TITLE: Confessions
AUTHOR: ReAnne Moreau
E-MAIL: reann@aol.com
SUMMARY: Tom and Kathryn get stuck in the dreaded stalled turbolift and end
up confessing their true feelings for each other. Afterward, Tom courts his
captain (successfully of course). Warning: this story contains poetry and a
happy ending!

Star Trek Voyager and the characters are the property of Paramount
and no copyright infringement is intended. Since Paramount doesn't
have the sense to do what I tell them ;-) what their characters do
is strictly my idea. Feel free to archive this.

This takes place early in the 3rd season, which is when I got the
idea. I haven't tried to take into account what happened later in
the season.

By ReAnne Moreau

She awoke slowly, in semi-darkness illuminated by a few low
lights. A strong arm held her against the man's body, head on his
shoulder, legs draped over his. His warm hand was softly stroking
her face. She smiled and covered his hand with hers, realizing
who was holding her.


"Captain, are you alright?"

Janeway sat bolt upright and cursed. There was an antimatter
explosion going on in her brain.

"Take it easy Captain, you've probably got a concussion." He
helped her lean back on his shoulder.

The captain slapped at her com badge. "Janeway to bridge."

"Communications are out. Turbo lifts are out. *You've* been out for
the last five minutes. I think we're stuck here for awhile."

She looked around. There were a couple of red emergency lights
working, and the air was breathable, although tinged with the smell
of burnt insulation. They were sitting against the wall of the
lift, facing the warped and buckled door. Thankfully, the ship had
stopped rocking from the phaser bolts that had been bombarding it.

"They've stopped firing." She found that if she moved slowly, she
could sit up without her head trying to fall off.

"The shot that knocked out the power was the last one. We must
have disabled them the same time they hit us. At least we're still
in one piece and I haven't heard any more alarms going off. Any
idea who was shooting at us?"

She remembered just in time that shaking her head would be a bad
idea. "No. Chakotay called me to the bridge, said we were being
fired on by an unknown vessel." The lift had dropped out from
under as she stepped onto it. She looked up at the ceiling. "Have
you tried the escape hatch?"

"Yeah, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you want to get fried.
We're sitting near the bottom of the shaft with a whole lot of
live wires piled on top. The emergency brake kicked in just in

She leaned back against the bulkhead next to him. "I guess we're
stuck here until somebody comes to rescue us. Damn, I wish I knew
what was going on out there."

"Whatever it is, Chakotay can handle it."

Janeway looked at him properly for the first time since waking.
She saw with a pang of guilt that he was slightly hunched over,
holding his midsection with one arm. His face was barely more than
a lighter shadow in the darkness.

"You're hurt."

"Feels like a couple bruised ribs, no major damage." She could
almost feel the grin on his face. "You landed on me."

"My apologies, Lieutenant. Next time I'll try to be more careful."

They sat in silence for a moment, listening for any signs of a
rescue effort.

"How did you know it was me? When you woke up, I mean."

*I would know your hands anywhere.* She remembered the way he had
gently caressed her cheek, brushing the loose hair away from her

*Stop it, Kathryn.*

"I must have seen you when I got on the lift, as the last phaser
bolt hit."

Silence again. She finally broke it.

"It looks like we're both going to end up in sickbay. I hope you
didn't have any big plans for the evening."

"Not really. Thought I'd leave the Delaney sisters to Harry

"They'll be disappointed."

"I doubt it. They've been telling me that I'm no fun anymore. All
I want to do is hang out and play pool. Their idea of a good time
is a little more ... strenuous."

"Don't tell me you've given up dating. What would the rest of us
have to talk about if we couldn't gossip about your love life?"

"Your love life for one thing."

"That's a short conversation." She was glad he couldn't see her
blush. Janeway was perfectly aware that the crew was still
speculating on what had happened between her and Chakotay on New

"Then I'm afraid the crew is going to be bored." He paused, as if
not sure how much more to say, and continued quietly, "You know,
half the stories going around about me are just rumors - most of
which I made up. But lately the game seems to be getting a little

The loneliness in his voice struck a chord in her own heart, one
that she usually tried very hard to ignore. Janeway deliberately
resumed her bantering tone.

"I refuse to believe *all* of your exploits are fictional. Even
your imagination isn't that fertile." She knew he was blushing
from the way he turned his head and looked at the wall. He always
looked away when something made him blush.

*When did I become so familiar with his gestures?*

Paris turned back to her and held up both hands in a placating
motion. "All right, I admit I haven't exactly been a monk since
I've been on board. Especially at the beginning." His voice took
on the cynical, smart-ass tone that always made her want to slap
him. "I had a lot of celebrating to do. After all, it isn't every
day that a man gets out of prison and gets handed a starship to

He paused, and his voice became softer, sincere. "Captain, I can't
tell you how greatful I am to you for getting me out of there ...
and for trusting me with your ship."

"I know, Tom, and I've never regretted it, not for a moment." She
heard his sigh, as if a weight had been taken off of his shoulders.
There was a lengthy silence.

Finally, he spoke again. "You don't know how badly I needed to
hear you say that."

The impulse to reach out to him, to tell him other things, was
almost overwhelming. Janeway clasped her hands around one upraised
knee. The headache that had receded to a dull throbbing began to
claw its way to the surface again. There were too damn many
minefields in this conversation.

They listened to nothing for a while.

"You would have been fine, even without Voyager."

Paris laughed, humorlessly. "I probably wouldn't still *be*
without Voyager. Without you." He took one of her hands and
squeezed it. "You do the knight in shining armor thing very well."

"I know prison was hard. I know the kinds of things that go on,
even in 'enlightened' Federation rehab centers. But you would have
survived it. You're stronger than that." She sounded almost

He shook his head and took a deep breath. "That's not it. I can
handle the things that happened in prison. It's my life after
prison that I couldn't live with." He groped for a way to explain
it to her.

"At night I used to watch the stars from my window. When I saw a
shuttle flying by I would try to imagine myself into the mind of
the pilot, watching the Earth falling away, the stars getting
closer. That's what I couldn't stand to lose. I knew that after I
got out no-one would trust me with a ship again, that no-one would
trust *me* again. I would spend the rest of my life without doing
the one thing I was made to do." He paused for a breath to steady
himself. "That's where I was when you found me."

"Tom ..." Janeway didn't trust herself to speak. She reached out
and laid her palm against his cheek. Paris took her hand in his
own, hesitated, and brushed the back gently with his lips, then
returned it to rest on her other hand. A shiver ran down her arm
and along her spine.

She collected herself with difficulty and turned toward him.
"You've more than repaid any debt you owed to me. If you hadn't
gone for help when the Kazon took Voyager we would have spent the
rest of our lives on that godforsaken planet. What you did showed
tremendous courage."

"Courage? I was absolutely terrified."

"But you still did what had to be done. The entire crew knows how
hard you fought to come back for us."

"What else was I supposed to do, stay with the Talaxians? Not a
single one of them knows how to cook."

She kicked him lightly in the shin and laughed. "Why do you always
have to crack a joke when someone tries to compliment you? If I
say you're a hero, then dammit, you're a hero."

"I wouldn't dream of trying to argue with you."

"Seriously, Tom, you and the Doctor and Suder saved a lot of

He was quiet for a moment, remembering. "The worst part was not
knowing what the Kazon had done to the crew after I escaped. I
kept picturing the horrible things that might be happening to you
all. You have no idea how relieved I was to find out they'd only
put you off the ship."

She spoke so softly that he could barely hear. "That was one of
the worst moments of my entire life. At least when the array was
destroyed we still had a ship. We still had a mission and the hope
of getting home some day. When the Kazon left us on that rock all
I wanted to do was curl up somewhere and die." She shuddered as
the memories came flooding back. She had never admitted to anyone
how close she had come to falling apart that day.

Then Paris was moving closer, putting his arm around her shoulders.
"I know. But you still kept everyone together, made sure the crew
didn't lose hope. Harry said you refused to believe that I was
dead, that I wouldn't be coming back with help."

"I had to believe that. We all had to believe we'd get off that

"And I had to come back. After all, you saved my life."

"And you gave mine back to me."

She couldn't help moving closer to the warmth of his body, made no
objection when his arm moved lower to encircle her waist. "I spent
a lot of time on that planet watching the stars." *I know what it
must have been like for him to think he had lost them forever.*
"And then there you were, filthy and exhausted and looking like
you'd been through hell." She was close enough now that he could
see her grin. "You do the knight in shining armor thing pretty
well yourself."

He laughed. "I promise I'll always come riding to the rescue
whenever you need me, as long as you return the favor."

"I promise." She whispered the words against his lips as they
closed over hers.

He kissed her gently, sweetly, his lips barely brushing hers, then
traced their outline with his tongue, feeling them part as she let
out the breath she had been holding. Finally he returned to devour
mouth hungrily, exploring her as her tongue flickered along his.
Kathryn's hand came up to cup the back of his neck as she pressed
her body to his. She could feel his heart pounding wildly. Tom
one hand into her hair, giving up her mouth to trail kisses along
her jawline and down her neck.

"Kathryn ..." A whispered plea, a confession of the months of
longing, the aching need to touch her, to say all the things he had
been holding back.

She moved her hands down his back, feeling the long lean muscles
beneath his uniform.

There was a resounding clang and thump from the roof of the
turbolift. Tom and Kathryn sprang apart as the voices of their
rescuers reached them.

"Everybody all right down there?"

"We're fine," Paris responded, when he was able to control his
breathing again. "You guys have really great timing."

They retreated to opposite sides of the lift and waited in silence.

The ship that attacked them was Vidian. It had appeared from
nowhere and done serious damage just as Tuvok's skillful aim, and a
little luck, had found a weak point in their shields.

Unfortunately, the Vidian ship had sent out a distress call before
it was destroyed. Voyager spent the next couple of days playing
cat and mouse with the reinforcements while trying to repair the
damaged systems. The Captain and Paris had been on the bridge
almost constantly.

Janeway had to admit that part of her enjoyed the adrenaline rush
of battle. This crew was the best she'd ever commanded, including
Tom Paris. He flew as if the ship were an extension of his own
body. His long fingers danced confidently over the controls as he
put Voyager through seemingly impossible maneuvers. She loved
watching his hands coaxing the ship into ever more inventive moves,
orders and responses crackling between them. Voyager finally
eluded their last pursuer in an astroid belt, but it had been a
close call. The ship had sustained serious damage, and would have
to stop at a nearby planet for repairs and shore leave for the
overworked crew.

It was well into the ship's night before Kathryn finally returned
to her quarters after finishing a depressingly large pile of damage
reports and collapsed on the couch, not even bothering to turn on
the lights. She knew that she would have to talk to Paris soon,
but had no idea of what to say to him. She got up to read the
message waiting on her computer.

If there be any one can take my place
And make you happy whom I grieve to grieve,
Think not that I can grudge it, but believe
I do commend you to that nobler grace,
That readier wit than mine, that sweeter face;
Yea, since your riches make me rich, conceive
I too am crowned, while bridal crowns I weave,
And thread the bridal dance with jocund pace.
For if I did not love you, it might be
That I should grudge you some one dear delight;
But since the heart is yours that was mine own,
Your honorable freedom makes me free,
And you companioned I am not alone.

Kathryn - Is there any hope? I need to see you. - Tom'

She sat there in the darkness, reading the message over and over
again, remembering the touch of his lips, the warmth of his breath
on her skin. Finally she stood, straightened her uniform and walked
calmly to Lt. Paris' quarters.

Paris stood at the window of his living room staring blindly at the
passing starfield. The Captain hadn't said a word during or after
their rescue except to dismiss him and suggest that he go to
sickbay to have his sore ribs checked. (He hadn't been able to
resist asking if she was going to have her head examined.) There
hadn't been time to say anything the last couple of days while the
ship was in crisis and as soon as his shift was over today, Tom had
gone back to his quarters to pace a hole in the carpet. He sent the
computer message and waited, remembering the way her lips had
burned under his, her body melting into every touch of his hands.
Tom stopped and scraped his palms over his face and through his
hair, as if he could rub away the memory. The door chime rang for
a second time before he heard it.

"Christina Rossetti is one of my favorite poets." Kathryn leaned
on the doorjamb, smiling slightly and searching his face with
bright eyes.

"I couldn't find the right words, and I sure as hell wouldn't have
the guts to say them to you." Tom was turning an adorable shade of
red and looking at anything except his captain.

Despite the nervous flutter in her stomach, Kathryn couldn't resist
grinning wickedly and remarking as she walked past him, "You know,
I could feel you blush in the dark."

Watching his face out of the corner of her eye, she took a seat on
the couch and curled up against the arm. "We have a lot of things
to talk about."

Tom managed to gather his wits enough to remember what he wanted to
say. "If you don't mind, I'd like to go first; there are some
things I've been wanting to say for a long time and I need to get
them off my chest." He perched on the arm of a chair a safe
distance away.

Kathryn nodded her consent.

He took a deep breath, looked away for a moment and began, "I've
been running away from things most of my life. I ran into space to
get away from home, ran from the truth after Caldik Prime, then
straight to the Maquis to escape from the whole mess. I refuse to
run away from this, even if I'm about to make a complete fool of

The intensity of emotion in his blue eyes nearly took her breath
away. His usual shields were completely gone; everything he felt
was there for her to see. Tom tried and failed to give her one of
his trademark cocky grins. "I guess the only thing I can do is
tell you how I feel."

"I don't know exactly when I figured out what this feeling was. I
just know it's been with me a long time. At some point I realized
that I was making excuses to spend time with you, that all of my
happiest memories involved you. Maybe I started out being grateful
for everything you've done for me, but it's become more than that.
I'm falling in love with you, Kathryn." He dropped his gaze for a
moment, his courage and voice faltering. "I thought you were
beginning to care for me, too."

Kathryn had risen from the couch and moved toward Tom before she
was even aware of it. That little quaver in his voice had done her
in. She knew how hard it was for him to trust someone enough to
show such vulnerability. He trusted her enough to lay his heart at
her feet.

*I really have to do something about this repeated impulse to throw
myself in his arms.* Instead she took his face in her hands and
looked him straight in the eyes. "I do care for you, Tom. I have
for a long time. You have to understand that I couldn't be the one
to make the first move. Not only is approaching a subordinate
officer romantically against Starfleet regulations, if I had been
wrong about *your* feelings, it could have ruined our friendship
and working relationship." She took a deep breath and waded into
the deep end. "And to answer Ms. Rossetti's question, there is no-one =
else. Only you."

Tom looked as if he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. A
smile slowly spread over his face until he was grinning like a
Cheshire cat. Kathryn suspected there was a similar expression on
her own face. "Now wait a minute, Tom, we still have some things
to discuss. And I want to take this slowly, just in case..."

"Just in case we turn out to be a couple of blithering idiots, and
this was a really stupid idea?" He put his arms around her waist
and pulled her closer.

"Something like that." Her arms went around his neck. *God, he's
beautiful. I could get lost in those blue eyes.* She pulled Tom's
head down and kissed him until they were both out of breath.

He beamed down at her. "Join me for dinner tomorrow in Holodeck 3?
I just won some replicator rations off of Harry."

"I'd love to. We should finish this discussion, but we're both too
exhausted tonight." Images of drifting off to sleep curled in his
arms meandered through her mind. "I'll change and meet you after
my shift is over."

They held each other for a moment longer before reluctantly saying
good night. Kathryn headed for the door.

"By the way, Lieutenant, necking in elevators is definitely a
violation of Starfleet regulations."

He grinned. "Yes Ma'am! I promise not to do it again." Then, as
the door closed behind her, "Besides, that's what Jeffries tubes
are for." She passed more than one crewman in the corridor who
wondered what had put that enormous grin on their captain's face.


This he had in him that set him apart,
that in spite of all his dissoluteness
and his great experience in love,
despite the habitual harmony
that existed between his attitude and his age
there happened to be moments - however,
rarest moments, to be sure - when he gave the
impression of a flesh almost untouched.

The beauty of his twenty-nine years,
so tested by sensual delight,
at moments paradoxically recalled
a young man who - rather gawkily - surrenders
his pure body to love for the very first time.'

Days of 1901 by C.P. Cavafy
Kathryn made her way to holodeck 3 with some misgivings. Could
this really work? Exactly what did she feel for Paris? She shook
her head and decided to worry about one thing at a time. The first
step was getting through tonight. She had chosen to wear a simple
loose tunic and pants in indigo blue that turned her complexion
into fine porcelain. Auburn hair was tied in a shimmering
waterfall between her shoulder blades. She had been striving for
comfort, but admitted that the end result looked pretty good. Not
that there was much point in trying to impress someone who had seen
her after she'd been stranded by the Kazon for a week without a

She arrived at the holodeck and found that it had been keyed to
open only to her command code. Entering, the Captain found herself
on a flagstone path leading through a grove of trees. The setting
had the unmistakable feel of Earth in Autumn. Birch and maple
trees mingled with oak, their trunks dark against the bright leaves
in every shade from pale yellow through blazing orange. It had
rained recently and the smell of moist earth mixed with the wood
smoke drifting from the chimney of the cabin at the end of the
path. It was early evening, the honey colored light slanting
through the rain clouds that had begun to gather. It would storm
again before the night was over. The air was chilly but not
uncomfortable. Kathryn strolled up the path, kicking at the
leaves under foot and marveling at the detail that had gone into
the program. It even *smelled* real.

The log cabin ahead was unremarkable. It was fairly large and
rambling, looking as if it had been added to over the years. The
style could have come from any time period from the pioneer days to
the present. Firelight glowed from the windows of the front room.
Tom opened the door and stood smiling on the threshold. He held
out his hand as she ascended the steps and led her inside. He
almost indecently handsome in an old green sweater and loose black

"Kathryn." He stood there for a moment holding her hand. The look
in Tom's eyes warmed her heart; the way he said her name made it

"I hope you like it. I programmed the outdoors for Fall so I'd
have an excuse to light a fire." He seemed a little nervous, but
completely at home here, leading her to a seat by the fireplace and
pouring her a glass of wine. Whatever was cooking in the kitchen
smelled delicious.

"It's lovely. Fall is my favorite time of year." She stood and
moved around the living room as Tom busied himself setting the
table in front of one of the cabin's large windows. The room was
shabby and cluttered, as if someone had lived here for years,
collecting memories and never getting around to throwing anything
away. There was a threadbare burgundy couch facing the fire,
covered in throw pillows, the kind of comfortable squishy thing
that lured you into its depths for long afternoon naps. A pair of
mismatched armchairs faced each other on either side of the stone
fireplace. There were various tables, bookshelves and cabinets
lining the walls covered with pictures, old-fashioned paper books
and all sorts of things that might at one time have been useful.

Something about the place reminded her so strongly of Tom that she
knew it had to be based on somewhere he'd actually lived.
Kathryn's suspicions were confirmed when she saw the photographs on
the mantel. There was a beautiful blonde woman standing with a
young Eugene Paris and holding a baby in her arms. They looked
like a happy family, but that was the only picture of the three of
them together. She spotted another photo of Tom as a boy of about
seven or eight, proudly displaying a string of fish he'd caught.
It couldn't be anyone else with that ear-to-ear grin. The older
man standing behind him holding their fishing poles could have been
Tom thirty years from now. His greying blonde hair was receding.
Sapphire blue eyes shone with pride in his grandson, the laugh
lines crinkling around his mouth and eyes. He was still lean and
broad shouldered and very handsome.

"Dinner is served." Tom had finished setting the table and was
returning from the kitchen carrying platters of food. The aroma of
grilled trout started Kathryn's mouth watering. He deposited the
dishes on the table and pulled out Kathryn's chair for her. "The
gods were with me tonight. The last time I tried to cook a meal
the kitchen caught fire."

"Don't feel too bad. I'm hopeless when it comes to cooking. The
last time I made dinner Chakotay banned me from the kitchen
permanently." She saw the carefully concealed hurt in his eyes at
the mention of her time with the commander on New Earth. *Oh,
perfect. It's going to be a little hard to eat with both feet in
your mouth.* She sighed. "I think we just found one of the things
we need to discuss."

Tom popped a piece of bread in his mouth as a delaying tactic.
Every time he thought of the two of them together it felt like a
fist was squeezing his heart. By the time he had finished
swallowing he was
able to say with something like conviction, "I'm sorry, I certainly
have no right to be jealous about your previous relationships. Not
with my reputation. It doesn't matter what happened between you on
New Earth. Obviously, for some reason you've decided not to
continue it on the ship."

*Damn, he doesn't just think we were lovers - he thinks that I
still want Chakotay.* It hurt to think that Tom still wanted her
under those terms. Kathryn shoved her plate aside and reached
across the
table to take his hand. "Listen to me Tom Paris, Chakotay and I
were never lovers. I admit that if we'd spent the rest of our
lives on that planet we probably would have been - but I wasn't in
love with
him. And don't you ever, *ever* think you're my second choice."

Tom closed his eyes for a moment and smiled ruefully. "I'm sorry.
Sometimes my insecurities get the best of me."

"Considering the rumors that have been going around about Chakotay
and me, I'm not surprised. People seem determined to make a couple
out of us no matter what *we* want."

"Everyone just wants you to be happy. I guess they figure he's the
best man for the job."

"I rather like the candidate I'm interviewing at the moment."
Their laughter went a long way toward dissipating the tension. "I
*am* worried about how some people might react to you when they
find out about us."

Tom sighed. "Look, no matter who you end up with *somebody* is
going to give him a hard time about being the captain's pet'. It
can't be any worse than growing up being an admiral's kid, and we
both survived that. I just don't want people talking behind your
back about dating an ex-con."

There was a fierce gleam in Kathryn's eyes as she replied, "Anyone
who thinks that makes me an unfit captain can damn well get off the
ship. I know I have the respect of this crew." Her gaze softened
and she smiled at Tom. "And I think you underestimate how much the
crew has come to like and respect you."

"There's only one person whose opinion matters to me." He sat back
in the chair with a grin. "Now, are you going to eat your dinner
before it gets cold or should I order up Neelix' special from the
mess hall?"

They managed to finish their meal and clear the air about a few
more issues without any further disasters, then withdrew to the
living room to sit by the fire. Kathryn stopped at the computer
to choose some music from the menu, noting that it leaned heavily
toward blues and jazz. She selected an old Benny Carter recording
and curled up among the pillows at one end of the couch. Tom
his approval of her choice and sat down on the floor facing her.

"This place is lovely, Tom. Did it belong to your family?"

"It was my grandfather's. I used to spend part of my summer
vacations here when I was a kid." His face lit up as he
remembered. "Gramps taught me how to fish, play poker, shoot pool -
all the 'good stuff'. Dad used to say he was ruining my character.
He died when I was in high school and Dad talked Mom into selling
the place. I made a scan before they cleared it out and I've been
working on the program a little at a time ever since."

"I can tell how much care you put into it."

"I come here sometimes to be alone and think. You're the first
person I've ever brought here."

Kathryn laid her hand over his. "Thank you for sharing it with me."
They sat in companionable silence, enjoying the music and the warm
glow of the fire light. She spoke again as the last strains of
'Honeysuckle Rose' drifted away. "I'm glad I came this evening. I
was a little nervous; after all, it's been a while since I've gone
on a date."

"Still nervous?"

She smiled and entwined her fingers with his. "I always enjoy
spending time with you. And, after all, we aren't exactly
strangers. We probably know more about each other than most couples
would *want* to know."

"So tell me something I don't know. Tell me about Mark. I know he
was a big part of your life for a long time. And don't worry - I
only have jealous fits about the *current* competition."

Her face alight with mischief, Kathryn recounted their childhood
escapades; that she had always considered Mark likeable enough, but
beneath her notice as boyfriend material. Then he had gone off to
college and she had gone to the Academy and fallen in love with
someone else. The light left her face as she recounted how she had
watched, in pain and nearly frozen, as her fiance and father died
a shuttle accident, her frantic attempts to save them having

Tom watched the fire light flickering over her face as she spoke,
shadows hiding her eyes, then suddenly flitting away to show the
pain those memories still brought. Without a word, he moved onto
the couch and wrapped her in his arms, as if he could shield her
from the memories with his body.

It was a few moments before she went on, "It was a while afterward
that I ran into Mark again. This time I was mature enough to
appreciate him. He reminded me that I was still alive and that I
could fall in love again." She went on to tell him about their
life together.

Tom settled back against the cushions and Kathryn snuggled into the
crook of his arm. Sometimes it seemed like forever since someone
had held and comforted her. *How have I managed these last two
years without him to hold me?*

"Do you still miss him?"

"Sometimes. Whatever else we were, Mark and I were always friends.
But we had been drifting apart since I took command of Voyager.
Long distance relationships are hard on both people." They sat
quietly thinking their own thoughts until she picked up the

"It's your turn. Tell me about all the women you've been in love
with. It must be quite a list."

"I don't think you want to know the details of my misspent youth."
His voice took on that bright cynical tone that she hated. "As for
being in love, if I didn't sabotage the relationship before it got
that far, the lady usually got bored and moved on to somebody new.
The thing about being a playboy is that when they get tired of
playing with you they go find another game." Kathryn could feel
distancing himself from her, although he never moved.

"It may surprise you to know that I was engaged myself once. I
think Karen liked the idea of marrying an admiral's son and
creating some kind of Starfleet dynasty. Anyway, I never heard
from her after I confessed what happened at Caldik Prime and got
thrown out of Starfleet."

Kathryn stroked his cheek as if she could brush away the cold hard
mask that had settled over his face. "Don't do that, Tom. Don't
shut me out." Tom seemed to come back from a long distance away.
covered her hand with his and let the warmth sink into his skin.

"Did you love her?"

"I thought so at the time. Now I realize that what I wanted was
someone to love me. That's the only explanation I can think of for
why I was such an idiot." Tom compared his ex to the warm, gentle
woman in his arms, and was amazed that he had ever mistaken his
feelings for Karen for love.

"Even if Karen had really loved me, I was too much of a mess then
to share my life with someone else. I think that's changed now."
He traced the arch of Kathryn's cheekbone with the tip of one
"Meeting you changed everything."

Tom continued to brush her face lightly with his fingertips, then
his palm, caressing her neck and shoulders. Kathryn, reveling in
the touch of his hands on her skin, leaned closer to tease his lips
with soft kisses. Tom found the clip holding her hair in place and
removed it, running his fingers through the silky waves. He pulled
her closer into a long languid kiss. They separated, both looking
a little embarrassed, before the intensity overwhelmed them.

Laughing a bit shakily, Tom moved back to where he had been sitting
on the floor. "It's a good thing I've got shore leave tomorrow. I
don't think I could resist kissing you the minute you walked onto

Kathryn tossed a pillow in his general direction. "Not unless you
want to get court-martialed again. If you'd like some company, I
should be able to get away the day after tomorrow."

"Great. I'll do the tourist bit with Harry tomorrow, then you and
I have the rest of the week to ourselves."

The computer broke in to remind them that their scheduled time on
the holodeck was almost up. Most of the crew members they passed
on the way back to their respective quarters didn't pay much
attention to the couple. They were used to seeing the Captain and
Lt. Paris walking home after a late night at Sandrine's. A few of
the more perceptive noticed that they walked closer together than
usual, almost touching, and that the Captain's hair was rather
disheveled, as if someone had been winding his fingers in it. The
rumor mill kicked into gear.


Kathryn woke the next morning with the memory of Tom's arms around
her. She lingered on the edge of sleep, unwilling to give up the
comfort of her warm snug bed, imagining what his hands would have
felt like on her naked body, how good it would have been to make
love to him in front of the fire. The alarm put a rather rude end
to her fantasies, but it couldn't ruin her good mood. She was
dressed and on the way out the door before she noticed the message
blinking on her computer.

'When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

Kathryn - I can't wait to be with you again. I'll come over
tonight and we can make plans for tomorrow.'

She looked forward to showing Tom her *appreciation* for his taste
in poetry and decided it was about time to do a little courting of
her own. That thought reminded her that Tom's birthday was in a
days. Her gift would have to be something really special. She
resolved to speak to Neelix at breakfast about putting together a
surprise party. Maybe Harry could be drafted to help out.
Kathryn left for the mess hall planning the details. It would have
to be in the late evening, since she and Tom planned to spend most
of their days on shore leave on Akritiri.
In the stunned silence that followed the announcement that Tom and
Harry had been sentenced to life in prison, Kathryn remembered the
last verse that Tom had left out of the poem he sent her that

'And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.'

Kathryn passed the next few days in a cold fury, allowing herself
to feel nothing but her anger at the idiotic Akritirian legal
system that had sentenced Harry and Tom to die in prison on the
basis of a cursory investigation. The days were spent in tireless
pursuit of the true identity of the bombers, then the location of
the Akritirian prison.

Nights were harder; she couldn't help imagining what was happening
to the men, if they were even still alive. Poor Harry wasn't
prepared to deal with prison. But Tom knew how to survive; he
would keep them both alive until she came for them. That thought
was all that kept her going.

When the prison was finally located Kathryn insisted on being part
of the rescue team. Tuvok wasn't happy with that decision, and he
certainly would have something to say about the way she slid down
the chute ahead of the security people, phaser rifle ready to blast
anyone who got in the way. She was surprised to find Harry
fighting off a group of fellow prisoners, a wild look in his eyes.
The sight of Tom lying on the floor, pale and bleeding, nearly made
her heart stop. He remained unconscious as they carried him to the
secret compartment in Neelix' ship, only waking for a moment to
whisper her name as she cradled him in her arms.

"I promised I would always come for you when you needed rescuing.
I was almost too late this time."

Harry knelt beside them and put a hand on Kathryn's shoulder; he
seemed shaky, but much calmer than he had been. The security team
had gone up to join Neelix now that the Akritirians were no longer
following them. "Tom told me about the two of you." He flashed
her an embarrassed grin. "At first I thought he was delirious, but
whenever the pain got too bad he would start talking about you.
About your smile, or the way your hair smelled or the first time
you kissed. He made me promise that if anything happened I would
tell you that he loved you. I guess now *he* can tell you."

"I've got a few things to say on that subject myself." She smiled
for the first time in days as Voyager's transporter took hold of
them and beamed all three to sickbay.

It was the middle of the ship's night when Tom went into surgery
and he slept most of the next day. He and Kathryn hadn't had more
than a few moments alone, and the Captain suspected Kes had
something to do with arranging that; sometimes telepaths could be
handy to have around. Meanwhile she had put her time to good use
throwing together the birthday party that had been put on hold by
the crisis. Harry was glad to help by luring Tom to the holodeck
with promises of a feast at Sandrine's to make up for all the time
they had spent in prison thinking about food.

Tom and Harry walked into the holodeck to find Sandrine's program
running and a room full of people waiting. The pool tables had
been removed to make room for a dance floor and Neelix had laid out
a buffet of delicacies and a huge birthday cake in an interesting
shade of blue. The two were surrounded by people welcoming them
back and wishing Tom a happy birthday. Sandrine herself brought
them glasses of champaign. Tom scanned the room through the crowd
of people and finally spotted Kathryn chatting with the Delaney
sisters. She was wearing a forest green silk dress that covered
her from neck to ankles and gave delicious hints of the curves in
between. Her hair was swept
up in a loose chignon that let a few strands escape to frame her
face. She felt his eyes on her and turned to raise her glass and

"I don't have to guess what you want for your birthday." Harry
shoved a plate of food at Tom and pointed him toward a table.

"So do you approve?" Tom tried to sound nonchalant, but Harry knew
how much his answer meant.

"I always approve of people falling in love. If you can make each
other happy, I'm all for it. But I have to hand it to you, Tom,
you never do anything the easy way."

"Harry, loving Kathryn is the easiest thing I've ever done. Making
it work is going to be the hard part."

"I think it'll take awhile to get used to hearing you call her
Kathryn." Harry grinned. "At least now I don't have to worry
you'll beat my time with B'Elanna."

Tom snorted. His idea of romance didn't include getting bitten.

"And Chakotay can finally stop mooning over the Captain and find
someone who really appreciates him," Harry finished.

"Oh come on, Harry. There's nothing going on between Kathryn and

"Maybe not as far as she's concerned. I think Chakotay may have
had other ideas." He noticed that Tom was beginning to look
alarmed. "Don't worry, I'm sure he won't have any trouble finding
somebody to console him."

"Like who?"

Harry stood up grabbing their empty glasses and headed for the bar.
"Like me." Tom was still sitting there gaping when Neelix dragged
him off to open presents.

Tom was accumulating quite an impressive pile of gifts in front of
him. He was touched by how many people hand turned out for the
party. The only senior officers not there were Tuvok and Chakotay,
who were on bridge duty. Harry, who had disappeared after dropping
his bombshell, had recorded a tape of Tom's favorite songs, playing
the clarinet parts himself. The Delaney sisters gave him something
tasteful in leather from their vast collection. He deliberately
saved Kathryn's gift for last. By that time the crowd was drifting
away toward the dance floor. Tom opened a small black velvet box
to find a pair of golden aviator's wings. Kathryn appeared next to
him and took the box from his hand.

"Amelia Erhardt gave them to me. I thought they should belong to
the best pilot on the ship." She pinned them to his shirt. Tom
took hold of her hand as she finished.

"Thank you. I may never take them off." He led her onto the dance
floor and held her close, not caring that people were watching. "I
know how much these wings meant to you."

"Do you know how much *you* mean to me?"

"If you keep looking at me like that I'm going to kiss you no
matter how many people are watching." He noticed that a few people
were in fact looking at them and shaking their heads. "They're
lamenting my lack of taste in flirting with the captain."

"So lets give them something to talk about." Kathryn slid her arms
around his neck and settled against his chest with a sigh. "I've
wanted to do that all evening." Tom felt like he was dancing on
air. There was something different in Kathryn's eyes since he'd
been rescued from the prison. She looked like a woman who had made
a decision and was happy with it.

When the song finished they went to the bar and chatted with the
Doctor, who was playing bartender and keeping an eye on his
patient. Kathryn spotted Kes watching them and smiling. B'Elanna
was just coming in when the holographic band started playing
something loud and fast and she dragged Tom onto the floor.
Kathryn took her drink 'outside' to the terrace to get away from
the press of the people for a few minutes.

Tom came out looking for her a few minutes later. He was flushed,
perspiring and radiating happiness. Kathryn caught her breath at
the sight of him. "I can't believe all these people showed up for
my party."

"I knew they would." She pressed her cold, dripping glass to his
flushed face. "To paraphrase the Borg, resistance is futile. You
will be loved."

When Harry came to find Tom a few minutes later he nearly turned
around and went back in, but then other people would only come
looking for the missing guest of honor. He cleared his throat and
shuffled a little as he came around the corner for the second time,
to give them a chance to make themselves presentable.

"Hey, Tom, everybody's looking for you to blow out the candles and
cut the cake. And Doc says no more slam dancing with B'Elanna."

"I'll be right there. Are you coming, Kathryn?"

"No, it's been a long day. I think I'll turn in early." Tom
looked disappointed, but kissed her good night and went back
inside. Harry stayed a little longer, looking at his captain. Her
hair was beautifully disheveled and there was a warm soft look in
her eyes. A Mona Lisa smile lingered on her lips.

"Captain, I don't think I've ever seen Tom so happy. Or you for
that matter. I hope everything works out for you."

"I intend to see that it does, Harry. Do me a favor and make sure
that Tom doesn't stay too late?"

She detected a conspiratorial twinkle in his eyes. "Don't worry,
I'll make sure Doc kicks him out in about an hour." Harry followed
his friend back into the bar.

Where were you last night? I watched at the gate;
I went down early, I stayed down late.
Were you snug at home, I should like to know,
Or were you in the coppice wheedling Kate?

She's a fine girl, with a fine clear skin;
Easy to woo, perhaps not hard to win.
Speak up like a man and tell me the truth:
I'm not one to grow downhearted and thin.

If you love her best speak up like a man;
It's not I will stand in the light of your plan:
Some girls might cry and scold you a bit
And say they couldn't bear it; but I can.
Good luck to Kate and good luck to you,
I guess she'll be kind when you come to woo;
I wish her a pretty face that will last,
I wish her a husband steady and true.

Hate you? Not I, my very good friend;
All things begin and all have an end.
But let broken be broken; I put no faith
In quacks who set up to patch and mend.

Just my love and one word to Kate:
Not to let time slip if she means to mate;
For even such a thing has been known
As to miss the chance while we weigh and wait.

Last Night by Christina Rossetti'

*Text of a birthday card received by Lt. Tom Paris and signed by
The women of Voyager' (in handwriting suspiciously similar to Megan
Tom returned to his quarters about an hour after Kathryn left the
party. He dropped the load of birthday presents on the couch. For
some reason Harry seemed to be worried about the state of his
health and Doc had concurred that it was time for him to turn in.
Actually, Tom wasn't at all sleepy. He nearly turned around and
headed for Kathryn's quarters, but she was probably already asleep.
The need to see her again, to touch her, feel her warmth in his
arms was almost more than he could stand.

Out of the corner of his eye Tom saw that the message light on his
computer was blinking. He stabbed the playback button irritably
and saw that it was from the main computer. It had detected a
virus in his cabin program on holodeck three and requested that he
fix it immediately or the program would be permanently deleted from
memory. Tom stomped down to the holodeck to see what was going on.
He was puzzled to find that the program was running and the
outdoors had been set for night. There was firelight coming from
the windows of the cabin. He began to suspect that this was
someone's idea of a practical joke. Entering the cabin he found it
lit only by a roaring fire in the grate.

"Happy birthday, Tom. I hope you like your present."

He froze in the doorway for a moment, unable to make a sound,
drinking in the sight before him. Kathryn stood by the fireplace,
the light flickering on the simple champaign-colored satin gown
that flowed over the contours of her body. She seemed almost to be
part of the flames. Delicate wisps of hair framed her face,
leaving her neck and shoulders bare.

Noting Tom's hesitation she stepped forward, suddenly afraid that
she was making a complete fool of herself. Her movement broke
Paris' trance. His embrace lifted her off the floor to meet his
kiss and warm soft lips descended ravenously on her mouth. Finally,
out of breath, Tom set her back on her feet. Somehow he'd managed
to shake her hair free of its clasp and stood combing his fingers
through it and caressing her face as they both tried to regain
their equilibrium.

"I haven't been able to stop touching you since the first time we
kissed." Tom's breathing was still a little ragged.

"Don't stop. I love the way you touch me." Kathryn had captured
one of his hands and was kissing the palm. She kept hold of his
hand and led Tom to the couch, giving him a flute of champaign from
the nearby table. "I wanted to make your birthday special."

Tom took the glass from her and put both flutes on the floor.
There was an unusually serious look in his eyes as he took both of
her hands. "Kathryn, are you sure about this? I know you wanted
to take things slowly; I just don't want you to do anything you're
not ready for."

There was no hesitation in her voice as she replied. "I'm sure,
Tom. I want to make love to you tonight." She moved into his
embrace, one hand caressing his cheek. "I came so close to losing
you." She looked into his eyes. "I kept imagining you dying in
that prison, never knowing how much I love you."

The look on Tom's face said that he hadn't been sure she would ever
say those words. Laughing, Kathryn told him over and over again
that she loved him, punctuating each word with a kiss, each more
passionate than the last. Tom's hands were exploring her body more
intimately than they had dared before and she ached to feel his
touch on her bare skin.

Kathryn finally broke free of their embrace to lead Tom over to the
fireplace where she had arranged piles of cushions on a soft rug.
She unbuttoned his shirt slowly and ran her hands through the light
covering of golden curls on his chest, tracing the outline of
perfectly defined muscles. The firelight turned his fair skin the
color of honey. She couldn't help but notice that he had gotten
thinner while in prison. Drifting lower, her fingers encountered
the scar left by the knife wound that had nearly killed him. It
was still an angry red, although the doctor had promised it would
eventually fade away completely.

Kathryn wrapped her arms around him and held him close for a
moment. Tom felt her tears on his shoulder. "It's alright; the
doctor said I'll be fine. It doesn't even hurt anymore." He
kissed the tears away from the corners of her eyes.

"I know." The ferocity of her emotions surprised her. "I just
can't stand the thought of you being hurt."

"You heal me, Kathryn." He spoke softly, taking her face in his
hands. "I've never loved anyone like this. I never even
*imagined* it could be like this." He rained soft kisses on her
eyelids before taking possession of her mouth, his tongue making
sweet promises of pleasures to come.

Never breaking their kiss, she moved to take off her nightgown.
Tom pulled away and stopped her hand. "Oh no you don't. I get to
unwrap this present myself." He lowered them both to the cushions
on the floor, stopping her laughter with a kiss. "Indulge me, it's
my birthday." Kathryn caught her breath, seared by the heat in his
cool blue eyes.

She relaxed under his touch, giving herself up to the pleasure of
warm silky lips on her skin. Tom slowly drew the nightgown down
her body, kissing every inch of skin as it was revealed, fingertips
tracing lazy patterns in the wake of his lips. She was on fire
everywhere he touched her.

Finally pulling the nightgown over her feet, Tom noticed the
untouched glasses of champaign on the floor next to the couch and
grinned wickedly. "Close your eyes, Kathryn." She looked at him
questioningly. "Do you trust me?"

"Absolutely." They locked eyes for a moment, feeling the strength
of the bond between them. Kathryn closed her eyes, a smile of
anticipation on her lips. A moment later she gasped as cool
champaign fizzed over her hot skin, the bubbles tickling in the
most delightful places. Tom followed with his mouth, sucking and
lapping the liquid from her body. Kathryn's last coherent thought
was that champaign was definitely going to be a part of *all* their
birthday celebrations from now on.
Kathryn woke in the warm glow of the firelight to find herself
curled in her lover's arms. She lay for a moment listening to the
sound of his heart beating. Stealing a glance at his face, she saw
that he was still asleep. She moved out of Tom's embrace, careful
not to wake him, and watched his sleeping face. A blush crept over
her face as she remembered the tender ferocity of their lovemaking.
Sometimes she loved him so much she thought her heart would break.

She was glad Tom was off duty for the next couple of days. It
would be hard enough being on the bridge together, trying to
maintain their roles as captain and helm officer, but this was so
new they needed a few days to adjust. Right now she knew that she
would melt every time he looked at her. And Tom really couldn't
keep his hands off her. She shivered, knowing what it would be
like when they finally got off the bridge that first day, after
keeping their distance for so many hours.

The wind howled outside and Kathryn snuggled back into Tom's arms.
He murmured her name in his sleep and turned on his side, gathering
her closer. She drifted off to sleep again in his embrace, the
warmth of his breath on her skin.

The end