Love's Labor Multiplied

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Tom Paris had faced death many times: at Caldik Prime; in the Badlands; in that Akritirian prison. Then there was that mission to expose Michael Jonas. Then he'd nearly died floating in the dead of space, he and B'Elanna Torres clinging to one another as their environmental suits slowly leaked oxygen. And his attempt at transwarp flight had literally "killed" him. Tom was well acquainted with the possibility of death...but never more so than at the moment Chakotay walked in, catching him with Kathryn Janeway sitting in his lap. Because even if Chakotay wouldn't kill him...he'd want to, and the feeling would be mutual where Tom was concerned. Having Markwell and Barelli spreading rumors about him was one thing --having Chakotay walk in on him and the Captain ... this was another thing all together. This was going from bad to worse at warpspeed.

Tom jumped up so quickly, Kathryn fell off his lap and the floor with a soft thud, and Tom grimaced as her derriere made contact with the ground. Some other Tom Paris somewhere was probably going to pay for that...but right now he had to worry about *this* Tom Paris.

Janeway yelled "Tom!" indignantly, just as Tom was raising his hands in a conciliatory manner.

"Chakotay, I *swear* this isn't what it looks like!" Chakotay was just standing there, blinking. "Chakotay?" Tom neared the larger man wearily, becoming anxious. What if the big guy just keeled over right then and there? If seeing Kathryn with him wouldn't do it, nothing would.

"Chakotay?" he asked, worried, waving a hand in front of the Commander's eyes, and then jumping back in a flash when the other man finally tore his eyes away from the Captain to look at him, glaring daggers. Tom's hands went right back up. "Chakotay, listen, I..."

"No need, Ensign. I'm sorry I interrupted you. But if you don't mind, there's something rather important I think I should be discussing with the Captain right now."

He turned his dark, wounded eyes back to a puzzled and thoroughly annoyed Kathryn and Tom was sympathetic. He hated to see that look on Chakotay's face. The thought that the Captain would be with anybody else after all this time...well, everyone on the ship knew about the Commander's feelings for his Captain - everyone, that is, except perhaps the Commander and the Captain, themselves. Then Tom's sympathy retreated behind surprise.

The Commander wasn't going for his throat, wasn't even saying anything scathing. Wasn't he going to do anything? For Kathryn? For Tom's wife? Perhaps this was an alternate-universe Chakotay as well... The thought froze Tom in his boots.

"Oh, man, you're not going to kiss me, are you?" he lamented. And the Commander's head came whipping around.


"What?!" echoed Janeway, striding up to where the men were standing.

Tom breathed a sigh of relief at the look on the Commander's face. Oh, good, he wasn't going to kiss him...he was just going to beat him to a bloody pulp. Wonderful.

"Oh, nothing," Tom muttered, wondering if he could somehow laugh off the embarrassment of the situation before Chakotay could crush his windpipe. Perhaps this wasn't another Chakotay after which case that whole kissing comment wasn't going to make life around here very easy. If he lived.

"What's the meaning of this?" Janeway demanded.

"I think you and I should discuss this...alone, Kathryn," said the Commander. And "Janeway" looked startled when he called her Kathryn. Chakotay turned back to Tom with his deathly glare. "And I think you should have a little talk with your *wife*, Ensign," he said, the unspoken half of the sentence, "before I do", clear in his expression.

Tom swallowed hard.

Chakotay wasn't going to kill him, after all.....he was just going to let B'Elanna do it. Yippee. Tom tugged at the collar of his uniform. He'd never known Chakotay had a cruel streak.

"Your *wife*!!" Janeway suddenly exclaimed. She looked from Tom to Chakotay.

"What the hell are you talking about?" And Chakotay frowned.

"What do you mean, what am I talking about?" Tom sighed and shook his head.

"It's a long story, Commander."

"And you'd better start telling it, *Ensign*," said the Captain. Tom looked at Chakotay's puzzled expression, and the Captain's furious one. Where would he start? And then he didn't have to...because the doors to the ready room suddenly slid open. 'Who now?' Tom thought, and then he turned and saw.... To be continued