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.
6. The Captain
April, 2371 - Federation Penal Settlement, Auckland
I turn, and almost fall over.
“Kathryn Janeway,” she says. “I served with your father on the Al-Batani. I wonder if we could go somewhere and talk?”
Is she serious? The last time I saw her I had her handcuffed and bent over the back of the couch in a filthy hotel room, and she’s introducing herself like we’ve never even met? I realise I’m gaping, and shut my mouth with a snap. “About what?” I manage.
“About a job we’d like you to do for us.” She’s got her hands clasped behind her back, her hair pinned up in a bun that’s just begging for me to shove my hands into it. Her face is perfectly impassive. But then I look into her eyes.
She knows damn well I know who she is, and she doesn’t want me to let on.
We’re being observed.
“I’m already doing a job for the Federation.”
“I've been told the Rehab Commission is very pleased with your work. They've given me their approval to discuss this matter with you.”
I stand slowly, looking down at her. “Well then, I guess I’m yours.”
The silky undertone in my voice is intended for our eavesdroppers. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I choose to ignore the fact that these days even when I tell the truth it sounds like a lie.
She stiffens ever so slightly and turns, not bothering to check if I’m following. As if there’d ever be any doubt. She starts talking, and I’m barely listening, too busy staring at her slender shoulders and her firm jaw and the captain’s pips on her collar. Fuck, she’s beautiful. I want to rip off those pips with my teeth and –
“- we’d like you to come along.”
“You’d like me to lead you to my former colleagues?” I stop and face her. “I was only with the Maquis a few weeks before I was captured, Captain. I don't know where most of their hiding places are.”
She says she’s looking for a spy Starfleet stuck on Chakotay’s ship, and she wants me to help her track them down. Jesus, the irony of proving that asshole right about me. “What’s in it for me?” I ask her.
She says something vague about talking me up at my next parole hearing. Seriously? I’ve served eighteen months of a two year sentence and I’m keeping my nose clean. I’ll be out of here in no time – I don’t need her help. And she knows that as well as I do.
So what’s her game here?
I realise I want to find out.
She tells me I’ll be an observer and I make the expected protest about my unparalleled piloting skills, and then she says, “When it’s over, you’re cut loose,” and flicks me a glance. It takes me a moment to realise what she’s giving me. What she’s risking for me.
“Story of my life,” I answer automatically, hoping like hell that whoever’s watching us is convinced. Because I might be out of Federation rehab in a few months’ time, but I’ll never really be out of prison.
The ship is still on full alert by the time I stagger back to my quarters, exhausted, grimy and shell-shocked. We managed to put some distance between us and the Kazon before Lieutenant Carey insisted we drop to impulse until he could be certain the magnetic constrictors weren’t going to fail again. I put Voyager into standard orbit around some Class L planet, ringed by an asteroid belt with a high concentration of ion radiation that Harry said would hide us from the Kazon’s sensors, handed the conn to Ensign Jenkins and went to work on the damaged navigational array. Seven hours later, Tuvok reminds me that I’ve been on my feet for thirty hours straight and orders me to bed.
I stumble into the sonic shower, barely keeping my feet. My eyes are already closing when I fall onto the bed, too tired even to pull on pyjamas. But as my head sinks into the pillow, her face burns behind my eyes.
I have to see her.
“Computer, locate Captain Janeway.”
~Captain Janeway is in her quarters.~
“Is she awake?”
~Affirmative. Captain Janeway is awake and active.~
Of course she is.
My uniform is filthy. I pull on jeans and a sweater – the only civilian clothes I brought with me – scrub a hand through my hair and follow the computer’s directions to her quarters.
“Come,” I hear her call at my chime, and I step in and come face to face with Chakotay.
“Paris,” he says coolly.
I muster a shadow of my trademark smirk. “How’s the leg?”
He turns back to the Captain, enquiry on his face, and she nods at him. “Thank you, Chakotay. Get some rest.”
He leaves, sparing me a glance as he goes; I’m not sure how to read his expression.
“What was he doing here?” I ask, turning back to her.
She’s still in the same uniform she’s worn for two days, the knees torn from crawling through Jeffries tubes, jacket stained with God knows what. Her hair is falling out of its chignon and there’s a smudge of dirt on her chin. Her eyes are glassy with fatigue, but she still manages to glare at me.
“Mr Chakotay and I had things to discuss.”
I’ll just bet they did. I’m about to ask for details when she raises a pale hand to her head, rubbing at her temple.
“Are you all right?”
Her shoulders slump and she sits, suddenly, as though her legs can’t hold her upright anymore.
“I’m fine,” she says automatically.
I step forward hesitantly. “You should go to Sickbay, get something for your headache.”
“God, no.” She holds up a hand. “I just need sleep.”
“I’ll leave you alone, then.”
“No.” Her response is sharp, immediate, and I stop in the act of turning away. “Please,” she says, quieter, “stay.”
I sit beside her and rest a tentative hand on her shoulder. She’s so tense she’s almost vibrating. For a long while she’s silent; I think she might be fighting tears. Then she says, her voice low and throbbing with desperation, “What have I done? God, Tom. What have I done?”
My fingers squeeze her shoulder. “You did the right thing, Kate,” I tell her.
She makes an agonised sound in her throat and turns into me, her face buried in my chest as she sobs. I rub my hands over her back and make useless soothing noises, and eventually she quiets, her breath shuddering, and she turns her face into mine and kisses me.
It’s desperate, fitful; she clings to me, yanking at my clothes as though she needs to crawl inside my skin. We make love on the floor of her living area, tears leaking from her closed eyes as she climaxes. When it’s over I roll on my back and gather her close, stroking her hair.
“Thank you,” she says. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry.”
She lifts her head, gives me a watery smile. It gives me the courage to ask her what I’ve been wanting to ask since she came to Auckland.
“So what were you planning to do with me if this mission had gone as planned?”
“I was planning to request you serve the rest of your sentence as my adjunct,” she murmurs. “I don’t know if the admiralty would have agreed, but I would have offered to assume custody of you.”
I’m stunned. She’d have taken responsibility for me, laid her reputation on the line. If I’d fucked it up it would’ve ended her career.
“Why?” I ask. “Why would you risk that for me?”
“The last time we met, I failed you,” she says quietly as her fingers trace a pattern on my chest. “I wanted to make up for that. And you deserved a second chance.”
“Second?” My mouth twists. “Most people would say I’ve had more chances than hot dinners.”
“I’m not most people.” She folds her arms across my chest, her face very close to mine. “You needed someone to believe in you, Tom. And I do.”
I don’t want to embarrass myself by crying when she obviously needs me to be strong, so I pull her close and kiss her instead.
“You asked to see me, Captain?”
I stand at ease just inside the door to her ready room.
“Mr Paris, you have a problem. I've invited Chakotay and the other Maquis to become part of this crew.”
So that’s what they were talking about last night in her quarters.
“Will you provide a bodyguard for me?” I’m only half joking.
One corner of her mouth curls. “It seems you already have one. Mr Chakotay said something about his life belonging to you. He’ll be taking responsibility for your safety.”
Well, fuck me sideways. Playing the hero paid off after all.
A grin spreads over my face. “I think I’m going to enjoy this.”
“Don’t be so sure,” she warns, then she tells me the surly son of a bitch is going to be her XO. Fantastic. Ten credits says he’ll be kicking my ass for the next seventy years.
“Everyone aboard this ship will report to him,” she continues. “Including the lieutenant assigned to conn.”
I wait for the punchline.
She’s just looking at me.
She can’t stop the smile from breaking over her face as she pins the rank pips to my collar. “You’ve earned this, Tom,” she tells me.
I’m completely dazed. I don’t even know what to say.
“I’m only sorry your father won’t know,” she says.
I don’t give a shit. What matters is that I know. She’s putting her faith in me, and I have no intention of ever letting her down.
“Oh, he’ll know,” I tell her, wanting her to know I have faith in her, too. “When we get back.”
I want to hug her. But she’s my captain now, and I know that’s not what she requires of me. So I straighten up and we smile at each other, and then I report for my first official duty shift and the beginning of my new life.