Summary: "In a way, Paris has been your personal reclamation project."
Characters: Janeway, Paris
Disclaimer: So much untapped potential with these two, Paramount. What were you thinking?
Notes: This story is an exploration of what could have, and may have, happened. I've kept it canon-compliant (and assumed that Mosaic and Pathways are accepted as canon) except where otherwise noted.
Warning: Some chapters contain references to violence and sexual assault. One contains elements of dubious consent, public lewdness and really filthy sex.
4. The Golden Bird
September, 2362 – Starfleet Academy, San Francisco
“You’d think after four years’ practice you’d be able to handle your drink, Charlie.” I slap my inebriated friend on the back and he almost slides off his bar stool.
It’s true. We’ve been sneaking off to parties together since we were fourteen, raiding our parents’ drinks cabinets, tinkering with the replicator to coax it into providing us with real scotch or bourbon instead of synthehol. It doesn’t seem to matter. Three or four drinks, and invariably I end up half-dragging, half-carrying Charlie home.
At least I talked him into changing out of his uniform before we hit the bars tonight. Nothing says “on report” like a cadet busted drinking in his first week of classes. Although since he’ll most likely be reporting tomorrow morning with a thumping hangover and vomit on his shoes, I’m guessing Cadet Charlie Day isn’t going to be impressing any lecturers in a hurry.
Or any ladies. At least, not tonight.
“Come on.” I loop an arm under Charlie’s shoulders and haul him upright. I’m glad I gave in to his insistence that we stay on campus for tonight’s bar crawl – he claimed it increased the pool of nubile female cadets, although I’d argued we should go further afield and see what the rest of San Francisco has to offer – at least now I don’t have to drag him far before I can deposit him on his bunk to sleep it off.
“I love you, man,” Charlie slurs as I key in the code to our shared quarters. “You’re my buddy.”
“Yeah, yeah, I love you too.” I yank off his shoes, turn him on his side and place an empty bucket beside his bunk. “Sleep it off, okay?”
Then I’m at a loss. I could make some more headway on the required class reading, but with the extra tutoring my father’s been making me take since I was in short pants, I’m already ahead of most of my classmates. And I’m not in the mood to study. Restless, I wander around the claustrophobic room. Charlie’s already snoring and the noise is starting to grate.
Ducking into the tiny ‘fresher, I shove a hand through my hair to mess up the regulation short-back-and-sides; I figured out years ago that girls like the tousled look. I check my reflection: jeans, boots, T-shirt. Presentable enough to get me into the kind of bars I’m planning to visit tonight, and with any luck, into someone’s panties. I shove a new credit chip into my pocket and let the door slide shut behind me.
The band is really pitiful in this place; I’m no musician, but even I can tell when the drummer can’t keep time and the sax player hits a bum note every second bar. But by far the worst thing about them is the lead singer, who’s yowling like a feral cat trapped in a box. Cringing, I turn on my stool, trying to catch a glimpse of her. When I do, the first thing I think is that she looks a damn sight better than she sounds.
Then I realise who she is, and I can’t stop laughing.
She recognises me as she’s halfway through murdering the second chorus and falters, almost sending the entire place into aural collapse as she valiantly tries to make up for it. My stomach hurts from laughing. I raise my beer to her in a salute, and she puts her hands on her hips and glares. Somehow, it’s not quite as intimidating as the first time I saw it.
Thankfully, at the end of the song she clips the mic carefully back into its stand and jumps down from the stage, pushing through the crowd toward the bar. Before she can speak, I signal the bartender. “Whatever the songbird is having is on me.”
Flustered, she asks for a scotch on the rocks, slams it down and gestures for another one before she finally turns to face me. “It was a dare, all right?” she tells me defiantly, pointing her chin toward a booth in the corner where three or four of her so-called friends are still doubled over with glee.
“Free tip, Ensign Kate: next time, opt for truth.”
She tries to look offended but can’t help snickering. “It’s Lieutenant Commander Kate, thank you very much.”
“Aren’t we coming up in the world?”
She downs her second scotch and balances on a stool, assessing me. “So it would seem, Tom. Aren’t you a little young to be cruising bars on your own?”
“Not that young,” I answer. “And I’m not on my own. Not anymore, anyway.”
Her answering smile is slow and curls provocatively to one side. “So I’m not going to be hauled away in irons if I buy you a drink?”
“I’m of legal age, Lieutenant Commander.” I grin back at her, then let my gaze do a slow sweep over her body, lingering on the places where the fabric of her dress dips and stretches. I’m not sure she’s entirely unconscious of the fact that she straightens on her stool, arching her back ever so slightly.
“Of course,” she murmurs, watching me, “there are several other very good reasons why I should walk away right now.”
She gives me an even look. “Such as the fact that if you’re here, in San Francisco, of legal age as you put it, chances are good that you’re enrolled at Starfleet Academy. And while any other freshman cadet might get away with claiming ignorance of Starfleet’s fraternisation policies, as the son of an admiral I know you’re well aware that a lieutenant commander who associates with a cadet is opening herself up to all kinds of uncomfortable accusations.”
“What association?” I counter. “We’re just having a drink.”
She observes me for a moment longer, then turns, nodding to the bartender. “Just a drink, then, Tom.”
“… And then Lieutenant Graves materialised in front of Captain Shurn, naked as a jaybird with his face painted blue, stammering about Ensign Taria sending him the wrong transport coordinates for their tryst, and the captain said – the captain said …” Kate breaks off into husky giggles, then purses her lips, holds her fingers up above her head and wiggles them like Andorian antennae. Deepening her voice, she intones, “Mr Graves, I believe you’ve been the victim of a practical joke. For future reference, I suggest you study scientific texts if you wish to familiarise yourself with Andorian mating rituals, rather than relying on dubious holo-programs…”
She dissolves again, almost falling out of the booth, her laughter infectious. When we finally straighten up, wiping the tears away, I realise that at some point one or both of us has shifted even closer in the confines of the booth. Her bare thigh is pressed against mine, and as she leans forward to pick her glass up from the table, her shoulder brushes my chest. I rest my arm along the cracked leather behind her so that when she leans back, it encircles her shoulders. She wiggles a little in her seat, the side of her body against mine.
I wonder if she’s doing it on purpose.
Her friends left hours ago, drifting away from the booth Kate invited me into, as the table grew sticky with spilled drinks and the minutes liquefied past midnight. I expected her to leave as well. But she stayed, wedged firmly into the booth beside me, and ordered another bottle of scotch.
Actually, we haven’t been drinking all that much. She’s been telling me stories of deep space and away missions and the pranks she and her shipmates pull when they’re bored, and I’ve been busy listening to her low, husky voice and watching the way her dress clings to her body as she gestures and moves in her seat.
And besides, if tonight goes the way I’m starting to dare hope it will, I don’t intend to be drunk.
The terrible band strikes up a slow number, and Kate slips out of the booth, grabbing my hand. “C’mon,” she says. “Maybe they’ll sound better if we’re dancing.”
They don’t, but everything feels better. Her small hands on my chest, mine on her hips, her slim body brushing mine as we move. The hard-on I’ve been trying to tame for the last three hours swells to almost painful proportions. For a moment I’m embarrassed, because what if I’m misreading this? But then she slides her hands up around my neck and sways into me, giving me the most incredible view down her cleavage, and I decide to just go with it. What’s the worst that can happen?
I pull her closer, one hand moving up over her waist, my thumb resting against the side of her breast. I hold my breath, but she doesn’t back away. In fact, I could swear she turns slightly into my touch. I press my face into her sweet-smelling hair.
“Have I told you how good you look in that dress?”
She glances up at me with that half-smile. “Are you trying to seduce me, Cadet Paris?”
I’m not imagining the invitation in her voice. I’m not.
I let my other hand drift a little further south, my fingers tracing the outline of her ass in that spectacularly short dress. “Is it working?”
Her lashes are lowered and I can’t see her eyes. I see her draw in a breath to speak, but before she does, the cacophony of so-called musicians reaches a feedback loop and then falls completely silent.
Into the vacuum, the lead singer bellows unnecessarily into the microphone that it’s closing time, and I raise my head and realise all the tables have been wiped and the bartender is polishing glasses. We’re almost the last ones here.
She steps out of my arms. “I guess we’re being kicked out.”
“Hey, Red,” the sax player calls, and she turns her head inquiringly. “Any time you want to sing with us again, just say the word.”
“Is he deaf?” I mutter disbelievingly.
Kate turns to glare at me and mock-punches my shoulder. “Be careful, Tom, or you’ll never get the chance to find out just what other talents I can demonstrate with my lips.”
The way she licks the lips in question, I’m left in no doubt that she’s not talking about kissing.
“Why, Lieutenant Commander,” I can’t help the stupid wide grin that’s breaking out over my face, “are you telling me you have a dirty mouth?”
She gives me that slow, curling smile. “Oh, Cadet, you have no idea.”
Challenge accepted, I read in her eyes, and she says, “Come with me.”
Christ in heaven, I can’t believe this is happening to me.
She’s on her knees, small body snug between my spread legs. Her dress, half-unzipped, has slipped off her shoulder and I can just see the taut bud of one nipple peeking over the top. Her glorious hair is spread over my naked thighs, and her mouth is wrapped around my cock, sucking deep and slow, her cheeks hollowing as she pulls up to curl her tongue around the head, red lips stretching as she sinks down until I’m balls-deep in her throat. It’s all I can do not to give into the explosion building inside me, but I desperately want to make this last.
Tonight is turning out better than my wildest dreams.
I slide my fingers down the undulating muscles of her throat, over her collarbone until I can cup her breast in my hand, and she moans, the sound vibrating around my rigid penis.
That’s all it takes.
“Kate,” I gasp, warning her, and she pulls back until the head of my cock rests on her tongue, her fingers wrapped around the base. It feels like a fountain’s gushing out of me. She swallows it down, licking her lips to catch the last drops, and I think I fall a little bit in love. No other girl I’ve been with ever did that.
She rests her pointed chin on my thigh and smirks up at me. “Now, what was that you were saying about my mouth?”
I’m too busy breathing to speak.
She gets to her feet, ambles into her kitchen, comes out with two glasses of water and hands me one, sitting beside me. I watch the muscles move in her throat as she drinks, and I reach up and stroke the pale skin. She puts down her glass and smiles at me. “That was fun.”
And that sounds a little … final. “You’re not kicking me out, are you?”
She gives me wide eyes. “Only if you’re done.”
Done? Is she kidding? My cock’s already twitching again; glancing down, she notices and hides a smile.
“Well,” she murmurs, “in that case, I think I might be overdressed,” and she glides to her feet, her back to me, slowly inching the zipper on her dress all the way down. She shrugs a little and the dress whispers to the floor, and she’s standing there in her panties and high heels, her head turned toward me over one shoulder. The next thing I know I’m pressed up against her back with my mouth fastened onto her neck and my hands cupping her bare breasts. She gives a breathy little moan and arches her neck, and I start shuffling us forward. “Where’s your bedroom?” I mumble into her skin.
“That way,” she gestures vaguely, her eyes closed, so I swing her up into my arms and head for the nearest closed door.
Her chin is resting on my chest, her eyes heavy-lidded, soft sounds of pleasure coming from her throat as my fingers draw lazy circles on her bare back. I’m boneless and drifting in that hazy state of post-coital satisfaction. The sheets are pulled up to our hips, the blankets on the floor along with the clothes that didn’t get discarded in the living area.
She wasn’t shy in showing me what she likes. She let me scoop her up and carry her into the bedroom, but the moment I laid her down on her bed, she took charge. She pushed me onto my back and straddled me, leaning in to kiss me, her hair falling onto my chest as she took my hands and put them on her breasts. As soon as I started pinching and rubbing her nipples she sat upright and started circling her hips against me, coating my hardened cock in her slick moisture. She took one of my hands and guided it downward, curling my fingers inside her and pushing my thumb against her clit. The little moans and sighs she was making, the way she was biting her lip as I touched her – all I wanted was to be inside her. I remember pleading, practically begging as she reached back and stroked me, but it wasn’t until I felt her start to quiver and clench that she curved her hips back and pulled me into her. And it was over sooner than I wanted, but when I finished, I flipped her onto her back and buried my face between her legs, lapping at her until she shrieked and arched her hips off the bed.
Remembering it is making me get hard again; she feels it and shifts her thigh over me, chuckling. “I’d forgotten what it’s like to be with an eighteen year old.”
“You’re used to older men, huh?” I mean it to sound teasing, but maybe she hears an edge I didn’t intend, because she stiffens slightly.
“I wouldn’t say I’m used to anything in particular,” she says coolly.
I don’t know how to respond to that, so I say I’m sorry, though I don’t know what I’m apologising for.
Then I remember her dead fiancé, and the Cardassians, and I want to kick the shit out of myself.
“Fuck,” I mutter. “I’m sorry, Kate, I didn’t think. I’m an idiot.”
She gives me a questioning look, and I wave my hand helplessly. Talk about killing the mood.
“I wasn’t thinking about what you’ve been through.”
“I try not to think about it, either,” she says softly. She turns her head away, but instead of getting out of bed and kicking me out, as I’m half expecting, she rests her cheek on my chest. “Most of the time I don’t think about it. I’ve been told I’m quite gifted at the art of denial.”
“Among others.” She looks up at me again. “Your father, for one.”
“I didn’t know you were still in touch.”
It really surprises me. After my dad’s stint in the psych ward, he and my mom patched it up. Things at home have changed a little. My dad’s still an asshole and my mom’s still neurotic, but they’re not focusing it all on my sisters and me anymore. I guess their relationship therapist told them they should concentrate on fixing the problems in their marriage instead of channelling it all into their kids.
What I do know is that they talk a lot more about my father’s work. There’s probably still classified stuff he’s not allowed to tell her, but she always seems to know the details of whatever project he has on the go. Before the Cardassians, she never gave a shit; the only thing she cared about was who he was working with and how important they were.
Or how nubile they were. You can bet Kate Janeway’s name came up a few times over the years. Not lately, though. I assumed she wasn’t in the picture, but maybe I was wrong.
Maybe my father doesn’t tell my mother as much as I thought he did.
“We aren’t, really,” she answers me, carefully. “His counsellor arranged for me to attend one of his sessions. Apparently it was recommended that he … face certain things … as part of the healing process.”
“Oh,” I say, then, curiously, “and did he?”
Something passes through the depths of her eyes. “In a manner of speaking.”
I wonder what else the bastard said to her in that counselling session.
Then I wonder what he said to her when the session was over.
Then I wonder if they did more than talking.
Holy shit. She’s still looking somewhere past me, her eyes unreadable, but I know in my bones that the crazy, unfettered connection my brain just served up is the truth. Holy shit.
I don’t even know why, but I’m suddenly sick with anger. Is tonight some kind of payback for her? Or – worse – something to hold on to?
I’m struggling to keep my voice calm as I ask her, “Why did you take me home tonight?”
She turns her head to me sharply, her eyes searching mine, then sits up, pulling me with her. “Because I wanted you,” she says, emphatically. “You, Tom. I wanted you.”
And just like that, all the anger, the jealousy, it all goes away. I reach for her, wanting to kiss her, but she places a finger over my lips.
“This can’t happen again, though,” she says. “Aside from the complications it would cause, I’m breaking regulations. I could be up on charges.”
“I understand that.” I wrap my fingers around hers. “You can trust me, Kate.”
She smiles, her shoulders relaxing. Then she angles her chin down and gives me a look from under her lashes.
“So, since we’re in agreement that this is a one-time deal,” she purrs, “we should really make the most of it, don’t you think?”
As I lean in to kiss her, my brain is not the only part of my body that wholeheartedly agrees.
The sun is rising behind me as I skirt the Academy grounds, slipping through the checkpoint and into the cadets’ quarters. I press my thumb to the doorpad and step through quietly, hoping not to wake Charlie.
He’s already up, slouched at the table with his head in his hands, steam rising from a cup of coffee. His eyes are bleary as he looks up to greet me. He takes one look at my shit-eating grin and says wryly, “Well, hail the conquering hero. So who was she?”
I order my own coffee from the replicator and slide into the chair opposite. “A gentleman never tells.”
“You have a charmed life, Paris,” he mutters good-naturedly. “You are one lucky, lucky son of a bitch.”
Don’t fuck it up, Thomas, my father says in my head, but for once in my life I’m not listening.