Laura W's "time on your hands" speed-writing challenge on VAMB provided me with a needed fluff break from After the Ashes (next chapter coming in a few days).

For some, doing nothing comes at a price ... here's what happens when someone who isn't designed to sit still is made to live with naught but his thoughts. Warning: innuendo abounds, and thanks to Dax for letting me consult her on the rating. (This version has been edited a bit; the original was done in rather great haste.)

I still don't own anything relating to Star Trek, but the poem is in the public domain and hence mine to give to Tom, who seems to have need of it here.

Nothing But Time

By Alpha Flyer

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings …


He hasn't had this much time on his hands for years. Four and-a-half years, to be precise.

How often has he silently craved this – nothing to do, peace and quiet, a respite from the endless orders. None of this 'Warp Six, Mr. Paris!' crap; that perennial chestnut, 'Evasive Maneuvers, Mr. Paris!'; or his personal favourite, "Reduce power to thrusters, Mr. Paris!" (As if he doesn't know the optimal cruising speed of his ship, what to do when some alien thugs are trying to shoot holes in her, or how to handle her engines.)

He misses the flying, though. More than he wants to think about, now that he has more time on his hands than he could have ever wanted. Because, the problem is, time is all he has on his hands. Or in them. Or under them. His fingertips are itching for his console, to feel the vibrations of this ship that sings under his touch.

His fingers twitch, flicking at the seconds and the minutes as they drop by slowly, hurrying them on.

What he really wants to have on, or in, or under his hands right now, though, is B'Elanna. That coffee-and-cream skin, so soft for someone so tough. Her hair, robust yet silky, twirling through his fingers.

He spreads them now, his fingers, brushing both thumbs across them, imagining how they would dance over his lover's body, slowly, sensuously; swirling cool touches on hot flesh … getting hotter; goose bumps beginning to dot her skin, breath getting faster; her mouth opening to his, welcoming him in; that languid tongue dampening her lips, her darkening eyes inviting him to take his time before he would take …

Oh, damn.

He rolls over, turning both his flushed face and the growing evidence of his most recent train of thoughts to the wall.

Time to cool off.

Time to think of something truly boring, truly mundane. Aligning isolinear chips, yeah, that'll do. Pushing them into the slot, one by one, watching them disappear into …

No. Bad image. Bad.

Warp core. Yes. Better. Tall column of blue light, gazillions of kelvins of barely restrained heat and power, pulsating, thrumming, throbbing …

No, no, no, no, no. NO.

Time out!

He gets up off the cot and starts pacing. One, two, three, four, turn. Again. One, two, three, four, turn. Again. It isn't going to get any bigger, that cell, is it? He sits down on the cot again.

Shit. When the Captain had said "solitary," she should have bloody well meant solitary. Permitted him to actually have some solitude - as in, time alone and a modicum of privacy - for at least an hour or so a day. Hell, he'd take fifteen minutes. Five. Would that have been too much to ask?

When she sentenced him to those thirty days in the brig she could have left out the guards, bored and resentful, standing there at the console - supposedly keeping an eye on the never-changing levels of the force field he isn't stupid enough to touch anyway, but in reality with nothing better to do than to stare compassionately at the only prisoner currently doing brig duty.

Knowing her, she did it on purpose. Part of his punishment. Subtle, our Kathryn, and no fool. Oh, no. Knows him rather intimately, too – oh yes. Keenly aware of what his hands can do when he's not forced to sit on them. And maybe she's still just a bit resentful that he has found with B'Elanna what she's been denying herself for years now. He's seen the looks …

Give a guy thirty days and nothing to do but use his own vivid imagination, and what are you gonna get? Right. Exactly. Sooo – the Captain wants to make perfectly sure this is "punishment, not a vacation?" Easy-peasy. Add guards, twenty-four/seven, and you leave the prisoner shaking, unable to stir.

A new, unrecorded, unannounced, deeply personal level of punishment. Subtle, nasty, and so totally, totally Janeway.

For a while, Tom amuses himself by mentally composing a complaint, to be filed with the Starfleet Ombudsperson, and transmitted alongside the letter to his father: Prisoner denied use of hands. Prisoner deprived of opportunity to relieve tension. Prisoner refused the fundamental human right to …

Something occurs to him then. Denying a parched man a drink by his own hands is one thing. But pity the poor bugger she might some day really put the screws to, by using her own body – that small but luscious body, nice curves below the uniform (stop that, Paris!) – as a weapon when she wants something badly enough …

Nah. She'd never do that. Not prim and proper Captain Kathryn Janeway. Use her feminine wiles? Ha. A guy can dream, though.

No, he can't. We settled that, Paris.

And therein lies the rub. Or lack thereof. What's that crap about having "time on his hands"? He's doing time, alright. Sitting on his hands. Kahless, he is going loopy.

How much longer? What time is it, anyway? What day?

Door whooshing sounds. A diversion – yay! Time for Neelix' latest version of leola-root surprise? Even that is welcome some days.

No. It's Tuvok. What's Tuvok doing here?

"Rise and shine, Ensign. Your thirty days have been served."

He's kidding. He's not kidding. Time's up.

The corridor is bright, so bright, but his feet feel the ground more with each lengthening stride. One, two, three, four, five, six now …

The touch of his own, old-fashioned razor on his face is bliss. Had Janeway thought he'd use it to slit his throat when she denied it to him? Well, he might have been tempted, once or twice…

"Torres to Paris. Rumor has it you're free for dinner."

Oh, that voice. Honey on silk, with a touch of smoke. His head lifts, and he smiles at its echo in his soul.

"Gee, I don't know. Are you sure you want to be seen associating with an ex-con?"

"My quarters, 0700. That's an order, Ensign."

Oh, my. The purr is now … unmistakeable. How she can do this over an open comm line, with half of Engineering listening in, and get away with it is beyond his comprehension.

But perhaps only he can hear it, that purr, since it is for him alone.

"Yes, ma'am," he says, his own voice a caress, and a promise.

A promise he can keep - now that time and Tom Paris can fly again.


There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet's wings.

W.B. Yeats, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"