Title : Down Deep
Author : Elli- archivist@ParisNights.de
Series :Voyager
Codes : Voy, C/P
Rating : PG-13
Story: 6/?
Archive: TPD,TPP, Cha_Club,cpsg. All others, ask first.
Summary: See part One...
Disclaimer: All things Trek belong to Paramount and Admiral Larsen to my cybersis Isa...
Note: This story was inspired by In His Mind's Eye and Sweet Dreams by Margeret Berger.
Decdicated to Jean, for excellent beta reading.

Down Deep

Tom Paris wandered the hallway silently. He didn't have the slightest cue as to why the Captain had asked him to come to her ready room.

He didn't care that much however. He was more worried about Marcs and Dalby right now, then to worry about his own efficiency on the bridge. If the captain wanted to lecture him, so be it.

At least it would take  his mind of a certain first officer. He didn't know how he was supposed to keep the first officer away. After all, he saw him on the bridge every day. He just didn't know what to do...

With this last thought he entered the ready room.

As the door closed behind him, all color drained from his face.

It wasn't just that all three other occupants of the room were staring at him, seemingly ready to interrogate him. It was mainly the fact that Chakotay was staring at him with an expression of fear, panic, and resolution on his face. Tom felt like being brought to his own execution.

All he wanted to do was run. But he couldn't.

"Lieutenant, please sit down," Janeway started, too worried to notice Tom's state of mind.

Tom, not having any other option, sat down next to Commander Chakotay. the proximity to the other man was infuriating. Tom could hardly stand it. Either kiss the man now, or run as fast as you can.
Unfortunately neither option was open for him. The Captain was watching him, an odd expression on her face, Tuvok not being helpful either.

Why wasn't anyone saying anything?

After a few seconds it seemed as if he was saved.

"May I inquire why you've sealed off your quarters, Mister Paris?" Tuvok asked him, his tone of voice showing the typical human indifference.

Tom gulped, his mouth opened and closed again. He didn't know what to say or do.
Only vaguely he could feel Chakotay tense up to him, for entirely different reasons than Tom, that was clear.

Chakotay moved an inch. Tuvok's question had left himself numb. Why had Tom sealed off his quarters? Did he want to keep him away that way? Did he really think Chakotay would barge into his quarters without permission? Did he really think so low about him?

On the other side of the room, Tuvok reached under his seat. Slowly he pulled out a metallic object and placed it onto the table.

The camera, Tom realized in panic and his eyes grew even wider.

This can't be real, Tom thought, not saying a word, still staring at the camera.

"Lieutenant, we can think of an explanation of this... and we think we know what its significance is, but we'd like to hear it from you," Janeway said tensely. She knew Tom had done what he thought was right. But it was important to get the facts straight.

"Captain, surely after seeing this, you can understand my reasons for keeping it secret," Tom said surprisingly calm.

"Yes, but I want to hear it from you. After all, since it concerned the Maquis, you could have told us," Janeway said, the hurt evident in her eyes.

Tom gulped, he didn't really want to talk about this. He had also tried so hard to keep it secret, for so many reasons. Chakotay was staring at him now, his expression one of surprise and wonder.
He seemed completely dumbfounded and shocked.

"After Caldik Prime, my aunt, Admiral Larsen, gave me an undercover mission to Elara Prime.
Starfleet thought that the Maquis were trying to interrupt the festivities by deploying explosives.
I deactivated the explosives and left. But unfortunately they followed me," he stopped there, not knowing and not wanting to continue.

Beside him, Chakotay was deathly quiet.

"And then they caught you and beat you up," Janeway stated.

"You saw the vid, Captain. Is it necessary that I repeat it all to you?" Tom said desperately.

Chakotay sighed. He didn't know what to do with this new knowledge. He didn't know what to think.

"Why did you never tell anyone, Tom," Janeway asked now, seeming genuinely concerned about the pilot.

"Two reasons, Captain," Tom started. This was obviously hard on him.

"As we started this journey, being a divided crew, Maquis and Federation, I didn't think it would  help the climate on this ship. It would have kept both factions apart. On the other hand,  you may have noticed in the vid, that the explosives were controlled from another point. A Starfleet vessel.
Someone had obviously tried to make the Maquis set up the explosives to start a new conflict between the Maquis and the Cardassion. I was under orders from Admiral Larsen not to tell anyone before we knew exactly who was responsible. And we never found out," he explained.

"Is that why you joined the Maquis, Lientenant? To continue to investigate and find out who gave them the explosives?" Tuvok asked now.

Tom nodded then. Beside him, Chakotay relaxed visibly.

"So, what are you going to do about Marx and the others?" Tom asked now. He didn't seem to want anything to happen to them.

"This is a small ship, Tom. We all saw the vid and know what is going on. None of the Starfleet personnel were involved with Elara Prime. And we cannot let behaviour like that go unpunished.
The fact that Marcs tried to break into your quarters shows well enough that he is still capable of violent actions. We have to set a precedent," Janeway said.
"Not to forget that the Maquis/Starfleet informant might be a member of the Maquis crew of Voyager."

"I am aware of that, Captain but that would only blow my cover and it wouldn't make sense. We should leave it just the way it is, "Tom argued.

Janeway didn't seem pleased, but before she could voice her objections, Tuvok said: "I have to agree with Lieutenant Paris, Captain. Showing how much we know would not be advisable."

The Captain eyed all occupants of the room. She knew of course, that Tuvok was right, but her shock and disgust at what had happened to Tom made her want to strangle Marcs and his friends with her bare hands.

Her eyes then rested on her first officer, Chakotay. During their conversation, he hadn't uttered one word and she had seen his expression change from fear, to shock, back to fear and then from relief to almost joy.  Of course she knew where this was coming from.

"You're right of course, Tuvok. Try to investigate, but make it subtle. Nobody should notice thing, "
Janeway ordered.

"You are dismissed."

Tom almost bolted out of the room, seemingly trying to get as far away from then, especially from Chakotay, as possible. Chakotay on the other hand seemed to almost collide into him trying to keep up.

"Commander, would you please stay here for a minute? I'd like to talk to you," Captain Janeway asked him, stopping his escape midway.

For a second, Chakotay had the strong urge to hit is commanding officer over the head and run after Tom, but he caught himself and followed Janeway to the coffee table.

"Commander, you have talked about your feelings with Tom, haven't you...," Janeway stated.

"Yes I have Captain, " Chakotay answered.
"What did he say ?" Janeway asked, truly concerned.

"That he wasn't interested."

"Then why..."Janeway started, but Chakotay interrupted her.

"Captain, isn't that obvious? He was worried about me being the old Maquis Captain. He didn't want me to be forced to take sides," he almost screamed.

"Chakotay, don't you think you are grasping at straws? This being the reason is a possibility that is so low, it almost nonexistent. Don't get your hopes up," she tried to get some sense into Chakotay.

"Captain..," the Commander started.

"Please Chakotay, you should acceptthat Tom may just not be interested in you romantically. don't hurt yourself over this."

"I don't believe that. I don't want to believe that," Chakotay said, almost whispering and left the Captain's ready room.

A few seconds after that, he arrived in front Tom's quarters, being totally out of breath.
His hands were shaking as he pressed the chime. He didn't even want to think about the possibility that what the captain had said could be right. Right now he was ready to use every straw, every option he could. He wasn't willing to give up that easily.

The door swooshed open quietly and Chakotay stood face to face with the object of his desire.
Next to Chakotay's radiant, excited features, Tom's face looked almost ashen.

Chakotay entered Tom's quarters without asking. He wasn't going to take any chances. He wasn't going to give up. He'd have that conversation now.

For a moment, Tom was still facing the corridor and as he finally turned around, his face betrayed no emotion. "What can I do for you, Commander," he asked Chakotay with professional courtesy.

The pilot's emotionless tone of voice was like s splash of cold water. His mouth stood open and he gazed at the pilot, saying nothing.

"You don't feel the way about me that I do about you," stated the commander.

"Commander, I told you that. I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear," Tom said.

Chakotay waved him off. "It's not your fault, Tom. I was trying to see something where there was nothing at all to see. I thought that you were keeping your distance because you didn't want me to be forced to choose between you and the Maquis crew. I was desperate, I guess. I'm sorry."

"No problem, Commander. I'm sorry too, " Tom said.

Chakotay seemed to be at a loss for words. "See you on duty," he said and left.

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.