TITLE: At the Dimming of the Day
AUTHOR: Reanne Moreau
SERIES: Sequel to Alone
SUMMARY: Sequel to "Alone." This is a quiet evening with my favorite couple
about 2 months into their relationship. Dinner at Sandrine's lead to a bubble
bath, which leads to a lot of fun.

I know, it's taken a long time to get around to do it, but I haven't
felt much like writing lately. I reposted "Alone" and you should probably read
that first, but it isn't necessary. I'm thinking of doing another episode.
Anybody interested in finding out what Tom would do to his lovely
captain if he should just *happen* to find her tied naked and blindfolded to a

Star Trek Voyager and the characters are the property of Paramount.
No infringement of their copyright is intended. Please feel free to archive.

When all my will is gone
You hold me sway
I need you at the dimming of the day

You pulled me like the moon pulls on the tide
You know just where I keep my better side


Come the night you're the only one I want
Come the night you could be my confidant
Why don't you come and ease your mind with me
I need you at the dimming of the day
I need you at the dimming of the day

Bonnie Rait

The warm scent of rainwater and dust lingered on the air from the summer storm
that had just blown through. A full moon shone overhead illuminating the closed
shops of the historic district. Kathryn Janeway surreptitiously blinked the
moisture from her eyes as she walked down the cobblestone street. She was
determined not to give in to sentiment. Tom Paris walked beside her, casually
elegant in jeans and a white shirt.

"This isn't what I expected when you invited me to Sandrine's tonight. No-one
ever wrote a song for me before."

She had been surprised when he'd invited her to dinner at the bar. They had
agreed when their relationship began, almost two months ago, to keep it secret
until they were sure it had a chance. The last thing they needed was to have the
eyes of the entire crew following their every move. The captain thought with a
smile that it was becoming harder and harder to hide their affection for one

As a consequence, they spent a lot of time in each others' quarters or on the
holodeck, where it didn't matter if their fingers entwined of their own volition
or their eyes caressed one another from across the room. She had introduced Tom
to her favorite program and they spent many quiet evenings in Master DaVinci's
studio. Tom had been helping her and Leonardo build a glider from period
materials. He had taken to joining her in the studio in the evenings after she'd
finished working on her painting. Then there were the times Tom simply strode
into the room, took the paintbrush out of her hand and carried her off to make
love in front of the fireplace.

To Kathryn's delight, Tom had run his own private version of Sandrine's tonight,
just for the two of them. A piano stood in place of the usual pool table and Tom
had surprised her by playing and singing, conjuring up a blues band for
accompaniment. At the end of the evening he played something of his own

"It's not finished yet. I've only got the piano part worked out and I've never
been able to write lyrics." He had his arm around Kathryn's waist as they
meandered down the street. He still glowed with happiness at her reaction to his

"I never even knew you played. Or sang. You've been keeping secrets from me,
mister." She came to a halt and wound her arms around Tom's neck. "What other
talents have you been hiding?"

Tom kissed her briefly. "I guess you'll just have to stick around and find out."
He took a moment to admire her beauty by moonlight. The simple indigo cotton
dress highlighted her fair skin as it skimmed the curves he had come to know so
well. Soft strands of hair framed her delicate angular face. There was a genuine
warmth about her that touched his heart.

"Seriously, Tom, you have a beautiful voice. You should let more people hear
it." They continued down the street, arms linked. There was a wistful, far-away
look on Tom's face. He replied indirectly.

"My mother was a musician, you know. She played and sang with a jazz band."

"I know. I didn't meet your father until years later, but I heard that she died
in a shuttle accident on tour. You must have been very young."

"I was seven. She'd already taught me to play a little. After she died, Dad
wouldn't let me practice in the house, but I managed to talk the school music
teacher into giving me private lessons."

"He never spoke of her."

"I know. He didn't like talking about Mom at home, either. They were having one
of their epic fights when she left on tour. She'd filed for divorce again. They
were always leaving each other. Then when she died he acted like she'd never
even existed."

Kathryn shook her head in consternation. "I've always respected his ability as
an officer, but the more I know about your father the less respect I have for
him as a man." It disturbed her when they accidentally stumbled onto these
painful subjects, but she wanted to know everything about the man she loved and
was glad he felt comfortable talking to her about his family.

Tom stopped again and pulled her back into his arms. He didn't like the
melancholy turn their conversation had taken. This evening was too special to
let old sorrows intrude. "I promise our relationship will be nothing like my
parents' was. And I don't want you to hate my father."

"On the contrary, I'm grateful to both your parents." She grinned, pulling him
closer. "For having created their wonderful son." She breathed the last words
against his lips before claiming them for a long languid kiss.

They parted reluctantly and Tom called for the arch, knowing that their reserved
time was almost up. Kathryn stopped him with a hand on his arm, her eyes
shining. "Tom, I want you to know how much this evening meant to me. Your
composition was beautiful."

He stepped out into the corridor before he gave in to the temptation to kiss her
again. "I'm glad you liked it. Give me a couple weeks to finish it and we'll go
back to Sandrine's." They were walking toward the lift, careful to maintain a
proper distance between them, although there was no one else in sight.

Kathryn checked that all of her buttons were done up. Her clothing had a
tendency to come undone when they were alone together. "Have you thought of a
title yet?"

"I've been thinking of calling it _Blues for my Kat_."

He barely missed the swat aimed at his backside and ducked into the lift before
the doors were even completely open. The occupants indulged in some silent
speculation as to why their captain and helm officer kept glancing at each other
with barely suppressed grins.

They managed not to get into any more trouble until they were back in Kathryn's
quarters, and it took very little persuasion to talk Tom into joining her for a
long soak in the tub. The captain's one concession to luxury upon being assigned
to command Voyager was to install a large sunken bathtub. It was the perfect
size for two people.

Kathryn knelt behind Tom massaging the knots out of his shoulders. He really had
been anxious about playing for her tonight and all the tension ended up in his
back. She felt him relax under her touch until he was sighing contentedly.
Sharply defined muscles flexed under the fair skin. Moving her hands down his
back she admired the lean elegance of his body. He had a graceful m
asculinity that she never failed to find arousing.

Tom leaned forward against his upraised knees and groaned as her fingers dug
into the small of his back. "Mmmmm, that's wonderful. I could stay here all

In reply, Kathryn kissed his shoulder and slipped her arms around his torso for
a brief hug before finishing the massage. Tom was discovering how much he loved
to be touched. He wasn't used to being shown so much affection; he reveled in
the soft caresses and embraces that Kathryn enjoyed so much.

She moved to the opposite end of the tub and they both reclined in the hot soapy
water. Kathryn was humming the tune Tom had written for her. After a while, she
rubbed her foot up his shin to get his attention. "I think it's time we told
people about us."

"I know. One of these days I'm going to forget myself and kiss you in the middle
of the mess hall or something. And Harry and B'Elanna are still feeling guilty
about being together. It's time to set things straight." His foot traced the
inside of her leg from ankle to thigh. "I've enjoyed having you to myself,

"Me, too, but it'll feel good not to have to sneak around. The weekly staff
meeting is coming up in a couple days. We can start with the senior officers and
see what kind of a reaction we get."

"What about Chakotay?"

"I'll talk to him alone before the meeting." She looked away, frowning. "I owe
him that much."

Tom slid forward until he could reach out and touch Kathryn's shoulder. "You've
been up front with him about your feelings since New Earth. Not that I can
blame him for wanting you - you're addictive." He traced her jaw-line with his
forefinger. Tom felt sorry for Chakotay. He knew how painful it would be to love
Kathryn and not be able to touch her like this, or see the love in her eyes
when she looked at him.

Kathryn took hold of his hand, bringing it to her lips and placing a kiss on the
palm. "I don't even think it's me he wants; it's some image of me that I can't
possibly live up to." She regarded him from under lowered lashes. "That's one of
the things I love about you. You take me as I am."

"And as often as possible."

That earned him a splash of water in the face. A brief battle ensued with water
and bubbles flying freely. Lt. Paris had the advantage, as his opponent was
backed into one end of the tub. In a brilliant tactical move, the captain
straddled his legs and kissed him soundly, sliding her water-slick body down his
torso until she was seated on his lap. A truce was declared as his lips moved
across her jaw and down her neck, sucking at the pulse throbbing just beneath
the skin. He enfolded her in his arms, holding her close against his body. "I
love you, Kathryn. Don't ever forget that."

Kathryn remembered the first time she had heard those words. They had just lost
Kes and neither had had time to deal with their grief. That, and the stress of
trying to repair the damage the Borg had done to Voyager, had their nerves on
edge. As a result, their disagreement about whether 7 of 9 should be forced to
become human had escalated into a full-blown fight. Tom was making his case that
there wasn't enough humanity in the Borg to salvage when the expression on
Kathryn's face stopped him.

She was absolutely exhausted and knew that loss and fatigue had etched deep
lines around her eyes. She realized, too, that they were in danger of losing
each other amid the chaos of events surrounding them. Tom had simply taken her
in his arms and told her he loved her, and gone on telling her that until he was
sure she believed him.

Her fingertips lightly caressing his face, Kathryn lost herself in sapphire blue
eyes. "I keep trying to figure out when I began falling in love with you. I'm
almost tempted to thank the Borg for involving us in their war." One corner of
her mouth quirked up in a smile. "If they hadn't turned our lives upside down,
we might never have found each other."

"In that case, I'm grateful to the Borg for nearly getting us all killed ..."
Tom slowly outlined Kathryn's lips with his tongue. "... and to Chakotay for
being such a jerk to you ..." He kissed each corner of her mouth. "... and to
B'Elanna for dumping me for my best friend." He parted her lips with his own.

She responded warmly, winding her arms around his neck and pressing her body as
close as possible to his. They kissed and caressed until the water began to
cool, then stood toweling each other dry, unable to stop touching. Finally, Tom
begged for mercy, laughing and taking the towel from Kathryn's hand.

"If you don't stop that, I'll ravish you right here in the bathroom," he
threatened with a mock growl, pulling her against him and nibbling on her neck.

"Been there, done that." She gave him a peck on the nose and slipped her arms
around his waist. "You're turning me into a sex maniac."

"It didn't take much persuasion."

Kathryn chased him into the bedroom, snapping a towel at his retreating
backside. Tackling her onto the bed, Tom rolled them over and over until they
ended up in a tangle in the middle. Kathryn sat up and began removing the pins
from her hair.

"Let me do that." Tom settled her comfortably against his shoulder and continued
unpinning her hair; combing his fingers through the long strands, and loving the
silken feel of it on his hands. He continued long after her hair was freed of
its bonds, stroking her back and shoulders.

Kathryn sighed happily. This was almost as intimate as letting him undress her.
She shivered as he drew a finger slowly down her spine. "I've wanted your hands
on me all day," she whispered, the hunger plain in her smoky voice. She'd been
watching his hands, the way they danced over the helm controls and piano
keyboard with fluid grace. The sight evoked warm memories of the heavenly things
they did to her body.

"You must have been reading my mind. I think I spent every spare minute today
imagining how good it would feel to touch you, what you taste like when you
sweat, the way your lips feel on my bare skin."

She let Tom lower her to the pillows, the blood singing in her veins, her entire
body aching for him. The heat between them never failed to astonish her, and it
showed no signs of diminishing. Kathryn loved this beautiful young man with a
passion she had thought existed only in the holonovels she'd once been addicted

Tom whispered in Kathryn's ear everything he wanted to do to her, telling her
the things he had been imagining all evening. He attacked her lips hungrily,
groaning as her peremptory tongue invaded his mouth. His hands were never still
on her skin, wanting to know every part of her at once. She arched like a cat
into his touch. He broke off their kiss, laughing for pure joy. "My wild Irish
rose. No matter how many times we make love it'll never be enough."

"That sounds like a challenge. Are you sure you're up to it?" He silenced her
laughter with another kiss.

Tom let his eyes wander caressingly over his lover's body. She was
heartbreakingly lovely. Luminous gray eyes shone with love and desire. Her fair
skin was flushed a delicate pink, shading to dusky rose at her hard, erect
nipples. Auburn hair spilled over the pillow, gleaming in the low light. He
wanted to savor her beauty, to linger over every exquisite detail.

Drawing him into her arms, Kathryn brushed light kisses over Tom's eyelids and
cheeks before returning to his mouth. His lips lingered briefly over hers before
moving lower. For the moment she was content to let him take the lead.

She wound her fingers in his hair, sighing as his mouth mapped the velvet-soft
skin of her neck and shoulders, exploring the finely sculpted hollows at the
base of her throat. Moving lower, he licked slow spirals around each breast,
bathing her with his tongue, while his hand massaged its twin. He waited until
her nerves were strung tight before leaving off his assault to return to her
mouth. One hand wandered lower to caress her stomach. The heat of his palm sank
into her belly, at once comforting and arousing. Finally, Tom retraced his path
to the firm swell of her breasts. Her sighs turned to gasps.

By the time he sucked one hard nipple into his mouth, they were almost painfully
sensitized. His hot tongue sent lightning bolts from those two aching points to
the pulse at her center. Kathryn rasped his name, feeling as if she were going
to implode from the intensity. He was ruthless in the pursuit of her pleasure,
knowing just what it took to make her quiver and moan.

After what seemed like an eternity, he grazed one tip with his teeth, biting
down softly. Kathryn threw her head back, crying out as flames lapped at her
flesh. It left her absolutely ravenous. She knew how much he loved doing this to
her, exploiting this sensitivity to drive her half-mad with need. "Please, Tom
... please."

He contemplated all the myriad delectable ways of satisfying Kathryn, savoring
the slow burn of his own arousal. Tom loved seeing her like this; it was the
most erotic thing he could imagine. He knew from experience that when she was in
this incendiary mood she would come long and hard. And that it would only wet
her appetite for him.

"Tell me what you need, love."

In reply, she raised one of his hands to her lips, sucking a long elegant finger
into her mouth. She smiled at his sharply in drawn breath and returned the hand
to where her heart raced beneath her breast. "Take the helm, Lieutenant."

The captain gasped her appreciation as his hands took a slow, circuitous route
over her body. They stroked and tickled until every inch of her skin felt warm
and alive. One hand finally came to rest between her legs. She pulled him closer
as Tom parted her lips with his tongue, matching the movement of his probing
fingers below. Kathryn responded enthusiastically, welcoming the slow plunder of
her mouth, the warm silk of his lips. She melted into their kiss. Even that
pleasure couldn't distract her from the way his fingers caressed her swollen
folds, exploring her slowly and with loving tenderness. Her sex was dripping
wet. He spread the moisture with his fingers, massaging her labia and clit with
firm strokes, drawing soft whimpers from the woman in his arms. Tongue and lips
added fuel to the fire, descending on her flush breasts. He teased her sensitive
opening mercilessly. She was desperate to be penetrated, to feel those long
fingers inside her.

A sound between a gasp and a sob escaped Kathryn's throat as he slipped first
one, then two fingers deep inside and began stroking her slowly to oblivion.
Tom caressed her delicate walls gently, feeling her tremble with every stroke.
He found her sweet spot, torturing it until she writhed in his arms. Breath came
in ragged gasps as her hips moved urgently in rhythm with his thrusting fingers.
Tom watched his lover's face, thinking he had never seen anything so beautiful.
Eyes closed, she caught her lower lip between her teeth, face a study in
ecstasy. She was balanced on the razor's edge, savoring every moment.

He licked a trail up to her neck, enjoying the salty taste of her hot skin; the
way her body fairly hummed with tension. "Sweet Kathryn, is that good?" he

Kathryn would have laughed if she could have spared the breath. Good? He was
stroking her so skillfully, keeping her so close for so long, that the fury of
release would tear her apart. It was so good she wanted to cry. She couldn't
imagine wanting anyone else like this. Her nails raked his back. "It's
never ... unhh ... never been like this ... with anyone... *ohhhhhh*." Tom
rubbed her clit all too briefly. It was almost enough. Almost. If he didn't let
her come soon she would go mad. She was on the verge of begging when Tom ground
the heel of his hand against that throbbing button.

Kathryn's body exploded into white-hot flame. His touch sent pulse after pulse
of unbearable pleasure searing through her veins. She ground her pelvis against
his hand, drenching it in a warm flood of her juices, needing more of this
glorious feeling. Face buried in Tom's neck, her frantic cries gave evidence of
the intensity of her pleasure. It went on forever, her body finally finding the
release it had clamored for all day. Tom was relentless, taking her higher and
higher, until it was just too much. Throwing her head back she gave voice to a
full-throated howl of ecstasy and collapsed limp and exhausted against the

He held Kathryn close, stroking her face. She finally opened her eyes and smiled

"You see what happens when I go around thinking dirty thoughts all day." Her
voice was a warm throaty purr as she melted into a puddle of contentment in his

"I think they heard you on the bridge that time." Despite his teasing, Tom loved
her complete lack of inhibition, her wildly sensual nature. "I take it you
enjoyed that."

A wicked grin on her face, Kathryn told him exactly how much she had enjoyed it,
describing every sensation in meticulous detail. By the time she finished Tom's
breathing had quickened and the evidence of his arousal pressed into her
stomach. She trapped his erection between them and moved sensually against him.

"That's what I like, Lieutenant, a nice crisp salute."

"For you Captain, I could stand at attention all night."

They lay contentedly in each other's arms for a moment, tenderly kissing and
caressing one another. Kathryn slipped a hand between them to cup Tom's balls,
massaging them briefly. She wanted to take him slowly, to make him feel the
intense pleasure she had felt during her own climax. She let hands and lips roam
freely over his body.

Murmuring appreciatively, Tom tilted his head back, giving her warm lips greater
access to his throat. Winding a hand in Kathryn's long hair, he pulled her mouth
back to his for a long hot kiss, pressing her full length against him.

She broke away to scatter little butterfly kisses along his jaw-line before
turning her attention to the sensitive spot behind his ear. Her warm hand ran
slowly in a continuous circuit from the young pilot's hips, over the firmly
muscled stomach to tangle in golden chest hair before moving up to caress his
face. Tom sighed under her touch, nearly purring his delight.

Kathryn lapped at his flush skin, enjoying the warm clean taste of him. She
marveled at how responsive he was to a gentle touch. He had told her that one of
the reasons he broke up with Megan Delaney was that she had developed a
fascination with games involving the use of various instruments of pain. That
sort of thing wasn't any fun at all if both people weren't into it.

Poor Megan. Kathryn almost pitied her and the other women Tom had left behind.
They had never had him like this. He made love to her with his entire being,
giving himself completely. This special gift was only for her.

Tom felt her smile against his neck. "What are you thinking about?"

"Megan Delaney. You'll have to tell her I've finally found the right instrument
to use on your skin." She proceeded to trace elaborate patterns on his chest
with her tongue, ending with the slow torture of his nipples.

His breathing was fast and shallow by the time she straddled his body on hands
and knees and looked down into blue eyes burning with desire. Tom wrapped his
arms around her, not wanting to lose contact for even a moment. He devoured her
mouth with mounting intensity.

With a laugh Kathryn pulled away and began kissing her way down the sleekly
muscled body beneath her. Tom was awash in sensation. First there was the soft
hardness of her nipples grazing his heated flesh, followed by her hot mouth and
lightly nipping teeth. Finally, the cool curtain of her hair. She worked her
way down slowly, biting teasingly at his navel before probing its depths
thoroughly with her tongue. He moaned, running his fingers through her hair,
rubbing his erection between her breasts.

"God, every time you touch me..." His words ended in a gasp as she slid farther
down and turned her attention to his inner thighs.

She smiled and kissed his leg, nuzzling the wiry thatch of pubic hair. "I know,
Tom. Me, too." She gave his balls a thorough bath before rolling them in her
palm, letting the heavy sacs rest in her hand as she looked up at Tom's face,
drinking in his pleasure. He was very vocal in expressing how much he loved what
she was doing and his sounds were making her wet all over again. She kissed and
nibbled the length of the pulsating shaft before running her tongue over the
head, contemplating taking his velvety hardness into her mouth. She loved
sucking him, the feel of the long thick organ in her mouth, the way he always
lost control watching her do it.

"Is this what you want, my love?"

Tom regarded her with hot eyes. It was all he could do not to thrust into her
waiting mouth, abandoning himself to the fast release to be found in its wet hot
depths. With difficulty he got control of himself. This felt too good to end

"You know I can't last when you do that."

Kathryn laughed and slid herself up his body for another kiss. "It's too bad we
don't have any soap," she teased, reminding the pilot of a recent morning ambush
in the shower with a handful of suds. His knees had still been wobbly when he
left for the Bridge.

"You are a wicked woman, Kathryn Janeway." He hissed as her nimble fingers
began running lightly over his shaft, barely touching its heated length.

"I guess we'll just have to improvise."

Propped on one elbow, Kathryn placed the foot of her upper leg on the bed,
making sure Tom had a good view of her labia that this revealed. She stroked his
length before bringing her hand between her own legs and parting her nether-
lips. Dipping her fingers into the glistening pink folds, she coated them with
the abundant moisture.

A groan from Tom captured her attention. He was watching her with rapt
concentration as she touched herself, so she lingered for a moment, letting him
enjoy the sight. Removing her hand, she coated his cock, spreading the moisture
with long light strokes.

Before she could go any further, Tom seized her hand and brought it to his lips.
Their eyes locked, he licked her fingers clean. Kathryn bit back a moan. This
was going to explode like a supernova. It was only a question of how long they
could control themselves.

She returned her hand to his cock and began stroking him slowly, gliding easily
over the slickness of her own juices, the other hand gently cradling his
scrotum. Her fingers danced over his length, varying her touch, knowing what
would give him the most pleasure. He throbbed and twitched under her care,
provoking answering sensations deep within her own body. He began thrusting into
her hand, moaning repeatedly.

Tom marveled at how hot it could be with just her hand on him. "Yes... yesss...
Ohhh, that's it." Eyes still locked on hers, he was twisting the sheet with
both hands as the pressure began to build. He was almost there and it was going
to be so damn good.

Kathryn chose that moment to change tactics. Draping herself lazily over one of
his legs, she alternated between mouthing his balls and flicking her tongue over
the rock-hard shaft, backing him away from the edge. He growled his frustration
as she showed no sign of letting him come any time soon.

Tom couldn't take it any more. He grasped her shoulders, stopping the blissful
torture. The look on his face sent a shiver down her spine. Pulling her up
alongside him, he ravished her mouth until she nearly swooned and came up
gasping for breath.

"I need to be inside you...now...*please*," he begged.

Without a word she straddled his hips, guiding his cock inside her, holding his
gaze. She sank slowly down on him. That big head felt so good as it pushed
inside, stretching her to the limit, the shaft filling her with his heat. He was
so *hard*. She shuddered and moaned. Watching his arousal was incredibly erotic.
It always left her wet and ready to come.

"I love you, Tom." She had to tell him that while she was still capable of
coherent speech. Another moment and all that would matter was that rigid heat
plunging into her, the need to take him deeper, harder, faster.

Tom wasn't capable of doing more than gasping her name as he thrust urgently
into her welcoming body. Somehow he managed to convey in those two intense
syllables both his love and the need that threatened to overwhelm him. Her body
drove him wild. He couldn't get enough of touching her. That he loved her more
than his life made their joining all the more powerful. He ran his hands over
her perfect bottom as they began to move, stroking upward along her elegantly
muscled back and around to palm the breasts that seemed to have been created to
fit in his hands.

They moved together in perfect unison, forgetting where one began and the other
ended, forgetting everything except the fire blazing in their joined bodies.
Sweat glistened on undulating flesh. Lips and fingers caressed feverishly.
Cries of mounting desperation came from both lovers.

Tom was on fire, surrounded by her heat - and half out of his mind with
pleasure. This was so good, her sweet body taking him in deep and gripping
tightly, giving him what he needed so badly. She was riding him hard, fighting
to hold back her own orgasm to prolong his pleasure. They both know he would
explode the minute she came. It was the most exquisite torture, but his body
demanded release. He knew what he needed - and what it would do to Kathryn.

Kathryn suddenly found herself rolled on her back with Tom leaning over her. He
withdrew until only the head of his swollen cock was still inside her. The look
of raw hunger on his face told her that his control was gone. He draped her long
legs over his shoulders and looked at her for a blazing moment, making sure she
wanted this as badly as he did. She fairly quivered with need.

"Oh, god, yes," she whispered.

With a wild cry, he rammed hard and deep into her center. Kathryn felt herself
shattering into a thousand pieces. Her body craved this, screamed for it. His
tender ferocity sent her rocketing over the edge, coming so hard it almost hurt.
She clutched the headboard of the bed with one hand, arching and screaming and
dissolving into the inferno.

Nothing in the universe felt as good as being buried deep inside Kathryn as she
came; Tom was right there with her, shouting his release in sharp staccato cries
as he pounded into her again and again. After holding back for so long his
climax was volcanic. Stars swam in front of his eyes and it felt as if his
aching cock would burst from the floods of hot fluid spurting from it. The
orgasm seemed to be ripped from his body, her powerful spasms milking him of the
last drop.

With a final moan of blissful relief, he collapsed next to Kathryn, one arm
draped possessively across her stomach. It was a long time before either of them
gathered enough energy to move. Finally Kathryn snuggled against his chest.

"If we get any better at this, we're going to hurt ourselves."

Tom started snickering, which proved contagious. It wasn't long before they were
both giggling like a couple of teenagers over a dirty joke.

"I can just see myself walking into sickbay. _Doc, I just fucked the captain
bow-legged. Can you straighten them out again?_"

Kathryn wrapped her arms around his neck, gazing up into those beautiful
laughing eyes. "You're a bad influence on me, flyboy - and I love it." She
caressed his cheek tenderly. "And I love you." She held his gaze to make sure he
believed her and was gratified to see the certainty in his eyes.

He kissed her forehead and cuddled her close again. "I love you, too, my wild
Irish rose."

Drowsily, Kathryn unwound herself from her lover and stretched overworked
muscles. Their skin clung stickily.

"Damn, we need a bath again."

The sunlight was being terribly uncooperative. Kathryn sat at the window of
Leonardo's studio painting the street scene below. It was one of the exercises
he had given her to improve her technique. Somehow she just couldn't capture the
effect of the afternoon sun spilling across the fronts of the buildings
opposite. The nice thing about painting on the holodeck was that you could ask
the computer to erase your mistakes. She did so once again and started over.

Pushing an errant strand of hair off her face, the captain left a streak of
vivid green across one cheekbone. There was very little of her person that
wasn't covered in paint. The jeans and old denim shirt she wore were thoroughly
splattered with pigment of various vintages. Most of it was real, not the
conveniently erasable holographic variety. The first time Tom had seen her in
her painting clothes' he had suggested that she simply frame the shirt and
declare it an abstract work.

Kathryn smiled to herself. She would love to do a portrait of the handsome pilot
if he ever sat still long enough. Her smile turned into a broad grin. A picture
flashed across her mind of Lt. Paris captured on canvas as a grown-up Tom
Sawyer, silver-tongued adventurer, still getting into one scrape after another.

Her distraction led to another mistake and another resetting of the program. Of
course, it could be nerves that made the paintbrush feel so clumsy in her hand.
She and Tom were going to announce their relationship at the staff meeting
tomorrow. It was probably a good thing he was playing volleyball tonight. She
would have spent the entire evening obsessing if he had been around.

Tom had promised to stop in after the game and she would probably sneak into his
quarters after giving up the battle of the brush. They spent more nights
together than apart now, even when they weren't making love, and all the
sneaking around was getting to both of them. Keeping a secret on a ship this
size was almost impossible. At least after tomorrow their friends would know.
She wanted their secret out in the open as soon as possible.

Kathryn was so intent on her own thoughts and the painting that she didn't hear
the footsteps entering the studio from downstairs. She massaged her neck with
one hand, stiff from hunching over the canvas for so long. Suddenly strong hands
were massaging her shoulders. She stretched and sighed.

"Mmm, that's heaven. If you make that a full-body massage I might even let you
..." he hands on her shoulders froze at the same time that she realized there
was something unfamiliar about their touch. She swung around to face the man
behind her.


He stood there in his uniform, a look of astonished embarrassment on his face.
"Kathryn, I'm sorry, I just stopped by to see if you wanted to join me for
dinner. Obviously you were expecting someone else." There was anger in his deep
voice. "I'll leave you alone to wait for your... masseur."

His temper ignited her own. She stepped in front of him before he could head for
the door. "You're right, I was waiting for someone. We have to talk about this,
Chakotay. Now."

"I knew there was something different about you lately; I was just afraid to
admit what I was seeing." He had seen the signs clearly, although it wouldn't
have been obvious to someone who didn't know the captain so well. There was a
warm contentment in her eyes that hadn't been there before; and he had caught
her daydreaming more than once when things were slow. She would flush and smile
to herself and snap her attention back to the matter at hand when caught,
offering no explanation. Worst of all was the indefinable air of sensuality
about her. It was nothing overt or improper, just something in the way she moved
that had been driving him crazy. These were all the symptoms of a woman in love,
but he hadn't wanted to acknowledge that fact.

Kathryn rested a hand on her friend's arm. Her flash of temper cooled. She hated
having to hurt him like this. "I'm sorry, Chakotay. You know it would never have
worked out between us." She smiled her wry, lopsided smile. "We would only have
ended up hurting each other. Besides, it's your job to play devil's advocate, to
argue with me when you think I'm making a bad decision. A new relationship can't
stand that kind of pressure."

"It might, if the people involved loved each other enough." She couldn't meet
his eyes. Chakotay knew her answer.

"Are you in love with him?"

"Yes." It had terrified her at the beginning to discover how much of her heart
belonged to Tom. He had become essential to her existence and she hadn't allowed
herself to recognize it until that night in his quarters. "It happened so slowly
and over such a long period of time we almost didn't realize it was happening."
They might never have realized the truth until it was too late if it hadn't been
for the incident with the Borg. They could both have easily ended up miserable
in relationships with other people.

"Who is it, Kathryn?" He had a suspicion; her choices, after all, were limited,
but he wanted her to say it.

"I thought you had it figured out. It's Tom."

It added fuel to his anger when she looked at him with surprise, as if
astonished that he would think she could love anyone else. Chakotay knew he
wasn't being particularly rational, but at the moment he didn't care.

"I would have thought you had better sense than to end up as one of Paris'
conquests. You know what the man is like."

"Yes, I know. And I know he loves me." She raised her chin and looked him
defiantly in the eyes. "We plan to tell the senior staff tomorrow."

"And if they think you're making fools of yourselves?"

He had seen that same determined look on her face when she announced her
intentions to negotiate with the Borg despite his objections. "I'm not looking
for permission, Chakotay. My private life is my own business. I know there are a
few people who will have a problem with this. They'll accuse me of giving Tom
preferential treatment, give him a hard time about it. But I think most of the
crew will be happy for us."

A shadow passed over her face. She hadn't expected Chakotay to fight her choice.
"You're the only one who could cause us real trouble. I've heard the rumors.
Most people expect us to get together eventually. If you play the jilted suitor
the Maquis crewmembers will take your side. I won't do anything to reopen the
rift between Starfleet and Maquis. There are too many old resentment still
simmering as it is." There was genuine fear in her eyes. "Please don't take this
away from me, Chakotay."

The sound of whistling and sandals slapping on the stone floor cut off any reply
he was about to make. Paris strolled into the studio wearing cutoffs and one of
his awful Hawaiian shirts. He stopped short on seeing Chakotay standing there.
Laser-sharp blue eyes flickered between the first officer's face and Kathryn's,
taking note of her expression. The captain hoped fervently that she wouldn't
have to pull rank and get between the two men.

"Am I interrupting something?"

Kathryn tried to smile. "I'm afraid I let the cat out of the bag, Tom. Chakotay
knows about us."

"Is that right?" Tom moved closer to Kathryn, his face wary. He didn't like the
fear lurking in her eyes or the way Chakotay glowered at her. Tom and the
commander had learned to respect one another, even become friends over time, but
*nobody* put that look on Kathryn's face and got away with it.

Tom's arm encircled her waist protectively. Protecting her from him, Chakotay
realized with a shock. Kathryn turned to look up at Paris and he smiled fondly
at her, brushing at the streak of paint on her cheek. They communed in whispers,
shutting out the rest of the world. In that brief moment, Chakotay saw a flash
of what the future might hold.

Kathryn wouldn't risk getting the Starfleet-Maquis feud going again over her
private life. If he didn't promise not to oppose them, they would go on meeting
in secret. Eventually the need for secrecy would tear their relationship apart.
One day, when she could no longer stand the loneliness, she might even come to
Chakotay. And every time she looked at him it would be with the knowledge of
what he had taken away from her.

Chakotay's anger turned to despair. He had been so patient, not rushing her,
trying to build on their friendship. He had thought she was beginning to
respond; that he had a right to expect they would be together one day. At the
back of his mind he had always been aware of the spark between Kathryn and Tom,
but he'd thought that it had resolved itself into friendship. Apparently that
spark had ignited a genuine fire instead. He knew it must have been shortly
after their argument about negotiating with the Borg. They had patched up the
quarrel, but things had never been the same afterward.

What hurt most was the knowing that she was already Tom's lover. It was obvious
from their body language. Chakotay couldn't help a flash of amusement. When
Kathryn made her mind up about something she never hesitated. If she had decided
she wanted Tom, she would have simply given herself to him, flinging herself
whole-heartedly into the relationship. The look on the pilot's face left no
doubt that he fully returned her feelings.

In the time it took for Kathryn to explain to Paris what had happened in the
studio, Chakotay had assessed the situation, decided it was hopeless and made a
decision. Years of command training kicked in, although he doubted his
instructors had intended that their lessons be applied to this sort of

Chakotay crossed the short distance to where the lovers stood. He looked Paris
straight in the eyes, standing a little closer than was absolutely necessary.
Kathryn hoped she didn't have to demonstrate that she could wipe up the floor
with either or both of them if necessary.

"Whatever debt I owe you for saving my life has been paid." He turned his
intense gaze on his commanding officer, letting her see everything that was in
his heart. "Kathryn, I could never deny you anything you truly need." With that
he turned and strode out of the room without a backward glance.

The sound of the holodeck doors closing reached them in the studio and Paris let
out the breath he had been holding. Kathryn leaned her head on his shoulder,
drained by the encounter, and was glad when Tom enveloped her in his arms.

"Why do I get the feeling he's going to be hanging around waiting for us to fall
apart so he can step in and pick up the pieces?"

Kathryn nodded. They would have to give Chakotay time to accept the situation.
She snuggled a little deeper into Tom's arms. "Stay with me tonight."

He smiled and called for the computer to end the program. "Try to keep me away."

They didn't care who saw them walking down the corridor toward the captain's
quarters arm-in-arm, in companionable silence. The moment the door closed behind
them they were in each other's arms - kissing and slowly undressing each other,
needing the intimacy of bare skin. They lay in bed, watching the stars flying by
in the big slanting windows and speaking quietly of their plans for the future
until they fell asleep still wound in one another's arms.

The End