By Morticia


(Sequel to " Recriminations ")


Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al belong to Paramount. I am only playing with them and promise to put them back relatively unscathed

Chakotayís heart nearly stopped when he entered his quarters. There was no sign of Tom. The remains of their dinner had been cleared away and there was no sign in the room that Tom had ever been there.

Kathrynís words came back to him in a sickening rush

"The minute you turn your back on him he will be turning tricks again. Once a whore, always a whore."

He crashed through the bedroom door in panic and skidded to a halt, unsure of whether to be angry or relieved at the sight of Tom sitting nervously on the bed with his repacked bag on his lap.

Forcing himself to speak calmly, Chakotay addressed the younger man:

"What are you doing Tom?"

Tom flushed uncertainly, he had waited an interminable time for Chakotayís return, the longer he had waited, the more he had been sure that the Captain was insisting that Chakotay should give him up.

Positive that Chakotay would return and throw him back out of his quarters he had packed his bag, deciding it would be less embarrassing to walk out voluntarily.

But then he had been unable to actually leave.

Partly his decision had been fear of defying the older man, but a surprising amount of his reluctance had been because he was actually beginning to look forward to the idea of living with Chakotay.

The idea of belonging to just one person again was so compelling. He remembered the relief of finally belonging to Zerkalo in Auckland. His first few weeks in prison had been a nightmare. He had never been raped, he was too smart for that, he had given before anyone could take, but there were just too many people to keep happy.

And then Zerkalo had claimed him. Zerk had been a big ugly brute of a man, a lifer, imprisoned for a series of brutal murders, who knew he would never be released so never hesitated to assert his authority in the jail since another slit throat here or there would make no difference to his sentence.

Tom had spent as much time in the prison sickbay after Zerkís acquisition of him as he had before, only it had still been BETTER. He had known whom he was (Zerkaloís slut) and where he belonged (on his knees in Zerkaloís cell) and it had been a comfort to him to have a clearly defined role to play, no matter how painful and degrading that role was.

At some level, Tom was sure that Chakotay was different from Zerkalo. The big Maquis didnít have the same evident brutality.

Even so, Tom had no doubt that Chakotay was the Alpha male on Voyager and wouldnít hesitate to take what he wanted, and for some reason he wanted Tom.

Only he had been sure that even Chakotay would have to give in to the Captain. For all of Zerkaloís threats and menace, that kept all the other wolves from Tomís door, he had never even attempted to stop the guards from taking their occasional pleasure in the younger man. So Tom clearly understood that anyone in authority could do what he or she liked to him. To be honest, he had learnt that many years before Auckland.

It had seemed a good idea to pack, only now, seeing Chakotayís furious face, Tom squirmed with fear and regret. His instinctive urge was to throw himself at Chakotayís feet and plead for understanding. He was still so sore from Ayalaís earlier attentions that the thought of another beating was terrifying.

And it was that terror that put a scornful sneer on his face as he finally replied to Chakotayís question:

"I figured the Captain kicked your butt, so I got ready to leave." He drawled

Chakotay had just had one of the shittiest days of his life. Tomís smirk and insolent words were nearly enough to finally snap his self-control. A reply of such vitriolic scorn that it would have indelibly shattered Tomís fragile ego actually rolled on his tongue, the words so bitter he could almost taste them. But a fraction before he opened his mouth, he noticed that above Tomís leer, the pilotís blue eyes were blood-shot, the surrounding skin puffed and bruised looking.

Spirits, Tom had been crying, and from the ravages of his face, it hadnít just been a snivel it had been a full-blown hysterical fit.

So the voice that finally emerged from Chakotayís mouth was deliberately soft:

"Actually, Tom, I think it is safe to say that I kicked HER butt.

Like sunlight on a gloomy day, a genuine smile started to creep over Tomís face, completely transforming his features into a beauty that nearly blinded the Commander.

"I wish Iíd seen THAT" Tom chuckled with a child-like innocence.

Chakotay looked at the radiant pilot with sorrow, making a mental note to hide the vid where Tom would never find it either, Spirits forbid that he should ever hear the words Janeway had spoken about him.

"Yes" he lied "Iím sure you would have enjoyed it."

He saw the tension actually draining from the younger man as he evidently realised that Chakotay wasnít going to punish him for preparing to leave and the Commanderís heart lurched with pity.

"Unpack your bags, Tom, while I just finish a couple of jobs, weíre both tired. I think we should get some sleep." He muttered quietly, thanking the spirits for stopping his abusive tongue and then walked softly back to the living room.

As he logged into his surveillance program and tapped in a command that would hide the tape in the deepest recesses of Voyagerís systems, he heard Tom moving about in the bedroom, obeying his request and he caught a low murmur of humming.

Spirits, he realised, Tom was actually singing to himself as he unpacked.

The deep gloom in Chakotayís heart lifted at the sound and for the first time he actually believed that everything might actually turn out okay.