Part III, by !Super Cat
Paris stared out over the control panel, focussing on the task at hand. Fatigue was setting in. They had already been flying for well over two hours but it felt like longer and, hell, they weren't even half way home yet. God, he thought. This is a really big polaron field.
He was close to passing out.
He heard Chakotay sigh and glanced over, jibing out of habit. "What's the matter Commander? Stood up by your spirit guide?"
"Paris, stop being a fool and concentrate on the small matter of getting us out of here."
Paris grinned, his eyes on the readings. "Gonna order me to shut up again?"
It didn't get the response he expected. "No," Chakotay's voice sounded a little . . . weary? "No I'm not."
How does he do it? Paris wondered. How does he do it? I mean, the man could kill a conversation with his tongue cut in half and his hands tied behind his back. And when Chakotay didn't respond he let the thought run on aloud, "Any time, any place, in a polaron field or out of it, asleep, awake, off duty, on the bridge, conscious or comatose . . . " He kept his expression innocent, the meaning of that particular statement deliberately ambiguous--
His CO didn't disappoint. "You'd crash the shuttle."
Another grin, this time whilst trying to compensate for a wild burst of interference. Polaric ions reacting with the warp particles. Done it a thousand times . . . "I don't know, Commander. I'm pretty good at this."
"Admiral T'Pak said you were the best pilot she'd ever seen. So did Captain Beckett. I guess what I should have been wondering when I read those reports was exactly what it was they were commending you for."
He almost couldn't believe he'd heard it. "Fuck you. Fuck you--say that again when I don't have my hands full with shipping you safely the hell out of here--"
Chakotay's even-toned attack didn't waver. "Do them, Paris? For promotion and a good write up? Same way you do everybody?"
"Chakotay, honey, I don't know what it is you get up to in that little head of yours . . . but, newsflash, strange as it may seem I didn't screw everyone who outranked me at the Academy. Didn't even screw everyone in my year." He drew a little breath. "T'Pak was the sweetest old bitch Vulcan ever produced, but she was bonded to Patra and besides that she was three hundred and seventy years old and counting. If she said I was a good pilot it was because I was a good pilot- not because we were getting down after class and doing the nasty." Then, because Paris was Paris and he couldn't resist - let alone keep his mouth shut- he added, "And if I fucked Beckett, well, the man was sex on a proverbial Starfleet stick. You can hardly blame me."
He wondered absently if Chakotay had ever met Julian Beckett, or would ever chase up the Captain's file. He'd certainly get a shock if he did. Beckett was Eganese, despite his Terran-esque name. He couldn't have stayed out of his containment suit long enough to kiss Paris on the cheek, much less go to bed with him.
And nooooo loss there, Paris thought. The Eganese might play a mean game of pool, but they aren't exactly the first species on my Things To Do list.
"God." Chakotay's voice had that strange sound to it again. "Paris, what the hell am I supposed to write in the logs?"
He didn't bat an eyelid. "'First Officer's log, stardate 49526.4: Weather continues fine. Lieutenant Paris and I are returning to USS-Voyager with the necessary proposal from the Dalian representatives--which means bye-bye Kazon and hello Alpha-Quadrant and all because, lets face it, Lieutenant Paris gives the most incredible, hot, luscious, mind-blowing, galactic-style h--'"
"You want I should log that? Because I'm this close to doing it, Paris."
" . . . And we're clear. Fifteen minutes till the next burst." Paris swivelled round in his chair, facing Chakotay for the first time since take off. "You're the CO." He gave Chakotay a sweet little smile. "You can log it if you'd really like. We've even got a spare quarter of an hour . . . " His voice somehow turned a little husky. " . . . if you want to make sure you're not falsifying the report."
Paris took one look at Chakotay's expression and decided that he, Thomas Eugene Paris, most certainly had a death wish to keep pushing things like this . . .
"I would have thought you'd have had your fill for one morning," the Commander said. "Obviously I don't know you well enough."
"Yeah, you know shit," was Paris's affable response.
"Spirits." Chakotay ran a hand across the almost spiky top of his hair. "I can't believe I'm thinking of tampering with Voyager's log to--to cover for a basket-case, gung-ho prostitute--"
Paris gritted his teeth. "Don't forget to dot the 'I' in prostitute."
There was a long silence. Eventually Paris turned back to the console.
"Paris--" Chakotay began, finally.
"Don't. I'm flying. I have to concentrate."
"I mean it. This is hard, and if I lose my concentration, the shuttle blows. That simple. To be honest I'm surprised you were willing to try this with me in the first place."
He ducked his head and went back to work - and he missed
the look on Chakotay's face--
"Sleep. Sleep. Sleep," Paris chanted, hoping the message in his words wasn't too subtle for the hologram to pick up on...
"Very well Mr. Paris," the Doctor said finally. "I suppose that in the light of your current, shall we say¨÷ "fatigued"¨÷ condition I could postpone the complete medical analysis until tomorrow, but I expect you to report to sickbay before your 0700 shift tomorrow. The captain made it clear that I have a duty to report on the condition of every member of away-mission teams visiting planets not previously . . . "
" . . .Sleep. Sleep. Sleep . . . "
The Doctor ignored him. "That goes for you too, Commander.'
Chakotay nodded, and motioned slightly for Paris to end his monotonic recitation.
"And I suggest that you both get some rest," the Doctor finished. "I'm not exactly sure what this away mission involved but Mr Paris in particular shows high levels of stress and--"
"And I couldn't agree more." Paris slapped the doctor
on the back, and spurred himself into action. "We'll get into bed immediately,
won't we Commander?"
Chakotay lay prone on his mattress. His brows were furrowed. He had log entries to make.
Fifteen minutes passed. Half an hour.
He was remembering. A faint echo of--something.
"Computer, give me the names of the Starfleet personnel who've successfully traversed a polaron field."
"Working." Then, a moment later, "The number of Starfleet personnel to pass safely through a polaron field is two hundred and nineteen thousand, six hundred and seventy two. Do you wish to narrow search parameters?"
"Yes. I'm not interested in a passenger list. What I want is the number of personnel who have successfully navigated a polaron field. Who've piloted a vessel through a polaron-field. That sort of thing."
"The number of Starfleet personnel to successfully plot and pilot a course through a polaron field is six hundred and fifty nine. Admiral Jrek Lancer navigated the PR67 expanse about the USS-Altieri on Stardate 40-"
"Stop, wait a minute. The Altieri was a Galaxy-class Starship. What about smaller vessels?"
"Please specify required size of--"
"Shuttles." He sat up and slid from the bed, zipping up his uniform as he did so. "How many people--Starfleet personnel--have successfully piloted a polaron field in a shuttle? And forget the list, just give me the number."
"Working." There was a long pause. "The number of Starfleet personnel to successfully pilot a course through a polaron field in a vessel conforming to the generic type 'shuttle'¨÷ is three."
His stomach sank all the way to his ankles. "And their names were?"
The computer recited the list, alphabetising automatically. "Admiral James T. Kirk, Admiral Owen R. Paris, and Lieutenant Thomas E. Paris."
There it was. Needing to hear the final confirmation, Chakotay asked, "When did Tom Paris fly a polaron field?"
"On two occasions. The first on stardate 47698.7
aboard an Academy issue type four vessel--" Chakotay was out the door before
the computer had got half way through the recitation. "--PR52 nebula, lasting
approximately 3 hours. It was the longest flight of its type on record.
The then Cadet Paris--"
There was a muffled "Hmmmm?" from inside the room and Paris' door slid open with a faint little ssshhh. Chakotay got a glimpse of tousled blonde hair and sleep-filled blue eyes gone wide with surprise before he had Paris jammed up against the tasteful light-grey wall of his quarters.
"Shit. Fuck." Chakotay felt the exact moment when Paris stopped struggling, when the pilot's barriers went up. A sultry light crept into the perfect blue of his eyes. "Writer's block?"
"You've piloted a polaron field before?" Chakotay emphasised the question with a little shove, and Paris actually winced when his head hit the wall.
"Jeez, Commander I don't think--"
"Answer the question."
"Of course I ha--"
Chakotay punched him hard, right in the gut. The pilot doubled over. "That's for you fucked up cocky smart ass pilot attitude. You could have killed us both--"
Paris leaned his bodyweight against the wall, obviously trying to catch his breath. His head was bowed, so that when he looked over at Chakotay he was looking up. Perfect golden-boy pose, blue eyes glittering from beneath long blond lashes. "I'm alive. You're alive. For God's sake Chakotay, it's three o'clock in the morning--"
"Why didn't you--" Chakotay wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand, trying to get his anger under some kind of control. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"What?" Paris finally pushed himself away from the wall. "Tell you what? I mean, fuck, Chakotay, not that I wanna be blunt or anything, but what the hell is this about?"