." the Doctor said calmly.
"As long as you promise to fix me, I can wait for a little while." Andrew said, resigned.
"I promise." the Doctor said in a solemn voice.
* * * * *
Andrew opened the door to his cabin to be confronted by a stranger in his living room talking to Alan.
"Andrew, this is Harry Kim. Harry, this is my partner, Andrew Wells." Alan said with a smile.
"Nice to meet you Harry." Andrew said a bit unsurely. He had been rehearsing what he was going to say to Alan in his mind, and hadn't considered that they might not be alone.
"I guess I'm going to go now. You two probably need to talk." Harry said and turned to leave.
"You don't have to..." Andrew began.
"Yes he does." Alan said with a smile at Harry.
"I was just here to keep him company till you got back. He was going crazy with worry for you." Harry said with a sly grin before walking out the door.
"He could have stayed." Andrew said helplessly.
"Harry knows that you were in Sickbay and that I'm about to go nuts wanting to find out what's wrong. Can you tell me now?" Alan asked with a helpless tone.
"Yeah." Andrew answered in a small voice.
Alan motioned for Andrew to 'come here' and took him into an embrace.
"When Seven fixed me, she did something to my brain chemistry." Andrew said shakily.
"What did she do? Are you alright?" Alan asked with worry.
"Whatever she did made it so I don't feel things the same as before. It's like everything I feel has had the volume turned down." Andrew said with difficulty.
"Do you still love me?" Alan asked in a scared voice.
"Yeah, but it's not the same as it was before..." Andrew trailed off and walked into the bedroom.
"Love?" Alan said, worried at the abrupt movement.
Andrew returned with Alan's red glasses. "Put these on." Andrew demanded.
Alan took the glasses and put them on.
"What does the world look like to you now?" Andrew asked in a desperate voice.
"Everything is red... shades of red." Alan said, not knowing why Andrew was asking.
"What if I told you that you couldn't ever take those glasses off again. You'll only ever see the world like this... how would you feel?" Andrew asked, hoping he could make Alan understand.
"I would hate it. Now that I've seen the world of color, I wouldn't want to go back to seeing the world in shades of red." Alan said absolutely.
"That's how I feel. When Seven changed me, she put the glasses on my emotions. Love isn't bright blue, it's just another shade of red. Anger isn't burning yellow, just another shade of red... I had to find out what was wrong with me before I told you. I didn't want you to think that my feelings had changed toward you..." Andrew said helplessly.
"Can the Doctor do anything to make you better?" Alan asked, near tears now that he understood.
"He's going to try. He said he would call me when he could give me some options." Andrew said and moved into Alan's arms.
"Oh Andy. I don't know what to do for you, but if you need anything, just let me know and you've got it." Alan said helplessly.
"Just hold me." Andrew whispered.
* * * * *
"Sickbay to Mr. Wells." sounded from the comm unit.
"Go ahead Doctor." Andrew said with desperation.
"Will you come to Sickbay so I can give you the list of options?" the Doctor asked professionally.
"We'll be right there Doctor." Andrew said quickly and pulled Alan up from the couch.
After a moment of thought, Andrew motioned to an empty wall and a portal formed.
"You sure you want to do that?" Alan asked hesitantly.
"I don't want to be like this any longer than I have to." Andrew said desperately and pulled Alan into the portal.
* * * * *
They stepped out of the portal into the hallway outside Sickbay.
As they entered, the Doctor gave a surprised look. "Were you waiting outside the door?"
"I didn't want you to think I wasn't serious about this. What do you have for me?" Andrew asked impatiently.
"After some investigation I realized that we can simulate your condition. Rather than damage perfectly healthy organs, which will cause them to fail sooner than they should, I could implant a device to mimic the symptoms of your original condition. It would behave much like an old Earth treatment you may be familiar with... a pacemaker. But rather than stimulate the heart to beat regularly, it would stimulate the pancreas and thyroid into overproduction." the Doctor said instructively.
"Will it make me feel like myself again?" Andrew asked cautiously.
"Yes, I will program it to mimic the original levels that your condition maintained. And with the continued help of Seven of Nine's nano-probes, the increased production will not cause damage to the organs." the Doctor said confidently.
"When can we do it. I don't want to be like this any longer than I have to." Andrew said with pleading in his voice.
"Tomorrow. I will have to replicate the devices and then program each to produce the desired effect."
"Good. I'll be back then... thank you for understanding Doctor." Andrew said plaintively.
"You're very welcome." the Doctor said and went back to his work.
* * * * *
The next morning came and Andrew was in the Sickbay before most of the gamma shift had been relieved.
"Good morning Mr. Wells. It is technically morning, but only just." the Doctor said with a teasing smile.
"Can we do it now?" Andrew asked with pleading.
"Yes, get on a biobed and I will begin... Mr. Summers, if you'll get on a biobed, I'll be to you as soon as I can." the Doctor said and began gathering things.
"Me?" Alan asked in surprise.
"Yes, while I have you both here I might as well take advantage." the Doctor said and pressed a button on the workstation. "Lieutenant Paris to Sickbay." he said and went back to work.
"After I implant your 'pacemakers' your body will need time to adjust to the chemistry and I may need to make some adjustments. While we wait, I thought I could give Mr. Summers his new kidney." the Doctor said happily.
"But I feel fine." Alan said tentatively.
"And to keep you feeling fine, you'll be receiving this kidney." the Doctor said and motioned to a box on his workstation.
"You called Doctor?" Tom asked as he walked into Sickbay.
"Yes Lieutenant. I have a pair of patients who need to be prepared for surgery and am in need of an extra pair of hands." the Doctor said and gestured to the two men on the biobeds.
"Hey guys. It's a little early for surgery, isn't it?" Tom asked and yawned.
"If Mr. Wells had his way, we would have had surgery as soon as these implants were out of the replicator last night." the Doctor said as he moved said implants to Andrew's bedside.
"Relax guys. I'm going to give you something to put you to sleep now. I'll be here when you wake up." Tom said with a reassuring smile and injected Andrew with a hypospray.
* * * * *
Andrew awoke to see the Doctor and Tom Paris standing over Alan.
"How is he?" Andrew asked quietly.
"Just fine Mr. Wells. And how are you feeling?" the Doctor asked without looking.
"Okay, a little sleepy." Andrew answered.
"Good, it may take a while for your brain chemistry to adjust to the new insulin and hormone levels. Don't worry if you don't feel *just* like yourself right away." the Doctor said and continued to work.
"I understand Doctor. When will I be able to go?" Andrew asked, feeling strange.
"Whenever you wish. I'll be finished with Mr. Summers momentarily, I assume you'll want to wait for him."
"Of course Doctor. Thank you for doing this for us." Andrew said with emotion showing through his voice.
"Only doing my job Mr. Wells." the Doctor said and turned to face him.
"Are you done?" Andrew asked with a little concern.
"Yes, he should be awake within a half an hour, when he is, you two are free to go. I will want you both back here tomorrow for a follow-up." the Doctor said and left the room.
"How is he Tom?" Andrew asked as he got off his bed.
"He's just fine. The operation was a complete success. The kidney is functioning normally and we've just begun cloning the new leg, it should be ready in a few days." Tom said with a smile.
"Thanks for taking care of him Tom." Andrew said seriously.
"Just doing my job." Tom said in a mimic of the Doctor's tone.
Andrew chuckled at Tom's 'Doctor' imitation and said, "Not just for that, but for talking with him when he was worried... I'm glad he has someone who'll listen."
"No problem. Alan's a good guy. I'm a little jealous of you two." Tom said honestly.
"Really? Two banged up mutants, four hundred years from home? What's to be jealous of?" Andrew asked honestly.
"You're together. All the rest doesn't matter. You have each other." Tom said with a bittersweet smile.
Andrew felt a tear fall down his cheek and said with a chuckle, "This must be one of those mood swings the Doctor was talking about."
* * * * *
Alan and Andrew made their way back to their cabin the old fashioned way, via turbolift and hallways.
Once inside Alan asked, "How you feeling Andy?"
"I don't know yet. Better I guess." Andrew said and sat on the couch.
Alan sat down next to him and pulled him into an embrace.
The hug lasted long minutes and as they finally separated Alan noticed tears in Andrew's eyes.
"Anything the matter love?" Alan asked carefully.
"No. Everything is just perfect. While you were still sleeping Tom talked with me and made me realize how lucky I am." Andrew said with joy radiating from his eyes.
"Oh Andy. It's good to have you back." Alan said with relief and pulled him close again.
"It's good to be back. I never want to have to go through that again." Andrew said and held on tighter.
"Andy, I need to ask you a couple things. Could you sit up so I can talk to you?" Alan said with a serious tone in his voice.
Andrew sat up and looked at Alan.
"I know we decided to wait a year before making it official but... technically that was four hundred years ago. Would you consider having the commitment ceremony with me now?" Alan asked with a tone of desperation.
"Now as in this minute?" Andrew asked, wanting to be sure of what he was about to agree to.
"Now as in later this week. Not eleven months from now." Alan said, not changing his expression a bit.
"Yes. I didn't have a doubt about my feelings before, but I wanted to know that you were sure of your own... now I don't have any doubt about your feelings either." Andrew said peacefully.
"Good. That leads me to my next question. It is possible for two men to have a child in this time... I want to have our child. How do you feel about that?" Alan asked carefully, watching for any hint of a problem.
A glorious smile came across Andrew's face before he said, "I think it is a wonderful idea. But you've been hurt so much, I should be the one to carry the baby." Andrew said with concern for Alan's health.
"I'll be fully healed in less than a week. And I *really* want this Andy." Alan said in a careful, serious tone.
Andrew looked carefully at Alan's expression and finally nodded before asking, "When?"
"Immediately following the commitment ceremony. I want to have our child as soon as possible." Alan said happily.
"Good. You're going to be a great father" Andrew said with joy.
"So will you. God, I love you. I can't wait till we can get this all done." Alan said with excitement.
* * * * *
Half an hour later...
"What's wrong Andy?" Alan asked.
"What's wrong? That's a real good question. Let's see. I'm four-hundred years from home, across the galaxy *and* in another dimension. What the hell do you think is wrong?" Andrew screamed.
"I don't understand why you're angry. Please calm down and talk to me." Alan asked in a calming tone.
"DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" Andrew screamed.
"I'm not..." Alan began.
"Why don't you get *Tom Paris* or *Harry Kim* to come over and *talk* to you?" Andrew said, accenting the words with cruelty and innuendo.
"Love, they're just friends." Alan said, confused.
"Creo Ignum Corvus." Andrew said with fury in his eyes and created a flaming bird.
"Andy love, please don't..." Alan said as Andrew released the bird.
Alan hit the wall and slid down.
"Oh Gods! What did I do?" Andrew said and ran over to Alan.
He patted out the flames on Alan's chest and pulled Alan's arm around his shoulder.
With a little grunt of effort he brought Alan to almost standing and took one step which relocated them to Sickbay.
"Doctor? Where are you. We need your help." Andrew called with panic.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency." The Doctor said and resolved into being.
"Get him to a biobed. I'll help you." the Doctor said and took Alan's other arm.
"Oh Gods, I hurt him. Doctor, I hurt him." Andrew said with tears streaming down his face.
"What did you use? A flame-thrower?" the Doctor asked as he pulled the burned material away from Alan's chest.
"I hurt him. I couldn't stop it." Andrew mumbled and began to shake.
"Lieutenant Paris to Sickbay for a medical emergency." the Doctor called and activated the biobed.
"Sit down here Mr. Wells. If you want me to help Mr. Summers, you will have to sit down here." the Doctor said and moved Andrew to a biobed.
"What's up Doctor?" Tom asked as he ran into the room.
"I need for you to use the dermal regenerator on Mr. Summer's chest while I assess the condition of Mr. Wells." the Doctor said.
"What happened?" Tom asked as he grabbed the dermal regenerator and went to work.
"Give me a moment to find out." the Doctor said and ran a tricorder over Andrew's shaking body.
Tom worked to repair the burn damage to Alan's skin, then looked at the biobed's readout. "Do you want me to do anything about his concussion?" Tom asked with worry for his friend.
"Yes Lieutenant Paris, If you would be so kind." the Doctor said and grabbed a hypospray.
"What are you giving me? Why aren't you helping Alan?" Andrew asked with panic.
"Lieutenant Paris is taking care of him and I'm giving you a mild sedative to calm you down." the Doctor said and injected Andrew's neck.
There was a long moment of silence before Alan could be heard saying, "Andy?"
"I'm right here. I'm sorry. Oh Gods, I'm so sorry."
Alan got up off the biobed and walked to Andrew's side.
"What happened? I don't even know why you were angry." Alan asked helplessly.
"I may be able to explain that." the Doctor said to both.
"What is it? Did the implants not work right?" Andrew asked with hope.
"No, the implants are working perfectly. Your body needs to get used to the altered chemistry again before the mood swings smooth out a bit." the Doctor said with assurance.
"That was a mood swing?" Alan asked with disbelief.
"Oh Gods Alan, I'm so sorry. I never even thought this could happen... Doctor, if the implants are going to make me do this, I don't want them." Andrew said quickly.
"No Andy, you can't." Alan said with worry.
"I'd rather feel nothing than take the chance of hurting you again. Oh Gods..." Andrew said as he broke down into uncontrolled sobbing.
"Doctor, isn't there something you can do for him?" Alan asked with concern.
"No, any treatment I could give would only prolong his adjustment to the altered brain chemistry. He must endure this to become the way he was before." the Doctor said with confidence.
"Take... them out." Andrew said between sobs.
"No Andy, you just have to go through this and I can have you back just like before." Alan said with pleading in his voice.
"Won't hurt you again. Would rather die." Andrew said despondently.
"Andy, don't say that. Don't EVER say that." Alan said with panic.
"Lieutenant Paris, help me get Mr. Wells into a reclined position." the Doctor instructed.
"You aren't going to do it? Are you Doctor? Please don't take out the implants." Alan begged.
After a tense moment, the Doctor looked up and said, "I have just restrained Mr. Wells for his own protection."
Tom and Alan looked at Andrew with sympathy.
"Mr. Wells, am I to understand that you want to have the implants removed to protect Mr. Summers from you?" the Doctor asked professionally.
"Please don't...." Alan whispered.
The Doctor raised his hand to stop Alan and watched Andrew carefully, obviously waiting for a response.
"Yes. Please take out the implants. If they make me hurt Alan, I don't want them anymore." Andrew said with certainty.
"Might I suggest that instead, you remain here in the restraint field until your brain chemistry has stabilized. That way you won't be able to harm Mr. Summers... or yourself... and there won't be a need to undo all my hard work." the Doctor said reasonably.
Andrew thought about it for a moment then said, "Yeah, that makes sense."
"Good. Lieutenant Paris, would you bring a chair in for Mr. Summers, I assume he won't be leaving Sickbay in the foreseeable future." the Doctor said with a note of triumph in his voice.
"Right away Doctor." Tom said and got the chair.