No More Secrets
Part Two

Chakotay's POV

It's quiet as I walk down the dimly lit corridor; this part of the ship isn't frequented by many of the crew. I had a message from Tom Paris, asking me to meet him in the small observation lounge down here. I think I might know what he wants.

Ever since those two crewmen were left behind on Delkarvik Prime, I've seen a change come over Tom. He's been restless. And although he's never actually broken the rules these last few months, he doesn't appear to have much respect left for them. I can't say I blame him.

I mean, of all the ridiculous reasons to leave two good men behind! All they did was express their feelings for each other by holding hands. Six months in the brig, or leave the ship. I think they chose correctly. At least now they can live out their lives the way they wanted to - together, with no more fear of being reported by overzealous and petty crew mates.

Janeway wanted me to sit in judgement of them with her and Tuvok. There was no way I could have done that. I expressed my concern that a place on the panel would conflict with my role of 'counsellor', that I didn't want to jeopardise the crew's trust in me. I doubt, if I hadn't been excused from the post, that many people would have confided in me afterwards. Despite the fact that this was a real concern, it wasn't my only reason for refusing to judge the two men. You see, it would have been hypocritical of me to do so.

I know I signed the Starfleet contract - twice actually, but I did so out of necessity. The first time I didn't really care what I was signing, I just wanted to follow my childhood dream of a career in Starfleet. I didn't have any sexual experience then, so the rules regarding what we were, or were not allowed to do never worried me.

It wasn't until I'd left and joined the Maquis, that I realised how restrictive and utterly shameful Starfleet regulations were. No-one should have the right to say who we can or cannot love. No-one. It should be the choice of each individual to follow their heart wherever it leads. Why should I be forced to pursue women when it's contrary to my desires? I found out in the Maquis what my preferences are. I prefer men. That's what I think Tom wants to talk to me about.

I think I've been slipping lately. I've inadvertently allowed my feelings for him to show. I've tried so hard over the years to hide it, but it's too difficult now. And I've reached the point where I don't want to hide anything any more. I believe Tom might want to quit the pretence as well. I hope so.

I've known all along that he was attracted to me. All that arrogance he showed was just to hide his true feelings. I never let him know that I'd figured it out though. That was how I dealt with my feelings for him; I let him think he was winding me up, that I was angry with him - nothing else. In truth, I needed the conflict. It diverted everyone's attention away from my innermost secret. They have never suspected that I'm in love with Tom Paris. Neither has he, until now.

I *do* think he knows now. Or at least he suspects as much. It's a relief really; I've wanted to speak with him on many occasions. I know though, that he wouldn't have been willing to discuss this before. I think he's ready now. Why else would he have invited me to this clandestine rendezvous?

I love Tom, and I hope he loves me, but can anything ever come of it? I don't want to live this secret life any longer. I'm sick and tired of being on my own because of crazy regulations. Yes, I could have found companionship with one of the women, but it wouldn't have been fair to either of us. And like I said before, why should I when it isn't what I really want? What I really want is Tom.

I would be willing to give up my position on this ship for him. Is he willing yet to go that far for me? I don't know. I hope to find out shortly though. I can see the door to the lounge ahead, and I suddenly feel very nervous. I can hear my heart beat thundering in my ears, and my palms are sweaty as I walk forward.

"Please, Great Spirits, give me your support and guidance. I need your help at this important moment in my life. Hear my pleas and watch over me. Please. Help me to speak from my heart."

The prayer helps to calm me as the door slides open, and I see Tom standing in front of the viewport. He turns around and smiles at me, and in that instant I know that we will be together.

We won't be able to stay on Voyager, and we won't see the Alpha Quadrant again, but it doesn't matter, because home is where the heart is. And as I look at Tom, I know for sure that our hearts are destined to be together. Eternally.

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