Notes: Many thanks to Helmboy for her beta reading, advice and abundant encouragement.
Memories (Part 1)
Tom smiled to himself and enjoyed the little anticipatory tickle of freedom.
Four days alone with Chakotay, down on an uncharted planet searching out the supplies on B'Elanna and Neelix's 'scavenger' lists. During that time, they would be virtually stranded while communications and transporters were taken
off-line for much needed maintenance. Everyone else was involved in some way in the repairs needed after a series of hit-and-run attacks by what could best be described as pirates.
The planet they now orbited appeared to be uninhabited, safely off the beaten path and according to the occupants of the last M-class they had passed; it should have much of what they needed.
Best of all, the Captain had caved in to Tom's lost-puppy look and OK'd the use of civvies due to the heat and humidity. So here he stood in faded jeans, tee-shirt and hiking boots, wondering what the next few days alone with the Big Guy would be like. Paradise or purgatory?
Chakotay blew through the doors and mounted the transporter pad. Tom recognized the form-fitting burgundy denim shirt and the chocolate brown pants and boots from their all-too-brief time together in the Maquis.
Adjusting his pack, the Commander fixed his dark gaze on Tom. "Any time, Paris."
*Purgatory, here we come*, thought his unfortunate companion as he joined Chakotay on the pad.
24 hours into their away mission and the Commander's mood was no better. What deuterium they had discovered was low grade, what little food stuffs they had found made leola root look positively delicious and the rest of the items on their list didn't exist at all.
Tom sat on a rock and considered the pros and cons of ritual suicide. *Now how to talk the Big Guy into it.* Chakotay had set up camp and seemed to be attempting to meditate. *Well, at least the muttering under his breath has stopped.*
*Shit.* Tom couldn't decide which was worse, the Commander "pre-Kathryn" and hating Tom, or this new version who seemed to spend a large part of his time pissed at everyone.
When Chakotay and the Captain had begun their discreet relationship, everyone had been pleased. Well, almost everyone. Tom's daydreams of being smothered in the warmth of the Maquis' arms now left a bitter aftertaste.
At least before, Tom had been able to pretend that Chakotay might one day wake up to the fact that "Paris" wasn't quite the arrogant little rich boy that he used to be. Now, the Big Guy was in love with the Captain and she had finally decided to take a chance on a relationship.
Hard to keep pretending when you had seen that warmth wrapped around someone else in a darkened observation lounge.
Equally hard to deal with was the uncertainty of whether all would be well on the bridge with laughter and the usual banter, or the new silence- the product of one of the couple's personal "discussions".
Warmth against his back, lips against his neck and a pleasant fullness in his nether regions signaled to Tom that his current wet dream had taken a turn towards reality.
"Commander, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
A large hand slid over Tom's left shoulder to pinch his nipple into hardness. *Gods.* Tom was tempted to forget the demand for an explanation as two fingers on Chakotay's other hand found his prostate.
"Can't you just go with it, Paris?" finally came from over his shoulder.
The sarcastic use of his last name brought Tom to his senses. Reluctantly pulling away from Chakotay, he adjusted his clothing and moved to the other side of the fire. The Commander sighed loudly and sat up.
"Do you think that it's fair to use me just because you're pissed at the Captain?"
"Drop it, Paris."
"No, I won't *drop* it. You've been pissed off ever since we left the ship. You haven't said more than twenty words to me in two days, and yet I seem to be more than adequate for 'working off a little frustration'. You make me feel like a whore," Tom finished in a rush.
Chakotay had no answer. Tom gave up and spent the remainder of the night alternately staring into the fire and watching the other man pretend to sleep.
Morning finally came and with it the silence of the day before. Chakotay had found a piece of what looked to be onyx and was carving an intricate swirl on one side.
Tom sighed. Ritual suicide was definitely the way to go, but perhaps he should take the trip *himself*.
"You were right last night."
Tom looked up in confusion. At the look on his face, the Commander elaborated.
"I guess I was using you. Kathryn decided that we should break everything off about five minutes before I had to leave on this mission. No discussion, just another 'command decision'.
"That doesn't explain trying to.......you know."
"That's because I can't explain it. I went to sleep going over the whole conversation with Kathryn. I woke up and I had rolled over behind you. All of a sudden, I was wondering if your hair was as soft as it looked and what you tasted like and how you would feel pressed up against my chest." A small grin. "I guess that I just decided to find out."
Tom was speechless. Whatever he had expected from Chakotay, it certainly wasn't this. Without comment, he rose and walked towards a grove of trees a short distance away.
An hour later and Tom still had no reply. He knew that Chakotay was watching him. And somehow a cup of coffee and a meal had appeared next to him as he stared up blindly through the trees.
A warmth at his side.
"You need to eat."
Tom nodded but made no move towards the food. A rustling of leaves, and Chakotay settled onto the ground next to him.
"I really am sorry, Tom."
*Tom. This was different. Lieutenant, yes. Paris, yes. *Mr.* Paris, yes. But Tom??*
"I'm not a whore to be used, Chakotay."
"I know what kind of reputation I have on the ship. The prison party toy who'd sleep with anyone. The traitor that would do
anything to get ahead. It's not true. I kept my back to the wall in prison and joined the first block gang that would take
me. It meant a lot of solitary for fighting, but it definitely beat getting slammed in the ass."
"No, let me finish. I know how I acted when you first came on board Voyager. I realize that you felt you had a lot of
reasons to hate me. In your eyes, I sold you out. But the truth is, I never thought they had a rat's chance in finding you.
Once we got out there, I gave them some information about one of the less usable routes through the badlands and that was it. I knew I was pissing the Captain off, but I told her back at Auckland that after a year everything was pretty confused. You have to believe that there was no way that I would have helped to send you and your whole crew into the hell I was trying so damned hard to get out of."
"You could have gotten parole."
"No way. My esteemed daddy let me know that I was in for the duration. Hell, it was his fault that I was in Auckland in the first place. I was all set for eighteen months at Livermore, but the 'Admiral' said that I needed to learn to take accountability for my actions and to throw the book at me."
Chakotay walked away in a daze. He knew from comments both in the Maquis and later on Voyager, that Tom's relationship with his father was at best strained. But to volunteer his only son for eight years in maximum security spoke of a deep-seated cruelty.
The rest of the day was quiet. Chakotay carved on his stone and wondered just what Tom's childhood was actually like.
Tom stayed amongst his trees, trying to remember just when his world had gone so bad.
Fortunately for both, the Voyager crew finished their repairs early.
Tom returned to his routine. Flying Voyager during the day, playing pool with Harry and occasionally flirting with Megan and Jenny at Sandrine's. But now, he had the real memory of a brief pleasurable time in Chakotay's arms to add to his nightly dreams.
As for Chakotay, he convinced Kathryn to give it another try. More days of alternating between laughter and silence. Each too stubborn to admit failure. Chakotay spent more and more nights alone. But instead of dreaming of Kathryn, he spent them remembering that soft red-gold hair that went all the way down. The smooth silky skin covering masculine strength and the small quiet moan of pleasure pulled from the sleeping man that he had held.
"Okay, who is she?"
Tom blinked and then blushed at B'Elanna's obvious frustration. His glib answer was forgotten at Torres', "Don't try to tell me that a woman isn't involved. You weren't even in this quadrant when I asked that question."
Tom shrugged. Technically there was a woman involved. Chakotay *was* still with the Captain.
Seeing that no answer was forthcoming, Harry decided to try another direction. He had seen Tom's side-long glances at the Commander while they were all playing pool in Sandrine's. And if Chakotay was the object of Paris' thoughts, all hell could break loose should it become public.
Harry spoke. "We're coming up on another M-class. Maybe this one will have some of the things we need." *Oh yeah, a definite flinch on that one. What happened on that planet?*
Curiosity forgotten, B'Elanna Torres launched into her favorite topic, the state of Voyager. The woman lived, breathed, and ate engineering. Most of the time Harry was just as bad, but this funk that Tom seemed to be in had lasted for over a month. Megan Delaney was telling everyone that Tom Paris was obviously ill--no jokes, no passes, no bets. Obviously ill. Harry tended to agree, except that in his opinion it was a disease of the spirit, not the body. And he intended to get Tom to open up.
In retrospect, Harry had to admit that he hadn't used the best tactics to get Tom to confide in him. Still, ending up wearing his lunch and flat on his back on the floor from Tom's headlong flight out of the room was a bit extreme.
Actually, it wasn't even Tom's fault. Harry had waited until B'Elanna went to get another cup of coffee, and then he pounced. "Tom, what's going on with you and Chakotay?" Paris had gone white, jumped to his feet and fled the room. It was Harry's determination to stop him that had led to his overbalancing in his chair and falling backwards onto the carpeting carrying his lunch tray.
Now, sitting in the Captain's ready-room listening as she questioned why two of her senior staff were seen fighting in the mess hall, Harry began to wonder if perhaps he shouldn't have waited and invited Tom to dinner in his quarters and questioned him there.
Kathryn Janeway was a frustrated woman. During a long night of deliberation, she had realized that she wanted out of her relationship with Chakotay. It had started well, both passionate and cerebral. But, in the long run, she was first and foremost the Captain of the Voyager and that had to come first.
Chakotay had understood in the beginning. But where she was cerebral with an underlying passion, the big Maquis allowed his feelings to taint his thought processes. At least, that's what she had tried to explain to Chakotay last night. At the word, taint, he had turned beet red and gotten out of bed. A couple of moments later, she was alone. Now, she was sitting
here waiting for an explanation as to why her senior Ops officer and helmsman were fighting in the mess. A headache didn't start to describe what she was feeling.
Harry finally spoke up. "Captain, we weren't fighting. I made a joke that Tom took the wrong way and when he jumped up to leave, I fell out of my chair trying to stop him. He didn't touch me." *Did she buy that? It was at least eighty percent truthful.*
*Shit. I don't need this now.* A sigh. "Mr. Paris, is that what happened?" *There, that was fairly civil.*
"Yes, Captain. I wasn't in the mood for Mr. Kim's rather dubious sense of humor and left the mess hall."
*Not now!!!!!!!!!!* "Enter."
The temperature in the room seemed to go up about ten degrees with Chakotay's entrance. The Captain turned red, Tom turned white, Chakotay did his best to do both, and Harry fought desperately to keep from laughing.
"Gentlemen, you're dismissed. Mr. Kim, work on your jokes. Mr. Paris, I didn't think I'd ever say this, but lighten up a little. You've got everyone wondering if you're going around the bend." A slight inclination of the head. "Yes, Commander?"
Tom almost ran out onto the bridge. Harry took it more slowly, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. The Captain wondering at the role-reversal, turned her attention to her second-in-command. He looked like his head hurt worse than hers. And what was
that look on his face when he saw Tom Paris?
The rest of the day had been only slightly easier to deal with. Commander Chakotay retired to his office to work on the monthly reports, leaving Tom , Harry and the Captain to be watched with much eyebrow raising by the resident Vulcan.
Now, in the next morning's briefing, B'Elanna was doing her level best to explain why the initial reconn team for this new planet should consist solely of herself, Tom Paris and Harry Kim. So far, it was a no-go.
It was obvious to all that B'Elanna had something on her mind besides deuterium.
The Captain and the Commander mistakenly assumed that she had finally decided that she *was* interested in Tom after all, and Harry was going along as a quasi-chaperon. Tuvok had decided that perhaps Lt. Torres and Ens. Kim were *both* interested in Lt. Paris and were planning to use the change in territory to discuss the possibility with the helmsman. Harry *knew* that B'Elanna planned to grill Tom until he broke regarding what was currently going on and felt sorry for him.
Tom wasn't sure what to think. He knew that B'Elanna had told him a few months ago, in no uncertain terms, that she wasn't interested. Maybe she and Harry were getting together and wanted to break it to him away from everyone else. They certainly seemed chummy at breakfast this morning and had stopped talking when he walked up. But no, Harry was absolutely transparent in his admiration for their newest crew member, Seven-of-Nine.
It turned out that no one had to worry what her plans had been. The Captain chose Neelix, Tom and Chakotay. B'Elanna had thrown a fit, saying that she *had* to be included due to the engineering materials needed. The Captain said that she was needed on the ship to evaluate the results and coordinate any resulting mining. Chakotay offered to stay and was turned down. Tom offered to remain and was turned down. Neelix just want to get off of the blasted ship for a while and didn't care who went along.
The Captain's choices stood.
All-in-all, it was a successful mission. No annoying inhabitants from which to seek permission. Perfect tropical weather and
scenery to rival Risa. No one killed or mutated. Deuterium in abundance. So much so, that they could now have traveled for the next three years at warp nine with no problem. Neelix was in heaven. Fruits, vegetables and grains grew everywhere and a large detail of crewmen were assigned for harvesting. Chakotay took one team, Tom took the other. Two days later with storage full to bursting, shore leave was announced for all.
Tom had finally managed to elude B'Elanna by leaving the main beach party. He headed towards the woody foothills a couple of kilometers inland. A brief walk through the trees brought him to a pool with a small waterfall. It reminded Tom of a place he had once found while vacationing on Earth. Stripping, he pushed off from the edge of the pool and floated in the cool water.
Chakotay was speechless. He had found the same pool a while earlier and was quietly attempting to seek his animal guide. It had been too long since he had talked to her. A small splash broke his concentration. Frowning, he opened his eyes to see Tom lay back into the pool approximately five meters to his left. Spirits! Hair shining like gold and skin like cream pulled him from his niche, removing his clothes as he went.
Tom felt a movement in the water and opened his eyes to find Chakotay standing chest deep in the water next to him. Silently, Chakotay pulled Tom into his arms and they kissed while moving towards the far shore. Tom caught the Commander's hands and led him to a sunlit patch of grass. Chakotay knelt and pulled Tom down onto his chest as he
Their kisses began to heat up and Tom moaned as Chakotay ran his hands down Tom's flanks to clasp possessively at his hips. "So beautiful," the larger man whispered as he began to move down the other's body.
At the first touch of that hot, wet mouth, Tom wailed. He felt Chakotay smile and the suction increased. It had been far too long between relationships for Tom to last very long. Chakotay quickly pulled back and Tom came into his lover's waiting hands; it was then spread over Chakotay's sex and trailed down Tom's cleft. As he began to prepare Tom, the Commander
crooned softly, "Only you. Only you."
Tom felt his chest tighten at the older man's gentle touch and obvious caring. Chakotay pulled Tom's hips up onto his thighs and slowly pressed into the hot channel waiting before him. Tom wrapped his legs around the Commander's waist to pull him closer.
Chakotay laughed at Tom's gasp of surprise as he lifted him bodily from the grass. The younger man wrapped himself tightly around the Commander and then fell sideways, rolling to end up astride the larger man and somehow still connected. Chakotay grabbed his lover's hips in a grasp that would leave marks and began to arch up into the Tom's body. Their rhythm changed, sped up, as the first shudders ran through their bodies. Tom cried out and clenched around Chakotay, his seed covering both their bellies. Chakotay rolled them onto their sides and continued to thrust, finally crying, "Love you, love you, love you..." as he came in Tom's body. Holding the older man's head against his shoulder, Tom relaxed into sleep.
Tom woke a short time later to find Chakotay sitting next to him and staring off into the distance.
"I don't know what to tell Kathryn."
*Oh, shit.* Tom eased up into a seated position and placed a careful hand on Chakotay's shoulder. Relieved that the other man didn't pull away, he spoke. "Just what is the situation with you and the Captain? I know you wouldn't do anything like this if there wasn't something very wrong."
"We ended it a few days ago, but I really don't know how she'd take it if I showed up so soon in Sandrine's with you on my arm. But I have to tell her as soon as I return to the ship. It's only fair that she's the first to know."
Tom warmed at the thought of Chakotay wanting to go anywhere with him 'on his arm', and then grew cold at the thought of the crew's reaction.
"Chakotay, we can't tell anyone right now. A lot of the crew still think that I'm shit and if they think that I broke the two of you up, it'll make the problems when we first got out here seem small!"
The Commander turned and pulled Tom into his arms and ran a slow, comforting hand up and down the younger man's back. Tom turned slightly and then relaxed back against his lover's chest. The two watched the sun slowly move towards the hills above them and then bathed and began to dress. With one last kiss, Tom watched Chakotay fade as he beamed back to
the ship. Tom began his walk back to the beach. And Megan Delaney stood watching in thoughtful silence for a long time.
"I couldn't hear what they were talking about, but I'm telling you what I *saw *, and it was the Commander and Tom Paris 'doin' the nasty' down on that planet."
Dalby and Chell said nothing, but you could see the wheels turning as they thought over this piece of news. Megan waited impatiently for a comment and seeing none forthcoming, decided to give her own theory. "Those two have always fought like two cats. Apparently, they turned out to be cats 'in heat'."
Chell smiled. Glancing at Ken Dalby, he was a little worried at the venomous look on his face. "You know that everyone has been talking about the fact that the Captain and Chakotay haven't been seen together in the resort for a couple of weeks.
That started before shore leave."
Megan smiled nastily. "But not before Tom and the Commander's away mission."
"Neelix was with them the whole time."
"No. The away mission about a month ago. They spent several days alone that time. And I know *personally* that Tom has been really quiet since that trip."
Chell began to wonder just what sort of stake Megan Delaney had in this whole affair, but still, good gossip was good gossip.
"Shit, Tom. What have you done now?" whispered Harry at the sudden silence as the two entered the mess hall. Conversation quickly resumed, but it was obvious that it was all about Tom and/or Harry from the covert glances in their direction.
"Harry, I've been so good lately that even Tuvok has commented on it. Just ignore'em. Come on, I don't see anyone lying on the floor groaning. Maybe lunch is better than usual."
*I definitely should have been paying more attention to the signs at lunch.* Tom's stomach seemed to be making a serious attempt to leave his abdominal cavity as he hugged the toilet. He had entered his darkened quarters to be met with a rain of fists and boots. Now he was paying the price for not being more vigilant. He leaned back against the shower divider and thought hazily about comming the Holodoc. *Blood really clashes with that hot pink pasta that Neelix served at lunch,*
was his last thought before slowly sliding into unconsciousness.
Harry, Tuvok, Chakotay and the Captain stood to one side as the doctor worked efficiently over Tom.
"I can't tell you anything more, Captain. I noticed yesterday at lunch that everyone seemed to be talking about Tom, but he didn't seem worried. After our bridge shift, we had dinner and then played some pool. Tom seemed a little distracted, but said that he was just tired." Harry paused. "I should have gone with him to his quarters....."
"Most likely, both of you would be lying there, instead of just Mr. Paris," Tuvok pointed out.
The Captain smiled and gently clasped Harry's shoulder. "He's right. Why don't you go ahead and go to the bridge. I'll contact you as soon as we know anything."
"Actually, Captain, it will be quite some time until I can tell you anything. I have most of the intercranial bleeding under control and will be starting on his chest and abdomen now. Unless one of you has recently gotten your doctorate in internal medicine, you're of no help standing here."
The doctor began draping Tom for further surgery. *Gods, he looks horrible,* thought Kathryn as she took in the multitude of bruises and contusions on his face, abdomen and chest. The injury list read more like the index for a surgical text. Fractured skull and ribs, internal hemorrhaging in the brain, left kidney, liver and both lungs. How he had managed to last until Harry had found him lying in his quarters, curled around the toilet, was a miracle.
As if reading her mind, the doctor spoke. "I'm firmly convinced that Mr. Paris isn't human. How he has managed to come back from things such as this, time after time. As soon as I finish here, I'll do the cosmetic clean-up." More gently, "It will be several hours before I'm through."
"How long before he can be questioned?"
"That remains to be seen, Mr. Tuvok. Brain injuries are curious things. Partial or even full temporary amnesia is quite common. Sometimes a patient never recovers the memories surrounding the injury." A series of hyposprays punctuated his
Chakotay spoke quietly. "Doctor, you said that he managed to come back from things such as this "time after time". This is by far the worst I have ever seen him." Kathryn cast a worried glance at him. He was much too quiet for someone whose lover was lying in that condition.
Not slowing his movements, the doctor appeared to be considering his next statement. "I would be at risk of doctor/patient privilege if I were to say much more; but let's just say that another person with skeletal and tissue scans similar to the
Lieutenant's would possibly have been physically abused from the age of approximately two until late adolescence."
Chakotay and Kathryn had cornered Tuvok and informed him of the Commander and the younger man's relationship. The Vulcan's expression as he quickly glanced from the Captain to Chakotay would have been comical in another situation.
He recovered almost immediately. "You believe that the lieutenant's attack may have stemmed from one of the crew holding him accountable for the ending of your relationship." This was said more to the Captain than Chakotay.
"It's not impossible. I would have said that Chakotay and Tom's relationship was unknown to anyone but the three of us, but that might be incorrect. Harry did say that there was a lot of interest yesterday in the mess." A pause. "But he also said that Tom didn't seem worried."
Chakotay spoke up. "We've been very discreet, more out of consideration for you than anything else. I don't think that Tom even told Harry. He was almost paranoid about the reactions of the crew when we discussed going public."
Tuvok raised one agile eyebrow. "It looks as though Mr. Paris had excellent reason to be worried."
A briefing that evening brought little news. Preliminary DNA scans showed no one but Tom, Chakotay and Harry had been in Paris' quarters. Questioning of those quartered nearby determined that there had been no sounds of argument. The only real news was that Tom's vital signs had improved and he was beginning to respond to outside stimuli. The doctor said that barring problems, he should emerge from the coma by mid-evening.
The whole meeting had an almost funereal quality. No one sat in Tom's usual chair, and it's emptiness matched the feeling in Chakotay's chest. Immediately following dismissal they had all followed Chakotay straight to sickbay; the Commander no longer caring who knew about them.
Tom just looked like he was sleeping. A single small monitor blinked silently on the young man's forehead. There was nothing left to do but wait for him to wake up. The doctor moved to stand by the Captain and they all watched as the big man very gently slid the too-still body into his arms and carried it into the doctor's office. Carefully sitting down on the couch, Chakotay cradled Tom against his chest. The doctor spread a blanket over the two and reduced the lights. There were still times when medicine couldn't match a simple human touch.
Chakotay awoke to the feeling of a cool hand cupping his cheek. Opening his eyes, he looked down into a pair of weary but beautiful blue ones.
Tom didn't speak, but continued to touch him with a look of curiosity. The Commander initiated the holodoc and the two of them got the young man back to the biobed. A thorough exam showed everything well on it's way towards healing, but no reason for Tom's continued silence.
The rest of the senior staff arrived within minutes of being notified of Tom's awakening and watched as various attempts were made to induce the lieutenant to speak.
"There is nothing medically wrong with Mr. Paris. Amnesia tends to be temporary, but it is rarely this extensive. I should keep him here in sickbay to assess his level of understanding and development."
Chakotay and Tom returned from the bathroom. "Well, the good news is that he's apparently potty trained," Chakotay said wryly.
Once it had become apparent that there was nothing wrong with Tom's hearing, they had begun to worry at his obviously shortened attention span. He resembled a big, beautiful, silent toddler. He walked. He sat when directed. And according to the Commander, he knew what a toilet was for.
That appeared to be it. There was no recognition of those present or that he comprehended language; no spark of understanding when shown implements that should have been familiar.
But oh, the curiosity! Once he was fully awake, he started to take in his surroundings. At first, taking medical instruments out of his hands did no good. He simply picked them back up. However, it was soon discovered that he obeyed Chakotay's gestures and tone of voice more readily than anyone else's.
Their charge was finally ensconced on a biobed as far from the door and any equipment as possible. Leaving B'Elanna and Harry to try and keep him occupied, Janeway, Tuvok and Chakotay had a quick conference with the doctor.
"Captain, it's obvious that Mr. Paris will have to
have 24 hour supervision and I've decided that *my* sickbay is not the safest place for the job," the doctor huffed as he reattached the power source to a slightly battered tricorder. Tom just smiled beatifically and tried to remove the control panel from his bed. B'Elanna slapped at his hands impatiently and then looked mortified at the tears that suddenly appeared in the blue eyes before her. When his lower lip began to quiver, Torres panicked.
The big man clucked and soothed much as if Tom really was just a toddler, and soon the young man was smiling again. Chakotay sighed. "I think I've been drafted for baby-sitting duty."
B'Elanna smirked. "Think of the fringe benefits."
The Commander looked shocked. "Are you kidding?! That would be too much like pedophelia in his present condition." He groaned as Tom sat down on the floor and leaned against his legs.
Kathryn was highly amused. "Don't worry. We'll all take turns spelling you, but you're right. I think you have been adopted as primary caregiver."
"I wonder how Tom would have ended up if he had been raised in a stable environment," Harry mused as he walked down the corridor with the Captain a week later.
"I mean just watching him; he's bright, affectionate, and has enough curiosity for three people. Even before the attack, when B'Elanna and I would talk about engineering, he would come out with some really great ideas. I once asked him why he hadn't picked that as a secondary specialty at the academy and he just said that he had never had the option."
Kathryn nodded. "I first met Tom when he was about eight years old. He was already flying rings around most of the cadets and had such a thirst for any kind of information regarding starship mechanics and flight. But he was so moody. He would be up and laughing one moment and in the next almost catatonic in his shyness. With what the doctor told us after his attack, I have been going over all of my interactions with Tom as a child and teen. The signs were there, but no one would have believed that something like child abuse would occur in the Paris household."
"I wonder if he will regain all of his memory. It would be kind of nice if some of the crappier memories never came back." Harry sighed and stopped in front of Chakotay's quarters. Music could be heard from inside.
Kathryn smiled, a bit sadly. "Even if he does regain all of his memories, I think that this whole experience may change him a bit."
The door opened and Harry and Kathryn entered to find B'Elanna seated on the couch. "You've missed quite a show," she said gleefully. "Chakotay has had the devil's own time trying to convince Tom that there is more than one word in the Standard language."
Just then a resounding "No!" came echoing from the bedroom. Chakotay walked wearily into the living room as he finished fastening his shirt.
"I am having a slight problem convincing a certain young lieutenant that clothing is not optional." Tom came around the corner; barefoot and with the top buttons of his jeans undone. His shirt dangled from his wrists; the only thing that kept it on was the fact that the cuffs were buttoned.
"You're losing ground there, Poocuh. Like this." The big man patiently pulled the shirt back onto the younger man's shoulders and began to fasten the buttons. Tom sighed as if he were dealing with an idiot and grabbed Chakotay's hands.
Harry took pity on the older man and led Tom back into the bedroom to finish the job. B'Elanna looked bemused. "I kind of liked his outfit the way he had it."
Chakotay's eyes narrowed and Kathryn held back a laugh at the obvious jealousy. "I think not. We don't want to start a riot in the mess hall."
At that moment, Harry and Tom re-entered. Dressed, even down to a pair of old moccasins; Tom acted as if he had broken Warp 10 again. "Good!"
The Captain laughed and then took his arm. "Yes, Tom. Very good."
Lunch was fairly uneventful. Tom had turned out to be a very careful eater. He closely watched the others and attempted to mimic their actions.
He also seemed oblivious to the attention he was drawing. He just smiled at everyone and seemed very pleased when Megan Delaney gave him a kiss that would have melted his fillings had there been any. Chakotay growled something about over-stimulating someone just out of sickbay, but he didn't fool anyone.
Conversation had turned to the upcoming EPS maintenance when a quiet voice cut through their words. "Cha?" Tom was holding a piece of fruit towards the Commander and smiling diffidently.
At their surprise, Chakotay smiled. "He just started calling me that this morning. We've been working on a few things." The Commander split the fruit, handing half to Tom and then pointed across the table, quizzing Tom as to their names.
A deep breath and, "Cap-tin Kathhhhhrynn."
The last met with applause from around the mess hall and Tom blushed sweetly and ducked his head against Chakotay's shoulder. The others present seemed to relax somewhat and several made their way over to the table to introduce themselves to 'Taahmm' as he proudly proclaimed himself.
Making their way to the turbolift took some time because Tom found *everything* fascinating. Obviously, he and Chakotay had been working because Neelix was met with a smile, a hug and a 'Hi there!'. Jenny Delaney's hair was 'red!' and Crewman Ayala was 'big!'
While the others laughed themselves silly the restof the way to the bridge, Tom and Chakotay settled down for a nap. It wasn't that Tom needed one but Chakotay was definitely beginning to feel the strain of sleeping with one eye open to make sure his charge stayed in bed. Twice he had taken a hike. The first time he showed up at Harry's door at 0300; the second found him replicating 'syooop'.
It was also somewhat distracting that Tom was a snuggler; preferring to sleep tucked into Chakotay's right side with arm and leg slung over the Commander's body. He felt way too good for this to go on too long without a problem arising.
And arise it did. That afternoon, Chakotay was awakened by a gentle poke and a muffled giggle. Looking down, he was horrified to find Tom gently stroking his cock which was tenting out his boxers.
"Cha! Big!" *Oh, spirits....*
"Baby, don't do that. That's....." *That's what? I'm trying to explain that you shouldn't play with someone else's equipment to a two year old!*
Chakotay issued a privacy lock, removable only by himself. Gently extricating himself from Tom's grasp, he beat a hasty retreat to the bathroom to take care of 'business'.
Stripping and stepping into the shower, the big man leaned back against the wall and allowed the warm water to run down his chest. He began a slow rhythmic squeezing and pulling on his cock with one hand and massaged his balls with the other. It had been way too long since he and Tom had made love and he came quickly and profusely.
Smiling, Chakotay slowly opened his eyes and almost had a stroke. Tom stood less than a footaway. His eyes were as round as saucers and he had an erection that rivaled the one Chakotay had just relieved.
"Cha???" *Oh, fuck...*
Chakotay searched the ceiling for an answer and when there was none forthcoming, he simply shrugged and pulled Tom into the stall. Carefully guiding Tom in his endeavors, Chakotay saw that he was well on the way and removed himself from the shower.
Drying off and praying to the spirits for forgiveness for leading to the delinquency of a 'minor', Chakotay waited for the telltale sounds that Tom was through.
Chakotay helped him finish showering and then handed him a towel. Tom was quiet, but smiling. The Commander hoped that he hadn't just created a monster.
To the older man's immense relief, Tom seemed to realize that you didn't play 'Touch, Cha! Touch!' except in the privacy of your own shower. Chakotay still couldn't bring himself to make love to Tom. There was still something so childlike about the young man that it didn't seem right. They had graduated to giving each other gentle kisses and Tom *loved* cuddling on the couch while Chakotay taught him to read.
Tuvok was still no closer to finding out who had attacked Tom, but rumors pointed to the obvious-- Crewman Dalby. When questioned about his whereabouts that night, Dalby insisted that he had been in his quarters. The security logs showed that his commbadge had been there, and without any evidence to prove otherwise, Tuvok had to place the report on hold until Tom regained his memory of the night.
*If Tom regained his memory of that night,* the Captain told herself. Tom was now reading and creating simple sentences, but it was as if his life had begun the moment he came out of the coma.
"At the rate that Lt. Paris is progressing, we should be able to certify him for duty in twelve to eighteen months."
Following the doctor's pronouncement, there was a collective gasp. They had run into trouble again and had survived only through sheer luck and an incredible shot with a photon torpedo by Tuvok. They desperately needed Tom back at the helm.
"Doctor, isn't there any kind of therapy that can be done to help? Hypnosis?"
"Captain, I don't think Mr. Paris is anywhere near advanced enough to understand hypnosis or to be able to keep quiet enough to lapse into an hypnotic state." The last was said with a rather fond smile.
One thing that this had brought about was a change in most people's attitude towards Tom Paris. People were beginning to see what was inside the young man and had begun to accept his relationship with the Commander.
*Such as it is,* Kathryn mused. It was obvious that as Tom was 'maturing' and so was his relationship with Chakotay. It wasn't unusual to enter their quarters to find them cozily reading. Tom's interests ranged from the colonization of the New France colonies to Winnie the Pooh. Kathryn laughed out loud, drawing some strange glances from the others seated at the table. *Oh, hell, let'em wonder.*
Chakotay was exhausted. It had taken much to calm Tom after the attack earlier that day.
Harry had just arrived to take over when the aliens hit. Both the Ensign and the Commander were required on the bridge and there was simply no time to deliver Tom to the safety of the sickbay. Once the trio arrived on the bridge, the Captain had ordered Chakotay to place Tom in her ready room.
With directions to sit quietly, Chakotay had hurried back out to his position to do what he could to help save Voyager. Forty-five minutes later everything was quiet. Peering towards the conn through the smoke from an exploded console, the Commander suddenly remembered the young man waiting in the next room.
Kathryn and Chakotay hurried through the doors into the darkened room. There was no sight of Tom, only the immense ports through which the wreckage of the alien ship could be seen floating off to starboard. The big man's heart sank as he heard a quiet sob from the far corner.
In their haste, they had placed Tom alone in a room that had a bird's eye view of the battle. Kathryn reached the huddled figure first and pulled him up to hold his head against her chest. Her eyes were wet with tears as she looked at Chakotay. The doctor had been called and Tom was sedated before being transported back to quarters. Sam Wildman stayed with him until Chakotay was free to leave the bridge.
"He hasn't moved." Tom was curled in the center of the bed with Samantha's daughter asleep against his back. "I didn't really have a problem with her, "gesturing towards her half leeping duo. "Actually it's a little sad when you think about it. My daughter has grown up so used to violence that the explosions and alarms don't phase her."
B'Elanna looked at Harry and sighed. Tom had practically sat in Chakotay's lap the entire meal and had jumped at every sound. The Captain wanted to hold some attack drills but everyone dreaded the effect they might have on Tom. *Although, Chakotay doesn't look too sad at having Tom wrapped around him that tightly.*
Chakotay sat running warp equations through his mind to try and forget the warmth pressed up against his side. Risking a glance at the younger man, he nearly groaned out loud when Tom whispered, "Touch, Cha?"
*Blessed spirits!* "Well, Tom and I are heading back to bed, uhm, I mean to our quarters, my quarters......"
The big man grabbed his lover by the wrist and quickly left the mess. The others politely waited until the doors had closed before erupting into guffaws.
"This is getting harder and harder on the Commander," Harry said with a grin.
"Something's getting harder and harder on him...."
"B'Elanna!!" said Harry and Kathryn in unison.
Chakotay ran his soapy hands over his chest and sighed. His erection was as hot and hard as newly forged durasteel. Tom next to that pool during their last shore leave. Yesssss. Pulling his favorite memory out to play, Chakotay prepared to bring himself off. Closing his eyes, he began to stroke.
Tom quietly opened the door to the bathroom and removed his clothing. His "Cha" was playing 'Touch' and he wanted to play too. So intent was he upon his pleasure, the Commander didn't even notice as the slighter man slid into the shower stall in front of him. That changed quickly when Tom gently pulled his hands away and pressed him tightly to the wall.
Their kiss grew and Tom learned for the first time just how much fun having two tongues instead of one could be. Chakotay lathered Tom's back and then lowered his hands to the beautiful tight ass just below.
Tom groaned into Chakotay's mouth and began to slowly rub against the big man's chest and groin like a large cat. *I swear he's purring,* thought the Commander as a warm tongue licked him just below the left ear.
Their movements sped up and Tom clutched Chakotay tightly. He grunted softly and then erupted with a yell. "Good, Cha! Good!" The hot wetness against his stomach brought Chakotay into orgasm. Tom was exactly right. It *was* good.
*I hate crew evals. I *hate* crew evals. I HATE CREW EVALS!* thought Chakotay as he labored through his share of the yearly reports. Why did Kathryn stick him with Seven? Granted the Borg (ex-Borg), he thought tiredly, had improved. But she had taken things into her own hands a couple of times and the consequences had been chaotic.
Probably the same reason that she was writing up Tom's evaluation. Show no favoritism. Yeah, right. She was just as motherly towards Tom as she was Seven. Always had been.
Chakotay had originally thought that she was out of her mind when she kept insisting that he was command material; he just needed some tempering. But as usual, she was right. He really had come a long way.
And gone all the way back. Chakotay had a rare moment of fear that he would never again see the Tom that he had fallen in love with. This one was gentle, sweet, smart........but the spark was gone. The smart aleck, the tease.....gods! Everything he used to ride Tom for was what he missed the most.
Even with his improvements in the last five weeks, he was still far from ready to be on his own for any real length of time.
1900 hours. Shoving the padds into the top drawer of his desk, Chakotay stood and stretched. Enough is enough. Harry was with Tom tonight and he was two hours overdue to relieve him.
Chakotay opened the door to find Harry asleep on the couch and Tom nowhere in sight. Loathe to wake the young man, he first checked the bathroom and bedroom for his lover.
"Harry, where's Tom?"
"He's right....." Harry quickly sat up and looked wildly around the room. "He was sitting right there watching a vid! You checked the other room?"
"Computer, location of Lt. Paris."
"Lt. Paris is on Deck 3, Corridor 5."
Chakotay tried comming Tom from the turbolift, but there was no answer. "He knows how to acknowledge; something's wrong."
The answer was lying on the floor just a few meters from the lift. A small silver and gold badge.
Tom looked around the room in interest. He hadn't noticed when the other man removed his badge and quietly dropped it in the corridor behind them. He was too busy listening as the man explained that Chakotay had asked him to watch Tom for a while.
This certainly wasn't what Tom expected. Harry had fallen asleep, the vid finished and he was bored. A walk! He would find Cha! Tom found the turbolift easy enough but before he could give the command, 'bridge', the other man had slipped through the doors........
Now they were sitting in his semi-dark quarters drinking some....juice the man had called it, but it didn't taste like any juice that he remembered........
Tired. So tired. But he had a nap that day just like Cha told him to. Maybe the other man would let him rest for a while.
"We've checked everything on this deck. Tuvok has set up three teams to take decks eight through fifteen. I thought we would split up one through seven." B'Elanna paused.
The two men before her were trying to hide their worry, but it was evident in their every move. "We'll find him, Chakotay. With the shipwide message, everybody knows."
Ayala and Chell sat brooding over their synthales. "You don't really think that Dalby would try something, do you?"
Chell frowned. "He was pretty damn drunk."
"I think I'll take a walk."
Tom didn't like this touching game at all. The other man didn't feel or smell anything like Cha, and he was touching places that his Cha never touched. *Oh, it hurt!* "No...nonononononononono.........."
As Tom's voice grew louder, Dalby panicked. He didn't mind his sex rough. In fact, that was just what he wanted to give this smart ass prick, a real rough ride. But if the noise kept up, someone was gonna hear the little shit.
Tom began to buck against the weight on his back, trying to drive the other man away. A sharp pain in his shoulder and blood running told him that the other man had bitten him. Dalby pressed Tom's face into the blanket and continued his preparations. A roar behind him accompanied two large hands that ripped him from the bed and threw him across the room.
"Baby?" A soft sob and Tom literally climbed into his lover's lap. "Oh, Poocuh, it'll be okay. I've got you." Chakotay rocked Tom gently and called for an emergency medical beam out.
"Thank god Ayala got suspicious when Dalby didn't join them at Sandrine's." The Captain looked from Harry to Chakotay, but neither man would meet her eyes.
"Harry, this is not your fault-"
"Yes, it is! He was my responsibility and I just let him walk out the door!" Harry was openly crying now.
Chakotay placed his arm around the young man's shoulders. "Harry, if we're going to assign blame, then it's my fault for being late."
The doctor crossed to where they were standing. "There was some minor tearing and bleeding. I repaired that and the bite to his shoulder. It doesn't look as if penetration actually occurred." A brief pause.
Just for the record, Mr. Paris was drugged with a mild sedative. It appears to have been ingested with juice." He looked at the figure lying quietly on the biobed. "Under the circumstances, Commander, I think that it would be best if he spent the night in more familiar surroundings."
"That's no problem. I don't plan to let him out of my sight for quite a while-" Harry whirled and ran towards the bathroom. The sounds of vomiting could soon be heard. Kathryn sighed.
"I think that we have more than one victim of this attack."
The doctor and the Captain watched as Chakotay crossed to the biobed and kissed Tom softly. The doctor cleared his throat. "Speaking of the attack, Captain, what will happen to Crewman Dalby?"
"I imagine it will be much the same as Lon Suder. There will be a court martial and if (*when*, she thought), he is convicted, we will determine length of sentence. That time would be spent locked down in his quarters. I know I've said it a hundred times, but I wish we had a counselor." Kathryn looked over at the big man gently helping his lover from the biobed, "I can't ask Chakotay to counsel the man. I just can't."
They were saved the trouble. Two hours before the court martial was due to begin, Kenneth Dalby hung himself in his closet using a sheet.
"Cha, when do we get to go down to the planet?" Tom was busily pulling on his best indigo suede boots.
"1100 hours." Chakotay watched as his love ran a comb through his hair. Caught staring, he just grinned. "Lookin' good, Poocuh."
Tom looked down at his clothing. "Not too much blue?"
*Gods, no.* Tom was dressed in a simple pastel blue cotton shirt, tight indigo jeans and matching knee-high boots. In Chakotay's eyes, he was perfection.
"Uh, no. No, you look perfect."
The younger man just looked at him knowingly, and crossed over to kneel down beside Chakotay's chair. "We could wait...." The big man groaned and then kissed the lips so near.
The doctor had no answer for Tom's sudden acceleration in development. In the past two months Tom had matured at an amazing rate. He had finished his secondary schooling and Chakotay figured that he would be ready for helm certification within a month or so. He had become a fascinating mixture of naivete and raw sensuality. But with no memories of his life before.
Chakotay and the others had finally sat down with him and explained about his attack and subsequent memory loss. Tom seemed largely unconcerned. His only question, "Were we together then, too?" At the affirmation, he simply smiled.
Chakotay had also tried to beg off making love with the young man, feeling that it would just remind him of the trauma. But Tom would have none of that. If anything, he wanted more. Chakotay finally realized that their sexual relationship was not only deeply satisfying to his lover, but also reassuring.
Chakotay had always allowed Tom to be the initiator of their encounters. Part of him had still felt a little perverse at the seeming innocence of his partner. But in the weeks following, he began to understand that in some ways Tom was far from a child and resented being treated as one. From that point on, Chakotay set out to show his lover just how cherished and desired he was.
While Chakotay was debating whether they really needed to beam down to the planet *right then*, the door was triggered.
Harry and B'Elanna stepped just inside the door. "Gods, will you two give it a rest? Some of us aren't getting any, you know!"
Harry turned deep red. "B'Elanna......."
"Well, are you?" Chakotay was sure that you could have toasted marshmallows with the heat coming from Harry's face.
"Cut him a break, Lieutenant. Shall we?" This said as the big man held out a hand to help Tom to his feet.
"Gods! I may have a young brain, but I have old knees...."
Harry and Tom sat at a table and watched B'Elanna haggling with a street vendor over a red and gold tapestry.
"Doesn't she already have something like that hanging in her quarters?"
Tom took a sip of his drink. "Who knows...Cha says that B'Ela just likes to shop."
Harry stared at the other man, wide eyed. "You sounded just like yourself for a minute!"
"I am myself, Harry."
"You know what I mean."
"Yeah." Tom looked somberly across the square to where Chakotay was talking to a merchant. "I sometimes catch Cha watching me. I know he's looking for the guy he really fell in love with."
"Tom, Chakotay adores you! Sure, you're sort of different to what you were but you're still you!" Harry was sure that he was babbling, but the look in Tom's eyes frightened him. He tried another tack. "You two are so much in love that you're almost painful to be around!"
Tom threw back his head and laughed. "Okay, Harry, I can take a hint. I'll talk to the big guy about behaving in public."
"You called him the big guy."
"You haven't call him that since you lost your memory."
"I probably just heard someone else call him that."
"Cha, how did we first meet?"
"Love, I thought we agreed that we were going to let your memories come back naturally."
"But nothing's coming *back*! It's like my life started when I woke up in sickbay four months ago." Tom left the couch to stand looking out at the stars.
"That's not completely accurate. You could fly Voyager the first time we ran the sims."
Chakotay had learned that he had to be very careful while discussing this subject. Harry had told him of his and Tom's conversation while planetside. Since then, the older man had gone out of his way to make sure that Tom knew that *this Tom* was just as loved as the one before.
"Chakotay, I need to know." He quickly glanced at his lover over his shoulder. "I've been having some dreams. They're not good."
"Then let's discuss the dreams. I don't want to help you create false memories by telling you what *I* remember."
"Don't turn counselor on me, Big Man."
*God, he sounded so like his old self just then.*
"Tom, I'm not going to counsel or coddle you. We all agreed, including the doc, that you need to remember these on your own. Now, I will sit down with you and tell you if your dreams match up with any occurrences that I know of, but that's
all I'll do. Please understand that it's for the best."
"For *whose* best! You're not the one running around with this big dark hole in his life. You're not the one waking up gagging because of dreaming about crashing in a big fireball. You're not the one pinned there looking at three people dead and dying, blood everywhere, her head in my lap and her body three feet away!"
Chakotay was appalled. While familiar with the fact that Tom had been court-martialed following the shuttle crash on Caldik Prime, he knew none of the real facts. If these were the memories that his lover had lived with every day, did he really want him to remember?
"I don't know what to do. He had told me that he was having bad dreams and from the one and only conversation we have had on the subject, they certainly sound like memories."
Chakotay ran his hands through his hair. He found himself waking during the night to find his lover lying staring up at the ceiling. When questioned, he said that he couldn't sleep. The older man thought that it was probably more accurate to say that he didn't want to sleep.
Kathryn was looking at a man in pain. She had been pleasantly surprised at the depths of their feelings for each other. She had originally thought that the relationship would flame out within weeks. Tom's injuries and fight to come back had strengthened their bond. But from what she was hearing, Kathryn was worried that the stress would tear both of them and their relationship apart after all.
"Chakotay, you may have to go ahead and tell him things or at least release his personal logs to him. I realize that the earlier ones will probably be most unpleasant. And unfortunately, this most likely will not be a case where what he is imagining is worse than the truth. You'll need to be there for him every step of the way. We all will."
"Forgive me Kathryn, but I think this is one case where you're dead wrong. Those logs were written by a Tom that existed years ago, not the one that recently lost his memory. I think that would be a bigger mistake than just telling him what we know."
Tom was finally certified as helmsman. Ensign Batehart, who had been sitting in for Tom as acting senior helmsman was surprisingly enthusiastic about giving Tom back his old job. "Gods, those reports! And I never knew if I was doin'em right. Commander Tuvok would just sit there silently and take turns raising first one freaking eyebrow and then the other at me!"
Tom burst out laughing. "Oh, Rick. Thank you very much. That is the one thing that I *do* remember about the job!"
Chakotay finally broke down. After dinner one night, he led Tom to the terminal in their quarters and accessed the official records for the accident on Caldik Prime and his subsequent court martial. Tom read in silence and then flew out through the door of the cabin.
The Commander waited several minutes and then requested Tom's location. Following him to the main observation lounge, he found his lover rocking in the corner of the room, much as he had after the alien attack several months earlier.
He simply sat down on the floor next to Tom and waited. He knew that this was something that Tom needed to work out for himself but as Kathryn said, they needed to be there for him every step of the way.
Finally, "Cha, I don't remember any of that stuff. I just remember the actual crash and then waiting there for what seemed like hours until they pulled me out of the wreckage." Tom looked at the older man and then closed his eyes in pain. "Why in god's name did I lie in that report? They weren't even investigating the crash!"
"I don't know, Poocuh. We do strange things under stress."
"What stress, Cha? According to the medical report, I was lying in a hospital bed going in and out of consciousness."
Chakotay raised his head and looked at Tom. "What did you just say?"
"My medical records were filed as evidence. I had to have filed that report while I was still in the hospital. They discharged me from the hospital the morning of the hearing."
"Then how did you file the report?"
"Hell, I don't know. I probably got one of the nurses to get me a terminal. All I know is that my thumbprint is on that report so I had to have filed it."
"Why would they have considered that a valid report? You could have simply argued that you were injured and confused. They probably had you drugged to the eyeballs!"
"Big Man, why are you asking me? I'm the one with amnesia, remember?"
Tom felt the pain and shock of finding out what had happened ebbing from his mind. He stood and held out a hand to Chakotay. "Let's go back to the cabin. I need either a big bowl of tomato soup or some really wild sex."
"I'll let you guess which one I vote for."
Tom lay on his back staring up at his lover. Chakotay was so beautiful like this, flushed and sweating, straining as he pistoned in and out of Tom's body. Wanting to go deeper, the big man released one of Tom's legs and let it slide from his
The first time that Chakotay had shown him this position, Tom had felt idiotic, splayed open like a Christmas turkey. The pleasure he had received quickly overshadowed any awkwardness that he had felt.
That was the big man's signal to begin pumping his lover's cock. Not that it took much when his lover was in this state. *Gods, he's beautiful.*
Tom arched, froze and then shook as he came; spurting hard enough to hit himself in the chin. Chakotay gasped as the pressure on his cock became almost painful with the intensity of the young man's orgasm.
The sound of deep breathing. The rustling of sheets as Chakotay moved from his lover's body to collapse at his side.
"Life...is good." A weak chuckle.
"Glad to hear you say that, baby. I was a little worried earlier."
"I've decided that what's done is done. If and when I remember it, I'll deal with it. But it *is* all in the past." A sigh. "Now, if I can just keep that in mind with the next piece of shit that rolls through."
"How poetic, my love."
"Yeah, I'm nothing if not colorful."
Chakotay entered the cabin after alpha shift to find Tom lying red-eyed on the couch.
"I started reading my personal logs today. God, I was so bitter. Most of it was about dealing with the crew's hatred........"
"and yours." Tom raised to a sitting position and pulled Chakotay down next to him. "How in the name of the gods did we ever get together?"
"Isn't it in your logs?"
"I've only gotten up to Akriteria."
*Fuck.* Taking Tom in his arms, he placed his chin on top of the red-gold curls. "We've both mellowed quite a bit over the last couple of years. But actually we didn't get together until a few weeks before you were attacked."
"Were we at least friends?"
"Ouch. You don't believe in asking easy questions, do you, babe? I respected you; you had done way too much for this ship and crew for me to keep my hatred intact."
"So you don't really know when your feelings for me changed?"
A chuckle. "I know exactly when they changed. Oh, it wasn't a split-second thing. But in the space of a couple of weeks I realized that more than anything I wanted to be with you."
"And then we got together?"
"No, I had to break up with the Captain first."
"What!!!!!" Chakotay found a pair of wide blue eyes centimeters from his.
"Yeah, but she was going to break up with me anyway. In fact, she didn't even know about my feelings for you when we broke up."
"Shit. Your life's even more of a holo-novel than mine."
"When I stop and think about the last year, I'd have to agree. You know, I think it's time."
"Do I get to pick what it's time for?" A leer.
"Nope. Wait here." Chakotay got up from the couch and disappeared into the other room. He returned shortly with both hands behind his back. Sitting on the coffee table before Tom, he smiled.
"Remember when you and I and Harry and B'Elanna went to the bazaar during our last shore leave?"
"Do I! Remember that double-jointed fire swallower? That was one beautiful pair of--"
"Just kidding, Big Guy. You are sooooooo easy to tease."
"ANYWAY, to get back to what I was saying, while you and Harry sat there knocking back those fruit drinks, I was doing some shopping of my own."
"I remember. You were across the market place talking to some old geezer in a purple sheet."
A very large sigh. "Baby, you are so fucking romantic; I'm trying to say something here."
A soft, "Sorry, Cha."
"Now where was I? Oh yeah....."
Chakotay lowered himself to one knee and took Tom's left hand. Tom's eyes got even bigger than usual and he started to speak.
Tom took his right hand and acted as if he were sealing his lips closed.
Chakotay chuckled and then said, "Thomas Eugene Paris, will you marry me?"
Tom said nothing, just looked at the wonderful man before him.
"Oh, I get to talk now?"
"Smart ass. I'm waiting for an answer."
"Well, in that case. Yeah, I guess so."
Chakotay just shook his head. "Close your eyes."
The young man before him complied and then gasped as he felt something slip onto the ring finger of his left hand.
Looking down at the long pale hand whose ring finger now sported an ornately woven band, "I'm just letting you see what that is going to look like once we're married. You can't actually have it until after the ceremony."
"Afraid that I'll use it as an ante in poker?"
"You are such a little shit."
"But you love me."
"Well, there is that, I suppose."
"Cha, I don't have a ring for you."
Chakotay smiled. "Don't worry. I bought the set. So, whattaya say, one month from today if Kathryn gives her OK?"
"I think I'm free that day."
A rather intense kiss. "Not for long."
c1998 Karen (Ksoren0626@aol.com)
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