Susurrations, Part 9


By Britta

*
"Calm down, Mr. Paris. The Commander will be fine."
*
Tom hovered and fidgeted uselessly as the Doctor scanned Chakotay. He'd ordered both of them beamed directly to Sickbay once he realized he was kissing an unconscious man. Fuck. It was just his luck that something like this would happen when he finally made up his mind to declare himself.
*
At first, he'd thought the worst when Chakotay hadn't responded to him but then he noted the cool, clammy skin and labored breathing of his lover. Moments later, they were here and he now paced back and forth waiting for the Doctor to speak.
*
He'd tried to offer his assistance when they arrived but was shooed away after being told in no uncertain terms that he was too upset to be of any help. Frustrated, he stared at his boots as he walked around and attempted to convince himself that everything would be okay.
*
Finally, the Doctor turned to him and said, "Why don't you comm the Captain and explain to her that there has been a slight accident. Tell her that the two of you will be remaining here until I see fit to release you. You may use my office, if you wish."
*
Tom nodded tensely and did as the Doctor suggested.
*

++++

*
Chakotay blinked and tried to sit up but was firmly restrained by a very strong holographic hand pressing down on his shoulder. "What happened?" he rasped out as he tried to look around the room.
*
"You have one cracked and one broken rib. Two others are bruised. You also sustained a small perforation of your left lung, making it difficult for you to breathe." The Doctor rattled off the number of his injuries with the same amount of emotion as one would enumerate items on a grocery list.
*
"Oh." Chakotay just managed to get the word out before going limp on the biobed once again.
*
He felt the Doctor open his jacket, then push up his turtleneck and undershirt. Opening his eyes slowly, he saw sophisticated deep tissue and bone regeneration equipment aimed at his chest.
*
"Can you explain to me how these injuries occurred?" the Doctor asked seriously.
*
"I...don't know--can't remember. Ask Tom, he was there." Chakotay closed his eyes again and grimaced in pain.
*
With a raised eyebrow, the Doctor asked rhetorically, "Why am I not surprised by that?"
*
Chakotay frowned at the Doctor's tone but before he could speak, their physician continued, "Don't worry, Commander. I'll go easy on him but I *will* discover the truth behind this incident."
*

++++

*
Tom crept out of their physician's office and watched quietly from a distance as the Doctor worked on Chakotay. He had informed the Captain of their whereabouts and promised a full report later, as soon as he knew the extent of Chakotay's injuries. Puzzled by the situation, he wondered what the hell had happened. Jeez, all he did was jump the guy and tell him that he loved him.
*
Pondering that last thought, he realized how true it was. He was in love with Chakotay. It was a warm feeling that settled deep in his gut and yet it was also an explosive emotion that threatened to erupt and overwhelm him at times.
*
He began walking again and pondered with some awe at how quickly the feeling had grown from simple, sheer lustful wanting into so much more. Getting nowhere with his speculation, he shrugged it off as something he would probably never understand, then focused his attention on what the Doctor was doing.
*
How Tom wished he could help. Damn. He hated being relegated to the sidelines this way. What the hell was taking so long? Was this all his fault?
*
Lost in his thoughts, he frowned, worried, and paced until the Doctor sneaked up on him and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, he whirled and demanded, "What?"
*
The Doctor stepped back and replied placidly, "Relax, Lieutenant. I just need to speak with you for a moment."
*
Still feeling jumpy, Tom glared at his sometime boss then nodded.
*
"Please join me in my office."
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"What about Commander Chakotay? What was wrong with him?" Tom wasn't about to budge without some answers.
*
The Doctor grabbed his arm and pulled, "As I stated earlier, he will be fine. Now come along. That's an order."
*
With a last, lingering glance at Chakotay, Tom was swept into the Doctor's private domain.
*

++++

*
Captain Janeway sat in the Briefing Room after dismissing those of her senior staff who had shown up for the morning meeting. She ran over the events of the last few days and winced at her own behavior toward her First Officer and Tom Paris.
*
Tom was special to her and so was Chakotay. In different ways, they each had captured places in her heart. She felt ashamed that it took the advice of a relative outsider to help her clarify her feelings about the two of them getting together. But then again, perhaps that was just what she needed: some distance and a fresh perspective.
*
Never one to shirk her duty, she resolved to apologize to both of them personally, once they were allowed out of Sickbay. She took another sip of coffee and looked up at her new best friend who stood behind her and offered much more than moral support. Reaching a hand over her shoulder she clasped his warmly.
*
"Thank you, Neelix."
*
He leaned down and kissed the top of her head, saying, "You're welcome, my dear."
*

++++

*
Chakotay heard people yelling in the distance and Tom's voice was one of them. Concerned, he tried to get to his feet to see what was happening. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful as an alarm went off as soon as he sat up and swung his legs off the bed.
*
The Doctor appeared in front of him almost instantly, as did Tom, who waved his hands in a gesture of frustration. "I *told* you it was an accident! All I did was fall on top of him. If I'd *wanted* to hurt him, I would have done a much better job of it," Tom stated imperiously.
*
He saw Tom's angry red face staring at the Doctor who kept trying to step in between them protectively. He figured out that there was a huge misunderstanding going on and decided to do something about it. Forced to stay seated on the biobed due to his dizziness and doubting his ability to make himself heard, he gripped the edge of the bed with one hand and waited until the Doctor got close enough, then he swung his leg and lightly kicked him in his holographic butt.
*
Startled, the Doctor turned around only to find himself shoved out of the way as Tom moved gently and smoothly into Chakotay's outstretched arms.
*

++++

*
Watching the two men hug each other and seeing Tom's concern for what it really was, the Doctor pursed his lips and said, "I see I have misread the situation between the two of you. For that, I do apologize."
*
Leaving an arm around Chakotay's shoulders, Tom turned toward the Doctor and replied more calmly, "It's okay, don't worry about it."
*
Chakotay leaned against Tom and nodded. "Your confusion is...understandable," he said quietly.
*
The Doctor just stared at them for a moment, then he stated somewhat pompously, "Lieutenant Paris, you are to escort the Commander to his quarters and make sure he gets there safely. He is to rest comfortably for the remainder of the day."
*
"Yes, sir," Tom answered with a smile.
*
"There is one other thing," the Doctor remarked.
*
"What's that?" Tom asked, as he helped Chakotay get to his feet.
*
The Doctor moved to stand in front of both men. "Due to the injuries to his ribs and lung, he is not to engage in *any* activity that would cause heavy breathing. Do I make myself clear?"
*
Tom's smile evaporated as quickly as it had appeared. "Yes, sir."
*
As he and a subdued Commander turned to leave, the Doctor added, "I will report to the Captain all the pertinent details of this episode and inform her that you, Mr. Paris, will be available for duty in approximately thirty minutes."
*
Both men nodded their acceptance and shuffled out the door.
*

++++

*
They entered Chakotay's cabin and looked at each other bleakly.
*
"I'm sorry, Chakotay. I didn't mean to hurt you."
*
"I know you didn't. Don't worry about it."
*
Tom frowned and replied, "I can't help but worry. I hate having to leave you here all alone like this."
*
Chakotay gave him a kiss and said, "I'll go to bed and get some sleep." He moved into the bedroom, began to take off his uniform and spied the little plastic card on his dresser.
*
Following on his heels, Tom watched quietly as his lover disrobed.
*
Once tucked into bed, Chakotay said, "I forgot to give you the card you found in that cabin belowdecks. It's up there on the bureau. When you have a chance, try to find out if anyone knows anything about it, okay?"
*
Tom retrieved it and leaned down for a kiss. "Thanks for giving me something to distract me for the rest of the day."
*
The older man just smiled then drifted off to sleep unaware that Tom stood watching over him until the last possible second before he had to leave.
*

++++

*
Harry cornered Tom in the turbolift as soon they set off for lunch. "What happened to you this morning? Why did the Captain call you into her Ready Room as soon as you got to the bridge? Is everything all right?"
*
Tom stared at his best friend and wondered where to begin. His mind was still in turmoil over his unintentionally injuring Chakotay, the Captain's apologizing to him, the mystery of the little transparent card and the advice he needed to pass along to Harry.
*
Dark eyes bored into his own and a hand shook his shoulder. "Hey, buddy, are you with me?"
*
Jerking himself back into focus, he replied, "Yeah. I'm here. I need to check on Chakotay though. Then I want to talk to you. Will you come with me? It'll only take a minute."
*
Concerned, Harry patted Tom's shoulder. "Sure. No problem." He wondered what was going on as he'd never seen Tom so distracted before. It was as if he were being pulled in several different directions all at once. He was amazed that Tom could manage to fly the ship considering his state of mind.
*

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*
Chakotay checked the time and found he'd slept through lunch. After the Captain's impromptu visit in the morning, he'd fallen asleep again. Now he wondered when he'd see Tom. He'd expected him to show up earlier but apparently that hadn't happened.
*
He wasn't tired anymore and thumped his chest a few times, sucking in a few deep breaths just to see if anything hurt. Nothing did. The Doctor must have done a great job, he thought.
*
Recalling the libido-squashing orders that the Doctor had announced as he and Tom left Sickbay, he decided to go see how long they would be in effect. He rose and put on his uniform intent on getting himself cleared for 'full duty.' However, before he could make it past the replicator, his stomach reminded him that he had missed two meals.
*
Realizing it wouldn't do him any good to go see the Doctor with low blood sugar, he thought it would help if he got something to eat. Plus, he admitted to himself, he was really very hungry.
*

++++

*
Tom sat at the helm dispirited with the events of the day so far. He and Harry had sneaked into Chakotay's quarters only to find him sound asleep. They then went to the mess hall to get lunch. He'd flashed the little card under Harry's nose but all he got was a shrug in response.
*
The only good thing that occurred had been watching Harry's smile grow as he'd passed along the information about Dalby. Just seeing the enthused look on Harry's face was enough to lighten his mood from the dull gray of worry it had sunk into earlier.
*
As his fingers automatically made slight course corrections, he focused on Harry's hopefulness and was grateful that he'd done something right. Sneaking peeks at Harry's frowns of concentration and trying to imagine the thoughts running around in his buddy's brain was enough to get him through the rest of his shift without running the ship into a planet or an asteroid or even something worse.
*
When his relief arrived, he jumped up from the conn and sprinted into the turbolift calling out Chakotay's deck.
*

++++

*
The Commander had prevailed upon the Doctor to release him. If not fit for 'full duty', at least he had permission to go work in his office and to 'resume other, more intimate activities, within reason' as their C.M.O. formally phrased it.
*
Relieved, Chakotay sat and went over reports, trying to find a pattern in the last few months' statistics that might give him more clues to the mystery involving the unused cabins and secret replicator activity.
*
Looking over the basic elements that had been replicated for the umpteenth time, suddenly a light dawned and he began to understand. He grinned as a few of the puzzle pieces fell into place.
*
Theories that he'd been entertaining were discarded instantly and a host of new questions arose to take their place. He needed more information to test his new hypothesis. He hoped Tom would turn up something with that card he'd found.
*

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*
Receiving no answer at Chakotay's door, Tom assumed he'd gone to dinner early and headed for the mess hall. He wasn't surprised; after all, his lover missed breakfast and had apparently slept through lunch.
*
Tom breezed into the mess hall and looked around. No sign of Chakotay. Damn. Intending to ask the computer for the Commander's location, he turned to leave but Neelix caught up to him and patted him on the back to get his attention.
*
"Tom?"
*
"What?"
*
"I heard about what happened," Neelix said softly.
*
Tom turned to face Neelix and asked, "Who else knows? Other than the Captain. Is it common knowledge that I flattened my boyfriend and sent him to Sickbay?"
*
Neelix exuded a small burst of his calming pheromones and tugged Tom over to an out of the way table. "Be quiet and listen to me for a minute."
*
Paris nodded and allowed himself to be led. Once seated, he waited for Neelix to speak.
*
The Talaxian looked around the room, scanning the occupants and their possible needs, then sat down beside him. Satisfied that everyone could take care of themselves, Neelix stated gently, "Very few people know what happened, and those who do know it was accidental. Don't worry, Tom, we're all on your side."
*
Tom replied, "You are?" He began playing with the small plastic card he carried, nervously flipping it over and over and tapping it on the table.
*
"Yes, Tom. We all care about you and the Commander. It's good that you're with him. He's been alone so long." Neelix tried to convince Tom that he was being sincere but wasn't certain he was successful.
*
Sighing at Neelix's speech, Tom looked over at the golden-eyed man and realized that he, too, was taking a huge risk with his own heart. What a pair they were. He almost laughed out loud at that thought, but then leaned forward and grasped Neelix's hand in his own. "Thank you," he said. "I appreciate your support more than you know."
*
Neelix smiled and shook Tom's hand. "As you once said to me, 'If there's anything I can do to help....'"
*
Nodding, another idea occurred to him and he said, "There is something you might be able to do for me." He then laid the card on the table and asked, "Do you know anything about this?"
*
The expression on Neelix's face changed enough to make Tom worry. Several moments passed before the Talaxian answered and when he did, he sounded almost sorrowful.
*
"Tom?"
*
"Yeah?" he answered, leaning forward expectantly.
*
Haltingly, Neelix said, "I don't mean to pry but I must ask why you and Commander Chakotay would need these services."
*
Bewildered, Tom just stared at Neelix.
*
His spots darkened as Neelix continued, "I mean, you've only been together for such a short time...why would you need to spice up your sex life?"
*

END OF PART NINE
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Susurrations, Part 10