Title : Down Deep
Author : Elli- archivist@ParisNights.de
Series :Voyager
Codes : Voy,  C/P
Rating : PG-13
Part 1/?
Disclaimer: All things trek belong to paramount. this story is solely mine.
Summary: Secrets are often hard to tell, riddles are hard to break and feelings are hard to come by...
Archive: atps, TPD,TPP, Cha_Club. All others, ask.

Note: This story was inspired by In His Mind's Eye and Sweet Dreams by Margaret Berger.

Dedicated to Jeanette.

Down Deep

It was creeping through his body slowly.
He'd promised himself that he would never let himself feel it again.
He was afraid of it. Deeply.
It always meant trouble. Always.
It meant getting hurt.
Sharing everything.
He couldn't.

Chakotay meditated.
For weeks now he had tried to get his emotions in check.
But even his spirit guide could not send him through his emotional turmoil.
He knew that he had to do something about it, and he knew that the only way to do this was not to run
away, because he was too scared, but to actually face it.
He had to, even if it meant rejection.
He had to face Tom Paris and tell him how he felt.
Tell him that he loved him. It wasn't going to be easy.

They played pool again. It was the third play in a row.
The balls were hitting the table walls over and over again.
Few reached their aim.

Harry Kim was worried about Tom. The normally expert player had not sunk a ball at all.
Something was clearly distracting him.
He vowed to talk to him, but Sandrines was not the right place to do so.

Mere seconds after Commander Chakotay entered the French bar, Tom excused himself, not giving Harry a chance to protest.
"I'm tired Harry. I'm going to call it a night. See you tomorrow," he said suddenly and left.

*What the hell is wrong with him?* Harry mused.

Chakotay sighed.
This was the forth night in a row.
Every time he entered to talk to Tom about his feelings, the pilot left before he could get anywhere near him.

He began to wonder if it was just a coincidence or if Tom was avoiding him.
"Does he know how you feel, Chakotay?" he whispered to himself.

Tom stumbled into his quarters slowly.
*Gods, I can't keep this up much longer,* he thought.

There was nothing he could do.
*Damned if you do. Damned if you don't .*

He somehow managed to stagger into the bathroom. He watched his reflection in the mirror. He looked
Dark circles were prominent under his eyes and his skin was even paler than usual.
He had also lost weight and knew that if he kept this up much longer, he'd collapse.
"Damn it all anyway. I don't care", he muttered.
But deep down he knew that he did, otherwise he wouldn't feel so awful.

Chakotay had made a decision.
He was going to confront Tom. Whether the pilot liked it or not.
Whether he himself liked it or not. There was no way he'd keep tormenting himself with this.
He needed to know if Tom felt the same.
Why he was avoiding him.

He approached Tom's quarters and pressed the chime to request entry.

"Come in," Tom said, his voice sounding distracted.
The first officer crossed the threshold.
Tom did not see him enter. He was staring into space, his back turned to Chakotay.
"Tom," he asked, suddenly not knowing what to ask or say.

Tom spun [around] with a very sudden movement.
Before he could once again get his guard up, Chakotay could see the surprise, the shock.... the fear, in the other man's eyes.

*Where is it coming from?* he asked himself. What was Tom's problem?
"What do you want Commander?" he now asked, using his normal, irritating voice.

Gods, this was hard. What did he want?
"Tom, there's something I need to talk to you about," he started.

"Yeah?" he asked nonchalantly.

*I guess the only way to say it is to say it,* he thought.

"I... I have fallen in love with you," he finally confessed.

For some time the other man said nothing. He just stared at him, being totally quiet.
Showing no expression. Giving nothing away.

"You're kidding, right?" he finally asked.

"Kidding?... NO!!" he said, surprised that Tom was reacting like this.
He actually laughed at him.

"I'm sorry Commander. It's just... I'm not interested in men that way," the pilot said.

Chakotay let the meaning of this sink in slowly.
It didn't just mean he was not interested in Chakotay, it also implied that the only thing interesting to him was the sex, may it be with women, or with men.

He left Tom, saying he was sorry, that it didn't matter he didn't reciprocate, that he could live with it. *I have to.*

The door shut in front of him.
The Commander was gone.
Thomas Eugene Paris sank down the wall slowly.

He had made the right decision. He knew he had. It was better this way. Who knows what would have happened if he had told the Commander he felt the same way. That he loved him, too.

He would have to tell him the truth sooner or later.

Share everything.
He couldn't.