I got the memo. Nice of you to do it this way.
I want to tell you something, Kathryn. Then I want you to tell me how fucking happy you are they finally got married. You aren't and pretending to me is pretty useless. I know how he got a lieutenant's pips in your office and I know the marks of your nails in the wood of your desk is still visible to this day, though no one except me knows for certain why. They suspect though--but you know that.
It was a long time ago when I saw it and, ironically enough, we were eating dinner at the time. In the Messhall, together. We rarely did that--Tom had a certain sense of self-preservation that inclined him toward discretion on his biweekly fucking of the first officer. But it was one of those good nights, when whatever demons haunted Tom's mind were quiet and the sarcasm was friendly and didn't strike to wound. And he was beautiful, smiling over his dinner, throwing semi-obnoxious comments at Neelix that had too much of good humor to be cruel. He sparkled, he laughed, and the blue eyes were lit up from within and he could have been all of seventeen at that moment, every jaded memory and bitter nightmare locked somewhere they couldn't get out.
Just watching him was pure pleasure. Unconscious grace and flawless coordination, all wrapped up in a golden-skinned package that tasted just as good as it looked.
I did see it, though. Saw it when Tom didn't even know he was doing it, because as low an opinion as I sometimes have of his morals, Tom hurts those who love him only by accident. It was never deliberate.
She and Kim were two tables over, putting their trays down, and I watched the smile change, blue eyes cooling abruptly as he took her measure in one look that started at her feet and crawled upward in less time than it took for my hand to go numb clutching my fork. Then it was over, and he was looking at me again, giving me a wink before dropping his napkin on his plate and preparing to leave.
That night, I slept in his bed and wondered what was wrong with me, that I could read so much into a look.
He never lied to me--I'll give him that much. I don't know if it was because he cared so little or because it just never occurred to him that he could and I'd believe him because I wanted to so desperately. But he sat on his bed, sorting through his clothes, and told me he fucked Harry when he was feverish in an Akitarian prison and I knew why Harry was slinking around the ship looking like a kicked puppy and watched me with unfriendly eyes. He told me with the same voice and the same interest as he would have told me that Neelix was serving plomeek soup again.
He never does it deliberately. And I tell myself that when he drops his turtleneck on the floor and leans back onto one arm, letting me stare at him with that quirked smile, curving his lips, my mouth going dry not because of the weight he lost or the scar that couldn't be regenerated completely. The first time I had him in Sandrine's, he grinned like that, arms braced against the wall, whispering that his education in prison wasn't wasted after all. Afterward, he dressed and left me sitting there, staring at holographic wood and he never said a word.
But he let me in when I went to his door two days later, same cool, knowing smile that was a thousand years too old for the face it inhabited. Just like he did now, waiting patiently while I sorted through the hurt that I shouldn't feel, because Tom doesn't promise anyone anything and I accepted that.
He watched her again in Sandrine's, and I was at your table, Kathryn, trying to listen to your chatter on crew morale, but every time I looked at him, the blue eyes were fixed on her. All in red, heeled shoes I've never seen her wear before, she was drinking, which B'Elanna doesn't do, and that alone was enough to hold a lot of attention in the room. Why she was drinking was her own lookout, but I had a pretty good idea when she glanced back to look at him, eyes skittering away before they could meet, and she took another drink and let Harry put an awkward arm around her.
I watched him then.
It wasn't infatuation. I know that when I see it. It was simple and eminently non-threatening, a purely lust-driven appraisal which more than one person had gotten from him. So it wasn't something that should have made me nervous--I'd gotten looks like that from Tom before, stripping me naked in the middle of the Bridge when he should have been concentrating on something else. So I sure as hell shouldn't be worried, because it was only lust and because I didn't care anyway, Tom could fuck whoever he wanted.
He was drinking, which was a sign of Tom-ish demons having awakened, which meant that the next time we slept together I'd be visiting Sickbay with another holodeck safeties tale that the Doctor wouldn't even bother pretending to believe. He watched her get on the dance floor with cool interest, watched Harry fumble to get an arm around her, those soft brown eyes showing too clearly what he felt when he touched her. Tom counted the drinks, waiting for the right moment when she collapsed with a smile on the barstool because she forgot that she was being hunted.
Forgetting Tom had taken her six multi-colored liquors and it only lasted for as long as it took Tom to find her hand, pulling her out again, and by then she was too drunk to care. Sliding an arm around her, pulling her tight so she blinked, trying to clear her mind enough to recognize there was damned good reason why she kept that fifty feet and several tables distance between them, but Tom only grinned and slid his hand to the center of her back, spinning her so lightly that she probably didn't even know why he did it, just so he could feel her fingers on him, just so she'd lean against him for a moment, just so the brown eyes would widen when she could smell something on his skin that wasn't alcohol or sweat.
When she could feel with every inch of her body what he wanted and the smile that told her he was patient enough to wear her down so he could take it. And for some reason, she didn't believe he could wear her down. I know those smiles, those looks, those light touches, and that blatancy that is both flattering and frightening, because only then, only then, do you really believe that all the stories about his past are true.
And the funny thing was, she was drunk and she was getting high off the attention, off the smell of him, off the way he was touching her, and he deposited her back in her seat by Harry and left her there, dropping his glass in the recycler on the way out. And her eyes followed him all the way to the door, wide and dark.
It was different walking into his room at his casual invitation from within, knowing he'd just fucked someone else. It didn't hurt because I wasn't letting it, because he was just stepping out of the shower and the only evidence was the long brown hair on the rumpled bed. It wasn't B'Elanna and I don't know why that relieved me. It wasn't her, he didn't have her yet, and I shouldn't care if he did anyway, because he always let me in when I came to the door.
Though the symbolism that I always came to him was as obvious as the smile when he stood just inside the bathroom door, the towel circling his hips, the scent of another woman washed away from his body but the memories still filling his eyes.
Megan was only two weeks worth of effort and he took some satisfaction from that.
I stripped the sheets from his bed and he watched me do it, watched me find clean ones because I'd be damned if I'd fuck him on the same sheets he'd fucked Megan on. Then he stepped behind me, running his fingers down my back and I didn't move because when Tom does that, when he takes the time to indulge his tactile preferences, that means the demons are quiet and it won't be a night the regenerator comes out again. It means a night where he plays with me like a toy, takes all the delight of a child in the reactions he can get out of me, when it's like making love for the first time and is as far away from screwing as we are from the Alpha Quadrant. That's when I can let myself believe he cares, when I want to say something and know that saying it will shut him down into himself so fast I won't have time to remember what it looks like to see him as vulnerable and as young as he really is.
And he slid his hands down to my thighs, didn't undress me yet, taking his time feeling everything--when it gets down to bare skin and business, it'll be even softer, lighter, and I could swear sometimes he's never had a man before and neither have I, because it's so new.
He turned me, unfastening the uniform jacked and peeling it off with the same slow, lingering fingers that shouldn't have aroused me so much through layers of replicated cotton. And he grinned and he looked like he was seventeen and the whole world is still ahead of him. Then he pushed me down on the edge of the bed, and removed my boots, my socks, letting his hands linger on my ankles, nails slightly scratching at unweathered skin that tightened every nerve in my body. And he looked up and this was the only time I've seen him look this happy with nothing else behind his eyes.
It's slow--he slipped his hands beneath my arms and lifted them above my head as if I was a beloved doll, then slid his hands under my turtleneck, working it up slowly over my head, brushing his teeth over my chest, using the tip of his tongue to tease one nipple, and then throwing the shirt to the floor and sliding those long fingers into my pants and pulling them down so slowly, watching me twitch at his touch on my erection, lowering his head to take it in his mouth and making me gasp and run my fingers through that soft hair.
And while I stared at the ceiling and he played with me, I wondered why he looked like this tonight, when I'd never wondered before what puts him in these moods, because fucking Megan wouldn't do it. And I tried to think about it but he wasn't letting me, and when I came and gasped beneath him, I wondered what I was screaming, hoping it wasn't anything that will hurt me in the end.
It's hours later when I find the PADD under the bed where it had been kicked by chance, since it would never occur to him to hide it from me or anybody. It's a program and the replicator specs for a bat'leth and when I see B'Elanna in her quarters, I see it on the wall of her bedroom.
Sikari was older than human civilization if the natives are right, and its cities were once beautiful and I have another reason to hate the Borg.
I saw them in the turbolift--Tom as cool as ever, B'Elanna quivering like an arrow about to be released from a bow and it was amusing as hell, because I was the one that sent him to fuck her and it hadn't happened and a part of me was relieved but most of me was still worried.
After he came back to the ship, he checked on her in Sickbay and then was dismissed to his quarters to rest. I went to see him afterward and he only grinned and shrugged and didn't answer my unspoken question of why the caves hadn't finally driven the obsession out of him, why he didn't take her against a wall and finally let me have some peace. He looked tired and a little more than frustrated thanks to Vorik's interference, and now I have even more reason to dislike Vulcans than just Tuvok alone. I don't get the luxury of pretending I'm here to check on his welfare and he doesn't pretend that he's not more than ready to work some heat out of his body. He smells like her though, because he hasn't showered and he didn't get his face regenerated and I wish I didn't wonder why.
I wish I knew what he said when he came, because I know it wasn't anything in Standard.
They played in the holodeck with sharp objects and by now B'Elanna knew about Tom's little adventures on the side and didn't seem to care. She was confused and Tom kept her that way because he had never bothered to explain himself and she wouldn't ask. She even knew about me and nothing changed except she doesn't visit me in my quarters as much as she used to. I think she was afraid of what she'd find there, but if she could have ask, I would have told her that Tom has never entered them.
Harry moped and hated me because he lost Tom to me and for some reason I can't keep Tom away from B'Elanna. But he danced attendance on them both the way I didn't and I could only wonder how he managed it. And Tom was eating with them both but he flashed me a smile that stopped my heart and I knew it was an invitation that I pretended to myself I'd refuse.
B'Elanna saw it and she flushed and looked away and I began to wonder if I can share with her the way I've shared with every one of Tom's other screws.
I saw B'Elanna go out and Tom followed her, stalking with the same cool predatory interest he had in Sue Nicoletti last week. B'Elanna made her life hell in Engineering and I wonder if Sue cut to the chase faster because she knew Tom would lose interest the second he got inside her for a night. They were in the hall and I followed the Doctor to the door and when it opened I saw her against the wall and Tom lifting his head, the expression in his eyes veiled and a little amused when he saw me before I withdrew but not before he wiped his mouth lightly and watched her leave. I knew what he'd be doing tonight and knew it wouldn't be me.
I'm a sick old bastard, because I decided to watch. Never felt the temptation before, but I was as much caught up in the pursuit of the elusive B'Elanna as Tom was and had the notes to prove it. Call it sick fascination, but on ship he has never taken this long to get someone in his bed, male or female, and there has to be some satisfaction there for us both, because tonight its over and I'll sleep easy again without images of bat'leths and the Klingon dictionary on Tom's desk.
He had her standing still by the bed, and I recognized the posture, as he unbuttoned the top of her dress first, running his fingers only over skin that was covered, over her hip, across her back, making a tactile map to find what made her twitch, not really knowing that for those of us who get to fuck him, his presence alone is sometimes enough. She lifted her arms over her head and he pulled the dress off her, letting it puddle on the floor in dark crimson glory like congealing blood. Then he kissed her, cupping her breasts through her bra and I knew she thought he'd be rough, but I could see that mood wasn't the one that moved him that night, that he was a kid with the first girl he ever slept with and wanted to remember everything. Her hose only went to her upper thigh and he left her heels on her so they were close to the same height. He bent as he kissed her, one arm under her knees, lifting her up like a child and she didn't expect that either, and I could see the surprise in her eyes. She had an arm around his neck and was trying to speed up the festivities, but he was a kid with a new toy that does new things and he wanted to find out everything she can do and feel and be, what she tasted like and the smell of her on his skin. He placed her on his bed and I could see she had no idea what he wanted her to do.
She wasn't wearing underwear, and he touched her stomach, tracing the lines of muscle with the tips of his fingers, brushing his lips over her throat. Then, slowly, deliberately, he used his tongue to find the places his fingers had already marked as interesting. He used his teeth to pull the cup of her bra aside, pressing her legs apart around his and I wondered if she realized he was still dressed. Her eyes were closed. Then he started to see what every button on his new toy did, sucking her nipples while she panted and her fingers were strung through his hair, sliding down her body until his mouth was between her legs, lifting one heeled foot over his shoulder and studying the way she twitched when he used his tongue or a finger, how she jerked when he nipped her clit, and how to make her shudder. And she came, saying something that wasn't Standard and I wondered what she said and why Tom said it to me months ago. And I could see his eyes focus on her face, wanting to watch the expression in her eyes, memorizing the way she breathed and the sounds she made.
She came down slowly, quivering under his touch, and he watched her patiently, caressing the sweat-sheened face and running his fingers down her side. Her eyes focused on his for a moment and then she reached out, touching the buttoned shirt with one hand and she looked uncertain and B'Elanna Torres never looks uncertain.
"Anything you want." It was a whisper and he didn't smile when she sat up, slowly unbuttoning his shirt, brushing her nails against the bare skin, not meeting his eyes and he watched her do it, until the shirt is being gently pulled off and she didn't know what to do.
And I didn't know what he wanted this time either, because this wasn't anything I'd ever seen in his moods before and I'd thought I'd seen them all. She slowly kissed him and he kissed her back, opening his mouth after she did hers, following her lead, interest peaking when she got enthusiastic, unbuttoning the trousers and sliding her nails up his back. It made him quiver and her brown eyes widened suddenly, and I got a better view because this was new too, and in his most jaded and debauched nights I never knew Tom got hot when his skin broke.
That's when something in her smelled it on him and she pushed him back against the bed, pulling the trousers off, stripping the boxers away, teeth against his neck and his eyes close and I saw that shudder that I've never gotten out of him. She grinned when he rolled her on her back, her legs wrapping around his waist, those heeled shoes digging into his ass and he kissed her this time with something that doesn't come near childish curiosity, growling low in his throat and I caught that quiver again when he pushed all the way into her, making her groan into his mouth. He rode her hard, skin as flat against skin as he could get it, and that's when he rolled onto his back and was on his feet in one smooth, graceful motion and her concession was to tighten her legs around his waist and arms around his neck and I could see the long lines of blood on his back.
He braced her against the wall and there was nothing about it that came close to childish. It was rough and he was saying something into her ear that she probably couldn't even understand, flushed and sweating and breathing so hard I wondered if she was going to pass out. It went on forever and I found my hand sliding into my lap before I could think better of it and I had to stop myself because I'd be damned if I was going to come just from watching Tom with another woman. There was a smear of blood on his mouth from her neck and his fingers were leaving bruises on her hips and ass and she screamed when she came and finally, he did too. They almost collapsed before he let her down, leading her back to the bed and depositing her on it before sitting beside her, and there was more than interest there. She closed her eyes and he stroked the hair from her face, tracing his fingers through it patiently to remove the tangles. She's Klingon but she'd never had Tom before and she didn't even stir when he pushed her over and laid down beside her, head rested on one hand, studying her while she slept, blue eyes watching her face with an intensity that nauseated me, because apparently, Tom hadn't finished with her yet.
And it wasn't until Tom finally closed his eyes that I stopped watching and convinced myself that it didn't mean a damned thing.
It's all the time. Tom has an exhibitionistic streak that only surfaces under pressure or when something in his life starts confusing him, which isn't often--contrary to popular belief, Tom is pretty well-adjusted in his own way. I caught a view in a Jefferies Tube with B'Elanna on her knees and Tom leaning against the wall, finger digging into her hair. An upper engineering station got the honor of a quickie during beta shift rotations, and there were uncomfortable rumors of the Bridge that still makes my skin crawl when I look at your chair. I noticed that she began to wear red heels at irregular intervals off-duty and Tom watched her walk and followed her wherever she chose to go. And when she was on gamma and he slept, I studied the marks of those heels on his ass and back and the lines of her nails that he didn't regenerate completely, and when I fucked him I saw the marks of her teeth on his inner thigh and on the back of his shoulder, places I could only see when I undressed him and I knew she was telling me she was doing something for him that I couldn't.
I'm not sure what that is yet, and she's probably not sure either--the only one who has a clue never explains himself and lets it go at that.
He watched her all the time. Even Seven of Nine, who lasted all of five weeks before she got a crash course in humanity that Tom was perfectly willing to supply, couldn't keep him from watching B'Elanna at every opportunity and every time she wore heels I knew that was one night I wasn't going to have him, that no one else would either, that something about her locked him stationary and he couldn't move on, and every day I got a little less confident that he ever would.
I remember something, though--this is going to piss you off, Kathryn. But I'm only human. I watched their relationship disintegrate and kind of enjoyed it. It was after the Maquis announcement, I saw the look on her face, knew pretty well what was going on in her head, and watched Tom try to deal with it. It was funny--it was the first time he had no clue, but that's about the time he started showing up in Sickbay more often and played harder on the Holodeck with Harry. B'Elanna's heels were absent and when he watched her, there was a chill tension that wasn't there before and sometimes I saw the long fingers clench when she came into the briefing room and sat across the table, never looking at him.
That's when Tom suddenly and inexplicably did a few re-runs in fast succession and I'm not sure those involved ever really understood that Tom's own unspoken rule was broken when he went back for a second night, the rule he'd broken with only B'Elanna and me. One fateful morning I was half-asleep on the desperately boring beta shift and saw Harry wander in ten minutes late with an unmistakable look on his face. And suddenly, twice a week became four times a week and Tom didn't play with me anymore when we fucked and that little smile that makes you love him was gone.
And the blue eyes were never warm anymore and when they watched, they expected to be hurt.
That wasn't the part that scared me, though.
It was odd--it wasn't the sex itself that changed at all--it went on pretty much as always, with a few variations Tom picked up from B'Elanna and introduced without comment into the repertoire. It wasn't the enthusiasm, though Tom's enthusiasm had changed from almost innocent pleasure to driving and uncomfortable necessities. And watching him sleep, I saw that the heels no longer marked his ass and there were no nail marks on his back. But the bruise on his inner thigh was always there, her private message to me never changing and I could have hated her for that.
Still, he showed up in Sickbay at irregular intervals and without commentary got the bones fixed. When the Doctor started asking, he replicated himself an osteo and every night I was in his room I spent the first hour working patiently to put him back together.
No, what scared me were the PADDs--they were everywhere and they were programs and they were ones that required no safeties on the holodeck. And I knew who he was writing them for. I even knew why.
He never said a thing about it and I curled up in bed beside him and tried to figure out if the scenario was losing Tom either way. And I knew him as well as I knew myself, knew he was fragmenting himself into a thousand pieces right before my eyes in his own cool, distant way and you know what, Kathryn? That's the first time I admitted to myself that I loved him.
He was as addicted to her as any junkie on the street and I wanted to hate her for that, that she could do this to him and he wouldn't stop it.
So I fixed what I could and waited and one day, she was wearing heels again and Tom made love to me with his smile back and his creativity restored, and I curled up under his blanket and wondered why I felt like shit.
I was slow on the uptake, I recognize that. She wore the heels and Tom's obsession was bordering on stalking and when he watched her, I could see almost see the clothes stripped from her body. But to be fair, it wasn't noticeable, because Tom takes his extracurricular lovers irregularly anyway. It was shoreleave and he and Harry were in a bar and I went to watch a tall girl dance for him and him alone, silvery skin barely covered, silver heels on her feet, and so beautiful I felt my mouth go dry to look at her. She was staring at Tom as if hypnotized as he sipped his drink and I enjoyed watching his infidelity to B'Elanna with another woman.
It's the effect he has on women--that cool gaze, that small smile, the way he touches them. And he watched her dance, appraising her body, and then the blonde head tilted and he walked out.
He'd never done that before.
Later, I saw B'Elanna in engineering with lips curving to herself as Harry grumbled to her and I knew she'd just placed her first restriction on his access and Tom obeyed.
I never thought he'd obey anyone. But she looked at me in the Messhall one day when Tom came in, saw my eyes on him, admiring that graceful body as he went to the replicator. I saw her eyes fix on me and narrow.
It was only then I realized that she was almost ready. And that I didn't have any more time.
So Kathryn, he's wearing a ring and twice a week is down to nothing at all and I don't say anything because it was done so smoothly and so easily and B'Elanna wears heels every night to remind me. Just below the collar of his uniform I see the darkening bruise on his throat that is her public announcement to all and sundry that there won't be anyone else ever, and right now, as I'm writing this, I see her dancing in the Messhall at the reception the engineering crew threw for her, and Tom's shaking his head over his drink with a careless smile and his eyes never leave her at all.
I don't have a door to go to.
I saw that ring on her finger--I know what it cost me for him to put it there.
So yeah, I'm not thrilled.