Looking Glass Milk
With a complete disregard for the state of his ration account, Chakotay programmed the bath to keep the water at a constant temperature, alerted the computer to monitor his life-signs in case he sank under the water and drowned, and once he had felt the cold touch of Tom's lips against his neck once more, he gradually slipped into an uneasy sleep.
It took Tom a lot longer to find rest. He had cautiously climbed back onto the treacherous elastic surface of the water and had sprawled full-length on the delicious heat, enjoying the way that the rising steam vibrated against his skin and massaged his bruised flesh. What should have been no more than the feel of thin mist felt instead like the jets of a Jacuzzi, and he luxuriated in the pleasurable sensations rippling over his abused body. Yet, even the pleasure of the massaging steam was little compensation for the increasing, gnawing ache inside his stomach and the stinging fire of lips so chapped that Chakotay's neck was smeared red with Tom's blood.
Yet, despite his discomfort, Tom eventually joined his husband in fitful sleep.
"Tom? Tom are you still here?"
It was the tinge of panic in Chakotay's voice that dragged Tom back to consciousness. The effort of opening his eyes was too much for him to face, his whole body felt too exhausted for even such a tiny effort as the twitching of his eyelids. Even the comforting heat of the rising steam barely compensated for the feeling of intense, bone-deep heaviness that pervaded his whole body. So he settled for simply nuzzling a little closer into Chakotay's neck, trusting that his icy breath would be answer enough.
"TOM?" Chakotay's tone was pure terror now.
I'm here, big guy, Tom croaked, then winced as the effort of speaking ripped the freshly formed scabs from his lips.
"TOM?? Where are you?" Chakotay demanded.
Eyes still closed, Tom only registered Chakotay's intention to surge out of the bathwater when the surface he was lying on contracted like a trampoline. He was hurled in a flailing tangle of limbs, not only off the bath but clear across the bathroom, his blind headlong flight ending abruptly when he hit the wall.
For a moment there was no pain, just shock and the sickening sound of shattering bone as his right wrist crumbled against the unyielding metal. Then a savage fire ripped through his right side, starting in his broken fingers and gnawing with merciless hunger as it surged the length of his arm. In an instant of clarity before the pain stole all reason from his brain, Tom realized that the impact had shattered his bones all the way from his fingertips to his collar bone. Then, as he crumpled to the floor with a howl of agony, he felt his left ankle break as it tried to brace him against the impact of the floor.
Tom rolled on the floor and screamed in fresh terror, as Chakotay swung his muscular body out of the bath to stand on the floor only inches from Tom's writhing body. His left foot merely brushed the tip of Tom's left cheek, yet the impact of that brief touch was as painful as the punch of a fist.
As the agonizing, searing fire rippled through his body, Tom lost the ability for coherent thought and his body's own self-protective instincts took over, flooding his limbs with endorphins and adrenaline, pain transforming into the simple urgent need to escape the man who had so abruptly changed from comforter to mortal danger. Half-crawling on his unbroken ankle, half merely dragging himself across the tiled bathroom floor with his undamaged arm, Tom scuttled out of the bathroom like a broken crab.
All he could hear was the thunderous sound of Chakotay's footsteps in his wake, all he was aware of was the fact that a foot landing on his head or torso in his new, brittle state would be fatal. Sobbing with terror, whimpering with pain, Tom dragged himself across the bedroom floor and crawled under the bed. Then he simply lay there in the semi-darkness of his shadowy hiding place, mewling with fear each time he saw Chakotay's bare feet approaching the bed as the older man prowled with increasing agitation around their quarters, calling Tom's name.
Only when Chakotay finally stormed out of the bedroom to check the living room did Tom finally relax a little. It was a mistake. As soon as the mind-numbing terror receded a little, the pain surged back with a vengeance. Only then did Tom make the mistake of attempting to inspect the damage inflicted on his shattered right arm. But it wasn't pain that made him scream and pass out, so much as the fact that he could see clear through his forearm to the carpet below.
"Tom? Tom? You've got to listen to me Tom. Wake up. TOM!"
Fuck off and die.
"Tom Paris, get your fucking self-pitying head out of your ass right now or I'll kick your fucking butt."
Tom gave a resentful sigh and cautiously opened his eyes.
"Yeah, I know. It's a shock isn't it?"
Who? What? Fuck I've gone mad.
"Well, either we've *both* gone mad or I'm really here. Wherever here is, of course."
Tom paused his frantic attempts to reconcile the unbelievable sight straight in front of his eyes and glanced around them. He was back in Chakotay's dreamscape as far as he could tell.
I guess this is some kind of Jungian crap, huh? Meeting the inner me?
"That's inner child, and from where I'm standing you're the fucking child here, not me."
That's easy for you to say. You're not the one who's just been thrown at a wall.
The other Tom smiled sympathetically, then winced when the expression tore at the tender broken skin at the edges of his mouth.
"Yeah, I admit you're in worse shape than I am," he allowed. "Odd that. You'd think, being mirror images of each other that we'd have experienced exactly the same things."
Maybe it's different because we're fucked up now, neither in one place or the other.
Mirror Tom gave a small chuckle.
"What you just said. It's the answer maybe. I think I've just figured some of it out."
Tom arched his eyebrows in disbelief.
Who are you trying to kid? he scoffed. I'm you, remember. I KNOW you know fuck-all about quantum physics.
"Listen, smart-ass. We should have swapped places, shouldn't we? I should be on *your* Voyager, and you should be on mine."
Yeah, well surprise, surprise, we fucked up!
"Shit, are you always this irritating?"
Dunno, I never talked to myself before. Well, not so that I could answer back. Hey, I just noticed something.
"What?" Mirror Tom asked.
You're a damn good-looking guy, Tom smirked, giving Mirror Tom a speculative look. I could fancy you myself.
Mirror Tom's eyes sparked with appreciation.
"What a wet dream. Being able to fuck myself. Don't think Chakotay would approve though."
Hey, we're both me. I'd just be jacking me off.
"Tough talk for a guy who's got so many broken bones he can't even move."
THAT bone's not broken.
"It's not a bone."
Sure feels like one at the moment.
"You're so full of shit," Mirror Tom chuckled. "You couldn't get it up in this state if Chakotay turned up here naked and did the lambada over your cock."
Yeah, well, it took my mind off the pain for a moment, Tom sighed.
"I was trying to tell you what I'd figured out."
Go on then, knock yourself out, amaze me with your deductive skill, Tom drawled.
Mirror Tom looked at Tom in concern. Tom was pale, his face desiccated by dehydration, his eyes so sunken in his head that his face looked like a skull, and he knew Tom's swinging moods from crude innuendo to sarcastic wit were an attempt to hide the unbearable pain of his injuries. He shivered, feeling more terrified now than he had for days, because if this Tom died, they would both die.
"I think we're trapped in the glass."
"One of the Voyager's is the *real* Voyager. The other is like it's reflection in a mirror. You with me so far?"
"When the transporter went wrong, we got swapped with each other, only instead of arriving at the opposite ships we somehow both got trapped somewhere in the middle, like we're suspended in the mirror itself, neither in one place or the other."
Maybe, Tom allowed, only I think I *must* be on the other ship because everything's reversed here.
"I don't think so," Mirror Tom replied. "I think we both changed as we transported. We took on the properties of each other's universe but didn't actually arrive there. It's like we are both on opposite sides of the mirror-glass. We're both *almost* inside the other universes but we're facing in the wrong direction."
So that's why we can see our *own* ships, but from a reversed perspective?
"That's what I think."
Why can't anyone see us though?
"Maybe we aren't really here. We're just looking through the glass at a sort of illusion."
Believe me, that wall was no fucking illusion.
Mirror Tom shrugged helplessly.
"I never said I had all the answers. I just think I'm on to something. I've got the feeling that the only way we're going to survive this is if we work together."
Work together how? In case it's escaped your notice, I can hardly fucking move and we're both almost dead from dehydration.
"I don't know. I just have a feeling that we have to be together if we're going to have any chance of surviving the attempt to transport us again."
Yeah, well don't hold your breath for the cavalry. We're too insubstantial for the instruments of the ship to find us. They can't transport us if they don't know where we are.
"He's gone, Chakotay," Kathryn finally admitted. "We've scanned the entire ship and there's absolutely no trace of him. I'm so sorry."
"But he was here. He was with me last night. I felt him, dammit. I KNOW he was here."
"I'm not doubting you, Chakotay, but he was very weak and I think he simply faded away. You said he had gone by the time you woke up. I imagine he just slowly dissipated throughout the night. At least he was in your arms, Chakotay. At least he was with you until the end."
Chakotay simply glared at her dismissively and then turned to B'Elanna.
"You said you'd found a way to reverse the effects of the transportation error?"
"We think so. We've extrapolated all the data from the original transport and have built a matrix program based an old pattern buffer from a previous successful transportation of Tom."
"We've incorporated a large portion of the original EMH matrix," the Doctor interrupted.
"You're plan is to turn Tom into a hologram?" Chakotay demanded.
"No, well kind of," Harry replied. Seeing the horror on the Commander's face, he hastened to explain. "The problem is that there isn't enough of either Tom left to even make one whole person, let alone two, and as we understand the properties of the mirror universe, unless Tom rematerializes in *both* places, he can't rematerialize at all. So our idea is to create two stable holographic matrices based upon Tom's DNA, one keyed to our universe, the other to the mirror universe."
"If it had worked, Tom would have been a combination of himself and his records from a previous transportation all held together within a holo-matrix, with a built in holo-emitter." B'Elanna said.
"So a hologram," Chakotay choked.
"But a stable one, with Tom's true memories. He would have felt as solid to the touch as a human. He would have been able to function in exactly the same way. The only difference would be that he'd never have visibly aged and he'd no longer be susceptible to illnesses."
"Except possible power failure," Seven pointed out dispassionately.
"But, in a way, he'd never have *really* survived," Kathryn said gently. "So perhaps it's for the best."
Chakotay was silent for a long time, his face expressionless. A single tear formed in the corner of his left eye and tracked with fascinating slowness down his cheekbone. Then he smiled.
The expression was so incongruous that the other members of the Senior Staff simply looked at him in disbelief.
His smile widened until his eyes crinkled and dimples dented his cheeks, and when he turned to the Captain to reply, his voice was soft.
"You think so?" he asked quietly.
"I don't understand," Kathryn admitted, as she watched Chakotay settle himself cross-legged on the floor of the transporter room and prepare himself for his spirit journey.
"Chakotay found Tom on the spirit plane before. There's at least a good possibility that he'll find him again. If he succeeds in connecting with Tom and bringing him through, the transporter will lock onto the space around Chakotay and attempt the transport. We've already locked the pattern buffers to avoid Chakotay's own body, otherwise we could get Tom back and lose Chakotay instead," B'Elanna explained.
"I understand *that*," Kathryn replied. "If I didn't think it was worth a try, I wouldn't have agreed to this. What I don't understand is how easily Chakotay accepted that Tom would come back to us as little more than a hologram."
"Oh, that part's easy," B'Elanna replied. "Chakotay isn't in love with Tom's body. He's in love with his spirit and it's his spirit that will be coming home. It's irrelevant whether that spirit is housed in a body of flesh and blood or in a solid holo-matrix. All that matters to Chakotay is that *Tom* survives."
Kathryn looked at her dubiously. "Let's hope that Tom feels the same way."
This time when he arrived in the dark place, Chakotay didn't panic. He didn't allow the feeling of vacuum siphon at his soul. Instead he simply stood there in the dark, steadied his breathing and concentrated purely on his memory of Tom's face.
For an interminable time nothing happened, but he refused to doubt, refused to allow the fear to drain his strength. Tom was here. Tom *had* to be here, because the alternative was that Tom had truly gone and if that was the case, then Chakotay would simply remain here in this dark, silent place until his own spirit also left his body to follow Tom to wherever he had gone.
As though it sensed his decision to remain whether Tom was here or not, the darkness finally wavered slightly to reveal a tiny pinprick of light in the distance.
"TOMMY?" Chakotay yelled.
As before, all around him the darkness constricted, then seemed to ripple and he was thrust forward at a sickening speed until he crashed heavily to his knees in front of *two* Toms.
Chakotay spun in confusion. In the darkness with him the form of Tom was pale and insubstantial, swaying a little on legs weakened by hunger and thirst, but otherwise unharmed. His smile was radiant as he looked at Chakotay, even despite the vicious scabbing that covered his lips and the cracked corners of his mouth.
The other Tom was bathed in a circle of light, but it's glow only served to highlight the vivid bruises that marred his face like a camouflage mask. His entire right side seemed off-balance, and Chakotay choked in horror as he realized that Tom's right arm had been virtually crushed. It hung at an unnatural angle from his collar bone to his mangled fingers.
"Tommy?" he choked.
Tom tried to smile.
I tripped in the bath, he joked.
Chakotay's eyes flared with terrible understanding and he turned almost accusingly to the other Tom.
"*He's* my Tom, isn't he? You're...you're the other one."
The mirror Tom gave a sob of agreement, then surprised Chakotay by hurtling into his arms and clinging to him tightly for comfort. As Chakotay inhaled to sweet scent of mirror Tom's hair he understood that in this strange mixed up never-never land, the wrong Tom was the one who felt good, who smelt right, but that the other Tom, the one crumpled on the ground in agony was *his* Tom.
He detached himself from the mirror Tom, kissing him lightly then pushing him away with gentle insistence. He sank to his knees and crawled carefully towards Tom, cautious of his movements because Tom trembled at his approach as though he was in so much pain that he couldn't imagine Chakotay's touch bringing him anything except more pain.
Chakotay had to swallow to resist the instinctive gag reaction that struck him as soon as he entered the bright circle that surrounded Tom. The smell inside the orb was rank and sickening, the air pungent with the stench of rot and decay.
But this time Chakotay *knew* this was his love, and so he ignored the spasming of his gut and the bile that raced through his throat as he carefully leaned forward and kissed Tom's lips.
Chakotay, Tom wailed, clutching at him with his one good hand.
"I love you, babe," Chakotay gasped, forcing himself not to flinch from the almost burning ice of Tom's touch. "I've come to take you home."
"We've returned to the nebula. We're going to reverse the transport and get you back."
"I don't think you can," the other Tom interrupted sadly. "We didn't just get swapped over. We somehow lost so much of our patterns that we ended up stuck here like ghosts. I don't think there's enough of us left to even make *one* real person again."
"I know," Chakotay replied. "We're going to have to mix your pattern inside a specially designed holo-matrix. It will absorb your essence and, well, padd the rest out with bits and pieces from the memory bank and parts of the EMH program."
Oh fuck. I'm gonna be Tuvix Tom choked.
"More of a Toc, from the sounds of things," Mirror Tom quipped.
"Toc?" Chakotay asked, swiveling from Tom to Tom in bewilderment. He'd always struggled to cope with Tom's tendency to deal with crises by joking. Faced now with two joking Toms he felt completely out of his league.
Toc: Part Tom, part Doc, Tom explained.
"Fuck, does that mean we end up bald?" Mirror Tom demanded, a look of true fear breaking through his careful mask of nonchalance.
Chakotay had an insane urge to make his own joke about that, but fought the impulse knowing it was just an hysterical reaction to the fact that both Toms still hadn't really caught the point of the matrix.
"Your appearance won't change," he assured them both.
That's a relief, Tom said. 'Cos Tom's a good-looking guy, isn't he? He gestured towards his mirror image with a cheeky smirk.
Mirror Tom choked as he remembered the last time Tom had made that comment.
Chakotay regarded them both with a combination of sadness and the exasperation of a man who'd never learnt how to cope with one Tom, let alone two. Perhaps that was why he suddenly blurted it out.
"You'll be a hologram."
Then, in the silence that followed, Chakotay just stood there in complete shock at the brutality of his own words.
It was Tom who finally broke the silence.
I guess that means at least my fucking arm will stop hurting.
"Do you think we'll be able to walk through walls?" Mirror Tom said. "Only it was a real fucking disappointment to be a ghost and not be able to do that."
You too? Tom asked. Shit, the only fun I had was making the Captain spill coffee all over herself.
"The Captain? Damn, wish I'd thought of that. I only did it to Tuvok and he didn't even scream. He just made this peculiar choking noise like he was constipated."
If Chakotay hadn't seen the almost artic look of horror in both the younger men's eyes, he could have almost believed they were as unaffected by the proposed 'rescue' as they were pretending.
You ever fucked a hologram, Chak? Tom asked casually.
Chakotay knew Tom was barely coping. Between the pain of his injuries and the terror of the situation, a passionate avowal of love would probably break down Tom's shaky defenses and send him into a spiral of hysteria. So he squeezed Tom's hand, stared him firmly in the eye so he could make no mistake whether Chakotay had truly understood all the deeper terrified questions masked beneath that one innocuous query, but answered with the same light humor.
"It's my duty, Tom. The Captain fell in love with a hologram, so as her First Officer it's my duty to carry on the tradition, don't you think?"
Tom gave a choking bark of laughter, and the moment passed.
"What will happen to me?" Mirror Tom asked cautiously.
"I'll take you with me too. You'll be transported into your own matrix and sent back to your own ship, I hope."
No he won't.
Chakotay and the two Toms jerked in surprise at the unexpected voice.
"Chakotay!" Mirror Tom yelled, surging to his feet and flying towards the new arrival.
Chakotay had to choke back a chuckle of amusement as his counterpart visibly recoiled from Mirror Tom's kiss and wiped his mouth frantically.
"See?" he told Tom. "Tom2 tastes as bad to Chakotay2 as you do to me."
Tom blinked slowly then grinned cheekily.
Dunno why you're laughing, big guy. For all you know, I'm still gonna taste this bad when you get me home and you're gonna be stuck with me for ever, husband of mine. I know we had a quickie ceremony, but the 'til death do us part still stands.
But before Chakotay had thought of a suitable rejoinder, the smile suddenly slipped from Tom's face and his eyes widened in new fear.
Only, I AM dead, aren't I? Oh shit. I get it now. That's what this means. I'm just going to be a fucking ghost walking around Voyager again. The only difference is that this time people will be able to see me. Oh fuck. Oh shit, I can't...I can't... no, I can't do this, Chak. I'd rather die here than face that.
"You're *not* dead, Tom. You're alive. Wonderfully, gloriously alive and you're coming home with me where you belong."
My body's gone Chak. My fucking body's gone. What kind of life is that?
"It's life, Tom. That's all. There's no degrees to life. You're alive or you're dead, that's all and you, my love, are very much alive. Do you really think it matters what your actual body is made of? So what if you aren't flesh and blood? Think of the advantages Tom. You'll never feel the kind of pain that you're suffering now. A holographic body won't break or bleed. A holographic body won't age. You'll be as perfect in fifty years as you are right now. It ought to scare me more than you, that I'll grow old while you stay young and beautiful. I'll spend the rest of my life terrified that you'll grow tired of me and move on."
Never. NEVER. I'll never leave you, Chak. I'll stay with you until you breathe your last breath and then I'll smash the fucking matrix and follow you. Tom hissed.
"So, you'll come with me? You'll accept what needs to be done?"
I've got no choice, have I? Tom said sadly. Because even if I'm dying either way, this way I get to stay with you. Then a small smile quirked the corner of his mouth.
I just figured a new advantage.
Think about it, big guy. No more limitations of flesh and blood. I'm going to be a permanent, ever-ready hard on.
Chakotay looked at Tom in disbelief, then he gave a choke of laughter that echoed throughout the tunnel.
"I think we're creating an unstoppable sex-craved monster," he admitted.
Yeah, Chak. But, I'll be *your* unstoppable sex-craved monster, he promised with a leer.
Chakotay opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the arrival of their mirror counterparts. From the grin on Mirror Tom's face and the slight blush on Mirror Chakotay's cheeks, Chakotay had a suspicion that they had just engaged in a similar conversation.
Are you ready? Mirror Chakotay asked. We have to do this together. I'll take my Tom back to our ship now and attempt the procedure from our end. You take your Tom and do the same. Good luck.
"No," Mirror Tom interrupted. "It won't work like that."
"Why not?" Chakotay demanded.
"I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty certain you have to take the *wrong* Tom back with you, otherwise we'll end up reversed."
Still seeing everything back to front. It plays havoc with hand-eye co-ordination, Tom agreed.
Are you sure? Mirror Chakotay demanded.
The two Toms simply shrugged helplessly.
"We have to assume their instincts are right," Chakotay decided firmly. "We're running out of time, we're only going to get one shot at this so let's just do it."
Tom didn't know what to expect. He didn't even want to think about it. He still remembered the pain of bouncing in and out of the transporter room like a yo-yo, and given his broken ankle and shattered arm, he didn't know whether he could bear to go through the experience again.
Especially since he was going to be facing it with the *wrong* Chakotay. Except, in all honesty, he couldn't really tell the difference between them except that *this* Chakotay wasn't bravely trying to avoid throwing up whenever Tom breathed on him.
In the event, the whole thing was an anti-climax. He simply held onto Chakotay as the tunnel seemed to disintegrate around them, he had a sensation of falling through an almost endless blackness and then, when he finally felt himself stop moving and opened his eyes, he was lying on the floor of the transporter room.
"Chak?" he managed, then the sensation of moving occurred again, and this time he opened his eyes to find himself in the Sickbay with Chakotay, the Captain and the Doctor all hovering around him anxiously.
"Tommy? Talk to me," Chakotay begged.
"So what's the verdict? Am I officially alive or now merely considered part of the general fixtures and fittings of the ship?" Tom drawled, swinging himself off the bed and flexing his now undamaged right arm with evident relief.
"I object most strenuously to the suggestion of any hologram being a 'mere' fixture of the ship," the Doctor huffed. "Of course, given the tendency to turn me off-line without so much as a consultation I..."
"Computer, end EMH program," Kathryn snapped impatiently, seeing the way that Tom's eyes were widening in fear despite his attempt at levity.
She only realized her mistake when Tom yelped in fear as the Doctor dematerialized and then backed away from her in terror. Chakotay shot her a glare of pure malice before fixing his face into a softer expression and approaching the trembling blond.
"Have *I* got an off-switch too?" Tom screamed. "Have I got a fucking off-switch? You gonna start turning me off when I piss you off, huh? Guess there's no need for a fucking brig when you can just pull my plug."
"Tom. Tommy, please," Chakotay begged, as Tom continued to back away from him.
"No," Kathryn snapped, understanding Tom's fear and knowing that she was the only person who could reassure him of the truth. "There's no 'off-switch', Tom. You aren't part of the ship's systems. Your matrix is fully self-contained. You can draw on the ship's energy and your matrix is backed up inside the main database for safety, but you're self-contained. You aren't part of the computer system. Your 'body' is as solid and real as a human one. Unlike the Doctor, you can't change your appearance, you can't be turned on and off. You can't even chose to turn yourself off but although your body can't tire, your mind still requires rest so your body will imitate sleep.
"You won't be able to eat real food, but you'll be able to eat and drink and enjoy the taste of holographic food. You'll be able to see, touch, taste, feel just like you always have, perhaps even better than before. To all intents and purposes, with just a few obvious exceptions, you are the same Tom as you were before. You're still the pilot of this ship, the husband of Chakotay and a valued member of this crew and someone I consider a personal friend.
"But more importantly, perhaps, there is and always will be a vast difference between you and the Doctor and that's why I turned him off. Not to show any disregard for his rights but to save his feelings. As self-aware as the Doctor is, no matter how advanced and independent his program becomes, he isn't and never will be as real as you are Tom. You aren't a hologram with Tom's memories, you ARE Tom, the real Tom and all that has happened is that your spirit, as Chakotay calls it, has been transplanted from a human body into a photonic one. So you're alive in a way that the Doctor can never truly be.
"So in answer to your original question Tom, the only way in which I consider you part of the fixtures and fittings of this Ship is in the fact that your ass, and that of every other member of this crew belongs completely and absolutely to me," Kathryn ended with a self-depreciating smirk.
"Uh huh," Tom replied, his eyes now sparkling with equal humor. "My life is yours to command, Captain, but my ass belongs to my husband."
"I think that's a very long-overdue conversation that you should have *with* your husband," Kathryn replied with a gentle smile. "Since you're both on duty tomorrow, I suggest you hurry up and get the hell out of the sickbay to go 'converse' in your own quarters."
"Tomorrow?" Tom protested. "That's not fair, Captain. Think of the stress I've been through. I'd get a week off for a broken leg. I sure as hell should get some vacation for being dead."
"You're NOT dead," Chakotay snapped, unappreciative of Tom's humor.
"Two days?" Tom suggested to the Captain, with a cheeky wink. "Just to make sure everything's in working order, you know?"
"Tommy," Chakotay growled warningly, grabbing his husband by the arm and starting to manhandle him to the door.
Kathryn's mouth quirked.
"Twenty-four hours," she offered. "I don't want my First Officer ending up in sickbay."
As Chakotay marched Tom outside of sickbay, she turned to the terminal and made the duty roster adjustment. It meant she'd have to pull a double shift herself the next day but the sacrifice had been well paid for by the magnificent blush she had just witnessed on Chakotay's normally stoic face.
"So," Tom purred, twisting in Chakotay's arms the moment the door of their quarter's closed behind them. "You wanna take this new body for a test drive?"
"Bath first, sex later," Chakotay growled huskily into his ear.
Tom gave a small shiver of fear at the thought of returning to the bathroom where he had been shattered like a fragile vase, then laughed shakily as he remembered that he was not only supposedly indestructible but was actually capable of entering the water now rather than bouncing on top of it.
"You okay, babe?" Chakotay asked, his passion frozen as soon as he had felt Tom tremble.
Tom smirked and bent to nip the tip of Chakotay's nose.
"Yeah, I was just thinking why not combine the two."
He squirmed with excitement as something prodded him in the thigh.
"That a phaser in your pocket, Commander, or are you just pleased to see me?"
It was just a throwaway quip. He hadn't even thought about the significance of his words until Chakotay grasped him by the shoulders and pushed him backwards until he was at arms length. Then his spine tingled at the look of hot passion in Chakotay's eyes as they raked his face, devouring every feature with a hunger that was breathtaking.
"I see you, Tom," he husked, and then he began to shake as the tension of the last few days finally caught up with him. "I see you. I never thought I'd see you again." And he began to cry.
"Oh shit, Chak," Tom gulped, throwing his arms around the older man and clutching him so tightly to his chest that he could feel the dampness of Chakotay's tears seeping through his shirt.
"I'm sorry," Chakotay gulped, trying to push away from Tom's embrace and pull himself together.
"What?" Tom demanded softly. "Am I the only one who's allowed to cry around here? Just let it go, you big doofus."
He waited until the worst of Chakotay's sobs had subsided and then began to pull him towards the bedroom. Chakotay stumbled after him in a half-daze and allowed himself to be undressed and propelled into bed. It was only when his head hit the pillow that a little reason returned to his eyes.
"I wanted a bath," he whined.
"What's the point of getting clean when we're about to get dirty?" Tom snickered, removing his own clothing and crawling onto the bed next to his husband.
"Spirits, Tom. You're so beautiful," Chakotay whispered. "I never thought I'd see you again, never thought I'd touch you again."
"Am I?" Tom asked suddenly. "Am I still beautiful to you? Is this body beautiful to you?"
The vulnerability in Tom's voice made Chakotay's heart lurch.
"Let me prove it to you," he whispered, sliding down the bed until his face was at Tom's groin and then licking slowly at the soft skin of Tom's scrotum.
Tom gave a squeal of surprised pleasure and the skin under Chakotay's tongue immediately tightened.
"Let's see," Chakotay teased. "Seems to react normally there. Let me test somewhere else."
He licked upwards along Tom's shaft, delighting in the way the organ swelled with immediate excitement.
"Yep, that works," he sniggered, then swirled his tongue around the weeping cock-head, flicking his tongue to lap at the tiny beads of liquid that had begun to leak from it's tip.
"Uh oh," Chakotay suddenly muttered, as the taste exploded on his tongue.
"What? WHAT?" Tom demanded, in panic. "What's wrong?"
Chakotay raised his head, his face solemn as he met Tom's frightened eyes.
"It's the taste," he muttered.
"Oh fuck," Tom sobbed. "I still taste bad?"
A huge shit-eating grin split Chakotay's face almost in two.
"No, you taste fucking wonderful," Chakotay sniggered. "So good I'm going to have to do this." And opening his mouth wide, he bobbed his head and imprisoned Tom's cock in his throat.
"You bastard, that wasn't funny, that was fucking mean, that was..that was...oh god, yeah that feels good."
Chakotay smiled around his mouthful of cock, then began to hum merrily deep in his throat. The resultant vibration against Tom's cock made the younger man squirm and buck so much that Chakotay had to use all the strength in his left hand to hold Tom's hips in place, while his left hand crept between Tom's thighs and began to tease them apart.
As much as he had assured Tom that he felt no differently about this new body, it wasn't really true, but he didn't know anyway to explain his feelings without causing Tom some emotional pain and self-doubt. This *was* his Tom, he knew it in every fiber of his being. He believed this was Tom as certainly as he believed that the Spirits existed.
Yet, there was another truth, as important in his own mind even if he would carry the feeling in secret to his own grave.
This body was virgin.
Not only had he never touched this flesh ,that wasn't flesh, before. Neither had anyone else. He'd never even realized before that it had bothered him that hands other than his had touched his husband. He wasn't proud of the thought. It seemed immature, old-fashioned, selfish and pure damned possessive to be jealous of the ghost fingers of Tom's past lovers. He'd never even been consciously aware of the jealousy, it had been enough for him to know that Tom had never *loved* before.
But now, touching Tom, knowing that no person had ever blazed the trail that he was taking as he explored Tom's intimate places, he understood that just as Tom's spirit had come to him untouched by love, now he had been given the gift of Tom's body similarly pure.
He released Tom's cock from his mouth, ignoring the younger man's sob of disappointment, and concentrated instead on driving his blunt fingers against the tight ring of muscle that concealed Tom's hot treasure from his own questing cock.
"You're mine," he growled. Only mine. Only I'm going to fill you. Only I'm going to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Tom's only answer was a contented thrumming purr, because he was too busy ferreting in the bedside cabinet for the lube to form a coherent reply. He gave a gasp of triumph, retrieved the tube, slapped it into Chakotay's free hand and then threw his legs up over Chakotay's shoulders in expectation.
"Just do it," Tom begged, as Chakotay continued to drive him mad with his careful stretching. "I won't break Chak. I *can't* break now, remember. Just do it. I'm not a fucking virgin."
Oh but you are, Tom. For me you are. You really truly are *only* mine for the first time ever, Chakotay thought, but decided it would be wisest to keep the thought to himself.
He slicked his cock with lube and pushed against the loosened hole. Tom gave a grunt of pure delight and crossed his ankles behind Chakotay's head, using his calves to encourage Chakotay to plunge deeper inside.
Tom gasped with relieved surprise as whatever now constituted for nerve-endings inside his ass sent a delicious ripple of sensation throughout his body in response to Chakotay's invasion. When he'd heard that he couldn't truly experience pain in this body, he had been terrified that it meant he equally would barely experience pleasure. The two were so intermingled, particularly during the act of sex that it seemed impossible that they could be separated. Yet this clever new body of his seemed able to filter out the bad, keep the good and balance the two effortlessly.
The gliding feel of Chakotay's cock as it powered inside him was so *almost* identical to their previous love-making that Tom couldn't understand the niggling feeling that kept intruding into his thoughts when all he wanted to do was close his eyes and abandon himself to pleasure as Chakotay reclaimed him as his own.
That's when it hit him. He gasped out loud with surprise, but fortunately Chakotay failed to notice that his exclamation was more than simply a sound of passion.
I *am* a virgin. This body's never been touched by anyone but him. He's my first. He's my only.
He knew he'd never be able to say that to Chakotay without it sounding as though he was either uncomfortable with the new body, or that he'd been a slut before their marriage and neither were true. It was simply that he felt clean, reborn and truly worthy of Chakotay for the first time ever. It was as though he'd been slightly used before, a little shop-soiled, something to be sold on discount rather than a treasure to be coveted.
It was crazy, old-fashioned, maybe even immature to believe that the gift of virginity to a marriage was something precious and almost spiritual, but Tom suddenly felt cleaner that he'd ever remembered feeling in Chakotay's arms.
"I'm yours," he whispered, "only yours," and he not only meant it but he actually believed it as he had never been able to believe it before.