Shuttle Trip, Day 12


"TELL ME WHAT TO DO"

By Tommyhawk1@AOL.COM
Artwork (c) 2002 by Eduardo. All Rights Reserved.

Illustration of The Long Shuttle Trip, #12

Paris woke up the next morning fumbling with his hand to find Chakotay, and instead met the shield with a loud clonging sound. That's when he remembered where he was, and why. "Shit!" he said again. Wondered what time it was. It took him a moment to remember he was wearing his uniform and he checked the small chronometer inset on the left cuff. 0750. He had a chance to fight his clothing into a semblance of order and to order his thoughts as well.

He had to get along with Chakotay, despite what had happened. It hadn't been any easier for him back in the early days, when Chakotay and the Maquis all looked on him as a traitor and a scoundrel. He had survived that, he could survive this. His Starfleet training was going to stand him in good stead.

He got up and opened the shield, surprised to find it would open at all (Chakotay could have locked it down, and he had told Chakotay to do as much) and stepped up, feeling grimy, and looked out the front viewscreen at Voyager. Chakotay was in the act of approaching Voyager, to circle it and thus enter the shuttle bay doors on the rear of the large saucer section. Paris ran his fingers through his hair, looked at the broad back sitting stiffly, and decided to get it over with. With a brisk, professional air, he strode over and sat down in the other chair. "Good morning, Commander." he said formally.

"Good morning."

"Shall I take the shuttle in?"

"Yes, please."

"Taking controls now." Paris activated the changeover relay and guided the shuttle around Voyager on a precise course. He usually would do a few stunts, rolls, and such, and knew that there would be crewmen on the ship watching out the multitude portals to see what tricks the bad-boy lieutenant would try this time. Instead he brought it in on a course so carefully accurate to specs that his run could be used for future texts on the subject. He guided it to the shuttle and said, "Paris to Voyager."

"Voyager here. Hi, Tom!" Kim's cheerful voice said.

"Returning from scheduled mission. Permission to dock."

"Granted." Kim said. "Welcome back, shuttle."

"Thank you, Voyager. Shuttle out."

Paris cut the comm and gave the shuttle its final nudge towards Voyager.

"Tom?" came Chakotay's tentative voice.

"One moment, please, Commander." Paris said stiffly. "Wait for me to bring the shuttle in for landing. It's dangerous to distract a pilot in a landing operation."

"Tom, I behaved very badly yesterday." Chakotay said quietly. "You're right to be angry with me."

Paris slapped the automatic landing sequencer and let Voyager's computer bring in the shuttle, looked over with hopeful eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Robert earlier. But I didn't recognize his name at first and then, well, you seemed to be so hurt by him that I didn't want to be the one to tell you he was still alive. Then I was stuck with the lie, sort of. When he showed up at the other end of the wormhole, that's when I should have told you."

"No." Chakotay said. "You were right. I wasn't ready to hear it."

Paris reached over to take Chakotay's hand and it was hastily withdrawn. Paris looked over, puzzled. "What's wrong?"

"Tom, I...I'm sorry." Chakotay said. "Remember when you told me never to touch you if I couldn't look at you without seeing Robert. Well, I'm afraid that now the two of you are more mixed in my mind than ever. I can't look at you without seeing Robert's face in that last message. I'm sorry, Tom. It's over. It's been a wonderful time and I enjoyed it, and I'll be grateful to you forever, but I just can't bring myself to touch you."

"I see." Paris said. "It's really over, then."

"Yes."

"All right." Paris said, heaved a sigh, managed a smile. "It was a good vacation, wasn't it?"

"The very best."

"I guess I'll have to settle for that."

And the shuttle had landed and the door in back, bearing the bed which folded into the wall at long last, rose up to show them their home vessel once again.

Paris stepped out and looked around. Megan should have been there. She wasn't. But Kim was, looking worried. "Hey, Harry!" he said and grinned and hitched up his jumpbag. Kim was surprised when Paris' arms went around him.

"Tom!" he said, surprised.

Paris ignored him, hugged him hard. He felt good, almost as good as... "Nice to see you, Harry." he said.

"Tom, what's wrong?"

"Wrong?" Paris forced a smile. "Nothing's wrong. Remember the promise I made to you a few days ago?"

It took Kim a moment, then he said, "Oh, you mean that if you and...."

"Right!" Paris said. "How about tonight for the candlelight dinner?"

"Oh! Uh, uh, sure, but I have to work the evening shift in Engineering. But I'm free until then!" he pointed out hastily.

"What's my schedule?"

"You're still officially off-duty." Kim said. "Report to the bridge at 0800 tomorrow."

"Well, twenty-four hours of leisure time." Paris watched as Chakotay left. "Why don't we skip the candles and just go right to your room, okay?"

Kim blushed. "Sure, Tom. Sure!" he said, his face suddenly lighting up as comprehension settled in.

Paris followed him out the shuttle bay doors. The old rule of horseback riding--when you got thrown, you climbed right back on.

Or on a new horse, if the old one wasn't available any more.

Paris walked with his arm around Kim's shoulders for the long trip to Kim's quarters. Let absolutely everyone see him like this. If Chakotay wanted it to be over, let the gossips broadcast that fact, and the sooner the better!

Kim's quarters were cramped but adequate. Paris threw his jumpbag at the sole chair it boasted and said, "First off, my friend, I want a regular bath, an actual tub with actual soap and water. Care to join me in it?"

"Uh, sure." Kim said, suddenly bashful.

"Hey." Paris stepped up and ran his hands over Kim's chest. "Don't worry. I don't bite. Well, not very hard."

Kim licked his lips and trembled. He wants me, bad, Paris thought. He wants me. The very thought of that felt really good, right now.

He took Kim in his arms and met those lips with his own. Kissed and let the tentative tongue enter his mouth and when it started to dart back, he grabbed it and sucked it in deeply. His arms roamed over Kim's back, stroking it, thrilling the area of desire--no, wrong person. Well, it still worked well enough. Kim was doing the same for him, and it felt pretty damned good. Chakotay would have stroked harder though, and made wider strokes, but...enough of that! Love the one you're with!

Kim's mouth left his and reached for his neck and Paris enjoyed the moist movements over his neck and gentle kisses that it received.

He found the clotures on Kim's jacket after remembering that they were over to one side for an ensign's clothing, instead of midway as for lieutenants and higher ranks. A small perk of command. He fought them open (that side arrangement made it harder to do in close quarters, he had to pull away from Kim to really grab it. Pulled open the jacket and ran his hands under the t- shirt beneath to the soft skin that thrilled under his touch.

"Oh, God, Tom." Kim breathed as Paris pushed the t-shirt higher to grasp the firm, taut nipples waiting there. "Oh, oh!"

"Just a preview." Paris smiled. "I do want a bath before we go much further. I haven't felt really clean for weeks now. Hope you don't mind."

"No, of course not." Kim stepped back and ended the session. "Let's get you cleaned up."

"I'll need help with my back. And maybe some other parts of my body. So strip down, Harry, and get ready for action." Paris said as he opened his own clothing. Perched on the chair to remove his boots, and he and Harry's feet collided as they both removed their boots and socks. The room really was too small for a second person inside, Paris thought to himself. Ensigns tend to do their socializing outside their quarters. No matter, it was adequate and he managed well enough. Finally, nude before Kim, who was fighting with his underwear (he wore a skintight version with legs that went to almost his knees, but he made a stooping movement and fought them off from his body.

He straightened up and Paris checked out his equipment. Kim's body was the same color as his face, that odd shade of brown erroneously called yellow. Kim was no more yellow than he was white! Their skin was nearly the same shade, actually. Kim's penis was pointing at him, and Paris smiled at it, so eager to begin. He grabbed it and skinned it back, gave it a few friendly strokes. "Just a preview." he teased again. "Let's get in that bath."

Kim went in first and Paris saw, startled for a moment at the second door into the bathroom. It took him a moment to remember that Ensigns had to share their bath facilities. Paris remembered he shared with Ensign Ayala and looked around the bathroom, wondering which items were Kim's and which were Ayala's, and how they remembered themselves. Well, a person remembers their own toothbrush, and Kim and Ayala seemed to be friendly about sharing the space. He'd fought tooth-and-nail with the other ensigns during his own days, they kept borrowing the expensive colognes he used or messing up the place. But Kim's bath was nicely spotless.

Kim reached for the water spigot, then said, "Uh, Tom, I don't have enough rations for a bath right now."

"Sure." Paris reached over and keyed in his own ration code. He couldn't really spare it himself with another three days to ration time, but what the heck. He could eat Neelix's cooking well enough after the last few days of indulgences, and this was something he'd looked forward to from the first day of the shuttle trip. "Run it deep, but remember that two will be climbing in."

"Sure." Kim leaned over to rest one knee on the tub's edge while he adjusted the water flow and Paris checked out the taut buttocks. Kim's cheeks were small and rather indented, not like Chakotay's amply rounded orbs. Wonder if it feels bony slapping against your legs when you fuck him, Paris thought. Well, he'd get to find out. He reached over and stroked Kim's butt with a proprietary fondness. Kim groaned and, mission accomplished, he stood up and turned around to take Paris in his arms. About time Harry showed some initiative, Paris thought as he kissed back.

Kim's hand found Paris' erection jutting past one of his thighs and he grabbed it and stroked it hard, too hard! "Oh, oh!" Paris said, trying to make it erotic, but pulling away, too. "Patience, Harry. You'll get it soon enough."

"Oh, God, Tom, I'm about to explode already." Kim's chest heaved. "I've wanted you for so damned long."

"I'm sorry I didn't realize that before." Paris said. "I wouldn't have been so quick to take your rations at pool."

"I didn't mind losing that much." Kim admitted. "As long as I got to be next to you."

Paris kissed him some more and when Kim went back to kissing his neck, he saw the water level rising and started to say something.

That's when Kim went in for his neck and Paris felt a moment of pain and a loud "pop". Oh, God, he gave me a hickey! He groaned to himself. I just hope it's low enough that I can hide it with my collar until I can get to a regenerator. He made himself smile.

"Boy, that really shows up on you." Kim said wonderingly. "I shouldn't have done it so hard."

"It's all right." Paris said. "I'll survive. Time to hit the water."

Bathing was a fun set of fumbles, squeezing the two of them into the water at once. Paris made Kim take the back position and sat between his legs, holding him to his vaunted chore of washing Paris' back. Kim actually took away the rag immediately and gave Paris a good washing over most of his body while Paris took care of the shampoo and his hair. It felt fine, sharing the tub with Harry. Nice and friendly and without any of the pressures he had felt with....

"Say, Harry, you missed a spot!" he said.

"Where?"

"Right back there!" he reached behind and low as if to point to his back, but instead found Kim's cock and grabbed it. "Lather that sucker up good for me. I don't suck on dirty ones!"

"Okay." Kim said and did so.

God, he took it seriously! Paris groaned to himself. He'd forgotten he had to stick to the more obvious jokes with Kim. Kim wasn't dense, just so afraid of treating a serious comment as a joke that he treated the jokes seriously instead. That had thrown him early on in their friendship, Kim's apparent naivete and lack of humor.

"Time for the rinse cycle." He said after a moment. Kim played the rag over his body, dipping it time and again. He really made a nice bath-mate. "Mmm, I'm going to have to ask you to do this all the time, Ensign." He said. "Remind me to get your duty roster modified for this."

"Sounds good to me." Kim agreed. "Ready to get out?"

"Sure." Paris stood up and Kim took his towel and dried Paris' body for him. Done, Paris returned the favor (when had Kim washed his own body? He hadn't noticed any lapses in the cleaning. Hmm....) and when both their bodies were clean and dry, he said, "Time for the main event, my best friend."

"Yeah." Kim grinned and Paris found himself matching that grin. This wasn't going to be so bad after all.

He followed Kim back to the bedroom and watched Kim crawl into bed, lie on his back and look up to Paris, beckoning with his body, arms reached up in welcome. "This is the best kind of homecoming." he said as he lay down in Kim's arms.

Kim's lips found his as Kim's legs wrapped around his body. Paris felt his passion rising inside him and he kissed Kim hard, jabbing his tongue into Kim's mouth like it was his cock, while his hands reached down and felt for Kim's buttocks. Damn, they were bony! He missed the warm handfuls of.... He positioned his body and touched the head of his cock to Kim's butthole.

"Oh!" Kim gasped as he felt the pressure. "Wait, I got lube!"

"Hand it over!" Paris growled. "And hurry up." He wanted an animal rut again, to maul Kim's lithe body with every stroke. He hurriedly took the ampule Kim proffered and broke it over his cock, rubbed in the liquid that foamed into a rich lather. He and Chakotay had made do with a simple oil, this was high-tech lube that would cling to his cock while smoothing the path for him, yet not hindering the natural movements of his foreskin as he fucked Kim. Hmph! Chakotay hadn't needed such babying in making love. Chakotay would....

He shoved hard into Kim and Kim grunted, "Oof!"

"Quiet!" Paris snarled and began to hunch hard at Kim, who watched him half-frightened eyes. He had never shown Kim this part of him, and the realization that he was frightening his best friend hampered and slowed him. He changed to slower, more loving thrusts, combining them with gentle kisses and strokes with his hands, and Kim heaved a visible sigh of relief and let Paris stroke him.

Paris forced himself to go slowly, and was startled when Kim reached up and said, "Hold on a minute."

"Huh?"

Kim rolled them both over and said, "I'll take over for a while, Tom." Kim bounced up and down on Paris' cock and Paris reached and took Kim's cock and pounded it for him. This was nice, but it wasn't what he had wanted, either. He gave it a few minutes, beginning to lose his erection, then he reached up and pulled Kim down and kissed him hard while rolling him back to the bottom position. "Time for the finish." he grunted

"Uh, oh, Tom!" Kim said as Paris began again the hard-and-fast thrusts into his body. "Oh, oh, wait, wait!"

"What?" Paris scowled.

"The lube's worn off. Get some more, please?"

"All right." Paris grimaced and fished for the container.

"I'm sorry." Kim said contritely.

"It's all right." Paris forced a smile. "I shouldn't play so rough."

"Did Chakotay let you play rough with him?" Kim asked, suddenly very curious.

"Let's talk about something else." Paris said.

"I'm sorry." Kim said again.

Paris popped the ampule and rubbed the lotion over his cock. It stung, this lathering foam. Like pinpricks in his cock. Hope I'm not allergic to this shit!

He pushed back into Kim and this time decided to brook no nonsense. He fucked Kim hard and Kim bore it with grunts and gasps of pain interspersed with pleasure, and Paris grunted, built orgasm by sheer force of will and effort, and made it to the peak, and rolled down the other side, spurting his wad into the lotion (it formed a barrier among other things, being used for contraception) and finished, rested atop Kim while his cock softened and pulled back, and he felt the cooling gush of his own jism over his balls as it dripped heavily into the sheets.

"Oh, that was good!" Paris said after a time and started to get up.

"To-om?" Kim said plaintively.

"Huh?" he looked down at Kim. "What is it?"

"I haven't come yet." Kim complained.

"Oh! I'm sorry." Paris said. "I'm still pretty new at this. Chakotay always matched me shot for shot and I just didn't think...well, never mind."

He scooted down and took Kim's cock in his mouth. He was tired from his orgasm and tired from the poor night's sleep and tired from the emotional pain of the days before. But Kim was in his keeping and he stuck to his task. He milked Kim's cock dutifully and as adeptly as he could manage, but it took over fifteen minutes of solid work before Kim gasped, moaned and Paris felt Kim's load squirt into his mouth. It had a slightly sour taste to it, and Paris wanted to spit it out, but knew Kim would take that wrong, he gulped it down and wished he had a drink. Even of water.

Instead he moved up and lay down in Kim's arms.

"That was great." Kim sighed.

"I'm glad you liked it."

"I'm sorry I wasn't ready when you were." Kim said. "I wasn't expecting you to be so, so rough."

"I'm not always rough." Paris said. "Just sometimes."

"Oh." Kim digested this. "But other times, you take it nice and slow?"

"Yeah."

"Good." Kim seemed to be grasping strongly to this. "Now what?"

"I need to get back to my room." Paris admitted. "I need to unpack and generally get my mind settled back into Voyager mode. We sort of kicked around the shuttle, sometimes losing track of time, and generally just had a good time. Now I have to get back to watching the clock very carefully or get demerits. I wonder if there's a record on demerits? I'll bet I'm in the running if there is."

"Maybe." Kim watched as Paris got up and pulled on his clothes again. When Paris was done, he looked over at Kim.

"Well, I had a good time." Kim smiled.

"Me, too." Paris said, grabbing his jumpbag. "I'll chat with you later, okay?"

"Sure." Kim said languidly. He seemed to be about to go to sleep. Well, ensigns kept funny hours, and he would work late tonight.

Paris heaved a sigh of relief when the door closed behind him. Well, that was that.

He spent the rest of the day in his quarters, unpacking and then taking a nap. He made it to the commissary in time for the regular dinner crowd and determined to have some fun and socialize a while.

"Hey, Tom!" came the call. Megan MacGruder. He'd wondered where she had been keeping herself. She was sitting with Glenda Potts, and they seemed to be chummy.

Ah, well, he could take up where he left off with her. He was broke, but she was used to that. He carried his meal over to their table. "Hi, Megan." he said.

"It's terrible, isn't it?"

"Yeah!" Paris said with feeling. "And really unfair, too."

"I'll say." Glenda agreed. "So close and we just missed it."

"Missed what?" Paris asked, puzzled. "I mean, I did what I could...."

"We know that." Megan said. "Nobody's blaming you."

"I should hope not." Paris said, warming to his defense. "I kept the secret the best way I could and who should come visit us but Robert himself."

"Robert? Robert who?"

"Huh?"

"What?"

"I don't understand."

"Who's Robert?"

"Captain Robert Brennovan." Paris said, annoyed. "Who else?"

"Who's he?"

"Captain of the Potemkin. The guy I was trying to keep Chakotay from knowing about."

"Tom, you've confused us." Megan said. "We were talking about the wormhole collapsing."

"Oh, that." Paris said. "Yeah, that was too bad. It just stuck around long enough to give Chakotay the bad news and took off again. I wanted to blast that sucker shut the moment I saw it, I knew it was nothing but trouble."

"Tom, we just missed a chance to go home." Megan pointed out. "And you wanted to blast it shut?"

"I knew it was trouble, and it was." Paris said. "Nothing but bad news from the get-go, that's what I told Chakotay and I told him we shouldn't have anything to do with it, and..."

"Tom, what are you talking about?" Glenda said.

"Chakotay and me." Paris clarified. "We broke up because Robert died."

"Really?" Megan asked. "Why would the Captain of the Potemkin dying cause the two of you to break up?"

Paris told them the entire story, warming to his defense and going back and adding details as he thought of them. Megan and Glenda exchanged uncomfortable glances most of the way through.

"So now he tells me it's over because he's got me and Robert all mixed up in his mind together." Paris said. "I forgave him for dumping me in prison and he still blames me for everything nasty Robert did to him. But does he blame Robert? No! He just..." Paris looked down at his meal and realized he was hungry. "One moment." he said and scooped up a spoonful of the gooey pink-and-green-spotted soup, tasted it and spit it out nearly. "Ugh! It's cold!" he complained. "Why doesn't Neelix at least manage to serve hot soup?"

"He did." Glenda pointed out. "It was hot when you sat down."

"I guess I was talking too much." Paris got up and was going to ask for more when he saw that the crowd was nearly gone. "Where is everyone?"

"Finished." Megan said. "Gone to watch the game in Holodeck One."

"What game?"

"The World Series of 2372. Don't you have some bets on that game?" Megan asked.

"Oh, that." Paris said. "Yeah, I do."

"Want to go with us and watch it?"

"Uh, not really." Paris said. "I may get to bed early."

"All right." Megan said. "You'll forgive us if we get there. We want to get good seats."

"Sure, take care." Paris said absently.

"I understand that Chakotay and the Captain are in Holodeck Two." Megan pointed out.

"Yeah?" Paris tried to act nonchalant.

"Running some quiet bar scene. Not Sandrine's. Getting caught up on administrative details. Neither of them are fans of baseball."

"I know." Paris said. "We watched the first game together and Chakotay heard the words 'sacrifice' and he wanted to know what they sacrificed. I started to explain..."

"We have to go, Tom." Megan leaned over and kissed him quiet. "Talk to you after the game, okay?"

"Sure." Paris said and watched them leave. Looked around; he was in the commissary alone. He shrugged, went over to the kitchen where Neelix had left a mess (guess he's watching the game, too) and heated up his soup over one of the burners, and managed to eat it.

He thought about going to watch the game, but found himself going to Holodeck Two instead.

A sedate, upperclass bar with quiet patrons talking to each other. Women in fancy dresses, men in tuxedos, and, looking very out of place in their Starfleet uniforms, Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay.

Paris went over to a table as far from them as he could get in the small holodeck and sat down. "Just water." He said when the maitre d' came up. The man sniffed audibly and fetched it for him. Paris sipped the water and watched the men and women. All of them young, all of them handsome or beautiful, all of them happy. It was enough to get on his nerves. A real holodeck program ought to have some unhappy character around. Well, it's got me now, he decided. He sat and sipped and watched.

"Hi, Tom." Megan slipped down beside him.

"Hi, Megan." Paris greeted her effusively, loudly. Heads turned to watch him, including two he pretended not to notice. He kissed her and sat her down. "Game over already?"

"No, but I slipped out for a moment. I knew you'd be here."

"I didn't care for a crowd and I didn't care to be alone." Paris explained. "This was all I had to pick from."

"Do me a favor, Tom?"

"Sure. What?"

"Quit pretending you don't care."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," Megan tapped his nose with a forefinger, "that if you had cared for me half as much as you care about Chakotay, you'd have had me in your bed months ago."

"I don't know what you mean." Paris protested. "It's over. I didn't want it to be over with, but it was his decision and what am I supposed to do? Sit around and cry about it?"

"Isn't that what you're doing?" Megan pointed out.

Tom looked around, looked at the table, and sat back. "All right." he said. "I want him back. I want him more than anything. I'd do anything to get him back with me again."

"So go do it."

"How?" Paris said. "I've tried everything I could think of. I begged him for forgiveness, I tried to be understanding, I did everything to make him happy, everything!" His voice had risen with every word until now it was nearly a shout. "And what does he do? He shuts me out! Thanks for the good times, now get the hell away from me! How the hell am I supposed to feel?"

"Mad as hell and close to tears." Megan agreed. "I'd do the same."

Paris looked at her, trying to focus, and realized why he couldn't, wiped his face. "What can I do?"

"You've made a good start." Megan pointed out. "You got his attention. All I can tell you is what my grandmother told me when she was the chaperone at my first school dance. 'Honey, why are you sitting way over here when you want to be way over there? Go get him!' So, Mr. Paris, go get him."

"No." Paris said. "He's the one who owes me an apology. I still have my pride."

"You said you'd do anything to get him back again." Megan retorted. "Well, then, throw away your pride and try again."

Paris' mouth worked like a fish out of water for a time, then he caught himself, and managed a brief chuckle. "You're right." He said. "I haven't tried everything. Okay, I'll go over there and throw myself shamelessly at his feet."

"When all else fails, grovel." Megan agreed. "Good luck!"

"Thanks." Paris said and he got up and walked over to where they were talking.

Captain Janeway saw him coming, looked at Chakotay, then at him, then at Chakotay. Paris knew her loyalties well, so he wasn't surprised which side she came down on. As he walked up, she said, "Pardon us, Lieutenant, but we're having a meeting here."

"This will only take a moment. I hope." Paris took a seat. "Chakotay, I have to talk with you. Right now."

"Really, Mr. Paris, I think...." Janeway yammered.

Paris fixed her with a steely eye and cut her off in mid-sentence. "Captain." he said softly to her. "With the greatest of respect to both you and to your rank--shut the hell up."

She sat back, astonished.

"You can call security and lock me away when I get done. Until then, sit where you are and let me finish this. Chakotay, I want to talk to you right now."

"Go ahead." Chakotay said, looking at Janeway.

"I want another chance with you."

"I thought we talked this all out this morning."

"You talked." Paris clarified. "I accepted it, then. But not now."

"Didn't you spend the morning with Harry?" Chakotay rebutted.

"I did." Paris affirmed.

"What did you two do in his quarters for nearly two hours?"

"We had sex."

Chakotay seemed upset by that. "Well, then, what do you need me for? Isn't Harry good enough for you? Is he that lousy a lover?"

"No, he's very good." Paris said. "Gentle, tender, attentive, passionate. There's just one thing wrong with him."

"What's that?"

"He's not you."

"Tom...."

"Look, Chakotay, maybe I handled things badly on the shuttle." Paris said. "I must have, because despite my best efforts, you and I broke up over the one thing I knew could break us up. You started that trip not able to look at me and not see Robert's face, remember?"

"Yes."

"And I got you to see me instead, remember?"

"Yeah."

"If I did it once, I can do it again." Paris' face contorted with pain. "But I don't know how. So I'm asking you, Chakotay, asking you right now. Tell me what I have to do to get you back again."

"I need to check on the crew." Janeway stood up.

"Go ahead, Captain." Paris said. "And thanks for the matchmaking. I'm going to make it work, no matter what it takes. No matter how long I have to sit here. Until he tells me what to do to make things right between us again, I'm not budging."

Janeway sighed. "Very well, Lieutenant. But be on the bridge at 0800 hours."

"I will unless we're both still sitting here." Paris said. "Come on, Chakotay, I'm waiting for an answer. If you need to think about it, go ahead. But I want an answer. What do I have to do to get you back again?"

"I don't know." Chakotay admitted. "What do I have to do to get you to go away and leave me alone?"

"That's easy." Paris said. "Just look me right in the eye and tell me that you really don't wish more than anything that we could be the way we were two days ago, when I was your family and our world consisted of a single shuttle compartment."

Chakotay looked at him, and bit his lip. "I can't do that." he admitted.

"So help me, Chakotay." Paris said, leaning forward. "Tell me at least one thing I can do to start to patch things up with you. Whatever it takes, it's yours."

"Let me think." Chakotay sighed.

"All right."

A piano in the background started with a lounge lizard type crooning the words,

"No one to talk with, all by myself,
No one to walk with, but I'm happy on the shelf.
Ain't misbehaving, I'm saving my love for you.
I know for certain, the one that you love,
I'm through with flirting, it's just you I'm thinking of.
Ain't misbehaving, I'm saving my love for you."

"Well." Chakotay's words broke through the music. "There is one thing you could do."

"Anything!" Paris said quickly. "Just name it."

Chakotay leaned forward himself and nearly whispered. "You could tell me about the Klingon warlord and the captured Romulan spy."

"I've never told that story." Paris said. "But for you, Chakotay, anything. Well, the Klingon warlord walks into his embassy and catches a Romulan spy in the act."

Chakotay's hand reached over and rested on Paris'.

Paris smiled as he looked into eyes that were coming to life again and he warmed to his task of telling the story. "The thing is, the Romulan spy knew he would be captured, and in fact, that was all part of the plan, you see. What the Klingon doesn't know...."

"Like Jack Horner, in the corner,
Don't go nowhere, what do I care.
Your kisses are worth waiting for, believe me.
I don't stay out late, don't care to go,
I'm home about eight, just me and my radio.
Ain't misbehaving, I'm saving my love for you."

And the crooner and the story went on into the evening.

THE END

[Author's P.S.--I have been accused here of calling Harry a "lousy lay." This is not the case! Tom just was wishing he was someone else, which is a situation where nobody ever measures up, okay?]