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.
Note: Re Pathways, I completely denounce the Caldik Prime part of its Tom Paris backstory, partly because it conflicts with what’s been said on the TV show (Pathways claims the incident occurred when he was a cadet, but in Non Sequitur, it’s stated that Tom graduated from the Academy and was posted to the Exeter before Caldik Prime), and partly because it sucks.
5. The Good-For-Nothing
February, 2369 – Le Vilain, Marseille
It’s only after Lieutenant Collins and Commander Bhakra have called it a night and I’m sitting alone on the bar stool, my elbow sunk into a pool of spilled alcohol, that I realise just how seedy this place really is. My head’s light from the fourth (fifth? sixth?) shot of tequila, I’ve long since lost the battle to keep my skirt from riding up my thighs, and I’ve just started to get a little concerned about my ability to report for duty on time and sober tomorrow. Mark’s expecting my call later tonight, expecting an answer, and I have no idea what to tell him. I start to slip off the stool, wondering where I left my coat, trying to remember how to get back to my hotel.
Of course, that’s when I see him.
He’s slouched at the other end of the bar, hunched over in jeans and a leather jacket, blond hair scruffy and well past regulation length. There are three empty shot glasses in front of him and as the bartender places a fresh one on the bar, he reaches out automatically and tosses it down his throat. From the blank look on his face and the way the rotgut doesn’t seem to faze him, I’d guess that drinking alone in sleazy bars is nothing new to Tom Paris.
Considering the turn his life has taken in the past year or so, that doesn’t really surprise me. And my life is complicated enough without dealing with a fallen-angel incarnation of my longtime mentor’s son tonight. I turn to leave, but something about the beaten cast to his bearing and the glassy sheen in his eyes points my feet in his direction instead.
“Buy a girl a drink?” I say lightly, sliding onto the stool beside him.
At first I think he hasn’t heard me, but finally his head swings in my direction. His eyes are vacant as he sweeps his gaze over my body, leisurely, insolently, neck to toe and back again. It’s only when he finally focuses on my face that I see a flicker of life in those dull blue eyes.
“Fuck,” he says. “It’s you.”
“Hi,” I answer, and then I have no idea what to say.
How are you? What’ve you been doing? How’s your dad?
I don’t think so.
He angles his body toward me now, thighs sprawled wide and bracketing my legs. “A drink it is,” he drawls. “You’re buying, though. I’m broke.”
I wave the bartender over and he deposits two shot glasses of whatever Tom’s been drinking before us. “Salut,” I say, and Tom clinks his glass with mine. The rotgut burns my throat and I swallow hard, trying not to cough as tears fill my eyes. Tom laughs and reaches out to wipe a thumb below my eye; his touch is surprisingly gentle and I find myself leaning into it a little. He lets his thumb rest on my cheekbone for a moment then draws back.
“So, what’s the always classy Commander Janeway doing in this not-so-fine establishment,” he grins, and his gaze runs over me again, “dressed to thrill?”
I can’t help flushing. “Just out with some shipmates. My security officer raved about one of the local restaurants, and we went out for a few drinks after dinner.”
“And you ended up here?” He glances around the bar in amusement. “Not your usual scene, I’d have thought.”
“How would you know what my usual scene is?” I rejoin defensively. “I haven’t seen you in, what, six years?”
“Yeah, about six years.” He leans in closer, his voice silky. “But I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Now I really am blushing. I look around for the bartender so I won’t have to meet his eye. Then I feel his hand on my knee, his fingers caressing my thigh, and my gaze snaps up to his.
“Something tells me you haven’t changed all that much,” he murmurs as his hand slides up under my dress.
I gasp and squeeze my thighs together, trapping his hand. “What the hell are you doing?”
Tom’s grin broadens. “Testing a theory,” he answers. He pushes my knees apart and I feel his fingers stroking the silk of my panties. Despite myself, a rush of heat arrows straight to that part of me and I know if he keeps this up he’s going to feel how wet I’m getting. Long fingers curl relentlessly inside my panties and my thighs open further of their own accord.
There’s a shout of laughter from a table on the other side of the bar and I snap back to reality fast, pushing his hand away and crossing my legs. God, what am I doing? This is a public bar, and we’re hardly tucked away in a corner. Anyone could have seen us.
I signal desperately for the bartender.
The next shot goes down a little easier and my head swims lazily. Tom shifts his stool closer and leans his elbow on the bar, his face very close to mine. “So tell me, Commander,” he murmurs, “what are you really doing here?”
“I told you – after-dinner drinks …”
“All alone and in that very fine dress?”
I glance down at the dress in question, wondering – not for the first time – what possessed me to wear it. It’s strappy and short and tight as a tourniquet, and it leaves next to nothing to the imagination. Collins’ eyes nearly bulged out of his head when I took my coat off at the restaurant; I wonder if he’ll ever be able to look at me in uniform again without picturing me in this. And right now I don’t care. I want to believe I’m not just the poised ‘fleeter in uniform, the part I’ve been playing for years now. I need to feel wanton and dangerous for a while. I need to feel free.
I guess that’s why, when I feel Tom’s fingers on my knee again, I uncross my legs and slide a little closer.
His lips are on my throat, one hand curved possessively over my ass as the other smooths its way up the inside of my thigh. My eyes are closed, both to block out the sight of the bar and its patrons around us and to slow the spinning of my head. His fingers follow the edge of my now-soaked panties and slip inside and I moan, louder than I’d intended. I feel Tom’s mouth curve against my collarbone. “I was right,” he murmurs against my ear. “Some things don’t change.”
I open my eyes and realise the bartender is standing right in front of us, cleaning glasses as he watches us. He grins at me.
“Tom!” I shove at his shoulder, pulling his hand out from between my legs.
He lifts his head, looking mildly annoyed, sees the bartender standing close by and instantly slides off his stool, pulling me close. “Excuse us,” he says airily as he guides me to the exit with a hand on my back.
I snag my coat from a hook near the door. Outside it’s freezing, a dank fog rolling in from the harbour, and I start to shiver. “Where are we going?”
He grabs my elbow and manhandles me into an alley half a block down from the bar. “This’ll do.”
It’s not even midnight, and despite the cold there are plenty of people in the street. The alley is dimly lit but hardly secluded, and if he thinks we’re doing this here …
“You have to be kidding me –”
He shuts me up with an open-mouthed lick across my lips as he pushes me up against the brick alley wall, and I’m so shocked I can’t even stammer. His tongue is in my mouth, his hands are on my breasts, his leg pushing between my thighs, and I’m furious. I flatten my hands on his chest and shove. He stumbles back a step. We stare at each other, breathing hard.
Then his shoulders slump and he rubs a hand across his eyes like a tired child. “I’m sorry. I was way out of line.”
Maybe it’s the aura of defeat that smothers him like a blanket, maybe it’s because I’m drunk, but I want to reach him, find the remnants of the boy I used to know.
“What’s going on, Tom?”
He laughs without humour. “Trust me, it’s a long and boring story, Kate. You don’t want to know the half of it.”
Nobody has called me Kate in years, and it brings unexpected tears to my eyes; there are times I think she’s gone forever. Without hesitation, I curl my fingers into his shirt and pull him into my arms, wrapping myself around him. He’s resistant at first, but I tighten my grip and with a shudder all the tension goes out of his limbs and he’s clutching at me like I’m the only thing holding him up. He buries his face in my hair.
“It’s okay,” I whisper to him, stroking the back of his neck. “It’s okay.”
His hands come up to my face and he kisses me, his mouth moving gently over mine, and I start trembling with the startling tenderness of it. “I need you,” he says against my lips, and I stop caring that a few minutes ago I didn’t want him touching me, that we’re in a dirty public alley and there are people around and it’s bitterly cold. He needs me, and more than anything I want to give him what he needs.
And, if I’m honest, take what I need.
I take his hands from where they cradle my face and pull them down onto my body, kissing him back fiercely.
He needs no further invitation. His lips scorch a trail down my sternum as he yanks at the low neckline of my dress until the thin strap breaks, exposing me to him. I feel him squeeze my breast and take my nipple in his teeth, his hot mouth a stark contrast to the icy air, and I grab his other hand and drag it up under my short skirt. I fumble with the buttons of his jeans, my hips arching forward as he fingers me roughly, deliciously. Then I have his cock out and he takes his hands from my body and presses implacably downward on my shoulder. I stumble to my knees, grazing them on the rough ground, and he grips my chin in one hand and his erection in the other, pushing it past my lips against the last shreds of my resistance.
He works himself into my mouth and I angle my neck sharply to take him in, relaxing the muscles of my throat. His hands are wound tightly, almost painfully into my hair as he begins to thrust; I dig my fingers into his hips to control his movements and he backs off a little. I make a grateful sound in my throat. He groans at the vibrations, letting go of my hair with one hand and reaching downward to pinch my exposed nipple. It makes me twitch and whimper around him and he hisses, fucking my mouth harder. I let him thrust into my throat, taking him deeper, until he begins to use his grip on my hair to control the movement. I can’t get enough air. I shove the flat of my hand against his hip in protest, scraping my teeth against him, and he yelps and pulls out, his hand still twisted in my hair.
“Jesus!” I hiss as tears of pain prickle my eyes. “Take it easy, okay?”
He loosens his fingers from my hair and strokes it in apology, then helps me to my feet, dipping his head to kiss me again. I’m so unsettled by the sweetness of his kisses compared to his ungentle handling of my body that I let him kiss me, leaning into him as his tongue strokes inside my mouth.
“Let me make it up to you,” he promises as his mouth moves down my neck. He touches me softly now, carefully, fingertips skating over my breasts and ribs as he sinks to his knees. He moves my legs apart and pushes my panties aside, licking up into me. I twitch and gasp, falling back against the wall as two long fingers slide into me, curling deliciously as he laps and sucks at my clitoris. The unmistakable ache of my impending climax begins to gather strength and I start to shake, biting my lip to stifle the sounds I’m making. He wraps his lips around my clit and swirls his tongue and my breath comes out on a shuddering moan as heat licks through me. Only his hands on my thighs hold me upright as the force of my orgasm bows my body against him.
Tom gets to his feet and wipes a hand across his mouth, grinning. “Good?”
I can only nod; I’m still catching my breath.
He pulls me close for a lingering kiss. “Want more?”
“God, yes. But not here.”
He steps back and grabs my hand. “My place is just around the corner.”
My mouth falls open in shock and I punch him on the shoulder, hard. “And you wanted to fuck me in an alley?”
He laughs, unrepentant, and drags me out into the street before I can tug my skirt down to a respectable length or button my coat to hide my exposed flesh. “Come on,” he says. “If you liked that, you’re gonna love what I plan to do to you next.”
Bent over the back of the couch with my face shoved into a cushion, my cuffed hands outstretched and my tiptoes barely touching the floor, for the first time tonight I feel a cool trickle of fear. His hand splays flat between my shoulderblades, holding me down. He’s so strong, and he’s fucking me so hard the couch scrapes a couple of inches across the floorboards with every thrust, and I know tomorrow there’ll be a bruise across my hips and lower belly where the couch frame is digging into them.
I have absolutely no control here. And yet protesting, stopping him, is the last thing on my mind, because his cock is so thick and so long and so talented and he’s using it to penetrate so deep inside me that all I can do is moan.
His fingers press into my mouth and I open my lips to suck them in greedily, scraping my teeth along them, hearing him hiss. He pulls them away and I feel them, wet and insistent, between the cheeks of my ass. He works one long finger slightly into my ass and I groan and buck helplessly upward. He takes that, correctly, for assent, pushing in further, his other hand moving to curl around the front of my thigh and pinch my clit. He twists his finger in counterpoint to the rhythm his cock is pounding inside me, and I scream, long and loud, shaking violently with the force of my climax.
He lets me ride through it, and when I collapse, trembling, over the couch, he pulls out of me and rubs the head of his cock against me from my clit to my ass. I can’t help pressing back against him a little and moaning. He rests the head of his cock against the small opening and pushes just a little, wringing a gasp from me.
“Yes?” he asks, leaning forward to bite lightly at the nape of my neck.
I’ve never done this before. Mark wants to, but I’ve always shied away from the idea. Now, in this sordid hotel room with this disreputable man, I can’t think of anything I want more.
“Please,” I whisper.
He pulls back. “If we’re gonna do this, we’re doing it right. Don’t move.”
I feel his absence, hear him fumbling for something, and I get a sudden mental flash of the way I must look: sprawled naked and sweaty over the back of the couch, my legs spread and my backside in the air. Then he’s back, his fingers coated in some kind of cool gel and sliding slowly into my ass, and I couldn’t care less what I look like. I raise my hips, whimpering and wanting more, and he scissors two fingers inside me, stretching me carefully. “Does that feel good?” he whispers, his lips against my ear, and I can’t help the low groan that escapes me.
“I think you’re ready,” he murmurs when my moans have started hitching like sobs, and he replaces his fingers with his penis, inching inside me so slowly that my fingers curl into the cushions. When he’s buried inside me as far as he can go, he stills, his hand flat on the base of my back. “Okay?” he asks.
“God, yes.” My voice is rough.
“We’ll take it slow,” he murmurs, and he draws out smoothly and then pushes back in, and again, making me groan and catch my breath.
The pain-pleasure is exquisite. I feel like I’m losing my mind.
I feel his breath hot on my ear as he leans over me and growls, “I’m going to fuck you now, Kate. I’m going to fuck your tight little ass until you can’t walk. Are you ready?”
I can’t speak. I can only nod. I feel his hands move to my hips as he thrusts a little deeper, a little harder. I start to whimper and push back into him, and he groans and grips my hips, pulling and pushing me against him. He’s driving into me now, fast and rough, and I feel the coiled tension building inside me and know I’m going to come harder than I’ve ever come before. He tweaks my clit just as he grinds his hips a little and I buck and shriek, my whole body writhing and clenching, and I hear him shout something unintelligible as he spills himself into me, his body falling forward over my back.
We lie there panting as the sweat cools on our skin, and then he shifts and slips out of me. He pushes himself upright, carelessly using a flat hand on my back for leverage, and the casual disinterest in that motion makes my stomach clench.
The sex tonight has been desperate, degenerate, but until this moment I always felt like I was present; like we were present. But the way he uses me to straighten up as if I’m a handy piece of furniture, the sheer lack of concern for me, the woman whose body he just turned into jelly, makes me want to get the hell out of this room, right now.
I stand on trembling legs, holding my cuffed hands out. “Take these things off me,” I demand, and he looks around in mild surprise as if he’s already forgotten I’m here.
He fishes the key out of his back pocket and ambles over, half-naked and unapologetic, spent penis hanging out of the open fly of the jeans he never bothered to take off.
He unlocks the cuffs while I avoid his eye. I shimmy into my indecent dress, holding the torn pieces of bodice together in one hand, shove my feet into the torturous shoes, shrug on my coat. I can’t find my panties.
Tom slouches against the doorframe as I try to move past him. “Leaving so soon?” he murmurs, sliding a hand inside my coat to encircle my waist. I stiffen as he pulls me against him.
“I have to go.”
He pulls his arm away. “Yeah,” he says without inflection. “Things to do, huh.”
I push open the door and step over the threshold, relief already quickening my step, but something makes me look back at him. He’s watching me, and there’s an expression on his face that’s both bitter and desolate, like something vital in him left a long time ago and he’s given up hope of ever getting it back. I almost stop – almost turn back to him – but then the look is gone, his face smoothed out, and I hesitate for just an instant before I flee.
I make it back to my hotel room, strip, step straight into a hot-water shower. I sponge away the sweat and semen and lean against the shower wall. I’m sore – I’ll probably be sore for days – in places both familiar and unfamiliar. My knees are scraped and there are darkening finger-shaped bruises on my wrists, my hips and thighs. I’ll have to use a dermal regenerator before I can let Mark make love to me again.
I’ve missed Mark’s comm call. Curled up in an armchair, wrapped in a hotel robe with my fingers linked around a steaming cup of coffee, I replay his message. His hair is a little mussed as though he’s been raking his fingers through it. He looks tense, which is no surprise considering the way I reacted this morning when he proposed.
Hey, Kath. I hope you’re having a nice night with your friends. Your sister called about the party this weekend. I was kind of hoping we could make an announcement then.
He pauses, scratching nervously at the back of his head. I don’t mean to pressure you. I just – I love you, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else, ever.
I miss you. Call me when you get in.
The screen blanks off, and I stare at it, unfocused.
I’m not stupid. I know what tonight was about. My last-ditch rebellion before I settle into the life that’s always been expected of me – stable marriage, a couple of kids, a commendable career, an admiralty in my future. The perfect Starfleet life, for the woman from a perfect Starfleet lineage. I guess I’ve always known deep down what I’m destined for, no matter how hard I try to pretend I’m a rebel.
And I do love him. I do. He’s good for me. I can recognise that, despite my attraction to men who aren’t.
I pull the vidscreen toward me and tap in Mark’s number.
I’m going to say yes. I’m going to marry him. And I’m going to hope I never see Tom Paris again.
I wonder why I feel less guilty for so thoroughly betraying the man who loves me than I do for running out on the man who said he needs me.