In Dreams, Part 7


By Britta

*
They sat together in the Ready Room, Chakotay gripping Tom's hand. He still felt unnerved and didn't care who knew it. On some level, he felt he was coming apart at the seams. If the rest of the crew had been in as bad a shape, he knew that somehow he would manage to pull himself together. But the fact was, they didn't need him in that capacity right now. Even Tom appeared to be more emotionally stable than himself.
*
Seven of Nine entered the room wearing a light blue suit, Chell by her side, uncertain of his welcome.
*
The Captain smiled at him reassuringly and said, "It's all right, Mr. Chell. Your presence is needed here right now."
*
Visibly relaxing, he sat down next to Seven as closely as he could. Trying not to be obvious with his curiosity, he managed to stare briefly at the clasped hands of the First Officer and Senior Pilot.
*
Chakotay noticed and telegraphed his thoughts outward, 'You aren't the only one.'
*

++++

*
Torres and Kim arrived, both looking agitated, though Tom suspected for different reasons. Hiding a grin at that thought, he concentrated on why they'd all been summoned here.
*
The Doctor and Neelix entered the room, the Doctor frowning mightily at Tom and Chakotay's presence. Neelix just smiled and went to sit in the corner.
*
Janeway glanced over at Tuvok and at his nod, said, "Now that we're all here, I'd like Mr. Kim to tell us what he's discovered." She waved a hand in the Ensign's direction.
*
Tom watched as Harry stood up and edged away from B'Elanna. He didn't miss the quick flick of those dark eyes landing on his and Chakotay's hands either. He knew that he would be answering pointed questions later on. But for now, he waited impatiently for Harry to explain matters.
*
Moving to a display on the wall, Harry gestured at an unremarkable area of space. "We have determined that the vague and erratic readings are emanating from somewhere near here. The only thing that I can find is a very small star system consisting of one star, one planet and no moons.
*
"There are no life forms that we can detect, but we are much farther away than usual for scans of this nature. If this is the place of origin for all of the odd events we have been experiencing, I suggest we keep our distance and send a probe to investigate it further." He looked to the Captain and at her nod of assent, sat down again.
*
"Comments, anyone?" the Captain invited.
*
Surprisingly, it was Tuvok who spoke up. "If I may, Captain?"
*
"Of course." She looked surprised, as if she should have known beforehand that he would be saying something.
*
Tuvok stood and went to the wall display. He stared at it for a moment, then turned back to face the rest of them. "Ensign Kim, will you point out in which direction this system lies?"
*
Harry gazed at Tuvok thoughtfully, nodded, then rose and pointed toward the floor a few centimeters above and beyond his right foot.
*
The Captain inquired, "May I ask what the importance of this is?"
*
Tuvok responded rather gently, Tom thought, as he explained, "I feel a psychic 'pull' if you will, coming from somewhere in that vicinity. I do not know how else to explain it."
*
Janeway stood up and demanded, "Why don't I feel it?"
*
Tuvok hesitated for a nanosecond. "I have been shielding you from its effects. However, I think it is time to check with the other Vulcans on board to see if they can sense it as well."
*
After a searching look at her Chief of Security, she nodded. "Please go with the Doctor. We will maintain present speed and heading for the time being. Inform me immediately if you find anything."
*
Tuvok acknowledged her order with a nod before he and the Doctor left.
*
She turned to face the rest of the people present. "The rest of you are dismissed. Go back to your stations. Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris, you are to stay together and repair the Commander's comm badge. Do it in your quarters." At their surprised expressions, she added dryly, "I don't care whose."
*

++++

*
The Ready Room emptied quickly and Chakotay looked down at his hand, belatedly realizing that he hadn't let go of Tom once throughout the entire meeting. He was embarrassed, yet grateful that Tom had allowed this intimacy to be continued in public.
*
His thoughts spun off on a tangent and he wondered why Paris let him get away with it. Was it because of the influence of this star system Kim had discovered? He hated the fact that external forces were to blame for everything. It made it seem like all that had occurred between Tom and himself was false; based on a lie.
*
He felt sad and angry that this appeared to be the case. Knowing Tom, in the old-fashioned biblical sense, had been wonderful. Knowing Tom in the present tense had also been very nice. But if it were caused by something from outside themselves, then it would be over all too soon. And when it was, what would he do then?
*
Go back to his solitude, retain these memories, and eventually grow old alone?
*
Without conscious thought, he brought Tom's hand to his lips and kissed it. Despair settled into his heart and closing his eyes, he sighed.
*

++++

*
Tom peered closely at his CO and saw him fraying at the edges. He felt a sense of protectiveness rise inside himself and wondered at it. Relieved that they were alone in the Ready Room, he observed from an emotional distance as Chakotay kissed his hand.
*
Mystified by the man's actions, he concentrated on recognizing what he could. Standing up, he helped Chakotay to his feet. "Come on. Let's go home."
*
Chakotay seemed to come back to his senses for a moment and nodded but did not let go of Tom.
*
Deliberately, they made their way to the First Officer's cabin. Tom had to prod Chakotay into opening the door. Once inside, he initiated a privacy lock and hauled the Commander into the bedroom.
*
Peeling back the bedspread and blankets, Tom turned to Chakotay and started to remove his uniform.
*
Blinking rapidly, Chakotay tried to stop him. "What are you doing?"
*
"I'm getting you ready for a long nap."
*
"Tom, I don't want to sleep. It's too dangerous." Chakotay grabbed Tom's hands, stilling them.
*
"You're exhausted. You need to rest. It's Doctor's orders, remember?"
*
Chakotay let go of Tom's hands. "That was a while ago. Besides, I think the Captain gave us another project, didn't she?"
*
"What?"
*
Removing his badge and putting it into Tom's hand, he replied, "Fixing this."
*
Seeing the hopeful expression on the Commander's face, Tom smiled a bit. "Let's do it together."
*
"All right. Let me get what we need."
*
Tom stopped Chakotay by saying, "No. Why don't you change clothes and let *me* get what we need. When you're comfortable, come out to the living room and join me. Okay?" He fingered the badge meaningfully and waved it under his CO's nose.
*
Conceding defeat graciously, Chakotay frowned slightly then nodded, just once.
*
Tom felt his expectations rise and smiled more widely at the look on the Commander's face. Perhaps there was hope for them after all.
*

++++

Chakotay tugged off his boots and socks then slipped out of his uniform. He stepped into a pair of casual trousers made of a light fabric. He then donned a long-sleeved shirt of similar quality. It seemed like ages had passed since he'd worn such comfortable clothing.
*
Deciding to forego footwear altogether, he could almost feel those soft, green grasses under his feet. That brought back the memory of the first time he'd encountered Tom in the green place.
*
He recalled what they had shared there, how natural it felt to lie beside him and hold him; how upsetting it was when Tom left. Now, here they were in the waking world and it seemed they hadn't really spoken much at all. He wondered if exposing his feelings would do more harm than good.
*
Sitting down on the bed, he thought hard. Remembering that someone once told him when people waste a lot of time walking around each other, not saying what they need to, they can lose it all. Just because no one wants to take the first step and be honest, time can slip by until it's too late.
*
Did he want to risk it? Could he take the chance? His judgement lately hadn't been the greatest, but what was there to lose? He stared at the floor, saw his bare toes rubbing against the carpet and chose to go for broke.
*
Just then, Tom poked his head into the bedroom. "Are you all right? I've been waiting for you to come out here for quite a while."
*
He looked up and smiled, feeling the peace that comes when one has made an irrevocable decision. "I'm fine, Tom."
*

++++

*
Tom did not believe that statement for a single moment, especially when Chakotay rose to his feet and pulled him in close for a hug.
*
"I love you," Chakotay whispered.
*
Tom heard the words but they really didn't register. He briefly sensed the loving security that was reminiscent of how he'd felt when he was dreaming and though that feeling was still yearned for, he couldn't trust it anymore--not after all that had happened.
*
Slowly, he pulled out of Chakotay's embrace and cautiously asked, "Are you trying to bamboozle me again?"
*
"Bam--what?" Chakotay stared at him, his hurt and confusion obvious.
*
"Trick me." Tom stared at his CO and wondered what the man really meant.
*
Sadness clouded the brown eyes and Chakotay backed away. So much for honesty.... "No, Tom. I'm not trying to do anything like that."
*
Tom observed the unfettered emotions play across the older man's face and he wondered if he'd been wrong in assuming the worst.
*
Chakotay faced him and inquired neutrally, "Can we fix my badge now?"
*
Tom answered hesitantly, "There's nothing to fix. I checked."
*
"Okay, so now what do we do?" Chakotay sounded as distant and impersonal as he ever had.
*
Tom watched as the other man withdrew into himself and it was frightening. The change was like someone losing their faith. He had never seen anything like it before.
*
Chakotay pushed past him and walked out into the living room. Still stunned by the older man's transformation, he followed slowly. What had he done? What had he not done?
*
Chakotay couldn't have been serious when he said that he loved him, could he?
*
Being told that he was loved was not something he was used to. The only other person on board Voyager who had ever said it thought she was dying at the time.
*
Shit. He berated himself for even thinking he could compare the two. How wrong could he be? One was pyrite and the other was pure gold. He was the fool after all.
*
Thoughts, wishes, sensations and memories assaulted him. It felt like years had gone by since he and Chakotay had made love. Was it only this morning? He turned around and headed back. Shaking his head, he sat on the edge of the bed.
*
Staring down at his feet, he watched the floor turn green...and then brown.
*

++++

*
Chakotay entered his living room and spied his badge sitting on the table with a sonic screwdriver next to it. He supposed that Tom was telling the truth about it not needing to be fixed.
*
If that was the case, then the Captain knew that he had been having an episode when she'd tried to comm him. His brain then engaged itself fully and he realized that she would have asked for a location check on him if he hadn't answered her.
*
Shaking his head at his own lack of perception, he stood next to the viewport in his living room and wondered if he was fit to exist. It seemed he couldn't do anything right lately.
*
He'd tried to bare his soul to Tom but that didn't work at all. Sighing, he decided that he should be happy that the younger man hadn't laughed in his face.
*

++++

*
Tom found himself alone in what used to be the green place where he and Chakotay had once made love. It was a dead place now, all brown and yellow with no life left in it. The landscape was sere and sad.
*
There wasn't a single tuft of grass that appeared soft and inviting. It was all straw-like. Tom walked around and looked at the trees. Where before they had seemed strong and comforting, like large protective friends, now they appeared to be dying, their leaves shriveling on the branches.
*
He walked toward what he recognized as their bed and saw the lube-plant that he'd hoped to make use of reduced to almost nothing. He reached out to touch it and it turned to dust in his hand.
*
There were the remnants of huge leaves nearby and when he looked at them they collapsed into fragments so small he couldn't tell that they were once leaves.
*
Tom felt drawn to a certain tree and approached it. Sitting at the base, he wondered why everything had changed so much. This used to be a place he looked forward to visiting, but not any more.
*
Now, all he wanted was to go home, wherever that was, and find a way not to feel guilty. Something inside him kept telling him that all this was his fault.
*

++++

*

Chakotay turned away from the stars and wondered what was taking Tom so long. Perhaps he was in the head. He walked back into his bedroom and saw Tom sitting on the bed looking supremely unhappy.
*
What was the matter now? He couldn't imagine anything else that could go wrong and yet it appeared that something had. "Tom?" Getting no response, he moved closer.
*
Suddenly, Tom blinked and shook his head. He rose to his feet and gazed around the room, his eyes lighting on Chakotay. Swiftly, he closed the distance between them and said intently, "I'm sorry I didn't believe you. I only just realized that you wouldn't play games like that with me. You meant it. You love me."
*
"Yes, I do," Chakotay confirmed.
*
Tom searched his eyes and asked, "Then why did you stop me this morning?" At Chakotay's slight frown, Tom continued, "After you blew me, when you moved my hand away from you."
*
Light dawned and he felt upset again. Still, lying never helped so he told Tom the truth, "I felt guilty."
*
"Why?" Tom's bewilderment was total.
*
"Because of what you said." He moved out into the living room and sat down on the couch.
*
Tom followed and sat beside him. "What did I say and when did I say it?"
*
Chakotay looked at the beautiful man next to him and sighed. "You said you owed it to me when I was fucking you. I didn't like it that you only let me take you because you felt obligated." He paused and stared at his hands. "I had hoped that you wanted it as much as I did."
*
Tom sat forward, his head in his hands. "I feel like such an idiot. My mouth gets me into more trouble," he muttered.
*
Chakotay looked over at Tom curiously. "What's that supposed to mean?"
*
Tom turned to sit sideways on the sofa and regarded Chakotay seriously. He rested his arm along the back of the couch and stroked Chakotay's shoulder softly. "It means that what I said didn't come out right. I'm sorry I gave you the wrong impression. Couldn't you tell how hot I was? I wanted you more than I've ever wanted anyone. I didn't care what you did to me as long as I could feel it and know it was you. I've felt a lot of loving feelings for you since this began and they haven't gone away. And now that I know what it's like when you touch me, they're even stronger."
*
Chakotay thought about this and saw the earnest expression on Tom's face. He brought his hand up to cover Tom's and asked, "So you love me too?"
*
"Yeah. I guess I do." Tom leaned forward and pulled Chakotay into a kiss. His hands moved to hold the older man tightly and he whispered against Chakotay's lips, "Let me prove it to you."
*
His breathing having roughened at the contact and the realization of what Tom had told him, Chakotay squirmed into a new position on the couch where he could feel more of Tom's body in his arms and mumbled, "How?" Then he went back to those delectable lips.
*
"Take me again and this time know that I want it as much, if not more than you do," whispered Tom.
*
Blue eyes stared into his own reflecting both honesty and lust. He nodded and rose. Silently, he helped Tom to his feet and led him to the bedroom.
*
He peeled off their clothing and paid homage to Tom's body with every part of his own. Seeing Tom writhe in his embrace, he sucked the soft skin of Tom's neck into his mouth, marking him. His lips, fingers and skin touched Tom all over, in every way they could, feeling the heat of his flesh. Long, wet kisses presaged the act of love he would bestow upon the man who claimed to want it as much as he did.
*

++++

*
Tom reeled under the intensity that Chakotay unleashed upon him. He let the older man have his way in everything and was amazed at how good it felt.
*
He was touched, teased and tasted until he quivered like a plucked bow string, his senses alive beyond that which he'd expected. The slightest breath on his skin was enough to make him moan.
*
When Chakotay finally entered him, he couldn't help but cry out in pure pleasure. After that, he couldn't think any more.
*
Eons later, sweaty and slick, both men clung to each other and waited for their hearts to calm. Breathing slowed and gripping hands relaxed as the heat around their bodies dissipated.
*
Languidly, he raised his head a bit and kissed Chakotay's tattoo. "Damn. You're good." His fingers trailed through the short, dark hair that showed a hint of gray.
*
"Mmm, so are you," came a sated voice from the mouth that was nearly latched onto his neck.
*
"Hey, don't fall asleep."
*
"Why not? You told me to rest earlier, said it was Doctor's orders."
*
Tom held onto Chakotay tightly and murmured, "You don't want to go there now."
*

++++

*
The Commander raised up onto his elbows and slipped out of Tom feeling the long legs of his lover relax and stretch out to either side of him. He looked down at Tom and kissed him with all the passion he had left over, which wasn't much, he admitted to himself.
*
Still, Tom's statement had engaged his curiosity and he asked, "Why don't I want to go there now?"
*
Tom took over in the kisses department and rolled them onto their sides. "Because I was there earlier and it wasn't a pretty place any more. Besides, we have other, more interesting things to do."
*
Confused, Chakotay inquired, "Like what?"
*
Tom smiled and called out, "Computer, time."
*
"The time is 1842 hours."
*
He kissed Chakotay again. "Like getting dinner and then going out for some fun."
*

++++

*
After they cleaned up, Chakotay allowed Tom to lead the way in their evening's activities with a minimum of fuss. He was so happy with the way things turned out and the shared feeling of rightness that he didn't even notice what they ate for dinner.
*
The mess hall was nearly empty when they arrived and it was completely deserted by the time they left. His need to know what the Captain and Tuvok had discovered paled in comparison to his enjoyment of Tom's very enthusiastic anticipation of getting all the news and gossip they needed by stopping in at the resort.
*
They walked there, hand-in-hand, replete with sexual satiation and full bellies. Smiles would not, could not, leave their faces and neither one of them cared. They had called a truce in the wars with their private feelings and both decided just to enjoy the present moments, no matter how long they lasted.
*
Entering the resort, Chakotay spied Ensign Kim sitting at a table by himself and he nudged Tom. "Your best friend is looking very lonely over there."
*
"Yeah, I see that. Why don't you go talk to the Captain and let me check on Harry. I'll catch up with you later."
*
"Promise?"
*
Tom grinned and kissed Chakotay full on the lips in front of the Captain and everybody. "Yeah. I promise."
*
Elated, Chakotay let go of Tom's hand and went over to speak with Kathryn.
*

++++

*
Approaching Harry's table, Tom looked around and wondered why B'Elanna wasn't hovering nearby. He'd half-expected to see her glued to Harry at this point.
*
"Hey, Har. What's up?" He pulled over a chair and sat down.
*
Harry looked at Tom critically and answered in a subdued voice, "Not a whole hell of a lot...with me anyway."
*
Tom signaled the bar to send over a beer for himself to match what Harry was drinking and asked, "Where's B'Elanna? I thought she'd be draped all over you by now."
*
Harry picked up his own mug and sighed dramatically. "She's stuck in Engineering. It seems the modifications we made to the sensors had some weird effects. She's trying to sort them out."
*
Tom's beer arrived and he took a hefty swallow. "I see. So what else is new?"
*
"What do you mean?" Harry was still stunned by the public kiss Tom had laid on their First Officer and it took him a minute to wrap his mind around the concept that his best friend and the ship's XO were so cozy together.
*
Tom leaned over the table toward his friend and queried, "Have you heard any good gossip? I've been out of the loop for a day or so and I'm dying of curiosity. Did you find out why the Delaney sisters have been keeping themselves to themselves?"
*
Harry drank more of his beer and stared at Tom. He shook his head, then turned his eyes to the door and spit a mouthful of beer in Tom's face.
*
At Tom's expression of shock, Harry just pointed over his shoulder.
*
Tom turned around, wiped his wet face with the back of his hand and saw a beaming Neelix waltz into the resort wearing plaid Bermuda shorts and a tank top.
*
What was even more surprising was that he was bearing a tiger-striped, bathing-suited, Delaney twin on each arm.
*

END OF PART SEVEN

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In Dreams, Part 8