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.
A strong mind ...
Drained from a full day’s crawling through Jeffries tubes, painstakingly recalibrating relays while Stadi confirms their adherence to Starfleet specs, Tom stands under his second shower of the day and lets his mind drift.
He thinks about Rollins at first, but there’s nothing to be gained from that, so he turns his thoughts to the ship. Voyager. God, how he’d love to fly her; spending two days studying the helm and navigation systems has him itching to put her through her paces. Maybe Stadi is free tonight; maybe she’d let him run flight manoeuvres on the holodeck again, behind Voyager‘s conn this time.
Thinking about the ship shifts seamlessly to thinking about her captain, and before long Tom’s hard again. He allows a moment to feel shamefaced and juvenile over his apparently unquenchable desire for the first woman to show an interest in him in years, then takes hold of himself, intending to stroke to a quick release. But before the nebulous images behind his eyes can crystallise into something he can hold onto, he’s interrupted by the chirp of his combadge.
Swearing under his breath, Tom shuts off the shower, wraps a towel around his hips and grabs the communicator from the vanity ledge. “Paris.”
“Hey, V. What’s up?
”“We’re on track for departure tomorrow morning, and I have orders for you to report to sickbay by 0900 for medical clearance.”
Tom’s pulse skips. “Is there a problem?”
“No, it’s standard mission procedure.”
“Acknowledged,” he mumbles. “Are you busy tonight?”
“I have work to do. Why?”
“I was hoping we could grab some dinner.”
“I’m sorry, Tom, I can’t. Another time, okay? Stadi out.”
Tom sighs, closing the channel and wandering into the bedroom. He’s hungry, but the thought of dining alone on replicator fare thrills him about as much as staring at the four silent walls of his quarters.
He pulls on his uniform and heads for the central core.
The promenade is busier than it was in the morning, but Tom squashes the involuntary surge of anxiety and forces himself to look around, stay relaxed, act natural. He attaches himself to a group of Bajoran civilians heading for the Celestial Café, figuring it’ll be a whole lot quieter than Quark’s.
He can’t help scanning his surroundings, alert to possible danger. When it comes, though, there’s nothing he can do.
He ignores the call, hoping against hope that it’s not directed at him.
So much for hope.
Tom stops, breathes deep, and turns to face the furious human in Starfleet blue. “Do I know you?”
“No,” snarls the man. “But I sure as hell know who you are,” and without warning his fist hauls back and smashes into Tom’s jaw.
The punch snaps his head back and sends him staggering. Someone catches him and drags him upright, and Tom shakes his ringing head briefly, then groans as the lower half of his face throbs. When he touches his split lip his fingers come away bloody, and he can already tell his jaw is fractured.
“Steady,” warns a gruff voice.
Tom grunts assent, and the voice’s owner moves out from behind him and grasps his attacker’s shoulder. Even through the haze of pain, Odo is easy to recognise.
“Station security. Don’t move.”
“He killed her,” the man in blue shouts, wrestling with Odo’s immovable grip. “He killed my friend –”
Janeway’s voice, low and authoritative, slices through the tense tableau with ease as she pushes through the gathering crowd.
“What have you done?” she growls, moving immediately to Tom’s side.
For a moment he thinks she’s addressing him and he tries to answer her, but the knife-sharp agony in his jaw dissolves his speech into a groan. He feels her fingers, cool and gentle against his cheek, her other hand on his back.
“I take it these two are yours, Captain?” comes Odo’s rasping voice.
“Ensign Ivers is one of my crew, yes.” Janeway fixes her glare on the still-struggling ensign. “Why have you attacked Mr Paris?”
Ivers stops fighting Odo’s grip, visibly calming himself. “It’s because of him that she’s dead,” he says, venom in his tone. He looks Tom in the eye. “Kate Clark. Remember her? She was my friend.”
Even if Tom could speak, he’d have nothing to say. He drops his gaze.
“Well, Captain,” Odo rumbles, “what should I do with Mr Ivers here?”
Janeway straightens up and taps her combadge. “Janeway to Cavit.”
“Cavit here, Captain.”
“Please come to the security office on the promenade. We have a crewman in custody and I’d like you to arrange his transport to Voyager’s brig.”
“Captain?” The man on the other end of the comm sounds startled.
“Janeway out.” She presses her badge, then nods to Odo. “If you wouldn’t mind holding Ensign Ivers until my first officer collects him, I need to get Mr Paris to the infirmary.”
“Understood,” Odo rasps. “Let’s go, Ensign.”
They move off, and Janeway’s hand presses gently between Tom’s shoulder blades. “Come on, Tom,” she murmurs, guiding him in the other direction toward the medical bay. “It’s only a few steps.”
“Let’s get you to a biobed,” suggests the now-familiar voice of Dr Bashir as Tom stumbles through the infirmary entrance.
Janeway and Bashir help him onto the bed, and Tom stares straight ahead as Bashir waves a tricorder wand over his bruised and swelling jaw.
“Can you tell me what happened, Captain?”
Tom can’t help catching the captain’s eyes, his own silently pleading.
“I’d have thought that would be obvious, Doctor.” Janeway’s voice is dry. “What’s the damage?”
“Mr Paris has a moderate fracture of the temporomandibular joint. I can repair the damage without surgery.”
Janeway’s sharp gaze switches to Bashir the moment he speaks Tom’s name. “You didn’t mention you knew each other.”
Bashir’s eyes are big and guileless. “Oh, we met in the replimat this morning. And yesterday –” he breaks off, then smiles. “Never mind.”
And Tom has had about enough. “Hey,” he grunts, and when both of them turn to look at him, he gestures pointedly at his jaw.
“Please lie down, Mr Paris,” Bashir says smoothly. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
Janeway helps Tom ease onto his back as the doctor disappears into the rear of his sickbay. She still looks mad, and Tom’s stomach clenches. He’s already been more trouble than he’s worth to her; at what point will she be so fed up with him that she tosses him back where he came from?
“S-sry,” he mumbles, his fingers pressing the hand she’s laid on his chest.
At once, her lips relax and her eyes soften. “This wasn’t your fault, Tom,” she says gently. “Do you understand?”
He really doesn’t, but it’s too late to try questioning her because Dr Bashir is back with a hypospray.
“Five ccs triptacederine for the pain,” the doctor explains as he empties the analgesic into Tom’s neck. He glances up at Janeway. “There’s no need for you to wait, Captain. I’ll be able to release Mr Paris on his own recognisance as soon as I’m finished.”
Janeway gives him a sharp look, apparently picking up on Bashir’s choice of phrase as easily as Tom has.
“Thank you, Doctor,” she replies, ice in her voice. “I’ll stay.”
She curls her fingers around Tom’s and rests her other hand on his shoulder, and inside him something loosens; something that’s been strung tight and knotted for so long he hadn’t remembered it could be any different.
“Why didn’t you defend yourself?”
They’re walking back through the habitat ring, slowly, Janeway’s hand on his elbow as though he needs steadying. He doesn’t, but it’s been a long time since someone took care of him and Tom isn’t about to knock it back.
“Tom? You saw it coming and you didn’t even try to block his punch.”
“Wasn’t much point,” he shrugs. “He was going to hit me one way or another. I figured I’d make it easy for him.”
Janeway’s steps drag to a halt. “Why?”
The tug of her hand stops him, and Tom turns to look down at her. She’s waiting for an answer, and he realises she’s not going to be deflected.
“Because if you fight them, they’ll hurt you worse,” he says. “Better to let them get it over with.”
Her eyes widen a fraction, comprehension in the tightening grip of her fingers on his arm.
“You said the rehab colony was a hellhole,” she remembers, then adds softly, “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
“It’s okay, Captain.”
Her eyes hold his for the space of several heartbeats, then slide away. “How far are your quarters?”
Something in her voice makes him pay attention. “Right over there.”
They turn as one, and when they’ve reached his door she says, “Well, I suppose I should leave you to get some rest.”
“Actually, I’m kind of hungry,” he replies quickly. “Have you eaten yet?”
She draws out the word as though she’s contemplating fleeing, but there’s a subtle invitation in the downward sweep of her lashes. Encouraged, he taps in his entry code and tilts his head toward the open door.
“Buy you dinner?”
After a moment, she steps inside.