Title: Best Man
Disclaimer: They're not mine, I'm just telling a story. Lighten up.
Summary: A Harry vignette for LadyChakotay. Since we were summarily booted from the wedding festivities, I'd thought we'd take a look at the big P/T event through the eyes of our favorite Ensign.
World, pass by! I am the dreamer that remains, the man clear-cut against the last horizon---Roy Campbell
Sometimes, I wonder how I got here.
Engineering glitters, all silver and white. Flowers are scattered on the consoles; the warp core shimmers its blessing. To my right, a mohawked Talaxian, dressed like a carnival barker, weeps into a huge white hankie. Before the friendship came, he and the groom wrestled in pasta, battling over a woman.
A girl of four, a pretty child who was born a few decks up, comforts him. She doesn't go to school or play with other children; her best friend is a hologram named Flotter.
Behind her towers a Borg drone, four years removed from the hive. We have no idea what will become of her in the Alpha Quadrant, where there are no regeneration alcoves, where no one will care that she brought Voyager through the Mutara nebula, resisted the Borg Queen, or helped us fight the Hirogen.
The hologram is here by a miracle of technology, a twenty-ninth century wonder of engineering. We are the only family he knows.
The woman at the front is the Captain. She is careworn, streamlined after many years of giving all and taking little. Everyone knows she cares for the First Officer, who worries that she's slowly becoming essence.
I stand in the center of this motley gathering of friends and mentors, officers and gentlemen, lovers and lost souls. I'm Harry Kim, eternal Ensign, Operations Officer, and, for today, Best Man.
That's a relative term, of course, since I'm not the one with the girl or the pip. I'm in dress uniform; even my boots shine, the only pair not stained with something vile from some hostile encounter. When an alien bleeds on your feet more than once a week, you know you're far, far from home.
No one notices me contemplating my shoes. Their eyes are front and center, fixed on my talented friend Tom and his remarkable bride. Bathed in the light of the warp core, blessed by the Gods that always pass me by, they are a striking portrait in silver and white. This wedding came about so fast; choice of venue was limited to the Mess Hall, Sandrine's back room, or Engineering, now all silver and white. I thought they were going to die on that racecourse, and in fifteen years I'd be that graying, jaded Harry Kim from the miracle tape, a bitter man regretting friends who slipped into darkness before their time. Caught up in the lovely, delicate shape of Irina's ears, I failed to notice that she reeked of sabotage and treason.
I fretted; they piled out of the broken Delta Flyer discussing honeymoon plans, having, apparently, pledged their faith and troth sometime between the explosion and our rescue. I nodded weakly, smiled, then threw up in the men's room.
We three are closer than blood--they are the brother and sister I never had-but things won't be the same, from this day forward. Tom doesn't know it yet, but Captain Proton's days are numbered. My mom used to say that growing up is continual, a process that ends with the last breath. I think Tom will get there sooner, probably before I've started, per usual. People grow and brothers forgive; it's the way of life.
I'll take good care of the rocket pack, buddy.
Here we are, seven years tested. I hope I've done well by everyone here. I wonder sometimes; that little box hasn't appeared at my station, though I will it there every night. It's frightening, in a way; maybe I'm not strong enough to survive, and everyone knows it except me. More likely my promotion was forgotten in the Seven hoopla. Her continued redemption gives the Captain fulfillment in a way nothing else does, soothing some indefinable inner sadness. But the Captain and I share a longing for Earth, a dream of Terra. I've seen space in all it's glory, from every angle--and even experienced it upside down, during Tom's shuttle acrobatics. None of those wonders compare with a perfect quarter moon over San Francisco.
Tom says that these days are the best of his life, and he found salvation when the Caretaker sent us into exile. His heart is in the Delta Quadrant, but my thoughts turn homeward…to the little beach where I played volleyball as a kid… to the wall where my diploma hangs, gathering dust… to the kitchen table where, someday, I might sit and give my parents the entire, amazing story, omitting the torpedo incident and the bit where I'm eaten alive. I'll speak of Captain Janeway's promise, Chakotay's parables, and Tuvok's Vulcan logic. I'll recall the short life of Kes, the brilliance of B'Elanna, and the exploits of Tom Paris, the best damn pilot there ever was.
I've died a lot. A guy doesn't go through something like that without gaining some insight into life and love and death. I didn't see a bright light, tunnels, or that godforsaken clown, but I'm sure that I glimpsed the future once. That's our secret, okay? I don't remember very much, just a jumbled kaleidoscope of images, bits of color. Time passed in the blink of an eye, and I saw my friends parading into the future, heading down an endless runway of great joy and bottomless grief, a glorious march toward some Place of Choosing. Captain Janeway's struggle and the end of her life flew by…a generation of explorers followed the star road to the Delta Quadrant, retracing our tangled path… some lived, some died. Voyager approached a great, blue marble of a planet. My parents and I met again, in this world or the next. I woke in Sickbay, crying tears of joy.
So I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this day would come. I suspect that Tom will always have flying dreams, and that B'Elanna will still be beautiful at the age of ninety-four. Maybe these aren't my best days--I like to think they're still to come--but when we three are old and tired and ready for sleep, I'll remember this room, this night, and my two best friends, awash in silver and white. How happy they make one another, and how rich I am to have known them.
Yes, Captain, I have the ring.