God, Paris. You fuck up. He's the fucking First Officer and he hates you and no wonder.
Ego and a uniform. Next time--next time--
Next time? The Paris trademark roguish grin
flirted with his expression a moment, despite the situation. Next time.
Right. Next time remember that there isn't going to be a next time..
. . .
Chakotay rolled over in bed and swore. The computer had just told him it was 0015, which was fine except that he had to be dressed and ready by 0630. Ready for five hours alone in a shuttlecraft with Thomas Paris.
I'll kill him," he said aloud.
He finally gave up on sleep, slid from the bed and sat down in front of his computer terminal. It was a long moment before he spoke.
"Computer," he ordered. "Display Starfleet Academy records of Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris." He was suddenly interested in what he would find and better this than--
He wasn't going to think about it again.
"And we're clear," said Paris. He made a series of final adjustments and then leaned back in his seat. "Nothing we can do till the next burst--which I guess gives us plenty of time to talk. So," Paris smirked. "What's your favourite colour, Commander?"
Chakotay closed his eyes and said, "I can see this is going to be a long trip."
"I'm just trying to make small talk," returned Paris. "Sheesh."
He actually said the word 'Sheesh'. "Lieutenant, I think it's in both our best interests to keep our minds on the job--"
"And our hands on the console," finished Paris glibly.
Chakotay's teeth clenched. "Paris--"
"My, we are edgy this morning," Paris breezed. Chakotay wanted to grab the pilot by the neck and shove his collective pronoun right up his-- "My guess is we didn't get enough--"
Chakotay gave him a killing look.
"--Sleep." Paris finished.
"Don't you come with an off switch?"
"Is that what you stayed up all night wondering?"
There was a charged silence.
"I'll leave that to your imagination, Mr. Paris."
Paris grinned. "Can I take a few guesses?"
Chakotay gave him another Look.
"Well¨÷ maybe not while we're on duty," the pilot yielded. "So you won't tell me your favourite colour," Paris continued. "And you won't give why you're so moody--" He spread his hands in a 'hopeless' gesture. Chakotay ignored him. Paris resorted to, "Are you always this talkative, Commander?"
"You inspire me."
"You'd rather sit here in silence than attempt some kind of conversation," Paris said.
There was a pause.
"I don't believe this." It seemed thirty seconds was the Lieutenant's absolute maximum. "Well, did you bring something for me to do?"
"Can I at least put on some music?" Paris asked.
Chakotay knew it was a mistake as soon as he said it. "Anything that gets you to shut up's fine with me."
Paris arched a brow but didn't comment. "Computer," he said. "Play music program Paris lambda one. It's a surprise," he told the Commander.
A dark melody wound around them. Dissonant, but pleasantly so--and it wasn't loud enough to be intrusive. "Not bad, Lieutenant," Chakotay said. He saw Paris suppress a grin.
"GRACHT S'TARG!! LOB VER NEVACH KESH'PTAQ-!!!"
Chakotay leaped from his chair. The growly voice nearly shattered his eardrums.
"KLINGON OPERA!?!" he screamed out.
Paris was miming singing along.
"PARIS, SHUT THIS THING OFF RIGHT--"
"Computer, halt playback."
Chakotay was left yelling into a silent shuttle. "Now," he finished awkwardly.
"Don't look at me like that," said Paris. "I thought everybody liked Klingon opera."
Chakotay just stared at him.
"Gracht Nevach is a Klingon classic," Paris continued. "The sweeping saga of two--"
"I don't want to hear it."
"--that have been--" It seemed Chakotay's words penetrated. "Pardon?"
"I said I don't want to hear it."
To his surprise, Paris fell silent.
Thirty seconds passed.
"You're no fun, Commander."
"I'm not supposed to be."
"Ha! You don't even try."
"I don't want to hear it."
"That's an order."
Somehow, it wasn't as calming as he'd thought it would
The door closed with a click. Paris fought down hysterical laughter--fought hard. It was too much, really, but he had the feeling that if he laughed, Starfleet or no Starfleet, the Commander would kill him. Or something. Probably something, he reflected. Something brutal. Hands around neck maybe. Blows till I can't stand up. God, I feel dizzy and I'm going to start laughing and I--
One bed. Just one. No matter how many times you counted it.
They'd been shown to their room. They were sharing, apparently, and the place only had one--
Whatever you do Paris, he warned himself, don't ask him how much he tipped the Ambassador. You won't last more than a second.
Helluva goddamned away mission.
"We should prep for the council meeting tomorrow," Chakotay said.
"We've spent the last two weeks 'prepping' for the council meeting," Paris returned. "I'm exhausted. I need to eat and I need to sleep." Nice one, he told himself. Argue with the first thing he's said to you in, what, twelve hours?
But he'd been piloting a shuttle through a polaron field for six of those twelve hours for God's sake. He felt like shit. He was damned if he was going to get into any kind of 'I can work harder than you' stand off with Chakotay when he, Paris, was so tired he could hardly see straight.
"No," said Paris.
"Are you disobeying an order?" Chakotay's voice was deadly calm.
"Are you giving me an order?" he asked, copying the Commander's tone.
There was a long silence. "I should have known," Chakotay said. He turned away.
Never mind that the prep session was a waste of time. Never mind that the Commander probably knew it. "Fine," Paris replied, hating the calm in his voice. "Hand me that PADD and we'll get started." When Chakotay turned back he held out his hand and waited.
And waited. The Commander just stood looking more than a little shocked, and stared. It made Paris want to scream. Until he realised why.
The hand he'd held out for the PADD was shaking.
Yeah, well, he'd been flying. Flying a polaron field. So what if he made it look easy--it was hard physical work and if you made a mistake, you were dead. No second chances. No way to relax either, he thought darkly. Chakotay had not only shut him up--he'd flipped his lid at the idea of music.
The tiniest admission invaded his self-righteous rant, almost enough to make him duck his head and grin again. Oh, come on Paris. Since when do you listen to Klingon opera?
"You're really tired," said Chakotay.
He was sick of it, suddenly. "I'm exhausted. I told you."
"You--" Chakotay lowered his gaze.
It's the strangest thing, thought Paris. I've never seen him do that before.
When Chakotay looked back up, he had a different expression on his face. "Get some rest," he said, almost--kindly. He reached out and patted Paris on the arm, man to man, like Tom sometimes did Harry.
Like they were friends.
"Thank you," Paris said, startled.
Then he drew in a breath and made for their bathroom.
Stop fooling yourself, Paris.
Paris was in the bathroom, damn him.
"Are you going to sit up with those things all night?" he'd asked Chakotay from the doorway.
"I'm not through yet."
"I know what you're doing," Paris had informed him.
And of course he had to ask, "What am I doing, Lieutenant?"
"Prolonging the inevitable." He purred it before he disappeared through the door.
Chakotay didn't have to look at the bed to know what he was talking about.
Damn him, he's loving this.
Chakotay put down the PADD and massaged his temple. Worst of it was, Paris was right. He was an arrogant, immoral sonovabitch but he was right. Need to prepare for the meeting, he'd said. Paris' look had been something along the lines of, "Sure you do."
"Sure I do," he said aloud.
Paris chose that moment to emerge from the bathroom. He was wearing standard issue Starfleet underwear; grey and form fitting, they ended just above mid-thigh. Really, thought Chakotay, they looked more like bike pants than briefs or boxers. That in itself was fine, after all, Chakotay was wearing standard issue Starfleet underwear too. Problem was that Paris--Paris--Chakotay clenched his teeth. Paris wasn't wearing anything else.
Paris missed his comment but caught his frown. "What?" He asked. Then, catching on, "You expect me to bring pyjamas on an away mission?"
Chakotay wondered why the correct answer seemed ridiculous. You expect me to bring pyjamas on an away mission? Yes. Yes, actually I do. He sighed. "Shut up and get to bed, Mr. Paris," he replied. "We've got a long day ahead."
"Hey, you're the commanding officer," Paris said, complying with the second part of his request. Bedclothes muffled his next words. ". . . Mr. Chakotay . . ."
"Commander to you, Paris," Chakotay countered.
He needn't have bothered. Paris was fast asleep.
The night was uneventful. The next day was more so. The Ambassador briefed them, then introduced them to the Dalian representatives. There was an exchange of pleasantries after which Chakotay made Voyager's bid.
Telach, the leader, thanked him. He told the Commander he sympathised with his position. He told him he agreed with his logic. He asked Chakotay and Paris to walk with him and shook their hands before he declined their offer. Then he invited them both to dinner.
He invited them both, but he never stopped looking at
"I have to shower."
"Commander, for once in my life I don't feel like talking. Shut up. Enjoy it or something."
"I'm taking a shower." Paris closed the bathroom door.
Unbelievable, Chakotay thought. The guy has mood swings bigger than his goddamned ego.
Admittedly, the Dalians had rejected their bid, and that meant Voyager was, to use the layman's term, screwed. But Paris had spent the last three hours happily, eating dinner and flirting with Telach. Chakotay scowled. Flirting? Give me a break. Those two were practically having sex at the table.
He grimaced. Hard to believe that, just two nights ago, he'd been on the receiving end of that blue laser look.
"Shower's free," said Paris, returning. He was dressed as he had been last night, which is to say he wasn't. His hair was damp and his skin was a little flushed. In the room's filtered light, he looked beautiful.
"Paris--" Chakotay began. He faltered.
"What happens now?" Paris asked in a small voice.
"Tel's not going to change his mind," Paris told him. "And the Dalians leave in the morning."
Chakotay was furious suddenly. "I know all that," he growled.
"So--so we're stuck."
"Yes, we're stuck," Chakotay spat back. "Voyager's safety depended on that agreement."
"Voyager's safety depended on that agreement," Paris echoed softly.
Chakotay snapped. "Paris, do whatever you want to do tonight, just stay clear of me. I swear to you, any more shit and I'll hurt you."
"Will you go to hell!"
"I'm sorry--" the pilot whispered. It kicked the wind out of Chakotay.
He kicked himself a moment later, when Paris finished, "--you couldn't do your job here."
I'm sorry you couldn't do your job here. Chakotay bit
down his anger. That sort of comment was just what he expected. Eat, fuck,
shower, and sleep. These were the priorities of Thomas Paris.
Chakotay lay in bed, awake. He couldn't sleep, of course he couldn't. Not with that man beside him. And dammit, he shouldn't even be thinking about Paris! Tomorrow they'd return to Voyager. No proposal. No proposal and no one to console with--just one selfish, insolent sonovabitch who was probably asleep already. Asleep--
He had a sudden vision of that superior expression softening--those lips parting--he closed his eyes to banish it.
He closed his eyes.
Warm breath on his neck made them fly open a second later. "What--" He started to move away.
"Don't," came the lazy command. An arm curled around his chest and pulled him roughly backward. He thought, I can't breath. I'm lying in the spoon position with that bastard behind me and I--
Fingers tangled in his hair before he had a chance to think. The arm around his chest tightened its grip. "Damn you, Paris," Chakotay growled.
His response was a yank of his hair and the divinely tough, "Like that, huh?"
He couldn't help thrusting a little at that. Ohh-- Then Chakotay felt the pilot's hand slide over his chest, stomach and then lower. He gasped and caught Paris's wrist and though his cock had started throbbing he managed to choke out, "Don't you--" He meant to say 'dare'.
Paris bit his shoulder, hard.
And Chakotay woke, shuddering.
Shit, shit, shit. He'd just had a dream about--
Chakotay sat up and received a second shock. He was alone in the bed; there was no sign of Paris.
Then the door to their room opened.
"Who--" he started. "--Who else," he ended dryly.
Paris ignored him. "Commander, can we . . . get out of here? Please?"
The lieutenant's hair was in a mess and his uniform was badly crumpled. It wasn't hard to guess who he'd been with, or what he had been doing. "Paris, it's not even dawn yet."
"I've got the proposal," said Paris.
"Congratulations." It took some time to penetrate. Then, "You've what?"
"I've got the proposal," Paris replied tightly. "Telach--changed his mind."
Chakotay took a deep breath. "Oh--no. Tell me you didn't--"
"What do you want--a diagram?" It might have been the look on Chakotay's face that made him pause before saying, more softly, "Look, can we just go please?"
"Paris, as your commanding officer I should have been consulted before any steps to . . ." He struggled to find a Starfleet phrase that covered this sort of scenario.
Paris interrupted. "Save the sermon for the flight home, Commander. There's any number of good reasons to leave now: the Dalians might demand an explanation, Tel might change his mind . . ." He laughed, breathlessly. "And take my word, I'll hash it up if I have to make small talk with the man over breakfast."
"Paris, walking out on careful negotiations without a proper farewell . . ."
"Commander, trust me, he wasn't that careful." Paris' eyes widened a little after he spoke. "I can't believe I just said that."
"You--" Chakotay was at a loss. "Paris--"
Paris, distressed, ran a hand through his hair. "Oh God, do I have to fuck you too just to get us out of here?"
The words hammered into him. "You're right. Take your things down to the docking-port. I'll meet you by the shuttle bay." He began pulling on his uniform.
"Yes, sir," acknowledged Paris.