He Could Do This
Summary: In this story, set after Caldik Prime a young Tom Paris has a life that's heading into a train wreck, using others and being used in turn. Tom has no money, no home, no job, and no prospects. Lots of Tom angst as he takes those first steps that lead to selling himself.
Disclaimer: These folks belong to Paramount. The story is mine, the inspiration came from an anonymous other.. Also, a debt of thanks to JanF for her story Torn, about an alcoholic Tom from girlfriend Ricky's POV . Thanks also to Jacki for her comments on this story. I've based the process that leads Tom down that slippery slope to prostitution on the often tragic outcomes for teenage runaways in the US. Although there are differences, I thought there were enough parallels to borrow from these unfortunate situations. Copyright 1998.
Warning: R for language and intense, disturbing situations. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that Tom could sell himself, please read elsewhere. This story involves sexual situations with Tom and a female and a male.
Please Archive at ASC/ASCEM. Post to BLTS. Please leave all disclaimers and warnings intact.
At 24, drinking his calories, Tom Paris was a willowy youth with long, sun bleached hair who was encountering hard times. The last of his credits had run out, he'd been evicted from the vermin infected room he'd been renting, and he was far from Earth. With a shoulder pack of his meager belongings, he headed to the local pool hall. He had enough credits left for several drinks. A few days prior he'd managed to hustle some games of pool and win credits, enough to keep him in drinks for awhile. Early evening and his hands were shaking slightly from alcohol withdrawal, but he tucked them in his pockets as he entered the pool hall bar. Now, many hours later, he lay in an alley, the stench of vomit in his nostrils. He didn't remember getting to the alley. In fact, he didn't remember much at all after entering the pool hall bar.
His head hurt, in fact, it throbbed. His mouth was a drought stricken disaster area. And the tendrils of daylight that filtered into the alley hurt his eyes. He rolled from his side to his back and groaned audibly. All of his muscles protested and suggested that maybe he'd fallen pretty hard on to the unforgiving pavement of the alley. Muzzily, he tried to reconstruct his evening and how he'd ended up here. Answers weren't forthcoming and the urgent pressure in his bladder took precedence over this puzzle. Still staggering from the effects of the alcohol, somehow he remembered to snag his pack over his shoulder as he lurched awkwardly to his feet. A hand against the alley wall, Tom stumbled deeper into the alley to find a dark recess in which to relieve himself.
He spent a few hours sitting and dozing in a public park beneath a tree, the shade helping to keep the bright sunlight from assaulting his still sensitive eyes. When not snoozing, he wondered if he should be worried about the blackout. It wasn't as if it was the first time. And it wasn't as if there was any one to talk to about it, even if he had been one to bleed his feelings all over the place. His closest friends were dead because of him. His family was estranged from him and his life was as empty and as hopeless as one of the glasses he'd drunk from last night. At least he assumed he'd drunk from a glass. Who knew? He sure as hell didn't.
Tom seemed to remember being offered a hypospray to sober up by the barkeep. Some belligerence on his own part, after all he'd spent good credits getting drunk. Did he take a swing a the barkeep when he cut Tom off from further drinks? He flashed on being tossed bodily out of the bar. However, the rest was a blank, preserved in an alcoholic archive inaccessible to his conscious mind. The despair swept through him in another wave of bleak self-reflection. Withdrawal was hell.
Well, if he'd done something to embarrass himself in the bar he'd gone to last night, there was always another bar to frequent. He had them all pretty well scoped out. He picked another one for the upcoming evening with a pool hall, the better to maybe hustle a game of pool that he could win. After cleaning up at the park's restroom, and napping a little longer in the fading sunlight, Tom headed to it.
Looking around after he entered the bar, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, he finally spotted a possible prospect, a somewhat older human woman, maybe 30 something, stalking around a pool table, her cue tucked under her arm. Tom joined a few others near the table where she played against a much older, maybe 50 something human male.
As Tom lounged against the wall watching the action, he slowly became aware of someone else watching him. She was sitting at a table with another woman. The watcher faced him, her companion had her back to him. The woman was a few years older than he with wide set eyes, color indeterminate in the dim light, red hair, and lots of large white teeth that her mouth formed around in an almost constant smile. Conscious of the woman's eyes on him, Tom gave a slight nod of acknowledgment, then turned his attention back to the game.
A man he'd played against and lost to almost a week ago sidled up to him with an extra drink in his hands. Pher was almost a twin to the older man playing pool. Both were on the short side, pot bellied, faces sunburned from the hot Yntryl sun. The pool player had no hair, Pher did. Based on playing with Pher and watching the other man, Tom knew Pher to be the better pool player. "Here you go, son. No hard feelings."
Gratefully, Tom accepted the drink. "None at all. Thanks, Pher."
As Tom continued to watch the game, the man said, "So, what do you think, Tom? Can you beat her?"
So far she'd just about wiped the table clean. "I don't think so. But I bet you could."
As the man digested that information, Tom raised the glass to his mouth and drew deeply on the drink. Scotch, just his favorite, interesting that the pool player had remembered. It burned and he almost shuddered as it went down. Apart from some leftovers he'd watched a couple leave behind in the park and which he'd retrieved and eaten, this drink was the only other thing he'd ingested all day.
Before matters could progress, the companion of the woman at the table got up and left and the watching woman looked over at Tom with a welcoming smile. He quirked a smile back at her and her eyebrow invited him over. Making his excuses to Pher and thanking him again for the drink, Tom slowly walked over to the table. He missed the pool player's shrug as he headed over to the woman's table. "May I?"
Her voice was low, throaty, and seductive, "I'd be disappointed if you didn't."
Placing his drink on the table and slinging his shoulder bag onto the floor next to his chair, Tom sat down in the seat vacated by the woman's companion. "I see you're all alone."
"Pity, isn't it? I'm Marlene."
"Tom." They raised glasses in a silent salute and smiled cautiously at one another.
"I'm a pilot," he told her. "Looking for a little work actually."
"Ah," she said and her smile broadened as her large teeth flashed in approval.
Small talk, drinking and snacking bar food (on her, after all he'd told her he was looking for work), and flirting made the hours pass quickly. Tom found the alcohol worked quickly and well, dimming his inner pain, quelling the slight shake in his hands. In fact, Tom was beyond buzzed, occupying that place where his feet, when he walked, floated above the ground and had to be placed very carefully so that they stuck to the floor and didn't wander off on their own. He gave her his best smiles, his most self-deprecating humor, and without saying so, indicated his availability to accompany her anywhere.
A standard Tom Paris conquest for the night. They'd flirt, they'd fuck, they'd sleep for awhile, and he'd shower and leave before dawn. Usually the beds were soft, the linens clean, the bathroom facilities in working order. At times, his companion would invite him back for a repeat visit or two, she'd fix him some meals, maybe give him a few gifts, a few new clothes, and he'd sleep easily in her bed, his nightmares quelled by sex and alcohol. Then it would end, his emotional unavailability preventing him from staying long.
As it turned out, Marlene was visiting in town, or so she said, and took him back to her hotel room. He hadn't drunk so much that he couldn't perform, in fact, he'd never had that problem unless he just passed out. It was a nice coupling as these things went. He liked Marlene's easy banter with him and made a special effort to please her. From the reactions of her body and her later praise he felt pleased that he'd succeeded. After a long nap, Tom got up and made it to the bathroom where he showered, grateful the place had a real water shower not like the sonic shower at his last place. He shaved with the kit from his bag. Rummaging in the bag he found some clean underwear, noted that he needed to find a refresher soon, and dressed ready to go.
Marlene was awake, wrapped in a robe, when he emerged from the bathroom. Only about 10% illumination lit the room. She smiled at him, those large teeth dominating her face in a not unpleasant way, and escorted him to the hotel room door. She gave him a kiss at the door which he returned, it had been a good evening, after all. Then she poked something into his breast pocket. Genuinely puzzled, he asked, "What's this?"
"Til you find work. Come back some time. I'll be here all week. My comm id's in there."
Confused and embarrassed, Tom made his way out into the early morning bustle of the city. Once on the sidewalk, he pulled the credits from his pocket. His pursed lips almost whistled at the amount. Then his face flooded red as he realized he'd just been paid for sex. He almost went back up to her room to tell her he couldn't take it, but he was broke and hungry, he knew he'd want to have a drink or two later in the day, and he figured he'd never see her again. He'd just try to think of this as another gift, like a meal or some other tangible that he'd been willing to accept in the past. It would be okay. He could do this.
During the week, as he tried to find work, he used her money for another run down room, for some food, not much, and for enough booze to damp down the shame he felt at accepting her payment. He didn't go home with anyone and barely endured the loneliness of his room after the bars closed. If he was lucky he passed out on his bed, if not, his mind took him to task for taking those credits. It'd been one thing to accept drinks, a meal, a bed for a night when it was about mutual gratification, mutual assuagement of loneliness, whatever. He'd never seen that as payment for sex, just part of the process of companionship for an evening. But this. Credits put into his pocket for sex, that was harder to rationalize as part of the process and his acquiescence gnawed at him.
About the middle of the week, the pool player Pher bought him another drink at the pool hall. As they exchanged small talk over a nonwagered game, Tom began to realize that the man was coming on to him. Uncomfortable, Tom began to look for a way out, but there were no women giving him a come hither look as Marlene had done earlier in the week. Finally, the game concluded and Tom started to make his excuses.
"Tom. Easy, boy. Look, I know you've fallen on tough times. Come home with me, we'll have some more drinks, some laughs. I'll make it worth your while."
It took Tom a moment to realize what the man meant. "You. . . you . . . " he stumbled over his words, his face flushing with embarrassment.
"Son. It's a simple deal. You need credits. I'd like some of what you have to offer, nice looking boy like you."
Stunned at the blatant proposition, Tom put down his pool cue in its rack and eyed the man angrily. "Just what do you take me for?"
"Face it, son, you have only one thing to offer. And I'm willing to buy it."
"I'm a pilot, not a . . ." he couldn't say the word but he thought it. He wasn't a whore, not now and never would be. "Get lost."
Pher smiled at him. "I'm here most nights, just like you are. Let me know when you change your mind. Rate you're going, it's only a matter of time. And watch it, cause the pimps are going to start coming after you. They'll sense that you're ready to go to work for them."
Tom's anger boiled over. "I won't!"
He left the bar as fast as his dignity and his state of intoxication would allow him. He didn't return for several days, finding another place to drink. As his credits ran out, and he was once again on the street, he remembered Marlene. Maybe she'd like to spend an evening with him. Along with the credits, she'd given him her personal comm id. Finding a public comm booth with a vid screen, Tom took a few deep breaths. The drink he'd already had steadied him as he placed the comm.
Much to his relief, when she saw who it was, she smiled at him. "Ah. Tom. The pilot?"
He grinned back at her. "Hey. I see you haven't forgotten. I was wondering how you were."
It was lame, but he wasn't sure how else to proceed. 'Hey, you want to fuck' seemed a little too brash, even for him.
"Fine. Doing fine. I'm busy tonight . . ." shit, Tom thought, she doesn't want to see me, ". . . but I'm free tomorrow night. Say, my place, 1900 hours? Remember where I am?"
"Sure do," Tom told her trying to muster enthusiasm for having to wait a whole day before they could get together. "I'll be there."
She cut the comm link and he collapsed against the wall of the comm booth. The call had taken some of his remaining credits and a lot of his pride. When he wasn't trying to justify his behavior, telling himself that she was nice, she liked him, after all she'd been the one who'd invited him back, and crap like that, he knew, as surely as he'd been a fucking coward after Caldik Prime, that he'd called her for only one reason and that was for credits. He'd have sex with her and she'd give him credits.
He sensed that he'd reached a new low in a life filled with lows. Passing out in alleys, hustling pool games for credits, and now this. Maybe Pher was right. He had one thing to sell and in this instance at least it was to someone like Marlene, not some pool hustler like Pher. Tom shuddered to think about that. What if he'd been so drunk that he couldn't walk away? He'd have to watch how much he drank around guys like that. A seductive voice in his mind tried to soothe him. Nothing had been said about credits. Marlene was under no obligation to give him anything, was she? Hell, she might not put anything in his pocket this time.
And wasn't it more of a date? They'd get to know each other, there'd be companionship, maybe there wouldn't even be any sex. Unfortunately as comforting as those thoughts were, they ignored the fact that he wouldn't have commed her unless he was willing to sleep with her and his reason for wanting to sleep with her had to do with his anticipation of receiving more credits. Snorting with disgust at his rationalizations, Tom left the booth.
At this point, he had enough credits of his own for either a meal or another drink. No contest. The drink won out. Returning to the bar he'd frequented since the pool hall incident with Pher, he spent most of the evening nursing the last drink he could afford sitting at a stool at the bar. Toward the end of the evening, a guy maybe ten years older than Tom, not too bad looking, average really, sidled up to him and sat at an empty stool to Tom's right. "Hey."
"Hey," Tom replied.
"See you got a bag with you." The man nodded toward Tom's shoulder bag, now at his feet on the floor.
"Hmm," Tom replied noncommitally.
"Saw you the past few nights. You didn't have a bag."
Tom began to feel the slightest edge of annoyance. It didn't help that he hadn't eaten all day, that he'd only had two drinks all day so far and could really use more, and that he felt like shit over the call he'd made earlier. "So?"
"Hey, don't get testy. Here. Let me buy you a drink."
That was more like it, friendly even. Tom's hostility ratcheted down a notch or two. In a more conciliatory tone, but still wary, Tom said, "All right."
The drink was served and the stranger said, "I'm George."
Tom snorted. "Yeah. Sure. Know anyone who needs a pilot?"
George sipped his drink before replying. "Maybe. You a pilot?"
"Yeah. And a damn good one."
George didn't look too impressed. "Might know something. Let me ask around."
Tom had led a somewhat sheltered life as an Admiral's son. As long as he had credits, he hadn't had to deal with the shady side of life very much. It wasn't too surprising that he was naive. Knocking about the Alpha Quadrant with credits was very different from this hand to mouth existence he'd faced the past few weeks. When George offered to help, he took the man's words at face value.
"Sure, I might be able to help. So. . . "
At this offer, Tom's surliness evaporated. The drink helped to soothe him as well. George was looking better and better and Tom felt sure the other man was interested in him. Not blatantly like the pool hall shark Pher, not as a business transaction, but as someone who found him attractive. If there was one thing Tom was not naive about, it was his good looks. He knew people found him attractive, especially when he smiled at them. That he hadn't allowed a guy to pick him up before was maybe narrowminded of him. George might get him a job piloting, surely, he could return a little of George's evident interest in him. He gave George one of his smiles that broadcast a reciprocal interest.
As it looked as if they were going to leave the bar together, George casually asked him, "So, Tom, how much do you usually charge?"
The alcohol had fogged his mind some and Tom replied earnestly, "I usually work that out with the owner. Depends on how far the flight is, where it's going, if an overnight is involved, that kind of thing."
George looked at him as if he couldn't believe Tom's response. He laughed and shook his head. "You are something else, Tom, you really are."
Tom couldn't help blushing furiously as he realized that George could have been asking him about his rates for something other than flying. George sympathized, "I really like you, Tom. What do you say?"
"What about a piloting job?" Tom was a little fixated on that part of the conversation.
"As I said, I gotta ask around." George waited for Tom to process that easy promise, one he had no intention of keeping. George didn't know anyone to ask. He just wanted this boy in his bed tonight, and for many more nights to come. Basically, he'd tell the kid anything if it furthered his plans. "So, what do you say? Shall we go?"
George took Tom's arm, while Tom's other hand reached down for his bag. They left the bar, George firmly gripping Tom's arm and steering him in the right direction towards his hovercar. At the car, Tom began to realize what he was getting into, going to George's home as if George somehow was going to change sex and become female. But he realized that he was getting into the hovercar of a man who'd made it as clear as had Marlene what he really wanted. Tom pulled his arm away from George. "I . . .I don't . . . I can't, I haven't . . ."
The streetlights weren't all that much help, but George picked up fear in the tall boy at his side. Had he wasted most of his evening and a few credits buying this kid drinks only to have him back out? "What's the problem?"
"I can't do this, George. Leave me alone!" Tom felt panicked. He really couldn't do this. He didn't know George. All right, so he didn't have any credits, so George thought he could get him a piloting job, but he still couldn't do this.
As Tom started to stumble away from his would be partner for the night, George thought about going after the kid, but didn't. He knew the boy was going nowhere but downhill. Something about the kid seemed familiar. He'd conduct a little research and he'd be ready the next time their paths crossed. In fact, he'd make sure their paths crossed. George told him, "I'll be around when you can do it, kid. I'll be around. Just ask for George. You and me, we could make some credits."
Tom looked back over his shoulder at that remark and hurried away scared to death that George would come after him. The phrase 'we could make some credits' echoed in his mind. Had George meant what it sounded like? Cause it didn't sound like they were going piloting together. Remembering Pher's warning, Tom stumbled into an alley and threw up. He managed to stagger a few steps beyond the vomit before he collapsed trembling and shaking in the garbage strewn alley. He was too tired to go on. Pulling his bag under his head, Tom passed out in the alley.
Sometime around mid-afternoon Tom found himself using a public restroom to brush his teeth and shave. He washed his hair in the sink basin with the hand soap. There wasn't much he could do about his clothes, the place didn't have a refresher, but he changed into his last clean pair of underwear and his last clean shirt. The socks and pants left in his bag were in need of the 'fresher but he put them on anyway. As he looked at himself in the mirror, he noticed the way the pants hung off hips that were almost nonexistent and how the shirt tended to hide how very thin he'd become. He didn't look so great. He'd have to get a job soon. If he couldn't find one piloting, then surely there would be something else he could do. Bar keep maybe, he could probably do that.
He slung the bag over his shoulder, pushed his hands into his pants pockets and headed out. On the street he looked up and down trying to figure out what to do in the hours until his date with Marlene. He headed to the public information room three blocks away, not really noticing the environment on his way.
He'd been in this city for almost three months, had started with enough credits piloting a private yacht here to last him until he lined up a job. But somehow the jobs never materialized. Yntryl was a backwater at the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, not enough traffic Tom figured. The yacht owner, Tishlinal, had promised to put in a good word for him among her friends, but nothing ever came of it. Maybe he'd try to comm her, remind her about him.
Lost in his thoughts, Tom barely registered the run down look of the streets and buildings, the self-protective postures of the few pedestrians. He didn't recognize that the area perfectly mirrored his recent life: run down, seedy, and not a very good place to live.
At the public information room, he commed Tishlinal. He was actually a little surprised when he was asked to wait for only a few minutes and then the woman came on the vid screen. He smiled at her but she didn't smile back.
Marshaling his courage, Tom spoke up, "Tom Paris? I piloted your yacht here a little while ago?"
"Yes." Her voice was cold and unwelcoming.
He tried another smile, "I . . . uh. . . I was wondering if you'd heard of any piloting jobs . . .?"
"Mr. Paris. Please do not bother me again. I did what I said, I passed your name out among my friends. If they haven't needed your services, there is no more I can do for you."
"Oh, I'm sorry I bothered, it's just . . . "
"Paris. Listen to me, one of my friends looked you up and you were so drunk she told me she wouldn't trust you to walk her across the street much less pilot her yacht. Sober up, if you don't, you won't get any jobs, and I don't mean just piloting jobs. This is a small community and nobody hires a drunk. Now, don't contact me again."
Abruptly, she punched out and left Tom staring in shock at the vid. Who had tried to contact him? When was he so drunk he couldn't negotiate a piloting job? What was he going to do? He stumbled over to one of the chairs at a table near several computer terminals, his bag at his feet. Sitting in that chair, his head down, his eyes on the bag, Tom felt the full weight of his bleak future confront him. It was some minutes before he could look up. Fortunately, the few patrons of the room at this late afternoon hour paid him little heed. If they were here they had their own problems.
Taking a deep breath, he moved over to a computer terminal and asked it to display help wanteds. No piloting jobs, that was immediately evident. No bar keep jobs either. Someone wanted a night security guard, maybe his Starfleet training could come in handy. Uh-oh, he'd have to pass a security check. Getting dishonorably discharged from Starfleet wasn't going to look too good. Defeated by the scant pickings and by his own depression, Tom concluded that there really weren't any jobs that matched his abilities. As he looked at jobs that were more remote from his skills, he found he had no experience. These potential employers wanted people with several years of experience. How was he going to get experience if no one would hire him?
Having spent a discouraging and unproductive afternoon and early evening at the public information room, Tom headed out for his date with Marlene. At least this planned for liaison held some promise, even if he was trying very hard to hope that the subject of credits would never come up, that she'd stuff the credits in his pocket on his way out just as she had the last time.
Marlene greeted him at the door and motioned the young man inside, her large teeth filling her face as she smiled broadly at him. He dropped the bag inside her door and gave her the hug she seemed to expect. His nose wrinkled at the odors in the room. "Is that food?" he asked.
"Yes. Dinner. Didn't I mention it?" She grabbed his hand and brought him over to a table set for two. There was wine and entrees under cover. With her free hand she gave a little flourish and lifted the lid of one of the entrees. "Good, huh?"
Tom thought he might faint. It had been a long time since he'd actually had a real meal. "Smells great."
"How about pouring us some wine?"
He didn't need to be asked twice and handed her a glass with the pearl colored liquid. When he finished pouring a glass for himself, she led him over to her small couch. They ignored the bed tidily made up on the other side of the room. Time enough for that later. Raising their glasses in a toast, they sipped at their wine. Tom tried to hide the slight tremor in his hand by placing it down on his thigh, his grip tight on the glass. "This is nice," he told her sincerely, nodding to the wine.
She smiled at him, "Glad you like it."
"So. Is this your last night here?" Tom asked.
It was and she was returning the next day on the shuttle to the planet where she lived and worked. She'd been doing some business and visiting friends here on Yntryl. She asked him about piloting, and the small talk took them through drinks and dinner. Actually, as good as the meal appeared to be, and as hungry as Tom was, he found he had little appetite. Somehow the food tasted like cardboard in his mouth and he found it hard to swallow. He tried but he just couldn't get much down. Instead, he pushed it around on his plate and arranged it so it looked as if he'd eaten a lot more than he had. Of the wine, he was able to drink his share and then some as Marlene pointed to another bottle on a sideboard behind them.
Marlene didn't seem to notice how much he ate or drank, she seemed more engrossed in the pale blue eyes and lovely features of the youth before her. For his part, Tom tried not think about the contrast between this evening, a seemingly normal date between two young people, and the evenings he'd spent drunk and passed out in an alley way. At the rate things were going, the nights in the alleys were beginning to outnumber the nights in a date's apartment. With an effort, he tried to remain anchored in the here and now with Marlene and not in the desolate ruin that his life had become.
They left the dishes to be picked up by room service the next day and once again sat next to each other on the couch. This time, Tom placed his arm around her and leaned in to kiss her. It wasn't long before they were both on her bed, enjoying making love with each other, tenderly and sweetly, the last that Tom would experience for many years to come. Almost as if depressed by the foreshadowing of his future that he'd begun to see recently, Tom didn't have as much stamina as usual. Marlene didn't seem to mind and they fell asleep.
As he had done on the earlier occasion, Tom slept for a number of hours, then got up towards morning and showered. Once again, she waited for him wrapped in her robe. Exchanging kisses at the door, Tom picked up his bag to go, and tried not to think about credits. If he didn't think about it, maybe he hadn't set this up. But much to his shame and his relief she poked a handful of credits in his pocket.
"Hope you find work soon, Tom."
"Thanks, Marlene. Thanks for everything."
Having been paid, Tom fled the hotel room and headed down the stairs. Midway down, he stopped and with trembling fingers, pulled out the credits. It was the same as before and he breathed tightly, fighting at the hot sensation in his eyes. This time he'd make sure he found a job. He never wanted to go through something like that again.
He managed to stretch the credits out for a week and a half, but no jobs materialized. By the end of the time, even though he felt desperate, he had given up looking. He'd exhausted all the contacts he knew, the public information room visits had left him feeling unwanted and unneeded. He hadn't regained his appetite, food still felt tasteless and constituted an ordeal to get down. With a little black humor, he told himself that it only helped his credits to last longer. Heading to the bar where Pher hung out, he almost bumped into George crossing the street to head in the same direction.
"Uh. . . Tom. . . isn't it?"
"Right." Who was this? George the average guy who'd propositioned him not that long ago. "George?"
A smile creased George's face and almost made him look interesting. "How's it going?"
"Hey, did you talk to anyone about . . . you know, a piloting job for me?" Maybe George had a lead, Tom thought even as the futility of the notion seemed clear to him. Then George surprised him by looking thoughtfully at him.
"You know, I did talk to someone," George told the gaunt young man with the eager voice and he saw the blue eyes flicker momentarily with hope. "Look, why don't you come back with me? I'll comm him and we'll see what happens. By the way, you hungry? I've got some take-out."
Tom had to quell his suspicions about George's motives. After all, the man had recently propositioned him and now was asking him to his place. But he was offering a possible job and some food and not asking for anything in return. He ignored the uncertainty and even warning bells that were going off and shrugged, "Okay. Thanks."
Turning around, George smiled to himself, his grey eyes losing the warmth they'd offered to Tom. Suppressing his grin before Tom could see it, George led the kid to his hovercar and flew the few kilometers to his place. The place was not much, a bedroom, a bathroom, a living area and an alcove for food storage and preparation and a table and rickety chairs. He invited Tom in, noted the way the boy placed his bag on the floor by the door and then began plying the kid with drinks. He'd seen Tom drink at the bar, knew that there was an unquenchable thirst in this young man. George kept to his word, made a few comm tries, but shrugged to Tom when they produced no responses from the intended recipient. Unbeknownst to his guest, the comm tries had all been phony. "Sorry, kid. Here let me get you a fresh drink."
"Do you think he's just out for awhile and turned off his id? Maybe if we try again later. . . ?"
"Good idea. We'll try later," George reassured him.
After a few drinks the kid finally began to relax a little. George heated up the take out and, sitting on the couch, they ate off the coffee table, drinks at hand. Finishing quickly, George realized that his young guest was barely eating. "Hey, Tom, I thought you were hungry."
"Oh, this is fine," Tom tried to reassure George. After all, he didn't want to antagonize the man who might have a way to find him a job. "Guess I'm not that hungry after all."
"Not a problem, Tom," George told him smiling at him. Carefully, George took the plates and utensils in to the alcove and brought back his bottle of booze. They hadn't yet put that great a dent in it. George filled Tom's glass and his own, but unlike the kid, George just sipped at his drink. At the rate the boy was tossing it down, George figured he'd better make his move soon or the kid would be too far gone. Of course that might work, then the kid couldn't say no. But that wasn't how George saw himself operating. He wanted Tom to want him to take him. And, in turn, he'd instruct the boy in how to give him and anyone else a good time.
George brought out his best smile, and he had as many as did Tom Paris. This one he termed his seduction smile. It was meant to bring along a reluctant or inexperienced young thing, such as the one who sat there on his couch, all long thin legs and arms and unusually large blue eyes. He poured the boy more drink and let nature take its course. Nature felt a few nudges from George and from the alcohol that turned the boy's inhibitions inside out and that made him needy in a way that George took full advantage of. He suggested that Tom might like a hot bath and that his clothes could all go in the fresher while he bathed, ready for him when he got out.
Confused by the alcohol, Tom tried to figure out why he should turn down George's offer, but as George tactfully pointed out, his clothes and his body were a little ripe. A hot bath could feel really great. And George seemed very careful to respect his privacy, allowing Tom to strip behind the bathroom door and to place his clothes outside the door for George to put away in the fresher. It would be all right, Tom told himself as he slipped into the warmth of the large tub of hot water.
He wasn't sure how long a time had passed by as the bath soothed his muscles and calmed his confusion. There was a knock at the door. "Yeah?" Tom asked sleepily.
"Got a drink here for you. Can I bring it in?"
Covering himself modestly with a cloth, Tom agreed and George entered the steamy bathroom carrying a drink and smiling at Tom. Self-conscious, Tom invited George to set it down on the wide rim of the tub. Instead, George sat himself there, a little behind Tom so that Tom had to crane his neck to see the man and twist his torso to accept the drink that George placed in his hand. "How you doing, Tom? You know, I have a special soap I think you'd like. Mind?"
"Uh . . . huh?" With one hand holding the cloth over his crotch and another hand holding his drink, Tom realized he couldn't coordinate his thoughts with George's words.
George reached up to a shelf and palmed a container and held it up to show Tom. "A very nice soap. Here. Let me show you."
Without waiting for Tom's reply, George slicked some on his hands and placed them on Tom's shoulders, working the tight muscles there with strong fingers. He firmly kneaded the neck and shoulder muscles until Tom's tenseness began to disappear under the magic of the massage. Working very slowly, pausing only to remove his own shirt and pants, dim the lights, and to replenish the soap, George sat clad in only his shorts and massaged Tom's back, moving from the shoulders to the shoulder blades, then lower until he was at the small of Tom's back. As Tom began to tense up, George switched seats and faced Tom, working his shoulders now from the front instead of the back.
Tom's eyes closed under the slow, heavy massage, a massage that passed ever so slowly, ever so tenderly over his nipples until they were firm and aroused. He seemed to have been transported to another universe, one of pleasure and relaxation. Knowing he had to keep that mood, George's hands didn't stay long in one place, conveying by his movement that his intent couldn't possibly be sexual, but rather that the nipples, for example, were simply in the path of his traveling, massaging hands. Those hands moved lower to Tom's ribs and hips and Tom began to squirm. George moved his hands back up to Tom's forehead, soothing and smoothing the troubled brow. He took the now empty drink from Tom's hand and set it on the floor and moved to Tom's feet, lifting one and then the other out of the water and warmly and thoroughly massaging each. He continued up each calf, then moved his seduction up Tom's thighs, using long rhythmic strokes as the boy began to move his body in sway with the cadence of George's hands.
The washcloth had long sense been abandoned by Tom's nerveless fingers, and George could plainly see that his gentle, patient, and almost, but not quite thorough, massage was having the desired effect. The boy's skin was flushed from the heat of the water and the developing heat of his own arousal. He was very close to allowing George to touch him in the few remaining untouched places on his body.
Cradling Tom's neck in his hands, George leaned in to kiss him. Almost like a wild animal, Tom's eyes flew open and his nostrils flared. He began to move back in the tub. George increased his grip on the back of Tom's neck and murmured to him soothing nonsense. George felt the tension begin to ease and this time when his lips pressed against Tom's, the boy let him kiss him.
Tom's head was spinning as George's mouth closed down on top of his. He whimpered at the invasion of the man's tongue in his mouth. Although his stomach clenched when George's hand left his head and smoothed down his chest toward his groin, he was so used to the hand stopping in time that he didn't protest soon enough. The hand breached the water like a swimming fish, sinking lower and lower until it rested on the slowly awakening member between Tom's legs. Tom tried to say no, but George's tongue was seeking out the back of his throat and the older man pressed Tom's head firmly in place against George's devouring mouth.
Eventually, George pulled away so they both could breathe. The man provided a steady patter of murmured reassurances, "Relax, relax. It's okay, Tom. Your body wants this. You want this, you know you do. Let it go, just follow my lead. And I'll stop if you want me to, just say the word. It's your choice. I just want to make you feel so good. Yes, I can see how much you want this."
All the while George's hands moved over Tom's body, revisiting hot spots, releasing tension, and stroking him constantly. Tom's body made his choices for him as his conscious mind began to shut down to where only sensations penetrated. George played now with the salmon colored nipples, already hard pebbles on the taut roadway of Tom's chest. The sensation of George's rubbing fingers set Tom's arms and hands to tingling. And George's words continued to soothe, reassuring Tom of his beauty, his desire, and especially of the rightness of what they were doing. He made promises to take care of Tom, to make sure Tom enjoyed this, to be someone Tom could turn to, someone who would appreciate him, who would make sure Tom never felt lonely or hurting or wanting again.
Lost amidst George's massaging hands, soft words, and the effects of the drinks, Tom slid back in the tub as George instructed, stretching his body out in the warm water, letting his head rest against a waterproof pillow at the end of the tub. The size of the tub meant he braced his feet against the other end, his knees up and open against the sides of the tub as George's hands glided over him. Following George's request he closed his eyes and let his head relax against the pillow as his body responded to the erotic feel of George's hands on the silky skin of his body.
At one point George was still, letting the water become smooth and transparent like glass, magnifying the size of the response between Tom's legs. George drank in the sight, almost intoxicated himself at the near success of his seduction. And there was no doubt that Tom's body had been seduced by George's touch so that he allowed George to stroke him now anywhere and everywhere without protest or resistance. Tom experienced the most erotic sensations he had ever felt in his life as he gave himself over to the sensate pleasure of George's skilled hands.
Tom wasn't sure when he was led into George's bed. Nor was he sure what had prompted him to do the things that George asked of him, things he had never done before. He seemed to follow along with George's touch, George's requests, the needs of George's body. He found his own body placed in positions he didn't know he could attain, and taken in ways and positions he didn't know were possible. George's stamina and inventiveness had no apparent limits as the older man returned again and again to Tom's body with his mouth, fingers, hands, and seemingly insatiable manhood. And Tom found himself achieving sexual pleasure that he never would have thought possible.
Tom's own will was so subverted by the power of George to turn him on and turn him inside out, that even when he wasn't convinced he wanted to follow along with George, he heard himself say in his head that he could do this. His mind echoed over and over the words George had spoken to him. George was taking care of him, George liked him, George might find him a job, George found him beautiful. With George giving so much to him, somehow Tom found himself wanting to please the man. He shut off his internal censor and told himself that he could do this. In his mind, Tom went even further. Not only could he do this, but he wanted to do this. For George.
So much of it felt good as George worked skillfully on his body. In a fog of alcohol and sex, he spent two days in George's bed, occasionally sleeping, but more often doing something to George that George wanted him to do or letting George do something to him that George wanted to do. Tom didn't find the word no in his vocabulary. George simply swept him along to George's agenda and he followed. He didn't have to wonder where his next drink would come from, George always had what he needed right to hand.
Around noon on the third day, Tom began to realize that George had never followed up on finding out about that piloting job and he mentioned it to the man. In return, George gave him a dazzling smile and kissed Tom lightly on swollen lips. "You're right. I'll try him now."
Tom slept for awhile. He woke up when George called his name and as he came awake, he realized the sheet that had been covering him was no longer doing so. Opening his eyes, a headache behind them, he saw George smiling down at him.
As much as the previous days had been like a fairy tale, what began now was a nightmare. George was fully dressed and held the sheet. Behind George were two people, a man and a woman, smiling pleasantly at him. When he realized they weren't alone, Tom grabbed for the sheet, but George held it away. "Not yet, Tom. These people are here to see you."
"Huh?" At Tom's evident confusion and shame at being seen naked by two strangers, the two people looked at each other. When Tom told them to fuck off, they simply shrugged and left the room. George threw an angry glance at the self-consciously naked boy, nonetheless, appreciating the beauty he saw there. The pale skin was marked with his bruises and bites and beard burn from their lovemaking. The flush of embarrassment added a kind of beauty that made George almost forget business as he wanted to take Tom then and there. Angrily, George threw the sheet at Tom and followed the others into the living room.
While they were gone, Tom tried to stop shaking and only succeeded when he showered under hot water in the same tub that had been the scene of his seduction just a few days before. Not long into the shower, George returned, turned off the water, and handed Tom a towel. "Shower's over."
"What . . . who were they?" Tom asked, scared of what kind of answer George might have for him. As he dried off, he tried to read George, but found he couldn't.
"They're clients, Tom. They're interested in you."
"They want me to fly?" That statement didn't line up with the fact that George had been showing them his naked body, but Tom's brain wasn't functioning very clearly.
George shook the bony shoulders. "Don't be stupid, Tom. I've given you room and board for days now. You owe me. You'd have been sleeping on the street and eating out of the garbage if I hadn't brought you here. You do this couple, separately and together, and not only are we even, but you'll get a little bonus out of it, too."
Tom felt lightheaded. Oh, gods, no. This couldn't be happening to him. He couldn't do this. But George was shaking his shoulder again. "Tom. Tom, listen to me. I know you don't want to do this, but consider it as a favor to me. I've been trying to help you, I've been taking care of you and I've been trying to find you a job. Isn't that right? Isn't it, Tom?"
Numb, Tom could only nod his head. It was true, George had been good to him. Course George had only wanted to have sex with him just about all the time. Tom was so sore, he wondered if he could sit down. Tom couldn't look George in the eyes, he flushed red and stammered, "I know I owe you, but . . ."
"I've had sex with you? Is that what you're thinking? That I did all this just so I could have sex with you?" George posed the question and then answered it. "You were a virgin. Don't you know what others would have done to you if they'd gotten to you first? Didn't I treat you well? Didn't I give you a choice? Didn't I show you what you need to know to survive?"
The questions came so fast, Tom couldn't think. Fearfully, he looked at George, felt George's anger. And George wasn't done. "You owe me, Tom. You'll do what these people ask and show them all the same passion and interest that you've shown me you're capable of. Then, if you want to go, I'll give you your share and you're free to leave."
"Now? You want me to do this now?" Tom was grasping at straws. If he could put George off, maybe they'd disappear the way a nightmare did in the morning. Tears were in his eyes, as he pleaded with George not to make him do this. As George continued to pressure him, Tom finally told him, "Look. I can't. I'm so sore, if one of them touches me I'll scream from the pain of it."
George looked smug. "I've got a dermal regenerator. Remember? We used it once." Tom tried to remember but too much of what had happened in the past few days were a drunken blur. George was continuing to speak and Tom struggled to follow. "Well, let's use it, you'll be as good as new. And when we're done fixing you up, I want you to clean yourself like I showed you. Understand? Then you'll be ready. They won't hurt you, Tom. They just want a little, you know."
Tom felt trapped. His last excuse was banished with the wave of the regenerator. He swallowed hard, "George, I can't. Please," he begged, the tears blurring his eyes. "Please. Don't make me do this."
He almost cringed from the hard look in George's face. "I'm going to get you a drink. When I come back here I want you ready. Do you understand, Tom?"
George left to get the drink and Tom crumbled on the floor, still damp from the shower. He'd leave. He'd go. He just had to find his clothes. But the ones he'd worn here were in George's fresher, never taken out and worn in the past few days. And his bag was by the door. He'd thought George would somehow save him, instead George took advantage of Tom's trust and neediness. He'd leave now. That's what he'd do. Crying softly, Tom almost didn't hear George return. He felt George's hand on his shoulder.
"Tom, hey, come on, kid, it won't be so bad. Here. Here's the drink I promised."
From the quiet tone of George's voice and the soft massaging George was giving his shoulder, Tom realized that George had calmed down, didn't seem so angry with him. Gratefully, Tom took the drink with both hands. Trembling, he brought the glass to his lips and downed half of it in one long chug. George wiped away his tears with soft fingers and encouraged Tom to drink up. As Tom drank, a little more slowly this time, George told him that the couple were very interested in him. They knew it was his first time and that made it special. George didn't mention that it also made the transaction more profitable to him.
He told Tom that there was nothing involved that he hadn't already done. It was to be plain vanilla sex, no extras. Tom's mind reeled as George listed all the things that wouldn't happen with an almost implicit warning that since these practices were possible they could occur at some future time. Tom vowed he'd never do any of the things George enumerated, little realizing that inside of a month he would have done or experienced them all.
George retrieved what he needed to get Tom ready as Tom finished his drink. The alcohol gave Tom something he lacked, a little nudge to do the right thing. He stood up, no longer crying, and in as firm a voice as he could, he told George, "No. I'm not going to do it. I'm going to get my clothes on and I'm leaving."
George whirled on the thin boy he'd been grooming so patiently. He smacked Tom hard across the face and noticed with satisfaction the stunned look on the kid's face. Tom's hand flew up to the red handprint as he glared at George defiantly. Angrily, Tom spat at the older man, "You can't make me."
George laughed in the kid's face. "Sonny, you have no idea who you're dealing with." George leaned in toward Tom's head, almost nose to nose, so close he could smell the alcohol the boy had just drunk. "You see, I know who you really are. I know how to reach your father . . . and your mother. These past couple of days, you remember the things you did?" To George's satisfaction, the kid's face flushed a bright red. "I've got them recorded. A subspace vid to your mom, think she'd like to see how her little boy acts when he's drunk and in heat?"
Tom tried to think. This had to be a bluff. "Prove it," Tom dared him.
George just shook his head. "Thomas Eugene Paris son of Admiral Owen Paris who is currently stationed at Starfleet headquarters in San Francisco on Earth, and his lovely wife . . . "
"You're famous, the only child of a Starfleet Admiral to be dishonorably discharged from Starfleet in the history of the 'fleet. Face it, kid, even a backwater world like this gets the subspace news. Your face was in the vids for weeks."
Tom shook his head. A lot of people knew this much about him. Defiantly, he challenged, "I don't believe you have vids of what . . . what we did. Your face would be on them, my father would hunt you down."
This time George really laughed and unnerved Tom even more. "Oh, that's good. I knew the vids were being made, do you really think I let my face be seen? Besides, your old man doesn't give a flying fuck about you and you know it. Now, your mother, I understand she has a soft spot in her heart for her lost baby."
This could kill his mother. "Leave her out of it!" Tom shouted at him.
"Keep your voice down," George ordered, his hand pinching Tom's jaw. "It's your call, Tom. Do you need to see one of the vids?"
"Yeah." Tom was still defiant but losing ground with every exchange of words.
As George took a minute in the bedroom to set things up, Tom wrapped a towel around his narrow hips and looked at himself in the mirror. George's handprint was still visible on his cheek and the fear he felt had completely chased away the momentary good feeling he'd gotten from the booze. When George called to him, he stood in the bathroom doorway and looked at George's vid. As the man promised, there was Tom in all his glory, clearly recognizable, George's face was never shown. What had been pleasurable in a drunken sort of way a day or so ago now made Tom sick. He bolted back into the bathroom and threw up into the toilet. George wasn't far behind.
Miserable and humiliated by what he'd seen, Tom cried into his hands as he once again sat on the bathroom floor, neither his bony butt nor the thin towel providing adequate cushioning against the hardness of the floor. When George came in and sat on the closed lid of the toilet, Tom asked him despairingly, "Why? Why are you doing this to me?" The betrayal he felt almost overwhelmed him. Totally undone, Tom told George tearfully, "I thought you liked me."
George just shook his head. "Of course I like you. I'm doing you a favor, Tom. You'll see."
"No!" Tom protested.
At that, George just shrugged. "Okay. So I'm doing myself a favor. Big deal. You'll get something out of this, too. Now get up, those people aren't going to wait forever."
When Tom just sat there, the tears burning down his cheeks, George clasped Tom's head in his hands and began to apply pressure to lift Tom up. In a last desperate try to get out of this, Tom lunged at George only to have George's fist sink into his unprotected abdomen, leaving him in pain and gasping for breath. Quickly, the older man was on his feet pushing Tom's naked body over the sink, twisting his arm up behind his back, pushing his head into the mirror.
"That's enough," George ordered. Roughly, he listed Tom's choices. "You leave and I get in touch with your parents. You do this and you get paid. And later, later I'll reward you personally. Your parents will never have to know."
Tom felt the humiliation of total defeat, yet he still tried to bargain. "If I . . . if I . . . then you'll let me go. And the vid . . ."
"Of course, we'll burn the vid together. I promise." It was a promise George had no intention of keeping. Furthermore, he was making a vid of Tom with the couple. Tom was obviously in too much shock to realize that if George could do it once, he could do it again.
As the fight and defiance deflated to sniffles, in a daze, Tom let George prepare him, listening to George's quiet words about how beautiful he was, how much of a good impression he'd made on the others, how easy this would be. There was no mention of the blackmail, there was no need. Tom had capitulated. Finally finished with the preparations, George left Tom feeling as hollowed out emotionally as his body was physically. But George gave him another drink and after he kept it down, Tom found it helped. He would get through this. He could do this. He wouldn't let George see the emotions that tore him apart, that made him want to wail against his fate or throw himself out of a window. As George left him, Tom vowed fiercely that no one would ever see his emotions again. No one. Ever again.
As he exited the bathroom, he found the woman in George's bed, the sheet only partially covering her. Smiling at him, she patted the bed beside her. Tom told himself, he could do this, he could do this, he could do this. George gave him a pat on his bare rump, closed the door as he left the room and left Tom alone with the stranger. All Tom could think of was thank the gods this was the woman and not the man. In the back of his mind, he remembered that George had said he would do each and both together, but maybe that wouldn't come to pass. Maybe, he thought with unrealistic hope, it would all end with the woman. He tried not to flinch from the woman's soft touch. His face a white mask, Tom told himself once more that he could do this.
Eight months later, he was back on Earth. He'd managed to save enough money to free himself from George, understanding only somewhat how much he'd been manipulated by the sociopath on Yntryl. He'd also been taught a lot. He'd used what George had taught him to freelance, making money on the side that he salted away outside of George's view. If it meant he had to cultivate Pher as a client, then that was going to be the price of his freedom. He could do it and he did. And he found George's stash of vids and destroyed them, freeing himself and others he'd found out about, girls and boys just like himself, from the threat of George's blackmail. Then he left without a word of good-bye or even his bag, but with a world of hurt inside him.
Across the bars of the Alpha Quadrant, Tom Paris hustled his way home using his looks, his skills earned with such difficulty under George's guidance, and his youth to make his way back to Earth and back to Sandrine's. He didn't lose his dream of flying, but he understood now that a guy had to make a living any way he could. He knew how to hustle, he knew how to make a client, female or male, feel at ease, he knew how to get the money part taken care of up front. At 25, he'd had the naivete purged from him.
Sandrine regretted the changes she'd seen over time in this still young man. From the callow cadet to the shattered survivor to this brittle, often drunk, automaton, she worried that he didn't have long to live if he kept on this way. She made it clear to him that she didn't approve of his lifestyle, of his reputation as a whore, and he had simply listened to her with an impassive mask across his thin features. But as long as he kept the drinking under control and the hustling outside, she allowed him to visit her bar when he was on Earth, never allowing him to stay overnight in one of the apartments. Tom's drinking was just too much trouble.
It was in a bar that he met a tattooed, very handsome man named Chakotay, a man who, like him, had once been a Starfleet officer, and now, unlike him, was a Maquis officer. And his life changed again, as Tom repeated the phrase that had become his mantra. Fly for the traitorous Maquis as a mercenary? He could do this.