In the event, uncertain whether Tom had been joking or not, Chakotay turned up at the pilot's quarters brandishing flowers, chocolates and wine. He took the lube too, just in case, but tucked it firmly away in the back pocket of his pants.
As soon as the doors opened, he took a deep breath. Tom had somehow exactly duplicated the ambiance that he himself had attempted on their first date. Before he had lost his nerve and changed his mind, of course.
Low lights, candles, low music and a table spilling over with a selection of his personal favourite delicacies. It must have cost Tom half of his monthly allowance, he decided, and it was that, more than anything, that convinced him that Tom was serious after all.
"For me?" Tom asked in wide-eyed surprise as he spotted Chakotay's laden arms.
"You shouldn't have," he purred, although he made short work of divesting Chakotay of the booty.
"And you shouldn't have done all this," Chakotay chided gently, gesturing at the table.
"You don't like it?" Tom asked nervously. "I checked your replicator account and they *are* your favourite foods."
Too touched by Tom's obvious effort to question the breach of protocol in accessing his private files, Chakotay pulled the pilot in for an affectionate hug.
"I love it, Tom, and they are my favourites, only I don't usually eat all of them in one sitting."
"Well, I didn't know which you'd prefer," Tom explained sheepishly.
"It must have cost you a fortune," Chakotay replied, in wonder at Tom's generosity, not to mention his obvious desire to please.
Tom just shrugged. It *had* cost a fortune and Harry was going to have to spend the next month eating Neelix surprise as a consequence. Still, Harry hadn't seemed to think it was too high a price for having bitten his ass, especially after he had pointed out that Chakotay *knew* Tom had spent the night with him.
He led Chakotay over to the table and offered him a glass of wine. It was heady stuff, thick, full-bodied and a full 14% since it wouldn't hurt to encourage Chakotay to let his hair down a little bit.
"This is very nice, Tom," Chakotay said in appreciation.
"Well, it's replicated, but it's not a bad imitation of the original," Tom replied. "I remembered it was a good year. The first pressing was so excellent that the Admiral filled half our cellar with the stuff. He bought so much that he didn't notice when I used to sneak the odd bottle. Not that I appreciated it at the time, to be honest. I think wine grows on you. Your taste buds change as you mature, don't they?"
Chakotay nodded nervously, feeling a little out-classed again by Tom's knowledge of expensive wine. Then, as Tom continued to speak, he finally understood what Tom was trying to say.
"I mean, when you're young you like sweet things and fast food," Tom was mumbling. "But then, one day, you grow up and realise that those things don't taste so good after all, and you want something with more substance and flavour. It's like wine, in a way. A cheap wine has to be drunk quickly because it soon loses its flavour and becomes bitter, but a really good wine only gets better as it matures."
"It gets body, and flavour, and –"
"When you learn to appreciate it you can't go back to –"
"TOM!" Chakotay finally roared.
"Huh? What?" Tom asked in complete bewilderment.
"Shut up," Chakotay purred, then before Tom's mouth could complete its pout, he leant in and kissed the sullen expression right off Tom's face.
When he finally drew back for breath and peered into the sparkling blue eyes, Tom grinned.
"Let's skip to dessert, huh?" Tom suggested, licking his lips and running his arms down Chakotay's broad back suggestively until he met the globes of Chakotay's firm ass. He paused, his eyes narrowed and then he grinned cheekily as he found the bulge in Chakotay's back pocket.
"Tell me, big guy," he drawled. "Is that lube in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?"
"I think you've broken it, Tom," Chakotay chuckled tiredly.
Tom pouted prettily, then smirked.
"Nah, the battery just needs recharging, I reckon," he replied, nuzzling back in to try again.
Chakotay's cock twitched in response to Tom's tongue but then collapsed back limply against his thigh.
Tom shrugged in defeat, crawled back up the bed and began to attack Chakotay's earlobes instead. Fortunately, Chakotay's stomach decided to take mercy on him and gave a loud rumble of protest.
"Oh, shit, I forgot all about your dinner, Chak," Tom gasped guiltily. "Stay right here, don't move, I'm coming right back."
Chakotay half-opened one weary eye to watch the undisputedly lovely sight of Tom's naked buttocks bouncing out of the room, and sighed heavily. He couldn't imagine moving ever again. He dozed off, only to be woken by Tom bouncing back on the bed with a laden tray.
"I'm too tired to eat, Tom," he murmured. "Anyway, it's too late."
Tom looked at him in horror.
"But, but I invited you to dinner, Chak. You've *got* to eat," he insisted firmly. "Just sit up and I'll feed you, okay? It'll be fun."
Chakotay gave a groan of resignation and hauled himself upwards until his back was supported by the pillows, then Tom straddled him, resting his ass on Chakotay's flaccid cock, before reaching for a piece of fruit, placing it between his teeth and leaning forwards to offer it to Chakotay.
Chakotay opened his mouth to accept the offering and Tom held onto it tightly until their lips met, before releasing it and settling back on his haunches to retrieve the next titbit.
It only took six mouthfuls before Tom's wriggling ass re-woke his cock.
Oh Spirits no, not again, he couldn't do it *again*, Chakotay groaned to himself.
Tom smirked as he felt himself poked in the backside.
"Hey, I was right," he sniggered. "All it needed was a recharge."
"Tom," Chakotay sighed, "Its four o'clock in the morning. We've got duty in less than four hours and I really need some sleep, honey."
"That's okay, you just lie back and relax and let me do the work this time."
"As I recall, you did the `work' the last three times," Chakotay replied with dry amusement.
"Yeah, but I'm still playing catch up, aren't I?" Tom replied with a cheeky grin as he lowered himself onto Chakotay's shaft with a groan of combined pleasure and pain.
He was raw.
Chakotay had fucked him so thoroughly and well the first four times that he had nearly made a hole in the mattress and driven Tom through it.
That Chakotay had even managed the next three erections had amazed him, but even if Chakotay had lost the ability to do anything about them, Tom had been loath to let their valiant effort to rise go unappreciated.
He had to admit to himself, however, that this final fuck was probably a fuck too far. He couldn't imagine himself sitting down again for a week.
He'd have to call into sickbay for a fresh regenerator before shift and maybe could take the opportunity to check whether it was physically possible for anyone to repeat Chakotay's stellar performance two nights running.
Regrettably there was probably a finite amount of cum in *any* guy's balls.
Only he had felt so damned *empty* every time that Chakotay had withdrawn that he hadn't been able to stop himself from using every trick in the book to get Chakotay hard again.
All too soon, Chakotay gave a muted roar and bucked under him. Tom's ass was already so full of lube and cum that he couldn't even feel this later ejaculation except through Chakotay's jerking movements.
Tom's own cock had gone on strike hours previously.
It didn't even twitch when Chakotay's final thrust sent a delicious shiver down his prostate, but mentally Tom orgasmed anyway. He collapsed on Chakotay's chest, almost weeping when he felt the cock soften and slide out of him, leaving him bereft.
Chakotay was already asleep, a crooked smile on his face. He looked pale and tired, and Tom felt oddly guilty even as he drew the blankets up over them both and snuggled into Chakotay's chest.
He lay there awake for a long time, too hyper to sleep even if his throbbing ass hadn't been burning like it had been ripped apart, and contemplated his next move.
Chakotay wasn't stupid, he figured. If he started making demands *too* quickly, Chakotay would figure his game. So it made sense to draw the *relationship* out, he decided.
The fact that Chakotay had turned out to be the best fuck of his life was irrelevant. *That* wasn't why he didn't want the relationship to end too quickly.
It wasn't as if Chakotay really meant anything to him, was it?
No, he was just playing it carefully, that was all, and if in the meantime the sex was hot, well, that was just the icing on the cake, wasn't it?
Yeah, that was it.
Just icing on the cake.
"He's killing me, Kathryn. It's a plot he's hatched up to speed his promotion up the command structure of Voyager," Chakotay moaned into his coffee.
Kathryn chuckled, leaning back in her seat as she looked at her second-in-command. Admittedly, Chakotay *did* look pretty exhausted. He also looked happier than she had ever imagined possible.
"Well, at least you'll die with a smile on your face, Chakotay. It's been almost a month, hasn't it?"
Chakotay dragged his eyes up from his coffee cup.
"Twenty-eight days, fourteen hours and," he checked the clock. "Thirty-two minutes. Not that I'm counting, of course," he added with a chuckle.
"Well, it's almost a record. Only B'Elanna lasted longer than this, Chakotay," Kathryn said encouragingly.
"Yes, but she's half-Klingon, and besides it wasn't her who needed the vitamin supplements," Chakotay answered miserably. "We never do anything else. He's insatiable, Kathryn. The minute we're alone, he rips his clothes off, sticks his ass in my face and that's it, a done deal. The rest of the evening just goes to hell."
"Well, that's not a bad thing, surely? Anyway, you could always say no," Kathryn pointed out.
Chakotay looked at her as though she had grown a second head.
"So, okay, I can understand why `no' wouldn't be in your vocabulary with a naked Tom in front of you. Hmmmmn. Maybe you should cut back on your dates instead. You don't *have* to see him every night he's off duty. It's always easier to resist temptation if it isn't right in front of your face," she suggested.
"I tried that, Kathryn. To tell the truth I encouraged him to keep seeing Harry and his other friends. The last thing I want to do is prevent him from having a normal social life. Although considering the hours he works in Sickbay, Monday through Wednesday, it's not surprising that we only have time for sex.
"He should be seeing his friends too, but we have so little time as it is that we don't waste time *doing* things together, we just sleep together, and he doesn't want to waste any of the time we *do* have by seeing anyone else. I know that's not healthy. I don't want to own him, Kathryn. Well, maybe I do, but I understand that someone like Tom needs his freedom. Trying to cage him would be as futile as trying to tame a wild bird."
"So you aren't insisting that your relationship is exclusive?" Kathryn asked in genuine surprise.
"It is for me, and I pray it is for him, but it's not something that I have any power over. All I can do is trust him and hope that he never lets me down. I don't think I could ever face that, Kathryn, even though I accept it as a possibility."
"Would you share him?"
"Never," Chakotay stated firmly.
"I can understand that, my friend, although perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing. It seems to me that there is enough of Tom to share and still be satisfied," Kathryn pointed out.
Chakotay laughed ruefully.
"Well, I guess you have a point sexually," he laughed. "Tom could probably keep a harem without anyone being dissatisfied. But that's not the point. Not for me anyway. I love him, Kathryn. It's not just a sexual thing. It's about trust and understanding. I just want our relationship to be *more* than sex and, oh damn, you know what I'm talking about.."
"Yes I do, and I understand. I just hope you have the energy to keep up with him, Chakotay, because I think that the sex is very important for Tom. Maybe even more important than the rest of the package."
Chakotay blew miserably into his coffee.
"I think you're wrong, Kathryn. I certainly hope so, anyway."
"So spill the beans, Tom," Harry demanded. "You've been seeing him for a month, sleeping with him for three weeks, how long is it going to take you, anyway?"
"Well, like I told you, Haz. I've got to take things slowly. I don't want him getting suspicious."
"Like you once said to me, Tom. There's slow and there's dead. It seems to me that you aren't trying very hard. I mean you name me *one* thing you've gained so far out of this relationship except a sore ass," Harry challenged.
Tom swallowed angrily. Shit, Harry was right. It *had* been a month and he still wasn't any nearer his original goal. To be perfectly honest, he hadn't even given it that much thought recently. His whole life had revolved around the helm and Chakotay's bed.
He simply couldn't get enough of that man.
Not that it was anything as stupid and sappy as love, of course. Nope, the truth was that Chakotay just happened to be the happy owner of the first cock that had proven to be the perfect fit.
Kind of like an X-rated version of Cinderella.
Only he could hardly say that to Harry, since Harry would only probably point out, quite rightly, that even the ugly sisters had had their own chance at fitting the shoe.
He could hardly tell Harry that he hadn't even thought about his original plan in weeks and that the only devious plots that currently filled his head were the ones that involved getting Chakotay's cock into his ass in the fastest possible time whenever they stole some time together.
No, he couldn't hurt Harry like that, he decided.
"As a matter of fact," Tom drawled. "I'm planning on my *first* move tonight."
"Really?" Harry asked excitedly.
"Yeah. Just wait until the Senior Staff Meeting tomorrow, and you'll see what I mean."
"You think you'll get your pip back that quickly?" Harry asked in surprise.
Tom shrugged nonchalantly.
"Nah, like I said, it's just my first move. You'll understand tomorrow."
As much as he had complained to Kathryn that his relationship with Tom seemed to start and end in the bedroom, when Tom finally arrived that night and *didn't* immediately strip off and head for the bedroom in his usual trail of discarded clothing, Chakotay was not only disappointed, but decidedly concerned.
Not only did Tom look pale and tired, but he just kissed Chakotay listlessly and then threw himself down onto the couch with a sigh.
"What's wrong, Tom?" he asked worriedly.
Tom attempted a brave smile.
"Nothing, Chak, honest. I'm just tired. Would you, umm, would you mind terribly if we, umm, didn't, well, if you just held me tonight?"
Chakotay leapt forwards and pressed his palm over Tom's brow. He certainly couldn't *feel* a temperature. He checked Tom's pulse. It *seemed* steady. He hurried to the bathroom and retrieved the medical tricorder and rushed back to Tom's side.
"What *are* you doing, Chak?" Tom asked irritably.
"I was just worried you were ill, Tom," Chakotay muttered sheepishly.
"I don't wanna be fucked, so I must have a fatal disease, you mean?" Tom spat furiously. "You DO think I'm a slut. Shit, I'm outta here."
He jumped to his feet, only to sway a little, his face draining of color.
Chakotay dropped the tricorder in panic. It obviously was malfunctioning because Tom obviously *was* ill, whatever it said.
"We're going to sickbay, Tom," he said firmly.
"Oh, yeah, like that will *really* help under the circumstances," Tom snapped bitterly.
"What circumstances, Tom? What is wrong?" Chakotay demanded frantically.
"Nothing, babe, honest. I'm sorry I snapped at you. Like I said, I'm just tired, that's all. It's Wednesday. I'm always tired on Wednesdays," Tom replied.
"You're working too hard, Tom. You've been pulling a double shift for months and then spending the nights with me. Of course you're tired," Chakotay soothed. Although it wrenched his heart to say it, he added, "maybe we shouldn't be seeing so much of each other, if it's wearing you out."
"It's not fair," Tom sobbed. "Everyone else has a real life. Why do I have to be different? Why can't we be together, Chak? It's not fair."
As Chakotay hugged the sobbing pilot, he suddenly realised that Tom was right. It *wasn't* fair. Why should Tom have to work two shifts just because no-one else could be bothered to learn the job of medical assistant?
Sure, in an emergency Tom's expertise was invaluable, but the rest of the time it was ludicrous that Tom spent 8 hours on the bridge and then a further 5 in sickbay, three nights a week.
"You're right Tom, it isn't fair. I'll speak to the Captain about it."
"You can't do that Chakotay. She'll think you're only doing it because we're together."
"No she won't Tom because it isn't favoritism. I agree that if we weren't going out together, I might not have noticed how much the shifts in Sickbay were taking out of you, but since I have noticed, I can hardly turn my back on the situation.
"You are Voyager's Chief Pilot, Tom. The safety of the whole ship depends on you being alert and at peak performance. Now I come to think about it, it's a stupid idea for you to pull a double shift three nights running every week. I can't even imagine how I came up with such a ludicrous schedule for you. Why didn't you ever say anything before?"
"It was after I got out of the brig," Tom whispered. "I thought it was part of my punishment."
"Maybe it was, Tom, but that was over six months ago. You served your time, got demoted, why the hell should you spend the rest of your life paying for one error of judgement?"
"It wasn't," Tom couldn't help himself saying, even if it destroyed his carefully built ground work.
"What?" Chakotay asked.
"It wasn't an error of judgement. I did the right thing. I'd do it again," Tom confessed quietly.
Tom's admission rocked Chakotay to the bone. It also warmed his heart that Tom trusted him enough to say it.
"I'm glad you still feel your actions were worth the price you had to pay, Tom, but the punishment is over. Here and now. From now on you only attend Sickbay for medical emergencies, not duty shifts."
"The Captain won't like it, Chak. I don't want you to fall out with her over me. It's not important."
"It IS important. You are important. The Captain will understand."
"One other order of business," Kathryn announced to the command staff.
"I have decided that despite Tom's invaluable experience as a medical assistant, his duties as Chief Helmsman must take priority, so I want you all to give some serious thought to any of your staff who show medical aptitude. It's time that we found a permanent assistant for the Doctor and as short-staffed as we are, we need to find someone in the lower-ranks for the position."
Harry's eyes swivelled in disbelief between the Captain and Tom.
Tom's innocent expression didn't fool him for a moment.
Obviously *this* was what Tom had referred to as his "first move."
He was impressed.
He was also ecstatic, because maybe Tom would now get on with the program.
Tom 1: Chakotay 0
Tom stood in the Observation Lounge, staring out at the stars with unseeing eyes.
"What are you thinking, Tom?" Chakotay whispered into his ear, his strong arms wrapped protectively around Tom's chest.
Tom sighed miserably and leant back into his embrace.
"I was just thinking how much I love you, Chakotay," he replied.
Chakotay sighed with contentment
"Funnily enough, Tom Paris. I was thinking the same thing about you," he said, nuzzling into the back of Tom's neck, oblivious to the tears that were slowly running down Tom's cheeks from eyes dull with shame.
"I feel guilty," Chakotay said softly.
"Guilty?" Tom repeated nervously.
"That I'm enjoying myself so much with you tonight."
"Because I should really be working, huh?" Tom demanded.
"No, because you should be resting. That was the whole point of my changing your shifts, Tom. It wasn't so I could spend more time with you. At least I hope it wasn't," Chakotay added worriedly, as he wondered whether his decision to talk to Kathryn against Tom's own wishes had indeed been motivated by personal greed.
He had certainly reaped the benefits of the decision over the last couple of weeks. Now he was no longer constrained by his heavy schedule, Tom had adjusted his life around Chakotay's own gruelling timetable so that although they now only saw each other every *other* night, they now spent quality time together.
Their relationship had moved on from mere mindblowing sex to genuine companionship. They shared private holodec time, visited the resort together, attended the gym arm in arm or simply watched Tom's collection of old vids *before* the sex now.
Tom flushed hotly in the sudden silence between them.
"Spending time with you *is* resting for me, Chakotay. When I'm with you, everything else just becomes irrelevant."
"That's another thing I feel guilty about, Tom. You aren't seeing Harry any more. He's your friend. You should make an effort to spend time with him."
"I'd rather be with you," Tom replied firmly.
"I'm glad to hear it, but even so, you *are* neglecting him. He sat with me in the Mess Hall this lunchtime, while you were helping B'Elanna with those adjustments to the Port Nacelle. I said he looked tired and he said that he was just depressed because he's lonely. He's obviously missing the way you and he used to spend time together."
Fuck. What the hell was Harry playing at? He saw Harry all the time. Ever since he had done his `swooning with tiredness' routine, Chakotay had started to put his foot down and send him home at midnight whenever he had an early shift the next day.
Since Tom *never* slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night, he had been going to Harry's for a couple of drinks every night on his way back to his own quarters. *That* was why Harry looked tired.
"So," Chakotay continued. "Since Harry inadvertently reminded me of how much I am monopolising your time, I changed his shift so that he's off-duty tomorrow. You can both spend some time together."
Tom's mouth gaped open.
"But tomorrow was supposed to be *our* day, Chakotay," Tom protested.
"I know Tom, but because Jackson volunteered to take over in Sickbay, it's left a vacancy for an Ensign's position in Astrometics and I have still got two dozen crew evaluations to complete before we can make the decision about the promotion."
"So, it's because of me that you can't take the day off, after all?" Tom asked miserably.
"Of course not, Tom. It was my idea to relieve you of Sickbay duties. It's not your fault that it has created some paperwork problems. Anyway, like I said, you'll have fun with Harry. It will do you good. Harry's booked holodec 2 for you both. He said he thought it was time that Captain Proton saved the galaxy, or something."
"Yeah, great. Thanks Chakotay," Tom mumbled, wondering what Harry was going to look like with Captain Proton's rocket-pack rammed up his ass.
"You little weasel," Tom spat.
Harry grinned unrepentantly.
"Yeah, well I learnt from the best, didn't I?"
Tom's mouth quirked, despite himself. Harry was right. *He* would have done exactly the same thing in Harry's place. Even so, he had been looking forward to having a whole day off with Chakotay for weeks.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Hang on a minute, Haz. I know I didn't pay for this holo-time, and your ration account was wiped out when I arranged that dinner for Chakotay. So how the hell did you book this program?"
"I didn't," Harry replied smugly. "Chakotay paid for it. He said he felt so guilty about having to cancel his day off that he would pay for whatever we both wanted to do together."
"Chakotay paid?" Tom asked in a dangerously quiet voice.
"Yeah," Harry laughed. "I've got to hand it to you. You're a class act, Tom. I mean you tricked him into getting you out of Sickbay duties, which meant he had to bring the whole crew evaluation schedule forward three months, and now he's so far behind on his work that he has had to cancel his own day off, and *he* felt so guilty about it that he paid me to entertain you for the day."
Harry was laughing so hard that he didn't immediately notice the color draining out of Tom's face at his words.
"So, now you've got him twisted around your little finger, how long do you think it's going to take to get your pip back?" Harry asked.
"I, um, I don't know, um, I, I," Tom stuttered, as an unexpected wave of nausea swept though him.
"Hey, you alright Tom? You look awful!" Harry exclaimed.
"I, um, I feel sick, something I ate, I'll, um," Tom pressed his hand to his mouth, turned and ran for the arch.
"I told Neelix not to put grated leola in the breakfast rolls," Harry commiserated as Tom finally stopped retching and emerged from the bathroom on shaky legs.
"Yeah, well, I should have known better," Tom replied, with an attempt at a casual shrug.
"So I guess you don't feel up to fighting Chaotica, after all?" Harry queried miserably.
"You gotta be kidding, Haz. Captain Proton may have chucked up his guts, but he's still able to save the Galaxy. Let's go."
Harry grinned with relief and followed Tom back to the holodec.
"What will people think?" Tom asked nervously.
"Who cares?" Chakotay asked.
"I can't believe you said that," Tom exclaimed with a delighted laugh.
"You're obviously a bad influence on me, Mr. Paris."
"Oh, I don't know. I seem to be a good influence on at least *one* part of you," Tom sniggered, sitting back on his haunches to drive Chakotay's cock deeper inside him.
Chakotay snaked his hands around Tom's chest and tweaked his nipples teasingly. Just then the deck shuddered beneath them, causing the Command chair to judder.
"Oh shit, that's good," Tom gasped, as Chakotay jerked inside him.
"I think we just lost shields," Chakotay replied.
"Oh good, that means we're in for a really bumpy ride," Tom sniggered.
Chakotay grasped Tom's hips and began to guide him up and down on his lap.
"Incoming," Tom howled as a blast of phaser fire ripped across the viewscreen.
"Oh, yeah," Chakotay agreed, as the bridge shuddered violently under his ass. He began to slam Tom up and down in time to the wild tossing of the ship.
"FUCK!" Tom screamed, as the consoles exploded around them at the precise moment that Chakotay erupted into his ass.
A final explosion rocked the bridge and Tom and Chakotay tumbled to the floor as the Command chair disappeared and the bridge reformed into the black and yellow grid of the hollow deck.
Chakotay guiltily snaked out his hand towards Tom's groin.
"It's okay, big guy. I had a case of spontaneous combustion," Tom sniggered, grabbing Chakotay's hand and guiding it to the sticky proof that covered Tom's stomach.
Chakotay grinned in relief. He always tried to be a thoughtful lover, but sometimes Tom's antics just caused his brain to go on strike as his cock went into over-drive.
"You were right, Tom," he chuckled when he finally regained his breath. "Battle simulations *can* be an interesting way of keeping fit."
"It would have been more fun if you'd let me keep the holographic crew on line," Tom sniggered.
"Talking of the crew," Chakotay hinted.
Tom stiffened in his arms.
"I'm sorry, Tom. It's obviously too soon. Forget I asked," Chakotay said sadly.
Tom's mouth opened and uttered the word before his head had a chance to stop it.
"Yes," he whispered.
"Yes?" Chakotay repeated hopefully.
"Yes, I will move in with you," Tom agreed.
"Harder, Tom. Please, oh yeah, that's it, oh god, yeah," Harry squealed.
"That good?" Tom purred.
"Oh yeah. Oh shit, I've missed this," Harry wailed.
"Harder?" Tom asked.
"Please," Harry begged.
Tom pushed his sweat-drenched hair back from his forehead so he could see what he was doing.
"Arghhhhh!" Harry screamed, as Tom's knuckles ground into the gap between his fourth and fifth vertebrae, causing the discs to realign.
"FUCK! That hurt!" he whined.
"It always hurts before it gets better," Tom snapped.
"I know," Harry agreed, cautiously moving his spine and then sighing with relief.
"You really ought to go see the Doc about your back, Harry. I'm obviously not doing something right. This is the third time this week that you've trapped a nerve," Tom complained.
Harry smirked into his pillow.
"Okay, I've gotta go home. Chak expected me hours ago," Tom sighed, rising off Harry's bed and bending down to lace his boots up.
Harry sighed, turning sideways to ogle Tom's ass. The only problem with the "trapped nerve" thing was that it hadn't yet occurred to the pilot to strip off more than his boots before straddling Harry's ass.
On the principle that a constant drip of water could wear away the toughest stone, Harry repeated his usual mantra.
"You sure you don't want to stay for a quick fuck, Tom?"
Tom just grinned as usual.
"I guess that means your back's feeling better, huh?" he snorted.
He slapped Harry's naked ass a little harder than was strictly a friendly gesture, picked up his jacket, and headed for the door.
But this time, Harry wasn't prepared to let him go.
Belatedly, Tom's words had registered. Tom had said, "I've gotta go *home*."
When Tom had moved in with Chakotay the month before, he'd said it was just to get the Commander more tightly under his spell. The two of them were actually living together, it was the talk of the ship, and despite Tom's assurances that it was only a temporary arrangement until he had gotten what he wanted out of Chakotay, Harry hadn't seen any evidence of `progress', and now, to add insult to injury, Tom was actually referring to Chakotay's quarter's as his *home*.
Tom hesitated in the doorway before turning his head warily.
"You love him, don't you?" Harry accused bitterly.
"What?" Tom demanded nervously.
"Chakotay. You've fallen in love with him," Harry spat.
"Don't be stupid, Haz," Tom snapped.
"I'm *not* stupid, Tom. It's been nearly three months and now you act like I don't even exist. Shit, I'm lying here with my ass bare, begging you to fuck me and all you can think about is getting back to *his* bed."
Harry's audible pain struck Tom like a physical blow. He gripped the door frame for support.
"You know that's not true, Haz. It's just taking longer than I expected to sort things out. You don't expect me to give up, do you? I'm so close I can taste that Lieutenant's pip now."
"Really?" Harry asked tearfully.
"And then you'll leave him?" Harry demanded petulantly.
"Don't I *always* leave them?" Tom replied.
Harry chewed over Tom's words and then a hesitant smile spread over his face.
"Yeah, you do," he finally agreed.
"Well then," Tom replied.
"You promise?" Harry asked suddenly.
"Promise me that you'll leave him after you get your pip back, Tom, and I'll never mention it again, no matter how long it takes," Harry swore.
Tom took a shuddering breath. Harry was his friend. His only *real* friend, and sure he lied to him sometimes, but that wasn't serious stuff. Lies were what made the world go round. Everyone lied.
Like when the Captain had cut her hair off and everyone said it looked good. Which had been a blatant lie since her long hair had been her only attractive feature in his opinion. Hell, he'd even played tongue hockey with her once himself, just to get his fingers in that hair.
Even Tuvok had lied about her short hair being an improvement. Unless the Vulcan just had fuck-all taste, of course.
Lying was an art form that Tom had learnt in early childhood and had perfected with dedication through the ensuing years. He had honed the art by simply listening to every diplomat and politician who had come to dinner at the Admiral's house.
But promises were different.
Promises were real.
As Tom remained silent, Harry began to cry. Quietly at first, but his sobs gradually grew louder and more plaintive.
"Don't cry, Haz. Please," Tom begged miserably.
"It's okay Tom. I shouldn't have said anything. I had no right. It's your life. If you love him then that's okay. Really. As long as you are happy. That's all that really matters," Harry sobbed. "You're my friend. That's enough. It's enough that you're my friend."
"I promise," Tom said abruptly.
"I promise I'll leave him if I get my pip back."
"You mean it?" Harry gasped.
Tom shuddered but forced a smile on his face.
"I promised, didn't I?"
"I fully appreciate the problem, Captain Dvarek. However, we cannot assist you," Kathryn advised sorrowfully.
On the viewscreen, the alien captain's eyes widened in disbelief.
"But our sensors have shown us that although you would have to drop your shields, your hull is strong enough to penetrate the planet's atmosphere, and your ship has the ability to land, which ours does not. There would be little or no danger to your ship or crew, Captain," he argued.
Kathryn sighed and exchanged a sorrowful glance with Chakotay. His own eyes filled with equal agony, he gave her a tiny nod of support for her decision.
"It is not a matter of danger, Captain," she explained. "It is a matter of principle. Our people have a policy of non-interference in primitive societies. We call it the Prime Directive. It is our most sacred, and sometimes, as now, most heartbreaking rule. But it is a good rule and there for a reason."
"You'd let them die because of a rule?" the Alien screeched in disbelief. "That's no better than murder!"
Kathryn straightened her shoulders proudly.
"It is most decidedly *not* murder, Captain. What is happening below is a natural disaster. It is tragic and terrible and we grieve for the people who will lose their lives on the surface below. However, as you yourself have pointed out, the planet will become uninhabitable within days. Now that the temperature has dropped to a level fatal to almost all of the indigenous lifeforms, it is too late to save the planet.
"If we were to land, and take the survivors on board, what would we do with them? Would we transport them to an empty planet and abandon them? Without shelter or crops, they would probably starve or freeze the first winter. Or do you suggest we take them to an inhabited world and force the natives to accept them as refugees?"
"Surely that would be better than letting them die," Dvarek hissed, "or are you all so selfish and heartless that it means nothing to you that they die?"
Chakotay saw Tom stiffen at the helm and prayed desperately that he wouldn't interfere in the Captain's decision. He knew how badly Tom struggled with the Prime Directive, as indeed they all did, yet Kathryn *was* right.
Below them a tragedy was occurring. A world and its population was dying. Yet if they interfered and helped Dvarek save the survivors and took them to another occupied world, they could inadvertently cause the destruction of the second planet too.
Just as small-pox had nearly wiped out the North American Indians, so these people could harbour diseases that could kill an alien race. The few hundred souls that they could rescue might be the death of millions.
Or their presence could start a war, or a jihad of ethnic cleansing, if the people of the new planet rejected the arrival of the survivors.
The Prime Directive wasn't a pretty textbook theory. It had been created because *both* of those tragic scenarios had already taken place on other worlds, with other people. Starfleet had paid for the lesson of the Prime Directive in blood.
"You cannot let my people die, Captain," Dvarek cried passionately.
Chakotay and Kathryn exchanged a confused glance.
"I don't understand. These people are clearly at a low level of technology and you yourself said you were on a mission of mercy to rescue people you described yourself as little more than savages," Kathryn challenged.
Dvarek sighed apologetically.
"Perhaps it is your translation device malfunctioning, or merely my failure to explain myself correctly to you. We *do* call them Savages, but it is not a description, but a label, if you will. They aren't native to this planet. They are the descendants of a group of malcontents from my own homeworld.
"They tired of our technology, yearning for the days when our people were more at home with nature. Eventually our government gave in to their pleas and allowed them to colonise this small world. Our people expected them to swiftly return home with their tails between their legs. Instead, they thrived, bred and in the ensuing generations they forgot that they had ever originated from another world.
"Periodically, over the generations, ships such as mine have been sent to check upon their welfare. We do not interfere. We are just shepherds, casting our eyes over the lost sheep, but allowing them to go their own way. We did not anticipate this disaster, however. That an asteroid so huge should hit the planet and destroy half of the land mass.
"The resultant dust cloud has choked the atmosphere, preventing solar radiation from getting through. so they are freezing to death. The cloud is too thick for our transporter devices to function. Our shuttles can only carry a few people at a time and this ship cannot land.
"That is why I sent the distress signal out, and providence meant that you were passing. I understand your Prime Directive, but it doesn't apply here. Rescue my people and I will take them home. They will be welcome. Imagine the riches that they will bring to our people. We need their bravery and vitality.
"When their ancestors left our planet we mocked them. Now, we understand that they were the bravest of us all. Their children are our children. Please help me to take them home where they belong."
As the alien Captain ended his eloquent plea, his eyes filled with tears of emotion, Tom Paris turned around from his console and quietly said,
"Could I please speak with you privately, Captain?"
She saw Chakotay stiffen beside her and hid a smile at his protectiveness towards Tom.
"Later, Tom," she said firmly. She knew Tom still resented her over the incident at Monea, and obviously thought she had the PD rammed so far up her ass that she couldn't see reason if it slapped her in the face. She was still a little angry at him though for his lack of faith in her.
She didn't *want* to abandon the people below. If these were Dvarek's people then his request was sufficient justification to save them.
"But Captain," Tom stage whispered.
"I said later, *Ensign*," she snapped.
His face whitened at the title and he turned back to face the helm. She would have felt guilty about slapping him so publicly except that she knew her next words were what he was waiting to hear.
"Drop shields and take us down, Mr. Paris," she ordered.
His head flew back to face hers in wide-eyed disbelief.
She almost smirked.
"Now, Mr Paris."
"Yes, Ma'am," he drawled.
"Thank you Captain, I can't begin to tell you how grateful we are for your assistance," Dvarek gushed from the viewscreen.
Tom's hands flashed over the helm, Voyager's engines growled to life and the ship began to move.
On the viewscreen, Dvarek smirked, then his eyes widened in disbelief and he roared a scream of outrage as he saw Voyager reversing away from the planet.
"Mr Paris, what the hell are you doing?" Kathryn roared as the pilot slammed the ship around in a looping arc, pointed her nose away from the planet and prepared to jump to warp.
"Saving our asses," Tom yelled back, *I hope*.
Behind them, the dusty planet splintered apart as the dozen ships projecting the illusion broke formation and tried to race after them, only to break off the chase, one by one, as the agile ship looped and twisted away at warp nine.
It was only when Tuvok pronounced that all pursuit had apparently been shaken that the Captain called an all halt.
"My ready room NOW, Mr Paris," she snapped and stalked stiff-legged from the bridge.
"Would you care to explain your behaviour, Ensign?" she snapped as the door closed behind them.
Tom scuffed the carpet miserably with his foot. He had no illusions about how this was going to go. It didn't matter that he had just saved their asses. He had disobeyed a direct order.
"I'm sorry, Captain," he muttered.
"Why did you do it?" Kathryn demanded.
"He was lying. It was a trap designed to make us drop our shields," Tom replied simply, unable to look her in the face.
"Evidently. However, since our scans of the planet had given no indication of the deception, and Dvarek's performance fooled me, and I'm no fool, how did you know?"
"I, um, I just had a feeling," Tom replied sheepishly, unwilling to confess that Dvarek's smooth performance had reminded him uncannily of himself.
"He was like a verbal gymnast. He changed his story half-way through but he did it so smoothly that you couldn't see the seam," he added, his voice almost admiring.
"You disobeyed a direct order, Tom," Kathryn spat.
"I know," Tom replied miserably.
"This isn't the first time," she added.
"I know," Tom repeated, cringing slightly.
"And you remember what happened *last* time?" Kathryn demanded.
Tom flinched as he imagined spending the next 30 days in the brig without Chakotay. The thought was even worse than losing his solitary remaining pip.
"Yes, ma'am," he almost whimpered.
Kathryn was proud of the way he just stood there waiting for her judgment. He hadn't argued. He hadn't pointed out that it had been her failure to listen to him that had forced him to act. He hadn't mentioned the fact that he had undoubtedly saved all of their lives.
No. Despite his actions, Tom *had* learnt the lesson that the command structure was there for a reason and that there was rarely an excuse to flaunt it.
"Your actions today were unorthodox but exemplary, Tom. I will enter that in my log with a recommendation that should we return to the Alpha Quadrant it should be reason for a commendation. In the meantime, I think that 30 days double holodec allowance is the best award I can offer you since I understand that you and the Commander have been *enjoying* those particular facilities."
Tom nearly collapsed in relief. Instead of 30 days in the brig, he was getting 30 days of extra holodec time. He grinned in appreciation of the Captain's odd sense of humor, although he decided he was definitely going to have to talk to Chakotay. He didn't care if the Captain *was* Chakotay's friend, it still didn't seem appropriate for him to be telling her about what he and Tom did in the holodec. Hell, he hadn't even given the details to Harry.
"Thank you, Captain," he said sincerely, his eyes sparkling with relief.
"Thank *you*, Lieutenant," Kathryn replied.
For a moment the look of complete astonishment on Tom's face was almost funny. It was only when he slumped to the floor in a dead faint that she realised she should probably have broken the news to him more gently.
As she called for an emergency medical transport, upset that she had underestimated how much stress Tom must have been under as he not only flew the ship to safety but thought that he would have the book thrown at him too, it crossed her mind that the expression in Tom's eyes before he fainted had been nearer horror than gratitude.
"Hi," Harry said, as Tom's eyes fluttered open.
"Hi, yourself," Tom replied, blinking as he realised he was in Sickbay. "What happened?"
"You fainted," Harry sniggered.
Tom's face drained of color as he remembered *why* he had fainted.
"Fancy after all these months, you got your pip back all by yourself, after all," Harry giggled. "You're a hero, Tom."
Tom bit his lower lip nervously.
"So," Harry continued cheerfully. "You don't even have to go back to him at all. It's not like you've got to worry about him figuring it out. You got your rank back fair and square and there's nothing he can do about it. Talk about falling on your feet."
"Harry," Tom whispered.
"Yes, Tom?" Harry asked happily.
"You know I made you a promise," Tom began,
"Absolutely, Tom, which is why I'm here," Harry beamed.
"Well, promises are really serious things, I know, and I meant it when I said it," Tom said carefully.
"Of course you did," Harry agreed.
"Well, there's um, something I need to tell you only I don't know how to say it. I should have said it before but I couldn't face it, only now I know I've only made it worse by not telling you before and, oh shit, Harry, I don't know how to admit it even to myself," Tom garbled.
Harry's brows furrowed in confusion.
"Whatever it is, just say it. I don't mind what it is. I won't be shocked. I mean I *might* be shocked, but I won't judge you. I never said anything when you told me you were going to fuck the Commander into giving you your rank back, did I? And you've got to admit that was pretty low."
"Yes, pretty low just about sums it up," Chakotay spat from the doorway.
As soon as he had been able to escape from the Bridge he had practically run to the Sickbay. All the way he had been imagining the ways in which he and Tom could celebrate Tom's return to grace, only to arrive in time to hear Harry's last words and realise that he was the biggest fool in the galaxy.
"Chak?" Tom wailed in panic, fighting his way out of the bedcovers and racing towards the stone-faced Indian.
"Bastard," Chakotay replied, and punched him in the face.
"Tom!" Harry howled in anguish as Tom crumpled to the floor.
Chakotay turned to Harry with a face devoid of all emotion.
"You want this *garbage*?" he hissed. "Then keep it."
And turning on his heels, he walked out of the door.
"Why don't you just sit there and rest, Tom, while I sort your things out," Harry murmured, patting Tom's shoulder soothingly, although Tom had made no effort to get out of the chair he had collapsed into anyway.
"It's a good thing that we have so many empty cabins," Harry continued, as he continued to pick up Tom's clothes and possessions from the floor.
"Otherwise, when you moved in with *him* the Captain would have reassigned your cabin and then where would you be?" he scolded.
"I told you it was a bad idea to move in with him under the circumstances. Don't get me wrong, I really am sorry he overheard me, but even so, this day was inevitable, wasn't it? Now look at this mess. Did you *have* to take so much stuff to his place?"
As Tom just continued to stare blindly at the wall, without replying, Harry became increasingly certain that Tom should have stayed in Sickbay after all.
Despite the Doctor's assurances that having a jaw broken in 4 places didn't necessarily mean a concussion, Harry was positive that Tom *had* suffered some minor brain trauma.
Why else would he be sitting there listlessly like a marionette that had had its strings cut instead of celebrating his unexpected freedom?
Sure, it had been a shock when Chakotay had walked in, and Harry wished he could have cut his own tongue out before he had dropped Tom in the shit like that.
But, on the other hand, it was for the best wasn't it? Like Tom had said in the beginning, it was cleaner if Chakotay was the one to end the relationship. Which he obviously had.
If the vicious punch hadn't been indication enough, the fact that he had immediately transported every one of Tom's possessions into a tangled heap in the middle of Tom's former quarters had adequately portrayed the message.
Harry could understand Chakotay being upset. He'd never thought he'd turn out to be the spiteful type however. It had surprised him how many items on Tom's floor were broken.
"Just leave it," Tom had said tiredly when they had walked into the quarters and seen Chakotay's `message'.
But Harry had no intention of going anywhere. There was always the extremely remote chance that Chakotay would change his mind, and Harry wasn't leaving Tom alone in his obviously vulnerable state. God only knew what Tom might agree to if Chakotay threatened him.
So he was tidying Tom's quarters and waiting for what he assumed was Tom's headache to wear off. They had a lot to talk about, he and Tom. Not least being what they would do if Chakotay reported Tom to the Captain.
They'd have to lie, Harry had decided. It would be Chakotay's word against theirs and he had no intention of letting Tom go to the brig, let alone himself as an accessory.
"These vids are all smashed, Tom," he groaned, as he found them in a bag under a pile of clothes. "I can't believe he's being such a nasty prick about this. Breaking your private stuff is just plain mean."
Tom stared at the vids with dull eyes before quietly replying.
"They aren't mine anymore. I gave them to him. Obviously he's decided he doesn't want them."
"There's a data padd in this bag too, Tom."
"Oh?" Tom said disinterestedly.
"Yeah. It's a note. It's coded to you so I can't read it. Come on, tell me what it says," Harry demanded eagerly.
Tom accepted the padd with a trembling hand. He knew that whatever Chakotay wanted to say, it was highly unlikely that he wanted to read it.
He read the first few words and his vision blurred.
"What did he say," Harry demanded. "Is he going to tell the Captain?"
Tom threw his shoulders back proudly, raised his face to meet Harry's and attempted a casual drawl.
"He just cleared up a loose end, that's all."
Harry reached for the padd and read the entry. All it said was,
"4650 credits have been transferred to your personal account."
"I don't understand, Tom." Harry said in bemusement.
Tom gave a bitter laugh.
"It's my pay off, Haz. It's his way of calling me a whore."
"Are you sure? I mean he doesn't SAY that does he?"
"Yes, he does," Tom replied.
"It's the amount. 4650 credits. If you divide it by 93 days it works out as exactly 50 credits per day."
Harry was unconvinced.
"50 credits a day doesn't sound much to me."
"Yeah, well, he obviously considers me a cheap whore," Tom spat.
"You're not cheap," Harry replied loyally.
"I don't understand," Kathryn sighed.
"What's to understand?" Chakotay replied, his voice as brittle as ice. "I made a mistake, that's all."
"But what happened? This morning he was the centre of your existence and now suddenly you're saying it's all over between you. Is this about the way he acted on the bridge? I know he disobeyed my order but even I have to admit that he saved our lives, Chakotay. I thought you'd be proud of him."
"I was, Kathryn. Until I went to Sickbay and found him with Harry. I heard them talking. It seems that Tom was-," but he couldn't continue, couldn't admit the truth of how badly Tom had deceived him.
He had come here with the express intention of telling Kathryn everything. He had no doubt that Tom would end up in the brig, where he belonged for his despicable behaviour.
Only, when he came right to it, he couldn't say the words. Not because of what would happen to Tom, but because the only person who really came out of this looking like the prize dupe of the Delta Quadrant was himself.
"So Tom has been sleeping with Harry?" Kathryn asked, with pity but a decided lack of surprise.
Chakotay was too stunned by her assumption to even reply. Talking his silence as agreement however, Kathryn continued to expound on her own theory.
"I always said Tom had a problem with exclusivity, Chakotay, and Harry has adored him for years. He doesn't seem to have your problem with the idea of sharing. I'm sorry Tom's hurt you, but you always accepted it as part of the risk. I'm sure it's nothing personal. It's just the way he is. Hell, no one expected your relationship to last as long as it did.
"Although you won't appreciate the idea right now, there'll be a queue of contenders at your door now, all wanting to find out how you managed to keep hold of Tom for three months. It's a record, after all, so it has to say something wonderful about you."
Chakotay opened his mouth to explain how wrong she was, then closed it again.
It was better this way, he decided. At least no one would ever realise that Tom, like Seska before him, had never cared for him at all. As much as the idea of ever dating anyone else made him feel ill, the prospect of being sought after rather than pitied and laughed at, was definitely the preferable choice.
"I'm truly sorry. I know that you loved him, and it's going to be difficult now between the pair of you." Kathryn commiserated.
Chakotay pondered her words for a long time.
"Oh, no, Kathryn, you're wrong. *Lieutenant* Paris and I will get on fine. You see I never loved *him*," he stated honestly.
"You didn't?" Kathryn gasped.
"No. Because it appears that the person I fell in love with never even existed at all," Chakotay said bitterly.
"I figured it, Haz," Tom said excitedly.
"Figured what, Tom?"
"I gotta come clean, tell him the truth. I'll tell him everything and say I'm sorry, of course. He'll make me suffer a bit more, then he'll forgive me."
"He already *knows* the truth, remember?" Harry reminded him tiredly.
"Yeah, but that's not the same as me going and explaining things to him, is it?" Tom said fervently. "I'm going mad, Haz. I miss him so much. It's been more than a week. He *has* to be missing me too. Maybe all he's waiting for is an apology!"
"Hmmn," Harry grunted, unconvinced. "I think you should leave it alone, Tom. You don't have the best track record where coming clean is concerned. Look what happened to you *last* time you thought it would be a good idea to confess something."
"Oh, yeah," Tom muttered, his face turning pale as Harry's words sank in, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
Since he had inadvertently screwed things up between Tom and Chakotay, and Harry couldn't see the straighter than a die Commander ever forgiving Tom for his deception, he had decided to forgive Tom for attempting to break his promise.
It had come as a hell of a shock to him, of course, when Tom had finally confessed that he had been intending to stay with Chakotay after all, pip or no pip.
But, after the initial shock, Harry had understood that it hadn't been Tom's fault that he had fallen in love with Chakotay, which was another thing Tom had finally admitted.
And it wasn't as if Chakotay was ever going to take Tom back, so it didn't matter anyway, in the grand scheme of things. But in the meanwhile, he couldn't bear to see Tom looking so down.
"Maybe he is still playing games with you, Tom," Harry said brightly.
"You think so?" Tom asked desperately. "You think he's just pretending to be mad at me?"
"Anything's possible," Harry replied, with a shrug. "The best thing you can do is leave well alone, and wait for him to come to you."
"Get the fuck out of my office, Paris," Chakotay snarled.
He couldn't believe the little bastard had the cheek to face him like this. He had changed Tom's shifts so that they didn't even share the bridge, using Tom's promotion back to Lieutenant as an excuse to put him in charge of Gamma Shift. The Captain hadn't been fooled, of course, but she had agreed to his proposed changes, at least temporarily.
"I need to talk to you. I need you to listen to me, please. Give me a chance to explain," Tom begged.
"There is nothing that you could say that would possibly be of any interest to me, *Lieutenant*," Chakotay growled.
"Shit, Chak. Please. I'm going crazy here. You won't see me or talk to me, and you ignore all my letters."
"So? Like I said, I'm not interested," Chakotay replied coldly. Tom *had* sent him numerous messages, but Chakotay had simply deleted them all unread.
"I have nothing to say to you. Get out of my office or I will call Security," he hissed.
"Not until you explain *this*," Tom demanded, throwing a data padd down on Chakotay's desk.
Chakotay read the display but his lip simply curled in disgust.
"I'm sorry if you think the payoff was insufficient, Paris. It seemed a fair amount to me, under the circumstances, but then again, I wasn't sure of the going rates for ship's sluts. Perhaps you should consider raising an invoice next time you screw someone for profit."
"Fuck your credits. I don't want them. I never asked you for them. I never wanted them," Tom spat, his eyes filling with tears.
"I love you, Chakotay. I don't want your credits. I don't even want this fucking rank. I just, I just want you. Please, honey. I know you want me. Just give me a chance to explain."
"Get out," Chakotay replied.
"Please, Chak. Let me explain. Please," Tom begged.
Chakotay gave a theatrical sigh. Deciding that the fastest way to get Tom out of the room would probably be to listen to him after all, he leant back in his chair and regarded Tom with half-closed eyes.
"Okay, entertain me," he drawled with cold sarcasm.
Tom swallowed dryly, lashed by Chakotay's mockery. Then he reminded himself that the older man was probably only `pretending' to be so furious. Sure, that had to be it, since he had never seen the Commander behave like this before.
Chakotay was a calm, rational, understanding man, not this cold, unfeeling bastard who was looking at him like he had crawled out from a rock. It had to be an act. Tom couldn't afford to believe anything else.
"It's true," he confessed suddenly. "I *did* only go out with you at first because I wanted my rank back and I figured you'd do it for me. I just wanted to see how far I could push you."
"And Harry knew all about it," Chakotay snapped. "You were both laughing at me, I take it?"
"It wasn't Harry's fault, Chakotay. He knew about it but I'm sure he *wanted* to tell you," Tom said defensively, not willing to let Harry suffer because of his own mistake, especially since he had told Harry that he *wouldn't* come and confess.
"But he kept quiet so he could keep fucking you?" Chakotay asked. It was a wild guess, but in view of Kathryn's comments, it seemed a safe bet.
"Yeah, kind of, well no. I mean, he doesn't fuck *me*, Chak. Only *you* fuck me. I swear."
"I see. So I was fucking you and you were fucking him? Sounds almost poetic, doesn't it? I'm sure you had a barrel of fun," Chakotay hissed.
Tom chewed frantically on his lower lip. This trying to tell the truth was turning into a disaster. Chakotay was twisting everything, confusing him, making it all sound so sordid, and it hadn't been, had it?
"I wasn't fucking him. Not when you were fucking me," Tom insisted.
"So you never slept with Harry after we started dating?" Chakotay asked pointedly.
"No. Well, not after *we* started fucking, anyway," Tom assured him.
"I see. So you were still sleeping with him when we were first going out?" Chakotay asked, for clarification.
"Yeah," Tom admitted. "But that was before I fell in love with you."
"So when did you get *that* blinding revelation?" Chakotay asked quietly.
"I didn't, well it wasn't, well it just kind of snuck up on me when I wasn't looking," Tom said sheepishly.
"So, let's be sure I have this right. After several weeks of *pretending* to love me, you finally decided that you actually did?" Chakotay asked politely.
Tom sighed with relief.
"Yeah, that's exactly what happened," he agreed.
"Well that was very enlightening, Lieutenant. I appreciate your efforts to ensure that I know exactly where I always stood with you. At least this way I know precisely how stupid I was. Now, unless you feel the need to rub it in anymore, I suggest you leave."
Tom's mouth gaped open in confusion.
"But, but, I told you the truth," he gasped. "I confessed *everything*, well almost everything. Hang on, let me tell you the rest, then you'll understand."
"I'm sure confession is good for the soul, Paris, but since I am reasonably certain that you don't have one, let's just leave it at that, okay? Now, if that's all, I have work to do," Chakotay replied coldly.
"It's *not* all," Tom cried. "I said that was why I went out with you *at first*. There was no harm done, was there? I mean it's not like I *did* go through with it. It was a game, that's all. Just like the games you played with me in the beginning."
"What games?" Chakotay demanded, his eyes narrowing still further.
"Playing hard to get. Blowing hot and cold. Being a prick-tease," Tom explained.
"Is *that* what I was doing?" Chakotay asked quietly.
Encouraged, Tom gave a nervous laugh and continued.
"Yeah, so you know how it was, don't you? I mean we both played each other for what we wanted, didn't we? So I don't understand why you're being so uptight about it now.
"Does it really matter *why* we got together? I love you, Chak, and I *know* you love me, so why can't we just forget *why* we got together and carry on?" Tom asked plaintively.
"I miss you, big guy. I can't sleep for thinking about you. I know I fucked up, but it's not *that* big a deal is it? I mean you wanna fuck me and I want your cock in my ass. Hell, we're made for each other. So, what do you say, huh?"
Chakotay took a deep breath.
"I think I misjudged you Tom. I called you a cheap slut, I even deliberately paid you an insulting amount for your time just to drive the point home. But you know something?"
"What?" Tom asked hopefully.
"I obviously overpaid you. You're even cheaper, nastier scum than I realised."
Tom's face crumbled in disbelief and he flinched back in his chair as Chakotay surged to his feet.
"You dare sit here and accuse me of playing hard to get and being a prick-tease?' I thought you were special. I treated you like something precious, Tom Paris. I treated you with respect. The fact that you saw it as prick-teasing just proves to me how low you are."
"But I, I, I didn't understand Chak. Not at first, but then I did, and we were great together, weren't we? I mean it was the best, wasn't it?"
"The best?" Chakotay laughed sarcastically. "You weren't the *best* Tom, you were just the *easiest*. Now get the fuck out of my office before I throw you out."
"You don't mean that, Chak. I know you don't. I didn't mean to hurt you. You know I didn't mean to hurt you." Tom purred, reaching forward to trace the prominent outline of Chakotay's obvious erection.
As Tom's fingers touched his crotch, Chakotay's self-control shattered. His arm shot out, grabbed Tom's wrist and wrenched it savagely until Tom's arm was twisted behind his back. Then he frog- marched him to the door and shoved him through it so violently that Tom hit the opposite wall and stumbled to his knees, cradling his right hand.
The shocked blue eyes filled with tears of pain.
"I think you broke it," Tom wailed.
"Oh, I'm sorry. But since I didn't *mean to hurt you*, it doesn't matter, does it?," Chakotay spat as he shut the door in Tom's face.