Disclaimer: Paramount's, not mine.
Warning: Along with a wee bit of adult content, there’s a bad word or two in here as well.
Author's Note: Set sometime in mid-Season 2, say, between "Parturition" and "Maneuvers." Thanks to Rocky for the excellent beta read.
B'Elanna Torres took a deep breath before opening the door. She felt a vague sense of betrayal; Tom had made it very clear that he wanted to be left alone. If she had any sense, she would have complied with that directive, wouldn't have fought Chakotay in order to take a shuttle down to the planet. But there was something about Tom Paris that completely overrode any of B'Elanna's rational impulses. For that reason and that reason alone, she was standing in the middle of a busy street dressed in form-fitting jeans, a white ribbed tank top, her hair bundled beneath a cowboy hat. She'd even gone with snakeskin leather boots, even though replicating them had cost her nearly three weeks' worth of rations. This didn't even include the fact that she was giving up part of her precious shore leave to go after Tom.
Along with the rest of the crew, B'Elanna had really been looking forward to the 72 hours of shore leave Janeway had promised them. Thirteen hours previously, Voyager had entered orbit around Capella Prime, an M-class planet which surprisingly had evolved in parallel to Earth, thus being home to a culture and species that were curiously similar and familiar to those aboard Voyager. Tom Paris, dressed in jeans and a brightly flowered shirt, had been one of the first ones off the ship. Tom had been given 24-hours leave but had failed to return on time. Because the planetary atmosphere prevented a beam-out, Chakotay had been contemplating sending security after the missing helm officer. B'Elanna, however, had interceded.
"Let me go," she had said. "I'll bring Paris back to Voyager."
Chakotay had looked at B'Elanna in surprise. "B'Elanna, you don't want to get involved with this."
"Trust me. The two of you are constantly butting heads these days. Do you *really* want to send security after him?" B'Elanna had asked. "Give me a chance."
"I don't know why this matters to you so much."
"I owe him one," she had answered. Chakotay had eyed her speculatively and then finally nodded.
"You're right. My relationship with Tom is pretty tenuous as it is," he had said. "You've got two hours to knock some sense into him, otherwise I'm sending a security detail after him. This kind of insubordination cannot be allowed to go unchecked."
B'Elanna had run a quick scan of the planet's surface and discovered that Tom had made himself at home in a bar with a western theme. It could be worse, B'Elanna had thought. Tom could have decided to head for a brothel. Comparatively, a bar was downright dignified and respectful -- unless, of course, it was one of those bars or saloons that also served women along with their alcohol in dark, upstairs rooms. As she saw it, B'Elanna figured she'd haul Tom back up to Voyager and then she would be able to join Harry Kim at the beach resort on the southern continent -- a much more sensible choice for a vacation, in B'Elanna's opinion.
"You'd better worth this, Tom Paris," B'Elanna said under her breath as she stepped into the smoky interior of bar. She coughed as she moved cautiously forward, the doors closing with a whoosh behind her. The room was illuminated only by the glare of brightly colored neon signs advertising one alcoholic beverage or another; the universal translator rendered one of the signs as The Wonderama, which B'Elanna assumed, was the name of the establishment. In the corner, there was a pool table and just beyond, a dart board. There were a few tables scattered throughout the bar. B'Elanna took another step, painfully aware of the crunch of peanuts and stickiness of alcohol beneath her new boots. The heavy, musty scent of beer hung in the air.
"Hey pretty lady."
B'Elanna turned. The man addressing her was, in a word, large, both in height and bulk. His blue jeans sagged around his middle, and his plaid shirt popped open at the third button, revealing black curly strands of hair beneath and a pale blue flabby belly. His beard was uneven, sprinkled with white among the black. Those narrow eyes were hidden between puffy folds of skin, and were rimmed with red. His breath stank of alcohol, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. B'Elanna took a step backwards.
"Can I buy you a drink?" His hand was on her forearm now.
B'Elanna shrugged the hand off her, making a mental note to run the part of her body he'd touched through the decontamination process at least twenty times when she returned to Voyager. "I'm here with someone."
"Him." B'Elanna pointed to a figure at the bar.
"Pretty lady like you could do better."
B'Elanna privately agreed, but she had a job to do and the specimen in front of her wasn't much more to her liking than Tom Paris. "Are you looking for a fight?"
The man shrugged his broad shoulders. "I'm just sayin'."
"Don't say another word or I'll break your nose." With that, B'Elanna headed towards the bar and slipped onto an empty bar stool. "Hello, stranger."
Tom Paris turned to look at her. His face was beaded with perspiration, his hair uncombed. B'Elanna wrinkled her nose; how long had it been since he'd bathed? She looked at the empty glass in front of him.
"You came," he said dully.
"You knew someone would," B'Elanna said softly. The bartender stood in front of her.
"What'll it be?"
"Whatever he's having." B'Elanna nodded towards Tom's drink. "So, you want to talk about it?"
"There's nothing to talk about."
"I think there is." B'Elanna reached for the small bowl of peanuts. "You've been here for hours. It's a damn waste of all of your shore leave--"
"Are you my keeper?"
"No." B'Elanna put her hand on top of his. "But I am concerned about you."
"I'm fine, B'Elanna."
"You don't look fine to me," B'Elanna said as the bartender put a tall glass of something amber in front of her. B'Elanna took a sip. "This place is a dump."
"It feels like home. I belong here." Tom turned his head slightly so that he was looking at B'Elanna. "So there you have it, the real Tom Paris. The person you always thought I was. I guess it must feel pretty damn good to have been right all along, huh?"
"I didn't come here to tell you 'I told you so' or rub your nose into anything."
"Then why are you here?"
"If you have to ask the question..." she let her voice drift off. "Where are you staying? You've been down on the planet for more than a day--and I don't think you've spent all that time just sitting here at this table."
"This place has got a hotel. It's all right. Cheap, but hey, it's got a bed and it's just upstairs."
"Do you think that's really a good idea to stay here at night instead of on Voyager? This isn't the safest neighborhood and you're alone." She glanced over her shoulder at the large man who had propositioned her earlier.
"I can take care of myself." Tom took another drink, a long, smooth gulp. B'Elanna watched him carefully. "Drink with me, B'Elanna. It's awfully lonely drinking by myself."
"Are you drunk?" she asked softly. "Maybe we should go."
"I just got here."
"You've already spent more than enough time here. It's time to leave."
"I'm not going back there." Tom pointed to the ceiling; B'Elanna knew he was referring to Voyager.
"You don't mean that," she said gently. "So you're not getting along with Chakotay and half of the crew hates your guts." 'Half', B'Elanna realized, was actually an understatement; other than Janeway and Harry Kim, there were few people aboard Voyager who actually *liked* Tom Paris. Hell, *she* didn't even like Tom Paris. B'Elanna took a deep breath. "That's no reason to throw it all away."
"I don't know why *you* of all people would care."
B'Elanna sighed. Tom had a point. She hadn't had much use for the man when he had joined Chakotay's Maquis cell and she certainly hadn't much patience for him aboard Voyager. Her overall opinion hadn't changed: he was still a flirt, still dangerous, still a womanizer, still irresponsible. *Pig*. But since he had taken care of her when they had been captured by the Vidiians, she had found herself looking at Tom in a different light. She hated to admit to anyone -- especially Chakotay -- that she found Tom attractive, desirable, and that a part of her was inexplicably drawn to him.
"You're right," she said, "maybe I *am* wasting my time."
"So Chakotay knows you're looking for me?"
B'Elanna nodded. "You're not hard to find, Paris. Next time you run, lose the communicator."
He laughed, a little bitterly, at that comment. "Maybe I wanted to be found."
"Is this some kind of game with you?" B'Elanna asked. "Maybe you should tell me now so I can cut my losses and enjoy what's left of my shore leave instead of worrying about your sorry ass."
"I didn't ask you to worry about me."
"No," B'Elanna said. "You didn't." She pressed her palm flat against the splintered wood counter. "You're the best pilot on Voyager. I hate to admit it, but we'd have a hell of a time getting home without you." She glanced at him sideways. "We need you."
"You don't even care about the Alpha Quadrant," Tom said. "The Feds are going to throw you and the rest of the Maquis in prison anyway." He leaned over, cupping her jaw with his hand. It was a bold, seductive move and B'Elanna had to admit: she liked it. Despite the strong stench of alcohol on Tom's breath, she didn't recoil. His palm was rough, not gentle, as he pressed into her skin. "How about you and I make a deal, B'Elanna? We run together. No one back in the AQ wants us anyway. We can stay here. Voyager can go back. Seventy years. Do you know what we could do in seventy years?" He was leaning in towards her, his breath warm against her skin. "With my piloting skills and your engineering expertise? We could rule the quadrant."
"Attractive as that sounds," B'Elanna said uneasily, "I'm going to have to pass."
Tom sagged forward, his head hitting the counter hard. B'Elanna stood up in disgust. Fine, she thought, she'd given it her best shot. Let him rot there if he wanted to. Why should *she* care whether he came back to Voyager or not? She didn't even *like* the guy. She signaled to the bartender.
"I'll pay his tab and mine both," she said.
"You're not leaving him here, are you?" The bartender looked offended at the mere notion.
B'Elanna looked at Tom Paris. Kahless, she thought, what a waste. It would be so easy to walk out of here, leave him behind. She'd tell Chakotay she'd given it her best shot but Tom was determined to spend the rest of his days mucking around some dump of a bar, drinking away the rest of his life. She could walk out of here now and never think about Tom Paris. It would be so easy. Tom was a lot like her, had a lot of scars, not all of them visible to the discerning eye. He had survived his demanding father, Caldik Prime, the Maquis; he'd survive this too. B'Elanna took another look at Tom as she placed a few credits on the counter.
"No," she said softly. "I wouldn't do that to him."
Tom Paris rolled over. His head hurt, forcing him to open his eyes. Damn, it was bright. He swallowed hard; bile burned in his throat.
"Ugh." He found it difficult to open his mouth. God, where the hell was he? And why did his head hurt *so* badly?
"Shhhh, you're hung over."
B'Elanna Torres' face blurred in front of him. She sat next to him; the bed creaked beneath her added weight.
"Where am I?" he croaked.
"In the hotel at the Wonderama," B'Elanna said. She pressed a cold cloth to his head. "You passed out in the bar downstairs."
"Damn." Tom rubbed his tired eyes with his hands.
"Yes. It wasn't pretty."
Tom groaned. "My head..."
"Your bar tab was pretty high, Paris," B'Elanna said. "Were you trying to kill yourself?"
Tom looked at B'Elanna. Her hair was mussed and there was a long, jagged red scar, still raw at the edges, running down the length of her arm.
He reached out, ran his fingers tenderly down the scar. "What's that from?"
"From dragging you up here," she said. "I cut myself on the door. You're no lightweight, Paris."
"I think I have a dermal regenerator--"
"It's no big deal."
"That cut could get infected."
"I'm fine, Tom. *You're* the one who has the problem."
Right. How could he have forgotten? Seventy thousand light years away from the Alpha Quadrant and he was still in a shitload of trouble. He tried to remember how he'd gotten into this situation in the first place. He had a dim recollection of arguing with Chakotay -- well, what was new? -- and spending a few days in the brig. He couldn't even remember why he had egged Chakotay on; probably something stupid. It was always something stupid. *What are you trying to prove, Paris?* He shook his head. It was so hard to think straight.
"Maybe you should take a shower," B'Elanna ventured. She nodded towards a door in the corner that Tom hadn't seen before.
Tom took in the surrounding room. It was plainly furnished, simple furniture and it appeared clean enough, though he was taken aback at the fact that floor-to-ceiling mirrors completely covered one wall. He was just grateful that B'Elanna hadn't hauled him back up to Voyager in his inebriated condition. The last thing he needed was to spend another few days in the brig. The last time Chakotay had tossed him in there -- for disobeying an order to return from an away mission -- Chakotay had a made a point of saying that Harry Kim regarded Tom as a mentor.
"You owe Harry," Chakotay had said.
Tom hadn't felt much like he owed anyone at the moment and he told Chakotay so. That had earned him an additional day in the brig.
"That's really nice of you." He paused, trying to gather his thoughts. "I'm sorry." He didn't really know what he was apologizing to B'Elanna for; as far as he could remember, he hadn't done anything particularly heinous to her recently other than acting like a big fat jerk. "I don't know what's come over me lately." He reached out hesitantly to touch her shoulder, his fingers running gently down the strap of her tank top. She didn't flinch. Instead, she leaned forward, pressed her hands to his face and kissed him lightly on the lips.
"I'm not surprised," she said softly. "Tom, could you use a friend?"
He gaped. That was the last offer he'd expected from B'Elanna; she'd done her best to avoid him. But then the facts had to speak for themselves; after all, she was sitting here in that skimpy tight tank top, tight jeans, and that ridiculous cowboy hat. She'd come after him. The last person on Voyager whom he might have expected; no, second to last, he corrected himself, Chakotay would probably bid him good riddance. Unexpectedly, his eyes begin to tear up.
B'Elanna shifted her position on the bed so that she was facing him. "Hey," she said, "I understand better than you think I do."
"It's been a long time coming," B'Elanna said. She pressed her thumb to the soft skin below his eye, gently rubbing away the single spot of moisture that had pooled there. "As you shed a lonesome tear."
He was embarrassed at having been caught. "B'Elanna..."
Her fingers moved to his lips, silencing him. "Now you're in a Wonderama. I wonder what you're doing here."
Tom laughed at that. "It's self-explanatory, isn't it? Cheapest place to get drunk and laid."
B'Elanna ignored him. She was exploring him now, her fingers drawing gentle paths down his skin. He couldn't move. Damn, he thought, what the hell is going on? He noted that her skin was flushed, that her eyes were large and brown, and that her fingers were cool, experienced. He inhaled sharply as B'Elanna started to unbutton his shirt.
"The flame no longer flickers," she went on. "You're feeling just like a fool. You keep staring into your liquor, wondering what to do." She raised her head to meet his gaze directly. His shirt was now completely unbuttoned. Tom knew that he should stop her now.
"What are you doing?" he whispered. Her hand was on his chest now, pushing him back against the bed. Damn, she was strong. "B'Elanna..." She was over him now, straddling his hips.
"I don't hardly know you," she whispered. Tom smiled. Now *that* was the understatement of the year. "But I'd be willing to show you." Her words were long and drawn out, the syllables smooth and rounded. "I know a way to make you smile." She kissed a trail -- light and feathery -- down his chest to the waistband of his jeans. He groaned as she unzipped his pants.
"B'Elanna," he said. "You don't have to."
She lifted her head to look at him, her eyes large and luminous. The tips of her hair tickled his skin as she moved deftly down the length of his body. "Let me touch you for a while," she said simply.
He felt completely powerless, unable to react. How many times had he found himself in a position like this pre-Voyager? He'd enjoyed that kind of life before and now, he wasn't quite sure. He could sense pity when he felt it burning into his skin; no matter how attractive the lady, pity sex was just that.
"This is crazy," he said. But he didn't protest when B'Elanna pulled his pants down; on the contrary, he wiggled a little to make it easier for her. She stared at him, her eyes slightly glazed over. For the first time, he noticed that she was wearing make-up. Her lips were colored a garish red, her cheeks brightly spotted, and her eyes were lined. And he noticed too the dampness on her lashes. Tom reached up, mimicking B'Elanna's earlier gesture, carefully running his finger beneath her eye.
B'Elanna laughed, a little sadly. "I'm gonna ruin my black mascara," she said softly as she covered his hand with her own.
"I didn't think you were the type who cared about that kind of thing," he told her. B'Elanna leaned down to kiss him, laying flat on top of him. He ran his hand down her back, loving the comfort of a woman's body against him. Without thinking, he slipped a hand beneath her tank top to feel the smooth skin of her back. "But then again, not many people care about me and here you are, showing me that maybe you’re different from the rest." He continued to run his hands along B'Elanna's skin, enjoying the feel of her. He realized then that he could stay here forever like this. "Something about me made you notice. What was it?"
"You're drinking whiskey when it should be wine," she said softly. She sat up, still straddling his hips, and in a smooth, fluid gesture, removed her tank top. Tom reached out tentatively to trace the outline of her breast. She leaned forward, giving him access. He inhaled sharply, his eyes blurring, as B'Elanna kissed him. He'd never noticed her before, not when there were the Delaney twins to chase, Kes to lust after, and a countless number of alien women; the idea of *B'Elanna* had never crossed his mind. Now, he knew that it would be a long, long time before he would be able to forget the curve of B'Elanna's hip, her flat stomach, the little hollow at the base of her neck. She was beautiful in an unconventional way and as he turned his head slightly, he caught sight of himself in the mirror on the opposite wall.
"God," he said. "I don’t even know how you can stand to look at me or even touch me." He’d never been a particularly vain man, but Tom Paris was embarrassed by his appearance now. He saw that his face had turned a florid shade of red, the way it always did when he'd been drinking too much. He knew he'd put on weight in the last few months. He knew he was starting to lose muscle tone, that his hairline had begun to recede. Tom Paris had always believed in playing hard; he just never realized the physical effects of that lifestyle would show so early. He turned his head to the side, unable to look at B'Elanna. Carefully, she placed her hand against his cheek, pressing her lips against his.
"You keep looking into that mirror," she whispered, "but to me, you're looking really fine."
He caught her hand in his. "I don't want your pity." But then he looked at her, almost begging her. "Why--"
"I don't hardly know you, but I'd be willing to show you," B'Elanna said. She posed -- almost comically -- with her hands on her hips, sticking her chin out. Beneath the brim of her cowboy hat, she flashed him a provocative smile. He couldn't help but smile; she looked fun, sexy, and God, he wanted her so much. "I know a way to make you laugh at that cowgirl as she's walking out your door." With an expansive gesture, she discarded the hat and leaned forward to kiss him. "I know a way to make you smile."
"I bet you do," Tom said. He couldn't think clearly anymore, a reaction to the combination of B'Elanna Torres and alcohol. He rolled her over on to her back, pinning her arms above her head. He moved reflexively then, his lips everywhere -- jaw, shoulder, ears, eyelids, down the soft skin of her belly, outlining the gentle swell of her breasts. She tasted good to him, and she didn't stop him as he moved his way down to unfasten the snaps of her jeans. "B'Elanna, if you don't want to do this, just say the word..." He lifted his head to look at her. He *could* be a gentleman about this as much as he didn't want to. He hated to admit he was relieved when B'Elanna shook her head.
"Just let me whisper things you've never heard before," she said softly. Tom laughed at that; there probably wasn't much he hadn't heard before, hadn't tried before. He was an expert at exactly two things: flying and sex. But then again, he'd never had sex with a Klingon before and maybe B'Elanna was right; maybe there *was* something he hadn't heard before and the mere idea of that excited him even more as he pressed his lips to the inside of her thigh. Her hands played gently in his hair as he lifted his head to kiss her on the mouth again. Her breath was warm against his skin. She pulled him down next to him. "Just let me touch you, baby. Just let me touch you for a while."
"That's the best offer I've had in days," he whispered.
B'Elanna looked at him for a moment. For the first time, he noticed the sadness in her eyes. And he realized, this was the first time he was looking at B'Elanna Torres as a woman -- an attractive, desirable woman. She wasn't just an angry Klingon, not just a headstrong engineer. Sure, he knew she could break his nose, but damn, right now, she could break every bone in his body and he simply wouldn't care. She reached for him now and he settled on top of her, relishing the feel of her hands running down his back.
"It's been a long time," she said softly. "Let me touch you for a while."
And then there was no more talking.
"So you've come back after all." Chakotay eyed Tom with an expression of surprise mixed with wariness and maybe even a little bit of resignation. "I didn't think you were planning to."
Tom lay back on the biobed. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the Doctor hovering nearby and just beyond Chakotay stood B'Elanna.
"How are you feeling?" B'Elanna asked softly. She came around Chakotay so that Tom could see her clearly. She was no longer wearing the jeans and tank top from earlier, but rather was wearing her uniform; he had to admit, he wouldn't mind seeing B'Elanna Torres in nothing but those boots and cowboy hat again. "You passed out pretty hard in the bar."
"Passed out?" Tom asked. He tried to raise himself on one arm, but the pounding in his head made him change his mind.
"You've been in detox for the last few hours." B'Elanna touched his forehead lightly; her hand was cool and comforting against his skin. "You had me worried, Paris."
"Thank you," Tom said, not knowing what else to say.
"When you're fully recovered, we have a few things to discuss," Chakotay said. "Report to my office when the Doctor releases you."
Chakotay left, but B'Elanna was still there, now stroking his brow line. It was a gentle, soothing movement and he was very grateful for her comforting touch. Tom reached for her palm, pressing it to her lips. B'Elanna flushed. "I'm glad you're here, B'Elanna," Tom said. He kept a light grip on her wrist.
"*Lieutenant*," B'Elanna said sharply. She pulled her hand away and took a step back, nearly crashing into a medical cart in her haste. "I should be going. Engineering," she said, pointing towards the door, "um, I told Joe he could, um, go on leave when I got back so I should, um, go. I hope you feel better, Lieutenant." With that, B'Elanna fled from Sickbay. Tom looked after B'Elanna's retreating figure in confusion. What the hell was going on? He ran a hand over his eyes, hoping against hope this headache of his would go away so that he could think clearly and perhaps, figure out what exactly it was he had done to make B'Elanna run away from him.
"I hope you're proud of yourself, Mr. Paris," the Doctor said conversationally as he approached Tom's bedside. "Getting drunk, passing out, making unsolicited advances at colleagues -- "
"I'm aware of what just happened and I assure you, there's a logical explanation for my actions," Tom said impatiently. He glanced at the Sickbay doors. He needed to talk to B'Elanna and the sooner the better. "When can I get out of here?"
"In a couple more hours," the Doctor said. "You know, you're lucky Lieutenant Torres chose to go after you. Who knows what had happened if she hadn't found you in that bar and brought you back here right after you passed out?"
Tom stared at the Doctor in disbelief. "B'Elanna brought me here immediately? We didn't stay down on the planet? We had a hotel room." The last bit slipped out unwittingly and Tom stifled a groan.
The Doctor looked at him uncomprehendingly and maybe even with a tinge of scorn.
"No, Mr. Paris," the Doctor said snidely. He pressed a hypospray against Tom's neck. "You've been here on Voyager for the last few hours. You did not indulge with Lieutenant Torres or anyone else, for that matter, in a hotel room." The Doctor sighed and Tom wondered if he was going to receive the lecture about having sexual relations with alien species. But, luckily, he was spared. "Given the condition you were in when Lieutenant Torres first brought you in, I doubt you would have been able to perform in the first place." Tom shook his head. This was unbelievably embarrassing. The Doctor went on, "Lieutenant Torres stayed by your side here in Sickbay. You gave us quite a scare, Mr. Paris. Not only were you highly intoxicated, you also experienced an adverse reaction to the alcohol you consumed down on the planet. Lieutenant Torres was concerned enough about your condition that she felt it necessary to remain here instead of spending some time at the beach resort. That was pretty generous of her, I have to say. I'm not sure there are many on board who'd do that for you."
"No, you're right," Tom said dully. He sat up, rubbing the heel of his hand against his forehead. This was unbelievable. He could still *feel* the sheets of the bed in that small hotel room against his skin, could vividly imagine the way B'Elanna had moved beneath him, the way she had smelled and tasted. The sensations he had experienced had been incredibly real; how could it be that they never happened at all? Of course, he thought wryly, it made perfect sense. The idea that B'Elanna Torres would even be interested in him enough to sleep with him was perfectly fantastic; in fact, until he'd seen her approach him the bar, he'd never even thought of her as anything more than a colleague and certainly not as a romantic interest. He shook his head. He certainly had a lot to think about once he was sober. He had no doubt that Chakotay was about to throw him into the brig for a day or two for his insubordination; he'd have plenty of peace and quiet *then* to figure out what exactly had happened and what it all meant. "Can I recover in my quarters? I think I'll be more comfortable there."
The Doctor sighed. "It's against my better judgment, but I have the feeling you've been hung-over many times in the past, so yes, you may. Call me if you require further treatment."
Once in his quarters, Tom sank thankfully into the sofa. He was still wearing the flowered shirt and jeans from earlier and the clothes stank of beer, smoke, and other scents he just couldn't place. It was only as he began to undress, he realized that his shirt was misbuttoned. With a slow smile of realization spreading across his face, Tom turned on the sonic shower.
~ the end
Author's Note #2: The challenge? Incorporate a song into a fic. The lyrics of the song have to be spoken as actual dialogue by one of the characters. The other characters can say whatever, but one person must speak *all* lyrics of the song as his/her primary dialogue. The song incorporated into this fic is "Let Me Touch You For A While" by Alison Krauss and the Union Station
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