|A story based on the premise that intolerance towards same-sex relationships exists within Starfleet.
No More Secrets
I'm standing here in the dark, in the smallest observation lounge, waiting for someone to come and answer my questions.
I know I shouldn't be doing this. I know it's madness; that I might lose everything that I've worked so hard for over the years, but I have to know. I have to find out. I can't continue like this any longer.
I know all about Starfleet's official, and undisguised, hostility towards same-sex relationships. I've seen how they've treated some of their finest officers when they were discovered to be in these so-called 'abhorrent' partnerships. How decent men and women have been subjected to Starfleet's archaic and ridiculous rules, and how they've been court-martialled, or otherwise unceremoniously forced to leave the lives that they'd made for themselves. And all because some so-called 'moral' elite decided what was, or wasn't, acceptable human behaviour for Starfleet personnel.
Actually, I shouldn't say 'human'. For the last ten years the ruling has applied to members of every species who have signed up to serve the Federation. Regardless of their 'normal' sexual behaviour, all recruits have to agree to liaisons with members of the opposite sex only. It's part of every recruit's standard contract. Legal and binding.
Why should we be dictated to, in our private lives, by a self-righteous panel of anachronistic busybodies? I hate them all! But even more, I hate the way the rules are so rigidly enforced. Even here, on a ship so far from home, in the heart of the Delta Quadrant, we are not immune to the constraints of Starfleet.
A few months ago, two junior crew members were reported for holding hands in public. They were given the option of spending six months in the brig, or leaving the ship. They chose to leave. Their crime? - they were both men. No thought was given to the fact that they were both damn fine officers with exemplary records, or that their expertise would be sorely missed. No, all that mattered was their 'deviant' and 'unacceptable' behaviour!
It was at this time that I began to seriously wonder about Chakotay. I know he wasn't happy with the way the two men were treated, and I could tell that he didn't agree with their punishment, either. The Commander was expected to sit in judgement with Janeway and Tuvok, but he refused on the grounds that he was generally regarded as the ship's counsellor. He argued that some crew members came to him regularly, and that he couldn't then be expected to judge actions that may have already been told to him in confidence. He stated that his role in listening to others' problems was too important to the welfare of the ship to risk. His reasoning for not being involved with the case was sound, but I really think there might be more behind his adamant insistence not to be included on the panel. I hope so.
That's what I want to find out. I want to know what his real opinions are. How he really feels about this stupid Starfleet regulation that says we can't love someone if they're not of the opposite sex. I know, when we were first lost out here, he signed the contract agreeing to abide by Starfleet rules, as I did too; we had no choice. We had to work together if we wanted to survive and maybe reach home one day. Voyager is a Starfleet vessel, and Janeway is a stickler for regulation. She made all the Maquis sign the contract, and she enforces every word of it without exception. So why do I want to know what Chakotay thinks? And why do I think that he might confide in me anyway?
Well, for one thing, he's a good man, and his opinion carries a lot of weight with almost everyone. Including me. I know we didn't see eye to eye at the beginning, but that was mostly my fault. I used to wind him up by acting arrogant; it was the only way I could keep my real feelings hidden.
Yes, I have feelings for him. Feelings that Starfleet regulations say I shouldn't have. And I suspect that he might have similar feelings for me. I've noticed the way he's looked at me sometimes, when he thought I wasn't watching. I've seen the mixture of desire and frustration in his dark eyes. He's probably seen the same thing in mine recently. It's getting harder to control.
That's why I believe, if I can talk to him privately, he might confide in me. I trust him, and I know he trusts me. If our feelings are mutual, though, do we dare risk our positions on this ship? I would, without a doubt. But would he?
I'm probably jumping the gun a bit with that line of thought, but I can't help it. I want him. I've spent too many years denying my real self. I've chased after various women to hide my true nature, and I don't want to do it any more. I'm sick of living a lie brought about by the threat of reprisals. I want to be me! I want to be the real Tom Paris. The Tom Paris who's in love with Chakotay.
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