Title: One Foot in the Grave
Author: Kim Riley
Note: Part 5 of the Ruler of my Soul series.
"One Foot in the Grave"
Days had turned into weeks and they were no closer to catching the murder of Lt. John Carter then the day it all started. Every lead was a dead end and though rumors spread around the ship, there was no proof. Though most of the rumors dealt with Tom Paris being the one who did it.
Tom had dealt with the ugly rumors as best he could. He knew he didn't do it and wasn't sure who did, but he hoped that this matter would come to a close soon. Not because he couldn't take the harrassment, he was use to that, no this was keeping Chakotay very busy and he wanted to be with his mate.
They had agreed to keep things quiet, for obvious reasons. But their time together was severely hindered, either by the extra hours Chakotay had to put in on this case or the annoying crew that had decided to tail Tom and document his activities. He knew that Dalby had put these people up to this, in hopes of discovering something as to prove what he truly didn't do.
This situation was getting intolerable. He either would have to find out who did kill John Carter or get the matter dropped. He missed his mate, and he ached so bad for him, it was almost painful, just like it was on the planet.
If too much time went by between being with Chakotay, his body began to ache and burn just like it did on the planet when those creatures that started this whole thing attacked him. Not that he was complaining, for he did have the best male on the ship all to himself, but the need to be with him sometimes was too much to bare. It took all his restraint sometimes not to just grab the big man into an alcove and take him right there and then.
Of course, it was a bit easier knowing that Chakotay felt the same way. They were mates, and they needed to be together. The other holding the key to the other's existence. The ruler of the other's soul. It may have started as a deep seeded lust, but it had quickly surpassed that to an obsessed love. A love that was painful to keep in the dark.
Tom moved down the hall to the holodeck to join Harry and B'Elanna for a drink. He knew he was the topic of discussion by the sudden silence as he walked in. He turned up his charm, "Hey, don't stop talking on my account. Unless, it's on my account?" he smiled, knowing the answer to that question.
He joined Harry and B'Elanna, "I wish people would stop pointing the finger at me. I didn't do it. Granted, I may have wanted to if I had know what John was going to do, but I didn't know and I didn't do it!"
"I know, Tom. People are just…just upset. This has everyone on edge. I mean, Just thinking there is a killer on board…" Harry shivered.
"You know, this really could be totally blown out of proportion," Tom suggested.
"Oh? How so?" B'Elanna asked. "Johns dead. His neck was broken."
"True. But we're all assuming it was done on purpose. What if it was an accident and who ever did it panicked. They hid the body. Now with all the heat they're too afraid to come forward to admit it was an accident," Tom suggested.
"And that's suppose to make us feel better?" Harry asked.
"Well, think about it, Har. If it was an accident and someone did just panic than they aren't about to do anything like that again, now would they?"
"Well, you do have a point, but still…"
"Harry, don't let Tom mess with your mind," B'Elanna stated. "I know you didn't do it, Tom, but someone did. And I don't believe you stash a body all the way down there if is was 'just' and accident, panicked or not."
Tom had to concede to her point. "True, but it would still make everyone feel better and get them off my damn back."
"Once Tuvok and Chakotay get to the bottom of this…" Harry started.
"It's been weeks, Har. They are no closer to finding out who did it than the day they started. I may have an alibi by I'm still top of the ships suspect list. I have people following me around!" Tom stated in anger.
"You're kidding right?" B'Elanna asked. The look she got from Tom made her believe he wasn't kidding. "I'm sorry, Tom. I wish I knew what I could do to help."
"I know, B'El. But I'll just have to be patient. The Commander has been good enough to keep an eye on me," Tom said, knowing it was the cover they agreed on to explain why Chakotay and Tom spent so much time together.
"I'm surprised the two of you haven't killed each other," Harry teased.
"Not funny, Har." Tom stated, pointing out the poor taste behind Harry's statement. "Besides, we've managed to…get a long…swimmingly," he smiled. Get a long wasn't the word. They were together and they were in love, Tom just couldn't let anyone know.
"How about a game of pool?" Harry asked.
"I'll play Tom afterwards," B'Elanna said, sipping her drink.
"Why Tom?" Harry asked, a bit hurt.
"Because it's customary to play the winner," she smiled teasingly toward the young Ensign.
"That's right, Har. And we both know I'm going to wipe the table with you?" he smiled.
"Don't be so sure, Paris. I've been practicing a lot lately, and I have you know I've improved ten fold."
Tom laughed as he gave a wink to B'Elanna, "Then that'll put you one tenth of the way to catching up to me."
"Gentlemen, it's almost been three weeks. There must be something we overlooked?" Janeway asked.
"I have gone over everything at least three times, Captain. There is no evidence to indicate anyone on board had motive and access to Lt. Carter at the time of the murder. I am afraid to say, Captain that we are at a stand still."
"I have to concur, Captain," Chakotay stated. "Who ever did it, covered their tracks too well."
"I'm not buying it. Everyone makes a mistake, there has to be something we're missing. I hate to do this to you gentlemen, but I want you to go over everything again. I won't accept this situation as it is. There is a killer on board, I want them found," she snapped.
"Yes, Captain." Both men replied.
Again she asked Chakotay to stay after Tuvok left. She replicated a coffee for her and some tea for him, their routine simple and set. She sat on the couch, "I've been giving it a lot of thought about what we talked about last week," she said softly.
"Oh? What was that?" Chakotay asked, knowing there had been so many things they had discussed over the time.
"Relaxing some of the regulations. As much as I hate to do it, I see a point…to a degree. I want your opinion on removing the fraternization rule?"
"Just the fraternization regulation?" he asked easily.
"Give me a break, Commander. You can't expect me to just relax all the regulations over night, now can you? One at a time. This way we can deal with any repercussions that occur. Make sense?" Janeway asked, trying to not reveal her ulterior motive.
Chakotay sat there sipping his tea in silence, "I see what you mean. To lift the biggest rule first and then slowly make our way down the list. To…make things livable for us out here," he replied.
"Yes," she smiled. "What do you think?"
"I think, I think I agree," he said easily. "You can announce it during the next staff meeting. I'm sure the word will spread like wild fire minutes afterwards," he smiled.
"I'm sure," Kathryn chuckled. Then she sobered a bit. "Is Tom still in any danger?" she asked concerned.
"Yes. You said you were concerned for Tom and some unjustified repercussions from the crew. That's why you've been playing body guard?"
"Ah, yes," Chakotay stated, suddenly too calm for Janeway's taste.
"Chakotay? That 'is' why you are spending so much time with Tom isn't it?" She asked carefully.
Chakotay finished his tea and looked her straight in the eye, "Of course it is, Kathryn," he lied. But as soon as this case is over I'm sure I won't have to continue to baby sit the Lieutenant."
Janeway smiled, glad she was wrong about her suspicions. "Well, do you think that perhaps you could assign someone else to look after him, tomorrow night?" she asked, feeling her nerves beginning to shake. It had been a long time since she was the aggressor in a possible relationship.
"Perhaps, what's up?" he asked as he moved to take his cup back to the recycler.
"Oh, I just was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?" She held her breath, wondering what Chakotay would say or do. He could be pleased, he could be annoyed and say she was using her motives to sway her decision. That would be partly the truth, that and what Chakotay said made a lot of sense. Plus, he was too sexy to keep ignoring for seventy years and no matter what anyone thought, she wasn't made of stone.
Chakotay stood by the door ready to exit when he turned and smiled; "I'd love to, Kathryn. What time?"
"Say, 19:00 hrs?"
"That would be perfect. Till later," he said and left.
Janeway sat back and curled up on the couch. She couldn't help but feel like a schoolgirl just having made a date with the captain of the football team. She even giggled in her excitement.
"What do you mean you're having dinner with Kathryn?" Tom demanded. The very fact that Chakotay had said Kathryn and not the Captain made a world of difference.
"Just like I said, Tom. But don't have to worry. I'm only doing it so to keep her from getting suspicious, baby," he soothed as he hugged Tom and kissed his cheek.
"I don't like it. Your mine," he stated with anger.
"I know, Tom. But…"
"But nothing! She wants you and she can't have you!" Tom growled. "The bitch better back off…" Tom started to shout.
Chakotay had lost hold of Tom who was now pacing his quarters like a caged animal. Chakotay moved up behind Tom and wrapped his arms around him and started nuzzling his neck. "Tom, baby. I have to go. But nothing will happen, I promise."
Tom whirled around and faced Chakotay, "if she kisses you, I swear I'll kill her," he growled.
Chakotay laughed, "ooh, the jealous type are we?" he teased then leaned in and kissed Tom. "Don't worry, baby. No one gets these lips but you."
Tom smiled, "I want more than your lips," he grinned.
"Oh? And what more do you want?"
"All of you," Tom purred as he started to kiss down Chakotay's neck, opening the facets to his uniform jacket. "I want all of you, baby" he whispered. He then removed Chakotay's jacket and tossed it on the sofa as he continued his way down the strong chest, placing kisses wherever his mouth did go.
"Oh, Spirits, Tom!" he cried out as Tom's mouth kissed over the hardness building in his pants. He then pulled Tom to his feet and kissed him hard on the lips. Then in one swoop lifted Tom into his arms and carried him to the bedroom.
In seconds, both men found themselves without clothes as they touched, kissed, and caressed each other. The passion between them only more intense over their time together. Chakotay breathed in Tom's essence as he kissed the younger man deeply. It was like nectar to his soul as his body worshiped Tom's in every way.
Their joining was pure, and Tom accommodated Chakotay's large build easily. They felt made for each other. Their bodies melted together and their souls intertwined as they made love to each other. Their cries of passion were like music to the other and their climax a chorus of angels. When they laid next to each other, breathing in the other after their passion expressed, they felt safe, untouchable. The door chimed.
Chakotay froze as Tom sat up. "Computer, who is at my door?" Tom asked softly.
Lieutenant Commander Tuvok.
The door chimed again.
"Stay here," Tom said quickly as he jumped from the bed into the shower. He turned on the water and soaked his hair and his body and jumped out. He placed on his robe and grabbed a towel for his hair as he moved out of his bedroom, making sure the door was closed behind him.
"Enter," he said, drying his hair.
Tuvok walked in, "Ah, Lieutenant Paris. Forgive my intrusion. I did not know you were in the shower. How ever, I have come to question you once again in the matter of Lieutenant Carter's death."
Tom sighed, "This is really getting ridiculous, Tuvok. You've questioned me a dozen times already."
"I have only questioned you twice. Commander Chakotay questioned you at least once. That would be a total of three times, not a dozen." There was a pause. "However, Lieutenant, if now is a bad time. I can come back later."
"Fine. But if it's going to be just a repeat of the other…two times, how about we do it over lunch?" Tom smiled, giving his all to annoy the Vulcan.
"As you prefer, Lieutenant. I will meet you in my quarters at noon, for…lunch and to continue in this investigation," Tuvok said. "Good evening, Lieutenant." Then he left.
After the door to the front closed the bedroom door opened. "That didn't sound right?" Chakotay said as he moved up behind Tom, wrapping his arms around him. He wore his robe, which he brought here a while back.
"Tell me about it. I wonder…" Tom was saying as he turned around and then stopped in his tracks. His eyes locked on the couch.
Chakotay looked, his uniform jacket was there, laying where Tom had tossed it earlier. "Uh oh."
"We have a problem," Tom stated.
"We have a big problem," Chakotay agreed.
"You don't think he could have…overlooked it?" Tom asked, though he knew better.
"No, he saw it. And I don't think he bought your shower routine after that. The question is, will he go straight to the Captain about it or not?"
"What do you think she'll do?" Tom asked, more concerned for Chakotay then himself.
"Besides, fricassee me? I don't know. But whatever she may want to do. I won't let her separate us," he swore.
"No, she can't do that, can she," Tom said, his belief in his mate was strong as he hugged him. "I guess we'll just have to be prepared for the worst.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
"Come in," Janeway said as she laid down the report she was reading over. She saw Tuvok enter in. "What can I do for you, Commander?" she asked smiling.
"Captain. It is my duty to inform you that there is a major violation of Starfleet regulations occurring. I would handle the matter in accordance, but due to the delicacy of the situation and those involved, I thought it best to report this matter to use."
Janeway sat up; she didn't like the sound of this. "Should I contact Commander Chakotay?"
"That would not be prudent, since it involves the Commander. It would seem that he and Lieutenant Pairs are secretly engaged in an intimate relationship. Clearly a violation of the fraternization policy and those regulations concerning homosexual coupling." He raised an eyebrow at seeing the Captain pale at the news. "Are you all right, Captain?"
"Are you sure?" she asked, not raising her voice, fear it may crack.
"I am certain. I just left Lieutenant Paris's quarters. At first he attempted to sway my thinking he had just came out of the shower. But with the evidence of the Commander's uniform Jacket carelessly tossed on the sofa and the fact that Mr. Paris didn't smell of soap or shampoo, made the connection easy as to what activity he was engaged in," Tuvok replied.
"Since it is senior officers involved, I am under the impression you would want to handle this matter quietly."
"Yes, Tuvok. I would," Janeway replied softly. Then she pulled herself together. "Thank you, Commander for bringing this to my attention. I'll take it from here," she said and dismissed her head of security.
She moved from her desk and paced her office, not sure of what to make of this matter. //He said they were not involved! He looked me in the eye and said it! Could he have lied out right? After all these year? // She thought.
//Tom! He did something! I should of known he wouldn't back off. Poor Chakotay. Just what did that bastard do to him to force him into his bed? // Kathryn stopped pacing and rested her hand on her coffee mug. //Damn it, Kathryn! That's why he asked about relaxing the fraternization rules. He was lonely and that bastard Tom used it against him! //
The next thing she knew her coffee cup was flying across the room. "Damn you, Tom Paris! You want to play your perverted games, that's one thing. But you're not going to do them with my Chakotay!" Then with a few deep breaths she calmed herself. "Ensign Kim, start a scan for any M-class or inhabitable planets in the area."
"Aye, Captain." He said.
"Notify me at once," she said, then closed the channel. "There's more than one way to deal with the likes of you, Tom Paris."
TBC in "The Final Ruling"