A Sporting Chance

Harry Kim lay sprawled on the floor, panting heavily, trying to get his breath back. The ball was only a meter away. He looked at his opponent, who was lying face down a meter to the other side of the ball, also breathing heavily. Greg Ayala turned his head and their eyes met.

Greg smiled and quickly pushed himself up onto his hands and knees, making a lunge toward the ball, crying triumphantly as his hand grasped the elusive orange sphere. Harry had a burst of his own energy, and rolled on his side, scrabbling to get closer, making a grab for the ball in Greg's hand.

The man fought back.

"No way," Greg said, laughing, "it's mine."

"Was mine," Harry said, as his fingers worked to pry Greg's off of the prize. He pulled hard, but the larger man's hands were stronger. It was no wonder why Ayala was the second highest ranking Security Officer - he was one of the physically strongest men on board. Without warning, Harry was pushed onto his back, and Greg was sitting on his thighs, immobilizing him. "What the hell are you doing, Greg?" A nervous laugh escaped, and he immediately cursed himself for the lack of control.

Greg smiled. It was almost feral, showing just a hint of the victor. "I think I'm overpowering you. And, I've got the ball." He opened his hand and showed off his spoils, still smiling.

Harry made another swipe for the ball, but Greg moved his hand out of reach. With his other, he held Harry's torso firmly to the floor. "Greg..."

"What? You want something? 'Cause you didn't win. So you're not getting this. Here I thought Starfleet boys always played fair." Greg snickered.

"I did win. And, I thought the Maquis had some code of honor or something. You cheated!" Harry glared at him.

Greg tossed the ball to a far corner of the room and fell forward, taking Harry's arms and pinning them. "Admit it, Harry - you lost. Fair and square. And, now you're whining!"

"I am not whining..." Harry looked up into deep set eyes that were sparkling with pure amusement. He took a deliberately deep breath to calm his suddenly thrumming pulse. Wasn't this what he had wanted? This man looming over him? He felt Greg's hot, muscular, sweaty legs pressing into his own. The burning where large hands gripped his biceps, just hard enough to hold him, gently enough not to hurt him. If he were to turn his arms, just like that, he could easily touch the skin of Greg's arms under his tee shirt sleeves, feel the valley where the muscular definition was so pronounced. Harry was enthralled with how smooth the skin felt, the solid firmness just below the surface--

"Harry," Greg said, in an unfamiliar tone of voice.

Startled, Harry looked directly at Greg. Amusement had become something else entirely. Something heated. Harry's heartbeat hammered. Wasn't this what he had wanted? Why were his fingers tingling, and his hands sweating, and his stomach doing flip-flops like he was fourteen years old?

"Harry," Greg repeated, softly this time.

But, Harry could think of no response. No words came.

"I'm going to.... fuck...," Greg said, and came at him.

Harry thought, Greg's going to fuck? What-- Greg's mouth covered his and all thinking ceased. Hot lips tasting vaguely of salt moved persuasively over his. Greg's lips. Greg was kissing him. Greg was holding him down and kissing him. Harry grabbed the arms under his fingers and kissed back, fiercely. Greg moaned, and the sound of it, the vibration of it against his mouth caused blood to surge into his groin, his lips to part, and his tongue to lick the opening staying just out of his reach. He struggled for some mobility. Greg stopped kissing him, and pulled back sharply. Their eyes met.

Harry searched for something in the deep brown irises, some clue, some indication. Greg looked startled, and sort of dazed. Greg pulled back further, and took his hands off of Harry's biceps. Harry's heartbeat hammered faster. He reached for Greg, but couldn't quite touch his face. Something else moved across the dark eyes staring down into his.

Greg brought his hands back down slowly, onto the deck on either side of Harry's shoulders. He lowered his head, and let Harry pull him, moving slowly, never breaking their eye lock, breathing shallowly, and finally falling on his mouth, kissing him intensely. Harry wrapped his arms around Greg's shoulders and neck, giving everything he had to their kisses, and this time, this time he was allowed in. He swept inside and tasted all that Greg was, felt the soft, flexible heat of the man's tongue swirling around his. He felt strong, and powerful from taking control. Submissive, and giving, as Greg let more of his weight press him to the floor. Harry hardened further, and further, and thrust into the air, begging Greg to move off and give him full body contact.

Greg moved, sliding his legs down, and out, and let his groin settle on Harry's hip. His heartbeat hammered faster to feel the strong erection pushing against him. Overwhelmed by heat, and want, he let out a muffled groan that had worked its way up from his gut, and rocked his pelvis. Greg increased the intensity of the kisses until it felt as if their mouths were fusing together, and he would die a happy man from lack of oxygen.

Greg stopped moving, and pulled back enough to speak. "What are we doing..."

Harry again had no response. Tell Greg the truth? That what Harry was doing was his damnedest to encourage the man to fuck him into the next quadrant? To show Greg exactly what he meant? To keep him from seeing how scared Harry felt? How much he felt?

"Harry - we should stop. I should stop," Greg said in a low voice.

Harry's heartbeat was the thing that stopped. Freezing cold replaced the heat in his chest. He tried to find more elusive words to ask, but, the man still covering him found them first.

Greg's gaze heated up. "I-- I don't do casual..."

Harry finally found some, too. "And, that's what this is for you?"

"Isn't that what it is for you?"

"I asked you first," Harry said sharply.

"Yeah, well, I asked you second, big deal," Greg shot back. "Tell me what you want with me."

But, Harry couldn't tell him. His emotions were ricocheting all over the place, and he could no longer see what he had seen in the deep-set eyes that stared right down into him. He was terrified that his throat would close, and a tear might escape, and that would be so much more than horrific, to let Gregory see that essential weakness of his character, that one thing that he was constantly berated for in the Academy. "You've got to toughen up there, Kim..."

Tell Greg what he wanted? He wanted Greg to love him. To respect him. He moved his hand until it was poised over the left side of his chest. Meeting Greg's stare squarely, he tapped his badge, and said, "Kim to transporter room one. Emergency site to site - one to my quarters." Greg's eyes went very wide.

"Acknowledged."

The tingle of the beam was all he felt until his living area appeared around him. He got to his feet and walked unsteadily to the bathroom, tearing off his sweaty clothing as he went, ignoring the fact he could hardly see for the tears filling his eyes. He stood under the shower, and let himself fall apart.

--^--^--^--^--

Greg sat in the holo-gym simulation, long enough for the next person who had reserved time to access the system. Greg left without acknowledging the crew mate, and made his way slowly to deck seven, absently greeting friends who were leaving quarters for dinner in the mess hall. Once inside his own cabin, he removed his smelly workout clothes, tossed them in the refresher, and replicated a tall glass of juice on the rocks.

As he drank, he walked into the bedroom, to the mirror, and studied his reflection. Greg was not a vain man, but, he was a man who kept himself in shape. He knew his strengths. He knew his weaknesses. His physical stamina and power were obvious. He could bench press his body weight with ease, and considering the size of some Delta Quadrant races, he knew his ship benefited from this ability.

The down side, however, was much more personal. More often than he wanted, he easily and unthinkingly intimidated potential lovers. And, men who were smaller than he were his weakness. His vice. His Achilles heel. At this point in his life, one man in particular was his greatest weakness. The man was Starfleet through and through. Captain Janeway's most ardent supporter. Straight laced and serious was how he had pegged him from the very first. Obviously, his assessment was wrong. Straight laced - no. Serious - no, at least, not all of the time.

He left the mirror for the shower, and set the water to hot, to pummel his tired body. He thought about all of the ways he had been wrong about Harry Kim. He had thought Harry did not have casual affairs on board. And, serious relationships don't begin with sex on the holodeck, about that Greg was certain. Today proved to him that he and Harry were still worlds apart. He tried to accept this as fact, but, it stung. It made his chest ache with untold, very old pain. He had thought Harry was different. Different.... His stomach clenched, hard. He couldn't breathe. He faced the wall and let out his frustration with a fist to the shower stall. As the bruises appeared on his knuckles, he tried to decide whether to leave them, or make a trip to sick bay before dinner.

--^--^--^--^--

Harry dressed in off-duty clothes while he considered options. Dinner in his quarters, using rapidly dwindling replicator rations. Dinner in the mess - possibility of seeing Greg, possibility of various friends wanting to chat. He honestly could not afford the rations, so, without doing much more than running a comb through his wet hair and slipping on some shoes, he left for deck two. He would do no talking, and no visiting.

When he entered the mess hall, he took a quick survey of the room as he retrieved a tray, relieved to find that none of his friends were there. An empty table in the corner was just what he needed. He ignored Neelix's attempts at small talk with a nod and a thank you, then sat so he could look out the viewports. For once, the food on his plate was tasteless. A very good thing. He shoveled it into his mouth and watched the stars.

--^--^--^--^--

"Lieutenant, I must insist you tell me how you injured your knuckles," the Doctor said with his typically imperious tone.

"And what if I refuse?" Greg said. "You going to call Security? Would you please fix the hand, Doctor?" He was a minute away from leaving. Maybe someone had a regenerator in their quarters. Maybe Tom had one. Maybe Samantha.

The Doctor huffed. "I will not call Security, but either way I will be making a report to Commander Chakotay. Starfleet regulation 273.62 states--"

"Thank you," Greg said, "I don't need to hear a run down of the regs involving security matters." Tuvok drilled them all on each and every one in their monthly staff meetings. He hated the exercise. He sighed in exasperation. "Fine. Why don't you call the commander, and I'll explain it to him. Privately."

"I afford all of my patients privacy, Mr. Ayala. Doctor-patient privilege is sacrosanct, unless it involves an altercation between crew members, you know that."

Greg wondered if you could strangle a hologram with a sore hand, and what the effect would be. "Doctor. Call him. Please? I'm hungry."

"Very well. No need to get insolent, lieutenant," the EMH replied, and left for his office.

Within ten minutes, Chakotay was striding into sick bay with a look of concern on his face. He perched on the biobed next to Greg. "Okay, what happened?"

"I didn't hit anyone," Greg stated. "That's all that's relevant."

Chakotay folded his arms, studied him. "So, you didn't hit a person - what did you hit?"

"I don't think that's relevant," Greg said.

"Well, it may not be officially relevant, but, as your friend, I'd like to know that you're okay. Hitting something inanimate implies that you were upset. I know you, Greg, you don't go around punching without extreme provocation," Chakotay said. He lowered his voice. "I thought you were going to play hoverball with Harry this afternoon - did something happen there? Why wouldn't you tell the Doctor?"

"I appreciate the concern. I'm fine. Now, I'd like to get my hand fixed, and get some dinner--"

"So, something did happen on the holodeck. With Harry. But, you didn't hit him, you punched something else. Your wall, probably. You were angry--"

"Chakotay," Greg said through clenched teeth, "please drop it. I'm fine. Nothing happened that made me angry! Frustrated, yes. Not angry. I-- I just learned that I was very, very wrong about something, that's all. Now, please drop it."

But, his friend continued to assess him, in that quiet, serious, intense way of his. "You made a move on him, didn't you?"

Greg jumped off the biodbed. "That's it. I'm going to find a regenerator and fix this fucking thing myself. I don't need any help. Don't need anything or anybody...."

Chakotay grabbed his arm. "Hold it, I haven't ended this conversation."

Greg let out a single, harsh laugh. "Oh, suddenly you're going to pull rank on me? I thought you were just talking to me as a friend. You going to make out a report? Well, send this one to the captain, I'm sure she'll get a kick out of it. Security Officer Lieutenant Ayala and Chief Operations Officer Ensign Kim had a passionate encounter this afternoon, during which time said Security Officer learned that said Operations Officer was only out for a quick fuck. Nothing more. Much to the surprise of the Security Officer. In a fit of upset, as the newly married First Officer calls it, a certain shower stall on deck seven was dented. Maybe you could submit copies of the report to the senior staff. Maybe Neelix could interview me on the next show!" He wrenched his arm out of Chakotay's grasp.

"Harry was out for a quickie? That I can't imagine...."

"Yeah, well, just because you're all shacked up now with your husband, doesn't mean the rest of the world believes in love."

"Harry? Are you sure?"

"No question. I asked him point blank. He answered by leaving. Beamed himself out from under me. Couldn't have been clearer."

Chakotay tugged his ear and stared at the carpet for a long minute. He sighed, then lifted his glance. "Well, I'm sorry, Greg. I think you should consider talking to Harry again, or if you don't want to do that, come over and talk to Tom. But - in the meantime, let's get your hand fixed, and you to the mess hall." He waved toward the office.

"I'm okay, you don't need to baby-sit me," Greg said.

"I'm not. Simply being with my friend," Chakotay replied quietly. "Get used to it."

Greg relaxed once more against the biobed. "Thanks, Chakotay." Two dimples flashed at him in response. He closed his eyes, and silently held out his injured hand as the Doctor approached.

--^--^--^--^--

Harry finished most of the goop on his plate, merely to get food in his stomach, grateful that it was still relatively tasteless. He had neglected to bring something to do while eating, which was beginning to be problematic - staring at the stars while ignoring the ruckus in the room was, if he were honest with himself, exhausting. It would be easier to be his social-self, mindlessly, if he could have possibly pulled that off, which he could not. He was about to leave, when B'Elanna set down a tray and sat across from him, uninvited.

"Hey, Harry, how's it going? How was the match?" she said, as she picked up her fork but used it on Harry's leftovers.

Match? Harry watched as she tasted. She grimaced. She drank a long swig of apple juice and set to her own food without enthusiasm. "I'm fine," he said. "How're you?" His voice sounded strange, hoarse to his ears.

She put her fork down. "You okay? Look at me...." She sat back in her chair, studying him. "What's wrong? What happened?"

"Nothing's wrong, and nothing happened," he said. To avoid her glance, he turned to the room. His eyes were drawn to the doorway. His heartbeat stopped in a familiarly painful way. Greg had walked in with the commander at his side. That was enough to make him move - he picked up his tray and stood, quickly, but not too quickly to arouse suspicion, he thought. "Well," he said, "have a nice evening, B'Elanna. See you tomorrow." Those were the things one was supposed to say to be social, friendly, and final. He left, avoiding contact other than another nod to Neelix as he dropped off his dirty dishes in the recycler. He ignored the tall man with the dark eyes. Deliberately, and completely.

After wandering the corridors for a while, he returned home, and aimlessly wandered some more. He picked up his clarinet. He set it back on its stand. He picked up a PADD, and dropped it back on the couch. The dead space in his chest was so all-encompassing that he could not, for the life of him, decide what, if anything, he could do before going to bed. He finally gave in and crawled under the covers, turned off all of the lights -- night lights, ambient lights, everything -- so all he could see were the stars outside the viewport over his bed.

--^--^--^--^--

"Hey, you two, you just missed something very, very weird," B'Elanna said to Greg as he and Chakotay sat at her table.

Chakotay glanced his way. "Well, I noticed that Harry was here. Was that the weird?"

Greg stifled the urge to kick him. He focused on his food, working up the desire to eat it. What he would not give for his mother's paella.

"Yup," B'Elanna said. "Quite frankly, he looked like shit, and I really don't believe I was talking to Harry Kim."

"He looked bad - how?" Chakotay had that look on his face - the one that belonged to the de facto ship's counselor. The one that belonged to a compassionate and strong leader. Greg's heart sank.

B'Elanna was quiet for a long minute. "I don't know if I should be telling you this... He didn't actually tell me a thing, I can only share what I saw, but still, I think it's not my place to get in the midst of this, whatever it is. It's just...."

"I would appreciate your insight," Chakotay said, "perhaps I can do something to help him." He smiled. "Consider it an official request."

Greg let out a noise of disgust. Two sets of brown eyes darted at him. He shrugged. "Seems that our former captain is walking a slightly wavy line tonight between official and friend, that's all. Don't let me interrupt you."

"Yes, B'Elanna, don't let him interrupt us," Chakotay said. "So. What's wrong with Harry?"

She lowered her voice. "He-- He looked like maybe he'd been crying." She shrugged.

Greg's stomach turned over. Crying? Why in the world would he be doing that? He tried to picture Harry, upset, in his quarters, on his couch... Or on his bed? But-- crying?

"Greg?" Chakotay said.

He focused on the other man. Chakotay was staring at him. "What?" he said, in probably too sharp a tone.

"B'Elanna asked you if anything happened during your hoverball match this afternoon. Harry was, um, subdued. She's concerned."

Greg looked at B'Elanna, ignoring the man's not-so-subtle command. She was studying him, too. "No," he lied. "Nothing much happened. He lost the match, then left."

She shook her head vehemently. "Something must have happened after that then. His eyes were red, and puffy, and he was not at all here, with me. I'm going to go, try to talk to him, Chakotay." She stood. "If I can't get anywhere, tell Tom I'll find him for reinforcements." She gave one last look at Greg while Chakotay told her where she could find Tom, later. She left.

Greg looked out the viewport, seeing black eyes searching his, six inches away, full lips glistening from his kisses. Searching eyes that disappeared in a shimmer of blue.

--^--^--^--^--

Harry woke up to the muffled sound of a string of Klingon curses. Something had woken him up the split second before that. "Computer, lights 25%," he said through a thick, dry throat. B'Elanna was getting up off of the carpet, rubbing her knee. "What are you doing here?"

"Thanks for the lights, Harry," she said with sarcasm. "Why the hell didn't you put your workout clothes, and shoes, away? A person could get killed in here!" She sat on the edge of the bed, still rubbing her knee and hissing.

"That's what happens when you break into someone's quarters," he said.

"So," she said, "did I wake you?"

He rolled over, propped himself on one elbow, and pulled the covers up to his chin. Being naked in bed with B'Elanna perched on the edge of it did not exactly inspire self-confidence. He had no idea what in the universe was going on, but, he wasn't in the mood for anyone else breaching his personal barriers. "I don't suppose it would do me any good to ask you not to do it again?"

"Nope, not in an emergency, like this. What are friends for, Starfleet?"

His heart sank. She only called him that when she wanted a heart-to-heart, the other thing he was not in the mood for. He chose the path of non-responsiveness. Patience was not really in her wheel house - maybe she would get tired of him stonewalling, and leave.

"So," she continued, "what happened to you from the time you got off shift, happy and upbeat, until dinner, when it was obvious you'd spent quite a time being... Upset."

"I don't want to talk about it," he said, and rubbed sleep from his eyes.

"But, I'm worried about you, Harry. Something happened. And, now you look as though you lost your best friend. I know that you and Tom are fine, even if he is spending almost all of his free time in Chakotay's bed, doing what I don't want to know--"

"Yet, you think you can help me," he said in frustration. If she would simply go... And... Too late, he realized he should not have said what he just said. She was too smart. She would figure that one out. He would have to give her a different interpretation. Fuck it. He flopped back on his pillow and stared at the ceiling, willing her to be gone.

"Harry, are you upset that Tom got married?"

He rolled back, to stare at her. What the-- Did he act jealous or something?

"Harry?"

"Of course not," he said, "I'm not jealous of Tom and the commander! I was his best man! Where did you get that from, B'Elanna?! Is someone talking about me behind my back?"

"Kah'less, calm down! Okay, all right..., whatever, I guess that doesn't make sense." She peered at him in the semi-darkness.

"Look," he said quickly, "I'll be fine tomorrow, you can go now. Honest."

"Who's the guy?" she asked in a soft voice. Then, her eyebrows arched high. Harry's pulse pounded. "Shit," she whispered. "I don't blame you on that choice."

Harry shook his head. "You can go anytime now, B'Elanna."

"What happened today? Did hoverball turn into something else? Why were you crying? Talk to me, damn it, Harry."

"No. I don't want to talk about it."

"Did he turn you down or something? He wouldn't be that stupid!"

"B'Elanna..."

"Harry. Men is a topic that, frankly, we could have in common, and, I know Greg, and, listen, he was in a foul mood tonight. Foul. He and Chakotay had gotten into something. Wasn't good. So, whatever happened between you two, he probably suffered some ramifications, too. Damn it! Tell me. I can help." She folded her arms, and turned so she was facing him, permanently settled for the night.

He growled in frustration. A half-Klingon friend was a most tenacious of beasts. "Fuck," he muttered. He did not want to talk about it.

He sat up, against the hull and his pillow, and drew his knees to his chest. He gave her his best 'Fleet glare. "You got some sort of Klingon oath you can swear to me? That nothing will be repeated? To ANYone? Including Tom?"

She chewed her lip, and shrugged an assent. "On the sacred head of Kah'less, I swear nothing will be repeated that you tell me from this point forward."

He took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. "He kissed me."

Her eyes narrowed. "And?"

"And what?"

"This is the big tragedy that's wracked the two of you? He kissed you? What - you didn't kiss him back or something?"

He could feel his cheeks flame. "No, I kissed him back. We-- we kissed."

"And? What happened? Was the kiss good? Awful? Why were you upset?"

"All right, all right. Shit, you're demanding. We... The kissing was-- I mean, it seemed like he was into it, I know I was. Then, he stopped. Wanted to know what we were doing. Said he had to stop because this would be just a casual fuck and he didn't do casual." Harry could feel his throat betraying him, and coughed past it.

"Greg said that what was happening right then was a casual fuck?"

"I asked him if that's what he was doing. He refused to answer."

She stared at him for a long moment. "That makes no sense, Harry. What happened then?" Her tone was unmistakably skeptical.

"I changed my mind, and left," he said.

Shaking her head, she muttered, "Men." She pushed off the bed, and paced in front of him. "So. You two kissed, out of the blue, and then communicated in the brilliant way that men do. You don't know what Greg thinks. Do you know what you think about it? Maybe, maybe not. You came home upset, and Greg had some pretty serious reaction to being left, because he was surly and sarcastic and apparently had had Chakotay talking to him about it in ways he didn't like - so odds are Chakotay hit some nails on their little heads." She sighed, long and deep. "The only thing I can say is that I agree with Gregory's point -- he doesn't do casual. At least as far as I know, and knew. It's not in his DNA."

He did not know if that information was helpful. However-- "Greg was upset?"

B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "Good grief. Get out of bed. Come on," she said, tugging on his covers.

He held them tightly. "I don't feel like exposing myself to you of all people."

"You're getting out of that bed, or I'm going to get Greg and bring him here, and put him in it with you! I'll wait for you in the living area. Do it! NOW." She left the bedroom.

Harry had a difficult time picturing B'Elanna dragging Greg there, against his will, and though he wanted to picture Greg in his bed, it hurt too much to try. However-- He felt the tiniest of cracks in his self-protection, as the craving he had been living with once again glowed. Deep inside. Ever since he had set eyes on the unattainable Maquis who stood silently with Captain Chakotay. Strong. Handsome. Unfathomable eyes. Maybe he really should let B'Elanna do something. As if she could. But, then again, maybe Greg wasn't actually all that upset. Surly and sarcastic did not sound earth-shattering to him...

"Get out of BED!" she yelled from the living area.

He sighed. He got out of bed.

--^--^--^--^--

Greg slouched in his chair, sipping his synthale, trying to ignore his two friends at the pool table. They never did anything overt, at least not in public for the crew to see. But, he had been around Chakotay and Tom in private enough to know the signs. Serious, hot flirting was taking place while Tom waited for his pool match to start. Chakotay followed his lover around the table, speaking quietly in his ear, making both of them grin. Touching him lightly, casually, yet, if you knew them like he did, you could see Tom's eyes change, and their glances progress to longing looks. Nothing overt. Yet everything to make Greg's stomach churn.

They had what he so desperately wanted. If he were honest with himself, he was feeling petty and pissy enough tonight to resent them for it. He was also harboring a huge resentment toward Tom, a.k.a. Best Friend of Harry Kim. Tom had told him unequivocally that Harry never, ever treated sex casually. Tom said Harry was incapable of it, as if he knew that for a fact. Greg had pressed him, demanded to know about the Delaney sisters and that little fiasco. The alien Voyager had picked up the year before. The alien Harry had gotten involved with the year before that. None of those had any potential for long term commitment, not to mention the fact that they were women. Tom had brushed them off as proving nothing, something about Harry's 'learning curve.'

Well, what the fuck did Tom know, and why did he think he knew it? Not for the first time Greg had to face the possibility that Tom and Harry had been intimate at some point in the past, and that it had been more than casual. That's when the stomach churning had started. If true, it was--

"Hey Har, hey 'Lanna!" Tom's voice sounded too loud.

Greg's stomach dipped; he was most definitely in no mood to make phony small talk with Harry, nor have B'Elanna corner him for more "evidence" in her investigation of today's-- whatever it was. Is. He stood, calculating how many meters he was from Sandrine's door, and escape. Ten, maybe less. He turned, and unfortunately looked directly at Harry, who made no move to look away, precisely the opposite. Harry was approaching, and Greg's heartbeat responded with a sickening lurch. He wanted to grab a chair to anchor himself. He hated feeling this powerless.

"Hi Greg," Harry said. His face was impassive.

"Hi." Okay, that was enough.

"How are you doing?"

Was he serious? No way, nope, most definitely enough. Should he simply leave? His glance drifted away from Harry's stony face, down to his hands, which were futzing with the bottom edge of his dark gray tunic. It drifted further, and met B'Elanna's. She was doing everything in her silent power to direct him to talk to Harry, short of hand signals. This was ridiculous. He was not going to pull a site-to-site; he had legs and he would use them. He walked away without another glance at anyone. He made it out the door of Sandrine's when a small but powerful hand grabbed his arm and unexpectedly spun him around.

"What is wrong with you?" B'Elanna said as she let go of his arm, which was lucky for her, no matter how far back they went. "You can't just walk away from him like that."

"I have a rule, 'Lanna, a pretty simple one, really," he said, working to control the surge of anger that was beginning to roil. "I don't like being used, by anyone, for any reason, and if I have the power to stop that, I will. In this case, I do." He pointed at her. "I have to live on this damned ship, I have no choice. If that makes Harry uncomfortable, I guess that's his problem."

"Maybe you should get your facts straight."

"Maybe you should." His anger overwhelmed. "Your good buddy Harry beamed himself away from me without a second thought. So pardon me if I take care of myself by going home. Alone." He turned from her and headed down one of the cobblestone side streets, simply to move. To burn off his turmoil before he punched a holographic street light.

--^--^--^--^--

Harry sat by himself near the pool table, and watched Tom begin the process of beating Baytart, with the commander on the other side of the table watching, too. He imagined he felt that man's eyes on him every once in a while, but Harry kept his firmly on Tom and only Tom. B'Elanna had gone after Greg two minutes ago. Two minutes before that, he had humiliated himself in front of the man. Two minutes before that B'Elanna had encouraged him to buck up and everything would work out for the best right before entering the bar, and Harry had almost believed her. He no longer did.

Harry had tried a simple conversation with Greg, an icebreaker, an attempt at politeness, camaraderie, something to bridge the gaping hole that was now between the two of them. He had to start, because it was clear to him that Greg was not going to do it. Humiliation, thy name is Harry. He only hoped that nobody had noticed. Sure, B'Elanna had, and probably Tom, and the commander, but maybe nobody else. And, now, here he sat. Waiting. To be polite and say goodnight to his friend when she returned.

B'Elanna entered Sandrine's, and by the look on her face, Harry knew it had gone badly. Before he could stand up to leave, she was looming over him, and said, "We need to talk. Outside. Come on...." It was likely pointless, he thought as he followed her, nonetheless he owed her for all she had tried to do on his behalf. She was moving in typical B'Elanna form: driven, with purpose, singularly focused. Why, he could not imagine. His stomach turned over at the sudden thought that she was setting him up, that Greg was the destination. Thankfully, it was quiet out here. She sat on one of the benches in front of Sandrine's, under the building's exterior lights shining down dimly through thickening fog. He sat next to her. She was tense; he could feel it.

"So," he said, to break the tension.

"I vowed I was not going to get in the middle of--" she waved her hand back and forth between them, "--whatever this is with you and Gregory. I know, I know, I started it, thinking it was an easy fix. But, at the same time.... You're both my friends, and this is a small ship."

"It is. And, you are."

"Yeah...." She gave a barely perceptible shake of her head. "So, Harry, have you figured out what you're doing? What you want? With Greg? Because at the moment, I'm tamping down the urge to push you into the water over there, after what you did on the holodeck." She stared at him, hard. "How could you?"

He had no idea what she was talking about.

She was still staring, but with astonishment. "I don't know what's worse - that you felt it was okay to just use a site-to-site, disappear with no explanation, no nothing, or that you don't realize now that how bad that was!"

He could feel his cheeks burn. In truth, he had not once considered the effect of his action. He had not once looked at it from Greg's perspective. He prided himself on his analytical abilities, his talent for seeing data in front of him and quickly interpreting it for the good of the ship. For the good of the crew. And yet, it simply had not occurred to him to look at that day, and how Greg might have felt, to be left, like Harry had done. Greg was a proud man. A deeply loyal man. In truth, Harry wanted that loyalty to be pledged to him. Now.... He had probably missed his chance to earn it. What was wrong with him? He felt his pent-up energies dissipate as that potentiality sunk in, and slouched against the bricks, closing his eyes to the woman still staring at him, waiting for a response.

B'Elanna muttered something under her breath.

He opened his eyes. "Go ahead. Let me have it."

"I already did," she stated.

He nodded for the truth of it.

She stood, and said, "Decide what you want, Harry. And, if you don't know, then leave him alone." She went back inside Sandrine's, the sounds of laughter, and glassware, and conversation drifting out into the night air before the door shut behind her. The irony of B'Elanna's last directive was not lost on him. He knew exactly what he wanted; it was the same thing he had wanted for months. She had been right about one thing, though - he honestly did not know what Greg wanted.

--^--^--^--^--

Greg was tired, tired of looking at the harbor, tired of looking at the holographic night sky, at the waves lapping against the boats, and the dock, simply fucking tired of this day. When he had woken up that morning for his duty shift, the only thing he had looked forward to was being on the bridge instead of on duty somewhere else. Then at lunch Harry had said that his hoverball opponent had begged off, and asked who wanted to play. He could not resist the opportunity, even if he thought the match would be mostly one-sided given his own skill set. He had not cared. He would not go for the competition, only the exercise, and the opportunity for uninterrupted fun time with Harry. Then.... He had utterly lost control.

The worst part about it was that now he knew how they were, together. Chemistry? Cels a sobre, beyond any imaginings. What a fucked day. His anger had dissipated during the harbor visit; he no longer felt like clocking B'Elanna for defending Harry, but neither did he feel angry at Harry. In the moments he was honest with himself, he thought maybe he had been wrong to walk out of Sandrine's like that; maybe he had done it out of revenge, of getting his own back.... But.... he did not want retribution. If he was honest with himself. Not at Harry's expense. He wanted something else entirely. Still.

Greg heard the sound of footfalls approaching on the damp cobblestones. His pulse quickened. He turned, and sure enough there was Harry walking toward him, with the same impenetrable look on his face. Greg tried to assume a casual pose, leaning an elbow on the metal railing, willing his face to look impassive no matter the butterflies in his stomach.

"Hey," Harry said, from two meters away. "I found you."

"I've been right here," Greg said. Well, that was inane, he thought.

Harry stood at attention, hands clasped behind his back. "I have something to say."

Greg waited. Nothing happened. "Okay," he said.

"Earlier today," Harry said, and paused. He swallowed. "Earlier today, you asked me what I wanted with you. I'd like to answer that. Now."

Again, Greg waited, and again nothing happened. "Okay," he said, with trepidation, unable to control it. Harry reacted by standing straighter.

"First, though," Harry said, his voice low, "I owe you an apology, Greg. I'm sorry. For the transport. I shouldn't have-- made that choice. It--"

"I accept your apology, Harry." He did not deserve to have Harry groveling for forgiveness, that was the one thing he knew above all else. He mirrored the other man, clasping hands behind his back, but deliberately at ease, and took a few steps closer. "Okay?" he said.

Harry nodded, and gave him a small smile. "Okay," he said. The smile faded. "So. Your question. I want it all with you."

All? All, as in-- All? He must have looked as stunned as he felt, because Harry was beginning to fidget, never breaking their eye contact, but the man was actually vibrating, or quivering, or something that was not at all calm, or cool. Not at all Starfleet. "Only to be clear," he said, "you want it all as in a relationship? At least, we could aim for that?" He moved closer to Harry.

Harry nodded.

"That's what I want, too." The look on Harry's face was something he prayed he would never forget - the wide smile, the shine in his eyes, the release of tension that made him look ten years younger. Greg was close enough to touch. He cupped Harry's face, and watched the smile disappear just before he kissed him, and Harry responded in all the right ways, with his lips, and breath, and hands, and body. Greg wrapped his long arms around Harry, pulling them tightly together, losing himself in it all, in the taste of Harry, the scent of him, in the two of them. Together. He was intoxicated. He had wanted this for so long, for this man to be willing to try, willing to give him a chance.

Dimly, Greg heard footfalls again, approaching from far off, across the cobblestones. Damn this ship. He broke their kisses and looked over Harry's head. "B'Elanna," he muttered.

Harry glanced behind them, then looked directly into Greg's eyes. He poised a hand over the left side of his chest. "Your place, or mine," he said.

"I don't care," Greg said. The last thing he saw was a grin spreading across Harry's face as the transporter beam brought them into Greg's cabin. He kissed Harry Kim in the harsh light of a star ship, and it was good, it was better than good. It was real, which was better than on a holodeck, in a fake gym, or a fake Marseilles, or a fake bar. Reality, for once, gave him hope. Harry moaned in his arms, against his lips. Yes. Cels a sobre. Heavens above, how he would love this man.


End.