|Tom Through the Looking-Glass. NC-17
Life in the Delta quadrant had been peaceful of late. It had been three weeks since Voyager and her crew had last encountered hostile action. The commander of a small ship, who seemingly suffered from delusions of grandeur, had demanded they surrender and prepare to be boarded. It hadn't seemed to matter to him, at first, that Voyager was at least ten times the size of his ship, with fire power in proportion. But, after several shots across its bows had rocked the tiny ship severely, he'd eventually got the message. The ship had left swiftly, and hadn't been seen since. According to the Yartisian diplomat that Captain Janeway had just finished speaking with, the small pirate ships were a well-known nuisance in the area.
Diplomat Evin had given Voyager permission to take up orbit around Yartis, and had arranged for trade negotiations to take place. There was also the promise of shore-leave for Voyager's crew. Four of the senior officers would go first, on a sort of pre-leave inspection. Partly to assess suitability, and partly in order to become better acquainted with Yartis' life and customs, prior to the commencement of formal talks.
They would be going down in pairs; Janeway and Tuvok, Chakotay and Paris, thus ensuring that the Captain and First Officer were not off the ship at the same time. Chakotay had convinced the Captain that he and Tom should check the place out first, with regard to Janeway's safety. It wouldn't do, he'd argued, for Voyager to lose her Captain. Something that Janeway didn't always stop to consider, when she occassionally rushed headlong into the thick of things.
Arriving on the surface, Chakotay and Tom were welcomed warmly by Diplomat Evin. They had been transported down to a large, sprawling government building at the heart of one of the planet's main commercial centres. After being given a short tour of the impressive structure, they were shown around the surrounding grounds, a beautiful combination of tree-lined gardens and fountains.
Evin arranged for the two men to be supplied with some local currency, then urged them to visit one of the city's pride and joys; a large and busy market, reminiscent of an old Earth bazaar. It was, apparently, a focal point for all the artisans and traders in this part of Yartis.
Although extremely large, the market was well sign-posted and there were plenty of 'you are here' type map displays to be seen. The Yartisians were extremely friendly, with an apparently crime-free society, so the two officers decided to explore without the aid of a guide. The bustling market stretched over an immense area and Chakotay and Tom were instantly struck by the diversity of sights, sounds and smells as they stepped from the shuttle that had taken them there.
"Wow. Have you ever seen so many colours in one place before, Cha?" Tom asked, looking with wonder from one stall to another.
"Only on the suits that Neelix wears," Chakotay grinned as he looked around as well.
Tom laughed, then grabbed Chakotay's hand. "Come on, let's see if we can find something to take home."
They strolled hand in hand through rows of eager traders. Most were Yartisians, although there were a few other species represented that the officers didn't recognize. There were craftsmen of all types. From carpenters to potters; sculptors to makers of strange musical instruments. Hand-made rugs with intricate designs, hung side-by-side with beautiful paintings and tapestries. Everywhere there was something new and exciting to see.
"What sort of thing were you thinking of buying, Tom?" Chakotay asked as they stopped to look at a tray of exquisite jewellery.
"I'm not sure yet, but I'll know when I see it," Tom replied with certainty.
Chakotay smiled, slipping his arm around Tom's waist. "Let's walk on a little further. I smell food ahead."
"God, Cha, you're not still hungry are you? We only ate a couple of hours ago."
"I know, but something smells good. I'm just curious about what it could be, that's all."
"That's a feeble excuse, Chakotay," Tom laughed. "You're just trying to fill yourself up so you don't have to eat in the mess-hall tonight."
Chakotay smiled. "And that's a bad thing?"
"Now that I think about it, no," Tom grinned. "Perhaps I'll do the same."
They walked on, following their noses, until they spied a small food bar. Low benches and tables, many occupied, were spread out in a semi-circular fashion in front of it. As they approached, Tom suddenly stopped. "Look, Cha," he said, pointing to a rather dingy-looking stall. He quickly walked across to it, Chakotay trailing behind. The stall-holder, a small Yartisian, smiled as they approached.
On the stall were many artefacts. Most of which they couldn't identify. Tom, however, stood transfixed by the object at the centre of the display. It was a translucent sphere. It contained a mirror which appeared as though it was made of molten silver, the images it reflected clear and sharply defined. The sphere rested on a circular base which seemed to be made of stone and had small crystals of different colours around the edges.
"You like?" asked the still-smiling trader.
"Yes, I do. It's very unusual," Tom replied as he took a closer look.
The trader pointed to a round object, similar to a large glass marble, resting in an indentation in the sphere's base. "Leave here, you stay," he said. At Tom's puzzled look, he continued. "You hold, you return. It works. You hold, you return."
"We have to return to our ship soon, yes," Tom answered, not really sure what the trader was trying to say. The universal translator was doing it's best, but it seemed the Yartisian just had a very poor grasp of his own language.
"Yes, yes. Must return, you hold."
"I think he's pushing for a sale, Tom," Chakotay offered.
"I think he's got one. It's beautiful," Tom answered. He looked at the trader. "How much?"
"Fifty," came the reply.
"That's quite a lot. I'm not sure I can give you fifty."
The trader looked askance at Tom. "It works. Fifty!" he insisted.
"How about I give you forty?" Tom tried.
The trader looked thoughtful for a moment. "Forty five," he said.
Tom smiled. "Deal." He handed over the money, and the trader began rummaging around below the counter. A brightly coloured box was pulled out. But, before the Yartisian packed the sphere into it, he fixed a retaining clip to the base to hold the 'marble' in place.
"Good journeys," the trader said, bowing.
"Thank you," Tom replied, then stepped away.
"Have you finished shopping?" Chakotay asked as he slipped an arm around Tom's shoulders. "Can we go eat now?"
Tom rolled his eyes. "Yes, Chakotay, we can eat now," he answered with a grin. "Come on."
They walked to the food bar and ordered, then took their meals to one of the tables, seating themselves side by side on the accompanying bench. The food was almost as colourful as the surrounding market, but its wonderful aroma made them eager to try it.
"This is great," Tom enthused, eating with gusto.
"Yes, it is," Chakotay agreed. "I usually have to check alien food very carefully. It's not always easy to tell whether it's meat or not."
"No problems here though, Cha. A whole planet full of vegetarians. You'd fit in well."
"Are you trying to get rid of me or something?" Chakotay asked, giving Tom a mock glare.
"Never," Tom replied sincerely, reaching over to softly kiss Chakotay's lips. They smiled at each other, then continued their meal. "How long until we have to be back on Voyager?" Tom asked between mouthfuls.
"About an hour. So, there's no need to rush here. It should only take us about twenty minutes to get back to the shuttle."
"I suppose we'll need to report to the Captain as soon as we're back on the ship," Tom remarked.
"Well, as soon as we've showered and changed anyway. That way, she and Tuvok will be able to transport down today as well," Chakotay replied as he picked up his glass of juice.
"How long are the negotiations likely to take? Do you know?"
"I'm not sure. But judging by what we've seen today, I think it should go well. The Yartisians are a very open, honest lot, so I don't think there will be too many problems to overcome."
"I hope they include this food in the trade deals. It's the best I've tasted in a long time," Tom commented.
"I still have some money left. Perhaps we could take our own supply back," Chakotay said thoughtfully.
"Great idea. We can save it for when the mess hall actually serves what its name suggests." Tom grinned.
An hour and a half later, the two officers were back on board Voyager. They had showered, changed and were now entering the Captain's ready room. "Have a seat, gentlemen," Janeway offered, gesturing to the couch. She took a seat opposite. "How did it go, Commander?"
"Very well, Captain. I don't think there will be any problems allowing the crew shore leave. I think trade negotiations will probably go smoothly as well. Yartisian society is well-ordered, crime-free and friendly."
"And the food's great," Tom chipped in, smiling.
"Well, it all sounds promising," Janeway said, sitting back in her chair. "Tuvok and I will transport down shortly. I think we will need to remain in orbit for another four days. That should allow the crew about five hours of daylight shore leave each. We'll send them down in groups of twenty. Hopefully, negotiations can be completed within that time."
"I think that's probable," the First Officer said. "There doesn't appear to be any lengthy ceremonies, or anything similar, that we'll be expected to take part in. It should be pretty straightforward."
"Good," Janeway said, standing up. "We'll have a proper chat and compare notes tomorrow. Thank you for your observations, Chakotay. And you too, Tom."
"Have a good time down there, Captain," Tom said. "And don't miss the market. It's amazing."
"I'll be sure to have a look," Janeway replied as the two men headed for the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"What do you want to do now, Tom?" Chakotay asked as they walked towards the turbolift. "We're not on duty for the rest of the day."
"Let's head back home. I want to unpack that sphere," Tom replied as they entered the lift.
"Okay," Chakotay agreed, then called for their deck.
They arrived quickly and walked down the quiet corridor to their quarters. Once inside, Tom picked up the colourful box from the table where he'd left it earlier, and carefully removed the sphere.
"Where are you going to put it?" Chakotay asked, looking over Tom's shoulder.
"I'm not sure." Tom looked thoughtful for a moment. "How about in the bedroom?"
"Let's take it in there and see what it looks like," Chakotay suggested. "Perhaps you should leave that clip in place. It'll stop that marble thing getting lost," he added.
"Good idea," Tom agreed as he carried the sphere into the bedroom, Chakotay following. He placed it on the cabinet, then took a step back to admire it. As he did, strong arms wound themselves around his waist. "What do you think, Cha?" Tom asked, leaning back against the solid body behind him.
"Perfect," Chakotay whispered in Tom's ear, before dropping his hands to Tom's groin.
Tom closed his eyes and sighed softly. "Mmm, what are you doing?" he asked.
"There's a couple of spheres *here* that *I'd* like to unwrap," Chakotay murmured, squeezing gently. His hands travelled up to undo the fastenings of Tom's pants, then his fingers slowly worked their way inside, rubbing and teasing Tom's growing erection through the material of his shorts. Tom moaned softly, shifting slightly as his pants and shorts were tugged down below his knees. Chakotay pressed himself hard against Tom's back, then resumed his caresses.
"That feels so good, Cha," Tom breathed out as Chakotay began to lightly kiss and lick his neck. Teeth soon followed and Tom moaned loudly, reaching back to run his hands down Chakotay's thighs. His erection was gripped tighter. The warm hand stroking it started to speed up, while Chakotay's other hand continued to gently fondle him.
Chakotay pushed himself closer, rubbing his erection against Tom, and both men's breathing started to become ragged. Tom's head tilted to the side, exposing more of his neck, and Chakotay sucked on it hungrily, leaving marks as he did. Tom felt the end approaching and thrust furiously into Chakotay's hand, finally coming with a loud cry.
"I love you, Tom," Chakotay whispered as the younger man sagged limply in his embrace.
He sat Tom down on the edge of the bed, bending to kiss him, slowly and lovingly, before gently pushing him to lay flat. Chakotay quickly removed Tom's shoes and socks, pants and shorts, then continued the slow, lazy kisses as he knelt above him. Tom's hands reached out, finding the older man's pants and undoing them. Chakotay kicked off his shoes, then tugged his pants and shorts off, throwing them hastily to the floor. The two men lay half naked in each other's arms, kissing and stroking, as Chakotay rubbed himself insistently against Tom's groin.
"I love you so much, Cha," Tom murmured softly. He gently rolled Chakotay over, then bent to take the man's erection in his mouth. Chakotay groaned, lifting his hips and forcing himself deeper into the moist warmth. He was too aroused for it to last long and, as Tom sucked powerfully, he came hard into the pilot's mouth, moaning loudly. Tom gently licked Chakotay clean, then moved up the bed to lie in his arms. They snuggled together drowsily, drifting off to sleep minutes later.
The previous two weeks had been hectic, to say the least. The trade negotiations had gone well, being completed within the four days allotted for shore leave, and technology had been exchanged.
The Yartisians had been extremely interested in the holodecks and had been given equipment to create their own. In return, Voyager had recieved the means to enhance her sensors and shields. Something that was proving extremely useful as she had been the target of several pirate ships since leaving Yartis.
The shuttles' systems were also being upgraded and Tom had been busy test-flying them, when gaps in the attacks allowed. It had been just after he had completed his final flight, the day before, that he'd been called to help out with routine cases in sick-bay while the Doctor coped with an emergency.
It was B'Elanna. She had gone into very early labour and the doctor was trying everything he could to halt it. Unfortunately, nothing was working. Harry sat next to her bio-bed, distraught, as the Doctor told them he could now only concentrate his efforts on keeping the baby alive once it was delivered. It would be difficult though, as at twenty four weeks many of it's vital organs would be under-developed.
Tom watched with sadness as his ex-wife and ex-best friend struggled with their grief. He wanted to try and console them, even though they had hurt him badly, but he didn't think his attentions would be welcomed. He treated a few minor injuries, all the while monitoring developments from a distance.
He was there as B'Elanna and Harry's daughter was delivered. Despite the Doctor's best efforts, she only lived for fifteen minutes, her tiny lungs totally inadequate for survival. B'Elanna was sedated, and the Doctor had dismissed Tom from sick-bay, his services no longer required.
Almost as soon as he'd left, the red-alert had sounded and he'd raced to the bridge. They were under attack again, from another renegade ship. They managed to deter it but, shortly after, another took it's place. And so it had continued; they would chase off one rogue ship, only to be confronted by another a few hours afterwards.
Now, twenty four hours later, everyone was feeling the strain. Voyager had sustained only minimal damage, but her crew's nerves were becoming frayed from the constant attacks.
Janeway looked around at her bridge crew, most of whom had only had a few hours sleep in the last two days. They looked haggard and in desperate need of rest. Long range scans showed the surrounding area clear for now, so she decided to take advantage of the lull and take some of her officers off duty.
"Mr. Paris, I've called up a replacement for you. Once he arrives, you are to take a break. Try and get some sleep. I'll contact you if you're needed."
"Aye, Captain," Tom replied, gratefully.
"Commander," she said, looking at her First Officer. "I'd like you to get some rest now, too."
"With respect, Captain," he replied. "I think you're more in need of rest than I am. Why don't you take a few hours off first, you've been on the bridge longer than I have."
Janeway thought for a moment. "Maybe that would be a good idea," she agreed. "I'll take a three hour break. You have the bridge until I return."
Tom's replacement arrived and Tom left the bridge, smiling warmly at Chakotay on his way out. "Love you, Cha," he whispered as he walked past.
Chakotay smiled back. "See you later, Tom."
Tom arrived back at their quarters to find a few things on the floor of the living area. 'Must have been that attack when we didn't get our shields up quick enough,' Tom thought. Some padds had fallen from the table, and a bowl of Yartisian fruit was also a casualty. He picked everything up and made his way into the bedroom.
The first thing he saw, as he almost trod on it, was the 'marble' from the base of the sphere. He picked it up and walked towards the cabinet. The sphere was on the floor but appeared to be intact. He retrieved it and put it back in it's spot, then looked carefully at the base. The crystals there seemed to be glowing. 'That's odd,' Tom thought, and touched the blue crystal with his finger. As the others ceased to glow, a bright blue light shone from the mirror and enveloped Tom.
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