Plush Toy

Author‘s note: After reading "Rose Garden", Tealin wrote to me that she liked the trend in this series towards longer and longer stories. Specifically, "Sweet Dreams" was under 15K. "Rose Garden" was over 80K. Now this one is over 120K! So if you want to know why it took me so long to post this story, blame Tealin for making me write such a long sequel. It‘s all her fault! Really!

Anyway, finally, here it is, the fifth (!!!) installment in the "Sweet Dreams" series. (In case you‘re wondering, the sequence is:

"Sweet Dreams", "Jitterbug", "Aftershocks", and "Rose Garden"). If you‘re missing any, and you can‘t find them on R‘rain‘s slash page, or in the archives, or through DejaNews, send me an e-mail and I‘ll forward them to you.)

FYI, this story starts the morning after "Rose Garden" ended.


by Margaret Berger (
Copyright 1997

(Voyager, C/P, NC-17, 1/5)
DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, Voyager, and all of the characters contained herein (except for the occasional extra) are owned by PARAMOUNT! I am borrowing them for a little while to play with them, but I promise to play nicely, and to put them back when I‘m done.

Feel free to archive or distribute, so long as you keep my name and this disclaimer attached. Comments, as always, are warmly welcomed at the edress above.

WARNING...WARNING...WARNING! This story contains explicit consensual sex between two men. They‘re both over the age of 18, but if you‘re not, or if that offends you, you shouldn‘t be reading this! Continue reading at your own risk. Consider yourself warned.


Chakotay was dreaming. He was floating in a clear pool of water, staring up at the sky, trying to make patterns out of the fluffy white clouds. A bird was chirping somewhere in the distance. He concentrated on the clouds, but was distracted as the chirping became louder, then louder still. He tried to ignore it; there was some very important message written in the clouds, if only he could read it ... the bird call was still growing louder. It was very hard to think with all that noise—

"Uggh," Chakotay groaned, coming awake slowly. "Computer, turn off the alarm." He buried his head into the pillow. He hated getting woken up by an alarm; it always left him feeling grumpy. Usually he was up well in advance of the time he‘d set it for. It was really just a back-up, for those mornings when he was so exhausted he‘d sleep right through his duty shift. Exhausted. Yes, he was certainly exhausted. The last few days had been emotionally draining, avoiding Tom at all costs, wanting desperately to talk to him and to punch him at the same time. Thank the gods that was over with, they‘d made up, and the sex that followed was what led to his current exhausted state. Chakotay smiled happily to himself, remembering the previous evening. Spirits, it had been fun. A stray tendril of thought nagged at him. Something about Tom. Of course. What else did he think about these days? What was it ... Tom had said something, promised something ... got it. Tom said he would stay the night. Chakotay turned and looked at the pillow next to him to confirm what he already knew, the bed was empty. Damn it, was this the way it was going to be, still? He punched the pillow a few times in frustration, when a soft noise drew his attention. What the hell? Soft, very soft, muffled almost. Melodic. Music? Chakotay got out of bed and traced the sound to the bathroom. The door was shut. He opened it hesitantly, to find Tom standing in front of the mirror, shaving, humming to himself.

Tom turned halfway around when the cool air hit his legs. "Morning," he said, with a bright, sunny smile that took Chakotay‘s breath away. "I was starting to worry about you. You‘re usually up way before me."

Chakotay couldn‘t answer. Gods, Tom in a towel. In his bathroom. Hair still damp, little bits of shaving cream on his neck, cheeks flushed from the heat of the shower. Oh, just too delicious.

"Hey, Big Man, are you o.k.?" Tom asked, concerned, staring at him worriedly.

"Sorry," Chakotay stammered out. "I‘m just surprised to see you here." Not the real reason, but he was hardly going to say what he was really thinking: Tom, take me now, I don‘t care if we‘ll be late for duty, I want you to fuck me. No, he wasn‘t going to say that. Darn.

Tom was a little confused. "Why are you surprised to see me? You asked me to stay. I said I would." He swallowed heavily. "I thought you trusted me now."

" I do." Chakotay moved in closer, smelling soap and shampoo. "Implicitly." He reached out to grab Tom‘s shoulders, pulling him in for a kiss. He let go, a few seconds later, not wanting to let it get too out of hand, and said softly, "I‘m glad you‘re here." "I can tell," Tom said, mischievously. He moved back towards Chakotay, eyeing him up and down, lingering longest at Chakotay‘s groin. "If you want, we can skip breakfast..." He reached a hand downwards, but Chakotay quickly knocked it away, shaking his head.

"No, I think we should go to breakfast this morning. It‘ll be good for the crew to start seeing us together when we‘re off duty." Tom backed away slightly, and turned his head away, taking a deep breath, but saying nothing. Absently, he cleaned his neck off with a damp washcloth.

"Tom," Chakotay said softly, "are you all right with this? We can stay in for breakfast if you‘d prefer."

"No," Tom said reluctantly. "It‘ll just be putting off the inevitable. We have to go out sometime." He sighed. "I‘m not looking forward to it, that‘s all."

"If you‘re worried about what everyone‘s reaction is going to be when they see us—" "I‘m not. I already know what it will be. They‘re going to be very unhappy." He tossed the towel into a corner of the bathroom. "Fuck, I don‘t know. There‘s going to be a lot of shit to deal with. I just don‘t know if I have the energy for it." "I think you‘re overreacting. It won‘t be that bad."

"Is that a promise, Big Man?"

"I can‘t make promises about things I have no control over. But worrying about the situation isn‘t going to help." Tom grinned unexpectedly. "You‘re so damn calm all the time.

So totally in control. I love that. Nothing gets to you." "Except you." Chakotay looked into Tom‘s eyes, deeply, holding them until he saw a sudden, intense flash of emotion appear there. Tom turned away, shaking his head. "Dammit, stop that."

"Stop what?" Chakotay said innocently.

"Stop looking at me like that. You know what it does to me.

We‘re supposed to be getting ready for breakfast, remember?" "I remember," Chakotay said, contentedly. "Go get dressed while I shower."

20 minutes later, Tom and Chakotay walked into the mess hall. Together, but separately. Not touching, not talking, not even looking at each other. Nonetheless, all conversation in the room ceased as heads swiveled to look at them. Chakotay could feel Tom tense up beside him, heard the other man‘s swift, sharp intake of breath, heard the muttered curse, "Shit." "Relax," he whispered under his breath. "They‘re just looking. Don‘t let it bother you." He nudged Tom gently toward the food counter, unable to avoid overhearing snatches of whispered conversation.

"I can‘t believe they have the guts to show up here together." "...said it was just sex? Are you sure? Damn, I wish I‘d been there."

"...heard the bastard was screwing around with Megan behind his back."

"They went back to Chakotay‘s quarters? That‘s a show I‘d pay to watch."

By the time they got their food and sat down, Tom‘s face was set in hard, brittle lines. "Shit, Chakotay," he said, putting his tray down with trembling hands, "this is harder than I thought it would be. Did you hear them? They‘re all talking about us." "I heard them," Chakotay replied, shrugging his shoulders. "It‘s harmless gossip. It‘ll blow over in a couple of days." "I hope so," Tom said fervently. "This is worse than that time I punched you."

Chakotay grinned, and ate some toast. They sat for a while, eating, not really talking, pretending every eye in the room wasn‘t focused on them. A sudden drop in the decibel level of the room caught Chakotay‘s attention, and he looked up from his meal. "We‘ve got company," he said softly to Tom. Tom turned around, just in time to have a cup of ice water dumped down the front of his uniform. "Shit!" he exclaimed, jumping out of his chair.

"That‘s the cold shower you should have taken, Paris," Megan Delaney said, coolly.


A stinging slap on the cheek cut him off. "And that‘s for using me like that. You think I would have slept with you if I knew you were involved with someone? The rest of the ship may think I‘m a slut, Tom, but you, of all people, should know better."

"Megan, you don‘t understand. I didn‘t-"

Another slap. "Fuck you. I understand perfectly. You‘re a jerk." One more slap, for good measure, and Megan glanced calmly at Chakotay. "He‘s all yours, Commander." She walked away without a backwards glance, and Tom sat back down, flushing red as muffled snickers broke out across the room. "I suppose I deserved that," he said, disconsolately plucking at his soggy uniform.

"Mmmm," Chakotay murmured, noncommittal. "You didn‘t set out to hurt her deliberately. I‘m sure you‘ll be able to explain it to her when she calms down."

"I know," Tom said, heaving a sigh. "She‘ll be fine. We‘ll be fine. Megan is constitutionally incapable of remaining angry at anyone for longer than 12 hours." He smiled. "She‘s special that way."

"What did she mean by that comment, you should know better?" Tom shrugged. "Megan and I are friends, Chakotay. And we‘re kind of in the same boat. Bad reputations that we can‘t live down. It‘s a small ship. Once you get labeled ... you‘re stuck with it." He poked at the food on his plate. "Lots of guys on this ship say they‘ve slept with her. Most of them are lying." "You just happen to be one of the lucky ones?" Chakotay tried to keep it light, but he couldn‘t help the note of jealousy that surfaced in his voice. Damn. Calm down, Big Man.

"Believe it or not, Chakotay, I didn‘t exactly have the women beating down my door. And Megan didn‘t want the kind of attention she was getting. So we slept together sometimes. For fun." He tried to catch Chakotay‘s gaze, but couldn‘t. "Look," he said, firmly, "I‘m not going to sleep with her anymore. I‘ll do that for you. But don‘t ask me to give her up as a friend. I don‘t have all that many to choose from."

That was a touch of ... what? Some pain, some hurt, in Tom‘s voice, that made Chakotay catch his breath. Without thinking, he reached across the table to take Tom‘s hand in his own. "I‘d never ask you for anything like that." He squeezed Tom‘s hand reassuringly, and was rewarded with a tentative smile. A soft feminine voice greeted them. "I can see this situation has been satisfactorily resolved." Janeway smiled down at the two of them, patting their linked hands. "Now maybe the bridge can get back to normal."

Chakotay released Tom‘s hand, and blushed slightly. "I‘m sorry, Captain. I know I‘ve been ... inattentive ... the past few days." Janeway snorted, and took the seat next to Tom. "Inattentive? Chakotay, I was beginning to think you‘d taken a permanent trip to the spirit world." Her eyes fell on Tom‘s uniform. "Lieutenant? Is it my imagination, or is your uniform soaking wet?"

"Unfortunately, it‘s not your imagination, Captain," Tom said. "Megan came over to extend her best wishes with a cup of ice water." He stood up, squishily. "In fact, if you‘ll excuse me, I think I‘d better put on a dry uniform before I report for duty. I‘ll see you on the bridge." He touched Chakotay on the shoulder and walked out of the mess hall.

Janeway turned her gaze back to Chakotay. "From what I hear, I missed quite a scene in Sandrine‘s last night." Chakotay couldn‘t stop the heat from rising to his face. "It wasn‘t that bad."

"That‘s not what I was told. The rumors I heard said it got so hot in there the automatic fire suppression systems almost came on." Janeway shook her head. "I can‘t believe I missed it. Did Tom really throw you down on the pool table and kiss you?" "No!" Chakotay laughed. "But we did kiss. You know what it‘s like after you have a fight with your lover, Kathryn." "Yes. Hormones going totally out of control. I hope the make-up sex was worth the week of hell beforehand." Chakotay smiled contentedly. "It was."

Janeway patted his hand again. "Seriously, Chakotay. Have the two of you worked things out?"

Chakotay shrugged. "Somewhat. We talked. He doesn‘t want things to change between us—not yet, at any rate. He did agree not to sleep with Megan any more, and he spent the entire night in my quarters, so I guess we‘re making some progress." He tapped his fingers on the table. "He‘s so damn skittish, Kathryn. It‘s as if he thinks something bad will happen if this relationship turns into more than just sex."

"Then you‘ll have to convince him otherwise, won‘t you, Commander?" Janeway said sensibly. She grinned an evil grin. "Or else you‘ll have to settle for a lifetime filled with nothing but some incredible sex."

"As physically satisfying as that would be," Chakotay said with a tiny grin of his own, "I think I need a little more than that." "Just a little more?"

"Just a little." Chakotay smiled into his coffee, and looked up to find Katera Beral hovering over the Captain‘s shoulder. "Good morning, Beral," he said pleasantly.

The slender Bajoran nodded back. "Good morning, Commander. Captain." She arranged her uniform nervously. "When you‘ve got a minute, Commander, could I speak to you?" "Of course," Chakotay said. "Why don‘t we set up an appointment for later this afternoon?"

"Actually, Commander," Janeway said, standing up, "I was just leaving. I told B‘Elanna I‘d meet her in Engineering. She wants to show me some new warp core efficiency protocols she‘s instituting." She picked up her coffee cup. "I may be a while. Why don‘t you take the bridge this morning until I get there?"

"Of course, Captain. I‘ll see you later."

Janeway smiled warmly and left, and Chakotay indicated that Katera should take her place across the table from him. "So, Beral, what can I do for you? How are things working out in Security?"

"Oh, they‘re fine, Commander. Lieutenant Tuvok is a good commanding officer." She fidgeted slightly. "That‘s not why I came over here. I wanted to talk to you about ... ummm, you. You and Lieutenant Paris."

"What about me and Lieutenant Paris?"

"I was in Sandrine‘s last night. A bunch of us were. We saw what happened. Are you really involved with him?" "That‘s one way of putting it," Chakotay said with a smile, trying to get Katera to relax, but the Bajoran seemed to get even more agitated.

"Commander, I don‘t mean to question your judgment, but, I‘m just worried ... I served with you for a long time in the Maquis, and I don‘t see how you can... " She trailed off. "You don‘t see how I can what, Beral?" Chakotay‘s voice grew a fraction colder.

Katera fidgeted for another couple of seconds before bursting out with, "He can‘t be trusted, Chakotay! The man‘s a traitor, he doesn‘t care about anything but himself. You should know that. We all know that."

Chakotay tried to interrupt, but Katera continued, "He sleeps around all the time, Commander. Sex is a tool for him. He‘s just using you to get ahead on this ship ... he‘s got the Captain completely fooled, wrapped around his little finger, and now he‘s working on you too."

Chakotay shook his head. His face was set in hard lines. "You‘re wrong."

"I‘m not! I‘m not the only one who feels this way, Commander; everyone does. I don‘t know what he‘s told you, how‘s he gotten you so confused you‘ve forgotten what he‘s like, but you can‘t trust him. He sold you out once; he‘ll do it again in an instant if it suits his purpose."

"How can you say these things? You don‘t even know him." Chakotay was fighting to stay calm. He knew it was going to be hard to win over the Maquis, and he didn‘t see how getting angry was going to help matters any. "Maybe you should spend a little time with him, get to know him. He‘s not what you think." "No. He‘s exactly what I think. You‘re the one who‘s confused, Chakotay. He‘s using you. You‘re blind if you don‘t see it." She stood up. "I have to go report for duty now. Just watch your back when Paris is around, Commander, or he‘ll put a knife in it." Chakotay watched her go, a little bit stunned. Shit. He hoped all the Maquis didn‘t feel the same way Katera did, or else he‘d seriously underestimated the opposition he and Tom would be facing. If they‘d talk to him that way—spirits, he‘d known Katera for years, he couldn‘t believe how hostile she‘d sounded—gods only knew what they‘d say to Tom.

He reported for duty feeling more than a little uneasy. Tom showed up, barely on time, in a dry uniform, with color high in his cheeks. He gave Chakotay an unreadable look as he took his place at the conn.

Most of the day was spent running tests on the warp engines, which Tom had been complaining about ever since the attack they‘d suffered the week before. B‘Elanna stayed on the bridge all day, arguing with Tom. Two hours after shift change, they were still going at it.

"They‘re sluggish, B‘Elanna," Tom insisted. "You‘re imagining things, Lieutenant," B‘Elanna replied. "The diagnostics say the engines are responding within normal parameters."

"I don‘t care what the diagnostics say. I‘m telling you, the engines are sluggish." His fingers flashed over his console, and the ship jumped briefly into warp. He turned around with an ‚I-told-you- so‘ look on his face and said, "Didn‘t you feel that?" "Feel what?" B‘Elanna was starting to get testy. It had been a long day.

"That shudder when we jumped into warp. It‘s happening because there‘s a delay between the time the impulse engines turn off and the warp engines turn on."

"I didn‘t feel any shudder."

"Oh, for pete‘s sake. It was an obvious shudder." "Lieutenant," Janeway interrupted. "I didn‘t feel any shudder either."

Tom turned around to face her, and said exasperatedly, "I‘m not crazy. There was a shudder. The engines are sluggish." He looked to Chakotay for support, but Chakotay could only shrug and smile. He hadn‘t felt a shudder either. Tom turned back to the conn with a sigh. "I‘m going to try it again. Run a diagnostic on the antimatter infusers and the poloron dispersers while I shift into warp, o.k.? Just humor me." "I‘ve been humoring you all day, Paris," B‘Elanna said darkly. "I‘m tired and I‘m hungry and this is the last diagnostic I‘m running today."

"Fine," Tom muttered. His fingers flashed over the console again, and the ship again jumped into warp for a split second. When he brought them back down to impulse, Tom turned around and said, "Definitely a shudder."

B‘Elanna didn‘t answer. She was tapping at her control panel.

"Well?" Tom said impatiently.

B‘Elanna glanced up, looking a little embarrassed. "The antimatter infusers seem to be a bit ... clogged." "Clogged," Tom repeated, deadpan.

"Yes, clogged." A slight blush heightened B‘Elanna‘s color. "It‘s causing a slight delay before the warp engines engage." "Oh really?" Tom said dryly. "I‘m shocked." He turned back to the conn, shaking his head.

B‘Elanna glared at his back for a minute, before she tapped a few keys on the control pad in front of her. "I‘ve flushed the infusers. Try the warp engines now, Lieutenant."

Without a word, Tom brought the ship back to warp. After only an instant, his posture relaxed. "*Much* better." He patted the conn gently, as if to reassure the ship of her health, and maneuvered her through a few graceful and celebratory swirls. Chakotay turned to Janeway and smiled. She hit him on the arm and said, "Oh, stop beaming."

"Can‘t help it," he said, contentedly. "I love watching him work." At Janeway‘s indulgent nod, he continued, "Have you ever felt a spring rain on your face, and been convinced that everything was right with the universe? That‘s what it feels like, watching Tom at the conn."

"I didn‘t know you had such a poetic side, Commander," Janeway said with some amusement.

"Oh, it‘s always been there," Chakotay answered. "It‘s just been waiting for an opportunity to come out." He looked back to Tom again, and said, "Seriously, though, it‘s a pleasure to watch him fly the ship. He‘s the most natural pilot I‘ve ever seen. It‘s like he was born to fly."

Janeway chuckled. "His father told me much the same thing, many, many years ago, when Tom was just a boy. They knew he‘d be a pilot from the time he was a toddler." Chakotay nodded. "I‘m not surprised." He was quiet for a minute, reflecting. "I wonder though..."

"You wonder what?"

"I wonder what Tom would have done if you hadn‘t gotten him out of prison. I can‘t imagine a worse nightmare for him. To be grounded like that, no way to fly again ..." Chakotay‘s face was so sad and thoughtful, Janeway was compelled to pat his hand and comfort him. "It‘s o.k., Commander. He‘s here, and he‘s flying. Everything‘s all right." Chakotay looked up with a sharp smile. "Sorry. I didn‘t mean to get so melodramatic. Tom just brings out all of my protective instincts."

"Like a wounded puppy? I know what you mean." At the conn, Tom gave the controls a few final adjustments, then stood up and allowed Batehart to take his place. "Well," he said cheerily, approaching Chakotay and Janeway, "the infusers are unclogged and the warp engines are humming. My work here is done. Anyone up for dinner?"

Janeway demurred politely, saying that she had some status reports to review. Chakotay gave her a quick suspicious glance before standing up. There weren‘t any outstanding status reports. "I‘d love to get some dinner, Tom. Let‘s go." They entered the turbolift together, and Tom relaxed against the wall. "How would you feel about grabbing some food from Neelix and eating it in my quarters? I‘d offer to buy you dinner, but I‘m all out of rations."

"As usual," Chakotay said, with a wry expression. "I‘ve probably got enough rations for a light meal, Tom. Any particular reason you don‘t want to go to the mess hall?"

"Isn‘t it possible I want to spend some time alone with you?"

"No. You‘ve got the rest of the evening to spend alone with me.

You just don‘t want to go to the mess hall tonight. Why?" Tom sighed, and didn‘t even bother trying to come up with a creative excuse. "I‘m too tired. You wouldn‘t believe all the shit I got this morning on my way to the bridge. And then again at lunch."

"I‘m sorry."

"Don‘t be. You were right, this morning. It‘s harmless. It‘ll probably blow over in a couple of days. I just don‘t want to deal with it tonight." His voice was tired.

Gods, wounded puppy indeed! Chakotay resisted the urge to gather Tom to him and hug him. They were in the turbolift, and it wasn‘t exactly private. He settled for saying, "I won‘t make you deal with it, then. We‘ll replicate something, and you won‘t have to go near the mess hall."

"I don‘t want you to waste your rations on me just because I‘m too out of sorts to deal with the Maquis, Big Man." "I won‘t consider it a waste, Tom. Anyway, I‘ll expect to get paid back in fair trade."

Tom‘s eyebrows arched up. "Oh really? What did you have in mind?"

Chakotay whispered it into his ear, and Tom was still blushing when the turbolift doors opened to let them out. Many hours later, after a meal of cheese tortillas and salad, and after a rather strenuous evening‘s exercise, they lay in bed together, hot, sweaty, and too exhausted to drag themselves into the shower. Chakotay was reluctant to break the pleasant silence that had descended on the room, but, something needed to be said, so he ventured, softly, "Tom?"


"We can‘t hide out here every night, you know."

"I know," Tom answered, resignation in his voice..

"Tell me, honestly. Was it really bad today?" Tom was silent. He breathed in and out a few times before answering quietly, "Nothing I can‘t handle. They mostly left me alone. Just a few nasty comments, that‘s all. Anyway, I‘m sure it‘ll stop soon."

"I‘m sure it will," Chakotay agreed. "Will you let me know if it doesn‘t?"

"Sure," Tom said, quietly, and Chakotay knew Tom had no intention of telling him one way or the other. Still, the illusion was comforting, in its own way, although Chakotay would have been hard-pressed to explain why. Maybe it was because he knew this was Tom‘s way of protecting him; by not telling him how bad things were with the Maquis, Tom was allowing Chakotay to avoid choosing sides.

Chakotay was fairly certain that, if things got really bad, Tom would tell him. Well, maybe fairly certain was overstating the case. Reasonably confident? Not entirely unconvinced? Yes, that was probably the closest he could come. He was not entirely unconvinced that if things got really bad, Tom would tell him. Chakotay chuckled to himself. Tom made a sleepy querying noise, which Chakotay shushed away. He patted Tom‘s back slowly and gently until the younger man‘s breathing smoothed out into the even rhythms of sleep. Only then, feeling ridiculously pleased at having Tom in his arms, and also feeling completely physically sated, did Chakotay allow himself to fall asleep as well.


"Good morning, Commander. Lieutenant." Janeway‘s voice was warm and friendly.

Chakotay looked up from his meal in time to hear Tom say, "Good morning, Captain. You sound cheery today." Tom waved to an empty seat at the table. "Join us."

"Thank you, Tom," Janeway said, sitting down and placing her coffee carefully on the table. "I am cheery." She grinned. "I can‘t help it; every time I walk in here and see the two of you sitting together, I get happy. All those weeks I spent listening to Chakotay pour his anguished heart out to me ... it‘s a relief to know that I won‘t have to deal with it any more." Tom chuckled at Chakotay‘s dismayed expression. "She‘s kidding, Big Man."

"I knew that," Chakotay muttered, blushing slightly. He stabbed viciously at some yellow glop on his plate, reputed to be scrambled eggs. The thunk of another coffee cup on the table caused him to look up.

"Good morning," B‘Elanna said, addressing the entire table.

"Mind if I sit down?"

Tom pulled out a chair for her. "Of course not. Have a seat."

"What a gentleman," B‘Elanna said with a smirk, taking the chair.

She looked across the room and waved. "Harry, come join us!" Harry walked across the room, holding a tray which he was looking at suspiciously. Sitting down, he said, "Neelix claims these are eggs." Tom opened his mouth to speak, but Harry cut him off before he could say a word. "Be quiet, Tom. I‘m starving, and I‘m going to eat this ... stuff, and you are not going to make any comments about it, you got that?"

"Yes, sir!" Tom said smartly, throwing a mock salute in Harry‘s direction.

"I think this relationship is good for you, Paris," B‘Elanna said, sipping her coffee, a delicate grin playing across her features. "You never used to take orders so smoothly. Chakotay must be training you well."

"Oh, you don‘t know the half of it, B‘Elanna," Tom said, an impish look crossing his face. "He‘s such a strict teacher. I have to practice and practice and practice. F‘rinstance, just last night he made me-" "Tom!" Chakotay said, bringing his hands down on the table sharply. "Shut up."

"Yes, sir, Commander, sir," Tom said submissively. "Anything you say, sir."

Janeway smothered a laugh, and sipped her coffee.

"Tom?" A high-pitched, querying voice a few feet away. "Good morning, Megan," Tom said cautiously, nodding his head in greeting. "Jenny. Sue."

"We need to talk to you, Paris," Sue said, placing her hands on her hips.

"Only if Megan promises not to slap me again," Tom said, only half joking.

"I won‘t," Megan said, "if you‘ll do something for me."

"Anything for you, love, you know that," Tom responded sweetly.

"What is it?"

"Well," Megan ventured, casting her eyes to Jenny and Sue for support, "none of us were in Sandrine‘s last week, so we didn‘t see ‚the kiss‘." She stared at Tom for a second before continuing. "I need to know if it‘s real. You and Commander Chakotay, I mean. I won‘t be so mad at you if I know the two of you are really ... real."

"What do you want me to do, throw him down on the table and take him in the mess hall?" Tom said, amusement lighting his face. "I‘ll admit, that‘s an idea that hadn‘t occurred to me before."

Megan hit him. "Don‘t be ridiculous." Her eyes flew to Chakotay, and she blushed, but steeled her resolve and continued. "We want to see you kiss him."

Chakotay choked on his coffee, and B‘Elanna slapped him on the back good-naturedly. Tom had cocked his head to one side, and was looking at the feminine trio thoughtfully. "Let me see if I understand this. What you‘re saying is, if I kiss him, and I can convince you that the two of us are really together, you won‘t be mad at me anymore?"

"That‘s right," Megan said.

"Sounds like a deal to me," Tom replied, and stood up, offering his hand to Chakotay. "Up on your feet, Big Man." "Tom-" Chakotay spluttered, "we‘re in the middle of the mess hall!"

"So?" Tom asked. "Are you ashamed to kiss me in public?" "No," Chakotay said. "Of course not. You know that. But—we‘re in the middle of the mess hall!"

"And last week we were in the middle of Sandrine‘s. What‘s the difference? C‘mon, Chakotay," Tom said pleadingly, "I can‘t stand having these three mad at me." He raised his eyebrows imploringly, and did his best impression of a puppy dog. Chakotay couldn‘t refuse that look; he never could. He sighed, and looked around the table. Harry, B‘Elanna, and Kathryn were eyeing him with some amusement.

"Captain," he implored, pleading for help. "Don‘t look at me, Commander," Janeway said, her eyes twinkling. "I wasn‘t there for ‚the kiss‘ either." She raised her eyebrows at him.

Chakotay turned back to Tom, to find him waiting there with an expectant look on his face. The hell of it was, he didn‘t really feel like putting up too much of a fight. He‘d kiss Tom any time, any place, for any reason, really. "If I say no, then it‘s all my fault that they‘re still mad at you, right?"

"Right," Tom said firmly.

"Fine," Chakotay said, with false resignation. "You‘ve forced me into it." He stood up, heaving an exaggerated sigh. "Let‘s just get it over with."

"Don‘t do me any favors," Tom said with a grin, before he leaned in and kissed Chakotay. Thoroughly. For a long, long time. Chakotay had been prepared for it, or so he‘d thought, but feeling Tom‘s lips against his, Tom‘s tongue mating with his, Tom‘s hands on his hips, pulling them closer together—he lost all sense of time and place. All that existed was the two of them, molded together, breathing each other‘s breath, bodies touching, hearts pounding, blood racing. He stumbled back dazedly when Tom finally pulled away.

He was only vaguely aware of the total and complete silence in the room. He was only vaguely aware of anything, except Tom staring at him, cheeks flushed, sapphire eyes sparkling. Megan cleared her throat a few seconds later. "I don‘t know about the rest of you, but I‘m convinced."

A flash of violet eyes peered into Chakotay‘s face. "Oh my god," Sue said, with delight, "look at him! He‘s got the look." "What look?" Chakotay forced out, willing himself to speak. Sue laughed. "The ‚I‘ve-just-been-kissed-by-Tom-Paris—where‘s- the-nearest-bed?‘ look." She giggled. "He‘s really disgustingly good at that, isn‘t he?"

"Yes," Chakotay said, finally coming back down to the ground, and shaking his head to clear it, "he is." "From the looks of it, I‘d have to agree," B‘Elanna added, fanning her face with a napkin. "I think I need a cold shower." Megan and Jenny and Sue descended on Tom, kissing him chastely on the cheek. "You‘re forgiven," Megan said softly. "But next time you want to cheat on your lover, find someone else for the job, o.k.?"

"O.k," Tom said amiably, grinning at Chakotay‘s glowering expression. "Relax, Big Man," he said, laughing. "I promised you I‘d be good. There won‘t be a next time." "There had better not be," Chakotay murmured, loud enough for only Tom to hear, "or I throw you in the warp core, remember?" "He‘s so jealous," Tom confided peevishly to B‘Elanna, peering at Chakotay out of the corner of his eye.

"So don‘t cheat on him," B‘Elanna retorted. "I didn‘t." "Hey, that‘s right," Tom said, eyes glinting, "You two were together for a while. Maybe we should get together and trade secrets."

"Now wait a minute-" Chakotay said, spluttering, to Tom‘s great amusement.

"Don‘t worry, Chakotay," B‘Elanna said, leaning back in her chair. "This whole thing is weird enough already. I‘m not going to make it worse by trading sex stories with Tom." "Spoilsport," Tom said, pouting. "You‘re no fun, B‘Elanna. Who else can I talk to about him? Like the way he‘s really ticklish on his-" "Tom!" Chakotay glared at him. "Shut. Up." Tom shook his head regretfully. "You have no sense of humor, Big Man. It‘s really your only character flaw. I can see I‘ve got my work cut out for me." He looked down at his empty coffee cup, and offered, "Anybody else want some more coffee?" "I‘d love some, Tom. Thanks," Janeway said, handing him her mug. Tom went up to the counter, and Chakotay followed his progress. He turned his attention back to the table to find Harry, B‘Elanna, and Kathryn all staring at him with matching grins on their faces.

"Oh my," B‘Elanna said, softly, "you are in for trouble. Are you sure you can handle him? He‘s going to be merciless, now." "I know," Chakotay groaned. "It was bad enough before everybody knew about it. At least then all I had to suffer through was some innuendo. This is going to be impossible." "Maybe you can convince him to keep quiet every once in a while," Harry offered.

"And how would you suggest I do that?" Chakotay asked.

"I don‘t know. Maybe you could gag him."

Oh spirits. Visions of Tom, bound and gagged on his bed, sent Chakotay‘s mind reeling through some delicious memories. He fought unsuccessfully to keep the heat in his body from rising to his face.

B‘Elanna stared at him closely. "Oh my god," she said, delight crossing her face, "you‘ve already done that, haven‘t you? Don‘t tell me he let you tie him down!"

"Can we not talk about this?" Chakotay pleaded, face flaming red. "Not talk about what?" Tom said, coming back to the table, and handing Janeway her mug.

"Nothing," Chakotay said firmly, as Tom reclaimed his seat. "Oh yeah? Then why are they all staring at me like that?" Tom asked, eyeing Harry, B‘Elanna, and Janeway suspiciously. He looked down at his uniform. "Did I spill something?" Not finding anything on his uniform to merit such intense scrutiny, he looked back up, eyes narrowing as he looked to Chakotay. "What‘s going on? What did you tell them?"

"Nothing," Chakotay repeated.

Tom was unconvinced. "I don‘t believe you. What did you say?" "Really, Tom. It was nothing," B‘Elanna insisted sincerely. "But I have to admit I‘m curious." She leaned forward, ignoring the warning glances she was getting from Chakotay. "Do you prefer the restraints with the leather cuffs, or the padded cotton ones?" Tom, who‘d been in the midst of taking a sip of coffee, choked furiously for a few seconds. Even when he‘d gotten his breath back, he didn‘t speak for a long time. Finally, he let his gaze slide around to where Chakotay was sitting, beet red. Eyeing Chakotay speculatively, Tom asked calmly, "You have a second pair?" Chakotay didn‘t answer. He couldn‘t answer. He thought for sure he was going to melt away from pure embarrassment, and it sounded like a pretty good idea. Kathryn was staring at him, smirking. Harry was determinedly not staring at him. B‘Elanna was watching Tom unobtrusively massage his wrists. Finally, Tom broke the unnatural silence. He turned to B‘Elanna, blue eyes glinting with humor. "I‘m afraid I can‘t answer your question right now, B‘Elanna. I‘ll have to let you know tomorrow." He stood up, patting Chakotay on the shoulder. "Make sure you eat lots of carbohydrates today, Big Man." Straightening his face, Tom addressed the entire table. "Anybody else heading to the bridge?"

They all were. Chakotay pulled Tom off to the side for a quick whispered conversation. "You must really enjoy embarrassing me."

"Oh, I do, Big Man," Tom said sweetly. "It‘s so much fun." He patted Chakotay on the ass. "And I meant it about the carbohydrates, too."

A discreet clearing of a throat interrupted them. "Commander Chakotay?" David Vasicek approached them, not looking at Tom. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Of course," Chakotay said.

"It‘s kind of a private matter, Commander," Vasicek said hesitantly.

Tom nodded his head. "I‘ll see you later, Commander." He nodded politely to Vasicek, who ignored him, and left. Vasicek and Chakotay sat down across the table from each other. Chakotay waited for the other man to speak, but finally said, "What‘s on your mind, David?"

Vasicek twisted his fingers together nervously. "Some of the guys were talking last night. We‘re worried ..." "About what?"

"About you." Vasicek looked him fully in the face. "About you and Tom Paris."

Chakotay sighed heavily. He‘d had about 8 of these discussions in the past week. "Look, David, I‘ve heard this already. Unless you have something new to add, I‘m not really interested in having this conversation right now."

"But you haven‘t been listening to anyone!" Vasicek insisted. "Commander, Tom Paris is a traitor. He sold us out. Don‘t you remember? They let him out of prison so he could come hunt us down. He‘s always got an angle."

"So everyone seems to think. Do you think I‘m stupid? I remember what he was like three years ago. I also know what he‘s like now, because I‘ve taken the time to get to know him, which is more than any of you have bothered to do." "I don‘t need to get to know him. I already know what he‘s like." Chakotay put his hand down on the table, with some force behind it. "I‘m getting tired of saying this. You‘re wrong about Tom. You don‘t know him. I do. I trust him. That‘s all there is to it, understand?"

"No. I don‘t understand. I don‘t understand how you can be having an affair with the man who betrayed us." "That‘s too bad, David." Chakotay had lost all patience for this talk. "Quite frankly, I don‘t really care if you understand it or not. My affairs are my business, not yours." He stood up, angrily.

"I‘m due on the bridge, Crewman."

Without another word, Chakotay left. He stormed up to the bridge, muttering under his breath the whole way, glaring furiously at the unfortunate crew members who happened to cross his path. Damn damn damn damn. It had been an entire week, and the Maquis were still trying to ‚reason‘ with him. As if he wasn‘t old enough to know what he was doing. Idiots. He was still cursing under his breath when he made it to the bridge. Tom gazed at him curiously from his position at the conn, then smiled a little grin and touched his wrists delicately. Chakotay‘s foul mood evaporated at the sight, and he spent the rest of his shift mentally searching his quarters, wondering where in the hell he‘d left the restraints with the cotton padding.


Later that night, Tom and Chakotay lay in bed together, panting. Chakotay had just enough energy to remove the cuffs from Tom‘s wrists before collapsing onto the bed, utterly drained. Tom purred happily, "You have no idea how much I love that." "Oh, I think I do," Chakotay responded, with a smile on his face.

"You damn near burst my eardrum when you came." "Sorry," Tom said, completely unapologetic. "I just can‘t help it; when you tie me down like that, it‘s like some kind of torture. You‘re killing me with pleasure." He mused softly, "When do I get to tie you to the bed?"

Chakotay‘s heart instantly began a painful pounding in his chest. "I don‘t know," he said softly. "Whenever you think you‘ll be able to handle it."

"Handle it? What‘s to handle, besides you, of course?" "You have to be able to handle the intensity. It‘s very easy to get lost in it, the power. You can really hurt your lover if you‘re not careful."

"You never hurt me."

"And I never will. But sometimes, it takes a lot of self-control." Tom stared up at him, pondering, for a few minutes. Suddenly, with a powerful twist of his long, lean body, he flipped up and over and pinned Chakotay down to the bed. "I guess it all comes down to one thing," he said softly. "Do you trust me?" His eyes were dark and intense.

"I trust you," Chakotay answered, a little breathless, an instant before Tom‘s mouth descended on his. They kissed for a while, and the way it felt never failed to amaze Chakotay. Damn, but Tom was good at this—no other lover‘s kisses had ever excited him quite this much. He was hot and hard by the time Tom raised his head again, and he shivered to see the lust rekindled in the blue eyes above him.

Tom shook his head and chuckled. "I don‘t understand it," he said. "You‘ve turned me into some kind of sex maniac. I can‘t get enough of you ... I could fuck you all day and it still wouldn‘t be enough." His hands were moving as he spoke, fumbling for the restraints that Chakotay had thrown carelessly to one side of the bed. "Let‘s see if I can figure these out." Tom was quiet for a minute, studying the cuffs, then he slid them over Chakotay‘s wrists and tightened them, next looping the cords over the bed posts. "Well, that was pretty easy," he said. "Did I make them too tight?"

"No," Chakotay said, testing them tentatively. "Good," Tom said, in a low voice. He ran his fingers slowly down Chakotay‘s chest, teasing a nipple, dipping in to touch his navel, tracing the masculine flare of his hip. Chakotay panted slightly. "Look at me, Chakotay," Tom said firmly. "I want to see your eyes."

Chakotay raised his eyes to Tom‘s, and let himself fall into them. He knew what Tom wanted to see, so he let his eyes express his affection and passion and trust. Tom gasped, then moaned softly, and Chakotay could feel Tom‘s erection pressing into his leg. "Mine," Tom said softly. "You‘re all mine." He lay down slowly, not breaking eye-contact until it was unavoidable, and began kissing slow, wet trails along Chakotay‘s torso, while one hand played gently with the base of Chakotay‘s cock, just hard enough to tease. Chakotay allowed himself to moan in response to Tom‘s caresses; he knew how much his moans excited Tom, and if he couldn‘t touch him, he‘d have to arouse him another way. Tom had moved back up to Chakotay‘s ear, flicking his tongue around the earlobe, causing the older man to gasp and shudder. He‘d never realized exactly how much of an erogenous zone his ear was, not until Tom had made him come one night just by tonguing him there. Tom‘s fingers continued their gentle caress of the base of his erection, every now and then stroking his balls lightly.

"Gods," he whispered, praying Tom would touch him, harder, soon. He wasn‘t going to beg, dammit, but spirits, it was pretty damn difficult. His hips moved involuntarily, and he could sense Tom‘s smile.

"You like that, don‘t you, Big Man," Tom whispered, "but you want more. You want my hands wrapped around your cock, squeezing and stroking. Better, you want me to suck you, stroke you with my tongue and make you scream..." "Please," Chakotay moaned. Damn, he‘d told himself he wasn‘t going to beg, but ... "oh, please."

Tom didn‘t move, he just continued his slow gentle play with Chakotay‘s ear and neck. "Tell me what you want, Chakotay," he urged. "I want to hear you say the words." Chakotay tried to resist. He struggled uselessly against the restraints. Gods, he‘d forgotten how frustrating it could be, tied down, no way to direct the lovemaking. "Suck me," he heard himself whisper, to his chagrin. "Please." Tom chuckled softly, and retraced his earlier path down Chakotay‘s torso, this time continuing on past the hips to take the older man‘s erection in his mouth.

"Gods," Chakotay breathed. Oh, this was exquisite. Tom was so good at this, he could bring him off in seconds if he wanted to, but tonight he obviously wanted to take it slowly, he was teasing and torturing him, and now he was doing that with his tongue—"*Gods*," Chakotay gasped. "Don‘t stop!" Tom lifted his head, an evil glint in his eye. "Actually, I was thinking of taking a little break." He placed his folded hands on Chakotay‘s thigh, and rested his head placidly on them. "Hope you don‘t mind too much..."

"No, Tom, please," Chakotay begged. Oh hell, he should never have agreed to this, the man was too big of a tease to be trusted, he should have known Tom would pull a stunt like this. "Please, Tom!"

"Please what?" Tom asked, eyes all innocence.

Chakotay groaned in frustration. "*Do* something." "Is that an order, Commander?" Tom‘s voice was teasing. "‘Cause you‘re not in much of a position right now to be giving orders." Shit. Tom was playing with him. Damn it all to hell, this was not the time. Gods, the man could be utterly infuriating. Tom idly ran one long finger down the side of Chakotay‘s erection, and Chakotay thought he might explode if something didn‘t happen soon. A slight whimper escaped his lips as Tom gently stroked him again.

"Fuck it, Chakotay, this isn‘t going to be any fun at all if you‘re not going to beg me for mercy," Tom pouted. "If you‘re not going to play, Chakotay, I‘m not going to suck you off." Chakotay gaped at him. No, not even Tom could be that cruel, that mean, that much of tease, could he? He wouldn‘t... "No," he whimpered.

Tom was shaking his head with determination. "No, I‘m not going to suck you off." He grinned suddenly. "I‘m going to fuck you silly instead." Like a cat, he pounced. His mouth was everywhere, leaving moist rings of fire on Chakotay‘s face, neck, torso, arms and legs.

It felt, Chakotay thought, dazedly, like there were at least two or three people kissing him. Surely all these kisses couldn‘t be from one mouth ... he heard a loud groan, and realized with a start it had come from him. Tom‘s fingers were inside him, and he hadn‘t even noticed it happening. Tom stretched him gently, all the while keeping up the relentless assault with his lips, occasionally kissing torturously close to the base of his cock. Chakotay couldn‘t stop himself from moaning, couldn‘t stop himself from rubbing his erection against Tom‘s body, and couldn‘t stop himself from thrusting desperately against Tom‘s fingers. He bit his lip as Tom moved his fingers gently inside him, damn it felt good, but he needed more, he needed ... "Fuck me, Tom, please fuck me."

"Is that another order, Commander?" Tom asked, blue eyes glinting with equal amounts of humor and lust. "Yes, damn it, it‘s an order!" Chakotay ground out. "Fuck me, Lieutenant."

"Yes, sir," Tom responded smartly, throwing a mock salute with the hand not currently coated with lubricant. Seconds later, he was leaning down over Chakotay‘s body, pushing Chakotay‘s legs up to his chest. He froze in place for an instant, the head of his cock poised carefully just outside Chakotay‘s ass. "I can see what you mean about self-control," he panted out. "I want to slam into you so hard it makes your teeth rattle."

Chakotay could see Tom holding himself back, strength held forcefully in check, and he was touched. "I appreciate the sentiment, Lieutenant," he said, laughing breathlessly, "but I ordered you to fuck me and I meant it."
"You mean-"

"Fuck me hard, Tom. Now."
Tom paused for another brief instant, then he closed his eyes and gripped Chakotay‘s legs, and with one powerful thrust, forced himself all the way inside. "*Gods!*" Matching cries, torn from both throats.

Chakotay gripped the cords that tied him to the bed, using the leverage to force his hips up to meet Tom‘s thrusts, which were growing steadily more powerful. Damn, he thought, it‘s never been like this. Not with Tom, not with anyone. Oh spirits, you‘re going to be sore tomorrow, Big Man, but gods, it feels so good ... He was moaning and gasping an occasional ragged breath.

"More," he forced out.

Tom‘s eyes flew open to meet his. "I don‘t want to hurt you," he said desperately. "Please don‘t make me."

"You‘re not hurting me," Chakotay swore. "You‘re still holding back, but I don‘t want you to..." Tom groaned as Chakotay clenched his ass muscles a little tighter around his cock. "Fuck me, Tom," Chakotay whispered, pleading, and after only an instant‘s hesitation, Tom plunged even deeper into Chakotay‘s body with a feline growl.

Gods, Chakotay thought, oh gods. Tom was gone, now, his body no longer under his control. Chakotay couldn‘t speak, couldn‘t even moan, he was gripping onto the restraint cords as though they were lifelines, and gasping for air when he remembered to think about it. This wasn‘t making love, this wasn‘t even fucking, it was ... who the hell knew? There weren‘t any words for this, something so unbearably wild, unutterably perfect. No time for the sensations to subside between thrusts, the feeling just kept building and building, and Chakotay was beginning to think he wouldn‘t survive the explosion when it came.

He could hear Tom swearing under his breath, and he forced his eyes open to look at his lover. Tom‘s eyes were shut, his face was a perfect picture of concentrated ecstasy, his forehead was sweaty and the damp hair clung to it. A particularly deep thrust, and Tom moaned. I‘m doing this to him, Chakotay thought, I‘m giving him this pleasure. The thought made him gasp, and he lifted his hips even higher off the bed.

Tom was growling, and Chakotay could see the tremors start to run through his body. He‘s going to come in me, Chakotay thought, so deep inside me, oh gods, oh yes, so right ... stars twinkled at the edge of his consciousness, almost there, oh gods, oh gods, oh gods yes now ...

Blinding pleasure tore through his body, leaving him senseless. The last thing he heard before the blackness descended was Tom‘s hoarse scream.

Chakotay came awake slowly. His heart was still pounding. Damn, he‘d passed out again. He opened his mouth to apologize, when he realized that Tom was lying still and motionless on his chest. "Tom?" No answer. Oh shit. "Tom??" "Mmmm?" Tom raised his head slowly to look around, and shook it slightly. "What—what happened?"

Chakotay had to smile to himself. "Looks like you passed out, too."

"I did? I guess I did. Wow." He took a deep breath, and lifted himself off Chakotay‘s body, reaching up to undo the restraints. Tom‘s eyes roamed over the whole bed, and his face suddenly paled. He asked, in a subdued voice, "You o.k.?" "More than o.k."

"You sure?" Tom‘s eyes were troubled.

"I‘m sure. What‘s wrong?"

"You‘re bleeding."

"I‘m not surprised. Don‘t worry about it." "Don‘t worry about it? Shit, Chakotay, you‘re fucking bleeding, because of what I did to you, and you‘re telling me not to worry about it?"

"Yes. It got a little wild, but I‘ll heal. You weren‘t doing anything I didn‘t want you to do. Didn‘t you enjoy yourself?" "You know I did. It was unbelievable. That‘s not the point." "Yes it is. I wanted it, you wanted it, we both enjoyed it. That‘s the whole point."

"But, I hurt you."

Chakotay gathered Tom into his arms. "No, you didn‘t. You could only hurt me if you did something I didn‘t want you to. Believe me, I wanted this. All of it." He patted Tom‘s back gently, and pulled him close for a deep, comforting kiss. Tom resisted for a minute, then relaxed into the kiss. When he broke it off, he raised his head and stared into Chakotay‘s eyes. "You scare me sometimes, Big Man."


"I don‘t understand the way you trust me. It‘s as if I can‘t do anything wrong. ‚Cept for sleeping with Megan, of course." He chuckled, but when he spoke again, his voice was serious. "I just can‘t figure out what I did to deserve you." Chakotay chuckled too. "Funny. I keep asking myself the same question."

Tom was quiet for a few minutes, snuggling close as Chakotay continued to pat his back. Finally, he spoke, in a sleepy, sated voice, "It was pretty fucking unbelievable, Big Man." "I thought so."

"Chakotay?" Tom asked in a soft voice.


"What did David Vasicek want to talk to you about this morning?" Chakotay was suddenly wide awake again. He rubbed Tom‘s back soothingly. "He wanted to give me some advice." "About me." Tom‘s voice was very matter-of-fact.

"About you," Chakotay agreed.

"I haven‘t wanted to ask—I figured you‘d tell me if it was really bad, but B‘Elanna told me the Maquis have been coming down on you pretty hard and you haven‘t mentioned anything—are you all right?"

Chakotay laughed softly. "I‘m fine. They don‘t understand this, that‘s all."

Tom shook his head and corrected him. "They don‘t think you should trust me. They think I‘m just using you." "Some of them think that."

"Hell, Chakotay, the whole damn ship thinks that." Tom let out an exasperated sigh, and spoke in a tiny voice. "If you start thinking they‘re right ... I mean, if you start having doubts about me ... just let me know, o.k.? I‘d understand."

Chakotay was chilled. "Hey," he whispered, tightening his arms around Tom, "I trust you. Nothing they can say is going to change that. Got that?"

"Got it," Tom said softly. He pillowed his head on Chakotay‘s chest.

Chakotay listened to him breathe for a few minutes before asking, "Tom, are you all right? Have the Maquis still been giving you trouble?"

"Nah." Tom‘s voice was light, but Chakotay could feel his body tense. "Guess they figure I‘m too dim-witted to know when to quit. They gave up on me a couple of days ago." Chakotay didn‘t think he really believed Tom, but the younger man‘s voice sounded sincere, and it was really too late at night to be having this discussion, so all he said was, "I‘m glad they‘re leaving you alone."

Tom mumbled assent, and sat up with a groan. "Fuck, I‘m going to be sore tomorrow." He dragged himself off the bed, heading for the bathroom. "Chakotay, could you do me a favor while I‘m in the shower?"

"Of course," Chakotay agreed. "What is it?" "Could you change the sheets?" Tom ducked into the bathroom, and Chakotay‘s rumpled uniform hit the door behind him an instant later.


A few evenings later, Chakotay was working late in his office, reviewing the lists of food supplies Neelix said he needed. He‘d been working diligently for a few hours, and was nearly finished, when the door chime rang.

"Enter," he said, putting the padd down on the table.

Harry Kim walked in the door. "Commander. Are you busy?"

"I‘m just reviewing some reports, Ensign. What can I do for you?"

"Do you—do you have a minute to talk?"

"Of course." Chakotay could sense Harry‘s nervousness. The poor kid hasn‘t been the same since that morning he walked in on Tom and me, Chakotay thought. Not surprising. Must have been a hell of a shock. "What do you want to talk about, Harry?" Harry sat down stiffly. "About Tom, Commander. I think this situation is getting a little bit out of hand, don‘t you?" Chakotay was confused. "Which situation? Our arrangement?" Harry shook his head. "No. No, of course not. That‘s not any of my business." He raised and lowered one shoulder briefly, a half a shrug. "You seem happy. Tom seems happy. What the two of you do together is between the two of you." He took a deep breath. "I meant the situation with the Maquis."

Chakotay shook his head slightly. "I don‘t understand. What situation with the Maquis? They‘re leaving Tom alone...." His voice trailed off at Harry‘s incredulous stare. "I‘m sorry, Commander. I assumed Tom had told you." Harry‘s face was now carefully blank, a trick Chakotay assumed he‘d picked up from Tom. "I‘m sorry to have bothered you." He stood up to leave.

"Sit down, Ensign." Chakotay‘s tone of voice made it an order. "If there‘s something going on here, I expect you to tell me about it." He waited until Harry was sitting again. "What exactly is the situation with the Maquis? Are they harassing Tom?" "Yes," Harry agreed reluctantly. "I shouldn‘t be talking to you about this. I thought you knew already. Tom would-" "I‘ll deal with Tom. You tell me about the Maquis. What are they doing?"

Harry shrugged. "You know, the same kind of stuff as before. Making nasty comments in the turbolift, calling him names, making threats -" "Threats? What kind of threats?"

Harry considered the question. "Well, for instance, someone told him they‘d break his legs if they caught him screwing around again. Someone else told him he should break up with you or they‘d break his arms. That kind of stuff. I don‘t know if they mean it, but Tom‘s starting to get upset. In the beginning, he told me he thought it would die down pretty quickly, but it seems to be getting worse, not better. It‘s really starting to get to him." Shit.

Harry continued, "You know what he told me last night? He said that everyone‘s so convinced he‘s such a jerk, he‘s beginning to believe it himself."

Shit. Shit shit shit. "Thanks for telling me, Harry. I‘ll take care of it."

Harry stood up again. "I‘m just worried about him, that‘s all, Commander. I‘m not trying to interfere."

"You‘re not. You did the right thing by telling me. I‘ll look into it." Chakotay stayed at his desk for a few more minutes, but was too upset to finish reviewing the reports. He put away the padd and left his office, pondering what Harry had just told him. Was it really as bad as that? Surely Tom would have told him. Wouldn‘t he? Chakotay stopped in the hallway for a minute, considering. No, probably not. Tom wouldn‘t want him to get upset. Chakotay smiled to himself at the thought of Tom‘s unnecessary overprotectiveness. He was still smiling as he approached the turbolift. Later, he wasn‘t sure what made him stop. All he knew was that he suddenly found himself lurking in a doorway, listening to hushed voices carrying on a conversation a few meters away.

"Do you know who did it?" An unidentifiable man‘s voice. "No. Probably Dalby, or someone like him," a soft female voice responded. "He‘s the kind of guy who‘d actually go through with it."

"I heard his quarters are wrecked."

"Yeah. I‘d have loved to have seen his face when he walked in and saw the room. I bet it won‘t help any, though." "No. Probably not. He‘s a stubborn bastard; at least you can say that for him."

The woman‘s voice was disdainful. "That‘s about the only thing.

I don‘t know what Chakotay sees in him."

"They say he‘s a good fuck."

"So am I. If that‘s all the Commander wants, I‘ll sleep with him myself, so long as it keeps him away from Paris." The man laughed. "I don‘t think you‘re his type, if you know what I mean."

The woman was defensive. "He‘s interested in women too. He had affairs with Seska and Torres."

"But he ended up with Paris."

"I know. It makes me sick to my stomach. Just the thought of them together..."

"Me too."

There was a short pause before the woman spoke. "I‘ll tell you one thing. If I hear he‘s been screwing around behind Chakotay‘s back again, I won‘t just threaten to break his legs, I‘ll do it." The man chuckled. "From what I hear, you‘d have to stand in line for the privilege."

The woman exhaled angrily. "I don‘t get it. How can Chakotay be so blind? Paris is just using him. The man can‘t be trusted. Everybody knows that."

"Maybe the sex is really good," the man offered. "It probably is, if you can believe the Delaneys and Nicoletti. Still wouldn‘t get me to sleep with him."

The man laughed again. "You‘d cut his dick off." "No I wouldn‘t. I‘d never get close enough to him to try it. He‘s such a sleaze. I can‘t believe Janeway lets him fly the ship." "He‘s a damn good pilot."

The woman just snorted.

"You‘re really upset about this, aren‘t you?"

"We all are."

"Are you interested in Chakotay? Personally, I mean." "No. I‘m not jealous. I respect him, that‘s all. I can‘t stand to see that ... traitor ... make a fool of him."

"So talk to him."

"Everybody‘s tried that already. Chakotay won‘t listen. All he says is that we‘d like Paris if we got to know him." "Maybe you would."

"Not in my lifetime." The woman‘s voice was disgusted.

"You Maquis really have it in for him."

"He sold us out. We don‘t forget things like that." "I guess not. Hey, it‘s getting late. You want to grab some dinner?"


Footsteps receded down the hall, and the conversation faded away. For a moment, Chakotay was tempted to follow the unknown speakers and confront them, but then he thought of Tom, alone in his damaged quarters. Time enough to deal with other people later. Chakotay turned around decisively and headed off to Tom‘s cabin.


Chakotay entered Tom‘s Level 1 security code and walked into the outer room. He had to hold back a flood of invective as he saw the devastation. Shit. Clothing everywhere, furniture upended, dirt from a flower pot spilled all over the floor, staining the rug. Padds, data chips, and books were scattered indiscriminately throughout the room.

"Tom?" he called hesitantly, kneeling down to pick up something that glinted beneath the overturned sofa.

Tom emerged from the bedroom, carrying some towels. "Hi," he said, softly. His eyes fell on the object in Chakotay‘s hand. "Hey, you found the picture. I was wondering what happened to it." "The frame‘s broken," Chakotay said, trying to hold the pieces together.

"I know. I keep gluing it back together, but it doesn‘t hold. I should probably just replicate a new frame, but my mom gave it to me. I‘m kind of sentimental about it."

Chakotay glanced down at the photo. He hadn‘t seen it before. Spirits, he‘d never seen so much blonde hair in his life. "Is this your family?"

"Yup. These are my folks," Tom pointed them out, "and these are my older sisters. That handsome young guy is me." He smiled gently, remembering. "This was taken the day I entered the Academy."

Chakotay looked a little more closely at the picture. "Gods, Tom, you look exactly like your father. You could be his clone." Tom chuckled. "That‘s what everyone says. At least I know what I‘ll look like in 20 years, gray hair and all." He ran one finger lightly over the glass. "Good old reliable Owen. Passed on his genes like a good Paris."

"You miss him?"

Tom shrugged. "I guess. I haven‘t spoken to him in years. Even before we got stuck out here, I mean."


Tom lost his smile for a brief instant. "We kind of lost touch after the accident. My fault, not his. I couldn‘t face him, you know? My sisters didn‘t want to join Starfleet. I was the last generation of Parises in the service. When I got kicked out, I just couldn‘t ..." He trailed off, and touched the photo again. An instant later, he allowed a slightly sardonic grin to touch his face. "Then, of course, I joined the Maquis, and I couldn‘t talk to him." "He didn‘t visit you in New Zealand?"

"He tried to. They all came, a couple of times. I wouldn‘t see them. I mean, the thought of talking to them, wearing that horrible prison jumpsuit—I couldn‘t do it. I‘d let them all down, and ... I just couldn‘t talk to them."

"I don‘t think you let them down. You took a temporary detour, that‘s all. I think they‘d be proud of you now, the things you‘ve done here."

Tom looked up at Chakotay, and his face was thoughtful. "You really think so? I‘d like to believe that..." "I really think so." Chakotay handed the photo back to Tom, and took another look around the room. "This is awful." Tom nodded his head carelessly. "Yeah. I‘ve been cleaning for an hour, but I don‘t feel like I‘ve made too much headway." "Let me help." Chakotay bent down, and started picking up some of the clothing that was strewn about. "Tom, I‘m really sorry about this."

"Don‘t be. You didn‘t do it."

"I know, but I‘m sure it was the Maquis."

"Oh, I know it was the Maquis. The ‚Fleeters aren‘t pissed off enough to do this. Whoever it is, they‘re getting a little slow. Last time they shredded the sheets."

"Last time? This has happened before?"

Tom nodded. "Yeah. A few times. When we first got stuck here, you know? That‘s how the frame got broken in the first place." He looked at Chakotay‘s stricken face, and smiled carefully. "Don‘t worry about it. It‘s just stuff. It can be replaced. It could have been worse, Big Man."

Chakotay was a little disconcerted by Tom‘s calm acceptance of the incident, but didn‘t have time to ponder it further. The door chime rang a short warning, and the doors slid open an instant later. Harry walked in, followed closely by B‘Elanna. "Tom, we just heard." Harry looked around, shaking his head ruefully. "Doesn‘t look as bad as last time."

"Easy for you to say, Harry; I‘ve been cleaning for an hour." "These people are idiots, Tom," B‘Elanna said, bending down to right the overturned flower pot. "What do they think, this is going to scare you off or something?"

"I don‘t know," Tom replied, digging around in a drawer to find a small floor vac for the dirt. "I think they want to get out some aggression, and this is the only way to do it that doesn‘t actually involve beating me up. This and making asinine comments in the turbolift, that is."

The door chime rang again, longer this time. "Come in," Tom called.

Janeway walked in, frowning at the mess. "Tuvok just told me what happened. I‘m so sorry, Tom. Do you have any idea who did it?"

"Not really," Tom said, "but I could make a few guesses. It doesn‘t matter. Nothing‘s really damaged." "I don‘t suppose you want to file a formal complaint," she asked. "What‘s the point? No, I‘ll just clean it up and not mention it again. Eventually they‘ll get bored and leave me alone. I hope." Janeway shook her head, and pushed up her sleeves. "I‘ll help you clean."

"That‘s not necessary, Captain."

"No, it‘s not, but it would make me feel better." The 5 officers worked steadily for an hour or more, putting away clothing, folding sheets and towels, straightening books, organizing padds, sorting data chips. B‘Elanna was putting away some shirts in the closet when she let out a soft giggle, and reached deep into the closet.

"Tom," she said, trying not to laugh. "*What* is this?" She emerged from the closet, holding something brown and furry. Tom grinned widely when he saw it. "I forgot I brought that with me. It‘s a teddy bear. Theodore T. Bear. My sisters gave it to me when I was at the Academy. They said it reminded them of me." B‘Elanna looked it over, and shook her head. "Why?" Tom reached for the bear and squeezed its stomach. The bear growled appealingly, and said, in a squeaky voice, "Give me a kiss."

The room erupted in laughter. When he‘d recovered, Harry asked, "What‘s the ‚T‘ for?"

Tom chuckled and said, "The. As in, Theodore The Bear. I wasn‘t too creative back then." He peered speculatively at the bear, then at Chakotay. "You know, Big Man, from the first time I met you I thought you looked familiar. Now I know why." He showed the bear to Janeway. "What do you think?" Janeway cocked her head to one side, glancing back and forth from the bear to Chakotay. After a little while, she said thoughtfully, "You‘re right, Tom. I can‘t put my finger on it, but he definitely looks like Chakotay."

Chakotay tried to look stern and commanding. "Stop it. I do not look like a stuffed bear."

"Oh, but you really do, Big Man," Tom teased. "And not just any stuffed bear. My stuffed bear." He grinned, and a familiar impish gleam appeared in his eyes. "In fact, I think I‘m going to start calling you Theodore. The rest of us have two names; why should you be allowed to get away with only one?" "Don‘t be ridiculous," Chakotay said, frowning. Tom ignored him. "I think it suits you. Theodore Chakotay." He paused briefly. "Or, if you prefer, I could call you Chakotay T. Bear... ... ... nah. Too babyish. Nope, Theodore it is. Teddy, for short."

B‘Elanna couldn‘t hold back a laugh. "Tom, are you always this goofy?"

"Not usually. Something about Teddy just brings out the worst in me, I guess. He‘s so easy to tease."

"Tom," Chakotay said, with the infinite patience of a long- suffering martyr, "shut up."

"You‘re always telling me that," Tom pouted. "It‘s not very polite."

"No more than you deserve when you‘re acting infantile," Chakotay scolded. He gathered up some towels, and thrust them into Tom‘s hands. "Here. Fold these. That‘s an order." "Slavedriver," Tom muttered under his breath.

"What was that, Lieutenant?"

"You heard me, Commander," Tom said defiantly, sapphire eyes sparkling with humor. He threw the towels down in a heap on the floor.

"You‘re being insubordinate, Lieutenant," Chakotay warned.

"Oh yeah? What are you going to do, put me on report?" Chakotay stared at him as coldly as he could manage. "That would be too easy. I‘ve got something else in mind for you." "Really," Tom murmured, his eyes locked with Chakotay‘s.

"Sounds interesting." His voice was husky. "Uh, guys?" Harry ventured, startling them both. "Do you want us to leave?"

Tom snapped back to reality with a visible effort of will. "No.

We‘ll stop now. Sorry."

Chakotay stared at Tom for a moment longer. Tom‘s face was slightly flushed, his breathing was a little more rapid than normal, and that look in his eyes ... Chakotay found himself wishing that Tom had taken Harry up on his offer to clear out of the room. Over two months into this, and he was still constantly feeling that rush of physical desire that accompanies a new infatuation. It didn‘t bother him. Far from it; in fact, he was delighted and amazed each time it happened, which, to be perfectly frank, was pretty damn often.

Chakotay shook his head to clear it, and bent down to pick up the towels Tom had thrown to the floor. He sat down on the bed to fold them, watching Tom joke with Harry and B‘Elanna. Janeway sat down next to him, and started folding towels too. When she spoke, her voice was pitched low so that only he could hear her. "Stop undressing him."

"What?" Chakotay whispered back, a little startled.

"You keep undressing him with your eyes. It‘s very distracting." She plopped her hands down in her lap. "Some of us are not involved in passionate affairs at the moment, and it‘s very distracting to see the two of you practically having sex with your eyes. Could you at least wait until we leave the room?" Chakotay was embarrassed. "I‘m sorry, Kathryn. I didn‘t realize it was so obvious."

Janeway was barely able to hold back a laugh. "Good lord. Any more obvious and we‘d be paying you to watch." She stood up decisively, and looked around the room, which was more or less back to its usual state of disrepair. "Well, Lieutenant," she said to Tom, "it looks like things are pretty much under control here. I think I‘ll turn in now. I‘ve got an early morning tomorrow." She headed for the door, glancing meaningfully at Harry and B‘Elanna, who joined in with similar confessions of early morning duties.

"Thanks, guys," Tom said, clapping Harry on the shoulder. "I really appreciate your help."

"Any time, Paris," Harry said. "Are we still on for that pool game tomorrow night?"

Tom stood back, amusement on his face. "Don‘t go getting overconfident, Harry. Just because you‘ve beaten me once or twice doesn‘t mean you‘ll win when there are replicator rations riding on the game."

"I‘m feeling lucky," Harry said. "Anyway, it‘s only one day‘s worth of rations. I can afford to lose it, unlike some people." "What can I say?" Tom said, laughing. "I have expensive tastes.

Go get some sleep, Harry."

"I‘d say the same thing to you if I thought it would do any good," Harry teased, a glint in his eye.

"My god. Harry Kim," Tom said, feigning amazement. "What are you insinuating?"

"Nothing," Harry said, looking over at Chakotay. "Nothing at all. Have a good night, Tom. Commander." The door slid shut behind him, and Tom retreated into the room, shaking his head. "I‘ve corrupted him. Harry used to be such an innocent. I‘ll never forgive myself."

Chakotay had finished folding all the towels. "You‘re playing pool with him tomorrow night? For rations?" "Just one day‘s worth."

"Are you going to let him win?"

"Don‘t know. I haven‘t decided yet. I‘ll have to see how it goes." He sat down on the bed, next to Chakotay, and placed his hand carefully on Chakotay‘s thigh. "So, Big Man, how tired are you?" "Not very," Chakotay murmured, reaching over to nuzzle Tom‘s neck.

"Good," Tom whispered back, relaxing into the caress. "I‘m not very tired either." He sighed happily as Chakotay nibbled at him. "Gods, Teddy, you‘re so good at this."

"I‘m only going to say this once," Chakotay warned. "Don‘t call me Teddy." An instant later, he pushed Tom roughly down onto the bed, and any reply Tom might have made was lost.


The following morning, at the routine briefing, Chakotay walked in to find Theodore T. Bear on his seat, a tattoo emblazoned in black ink on his furry forehead. Tom smiled innocently at him across the table as the rest of the senior staff filed in, and Chakotay wasn‘t sure how he was going to keep a straight face. He kept the bear hidden on his lap throughout the meeting, and warned Tom, quite seriously, to keep the bear out of staff meetings. Tom nodded his understanding and took the bear with him to the conn, where it sat for the morning, perched on the navigational control panel like some sort of mascot. The next day, the bear showed up on Chakotay‘s chair on the bridge. This time, it had a little red shirt. Chakotay had to restrain himself from throwing the stuffed animal at Tom‘s head. When Kathryn noticed, she stifled a laugh, and took the bear out of Chakotay‘s hands, placing him in the third command seat. "It‘s your own fault," she whispered to Chakotay. "You encourage him."

"I do not!" he answered in an indignant whisper. "Yes, you do," she said. "You have to be very firm with him when you tell him not to do something, or he thinks you don‘t really mean it."

That night, Chakotay was very firm with Tom, and told him, in no uncertain terms, that Theodore T. Bear was not to leave Tom‘s quarters. Tom nodded meekly, and said he was very, very sorry, then proceeded to prove it. Despite this, Chakotay was a little surprised, and even a little bit disappointed, when the bear failed to appear on the bridge the next morning. Later that day, Chakotay walked into the mess hall just after shift change. He was off-duty for the rest of the afternoon; no real reason to fight the lunch crowd. His tray filled with Ebolian pasta, one of Neelix‘s more palatable creations, he scanned the room. His eyes lit on the familiar blonde head of his favorite pilot, at a table in the corner, with ... Megan Delaney. Hmmm. They‘re friends, he told himself sternly. Just friends. Maybe you should leave them alone, Big Man. You don‘t want to smother him. He‘d already decided to head for a table across the room when Megan looked up and saw him. She poked Tom in the arm and pointed to Chakotay. Tom‘s face lit up with a brilliant smile, and he motioned for Chakotay to sit down with them. "Good afternoon, Commander," Megan said politely.

"Good afternoon, Ensign," he said. "Lieutenant." Tom cocked an eyebrow at him. "We‘re not on duty, Teddy. You can call me Tom, you know."

Now it was Megan‘s turn to raise an eyebrow. "Teddy?" Chakotay glowered at Tom, who was grinning, and poking his fork at the pasta on Chakotay‘s tray. "Didn‘t you know, Meg? Chakotay‘s first name is Theodore." He munched a stolen noodle.

"It is?" Megan was obviously confused.

"No," Chakotay answered, slapping Tom‘s hand away from his tray when he threatened to steal more food. "Tom‘s just being irritating and childish."

"Oh, now that‘s a shock," Megan teased. "Tom Paris being irritating and childish. I‘d never have imagined it possible." "Hey, wait a minute," Tom said indignantly, "I didn‘t come here to be insulted."

Megan laughed prettily. "It‘s not an insult, Tom. We‘re just stating the facts."

Tom rolled his eyes. "I really need this abuse." The conversation continued, light, cheery teasing, mostly of Tom, until Chakotay had finished eating. He‘d never spent much time with Megan—well, actually, he‘d never spent any time with Megan—and he was pleasantly surprised to find that she had an playful sense of humor rivaling Tom‘s. A good thing, since someone needed to keep Tom in his place, and Chakotay suspected he wasn‘t quite up to the task.

Megan pushed her tray away, scanned the room, then leaned forward confidentially and whispered to Chakotay, "Tell me, Commander, what‘s your secret?"

"What secret?" Chakotay whispered back.

Megan leaned in even closer. "Sue Nicoletti told me that she‘s seen Tom leaving your quarters in the morning on at least two separate occasions." Megan darted her eyes over to Tom, who smiled genially back at her and sipped his coffee. Chakotay nodded his confirmation. "That‘s right." Megan puffed out some air with exasperation. "How did you do it? Tom never stays the night. It‘s one of his cardinal rules." Chakotay leaned back in his chair and looked at Tom thoughtfully, who looked back and raised an eyebrow. "Go ahead, Teddy," Tom said with a grin, provoking a glare from Chakotay. "Tell her how you did it."

Chakotay shook his head slightly, and leaned in towards the table. "I‘ll tell you, but you can‘t repeat it to anybody else, or I‘ll get in big trouble," he said, mustering up a serious expression and lowering his voice. "I told him if he didn‘t stay I‘d have him demoted and thrown in the brig."

Tom snorted. Megan laughed for an instant, before a slight frown crossed her face. "No, seriously."

"Seriously?" Chakotay said, reflectively. "I asked him to stay."

Megan was dumbfounded. "That‘s it?"

"That‘s it."

Megan turned her head to stare at Tom, who shrugged his shoulders and smiled at her. "What can I say?" he said. "I just can‘t say ‚no‘ to a guy in uniform."

"I can‘t believe it," Megan muttered. "You just asked him to stay." She smiled suddenly. "Maybe I should have tried it. Sometimes the simplest approach is the best one. Especially with Tom."

Chakotay nodded his head. "I agree. He‘s not good with subtlety."

"Hey!" Tom said. "Knock it off. I‘ve been insulted enough for one afternoon, don‘t you think?"

"Almost," Megan said, patting him on the shoulder, then rising to her feet. "Thanks for the lovely lunch, Tom. Commander. I‘d better get back to the dungeon before Jenny destroys all of my astrogation models."

"I‘ll walk with you," Tom said, also standing up. "I‘m working on a new flight sim, and I‘ve got to get to the holodeck before my reservation is canceled." He touched Chakotay‘s arm gently. "See you for dinner, Big Man?"

"Sure," Chakotay said agreeably. "See you later." Tom and Megan cleared their trays and left the mess hall together. Chakotay cleared his own tray, refilled his coffee cup, and returned to the table. He picked up his padd and began to review some reports that needed his approval before going to the Captain. Off-duty, he sighed. Sure, technically, but there was always so much work to do... sometimes, he really missed the Maquis. No damn reports.

"Where‘s Tom?"

Chakotay looked up from the padd to find B‘Elanna hovering over him, holding a cup of coffee. He motioned her to take the seat across from him, saying, "He‘s running some flight sims. We don‘t spend every minute off-duty together." "Seems that way," B‘Elanna said with a smile, taking the proffered seat. "Recently, that is. It must be nice. Being out in the open, I mean."

"It is," Chakotay agreed. B‘Elanna looked down at her coffee, too intently, and Chakotay touched her arm. "Something on your mind?"

B‘Elanna looked back up, a serious expression on her face. "I didn‘t mean them, you know. Those things I said about Tom a couple of weeks ago, the morning that he came in here with Megan."

Chakotay smiled. "I know. You were trying to make me feel better by telling me what a jerk he was."

"Yeah," B‘Elanna said. "Pretty stupid strategy, in retrospect." She took a sip of coffee, gathering her thoughts. "I‘m really happy you worked things out."

"Me too."

"I just wanted to make sure you understand that I don‘t think he‘s a jerk. In fact, I think he‘s a pretty nice guy. Also the best damn pilot I‘ve ever seen. Don‘t tell him I said that!" "My lips are sealed."

"Good. He‘s got a big enough ego as it is." She sipped her coffee again. "Seriously, though, Chakotay, watching the two of you together, the other night in his quarters ... you‘re good for each other. He gets someone to tease 24 hours a day, and you—" "I get someone to tease me." Chakotay couldn‘t help but smile. "No one else treats me like he does." At B‘Elanna‘s raised eyebrow, he laughed. "I mean that in a good way. He doesn‘t treat me like I‘m ‚Chakotay - Mystic Warrior‘."

"Wait a minute, how do you-"

"You think you can saddle me with a nickname like that and not have it get back to me? Besides, B‘Elanna, I‘ve had similar nicknames since I was in high school. It was pretty old by the time you started using it."

"Oh. I thought I was being so original, too." She grinned. "I‘m glad to hear there‘s more to your relationship than just sex. Although the sex itself must be pretty amazing, if I can judge by the way you keep stripping him with your eyes." Chakotay nodded. "It is pretty amazing. Very intense. It‘s kind of a problem, actually."

B‘Elanna gaped at him. "Why?"

Chakotay fidgeted. "To be brutally honest, I‘m a good 10 years older than he is, and sometimes I can‘t quite ... keep up with him. He‘s got a lot of energy."

B‘Elanna dropped her head on the table. "Don‘t do this to me."

"Do what?"

"Talk about him like that! Gods, Chakotay, I almost slept with him on that planet. I would‘ve, if Vorick hadn‘t come charging in there and ruined everything. Now it‘s too late, he‘s involved with you, and you made him promise not to screw around, so I‘ll never get to sleep with him."

Chakotay was confused, and more than a little nervous. "I thought you weren‘t interested in him."

"I wasn‘t, until I couldn‘t have him. Hell, Chakotay, there are a limited number of cute guys on this ship; now that the two of you are taken, Harry‘s the only one left, and he‘s so damn ... sweet." "You don‘t like sweet?"

"I‘m half-Klingon," she answered dryly. "Klingons don‘t do sweet." She sipped her coffee, and looked around the room. "Chakotay," she said reflectively, "what are you going to do about the Maquis?"

"What do you mean?"

"You can‘t let it go on like this," she said. "Making meaningless threats is one thing. They were just trying to keep Tom off- balance. No real harm done. But that attack on his quarters the other night was pretty nasty, especially now, after all this time. He thought he was done with all that shit." "I know," Chakotay sighed. "But Tom doesn‘t want to make an official complaint, so what can I do?" He looked at B‘Elanna seriously. "Do you know who did it?"

"No," she said. "Whoever it was, they‘re keeping quiet about it. They‘d never tell me, anyway. Don‘t you know? In the minds of the Maquis, I‘m Starfleet now."

"Oh really? When did that happen?"

"About 10 minutes after Captain Janeway made me Chief of Engineering."

Chakotay smiled at her. "It suits you." His smile turned into a frown, and he said, "If you‘ve got any suggestions as to how I can handle the Maquis, I‘d love to hear them." "I don‘t know," B‘Elanna said. "But whatever you‘re doing now, it‘s not working."


Two days later, Tom and Chakotay were playing pool at Sandrine‘s. Theodore T. Bear made another appearance, sitting on the side of the table, holding a miniature pool cue and a miniature beer.

"Tom," Chakotay said, conversationally, picking up the toy and studying it carefully, "you obviously have too much free time on your hands."

"Obviously," Tom answered, lining up his shot, then standing up and leaning on his pool cue. "You have any ideas how I might otherwise occupy myself?" He waggled his eyebrows. "Haven‘t a clue," Chakotay said, deliberately ignoring Tom‘s provocative leer. He looked at the bear again, holding its tiny mug of beer. "Damn. Now I‘m thirsty. You want a beer?" "No thanks. I‘ve had enough syntheale tonight." "All right; I‘ll just get one then." Chakotay put down his cue stick, and meandered over to the bar, where he ordered a drink from Sandrine. He had his back to the room for a minute or two, but turned around when he heard a now familiar squeaky voice say, "Give me a kiss," followed by peals of feminine laughter. Sue Nicoletti and Jenny Delaney had picked up Theodore T. Bear, and were cuddling him. Tom was nowhere in sight; his cue stick was draped carelessly across the pool table.

Chakotay scanned the room for Tom, and after several minutes, he saw a flash of blonde hair in a secluded nook in the opposite corner of the bar. Picking up his beer, he walked across the room, slowing down only when he heard hostile voices speaking softly but intently. Chakotay stayed in the shadows, listening to the conversation.

"Look, Paris, just stay away from him, and we‘ll leave you alone."

It was Vasicek‘s voice.

"Shouldn‘t you be talking to Commander Chakotay about this?" "We‘ve tried. He won‘t listen. He‘s confused—you‘ve got him so fucked up he‘s forgotten what you‘re like. But we haven‘t. You‘re a traitor, Paris. You sold us out."

Chakotay could see Tom‘s jaw begin to set, but Tom stayed silent. Dalby began to speak, and his voice was hostile. "Break it off with Chakotay, Paris. We all know you‘re just using him. Why don‘t you go back to your little slut Megan? You can fuck her all day long and we won‘t care."

Tom‘s eyes flared angrily. "You‘re just upset ‚cause she turned you down again."

"Fuck you."

"You wish. Sorry, Dalby, I only sleep with real men." Dalby laughed nastily. "*Sure* you do. Is that what you‘re planning on saying to the other convicts when we get home and they throw you back in prison?" Tom‘s face flushed an angry red, and the other men in the group laughed.

Chakotay had heard just about enough of this, and he stepped out of the shadows. "Is there a problem here, gentlemen?" he said in his coldest command voice, pitched loudly enough so that the whole room could hear. He could hear B‘Elanna‘s words echoing in his mind, ‚Whatever you‘re doing now, it‘s not working.‘ Well then, he was just going to have to try something else. It was time he made his position clear, publicly.

"No, sir," Dalby said, eyes still on Tom. "We were just having a friendly little talk with Paris, here."

"Bullshit," Chakotay said. Dalby‘s eyes widened slightly. "I heard you. If you have a problem with my relationship with Lieutenant Paris, crewman, you bring it up with me. You got that?"

"Yes, sir," Dalby said, sullenly.

Chakotay grabbed him by the shoulder. "Listen to me. I do not need you to police my relationships. I am perfectly capable of choosing who I will or will not get involved with." "But, sir," Dalby pleaded, "he sold us out! They let him out of prison so he could come hunt us down. He can‘t be trusted." "That‘s where you‘re wrong," Chakotay said, his voice steady. "And it offends me that you think I can‘t make those kind of judgment calls. It was my ship, Dalby. He was coming after me. I haven‘t forgotten it." His eyes flickered sideways to Tom, who was standing silently, watching and listening, arms folded across his chest.

"Then why-"

"He‘s saved my life more than once," Chakotay said furiously, glaring at all the men there, "and he‘s saved yours too. Countless times. He‘s risked his life for me and for the ship, and in my book that makes him pretty damn trustworthy. Furthermore," he added, his voice firm, "it is my call to make. Stay out of it." "Yes, sir," Dalby muttered.

"I mean it. I‘ve had enough of this. I am officially ordering you to lay off ," Chakotay warned. "I‘m sure you know that Lieutenant Paris hasn‘t been telling me about these little ... incidents ... with the Maquis crew. It doesn‘t mean I don‘t know about them. I wouldn‘t have tolerated that sort of the behavior in the Maquis, and I won‘t tolerate it here. If hear about any other ‚incidents‘, I‘m going to throw you all in the brig and let you rot. Understand?" His steady gaze covered all the men.

"Yes, sir," they answered, more or less in unison. Chakotay continued to glare at them until they broke up and walked away. Chakotay‘s eyes followed them until the last one had left the holodeck, then he turned to face Tom. Tom was looking at him speculatively.

"Chakotay," Tom said quietly, "we need to talk." Shit. "Tom, I didn‘t mean to pull rank to get them off your back, I just -" "We need to talk in private," Tom said. "Let‘s go to my quarters."

Double shit. His quarters. Tom‘s home territory. Chakotay‘s stomach fell down to his feet, and he couldn‘t bring himself to say anything at all during the short walk from the holodeck. Tom waited until the door slid shut behind them before looking Chakotay in the face. The expression in his eyes was unreadable. "Tom," Chakotay said, a little bit desperately, "I‘m sorry. I know you don‘t need my protection. I wasn‘t trying to-" Tom cut him off with a finger on his lips. "Shut up, Big Man," he said softly, and kissed him. When he broke it off, his eyes were shining. "I‘m not mad at you, you big lug. If you hadn‘t interrupted when you did, I probably would have broken Dalby‘s nose, and ended up in the brig for my troubles." All Chakotay could manage to say was, "Oh."

Tom paced easily around the room, and into the bedroom. "You‘re right. I don‘t need your protection, and I‘ll never ask for it. I‘m a big boy, Chakotay. I can take care of myself. But still ... no one‘s ever stood up for me like that before. I have to admit, I kind of liked it." He cocked his head reflectively. "On the other hand, it might have been fun to punch Dalby in the face. What a prick."

"He‘s got a big chip on his shoulder," Chakotay said. "He resents being forced to live under Starfleet rules. It‘s no excuse for his behavior. I‘m sorry for the things he said." "What, about prison?"

Chakotay nodded.

Tom shrugged. "It‘s no big deal. I‘m used to it. It‘s nothing I haven‘t heard a hundred times before."

Chakotay stared at Tom as an unpleasant thought dawned on him. "Tom, you‘re going to think I‘m really stupid for saying this, but it‘s something it never occurred to me to think about ... if we get back, are you really going to have to go back to prison?" "Probably. Starfleet didn‘t get me paroled to come after you; I was just released temporarily. In exchange for my help on the mission, Starfleet was going to help me at my outmate review." "When would that have been?"

"About 4 more months. Assuming none of this had ever happened, that is." He chuckled dryly. "See, I‘m even cheaper than you thought. Sold you out not for freedom from prison, but just to get a two week vacation from it."


"It‘s all right, Big Man. I know you don‘t hold it against me. Not anymore, at least."

"I don‘t, Tom. I didn‘t then. I was pissed as hell to see you on Voyager‘s bridge, but I knew, even back then, why you did it." "Really? Why did I do it?" Tom sounded genuinely curious. Chakotay smiled fondly at him. "Because you‘re Starfleet born and bred, through and through. What I don‘t understand is why you ever joined the Maquis in the first place." "Seemed like the thing to do at the time." Tom looked down at the floor, then out the window at the stars. "I needed to fly." He stared pensively at the stars for a minute, then grinned, a little, and peered back over his shoulder at Chakotay. "In retrospect, I might have been better off finding an outfit with a little better equipment. Shit, that tugboat you gave me should have been on the scrap heap decades ago."

"Yeah," Chakotay said, wincing. "Sorry about that. You were too new. We didn‘t want to risk giving you one of our best ships." "It‘s o.k," Tom said gently. "I forgive you." He looked at Chakotay and smiled, brilliantly.

Gods, Chakotay thought, that smile will kill me some day, that smile and those eyes ... without meaning to, he fell into their blue depths, and he was lost. They were both lost. Seconds passed while their eyes remained joined, and finally Tom drew his breath in, a deep gasping breath, full of unspoken desire. He exhaled, saying something in a strangled voice that might have been a curse, or not; Chakotay wasn‘t sure.

Chakotay tried to pull away from Tom‘s gaze, and he could see Tom struggling to break the connection as well, but it was no use; they were locked together, bound by their eyes, and it was a union far more intimate than what could be attained by a mere physical coupling. Two halves of a whole, Chakotay thought dazedly, two bodies with one soul. He loved Tom—he‘d known that for a long time—but that Tom loved him back he hadn‘t been sure of, not until now, when the naked emotion was written so clearly in Tom‘s eyes. Lovers, Chakotay thought, lovers in love, and the words exploded through him, filling him with an unexpected combination of emotional peace and physical desire. Tom was still fighting it, a mental battle fought on the physical plane; Chakotay could sense the other man‘s desperate struggle to turn his head, to blink, to do something, anything, to break the gaze that bound them together. Not this time, Chakotay thought, I won‘t let you escape this time, and he reached out to stroke Tom‘s cheek. The simple touch burned like acid, tore through him, and set all his nerve endings aflame. Their eyes were connected, still. Tom‘s battle for some shred of independence was weakening. Chakotay reached his hand to touch Tom‘s cheek again, and he could see in Tom‘s eyes the instant he surrendered; there was a new knowledge there, and fear as well. "There‘s nothing to be afraid of," Chakotay whispered, "It‘s just me. You and me. Together."

Then there were no more words for a long time. Soft rustling cloth as their uniforms were shed, hungry breaths as their mouths joined together, soft noises of skin sliding on skin. The deck was hard and unyielding beneath them. Chakotay wanted to touch Tom everywhere, all at once, inside and out, and he did the best he could with the limited resources at his disposal. Hands, arms, legs, and mouth, all seeking, searching, giving and receiving pleasure.

Tom‘s body felt like liquid fire, melting and reforming beneath him. Their mouths met, briefly, before Tom tore his away to gasp wildly for breath as Chakotay pushed a finger gently inside him. No noise, Chakotay thought inarticulately, he‘s not making any noise, and that was strange, but not strange enough to distract him. He felt Tom‘s erection sandwiched between their bodies;

Tom was so hard, already, and he was thrusting his hips upwards, generating friction.

Chakotay was up to two fingers, which was enough for Tom by now. Chakotay had just enough sense left to wonder about lubricant when Tom turned over, blindly reaching under the bed, and came up with a tube. He handed it over, no humor in his eyes at all, just a desperate longing that set the blood pounding in Chakotay‘s ears.

Gods, he wanted this man. Now. Always. All the time. So beautiful, so special, and finally, his alone. He closed the lubricant and tossed it away, gripping Tom‘s legs with still greasy hands, and slid inside. So good ... he wanted to moan but he didn‘t want to disturb the strange silence in the room, so he bit his lip and held the cry back as he thrust slowly in and out. No words, no cries, no sounds at all. Just two bodies, moving together, merging into one. Tom‘s eyes were open and full of wonder as he relaxed his muscles, silently urging Chakotay deeper, and deeper still. Tom gripped his back fiercely, hard enough to bruise, and now the younger man was gasping, though still not speaking. It was disconcerting; Tom was usually so vocal, this wordless loving was something new and altogether overwhelming.

Chakotay felt all thought slipping away. He couldn‘t speak, couldn‘t think, could only move within Tom, harder and faster, as if pure speed and force could overcome physical boundaries and fuse them together. Tom‘s eyes were wild. He was close, so close;

Chakotay could sense the chaos growing in him, and he reached down to grip Tom‘s erection, stroke it firmly. A shudder ran through Tom‘s body, his muscles clenched around Chakotay‘s cock, and his fingers dug harder into Chakotay‘s back, his nails scratching the skin. Tom was straining now, though still silent, thrusting into Chakotay‘s hand and taking Chakotay‘s cock farther into himself at the same time. He finally spoke, two words, in a voice so soft it was barely louder than the pounding of Chakotay‘s heart. "Love you," Tom whispered, and by the time the words had penetrated the cloud in Chakotay‘s head, Tom had closed his eyes and thrown his head back. A short ecstatic cry escaped from between clenched teeth as his orgasm overtook him and sent wracking tremors through his body. A heartbeat later, Chakotay was coming too, deep inside his lover‘s body, and he allowed himself to cry out Tom‘s name.

Neither of them wanted to break the spell of silence that had fallen over the room, but Chakotay was more comfortable with quiet than Tom, and after a few minutes, Tom shifted position on the floor, wrapped his arms and legs around Chakotay and asked, reverently, "What was that?"

"Love," Chakotay answered simply.

"I was afraid you were going to say that," Tom said. "Shit. My three months aren‘t even up yet."

"Damn close," Chakotay said, smiling a little.

"Shit," Tom repeated. "Are you sure about this?"

"I‘m sure. You said it."

"We were fucking. You can‘t take anything I say during sex too seriously."

The offhand comment disturbed Chakotay more than a little bit, and he lifted his head to look into Tom‘s eyes. "You meant it, Tom. We both know that." He saw a flash of denial rise in Tom‘s eyes, but it vanished almost instantly, to be replaced by acceptance, and then the same look of fear he‘d seen earlier. "You‘re so afraid," Chakotay said softly. "Why?" "I don‘t know," Tom answered, honestly. "I wish I could explain it to you. All I know is that I‘ve been telling myself for weeks that this thing between us wasn‘t love, it couldn‘t be love, and now I think I might have been wrong—and I‘m terrified." Chakotay settled back down, resting his head on Tom‘s chest. "It‘s not supposed to scare you. It‘s supposed to feel you with joy and peace."

Tom snorted. "You‘re getting spiritual on me, Teddy. You know I hate that."

"First off, don‘t call me Teddy," Chakotay said, poking Tom in the side. "Secondly, it would do you good to get spiritual every once in a while."

"Uh huh," Tom said skeptically. "My family‘s religion was Starfleet. Our church was the Academy, and our bible was the Prime Directive. That‘s as spiritual as I get, and it‘s plenty." "O.k.," Chakotay said, and chuckled. "Nice metaphor, by the way."

"Thanks." Tom was quiet for a few minutes, running his fingers through the short bristly hair at the back of Chakotay‘s head. "Can I ask you a favor?"


"I think I need a little time. To get used to this, that is. To us. I didn‘t expect this to happen, and I need some time ... it‘s hard enough, with the crew, and everything ... could you not push me on this? For a little while?"

Chakotay was silent, gathering his thoughts. "I won‘t push you.

But you have to know, Tom. I love you."

Tom‘s body tensed beneath him. "Please don‘t ... that‘s exactly what I mean. You look at me the way you do, then you say something like that, and I feel guilty if I don‘t say it back." "I‘m not trying to make you feel guilty." Chakotay shifted position on Tom‘s chest. "I‘m just saying how I feel. I‘m sorry it bothers you. I‘m not asking you to say the same thing in return." He paused. "Not yet, anyway. Eventually, I‘ll want to hear it." "I know." Tom was quiet for a long few minutes, holding Chakotay. "I hope ... I hope I‘ll be able to tell you. I just need some more time."

"Whatever you want, Tom." It was amazing, really, Chakotay reflected, that he‘d agree to do anything Tom wanted, without thinking twice. Starting with agreeing to this whole crazy arrangement in the first place. Sex without love ... the very concept was foreign to everything he‘d ever believed in. But he‘d done it, and not just because it was the only way to have any sort of a relationship with Tom; he‘d done it because Tom had asked him to, and it made Tom happy. And if Tom was happy, he was happy. It was as simple, and as complicated, as that. Chakotay grew very relaxed, and sleepy, lying in Tom‘s comforting embrace. His eyes had closed, and his mind was wandering. Tom‘s gentle tenor broke into his unfocused thoughts. "Teddy?"

That woke him up. "Stop calling me that."



"Well what?"

"What is it?"

"Oh. Yeah." Tom shifted uncomfortably beneath him. "My arm‘s falling asleep, and my back can‘t handle another night sleeping on the floor. Anyway, if you don‘t get up now, we‘re going to be permanently glued together."

Chakotay sighed. "You‘re such a romantic." He lifted himself reluctantly out of Tom‘s arms. "Let‘s take a shower." "Oh no. I‘m not letting you get in the shower with me. Last time I did that I ended up with a cracked skull." "That was your fault, Tom. You dropped the soap." He neglected to mention the wild sex that had preceded the slip. "Uh huh." Tom was laughing. "I‘m still not letting you in the shower with me."

"Tom. I‘m an old man." Tom opened his mouth to speak, and Chakotay clamped his hand over it. "Shut up. I‘m older than you, at any rate. I‘m totally exhausted, all I want to do is take a shower and go to sleep. I promise I‘ll keep my hands off you. O.k.?" Tom, still rendered silent by Chakotay‘s hand over his mouth, nodded his agreement. His eyes were twinkling. Much later, as they settled back into bed, Chakotay couldn‘t help but reflect that it wasn‘t his fault it hadn‘t been just a simple shower. He‘d been perfectly willing to merely wash. The fact that it had gotten a little more ... involved ... was entirely Tom‘s fault. Anyway, no one‘s head had gotten cracked open, so that was a definite improvement over the last time they‘d showered together. Tom cozied up next to him. "Good night, Teddy," he mumbled.

Chakotay sighed. "*Don‘t* call me that."

"Stop complaining, Big Man. You know you love it," Tom chuckled sleepily.

Damn it, Chakotay reflected, Tom was right again. Teddy. What a ridiculous nickname. Hell. He did love it. In the instant before he fell asleep, a tiny smile curved up the corner of his mouth.


The End, for now.

More to come, I suppose. This story has gotten way, way, way out of control!!!