Warning: the following relationship contains semi-explicit m/m content. Please don't say I didn't warn you.

Disclaimer: the characters belong to Paramount Pictures.

Author: Ki

Category: angst, m/m sex, POV

Pairings: C/P, P/?

Title: A Moth Is An Ugly Butterfly

Warning: dark imagery, strong language

Summary: Tom's thoughts

Rating: NC-17

"A Moth Is An Ugly Butterfly"

I was five when I saw my first moth. It was in the garden when I chanced upon this grey-winged insect. I picked it up, only to have it flutter frantically in my hands. My fingers were coated with a layer of brown dust. 

It looked like a butterfly. Beautiful with a tinge of blue. Sure, it appeared a little different from the monarch butterflies kept in Nana's glasshouse. But it could fly like one. 

So I ran into the house, calling for Mom. She came out from the kitchen, holding a ladle in her hand. She was making tomato soup that day. I showed her the moth and she smiled.

"You have a moth in your hands," she said, her blue eyes sparkling. I smiled, loving her face and her beautiful smile. 

"What is a moth?" I said, staring at the insect resting on my palm.

Mom paused for a while, her eyes becoming sad. Well, I thought she looked sad as if she had just yelled at Dad. Then, she placed a hand on my face and whispered to me, "A moth is an ugly butterfly."

**** ****

Soon, I forgot about the moth and grew up. But Mom's words stuck with me. "A moth is an ugly butterfly." Ugly. The moth was ugly. Not beautiful. Ugly. Like the ogres in the story books. Ugly like Dad who shouted at Mom and threw stuff at her. Ugly. Like me.

I excelled at flying when I was seven. Everyone praised me and I loved it. Yet, Dad continued to make me feel ugly, distorted. I was a moth. I kept thinking like this until I entered Starfleet Academy. 

Things were different at the Academy. I became beautiful. Handsome. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Nice height. Cocky attitude. Men and women tried to date me. I was popular, flirting around and ignoring my studies. I was no longer ugly.

I met Darian during my third year. He was a good-looking Betazoid cadet who showed promise for command. I first saw him during orientation day. He was wearing a pair of short shots and a T-shirt, displaying an impressive physique. Taut muscles rippling under the thin fabric of his clothes. He had dark eyes like all Betazoids. Strong jaw line. Nice cheek bones. 

I went forward to talk to him . So, we were going out on dates. He made me feel happy, good. The ugliness in me faded away into the distance. To him, I was a beautiful butterfly. In his arms, I felt accepted, loved.

Darian was good in bed. His mouth would taste every part, every inch of my body. Teasing me until I cried out for more. His hands were tender and rough at the time as he stroked my cock until it swelled painfully under his touch. He seemed to know my sensitive areas, turning my senses to wild fire. And I was drawn to him. As he thrust hard into me, I squeezed my eyes and whispered his name again and again, begging him not to stop. Vice versa, I did the same thing to him. I would nibble along his ear lobes, bite his neck. We would make love the whole night and I would try to forget that I was ugly.

That being bisexual was ugly. That being Tom Paris was ugly.

We started to quarrel soon after. I found out that Darian was seeing another person. A woman! I was so betrayed, so mad with him that I hit him across the face. I watched with perverse satisfaction as the bruise spread across his lovely jaw. I hated him. Hated his guts. Hated him for using me. 

I hated myself too. I began to drink. Vodka. Brandy. All the hard stuff. The ache in my heart was unbearable and I would drink until I puked myself to sleep in the toilet. I hated being Thomas Eugene Paris. I hated the person that I was. Maybe Darian was right in leaving me; I was flawed. Ugly. Somehow I was deformed and revolting in certain ways. 

My grades plunged. Dad gave me a B- for his gruelling survival course. He hated me. He always did. Sometimes, I wondered how he was able to fool the people around him. To his students, he was a tough-as-nails teacher. Inspiring. Harsh but brilliant, the epitome of intelligence. Then again, he showed a different face to his own family.

He shouted, cursed and kicked Mom around. He hated her. He hated me. 

The night before I graduated, I sat alone in my Academy dorm. I poured myself a glass of vodka and drank it in a single gulp. There were tears in my eyes and I let them flow. Dad had just sent his apologies that he couldn't attend my graduation. I hated him from that onwards. It was a hatred that willed violence. An anger that had gone insane. 

I drank some more until I knelt in front of the toilet seat, spewing my insides out. I was sobbing too. Tears, snot and vomit mingled. I had never felt so isolated, so repulsive. 

It was the familiar flutter of wings that drew my attention to the floor. A moth. A brown-winged moth. It was quietly resting on the floor, oblivious to everything. 

I experienced a rush of sudden rage and the next thing I knew, I was holding my boot and pounding maniacally on the moth. I began to swear, cursing it with all kinds of vulgarities. Fuck you. Fuck fuck you. Damn you to hell. Fuck damn shit you! I was way past caring. I was furious.

The rage drained away and I collapsed, my head throbbing painfully. I removed the boot and I simply stared at the dark spot on the floor where the moth used to be. I could only see bits of wings and tiny legs. 

It was the beginning of my downfall.

*** ***

When I first met you, I was a mess. I was a mess that was tidied up and shoved under the carpet for good measure. Sure, I looked like the cocky kid. The Paris boy who oozed charm and confidence like a leaking dilithium chamber. I was still handsome, according to some people onboard the ship. 

I didn't think they ever wanted to know about my ugly inside. 

You, on the other hand, were cool. Collected. You didn't let things faze you. People listened to you, took you seriously. You were what I wanted to be. 

But damn it, we clashed the very first time we met each other. We were two opposites. 

I hated you.

I didn't know what changed. We started to talk. Not the mono-syllabic conversations we used to have in the turbo-lift. But honest-to-God talks that exposed our hearts, lay bare our souls. It was then I realized that I was falling in love with you. Yes, you. Commander Chakotay, ex-Starfleet, Maquis captain. 

You always tried to probe deeper into my past and you hated it when I withdrew behind my sarcastic mask. You would become frustrated and tired. But heck, you still tried. 

Did you ever know that I used to cry myself to sleep in my dark quarters? 

"A moth is an ugly butterfly."

I was the moth. Crushed and dead. 

You took the first step, inviting me for dinner at your place. We had roasted potatoes and baked chicken. We talked. We smiled. You made me feel relaxed and by the end of the dinner, we were literally clearing the dishes off the table. You pulled me in for a tenderly passionate kiss and I almost balked. I would have bolted and run away. Yet, you held my hand gently. 

You were removing my clothes one by one. Carefully, as if you didn't want to hurt me. As if you knew that I was hurt enough. I felt your moist tongue on my chest, licking my nipples. I closed my eyes, forcing out the images of Darian, wild and untamed as he made love to me. Your hands were not his hands. Your eyes were not his eyes. 

I didn't protest when you led me to your bedroom. For a desperate moment, I hesitated and wanted once more to flee. The captain's quarters was next to your room. But you shook your head and continued to caress my skin, kiss my torso. 

We had the most mind-blowing sex that night. Then, we cuddled, you cradling me in your arms. When the next shift came, I was nervous. I thought that you would leave. Like Darian.

But you didn't. 

I told you about the moth. "A moth is an ugly butterfly," I said to you in the darkness of your quarters. 

"No, Tom. You are beautiful." Your voice was quiet, confident. 

"I am " I couldn't say anything. Darian had never said aloud to me that I was beautiful. 

I began to chuckle softly. Here I was, laying in the Commander's arms, talking like a woman dying to hear her lover's reassurances. I wasn't a woman. I was Thomas Eugene Paris. I realized with a moment of surprise that I actually felt happy. I was actually feeling joyful because I was proud being myself.

*** ***

Now as I stand before you, I feel the self-confidence like a newly emerging butterfly. I have grown so much during the five years in the Delta Quadrant. 

Captain Kathryn Janeway is smiling. I guess she feels exhilarated being a marriage celebrant. Beside me, Harry shifts excitedly. He is holding our rings. 

"A moth is an ugly butterfly." A tiny voice whispers but I shake my head.

I am not ugly anymore.