aodcp4
As One Door Closes
Part Four



When Tom woke up the next morning, he found Chakotay by his side, staring at the ceiling. He could tell the older man was still feeling guilty. He moved over to him and kissed his cheek, softly. "Morning," he smiled. "And, before you say anything, I'm still fine about what we did."

Chakotay gave a relieved sigh, then hugged Tom tightly. "Thanks. I was worried about how you would feel this morning. I didn't want you to think that I've been helping you for selfish reasons. I haven't. Although, there's no point in me denying the fact that it's you I'm attracted to. I'm sure you've worked that one out."

"Yeah, the other day, actually," Tom admitted.

"Does it bother you?" Chakotay asked nervously.

Tom snorted. "If it did, I wouldn't be here cuddling with you, would I?"

"No, I suppose not," Chakotay grinned.

"We never got round to taking that shower last night," Tom mused. "Shall we grab one now?"

"Yeah. Do you want to go first?" Chakotay asked.

"Actually, I was thinking perhaps we could share one," Tom said, looking into Chakotay's eyes.

Chakotay took a couple of deep breaths before answering. "Tom, if we share a shower, I'm not going to be responsible for my actions. I just *know* my mind will shut down as soon as I step into the bathroom. So, it might not be such a good idea. Besides, have you forgotten that you're straight?"

"I definitely forgot last night," Tom grinned. "And it was great. I want more. I want to shower with you." He leaned over to give Chakotay a lingering kiss.

Chakotay got up from the bed and grabbed Tom by the hand, pulling urgently at him. "Come on," he whispered, then led Tom to the bathroom.

He turned the shower on and pulled Tom to stand under the warm water, wrapping his arms around him and kissing him slowly and deeply. Tom returned the kiss wholeheartedly, and Chakotay could feel the evidence of Tom's arousal pressed hard against his own.

He growled and pushed Tom back against the wall, kissing him harder while exploring his body with eager hands. He reached for the soap and began to gently and sensually lather Tom up.

Tom moaned in pleasure and closed his eyes, his head tilted slightly back as he gave in to sensation.

Chakotay couldn't resist the temptation of Tom's neck, and began to nip and suck at the soft skin. He knew he was leaving marks, but he couldn't stop. It was intoxicating. This was a dream come true. He'd wanted Tom for so long. His hands roamed everywhere, caressing and stroking, squeezing and fondling.

Tom couldn't believe it, he felt like he was floating. He ran his hands over Chakotay's body, returning the touches, and it added even more to his highly aroused state. He took a handful of soap and grasped the other man's erection. Chakotay began to pump slowly into Tom's hand, letting his own hands travel down Tom's back to begin a massage of his cheeks.

"Cha, that feels so good," Tom gasped against the big man's neck.

Their mouths met and they kissed passionately, one powerful kiss after another. As their tongues met again, Tom felt Chakotay's questing fingers slip between his cheeks, probing him gently. Another hand worked its way into the hair at the back of his head, holding him in place.

He continued to stroke Chakotay's erection and, as intense feelings of pleasure washed over him, he was unaware that a finger had slid inside him. It only registered when it began to move, sliding in and out, over and over.

"Oh, God, Cha! Oh, God!" Tom moaned breathily. "More, please! More!"

Chakotay obliged with two soapy fingers, probing and twisting, sliding slowly in and out. Tom was so aroused that he didn't tense up at all, not even when two fingers became three and stretched him open further. A fourth finger joined the others in their explorations and Tom moaned loudly.

"Please!" he implored. "Cha, please!"

Chakotay pressed against him. "What do you want, Tom? Tell me," he growled. "What do you want?"

"You! Please, I want you! Come inside me. Please!" he begged.

Chakotay kissed Tom hungrily, then turned him to face the wall. He ran his hands possessively down Tom's back to grasp his cheeks, rubbing his erection between them as he did. He spread Tom's legs wide, then pulled at him until he was bent at the waist, his hands against the wall.

Tom moaned, trying to connect with the warmth behind him as Chakotay probed him again with soapy fingers. The big man coated his own erection with lots of the creamy soap, then lined himself up with Tom's opening.

With great control, he began to press very slowly, and steadily, in. He growled and moaned almost continuously as he watched himself sliding into that place he never thought he would go.

Tom had never experienced such intense sensations before, it was almost overwhelming. He wished he could see Chakotay entering him, filling him. "Cha," he breathed. "Oh, oh. Mmm." Words failed him as the First Officer began to move inside him.

Chakotay held onto Tom's hips as he pushed all the way in, then draped himself over Tom's back. "So good, Tom. So, so good," he chanted as he gently started to thrust in and out.

Tom was breathing heavily, his head tipped back, and he could feel Chakotay panting against his neck as his movements began to speed up. It couldn't last much longer, both men approaching the point of no return.

An arm moved around Tom's waist and practised fingers pumped his erection. The men moved together, wildly, until Tom felt teeth marking his throat and he came with a long, shuddering cry. His muscles tightened around Chakotay and took him over the edge, too. The big man growled loudly and exploded inside Tom's body, and Tom could feel the warmth spread through him.

They collapsed against the wall, panting heavily as the water continued to wash over them. Chakotay turned Tom in his arms and they kissed, tenderly. A gentle, loving kiss that neither wanted to break too soon.

"God, Chakotay," Tom finally said. "I can honestly say, that was the best experience of my life. Wow!"

Chakotay smiled, then kissed him lightly. "And I can honestly say, the reality of you was far superior to my dreams." He pulled Tom to him and hugged him. "Thank you," he whispered. "That was the best experience of my life, too."

"Let's dry off and go back to bed," Tom suggested, quietly.

"Sounds good to me. Fancy a cuddle session?" Chakotay grinned.

"Yeah, I do. My batteries need recharging again," Tom replied, handing Chakotay a towel.

Chakotay gently began to rub Tom dry, and Tom returned the favour with another towel. They were soon settling back down in the bed.

They checked the time and found it was 1131 hours.

"We've missed breakfast again," Chakotay laughed. "Neelix will think we're avoiding him. He won't be too happy."

"Maybe not," Tom said. "But *I'm* very happy."

Chakotay lay quiet for a while, then spoke softly. "Tom, what happens now? What do you want? Is this something you want to pursue, or are we still just friends?"

"I don't want to be just friends, Cha. I'd like to explore this further. I think we could have something really good. I'd like to give it a try, if you'll have me," Tom explained.

"Are you sure, Tom?" Chakotay asked, gazing intently at Tom's face. "This is all very new to you, are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yes, it is. Being with you is incredible. And I don't just mean the sex part. I really enjoy your company. I love your sense of humour, and the way you're strong on the outside and a complete softy inside.

"You're fun, caring, compassionate and the Cuddling Champion of the Universe. And I want to be with you, even if it does seem far too soon. I don't want to spend weeks waiting, for appearances sake, when we could be spending the time together." Tom snuggled closely to Chakotay. "Besides, you said yourself, I need someone stronger and more dominant as a partner. Who better than you? Do you want me, Cha?"

Chakotay smiled and gently stroked Tom's hair. "I want you, Tom Paris. You're a keeper."

Tom gazed up at him, hopefully. "Keep me, then. Please?"

Chakotay held Tom tightly to him, kissing him over and over with all the love in his heart, before finally whispering to him.

"I claim you, Tom Paris. You're mine."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay and Tom had been back on duty for ten days.

Tom hadn't slept in 'Lilliput', and most of his clothes were now residing in the First Officer's closet. He kept the small cabin as a front, the two men having decided that their private life should stay private a little while longer.

Harry and B'Elanna had moved in together, and most of the crew had deduced correctly why Tom had asked for a divorce. So, for once Tom wasn't the gossips' main target.

It was an hour into their duty shift, when Janeway called Chakotay to her ready room.

"Have a seat, Commander. Would you like a drink?"

"No, I'm fine, thank you. What can I do for you, Captain?"

Janeway took a seat opposite him. "I've just finished speaking with the representative of the Kaltan home-world. They've agreed to negotiate with us. It seems they may be willing to trade technology as well as materials. In any case, they're happy to let us have as much food as we want, regardless of the outcome of the talks."

"That's good news. How long until we meet with them?" Chakotay asked.

"Unfortunately, the Kaltanians do not allow warp travel through their space, so it's going to be impulse engines only. We're looking to arrive at their home-world in about three and a half days."

"Do you want me to conduct the negotiations?"

"Actually, no, Commander," Janeway replied. "Tuvok and I will handle that, this time. I have another assignment for you. The Kaltanians' territory includes an M-class planet that we're about a days journey from. That's where they say we can restock our food supplies. I want to leave an away team there while Voyager continues on to the negotiations.

"Because of the restrictions on warp travel, and certain ceremonies we're expected to take part in, the group will be on their own for between seven to ten days. As you are the most qualified for a stay of this sort, I'd like you to lead the away team."

"Shuttle or transporters?"

"Transporters. I'd like to send about eight people down. We should be able to replenish supplies quite well with that number. And, I want to kill two birds with one stone. The size of the group should mean shorter working hours and there are one or two crew members that could do with a break. This way we can combine the two."

"A sort of working holiday?" Chakotay smiled.

"Exactly. I'll leave you to work out what equipment you'll need, but I have a few ideas about who I'd like to send," Janeway said, sitting back in her chair.

"And who do you want to send?"

"Well, first up, there's Neelix," she began. "He will obviously enjoy food gathering, and he definitely needs some down time. Then, there's Tom. We won't really need him on the ship as we'll only be travelling at impulse. He'd be bored to death with that." She paused, looking thoughtful. "I was wondering if we could send Sam and Naomi. Do you think Naomi would be okay? Sam really needs time off and Neelix would enjoy their company. What's your opinion?"

"I think they'll be fine. Naomi's a sensible girl, and it would do her good to run around outdoors for awhile. We'll take a complete med-kit and, with Tom there, the health side will be well taken care of. And, I think you're right, Neelix will enjoy their company," Chakotay offered. "So who else?"

"Well, I thought Tom could do with some company, as well. I know he seems fine when he's on duty, but that's the only time anyone ever sees him lately. He doesn't seem to socialise anymore. I thought I'd send Megan and Jenny Delaney along. If anyone can get Tom back to normal, those two can."

Janeway looked across at Chakotay, but couldn't determine the expression on his face; it seemed to be a mixture of annoyance and humour. "The last place, I'll leave up to you," she said as her mind drifted back to the previous evening.

She'd been sitting in bed, reading a novel, when a sudden thump on the wall behind her made her jump. The noise was from the cabin next door, the First Officer's quarters.

She'd tried to go back to reading, but there were a few more muffled thuds and then, she had definitely heard someone moaning. Two people moaning, for almost half an hour.

She'd been very surprised, and curious, too. Although she *had* refrained from asking the computer the identity of the Commander's guest, deciding to do some old fashioned detective work instead. She'd thought it could prove to be an interesting distraction. "Perhaps there's someone *you* would especially like to take along for company?" Janeway probed.

Chakotay smiled and looked at her appraisingly, thinking, 'She's up to something.'

"No, Captain," he said. "I don't need anyone else for company. But, another strong pair of arms for fetching and carrying wouldn't go amiss. Ayala would be a good choice for that, I think."

Janeway looked slightly puzzled. "Are you sure, Chakotay?"

"Yes, I'm sure," he said, still smiling.

"Okay then. That's the eight. Well, seven and a half, anyway."

"I'll go and start organising equipment, shall I?" Chakotay asked, standing up.

Janeway stood as well. "Yes. I'll inform the relevant crew members," she said, before they headed back out to the bridge.

Tom turned as they entered, and caught the Commander's eye. Chakotay looked amused. He crossed to the helm and bent to whisper in Tom's ear, Janeway watching from the command chair.

"We're going on an away mission," he started. "The Captain thinks you need time with the Delaney sisters to get you back to normal."

"What?"  Tom shouted, looking mortified.

Chakotay laughed loudly, while Janeway sat completely mystified. "I'll tell you everything later," he chuckled, then added very quietly. "She doesn't know."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A day and a half later, the away team stood on the planet that would be their home for at least the next week. A large storage unit had been erected, containing empty packing crates that would all need to be filled.

The team was to gather as much food, and as many plant specimens as they could, and these would be held in the storage unit, awaiting Voyager's return.

Because Janeway wanted the away mission to be relaxed, uniforms had been put aside in favour of off-duty clothes.

"Okay, let's get the tents put up and everything stowed, then we'll take an hour off," Chakotay instructed.

The tents were soon erected. Sam and Naomi had requested that Neelix share their tent and Chakotay had agreed. The team had increased by one, with the addition of Gerron, and he and Ayala had agreed to share another tent.

Megan was trying to get Tom to share with her and Jenny. "Come on, Tom, it'll be fun. There's plenty of room," she argued. "You'll have to share with the Commander, otherwise."

"I don't mind sharing with Chakotay," Tom answered. "If I don't, he'll be on his own for a week."

"He's always on his own, he should be used to it by now," Jenny piped up. "Besides, he'll just want to meditate, or do other boring stuff."

"Tom!" Chakotay called across the clearing. "I've put your things in the end tent, with mine," he said, walking over to where the three were standing. "You two can have the tent next door to ours," he continued, turning to Megan and Jenny.

"Yes, Commander," Megan sighed, and she and Jenny left to stow their belongings.

"Thanks, Cha," Tom said, when the women had left. "They were starting to get insistent that I share with them. I'm not sure I can stand a whole week of those two coming on to me."

Chakotay snorted. "I don't think *I* can stand them coming on to you, either. If it gets too much, then perhaps we should make our relationship public."

Tom nodded. "It's gonna come out sooner or later, anyway," he agreed. "Perhaps it should be sooner. We could both enjoy this mission more, then."

Chakotay looked thoughtful. "I think you're right. If we keep quiet, you're just going to be propositioned mercilessly until you're completely stressed, and I'm going to get angry and jealous."

Tom grinned. "Jealous?"

"Yes, very jealous," Chakotay said seriously, taking hold of Tom's shoulders. "I don't want anyone else near you, Tom. I don't want them even *thinking* about you," he continued, looking into Tom's eyes. "You're mine."

"Only yours, Cha," Tom agreed, gazing back.

Chakotay pulled him close and hugged him. "Mine," he repeated softly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first day proved very productive, with the team managing to fill almost a quarter of the crates with fruit and vegetables. An easy feat due to the abundance and variety. Even Naomi had been a big help as a lot of the vegetables were easy for her to harvest. She'd enjoyed herself immensely, but was now tucked up, fast asleep.

It was late evening. Ayala had built a fire and the adults sat on the ground around it, talking quietly. Megan and Jenny had tried to sit on either side of Tom, but he'd excused himself and gone to his tent.

"What do we do tomorrow, Captain?" Gerron asked Chakotay. "We filled a lot of crates today, do you think we'll do as well tomorrow?"

Chakotay smiled warmly at him. "You still can't call me Commander, can you?"

"Sorry, Sir," Gerron apologised.

"It's okay, Gerron. And besides, off-duty, it's just Chakotay. You know that." He paused a moment, thinking. "You're right, we did get a lot done today. And, if we work hard, we should have everything we need within two to three days. That gives us at least three days to enjoy shore leave, before Voyager gets back."

The others had been listening and looked approving.

Tom came out of his tent and Megan was instantly on her feet, walking towards him. Tom looked imploringly at Chakotay as he walked to where the older man was sitting.

"Come here, Tom," Chakotay invited, just before Megan could intercept him.

Tom sat down and Chakotay put his arm around Tom's shoulder, pulling him close. "You okay?" he asked softly, looking into the younger man's eyes.

"Yeah, Cha, I am now," Tom replied, smiling.

Megan had stopped dead in her tracks, and now watched in amazement as Chakotay and Tom shared a lingering kiss. There was total silence from their stunned audience.

Eventually, Tom pulled away slightly and looked pointedly at Megan. "So, now you know," he said, before turning back to Chakotay for another kiss.

"Yeah," Megan echoed, looking across at Jenny. "Now, I know." She moved to sit next to her sister, who was shaking her head.

"Who'd have believed it?" Jenny said quietly, still watching Chakotay and Tom. "B'Elanna must've really scrambled Tom's brain."

Sam yawned, then stood up. "I'm off to bed. I'll see all of you in the morning. Goodnight, Commander," she called out to Chakotay.

Chakotay smiled. "Goodnight, Samantha."

"I'm tired as well," Tom said, getting to his feet and holding his hand out to Chakotay. "Come on, Cha, let's turn in."

Everyone else quickly followed suit and they were all soon in their respective tents, each with their own views about what they'd witnessed. Megan and Jenny were still stunned.

"I didn't think Tom liked men," Megan said, bemused by the events.

Jenny snorted. "Yeah, and I didn't think the Commander liked anyone."

"Well, they obviously like each other," Megan commented.  "But what a blow. I mean there aren't that many attractive men on the ship, and now two of them have got together. It's not very fair on us women."

"You think Chakotay's attractive?" Jenny asked.

"Definitely. Don't you?" Megan retorted.

"Not really. I mean, he *is* gorgeous to look at, but his personality doesn't do anything for me. He's too dull and boring."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the tent next door, Tom and Chakotay were naked and laying in each other's arms. Chakotay ran his fingers through Tom's hair and smiled at him.

"So, do you think the girls will leave you alone now?"

"Yeah, unless they decide to try and teach me the error of my ways," Tom answered.

Chakotay studied Tom's face thoughtfully. "You don't think being with me is a mistake, do you?"

"God, no!" Tom stated with certainty. "You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, Chakotay. No way is this a mistake."

Chakotay gave a relieved sigh. "Good," he said. "Because I don't want to be without you, Tom."

He moved to cover Tom's body with his own, biting the pale skin of his neck, then kissing his way slowly up, and along, Tom's jaw until he reached his mouth. "You're mine, and I love you," he stated, before capturing Tom's lips with his own.

They kissed slowly and deeply, gently rubbing against each other until Tom moaned.

"Shhh, Tom," Chakotay whispered. "We've got to be quiet," he said, kissing Tom's neck.

"I'm not sure I can be," Tom whispered back.

"Yes, you can. We're going to make love, and we're not going to make a sound."

"Just the thought of that makes me want to moan," Tom breathed into Chakotay's ear.

"I love you, Tom."

"I love you too, Cha. Make love to me."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, the team had an early breakfast, then started their food collecting with vigour. They were all keen to get the work over with as quickly as possible, to enjoy as much free time as they could.

No one spoke of the previous evening's events, concentrating instead on the task at hand. Chakotay was very pleased with the effort being shown and made sure everyone received due praise. By lunch time, they'd collected an equal amount to the day before.

"I think that's enough work for today," Chakotay announced as Neelix served up lunch. "You've all worked exceptionally hard and we're well ahead of schedule. You're all off duty now until tomorrow morning. So, go and enjoy yourselves. Just remember to let the others know where you'll be, though, for safety reasons."

Everyone settled down to an enjoyable lunch, discussing what they would do with the free time. Neelix decided to stay with Sam and Naomi at their base and just explore around the edges of the camp. They would be keeping track of where the others were going.

"What do you want to do, Cha?" Tom asked as they sat together under a large tree.

"How about a swim? The lake's safe, I scanned it earlier," Chakotay suggested.

"Sounds good. It'll be nice to cool down a bit. Let's go put some shorts on and head off."

When they reached the lake they stripped, leaving their clothes in a pile on the shore, away from the water's edge.

"Come on," Tom shouted and raced into the water.

Chakotay wasn't far behind him and dived at him, knocking him over. Tom emerged from the water, spluttering, and looking wildly around. There was no sign of Chakotay.

Suddenly, a hand grabbed at his ankle and Tom was pulled down. He opened his eyes, underwater, to see Chakotay's grinning face just inches from his own. They rose to the surface together, laughing, each trying to push the other back under, tussling playfully. They didn't realise the noise they were creating had attracted an audience.

Megan and Jenny, having completely given up on Tom, had set their sights on Ayala and Gerron, and had persuaded the two men to accompany them on a walk.

They had all been admiring and commenting on their surroundings, when they had heard the commotion coming from the lake. It was still hidden from view by a group of trees but, as they walked around them, they were treated to the sight of a naked First Officer being grabbed around the waist and dragged underwater by an equally naked Chief Helmsman.

The group stood transfixed, watching the horseplay between the two senior officers who were laughing and shouting to each other, totally oblivious to the watching eyes.

"Well," Jenny commented to Megan. "I take back everything I said about the Commander last night. Who would've believed he would behave like that?"

Gerron looked at the two women. "Our Captain's a great guy. Most people on Voyager have never seen the real him."

"Yeah," Ayala agreed. "Only his friends know what he's really like."

"And you're both his friends?" Jenny asked.

"Always have been, always will be," Ayala stated, proudly.

"He's our captain," Geron said. "But he's much more. He's a true friend. He'd do anything for us and we'd happily die for him, if we had to."

"He inspires that much loyalty in you?" Megan asked, amazed.

"Yes," Ayala answered simply.

They became aware that all the noise had stopped and, when they turned to look back at the lake, they saw the reason why. Tom and Chakotay were standing in waist-high water and wrapped in a tight embrace, kissing passionately.

"I think that's our cue to leave," Megan said, and they resumed their walk.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next two days passed quickly, with the work being done enthusiastically. By the evening of their fourth day on the planet, the team had filled all the storage containers, and the rest of their time was now shore leave.

"How about a game of cards?" Tom suggested as they all, with the exception of the sleeping Naomi, gathered near the fire.

"I'm in," Ayala said.

Gerron nodded his assent as did Neelix and the three women.

"How about you, Cha? You up for it?" Tom asked.

Chakotay grinned cheekily at him. "I'm always up for it, Tom. You should know that by now."

"Cards, Chakotay." Tom laughed, hitting him playfully. "Cards. Go fetch!"

"Yes, Sir, Lieutenant," he replied as he went to their tent.

"Tom?" Neelix looked worried. "Do you really think you ought to talk to the Commander like that?"

Tom laughed. "Don't worry, Neelix, I wasn't talking to the Commander."

"You weren't?" Neelix asked, puzzled. "Who were you talking to, then?"

Tom grinned. "My boyfriend."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Voyager contacted the away team four days later.

"The ship will be here in approximately two hours," Chakotay informed the others as he looked around at them.

"You all worked very hard and I know the Captain will be pleased. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, as well, in the free time you had. I know I did," he said, smiling at Tom. "Anyway, let's get packed up now. I'd like everything ready for when they arrive."

They worked steadily, taking down their tents and stacking everything ready for transport.

"Chakotay," Tom said looking pensive

"What is it, Tom?"

"I think we should go see the Captain as soon as we get back to the ship."

"You mean about us?" Chakotay asked.

"Yeah," Tom replied. "I think she should hear about us, from us. Not pick up on it from any gossip."

"You're right, Tom," Chakotay said, standing to face him and placing his hands on Tom's shoulders. "But, do you think you'll be okay with the gossip?"

"Yes, I will be. I mean, Megan, Jenny and the others here are already used to us being together. I know they were a bit astonished to start with, but they seem to accept us now. I think that will work in our favour."

"And if it doesn't? If we encounter hostility, what then?" Chakotay asked gently

"I don't care, Cha. If people have a problem with us being together, then tough! I want to be with you and I won't let anyone come between us. I'm yours," Tom stated. "For as long as you want me."

"I love you, Tom Paris," Chakotay said, smiling. "And, you're definitely a keeper. I'm going to keep you for as long as I live. Come here," he said, pulling Tom behind a nearby bush and away from prying eyes.

Chakotay drew Tom in, close to his body, his hands gripping possessively as he hungrily kissed him.

"I love you, Chakotay," Tom gasped as his neck was sucked, then bitten, hard. "I want to stay with you. I'm yours."

"Mine," Chakotay agreed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When they materialised on Voyager, Janeway was waiting for them in the transporter room. She greeted them all warmly, then checked them all out as they left the room.

'They all look happy and rested,' she thought.

She spotted the dark love-bite on Tom's neck and smiled inwardly, silently congratulating herself for sending the Delaneys as company for him. "Well, Commander," she addressed Chakotay. "It looks like everything went to plan. How did you fare? Plenty of time for meditation?"

"Not really," he said, then looked her in the eye. "There's something I need to inform you of privately, if you have the time."

"Yes, I have time," Janeway answered, concern on her face. "Meet me in my ready room in half an hour. We'll talk then."

"This involves Tom," Chakotay said, nodding towards the Lieutenant who was waiting nearby. "He will need to come along, as well."

Janeway was puzzled now, as well as concerned. "Very well, gentlemen," she said, looking from one to the other. "I'll see both of you in half an hour."

"Thank you, Captain," Chakotay said, giving her a small smile.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By the time Chakotay and Tom entered her ready room, both having showered and changed, Janeway had convinced herself that something awful had happened. "Come in, gentlemen, have a seat," she said, pointing to the couch.

They sat side by side and Janeway sat in the chair opposite them, looking worried. "Now, Chakotay," she began. "What did you want to tell me?"

"Something you probably should have known about before the away mission," he answered.

"Go on," she prompted.

Chakotay looked at Tom. "How should I put this, Tom?" he asked.

"Well, Cha," Tom answered, looking him squarely in the eye. "You just say, 'Captain, Tom and I are lovers and have been since his divorce'."

"Right."

Chakotay looked across at a stunned Janeway. "Captain, Tom and I are lovers, and have been since his divorce."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay chuckled as he helped Tom unpack the last of the boxes they'd just retrieved from 'Lilliput'. The front was no longer needed as Tom would now be living permanently with the First Officer.

"You're still thinking about Janeway, aren't you?" Tom grinned.

Chakotay smiled broadly. "Yes," he said. "I've never before seen anyone open and close their mouth so much without needing medical attention."

Tom laughed. "Yeah," he agreed. "She looked like a crazed goldfish."

"I wonder what other reactions we'll get?" Chakotay mused. "We could have fun with this."

Tom grinned and shook his head. "God, Chakotay, you're crazy! Why don't you just take me on the pool table in Sandrine's? See what people think to that."

"Would you mind if I did?" Chakotay asked, a strange glint in his eyes as he stroked Tom's arm.

"Yes! I would mind. You exhibitionistic madman!"

"Oh, all right. We'll skip that, then," Chakotay sighed, then laughed at Tom's expression. "You don't think I would, do you?" he grinned.

"I'm not really sure," Tom smiled. "I wouldn't be surprised if you *did* try it."

"Would you stop me?" Chakotay asked, pulling Tom close, then slipping his arms around his waist and rubbing sensuously against him.

"That's the really scary part," Tom said, looking into Chakotay's eyes. "I don't think I would."

"Let's go to Sandrine's now," Chakotay murmured against Tom's neck. "I'll show you a new variation of pool."

"Tell me about it first," Tom said, softly kissing Chakotay on the lips.

"Okay. Well, it all starts with the first ball that's sunk. If you pot a stripe, then the *other* person plays stripes."

"Why?" Tom asked, looking puzzled.

"Because of the name of the game."

"And, what *is* the name of the game?" Tom asked, intrigued.

Chakotay grinned. "It's called, 'You play with my balls, and I'll play with yours'."

Tom burst out laughing. "Wait 'till I ask the Captain to play *that* with me!"

"She doesn't have the requirements for that game," Chakotay chuckled.

Tom smiled again and gazed fondly at the big man.

If anyone had told Tom, a few weeks ago, that he would divorce his pregnant wife and fall in love with a man, he would have laughed and sent them to the Doc for a check up.

But here he stood, in the arms of Chakotay, of all people, and he realised that what he had felt for B'Elanna paled into insignificance in comparison to what he felt for this man.

He loved Chakotay. He really did. With everything he had. And, he had a new life now. Another door had opened for him.

"I'm so lucky to have you," Tom whispered, then kissed Chakotay with all the love in his heart.


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