Disclaimer: "In the beginning, Paramount created Star Trek:

Voyager and everything pertaining unto it." :-) William Shakespeare created "Romeo and Juliet" and everything etc.

Copyright 1997 by JoAnna Walsvik; all rights reserved and most of the lefts, too. :-) Distribute, archive, etc., but keep my name and the disclaimer attached.

This story is dedicated to my English teacher, Ms. Tanya Neumiller, (who IS a Trekker, BTW) for making Shakespeare come alive! :-) THANKS, MS. NEUMILLER!! :-)

Author’s Note: Warning: This story contains Shakespearean material and (gasp!) quotes from Shakespeare. :-) If you don’t like that kinda stuff, don’t read. I myself am a huge fan of Shakespeare in general and "Romeo and Juliet" in particular. Hence this story. If you think the idea of B’Elanna, Tom, and/or anyone else on Voyager doing Shakespeare is totally inconceivable, pretend it’s in a parallel universe. :-) Also, good or bad feedback is very much appreciated! Oh, BTW; this has nothing to do with the movie version of "Romeo and Juliet." I have seen the movie, and it’s excellent, but this story is based on the original play.

Summary: Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres star in the Federation Starship Voyager’s production of "Romeo and Juliet." Written by William Shakespeare; produced and directed by Tom Paris. This is in B’Elanna’s POV. (Point Of View, ppl, NOT "Persistence Of Vision" god forbid :-) No offense to anyone who liked the episode.)

Romeo and Juliet: Voyager Style (Voy, P/T, PG)
by JoAnna Walsvik

"Romeo and Juliet" written by William Shakespeare

Part 1

"You want me to what?" Had I heard Tom right?

"Be in my play." The man was serious. He was actually serious.

"Paris...I can’t act," I protested. I walked across Engineering to another console, hoping he’d get the drift and leave me alone.

He didn’t. "I think you can act," he countered, following me. "I’ve seen you give excuses to Freddy Bristow that were so convincing...hell, even I almost believed them."

"How did you know that?!" I demanded without thinking. How could he have known that I gave excuses to Bristow? Unless...he had been checking up on me, to see if I was really interested in Freddy or not. Damn the man.

"I have my ways." That cocky grin of his arrived in full force. "So, will you? Please?"

I sighed. Paris had shown up in Engineering after his shift, yakking about some play he was putting on, a mini-theater of sorts to boost morale. Neelix had given him the idea after reading up on forms of entertainment in the ship’s database. Paris had apparently claimed it as his pet project, claiming he had played the lead three years in a row at his school play. I didn’t know if he was just shooting his mouth off or not, but frankly, I didn’t care. I thought about going to the play once it was put on, depending who was in it, but to actually participate and act in it had never crossed my mind. I had wanted to act in my school play when I was a freshman in high school, but the drama teacher had merely given me an odd look and said, "I’m sorry, but we don’t have any parts available." Bull. She just hadn’t wanted a Klingon in her little production. Ever since then I had stayed far away from anything pertaining to drama and the theater. But now Paris had shown up and asked me to act in one.

"What’s the play?" I asked. Perhaps I could consider it, depending on the play. I’d probably be a small, walk-on character anyway.

"‘Romeo and Juliet.’ And I want you to be Juliet."

"What?!" I yelped, thankfully not loud enough so everyone could hear me. I had taken a course on great Earth literature in high school, and I was familiar with the play. I had liked it, actually. The Capulets and Montagues reminded me of humans and Klingons with their infernal feud. "That’s preposterous, Lieutenant. Me, Juliet? And who, may I ask, is Romeo?"

Tom had the decency to look embarrassed. "Well, uh, I am. I asked the captain to be Juliet," he added hastily, "and Chakotay to be Romeo, but both of them declined. Said they didn’t like acting in plays, just watching them. So, I took the part of Romeo. And...I want you to be Juliet."

"Paris, are you crazy?" I said, looking around to make sure no one had heard his absolutely farfetched request. Luckily, Engineering was almost deserted; Gamma shift was just ending. "A Klingon Juliet? That’s insane. It’s more than insane, it’s awful."

"I saw a Klingon version of Romeo and Juliet once," Paris said. Gods, he was stubborn. "I liked it. A lot. Aw, come on, B’Elanna. Just go to rehearsals for a few days. If you don’t like it, you can drop out and I’ll ask Megan Delaney to be Juliet. She asked me, anyway."

Sudden anger flared up in my chest. Megan Delaney? As Juliet? Why, that little...
B’Elanna, are you jealous? my mind suddenly asked.

No, I’m not, I told it. *I just...Megan Delaney is blond, and Juliet should be brunette. That’s all.*
Yeah, right, the unconvinced part of me said.

"All right, Paris," I said out loud. "I’ll do it. But I can drop out if I don’t like it."

"Great!" he said enthusiastically, handing me a PADD. "Here are rehearsal times. Your part is in the database. Oh, and just to add a bit of mystery, I’ve asked all actors to keep their parts secret from the rest of the crew so on opening night, no one will know what we’re doing or who is who until the curtain rises."

I shook my head at him. "Lieutenant Paris, you have a warped mind."
"I know," he said cheerfully. "That’s part of my charm."
And he was gone.

A few days later I stood outside Holodeck 2, where rehearsals were being held. What am I getting myself into? I silently asked. Had I actually consented to act in this play? What if everyone else thought a Klingon Juliet was a horrible idea?

*Get a hold of yourself, Torres. You don’t care what other people think, remember?* I decided to take my own advice. After drawing a deep breath, I entered the holodeck.

"Hi, B’Elanna! Right on time!" Tom said cheerfully. The program running was magnificent, I had to admit. Rows and rows of red velvet chairs under a giant rotunda displaying scenes from—what else—Romeo and Juliet. The stage was enormous, complete with an orchestra pit in the front. And red velvet curtains to match the chairs. Not bad, actually.

"Let’s get this show on the road," I said to him. "I don’t have all day, you know."

Tom didn’t even flinch. "Okay, everyone, may I have your attention, please!" he shouted. The friendly chatter in the holodeck ceased, and everyone turned expectantly towards him.

"First, I want to thank everyone for participating in this. I hope it will, as Neelix suggests, boost morale around here. Now, I’m sure you want to know who is playing whom, so let’s get down to business."

"Although he’s not here at the moment, the Chorus’s part will be done by Lieutenant Commander Tuvok. Playing Friar Lawrence: Ensign Chell." I grinned. Tom had made a good choice in picking the rotund Bolian to play the friar.
"Playing Mercutio: Ensign Walter Baxter. Playing Paris: Although I do have the best name for it, the part of Paris will be played by Ensign Harry Kim."

I couldn’t conceal my surprise at this. Harry was in the play? I looked around for him and spied him near Tom, grinning modestly.

"The Nurse: Lieutenant Sue Nicoletti," Tom continued. "Lady Capulet: Ensign Catherine Henley. Lord Capulet: Ensign Geron."

Geron? He was one of the shyest people I had ever met, and he was going to perform in a play? Yes, there he was; standing next to Dalby and looking slightly embarrassed, but nonetheless happy with his part. Hmm. Will miracles never cease.

"Lord Montague: Aaron Dalby. Lady Montague: Ensign Megan Delaney." Megan Delaney? I thought Paris said he was going to ask her to be Juliet. She must have taken a lesser part after I got Juliet. I couldn’t help but feel a small sense of jealous satisfaction.

But you’re not jealous, remember? my mind taunted.

Oh, shut up, I told it.

"Benvolio: Ensign Eddie Black. Gregory: Lieutenant Ian Manning. Sampson: Ensign Tony Jarvin. Abraham: Ensign Shai Ayala. Tybalt: -- " Before Tom could speak, a hologram shimmered into existence. "—the doctor," Tom finished.
The EMH program was grinning smugly at his sudden appearance.
I wasn’t surprised that he was taking part in this sort of thing.

The doctor loved to get attention in any way, shape, or form.

"The rest of the parts, except for the main two, of course, will be played by holographic characters. And, now for the parts you’ve all been waiting for..." Paris paused dramatically, grinning wickedly at everyone.

"Come on, Paris, out with it!" Harry Kim shouted good-naturedly.
"Romeo will be played by...Lieutenant Tom Paris."

Groans and scoffs echoed throughout the holodeck. "Why am I not surprised," Harry remarked loud enough for all to hear. I had to stifle a giggle at his wry tone.

"Hey, I wanted to be Paris. I asked Chakotay to be Romeo, but he wouldn’t unless the Captain was Juliet," Paris protested slyly. More laughs rang out. "And she declined. So, Juliet will instead be played by...Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres."

Instant silence. I saw everyone’s eyes turn toward me, and I could feel my cheeks start to turn scarlet. "What?" I asked defensively. "Klingons can act too, you know."

Dubious glances met my retort, and I could feel myself start to get angry. Damn Paris and his stupid play! I would have quit if not for the fact I wanted to show up Megan Delaney.

"Okay, everyone, let’s get started," Paris called out, taking the attention away from me—a gesture I appreciated. "I assume you all got your parts from the database?"
Nods and murmurs of confirmation met his inquiry.

"Great. Okay, we have some members of the crew who, although not acting, play a crucial part. Kes will be helping with costumes—" Kes smiled in acknowledgment, "—and Neelix will be helping with props and such." Neelix, standing next to Kes, nodded to everyone. "Now, let’s start with the first scene...."

The next few days I threw myself into my part with a vigor that surprised even myself. Now I was striving to prove myself not to a prejudiced drama teacher, but to the crew of Voyager herself. I’d show them that Klingons could act, no matter what they whispered behind my back.

Paris had deliberately broken up the crew into small groups to rehearse every time we met. "That way," he explained, "we’ll get things done a lot faster, because everyone has different shifts, and no one will feel too self-conscious at first." I suspected it was a ploy to get alone with me, for we rehearsed all of Romeo and Juliet’s scenes first. Paris especially wanted to rehearse the balcony scene, and I knew what his motives were. Luckily, I was able to keep him at bay with a few well-timed snarls.

But, I have to admit, I enjoyed acting once I got into it. After a while, I stopped thinking about proving myself and started thinking about having fun. I discovered I actually was good at it -- when I played Juliet, I became Juliet. I was no longer B’Elanna Torres, a half-Klingon Maquis rebel turned Starfleet engineer, but Juliet Capulet, a young teenager in love with a boy her parents forbade her to see, and so in love she was willing to die if she couldn’t have him.

Tom surprised me too. I guess he hadn’t been bluffing when he bragged about his roles in his high school plays. Tom was good. He became Romeo just like I became Juliet.

I guess Tom had carried some doubts about my acting abilities at first, too, but when we had our first rehearsal together, I changed his mind.

We had done the scene at Capulet’s house, and were beginning on the balcony scene. Since we had gotten through the ball scene all right, Tom thought I was an okay actress, but nothing to get excited about—until I began Juliet’s speech on the balcony:

JULIET: ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name which is no part of thee Take all myself.

I threw myself into that part. I lamented, with tears on my face, the sorrow of my lover being of a rival family. I wished with all my heart that Romeo was not a Montague. I begged him to change his name.

When I finished, Paris was staring at me, his mouth wide open. "Oh...my...God," he gaped incredulously. "That was...that was...totally amazing! How—I thought you said you couldn’t act?!"

"I’m not that good," I murmured, purposefully demure. It sounds conceited, but I was good, and I knew it.

"Yes—yes, oh yes you are!" he exclaimed. "My God, B’Elanna, where did you learn to act like that? You’re spectacular!"

"My mother was in Klingon Opera," I answered. "I guess it runs in the family."

"This play is going to be fantastic if you do the rest of the parts the way you just did," Paris declared. "I can’t believe that idiotic drama teacher of yours didn’t give you a part!" I had previously told him the reason of my initial reluctance to be in the play.

"Thanks, Paris," I said. I was actually feeling quite pleased with myself. "Let’s keep going. You haven’t seen anything yet."

The rest of the crew showed much the same amazement once we all got together for group rehearsals. Once again, I did the balcony scene with Paris. I have to admit, I forgot all about the rest of the cast, and became Juliet. The sound of applause once we were finished snapped me out of my character. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. The entire cast was on their feet in a standing ovation.

"Good grief, B’Elanna!" Harry Kim shouted. "Why the hell didn’t you tell us you could act like that?!"
"I told you Klingons could act," I called back smugly.
"Besides, my mother was in Klingon Opera. It runs in the family. But Paris wasn’t half bad either."

In fact, none of the cast was half bad. Frankly, I was surprised at the talent we had on this ship. Everyone did fabulous with their parts; even Geron, whom I hadn’t expected to do very well at all. When he and I rehearsed the scene where Juliet objects to marrying Paris, he said his lines with a vigor that surprised even myself.

CAPULET: Soft! take me with you, take me with you, wife.

How! will she none? doth she not give us thanks? Is she not proud? doth she not count her blest, Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?

JULIET: Not proud, you have; but thankful, that you have:

Proud can I never be of what I hate;
But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.

CAPULET: How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this? ‘Proud,’ and ‘I thank you,’ and ‘I thank you not;’ And yet ‘not proud,’ mistress minion, you, Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds, But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next, To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church, Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.

Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!

You tallow-face!

Geron actually screamed the last few lines in my face. The first time we rehearsed, I stopped, and, instead of waiting for Cathy Henley to say her line, fell to my knees and said, "I’m sorry, Geron! I’ll marry him! Just don’t hurt me!"

Geron got a sheepish look on his face, and he looked around at the other members of the cast. All were laughing fit to kill at my ad-libbing. "Sorry, Lieutenant," he said to me, a blush on his face. "I guess I got carried away."

"Don’t be sorry, Geron," I told him. "That was really good. Do it like that every time, okay?...of course, I’ll stick to the script!"

Geron grinned. "Aaron’s been helping me with my acting skills."

"You wouldn’t believe how much he’s improved," Aaron Dalby called out. "Good job, Geron."

The rest of the cast quickly chimed in with their congratulations, and Geron left rehearsal that night the happiest Bajoran on Voyager.

Something happened the day before opening night that was somewhat of a shock. We had just finished with the rehearsal, and I was standing in a corner by myself, doing some last-minute practicing, when I looked up and saw Megan Delaney standing in front of me. "Um, Lieutenant," she said, looking somewhat embarrassed, "you know...I just wanted to tell you...when we—the rest of the cast, I mean—first heard you were going to be Juliet, we—well, we kinda thought that you’d ruin the whole play. But—but now—we think you’re going to be the best person in it. Good job." She held out her hand to me, a blush darkening her face.

For a moment, I just stared. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Megan Delaney telling me that I was the best actress in the play? For a moment, I had an intense feeling of deja vu. This scene almost mirrored the one where, a few years ago, Carey had congratulated me on my promotion to chief engineer.

"Thanks," I finally said, shaking her hand. "You—you’re a great actress, too, Ensign." We still hadn’t gotten around to a first name basis, despite our many hours of rehearsing together.

Megan rushed off, and I was left to stare after her in amazement. This play was really beginning to change her—or was it me that had done the changing?

Part 2

Finally, it was opening night! We were actually doing two shows, one tonight and the other tomorrow night, for the people who were on duty during our first performance. Captain Janeway and Chakotay were coming to the first performace, Captain Janeway having declared that she "couldn’t wait a second longer to see it." Of course, the captain couldn’t come without Chakotay. Luckily, we were traveling through a relatively safe area of space, so it was all right to leave Lieutenant Hawkins in command, since the rest of the senior staff were in the play. Tuvok, however, was heading to the bridge the moment his part was done. Typical Vulcan.

The theater Tom had created in his program came complete with dressing rooms, which is where I found myself at 1800 hours, an hour before we were scheduled to begin. Kes distributed the costumes to the cast, but for some reason she came to help me get dressed. Neelix, she said, was with Tom. "We have to give special attention to the stars," she told me, those big blue eyes of hers sparkling.

I hadn’t seen my costume yet, so I was eager for Kes to show it to me. She lifted it out of the box, and I couldn’t help but gasp.

The dress was pure white, in Shakespearean style, with gentle puffs and folds and shirring everywhere you looked. Cobwebby lace lined the bodice, delicate white stuff with just a hint of gold. There were matching white slippers, soft lacy things that would muffle every step I took.

"Kes! I can’t wear that!" I said. I couldn’t. That dress was for Juliet, and I was just...well, B’Elanna Torres. B’Elanna Torres couldn’t wear a dress like that. It was too dainty and feminine looking, something I was anything but.

"Yes, you can," Kes said gently. "I searched the computer’s database for every costume used for Juliet, and I knew this one would be perfect for you. Now, go put it on."

Her tone was polite, but firm, and one that wouldn’t listen to any protests. So, reluctantly, I put it on. I have to admit, I loved it. It was so different from the rough material of my uniform or the plainness of my civilian clothes. This dress was...well, it sounds stupid, but it was elegant. I’d never owned or worn a dress like this before. Klingons didn’t wear clothes like this, and at the Academy I never really had a reason to dress up. And in the Maquis...formal wear wasn’t a requirement, to say the least. I, the homely Klingon, actually felt kind of...pretty.

"B’Elanna! You look wonderful!" Kes squealed. "You’re beautiful!"

"Thanks," I murmured. I could feel my face turning crimson. I wasn’t used to such lavish praise, especially from someone like Kes, who could probably manage to look lovely wearing a burlap bag. "And the final touch..." Kes was lifting something else from the box.

No. No, no, no, no, no. I could NOT wear that. "Kes, I can’t," I tried to say, but it came out in a whisper.

Kes was holding a wreath of flowers in her hand; real flowers that she must have grown in her hydroponics bay. I didn’t recognize what kind of flowers they were, but they resembled a cross between carnations and daisies—with a little touch of a rose. Trailing from the back were two exquisite white silk ribbons.

"Nonsense. Of course you can," Kes said, fastening the wreath to my hair. Standing back to look at me, she clapped her hands, delight in her eyes and coloring her voice. "B’Elanna, you are absolutely gorgeous. Just look at yourself!"

I turned to look in the mirror, and couldn’t hold back a gasp of amazement. Was that me standing there, a beautiful young lady with a blush on her cheek? I couldn’t believe how much the clothes changed me. I looked years younger, more like I had in my late teens. I barely even recognized myself! Then, ever so slowly, a tiny smile appeared on my face. I couldn’t help it. For the first time in my life, I felt pretty.

"Kes...thank you," I whispered. "I...I don’t know what to say."

"I didn’t do anything," she assured me. "*You’re* the one who’s so beautiful."
Voices from outside the door snapped me out of my reverie.
"Ready, B’Elanna?" Harry Kim called, knocking on my door.

"Coming!" I called. Kes gave me an encouraging glance, and I opened to door and stepped out.

"Good, you’re re—" Harry’s voice broke off the minute he caught sight of me. His face lost the broad smile it had been wearing and he simply stared. Geron and Dalby, who were with him, had much the same reaction.

I self-consciously smoothed the folds in my dress. "So, what do you think?" I asked nervously.

Harry let out a low whistle. "My God, Maquis. Since when have you been so stunning?" he asked candidly.

"Harry!" I said, embarrassed. I didn’t want Dalby and Geron to think I was flirting with him. "It’s just a dress."

"Just a dress?" Harry repeated. "I don’t know if I’m talking to B’Elanna Torres or Juliet Capulet."
I elbowed him in the chest. "C’mon, Starfleet. Let’s go."

Harry grinned. "It’s B’Elanna," he said to Dalby and Geron, who nodded in agreement.

For some reason, I was a little apprehensive about Tom seeing me in this costume. Would he like it? Or would he think I was ugly?
Why do YOU care? a mocking voice from inside of me said.
You want Tom to notice you? Are you INTERESTED in him?
Shut up, I told that annoying inner voice. *You’re getting on my nerves.*

I soon discovered that my worries were unfounded. Paris was backstage, giving last-minute instructions, when Harry, Dalby, Geron, and I approached. "Hey, Paris, you’re here! Great!" Tom said without turning around. "So are the Lords Capulet and Montague. Did you bring Juli—" At that moment, he turned around, caught sight of me, and promptly dropped the PADD he was holding. It clattered to the floor and caught the attention of the rest of the cast, who turned to see what had shocked their director.

Abrupt silence engulfed the backstage. Suddenly, all eyes were centered on me. Now, this was really starting to get on my nerves. Okay, so I looked considerably better then I usually do, but I didn’t look that great.

I decided to break the silence. Tom was wearing his costume, a white Shakespearean tunic and tights. I sauntered over to him, ever so casually, and looked him over. "Nice legs, Paris."

This comment caused everyone to laugh, jolting them out of their silence, exactly how I had intended. Tom, however, didn’t even crack a smile. Instead, he slowly walked around me, like he was trying to get a look at me from every angle. "What are you doing?" I asked, rather irritably.

"B’Elanna Torres—or rather, Juliet," he finally pronounced, "you look perfect. Doesn’t she look like an angel, everyone?"

To my horror—and secret delight—the cast began to applaud. "A Klingon angel," I said, shaking my head at him. "Tom Paris, what will you think of next?"

He leaned over to me and whispered, "I’m thinking maybe I’d like to have dinner with you when this is all over."

His voice was loaded with hidden meaning, causing my hands to tremble ever so slightly. "Don’t get your hopes up, Paris," I muttered, but my voice—damn! -- quavered just a bit.

"Okay, people, five minutes!" he shouted, giving me a cocky grin. "Places!"

Before I took my place, I peeked out of the curtain. Tom had programmed in holographic audience members, so it was packed. But I could see Captain Janeway and Chakotay in the front row, talking to each other quietly. Half of my engineering staff was out there, too, as well as various crew members from other parts of the ship. I gulped, suddenly feeling incredibly nervous. I must have been crazy to think I could do this.
"You’ll do fine," Tom Paris whispered, squeezing my hand.
"C’mon. You’re on soon."

Now how in the world had he known what I was thinking? Oh, well, no time to wonder now. The lights in the theater were dimming and the crowd began to quiet.

Now Tuvok, in Shakespearean garb and looking none to happy about it, walked out on stage and began his lines.
Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;

The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

The play continued on without a hitch, all of the holographic characters appearing at the right times and so on. Finally, it was time for me to enter. Sue was saying her line:

NURSE: Now, by my maidenhead, at twelve year old, I bade her come. What, lamb! what, ladybird! God forbid! Where’s this girl? What, Juliet!
Taking a deep breath, I went onstage.
JULIET: How now! who calls?

I could hear a collective gasp from the audience as I entered. As Paris had said, we had kept our parts secret from the rest of the crew. Everyone had been waiting eagerly to see who Juliet was, and I had the feeling they had been expecting anyone but me.

Sue Nicoletti, Cathy Henley and I continued our scene, which went perfectly. Before I knew it, it was time for the balcony scene. The curtains rose, and Paris said his opening line.

ROMEO: He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

As I was supposed to, I appeared on the balcony, and Tom began his lines.

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, Who is already sick and pale with grief, That thou her maid art far more fair than she.

Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!

She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, ‘tis not to me she speaks:

Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, Having some business, do entreat her eyes To twinkle in their spheres till they return. What if her eyes were there, they in her head? The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven Would through the airy region stream so bright That birds would sing and think it were not night. See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,

That I might touch that cheek!
He said them with such emotion, such feeling, that I forgot he was Tom Paris, I forgot there was an audience. Hell, I even forgot who I was. Instead, I became Juliet. I leaned my cheek against my hand, sighed, and began to speak.

JULIET: Ay me!

ROMEO: She speaks: O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art

As glorious to this night, being o’er my head
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.

JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

ROMEO: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

JULIET: ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name which is no part of thee Take all myself.

Somehow, subconsciously, I knew—I just knew -- that we were holding the audience spellbound. I could barely hear anyone in the audience breathe.

Paris and I continued the scene, doing it the best we’d ever done it before. When the curtain went down at the end of our scene, we silently hi-fived each other. We had done wonderfully, and both of us knew it.

The play continued, Juliet and Romeo’s marriage, Tybalt’s subsequent death, Romeo’s banishment and Juliet’s tender good-bye. Geron did excellently as Lord Capulet, again screaming his lines in my face—I stuck to the script, this time.

It went on—Juliet drank the sleeping drought, was thought dead, and buried. Romeo returned to find his love dead, killed Paris, then killed himself. Juliet arose, found her lover and Paris dead, and stabbed herself with Romeo’s dagger. The Capulets and Montagues, along with the prince, arrived at the graves, and the friar explained it all. The holographic Prince said his closing lines:

PRINCE: A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
The curtain fell, and the entire cast breathed a sigh of relief. The first performace was over without a hitch!

The sound of wild applause from the audience caused us all to grin at each other. They had liked it!

"Okay, everyone, curtain call!" Paris announced as the curtain began to rise.

The lesser cast took their bows first, the applause still going steadily. Then, Tom and I came out and took our bows. And to my absolute astonishment, Captain Janeway, of all people, jumped up from her seat and started to cheer wildly, shouting, "Bravo! Bravo!" Chakotay was doing the same, and the rest of the audience followed their example. We had a standing ovation!

Suddenly, a bouquet of exquisite red roses was presented to me—by none other then Tom Paris himself. "Tom!" I said in amazement. "What—"
"You were a fabulous Juliet—and you deserve a reward. It’s not much, but—" He shrugged, grinning at me.

"Tom, they’re beautiful," I said, sincerely touched. "This is so sweet."
"So are you." He winked at me rakishly.

"Pig." I grinned at him in return, and we turned back to the audience, who were—still—clapping.
Our theatrical debut had been a success.