Disclaimer: Not only do none of these characters belong to me, neither does
this universe. Or the song I used. "Love will find you" by Jaci Velasquez
Rating: R for language C/P
By Kim Riley
Note: My Thanks to "Morticia"
pussy.willow@ntlworld.com and her wonderful
"R" series that inspired this story. And did a wonderful job cleaning up my
mess to fit her gem of a series.


It was early morning when Tom Paris found himself curled up safe next to
Chakotay. There was
a strange feeling whirling around in his head and chest, one that he
couldn't explain and wouldn't
go away. It felt so good to lie in the arms of the man next to him.

I don't think I ever felt cared for on this ship before, Tom thought, then
he had a strange feeling - something was pushing its way forward. It was
that same feeling he got when a word was on the tip of his tongue but just
eluded him.

Tom tried to go back to sleep, shifting slowly so not to wake the man he
now knew he cared for so much. That thought along scared him, but it was not
what was bothering him. After about another hour he slipped from the big
man's arms to grab a quick shower, hoping that would do the trick in
elevating what it was that was nagging him.

By the time he was showed, dressed and had checked his duty log, the
feeling, and the vague thought that accompanied it, was even more persistent
than before. He was still off helm duty, and didn't have to report to Seven
for several more hours.

He thought about waking Chakotay, but the big man had been through the
ringer with all that had happened recently, and Tom just wanted to let him
rest. He deserved the sleep, he deserved a lot more than Tom thought he
could give him, but he could at least let the man sleep.

Tom decided to go for a walk, no real direction on his mind. After about
thirty minutes he found himself entering a small storage bay. It was lined
wall to wall with metal shelves; with all the same size metallic storage
boxes. This was all that was left of those crewmembers that didn't make it.
Their belongings packed into a box and placed in storage to return to the
next of kin should Voyager return to the Alpha Quadrant.

Paris felt a small shiver run through his body, he didn't even know why he
was here, but as he turned to leave, his eyes locked on one of the engraved
names of the deceased and he froze.

Every survival mechanism he ever had was screaming at him to leave now,
before it was too late.

However, a small voice, one that sounded much like Chakotay's was saying "to
be free in the future you must face the past, now."

The small voice won as Tom slowly moved to the metallic box marked, "Ensign
Marilyn M. Morgan." His hand shook as his fingers traced the engraved
letters on the case before he pulled the box off the shelf and placed it on
the floor. He sank down next to it, his back resting against the shelves.

The box was locked, but it wasn't the possibility of being charged with
breaking and entering or attempted theft that had his body shaking from the
inside out. He somehow knew that there was something inside this box that
made him afraid, and that he didn't quite remember why, but the memory was
pushing to be known. He was always pushing his thoughts and feelings away.
He had become so good at it; he almost believed that he didn't have a past -

He could feel the door that kept his painful past locked up giving way.
Something was demanding to be remembered, something that had to do with this
ensign, who up to a few minutes ago he would have sworn had never existed on
Voyager. He shook again, debating whether to just put the box away, but he
couldn't - he just kept playing with the lock.


Paris looked up to see Chakotay standing before him. He hadn't even heard
him come in. He looked up at the big man, knowing that he had tears in his
eyes, but he couldn't find any words to explain his distress. He watched as
Chakotay sat down next to him, puzzled, placing a warm arm around him, a
very patient look on his face.

"Tom," he said again softly. "What are you doing?"

"I- I," Tom tried to say, but found the words were almost as difficult as
the memory he was trying to bring forth. He tried again. "The box.something
in the box," he whispered, his hand still playing with the lock. "Ca-Can't
open it," he cried. The plea sounded more like Paris couldn't open the box
because of the lock itself, but it was more than that.

Whether or not Chakotay understood only the first or both, he saw the tears
flowing down the young man's face and entered his access code into the lock.
The box seal hissed; a sound that made Tom flinch.

"It's okay, Tom. What's important about this box?" he asked, keeping his
tone soft, gentle and patient.

He looked on the other side to see whom this belonged too. "Ensign Marilyn
M. Morgan?" he questioned. "I don't think I knew her, did you?"

He watched as Tom moved a trembling hand to move open the lid, then uncover
the belongings. Ever so slowly he reached in then pulled out one of the
rattiest, ugliest teddy bears Chakotay had ever seen. It was a faded brown,
hardly any fur, and it had what looked like a mane, that a lion should have,
not a teddy bear. He saw Tom's eyes widen at the sight of the thing, then
quick as lighting he brought the thing to his chest, squeezing it so
tightly, that one would think his life depended on it.

"Oh, God!" Tom cried, his voice filled with pure pain. "Oh, God," he sobbed.

Tom curled up in a ball around the teddy bear, falling into Chakotay's lap.
"Oh, God, I swear I didn't mean it, Mar. I didn't mean it," he sobbed

"Didn't mean what?" Chakotay asked, feeling sure he wouldn't get an answer.
The fact that Tom was facing a painful memory at all was more than he
thought possible after all that had happened to the young man.

Tom's body curled up tighter to Chakotay's, afraid that what he was going to
say would be the final straw, but he could still hear that small voice,
which sounded so much like the big man, telling him no matter what, he'd
never leave him. He took a moment to gather his words, but all that came
out was, "I killed her."

The Commander froze, but only for a second. "What do you mean you killed
her? How? Why do you think that? You're one of the most kind and."

Tom interrupted by spitting the words out as fast as he could. "I killed her
because she was my friend!"

"Tom?" the big man said softly. "That's.well, that's plain ridiculous. You
can't kill someone just for being a friend," he replied evenly. He wondered
if he was interpreting the situation correctly, or if Tom was experiencing
another break down.

Tom didn't know where the courage was coming from, but he found he could sit
up enough to look at Chakotay. "You can, if you're friends with the ship's
whore." Tom looked at the Commander with a painful and serious look.

"Tom." Chakotay just didn't know how to respond to this situation. "Tom,
what? What exactly - what exactly happened?" he asked, thinking that if he
got a better picture, he'd understand what Tom was so upset about.

Tom lay back down in the big man's lap, cuddling the teddy bear in his arms,
taking a world of time before finding a small voice.

"It was toward the end of the first year on Voyager, I had already began to
establish a small.clientele." *sigh* "I know it doesn't make any sense, but
I knew Harry wasn't really interested in being a 'real' friend, but I was
desperate for company. By this time I was up to four regulars, Harry, a few
others, and as of the night before this particular night, the Captain. I was
in the holodec bar, looking as usual for someone to share a bed with, but
that night I didn't want any of my regulars, and the prospects around me

Tom laughed. "I know, me who would and has slept with over 90% of the crew
actually being choosy, unbelievable I guess. But I still didn't want to be
alone. I looked around and I thought I saw, well I don't know what I saw
except that she was a new face. She wasn't what most males would call a
'looker'. She wouldn't turn heads by any means. The ensign I was looking at
was tall, but not lean, or gorgeous, for she was a bit on the heavy side.

"Unusual for Starfleet personnel, but I didn't find out till later it was
from a recent condition from, but that's neither here nor there. She was
sitting alone, nursing a scotch. I thought that since I'd been with worse, I
could give her a shot. Oh, Chakotay, besides you, she turned out to be one
of the most beautiful people I've ever known." Tom cried.


"Hey, anyone sitting here?" Tom asked, smiling brightly.

A young ensign, long brown hair, deep blue eyes, heavy cheeks, looked up to
see the famous pilot.

"I'm sorry," she said, just above a whisper. "Were you talking to me?"

Oh, shy; now that's new, Tom thought. "Yes, I'm talking to you," his smile
widened. "I couldn't help notice that you were sitting here all alone, and I
was wondering if you'd like some company."
"But.you're Tom Paris. Why would you want to sit with me?" She said in

"Well, if you're not interested," Tom said, giving her his I'm-hurt-look.

"Oh, please!" she said, not wanting to offend the young Lt. "I.I didn't mean
to offend you, I.I just thought that you'd have.plans," she smiled shyly.

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all, Tom started to think, unnerved
by her failure to jump in for the kill. He wasn't accustomed to people who
played hard to get. I'll get a couple of drinks out of her, he decided,
until someone else comes along.

"So, Science?" he said, small talk to break the ice and work his way to
another drink, as he gestured to the blue uniform she wore.

"Oh, yes. Nothing special though. This is my first space assignment, go
figure," she laughed, and then the laugh turned dry from nerves.
"Um.could.could I buy you another drink?"

Well, that didn't take much, he thought with a warm smile. "Why, sure. I'd
like that. By the way, as you know, Tom Paris.and you are?"

"Ensign Morgan. Um.Marilyn Morgan," she smiled.

Three drinks later Tom Paris was laughing so hard along with Marilyn that
neither of them noticed the looks that they were getting from the rest of
the crew.

"Please," he breathed out between laughs. "Tell me, what did the guy in the
third tree say?" Tom asked.

"Well, he thought that if the first guy could do it, and the second, he
could too. Moooo!"

Tom laughed so hard that he fell out of his seat. "Moo!" Before he knew it
Marilyn was helping him off the ground, as he was wiping tears from his
eyes. "I bet you have a whole slew of those, don't you?"
"Well, yeah," she said now bashful, having taken notice of all the hostile
looks she was getting.

"Okay, Mar. How about another one." He asked.

"It's getting late," she whispered, feeling uncomfortable about all the eyes
on her.

The words sobered Tom up; he had forgotten that this was just another
transaction, for he had found he actually liked her company. Now he
regretted starting it. The pleasure of the evening was now to be sullied by
the reality that he was only a whore in her eyes, after all. But it was too
late to find another that he would want to be with, and sleeping alone was
out of the question.

"Yeah, of course," he said. "My place or yours," he smiled.

"Um.my place is near, if you like," she replied gently.

Paris walked into the spartan small two-party room "When's your roommate due
back?" he asked so he'd have an idea how much privacy they'd have. These
small quarters were bad enough, without having to share them.

"Oh, I don't have one," Marilyn responded quietly.


"Um.my last roommate was Ensign Dobson, she was a medic," she said, a pained
look filling her eyes.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Tom said, remembering that all the medical staff had been
killed in the cross over.

"Thanks," she said then took in a deep cleansing breath. "Because we lost
more crew than we gained back from the Maquis, when the new rooms were
assigned, I didn't get another roommate. Um - want another drink? I don't
really use my ration chips much," she said quietly, moving to the replicator
and getting Tom and herself another drink. Then she handed Tom his and she
moved to sit, not on the couch but in a single chair, evidently nervous.

Tom smiled; it had been a long time since he was with someone so shy, but
yet so nice. She's just another trick, he had to remind himself firmly.

"So?" he said softly taking a seat on the couch, "Would you like to join me
here?" he asked gently patting the sofa. He smiled his brightest smile, but
the woman he dubbed Mar. was not moving. "Mar. what's wrong?" he said
soothingly, even as he began to panic that she was going to back out of the
deal and leave him to face the night alone.

"Tom, I like you.but."

My word, was she crying? "Mar?" He asked again, this time an edge of fear in
his voice.

"I.I.don't want you to go," she said softly, "But.but.I.I" she stuttered.

"But what?" Tom snapped, suddenly angry as he thought of another reason for
her hesitation. Did she think because she told a few good jokes and was good
company she'd get a discount? She'd better think again, Paris thought.

"But I don't want to have sex with you," she blurted out as more tears fell
from her face.

Tom was confused. Here he was offering himself, even if it was for a price,
and this woman didn't want him. That was bewildering enough by itself, but
why was she crying about it? Why did she say she didn't want him to go? "I
don't understand." was all he could say.

She started shaking, so she placed her drink down on a nearby table, and
then folded her arms around her chest before speaking again. She could
barely look at Tom.

"I know how pathetic this is going to sound to you, and I won't blame you
for wanting to bolt out of here, I just hope you won't.ah hell, what does it
matter," she cried. Then she looked at Tom, a plea in her eyes. "Ever since
we've been here in the Delta quadrant, I.I can't sleep with out having these
awful dreams. I don't want to be alone, but.I.I don't," she lowered her head
with shame. "I don't have any friends. You're the first person to even speak
to me for more than five minutes."

"I don't believe that!" Tom said in disbelief. "You're a funny, intelligent

"Well, you're the first one to take the time to find that out. I'm usually
so wound up inside I can barely get five words out. But with you, tonight, I
felt.I felt like we had been friends for years," she blushed. " I know it's
a lot to ask, but I was just hoping.hoping."

"Hoping what?"

"Would you be too offended if we 'just' cuddled for the night? I mean," she
added quickly. "I understand that you are used to being - um - 'thanked' for
your time and I'm prepared to pay you but - I don't want to have sex" she
stammered. "I just don't want to be alone."

Tom was completely astounded. Was this real? Here was a woman that felt the
way he did, and was offering 'him' what he wanted most. A warm bed, with
someone to hold on to when the dreams came, without the meaningless sex. She
was even willing to meet his price, although to be honest the money suddenly
seemed not only completely irrelevant to him but something that would ruin
things between them.

There had to be a catch somewhere, but at the moment he was too tired to
think of what it could be. "Um.sure. We could just cuddle, if that's what
'you' really want. I'd be okay with that. No charge." he said casually.

"You sure?" she asked shyly, wiping her face, which was red with

"Yeah, I'm sure," he said. If they were ever going to get sleep he realised
he'd have to take the initiative. He got up and gently took her hand and led
her to the bedroom. There he saw, sitting on the bed, a ratty teddy bear
with what looked like a mane. He picked it up and started laughing because
he had found someone else that still had their teddy bear. He wasn't the
only one.

Mar didn't take his laughter the right way. "It's not that funny!" she
snapped, taking the bear from Tom's hands.

"I'm not laughing at you," he hurriedly explained. "It's.well, if you
promise not to tell anyone, I have one too. His name's Ted," he smiled, this
time with a touch of red filling his cheeks.


"Really. What's his name?"

"Well, he was a gift from my sister when I joined the Academy. I've always
been the shy type, so she wanted to give me something that she thought would
remind me of who I was and courage at the same time. So she gave me this
bear, for it was all cuddly, like she always teased me about being, and it
had a mane like a lion, for courage. So.of course I named him Leo."

Tom smiled warmly. "Well, nice to meet you Leo. I hope you don't mind, but
we are quite tired, and must to bed," he said with a fine elegant air that
made Marilyn laugh.

The next morning Tom woke to the smell of breakfast. It took him a couple of
minutes to conclude why he was still dressed and had experienced one of the
best night's sleep he had had in a long time. Then he remembered Mar. He got
up, and walked out to find her setting the table. "Morning," he murmured.

"Oh, good morning Tom," she chimed.

It took Tom a good hour over breakfast to notice how she too looked much
better, and seemed to feel better. "Thank you," he said. "Not only for
breakfast, but.for last night," he said softly, giving a sincere smile.

"Last night? Well, we.we didn't.you know?"

"I know. But I think we did something better last night," Tom smiled

"Really? What?" she smiled wondering what Tom was referring to.

"We became friends," Tom dared. He knew he was taking a risk here, but
everything inside him told him this 'was' the case. He was relieved to see
Mar. smile warmly and agree.

"Well in that case," she teased, "thank you." Then the smile faded a bit.
"Um.if.if you're not busy.um.we could do this again sometime," she said just
above a whisper.

Tom still had trouble believing this was for real, but as long as it had a
chance of being so, he'd take advantage of it, the opportunity not Mar. "I'd
like that. Believe it or not, there are times I really don't want to have
sex," he said, then quickly wondered why that had come out. He blushed, and
changed the subject.


"Ah, Chakotay, it became the best three months of my life out here in the
Delta quadrant. She was a warm, wonderful person. We were friends, and she
never once wanted anything from me other than my friendship. I found that
our having this fear of sleeping alone brought us together. Though we didn't
talk about the dreams, we didn't need to, because we had each other to help
us through the night.

"It actually got to the point where I stopped having regulars, just a few
nights here and there when I needed something more physical. If I knew then
what I do now I would never have stopped.I would of never." Tom started
sobbing again.

"Stopped what?" Chakotay asked, though he felt he knew what Tom was
referring too.

"Whoring," he sobbed. "It was because of me that. that she died." He cried,
and then sobbed harder into Leo.


Tom stopped crying after another few minutes then began telling the rest of
his story.

"Like I said, it had been the best three months for me. I had a real friend,
I didn't have to have sex to avoid being alone, and I thought I could take
back control of my life by saying no. I said no to the wrong person."

"Who was that? And where was I during all this?"

"It was the Captain, and you and I had been clashing heads that first year,
so by this time I was avoiding you."

"I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to know Marilyn. She sounds like the
kind of person you need in your life," Chakotay said sincerely. "But what
did saying no to the Captain have to do with anything?" he asked, already
guessing the answer, but really hoping that he was wrong.

"Well one day she came to me upset. Mar., I mean."


"Tom! I can't believe this! I've been placed on the landing party for Charon
two! Me!" Marilyn cried. "That place is so hostile, and I don't have the
best record for hand to hand combat. I don't understand it. I tried to talk
with the Captain, but she just said that we all have to take our turns, no
exception. Tom, I can't do this!" Marilyn sat down on the edge of the sofa
in Tom's room, falling apart.

"I can't believe the Captain wouldn't make an exception. Why just last week
she excused Harry from a landing party due to his lack of knowledge in that
environment. I don't see why she won't do it for you."

"Tom, I tried to talk with her. I tried to explain that with my lack of
condition I couldn't out run those things, and my security level was a joke.
She dismissed it as lack of confidence. The best I got from her was that it
was just for tonight. I don't have to stay the entire two days, just long
enough to be exposed to a real situation." Mar. was shaking with fear, as
Tom came to sit by his friend and offer her some comfort.

"I know we're in orbit already, but do we have time so I can give you a few
pointers?" he asked hopefully.

"No. I'm to report in fifteen minutes," she sniffed. "And I was warned not
to be late."

Tom felt a rock hit inside his stomach. "Look. Just stay close to everyone,
don't go wondering off, and you'll be back here in time for breakfast,
okay?" he said, hoping to exude more confidence than he was feeling about
the matter. "Okay?"

"Okay," she replied weakly. "Um.you buying?" she attempted to tease.

"Well, since it'll be your first away mission, yeah. I'll buy.this time," He
teased back. "Now, you'd best be going. Don't want to be late. Who's in
charge of the mission?"


"No, don't be late. He'll keep an eye on you, if you explain the situation
to him, logically," Tom smiled. He leaned in and gave her a kiss on the

"Breakfast, 09:00 sharp," he said, as she moved out the door, a smile of
thanks filling her face.
About an hour later Tom got a message from the Captain. It was an invitation
for dinner. Tom didn't want to accept it, but since Mar. wouldn't be back
until the morning, and he didn't want to sleep alone, he accepted. He had
just enough time to shower and change into his best civvies, and arrive at
her door wearing his best smile. The dinner was pleasant, even if the
company left a lot to be desired. He complimented her on the fine roast they
were sharing and she smugly told him that she had prepared it especially for

A nasty suspicion occurred to Tom at her words.
"Um.I was wondering. A roast takes a while to cook, I'm surprised you had
time considering you didn't know if I would be coming or not, since I said I
wouldn't be coming around as often." Tom said casually.

"Oh, Tom. Let's not play games. We both knew you'd be free tonight, since
your 'little' friend isn't around to interfere." she purred.

Tom was shocked. Mar. had drawn a dangerous away mission just because the
Captain was horny and wanted to hedge her bets of having him in her bed.

He felt the anger swell inside him, "You placed Mar. out there, knowing she
wasn't qualified, just.just so." he couldn't say it.

"Just so I could have you here tonight? I believe that was what you were
trying to say, Tom. Wasn't it?" She rose from the table gathering the dishes
and placing them into the recycler.

"Well, yes.I did. If you'd just be a little more flexible with your
'schedule' I wouldn't have had to resort to just drastic measures. I'm
hoping it won't have to come to such things again." she replied, as she
walked up to Paris and started rubbing his shoulder.

Tom's mind was filled with anger, pain, and regret. Because of him, the
Captain ordered his only real friend on the ship on a dangerous mission. And
if he wanted to keep his friend safe, she had made it quite clear that he'd
best be available when she wanted him.

He thought about revolting, but what about Mar? No, he couldn't do that to
her. He pushed his emotions on the matter back behind the door, and went
along with the program the Captain had planned for them that night.

Next morning, 09:00 he waited in his quarters with a hot breakfast on the
table. Tom began to be concerned at 09:30. It wasn't like Mar. to be late.

He contacted the bridge. "Sorry, to bother you Harry, but I was wondering
what time Ensign Morgan was due back. I though she was due back at 08:30?"
he asked.

But it was not Harry that came back over the intercom; it was the first

"Tom, I'm sorry. I didn't know.Ensign Morgan.well, she."

Tom never heard the words; he knew what had happened just by the tone in the
Commander's voice. Then he didn't remember anything.


"My word, Tom! I didn't know." Chakotay said, in defence and concern of this
new understanding of what happened so long ago.

"So, you see. She died because of me!" Tom sobbed.

"No! She died because of the fucking Ice Queen, not you, Tom!" he snapped.
"From what you've told me, you were the best thing to happen to her, just
like you're the best thing to happen to me!"

Tom just started to sob even harder after hearing Chakotay's words.

"I couldn't bear losing you too!" he said, his voice muffled from being
buried in the teddy bear.
"Oh, Tom. Nothing is going to happen to me, I promise. I can handle the big
bitch! You must believe me, nothing is going to happen to me, and 'you'
didn't bring about Mar's death. You were her friend, Tom." He soothed.

Chakotay had automatically called in Lt. Wildman to take his shift, knowing
something was wrong when Tom was missing this morning. He sat there in no
rush, stroking the young man's rich blond hair, letting the long forgotten
feelings of pain, grief resurface, and flow through. It was a start, but a
painful one. But at least Tom was facing some of the pain in his heart.
Chakotay just wondered why this memory, and why now? He just sat quietly,
holding his Tom.

After about an hour, Tom finally sat up enough to look into the box, pulling
out a few items, then found a box with his name on it. He froze with it in
his hand.

"It's okay, Tom" Chakotay soothed, knowing that all he could do was lend as
much strength he could to the one he loved, but ultimately it was up to him.

Slowly Tom opened the box to find a couple of data rods and a portable data
player. His hand was shaking as he placed them in and turned the player on.

"Happy Birthday Tom!" Marilyn's voice cheered out. "I know how you don't
like a fuss on your birthday, but you didn't say you didn't like presents.
So, since there really isn't much around this hunk of junk I though you'd
like, I thought I'd give you a song. Now, it's not my song, but it fit you.
I hope you like it! Okay, here it goes.and yes, I programmed the music
myself." *giggle*

A Blue moon, is the only light that falls upon your room.
Your cold room.
Too soon, there'll be another empty morning in you life, but you try again.
Though the sun is the only one that shines within your heart.
Your cold heart.
Oh, how your dreams have been forsaken, and now it seems your hopes
But just when you're sure your world is breaking.

Love will find you.
And it will heal a heart that's grieving.
Love will find you.
You got to see, you got to see
Love will find you.
When you believe you stop believing
Love will find you.
Love will find you.

Bright lights, from the streets that wind their way across the night,
Oh the atlas night.
You might, go on searching in the shadows waiting there, and anywhere you
Like a lost and lonely ghost upon the wind, the crying rain
Hoping to lose the pain you're holding.
Walk through a door that's always open.
Into a promise never broken.

Love will find you.
And it will heal a heart that's grieving.
Love will find you.
It will find you.You got to see, you got to see.
Love will find you.
Love will find you.
When you believe you stop believing.
Love will find you.
Love will find you.

Give up the pain that you've been holding.
Walk through a door that's always open.
Into a promise never broken.

Love will find you.
Love will find you.
Love will find you
Love will find you.
When you believe you stop believing
Love will find you
Love will find you
You got to see, Ah you got to see
Love will find you
Love will find you
Some things are meant to be
Love will find you.
You must believe.you must believe.you must believe.

Well, that was that; hope you liked it, Tom! Happy birthday! Next time I
promise I'll get you a real gift." The data player shut off.

Tom just held the bear, the data player, and curled up more closely into
Chakotay's arms. He remembered every bit of the three months he spent
getting to know her. He remembered how she died three days before his
birthday, and he remembered how he just shoved it all away like he did
almost everything else.

Then he remembered why he was having dreams, because the closet was
overstuffed, it had to come out. Just like Chakotay said, it had to come out
sometime, on his terms or theirs, and the dreams were theirs, not his. He
lay there shaking, feeling, and grieving his loss. The strangest part about
all this was that now he was facing his loss, he could value once again what
he lost, and what he had found in his all too short friendship in Marilyn

He also remembered that he did have a template in which to base what was
real and what was not. He smiled. He knew that Chakotay and Mar. would have
gotten on wonderfully, for when it came to good, loving, kind, and genuine
people, they both fit.

He found a smile, when he thought about the real gift Mar. had given him, a
sense of what was real, and a sense of love.

Chakotay continued to sit patiently, not knowing what else to do. He was
relieved to feel Tom stop shaking, and his crying slowed to a slow pour from
the gushing flow it was earlier. He dared to ask the pending question.

"Do you mind if I ask, why now? Why did this come up now?" he asked with
concern and curiosity.

Tom thought about it, and then it came to him. "My birthday is in three
days," he replied softly. "I guess a part of me remembered that she died
three days before my birthday."

"Oh, that's today," Chakotay replied gently with understanding. "I'm sorry,"
he whispered.

"Me too," Tom said, a slight sob still lingering in his voice. "Can we go

"Of course. Do you.want to keep it?"

"Of course I want the present."

"I meant the bear?"

"Oh? Yeah, if I could?" Tom said very quietly.

Chakotay smiled. "I don't think there would be a problem with that, I think
Mar. would like that. Besides, I think Ted could use a friend too."

"Me too," Tom added with a small gentle smile.

The two men placed back the few small items that Tom had taken out then
placed the resealed box back on the shelf before heading back to their

Once inside, Tom moved into the bedroom, to find Ted siting on the chair
where he had left him. He placed the other bear next to it.

Chakotay placed a loving arm around Tom, while looking at the bears. "Ted,
this is Leo. A good friend of a good friend of Toms. I hope you don't mind,
but he's going to be living with us too, so I do hope you'll be friends
also," he said, keeping his smile to a minimum.

Tom just laughed. "You're crazy. They're just bears."
Just then Ted fell sideways, as did Leo so the two bears suddenly seemed to
be hugging each other. Tom just looked from the bears to Chakotay, "Right?"

"Spirits move in mysterious ways, Tom." Chakotay smiled, truly believing
that the spirit of Marilyn Morgan was here with them, giving not only Tom
but both of them her blessing.

<The end>