PG-13 (see I CAN play nicely with others!)
Chakotay's head jerked with annoyance as he heard the unmistakeable chime of his door. He cursed under his breath, rapidly replaced the dusty tunic he had just removed and rubbed his elbow over his face in the hope of removing a little of the residue of grime that still coated his face.
All he wanted was a shower and some sleep. It surely wasn't too much to ask for after the day he'd just experienced. He cursed his open door policy that had now seemingly extended itself to his personal quarters but he carefully schooled his features into a welcoming smile and called out "enter".
He prayed he could manage to stay awake long enough to listen to the problems of whichever member of crew currently needed his help. They'd lost eight people when Voyager had fallen into the trans-dimensional rift. Eight members of their family were dead and a further five were in sickbay suffering various degrees of injury. Chakotay had helped to drag survivors out of the crumpled hull section of deck seven, then had comforted as many of the bereaved as possible once the ship was out of danger, but he had finally fallen victim to his own exhaustion and had staggered back to his quarters.
Yet, not ten minutes later, someone was at his door. He was so tired it took him a few moments to focus in on the face that blurred over the dirty uniform, and when he did finally recognise his visitor he was so surprised that he merely gaped in disbelief.
"You okay, Commander?" Tom Paris asked. "You look terrible," he continued, before Chakotay could reply.
Chakotay shook himself. He was sure Tom was right but he was equally sure the pilot hadn't come to his quarters simply to comment on his appearance. Despite the mutual respect that had grown reluctantly between them over the last five years, neither man ever voluntarily sought out each other's company. Tom presumably kept his distance because of Chakotay's own air of indifference, and Chakotay deliberately maintained that illusion for his own protection.
"What can I do for you, Lieutenant?" he asked, trying to mask his exhaustion with a tone of deep concern. He hadn't realised that Tom had been close to any of the victims today. Then again, he decided that perhaps merely the fact that Tom had been piloting when Voyager fell into the rift was causing Tom an unnecessary feeling of guilt.
"It wasn't your fault, Tom. None of our sensors picked up the anomaly and it certainly wasn't visible to the naked eye. It was just a tragic accident," he assured Tom hurriedly.
"I know it was simply an unfortunate co-incidence that the rift opened at the precise moment that Voyager flew through that sector of space," Tom replied. "But still, reparation needs to be made."
Chakotay blinked uncertainly. Tom's choice of words sounded completely out of character, but then shock often caused people to speak and act in strange ways. He rubbed his eyes again tiredly.
"Look Tom, I'm sorry if this sounds abrupt but I'm falling down on my feet here. Can you tell me what you need from me?" Chakotay asked, refraining nobly from adding "and hurry up about it."
Instead of answering him, Tom moved forward until his body was crowding Chakotay's personal space and then, before Chakotay could object, Tom threw his arms around Chakotay's chest and hugged him tightly.
"You," Tom whispered, bending his head and licking softly at the sensitive skin of Chakotay's neck. "I need to be here with you, *for* you. Please, Chakotay. Let me stay with you tonight."
Chakotay felt his resistance crumbling, tumbling away in the face of Tom's touch and his own exhaustion, yet he struggled for a modicum of control.
"Death often affects the living with a primal urge to mate, Tom. It's not a good basis for a relationship though. You've never shown any interest in me before so my agreeing to this now could be tantamount to abusing you. I think you should…"
Tom muffled the rest of his protest by the simple act of thrusting his tongue into Chakotay's mouth. For a moment the older man restrained his own desire, then his resistance collapsed under the weight of Tom's passion. He found his own tongue meeting and thrusting against Tom's as he clutched at Tom's offer like a drowning man clinging to a life-raft.
He didn't even offer a token protest as Tom gently began to manhandle him into the bathroom then stripped their clothes off expertly before propelling Chakotay into the shower.
"Good morning, Tom, Harry," Chakotay said, with a broad smile that showed his dimples to perfection.
Tom gave a tiny start of surprise but covered his confusion with a beaming smile of his own.
"Good morning, Commander," he replied easily. Then watched in confusion as Chakotay turned and made his way to the Captain's table.
"Tom? Since when has Chakotay called you Tom?" Harry asked pointedly.
Tom just gave a helpless shrug.
"Dunno," he said. "He's obviously in a good mood this morning."
Harry gazed over to where Chakotay was now laughing easily at something the Captain had just said.
"Obviously," Harry agreed, although a small frown still lingered between his eyebrows at Chakotay's uncharacteristic behaviour.
"I suppose he's trying to get morale back up," Tom said. "Yesterday was hell for us all and we've got to face the memorial services still. I suppose he's trying to make us feel better."
Harry's brow cleared.
"Yeah, and he's not the only one. Even the Captain seems happy this morning and I swear I even saw something suspiciously like a smirk on Tuvok's face when he bumped into me earlier."
"Now I *know* you're pulling my leg," Tom chortled.
"I guess it could have been wind," he reluctantly admitted.
Chakotay spent most of the day in his office, counselling the grief-stricken friends and partners of the deceased crew. He felt guilty to feel so personally happy in the face of their loss, and yet in a strange way his own aura of calm composure helped him to offer his strength to the people who needed him. He drew on his own feelings for Tom and they enabled him to fully empathise with the tragic feelings of loss that his 'patients' expressed.
After only one night with Tom Paris he knew that he wanted to share the rest of his life with him. All he needed to do now was convince Tom to feel the same way.
It hadn't bothered him that Tom had left before he himself had woken up. It had been disappointing to wake up alone but he understood why Tom would want to keep their relationship low-key for the moment. Even so, Chakotay had been unable to prevent himself from stopping at Tom's breakfast table and wishing him a good morning.
Fortunately Tom had taken the possible breach of their privacy in his stride and had given him such a beautiful smile that Chakotay was sure he didn't really mind Chakotay's over exuberance.
He took the opportunity of a break between appointments to comm. Tom at his station.
"Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?" he asked quietly.
"Commander?" Tom replied, in a tone of complete shock.
"Shush," Chakotay laughed, "or the Captain will want to know what I called you about."
There was a long silence and Chakotay began to feel distinctly worried and not a little guilty. Perhaps Tom was already regretting staying the night.
"Dinner with you, as in a 'date'?" Tom's voice eventually whispered back.
Chakotay felt his stomach begin to churn with nervousness as he wondered whether he had truly been guilty of taking advantage of the younger man, but he forced his voice to remain calm.
"That was my general idea," he confirmed.
Another long silence greeted his comment.
"Tom?" Chakotay asked.
"What time?" Tom choked out.
"2000, my quarters," Chakotay replied.
"'kay," Tom replied, his usual cocky voice little more than a bemused squeak.
Chakotay broke the connection and grinned to himself. So it wasn't that Tom regretted coming to his quarters. Tom obviously hadn't thought that *he* would be interested in a second date. It made Chakotay feel far more confident to know that Tom was not as self-assured as he had seemed to be the night before.
"Have you heard?" Harry whispered dramatically, sliding into the chair opposite Tom's. His mind vaguely registered that Tom was just playing with a bowl of soup rather than eating a proper dinner, but the fact was dismissed by his need to share the latest delicious gossip.
"Heard what?" Tom asked absently. He was absorbed by the question of how much soup he should swallow to take the edge off his appetite so that he didn't bankrupt Chakotay's replicator account. It was a difficult decision. He didn't want to ruin his appetite in case Chakotay went to a big effort. On the other hand, he didn't want Chakotay to see him as an expensive date. Shit, he'd waited years for Chakotay to make a move on him and he was terrified that something would go wrong.
"Let me ask you something personal first, Tom. It's relevant. Honest."
"Did you sleep with anyone last night?"
Tom choked on his soup.
"Harry!" he protested, blushing furiously.
"Did you?" Harry asked insistently.
"No," Tom confessed. "I was too fucking worn out to even remember I had a dick."
Harry gave a dramatic sigh of relief.
"Thank god for that, at least," he said fervently.
"What *are* you on about?" Tom asked in exasperation.
"The rift wasn't a natural phenomenon," Harry told him. "It seems that it was a conduit formed artificially by an alien race."
Tom looked at him in confusion.
"We never saw any aliens," he protested.
"WE didn't," Harry agreed. "They appeared to several of the crew though."
"I heard," Harry said, dropping his voice so low that Tom had to bend over to hear him, "that they took the form of members of the crew and had 'intimate' relations with a number of the command staff. Seems it was their way of trying to apologise for accidentally causing the accident."
"Sheesh, Harry. You are so gullible. Who the hell came up with that crap?" Tom laughed.
"It's not crap," Harry insisted. "Why the hell do you think B'Elanna ended up in the brig?"
"Shush. She wasn't supposed to tell anyone what happened. Keep your voice down."
"What *did* happen?" Tom asked, his eyes now huge as saucers.
"The Captain walked up to her in engineering and stuck her tongue down B'Elanna's throat," Harry whispered. "B'Elanna punched her so hard the Captain's still in sickbay."
"Shit!" Tom breathed.
"Anyway. Turns out that the Captain *thought* B'Elanna spent last night in *her* quarters and when Tuvok got called to find out what was going on, it turned out *he* thought he spent last night with ME."
"Yeah, exactly. That's why B'Elanna told me. Anyway, now Tuvok is making his way through the senior staff trying to work out who *thinks* they slept with who. It turns out that people only had visits from people who they fantasised about. Shit. It's terrifying to think that Tuvok actually has been fantasizing about me!"
Tom turned a peculiar shade of pale green.
"Hey, it's not that bad," Harry assured him. "At least *someone* fancies me. I'd begun to think I was wearing a sign on my forehead that said 'unfuckable'. Even Tuvok's better than no-one, I guess."
"Who knows about this?" Tom whispered, still looking decidedly ill.
"Well obviously they are trying to keep it secret, but the way things are going the whole ship's going to know about it by tomorrow. The Captain will probably never dare show her face again. I can't see Tuvok living this one down and you'll never believe who Seven fantasizes about! God, it's so funny. Dalby has already started a poll about Chakotay."
"Chakotay?" Tom asked, in a near whisper.
"Hell, everyone saw the grin on his face this morning. It's obvious he thinks he got his rocks off with someone," Harry laughed. "Just think about it. The great mystic warrior with all his holier than thou attitude and he obviously jerks off to some fantasy. I can't wait to find out who it is."
Before Tom could formulate a reply, his comm. badge chirped and Chakotay's voice emerged, its normal confident tone sounding dull and lifeless.
"Lieutenant Paris, would you mind meeting me in my office?"
"On my way," Tom replied, rising to his feet, his mind racing.
He took two steps towards the mess hall door, then paused, turned and looked Harry straight in the face as he carefully pitched his voice to carry to the entire messhall.
"I wouldn't waste any money on Dalby's poll, Harry," he said distinctly. "I know for a fact that Chakotay didn't get seduced by an alien last night."
Harry looked up at him in confusion.
"I lied before," Tom told him. "The truth is that Chakotay and I spent the night together. We're in a relationship. In fact, I'm late for our date tonight. That's why he just commed me."
Then Tom turned on his heel and hurried out of the room.
Maybe, if he was *very* careful, he could convince Chakotay that it was the truth too.