AUTHORS NOTES: The Bajoran I hadda make up, but the Klingon (can you believe it?) is actual real live Klingon. Translation follows the story. (Weird Trek trivia fact for the day: Did you know that more people in the world speak Klingon than Esperanto?)
DISCLAIMER: Big mountain rumbles. Small cat looks up nervously at the twenty two stars.
+++Many thanks to Mona, who kicks ass at storytelling and totally knows her TV Guide.
|A Questionable Profession
by !Super Cat
With a hiss, the compression locking mechanism gave and Chakotay was able to heft himself into the crawl space. A pair of waiting arms inside dragged him the rest of the way, set him against the wall, and then reset the hatch lock. It closed behind him with a deeply satisfying metallic clunk.
"Leren dos tarisch mya," said the man as he fiddled with the final settings of the lock. "Ohana gare, ohana lek."
"Do you speak Federation Standard?" Chakotay said. "I'm not wearing a translator--"
The man pursed his lips, then shook his head, running his eyes anxiously along the length of the corridor. Pointing left, he began to move into the larger conduit there, motioning for Chakotay to follow him. Hand over hand, one step, then another. . .
Dawson Tahn greeted them quickly at the conduit system exit. "Chakotay. How many?"
"There were three Cardassians at the last count," he answered, clambering out but responding with automatic calm. "Their ship followed our Raider out. Five beamed down with me to the surface--" And of those five, two were dead. He didn't have to say that last--the expression on his face was sufficient. They were dead. There were splatterings of Cardassian ichor coating the leather of his pants and jerkin.
"They'll search the building," Dawson said, making a brief, unhappy face. "I can take you in, but you have to understand that we can't jeopardize our neutrality. We can't fight, Chakotay. We can't afford suspicion--"
"Tahn?" A young Bajoran girl interrupted the proceedings, approaching from behind and taking Dawson by the arm. Her voice displayed some urgency. "Tahn--"
As they traded words--once again, indecipherable Bajoran--Chakotay became aware of his surroundings. Dark grey predominated over the walls, the furnishings and a significant amount of the ornamentation. Federation designers were currently enamoured with the colour. That didn't appear the reason behind the fittings here, however. The architecture of this place was unmistakably Cardassian.
"We don't have much time," Dawson said. "They wish to search. There will be permits issued."
Permits? Chakotay thought, feeling slight confusion. Cardassian insignia winked at him from the walls. The girl smiled at him briefly. When he returned the smile, she spoke to him a few words of Bajoran.
Chakotay looked from her face to the craggier visage of Dawson. "What did she. . .?"
"She said she's glad you killed the Cardassians." Dawson appeared to dismiss this out of hand. He was scrutinizing Chakotay. "We need to get you cleaned up. Quickly. You'll have to pose as a client."
"Unless you want to end up fucking your erstwhile pursuant. A client."
Chakotay emerged from the hot (water!) shower, towelling his face with a cloth. A brothel, he thought, bemused. Who'd believe it? Complete with plush carpets and an enormous bed. There was even a mythical type four replicator snuggled into the warm grey wall, not to mention countless pillows, and an array of things Chakotay decided not to look at too closely on the large table by the bed.
The only drawback was the temperature. The room's heating was adjusted to suit Cardassian tastes, or so Dawson had told him. Chakotay resisted the urge loosen the garment he'd been supplied with. It was already decidedly. . .airier than the more popular Federation style jumpsuits. It had been replicated out of what seemed to be the brothel fabric du jour. Light material. Very flimsy.
It really was warm in here.
"Computer, full illumination," he said, rising from the too-comfortable chair and tossing the PADD onto the smaller of the tables. It was dark outside. Perhaps he'd made the lights in here too bright. How long was he to be ensconced in this room anyway, he wondered? He began pacing. Were there Cardassians outside? If they came into the room, what the hell was he supposed to do about them? He'd be cornered. He'd be--
The door chimed, delicately.
Chakotay froze, turning very, very slowly towards the entryway. It couldn't be Dawson. Dawson had the entry codes, and besides had promised to comm him. He stared at the door.
It chimed again.
Maquis instinct took over. Chakotay positioned himself silently by the door frame, keyed the unlock sequence and in one smooth motion he had the intruder captured in a tight hold, one arm twisted high behind his back. The door slid shut behind them.
"Don't move," he ordered.
"Well, this is a first." The words were breathy, and they emerged in a youthful, amused sounding tenor. Chakotay felt the muscles in the young man's shoulder roll slightly, and the tendons in his wrist flex as almost casually he tested the limits of Chakotay's hold. "You know," he continued. "A well timed shift and turn and I wouldn't just be out of this hold, I'd also have broken your arm."
"You'll find otherwise when you try it."
"You could just let me go."
Chakotay pushed the intruder away from him, quickly drawing his phaser. The young man stumbled forward two or three steps, then having caught his balance, turned. His eyes widened when he saw the weapon trained on him. "Who are you?" Chakotay demanded of him. "What are you doing in here?"
The moment the words were out of his mouth, he felt like a fool. The 'intruder' was human, and extremely youthful. Wide, pellucid blue eyes, neat blond hair, mildly tanned skin--he was not only possessed of almost classic boyish good looks, he was dressed to show them off, in a dark grey jumpsuit open to about mid chest. It was fairly obvious, if not who he was, then at least what his purpose in this room was supposed to be.
"What's with the phaser?" the boy asked, pointing at it with his chin. He'd evidently decided that Chakotay's question was a rhetorical one.
"Sorry," Chakotay said awkwardly, holstering the phaser at his hip. "I wasn't expecting--" I was not expecting. . .this. The strangeness of the encounter tied his tongue. He gestured.
"Well, surprise," the boy said, not unamused by his response.
Right. Sifting internally through the weight of his experience, Chakotay came up with nothing that told him how to handle the situation. He wondered whether there was some kind of etiquette that prevented him from following his first instinct and just telling the boy, *Go away.* Perhaps there was, Chakotay thought. Perhaps this was necessary verisimilitude, a scenario in which acting 'the client' involved actually utilizing the establishment's facilities.
"I--Why did they send you?" Chakotay settled for asking. "I mean, I know why they sent you," he qualified. "But why did they send you?" He gestured again to the young man's form. I'm hardly renown for my interest in men, he thought, aware that feeling mild affront over the disregard this boy presented to his personal tastes was ridiculous, but feeling it nonetheless. Either a mix-up or misplaced generosity on Dawson's part, he decided, marking once again the lithe figure of the boy.
"Oh, I volunteered," came the breezy response. The boy smiled at Chakotay, then looked around the interior of the room.
"Sure. Saw you come in through the outer gate. I noticed the dark red outfit first, then I noticed you. You're gorgeous, you know. I volunteered. You can't blame me."
Delivered with perfect, blue eyed candour, the speech would probably have been very flattering, Chakotay thought, if he hadn't actually crawled into this place via the plasma conduit system wearing tattered brown leathers, and covered in grime and bits of Cardassian.
"Listen," he said, trying to avert further confusion. "I'm not--"
"Do you mind if I have a drink?" the boy asked casually, heading for the replicator with all the focus of a target-seeking photon charge, flummoxing Chakotay completely. "You know, before we--"
He's having a drink, Chakotay thought stupidly. He is actually having a drink. He stepped back and passed a hand almost helplessly over his face. "Oh, hell. You might as well get me one while you're there," he said. "I have the feeling this is going to be a long night."
"Hmm?" the boy enquired a few moments later, slipping a glass onto the small table. Chakotay heard a suspicious tinkle--ice--and stole a look at the thing, anticipating that he'd been given a Brothel Concoction, something blue, or green, in a twisty glass with a ghastly mess of fruit and umbrellas on the top. He was relieved to see a plain, dark brown liquid in a heavy glass. Just a few ice-blocks. Approving, he looked back up.
Only to find the boy regarding him, inches away. Before Chakotay could speak, a touch was sliding across his shoulder, and the boy was cupping his neck. "How you wanna do this?" he said, leaning in as if to--
Chakotay stepped back, and hit the table, rattling his glass and himself so much that he pushed a firm palm into the boy's chest to move him back. "I don't." When his only response was a half-confused blink, he continued, "Listen, I think there's been some kind of misunderstanding. I'm not here to--" No polite way to say it. "--fuck. I'm--"
"Oh," the boy said. "That's okay. I'll do whatever. Just tell me what you--"
"No." Chakotay extricated himself from proximity. "I'm not
a client," he said. "If you want to stay for a drink, that's
fine. But I'm not a client. I'm not. . .interested in. . .I don't. . ."
This is awful. Chakotay watched the display, trying desperately to think of a way to alleviate the pressured situation. Put the poor guy at ease. "I--Chakotay," he said finally, breaking the silence.
"It's my name. Chakotay."
The boy's gaze swivelled back to Chakotay's face.
Chakotay prompted, "And you are?"
"Paris," the boy said. He had an odd expression on his face. "Tom Paris."
Something in his tone made Chakotay doubt it, very much. "That's your real name?"
Tom Paris folded his arms in response. Take it or leave it, the stance said.
"Alright. Tom Paris. You're from Earth, yes?"
"Idaho." It was as if Tom froze, just for an instant. "How did you guess?"
"It's the accent. I'm not wearing a translator," Chakotay explained, when Tom made an inquiring face (accent?) at him. "So it's easy to pick up."
"Oh, right," said Tom, relaxing. "Yeah, the accent's pretty obvious, I guess. You grow up in Idaho, you're stuck with it. My parents were farmers, which I'm pretty sure makes it worse. . ." he trailed off, his attention fixing on the PADD Chakotay had left by the table. "Oh, jeez. I should have guessed from this you weren't a client. No-one brings math to a brothel."
"I--" Chakotay breathed, deeply. He had to physically restrain himself from snapping, Don't touch that, as Tom picked up the PADD.
Tom was rambling. "Wow, this looks pretty complicated. Hey--" he said suddenly, remarking on a point on the screen. "The Poh-Sparway equations."
Chakotay stared at him. "You--that's advanced subspace geometry." He was momentarily stunned. "You're familiar with the Poh-Sparway equations?"
"Uh--yeah, well, I can read, anyway," Tom answered him, displaying the PADD. The hideously complex-looking mathematical sequence was subtitled in neat block letters: "POH-SPARWAY EQUATIONS". Chakotay's shock melted instantly into an almost patronizing smile, only to return full force a moment later when Tom, scrolling further down the PADD screen, said, "So I guess this means you're in the Maquis." He flipped the PADD back onto the table and ignored it further, glancing around himself for a comfortable seat.
"What the hell makes you say that?"
"The third co-efficient in the PS sequence is point four." Tom looked by now ingenuous, and perfectly secure.
"Well, it's the first thing you learn in applied subspace geometry isn't it--disturbance? The third coefficient? Point two's a Starfleet signature, point five's a Bird of Prey. You know. And point four, that's got to be a Raider. Therefore, you are flying a Raider. And therefore, QED. You're in the Maquis."
From the mouth of a brothel employee--one who was even now arranging himself comfortably in a plush chair near the bed--the analysis was. . .surreal. Disturbing. Chakotay gathered his thoughts together. "Do all the staff here have training in applied subspace geometry?"
Tom shook his head, grinned. "My mother was a Bajoran in the resistance," he said. "Ten years fighting the Cardassians on Bajor. Then she started fighting for the Maquis. Lots of border runs, you know. You pick things up."
"I thought you said you grew up in Idaho."
Tom's grin widened slightly. "Oh? Did I say that?"
"Your mother was a Bajoran in the resistance," Chakotay said.
He gazed at Tom's classically--flawlessly--human features. "It's the overtly Bajoran characteristics that give it away," he said finally. "The nose ridges. The dark hair. The earring--"
"Mmm. Everyone comments on it," Tom replied smoothly. He blinked once over wide blue eyes. Smiled, blandly. Chakotay was catching on.
"And the Earth accent?"
"Oh, I learned it when I started working here. Our clientele is predominantly Cardassian. You know how it is--they fuck a Bajoran, they want him to speak like a Vedek. They fuck a human, they want him to sound like a Starfleet officer."
Chakotay, who certainly did not know 'how it was' answered, uneasily, "That--makes sense."
Tom offered a slightly hooded look. "I'm guessing they sent me in here because they thought you'd have roughly similar tastes. The Maquis fighter getting off on the Starfleet Lieutenant sucking his cock. What do you think, Chakotay?"
"I think," he answered determinedly. "That not only should you not be here, you have no way of knowing for certain that I'm in the Maquis."
"Yeah? You're telling me you've never thought about. . .?"
Chakotay felt his cheeks heat, ever so slightly. He ignored it. Strange to hear a sex worker talking shop, though, and he couldn't deny he was uncomfortable. He certainly wasn't going to answer the question. "I could be Starfleet," he pointed out. "The newer Fleet ships register as point four. Intrepid class. They have sustainable warp around nine point nine five."
"Really." Tom dropped his smile. Looked off at the fittings around the room's bed. "Intrepid class."
"Like the USS-Voyager--that ship that got lost in the Badlands last year?"
"Never heard of it. Listen, I'd--" Tom was frowning, a strangely helpless looking expression. But whatever it was he was going to say was cut off by a bleeping from the internal communication system. "What--?"
Dawson's face flashed up on the display. Tom stood, quickly, as Chakotay made his way over to the console.
"Chakotay." Dawson's voice was low, and tight. "Our lobby is full of soldiers. Listen, I--we. . .they're searching the rooms. You're going to have to make your role here an obvious one."
"What do you mean--obvious?"
Dawson ignored him. "Tom," he said, a little more loudly. "Are you in there?"
"Where else would I be?"
Chakotay caught a tiny thread of bitterness in the weave of that easy tone, one he hadn't noticed before. He glanced back. Tom looked calm enough, gaze mild, steady, hands hitched into the back pockets of his jumpsuit.
"They're coming in for inspection. Chakotay needs to look like a client if he's going to get out of here alive."
"And you want me to. . .?"
"Make it convincing." Briefly, they saw Dawson lean forward. He was hitting the "end transmission" touch-sensor, presumably. The screen went blank, and dead.
As it did so, Chakotay felt his skin begin to crawl. Cardassians. Client. Make it obvious. Convincing. He turned to face Tom, a definite tightness in his chest.
What he saw in Tom's face did nothing to reassure him. Acceptance. Focus. Tom was brushing the cobwebs of their small conversation off, it seemed, and preparing himself to--
"Yeah, Chakotay," he said, in a soft little voice. "Looks like we're going to fuck."
"I'll understand," Chakotay said, feeling a terrible heaviness in his limbs. "If you don't want to do this--" I don't want to do this, he thought. There has to be another way to--
"It's my job." Blue eyes gazed at him equitably. Chakotay noticed their clarity for the first time; they were perfect receptors, evidencing each reaction, each tiny fluctuation of pupil apparent in that hazy, angel blue.
"Tom, I don't really think--"
"I was right about you being Maquis," Tom said softly. "Wasn't I. And those are Cardassian soldiers out there." He held Chakotay's gaze. "Take off your shirt."
No. Chakotay wanted to shake his head. He realized he had more objection to doing this now--now that Tom had stepped somewhat from his role as brothel prostitute--even than he would have had it been demanded of him the moment Tom had walked into the room.
"Jeez," Tom said at Chakotay's obvious balk. "Okay, forget the shirt, just. . ." He snagged up Chakotay's untouched drink on his way past the table, and then gripped Chakotay by the shoulder. Holding him in place, Tom turned slightly to the side and downed the liquid, a long, singularly graceful motion, four swallows taking everything in but the ice. "Hold still."
And then, divesting himself of the glass, Tom dropped to his knees and began releasing the fastenings of Chakotay's pants.
"Tom--" The tight word was more than half protest. Tom was quick, however. Chakotay could already feel the air of the room, and Tom's significantly warmer breath, against his cock. He was tense, disturbed, a little angered. . .anything but aroused.
Tom said, "You could think about giving me something to work with here, Chakotay."
"I--don't know if I can--like this."
Blond hair brushed Chakotay's stomach as Tom positioned himself comfortably, sliding his hands up Chakotay's thighs to steady his hips. They fuck a human, they want him to sound like a Starfleet officer. Tom's sideburns were shaved to a point he noticed, his cock swelling slightly in response to the sight. God, that wasn't. . .right. Was it? He let the wall take his weight.
"Sure you can," Tom said, the words all breath. "See? You'll like this. . ." Dazed, Chakotay watched the blond curve of Tom's head nearing his cock. Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't watch him. . .
Tom's technique involved little preamble, but his mouth was moist, hot, and unquestionably experienced. It invited thrusts. Chakotay pressed his palms to the wall, and as the tight pleasure of Tom's ministrations grew, he balled them in to fists.
Glancing up, Tom relinquished half his hold on Chakotay's waist to reach with his left hand and tug on Chakotay's wrist, calmly seeking to increase the appearance of Chakotay's involvement in the act. Breathing heavily, Chakotay allowed his hand to be drawn down to grip that golden head. He closed his eyes, let himself thrust a little. When Tom encouraged this--with a small, heated sound of approval--Chakotay began to thrust in earnest.
A moment later he heard a quite different sound, very close, a gruff voice speaking a language he couldn't understand but which he immediately identified as--
He opened his eyes and found himself staring straight into the scaled face of a Cardassian.
Chakotay's first instinct--regardless of the fact that this was the scene he was supposed to be playing--was to go for his phaser. But when his hand reached down it closed on empty air. No phaser. That meant--
"Why--what's going on?" Tom said, now resting on one knee and looking from the Cardassian to Chakotay and back again. His face was all startlement, confusion.
The Cardassian answered him, gesturing to Chakotay, angrily. I can't understand him, Chakotay thought. He still wasn't wearing a translator, and the one half of his mind that acknowledged this began edging the scene with panic. The other half concerned itself with baser thoughts, wetness, heat; finish it moaned almost dizzily, unable to shut down the primal connection to his dick.
Years in the Maquis, and all he could do at this moment was stare at the Cardassian, blankly. He managed to fasten his pants, but that was about it.
Tom rose to his feet, and, wiping briefly at his mouth with the back of his hand (That shouldn't be a turn on, Chakotay told himself, almost desperately) he answered the Cardassian smoothly.
He speaks Cardassian. Chakotay watched the exchange between the two with a feeling akin to shock. Whatever Tom was saying was working, apparently, because the Cardassian male began nodding, bowing apologetically and backing out of the room. Tom turned back to Chakotay the moment he was gone with a huge grin on his face. "Shit, talk about close." Then, "Jeez, Chakotay, who'd know you'd react that way to a blow job," he said.
Chakotay blinked. The first words he said, a blurt of relief and shock, were, "You speak Cardassian."
It earned him a breath of laughter. "Yeah, I'm not just a pretty face, Chakotay."
"Where. . .you. . .where did you. . ."
"Learn it? Cardassia," Tom said, dismissively. "I'm actually a deep cover agent for the Obsidian Order. Ditto my family. You'd be surprised at the lengths to which those people will go."
The awkwardness of the moment was substantially averted by these words. Chakotay felt his cheek dimple in response to the wave of Tom's hand. "Your mother didn't find fighting in the Bajoran resistance something of a conflict of interest?"
"Oh, she was flexible," Tom said absently.
"I'll just bet."
"You know, I could take care of that for you. I'm, uh, responsible for it, after all. It's only fair."
"Thanks, but I'll manage." Chakotay attempted, by force of will alone, to lift Tom's eyes from his crotch.
"Whatever you say."
A thought presented itself. "What--um. Tom?" He tried to be casual. "What happened to my phaser?"
This time Tom whet his lips over the grin. "Here," he said. "Catch. And you might want this back, too." As Chakotay caught the phaser, Tom held up the data PADD.
Chakotay went cold. "If he'd seen--"
"Yeah, exactly. Pretty neat, huh?"
Neat. Chakotay shook his head. "You just saved my life, didn't you."
Tom backed off slightly when he heard this. "I--well, you know, not--"
"--really, I'd have--"
"Tom," Chakotay interrupted. "At least let me say thanks. I owe you one."
Tom seemed to halt what he was saying. He hugged himself, then nodded, slowly. "Yeah, okay."
What is it about him? Chakotay wondered, letting his gaze drift to Tom's face, noting the perfect nose, the smooth, clear skin, the ears with their upswept little tips. Was there Vulcan blood somewhere in Tom's ancestry, Chakotay wondered? It was difficult to imagine that Vulcan genes could have produced such a human-looking blue eyed blond. Not to mention that Chakotay was quite certain that no Vulcan would ever. . .
"You're staring," Tom said softly. Chakotay found his gaze being met by that disconcerting, sensual blue.
"I don't mind."
Chakotay realised that the silence was stretching out between them far too long. He ducked his head and looked away, changing the subject, awkwardly. "It's hot in here."
"Do you want me to leave?"
"I--" Chakotay looked back, struggled to identify what he saw in Tom's face. Want, his mind whispered, body flushing anew. Invitation. He began shaking his head. "What are you doing, Tom. We've done our required bit for the--"
Chakotay drew in a breath. "I don't--I don't think it's a good idea."
"Shit." Tom closed his eyes for a second. "Well, look me up in a million years, when you happen to be back in town."
"You could always hook up with the Maquis," Chakotay found himself saying. "Get the hell out of here."
Tom's face immediately shuttered. "No," he said.
"Why not? You're a quick thinker. You speak Cardassian Standard and you know your way around subspace. You could really do. . ."
"Do what?" Tom interrupted, almost angrily. "Fly around with a bunch of Maquis terrorists? Kill Cardassians? End up in a Federation prison?"
"Something important," Chakotay answered him. "Something that matters. Something that uses your skills and saves lives and helps people. It's a chance to--"
"No," Tom said again, turning away abruptly. "No. The Maquis have tried to recruit me before--spouting all the same stuff about chances and greatness--I turned them down. You wanna know why?" He didn't wait for Chakotay to answer, he was flushed, rounding back. "Because it's bullshit. Because people don't get an endless string of chances. They get one. If they're lucky, if they're really lucky--they get one. And the Maquis isn't mine. It wasn't then, and it isn't now. I had my chance, Chakotay. I screwed it up. And nothing else matters to me. You say the Maquis help people? Well, I don't give a shit."
Tom was close, staring defiantly at Chakotay, his lips slightly parted,
his gaze moist, his breathing rough. "Tom. You don't have to--"
The clientele here is predominantly Cardassian.
When Chakotay thrust in, the praises gave way to curses, which themselves heated from the archaic and mildly blasphemous ("God. . .") until Terran failed and Tom switched languages altogether, his head tossing from side to side while his body screwed back as best it could, stretched out on its back, with Chakotay pushing in between his legs.
". . .ChoSuvchugh 'oy'lIj Daghur neH. . ."
Chakotay identified only the repeated insult "baqtagh", but he recognized the language for what it was: tlhIngan Hol. Klingon. That Tom spoke Cardassian was perhaps understandable, given his current place of employment. That he also spoke Klingon was nothing short of remarkable.
"Where--where did you learn that?"
Lodged as far as he would go, the smooth planes of Tom's buttocks flush against his flesh, Chakotay gripped Tom's waist and held himself there, aching, full, wanting to thrust. Some perverse imp of the soul prompted him instead to halt there, struggle with it. He was breathing deeply, heavily, in an effort to hold himself back. Huskily, the question issued from him. "Where did you learn to speak Klingon?"
Tom arched his back a little in protest at the cessation, eyes squeezed tightly shut. "TlhIngan Hol moHvIjatlh."
Smartass. Chakotay let his grip slide, then pinched the muscled thigh beneath his hand. Tom spasmed slightly in response. "Where?"
He withdrew, a long slow motion, watching the slick length of his cock slide from the puckered opening between Tom's legs. Refusing to thrust back, watching Tom moan helplessly, holding position. His entire body demanded. He wrapped a hand around Tom's heavy cock.
"Fuck. . .you fuck. . ."
"Star--Starfleet Academy." The words were wrung from Tom's lips, a gasp of agonized sound, and he was almost sobbing with it, moisture sliding from beneath his golden lashes until his cheeks were wet. Lying little shit, Chakotay thought, rather fondly, as Tom continued, "I--I used to be a Starfleet pilot, but I--I--"
He pushed home, and Tom went wild, crying out and clawing at sheets. Yes, he thought, driving the rhythm, with Tom coming beneath him almost like a woman, cock shooting stripes of seed across his abdomen, hot, and thickly wet. Chakotay shuddered deeply into his own climax, thrusting until the last of his pleasure was done.
Tom said, "I. . .I have to just--" His voice sounded raw, unmistakably hoarse. "Let me up, Chakotay. I need to get myself cleaned, I--"
He squirmed his way out of the bed and disappeared into the adjoining bathroom. Chakotay stretched, let a lassitude take him, his breath slowing gradually, the throbbing of blood easing in his cock and head. Easy, comfortable feeling. Tom didn't hurry, and in his absence, in the warmth of the bed, Chakotay fell into sleep.
His eyes slitted open. . .morning. The room was empty. No Tom. He might have spent a moment wondering whether or not the preceding night had been a dream, but any such confusion was averted by the obvious signs of disarray in the bed.
"Tahn?" He rolled over, came face to face with the Bajoran man on the comm.
"You've got five minutes. We're transporting you out."
Chakotay rubbed at his eyes, managed to speak. "What--what about Tom Paris?"
Dawson gave him an incredulous look. "*Who*?"
"The. . .the blond that, uh. . ."
"Tom? What about him?" Dawson asked. He added, almost like an afterthought. "His surname isn't Paris. I don't think it is, anyway. Not sure really what it is, but--"
"He said he grew up in Idaho. Something about the Bajoran resistance. Cardassia. Starfleet. Is any of that true?"
Dawson snorted. "Doubt it. As far as I know he came from a planet called Eron IV."
"Do I have time to say--"
"No," Dawson interrupted. "No time. We're ready to beam you out--"
It was just the two of them in the vessel's tiny cockpit, and they'd been on the run for something like three weeks. Chakotay was tired, but they had reached a calm patch. There was time to take a breather, notice details of the conn. His gaze caught on a readout. It provoked an odd reaction.
"B'Elanna," he said, without looking up. "How long since you were at the Academy?"
"Years," she answered flatly.
"Did you ever take a course in subspace geometry?"
"Theoretical and applied. Just the basics. Why?"
"I just wondered. . ." Curiosity pushed the words on. "In the applied course. What was the first thing you learned?"
"The third co-efficient in the PS sequence is constant and equal to one except in the case of disturbance when it varies with respect to the disturbing field harmonic." She rattled this off in a bored sounding monotone. "Point two's a Starfleet signature, point five's a Bird of Prey. Chakotay? Why?"
"It's. . .nothing. I was just curious," he said, the words strange
on his lips. Slanted memory. He had maths and blue eyes in
his head. "Okay B'Elanna, we--we have the target on screen.
Engaging thrusters to port--"
choSuvchugh 'oy'lIj Daghur neH -- "Struggling (against your fate) only makes it hurt more."
tlhIngan Hol moHvIjatlh -- "I don't speak Klingon."