Summary: Anticipation has a way of provoking all kinds of hasty decisions, but for some, the morning after brings more than one regret.
Characters: Paris, Torres, Chakotay, Janeway
Codes: Paris/Torres, Janeway/Chakotay, Chakotay & Paris
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 20 prompt: “I hope you have a speech prepared.” Episode addition to Timeless.
It’s a minor variance, he argues with himself as he tucks the bottle of champagne under his arm and climbs the ladder, one-handed, to the upper engineering workstation. So what if he’s run seven simulations, all with the same result? He can run more tomorrow, get Harry in on it. Harry will figure it out.
It’s probably nothing, anyway. Easily solved. They’re not going to let a little slipstream phase variance stop them. Not when they’ve come this far. Janeway won’t stand for it, and B'Elanna –
“You were supposed to save that for the celebration!”
“Shh, they’ll hear you,” Tom hisses, quickly covering her mouth.
He cranes his neck to peer down into main engineering, but B’Elanna’s entire staff is focused on fitting benamite crystals into the quantum reaction chamber, on running diagnostics and calculating particle flow rates.
“I thought we could have our own private celebration,” he grins, holding up the champagne bottle enticingly.
She arches an eyebrow at him, a smile flirting with the corners of her lips. “You don’t think Chakotay will notice there’s a bottle missing from his stash?”
“You have a point.” Tom mimes fear, tiptoeing with exaggerated stealth to the edge of the upper platform. “He’s down there right now,” he stage-whispers, plucking at her arm. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Tom, I can’t –”
“Yes, you can.” He wraps his hands around her waist. “Your shift finished hours ago. For once, I think the captain would be okay with you taking the night off.”
“I suppose we should make the most of it,” B’Elanna murmurs, winding her arms around his neck. “If we make it back to the Alpha quadrant, I could be spending my nights in prison for the foreseeable future.”
The upturn of her lips tells him she’s kidding, but still – “Don’t even joke about it,” Tom pleads. “It’s not going to happen. When we get home thanks to your slipstream drive, Starfleet is going to canonise you, not throw you in jail, so I hope you have a speech prepared.”
She snorts. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“No?” Tom waggles his eyebrows exaggeratedly. “Because I thought you were the kind of girl who went all the way…”
“Oh, you did?” B'Elanna widens her eyes. “Well, it depends.”
“What’s in it for me?”
He lets his hands slide down onto her hips, curving, kneading, and leans in close.
“What do you want?” he whispers. “Do you want me to push you up against a bulkhead and sink my teeth into your skin? Kiss your lips and let you lick your blood from my mouth?”
“That,” she swallows, “sounds nice.”
“Or should I take it slow, build you up with a touch so light you’re begging me to fuck you?” Tom’s lips graze her throat as she tips her head to the side. “Maybe you’d like it if I tied you up so you couldn’t touch yourself. I think I’d enjoy having you at my mercy.”
B'Elanna has to stifle a groan as he stops talking to suck lightly at her pulse point. By the time he draws back, her breath is gusting quickly between her parted lips.
“So what do you say?” Tom steps away from her so that only the tips of his fingers are in contact with her body.
She growls impatiently, provoking his grin. “I want you now. No more teasing.”
“If only it wasn’t so far to your quarters,” he laments.
“Computer, activate command beta-rho,” B'Elanna smirks, and the pair of them dissolve in shimmering light.
“Don’t think I didn’t see you take that bottle last night, Paris.”
Chakotay’s words might be accusatory but his tone is light, matching the buoyancy of his step as he catches up to Tom on the turbolift.
“Uh, yeah. Sorry, sir.”
“Forget it,” Chakotay grins, “you and B'Elanna deserved to celebrate. The two of you are going to be heroes when we get back. The engineer who built the experimental slipstream drive and the pilot who flew us home. Deck three,” he interrupts himself, to Tom’s relief, and the turbolift starts to move.
“Dinner with the captain?” Tom raises his eyebrows.
“We have a lot to talk about.”
He’s skating close to the edge and he knows it, but Chakotay is clearly infected with the same sense of invincibility as the rest of the crew and seems willing to overlook Tom’s needling.
“So I guess you’ll be seeing your father soon. The prodigal son returns. I hope you have a speech prepared.”
Maybe not that willing. “Not really,” Tom says, clipped. “To be honest, I’m not convinced I’ll be seeing my father anytime soon.”
Chakotay focuses on him. “If there’s something you’re not telling me, now’s the time to spit it out, Lieutenant.”
“Computer, halt turbolift,” Tom says quickly. “Look, Chakotay, I know it seems like I’m finding excuses not to take the slipstream because there’s nothing but trouble for me in the Alpha quadrant. But I think the opposite might be true of some other people. I think we’re overlooking just how risky this flight is, even with Harry in a shuttle feeding the phase adjustments back to Voyager.”
He pauses, breathing in deeply.
“I know the captain wants to go home,” he goes on more calmly. “But if anyone can convince her this isn’t the way, it’s you. She’ll listen to you.”
Chakotay studies his face for a moment, apparently reading his sincerity. “Thank you, Lieutenant,” he says. “I’ll take it under advisement. Computer, resume.”
The lift stops on deck three barely a moment later and Chakotay disembarks, striding toward the captain’s quarters without a backward glance.
Tom stares after him for long moments, wondering if the captain isn’t the only one seduced by the promises of home.
The biryani is – surprisingly – delicious, but Chakotay finds his appetite has deserted him. Maybe it’s the way his gut tightens whenever he glances at the padd sitting beside him on the table, or the memory of the plea in Tom’s eyes.
Maybe his hunger has made way for a different kind of appetite, one whet by the husky timbre of her voice and the way her touch lingers whenever she moves into his orbit.
It’s been a long time since he felt free to let his gaze trace her so boldly. And she does nothing to discourage his admiration; she sheds her jacket, tilts her head to expose the pale length of her neck, leans in close as she refills his wine glass so that he can breathe in the unique scent of her.
All these years, and he’s still under her spell, as hopelessly bewitched as he ever was.
She has always been a master at layered conversation, at leaving him guessing her true meaning, and tonight is no exception. She asks him what he’ll do when they’re home, when the debriefings are over; she offers to recommend him for a captaincy, and he wonders what that means for them, the two of them: if they are of equal rank, will there be no barriers between them?
“I guess I’ll wait and see what’s on offer,” he replies, eyes hot on hers; then, fearing he’s been too forward, presents her with his cheekiest grin. “I might be too busy accepting medals of valour to do anything else.”
“Then I hope you have a speech prepared,” she pauses to bite her lower lip, “and depending on the offer, I hope it’s an acceptance speech.”
At the point in the evening when they might part, or – when there’s work to be done and neither of them is ready to sleep – take their padds and their coffee to the couch, she catches his hand as he rises from his chair.
“I promised you dessert,” she murmurs, and if the low cadence of her speech doesn’t make her meaning clear enough, the momentary flash of hunger and uncertainty that crosses her expression does.
And he wants her, so badly he’s almost shaking with it.
Still, he hesitates.
“Kathryn,” he warns, “if this is a game –”
“No games,” she cuts him off, turning her palm against his, fingers interlinked as she steps closer. “I told you. We’ve waited long enough.”
“We can wait for tomorrow,” he protests, but his free hand is on her hip and his body drifts to connect with hers. “It’s only one more day.”
“Tomorrow we’ll be home, or we’ll be dead,” she says. “And tonight is one thing I’m not willing to leave to chance.”
He casts one last glance toward the padd with its speculative flight plan, but then she brings her other hand up to his face and says his name, and he gives into instinct, wrapping his arm around her waist as he backs her up against the bulkhead and kisses her, at long last.
Her lips part eagerly under his, and when he pushes his hands under her clothing her skin is hot to the touch and her low moans encouraging. In moments he has stripped her of her uniform and her hands are mapping the parts of him that haven’t felt another person’s touch in far, far too long. There’s no time even to make it to her bedroom; urgency overtakes them and it’s hasty and awkward and uncomfortable, crushed up between the bulkhead and the carpet with her fingernails digging into his shoulder and her hot, breathy gasps in his ear, and it’s the most powerful, climactic experience of his life.
Afterwards she giggles – she actually giggles – through the tears he doesn’t think she knows she’s shedding, and complains of cramp and carpet burn, and he scoops her into his arms and makes up for his headlong rush to completion by laying her down on her bed and focusing thoroughly on her pleasure.
“Why now?” he asks her later, when they’re both languid and sated and her eyes are drifting closed. ”Why tonight?”
“Because I couldn’t see the point in waiting any longer.”
“And what happens tomorrow?” he presses. “What happens if we don’t make it home; if we’re still in the Delta quadrant?”
There’s the briefest of pauses before she answers. “That won’t change what’s happened tonight, Chakotay.”
“I promise,” she says, and kisses him, and he decides to believe her kiss is confirmation, not distraction.
Chakotay turns from studying the stars – the Delta quadrant stars, he does not need to remind himself – as the door to the observation lounge swishes open to admit Tom Paris.
“Sorry,” Tom blurts, stopping short. “I didn’t know you were in here. I’ll go –”
“You don’t have to leave, Paris,” Chakotay finds himself saying, gruff with reluctance. “I owe you an apology, anyway.”
Tom walks cautiously closer. “What for?”
Chakotay turns back to the viewport, and Tom moves up to stand beside him.
“You were right about the flight plan. I knew that.”
“But you couldn’t convince the captain otherwise?”
“I didn’t try.”
It’s clear that the younger man doesn’t know how to respond.
“Oh,” he says, but eventually it seems his curiosity gets the better of him. “Why not?”
“You’re not my choice of confidant,” Chakotay says abruptly, almost angrily. “God knows you’re the last person I’d trust with my secrets.”
“But you need to tell someone,” Tom intuits, swallowing the insult. “Believe it or not, Chakotay, you can trust me.”
Chakotay rubs a hand over his face. “This isn’t just my secret to tell.”
“Oh my God,” says Tom, staring at him. “You and the captain.”
Chakotay glares. “If I hear a whisper of gossip, Paris –”
“I told you, you can trust me,” Tom interrupts. “So what now?”
Now she pulls back, Chakotay thinks, remembering Kathryn’s chilly demeanour when he’d gone to her quarters last night after the failed slipstream flight. Now I have to convince her to keep her promise.
“I hope you have a speech prepared,” Tom says dryly, and Chakotay realises to his chagrin that he’d thought out loud.
“I was planning on winging it,” he admits, smiling faintly to himself. “I’ve had some success with that in the past.”
Tom clearly wants to press for details, but Chakotay turns back to the viewport, his body language making it clear the topic is closed, and after a while Tom imitates him.
“Since we’re here,” the pilot says, “thanks.”
“For saving all our asses, fifteen years in the future.”
“I don’t deserve your thanks,” Chakotay frowns at the stars. “If I hadn’t been so” – what? he wonders, so selfish? So needy? – “so impatient, that timeline never would have existed in the first place.”
“Maybe,” Tom shrugs. “Maybe not. But thanks, anyway.”