Starting Over 4/?

Pairing all except C/P are implied

Major Character death: In the beginning. 

Rated R for language and an ass kicking 

It is too long? Too much chatter? Too slow moving?

Feedback is welcome

I borrowed the names of Chakotay's brothers and sisters from
Myrna's Perfect Timing. It was the only story I could remember actually giving them names. 

Starting Over Part 4
By Maxine

In the days that followed Chakotay spent his time making 
arrangements for the interview for Tom, getting supplies for the 
house including a crib for Miral. He went to his mother several times 
to ask her opinion on different things like what foods she thought 
would be best to have handy for a child. Should he get new sheets for 
the spare beds? Was there enough free space for Miral to run around 
in without getting hurt? Should he remove the breakable stuff so she 
doesn't get hurt? Maria loved her son very much and she considered 
herself a patient woman, but by Friday morning she was ready to tie 
Chakotay down and feed him any root available to put him to sleep for twelve hours. 

"Tay you really shouldn't worry about these things. I am sure Tom will be able to help you move anything that might cause his daughter harm." She was completely exacerbated with him.

"I know momma but I just want everything to be perfect. It isn't everyday I have company especially company that is going to be 
staying for any length of time."

"Tay just admit that it is only because of who it is that you are going crazy."


"Do you think your mother is so slow that she couldn't figure out that you are in love with Tom?" shaking her head in amusement.

"Momma please don't say something like that out loud."

"Why are you so afraid to let your feelings be known? I know it isn't because you think your love isn't the right kind of love. Your father and I raised you better than that."

"No that is not why. Tom doesn't know how I feel and I don't 
want him to know."

"For spirits sake Tay why not?"

"Momma for many reasons. First and foremost he lost his wife 
recently. Second I use to be his commanding officer. Third he isn't interested in men that way."

"And you know this how?"

"I just do momma, now please drop it and don't say anything to anyone. I don't need anyone scaring the hell out of him. He has to come to the decision to stay or go on his own."

"I think you are being silly my son. I think anyone, man or woman would be truly blessed to have you love them. But I will say nothing more." `For now' she added to herself.

"Thank you now will you help me with this food or not?"

"Of course, you know I always will help you." Maria stood on her toes and kissed her youngest son on the cheek. Then set about getting lunch ready for his guests.


At exactly 1300 hundred hours Chakotay heard the hover car stop in 
front of the house. He steeled himself to walk not run through the 
front door to greet Tom and his family.

Maria followed Chakotay out to greet the Paris family. The first to 
emerge from the car was Miriam Paris.

"Mrs. Paris it's a pleasure to see you again." Chakotay
put his hand out to shake her. Miriam took it and then pulled him into a hug.

"It's Miriam Chakotay." He laughed and nodded his acceptance.

"Miriam this is my mother Maria. Momma this is Tom's mother 

The two ladies shook hands and then hugged each other. 
"It is a pleasure to finally meet you Miriam my son has told me quite a story about you."

"None of it is true." She answered back.

Chakotay walked around the car to greet Tom and help him with Miral.
"Tom I am glad you are here."

"I am glad to be here Cha." Tom pulled him into a hug. And whispered "I have missed you." Chakotay smiled.

"I have missed you too." Chakotay opened the backdoor and took Miral out of her seat. 

"Hello pumpkin.' He said as he kissed her forehead.

"Cha! Me gonna stay wif ou."

"Yes that's right pumpkin you are going to stay with me for a couple of days."

"NO! gonna stay for good. Daddy said."

"Miral I said that maybe we would stay near Tay not with him."

"Wanna stay with Cha!" She hugged Chakotay's neck so tight that he began to choke. 

"Sweetie you are hurting Chakotay, let go." Tom pried her arms off from around his neck.

"Sorry Cha she doesn't know her own strength yet."

Chakotay coughed as he gulped in air and laughed at the same time.
"That's alright Tom I will just have to remember not to upset her when I am holding her." He smiled at the little girl and then her father.
Tom felt his knees go weak for the second time in a few minutes. The 
first time was when Chakotay came out of the house. He thought he had never seen a more perfect being in his life. `Calm yourself
Tommy, it wouldn't do for him to figure it out. You'll be out on your
ass in no time flat.' Shaking his head slightly Tom went about getting
their things out of the car. Miriam came around and took Miral from 
Chakotay and he helped Tom.

"Right this way, I will show you to your rooms and you can put you stuff in and then we can have lunch. You haven't eaten yet have

"No we haven't had lunch yet and I am sure that Miral is hungry." 
Answered Miriam. Leading them into the house and down the main hallway. To the right was Chakotay's room across the hall was the room he had set up for Tom. Down the hall a bit further was Miriam's room and across from her was Miral's. The bathroom was at the end of the hall and there was another one off the kitchen Chakotay explained. Tom took his stuff and put it on the floor next to the bed he would be sleeping in and walked down to Miral's room. When he went inside he was surprised to say the least.

"Cha you didn't have to get all this stuff for Miral." 

Looking around there was stuffed animals and toys everywhere. 

"It was no trouble honestly, My sister Layla and sister-in-law Chandra gave me everything. It is all stuff their children have outgrown." Chakotay was pleased that he had surprised Tom. Miral pushed her way out of her father's arms and slid down his body. 

"Wanna play now daddy."

"How about we change you and have lunch then you can play." 

She didn't look too happy about that idea but she didn't fight Tom 
either. Chakotay left Tom to change Miral and checked on Miriam. He 
found her and his mother sitting on the bed talking and laughing like 
they were old friends.

"Chakotay this is a wonderful room. Thank you for making me feel so welcome."

"You are welcome, it really wasn't any trouble." Maria said something quietly that Chakotay didn't catch but obviously Miriam did because both women started to laugh. Chakotay just shook his head.

"Well lunch is ready whenever you are Miriam. Would you like to freshen up first?"

"Yes I would I will be out in a minute thank you." Miriam headed for the bathroom as Tom came out of Miral's room carrying her. 

Maria waited for Miriam while the men and child went off to the kitchen.

"Cha this is a really nice home."
"Thanks Tom it's a comfortable house."
"I really appreciate you letting us stay and helping me out Cha."
"My pleasure."

Once they arrived in the kitchen Chakotay had pulled out the highchair he got from his sister in law and Tom placed Miral in it. Tom then sat at the table and looked around. He was impressed with how comfortable Chakotay's home made him feel. 

He could get use to being here. He really wished he could stay for 
good. But he doubted Chakotay would want him to. He had his own life to live. Tom figured he would just bide his time for now. Thinking 
back to a conversation he had with his mother a couple of days ago. 
She hinted that Kathryn had mentioned Chakotay was actually holding 
out hope that someone from his old crew would see him as more then 
just a friend. When Tom said he thought is was Kathryn his mother 
laughed and said something cryptic like `wrong side'. Did she mean wrong side of the Voyager crew or wrong side as in gender? Tom hoped it was the latter but he didn't want to prod his mother too much.
Tom never revealed to anyone in his family that he was bisexual. He knew it would bring the wrath of his father down on him hard. Tom believed that his mother felt the same way although he could never remember her actually agreeing with the admiral on his view about who should love whom. 

Chakotay watched Tom, as he became deeper in thought. He noticed Tom wasn't frowning but he wasn't smiling either. Perhaps he didn't 
really like it here but didn't want Chakotay to know. No Chakotay 
mentally shook his head. Tom never had a problem with saying what he liked and didn't like. Going deeper in thought. 

Come to think of it Tom never did actually say he was against same 
sex relationships. There were a few onboard Voyager. None of the 
involved parties flaunted it but they didn't hide it either. Tom
was good friend with Greg and Gerron they were a couple. There was Dalby and Hogan, while Tom and Ken didn't actually get along Tom ever seemed bothered by the relationship. Chakotay remembered that Tom had helped Donna Henley pursue Samantha Wildman. Where was he going with these thoughts? Why was he trying to talk himself into believing that Tom might not mind that type of relationship.

"Tay are you with us?" Chakotay jumped when he heard his mother call him.

"Sorry I guess my old mind just went wandering." He couldn't do anything but smile at the three adults now staring at him.

"Wandering to a good place I hope." Tom smiled back and Chakotay felt himself blush. Tom noticed too. `hmmm wonder where he was.'
"Always good places in my mind." 

Chakotay went about serving lunch and making sure everyone had all 
they wanted. The conversation was upbeat and laughter rang through 
the house. The ladies got up to clear the table. 

"Tay why don't you show Tom around the property while Miriam and I clean up the dishes we will get Miral down for her nap."

"Yes Tom go get some fresh air it just might help clear your mind."

"Yes ma'am." 

Chakotay and Tom left their mothers huddled together cooing over 
Miral. Chakotay showed Tom his family's homestead pointing out
the houses of his brothers and sisters. Tom noticed that each house 
looked the same as Chakotay's but with one difference. There were 
children's toys and bicycles in the other yards. They all looked like 
homes. Then Tom remembered how Chakotay referring to his as a house not a home, he wondered why that was. But he decided he had a more pressing question he wanted to ask.

"So Cha you want to tell me where your mind wandered off to in the kitchen?"

Chakotay felt himself blush again but he figured what the hell.
"I was thinking about Greg and Gerron and Donna and Samantha."

"What made you think of them?"

"Oh I am not really sure, I guess I was just wondering how they are doing. Greg and Gerry are here on Dorvan but I don't see 
them much. Donna and Sam settled on Trebus as you know. I think Sam really took it hard that after her husband found out she was still 
alive, he divorced her and remarried."

"Yea that sucked but it was good for Donna, she really loves Sam. I know she would have been miserable if they didn't stay together. Do relationships like that bother you Cha?"

"What same sex relationships?" Tom nodded.

"No not at all. My people believe that the soul of the person is what you should love not the body it comes in."

"I didn't know that. I know my father use to freak whenever he saw a same sex couple. Boy would he go on and on about it. Made us kids afraid to have friends that were the same sex. We were afraid he 
would think we were gay or something and beat us."

"I am really sorry to hear that Tom. But do you know how stupid
that is? I mean to deny the love you feel for someone just because of 
their gender?"

"Yes I know but that is the way my father thought."

"Do you think that way Tom? I didn't think you did you were friends 
with Greg and Gerry."

"Hell no! I figure that as long as you love someone and they love
you back it doesn't matter what their body looks like."

"I didn't think it bothered you but we never actually discussed it 

"No we haven't. I guess it just never came up. Can I ask you 
something else Cha?"

"You can ask me anything you want Tom."

"Have you ever had a male lover?" Tom asked sheepishly. He
couldn't believe that he actually had the courage to ask.

"As a matter of fact I have when I was in the academy my roommate
and I were lovers." Chakotay hoped Tom didn't hear his voice tremble.
"I learn something new about you every time I talk to you Cha."

"Can I ask you the same question Tom?"

"UMM No I haven't."

"Was it because you weren't interested or you never found the right one?" Chakotay whispered a silent prayer it was the latter and not the former.

"Cha if I answer that you have to swear never to repeat it in front 
of my mother."

"Tom I would never betray a confidence not ever."

"I know you wouldn't but I have never admitted this to anyone before. I have been attracted to couple men but I was afraid my father would 
find out. I was afraid he would either kill me or the guy." Tom 
released the breath he didn't realize he was holding. `Gods I can't 
believe I just told him that.'

"Your secret is safe with me Tom I promise." Chakotay couldn't help 
be feel the joy in his heart. There was hope after all. They continued to walk in silence for a while. Both men caught up in their own thoughts which if they could hear each other were on the same path. Chakotay wondering how he could find out if Tom would be interested in him. Tom wondering again if his mother did in fact mean `wrong side' as in wrong gender. Then he wondered if Kathryn was the wrong gender who could Chakotay be holding out hope for? Probably one of the Maquis.

Tom shook off the negative feeling he got and just admired the view.
"This place is really beautiful Chakotay. In all the times you described it I knew it was but not to this extent."

"I am glad you feel that way Tom. If you get the job and decide to take it, it will help that you like where you are living."

"I have decided already that if I get to be a pilot for Dorvan I am taking it. I don't want to stay on earth anymore. Not when there is always a chance of running into my father. I would rather pretend he doesn't exist anymore."

"You know I don't think I have ever told you how amazing I think you are. For all the crap you put up with growing up, to end up being the man you are just amazes me."

"You didn't always think so. But that's okay because at the time, I wasn't much of anything. Being stuck in the Delta Quadrant helped me in more ways than I care to count."

"I think that even if you didn't end up there you would have turned out just the way you are now."

"I can't agree with you on that one Chakotay. For one thing I would only be getting out of prison now. That is if I survived my stay. I probably would have gone back to drinking and getting by however I could." Tom laughed "bet no one can say that being thrown 
seventy-five thousand light years from home is a good thing."

"Oh I don't know Tom I can think of a few others who would agree with you. Think about the people who would have never met their life partners, if they hadn't been thrown together. Donna and Samantha are a good example of that. They wouldn't be together and I believe that if Greg and Gerron hadn't been given that time they wouldn't have gotten together either. Think about it, if the Caretaker hadn't caught us most likely all of the Maquis in my cell would have been killed or captured. And if we weren't I believe most of us would have ended up too bitter to want to feel anything good." 

Tom shivered at the thought of Chakotay or any of the Maquis dying 
instead of living in the DQ all that time.

"Well thank goodness it didn't work out that way. I would have never met B'Elanna or Harry. And you and I would never have become friends."

"Than we both have something to be quite happy about, because 
at this point in my life I don't think I could do without a friend like you." Chakotay stated with his whole heart and Tom knew he meant 
it. Tom couldn't help himself he grabbed the older man and hugged

"I feel the same way, Cha."

Chakotay had to fight the urge to kiss Tom as they hugged. Oh this 
might be more difficult than he had thought. Pulling himself out of 
the hug before Tom felt his growing need.

"We should be getting back, I am sure my entire family has 
descended on my house by now. We need to save your mother from the crowd." 

"I am sure she can handle herself.' Tom laughed as they turned back in the direction of Chakotay's house. When they arrived there Chakotay was proven right everyone of his family was outside on 
the lawn talking and laughing, waiting for the two men to return. 
Chakotay introduce Tom to all the adults. Tom was gracious and 
polite, though he seemed a bit uncomfortable. Chakotay put it down to the fact that Tom wasn't really convinced that they wouldn't hold him accountable for his father's actions.

Dinner was a major production, all the women invaded Chakotay's 
kitchen and set about feeding the fourteen adults and eight children. 
Tom sat back and watched Chakotay interact with everyone, he seemed to really love his family and that love was given back. Tom felt saddened by the fact that he would never experience this with his own family. His sisters were much older than he and they didn't seem
to ever have the time for family gathering. Then again whenever there was a Paris family gathering the admiral spent the time lecturing his 
children about what it meant to be a true Paris. That didn't inspire fun, it inspired the need to get out. Miriam did try to make the family holidays as pleasant as possible. The only times they actually had fun was when the admiral was on an away mission.

Chakotay watched Tom out of the corner of his eye. He seemed to be 
enjoying himself talking to Nayib and Beyvahl. Tom seemed to strike 
up a quick friendship with Nayib's oldest son Jamal. The two of them 
had the same personality, lighthearted and fun loving. Chakotay heard them making tentative plans for a hike through the hills to the east if Tom did decide to stay. He wasn't upset at that, he liked the
idea that his family seem to accept Tom for what he was. In the middle of his musing his sister Khola approached him. 

"You know if you want him why don't you just tell him?" 

Chakotay jumped about startled out of his thoughts.

"And what makes you think I want him brat?"

"Because if the look on your face says anything, it says you want to jump him here and now. I have seen that look before, although 
never on you. It looks good big brother." She smiled up at her hero
"Shit! I can't do this. If I can't hide how I feel about him from you how in hell am I going to hide it from Tom?"

"Why hide it? Besides I don't think anyone else noticed." She wasn't going to tell him that Tom's mother had been watching him the 
hold time. Or about the pleased look once she realized that Chakotay 
was in fact eyeing her son.

"Why hide it? Oh I don't know maybe because if he knows he 
will hightail it out of here so fast, no sensor around would be able 
to track him."

"You know for such an intelligent man you can be completely stupid sometimes Tay. If Tom isn't attracted to you then I will give up my membership to the interspacial coffee lover's group. And you know how much that means to me."

"I think you bumped your head on the way over here Khola, Tom 
is not attracted to me."

"What makes you so sure?"

"Well for one, I am too old for him, two we are friends and nothing more and three he prefers women over men. He said so himself."

"HMM I think you misunderstood him or he doesn't realize it but I am telling you that Tom Paris is attracted to you."

"This conversation is over and will not be repeated do you understand me young lady?" Khola laughed at him "Like I am afraid of you. Please Tay don't kid yourself. I am only of the few that you can not intimidate. But I love you anyway."

"Thanks Khola I love you too."

By the end of the evening Tom not only had plans with Jamal for 
hiking but Nayib made arrangements for him to check out a 20th 
century truck he had in his garage. Nay hadn't be able to get it to 
actually stay running and Tom offered to take a look at it. If Nayib 
was surprised that Tom had knowledge of anything for the 20th century he didn't show it. Saying good night to everyone, Chakotay and Tom went in the house. Tom off to put a very sleepy Miral to bed and Chakotay went to the kitchen to finish cleaning up. When he got there Miriam and Maria had just finished putting the last of the food 

"Tay tomorrow we will have a picnic out in the grove with all this food you have no one will go hungry."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea." Miriam added, "I didn't get the chance to explore your homestead."

"Well than consider it done tomorrow." Maria answered.

"Well I will say my good nights." Miriam and Maria hugged good night, and for the second time that day Miriam surprised Chakotay by hugging him too.

"Good Night Chakotay and thank you for making me and my son 
so welcome. You are a special man."

"Good Night Miriam and you are welcome." Chakotay hugged her 
back Maria left soon after that. Chakotay turned out the lights in the 
main living area and made his way to his room. He noticed that
Tom's door was halfway open, he knocked lightly and Tom told him to come in.

"I just wanted to say good night Tom. I hope you enjoyed yourself today."

"Oh I did Cha your family is great!"

"Yea they have their good points." Chakotay smiled "Well good 
night Tom."

"Good Night Cha, sleep well, dream sweet."

Chakotay went to his room took off his clothes and though usually he 
slept with nothing on he decided to put on a pair of shorts just in 
case he had to get up in the middle of the night for some reason. No 
sense in shocking the hell of out anyone. Climbing into bed and 
turning off the light, he felt into a deep sleep almost immediately. 
Across the hall Tom laid on his bed thinking about all he witnessed 
today and the conversation he had with Nayib. It seemed that Nay was 
convinced that Chakotay was in love with someone but never told the 
person for fear of losing his friendship. The conversation Tom had 
with his mother came back to him again. He had already figured out 
that Chakotay was interested in a member of the Voyager crew and that it was a man. Now with Nayib's comments it wasn't just attraction it was love. Tom had narrowed the field down to four or five possibilities and he listed himself among them. More out of hope than any concrete evidence. `Well there just might be some hope after all.'

Once again Tom felt asleep with `Good Night Beauty' on his lips but 
B'Elanna didn't come to mind this time.