Tom and Chakotay get caught with their hands on each other
and are forced to become a not so happy couple.
"Chakotay? Are you all right? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"Not a ghost
Kathryn, more like a phantom. He's not real. Well, he
is but not in the way that I thought."
"Who's not real?"
"Tiger, Tom's lover."
"I thought you were Tom's lover."
"Yes and I'm Tiger too."
"He loves me Kathryn, not Tiger."
"But you said you were Tiger."
"I am. Small tee."
"What? You're scaring me here Chakotay."
the Verdanian jail when I said I couldn't marry Tom
because it would be for life?"
"Yes, you said
you didn't want to because someone might come along
you might want more."
"He did, he came along."
"Tom? You love Tom?"
"Yes, of course I had to marry first him to find that out."
"Sort of puts
a whole new spin on the saying about putting the cart
before the horse. Wait. He doesn't know you love him, does he?"
"Not yet. I haven't told him."
"Then go, go tell him."
"I can't move."
to death. What if I'm wrong? What if he doesn't love
Not two minutes ago, you had my wise cracking chief
pilot adoring you and lapping at you like big dopey Irish setter and
you're afraid he doesn't love you?"
"I prefer to think of him as a Golden retriever pup and, oh spirits!"
"B'Elanna is at the bar talking to him."
"So well, so.oh I don't know. Oh spirits, he's looking this way."
"I think I like you this way."
"So head over
heels in love you don't know if you're coming or
going. It sort of puts dent in that infallible armour of yours.
Makes you more human. Fluster looks good on you, Commander."
was I such an unfeeling automaton? I did tell you what
I've been doing the last three years with your pilot, didn't I?"
"Yes but you
didn't show it. No wonder Tom doesn't know you love
his courage with a deep breath, Chakotay slowly began
walking towards Tom. The younger man who was staring at him with
something akin to wonder, broke off his conversation with B'Elanna
and moved away from the bar to meet him. He walked just as slowly.
The edges of the room blurred as Tom got closer. When they met in
the middle of a sea of tables and curious guests, Chakotay was deaf
and blind to everything and everyone but him. Tom spoke first.
"Poocuh means spirit mate?"
Chakotay was pleased with the question. It was a good lead
in to what he had to say. He reached for Tom's face but the younger
man pulled away sharply. The crowd around them went dead silent.
They saw the impending storm before he did. Chakotay didn't see it
until it hit.
"Then why the
hell didn't you tell me!" Tom yelled in a blaze of
fury. "You wanted me to read everything else about your damn bloody
culture, why did you leave out the most important part! Do you
realize how crazy I've been these last couple of days thinking you
were just play-acting? Hell for all I knew Poocuh meant thanks for
the good fuck! I didn't even know it was an endearment until two
And he was but he was also angry. The last few days
hadn't been an easy ride for him either and in his opinion he was the
one the greater beef. Tom may have thought he didn't love him but at
least he didn't think he loved someone else. That was worse, much
worse. He stepped up into the younger man's personal space and
growled. "But at least I didn't lie about it. I just neglected to
"I didn't lie."
"No? Then tell me Tom, who's Tiger?"
"Oh shit, that."
you are but tiger doesn't mean spirit mate. It just
means you're an animal in bed, like a tiger. Get it?" Tom spat into
his face and then said with his arms outstretched, "Big, big
difference Chak, huge in fact."
"Then why didn't
you tell me he wasn't real, if I was he?" That was
hard to say when you were pissed off.
Tom stammered while his beautiful blue eyes
misted. Oh damn, he hadn't meant to hurt him. Chakotay suddenly saw
Tom's side of the issue through those tear filled eyes.
"You were afraid,
weren't you? You didn't want to say it first in
case I didn't feel the same way." He said gently regretting his knee
jerk reaction to Tom's hostility.
We're supposed to be talking about Poocuh here not tiger."
Tom pointed out defiantly with rapidly blinking eyes. The quick
movement of his lids caused the unshed tears to fall and trickle down
his flushed cheeks.
could now see how much his change in demeanor threw the
younger man. He went with that and continued to speak calmly.
"We're not talking, we're fighting again."
"I know!" Tom yelled in frustration.
"I love you." Chakotay said playing his ace. The crowd aahed.
"I know that
too." Tom said softly while sniffing loudly and wiping
his leaking eyes with the heel of his hand like a ten year old boy.
It was adorable and the crowd once again made a sympathetic noise.
"Do you love me Poocuh?"
lip stuck out in a pout. Didn't the man know how
incredibly cute he was when he lost his hard edge? "Oh no fair using
the `P' word."
way too cute. Chakotay couldn't be mad him now if he
"All's fair in love and war." He replied lightly.
Tom offered with a hint of a smile. He was getting to him
and now for the final blow. If this didn't work, well Chakotay
didn't want to think about that.
Now answer my question." Chakotay looked deeply into his
husband's eyes that were for Tom quite literally the windows of his
soul. "Tom Paris do you love me because the spirits know I love you
with all that I am. You're more important to me than, my duty, my
religion and my life. You're my husband and Poocuh and I intend on
loving you until the end of my days."
"Oh shit." Tom's eyes lowered in what looked like misery.
"Not the answer
I was looking for." Defeated, Chakotay took a step
back. The younger man's head flew up when he saw the movement of his
"I love you Chakotay!" Tom screamed.
had just fired a phaser into his chest, Chakotay's
breath was knocked from his lungs. Knowing Tom loved him and
actually hearing him say it was two entirely different things. The
confidence he felt earlier in the conversation failed him. He stood
dumbfounded staring at his red faced, bright-eyed husband who was
doing about the same back. Nobody spoke, nobody breathed. A
tangible hush descended on the holodeck.
Just kiss him!" Rang a frustrated voice through the Irish
know to whom the command was directed at and didn't
have long to wonder. In a rush, Tom launched all six feet three
inches of his body at him wrapping his arms around his neck.
"Oh god Chak,
I've loved you for so long." He expelled into his neck
in one hot breath. "I didn't think I'd ever be able to tell you."
hands on his biceps, Chakotay pulled Tom back from the
sanctuary of his shoulder so he could see his face.
"Tell me again Poocuh."
"I love you."
His pink mouth tried to twist into a sneer but it
collapsed in a wide smile. "Now are you going to kiss me or what?"
"I would be happy to my beautiful husband."
To the sound
of tinkling glasses and applause Chakotay folded Tom
into his arms and kissed him deeply.
It was the
sweetest thing and it was the most passionate thing. The
kiss had balance, fire and heat, tenderness and love.
It was a perfect
THE END . .
. well almost,
"Hey Tiger did you see the row of outhouses by the stage?"
"Yes Poocuh. Meet you in the last one in five?"
"Make it one."
THE END . . . of the beginning.