Bait and Switch, Part 2


By Britta

Tom entered the Mess Hall at 0553 only to see his body sitting with Captain Janeway. To hide the shock that gave him, he went to get a cup of coffee. He blew on it before sipping and wondered what the two of them were discussing so heatedly. As he opened his mouth to take a larger swallow, his jaw gave him some grief, but not as much as he expected. Chakotay must've pulled his punch last night.
*
At 0559, Tom refilled his coffee cup and walked over to the captain's table. Chakotay rose, nodded at both the captain and himself, then left quickly. Tom was unnerved by watching his own body pick up the tray and walk away. Still, he plastered a wide smile on his new face, which had dimples that he could feel, and seeing that Janeway had not eaten yet, Tom asked, "Care to get some breakfast, Captain?"
*
She looked at him and nodded. "That sounds like a good idea."
*
He escorted her to the serving area and used his most obsequious manners while they filled their trays. Once back at her table, he sat down to her right, smiled again, and said, "I trust you slept well?"
*
"No. I didn't." She kept her voice low, pitched for his ears only. "Let me ask you something."
*
Tom turned up the charm and replied softly, "Sure, Captain, anything you want." He reached for his coffee, but she stayed his hand.
*
"What do you think Chakotay's position entails?"
*
He frowned briefly, and wondered what she wanted to hear. Stalling for time, he took a huge bite of his toast and chewed for a moment. "What do you mean exactly?" He needed to stay on her good side if he had any chance of convincing her to let him work a different shift. Not knowing how he was going to pull off this charade if he had to face Chakotay, Harry, and B'Elanna on a daily basis, he wanted to put as much distance between them and himself as possible.
*
Janeway sipped from her coffee cup placidly, then explained, "I want to know what you think he does all the time."
*
Tom washed down the last of his toast with more coffee and replied, "Other than in battle situations, I guess Chakotay deals with things like schedules, reports on fuel consumption and other boring statistics. Oh, and sometimes he counsels people."
*
The captain peered at him as if gauging his seriousness and said, "Yes. He does all those things. But, he also does more, much more." At his puzzled expression, she went on, "He keeps the peace, Tom. People go to him for...many reasons. He was a seasoned Starfleet officer before he became a captain in his own right with the Maquis. Politics aside, that means a lot, and the entire crew respects him and trusts his judgement." She paused dramatically, "If you do anything to tarnish his reputation over the next week, I will have your guts for garters. Do I make myself clear?"
*
Tom choked on his swig of coffee and Janeway pounded him on the back, though the whole time, her steely gaze never left his face.
*
"Yes, ma'am," he managed to spit out.
*
"It's good you understand that, Tom. Now we can discuss the issues that Chakotay brought to my attention earlier this morning." She settled back into her chair and took another sip of her coffee.
*
Tom reached for his own cup again and thought that Chakotay's shoes might be bigger than he thought.

<><><><>

Chakotay swore he had decontaminated every single piece of equipment in Sickbay, including all the tricorders that had been sent down to the planet when they were first checking it out for safety. He sighed as he moved on to the latest task the doctor had assigned--more scut work--and tried to shake off the sense that he was being treated like a child again.
*
Why was he only given clean-up duty? Sure, he wasn't up on the very latest techniques that the Doc had been teaching Paris, but he still knew his way around a cortical stimulator.
*
He sat at the medical station terminal and filed the results of a stack of padds. Gods, were these the types of tasks Tom had to perform when he spent time here? If so, he grudgingly admitted that Tom had a right to be bored. No wonder he avoided this duty as much as he could. Still, the mindlessness of it all gave him time to think about things.
*
Chakotay had gotten up very early in the morning to make it clear to the captain that there were some aspects of his job that he wouldn't let Tom Paris touch with a ten-foot pole. The people he counseled confidentially would not be allowed to speak with Tom. He'd also asked for an hour's time on the holodeck to run flight sims just so he could fine-tune his movements using this new body.
*
The captain had agreed to both his demands, and Chakotay had spent his morning on the Bridge, comfortable at the helm. Paris, on the other hand, had fidgeted himself into the captain's Ready Room in the first twenty minutes. Chakotay suspected that Tom had ingested more caffeine than his body was used to taking. He chuckled at the thought.
*
Now it was well past lunch time, and he figured he'd spend the rest of his shift in a near meditative state. Just then, the door opened and Tom slowly entered Sickbay.
*
"Where's the Doc?" Tom asked in a somewhat subdued tone.
*
"Out on a house call." Chakotay frowned. He still didn't feel comfortable seeing himself and couldn't accurately read his own voice. Relying on his ability to do what needed to be done, he grabbed a tricorder and stared at it while scanning Tom. "What's bothering you?" he asked. The scan had shown nothing life-threatening, and for that, Chakotay was grateful.
*
Suddenly, Tom belched loudly, startling Chakotay. He looked up and watched as Tom rushed into the nearest bathroom. Setting the tricorder aside, he heard retching noises and figured Tom was paying the piper for last night's booze-fest. Serves him right, he thought. But then he realized this was a little late in the day for Tom to be making the trip to Barf City.
*
He grabbed the tricorder again and entered the bathroom. Tom had just finished losing his lunch and was still kneeling, paying homage to the aluminum god. Chakotay scanned him again, saw nothing dangerous, and decided to play the role of ministering angel. After all, it was his body that was hurting.
*
Helping Tom to his feet, Chakotay steered him out to the main room and said, "Lie down for a minute."
*
Tom plopped onto a biobed and tried to glare at him, but looked too miserable to pull it off.
*
Chakotay retrieved a cool, wet cloth and a glass of water. As he cleaned off his own face, and shuddered as he did so, he asked, "What was the last thing you ate?"
*
Sitting up part way, Tom downed the water quickly. Then he thrust the glass back at Chakotay, and replied, "A double-bacon cheeseburger and fries."
*
Stunned for a moment, Chakotay set the glass aside, then went and tossed the cloth into the nearest 'fresher. When he returned, he took one long look at his body, and for the first time managed to separate himself from what he saw. Then he began to laugh.

<><><><>

Still feeling like shit, Tom was further disturbed by watching his body go into hysterics. What the hell was wrong with Chakotay? He eased off the biobed and warily approached the laughing man. Gripping the nearest shoulder, he asked, "What's so funny?"
*
Chakotay just looked at him and started laughing again.
*
Tom began to worry. As much as he had mixed feelings about seeing his own body when he wasn't inside it, he still felt obligated to find out what that body was going through. Pulling Chakotay into an upright stance, he forcibly felt the pulse points which would tell him whether or not he needed to grab a tricorder.
*
His hands were batted away and Chakotay calmed down long enough to say, "I'm not surprised you got sick to your stomach."
*
"Why not?" Tom demanded.
*
Heaving a last sigh and smiling the patented Paris smile of smugness, Chakotay replied, "I'm a vegetarian, Tom. It's no wonder that greasy meal you ate disagreed with my stomach."
*
He looked disgusted and Chakotay stopped smiling. Tom let go of his own shoulders and walked away. He hated this. Without facing himself again, he asked, "Am I free to go?"
*
"Yes, of course--but, Tom?"
*
"What!" he snapped.
*
With a hint of suppressed mirth, Chakotay said, "We really do need to discuss things."
*
"Yeah, yeah, I know. I'll drop by after shift." With that pronouncement, Tom strode out of Sickbay and headed for Chakotay's office, determined to find his equilibrium once more.

<><><><>

Chakotay's work day ended easily once the Doctor pronounced his tasks satisfactorily performed. With the Doctor's promise of 'more interesting things to do tomorrow' ringing in his ears, he went back to Tom's cabin.
*
Intent on getting something to eat and having a private chat with the captain, he didn't notice the odd looks he got from the few members of the crew that he passed, that is, until Ensign Kim accosted him, and said, "Beware, Tom, B'Elanna's gunning for you. I'd go hide out some place safe until she calms down."
*
Before Chakotay could ask for clarification, the young man was gone. Shrugging and wondering what Harry was talking about, Chakotay let himself into Tom's quarters. He headed for the shower and thought about his day.
*
As he undressed, he realized that he'd learned more than he expected, even if they weren't the things the captain had in mind. He stepped into the shower and thought back to how miserable Tom had been after stuffing himself with dead meat. His fingers, full of shampoo, encountered a lot less hair than they were used to, and that startled him.
*
He washed the body he was in with more care than usual due to the fact that it seemed more delicate for some reason. He tried to remind himself that he'd have to perform at least two purifying rituals for his own body once he was back inside it, but, the hairs on Tom's chest kept distracting him. Gods, the man's body was so different from his own! Hair here and not there....
*
Rinsing off, he thought that he'd better spend some extra time in meditation so he could deal with all his mixed up emotional reactions. It wouldn't do for him to get too used to being in Tom's body either. As it was, he practically had to shower with his eyes closed because he just couldn't handle the paleness of the skin he kept seeing. Even looking in the mirror was hard. The term, 'paleface', reverberated through his mind in a juvenile and endless loop.
*
Chakotay stepped out of the shower, grabbed a towel, and dried his face. When he opened his eyes, he was shocked to find Torres standing in the doorway staring at him. Oh shit, how was he going to deal with this?

<><><><>

Hungry, and sick to death of reading shore leave reports from the crew that had been allowed to go down to the planet, Tom stomped around Chakotay's quarters. It was all so much bullshit, he thought. Prevented from doing anything that would impinge on another's privacy, he was stuck with everything else. And that, so far, had been boring as hell.
*
He was also pissed off that Chakotay's body couldn't seem to handle the food he wanted to eat; not to mention the man couldn't hold his liquor. Fuck. Being in this body wasn't much fun after all. And what was even worse was the fact that the only time people talked to him was when they wanted advice about something.
*
Well, maybe that's because he had been on duty at the time. It might be different now that their shift was over. Tom sighed and went rummaging through Chakotay's closet for something interesting to wear. If he had to speak with the man, and he did, at least he could show him a thing or two about sartorial splendor. God, there had to be some way to get back at him for that punch last night.
*
Tom shoved the few pieces of clothing back and forth, and thought it was hopeless. He'd have to replicate something snazzy. Then, he caught a glimpse of something shoved way back in the corner. Tugging it out, he whistled. It was an off-white suit: beautifully cut, but plain--all the better to show off Chakotay's natural assets.
*
He took a quick shower and put it on, not lingering too long in front of the mirror. Then he headed off to his own quarters ready to do battle with 'himself'.

<><><><>

Instinctively, Chakotay dropped the towel to his groin and turned, then wrapped it around his waist. When he had retrieved his presence of mind, he said, "B'Elanna, this is a surprise. I thought you'd be down on the planet for the next few days."
*
As he walked past her into the small bedroom, she stated, "I'll just bet you did."
*
Searching for a robe of some kind, he tried to act casual and asked, "So how did everything go down there?"
*
She moved closer to him and peered at him uncertainly. "It was fine. I need to go back for a day or two to supervise the shuttle repairs we're making."
*
Chakotay couldn't find anything resembling a robe in Tom's bedroom. The place was such a disaster area, he just wanted to get out of it. Making his way toward the living room, he glanced around nervously and said, "I'm glad things are going well."
*
B'Elanna suddenly blocked his way out and gripped his shoulders hard. She pulled him close and kissed him. Trying not to give the truth away, Chakotay allowed it, though he didn't return it with any more vigor than if he were forced to kiss one of his sisters. His hands stayed at his sides and kept the towel firmly in place.
*
She stepped back for a moment and glared at him, then said, "So it's true."
*
"What?" he asked.
*
"You and Chakotay."
*
He gripped the towel even more tightly and stood as tall as he could. "What about...him?" Gods, he couldn't even say his own name. "What do you mean?"
*
She stood there as solidly as a block of granite and rapped out, "You must have gotten what you've always wanted. I heard about the two of you walking through the halls late last night. You were all over Chakotay like a cheap suit!"
*
As his mind went into null-grav mode, she moved away from him, and he tried to explain, "B'Elanna! Nothing happened! I swear it. You can...ask the commander. He wouldn't lie to you."
*
The truth in his last statement must've gotten through to her because she turned and put her arms around him.
*
Just then, the door opened, and Tom, wearing Chakotay's body, now clad in a very sexy outfit, walked into the room.
*
B'Elanna's head whipped around, Tom stopped dead in his tracks, and Chakotay wished he was wearing more than a towel.

END OF PART 2

Comments? Suggestions?
E-mail me at Britta

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Bait and Switch, Part 3