Summary: Two bodies in relative motion excite resistance when they come together. Two wills clashing create another kind of friction. Somewhere between animosity and arousal is the place where they meet.
Characters: Paris, Janeway, Chakotay, Kim, Stadi
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Warning: This story contains mentions of rape, prison trauma, post-traumatic stress syndrome and panic disorder.
Tom turns at Stadi’s muffled exclamation. She’s halfway into a Jeffries tube on her hands and knees; she backs out and holds up a gel pack, her grin triumphant. He takes it from her, nose crinkling at the sickly brownish streaks bisecting the luminous blue gel, and places it gingerly on the console.
“Some kind of biological infection?” he queries, scanning it. “Don’t tell me Starfleet’s finest engineering minds overlooked this possibility.”
Veronica levels a look at him. “Get started on bypassing the bio-neural circuits in series epsilon four while I take this thing down to sickbay. If it’s not a tech failure, maybe Dr Fitzgerald can figure out what’s wrong with it.” She picks up the gel pack and moves toward the corridor.
“You’re leaving me here alone?”
She stops, turning back to him. “Is that a problem?”
“Not for me,” Tom shrugs. “I just figured, you know … you’ve been stuck to me like glue today, so I assume you’re babysitting me. Or guarding me in case I try to escape or sabotage the ship or something.”
“Do you intend to try to escape or sabotage the ship?”
He ducks his head to hide a smile. “No.”
“Good,” Stadi says simply, then hesitates, adding: “The babysitting guess isn’t far off, though.”
“She ordered you to watch me?” Tom yelps.
“If by ordered you mean asked, and by watch you mean look out for, then yes.”
Tom isn’t sure how to feel about that.
“I’ll be back soon,” Veronica says. “Don’t throw your toys out of the crib while I’m gone, okay?”
She has the grace not to chuckle until she reaches the corridor.
By the time they’ve finished bypassing the gel pack series where the faulty one was housed, rerouting command protocols through two backup nodes and tuning the navigational sensors to Stadi’s satisfaction, Tom’s stomach is starting to complain that breakfast was far too many hours ago.
“So, where do you go for a bite to eat around here?” he asks.
“The officer’s mess is on deck two.” Veronica checks the chrono. “Why don’t you go on ahead and I’ll meet you there after I’ve delivered the new flight plan to the captain?”
“Actually …” Tom picks up the padd, “would you mind if I did it? I need to … I should tell her ...”
“Okay.” She smiles at him. “Computer, locate Captain Janeway.”
~Captain Janeway is in her ready room.~
She closes the channel. “A word of advice, Tom ...”
“Don’t give up too easily,” Veronica says, and, patting him on the shoulder, strides out of navigational control.
Give up what? Tom wonders as he rouses himself a few moments later, trailing toward the turbolift. Then he rolls his eyes. Gives up too easily is pretty much his modus operandi.
“Enter,” comes the distracted response to his chime at the ready room door.
The captain doesn’t look up from her desk as he approaches. Tom hovers, unsure whether to greet her, hand her the padd or kneel before her. He clears his throat instead.
“You can leave it on the desk, Mr Paris.”
“The flight plan.” She still hasn’t glanced up. “That is why you’re here, isn’t it?”
That gets her attention. “Oh?”
“I’m sorry,” he says sincerely, meeting her eyes. “I had no right to say what I did last night.”
“No, you didn’t.” Janeway’s tone is dismissive, and she returns her attention to her desktop monitor.
“And I wanted to thank you for getting me out of that hellhole.”
Her forehead creases slightly. “I’d hardly describe a well-administered rehabilitation facility on Earth as a hellhole, Mr Paris.”
“With all due respect, Captain, you weren’t there,” he says quietly. “I owe you … well, a lot. And I’m very grateful.”
Her eyes meet his, softening, and she nods. “You’re welcome.”
“As for what else happened last night –”
“Stop right there,” she orders, palm out.
He shuts up. She glares at him for a moment, then sighs, rising and moving to the replicator behind her desk.
“Last night was … a moment out of time,” she tells him, cradling a coffee cup in her hands. “It wasn’t supposed to be … complicated, and if I’ve caused you any distress as a result, then I apologise.”
He turns her words over in his mind for a moment; she deserves that much, having selected them with such care.
“Do you still think it was a mistake?” he can’t stop himself from asking.
“No,” she concedes, “but I have no intention of repeating it. Let’s just get through the mission, wish each other well and go our separate ways. Agreed?”
Do I have a choice? Tom thinks, unable to suppress a swell of resentment. Hard on its heels is bitter disappointment. He’ll never be able to ask her about his father now. And, maybe worse, he’ll probably never see her again.
Tom thinks about her pale shoulders and the freckles scattered across her chest, and how responsive she’d been, how ardent and willing, and about the low, husky moans he’d fucked out of her.
But he’ll get over it. He barely knows the woman, after all, and freedom is so close he can taste it. In a couple of weeks Chakotay will be warming Tom's old cell in New Zealand, and Janeway will cut him loose, and he’ll head for Risa or Casperia Prime or, hell, Betazed. He’ll be able to fuck all the pale-skinned, throaty-voiced women he can handle.
“Agreed,” he says.
Tom lays the padd detailing his carefully plotted flight plan on her desk and walks out of the ready room.