First Blush
July 1998
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There's a blush for won't,
and a blush for shan't,
And a blush for having done it:
There's a blush for thought
and a blush for naught,
And a blush for just begun it.
--John Keats


Two elderly men sat enjoying a leisurely morning on the gently swaying porch swing. The older of the two still had a full head of salt and pepper hair that was more salt than pepper these days. It had been a longstanding joke between the two that the younger of them had lost the most hair. The second man still retained a snowy white crown of hair encircling his head but the summit was completely bare and prone to sunburn. The swing gave a loud creak.

"I thought you were going to fix that squeak," commented the older of the two.

"I am."

"Sometime this century?"

"Maybe." A wrinkled hand moved between them to clasp the other's hand. "Maybe a little incentive would help?"

The older of the two sighed in a put-upon manner but leaned over willingly enough to kiss his companion, feeling the other's lips part beneath his with familiar intimacy. They shared a comfortable moment of closeness in the morning sun. The younger man tried to heat up the kiss. The older one pulled back.

"You think a simple kiss is gonna get me on my knees to fix this squeak?" asked the younger of the two, his foot pushing against the faded wood of the porch flooring. His movement caused the swing's gentle sway to move into a rocking motion, which of course produced a loud squeaking protest.

"I'm an old man, Tom," the older one lamented in a tone that indicated this was a fallback position he frequently employed.

The younger man's reply indicated he wasn't buying it any more now than he had forty years ago. Rubbing a hand across his companion's fully-clothed groin and giving him a wicked smile, the younger one said, "I can think of better ways to get me on my knees."

The older man's shoulders shook with laughter and the look he turned on his companion was full of affection. "You'll never change, will you?"


Their morning tranquility was shattered by the loud banging of the screen door and the older of the two suddenly had a lapful of little girl, her brown hair in pigtails and matching eyes dancing. "Is Gramps being naughty again?" she asked, sliding a sly look at the other man, whose blue eyes were dancing in merriment.

Covering his amusement under a gruff exterior, the younger man, forced to snatch his hand from his lover's groin at the first indication that they were about to have company, grumbled, "I'm not old enough to be a grandfather."

Watching his lover fondly, the older man hugged the little girl to him and said, "Yes, Gramps was being naughty again, Lacey." He smiled at the snort he received from the man at his side.

Lacey turned to look up at her other grandpa, her eight-year-old face too wise for her years. "But Momma said you like it when Gramps is naughty."

The younger of the two old men sat up at that, shooting a triumphant look at his lover. The older man felt himself coloring under Lacey's intent stare. "Hah!" the younger one loudly proclaimed. "Two thousand seven hundred thirty-two to two thousand seven hundred thirty-one. I'm ahead again!"

"You made that up," accused the older man, laughter in his voice. "You lost count years ago."

The younger one shook his head in denial. "I know the score." He tapped his head. "Mind like a--"

"--blown warp core," finished the older one for him.

The blue eyes shot him a dirty look before leaning over to give his companion a loving kiss. In between kisses, he said softly, "First blush. Score 2,732 to 2,731. My favor."

Trapped between them and not minding a bit because it was her favorite place to be, Lacey asked, "What's first blush?"

The younger one leaned down to plant an affectionate kiss on the tip of her nose. "Ah, now, young Lacey, there is a story. Maybe you can get your grandpa to tell you."

Blue eyes not dulled by the years met brown eyes that could still smolder dangerously. A lifetime of love passed between them as they both remembered that first blush. Cradling Lacey between them, the older man began telling her the story of how Grandpa and Gramps came to be one, editing it, of course, for eight-year-old ears.

"It all began a long time ago on a planet called Verdana. Exactly forty years from this date in fact . . . ."

Tom Paris looked up when he felt eyes on him. His gaze was drawn across the room like a magnet to become riveted on the intense dark gaze focused on him. Curious blue eyes met unreadable brown ones. There was something in that brown-eyed gaze he hadn't seen before. Not willing to give it a closer look, Paris broke eye contact and let his gaze drift about the room.

The Verdanans had been more than hospitable to Voyager's away team. He, Chakotay, and Neelix had each been given his own large, private suite for the course of their stay. They had feasted on sumptuous foods, been entertained by the Royal Verdanan Musicians, been given the grand tour of the city, and been treated like nobles by all they met.

The negotiations for much-needed supplies for Voyager had proceeded almost too smoothly. Both Paris and Chakotay had been suspicious at the ease of the agreed-upon trade, but Neelix had assured them that the Verdanans were a gracious people and very giving.

Against his will, Paris felt his gaze being tugged back across the room to Chakotay's. Their eyes locked. Paris lost himself in those eyes for a few precious timeless seconds. With a mental shake, he withdrew but Chakotay still held his eyes captive. Paris stared. There was a light stirring in those usually indecipherable eyes. A flash of something Paris had seen in other eyes but never expected to see directed at him from this particular pair. Unsure what to do, he fell back on his flyboy persona. Giving the Commander a cheeky grin, he hefted the drink he held in one hand in salute before taking a short sip from it.

Even that small sip burned going down. What was it the Verdanans had called it? Milakai? Milakai apparently had no intoxicating effect on the Verdanans but it hadn't taken Paris long to figure that only a small amount of the drink would be inebriating for Humans. He had been slowly sipping his one drink all evening, careful not to get too carried away once he had realized the drink carried a strong kick. Even so, he could feel a slightly intoxicated buzz overtaking him. He was still in control and far from being what one would consider drunk, however.

Poor Chakotay, on the other hand, probably wasn't faring so well, thought Paris with a slight grin. He had been forced into several toasts with the Verdanans throughout the evening. Paris had tried to nonverbally warn him of the drink's intoxicating effect, but Chakotay had only been able to shrug helplessly as he had been drawn into yet another toast, his expression ruefully indicating he was very much aware of the potency of the drink. He seemed to be handling it all right though, thought Paris. He'd probably be a bear tomorrow morning though when the drink caught up with him. He made a mental note to try and not get on Chakotay's bad side tomorrow.

Paris was startled out of his musings when he became conscious of a presence right in front of him. He refocused, taken off guard to find the subject of his thoughts suddenly standing right in front of him. He hadn't even seen Chakotay move. The Commander's gaze raked up and down his body in a very suggestive manner. Paris swallowed nervously. Nope. No mistaking the light in those usually unfathomable dark eyes now. Lust. Pure and simple. For him. Who would have thought?

Certainly not me, thought Paris. His and Chakotay's relationship had always teetered on the edge of rudeness. Only recently had they developed an almost well-oiled working relationship, and Paris finally felt that Chakotay was beginning to trust him and maybe even respect him somewhat. Or, at the very least, respect his capabilities as Voyager's pilot and a senior officer.

His drink nearly slipped from nerveless fingers when Chakotay's hand reached out to gently trail his own fingers down the side of Paris' face in a sensual caress. A fingertip lingered over the pilot's lips, playing with the lower lip and watching in seeming fascination as the lips in question parted slightly in a breathless gasp of surprise. Chakotay's hand moved to the back of Paris' neck and pulled him forward so that their bodies were pressed together. Chakotay had a raging hard-on. Paris could feel it pressing against him and felt stirrings in his own nether regions in response.

His mind couldn't quite sort out if he was merely reacting to Chakotay's obvious aroused state or to Chakotay himself or a combination of both. Paris had always suspected he could easily be attracted to the other man, if he would only allow himself to be. There was a certain leashed sexual power about him that Paris was only now beginning to realize he'd like to see unleashed and that perhaps he'd like to be the one to unleash it.

Chakotay's lips hovered mere millimeters over his. Paris remained still as a statue, unwilling or unable to move. Their breath mingled. Then Chakotay's lips were on his in an annihilating kiss that tore down Paris' defenses with surprisingly little difficulty.

Taken by surprise, Paris remained passive for a long moment before his instincts kicked in and he started responding. It was unlike any kiss he'd experienced before. It was powerful and gentle at the same time. Soft and hard. Fire and ice. Paris found he couldn't pinpoint an exact feeling except to acknowledge that the surge of heat coursing through his body was potent and possibly lethal if he wasn't careful. When Chakotay's hand moved downward to cup his derriere possessively, Paris' senses returned in a rush. Breathing hard, he pulled back, keeping Chakotay at bay with a hand to his chest. He couldn't get Chakotay to release his hold, however.

"Chakotay--" Deciding a more formal approach might work best, he quickly amended his form of address. "Commander--" Chakotay's hands were staying busy, tracing a path over Paris' body that the other man couldn't help but respond to. The ability to speak seemed to leave Paris momentarily and his body swayed seemingly on its own volition toward Chakotay's. It's the drink, Paris told himself, knowing it for the lie it was. Squaring his shoulders, he gathered his rattled wits about him like a cloak before softly saying, "Chakotay, what are you doing?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Chakotay replied, his voice low and seductive and meant for Paris' ears only. "I want you." He moved in, nuzzling Paris' neck and nipping at an ear. Without thinking about it, Paris bent his head back to give Chakotay better access until he realized what he was doing and straightened abruptly, trying to pull out of Chakotay's embrace. Chakotay, however, refused to release him and Paris, not wanting to create a scene, subsided for the moment and stood within the other man's embrace, not wanting to admit how good it actually felt.

He sent a small frown in Chakotay's direction but Chakotay either missed it completely or was choosing to ignore him. Paris silently contemplated his situation. Chakotay was obviously intoxicated. Wasted. In orbit. Three sheets to the wind. Deep into his cups. However you wanted to put it, the plain simple fact was that Voyager's first officer was drunk. That still didn't explain the desire he saw in the other man's eyes.

Paris didn't think for a moment that even drunk Chakotay would make a pass at him unless there was a spark of something there to begin with, which meant -- Paris shook himself mentally. Don't go there, Paris, he told himself but couldn't contain the excited flutter in his pulse nor the answering jump in his groin at the thought that Chakotay might harbor some interest in him. It wasn't something he had ever considered since he figured it was so far outside the realm of possibilities that it wasn't even worth speculating about.

He rudely shoved thoughts of what Chakotay's behavior might mean aside. The one thing Paris was certain of at the moment was if they pursued this while Chakotay was in his current inebriated state the other man would regret it in the morning. Paris surprised himself with the thought that he might regret it too. He didn't want a spur-of-the-moment drunken coupling with the man. He wanted--

Paris slammed into a mental wall when his subconscious realized what path his thoughts were currently traveling down. Was he actually contemplating sleeping with Chakotay? He sighed. So there it was. Out in the open finally. Or at the very least some of the latent desires he had been denying were finally speaking loudly to him.

What an eye opener. He wanted Chakotay. Had wanted him for a long time. Just hadn't wanted to admit it. He refused to dig any deeper and see if there were more complicated feelings mixed in with that longing. He was fairly certain there were and he really wasn't up for any self-analysis tonight.

Paris grabbed Chakotay's roving hands and made a point of holding them away from himself. "Not like this, Chakotay. This drink the Verdanans fed us tonight is a little more potent than we thought." He stared long and hard into the eyes that continued to drink him in and hoped he wouldn't later regret what he was about to admit. "Talk to me in the morning," he finally said. "When your head's cleared. If you still feel the same way then maybe we have something to talk about."

Paris was becoming acutely aware of the roomful of eyes that were focused on the intimate moment playing out between himself and Chakotay. He'd never liked being on display. Not when he'd been young and his father had him on constant display at official Starfleet functions and not now. Even if it was basically a roomful of strangers, except for -- Neelix! Damn!

Paris' wide-eyed gaze flitted around the room until they came to rest on the Talaxian, who was staring at them with a grin of surprise. Neelix gave him a knowing wink. Paris closed his eyes and felt a sudden urge to bury his face in Chakotay's chest. Damn. This would be all over the ship in the first five minutes they were back aboard tomorrow.  He'd have to have a talk with Neelix, although he strongly doubted it would do any good. Neelix would somehow find a way to declare it good for ship's morale and deem it his duty as Morale Officer to spread the news. Burying a groan of embarrassment, Paris turned his attention back to Chakotay, who was attempting to mold his body to Paris' once more.

Paris took one of Chakotay's straying hands in his with the intention of removing it. Before he quite knew what was happening, though, Chakotay's fingers were twined around his in a gentle touch and Paris began thinking that perhaps Chakotay could give him lessons in the art of seduction. Aw, hell, thought Paris with a wild surge of adrenaline. In for a penny, in for a pound. He might never get a better chance.

He leaned into the other man and his lips gently touched Chakotay's. His tongue took a lingering exploratory trip through the warmth of Chakotay's mouth, savoring a taste that would most likely be his last, before reluctantly pulling back.

"Let's give our excuses to the Verdanan Proctor," Paris said, finally disengaging himself from the other body that seemed to fit with his so well. Pulling Chakotay along behind him, he added, "Then we'll get you to bed." Chakotay smiled. It was one of the rare wide-open dimpled smiles.

Paris shook his head as he attempted to regain control over his own body's response to the other man. "I'm not sleeping with you, Chakotay," he said under his breath. "Not tonight. Not when you've had too much to drink to know what you're doing." His own head was buzzing from the drink, and Chakotay had been forced to drink much more of the fruity concoction than he had.

Chakotay continued to smile widely and fondle Paris as they made their goodnights to the Verdanan Proctor. Clearly, Chakotay wasn't expecting a "not tonight, dear" once they got back to the privacy of their suites, thought Paris. He barely avoided jumping in surprise when the other man's hand rubbed gently over the rounded swells of his hindquarters and then proceeded to dip in between his legs to fondle the sensitive sacs there which were quickly being drawn up tight by a growing erection. Paris slapped at his hand, hissing at him to stop while keeping a careful eye on the Proctor and praying the Verdanan ruler wouldn't notice.

His face was still flaming minutes later after the rushed goodnights to the Verdanan officials, and Paris wasnít sure if the heated flush enveloping his body was due more to Chakotayís hands, which had continued to wander to inappropriate places for a public setting during their round of goodnights, or the feelings that the roving hands had roused in him. He leaned against the closed door of Chakotayís suite, breathing a sigh of relief at finally having  reached a safe refuge from prying eyes.

His eyes shot open when a body covered his, pressing him back against the door. Lips hungrily took his, invoking an involuntary groan of pleasure from deep in his throat. Paris reluctantly tore himself away from the warm presence, a voice within him loudly protesting and declaring its intent to throw itself back into the warm arms. Paris fought off the urge, however, and when Chakotay started to advance again, he held up a warning hand. "Back off, Chakotay. I told you. Not tonight. Talk to me in the morning if you're still feeling the same way. Maybe then I'll believe you."

Even in his inebriated state Chakotay could see that Paris meant what he said. He backed off, but not before raking his gaze over the obvious evidence of Paris' own arousal and then lifting his eyes to give the pilot a sorrowful look that Paris had no idea Chakotay was even capable of until that moment.

His gait unsteady, Chakotay tottered his way over to the door to the bedroom. The drink was obviously starting to catch up with him and his coordination was quickly falling by the wayside. He faltered for a moment at the bedroom doorway, falling against it, then he straightened himself up and entered the bedroom. Paris decided he'd give him a few minutes before checking on him.

He walked over to the windows of the suite that looked out over the Verdanan city. Staring blindly out at the twinkling lights and Verdana's gray blue moon, Paris' hand traveled upward to touch lips that had only moments ago been crushed by a kiss that had nearly been enough to send him over the edge and give in to Chakotay. He was finding it rather unsettling to discover the depth of desire with which he wanted to feel those lips on his again.

Pulling himself from the confused jumble of thoughts, he turned from the window and went into the bedroom to check on Chakotay. The Commander was sprawled face down on the bed sound asleep and still fully dressed. Passed out is probably more like it, thought Paris. He knelt down to remove Chakotayís boots. Knowing Chakotay didnít have an extra uniform with him, Paris undressed him down to his briefs, pausing a moment to let his gaze linger over the firm body.

When an image of he and Chakotay, legs and arms entangled and rolling around on the bed together in a flurry of sexual heat flashed through his mind, Paris jerked back as if burned by an unexpected flame. Shaking his head at himself, he quickly pulled the covers up over Chakotay and left the room, his body still straining in protest about the unfulfilled desires coursing through it.

He left the bedroom door open and turned to sweep the sitting room of the suite with a frowning gaze. He was unwilling to leave Chakotay alone on a strange albeit friendly planet in his current state. Eyeing the couch, he decided that was where he would be spending his night. Like Chakotay, he only had the one uniform with him so he stripped down to his underwear. With a blanket and pillow he had found in a closet, Paris settled down on the couch for the night and even the turmoil of confused thoughts and feelings couldn't keep him awake and he soon fell into a deep, restful sleep.

Chakotay awoke with symptoms he hadn't felt in ages. Cottony mouth, pounding head, sandpaper eyes. All the signs of a hangover. He slowly sat up on the edge of the bed, moving carefully when his pounding head protested. He twisted his head around a few times to work out some of the kinks then rose to his feet to make his way to the bathroom. There was a medkit in the bathroom kit that surely had something in it for a headache.

Minutes later he sighed with relief as the analgesic took effect and dared his first peek in the mirror. He actually didn't look too bad, considering. What had happened last night anyway? He remembered several Verdanan toasts, one right after the other, that he couldn't refuse. He'd consumed a large amount of the Verdanan drink in that first hour and thought he'd been handling it rather well, despite the obviously high alcohol content of the drink. Given his hungover state this morning and hazy memory, however, he had to wonder.

Chakotay stared at himself in the mirror, trying to remember the night before. The reflection's eyes met his, stared in confusion, then widened in shock when several vivid images flashed through his mind. Chakotay swallowed nervously as he replayed the images in his mind more slowly a second time.

Paris? Had he actually kissed Paris? Chakotay groaned aloud. Maybe, if he were extremely lucky, it was all a dream. It wasn't that he didn't want to kiss Paris -- the man was absolutely one of the most stunning creatures Chakotay had ever seen -- the problem was that he didn't want Paris to know he wanted to kiss him. The pilot would only laugh in his face. Too much water under the bridge between them for any hope of ever encountering anything even remotely resembling a sexual liaison between the two of them, Chakotay reasoned.

Still disturbed by the images, Chakotay stepped into the shower, hoping he could wash away some of the residue of the hangover and get a clearer picture of what had happened last evening. He prayed he hadn't made a fool of himself in front of the Verdanans at the reception. He knew upon first sip of the drink they had been serving at the reception that it had alcohol content but he had been obligated to participate in the many, many toasts the Verdanans had insisted upon making. The drink must have been a little more potent than he thought if he was having trouble remembering the events of last night.

It took only five minutes of hot water beating down on him to clear the cobwebs. An ancient curse he had heard his maternal grandfather utter upon occasion passed his lips in a soft groan of misery. He leaned his head against the wall of the shower as water continued to pound down upon him. He had kissed Paris. It hadn't been some alcoholic hallucination. Not only had he kissed Paris but he had kissed him in a crowded room during the Verdanan reception. Barely suppressing a groan of embarrassment, he quickly finished the rest of his morning ablutions. Snagging the robe off the back of the bathroom door, he secured it loosely around himself as he made his way back into the bedroom.

Chakotay rubbed a hand tiredly over his face as the memories from the night before started fitting together. He had propositioned Paris. He felt his face flaming at the remembrance of it. What in the world had gotten into him?

His eyes rolled comically in the next instant. The Verdanan drink, obviously. That was what Paris had said anyway. Chakotay stopped pacing, his brow crinkled in thought. Paris had turned him down. That wasn't much of a surprise really. What did surprise Chakotay was the realization that Paris had declined to take him up on his offer because he hadn't wanted Chakotay doing something in a drunken stupor that he would later regret. There had been real regret in Tom's eyes when he pushed him away. Chakotay began pacing again, his mind whirling with the possibilities and repercussions of last night's failed seduction.

He stopped pacing again. Had it been a seduction? It certainly must have seemed so from Tom's point of view. Chakotay's lips pursed thoughtfully as he remembered Tom's lips under his and how it had felt to have the other man's body next to his. He also recalled Tom's initial exuberant participation. So maybe it hadn't been so one-sided after all? he wondered, not even realizing that he had started thinking of the pilot as Tom rather than Paris.

What had Tom said to him last night? He heard the pilot's voice, soft and solemn and without that usual edge to it which seemed to only be present when he was addressing Chakotay, saying, "Not tonight. Talk to me in the morning if you're still feeling the same way. Maybe then I'll believe you." That hadn't exactly been an adamant no, had it? With that sudden realization, something resembling a smile crossed Chakotay's face for the first time that morning. In a matter of minutes, Chakotay did a compete turnaround, going from being appalled at his actions the night before to nervous anticipation that maybe it would all work out after all.

Exiting the bedroom, Chakotay pulled up short when he spotted Voyager's pilot fast asleep on the couch. He'd kicked off the blanket during the night and Chakotay had a very good view of Tom's body, clad only in briefs. His eyes lingered on the front of the underwear where indications of a morning erection were in ample evidence. Chakotay felt his body waking up at the sight of the nearly nude one before him. He tried to swallow over the sudden lump in his throat. He hadn't felt this nervous in years.

Breathing deeply to get himself under control, he pulled a chair up near the couch and sat watching the other man sleep as memories from the night before replayed in his head. His heated gaze following Tom around the room at the Verdanan reception. The moment when the blue gaze had lifted to meet his. The shock in that blue gaze when it comprehended what the dark one was communicating to him. The cocky salute with the drink. Chakotay had moved then. Quickly. One moment he had been across the room from Tom and the next he had been standing so close their bodies were nearly touching. And then their bodies were touching and those delicious lips had been under his, moving against his. Answering his.

Chakotay's eyes closed, his embarrassment at his indiscretions of the night before overcoming him. What would the Verdanans say? At least Tom had gotten him out of there before he had made an even bigger fool of himself. And what would Tom say? What could he say to Tom? What did he want to say? So many questions and no answers in sight.

Chakotay the man warred internally with Chakotay the commander. Tom could bring charges against him for his behavior the night before. Somehow, Chakotay had a sneaking suspicion the other man wouldn't do so.

Chakotay the man finally won the battle. He wanted to tell Tom that he still desired him. Wanted to take him for a lover. Wanted to feel his body beneath his. It seemed so simple, yet nothing had ever loomed so impossibly before Chakotay.

His eyes reopened to focus on the sleeping Tom Paris. He had been attracted physically to Tom for a long time. Practically since the first moment he had set eyes on him in the Maquis. His intense dislike of the other man had not ruled out the attraction but it had stopped him from acting upon it. The attraction had angered and frustrated him. He had detested everything Paris seemed to stand for back then.

Denying that attraction had become much more difficult in the past year. Tom had proven himself again and again since coming aboard Voyager, and in the past few months Chakotay had been seeing a much different Tom Paris than the one he had first met in the Maquis. Chakotay was no longer sure it was a simple sexual attraction he held for the other man. There surely must be something more to it for him to have made a pass at Paris in front of a crowded room last night. Even blind drunk, he wouldn't have done that unless his feelings and needs went deeper than mere sex. Deep enough to cause him to lose control.

Paris shifted in his sleep and Chakotay watched, mesmerized, as the long limbs rearranged themselves. Then Tom was settling back into an easy slumber on his back, one arm resting on his stomach, the other flung up above his head and legs sprawled loosely over the too-short couch. Chakotay's eyes roved over the plains of that face. If you looked closely, you could see the faint shadow of blond beard that blended with the fair skin. The cheekbones and nose seem to speak of aristocratic nobility. The high forehead which gave way to a slowly receding hairline that Paris seemed remarkably unconcerned about made Chakotay's fingers itch to touch the light wavy hair and run his fingers through it.

Chakotay still felt a bit stunned that Tom had turned him down last night in the manner that he had. He would have expected a response more along the lines of  a definite 'no, I'm not interested' but instead had received a definite maybe. The blue eyes that had been fixed intently on his last night had shown definite interest but there had also been a wariness in those eyes. A wariness of him. Of what had passed between them. Of past distrusts.

How badly did Chakotay want to overcome that? Did he want to lay it all at their feet for contemplation so they could move beyond it to -- what? To become lovers? Or were they both just looking for a simple one-night lay? Or a short-term affair to satisfy both their needs? Tom had been right last night.  He would have regretted it this morning if they had slept together last night. Chakotay wanted all his faculties in working order if -- when, whispered a devious voice in his head -- they slept together. He wanted to remember it. To enjoy it. He wanted to pleasure Tom and hear the man gasp his name and cry out for more.

Of its own volition, his hand reached out to trail gentle fingers over the plains of that sleeping face. The hand moved downward to rest on the chest covered with sprinklings of blond hair. He could feel the steady beat of Tomís heart beneath his hand and was quickly becoming lost in it when the sound of a throat clearing froze Chakotay in place.

"Good morning."

Chakotay's eyes slowly rose to meet Tom's, embarrassed at being caught. This is it, Chakotay, he told himself. Either you back off now and say no more or you pursue this. Which is it going to be? After he calmed the rapid beating of his heart, Chakotay heard himself return Tom's greeting, none of his inner turmoil evident in his voice.


Chakotay didn't remove his hand from where it lay resting on Tom's chest. His fingers moved as if they had a life of their own, playing with the springy hairs there. Tom's eyes widened slightly at that but he simply asked impassively, "How you feeling this morning?"

"Like I overindulged," admitted Chakotay. "That drink was a little more stimulating than I realized." On the word 'stimulating' Chakotay's fingers grazed one of Tom's nipples. Tom's breath caught in his throat but he still made no move toward or away from Chakotay.

"You weren't quite yourself last night," Tom admitted, a slight catch in his voice.

"I don't know about that," Chakotay said softly, surprising himself with his words. "I think quite a bit of myself came through last night."

Paris stared at Chakotay. The darker gaze refused to back down. Damn. The man was still giving him the eye, even with a clear head. Tom had thought once the cobwebs cleared that Chakotay would want to forget what had happened. Becoming painfully aware of the morning erection that was attempting to push its way out of his briefs, Paris pulled the blanket over himself and slowly sat up so that he was facing Chakotay, forcing him to abandon his gentle stroking of Tom's chest. Paris ended up with his long legs on either side of Chakotay's chair.

"What happened last night, Chakotay?" asked Tom carefully, having to struggle to keep the nervousness out of his voice.

Chakotay leaned in, a not quite suppressed predatory gleam in his eye. "I think I declared my intentions."


Chakotay leaned in closer. Tom found himself leaning toward him, meeting him. Chakotay's hand cupped Tom's face, a thumb gently caressing his lower lip. Their eyes met and held. "You told me if I still felt the same way this morning that we could talk about it." Chakotay's usually firm voice sounded unsure.

"Uh huh." Tom didn't think he was capable of a more coherent response at that moment. His whole body was aching with a yearning for this man. He was afraid to want it too much but afraid to deny it for fear of losing his chance.

Seeing the look in the other man's eyes and the way his body was responding, Chakotay decided, with uncharacteristic daring, to move full steam ahead and damn the consequences, certain he would pay for that later but not caring. "I'd rather show you." He moved in at warp speed, crushing Tom's mouth beneath his in a declaratory kiss. Tom's reply was every bit as fervent. Their mouths fused together, refusing to be parted. Tongues, surprisingly shy, met, touched, danced and became lovers as they both fell into the kiss.

Coming up for air, Chakotay pulled back. His one hand still cupped Tom's jaw, the other rested on his bare thigh. Both of Tom's hands were on Chakotay's shoulders, holding on as if that would keep him from falling into the whirling abyss of emotions Chakotay was stirring. Chakotay smiled. The man looked absolutely ripe for taking. Blue eyes bright with desire beneath sleep-rumpled hair. Lips swollen from the loving they had received and slightly parted as he panted for breath. A slight flush gave color to his face. Chakotay ached with the need to be closer to him.

"Damn," Tom breathed softly, trying to find his breath again.

Chakotay chuckled.

Tom stared at the man before him. One kiss. One devastating kiss and Chakotay had washed away any doubts he had about getting involved with him in a sexual relationship.

"Damn," he swore softly again, at a loss for what else to say before his brain finally clicked into motion again. He slid his hands underneath Chakotay's robe to gently knead at the broad shoulders. "We're going to do this, aren't we?"

"I'd say that's a distinct possibility," agreed Chakotay, his hand inching up Tom's thigh toward his groin and what lay in wait there. Then doubt clouded Chakotay's features and he pulled back. "You do want this, don't you?" he asked uncertainly, worried they were moving too fast.

For an answer, Tom pushed the robe off Chakotay's shoulders, only the belt keeping it loosely in place around Chakotay's waist, and then reclaimed the shoulders once more to pull Chakotay in for a kiss. Tom had wanted it to be an all-consuming mind-blowing kiss but something changed in one millisecond of movement and when their lips made contact he kept his touch gentle. It was a whisper of a kiss that would leave Chakotay wanting more.

Against the other man's lips, Tom said in a soft but harsh voice that still managed to convey a world of yearning, "Fuck me, Chakotay." Then he pulled the other man in for a soul-searing kiss that left Chakotay on the floor on his knees between Tom's legs and not remembering how he got there. A good place to be, thought a breathless Chakotay as Tom continued to hungrily consume him.

Tom's hands seemed to be everywhere. Fingers sensually grazed his face, shoulders, back, chest and kept moving downward across his stomach until the fingers were tugging impatiently at the belt of the robe. Chakotay made encouraging noises as the robe fell away, baring him to his soon-to-be lover. Then the hands found him and Chakotay lurched back at the sudden sensations flowing through him. Only his own hands, holding onto Tom's thighs, kept him up on his knees as those wonderful hands at first gently cradled him and then moved to fondle him. A separate part of Chakotay couldn't help noting that apparently those fingers were as nimble elsewhere as they were on the helm before he gave himself up to those hands and the exciting vibrations they sent shuddering through his body.

"Tom!" he finally gasped.

"Hmmm?" Tom's lips nuzzled his neck, prompting Chakotay to arch back to give him better access, which brought his erection forward toward Tom.

"You're over . . . dressed!" With that proclamation finally uttered, Chakotay tore himself away from those delicious hands and the warm lips and tongue and rose to his feet. His bobbing erection was still in easy reach of Tom's questing hands but Chakotay pushed the hands away and thrust Tom back against the couch. He reached down with one swift motion and yanked the dark briefs off the other man.

Capturing Tom's ankles in his hands, Chakotay held the long legs aloft, his thumbs caressing the ankles lovingly. As Chakotay slowly lowered himself to his knees once more, Tom let his legs slowly settle on Chakotay's shoulders until Chakotay knelt between his spread legs. His hands stroking Tom's thighs and hips, Chakotay leaned forward, one hand abandoning a thigh to assist his mouth in the capture and defeat of Lieutenant Tom Paris. His tongue darted out in teasing touches along the tip of Tom's erection and he felt the other man jerk in pleasure as he continued to plant soft kisses with lips and tongue along it.

Tom's hands reached behind his head and found the back of the couch. He grasped it tightly and pulled himself back, further elevating his groin as he offered himself to the other man. Tom threw his head back as he struggled for some semblance of control. He wanted this to last. He didn't want it to be over too quickly.

Chakotay's other hand moved to stroke his own erection as he continued to suckle at Tom's. His erection grew harder at the sound of Tom's uninhibited gasps. Chakotay's mouth moved up and down the length of Tom's hardness and then abandoned it altogether to gently fondle his balls, sucking them one by one into his mouth in a warm caress. Tom's body spasmed madly.

"Chakotay!" Tom cried in warning.

Chakotay backed off, not wanting Tom to come until they were both ready. He left Tom's nether regions alone for the moment and leaned up to kiss him, taking his time at exploring the willing lips and mouth. Tom's legs slid down to fall bonelessly at Chakotay's sides. Chakotay continued to stroke his own erection, batting Tom's hand away when he made an attempt to assist.

"No," Chakotay murmured as his lips moved in a slow deliberate trail down Tom's neck to his chest. "Not this time. This time's for you. Let me  give you this." It was suddenly incredibly important to Chakotay that he be allowed to give Tom this -- to pleasure him. His whole universe, for this one moment in time, was focused solely on Thomas Eugene Paris and bringing him pleasure.

Tom thought he would go mad from Chakotay's touch. He hadn't felt this alive in what seemed like centuries. Another part of him couldn't believe he was here with Chakotay doing this but it felt so good. So right.

"Cha -- ohhhhhh!" he gasped when those lips found a particularly vulnerable spot. Apparently Chakotay understood the plea for Tom felt himself being slid to a reclining position on the couch and realized with a start that his eyes were closed. Opening them in time to see Chakotay's bare ass disappearing into the bedroom, Tom felt a momentous letdown. Chakotay had obviously come to his senses and realized he was about to have sex with Tom Paris ex-Starfleet, ex-Maquis, traitor. He lay on the couch, unmoving, feeling the abandonment far deeper than he wanted to.

"Got it."

Tom's startled gaze flew to the bedroom doorway to see Chakotay, small bottle in hand, heading back his way. Chakotay joined him on the couch. "Now, where were we?" he asked, completely unaware of the fragile crack in Tom's defenses that he had inadvertently reopened and which was now refusing to slide shut again. He popped the lid off the bottle and Tom realized it was a bottle of massage oil. Chakotay hadn't abandoned him after all and he felt unaccountably overjoyed by that.

Sitting up, Chakotay between his legs, Tom grinned as he took the bottle from Chakotay's hand and poured the oil into his own palm. Rubbing his hands together, he took Chakotay's erection between them and massaged the oil over him in stroking motions that elicited groans of satisfaction from the other man. "I think we were right about here," Tom told him.

"Here is a good place to be," agreed Chakotay breathlessly, eyes closed in ecstasy.

Long-fingered hands once again found his shoulders and pulled him in. Going willingly, Chakotay responded passionately when lips found his. After several minutes of fighting for supremacy of the kiss, Tom finally said softly against Chakotay's lips, "Now, Chakotay. Now."

Chakotay didn't wait for another invitation. He pushed Tom back down on the couch and tugged at the other man's hips, pulling Tom toward him until his rear end was resting on his thighs. Tom's long legs somehow managed to find their own way to Chakotay's shoulders. Anointing his finger with the massage oil, Chakotay gently traced the rim of the puckered opening between Tom's cheeks. He slowly worked the finger inside, watching the expression on Tom's face as he did so.

When Tom's eyes opened, Chakotay felt as if he had been hit by a wave of blue heat at the obvious need and arousal in that gaze. He leaned over for a kiss, which Tom gladly gave him. Then Chakotay was pulling back to kneel once more between Tom's legs. A second finger joined the first, grazing a certain spot within Tom that caused him to writhe madly. Chakotay stilled his own movements, not wanting Tom to come too soon. It wasn't long before a third finger joined the other two and then Tom was pushing against him.

"More, Chakotay!"

Pulling out, Chakotay quickly pressed himself up against Tom's opening before the other man had a chance to cry out at the sudden loss and began pushing his way inside the tight canal ever so slowly. Tom, however, had other ideas. He was no longer in the mood to take this slowly. He pushed against Chakotay with a sudden lunge and Chakotay felt the warm tightness embrace him. They both cried out at the unexpectedness of it.

Tom felt a momentary burning. It hurt. But there was a sense of fullness that overrode the burning sensation. They both stilled for a long moment, adjusting to the newness of their union, until Tom moved, his body telling Chakotay he was ready. He opened his eyes to find dark smoldering ones watching him. Their eyes communicated silently as Chakotay began moving, gently at first. Tom's hand snaked between them to grasp his own erection and he began pumping it in time to Chakotay's thrusts.

"Faster," Tom panted.

Gritting his teeth against the cries of pleasure that wanted to escape, Chakotay quickened his movements. Then, unable to hold back any longer, he slammed harder and harder into Tom until they were moving together rapidly in an unrestrained burst of frenzied motion. He gave up on holding back and his lips parted to give way to an inarticulate cry of pleasure.

Tom fell over the edge first, climaxing with a yell. His orgasm caused him to tighten around Chakotay, which sent Chakotay right over the brink after him. Tom's rapt gaze refocused on Chakotay barely in time to see the orgasmic ecstasy wash across the other man's face. God, but the man was really something to behold. Tom rode it out with Chakotay, longing to hold the other man in his arms as he shuddered from the intensity of the climax. His wish was fulfilled a minute later when Chakotay collapsed bonelessly onto his chest.

They lay together in stunned silence until Chakotay, his erection softening, slid from Tom's body. Even then, they didn't move. Not a sound could be heard in the room except the sounds of their labored breathing. Tom's fingers brushed soothingly over the firm body atop him while Chakotay slowly climbed back from the abyss of euphoria. Tom felt completely sated with the warm afterglow of their lovemaking and perfectly content to lie here for the next decade or so.

Chakotay's whirling mind finally calmed down so he could think coherently. He remained stretched out atop Tom, his face tucked into Tom's neck. He almost purred aloud when Tom's hands began stroking up and down his back and his attention was definitely captured when those hands stretched down to caress his buttocks, fingers sliding in and out of the crevice there.

Chakotay raised his head to peer at the blue eyes, now heavily lidded with the afterglow of their activities. Unbidden, his thoughts spilled out in a voice slightly hoarse from the euphoric cries that had been ripped from his throat only minutes ago. "You're very beautiful, you know that?" He watched as Tom's eyes widened in surprise and then a deep red blush suffused the pilot's face.

Chakotay pulled himself up Tom's body so he could reach the inviting lips and Tom's mouth opened beneath his like a flower welcoming the morning sun. They kissed gently, playfully, for a few moments before Chakotay pulled back far enough to see his lover's eyes. He smiled, dimples threatening to appear. "What's the matter? No one ever called you beautiful?"

Tom shrugged, his eyes sliding away in a delightfully shy way. "Not exactly." He was silent for a long moment then seemed to come to some sort of decision. When his gaze slid back to Chakotay's it still held hints of the pleased embarrassment but there was a provocative come-hither mixed in with the embarrassment now that drew Chakotay in. A capricious grin lighting his face, Tom said, "All right. First blush goes to you. Now it's my turn."

Before Chakotay had a chance to comprehend the current state of affairs, Tom had slid out from beneath him, leaving Chakotay lying facedown on the couch. Then Tom was straddling his back, sitting lightly perched on Chakotay's legs just below his rear. Hands massaged his shoulders and back, moving lower and lower until they rested on the firm buttocks of his lover.

Chakotay felt Tom's breath on the back of his neck as the other man bent down over him, kissing his way down and then up Chakotay's back before whispering, "How do you want it, Chakotay?" A shiver of anticipation coursed through Chakotay at Tom's whispered words. Tom meant to have him and Chakotay wanted nothing more than to be taken by him. Tom's hands kneaded his buttocks, pulling them slightly apart to trail a questing finger down the crevice to the puckered opening. Chakotay sighed in contentment.

"Any way you want, Tom." He turned his head in invitation and Tom leaned over him to brush Chakotay's lips with his own. "I trust you," Chakotay told him softly. He felt Tom go completely still for a moment as if taken by surprise. When he replied, however, his voice was filled with delight and Chakotay could hear the grin in the one-word reply.


Chakotay felt a momentary hesitation for what he was letting himself in for. Then Tom's hands and lips were moving over his body and he gave himself up to the other man, his trust in Tom complete.

Tom hadn't been able to contain his surprise when Chakotay had said he trusted him. Something inside him had eased with those words. A wariness that had forced distance between the two of them broke loose at that moment and Tom was flooded with tender feelings for this man who had managed to touch him where nobody else had before. The feelings were so overpowering he felt as if they would burst out of him. Instead, they settled down into a special place in his heart, overriding all the mistrust and anxieties of their volatile past and soothing him with a gentle balm of deep caring that warmed his heart.

Tom didn't stop to study these new emotions. There would be time for that later. He let his touch speak for him as he moved over Chakotay's body in loving strokes, delighting in every small whimper and groan from the man who lay completely submissive beneath him.

He gentled Chakotay into readiness until the other man was writhing under him. A tender touch of his hands to Chakotay's hips was all the incentive Chakotay needed to rise up to all fours and push back impatiently against Tom. Neither of them said a word. The silence was filled with loving touches and gasps of pleasure as Tom slowly eased his way into Chakotay.

Breath erupting harshly from a gasping mouth, Tom struggled to maintain control and allow Chakotay to catch up to him. Then the other man was pushing back against him. One hand moved in sensual motions over Chakotay's back as Tom began thrusting into Chakotay. It wasn't long before the hand slid around under Chakotay to take his erection in hand and begin pumping it. Chakotay's movements became more abandoned and desperate. Tom's thrusts grew harder and deeper until he felt Chakotay spilling over his hand, crying out as the orgasmic wave rolled over him. With one final thrust, Tom felt himself coming and his mouth opened in a wordless cry of satisfaction.

Chakotay collapsed downward, shaky arms refusing to hold him. Tom followed him downward to collapse in a self-indulgent sprawl over the other man. When his heartbeat slowed to a more normal rate he moved to withdraw from Chakotay but the other man's hand found his hip and made a staying motion.

"Not yet," Chakotay whispered. "Stay. Please."

Tom's hand found Chakotay's and they lay, fingers intertwined, until Chakotay could no longer hold onto Tom's softened penis. With a groan of disappointment, the two men parted.

Tom rose in slow motion off the couch, muscles protesting the excessive activity. "Stay there," he told the other man. "I'll be right back." He padded into the bathroom, wet a towel with warm water and returned to Chakotay who still lay facedown on the couch and appeared to be completely insensate. Tom gently cleaned Chakotay with the warm towel. Nudging the other man to his back, Tom finished the job then leaned in to kiss the slightly parted lips.

"Umm," was Chakotay's only comment before becoming a more active partner in the kiss.

They finally pulled apart, but Tom stayed on his knees beside the couch as they gazed at each other, both their expressions admitting it was now time to talk. Both opened their mouths at the same time only to be interrupted by a knock on the suite door. They froze, two pair of eyes widening alarmingly. They had been so wrapped up in each other they had forgotten about the outside world. Chakotay was the first to recover. He jumped to his feet, thrusting Tom's clothes and blanket and pillow in Tom's arms and shoving him toward the bedroom.

A second knock sounded on the suite door accompanied by a voice this time. "Commander?" came Neelix's puzzled voice from the other side of the door.

Chakotay gave Tom another shove toward the bedroom while he struggled into his robe.


"Not now, Tom."


"Just get in the bedroom and don't come out until I say so."

"Yes, sir," Tom replied, smarting from the abrupt dismissal. After all, all he'd wanted to tell Chakotay was that Neelix already knew about them or at least what had happened at the reception last night. Then his sense of humor took over and a grinning Paris disappeared into the bedroom. He stopped just inside the bedroom door to listen.

Tightening the robe's belt, Chakotay let Neelix in.

"Is everything all right, Commander?" asked the concerned Talaxian.

"Everything's fine, Neelix. I just, uh, I overslept, is all."

Neelix took in the Commander's rumpled appearance. His nose twitched and he moved a little closer to Chakotay. "Commander, I don't mean to be rude, but it might be a good idea if you were to shower before your final meeting with the Verdanan Proctor this morning. You're exuding a rather interesting scent. Not entirely unpleasant, mind you. Rather musky, in fact."

"Neelix," Chakotay interrupted, hearing muffled laughter quickly stifled from the direction of the bedroom.

"Yes, Commander?"

Chakotay found himself at a loss for what to say but Neelix filled in the silence for him. "Commander, you haven't by chance happened to have seen Lieutenant Paris this morning, have you? He doesn't seem to be in his room. He wasn't there last night either."

Chakotay felt the heat rising to his face and cursed the damning blush that followed. "He, uh, spent the night here." His blush deepened when he realized how that sounded. Chakotay was caught unprepared by the knowing grin that spread over Neelix's face.

"I see," was the Talaxian's unexpectedly noncommittal answer, but the huge smile on his face told a different story. It was at that moment that Chakotay realized that not only had the Verdanans present at the reception witnessed his behavior with Paris last night but so had Neelix. He felt his face go slack with shock but he made a quick recovery.

"He slept on the couch," Chakotay archly informed the Talaxian. "He was concerned I had had a bit too much to drink."

"That milakai they were serving was rather strong, wasn't it?" agreed Neelix, his gaze sliding to the couch in question. "I'll have to see if I can get some for Voyager's stores seeing as how you're so fond of it, Commander," he finished as he walked to the couch to sniff suspiciously at a stain on one of the cushions.

Damn, damn, damn! Chakotay cursed silently. He couldn't win for losing. Even Neelix heard the muffled chortle of laughter from the bedroom this time before the sound of the shower being turned on covered it.

Neelix started to speak but the stern visage the Commander was presenting him with seemed to forbid it. Settling for a shrug, the Talaxian moved toward the door. "Shall I tell the Proctor you will be down shortly to conclude our business here, Commander?"

"Yes, Neelix. Give me twenty minutes or so, all right?"

Nodding, the Talaxian let himself out. Chakotay made straight for the bathroom, shedding his robe as he went. He climbed into the shower behind Tom with every intention of giving him a good dressing down for not warning him but found himself, instead, with an armful of lanky pilot rubbing sensually against him. Sighing as he realized this was one battle he was not going to win, Chakotay turned to the shower wall, pillowing his head in his arms. Tom's fingers kneaded the tense muscles in Chakotay's back.

"The score's even now," Tom finally ventured.


"First blush. You blushed when Neelix asked where I was."

"I did not."

"Did too."

"How could you tell?"

"Geez, Chakotay, I could feel the heat radiating off it all the way in here."

Chakotay had a sudden urge to throttle the other man but settled instead for pulling him around to trap him between his body and the shower wall. He then proceeded to shut him up with a series of kisses. When they came up for air, Tom grabbed the bath sponge and soap and began working it over Chakotay's body, working up a lather in more than one way.

Presenting his backside for Tom to clean, Chakotay asked, "You knew?"

"What? That Neelix saw you pounce on me last night?" There was barely contained laughter in Tom's voice.

Chakotay winced. "I wasn't that bad, was I?"

"Much worse," Tom consoled him. "Everyone seemed to take it in stride though. And, you know, none of the Verdanans seemed to be offended by it."

"Small favors," muttered Chakotay.

"What was that?"

"Nothing." He turned and grabbed the bath sponge from Tom and returned the favor of giving him of soaping him up and rinsing him off. Tom tried to move in closer for a kiss but Chakotay pushed him away. "We've got to meet with the Verdanans in a few minutes and then we'll be beaming up to Voyager. This will have to wait for later."

Tom frowned, unsure what the 'this' was that he referred to. Shrugging, he stepped out of the shower, quickly toweling off and getting dressed. Chakotay followed suit, and minutes later they found themselves with Neelix and the Verdanan Proctor.

Their business was quickly concluded and they soon found themselves back aboard Voyager. The Proctor hadn't said a word about their behavior the night before. He had only given Neelix an understanding look and then both Verdanan and Talaxian had turned their attentions to the business at hand, leaving both Tom and Chakotay wondering what exactly Neelix had told the Proctor.

Once aboard Voyager, Tom and Chakotay had resumed their stations on the Bridge as they prepared to leave orbit around Verdana. Neelix had accompanied them to the Bridge for a final farewell to the Verdanans.

Janeway stood, Chakotay joining her, as the Proctor appeared on the forward viewscreen. Inclining her head slightly, she greeted the Proctor. "Proctor Sylas."

"Captain Janeway. I am gladdened we were able to trade with you but regretful you must depart so soon."

"We still have a long way to go before we get home, Proctor." Janeway smiled to soften her words.

"Of course." His gaze turned to Paris at the helm and then floated on to Chakotay at Janeway's side. "Gentlemen, may you continue to share in your pleasures."

Janeway saw both men start at he Proctor's odd choice of words. Paris turned from the helm to glance back at Chakotay and knew the Commander's blush was mirrored on his own. Turning back to the helm, he muttered, "First blush: two-two."

"Lieutenant?" quizzed Janeway, puzzled at her first officer and pilot's strange reactions.

Without turning, Paris responded, "Nothing, Captain. Just a running tab the Commander and I have going."

"I see," was Janeway's only comment although she clearly didn't see at all.

"Neelix," continued the Proctor, "you received the additional supplies you asked for this morning?"

"Yes, Proctor," replied Neelix. "Thank you for filling a last minute request. Had I known the Commander would be so fond of the milakai you served at the reception last night, I would have requested a supply of it earlier."

Paris twisted in his seat once more to stare at the Talaxian, trying to decipher if his leg was being pulled. The Proctor's next words confirmed it for him.

"Of course," agreed the Proctor with a smile. "I believe Lieutenant Paris enjoyed the aftereffects of the Commander's indulgence in the milakai, if I'm not mistaken."

Janeway saw Tom's eyes fly to Chakotay's. There was an alarming twitching of his lips and then Tom was turning back to the helm, shoulders hunched as he concentrated on the helm readouts. There was definitely a story here, Janeway decided. She would have to worm it out of Chakotay later. Failing that, she had a hunch that Neelix would be more than happy to fill his captain in.

Focusing once more on the forward viewscreen, she made their farewells. "Proctor Sylas. We thank you for your hospitality." Chakotay inclined his head in the Proctor's direction but made no move to speak. He wasn't sure he was capable of speech at this point.

"Safe journey," bid the Proctor before he vanished from the screen.

"Mr. Paris, take us out of orbit," commanded Captain Janeway. "Resume our heading for home.  Warp Six."

"Aye aye, Captain."

Voyager gracefully slid out of the Verdanan orbit. Her nacelles pulled up and she vanished in a bright flash of light.


"And then what happened?" asked Lacey, looking up at her two favorite people in the universe.

"And then we fell in love," said Grandpa softly. Lacey watched as he made goo-goo eyes at Gramps and Gramps made goo-goo eyes back. Rolling her eyes at the adults, she said, "If you're gonna get all mushy, I'm gonna leave." She scrambled down from the swing and jumped off the porch, heading for the barn in the near distance, which housed her current interest -- a new litter of kittens.

The older man leaned into the younger one, who wrapped an arm around his companion's shoulders. "Happy anniversary, Chakotay."

"I thought you had forgotten."

"Me? The one with a mind like a--"

"--blown warp core."

They both chuckled at the old joke.

The older one turned his head to seek out the younger one's lips. "Happy anniversary, Tom. And you know what?"

"What?" asked the distracted younger one, whose hand had once again crept to the older one's groin.

"You're still damn beautiful."

The younger one felt the telltale signs of a deep blush starting. Giving in, he said, "You're still pretty quick for an old guy."

The swing gave another loud creak.

"And you still need to fix the squeak in this swing."

"Not 'til you get me on my knees, old man."

"I think that can be arranged." The older one was still fairly limber for a man in his eighties, something the younger one attributed to an active sex life. He was moving to undo the younger man's pants when a their granddaughter's scandalized voice exclaimed, "Now you're both being naughty!"

They pulled apart quickly, both their faces heating up as they stared at Lacey, who was giving them an indulgent smile reminiscent of her mother's. Their gazes switched from their granddaughter to each other.

"Two thousand seven hundred thirty-three," they recited together and grinned.

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