The door closed in front of Harry’s face, and he jerked his head back, a little shocked.
Of course it made sense that Tom and B’Elanna wanted some time alone. Their relationship was still so new and they’d barely had a chance to spend any time together. It was totally reasonable.
So why did he feel like kicking something?
No, that was ridiculous. He didn’t feel like kicking something. Maybe it was to do with the aliens, some residual effect of their experimentation on the crew. Hadn’t they been making the captain angrier? It wasn’t as though there was anything wrong. This couldn’t be coming from him.
He was just antsy, that was all. It had been a weird few days. He’d go for a walk, up and down the corridors. Burn off some of this nervous energy.
He missed Kes. She’d always been so good to talk to about stuff like this. She would have made him feel listened to, and then helped him to stop feeling sorry for himself.
He wandered the corridors until his feet took him to the arboretum. He hadn’t been in here much since Kes had left. They’d spent a lot of time here together, just talking while she worked, and he half expected to see her there as usual, taking cuttings or picking fruit.
Instead he found Seven of Nine, standing incongruously between two banks of carrots.
‘Seven!’ said Harry. ‘Uh… I mean… hi. What are you doing here?’
‘The cargo bay is in use,’ she said. ‘I thought perhaps the arboretum would be quiet at this time.’
It suddenly occurred to Harry that Seven had no quarters, nowhere to go if she wanted to get some privacy. He felt guilty that he hadn’t realised before.
‘I can go, if…’ he started.
‘Your presence is not unwanted,’ Seven said.
That was sort of nice to hear.
Had anybody checked in with Seven lately, Harry wondered? It had been a weird few days for her, too.
‘Were you scared?’ he asked her. It hadn’t been quite what he’d wanted to say but he pressed on regardless. ‘On the bridge, the other day. When the captain…’
‘… almost destroyed the ship and killed everyone aboard?’
Seven frowned. ‘I don’t know.’
‘I was,’ said Harry. ‘I really thought we weren’t going to make it. We’re in danger so much of the time, but that… I thought maybe it was really it this time.’
‘But we survived,’ Seven said, as though she couldn’t see what the problem was.
‘Sometimes at moments like that, you realise what’s really important to you,’ said Harry.
Seven just looked at him, with that neutral face that meant she didn’t understand and didn’t particularly care to. Harry kept talking anyway.
‘I guess I just… made me really think about what I want.’
More than anything, as they’d hurtled towards the pulsars, he’d wished that Tom and B’Elanna were there. But maybe it was just because he’d wanted a hand to hold, to not be alone at the end. They were his best friends. Maybe it didn’t mean anything other than that.
And the way Tom had dismissed him earlier tonight – maybe he’d just felt hurt because he’d wanted his friends’ company.
The things he was thinking – they weren’t thinkable. It wasn’t right. Sometime he had to learn that he couldn’t just have everything he wanted.
But he did want.
He’d wanted since the moment he’d seen Tom Paris. With B’Elanna it had been different, slower – he’d been so glad of her friendship in those first horrible weeks, and he’d only gradually felt himself falling. By the time he really understood what was happening it was much too late to do anything about it.
‘And what do you want?’ asked Seven.
Harry realised he’d been staring into space. Seven frowned dubiously at him, as though she’d only asked so that she could escape from this conversation that she didn’t completely understand.
‘Nothing I can have,’ he sighed.
‘Captain Janeway told me it’s important to ask for what you want,’ Seven said. ‘She has encouraged me to let her know if there is anything I require while I am aboard. Perhaps you could also ask for whatever it is you want.’
‘I can’t just ask,’ said Harry. ‘It’s not that simple…’
But was it? He’d asked for big, impossible-seeming things before and the answer had been yes. He’d made it into the Juilliard Youth Symphony despite fierce competition. He’d joined Starfleet. He’d gotten the assignment on Voyager, a huge coup for an ensign straight out of the Academy.
Was it so unimaginable that he could have this too?
‘Thanks, Seven,’ he said. ‘This has really helped.’
* * *
Tom opened the door in just a pair of shorts.
Well, he did once Harry requested entry three times.
‘Harry…’ he began.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Harry, trying not to look too hard at Tom’s bare chest, his bare shoulders. ‘This is probably stupid. I’m probably going to ruin everything. But I can’t… I don’t want to… it isn’t…’
‘Harry, slow down,’ said B’Elanna, joining Tom in the doorway.
Harry stood there, opening and closing his mouth like a fish. Why had this seemed like such a bright idea five minutes ago?
‘You’d better come in,’ Tom said.
Harry followed Tom through and sat on the couch. B’Elanna sat beside him.
‘Spill it, Starfleet,’ she said.
She was wearing one of Tom’s oversized t-shirts, and her hair was sticking up in all directions. She smelled like sweat and like Tom. Harry couldn’t even look at her.
‘I guess… I’m scared that if I say what I’m trying to say, it’ll ruin our friendship,’ he said.
Tom sat down on his other side. ‘Hey,’ he said, ‘you’re our best friend. There’s nothing you could say to us that would change that.’
‘Nothing,’ said B’Elanna firmly.
She slid her hand into his, locked their fingers together. On his other side, Tom did the same.
What did that mean? What was happening? Harry licked his lips. Why was his mouth so dry? And how did you find the words for something like this?
Beside him, Tom and B’Elanna waited for him to speak.
‘I guess… I felt sort of jealous, earlier tonight,’ he began. A smaller uncomfortable truth to ease himself in. ‘I didn’t like that you were spending time without me. I felt left out. And honestly I’ve felt that way since the two of you got together.’
He barrelled on. ‘And it’s not just because I miss spending time with you both. It’s more than that. It’s because… I want what you have together. With you, both of you. I want to be… part of this. And I understand if telling you that ruins everything or if it changes things or if you can’t be around me for a while, but with everything that’s happened lately I just thought… I would ask.’
There was a long, heavy pause. Harry, looking down at his knees, his face burning, could sense Tom and B’Elanna communicating silently over his head.
‘Harry,’ said Tom at last, ‘there’s plenty of room for you, if you want to be here.’
He looked up. ‘Really?’
Tom shrugged. ‘I always just figured you were into B’Elanna but you weren’t saying. I thought maybe you were mad at me for getting in the way.’
‘I kind of thought you were secretly in love with Tom,’ B’Elanna said. ‘I was a little worried about getting between the two of you.’
Harry laughed helplessly. ‘I mean… neither of you was really wrong.’
‘It doesn’t matter now,’ said Tom. ‘Stay here tonight, Harry.’
‘We’re sure,’ said B’Elanna.
Maybe he really could have everything he wanted.