December 2001

Just Another Winter's Tale 
(A holiday PWP)

"Oh. I thought the holodeck was free. I didn't know you were about to use it, Chakotay. Sorry. I didn't mean to intrude," Tom apologised, turning away from the holodeck doors, intending to leave.

"Tom, wait. You're not intruding. I don't actually have this time-slot booked, so if you want to use the holodeck, you're very welcome to," Chakotay said, smiling. "Although, I must admit I'm surprised you're not in the Mess Hall enjoying the Christmas party that Neelix is staging."

"I thought I'd give that a miss," Tom responded with a shrug. "I fancied going for a stroll instead."

"Really? I thought you were always up for a party, Tom. It's not like you to escape to the holodeck on your own when there's festivities to be enjoyed."

"Actually, Chakotay, it's *very* like me. But as most people never bother to get to know me, they wouldn't be aware of that, would they?" Tom remarked as he decided to take the offered slot, keying in the program sequence before entering the holodeck.

Chakotay stood unmoving for a second or two, then followed the younger man, stopping just inside the door as a sudden gust of wind blew a flurry of snow into his face. "Tom. I didn't mean to upset you. I'm sorry if you thought I was making false assumptions about you, but I honestly thought you enjoyed the occasional parties we have aboard ship. You always give that impression."

"Yeah, I know," Tom sighed, pulling the heavy coat he'd purposely worn more tightly around him. "I give the wrong impressions about a lot of things," he muttered, turning to face the other man. "Look, Chakotay, it's me who should be sorry, not you. I shouldn't have got so defensive. I guess it's just this time of year. I've never really enjoyed it much."

"Oh, I see," Chakotay nodded, although his expression gave away the fact that he didn't see at all.

Tom picked up on it immediately. "No, you don't, Chakotay," he said with a slight smile. "You're just trying to be kind and sympathetic, the way you always are. You actually have no idea what I'm talking about. Do you?"

Chakotay gave a wry grin, and glanced down at the thick layer of snow that covered the ground. "Busted," he said quietly as he looked back up into Tom's amused face.

Tom laughed, then gestured with his head towards a path, edged on both sides with banks of drifted snow. It was quite narrow, and led through a group of tall conifers towards some unseen destination. "Want to walk with me?" he asked, smiling.

Chakotay smiled back at the unexpected invitation. "Yes, Tom," he answered, rubbing briskly at his arms. "But I think I need appropriate outer wear before we set off. I'll have to go back to my quarters and get my coat. I'll only be a few minutes."

"That's okay. I'll wait here for you," Tom said, kicking at a small pine cone, one of many that lay scattered around.

Chakotay nodded, then left. When he returned five minutes later, Tom was nowhere to be seen. He looked around, noting the footprints in the otherwise undisturbed snow that covered the path, and after waiting a short while to see if Tom would return, decided to follow them.

Snow was falling silently around him as he made his way through the trees, the firs catching many of the flakes as they drifted slowly down from the heavy clouds, their branches white, and bending under the weight of the accumulating snow. It was peaceful. Nothing disturbed the quiet, except the sound of his boots crunching through the snow beneath his feet as he trudged along. It was the kind of tranquil setting that he often conjured up for himself on the holodeck, but he'd never thought that Tom might also enjoy the serenity afforded by a place such as this. Before he could give any more thought to Tom's choice of program though, the man in question came into view.

Chakotay stopped, watching the younger man as he stared through the falling snow towards a range of low hills beyond the trees. Tom looked lost in his thoughts, and Chakotay was unsure whether to approach him. The decision was taken from him though, when, in an effort to ease the numbness caused by the cold, he moved his feet, and inadvertently stepped onto a patch of twigs that lay half buried in the snow.

Tom turned around, his attention caught by the sharp sounds of the twigs as they snapped, and he gave Chakotay a small smile before walking towards him. "You look warmer now," he commented, looking approvingly at the thick coat the older man had put on. "Sorry I didn't wait for you," he apologised. "But I got a bit restless. I didn't think you'd have too much trouble finding me though."

"No, your tracks were pretty obvious," Chakotay said, smiling. "This is a beautiful place, Tom," he added, glancing around. "And as different from the atmosphere in the Mess hall as it's possible to be."

"Yeah, that was the whole point," Tom said, brushing away the snow that had settled in his hair. "I wanted to get away from formality for a while."

"You didn't like Neelix's idea that everyone should wear dress uniform, then?"

"No, I didn't," Tom confessed, shuffling his feet. He turned to look down the path. "Come on, let's walk. I'm getting cold standing still."

"Okay," Chakotay agreed, and they set off towards the hills, leaving the shelter of the trees behind. They walked in silence for a short way, the wind whipping up the fallen snow and mixing it with the flakes that had yet to reach the ground, blowing it into their faces and making them sting with the cold. Chakotay rubbed at his reddened cheeks, then glanced at Tom. "Why snow, Tom?" he asked. "Why not some equally beautiful and quiet setting, with sunshine?"

"Because *this* is what I always wanted when I was a child, Chakotay," Tom stated, gesturing with his hands at the snow-covered landscape. "This is what I always wanted Christmas to be like, but it never was. You probably wouldn't understand."

"Try me, Tom," Chakotay suggested, taking hold of Tom's arm as he came to a halt. "I don't *always* just nod and smile, you know. Sometimes I actually *do* understand," he said with a grin, although his words were sincere.

Tom laughed and shook his head. "Yeah, I know you do, Chakotay. And it's kind of you to offer," he said, touched by the older man's concern for him. "But I don't want to bore you with my tales of woe. You must've come to the holodeck with relaxation in mind, not counselling sessions."

"You wouldn't be boring me, Tom. I'm genuinely interested. I'd love to know about your childhood," Chakotay said, studying the younger man as the snow swirled around them, large flakes already beginning to cover the trail of footprints they'd left. "You were right earlier, you know," he continued. "I've never really got to know you. And that's been a mistake. One that I'd like to rectify, if you'll let me." 

Tom looked surprised. "Really?" he asked "You really want to get to know me?"

"Yes, I do, Tom," Chakotay confirmed. "I've wanted to for a long time, but I've never really known how to approach you. Or if I should."

"Oh." Tom looked away, staring towards the tall firs that were now barely visible through the heavily falling snow. "The weather's getting worse," he remarked as he turned back. "Why don't we head for the trees again. It's more sheltered there."

"That's a good idea. And perhaps we can talk on the way," Chakotay suggested, stamping his feet to ease the numbness that had returned while he'd been standing still.

"What do you want to talk about?" Tom asked. "My childhood? Or why you want to get to know me?"

"Both," Chakotay replied as they set off towards the trees. "But first I'd like to know the reason you came *here* instead of going to the party."

"I already told you the reason," Tom answered, frowning. "I wanted to get away from formality. The idea of putting on dress uniform really didn't appeal to me."

"But why, Tom? You've worn it to other functions before without complaining. What's different about *this* party?"

Tom sighed, a haunted look appearing on his face. "It just reminded me of home," he said quietly. "And all the things I missed out on when I was a kid."

Chakotay frowned, noting the sadness apparent on Tom's face, and in his voice. "I don't understand, Tom," he said softly. "What did you miss out on?"

"A childhood, Chakotay. That's what I missed out on," Tom replied bitterly. "And all the fun that's supposed to be had at Christmas. You have no idea how lonely and boring it was to grow up in the Paris household."

"No, I don't, Tom," Chakotay agreed. "But I'll know if you tell me," he prompted. "What *was* it like?"

Tom stopped, leaning against the trunk of a tall fir tree as he turned to look at the older man. "It was like living at Starfleet Headquarters," he announced, angrily. "*Every* *single* *day*. Even at *Christmas*. We couldn't even celebrate *that* without it being turned into an official function. Instead of a nice, cosy family gathering, like most of my friends enjoyed, from as far back as I can remember, I had to endure a day surrounded by my father's bootlicking subordinates. It was hell, Chakotay. And I couldn't even console myself with my presents. Do you know why?"

"No, Tom," Chakotay answered, moving towards him and placing his hand on the upset man's shoulder. "Tell me," he said softly.

Tom snorted, then shook his head, his gaze dropping to the white ground beneath his feet. "Because they were only for show," he stated quietly. "My 'presents' were more for *them* than me." He sighed, the weight of Chakotay's hand on his shoulder relaxing him slightly as he continued. "I remember when I was six years old, Chakotay. My father gave me these wonderful models; replicas of sailing ships and old automobiles. But after I'd unwrapped them, I wasn't allowed to touch them again. They were put on a shelf in his study for all his colleagues to admire, but I wasn't allowed to go anywhere near them. I had to content myself with looking at them from a distance. Can you imagine what that was like for a six year old boy?"

"No, Tom. I can't," Chakotay said, stepping closer, then gently squeezing the younger man's shoulder.

"Well, it was awful," Tom stated, looking up, his gaze caught by Chakotay's sympathetic brown eyes. "My only escape was to go to my room and pretend I was somewhere else. I'd get out some old picture books I had, look through them for illustrations that depicted the sort of Christmas I wanted, then I'd lose myself in my imagination. That's sort of how this holodeck program came about. I know I'm not a child any more, and it shouldn't still bother me, but Neelix's Christmas party reminded me of too many bad memories, and I wanted somewhere that was as far removed from them as possible."

"And *this* is what you always wanted Christmas to be like?" Chakotay queried. "Somewhere cold, and alone?"

"Not exactly," Tom said, still looking into Chakotay's eyes. "I've never really wanted to be alone. Things have just never worked out for me where that sort of thing's concerned."

"Yes. I know what that's like," Chakotay remarked quietly. "Things have never worked out for me either." He dropped his hand from Tom's shoulder, and looked up at the thick clouds overhead, sighing heavily as the longing he always felt when he was near Tom began to overwhelm him. He sighed again, then his thoughts were interrupted by Tom's soft voice.

"Are you okay, Chakotay? You look really sad. D'you want to tell me about it?"

Chakotay was quiet for a moment, unsure what to say. "There's not much to tell, really," he finally answered, brushing the snow from his coat sleeves and watching it fall to the ground. "I'm alone. I don't want to be. But...."

"But what, Chakotay?" Tom asked, grabbing the older man's hand before he could brush at his sleeve again. "What is it? *Who* is it?"

Chakotay swallowed hard, closing his eyes as he summoned up the courage to say what he'd always wanted to say, but had never dared. It was now or never. "You, Tom," he answered quietly. "It's you." He quickly looked away, attempting to pull his hand from Tom's grasp, but the younger man held him fast.

"So *that's* why you want to get to know me better?" Tom asked softly. "You want me?"

Chakotay nodded. "Yes," he replied simply.

Tom laughed, shaking his head as he grabbed Chakotay's other hand. "I don't believe this," he said, gently squeezing Chakotay's cold fingers as he pulled the other man closer. "I've wanted you since the first day I met you, Chakotay, but I never thought I'd ever have a chance with you," he confessed, still shaking his head in wonder. "This *is* for real, isn't it? You really *do* want me?"

"Judge for yourself, Tom," Chakotay answered, smiling with relief, and amazed that his feelings were reciprocated. He stepped forward, pushing the younger man until his back was against the tree trunk, then leaned in and found Tom's lips, kissing him hungrily as he finally achieved what he'd spent years longing for.

"Yeah, I guess you *do* want me," Tom said, panting slightly when Chakotay eventually released him. "D'you want to take this somewhere else?"

"No, Tom. I don't," Chakotay responded, pressing against him. "I want to take you here. Now."

"Then take me," Tom whispered, closing his eyes and tilting his head back, snow falling gently onto his upturned face.

Chakotay sighed softly, his lips against Tom's neck. "You can't imagine how many times I've heard those words in my dreams, Tom," he murmured before nipping at the younger man's throat. "But they've never sounded quite so sweet as they did just then." He moved to Tom's cheek, licking at the flakes of snow as they melted on the warmth of Tom's skin, enjoying the man's soft moans as he found his lips. Pressing Tom back against the tree, he devoured the younger man's mouth, fumbling with the fastenings on first Tom's coat and then his own until they were open, and their bodies could meet with less clothing between them.

Tom groaned, his erection straining against the material of his pants as Chakotay's groin met his, their bodies instinctively moving to create the friction they both craved. He moaned again as hands slipped inside his shirt, his breath catching at first as cold fingers caressed his skin, the gentle movements sending a shiver of excitement down his spine. Tom moved his own hands to Chakotay's waist, pulling him in closer, the older man's movements speeding up as he rubbed against him. "Chakotay, please," he whispered. "Please. I need more."

Chakotay stepped back, pulling off his coat and quickly spreading it out over the snow-covered ground. He tugged at Tom until they were both stretched out on top of it, his now warm fingers working to undo the fastenings on Tom's pants. "I want to taste you, Tom," he stated, his fingers delving inside the younger man's shorts, wrapping around Tom's erection and bringing it out into the chilly air.

Before Tom could moan about the cold, a warm, moist mouth engulfed him, making him moan loudly. "Oh, yes. Yes," he breathed. "That feels so good. So good. Oh..." He trailed off, his hands gripping the dark head at his groin as he slowly pumped into Chakotay's mouth. He felt the older man's hands grasp the waistband of his pants, gently pulling them down over his hips, then further, until they were at his knees. Fingers worked their way to the backs of his thighs, gently rubbing and massaging them, the effects of the cold air cancelled out as the actions warmed him. Tom groaned as he felt the hands slowly moving higher, and a finger found its way between his cheeks to press insistently at the opening there. It pushed inside him, moving in and out as another joined it. Tom moaned again, pulling out of Chakotay's mouth. Removing his coat, he turned onto his front. "Please, Chakotay," he begged. "Please."

Chakotay responded instantly, bending over the younger man and running his tongue between Tom's cheeks, his hands gripping Tom's hips as he began to probe deeper. Tom looked back over his shoulder, shivering slightly from Chakotay's attentions, and the flakes of snow that were falling on his exposed skin. "That's all I need, Chakotay. Take me. I'm ready," he insisted.

Chakotay nodded, then opened his pants to reveal his painfully hard erection. Moistening his hand with saliva, he coated the entire length, then gently pulled the younger man to his knees. Placing the tip of his erection at the opening to Tom's body, he groaned softly, then louder as he slowly pushed inside.

With the snow falling on, and around them, they moved together, the silence of the winter landscape broken by their continual moans and gasping breaths as they headed towards their goal. Chakotay draped himself over Tom's back as he moved rapidly inside the younger man, thrusting hard and deep, his hands around Tom's waist as he pumped his lover's erection, and fondled his balls. As he moved, his lips pressed against Tom's neck, kissing and sucking the pale skin, leaving his mark on the younger man.

Tom groaned loudly, and as his orgasm hit, Chakotay erupted deep inside Tom's body, both men falling forward then as they collapsed together onto Chakotay's coat. They lay panting, Chakotay's body still covering Tom's before he eventually moved to one side. He pulled Tom into his arms, hugging him tightly as they gently kissed, minutes passing before they finally broke apart.

Tom smiled, gazing up through the still-falling snow at the branches of the tree they were beneath, and his smile grew wider. "Perfect," he said softly, directing Chakotay's attention to a plant with green, waxy leaves, and white berries, growing on the tree's trunk, and spreading along a branch a few metres above their heads.

Chakotay smiled, the significance of mistletoe not unknown to him. "Do you know that according to one custom, this means we're now promised to each other in marriage?"

"Really?" Tom asked, gently stroking Chakotay's cheek. "I think I like the sound of that custom." And his lips met Chakotay's for another long kiss.

The end.

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