(Sequel to " Revenge ")
Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al belong to Paramount. I am only playing with them and promise to put them back relatively unscathed
Chakotay had disappeared from the bridge mid-morning, muttering about crew performance reports and had still not returned at 1300 when Tomís lunch break was scheduled. Tom felt a little nervous going to the mess hall alone, he still hadnít reconciled himself with his new status as Chakotayís, as Chakotayís Ė well whatever the hell he was now.
Neelix pointedly ignored him as he filled his tray. He scanned the room for an empty seat but to his dismay, the only free chairs were on BíElannaís table. Wishing he had eaten more breakfast instead, Tom reluctantly carried his lunch to her table and gingerly sat down.
BíElanna looked up from the data-padd she was perusing and did a double take.
"Chakotay not holding your hand today, Tom?" she spat nastily
Tom blushed furiously and played with his food, suddenly not feeling hungry after all.
"Heís um, um, busy" He muttered
"Thatís surprising. I wouldnít have thought heíd let you out of his sight. You hardly have a reputation for faithfulness."
"He trusts me" Tom replied furiously, actually surprising himself with the fact that the words were apparently true.
BíElanna grinned nastily, "You wearing a chastity harness then?" she sniggered
Tom blushed and felt tears welling in his eyes at her scorn.
Noticing his distress, BíElanna was genuinely shocked, she had only been ribbing him after all.
"Iím sorry, Tom" She said gently "I didnít mean to hurt you, you never struck me as the sensitive type."
Tom looked at her in bewilderment; this was a side of BíElanna he had never seen before.
"What do you mean?" he queried
"Well youíve spent the last five years walking around saying ĎIím a doormat, wipe your feet on meí"
Tom digested her words slowly.
"So you thought I wanted to be treated that way?"
"Why wouldnít I? You were always so obnoxiously smug about the way you could make people want you. Like me, I mean I was so lonely, and no one wanted anything to do with me, they were all too scared of my temper and put off by my looks. I HATED having to share you with the rest, but you were all I had."
"Iím sorry BíEl." Tom murmured, taking one of her hands in his own and rubbing it softly
"I didnít know that you were looking for someone special too." BíElanna sighed, "What a stupid mixed up pair of fools we both have been."
"Yeah." Tom agreed as he looked back over the last five years with regret
"So is Chakotay the one?" BíElanna asked with a brave smile, trying to be happy for Tom
"Well he hasnít bitten me on the bum yet." Tom joked gently
BíElanna coloured furiously but then realised that Tom wasnít mocking her
"Sorry about that, Tom. My temper gets the better of me sometimes. When I feel angry I lose all control"
"Funny, fear does that to me." Tom confessed.
"Yeah, to be honest BíEl, most people scare the crap out of me."
"You hide it well."
"Yeah." And they both laughed together, in the gentle way of true friends.
"So, you didnít answer my question." BíElanna said eventually
Tom flushed and took a mouthful of unidentifiable food and chewed it slowly as he considered his answer.
"I donít know, BíEl, he doesnít Ė doesnít seem to WANT anything from me. I donít know how to deal with it. I want to believe him, I really do, but I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. No one can be as nice as he is, it just isnít possible. Everyone uses everyone. Thatís life."
"I know what you mean, Tom. Everyone shits on everyone. On the other hand Iíve known Chakotay since the Maquis and I have never known him to lie or deal with someone dishonestly. I have also never seen him look at ANYONE the way he looks at you."
"Really?" Tom asked with such pathetic longing that BíElanna forgot every urge she had ever had to jump Tomís bones and felt an insane urge to mother him instead.
"Really, Tom." She said softly, "He looks at you as though the sun rises and sets in your as- eyes" she amended quickly, deciding the original crude image would quite ruin the effect.
Tom blushed happily, catching her original intent but finding it rather apt.
He squeezed her hand gratefully.
"Mind if I sit down?" Chakotayís soft voice said at his shoulder and Tom jumped guiltily, letting go of BíElannaís hand as though it burnt him.
Tom ducked his head and fiddled desperately with his food, unaware that Chakotay had heard most of the previous conversation and was actually almost bursting with happiness.
Gently Chakotay took Tomís face in his hands, turned it towards him and planted a gentle kiss on his mouth, right in the middle of the mess hall.
Ecstatic at Chakotayís understanding Tom threw his arms around the older man and kissed him back passionately, snaking his tongue between Chakotayís lips and burrowing in for the kill.
For a moment Chakotay relaxed into Tomís assault and then he gently pushed Tom away.
"Eat your lunch, honey, not me." He laughed gently and was rewarded by Tomís sheepish grin.
BíElanna watched them miserably; unmistakable passion sparked off the pair and made her feel quite sad. Then again, if Tom could find someone, surely she could too. The thought cheered her immensely and she managed to give them both an understanding grin as they detached themselves and attacked their plates instead.
After they had eaten Chakotay turned to Tom.
"Iím going to be in my office all afternoon and probably late into the evening. If you like I can grab a quick snack at tea time or if you prefer, we can eat late in our quarters."
"Well, I might have plans later." Tom said, testing.
"Sure, honey, whatever you like" Chakotay replied gently.
Tom glowed with happiness. He looked up and BíElanna caught his eyes and gave him a wink.
"I um Ė I guess I could wait for you." Tom mumbled
"Thanks, honey. See you later, Tom. Bye, BíElanna" Chakotay said smoothly and rising to his feet left the pair alone.
It took all of his self-control to keep his stoic expression as he walked to his office.
Tom watched him go with a stunned expression. BíElanna laughed gently.
"He does seem to trust you, Tom" she conceded happily
"Yeah" Tom murmured in bewilderment
"So what are you making for dinner?"
"Well, it certainly sounded to me like Chakotay is looking forwards to a late dinner with you, so I think the least you could do is make something nice for your date."
"Thatís what itís called, Tom."
"Iíve never had a date" Tom whispered nervously
BíElanna looked at him sadly. "Me neither" she confessed "but I sure can recognise one, and Chakotay was definitely asking you for a date."
"So what should I do?"
"Nice food, candles, music, flowers, that kind of thing, I think." She said hesitantly
Tom looked at her nervously. "Are you sure heíll like it?"
"I know heíll appreciate the effort." BíElanna replied confidently
Tom remembered the way Chakotay had been so pleased with the way he had prepared breakfast and decided BíElanna was right.
"Iíve gotta go" Tom said, realising his lunchbreak was almost over "But thanks, BíElanna and Iím sorry we never talked before."
"I guess I was too busy biting your bum." BíElanna laughed, standing up to leave too. She thrust her hand out and Tom reached out hesitantly and shook it.
"Friends?" BíElanna asked
"Friends" Tom agreed and gave a sunny smile that took her breath away.
As she hurried back to engineering she decided that Chakotay was a very lucky man indeed.
Chakotay spent longer on his reports than he had anticipated, primarily because of his distractions the night before and he was determined not to ruin the evening ahead by taking work home again.
He hoped that Tom would be satisfied with a quiet evening in, although he was prepared to go to Sandrines again if that was what the younger man wanted. He knew that Tom was used to a hectic lifestyle and would probably hate the idea of just relaxing and listening to music with him.
He gave Tom a quick call to confirm that he was on his way, and pushed himself back from his desk. Tom had sounded rather nervous, perhaps he was already itching to be out and about. Chakotay could just imagine the way Tom was probably pacing up and down the confines of their quarters like a caged tiger.
Shit, maybe he was too old for Tom, after all.
He started towards the door, suddenly assailed by doubts. Just because he loved Tom and wanted to save him from himself was no reason to expect that Tom would automatically feel the same. Perhaps Tom was only reacting to him out of gratitude. He had seen the way Tom and BíElanna were interacting at lunchtime. Under her tough exterior, BíElanna was as lonely as Tom and a lot nearer Tomís own age.
But then again, she hadnít seen the pearl in the oyster until HE had revealed it. Why the hell should he give up a treasure like Tom Paris, as long as he could make Tom happy? And he would, whatever it took, he would make Tom the happiest man alive because that was the way that Tom made HIM feel.
He hesitated at the replicator, impulse warring with embarrassment and then squaring his shoulders he ordered a bottle of wine and a huge bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, ruefully noting his rapidly depleting account.
Then he headed for the turbolift; completely impervious to the smirks of the crewmembers he passed.
Let them laugh, he decided, Tom was worth it.
Tom shifted nervously on his seat. Hesitated and then jumped up to rearrange the table yet again. He had been reasonably content with the arrangements until Chakotay had commed him to say he was on his way and then doubt had hit him like a dark choking cloud.
Bitterly he wished he had never listened to BíElanna. Chakotay would step through the door, see the fancy table and would no doubt laugh in his face. He was Chakotayís whore, he reminded himself, not his bloody boyfriend. The fact that Chakotay hadnít actually made use of him yet didnít change the facts.
And yet, Chakotay hadnít ever treated him like a whore at all, either by word or action. Chakotay had been at pains all along to make him accept that there would be more than sex to their relationship. Suddenly he was GLAD he had done this. Chakotayís reaction would prove to him one way or the other what the older man REALLY thought of him.
So when the door whooshed open, he jumped to his feet, shuffling nervously from foot to foot, but bravely deciding to face Chakotayís reaction head on.
Chakotay hesitated in the doorway, gathering his nerve and then stepped forwards bravely, brandishing the roses like a sword.
Tom felt his knees go weak at the sight of the Commander, who was bearing roses and wine like a romantic character from a holo-vid. The big man froze in shock and then a warm smile transformed his features. Tomís heart began to pound furiously in his chest and a slow relieved smile crept over his features.
Chakotay froze, his heart pounding as he saw the beautifully laid table with its romantic candles and he heard the soft music playing in the background. Tom was stood in front of his handiwork, his eyes wide with obvious terror of Chakotayís reaction. His own relief must have shown because slowly the terror faded out of Tomís eyes and a matching smile spread across his face.
"Snap" he said with a grin and his heart lifted as Tom began to laugh.
"Snap?" Tom asked incredulously "Where the hell did you get that term from?"
Chakotay blushed, "Well, I used to play a lot of cards in the academy."
"Cards, Pool, you were quite a secret raver in your day, werenít you?" Tom grinned
"I had my moments, Tom, in fact, now and then, I still do." Chakotay winked and handed Tom the roses.
Tom breathed in their heady scent and looked at Chakotay with sparkling eyes.
Tom swallowed nervously before he asked the question that was hovering on his lips
"So Ė um Ė so, this IS a date? Right?" he mumbled quietly
Chakotay stared lovingly at the younger man who was such a strange mix of childlike innocence and streetwise mischief.
"Yes, Tom" he replied with kind patience, "It IS a date, our first REAL date."
Tom hugged himself happily.
"So does that mean we can finally have sex?" he asked excitedly
Chakotay found himself torn between laughter and exasperation.
"No, Tom" he explained patiently "No one has sex on a first date, only a kiss."
"Oh" Tom said dejectedly, then he brightened again "How about on the second date?"
"Probably not for several dates, Tom, if you want to do the thing properly." Chakotay replied "You DO want to do this properly, donít you?"
Tom bit his lower lip pensively as he considered Chakotayís words. He had no experiences to compare the older manís words with and could only trust that Chakotay was telling him the truth.
"So weíd be like boyfriends? Right?" he asked hesitantly
Chakotay smiled at the quaint expression
"Thatís right, Tom."
"But we wouldnít have sex."
"Thatís right, Tom."
Tom paused to digest the idea.
"Can we still kiss?" he asked hopefully
"Sure we can, and hug, and cuddle and do lots of things." Chakotay replied with a grin
Slowly Tom returned the grin.
"I like the idea of being your boyfriend, Chak" he admitted bashfully "But I still think the sex thing is a bugger" he muttered under his breath.
"Sometimes things are worth waiting for, Tom. Precious things. Things like you." Chakotay replied, sweeping Tom into a reassuring hug.
As he was folded inside Chakotayís strong embrace, the word "precious" resounded through his head like a promise.
"I really like you Chakotay" he muttered into Chakotayís neck
And understanding that for Tom the word meant so very much, Chakotay carefully replied "I LIKE you too, Tom".