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.
What was your price?
Long range sensors, like approximately half the ship’s systems, are working at reduced capacity, so Tom attaches himself to a repair crew on deck ten. One of the engineers gives him a suspicious once-over and discreetly contacts the bridge, but the captain’s impatient response – “we need all the help we can get, don’t we, Mr Carey?” – seems to settle any misgivings about the observer having free-ranging access to the ship.
It takes him hours, but by 0200 Tom has realigned, bypassed or replaced half the relays between the navigational deflector and the main sensor array. He taps his combadge. “Paris to bridge.”
“Go ahead, Mr Paris.” Janeway sounds as brisk and energetic as though she hasn’t been awake for twenty-four hours straight – not counting their three days unconscious on the Caretaker’s array – and Tom wonders if she’s as insomniac as he is.
“Long range sensors should be online now, Captain.”
“Good work, Tom,” she says, sounding both warmer and more fatigued. “Now get some rest. Janeway out.”
It doesn’t occur to him to ignore her order. Still, as exhausted as he is, when Tom drags himself back to the quarters he’s barely set foot in, he discovers that sleep is out of his reach.
He’s known since he agreed to Janeway’s offer that he’d likely come face to face with Chakotay at some point. But now, with the Val Jean locked into a shadow orbit with Voyager while they try to find their missing crewmen, Tom can’t seem to stop thinking about him.
He can’t tell if it’s gratitude, curiosity, hero-worship or desire – or, most likely, a gut-churning mixture of all of them – but Tom spends most of his waking hours, and a good chunk of the time he’s supposed to be sleeping, thinking about his new captain.
Even his name is intriguing: it rolls off his tongue in strangely smooth staccato, vigorous and enigmatic, like the man himself.
On their way to the demilitarised zone, Chakotay had shepherded Tom and two other recruits on a motley series of freighters, shuttles and cargo vessels, treating the three of them in a manner that reminded Tom of a big brother, or maybe a camp counsellor. But since the first time Tom slid behind the helm on Chakotay’s ship, the divide between them has been subtle but unmistakable. At first it doesn’t bother him – he’s Starfleet trained; he’s used to distance between captain and crew – but then, unexpectedly, it does.
Because there’s a clear disparity between the way Chakotay laughs and tussles and banters with the longer-standing crew, and the detached courtesy with which he treats Tom. He’s politely indifferent to the other, newer recruits as well, with the exception of B’Elanna Torres, but Tom doesn’t care about the other rookies. He just wants Chakotay to joke with him as he does with Jor or Henley, punch his arm like Dalby’s, speak in the familiar shorthand he uses with Ayala and Bendera.
He wants Chakotay to notice him.
A month or so into his employ with the Maquis, Tom comes off shift late and particularly edgy. He’s spent the past six hours playing hide and seek through the plasma streamers with a particularly talented Cardassian pilot helming a Hideki-class fighter, and the longing for whiskey is sharper than it’s been in weeks. He strides aimlessly through the cramped corridors of the ship, trying to take his mind off it. Passing the armoury, he notices the door is ajar, hears a feminine chuckle and glances inside.
Chakotay has Seska crowded up against the bulkhead. His lips are on her throat and his big hands clutching her ass while hers make swift work of his trouser fastenings. As Tom stares, Seska shoves her hands inside Chakotay’s pants and he hisses and bucks into her touch.
She laughs again, something triumphant in it this time, and turns to wink at Tom through the half-open door.
He flings himself back out of her sight, hoping like hell Chakotay hasn’t seen him, and hurries to his cramped bunk. He’s fortunate – his bunkmates are all on shift – but he can’t swear that he would have cared if he’d had an audience. He can’t remember the last time he burned so hot or needed release so desperately.
Maybe it’s because it’s been a long time since he wanted something more than his next drink.
As Tom is cleaning himself up, feeling drained and off-balance, Seska saunters into his quarters and drapes herself across the doorway of the tiny ‘fresher.
“What do you want?” Tom mumbles. There’s something about her that raises his hackles.
“I want to make sure you know he’s mine.”
He doesn’t bother playing dumb. “I know that.”
“And he’ll never be interested in you, or anyone else, as long as I’m around.”
He snorts before he can think better of it. “Sure about that?”
“I’ll make sure of it.” Seska smiles, and there’s no warmth in it. “Stay away, Paris. This is your only warning.”
After a long moment, Tom nods, and Seska, satisfied, sashays out of his quarters.
But staying out of Chakotay’s way has no effect whatsoever on Tom’s desire to get close to him.
He kicks off the covers and glances morosely down at the erection that just won’t go away.
“Computer, locate Captain Janeway?” he asks plaintively.
~Captain Janeway is on the bridge.~
It was a long shot that Kathryn would be available anyway, let alone willing. Tom sighs, ashamed of his intent, brief as it was, to find the release he needs in her warm body.
Taking hold of himself, he lets his eyes close and drifts back into memory, stroking with practised and efficient ease.
Tom’s been needling the captain for days now – snide remarks made under his breath, his tone combative and his body language insolent – and the growl in Chakotay’s voice is just this side of deadly.
“Yeah?” he drawls, swivelling in his chair.
“Dalby, take the helm.” Chakotay rises from the tactical station, eyes hot on Tom’s, jerking his head toward the corridor. “With me.”
Tom puts an extra swagger in his step to hide the way his gut clenches as he follows the captain off the bridge.
Chakotay remains silent as he strides through the ship, climbing down past engineering until they reach the little cargo bay, where he checks there’s nobody around to overhear. Then he turns on Tom, hands low on his hips.
“What the hell did you think you were doing up there, Paris?”
Tom gives him wide blue eyes. “Flying?”
Chakotay moves so fast that Tom’s back slams into the bulkhead before he can blink, and when he tries to draw breath to protest he discovers that his air supply is cut off by the hard arm across his throat.
“Enough.” Chakotay’s eyes are black and his voice low. “Next time I give you an order, you follow it without question, do you understand? You could’ve killed us with that stunt.”
“I had it under control,” Tom ekes out.
Chakotay leans in harder, making him wheeze.
“If I want your opinion,” Chakotay bites out, “I’ll fucking give it to you.”
He eases up a little on the pressure, and Tom, sucking air, groans: “I wish you would.”
About to ream him again, Chakotay seems to clock the tone in his voice and the words die on his tongue. He focuses on Tom’s eyes as the anger fades in his own.
Marshalling the last of his breath, and his courage, Tom leans in and kisses him.
It’s tentative at first, just a light press of lips, but Chakotay’s breath stutters in shock and his lips part and Tom can’t hold back the exploratory brush of his tongue, licking into the other man’s mouth until those full lips soften and Chakotay’s hands find his upper arms. And now that solid weight is back, pressing him into the bulkhead, only this time the anger is tempered with a different kind of heat.
The kiss turns rough. Tom grabs the back of Chakotay’s shirt, fingers taut and needy, twisting the fabric; he’s not entirely sure if he’s trying to pull Chakotay closer or restrain him. They break apart briefly. One of them – Tom isn’t sure which – groans, the sound choked off as their mouths meet again. Hands grasp and stroke; bodies shift and press.
The sound of conversation and laughter drifts in from the corridor, piercing the hot blanketing cloud of arousal and rending them apart. Tom’s chest heaves. Chakotay begins to swear, softly, under his breath.
“Shut up,” hisses Chakotay, fists tightening in Tom’s shirt, half clutching him close, half shoving him away. “Just shut the fuck up.”
Tom nods, licks his lips.
The voices fade, and Chakotay lets him go, striding away without another word.
Tom passes a restless, sleepless night, certain he’ll be kicked off the ship as soon as Chakotay can get rid of him.
In the morning, the ship’s mess is buzzing with the news that it’s over between Chakotay and Seska. Nobody knows why, or if they do nobody’s talking, but Tom can’t help but wonder if it has anything to do with him.
Around 0600, restless, exhausted and heartsick, Tom gives up on the vain hope of slumber. He showers, shaves and pulls on a fresh uniform, and for lack of anything else to do, makes his way to the bridge.
The captain is not in her chair. Occupying it instead is Tuvok, who rises as Tom exits the turbolift.
“Mr Paris,” he acknowledges. “A word, if you would.”
Tom follows him into the conference room. “Where’s the captain?”
“Captain Janeway is in her ready room.”
“Still?” Tom frowns. “She should be sleeping.”
“That is not your concern,” Tuvok rebukes.
“Whatever you say, sir.” Tom folds his hands behind his back. “Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Captain Janeway requested you be assigned to the bridge until further notice. She noted that since the death of Lieutenant Stadi, you are the crew member with the most knowledge of Voyager’s navigational systems.”
“That’s probably true.” Tom rests a hip against the table’s edge. “The nav array was misaligned and it was causing havoc with the optronic interface. Stadi and I tracked it down to a gel pack with some kind of biological flaw. She was going to have Dr Fitzgerald take a look at it, but I never found out if he did.”
“I will inquire with the holographic doctor. For now, Mr Paris, perhaps you would monitor helm performance from the bridge. It would not be desirable if the navigational systems were to fail while we are travelling at warp speed.”
“You don’t want me to fly?”
“That will not be necessary.”
“Worth a shot,” Tom mutters. “Where are we headed, anyway?”
“The fifth planet of the system two light years away,” Tuvok replies. “Our working theory is that Ensign Kim and Ms Torres may have been transported there by the pulses the Caretaker’s array is sending in that direction.”
“Huh,” Tom says mildly. “Lucky someone fixed the long range sensors so you could work that out.”
“Indeed,” Tuvok says dryly, and indicates that Tom should precede him back to the bridge.
To be continued ...