Have You No Decency?
 By Judy

Summary: An AU 30 Days ending in which Janeway uses corporal punishment for misdeeds. After Tom stole the Delta Flyer in an attempt to save the Monean water world he is beamed back to face his punishment. Someone stands up to her and stops his punishment.

Disclaimer: They're Paramount's, damn it. Story's mine. Copyright, 1999. Public or private feedback is welcome. Inspired by
Cathy's words about Margaret's story. But the nasty stuff comes out of my own strange mind. 

Warning: This is nasty discipline and I don't know what all else. If violence turns you off, you might want to pass on this one. If
you really like Janeway, you may not like seeing her this way. But it borrows from the Janeway of Scientific Method, Living
Witness, and 30 Days. There's adult language and situations. No explicit sex.

A one hour CPSG anniversary challenge since given feedback by Britta and others from CPSG. Thanks to you all. It grew to a
longer story. 

Archive/Post: CPSG; ASCEM/ASC; BLTS; R'rain's; Belynda's Allslash; others please ask.

7/15/99; 7/25/99


Tom Paris lay on the biobed sick with dread, with shame, with despair, that he was about to be on the receiving end of "Flog
'em" Janeway's wrath. He'd done some pretty stupid things since he'd arrived in the Delta Quadrant. Let's see, he'd flirted with
a married alien woman and been accused of murder. That earned him a reprimand and a public paddling. What was it? Ten
swats to his bent-over-the-helm ass, a covered ass at least. 

And what else? Oh, yeah, all that crap she and Tuvok had had him dish out to Chakotay. But his swinging on the First Officer
couldn't be tolerated, not if she didn't want his cover blown. Private ass paddling in the ready room, Tuvok and Chakotay
watching the paddle swing down twenty-five times on his briefs-covered ass. Geez, he remembered these as if it were only
yesterday. It'd been how many years?

And then the juvenile, hormonally-fueled trysts with B'Elanna while they were on duty. Another ten whacks from Janeway's
now well-worn paddle. They had both gotten it on the bridge at her regular Friday afternoon infractions call. Shit. 

But what would she do to him this time? He could hardly fathom it. Seven had gotten a belt taken to her brown-clad rump
when she disobeyed "Iron-handed" Janeway over the alien array. Who hadn't earned the woman's wrath and suffered the

The doctor's voice telling him he could sit up now brought him out of his ship-of-horrors memories. It was possible that there
was both compassion and concern in the doctor's usually arrogant demeanor. So, even the doctor knew Tom was in for it this

Tom looked up from his focused gaze on the floor patterns when the sickbay doors swished open. His heart lurched, his fists
closed around the biobed blanket. It was going to be fucking bad. He just knew it.

"Mr. Paris."

To his surprise it was not his captain's gravel-bruised voice; instead it was the First Officer. Maybe there was hope after all?
Could it be that she didn't want to punish him? He had to shake himself from this fantasy when Chakotay called his name again.

Subdued, Tom acknowledged, "Yes, sir."

"Come with me to the Captain's ready room."

Oh, gods, she didn't trust him to get there on his own. Briefly, Tom flicked his eyes around the familiar sickbay. Wasn't there
any escape? Fuck. Chakotay was looking at him, his face impassive, not giving away anything. When Tom tried to ask a
question, his voice squeaked. "What's ... what's going to happen?"

For a moment it seemed as if Chakotay's mask slipped and he looked genuinely regretful. "I'm sorry."

Those two words said nothing and everything. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Oh, gods, she was going to give it to him. If he hadn't been
able to forget his other discipline sessions with the captain, what would this one do his psyche? Hell, forget his psyche. His
body. Fearfully, he darted a glance at the doctor. 

"I'll be here if you need me," the hologram said in a kindly voice.

Chakotay's hand reached for Tom, but Tom turned away. "I can get down myself."

Yeah, right. His legs nearly buckled under him when he stood up and this time he didn't shrug off Chakotay's offered help.


The ready room doors swished open and Tom tried to recapture the ramrod posture, the gaze over the shoulder, the moral
sureness of his actions with the Delta Flyer. He had lifted his chin, let his jaw jut forward with disciplined pride, but none of that
prepared him for the unvarnished, hateful fury in his captain's face. This was really going to be bad. Chakotay's hand on his
elbow steadied him. 

Janeway chewed the inside of her mouth, seemed as if she might spit at him. When she spoke, her voice held the cold anger of
a hammer left out in the snow. As Tom trembled before her, trying valiantly to hold his rigid parade-ground posture, she
narrowed her eyes to feline slits. She only took one step toward him to be within touching distance. 

Tom tried to keep his eyes focused on the ready room's wall decorations behind her. But that didn't help, not when the wall
adornments included a paddle, a whip, a belt, a switch, a rod, a cane, a leather-covered crop, oh gods, this was going to be

He almost lost it when she ripped the two pips from his collar. "You are now a crewman with no rank and no privileges."

"Yes, ma'am," he answered hoping he sounded militarily precise, but the crack in his voice belied his fear.

He sensed, but didn't see, Chakotay still at his side, but now at some distance as if the man feared losing his own pips just by
being in Tom's proximity.

"You will spend thirty days in solitary confinement in the brig," she rasped out, adding up the tally that constituted the magnitude
of his crimes. 

"Yes, ma'am," his voice clearly faltered now. He was claustrophobic. The brig was small, very small. No windows, closed in,
solitary, no privacy, it was going to be fucking hard. Maybe impossible. He swallowed. She knew about his claustrophobia,
probably knew the pips didn't mean as much to him as the crushing fear of tight spaces. 

Was she finished? She had turned around and taken a few steps to the window. He dared to glance at her back, lowering his
head to watch her. She was tense, rigid, self-righteously taller. What was she going to do to him? Really do to him?

As if she sensed his unspoken question, she whirled back to face him, hands on her hips, chin up, eyes flaming like a falling star.
"Your final punishment will be this: you will be taken to the bridge, stripped, turned over the helm and flogged. Not only will I
beat you, but so will Tuvok, Chakotay, Kim, Torres, all of those you betrayed and hurt with your thoughtless, selfish, traitorous

Blood drained from his face, he could feel the lightheadedness, the unreality of the moment. She couldn't do that. All his proud
posture had been punctured in the moment her words sank in. Public humiliation, on the bridge, over his beloved helm.
Everyone who had a grievance against him able to take it out on his bare ass. 

"No," he whispered. No one had ever received a beating like that.

"No?" she taunted. "Did I hear you say 'no'? You will accept your punishment. And believe me, there will be no regenerator, no
holodoc, no healing salves to take away your pain. You will take it all the way to the brig, naked and beaten, with the whole
crew lining the corridors paving your way, seeing your punishment in full."

He fainted. 


When he came to, it was as she had said. Someone had removed all of his clothes, even his socks. Even his socks. Fuck no.
She was going to do this. He was bent over the highest portion of the helm, held in place with soft restraints on his wrists and
ankles. His ass felt as if it reached all the way back to Tuvok's station, the legs spread apart so far that he could barely balance
on the balls of his feet.

He was beyond shame, mortification, all those things he thought he could never take. This was a nightmare from the nether
regions of a fiery Hell. He heard the whistle of the whip as the sound seemed to take forever to complete its trajectory. Then
the crack on his ass, then the searing, blinding, lighting bolt of pain. 

He didn't even know who did this. Janeway always did her own punishing, but she'd said all the officers were going have a
crack, no not that word, stupid, they were going to have a turn. Yeah, that was a much better word. 

Out of the corner of his eye he realized it was Tuvok. He was expressionless, an officer just following orders, orders to flay a
helpless crew member. Oh, gods, here came the next blow. He tensed, he tried to throw his body out of the way, the restraints
held. No! 

Three more stunning blows completed Tuvok's turn. When he was finished, Janeway told him to tell Tom what that was for.

In a monotone, Tuvok parsed out the words, "That was for endangering the lives of the Moneans."

"Fine," Janeway announced. Her voice was flat, as if she was disappointed in Tuvok's answer?

The fire, the flames, the pain across his buttocks, the knowledge that everyone was watching, Tom's control broke, tears
flooded down his face.

"Harry, you're next. Tell him what it's for."

Harry dutifully picked up a long paddle and approached Tom's side. From the way he spoke, Tom could tell that Harry was
definitely not happy. But there was no defying Janeway in her "Beat 'em up" mode. "Um, Tom, this is for making me almost kill

Tom could tell that Harry was crying. Not only had Tom embarrassed himself, but he'd upset his best friend. They would never
be friends again. The paddle spoke for Harry, a light sting, but on his already painful butt, it hurt like hell. Unlike the whip, it
didn't take his breath away. Fuck it all, the paddle had to come down on him ten times, not the five of the whip. Nonetheless, it
was as if his whole backside had been plunged into an erupting volcano. 

Both of them cried through the whole thing, but mercifully Janeway didn't order Harry to put more force into it. And his turn

B'Elanna was up next. She selected the short leather-covered crop and positioned herself in the same spot Harry had just
occupied. At Janeway's prompting, her voice overlaid with sorrow, B'Elanna told Tom that this was for leaving him. He'd taken
the shuttle and could have disappeared forever in the Monean sea. Ten cracks of the crop rained down in such rapid
succession they almost sounded as if they were one long firecracker. They went everywhere, as wild as B'Elanna's grief.

When she finished, Tom hung in his bonds, his body one long tube of burning pain, his mind awash in the misery he'd caused his
friends, in the sickening humiliation of being punished like a miscreant in The Mutiny on the Bounty. Tears still flowed
unchecked and he whimpered, wounded, broken, until the mewling sounds turned to hiccups that shook his body. He wanted
to die, he wanted the bonds around his hands to be around his throat choking the life from his abused body.

Through the sobs, the hiccups, the pain and humiliation, Tom heard Janeway announce that it was Chakotay's turn. Geez, next
to last was a man who had never liked him. He must be drooling at this opportunity to batter his ass. 

"I expect you to give him what he deserves. I'm authorizing ten whacks with the cane." Her orders carried across the bridge
that was otherwise silent except for Tom's heartbroken cries.

The cane, the cane, it'd break the skin, it'd tear his flesh, he'd get his wish. He'd die, but from unimaginable abuse. Then he
heard something almost incomprehensible. It was the word, "No."

Holding his breath, holding back the sobs that wanted to wrack through him, Tom couldn't believe what he'd heard. The First
Officer defying the Captain? An almost hysterical giggle ran through him that he couldn't totally suppress.

Janeway's voice was a whip breaking into the silence. "You think this is funny, do you? You've just earned yourself another ..."
she paused as if thinking over the right number "... another 50. Another round by everyone. Except from Mr. Chakotay who
seems to have lost his manhood, along with his position as First Officer."

Gasps of shock, anger, guilt washed over the still tableau on the bridge. 

"No," Chakotay repeated more firmly. "This man is bleeding, he's pissed himself, and he's had enough."

"I'll decide when he's had enough," she grated out in anger and arrogance.

"Have you no decency? Have you no decency?" Unknowingly, Chakotay repeated the famous words that had undone a United
States Senator long ago. 

Shivering from shock, Tom couldn't figure out what was going on. Then he heard Tuvok say, "It's over, Captain. Mr. Chakotay
is correct. The man has had enough."

There was a rustle on both sides of Tom as B'Elanna and Harry came to his aid and released his bonds. Tom sank down and
would have fallen into the stinking liquid that slicked the carpet except for the strong arms of the first officer. 

Chakotay carefully lifted Tom, avoiding as best he could the beaten flesh of his buttocks. 

"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Janeway demanded.

"I'm ordering a site-to-site transfer to sickbay."

Tom's head lolled against Chakotay's shoulder, his body limp in the man's arms. He couldn't process the events unfolding
around him. It was too extraordinary. And his sobs began in earnest, cries of relief, confusion, and pain all jumbled together.

"Release him immediately." He heard her rage over the sound of his sobs. "I'm the captain here."

Tom heard Tuvok suck in his breath and tell her, "I'm sorry, Captain. I must inform you that I am relieving you of your
command. You are unfit for duty. Commander, I suggest you get that young man to sickbay. Now."

And Chakotay had done as he said he would. Cradling Tom's burning and shivering body in his arms, Chakotay commed the
computer, then stayed with Tom in sickbay while the holodoctor healed his torn body. As Tom realized later, the man had felt
more than moral outrage. It was the beginning of Chakotay's love for him and his for Chakotay. 

End Part 1

Part 2

Chakotay staggered a bit after the transporter beam released him in sickbay. He held a barely coherent and hurting Tom Paris
in his arms. With only a glance at the nakedness of the man in Chakotay's arms, the doctor helped the commander position
Paris on his stomach on the biobed. As the doctor waved the medical tricorder over Paris' body, his eyes narrowed and his
body language spoke of his disapproval of anyone being in his sickbay in this condition.

"What happened, Commander?"

Chakotay blinked and pulled his hand away from the back of Tom's head where he'd stroked sweat-matted hair in an effort to
calm the younger man. Surprising him, Tom's hand snaked out and grasped his wrist. Eyes that were still filled with tears
seemed to plead with Chakotay to keep some kind of physical contact with him. "It's all right, Tom, you'll be all right now."

He let his hand resume its light petting of Tom's damp hair. With difficulty he turned his eyes away from the easing of the
tortured expression on Tom's face and considered the doctor's question. He decided to keep his answers to a minimum.
Although Tuvok had backed him up on the bridge in stopping Paris' punishment, the future wasn't all that clear. "He was

"Like this?" the doctor asked incredulously. "Commander, I do not recall any Starfleet protocol that condones striking a crew
member on bare skin."

"There is no such protocol."

"I see." The doctor traded in his tricorder for a hypospray and a dermal regenerator. "Who did this?"

"I'd rather not get into that right now."

Tom raised himself on one elbow and directed an angry glare at the doctor. "It was Janeway. She told them to beat me. She
took all of my clothes and had them tie me up on the bridge."

The doctor exchanged a pained look with Chakotay. "Surely ...."

"Hey! I'm the one she had whipped and paddled and ..." Tom strangled on his tears and anger as the doctor pressed the
hypospray against his neck. "What'd you give me?"

"Something for the pain, which I'm sure is as great as the humiliation you have suffered."

The pain reliever kicked in and Tom lowered his head back onto the biobed. "Yeah. Right. Anytime you want to put a blanket
over me ...?"

In some sense Chakotay was relieved to hear the truculence and anger in Tom's voice. He'd almost been afraid the disaster on
the bridge would take Tom's spirit the way it'd taken his dignity. 

"I need to regenerate your skin first. It shouldn't take long." The doctor moved the regenerator across Tom's back, buttocks,
and thighs spending the greater amount of time on the bleeding and bruised skin of his backside. Finished, the doctor put aside
the regenerator and brought a blanket over to cover Tom's nakedness. "There. It'll be a few hours before it fully takes. There'll
be some itching and a little burning until then. I'll put on some creme to help the healing."

Pulling the blanket around his shoulders, Tom moved as if to get up.

"No," the doctor told him. "Not yet. A few hours and then you can return to your quarters."

Tom snorted.

Puzzled, the doctor silently quizzed Chakotay who answered, "The captain ordered him to thirty days in the brig."

"But ... he's claustrophobic," the doctor protested.

"I think she knew that." 

"On medical grounds, I can't permit him to ..."

"Doctor, right now let's just take one thing at a time. You want Tom to remain here for a few hours, right?"

"I said that."

Chakotay allowed a small smile. "Good. I'll return shortly." 

With the doctor off to replicate some medicinal creme, Chakotay leaned over Tom's drawn, pale face. He couldn't resist using
his forefinger to wipe away the tear tracks he could see. It was like seeing rust staining the perfection of marble, except that this
marble was soft and warm. "I'll be back soon. Rest and don't worry."

Drowsily, Tom murmured, "Easy for you to say."

With a final pat to the back of Tom's head, Chakotay headed to the exit. On the way, he paused by the doctor, "Don't let
anything happen to him. And could you clean up his face?"

The doctor straightened up and gave Chakotay a puzzled look. "I'll take care of him."


Chakotay found Tuvok in the conference room, the bridge temporarily given over to Ensign Kim. Because they had traveled
light years away from the Monean world, no one expected any trouble.


Tuvok turned from a deep contemplation of the warp field flying past the view ports. "Commander."

Sighing, Chakotay sat heavily in one of the chairs. "I suppose there are regulations we'll need to follow on all this."

"By 'this' I assume you mean relieving Captain Janeway of her command?"

"Yes. I know we did the right thing. Gods, what she was planning to do to Paris ...."

"Her behavior has been extremely erratic in the past six months."

"What do you think pushed her over the edge?"

Tuvok sat down opposite Chakotay. "I can only speculate that she took Mr. Paris' behavior personally. Her anger was that of
someone betrayed."

Chakotay jerked his head up at that statement. "Betrayed? But Tom was in a relationship with B'Elanna."

"Consider the history between the Captain and Mr. Paris. She brought him out of prison. She gave him a field commission of

"You wouldn't have?"

"Ensign perhaps would have been more appropriate. But I believe she wanted him to have something to live up to, some sense
that someone had faith in him. You remember how Mr. Paris acted when we came aboard Voyager?"

Chakotay remembered and recalled his own animosity toward the younger man. Tom had been surly, arrogant, defensive, and
those were the nice words that came to mind. "But the captain wanted him to do well, to have another chance."

"Was it not you who referred to him as her 'personal reclamation project'?"

Chakotay smiled as he revisited that scene with her. "She told you that?"

"Yes. And wondered if it was true. Then she took on Seven of Nine."

"But Tom was her first. And, I guess he did betray her. Her trust, at any rate. He certainly disobeyed her orders in a willful and
public manner."

"Yes, he did. There is no question that his actions were wrong and violated a number of Starfleet regulations. Those behaviors
fully warranted reasonable discipline."

"But not what she was dishing out."

"No. Not what she was ordering." Tuvok steepled his fingers and pressed the tips of the first fingers to his forehead. "We face a
number of decisions. There is the matter of the captain. I have had her confined to her quarters. The doctor must examine her
and provide a report on her fitness to serve. There is also the matter of whether we rescind or keep the captain's orders
regarding Mr. Paris."

Thinking of B'Elanna and Harry, Chakotay noted, "There are also a few officers who no doubt require counseling."

"No doubt." Tuvok removed his fingers from his forehead. "However, I am not one of them."

"You took a whip to his bare skin."

"I do not need to remind you that corporal punishment has a long tradition in Starfleet and great latitude is allowed to captains
on deep space missions. Had she not ordered more and more punishment for Mr. Paris, I would not have relieved her of her

"You were all right with what she initially ordered to be done to Tom?"

"All right? I am not sure what you mean by that. If you mean, is my conscience clear on the five strokes of the whip that I
administered? Yes, it is."

"In your experience, has any crew member ever been beaten on bare skin?"

Tuvok took a moment to reply. "Yes. I have observed such punishment on other ships on which I have served."

Curious, Chakotay asked, "What brought on that kind of beating?"

"Sabotage, assault, serious offenses committed on ships at a great distance from the nearest starbase." 

"I guess I left Starfleet too soon," Chakotay reflected drily. Referring to the incident on Voyager's bridge, he asked, "Then why
did you back me up?"

"The escalation of the punishment concerned me. I agreed with your decision to stop it when you did."

Chakotay mulled that over. "I'm grateful for your backing."

"Technically, you are in now in command of the ship."

"Temporary command of the ship. Perhaps the captain will be able to resume her duties ...?"

"Perhaps." From the tone of his voice, Chakotay doubted that Tuvok saw her being back in charge as a viable option. 

"I am at your disposal," Tuvok intoned.

Rubbing his face, feeling a huge let down now that the confrontation on the bridge had ended, Chakotay tried to order his tired
thoughts. "If the doctor's finished with Tom, I guess his evaluation of the captain is the next order of business."

"How is Mr. Paris?"

Chakotay closed his eyes, but the image of the younger man's battered body immediately came to mind. "The doctor fixed him
up. But I don't know ... how do you recover from something like that?"

"If you are Tom Paris, you close yourself off and pretend to others that nothing happened."

"And inside the pretense?"

"I suspect he will not allow himself to feel anything." 

"Spoken like an admiring Vulcan," Chakotay observed with a wry smile.

"In Vulcans such restraint is admirable, in humans it can be tragic." 

Those words lodged themselves into a self-repeating loop in Chakotay's mind. They would remind him that when Tom was at
his most closed off, he was also at his most vulnerable and most needy.

Rising to his feet, Chakotay summarized, "You'll accompany the doctor during his evaluation of the captain. I'll go talk to Harry
and B'Elanna. Then I'll check Tom Paris out of sickbay."

"Where will you put him?"

"The doctor is convinced that the brig is not the place for our claustrophobic crewman. I guess I'll do with him what you did
with Janeway, confine him to his quarters until we can sort things out."

"Very well."

As they parted at the doors to the conference room to go on their separate missions, Chakotay stopped and said, "Thank you,
Tuvok." At Tuvok's raised eyebrow, he elaborated, "I appreciate your backing me up on the bridge."

"I appreciate your putting a stop to what was turning into a most unseemly display."


On the bridge, Chakotay asked Harry to call up his relief crew and, when the crew member arrived, installed her at Harry's
customary station. Chakotay directed the pilot on duty to remain at warp 2, then he invited Harry into the conference room.

As he regarded the young ensign, Chakotay felt a wave of sympathy for the man's dilemma. "How are you doing, Harry?"

"I'll be fine. How's Tom?"

"The doctor's taking care of him."

"No. *How* is Tom?"

"I don't know, Harry. He's resting now."

"What are you going to do with him?" 

Chakotay heard the harsh judgment in Harry's tone. "He's not going to the brig and he will not be beaten further. For the time
being, he'll be confined to his quarters."

At those words, Harry seemed to calm down. "All right."

Realizing that Harry had not yet looked him in the eye, Chakotay ventured, "You're upset about what you did."

Turning his whole head to face a nearby wall, Harry shrugged. "Yeah."

"If it'll help to talk about it...?"

The anger bubbled out. "Why'd he do it? I had to ... you were there. I could have killed him!"

"I know. Tom made a mistake and he's paid dearly for it. But what about you? You've been good friends."

Harry shook his head. "I don't know, Commander. I just don't know."

"Okay. Take a little holodeck time and do what you need to do."

By the time Harry left, he still hadn't looked Chakotay in the eye. Sighing, Chakotay commed B'Elanna. 

"I'm busy," she brushed him off.

"Get un busy and get your butt up here."

"Yes, sir, Acting Captain, sir." 

Unlike Harry's suppressed anger, hers boiled over in all its Klingon fury. He couldn't put it off, he needed to talk to her just as
he had Harry. They had to know that he cared about what they'd gone through. When B'Elanna arrived she announced that this
had better not take much time.

"It will take what it takes, Lieutenant." Nodding to a chair, he ordered, "Sit down."

"I can't," she countered and paced the conference room. 

Telling himself not to escalate this further, Chakotay watched her silently until she realized her gambit wasn't working. "All right,"
she growled. "What do you want?"

"What do *you* want, B'Elanna? You went through a rough time today."

Shaking her head, she acknowledged angrily, "A part of me wishes Janeway had ordered *me* to take a cane to his backside.
I wanted to tear him apart."

"And another part of you?"

The tears came then. "Damn him! Damn him! He could have died. He ... he abandoned me! Just left me and took off in the
Flyer like I didn't mean a thing to him."

Chakotay kept his counsel. She knew the key to her feelings, she'd said the word. *Abandoned*. Tom had abandoned her just
like her father had, just as she had always feared would happen if she let someone get too close to her. But he sensed there
was more and he waited patiently.

"And I encouraged him."

"Did you tell him to take the Flyer?"

"No. But ..."

"But what? Did you push him into the Flyer when he didn't want to go?"

A sad smile broke through her anger. "No. But he was feeling there was nothing that even Captain Proton could help. And I
asked about Tom Paris. I should never have said anything! If I hadn't ..."

"Do you think he wouldn't have thought of it on his own?"

"I shouldn't have ..."

"B'Elanna. Do you really believe Tom would not have figured it out for himself? He was committed, he had command of the
Flyer, he's nothing if not resourceful."

She saw his point. But there was something she couldn't let go of. Without the earlier anger, but with overwhelming sorrow, she
repeated, "He abandoned me, Chakotay. I loved him. I never thought ..."

When she didn't pick up her train of thought, he asked softly, "Can you forgive him?"

She had no answer, just a helpless expression on her face. They both knew that she couldn't forgive him just yet, if ever. 

"B'Elanna, you know how much he valued the Captain's good opinion of him. And yet, he deliberately disobeyed her."

With a tortured cry, she asked, "Why? Why did he throw away everything?"

"I don't know, but it's something I hope to understand before too long."

She continued her pacing and Chakotay realized there was even more on her mind. When she was ready, she turned to him.
Unlike Harry she looked him in the eye. "What the captain had us do to Tom .... I know I was angry. I know I wanted to hurt
him the way he'd hurt me. But what she had us do .... There was no honor in it, Chakotay. You know that. There was no honor
in punishing a man who's been stripped and tied up so that he's helpless. No honor."

"I know," he said gently. He rose and gave her a hug. "A lot of things went wrong today. A lot of mistakes were made. I hope
we can pick up the pieces, do some healing, and go on."

As he released her, she brushed at her eyes and turned to go. "I let us -- all of us -- down. And I let myself down."

"And Tom?"

She shook her head and with grim humor pronounced, "That IDIOT!"

"Go on." He smiled back at her. "I hear your engines calling. If you need to talk more ...?"

"It'll be all right. Thanks."

He noticed she had said 'it' will be all right, not that she would be all right. But he didn't call her on it.

The holodoc commed him. "Mr. Paris is ready to be released."

"I'll be right there." 

End Part 2

Part 3

Chakotay returned to sickbay after he heard the doctor pronounce Tom fit to be released. When he arrived, he found Tom in
sweats, his face clean, his hair freshly washed, the ramrod posture of earlier in the day replaced with a hung head and a
slumping posture. 


Bleakly, Tom regarded the man who had saved him. "Yes?"

"For the time being, you're confined to your quarters. You may have visitors, you may use the replicator as long as you have the
rations, you may comm out, use the computer."

"But I'm to stay in my room like a good little boy, huh?"

Chakotay saw eyes so sad that the wildflower blue he'd always admired had been washed out to a slate grey. "Will that be a

"No, sir." Just a tad insolent.

"And in case you're interested, Captain Janeway is confined to her quarters." Tom seemed startled. "Let's go, then."

"You're taking me there yourself? No anonymous security officer with a phaser on his hip gets to do the dirty deed?" There was
a mocking quality to Tom's tone that Chakotay found irritating. 

In an even voice, he answered, "I thought I would go with you, yes."

Tom's head turned away and Chakotay wondered if he actually did see a trembling chin. He waited, giving Tom a moment to
compose himself.

"Okay. Let's go."

A little of the steel-spine posture returned. Chakotay discreetly avoided looking at the moist eyes as he and Tom exited sickbay

Once Tom entered his quarters, Chakotay hung back by the door. Tom seemed a little dazed as he wandered aimlessly around
the living area. Chakotay broke the ice, "Do you need anything?"

"A reset button?" Tom asked with bitter humor, staring out into the starfield going by at slow warp.

"I wish I had one for you."

With his back still to Chakotay, Tom remarked, "I guess I owe you."

"How so?"

"Don't be cute. You stopped *Mistress* Janeway from having me killed on the bridge."

"I did what I thought was right."

"Whatever. Anyway. Thanks."

The last word came out grudgingly. But Tom still hadn't faced him. 

"How do you feel about what happened?"

This time Tom turned around, angry and hostile. "Don't! Don't play those games with me. We both know I fucking screwed up.
I can't believe I did what I did! And I can't believe I alienated everyone who ever cared for me." Viciously, he added, "I wish
I'd died down there."

"Is that something you want now? Do you want to die?"

A startled look passed over Tom's unhappy features. "What? No. Uh, no. I'm not suicidal. Just terminally stupid." At
Chakotay's hint of a smile, he called the man on it, "What? What'd I say?"

B'Elanna had labeled Tom an idiot. Now he saw himself as stupid. "You're right. You fucked up. But, no, I wouldn't call you

"Thanks a whole lot for that vote of confidence. I'm sure it'll help." The sarcasm came out thick and self-pitying. "And I guess,"
Tom said with a wave at his quarters, "I'm still paying for what I did."

Chakotay shrugged. "I don't know yet what's going to happen to you. But I can't condone placing you in the brig."

A big sigh and more bitter words escaped from Tom's mouth. "Now I owe you for that, too. What do you want? Should I take
my clothes off or are you more into ripping them off? Just tell me how you want me."

It took Chakotay a moment to realize what Tom was offering. He swallowed hard. "You ... you don't have to do that, Tom.

"Don't what? Isn't that why you're here?" Tom's bitterness no longer effectively covered up his anguish. "Am I such damaged
goods now that you don't want me?"

Chakotay felt as if he'd been hit in the chest with a kick from the front hoof of a rearing horse. Tom's self-hatred seemed
limitless. With disturbing insight, Chakotay understood Tom would not take his own life. Instead, Tom hated himself so much he
needed to be punished until he could no longer feel. No wonder Tom's thanks for stopping the beating on the bridge had
seemed so grudging. And now, if he wasn't going to be beaten, he might as well offer his body to be used, or abused, sexually. 

In that moment, something crystallized for Chakotay. It wasn't quite pity and it wasn't totally unselfish, but he realized that he
wanted to connect with this troubled young soul. Tom wouldn't become his reclamation project because that would imply he
was using Tom for his own ends, that is, if Tom turned out all right, then he would look good. Instead, he wanted to see what
Tom was like without the self-hatred and self-destructiveness. He wanted to see Tom reach a point where the younger man
could actually make reasoned choices about himself, his life, and his relationships. The question, though, was how was he going
to bring that about?

He knew too well his own tendencies to like controlling his sexual encounters, to enjoying possessing a body fully and
completely, to getting off on seeing someone's complete submission to his needs. But there was a caveat. Whatever went on
between himself and another had to be completely consensual. And Tom Paris was in no kind of shape to give consent. 

Chakotay finally moved into the room and sat at the table. His voice was soft. "Keep your clothes on, Tom. I'd like to just ...
talk. Okay?"

Wary, Tom turned from the window and crossed over to the table. He rested his weight on hands that held onto the back of a
chair. "I can do *talk*," Tom smirked.

Inwardly, Chakotay sighed and wondered if this was such a good idea. Tom seemed to have regressed to his pre-Maquis
days. Chakotay knew what Tom did back then with his body and what he had exchanged for it. Perhaps Tom felt that making
such an offer gave him the illusion of control, the same illusion Tom had once entertained when he gave himself away for booze,
drugs, a place to sleep, credits. Or, Chakotay theorized, maybe he was just projecting his own needs to control encounters
onto Tom. 

He watched the pilot shift uneasily behind the safety of the chair. As the silence continued, a look of annoyance crossed the
younger man's face. Savagely, he demanded, "What do you want, Commander?"

Chakotay didn't dare give voice to his thoughts: I want you. I want you so much that the heat of it will take us out the other side
of the bulkhead. "I'd like to understand."

Tom spread his arms wide to each side of him. "I'm an open book, Commander."

Well, the word 'open' fit into his fantasy rather nicely, but that wasn't on the agenda. "Please sit down, Tom."

Narrowing his eyes, Tom gave a shrug. As Tom took a seat opposite him, Chakotay could see by the way he moved that he
hadn't completely healed from the beating he'd sustained. "Still hurt?"

With a small laugh, Tom told him, "Just my pride." Settling carefully on the chair, he asked, "So, what happens next? Although
you *say* you don't want me, I think the jury's still out on that one."

Chakotay hesitated before responding. He thought through the different things he could say. Clearly, Tom hadn't survived on his
own in the Alpha Quadrant as long as he had without developing a finely honed sense of what others might want from him. At
some level, Tom had read him correctly, to deny that would be to place a barrier of dishonesty between himself and this
already mistrustful young man. "Do you remember when you rescued me from the Ocampan tunnel?"

Caught off balance, Tom frowned, "Yeah?"

"How did you feel about me when you did that?"

Tom shook his head. "I don't follow."

"You told me I owed you. That my life was yours. Remember those words?"


Good, Chakotay thought. He's intrigued. This could be called progress. "What did you feel about me? About my owing you?"


Chakotay let the silence speak for him. He would wait Tom out.

"Look. I don't know what the fuck you're thinking. Are we even now? Is that what you're saying? Fine. We're even."

"What did you feel when you knew you'd saved me from death?"

"I don't know!" Tom's agitation increased. "What is this? Some kind of inquisition?"

"Tom, you felt something. Think about it and tell me what it was."

"Shit. You don't give up, do you?"

With a smile, Chakotay acknowledged the charge. "No. I don't." 

"And you're not going to leave until I answer you." Tom's statement didn't even have a question mark at the end.

Leaning back in the chair, Chakotay gave Tom the once over. His body language was less tense, but his demeanor suggested
that he was still pissed off by Chakotay's persistence. "So?"

Paris seemed to try another approach. "You want me, don't you? But you're, what -- into some kind of big denial thing?"

It appeared that Tom had patience of his own. They were back to that. Shaking his head and smiling, Chakotay proposed a
deal, "You tell me about what you felt in that tunnel and I'll tell you what you want to know."

Leaning back in the chair, arms crossed, Tom's famed poker-face suffered a major setback. Chakotay saw a week's worth of
emotions chase each other, one barely forming before another took its place. But Chakotay couldn't decipher which feeling was
finally allowed to rest there. Perhaps none were. 

There was no mistaking the almost helpless look Tom gave him. As if lost, Tom admitted, "I don't know what I felt."

Softly, Chakotay tried not to tread on this moment of honesty. "Did you feel like gloating?"

Tom shook his head.

"Did you expect me to offer myself to you sexually?"

Flushing, Tom snapped, "Of course not."

Mentally holding his breath, Chakotay waited for Tom to tumble to the truth. And he did, confirming what Chakotay had
realized. The pilot wasn't dense, just seriously fucked up. And the brief openness Tom had revealed went the way any quiet
moment went in the Delta Quadrant. It was gone.

"So. What did you feel? Maybe you felt good? As if you might be someone brave, honorable, caring?" At each of the
adjectives, a red blush crept higher and higher up Tom's neck and face. He seemed too embarrassed to answer. Drily
Chakotay offered, "I'll take that as a yes."

With that topic exhausted, Tom's blush faded and he even smiled faintly. Seemingly recovered from his glimpse of Tom
Paris-good guy, the sneer reappeared as inevitably as leola root in the mess hall. "Tell me what I want to know."

Chakotay allowed himself a small smile. Needling Tom just a little, he smirked in return. "Well, in addition to having these
obviously unwanted good-guy tendencies, you're very perceptive."

"So. You do want me." Tom grabbed the bottom hem of his sweatshirt as if to take it off. 

"Wait," Chakotay ordered, a genuine smile replacing the smirk. "At some point in the future, if you're not going with anyone ....
" Chakotay paused. Here he was putting in all these qualifiers, but unfortunately he couldn't think of any less awkward way to
say these things. "Yes. I would be interested in seeing if there could be a relationship with you."

Tom sounded indignant as he let go of his sweatshirt. "A *relationship*? Chakotay, I was talking about fucking. Geez, if you
want a relationship, forget it."

At that, Chakotay laughed out loud. After a moment, Tom joined in. But he sobered when Chakotay stood up. "Are you ...

Although the commander couldn't really read Tom's expression, he thought he saw fear. At the same time, he didn't know how
to respond to that. Lamely, he made his excuses. "I've got a lot to do."


Once he reached the door, Chakotay turned to Tom. He saw him sitting there defeated and hurt and wondered if he should say
something. He gestured with his hand as if to speak.

Tom tried to hide the pain once Chakotay faced him. "It's okay. Go."

"I can stay."

"No. I know ... I know what I did. You've got a mess out there to deal with."

"Tom? You can comm me if you ... if you want to."

Tom turned his face away from the door, but Chakotay heard the faintness in his grim reply. "Sure." As in, 'when hell freezes


Outside Tom's quarters, Chakotay took a deep breath. Collecting himself after that encounter wasn't easy. And facing Janeway
wasn't going to be any easier. At least he could hear the doctor's report first and brace himself for the inevitable meeting with

The unexpected and intense emotions he'd experienced in Tom's quarters surprised him. What the hell was he thinking of? A
*relationship* with Tom Paris? At least Tom had the good sense to reject such an idea. So, why was he thinking of that pilot,
seeing him in his mind's eye: Tom lying naked on his bed, waiting for him, eyelids slitted over glowing lapis, his pale body
marked with Chakotay's ownership, an expression on a face that looked younger than his years that said 'do it again'?

Shaking his head, Chakotay headed for his office, comming the doctor and Tuvok to meet him there with their report on
Janeway. If he had to pause en route to adjust his crotch, at least he made sure he was alone in the corridor when he did so.

Chakotay had time to down a cold glass of water before the other two arrived. Neither hologram nor Vulcan wore expressions
he could read. Damn, he thought. He couldn't figure out anyone today. "Well?"

The doctor reported first. "Transient stress disorder."

Chakotay was in no mood for doctor-speak. "What the hell does that mean?"

"She experienced a momentary lapse brought on by stress."

"So she's fit to resume command?"

"I didn't say that," the holodoc warned, hearing the anger in the commander's voice. "She needs to engage in a stress-reduction
program. Resuming command is not high on the list of recommended activities."


"The Captain appeared to be fully cognizant, knew she had crossed the line, and was both apologetic and defiant."

"Sounds like her," Chakotay voiced his thoughts out loud. "Recommendations?"

"She follows my stress-reduction program, I re-evaluate her at the end of that period of time." The doctor spoke smugly, as if
he was sure he had the answer. 

"All right, that takes care of her health. If she'll cooperate. What about what she did to Paris?"

"Might I suggest a milder form of corporal punishment?" Tuvok offered as Chakotay blinked.

"Uh ... what did you have in mind?"

"All of those who took part in or witnessed Mr. Paris' punishment would be present to view her punishment. Twenty swats with
the paddle on her trousers could be sufficient to bring home the lesson that no one is above answering for his or her misdeeds."

"I gather that's in Starfleet's tradition? Paddling an errant captain?" Chakotay checked.

Even Tuvok paused on that question. "I have not heard of such an event, no."

"Shit!" He exclaimed and whirled away from them.

"I do not believe that would be indicated," Tuvok intoned.

His deadpanned delivery caught Chakotay's attention and he shook his head, his back still turned to the others. "We've got
Tom Paris playing out captain fantasies, the captain playing out Captain Bligh fantasies, and here I am, Acting Captain, trying to
figure out what to do about them. And you know what? Nothing! Nothing is going to work."

"Commander, if I may," the doctor began, "I believe my program will ...."

"I'm not talking about your program, doctor. I'm talking about a guy we all like to believe is so tough, sitting in his quarters
wishing he'd died underwater. A captain I've sworn to serve who I don't know what to do with! And that doesn't begin to
cover the damage done to B'Elanna and Harry." Chakotay turned back to face them. "So. Shit."

"Your frustration is understandable," Tuvok empathized with as much sensitivity as he could muster from years of living among

Chakotay sighed as the venting helped somewhat to calm him down. "I don't have to decide tonight. Who knows? Perhaps
we'll be attacked by brain-sucking, limb-tearing aliens and Tom will be needed to pilot and Kathryn will be needed to ... hell, I
don't know ... kick their butts back to wherever they came from. And this will all have been a bad dream."

"Commander, could you use a mild sedative?" the doctor offered, concerned by the usually stoic man's outburst.

"No." What he needed was Tom Paris on his bed, tempting him, responsive to only the touch of Chakotay's fingertip. Hell, he
needed a very cold shower.

Head tilted, Tuvok seemed almost able to read his mind. "Perhaps the commander could use some time alone?"

The two left and Chakotay stared out the window for a long time brooding over his fellow crew members.

Tom Paris. 

Kathryn Janeway. 

End Part 3

Part 4

With Chakotay's departure, Tom tried to sort out the conflicting vibes Chakotay left in his wake. What the hell did the
commander want from him? 

His own feelings veered from the self-righteous anger that the injustices on the bridge warranted to the abject humiliation he'd
experienced when his body had been tied to the helm. No doubt about it, this day would rank right up there in his personal
pantheon of worst memories. Well, he had a tried and true remedy for that. 

Tom approached his replicator like a Ferengi cornering a financial conquest. It'd been awhile, but the trickery he needed to
make it produce his favorite 'poor me' beverages had never left him. First, he had it replicate a glass, then some water, then
*permissible* alcohol, then the little alterations that made for the 150 proof stuff. Lifting the glass that held the precious clear
liquid to his lips, Tom inhaled it. The drink had a penetrating, distinctive odor that made him shudder. Ignoring the cues of his
'this-is-bad-stuff' drink, he tossed down most of it. A second swallow took care of what was left. At his command, the
replicator made him another. And another. 

Five drinks later, but who the hell was counting, Tom staggered to his couch, a sixth drink in his hand. Chakotay. Shit. The man
wanted him. Why the hell was he playing games? Well, there was B'Elanna, as in Tom and B'Elanna. They were supposed to
be in a relationship. Maybe the ex-Maquis was just as honorable as he seemed to be? Nope. Nobody could be that honorable.
Hell. He and the commander could have fucked, his debt would be paid, end of story. 

But he sat there knowing he was a total shit. Didn't he and B'Elanna have a relationship? So, what the hell was this thinking that
Chakotay should have fucked him when he'd offered himself? Crap. That wasn't even a question. 

Of course, after his stunt with the Delta Flyer and the way B'Elanna'd smacked his ass with that riding crop, maybe they no
longer had a relationship. Didn't matter, he was a total shit. He should tell her. Tell her what a shit he was. She'd agree, they'd
break up, then Chakotay could fuck his ass. 

Nope. Wait. There couldn't be anything with Chakotay until after the holodoc spent days putting him back together. Oh, yeah,
once B'Elanna got through with him, he'd be a sack of broken bones and battered skin. 

But, hell, it wouldn't be the first time she'd gone after him for some totally stupid deal on his part. Slugging back another drink,
Tom felt its warmth curl through his dick. 

No doubt about it. He was a thoroughly, totally, fucked-up pile of shit. Sometimes he knew he was getting B'Elanna going, and
the inevitable slamming, banging, throwing, hurling, pain of it all was just what he needed. Was that what he needed now?
Maybe he should comm her. Say something nasty. She'd be here in his quarters in a Klingon minute. He'd get just what he

No. Not a good idea. He wanted to stay alive. Today was not a good day to die. Not when he could pour down another


How many ways could a guy be so fucked up? Fucked over? A fucking fool? The words played around in his alcohol-buzzed
brain and before he could consider the advisability of his actions, he was at the replicator again. Better 'n a nurse, more reliable
'n a hypospray, more faithful 'n any person he'd ever known. Definitely his only friend. 

He gulped down the fresh drink. He couldn't taste it anymore, didn't smell it either. It could have been water. But, fucking hell,
water wouldn't take away the pain. No way. Another one went down just as easily and he took one with him for the trip back
to his couch. 

Hmm, his navigation was a little rocky. Well, old Captain 'pull down his pants and whip 'em' Janeway wasn't letting him fly the
ship for awhile. Didn't matter then if the floor didn't always find his feet when he stepped on it. Oops. He stumbled. Nice
recovery. No booze was lost in the making of this journey. 

Very carefully, he placed his drink on the end table, then fell heavily toward the couch. What the hell? The damned couch
shifted its position and he landed on his tail on the floor. Didn't hurt. Just fucking weird that a couch would move like that. Only
one problem with being on the floor. Couldn't get up. 

Fuck it. He'd landed on worse places than the floor of a starship. Nope. Being on the floor wasn't the only problem. There was
another situation. That drink was out of reach. He'd watched his arm approach it, his fingers closing in on the glass, then fall
when the drink was located too far from the fingers to snag it. 

The motion of reaching for the glass sent his body rolling over and he found himself face down on the floor. That was all right.
Right? Better 'n being on his back. He'd begun to feel the impact on his butt from falling on the floor. Smarted, smarted just like
that beating 'n whipping. Damn. 


Janeway paced her living area. She alternated her rage between targeting herself and aiming it at the men who had taken her
command. She'd spent enough time reviewing her mistakes. Now it was time to level a mental phaser at those men. Damn
every last one of them. 

Tuvok? Who'd have thought faithful Tuvok would turn on her like that? He knew the Starfleet codes; he knew a captain had to
have the latitude to discipline her crew, particularly when they were way the hell out in the Delta Quadrant. Particularly when
they acted out the way Tom Paris had. Oh, that Paris. She'd done so much for him and this was how he repaid her. Made her
wonder what she had ever seen in the devious son of a bitch. 

And Paris was the son of an admiral, for all the gods' sake. Kathryn knew first hand how the admiral had run a ship. She'd
served with him. She'd seen him whip crew members who'd deserved it. No one ever relieved the admiral of his command.
And it wasn't as if his son was some stranger to corporal punishment. The admiral had bragged to her about his child rearing
methods. Frequent, painful, bare-assed spankings had ranked high in his repertoire of child management techniques. 

And Chakotay. Chakotay. Who would have thought that he, a man she trusted, flirted with, made first officer, would flagrantly
defy her? And he did it in front of all of her senior staff. It was damned hard to believe. And it hurt. First Tom betrayed her and
then Chakotay and then Tuvok. And now that know-it-all holodoctor. Someone should pull his neural gel packs and recycle
them into something more useful. Stress management program, her ass. 

Men. Worthless. Patriarchal entitlement a part of their raw genetic make-up. They just expected women to give in to them, to
follow them blindly while they ran the show. Well, then, she'd do what she had to do by herself. They'd see. If she was
interpreting the bridge scene accurately, B'Elanna was as angry at Tom Paris as she was. And Harry? Another man. Another
wimp. He'd lightly punished Tom and he'd cried the whole time. Disgusting. 

No, those men hadn't seen the last of Captain Kathryn Janeway. Fuck their little scheming minds. They were no match for her. 


When her door chime went off, not unexpectedly, she managed to snarl, "Come in." 

"Kathryn." Just as she had thought, Chakotay himself had finally found the guts to face her. "If you're not here to apologize and
restore my command, we have nothing to say." 

He moved from the shadows by the door to the better lit living area. Not giving him anything, she kept her position on the
couch, her feet up, her body sideways to this unwelcome enemy. 

"I am sorry that things got out of hand." 

She snorted at that and listened for him to say something with real meaning. While she waited, she turned her gaze out the
window where she could see his reflection. Good. He seemed uneasy. Let him sweat. 

"Kathryn. I had to stop it. You went too far." 

She shook her head. 

Apparently Chakotay thought she hadn't heard him as he repeated himself. "You were ordering a whipping that went way
beyond ...." 

"Oh, stuff it, Chakotay." She stood up and faced him, all the anger and bitterness spewing out. "That little shit, that traitorous,
lying, bottom-feeding asshole! He brought every bit of it on himself. I got him out of prison. Do you know what that means? Do
you? Have you seen his prison record?" 

She knew he hadn't. She'd placed it under a high level encryption code. Even Harry Kim would be hard pressed to open it. 

"Tom's having been in prison has nothing to do with what you were planning to do to him." 

"*I* got him out of there," she insisted. "*I* gave him a second chance." 

The commander's eyes narrowed. "The way I hear it, he was going back to prison when your little mission to capture me

That was interesting, she thought. Chakotay sounded bitter. Her first officer had some emotions after all. "You've hidden those
feelings well, Chakotay." 

"I'm not at issue here." 

Damn him. He wasn't going to be deflected. Might as well get this meeting over with. She placed her hands on her hips and
confronted him. "What do you want?" 

"I want a way out of this." 

"Oh? I thought you wanted my ship." 


"Could have fooled me." 

Janeway noticed that he approached her cautiously, as if expecting the warp-fast strike of a deadly snake. But she found his
tenacity very much in character. Allowing herself a look at his face, she discovered unexpected pain on it. His few words came
across softly, almost inaudibly. "I need your help." 

Damn this man! 


Harry spent hours berating himself for what he'd done to Tom. He couldn't get the sight out of his mind of Tom's light skin
turning red under the paddle he'd wielded. How could he have done that to his best friend? He felt the same corrosive
self-betrayal that had so undercut him after their rescue from the Akriterian prison. Well, he could wallow in his cabin or he
could go face Tom and apologize. He had to do something. 

Gathering together about him the frayed remnants of his courage, Harry walked with somber determination to Tom's cabin. He
tried Tom's door once, then twice. When he received no answer either time, he let himself in. "Tom?" 

The cabin reeked of alcohol and vomit. Breathing as much as possible through his mouth, Harry did a visual scan of the cabin
and found his friend on the floor near the couch. Tom's face partially rested in the pungent, regurgitated contents of his stomach.
He tried not to gag as his fingers felt the artery in Tom's neck. 

Good. Tom was alive, but obviously shit-faced. He'd clean up Tom first and then see to neutralizing the alcohol that remained in
his system. Harry hauled the limp man up against the couch, using it as a backrest. 

Working quickly, but constantly on the verge of gagging, Harry used a clean, wet cloth on Tom's face and neck. Tom didn't stir
or even open his eyes as Harry wiped his face clean. Unfortunately, the dried vomit in his hair and on his shirt made a complete
clean-up hopeless. 

With a sigh, Harry replicated a hypospray in the hopes that it would sober up Tom. All it had to do was last long enough to get
Tom to a point where he could finish the job of cleaning himself. After he pressed the hypospray against Tom's neck, he called
for the computer to activate the air fresheners and carpet cleaner. 

As Harry squatted next to Tom, the drunken man finally stirred, his bloodshot eyes opened to half mast. Tom's face scrunched
up in distaste. "Gods, you stink." 

Harry smiled. "I think you got that wrong, pal. You passed out and threw up. A little shower, some teeth brushing, you'll be a
new man." 

A light seemed to dawn. "You sobered me up! Damn it, Harry. That was a lot of replicator rations and you just wasted them!" 

Harry shook his head. "No, Tom. You wasted them. This is no time to get drunk, do you hear me?" 


Tom was not a happy sobered-up drunk. Standing, Harry extended his arm downward to give Tom a hand. A little unsteady
on his feet, Tom placed one hand on Harry's shoulder for support. Red-veined eyes pierced at Harry as if a column of red laser
light connected them. "If I wanted to be sober, I wouldn't have gotten drunk." 

"And I'm telling you, this is not the time to get drunk." 

"Why not? I'm confined to quarters, everybody hates me, and I've got nothing better to do." 

Disgusted by Tom's self-pity, Harry took the other's hand off his shoulder and steered Tom toward the bathroom. "I'll talk to
you after you've showered and after you've brushed your teeth. Got that?" 

"Yes, mother," Tom complained but entered the bathroom anyway, stripping off his top and tossing it into the refresher as he

As Harry waited for Tom to get out of the shower, he carried on a conversation with the computer to discover how Tom had
managed to conjure up enough alcohol to get so drunk. Believing he was doing Tom a favor, Harry used his programming skills
to make sure the computer never served Tom another drop of real alcohol. From now on, Tom would get only synthahol. With
any luck, his friend might not discover the deception. No. Tom would realize he wasn't getting a real buzz very quickly. But,
tough. Tom and alcohol were a very bad combination. 

With the replicator adjusted to his satisfaction, Harry sat uneasily on the couch. So far this hadn't gone as he'd hoped; he hadn't
had a chance to voice his apology. Moreover, Tom had said that 'everybody' hated him. It could mean that Tom included him
in that field of eligibles. He hated this waiting. 

A somewhat chastened Tom Paris emerged from the shower with a towel around his slim waist. From his place on the couch,
Harry's eyes followed the pilot to his closet where he selected a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. When the towel dropped,
Harry had a look at a pale, smooth ass, no signs of the beating visible, a set of wrinkled balls and a flaccid cock, and very long
legs lightly covered with almost invisible blond hairs. Unselfconsciously, Tom pulled up the sweats without bothering with
shorts. Then he added the t-shirt, covering a lengthy torso with the light blue fabric. 

Too bad Tom wasn't into men, Harry thought idly. While he was at it, too bad he himself wasn't into men. Tom's body alone
was a work of art. Long bones, seemingly unending muscles, finely balanced features, and eyes now restored to their more
usual, brilliant blue, it all added up to the fact that Tom was a very beautiful man. Why he seemed so bent on destroying the
gifts he'd been given was just beyond Harry's understanding. 

"So. Harry. Still here, I see." Tom got a glass of water and downed it in one swallow. "Come to inspect what was left of me
after Janeway's little party?" 

"Cut it out, Tom," Harry ordered with more sharpness in his tone than he'd intended. 

"Well, you're my good buddy, right? So I guess I'd better behave. Or what? You'll take another paddle to me?" 

"Tom. Please." This time maybe too much pleading sounded in his voice. "I came to apologize." 

Tom dropped onto the end of the couch opposite Harry and sprawled over it like a discarded afghan. "Okay." 

"I shouldn't have done it. I didn't want to do what she ordered. I didn't, but -- " 

Tom interrupted, "-- but she's the captain, huh, Harry?" 

"Something like that." 

Tom hung his head, as if the fight had gone out of him. "I remember -- you were crying." 

Embarrassed, Harry acknowledged the memory. "Yeah." 

"So ... what now?" 

"Can we still be friends?" 

"Want to get drunk?" 

"Tom," Harry told him, frustrated, "getting drunk is not a solution." 

Sighing, Tom said, "I always thought it was. Well, until ... " 

When Tom's voice trailed off, Harry asked him to finish his thought. "Until what?" 

Very blue eyes held his. Tom's jaw thrust out ever so slightly, his lips pulled in. Harry wasn't sure whether he was going to
answer the question or not. The eyes dropped, a tongue flicked out to lick his lips. "Don't you know?" Tom's whisper spoke
the rest. "Until I lost my self-respect." 

It may have been the most honest statement Harry had ever heard from Tom and it took him a moment to put things together.
"And today ... on the bridge ... it happened again. Your self-respect?" 


Restlessly, Tom pulled his body together like a rag doll controlled by invisible strings. He stretched and stood up, then
wandered over to the window. Placing a hand against the pane that held back the cold and vacuum of space, Tom appeared to
merge with the blackness outside. When he faced Harry again, he seemed different yet again. The painful honesty was gone. In
its place was the hard, go-away mask of his earlier years on Voyager. 

Blinking back the momentary moisture that welled up at the change in his friend, Harry got to his feet. "I'm still your friend,

"Thanks, Harry, but I'm a little toxic on friends." 

With the stubbornness that used to vex his parents, Harry shot back, "I've got a toxic-proof suit on. I'm not going to be harmed
by a few caustic chemicals." 

The smile on Tom's face was as cold as the space he'd tried to touch on the windowpane. The voice held no warmth, only a
detached kind of irony. "Thanks, Harry. You've convinced me. I appreciate the visit." 

There was nothing more to do or say. Harry wanted to touch Tom on the shoulder or on his back, somehow hoping a gesture
like that would reassure his friend. But Tom's body language closed the fortress and pulled up the bridge over the moat. There
was no access. 

The feeling that this Tom Paris was shuttered to his friendship hurt with a sting that Harry hadn't expected. He did the only thing
possible. He left. "I'll see you later, Tom." 

"Sure. Harry." 

Tom approached the replicator and went through his routine to fool it into producing an alcoholic drink. He brought the glass up
to his lips, drank from it, then spit the liquid out in a wide, wet fan. "Fuck! Dammit, Harry ...!" 


In the mess hall, in the corridors, in the community holodeck programs, the punishment of Tom Paris and the usurpation of the
captain from her position were virtually the only topics of conversation. And sometimes very heated monologues gave the
illusion of conversation. 

"She went nuts. No wonder the commanders took over." 

"He didn't get nearly what he deserved. She ought to have destroyed the flyer with him still in it." 

"How could anyone order a beating like that?" 

"He should have smacked her back. Captain or no captain. Anyone who'd try that on me, let me tell you ...." 

"His actions were totally illogical. But, then, so were hers." 

"He disobeyed her direct orders! Direct orders!" 

"She should've left him behind on the water world, he liked it so much. Let him swim back to the Alpha Quadrant." 

"Chakotay ought to lock her up and forget the command codes." 

"No one, and I mean no one, deserves what she did to him. She fucking lost it, that's all I can figure. She's lost it."

"He's been conning all of us. She should have left him to rot in prison." 

"Suppose he started a war that got us all killed, huh?" 

"That bitch." 

"That fucking asshole." 

End Part 4

Part 5

For what must have been the fiftieth time, Tom turned over on his rumpled bed. Nothing seemed to work now that his *pal*
had sobered him up. He couldn't sleep, he couldn't get comfortable, his mind wouldn't shut up. It wouldn't stop showing him
holovids of other possible lives, other possible choices. 

One of the choices: let Riga return alone to his planet, while he, Tom, flew Voyager toward the Alpha Quadrant still in the good
graces of his captain and friends. Another choice: break off his attack in the murky waters of Monea and pilot the Delta Flyer
back to Voyager when Janeway ordered it. Another choice: swear off alcohol. Never mind. Another choice: take a sleeping aid
and fall asleep. Another choice: break the restraints that held him to the helm and launch himself at 'Field Marshall' Janeway and
punch her lights out. He shouldn't have just taken what she ordered; he should have had the strength or cunning or whatever to
fight back. 

Tom flung himself onto his back and tried to conjure up a soothing, warm beach with gentle ocean waves breaking on white
sugar sands. In the midst of the idyllic scene, he had a flash of Tuvok flicking the whip at him. Concentrate, he told himself,
gentle waves, just soothing breakers, nothing more. No. There was Harry's paddle colliding painfully with his backside no
matter how much Harry had tried to soften the blows. Breakers, waves, breathe, Tommy, he told himself. Chakotay. The wider
body lowered itself on top of his, desire polishing those black obsidian eyes to unnatural brightness.

His feet scissored restlessly, tangling even more with the already mangled sheets. This wasn't working. It wasn't working.
Breathing heavily, he commanded, "Computer, lights at twenty percent."

Tom sat up and began to pull apart the damp sheets from his legs. Finished with that surprisingly complex task, his shoulders
slumped, his hands rested loosely over his knees. Maybe he'd better take something if he was going to get any sleep at all. 

Padding barefoot over to the replicator, he asked it for a specific hypospray that he knew would knock him out but would not
leave him with a hangover in the morning. His thirst from the earlier drinking and puking asserted itself and he swallowed a full
glass of water. Thus armed with the best of modern medicine, Tom crossed the room to his bed without incident. 

He sat for a moment on the edge of the bed with the hypospray in hand considering the ramifications of taking it. He would
sleep, no question about that. He needed sleep, again, no question there. So, why did he hesitate? In his sleep deprived brain
there were no answers, just a vague uneasiness. Without answers, Tom finally pressed it against his neck, placed the empty
sprayer on his bedside table, and lay down to wait for sleep. 


After a restless night, B'Elanna got up before her alarm and groggily began the morning rituals that signaled the start of her day.
She'd resolved nothing in her sleep, she had no idea what she should do about her relationship, her *supposed* relationship,
with Tom. Anger still kept her company and she wondered how long she would stay angry, or if it would ever go away. 

She had to do *something*. Just letting things work out over long periods of time was not in her repertoire. Part of her urged
her to talk to Tom. Another part of her was equally forceful about staying away from him. Damn. 


As Tuvok prepared for his duty shift, he was commed by Neelix. Sighing, he wondered what the friendly man wanted this time.
"Tuvok here."

"Ah, Mr. Vulcan. Might I see you privately?"

With restraint, Tuvok politely inquired, "To what purpose?"

"Information that might be important to you, as ... um ... security chief?"

"Very well. I shall be in the conference room in ten minutes."

Neelix arrived just after Tuvok did. The smaller man's normally bubbly presence was considerably subdued. Tuvok wondered
if this adjustment in presentation was simply respect for Tuvok's nature or if it meant something else. As soon as Neelix began a
round-about introduction to whatever was on his mind, Tuvok reasoned that this quieter Neelix must be due to the nature of the
man's information and not some ability to conform to Vulcan standards of conduct. Finally, Tuvok interrupted, "I am not sure I
understand the relevance of the theft of two knives from the mess hall ...."

"Ah. Yes. Well, don't you see, no I guess you don't see." Neelix regrouped. "There has been considerable talk in the mess hall
and I suspect all over the ship concerning the events of yesterday. Feelings are running high."

Tuvok frowned. He had not sufficiently anticipated that the mostly human crew would act like, well, humans. "What kind of
talk, Mr. Neelix?"

Over the next few minutes, Neelix replayed for the Vulcan some of the more inflammatory statements that he'd heard, some
against Janeway and some against Paris. "Naturally, I'm very distressed by all this. But the theft of two large, very sharp carving
knives, concerns me."

"Yes, I can see that." And he did see. Mixing high feelings with potentially lethal weapons was not a good combination for the
security and safety of the ship's crew. 

"Well, I just thought you should know."

"You were right, this is something that should come to my attention."

Neelix beamed at the rare praise from the security officer. "I will continue to ... to monitor crew sentiments."

"A good idea, Mr. Neelix."

When the Talaxian left to return to the mess hall, Tuvok didn't give a second thought to alerting the Acting Captain. The
potential for a hostile, divided crew had never been higher than since the beginning of their journey together.


"Come on, Tom, I know you're in there," B'Elanna demanded through the door to his quarters. Finally, her limited patience
snapped and she simply overrode his security lock and entered his dark quarters. She called Tom's name a few times and
received no answer. When she asked that the lights be raised to fifty percent she was able to make out his sleeping form, back
to her, on his bed.

Her well developed sense of smell kicked into high gear as she tried to identify the faint odors on the way over to the pilot's
bed. By the time she reached his side, she had recognized alcohol and vomit, but their faintness told her that those odors were
old. At his bed, she identified sweat and a hint of some kind of pharmaceutical. Sure enough, a used hypospray rested on his
bedside table.

"Hey, Tom." She reached out and rolled him over onto his back. At first she wasn't alarmed, he was simply deeply asleep. But
as she looked at his face, smelled the drug on his breath, noticed a faint blueness of his lips, she became alarmed. "Tom? Come
on, Tom."

When she wasn't able to awaken him, she commed the doctor who ordered a beam-out of Paris to sickbay. B'Elanna was
instructed to bring the hypospray and any information from the computer as to the drug Tom had used. 

She arrived at sickbay to find Tom on a biobed, the doctor scanning him with a tricorder. Comparing notes, they found Tom
had had the alcohol in his blood stream only partially neutralized by a dose of inoprovalene, but then he'd injected the sedative
without taking into account that there was still some unneutralized alcohol in his system acting as a CNS depressant. Together,
the two had produced the deep state of unconsciousness that B'Elanna had found him in. 

"Will he be all right?"

"As soon as I put together an appropriate antidote. And revoke his replicator privileges as a medic."

"Damn the man."

As he worked the doctor observed, "I gather you wanted to see him on a matter of some urgency?"

"If kicking his butt qualifies, then yeah." 

There was no grin to accompany that comment. Finding him out of reach of whatever it was she had wanted to say to him just
put her out of sorts even more. And interestingly, she had enough detachment to monitor her own reactions. She recognized her
anger with him for this stunt, even if the doc determined it to be an accident. But where she once would have felt something
*for* him, she found that this time she didn't. Instead, there was just the anger side by side with the empty futility of it all. 

"I'm going on duty," she announced abruptly and whirled out of sickbay. The doctor could just take care of Tom Paris from
now on. 


Chakotay and Tuvok went over Neelix's information along with that of other security officers that Tuvok had contacted.
Chakotay knew that he and Tuvok shared a concern for the potential violence that seemed to simmer under the surface of the
crew's upset over the recent events. Before they could begin to discuss options, the holodoc commed Chakotay.

Both heard the doctor notify Chakotay that his presence was required in sickbay. As he was leaving the conference room,
Chakotay directed, "Stay on top of this, Tuvok. I'll get back to you as soon as I can."


Seven of Nine stood in front of her captain, her arms behind her back, her stance stiff. She did not understand why the captain
had summoned her, but she had complied with the order. Despite all their conflicts over the past year, this was the woman who
had rescued her from the Borg. Seven had come to appreciate what it meant to have her humanity restored to her. 

However, this woman before her seemed very different from the variations on Kathryn Janeway that she had encountered
before. With disheveled hair, narrowed eyes, and tightly controlled body movements she seemed more like the Steth-inhabited
woman who had knocked her out in the shuttle than she did the mentor and mother-figure Seven more often encountered.
"What is it you want?"

"Sound out the women on this ship, one by one, privately, find out what they're thinking about all this."

"By *this*, I presume you mean your removal from the captaincy?" 

"Of course, Seven."

"I do not understand."

Janeway paced in front of her. "What? Do I have to spell it out? I want to know how many women are on my side."

"Just women?"

"Yes! I'm a woman, you're a woman, this was done by men to women. Don't you see?"

Seven wasn't sure what she saw other than a possibly deranged mind. "I shall take it under advisement."

"No. I want you to *do* it. I want a full report tonight."

Tilting her head to the side, Seven regarded the captain. There was something wrong here, Seven realized, even though she
wasn't sure what it was. Deliberately ambiguous in her choice of words, Seven replied, "I shall report tonight."

"Good. Dismissed."

Seven left the captain's quarters and decided on a detour to sickbay before she returned to her duties in Astrometrics. 


Both Chakotay and Seven arrived simultaneously at sickbay and walked side-by-side through the doors to the doctor's
location. The holodoc looked up in surprise at the two visitors. Something inside him fired up at the sight of Seven, but he
turned off that piece of programming as inappropriate to the moment. Clearly, from her expression, this wasn't a social visit on
her part. However, he had asked the commander to report here and he acknowledged both, "Commander, Seven. Seven, if
this isn't an emergency, I need to speak to the commander -- " he paused to correct himself, " -- to the Acting Captain for a
few moments."

"Certainly," she replied while noticing that Tom Paris occupied the biobed next to the doctor. The pilot's condition was not
readily apparent to her inquiring eyes and the doctor nodded to her as she stepped back towards his office. "However, it is
fortunate that both of you are here. When you have concluded your business, I would like to speak to both of you."

"Fine," Chakotay told her.

The holodoc held the tricorder's readings up to Chakotay's eyes. But the man simply shook his head, his eyes taking in first
Tom, then the tricorder, then the doctor. "What's going on?"

The doctor explained quickly as Tom listened, for once silently. In fact, since awakening and having his condition explained to
him, the pilot had been very quiet, as if shocked into an unnatural silence. He still wore the sweat pants and t-shirt he'd worn to
bed, now stained with dried perspiration. Although all the drugs had been purged from his system, he seemed defeated and

Turning his attention back to Chakotay, it appeared to the doctor's discerning eye that the Acting Captain had understood
clearly what he'd explained. 

"Accidental overdose," Chakotay summarized.

"Yes. Apparently." 

Tom finally chimed in, his voice sarcastic. "Yes, doctor, it was an accident. It was the middle of the night and ...."

"We understand, Mr. Paris," the doctor interrupted. Tom glared at him.

Chakotay turned to Paris, "Tom?"

"I just wanted to get some sleep. I thought I asked for the correct dosage."

Chakotay looked at the doctor, "Under normal circumstances, would the dosage have been correct?"


"Sounds like an accident to me."

"Captain, there was a pattern to Paris' actions last night. And, quite frankly, I'm alarmed."

Chakotay explained, "Tom had a tough day. He got drunk, his friend came along and tried to sober him up, then he couldn't
sleep and took a normal dose hypospray only there was still too much alcohol in his system."

"After what this man went through yesterday, don't you think someone should be counseling him?"

"What?" Tom protested.

Chakotay looked thoughtful. The doctor wasn't sure what the man saw when he so obviously scrutinized the pilot with a gaze
that seemed concerned, if not possessive. "You're right, doctor. Unfortunately, we have our hands full right now."

"I can download some counseling programs."

"Do it."

"But I can't guarantee that they'll help."

"No," Tom told them, sitting up on the biobed. "I don't want him counseling me. I mean, half the time he's my boss."

"I can't do it," Chakotay admitted without explaining himself. "Perhaps Tuvok ...."

"Look, just leave me alone for awhile. I'll be fine. I always am."

"No, Tom, you won't be fine," Chakotay contradicted.

Tom challenged him back. "How would you know?"

"Do you want me to go into things here?" 

"Is that a threat?"

The doctor stepped into the escalating exchange, not quite understanding it, but recognizing that there was something between
the two men that probably should remain private unless it put the ship at risk, which didn't seem likely. "Mr. Paris, no one is
threatening you. Not in my sickbay." He directed the latter remark to Chakotay who nodded silently.

The sickbay doors slid open and B'Elanna beat a path to the biobed, surprising all three men. 


The doctor noted Tom's smile and her fury and stepped between the chief engineer and the pilot. Perhaps he had spoken too
soon about no one threatening Paris in sickbay. B'Elanna pushed around the doctor. "Tom, it's over. I've put your things back
in your quarters."

"Wait! What's this all about?" Tom asked, clearly confused.

Both Chakotay and the doctor stepped back to let the drama play out. 

"I can't ... we can't be together anymore. That's all I have to say."

"But ... ?" 

She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and looked directly at Tom. "It's over, flyboy. I've had time to think about
things and I can't be with someone who would just up and leave me for ... for a fantasy."

Stunned, eyes blurred, Tom waved a hand at her as if asking her to wait. "Why?"

"I told you why. I have to go."


She turned to leave, took a few steps, then looked back at him. "I'm sorry, Tom."

With that she was out the door.

Only the background sounds of the ship running at slow warp could be heard for a few moments. The doctor noted the way his
patient's respiration had increased, his heart rate had shot up, his face had flushed to a summery pink. For his part, the Acting
Captain seemed torn by sympathy and some other feeling that the doctor couldn't identify. 

Clearing his throat as if the interruption had never occurred, the holodoc spoke to Paris. "Now then, Commander Tuvok will be
your counselor unless he has some objection. I will speak to him and he will comm you to set up your first appointment. In the
meantime, clean up, replicate some fresh clothes, and someone will escort you to your quarters."

Even though Tom's body hadn't yet recovered from B'Elanna's visit, nonetheless, he had the presence of mind to object to the
doctor's decision. "No. Not Tuvok." Tom appealed to Chakotay, "He beat me."

Chakotay took that under advisement. "You need someone. What just happened ...."

"Neelix," Tom said uncertainly. 

The doctor cleared his throat once again. Neelix was not on his approved list. "I must object, although Mr. Neelix is
good-hearted, he is hardly trained ... "

"Neelix," Tom insisted.

The doctor checked with the Acting Captain who nodded. After a quick look at the tricorder that indicated Tom's vital signs
had more or less returned to normal, he capitulated on the choice of counselor. "Very well, I'll contact Mr. Neelix. Now, you're
free to return to your quarters. And, Mr. Paris, when you need a sleep aid, contact me."

The look Tom gave both the holodoc and Chakotay was unreadable, but he dropped off the biobed and went to the replicator.
While he finished dressing behind a privacy screen, the doctor and first officer located Seven in the doctor's office. 

The doctor asked her what brought her to sickbay. 

"It's the captain. She is acting strangely."

The two men exchanged worried glances. "How so?" Chakotay asked.

"She seems to believe that there is some antagonism going on between the men and women of the ship. She pointed out that the
men of the ship had taken away her command and she wanted me to question the women as to their views of the situation."

Chakotay looked shocked by her information, almost as if he'd been betrayed. The doctor thanked Seven for coming forward,
then asked, "And what will you do?"

"I will await orders from the officer in charge. However, I came to sickbay because her condition appeared to be so ...

"Well, as the Acting Captain," Chakotay began, "I appreciate your bringing this to our attention. I do not want you going
around asking the women on this ship anything about the situation that occurred yesterday. There is apparently enough conflict
already over what happened without bringing gender into it. Let me assure you, if Janeway had been a man, I would have done
the same thing that I did, and I believe Tuvok would have backed me up just as he did."

"I believe that to be true," Seven agreed. "Is there anything you wish me to tell her when I report to the captain this evening?"

"You won't be reporting to her. The doctor is going to see her now."

"Fine." With a nod of her head, Seven abruptly turned on her heel and left.

Tom Paris, dressed, shaved, his hair finger combed, appeared between the doctor and the commander. "What was that all

"Something the doctor and I will take care of," Chakotay sighed. "Let's get you back to your quarters."

With a leer, Tom taunted, "Walking me back to my room *again*?"

"As many times as it takes," Chakotay shot back, but with a grin. To the doctor he directed, "Go see her, doctor. I'll expect a
full report."

"I'll comm for one of the backup medics and then go." If a hologram had emotions, then the doctor was definitely feeling dread
at his upcoming house call. "I'll get to Mr. Neelix when I'm done."

"Fine." Chakotay lightly touched Tom's arm. "Let's go."


On the walk to Tom's cabin, Chakotay was acutely aware of the surprisingly silent man beside him. Tom's lack of chatter was
all right. There were so many things Chakotay had to sort out, the reports on the crew's anger and potential for violence, the
obvious impairment of the captain, and not the least, the condition of the younger man who'd had to be beamed to sickbay
when he couldn't be awakened and who had just been publicly dumped by his girlfriend.

As they walked the corridors, Chakotay alternated his attention between awareness of Tom Paris beside him and the reactions
of the crew to their presence. There were some strong reactions. A few smiled, one actually gave a thumbs up. But others wore
Klingon-fierce scowls. Two men from maintenance 'accidently' bumped into Tom, sending him reeling into Chakotay. The
crewmen apologized, their nonverbal signals contradicting their conciliatory words with raw aggression. Chakotay was about to
challenge them when Tom braced a hand against his shoulder. "Forget it. No harm done."

The men were gone before Chakotay could make up his mind. At the least, he was distracted by the heat of Tom's hand resting
on his shoulder. "Fine."

Inside Tom's quarters, Chakotay couldn't suppress the insistent image of Tom pinned under him, being taken, Paris' body hot
and writhing in pleasure. Contradicting those intense mind pictures, he calmly asked, "Are you going to be all right now?"

Bitterly, Tom responded with, "Compared to what?" 

"I'm sure Neelix will be able to help you."

Chakotay watched Tom's blue eyes dart around the cabin, then settle for an inspection of the floor by his feet. "Why can't you?
Why did you say you couldn't?"

Chakotay was startled by the mix of emotions in Tom's voice: anguish, challenge, confusion, and hurt. "I ... I can't."

"Why not?"

This time Tom looked at him, the same feelings on his face as in his voice. Softly, to lessen the obvious pain his earlier decision
had caused, Chakotay explained, "I find that I care about you."

Clearly, nothing he could have said would have shocked Tom more. Shaking his head, Tom stumbled backwards towards his
couch. Hitting it with the backs of his legs, he sank into the cushion. "You *care* about me?"


End Part 5

Part 6

The mess hall lunch crowd sat in tense, hunched groups talking among themselves. Harry overheard snatches as he pondered
the featured selections of the day. 

"Paris tried to kill himself. Too bad he didn't succeed."

"Torres broke up with him."

"I hear the Acting Captain had to take him back to his quarters."

"Someone should finish the job."

"No one's seen Captain Janeway. Makes you wonder what the commanders have done to her."

With a troubled glance around the room, Harry finally settled for a table to himself. He could still hear his fellow diners trading
gossip and speculation and anger. Unfortunately, he couldn't help wondering what was actually true and what wasn't. The bit
about Tom trying to kill himself had gotten his attention and he tried to dismiss it as an exaggerated version of Tom's having
gotten drunk. But no one knew about that except himself. 

The food wasn't sitting well and he sent what was left into the recycler. As Harry left the mess hall, he vowed to find out what
was going on before his lunch period was over. The most direct course was to find Tom Paris and to ask him.


Kathryn organized her notes on the PADD. Although she'd instructed Seven to survey the women on the ship, she found herself
compelled to conduct her own research. So far her comms to various female Starfleet officers had not gained her the
information she had hoped to hear. Oh, some of it was encouraging. Enough of her old crew were so incensed at the way she'd
been replaced by the former Maquis Captain that they could be readily manipulated into acting as she directed.

It was a start. But so far they were too few to insure the restoration of her captaincy. Not without violence. And if it came to
that, she'd volunteer to lead the cause. Those men were not going to get away with the humiliation they had caused her. Not
without a fight.


Tom stared at the Acting Captain for a moment. For some unfathomable reason Chakotay had declared that he cared about
him. With a brittle laugh, Tom demanded, "Are you nuts?"

At the hurt expression that appeared momentarily on Chakotay's face, Tom realized that he'd probably just blown any chance
of receiving continuing concern from the man. "Um, I didn't mean that."

Chakotay rocked back on his heels, then crossed the room to sit next to Tom on the couch, sweeping off a small stack of
clothing and toiletries that B'Elanna must have left earlier. His other arm reached across the back of the couch almost touching
Tom's shoulder. "Look, I know you've got to be upset about B'Elanna ...."

Tom gazed at his scattered belongings, now littering the floor. He concluded that the mess resembled his life. "Yeah. Well."

"She meant a lot to you."

Without looking at Chakotay Tom listed the people who fit that category, "B'Elanna, Janeway. They all meant a lot. So did my
acceptance by the crew. Now, I'm back to where I was five years ago when everyone hated me."

"Those crewmen shouldn't have -- "

"No," Tom interrupted, "I don't blame them. I let the whole ship down. And for what?"

He didn't understand why he was opening up like this, maybe those crewmen who'd bumped into him in the corridor had
affected him more than he thought it had at the time. It did remind him of the hostility and outright physical violence he'd
endured in those early months. But a more cynical voice surfaced and whispered that he'd do almost anything, even reveal
himself in exchange for a few unsupported words of affection.

And B'Elanna ... geez, he never thought she'd just dump him like that. No discussion, no talking over their options, just "it's
over" and she was gone. Damn. He needed to make his chin stay still, his lips stop moving over each other, his eyes had to dry
up. Dammit, he couldn't fall apart now. But he was and he couldn't help it. Chakotay had to go and say he cared about him.
How the hell could he keep up his front in the face of genuine concern? 

"Tom, it's okay, let it out."

He shook his head, no way was he going to cry or break down now. No fucking way. 

"What do you need?" Chakotay's soft voice was like a caress. His fingers had found Tom's shoulder muscle and were kneading
it gently. 

Yep. That's what it took, a kindly touch and he'd give it all away. "I've screwed up everything. Gods, I always do," he cried,
finally losing the battle to stay in control.

Chakotay pulled Tom's face into his chest and held him in a hug as he let out the hopelessness and despair in great gulping sobs.
As much as Tom wanted to fight against the misery that consumed him, he found Chakotay's broad expanse to be the kind of
warm haven he needed but would never let himself accept. Until now. 

The door chime rang and before Tom could recover enough to be presentable, Harry burst in. "Tom. Uh, Commander, I mean,
Captain. I'll just go ...."

"Hold it, Harry," Chakotay ordered before the ensign could leave. "What do you want?"

Pulling away from Tom, and stepping out into the room to meet Harry by the door, Chakotay blocked Harry's view of Tom.
Paris took the opportunity to pull himself together and to wipe his face with one of the pieces of clothing B'Elanna had returned.
He wasn't sure he was going to succeed, but he didn't want Harry leaving with the image of him crying his eyes out in
Chakotay's arms.

"Look, I just wanted to see Tom. I heard some things."

Tom stepped up to the two men. Coughing to clear his throat, he tried for a steady, normal voice. "What'd you hear?"

"B'Elanna broke up with you?" Harry looked from one man to the other as if torn between leaving and satisfying his curiosity.


"I'm sorry, Tom, I really am."

"Yeah. Thanks, Har." As much as he'd tried to control his voice, it cracked, and caused Harry to eye him carefully,

"What else?" Chakotay asked. 

"A lot of talk in the mess hall about Tom."

Clearly, Harry didn't want to say what else he'd heard. Tom prompted, "So, what's worse than B'Elanna dumping me?"

"Tom," he finally looked at Tom, but then quickly shifted his eyes away. "They ... I heard someone say you tried to kill

"Not true."

"Then, I don't understand ... ?"

Chakotay stepped in, a hand on Harry's shoulder. "There's bound to be a lot of gossip right now. Tom didn't try to kill himself."

Harry's dark eyes beseeched Tom. He had to recognize that Tom had been crying. "You wouldn't lie about that?"

"No," Tom decided he should answer for himself. "No. I -- uh -- I did something stupid. I took a hypospray to help me sleep
and it worked too well 'cause I wasn't completely sobered up when I took it."

"But you're all right?"

"Yeah." Confused, Harry turned to go but Tom reached out a hand to stop him. "Harry, what you saw here ... it wasn't what
you might think."

"Oh? You and the ... Captain Chakotay holding each other wasn't what I thought it was?" The ensign sounded angry.

"Tom was upset," Chakotay explained. "I was offering comfort."

"Okay. I gotta get back to the bridge. I'm on shift." Harry couldn't leave fast enough.

After Harry left, Tom turned to the man beside him. "*Did* something happen?"

Chakotay gave a rueful grin, "I think Harry believes so."

"Oh, shit." Tom didn't know what to do. He wanted to follow Harry and explain to him that he really had been doing something
as embarrassing as literally crying on Chakotay's shoulder. Nothing more. But he couldn't leave. There was an invisible, but
powerful and urgent connection between himself and Chakotay. 

So, maybe it had been what it'd seemed. If you couldn't touch someone without an excuse, well, unwittingly sobbing in his
embrace could break through that barrier. He wondered if sharing sex could be less intimate than sharing his tears.

Chakotay pulled Tom to him and gave him a soft kiss on his forehead. "It's all right. I think you needed to do that." For awhile
there was a comfortable silence between them. "But ... if I told you about all the things I've been thinking, Harry could have
walked in on a lot worse."

Startled, Tom stepped back and looked at Chakotay's grin. "Oh, man. So-o, what have you been thinking?"

The gleam in the man's dark eyes jumped out at Tom. Although he wondered if he should be alarmed, somehow, there was a
reassuring warmth coupled with the unmistakable look of lust. "Chakotay?"

Chakotay touched his forehead to Tom's, his arms pulling him in closer. After a few stumbling steps, Tom found himself
engulfed in Chakotay's arms. "I don't think you're ready for what I'm thinking."

Hesitantly, Tom placed his hands around Chakotay's waist, not sure what he was supposed to do with them otherwise. Leave
his hands dangling at his sides? "I'm a big boy, Chakotay."

"Relationships on the rebound are not a good idea." 

"Who says I'm rebounding?" Tom challenged. 

Chakotay's hand wove through the hair at the back of his head, breath eased hotly across Tom's face. "Do I have to remind
you of what Harry just interrupted?"

"You haven't said ... what *could* he have interrupted?" Tom persisted. He wanted to know what this man was thinking. 

"Unfortunately, I don't have time to tell you or properly show you."

"Oh?" Tom kidded, "Geez, I may end up on the rebound -- again."

"On the other hand, perhaps a brief demonstration." Chakotay pulled him close once again, so close that their bodies touched
at chests and hips, and then planted a firm kiss on his lips. Surprised, Tom resisted and the man let him go. "I'm sorry. Maybe
this isn't such a good idea."

"No. No. I -- I was just surprised." Under Chakotay's careful scrutiny, Tom blushed. "Um. I liked that."

"You did? It didn't ... "

"I did. Show me more?"

Chakotay seemed to believe him. Finally. But, unfortunately, the Acting Captain surfaced and spoiled the moment by saying,
"We should be talking, Tom. I'm the captain now and you're ...."

Tom just gave him an exasperated pout and Chakotay's response was to grin so widely that his dimples dug ditches in his
cheeks. He warned, "All right. We can talk later. But, this is going to be brief and frustrating."

The words floated to him on one level, but on another level Tom was affected by the man's closeness, his breathing, his
glittering dark eyes. He knew these cues were drawing him in and as long as this was about lust, at least on his own part, he
believed he could handle it. He silenced the cynical suggestion that his response was just a rebound reaction.

Tom gave a tiny jump when Chakotay placed a hand to his t-shirted chest and began to propel him backwards once again
towards the couch. The man's power derived from some unseen generator that pumped heat and energy from Chakotay's palm
into Tom's body. 

The heavier man quickly followed Tom onto the couch and lay full length on top of him, his mouth pressing kisses along Tom's
neck, his hands stroking Paris' body. After a full lip-locked exchange that Tom made sure took great effort to break, Chakotay
pulled up a little. Then, with Tom's cooperation, he quickly flipped Tom onto his stomach and again pressed his weight and
prominent parts of his body into complementary places. 

Tom detected teeth that took small pockets of flesh between them and tugged, then a tongue licked over the almost-bruised
tissue. Eventually, Chakotay found another target along Tom's neck to torture and anoint. A larger area felt relentless sucking,
so much so that Tom knew the little blood vessels under the skin had broken, leaving him marked. Tom couldn't help the moans
that only served to egg the man on leaving these mounds of throbbing flesh in his wake. 

When Chakotay stopped suctioning his skin, Tom wondered if he could handle the loss. But then he felt a thrust of a pelvis into
the small, tight area between his legs. Tom took this as a signal, even an order, to move his thighs apart as much as the couch
and Chakotay's weight would allow. Chakotay humped him continuously. In between thrusts, Chakotay whispered into his ear,
his breath a sensual tickle on sensitive skin, "You're mine, Tom Paris. I claim you."

The groan from Tom was meant to let the man on top of him know that he accepted the claim and wanted more. Then,
abruptly, Chakotay let him go. With what Tom hoped was an affectionate, but nonetheless sharp smack to Tom's hip,
Chakotay stood up. Turning on his side, Tom gazed unselfconsciously upwards at that imposing body and tried to catch his

To his satisfaction, Tom found that Chakotay was breathing just as hard as he was, and from the look of him, was just as
interested in the fully-clothed encounter as he had been. Chakotay seemed able to bring himself under quick control despite
Tom's best attempt to look wanton and waiting. Shaking his head, but with a wide grin, Chakotay said, "Sorry, Tom. But hold
that position. When I'm off tonight I'd like to come back here and ... "

A little breathless, Tom interrupted, grinned back, and inquired with a waggle of his eyebrows, "And?"

The man leaned down so that his mouth was close to Tom's ear. A hand stroked the bare flesh under Tom's t-shirt with
fingertips like flying embers. A soft voice told him, "Where do you like to be licked, touched, poked, slapped, nipped, bitten,
smacked, kissed? What will you look like when I take you *on* and *over* every piece of furniture in this cabin?" 

Tom groaned, knowing that, as threatened, this had been too brief and way too frustrating.

Chakotay stood over him, shifting into his captain persona. With all trace of the recent seductiveness gone, a little enigmatically,
the Acting Captain informed him, "The doctor thought you might need to take a nap this afternoon." After a pause and a long
stare at Tom's body, he added, "And I think you should follow his advice. I know it'll probably be a first for you. But you're
going to need your strength."

Tom blinked, trying to regain control over his reactions, When he opened his eyes, Chakotay was heading for the door. "Um,

A dark head turned around. "Yes?"

"I'm not the only one who's going to need his strength."

With a laugh, Chakotay was out the door. 

"Oh-h, shit." Tom moaned as he flopped onto his back. It wouldn't take much for him to take care of the longing Chakotay's
demonstration had created. But he wanted Chakotay to be the one who took care of that. In truth, he wanted everything the
other man had promised. And all of the things that had only been implied.


One of her informants had told Kathryn that B'Elanna Torres had broken up with the disgraced pilot. After mulling it over,
probably for far too long, but she'd been visited by that officious piece of walking software called a doctor, she commed the
chief engineer. Although Torres sounded harried -- and when hadn't she acted that way? -- she agreed to meet with Janeway. 

It was a long fifteen minutes before B'Elanna arrived. Knowing that the engineer would hate small talk, Janeway immediately
gave her the pitch. "I'm not happy about what's happened. I wondered how you felt about all this."

"So you've heard that I broke up with Tom?"

"Good move. He's unreliable, he'd just break your heart."

"Yeah. Well, he had his good points." 

Immediately, Kathryn switched gears, she didn't want to force B'Elanna into defending her former lover. "What he did is an old
story. What Chakotay and Tuvok have done to me is something else again."

"Why am I here?" B'Elanna asked with her customary directness.

"I want my ship back."

"I'm sure this is just temporary," the engineer temporized. 

"What if it isn't? Do you really think Chakotay should be in charge of this ship? You saw him on the bridge. He's a coward. He
wouldn't take his turn punishing Paris. But you did. Even poor Harry did. Chakotay's not fit to run a ship like this the way it has
to be run, don't you agree?"

The smaller woman's eyes were dark and unreadable. "I'm not sure that I do agree. He was a good captain when I was in the

"But you were there yesterday. His actions were cowardly, B'Elanna."

"No. I don't see it that way."

"Then how do you see it?" Janeway wasn't happy at the way Torres was defending the former first officer.

"All right. I agree that Tom's actions with the Delta Flyer were wrong. Some kind of punishment for him was warranted."

Janeway made her voice silky and surprised, "But not a bare-assed whipping?"

"I know it's Starfleet's way to use corporal punishment. And it was used in the Maquis, too."

"Then what's the problem, B'Elanna?" Janeway sensed that Torres was becoming confused and tried to press her advantage.
"Don't you agree that I'm Captain?"

"Yes. I think of you as the captain."

"Then, I can count on your help if I need it?" The chief engineer was frowning. "I'm going to need your help, B'Elanna. I want to
know if I have your loyalty. Paris let you down, but I never will."

"Okay. If that's all you wanted, I've got to go."

"Thank you, B'Elanna, I knew I could count on you."

After Torres left, Janeway decided that this was one crew member she would have to put in the maybe column. B'Elanna's
agreement to help had come too easily, probably spoken only so she could return to engineering. Clearly Torres had some of
her Maquis loyalties still intact. 


Once he'd eaten a quick sandwich, cleaned up the belongings that B'Elanna had returned, and tried to recover his equilibrium
after Chakotay's seduction, Tom lay down wearily on his couch. Although he'd intended to read a PADD for awhile, he
experienced surprise at how tired he felt. But as he thought it through, his previous day's humiliation, his actual crying on
Chakotay's shoulder, and then the *almost* sex he'd *almost* had with the man, hell, a lot had accumulated. No wonder he
was drained and exhausted. 

He ordered the lights at five percent and pulled a throw over him. The memory of Chakotay's words placed a smile on his lips
as his eyes closed. After fighting it for awhile, Tom finally found himself falling asleep on his couch.

He was deeply asleep when a loud commotion just inside his door jarred him to partial alertness. He searched his chest to no
avail for his comm badge when he saw dark, human shapes moving in his quarters. That futile exploration took precious
moments and just as he called, "Computer," someone clipped him on the jaw. 

He fell back on the couch, stunned for a moment, his jaw sending lightning bolts of pain through his head. He struggled to get
past the hands holding him down. Squirming, he managed to slide onto the floor where he tried to lurch free of the arms and
legs that reached for him. There was a heavy blow to his shoulder that sent him face down on the floor, then hands brought his
body up for other fists to smash against his face, his stomach. So many places on his body called for immediate relief from the
devastating pain. But there was no aid, only unrelenting agony.

A booted foot kicked his thigh, barely missing his crotch. Despite the miss, the blow hurt like hell and he instinctively reached
for the shocked area with his hands. Those arms were pulled away into strong grips that left his body open and vulnerable to his
other attackers. With waning strength, he tried to call again to the computer, but another strike at his head knocked him almost
senseless. The hands let him fall again to the floor and more boots connected with his sides, his legs. Darkness swelled around
him, then receded. But a kick to his head painfully jolted the darkness into embracing him fully. 

End Part 6

Part 7

The conference room held a meeting of the senior staff, minus Janeway and minus Paris. Due to the seriousness of the situation,
the doctor appeared in person. Even Neelix and Seven were present. Harry fidgeted and wouldn't look Chakotay in the eye.
Again. B'Elanna also twitched in her seat. Her gaze rested on all the officers and advisors in a random pattern. Tuvok simply
looked in turn at each speaker who held the floor.

Chakotay began by addressing the doctor. "Doctor, tell all of us what you found."

"Captain Janeway is more seriously impaired than originally showed up on my scans."

At this, B'Elanna gave him her full attention, wondering if anyone was monitoring the captain's visitors. "How do you mean?"

"She is delusional. When I examined her a short while ago, she was unable to mask the paranoid thoughts that make up her
delusion. I've recommended she undergo immediate treatment. The biochemical imbalance that is evident can be redressed."

"Involuntarily?" B'Elanna wanted to know. Her own forced treatment remained a vivid and horrific memory.

"Her paranoia believes any effort to help her is part of the conspiracy to harm her."

"Doctor, are you saying she believes we are all against her?" Chakotay asked.

"All the men are. Yes."

The Acting Captain nodded. "That explains it." At the looks he garnered from those around the table, Chakotay elaborated, "I
asked for her help and I believed she pledged to do what she could to let tensions die down. She promised to help herself so
that she could be returned to the captaincy. But then Seven came forward ... "

"Seven?" B'Elanna interjected.

"The captain asked me to quiz the female crew members as to their sentiments on her removal." Seven revealed.

B'Elanna was on the verge of letting them know about her summons to Janeway's quarters, when Harry spoke up. "Does she
really see some kind of male conspiracy?"

"Indeed," Seven replied.

"Maybe there is one," Harry muttered.

At Chakotay's dark look, Harry stared down at the table top, his forefinger tracing a random pattern. Chakotay decided to get
it out in the open. He knew that secrecy would eventually snare all of them in paranoid fantasies to one degree or another. In a
gentle tone, he urged, "Harry, it's okay, you can tell them."

Mumbling at the table top, he revealed, "I saw Tom and Captain Chakotay in an embrace. Tom had been crying."

Shocked looks came from Neelix and B'Elanna. More than shock registered on B'Elanna's face, anger and betrayal appeared
as well. "What the hell!" she exploded.

"He was upset," Chakotay explained firmly. "You had just broken up with him. But, I will admit there may be more between us.
At least I hope so."

"You?! How dare you? He's mine!" She practically leaped across the table at Chakotay.

Silently, Harry agreed with her. Tom belonged with B'Elanna and he had been sure that once she had calmed down from the
Delta Flyer incident they would have been back together again. And, maybe, Tom Paris would have learned what was valuable
in his life. 

Harry had seen the looks that had been exchanged between Chakotay and Tom even if the parties involved didn't tumble to the
fact that those feelings could be detected. This attraction to Chakotay and this brief walk on the wild side away from B'Elanna
had to be temporary. Harry reasoned that Tom was momentarily grateful to the only person who'd stopped his torture on the
bridge. That was all. Soon Tom would come to his senses.

Tuvok restrained B'Elanna from actually going at the Acting Captain. 

"B'Elanna, if you still believe he's yours, why did you break up with him?" Chakotay's tone was close to scolding. "Don't you
think he's been through enough without your having done that?" And he was going to help Tom overcome all of it.

Dammit, his calm words made sense, but she didn't have to like it. B'Elanna subsided back into her seat and glared at her
Acting Captain. Maybe this wasn't the time to tell them that Janeway had tried to recruit her. 

Tuvok redirected the group's attention to the doctor. "What is involved in helping Captain Janeway?"

"I've detected some subtle alterations in her brain chemistry. A series of hyposprays will gradually restore to normal specific
neurotransmitters targeted to precise locations in her brain. The hyposprays, coupled with my earlier suggestion for a stress
management program, should have her back to her usual, competent self." The doctor's effort to appear smug and sure of
himself fell flat. He quickly noticed the skeptical and even hostile glances of the others. "What?"

"Suppose she doesn't agree to the treatment?" Chakotay wondered.

"It needs to be done. This isn't going to suddenly clear up on its own."

"What brought it on?" Tuvok asked.

"Stress and genetics."

That hit home. Chakotay's own genetic background predisposed him to a form of imbalance if his faulty gene ever became
active. "How do we convince her to accept treatment?" 

"Do we want to?" B'Elanna challenged, more to be in opposition to Chakotay than to take up Janeway's cause. And there was
an important principle involved concerning self-determination of health decisions.

"Doctor, have you broached the treatment regime to her?" Tuvok wanted to know.

"Of course. And she determined that it was a plot by the males of this ship to harm her further. In short, she said no."

"Suppose she's right?" Harry spoke up without looking at Chakotay. "Maybe Captain Chakotay took over Voyager because
that way he could have Tom for himself without having her tell him it was wrong."

"Is that right, Chakotay?" B'Elanna demanded.

"No. Of course not. And I would not have taken over had I not had the backing of the other officers on the ship." If he
sounded a little testy, so be it. He'd had no conscious intention of winning over Tom Paris by his actions. "Furthermore, any
attraction I have to Paris came afterwards, not before."

Harry had the good grace to blush. "I owe you an apology."

"Yes. You do." Chakotay stared at the ensign until Harry finally looked up at him. 

"I apologize."

"Apology accepted."

"This is such a difficult time," Neelix spoke up. "The crew are in conflict about what has happened. It just isn't right for the
senior officers to be suspicious of each other."

"No. It isn't," Seven agreed. "If there is a way to restore the Captain to her rightful health, then we should do it. After all, she
did it to me. She claimed I could not make that determination for myself. She was correct."

"The Captain is not a Borg," B'Elanna explained self-righteously. "Furthermore, she is a grown woman who should be able to
decide for herself whether she wants the treatment or not. She knows the consequence is that she doesn't regain her captaincy.
It's her decision to make." Sotto voce, she added, "Even if she didn't give me the same choice."

"Tuvok?" asked Chakotay of the chief of security. He ran a hand over his face, wondering if this meeting would ever reach a

Tuvok turned to the holodoc with a question of his own. "Untreated, what is the probability of her being capable of making a
rational choice?"

"Less than 25%."

"At what level of probability do others step in and make decisions for a person? At 33%? At 8%?"

"There are no hard and fast rules on that, Mr. Tuvok," the holodoctor replied.

"Then by what process do we determine that we have the right to countermand her decision concerning herself just because we
believe it to be the wrong one?"

"But this isn't only about Captain Janeway," Neelix protested. "This is about the whole ship. All of us are affected by this

"Are you arguing for going against her wishes, Neelix?" Chakotay wondered.

"Yes," the Talaxian said decisively. "We -- all of us -- need the real Captain Janeway restored to us. Some of the crew are
threatening violence."

"I've already seen a little of it," Chakotay said as he recalled the incident in the corridor where Tom had been jostled. However,
those had been male crew members, not female ones. It was hard to see how those men fit into Janeway's male conspiracy
theory. "Tuvok, what's your assessment of the threat level on the ship?"

"Very high, actually. Captain Janeway has had various female crew members in her cabin, she's commed many others." Politely,
Tuvok declined to look at a squirming Lt. Torres.

"And she wanted to know about still others," Seven reminded them. 

"I believe she is gathering her supporters for an imminent conflict."

"And, she may have some of the men going along with her. Well, if what I hear in the mess hall is any indication of crew
feelings," Neelix reported. "There seems to be a good deal of animosity toward Tom Paris right now. Some believe he
endangered the lives of everyone on the ship with his disobedience."

Chakotay let them know, "I believe Tom regrets what he did. Neelix, you were going to speak to Tom. Is that how you see it?"

A little embarrassed, the drafted, would-be counselor confessed, "I haven't been able to reach Tom. The computer was in
privacy mode and wouldn't disturb him."

"He was going to rest. I guess I'm not surprised you haven't talked to him yet." In his mind's eye, Chakotay remembered the
young man he'd left several hours earlier: flushed, tired, and beautiful. "Well, there's still the problem of what to do about
Janeway. I think Neelix's argument is well taken. She is important to all of us, and this impairment has both removed her from
us and robbed her of the ability to make a reasoned choice. 

"Doctor, go ahead with your treatment. Perhaps you can find some alternative delivery system. I would hate for you to have to
restrain her in order to press a hypospray against her neck."

It was as if the doctor wasn't listening to his words. The hologram's head was cocked to one side attending to something else to
which they were not privy. 


Startled, the doctor scrambled to his feet. "Something's wrong," he told them.

"What is it?"

"Mr. Paris -- "

"What about Tom?" Chakotay wanted answers right away. He stood facing the hologram, ready for action.

The doctor cleared his throat, demonstrating his displeasure at being interrupted. "As I was saying, Mr. Paris is not in his

"Where is he?" This time an anxious B'Elanna asked the question. 

"Unknown. The computer places his location in his cabin, but that only locates a comm badge. I've accessed the medical
monitors I've had on his quarters, but they report no live or dead body in that cabin. The computer tells me that the monitors
were down briefly about an hour ago."

"And you weren't informed?" Tuvok questioned.

"I should have been. I assume there was considerable tampering." 

Chakotay stepped in. There had been enough talk. "Tuvok, you and the doctor are with me. We'll go to Tom's cabin and see
what there is to see. B'Elanna and Seven, report to Janeway's cabin and keep her company. Considering how she feels about
men, I need you two to go there. Harry, Neelix, round up some crew you can trust and start a ship-wide search for Tom. Stay
in touch, everyone."

Before he'd finished issuing the orders, Chakotay was out the door, Tuvok and the doctor close behind him.


Janeway reviewed her revised list of friends and enemies. Close. When Seven reported to her this evening, she would know for
certain that she had enough supporters to take back the ship. As she considered where B'Elanna's loyalties were likely to fall,
she sipped her ersatz coffee and gazed out the viewscreen. About warp 2, she estimated.

Her door chime rang and Lt. Jerabek from operations announced herself. "Lt. Jerabek."

Welcomed, the lieutenant hastily and stealthily joined Janeway in the cabin."Captain, you've got to come with me."

"Well, as you can see, I've been confined to my quarters. I suspect all kinds of alarms will go off I try to leave." Janeway waved
her arms expansively around the cabin. She calculated that this smart woman from ops would have that little problem figured

"No. It's taken care of."

"And why should I go with you?" It wasn't as if Kathryn herself hadn't cultivated this woman's participation in her coup. She
had. An attractive, dark woman in her middle years, Chalice Jerabek was one of the more reliable crew members, someone
who had served with her for years before Voyager. The woman had no other life but that of the ships on which she was
stationed. She was curious about Jerabek's answer to her question.

"Some of my crew have Paris."

Buying herself a little time, Kathryn repeated his name, then wondered aloud. "Why?"

"He's the enemy. And we happen to have monitored his cabin. Chakotay wants to fuck him."

At that revelation, Kathryn almost lost it. Chakotay was hers to toy with! Just because she never let him in, and never would,
didn't mean he could give up their game and go after others. Especially not Tom-traitor-Paris. "What!"

"It's true."

"Damn him!" Whether she was referring to Chakotay or Paris or both wasn't immediately clear. "And you say you have Paris?"

"Yes. We've got him in Holodeck 2. We think this may be the bargaining chip you need .... "

At Janeway's fury, Jerabek quieted. She wasn't sure if they'd done something wrong in taking Paris or if Janeway was incensed
at Chakotay or what. Recently, the captain hadn't always sounded too balanced on the subject of the men of the ship.

Janeway took a deep breath. It wouldn't do to appear too excitable in front of her crew. She threw on her jacket, fastened it,
set her shoulders straight, and her chin high. Holodeck 2, then. "Let's go."

Before leaving, she removed her comm badge and placed it on her desk. The looming confrontation was just what she needed.
By tonight the ship would be hers. She was sure of it.


Tom slowly drifted back to awareness. The cues from his body were so loud he couldn't tune into any sounds or impressions
from his surroundings. He hurt. No two ways about that. This was definitely not the loving Chakotay had promised him, unless
Chakotay was somehow into giving more pain than he'd let on. His one coherent thought dissolved into threads of disjointed
images. Chakotay on top of him, promising so much pleasure. Then, pain. The older man had smacked him. Hadn't it been
playful? But that wasn't what this was. Not at all. Had Chakotay come back and hit him some more? Had he decided that Tom
Paris deserved the punishment the captain ordered? The darkness was too oppressive to allow enlightenment and he
succumbed to it once more. 


Chakotay prowled Tom's cabin like a warrior seeking the scent of his enemy. The doctor's tricorder wasn't needed to detect
the splattered blood on the carpet and couch. Tom had been attacked. Every protective instinct Chakotay possessed went into
a careful and thorough search for clues. Tuvok and he crossed paths several times with each other and the doctor.

"Where is he!" Chakotay demanded. "Who did this?"

"Four males, all human, were in the cabin," the doctor reported. "The tricorder is detecting minute fragments of different fabrics.
But whoever did this wore gloves and masks. They left no DNA trace evidence."

Tuvok reported, "They disabled the computer, the medical monitors, everything."

"What about Tom's DNA? Can the tricorder track his blood?" 

"As long as he kept bleeding."

The meaning of that statement hit Chakotay so hard his breath whooshed out and he stumbled against the nearest wall.
Recovering quickly, for he had to, Tom's life was at stake, Chakotay pushed himself upright. "Let's track it as far as we can.
Maybe ...."

Both the doctor and Tuvok heard his anguish. They knew he couldn't complete the thought that maybe Tom Paris had bled all
the way to the place where they took him. Reassuringly, the doctor said, "I've set it to follow as long as there is a trail."

Without another word, the men headed out into the corridor following wherever the doctor's tricorder readings took them.
Various crew who encountered the trio in the corridors scattered in the face of the fury that rendered Chakotay's face white, his
tattoo an angry black contrast that had never looked so challenging. And if Chakotay hadn't scared them, then the set jaw of
the security chief did. 

The doctor's tricorder led them to the turbolift. And it was there that they lost the trail. Tom's blood had entered the turbolift,
but according to the tricorder, none of the floors it stopped on saw Tom's blood exit. "They must have stanched his bleeding,"
Tuvok theorized.

"It would appear so."

"Fuck! Fuck it all to hell!" Chakotay's outburst accompanied his fists as they crashed into the turbolift's walls. "We've got to
find him!"

His comm badge went off before he could batter the walls into submission. "Chakotay," B'Elanna hailed him. "We're in
Janeway's quarters. She's not here."



Woman's voice. Harsh. Sounded like Janeway. Couldn't be. Could be. The darkness called to him again but didn't take him
into its black womb.

Gods, he hurt. 

"Paris! Stop that damn whimpering!"


End Part 7

Part 8

Harry commed both of the Delaney twins, but only Jenny answered. She agreed to join the search for Tom Paris. 

Neelix tried to reach Sam Wildman but didn't succeed. However, Naomi Wildman commed him, gave him the family quarters
as her location, and waited impatiently for his arrival. "Naomi," he greeted the little girl with a reserved smile. 

"Neelix. My mom told me to find you."

"Well. Here I am. What did she want?"

"She said you had to go to holodeck 2 and bring help."

"That was a message for me?"

"Yes," the girl declared solemnly. "And only you."

"Did she tell you why I should do this?"

"No." Naomi shook her head. The little girl gave him a sulky look. "She said once I found you I should go to my room. Do I
have to?"

Nodding his head, Neelix tried to be firm without alarming the child. "Yes. That really would be best. Later, I'll come to see
you. I'm sure I can find something extra special to fix for you in the dining room." Seeing her eyes light up, he shooed her along.
"Go on, dearest. I'm afraid the rest of us have to go to work now."

Once he saw her to own room, Neelix commed Chakotay. 


"Um, Captain, I have a message from Sam Wildman to go to holodeck 2 and to bring help."

"Is that where Tom is?"

"I don't know, she gave the message to Naomi to give to me."

"All right. Let the others know. Tuvok and the doctor are still with me. We'll meet you outside the doors."

Chakotay's group arrived first, then B'Elanna and Seven. Neelix, Harry and Jenny joined them shortly. While they were waiting,
Tuvok directed the computer to name the individuals who were in holodeck 2.

The computer listed a series of 22 mostly female crew members including Megan Delaney, Sam Wildman, Ensign Jenkins, Lt.
Jerabek, as well as four other male crew members. Tom Paris and Kathryn Janeway weren't listed by the computer.
"Computer, count the number of people inside without using their comm badges."

"Twenty-four life signs are in holodeck 2," the computer replied.

'Tom?" Chakotay demanded.

"Highly likely," Tuvok predicted. "Computer, what simulation is running?"


"Describe Jerabek-11."

"It is a replication of a Starfleet prison holding cell, adjacent courtroom, and punishment chamber," the computer explained.

"What the hell?" Chakotay wondered.

"I believe Lt. Jerabek plans to place crewman Paris on trial and punish him."

"Or maybe Captain Chakotay is her target?" the doctor suggested over Tuvok's opinion.

When the newcomers were caught up on the situation, B'Elanna volunteered to go inside. "They think I'm one of them."

"I should accompany Lt. Torres," Seven added.

Despite his almost irresistible inclination to rush the doors and rescue Tom, Chakotay knew they had no intelligence on the
set-up inside the holodeck. For all he knew, Tom could be in there with a phaser held to his head.

"Keep an open comm line," was all he told the two women.


B'Elanna and Seven requested permission to enter. Lt. Jerabek's voice allowed them entry. Stepping inside the Starfleet
recreation, Seven scanned the area carefully as B'Elanna chattered about what they saw so that the others outside could know
more about the holodeck set-up inside. Seven let the engineer's vocalizations flow with a minimum of her own commentary, just
enough to keep up appearances as they advanced into the simulation.

To Seven's right, at what B'Elanna termed two o'clock, was the holding cell. It was in the style of an old fashioned prison room,
bars on the door, a cot, no window, solid walls a sink and a toilet placed behind the cot. Janeway and Jerabek stood in front of
the doors, each cradling a phaser rifle.

B'Elanna's commentary noted, "I see they caught that traitor, Tom Paris. He looks as if he's been beaten up."

"He resisted arrest," Jerabek assured the newcomers.

Both Seven and B'Elanna paused in front of the cell. Tom lay on the cot, one arm flung off the edge, his long legs brought up to
his chest fetal-style. His t-shirt and sweat pants were torn and bloody, his face was lumpy with bruises and dried blood. A faint
keening sound came from torn lips. 

"Mr. Paris is badly injured and requires medical care," Seven announced.

"Mr. Paris will get what he deserves, nothing more and nothing less," came the bitter promise from Jerabek.

"Captain Janeway," B'Elanna greeted. "You look well."

The captain looked anything but, her hair appeared as if it hadn't been brushed recently, her uniform seemed hastily thrown on.
And the narrowed eyes showed almost no signs of warmth or life. "I wasn't sure you would join our little party," Janeway
confided. "And Seven, I'm pleased you came."

B'Elanna responded first. "Well, how could I miss this? You have Tom Paris in a jail cell, a courtroom just outside the jail door,
you even have a jury and an audience. All armed with phasers. I guess that means the prisoner won't be able to escape. And
across from the jail there's a punishment area, isn't that what it is? It's got all the whips, paddles, and canes you could need. I'm
sure he'll end up thoroughly punished."

Seven decided she'd better interrupt. B'Elanna's tone was fast going from mock admiration to biting sarcasm and Seven noticed
that even if the captain didn't discern the change, Jerabek was frowning at the engineer. "And Captain, I see you have gathered
your collective together."

"Most of my loyal crew are right here. Others are still at their posts waiting for my return to the bridge."

The crew on the holodeck stood or sat in various locations around the courtroom area. Each carried a hand phaser or had one
hanging from the waist. The exchanges among the four women, one of whom was their captain, focused their attention.

"I'm sure the crew are anxious to hear from you," Seven commented.

A moan from Paris behind Janeway caught her attention. "Paris! I told you to stop that damn whimpering."

Tom's response was a groan, a slight movement to ease his discomfort. Pink bubbles drooled from the side of his mouth that
lay closest to the cot. He seemed unable to speak as his face and body spasmed from pain. 

She wanted to smash Janeway up against the cell door and make her trade places with Tom, injuries and all. "So," B'Elanna
tried to ask casually, "What's the plan here? A trial?"

"My enemies will face trial. First, Paris. I want to get Chakotay and Tuvok in here. The computer tells us that they're right

It was eerie, B'Elanna thought, Janeway sounded just a little off, but not *really* crazy. How much did Janeway know? And
wasn't she going to permit any medical attention for Tom? B'Elanna had a difficult time keeping her temper in check. But,
Janeway had the phaser rifle.

"B'Elanna, dear, I see your loyalties are wavering. Perhaps you haven't heard that Chakotay is planning to fuck your boyfriend's
ass." At the snap of Janeway's fingers, Jerabek triggered a holovid replay of the encounter between Chakotay and Tom in his
cabin on a screen behind what would be the judge's raised desk. She had picked the part where Chakotay humped Tom on the
couch. After Chakotay's slap to Tom's hip, Janeway snapped her fingers again and the vid ended. 

It was worse than B'Elanna had been able to imagine. Gods, the men were in heat for each other. She hated it, hated the way
Chakotay had set about seducing Tom, hated the way Tom had writhed in such obvious pleasure. She'd kill them. Once she
rescued Tom. She didn't have to pretend in order for Janeway to appreciate how shaken she was by Tom's encounter with her
former mentor. "Those bastards!"

"I thought you'd like it," Janeway smiled in a fully evil fashion.

With a raised eyebrow, Seven allowed, "That was very instructive. Permit me to see the rest of what transpired."

"Here you go," Jerabek gloated, handing the taller woman a PADD. "Private viewing just for you. I'm afraid that holovid is not
as fully instructional as it might have been. Apparently, *Captain* Chakotay takes his rank seriously. Hate to disappoint you,
but he left his slut to go to work."


In the corridor, three men and the holodoctor exchanged somber looks. Jenny Delaney shook her head at what she was
hearing. Chakotay exploded. "That fucking bitch! I'll kill her!"

"I believe that would be counterproductive," the holodoctor proclaimed.

"Who the hell asked you?" Chakotay didn't need the advice. He knew his sentiments were verging on being out of control, but
his rage had to go somewhere. How dare she use a private moment like that for public amusement and for turning Torres
against him? Damn all the spirits and gods in the multiverses! Suppose he hadn't stopped when he had? Paris had been right
under him, responsive, ready, and he'd gone off to work. Had he'd not gone to work, that vid would have been a whole lot
worse. Chakotay took a few deep, shuddering breaths to bring himself under control. 

While he took the time to place his emotions in their proper niche in his psyche in a file labeled 'to be opened later', the others
uneasily continued to discuss the unfolding events on the holodeck.

"Lt. Jerabek is sounding rather strange, don't you think?" Neelix asked.

"Damn right," Jenny agreed. "She could be the captain's alter ego."

"She is not helping matters," the doctor added. 

"We've got to get to Tom!" Chakotay urged. Hearing Tom's moans and not doing anything to help was just about putting him
beyond the limits of his patience.

"I am sure we will be able to effect a rescue soon. We have two people inside." Tuvok had been adding up the numbers in his

"Three," Neelix corrected. "Sam Wildman sent her daughter to get me."

"Four," Jenny added. "My sister is in there. I know where she'll come down on this."


If this was the calvary, Tom thought hazily through his pain, then this must be Custer's last stand. 'Top dog' Janeway kept
barking at him to be quiet. If someone would just help him to get comfortable he was sure he could do as she demanded. But
as he listened to B'Elanna and Seven in between bouts of agony, he doubted that he'd be seeing help anytime soon. Where was
Chakotay? Why wasn't the man here? Had Chakotay left him to die at 'Heartless' Janeway's whim?


"Kathryn, this is Chakotay. Let's talk." Chakotay spoke through his comm badge.

"Lt. Jerabek here. Captain Janeway isn't wearing her comm badge. What do you want?"

Taken aback by the outright hostility in the woman's voice, Chakotay mentally regrouped. "Just talk. I'd like to come in there,
join you, discuss this situation face-to-face."

"You and who else?"

"I understand the doctor's presence would be helpful." Chakotay tried to keep his anxiety from showing. 

"Paris is hurt, but he's not dying."

"I understand. However, perhaps that's something the doctor should evaluate."

The group outside the holodeck heard muffled voices discuss the issue. Chakotay took the time to suggest to the doctor, "If
you get in, replicate all the medical supplies you'll need for both of them."


"Tuvok, you and the others .... I want you to make sure there's a holovid feed from that holodeck to all the ship's stations."

"You mean we should broadcast what's happening in there to everyone on board?" Harry asked.

"Exactly. Everything. Even if it looks bad for me -- or her."

Jerabek forestalled further talk among themselves. "All right. Here's the deal. Chakotay comes in unarmed. The doctor can
come in with his tricorder. That's it."


Chakotay entered the holodeck with his hands raised, the doctor at his side with the tricorder held up to face the antagonistic
group. At first Chakotay couldn't see Tom, but when he did, he almost lost it. Dead men had looked better. Only incredible will
power kept him from expressing himself forcefully and violently. "See to him, doctor."

Without hesitation, the doctor crossed the entryway and slipped behind Janeway and Jerabek to enter the unlocked the cell. He
began the process of evaluating Tom's condition. But he didn't need a tricorder to tell him the injuries were serious. As
Chakotay sparred verbally with Janeway outside the cell, the doctor bent over Tom. "Hey, doc," was Tom's tired greeting.
Incomprehensibly, to the doctor, Tom added, "You're not Custer." 

"No, I'm the doctor. Don't move."

"Couldn't if I wanted to," Tom gasped, the pain stabbing through his chest.

"Don't talk, either."

Very carefully, the doctor rolled Tom fully onto his back. Shaking his head, the holodoc realized that he was going to need his
medical equipment. With a wave of his forefinger, the doctor indicated to Tom that he'd be right back. 

Chakotay saw the doctor at the cell door. "Doctor?"

"He needs to be in sickbay."

"Impossible," Janeway snapped. 

"Then I must replicate some medical supplies here. An assistant would be helpful."

Janeway seemed to waver. Beside her, Jerabek told her to forget it. They were only going to punish Paris soon anyway. 

Trying to play an angle, Chakotay feigned indifference, "You could leave him like that. But it seems to me you're not going to
get the kind of satisfaction you're looking for if you don't let the doc heal him first."

"You're just saying that because you want to fuck him." The harshness of her tone matched the cruelty of her words. 

Chakotay shrugged the most difficult shrug he'd ever given in his life. "Hey. Doesn't matter to me. I can fuck his ass beaten or
unbeaten, it's just an ass."

At her squinty-eyed scrutiny, Chakotay held his bland expression. He hoped she'd buy his act.

Tom heard the exchange and his heart sank. He'd thought Chakotay had cared about him, really cared about him. Like so
many he'd encountered in his life, the man just wanted a piece of his ass, nothing more. Damn. When was he going to learn? 

"All right. The doctor can get what he needs." Janeway looked around at the faces in the courtroom area and spotted Wildman.
The ensign had helped the doctor on a number of occasions. "Samantha. Go with the doctor. Get the medical supplies he needs
from the replicator."

"Yes, Captain," Sam told her and left her place in the spectator seats to join the doctor. For his part, the holodoctor had left the
jail cell to position himself before a well-concealed replicator near the holodeck entrance. 

Chakotay slowly let out the breath he'd been holding. Wildman wouldn't give it away when the doctor ordered up some
obviously inappropriate hyposprays to treat Paris. Now, they would be armed with something that might counter Janeway's

She spoke to him and he realized he hadn't been paying attention. "I'm sorry, what did you say, Captain?" he kept his voice
humble, used her rank deliberately. He hoped it would be enough to seem disarming.

"What do you say we end all of this?" she proposed. 

"What are your terms?"

"I'm back in charge, no repercussions, no bleeding-heart crap from you or Tuvok or -- " she pointed back to the entrance at
the holodoc " -- him."


"You take your punishment. All of you who stood against me."

Chakotay tried to figure out how to draw her out. So far she was sounding far too reasonable. "What are you proposing?"

Jerabek kept her rifle pointed at Tom Paris all the time that the doctor was away from him. Even if her rifle couldn't harm a
hologram, it could do a lot of damage to an already injured man. She would keep them from trying anything. The doctor and
Wildman walked back into the cell with their arms full of regenerators, hyposprays, and other equipment Jerabek couldn't
identify clearly. But none of it resembled a weapon. 

"I want a full confession of the conspiracy against me." He nodded to keep her speaking. Janeway cocked her head, as if
sensing something from him. "In detail, mister. You, Paris, Tuvok, the doctor ... "

"Are you sure that we're the whole conspiracy?"

"Of course you aren't! I want names! Every man on this ship who sided with you. I want every single name." She enunciated the
last five syllables with her jaw clenched, his eyes wild.

"I understand."

With a tight smile, she disagreed, "You don't know shit, Chakotay."

"I guess I don't."

She laughed, a cold, barely controlled laugh. "No. You don't."

"So, what else?"

"You punish Paris. That's first. You backed out the other day on the bridge. You were supposed to cane him and you refused."

"Yes. I did, but I was wrong to oppose you, I know that now."

"Are you putting me on?"

"No. Of course not, Kathryn. I'll do what you've asked. Just tell me how you want him, how many strokes of the cane, that's all
I need to know." 

"Well," she began, still sounding mistrustful, "I guess I'll see whether I have your loyalty or not, won't I?" She didn't wait for an
answer. Her gaze swept around the courtroom, then took in the punishment room. Chakotay's head swivelled around and
matched her attention to a high, padded bench with restraints. "There."

"Over the bench."

"Yes, of course," she told him, her tone patronizing.

"And what's the punishment you want me to give him?"

"Take the heaviest cane in there and give him 30, no make that 50, strokes with the cane."

As if it didn't make any difference to him, Chakotay asked casually, "Fifty? Is that all?"

"I said fifty. Are you trying to undermine my authority again?"

"Not at all. I assume the 50 is with him clothed."

"No! Was he dressed on the bridge?"

"You'd had him stripped. He was naked."

"Then that's how it should be now."

"Fine. As soon as the doctor's finished with his injuries, I'll order him in there, strip off his clothes, fasten him in the restraints
and administer fifty strokes with the heaviest cane you've got."

"You sound fine with this today, why did you oppose me before?" Her suspicions were reflected in her voice.

"I told you, Kathryn, I was wrong."

"So, it's no problem now, even though you want him for a lover."

"I was never going to take him for a lover, I was only going to take him." The declaration hung there between them. "Look,
none of this punishment is a problem. It's time to restore the ship, get past all of this." 

Clearly, she wasn't sure if she could buy his act. Chakotay only hoped that the doctor was keeping Tom sufficiently occupied
that the younger man hadn't heard his callous assessment of Tom's place in his life.

But Tom had.

End Part 8]

Part 9

Even as his bones and tissues healed, Tom's spirit sank with every new statement from Chakotay. Obviously, the man had had
second thoughts about opposing the captain. And any statements of Chakotay's to make him feel cared for had just been
calculated to get into his pants. Tom had made it so easy. He'd been all prepared to give the man everything he wanted. Fuck it
all, he'd bared his soul, told him his fears, shared his hurts. When it came down to it, all Chakotay wanted was to fuck him. 

"Mr. Paris," the doctor scolded as Tom threw himself on his side to face the wall. "You need to remain still so that I can finish
treating you."

"Don't bother," Tom muttered. "I'm not worth it."

"Tom," Sam urged, "please cooperate."

Still facing the wall of the cell, Tom challenged, "Why should I? You heard them. They're plotting maximum punishment out

"We have injuries here and now to treat. And I don't think what you're hearing has any truth to it," the doctor tried to sound
reassuring while at the same time speaking too softly to be heard by those outside the cell.

That got Tom's attention and he rolled onto his back to look at them. He couldn't help it that his face was mottled and his eyes
moist. "What?"

The doctor leaned over him with the dermal regenerator in his hand and whispered in Tom's ear. "Chakotay is trying to divert
her attention. He's just saying what he has to. He doesn't mean it."

"Yeah, right." Tom had been hurt too many times to let it go. 

"You'll see," the doctor flipped the regenerator aside and straightened up. Taking on his professional tone, he informed Tom,
"Well, Mr. Paris, you're not all healed, but you should be feeling better now."

"Painkillers'll do that, doc," he answered testily. But at least his body didn't hurt like it had. Now if he just had a painkiller for
the breaking of his heart. Twice in two days. It must be a new Tom Paris record. Fuck them all.


"Captain," Jerabek called. When Janeway turned to look at her, she pointed inside the cell with a wave of her rifle. "I think the
doctor's finished with him."

"Get out here, Paris," she ordered. 

His pants and shirt still torn and bloodied, Tom stood shakily on his feet. He swayed as if a faint breeze had blown through the
cell. A chalk-white face looked at neither her nor Chakotay. It was easy to see where his jaw had been knitted together with
the bone knitter and where the dermal regenerator had reduced the discoloration and swelling. But he still looked far from well. 

When Tom took a step, he almost fell. It was like watching a scarecrow come to life. Awkward, uncertain, uncoordinated
movements undermined any efforts to leave the cell. The doctor and Sam Wildman gently helped the former officer to sit back
down on the cot.

"Captain," the doctor directed to Janeway, "I believe Mr. Paris will need a few minutes to recover enough to obey."

She narrowed her eyes, but Tom's condition was clearly unfaked. "Fix him."

"I'll do my best," the doctor assured her. He and Wildman assisted Tom to lay back down on the cot. The pilot placed an arm
over his eyes, weariness clearly evident.

Seven held up the PADD. "Captain, how did Mr. Paris come to be injured?"

Janeway checked with Jerabek. The lieutenant answered, "He resisted arrest."

"Perhaps this PADD will be instructive after all," Seven observed.

"What do you mean?" Janeway questioned.

Before Janeway had a chance to find out, the holovid was activated on the wall behind the judge's desk. It showed a dimly lit
cabin with a sleeping Paris on his couch, a throw over his chest and legs. He stirred when there was motion at his door.
Ineffectually, his hand reached for a missing comm badge. One word, "Computer" was heard but it was faint and interrupted by
a blow to Paris' head. Four human shapes were on him, beating him unmercifully until blood flew about the cabin. Two of them
carried him between them from the cabin.

"Doctored," Janeway dismissed the vid, but there were rumblings from the crew in the courtroom area. Louder, she told her
supporters, "That was doctored. You all know how skillful Seven of Nine can be with equipment. She simply deleted the parts
that showed him resisting arrest. That vid means nothing."

"I'm sure you're right," Chakotay agreed with her. "Paris wouldn't let himself be taken like that. He'd fight."

"Of course, he'd fight." But Janeway noticed the four men in the courtroom shift about uneasily. She'd have to ignore them for
now. It wasn't important how Paris was captured.

"While we're waiting for him to recover," Chakotay said conversationally, "why don't we talk about the charges against him."

"Isn't it evident?" Her rage bubbled over as she catalogued Tom's crimes. "He disobeyed direct orders! He took the Flyer
without permission. He would not break off when ordered to do so. He fired an unauthorized weapon!"

"Yes, he did. You were right to take away his rank."

"He's an out and out traitor. And so are you and Tuvok and all of the other men on this ship. Maybe those four back there are
the exceptions." She pointed to the men who'd beaten Tom. "But you, Chakotay, you were all in on it with Paris. You cooked
up this conspiracy to make me look bad and then you took my ship! No one disobeys me the way that he did. No one. And I
will get you. Each and every one of you will pay and pay dearly for your treachery. If I didn't need a few of you men around to
run the ship, I'd send you all out an airlock. And maybe I will do that to Paris. If it wasn't for him ...."

Chakotay cut in on her rant when she momentarily seemed to have run out of steam. "You did a lot for Paris, went out on a
limb for him."

"Damn right I did," she seethed. "He betrayed me! I got him out of that damned penal colony where he -- " she stopped
abruptly realizing that this revelation could bring sympathy to Paris. She began again on a slightly different theme. "I got him
assigned to this ship. I gave him his rank, his position, his ..."

"You gave him everything, didn't you? And he simply ignored all of that to help a group of people who didn't want his help.
Damned ungrateful, if you ask me," Chakotay continued his needling.

"Ungrateful? I'll show you what to do with ungrateful, fucking bastards!" She whirled about and entered the cell, flinging
Wildman away so hard the woman hit the wall and fell. The doctor backed away, carefully palming a hypospray in such a way
that Jerabek couldn't see it. Jerabek swung her rifle back and forth from the cell to Chakotay. Forced to ignore the restless
murmurings from the crew in the courtroom, she missed the undermining statements of Megan Delaney, B'Elanna, Seven, and
Ensign Jenkins.

Dropping her rifle, Janeway's temper fueled her strength so that she was able to lift the still recovering pilot and fling him over
onto his stomach. "Get me that cane and get it now!"

Her hand was ready to pull off Tom's clothes when the doctor pressed the hypospray against Janeway's neck as a recovering
Wildman lurched upwards and screened his motion from Jerabek. "What the hell! You'll pay for this!"

The hypospray took effect and sent her falling over Tom's back. Carefully, the doctor lowered her to the ground and off of the
stunned pilot. The holodoc tossed the rifle to Wildman.

Chakotay used the element of surprise to take out Jerabek. With one solid punch from way low, his fist connected with the
lieutenant's jaw and catapulted her backwards, the rifle sailing from her hands. B'Elanna caught it nicely. 

The doctor interfaced with the ship's computer and had the armed group of Tuvok, Harry, Neelix, and Jenny Delaney admitted
to the holodeck. In the meantime, B'Elanna and Megan Delaney pointed their weapons at the resigned crew in the courtroom.
The only ones not immediately giving in were the four men who'd beaten Paris. 

B'Elanna approached the four, growling, her rifle raised above her head, more like a furious Klingon warrior than a Starfleet
officer. The butt of her rifle decked first one and then another before Tuvok stopped her. There was no need to attack the
remaining two crewmen, their empty hands were raised, looks of fear frozen on their faces. 


Chakotay ran to the side of the cot, "Tom!"

"Fuck you!" was the greeting.

The desolate misery and burning humiliation Tom felt were etched on a face that seared Chakotay through and through. "Tom,
please, I didn't mean any of that. Believe me, Tom, I was only trying to distract her long enough for us to knock her out."

"No! You told her what you really felt about me. I'm nothing to you, just ... just ...." Tom couldn't say the words.

"No, oh, Tom," Chakotay pulled Tom's face to his chest and held him tightly. "Never believe that. You mean so much to me,
you do."

Tensely, Tom allowed himself to be held against Chakotay. The larger man was sure that Tom didn't pull away only because
others would then be able to see him cry. The doctor hovered right over Chakotay's shoulder. "Go away, Doctor, and give us
some privacy."

With a slight sniff, the doctor began to collect his medical supplies.

Chakotay's arms wrapped more securely around Tom as Tuvok ordered a site-to-site transport of Janeway, Jerabek, and the
four men to the brig. The doctor transported himself there to attend to the wounded. Although Chakotay realized the others on
the holodeck were giving him curious looks, he didn't let that stop him. Once he felt Tom's body lose some of its rigidity, he
began broad, rubbing motions on the other's back. He let his fingers run over the matted hair. All the while he crooned to Tom
of his care, his passion for him, his regret that he'd had to say the things he'd said. 

At some point he became aware of Tuvok touching his shoulder and he glanced up at the security officer annoyed at being
interrupted. "Yes?"

"We have all the malcontents in custody and will sort it all out later. There is no need to convene the senior staff until the

"What about the crew?"

"Your holovid served its purpose. Most of the crew have indicated one way or another that they were appalled and disgusted
by Janeway's behavior. There is no question that you have their support."

Chakotay took a deep breath and felt Tom pull apart from him. The younger man looked away from Tuvok's gaze.

"Mr. Paris, do you require the doctor's assistance?"

"No," Tom replied without moving, depressed and drained. 

"Or mine?"


"Do you wish to be beamed back to your room -- alone?"

Did he? Tom wasn't sure. The dark-haired man who'd held him had said all the right things, but Tom didn't know if he could
believe him. After all, Chakotay had sounded perfectly believable when he'd denied Tom's importance, his very dignity as a
person. Chakotay's words had made him feel like shit. 

"Tom?" Chakotay seemed to be pleading. "Tom, I just want you safe. If you need to be alone to feel that way, then ... "

When Chakotay's words stopped, Tuvok made a decision to reveal some of what transpired in the corridor outside the
holodeck. "Mr. Paris, the Acting Captain was most concerned for your welfare. I believe his exact words were: 'That fucking
bitch. I'll kill her.'" 

Hope finally made its appearance. "He said that?"

Tuvok nodded, then left them alone. 

"You really said that?" Tom asked Chakotay, wonderingly. Chakotay seemed a bit overcome with emotion himself. 

Tom thought it over. Vulcans didn't lie. That was something he could count on. Chakotay may truly have been pretending in
front of Janeway. He remembered when he'd had to act as if he'd hated the other man so he could flush out a traitor. Maybe
that's what Chakotay had been doing. Just acting. And, Tom reminded himself, it was only about lust. Simply lust, nothing
more. "Okay. Let's get out of here."

Tom noted Chakotay's smile, his dimples, sincerity, and warmth, and mentally decided to take a risk. "I think you promised to
fuck me tonight."

It took a moment for the other man to react, but when he did, Chakotay gave a huge laugh, startling the few crew remaining on
the holodeck. "It would be my pleasure, if you're feeling well enough. Can you even walk?"

"I have no idea. Last time I got up I didn't stay on my feet for very long."

"I'll help." Chakotay gave him a hand up and stepped back to see if Tom could stand on his own. When the taller man
appeared all right, Chakotay placed an arm around Tom's waist and directed him out the cell door and towards the corridor.

By the time they reached Chakotay's quarters, Tom was pale and trembling, and clearly exhausted. Propelling Tom inside to
the bed, Chakotay lightly pushed on his shoulder to have him sit on the side of the bed. Tom slumped, head hanging, forearms
leaning on his thighs. 


With great effort, Paris looked up. "Better hurry, I'm not going to stay awake for long."

"You don't have to. I'm going to get these clothes off of you, clean you up, and tuck you in. No more excitement for you."


"You sound disappointed." Chakotay bent over Tom and began to lift his bloodied shirt off. 


"Uh-huh." Once he had the shirt up and over Tom's head, Chakotay tossed it aside. He tugged at the waistband of the sweat
pants. "Here. Lift your hips a little."

It took more energy than Tom thought he had, but between them, the pants slid over his hips and down his legs. With the
sweats at his ankles, Chakotay gently coaxed him down onto the bed, then removed the pants completely. Because Tom had
been sleeping when he'd been captured, he wore no boots, just a pair of socks which Chakotay reached to take off.

"No. Leave 'em," Tom requested sleepily.

"Okay, the socks stay." Chakotay smiled. Tom was naked save for the dark socks on his feet. The doctor had done a good
job healing his body. Even the love bites Chakotay had fixed on the pilot earlier were gone. Overcome with emotion for the
vulnerability Tom displayed, Chakotay bent down and kissed him on the lips. He wasn't surprised to receive only a faint
movement of Tom's mouth in return. Paris was down for the count. 

Chakotay pulled up a blanket and covered the sleeping man. Satisfied, he sat heavily on the edge of the bed and spent a few
minutes simply watching Tom sleep. Somehow he thought that a sleeping Tom Paris would have the look of some kind of
angelic child. But it wasn't so. In sleep, the masks fell, but no angel emerged, only an exposed, unprotected young man. 

With a sigh, Chakotay realized full well how close he had come to almost losing this man. In more ways than one. Carefully and
lightly, he brushed his fingertips down Tom's cheek.

Although he'd promised to clean up Tom, it could wait until later. Now, he had work to do.


Chakotay placed a privacy screen with soundproofing around the cell in the brig that held Janeway and himself. He had some
things to say to her that he didn't want an audience to hear.

His anger erupted. "You arrogant, paranoid, fucking bitch!"

End Part 9

Part 10

"I hear she's in the brig." 

"Did you *see* that? No wonder she's not the captain any more." 

"It's all Paris' fault." 

"Too bad Chakotay didn't punch her lights out." 

"Someone told me the doctor's got a cure but the senior staff don't want him to use it." 


Harry sought out B'Elanna who was safely at home amidst the engines. At first she just ignored him. When he didn't leave, she
confronted the ops officer. "What! Can't you see I'm busy?!" 

"Only because you want to be. I came to see if you're all right. You're not." 

"Hey, Starfleet, who appointed you to -- " 

"-- be your friend?" Harry finished for her. 

That took the anger down a notch. She stretched her shoulders and rotated her head to work out some of her tension. "Okay,
Harry, what is it?" 

"That vid Janeway broadcast, you know, of Chakotay and ... " 

When his voice trailed off and he didn't finish the sentence, she helpfully asked, "Tom?" 


Her voice tightened. "What about it?" 

"I wondered how you were doing?" 

"Me? Hey, if Tom can get over me that fast, then I have to figure he's the pig I always said he was." 

"B'Elanna, you and Tom belong together." Harry came close to pleading with her, his hand reached out to rest on her shoulder.
"If you wanted him back, I'm sure -- " 

She sighed, "Give it up, Starfleet." 

"But why?" 

B'Elanna thought about his question. Some of what she had told Chakotay the day before came back to her and she found it
still to be true. "Harry, what Tom did was thoughtless, selfish, and childish. I gave him a little push, that's on me. But I never
expected him to go off like that without saying a word to me, without thinking about me, about us, at all." 

It was Harry's turn to sigh. He dropped his hand from her shoulder and gave her an intense look with those large brown eyes of
his. "But, B'Elanna ...." 

"No," she waved her hand at his face when he stopped speaking. "No. As much as it hurts, Tom's got some growing up to do.
And I'm not able to help him do it. In fact, I may be part of the problem." 

Since her talk with Chakotay, she'd realized a few things. When she told Harry she might be a part of the problem, she was
thinking of the times they'd 'made out' in public, the ways in which they had noisy, sometimes bone-breaking sex, well, his
bones broke, and the endless petty arguments. Maybe she had as much growing up to do as he did. But she didn't take the
Delta Flyer and try to shoot up a facility on some other world. The vid of Chakotay with Tom had temporarily derailed these
thoughts and replaced them with blinding rage. But with time to cool down, the more reasonable ideas had came back to her as
truth. She and Tom didn't belong together, not the way Harry thought. "No. Harry, I don't think Tom and I should be together
any more." 

"You're just going to let Chakotay have him?" Harry didn't like to think about, much less say, what his imagination told him
would be happening between Tom and Chakotay. The vid flashed through his mind. All he had to do was picture the two men
together minus the clothes to know what would happen. 

"Hey. Why not? I have a feeling Chakotay can handle Tom well before Tom's 'inner adolescent' takes over and screws things

"Chakotay wouldn't hurt him, that's how all this mess started." 

"That was public and it was Janeway going way too far with the corporal punishment bit. In private, Tom may be surprised." 

At her grin, Harry tried to figure it out. "I don't understand." 

"Listen, Harry, and don't you ever tell anyone I told you this -- swear?" 

"Sure. I swear." 

Had that been too easy? She gave him a Klingon frown and he placed his hands crossed over his heart. Satisfied, she told him,
"Okay. When we were in the Maquis, Chakotay generally didn't have time for relationships, male or female. We moved around
a lot. But there was one guy -- name of Jacques -- tall, blue eyes, had brown hair not blond. Anyway, Jacques was sort of wild
and impulsive. We all thought Chakotay was going to kill him before any enemy did. Instead, they became lovers." 

In a two-day period of surprises, Harry figured one more shouldn't get to him so much. "But, what about Chakotay and

"That was after Jacques." 

Harry's dreams seemed to die hard. "Chakotay and Janeway?" 

"This was back in the Maquis, Harry. And I think, yeah, if Janeway had something besides ice in her pants, maybe he and she
would have gotten together. But, listen, this is about Jacques." 

Harry encouraged her to return to her story, ready to hang on every word. "Go on." 

"Well, and this is the part you can't tell anyone." 

"I won't," he vowed. At this point he was so curious he would have promised to name his first born Seska. 

She continued, "Jacques would smart off or pull some stunt on his own and you'd never see or hear anything about it in public
even though you could tell Chakotay was ticked off. But, then, the next day, Jacques would look very subdued. Very


"Why? Because Chakotay took him in hand," she finished in triumph. 

"Took him in hand?" Harry repeated. "What exactly does that mean?" 


"Seriously, what did you mean?" 

"All right, we don't know for sure, I mean we could only speculate." She looked around to make sure they weren't overheard.
"But some of us thought he used corporal punishment on Jacques." 

Harry was totally shocked. "On his lover?" 

"Yeah," she assured him with a huge gleam in her eye. "So. Maybe you can see why a relationship between Chakotay and Tom
might not be so bad?" 

A wicked laugh followed her words and Harry finally got it. His own laugh, half-delighted, half-horrified, followed hers. "So,
that's why you're not so upset by all of this." 

Seriously, she told him, "Harry, I won't deny that I was hurt and I was, and am, totally pissed off at Tom Paris. But right now,
to be honest, I don't want to be with Tom. And if Chakotay decides that Tom needs his ass paddled, well, maybe there's some
justice in the universe after all." 

"Maybe so," Harry agreed, just a little titillated at the thought of what Chakotay might do to his irrepressible friend. As a
different image occurred to him, Harry frowned. 

"What?" she demanded. 

"Is that any different from Janeway's punishment?" 

"Of course it is," B'Elanna explained. "Janeway's ideas of punishment are destructive. You've got to admit, she was out to
destroy Tom, yesterday and today. Her punishment could have killed him. I told Chakotay that I thought there was no honor in
any of us because of what we did." 

"No decency," Harry murmured, agreeing with her as he echoed Chakotay's words on the bridge. 

"Right. On the other hand, Chakotay, whatever he really did to Jacques, had a good effect on the man." 

"What happened to Jacques?" 

"He and Chakotay drifted apart after awhile. It was all very friendly. And Seska kind of moved in on Chakotay. He died when
the Caretaker brought us to the Delta Quadrant." 

Somberly, Harry realized that Voyager wasn't the only ship to suffer casualties. After giving that five-years-old incident a
moment of thought, Harry voiced a sudden regret. "Maybe it's too bad Janeway and Chakotay didn't develop a relationship." 

Laughing out loud, B'Elanna told him, "Harry, hang on to that image." 


Tom woke up, disoriented and bone weary. He called for the lights and found himself in the Acting Captain's bed, naked,
except for his socks, and alone. Something felt wrong, but he wasn't sure what it was. Finally, he realized that the remnant of a
dream, maybe a nightmare, clung to him. The fighting on the holodeck was only the beginning, crew were exchanging laser fire
all over Voyager, hurting and killing each other as they took sides. Troubled by the dream's obvious meaning, Tom ran a hand
over his face, trying to clear his head. Maybe he ought to go back to his own quarters. Chakotay didn't need the kind of trouble
he would bring to the man. 


Chakotay's angry accusation charged the air between himself and Janeway. He'd just blasted her with the words, 'arrogant,
paranoid, fucking bitch'. She looked no more repentant now than she had on the holodeck. 

"Me!" she threw back at him, enraged. "Me? All you had to do was carry out my orders! They were lawful orders!" 

"I was your first officer, not your flunky! You have never respected me. All you want is a first officer to go along with your
already formed decisions. You don't discuss things, you decide them. Any *discussion* is simply for ratification of what you've
already determined!" 

"You were disloyal and you tried to shame me in front of the crew!" 

"No. You shamed yourself." 

"And I've always asked your opinion," she defended herself. 

"Always?" He encroached a bit on her personal space as they stood now almost toe to toe. "What about us, Kathryn? *You*
decided that there wouldn't be a relationship. *You* decided it wouldn't work out. *You* decided the crew wouldn't
understand. You decided everything!" he shouted at her. 

"Well, it's obvious, isn't it, that a relationship wouldn't have worked out between us?" she yelled back at him. "You like boys,
not women! Gods, what did I ever see in you?" 

"You never saw *me* at all, never. As for having a relationship with anyone on this ship, the last person for me was Seska. At
least we had something! With you, there's been nothing but ball breaking brutality. You tease, you flirt, hell, you even flirted
with Tom Paris, and you never deliver anything but dismissal. It's always your way or the skyway. I've had enough!" 

"When I get out of here, you're going to regret those words," she warned, some of the control returning to her. With as much
reason as she could muster, she reminded him, "A starship is not a democracy." 

"No. But it's not a dictatorship either. Oh, I know you've seen yourself as some kind of benevolent dictator, a wise mother who
rules her family. In reality, you're no better than the Borg queen. You don't want to hear anyone's opinions but your own. You
don't want to know anything if it contradicts your preconceived ideas." 

"I'll get us home," she told him fiercely. 

"That's a joke, Kathryn! Home is thirty, forty years away. It won't be you who gets us home and it sure as hell won't be any
descendent of yours because you've sabotaged any chance of a relationship that would produce any descendents!" 

"I will get us home," she insisted mantra-like. 

"Stay with your delusions, hell, I don't care. You don't control me. Not anymore. Got that!" 

"Oh, I've got it. You truly have no loyalty at all. You won't last long, mister." 

"What do you think is going to happen to you? Huh? You think you'll be captain again any time soon? Just because the doctor
thinks he can 'fix' whatever's wrong with you, doesn't mean you'll be back on the bridge." 

"Go away, Chakotay." 

"Do you know why I'm here?" 

She stepped back. He was still angry, but then, so was she. "I thought you came here to shout and pile abuse on me. You mean
you had some other reason?" 

He ignored her sarcasm. "Yes." 

She flapped her hand as if to say, 'so' and waited for him to explain. 

"You can stop the tensions that are tearing this crew apart." 

"Oh? Which airlock are planning for me to step out of?" 

"I wish it were that easy," he told her bitterly. "The senior staff are meeting in the morning. We're going to decide your fate. If
you apologize, admit you were wrong .... Just say you were stressed out and the doctor's treating you. It would help the ship's
crew a great deal." 

"No. You mean it would make it easier for you to rule the ship." She gave a rude snort. "If I admit I'm wrong, then everyone
will say you were right to seize control and you are the right one to be captain. Never! Never!!"

Her chin jutted out, her eyes flamed like an overheated warp core. There had been moments in their shouting match when
Chakotay thought he saw sanity return to her, however angry she had been. Not now. All he saw was the paranoid heat that
had fueled her holodeck melt down. 

"Kathryn, take a step. If you care about Voyager and her crew as much as you say you do, then do something constructive.
Admit you were wrong and take your punishment." 

It wasn't the right thing to say, he realized as she flared out at him, "Captains are not punished!" 

"Maybe it's time they were! The senior staff .... " 

He noticed that her attention had wandered from him to a place behind and beyond him. Turning his head to track her eyes, he
found himself looking at an activated vid screen. He was startled and alarmed to see Tom Paris on screen. 

Out of uniform, Tom sat a table in his own quarters, his hands folded together on the table, his blue eyes directly gazing out at
the viewer. His demeanor was humble and he seemed almost stunned, as if he couldn't believe he was doing this. He licked his
lips and began. "This is Tom Paris. I guess some of you are pretty upset with me. And I guess I can't blame you. Taking the
Delta Flyer like I did was wrong. Not returning to Voyager when Captain Janeway ordered it was wrong. Firing on that
Monean power station was wrong." 

Tom turned away briefly, then brought his face back to the camera. "I thought I was doing something that was morally right. I
thought I would be helping the Monean people. I thought I knew better than the Prime Directive, better than my captain. I was,
I don't know, I had been playing a captain on the holodeck, I had been acting like I was captain of the Delta Flyer. I think I got
confused and forgot that I wasn't really a captain, but a lieutenant. And when I couldn't talk the captain into helping the
Moneans against the wishes of their politicians, I thought I knew best. In some ways, I still think I wanted something that was
right, but I went about it all the wrong way, and when I was turned down, in my arrogance, I .... " Tom stopped speaking, his
voice choking up. 

Chakotay shot a glance at Janeway. She seemed mesmerized by Tom's confession. Ironic, he thought, here's Tom saying all the
things he'd wanted Janeway to say. He wished he could feel better about what Tom was doing. Something felt amiss here, but
he needed more information before he could figure out what was troubling him so much about Tom's appearance. 

After taking a sip of water from a nearby glass, Tom resumed his clasp-handed position and continued, "Some of you think I
didn't act alone, that others helped me or were involved in some kind of conspiracy to take over Voyager. None of that's true.
Hell, I've always been able to get into trouble all by myself. I acted alone and I acted stupidly and criminally. If we were in the
Alpha Quadrant, I'd be on my way back to the Auckland penal colony." He worried at his bottom lip, his eyes were cast down
to the table, and Chakotay could see the pain that the reference to Auckland brought to Tom. He couldn't tell for sure, but it
looked as if there were tears in Tom's eyes. "I want to take responsibility for what I did. I want the crew on this ship to go back
to the way it was before I took the Flyer. I'm very sorry for what I've done and ...." 

Chakotay snapped out of his passive watching of the vid screen. "What the hell?" 

Even Janeway seemed to sense something wasn't right. "Chakotay -- " 

"Dammit, something's wrong. He better not be planning anything stupid!" 

Chakotay ordered the force field lifted, then left the brig just as Tom began to speak again. "So, I've decided -- " 

End Part 10

Part 11

Chakotay reached Tom's quarters after a long sprint through Voyager's corridors. The door opened easily for him but he
realized as soon as he entered that Tom wasn't there. Just to be sure, he spent a few moments catching his breath and looking
about the cabin, calling out Tom's name to no response.

There was a PADD on the table with Chakotay's name on the viewer. It was as if Tom had left it there so that Chakotay would
be sure to see it. He picked it up, but instead of reading whatever message Tom had left, he asked the computer for Paris'

"Tom Paris is in the shuttlebay." 

"This is an emergency. Beam me there immediately." 

When Chakotay materialized in the shuttlebay, he didn't know which shuttle Tom might be in. "Computer, locate Tom Paris." 

When the computer identified Neelix's shuttle he ordered himself beamed there. Only Tom and Neelix were inside. Tom sat at
the controls going through pre-flight checks and turned at the disturbance behind him. "That was quicker than I thought," he

"Neelix, get out and leave us alone." 

"Yes, sir." For once the Talaxian didn't seem to want to chat. He exited and the hatch closed behind him. 

"All right, Tom, what's this about?" Chakotay asked, the hurt undisguised in his voice. 

"I'm leaving. I've resigned. End of story." No affect, just a few clipped sentences was all Tom gave him. 


Tom stood up and walked closer to Chakotay. "I said it on the vid. The ship will be better off without me." 

"No. It won't. And," Chakotay took a chance, "neither will I." 

"Sure you will," Tom answered as glibly as he could. "You'll be fine without me. Look, my entire life I've been screwing up and
hurting others I care about. It's time I left before I do any more damage." 

"Damage to who? Yourself?" 

"No. To you, to B'Elanna, to Harry. Don't you get it? There's something about me ... I don't know why or what, but I ruin
everything that matters to me." 

"Suppose that's true, Tom, is running away going to change it?" 

"Yes. If I'm someplace else, the only one I hurt will be me." 

"You'll be like you were before the Maquis? Is that it? You'll drink too much, drug too much, and sell yourself to someone
who'll pay your bar bill, right? Is that your future?" 

Tom swallowed and couldn't answer. Chakotay gripped Paris' shoulders with each of his large hands and roughly shook the
pilot. Still, Tom said nothing. 

Chakotay wanted to get through to Tom and didn't know how. Loosening his grip a bit, he told him, "You're better than that!" 

Shaking off Chakotay's hands, Tom shook his head. "No. That's just it! I've had a second chance and I've blown it, with
everyone and in every way." His tone turned from stating the obvious to bitterly self-condemning. "It doesn't look as if I'm ever
going to change." 

"Spirits, man, you're not much past your thirtieth birthday. Tom, I'm not going to tell you that you haven't screwed up, because
you have. But this isn't your future. You *can* change." 

"Oh, sure. How?" 

"Let others help you. You're not alone here. Neelix will help, the doctor will help." 

"What about you?" Tom asked, not sure he really wanted to hear the answer. He was certain Chakotay had left himself off that
list deliberately. 

"Especially me," came the determined reply. "Why do you think I'm here?" 

"To wish me a good flight?" Tom responded with detached irony. 

"Spirits, what does it take to get through to you!" 

"Then tell me." 

"I want you back. Gods, when I heard your words, I couldn't get to your cabin fast enough. I thought ... I was afraid you'd do
something irreversible." 

"I told you before, I'm not into suicide." 

"Then what do you call running away like this? You know the chances of your survival out there, alone, are .... " Chakotay
couldn't even calculate the odds. He gave the pilot a helpless shrug. "Tom." 

"Let me get this straight. After all I've done, after what it's cost the ship, you want me to stay?" 

"Yes. I want you to stay." With certainty, Chakotay added, "In my quarters. With me." 

Tom blinked at that. Suddenly the atmosphere had changed from a confrontation of one sort to an encounter of a very different
kind. Chakotay's words were suffused with desire and want that hit Tom on a visceral level. He wasn't sure he could believe
the man and made sure his tone remained level as he tested the waters. "You want to take me to bed. That's all? Right? This is
a lust thing." 

Chakotay laughed and then grabbed Tom and pulled him close, their bodies pressed together so tightly that the broader man's
heat warmed Tom like the open flames from a campfire. With a tug to the back of Tom's head, the pilot found himself mouth to
mouth with the other. 

Chakotay decided to let his tongue tell Tom whatever it was the younger man needed to know to lose his distrust, to let down
his barriers, to understand what Chakotay didn't quite have the words to say. He thrust his tongue into the dry mouth, playing it
across teeth and gums, along the palette, and bobbing it against Tom's tongue. He didn't know how Tom would respond to this
preemptive move, or even if he would, but within moments Chakotay could feel the tension leave the slender frame of the man
he held. Tom's mouth latched onto his as if suction alone could join them permanently. 

When Chakotay reached around to place his hands on Tom's back, the blond's body melded even closer to his own, so close it
was as if the fabric between them barely existed. Chakotay felt the responsiveness he knew he had to have if this was going to

Breathless, Chakotay reluctantly broke off the kiss and moved his hands up to place Tom's head at the right distance to be able
to see the man's expression. Tom looked dreamy, flushed, with even a little grin beginning to emerge. It was a real grin and not
the sardonic, remote expression of earlier. Excitement finally registered in what had been dull, almost grey eyes. 

"I want you, Tom," he said with as much passion in his voice as he felt in his body. 

"It's just lust, huh?" 

With a laugh, Chakotay moved his hand down to grab Tom's ass. "Yeah, you'll see. Lust." He gave a squeeze to those
perfectly shaped cheeks and provided his own sound effect. "Hmpf." 

Tom moved back a step, his head cocked as if trying to understand what was happening. A brief smile told Chakotay that he'd
liked either the squeeze or the sound effects. "Now what?" 

"Now we go to my quarters and explore this 'lust thing' until you can't move." 

Chakotay's voice was just as full of fervor as his kiss had been. There were still some things Tom needed to know before he
left the relative sanctuary of Neelix's shuttle. "What happens to me? You know, on the ship?" 

"I don't know yet. We'll be meeting in the morning." 

"I mean, I don't want special treatment just because we've slept together." 

"Believe me, that won't happen. There's no quid pro quo here." In some ways Chakotay's words proved reassuring.

"Will there be any more of that corporal punishment on the bridge kind of stuff?" 

"You mean in front of witnesses?" 

Tom nodded. 

"No. I intend to ban the practice." When Tom took a deep breath of relief, Chakotay had to add, "Except in private,
consensual arrangements." 

Paris frowned and asked, "What does that mean?" 

"It means that there's something personal that can be settled between us." 

"Basically, I fucked up and you want to punish me for it." 

"*Want*? I don't know. I believe I should. If I don't, then you might believe you got away with something by sleeping with me.
I don't want that between us." 

Tom shifted his feet uneasily. "So, let me get this straight. Before we sleep together, you're gonna do some pounding on my
ass? Is that it?" 

"If you agree. And it doesn't have to be before, it could be after." 

"If I don't agree?" 

"I won't do it. We can go straight to the sex part." Chakotay gave him a grin with all the dimples. 

"But you'll believe I escaped a punishment that I deserved?" 

"No. I think you'll feel that way." 

For a few moments there was only silence as Tom considered the situation. Chakotay realized that this promise of punishment
could send Tom flying off in the shuttle, or to his own quarters alone. When Tom spoke, it wasn't to give an answer but to ask a
question. "Chakotay, I don't get it. Why do you want me? Isn't that just going to cause you all kinds of trouble on the ship? And
with Janeway?" 

"I told you that I care about you. Those were no idle words, Tom. And I see something maybe you don't: I see someone who
has a great deal to offer, who has a generous heart, a giving spirit, who maybe needs a little more patience, a little more
direction to develop into all he can become. I believe in your potential. I see it very clearly." 

Tom wanted to whip out a smart-ass reply but Chakotay's words stopped any from forming. He began to realize that Chakotay
did care about him, on a level that surprised him. Confused, Tom checked it out. "So this isn't just about lust?" 

"I don't think so. But I won't deny that it's there and that I'd like to act on it before I become an old man." 

With a laugh, Tom agreed, "Me too. But I gotta tell you, this caring stuff scares the hell out of me." 

Chakotay brought a hand up to rub a palm against Tom's cheek and felt pleased when Tom nuzzled into the caress. "If it gets
too scary, tell me. Okay?" 

Huskily, Tom acquiesced, "Okay." 

"So. How 'bout we take this to my quarters?" 

Tom considered all that was wrapped up into that request. As he did so, his walls began to fall apart. He wouldn't have to leave
Voyager. He had someone who, for some unfathomable reason, wanted him. Chakotay wasn't scamming him, this wasn't about
just giving himself over to the other man in exchange for protection or a warm bed. 

His life was about to change on a very fundamental level. In spite of the cynicism that shielded him, at his core there was a
profound, untouched loneliness. It felt as if Chakotay wanted to take that core and replace it with something Tom had rarely
had and wasn't sure he deserved. Shaking himself a little, Tom realized it was way too soon to be jumping ahead to thoughts of
love and all that. Without his having said it, though, he knew that was what Chakotay was offering him. 

"I'm not so sure about the punishment part, but ... I want to be with you. I want what you've said." 

With a happy grin, the acting captain enthused, "Then, let's not waste any more time." 

Chakotay placed his arm around Tom's waist and steered the younger man toward the hatch. Once the doors opened, they
found half the ship in the shuttle bay waiting for them. When the crowd saw the two of them, a loud cheer went up. Tom saw
Harry and B'Elanna, both Delaneys, Seven, Neelix, Wildman, Chell, Geron, and too many others to name. As they descended
the ramp, hands reached out to shake his, and voices echoed in the large bay telling him how much they wanted him to stay on
the ship. 

Tom stopped when he reached Harry and B'Elanna. Harry said, "Good. You've come to your senses." 

"You'd better be staying," B'Elanna growled. 

With a meaningful look at Chakotay, Tom nodded, a lump in his throat too big to get words around. Swallowing, eyes tearing
up, Tom finally managed to say, "Yeah. I'm staying." 

Chakotay steered him through the well-wishers and out of the shuttle bay. In a few minutes, they reached his quarters. Tom
stumbled as he went inside, followed by Chakotay who reached out to steady him. Foreheads rested together briefly, then Tom
moved apart and shook his head. There were still tears in his eyes. "Thank you." 

Chakotay grabbed him into a huge bear hug. "You're welcome." 


Harry turned to B'Elanna, "Well, Maquis, what do you think?" 

"Chakotay's good, Harry, he managed to talk Tom out of leaving. I'm not sure even I could have done that." 

"And you're really okay with them going off together?" 

"Yes, Harry, I really am. I figure in about five minutes, Tom Paris is in for it." 

"Do you really think Chakotay would ... " looking around, Harry decided to whisper in her ear, "would do what you ... ?" 

"You mean roast his ass? Yeah, I think so." 

"I wish I could see that," Harry marveled. 

"No way, Starfleet, no way." 


Tom stood uncertainly in Chakotay's living area wondering what he should be doing. It wasn't as if he'd never gone to
someone's room before to have sex, but this struck him as different. This was significant, fraught with meaning for both now and
the future. So he remained rooted to the spot as he watched Chakotay carefully for a sign of the man's plans for him in the here
and now. In turn, Chakotay assessed him, checking out aspects of Tom that he couldn't quite grasp. If nothing else, there was
clearly lust in the man's eyes, a kind of brown fire that sent a tight vibration through Tom. Chakotay's hand reached out to
Tom's and the heated clasp warmed his fingers. The captain's other hand reached up to touch Tom's chin and stroked along the
jawline as if it were a precious commodity. 

Nervously, Tom tried to figure out what he should do in response. To be at such a loss for words was uncharacteristic and
uncomfortable for him. "Um, what ... what's next? Do you want me to do -- um -- something?" 

Chakotay grinned as if he could think of many things. Then he sobered. "This is a choice point. Do you feel you deserve to be
punished by me?" 

Tom inhaled deeply and let it out in a noisy sigh. He didn't know. Chakotay had made it clear that he didn't have to be
punished. On the other hand, he knew there was so much guilt eating at him that he'd almost left Voyager over it. If doing this,
here, in private, could remove some of that burden, maybe it'd be worth it. 

His eyes almost brimmed over with sudden tears when he realized he'd decided. As he nodded, some of the hot moisture
spilled onto his cheeks and he wiped furiously at his face, feeling the hot blush creep up his neck and face. Tom couldn't stop
his voice from breaking when he asked, "What ... what do I do?" 

He spent a moment looking into the other man's dark eyes. Although Tom couldn't describe himself as reassured, he felt that he
could take the next step. His breath hitched. He tried to steady the tremble that had begun in his body and the heartbeat that
pounded too loudly in his chest. 

"It'll be okay. When it's over, you're going to feel relieved as well as a little hot on your bottom, but the guilt will be gone. Do
you trust me, Tom?" 

He nodded. It would be all right. Chakotay wouldn't seriously hurt him. And this was being done in private. "Um, maybe this is
a little late to ask. But you aren't planning to tell anyone about this, are you?" 

Dark eyes twinkled briefly. "No. If any of the crew know I've spanked you, it will be because you told them." 

'Spank', huh? He hadn't used that word before, but Tom realized that was what this was. He was a grown man about to be
spanked by a man he wanted to have sex with. Had the universe gone nuts or was it just him? For a moment, he wasn't sure he
could go through with this, wasn't sure where his next breath would come from. "Um ...." 

"Cold feet, Tom?" 

"Yeah. Oh, man, I don't know about this." 

"Tell you what, just get down here across my lap. I won't do anything until you're ready. Can you do that?" 

Some need to prove himself to the older man surfaced. Awkwardly, he knelt on the couch then reached across Chakotay's lap
and placed his hands on the other side of the man. From there, he was able to lower his torso down until his weight settled on
Chakotay. Okay, this wasn't that bad, just a little kinky. When Chakotay's hand rested on his back, he jumped, but the acting
captain's touch was light, gentle, and he tried to let himself relax. The hand rubbed his back through his shirt, and when he
relaxed a little more, the hand insinuated itself under his shirt and sent waves of warmth across his back. It would be all right, he
told himself, it would be all right. 

Soft words came to him, telling him to relax, to take it easy, that he'd be all right, that he should take deep breaths and yield to
the warmth. It was okay, Tom told himself. It felt okay, Chakotay's roaming hands were simply soothing him, calming him even
more so than the reassuring words. 

This would be all right. It would be all right. Those hands felt good, massaging his muscles into a safe looseness. Chakotay's
quiet voice seemed to come from a distance, "Your punishment is 25 strokes from my hand. Say something if that's not all right
or if you're not ready."

End Part 11

Part 12

Tom lay across the man's lap, about to be spanked, and so aroused he could hardly contain himself. His silence allowed
Chakotay to continue with his stated plans. However, the acting captain had continued to rub his stretched-out frame so that
Tom's head reeled from the sensations that made him want to give Chakotay anything he asked for if only he'd keep doing this
slow, sensual fondling of his body. 

Tom couldn't say a word. He found he actually wanted the large hand to begin its work, as if it might thereby intensify the
tension he was experiencing. Unless it hurt too much. 

The first blow to his backside smacked loudly and startled him but it didn't break the sexual spell Chakotay had cast on him.
Several more slaps of that wide hand rained down in rapid succession and his bottom jumped under each one. He felt the heat
beginning to build but the pain felt as if it belonged.

He lost count at eighteen, his mind shifting into a mix of intense pain and exquisite pleasure. He knew he was gasping and yelling
with each blow, he felt tears coursing down his face, he heard himself as he cried and begged. And he understood he needed
this as the concentrated pain sent him outside himself and into some altered state where it wouldn't take much more to send him
into an out-of-body climax. 

Then it stopped. His tense body lay in place, burning butt upturned across Chakotay's lap, waiting for anything that would
break the agonizing tease and give him release. The hand that had brought him to this state of suspended supplication now
soothed his back and thighs. He groaned and begged, "Please, please."

Chakotay had been right: guilt could be exchanged for a burning ass. But he needed more, he was at the edge and he needed
help to go over. Tom lay there, breathing hard and knowing now that everything he was belonged to Chakotay. And he wanted
everything Chakotay had to give him. Another spanking? Fine. Anything if it would alleviate this tension, if it would set his body
on another plane of existence. Oh, gods, he wanted more of ... something.

He cried, he sobbed, his body writhed as he became acutely aware of even the slightest touch of Chakotay's fingers trailing
now up his leg, his thigh, his back. Oh, gods, Chakotay, do something. Please, do something. 

Words. He heard words but he didn't understand them, not through the roaring in his ears. Gradually, with repetition, he
understood. "Sh-h, Tom, it's all right. I know it's especially intense. Just lie very still, very still, there you go. You're doing fine."

He felt comforted, but his chest continued to heave as he took in great, gulping breaths of air. How could he remain still? But if
this was what Chakotay needed him to do, he would find a way to submit. The circular motions on his back were helping and
he finally returned from the precipice. 

Awareness reinstated itself. It would be all right. It was over. He'd survived. 


Chakotay had never encountered a body as responsive as Tom's. The blond's reactions to the spanking went well beyond
Chakotay's wildest expectations. True, it hadn't been certain that he could ease the younger man into this, but once Tom gave
in, his surrender became total.

Although he realized Tom had had a strong response to the spanking, he wanted to give Tom every possible pleasure to build
upon the pain-based sensitivity that had claimed the pilot as his own. But because he wanted to have Tom's enjoyment last
longer, as long as possible, it was essential to let him rest. He wanted Tom's pleasure to derive more from the erotic stimulation
he would provide, not from the pain he'd given the younger man. 

His own breathing needed to return to normal as well. As he gazed down at Tom's body spread along the couch, from the
ruffled blond hair to the lean torso, the long, long legs ending in sock-covered feet, Chakotay determined to fix this image in his
mind. The cocky pilot persona could be replaced in an instant by this mental portrait of a well-spanked, completely still Tom

Lest Tom relax too completely, Chakotay told him. "I want you to stand up now. It's time to move into the bedroom."

He helped Tom move off him to stand up. Shifting as well, Chakotay stood in front of Tom. He realized that the taller man was
looking down, his face red, the tips of his ears almost purple with embarrassment. With a finger he lifted Tom's face up so that
the two could look into each other's eyes. Tom had been crying, his eyes were puffy, his cheeks tear streaked. Softly,
Chakotay told him, "You did very well. Earlier, I promised that I would clean you up. I didn't get to do that then, but now I

Eyes that seemed bluer than usual blinked at him, Tom's Adam's apple moved in his throat. "Geez, I hope that isn't *all* you're
going to do."

Although the intonation lacked the usual Paris flair, the humor that defined the man came through clearly. "Careful, or that ass of
yours will find out what a real hand feels like."

Turning around, his head still looking at Chakotay, Tom bent over, "Hey, take your best shot."

Laughing, the acting captain told him, "Oh, I don't think you want to feel my best shot." Lightly, he patted the presented ass and
heard a satisfying gasp. "Smart ass takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it?"


"Bedroom, hot shot."

Tom straightened up and headed obediently to the bed. At the foot of the bed, Tom hesitated and looked uncertainly at

Chakotay stepped closer to the tall pilot and lifted the shirt up and off. "How do you feel about the socks?"

"Off is okay."

"Do it." Tom pulled off one and then the other. With Chakotay's help, the rest of his clothes disappeared as well. "Go ahead
and lie face down on the bed." 

When Tom lay flat, he turned his face so he could see the other man. "Um. Chakotay. Am I the only one who's gonna be
undressed here?"

"For the time being. As I said, I promised to clean you up."


"Nothing to be disappointed about. I think you'll like it."

A different, lighter 'oh' came from the pilot. 

Chakotay obtained the supplies he wanted from the bathroom and from his replicator. When he rejoined Tom and sat on the
side of the bed beside the younger man, he placed towels close at hand, a basin of warm, sudsy water on the floor, a soft
sponge, a coarse loofah.

He used the sponges to wash down the sweaty skin, adding a little body oil to the water in the basin. He began with the back of
Tom's head, bathing the hair and scalp with the silky water, toweling off the excess. Then he moved down to the sloping
shoulders so lightly dusted with freckles. The sponge smoothed across the surface and Chakotay lifted first one arm and then
the other. With long strokes, he brought the sponge across the surfaces of the muscles and tendons. 

Next, Chakotay let the sponge glide down Tom's back, and worked slowly and easily along the thighs and calves, then the long
feet. He had Tom turn over onto his back. The sponge continued its work up the legs to the chest and to Tom's neck and face. 

Chakotay paused for a moment and regarded the object of his ministrations. Tom lay almost bonelessly, a look of peace on his
face. As if he felt Chakotay's scrutiny, Tom opened his eyes and smiled.

It was a face-brightening smile, full of appreciation for his partner's actions. Chakotay returned the smile and knew his dimples
smiled along with the rest of him. "Close your eyes," he urged quietly and Tom complied.

Picking up the loofah, Chakotay choose the rougher side, placed the ends in his hands, and worked the cloth down over Tom's
chest, down the legs to the feet. The harsher fabric had the effect of sensitizing the skin even more."Roll over."

With a groan of frustration, Tom turned over, adjusted himself for comfort, and lay with outspread arms and legs. The loofah
finished the backs of his legs, his back and shoulders.

Chakotay stopped all movement of his own, removed his clothes, and crawled up on the bed to finish what he'd begun. He
would make love to Tom.

When both achieved the annihilation of all rational thought and when all sensation became centered in the elation of spirit that
accompanied such an intense experience, there was finally no movement to be seen at all save that of bodies struggling to
breathe. Chakotay lay still for a moment, savoring the delicious double sensation of physically being where he was while also
being mentally flung on a whirlwind tour of the entire galaxy. Both remained motionless with Chakotay's larger frame covering
the more slender one.

At some point, Tom seemed to struggle under him and Chakotay realized, as thoughts streamed back into his head from their
momentary dislocation to the other side of the galaxy, that he must be crushing his partner with his greater weight. He rolled off
and Tom's body heaved as if this was the first good breath he'd had in awhile. Otherwise, he didn't move. 

Finally, all senses came back on line and Chakotay reached a hand over to pat Tom's butt.

"Ouch," was the indignant response.

"So. Hurts a little, huh?"

"Hurts a lot," Tom protested. He rolled to his side so that he both faced Chakotay and took his ass out of play. With his head
propped up on his hand, Tom's smile belied the complaint."Wanna do all that again?"

Chakotay laughed. "Not right now, but I'll be ready to go in, oh, about an hour."

"Ouch," was Tom's rejoinder. Sleepy eyes held Chakotay's warm, dark ones. Bravely, he volunteered, "I'll be ready."


"Did I pass?" Tom asked and the playfulness was gone.

"It wasn't a test."

"Sure it was."

Shaking off the post-coital lassitude, Chakotay realized that Tom was serious. He pushed himself up to a sitting position to scan
the beautiful body stretched out next to him. "I've claimed you, Tom. I want you in this bed with me every night of every year
for the rest of my life."

"That long?" 

He smiled at the way Tom couldn't let such a topic go by without a smart-ass remark. He bent down to kiss the face that tried
so hard to hide its vulnerability, "Yes, that long. And longer."

"Oh." The word escaped in between kisses. "Um. Are you going to spank me like that every night?"

"Only when you need it." Chakotay smothered any further words with dominating kisses that flattened Tom's head against the

"Oh, geez."

"You keep talking and it might be tonight." 

That seemed to shut the mouth under his. With a strength he didn't know he could find after what they had both experienced,
Chakotay kissed the other into total submission. Tom didn't say another word all night. However, when needed, his body
spoke for him.

End Part 12

Part 13

Kathryn paced the narrow confines of her cell in the brig. Since her shouting match with Chakotay yesterday, she'd simply
received a comm from Tuvok that she should be ready to meet with the senior staff this morning. Nothing else. Damn them all! 

Despite her irritation, she knew that the treatments she'd been receiving from the holodoctor had noticeably reduced her anger.
She'd have to work to get it back. She wondered what was Chakotay's excuse for all the venom he'd spewed out yesterday. 

She wished she could talk to Lt. Jerabek. There was something so clear in that woman's point of view. She had the ship
divided up into simply defined camps. There were enemies, naturally, that included virtually all of the men. Only those males she
could manipulate were provisionally considered 'not enemies'. And then there were friends, which was a category composed of
only women, and then only women who shared her perspective. It had been refreshing to talk over things with Chalice Jerabek.
There had been no greys, no ambiguities, no uncertainties. 

Now she wondered where that clarity of viewpoint had gone. Some of what Chakotay and she had argued about came back.
Did he really believe she only wanted others on the ship to agree with her? That she didn't want genuine discussion, just a
ratification -- wasn't that his word, ratification? -- of her preconceived opinions? Well, if she did, what was so wrong with that?
She was the captain. 

They commed her and she walked with her escort to the conference room from her cell, head held high, uniform as neat as she
could make it after spending so much time in the brig. En route, she ignored crew members that they encountered. At the
entrance to the room, she smoothed back her hair, then entered. 

Gathered around the table were Tuvok and Chakotay sitting next to each other. Flanking them on either side were Harry and
B'Elanna. Neelix sat next to Harry and Seven sat next to B'Elanna. The holodoc occupied the chair next to Seven. To her
surprise, Tom Paris, in a pipless uniform, sat beside Neelix. She noticed there was no unoccupied chair for herself so she stood
at parade rest before the group. 

Tuvok opened the proceedings. "Kathryn Janeway, we have reviewed your conduct, heard testimony from the concerned
parties, and hereby reduce you in rank from captain to lieutenant commander." She realized that placed her lower on the
hierarchy than either Tuvok or Chakotay. 

Despite the demotion, she said nothing as Tuvok continued. "After a ten-day confinement in the brig, you will be assigned to the
Science section. You will move to quarters in keeping with your rank and for a period of 30 days you will be confined to those
quarters when you are not working. The holodoctor will provide regular updates on your state of mind should you agree to his
treatment. These updates will be reviewed in six months, and if they are favorable, and if your work ratings are positive, you
will be considered for a higher rank. In time, you may earn back the rank of captain." 

In some ways it was worse than what she had imagined. In other ways, however, it was more lenient. All eyes were on her.
"No corporal punishment?" she asked with a smirk. 

It was Chakotay who answered her, "No. I've banned the public practice on this ship. Misdeeds will no longer be punished that

A funny look was exchanged between him and Paris and the ghost of a smile emerged briefly on the pilot's face. She wished
she knew what that was about. Probably the new captain's ruling had spared the young man another painful whipping. At the
same time, it had spared her as well. She supposed she should be grateful. "None whatsoever?" 

"I didn't say that," Chakotay replied evenly. 

She noticed that Paris blushed and B'Elanna gave Harry a significant look. Interesting. 

"Do you have anything to say?" Tuvok inquired. 

Did she? Well, a little humility might be called for here. "I apologize to all of you and to all of the ship's crew for my conduct." 

She kept her eyes on Tom Paris whose tired blue eyes stared back at her. His gaze dropped and she remembered the words
he'd said ship-wide yesterday, the momentary fear she'd had that he might have done something to harm himself. "Tom, I'm
sorry. Your actions on Monea were wrong, but I overreacted. I wish I hadn't caused you so much unhappiness that you
thought you had to leave the ship. You have been a valuable pilot and a valuable member of this crew. I hope you will
remember that in the future." 

When he looked back up at her, obviously surprised, his eyes were magnified by sudden tears. After swallowing, he murmured,
"Yes, ma'am." 

That was as much as she would give them. "I'd like to know what happens to Jerabek and the others who were involved in
yesterday's incident." 

"Chalice Jerabek has been demoted to crewman and when she is released from the brig in 10 days she will be assigned to
waste management. Confinement to her quarters during off-duty hours will continue for a period of 60 days. She is taking some
time to decide if she wishes to remain on the ship. You and she are not to have contact of any nature in the next 60 days. 

"The four crewmen who beat Mr. Paris have asked to be let off the ship and they will be confined to the brig until we have
located a suitable planet for their departure. We have not dealt with the rest of your supporters as yet. They will be reviewed
later this morning on a case by case basis." Tuvok's rundown was matter-of-fact. 

"I would like to enter a plea on their behalf. They believed in me and what they did is because I encouraged them to challenge
the fact that I was relieved of my command. I hope you will be lenient." 

"We will take your concerns under consideration," Tuvok promised. 

"And Tom Paris?" she questioned. 

Once more, Tuvok spoke for the group. "Mr. Paris will have the rank of ensign and will be on rotation as a pilot. He is
removed from his position as chief pilot for 90 days, at which time his performance will be reviewed. Additional shifts in
sickbay will be added to his work schedule. When not on duty, he will be confined to his quarters for 30 days. He will receive
counseling from Mr. Neelix and regular evaluations from the doctor." 

Chakotay stood up, walked over to Paris, and handed him a pip. At the surprised expression on Tom's face, it was clear that
he had not heard about his fate before, nor had he expected the pip. He played the small disk over and over in his fingers. 

She gave some thought to Tuvok's summary of the disciplinary actions taken against the crew. Obviously, they didn't give a flip
about her opinion but she decided to provide it anyway. "Seems reasonable." 

She suppressed her smile at their reactions. No response from Tuvok, naturally, unless a raised eyebrow counted. Wariness
from B'Elanna and Chakotay, now returned to his seat. Neutrality from Seven. Relief from Harry and Neelix. Scrutiny from the
doctor. And a look of suffering from Paris. Well, it would take awhile before there could be any healing between herself and
the pilot, if it ever happened. 

For the first time, Chakotay spoke up. "All of us wish you well in your treatments with the doctor." 

"Oh? I'd think you would benefit the most from my continued 'incapacity'." She couldn't resist the jab. 

He sighed. "Then you don't know me well at all." 

The quiet way he spoke gave her no entry for a sharp rejoinder and, with a start, Kathryn realized that she actually regretted
her words. Maybe a little of that humility would be appropriate here. "I shouldn't have said that." 

Tuvok stood up and she realized she was being dismissed. Time to return to the brig. Well, she'd go with dignity. 


Tom squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. That had gone better than he'd feared it would with Janeway. He'd managed to
actually look at her without blushing from embarrassment or anger, well, except for that one reference to corporal punishment.
Chakotay hadn't really physically hurt him other than in the short term, but the fact that it had happened and that he had
somehow welcomed it concerned him. The safest interpretation was that his guilt had been redressed. 

He tuned in to the conversation which, as much as he could figure, was about Janeway. Big surprise there. The doctor was
droning on about how it was too early to see the results yet, but his treatments really would work given enough time. He tuned
out again. 

"Ensign." Tuvok's voice reached him on what apparently was not the first try. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Ensign Kim will escort you to your quarters." 

"Yes, sir."

With a quick glance around the conference room, Tom tried to stop his gaze from lingering on Chakotay any longer than it did
on the others. But he saw warmth in those brown eyes. Surprisingly, even B'Elanna seemed disinclined to kill him. 

"Come on, Tom," Harry urged with a hand to his elbow. 

In the corridors Tom couldn't help but feel that there was something on Harry's mind from the way he kept darting glances his
way. "Okay, Harry, what is it?" 

"What's what?" 

"Harry, we've known each other for too long. Give." 

Harry halted and Tom followed suit. "Did you stay with Chakotay last night?" 

A little hammering sped up his heartbeat. Tom tired to keep his voice casual. "What's this all about, Har?" 

"Did you?" 

"Yes." Tom spoke the word with as much finality as he could muster. 

"I don't get it. Since when are you attracted to guys?" 

"Is that it? You don't approve?" 

"Tom, I don't know what I think. Until two days ago, I thought ... I don't know, hell, I thought you and B'Elanna were gonna
get married, have kids, you know." 

The defensiveness Tom had begun to feel faded a little bit. He realized that he and Harry really hadn't had much of a chance to
talk to each other since he'd gone off in the Delta Flyer. "Let's go to my room. I'll buy you a beer. Oh, wait, someone
sabotaged my replicator. I'll buy you a root beer." 

Tom kept his tone joking and flung a companionable arm across Harry's shoulders as they resumed their trip to Tom's quarters.
Once inside, Tom noticed that the blood had been cleaned up off his carpet and couch, thank the gods for modern cleaning
techniques. His belongings from B'Elanna's were still strewn across the floor, scattered even more than they had been thanks to
the kidnappers. 

"Kind of a mess, huh?" Harry acknowledged and began to help Tom pick up his possessions. 

"No shit, Har." When there was nothing left to pick up, Tom flopped on the couch while Harry took up residence on a nearby
chair. Although Harry still looked as if he had something to say, Tom waited in vain for him to begin. "Okay, Harry, talk to me."

"All right. First off, I'm glad you didn't leave the ship. I don't know how you feel about me right now, but I still think of you as
my friend." 

"I think we're friends, Harry, it's just hard to forget that paddling you gave me. And this thing you seem to have about me and
Chakotay ... Look. B'Elanna dumped me. And I don't think she wants me back even if I do a month of groveling and let her
break every bone in my body." 

"She doesn't," Harry confirmed. 

"So. How do you know?" 

"We've been talking. She thinks Chakotay would be good for you." 

"Oh?" Tom wondered. 

Harry looked embarrassed. "Yeah." 

"That's it?" Tom was sure there was more to this story. "Harry? Why does B'Elanna think that?" 

Definitely, Harry was embarrassed. "She thinks Chakotay will 'take you in hand'." 

"'Take me in hand'? What exactly does that mean?" 

Harry mumbled something. 


Finally, Harry blurted it out. "He's supposed to spank you." 

"Fuck!" There were no secrets on this ship. None. Fuck it all to hell. 

"You mean he did?" Harry had just received confirmation from Tom's reaction. 

He had only a moment to savor that tidbit when the former chief pilot launched himself at Harry, knocking him off the chair and
rolling him around on the floor. Harry fought back and Tom determined that he would pin the other man if it was the last thing
he did. Finally, his height gained him some advantage and he sat atop Harry's chest in breathless triumph. "Don't you ever say a
word to anyone, do you hear me?" 

"I swear," Harry gasped. 

"Not even B'Elanna. No, make that, especially not B'Elanna. Got that?" 

"Got it, now get off me. You're heavy." 

"You promise, Harry?" 

"Tom, I promise, I swear, honest. Let me up." 

Not sure if he could really trust Harry on this matter, nevertheless, Tom stood up, then gave Harry a hand up. When he'd
caught his breath, Harry began to laugh. 

"What? What's so funny?" 

"What if ... " Harry couldn't finish the thought before another gale of laughter hit him. "Okay. Okay. What if Chakotay had
walked in on us?" 

"Oh, shit, Harry." 

Laughing, Harry shoved Tom a little with his elbow. "Huh? Think he'd give it to you for fighting? What about it? You gonna get
it for any little thing or just the big stuff?" 

It was hard to maintain the indignant stance he'd adopted when he was laughing so hard, totally doubled over. Each time he
thought he might be regaining control he looked at Harry and they both started laughing all over again, as if hysterical laughter
could fix everything. And maybe it fixed something. Finally, all laughed out, except for the occasional chuckle, Tom gave Harry
a slap on the back. "Friends, Harry?" 

"Yeah. Friends." 

Tom fetched them both a cold drink from the replicator. Harry accepted the glass, looked him straight in the eye, and asked,
"All right. Details, Paris. Details." 

"You sure you can take it, Harry?" 

With a twinkle in his dark eyes, Harry assured him, "Anything you can dish out, Paris. Now, give." 

"As long as you never tell anyone." 

"I already swore I wouldn't." 


They took seats on the couch, drinks in hand, and Tom began. "Harry. It was incredible. Fantastic. Unbelievable." 

"Really?" Harry squeaked. 

"Really." Tom's expression became wistful. "If I believed in love, that kind of stuff, you know. I think I could love that man." 





Chakotay commed Tom to tell him he was on the way. It had been a long day, after a short, but rather exciting night. Today he
and Tuvok had had to deal with more than a dozen crew who believed they were doing what their former captain wanted them
to do on the holodeck. He'd had to let the ship know the status of everyone involved, including himself. He'd told them that he
was no longer considered Acting Captain, but Captain. Definitely, one long, hard day. And with Tom confined to his quarters, if
he wanted to see the man, he had to go there, not to his own, larger cabin with the accouterments befitting his former status as
First Officer. He'd been urged by some to move into the Captain's quarters. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. Not yet. 

At Tom's cabin, the doors opened for him and he stepped inside. He wasn't sure what he expected to find. There had been no
chance to talk to Tom privately. He didn't know if Tom thought his punishment had been fair, if the man might be disgruntled by
all that had been thrown at him. He needn't have worried. Tom came to the door just as they closed behind Chakotay and
enclosed him in a hug, kissing him as if they'd been apart for years instead of hours. 

Finally, Chakotay stepped back. The kisses were a reflection of Tom's overall state of happiness, at least if the expression on
his face was any indication. There was a strong, direct light in the blue eyes that made them seem as if some internal generator
powered their luminance. For a moment, Chakotay felt as if the breath had been punched out of him. Tom's beauty promised
mysterious rewards to any so lucky as to be in his arms. 

"Hi," Tom greeted shyly now that the nonverbal part was over. 

Chakotay unleashed a powerful grin and reached a hand up to stroke Tom's smooth cheek. Either the man didn't grow much
facial hair or he'd recently shaved. Well, over time, Chakotay would come to know which hypothesis was correct. In the
meantime, he enjoyed the fact that this face was directing its full attention to him and seemed to be waiting expectantly for some
word from him. All the tiredness disappeared as an excitement developed that was clearly triggered by proximity to Tom Paris.
"So. How was your day?" 

Tom apparently wanted a different greeting, his shoulders slumped and he almost turned away. "Fine." 

"Tom." The blue eyes swung back to him, hopeful, ready. "Let's catch up later, shall we?" 

This was better. A big grin emerged from the clouds that had settled on his face. "Bed?" 

At Chakotay's happy confirmation, Tom was off to the other room. But he didn't mind. It gave him a chance to push the pilot
down onto the bed and smother him with his body. He didn't think he'd let Tom up for a long, long time. 


"Captain Chakotay seems to be okay." 

"He was pretty fair with the punishment." 

"I hear he spanked Paris." 

"No! Where did you hear that?" 

"Well, I've got this friend in engineering, and .... " 

"Oh, wait until I tell my friends!" 

"No. No, you can't. It's supposed to be a secret." 

"On this ship?" 


Later, Tom snuggled beside Chakotay on the bed, content in a way he hadn't been in a long time. With a satisfied smile,
Chakotay asked him, "So how was your day?" 

"I think Harry and I are back to being friends." 

"That's good. Is he okay with us?" 

"I'm not sure 'okay' is the word. He thought B'Elanna and I were going to get married, have kids and make him an uncle. It's
taking a little adjustment on his part." 

"Well, as long as he's willing to try." 

"He is." Tom propped himself up on one elbow. "Chakotay?" 


"He knows." 

"Knows what?" 

"Well, B'Elanna told him that you were gonna spank me. Why would she say that to him?" 

"Ah-h. Does that bother you?" 

"It did. I guess I've gotten over it." Sort of. Not very well. Hell, not in a million years. 

"Uh-huh. Well, we all have pasts." 

"So? Are you going to tell me?" 

"Maybe later," Chakotay promised vaguely. 

Tom felt himself being swept underneath the captain, his mouth the object of intense kisses, his body the recipient of groping
hands that seemed to want to hold him, stroke him, fondle him, love him all at the same time. 

A guy could get used to this. No question about it. Absolutely. Oh, gods, he'd died and gone to heaven. 

The End

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