"Why don't you just sit there and rest, Tom, while I sort your things
out," Harry murmured, patting Tom's shoulder soothingly, although Tom
had made no effort to get out of the chair he had collapsed into
"It's a good thing that we have so many empty cabins," Harry
continued, as he continued to pick up Tom's clothes and possessions
from the floor.
"Otherwise, when you moved in with *him* the Captain would have
reassigned your cabin and then where would you be?" he scolded.
"I told you it was a bad idea to move in with him under the
circumstances. Don't get me wrong, I really am sorry he overheard me,
but even so, this day was inevitable, wasn't it? Now look at this
mess. Did you *have* to take so much stuff to his place?"
As Tom just continued to stare blindly at the wall, without replying,
Harry became increasingly certain that Tom should have stayed in
Sickbay after all.
Despite the Doctor's assurances that having a jaw broken in 4 places
didn't necessarily mean a concussion, Harry was positive that Tom
*had* suffered some minor brain trauma.
Why else would he be sitting there listlessly like a marionette that
had had its strings cut instead of celebrating his unexpected freedom?
Sure, it had been a shock when Chakotay had walked in, and Harry
wished he could have cut his own tongue out before he had dropped Tom
in the shit like that.
But, on the other hand, it was for the best wasn't it? Like Tom had
said in the beginning, it was cleaner if Chakotay was the one to end
the relationship. Which he obviously had.
If the vicious punch hadn't been indication enough, the fact that he
had immediately transported every one of Tom's possessions into a
tangled heap in the middle of Tom's former quarters had adequately
portrayed the message.
Harry could understand Chakotay being upset. He'd never thought he'd
turn out to be the spiteful type however. It had surprised him how
many items on Tom's floor were broken.
"Just leave it," Tom had said tiredly when they had walked into the
quarters and seen Chakotay's `message'.
But Harry had no intention of going anywhere. There was always the
extremely remote chance that Chakotay would change his mind, and
Harry wasn't leaving Tom alone in his obviously vulnerable state. God
only knew what Tom might agree to if Chakotay threatened him.
So he was tidying Tom's quarters and waiting for what he assumed was
Tom's headache to wear off. They had a lot to talk about, he and
Tom. Not least being what they would do if Chakotay reported Tom to
They'd have to lie, Harry had decided. It would be Chakotay's word
against theirs and he had no intention of letting Tom go to the brig,
let alone himself as an accessory.
"These vids are all smashed, Tom," he groaned, as he found them in a
bag under a pile of clothes. "I can't believe he's being such a nasty
prick about this. Breaking your private stuff is just plain mean."
Tom stared at the vids with dull eyes before quietly replying.
"They aren't mine anymore. I gave them to him. Obviously he's decided
he doesn't want them."
"There's a data padd in this bag too, Tom."
"Oh?" Tom said disinterestedly.
"Yeah. It's a note. It's coded to you so I can't read it. Come on,
tell me what it says," Harry demanded eagerly.
Tom accepted the padd with a trembling hand. He knew that whatever
Chakotay wanted to say, it was highly unlikely that he wanted to read
He read the first few words and his vision blurred.
"What did he say," Harry demanded. "Is he going to tell the Captain?"
Tom threw his shoulders back proudly, raised his face to meet Harry's
and attempted a casual drawl.
"He just cleared up a loose end, that's all."
Harry reached for the padd and read the entry. All it said was,
"4650 credits have been transferred to your personal account."
"I don't understand, Tom." Harry said in bemusement.
Tom gave a bitter laugh.
"It's my pay off, Haz. It's his way of calling me a whore."
"Are you sure? I mean he doesn't SAY that does he?"
"Yes, he does," Tom replied.
"It's the amount. 4650 credits. If you divide it by 93 days it works
out as exactly 50 credits per day."
Harry was unconvinced.
"50 credits a day doesn't sound much to me."
"Yeah, well, he obviously considers me a cheap whore," Tom spat.
"You're not cheap," Harry replied loyally.
"I don't understand," Kathryn sighed.
"What's to understand?" Chakotay replied, his voice as brittle as
ice. "I made a mistake, that's all."
"But what happened? This morning he was the centre of your existence
and now suddenly you're saying it's all over between you. Is this
about the way he acted on the bridge? I know he disobeyed my order
but even I have to admit that he saved our lives, Chakotay. I
thought you'd be proud of him."
"I was, Kathryn. Until I went to Sickbay and found him with Harry. I
heard them talking. It seems that Tom was-," but he couldn't
continue, couldn't admit the truth of how badly Tom had deceived him.
He had come here with the express intention of telling Kathryn
everything. He had no doubt that Tom would end up in the brig, where
he belonged for his despicable behaviour.
Only, when he came right to it, he couldn't say the words. Not
because of what would happen to Tom, but because the only person who
really came out of this looking like the prize dupe of the Delta
Quadrant was himself.
"So Tom has been sleeping with Harry?" Kathryn asked, with pity but a
decided lack of surprise.
Chakotay was too stunned by her assumption to even reply. Talking his
silence as agreement however, Kathryn continued to expound on her own
"I always said Tom had a problem with exclusivity, Chakotay, and
Harry has adored him for years. He doesn't seem to have your problem
with the idea of sharing. I'm sorry Tom's hurt you, but you always
accepted it as part of the risk. I'm sure it's nothing personal. It's
just the way he is. Hell, no one expected your relationship to last
as long as it did.
"Although you won't appreciate the idea right now, there'll be a
queue of contenders at your door now, all wanting to find out how you
managed to keep hold of Tom for three months. It's a record, after
all, so it has to say something wonderful about you."
Chakotay opened his mouth to explain how wrong she was, then closed
It was better this way, he decided. At least no one would ever
realise that Tom, like Seska before him, had never cared for him at
all. As much as the idea of ever dating anyone else made him feel
ill, the prospect of being sought after rather than pitied and
laughed at, was definitely the preferable choice.
"I'm truly sorry. I know that you loved him, and it's going to be
difficult now between the pair of you." Kathryn commiserated.
Chakotay pondered her words for a long time.
"Oh, no, Kathryn, you're wrong. *Lieutenant* Paris and I will get on
fine. You see I never loved *him*," he stated honestly.
"You didn't?" Kathryn gasped.
"No. Because it appears that the person I fell in love with never
even existed at all," Chakotay said bitterly.
"I figured it, Haz," Tom said excitedly.
"Figured what, Tom?"
"I gotta come clean, tell him the truth. I'll tell him everything and
say I'm sorry, of course. He'll make me suffer a bit more, then he'll
"He already *knows* the truth, remember?" Harry reminded him tiredly.
"Yeah, but that's not the same as me going and explaining things to
him, is it?" Tom said fervently. "I'm going mad, Haz. I miss him so
much. It's been more than a week. He *has* to be missing me too.
Maybe all he's waiting for is an apology!"
"Hmmn," Harry grunted, unconvinced. "I think you should leave it
alone, Tom. You don't have the best track record where coming clean
is concerned. Look what happened to you *last* time you thought it
would be a good idea to confess something."
"Oh, yeah," Tom muttered, his face turning pale as Harry's words sank
in, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
Since he had inadvertently screwed things up between Tom and
Chakotay, and Harry couldn't see the straighter than a die Commander
ever forgiving Tom for his deception, he had decided to forgive Tom
for attempting to break his promise.
It had come as a hell of a shock to him, of course, when Tom had
finally confessed that he had been intending to stay with Chakotay
after all, pip or no pip.
But, after the initial shock, Harry had understood that it hadn't
been Tom's fault that he had fallen in love with Chakotay, which was
another thing Tom had finally admitted.
And it wasn't as if Chakotay was ever going to take Tom back, so it
didn't matter anyway, in the grand scheme of things. But in the
meanwhile, he couldn't bear to see Tom looking so down.
"Maybe he is still playing games with you, Tom," Harry said brightly.
"You think so?" Tom asked desperately. "You think he's just
pretending to be mad at me?"
"Anything's possible," Harry replied, with a shrug.
"The best thing you can do is leave well alone, and wait for him to
come to you."
"Get the fuck out of my office, Paris," Chakotay snarled.
He couldn't believe the little bastard had the cheek to face him like
this. He had changed Tom's shifts so that they didn't even share the
bridge, using Tom's promotion back to Lieutenant as an excuse to put
him in charge of Gamma Shift. The Captain hadn't been fooled, of
course, but she had agreed to his proposed changes, at least
"I need to talk to you. I need you to listen to me, please. Give me a
chance to explain," Tom begged.
"There is nothing that you could say that would possibly be of any
interest to me, *Lieutenant*," Chakotay growled.
"Shit, Chak. Please. I'm going crazy here. You won't see me or talk
to me, and you ignore all my letters."
"So? Like I said, I'm not interested," Chakotay replied coldly. Tom
*had* sent him numerous messages, but Chakotay had simply deleted
them all unread.
"I have nothing to say to you. Get out of my office or I will call
Security," he hissed.
"Not until you explain *this*," Tom demanded, throwing a data padd
down on Chakotay's desk.
Chakotay read the display but his lip simply curled in disgust.
"I'm sorry if you think the payoff was insufficient, Paris. It seemed
a fair amount to me, under the circumstances, but then again, I
wasn't sure of the going rates for ship's sluts. Perhaps you should
consider raising an invoice next time you screw someone for profit."
"Fuck your credits. I don't want them. I never asked you for them. I
never wanted them," Tom spat, his eyes filling with tears.
"I love you, Chakotay. I don't want your credits. I don't even want
this fucking rank. I just, I just want you. Please, honey. I know
you want me. Just give me a chance to explain."
"Get out," Chakotay replied.
"Please, Chak. Let me explain. Please," Tom begged.
Chakotay gave a theatrical sigh. Deciding that the fastest way to get
Tom out of the room would probably be to listen to him after all, he
leant back in his chair and regarded Tom with half-closed eyes.
"Okay, entertain me," he drawled with cold sarcasm.
Tom swallowed dryly, lashed by Chakotay's mockery. Then he reminded
himself that the older man was probably only `pretending' to be so
furious. Sure, that had to be it, since he had never seen the
Commander behave like this before.
Chakotay was a calm, rational, understanding man, not this cold,
unfeeling bastard who was looking at him like he had crawled out from
a rock. It had to be an act. Tom couldn't afford to believe anything
"It's true," he confessed suddenly. "I *did* only go out with you at
first because I wanted my rank back and I figured you'd do it for me.
I just wanted to see how far I could push you."
"And Harry knew all about it," Chakotay snapped. "You were both
laughing at me, I take it?"
"It wasn't Harry's fault, Chakotay. He knew about it but I'm sure he
*wanted* to tell you," Tom said defensively, not willing to let Harry
suffer because of his own mistake, especially since he had told Harry
that he *wouldn't* come and confess.
"But he kept quiet so he could keep fucking you?" Chakotay asked. It
was a wild guess, but in view of Kathryn's comments, it seemed a safe
"Yeah, kind of, well no. I mean, he doesn't fuck *me*, Chak. Only
*you* fuck me. I swear."
"I see. So I was fucking you and you were fucking him? Sounds almost
poetic, doesn't it? I'm sure you had a barrel of fun," Chakotay
Tom chewed frantically on his lower lip. This trying to tell the
truth was turning into a disaster. Chakotay was twisting everything,
confusing him, making it all sound so sordid, and it hadn't been, had
"I wasn't fucking him. Not when you were fucking me," Tom insisted.
"So you never slept with Harry after we started dating?" Chakotay
"No. Well, not after *we* started fucking, anyway," Tom assured him.
"I see. So you were still sleeping with him when we were first going
out?" Chakotay asked, for clarification.
"Yeah," Tom admitted. "But that was before I fell in love with you."
"So when did you get *that* blinding revelation?" Chakotay asked
"I didn't, well it wasn't, well it just kind of snuck up on me when I
wasn't looking," Tom said sheepishly.
"So, let's be sure I have this right. After several weeks of
*pretending* to love me, you finally decided that you actually did?"
Chakotay asked politely.
Tom sighed with relief.
"Yeah, that's exactly what happened," he agreed.
"Well that was very enlightening, Lieutenant. I appreciate your
efforts to ensure that I know exactly where I always stood with you.
At least this way I know precisely how stupid I was. Now, unless you
feel the need to rub it in anymore, I suggest you leave."
Tom's mouth gaped open in confusion.
"But, but, I told you the truth," he gasped. "I confessed
*everything*, well almost everything. Hang on, let me tell you the
rest, then you'll understand."
"I'm sure confession is good for the soul, Paris, but since I am
reasonably certain that you don't have one, let's just leave it at
that, okay? Now, if that's all, I have work to do," Chakotay replied
"It's *not* all," Tom cried. "I said that was why I went out with you
*at first*. There was no harm done, was there? I mean it's not like I
*did* go through with it. It was a game, that's all. Just like the
games you played with me in the beginning."
"What games?" Chakotay demanded, his eyes narrowing still further.
"Playing hard to get. Blowing hot and cold. Being a prick-tease," Tom
"Is *that* what I was doing?" Chakotay asked quietly.
Encouraged, Tom gave a nervous laugh and continued.
"Yeah, so you know how it was, don't you? I mean we both played each
other for what we wanted, didn't we? So I don't understand why you're
being so uptight about it now.
"Does it really matter *why* we got together? I love you, Chak, and I
*know* you love me, so why can't we just forget *why* we got together
and carry on?" Tom asked plaintively.
"I miss you, big guy. I can't sleep for thinking about you. I know I
fucked up, but it's not *that* big a deal is it? I mean you wanna
fuck me and I want your cock in my ass. Hell, we're made for each
other. So, what do you say, huh?"
Chakotay took a deep breath.
"I think I misjudged you Tom. I called you a cheap slut, I even
deliberately paid you an insulting amount for your time just to drive
the point home. But you know something?"
"What?" Tom asked hopefully.
"I obviously overpaid you. You're even cheaper, nastier scum than I
Tom's face crumbled in disbelief and he flinched back in his chair as
Chakotay surged to his feet.
"You dare sit here and accuse me of playing hard to get and being a
prick-tease?' I thought you were special. I treated you like
something precious, Tom Paris. I treated you with respect. The fact
that you saw it as prick-teasing just proves to me how low you are."
"But I, I, I didn't understand Chak. Not at first, but then I did,
and we were great together, weren't we? I mean it was the best,
"The best?" Chakotay laughed sarcastically. "You weren't the *best*
Tom, you were just the *easiest*. Now get the fuck out of my office
before I throw you out."
"You don't mean that, Chak. I know you don't. I didn't mean to hurt
you. You know I didn't mean to hurt you." Tom purred, reaching
forward to trace the prominent outline of Chakotay's obvious
As Tom's fingers touched his crotch, Chakotay's self-control
shattered. His arm shot out, grabbed Tom's wrist and wrenched it
savagely until Tom's arm was twisted behind his back. Then he frog-
marched him to the door and shoved him through it so violently that
Tom hit the opposite wall and stumbled to his knees, cradling his
The shocked blue eyes filled with tears of pain.
"I think you broke it," Tom wailed.
"Oh, I'm sorry. But since I didn't *mean to hurt you*, it doesn't
matter, does it?," Chakotay spat as he shut the door in Tom's face.