Tom eased down Voyager’s familiar corridor toward sickbay with Chakotay’s assistance and with a decidedly cautious gait. He imagined it looked very similar to the shuffling, lurching movement of the zombies in the classic Earth movie, ‘Dawn of the Dead’. He had no idea that Coltari Prime IV harbored an indigenous species that resembled the extinct Terran penguin, but was in fact closer to a Klingon Targ in temperament and he had had a painfully close encounter in a particularly sensitive area.
The initial survey couldn’t be faulted. The creatures appeared docile, waddling around on their stubby, webbed feet in a most endearing manner and emitting sounds that even seemed to give Tuvok’s countenance a bright gleam of a nearly-there smile. It was surprisingly hard not to chuck them under the chin and coo like a demented parent at their first babies burp.
They had been entirely too casual in the face of all that cuteness. There were no inhabitants with which they could make contact, to ask their sage advice, to inquire if there were perhaps native fauna which they should avoid due to their murderous tendencies, even though they appeared harmless to traveling interplanetary visitors.
The planet was a virgin paradise ready for the plucking and Voyager’s larders seemed to be in a constant need of replenishment. Neelix had been seen eating his last Vegemite and maple syrup sandwich with a relish no one else shared except possibly for Seven, who declined actually ingesting the dubious foodstuff; but, found the substance remarkably interesting and could be heard murmuring ‘assimilation’ whenever she gave it close scruntity.
The survey party of which Tom was a member had such bright hopes when they landed early in the planet’s daylight cycle. The yellow sun blazed in a blue sky over a verdant landscape which opened onto a view of a blue-green ocean. A slight breeze had ruffled Tom’s hair. He had lifted his head and closed his eyes, feeling the salty spray. Everyone had paused a moment to soak up the beauty, the peace, the quiet and then a sound filtered into Tom’s consciousness. It began to grow in volume receding and washing closer like the waves on the beach.
It sounded like the chirping and squawking of birds. Hundreds and hundreds of birds.
Tom glanced over at the Commander as he was wont to do on inordinately frequent occasions and got an answering look from the man’s dark eyes. Tom quite often fantasized they were glinting with lust, but on this occasion it was unfortunately too quizzical an expression even for Tom’s heightened imagination to work miracles.
The Commander, always a cautious man, drew his phaser and motioned for Tom to accompany him while he voiced orders for the others to begin their mission of searching for foodstuff. Tom damped down the surging desire to whoop for joy at the prospect of accompanying Chakotay along the beach. He had no real expectation that the man was going to throw him on the sun-kissed sand and fuck him till he screamed himself hoarse and his toes curled, but it would supply material for his fantasies to jerk off by that night.
The scenario the previous night had been quite involved. He and Chakotay were visiting London as lovers. They were standing outside the tower housing Big Ben and it was chiming out the time sonorously. Tom imagined he could feel the vibration in the building. He pressed himself against the foundation and as is wont in fantasies of this nature he found himself naked with the man of his dreams pressed hotly to his back, sliding inside him to the rhythm of the magnificent time piece. Then of course he had woken to Voyager’s quietly efficient humming and an empty bed and a sticky hand.
Tom determinedly trudged through the sand, his eyes focused on Chakotay’s back and superb ass as it rippled and swayed hypnotically, leading him as effectively as if he were wearing Chakotay’s collar and chain...which had been his fantasy the night before last.
The sand was giving Tom ideas. He resolved that tonight he would be Aladdin and Chakotay would be the genie of the lamp with arms crossed over his smoothly muscled chest, trousers made of a transparent material that teased unmercifully and eyes darkly glinting like golden treasure in a dark cave.
He was so engrossed in his fantasy-building that he wasn’t watching his footing and tripped over the rough ground. The sand had disappeared and was replaced with a group of large, gray boulders tumbling into the ocean. They were quite unusual with their straight sides as if they had been hand-hewn and were quite as large as those at Stonehenge, which Tom had visited with his mother when he was a child. The impression of immense age had stayed with him and the vision of his mother’s smiling face as she looked up at them and ran her long-fingered hand lightly over their rough surface. It was a snapshot memory. He never saw her smiling after that day.
Chakotay’s warm, strong fingers grasped his and he found himself looking into the man’s face as it regarded him with the same strength he felt in those ancient stones. It suddenly became hard for him to swallow.
“Are you all right, lieutenant?”
Tom nodded, still caught in the moment and then recollected himself enough to answer that yes, he was quite all right, thank you commander of my heart, the man I’ll love forever. Of course, he didn’t quite say all of that out loud, though from the look Chakotay gave him he might have. Perhaps his eyes were showing too much of his true feelings. The traitors. He had his mother’s eyes.
It was so sad to feel the warmth of Chakotay’s fingers slide from his. When the man turned his back, Tom brought his fingers to his cheek and pressed them there.
The odd noise they had heard initially had been growing louder, but they had yet to see its source. Finally and with quite a deal of effort they made their way over the tumble of fallen stones. It was then they saw the amazing site before them. Stretched out along the beach to an infinite edge were the seething mass of penguin-like creatures. The noise this close was almost deafening.
Tom noted they had scooped out shallow depressions in the sand, each one containing a single large egg. It seemed to be mating season.
Tom looked at Chakotay, who gazed back at Tom, who really couldn’t help the very un-Starfleet squeak to his voice when he uttered, “Oh. My. God. It’s an egg!”
He cleared his throat and managed a more normal voice when he asked, “Omelets?” Tom raised his brow in inquiry. He hadn’t had a fresh egg in far longer than he cared to think about.
Chakotay’s eyes took on the glint of a dangerously ravenous non-Vegan vegetarian as he nodded his assent.
It was in the ensuing struggle to relieve the not-penguins of a few of their eggs that Tom had sustained his injuries. Chakotay had been suitably sympathetic, personally accompanying Tom to sickbay and recounting a story of a particularly vicious bite he had sustained by an ill tempered llama he had encountered on a hiking trip up the Himalayans taken while at the academy.
Tom could only think to himself that he truly must be in love to find the story the least bit interesting for it seemed to go on forever. Chakotay tended to be a bit rambling when he was nervous. Tom found it endearing and wondered why Chakotay was nervous in the first place.
It was more bad luck when they encountered B’Elanna on their way to sickbay. Neelix had apparently been able to convince or blackmail the woman into participating in his version of the Earth holiday Christmas. There was to be a big celebration that night complete with a feast, thanks to the foodstuff found on the planet. Unhappily, there would be no eggnog.
Also unhappily, there seemed to be some confusion about Santa’s appearance. B’Elanna was wearing a red cap with white fur trim and a white pompom on its pointed tip, which had a tendency of flopping into B’Elanna’s left eye. Her face had been painted an indescribable green color. She had a large bag slung over her shoulder and its contents seemed to shift in a very annoying way because she kept tugging it up and cursing under her breath with a grimace on her face.
Tom would have smiled at the sight if he hadn’t been in so much discomfort. As it was she was a remarkable blend of jolly old Nick and the Grinch who stole Christmas.
Chokotay displayed a very pleasing protective streak as he gently guided Tom against the wall. Both men pressed themselves as unobtrusively as they could out of her way and breathed a sigh of relief as she passed them with a, “Bah, humbug!” and a trail of presents dropping from her sack like attractive litter.
Both men realized they had taken refuge against a holodeck door when they heard Captain Janeway’s voice utter, “Get that...that THING away from me!” The deeply eviscerating tone could have flayed the metal skin off the hull of the ship.
Chakotay and Tom looked at each other sheepishly, with reddened cheeks, because they knew as well as everyone else on the ship that the captain was obsessed with a very popular retro vid of an ancient television series called ‘The X-Files’. Its theme music blared eerily in their ears. The show featured aliens, UFOs, shadowy government dealings and most importantly a heroine that Janeway loved to portray.
Tom lurched into the corridor trying to put himself as far away from the unintentionally intimate moment with the captain’s fantasy and was gratified to find Chakotay at his side, giving him all the support he needed.
That support continued through the good doctor’s inspection and dismissal to his room for a night’s rest and recovery.
Tom thanked Chakotay as the man lingered at his door, unusually solicitous. Tom just wanted to get inside, lie down and start building on the fantasy he had started to create earlier in the day. It was something he knew the real Chakotay would not be interested in and that made him too depressed for words.
His door whoosed open and he turned to go inside with a final farewell when he felt a warm, firm grip on his shoulder turn him around. Chakotay was gazing at him with a look in his eye that would have been a fantasy if it hadn’t been real. A matching grip took hold of his other shoulder and brought him closer and closer to that reality.
He kept his eyes open, even when he couldn’t see Chakotay’s face any longer, could only feel the warmth of his skin and the wet, softness of his lips. He didn’t want to close his eyes and then open them only to find it was all just a dream after all.
But there was nothing ephemeral about Chakotay’s passion. He gathered Tom to him, tender and hungry and so very, very real.
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