Subject: [PacKage] NEW/DRA: Consolation, P/K, J/P, R, 1/1.
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 1999 21:32:16 +1000
From: Julad <julad@bigfoot.com>
Reply-To: PacKage@onelist.com
To: PacKage <PacKage@onelist.com>

From: Julad <julad@bigfoot.com>

Title: Consolation
Author: Julad <julad@bigfoot.com>
Rating: R
Pairing: J/P and P/K, plus a bit of other alphabet soup.
Archive: PacKage only at the moment
Series/sequel: Number three in Discovery series, after Confusion
(and addendum)
Warning: Blah, blah, Paramount. No profit, no juveniles. Men
still don't fuck, but at least they kind of think about it this
time.
Summary: Ugh, goddammit, I'll write one when I archive it.

Um. Okay. This series again.

This was mostly written over a year ago, and that was when I was
watching seasons one and two, so characterisation and canon are
waaaaaaaay outdated. And my writing style has changed so much
since then that I can hardly believe this was me. I want to
scream at the author "Show, don't tell!!". And "Don't change the
mood ten times a page!" And "Watch your bloody POV's,
goddammit!". <grin>

Love to Anagi, who is like the godmother to this series. Feel
free to trash. :)

***********
Consolation
***********

Sandrine's was full tonight, and normally the fact that so many
of his crewmates came to his holoprogram would have given Tom a
small glow of pleasure. Tonight, he wished they'd go away. He
didn't want to spend another night alone in his quarters, so
loneliness and desperation had brought him here, to his home away
from home. It wasn't enough though, not tonight. Tom wanted the
Sandrine's where he could sulk in the corner and drink real
alcohol and nobody but the owner would notice his helpless
bewildered anger and equally helpless despair. He wanted the
place of nameless, faceless, mindless oblivion where he could
submerge memories and meaning in a bitter drunken stupor.

In the real Sandrine's he didn't have to wear any mask, but here
in the holographic bar, the effort it took to be the outrageous
flyboy only showed him how brittle he really was. The light, the
colour, the edges were all too bright, offending eyes that craved
murky darkness. The background chatter was too loud, too
cheerful, making him twitch with discomfort and irritation. He
was surrounded by happy, healthy people, when he felt like he was
made of dirty flawed china. /Don't touch me or I'll shatter,/ he
silently pleaded his companions.

Unfortunately he was talking to Megan Delaney, and all the little
nudges and caresses were making him want to scream bloody
murder. Tom extracted himself from the conversation and drifted
into a dim corner, so he could be alone among all these people.

   * * * * *

The captain watched his progress carefully. She knew something
was wrong, something more than one of Tom's whimsical bouts of
cynical self-hatred. His piloting was as classy as ever, and he
still chattered away from his position at the conn, but there was
an edge to his banter, and an emptiness to his cheer that had her
worried. Maybe it would do to ask Sandrine, she thought to
herself, then changed her mind. Since the problem wasn't
affecting his performance, she could get safetly get rid of the
captain persona and ask him herself. Sometimes he could open up
to Kathryn when he couldn't talk to anyone else. She knew that
the sharp Frenchwoman was a reassuring presence for him, but the
security of confiding in holocharacters was a sword double-edged
with inadequacy, with the failure to find a real friend.

"Excuse me," she murmured to her first officer, and made her way
through the crowd to her pilot's table. Tom watched her appoach
with an expressionless face and sad eyes. That was actually a
good sign, and Kathryn sighed at the irony. Apparently there
*was* something wrong, but at least he wasn't going to pretend
everything was fine.

"Hey," she murmured, touching him under the chin with her
finger. "What's up?"

He shrugged silently, staring at the dents and scratches on the
table. Her gesture had told him it was Kathryn he was talking
to. Not the starfleet captain he respected and admired, but the
woman who was his saviour, his mentor, and occasionally his
friend. And she was sitting down beside him and asking him if he
wanted to tell her about it. If nothing else, he was profoundly
grateful to her for caring. Still, he wasn't sure if she could
help him right now. His throat burned with the need to talk to
someone, but really, even if he confessed all, there was nothing
she could do to make Harry listen to him.

They sat quietly for a while, watching the crew drinking and
laughing. They looked strangely unreal, like animated characters
on a vid. "Do you want to me to leave you alone?" she asked
finally. Tom just shrugged again, not looking at her, not
looking anywhere. Things were slowly circling in his mind:
Harry. B'Elanna. Love, sex, friendship. The gaping hole in his
heart where his soul was draining away. Another seventy years of
this hollow feeling. Kathryn touched his hand lightly. "Do you
want to go somewhere else?"

This time Tom nodded and looked at her with a rueful smile. It
would be easier to talk out his confusion with her when he wasn't
worried about showing weakness in front of all these people.
They made their way out of the holodeck, the captain saying
goodbyes, Tom staring desolately at Harry. Harry looked at Tom
sharply when he saw he was leaving with the captain, and Tom had
the strongest impulse to run over and throw himself at his
friend's feet, clutching his ankles and begging for one night,
one hour, one *minute* of his affection. Instead he looked away.

Finally, they said goodbye to B'Elanna and Chakotay, who were
talking by the door. She looks how I feel, Tom thought with a
twinge of guilt. He gave her a sorrowful smile and touched her
cheek, then left the holodeck.

"Since when does *B'Elanna* look like a lost puppy?" Kathryn
asked, incredulous. Tom leaned against the wall of the turbolift
and gave her a ghostly imitation of the flyboy smirk.

"You'll find out in a minute. It's a tangled web we weave, below
decks on this poor battered ship."

She raised her eyebrows and led the way into her quarters,
replicating two coffees and gesturing to the couch. They sipped
in companionable silence until Tom felt the need for confession
and sympathy tighten his throat again. At least he'd come to the
right place at the right time. He couldn't always rely on
Kathryn to be there for him, she was Captain Janeway first and
foremost. Indeed, one of the things he most admired was her
sacrifice in putting the ship ahead of any and every personal
consideration. He liked to think that in a parallel universe
they might be more than sporadic friends, but in this universe
she was married to the ship, and never let them become more than
an occasional comfort to one another. And a comfort she was,
when rare circumstances permitted them to be just Tom and
Kathryn. Tom sighed and put his head on her shoulder, and she
stroked the soft hair gently.

"So do I have to start from the beginning of this sorry sordid
tale, or have you figured some of it out already?" he asked.

She put an arm around him and held him lightly. "Something
pretty obviously happened between you and B'Elanna. And all I
know beyond that is that you don't spend time with her or Harry
anymore, and Harry and B'Elanna don't talk about anything except
work, and you're *all* miserable. Harry and B'Elanna spend all
their hours repairing and replacing conduits, but day after day
you fly us at impulse power with nothing to take your mind off
whatever the problem is. You're getting transparent, even
Chakotay has commented on your unhappiness. You seem to be
fading away, flyboy."

He didn't mind the nickname from her, perhaps because they both
knew the he lived for flying if nothing else. For that reason
she could put the responsibilities of command away for the night
-- the captain trusted her pilot, even if Kathryn knew Tom had
problems. So he started talking.

"I slept with B'Ela, but I slept with Harry two days before
that."

Kathryn's eyebrows shot up, but then she carefully lowered them
and took a sip of coffee.

"She didn't know, and of course Harry hasn't told her. He was
brought up too well to tell her I'm a creep and a user. Oh, I
know," he waved Kathryn down from whatever she was about to deny,
"but wait until you hear the rest, okay?"

She settled back on the couch, noting the red around his haggard
eyes with concern, but saying nothing.

"But Harry's transparent and nobody ever called that particular
half-Klingon stupid and lived to brag about it, so she confronted
me. And I told her." They winced in unison, Tom in remembrance
and Kathryn as she imagined the kind of violence which could
explode from an extremely overworked Klingon whose fierce
defenses against intimacy had been breached in that fashion. "So
she confronts Harry, inadvertently revealing heretofore concealed
emotions toward my obnoxious self," he rolled his eyes in
despair, "and Harry dons his shining armour and comes to me,
demanding to know why I took advantage of B'Elanna and whether I
used him too." He slid further down into the corner of the couch
but stared up at the captain, fascinated by the mixture of
amusement sympathy and exasperation warring on her face.

"Typical, that I can wreck so much, so unthinkingly," his voice
had a kind of detached bemusement. "I fall for Harry, I sleep
with Harry, Harry doesn't love me, so I sleep with B'Elanna and
B'Elanna falls for me, and now none of us are friends anymore.
It only took two days to cause it, and now one sentence can chart
the destruction of three friendships, and delete the few things I
loved from my life." He gave her another shallow smile. "There
was so much more to my first descent into oblivion."

She shook him gently. "You're not exactly hitting rock bottom
yet, *Lieutenant*. You've got a commission, the conn, seventy
lightyears separating you from prison and infamy..."

"...and a nice friendly captain to remind me to count my
blessings."

She grinned at him, with that sudden mischieviousness which was
so disconcerting in a woman of her age and rank. "I'm sure I can
do more than that for you, Tom."

He raised an eyebrow at her in unspoken query, intrigued. "What
might that be?"

"Oh, nothing really." She ran a coy finger around the rim of her
cup, and batted her eyelashes. "I just thought you might not
want to be alone right now." Then a smirk slipped in through the
corner of her lips and she laughed, a sound which washed the
tension from Tom's muscles in a gentle flow of reassurance and
warmth.

He couldn't resist teasing her back. "Oh, is the captain of the
Federation Starship Voyager offering me a sympathy fuck?"

She gave him the punishing look usually reserved for her
holographic pupils and the Kazon, but before she could prevent
it, the expression slipped from the realm of 'threat' and into
the realm of 'dare'.

"Has the playboy pilot set his sights on the highest target in
visual range?"

"Oh, you know I'm never one to pass up a challenge," he drawled.

They chuckled and then froze as a sudden silence fell - the kind
which appears out of nowhere and smothers every mood except
awkwardness, until a distraction can force it back. But no
distraction came. First waiting for her to speak, and then
fidgeting as his slumped position became awkward, Tom finally
looked up again at his captain. She watched him watch her,
drinking occasionally from her empty mug and finally putting it
down on the glass table with a loud clunk and an audible sigh.

"You're lonely, aren't you?" he murmured.

She shrugged. "We didn't come here to talk about me."

"What about Chakotay? I can tell he wants you."

"Chakotay is the marrying kind. I'm not, so I'm not going to
start anything which will end in disaster for my ship and my
command. And besides, we're not discussing this."

Tom sat up straighter and she stared back at him, drawing on her
captains' demeanour as if it were armour. He leaned over and
mussed her hair, promting a surprised laugh and then a very
annoyed, "Lieutenant!"

He smirked and then swung his legs up and over her lap,
preventing her from standing. "There. You can't possibly put on
the captain's face and deny your feelings when you're in such a
compromising position with the ship's slut. So how come you're
not the marrying kind?"

Kathryn tried to glare at him and failed. She drew herself up
and prepared to order him back to his own side of the couch, but
a large section of hair fell over her face and Tom's arrogant
smirk burst into gleeful chuckling. Finally, with a resigned
sigh, she pulled the rest of her hair free and tipped her head
back to stare at the faded scorch marks on her ceiling. So long
ago, that explosion. There were scratches on the walls from an
earlier battle, and a dent in the railing from a more recent
fight. They always repaired what was necessary, and patched over
what they could, but most of the marks would be there until the
journey was over.

Tom sat up, bringing them face to face. His legs were still
across hers, and she noticed that her hand had been resting on
his thigh. She stared into the blue eyes, seeing what they were
asking, reflecting the deliberation in her own. The necessity of
her loneliness was like a cloak she held around herself to keep
warm on this ship, but that didn't mean she couldn't shed it in
the right circumstance. For somebody who already understood the
distance which came with command; who was accustomed to the
devotion to duty overriding all else. For somebody who didn't
really need it, and knew she didn't need it either. Somebody who
would accept consolation and give it, when it was possible and
however he could.

Tom's fingers drifted into her hair and Kathryn kissed him,
dissolving into the moment with the bittersweet relief of knowing
that this was nothing but a brief respite from the cold.

*****************************************

At the morning conference, Tom was doing some math. Normally he
wouldn't do sums in his head for fun, but today the results he
was getting were... interesting, to say the least. The five
other senior officers on Voyager were in the room, and he'd slept
with over half of them. That was interesting. He was the only
person on board that any of them had slept with. That was
interesting. He'd fucked all the Starfleet Lieutenants and all
the Captains in the delta quadrant. That was very interesting.
Only two Commanders to go, he told himself wryly. That was
revolting. What a pity Tuvok and Chakotay were such unattractive
prospects, or he'd go for a clean sweep. He smirked to himself
at the idea. That would make Daddy proud. His son rising
through the ranks. Oh yeah. He would do it just to see the look
on the old man's face when he told him.

Unfortunately, sleeping with either of the Commanders would
probably be like fucking a log. The Impassive Vulcan and The
Stoic Indian, real fun, real passionate, sure. They just *oozed*
sensuality; sex appeal positively *dripped* from their pores.
Tom glanced over at them scornfullly. There they were, sitting
still as stones, two sets of calm eyes resting on him like he was
a truculent and somewhat repulsive teenager. Oh, fuck, they'd
both seen him smirking. Now they oozed disapproval, and silent
reprimands dripped from their pores.

He composed his face into the most blandly innocent expression he
could manage, and petulantly continued his plotting. Because
come to think of it, Chakotay reeked of tightly restrained
sexuality. Hmmm, was he repressing it, or just confining it for
the good of the ship? Or saving himself for the captain? Well,
he couldn't wait forever, if that was the case.

And now that he *was* thinking if it, it would be kind of...
satisfying, making Chakotay lose his cool. See how calm he would
be with Tom's mouth sucking him for all he was worth. Find out
if he would beg shamelessly, if denied orgasm for long enough.
He was a big man, too, and heavy, and Tom had to admit he liked
that in a male lover.

And hell, if he was going to go for one Commander, he might as
well go for the other. *Stamina*. Apparently Vulcans had a lot
of stamina. They didn't need to sleep much, either. And wasn't
there something about sandalwood? Seducing the Security Chief
could be quite rewarding, Tom realised. He did some more of that
interesting math. They'd been out here three and a half years,
and Tuvok had been in the Maquis a year before that, so within
the next two and a half years, Commander Tuvok would be wanting
to get laid *real* bad...

A steely voice cut into his musings.

"Is something about the magnetic constrictors amusing, Mr Paris?"

Oh shit, he'd been smirking *again*. He flashed the captain a
perfectly guileless smile, in the style of the great Harry Kim.

"No, ma'am!"

She gave him the Kazon-killing stare. Oops. Had that been too
cocky?

Tom had given himself a very stern lecture on the way back to his
quarters this morning. He was *not* going to take advantage of
this while on duty. On duty, she was the captain. She would
*not* tolerate any bullshit from him, so he'd better not try it.
No double-entendres, no knowing glances, no expecting her to
treat him differently to any other stunningly talented, handsome
and charming pilot on the ship. No, ma'am. It would mean
nothing to her that last night they'd fucked each other senseless
and then dozed side-by-side - *naked* in bed together, for
godssakes - until early morning. No, obviously she wasn't going
to remember that at all.

Probably a good thing, he told himself, feeling rather
repentant. The temptation to smirk this morning was kind of
overwhelming, and *somebody* had to put a stop to it. After all,
he didn't want a jealous First Officer pounding the crap out of
him.

Still, he couldn't help being a little bit pleased, could he? It
was a nice change from feeling like an unwanted piece of shit, he
defended himself. Then he suddenly felt incredibly guilty.
Looking around the room, he watched first B'Ellana, and then
Chakotay. Did they feel as he usually did? Lost and lonely
because the one they loved didn't want their pathetic offerings?
Spending every day staring hopelessly at their heart's desire
over this table, or on the bridge? None of us has a chance to
run away and hide, Tom realised, no time apart to lick our wounds
for a while. Then he thought about Tuvok. He'd been married for
seventy years, and it might be another seventy years before he
saw his wife again. That was the delta quadrant for you. Oh
shit. Now he felt depressed.

He might as well be premenstrual, the way his emotions kept going
up and down today. For a while this morning he'd been feeling
rather positive. There was nothing like great company and great
sex to buoy up the spirits, Tom knew. He hadn't been that happy
since... no, don't think about waking up with my best friend
naked beside me, sleeping peacefully in my embrace.

Too late. Tom risked a glance at Harry, and wished he hadn't.
His best friend was absorbed in the technical discussion which
Tom was ignoring, and his intelligence and enthusiasm were
obvious to Tom, even if he didn't understand what they were
talking about. The way he focused his whole attention on the
person who was speaking, the way he stared into space when he was
thinking hard, the way he moved his head when he began to argue a
point... Tom could watch him all day, and these days, usually
did.

Great, now he was *really* miserable. He wrenched his gaze away
from Harry and watched B'Ellana, who was arguing heatedly with
him over some obscure and totally inconvenient law of particle
physics. At least she was too busy to feel lousy. But she
seemingly felt his eyes on her, and glanced his way. Tom could
see the hurt in her face, and the shadows under her eyes. I
trusted you with my emotions, and you betrayed me, those eyes
said. So Tom looked over at Chakotay, who was apparently bored
as well. His eyes were on the captain, and he looked, well,
*patient*. Don't hold your breath, mister, Tom told him
silently.

Thinking about the ridiculously entangled love lives of this
group, an interesting theory popped into Tom's mind, so he did
some more calculations. Well, what do you know? A pattern.

None of this mess between Tom and his two friends had begun until
Harry had been made the same rank as himself and B'Elanna. And
now, all the Lieutenants on the senior staff were caught up in a
ridiculous love triangle. And the Captain and her First Officer,
closest to her in rank, had relationship problems as well. But
he and the captain had had a great time last night, with no
repercussions or ugly emotional dramas. Curious. Fraternization
between ranks was apparently a consummation devoutly to be
wished.

Tom couldn't help laughing silently to himself at that, then
laughed again as he noticed his good mood was suddenly back
again. Fraternization between ranks is a consummation devoutly
to be wished, and the mathematics of relationships is the best
medicine. My god, I'm having some profound thoughts today, Tom
realized absurdly.

He glanced up to see Harry staring at him. The look on his face
was cold, as if he didn't approve of Tom being happy. Well, fuck
you, Tom thought stubbornly, I can be happy if I want. His face
must have shown his defiance, because Harry gave him a faintly
skeptical look.

Oh, so you think I can't get along without you, Mr Kim? Tom
resumed his petulant scheming. I give you two months to take
what I'm offering, then I'm going after Chakotay. I don't care
what you think about it, you can fuck a hole in the wall for all
I'll notice. If the captain hasn't changed her mind about him,
we'll be comforting one another with loud, messy, and incredibly
mindblowing sex. So *there*!

Tom looked over at Harry again, and his heart fell. Harry wasn't
even paying attention to him anymore. His tiny stand for
independence meant nothing to his former best friend.

Tom sighed, not caring who heard him. He had just been kidding
himself all morning. Kathryn and Chakotay could take him or
leave him, it didn't matter. Harry was the only one he wanted,
the only thing he needed, and the only star he aimed for. The
rest of the universe could just unravel itself, for all he
cared.

Tom stared helplessly at Harry, willing him to turn around and
see his desperate love. Forgive me for thinking I could live
without you, Tom pleaded silently, and then sighed again. It was
no good pretending otherwise. He just wasn't interested in
consolation prizes.

*********************************end

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