It was a bizarre moment for the pilot. I'm kissing my best friend and he's kissing me and it's sweet and I like it and we're right by Chakotay's door and holy fuck what the hell is going on¨÷
Tom pulled back a little and quirked a grin. "Uh- it wasn't what it looked like?" he hazarded.
"Oh, sure it wasn't." Harry broke away from the embrace, totally unselfconscious. "Tom, it's a startling ability I know, but I can tell when I'm being groped."
"Groped?" Tom put his hand to his chest and staggered back a step. Sure, his heart was pounding - post-Chakotay, post-Harry - but it never showed, it wasn't going to show in his- "Groped? Harry, how could you?"
Harry snorted. "Easily enough. Given who I've got for a best friend."
"Well, nothing." The ensign folded his arms and schooled his face into a 'what gives' expression. "So, are you going to tell me why you were lolling around thinking about sex right outside of the First Officer's quarters?"
"¨÷Uh, reverse psychology?" Tom managed finally.
"Uh-huh." Harry stared at him levelly.
Tom ducked his head. "God-" There was no way, no way he could possibly explain himself. Harry, five minutes ago I was on my knees offering to give the Commander a blow job. Don't ask me why. Game playing, maybe, a power trip for both of us. Christ, whatever it was it was totally insane and I can't believe I'm still hard, I can't believe I'm standing here, I can't believe he didn't kill me.
I can't believe he didn't let me-
"I don't know," Tom said finally. "Big, long, twisted story."
"Which you're going to tell me all about," Harry prompted.
"Harry, we just kissed for the first time and you want to sit round and gossip about Chakotay?"
"Hey, we didn't kiss, exactly. You kissed me," Harry said, and then added, like a friendly afterthought, "You idiot. I'm kinda glad you did though."
"Well, you were just looking so gorgeous standing there in the hallway-"
"You had your eyes closed, Tom," Harry reminded him dryly.
Tom let out a breath of laughter. "Right. Shit. The problem with you is that you know all of my lines."
"That's my problem? I give up. You're in a weird mood today. And don't think-"
"You're really glad?" Tom interrupted him.
"That we kissed."
"Of course I am."
"Okay." There was a fractional pause. "Why?"
"I-" Harry's brow creased. "I don't know, it felt good." He thought about it for another moment. "It was something we had to get over, maybe. You know, like now we've done everything together. Don't say it."
"Not- Say what, Harry?" Tom asked, his wide blue eyes lending him the necessary ingenuous expression. But- Shit. Memory, those same words snarled out against his lips, "Say what, Lieutenant?" Tom's stomach lurched. For God's sake, stop thinking about Chakotay-
Harry pretty much ignored the question. "You coming to the mess hall? You can spill your guts there if you like-"
"Definitely the mess hall," Paris replied, running a distracted hand through his hair. "I don't know about guts though - I just finished writing the mother of all away logs, so I figure I want food, then I wants me some Sandrine's, and then¨÷" He gave Harry a very provocative sideways look.
"Hello? Voyager to Planet Tom? I know all your lines, remember?"
"Not fair," the pilot groused back. But then he added, "You know what? I'm glad we kissed too. This is going to sound weird but¨÷ thanks, Harry."
"See?" Harry smiled. "We've cleared the air."
"Cleared the air," Tom repeated, a certain look in his eyes.
"Killed the sexual tension that has always sizzled between us." This from Harry, deadpanned.
"And we've killed it."
"Absolu--" Tom had wrapped his arms round Harry again and he'd actually managed to dip him, a ludicrous lovers pose ala 20th century Earth tango. "Tom, will you--"
Harry had to cling on to Tom to keep himself from dropping with a thunk on to the deck. Coherency was escaping him. "--just--you--"
Tom stole another kiss. Harry stopped protesting.
"Cleared the air?" Paris asked, breaking off the kiss and manhandling Harry upright.
"You know, there was a guy named Tom Paris here a minute ago," Harry said. "He was sane," he added. "Also, there is no way he was that good a kisser--"
"Gentlemen," said a calm voice.
The two officers looked up - arms still wrapped around each other - and slammed into the unequivocal brown eyed gaze of their Commander. The sound of Chakotay's door opening had registered in their minds only slightly. The First Officer himself was impossible to overlook.
"Commander!" Harry gasped, disengaging himself from his friend.
Paris opened his mouth to speak, and then shut it again firmly. He didn't have to explain himself. He didn't have to apologise. He didn't have to-
I can't believe the night I'm having.
"Do you mind if I-" Chakotay motioned to the corridor and Paris realised he and Harry were blocking the entire passage.
"Uh- sorry, Commander," said Harry. He pulled Tom back out of the way.
There was a moment of silence; blue gaze met brown, met, hurt, burned... Neither of the three men moved. "I'm really not surprised, Paris," Chakotay said finally, and disappeared in the direction of turbolift seven.
The second Chakotay was out of sight and earshot Tom exploded. "Fuck!"
"Fuck!!" And when Terran expressions failed him, Paris let out a string of Cardassian curse words so virulent that the universal translator baulked and refused to touch them - a string of curses that went on and on and on and-
Harry him by the arm and shook him. "Tom! Snap out of it!"
"Harry, I'm suffering Chakotay overload. If I don't swear I'm going to bust something-"
"Rubbish. You always say that."
Tom gave his friend a look. "I've never said- you - shit. Shit!"
Harry waited. When Paris stopped looking like he was about to put his fist through the bulkhead he continued, "Come on, give, Tom. Stop defaming Cardassia and tell me what's going on."
"Alright. Alright already. Mess hall, food, then guts. Promise."
"¨÷Tom," B'Elanna was saying. She snapped a bite of her replicated hras. "One thing's for sure - I'm about to tear his arm off over it."
"Very Klingon," Chakotay murmured.
B'Elanna's eyes narrowed. "Oh no." She shook her head. "You don't think- Chakotay, no way. Not me and Tom Paris. Not in a million years. The man's a pig!"
Humour lurked in the Commander's tone. "Oh? Did I say anything about¨÷?"
Their eyes met. Chakotay arched his brows a little. "Sex." B'Elanna filled in sourly. "No, you didn't." She put the fork down and swore to herself vehemently. "Kah'less, talk about my one track mind. Alright, I'll admit it, I'm a... little interested. Not that I'd ever - you know. I wouldn't, Chakotay, no way. Tom Paris is much too¨÷ galactic playboy to suit me." She paused. "But then¨÷" A sensual growl crept into her voice. "Sometimes I can't help wanting to..." She licked her lips and didn't finish the sentence.
Chakotay snorted at her expression a moment later, and shot her his driest look. "Huh," he replied. "You and me both."
Eating in the mess hall.
Big mistake. I should have asked him to my quarters or something... This is ridiculous, and I'll never get a word out of him once we get to Sandrine's.
The problem was that the mess hall came with it's own proviso topic of conversation. If you knew how to handle yourself, issue avoidance was easier in the mess than anywhere else on the ship. And Tom, of course, knew the trick best of anyone.
All you had to do was complain about the food.
"...is the thing about blue," the pilot said, glopping the meal round his plate with a spoon. "It's the only colour that doesn't appear naturally in foodstuffs. On any planet."
Harry, for the umpteeth time that evening, found himself completely sidetracked. "What about Chell?" he asked a little dazedly.
"Yeah, I'd rather eat him."
"No, I mean, he's blue."
"Berillic acid," agreed Tom. "Chell's not edible. He was explaining it to me."
"I mean, Klingon food looks more appetising, and you usually have to wrestle that stuff down onto the plate before you even try for a mouthful." He gave Harry a challenging look. "I'm not taking a first bite until you do."
And so Harry had to dip his spoon into the blue and taste the luke warm muck. "Mmrrhk-" He swallowed the mouthful gingerly. A moment passed uneventfully, then his big brown eyes went wide.
"Well, that decides me," said Tom, pushing his plate away firmly.
"No, no, it's..." Harry blinked, and waved his hand about.
"Disgusting? Rabid? Sentient?" Tom got a head shake for his trouble. "Harry, not being able to talk for five minutes after eating something is usually regarded as-"
"It's good," Harry managed finally, a trace of wonder in his voice.
"Uh-huh. Blue and good."
"No, I'm serious. It tastes kind of like chicken."
Tom gave his plate a very sceptical look. "That's no chicken I've ever known."
Harry ate another mouthful to try and prove it. "See?" he told his friend hoarsely.
"I'm too young to die," Tom insisted. But when Harry ate a third mouthful, and then a fourth, Tom finally took a bite of the stuff himself. "Mmrrhk- Uhg." The spoon clattered back down onto the plate. "Well, thanks a lot Mr. It Tastes Like Chicken."
"Maybe not exactly like chicken," Harry qualified.
"Ah. Right. So-"
"Mr. Neelix has assured me that the male gellaph's excretions are naturally this colour..." Both men looked up. Lieutenant Tuvok was balancing a bowl of the much maligned dinner on his palm. "Nevertheless, I personally believe that any foodstuff of this colour should be approached with extreme-" There was an infinitesimal pause. The blue mess congealing on his plate seemed to have distracted Tuvok from the conversation. "...caution..."
"Yeah, you got that right, Tuvok." Tom gestured for the Vulcan to sit down. "But hey, you never know until you try. And Harry says it tastes like chicken."
"That is not a comfort to me Mr. Paris," Tuvok replied, seating himself elegantly at the table. "Chicken is an earth delicacy I particularly dislike."
"Really? Vulcans hate chicken?" Paris asked curiously. "Why?"
Tuvok, who had just taken his first taste of dinner, put his spoon down pointedly. "Because it tastes like Mr. Neelix's gellaph surprise," he said.
Paris opened his mouth in horror. "There's a surprise?" he said.
"Come on you two, it isn't that bad-"
Tuvok cut Harry off. "I was hoping to discuss another matter," he said calmly. "I have a duty shift at 2300 hours and I have been waiting for an opportunity to speak to you beforehand, Mr. Paris. Informally, of course."
"Sure." Golden brows rose slightly. "Go ahead, Tuvok."
"Very well," Tuvok said, without preamble. "One of the ship's officers has lodged a complaint with Captain Janeway. I thought it best to inform you that you are, unofficially, under investigation."
Paris' jaw dropped. "I'm what?!"
"As I said, Mr. Paris. You are being investigated on a number of-"
"I don't believe it! Who made the complaint?" Harry interrupted incredulously.
"Mr. Kim," Tuvok replied, giving the Ensign a disapproving look. "I'm sure you are aware that, according to Starfleet protocols, the name of the-"
Tom interrupted him. "You can't name the accuser in an official investigation," he semi-growled.
"That is correct," answered Tuvok. His dark eyes regarded the pilot impassively. "However," he said after a pause. "As this is not an 'official' investigation... The crewman directly responsible for the complaint is Commander Chakotay."
Paris' chair scraped backwards. "Computer, locate the First Officer," he said, ignoring his friends.
"Commander Chakotay is located on deck three. Section A7."
People used words like 'gentle', 'spiritual', and 'caring' when they described Chakotay. They avoided the flip-side, 'mercurial', 'hot-headed', 'temperamental' - these were labels usually reserved for someone like Tom Paris. Hardly surprising, after all, Tom Paris was the brash young pilot - Chakotay was the level-headed Commander. The two men placed themselves firmly on opposite sides of the hot and cool tempered divide.
And yet, while Chakotay had a kind of implacable burn to his rages, it was Paris of the two who didn't hold grudges... and who rarely, if ever, got angry.
Oh, sure, Tom was easier to provoke, but his quicksilver flash of temper was short lived, and usually burnt itself out on something as simple as an expletive, a 'screw this' or 'fuck you'. It had nothing to do with the real, stewing, simmering emotion: Anger.
That smug, officious, sadistic- There were only so many put-downs someone could take, only so much abuse they could handle before they snapped. I swear to God, if I don't get an explanation, I'm going to rip off his fucking dick and feed it to him-
He rounded the corner and, blinded a little by anger, he almost collided headlong with the object of his search - Chakotay and Lieutenant Torres. The officers were chatting together right outside Chakotay's rooms. "Hiya, B'Elanna. Commander." Somehow he managed to keep the snapping fury from his voice. "You're inviting me in to your quarters," he informed Chakotay, ignoring B'Elanna. "Now. I need to talk to you in private."
An anxious expression flitted itself across Chakotay's face. Luckily for him, Paris was too pissed off to play payback and enjoy it.
"B'Elanna, could you please excuse us?" Tom asked, rallying himself enough to give her one of his charming smiles. "I promise to give him back in one piece."
"One piece? Humans. You're no fun." And B'Elanna took off down the hallway with a, "See you rooooouuund boys..."
"Inside," Paris levelled, the moment she was out of earshot. "This time I'm not leaving till I've done what I came here to do."