Susurrations


Prologue

By Britta

*
Chakotay left Sandrine's and ducked into the nearest observation lounge. He felt bad for Tom, having his girlfriend snatched away like that. It bothered him seeing the younger man drink so much but he couldn't blame him.
*
The door slid open behind him and he felt strong arms encircle his waist. Boozy breath rasped into his ear. "I want you, Chakotay."
*
He moved out of the pilot's embrace and started for the door but was grabbed and pinned against a wall. A tall, lean body pressed against him trying to tell him something with its uncoordinated movements.
*
Placing his hands on the face that was rubbing over his own, he said, "Paris, you're drunk."
*
Blue eyes leered at him. "I know that."
*
"What the hell has gotten into you?" Chakotay demanded as he tried to pry Tom off him.
*
Tom smirked and replied meaningfully, "Nothing, yet."
*
Chakotay took in the lust-filled expression on Tom's face and decided it was definitely time to leave. As he went to shove Tom away, he was gripped tightly and with the luck that some drunks have, he was kissed within an inch of his life.
*
Panting, he finally managed to put some distance between himself and his would-be lover. "Tom, I will not be a substitute for B'Elanna. I won't do this."
*
Grinning, Tom replied, "Who says you're the substitute? Maybe I was only seeing her because I couldn't have you."
*
As Tom moved to get closer again, Chakotay stated flatly, "If that's true, then you'll wait until I say it's all right for you to approach me again."
*
Tom stepped back a bit and stumbled onto a small sofa. Sighing heavily, he asked, "How long will that be?"
*
Surprised that Paris was still coherent, Chakotay gazed at the handsome man and wondered if he was doing the right thing. "At least a few weeks. I'll let you know."
*
Tom nodded and cracked a grin. "Okay Chakotay, we'll play it your way. I promise to be good until the time comes when you let me be even better."
*
Chakotay blushed and as Tom laughed, he escaped.
*

END OF PROLOGUE

++++

PART ONE

*
"So what's new, Neelix?" Tom Paris, pilot and self-admitted screw-up, leaned over the bar in the resort and watched him as he mixed drinks.
*
Seeing one of the most human of human beings he'd ever met still brooding after being jilted a few weeks earlier, he brought over a tiny tumbler filled with cloudy blue liquid and placed it in front of Tom. He then looked around cautiously and replied in a low voice, "I'm in love." He stepped back to await Tom's reaction.
*
Tom eyed the drink carefully then took a sip, grimaced briefly and said, "Really? Who's the lucky lady? That is, if it is a lady."
*
He smiled at Tom's amused expression glad to have lightened it a bit. "Oh yes, it's a lady. But I'm not telling you which one."
*
"Why not?" Tom drank more of whatever was in his glass. "Don't you trust me?"
*
"It's not a matter of trust, Tom. I'd just rather keep the information to myself for a little while longer, that's all." He hoped he hadn't done the wrong thing by telling Tom his secret.
*
Tom shrugged and smiled at him. "Whatever you want, Neelix. It's your heart. Just let me know if there's anything I can do to help you get further along the path to true love."
*
Neelix watched as Tom finished his drink and plunked the empty glass down on the bar. Smiling back, he said, "Thank you. I may take you up on that; there are a few questions I have about human females."
*
Grinning, Tom said, "Ah, so she's human...that narrows it down a little."
*
Neelix picked up the small glass and wiped off the counter. "Yes. But please don't tell anyone I said anything."
*
Tom patted him on the shoulder as he leaned over the bar. "Don't worry, my friend. Your secret is safe with me."
*
He just nodded and Tom tipped him a wink as he strolled toward the door to exit the holodeck. Shaking his head, Neelix hoped that Tom would feel better soon.
*

++++

*
Tom wandered into Sandrine's and slid onto a bar stool. He needed a beer, if only to wash the taste of Neelix's latest concoction out of his mouth. God, what the hell had been in it?
*
Thick, sticky and sickly sweet, it must have been based on some sort of Delta Quadrant liqueur. Yuck.
*
Sandrine brought him a beer and he downed half of it in one long swallow. Smacking his lips, glad they weren't in danger of being stuck together any longer, he looked around to see who was present.
*
There was a noisy poker game being played by half a dozen drunken diehards from the gamma shift but other than that, the place was fairly empty. Tom sighed and wondered where everyone was hiding. The resort had been dead, too, with only a few folks from maintenance hanging around.
*
He finished his beer quickly and ordered another then took it over to a table where he could sit and relax, half hidden in the shadows. The pool table beckoned to him but there was no one to play with.
*
Sipping his beer, he wondered where Harry was this evening. Harry had been busy every night for the past week. He'd also been very close-lipped about it when Tom had managed to catch up to him to ask why.
*
Tom wondered about the weirdness that was life. Philosophy wasn't his strong suit, but given recent events, he had no choice except to ponder the possibilities.
*
Harry was off being mysterious so, obviously, he had a secret. Neelix was in love but wouldn't say with whom, so he had a secret, too.
*
And for himself? Yes, he had secrets as well. B'Elanna was out of his hair once and for all, and one of his secrets was feeling relieved rather than broken-hearted. In fact, he would have danced with joy at her wedding; if she'd had one.
*
As it was, she was now Tuvok's junior wife. They had been on an away mission with Harry and Seven, looking for much needed mineral deposits on a small, uninhabited planet out in the middle of nowhere. And as she explained later, suddenly Tuvok had picked her up and carried her off, and that was that.
*
The Vulcan had encountered his Time quickly and violently. Yet, she had come out of it happier, even though she was pissed off at being labeled a 'junior' anything.
*
Still, as he sipped more beer he realized that was when he understood how little he knew her and he was glad she was history. Ancient, unwritten history. After all, he never had managed to get her into bed. And once he'd seen their medical records after they returned to the ship, he was thankful that was the case. Tom thought that she was lucky to be alive. Then again, maybe it was Tuvok who was lucky.
*
"Hey, you fucker! You're cheating!"
*
A loud snarl came from the poker game nearby and Tom scoped out the nearest escape route. He did not want to be caught up in a brawl between soused gamma guys. The fact that two of them were women didn't matter one iota. He finished his beer quickly as the argument grew louder and more incomprehensible.
*
Chairs were pushed back, the bottles on the table wobbled and fists were raised. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom noticed Sandrine contacting Security. Thank god he had programmed her to do that when the safeties were on.
*
He crept toward the door, ready to escape into the corridor as soon as Tuvok's people arrived. Faster than he thought possible, the doors opened just as a bottle was thrown and went sailing between them.
*
Expecting to dodge Security, he dashed out into the corridor, but what he saw stopped him in his tracks. The thrown bottle hadn't been holographic. Instead, it was lying on the floor, spilling the remainder of its contents next to a bloodied and unconscious Commander Chakotay.
*
He dropped to his knees beside his CO. Shit. This was just what he needed to deal with, he thought, as Tuvok and his team came pounding down the corridor heading straight for them.
*
Motioning his guards into the holodeck, Tuvok shot Tom a hard glance and pointedly asked, "Are you responsible for this?"
*
"No, sir. But I can tell you what I saw. Let me get him to Sickbay and then I'll make a report." Tom ducked and covered Chakotay's head when another real missile came flying in their direction.
*
Tuvok nodded and quickly entered the fray inside Sandrine's while Tom hit his badge and snapped, "Two to beam to Sickbay."
*

++++

*
Chakotay came to while being pulled up onto a biobed. His face hurt and it was difficult to see. He assumed he had blood in his eyes. He heard Tom shouting for the Doctor and then he felt gentle hands touching his face.
*
"I know you're awake. Do me a favor and don't fight me."
*
He listened to Tom's voice and realized he was only trying to help. One of his eyes cleared up a bit and he heard the Doctor say, "Very good, Lieutenant. Just keep on doing that and I'll be back momentarily."
*

Chakotay looked around blearily and thought he must have suffered some kind of seizure. As Tom worked on his face, he saw the Doctor dressed in what appeared to be a tuxedo.
*
"You're going to be fine, Commander," Tom said softly, as he ran the dermal regenerator around Chakotay's eye, nose and split lip again.
*
Chakotay just nodded and remained silent. His vision cleared and what he saw confused him more than anything he'd seen before. While Paris mended the rest of his face, he saw Seven of Nine wearing what had to be an evening gown from an earlier century.
*
The Doctor came over to them and he was indeed wearing a tux. Seven stood by the door uncertainly. In Chakotay's opinion, she seemed rather uncomfortable but he wasn't about to say anything in the off chance he was totally wrong.
*
Tom turned off the regenerator while the Doctor scanned him. His face felt a little numb when the physician tested the normally sensitive areas with his holographic fingertips.
*
Still feeling he was in the twilight zone of somewhen, he opted to keep quiet and see what happened next.
*
The Doctor gazed at Paris and said, "I want you to stay with the Commander until he's fully aware of his situation. Then make sure he gets home safely."
*
"Okay. Anything else I need to know?" Tom inquired semi-sarcastically.
*
Chakotay looked over at Tom and wondered why he sounded so put out. He knew he was forgetting something. What could it be?
*
The Doctor took the question seriously and replied, "Seven and I will be on the holodeck attending the opening night of Madame Butterfly. If you need to contact me, I will be readily available."
*
"That's just fine." Tom sighed and sat down next to his charge.
*
Chakotay waited until the Doctor and Seven left Sickbay, then he reached over and tapped Tom's arm. "What happened to me?"
*
Tom took Chakotay's hand into his own and said, "You got hit by a flying bottle of booze as you were about to enter Sandrine's."
*
"Really? I don't remember that." He frowned and tried to figure out why he'd been there in the first place. Looking over at his hand clasped in Tom's, he had to wonder what he was overlooking.
*
Paris whipped out the medical tricorder one-handedly and scanned Chakotay. "What's the last thing you do remember? Before waking up here, I mean."
*
Chakotay's brows drew together in concentration. "One minute I was in my quarters adding to my personal log and the next minute I was here."
*
"Hm." Tom released his hand and made a few notes on a padd. "I don't think it's too unusual to have a blank spot in your memory surrounding an injury, especially a head injury."
*
"How could a single bottle cause my whole head to hurt?" Chakotay sat up slowly.
*
"Don't forget that you also hit the floor pretty hard."
*
"Oh." He swung his legs off the bed and Tom helped him to stand.
*
"Let's get you home so you can clean up."
*
Chakotay looked down at his blood-covered uniform and nodded. "That's a good idea."
*
They headed towards Chakotay's cabin slowly, Tom keeping a hand on the slightly unsteady Commander's arm.
*
Once in the turbolift, Chakotay asked, "What's going on with Seven and the Doctor?"
*
Tom smiled. "He thinks she needs a dose of high culture. Tonight it's opera. He'll probably take her to the ballet the next time he gets the use of a holodeck."
*
"I see." Chakotay was amused. At the door to his cabin, they paused.
*
Peering at him, Tom asked, "Sure you can handle things all right?"
*
"I'll be fine."
*
"I'll stop back by and check on you after I'm finished with Tuvok."
*
"Okay."
*
Tom patted him on the shoulder and left. He turned back to the door and went inside. The feeling that he was missing something important would not go away. Well, first things first. A shower and clean clothes were at the top of his list.
*
Once clean and wearing his robe, he replicated a cup of tea and sat down to peruse his personal log. Perhaps the information he sought would be found there.
*
"Playback."
*
He saw himself as he appeared only an hour ago. It always gave him a strange sensation when he viewed himself in this manner. It was eerie.
*
"Well, it's been a month since Tuvok and B'Elanna got together. I think it's time to go see Tom and...."
*
"Halt." Chakotay reached out and switched off the viewer. Memory was instantly restored and he realized now why he had been going to Sandrine's. He had called for a location check on Tom and knew he was there.
*
Chakotay rose and went over to the couch. Leaning his head against the back, he set his tea aside and let the memories of the last month swarm through his mind.
*
Tom had surprised him. The day after he'd made the drunken pass, he had cornered Chakotay at lunch and told him he'd meant what he said and was willing to wait as long as required.
*
Days passed and then weeks, still Chakotay waited and wondered why Paris hadn't pursued anyone else. Finally, he began to believe that Tom had told him the truth. Once he accepted that, he then had to deal with his own feelings.
*
He recalled the kiss that Tom managed to give him that night and if he was honest with himself, he had to admit it had stirred him. He had been alone for too long. Just the feel of another warm body near his own was enough to make him hard. Perhaps that's why Tom had laughed at him.
*
Chakotay sat up and took another drink of his tea. He rubbed a hand over his face and found that it didn't hurt quite so much anymore. What was he going to do about Tom? How much did the younger man know about him?
*
Setting his cup down, he closed his eyes and let the past parade through his mind's eye. Men...many of them, over his lifetime. They came into his bed and left again; some of them provided good memories and some didn't.
*
He wasn't sure if letting Paris join that queue would be a good thing or not. Their circumstances were different out here. They were essentially stuck with each other. Nowhere to go, nowhere to run if things didn't work out well.
*
Did Tom realize that? Was he aware of the risks they'd be taking if they even tried to make a relationship together?
*
The fact that he, himself, was even contemplating the concept unnerved him to no end. He found Tom Paris to be a huge pain in the neck but he also thought the man was sexy as all hell.
*
He'd thought that telling Tom to wait would have solved his problem but it had not. Tom had treated him professionally for a whole month without complaining or teasing. Chakotay had to respect that effort even though it made it even more difficult for himself. He had no other choice now than to take Tom seriously.
*
He really hadn't prepared himself to do so but admitted that he would enjoy the challenge. Tom was a prize he wouldn't mind winning.
*
Sighing and sipping more of his tea, he let his imagination run riot and waited impatiently for Tom to come back. Then they would talk.
*

++++

*
Tom hurried back to Chakotay's quarters. He was worried. He didn't like it that the Commander had blanked out like that. The Doctor had not been pleased when Tom had crept into the opera and demanded to speak with him but now he knew he had been right about the memory loss being a common symptom.
*
He leaned on the door chime and waited impatiently. What was taking so long? Pacing in front of Chakotay's cabin, he didn't notice the people who passed by.
*
The door opened and he nearly flew inside. Chakotay stepped back, out of the whirlwind that was Tom and waited.
*
"Are you all right? What took you so long to answer the door?" he shouted.
*
Chakotay looked a little spooked and Tom lowered his voice then approached the older man. "Hey, I'm sorry I yelled. *Are* you okay?"
*
Chakotay breathed a sigh of relief and replied, "I'm fine. Why don't you sit down and relax."
*
Tom allowed himself to be steered to the sofa but didn't give up trying to find out if Chakotay was all right. "I will if you will. Would you please come and sit next to me?"
*
"Okay." Chakotay complied and sat quietly.
*
"How's your head?" Tom asked, as he ran his fingers over his CO's face.
*
"It's better."
*
Removing his hand, he continued, "That's good. What about your memory?"
*
Chakotay twisted to sit sideways and stared at him. Tom clasped his hands together and rested his forearms on his knees. Not knowing what to expect, he was surprised when Chakotay reached out and touched his shoulder gently.
*
"My memory came back when I looked at my personal log. I know why I went to Sandrine's."
*
Tom blinked. "Why?"
*
"I went to find you. It's been a month, Tom. I thought it was time we talked about what happened after Tuvok and B'Elanna...got together."
*
On his face, a smile grew little by little and Tom felt a lightness invade his heart. The last month had been hell for him. But now it seemed that maybe things were looking up. Perhaps he had a chance to get what he really wanted. "Are you sure you're up to a conversation of that magnitude?" he asked teasingly.
*
Chakotay grinned, then yawned. "All you'll get from me tonight is words. You'll have to wait for anything else. Deal?"
*
Tom remembered what had occurred earlier and said, "No deal. I'll talk to you tomorrow. For now, you need rest." He rose from the couch and pulled Chakotay to his feet. "Go to bed. Get some sleep...I want you in tip-top form when we...converse."
*
With that, he kissed Chakotay on the cheek and left quickly, not allowing his hopes to rise *too* much.
*

END OF PART ONE

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Susurrations, Part 2