by torch 1996

Disclaimer: Paramount rules the universe. I bow down and abase myself, and sneak off to play with Tom and Harry on the sly. This story is rated NC-17 for language and explicit m/m sex. It probably belongs more on asce than on asc, but it was directly inspired by a post here, so I plead your indulgence. Margaret posted an idle question about why Tom always takes the initiative in slash stories. Can't have that, torch decided, and wrote the following little PWP as a response. I'll leave it to someone else to write the ten-part epic on the subject. :-) Be warned: Absolutely No Plot Alert! Do not archive this story without permission.

The wilder shores of love

"If we hurry we can catch the last boat out to the island. It's supposed to be a total paradise, babes in skimpy clothing and flowers and moonlight and the whole romantic cliché thing. The kind of place where you have to be the hunchback of Notre Dame not to get laid."

"Yes, all right, then. As long as we get back on time, you know the captain gets worried if we're three seconds late, after the last disaster."

"Don't be such a worry-wart! Come on, Harry, it'll be fun!"

"That's what you said last time."

He picked up his bag and followed Tom, who was already halfway across the pier, talking to the friendly woman who sold tickets to the island ferry. Harry shook his head with a tired little smile as he saw Tom turn on the charm. Looked like they were going, whether they could get tickets or not. 'Come on, Harry, it'll be fun.' He'd certainly heard that before. 'Come on, Harry, let's go play pool. Let's go eat. Let's go tease B'Elanna. Let's go on shore leave together, fraternize with the local population a bit. It'll be fun.'

And he always went along with it, Harry reflected, arriving at Tom's side to find that he didn't even have to pay for the ticket, they were just ushered across to stand on the gently rocking boat deck, and Tom squeezed the woman's hand, and then moments later the ferry was on its way.

There were few other passengers, and they just dumped their bags in a heap on the deck and stood side by side at the railings, looking at the sea. The sun was setting and the island they were heading for was outlined against the horizon, an alluring black silhouette.

"I hope the food is decent," Tom said.

"If it isn't, you're going to owe me big time," Harry said. "The whole romantic cliché thing can take a flying fuck, if I discover that the food is worse than Neelix's offerings, you're going to wish we'd stayed on shore."

Tom laughed. "Profanity, yet. I didn't think you knew words like that."

"You inspire me," Harry said dryly. Then he couldn't help laughing, too; Tom just didn't know how true that was.

The next time they got shore leave, Harry decided, he'd go on his own. No more following Tom Paris around like a puppy. It only got him into trouble, every single time, and not the kind of trouble he would have liked, either. Then again... he looked sideways at Tom, whose eyes were sparkling as he contemplated the possibilities of this Zerdean pleasure island. 'Come on, Harry, let's go!' That invitation was hard to resist.

The boat ride was swift, but the sun had set by the time they arrived and disembarked. All the hotels and clubs were grouped around the bay where the ferry had dropped them off, and beyond the lights and the noise, the island wilderness stretched out in velvet darkness. The air smelled sweet, perfumed by night-blooming flowers, and it was warm and moist. Harry smiled to himself; he'd love to go for a walk along the shore and watch the sea. Tom would no doubt insist on finding the wildest, noisiest club with the weirdest gambling games, or the prettiest women.

Following the other passengers, they headed for the brightly lit streets. "A hotel first," Tom said, "and then some food, and then, and then what, Harry?"

"Strip poker and mud wrestling, no doubt," Harry said. "Or whatever the closest equivalent is on this planet."

Finding a hotel turned out to be more difficult than they had assumed. There were only a few places open at this season, and all of them were packed due to the unexpected heat wave. When the last place they'd been directed to turned them away as well, Tom muttered a string of curses while staring at the sky, then recaptured his good humor and turned an impish grin on Harry. "I guess we'll just have to stay up all night."

"It won't kill us to sleep outdoors," Harry pointed out. "Somewhere down along the beach where it's more quiet."

"I didn't come here for quiet," Tom groused, then nodded. "Okay. We'll find a secluded spot and dump our bags and stuff." He picked his things up and started to walk; Harry followed more slowly, stopping at a food stall to pick up a few things. Tom's ambitions were clear, but he had a feeling that if he once got out on the beach, or in among the trees, he wouldn't want to go back again.

Once they'd left the artificial lights behind, they were bathed in gentle moonlight that reflected off the large slow waves rolling in along the beach. The air still smelled wonderful, and there was the occasional sleepy chirp of birds or insects. It was perfect. Harry smiled.

"You were right. Every damn romantic cliché in the book." He paused to kick off his shoes and turn his trouser legs up, and walked at the water's edge. It was pleasantly warm, and he decided he had to go swimming. "Are there any big nasty fish with teeth here?"

"Jump in and find out." Tom was also walking barefoot in the water now. "Wouldn't be paradise if people got eaten on a regular basis, Harry." The hustle and noise of the island's only cluster of buildings was far behind them now. "This could be a good place. Up there under those trees, no one's going to notice if we stick our things there."

"Won't matter if they do," Harry said placidly. "I'll stay and keep an eye on them."

"What?" Tom paused in the act of pushing his bag in between the sturdy tree roots. "Hey, we're going back, remember? Drinking, gambling, wenching, and whatever else your little heart desires."

"Somehow I doubt that," Harry said, putting his own bag down as well. "You go play, Tom. I bought some food, I'll be fine here."

Tom rolled his eyes. "So much for Harry Kim, party animal. You're in this wonderful place full of interesting people and you're going to sit on the beach and eat all alone?"

"If you don't stay, yes," Harry said. He dug around in his bag, found the lightweight blanket and spread it over the sand and sparse grass, then started to unpack the food containers. He'd chosen entirely based on smell, and hoped it was nothing too weird.

"Harry." Tom sighed, leaning forward to inspect the food. "I did not come to what is reputedly the most romantic spot on this planet to sit on a beach with you."

"Well, it was worth a try," Harry said, then quickly caught the container of mysterious soup before Tom overturned it. "Go play, then."

"Wait," Tom said, his voice slower now. "What was that you said? What was worth a try?"

Harry had to smile. "How clear do I have to make myself? There is no one I'd rather sit on a beach with in the most romantic spot on this planet, or any other spot on any other planet, for that matter. But I'll do fine on my own."

Tom said something under his breath; it sounded like 'oh shit.' He leaned back, out of the shade and into the moonlight; his eyes were wide and startled. I think this is the ending of a beautiful friendship, Harry reflected to himself. Still, it had to be said.

"You mean you—" Tom seemed to have a problem fitting words to his thoughts. "I mean—"

"Tom, you're not that stupid," Harry said, rising to his feet. "And I'm sure you've been hit on before. You should learn to say no a bit more nicely. Or at least coherently." Heading away from Tom, across the beach, he quickly took his clothes off and walked into the water. It was wonderfully warm and wrapped lovingly around him; he waded out into its soft depths and lay there for a long time, floating on the slow swell of the waves, staring up at the stars.

When he came back again, trailing shirt and pants in one hand, Tom was gone. Harry shrugged and sat down, deciding he was hungry and he might as well eat. It seemed his nose had made a good choice for him; the food was all delicious, but after a while he closed the containers and put them away.

Oh, well, he'd tried.

Stretching out on the blanket, he rolled his clothes up and used them for a pillow. Sleep wouldn't come, though. Time after time he found himself with his eyes open, staring up through the branches at the pale disk of the moon high above. He felt at once unhappy and strangely pleased with himself. Even silence could be an uncomfortable lie.

Finally he rose again and went for a walk, following the beach. Harry didn't even think about the fact that he might meet someone. He just walked, sometimes in the water, sometimes on the sand. When the island shore curved into a small shallow bay he went into the water again; it was even warmer there and smooth as satin. Soaking wet, and not even remotely cold, he found a path that led into the woods and took it. It curved around in a series of slow windings that led him back the way he'd come, and he emerged from the treeline not far from their little improvised camp.

Tom was standing in the water, thigh-deep, looking this way and that. Harry moved down that way just as Tom yelled, "Harry!" in a voice that could wake the dead.

"I'm right here," he said softly, wading into the water as well. "Most people take their clothes off before they decide to go swimming, you know?"

Tom spun around as fast as the water would let him and took two splashing strides in Harry's direction, catching him in a hug that drove the breath from his lungs. "God, Harry, you just about scared me to death! I saw you go into the water and then when I got back you were gone and your clothes were still there." He released Harry as abruptly as he'd grabbed him. "I thought maybe the nasty fish with big teeth really were out there."

Harry shook his head. "I don't think so. I just went for a walk. Didn't expect you to be back so soon — was it early closing tonight?"

"No." Tom was looking down at the water now, up at the moon, anywhere but directly at Harry's naked body. "I was just kinda distracted, you know? I had a few things to think about."

"Like what?" Harry said, refusing to be understanding, hoping for more information.

Tom ran a hand through his hair. "Like you. Us. I mean—" He made an indecisive gesture, then let himself fall backwards into the water with a huge splash. When he emerged again, shirt plastered to his chest, he went on, "I didn't mean to be rude. Sorry."

"Apology accepted." Harry smiled softly. "So can we still be friends?"

"I guess so," Tom said. "I'd never really considered any other alternative." God, he was actually blushing. "Before." Not just his face, but his neck, his throat, probably his chest as well underneath that thin wet layer of cloth, all that lovely fair skin.

Harry found himself moving, grabbing Tom and pulling him close, dragging his head down for a kiss. There was a moment of sheer shock, both of them equally stunned, and then just as Harry was about to let go Tom's arms came up around him, and Tom's lips parted, his tongue pushing into Harry's mouth. That was another kind of shock entirely, and one of them made some little sound that was carried away on the night breeze.

Long moments later, Harry let go. "So are you considering it now?"

Tom nodded. "Yeah." He was still blushing. "Can we get out of the water?"

"Scared that the big fishies will come get you?" Harry wrapped his arm around Tom's waist and they waded back on dry land and up to their spot underneath the tree. "You're not getting on my nice dry blanket with those clothes on." He dug out a towel and dried himself roughly, then passed it on to Tom, who was struggling with the soaked cloth.

Harry sat back on the blanket and watched Tom undress; Tom, sensing that steady regard, looked so endearingly shy that Harry couldn't help but wonder if his reputation wasn't slightly exaggerated. You'd think the man had never taken his clothes off in front of anyone before. When he'd managed to get everything off, he finally looked at Harry, who reached out a hand, and Tom came into his arms, and they were kissing again.

Maybe it would be better to talk, to find out what Tom really wanted before it was too late, but his kisses said he wanted this, and Harry wasn't heroic enough to put a stop to it. If Tom said no later, so be it; he'd at least have this to remember. Harry stroked Tom's back, kissed his neck and tasted salt water. When their bodies rocked against each other he could feel the solid proof of Tom's desire. He skimmed a hand across Tom's chest, grazing the erect nipples, then gasped as Tom's tongue traced the contours of his ear. It seemed that after the first hesitant moments, Tom was turning very enthusiastic. They kissed for a long time, pressing closer and closer as the heat rose between them.

Then Harry squirmed slowly downwards and kissed Tom's chest, licking at his nipples, biting gently as he moved along Tom's stomach. He wanted everything at once, wanted to melt into physical impossibility and satisfy every wanton wish in one blazing consummation. Instead he slipped his hand between Tom's legs, teasing at the perineum with his fingertips, and ran his tongue along Tom's cock from base to tip before sucking it in deep with a sudden ferocity that surprised even himself. Tom let out a short, startled cry, and then lay moaning softly, twisting his fingers into Harry's hair, pushing his hips up almost helplessly.

The taste of Tom mingled with that of sea water. Harry closed his eyes and concentrated, his tongue caressing silky flesh, feeling the throb of that pulsing vein. It was so intimate, such a raw connection. His hand strayed farther and he began slowly to work one finger into Tom. The soft moans intensified, and now Tom was pulling his hair so hard it hurt, and Harry would have smiled if he'd been able to as his fingertip found Tom's prostate and began to rub against it with small teasing movements.

Tom made a sound like a sob and exploded into orgasm, his body shaking so hard Harry thought he would simply disintegrate. After several gasping breaths he recovered enough to whisper Harry's name, and Harry moved up, carefully, brushing a soft kiss against Tom's parted lips. Oh, he looked gorgeous. Absolutely irresistible. Harry moved his finger again, a caress, a request, and Tom made a sound, and their eyes met, and Tom very slowly nodded.

When Harry produced the lubricant from his bag, Tom just looked completely amazed. Then his eyes narrowed. "You're a fraud," he said, his voice husky. "That whole innocent young man act..."

"Yeah, I'm really the playboy of the Delta quadrant," Harry agreed, squirting out a generous amount of lube on his fingertips. Then he started to work them into Tom, and Tom stopped even trying to talk. He was so wonderfully responsive, it was beautiful to see, to hear, to feel it all happening. Harry kissed him, his tongue probing Tom's mouth in the same insistent rhythm.

Not until Tom was wriggling urgently against him did Harry release him, pausing to apply lubricant to himself as well. Tom started to turn over and Harry put a hand on his hip, stopping him halfway, pressing himself against Tom's body, pushing inside. God, it was so easy, as though they were made for each other, made to fit together just like this. And Tom pressed back against him, moaning wordless encouragement. Harry held on to Tom's hip and started to thrust slowly.

The whole universe was converging on this single point in space and time, the two of them, joined. They only had one heartbeat, and the stars winked in and out of reality as their bodies moved together. Harry could hear his own voice, he could not make out any words but he knew the meaning: I want you, be mine, just for this instant, this eternity, be mine.

Harry closed his lube-slick hand around Tom's cock and stroked it with deceptive gentleness; everything slowed down strangely into one single aching straining movement going on and on and on, driving him out of himself. Then Tom trembled and convulsed around him, crying out in sheer rapture, and there was an end to it, a blinding flash of white ecstasy.

Afterwards he did not want to let go and let their linked bodies fall apart into separation, but he knew he had to. Harry shifted slowly, his heart still hammering wildly in his chest, and eased Tom back until they lay in a loose embrace.

"Oh, God," Tom said quietly. "That wasn't what I had in mind coming here, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything."

Harry turned his head and pressed a gentle kiss against Tom's throat. "So can we still be friends?" he asked again, a trace of laughter in his voice.

Tom stretched, and settled down again, with lazy catlike sensuality. "I don't know about that," he said. "I'm still surprised. But I thought we could maybe expand on the concept of friendship."

"I'm sure we could," Harry agreed. He smiled quietly to himself as they settled into sleep, the night air warm around them, the soft sound of the ocean a gentle lullaby. Voyager and their return to duty seemed very, very far away right now, but it would be different when they woke up tomorrow, and Tom might have changed his mind about just how far he wanted to expand the concept.

Oh well, it was a start.

* * *

The art of conversation

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