This was supposed to be a PWP. Unfortunately, I seem to be constitutionally incapable of writing without the P. It just keeps on sneaking in there when I least expect it. However, that being said, I was in the mood to write a short story that had nothing to do with anything, and it ended up being a little sadder than I‘d intended, but what do you expect from someone who loves angst as much as I do? ;)
Disclaimers: Yadda, yadda, yadda. Paramount, TPTB, theirs, not mine, borrowing, returning unscathed, etc, etc, etc.
Feedback: Craved desperately. Onlist or off.
"One Night and One Morning"
by Margaret Berger (MaisieRita@aol.com)copyright 1998+++++
(Voy, C/P, NC-17, 1/1)
Another damn alternate universe. Tom sighed and stared moodily out the window of the guest quarters he was temporarily assigned to. They warned you about Ferengi at the Academy. They warned you about black holes, hostile aliens, First Contact blunders. They didn‘t warn you about all these damn alternate universes.
And yet, here he was, again, in the wrong place. Looked like his Voyager. Smelled like his Voyager. Sounded like his Voyager. But it wasn‘t his, painfully obviously wasn‘t his, and he‘d known it as soon as he‘d stepped off the transporter pad and the ensign manning the station had fainted at the sight.
Seems Tom Paris in this universe had died several years back, after taking the ship back from the Kazon. One of them, critically wounded, had stayed behind to take his revenge, and had gotten it when Tom walked into Engineering to reclaim Lon Suder‘s body. It had been instantaneous, this Janeway assured him. Tom hadn‘t suffered. As if that mattered now. Tom took a swig of his drink and remembered back a few hours before, when an experimental conduit on his shuttle had burst and started leaking dangerous contaminants all over the place. Tom had opted to beam directly back to Voyager rather than to struggle into an environmental suit and begin decontamination procedures immediately. Enviro suits. He hated them. Brought nothing but bad luck, every time, and they were a little too close for comfort.
Unfortunately, the leaking contaminants had interfered with the transporters, and one incomprehensible principle of quantum physics led to another, and now Tom was here in the wrong universe, sipping a drink even though he was technically still on duty in his own universe. Who was gonna know, anyway?
Once everyone on this Voyager had gotten over the shock of seeing Tom Paris return from the dead, they‘d come together with that same cool efficiency Tom admired so much in his own crew. "Quantum discontinuity," B‘Elanna had spouted, along with a lot of other nonsense that probably made sense to her. And to Harry, apparently, since he was nodding and interspersing his own quantum babble with hers.
Tom had never paid much attention to quantum physics. He pretended to understand and paid enough attention to understand the gist of it. They‘d get him home within 24 hours. If he‘d ended up in a universe where Tom Paris had survived, Tom figured he‘d be out about the ship now, maybe in the mess hall, maybe in Sandrine‘s. He‘d be chatting to the crew, trying to pinpoint the differences between the two universes. But here, it wasn‘t an option. One look at the grief-stricken expressions on Harry and B‘Elanna‘s faces when they realized that he didn‘t belong there, that he was going to go back where he belonged, convinced him that his best course of action was to stay low, and not put his friends through any more pain.
The chirp of the door startled him, and it took him a second to respond. "Come in?"
The door slid open and a familiar silhouette was outlined by the light coming in from the hall.
"Drinking alone, Lieutenant?"
Tom‘s best defense had always been to answer a question with a question. "Keeping tabs on me, Commander?"
Chakotay entered the room cautiously. "The computer beeped me when you replicated your fourth whiskey. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"I‘m fine. I just needed to relax a little bit."
"There‘s no need to worry. You‘ll be home tomorrow, Lieutenant. Harry and B‘Elanna are working on it. They make an excellent team."
"My universe also," Tom said. "But they‘re not married there."
"No. It‘s kind of weird seeing them together. When‘s her baby due?" "Three months." Chakotay took another few steps into the room. "I take it Harry and B‘Elanna aren‘t even dating in your universe?"
"No. Harry‘s sort of lusting after Seven."
"She‘s not seeing anyone right now."
There was just enough hesitation in Tom‘s voice to prompt Chakotay to ask, "But she was?" Tom swallowed the rest of his drink. "She and I were dating for almost a year. We broke up a few months ago."
"Don‘t be. We just didn‘t work out, that‘s all. The sex was great, but once we got past that, there wasn‘t a lot else there."
"Oh. Still friends?"
"Yeah. Better friends, maybe, now that we‘ve gotten past all that awkward sexual tension."
Chakotay grinned. "Yes, that can be awkward, can‘t it?"
"You should know."
"What do you mean?"
"Hell, you and the Captain made B‘Elanna and me look like amateurs. We never could figure out how you could work together so well on the Bridge when it was obvious all you wanted to do was jump each other‘s bones."
Chakotay grimaced. "I see you‘re just as tactful as our Tom was."
"I‘m verging on drunk, Chakotay. You can‘t expect a lot of tact from me."
"I guess not."
"So are you and the Captain together here?"
Tom‘s eyebrows raised. "You mean you were?"
"After you died. He died."
"But not before?"
"How long did you last?"
"A few months. Until she figured it out."
Tom raised an eyebrow. "Figured what out?"
"That she was just a substitute."
Chakotay was being unusually oblique, Tom thought blearily. He repeated the other man‘s comment to prompt for more information. "A substitute."
"For you. For him."
Tom blinked a few times until he got it. "You and Tom were lovers?" "No. We never were together." Chakotay paused, then spoke softly. "I never told him, and then he died before I could."
Tom was quiet. "I‘m sorry."
"Me too." Chakotay walked across the room and stared out at the stars. "How about you and your Chakotay?"
Tom crossed the room to stand beside him. "You mean, have we ever been lovers?"
Tom was taken aback by the bluntness of the question. "I don‘t know."
"I know you‘re interested in men. Our Tom dated Harry for a few months when we first got here." "So did I," Tom said. "He was sweet, but too young, and he had this hero-worship thing that made me feel like I was taking advantage of him. We were better off as friends." "So it‘s not that you‘re strictly hetero, or anything like that." "No." Tom turned slightly and looked at the familiar profile, the tattoo emblazoned on the forehead, the sharp nose outlined in the dim light of the room. "I don‘t think Chakotay was ever interested in me."
"How do you know?"
"He‘s me. I know the way I felt about Tom. I know how your Chakotay feels about you."
"Felt. Even if you‘re right about him, it‘s not true. Not any more."
"Why do you say that?"
"He‘s in love with Captain Janeway. You can see it in his eyes every time he looks at her." Tom sighed. "And she‘s in love with him, too. They‘ll figure it out sooner or later." With less alcohol in his system, he might have been able to keep the sorrow from his voice. Chakotay turned to Tom, startled. "You‘re in love with him, aren‘t you?"
Tom wouldn‘t meet his eyes. "It doesn‘t matter."
Chakotay hooked a finger under his chin, raised it until Tom‘s eyes lifted from the floor. "It matters to me."
Tom felt his breath catch in his throat as he read the intent in the other man‘s eyes. "Chakotay, I don‘t think this is a good idea."
Chakotay locked his eyes with Tom. "I think it‘s a very good idea. We‘ve only got one night, Tom.
Let‘s not waste it."
"I‘m not the Tom Paris you‘re in love with."
"You are. In all the ways that count."
Tom felt his resolve weakening as Chakotay held his gaze. "But—"
Chakotay shook his head. "You‘re not him, I know. He‘s dead. I won‘t ever be able to have him, Tom. But if you let us be together tonight, I‘ll know what I could have had, if only I‘d spoken up sooner."
"And if we‘re really good together, Chakotay, then what? Then you‘ll know what you‘re missing."
"It will be better than not knowing."
"For you, maybe. Not for me. I‘ll have to walk around on that ship, seeing him in love with her, knowing that I can‘t ever have him . . ."
"I said it would be better than not knowing. I didn‘t say it would be easy."
"It‘ll be impossible."
"If he‘s really in love with her, you‘ll never have him, Tom. You know that."
Tom‘s answer was a miserable whisper. "I know."
"Then I‘m the closest to him that you‘re going to get. And we only have one night." There was no question that Tom would be returning to his universe the next day. He belonged there. He couldn‘t stay here, even if he wanted to.
Tom stared into Chakotay‘s eyes, passion and desire warring with his self-protective instincts. Then he sighed and wrapped his arms around the other man, letting their foreheads touch. "I wish you‘d told me," he said softly.
"I was an idiot," Chakotay answered back, just as softly. "Twice."
"At least two. Who knows how many other Tom and Chakotays there are out there?" "Maybe some of them are together," Chakotay offered quietly, pulling Tom closer, dropping his hands to the other man‘s hips.
Tom moaned as Chakotay gripped him and pulled their bodies into alignment, allowing their hardening cocks to brush against each other. "I hope so," Tom murmured, before capturing Chakotay‘s lips with his own.
The kiss seemed to last forever, a mutual exploration of lips and tongue and mouth, neither one dominant, neither one submissive. Tom felt his heart pounding against his chest as he drank in the taste of the one man he wanted, the one man he knew he couldn‘t have. Except for this one night. Oh god, it was everything he‘d dreamed, and so much more than he could ever have imagined. It was impossible to tell who‘d ended it, but slowly the two men drew apart, stealing a last few quick kisses as they gasped for air. Tom blinked, and swayed unsteadily on his feet. The room was spinning around him.
Chakotay eyed him with concern, pretty sure that it wasn‘t his kisses causing Tom‘s sudden pallor.
"Are you all right?"
"The whiskey," Tom explained, closing his eyes and praying for the vertigo to pass. "I should sit down."
Chakotay took him gently by the arm and led him to the sofa, easing him down, then sitting down next to him. "Do you want me to call the Doctor?"
"No. I only had four drinks, over a couple of hours. I‘ll be all right in a minute. It‘s just been a while since I had enough rations to replicate the real stuff. I‘ve lost my tolerance for it." Chakotay smiled sadly. "I never thought I‘d hear the day when Tom Paris would admit to that," and the sentiment had layered meanings.
"I don‘t know which of us is worse off," Tom said into the resulting silence, carefully bringing up a finger to trace the dark lines of Chakotay‘s tattoo.
"How so?" Chakotay asked, trying not to gasp as the heated fingers grazed his equally heated skin.
"The man you love is dead. You know you‘ll never have him. The man I love is still alive."
"And yet you know you‘ll never have him."
Tom nodded, fingers now beginning to run through the short dark hair on his soon-to-be lover‘s head. "At least you can mourn; get over him and move on."
"At least you still have hope," Chakotay countered.
Tom shook his head. "I don‘t really have any hope."
"And I don‘t think I‘ll ever get over him."
A pain so heavy it nearly made him gasp out loud settled in Tom‘s heart as he gazed at the equally anguished man in front of him. "This one night has to count for everything, then." "Yes."
They came together then, another hungry, demanding kiss substituting for all the words they couldn‘t find to say. Hands clutched at uniforms, tore impatiently at unyielding fabric, fumbled with zippers and snaps and elastic waist bands. No slow process of discovery, here. Bodies rubbed together, already sweat-slicked and demanding, heat radiating from every pore, blood rushing down below to make them both instantly hard and frantic.
Legs wrapped around each other, drawing hips into alignment so that uncovered cocks could rub against each other freely, forcing muffled moans that traveled from one mouth to the next. Hands, freed from such mundane tasks as removing clothing, scratched backs, squeezed nipples, sought out and massaged weeping cocks.
Someone cried out and that sound echoed in the sterile air of the guest quarters. There was a short second of startled silence, when each man wondered if it had been he who‘d uttered that cry of frantic desperation, before mouths rejoined for another ravenous kiss. A dark hand floundered wildly towards the coffee table, searching out the remnants of dinner that remained scattered on a tray, dipping into the cool cream that covered the uneaten dessert. The dark hand returned, fingers coated, and sought entrance to the paler body that writhed on the couch.
"Oh god," Tom cried, arching his back into Chakotay‘s touch. He was so close to coming, his cock was as hard as the outer hull and felt as hot as the sun. Chakotay sensed it and removed his other hand from where it had been stroking, using it instead to brace himself on the couch as he gently but insistently stretched Tom‘s opening.
He inserted a finger all the way into Tom‘s tight channel, considerately rubbing against the bumpy protuberance within. Tom cried out again and clutched at the couch, drawing his legs up instinctively. The one dark finger drove in and out, performing its necessary task with practiced skill, before another finger joined it, and then another.
Tom was moaning continuously, lost in a flood of sensations. It had to be illegal to feel this good. He writhed again, helplessly, as Chakotay‘s fingers touched that place inside him. "Oh please," he gasped urgently. "Oh please."
Chakotay hadn‘t yet said a word, lost as he was in the sight of the beautiful man responding so passionately to his touch. The man he‘d lost forever, the man who would be gone after this one night . . . He‘d smoothed so much of the cream inside Tom that it was hardly necessary to spread any on himself, but he did it anyway, wanting there to be no pain involved for either of them. He gripped Tom‘s legs with greasy hands and gently thrust inside, letting out a moan as he slipped slowly and easily in the waiting passage. Oh, gods, it was so easy and so perfect. Tom accepted all of him with no resistance, and he kept pushing until he felt his balls come to rest against Tom‘s skin.
"Fuck me," Tom pleaded, forcing his eyes open for just long enough to speak the words. Chakotay was already moving, slowly pulling out of the welcoming heat surrounding him, then pushing back inside. Oh, god, the heat, the pressure, the sounds, the smells, the sight of Tom writhing beneath him . . . Chakotay moved faster and faster, unable to prevent himself from picking up the pace, until he was slamming into Tom and Tom was arching up to meet each thrust. Neither man spoke, unable to spare enough air to do more than gasp. Tom forced his eyes open again and gazed at Chakotay. The man‘s eyes were closed, his brow glistened with sweat, and his teeth were gritted in ecstasy. Not his Chakotay, but more his than the other Chakotay would ever be. "Love you," Chakotay murmured from between clenched teeth, and Tom‘s cock tightened at the words. Love, yes, gods, he loved his Chakotay, he loved this Chakotay, the two were so alike as to make no difference, and if he couldn‘t have the one he was so glad to have the other, even if for just this one night . . . He forced his eyes open again, not remembering when he‘d shut them, and the sight took his breath away: Chakotay thrusting into him, head bowed, on the brink of rapture. Chakotay brought one hand around and gently wrapped it around Tom‘s cock, and that simplest of touches was more than enough to send the younger man into orgasm. He screamed once, sobbed once, then exploded all over Chakotay‘s hand and his own chest, ass muscles clenching as the pleasure ripped through his body. Before the spasms had released his body, Chakotay was coming too, crying out joyfully to the empty air.
They collapsed onto the soft and now stained couch, breathing heavily. Tom absently trailed one hand along the contours of Chakotay‘s back, reveling in the feel of his heart pounding furiously against his ribs. He could feel Chakotay‘s heart too, and it pounded just as hard and just as fast as his own. "Incredible," he murmured, after he‘d recovered enough to speak the one word. "Yes," Chakotay agreed, raising his head just enough to be able to bring his lips to Tom‘s for a tender kiss. He felt a weary lassitude settle in his bones, and shifted restlessly. "What‘s wrong?"
"If I don‘t move, I‘m going to fall asleep."
Tom chuckled. "I‘m not surprised. Would that be a bad thing?" "Not ordinarily. But we only have tonight, Tom, and I don‘t want to waste any of it sleeping. I want to get to know every inch of you." He raised his eyes to Tom‘s face and was thrilled at the delighted and aroused grin that was spreading slowly across the other man‘s face. "Every inch?" Tom said, stretching sensuously under his lover. "I‘m pretty tall, Chakotay. That‘s a lot of inches to go through in one night."
"I know. That‘s why I think we‘d better get started." Then he pounced.
Almost eight hours later, Janeway looked around at her crew sitting at the table in the conference room. Harry and B‘Elanna, bleary-eyed after working all night, but obviously confident that they‘d be sending Tom Paris home to his ship. Tuvok, serene as always, waiting with folded hands for the meeting to begin. And Pablo Baytart, who‘d been named Senior Flight Controller after Tom‘s death and who filled the position at the conn commendably, though without Tom‘s finer instincts for flying or command. Only one senior officer was notably absent. "Computer," Janeway said finally, after it had become obvious that the missing officer was not going to appear, "location of Commander Chakotay."
"Commander Chakotay is in the guest quarters currently assigned to Lieutenant Thomas Paris." There was silence in the room, and Janeway blinked back an unbidden tear. Although the full story of Chakotay‘s feelings towards Tom was not common knowledge on the ship, there was no one among the senior staff who did not know, without question, what Chakotay‘s presence in the guest quarters signified.
"Do you wish to contact the Commander, Captain?" Tuvok inquired into the silence, after a number of minutes had passed.
Janeway‘s eyes focused, and she gazed pensively at Tuvok. "No," she said finally. "I don‘t see any reason for him to be here this morning." She cleared her throat and spoke to B‘Elanna, absently noting the way the younger woman‘s hands unconsciously stroked the belly cradling her unborn child - - a baby boy who was to be named Thomas. "Status report," she requested briskly. "We‘ve completed the preparations for transport, Captain," B‘Elanna answered, her eyes turning reflexively to Harry‘s. "We can send him back at any time." "Already?" Janeway spoke without thinking, and damned herself immediately afterwards. Harry explained, almost apologetically. "We thought he‘d want to get home as soon as possible. We didn‘t know . . . I mean, we didn‘t think he‘d want to stick around, so we worked through the night, and . . ."
Janeway waved her hand to silence him. "It‘s all right, Lieutenant. I just wish we could give them a little more time together."
After a long pause, B‘Elanna spoke. "We can give them as much time as you want, Captain." "It wouldn‘t be enough," Janeway thought, then realized to her horror she‘d spoken out loud when no one at the table would meet her eyes. "It just seems so unfair," she said, to no one in particular. "For Chakotay to find him again, but for such a short time." "They had one night, Captain," Baytart said softly, regretting again the loss of a man he‘d never known well, if for no other reason than what that loss did to another man whom he respected immensely.
Janeway mustered a weak smile. "I guess they did." She looked around at the sea of somber faces and made an executive decision. "Send a signal to Tom‘s ship, telling them we‘ll perform the transport at noon. I want to give them a few more hours before we send him back." She paused. "They‘ll have one night and one morning."
Across the ship and down a few decks, Tom was in the slow process of waking up after what had been an unbelievable night. In fact, if not for a certain naked First Officer sleeping in the bed next to him, and the unmistakable smell of sex permeating the room, Tom would have dismissed it as a dream.
But no. Chakotay‘s arm was still wrapped possessively around Tom‘s shoulder, and one leg was intertwined with his. Aching happiness settled in his heart. It had been a mistake, he knew that now; going back to Voyager, seeing Chakotay with the Captain—it was going to hurt so much more than if they‘d never even kissed. But still, he couldn‘t bring himself to regret it. One night, that‘s all it was, but he‘d remember it for the rest of his life. If he never found another lover, another real lover, he‘d still have this night to remember. "You were right," he whispered softly, running his fingers around the tattoo he‘d kissed so many times the night before, "it‘s better than not knowing."
"But it‘s not going to be easy," Chakotay whispered, catching Tom‘s fingers and interlacing their hands.
"You‘re awake," Tom noted, grinning tenderly at the brown sleepy eyes blinking up at him.
"I‘ve been awake for a while. I didn‘t want to disturb you. You have a big day today." Tom let that pass by without comment. "It‘s late. Aren‘t you supposed to be at the morning briefing?"
"They‘ll survive without me for one morning. If they needed me, they would have called by now."
Tom absorbed the implications of that statement. "They know where you are."
Silence. "It doesn‘t bother you?"
"No. They all know how I felt, feel, about you. Him. I didn‘t handle it very well after he died, and when I broke it off with Kathryn . . . it was kind of obvious why." Tom nodded, and leaned in for a gentle kiss. "I‘m going to miss you so much," he said sadly. "And you‘re going to be right there with me. I don‘t know how I‘m going to do it any more." "He used to care for you. Maybe someday you and he . . . " Chakotay suggested hesitantly, but Tom shook his head before he could finish.
"It‘ll never happen. He‘s in love with her now. And I would never do anything to come between them.
I couldn‘t live with myself."
Chakotay opened his arms and enfolded his lover. They embraced in silence until Chakotay finally noticed the message light blinking on the desk communication console. "They left you a message," he said softly, and Tom called out for the computer to play it. They listened quietly as Janeway told them that transport was set for noon, and that Chakotay could consider himself off-duty until then. "I think we‘ve just been given the morning to screw around in," Tom said with a weak grin, unbelievably grateful for the small gift of time. What was another few hours out of a lifetime? Nothing. Everything.
Tom looked up to find Chakotay standing at the side of the bed, hand outstretched. He reached for his lover‘s hand with a curious eyebrow.
"Come on," Chakotay said. "Let‘s take a shower."
The morning passed blissfully and all-too-quickly, and before he knew it Tom found himself standing in the transporter room. Harry and B‘Elanna were there, and Tom went to both of them after he said good-bye to Janeway, giving them a wordless hug. "You go well together," he said softly. "Maybe I should try to fix up Harry and B‘Elanna in my universe, too." Harry laughed through the lump in his throat. "I hate being set up, Tom. You should know that by now."
"I do," Tom agreed. "But somehow I don‘t think you‘re going to have any luck with Seven." "Seven?" Harry repeated, dumbstruck. He stared doubtfully at Tom, then glanced sideways at his wife, who was giving him a calculated glare.
"Chakotay will tell you all about it," Tom said, giving Harry an extra hug. "I don‘t have time." Involuntarily, his eyes went to Chakotay, standing there in a corner, looking lost and forlorn, with Janeway standing a few feet away. They‘d said their good-byes in private, not wanting to expose themselves so much in public, but Tom couldn‘t stop himself from stepping over to the other man and embracing him. "God, I‘m going to miss you," he murmured into the other man‘s hair. "Me too," Chakotay said, his reply muffled by Tom‘s shoulder. "Will you be okay?"
"No," Tom said flatly, "but I‘ll survive. I always do." Immediately, he winced at his tactlessness.
"I‘m sorry, I didn‘t mean . . ."
"Tom," Chakotay said, silencing him with a finger on his lips. "You have to go, before I get down on my knees and beg you to stay."
Tom nodded. "Right." And then, because there were no more words to say, he stepped onto the transporter platform and instructed them to energize.
A blink of an eye and the transporter room reformed, same size, same color, same people. Harry and B‘Elanna and Chakotay and Janeway. But B‘Elanna wasn‘t pregnant and Janeway and Chakotay were standing inches away from each other, not feet.
"Tom!" Harry said, relief evident in his voice.
"Harry," Tom said, trying to muster up an appropriate emotion for his voice. Janeway took a step forward. "Are you all right? We realized you‘d been sent to an alternate universe, but there wasn‘t anything we could do to get you back." "I‘m fine," Tom said. "They took care of me there."
"What was it like?" Chakotay said curiously. "Was it very different?" "No," Tom said, trying not to stare into the other man‘s eyes and search for a spark of the man he‘d spent the night making love to. "You could hardly tell the difference." "Did you meet your counterpart?" Chakotay continued, obviously interested. At any other time, Tom would have thrilled in the opportunity to spend a while talking to the object of his most secret desires, but this morning, he didn‘t have the emotional strength to do it. "No," he answered shortly. "He wasn‘t there."
"We‘re just glad to have you back, Tom," Janeway said, giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder.
"I‘m sure their Doctor checked you out but I‘d like you to stop by Sickbay anyway."
"Of course, Captain."
Janeway smiled, then cocked her head at Chakotay. "I‘m heading to the Bridge, Commander. Care to join me?"
"I‘d love to," Chakotay said with a charming grin, his eyes warming as he gazed at her. "Tom," he added, turning back briefly, "it‘s good to have you back."
"Thank you, Commander," Tom said softly. He watched quietly as Janeway and Chakotay stepped out of the room together and the door shut behind them.
As soon as they were alone, B‘Elanna ambushed him. "So tell us all about it! Who did you meet?" "There‘s not much to tell, B‘Elanna," Tom said, plastering on a smile that he knew wouldn‘t reach up to his eyes, praying that his friends wouldn‘t notice.
"You didn‘t meet the crew?" B‘Elanna asked, disappointed.
"Not really. There wasn‘t a lot of time."
"Makes sense," Harry said, clapping an arm on Tom‘s shoulder and leading him out of the transporter room. "After all, how much can really happen in one night?" "And one morning," Tom said softly. "It was one night and one morning."