Artwork (c) 2002 by Voyeur. All Rights Reserved.
Picking up the burden of command once again, I headed straight for the Captain's ready room, noting that she was not in her usual place on the bridge.
As I expected, she had her nose pointed at a padd. There were several of them scattered around, proving that she'd been back on duty for quite some time. I have always maintained that she worked harder than anyone else.
She looked up at me and then gave me the eye. "You look better. How do you feel?" No preamble, just jump right in. She was definitely in work mode.
"I feel fine. How about you? Did you get any rest?" I sat down next to her.
She waved a hand impatiently, "I got plenty of rest, thank you. Tuvok wouldn't let me do a damned thing all night long." I smiled at her and she mock frowned, shoving a padd at me. "Let's get to it."
Several hours later we broke for dinner, having mapped out a tentative plan of action that would take us through the next few months. It seemed we were headed for an extremely empty region of space. According to Neelix, it was very safe and the chances of us meeting up with anyone else were quite slim. By the tone of his voice, I gathered that this was the Delta Quadrant's equivalent of "Dullsville."
The Captain and I figured we could clear up the backlog of reports by tomorrow night. Then we could make plans on how best to utilize the easy weeks ahead. I commed Tom and he agreed to meet me in the mess hall. I thought it was good that I'd be tied up for a couple of days, because I sensed he needed some thinking room. He's not into self analysis very much but sometimes things won't leave you alone unless you deal with them. For him, our relationship was one of those things.
We met in the corridor outside the mess hall, exchanging hugs and a kiss or two. We went in and selected the least objectionable of the entrees, found a table and sat down.
Before going through the gustatory ordeal facing us, he said, "I missed you. You weren't on the bridge at all today."
"I missed you, too. We had a lot of things to take care of. Did anything exciting happen?"
A look of scorn crossed his face, "Hell, no. It was a spectacularly boring day at the helm."
I chuckled, thinking that he'd be seeing many more just like it. Then another thought struck me and the problem with what to do with the crew over the next months crystallized in my mind.
Finally pushing our plates away, I was so busy thinking of all the details of my plan, looking forward to laying it out before the Captain, that Tom broke into my reverie. "So, Chakotay, when's it gonna be?" He shot me an impish grin.
It took me a moment to figure out what he was talking about but once I did, I thought he was being very single-minded. I guess he hated not knowing. Well, I did say I'd tell him at dinner so I stated, "Meet me in my quarters at 1800 the day after tomorrow."
"The day after tomorrow! Why then?" he looked dismayed.
I explained, "I won't have any free time until then, that's why. You can use the time to think and do other things. Play some pool with Harry. Go out and have some fun." He'd need some fun now, because, if the Captain agreed to implement my plan, Tom wouldn't be at the helm for quite some time.
His expression changed and he said, "Oh, OK. Will I get to see you at all before then?"
I saw the hope in his eyes and replied, "I'll do my best to have dinner with you tomorrow night. Other than that, I can make no promises." I downed the last of my water and he nodded.
Together we stood and cleared the table. I kissed him good night and went back to the ready room, anxious to see if my plan would be approved.
I spent the next day reviewing report after report, my mind divided between the mundane details of living aboard a starship and wishing I could start on my next project. Janeway had given me her approval to go ahead with my plan and even Tuvok agreed that it was logical and would benefit the crew in a number of ways, both individually and as a whole.
What I had in mind was stepping up the cross training of the entire crew. Tom was already spending some time in Sickbay and now he'd have the chance to spend much more, whether he liked it or not. The rest of the crew were in the same boat.
We didn't have a pool of replacements readily available and to that end, everybody had to learn to do a least one other job, preferably two. They didn't need to become an expert at all three but had to get the basics down pat. It was also prudent to make sure the crucial areas of functionality were well covered for everyone. After all, one never knew what could happen.
A side benefit of this arrangement would be that it would keep the crew occupied by doing something constructive while we transited this area of uninteresting space. They could also work shortened shifts and spend the remaining time training others. All students would also be teachers. It would also serve to introduce a different sort of stress which, in its own way, would be refreshing.
Many of the junior crew needed to spend time on the bridge and working at critical stations around the ship just so they'd get used to it and not fall apart at the seams should they ever be put to the test where the situation and circumstances were much different.
On a personal level, I saw this as an opportunity for Tom to explore both mental and emotional issues. I knew he and the Doctor didn't always get along. This could become a very valuable learning experience for him. I also looked forward to dealing with new challenges myself.
I knew I, too, needed a break from routine so did the Captain and Tuvok. All officers, especially senior officers, need a diversion every now and then, one that would allow them to refocus their energies without feeling that they were slacking or failing to set a stellar example for the crew.
The senior officers were among the most difficult for which to determine cross-training assignments. Seven, although she was not technically a senior officer, seemed to be part of the group by virtue of her knowledge and unique place in our ship's community. Due to recent events in her redevelopment as a human being, she was the easiest to deal with.
Tom, of course, would continue his medical training. He would also be spending some time with me learning how to handle administrivia and understanding its attendant important reasons for existing. I thought I'd turn him into a responsible adult yet.
I was lucky, in that as Captain of my own ship in the Maquis, I knew my own crew's strengths and weaknesses intimately. I knew who needed what training and how best to utilize their abilities. The one exception was Lt. Torres. I couldn't put her anywhere near Tom or half a dozen other people due to grudges or just plain bad blood.
She'd surely poison us all if I sent her to the kitchen. After sorting through the possibilities, I decided to place her in Security as well as the airponics bay. Tuvok was the only other person on Voyager who could control her.
As for Tuvok himself, he was already performing two jobs, Tactical and Security and I thought he needed something to balance those. A touch of life seemed to be called for so I relegated him to the airponics bay as well.
Kim was a given to go to Engineering but he also needed something to break up his routine. I thought sending him to the Biophysics lab might be a good idea.
The Doctor could do whatever he wanted but I had a feeling that all he'd enjoy would be lecturing. It seemed his memory engrams were focused on being pedantic.
All that remained were the Captain and myself. What did she need? She had no patience for cooking: I learned that on our sojourn on New Earth. She was competent, as was I, in just about everything so what to do? I decided to leave us till last and continued signing off reports until dinner time rolled around. Tom commed me and I agreed to meet him in his quarters.
He seemed happy to see me even though I told him I could only spare an hour. He had a glint in his eye as he removed my jacket then shed all his clothing. Naked, he wandered over to the replicator inquiring, "Would you like a drink?"
Wondering what he was up to, I responded, "Just tea, please." I still had more than a few reports to get through and yet another meeting with Kathryn. I had to keep my wits about me.
He returned and set a steaming cup on the table in front of me. He said, "Here you go, enjoy. Now what would you like for dinner?" Spreading his hands apart, he went on, "I owe you for breakfast the other day. This is my treat and I want to give you something in return for all you gave me."
Gods, I thought, what should I do? I knew the status of his account, he was flush right now. He must've won quite a bit last night after I'd left him. Still, I had work to do and very little time to spare so I requested, "May I have a Caesar salad?"
He looked vaguely disappointed, as if replicating mostly vegetables was beneath him but he performed his best waiter's bow and went back to the replicator.
Soon thereafter I was presented with a huge pile of greenery, among other sundry items. He brought soup and a plate of cheese and crackers for himself. We ate quietly, no doubt each of us trying to read the other's mind.
I couldn't let go of the feeling that he needed space and I needed to get rid of those damned reports which were hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles.
We both finished our meals quickly and he checked the time. We had almost 30 minutes left. He cleared the table and led me to the small sofa in the living area. Then he lifted my feet to rest on the coffee table and settled himself on his side with his head in my lap. He lay facing me and I idly stroked his hair and face, petting him as I leaned back and relaxed. He didn't move for a few minutes, letting me do as I wished. My hand wandered down to his shoulder and then he turned his head slightly and deliberately breathed on me. Right through my trousers, I felt hot, damp air surround my cock. It was enough to stir my libido. I shifted a little and he did it again.
I sighed and looked into his eyes which were trying hard and failing to disguise his amusement. I mean, how could I berate him for breathing? He knew exactly what he was doing. I gave in and let him win this round. After all, tomorrow was another day.
My cock grew hard and he watched as the shape of the bulge in my pants changed. A couple of minutes later he dared to ask a question, "Cha?"
"Hmmmmmmm?" I was determined to make him work for it.
"Um, you look like you need something."
"Oh? And what might that be?" I ran a fingertip around his ear.
He licked his lips and replied, "A little loving attention, perhaps?"
I smiled both inwardly and outwardly. He was being so obvious--and so coy about it. I knew we didn't have time for everything but I figured if he wanted to suck me off that badly, why not let him? "You want to do something for me? Want to provide that loving attention?"
He breathed harder on my cloth-encased erection and moved closer to the object of his desire. "Yesss."
"In that case, you may do so." I removed my hands from his body and gave him free rein to do as he wished.
He turned and unfastened my pants using a hand to delve inside, freeing my cock. Then he crouched next to me on his knees, curled up into a ball and sucked me like there was no tomorrow.
I ran one hand down his spine, feeling every single vertebra. With the other, I held his head, not guiding, not demanding, just letting him know I was there.
His touch was calculated to make me come hard and fast. He knew I didn't have time to spare. He brought me off in a few minutes, sucking me greedily even after I was spent. When I became too sensitive to take any more stimulation, I swatted him on the ass and he stopped. He rose warily, not knowing if he should and so I helped him upright, ending his confusion.
He sat on his heels next to me, his own hard cock in full view. I re-fastened my pants and stood up saying, "That was just what I needed. Thank you." He literally jumped off the couch and into my arms.
"Good. I'm so glad I could be of service." He gave me a smug look.
"Thank you for dinner, too. I enjoyed it."
I kissed him long and lovingly and then took myself off to rejoin the Captain. As I rode the turbolift, I wondered if he was jacking off at the moment. It looked like that was his only option when I left. I would have loved to stay and play some more but duty called. Sometimes, I wanted to say 'Fuck duty'. This was one of those times.
I spent the next day almost normally, being once again on the bridge. What Neelix said was true: this was a star desert. There wasn't anything even remotely interesting around us. Everyone was bored. Diagnostics were being run just as a matter of course. Tom was nervous. I watched him closely as the day wore on and if anything, his nervousness increased the closer we came to the end of shift. I knew what was on his mind.
My reports were finished, the Captain and I went back to our regular schedule of meetings and it looked like I'd get to indulge myself with plotting the cross-training assignments over the next few days. Although I had ideas, working out the actual times and shifts was going to be like working a particularly difficult word and number puzzle.
An hour before shift end, I went to my office to catch up on a few things. Imagine my surprise to find a request from Dalby to come see me. It looked like Tom was right. I scheduled a few appointments and took care of some loose ends, then went to my cabin to wait for Tom. It was time to take care of some business. I was certain he would come out of this evening having learned something new about me.
My door chimed promptly at 1800. He entered the room and I greeted him with a hug and a kiss. He said, "Hi, I'm not late, am I?" His nervousness had not abated one iota. Maybe he sensed that this time would be very different.
I reassured him, "No, you're on time." Tugging lightly at his uniform, I ordered, "Take it off."
He began unfastening his jacket and I moved to the couch. No need to make him wait any longer. It was time for him to pay the price and get it over with.
When he was naked, I motioned for him to come and stand beside me. He was practically trembling at that point. I took his hand in mine and asked, "You know why you're here?"
"To pay the penalty I agreed to a few days ago."
"Are you still willing to keep up your end of the bargain?" I looked up at him in all seriousness.
He gazed at me curiously and said, "May I ask a question?" His hand gripped mine tightly.
He looked worried. "What would happen if I said 'no'?"
I replied, "If you were unwilling to pay the penalty you agreed to, I would tell you to get dressed and we would go have dinner in the mess hall. I'd be very disappointed that you did not honor our agreement and I would never again make any deals or bargains with you. Is that enough of an answer?"
He thought about it for a minute and I watched the ramifications pass through his mind. This wasn't about just paying for something. It was also about making promises and keeping one's word. It was about trust. If he reneged now, I wouldn't be able to trust him again. This was an exercise in accountability. He came to a decision and I saw his expression change to one of comprehension. He'd agreed to this, no matter what it might entail. He decided to go through with it rather than lose my trust for all time.
Heaving a great sigh, he said, "It's all the answer I needed. Thank you. I'm willing to hold up my end of the deal. Let's get on with it." He looked at me honestly and I was glad that he'd had the courage to ask a hard question.
"All right. Come down here." I pulled him across my lap and then reached around to place his cock and balls out of the way, between my legs. This was going to be quite different from his previous experience over my knees and now he knew it as well.
I parted his legs and settled him precisely where I wanted. Letting my right hand rest on his butt for a moment, I caressed his face with my left and asked, "Are you ready?"
"Yes." He closed his eyes and I raised my hand.
I spanked him harder this time. It went on for quite a while, too. He was paying a penalty and this was not about pleasure. This was to let him know that I take penalties, promises and the breaking of my rules very seriously. He shifted once or twice but did not squirm as much as I expected.
Before his ass began to resemble an overripe tomato, I stopped. I let him alone for a few minutes, just resting my hands on his back and leg. Stroking him gently, I said softly, "It's over. You took it well. Maybe next time you won't be in such a rush to make a deal, hmm?"
He remained silent and I let him lie there, resting and thinking and feeling the pain that comes in waves with every heartbeat. After several minutes I reached for the soothing cream that played a part in what was becoming a post-punishment ritual for us.
Sighing, he said, "That hurt."
"I know. It was supposed to. That's why it's called a penalty," I explained while spreading the cream over his heated skin. I'd done a proper job this time. No area was left untouched, not even the tenderest bits.
"Will all your penalties be like this one?" He grimaced as I applied some cream to the sensitive spot where cheek and thigh meet.
"No, not necessarily. But because of the nature of penalties in general, you can bet they won't be pleasant. They may or may not be as painful as this."
He shifted a little as I spread his thighs further apart and let my hand wander between them. He remarked, "You take this stuff seriously."
I answered, "I take lots of things seriously. I take *you* seriously." Slowly I trailed my fingers along the crack of his ass and he shivered.
"I know you do. That's one thing I really like about you. With you, I feel like I matter. You actually care about me and what I do. Even when you punish me, I feel loved." He wiggled a little and settled himself more completely over my lap, as if he needed to be there.
"You are loved, Tom." I looked at him directly. "I love you." Damn, this was *not* how I pictured telling Tom I loved him. But then again, the time was right and I couldn't not say it.
He scrambled awkwardly off my lap not saying a word and I wondered what was going through his mind. His expression for once, didn't give anything away. Turning, he straddled my legs and carefully sat down. He took my face into his hands and stared into my eyes. "Say it again."
"I love you." I put my arms around him and waited.
He leaned forward and kissed me. Just once. "You mean it. I can tell by your eyes."
"You don't know how much it means to me to hear you say it." He sighed. "I feel your love when you touch me, when you look at me. Hell, I hear it in your voice. But saying the words out loud makes it all so real. It's incredible." He kissed me again. "I love you like I've never loved anyone else before. It's amazing when I'm with you. I feel like it's the greatest adventure of my life."
"It can be. There are so many things I want to explore with you." I ran the back of my fingers over his cheek and down his jaw.
"I want that, too. You'll have to lead the way, though, because I have no idea where we're going." He smiled at me and just then his stomach growled.
I laughed and hugged him then said, "I think right now, we're headed for the mess hall. Put your clothes on and let's go get dinner."
Dinner consisted of something but if you asked either one of us what it was, we couldn't tell you. I was floating in a wonderful loving haze and I'm sure Tom was on Cloud Nine. We were oblivious to everyone and everything except one another. People didn't come near us. Perhaps we projected our complete concentration on each other outward and it acted like a shield. Who knew? All I cared about was Tom. I wanted to take him home and spend the rest of the night making love to him.
When I finished, I pushed my tray aside and said, "Are you ready to go?"
He looked down at the remainder of his meal and replied, "Yes. I don't know about you but I want to get out of here and do something, anything, to put this out of my mind and my mouth."
"Sounds like a good idea to me." I stood and reached for our trays, intending to get rid of them quickly but Tom put a hand on my arm, to stop me.
He looked slightly concerned and inquired, "Just what was it that we ate? I'm not sure I understand your dietary standards."
I grinned and said, "If it moves of its own volition, I won't eat it. Neelix knows that. I made it clear to him a long time ago. So don't worry about what tonight's dinner was. It can't have been something too awful."
Relieved, he said, "Good. It's just that you can't tell by the colors whether or not he's snuck something past you."
I smiled. "Yeah, I know what you mean. He has different ideas of what constitutes real food." We took our trays away and headed back to my quarters. "Will you stay with me tonight?" I asked as we entered the turbolift.
He looked amused, as if I had to ask and said, "Yes. I'd like to stay. In fact, I'd like to stay as often as I can. Is that OK with you?"
I turned and kissed him, then answered seriously, "You can stay with me any time you like. I'm more than willing to take you into my bed, my heart, my life. It's up to you how far you want to go." I hoped that he would want to go the distance and commit to me totally but I knew it was far too soon for that to happen.
END OF PART 6
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Taming of Tom Paris, Part 7