Susurrations, Part 19


By Britta

Tom heard a door chime, or so he thought. It might have been something else, like a wake-up alarm, but he wasn't certain.
*
It wasn't a Red Alert though, and so he figured he'd be just fine. He did spare a thought to wonder why he was in Harry's bed with someone who looked just like Harry, but it wasn't too important. What was important though was removing the incredibly sour lime that seemed to have taken up residence in his mouth. What was it doing there anyway?

+ + + +

Chakotay frowned when no one answered the door. He checked with the computer again and was informed that both Tom and Harry were inside Ensign Kim's quarters. Even though he was paying a private visit, he used his command override, and the door obediently opened.
*
He entered the cabin only to see the lights dimmed to half. What could they possibly be doing? Chakotay called the lights up to full and walked toward the bedroom, as there was no other location that the trail of discarded clothing led him.
*
Standing in the archway between the two small rooms, Chakotay saw both men lying on the bed. Tom was still dressed, albeit interestingly adorned with slices of limes among small piles and trails of salt. Harry was fully naked except for the empty bottle of tequila he was cradling in his arms and the equally empty, clear glass salt shaker attached to the end of his dick. They were lying side-by-side, oblivious to that fact, and the Commander smiled widely at the picture they made wishing he had a holo-recorder handy.
*
Tom appeared to be in the better condition of the two as he was clumsily attempting to remove a lime rind from between his teeth. Harry, however, was dead to the universe and didn't even twitch as Chakotay pulled a blanket over him.
*
Chakotay stood by the bed and decided his favorite black shirt had met its end honorably. Watching as Tom tried futilely to pluck the lime wedge from his mouth almost made him laugh out loud. Instead, he smiled again and thought that discretion was called for. He then commed the Doctor, requesting that he make a house call.
*
The Doctor arrived, raised an eyebrow or two, then hemmed and hawed over his patients while removing their various ornaments. Chakotay stood aside and watched as their physician encountered the shot glasses covering Tom's big toes, and then scanned the two men. Tom was barely semi-conscious.
*
Chakotay did hope that the Doctor would bring Tom around though, as he needed his lover awake so he could find out what was on the padd Dalby had slipped him.
*
Apparently satisfied that his patients would live to see another day, the Doctor made disapproving noises then turned to Chakotay and said, "Ensign Kim's condition I can understand. I had no problem taking him off duty today, but, I admit Lieutenant Paris's actions confuse me."
*
Pretending he knew more than he did about the reasons behind his lover's actions, Chakotay stated, "Tom is Harry's best friend. If Harry was upset by something, Tom would be as well."
*
The Doctor peered at the two sleeping men, then back at the Commander. "But Ensign Kim is the one who has recently discovered his impending fatherhood. I cannot see how that even remotely affects Lieutenant Paris."
*
Chakotay felt a shockwave pass through himself as he struggled to answer the Doctor with enough self-assurance to convince the hologram to give him what he wanted. "I see. Don't worry about why Tom did what he did. I'll take care of him. I would appreciate it, though, if you'd leave me a hypospray with enough stimulants to allow Paris to talk to me. I have need of him, in an official capacity."
*
The Doctor pursed his lips, looked disappointed for a second, then said, "Very well. On the condition that you leave Mr. Kim alone to sleep off his emotional and physical fatigue. As for Mr. Paris, I just wish he wouldn't avail himself of any excuse to drink."
*
Holographic eyes peered into his own and he thought they were as effectively intimidating as any flesh and blood physician's. Chakotay nodded and wisely kept his mouth shut as he accepted the hypo from the Doctor.
*
The hologram then left Harry's cabin. Chakotay sank onto the sofa and thought over everything he'd learned so far. He was tempted to have a drink himself. Harry must have gotten one of the Delaney sisters pregnant. No wonder he hit the tequila so hard and Tom had joined him.
*
Chakotay checked the time and thought he had plenty of it, or would have once Tom announced his name to the padd, freeing its data for Chakotay's use. He rose and walked over to the bed. Sitting beside his lover, he pressed the hypospray against Tom's neck and waited until the man opened his eyes.
*
Blinking blearily, Tom eventually peered up at him and frowned at the bright light.
*
Chakotay leaned down for a quick, tequila and lime-flavored kiss, then ordered, "State your name." He held the padd close to Tom's face.
*
The drunken man mumbled, "Thomas Eugene Paris," then promptly passed out again.
*
It seemed to be enough, as the padd's display changed. Chakotay took the now-accessible data back to the sofa and read the instructions that were meant for his lover's eyes alone.

+ + + +

Oh god, he was tired, so damned tired...of everything. He felt as if he was being strangled and tore ineffectually at the shirt he wore, still not realizing it wasn't his own. The sleeves bound his arms and the whole thing felt gritty and stank of lime juice. What new pit of hell had he fallen into this time?
*
Tom's tongue was thick within his mouth and his teeth felt like they were wearing tiny fur coats. Or, perhaps a more apt description might be individual, miniature hair shirts. Well, whatever the newest style was, he didn't like it, and decided to do something about it.
*
As he rolled off the edge of the bed and landed on the floor, he wondered if he'd been dreaming when he thought Chakotay had been here earlier. He peered around Harry's cabin and figured he must have been because there was no sign of the Commander now. Heaving himself up to a standing position, Tom then lurched into Harry's bathroom, intent on removing the lime pulp and the granules of salt which seemed to have invaded certain parts of his body.
*
He stripped and discovered he wasn't wearing very many clothes. The black shirt was in such condition that the 'fresher couldn't even begin to clean it let alone repair it, and that's when Tom realized that it belonged to Chakotay.
*
A fast shower and a thorough tooth cleansing later, Tom pulled on his pants then swiped a shirt from Harry's closet. He stopped to check Harry out--pulse, respirations, pupil reflexes--and was grateful the Doctor had been so thorough as to force him to learn the basics. With Harry seeming to be in pretty good shape, Tom left the cabin in all good conscience, although with a whopper of a headache.
*
As he trudged back to his quarters, he berated himself for drinking before breakfast and for ruining Chakotay's black shirt. He really liked that shirt, when it was on Chakotay, and now he'd have to replicate another one out of his own rations. Shit.
*
Tom wandered along, shaking his head at Harry's plight, and his own lack of brains. What a way to spend his day off. Sighing heavily, he entered his quarters only to find Chakotay lying on his couch and staring at him with a strange expression on his face.
*
He muttered, "It wasn't my fault. I didn't mean to be gone so long."
*
Chakotay said nothing, though he gave Tom's new outfit the visual once-over. Tom watched the expression on his lover's face change from barely unreadable to totally unreadable and he wasn't sure what to do. His head hurt, badly, and yet Chakotay just stared at him.
*
Suddenly, he didn't care about anything anymore. He undressed, leaving his clothes in a pile on the floor, and dove into his bed burying his head under a pillow. He hoped Chakotay would take the hint and go away; leave him alone with his cranial pain and his doubts and half-assed memories of how he'd spent the morning.
*
Tom felt a weight settle on the bed beside him, then gave up all hope that he would be left in peace for the near future.

+ + + +

Chakotay sat down next to his lover and produced a pain-killer for him. He rubbed Tom's neck gently then slipped the hypospray into place. A hiss later, he heard a muffled sound of relief.
*
Removing the pillow from atop his head, Tom sighed, "Thanks."
*
Still rubbing, Chakotay's hand moved down Tom's back. "You're welcome."
*
"Were you at Harry's place earlier?" Tom asked in a steadier voice.
*
Chakotay continued his one-handed massage and replied, "Yes. I even called the Doctor and asked him to come check on you two. He told me that Harry is going to be a father."
*
Evincing more energy than he had before, Tom rolled over and stated, "In spades, Chakotay. Did the Doc tell you that both the Delaney sisters are pregnant with identical twin girls?"
*
Letting out a low whistle, Chakotay shook his head, then ran a hand over Tom's chest, stroking it. "No. He didn't tell me any details. But now I understand why you decided to get drunk with Harry and never showed up for breakfast or lunch."
*
Tom sat up and kissed Chakotay. Obviously feeling better, he inquired with a shaky smile, "So you forgive me for going AWOL?"
*
He removed Tom's arms from around his neck and answered, "Yes, I do. But there is something else I'd rather discuss with you."
*
"What's that?"
*
Chakotay proffered the padd that Dalby had given him and Tom took it, a puzzled expression on his face.
*
"Read it, Tom," he ordered in a no-nonsense tone of voice. Then he rose and went to sit in the living area. Staring out at the stars, he waited to see what sort of explanation Tom would come up with this time.

+ + + +

Tom wondered why Chakotay suddenly sounded so formal and called for full lights. He began to read and his eyes widened as he saw the choices offered to him, along with all the gory details presented with each available scenario.
*
Blushing, he could understand why this was meant for his eyes only. Before he could bitch about Chakotay invading his privacy, a hazy memory of being asked to state his name surfaced in his mind. Besides, he told himself, this was part of an official investigation--Chakotay had every right to know.
*
Still, it didn't ease his embarrassment. If only this had happened later in their relationship; when things were more settled, without all the extra bullshit they'd had to put up with over the last week, it would be easier to handle. Shrugging, Tom tried to relax against his pillows. Life wasn't easy for him and he thought that no matter what happened, it never would be.
*
Several minutes later, Tom coughed and cleared his throat. He felt the slight, residual pain of an alcohol-induced headache and stood up. Gingerly, he donned his robe and wandered over to the replicator, ordering himself a huge glass of water. He knew he was dehydrated and that, plus the fact that he hadn't eaten in hours, was enough to cut down the effectiveness of the pain-killer Chakotay had given him a little while ago.
*
He needed food. Then maybe he'd feel up to explaining to Chakotay what he did, and why, to bring about the results shown on the padd. As he gulped down the water, he wondered how the padd had come to be in Chakotay's possession in the first place. Who had given it to him and when?
*
Frowning in concentration, he turned to look at his lover. All he got in return was a neutral expression. Chakotay seemed ready to wait him out. Fine. In the meantime, he'd fill his empty stomach. God, he felt as if he were starving. The problem was he didn't know exactly what he wanted to eat.
*
Not wanting to upset Chakotay's equilibrium any further by getting a cheeseburger, he opted for the meal he had first missed: breakfast. He programmed pancakes and fried potatoes for himself and hoped Chakotay wouldn't mind too much if he didn't offer to share.
*
Tom sat at his small table and shoved the food down his throat so fast he hardly had time to taste it. He also slugged down orange juice, coffee, and more water while periodically staring at Chakotay. What was the man thinking?

+ + + +

Chakotay sat on the sofa and peered out the viewport, patiently waiting until Tom was ready to explain. He knew Tom was hungry and thirsty and probably still tired, so he didn't push and let him eat in peace.
*
As surprised as he had been by the selections given to them on the padd, what he really wanted to know was who made the decision to offer those options. Of course, he was also curious about how Tom had answered the questions on the original questionnaire. Tom had seen his own true responses, but he had not seen Tom's.
*
He felt as though he was at a slight disadvantage in that respect, but then he'd always thought he might be at some point, once he'd decided to be with Tom. As Tom ate, Chakotay could feel his gaze resting on him while hearing munching noises in the background.
*
What had Tom done to make the choices so diverse? Chakotay couldn't figure out how that came to be, or what, if anything, that said about Tom's true sexual preferences.
*
Gods, would the man never finish eating? About to burst with curiosity, he glanced at the table, only to see Tom still sitting there, staring at him and chewing away.

+ + + +

Tom reached for his orange juice and washed down the last of his meal. He felt so much better it was amazing. Now he felt up to dealing with whatever sort of snit Chakotay had worked himself into.
*
He rose from the table and tossed his dishes into the recycler. Stifling a burp, he walked over to where Chakotay sat and settled on the sofa beside him. Tom took Chakotay's hand and held it tightly, saying, "I'm ready to talk if you are."
*
His lover turned to him and asked, "What did you put on the padd that would give us those sorts of fantasies to play out? Or, are they just fantasies? Do you want to do those things for real...all the time?"
*
Tom heard the concern in Chakotay's voice and realized that the man had no true idea of where he was coming from. Somewhere along the line, their personal and professional lives had become mixed up in a stew of false pretenses designed to solve the replicator mystery. He raised the brown hand to his lips and kissed the back of it, then rubbed it against his cheek.
*
Chakotay looked at him uncertainly, yet allowed him to touch at will. Dark brown eyes exuded trust in his direction and Tom felt both sorry and gratified at once. He had never really taken the time to think of what Chakotay had to deal with, mentally or emotionally, by being with him. Most of his energy had been focused on chasing the older man and catching him.
*
Then there had been all the other people who had inserted themselves into his life lately. He turned Chakotay's hand over and pressed his lips against the palm in a fervent kiss. But, before Chakotay could open his mouth, Tom pulled him close and kissed him, stilling any protest that might slip past those full, wonderfully expressive lips.
*
When his lover tried to pull away and speak, Tom hushed him and quietly said, "Let me show you what I really want. I know we have time before we need to follow the padd's instructions."
*
At Chakotay's skeptical glance, Tom released his hold and stood up. Then he untied his robe and let it fall to the floor. Standing there naked in front of Chakotay, offering to share his innermost desires directly, without any games, was terrifying. Still, he opted to put his soul on the line and do it.
*
He thought briefly of Harry's intent to commit himself to the mothers of his children and realized that if he wanted to be with Chakotay for the rest of his life, he needed to commit, too. Even if it was done in another fashion, he could open up his heart; it would be a truth-telling without any subterfuge...for the first time in his life.
*
Chakotay peered up at him and blinked, then licked his lips and asked, "What do you want me to do?"

END OF PART 19

Comments? Suggestions?
E-mail me at Britta

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Susurrations, Part 20