Disclaimer: see part 1
Written: 16 August 01
after a concept by Claudia and Fabie
This time, Tom entered her Ready Room from the corridor rather than the Bridge. He took a deep breath before he came close enough for the door's sensors. Despite everything that had happened in Chakotay's office this afternoon, he was apprehensive again. Why he couldn't really tell. She seemed to have forgiven him, a bit at least, had accepted the peach. He squared his shoulders.
Kathryn rose when he entered her sanctuary. She had, of course, known that it was him in front of her door. "Tom," she added as an afterthought. He nodded curtly at her, his lips tightly pressed together. He was obviously bracing himself for something.
She rounded her table and went up to meet him, pulled him briefly into her arms and hugged him. She laughed as he stood stock-still. "I guess it's the hormones, Tom." Kathryn made sure to put enough emphasis on his name. "I hope you understand that we have to do this here rather than in my quarters."
"I'm sorry," he offered. "For everything. But I want you to know that I'll be there for the two of you -- as much or as less as you want. Just don't do this without me." The outburst came suddenly. He wished he could tell her again, his hand cupping her head with his thumb stroking her forehead.
"No, Tom," she held up her hand. "It's me who's sorry. I never really asked you, and then I just let you drop in it and I jumped to conclusions. It was -- not very nice." She fixed her eyes on his, searching for nothing in particular. "And thank you for the peaches."
Tom sat stunned. That was it? Kathryn Janeway apologised to him? "Pleasure," he murmured. "May I? Is the baby all right?" He held out his hand, and Kathryn guided it to rest on the almost invisible swell of her belly. The warmth of his hand sent a jolt of pleasure through her, made the hairs in the nape of her neck stand on end. It had been too long since she'd last been touched by a lover. She held his hand firmly in place. "Last time I checked he or she was all right."
"What about you? Are you okay again?" He was referring to the cry in his arms.
Kathryn smiled a little embarrassed. "I guess so."
Tom allowed himself the luxury of looking at her closely, and he didn't care if she noticed. She must notice. She smiled softly at him. Kathryn Janeway had smiled a lot ever since he had come in here. It was a radiant smile, a smile that no one had ever seen before. It shone from deep within her, made her eyes sparkle brighter, and her skin was glowing, was not as pale as before. Even the freckles had become a tad darker, and suddenly the desire to kiss every single one of them rose within him. "You are beautiful, if I may say so."
A low, warm chuckle. "You may. Flatterer."
"No," Tom said. "I mean it." He withdrew his hand from the warmth of her belly. He knew he would leave behind coolness. But if she let him, he would replace it tenfold. Instead, he held her hand. "You're radiant. The crew will notice."
Kathryn sighed. "Just how much do you want to be with us?" She returned the grip of his hand, these long slender fingers around her much smaller hand. His skin was very much like hers, freckled and pale, not as smooth, though, with its tiny coarse hairs. She stroked the back of his hand with her thumb, then met his gaze.
"As much as you'll let me."
"There hasn't been much time for courtship. The crew will ..."
"They will be happy for you. You know, when they heard about Sam's baby, they were very happy for her."
"But I'm the captain."
Tom looked intently at her. "Yes, you are the captain."
Kathryn raised an eyebrow. "It's not that easy."
"Don't always make things more difficult than they are, Ca --"
"Kathryn. Please call me Kathryn."
"Don't make them more difficult than they are. Life's too beautiful for that. You've got a loving crew -- you should hear them ask about you at Sandrine's."
That was exactly what she had said. Courtship. What a romantic thing of her to say, very old-fashioned, too, but considering the traditional education she'd enjoyed it wasn't too odd.
Tom sat up in his bed. His mind was drowsy, but still clear enough to go through their conversation. You don't get courtship unless you're in love. What had she meant? That she wanted to have a relationship with him or that it was going to be hard to explain exactly how she had become pregnant? Certainly, she must have meant the latter. He laid back into his cushions.
But there had been the odd glance, the way she had touched him, stroked the back of his hand. She had been very ready to let him touch her. And the cry earlier -- she hadn't pushed him away like he had thought she would. Tom sat up again.
He wasn't going to get any rest that night. He reached for his combadge. This had to come to an end now. If he offered her his unconditional support he felt he had the right to know what exactly it was that she wanted of him. "Paris to Janeway."
The reply came instantaneously. He realised only then that he might have woken her. "Sorry, Kathryn, to disturb you this late."
"No, it's all right. I couldn't go to sleep anyway." The question of why he had called on her remained unspoken, suspended in the air.
"When you said there was no courtship, what exactly did you mean?" Tom had to be bold for this. If he waited until the next day it might be too late and he might never ask. Having to learn things the hard way was an experience he certainly didn't want to repeat.
She remained silent.
"Are you still there?"
"Yes, yes, I am."
"Look, Tom. It's late --"
"Kathryn --" If she didn't tell him now he would ...
"We haven't really spent time together, or rather, we don't look like lovers, do we?"
"We are very discreet. Admirals' brats."
A low chuckle.
"We don't look like lovers?" Tom repeated, his eyes fixed on the combadge in his palm. What was that all about?
"Tom, this isn't anything we should discuss over the comlink." She was right. It definitely wasn't.
"Meet me on Holodeck 3 in ten minutes. No need to change, just bring a robe."
"Trust me, Kathryn. You do trust me, don't you?"
The doors to the holodeck hummed open and Kathryn was glad she could escape the corridor, clad in her night-gown and matching robe only. It would be too embarrassing if the crew saw her like this. So she entered the holodeck without noticing what scenario Tom had picked. It was only after the doors closed behind her that she felt comfortable enough to take a look around.
She found herself in the midst of a moonlit piazza, facing the Victorian market hall of London's Covent Garden. All the lights were off, even in the piazza, and she was the only soul around. Usually, the piazza was bursting with life, tourists, street performers and shoppers mingled into one noisy, very cheerful crowd, even late at night. Now it was deserted, because Tom wanted it that way. She didn't mind.
"Take off your shoes." It was Tom's voice, but she couldn't tell where it came from. She slipped off her mules. The flagstones were still warm beneath her bare feet, and the stones felt soft and smooth, although she knew that they weren't soft at all. The moonlight washed everything in its cool, silvery light, turning bright colours into hues of blue, softening the sharp shapes of the steel and glass construction that made up the two roofs of the market hall.
"Where are you, Tom?" She was tired, even if she couldn't go to sleep. At least it wasn't cold, she was just about comfortable in her silken attire.
"I am right here." Suddenly, he was standing only a few metres away from her. His hair was dishevelled, and he was wearing pale blue boxers and a white T-shirt. No shoes. "Are you all right?" He closed the distance between them.
"Bone tired, but I can't go to sleep." She wrapped her arms around herself. "It's beautiful. It's just as I remember it." She looked up at the sky, then back at him. "It's nice when it's peaceful like this."
They merely stood and enjoyed the artificial night. It was absolutely quiet, not even the constant backdrop noise of a huge and bustling city like London was to be heard. Tom's eyes were fixed on the woman next to him. She was a small woman, and yet sometimes bigger than life. Her hair was plaited loosely, and he loved the way some strands escaped the thick plait and framed her face. She looked tired, but there was still her radiance. So very beautiful. His eyes dropped to her bare feet, which were large compared to her height.
Tom raised his hand and cupped her cheek, which was milky in the moonlight. Kathryn shuddered, turned her face towards him, but didn't say anything. She just looked at him expectantly. "We don't look like lovers?" He repeated his earlier question. "Why have you come here then, in the middle of the night, in your night-gown?"
The bell of St Paul's Church behind them struck half past three, which actually was ship's time. Kathryn covered his hand with hers. His touch was warm, and failed to invade her personal space. It felt so good, just like it had when he had touched her belly. When she made him remove his hand, his heart sank. It had been his only chance, he knew that, but he had had to take it unless he wanted to torment himself with what-could-have-beens.
Kathryn kept his hand in hers, squeezed it gently, as if to extract an answer from him. She couldn't blame him for asking her as bluntly as he did. It was the best way to make her realise, but only few knew about this, and those who knew hardly ever dared to ask. She sighed. This wasn't only about physical attraction any more. It was more, something deeper. She looked at his hand in hers, relaxed as it was it looked open to accept any decision of hers, and it showed that he absolutely trusted her. He didn't deem it right to influence her -- or maybe even necessary.
She lifted her eyes to meet his. They were sparkling, met hers, undaunted despite their frequent encounters with the glare. "I can't."
"Can't what?" Tom asked bravely, although his heart was sinking.
"I can't tell you that I love you."
Tom blinked. Then he smiled. "I love you, too, Kathryn."
She turned away from him, but he didn't let her go. He pulled her into his chest, wrapping his arms around her from behind. Then he held her, in the middle of a moonlit piazza in London that suggested you were in Tuscany.
Kathryn didn't cry, she didn't try to force back sobs. She just heaved a big sigh, then rested her head against Tom's shoulder. It felt so good to be in his arms. He didn't look the type to make you feel sheltered in his arms. Now, however, she felt as sheltered as she ever had. This was going to work out. She covered his hands on her belly with hers. He was just holding her, giving her the time she needed.
Everybody aboard Voyager sensed the change about the relationship between the captain and the helmsman, but only a handful of them could put their finger on it. With Tom involved, the rumour mill had to rely on different, less reliable sources. Wild stories circulated on padds, in the Mess Hall, and the ship's virtual communications network. They were reportedly more relaxed around each other, the edge and tension that had sent the sparks flying between them after their return from the Warp 10 flight were missing -- or rather, had changed.
The Doctor, Kes and Chakotay were the first to know that Tom Paris and Kathryn Janeway were going to get through this together, also on a romantic basis. Then they informed the rest of the senior staff, but suggested they don't just break the news yet. Tom and Kathryn had decided to announce her pregnancy only when it was impossible to hide it any longer.
Kathryn was standing in front of the mirror in her bedroom and turned to look at her changing body from different angles. She had already altered her uniform, but of course she found she looked pregnant, now that she was four months along. Earlier that day, in the Mess Hall, she had overheard a conversation of three of the junior crew. Now, Kathryn wasn't one to eavesdrop, but she couldn't resist, and the three women were unaware of her presence. While two of them found that their captain looked pregnant, the third wasn't really so sure. Kathryn almost blushed when the two told the other that the captain touched her stomach more often lately, something for which she wasn't known. Also, the soft swell of her stomach was obviously not as hardly perceptible any more. And the radiance. They, too, had noticed her constant smiling, and a glow about her.
"I'd be so happy for her," the dark-haired woman said.
"Yes," the oldest of the three nodded. "I love babies -- as long as others are having them." The three laughed.
The sceptic got up, picking up her tray. "I only believe it when it's announced." She, too, was smiling. "I'll catch you later."
The older woman padded the dark-haired's hand, and Kathryn could imagine the mischievous twinkle in her eyes when she said: "We'll find out. We will."
Of course, that were only three of her crew speaking, but hadn't Tom told her that the crew cared about her? Still, Kathryn wasn't so sure how they'd react upon learning of her pregnancy. A captain was not supposed to be pregnant. She'd make quite an impression on the Kazon and on the Vidiians with her huge belly. The thought of the dangers lurking out there in the Delta Quadrant sent more than icy shivers down her spine. It made her downright physically sick, now that she had to think of her child. She didn't even want to think about what the Kazon would do to her, finding her as vulnerable as she was now, or the Vidiians ...
"Stop it, Kathryn!" she admonished herself. She'd only drive herself mad, make herself panic. She stripped off her clothes and prepared a bath. When she went back into her bedroom, she caught the reflection of her naked body in the mirror. Kathryn stopped, looked herself up and down. And groaned. The signs of her condition were clearly showing, now that they weren't concealed by the thick fabric of her uniform.
The bell at her door chimed, making her jump. "Who is it?"
"It's me, Tom." With the gossip factory as industrious as it was, there was no point in not coming to each other's quarters.
"Oh," she blushed, and dashed for the bathroom to grab a towel. "Come in!" Tom had never seen her naked before. It had been three weeks that they'd met in the moonlit London piazza, but they hadn't taken their relationship farther than spending time together and sharing meals -- well, maybe except some cuddling here and there. She stepped into to the living area.
Tom was dressed in his civvies, and he was carrying a box. "Nice clothes," he quipped. Kathryn clutched the towel where she had secured the wrap above her breasts.
"What's in the box?" she asked, suddenly very conscious of the state of her undress.
"Oh, that's just a little something I made for the baby." Tom put the box on her desk. When he turned around, she was already next to him, curious of what he'd brought. "Am I interrupting something?" he asked, fixing his gaze on the freckles on her bare shoulder.
"I was just about to take a bath -- oh!" Then she dashed for the bathroom again. She had forgotten to turn the taps off. The tub was almost full to the brim, and she had to pull the plug.
"Are you all right?" Tom's voice was right behind her. She turned where she sat on the edge of the tub. "Yes, I just forgot to turn off the water."
"Hey, why don't I have a tub like this?" he exclaimed in mock-surprise.
"Care for some splashing around?" The question was out her mouth before she knew she was asking it.
"We'd make quite a mess of your bathroom," he replied, holding her gaze.
"We?" Kathryn's eyebrow could rise even more gracefully than Tuvok's.
Tom blushed. How did she manage to make him speechless time and again? "Well, weren't you ..."
"I wanted to relax a bit."
Tom squatted in front of her, putting his hands on her knees to keep his balance. "I could help you ... to relax ... in the tub."
"Tom, I --" Kathryn held up her hand, then let it drop into her lap. She couldn't really remember what she was about to say. They were expecting their first child and hadn't even had sex yet -- in way, that is. "I'd love that." She smiled at him.
Tom stood, silently, and started to strip off his clothes. He could see the desire darken Kathryn's eyes as he revealed more and more of his body. By the time he was naked, he was quite aroused himself.
"You're beautiful," Kathryn managed to say as her eyes travelled his body from head to toe. He was lean, well-muscled; his skin was just as fair as hers, and peppered with light freckles. Then she rose and let the towel drop into a puddle around her feet; she didn't want to embarrass him.
"And you're too marvellous for words," he replied. His eyes were resting on the soft swell of her stomach, and he smiled. "It's beginning to show."
Kathryn took his hand and made him cover her bare belly. Her skin tingled pleasantly at this first intimate touch. Then she stepped into his arms and kissed him. It was tender at first, probing, as first kisses usually were. His lips felt good on hers, soft and firm. They separated for a second to look into each other's eyes, and Kathryn cupped his cheek. He pulled her even closer, and his shaft was throbbing against her stomach where it began to slope down to the edge of her ribs. Their lips met again, and this time their tongues joined, exploring the other's mouth curiously, loving. Tom's hands were so good on her back, gently massaging her, both to make her loosen up and to distract himself.
Eventually, they settled in the tub, with Kathryn nestled between his legs and into his chest. The hair on his chest felt good on her back, a sensation she only now realised she'd been missing.
"Oh, this is so good," she sighed, resting her head on his shoulder. His arms came around her, and Tom just held her for a couple of minutes, which he used to kiss the top of her head and forehead and temple. But he knew that if any of them moved he wouldn't be able to hold back much longer.
"Hm?" His fingers were drawing lazy patterns on her wet skin.
"I can do it now."
His eyes flew open, startled. "Can do what?"
"Tell you that I love you." She shifted slightly so she could look him in the eyes. "I love you, Tom." She had become more and more comfortable in his presence, sought it even and felt not quite herself when he wasn't around.
Tom closed his eyes again, he didn't want her to see the brightness welling up in them.
"Tom?" Again, she was cupping his cheek.
"I haven't heard this in a while," he said softly, trusting himself to open his eyes. "I love you, too." Yet again, they kissed, the passion rising between them. "Now let me help. Please." He made her lie back against him again, then he took the sponge sitting on the edge of the tub and ran it over her skin. He didn't touch her, he just wanted her to relax, to trust him. "Talk to me if you don't like anything."
A purr had to do as a reply.
Tom moved the sponge over her skin, exploring every bit of her body with it. He held her arms and marvelled at the daintiness of her hands, the long fingers, whispered for her to lift her legs, first left, than right, and ran the sponge along them as far as he could. He washed her breasts, and her midriff, then the gentle bulge in her stomach, and then ventured lower. Kathryn had remained still until then, but when his fingers accidentally brushed her curls, she all but gasped for breath.
"Tom, that's enough," she murmured. "Leave the sponge be." She took it from him and let it fall outside the tub.
Again, Tom travelled every path the sponge had taken before, but now he delighted in touching her, feeling her softness and warmth. Kathryn wasn't so silent anymore now, and her sighs and shivers and purrs had him lengthen the pleasure.
"You kidding?" she replied lamely.
Tom grinned, but only to gather courage. He moved his fingers to the delta between her legs, and Kathryn went rigid in his arms. "Oh," she moaned. Tom hadn't realised she was so close already. "Want me to take you over the edge?"
"Yes," she murmured. "Please." Her fingers wove into his where they were resting on the edge of her ribs.
"Guide me." His lips were very close to her ear, and she shuddered as his breath brushed over her sensitive skin. So she took his other hand, and together they touched her. Her fingers showed him what to do, and while he caressed her most sensitive spot, Kathryn dipped two of her fingers inside herself. Suddenly, Kathryn tensed and arched herself away from his arms, and as she bent her head back a cry tore from her lips, a husky, prolonged sound. Tom stopped his caresses to hold her, touch her face. "You're so beautiful, Kathryn. Let it out, come on, let yourself go," he whispered. He didn't know how long it was until she collapsed into his chest, and he kissed and hugged and stroked her until she had calmed down.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," she replied drowsily.
"See, I told you I'd help you relax."
Kathryn smiled. "It was wonderful, honey. Thank you."
She kissed him, and as she felt the shudder going through him at her endearment, it almost broke her heart.
continued in part 4