Disclaimer: Paramount owns them and again, I play to play.
Rating: NC-17 Contains graphic scenes of consensual adult M/M sex.
Summary: C/P, J/C, P/T Chapter Six: The direction of the wind is changing...
Copyright July 2001 Cassatt
The Fantasy of Tom
Chakotay woke up slowly, somehow aware the alarm would be going off very soon. Looking at the chronometer he sighed. 0627. Three minutes to go.
"Computer abort alarm," he said in a voice rusty with sleep.
He stretched and his hand ran into what felt like a PADD. Tom. Body memories washed over him, details of the night he'd just spent flashing through his brain. Gods... He rolled onto his side, propping his head up with one hand, accessing the PADD with the other.
"C -- thank you for a wonderful time sounds so trite. I can't think of any other way to say it. I hope we won't have to wait another week before we can do it again. I want to continue. Hope you slept well. Tom."
The grin breaking across his face was enormous. A loud groan turned into a laugh. He rolled onto his stomach, the groan returning as his slight erection was pressed into the mattress. He entered a responding message into the PADD, then pushed himself out of bed quickly, dropped the PADD on the bedside table and went into the bathroom with a bounce in his step.
He'd been sitting in the messhall for about twenty minutes, eating breakfast, reading his book, waiting for Tom to come in. B'Elanna had, and Harry, as usual. But it was now 0725, the start of alpha shift was getting closer and still no Tom. Which wasn't usual. Chakotay picked up his book and the PADD and returned to his quarters.
The computer told him Tom was at home, alone, so he tried to hail him. No answer. Well, maybe he was just in the shower, he thought. Chakotay left for Tom's quarters, only intending to drop off his message and go to work. He hit the door chime, but got no response, and the computer told him he was still inside. After hesitating a few seconds, looking around to see that no one was watching, he put in an override code and entered.
The sound of rhythmic heavy breathing and very low lights brought Chakotay to the bed, where he found Tom deeply asleep. They were both due on the bridge in twenty-five minutes. He sat on the edge after increasing the illumination and shook the man's shoulder, butterflies coming back with a vengeance as he felt the warmth of Tom's skin.
He started to move under Chakotay's touch, rolling over, eyes opening gradually. "Hunh? I thought... I came home...."
Chakotay laughed softly. "You did. You've gotta get up, Tom, shift starts in twenty-five minutes."
"Shit!" He started to scramble out of bed, Chakotay jumping up to give him room. "Shit. The captain will have my head for sure now..." he muttered, dashing to the bathroom.
Chakotay did a quick straighten of the bedclothes and placed his PADD on Tom's pillow, hearing water running in the sink, Tom's words finally registering. He went to the bathroom, greeted by the sight of a naked Tom rinsing his mouth, splashing water on his face and hair. He tried to ignore the view.
"The captain understands when people are a few minutes late," he said. "Can I do anything to help you? Want something to eat from the replicator?"
Tom looked at him askance. "She understands? Maybe where you're concerned, but certainly not me." He picked up his shaver. "Food? Thanks, um, yeah, a peanut butter energy bar and a large orange juice. Please."
Chakotay looked at the smile beaming back at him. Unbidden feelings settled in his chest. He made a conscious effort to breathe and went to the replicator, mulling over what Tom said. He couldn't imagine Kathryn would give her pilot a hard time professionally. But then again, her parameters were not always as clear cut as she thought they were. When he got back to the bathroom Tom had finished shaving and was combing his hair quickly.
"Thanks for the breakfast," he said, taking a bite.
"Tom, what did you mean about the captain giving you a hard time?"
He swallowed and downed half the glass of orange juice. "It's not that I didn't deserve it, I mean, I was five minutes late last week - you know, after the lunch hour we spent in your office? And sometimes she's kidding me, but this time she wasn't. She was pissed, made me apologize to Sarah..." He bit off another large piece.
Now Chakotay was beginning to feel pissed. Among other things. Extremely protective for one, and not of the woman sitting in the command chair. He watched Tom watching him, drinking his juice, their eyes beginning to lock together. Tom put down the glass. Chakotay was leaning on the doorjamb, his arms crossed. Tom smiled at him.
"Gotta get dressed..." he said as he approached. Chakotay didn't budge. "You like to keep me from moving, don't you...." Tom's voice had suddenly dropped to the husky range. He was standing about a foot away.
Chakotay looked into this man's blue eyes. Something had happened that he didn't want to figure out, not just yet. He reached out and gently put his hand behind Tom's neck, pulling him forward until he could meet his mouth.
The kiss he gave him was soft, and tender, their lips moved together almost languidly as Tom followed his lead, returning each slow kiss, all concentration focused on the feel of their mouths. They were barely breathing, the most overwhelming sensation in their chests was a pounding heart. Reverberating in their ears. Chakotay gradually increased the pressure, and felt Tom respond, then pulled away slowly, looking deeply into Tom's eyes, rubbing a thumb along the side of his neck.
"I'll see you on the bridge," he said quietly, then turned and left.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Stunned, Tom watched his door swoosh open, heard Chakotay greet Harry, and saw his friend enter the quarters - all in slow motion.
"Tom... Tom! Come on, you're gonna be late...."
Tom focused for the first time on the man standing directly in front of him. "Yeah, late... can't be late," he said, beginning to move quickly. Harry kept up a running chatter at him while he dressed as rapidly as he could. Shift started in five minutes. He finally noticed the PADD and picked it up. Harry was saying something about Neelix's idea of breakfast rolls that morning. He opened the message.
"Tom - Trite or not, it's how I feel, too. Waiting six days is out of the question. Are you up for a match of hoverball tonight? Chakotay."
He tried to control the grin that was spreading across his face as he turned the PADD off.
"Tom?" Harry called to him, now near the doorway.
"Yeah, coming..." he said, dropping the PADD on his bed before dashing out the door with his best friend. In the lift, he caught Harry staring at him. "What?" he asked him.
"You've barely said ten words to me," Harry said. "I'm assuming you're distracted in a good way?"
"Just between you and me Har? I am in very very deep trouble..."
Chakotay was grateful he was alone at that moment. The thirty seconds it would take the lift to reach the bridge were a godsend. He suddenly called for a stop, desperate for another thirty, or forty, just to try and slow the sensations in his chest. Allowing himself to collapse backwards against the wall, hands spread on the carpeted surface, he closed his eyes and willed his body to take some deep breaths. Gods... What the hell has possessed him to do that? He didn't have time to think about it now. If he even wanted to think about it, which in his mind was the debatable point. Don't think, Chakotay. He took another cleansing breath. A body memory of being wrapped up in Tom, complete with the smell of his neck, overtook him. Don't feel, Chakotay! Go back to thinking, just not about that man... He pictured his desk with staffing evaluation reports waiting for him. Staffing evaluations... he was concerned about Renlay Sharr again... he'd come up with an idea yesterday, but what was it... yes, that was it... He called for the lift to resume, his mind on the crew member who, unknowingly, was saving his life.
Chakotay felt fairly normal entering the bridge, hearing the low hum of conversation and consoles working as alpha shift took over the running of the ship. It was just 0755. Kathryn wasn't sitting in her chair, but the ready room doors were open and he could see her at her desk reviewing something on a PADD, drinking her coffee, her feet propped up as usual. He took the opportunity given to watch her before being noticed. He listened to his heart, tuning out everything but her, and him. His love for her was still there, undiminished and for the most part, unchanged. She looked up and their eyes met. He felt a jolt that he couldn't define, then she smiled broadly and waved him in. Smiling, he joined her.
"Good morning, Kathryn," he said, sitting in front of her.
"Good morning to you," she said jovially. "Want some tea? How are you?"
He knew he'd have to answer that, but, again, didn't know how. "No thank you, I've had my fill this morning. How many cups is that for you so far?" He fell back on one of their old routines.
She grinned. "So, you're going to avoid the question by giving me shit about my caffeine consumption? Okay, I'll play along. Let me see, one upon waking though the usual bedside service wasn't around, two during my shower, three at breakfast, four about a half hour ago, which makes this cup number five. Pretty good start to the day, don't you think?"
He couldn't tell if she was making this up, or just trying to get to him. Having spent the past six months getting her to reduce it to three cups by the start of alpha, she knew what this information would do. He decided he didn't have the energy to play, he was still too shaky. "Well, then, no wonder you're in such a cheerful mood," he said, consciously giving her a smile.
She blinked, but he had to hand it to her, she didn't miss a beat. "Yup, nothing like a drug-induced high. So, shall we start over? How are you this morning?" She took another sip of coffee, but her eyes were firmly locked onto his.
He took his umpteenth deep breath of the past half hour. "I'm fine, Kathryn. Really."
"I trust that you would tell me if you weren't," she said quietly. "So did you have a good time last night?"
Shit, Kathryn... He studied her intently. Assuming that insecurity was the overriding reason for the question, he gave her what she needed. "It was fun. I admit, it was alot of fun."
"I see. Well, that's good." Her light tone didn't go along with the look in her eyes, however. "Have you made any more dates?"
"Nothing concrete. I asked him to play hoverball tonight - a different kind of fun. I'd actually been missing that sort of exercise, and he's a good opponent." He thought his explanation sounded pretty reasonable, overall.
Tom and Harry entered the bridge, walking quickly. Tom's eyes immediately went to the command chairs, but both were empty. Thank God.
"Lieutenant Paris. Ensign Kim." Tuvok's voice stopped their progress.
Tom turned to the tactical station, seeing Harry do the same out the corner of his eye. They responded almost in unison.
"I believe that alpha duty shift commenced two minutes ago," Tuvok intoned. "It is always preferable to arrive for duty five minutes before, so the change of personnel will be completed by the time the shift begins."
"Yes, sir," they said. Tom proceeded to the helm, relieving the gamma pilot, fuming. He immediately sent a message to Harry.
"H - could that guy have found any more words to say 'you're late'?? T." He sent it, smiling to himself at the joke. Assuming Chakotay was in the ready room, he casually turned in his seat to get a handle on what was happening. His console beeped. He noticed the ready room doors open and caught a glimpse of the two of them, talking. His heart skipped. The beep repeated.
"T - I heard he has a new holoprogram, wanna check it out for old time's sake? H." It was all Tom could do not to burst out laughing. He felt as though he was strung so tightly...
Kathryn emptied her coffee cup and stood. "You'll let me know what crewmember Sharr says, I assume."
"Of course," he said, standing as well.
"Good. Now let's get out there and start running those tactical drills. Unless you feel your time would be better spent in your office?"
He hesitated, then decided it would be prudent to remain on the bridge. Even if it meant having to look at Tom. "I'll stay here until lunch time." He swept his arm toward the door. She smiled and walked onto the bridge, with him right behind.
Studiously ignoring the blond pilot, he sat in his command chair. Opening the console between them, he saw a message from Tuvok and opened it. Shit. Tom hadn't made it. He was about to delete it when Kathryn leaned over and read.
"Twice in one week," she said. "Enter that in his personnel record, Commander."
He couldn't believe it. "Two minutes?" Glancing at Tom, he saw him stiffen. He'd heard.
"The amount of time is irrelevant. It's the frequency of occurance." Her voice was the model of calm reason. She turned to the helm. "Lieutenant Paris."
Damn it, Kathryn. Chakotay steeled himself to remain neutral. He watched Tom turn around. Their eyes met briefly. He tried to send an apology.
"Do you agree that being late for bridge duty twice in one week is unacceptable?"
Chakotay wondered if Kathryn could see the change in Tom's eyes, or if that was something only he and a few others would catch. "Yes, ma'am," he said with no apparent emotion. To the first officer, Tom looked and sounded furious.
"And you'll be more diligent in the future, won't you?"
She stood and approached him, handing him a PADD. "Very good, Tom. Here are the evasive patterns for the first five drills."
He turned back to the helm and began to enter the data, his shoulders tense, his jaw set firmly. Kathryn returned to her seat without meeting Chakotay's eyes, which, he thought, was probably a good thing. He was feeling close to furious himself and trying to decide what to do about it. She sat with the lithe grace she had, crossed her legs, relaxed her hands on the arms of her chairs and commanded Tuvok to begin the drills.
"Again, everyone," Kathryn ordered firmly.
Tom swore to himself and tried to relax his shoulders. He was dying to roll his head to relieve some of the tension in his neck but knew he'd only be ordered to stop. Trying to stay calm and not get angry was proving to be his biggest job this morning, not how to keep Voyager from getting blown out of the Delta Quadrant by Tuvok's design. And worse, he could feel Chakotay trying not to watch him. Harry's voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Alien vessel approaching. Shield strength at maximum....."
Yes! He'd shaved 2 more seconds off the final maneuver, dipping the ship sharply to the left, just missing the other vessel. His adrenaline was pumping, looking at the readouts.
"Mr. Paris!" Kathryn said sharply. "That was too close! I want 3 seconds, 3 seconds off that part."
He slapped his hands down on the helm, seeing red. Don't say anything Tom, don't turn around. He heard Chakotay snort in exasperation. He couldn't believe it, that the first officer would openly make such a sound, but he was grateful for it. He had no voice, but that man did. Taking a very very deep breath, he sent him thanks. Fine. Let's do it again, and I'll show you, Captain.
By the twenty-third time through only the second drill, Tom's eyes were beginning to blur. His lack of sleep was catching up with him, and each time he thought about that, memories of the night before would start replaying in his mind. He was getting too tired to fight them off. Voyager was nearing the point where another alien vessel appeared off starboard on a suicide mission. He had to make the ship hang just long enough to take out the third ship in the scenario then send her veering almost straight down to avoid the collision. The Captain was wanting him to hang Voyager another 2.7 seconds. Why, he had no idea. Just to give him a hard time, he suspected. He watched the countdown, and the viewports, his neck in knots, his mind beginning to wander...
The noise of the fake explosion brought him out of his reverie. The humor in the situation was too much for him. He had just been thinking about Chakotay inside of him. Laughter was beginning to seriously bubble up.
"Mr. Paris!" The Captain made no effort to disguise her anger. "We just blew up!"
"Oops," he heard himself saying. He was sure he'd only thought it.
Muffled laughter rippled throughout the bridge. He groaned, he knew he was in for it now. Setting his shoulders as best he could, he took the chance to turn around for the first time. One look at his commanding officer, standing there with her hands on her hips and fire in her eyes, made him sigh deeply. He did see, however, that the first officer was trying unsuccessfully to hide his own laughter behind a hand. Tom almost lost it again.
"Mis-ter Par-is. Do you have an explanation for your insubordination? Are you wanting me to put yet another notation in your permanent record?" Her voice was like cold, hard steel.
He watched with almost horror as Chakotay jumped up out of his seat from behind her, his eyes black, staring at the Captain with fury. He wasn't sure what to do. He opened his mouth, but Chakotay beat him to it.
"Captain," he said, moving quickly between her and Tom, "I would like to talk to you in the ready room. Now. If you would."
Tom heard the tone, fascinated on one hand, terrified on the other. Please, don't have a scene about everything - here, on the bridge. He watched the stand-off. Their eyes were boring holes right through their skulls. Chakotay didn't back down, not for a millisecond. He was amazed. They so rarely disagreed in public, not to this extent. The amazement continued. Captain Janeway turned on her heel and stalked to the ready room without saying a word. Chakotay met his eyes for a brief, charged moment before following her. The doors swooshed shut behind them.
Tom spun around and dropped his head into waiting hands, his elbows holding everything up. He let his heartbeat slow and the reality of the situation sink in. Shit and damnation. The tension on the bridge was palpable as people tried to busy themselves. Waiting.
"What the hell are you doing, talking to me like that?" Kathryn slammed her hand down on the desk, causing a stray PADD to jump.
Chakotay was still so angry he was having difficulty focusing. He breathed. He wanted to pace, but he sat across from her, as usual, trying to inject some normality into the situation. Knowing she was waiting for him to answer almost made him take more time. The god of grace must have tapped him on the shoulder, he thought, for he found himself relenting, looking at this woman he loved who was clearly out of control.
"I apologize for my tone of voice, Kathryn, but I felt, and still do feel that the situation was escalating too quickly. Something had to be done." His anger was somewhat abated, but not entirely gone.
"Oh - and you are the one to do that?" she said sarcastically. "You are hardly unbiased in this situation!"
"And you are? Spirits. Do you even see what you're doing out there?!"
"I am trying to avoid this ship getting blown to kingdom come! I have a responsibility...."
He interrupted her harshly. "Do not give me that responsibility line. What's been going on out there all morning has nothing to do this ship. Don't insult my intelligence, Kathryn."
"Nothing to do with the ship? I think you're little fun and games with Tom is affecting your judgement, Chakotay. His performance of his duties has been pathetic, to say the least. And you defending him tells me that you can't keep your personal business separate from your professional business." She glared at him.
He folded his arms and regarded her through his own haze of simmering anger. "You know, I may feel a more acute need to defend him at the moment, but I would do the same for any crew member who is being unfairly targeted - and perhaps if you discuss this situation with your logical friend Tuvok, he might be able to get you to see reason. It's clear to me that you're not going to take my word on this, even though this is part of my job. And at the risk of incurring your wrath again --- you are taking things that are personal between the three of us and projecting them on Tom professionally. That is patently unfair, and quite frankly, Kathryn, beneath you." He willed himself to take another deep breath.
Her eyes were still blazing, but she wasn't responding. He watched her processing and knew that, on some level, he'd made a dent. He also knew that she would never admit it outright. He took another risk.
"If you want my suggestion, and I know that you probably don't at the moment, I think you should dismiss people for a lunch break. Everyone has been working damned hard out there, they are exhausted, and shaving another second off one of these drills is not going to make a bit of difference, and you know it."
She met his eyes. The anger was still there, but he could actually see some blue returning. "It is lunchtime, I'll grant you that," she said between clenched teeth. Her voice lowered, the steel edge of it clearly heard. "But that is all I'll grant you. I need this crew to work at 150% of their potential. They know I expect that. I'm not going to lower my standards for one of them because he happens to be sharing your bed occasionally."
His anger returned and he tried his best to control it. "And if you think that Tom Paris has suddenly lost the ability to be one of the best pilots either of us has ever had the good fortune to have fly our ships -- then you should just take him off the helm. Be done with it!" He'd lost the battle to remain controlled.
"After this morning, that's exactly what he deserves!" She picked up the PADD as though to read it, then slammed it down hard on the desk.
Chakotay threw up his hands. "So fire him, get him out of your sight!" He stood up quickly, unable to sit any longer and leaned forward with his hands on the desk. His glare was returned in full force. He lowered his voice. "And then, Kathryn, send up a prayer to whatever spirits are watching over us, because we don't stand a chance in hell of ever getting home without him." His heart was pounding. He felt desperate and bone-tired at the same time. He could see that his words made another small dent in her armor. "Now. Shall I go out there and arrange for lunch breaks?"
She waved her hand toward the door. "Do it."
He stood erect, wanting nothing more at that moment than to be in his quarters with his eyes closed. All he felt he could do was nod, turn, and leave the ready room.
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