Title: Talk
Author: Maxine
Pairings: C/P (later) K/7 & Tu/T (implied)
Rating PG-13 right now.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them part and parcel, I
just wanted them to have a bit of fun.
Feedback: If you would like sure plainedge77@yahoo.com
Special Thanks to Sammi Jo for betaing for me. Your
help and patience was greatly appreciated.
Summary: Tom is feeling down, Chakotay gets him to


Tom Paris rang the door chime of Commander Chakotay's
office, unable to figure out why he had been called
there. He hadn't been in trouble in a long time, and
knew it wasn't because he had done anything in
particular wrong. Chakotay probably noticed that he
was a bit distracted today. Tom heard the call to
enter and the doors swished open.

"Come on in, Lieutenant."

"Have I done something wrong, Commander?" Tom knew he
sounded apprehensive but couldn't help it.

"No, not at all, Lieutenant. Have a seat. Can I get
you something to drink?"

"No thanks. I'll stand." Tom stood at ease.

"Lieutenant, relax. This is not the Spanish
Inquisition. I just wanted to talk to you about the
fact that you seemed distracted the last week or so. 
It's nothing that anyone has noticed or complained

"You noticed." Tom stated matter of factly.

"It's my job to notice things like this, Lieutenant."

"I know, Commander. I didn't mean to be rude." Tom
looked at his feet, unable to meet the older man's

"Apology accepted, although you didn't sound rude.
Tell me what's going on. Something is obviously

They both stood there looking at each other for a few
minutes, an uncomfortable silence fell between them,
Tom shifted his feet, and Chakotay just waited. 
Finally Tom looked him in the eye. He saw something
other than disdain and knew he had to answer but
didn't know how.

    "What do you want me to say, Commander?" 

    "At this point, Lieutenant, anything."

Tom stood silently, looking past Chakotay out the
viewport, at the stars rushing by. How could he
explain to the older man what was going on, when he
barely understood it himself?

"Tom, just talk to *me*. Chakotay. Not your first
officer or your former captain. Just me, your friend.
I want to help if I can I'm concerned about you."

"Off the record?"

"Yes, this is just between us." Chakotay motioned to
the chair opposite him. "Sit? Please?"

"I don't know where to begin." Tom sighed as he took
a seat.

"Anywhere. Just talk." Chakotay sat back behind his

"First, there's Harry." 

"What about him?"

"I don't know.  It's like. well. like he's decided
that I am not good enough anymore. We're still
friends. He just seems to be more interested in
getting to know Seven, then hanging out with me these

"If I remember correctly, you encouraged him to do
just that."

"I know. Geez. I sound jealous, don't I?" Tom
squirmed in his chair, not liking the idea that
Chakotay might think he was jealous.

"I'm not sure if jealous is the correct term. Perhaps
envious of the closeness they seem to be sharing."

"I don't know. Maybe. I feel like a jilted lover."

"Are you?"

"NO! I never looked at Harry that way,"  he stated

"What about Seven?"

"No, never. She's not my type."

"Intelligent and strong?"

"No. Tall, blonde and stacked. I had intelligent and
strong with B'Elanna remember?" Sadness filled his

"Is that another part of the problem? Something to do
with B'Elanna?"

"Yeah it is." Tom spoke so softly that Chakotay had
to strain to hear the admission.

"I thought you were the one who broke it off."

"I did, but no one knows the reason why."

"Do you want to tell me? Or would you prefer not to
talk about it?"

"It's not that I don't want to. Not really." Tom
wrung his hands together, trying to think of a way to
say what came next without sounding hurt. "It's just.
B'Elanna wanted someone else to notice her; to see
that she wasn't all Engineer and Klingon. That's why
she went out with me."

"She used you?" Chakotay couldn't keep the anger out
of his voice.

"No, she didn't use me. I knew from the start that
she really cared about this other person. We were, and
*are*, still friends. I was helping her. The problem
was that I started to hope for more. I hoped I could
help her forget about him. I think she was sort of
hoping for the same thing." Tom hoped that this
explanation would calm Chakotay down. He didn't want
the older man to believe his friend had been callous
or unfeeling. 

"Only it didn't work out that way, did it?" Although
a bit calmer now, Chakotay was still somewhat upset.
He could see that Tom had been hurt, even if the
younger man had agreed to the arrangement. 

"No, it didn't. What happened was that I started to
feel more for her, and she still thought of me as a

"A spacer?"

"Yeah. Someone to fill a gap; a gap that was meant
for someone else. I decided that no matter how lonely
I would feel once she was gone, it couldn't be as
lonely as I already felt."

"I am sorry, Tom. I had no idea."

"No one did. Although from what B'Elanna tells me,
he's finally noticed her, now that we've stopped

"Can you tell me who it is, or would that be breaking
a confidence?"

"I'm sure she wouldn't mind you knowing, but you
might not believe me."

"Honestly, Tom, when you two starting dating, I was
surprised." Not to mention upset, he thought. He saw
Tom's eyebrow do a wonderful imitation of Tuvok's, and
laughed. "For no other reason than I thought she had
changed her preferences. In the past B'Elanna had
always been attracted to dark haired, dark skinned,
thicker build men."

"Like you and Ayala."


"Well, that *is* still her preference."


"Yeah. I guess I really was off the beaten track for

"I don't think that's true either."

"Sure it is. You, Ayala and this other guy. besides
the looks you are all strong, intelligent, centered,
and in control. I'm none of those."

"Tom, don't be ridiculous. Other than the physical
differences between you and me, and *Greg* for that
matter, there is no difference."

"Chakotay, please. you're the one who is being
ridiculous. I'm so off center, the Leaning Tower of
Pisa looks straight. I act before I think. Doesn't
sounds like control to me. Intelligent. average here.
And strong? Not likely."

"Tom, don't say that about yourself. It's not true.
Okay, so you don't react to things the same way I do.
You shouldn't. You're not me. But you are very
intelligent, and I know I would want you on my side in
a fight, if you're talking physical strength. As for
strength of character, you have that too."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence Chakotay." Tom

"You're welcome. So who is it?" he prodded. Chakotay
really couldn't think of who B'Elanna would be
interested in that she would turn Tom away.

"Geez, Chakotay you are a nosy one aren't you?" 

Both men laughed.

"I guess I am. I'm just curious, is all." Chakotay
said, thinking to himself, 'Why anyone would not want
you blows my mind.'

"Promise not to laugh or freak, okay?"

"I promise."

"Tuvok." Tom said with a straight face, although he
really wanted to laugh when he saw the startled look
on Chakotay's face.

"Tuvok? Our Tuvok? The resident unemotional, detached

"One and the same." Tom grinned.

"She thought dating you would get a rise out of him?"
Chakotay was confused. Why B'Elanna would think that
dating Tom would bother Tuvok was beyond him. 

"Yeah, and it seemed to work," Tom said with a hint
of resignation.

"Spirits! Will wonders never cease."

"Yeah, kinda makes you think that anything is
possible, doesn't it?"

"If only.." Chakotay sighed.

"If only what?"

"Nothing. Are you feeling any better?"

"Yeah, actually I am. Thanks, Chakotay. I guess
talking about it does help."

"I have an idea. Why don't we go and have some
dinner, and then play some pool. We can have a couple
of drinks, and if you feel like it, we can continue

"Why, Commander. are you asking me for a date?" Tom
batted his eyes. 

"Spirits, Tom! I'm asking a friend to join me for a
night out." 

"I know. I just like teasing you." Tom grinned. 

"Yes, I know. So what do you say?"

"Sure. Why not? Food, a couple of beers and some pool
sounds like a good idea."

"Okay. How about we meet in the mess hall in
forty-five minutes? I have a report I need to finish
up first."

"Sounds good to me. Oh, and I promise not to take too
many rations from you in the pool games."

"Thank you. See you later, Tom." Chakotay smiled.

"See ya Chakotay." As Tom left Chakotay's office,
Chakotay let out the breath he had been holding. 'What
the hell did I do that for? How the hell am I going to
spend the entire evening with him and not want to kiss
him? Spirits, he looked so lost talking about

Pacing his office, running his hands through his hair,
Chakotay wanted to kick himself. Usually he kept his
distance from Tom. It was easier to maintain his
composure that way. Although, he had just spent the
better part of a half-hour with him, and got through
it, so a couple of hours should be fine. They would
just eat, talk, and play pool. "It'll be fine."
Chakotay told himself. He quickly reviewed the report
he needed to and left his office.


Tom found himself whistling as he walked from
Chakotay's office to his quarters. He did feel a bit
better. Chakotay was right. talking helped a lot.
Although he was still a bit sad about B'Elanna, he
knew he had done the right thing. He then realized
that while he thought Harry was the reason for his
feeling down, it was actually B'Elanna. He felt like
he had failed once again. He *hadn't* failed. The goal
she had set seemed to be reached. She *was* spending
more time with Tuvok. Okay, so it was only
work-related, but she was hopeful. 

  His mood swung back again. Suddenly going out didn't
sound so appealing. Maybe he should just call Chakotay
and beg off. The possibility of running into Harry and
Seven, or worse, B'Elanna and Tuvok, didn't sit well
all of a sudden. No... he wouldn't do that to
Chakotay. He had been a good friend today, listening
to him whine about his lack of companionship. The
least he could do was show his thanks by having dinner
with him. Maybe he could convince Chakotay to just
come back to his quarters, and they could watch a vid,
or play cards and talk. He would ask him while they


Forty-five minutes later, Tom walked into the mess
hall, looking around for Chakotay. He shrugged when he
didn't see him, and went to the counter. 

"Hi, Tom," Neelix greeted him with his usual

"Hi, Neelix." Tom smiled at his friend. 

"Good to see you Tom. You haven't been in much
lately." Truly concerned about the pilot, Neelix knew
that Tom stayed away from the mess hall whenever he
was feeling down.

"Yeah, I know. I've been eating in more."

"Are you feeling alright?" He hoped just by asking
that Tom would tell him what was wrong, although in
the back of his mind, Neelix knew it would take a bit
more the just asking once.

"Sure Neelix. Just needed some time alone, you know?"
Tom didn't want to be rude to the Talaxian, but he
also didn't want to spill his guts to anyone else

"I understand, Tom. Enjoy your dinner," Neelix said,
then looked up and smiled. "Hello Commander."

"Hi Neelix. Hi Tom. Sorry I'm late."

"You aren't. I just got here myself."

"Okay, so what looks good?"

"Nothing here," Tom whispered, not wanting to hurt
Neelix's feelings. Tom wasn't hungry, having lost his
appetite once he got back to his quarters. He knew he
had to eat something, though. He hadn't eaten yet
today, and he didn't want to cause Chakotay any more

"Well, how about we just fake it for now. We can get
something later at Sandrine's, if we're hungry."

"Okay." They both decided on the purple and green
stuff, having overheard Neelix tell someone that the
Delaney sisters claimed it tasted like sweet potato

They made their way to a table in the corner, a table
that Chakotay had noticed Tom frequently using these
past couple of weeks. Off in the corner, away from
everyone, he would see Tom staring out into space, not
really eating or paying attention to what was going on
around him. 

"So, Chakotay... tell me honestly. Why would you want
to spend your evening with me, when you could probably
do something far more exciting, like meditate?"

"Maybe I wanted to find an excuse to get you out of
your quarters. Or maybe I just enjoy your company."
Chakotay smiled.

"Yeah, right." If there was a hint of sarcasm in
Tom's voice, Chakotay seemed to ignore it.

"Seriously, Tom. I meant it when I said I was
concerned. You are not one who usually hides out in
his quarters. Plus, it will give us some more time to
talk. I have a feeling that there's more to what is
going on than what you've told me."

"So our counseling session isn't over?" 

"It wasn't a counseling session, Tom. I told you it
was, and still is, just two friends talking. I said I
wanted to help."

Tom let out a heavy sigh. He knew he sounded
ungrateful, and he didn't mean to. He really did
appreciate Chakotay's willingness to hear him whine.

"Again, I'm sorry for sounding rude. I know you're
just trying to help me work through everything. I
guess I'm just feeling sorry for myself again."

"That's why I thought we could keep talking."

"Thanks, but would you mind if we didn't go to the
holodeck? Maybe we can just go back to my quarters and
watch a vid, or play cards and talk. I'm really not up
to it."

 Chakotay froze at the invitation. He knew he could
handle being at Sandrine's with other people around,
but being with Tom alone in his quarters? Now *that*
could be a problem. When he looked in Tom's face, his
resolve disappeared. He could see that Tom really
didn't want to go out in public.

"Whatever you want, Tom, is fine with me. Just as
long as you keep talking." To himself, he thought
"That's it. if he keeps talking, I'll be okay. As long
as we stay on safe subjects, I can handle it.

"Great! Thanks! So. are you done? I know I am. Who
said this tasted like sweet potato pie again?"

"Jenny and Megan."

"Yeah, well, when I see them I'm going to find out
where the hell they got their sweet potatoes from.
Because that tasted like dirty socks, not any sweet
potato pie I ever had."

"Well, if I wasn't done before, I am now. Thanks for
that comparison." Chakotay looked down at his plate in
disgust and dropped his fork.

"Hey, Tom."

Neither Tom nor Chakotay had noticed Harry coming into
the mess hall, much less over to them. What Chakotay
*did* notice was that Tom stiffened a bit when he
heard his friend's voice.

"Hey, Harry. How are you?" Tom asked, hoping Harry
didn't hear the slight bit of stress he felt.

"Good, thanks. I haven't seen you around much lately.
I was wondering if you'd like to come with Seven and
me to shoot some pool."

"Thanks, Harry, but Chakotay and I are going to watch
a vid tonight." 

Chakotay wondered if it was just him, or did that
sound like he and Tom actually did have a date. From
the look on Harry's face, he didn't think he imagined

"Oh. Okay. Well, maybe some other time than." Harry
said disappointedly. 

"Sure, Harry. Just let me know when. If we don't have
anything planned, I'll come and shoot some pool with

Again, Chakotay and Harry were surprised, but only
Harry showed it. Chakotay realized that Tom was trying
to let Harry know that he wasn't sitting around
waiting for Harry to throw him a "friend" bone. Harry
just nodded and walked away.

"Sorry, Chakotay," Tom said quietly.

"For what?"

"For using you as an excuse not to hang out with
Harry and Seven."

"No problem. I figured you didn't want to just say
no. That would have probably caused Harry to ask why."

"Yeah, and I don't want to come across as being
jealous or anything."

"I understand. And you know, anytime you want, you
can just give me a call and we can do something
together." Inwardly, he thought, 'I have a list of
things a mile long I would love to share with you.'

"Thanks, Chakotay. How about that vid?"

"Sure. Just nothing too cheesy, okay?"

"Nah! I'm sure I have something that won't upset your
sensibility." Tom smiled at him.


When Chakotay got back to his quarters later that
evening, he congratulated himself on getting through
the night in Tom's cabin without trying to kiss him.
He really had a good time. They laughed at, and joked
about, the movie Tom had chosen. When it was over,
they sat and talked a bit, Tom opening up more,
telling him about what was going on in his head when
he was with B'Elanna. He admitted that they had only
slept together twice in the four months they dated.
Not that the sex wasn't good, but B'Elanna felt like
she was cheating on Tuvok, and Tom, well he wasn't
comfortable with the amount of "force" B'Elanna seemed
to want.

All in all, Chakotay thought it really was a good
evening. They ended it with Chakotay once again
offering his company if Tom needed someone to talk to,
and Tom accepting that offer. They made tentative
plans for another "guys night", with Tom promising
that they would go and shoot some pool