Time Enough to Love
(VOY, C/P/m, NC-17)
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. I’m borrowing them for awhile and promise to return them intact (more or less).
Summary: Tom and Chakotay turn to each other while imprisoned on the Krenim timeship. With a special guest star. Completed in March 1998.
Warning: The story describes explicit male/male sexual relations. If that offends you, read no further.
Spoiler Alert: This story is loosely based on the events in "Year of Hell." If you have not seen the episode, it may not make sense.
Distribution: Permission granted to Sileya to archive at TSU. All others, please ask first.
Constructive feedback accepted at: KiffScott@aol.com
The sound interrupted Tom Paris’s sleep, as it had for the previous two nights. He forced his eyes open. As he had suspected, the noise was coming from the man lying next to him.
Tom raised himself up on his right elbow and looked into Chakotay’s face. Voyager’s first officer was lying flat on his back, dead to the universe, making a sound like a sick impulse engine. Tom nudged the commander slightly. With a sigh, Chakotay obligingly turned over on his right side, away from Tom. The snoring ceased.
Tom chuckled softly. "That’s three straight nights now you’ve woken me up," he whispered to the slumbering man. "If we ever get back to Voyager, I’m going to tell the Doctor to perform some surgery on those nasal passages of yours."
Chakotay, still deep in sleep, did not respond. Tom continued to regard him. Although he had been momentarily irritated by the interruption of his own sleep, he now felt a sudden and unexpected rush of affection for the other man. Affection, and sympathy. Chakotay, of course, was completely unaware of his own snoring, and it was clear now to Tom that the commander had had no sleeping partner for some time -- someone who *could* nudge him in the night and quiet his breathing, someone who *could* ask the Doctor for help.
But then, of course, Tom was now more than just a "sleeping partner."
Their first two months away from Voyager had been hellish -- many hours of interrogation, naturally, but the hours of isolation had been even worse. Eventually, Annorax, the Krenim captain, had ordered them released from their cells and moved into more comfortable quarters. In order to maintain his sanity, Tom had drawn on the toughness he had developed during his prison experience on Earth. Chakotay had not fared as well. Tom had been alarmed at how chummy the commander had started to get with Annorax. Chakotay had definitely begun to show signs of an old Earth psychological disorder called the "Stockholm syndrome." However, Tom had finally convinced him to stop trying to understand the Krenim captain and work instead to undermine him. Chakotay was still keeping up appearances, however, and was still feigning interest in the temporal incursions that Annorax continued to conduct.
One week ago, Chakotay had come to Tom’s room in the middle of the night. Silently, he had laid down next to the pilot. Tom, barely conscious, accepted the warm body into his bed and slept on. He was awoken several hours later by a firm hand grasping and stroking his penis. Too shocked to say anything, Tom accepted Chakotay’s caress, coming quietly to orgasm. Chakotay then took Tom’s hand and placed it on his own cock. Silently, Tom masturbated the commander to his own release. Afterwards, both men rose, showered, and went to breakfast with no words passing between them.
Chakotay returned to Tom’s bed the following night, and every night thereafter. The mutual masturbation continued. They never talked about it, though each man seemed to take comfort in the contact. They were the only two humans on board the timeship -- perhaps the only two humans left alive in the Delta Quadrant, for all they knew. The sexual act seemed to be an affirmation, a necessary bonding for their survival.
Now Tom slipped quietly out of bed and into an adjoining cubicle, where he relieved himself. The quarters on the Krenim ship were comfortable, though not what he had been used to on Voyager. Obrist, the Krenim first officer, had seen to it that Tom and Chakotay were treated well.
Tom liked Obrist. It was clear that the young Krenim was becoming increasingly disturbed by what Annorax was doing to the timeline. It was also clear that Obrist was desperately lonely. He had been separated from his family for two hundred years. And, to make it worse, there were no women serving on the timeship.
Tom returned to the bedroom. Oddly enough, he felt refreshed and alert, although his internal clock told him it was roughly 0300 hours. Instead of lying back down, he pulled up a chair and sat down on Chakotay’s side of the bed. The commander continued to sleep soundly and peacefully. Tom smiled. At least he and Chakotay weren’t lonely. This relationship might not continue if Voyager ever did come to rescue them, but in the meantime it was helping to keep his spirits up. Again he felt warm feelings swelling up inside him as he looked at Chakotay’s face.
"You’re OK, big man," he said softly. "You really are."
He remembered looking at this same face in the underground cavern on the Ocampa homeworld. Its expression had held anger, pain, embarrassment -- embarrassment at having to accept help from Thomas Eugene Paris, a man he despised for his weakness and greed.
Tom also thought about how he and Tuvok and Captain Janeway had conspired to flush out a Maquis traitor on board. Chakotay had been their unwitting flunky, and it had taken the commander time to overcome this humiliation. Although part of Tom had enjoyed watching the big man squirm, a deeper, more compassionate part had regretted every minute of it.
//I am better than that,// he thought. //I must be, because I care about you, Chakotay.//
Oh, yes, he did. It had torn him apart to see Chakotay, a strong, principled man, forced by Riley Frazier and her band of former Borg to act against Voyager. And it had nearly driven Tom crazy when Chakotay had been captured and brainwashed by the Vori. It wasn’t just because Chakotay was his first officer. He was a friend. And now -- his erstwhile lover. Lover. Was that the correct word? How did love enter into the equation, after all?
Did he love the big man?
Tom stared at the angular, handsome face, at the full lips, the exotic tattoo on the left temple.
Maybe he did. Only one way to really find out, though.
He whispered Chakotay’s name aloud, dropping to his knees and reaching a hand out to caress the bristly black hair.
"Hmmph?" Chakotay’s eyes opened. "Tom? What are...?"
Tom stopped his words with a light kiss. Chakotay started to resist, but then kissed the pilot back. Harder. Too hard. Tom pulled away.
"Wait. Slow down, big man."
"Uh-uh!" The commander grabbed his shoulder, but once again Tom wriggled free, getting to his feet.
"Chakotay, before this goes any farther, I need to know something."
"What?" There was an irritated edge to the commander’s voice.
Tom bit his lip nervously. It was a hard question to ask. "How do you feel -- about me? About us?"
Chakotay scowled and pushed himself up on his elbows. "How do I feel? Right now I *feel* horny."
Tom exhaled in frustration and sank back into his chair. "No, that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about *feelings.* Emotions. Let’s leave sex out of it for a minute."
"Okay." Chakotay sat up straighter in the bed. "Shoot."
Gods, this was tough. It made dealing with B’Elanna Torres seem like a piece of cake. "I guess -- what I want to know is -- why? Why did you come to my bed? I -- kind of enjoyed it -- the sex, but what’s behind it? For you?"
"Does it matter?"
"Fuck, yes, it does." Tom swallowed. "What I’m trying to say is that -- I have feelings for you. I care about you. Not just as a sex partner, but as -- a person."
He saw the commander’s eyes widen. "I know, it’s weird, isn’t it? Here we are, the only two humans for who knows how many light-years. We may never see our ship again. You used to hate me. Maybe you still do..."
"I don’t," Chakotay said quietly.
Some measure of relief spread through Tom. "Anyway -- we’re only human. We have needs. Emotional needs. Sexual needs. And you and I were the only game in town for each other, so to speak."
"So," Chakotay said, "what you’re wondering is -- is there more to our relationship than sex?"
Tom nodded. "Yeah."
The commander looked at him thoughtfully. "I think there is. We’ve learned to work together on Voyager. You are, beyond a doubt, the best damn pilot I’ve ever seen." Chakotay paused, and Tom’s heart fell. Professional admiration, but nothing more.
"Dammit." Chakotay threw his head back and stared at the ceiling. "I should have said this to you a long time ago, Lieutenant."
Tom waited expectantly.
"I owe you my life, Tom. And I’ve never properly thanked you for what you did on the Ocampa homeworld. I underestimated your courage and honor, and I’m sorry for some of the rash judgments I made."
Gratitude. Better, but still not enough.
"And," Chakotay went on, "I’ve seen how good a friend you’ve been to B’Elanna and Harry. You’ve also gone the extra mile to help Seven of Nine adjust to life as a human being. You’ve worked better with her than I ever could."
Tom flushed at the praise. "Seven and I are both misfits. I guess I just understand her pretty well."
"Don’t sell yourself short, Tom." Chakotay threw off the bedclothes and swung his legs over the side of the bed. "You have a wonderful capacity to forgive and move on -- a virtue that this old man hasn’t yet mastered." The commander looked directly at Tom, and the pilot was startled to see tears forming in the brown eyes. "I’m sorry that I haven’t been more open with you. I’ve just been hurt too many times...."
The big man shuddered. Tom moved quickly to the bed and put an arm around his shoulders. Sobs rippled through Chakotay, and he buried his face in Tom’s chest. Tom held him firmly, gently, marveling at the sudden vulnerability he was seeing in the other man. Hurt -- intentionally, by the traitor Seska; unintentionally, by a captain who would not let herself return his deep feelings for her.
"It’s all right, I’m here," he whispered.
The sobbing slowly subsided. Chakotay pulled back and wiped his hand across his eyes. "Thanks, Tom."
"No problem. What are friends for?"
"Friends..." the commander echoed.
"I care about you. Friends do that, don’t they?"
"I suppose they do." Chakotay let out a long shuddering sigh.
"We’ve gone about this all ass-backwards, haven’t we?"
"What do you mean?"
"We fucked around first, then decided to like each other later."
Chakotay laughed. "You always have such a colorful way of putting things, Tom Paris."
Tom grinned back at him. "It’s all so natural to me."
"I like that about you, too."
They looked at each other, brown eyes into blue, for a long moment. Tom was suddenly struck by how handsome Chakotay’s face really was -- how the tribal tattoo accented his natural bone structure and made him all the more attractive. His hand moved to gently stroke Chakotay’s cheek, and the other man’s eyes closed.
"Chakotay. Let me love you. *Really* love you."
Chakotay turned his head, kissed Tom’s fingertips.
"Show me how -- to love again."
"Stand up for a second."
Tom extended his hand to Chakotay and pulled him to his feet. The commander was dressed in the long burgundy sleeping robe provided to him by the Krenim. Tom grasped the garment gently and tugged it over Chakotay’s head. He tossed it into a corner, then pulled his own blue robe off and headed that in the same direction.
The two men stood facing each other. Tom looked admiringly at Chakotay. He had seen the commander in various stages of undress (being a part-time assistant in Voyager’s sickbay had its privileges), but until now he had never appreciated such a powerful torso, solid legs, and firm buttocks.
Chakotay flushed under Tom’s gaze and lowered his eyes.
"Gods," breathed the pilot at last, "you are beautiful." He stepped toward the other man and embraced him, skin to skin. Chakotay’s arms went around him, tentatively at first, then more firmly as the big man relaxed. "You feel good, Tom."
"So do you." Tom gently caressed the warm bronze skin. "How about a nice long backrub to start with?"
Chakotay hesitated. "If we have the time..."
"We do," Tom said firmly. "Trust me. It’s early. No one’s awake except us and the night shift. Relax. Enjoy yourself."
Chakotay gave him a small smile, nodded, and quietly laid face down on the bed.
//Cripes//, thought Tom, //he’s acting like this is a chore. Has he ever enjoyed sex with anyone?// The idea saddened Tom tremendously. Had his experience with Seska really hurt the big man that much? Or had he given up on happiness when he had given up on Captain Janeway? Either way, the pilot was determined to make Chakotay forget both of them.
He climbed onto the bed and straddled Chakotay’s hips, stretching his arms and fingers in preparation. One deep breath. The masseuse at Sandrine’s had taught him that the best backrub was as good for the person giving it as for the one receiving it. He intended this to be a *very* pleasurable experience.
He placed his hands on either side of Chakotay’s neck and began kneading the trapezius muscle. He could feel the tightness underneath. Not surprising. The stress of the past several months had lodged here.
"Oh....." the commander moaned as Tom expertly manipulated his flesh. Tom closed his eyes and inhaled slowly, his concentration focusing even more intently on the body of the man underneath him. Slowly the muscles began to loosen under his fingers. Chakotay emitted another long moan. Good, good. Release the emotion and release the tension, and vice versa. His hands moved downwards, pressing and adjusting the commander’s vertebrae and shoulder blades. Tom felt a satisfying pop as Chakotay’s spine realigned itself. The big man exhaled. "Oh, spirits, Tom, don’t stop, that feels so good...."
Tom bent over and kissed the back of Chakotay’s head. "I’m just getting started here."
He ran his fingers lightly up and down Chakotay’s back. What beautiful skin he had -- several shades darker than his own -- smooth, warm, comforting. He could touch it forever and still not get enough of it.
His hands traveled to Chakotay’s lower back and he began rubbing the muscles again. More tension here. The commander grunted a few times but did not protest as Tom aggressively worked out the knots.
Down lower -- now Tom had his hands on the other man’s buttocks. Oh, gods, how firm and perfect they were. Tom had to shift his position as his erection threaten to nudge into the crack between them. Not yet. He massaged Chakotay’s ass instead, then found the soft skin of his inner thighs and stroked it with a feather touch. The commander arched his back and shivered.
"No...." murmured the big man. "Feels -- so good. Never been touched like that before."
Tom smiled. "Then I’ll just keep on doing it." Again and again, he reached tantalizingly close to Chakotay’s scrotum, but stopped just before touching it.
"You’re safe, big man," Tom whispered after a few moments. "You’re beautiful. You’re perfect."
Chakotay raised up, glanced over his right shoulder at the pilot. Brown eyes, open wide with amazement, glowing with desire.
Silently Tom got off him. Chakotay rolled over, his eyes never leaving Tom’s, searching, wanting to trust.
Tom slid upwards, stroked the commander’s face. "I love you," he said.
Chakotay blinked; his glance wavered. "Tom...are you sure you want to do this?"
The pilot’s answer was to kiss the questioning lips softly. "More than anything," he whispered back before capturing Chakotay’s mouth again, gently pushing his tongue between the perfect teeth. The commander responded, caressing Tom’s tongue with his own, sliding an arm around his shoulders. They drank in each other’s sweetness, savoring the sensations of hard teeth, soft lips, slippery gums. Tom finally pulled back with a gasp. Desire grew within him. Again he straddled Chakotay, bent and kissed his eyes, cheeks, neck, and most of all, that delicious mouth. Chakotay’s hands were in his hair, stroking the fine blond locks with a gentleness the pilot could not believe possible.
He broke the kiss and looked deeply into those multidimensional brown eyes. "Gonna love you, big man. All the way." He nibbled along Chakotay’s collarbone, while his hand explored the commander’s right nipple. His fingers teased it into hardness. Chakotay shivered again. Another new sensation. Tom bent to kiss the left nipple, sucking gently on it. Chakotay squirmed under him and clutched at his shoulders. "Uhhhhh...spirits..."
Tom kissed his way down to the big man’s navel and swept his tongue into it. Chakotay writhed; his erection was rock-hard now and would not be denied. "Oh, gods, Tom, please, please..."
Tom looked up and him and grinned slyly. "Now?"
"Yes, oh, yes..."
Tom took his time for a few more moments, licking the rest of the way down the commander’s belly. He then grasped Chakotay’s swelling erection with his hand. The big man gasped. Tom smiled at his reaction. It was astonishing to be able to do this for another man. Women were special, too. He had driven many of them to multiple orgasms. But to do this for someone like himself -- someone with a penis like his, someone who responded like he did -- was unexpectedly gratifying. He could be making love to himself.
Tom opened his mouth and brought the commander in. The older man gave a sharp cry. Tom sucked him slowly, then took him in as deeply as he could. "Oh, *gods*," shrieked Chakotay as his hips began pumping, thrusting into Tom’s mouth. Tom went with the motion, enjoying the blissful look on Chakotay’s face as he neared climax.
"Ah....oh, GODS!" The commander’s thrusts grew more intense, and Tom’s mouth was suddenly filled with warm, spicy semen. Again and again Chakotay pumped his hips, his face ecstatic, his torso glistening with sweat, his cries of joy music to Tom’s ears. Tom held on, sucking and swallowing away until the commander finally quieted.
He released Chakotay and pushed himself up farther onto the bed to better see the other man’s face. Chakotay’s eyes were closed; a single tear coursed down his left cheek. Tom stroked his hair. "You okay, big man?"
Chakotay opened his eyes and smiled at Tom. The smile told the pilot more than any words could have. A sun had escaped from its cloudy prison and was shining for all it was worth.
Tom kissed his cheek and slipped both arms around the warm, slightly moist body.
For a few moments both lay quietly. Then Chakotay spoke.
"Tom, I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve you."
"Stop that." Tom raised himself up. "Right now. Stop putting yourself down like that. I love you."
He stared intensely into the brown depths, hoping somehow that his eyes could convince Chakotay if his words did not. Chakotay looked directly back at him for several heartbeats, then nodded. "You do love me."
"I love you, too, Tom." It was spoken with authority, with no hesitation, and with the ring of truth. Tom sensed that a bridge had been crossed -- a painful door to Chakotay’s past closed forever.
Tom tightened his arms around his companion and felt an answering pressure. Each man buried his face in the other’s neck, savoring their closeness, their ever-tightening bond.
After a few minutes, "Tom?"
"Can I make love to *you* now?"
He was a prisoner of the Krenim, yet he was free. Tom Paris had unlocked the door, and he had stepped through. Now Chakotay lay in his lover’s strong arms, his heart pumping against the other man’s chest, his every breath filled with Tom’s essence. The waking world had never held such wonders for him before; only in his vision quests had he approached this brand of bliss.
And his guide on this particular quest was none other than Tom Paris. Tom Paris -- irresponsible, irreverent, cocky helmboy. Oh, gods, where had this man come from? He had hidden his true self all too well. Surely his father, the admiral, had never seen this side of him -- gentle, unselfish, loving.
First appearances could be deceiving. Take Seska, for instance. She had been bold and aggressive in and out of bed. Chakotay had once come very close to falling in love with her. Something had always told him to hold back his deepest self from her. Thank the spirits he had trusted that sense, though her betrayal had still cut him severely.
Kathryn Janeway. His commanding officer, his confidante, but nothing more. When the two of them had been stranded on New Earth, he had thought about building a life with her, but, as things turned out, it just wasn’t meant to be. Once they returned to the ship, any hope of a romantic relationship was gone. Chakotay still loved her, but recognized that a friendship was the most he could expect.
His position as First Officer had made it nearly impossible to get dates. Most of the female crew members seemed intimidated by him. The one exception was B’Elanna Torres, and although he valued her friendship and loyalty, he was not attracted to her in any other way. Besides, he had thought something might just be developing between her and Tom.
Then Annorax and his timeship had stolen him and the pilot away from Voyager, their home for nearly four years. Kept them in separate cells for days upon days. Poked them, questioned them again and again. Chakotay had felt himself going quietly insane. The loneliness had been nearly unbearable. He was not a gregarious man by nature, but his need for human contact was real. And so, once Annorax had seen fit to treat him and Tom with some semblance of common decency, he had turned to the young man for comfort. Perhaps it had been unfair to impose himself on Tom sexually; he had been surprised and relieved that Tom had accepted him into his bed without protest. At the same time, Chakotay was embarrassed by his own vulnerability. After the mutual masturbations had been completed, Chakotay would snap back into himself. It was too difficult to talk to Tom about the meaning of what they were doing.
Thank the spirits, Tom had done it for him. And now Tom lay in his arms.
What a gift he had just been given. Could he return it in any way?
"Can I make love to you now?"
He felt Tom pull back, then was caught in those piercing blue eyes again.
"I’d like that, big man." Then those lips, oh so soft, on his cheek. "Where do you want me?"
Chakotay gently pushed the pilot onto his back, then sat up. "Let me look at you."
Tom smiled and put his hands behind his head.
Chakotay looked into his face. He had always thought Tom relatively good-looking, but now, seeing through a lover’s eyes, he was struck at how beautiful the pilot really was. That hair, that wonderful soft hair -- he passed a hand through the golden locks and gently caressed Tom’s scalp. Tom’s eyes closed. "Mmmmmm...."
Next, Chakotay stroked Tom’s forehead, nose, cheek, jawline. Oh, those wonderful lips, the mouth that had just given him such pleasure. He ran a finger along them. Tom suddenly opened his mouth and sucked on it, giving Chakotay a blast of blue-tinged lust from his eyes.
Chakotay reached his other hand downward and ran it through Tom’s chest hair. He felt Tom’s torso rise and fall in a contented sigh. Chakotay freed his finger from Tom’s mouth and stroked the pilot under his neck. He couldn’t control it anymore, and his lips and teeth soon followed. Tom moaned softly.
"That’s it, big man. Feels so good."
Chakotay planted kisses along Tom’s collarbone, reached for a nipple, and squeezed. Tom squirmed. Gods, he was so responsive. Chakotay stopped kissing him, looked up for a moment.
"*Te quiero, Tomas.*" The old Spanish words escaped the commander’s lips involuntarily. He glanced at Tom, uncertain if the pilot understood.
Tom covered the brown hand on his chest with his own. "*Je t’aime, Chakotay.*"
The commander leaned in, kissed Tom deeply. He could not get enough of that beautiful mouth. Half a minute later, he released the pilot, gasping for breath. Tom was fully erect again, his face flushed with desire.
Chakotay squeezed the small brown nipples, licked first the left, then the right one into hardness. Tom writhed underneath him. The commander reached down and grasped Tom’s swollen manhood.
"Yess...." hissed the younger man.
Chakotay bent down and licked the glans lightly. Tom moaned. Chakotay nipped his way up and down the shaft, eliciting sharp cries of pleasure.
"Tease me, big man, that’s so good...."
Now the commander licked at Tom’s scrotum, fondling the testicles with his tongue and lips.
Tom could take it no more. "Suck me -- please...."
Chakotay opened wide and swallowed Tom whole. He sucked hard, then slowly released the pressure, sliding Tom’s erection sensuously out of his mouth. Then he captured it again and repeated the motion.
Tom bucked his hips wildly. "Oh, gods...I’m coming..." He thrust into the commander’s mouth. Chakotay’s taste buds exploded with Tom’s pungent, hot jism. The pilot shook and wailed in ecstasy. Chakotay’s heart raced sympathetically. How glorious it was to share another man’s orgasm.
Tom’s head thudded back against the pillow; his body quieted suddenly.
Chakotay looked up in alarm. "Tom?"
No answer but the pilot’s rapid breathing.
"Tom, are you OK?" The commander gently shook his lover. After a few seconds, Tom’s eyes finally opened. Chakotay felt a rush of gratitude. "You scared me there, Tom. I almost thought I’d killed you."
"*Le petit mort,*" Tom said wonderingly. "I passed out, didn’t I?"
"You did. What do you mean -- *le petit mort*?"
"The small death. Sometimes, if a person has a very intense orgasm, they lose consciousness."
"I’ve never heard of that."
"It’s not terribly common, but it does happen. Never for me before, though. Sweet gods, Chakotay, that was unbelievable."
Chakotay, pleased to have pleased, ran his hand over the shaggy blond head. "That’s because I love you, Tom Paris."
Tom reached down, squeezed the commander’s buttocks. "And I love you, too, you gorgeous old man."
They kissed deeply.
"Watch it, Tom. I’m getting hard again..."
"Whatsa matter, afraid I’ll wear you out?" Loud laughter rolled from Tom’s chest. The commander joined in. Neither man saw the door on the opposite wall open.
But they did hear the startled gasp that came from the man who had opened it.
Both Tom and Chakotay turned. Tom’s hands still caressing Chakotay’s buttocks, Chakotay’s hands on Tom’s face.
Obrist, the Krenim second-in-command, stood in the doorway, staring at the two humans in utter amazement. And embarrassment.
"Ex-excuse me...." the young man said, flushing deeply and backing out of the room. Before Tom or Chakotay could recover, the door had closed again.
"You have to talk to him."
"You’re closer to him than I am. Besides, Annorax is expecting me to run another simulation on the bridge this morning."
Tom snorted as he turned off the shower. "Gonna annihilate some more civilizations today, big man?"
"Hey, I have to keep up appearances, you know." Chakotay, already washed and dressed, lounged in the chair next to the bed. He looked Tom up and down as the pilot toweled himself off and reached for some fresh clothes; something close to a leer passed across the commander’s face. "On the other hand, we could just stay in here all day."
Tom grinned at him. "Gods, you’re cute when you’re horny."
Chakotay jumped up suddenly, pulled Tom to him, and kissed him deeply. His hands wandered over Tom’s bare skin, smooth and cool from the shower.
Tom responded -- how could he not? -- to the commander’s sweet mouth. After a few moments, he pulled away, gasping. "Damn, Chakotay, you are a great kisser. But if we don’t get out of here soon, someone else besides Obrist is going to come through that door, and they won’t be as friendly as he is."
Chakotay traced the outlines of Tom’s mouth with a fingertip. "You’re right. But tonight you’re all mine, Mr. Paris."
They went into what passed for a mess hall on the Krenim timeship. A few of the crew nodded at them; most ignored them. Obrist was nowhere to be seen. They served themselves and sat down, Tom positioning himself so that he could see if the young officer showed himself. His feet bumped Chakotay’s under the table; the two men smiled sheepishly at each other.
"Lieutenant, I suggest you avoid any -- inappropriate -- physical contact with me at this time." Chakotay raised an eyebrow as he said this, and Tom had to restrain himself from lapsing into helpless giggles. At the same time, it did his heart good to see the commander making jokes. Their chances for survival, and of getting back to Voyager, seemed to be improving.
They ate their food without really tasting it, just for nourishment’s sake more than anything else. Tom found himself thinking about what he would choose to eat once he got back to Voyager. Maybe he could work on Neelix again about making a pizza. If Neelix was still alive. A large pizza, with at least two kinds of cheese, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions. On second thought, leave out the sausage. Chakotay might want to share.
He smiled at his partner. Chakotay was taking a drink, caught his eye, and grinned back. "What?"
"Oh, I was just thinking about getting back to Voyager and maybe sharing a pizza with you."
"Pizza. That does sound good."
A sudden thought occurred to Tom; he broke eye contact with Chakotay and stared down at his plate. "I guess -- I’m assuming that you’d still want to be with me if and when we got back."
"Why wouldn’t I?"
Tom flushed. "I don’t know. We’d have to fit ourselves back into the chain of command somehow. And we’d be among other people who know us pretty well, and might be very surprised that we’d become lovers."
"Are you referring to anyone in particular?"
"The Captain, for one."
Chakotay smiled, a small secret smile. "Tom, I think she’ll be delighted with the arrangement."
Tom looked curiously at his lover. "Then -- you don’t think -- she’ll be jealous?"
"Not at all. Tom, I see where this is going -- you’re really wondering about *my* feelings for her." The commander held up a hand as Tom started to shake his head. "It’s all right. You are entitled to know. I was in love with her for several months, but it’s over. She never felt the same way. We’re friends, and that’s as far as it will ever get."
The commander reached discreetly across the table and gave Tom’s arm a brief squeeze. "Now I guess I should ask you about B’Elanna."
Tom hesitated. "Well, she told me she loved me. And I thought I loved her. But we just kept fighting so much. We were pretty close to breaking up when the Krenim came along....hey, there he is!"
Obrist had appeared at the door. He saw Tom and Chakotay almost immediately; a look of discomfort briefly flashed across his dark features before he turned away.
Tom swallowed the last of his drink. "Well, here goes nothing," he muttered.
"Tom." Chakotay grasped the pilot’s arm as he got up. The commander stared into Tom’s eyes. "I trust you."
Tom only nodded, too moved to speak. He squeezed Chakotay’s hand briefly, then headed toward the table where Obrist was sitting by himself. The young officer, seeing Tom approach, shifted uneasily in his chair; his dark eyes searched the room for a possible escape route. Having found none, his handsome face was flushed as Tom sat down across from him.
"Good morning." Tom tried to keep his voice level. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Chakotay rise from his seat and leave the room in the direction of the bridge.
Obrist answered with only a nod and an awkward grunt.
Tom sighed. Just plunge right in. "Listen, Obrist, I need to talk to you about what you saw. I need to explain -- about me and Commander Chakotay."
"Please -- keep your voice down." Obrist’s face was nearly scarlet with embarrassment. "I cannot talk about this with the other crew around."
"Fine by me." Tom sat back. "How about we meet in your quarters for one of those *kraknar* games?"
Obrist looked at him doubtfully, almost fearfully.
Tom’s eyes narrowed, but he did lower his voice. "Oh, I get it. You’re afraid I’ll try to do to you what I was doing to Chakotay."
The Krenim’s hand visibly shook as he reached for his drink. "It is -- not appropriate to talk of these things in public. But I will meet with you for a game in one hour. I do not go on duty until the second watch."
"Fair enough." Tom stood up. "One hour."
He went to the bridge and spent the hour watching Chakotay run time experiments with Annorax, making just enough disparaging comments so that the Krenim captain would still believe that he and the commander were at odds with each other. Chakotay rounded on him at one point and told him to shut up; the scowl on the big man’s face was so convincing that Tom really believed he was angry, then the commander’s right eye closed in a wink, and he knew he was okay. But he did pipe down after that. No need to overdo things. Besides, his main problem was Obrist.
He went to the young officer’s quarters after the requisite time had passed. Obrist admitted him. The game was already set up, and they went to it. Tom won the first round fairly easily. As Obrist arranged the board for the second round, Tom finally spoke.
"Okay, I gotta know. Did you tell Annorax about me and Chakotay?"
"Did you tell anyone?"
"No, I did not." The young man reddened.
"Good. Let’s keep it between us." Tom leaned forward. "Obrist, listen. I like you. And I know you don’t care for what’s going on with your captain. You want to go home and live out your life like any normal person would. Do I have that right?"
Obrist nodded. "Yes, but I still must obey my superior."
"Not necessarily. Not when your superior is a madman. You know he’s never going to get what he wants. It’s gone far enough, and you know it."
Obrist swallowed uneasily. "Tom, I know you want to go home to Voyager, but I do not think there is much of Voyager left."
"I’ll deal with that. Chakotay will, too. Who knows, the two of us may have to settle down on a planet somewhere and forget about ever getting home. I can think of worse things."
"You -- love him, do you not?"
"I do." Tom looked directly at the young man. "Obrist, have you ever been in love?"
The Krenim officer looked down at the table. "Yes. Yes, I have. I was to have been married after this mission was over. Her name was Liena. She was very beautiful and very kind. But she is long dead now."
Tom pressed. "And since?"
"I -- I do not know what you mean."
"Oh, come on, Obrist. Haven’t you been intimate with anyone on the ship? It has been two hundred years." Obrist looked horrified. "Men with men -- it is not the Krenim way."
"But you have needs...."
"I do not think about them. I -- we -- have a mission to complete. Intimacy is not allowed among the crew."
"How do you enforce this rule?" Tom raised an eyebrow.
"Enough!" Obrist slammed his fist against the table, sending game pieces flying. "I will keep your relationship with the commander to myself, but you must be discreet. I will not speak of this further." He began to pick up the pieces. Tom leaned down to help him, and their hands brushed together. Obrist jumped back. Their eyes met, and Tom saw an aching loneliness in the young Krenim’s face. Two hundred years with no one to cuddle at night, no one to talk to in the darkness, no one to share a laugh with, no one to wipe his tears away with a loving caress. When Obrist got up in the morning, he saw the same face he had for two hundred years. As long as he was on this ship, he would never age, he would never change. Tom shuddered internally. It was no way for anyone to live.
He reached for the young man’s shoulder. Obrist pulled away again, and Tom’s fingers only brushed it. "Tom, I think you had better leave."
"All right." The lieutenant got to his feet. "Just remember something, though. I am your friend, and I am the best hope you have of getting off of this ship. You need to trust me."
Obrist said nothing, avoiding Tom’s eyes.
Tom sighed deeply and exited the young man’s quarters.
Days passed. Annorax continued his operations, with varying levels of success. The restoration of the colony on Kyana Prime remained elusive. The Krenim captain redoubled his efforts, with no better results. Obrist became more and more moody. Tom beat him round after round at *kraknar*; at times he caught the young officer staring intensely at him or Chakotay. His nights with the commander were passionate and tender; his love for the older man grew deeper and deeper. Chakotay returned his affection in kind. Their lovemaking became more and more satisfying as they experimented with different positions and techniques.
It was seven weeks after their first night together. Tom was lying in bed waiting for Chakotay to get out of the shower. His mind drifted. He closed his eyes and imagined himself back on Voyager in the pilot’s seat, guiding the great ship among the stars. His favorite place in the universe.
The door opened suddenly.
//Oh, shit,// Tom thought at first, and then relaxed upon seeing only Obrist. But only for a moment. The young man was on the verge of tears.
"Tom," he said. "This cannot go on." He staggered over to the bed and sat down.
Tom sat up. "What do you mean? Are you going to help us against Annorax?"
Obrist ignored the question. "Two hundred years -- since I last loved. Since Liena. I will never see her again." He broke down, putting his head in his hands.
Tom stretched out a hand to touch the young man. He half expected him to flinch away, but Obrist melted into the contact and moved closer. Tom put an arm around his shoulders. The young Krenim sobbed irregularly.
Tom caught movement out of the corner of his eye and focused on Chakotay. The commander’s eyebrows went up. Tom shrugged slightly and cocked his head sympathetically. Chakotay nodded, came over to the bed and sat on Obrist’s other side. The two humans cradled the young Krenim between them. He continued to weep for several minutes. Finally he caught his breath and looked into Tom’s eyes.
"I -- will never -- love again. I will live forever on this ship, or die, or perhaps kill myself."
"No," said Tom. "There is a way out. You must trust us, Obrist. You must help us."
"Help me first," the young man replied. "Love me. The way you love each other."
Tom’s eyes widened in surprise. He looked at Chakotay and saw that the commander was equally as stunned by Obrist’s request -- or was it a demand?
A few uneasy seconds passed. Finally Tom broke the silence. "Well, uh, wait a minute here. Let’s talk about this..."
Obrist leaned in quickly and cut off the pilot’s words with an awkward kiss. Tom started to pull away but was stopped by the unexpected sweetness of the Krenim’s mouth. He felt himself responding to the young man.
Obrist started to reach for Tom’s face but Chakotay pushed his hand away and, scowling darkly, seized the Krenim by the shoulders and pulled him off of Tom. "Hey, cut it out."
Obrist turned his gaze to the commander. Chakotay found himself looking into brown eyes very much like his own. For the first time he saw what Tom had first seen weeks ago -- the Krenim’s desperate loneliness. But he also sensed something else -- intense desire. Not in the eyes. It was something he could not see, and it attracted him. As he looked at Obrist he noticed that the nodules on either side of the Krenim’s head had begun to pulse. Obrist’s breathing quickened as well.
"The mating beat," the young man said quietly.
There was more -- Chakotay could now smell some kind of odor or emanation coming from Obrist. It was a clean, spicy scent that reminded him of a forest breeze.
//Pheromones,// the scientist in Chakotay determined.
//Strong and sexy as hell,// the commander’s body responded. He could feel the blood racing through his veins. His tongue reached out to lick his lips, and all of a sudden Obrist was in his arms, their mouths locked together. Oh, spirits -- the sweetness, the gentle soul hidden within the warrior for so many years. His hands reached up to touch the throbbing nodules. Obrist moaned and deepened the kiss.
"Hey, what about me?"
Chakotay felt Tom’s left arm slide around his shoulders. The other went around Obrist’s. At the sound of his lover’s voice, Chakotay broke off the kiss and turned to the pilot. Maybe it was just something that those incredible Krenim pheromones were doing, but Tom had never looked more beautiful to him than he did at that moment.
"I love you," Chakotay said in a husky voice.
Tom smiled dreamily, leaned in and kissed the commander. More sweetness. Tom let go of Obrist and ran his fingers through Chakotay’s hair. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Obrist begin to take off his pants.
Tom and Chakotay continued to kiss each other very gently, almost as if it were their first time together. Freed from his clothes, Obrist crept up behind Tom and hugged him around the waist. Tom shivered as Obrist found his nipples and tweaked them. He broke the kiss with Chakotay and allowed both of the other men to remove his sleeping gown. Chakotay then captured his mouth again, while Obrist nibbled at the back of his neck and continued to play with his nipples.
Oh, gods. This was happening too fast. But it was so damned exciting. He managed to pull back from Chakotay and turn to look at Obrist. The Krenim officer was well built, with a smooth hairless chest, slim waist, and strong legs. His penis appeared to be longer and thinner than that of the average human. It was saluting him at the moment, inviting him to taste.
Chakotay beat him to it. The commander dropped to his knees and took the young Krenim into his mouth. Obrist gasped and staggered back onto the bed. Chakotay followed him, somehow managing to keep his grip on the young officer.
Tom stared. Watching his lover work on Obrist’s cock was incredibly arousing. Tom’s hand went to his own erection. Obrist’s face contorted. Words came from him that the universal translator could not completely decipher. He pumped into Chakotay’s mouth, shrieking. The sound and sight were enough to send Tom completely over the edge himself; he shot all over Obrist’s chest. Chakotay grunted; Tom could hear the smacking sound the big man’s lips made as he sucked the life fluid from the young Krenim. Obrist writhed in ecstasy; eventually his thrashing separated him from Chakotay. Tom bent down and covered Chakotay’s mouth with his own. The two humans shared the spicy, exotic taste of Krenim semen mixed with their own saliva. Finally they broke for air.
"Spirits," gasped the commander.
Tom could hardly think straight enough to form any words. His head spun. He clutched Chakotay’s shoulders for support.
A moan came from the bed. "More -- please. Inside me."
Tom and Chakotay looked up. Obrist’s brown eyes stared back at them. They glowed with desire. His cock was still fully at attention.
The humans exchanged one brief smile. Krenim recovery time was certainly quick.
Chakotay stood up, went to the closet, and pulled out a small jar. He opened it and smeared some of the contents onto his fingers. It was some kind of buttery substance that the Krenim used to flavor food, but it also doubled as a nice lubricant for situations like this.
Obrist watched him from the middle of the bed. The young officer, realizing what Chakotay was doing, broke into a rare smile. Chakotay grinned back at him.
Tom pulled himself onto the bed. Gods, those pheromones would not quit. He traced a finger down the Krenim’s chest. Obrist caught his hand and placed the finger in his mouth, sucking on it while staring into Tom’s eyes.
Chakotay watched the younger men while slowing spreading ointment onto his ever-hardening cock. They were beautiful together, and, strangely enough, he did not feel any jealousy. His love for Tom was strong and secure. As if reading his thoughts, Tom glanced in his direction and gave him a smile so sweet that Chakotay felt sudden tears rush to his eyes.
He laid down carefully on the bed, rolling Obrist nearly to his stomach, and began to caress the Krenim’s buttocks. Obrist moaned slightly and opened his legs. Chakotay gently worked one finger into the narrow hole. Obrist drew in his breath; Chakotay hesitated. Tom caressed the young man’s shoulders and chest. As the Krenim officer relaxed, Chakotay eased first one, then two, then three fingers inside his anus.
Tom was kissing Obrist again, making his way down the smooth chest. Chakotay pulled up, rolled Obrist toward him slightly, and pushed his swollen member into the opening. Obrist grunted. Chakotay took his time, enjoying the wonderful tightness and warmth. Tom had made his way to Obrist’s cock and had it in his beautiful mouth now; Chakotay could just see what the pilot was doing, and it was just about driving him insane. For just one crazy moment, the commander felt as though his cock was going all the way through Obrist, out the other side, and being sucked on by Tom Paris.
He closed his eyes, trying to hold back, but the sights and sensations of the past few minutes were just too overwhelming, and he began to pump into Obrist’s ass. Obrist cried out some more untranslatable words -- perhaps an homage to some Krenim god or another -- and bucked against him. Tom continued to suck away, and finally Obrist shrieked and emptied himself into the pilot’s mouth. That did it. Chakotay exploded, shooting wave after wave into the young officer. He heard himself whimpering and felt his body collapse on top of Obrist. His consciousness held on by a thread.
Tom released Obrist’s cock, raised himself up, and caressed Chakotay’s hair. "Gods..." was all the commander managed to mumble. Tom chuckled weakly, though he was as hard as a rock again.
Obrist stirred beneath the commander. Chakotay pulled himself gently out and wrapped his arms around the young Krenim. Obrist’s chest heaved and his skin glistened with sweat. His eyes were down to slits. Tom chuckled again. Given the fact that Obrist had been holding out for two hundred years, it was a miracle that they hadn’t killed him.
But wait a second here. The Krenim’s eyes opened again.
"Not -- complete -- yet. Must have you, Tom Paris."
"By mouth -- if you prefer."
Tom looked at Chakotay. The commander smiled and nodded, completely satiated for now.
"All right," said the lieutenant, rolling onto his back. Obrist sprang up. Chakotay marveled at his endurance. Obrist kissed Tom’s nipples, biting them gently into hard little nubs. Tom ran his hands through the Krenim’s thick black hair. Obrist quickly made his way toward Tom’s straining erection. Tom turned his head toward Chakotay. The commander rolled over and brushed his lips against the pilot’s. Again, the spicy irresistible taste of Krenim semen. Gods, he loved this man so much. So much that, unbelievably, he was hard again. Of course, the sight of Obrist working on Tom’s cock might have something to do with that also.
He grasped himself. Tom noticed.
"Let me suck you," he whispered.
Chakotay pulled himself up to a kneeling position and bent over Tom. The pilot’s lips closed over the commander’s erection. Oh, spirits. From a tight ass to a wet mouth -- the wonderful mouth of the man he loved. Tom sucked the commander hard, in rhythm with what Obrist was doing to him.
Faster than he could have believed possible, Chakotay was on the brink again. He glanced at Obrist, who had Tom deep in his throat, and totally lost his senses. At the same moment, Tom came, shouting and losing his grip on the commander’s cock. Chakotay shot all over Tom’s face. Obrist, though, maintained his hold on Tom.
What happened next would be difficult for Chakotay and Tom to describe afterwards. As the commander and the pilot climaxed simultaneously, they seemed to enter into an altered consciousness. Their souls, their essences, merged together for several glorious moments. Neither could tell where he ended and the other began. And, just as soon as they were getting used to the experience, the real world snapped into place around them again.
Chakotay collapsed onto the bed, his body completely spent. Tom’s eyes had rolled back in his head; he flirted with "le petit mort" again before winning the battle -- barely.
Obrist disengaged himself from Tom and crawled up the bed, placing an arm on either of the two humans.
"I thank you both -- Tom and Chakotay," the young Krenim said solemnly. "You have given of yourselves to me, and I will now fulfill my agreement with you. I will assist you against Annorax."
He bent down and kissed each of the humans lightly on the mouth. "I go now to speak with my colleagues who feel as I do. When we have a plan, I will instruct you on your responsibilities. I will not return to your quarters again. It is clear to me that your bodies and souls are one, and I will no longer intrude. Perhaps, when my task here is done, somehow I will find Liena and share my love with her."
The young Krenim slid off the bed and headed for the shower. "I must wash or the others will sense my mating emanations and become distrustful. You must also remove all evidence of our activity." He directed this last at Chakotay, who appeared the more alert of the two humans at the moment. The commander managed a small nod in return.
"Very well. I will speak with you at the midshift meal. Again, I thank you for sharing yourselves with me. Your species has a great capacity for love. I am glad that Annorax will no longer have the ability to destroy you, if our plans are carried out."
With one last wistful glance, Obrist stepped into the shower room.
Chakotay took Tom into his arms and held him tightly.
Chakotay was dreaming.
He was in a shuttlecraft. Tom Paris was piloting -- goofing around with the controls, laughing, playing the hotshot.
The shuttle came under attack. Shields were useless. Weapons were not working. A blast from the enemy opened a huge hole on Tom's side of the ship. Tom was pulled out of his seat by the sudden decompression. Chakotay dived for him and grasped his hand just in time. Tom was still laughing.
Cold. Space was so cold. His hand went numb. He couldn't feel Tom anymore. But he could see him, slowly floating off into space.
"NOOOO!" screamed Chakotay. He tried to move, to follow after Tom, but he was rooted to the spot. And cold. Frigid.
The commander's eyes flew open. His heart leaped uneasily in his chest. It took him a few seconds to realize where he was.
Damn, he was cold. Well, no wonder. Tom had stolen most of the blankets and wrapped them around himself like a cocoon. Chakotay tugged at them gently, not wanting to wake his lover up, but Tom only mumbled and tightened his grip. Chakotay sighed, reached out a hand, and stroked the soft blond hair.
"You took all of the covers."
"Hmmm?" The pilot turned his head. "Oh, sorry, Cha." He shifted his position. Chakotay gratefully spread the freed blankets over himself, then curled up against Tom's back, his left arm encircling Tom's chest. Tom picked up his hand and kissed it. "You *are* cold, big man."
"Cold hands, warm heart."
"You can say that again." Tom rolled over. "Last night was -- amazing."
"That's putting it mildly."
"You okay with what happened? I mean -- I never thought Obrist...."
"He was lonely, Tom -- incredibly lonely. If you think about it, what he did with us is not that much different from what I did with you in the beginning."
"You think he'll keep his promise to help us?"
"Yes, I do."
Tom was silent for a moment. "Cha -- this is going to sound strange..."
"What is it?"
"Well -- I know a lot of last night was about hormones and pheromones, but you know something? I love the guy anyway. In another time and place, we could be best friends and lovers. All three of us. I know that sounds stupid..."
"No, it doesn't, Tom. I feel the same way. I feel -- bonded to him somehow. But at the same time I love you as much as I ever have. More, even."
Tom bent down, kissed the commander's mouth. Chakotay responded. Tom moved against him, and Chakotay felt the head of the pilot's erection dig into his thigh. He broke the kiss and chuckled in astonishment.
"I can't believe you're ready for more after what we just went through last night."
"That's easy," replied Tom, reaching down to Chakotay's groin. "I just can't get enough of you, big man. Now just relax and let Tommy boy do all the work...."
The morning went by slowly. Chakotay decided to skip lunch and work on his temporal calculations in an empty conference room. He enjoyed the intellectual exercise, though he had long ago dismissed Annorax's claim of moral rightness in what he was doing to the timeline. In fact, the commander was eagerly anticipating the day when Annorax finally got what he deserved.
The door opened and Tom came in from his meeting with Obrist, looking flushed and excited.
"What kind of progress have you made?"
"I think we can trust him." Tom replied. "His plan makes sense, and he seems to have enough other potential mutineers in place. It should work. He says he'll give me access to their communications array. I can send a message to Voyager from the comfort of our own quarters."
"And the temporal core?"
"That's going to be a little trickier. With Obrist's help, I'm pretty sure I can disable it -- but not without setting off every alarm on this ship. We're only going to have one chance."
"It'll require precise timing. You and me working from within..."
"And Captain Janeway attacking from Voyager..." Tom hesitated. "That is, if the captain's still alive."
A pang went through the commander; old feelings resurfaced, if only briefly.
He spoke to reassure himself as much as Tom. "She's alive. Send the message. Transmit our coordinates."
"Done." Tom was already halfway out the door.
"And..." Chakotay called after him. Tom paused. "Give Kathryn my best."
Tom smiled in complete understanding, then left.
The job was easy -- ridiculously so. Obrist was a man of his word. It took Tom all of ten minutes to compose and send his message, along with his unique Starfleet encryption code.
Now all they had to do was wait.
Ten days passed with no response from Voyager. Tom asked Obrist to send the message again, but the young Krenim refused. "It can only be done once. If you make another attempt, Annorax will know."
More days passed. Tom began to despair. Chakotay again tried to reassure him that Voyager was still running and that the captain would get there as soon as she could. "She may not even have warp speed available. She'll get here, Tom. I know Kathryn. She won't give up, even if it kills her."
Although he was able to put up a brave front for Tom during the day, the nights were another matter. Chakotay's dreams continued to torment him; in almost all of them Tom was torn away from him in one way or another, and there was always the terrible cold. He would wake up with a start. He had not talked with Tom about these nightmares; the lieutenant was already worried enough.
Obrist kept his distance from Tom and Chakotay. He would play *kraknar* with Tom but only in a room with other Krenim present. Chakotay often caught the young officer staring wistfully at them when they were together. His heart would pound with the memory of the evening the three of them had shared. He didn't suppose he would ever experience anything like that again.
Tom clung to him a little longer after their lovemaking. "Cha...I never want to lose you, no matter what happens."
Chakotay kissed him and stroked his hair. "I will always be with you, love."
On the fiftieth night after Tom had sent his message, Chakotay was startled awake by a particularly intense nightmare. He shivered and reached for Tom, but felt only emptiness.
Panic seized him. "Tom! Spirits, where are you?"
"TOMMM!" He was practically screaming.
The door to the lavatory flew open, and Tom scrambled out. "I'm here! What is it, Cha? What’s wrong?"
"Oh, gods, Tom -- I thought you were gone." The commander was nearly in tears.
"Just a dream, Cha. Just a dream." Tom cuddled Chakotay, kissed each cheek. They fell back onto the bed. Tom held the commander tightly.
"Love you always, Cha...."
After finishing his breakfast, Chakotay stood up, intending to head for the bridge with his latest round of temporal calculations. Tom lingered behind. "Think I'll have an extra cup of tea."
Alarms began to ring throughout the timeship. Krenim crew members sprang to their feet and went to their stations.
Tom and Chakotay looked at each other. Something was different this time. It wasn't just another incursion.
"The ship is under attack," the commander said quietly.
Tom nodded. "It *has* to be Voyager."
"You know what to do."
"I've been rehearsing this for weeks, Cha." Tom got up. "I can do it in my sleep."
Chakotay nodded. "I'll go to the bridge."
"I love you."
"I love you, too, Tom. We'll be together soon -- on our own ship."
Tom bit his lip. "You be careful." He turned quickly away, but not before Chakotay saw tears in the blue eyes.
The commander moved quickly to the bridge, meeting Annorax at the door. Obrist was at his station.
"Sir, six vessels are approaching our position."
"Identify," ordered Annorax.
"Three Nihydron warships, two Mawasi cruisers....and Voyager." The young officer looked significantly at Chakotay as he said this.
Chakotay turned to look at a nearby tactical screen. Sure enough, the familiar Starfleet emblem blinked back at him. It was a welcome sight.
Annorax was unimpressed. "We're outside space-time, impervious to their weapons. Let them come."
"I know Captain Janeway," said Chakotay. "She wouldn't be attacking unless she knew she could do some damage."
His eyes moved to Obrist. The young Krenim was ready. Chakotay nodded, almost imperceptibly. But it was enough. Obrist began to work his control panel.
Chakotay's words seemed to have an effect on Annorax. The Krenim captain hesitated. Chakotay plunged. "If she's given the other ships temporal shielding, they've undoubtedly informed their home worlds. They'll be able to protect their planets against your weapon."
Annorax considered this for a moment, then made his decision. "Bring the weapon to full power," he ordered Obrist. "Stand by for multiple incursions. We'll have to disable their temporal shields first; make the necessary calculations."
Obrist looked at Chakotay again, then moved to comply -- but not too quickly.
Tom fussed over the console in his quarters. It flashed on. "Good work, Obrist." He began to tap the controls with a vengeance.
The Nihydron vessels were attacking. The timeship shook slightly.
"Condition?" asked the Krenim captain.
"No damage," replied Obrist. "Temporal core is stable."
"Return fire," said Annorax. Obrist complied, shaking his head at Chakotay. Tom wasn't done yet.
The Nihydron ships disintegrated.
"Target the other vessels," ordered Annorax.
Obrist did not move. He looked at Chakotay.
Annorax spun in his chair. "Obrist, I said target the other vessels."
Obrist continued to stare at Chakotay. Suddenly the commander realized that Obrist was saying goodbye in the only way he could. His heart went out to the young man.
Obrist broke the contact and returned to his console.
Lights flashed; alarms rang out.
"You're deactivating the temporal core!" shouted Annorax.
"I'm sorry, sir. It's over." The pain in Obrist's voice went straight to Chakotay's soul. The young Krenim punched some more controls, and Chakotay felt the all too familiar sensation of dematerializing....
Tom sweated over his console. Damn, this wasn't going nearly as well as he had hoped.
"Hang on, Captain...."
There, that did something. His efforts were rewarded with flashing lights and Krenim klaxons.
"Gonna knock you out for a good long time," he muttered, before the transporter beam caught him....
....and deposited him on a strange, dark, smelly vessel. Tom wrinkled his nose as he materialized. "What the..."
Chakotay appeared beside him and gagged after taking a breath. Neither could see three feet in front of him.
"Welcome to the Mawasi ship Gesila," came a gravely voice. "I am Firtan. You are Pah-ris and Sha-go-tay?"
"Yes," Tom replied, coughing.
"Commander! Tom!" Footsteps raced toward them, and Neelix grasped each man by the arm. "You're alive!"
"Neelix," said Chakotay weakly. "It's good to see you -- I think." He could barely make out the Talaxian in the foggy ship's atmosphere.
"Mr. Neelix," said another familiar voice. "Give the commander and Mr. Paris the appropriate atmospheric adapters, quickly. We are still under attack by the Krenim."
"Right away, Mr. Vulcan."
Chakotay felt Neelix press something into his hands. It was some kind of mask. He put it on. The improvement was remarkable. Not only could he breathe, but he could now see everything around him. He assisted Tom with getting his own mask on, as the younger man seemed somewhat worse off.
The commander squeezed his shoulders. "Good work, Lieutenant."
Tom smiled, but wasn't sure Chakotay could see it through the mask.
An alien approached the two men; they quickly realized it must be Firtan, the Mawasi who had welcomed them aboard. "You must be seated. The Krenim will attack." Firtan indicated two chairs near the rear of the bridge. Tuvok stood at a nearby tactical station.
"Mr. Tuvok, it's good to see you," the commander said as he secured himself.
"Commander," acknowledged the Vulcan. "I am afraid I cannot return the compliment."
Chakotay had forgotten. Tuvok had been blinded months ago. "I'm sorry, Tuvok."
"Nonetheless, sir, it -- pleases me to have you and Mr. Paris on board."
Chakotay grinned. So much for Vulcans lacking emotion.
Tom hesitated. "Maybe I can help out somehow."
"All stations are manned," said Tuvok. "Please fasten yourselves in. Although the temporal weapon has been disabled, the timeship has considerable conventional firepower remaining."
Tom sat down. Chakotay clasped his arm briefly.
"The Krenim ship attacks!" said one of the Mawasi.
Dozens of energy bursts were approaching from the Krenim ship. The impacts were sudden and violent. One of the other Mawasi vessels was struck hard and swerved toward Voyager.
"Spirits..." breathed Chakotay.
The damaged Mawasi ship raked across Voyager's hull. Both Tom and Chakotay winced at the sight.
"Damn!" Tom shouted. "Those bastards!" His cry was lost in the confusion on the Gesila's bridge. Mawasi were shouting at each other.
"We have lost weapons," said Tuvok grimly.
Tom looked bleakly at Chakotay. After all this, they were going to die.
The communications system crackled. "Janeway to Tuvok."
She was still alive! Chakotay's heart leapt. He clutched Tom's arm. "We are still here. However, I must report that all our ships have been disabled. Do you have weapons?"
"Negative. Torpedo launchers are down. I'm setting a collision course." Even through the static, Chakotay could hear the exhaustion and pain in Kathryn's voice. "Janeway to the fleet. Take your temporal shields off line."
"Captain, we won't be protected."
Tom stared at Chakotay. //Is she crazy?//
"Exactly." The captain went on. "If that ship is destroyed, all of history might be restored. And this is one year I'd like to forget."
//Not all of it!// screamed a voice in Tom's head.
"She can't do this!" he said aloud.
Chakotay closed his eyes. Dear, gallant, brave Kathryn. Doing what must be done.
"There's no other way, Tom."
"There *has* to be! Cha, if she rams that ship, we're all going to disappear! Don't you get it? No more *us*! It'll be like we never existed." Tom was crying now, all notions of protocol chased from his mind.
"Tom." Chakotay grabbed his arm, turned Tom's shoulders to face him. "Listen to me. Listen very carefully. We don't have a lot of time. Don't panic. It will be all right. I know it will. If there's anything I've learned in my lessons with Annorax, it's that the cosmos is full of possibilities. There are millions of Toms and Chakotays out there and I can't believe that they won't be together one way or another. It's our destiny, Tom. We were meant to join. Believe it. This timeline will end, but many more go on. Let's give those other men a chance."
He bore his eyes into Tom's as hard as he could. Damn, he couldn't touch his face because of these masks.
"I love you, Tom Paris. For now, and for all time."
Tom's eyes were streaming.
"I trust you, Chakotay. I love you." He pulled the commander to him. "Hold me. Hold me -- until it's all over."
Chakotay squeezed his lover close.
Voyager staggered toward the Krenim timeship, directly into the vital temporal core.
The two men breathed together.
"Always, Tom. Never forget..."
"Cha, I won't..."
There was a bright flash as Voyager disintegrated into the side of the timeship.
Just as quickly, everything went black.
In an underground cavern on the Ocampa homeworld, a stairway collapsed.
Two humans, seventy thousand light-years from home, clung desperately to the rails. One had a broken leg. He glared at the younger man above him.
His would-be savior smirked. "You'd rather die than let me rescue you."
"Fine, be a fool," snarled Chakotay. "At least I'll have the pleasure of watching you go with me."
Tom Paris reached for him anyway, but the shifting of his weight was the last straw. The stairway came apart from the wall and tumbled downward, taking both humans with it. Skin tore, bones cracked, and screams were torn from two dying throats.
The Ocampans found them three days later, lying side by side, Tom's arm thrown protectively over Chakotay's chest even in death. The gentle people, moved by the sacrifice of the strangers from the other end of the galaxy, buried them together with the traditional rituals.
On a space station near the Necrit Expanse, Administrator Bharat pronounced his sentence.
"Chakotay and Paris of Voyager, you have been found guilty of consorting with known drug traffickers. Your punishment is fifty years in cryo-stasis."
"Like hell!" hollered Tom.
"I demand to speak with my captain," said Chakotay.
"Denied. Your sentence will be carried out immediately."
"Fuck you!" screamed Tom. "We never bought drugs! We turned him down. You *have* to believe us!"
"Tom." The commander put a hand on the pilot's arm.
Tom looked wildly at Chakotay. "This *can't* be happening."
Bharat's guards shoved both men into an adjoining room. Bharat spoke once more.
"Have you anything to say before the sentence is carried out?"
Tom spit at him. Chakotay was silent.
"Very well. Prepare the first chamber for Mr. Paris."
"Shit," Tom breathed. He had never been so frightened. It wasn't supposed to end this way. He was supposed to grow up and die an old man in bed.
The guards forced him into the stasis chamber. He turned and faced Bharat defiantly, ready to hurl more epithets at him, but then his eyes fell on Chakotay.
"Tom, I want to say one thing."
"Thank you. Thank you....for saving my life on Ocampa." A tear was rolling down the commander's cheek.
Tom stared at him. "Wish I had another miracle up my sleeve now."
Chakotay nodded. The guards had finished strapping Tom in to the device.
"Chakotay," Tom said quickly. "I'm sorry for all the times I was such a bastard to you. I didn't mean it half the time."
The corners of Chakotay's mouth turned up, just a little. "I forgive you."
Tom swallowed hard. "See you in fifty years." The door was closed, and the guards were dragging Chakotay into his little prison. He did not resist; they were heavily armed.
Instead he prayed.
"Activate the cryogenic sequence," ordered Bharat. His assistants obeyed. The machines hummed; the chambers filled with anesthetizing gas.
"Sir! Their lifesigns are becoming unstable!" cried a medic.
"What!" exclaimed Bharat.
"It must be their alien physiology," the medic said. "You must stop the sequence now or they will die."
Bharat hesitated. He had never reversed a sentence; his draconian justice system had kept order on the station for many years, and he wasn't about to change it. However, once the captain Janeway found out what he had done, things could get difficult.
"Reverse it!" Bharat said harshly.
The guards rushed to obey, but it was too late. Chakotay and Paris were dead.
Bharat cursed. "We must dispose of the bodies. Janeway must never find out what happened."
Someone suggested throwing them into the waste incinerator.
The second sun was going down. Tom Paris threw another log on the fire. His companion stood and stretched.
"I'm going to turn in."
"All right. I'm not tired yet. Think I'll stay up awhile."
Chakotay's smile could barely be seen in the dim firelight. "Not too late, now. We have a lot of work to do on the cabin tomorrow."
"I'll be ready."
"Good night, Tom."
"Good night." Tom watched Chakotay walk stiffly toward the artificial shelter that had been their home for three weeks. After Voyager had been destroyed by the Krenim timeship, Obrist, the alien first officer, had persuaded his captain to allow Tom and Chakotay to settle on an uninhabited planet of a binary star system. Annorax had even been willing to part with some survival materials, including a replicator and a small shelter.
And Tom had to admit that he had picked them a nice little planet. Not a bad place to spend the rest of his life. And he wasn't alone. He could think of worse people to be stuck with than Chakotay. It wasn't too long ago that he couldn't stand to be in the same room with the man.
Now they were friends -- by necessity at first, but now by choice.
He still missed Harry, B'Elanna, Captain Janeway, Neelix -- even Tuvok. What a damn shame. Dying so far away from home -- with no one to mourn them except himself and Chakotay.
But there was nothing he could do about it now.
He stared up at the sky. Sunsets here were spectacular -- pinks, oranges, even greens that one never saw on Earth. Obrist had assured him that the weather on this planet would be mild most of the year, with gentle winters and warm summers. They were in summer now. Chakotay had decided that they should build a cabin in addition to their shelter, just in case it did get cold. It was hard work, but Tom found it therapeutic; it kept his mind off of his losses.
After all, was he really any worse off than he had been before? Food, shelter, companionship -- his basic needs were being met. And no pressures of piloting a starship.
He sighed. Maybe he was a little more tired than he had thought. He dumped some water on the fire, made sure it was out, and walked into the shelter.
He undressed quietly and slipped into his bed. Chakotay was already sound asleep across the room.
He closed his eyes; slumber was nearly upon him when the sound started again. Chakotay was snoring.
"Damn," Tom said aloud, and dragged himself out of bed. He gave Chakotay a nudge; the commander muttered and rolled over.
"Every friggin' night." Tom shook his head, staring down at the other man. But he wasn't angry. His tone was almost....affectionate.
Stardate 51252.3. Voyager sped through the Delta Quadrant, four years into its journey home.
At the conn, Tom Paris shifted in his seat. Something was wrong, and he couldn't figure out what it was. Last night he and B'Elanna had had a terrible argument. Of course, they did make up afterwards. And making up with B'Elanna was kind of fun. But today he hadn't woken up feeling fresh and alert like he usually did after a night with the engineer.
And, face it, this part of space was boring as hell.
"When can you bring it on line?" the captain was asking.
Seven of Nine replied, "We just did."
Harry added, "In fact, we're in the process of charting a new course home."
"I'd say this is cause for celebration," said the captain.
Tom had just figured out that they were talking about the new astrometrics lab, when Tuvok spoke from his station.
"A vessel is approaching off the port bow."
"On screen," said Janeway.
Something itched at the back of Tom's mind. Damn, something about that ship looked familiar.
"They're hailing us," said Harry.
"Open a channel," ordered the captain.
A humanoid face appeared on the viewscreen. Tom stared.
"You've entered Krenim space. State your identity."
"Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager. We're just passing through, trying to get home."
"This region is in dispute," said the Krenim. "I suggest you avoid our territory."
Tom shook his head sharply. What was so damned familiar about this guy? The itching in his mind grew worse.
"Thanks for the warning," said the captain.
"Good journey," the Krenim said pleasantly, and broke the contact.
Tom sat back in his seat. He had to say something, but what? And to whom?
"Tom, plot a course around Krenim space," ordered Chakotay.
Something in the first officer's velvety voice was oddly comforting to Tom; he snapped back to the present. "Aye, sir."
"So what do you think?" Chakotay said to the captain. "How about a groundbreaking ceremony for our new lab?"
Janeway smiled at him. "Sounds great," Harry replied eagerly.
Tom could barely hear the captain's next words. "I think I'll replicate a bottle of Saint Emillion for the occasion. A 2370 -- I hear that was a good year."
"And...." Tom could hardly believe the words that were coming out of his mouth, "I would like to invite all of you to join me afterwards for the grand reopening at Sandrine's. I've missed beating you all at pool, and I could use the extra replicator rations."
"I'll take you on, Mr. Paris."
Tom turned in surprise. It had been Chakotay who spoke. The commander looked directly at Tom. His lips curved upward in a rare smile.
A jolt went through Tom; suddenly he felt a connection to Chakotay that he had never felt before. And never expected to.
//Hey, I *like* this guy. Even after all the shit we've been through.//
He nodded respectfully at his superior officer and turned back to his controls. The itching in his mind had stopped. All of a sudden, things looked better to him. He actually felt *happy.*
He grinned to no one in particular.
"I intend to give all of you the time of your lives."
[Author's Note: This is my "root" C/P story; from here I split my writing into two different universes. One is called "Time's Orphans" and follows the Tom and Chakotay who were stranded in the Delta Quadrant. The first story in this series is called "A Time to Mourn." Others will eventually follow. The other series is called "Delta Suite" and documents the two men in the psuedo-canonical universe that ended "Time Enough to Love." I have actually completed story number three in the suite ("Joyous Sounds") but want to go back to the first two before putting it up on the page. However, I will share it with anyone who asks; just send me a private e-mail at KiffScott@aol.com.]
Reviews - 0] | Table of Contents | - Text Size +