As had been his habit of late, Tom was visiting Chakotay after their duty shifts.
The conversation had been general as always with the occasional brief kiss.
Tom was watching Chakotay work on an intricate sand painting and thinking about their situation.
As Tom thought about their relationship, he realized that it wasn't progressing. They were friends, boyfriends... barely. But neither he nor Chakotay was making the move to be more. With an attitude of resolve and a firm voice, Tom asked, "Where do you want this thing between us to end up? Do you want us to be friends? Lovers? A couple like Andrew and Alan? Tell me what you want."
Chakotay was stunned by the serious mood that seemed to creep up from nowhere. Unsteadily, he said, "I'm not the only one in this relationship. I need to know what you want too."
"Fair enough. But I'm putting it all on the line here. There's no taking back the words once they're said." Tom said with concern.
"Whatever it is, we'll be okay." Chakotay said with assurance. Then he turned his complete attention to Tom and asked in a quiet voice, "What do you want?"
"I want it all. Friends, lovers, partners, husbands, kids. Not right now, but in time I want to go through each of those stages until we end up bound together forever." Tom said in a tone as if he were daring Chakotay to disagree.
Chakotay sat stunned. He never thought that Tom was capable of considering that type of commitment, and it frightened him.
"Chakotay?" Tom asked with a hint of fear.
"Uh, yeah, you just caught me off guard. I don't know if I'm..."
"Did you hear the part about 'not right now'? 'Stages'? I'm talking about what I would like to happen, it doesn't mean that I expect it, or I won't settle for anything less. If we're just friends and nothing more, I'll consider myself lucky to have such a wonderful friend. I'm just saying up front that I'm not in this just till I'm bored with it. I'm tired of screwing around and I'm really committed to making our relationship work, whatever it turns out to be." Tom said reasonably.
Chakotay finally said in a voice filled with awe, "I never knew you had it in you to be so mature and responsible."
"Great..." Tom said darkly, then continued with impatience, "Now tell me what you want. Between us. In the best possible future you can imagine. Where do you see us ending up?"
"No, lie to me... of course 'honestly'! Quit stalling." Tom chastised, allowing his frustration to show clearly.
Chakotay gave a sharp nod and said in a voice tinged with anger, "I want you to be my husband by the traditions of my tribe. My one and only husband forever. My soul-mate, my lover and father of our children."
"Fine. Let's do that." Tom said with full anger and took a drink of his tea.
Chakotay stopped in stunned silence for a moment then began to laugh.
Tom, still holding on to his anger asked, "What's so funny?"
"That has to be the meanest, angriest proposal outside the Klingon empire." Chakotay laughed.
"I proposed?" Tom asked in confusion.
"Yeah. Wait till we tell the grandkids about how you proposed during our first screaming fight." Chakotay said with a chuckle.
"If I proposed, did you answer?" Tom asked cautiously.
"Not as such. Let me do that now." Chakotay said tenderly and cleared his throat before saying, "Yes, I would be honored to become your husband and promise to do whatever it takes to make our relationship work."
"This is the part where we kiss, isn't it?" Tom asked as Chakotay moved closer.
"Oh yeah." Chakotay said and pulled Tom into a deep passionate kiss.
Finally the need for air asserted itself and Tom pulled away, gasping. "I cant' believe we passed up four years of that. What were we thinking?" Tom said breathily.
"Less talk, more kiss." Chakotay grunted and pulled Tom close again.
* * * * *
Tom woke to the sensation of being nuzzled behind the ear. He thought back to the previous night and smiled. [God, please don't let him regret last night.] He prayed.
"Good morning Tom." Chakotay said and moved down to nuzzle his neck.
"Good morning. Are you always this... friendly, first thing in the morning?" Tom asked, enjoying the attention.
"Not really, but you have to consider that I've slept alone every single night for the last four years. I haven't really had the opportunity to be friendly for quite a while." Chakotay said and began to move down Tom's chest.
"We have to get ready for our duty shifts soon, don't get the motor warmed up if you're not going to take it out for a drive." Tom warned.
"Huh?" Chakotay asked in true confusion.
"Don't start anything you can't finish." Tom paraphrased.
"Wouldn't think of it. I promise, I'll never leave you hanging if I can help it." Chakotay said and began to tease a nipple.
"Ungh, that's good to know. If you swing around, I might be able to return the favor." Tom said as Chakotay brought his nipple to almost painful hardness.
"I get mine this morning, you get yours tonight." Chakotay said as he moved to the other nipple.
"Is that so? You have it all planned out?" Tom asked in a teasing tone.
"Yeah, this morning I'm going to get you off... twice... before we have to get ready for our duty shifts and tonight you can do whatever you want with me." Chakotay said happily and started working his way down Tom's stomach.
"Twice? After last night?" Tom asked with disbelief.
"Yeah. And if you can still form sentances, I'm not doing it right." Chakotay said and engulfed Tom's erect member in one swift movement.
"Mmpf." Was all that Tom could manage to say in response.
"Do you think they'll be okay?" Tom asked as he looked up from his breakfast.
"I'm sure they'll be fine. You remember what they said about how drastically their lives change. Honestly, I think they were surprised that it took as long as it did before everything changed again." Chakotay said seriously.
"I guess so... it's just... I feel kind of lost without them here." Tom said absently.
"I know, I do too. We just have to continue on. Who knows? The forces that guide the universe may guide them back to us one day." Chakotay said distantly.
"Or us to them." Tom said in his own distant voice.
Chakotay smiled and said, "That's right. We've visited their century once already. There's nothing that says we won't do it again."
Tom considered the statement and said, "Yeah. I guess it's not really 'goodbye'."
"Whatever happens, we just have to accept that we aren't in control of everything and adapt to what is before us." Chakotay said calmly.
"Thanks Chak. I'd be a real mess if I didn't have you to talk to about this." Tom said quietly.
"That goes for me too. Meditation and belief in the spirits help to a certain degree, but having you here to face things with me makes dealing with change a lot easier." Chakotay said with a gentle smile.
"Do you think you could show me some of the spirit stuff you believe in? I've never really thought about that stuff before but now... I just feel like it's time." Tom said distantly.
"Sure, I'd be honored to share my beliefs with you." Chakotay said happily.
"How are you guys doing this morning? Mind if I join you?" Harry asked as he approached the table with a tray of food.
Tom glanced to Chakotay to receive an almost imperceptible nod.
"Sure Harry, have a seat. How are you doing?" Tom asked, forcing cheer into his voice.
"I'm fine. I'm still having trouble believing that Alan and Andrew went home. I mean, we've been traveling out here for nearly five years and they just left as suddenly as they arrived." Harry said before starting to eat.
"I know what you mean. But from what they told us, that's how their lives seem to operate." Tom said seriously.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked with interest.
Tom looked to Chakotay, seeing if he wanted to explain.
Chakotay smiled at being included in the conversation and said, "From what I've put together from everything they said to me, I think it goes something like this. Andrew is from one dimension, Alan is from another and they met each other in a third. Alan's dimension was fighting an all out war between mutants and non-mutants, Andrew's was filled with creatures they considered demons that threatened the survival of humanity and the third sounded like it was both, just to a lesser degree."
"Right, and the way the guys got to know each other was by spending time together recovering from injuries." Tom said with a smile.
"Wow. I guess that their time here must have been pretty boring compared to all that." Harry said in a voice filled with awe.
"I don't know, I think the children gave them enough challenges to keep it interesting for them." Tom said with a chuckle.
"Don't remind me. I lived with one of them, remember?" Harry said darkly.
"I like Trey. What was your problem with him?" Tom asked curiously.
"He was like my mother, following me around, watching everything I did, complaining when I didn't recycle my dishes right away or put my laundry in the fresher." Harry said in a aggravated tone.
Tom shook his had in exasperation and said, "He's Borg. Organization and order are everything to them. Chaos is unacceptable."
"I guess. From the way he talked to me, he thought *I* was unacceptable." Harry said as he looked down at his plate.
"I'm sorry you two didn't get along. I honestly thought you and he would probably become friends." Chakotay said quietly.
Harry looked at Chakotay with question.
"You seem to have such a... youthful attitude that I thought you would be able to relate to a teenage boy." Chakotay said with difficulty.
Harry thought about the words for a moment, then finally said, "I suppose you're right. The only problem is that Trey was so serious all the time that we just couldn't connect. I guess after the first time he criticized me, I kind of went out of my way to upset him. I suppose I could have tried harder. I feel like I failed you or something."
"Don't worry about it Ensign Kim. Some people just don't get along and I realize that. And it worked out for the best since Trey decided to be adopted." Chakotay finished with a smile.
"Thank you Commander." Harry finished with a sheepish smile.