Just a Touch : A Paris/Janeway interlude <a Star Trek Voyager story> by Brenda Antrim (**warning** contains graphic depictions of sexual acts -- DO NOT read if you are a minor or don't like to read adult material)
She was more alone than she had ever been, and felt it more keenly than she thought she could bear. Years of travel, lifetimes, eons of space stretched between her solitary lonely self and the only other person whom she had ever trusted to share that self. Another day of distance, carefully maintained, but the need for contact kept breaking out at odd moments. The light touch of her hand on a red-clad shoulder, the firm tensile strength of a solid back beneath her palm, the faint spicy scent of another warm being drifting to her nostrils as she leant close behind a strong neck to approve yet another attempt at speeding the vessel home.
Home. By whatever Deity might look after lost souls, she missed her home. Missed the place where she could completely relax, where the other person reached out first, where the aching loneliness was appeased by the warmth of another heart holding hers. Here, she was always the initiator, always the one reaching out. What she wouldn't give for a night when the other person did the reaching.
Kathryn extended an unsteady hand toward the viewscreen controls. She had promised herself she wouldn't do this, that she had the strength to divide her life into neat little compart- ments and do what had to be done. But sometimes the segments of her soul wouldn't stay in the little boxes she forced them into, and the overflow threatened to swamp her. When that happened she couldn't muster a defense. All she could allow herself was a brief submergence in images, memories kept secret, private moments no one else could ever be privy to, and, while a poor substitute, the closest she would allow herself to comfort.
The screen came to life, Mark's beautiful, craggy face, laughing at her as she convinced him. Blushing slightly as he finally agreed. Losing the selfconsciousness in the moment, gradually forgetting the little mechanical eye faithfully recording their movements and becoming utterly absorbed in her grace. Her arms, moving around him, seductively removing his clothing, teasing him into a frenzy. His hands, alternately holding her and freeing her, roaming with precise care over her skin. A long lazy slow coming together, lovers attuned to one another and closing everything else outside the circle. Creating their own small universe, demanding and granting pleasure. Her eyes fixed on the face of her lover, the bodies moving together on the screen, she slowly slid her fingertips along her own throat, recreating his touch on her body. The peach satin of her gown made her tingle as it slid against her flesh, sensitized by the memories called forth by the images hypnotizing her. One hand slipped into the heavy mass of her hair, drawing a pin from the rich auburn depths, then another, and another, until it began to flow around her face. Lost in the memories, feeling another's hands where her own now passed, she was unaware of the passage of time. Or the silvery tears gently tracing her curved jaw to fall, staining the fabric of her gown.
"Oh man oh man, am I in it deep now."
Harry looked over from his control panels to widen his eyes questioningly at his friend. Paris half slouched at the conn, looking for all the world like a man facing his own executioners. The young ensign wondered what could cause such a sticken look on Paris' normally cocky features, but wasn't sure he should ask. Voyager's pilot had been on her Captain's nasty list for the last two days, ever since an unexpected, albeit effective and brilliant, series of maneuvers had landed them right in the middle of an asteroid belt. Unfortunately, Tom hadn't warned anyone before taking off, and Tuvok hadn't seen the Kazon attack ship until after the evasive maneuvers, so Janeway had verbally ripped strips off of Tom until the situation became clear. After that, she had commended him for his piloting and ripped a few more strips off for not apprising the bridge crew of the reasons for his sudden actions. His relatively meek offering that there hadn't been enough time did nothing at all to mollify her. Since then, she had watched him like a hawk. The Captain was a hard taskmaster, and warm personality aside, wasn't about to stand for a breach of dicipline on the bridge. Even if it had been inspired flying.
Before Harry could decide how to phrase the question, Paris solved his dilemma by volunteering the information. "Ensign Kim, I've found another area of the ship's navigational controls that were weakened by the, uhm, unexpected stress yesterday." Harry's eyes met Tom's with perfect understanding. At this rate, Tom was *never* going to get off the Captain's hit list.
Tuvok looked up from his station at Security. "Has the Captain been informed of this, Mr. Paris?"
Tom rolled his eyes before turning to the Vulcan with a serious expression. "No, Mr. Tuvok, I just *found* the problem."
"What is the severity of the damage?" Tuvok's dispassionate voice gave no indication he had even noticed Tom's sarcasm. Paris sighed. It just wasn't any fun to tease a Vulcan.
"It will be a power drain we really can't afford, if we try to restore these circuits while still at full impulse. We're going to need to shut down some systems in order to effect repairs."
Tuvok nodded, and notifed Engineering. B'Elanna didn't sound too happy about having to shut down her engines for awhile, but then, Paris reflected, B'Elanna didn't usually sound too happy about anything, so it wasn't much of a stretch for her. His wandering thoughts were recalled by Tuvok's dry command.
"I believe you are the most appropriate person to convey the latest news to Captain Janeway, Mr. Paris."
Tom glared at him for a moment, then sighed again. Maybe Vulcans *did* have a sense of humor, after all. He clenched his jaw and swallowed heavily, then tapped his communicator badge.
"Paris to Captain Janeway."
"Janeway here." Funny, she sounded odd. Sort of softer, somehow. He pushed the thought from his mind and concentrated on his report. "Captain, I found further damage to the navigational controls. We'll have to cut back the engines to make repairs." He winced in anticipation of her reaction, and was stunned when she replied softly, "Do it."
That was it? Just, 'do it'? No, 'Mr. Paris, is there anything ELSE you need to tell me? Knocked the warp core cockeyed, perhaps?' Unwilling to push his luck, he merely smiled broadly and briskly returned, "Yes, ma'am!"
Harry shook his head. Trust Tom to find some way out of another tonguelashing, although for the life of him Harry couldn't figure out how he'd escaped. The Captain must be in a good mood.
Paris returned to his instruments, whistling softly with relief, then stopped dead. Tuvok had placed a datapadd between his face and the panel, with a full report of the damages Tom had just found. According to the rating, it required the Captain's signature. It appeared Mr. Tuvok was not going to let him get away so easily. When she read this list, his hide was toast.
"Well. That was fast. So, Tuvok," he said softly, shooting a glance at the still figure from the corner of his eye, "what'd I ever do to you?"
"Procedure, Mr. Paris," the security chief responded impassively. "One day you *will* learn the proper procedures."
Tom knew when not to push. He stood, took the padd from the dark fingers with what in a less rigidly restrained person would be called a snarl, and marched from the bridge. Harry watched him with wide eyes.
So much for Tom's escape.
He stopped to gather his resolve, standing uncomfortably in the hall outside her door. It wasn't unusual for crewmembers to come to the Captain's quarters with reports, especially when there were signatures that needed to be obtained and explanations to be made. It was a little out of the ordinary to come so late, but Tom decided he'd rather get it over with now. Tuvok had made a point with the alacrity he'd shown in handing over the damage report. Better to face the music now than get chewed twice over in the morning, once for the contents of the report and a second time for the delay in presenting it to her. Tom ran a finger around the suddenly tight collar of his uniform, and pulled his shoulders back. Might as well get it over with.
She didn't consciously hear the chime, too caught up in the heated scene playing itself out on the screen. Mark was nearing his peak, and she loved to watch his face when his world shattered. He was so incredibly beautiful to her. And so very far away. Paris heard the command, wondering at the unusual huskiness and depth in the Captain's voice as she bade him, "Come." She sounded strained, as if she were coming down with a cold or something. He shrugged and waited for the door to slide open, surprised at the semidarkness of the room. Maybe she had a migraine. He really couldn't blame her if she did, considering the sort of days they had been having to -- his thoughts froze. Sapphire eyes widened and his hand tightened convusively on the datapadd, nearly cutting his skin on the edges. His feet stopped moving, and his body jerked to a silent stop. He couldn't quite believe what his eyes were trying to tell him. He swallowed heavily and stared.
She stood outlined by the wash of starlight from the port, hair unbound, flowing around her shoulders like a living thing. Some sort of silky gown swirled around her body, a slip of peach in the darkness, warming her pale skin. One of her hands was curved around her own throat, caressing the skin at the corner of her jaw. The other drew his fascinated gaze, as it ran urgently along her thigh, over her stomach, along the center of her torso to cup her breast. She was completely unaware of his presence, caught up in something she was watching on a small viewscreen sitting parallel to his path, so he was unable to see that held her enthralled. Her lips were slightly parted, and he found his own breath quickening, matching the aroused rhythm of hers. She was stunningly lovely, a fact he'd only noticed in passing and never as breathtakingly as he saw tonight.
Suddenly, his mind kicked back into gear, as he realized just what he had stumbled into and how badly he had blown it this time. Trying to leave as unobstrusively as possible, he stumbled slightly as he turned, and his numbed hand lost its grip on the datapadd. The crash of the instrument hitting the deck sounded unnaturally loud in the hushed room, and she whirled toward him, suddenly and completely aware of his presence. His confused apology died on his lips as he saw her face.
Tears. He hadn't expected the tears. Her eyes were wide and anguish showed plainly in the blue gray depths, not the embarrassment he had expected. Not conscious of his actions, only aware of a strong need to comfort her, to take that pain away, he stepped toward her and gently raised a hand to brush at the moisture on her cheek. To his amazement, she closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, her firm mouth softening in response to his concern. Datapadd forgotten, moving on instinct, he raised a second hand to her face, cupping it tenderly. She opened her eyes then, seeing the worry in his open face. She didn't consider their positions, or who they were, or what it might mean. He was there, warm and close, and he was the one reaching out to touch her. A tiny voice in the back of her mind warned her that she would undoubtedly regret this in the morning, shrieked angrily at her to regain her decorum, her command distance. But she was so damned tired of distance, and Mark was so very, very far away.
His thumbs brushed lightly over her cheeks, then his fingers slid of their own volition into the loose hair behind her ears. He found himself leaning toward her, her features swimming out of focus as he brushed her lips with his, once, twice. Slowly, giving her time to decide, time to call a halt if she chose. To his relief and unexpected excitement, her arms curved around his waist to draw him against her. The attraction he had felt when he first caught sight of her over the broken down equipment at the penal settlement flared into life, startling him with its intensity. She felt his arousal, mirroring her own need, and her body responded.
His skin was unexpectedly soft under her hands as she parted the fastenings on his uniform to give herself better access to him. He backed away slightly, giving her the space she demanded. He never lost contact with her, trailing his fingertips along her curving jawline, tracing the path she had taken short moments before. His other hand played with the strap of her gown, sliding the fabric sensuously along her shoulder, pushing it gently but insistently down over her upper arm. She interrupted his movements, trapping his arms momentarily as she deftly pulled the jumpsuit down his torso, then reversing her motion to pull the turtleneck undershirt up over his head. He allowed the quick secession of caresses but returned swiftly to take up where he had left off, running skilled fingers along her arms, her shoulders and back, swirling her hair against her skin, running along the fine bones of her ribs, skirting her full breasts and skim- ming along her delicate collarbone. She returned the favor, burrowing her fingertips through the fine golden curls covering his chest, palms testing the strength of the smooth, hard muscle beneath the soft skin, pausing to tease a nipple to taut awareness. Her eyes followed her hands, fascinated by the crisp pattern of hair narrowing into his briefs. He caught his breath as her questing fingers dipped below the band, outlining his erection where it pushed against the thin material.
Unable to resist, he slowly raised her chin and angled her lips to meet his. Her mouth opened to his, and he sucked gently at her tongue, inviting her to join him, to come in and play. She took him up on the invitation, following his lead this time, exploring his full lower lip, the firm ridge of teeth, and the delicate roof of his mouth. He moaned deeply in his throat, and she responded in kind. Not breaking contact between their mouths, he toed off his boots, careful not to accidentally bruise her unprotected shins. He stumbled slightly over the uniform bunched around his knees, cursing silently to himself. She finally drew back, sensing his predicament, and bent to pull the uniform the rest of the way off his long legs. He stepped away from it, leaving it lay on the floor, and she pulled him further into the room, to a wide couch under the star-filled window. The light from the star field made their skin glow, and his hands trembled as he drew the gown further down her body, finally bunching it in one fist and pulling it from under her hips. He rubbed the material lightly against her sensitized skin as he took it down her legs, stopping to kiss the tender skin as it was revealed, pausing to place a light kiss along her thigh, a nibble along the back of a knee, a light lick along a delicate anklebone. She was shuddering now at the touch of his hands and his lips and his tongue, watching in vague disbelief and intense arousal as he worshipped her body.
He felt the tremors running through her muscles, and tossed the gown to the floor, joining his uniform. With controlled strength, he continued the full body caress until he got to her breasts. He lingered there, tasting her, teasing her nipples until she started to writhe underneath him. She had been curiously passive through much of the encounter, allowing his touch and caressing him lightly, but not making any sound and not making any demands. That changed as her arousal reached fever pitch. In a sinuous movement that took him unawares, she gripped his waist with one strong arm and hooked a leg behind his bent knees, flipping him expertly onto his back and coming to rest with her pelvis pressed firmly against his, their chests separated by only centimeters. His widening eyes met hers, pupils huge in the dim light, and she leaned down to kiss him harshly, almost angrily. He was surprised by the change for a mere moment before he responded to her urgency, gripping her buttocks hard before nudging her legs apart and dipping his fingers into the wet heat he found there. She moaned, suddenly, as he sank two fingers deep into her channel, pushing herself back against his hand fiercely. He let her ride his hand, rythmically thrusting the edge of his hand against her clit, throwing his head back to allow her access to the side of his throat. She accepted his invitation, her teeth raking a path of fire from below his ear along his throat to fasten in the bunched muscle at his shoulder.
His hand wasn't enough. Abruptly, she raised herself away from him, reaching between them to grasp his straining cock with one hand and spread herself wider with the other. His hips thrust instinctively, seeking her opening, and she guided him in with no wasted movement. As she settled on his hips, taking him deeply within her, he couldn't hold back the little wail that was torn from his chest. It had been a very long time since he had made love, and even longer since he'd been taken so thoroughly. Every nerve under his skin felt as though it was on fire, and his entire being was centered on the flesh pumping up into her hot slickness, the feel of her breasts in his hands as he kneaded them almost frantically, the taste of her sweat-slicked jaw and throat and mouth above his as she rained greedy kisses over every part of his face, the two of them licking and sucking at one another as if they were starving. She felt the tension in her legs, the fine trembling throughout her body, and concentrated on the strong body jerking under hers, in hard counterpoint to her own thrusts. One of his hands worked its way down from her breast to the juncture of their bodies, diving through the dark curls intertwined with golden brown, seeking her clit and flicking it mercilessly. The sudden intense sensation broke her control completely, and she slammed down onto him, coming in a contraction of muscles so strong her entire body clenched, then clenched again, and again. A long cry tore from her throat, Mark's name, hoarse and almost unrecognizeable. He rode with her through the storm, never losing his stroke, pushing her as far as she could go, until the muscles milking his cock broke his control as well. As she was coming down from her high, he was reaching his, screaming as his world exploded and he pumped into her until the spasming finally stopped, until he could breathe again and the sparkling lights disappeared from behind his eyelids.
She collapsed, sprawling across his chest, her legs tangled with his, her hair drifting across his face and catching in his mouth. He raised a shaky hand to draw it away, the slide of their sweat- soaked bodies drawing residual shivers from him as he tried to calm his pounding heart. What the hell had just happened here? Looking somewhat wildly around the room, his eyes settled on the still-running viewscreen. A man he didn't recognize was making slow, passionate love to a woman he recognized all too well. From the background, he would guess that it was a private vid, a personal reminder of her lover at home. A home she wouldn't be returning to for a very long time. Unbidden, tears started to his eyes, surprising himself. She must be so lonely.
"We all are."
Her whisper startled him. He hadn't realized that he had spoken aloud. She stirred, then awkwardly moved away from him. The sudden disconnection when he slid from her body jolted another gasp out of him, but she made no sound. As he watched, uncertain of himself, she pulled herself to a seat on the edge of the bed. With a softly spoken command she killed the viewscreen, and stared at the stars outside the window for a long moment.
He studied her for awhile, wondering what was going through her mind, and remembering the name she had cried out as she climaxed. Not his name. It must be the lover she had been watching, and crying over, when he entered her quarters. He sighed silently. It wasn't the first time he had been a substitute. She was his Captain, but she was also a woman, and she had to be hurting as much as anyone else on the crew. Maybe even more so, since they could pair up, have dates, try to be as normal as possible. Who could she turn to? Chakotay? Probably not even him. She was too much of a stickler for decorum. He glanced down at his exhausted body, covered with their combined sweat and juices, and his mouth twisted wryly. Well, when she wasn't taken by surprise during what should have been private moments, she was a stickler for decorum. When she still made no effort to talk to him, or even look at him, he pulled his knees up close to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. Might as well get this over with.
"I apologize, Captain."
The formal words, coming from a nude man with whom she had just had wild sex, shook her out of her reverie. She swivelled her head and look at him, one brow quirked, trying not to stare. He really was a beautiful man. Different than Mark, firmer, more wiry, and younger ... my god, she felt like a cradlesnatcher. Then she flashed on his skillfully controlled frenzy as he drove her out of her mind, and revised her opinion. Gradually, through the heat of her recollection, she realized he was talking and tuned back into the conversation.
"-had no right to enter your quarters without making sure that it was all right. I mean, I heard you say 'come,' but now I realize you weren't talking to me-" His voice faltered and a wave of crimson flowed up from his chest until his entire face was blazing with embarrassment. Hurriedly, he went on. "Anyway, I am sorry for interrupting-"
Her fingers across his lips stemmed the flow of words, and he looked at her quizzically over her hand. She returned the look seriously, then drew in a deep breath. His eyes followed the rise of her breasts until he realized what he was doing, then they shot up to fix on her face. She removed her hand from his lips, feeling strangely bereft, and quickly retrieved her robe, throwing it around herself and belting it tightly. Following her lead, he moved to get his uniform from the floor, trying to ignore the silence that lay heavily between them as he searched for his underthings. She watched him dress, unable to stop herself, then wrenched her gaze away, staring unseeingly at the stars.
He picked the datapadd up from the carpetted floor, hesitantly bringing it to her. She took it from his outstretched hand, and listened as he began a technical explanation of the damages, only the unfamiliar huskiness in his tone betraying what had happened between them. Finally, she couldn't stand it any longer.
"Mr. Paris," she interrupted firmly. His eye narrowed, and he nodded unconsciously, accepting that whatever temporary aberration had overtaken Janeway was now long past. "You have no cause to be sorry. I apologize, for taking out my loneliness and frustration on you."
The thought crossed his mind that she could take it all out on him any time she got the urge, but he wisely kept the thought to himself. Instead, he replied quietly, "We're all homesick, Captain. Some of us are lucky, and can find someone to ease that a little. Some of us aren't so lucky."
She looked steadily back at him, an odd combination of command and vulnerability in her eyes, and he had an almost overpowering urge to take her back into his arms and just hold her. Almost, but not quite. Right now, that was the last thing she would accept. He drew himself to attention, an unusual stance for him, and nodded soberly.
She accepted his unexpected tact with gratitude, smiling slightly and gesturing with the padd. "Thank you for the report, Lieutenant."
He smiled back, a bit sadly. "Sleep well, Captain." He turned and left, and she followed him with her eyes. As the doors closed behind him, she resolutely shut the memories of the last few hours out of her mind. But as she sat at the small desk and began to review the technical reports, some small part of her couldn't help reflecting that, for once, it had been nice to be the one who was touched. She was unaware of the softness in the smile playing about her lips, unaware of the match to it that was etched on Tom Paris' mouth, and unwilling to admit that for once, she would sleep very well indeed.