Setting: Post "The Year of Hell."
A very silly, fluffy piece. Payback to Tom Paris for all the times I've made him a betting-pool spiv. This is for Sylwina and also for YCD - who wisely lobbed this back over the net and hoisted me by my own petard!
Disclaimer: Paramount and the Viaborg own them, I just play with them.
Kathryn's commbadge chirruped at exactly the wrong moment.
"Paris to Janeway?"
Letting go of her, Chakotay gave her a look that said, 'Typical timing', before dropping down onto her bed in disgust.
"Don't make me smother you with a pillow so I can answer this, Chakotay."
"I didn't say anything," he replied, indignantly.
"Good," she smiled, "Keep it that way."
With a tap of her commbadge her whole demeanour changed, and when she spoke, her voice was a little lower and more business-like.
"Janeway, here. Is there a problem, Mister Paris?"
"No, Captain. You asked me to let you know when we'd cleared
"Oh, yes... thank you, Tom. Just keep us on this heading."
"I'm just going off duty, Captain. Rogers has taken the Helm, and Lieutenant Davies has the watch. I've left him clear course headings. Paris out."
The unexpected interruption dealt with, Kathryn gazed down at Chakotay as he stretched and stifled a yawn. She was just thinking how gorgeous he looked lying there, when he yawned again and she suddenly remembered that he'd just finished a double shift. Smiling softly, she sat down beside him and reached out a hand to caress his face. "If you're too tired......?"
"No really, I'm fine. This bed is just incredibly comfortable - and big. It feels so good to be able to stretch out in all directions. I don't suppose you'd consider swapping? My single bed would be plenty big enough for you."
"Not on your life," she laughed, lightly jabbing a finger at his chest. "This bed is the only thing that makes being Captain bearable. It's my only refuge... apart from you, of course." Dipping her head, she kissed him briefly. "Well, lover... if you're sure you're not too tired. We don't have much time. They're expecting us to be there for the start of the Tournament."
Chakotay just smiled and pulled her closer. "Why don't you let me worry about that, Kathryn."
Her answering smile became a moan as his mouth covered hers and his arms tightened around her.
Tom broke the comm-link to the Captain and whistled loudly as the turbo-lift started to move - taking him away from the dullest Bridge-shift on record. He was very relieved that they'd finally left the boring, yellow nebula. He knew B'Elanna was ecstatic about the minerals and elements they'd collected from the sickly looking cloud, but slowly tracking back and forth at less than impulse speed was mind-numbing when you were in the driving seat. Still, he thought, It's behind us now. And, on top of that, there was tonight's Hover-ball tournament to look forward to.
Suddenly realising that he'd forgotten to ask Harry to keep him a front-row seat, he tapped his commbadge. " Paris to Ki..."
".....Well, lover... if you're sure you're not too tired. We don't have much time. They're expecting us to be there for the start of the Tournament."
"Why don't you let me worry about that, Kathryn."
"Mmmmm... if you keep that up, we won't get to the tournament at all."
Tom's eyes went wide and his mouth fell open as it dawned on him who - and what - he was hearing.
The lift stopped suddenly and the doors swished open at the Officers deck. Instinctively covering his commbadge with his hand, he ran to his quarters and was through his door before it was fully open. He stood in the middle of the room for a few moments, turning this way and that in a cold panic, dithering over what to do for the best, but hardly daring to breathe in case the commline was still active both ways.
He could hear the Captain's laughter as clear as a bell.
"We can't... we just don't have time to do both and I want to try it now, Chakotay. I'll be much too tired after the Tournament."
The Commander's low rumble of a voice followed, laughing and whispering something Tom couldn't quite make out.
Carefully pulling off his commbadge, he tip-toed into the bathroom and laid it down on the nearest shelf. Backing-out of the bathroom very carefully, he crossed to the other side of the main room.
"Computer, deactivate commbadge number 98 immediately."
"Unable to comply."
"That Commbadge is in use. A channel is currently open."
"I know the channel is in use, but it shouldn't be," he replied in the sarcastic tone he usually reserved for the king or queen of idiots. "I have finished talking with that person and I would like to talk to someone else now. Close-the-damned-channel-already!"
"Unable to comply."
"Commbadge 98 is currently malfunctioning. The fault is mechanical in nature."
"You mean, it's jammed? Hell's bells and buckets of blood! Computer, deactivate Captain Janeway's Commbadge."
"Level four security clearance is required to deactivate the Captain's
"Great! Just great! Why does this crap only ever happen to me?!"
"Please re-phrase the question."
"Oh, stow it!"
"Please re-state the instruction."
"Never mind! Look, just patch me through to Lieutenant Torres. Think you can do that?!"
"Hello? This is Torres."
"Thank God! B'Elanna, this is Tom. Can you come to my quarters? I really
need your help."
"Sure, Tom. I'll be there as soon as I can. Just give me a few minutes to finish up here."
After what seemed like an eternity, Tom's door-chime rang.
The door swished open and B'Elanna walked in. "This had better not be
one of your juvenile pranks, Tom. What's up?"
He kissed her quickly, grinned nervously and said, "Thanks for coming. You won't believe what's happened - it's easier if I show you."
Taking her hand in his, he held his finger upto his mouth to signal 'quiet' and led her towards the bathroom.
B'Elanna looked confused until Tom pointed to the commbadge on the shelf and she heard voices coming from it. Her eyes went very wide and her mouth dropped open as she realised she was hearing two breathless people, sharing what was obviously a very intimate moment.
"Yes... oh, that's it, that's wonderful. Can you just roll this way a bit...?"
"I'll try.... Sorry... that's not going to work, love. I'm just not as supple as I used to be."
"Where's your spirit of adventure? Ow, Ow!"
"Did I hurt you?"
"Yes! I'm alright, but I'm never going to manage it all, not in this position. Look... we
never had any problems the other way. Call me predictable, but if it ain't broke - don't fix it. Let's stick with what we know works for us."
"Hold on a minute, let me try something.... There, is that easier for you?"
"Not much... it slips out before I can get going. I just can't get any damned purchase or leverage this way."
"Calm down, love. Getting agitated will just make things worse. You know, maybe this would work better if we were the same height. Maybe if I knelt on a chair? Let's try that. If we still can't manage it, we'll go back to the other way. Ready?"
"Wait, let me catch my breath a bit.... Okay. Oh, yes... that's much better, yes... yes... it's going in... Damn it, it's slipped out again! I almost had it that time. Oh, this is hopeless! I'm sorry. I'm getting too old for this. I'm really tired and I can actually feel myself turning into a snippy, redheaded shrew."
"It's alright... we're both tired. We should have waited. It's pointless getting all hot and bothered and trying to rush. Let's just start again, with what we know. We can always try this way another time. Maybe when we've got more energy and more time."
"If you're sure?"
"I'm sure. If you'll just let me catch my breath, I'll show you exactly how much I love you, you snippy, redheaded shrew."
"Stop it, I cry easily when I'm tired."
"Can you handle an, 'I love you'."
"Always. I love you, too."
Initially, B'Elanna was curious and amused - until it suddenly dawned on her just 'who' she was listening to. Clapping her hands over her ears she turned and rushed out of the bathroom. Tom followed her with a final backward glance at the communicator and walked straight into a stinging slap across the face.
"You pig! My God, Paris, you've finally brought me down to your level. How could you!" She lashed out at him again and again, pummelling him with slaps and punches. "You made me eavesdrop on my oldest friend... on my Commanding Officers... and the nearest thing I have to a mother and father out here, having sex for God's sake! How the hell am I supposed to look either of them in the eye ever again?! You - you sicko!"
Tom tried in vain to defend himself. "Whoa! You're wrong! This isn't my fault, B'Elanna." He managed to grab her wrists and stop her swinging at him, but she just brought her knee up reflexively - and hard. Enveloped by a pain-filled, red and yellow mist Tom gave a strangled cry, crumpled-up like a ragdoll, and fell to the floor.
"Tom? Tom, I'm so sorry. Tom, are you alright?"
"No," he squeaked.
B'Elanna slapped her comm-badge. "Torres to Transporter Chief. Lock onto my signal... two to beam directly to sickbay!"
Seconds later, as the transporter beam cleared, Tom was still curled up in a ball on the floor with B'Elanna kneeling beside him. The Doctor stepped forward.
"What happened to Mr. Paris?"
B'Elanna blanched. "It's my fault. I lost my temper and I hurt him. I really, really hurt him. With my knee... hard."
The Doc winced. "Has he vomited?"
"No," B'Elanna shook her head without taking her eyes off Tom, "He just sort of crumpled up___"
She was interrupted by the sound of Tom throwing up.
The Doctor rolled his eyes, placed a hypo against Tom's neck and activated it. "Help me clean him up and get him onto that bio-bed. I thought you loved this man?"
"I do! I didn't mean to hurt him. Like I said, I lost my temper."
"B'Elanna..." Tom's eyes fluttered open and then closed again.
"Tom, I'm so sorry. You didn't deserve that, please forgive me?"
His eyes opened again and he smiled weakly. "You owe me... bigtime."
She smiled down at him. "We'll discuss that later. How do you feel?"
"Better, after the hypo. B'Ela, listen. My commbadge is jammed -
stuck on Captain Janeway's channel frequency. I don't know how it happened, I promise. Maybe she thought I'd broken the link. I tried to switch it off, really I did. Can you take care of it? If she and Chakotay find out they'll flip just like you did."
"Relax, Tom. I'll take care of everything. Will he be alright,
"Yes, he'll be fine in an hour or so. Normally, I'd have to report
a violent attack like this to the Captain. But, if you're both
agreeable, I'll log this as an accident."
B'Elanna blinked in surprise. "You're going to lie in a report?"
"No, not at all. I'm just going to be economical with the truth.
You've obviously made up your little difference of opinion. What would
be the point of putting you both on report for fighting? However... If I see
Mister Paris in here again with any injury inflicted by you and your
temper, I won't hesitate. Understood, Miss Torres?"
"Understood, Doctor. And, thank you." She smiled down at Tom. "Get
some rest, Flyboy. I'll go back to your quarters and try to free-up your commbadge.
If I can't clear the channel safely, I'll dissolve it in acid. Alright?"
"Thanks, B'Elanna. I love you..." Woozy from the hypo, he closed his eyes and was asleep before she left his side.
With a smile, B'Elanna nodded to the Doctor and turned to leave. The Doctor followed her to the door.
"B'Elanna, can I ask you something?"
"Of course. What is it?"
"Well, I couldn't help over-hearing what Tom said about The Captain
and Commander Chakotay. What did he mean when he said, 'They'll flip,
just like you did.' What's happened?"
"I'm sorry, I can't tell you that. It's very personal and the less people who know, the better."
The Doctor looked downcast for a moment, but then he smiled. "Oh, Well.
I could always ask the Captain I suppose - or the Commander...."
"Don't do that!" Her eyes narrowed as she realised he had
no intention of asking the Captain or Chakotay anything, because he wouldn't need
to - he knew she'd tell him whatever he wanted to know, in order to prevent that. "My, my. Aren't you the clever one, Doctor. You're becoming more human everyday."
"I'm sorry, I really hate to blackmail you like this, but you have no idea how boring my life has been since Kes left. Being an EMH on a ship full of disgustingly healthy people is the worst! I'm always the last to know anything around here, too. Just once, I'd like to be in on something that very few others know about. And remember, my confidentiality
program won't allow me to tell anyone else. Please. Pretty please?"
"Oh, alright! Just remember who has full access to - and control over - your
program, Doctor. You breathe a word of this to anyone and I'll make your
'life' a living hell." Taking him firmly by the arm, she pulled him into
Chakotay sat on the end of Kathryn's bed and watched her run a brush through her hair.
Looking into her mirror and catching his eye, she smiled back at his reflection. "Don't tell me you still miss it?"
He grinned, realising not for the first time that she could read him like book. "Not anymore... not really." He stood up and moved to stand behind her, pausing to drop several light kisses onto the back of her neck. "It was strange at first, but I'm used to it now, and the shorter length really suits you."
She put down her hairbrush, turned around to face him and laid her hands on his chest as he drew her to him. "Thank-you."
"Anytime. Besides, my past fantasies about you and your hair never compared with this reality."
Her eyes misted slightly. "Say that again... on second thought, kiss me and save the talking for later."
His lips tugged at hers as she felt a familiar, warm tingle in her fingertips.
"Tuvok to Captain Janeway"
With heavy, knowing sighs, they both opened their eyes and broke the kiss, but continued to hold one another as Kathryn answered the hail.
"Janeway here. What can I do for you, Tuvok?"
"Did you forget, Captain? The final of the Hover-ball Tournament will start in ten minutes. Your presence, and that of Commander Chakotay, is expected."
"Yes, thank-you, Tuvok. Chakotay's here with me now... we were just leaving. Janeway out."
"Carrier mice," Chakotay dead-panned.
His expression was completely serious. "I've got this theory about Tuvok's Security Network. We've discounted everything else - we've swept for bugs and other listening devices. We've both been checked for covert brain implants. The only thing left is highly trained carrier pigeons, or maybe mice in tiny gold security uniforms, reporting back to him everytime I get you in a clinch."
Kathryn leaned into him, shaking with silent laughter. Fixing him with a shakey glare, she raised one eyebrow. "You worry me sometimes, Chakotay. Come on, let's go before he sends a foot patrol to fetch us."
Grinning broadly, he let her lead him to the bedroom door.
Before stepping through into the main room, Kathryn paused briefly and turned to face him.
"Oh, before I forget... thank you for my new quilt cover. It's so beautiful. I really love the tribal design and the legend that goes with it."
"You're welcome. It does look good, doesn't it? Just don't ask me to help you force that kingsize quilt into it again, anytime soon. Not if you're going to insist on doing it the new way."
"Ensign Wildman said it worked first time for her!"
"Yes, but Ensign Wildman has a single quilt like the rest of us, not a great big double like yours."
"Well, the principle's the same, surely? Turn the cover inside out,
grasp the inside corners, grab the edges of the quilt, and one of you shakes while the other one rolls. Simple."
"I was there, remember? If it's so simple, how come we got all twisted around, bad-tempered, exhausted, and sweaty? If it's so easy__?"
"Like you said, maybe I'm too short... or your too tall"
"Maybe. Thank goodness it isn't a problem when we're in the bed."