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His Place


This story won 1st Place for 
Best VOY Slash
and 2nd Place for Best VOY Story
in the VOY section of the 2001 
Ascem Golden O Awards

It also won 
Best Slash Single Story 
in the Tom Paris Dorm Awards


 

Author: T'Boy (Lynda)
Series: VOY
Pairing: C/P, first time, Romance
Rating: PG13
Feedback: Welcome (public, or to tboy_7@hotmail.com )
Archive: ASCEM, CPSG, Trekiverse, TPDorm, other VOY or Trek sites welcome, but please let me know, much appreciated.
Summary: Another resolution to the traitor arc. Tom's feeling very lonely.
Disclaimer: No money made on this story, characters owned by Paramount et al. No infringement intended. This story contains m/m sex. Please do not read if this offends you, or if you are underage.

Notes:

My grateful thanks to all who contributed towards this lightweight little romance. I've never had so much help in my life! . I can now confirm that I have absolutely no conception of punctuation or grammar, and have no idea at all where to stick my apostrophes (be nice ). Without my betas Vanasati, Morticia, Katy and Nomi, this would have been thrown back into the drawer. Thank you all, you marvellous and talented people. Your time and attention is very humbling, and you have all taught me a great deal.

Thanks to Van for suggesting this title. My mind was blank .

Dedicated to Vanasati, whose vision and instinct I trust. Her own stories are wonderful, and she can *see* possibilities like no one else I know. My dear, when I'm a better writer (one day, maybe), I hope I have the courage and skill to follow all your leads. Until then, know that your advice to me is always appreciated.

Jan 2001 





 
 

'He thinks I betrayed him.'

Tom Paris sat on the sofa in his cabin, his head in his hands as he tortured himself mercilessly.

He rocked back and forth, shoulders tense, mouth a bitter line.

"Shit, shit, shit!" He slammed a fist into the seat cushion, snorting a frustrated sigh, and stared at the ceiling. "Fuck."

He knew the Commander would never really accept an apology from him; he'd been too hurt. Deep down inside, Chakotay would still despise him.

'Why oh fucking why did I have to hurt *him*?' he thought.


During bridge duty the next day, the Captain noticed an edge to her pilot. "Mr. Paris, would you come to my ready room please?" she asked, and watched as he turned a composed but pale face to her.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied, and called for a replacement for the helm.


'Well wasn't that just dandy?' he thought, sitting back at his post. "Yes, Captain, I'm fine. No, I'm not worried about the aftermath of our previous mission, no, no one has seen fit to present any problems to me. Yes, just not had a good night's sleep I guess. Yes, Captain, I'll be sure the see the Doc if it gets out of hand."

What a crock of shit.

Tom sat and felt the icy gaze of the Commander between his shoulder blades.

'Oh, I wish I was dead.'


Alone in his cabin again, Tom gazed out the porthole at the stars. Wishing he knew a way to go back in time. A way to heal the hurts. 

He and Chakotay had been a long time building a friendship. It was gone now; Tom felt it. He felt the hole of its absence in his gut, and he ached. 

No matter that the cause was out of his hands. No matter it was duty that forced him to do the opposite of what he wanted. It was done and he was here now, killing himself slowly with self-hate.

'Oh, Chakotay.'

The friendship had grown, and Tom had revelled in it. The Commander had no idea how much Tom loved him. That was fine with Tom. He'd been content just to be near him, to admire him, and earn his respect. They'd spent time together off-duty, and Tom had been so proud of the way he'd kept his passion in check, just allowing himself to enjoy the man's company. For chrissake, a few games of pool, some beers together, a few laughs, and he'd been happy.

He didn't think there'd be any more nights at Sandrine's with Chakotay.

He sighed. The smart-ass front he put on as routinely as he donned his uniform was going to be hard to dredge up tomorrow. It was all that kept him from being seen by the universe, however, and it was a disguise he used to keep the truth from being known. That he was vulnerable. That he could be hurt. That he needed.

A groan escaped him, and he slammed a palm over his mouth unconsciously. Always hiding, even from himself at times.

Not now. Now he had to find a way to cope, or risk imploding.

'Oh, Chakotay...'


A mission. A deception. Flush out the spy. Captain's orders. Humiliating the First Officer along the way, by the by, can't be helped, he'll understand. Eventually. Do this Mr. Paris, it's vital, our safety, our security, you're essential…

But…not to Chakotay! Oh gods, he'd done some hard things, but pushing the man he loved away from him was just up there with the worst; oh yes, can't feel much shittier than this.


'Get your mind off it, Paris. Go do something. Anything. Stop rotting away; pining like a petulant child after a toy. Get off your butt!'

Tom walked over to the terminal and punched in the list of holoprograms he'd created. Scanned the scenarios, tossed them out of consideration after the briefest of looks. No, none of them. Nothing was right. Nothing would work.

He sat and let his mind drift. What he wanted was Chakotay. Couldn't have him, fool. Should he go to Sandrine's anyway, meet up with Harry, shoot some pool?

He shook his head and returned his gaze to the terminal. Started random searches through the holodeck programming.

It caught his eye, and he ran the scan backwards till the entry appeared again. Dorvan. Chakotay's personal program, apparently. Dorvan had been Chak's home. 'Wonder what it's like; is it like him, beautiful, and gentle, tough, and surprising?' 

It came to him then. Go there, find out, be there, feel the essence of him. Share this part of him, even if he didn't know. Especially. 

Paris began the task of decrypting the access codes, a renewed vigour infusing him.


The glade was cool. Tom sat and wriggled his toes into the turf. The morning sun dappled through the leaves above, and birds moved about in the branches, chattering.

It was beautiful. A lake lay just below him, glimmering softly through the tree trunks. A breeze from the water drifted over him, and Tom lay back against the soft grass. 

The smell of something tangy and fresh reached him, and he wondered which particular bush or tree or grass it came from. Short of crawling around and sniffing flora, or asking Chakotay (snort!), he'd just have to wonder, he guessed. 

It was wonderful. Peaceful. It was so... Chakotay.

A lump came to his throat, and Tom drew his arm across his face. Being here was special, it was what he needed, but oh, he wanted so much to be here with its real resident. 

Tom closed his eyes as a pang of loneliness saddened him.

Never mind. He loved it here. This was more than he expected to have.
 
 

A wave of guilt swept through him. Gods, Chakotay would kill him if he knew. Accessing someone's private program, invading his personal space in this way... it was wrong, in so many ways. He'd be up on charges, at the very least.

Tom rolled over and cushioned his face in his arms. 

Whichever way he went now, he couldn't win. And he needed to be here. So he'd stay.

A few moments more spent listening to the birds, and Tom pushed himself up. Time to explore some more of Dorvan.


Chakotay frowned. He re-ran the report again. No, no mistaking it. Cleverly hidden, but it was there. Someone had been running his Dorvan holoprogram last night.

Anger made him rigid. Who the hell would have the audacity to break in like that? He felt all the shock and vulnerability anyone would have if their home were broken into. Violated. It was obscene.

His private sanctuary. Used, by spirits knew who, for some unfathomable reason.

'Right, you bastard,' he thought. 

"Computer, access program Chakotay 101263Dorvan."

"Program accessed."

"Implement visual and audio recording of any and all program sessions from this date. File recordings to my voiceprint, encrypted to 5th security level. Comply."

"Acknowledged. Modifications complete."


"Mr. Paris, take us around that cluster. I don't want to invite trouble if it can be helped." The Captain looked out at the asteroids tumbling lazily across the view screen, as Tom turned the ship to starboard, plotting a temporary course change.

His "Aye Captain," had a brighter ring to it today, she noted. Well and good, she'd been concerned about him. It had been hard, but necessary, the orders she'd given him. 

Heavens knew Tom had worked hard to fit in on her ship, and his role in their last mission had brought old animosities to the surface again. The Maquis were still a touchy lot she mused, even after all this time. She wanted to be sure her pilot wasn't suffering any undue fallout from his actions, committed at her behest.

'He's a tough one,' she thought, 'but not as tough as he makes out.' Her heart went out to him, even as her sense of duty argued with her, the old internal struggle. 'Just keep an eye on him,' she thought, and leaned back in her chair.


"Coming to Sandrine's tonight?" Harry asked, as they rode the turbo lift after shift.

"Sure, Har," Tom said. 'For a while,' he thought. 


Tom left Harry after a half dozen games of pool, smug in the knowledge he'd won enough credits to carry him for the next week. Poor Harry, maybe he should treat him to a dinner, just to take the sting out of losing so hard tonight. 

Tom looked around the corridor to make sure he was alone, then walked to a vacant Holodeck. Within seconds, he was inside.


It was nighttime. The landscape was glowing under the moon's brilliance. Tom's feet crunched as he made his way to a hilltop and rested against a rock outcropping. Far below, the valley spread out, and drew his eye over shaded forms. Trees, a river, some farmland maybe over to the left.
 
 

The warm air caressed him, and he moved to a soft verge of grass away from the cliff edge. He sat and stared out at the vista below. 'More beauty,' he thought. 'It never ends.'

With a sigh, he curled up on his side and rested his head on the crook of his arm. Soon he was asleep.


Chakotay's astonishment was profound.

What the fuck was Paris doing? His mind blanked, and he stared at the screen in disbelief.

The stupid fool was asleep. The Commander shook his head in angry puzzlement. He couldn't understand what the hell Paris thought he'd accomplished by gaining access to his program. 
 
 

He watched some more, and then turned the screen off. He resisted his immediate urge to confront the pilot. He was too confused to face Tom right now and demand an explanation. Now he at least knew who the interloper was, he would wait until he could be sure of maintaining his normal stoic facade and then find out what the hell Tom was playing at.


Tom had no idea that he was watched at breakfast. He'd woken up, thankfully before he was due on the bridge, and rushed back to his quarters. Gods, almost all of the credits he'd won off Harry the night before would have to go on Holodeck time. How stupid to fall asleep like that. But he'd been so comfortable, like he belonged there. 

Worth it. A quick shower and he was here, hungry and ready to start the day.

Across the mess hall, narrowed eyes noticed everything he did. And understood nothing.


Chakotay watched in increasing confusion. He'd seen Tom hike across the foot of Mt. Warne then shuck all his clothes before splashing into the pools below the waterfall with all the abandon of a kid at a carnival. Now he was sunning himself, stretched out along the rocks like a golden lizard. Well, no, not a lizard, not exactly.

He blinked at his own surprise. It had come to him, sometime in the last hour, that Tom meant no harm. He was enjoying the program, exploring and … playing. 

Discovering.

Chakotay had swum in those same pools as a boy. He loved them. It had taken him months to complete the programming, and he still worked on them, adding bits and pieces lovingly. It was his joy, his solace. It had hurt to know that someone had just come in and taken what was so precious to him.

It had angered him more than he could say to discover it was Tom Paris. Spirits, his feelings for Tom were so torn up, twisted round, his insides were sore. His carefully hidden attraction to the younger man had made his pain at the deception that much more acute. He knew, objectively, that Tom had only been doing his duty, keeping Chakotay in the dark, lying to him.

But it hurt; oh, it hurt. And galled him. He'd helped forge a team, dammit, out of two opposing factions; he should have been trusted.

Not Tom's fault, though.

Now he was watching Tom spending time on his home world. 

Not to vandalise it, not to mutilate it; Tom was loving it.

Just like he did.

Chakotay continued to watch, and his mind churned over the possibilities. Endlessly.


Two nights later and Tom lay under a field of stars. His thoughts drifted as a large number of bats wheeled overhead, chirping their strange cries. They settled in a tree on the other side of the lake and Tom sat up to watch the play of light on the surface of the water. A fish broke through, sending ripples outward toward the shore, and Tom listened to the gentle lapping of the waves against the bank.

He was healing. He'd been right to come here. The tranquillity was everything he'd needed. It hadn't changed anything in his life, no, but the way he dealt with it all, well…

Grateful for the serenity he found in this place, in Chakotay's home, he wished again for the man's company. 

And sighed. 'Not for you, Tommy,' he reminded himself.

The night stilled, and he drifted, and dozed.

He opened his eyes, and leapt to his feet. Shit! Chakotay was sitting about three metres away from him, staring at him with veiled eyes, eyes he couldn't really see in the dark.

Tom stood staring at the older man, holding his breath in horror. Nobody moved.

"What are you doing on Dorvan, Lieutenant?" the man in the shadows eventually asked.

Tom's throat constricted. Oh gods, his ass was dead. Finished. Oh gods.

He stood there unable to speak. He wanted to say so much. But what could he say? Hello, I love you, I've missed you, I had to be near you in some way, your planet seemed like a good idea, I love it, by the way, why do you hate me, please don't hate me any more, oh gods, you'll hate me even more now, oh I can't take this, why did I do this, please forgive me…

"I'm so sorry, Commander. Computer, arch."

As he turned towards the exit, Tom looked back sorrowfully over his shoulder.

"I'll wait for security in my quarters, Sir," he said in a flat voice, and let the arch close behind him.


Tom sat on his couch and waited. He'd showered quickly after entering his cabin, and changed into fresh clothes. No point spending the night in the brig without some comfort, he figured.

Now he sat, numbed and sick. Too numb to berate himself for the idiotic idea of breaking into Chakotay's program. Too numb yet to acknowledge the fresh waves of pain washing over him from Chakotay's discovery.

It was all over. He'd lost him for good, well and truly.

Life sucked.


The door chimed, and swished open on his command. Bracing himself for a team from security, his eyes widened when Commander Chakotay walked in alone.

The panic in his eyes caused Chakotay to cock his head and look at him questioningly. "May I sit down, Tom?" he asked, and walked over to the chair opposite the couch when Tom's head bobbed an uncertain acknowledgment.

'Tom. He called me Tom.'

His mind whirled, totally confused. When was the crunch going to come?

His face a forlorn mixture of shame and resignation, Tom waited for the next part of his downfall. He wished a hole would open up in the bulkhead, and space him. He couldn't stand to watch Chakotay bring on all the scorn and contempt he was sure was next, and looked resolutely at the floor.

"You never answered my question."

"Commander?"

"What were you doing on Dorvan, Tom?" Chakotay asked softly.

Tom brought his gaze back to Chakotay, who was sitting calmly, relaxed. Tom spent a few moments gathering his wits about him.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"What for?"

"For being there, on your world; in your program. I know it was wrong." His hands started rubbing against each other, and a frown of sincerity marred his forehead.

"Why were you there?" the older man persisted.

"Because." Tom said quietly. "Because it's your place."

Chakotay sat back and nodded his head, as if confirming something he'd suspected already. Tom felt like he needed to be sick.

"I won't go there again, Commander. I promise. I'm sorry if I spoiled it for you, I didn't mean to, honestly. It's a beautiful place, I wouldn't do anything, I mean, ruin it, it's lovely," he babbled, the panic forcing its way up again.

Chakotay stared at him, deep brown eyes gauging the taller, younger man obviously in distress right now. A decision was reached.

"I don't mind if you run the program Tom. Just ask me next time. Maybe I'll join you."

Tom was speechless.

A few more moments of Tom sitting there with his mouth hanging open, and Chakotay smiled.

"I still don't understand. I need you to tell me. Why do you want to be on my world, Tom? Why my place?"

Tom ducked his head, and took a deep breath, fighting the urge to flee. What did knowing matter? Either he was finished already, and would only go down faster, or...

His blue eyes turned back to Chakotay. His gaze never left the older man's as he spoke.

"I needed to be there. I wanted to tie myself to something of you. Because I'd lost your friendship. I missed you. I..." 

"You what?"

Silence.

"Tom?"

"I love you." Said so softly, fearfully.

Neither man moved, and Tom felt his eyes beginning to fill. Dammit, not now, stay in control. Too late, he knows, dear god he knows...

His eyes closed, and he waited for Chakotay to leave. 

Please. Leave.

Chakotay's heart was soaring. The rage he'd first felt had disappeared days ago, and in its place had sprung an uncertain sense of hope. All of Tom's actions had pointed to this moment, but until this admission, he hadn't let himself truly believe it.

A hand lifted Tom's chin.

"Stand up, Tom."

The younger man stood, and lips gently pressed on his. His world was upside down.

Chakotay's arms held him up, until his own strength returned.

Tom looked into warm, smiling eyes, while his normally nimble mind rushed to catch up with the obvious. He didn't know it, but the amazed smile that appeared on his face was the most beautiful thing Chakotay had ever seen.

The Commander's own mind was busy conjuring hopeful visions; of taking Tom back to his 'home' at every opportunity, of spending more and more time together. Sharing much more than this, if Tom would let him.

The older mans arms continued to hold Tom close, while revelling in the joy of finally *knowing* Tom's feelings. 

When he felt Tom's arms close around him firmly in return, he placed a soft kiss on the pilot's nose and gave an almost shy grin.

"I love you back," he whispered playfully, nervously, truthfully.

Tom's eyes scrunched shut in blissful shock, then flew open again to let him look in wonder into Chakotay's eyes. He saw truth there, and flung his arms around Chakotay's neck, drew his head closer still, and kissed him passionately.

When they broke apart, Tom's fingers continued to trace over the features before him. Chakotay grinned and said again, "I love you Tom Paris."

With a deep sigh of relief, Tom pressed his head into Chakotay's neck. "I'm sorry, you know. About hurting you. I never wanted that, Chakotay. It almost killed me to hurt you that way."

"Shh. It's okay. It was rough on both of us. Let it go, Tom." His fingers soothed along the pilot's back. "It's finished. Now we can start over, okay?"

"Mmmm," came a satisfied sound of agreement next to Chakotay's ear.

"You know, I don't think you found my cabin, yet." Chakotay said.

Tom leaned back with a puzzled look. "Your cabin?" he queried. "On deck..." He stopped short at the amused glint in Chakotay's eyes.

"I mean on Dorvan, Tom."

Tom blinked, surprised. He hadn't seen any cabin. Whereabouts would Chakotay hide a cabin?

Chakotay's mouth twitched as he tried not to smile. "So how would you feel about coming back to 'my place'?" he asked.

'Absolutely wonderful,' Tom thought. Another huge grin lit his face. He kissed the older man again, and said, "Just let me grab a couple of things, okay?"

"I love you, Tom."

"Oh, Chakotay."
 
 

End
 

 

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