Title: Time Slipping Slowly (No Comfort Series)
Part: 2/?
Author: CatHeights
Pairing: C/P
Rating: PG-13, angst
Summary: Tom reacts badly to Chakotayís attempts to get to know him better, bringing their relationship crashing down. In this A/U, Thirty Days never happened. Voyager never stopped on the Monean homeworld, instead they took a slightly different course. Also the events in Blood Fever never occurred.


Feedback: CatHeights@yahoo.com
Archive: Cha_Club, ATPS, Paris Nights, anyone else please ask first.


Disclaimer: Paramount owns all rights to Star Trek Voyager, its characters, and the Voyager episodes referred to in this story. The story idea is mine, but I am doing this just for fun, no money to be made.

Time Slipping Slowly (Story 2 - No Comfort Series) Stepping into the shuttlebay, Chakotay wondered if Kathryn Janeway was one of the most sadistic captains he had ever known. How else could one explain her reasons for insisting that Chakotay and Tom take a shuttle to a nearby system to scan for dilithium? When Chakotay had argued that Harry or Seven might be a better choice, the Captain had coolly disagreed. Voyager was currently upgrading a few minor systems, and while that meant she could do without her pilot and first officer for a few hours, it meant that Seven, BíElanna and Harry were all needed on-hand. No, she had told him, he and Tom were the most logical choices at the moment. They should be prepared to leave within the hour. The trip would take three hours minimum, possibly even five. During the last week, Chakotay had barely been able to spend five minutes alone with Tom, let alone over three hours. Damn Kathryn for interfering. It wasnít affecting his work, so why couldnít she have just left it alone? Of course he knew the answer to that question. She felt that he and Tom needed to work things out. No matter what she heard or what he told her, she seemed to think it impossible that Tom had cheated on Chakotay. Even when he had told her that Tom had admitted it himself, she still had refused to believe it.

Chakotay figured he should take some comfort in the idea that he wasnít the only person Tom Paris had fooled. Kathryn just didnít seem to understand that this was not something that could be worked out by tossing the two of them together for a few hours. Chakotay had no intention of ever trusting Tom again. Why did Kathryn refuse to believe that Tom had betrayed him? Her little prodigy was far from perfect.

He took a deep breath to center himself. As he stepped inside, he thought that forcing them to take a shuttle was another manipulative trick on Kathrynís part. Tom had requested the use of the Delta Flyer, but Kathryn had said a shuttle would work fine. Besides, they had been using the Delta Flyer a lot recently, and Kathryn wanted BíElanna to give it a once over. Chakotay had almost grinned spitefully at the look on Tomís face when she had suggested that one. The Delta Flyer was Tomís baby. If there was something wrong, he would know, and if there were checks to be run, he wanted to be present. Tom had kept his silence, though, seeming to realize, as did Chakotay, that arguing with the Captain was pointless. He had to admit that he would have preferred to take the Delta Flyer also. In the Flyer, the pilot seat was isolated, but in a class two shuttle, he would be forced to sit right next to Tom. He definitely wasnít looking forward to being in such close quarters for several hours with his former lover.

As he stepped into the cockpit, mean, cold, and inhuman, were a few of the tamer things he called Kathryn. "Lieutenant," Chakotay said as he took his seat. Tom barely spared him a glance. "Commander, preflight checks are complete. Weíre ready to leave when you are." His tone was cold and official.

Well, Chakotay could play it that way too. Cold and official was better than having to deal with Tomís biting sarcasm. "Iím prepared to leave now. Letís proceed." "Paris to Voyager. Permission to take off." "Permission granted. Good luck, Mr. Paris," Janeway said. "Thank you, Captain," Tom said professionally as he laid in a course and piloted the shuttle away from Voyager. For the next hour and a half, neither man spoke a word. Chakotay was surprised both that Tom could remain silent for so long, and that he wasnít taking the opportunity to gloat. In the past week, every time he had seen Tom, the pilot had a smirk on his face. At each run in, Chakotay refused to meet Tomís eyes, knowing that they would be glinting with glee over having made a fool of him.

He glanced sideways and noticed Tomís calm and professional manner. Just another day on the job. He wanted to strangle the pilot or at least shake him until he admitted what the hell he had been thinking when they had started a relationship. He wanted to know where the man he had come to respect over the years had gone. Was it all an act? The friendship only a ploy to impress the Captain? It made no sense. All of a sudden the man he had thought of as the "real" Tom Paris had disappeared and was replaced by the arrogant young man he had recruited years ago.

He needed answers. Maybe then he could get Tom out of his mind. He didnít need to glance over at the pilot to see those blue eyes or that tousled blonde hair. Every feature was etched in his brain, coming to haunt him when his mind drifted or his eyes closed. It made him want to scream.

"Commander!"

Chakotay jumped slightly. Damn, he had let his mind slip. He hoped Tom hadnít noticed the glance in his direction. "Iím sorry Lieutenant. What did you say?" "I said weíre entering the solar system." Tom gave him a curious glance.

"Understood. Initiating scans," Chakotay said focusing on the control panel in front of him.

"Is something wrong, Commander?"

"As if you would care," Chakotay muttered and then silently cursed himself. He never should have given Tom an opening like that. A simple "no" would have sufficed. The hateful smirk appeared on Tomís face. "Why Commander, of course I care. Iím extremely caring." Chakotayís eyes blazed with anger as he turned to Tom. For the first time in days, he looked the man right in the eye. "Is that what you tell each of your lovers? That you are very caring. How many people on Voyager have you fed that line to? Make sure they know that caring means you share yourself with everyone!

Youíre not very selective, are you Paris?"

For one brief moment, Tomís face crumpled and his eyes reflected a level of anguish that Chakotay had never before witnessed. His breath caught, and he almost reached out a hand to Tom to beg him to explain what was going on, but before he could, the look on Tomís face disappeared, replaced by that careless smirk. "I havenít had any complaints. Well, except yours," Tom said looking at the flight controls. "Weíre approaching the first planet." "Scans are active," Chakotay automatically replied. His gaze briefly returned to Tom, who looked completely absorbed in piloting. Had he imagined that look in Tomís eyes? Maybe he just wanted to see something that wasnít there. No, he had seen it; there was no way he would ever imagine a look filled with that much pain.

For the hundredth time, he wondered how things had gone so wrong. He remembered the moment he had taken the chance and finally kissed Tom. When his lips had touched the younger manís, he had felt an instant connection as his kiss was eagerly received. When the kiss had ended and he had pulled back, he had been awed by the emotions that passed through Tomís eyesódesire, wonder, and an overwhelming happiness. The next few weeks had been wonderful. He had wanted Tom for so long, first denying his attraction and then fearing rejection, and suddenly Tom was his. It had all seemed so perfect.

He wanted to share everything with Tom, the good and the bad, and he wanted Tom to do the same with him. He wanted to solidify the connection that he felt whenever he gazed into the younger manís eyes. Eyes that he had loved to gaze at early in the morning when his new lover woke in his bed. He couldnít remember another time when he had been that happy, but then things began to go wrong.

He still couldnít understand what had happened. Tom snapped at him, avoided him, and canceled plans. When Chakotay had heard the rumor that Tom had cheated on him, he hadnít believed it. He was furious, though, that Tomís behavior had become so obvious to the entire crew. All he wanted was for his lover to tell him what was wrongójust an explanation. He figured that if he threw the rumor in Tomís face, he might get some clue as to what the real problem was. He knew he was being accusatory when he had confronted the younger man, but he couldnít help it, he was hurt.

Not for a moment did he expect Tom to admit to cheating on him. At the time, he had felt his entire body go numb. His heart had pounded painfully in his chest, and he swore he would stop breathing, but then the anger had flooded through him. He had been betrayed again. Only with a huge effort had he resisted the urge to hit Tom. Then, he had only wanted to inflict pain, but now he needed to know why.

That agonized look in the pilotís eyes made him want to try to talk to him, but the fear of once again being a fool in love kept his mouth shut. He had never made the best choices in lovers. Seskaís face briefly flitted across his mind. No, he wouldnít give Tom another opportunity to hurt him. Still, what if there was something he was missing? Some reasoning for Tomís behavior that might mean he could forgive him and start over. No, he was being ridiculous.

While they continued their scans of the solar system for dilithium, neither man spoke. The silence left Chakotay to his inner debate on what to do about Tom. Minutes slowly passed into an hour, and he found himself no closer to a decision and unable to stop himself from thinking about the situation. As he gazed out into space, Chakotay thought that time had never slipped by so slowly.

TBC