Title: It's Been Awhile
Author: Polly Bywater
Rating: NC-17 for language, suicidal imagery, violence, mildly non-
con m/m sex, consensual m/m sex, angst, depression, you name it.
Disclaimer: All things Trek belong to Paramount. I make no money
off this. The song "It's Been Awhile" is from the album "Break the
Cycle" copyrighted 2001 by Staind. I make no money off that either.
Summary: Tom considers suicide after the events of 'Investigations'.
Archive: Cha_Club, ok to TPDorm, too
Personal Note: Yeah, it's a song story... at least, it started off
that way. It's been on my mind for weeks now, and I had to write it,
this song is just so *Tom*. If you haven't heard "It's Been Awhile"
I encourage you to buy the album. The radio version cuts out all
the 'Tom-speak'. I hesitated to post this story; for one, because I
was in a rather grim mood when I started to write it. Also, I know I
have read similar scenarios by other authors, BUT [see shit-eating
grin here] this is my take on this situation and I'm stuck in my
sequel to 'The Lodge'. Un-beta'ed work, all errors mine alone, and
if I inadvertently plagiarized somebody, please try to take it as a
compliment. Pretty please. With chocolate covered cherries on top.
Or whipped cream, if you'd prefer.
It's Been Awhile 1-11-02
Tom let himself into Holodeck One and set a privacy lock, waiting for
the computer to confirm it was in place before he activated
Sandrines. He hadn't been in here in quite some time, and it was
reassuring to see the familiar features of the Marseilles bar take
form around him. It was late, well after midnight. He'd
deliberately chosen the time in order to avoid people, and he didn't
need the generated company the holosim included, either.
"Computer. Delete all holographic characters besides Sandrine. Run
subroutine Paris Alpha Delta Two."
When the room was cleared to his satisfaction, he walked over to the
bar and was greeted by the doppelganger of its owner.
"'Allo, Tomas. It's been awhile."
"Oui, cherie. Un temps tres long. Single malt scotch, straight up.
L'article veritable, s'il vous plait." Tom slid easily into speaking
French, having learned it as a young child from his mother.
"Tres bien, mon ami. As you wish," she said disapprovingly, and
vanished behind the bar for a moment, returning to pour him a healthy
measure of pale amber liquor. Tom took it like medicine, belting it
back in a manner guaranteed to make Sandrine glare at him even
harder. It was not the way to treat 'the genuine article'; a
replicated fine old scotch, not synthehol. Tom figured he'd try to
appreciate the next one more.
"Un second," he ordered, feeling the burn of the alcohol work its way
past his gut and into his bloodstream with satisfying speed.
Sandrine sighed, but refilled his glass anyway.
"Votre coeur est triste, Tomas. Pourquoi?"
"Why is my heart sad? A thousand reasons, cherie," Tom admitted,
staring into his glass before sipping its contents, more slowly this
time. "But they all boil down to one. Amour."
"Ah. Je vois. So you come here, to forget?"
"I wish that was possible, Sandrine. Laissez la bouteille avec moi,
s'il vous plait."
She shook her head, but handed him the bottle. Tom took it with his
glass over to the upright piano in the corner that had appeared when
he'd specified the subroutine. He seated himself on the old bench
and set the glass aside, knocking back another too-large gulp
straight from the fifth. It was easier that way.
In truth, he *did* wish it was possible to forget. Forget the time
he'd spent with Chakotay during his short tenure with the Maquis.
Forget the way that brown skin felt warm under his hands, forget the
taste of those lush lips under his mouth. Forget the joy in
Chakotay's possession, the mind-altering passion as the big man drove
into his body, the quiet times after sex when they'd cuddled together
and talked. If Tom could only manage to forget that much, what was
happening now wouldn't hurt.
It had been several months- "Three months, four days, and an odd
number of hours," Tom's mind insisted on supplying -since Janeway's
scheme to flush out the traitor on Voyager had driven an even deeper
wedge between Tom and Chakotay. Tom had finally accepted that
Chakotay would never forgive him for what his former lover perceived
as another betrayal. Initially, Tom had been as angry as Chakotay.
Angry on so many levels, and insulated by that anger from the soul
deep pain he was feeling now. Why couldn't Chakotay understand the
reasons why he'd done what he'd done? Duty, orders, the captain's
trust. Why had Chakotay been so quick to believe the worst of Tom,
anyway? Believe in the masquerade? Why, his heart had howled since
his anger faded, did Chakotay blame him for everything?
Tom had tried again a few weeks ago to apologize to Chakotay, to
explain. He knew he hadn't sounded sincere when he'd made
his 'public' regrets on Neelix's show. Shit, he'd been so nervous,
he couldn't prevent his typical smart-ass reaction. So he'd waited
for some of the dust to settle, and gone to Chakotay privately, in
his office. He'd tried to tell the big man how sorry he was, how
hard it had been to act the traitor, how much he cared.
Chakotay had practically laughed in his face.
"You don't give a damn about anybody or anything except Tom Paris.
You never cared about me. You're incapable of caring." And that had
been the kindest thing he'd said. Chakotay had listed Tom's numerous
sins, both admitted and imagined. Caldik Prime? Tom was a known
liar. New Zealand? Tom had deliberately set up the Maquis with him
to be captured. That he'd ended up in prison himself was purely
incidental. Voyager? Tom had whored himself to Janeway to get out
of prison, just like he whored himself in Marseilles. Leading the
Starfleet vessel through the Badlands? Proof once again he had no
loyalty to Chakotay, or the Maquis. Hard for him to act the
traitor? Tom Paris didn't have to act. He *was* a traitor, always
had been, always would be. A coward, a mercenary, who constantly
looked out for number one. "An opportunistic piece of scum," had
been the final taunt, if Tom remembered correctly, and unfortunately,
he remembered everything.
Tom had just stood there, silent, taking it all. All of Chakotay's
verbal abuse, all the anger, all the hatred... while some part of his
soul had shriveled up and died. He'd gone back to his quarters and
passed the transporter room, and he didn't know how long he'd stood
in there at the console, mentally calculating the coordinates for
spacing himself into billions of free-floating atoms, before some
tiny shred of sanity had resurrected itself and driven him away.
Since that time, Chakotay had said nothing to him beyond what duty
required. Tom was slowly losing his mind. He passed by that damned
transporter room every day, after all, and thinking of a reason to
live was becoming impossible. It had come to him today at Voyager's
helm that what he needed was some liquid help to forget, and just
maybe, some liquid courage would push him onto that transporter
He took another drink, then set the bottle aside, starting to feel
the alcohol working strongly through his system and hazing the
fringes of his reality. He wanted to play the piano one last time.
He'd been very conscious of feeling like he was at the conn today for
the last time. By the end of his bridge shift, he'd decided to end
his life. He couldn't face another day of sitting there, with
Chakotay behind him, watching him with hate in those beautiful dark
eyes. Tom figured he was dying anyway. He couldn't eat. He
couldn't sleep. Pretty soon he'd be unable to fly, and what use was
he otherwise? No need to drag it out any longer, really.
He'd gotten off shift and recorded goodbye messages for Captain
Janeway and Harry. Just in case he got the nerve to go through with
his plan. He knew they would probably feel bad about his death, so
he wanted to make it clear he didn't blame them. He definitely
didn't want them to blame themselves, and he'd told them so.
Especially Harry. Shit, Janeway knew what a chronic fuckup he was,
it shouldn't come as that much of a shock.
For Chakotay, he left nothing. There was nothing else to say. The
man already believed him to be a coward, a liar, and a traitor. Tom
wished Chakotay would be sorry, at least a little, but he doubted
that he would. In fact, judging from what Chakotay had said to him,
he'd probably be glad to never have to lay eyes on Tom again.
Tom let his fingers play over the keyboard, remembering how it had
been at the real Sandrines, taking requests from the other patrons.
That is, when he'd been between other jobs. The asked-for music had
ranged from classical to jazz to good old rock and roll. He'd
learned hundreds of songs. Drinking and music kept him alive after
Caldik Prime, well, that and sex. He hadn't precisely whored
himself, although he had certainly slept around, and if his partners
fed him a meal or bought him liquor, well, that wasn't exactly
whoring, was it? Music though... music had helped him feel he had
other talents to offer besides his mouth and his ass, or his pilot's
hand-eye coordination. Too bad he hadn't had the guts to end it all
then. It would have saved him a lot of heartache. Just think where
Chakotay might have been if he hadn't walked into Sandrines looking
for a fucking pilot. Lucky Tom. Lucky Chakotay. Shit. Life was a
joke, wasn't it?
For a moment, he couldn't decide what to play, then Sandrine's
greeting came back to him. Yeah, that was perfect. He played the
opening in F-major, slow and bluesy, his foot tapping out two/four
time as the lyrics came back to him, and started singing. This was
*his* song, all right. Always had been.
"'And it's been awhile since I could hold my head up high
And it's been awhile since I first saw you
And it's been awhile since I could stand on my own two feet again
And it's been awhile since I could call you
And everything I can't remember
As fucked up as it all may seem
The consequences that I've rendered
I've stretched myself beyond my means
And it's been awhile since I could say that I wasn't addicted
And it's been awhile since I could say I loved myself as well and
And it's been awhile since I've gone and fucked things up
just like I always do
And it's been awhile but all that shit seems to disappear
when I'm with you
And everything I can't remember
As fucked up as it all may seem
And consequences that I've rendered
I've gone and fucked things up again
He came to the bridge, letting the liquor roughen his voice as he
sang the part of this song that echoed his thoughts so closely,
pounding out the notes hard on the keyboard.
"'Why must I feel this way?
Just make this go away
Just one more peaceful day
And it's been awhile since I could look at myself straight
And it's been awhile since I said "I'm sorry"
And it's been awhile since I've seen the way the candles
light your face
And it's been awhile but I can still remember
Just the way you taste
And everything I can't remember
As fucked up as it all may seem to be
I know it's me
I cannot blame this on my father
He did the best he could for me
And it's been awhile since I could hold my head up high
And it's been awhile since I said "I'm sorry'"
Tom let the notes trail away and put his head in his hands.
"Yeah, I'm so fucking sorry, and it doesn't make any difference.
Being sorry doesn't change anything. People never really forgive,
anyway. They might say they do, they might tell you your past
doesn't matter, but in the end, they're just waiting for you to fuck
up again so they can dump your ass back in the gutter."
"Tomas, what are you going to do?" Sandrine asked him gently, her
hand on his shoulder. It only made his heart hurt worse, knowing she
wasn't real, that she was as big a fake as he was. Before he left
for the transporter room, Tom thought he might delete her program
permanently. No sense in leaving it. If he could, he'd go through
this ship and remove everything that might ever remind somebody that
he'd been here. It was what he wanted. To have never existed at all.
"Je vais m'assurer que j'oublie. Je vais mettre un terme a cette
douleur, Sandrine." I am going to make sure I forget. I am going to
put an end to this pain.
"Tomas, mon pauvre garcon, then you need this," Sandrine cooed
soothingly, handing him the bottle. Tom debated for a moment, then
decided why the hell not, and had another drink. He *was* a poor
boy, wasn't he? Just pitiful, in fact. The holocharacter stood
there for a moment, then said, "Play another song, mon ange triste."
"Sad angel, huh," Tom laughed derisively at that. He was nobody's
angel, not any more, although there had been a time when Chakotay—
Shit. "I loved him, Sandrine." Past tense. Soon it would all be
"Le grand homme?"
"Mais oui, le grand homme. Il me deteste maintenant." But yes, the
big man. He hates me now. Tom inspected the bottle of scotch, a
little surprised to find it was half empty, and wondered how much
more he could drink before he would be unable to operate the
transporter controls. It was a hard thing, getting to the point
where he'd be appropriately anesthetized yet not incapable. As
seriously drunk as he felt now, he thought he was probably close to
"How could anyone hate you, Tomas."
"C'est vrai, l'homme est un imbecile." It is true, the man is a
fool. Tom shrugged, that very Gallic gesture that conveyed his
genuine confusion, because somehow, believing that did not seem to
"Merci, Sandrine. Adieu." Tom started to get up, but Sandrine
"S'il vous plait, Tomas. Une plus de chanson."
"No more songs, Sandrine. No more music in me." Tom thought about
that for a minute, took one last big gulp of scotch, and handed her
the bottle before he staggered to his feet. "It's been real," he
threw out as a parting shot, which struck him as a funny thing to say
to a holocharacter. He laughed, but there were tears running down
his face when he called for the arch.
"Computer. Delete holoprogram Sandrines. Delete all holoprograms
tied to this user account. Authorization Paris Omega Zed Zed Seven."
"Please confirm holoprogram deletion." Even the computer sounded
surprised, Tom thought.
"Confirm. Delete all holoprograms tied to this user account." Tom
gave his authorization code again, and watched Sandrines vanish into
the yellow and black grid pattern of the holodeck. "Well, that ought
to free up a bunch of memory in the old computer core, shouldn't it,
Tom patted the bulkhead and wavered out into the corridor. Now all
he had to do was remember where that damned transporter room was.
- - - - - - - - - -
Chakotay awakened in a cold sweat, still caught in the grip of a
nightmare that made him moan with nausea. The details of the dream
were all too fresh in his mind. He was in his office, cutting little
pieces out of Tom Paris's skin with a knife, watching the bits of
flesh fall to the floor and float in a pool of blood he could swear
he still smelled... and Tom didn't move, didn't speak. He just stood
there looking at him with a resigned statement on his face that said
he deserved everything Chakotay was doing to him. The dream had
obvious parallels to that scene in his office a few weeks ago,
Chakotay realized, but he cringed at having to admit to himself that
was exactly what he'd done to Tom with words. Cut him to shreds, and
watched him bleed to death right before his eyes.
Remorse slammed into him like a hammer blow, and Chakotay swung his
legs out of the bed to sit on the edge with his head in his hands.
Spirits, he hadn't even meant most of the shit he'd said, he was just
so hurt and angry. He didn't know how to make it right. He did know
he'd have to try, though. He'd been watching Tom these last weeks,
and the younger man was plainly suffering. Tom had looked like a
wraith at the conn today, so pale, losing more weight by the day, and
judging from the dark circles under his eyes, he wasn't sleeping. No
more than Chakotay was. This wasn't his first nightmare, but it was
by far the worst.
He thought about trying to go back to sleep, but some voice in his
head was urging him to find Tom *now*. He argued with himself for a
moment, but the anxiety fueled by his dream had a strong grip.
Chakotay got up and threw on a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt, then
grabbed up his comm badge.
"Computer. Location of Lieutenant Paris."
"Lieutenant Thomas Paris is in his assigned quarters."
"Is he alone?" Chakotay barely heard the computer's affirmative.
Some dark and dreadful suspicion had taken over his thoughts, and
Chakotay felt his heart leap to his throat in sudden terror.
Something was wrong, badly wrong.
"Computer, confirm. Scan for life signs. Is Lieutenant Paris in his
"Negative. There are no life sign readings."
"Site to site transport me to Lieutenant Paris's quarters. Energize."
Chakotay materialized in Tom's cabin to find his comm badge sitting
on his desk with his uniform rank pips, on top of a couple of data
padds. He picked one up just long enough to read the first few lines.
'Dear Harry. By the time you read this I'll be gone. I want you to
know you were the best friend I ever had—'
"No! Oh, no!" Chakotay rushed into Tom's bedroom and found it
empty, as was the bathroom. His hand went to his comm
badge. "Chakotay to Ayala." It was after midnight. Ayala would be
the Gamma shift Ops officer.
"Ayala here. What can I do for you, Captain?" His long time friend
sounded much calmer than Chakotay felt, and Chakotay realized Ayala
must be the senior bridge officer on duty to address him as captain.
He hadn't been Ayala's captain for a nearly two years, now.
"I want you to shut down all the transporter room consoles but
maintain site to site transporters. Do it now. I'll comm you when
they can go back online. Keep this between us, Greg."
"It's done, Captain."
Chakotay terminated that transmission and tried to think. Damn it,
where would Tom go? Sandrines?
"Computer. Site to site transport me to holodeck one. Energize"
He materialized outside the holodeck arch and checked the program
log. A spasm of pure fear struck him when he determined that
Sandrines no longer existed as a program in Voyager's data bank.
None of Tom's programs did. He looked inside just to be sure, but
the holodeck was empty.
"Computer. Is anyone trying to access the transporter controls?" It
was a fact that spacing yourself was the easiest way to commit
suicide in the 24th century.
"Affirmative. A bypass of the transporter room console lockout is
occurring in transporter room two."
"Shit! Transport me there now! Energize!" Boy, he was going to
have some kind of trouble justifying all this transporter use to
Kathryn and Tuvok, provided he could keep Tom out of his report,
Chakotay reflected briefly before he was beamed into the transporter
room to materialize behind a swaying Tom Paris. Apparently drunk,
and thank the Spirits, because if he'd been sober he would have
already completed the lockout bypass. Chakotay's adrenaline rush had
him yanking Tom off the controls and shoving him towards the door.
"What in the hell do you think you're doing, Paris?" He shouted as
Tom ended up sprawled on the floor, not close enough to activate the
door sensor. Tom looked at him, and the unshielded pain in those
blue eyes cut Chakotay to the core.
"Shit, Commander, what do you care? You should be thanking me. Hey,
I'll even let you operate the controls, you can space me yourself. I
know you want to."
"That's not true—"
"The hell it ain't. You made yourself perfectly clear, Commander."
Tom managed to get to his feet, but didn't waste his time trying to
get to the transporter console, not with Chakotay between him and
it. He'd have trouble taking Chakotay on a good day and stone cold
sober. This sure didn't qualify, although he could feel the scotch
wearing off all too fast. It didn't matter. There were other ways
to commit suicide that were just as painless, although spacing
himself did have the virtue of being quite tidy. It's not like Tom
needed Chakotay's permission. Fuck that.
He turned around and started for the door.
"Stop right there, Paris."
"Or what, *Commander*? You'll kill me? That's kind of the point, ya
"Or I'll notify Captain Janeway I just caught her senior pilot trying
to space himself. How long do you think she'll keep you in Sickbay,
"That's fine with me. There are plenty of drugs in Sickbay, and the
doc can't stay on 24/7. You're going to tell her anyway, and I don't
care. I'm done with this shit, Chakotay. I want out."
Chakotay didn't know if Tom was talking about the current
conversation and its locale, or talking about his life. He decided
it made no difference.
"Well guess what, Poocah. You're not done until *I* say you're
done," he growled, grabbing Tom by both arms and practically frog-
marching him out of the transporter room, his nose wrinkling at the
smell of booze.
"Don't call me that, you son of a bitch!" Tom hissed and tried to
kick Chakotay's shins. Although he'd sobered up considerably since
landing on the floor earlier, he still wasn't too coordinated, and
Chakotay managed to dodge his feet without too much difficulty.
"You used to like it when I called you that," he noted mildly,
cramming Tom into a turbolift and ordering it to Deck Three.
"Yeah, well, I used to like whoring myself in Marseilles, too, but I
guess it got old," Tom snapped back, his tone so bitterly sarcastic
Chakotay felt his throat tighten in sympathy. The turbolift opened
up onto Chakotay's deck, and he shoved Tom ahead of him into his
quarters then ordered the computer to soundproof the room and lock
out any exit, entry, or communications with the computer except by
him. He still didn't turn Tom loose, though, dragging him over to
the replicator and requesting a set of security manacles.
"Shit! What the *hell* do you think *you're* doing, Chakotay?" Tom
yelled, doing his damnedest to get out of Chakotay's grasp, but that
wasn't happening. Chakotay shoved Tom face down on the table and
yanked his hands behind his back, snapping the cuffs on him with a
strength born of desperation before he pushed Tom into his bedroom
and onto the bed.
"Just stay there for a fucking minute and shut up!" Chakotay ordered
grimly, and leaned back against the wall to catch his breath. Fuck,
he was shaking. That had been so close, *too* close. If he hadn't
had that nightmare. If he had just turned over and gone back to
sleep. If he hadn't gotten Greg Ayala to lock out the transporter
controls in time. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Too close to losing Tom
forever, and the shock of that realization was running through his
veins like ice water and rearranging all Chakotay's priorities.
The first thing he had to do was keep Tom from killing himself. In
the short term, that would be easy. Chakotay would chain him to the
bed and sit on him, if he had to. Sweet hell, what a visual, Tom
Paris chained to his bed. Chakotay shook his head and tried to shove
that image out. The hard part would be convincing Tom he wanted to
"I don't know what you hope to gain from this, Commander," Tom said,
as if he'd read Chakotay's thoughts. "I've made up my mind. You may
be able to stop me tonight, but there's always tomorrow."
"Pretty stupid thing to say from somebody bent on killing himself,"
Chakotay said sharply, and Tom turned his face away to stare out the
viewport. Chakotay rubbed his hand over his head, suddenly very
tired. He walked into the outer room, keeping one eye on Tom through
the open door, and hit his comm badge.
"Chakotay to Ayala."
"You can put the transporter room consoles back on line now, Greg,
and thank you."
Chakotay could almost hear Ayala's eyebrows lifting, but the only
thing he said was a brief acknowledgement. Good man, Ayala. There
was another comm he needed to make, but not without getting something
settled with Tom first. He walked back into the bedroom, got
something out of his dresser, and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Tom didn't bother to look at him.
"I want you to give me a chance to change your mind. I want you to
give me your word you won't try this again."
"Fuck you, Chakotay. I'm not giving you shit... and besides that, my
word's no good, remember?" That searing bitterness again. It made
Chakotay's heart ache. *He'd* done this, and he knew it. He had to
fix it, and not just because he felt guilty, either. He needed Tom
to be happy, and healthy. Hell, he just *needed* Tom, and he hadn't
even realized it. Chakotay definitely realized it now.
"*You* just remember this was your choice, Poocah," Chakotay said a
bit sadly, and when Tom turned his head around to blast him for the
use of that old nickname, Chakotay shoved a rolled up sock well back
in his mouth. Tom's eyes got big as saucers, and judging from the
muffled sounds he was making he was busily calling Chakotay
everything but a white man, but Chakotay didn't care.
"Hey, it's a clean sock. Consider yourself lucky," he told Tom with
a faint grin, and reckoned he could see Tom's blood pressure shoot up
accordingly. He took the bedsheet and tied it around Tom's legs,
making sure the younger man wasn't going to go anywhere for a few
"I'm going to go comm Kathryn, and tell her you and I are on vacation
for a few days. We *will* work on your suicidal tendencies,
Lieutenant... although that's not what I'm going to tell her.
Captains don't like suicidal pilots, you know, and you're going to
want to go back to the conn eventually."
Tom gave up trying to speak and just shook his head, his eyes looking
daggers into Chakotay, who merely shrugged.
"Believe it, Poocah," he promised, and went back into the other
room. As before, he took a position that put Tom in his line of
sight. No reason to get overconfident.
"Chakotay to Janeway." It took a moment for the captain to respond.
"Janeway here," and after a beat, "Christ, Chakotay, do you know what
time it is? What's wrong?"
"I know it's late. I'm sorry, Kathryn. I need a favor, and it's
"Yes, I assumed that much. What is it, Commander?"
"I'm placing Lieutenant Paris and myself on administrative leave for
a few days, beginning immediately. The situation between us has come
to a head, and we need some time to resolve things. Together."
A long silence, then. Chakotay could almost hear the captain
"I've noticed how strained Tom has been, Chakotay. I guess it was a
matter of time." A faint question there.
"You could say that," he replied evenly, thinking to himself how very
nearly out of time he'd been, he *and* Tom. "I need you to make it
clear to the senior staff that we are not to be disturbed."
"Chakotay. Do you know what you're doing?" A little more doubt
slipped out with that question. Chakotay could tell Tom was
listening hard by the way that blonde head was tilted.
"I promise I won't hurt him, Kathryn." Any more than I already have,
at least. "Please trust me to handle this."
"Of course. Is there anything I can do to help?"
Chakotay smirked, a genuine Paris-style smirk at that, and it was
fortunate for the captain's peace of mind that she couldn't see it.
"Not right now, Kathryn, thank you. I'll let you know if there is,"
Chakotay said, keeping his tone level with some difficulty. He ended
the conversation and watched Tom throw his head back on the pillow to
stare up at the ceiling. Chakotay went to the replicator then, and
requested a set of four-point restraints. Medical quality, with
padded cuffs and long canvas ties for securing a patient's wrists and
ankles to the bed frame. Chakotay became aware he once again had
Tom's undivided attention, those blue eyes wide.
"Well, Lieutenant, since you asked so nicely, I'm going to tie you to
the bed while I go down to your quarters and retrieve a few things.
We don't want poor Harry to find your suicide note in the morning, do
we? By the way, you might be interested to learn that Kathryn knows
we were lovers in the Maquis." Carefully avoiding Tom's teeth,
Chakotay plucked the gag out of his mouth then fastened his feet
together at the foot of the bed.
Tom licked his dry lips.
"You're fucking nuts, Chakotay," he said when he could speak,
helpless to prevent the commander from forcibly restraining his
hands, one at a time, to the upper corners of the bed. Chakotay made
certain the restraints were tight enough so that Tom couldn't get his
hands together, or get them close to his mouth, although they were
loose enough for him to tilt himself over on his side if necessary.
No way was Chakotay going to tie flat a man who'd been drinking the
apparent quantities Tom had.
"I won't argue sanity with *you*, Tom. Now, do you want a drink of
water before I go? I won't be gone long."
Tom shook his head, and Chakotay, figuring he might as well add some
more to the list, asked the computer for a site to site transport to
- - - - - - - - -
"Shit." Tom looked up at the ceiling. The bed felt like it was
spinning, and he dearly hoped he wasn't going to be sick. On the
other hand, it would serve Chakotay right to have to clean it up,
since he'd left Tom like this. It occurred to Tom that he could
probably kill himself quite effectively by puking while flat on his
back, but he didn't think he could bring himself to do it that way.
Give it a few days, though, and that option might look more
attractive. Chakotay was fucking unbelievable, wasn't he? Tom was
under no illusions that the big man actually cared about him. He
knew the lengths to which Chakotay would let guilt motivate him, and
he was quite sure Chakotay had decided that he would spare himself
any possible guilt where Tom was concerned. If that meant 'saving
his life' then that's what Chakotay would do. It would make them
even, right? Hell, he was probably already writing up his
commendation for it.
Well, that was a little unfair. All the commander had had to do was
call Janeway and report him, and Tom would be lying in Sickbay in
four point restraints instead of in Chakotay's bed. Of course, a few
hours tied down in Sickbay with the holodoc would practically
guarantee his eventual suicide.
Tom snorted, and was horrified to abruptly realize he didn't feel
quite so determined to kill himself. Oh, this was bad, this was
worse than bad. He couldn't tolerate having his hopes raised, not
when he knew how it would turn out. He'd end up alone again, because
Chakotay wasn't going to declare sudden undying love for him. He
wasn't going to want to keep Tom with him forever. Chakotay wasn't
in this because he cared, and Tom had to keep reminding himself of
that... but Chakotay was the single person in the universe with the
power to turn Tom's soul inside out, and he was willing to bet
Chakotay knew it, especially now. How was he going to defend
himself, not against Chakotay, but against his own foolish, yearning
He turned his head far enough to look out of the viewport, ignoring
the tears that trickled down his face while he watched the passing
stars and wondered why he couldn't have made it out there with them.
"Soon," he whispered, and let the scotch soothe him to sleep.
- - - - - - - - -
Chakotay had picked up Tom's comm badge, a couple of pairs of
sweatpants, T-shirts, and some toiletries before he got up enough
nerve to pick up those damning little data padds. He couldn't
prevent himself from reading the sad missives they contained. He
looked at the one to the captain first.
'Kathryn, I always wanted to call you that. A beautiful name for a
beautiful woman. I want to thank you for the opportunity you gave me
when you got me out of New Zealand. I loved flying Voyager. Please
don't take what I've done as a reflection on you or your leadership
skills. You've been a wonderful captain. I wish I had your
strength. I know you'll get Voyager home someday. Thank you for
Chakotay sighed heavily, and stuck that padd in a duffel bag with
Tom's clothes before he sat down to read Tom's letter to Harry, part
of which he'd already seen.
'Dear Harry. By the time you read this I'll be gone. I want you to
know you were the best friend I ever had. I know you're going to
say "if we were such good friends, how could you do this without
talking to me first" , and I know you tried your best to get me to
talk, but the truth is, I just can't. I can't talk about why this
has happened. I can't live with myself any more, Har. It hurts too
much. You know I've only been holding on by my fingernails for years
now, anyway. I want you to know that I didn't make this decision on
the spur of the moment, or because of anything you said or didn't
say, or did or didn't do. Shit, I hope that makes sense. I just
don't want you to blame yourself, because it isn't your fault. I
love you like a brother, Har. Please try not to hate me too much for
Chakotay set the padd in the duffel and buried his face in his hands,
his shoulders heaving as he tried to get a grip on his emotions. The
heartache he felt was so crushingly huge he almost couldn't breathe.
So much pain in those words, and what Tom didn't say was as
condemning as what he admitted. Not a word about Chakotay, or what
he'd done to Tom. Had Tom succeeded in ending his life, nobody but
Chakotay would have had a clue as to why.
Chakotay tried to imagine how it would have been, if he'd gotten up
in the morning and reported for the usual pre-shift briefing, only to
be informed that Tom had spaced himself in the night. How devastated
Harry, Kathryn, B'Elanna, and even Tuvok would have been. How they
would have grieved, how the whole crew would have sorrowed, Neelix
and Kes blaming themselves, too. How it would have been, dragging on
to the Alpha quadrant with that bright light gone, no Tom to make
those stupid jokes and steer them safely homeward... and how Chakotay
would have felt. An enormous chasm of loneliness opened up inside
him as his mind recognized what his heart had always known. He loved
Tom, loved his wit and his courage and his sweet spirit, even loved
his smart mouth and his careless, carefree attitude. Chakotay loved
him, had loved him for years, and this was what he'd done to him.
This was what Chakotay had let pride, self-deception, anger, and his
own hurt feelings bring about. He had to wonder how long he would
have lasted before duplicating Tom's action.
He let himself cry for a couple of minutes, trying without much
success to bleed off some of the anguish he felt, then thanked the
Spirits for giving him a chance to turn this around. He'd do
whatever it took to make sure Tom Paris didn't have a reason to ever
try this again, not just to save Tom's life, but to save his own.
He got up, washed his face, retrieved the duffel bag and asked the
computer to transport him back to his quarters. Tom was apparently
asleep, or passed out, but he was breathing easily. Chakotay froze
at seeing the evidence of tears on that pale face, but he pushed his
pain away and considered how he was going to handle this. One thing
was certain. Tom would not easily accept that Chakotay loved him,
and Chakotay understood why Tom would feel that way. However, he had
the advantage, because he did know that Tom loved *him*. Now that
the scales had fallen from his eyes, Chakotay could see that fact
quite clearly. It wasn't vanity or guilt that told him why Tom had
felt driven to suicide. Tom loved him, had built himself a tolerable
life at the fringes of Chakotay's world, and whether it was
subconscious or not, he'd kept hoping for Chakotay's acceptance.
When Chakotay had made it so harmfully apparent that wasn't going to
happen, Tom's life became hopeless. Chakotay closed his eyes against
a fresh surge of self-recrimination, then pushed that aside, as
well. It would have been healthier for Tom if Tom could have just
hated him, but he was grateful to his soul that it wasn't in Tom to
Well, he was entirely too tired to figure out what he was going to do
next. It was almost 0400, and Chakotay was exhausted. He got a
basin and a damp cloth and set it on the bedside table, figuring Tom
would be sick in the morning. He untied Tom's left hand and fastened
it to his own left wrist with the security manacles, then Chakotay
climbed into the bed next to him. Tom didn't move, so Chakotay
shoved him over onto his right side and cuddled up behind him,
putting both their left arms over Tom's chest, so he could feel him
breathing. Precious, wonderful breath. Tom Paris didn't know it
yet, but this was how they were going to sleep for the rest of their
lives... although Chakotay hoped the handcuffs wouldn't always be
necessary. By the end of these few days, Chakotay intended to
demonstrate to Tom that neither one of them could live without the
- - - - - - - - - -
Tom woke up slowly, gradually escaping from the mists of a lovely,
lovely dream, in which Chakotay was holding him and his world was
perfect... Reality crashed in about the same time his stomach
started to roll. He'd gotten drunk and tried to kill himself last
night. Shit, he *was* lying in Chakotay's arms, still tied to the
damned bed, and he was fixing to puke everywhere. Tom started
heaving, his mouth clamping shut as he tried to hold it back. He
felt Chakotay awaken with a start and then a basin was shoved under
"Go ahead, baby," and Tom couldn't help it, he emptied his guts even
while he was thinking "God damn it, don't call me *that*, either!"
Then a cool cloth was being wiped over his forehead and mouth, and
Tom flushed with humiliation.
"Please tell me I'm dead and this is hell," he mumbled, and felt
Chakotay laugh as much as heard him.
"Sorry, Poocah. It may feel like hell, but you're very much alive,
thank the Spirits." Chakotay didn't hang around to see how Tom was
going to react to that. He unfastened the security manacles then got
up and emptied out the rather malodorous basin into the toilet.
While he was in there he relieved his bladder and took a quick minute
to collect all the sharp objects in the bathroom. Tom was probably
going to kill *him* if he couldn't get in here pretty soon himself.
By the time he'd gotten back into the bedroom, Tom had freed his
other hand and was working on his feet.
"Want a shower?" Chakotay asked casually, and won himself a
disbelieving, suspicious glare.
"I want to go to my own quarters," Tom snapped.
"That's not happening. It's here or nowhere."
"Shit." Tom got his feet loose and swung his legs off the bed,
stretching his neck and shoulders. "Aren't you worried I'll drown
myself in the damned shower?" He asked sarcastically, and Chakotay,
much to his surprise, found that amusing.
"You can try, I guess. I think I can yank you out in time to
resuscitate you, though."
Tom shook his head and stood up, still swaying just a bit. He winced
and ducked a little, and Chakotay figured he had a whopping headache
to go along with everything else.
"Go shower, Tom. I'll get you something for your head, and some
coffee. You can keep yourself alive long enough for that, can't you?'
"Fuck you, Chakotay," Tom announced, not for the first time, and
stalked off towards the bathroom.
"Leave the bathroom door open," Chakotay ordered, and listened with a
grin as Tom went through a string of curses that would have given a
Klingon pause. Chakotay allowed himself to feel hopeful. As
depressed as Tom undoubtedly was, he couldn't prevent himself from
responding to Chakotay, and as long as Chakotay could reach him there
was a chance.
He waited until he heard the shower come on then went to the
replicator and got Tom a hypospray for his hangover. He removed
Tom's comm badge and the data padds from his bag and stuck the
hypospray and the bag in the bathroom, knowing the younger man would
want fresh clothes and his personal care items. He was proud of
himself for not standing there and ogling that slim pale body through
the translucent shower door. Tom stayed in the shower quite a while,
prompting Chakotay to check on him a couple of times. When the
shower finally shut off and Tom emerged from the bathroom, dressed
like Chakotay in T-shirt and sweats, Chakotay made sure he was
sitting at the table with toast and fresh coffee.
Tom practically collapsed into the other chair, reaching with shaky
hands for the coffee mug and sipping from it carefully. He drank
half the cup before he said anything.
"How'd you find out, anyway?"
"I think the Spirits were guiding me," Chakotay answered seriously,
knowing it was true. "I had a nightmare," and he described it to
Tom, watching what little color there was in Tom's face drain away as
he related the details of that dreadful dream. "When I woke up, I
was so scared I had to find you. The computer said there were no
life signs in your quarters, so I transported there. That's when I
found your suicide notes," he added to Tom's wince.
"I had Ayala put a lockout on the transporter room consoles, and when
the computer told me someone was attempting a bypass I figured it was
you." Chakotay decided to omit the whole issue of Sandrines, waiting
to see what Tom would say next.
Tom finished his coffee and picked at a piece of toast before he
"Five more minutes and I would have had it. The scotch slowed me
"Guess I'll have to do it sober next time," Tom remarked, and
Chakotay felt his own face go pale.
"There's not going to be a next time, Tom," he said roughly, reaching
across the table and grabbing Tom's hand in a painfully hard
grip. "I won't let there be."
Tom took a deep breath and tried to ignore that warm, strong hand on
his, forcing himself to put a smirk on his face. He was unaware it
did nothing to hide the sudden agony in his eyes.
"Whatever, Commander. You just tell yourself that. You can't keep
me here forever," he said mockingly, and if Chakotay had been a less
perceptive individual he might have gotten away with it.
"You could be wrong about that, too, Poocah," Chakotay said,
releasing Tom's hand to stroke his fingers across it, instead. Tom
pulled his hand away like it had been burned, pushing out of his
chair so fast it fell over.
Tom felt like he was suffocating. He had to get some distance. He
moved into the living area as far as he could get, his back to
"Don't fucking touch me," he warned, horrified to hear his voice
"Why not, Tom? You didn't object to me holding you last night, in
fact, you snuggled right into me."
"I was drunk! I didn't even know what was going on! Besides, you
said it yourself. I'm a whore. Any warm body would have done!" Tom
said viciously, his tone as cutting and hostile as he could make it.
"I didn't mean that," Chakotay said evenly, keeping his own voice
calm in a marked contrast to Tom's. "I said a lot of things I didn't
mean, because I was angry."
"You just said exactly what you've been thinking of me for years,
Chakotay. I know it, you know it. Don't try to deny it now because
you feel guilty," Tom's voice broke on the last word, and he threw
himself onto the sofa and huddled into the corner. "Please don't do
this to me. Please let me go," he closed his eyes and whispered,
unable to speak any louder because of the tears he was trying to
fight. Oh, God, it felt like his insides were ripping apart.
"I can't let you go, Tom. I never will again," Chakotay promised,
that shattered little whisper slicing scars into his soul. He
watched Tom react to his words as if he'd been struck, covering his
head with his hands and shuddering, and Chakotay couldn't stand it
any more. He rose soundlessly and retrieved those security manacles
and had them slapped on Tom before the younger man knew what hit
him. Tom jumped off the sofa and stared at his handcuffed hands in
"What the fuck—"
"You and I are going back to bed, Poocah, and I'm going to prove to
you that you can't leave me," Chakotay said grimly, grabbing Tom by
the shoulders and propelling him towards the bedroom.
"The hell we are!" Tom tried to twist out of his grasp, shoving back
against him hard, but Chakotay slid his hands inside Tom's elbows and
pulled his arms backward, effectively immobilizing him. Tom
collapsed his weight, but Chakotay just hauled him up again, half-
dragging, half-wrestling him through the bedroom door. Chakotay
didn't release him until they were at the bed, and Tom found himself
pushed onto his back with Chakotay straddling him. Both men were
panting with exertion, flushed and hot, and Chakotay had a look on
his face of pure implacability.
"No! No! I don't want to do this, Chakotay!" Tom wailed, genuine
fear in his voice now. Chakotay steeled his resolve, yanking Tom's
arms over his head and tying the end of one of the restraints around
"It's not about what you want any more, Tom. It's about what *I*
*don't* want. I *don't* want to find any more suicide notes. I
*don't* want to wake up some morning to find out that you spaced
yourself in the night! *I don't want lose you*!"
Chakotay yanked Tom's shirt over his head and left it hanging around
his wrists. Tom bucked and kicked to no avail, and watched with
despairing fascination as Chakotay removed his own shirt before
closing his eyes and turning his head away from the sight of all that
smooth brown skin... the smell of him so familiar, so well beloved.
Tom started to tremble. He couldn't do this. He couldn't. And he
kept telling himself that while Chakotay stretched himself out half
on top of him, one leg flung over his own, rubbing their chests
together. Oh, God, it felt so good he wanted to cry. Tom made one
last bid for sanity.
"I'm saying no, Chakotay. Are you so far out of your fucking mind
that you're going to rape me?"
"I'm not going to rape you, baby. I'm going to make love to you
until you scream. It's what I should have done when I saw you
standing on the bridge, after the Caretaker pulled Voyager into the
Delta. I let my stupid pride get in the way. I won't make that
mistake again." And Chakotay put his hands under Tom's head, drew
him around and kissed him.
That mouth, so warm and lush, tongue licking along his lips. Tom
tried to keep his mouth shut, he really did, but he could no more
deny Chakotay than he could will his heart to stop. He opened his
mouth with an audible moan, helpless to prevent Chakotay's tongue
from taking possession of his, curling and stroking and tasting him
until Tom wished he could die right now, with this sweetness all
around him, filling his senses. Arousal hit him like a bolt of
lightning and brought him painfully, fully erect, a reaction he felt
echoed in the press of Chakotay's groin against his hip. Tom sobbed
into that open, plundering mouth, knowing he was lost, and still
Chakotay kept kissing him, sucking on his tongue and slanting their
lips together for a timeless, endless moment... then that hot mouth
slid across his jaw to feast on his neck. Tom groaned.
"Please don't make me do this. Don't make me feel this. I can't,
it's too much, Chakotay, don't. Please." Hands running up his arms
to stroke the tender skin over his triceps, lingering on the creases
of his elbows and back down again, combing through the fine hair at
his underarms, thumbs coming around to brush over his nipples. "Oh,
no, I don't want to feel this. I can't stand it, please stop." And
Tom's hips started to move involuntarily, seeking, straining,
*wanting*, while Chakotay's mouth followed his hands to Tom's chest.
A not so gentle bite over one nipple, tongue scraping, teasing...
mouth tightening to suckle insistently while fingers played
unhurriedly across his skin to find and pinch the other side, then
the sensations reversing, then one hand going lower still.
"No, no, don't make me, oh *God!*" Chakotay's hand in full
possession, under his pants and stroking him, stroking his cock,
thumb rubbing weeping fluid over the crown, pressing gently into the
slit. "So good, it's so damned good," and Tom's pants were abruptly
pushed down his legs, those hot hands gripped his hips, and Chakotay
took him into his mouth. Tom wailed, a high thin sound, the pleasure
of his defeat thundering through his body and leaving him weak with
"Cha! Oh, God, Cha! Don't stop. Don't stop. Don't stop," and
Chakotay, who gave a mental sigh of relief, didn't. Couldn't. Had
to taste Tom. Had to have that evidence of life in his mouth and
hands, had to trace his tongue slowly along that rigid, needy length
and circle the crown with sucking kisses, had to take it into his
throat and worship long and well... until his promise was made truth
and Tom screamed with rapture, hot salty fluid pulsing into his mouth
and gratefully accepted.
Chakotay laid his head down on Tom's trembling stomach and wept.
"Please, baby, don't leave me. Please forgive me. I'm so sorry I
said those things to you. I promise I'll never hurt you like that
again. Please, Tom. Give me another chance. Let me show you how I
"Oh, Cha." Tom's head was spinning, all the conclusions and
convictions of his reality tossed around to fall into new,
unbelievable patterns. Guilt might motivate a lot of things, but it
wouldn't make a proud man beg, nor so completely surrender his
emotional control to bare his soul. Guilt wouldn't make Chakotay cry
over him like this, unguarded and unashamed. Not guilt, but
something much stronger.
Tom felt his heart leap with almost painful hope, some odd pressure
in his chest breaking apart to leave his own breath hitching into
involuntary sobs. His arms ached to be free, ached to embrace this
man and shelter him.
"Turn me loose, Chakotay." he whispered harshly, his own tears
falling unnoticed when Chakotay raised his head. Their wet eyes met,
and held, each one looking for what he needed to see in the other's
gaze, and finding, for the first time, possibilities.
"I have to hold you."
Chakotay released Tom's hands then, shivering when those long arms
wrapped around him and held him tight. So warm, when Chakotay's soul
had felt so cold with fright. He'd come so near losing this, he'd
been a damned careless fool, and that knowledge clawed relentlessly
at the back of his mind. Tom's heartbeat was pounding at the base of
that long, lovely neck, and Chakotay laid his mouth against that
rapid, regular throb, still shaken, still unable to stop crying.
"It's all right, Cha," Tom murmured, praying this wasn't some dream
he was going to awaken from, his palms smoothing over that strong
back. The back he'd almost broken, out of self-pity and stupidity,
and he hadn't even known. "I won't leave you. Je promets que je ne
vous laisserai jamai," he swore unsteadily, not even aware he'd said
it in French until Chakotay lifted his head and looked at him. Fear
and hope swirled in that beautiful, fathomless gaze, and Tom felt his
heart stutter once again.
"Say it again, in Standard, baby. Please."
"I said, I promise I will never leave you," and while the words were
a solemn oath, they didn't disguise the apprehensions that clouded
those blue, blue eyes. Tom wasn't at all certain that Chakotay
really wanted to hear this from him. Chakotay wondered how long it
would take to completely banish those doubts, and thanked the Spirits
that he'd been given the chance to try.
He lowered his mouth to Tom's, lips parting to taste that sweetness,
the mingling of their tears only adding to the flavor. Chakotay
groaned, his deferred arousal reawakening in an explosion of heat,
his cock heavy and hard, and even his loose sweatpants were an
"Tom. Make love to me. I need to feel you inside me. I need you,
baby," he whispered into Tom's mouth, stroking that long body with
"Cha?" Tom knew he sounded shocked. During that too-brief time he'd
been Chakotay's lover in the Maquis, Chakotay had never once
indicated a desire to have Tom take him. Tom hadn't cared much, too
ridiculously happy at having Chakotay any way he could get him, but
part of him had noticed the inequality in their relationship. What
did it mean, that Chakotay would ask this of him now? Then Chakotay
rolled them over and pulled Tom on top, warm hands on his naked ass
pulling his groin against Chakotay's erection, and Tom whimpered as
he felt his own hunger return. Did it matter why, if this was what
Chakotay wanted? Especially when it was what he wanted, too, with a
desperation that was increasing by the second.
Tom put one hand on Chakotay's face, curving it around his jaw to
draw their eyes together, drinking in the vision of Chakotay, lost in
passion... pupils hugely dilated, color high, nostrils flared, mouth
swollen and flushed. Damn, Chakotay was a beautiful man. Tom
decided to tell him so, electing to speak French. It was, after all,
the best possible use for that language. It had the added benefit of
freeing Tom to say everything he'd ever wanted to say, as well as
distracting him enough to not cause Chakotay any pain. He lowered
his mouth to nuzzle at Chakotay's ear, licking the tender skin
beneath the lobe.
"Vous etes un bel homme. Vous etes si beau, je suis aveugle par
vous." You are so beautiful, I am blinded by you.
Chakotay arched his pelvis and groaned, prompting Tom to scoot down
far enough to remove his pants and kick his own off his ankles.
Beautiful, indeed, Tom thought, stroking the straining proof of
Chakotay's desire for him. A work of art, and he told him so.
"Vous etes une oeuvre d'art, mon grand homme," Tom murmured
"Tom, please—" Chakotay managed to protest, hardly able to speak
past the overwhelming torment of his need. Tom's touch, his scent,
that maddening liquid voice... Chakotay was losing his mind, dimly
thinking he'd kill Tom if he didn't hurry up, and too far gone to
notice the irony in that.
Aware it would be unkind to make him wait, Tom slid a pillow under
Chakotay's ass and leaned over to look in his bedside table, relieved
to find lubricant. He moved to kneel between Chakotay's legs,
spreading those strong thighs wide before generously slicking his
fingers. Tom was unable to resist the opportunity to taste his lover
as he carefully loosened that small opening, rewarded with Chakotay's
low cry and jerking, seeking hips. If he was lucky enough to be
granted a next time, he planned to kiss every inch of that perfect,
smooth skin, Tom reflected as he worked, not too slowly, from one
finger to three.
Chakotay moaned and pushed against his hand, and Tom knew neither one
of them could hold out much longer. He removed his fingers and lubed
his erection, raised Chakotay's legs to rest on his shoulders, then
eased his way into that tight hole.
Chakotay didn't want easy. He placed his hands at the head of the
bed and shoved, fully impaling himself on Tom and crying out.
Agonizingly wonderful, being completed, possessed, taken; that
initial burning pain quickly transmuting into wild and relentless
pleasure. So good, so good, every fantasy he'd ever had brought to
life... then Tom began to move within him, and that desperate, aching
hunger was all Chakotay knew, each thrust bringing him closer to
screaming as he moved his legs to wrap them around Tom's waist and
pull him closer still.
"Dieu! Je t'aime, mon bel ange. Je vous adore. Vous avez
sauvegarde ma vie, ma ame. Je promets de vous aimer tous mes
jours." Tom's conscious thoughts were overtaken by the pure physical
thrill of repeatedly sheathing himself in the hot depths of
Chakotay's body. Tom poured out his heart, barely aware of what he
was saying, declaring his love and adoration for his beautiful angel
who saved his life and his soul, promising his love for all his
days. Tom wrapped his still slick fingers around Chakotay's cock and
stroked hard, inside and out, and the intensity crashed over them
both in timeless waves of searing, roaring ecstasy.
Tom practically fell into Chakotay's arms, and they held one another
for long minutes, both rocked to the core by what they'd created
together. They shared the same little whimper when Tom's spent cock
slid free of Chakotay, pushing them to cling even tighter.
Eventually, Chakotay turned his head enough to whisper in Tom's ear.
"I love you too, you know."
Tom stiffened, so afraid to believe that, and so afraid not to.
Chakotay felt his reaction and sighed, taking Tom's face in his hands.
"I know I haven't given you many reasons to believe me, baby, but I
promise you, I will never lie to you again."
Tom looked into Chakotay's shining dark eyes, warm and unreserved,
and made a conscious decision to accept him at his word. Maybe
someday he would sense Chakotay's love instinctively, feel it on a
cellular level, part of him. Until then, he had more now than he'd
ever had in his life. It was enough, and he nodded. He could live
"Vous etes le soleil en mon ciel, plus tres que ma propre vie," Tom
said softly, the words translating in his mind. You are the sun in
my sky, more important than my own life. It was the only truth he
needed, and he lowered his head to kiss his beautiful angel.
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