The Irish Sex Fairy says: 2. Gentle relaxed lovemaking reduces your chances of suffering dermatitis, skin rashes and blemishes. The sweat produced cleanses the pores and makes your skin glow.
Disclaimer: this is the Irish Sex Fairy's advice – not medical advice. Take it for what it's worth. If you suffer from dermatitis, you should probably follow the recommendations of your medical or natural health care practitioner rather than the Irish Sex Fairy. Actually, given that this recommendation has no nasty side effects if practised in a safe manner and is almost certainly nicer than taking medication, it probably wouldn't hurt to try if your dermatitis is stress induced.
"A Lesson in Skin Care"
Chakotay scratched at his knee. He frowned over the crew evaluations that still remained to be done and picked up the next PADD. Ensign Megan Delaney. A sigh that emanated practically from the soles of his boots echoed around his office. He knew it was way past the end of his shift, but as usual things that needed to be dealt with more urgently than crew evaluations had cropped up at a speed to rival the spread of scuttlebutt and he'd fallen behind again.
A query to the computer informed him there was less than ten minutes until Sandrine’s opened. With the support of Neelix in his capacity as Morale Officer and Tuvok as Head of Security, he’d put a proposal to the captain. Rather than take the holodecks completely offline for an extended period of time while resources were limited, they would divert a small amount of energy so that the crew could still have some off-duty outlet. For ninety minutes, three times every twenty-four hours one of the public holoprograms would run. Fortunately, even that scant hour and a half seemed to be enough as there had been no outbreaks of any kind that resulted in the filling of Sickbay or the brig to deplete the work teams. Even with Tom away he didn’t want to miss out on any downtime of his own. Thankfully, he dropped Ensign Delaney’s PADD back onto his desk and closed up his office.
Chakotay picked up a drink from the bar and scanned the room. His gaze lit on the table usually staked out by the Maquis who worked the alpha shift. Ayala and Dalby must have been waiting at the doors to already be settled with drinks and engrossed in an earnest discussion that had Dalby vigorously jabbing the air with an extended index finger. Tabor joined them. Chakotay decided to head over that way too.
“Doubles, Chakotay? Tabor?” offered Ayala. Remarkably, the pool table was still free.
The four men soon attracted a group of onlookers and if a few rations happened to be wagered on the outcome, it was only to be expected. Chakotay and Tabor were victorious and returned to the table to enjoy the drinks provided by the losers.
A noisy crowd entered the room. B’Elanna and several of her engineering team descended on the bar. Snippets of their conversation reached Chakotay’s ears. They were postulating the chances of Joe Carey's success at trading for the vital ores they needed. It wouldn't hurt to join them, even if the discussion was work-related. He thanked Ayala & Dalby for the game and the drink one more time as he pushed back his chair.
“Commander Chakotay, a word with you, if I may?”
“Doctor. Is something wrong?” Chakotay turned to the EMH who had come up behind him.
“You tell me.”
“I couldn’t help noticing your wrists while you were playing pool.”
Chakotay reflexively tugged down his sleeves. “Ah…”
“You have a rash. Why haven’t you come to Sickbay?”
“It’s nothing. Probably just a touch of dermatitis. It hasn’t even been there a week. It’ll be fine.” Chakotay scratched at his wrist and flushed as he quickly clasped his hands behind his back. “Everyone is busy with the repairs, and it's not as though it's killing me.”
“It will interfere with your peace of mind and therefore your efficiency. There is no need for you to suffer when there are several effective treatments available already in Sickbay, so you see, there is no need to expend precious energy replicating something. We will however need to determine the etiology. Dermatitis may be caused by many things: allergens, irritants, genetic predisposition, stress -,” the Doctor broke off as he became aware that Chakotay’s expression had frozen and hurriedly changed tack. “I’ll expect you in Sickbay -.”
The comm. system crackled and Lieutenant Rollin’s voice interrupted to announce the shuttle Cochrane was hailing them. A relieved smile spread over Chakotay’s face as he acknowledged the message. “Excuse me, Doctor. We’ll discuss this later. Much later,” he muttered under his breath as he left Sandrine’s and made his way to the shuttlebay. Eight days was a fair time for an away mission, but the lack of alerts indicated everyone was most likely back in one piece. He hoped the captain, Carey, Neelix and Tom would be able to report the trade negotiations had been successful.
Captain Janeway disembarked first and immediately ordered the team standing by to begin unloading procedures. Neelix went to assist with the processing of the foodstuffs whilst Carey left with B’Elanna, who had left Sandrine’s practically on Chakotay’s heels.
“It all went extremely well.” Kathryn started to fill in the details, but stopped when she realized Chakotay’s attention was elsewhere. “We can debrief in an hour. Or maybe you'd prefer two?”
“Yes,” murmured Chakotay, and absently scratched at his wrist as he stared at the Cochrane. “I mean, thank you. Two hours would be great. If you're sure?” He smiled down at the woman who was his friend as well as his captain.
She patted his arm and left him to wait for Tom who was finishing the post-flight checks.
“Hey, Chakotay!” Tom's brief greeting conveyed a wealth of emotion.
“Tom! You’re back!”
“Yeah. Let’s get out of here.”
Walking close enough that their shoulders touched occasionally, they lost no more time heading to their quarters. The sound of Tom's bag falling to the floor and the swoosh of the closing door barely registered with either man as they briefly touched lips and then simply stood with their arms wrapped around one another for a long moment.
Chakotay sighed deeply and hugged Tom to him even more firmly. “Missed you,” he murmured, and then pulled back to stare into the blue eyes that shone brightly back.
“It went well?”
“Yeah. Do you want the details now?”
“No. In a couple of hours will be fine.”
“A couple of hours? It’s less than an hour until the debriefing.”
“We've got two. Kathryn said so,” explained Chakotay and there was an almost embarrassed twist to his lips. He rubbed his wrist against the synthetic material of Tom's uniform collar, unerringly finding the seam. He flinched when his arm was pulled back and examined.
“Look at this. You've scratched your wrist raw. Have you seen the Doctor?”
Chakotay looked away and refrained from answering until he felt a not so gentle pinch to his butt. “No.”
“I haven't had time. And anyway, it's not urgent. The repairs...”
“It's nothing. I can live with it. Anyway, the Doctor knows about it. He said it's probably dermatitis.”
“So you did see the Doc. He should have given you something for it.”
“He couldn't. We weren't exactly in Sickbay at the time.”
“Huh. You can just let me look at it properly then. Come on.” Tom dragged Chakotay into their bedroom and picked up his medical tricorder.
“You could always look at it later, you know. Or I could stop by Sickbay after the debreifing if you're so worried. We're wasting the time Kathryn gave us. I'm sure she doesn't want to find out we spent it arguing over a little rash on my wrists.”
“You wouldn't tell her...”
“Of course not, but she's not stupid. Why do you think she gave us an extra hour? It wan't so you could play doctor.”
“It is dermatitis.” Tom frowned over the readings on the display for a moment and then smiled. “It appears to be stress-induced – surprise, surprise. Fortunately for you, I know just the thing.” He put the tricorder aside.
“What?” Chakotay raised his eyebrows when Tom kissed him on his fingertips one at a time and then started to undo the fastenings on Chakotay's uniform.
“Ssh,” admonished Tom gently. “This is what you wanted, isn't it? Well, guess what?” He ran his tongue around Chakotay's closest ear.
Chakotay only shuddered in reply when Tom blew softly onto the wet trail. He shrugged out of his uniform top.
“Did I tell you the Doc has been making me study up on stress? He's concerned about the higher than average stress levels in almost all of the crew. No regular shore leave in familiar places...being so far from family and friends...the strain of the unkonwn...not being able to transfer off Voyager...perpetual problems with delta quadrant races...leola root...being fired upon every other week...it all adds up.” Tom's hands and mouth found familiar, sensitive places to caress in between the low-toned phrases as they removed their clothes. “You're under stress and stress can cause dermatitis. You know that having sex is a great way to reduce stress, but I'll bet you didn't know one of the things that is reputed to help dermatitis is slow, gentle lovemaking.” Together they stripped the covers from the bed, then Chakotay let Tom settle him on his side and spoon up behind him as he kept up his soothing, monotoned explanation. “Of course, I'm sure the Doc didn't mean me to have sex with everyone on board to cure their stress...”
Chakotay snorted and jerked his pelvis back in mock disapproval. Tom's wicked chuckle only added to their growing desire, as did his long stokes up and down Chakotay's chest and sides.
“And anyway, I don't know exactly how many of the crew have developed dermatitits. After all, I've been gone for over a week. It could be practically all of them by now.”
Chakotay hummed with pleasure as Tom stopped talking and nuzzled into his neck and shoulders. He caught Tom's questing fingers and placed them at his groin, then twisted his upper body back in an effort to capture Tom's mouth with his own. “Slow and gentle, Chak, slow and gentle,” came the murmur in his ear before warm lips settled on his own. His eyes closed and he drifted with the rhythm of their unhurried humping until they were no longer in their quarters on Voyager, but on the bed in their holocabin with the afternoon sunlight slanting through the window. If he looked down he would see the hairs on the back of Tom's hand glinting in the light as it stoked and squeezed him.The heat built slowly and it was good; the curl of his toes, the twist in his gut, the increased need for air that forced his mouth from Tom's so that he could draw the shallow, rapid breaths – all that he was capable of just now. And then he felt Tom panting and stiffen against his upper back before groaning out his release, then his hand sped up and Chakotay covered it with his own while they both forgot all about slow and gentle.
“It's going to need more than one treatment,” remarked Tom casually as he took the time to examine Chakotay's wrists while he cleaned them up.
“Oh, I concur. In fact, it will probably take quite a few,” Chakotay agreed solemnly. “You did say 'slow and gentle' after all, and I don't think we got that part exactly right. Another treatment session tonight then?” He gave an exaggerated grimace when Tom punched his arm, and they changed into clean uniforms for the debriefing.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ten days later, the repairs were complete and Voyager was again flying homeward at a healthy speed of warp six. The Resort stayed open for twenty-four hours. Off-duty crew enjoyed some extra downtime, and Neelix organized a sumptuous barbecue to celebrate their fully-functional status.
Chakotay leaned gainst the bar, sipping a brightly colored drink in a glass that sported a cherry, a slice of lime, a pineapple wedge and a paper umbrella. He was content to simply observe the strenuous game of volleyball that Tom had unsuccessfully tried to convince him to join. He didn't notice he had a companion until his free hand was raised and inspected.
“Your dermatitis seems to be almost gone, Commander Chakotay, despite the fact I have yet to see you in Sickbay.”
Chakotay looked down at the offending limb. “Well, yes it has. Tom's medical training is oviously progressing well as he noticed it almost as soon as he got back from that last trading mission. He mentioned how you had been teaching him about stress and its effects on the body, and sure enough, with the success of the mission, my stress levels decreased, and...” He turned his palm over and back, and shrugged. “I didn't see any point bothering you. If you'll excuse me, Doctor, it looks like the game has finished.” Chakotay put his half-finished drink back on the bar and with a nod in the doctor's direction, hurried over to Tom.
The doctor shook his head and muttered to himself, “Harrumph. And he thinks I believe his blemish-free complexion is solely due to lack of stress? The whole crew would be glowing enough get Voyager back to the apha quadrant if that were the case.”
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