Part 24

Harry almost knocked over the crewman he banged into in the corridor outside Sickbay. The crewman stumbled backwards with an annoyed cry.

"Hey," he began, with irritation.

Then the crewman caught sight of Harry's face, abruptly dropping his complaint and giving Harry a wide berth as he continued through the corridor.

That encounter told Harry something about the expression he wore after the confrontation with Samantha Wildman.

The unplanned confrontation.

All he had intended to do was see if Tom was still in Sickbay, suspecting that Janeway would be less than understanding about allowing a visit elsewhere. Tom was already gone-oddly confined to his quarters, not the Brig-and Harry should have just left.

Instead, he'd stayed, allowing Sam to chatter on. Everything she had said had been harmless enough, but coming on top of what he knew about her, it just built the rage he already felt until he couldn't keep quiet.

It was clear she'd been expecting the accusation, though probably not from him. Her denials were weak, as was her reason.

Naomi was completely innocent in this, even if her mother chose to make her an excuse.

Harry found the Turbo Lift, directing it to Tom's deck.

It was a short ride, but in the small amount time that it took, Harry managed to calm down and hopefully remove the expression on his face that had frightened the crewman.

The corridor leading to Tom's quarters was deserted.

If you didn't count the man leaning against the wall right outside Tom's quarters-clearly from Security and clearly very bored.

Harry walked up the man, who quickly straightened and pretended that he hadn't just been slouching against the wall.

"Ensign Kim," he greeted.

"Hi," Harry said. "Paris is back?" He tried to make his voice curious, but not overly so.


"Um, Wildman sent me from Sickbay to check on him. Said he got hurt while being taken into custody, or something?"

Lying never was Harry's strong suit. Especially impulsive lies he'd had no intention of telling thirty seconds ago.

And apparently detecting lies was not among the Security guard's best skills, for he turned around and started entering the proper security clearance into the door's keypad.

"I thought he'd already been to Sickbay?" the guard asked, not pausing on the keypad.

"Follow-up," Harry explained smoothly.

"The Captain is supposed to be coming down to talk to him in an hour or so," the guard said as he finished the keypad's sequence.

The keypad released an electronic chirp and the doors to Tom's quarters slid apart.

The guard started to walk inside, but Harry stopped him.

"You don't need to supervise. He's not going to hurt me." When the guard didn't look persuaded, Harry added, "And he's not going anywhere."

The guard peered into the darkened entrance room, suspiciously.

"Just let me get the lights."

He called for the lights and the darkness gave way. The lights brought to view a totally ransacked room, in the midst of which was Tom, sitting frozen on the couch as it rocked back into an upright position.

He stared at the door, eyes taking note of Harry's presence without his face reacting.

"What the hell were you doing?" Demanded the Security guard, hand moving to the phaser on his belt.

"Um." Tom wiped off sweat of his forehead. "Um, trying to throw the couch at you?" he offered.

"Whatever you're doing, stop it!" ordered the guard. Softer, to Harry, "Are you sure you don't want some company?"

"It'll be fine," Harry reassured him.

The guard stepped outside and the doors slid shut behind him. Harry barely had time to turn around from watching him leave before being caught up in tight bear hug, as Tom grabbed hold of him.

Part 25 | Index page