Part 2 -- see disclaimers in Part 1
The next morning Tom managed to drag himself out of bed
on the first alarm from the computer. He looked at the rose
blearily. It seemed to have helped a bit -- he didn't remember
waking from any nightmares the previous night. Shrugging,
Tom got ready for his shift, and then grabbed the paper valentine
he had made for Naomi. He could leave it with Neelix for
Naomi to find later, and at least Chakotay wouldn't be
snickering at him on the bridge.
Tom edged into the messhall, wondering at the concoctions
Neelix might have for them this morning. Again, if it wasn't for
Harry waiting for him, he would have been tempted to skip
breakfast. Except that that meant he would have to be
early to the morning briefings, and Chakotay would be
sure to comment on that.
Thankfully, the talk was at a fever pitch in the messhall, and
Tom was able to slip the Valentine to Neelix with a quick
explanation, grab the less offensive grub, and slip into the
empty seat next to Harry with little notice. Harry was too
busy gossiping with the Delaney twins about who was
getting what from their secret Valentine's to even pay attention
to Tom's presence. Tom hunkered down over his tray,
trying to think of what he could leave Naomi next. Maybe
some of those sugared candy hearts with the sayings, or
some bright hair ribbons. What did a girl her age like?
Tom began to listen to the conversations flowing around
him. It sounded like everyone was in on the secret Valentine
exchange. Rumors were even the Captain had found a
Valentine in her ready room. One of the engineering staff
was taking bets on whom it was, but Tom shrugged him off
when approached. Tom was sure it was Chakotay. It was
such a sure thing that he couldn't be bothered betting. He knew
he wouldn't get decent odds anyway.
"So what did you get, Tom?" Megan suddenly said, and
Tom's head jerked up.
"Me? Why are you asking me?" Tom said, curiosity
warring with suspicion.
"Oh, come on, Tom, you MUST have a Valentine," Jenny
"Well, yeah, I'm leaving things for Naomi. Can't let her feel
left out," Tom deadpanned, knowing it wasn't what the twins
wanted. But they had tendency to go for the jugular, and he
wanted to survive to the morning briefing, at least.
"TOM," Harry sighed dramatically. "You know what they
meant. Who's your secret admirer? What have they left you?"
"Who said I got anything?" Tom responded defensively.
"Everyone knows B'Elanna'd kill anyone who got near me.
She might not want me, but she won't let anyone else near me.
She almost decapitated Ensign Lariby for that innocent kiss at
Neelix's birthday party last month."
"Oh, it is anonymous. It's safe enough from B'Elanna," Harry
said, grinning. "I can't believe you're not getting left something."
"Why, are you doing it?" Tom said, making his best friend flush
with embarrassment. The twins began hooting and teasing Harry,
giving Tom enough time to flee the messhall for the morning meeting.
Once again, he managed to arrive a few minutes early and get
strange looks from the Captain and Chakotay.
"If you are bucking for brownie points on your next review by
being early, Paris, forget it," Chakotay drawled, looking Tom
up and down as he hesitated at the doorway, concerned he
had interrupted a private meeting between the two.
"Hardly. Just trying to escape the Valentine madness," Tom
shot back, refusing to let Chakotay think he had been intimidated.
How long had they been in the Delta? And the Commander still
took a dig every chance he got.
"Aren't you enjoying it, Tom?" the Captain responded with a
"Well, yeah, surprising Naomi, but that's about it," Tom said,
glancing down at the table to avoid her intense stare.
"No secret admirers? No one knocking down your door in
the middle of the night, leaving dozens of roses in your quarters?"
Chakotay said sarcastically.
"Nope. How about you?" Tom shot back. Thankfully, he was
saved from the Commander's wrath by the entrance
of the rest of the command crew.
With his shift finally over, Tom sighed dramatically as he dragged
himself back to his quarters after another long day in the Delta
Quadrant. Once again, the ship had run into a species that shot
first, and answered questions later. The battle had been very
stressful, trying to get Tuvok open shots while avoiding a
weapon that seemed to make their shields fizz with every
hit. And then he'd stayed long into beta shift to make sure
the repairs to the helm controls were done right. He didn't trust
Culhane; he had to make sure the fine-tuning was just right or next
time he might not be able to avoid the aggressors like he had today.
Tom had completely forgotten about the Valentine's Day madness
when he opened his cabin door. Only to freeze when the
computer automatically turned on the lights in his rooms. Festooned
all over the living space were chains of paper hearts. Red, pink,
white, and all tones between, the tiny hearts formed chains across
all four walls, around his desk, over his chair, and across the
couch under the window. Tom walked with some trepidation to
his desk, looking for the usual note. Naomi couldn't have done
this, not without help. And he thought most of the crew had
been tied up with repairs, although he hadn't noticed when the
others had actually left the bridge.
The note, once again simple, read:
Paper Hearts for you,
Show my love for you,
My heart is like paper,
For wanting you.
Geeze, Tom thought. This time his secret valentine didn't even
try to rhyme. He was beginning to wonder seriously who it was.
He shook his head at the hearts draping every surface, went
and replicated a bag of heart candy to sneak to Naomi tomorrow,
and went to bed.
The next morning he moaned as he got up at the computer's alarm.
It was Thursday; only four more days to the Valentine's nightmare.
For a mad moment he wondered if B'Elanna was leaving him the
bad poetry; then he instantly knew better. If she wanted him back,
she'd come and throw him against the wall and let him know.
This wasn't her style.
As a matter of a fact, he thought as he got dressed to go and meet
Harry yet again for breakfast, he didn't know whose style it was.
He was beginning to wonder if he should be worried. The Valentine,
the rose, it could have been just about anyone. But the paper hearts?
He stared at them a moment before he left his quarters. That took
serious thought, and serious commitment -- either that, or they
needed to be committed.
Tom took his breakfast from Neelix and began to scan the
messhall with a jaundiced eye as he found Harry and sat down
to eat. Who was leaving him that stuff? He began to eat without
thought, barely noting the descriptions Miguel was giving Harry
of the silk boxer he had left Gerron, or of Harry sheepishly
admitting that someone had been leaving him Valentines taped to
his door every morning.
Tom suddenly turned to Miguel, after it registered that Harry's
Valentines had all been on the outside of his door. "Hey, who
could get into senior crew quarters? Like to leave Valentine stuff?"
"What, is someone leaving you something, Tom?" Miguel inquired.
"Um, well, maybe," he admitted, ducking his head as he inexplicably
blushed. "Last night I found paper hearts all over my quarters."
"Paper hearts?" Harry asked, puzzled.
"Like paper chains, but of hearts," Tom said.
"Would have to be a member of the senior staff, or maybe
engineering, the repair crew has some pass codes," Miguel said.
"How are things going with Tem, Miguel?" said a sudden voice,
and Chakotay slid into the empty seat beside Ayala.
"Good, from what I hear he's enjoying what I'm leaving him," he
grinned. "But I think Tom's doing even better."
"What? Someone's actually leaving Paris something?" Chakotay
said, turning to take in Tom, who was now blushing further.
"What's it to you, Chakotay?" Tom shot back, getting up to leave.
"I bet the Captain's enjoying your Valentines . . . "
"I'm not leaving any for her," Chakotay said, too calm, and staring
"You're not?" Tom said, freezing in puzzlement.
"No, not at all. She's not my secret Valentine."
"Whatever," Tom said, leaving for the bridge, not noting the
smirks behind his back.
When his shift was finished, Tom spent a half hour with the
Wildmans after he hid the candy for little Naomi to find.
As he was heading back to his own quarters, he wondered
what weirdness he would find this time. He knew he was still
depressed over B'Elanna, but he just couldn't get into this
Valentine's nonsense. He just wanted to sleep until he had to
drag himself to the messhall to have breakfast with Harry again.
When he entered his cabin, Tom peered about in suspicion. The
paper hearts were still up, but nothing else was disturbed.
Shrugging, hoping whoever was leaving him stuff had given up,
Tom went into his bedroom, took off his uniform, and went to
the bathroom for a shower before bed.
Only to stop, dumbfounded. His whole bathroom was lit with
scented candles, and there was a bubble bath, still steaming,
drawn in his tub. A note by the sink, which he found when he
finally unfroze, simply said:
No sweet could match you,
No candle hold a light to you,
But rest my sweet,
The light of my heart.
End of Part 2