Breaking the Glass
by pari106

pari106@hotmail.com
http://www.pari106.homestead.com/indes2.html

Code: J/P
Rating: G

Summary: A brief J/P PWP. AU in some respects (read it and you'll see).



Breaking the Glass
by pari106



As Captain Kathryn Janeway headed for Transporter Room One, she hoped she wasn't intercepted by any
crewmen on the way. Or, at least, any but one. The past week had been a grueling one, negotiating and
renegotiating trade regulations with the friendly yet litigious Mehd Coti, of whose planet they were
currently in orbit. They'd finally secured a month-long shore leave here – a much-needed shore leave, that
was well worth the week's beaurocratic chores – and now Janeway was ready to partake in the fruits of her
labors.

Kathryn sighed, shifting her duffel from one shoulder to the other. To think, there might have been a time
when the prospect of a good month off would have brought her restlessness, instead of relief. She would
have enjoyed Mehd Coti Prime, certainly, but no sooner than they'd pulled into orbit would she have
wanted to be pulling back again, heading for home.

With time, Kathryn had learned the hard way that home really is where the heart is.

And who the heart is with.

Then Kathryn sighed. 'Or who the heart wants to be with,' she mentally corrected her own thoughts.

Nine years in the Delta Quadrant had changed the crew's perspective on their journey. And nine long years
of no contact with Starfleet at all had changed Kathryn Janeway's perspective on a great many things. So
now, the only thing she was restless to do was to set foot on that planet below, and to set free all the tension
that had been building within her during the last few, tedious days.

When she'd settled her things into her guestroom, planet side, Kathryn wondered who else of her crew
might be wandering Mehd Coti at the same time as she.

Chakotay and Seven were no doubt strolling one of the planet's romantic beaches – a visual Kathryn
received without the slightest shred of her former discomfort, she was proud to acknowledge. The Doctor
had been spending the majority of his time looking for ways to help Tuvok, who was still on the ship,
meditating, tonight, though he had visited the planet a couple of times since they'd arrived. Janeway's
beloved Vulcan chief of security, and her oldest friend, had only recently admitted to having a rare Vulcan
disorder that was believed to be incurable in the absence of the afflicted's immediate family.

It was Lieutenant Kim's week to baby-sit his godchild, Kuvah Miral, Janeway knew. That gave Kuvah's
parents, Tom and B'Elanna, time to themselves. B'Elanna was no doubt touring the Mehd Coti's science
and technology centers. And Tom…

Kathryn gave herself a moment to think about Tom. He'd left for the planet two days ago, she knew, but
he hadn't commed her then or since. His silence disturbed her because it could only mean one thing – that
he was pining for B'Elanna. Kathryn had thought that the pilot was over their year-old divorce, but in the
early days of the separation, the main symptom of Tom's deep sorrow over the break-up had been long
periods of uncharacteristic quiet and solitude. Since he had been behaving much the same way this past
week, Kathryn could only assume that B'Elanna was once again the cause.

Kathryn locked up her room, tucking the door pass into the tunic of her civilian attire. She wondered out
onto the dark, quiet streets of the alien city, with thoughts of Paris still on her mind.

They'd become good friends, she and Tom. More so than even before the whole Monean debacle. At first,
it had only seemed natural, as Chakotay and Seven began spending more and more time together, and as
B'Elanna began spending more and more time with anyone but her husband, then ex-husband. At first,
Janeway had explained the surprisingly sudden development between herself and Paris as a sort of
hurt/comfort relationship. They were both trying to fill the voids left in each other's lives by either
Chakotay or B'Elanna. But as Kathryn got to know Tom even better, she began to wonder if Chakotay had
left a void in her life at all. Perhaps what she'd been missing all along…was Tom.

And she'd been hoping that perhaps Tom might feel the same way, though it was a fragile hope, she knew.
She'd always thought the greatest obstacles to her having a relationship with someone would have to be her
strong sense of duty and protocol. And with Tom there was also their age differences and differences in
rank. But she realized now that those were just petty excuses she'd used to protect herself. With Tom
those things would never have mattered unless she let them; they couldn't come between her and her true
feelings. The only thing that was standing in the way now, was how he felt.

And then, suddenly, the person standing in the way of her continuing down the street, was Tom.








"Commander!" she exclaimed, surprised and pleased at the same time. If she'd thought Tom had come
here to mope, she suddenly realized that she had been wrong. He didn't look like he was moping. He
looked fabulous – dressed in shades of blue, instead of those awful earth tones B'Elanna had favored on
him. And his smile was gorgeous.

Once again, Kathryn was simultaneously awash with feelings of both self-conscious, but nonetheless
helpless, desire. How a woman of her age and experience managed to fall head-over-heels in love with
someone so young and beautiful she would never know.

But she didn't linger on the thought long enough to guess. Aware that she was probably standing there,
staring, Kathryn asked, "What are you doing here?" At the same time he was saying, "I'll never get used to
being called that."

She hadn't even noticed that he'd been standing there, staring, as well.

Kathryn laughed as Tom fell in beside her and they continued walking. She'd taken a room in the market
district, and as they walked they passed the many shops lining the neighborhood, their windows filled with
fine Mehd Coti artwork, jewelry, clothing, and craftswork.

"I would think you'd be proud of your promotion, Tom," she said. He'd been promoted to Lieutenant
Commander shortly after Tuvok had taken a leave of duty to work with the Doctor on his condition.

"It's not that I'm not happy with the promotion, Kathryn," he said, calling her by her first name, as he had
become wont to do. "Just the reason for it," he finished, soberly.

Kathryn nodded, sober as well. "Me neither," she said, then smiled, trying not to let the seriousness of their
topic of discussion creep into their evening. Tuvok had made her promise not to let her overwhelming
concern and sorrow over him to taint her every moment. "Not that you aren't a fine second officer," she
told Tom.

"Well, thank you, Captain," he said, smiling back with one of his trademark, 70-watt smiles. Then, finally
getting back to her question, he told her "I was just out taking a little stroll and saw you doing the same.
Thought I'd join you." He offered an arm and, smiling, though with one brow raised at the exaggerated
gesture, Kathryn accepted it.

"Thank you."

And they continued walking.







As they walked, Tom and Kathryn talked about a great many things. They caught up on what they'd
missed in the past week. Tom talked about what cute new things 2-year-old Kuvah had done in the past
seven days, and Kathryn complained about the fastidiousness of the Mehd Coti legal system. They made
small talk, as they often did, though their brand of small talk was always laced with the most subtle hints of
innuendo.

Only tonight it didn't seem so subtle.

Whether it was the night air, the exotic locale, the joy of being in Kathryn's company after a week of her
absence, or just the excitement of knowing what he knew, Tom couldn't tell. But there was
something…different about tonight. Something exciting; something charged.

Kathryn didn't look any different, though. She was to him as she always had been.

'Well, perhaps not always,' he thought.

Looking at her now, he couldn't imagine how he hadn't always been fascinated with the way the color of
her hair shifted from red to gold, and back again, in the streetlight. Couldn't fathom why he hadn't always
seen her to be the beautiful woman that she was.

Certainly, he'd always known she was beautiful. But beautiful in that cold, distant, neutral way all
unattainable women were.

But there was nothing cold about Kathryn Janeway, Tom now knew. Nothing distant, and certainly nothing
neutral.

Though the unattainable part remained yet to be seen.

How a man of his ignominiable reputation and experience allowed himself to fall head-over-heels with
someone so lovely and so noble he would never know.

"So…what's the significance of this?" he suddenly asked, forcing himself not to linger on his thoughts.

"Excuse me?" Janeway asked, as if startled out of her own reverie.

Tom smiled, motioning at the storefronts around them with his arm. "You seem to like this district. I just
wondered why."

Janeway stopped and raised a brow. "Now how did you guess that I liked this particular district."

Tom shrugged. "Well, your room is here…" Then he smiled again, more mischievously this time. "Okay,
Captain, you got me. I know you came here."

Janeway looked at him in surprise.

"After first contact, before going to the trade negotiations. I knew you took a detour just to see the
market," he clarified.

Janeway thought about that a moment, remembering the brief trip. Now how…

Then something occurred to her.

"I thought I felt a pair of eyes following me that day," she said, testing. And the quick look of surprise and
guilt that flashed across Tom's face gave her her answer. She laughed.

"Were you spying on me, Lieutenant?" she asked, using the diminutive of his rank for his benefit.

Tom kind of flustered. "Well, Captain, I…I wouldn't call it spying, exactly. I just happened to notice…"

"I noticed you noticing," she said, still smiling.

Finally, Tom smiled, too.

"I'm sorry, Kathryn. I couldn't help it. I knew you wouldn't be available for the entire week, so I wanted
to see you. But then, when I saw you, you looked so…"

'Beautiful,' he thought. She'd looked breathtakingly beautiful. She'd been in her uniform then, not the
soft, attractive tunic she was wearing now, but she'd still been beautiful. So charming, in fact, that he
couldn't move to approach her. She'd been standing…on this exact corner, he realized. With the sun
shining down on her, staring at something in a store window.

Now it was the moon and the streetlights that illuminated her soft hair and lovely skin. And she wasn't
staring at a store window – she was staring at him. And Tom was so overcome, once again, by her beauty
that he couldn't complete his sentence.

"So what?" Kathryn finally asked, oblivious to Tom's thoughts.

She fidgeted under his gaze, toying with the shoulder of her tunic and feigning interest as she glanced up at
alien stars. Why was he staring at her like that? Was that…

Kathryn made a little sound in her throat, trying not to pursue that line of wishful thinking. She laughed.

"So much like a kid in a candy store, I suppose," she said then. She raised that eyebrow again, and Tom
wondered if she realized how often she did that. "Tell me, Lieutenant, is it that hard to imagine your
captain being just as taken with the finer indulgences of life as any other woman?"

She was still smiling, but what Tom did next made the nonchalant expression falter, just slightly.

"Not at all," he told her, reaching up to brush his fingers across the silk of the tunic she'd been pretending
to straighten. He pretended to help her. "You know I know you better than that," he said.

And Kathryn swallowed. His eyes were staring into her own, and they were so lovely, those eyes of his.
They were the bluest she'd ever seen. The hand that had touched her shoulder now caressed her cheek,
singing her every nerve ending with his fingertips. His face was mere inches from hers, his body
positioned so close to her own. And as the street light and the moon above them threw shadows over one
half of his handsome face, while illuminating the other…as she stared up at his nearly perfect features, that
blonde hair and those eyes…as she listened to the sound of the night wind, and of his breathing, and her
own…Kathryn felt more breathtaken than she had ever felt before. More alive; more aware. It was a
moment of perfection, and of complete bliss. And of a gut-wrenching desire so intense it cut through her
entire being like electricity…

And for some reason that moment, for all its unspoken emotion and intensity, scared Kathryn Janeway like
nothing else ever had before.

She stepped away.

And felt as though she'd just had the very breath stolen out of her lungs for having deprived herself of his
nearness, his touch.

Desperately, she searched for a change of subject. And found it.

As her eyes fell on something over Tom's shoulder, through a store window, Janeway calmed, and finally
smiled once again.

"There it is," she said quietly.

And Tom, equally desperate to hide how shaken the shattered moment had left him, turned to look.

"What?" he asked.

"My ring."





"What?" Tom asked again, as though he'd been shocked.

"My ring," she repeated, laughing. She walked over to the window she'd been looking through – the
display to an expensive looking jewelry shop. She motioned at the lone ring being showcased there. There
had been two the last time she'd been by here. "Or, at least, that's what I'd like to call it. Wishful
thinking, you know," she told him, a bit sheepishly.

Tom relaxed a bit and joined her. Then he allowed himself to look at the ring with which she was so taken.

It was glorious. An array of sparkling gems sat nestled in a setting of some white-gold-colored mettle that
had been intricately woven in a startling design. It was very exotic looking, and the gems were of some
color Tom couldn't identify.

No, they were of every color – that was it. Like iridescent diamonds. They were every color at once.
Lovely.

Tom supposed some would think it an odd choice for their captain. If you'd have asked him, a decade ago,
to pick out a fitting piece of jewelry for Kathryn Janeway, he probably would have chosen something more
simple, less grand. But didn't she deserve grand? And there was something oddly simple about the cut of
the stones, despite the complicated design of their setting.

The ring fit Kathryn Janeway to a tee.

At least, Tom had thought so.

"Of course, it isn't really mine," Kathryn was saying. And suddenly she got this far away look in her eyes
that had only been there so rarely. "But I want it so badly," she continued. Only she knew that it wasn't
the ring she was talking about.

But Tom didn't have to know. Because he wasn't thinking about the ring either.

"I know the feeling," he whispered, causing Kathryn to look up at him, suddenly.

And Janeway knew that this moment was just a continuation of their earlier one. She and Tom had passed
a turning point, somehow, and there was no going back. And this odd conversation over jewelry somehow
fit into all of that. Still, she couldn't just make herself jump in over the edge on this one. There was too
much at stake. She had to feel her way there, first, to see if they were going in the right direction.

She turned back to the window.

And for a moment, Tom thought that he had misstepped. Though he felt the disappointment of that like a
physical blow, he didn't want to upset Kathryn, so he tried to cover up and backtrack.

"So, why do you like this ring so much?" he asked.

But at the exact same time, Kathryn was quickly asking, "Why do you?"

Everything became silent.

Tom looked at Kathryn, and she looked back at him. Suddenly it didn't seem like he'd misstepped at all.
Tom felt his heartbeat accelerate in his throat.

"Why do I like the ring?" he repeated, tentatively.

Kathryn nodded, nervous. Waiting.

Inside, Tom smiled, and that heartbeat accelerated even faster, but outside he tried to remain calm. He
turned to the display, pretending to gaze in at the ring as though assessing it. He reached up and brushed
his fingertips over the glass, in an imitation of how he'd touched Kathryn's face only moments before. But
he wasn't reaching out for the ring. His fingers brushed right over Kathryn's reflection in the windowpane.

"Because it's the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen," he said quietly. Sincerely.

Kathryn swallowed. Her eyes went to Tom's hand, watching as his fingers caressed her reflection on the
glass. She could almost feel it, as though he were caressing her. Her eyes remained there even when Tom
let his hand fall away.

"The thing about this ring," she started slowly, "is that it has two facets. Two sides."

She looked at him then, hoping to see understanding in his eyes, hoping he grasped her meaning. Then she
looked away, unable to entertain, just yet, her hopes for what else she might see there in his eyes.

"It looks like a completely different ring in a different light," she explained. Her words were low and full
of meaning. "But it's still the same ring. You can't just have the one side of it, without the other. You
have to appreciate them both. Both sides."

Like her, she knew. You couldn't just have the one side of Kathryn Janeway – the Kathryn Janeway who
lay in her bed at night, dreaming of Tom and their unborn children; the Kathryn Janeway who craved
coffee and liked marketing districts and who couldn't cook worth a damn – without appreciating the other
side, the side that was Captain Kathryn Janeway. The side that captained a starship; who had spent half her
life wanting to captain a starship, and who might very well die pursuing that dream. You couldn't just have
the one side of her, without the other. You would have to appreciate them both. Both sides.

"Sides which are both just as beautiful," Tom said, startling her. Making her forget for a moment what
they were talking about. What were they talking about?

Kathryn's heart began to beat faster, as well.

"I don't know, Lieutenant," she was saying, keeping her voice carefully neutral. When had Tom suddenly
stepped so close to her? "One could easily become enamored with one…only to grow tired of the other,"
she told him.

And Tom just looked at her. For a long, full moment he just looked, with a dozen different emotions
covering his face. And then he smiled, softly. With a look of challenge and of triumph and of…love?
shining in his eyes.

"Try me," he whispered.

It was enough to take Kathryn's breath away. Again.

But Tom wasn't finished. He'd seen what had been in her eyes when she'd looked at that ring…when
she'd looked at him. And what he'd seen had emboldened him to do now what he'd been aching to do now
for so long.

He stepped closer, looking at the ring, pretending to observe it in that light. Then he stepped closer still, as
if seeing it in another light altogether.

"Yep," he whispered now, his words a breath against the top of Kathryn's head. He was so close. He
leaned right in next to her ear. "Still just as beautiful," he said.

And then he kissed the side of her neck.

"Tom…" Kathryn breathed. Her eyes closed and her hands clenched on the windowsill behind her. So
much feeling, so much intensity in such a little kiss.

And then Tom took her face in his hands, and Kathryn opened her eyes again, looking up at him.

"You should have it," he told her, strongly.

And something in the way he said it brought Kathryn back into the conversation.

"It's expensive," she insisted, weakly.

"I've been saving up," he told her.

The words were a very quietly spoken, but nonetheless impactive declaration.

"Tom…"

"Kathryn."

He smiled. And this smile wasn't at all nervous or anxious or strained. It just was. It was as glorious as
the one he'd given her when he first met her outside her room; as glorious as she'd ever seen before.
Confident and mischievous and meaningful.

And it made Kathryn smile, too, despite the nervous butterflies still flying about her stomach.

"I don't think we're talking about the ring any longer," she said breathily, searching his eyes for the answer
behind that smile.

She got it. In a sweet yet searing look, she had her answer. "What ring?" Tom asked, innocently.

"Oh, Tom…"

It was all Kathryn had ever wanted to hear, and she wanted to shout because of it. But when she brought
her hands up and placed them over Tom's chest, he mistook her actions and captured her wrists in his
hands, pulling her to him.

"No! No, Kathryn, just wait. Just listen."

Fearing that she was going to step away again, that she was going to try and deny herself again, to deny
them, Tom held her tight, gazing searchingly, pleadingly into her eyes.

"Tom…"

She tried to reassure him otherwise, but Tom didn't listen.

"No, Kathryn. Wait. Let me talk to you about this, please."

So she stayed quiet.

"I meant what I said…" he was saying, as he gazed at her. Looking into her eyes, at her lips, taking in
every inch of her face, in case she *was* going to push him away and this was the last chance he'd get to
hold her so close. "I've been saving up for so long. Saving up all of this love and this need…looking for
someone who can accept it. Who can accept me. Not just my reputation or the family name. Just me."

He was the one to step back, then, needing space to organize his thoughts. To say what he needed to say.
And Janeway let him, somewhat reluctantly. She wanted so much to hold him. Especially as she heard his
words and all the longing and despair behind them.

"I feel like my whole life," he said, "I…I've been looking through store windows." Tom happened across
the analogy and took to it, gesturing at the shop behind them. "Yes, looking through store windows. And
watching all the things I couldn't have. Sounds pretty crazy for a wealthy admiral's son, huh? But I did.
I'd watch. Other families; other people's parents. I'd watch other people get the careers they wanted,
instead of being forced into some life they really couldn't live."

Tom was looking off at a distance, getting caught up in his thoughts.

"It didn't always feel like I was just watching, though. I wasn't always on the outside. Like with Odile.
Or Harry, or Kuvah. And other times..." Tom sighed, looking back at Kathryn. "Sometimes I could almost
pretend that I'd made something mine, even though I hadn't. Like with B'Elanna. But that's all it was –
just pretense. I wanted her so bad…" Kathryn felt a sharp pang at that "…that I convinced myself I could
reach her. And I don't know…"

Tom took Kathryn's face in his hands again. "No, I do know. I know that most of our relationship wasn't
really about wanting her. It wasn't really about reaching her. It was about seeing if I could."

Kathryn looked up at him again. Understanding and smiling and feeling as though a great weight had lifted
from her heart where once concerns about B'Elanna had rested.

"Either way," Tom continued, "she wasn't mine to reach. I could never reach past the glass." Tom told
Kathryn, reverting to their analogy with the store window, and Kathryn felt tears prick at the corner of her
eyes as she realized how fitting it was.

How much like window-shopping had Tom's whole life been? Watching classmates receive the pride and
affection from their parents that had been denied him? Watching people like Cavit and Voyager's former
doctor succeed in Starfleet, when he'd been abandoned, decommissioned? Watching women like B'Elanna
– so unreachable, unattainable. Safe in their little glass boxes. Wanting to love them and be loved by them
in return. Had she been like that? Had she made protocol, their ages, their ranks, into little glass boxes of
her own?

Tom answered her unspoken question. "But there's no glass around you, captain, is there?" he said,
forming his answer in the guise of a question. "Not with me," he continued. "I used to think that there
was. Around you maybe more than anyone. But now I think that maybe I was wrong."

He looked to her now, waiting for the same spoken confirmation of emotion that he'd just given her.

"Was I?" he asked.

He had his own question to ask her and she answered it.

"No," she said. "There's no glass keeping me from you, Tom. Not you." She reached up and put her own
hands on either side of his face. "Never you," she whispered.

Tom's eyes fluttered closed for just a moment. "Oh, Kathryn…"

But Kathryn didn't feel like they could just end it there. A lifetime of obstacles couldn't just be resolved,
just like that, could they?

"But I feel like there should be," she continued, hurrying to say the rest before Tom could misunderstand
and be hurt by the misunderstanding. "I don't know when you broke the glass and took me off the shelf,"
she told him. "Or how, really. All I know is that one day I boarded a shuttle to New Zealand. And that
that decision changed my entire life. I've never met anyone, before or after that moment, who could make
such easy work of all my well-crafted defenses. But when I met you…"

Kathryn looked at him, her eyes filling up with tears and her earlier thoughts of how wonderful he was.
How young and how beautiful and how alive… Her words from earlier came back to her, too. 'It's
expensive,' she'd said. She'd been talking about the ring, and herself. And Tom. He was expensive, too.
Loving someone like him could cost her everything. Loving someone like him could cost Voyager its
captain. Because she knew that if something happened to him, love of him, grief for his loss, would cost
her more than she had to give.

The non-fraternization protocols had been devised for just that reason.

And they were what was holding her back now. Even now, after she'd realized that they weren't really an
obstacle between her and Tom, not unless she let them be, Kathryn felt compelled to mention them. To
voice her fears about violating them. If for no other reason than to hear Tom assure her that it was okay to
forget them and to do what she'd been wanting to do now for what seemed like forever.

"…and that shouldn't be possible," she said, awkwardly finishing off her sentence.

"Why not?" Tom demanded.

"Because I'm the captain!" she exclaimed, wanting him to understand. "I'm supposed to have that plate of
glass closing me off from everyone else. You know, untouchable, unattainable, infallible? Larger than
life?"

Her words were heart-felt, but at the last they made Tom smile, and though not exactly understanding why,
Kathryn smiled, too.

Tom laughed. Out of nowhere he just suddenly laughed.

And he sounded so happy and so carefree that Kathryn just had to laugh, too, though she felt somewhat
disconcerted, being laughed at.

"Now what is it?" she asked, not being able to help sounding a little miffed.

Tom let his giggles subside, pulling Kathryn into an embrace she finally allowed.

"Oh, Kathryn, it's not that. It's just…"

He sighed, sobering. Looking at her seriously.

"Captain, you *are* larger than life. Just ask anyone who's ever met you. You're the great Kathryn
Janeway! You're…more."

Kathryn raised that brow again, still laughing. This was what she needed. These were the words she
needed to hear. This was the affirmation to set aside all fears and concerns; all would-be obstacles.

"More?" she asked.

"More," he replied, not minding in the least if he was being vague. "More of everything than anyone.
More than anything, more than anyone. Just…more. You *are* larger than life, Kathryn, but…" He
looked her in the eyes. "…you're also alive. One doesn't necessarily negate the other."

"Oh, Tom…" Kathryn smiled at her beloved. "It doesn't, does it?"

Tom smiled back. "Not by my rules."

And this time Kathryn was the first to laugh. As Tom pulled her deeper into their embrace, as gentle
affection threatened to ignite into something much more sultry, she laughed.

"But then, you never liked playing by the rules, did you, Mr. Paris?"

Tom was grinning and running his fingers through her hair. "I can think of one I could live with," he said,
cutting through their laughter. "At least until death do we part," he finished.

And stilled Kathryn right where she stood.

"Wh…what?"

Before, Tom had made her breathless. Now she willed her lungs to still, not daring to breathe.

"Tom…are…Are you…"

Tom didn't answer. Instead…he got down on one knee. Kathryn gasped.

And then he pulled a ring out of his pocket. *The* ring.

"Tom! How…" She glanced over at the window behind them, and Tom had to laugh.

"Don't worry, Kathryn. I didn't pocket it while you weren't looking. I bought it," he gave her a
meaningful look. "A week ago."

"Oh, Tom…"

One little tear began to slip down her cheek, and Kathryn had to laugh at herself, despite the intensity of the
moment. She'd always despised 'weepy females.'

"I noticed you noticing," he said, stealing her earlier words. "I only hoped that you'd accept it."

He slipped the ring on her ring finger, and Kathryn was overcome by so many things. Overcome by her
love for him, by the sight of the beautiful ring being placed on her finger, and by the even more beautiful
commitment the ring represented. A commitment being offered by the love of her life.

And through it all, Kathryn caught his words and knew their full meaning, thinking back to what he'd said
before.

"That I'd accept it…" she repeated. "That I'd accept you? Oh, Tom, all I want is you…I love you."

"Kathryn…"

Tom began to rise, just as Kathryn lowered herself to him, and they ended up somewhere in the middle,
kneeling before each other, on a dark, romantic sidewalk in a charming city on an alien planet.

"You don't have to watch anymore, Tom," she continued. "I was always yours. I always will be."

Tom held her and kissed her, and his next words were more precious than the rare gems Kathryn now wore
on her hand. With Tom, Kathryn knew 'I love you's were difficult; impossible if he didn't mean it. And
he put his whole heart into it when he did.

"I love you, Kathryn Janeway," he said.

And so Kathryn put all of her heart into her declaration, as well.

"I love you, Tom Paris," she replied.

And the last words they spoke, before Tom and Kathryn quickly retreated to her room, were:

"Is that an 'I do', Captain?"

"That's an 'I do', Lieutenant."

One week later, the couple was married, planet-side.

Inside Kathryn's ring, Tom had had engraved: "From Tom, to my beloved Kathryn. For accepting."

Inside Tom's ring, Kathryn had had engraved: "From Kathryn, to my beloved Tom. For breaking the
glass."



The End.