The human race had come so far. It was amazing really. Up until the 21st century they’d still been dealing with racism, sexism, xenophobia, and every other -ism or -phobia under the sun. The discovery of intelligent life among the stars changed that pretty quickly in the 22nd century. The human race did what it does best. It adapted. It changed laws and views. It started working together. For the most part. Unfortunately, homophobia held on. Why, no one really knew, but it did. It was annoying.
So when Tom Paris asked Harry Kim why he didn’t want to double date with the Delaney sisters, Harry panicked. He said he had a girl back home. That was a total lie. He didn’t have anyone at home, and if he had had someone it certainly wouldn’t be a girl.
The panic wasn’t helped by the fact that, if Harry was going to go on a date that included Tom Paris, he would want it to be just the two of them. The minute he saw Tom at that bar he was head over heels. There was something that just pulled him in.
Tom was brave, and smart, and cocky. It made Harry’s head spin. That kind of confidence had always been out of reach for him.
Harry didn’t think they’d known each other long enough to tell Tom how he felt. It could make the next 75 years a bit awkward if Harry brought it up and Tom balked.
The Captain did seem to like to put them together on missions, though. Maybe one day they’d be closer and Harry could open up. At least tell Tom about that part of him.
Besides, Tom wouldn’t be interested in him anyway. Harry had seen him flirt with every girl on the ship in less than a day of arriving on board. He’d even tried a line with the Captain. It was that cockiness again.
Tom's voice pulled him back to reality. “You have a girl back home? Harry, that’s 75 years away. You don’t actually expect her to wait for you?”
“I don’t think it’ll be 75 years, Tom. The Captain will get us out. Anyway, I’m not up to a date tonight. I have some engineering stuff to go over.”
“Engineering stuff ! That has got to be the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard.” He paused to stare at Harry. His gaze made Harry squirm. “Fine, don't have fun, but know that I suffer just as much, if not more, from this decision than you do. They only come as a pair, Harry.” He walked away with a dismissive shake of his hand.
“I highly doubt that,” Harry muttered as he got back to the most boring paper on quantum thrusters he’d ever had the displeasure of reading.
It was a few weeks later when Harry heard it. Tom’s voice drifting down the hallway in that low timber he used when chatting someone up.
“-Go to the bar. I’ve got a couple rations saved up. We could get some drinks. Have Neelix whip up a late night snack.”
Harry’s stomach turned. He would give a whole lot of rations for Tom to even think of talking to him like that. Still far enough away that he couldn’t hear the girl’s reply, he wondered jealously who it was. Samantha, Mary, Gracely? Any one of them would be lucky.
Just then, Marvin rounded the corner, scoffing. He must have heard Tom coming onto the girl, too. But when Harry saw Tom around the next bend, no one else was there. In the time it took him to round the corner, the girl couldn’t have disappeared. A thought struck Harry like a Class X solar flare. Tom was a flirt. He knew that much. But what if he was a flirt with everyone, not just girls.
“Hi, Harry. What, was there a ghost on the bridge?”
“Huh?” Harry asked, dazed.
Tom raised an eyebrow. “You look like you’ve just seen one.”
“N-no. Maybe it was breakfast. Still getting used to some of Neelix’s concoctions.”
“You and me both. Well, see you later. I’ve got to get to a meeting.” Then he winked, and Harry had to lean against the wall to catch his breath.
It was another month before Harry got up the courage to ask Tom about it. The Captain had sent them on another away mission alone, (Harry swore she was doing it on purpose now)The silence in the pod was deafening, so he blurted it out.
Tom looked at him. “What?”
Harry took a breath and stared intently at his control panel. “It’s just that a while ago I heard you flirting with someone and the only person around was Martin. I was curious. Sorry, if that’s personal.”
“Harry, it’s fine. We’ve known each other long enough, by my standard at least, that you can ask me some 'personal' questions. And yes. I flirt with everyone. A bad habit I picked up.” He gave Harry a smile that sent a million asteroids crashing through his system.
“Can I ask you a personal question now?”
Without really thinking Harry said, “Shoot.”
“Do you actually have a girl back on Earth?”
Harry froze like a deer in the headlights. “Uh- well- um- no,” he finally spluttered out.
“Thought not. You know you’ve given me about 47 different names for your ‘girlfriend’?”
“I- yeah that sounds about right,” Harry sighed.
“Any particular reason you didn’t tell me when I asked about the Delaney sisters?”
Tom was more intuitive than Harry had given him credit for. He sighed. “I guess I just never slipped ‘Hi, I like guys’ into my introduction back on Earth.”
“Alright. Here’s another question for you. Has someone on Voyager caught your eye? I can probably tell you who’s open to it and who isn’t.”
“I-I don’t really- not that I can think of off the top-” Harry’s tongue hated him today.
“That’s a yes, then,” Tom laughed. “Come on. Who is it? If you don’t want me to tell them, I won’t. That was just a suggestion.”
“It’s no one.” Why wasn’t he telling Tom how he felt? This was his opportunity. The asteroids seemed to have worked their way into his throat.
“Okay. It’s fine. Just promise you’ll tell me when you’re ready. I want to help you if I can.”
Harry nodded. He didn’t trust himself to speak.
They got through the mission with no problems. Other than Harry losing the ability to talk or even look at Tom. He knew it hurt Tom, but he just couldn’t. It was absurd. Every time he tried to think of something to say the asteroids came back in force and beat the words back down.
Once back on Voyager, Harry rushed to his room. He wanted to avoid Tom for a little while. Try to think of a way he could tell him how he felt without his nerves exploding.
No such luck. His door buzzed almost as soon as he’d locked it. He ignored it.
There was a silence, then, “Harry? I just wanted you to know something. Think of it as another personal tidbit. I’m not blind, and I’m not stupid either. I saw you blush about every shade of red on record in that shuttle. So I just want you to know; I think you’re cute. I have since I saw you getting hustled at the bar. I’ll leave you alone now. But please, talk to me when you’re ready.” The sound of soft footsteps echoed in Harry's ears
Tom meant it. He actually meant it.
Harry’s heart pounded. He jumped up, shouted the command to open the door, and ran into the hall. “Tom!”
Closing the gap between them, Harry pulled Tom by the collar and kissed him.
Oh, wow it felt good. A million tons of pressure lifted off his chest. He was kissing Tom Paris. The biggest flirt he’d ever met. And to make things better, Tom was kissing him back.
Harry has to pull away first, just to catch a breath. He was a little out of practice in the kissing department.
Tom’s voice cut through the ridiculous haze of happiness that had settled in Harry’s ears. “How long have you been wanting to do that?”
“A long time.” Harry blushed again. And this time Tom was blushing, too.