Title: Stars at Noon
Disclaimer: If they were mine, I'd answer the burning question for all my sisterfriends…Chakotay: Boxers or Briefs?
Summary: A short study of our boy Tom. This one's for Jasmine, who asked for Tom flying. Feedback will earn you undying appreciation and my first born if he's particularly screamy.
Stars At Noon
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return----Leonardo Da Vinci
I fly, and fall in love again.
Climbing, rising, soaring, hurtling the proud vaults of space, the Delta Flyer lives under my hands. For us, the sky is no limit; the sky is home. Early on, I was drawn to the sea, but in this age young men find their fortunes in space. I turned to flight, determined to travel with the wind and stars. Why flying cast such a spell over young Tom Paris, I can't say. The answers lie somewhere in the maze of my birth and childhood, and on the lonesome, tangled path to Caldik Prime. My Dad used to swing me like an airplane, as fathers will--and he did swing me in the early years, before the disappointments came--and, even then, I cried when returned to solid ground.
There are planets far below, but I tuck that knowledge away. Pivoting, the Delta Flyer dances exultantly, arrogantly, on a dark wing. Earth, with her wind and light, is lifetimes removed. What more romantic sensation is there for an explorer, a distant son of those ancient dreamers who conjured up visions of flying horses and magic carpets? Wood, sea, desert--these lands are mapped, parceled out. This Delta Quadrant is the last frontier, the final gateway in an accomplished era when one can stand on a high peek, point to the sky and proclaim "Earth looks beautiful tonight!" Magellan called facing the unknown the most daring of all endeavors, and I am dancing through the heart of mankind's final unknown. Captain Janeway is the last, towering figure in the great chronicle of exploration. I'm a witness to her page; someday, when history distorts the truth of her life, I will rise to my feet and say, "This is how it was!"
No earthbound soul can comprehend the beauty of this place. In the black, I see shades of turquoise and cobalt, purple and hunter green. The stars are bleached white against the slabs of darkness, brighter than they were in that other life of mine. Everything is simply better here, where the air is unclaimed and the stars are out at noon. Space is like a sable curtain that if pulled back might reveal the very face of God. If the Delta Flyer and I go high enough, will we burst through the ceiling of life, into the burning bright?
I burn with interest and could stay in this invisible world forever, but for her. Turning, I almost see her, beautiful and heartfelt, perching on the low stairs where I proposed another voyage. B'Elanna doesn't have to exceed warp 10 to occupy all the points in my universe. She can fracture every clavicle I have, so long as she never breaks my heart.
I could die in this cockpit, but here I've truly lived. The original Delta Flyer was lost, but my memories migrated before she went and burst through that ceiling of life without me. The shuttles are an extension of the mother ship, that great steel lifeboat in a sea of uncertainty. I came to Voyager a brash boy, but the journey molded me like human clay, as adventures will. With great pain, many tears, and much love, I regained pride, strength, and loyalty, all things I used to know. I am flying east, toward Voyager. Wherever she is, there is my heart.
I float here, free from the chains of gravity. The spirit of adventure that burns in me is a legacy, an ancestor of the longing that sent men forth across the ocean centuries ago. Their vessels were the starships of the seafaring age, great lifeboats in another sea of uncertainty. Like those turbulent waters, the Delta Quadrant has no signposts announcing man has passed this way before, no arrows pointing to dangerous squalls and swirling eddies. I feel a kinship with those sailors of old, fellow dreamers who came to distant lands in sailing ships named Victory, Olympic, and Indefatigable.
God help the man who doesn't explore. Within this great journey, there are smaller victories, little quests. We're pilgrims on the road to Earth, finding treasures by the wayside. Doc sang arias to packed houses, gave music to a culture, and walked in freedom on Arakas Prime. He loves beautiful things the way I love flying, B'Elanna, and this last frontier. Seven, my Constance Goodheart, broke free of an insidious Collective of robber barons that grow fat on a harvest of souls. Like me, Neelix piled up his junk, left the old life, and never looked back. Chakotay, Tuvok--If a man's character is defined by his loyalty, courage, and constancy, then they are very, very good. And Captain Janeway? She will endure for all of time.
Once, I plotted my life by the number of hours spent in the air, dancing through starlit mansions at noon. Flying and descending, I fell in and out of love. Now, when Voyager appears from the oblivion, I am reclaiming my life among mortals, returning from my sojourn with the Gods. Voyager appears from the oblivion, and gold is smelt from the darkness, riches beyond a Ferengi's wildest dreams. B'Elanna will be there, beautiful and heartfelt in the dim light of the shuttle bay.
I return, and fall in love again.