Susurrations, Part 10


By Britta

*
Chakotay walked into the mess hall and saw Tom sitting with Neelix. He wondered again why those two had so much to talk about. Harry Kim he could understand, but Neelix?
*
Slowly, he approached the two men hoping to catch them off guard but all he saw was a shell-shocked expression on Tom's face. His curiosity climbed to the next level right at the same time that Tom noticed him.
*
Paris rearranged his countenance, smiled widely, and asked in a louder than normal voice, "So Neelix, when's the big date?"
*
The Talaxian looked a little perturbed at Tom's tone but quickly rallied when he realized the Commander was almost upon them. Jumping headlong into the game, Neelix replied just as loudly, "We will all be attending the symphony tonight, after the dinner rush."
*
"That's great. I hope you have a terrific time." Tom rose and slipped the little card up his sleeve with a deft move. "Let me know how everything goes, okay?"
*
Neelix got to his feet as well and smiled confidently, "I'll do that. Thanks for the advice, Tom." Turning to find Chakotay towering over him, Neelix grinned and nodded, then scooted out of the way quickly.
*
Chakotay scooped Tom into his arms and kissed him lustily. After a liplock and hug of near epic proportions, he whispered into Tom's ear, "Care to tell me what that little performance was all about?"
*
Playing to the early dinner audience and the chef, Tom nosed his way over to Chakotay's ear and murmured, "Not here."
*
He looked into Tom's eyes and saw a multitude of conflicting emotions. What the hell had happened?
*
Suddenly, Tom frowned and pulled away from him saying, "Your ribs! What are you doing? The Doctor said--"
*
Chakotay kissed Tom again, mostly to shut him up but also because he felt like it and he could. When he was satisfied for the moment, he backed off just enough to take Tom by the hand and drag him out of the mess hall.
*
Dinner could wait a little while. They had things to discuss.
*

++++

*
Tom felt himself being propelled out of the relative spotlight and into the corridor. His thoughts bounced back and forth between anxiety over the speed with which Chakotay was pulling him along and what Neelix had asked him.
*
Once at the turbolift, he pressed Chakotay against the wall and held him at arm's length stating, "Slow down."
*
Chakotay reached for him but he held him fast and shook his head. "Where are we going?"
*
The 'lift arrived and he was tugged inside. Chakotay pulled him close and answered, "Anywhere that's 'not here'. Your place or mine?"
*
Seeing the twinkle in his lover's eyes, Tom called for his own deck then asked, "Where have you been? I went looking for you as soon as I got off duty."
*
"I was in my office. I think I'm making some progress in solving the mystery."
*
As they were deposited on Tom's deck, he replied, "I thought you were supposed to be resting all day. I stopped by your quarters at lunch and you were dead to the world."
*
Chakotay frowned. "How did you get in without waking me up?"
*
Tom just grinned. "I have my ways." Then, his expression hardened and he snapped, "Now tell me why you've been ignoring the Doctor's orders."
*
Chakotay didn't answer until they were inside Tom's cabin. "I'm not ignoring anything. I went to see him this afternoon and he cleared me for light duty...among other things." He smirked at Tom teasingly.
*
Flopping onto the couch, Tom looked up at his apparently hale lover and sniped, "You could've let me know."
*
"How? What would you want me to do? Comm you on the bridge and say, 'Hi honey, I'm at the office'?"
*
Tom snorted. "No. I don't think that would go over too well with the Captain, let alone Tuvok. But you could've told me once I was off shift. Damn it, I've been worried about you all day long."
*
Chakotay sat down next to him and touched his face gently. "I'm sorry. I was preoccupied with the reports on replicator activity and lost track of time."
*
Sensing he was in danger of devolving into a nag, Tom set aside his other concerns and leaned over to give Chakotay a forgiving kiss. He shoved aside the remnants of his guilt over this morning's events and said, "So, do you want to know what I found out?"
*
Chakotay pulled him into a hug and sighed in obvious relief. "Yes, I do. Was it something Neelix told you?"
*
"Yeah, but you won't believe it."
*
"Does this have anything to do with what you did when I showed up in the mess hall?"
*
Tom snuggled closer to Chakotay and grinned at him. "You bet it does."
*

++++

*
Chakotay moved around and settled back against the sofa, letting Tom rest against his chest and said, "Okay, I'm ready to listen when you're ready to spill the beans."
*
The blond took a deep breath and began. "First off, I showed Harry the card but he didn't know anything about it. That was at lunch, after we stopped by to check on you. Then, it wasn't until I went looking for you in the mess hall that I had a chance to speak to Neelix." Tom paused for a moment.
*
"Go on. Then what happened?"
*
"Well, I was on my way to hunt you down when Neelix cornered me, full of concern over what happened this morning. He spent some time making me feel better and then I asked him about the card...."
*
"And?" Chakotay asked pointedly as he saw Tom's expression change to reflect a mixture of amusement and uncertainty.
*
Tom turned his head back toward his lover and blurted out, "He wanted to know why we needed help with our sex life since we'd only been together such a short time."
*
Stunned, Chakotay couldn't move a muscle, let alone come up with a reply that would make any sense at all. He couldn't believe it. Why the hell would Neelix think something like that?
*
He puzzled it out for a nanosecond or two then laughed. "So what was the big production number all about? I mean, it was obvious to me that you and Neelix were trying to fool me about something."
*
Tom reached a hand up to stroke Chakotay's face. Then he sat back and said, "Neelix and I weren't trying to fool you really. I was trying to fool Neelix into thinking we were trying to fool you." At Chakotay's confused frown, Tom continued, "He knows something, Chakotay. If I want to find out what it is, I have to let him think we need whatever that card offers. Get it?"
*
A few kisses later, Tom made sure he 'got it'. He smiled and said, "You are more devious than I thought. But then, I like that in a man."
*
More kisses ensued until Tom pulled away and remarked, "I'm hungry. Can we go eat now?"
*
Chakotay nodded then asked seriously, "Did my kissing you in the mess hall blow your cover story of our having problems?"
*
Tom blinked and then laughed out loud. At Chakotay's mystified glance, he said, "We didn't get that far. I *think* Neelix thinks that you don't know there is a problem."
*
Grimacing but with good humor, Chakotay replied, "So he must figure I'm dense, right?"
*
"I don't know. Besides, it doesn't matter. Come on, let's go eat." Tom rose and pulled Chakotay to his feet then started to lead him toward the door.
*
Chakotay dug in his heels and frowned, halting Tom's progress instantly. He recalled some of what he'd overheard and something Kathryn had said to him earlier popped into his mind. "Wait a minute, Tom."
*
Paris shot him a disgruntled look as his stomach rumbled audibly. "What now? Is there something else we need to hash out before we eat?" Tom asked impatiently.
*
"Yes...there is. Didn't Neelix say something about going to the symphony tonight?"
*
"Uh, maybe," Tom hedged. "I don't remember exactly. Why?"
*
Chakotay grinned, put two and two together and came up with something approximating four. Not believing it for a second though, he turned Tom in his arms to stare into his oh-so-innocent blue eyes and replied, "The Captain said something to me today when she came to visit and apologize to me. She mentioned she had a date to go to the symphony this evening. Is that the *date* you were referring to when you were talking to Neelix for my benefit?"
*
Tom blushed a deep red and mumbled, "I didn't *tell* you anything. If anyone ever asks, it's not my fault that you figured it out. Okay?"
*
Surprised to have his crazy conclusion confirmed, Chakotay sank back down onto the couch. Momentarily rendered speechless by the concept of Captain Janeway going on a date with the Delta Quadrant equivalent of a junk dealer, he just looked up at Tom blankly.
*

++++

*
Overly concerned by Chakotay's reaction, Tom dropped to his knees in front of his lover and peered at him with a critical yet medical eye. He checked his color, felt his forehead, and gripped his wrist in one hand.
*
A few seconds later, he saw those beautiful brown eyes regain their focus and he leaned forward, staring into them intently. Quietly, he asked, "Are you feeling better? Do you need to go to Sickbay?"
*
Wordlessly, Chakotay shook his head, then he began to smile. "This I have got to see. Can you find out when they will arrive on the holodeck?"
*
Relieved, Tom rose and said, "Let me check who has booked what holodeck-wise. Stay put until I'm done."
*
Chakotay just nodded. Tom played mother hen and kept on an eye on him while he investigated holodeck reservations. Gleaning the information he wanted from the computer, he returned to his lover's side. "The Doctor has reserved one for 2000. I think it's safe to assume they will all be there then."
*
His grin grew even wider and Chakotay inquired, "Computer, what time is it?"
*
"The time is 1847."
*
Rising, Chakotay peered at Tom smugly. "I think we have enough time to get some dinner before we meet them there, don't you think?"
*
Shrugging, Tom replied, "If that's what you want to do tonight, then I'm up for it. Should we change now or after dinner?"
*
"Change? What do you mean?"
*
Tom tugged on Chakotay's uniform jacket. "You can't wear this to go see the New London Symphony Orchestra."
*
Chakotay laughed softly. "I know that. Tom, I don't want to join them, I just want to *see* them. Let's go eat and then make our way to the holodeck. We can wait around and watch them go in. Then we can come back here and have a much more exciting evening than they will."
*
At his lover's wicked grin, complete with dimples out in full force, Tom had no choice but to agree. He moved in for a kiss, then another, and just one more before saying, "You promise we'll have a better time?"
*
A hand snaked down to his groin and squeezed gently. "I promise."
*
He undulated his hips, pressing against Chakotay's warm palm. "I'm going to hold you to that. After a day like today, you owe me, Chakotay."
*

++++

*
Pulling Tom into the mess hall in a similar manner as he'd pulled him out of there earlier, Chakotay looked around to see who was present. He spied Tuvok and B'Elanna sitting in a corner and having what appeared to be an interesting conversation, if her facial expressions and gestures were anything to go by.
*
As he and Tom made their way toward the food, he also spotted Ensign Kim and Crewman Dalby busily shoveling bites of dinner down their throats as they traded garbled sentences between gulps. It seemed there was a true meeting of the minds in progress there.
*
He wondered where the twins were for an instant but Tom grabbed his wandering attention by saying, "So what do you want to eat?"
*
Looking over the offerings spread out before him, he sighed and asked, "Do you know what any of these are?"
*
Tom curled his lip and replied, "Why do you think I'd recognize this stuff?"
*
Chakotay shrugged. "Just wishful thinking I guess." He peered at the various dishes and wished Neelix were around so he could ask questions. As it was, he couldn't tell the origin or composition of anything except what purported to be bread.
*
Deciding to take a risk, he loaded up with bread and a few bites of the most innocuous looking alternatives. He prayed silently that whatever he was about to eat would forgive him, if necessary.
*
Standing next to him, Tom was tapping his foot and waiting for him impatiently. He knew Tom was hungry and so hurried his selection. Nodding at Tom, he said, "Sorry to take so long."
*
Tom just raised his eyebrows and jerked his head indicating which table they would take. Chakotay followed Tom silently and they sat down. He watched as his lover attacked his food voraciously. Before he was half done tasting his own, Tom was finished.
*
"Go ahead and eat already, Chakotay." Tom slugged down more of his water and went on, "It's not going to bite you back."
*
He felt Tom's amused gaze rove over him as he stared at his plate and thought that Tom just didn't understand. There were principles at stake here. Frowning, he decided that now was not the time to get into the discussion of why he ate what he ate, so he picked up another piece of bread and munched on it.
*
Teasingly, Tom remarked, "I don't know why you're so worried about what's for dinner. I mean, you've eaten meat before...mine, that is." A sly smile accompanied the statement and grew as the moments passed.
*
Realizing that Tom had absolutely no idea what he was talking about in the larger context of Chakotay's spiritual life, he answered bluntly, "Tom, the only meat I eat...isn't dead." That shut the pilot's mouth quickly and he felt gratified enough to finish what he could of his meal.
*

++++

*
Tom sensed that he'd stuck his foot in his mouth somehow and resolved to investigate the subject later. His teasing had not brought about the result he wanted. Maintaining a neutral expression, he changed the subject. "So Chakotay, what do you want to do while we wait for the Captain and company to show up on the holodeck?"
*
Pushing the tray aside, the Commander looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. Tom could see the man change emotional gears and was relieved when a small smile appeared on his face.
*
"Well, we could always go to Sandrine's and see what's happening there before we make our way home, slowly."
*
"Ah. You want to make it look natural, like we're running into them by accident. Good plan." Tom grinned and wished they could speed up time somehow. He didn't particularly care whether or not he saw Neelix and Janeway together although he did wonder why Chakotay was so intent on doing so.
*
Chakotay checked the time and said, "We have about twenty minutes, let's go."
*
They gathered their trays and headed over to the recyclers. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom saw Dalby apparently lecturing an engrossed Harry on the finer points of something. Nodding seriously, Harry looked like he was attending a class at the academy. Tom was surprised that Harry wasn't taking notes on a padd.
*
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, Tom looked at Chakotay curiously. "What is it?"
*
Dark eyes peered into his own. "You seemed a little preoccupied. If you don't want to do this, we don't have to. We can just go home instead."
*
Tom leaned over to whisper into Chakotay's ear, "I was just watching the Dom lesson going on in the corner."
*
Chakotay flashed a glance in their direction then smiled and said, "Want to sit in? Maybe pick up a few pointers?"
*
Laughing, Tom just shook his head and gave Chakotay a big kiss. "No way. Come on, let's go see what the hottest couples in town are wearing to the symphony tonight."
*

++++

*
They made their way to the holodeck, strolling along slowly, like lovers are inclined to do. Stopping every few meters to hug and kiss and also quietly check the time, they appeared like any other new couple; oblivious to everything happening around them and completely wrapped up in themselves.
*
At 1958 precisely, Chakotay nudged Tom down the corridor another few meters and brought him into his arms while leaning against the wall. "We won't need to go to Sandrine's tonight," he said, as he stroked Tom's cheek with his free hand.
*
"And why is that?" Tom replied archly while turning to bite the palm that caressed his face so enticingly.
*
Chakotay's eyes narrowed and he almost missed the approaching group as he was distracted by Tom's deliberately inflammatory actions. He crushed the younger man in his arms, trying to hold him still while he peered over his shoulder through nearly closed eyelids.
*
The group of four walked sedately down the hall, ignoring them as if they were part of the landscape or worse yet, litter by the side of the road. Chakotay took a long look at Janeway on Neelix's arm and Seven of Nine standing rather close to the Doctor. He decided that of the two pairs, Janeway and Neelix looked more decorous and formal even though what they were all wearing made his head spin.
*
Before he could continue his assessment, Tom bit him on the neck and turned them both around saying in a hushed voice, "I want to see, too."
*
The next thing he knew, Tom was shaking in his arms and burying his face against his neck, trying not to laugh out loud. Sighing, Chakotay just hugged Tom more tightly and murmured, "Just wait till I get you home."
*

END OF PART TEN

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Susurrations, Part 11