By Morticia
(Yes another mini epic)
C/P C/Other
Rating. SLASH, m/m the rest is still undecided
Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al are Paramount's (lucky devils)
Summary (Close your eyes if you don't want to know what's
going to happen!)
In this story Tom and B'Elanna never got together (Hooray!)
Chakotay and Paris's aggression was due to (you guessed it) Unresolved
Sexual Tension! Chakotay had left a male lover back in the Maquis and
can't get over the loss. Tom is completely besotted with Chakotay and is
sure that the Commander is attracted to him too but can't get
anywhere with him.
Tom Angst. Chakotay Angst. In fact just lots of angst but quite a lot
of humour and no nastiness. Am I really writing this or have aliens
possessed my body?

TOM's pov
It is past midnight. The lights in Sandrine's are flickering a dull
yellow in the haze of holographic cigarette smoke. At the bar and
around the dirty tables, the seedy holographic characters are slumped
like weary ghosts in the echoes of the earlier laughter. Having been
brought to life by the partying crewmembers earlier, having briefly
absorbed the energy of a few dozen glad escapees from Alpha shift so
that for a few hours their characters had been animated and real,
they have now sank in dejection, discarded into the shadows.
At the pool table, perennial virgin Harry Kim is still playing with
Sue Niccoletti. They are both a little drunk. Harry is desperately
drawing the evening out, obviously hoping that synthale and
exhaustion will do for him what five years of persistence has failed
to achieve.

I smile fondly at him from my dark corner. I love Harry, he's my
best friend, the only person who ever really saw me properly for

who I am, or at least who I am trying to be. Harry is the best!
He knows he hasn't got a chance with Sue. But he won't admit
it. Like a dog with a bone he just won't give up. Won't accept the
inevitable rejection. It's comical in a sad kind of way.
But it's not as comical as my situation. It's not as bad.
Harry doesn't LOVE Sue, he just wants to get his leg over. No,
that's not fair. That makes him sound like a sex-craved deviant. But you
know what I mean, don't you. We're all alone out here. People
have begun to pair up, get married, and have families. No one wants to be
alone and on a ship with 150 people no one can be too choosy. Nobody
is looking for a soul mate or the `love-of-their-life'. Harry doesn't
expect to find another Libby on Voyager.

No, all he wants is what we all want, someone to share a bed with, to
share companionship with, someone who will pretend that we are their
family whilst we can pretend to be theirs. Just someone to cling to
in this lonely, hostile part of space. It's not too much to ask, is it?

Take Janeway and Tuvok, for instance, now there's a match made in
hell. Between her temper and his ironic coldness I'm lucky to survive
helm duty when they've had a fight. Fiery barbs deflected by icicles
of contempt fly across the bridge like the crossfire of phaser rifles.

Only the calm, powerful presence of Chakotay keeps me at the Conn. He
simply exudes tranquility. He's an island of serene composure and
I draw strength from knowing that his gaze is fixed on the back of my

Chakotay. I lied, you know.

When I said no one was looking for his or her soul mate.
I lied, or maybe not, because I'm not looking, I've found him.
Problem is, he hasn't admitted it yet. Maybe he never will. Maybe
I'll be like Harry and Sue forever. A moth battering at a window,

desperate to be impaled by Chakotay's flame.
It's quiet on the bridge today. Almost too quiet.
Kathryn and Tuvok are glaring at each other as usual. Tuvok is
standing stiffly at tactical, his body betraying the tension that
never shows in his impassive face. I find the contrast interesting. I
find Harry Kim interesting too. He is nearly slumped over the Ops
console; his whole body radiates lack of sleep and if I didn't
know better, the affects of a hangover.
Perhaps I should check his replicator logs?
Interesting. Both of them. But not as interesting as watching Tom.
Since I owe it to myself to at least be honest in my private
thoughts, I may as well admit it.
I LOVE watching Tom. I love the way his long elegant fingers play
over the helm like a concert pianist. The effortless way he spins
Voyager in complex maneuvers with such consummate ease that he makes
it look easy. It's like watching an ice skater that is so excellent
that they make you believe that you could don skates yourself and do
the same. It's only when you land abruptly on your butt that you
realise how deceptive their skill was.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty good pilot myself. But Tom's flying
is genius. You can't learn that in a book. You can't learn it, at all.
Genius is born not made. I envy Tom his ability. But I don't envy his
Genius is a burden that breaks the back of those who carry it.
Abilities like Tom's make people expect so much from him that he
is terrified of failure. And it makes him arrogant. Tom has a justified
arrogance in his own abilities that has let him ignore orders of
lesser minded mortals time and time again as he saves our butts, but
it was the same arrogance that killed his passengers at Caldik Prime.
He is an enigma, Tom. Conceited yet often self-depreciating. Capable
of both incredible courage and extreme cowardice. The life of every
party and yet a loner with few friends.
I admit I hated him when I first met him. When that handsome face
smirked arrogantly at me in a seedy bar. He was down on his luck.
Recently cashiered from Starfleet. Selling his talents, and maybe
even himself, to the highest bidder. But so godamned cocky. So
insolent. So sure of himself. It has taken me years to understand
him. To finally see the generous heart. To learn to appreciate the
humour. To learn to love him.
I do, you know. Love him, I mean.
I love everything about him. He has charmed and beguiled me against
my better judgement. He has battered at the door of my heart with
every weapon at his disposal. Every argument we have had, every
confrontation, every painful step of our relationship has led here.
To this point. To where I find myself longing for the sound of his
voice every morning. How my day doesn't truly start until I see
his sunny smile. How I sit all shift gazing at the back of his head and
imagining how his soft hair would feel under my fingers.
It's a form of torture. I think, in all honesty, that's why I do it.
Why I let myself imagine holding him in the bitter loneliness of my
nights. Why I image waking next to that face in the mornings. Why I
picture how he would look asleep with his hair tousled and his frown
lines smooth. How young and beautiful he would be. Because the
thinking, the wanting, HURTS. And the pain reminds me of my betrayal.
I am a man of honour. I cannot live with myself being any other way.
I made a promise, you see. A promise to love someone forever. Until
death parted us.
But forever is a long time in the DQ, when my love is lost to me and
the nights are cold and my heart so lonely.
Hearts don't break they just bruise. I heard that once and it's
right. If my heart was broken I would be dead and I would be free.
Forever is too long.


TOM's pov

I'm in the Resort with Harry. We're sipping cocktails as we
sprawl on sunbeds and watch the girls in their Laos and grass skirts.
At least Harry is. His eyes are as wide as a child at Christmas.
It's as though he's never seen a girl before! Christ, I love him! I
wonder why none of the women can see him with my eyes. I mean

he's cute and well made and sweet and good. If I were a girl I'd

count myself lucky to have him!
Ah ha! Thought you'd catch that! `If I was a girl'. Why, you ask
yourself, do I have to imagine it that way?

Well it's simple really. I mean it's not just that Harry is so straight

he would probably scream if a guy propositioned him. (In fact,

scratch that statement, I seem to remember Ayala having a quiet
word with him in Sandrine's one night and he DID scream. Quite
funny really!) But that's not why I'm not interested, I mean
unrequited love seems to be my forte. No, the problem with Harry

is he's not a man's, man, so to speak.
He's a bottom, to be crude, and so am I. Making love with him
would be the equivalent of a couple of fish flopping around together out of
water, unsure of what to do next.
I snigger at the image and see Harry smile at me. He gets this thrill
just out of seeing me happy. Christ, I DO love him!
"Wow!" he says as a well-stacked brunette saunters past wearing three
small shells and little else.

"Like her?"
I had spent my lunchtime tweaking the program to produce that babe
for him. Of course, considering the fuschia gelatinous mess that had
pretended to be lunch it hadn't been much of a sacrifice. But
I'm not about to tell Harry that!
"Thanks, Tom. She's gorgeous. You're great!"
"You're welcome."
"Seen anything you fancy?" Harry asks "Oh, yes!" I breathe softly as my

eyes catch on a breathtakingly beautiful body.
"Where?" He asks with interest, sitting up to follow my gaze. He
looks around the resort, which is teeming with life since both Alpha
and Beta shift are off at the moment. Because of the throng of
bodies, both human and electrical, he can't decide where my
interest lies.
"You'll never guess, Harry!" I reply enigmatically and taking a
long drink I lie back down on the bed and close my eyes in shock.
When I had looked over the resort, the sight of his strong, stocky
frame in black trunks and NOTHING else had mesmerized me. I had
paused at the shorts in contemplation and when I looked up again he
caught my eyes. An amused smile was playing on those luscious lips. I
blushed hotly with the realisation that he had noticed EXACTLY where
my interest lay. And then he winked! Honest.
Chakotay actually winked at me!


I can't believe I did it. Of all the stupid, juvenile, thoughtless, tactless

things to do I actually WINKED at him.
Talk about giving the green light! As if he needed any more
I'm not dense. Of course I know how Tom feels about me, how
he's felt for years. I mean he's always been subtle (which is a surprise
since subtlety isn't an adjective with which anyone would normally
describe Tom Paris!) but it's been there nonetheless. It's the little
things that give him away: the way he watches me when he thinks I'm not
looking, how he accidentally brushes against me in the turbolift.
Sometimes I catch the heat smoldering in his blue eyes and it takes
my breath away.
But I've NEVER encouraged him!
I've never let him see the way my traitorous body reacts to his
presence. How the very smell of him makes saliva rush to my mouth.
Never once by word or deed have I let him know how much he affects me.
He's vulnerable, you see. Oh I know he doesn't appear that
way, but believe me, he is.
All throughout his life he has had happiness dangled in front of him
and then snatched away. Sometimes it's been his own fault. He has
torpedoed himself into self-destruction. He is tortured by his own
failures, his own mistakes.
How can I let myself become his next error of judgement?
Don't get me wrong, I would die before I willingly hurt him. I
feel physically sick at even the thought of being the cause of another
furrow on his brow, another shadow in those beautiful eyes.
A few years ago, if I had felt ready, I could have accepted his
offer. He was bouncing from bed to bed then. Looking to lose himself
in short flings of pure hedonistic pleasure. He didn't want a
relationship, wasn't ready for it. If I had accepted then, I wouldn't
have to imagine the pleasure of his body I would have real memories,
real experience.
I was so sure back then that we would get home, that Angel would be
waiting for me. I couldn't bear to shatter my lover with the
knowledge I had found comfort in another's arms.
But it's been FIVE years. Five long, cold weary years of monastic
existence and even if we got home tomorrow, surely he would
understand my weakness in giving in. And what if we never get home?
I am so lonely. I need the comfort of arms wrapped around me.
It's so hard to live up to my image all the time. I know how they see me, the
stoic warrior, the calm voice of reason, the unshakable big man. But
there's a person under that image they see. I'm as vulnerable as they
are to fear and loneliness and self-doubt.
In the still of the night I lie in bed alone and I want to cry
sometimes. I want to mourn my lost friends, my family, the life I
have lost!
Bet you can't imagine that, can you?
Chakotay, crying?

TOM's pov

I can't believe it!
I'm floating so high they are going to have to peel me off the
ceiling unless I calm down.
Chakotay winked at me. He finally realised how I feel and he
didn't go mad, or get offended or pretend not to notice like I expected.
I mean, I don't even know how he feels about homosexuality.
So okay, it's no big deal, everybody accepts it. No one batted an
eyelid when B'Elanna and Seven decided the best way to solve
their hostility was to get married. Well, they did, of course but that was
only because it was unexpected, not because anyone had a problem with
it. Chakotay gave B'Elanna away himself which I guess he wouldn't
have done if he didn't approve.
But that didn't mean he would consider it himself! The man's a monk.
He hasn't slept with anyone since he arrived on Voyager. How am I
supposed to know what his sexual preferences are? He could have had a
thing for Targs for all I knew.
But I've been around the block a bit. I KNOW what that wink meant. So
why hasn't he done anything about it? It can't be that fraternization
with subordinates crap because now Janeway and Tuvok are together it
would be a bit like shutting the shuttlebay doors after the shuttle
had launched.
Okay, so the Captain hadn't really had a choice. She and Tuvok
were alone on an away mission when the Vulcan went into Ponn Farr and
since they are mind-melded now, they can hardly split up despite
their frequent marital spats. But that's not the point and anyway the whole

ship is pairing off so no one would even notice.
He must be waiting for me to make the first move. Giving me the
chance to change my mind. That's what he's like. Caring, generous,
gentle.gorgeous. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next but I won't
disappoint him. Now he's given me this chance I'm not going to blow it!
Hold on to your hat, Chakotay, here I come.


I knew it was a mistake. What the hell am I going to do now?
I made another error of judgement. I seem to be making a lot of them
at the moment. I don't know what's wrong with me all of a
sudden. I guess I had better explain: I went to Sandrines after shift and Tom
was there. Yes, I know. Don't laugh. Did I really think he wouldn't be?
So, anyway, he came up to me, all smiles and bright eyes and asked me
to play pool. I refused; just got up to leave, but the confused hurt and rejection
that immediately flooded his eyes froze me to the spot.
He's a consummate actor. It only took a moment for him to recover
and toss his head negligently, as though I hadn't really just knifed
him in the gut.
"Okay, Commander" he said flippantly "Whatever!"
And I could have just walked away.
I don't know why I didn't. Why I changed my mind. Why I
decided that it was better to break his heart completely instead of simply leaving
it at the ego-blow I had just delivered.
I stayed.
I played pool with him, and flirted and laughed and drank and it was
the most fun I'd had in years.

Am I so selfish?
Can I really lead him on like this just because the thought of being
alone, even another day, makes me want to howl? Can I let him commit
himself to a relationship with me that will end the second we arrive
home? Maybe we'll never get home. Perhaps we won't even survive
the next battle.
Perhaps I'll never have to tell him it's over.