Tears of Stolen Pearls
(inspired by Savage Garden's 'Tears of Pearls')

And we stare each other down
like victims in the grind
Probing all the weakness
and hurt still left behind and we cry
The tears of pearls
We do it. Oh, we do it.

Is love really the tragedy the way 
you might describe?
Or would a thousand lovers
still leave you cold inside? 
Make you cry ...
These tears of pearls

Tom Paris was fuming.

 He strode down the corridors of Voyager, raging inwardly. The arrogant bastard of a first officer had given him more work to do,more duties to perform.

What have I done to deserve this treatment?Paris thought darkly, passing Megan Delaney who smiled brightly at him. He did not notice the woman or her disappointed expression as he walked past her, without saying one word. What did I do to make Chakotay so *harsh* on me?

 The only place to cool off steam was the Sandrines. So Paris headed for the holodeck, determined to play pool and *forget* the injustice he felt directed towards him. And antagonism, he thought to himself.

 But Captain Janeway met him before he could reach his desired destination. He was surprised to se the captain not on the Bridge. It was supposed to be her shift but knowing Janeway, she *might* have something important to say. And judging by the look on her patrician face, she might.

~ ~ ~ ~

Kathryn Janeway was a keen judge of human character. Years in Starfleet, serving under captains and years of training taught her the intricacies of human emotions. She could tell a person's attitude just by looking at his or her body language.

 Now, as she watched Lt Paris stand before her, she could deduce that he was under duress. He couldn't stand still and his blue eyes were snapping fire. Fire that flickered inwardly and without abating. He *was* angry. And *very* much so too. Janeway sighed mentally. The young man might be stewing after a harangue by Commander Chakotay. And for a minor mistake as well. Although she was on the Bridge when the incident happened, she did not intervene; she sensed that something was brewing. The anger was coming from both sides : Chakotay *and* Paris. It might be due to their Maquis past but Janeway knew that a deeper reason must be behind all the angry words.

 She did not tell anyone, even Tuvok her closest friend onboard , that she detected sexual tension and attraction between the first officer and the young helmsman. Not that she was against it, but she found that it was *not* doing both of them any good.

All the biting, all the scratching, Janeway thought ruefully, suddenly thinking of Mark so far far away.All the hurt that must be underneath. Twisting and turning.

 "Tom, " Janeway said in a neutral voice. "Are you alright? "

 For a moment, Janeway thought that she could see the anxious inner soul of Tom waver before her, but once again the brash and cocky facade took over. " I am *alright*, ma'am. " He said with an oh-so-confident tone which Janeway realized, after watching the helmsman throughout the journey in the Delta Quadrant, was just a cover-up for inadequacies and weaknesses.

 "You *were* quite angry with Chakotay this morning, " Janeway said quietly.

 Paris turned away and Janeway could see him trying to retain his composure.

 "Lieutenant? "

 "He is taking his revenge on me, captain," Paris's response was flat, emotionless. Even his blue eyes were lifeless. "For all my blunders in the Maquis, for everything I have done to him and against him. "

 Janeway wanted to replay with something mundane like "It'll be alright, Tom. " It was *not* that simple.

 "Have you ever *tried* talking to Chakotay? " Janeway said then, watching the helmsman's expression.

 "Talking?!" Life came back into his eyes and they flashed. " You must be joking, captain! You might as well talk to a brick wall!" 

"Tom, " Janeway changed her tone to something more stern, more firm. " I am *not* blind. I can see what's going on. No --don't you dare say anything, pilot--I am not telling you to have those cold, impersonal chats with Chakotay. I want you to learn how to communicate. Open your heart to him. Tell him what's in your heart. "

 Paris shook his head. " I do not want to get *hurt* again, " he said so softly that Janeway almost didn't hear him. "I do not want to go back down that road again. "

~ ~ ~ ~

Your kisses are like pearls,
so different and so rare
But anger stole the jewels away
and love has left you bare, 
Made you cry ...
These tears of pearls

 Well I could be the tired joker
pour my heart to get you in
Sacrifice my happiness
Just so I could win
Maybe cry ...
These tears of pearls

Chakotay sat on the floor of his quarters. It was dimly-lit,well-suited for meditation and contemplation. He gazed at the medicine bundle, trying to maintain a calm mental composure. But today, his mind-sea was in turmoil, chaotic.

 He could see angry blue eyes accusing him silently, rebuking him with their intensity. He could feel the frustration and barely-concealed fury simmering beneath the handsome features which had made many many swoon Why? The blue eyes seemed to ask. Why are you doing this to me?Chakotay found that he *couldn't* answer, couldn't reply.

 He remembered the time when he ordered Paris to the brig, even though it was revealed to him later by the captain and Tuvok that it was all a plot to flush out a Maquis traitor. He remembered being pushed to the floor --- by the stars, the force behind it. He remembered seeing the expression on Paris's face: suddenly contrite, like a school-boy aware of his deed. He wanted so much to embrace Paris, to tell him it was *alright*. But he couldn't.

 Now there seemed to be a constant battle between both of them. The verbal biting. Vicious jabs. They were two victims caught in a deadlock, a dance which had no ending. Every attempt at reconciliation was met with rejection. Every conversation became cold, impersonal, superficial.

 Chakotay was well-aware of Paris's scarred background, his strained relationship with his admiral father, of his tarnished track-record. Paris was always *trying* to hide away those scars, those hurts. Often, Chakotay could see Paris prowling along the fringes of Voyager's community. Trying *so* hard to find acceptance. The only people he knew who had accepted Paris as he truely was were Ensign Kim and B'Elanna. But otherwise, Paris was a lone wolf.

 The first officer found himself clenching his hands. In a way, he himself was a lone wolf. He had a strained relationship with his father too. He had a scarred Starfleet record too, abandoning the world of the Federation to join the Maquis. And he still *felt* the shards of a shattered relationship. Chakotay closed his eyes. Seska. Seska, all sensuality. All evil too. He was an innocent fool, caught in a web of lies, deceits and half-truths. Now, he was still *recovering*. His wounds were still recovering ...

 The door-chime woke him from the reverie and he looked around, realizing that there were unshed tears in his eyes. He wiped them off, furious. What if Janeway caught him in *this* state ...

 "Who is it? " He said, wrapping up the medicine bundle gently.

 A pause. "It's me ...Tom. "

 Oh Great Spirit! Chakotay thought with a sudden surge of panic. Why is he here for ?

 The door opened to reveal a young man who apparently couldn't find the comfort (and serenity) of sleep. He was still in his uniform.

 "Chakotay ...sir," Paris said slowly, as if unwillingly to speak any further.

 "Is anything *wrong*? " Chakotay asked.

 Paris's head snapped up and his mouth was thin-lipped. Another never-ending dance of pain, Chakotay mused.

 "I think we *need* to talk, Chakotay. About us." Paris said finally.

About time, Chakotay sighed.The confrontation.

 "Alright," the Native American nodded and ushered Paris into his quarters. "Sit down and we will talk. "

 "You always were the practical one, weren't you?" Paris growled.

 "Are you here for a decent talk or a fight? " Chakotay found himself saying these words and cursed inwardly. Stupid, stupid, stupid ...

 Paris didn't say a thing. He became grimmer.

 "Tom, " Chakotay tentatively put his hand on Paris's shoulder. The muscle beneath his palm tightened. " Tom, do you have something to tell me?"

 The lights must be playing tricks. But Chakotay thought he saw tears on Paris's face, rolling down like pearls.

 "I am so *tired*," Paris's voice was soft, almost sobbing. "I am sick of this constant fighting between the two of us. I am so sick of it ..." He took a deep breath, marshalling himself. " But ...but at the end, I will probably end up in the same place. Nothing ...a failure. I try so hard to you to listen to me. But at the end ..."

 Chakotay was touched by the rawness of Paris's words. These words were exactly what he wanted to tell Paris.

 "But you will never, never ...understand me, " Paris shook his head. "Even when I first met you, there was always a gulf between us ..."

 "I *tried* to understand you, you beautiful fool!" Chakotay said sharply. He softened his tone, aware of the hyper-sensitivity inherent in Paris." But you always hid beneath that cocky top-pilot facade ...that is *why* I never understood you! Even in the Maquis, you pushed me away as you pushed others away! Where the hell is the *real* Tom Paris?"

 Blue eyes gazed back at him. There was a crying soul in those depths.

 Chakotay did one thing he knew. He took Paris into his arms.

 For a moment, Paris stiffened, tried to pull away. He slowly relaxed ...and started to sob. Great rasping sobs. Chakotay stroked the soft blonde head gently, soothingly. He knew he was looking at the real, undiluted version of the smart-alecky helmsman. A vulnerable soul ...

 The tears falling on his uniform were so precious, so ...rare. He wiped them away, using a finger. He swore to protect the source of those precious tears. Protect, nourish, love ...

 They might kill themselves in the end. They were *so* different in personality, character. Angels might burn where they were to venture into. But where in the world did love become so conditional? They were veterans of wars, fallen soldiers. But Chakotay didn't care ...

All these mixed emotion
we keep locked away like stolen pearls
Stolen pearls devotions
we keep locked away from all the world.


Disclaimer: Chakotay and Paris are characters from Star Trek: Voyager and Paramount Pictures. This story is only a figment of my imagination. It is not for profit.