I stood back and looked at my handiwork. It looked all right, not too green and not too gooey. It was the first time in a long time that I'd really wanted to make an impression and I needed to have everything perfect. So, I did a mental checklist and ticked off each item as I looked at the table. My dishes were china with a light green leaf motif topped with Mandalaran Brandied pears. Pistachio ice cream was chilling in the freezer bowl. The pale amber of the liquor glimmered in the tall fluted glasses.
No silverware or napkins would be needed since we'd be coming back here after dinner in the dining hall and I was hoping to persuade Tom to use me as a plate. It had been a week since the Crystal came aboard and we'd been quietly getting together every night in either his quarters or mine. I was ready to move into one or the other so we wouldn't waste time apart but I didn't want to push Tom into something he might regret.
Tonight, I was going to ask him to move in with me or request new quarters so we'd both be starting fresh. As close as we had gotten, I still didn't know what he would say. A chime told me I had a message so I called it up and found a request from the Captain to join her for dinner in her away room. Groaning under my breath, I sent back my acceptance at the same time my door buzzed.
But the door opened before I could get to it and Tom strolled in looking good enough to eat. He came right into my arms and I was beginning to get used to the shock of desire that flashed into being whenever we came together. I nibbled at his lips until they widened in a smile and I could slip inside. If there is a heaven, as the religious caste says there is, then I know where it is.
And how to get there.
I feasted on him for long moments before breaking off with a sigh. "I'm supposed to have dinner with the Captain tonight."
His blue eyes sparkled and his smile couldn't get any bigger. "Me too."
"Really?" I tried to think why we'd both gotten this summons.
"Relax, Gregor. I expect it's something to do with the Crystal."
"You're probably right but I had plans for after dinner."
He peeked over my shoulder, eyes widening at the table. "Wow, Gregor, that looks beautiful. What's the occasion?"
"Just wanted to surprise you with something special."
Tom sighed and laid his head on my shoulder. "Everything we do is special. I've never felt so ... cherished."
Holding him close, I swallowed the lump in my throat. Such a declaration meant a lot coming from this wounded man who had found his way to me. "I adore you, Tom, cherishing you is very, very easy."
He hid a disbelieving smile against my throat, kissing me softly. "We should probably get going. The Captain hates to be kept waiting."
"Hm-m-m," I breathed in his fresh clean scent. "The sooner we get there, the sooner we can come back for ... dessert."
"Coffee, tea or me?" He teased.
"Always you, Tom. But I think I need to see how you taste with whipped cream all over your body."
He blushed before he laughed delightedly, shaking his head. I knew he still didn't believe that we were going to last but my patience was infinite when it came to him. I hugged him close than stepped away so we could leave. We were still not a 'couple' to the rest of the crew so we'd have to behave outside my rooms.
Damn, so much for asking him about moving in together. I sighed silently before putting on my public face for the walk to her quarters. Tom was telling me some story about a leave he'd taken on Shirrika 6 and I let his voice wash over me like a refreshing shower. His hands sketched a picture of the rainstorm that had inundated he and his friend until they decided to strip off and race naked through the drops.
I was snickering at his chagrin when they discovered that the stream had overflowed its banks and taken their clothes with it. But when he told me who'd found them after the storm, I had to laugh out loud. The Sisters of St. Julian were known for their piety, good works ... and their chastity. He gave me a mock pout that almost broke my control, followed by a wicked glance that made my blood race.
He finished the story just as we got to the Captain's door. Before pressing the comm button, I leaned just a little closer and told him under my breath, "We can reenact it later, if you like?"
A gleaming smile was my answer as the Captain greeted us at her door. "Come in, gentlemen. I believe you know the others."
I nodded to Chakotay and B'Elanna. The woman at B'Elanna's side was a stranger to me and I thought I knew the entire crew. She had to be Star Fleet and the pips on her collar said she was a Lieutenant like Tom and me. She looked like someone I should know but for the life of me I couldn't place what department she was in. But it had to be something obscure. The Captain must have noticed my puzzled look.
"Lt. Kimber, do you know Lt. Ayala?"
"Only from a distance, Captain, I don't get out that much." Her voice was low and melodic, her glance shy but determined. She held out her hand and I shook it gently. Her hand was stained with something dark but paradoxically was scrupulously clean. But her gaze had traveled on to Tom and a smile lit up her whole face.
"Tom, the jasmine bush has a blossom."
"Congratulations, Jilly. It's only taken you a year." Tom joked and kissed her cheek.
I was taken aback by the jealousy that flashed through me. I could see that it was friendship not lust between them but the barbarian part of me still wanted to warn her off. It seems that I needed to work on my relationship skills. The Captain was pouting and complaining that it should have been her miniature coffee shrub.
That got a laugh from all of us since we'd all heard about her addiction to coffee.
She led the way to the table set with beautiful china and gleaming silver. She served us herself and we ate slowly to savor the taste of replicator food. Neelix had rather odd ideas of what constituted eatability. The talk was general, little nothings about the ship and speculation about the Crystal.
"Let's have our after dinner drinks in my lounge. Please choose what you'd like from the replicator. For once, I think we can indulge. B'Elanna has some good news for us." Captain Janeway led the way after getting a cup of her beloved coffee.
Tom and I chose our special tea while Chakotay and B'Elanna both ordered Rigillian beer. Lt. Kimber ordered a cup of hot chocolate with a contented sigh. Tom gently teased her about being a chocoholic and she blushed. I remembered Geron saying something about Tom talking to the plants and I realized that Lt. Kimber must have known him from the hydroponics lab. That was where I'd seen her, head down over some plant or another.
"Well, B'Elanna, tell the others your news." Captain Janeway curled up on the long couch by the window to the stars; her shoes on the carpet and her feet tucked up under her.
"We have 100% crystal replacement. For the first time since the array threw us out here, we will be at full power capacity. The engines will be able to give you a little more speed, Hotshot Paris."
"All right!" Tom sat up straight. "It's about time, B'El."
She growled at him but I could tell she was pleased with his joy. Chakotay asked about the sensors and the conversation quickly grew general. Lt. Kimber listened intently but said little unless one of the others asked her a question. She was the quietest person I'd ever met, reminding me of a little gray mouse on the prison ship who only came out at night to see if we had any crumbs.
After half an hour of increasingly speculative conversation, the party broke up. I noticed that Chakotay stayed behind but B'El decided to go to Sandrines. Tom told me that he was going to walk Lt. Kimber home but he winked over his shoulder and I said my goodnight with a smile. Walking home, I made sure that everything was just right while I waited for him.
Checking the computer, I called up Lt. Jillian Kimber. It bothered me that I didn't know anything about her. Looking at her general statistics, her record was an interesting one. She and her husband were on their second tour on Voyager when the array had thrown the ship into the Delta sector. Her husband had been killed before we joined forces and left her a widow at thirty.
Her specialties were botany and history, an interesting combination that intrigued me. She was on the second shift that I'd just come off and I still didn't remember ever coming across her before. Maybe she was more like that gray mouse than I had thought. She wasn't a security problem that was sure. It made me glad to know that she could appreciate Tom when the rest of us hadn't.
He walked in as if my thoughts had conjured him up out of the air. "Now for dessert."
I pulled out his chair and seated him as I'd seen a waiter do once on Earth. Whipping out the cloth napkin, I spread it in his lap, taking my time and making sure it was placed just right. "Would Monsieur like to see the menu?"
"Only if you're on it, gorgeous." He leered at me and I smoothed the napkin over the growing bulge in his lap.
"It is your lucky day -- I am on the menu." I ran a thumb over his bottom lip, the one that I dreamed about. "Or rather ... we're both on the menu."
Pulling my chair around so we sat side by side, I picked up a fork and fed him the first bite of pear. He closed his eyes while chewing the rich dessert and making humming sounds that went straight to my groin. "Gregor, this is so decadent. I've never had anything so ... so silky."
Cutting a small portion off, he fed it to me and the burst of brandy on my tongue did indeed slide over it like silk. Taking turns, we finished both of the pears and I talked him into saving the ice cream for later. He was still laughing while we stripped off and crawled into my bed. His laughter was a real turn-on for me and when he came into my arms, I pulled him close and kissed him with fervor.
The brandied pear was no sweeter than his mouth.
We feasted on each other for long moments and when we slid under the covers, the ice cream freezer bowl was forgotten on the side table. Tom and I nestled close together, front to front. His skin felt warm and alive to my wandering lips and fingers. His breathless little chuckle when I caressed his nipple was music to my ears.
"Gregor ... oh there." He shivered when I gently bit his left nipple. His hands combed through my hair while I alternated licks and nibbles. "Your hair is like ebony strands of silk. I wish you could grow it out long. Then you'd be able to tickle me with the ends."
"Ah, tickling." I leered at him and flexed my fingers against his sides, enjoying his almost giggles. He looked so young when he laughed, as if all the bad years hadn't happened and he was the carefree youth he should have been. "Now, what can you give me to stop this tickle attack?"
His blue eyes shone up at me. "Oh dear, what ever could I offer a big, handsome man like yourself?" He wiggled a leg between mine and matched our groins together. "I have so little to trade you." He rocked back and forth, encouraging us both to harden further. "Maybe, I could offer you a hand?"
"Or a mouth?" I asked hopefully.
"Really? Would that be enough for a big, strong guy like yourself?" He batted his eyes at me while slowly licking his lips.
That pink tongue was an invitation to plunder and I took him up on it. We kissed each other and slowly turned ourselves until we were head to groin. He took me in from crown to root and I shivered hard before returning the favor. We took our time, each move that one made so did the other. I paused to take each ball hanging beneath his cock into my mouth, gently rolling it before releasing it to the cooler air.
Blowing on it, I made him shiver before he doubled his attack on my durilium steel-hard cock. He fluttered his tongue over the vein that ran underneath the head and I had to get control of myself before I ended this duel prematurely. A deep breath and I was ready to up the ante. I took him in completely and began a series of swallows that brought a long moan from my bedmate.
He shuddered under my hands and I swallowed again before moving back up to catch his release on my tongue. He tasted so sweet to me, pulsing out into my gentle sucking. Tom's skin rippled under my hands as I soothed long caresses up and down the backs of his long legs. I loved touching every part of him.
"Oh god, you are so good at that." His breath gusted over my cock.
I stopped sucking and let his limp organ slide from my mouth. "You inspire me, Tom. Your taste is addicting. I need it every day."
He rolled me onto my back and crawled up and over me, leaning in to taste himself. I traced his lips with the tip of my tongue and he sucked it into his hot mouth. When he drew away, he looked down at me and smiled. "Addicting is right. I never thought I'd need someone like I am beginning to need you."
There was nothing I could say to that surprising statement and he seemed to understand because he grinned and moved back down to worship my cock. I was moaning and combing his hair with my fingers, trying not to hold him too hard. But I felt as if I'd been full for hours and all too soon, I was releasing into the warm wet haven.
We cuddled together while we got our breaths back. Once we'd arranged ourselves right way up and pulled the blanket over us, we settled in for my favorite part of the day. Sharing what we'd done during our shifts. It beat waking up with Tom by a tiny margin.
"How do you know Lt. Kimber?" I finally decided to assuage my curiosity.
"She's a survivor, like I am." His voice was serious and I moved my head so I could see him better. "Her husband was a 24 karat bastard. He abused her from the day they were married but subtly. So subtly that when she finally went to a councilor, the jerk didn't believe her. When the array threw us out here and he was killed, she went into shock and is only now beginning to come out of her shell."
"What did he do? Physical abuse or verbal?" I couldn't believe that anyone would harm someone so small and quiet.
"A little of both." Tom sighed, his blue eyes turning gray with sorrow. "He never hit her where it would show. And he was always 'helping' her before she could do something herself. Or belittling her ability with the 'best intentions'. I recognized his kind from the moment we met so after he died I took her under my wing. Even though my wing wasn't much of a shelter for her."
"You're more than capable of protecting your friends."
"Yeah, all four of them." He shrugged and I pulled him in tight.
"I love you and all your friends do too." I gently kissed him then pulled back slightly so I could look into those big blue eyes. "So, you'll just have to put up with us. Now, who have you and Geron set up for her?"
He fluttered his eyelashes. "I don't know what you're talking about, Gregor. I'm not the matchmaker that you think I am."
"Un-uh, and I should believe that why?"
He grinned that shit-eating grin that had always annoyed me before I got to know him. "I'm not saying in case it jinxes her. Let's just say that he's someone very gentle who needs someone to give him the solid base that you give me."
"That I give ..." I had to catch my breath. "Do you want to move in with me? Now?"
"Are you sure? It hasn't been very long." Those blue eyes were so solemn.
"I'm sure, Tom. I love going to sleep with you but even more, I love waking up with you." I held him gently, not wanting to put too much pressure on him.
"I like that too, Gregor. This part is the best part of the day, when we're just here, together and talking about stuff." Tom grinned ruefully. "I never thought I'd ever have something like this. It's a little scary to reach for it."
My eyes burned at his shy yearning. "I know what you mean. If you don't reach for the gold star, then you don't get disappointed, right?"
He nodded. "But that doesn't stop the wanting inside."
"I want the whole galaxy of stars, Tom. With you." I kissed him gently and called for the lights to dim. "Think about it. Maybe you'll dream an answer. I can wait."
"I do want to be with you, Gregor. I never dreamed I could be so ... comfortable with someone. You value my opinion and never tell me I'm stupid like Dad used to." Tom tucked his head under my jaw and I stroked small, soothing circles on his back. "For a while, I started to think he was right. That I never could do anything good or build anything that would last."
"Oh, Tom." I wanted to hold him tight and never let him go. "None of that is the truth. He was so wrong about you. You are building a life that he could never imagine. The Delta Quadrant has thrown a little bit of everything at us and we've survived. And one of the reasons we survived was your skill as a pilot and your bravery in flushing out the traitor who would have destroyed us."
I felt moisture against my throat and would have given everything I had to take this burden from him. The heavy load of tradition that his father had pinned to his shoulders from the day he was born would have crippled a lesser soul but though Tom had faltered, he'd never failed the Voyager or its crew.
"I don't want Dad to be right, Gregor. I'm tired of fighting his legacy." Tom raised his head, blue eyes glistening and his smile tremulous. "I want what we have right now. And I want a future, whatever that might be."
"Good. Shall I talk with the Captain or do you want to?" I beamed at him. "We could move into either yours or mine but maybe we should move to new quarters and start fresh completely."
"I'd like to move closer to the hydroponics bay and Jill. The mix of crew on that level is kind of neutral to the whole 'give Tom a bad name' clique." He smiled back at me.
"Then, that's what we'll ask for. I wouldn't be adverse to being closer to the Crystal." I settled in to sleep. "Thanks, Tom. I promise to be there for our future."
He hid a yawn and closed his eyes sleepily. "Me too, Gregor. Night."
"Night. Sweet dreams, love."
Smiling, he pulled me a little closer and we fell asleep to dream of each other.
End of part five