by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount owns 'em.


It had always been a possibility of course. A suggestion of something else we could 'provide' if we had nothing that an alien race would want in trade.

The crew - or at least the more perceptive of them - must have known that I'd been propositioned. Sex or death. We always found another way of course. There was always another way.

Until the first time there wasn't.

Sex or death.

Sex or the loss of my crew.

Sex or failure.

Not a difficult choice. Not for me.

The Doctor was the only one I actually told about it myself; I may have been taking a risk but I wasn't going to take more than were necessary. He would thoroughly scan me and my soon-to-be-partner to make sure there was nothing about our biological systems that would conflict or create anything life threatening.

I'm not stupid. Far from it. I knew what I was doing.

It was...different. Uncomfortable at first - it was my first time with an alien and it had been a while since I'd had sex with anyone. But after we started I even began to enjoy myself. What was wrong, really, with indulging in a little horizontal recreation? We weren't looking for anything lasting. He was looking for a little experimentation; I was looking to get my crew through his space. A fair trade.

We bid farewell quite easily. A strange kind of friendship had been bourne between us. I almost felt that I would miss him in a way.

And the Doctor couldn't quite look me in the eye. Well, that was fine. If he thought I had lost my self respect, given away my body to get my crew home, then he could do that. I wouldn't stop him. What is a more noble cause?

Life continued. A few more months, a few more nights alone.

Until we faced a similar situation. One that ended rather differently.

He didn't hurt me; not really. The bruises and broken skin would be fixed under a dermal regenerator and I think the damage I did to him was far more lasting. Never let it be said that I don't give as good as I get. Better, even.

If it had been possible, I would have thought that keeping the secret was killing the Doctor. Every time I saw him his expression was a little hollower, a little darker. He desperately wanted to talk to me about it and the crazy thing is I would have. I would have openly discussed what there was of my sex life with him. I wasn't doing this for me. I was doing it for my crew. It's the only thing that matters. An absolute.

Yet he didn't. I don't know if he was uncomfortable with bringing up the subject or if he thought I wouldn't answer but he didn't say a word. He wouldn't unless anything life threatening happened.

I was unconscious when I was beamed back to Voyager after the next time. I was pissed off more than anything. That *bastard* had tried to take advantage of me after we had struck a deal. We had a deal! For once I began to understand the Ferengi point of view. 'Though I doubt there was ever a rule of acquisition for this...I'll consider suggesting it to the Ferengi Alliance when we get home.

Tom found out at least part of it. He was in sickbay when I was beamed back but as far as he knew I was in private negotiations with the representative when he suddenly attacked me. Chakotay wasn't so easy to fool. To be completely honest I don't think Tom was either. They've both been able to read me a little too well at times.

Chakotay probably suspected something from the first time but didn't say a word. I don't suppose I expected him to, really. He was a Captain; he would have sacrificed absolutely anything to help his crew. A frontier law, you could call it. When you have no one to call on for back up, the only thing you have is self-sacrifice. That's something they don't teach you at the Academy.

He didn't confront me, didn't chastise me, didn't say what I was doing was wrong.

And when he turned up at my quarters the night after, I wasn't surprised. He wasn't looking for any kind of physical relationship then; he probably knew that if he had offered that at that moment I would have agreed. Not through weakness or submission, but it's nice to just have sex with someone sometimes. Not expecting anything afterwards; just indulging because it feels good.

That's not what he wants. That's the last thing he wants.

So he held me, which was really rather sweet. I was drowsy and closed my eyes but forced myself to stay awake a little longer. Having sex could be exciting, toe-curling, and mind-blowing...but hugging was a kind of freedom.

I realised he was talking, repeating the words "Everything will be fine" until I really didn't know which of us he was talking to anymore.

But that was alright.

Everything *will* be fine. As long as he believes that, I can believe in him.


Alternate Version

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