by Catherine Collingwood Hardee
Last Chance Note: This story is rated NC-17 for a graphic depiction of consensual m/f sex between two adults. It's not meant for children. IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18, PLEASE GO BACK NOW. Parents, please monitor your children's Internet activities.
Disclaimer: All things Voyager belong to Paramount. This is just for fun; I'm not making any money from it. If you don't believe me, just check my bank account.
Historical Note: Set early in the second season, sometime around "Tattoo" and "Cold Fire." Some weeks prior to "Resistance" and at least two months prior to "Threshold."
"Mr. Paris, put her down now!"
Tom didn't have any objection to the order. In fact, it was probably the most sensible instruction he'd received since this mess had begun.
"What's the hold-up, Tom?"
He didn't turn to face his questioner. "Wouldn't make much sense to land in the middle of one of these folks' outposts. I'm looking for somewhere to hide."
Kathryn Janeway immediately spun her chair around to access the controls next to him. "Good idea. You fly, I'll scan."
"What about weapons?"
"They're gone anyway. And we're losing shields -- here. Change your heading to one-eighteen mark eighty-five. There's something in that asteroid--"
He put the shuttle into a steep dive. "Big enough for a shuttlecraft?"
"It'll have to be." And despite it all, a fierce smile appeared on her face. "Unless you think your piloting skills aren't up to the task."
"After being shot at for three hours? Best offer I've heard all day."
That actually brought a short laugh from her, but a tense silence settled in the cabin as Tom skimmed the small shuttlecraft over the surface of the asteroid and into a small cave. There wasn't enough room to turn the craft around; when they left he'd have to back it out. But they were out of sight, and -- hopefully -- out of mind.
Tom killed the last of the maneuvering thrusters and cut power to a minimum in order to hide their presence from sensor scans. The cabin lights dimmed, casting them into shadows that made the console lights seem all the brighter.
Kathryn leaned back and momentarily closed her eyes, letting her breath out in a long sigh. "How long until Voyager gets back?"
He checked a chrono. "Seventeen hours."
"What's our status?"
"Weapons are depleted. Shields at--" he peered at a monitor. "Forty-seven percent. Life support is minimal but on-line. We've still got impulse and thrusters, but that first hit knocked out the warp drive. Some of the other systems are damaged, but nothing that can't be repaired."
She was back on her feet. "I'm not just going to sit and hide for seventeen hours. What's wrong with the warp drive?"
"We cracked a dilithium crystal. We can't repair that until we're back on Voyager."
She slammed a repair kit closed with more than the necessary force. "Damn. What are the chances that the Nesenoib will find us before Voyager gets back?"
"I'm not Tuvok, but I'd say the possibility isn't that high. They're too busy worrying about the Cepellians to think about us. Don't we have an agreement with them, anyway?"
"For what it's worth." Kathryn pulled a piece of plating from the wall, exposing the circuitry underneath. "But as paranoid as the Nesenoib are, I wouldn't be surprised if they decided we'd been working for the Cepellians all along."
"Trusting people," he muttered, coming to kneel beside her. "What are you doing?"
"If we're going to be sitting ducks, I'd rather we be shielded sitting ducks. Hand me that plasma torch, and see what you can do about the weapons systems. I'm sure there's plenty to keep us busy for seventeen hours."
*** *** *** *** ***
There was no warning, no chance to brace themselves. One minute, Tom was straightening up, stretching his back after two hours spent hunched over a plasma converter. The next, he was thrown violently against the far wall of the shuttle, a loud boom reverberating through his skull.
"What was that?" yelled Kathryn from farther back.
He slid into the pilot's chair, checking readings. "Percussive flare, about three kilometers away. By its signature, it's Cepellian."
She appeared between the seats, holding the backs for support. "Have they found us?"
"I don't know. They could just be dropping flares to see what they find."
"What's our sensor status?"
"We're in gray mode, minimal energy signature with the shields set to scatter. Active sensors are off-line. Should I restore them?"
She dropped into the co-pilot's seat, and Tom noticed a nasty-looking bruise on her forehead. "Not yet. Let's see if they get closer."
Tense minutes passed. The shuttlecraft was rocked by flares at least six more times, but they didn't come any closer than a kilometer.
After a while, Kathryn said, "Ten minutes. That's the longest interval yet with no fire."
"You think they've given up?"
"Either that, or something else has their attention." She slid to the front of the seat, as if to stand up. "That's what I hate about hiding and waiting. Hours of boredom mixed with minutes of sheer terror, and never knowing what the other side's up to. How long has it been?"
He checked the chrono twice to be sure it was right. It seemed like it had been forever. "Only an hour."
"Plenty of time left, then. I'm going to get a cup of coffee before getting back to the repairs. Do you want one?"
"Thank you, that would be--" Tom cut off as Kathryn stood up, took a step, and with a grimace, fell between the seats. "Captain?"
"I'm all right," she insisted. "Just tripped."
He offered a hand so she could pull herself up. "There's nothing on the deck. What did you trip on?"
"I don't know." She pushed back to her feet and stepped onto her right leg. It buckled under her weight, but this time, since he was standing beside her, he was able to catch her before she fell.
Her face had gone white. "Captain, you didn't trip. You're hurt."
She blinked several times. "Turned my ankle when we were thrown around. It's nothing."
"Maybe we should take a look at it."
"It'll be fine." But her leg buckled again as soon as he released her. "All right. Help me to the bench and get the medical tricorder."
The scans were conclusive; he handed her the tricorder so she could see for herself. "It's a pretty bad sprain."
"Is there an osteogenic regenerator in that first-aid kit?"
"'fraid not," answered Tom, pulling a cloth bandage out instead. "I guess it's back to the old-fashioned way. Don't worry. We've only got fourteen hours until Voyager gets back and the doctor can fix it."
She sighed. "I guess I wait, after all."
Tom eased the boot and sock off, revealing skin that had already turned an ugly purple-black color. He quickly wrapped the bandage around her ankle and then used the ends to secure an ice pack directly over the injured area. Though he tried to be gentle, she was still gasping with pain by the time he finished. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's all right," she said. "You actually have a very gentle touch, Tom."
"Comes from flying," he answered. "Most ships are like women: if you're gentle, they'll respond better instead of fighting you for every little bit of--" he broke off, realizing what he was saying, and flushed. "Oh. I guess that was out of line. Thank you."
She actually chuckled. "You remind me of someone I knew a long time ago."
"Actually, when I met him, he was working as an engineering liaison," she answered. "But he loved to fly as much as you do. He'd grown up in a rough colony and wasn't used to all the social niceties. It took me a while to get used to him."
"I take it you did, though?"
She smiled, remembering. "Oh, yes. I certainly did."
"Where is he now?"
"He died flying." She abruptly shook off the memory. "Hand me that EPS relay I was rebuilding. I can still finish that from here. And get me a cup of coffee while you're at it."
*** *** *** *** ***
Several hours later, all the repairs that could be completed were done. The Cepellians hadn't returned to the area. Tom was back in the pilot's chair, drowsing, but wanting to watch the sensors, just in case they did.
Kathryn, to his mild suprise, had rolled her jacket into a pillow and fallen asleep on the bench. He'd been concerned at first -- it wasn't like her to rest without being forced -- but a quiet scan with the medical tricorder had shown no signs of concussion, so he'd decided to let her sleep.
He wondered who that other pilot was. From the look on her face, there was plenty more to that story. They had clearly been more than acquaintances, but what? Friends? Crewmates? Partners?
Had she been remembering a comment made in a more intimate setting? Perhaps a response to a compliment about another sort of technique, equally gentle?
Tom firmly tried to shut down that train of thought. It just wasn't...appropriate...to think about his captain that way. Even if the figure revealed when she took her jacket off proved she was definitely a woman, and an attractive one at that.
Sitting up abruptly, he began a sensor diagnostic in an effort toward distraction. The diagnostic took even the passive sensors down, though, so once again, there was absolutely no warning before the first blast knocked him out of the chair.
Kathryn had somehow managed to maintain her perch. She was sitting up, startled and wide-eyed, calling a name he didn't recognize. He started to crawl toward her. "Captain? Are you all right?"
She didn't hear him. "Don't, don't, don't. We're going to go down!"
Tom managed to get to the bench and crawled up on the end. "Captain! It's just the Cepellians, they're trawling again."
"We're hitting atmosphere!" she yelled. "Justin! Daddy!"
He unfolded her jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. "Captain!"
At that, Kathryn seemed to snap out of whatever she was experiencing. She turned toward him. "What--"
Another blast shook the shuttlecraft, sending them both tumbling. In an instinctive move, Tom rolled her body over his, holding her away from the deck, trying to protect her from injury. They ended up on the floor with his back against the other bench, arms and legs tangled together. "Are you all right?"
She nodded, and he abruptly realized just how close their faces were. "The Cepellians?"
"I think so. I don't know. Sensors were off-line; I was running a diagnostic."
"A diagnostic? At a time like this?"
"I'll get them back on-line." He pushed her away, intending to stand up, but another blast tossed her against him again. She clung to him for a moment, during which one of his arms wrapped itself around her waist and the other went up behind her head, steadying her against his shoulder.
His lips brushed against her hair even as he felt the unmistakable touch of hers against his neck. Every nerve in his body seemed to fire at once, but he forced himself to ignore the sensation and push her away again. "That one was further away. Let me--"
And then he saw her face, and the words died before they were spoken.
Kathryn was scared. Unmistakably and undeniably. He knew she felt fear -- she'd admitted as much to the crew on earlier missions -- but he'd never seen it show so plainly on her face before. She'd always thrown a mask up, but here, in these too-close quarters, that was impossible. Her face was pale and her eyes were wide with fright, showing a vulnerability that he'd never guessed lay underneath that mask.
Another blast sounded, farther away than before. "Did you hear that? They're still getting farther away."
She nodded, visibly trying to compose herself, but her voice shook. "Yes."
"Hey." He reached for her again, even though he was still shaken from their earlier touch. "It's all right to be afraid."
"Of course it is. And I don't need--"
Before he could think, before he even understood the confused impulse, he tangled his hands into her hair and kissed her. It was gentle, meant to reassure and comfort, and she responded, parting her lips and kissing him back. His whole body seemed to ignite even as sudden realization hit him. Gasping, Tom broke away.
"--comforting," finished Kathryn, an equally startled look on her face. "Oh..."
"I'm sorry," he managed, pulling his hands from her hair. "I'll get on the sensors--"
She grasped the edge of his jacket, at the collar, where it was partially open. "Tom. Wait."
"I don't think--"
And then she leaned up and kissed him. This time, it wasn't gentle. All of the pent-up fear and uncertainty of the past few hours seemed to release at once, and she willingly met his tongue with hers, rubbing them together, eliciting a low moan from him. He cradled her face with his hands, hungrily returning the kiss. Her own hands slid up to unzip the jacket completely, and she pushed it off his shoulders, splaying her fingers against the muscle beneath his turtleneck.
He released her long enough to push the jacket completely off his arms, tracing his lips down her neck and then bringing his hands back to her waist and skimming them up to cup her breasts. With his thumbs, he teased the nipples and they responded, straining against the fabric of her turtleneck. She inhaled sharply, and his lips returned to hers.
"God," he whispered. "Oh, God, you feel so good."
Somehow their turtlenecks came off and he found himself unhooking her bra, sliding his hands over her bare skin and then following with his tongue, nibbling, sucking, tasting. She gasped at the feel of skin on skin. Tom kissed her again, rocking his hips against hers, letting her feel his erection through their remaining clothing.
"Are you sure you want this?" he asked, rasping. "I can still stop."
She looked him in the eyes. "Quit asking questions."
"I don't know how much more--"
She slipped her hands underneath his pants, cupping him gently, curling her fingers around his shaft and using her wrists to ease the waistband over his hips. His kisses became wilder, less controlled, and his hands roamed her body, not content to stop at any one place. Wanting rid of the last barrier of clothing, he slid a hand under her waistband, teasing her bud with two fingers but unable to go any further. She tried to lift her hips, to help, but his hiss of frustration and annoyance indicated it wasn't working.
Taking the initiative, Kathryn pushed Tom onto his back and rolled on top of him, kicking her pants all the way off. He pulled her down into a long kiss, reaching up to loosen her hair from its bun. It fell around them, a fragrant, auburn-colored tent. His hands slid to her hips, but she caught them by the wrists, gently guiding them away while she slowly lowered herself on to him.
He thought he might explode, but in the next moment understood why she moved so slowly. It had apparently been a while and he could feel her interior muscles stretching, responding to accommodate him, fitting him so tightly the sensation was almost painful. It took every bit of willpower he had not to respond right away. His hands returned to her face, stroking the skin, trying to ease away the discomfort there.
Just when he thought he couldn't last any longer, she rocked her hips against his. And in the next moment he was lost, moving one hand to the small of her back and tangling the other into her hair again. He leaned up to kiss the hollow of her neck and traced the line of her collarbone with his lips, moving against her, finding a rhythm.
Her gasps became soft, wordless sounds of pleasure, and then sharp cries. He could feel her interior muscles clenching and releasing, creating an urgent, exquisite pleasure. His ragged breathing became hoarse groans even while she reached her own peak and shuddered against him as they climaxed together, oblivious to the blasts outside which had long since ceased.
They shared another long kiss which became gentler, more tender as the sensations faded. Tom drew her down and cradled her face against his shoulder, stroking her hair. She curled against him, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Oh, my," whispered Kathryn. "My God. What was that?"
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "It just...seemed to happen."
They lay together in the darkness for some time, until he felt what seemed like a shiver. "Do you want your jacket?"
She moved to stop him. "You know what will happen when we put those uniforms back on, don't you?"
He sighed. "Yes."
"Do you really want to do that right away?"
Tom closed his eyes and let her push him back to the deck. He wrapped his arms around her, luxuriating in the feel of her hair. "No. Not yet."
*** *** *** *** ***
"Voyager to shuttle Cochrane. Do you read?"
It was amazing, thought Tom, how quickly people could scramble into their clothing when properly motivated. He landed in the pilot's seat in time to answer the second hail.
"We're here, Chakotay. It's good to hear your voice."
"Are you all right?"
"We were caught in the middle of someone else's fight and had to put down and hide when the warp drive got knocked out. The captain's hurt. Are you in range?"
"Yes, and there don't seem to be any hostiles in the area. Do you need an emergency beam-out?"
"We'll make it a little longer," answered Kathryn, limping into the co-pilot's seat, her hair back in a neat bun. Relief was evident in her voice. "Thank God you're here. It hasn't been a very pleasant wait."
Tom glanced sideways, raising an eyebrow. But he kept quiet as she continued, "Commander, prepare to open the shuttlebay doors. We're on our way home."
"Aye-aye, Captain," said Chakotay, signing off.
Kathryn double-checked the commlink, making sure it was off, before levelly returning Tom's stare. "Is there a problem, Mr. Paris?"
She broke eye contact and limped back to the bench. "My ankle is swollen. I can't get the boot back on."
"Leave it. I'm sure no one will suspect anything, especially after that last comment." It was only after the words came out that he realized how clipped and insubordinate they sounded.
And she reacted, snapping her head back around to face him. "Just what did you expect me to say?"
He fired the shuttle's engines. "I don't know. Certainly not that."
"Surely you didn't think I would--"
"Of course not!" Turning to face her, he forced himself to focus on the pips at her collar, trying desperately to react to her as his captain, the way he was supposed to. "But nothing that terrible happened--"
"Yes it did," she snapped. "If we were in the Alpha Quadrant, we'd both be court-martialed for that kind of a lapse in judgment...God, I can't believe I did that..." Uncharacteristically, she buried her face in her hands.
"If we were in the Alpha Quadrant, nothing ever would have happened in the first place, and you know it." He put the engines on standby and moved back to sit beside her. "Stop beating yourself over the head. We were trapped and you were hurt. You felt out of control and you were scared--"
"And so were you."
"Yeah," he admitted with a sigh. "So was I."
She looked up. "All right. Truce?"
He nodded and moved back to the pilot's seat. "For what it's worth, I enjoyed it. I'm just sorry you didn't."
Startled, he turned to look at her again.
"But don't let it go to your head."
He smiled and started backing the shuttle out of the cave. "No, ma'am."
Suddenly, it wasn't so hard to slip back into the command structure. But when she limped forward to sit beside him, he couldn't help but notice the profile of her figure underneath the uniform. And he knew he'd never look at her in quite the same way again.