Undaunted, Part 9


By Britta

*
Tom walked over to Chakotay wondering what the Captain had said to put such an expression on his lover's face. The underpinnings of jealousy were awakened when he saw Chakotay's concern for the Captain expressed so openly.
*
He stopped at his CO's side and leaned down for a kiss. "Hi. I got your message and here I am." He hoped his voice didn't betray his shadowy fears.
*
Preoccupied, Chakotay asked, "How is your tongue?"
*
"It's fine."
*
"Let me see."
*
Tom obediently stuck his tongue out and Chakotay kissed it.
*
Surprised, Tom sat down and said, "That's the second time you've done that. What gives?"
*
"Done what?"
*
Tom blushed. "Kissed me in odd places."
*
"What's so odd about them? I'm just doing for you what you did for me."
*
Tom frowned slightly. "What are you talking about?"
*
Chakotay grinned as he sipped some water. "Remember our first date?"
*
"Yeah. As if I could ever forget.... What about it?"
*
"Think back to what you did after you used the regenerator on me."
*
Tom scrunched up his face and stared at his lover, thinking hard. All he could recall was feeling like shit because he'd hurt the man. After a few moments of wracking his brain, he gave up. "I don't remember. What did I do?"
*
Chakotay took Tom's hand and gave it a squeeze then smiled. "You kissed it to make it all better."
*
"I did?" Tom asked incredulously.
*
"Yes. You did. So I have kissed your wounds that were my fault, to do the same for you." Chakotay explained this with the same patience he had shown Janeway as she vented her spleen.
*
Tom was still confused and not a little amazed that he didn't recall doing that. "Then why did you kiss my ass the other night?"
*
"It was my fork," Chakotay explained.
*
The light finally dawned and Tom smiled widely. "I get it now. Thank you." He was touched. It appeared that Chakotay had hidden depths of tenderness stored inside him and that made Tom very happy. He wondered what else was buried inside the man.
*
"You're welcome. Have you eaten?" Chakotay asked, uncomfortable with the public intimacy of their previous conversation.
*
"No. I'm not that hungry right now. I don't want a whole meal." Tom yawned and gazed at Chakotay forgetting all about his burgeoning jealousy as the XO offered his plate to him.
*
"I got enough food to feed an army. Share it with me?" the Commander proffered his fork, handle first and tines down.
*
Tom just looked at him and replied, "Sure. Thanks."
*
"Any time, lover. What's mine is yours." Chakotay smiled and sipped some water as Tom helped himself to various items on the plate.
*
He watched Tom eat and thought it was good they had the day off. He wanted to spend some time being close to Tom after last night's near miss of coitus interruptus. Maybe they could explore his toybox this afternoon. But first he wanted to know something else. "Tom?"
*
"Hmm?" His mouth was full.
*
"Why did you have to go to Sickbay?"
*
Tom chewed and swallowed, drinking out of Chakotay's glass as if it were his own. "The Doc called me in to help patch people up who'd been tossed around by my mad flying last night. He wanted me to see the results of my actions. At least that's what he *said*. I really think he wanted me to see what he did with your fork." He grimaced as he pushed the plate back across the table.
*
"My fork? What did he do?" Chakotay resumed eating while Tom explained.
*
"He framed it."
*
"What!"
*
"Yep. It's hung on the wall for all to see with my blood still there on the tips of the tines. He even has a sign with arrows on it pointing out that fact."
*
"You're kidding, right?" Chakotay couldn't believe it.
*
Tom snorted and went on, "Oh, it doesn't say that it's the blood of Tom Paris but since it's dried to brown, it does say that it's blood. Then there's the medical warning that says something along the lines of, 'Beware! This is what can occur if you try to have sex in the mess hall.' And to top it all off, he's put up a picture of my ass with the puncture wounds right next to the fork!" Tom's face was as red as it had ever been and he felt utterly ridiculous.
*
Chakotay had listened to Tom's description of the situation with rising amusement and by this time could barely contain his laughter. It took all the control he had to remain silent. He couldn't even eat any more because he was afraid of spitting food across the table.
*
After several moments of fighting it, he lost the battle and began to chuckle. At Tom's tightened lips and over-bright eyes, the chuckles turned into chortles and before long they were both as close to rolling on the floor as they could be without actually doing so.
*
They laughed long and hard, tears streaming from their eyes until Neelix got so concerned that he came over to join them.
*
"Um, excuse me, sirs but are you all right? Are you having a reaction to something you ate?" Neelix looked from one hysterical man to the other, feeling out of his depth. He certainly hoped that his cooking wasn't to blame for their outbreak of emotion.
*
He looked around the mess hall and was relieved to see it was empty with the exception of the three of them. Good, that way if it was his fault, no one else would ever know. He debated whether or not to call the Doctor but decided to wait until the two men calmed down some more. Their full belly laughs were slowly subsiding into a more manageable form of merriment.
*
Tom reached out a hand and grabbed Neelix's arm saying, "We're fine. Really. It's not your fault. Everything's copacetic. Life is good. Relax and enjoy." Then he burst into fresh laughter again.
*
Chakotay could see that Neelix was still confused. He said reassuringly, "It really is OK. We just haven't had enough sleep."
*
Neelix looked at the First Officer uncertainly. "Well, if you say so Commander, I'll take your word for it."
*
"Do that. Tom and I are going home now to get some rest. We'll see you later." With that, he hauled Tom to his feet and put his arm around his still giggling lover. He realized then that Tom was indeed exhausted.
*
Tom managed to call out, "Take it easy, Neelix or any other way you can get it!" as Chakotay led him out of the mess hall and back to his quarters.
*
Once there, Chakotay decided naps were in order. He stripped Tom and tucked him into his side of the bed, then removed his own clothes and joined his lover hoping to get the cuddling he'd missed last night. What he got instead what was a loud snore in his ear.
*
Sighing, he called for lights out and decided the toybox would just have to wait.
*

********************

*
Tom woke up sprawled across Chakotay, his face resting against the man's smooth chest. The Commander made a good pillow, Tom thought idly as his head rose and fell slightly with every breath his lover took. This was nice. He could hear Chakotay's heart beat. It had a strong, steady rhythm that made him think of the pulse of big, powerful engines.
*
Chakotay's hand rested on his ass and held him tightly even in sleep. It didn't feel confining though and Tom wondered why that was. When he took the time to think about it, he found it felt comforting somehow and not overly possessive at all.
*
Tom decided not to move and break the spell. He wanted to think about things and enjoy this situation for the moment. He was no lightweight and yet Chakotay's body supported him effortlessly. The light brown skin was warm and soft beneath him; beautiful to look at and fantastic to taste and touch. His lover smelled good too.
*
Shifting his position minutely, Tom wondered if he would like to wake up like this every morning for the rest of his life. After several moments of deep reflection, he came to the conclusion that it sure beat anything else in his experience so far. Waking up beside Chakotay for the rest of their lives could be wonderful. That made the answer an affirmative one, unless of course he found something even better.
*
Then he pondered that concept. How could he find something better if he was going to be faithful? Hadn't he already determined that he wouldn't fuck around any more?
*
Disturbed by the direction his thoughts were going, he eased away from the comfortable position he'd lain in and lifted his head to look down at Chakotay's sleeping countenance. With one hand, he reached above the bed and dialed the lights up a little. Not enough to wake the other man but enough for him to see the details of his lover's face.
*
There were tiny lines around the man's eyes and lips: lines that spoke of tears and laughter. Tom wondered which had been more prevalent in Chakotay's life. Had the tears come before, during or after the laughter? Was it a good mix or an uneven one like his own? He suspected now that the good times came early in his lover's life while the rest was a combination of strong, turbulent emotions.
*
For himself, he did not like to dwell on such topics. They were over and done with. The few happy memories he had were rarely reviewed since they were too closely tied to personal tragedies. Sighing, he looked again at Chakotay but this time he saw no lines of any kind. He saw only beauty. He also recognized maturity and strength and above all, stability.
*
This man could be his everything. His friend, lover and protector, if he allowed it. He wanted that very much but was still uncertain as to what would be expected of him. What would he have to give in exchange?
*
So far, Chakotay had put up with quite a lot from him and not just the accidents that seemed to plague them both but all that business with Harry, as well. Hmm, that reminded him. He ought to go see how his buddy was doing.
*
Remembering Chakotay's wishes in this respect, he leaned over and kissed the sleeping man until he woke.
*
"Mmm. Now that's how I like to wake up." Chakotay opened sleepy brown eyes and gazed at Tom contentedly.
*
"Oh yeah? So now I know." Tom leaned down for another kiss. "I need to see an Ensign about a head trip. Would you mind if I left you here alone until dinner?"
*
Chakotay pulled Tom down and wrapped his arms around him then answered, "Does this have anything to do with your long overdue explanation of his behavior lately?"
*
Tom chuckled. "Yes, it does."
*
Chakotay smiled and responded, "In that case I don't mind. I won't, however, be left here all alone. I need to check on a few things so how about I meet you for dinner at 1900?"
*
"Sounds like a plan." Tom kissed Chakotay once again then got up and hopped into the shower.
*
When he got out, Chakotay was dressed and ready to go.
*
Chakotay hugged Tom tightly then kissed him and said, "See you later."
*

Tom, standing there naked and bemused, watched Chakotay go to the door and slip his shoes on, still feeling the loving pat on the butt he'd been given as a promise of what would come later.
*
Smiling, Tom got dressed and went to see Harry.
*

********************

*
Chakotay went directly to Sickbay determined to give the Doctor a piece of his mind. Although he thought it was funny earlier, he hated the idea that Tom would be forced to see the reminder of such a humiliating incident every time he had to work there.
*
He breezed through the doors to Sickbay and activated the EMH.
*
"Please state--oh, it's you, Commander." The Doctor raked his holographic gaze over him and continued, "You do not appear to be injured. Is there something wrong with Lt. Paris? Has he backed up onto a spoon or a knife this time?"
*
"That's not funny."
*
Chakotay's serious demeanor seemed to finally get through to the Doctor and he cleared his throat, sort of. "Then what I can do for you, Commander?"
*
Chakotay took a moment to glance at the walls until he found the 'artwork' he was looking for. He strode over to the wall in question and saw that the exhibit Tom had described to him was a little smaller than he expected.
*
The fork was the same size but the image of Tom's ass was smaller and had been cropped so that you could only see part of a single butt cheek. There was enough showing that it was obvious it *was* a butt cheek but that was all.
*
Still, it was more than enough in Chakotay's opinion.
*
"Doctor, I would like to request that you move this latest addition of yours to somewhere less prominent, if you cannot see fit to remove it altogether."
*
The Doctor looked perplexed. "I don't understand. I thought I would make use of this to educate the crew. What is it that you object to? No one can tell whose posterior is being shown. No one knows what happened."
*
Chakotay looked at their physician and sighed. "Tom knows."
*
The Doctor frowned and ran a few subroutines trying to figure this out. A nanosecond later, he ventured, "This bothers the Lieutenant?"
*
"Yes. It also bothers me," Chakotay added as a further incentive to motivate the Doctor into moving the display elsewhere.
*
Giving up, for the moment, on figuring out just why it upset the Commander, the Doctor opted to do as he was asked. "Where should I put it, if not on the wall out here?"
*
Chakotay replied evenly, "How about in your office? Does Tom spend much time in there?"
*
The Doctor shook his head. "No. The Lieutenant rarely enters my office."
*
"Good. Then I suggest that you move your visual aid in there. If you find someone who needs to see it, you can show it to them privately. All right?"
*
The Doctor appeared to think this over, while in reality, a tiny part of him got stuck in an infinite loop wondering why either man would care about it in the first place. "Yes, Commander. I still don't quite understand just what it is that you object to but I will do as you ask."
*
Relieved, all Chakotay said was, "Thank you." He then turned and left without another word of explanation.
*

********************

*
Paris asked the computer for the location of Ensign Kim and was informed that Harry was in his quarters. That was a good thing, Tom thought, since he was already headed in that direction.
*
Smiling about everything and nothing in particular, he arrived and rang the chime. It took a few moments but eventually Harry answered.
*
Clad in his bathrobe and looking like hell, Harry saw Tom on his doorstep and said charily, "Come in."
*
Tom entered his friend's cabin and looked around, spying the clarinet and music stand in their usual places. This reminded him of other occasions when he had come here to spend the evening. These thoughts and memories raced through his mind until he found himself in the present moment once again and remembered why he'd come. "How are you doing, Harry?" he asked gently.
*
"I'm fine. You?" Harry wasn't sure what to say to Tom any more. He felt like he'd made a total ass of himself lately and was worried that it had affected their friendship.
*
"I'm doing great, now that I've caught up on my sleep. Speaking of which, you look like you could use some. Did I stop by at a bad time?"
*
"No. I wasn't asleep yet. Have a seat. Want anything to drink?" He waved Tom toward the couch and went to the replicator.
*
"Water's fine."
*
"OK." Harry returned with two glasses and handed one to Tom then sat at his table.
*
They sipped in silence for a few moments, eyeing each other until Tom grinned. "So Chakotay really got to you, didn't he?"
*
Harry studied the table top as if it were a priceless work of art. His color rose and he mumbled, "Yeah. It surprised me. I've never reacted that way to a guy before."
*
"Well, don't worry about it. Personally, I can't figure out why anybody wouldn't react that way to him." Tom took another sip of water and leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees. "I mean, Harry, the guy is drop-dead gorgeous."
*
Harry looked up and into his friend's shining eyes and realized Tom was caught hook, line and sinker. He'd never seen him look like this when he was dating anyone else. Was it because Chakotay was a man? "Tom, can I ask you something?"
*
"Sure, Har, as long as it isn't about how big Chakotay's dick is." He grinned when Harry blushed. "Ask anything you like."
*
Steeling himself to be laughed at, Harry asked, "What's it like being with a man?"
*
Tom turned serious and replied, "It depends on the man. Everybody's different. Well, except maybe for Megan and Jenny. Really, it just depends on who you're with and how you feel about each other. All I will say about Chakotay is that when we're together it's very good."
*
Harry pondered this for a while.
*
Tom sat and sipped watching Harry think. "You're curious aren't you?"
*
"Yes." Harry admitted. "But there's nothing I can do about it."
*
Tom finished his water and rose to set the glass on the table. He then leaned forward, hands supporting him on the table edge and said, "Bullshit. There's plenty you can do. All we need is to find you a boyfriend. Just think! You could have someone tall, dark and handsome of your very own." Tom grinned widely at Harry's stunned expression.
*
"Uh, Tom? I don't think that's such a good idea." Harry was both titillated and terrified at the concept. "For one thing, I wouldn't know what to do!"
*
"Don't worry, Harry. I'll find someone just right for you. Let me think about it for a while and I'll get back to you." Tom just kept on grinning as Harry struggled to take all of this in. "And now, you should get some sleep. I'll talk to you soon."
*
Harry just sat there, hands clutching his water glass and stared as Tom gave him a jaunty wave and slipped out the door. Oh gods, was Tom serious?
*

********************

*
Well, Tom thought, that was easy. Harry would be fine once his curiosity was satisfied. All he had to do now was find a nice guy to show Harry the ropes without breaking his heart. Shouldn't be too difficult a task.
*
He checked the time and found he still had a couple of hours to kill before meeting Chakotay for dinner. Hmm, what to do?
*
As he strolled along the corridor, he thought about his options. There weren't that many he was interested in. The holodeck was always a possibility or the gym but neither appealed to him right then. What he really wanted was to spend some time with Chakotay. Still, he felt obligated to give the man his space. He was probably off meditating or something.
*
Sighing, he decided to go check out the vids in the museum. Maybe there would be something interesting available.
*

********************

*
Chakotay left Sickbay and checked in with the Captain. All was well. He dropped by his office and found that he was actually caught up on his reports. With a few hours of free time on his hands, he wasn't certain what he wanted to do.
*
Perhaps some meditation would help him decide. He went to his quarters and prepared.
*

********************

*
Tom perused the vids one by one and found little of interest as most of them he'd already seen. He checked out each and every one just to make sure though in case someone had been holding out but just as he expected no one had.
*
As he set the last vid back on the pile, the door opened and Neelix stepped into the room. "Hello, Tom. Is there something I can help you find?" he asked cheerfully.
*
Tom shook his head. "No, not really. I was just looking at the vids hoping to find one I hadn't seen before but no luck."
*
"I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything else here that might catch your fancy? Something not vid-related, I mean."
*
Tom peered around and answered, "No, I don't think so." Then his gaze landed on the spot where the dildos used to be and a gleam entered his eye. "Uh, Neelix?"
*
"Yes, Tom?" Neelix bustled over and looked up at Tom expectantly.
*
If anyone would know, Neelix might and because they were friends maybe he would tell if asked nicely. Tom thought about this and decided to chance it. "Oh, I was just wondering..." he lowered his voice a bit and the Talaxian leaned closer, "...if you knew where all the dildos had gone."
*
"Why, Tom? Did you want one?" Neelix asked sincerely. "Because I do know where they are and if you can describe the one you'd like, I'll make sure you get it."
*
Tom blinked. Oh fuck. How was he supposed to deal with this? Be honest, a little voice in his head said. "Uh, actually, Neelix, I don't want one for myself. I was just curious as to who had claimed them." He smiled a little trying not to look like a depraved idiot.
*
Neelix stared at him for a moment then turned his head looking in every direction and satisfied that no one else was near, answered softly, "I did."
*
"You? Why?" replied Tom incredulously.
*
Neelix smiled smugly and rocked back on his heels. "Well, I suppose I can tell you...but only if you *swear* not to tell anyone else."
*
Tom said seriously, "I swear I won't tell anyone except Chakotay. Will that do?" He sensed some major gossip here but didn't want to start keeping secrets from his lover.
*
Neelix thought about it for a minute or two then nodded. "All right. But only him. Please don't tell Ensign Kim. I trust you and the Commander to keep quiet but we all know what Harry is like. Promise me?"
*
Tom stood as straight and tall as he possibly could. "You have my word on it."
*
Neelix smiled and relaxed. He led Tom over to a secluded corner of the room as if he were about to impart the secret of the universe to his rapt audience. He lowered his voice dramatically and said, "I let Lt. Torres throw them at me while I try to read some sort of poetry to her."
*
Tom almost fainted.
*
He was so shocked that the blood rushed from his brain straight to his feet and when Neelix saw him go pale, he grabbed the taller man and eased him down in the nearest, and only, chair in the room. Tom stuck his head between his knees without being told and just waited until sanity returned.
*
A few minutes later when he felt strong enough, Tom sat up and said with true concern for his friend's well-being, "Neelix! Are you out of your mind?"
*
Neelix puffed out his chest and far from being insulted, answered, "I'll have you know that I'm a lot stronger than I look. Also Tom, my skin is a lot tougher than yours."
*
Tom just stared at him wide-eyed, at a complete loss for words.
*
Neelix saw his friend's distress and said calmly, "Now don't you worry about it. I have her just where I want her."
*
Tom looked up at Neelix's smiling face and grinned weakly. "I'm sure you do. I wish you all the luck in the universe." He stood up then on shaky legs and gave Neelix a hug. The one thought that kept running through his mind was, wait till Chakotay hears this!
*

END OF PART 9

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Undaunted, Conclusion