People keep asking us if Tom's memory comes between us. Chakotay would say no. It's closer to "yes and no." He doesn't call out Tom's name and he stopped comparing us a long time ago. But, sometimes, when we make love, I see Tom's ghost out of the corner of my eye. He's grinning. He always has, even the first time.
It began a year since Tom's shuttle had crashed. Kathryn was just
married to Jack from Botany. We were still calling her "captain" then.
Don't tell her, but that's still I how think of her most of the time.
Anyway, Harry and B'Elanna were planning their own wedding over dinner in the mess hall.
"Okay, sweetheart. We know when we want to get married." Harry
"Yes, and we've reached a decent compromise on the ceremony and the food, thanks to Neelix."
Neelix loves to plan weddings. Because of him, everyone who's
ever married on Voyager has a couple of dried Talaxian wedding garlands somewhere. It doesn't seem like a wedding without them now.
"Now all that's left is where." B'Elanna began to list the
possibilities. For some reason, she included the engineering core. We
all laughed at that one.
Then Harry became serious. "Sandrine's. I want to get married in
No one said a word for a long time. I could feel them not looking
at Chakotay. He apparently could, too.
"Why Sandrine's? That's Tom's program. We haven't been there
since the accident."
Harry nodded. "That's why. If Tom were alive, he'd be the
swordbearer. If we use Sandrine's, it's as if we've invited a part of
him to our wedding. And it's time we went back."
"I agree. Let's go there now." Chakotay stood up, took his tray
to the kitchen area and left the room. We all followed.
He'd waited for us to join him before calling up the program on
the Holodeck. Did his voice crack a little at the word "Paris"? If it
did, it was barely noticeable. Even then I noticed everything about
It was surprisingly hard to walk into the smoky bar. There they
all were, the people Tom had created to remind him of his friends in
Marseilles. For two years, this program had been almost permanently on this holodeck. We'd gathered there after shifts, played pool and other games, flirted with the holocharacters and each other and had parties. Then Tom died.
Sandrine greeted everybody as usual. She seemed surprised at the crowd. Then she began looking around. She was looking for Tom. No one had told her or the others what had happened.
I know it seems odd to worry about telling something to a
holocharacter, but we on Voyager had developed flexible ideas about
personhood. Our ship's doctor was a hologram and he was a part of the crew.
The captain went to Sandrine and touched her arm, but Chakotay
"It's my place to say this, Kathryn." She nodded and stepped
"What is it, mon cher? Have you and Thomas had a fight so soon
before the wedding?"
He shook his head. "Sandrine, can you access the current
stardate? Find out how long it's been since we've enjoyed your
establishment?" Sandrine nodded. Her eyes widened.
"A year? Why have you not been here for a year? Thomas would not do that to us."
"No, he wouldn't. Sandrine, everyone...Tom's dead." Chakotay
told them how Tom had died.
"C'est bien. He would not have wanted to die any other way. It's
sad that it didn't happen much later." The other holocharacters nodded.
"But he would not want you to mourn. I am right, no?" We
couldn't deny that, either.
"Bien. We will celebrate, then. Celebrate Thomas and the way he
was." She clapped her hands, and there was dance music, a table of
food and a bowl of punch. Later, we found out that Tom had programmed the "wake" just in case. He'd even used some of the rations he'd won off of all of us for the refreshments. At that moment, we were just surprised.
We stood a long moment. Then Harry took B'Elanna's hand and began to dance. The captain and Jack followed. Someone deleted the pooltable and all the characters but Sandrine to make room. Chakotay danced with Sandrine. Other people joined them. I got a cup of punch.
The party lasted for hours. As people dropped out, others took
their place. We ran out of Tom's rations, but folks donated more.
Voyager needed a party and here it was.
Finally, the place began to empty out and I summoned the courage to do something I'd wanted to do all evening.
"Call me Chakotay, Ayala."
"Adame." We both smiled.
"Adame. You wanted to ask me something?"
Maybe it was the punch. He was a superior officer, and that
mattered then. I shouldn't have asked the question. "Comm...Chakotay, may I have this dance?"
He smiled. He'd smiled so rarely in that past year, but he was
smiling now. It warmed me.
"My pleasure, Adame."
It was a waltz, something about windmills, I think. We took turns
leading. He was graceful, like a wolf. I could feel the strength in
his arms as we moved over the dance floor. His hand in my hand, his
other hand, sometimes on my waist, sometimes on my shoulder, were
gentle. I felt like the music was lifting us. There must have been
others on the floor. All I could see was him and his soft brown eyes.
They glowed. He glowed. Then the music ended and we stopped. And I drew him closer to me and kissed him gently on his lips. A roar of desire rushed through me.
He responded passionately and clasped me tightly. I could feel
his arousal through our uniforms, answering my own. We broke apart and he nodded towards the door. I dipped my head once, and we left the bar hand in hand. Somehow, we ended up in Chakotay's quarters. I don't remember how.
It wasn't love. It wasn't friendship. We'd hardly had a chance
to speak to each other since the crews joined. I was in security, a
lowly ensign; he was the First Officer. We weren't especially close
even in the Maquis. It was lust, pure and simple. He was the sexiest
man on the ship. Oh, Tom Paris had been prettier, and no one was more beautiful than Harry Kim, but Chakotay was something else again. I couldn't define it then. Now I know. It was him. It was his
intelligence, his gentleness and his loyalty, and how secure he was in
his masculinity, how he never had to prove it. And, that night, it was
We practically ripped the uniforms off each other before tumbling
to his bed. I'd barely touched his penis when he exploded. Instead of apologizing, he took me in his mouth. The rest of the night is a red haze in my mind. I know we had sex and I know it was amazing. I know we fell asleep exhausted. And I know the last thing I saw was a pretty blond man with a broad smile and his thumb up, just out of the corner of my eye. Or maybe I dreamed it. I didn't dream the next morning, though.
"Good morning, Adame." I woke confused.
"Chakotay? Where...oh..." Then I remembered. I smiled. He
kissed me on the cheek. He was already in uniform.
"What time is it?"
"You have some time. I have an early meeting with the captain. I
just didn't want to leave without saying goodbye. And thank you."
I yawned. "Thank you?"
"For last night. You were wonderful. And that's not just because
you're the first since, well, you know." I was the first since Tom
"Well, yes." He blushed a little. "Go back to sleep, Adame.
I'll see you later." I had an hour. I went to sleep.
He did see me later. We began sleeping together on a regular
basis. At first, it was just sex. He was very skilled as a lover. I
began to miss my wife less. We'd long ago had an agreement that if we were ever separated, we'd only take lovers of the same sex, but until this point I hadn't been interested in anything long term.
As time went on, we became familiar with each other's bodies. We
began to take the time to talk. We even started to do things together
outside of bed, like play pool and exercise. We found we had some
things in common - we both had a strong sense of family. Chakotay told me that with him family comes first - always. We also came from similar frontier worlds and we both had strong spiritual lives. I'm a Catholic. I showed him my rosary and the Virgin of Guadalupe medal I always wear, and he said he respected this. I respected his beliefs, and we became comfortable talking about their differences and similarities.
We became friends - compadres. There's no good way of translating that one. It means we were closer than friends and more than lovers. We began spending all of our off-duty time together. And then we became compadres, co-godparents, in truth.
The children started coming. Kathryn and Jack had a beautiful
little boy they named Tommy. At first I wondered if Chakotay would feel something special for that child because of the name. Chakotay told me that he didn't, at least not for that reason. It was Kathryn's son, and that was enough.
I missed my own boys very much. They were growing up without me.
But our children helped fill that void. I don't know when all the
adults became Uncle This and Aunt That. It just seemed to happen one day. I also don't know when Chakotay became plain "Uncle", but it fit.
Then we moved in together. I don't think we were in love, but we
liked being with each other and certainly liked sleeping with each
The day I moved in, I noticed that Chakotay looked pensive.
"What's wrong, compadre?"
"I'm thinking about Tom, and the day we took this cabin."
"What about it?" I took his hand and led him to the couch.
"I proposed to him that day. I was going to spend the rest of my
life with him."
"Do you want to find a different cabin? One without so many
memories?" With all the children coming, space was a premium, but we could always choose a smaller cabin.
"No. I was happy with Tom and I think I'll be happy with you, mi
amigo." He touched my cheek.
"Do you ever think about Tom?"
"Of course. Usually on the bridge when we need some fancy
I looked at him. He sighed. "Yes, I think of him. But it
stopped hurting a long time ago. I can thank you for that."
"Yes." Suddenly he grinned, although his eyes remained serious.
"For one thing, you're more fun in bed."
"More than the legendary Tom Paris?" I pretended to be amazed.
"Tom had been...damaged early on. Not physically, of course, but
I had to be very gentle and I had to teach him so much. I had to let
him set the pace. With you, I'm free. And you know how to make love."
Then he kissed me and we didn't say much after that.
There wasn't much in the cabin that was Tom's. Chakotay said that Tom didn't have much besides clothing and programs. There was one holo of Tom that Chakotay kept just in view. It was a good picture. Tom was laughing whole-heartedly, instead of his usual sardonic chuckle. I never noticed him looking at it any more often than he did other holos. He looked at the children's baby pictures more often. I let my own possessions fill the gaps. There were holos of my sons, souvenirs and artwork I'd picked up, my own clothes. It became my home. It became our home.
Once we discussed having children, but we decided against them. I
would have felt truly unfaithful to my wife if I had any more, and
Chakotay was more than happy being Uncle. He told me that once he
realized he preferred men he'd also realized he be the Uncle for all of
his sibling's children. That was an honorable role and one he'd looked
forward to fulfilling. We both took our turns in the daycare center and
sometimes we'd give tired parents a break and take in their kids for a
day or so. We never lacked for children. Besides, Tuvok and Gerron
looked very uncomfortable pregnant and I had no wish to do that to
either one of us.
It wasn't all starlight and roses. We fought over things that, in
retrospect, seem insignificant now, like the placement of pillows or who
picked up the cabin. But we always talked our way through things, and
came out stronger. Chakotay told me he'd always been afraid to fight
with Tom, since he was so fragile. He had no such fears with me.
We were together thirty years on that ship. We saw marriages
begin and end, we saw children born, grow up, marry and have children of their own. We wept when Palanka died.
I know this account seems rushed, but those thirty years, while
wonderful, would be boring to hear about. We flew towards the Alpha
Quadrant. Sometimes we stopped for a year to repair the ship and play farmer. We gave up the uniforms and the ranks and trained the children. Voyager was our home and the crew were our lives, and we stopped even thinking about where we were heading. And sometime in the middle of that, things changed for us.
"Querido?" We were lying in bed on a rare day off. Chakotay's
head was on my shoulder.
"How long have we been together?"
"Over ten years. Ten wonderful years." I could feel him smile.
"Ten years. We've been friends for ten years."
"More than friends, compadre." He snuggled closer.
"If we are, why have we never said it?"
"Said what?" Chakotay was never this dense.
"You know." He sat up.
"I do know. We haven't, have we? I'm a fool."
"No more than I. It just snuck up on us, didn't it?"
"Yes, but it's there." He kissed me and then he took my hands.
"Adame Ayala, my life, my lover, mi compadre - I love you. And I don't know why I haven't said those words before."
I looked at the hands enclosing mine. There was a ring on the
right hand. It was Tom's ring, the one Chakotay was supposed to get on their wedding day. Maybe it should have bothered me, but it didn't. Chakotay was mine more than he ever was Tom's and there was no need to be jealous. And the ring on my left hand didn't bother Chakotay.
"Te adoro, querido. Forever."
"Querido." He'd never called me that before.
I saw Tom again when we made love that night. I think he was
Keshia Torres-Kim took us through the wormhole six years ago.
We've been back in the Federation for a year. I still remember how
Kathryn greeted Admiral Sisko and President Kira. The captain looked
like the queen she was in her purple dress, her hair a chestnut and
silver crown. She looked every one of her over seventy years and she
was beautiful. So was mi compadre standing tall and powerful beside
her, while Jack and I stood behind as proper consorts. Admiral Paris,
ret., scowled at her praise of his son.
We're all spread out now. Harry and B'Elanna took their logs and
wrote a book on how to keep a starship running for over thirty years,
and now they're teaching at the Academy. Tuvok and Vorik settled on
Vulcan to raise their family, with Tuvok's wife and her companion.
Neelix got his own holoshow, but died soon afterwards. He was old for a Talaxian, he said, so he was content. Many of the Maquis went home. Many of the Starfleeters went home, too. The children learned to meet other people. It was hard for them, even for those like Keshia who went to the academy. She was going to be a pilot, like Uncle Tom Paris.
And Kathryn? Kathryn tried to retire to play with her
grandchildren, but she couldn't. And she couldn't be under someone
else's control, either. She'd been autonomous too long. So, they gave her a colony to run, and a ship she could use when the wanderlust took her, and she was happy.
My wife had divorced me years before and was married to someone
else. It actually hurt a little bit, but she was happy and so were my
boys, who'd had a fine father to raise them, and were men in whom I
could feel pride.
And then I stood beside Chakotay on a colony planet, with all of
our friends around us. All of them - even the ones who'd come home
first. The captain stood in front of us and we wore wreaths on our
heads. And we had different rings on our fingers.
We'd been together for thirty years, but that didn't make our
wedding night less special. We explored each other's body as if we'd
never seen it before. He was still the sexiest man on the ship. He
wasn't the smooth young warrior who'd taken me to bed that first night.
He was better. Age had given him dignity and if time had stolen
strength and suppleness from our muscles, it had replaced it with
knowledge. There was a lifetime in his face now, a lifetime we'd
shared. I let my hands and mouth tell him I loved him, and felt his
answer in return as he entered me. He could take his time now. We had patience. It was sweet, and it was sweeter still when I in turn took
him, watching his face as I bent over him. I could see how much he'd
laughed over the years. It was beautiful - more beautiful than the
eternally young boy I saw just over his shoulder as I had my orgasm.
Tom nodded in approval and disappeared. I haven't seen him since.
Debra Fran Baker email@example.com