Coeur Fort


      If Tom Paris had had a personal cloaking device at that moment, he
would have turned it on.  Instead, all he could do was try to fade
against the pastel corridor wall in his black uniform.  Chances are they
were too angry to notice him anyway.  
      "I'm not going to wait for you any longer, *Captain*."  Paris
could hear Chakotay's voice from the surprisingly open door.
      "I didn't know you were waiting, Commander.  I seem to recall a
little blonde borg scientist not so long ago."
      "What do you expect?  I'm human, unlike you.  I don't want to be
celibate for the next seventy years."
      "I'm human, Chakotay."  The Captain's voice was gentler now.  "I
don't want to be celibate, either.  I have someone waiting for me at
home, someone I love dearly."
      "Kathryn..."
      "I don't accept that I have no choices, Chakotay.  I don't accept
that just because you are my first officer and we're both lonely and you
are so...I have to sleep with you."
      "You are the most stubborn woman I've ever met."
      "If I weren't stubborn, Voyager wouldn't exist."
      "But we can't exist."
      "Not now.  It's not the right time now."
      "It will never be the right time."
      "Maybe not."
      "And you expect me to wait anyway."
      "You can do what you like."
      "And whom I like?"
      "It's your choice, Commander.  I won't stand in your way if you
find someone."
      "You don't think I can?"
      "Don't be ridiculous, Chakotay."
      "I'll find someone.  Someone who won't string me along."
      "You do that.  It will be a relief."
      "Good-bye, Kathryn."  Chakotay stormed out of the Captain's
quarters.
      Tom wished again for a personal cloaking device.  Too late.
      "What are you doing here, Paris?"  Chakotay's eyes flashed at him.
      "Nothing, sir.  I was just going to my quarters."
      "You were listening."
      Oh, no. "Only for a moment, Commander.  It was hard to miss."
      For a moment, Chakotay grinned. "I guess it was."  But the anger
returned.
      "It was a private conversation."
      "Understood, sir." Why was Chakotay looking at him that way? 
Paris felt something crawl up his spine.  He wasn't sure if it was fear
or...what. "Commander?"
      "Yes, Tom?"
      "Can I go now?  Tonight's Harry and B'Elanna's engagement."  
      Chakotay softened.  "That must be difficult for you."
      "Why?"
      "To have your two ex-lovers marrying each other."  Damn.  He'd
thought he'd hid it better than that.
      "They're my best friends.  I'm happy that they're happy." Maybe if
he said it enough, it would be true.  It was true - at least about
B'Elanna.  That was a mistake from the beginning.
      Chakotay smiled.  "Of course, Tom.  You look exactly like a man
whose best friends are getting married."
      "Commander, I have to change for the party.  May I go?"
      "Dismissed, Lieutenant."  Paris rushed down the corridor with all
the dignity he could muster.  He didn't notice the two dark eyes
following him.  He didn't know the plans running through the first
officer's mind.

      The party was in full swing when Paris arrived, suitably dressed
in the soft embroidered tunic and tights he'd picked up on some planet
someplace.   Kim and Torres were surrounded by a pile of gifts.  Paris
added his own - a specially designed "honeymoon" program he'd written
for the holodeck.  The happy couple were engrossed in each other,
completely oblivious to the commotion around them.  Paris did walk close
enough to hear their whispered conversation.  
      "So, if we use the coupler modification here..