No More Secrets
Part Three

Tom's POV

It's been six months now since Chakotay came to meet me in that small observation lounge in a virtually deserted area of Voyager. And five months since we left that ship, together. They've been the happiest five months of my life, so far.

You see, I was right about him. He *did* have the same kind of feelings for me that I had for him. And he was just as tired of concealing them as I was. We decided that night that we wouldn't hide *anything* any more. Not from each other, and not from the rest of the crew. There would be no more secrets.

We knew we were setting ourselves up for trouble. We knew what the consequences would be. But we didn't care.

We were still over thirty years away from reaching the Alpha Quadrant. We couldn't have hidden our feelings for that long. And why should we have had to live our lives without the love that we craved? Our love for each other.

Yes, Chakotay loves me. He told me that night. We talked and talked. And talked! We talked like we hadn't seen each other in years. Like we were best friends. Like lovers. We told each other our deepest secrets, and our hidden desires. We told each other everything. It was wonderful. I've never felt that relaxed with anyone else.

I truly believe now that we are soul-mates. I'd never given much thought to that term, or concept, before, but that's what Chakotay and I are. We were meant for each other.

We told the Captain about us the following morning. She was livid. After she'd recovered from her shock, that is. I don't think I've ever seen someone change colour so much in such a short time. She went through every shade from deathly white to a deep, angry red, in about ten seconds flat.

Chakotay changed colour a lot, too. I can't ever remember seeing him as angry as he was that morning. He'd tried to stay calm, and he'd managed for quite a while, then Janeway uttered the most ridiculous comment I've ever heard. She accused Chakotay of not being a 'real man'. Can you believe that? *Chakotay* not a real man! He's the most wonderful man I've ever known. And just what *is* a 'real man' supposed to be, anyway?

I think it was probably jealousy that prompted her to say it. I got the impression that she thought all she had to do was click her fingers and Chakotay would be hers. She couldn't handle the fact that he wasn't interested in her. That he chose me instead. That Chakotay loved me and not her.

Chakotay was incredible. Like I said, I've never seen him so angry, but he didn't shout. He didn't rant and rave. His anger was only visible in the colours of his face, and that quiet tone of voice he uses sometimes. I've been on the receiving end of that tone before, and it put the fear of God in me! I don't know how he does it, but he somehow manages to convey more menace in a few softly spoken words than anyone screaming abuse at you *ever* could.

That's what he did to Janeway. He just calmly stated our intentions to pursue a relationship whether she liked it or not. That we had no intention of remaining on board. That we would be leaving the first chance we got. And she sat and listened.

She listened as he told her that he loved me. That he wouldn't sit back and be dictated to any longer as to who he could, or couldn't spend the rest of his life with. How he'd chosen me, and I'd chosen him.

He told her he knew we would have to be formally charged. And that we didn't care. She'd set a precedent by allowing those two young officers a choice of the brig, or leaving. She would have to give us the same choice. And as we'd already made that choice, we weren't worried about the charges.

The only thing that *had* worried Chakotay, was how his old Maquis crew would react to his departure. It was a needless worry as it turned out. They understood his reasons. They never once accused him of being anything other than a wonderful Captain and First Officer, and a well-respected and honourable man. It meant the world to him. He had to really struggle to keep his tears at bay.

Then came a surprise. Greg Ayala came to see us. He said he had something to tell us, and a request to make. After hearing what he had to say, the request was easy to grant.

Four weeks later, Voyager took up orbit around a beautiful, and uninhabited M-class planet. This was to be our new home. Chakotay's and mine, and Ayala's and Gerron's. Yes, that's what Ayala had wanted to tell us. He and Geron were also tired of keeping their relationship secret.

None of us had wanted to be left in the middle of some unknown alien culture, and thankfully, Janeway had agreed that we could choose our own destination. We chose this beautiful world. It's idyllic. There are no large carnivores, and very few poisonous species - either plant or animal. We couldn't have chosen anywhere better. And Chakotay and I both agree that having Ayala and Geron here is a bonus. They're great company. We've accomplished so much together.

We've just finished constructing the first of two cabins. We were left with one large shelter, but none of us wanted to live in that indefinitely. We began working on the new place almost as soon as we arrived. It's been hard work, but well worth it.

Today, we drew straws to determine who would take up occupancy of the new cabin. Chakotay and I move in tomorrow. The day after, we'll start building again.

This is our home now.

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