Title: Give the Boy a Sword
Author: akire
Email: akire@mailcity.com
Status: C/U
Category: Crossover: Highlander/Voyager (AU), plus misc others
Spoilers: umm, got a basic grasp of the Highlander universe?  Fine.  Oh
yeah, we're a Clan Denial fanfic.  This Voyager is an AU one, but there
may still be spoilers for various bits and pieces across the seven
 Disclaimers:  D/P and Paramount really DO own them.  If you don't
recognize it, its probably mine.  If it's silly or crazy, definitely is
mine.  But if anyone sends the lawyers after me, I'm sending out the
boys with swords ;)  Oh yeah, and imitation is the sincerest form of
flattery.  If you recognize a specific fanfic creation, it belongs to
its author (when this series is finished, I may tally them up)  The
teaching style described is a combination of my own, my SM's and that
described in huji/hujimas fics by HollyIlex. 
Rating: PG, prob.  Hey, I'm not offended by much, if it should be rated
higher, tell me! 
Content Warning: purists beware.  Language may offend some readers. m/m
relationship is not weird. 
Summary: Three have become four, and its time to teach the boy about
his new life before they return to the Game. 

That's long enough. On with the show!


"Shit, crap, fuck..."  Richie's mental rant slid from English to French
to German as he slid and scrambled down the shale-lined goat track that
was the only visible way down to the base of the cliff.  The bright
orangy-red light of the setting sun cast bloody shadows into the base
of the cliff where the crumpled body of Ensign Harry Kim lay.  As far
as Richie could tell, the kid hadn't moved since he had fallen through
a sinkhole and crashed nearly twenty metres to the rocks below.

The brambles tore at Richie's skin, which healed almost instantly, only
to be torn again.  The minutes passed like eons before Richie finally
skidded in to kneel beside Harry's dark head.  He put his fingers
against the carteroid artery, but he already knew there would be no
pulse.  Richie had seen enough death, in all its forms, to know a
broken neck when he saw one.  Gently, he closed Harry's eyes, then sat
back to watch the changing horizon.  They weren't due back at the
mission campsite for another half an hour at least, he had the time.

The break was clean, and it only took a few short minutes for the
damage to finish healing.  Richie turned back to the body by his side
as Harry drew in that first gasping breath after resurrection.  Richie
put a splayed hand on the dark-haired boy's chest.   "Shh, just lay
back and take a few deep breaths."

The kids' eyes were wide with fear and confusion.  "Shh," Richie
repeated.  "Just rest and finish healing."  

"What happened?"

Richie saw no way to soft-peddle the news.  "You fell off the cliff and
broke your neck."

Harry immediately wriggled his fingers.  Richie smiled.  "Sorry to be
blunt, Harry, but you died."

Harry sat up, his eyes broadcasting his disbelief.  "Died? But I'm
talking to you now!"

Richie smiled and pushed himself to his feet.  Offering his hand to the
new Immortal, he explained further.  "Harry, hate to be the one to
break it to you, and like this, but you're an Immortal.  You cannot
die.  Any injuries you receive, up to decapitation, will heal
instantly.  You will cease to age after this day."  He saw the look on
Harry's face.  The kid obviously though he was insane.  He sighed to
himself.  **Rei and the Old Man are so much better at this than me.**
"Allow me to demonstrate."  Without any further warning, he flicked out
his boot knife and drove it deep into Harry's thigh.  The small blade
did not touch the bone, but the way the Ensign crumpled under the
sudden and shocking pain, it was as if it had.  Richie counted to ten,
then yanked the arm he held up.  "Stand.  It should be healed by now."

It wasn't until Harry had spent almost ten minutes poking, prodding and
scanning the site of the wound that he accepted that it had healed
without trace.  Richie noted the sinking sun and began herding the new
Immortal to the goat track that was their only way back up towards the

"Listen, we can't discuss this around the others, so keep your cool,
okay?  One thing you should know, when you first get near another of
our kind, there is this thing called the Buzz.  Its like a really
severe, sudden headache.  It will go away after a few seconds.  Try not
to react."  Richie smiled reassuringly.  He doubted that the kid would
be able to pull it off, and slowed his pace accordingly.  The twilight
gloom would hopefully mask any adverse reaction.

"Our kind?  There are more like... Immortals?"  Harry tasted the
strange word on his tongue, rolling the unfamiliar concept

"Yeah," Richie answered, his eyes scanning ahead as he herded Harry
camp-wards.  "They will introduce themselves to you.  We have worked
hard to keep a low profile, Harry.  Please keep the secret..." The Buzz
hit him moments before Harry reacted, clutching his head instinctively.
Richie put his hand on the boy's shoulder until the pain passed.  The
shadows down the path moved to reveal both Reia and Methos.

Reia moved to Harry, and Richie went to stand by his lover to give them
space.  "Had a little accident, did we Brat?" Methos asked mildly.

"Gravity works," Richie retorted drily.  But a longer explanation would
have to wait, for Reia was herding her charge over to them.  

"Doctor Pierson-Ryan," she said with a private smile.  "Ensign Kim has
a migraine.  Be a lad and excuse him from all duties for the rest of
the night."

Methos matched her smirk and put on his most pompous tone.  "Oh yes,
Lieutenant Wells.  Quiet quarters, with the privacy screen engaged, I
think.  All the noise of the camp would only aggravate his condition
otherwise.  I think a good night's sleep would be the best course of
treatment, rather than a chemical solution.  Come along, Ensign."

With minimal fuss, the trio bamboozled the rest of the away team to
ensconce Harry in the most private sleeping area they could find.  All
sleeping quarters they had with them were communal, so it was little
effort to put Harry in the same area that Adam, Richie and Rachel had
already claimed as their own.  Harry prepared for bed with minimum
fuss, still a little shell-shocked by what had happened to him a scant
hour before.

The truth finally filtered through to his consciousness.  "I was dead,"
he said to the wall.

"Yes," Reia answered cheerfully from the door.

"But I'm not anymore."

"That's correct," Adam agreed as he shook out a blanket.

Harry asked the big question.  "Why?"

Richie shrugged.  "I've been wondering that one for centuries.  If you
figure it out, please let me know."

Reia came across to him with a small but friendly smile.  She lifted up
the edge of the blanket.  "Try to get some sleep.  I promise I'll
answer any questions in the morning.  But you've had a big day..." what
sounded suspiciously like a snort came from over Adam's direction.  She
ignored it and continued on in a ruthlessly cheerful manner.  "And I
have no doubt its all catching up with you.  Rest now."  Somehow, she
managed to make a kindly suggestion seem like an inviolate order.

The lights flicked out, the door hissed shut and Harry was left alone
in the dark to wonder.  Surprisingly, he found sleep.

The next morning he woke alone.  The other bunks were cold.  Washing
and dressing on automatic, he stepped outside to see the last of the
breakfast crowd eating their meal and discussing what they were
intending to do today.  Idly, his hand brushed his thigh where Richie
had driven a dagger.  No mark, no pain.  He was unsure whether it was
all just something he had dreamt.

Neelix ambled over to him, a plate in his hands.  "Harry!  How are you
feeling this morning."

"Uh, fine," he told the shorter alien vaguely.  "I feel...perfectly

Neelix smiled broadly.  "Good, good.  Here, I've made you some
breakfast specially.  I saved you some of those fruits you like, and a
slice of bre-ad," he slurred the unfamiliar word.  "Crewman Tacey
showed me how to make it last night.  I would have put some..."

Harry wasn't really listening.  He took the plate as Neelix nattered on
and chewed without tasting, his eyes scanning the camp area.  "Neelix,"
he interrupted.  "Where's Richie?"  He could not see his team mate from
yesterday anywhere.  Neither could he see...

"Oh yes, he went with Doctor Pierson-Ryan and Lieutenant Wills to
follow up on a report about a new type of medicinal herb.  They're
thinking of setting up some kind of distillation process to make
certain basic first aid components.  In fact, the doctor asked me to
send you up to their location, if you were feeling up to working today.
I think he wants to make sure your headache was nothing serious."
Leading Harry back to his camp kitchen, Neelix called up the co
ordinates.  Near enough, but still private.  Whatever those three
strange people wanted to say to him, they obviously didn't want an
audience.  Harry was tempted to tell the whole story to Neelix, just so
the alien could reassure him it was all a dream.

But some deep impulse made him keep his silence.  Instead, he just
nodded to Neelix.  "Thanks, I think I'll head out now."  Pausing only
long enough to pick up a tricorder and canteen from the racks on the
far end of the mess, he headed out in the right direction.

He judged he must almost be in the right location when the pain hit.
It was like red hot pins were being pushed into his brain from all
direction.  Claustrophobic sensations made his skin crawl, and he felt
like he was fighting for every breath.  A hand on his shoulder, rubbing
gentle circles, refocussed his attention.  "Shh," a female voice
crooned gently.  "Just try and breath, it will fade away."

Her words proved true as the sensations ebbed away.  He heard Richie's
voice come from somewhere past his left shoulder.  "That seemed worse
than normal."

A second voice answered.  "Well, Brat, you only had to learn to deal
with Kiltboy running around inside your radar.  He's got the three of
us to process."

Harry wondered if he had banged his head somehow and hadn't realised.
Kiltboy?  Radar?  Wincing, he realised that the pain was...well, not
gone.  Just turned into background noise, easy to ignore but still

The light laugh came from Doctor Adam Pierson-Ryan.  Harry had had
little to do with the Maquis doctor, apart from his regular physicals. 
He was well aware of the doctor's reputation for being friendly but
slightly removed from the social affairs of the ship.  He knew of more
than one person in engineering who had a crush on the thin man as well,
but the only thing more well-known than his detached manner was his
devotion to the younger looking man who was now reaching out to pat
Harry on the arm.

Richie Pierson-Ryan had integrated himself from day one into the
technical circles on the ship.  Having served alongside the new chief
engineer aboard the Liberty, he already had B'Ellana's respect, even if
he was not part of the inner circle that survived among the Maquis
engineers for the first month or two after their arrival in the delta
quadrant.  His lover may have a coolly sly approach to the rest of the
crew, but Richie was always happy in a crowd.  Any peculiarities were
brushed off as something he had picked up from his partner.

Harry was now rethinking that assumption.  "It wasn't a dream, was it?"
He looked from Richie to Adam to Rachel Wills, who still had a hand on
his shoulder.  "I really died, didn't I?"

"Yes, Harry," she said fondly.  "And now I think you deserve the full
explanation."  Gently, she herded him in front of her towards the sound
of running water.  They pushed out of the vegetation onto a large flat
sheet of granite rock that formed the bank here.  Walking slowly across
the slightly slippery surface, she sat him down on a seat-sized boulder
right next to the water's edge.  Looking around, Harry realised that
this was the perfect position for a clandestine discussion.  No one
could make it into earshot without them knowing.  He wondered how long
it had taken the mysterious trio to find this spot. 

Adam and Richie had ranged themselves slightly back, leaving the
'stage' to Reia.  The redhead smiled gently at Harry.  "Harry, you and
I are going to be spending a lot of time together in the near future.
So I think it's best if I am perfectly honest with you from the
beginning.  My real name is Reia, and I am nearly five thousand years
old.  I am Immortal, and now so are you."  She smiled again as she held
up her index finger, stilling the questions Harry was about to ask.
"I'll explain what that means, then you can ask anything, okay?"

Barely waiting for Harry's affirming nod, she began.  She told him the
limits of Immortality, and how they would never age.  She told him
about the debt to his ancestor she had accrued, and how he had come to
her attention.  She explained the Buzz sensation he had felt in their
presence.  Taking a deep breath, she then explained the Game and the
Prize that was still being fought for back in human-occupied
territories.  Finally she lapsed into silence and watched as Harry
struggled to absorb all he had been told.

Richie interrupted gently.  "Why don't we break for lunch now?  I think
you've got a lot to process, Harry.  I find food helps things along."

Adam laughed, breaking the tension that had developed.  "You just like
having another excuse to eat."

Harry let their playful banter wash over him as he repeated what he had
just been told to himself.  Living forever.  The secrecy.  The...he
swallowed convulsively.  The beheadings, the fighting for these
'Quickenings' that apparently had been going on all Rach- Reia's
considerable life.  Unless of course this was some giant hoax, and any
moment now Tom Paris was going to leap out of the bushes shouting

Harry eyed the nearest pilot-sized clump of foliage.  No.  This didn't
feel like a joke.  This felt real.

For the second time that day, he accepted food without looking, and ate
without tasting.

Only once the impromptu picnic had been packed away again did Reia turn
to her charge.  Stretching her legs out in front of her, she examined
Harry's face.  "Ask.  Whatever questions you have, however silly or
strange or insulting you think they sound, ask them."

So he did.  And Reia answered.  So did Adam and so did Richie.  Their
words seemed strange to Harry's logical, scientifically trained mind,
but somehow they also rang true, like some primordial recollection long
ago buried.

Finally, the questions petered out.  To his quiet relief, the trio
around him didn't seem upset by his probings.  In fact, they acted as
if they had anticipated every line of questioning.

He laid back on the sun-warmed rock and rubbed his face tiredly.  "Who
would have thought such a secret existed!  My life has changed forever,
hasn't it?"  It was a rhetorical question, and no one answered.  "How
am I going to learn everything I need to know to survive five days on
Earth, let alone five thousand years!"

A rustle of material made him open his eyes, just in time to see Richie
and Adam leave the clearing.  He sat up, alarmed.  Reia chuckled.
"Relax, Harry.  They're just giving us a moment."

Harry eyed the other woman warily.

"Nothing like that!" She laughed with honest mirth.  "Harry, I have a
proposition for you.  You said it yourself, you'd never survive a
challenge.  Well, I've survived lots."  She paused a moment.  "I've
also taught a few youngsters to survive as well."  She looked at him
and smirked, abashed.  "There's more to Immortality than just keeping
your head on your shoulders."  She shrugged again.  "What I'm offering
you is for me to become your teacher."

Harry sat bolt upright.  "Yes, please."

She laughed again.  "Woah, hold on there, kemosabe.  My teaching style
is very peculiar.  It's not for everybody.  In fact, Adam and I are the
only one's who really teach this method any more.  No one else can
really handle the requirements, and anyway, there are few students who
are up to the challenge.  Let me explain."

She paused and sipped water from the canteen, gathering her thoughts.
She could feel the heat of Harry's gaze on her, and knew she had to
choose her next words carefully.

"Let me tell you what I expect from my students, Harry.  I expect
absolute, unwavering obedience.  Not just asking how high when I say
jump.  When I say jump, you should already be in the air.  I will be
incredibly strict.  You though boot was hard at the Academy?"  Harry
was nodding.  "Well, that's a picnic compared to what I will put you
through. I will drag you out of bed to spar.  I will grab you when you
come off shift, dirty and exhausted, and take you on a ten mile sprint.
You will not only learn how to fight, but you will also learn every
detail of how to survive.  I expect you to study language until you
speak several like a native.  You will learn how to disappear off a
system, how to re-appear as a fictional character.  You will do all
this and more, when I ask you and without complaint."

She took in his expression in a glance.  "I need this obedience from
you so you will learn properly."  She smirked.  "Traditionally, my
student was also my servant, but I think I will waive that right, in
lieu of you continuing your duty shifts as normal.  But you will still
be giving me the majority of your day, and neither of us will have much
of a social life from here on in."

Harry opened his mouth, paused, closed it again.

"You wish to ask a question?" She asked with cool formality.


"Then please ask.  For once you agree, there is no turning back."

"Why?  Why would you teach me?  Why don't you just take my head as easy
pickings?"  Some part of Harry's mind was appalled that he could
suggest such a concept so easily, but he pressed on.  "Aren't you
afraid I will turn around and take what you teach me to use against

She leant back on her elbows and stretched her legs out in front of
her.  "Fair questions.  Let me address them in turn.  Why?  Why not?"
She smirked again.  "I offer to teach you in part because I owe your
family a debt, and partly because I see promise in you, young one.
Your head is currently quite worthless, and would probably cost me more
to take it than I would get in return as a Quickening.  And, and let me
make this quite clear Harry," she pushed up off her elbows and pinned
the young Ensign with a look.  "If you ever come after my head, I will
make sure your final moments in this existence as the most terrifying
imaginable.  It is part of the agreement.  The only time I will be
justified in touching that neck of yours is if you challenge me.  If
you come after me in anger, not formally, you will be punished
severely, but I will not kill you – not permanently."  Her smirk now
was cold.  "That counts for any time you raise a hand or weapon to me. 
But I promise you now, if you refrain from challenging me, your life is
safe with me.  You have my word.  Do you understand."

Harry gulped convulsively.  "Got it.  Don't challenge Teach."

She laughed.  "See, I told you you had potential."

"May I ask another question?"

"Yes."  She was sunning herself casually, but Harry had no doubt as to
the ferocity of her attention.

"What will my training consist of?  You've already mentioned sparring
and fighting and the obvious stuff.  Languages and how to develop a new
identity I understand as well.  But surely there must be other things
we do in all the time you want from me."

She nodded.  "Yes.  You will also do other things, such as weapon
creation, repair and maintenance.  I favour lots of discussion to
develop the mental aptitudes not only to kill in such a ritualized
manner, but also to maintain the hunter's edge for centuries on end.
The Game is very much one of psychological warfare.  Mind games have
killed a lot of promising young Immortals.  I will make available to
you copies of my journals, such that I have on hand.  You will learn
from my mistakes, so you do not have to make them yourself.  You will
read a lot.  Many great authors have had many insights into things
which have bearing on the Game.  Strength and flexibility exercises
which will help with your swordwork.   Those are the major ones, and
the ones we will focus on especially for the next decade or so..."

"Decade!?" Harry squarked in alarm.

"Oh yes," she replied indulgently.  "My training regimes usually last
somewhere between fifty to one hundred years."  She eyed him
thoughtfully.  "In your case, we're probably going to be edging towards
the maximum, since out here you're needed on the bridge and can't just
vanish with me for years on end."  She laid back out again.  "But don't
worry, being out here also means that I won't have to face any
challenges for you for a while."  She snorted.  "You'll also have a
modicum of freedom I usually don't allow my students.  If we were on
Earth, you would resign from any external commitments and not leave my
side for the next ten to fifteen years."

"I...I need to think about this."

She waved a hand expansively about.  "Of course.  If you chose not to
agree, I will, of course, teach you which end of a sword is up.  That
should take about a week, tops.  Then you can do as you wish.  Let me
know what you decide.  I'd like to get started, either way."

"Can I ask one more question?"


"What's in it for you?"  He half expected her to fly into a rage and
withdraw her offer for asking such an impudent question.  But instead
she laughed again.

"Always look for a motive. Good, I knew you had potential!  What's in
it for me?  I can massage my ego by being the guru?  If I get unlucky,
I will still live on through you and my other students?  I'd feel
guilty if I sent you out into the big bad world alone?  I like to teach
and have missed it?  You'd be one more Immortal I can hang with without
fear of my neck?  Take your pick, and if you don't like those I could
probably think up a few more."  She closed her eyes to the sunshine.
"To teach is to make an emotional investment in an Immortal who may one
day be your opponent in the Gathering.  I don't often make that kind of
effort, but when I do, I give my best and expect the best in return.
Time to make a decision Harry.  Go for a walk and ask yourself if you
have what it takes to commit."

Obeying the implicit dismissal, he headed out off the rock shelf.  A
dozen metres into the greenery, he came across Richie and Adam
cataloguing samples.  "She made you an offer?"


"You taking her up on it?"

"I don't know yet."

Adam snorted. "Navel gazing! Don't take too long, she may retract it." 
Snapping off a sample, he stalked back the way Harry had come,
obviously going to get the Lieutenant back onto the job.  Harry looked
at Richie, and saw the look of quiet compassion he saw there.

 "It's a seems like a big decision to make, doesn't it?"

Harry sighed and rolled his eyes.  "Yeah.  Hey Richie, can I ask – who
taught you?"

Richie laughed.  "That's a long story.  I had a teacher who was as much
a father as a teacher, but...but things went wrong, and I couldn't
trust him as teacher anymore.  I did my own thing for a while.  Most of
what I've learnt, I've learnt from Adam, and from watching others."  He
shrugged, slightly embarrassed.  "But to answer your unasked question –
yes, training their way is hard and tough and there are days when you
just want to take your own head.  But these are balanced by the days
you nail a difficulty, or have some great insight as the lessons sink
in.  I've done my own thing, I've had casual training and I've been
subjected to the intense focus of being a student for decades.  In the
end, I think it was the latter which has kept me alive for so long.  So
yes, formal training is worth it.  If you're strong enough."  Pausing
to pat Harry once on the shoulder, Richie moved to follow his lover
back to the clearing, leaving Harry alone again.

Thoughts whirling, he pushed further through the scrub.


Three Immortals in different parts of the base camp looked around and
tried not to be too obvious about it as the new, young Buzz entered
their consciousness.

Methos and Richie saw Harry first as he ambled down the track in the
company of one of the final scout teams to return for the evening.
Parting company with the team as they went to report in, he nodded in
subtle greeting as he strolled past the table where the Pierson-Ryan's
worked to prepare evening meal with others under Neelix's strict
instructions.  The pair watched covertly as he casually found Reia as
she checked over the supply of research tricorders on the recharge

Richie had the clearer view as he saw Harry move up to stand at the end
of the workbench, waiting as Reia finished her self-appointed task.
Richie watched as Reia looked up, finally acknowledging his presence.
He saw Harry nod once, yes.  Reia gently clasped his shoulder and
muttered a few brief words of instruction before she moved on to her
next task.  Harry stood at the end of the table for a moment, before
visibly pulling himself together, shoulders back and head erect.  Mask
in place, the newest Immortal went off to tend to other duties around
the camp.

Richie turned back to his lover.  "Well, Rach's got herself a pupil.
What are we going to do with our evenings now?"

The old man's smile was lecherous.  "I'm sure we can think of
something, Brat."

Richie pelted him with a pea and grinned.


The sword tip slit a thin bloody gash across his flank.  "Never drop
your guard."  Reia circled once, to allow for the wound to heal.


For that she whapped him with the flat of her blade.  "Don't whine."
The holographic sword was then battered out of his hand.  "And never
call me by my real name in public."  She flicked the dropped weapon
into the air with her foot and held out both weapons to him, silently
commanding him to return them to their place.

Automatically, Harry moved to the appropriate weapons rack, though his
pace was sluggish and his shoulders stooped.  "How much sleep have you
had today?"  She had a fairly good idea, but wanted to hear his

"Umm, I caught a few hours after I came off shift..." he caught her
look and immediately rectified the sentence.  "It would be just over
three hours, mistress.  Then you woke me and we studied the
philosophies of T'pek and her students."  

Reia flicked a gaze to the chronometer that was on the wall as part of
the simulation.  They had studied T'pek's philosophy of the austere
life for nearly two hours, then she had taken him on a five mile run
around the ship during the dim lighting of ship's 'night.'  Then
straight onto swordwork.

"Very well.  That will be sufficient for tonight.  You are scheduled to
do your weekly double shift tomorrow, aren't you?"

Harry looked like he wanted to stifle a groan.  "Yes, Mistress."  Reia
bit back a chuckle of her own.  Harry using her formal title in the
gymnasium – Sword Mistress – always took her back to her days as a la
boheme, where every bright young thing was a mistress of one
description or another.  Dragging her focus back to the present, she
tossed her protιgι a towel.  "I want you to get some rest.  No dinner,
and only one piece of fruit for breakfast tomorrow.  No tea, coffee or
snacks until I say so.  Come find me during your meal break instead,
please.  Do you understand?"

Harry wiped the sweat off his face.  "Yes, mistress."  He had already
learned not to query or question her sometimes strange sounding

"Excellent.  Good night, Harry."  She turned her back in dismissal, and
did not turn back until she heard the holodeck doors close.  She then
took down a staff and began a long, slow kata to wind down from her
exertions.  She wished she didn't have to share her pupil.  It seemed
so foolish to work the boy even harder than he really had to.  The
double pace was certainly beginning to tell, if those dark shadows
under his eyes and his sluggish pace were any indication.  She would
discuss the matter with Adam in the morning.  

She smiled as the staff span gracefully through the air.  Perhaps
tomorrows little surprise would cheer him up.


"Harry, come on, lunchtime!  If we're late, all the good stuff will be

"She mean's all the edible stuff!"  B'Ellana and Tom's laughter
could be heard echoing up the jefferies tube where Harry was wiggling
his way towards the access point.  He was trying hard to ignore the
rumbling in his stomach and the grit behind his eyes.  All morning, all
he could smell was the coffee from the work station area, and it was
slowly driving him insane.  The strange thing was, he didn't really
even like the stuff.

Pushing himself feet first through the access point, he dropped the
final few feet to the deck, gel-pack in his hand.  The pack was easily
replaceable, which was why he had chosen it for contamination.

"What is that, Starfleet?"

He held it up so that the discolouration was clearly visible.  "Our
problem."  Actually, it was a burnt out relay between this gel-pack and
the system it managed, but that wouldn't be sufficient as an excuse.
"I've replaced it and checked the rest of the system out.  But I'd like
to get the lab to check it out.  The discolouration is a little weird."

He didn't wait for the Chief Engineer to speak once she started nodding
her head in agreement.  "Listen, I'll drop this off at the lab on the
way.  You guys may as well go on ahead and get started on lunch, I'll
meet you there once I find someone and explain what I want done.  Bye."
He was gone before they could interject.

B'Ellana turned to her companion.  "Is it just me, or is Harry starting
to act really strange lately?"

Tom laughed and guided his companion towards the nearest 'lift.  "He's
probably got a crush on someone in bio sciences.  Come on, if we hurry
we might still get a dessert too."

Harry waited until he was a good section away from his companions
before asking the computer to locate Lieutenant Wills.  The reply
surprised him.

**Lieutenant Rachel Wills wants you to find her**

He sighed and got a better grip on his squeltchy excuse.  Great, just
great.  He was hungry, tired and cranky and she wanted him to play

Unbidden, he heard her voice in the back of his head, outlining the
commitments she expected from her students. "I need this obedience from
you so you will learn properly."  Pausing at a junction, he thought.
Okay, prime locations for her at this time of day.  He knew her
routines and habits, he could find her before lunch was up.



Her lab was a bust, as was the medical bay and holodecks.  He decided
to take up one of the junior science officers suggestion and try the
hydroponics bay.  She wasn't there, but Kes was.  The pixie-like young
alien had recently grown her hair long, and Harry liked the maturity it
lent to her appearance.

"Harry," she said in her whispery voice.  "Are you looking for

"Someone, actually," he replied with a smile.  He always felt himself
relax around Kes.  "Millar said I might find Lieutenant Wills down

She shook her head.  "No, I haven't seen her all day.  Though," she
said quickly, her face brightening.  "Richie was helping me repair the
recycler pump this morning, he mentioned having lunch with her today.
He said she owed him the credits."

Harry smiled broadly.  That narrowed it down to either her quarters or
his.  "Thanks Kes, that's a big help."  He moved quickly out into the
corridor and down to the next junction.  The Immortal woman's quarters
were on the next deck up, on the other side of the saucer.  As he moved
through the residential section, he felt the Buzz sensation ignite in
his hindbrain.

'Bingo,' he muttered to himself as he came on to the right door.  It
hissed open without him announcing himself.  Inside, he found all three
sitting down in front of a platter of tasty looking sandwiches.

"Ahh, look who finally deigned to join us," he heard from behind.  "Sit
down, you've only got ten minutes left for your lunch break."

He suppressed a groan.  Tom and Bel were probably wondering what
happened to him, if they had dragged their attentions off each other.
He and half the ship had bets going on when those two would drop the
antagonists act and realised the attraction was mutual.

Pushing those thoughts aside, he slid easily onto his knees in his
accustomed spot on Reia's left.  He eyed the food hungrily, but made no
move to eat.  "You may have one, Harry," Reia told him with an
indulgent tone.  "But only one.  Have you figured out the object of
this exercise yet?"

Harry hastily swallowed his mouthful.  "Working around hunger.  Keeping
your focus when your stomach is growling for attention."  

Reia nodded and smiled as she helped herself to a triangle.  "One
sandwich should be roughly equivalent to what you would have foraged by
now if you were working at survival and not in engineering."  She
picked up a jug and glass and poured a large drink.  "And let's assume
you found a stream somewhere too."  She passed him the glass, which he
accepted gratefully.

Almost forgotten on the couch, Adam piped up.  "Geez, that's slack.  I
would have dreamt up an equivalent desert for him to be dumped in."

Richie laughed.  "Knowing Reia, that will probably come later."

Reia grinned at her young friend.  "Baby steps, Rich, baby steps.

Hastily wiping off a few stray crumbs, he nodded.  "Yes, maam."

"Good.  Because I have something for you."  She rose gracefully and
disappeared into her room.  She returned moments later, hands behind
her back.  "Harry, stand."

He scrambled to obey, automatically pulling himself to attention.

She smirked and swung her hands to hold a long black case horizontally
between them.  Checking for her nod of approval, he tentatively reached
forward and snapped open the case.  It couldn't...

The sword was as long as his arm, the fullers gleaming in the indirect
light of her quarters.  With a noise of awe, he gently picked up the
weapon and swung it once, experimentally.  The balance was incredible,
and a dozen lessons slammed into place as he felt the sword move like
an extension of his arm.  

"I...thankyou, thankyou very much," he stammered out.

Reia laughed and put the case down.  "Don't thank me yet, boy.  You
haven't seen how much I'm going to make you use it.  And here."  She
pulled out some black material from the case.  "Put that on so you can
carry it back to your quarters.  I don't expect you to carry on ship –
these damn uniforms make life difficult in that regard.  But you can't
just walk through the corridors waving it around.  And," she glanced at
the monitor on the desk.  "If you want to return it to your quarters
and get back before your break ends, you'd better stash it in a hurry.

Swallowing a curse, Harry hurried to comply, ignoring Adam's
snickering.  The sling was comfortable, but still he figeted in it,
unused to the feel of steel against his skin.  He came back into the
main room, where the older three were snacking on the remaining
sandwiches.  Richie pointed gleefully at the monitor.

"You're gonna be la-ate!"

He cursed slightly.  "Listen, Reia, if anyone asks, the gelpack I gave
you had just worn out, and the discolouration meant nothing."

"What discolouration?"  Richie asked with professional curiousity.

"The dye I injected into it to give me a reason to visit your lab!"

Methos nearly choked on his sandwich in laughter.  "Sneaky! I like it."

Reia began herding her charge to the door.  "Got it!  Now git!"

Harry paused just outside the field of the door sensors, reached over
and pecked a kiss on his teacher's cheek.  "Thankyou."

"You're welcome!  Scoot!"  Laughing, she slapped his butt to push him
out the door.


'One thing about all that training. Running late doesn't mean running
out of breath,' he thought to himself as he careened full tilt around a
corner and pelted down the final corridor to engineering.  Five feet
from the doors, he dug his heels in and slid to a neat stop.  Tugging
his uniform straight, he strode into his favourite domain.

"Starfleet!"  B'Ellana hailed him the second he walked in the door.
"We missed you at lunch."

Harry slapped himself on the forehead and went thespian.  "Oh, sorry!
I got talking to the guys in the lab, and we ended up eating there.
But you'll be pleased to know that gel-pack was just worn out.  No
great catastrophe looming."

Torres gave the younger man a curious look.  "Okay.  Harry?"  She asked
in a quieter voice as she herded him into a relatively secluded
section.  "Is everything okay?  You know I'm your friend, and if you
want to talk..."

'Crap,' he shouted in his mind.  Out loud, he spoke as he waved her
down.  "Bel, everything's fine.  Why did you think otherwise?"

 "Its just, well...we hardly ever see you anymore.  You always seem to
be busy with some thing or other.  Tom thinks you've got a secret
girlfriend," she laughed uneasily, well aware of how petty her concerns
sounded when spoken out loud.

Secretly, Harry was touched.  He was beginning to doubt his friend's
had even noticed that he hardly had any free time for them anymore.
"I'm sorry, Bel, I guess I have been a little preoccupied."  On an
impulse, he gave her a hug around the waist.  "Don't worry, you're
still my favourite Maquis!"

B'Ellana returned the hug awkwardly, unused to such spontaneous
displays of affection.  Finally, she mock-growled "okay, that's enough
soppy stuff.  Back to work.  That burnout in junction 15 won't repair

Pulling back, he threw off a jaunty salute.  "Yes ma'am!"  He strolled
off to collect his tools, his mind whirling on how to deal with the
Lieutenant's suspicions. 


"Ignore 'em.  By tomorrow Tom Paris will have done something completely
fucked and she'll have forgotten about the entire conversation."  Reia
punctuated her advice but puncturing his lung.  While they paused to
let him heal, she continued.  "Act like there is nothing there to be
interested in, and she'll stop finding it interesting."

He bowed slightly.  "Yes, mistress.  I guess you're right."  

She whapped him playfully across the butt with the flat of her sword.
"Of course I am.  Computer!  Variation 12 aleph!"  The holodeck
complied as the scenery shifted around them into thick, tropical
jungle.  The air was full of heat, humidity and small biting insects.
"Thought a change of scenery for your run might be appreciated," she
remarked with the good cheer of one who wasn't going running.  "Fifteen
minutes out, then return."

Biting down a sigh, because he knew that would only get the exercise
lengthened, he dropped his sword and started for the least-cluttered
path out.  

Reia waited until he was well into his first tangle, then whistled for
his attention.  "Forget something?"

Harry froze, then nearly slapped himself.  Lesson number one:  The
sword is a part of you – where you go, it goes.  He knew he was going
to be 'jogging' in the jungle for quite a while tonight.

To his surprise, she did not amend her instructions.  Picking up his
weapon and sliding it into the ever-present sheathe, he moved through
the jungle, his progress easing slightly as he found his rhythm. The
tension did not leave his muscles – the dread was only heightened by
the waiting for the proverbial axe to fall.

But his serious lapse was not mentioned again that evening.  Confused,
he did not remind her as he headed for the showers.


"Is everything alright with you?"  Harry was now well-practised in
suppressing his sighs.  As soon as he saw the message from Chakotay
requesting an interview, Harry knew he was up for some serious
bullshitting on the fly.  He would have loved to have spoken to Reia
beforehand, or even Adam or Richie.  But the summons specified he
present himself at the Commander's office immediately – there was no
time to go seeking the advice of his elders.

"What do you mean, Commander?"  He played for time until he could
figure out if Chakotay was after something specific or whether he was
just fishing.

"All the command staff have noticed a change in your behaviour these
last few months.  B'Ellana and Paris have already expressed their
concerns to me."  Harry mentally translated – **B'El was bitching to
Tom and you overheard.**

"Changes, sir?"  The mental voice cut in again -- **ooh, nice reversion
to Clueless Ensign mode there.**

Chakotay let his frustration show.  "I can't remember the last time I
saw you out, at Sandrine's or at one of the gatherings in the Mess
hall."  He slipped into his 'paternal' mode.  "We're worried about you
Harry, we think you're spending too much time on your own.  Are you
feeling alright?"

Harry spotted an out and seized it with both hands.  "Just a bit tired,
sir."  He tried for a self-abasing shrug.  "Having trouble getting to
sleep."  **Yeah, what with all the swordwork and running and training
and studying, who has time for little details like sleep?**

Chakotay's frown deepened slightly.  "Have you had the Doc check you
out?  No point suffering from insomnia unnecessarily."

Harry repeated his shrug, trying to make it seem uninteresting.  "Why,
its just a touch of sleeplessness.  I'm sure it will pass."  **Yeah, in
another century or so when Reia lets me loose.**

Chakotay stood up.  "It's affecting your daily routine Harry, that
makes it important.  Get the doctor to check it out today, and no
double shifts for the rest of the week.  Catch up on your rest."

Harry stood.  "Yes sir."  He beat his escape before his giggling became


"So you pleaded chronic exhaustion.  And he bought that?"

Harry nodded as he tracked Adam's movement around the room.  "Yeah,
well, I'm pretty sure he did.  But to be honest, Adam, I'm getting
worried.  First B'Ellana, now Chakotay.  I think Reia and I will have
to figure out a way to divert their suspicions."

Adam ran the tricorder over his head in a cursory scan.  "I think Rach
will agree with me," he said in mild chastisement.  "Making any changes
to your routines this soon after being questioned over them will just
make it look like you two have something to hide."  Reading off the
details of the scan, Adam moved over to the main console.  "Though the
exhaustion excuse wasn't entirely fabricated, was it?"

He considered lying, but decided it was pointless.  "Yeah.  Tired as I
am, I'm still having troubles dropping off."  Slipping off the biobed,
he pulled his service jacket back on.  "My mind keeps spinning over for
hours before I can fall asleep."  He snorted.  "Of course, once I am
asleep, it seems to take a supernova to wake me again."  

Adam was nodding.  "Okay, here."  He handed Harry a hypospray.  "Go
back to your quarters, have something to eat, a nice long hot shower,
and take that just before bed.  Tomorrow we'll discuss meditation
techniques to help you calm down enough for sleep."

Harry weighed the hypo in his hand, looking as if he was about to

"And no arguments!"

Bowing out with good grace, Harry made his exit.  Adam kept working,
mentally counting in his head.  He had only reached one hundred and
thirty three when Reia sailed into his domain.  **She must really be
worried about him,** he though to himself as he spoke out loud.  "You
boy has strict orders to eat, shower, and sleep.  The sedative I gave
him should knock him out for hours.  Are you really going to give him a

Reia nodded as she came to stand opposite him.  "Yep.  Even the most
dedicated hujis need a holiday, and besides, out here he has no choice
but to burn the candle at both ends.  I think we can afford the pause
in his training regime."

Adam nodded to himself.

"I take it you approve?"

"Since when have you needed my approval for anything?"

"Just admit it, Adam.  The boy's gotten under your skin.  You care what
happens to him."

"He's my patient," Adam replied nonchalantly, as if that explained

"Uh huh.  Sure thing, Adam-san."  With a knowing grin, she headed for
the door.  "I think I'll check in on him, let him know he's on respite
for a week.  We're doing a mineral survey for replacement crystals at
that yellow dwarf system when we arrive in about four days.  After
that, we'll resume on a modified schedule."

Adam kept his face carefully neutral.  "I'm sure he'll appreciate it."

"He better," she mock-growled.  "This is the first time in three and a
half thousand years I've modified my training regime."  She turned and
left the sickbay.

Adam grinned at his console.  She was turning into such a soppy
pushover, it was almost...cute.

The grin broadened as Adam got back to work.