|Note: Grateful thanks to Cassatt, whose good wishes helped me to finish this story.
Lost and Found
"Tom." Chakotay's face was pale as he seated himself on the edge of Tom's bed, struggling to find some kind of response to the younger man's statement. "I didn't realise you were awake," he finally said, sighing softly. He glanced apprehensively at Tom's face, and intense blue eyes caught him before he could look away again.
"Chakotay. It's okay," Tom whispered, his voice still raspy. He fumbled for Chakotay's hand which was resting on the bed. "But we do need to talk," he continued quietly, giving the hand a gentle squeeze. "I have to tell you something." A movement caught his eye then, and he turned his head to see the Doctor and Amshev approaching. "Not now, though. Later. Please?"
Chakotay nodded. Tom didn't seem angry, but he was convinced the Lieutenant just wanted to explain privately that he wasn't interested in hearing any more declarations of love. Well, if that was how it had to be.... "Of course, Tom. We'll talk as soon as you're well enough," he said with an attempt at a smile. "I'm off duty until further notice, so any time's fine with me."
"Thanks, Chakotay." Tom smiled, then let go of Chakotay's hand. He turned to look at the others who had stopped close by. "Amshev," he addressed the Nahldarian. "I'm very glad I got the chance to see you again. I haven't got a clue how you did it, but I want to say thank you for rescuing us."
"You are most welcome, Temospah," Amshev replied bowing his head. "I am very glad I could help. The explanation of how your rescue came about, I am sure Chayelah will tell you." He looked past the silent EMH to Chakotay. "It is late, Chayelah, and I should be going. Not only should you be resting now, but there are many things that need my attention on Nahldar. I would be most grateful, though, if you could accompany me to the transporter room before you retire to your bed."
"Of course I'll accompany you," Chakotay responded, standing and straightening his uniform. "It's the very least I can do after everything you've done for us."
Amshev bowed low. "It was my pleasure." He looked across to the bed and smiled warmly at Tom. "Goodbye, Temospah. I wish you happiness and good fortune. May you be lucky enough to find, and never lose, your heart's desire."
Tom pulled himself up into a sitting position and returned the Nahldarian's smile. "Good luck to you, too, Amshev, and thanks again," he said as the two men turned to leave. "And Chakotay?" he called softly, causing the Commander to look back at him just as the door opened. "I'll comm you soon."
The distance from sickbay to the transporter room was covered quickly, but in pensive silence. As they entered, Chakotay addressed the Ensign who was on duty there. "I'll take over for a while, Ensign," he instructed, gesturing towards the exit.
Acknowledging the order, the officer left her station, and as the door slid closed behind her a moment later, Amshev moved close to Chakotay, placing his hand on the Commander's arm. "Thank you, Chayelah. I was hoping I would be able to say goodbye to you in private." He moved his hand upwards and lightly ran his fingers over Chakotay's cheek. "If your heart had not belonged to another, Chayelah, I would have asked you to stay with me on Nahldar," he said softly. "Perhaps then, I would not have needed to say goodbye."
Chakotay gave the Nahldarian a gentle smile and covered the man's hand with his own. "Perhaps," he agreed, although truthfully he knew he could never have stayed even if he'd wanted to; the safety of Voyager's crew, and their attempt to reach home, would always come before his personal wishes. "You're a good man, Amshev," he stated, noting the Nahldarian's moist eyes. "You won't stay alone forever. There's someone waiting for you who you just haven't found yet. I'm sure of it."
Amshev nodded weakly. "Maybe. But I have lost you, Chayelah," he said quietly. He dropped his gaze to the floor, tears rolling silently down his cheeks.
Chakotay sighed and pulled the Nahldarian close, hugging him tightly. "Amshev," he said softly. "You'd lost me before you ever found me. Even though he doesn't want me, I belong to Tom. That will never change. I'm sorry."
"I know. I am sorry, also," Amshev stated as he pulled back slightly to look into Chakotay's eyes. "But I would ask for one last memory of you, Chayelah; just one more kiss. Please?"
Chakotay didn't need to think about his answer. Leaning forward, he captured Amshev's mouth, pulling the Nahldarian close again as he kissed him tenderly, pouring all his thanks for his and Tom's rescue into the moment, and letting Amshev know that he would always appreciate the love that had been offered to him.
When they parted a few minutes later, Amshev took one long last look at Chakotay. Turning towards the transport pad, he stepped up on to the platform, tears still trickling down his face as he gestured that he was ready to leave. Chakotay moved across to the control panel, and with Amshev's gaze still riveted on him, activated the transporter.
Bolting upright in a state of total panic, the only thought in Chakotay's head was that he'd drifted off to sleep when he should have been keeping vigil over Tom. The fact that he was in his own quarters, and no longer in the cell that Telsesh had kept him and Tom locked up in, didn't register. In his mind, he was still chained to a cold bed in an alien room, unable to physically comfort the man he loved or protect him from further harm. He could still hear Tom's moans and feel his sweating, shuddering body plastered across his own; still feel the hopelessness that had pervaded him when Tom had fallen from the bed to lie alone and out of his sight on the hard floor, and felt, vividly, his anger at seeing the mark of ownership that Telsesh had left on Tom's chest.
In a moment of unconscious rage, he pulled fiercely at the bonds that he thought still held him. There was no resistance, though, and his violent movement sent him flying from the bed. Crashing heavily to the floor, he awoke with a start, his eyes darting in all directions until he finally recognised where he was. "Computer," he called, shakily. "Time?"
"The time is 1630 hours."
Chakotay grabbed the side of the bed and pulled himself upright. The room was fairly dark, lights only at five percent, so he found his gaze drawn to the viewport. By the way the glow from the stars they passed seemed to merge into continuous streaks of white, he judged they were travelling at around warp five. Nahldar would be far behind them now. The ship had broken orbit shortly before he'd gone to bed, and that's when it dawned on him that he'd slept for over seventeen hours.
Rubbing a hand across his face, he wandered to the bathroom. Despite the length of time he'd spent resting, he still felt weary, something that perhaps a warm, unhurried shower would cure. He turned on the water and stepped under it, closing his eyes as it cascaded over him, washing away the last traces of sleep as it slowly revitalised both his body and mind.
Twenty minutes later, feeling more refreshed, he dried himself off and returned to his bedroom. The bed still looked inviting though, so he stretched himself out on top of the rumpled covers, the twinkling light from the stars bathing his naked body as he relaxed. He'd almost drifted back to sleep when the insistent sound of his comm badge chirping brought him back to reality.
"It's Tom. About that talk... Are you busy?"
The air of calm that Chakotay had managed to muster since waking from his nightmare, vanished in an instant. He felt his stomach tighten in nervous anticipation of the encounter that he knew was unavoidable. But perhaps it would be better to face it sooner rather than later. "No, Tom, I'm not busy. When and where did you want to meet?"
"I could call by in about fifteen minutes, if that's okay."
Chakotay hesitated. Fifteen minutes? "Okay," he finally agreed. "I'll see you then. Chakotay out." The link was cut, and Chakotay idly played with his comm badge for a moment before replacing it on the table beside his bed. He sighed; he could feel the muscles in his neck beginning to tense as his spirits plummeted further. Tom would be here soon, putting an end to all the dreams he'd ever had that the younger man might one day love him back; telling him, in no uncertain terms, to keep his words of love to himself, that they weren't wanted. He gave a soft snort. What had he expected, really? He'd never approached the pilot before because he was certain that he'd be rejected. He had to face it, he was about to be proved right.
With another dejected sigh, Chakotay headed for his closet and pulled out the first things that came to hand - a pair of old, worn-out jogging pants, and a loose-fitting T-shirt that had also seen better days. Not bothering with either underwear or socks, he dressed quickly, then ambled out into his living area and crossed to the replicator. There was just enough time for a soothing cup of tea before Tom arrived.
Tom checked his appearance in the mirror one last time, carefully brushing into place a stray strand of hair that had previously escaped his notice. He nodded at his reflection; after an hour of preparation prior to calling Chakotay, and ten minutes of 'fine-tuning' afterwards, he finally deemed himself ready to leave his cabin and head to the First Officer's quarters. It was time to set the record straight, and tell Chakotay he loved him.
The door chimed just as Chakotay was placing his empty cup on the low table in front of him, the soft sound startling him even though he'd been expecting it. The tea hadn't worked its magic this time, and ever since he'd sat down, he'd been lost in a world of gloomy thoughts, his mind working overtime as he tried to figure out just how the approaching scenario would unfold. Tom hadn't seemed mad at him before, but had time served to fuel the younger man's anger? Would Tom shout his displeasure, or even resort to violence?
With a great deal of apprehension, Chakotay got up from the couch and called for his visitor to enter. But as the door slid open, and he caught a glimpse of Tom waiting to be invited in, his anxiety level increased even further. He suddenly found his whole being suffused with a sense of foreboding, and he tried desperately to calm himself, but it wasn't until he heard Tom's concerned voice that he realised he'd closed his eyes in the attempt.
"Chakotay, are you okay? Did I get you out of bed?" the pilot asked, studying the older man's mussed hair and what he believed were his sleep clothes. He stepped into the room and laid a gentle hand on Chakotay's arm. "Should I come back some other time?"
Chakotay opened his eyes, his gaze going straight to the pale fingers that were resting on the darker skin of his own arm, and to Tom's thumb that was lightly stroking him there. In the highly agitated state he'd managed to work himself into, the small amount of contact was enough to send a shiver throughout his entire body.
"I think you should sit down, Chakotay. You don't look well," Tom stated, gripping the older man's arm more firmly. "Or I could call the Doc," he suggested.
Chakotay shook his head, taking in Tom's well-groomed appearance before he looked up into the pilot's worried face. "I don't need the Doctor, Tom. And, no, I don't want to delay our talk. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner it's over with, the better," he said with a deep sigh. He pulled out of Tom's grasp and headed for the couch. Sinking down, he leaned his head against the back and stared up at the ceiling, jealousy bubbling up inside him as his mind suddenly hit on a reason for why Tom was so immaculately dressed - the younger man had a date set up for after their talk. The thought disturbed him so much that he didn't feel the couch dip as Tom sat down next to him.
"Chakotay. I'm confused," Tom said, genuine puzzlement in his voice. "I thought you wanted this."
Chakotay gave a quick, irritated snort and sat up. "Wanted *what*?" he asked, turning his head towards Tom, but refusing to meet his eyes. "For you to come here and tell me what a fool I am? To tell me that you could never love me the way I love you? Tell me 'thanks, but no thanks'? And while you're telling me, do you think I want to see you sitting there looking so damned gorgeous when I know it's for someone else's benefit? I don't think so." He got up quickly, completely missing Tom's amazed and bewildered expression. "Look, Tom. I'll save you the bother of telling me anything. I understand. You don't want me. You never did and you never will. You were just playing a part while we were on Nahldar. I misinterpreted your reactions, and I'm sorry." He paused just long enough to take a quick breath as he gestured towards the door. "Thanks for dropping by, Lieutenant," he said coolly. "I'll see you on duty."
"Chakotay. No." Tom jumped up from the couch and walked towards the obviously distressed man. "You've got it all wrong," he insisted, stopping in front of him and trying to catch his eye. "I wasn't just playing a part. I wanted you. I still do. I've *always* wanted you. Do you understand what I'm saying?" he queried, stepping closer and taking a firm hold of Chakotay's shoulders. "Do you?"
Chakotay looked up into Tom's intense blue eyes. They locked with his own, sending a shiver down his spine as they drew him into their depths. He swallowed hard. *Did* he understand? Did Tom really mean what his words seemed to suggest? Did Tom love him? It was highly doubtful. "You never said anything," he said quietly, trying his best to be calm. "On the planet, when I told you how I felt, you never..." He sighed heavily, and shook his head. "Not one word, Tom. You never said a single word."
"I know. I'm sorry," Tom said softly, beginning to lightly massage the tense muscles beneath his fingers. "I wasn't sure...."
"How you felt about me," Chakotay interrupted with another sigh. "It's okay. I understand."
"No, Chakotay. That's *not* what I was going to say." He broke eye contact then, and nodded towards the couch. "Let's sit back down. Okay? We've *got* to get this sorted out." Wordlessly, Chakotay followed Tom to the couch and they retook their seats. "Now," Tom said softly. "Let me explain. Please. Without interruption."
Chakotay nodded slowly, his expression that of weary acceptance. "Go ahead, Tom. I'm listening," he sighed.
Tom shuffled closer, seeking out and recapturing Chakotay's eyes. "Chakotay," he said quietly. "From the moment we first met, I've wanted you." He quickly held up his hand as he saw Chakotay's mouth open, ready to speak. "It's the truth. Really. But I thought you weren't interested in guys, so I never did anything about it," he explained, placing a hand on Chakotay's knee. "It was only when I saw you with Amshev that I realised I was wrong about you; he wasn't the first man you'd ever been with, was he?"
Chakotay shook his head, Amshev's tearful farewell the previous evening flashing into his mind. "No, he wasn't," he replied honestly. "But he's the only man I've ever been with who's loved me."
Tom sighed heavily and looked away, staring out the viewport behind them. "In the club, I could see he was more than just attracted to you," he stated quietly. "And for a while, I thought you felt the same way about him." He paused, trying to prevent a repeat of the jealous feelings that had overwhelmed him several times on Nahldar. "You have no idea how hard that was for me; watching you and him together, seeing him do things that I'd been dreaming of for years." He turned back, lifting a trembling hand to Chakotay's cheek. "Chakotay. I love you," he said softly, his fingers working their way upwards to thread themselves through Chakotay's hair. "But when you told me that *you* loved *me*, I was stunned. Okay? Too stunned to even speak. It was a dream come true, and I just couldn't accept that it was real." He looked earnestly at the older man, willing him to believe what he'd just said. "Do you understand now, Chakotay?" he asked, moving his other hand to the Commander's face. "I love you." Slowly, carefully, he pulled Chakotay's head towards him. "I love you," he whispered again, gently brushing the older man's lips with his own. "Understand?"
Drawing back slightly, Chakotay saw the absolute truth written in Tom's moist eyes. Finally, he *did* understand, and he was completely overwhelmed; Tom *loved* him. After all the worrying he'd done; after all the anxiety; Tom *honestly* loved him.
With tears of relief and elation slowly trickling down his cheeks, Chakotay reached for Tom's waist, dragging the pilot on to his lap as their mouths met again and again, the sweet and gentle touches lasting longer each time their lips came together, tender kisses growing deeper and deeper as the minutes passed. Years of wanting melted away, to be replaced by a reality that neither man had truly believed possible; they were in each other's arms, with the welcome knowledge that their love, each for the other, was accepted and returned.
"Tom," Chakotay murmured as he slowly pulled away from Tom's mouth, his gentle hands taking hold of the pilot's head. "Let me look at you again, Tom. I need to see you," he whispered urgently. He held Tom still, the younger man's face just inches from his own. "I love you," he said softly, a tiny smile playing on his lips as he spoke, completely assured now that Tom *did* want to hear his declaration. Without another word, he brought Tom to him and recaptured his mouth.
Time flew by, the men lost in the moment they had both dreamed of, their arousal growing steadily stronger. And as the kisses started to become more passionate, Tom shifted forward, his hands slowly working their way to the hem of Chakotay's T-shirt. Catching hold of it, he eased the grey material upwards, his eager fingers then exploring the man's smooth, warm skin; relentlessly mapping out the contours of his muscular chest.
Chakotay moaned softly as Tom's questing fingers found a nipple and pulled at it, teasing it gently until it was hard. "Tom," he breathed, pulling away again from the younger man's lips. "Oh, hell." He groaned, and moved his mouth to Tom's neck, licking at the beads of sweat that had started to form there. Slowly, he ran his tongue from the pilot's throat to just below his left ear, repeating the movement until Tom was moaning incessantly, and squirming in his lap. He pulled at the collar of Tom's shirt. "Get this off, Tom," he ordered softly, whispering the words against Tom's neck. "Please. Get everything off. I want to see all of you."
Tom groaned, dropping his head to rest on Chakotay's shoulder as deft fingers helped him to quickly unfasten his clothes. His shirt was tugged at, his arms removed from the sleeves, and then it was gone, dropped behind him to land on the floor, at the base of the couch. Warm hands made contact with his sides, and his back arched involuntarily. As he lifted his head from Chakotay's shoulder, he noticed how intensely he was being scrutinised; Chakotay seemed to be visually inspecting every single part of his exposed skin. He watched as the older man's gaze fell on the regenerated patch below his left shoulder, and he saw a scowl appear on his lover's face, reminding him how angry and upset Chakotay had been the first time he'd seen Telsesh' mark. "The Doc says it should go, eventually," he whispered as Chakotay's fingers lightly traced the raised scar there. "He's gonna work on it again in a few days time. The tissue damage was too severe for him to repair it all at once." He leaned forward, kissing Chakotay's lips and preventing the angry words he could tell were about to be spoken. "Forget him, Chay," he insisted, knowing that Chakotay was thinking about Telsesh. "It's over. All that matters is that *we're* together." He kissed Chakotay again, deeper this time. "We're together," he smiled.
Chakotay wrapped his arms around the younger man, drawing Tom's firm, warm body as close to his own as he could. "Tom," he whispered, breathing the words against Tom's lips. "I want you." He pulled back, his concerned eyes looking questioningly at his lover.
Even without it being verbalised, Tom knew what Chakotay was asking. "Apart from the scar, I'm fine," he quietly assured him. "And I want you, too, Chakotay. I want you inside me," he added, pressing himself against the hardness that lay inside Chakotay's pants. He reached into his pocket, smiling as he pulled out a tube of lubricant he'd brought with him. "I was hoping we'd need it," he explained in a whisper. "Take me, Chay," he continued softly, seductively. "Here. Now. Get rid of Telsesh' claim on me, for good. Make me yours, instead."
Chakotay reacted immediately to Tom's words, and gently manoeuvred the younger man until he was stretched out on the couch. Settling himself between Tom's legs, he leaned forward and grasped the pilot's head with both hands, then kissed him thoroughly. "I love you so much, Tom," he murmured as he moved his lips to Tom's neck. "So much."
Tom gave a soft gasp as he felt teeth lightly nipping the sensitive skin beneath his ear. Reaching up, he wrapped his arms around the man above him and drew him down completely, sighing as Chakotay finally lay full length on top of him. As he held Chakotay firmly, his hand roamed beneath the older man's shirt, caressing the warm, slightly damp skin of his back before dipping down inside his pants. "You feel so good, Chay," he whispered as he awkwardly toed off his shoes. "Let me feel more. Please."
Carefully, Chakotay eased himself up again, pulling his T-shirt off as he moved. "Stand up, Tom," he said softly, getting to his feet and holding his hand out to the younger man. "Come on. Let's take this to the bedroom."
Tom took Chakotay's proffered hand and quickly stood up, grabbing the lubricant, which had fallen between the cushions as he'd left the couch. Before Chakotay could lead him across the living area, he claimed one more lingering kiss, relishing the feel of Chakotay's solid, bare chest against his own. As they parted, he moaned softly but didn't speak. Instead, he retook Chakotay's hand and allowed himself to be led to the bedroom.
The lights were still low, and the bed unmade, but all that either man cared about was removing the last barriers of cloth that lay between them. Pants were disposed of quickly, along with Tom's socks and briefs, until finally, they were standing naked in front of each other. With the starlight providing most of the room's illumination, they spent several long moments just silently appraising and appreciating each other; both glad that they could now do so openly, instead of making do with the covert glimpses they'd taken on Nahldar.
Stepping forward, Tom threw the tube he carried on to the bed, then moved into Chakotay's waiting arms. Slowly, deeply, they kissed; their love for each other obvious in the unhurried moment. Without even realising it, they sank down on to the bed, the kiss continuing as they lay across the rumpled sheets. Slowly, Chakotay trailed his fingers down Tom's back until they dipped between his cheeks, gently and tentatively probing him, before pushing in further as Tom moaned and shifted to a more accessible position. "Chay," Tom gasped, his head nestled against Chakotay's neck. "More. Please," he pleaded as he unconsciously began to rub himself against the sweat-slicked body beneath him. "Please, Chay. I need you. Now."
Chakotay swallowed heavily, his free hand groping around the bed until he found the tube of lubricant. With nervous fingers, he flipped the cap open, then squeezed out some of the clear gel. And as Tom's movements above him became more frantic, he carefully pushed his slippery fingers deep inside his lover's body.
With a loud groan, Tom rolled himself on to his back, reversing their positions. Gazing into the dark eyes that now peered down at him, he raised his legs in silent invitation, his breathing becoming shallow as he watched Chakotay spread the gel over the length of his erection. His hand strayed towards his own groin, but before he could touch himself, Chakotay's fingers closed around him, stroking and pulling for a moment, before they left and returned their attention to his opening. "Now, Chakotay. Now," Tom whispered, pulling his legs up further. "Don't make me wait any longer. Please. I'm ready. Do it now." His impassioned request had the desired effect, and with Chakotay's arms pushing against the back of his knees, holding him in place, he finally felt his lover enter him.
Closing his eyes and panting heavily, Chakotay pushed further and further into Tom's eager body; the reality of the long-dreamt-of moment almost overwhelming in its intensity. When he was as deep as he could possibly get, he opened his eyes and gazed down to where his and Tom's bodies were now joined; pale skin meeting darker skin, at a place where he never thought they'd meet. With another groan, he began to move.
"Oh, yeah," Tom sighed loudly. He reached up and caught hold of Chakotay's head, his fingers gripping the man's silky black hair and pulling him downwards until their lips met. His tongue pushed in and out of Chakotay's mouth, gently mimicking the movements that Chakotay was making inside him. Then, gradually, he began to speed up, moaning over and over as Chakotay followed suit.
"You're so beautiful, Tom," Chakotay gasped, just barely capable of speech. "Hot. Tight. Beautiful. Mine," he breathed between thrusts. "All mine."
"Always," Tom affirmed in a whisper. He removed one hand from Chakotay's head, and gripped his own erection, staring intently at the older man's flushed and sweat-soaked face as he began to stroke himself. "I love you, Chakotay," he murmured.
Chakotay was already close, and those words were all he needed to push him over the edge. With one last deep thrust, he groaned loudly, flooding Tom's body with wave after wave of liquid heat. And as he climaxed, so did Tom; the younger man driven to the point of no return by the look of sheer ecstasy that crossed Chakotay's face as he came.
Totally spent, they fell side by side on the bed, their breaths little more than a series of gasps. For the next several minutes all they could do was gaze at each other, but once their breathing had calmed enough, their arms sought each other out. With deep, satisfied sighs, they snuggled close, ignoring the stickiness on Tom's stomach as they resumed the leisurely kisses they'd enjoyed earlier.
"Part of Amshev's wish for me was that I'd find my heart's desire," Tom remarked when they eventually lay still, their arms loosely wound around each other. He turned to look closely at the man beside him. "You're my heart's desire, Chay, so that bit's worked out."
"And now you're wondering if you'll get the rest of what Amshev wished for you; that you'll never lose what you've found," Chakotay speculated, giving Tom a gentle smile.
"Yeah," Tom confirmed softly. He moved closer, resting his head on Chakotay's shoulder as he gazed up at him. "What d'you think, Chakotay?" he asked hesitantly. "*Will* I ever lose you? Or will I get the rest of the wish? Will we stay together?"
"Tom," Chakotay said quietly, hugging the younger man tightly. "You're the only person I have ever loved, or *will* ever love. So what do *you* think? You want to stay with me. I want to stay with you. I think there's a pretty high chance you're going to get the rest of that wish, don't you?"
"Well, if you put it that way...."
"I do. Now, come here and kiss me."
"Is that an order, Sir? Because I just might have to disobey you...."
"Oh, hell! I'd forgotten about that!"
"Really?" Tom smiled. "Then let me remind you. There was this hotel room. One bed. One couch...."
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