Woah, this is *it* now. Mild slash warning for this one (I hate that. Having to ruin the ending). PG-13, nothing too bad. Oui. ca c'est.

Oh, Joey, Tay's coming along just fine. I think I'm about ready to post to breaders, but I'm not sure yet- may be a little too cheesy to post straight away.

***

"I'm sorry, Tom."

"It's okay."

"But I should be there with you."

"Kotay." Tom flipped onto his stomach on the bed, almost crushing the long forgotten fuzzy bunny on the way, "What are you going to do? Fly up to Voyager sans shuttle?"

Chakotay smiled, "If I have to." Tom watched Chakotay turn around and talk to someone off-screen. He returned and said to Tom, "I have to go now, I'm wanted for a tour of the grounds." He said in a tone that Tom recognised as carefully concealed boredom.

Tom grinned, "Sounds like fun."

Chakotay returned Tom's sympathetic smile with a laughing one, "You go instead of me then." Chakotay looked back to the screen, "You know where you can contact me if you need to talk about anything don't you?"

"Kotay, I'm not a little kid anymore, I'll be okay. There's not anything real bad that's going to happen is there?"

Chakotay sighed and thought, "Nothing bad, I hope anyway. It'll be strange though, Tom." He took a deep breath, "I'll be home tomorrow morning."

"Okay." Tom laughed softly, "Strange, huh? That makes a change from depressing. I'll see you tomorrow, Kotay."

"See you. Take care, Tom."

"Will do." Tom ended the transmission and closed his communicator. He rolled off the bed and headed to the lounge, looking around for something to do. Hmm, it did look strange without Chakotay being there. "Computer? Check availability of holodecks."

"Next available slot is at 1100 tomorrow."

Tom sighed, he really wanted to get some fly time in that night. Oh well, the next morning would do just as well, "Book it under my name." He chewed his lip and hopped from one foot to the other, thinking. He touched his Comm. badge, "Paris to Kim."

"Kim here. How's things, Tom?"

"I'm fine. Haz, you doing anything tonight?"

"No, I'm free. Why?"

"Want to meet up in Sandrine's later?"

"Sure. See you at 1800?"

"Yeah, I'll see you then."

Tom checked the clock. He had an hour to kill. Dinner in the Mess Hall. He could catch up with Neelix and, considering the state of his rations, he'd probably *have* to grab something to eat there anyway. Tom walked out of his quarters and headed towards the Mess.

"Hey Tom!"

Tom turned around to see Naomi catching up with him. Inwardly he cringed, he was not in the mood for talking about kid stuff. It had been fine when he was that age, but he had long since outgrown Naomi's company. Tom put on his civil face and hoped that the girl was heading somewhere, anywhere, other than the Mess Hall. "Hi, Naomi. What are you up to?"

"I'm heading home. I'm meeting Mom there." She glanced up at Tom, "Jeez, Tom, you're growing even faster than I am."

Raising an eyebrow, Tom replied, "Well, yeah, Naomi, that's the whole deal with this me thing, remember?"

"Yeah, but you're growing even faster than I would have thought. It was only a few weeks ago when you were really little." She shrugged and then asked, curiously, "Where's Commander Chakotay gone?"

"He's gone on an away mission, he should be back tomorrow. Do you need him for something?"

"No, just wondering."

Tom reached the Mess Hall door and turned to Naomi, "This is my stop, Naomi. I'll catch you later."

"Bye!"

Tom watched Naomi skip off down the corridor, shook his head and entered the Mess Hall. He immediately saw Neelix fiddling around the kitchen area and smiled at the Talaxian, "Hey, Neelix, how's it going?"

"Oh, hello, Tom." Neelix beamed at the blonde, "It's going just fine, thank you. How are you?

Tom frowned, "I'm good."

"You're just in time, I've made a chocolate cake."

Tom smiled but raised a suspicious eyebrow, "No leola root?"

"No. I learnt that you didn't like that a long time ago. Just regular chocolate cake I pulled from the ship's recipe database, you do still like chocolate don't you?"

Tom smiled at the Talaxian, "Love the stuff. Thanks, Neelix." He took the chocolate cake and looked around for someone to sit with. Kathryn waved to him and he took a seat next to her, "Hi Kathy."

She smiled, "Hi Tom. How are you?"

"I'm fine." He paused and looked at Kathryn, "Do you have any idea why everyone seems to be asking me how I am?"

Kathryn looked up, met Tom's eyes and eventually said, "No, no idea."

Tom raised an eyebrow, "You took too long in answering. Come on, why?"

Kathryn sighed, "Well, Chakotay's gone away for the night and we all know it's a Friday. I know *I'm* worried about you, Tom, are you going to be okay tonight?"

Tom scooped up his cake, "Kotay's assured me that nothing bad is going to happen. I should be okay."

"What are you going to do?" Kathryn sipped at her coffee."

"Well, I'm gonna finish this, then I'm heading over to Sandrine's to play with Haz. Then I might turn in early and just see what happens." Tom smiled, "You can tell Kotay you've done your duty and I'm fine."

"What do you mean?"

"Please, it's so obvious Kotay told you to check up on me." He shook his head, "Where did you and he learn to lie? You really do suck at it."

Kathryn raised an eyebrow and smiled, "You wait until you're officially part of my crew, Tom Paris; you'll be scrubbing plasma conduits until you take that back."

Tom laughed, "You know I can't wait to start flying for real. Shuttles and Sims are boring when I think that I could be flying *Voyager* permanently. I also can't wait to get back to the normal me, whatever that was. It's definitely very strange having people know things about me that I don't have a clue about."

"I bet it is." Kathryn smiled at the man, "You know, Tom, I think this is certainly doing you at least *some* good."

"In what way?"

Kathryn chose her words carefully, not wanting to reveal too much of Tom's life, "You're a lot happier now than you were before... and a lot less bitter."

"I was bitter?" Tom asked, frowning.

"Sort of."

Tom shovelled up the last of his cake, licking the crumbs from around his mouth, deep in thought. "Do you think I'll go back to whoever I was before? I mean, the old me doesn't sound like much fun to be."

"I think you'll keep the best qualities of both." She smiled at him and then looked down at his empty plate, "Where'd you get that cake?"

Tom smiled mischievously, "A Captain should stick to coffee and leave the cake- did I mention it was double chocolate fudge cake?- to the abnormal pilot who's living a second life."

***

Tom pulled on his T-shirt and headed over to the replicator, "Tomato soup, hot, plain." He took the bowl that materialised, walked into the bedroom and clambered into his bed. Tom scooped up his soup and blew on it, eyeing the vid screen on the wall in front of him with an idea in mind. He looked around, no-one there to see him, "Computer access program Paris five alpha and play on vid screen in my quarters." He grinned to himself as chattering animated characters appeared on the screen.

A few hours later Tom smiled to himself under the covers and frowned gleefully. Chakotay had been right; it was *incredibly* strange. But it was also very funny. Stoic, calm, disciplined *Chakotay* a Maquis ringleader? He giggled to himself yet again. He couldn't imagine Chakotay as a rebel, but it was all there in his memories. Chakotay had met him in Marseilles, asked him to pilot his Maquis ship and he'd agreed.

Tom rolled over and sprawled across the mattress, thinking. Only he knew the real reason why he'd agreed to Chakotay's offer. Well. *hopefully* Chakotay didn't know. This other Tom Paris did have a point however. Now he looked at it from his new point of view- the Commander-Pilot point of view- Chakotay WAS pretty darn cute.

But *damn* it!

Now he couldn't even think of Chakotay without the memory of the very first dimpled Chakotay smile he'd ever seen. And now he lived with the Commander and he was his closest friend and they told each other absolutely *everything*. But how could he tell Chakotay this new revelation?

He wouldn't, he *couldn't*, he'd wait and see what happened. Tom sighed. Chakotay had said they weren't particularly friends when this had happened to Tom, so maybe his feelings would just fade as time went by.

Tom tried to shake the question niggling at the back of his head- What if he didn't want those feelings to fade?

***

I felt bad for leaving Tom. Especially since it was a Friday. I'd asked Kathryn to look out for him, but it wasn't the same. I knew what was going to happen that night; he was going to meet me. But I didn't know what he thought of me the first time. Tom was never as liberal with his feelings as he is now; his face wasn't quite as readable.

So that's why I was even more apprehensive about going back to Voyager as I was about leaving Tom. What if Tom hated me? No. That couldn't be true yet. I knew for a fact that he was grateful for me saving him from becoming a drunken man who'd fallen from grace. He was thankful for the chance to fly again. I knew that the young Tom I'd brought into the Maquis was just looking for direction again, something he could live for, and someone to rely on him.

But he had an instinctive resentment of all authority figures, or at least trepidation around them. So when I became his XO, he saw his chance. This wasn't Starfleet, this was the Maquis and he could be as impertinent as he liked and no one would do anything except check him. Tom extended his knowledge of boundaries in the Maquis. As a child he would know where those boundaries were and know not to pass them. As a young adult he learned how to stretch those boundaries, and my patience, to their very limits. He knew just what he could get away with, and knew I got frustrated when he didn't cross the line.

So this was where I was uncertain: I knew Tom was grateful for his chance to fly, but he played me as much as he possibly could. So did he like me?

Well, I'd soon find out.

The next morning I rushed the goodbyes as much as I could without it seeming rude. Thanking the Ministers, thanking them for trade, thanking them for their good wishes on our journey home. Then I jumped into the shuttle, still waving at the over-friendly Ministers through the window of the shuttle. Muttering through my smile, I tell the ensign to lift off quickly before the smile froze permanently.

I got back to Voyager at 0600 and I knew that Tom wouldn't be awake. He wasn't a morning person anymore; it seemed he was making up for lost time. I walked back to our quarters hoping he'd have caught at least SOME sleep. Only the Spirits knew what ridiculous time he'd been out to last night. Strangely I missed being dragged along on one of his wild nights. He'd always want me to come along and, for all my first officer pretence; I'd end up having the time of my life. Of course I'd pay for it the next day, hung over and trying not to fall asleep on the Bridge.

I entered our quarters and, sure enough, I found the lights out, the place quiet and Tom sleeping soundly in the bed. I yawned and went to curl up on the sofa, try to catch a few hours sleep before.

"Kotay! You're back! How long have you been home? Why didn't you wake me up? Was it good? Did you bring me anything?" Tom said with his old toddler eagerness that would still sometimes come to the fold.

I smiled, "Two hours, because I figured you hadn't had much sleep anyway, it was pretty boring and yes, I brought you something." I said tossing him a vid clip.

Tom caught it and smiled, "Thanks, Kotay. What is it?"

"Their version of cartoons."

Tom settled next to me and said, making an effort to appear mature and serious, "I've grown out of cartoons."

I raised an eyebrow and nodded towards the bedroom, whispering, "Tom, your vid screen's still active."

Tom turned to look at the paused vid screen just visible through the bedroom door and laughed softly, "How did that get there?"

"I wonder." I swung a friendly arm around Tom's shoulders and waited until he relaxed his head on my shoulder before asking, "So.are you okay with everything that happened last night?"

Tom looked up with a cheeky glint in his sapphire eyes and exclaimed "You turned renegade, Kotay!!! I thought you were the good, stoic Commander, but you're really a rebel!!!"

"You became a rebel too, Tom, or have you conveniently forgotten that part?" Tom laughed and I glanced at him sincerely, "So are we okay?"

"We're okay, Kotay." Tom replied, "Why wouldn't we be?"

"Just checking." I said softly, "Where are you up to in your memories?"

"I've just joined the Maquis."

"Just another few weeks to go now, and nothing too dramatic left I think." I reassured him. "Are you hungry?" Tom nodded and I sighed, "I take it you spent all your rations last night?"

"Maybe."

I laughed, stood up and headed towards the replicator.

***



"Your life is mi-ine!!"

Chakotay groaned and buried his head under a cushion, trying to avoid Tom's chants. He felt a presence lie down by his side on the couch and the cushion was lifted from his head. Chakotay looked up to see Tom's grinning face and mischievous sparkling eyes. Tom paused long enough for Chakotay to become curious as to what he was going to say, and then he leaned down and whispered in Chakotay's ear, "Your life is mine."

Chakotay groaned again, snatched the cushion off Tom and hit him playfully with it, "Shut UP Tom."

Tom laughed, "You belong to me Kotay. I saved your life. It's mine."

Chakotay sat up and faced Tom, deciding to just play along, "So now you've got my life, what are you going to do with it?"

Tom looked into Chakotay's gentle brown eyes and felt his heart stop. He snaked his tongue out a little and traced the outline of his lips, moistening them, wondering why they had suddenly dried up. Tom swallowed, making a decision. He leaned over to Chakotay and lifted his right hand, caressing the older man's cheek. Slowly, Tom leaned over to Chakotay and touched his lips against the soft, velvet ones of the Commander. He felt Chakotay's lips part slowly and Tom hesitantly slid his tongue into the welcoming mouth. Tom lined the inside of Chakotay's mouth, feeling the smoothness of each inside cheek. He ran his tongue over every strong white tooth and moved back to tango with Chakotay's playful tongue. Their tongues wound around each other as Tom's hand continued to caress Chakotay's cheek.

Chakotay was overwhelmed with the sensations of Tom's skilled mouth and wrapped his arms around the young pilot. Despite his wish that their locked embrace could last forever, Chakotay was short of breath and he pulled away. Sense came flooding back to him and he looked up at Tom. Tom's eyes were apprehensive and he seemed to be waiting for Chakotay to pronounce judgment. Chakotay sighed, "Tom?" he asked softly, "What was that?"

"I- Kotay, I've always wanted to do that. Ever since back in the Maquis." He sighed, "I'm sorry. It must have been weird. Oh, shit. Can we just pretend it didn't happen?"

Chakotay hugged Tom to him, "If you want, but I'd rather we didn't." Tom looked up at Chakotay, frowning, "Tom, I've wanted this too."

"Really? You're kidding! You mean."

"I mean I'm infatuated by you. Clear enough?"

Tom laughed softly in disbelief, "Clear. Kotay, could I, I mean would you, can I buy you dinner someday?"

Chakotay chuckled, "I think you owe me about a hundred of them."

"Well then, I can organise a mean date."

Chakotay found Tom's hand and held it gently, stroking the palm, "Tom, I don't think we should do anything until you're back to normal. I don't think I could cope if you turned around and said you didn't want me anymore."

"I always will, Kotay. Me and you are forever no matter what our boundaries are, I've grown up with you."

Chakotay frowned at the last statement and asked, "Are you sure none of this is paternal?"

"Hell, no." Tom grinned, "Both of me have been waiting to do that for a while. Can't we just start a relationship now, Kotay? We're already closer than anything."

"I know we are, but I don't want to take any risks." Chakotay rubbed his cheek against Tom's, "It's only a few weeks now, honey."

"It'll feel like forever though, Kotay." Tom turned around and snuggled into Chakotay's chest.

"I know. But we'll be together all the time yeah?"

"Yeah." Tom paused, "You called me honey."

"I know."

"Problem with that?"

Tom simply sighed and whispered, "Kotay? I love you."

"I love you too, Tom."

*** The next few weeks were the slowest of Chakotay's life. He found it hard enough to ignore his own feelings, but Tom seemed to find it harder to ignore his. Chakotay constantly found Tom cuddling up to him and he would find it incredibly difficult to limit his actions.

Tom, meanwhile, didn't care for his former feelings for Chakotay. As he remembered their fights, he also remembered his increasing lust for the Commander and decided to stay with that feeling. He was accepted back into his position as helmsman and he loved it. Not only did flying liberate him, he could also sit on the Bridge all day and grin at the feel of Chakotay's eyes on his back. Now Tom was counting down the days until he regained his last memory and he could be with Chakotay. What he wasn't counting on was Chakotay's conversation with him the night before.

"Hey, Kotay." Tom said, pulling his tray back so Chakotay could sit down.

"Hi. How are things?"

"Okay. I've been working on a new holodeck program with Haz and Lana. We're creating an improved resort, something way more tropical."

"I have a question: will we have the same nicknames forever? Will I be Kotay and will Haz, Lana and Kathy never develop their full names?"

Tom thought for a second, "Maybe you and Kathy can be Captain and Commander on the bridge but, other than that," he shrugged and smiled broadly, "you're gonna have my toddler nicknames forever. Once I decide I like something it stays with me forever."

Chakotay smiled widely at the double meaning and then said, softly, "Tom, I've just come from talking to Captain Janeway, she wants to throw a party in the Mess tomorrow night. Well she phrased it as 'a gathering of special friends'."

"She has a way with words doesn't she?" Tom said downheartedly, "I wanted tomorrow to be just me and you, Cha."

"I'm sorry."

Tom smiled to reassure Chakotay it wasn't his fault, "So, who's coming?"

"It'll be me, you, Harry, B'Elanna, and, of course, the Captain."

"Not a very big party. Why, exactly, are we having this again?"

Chakotay shrugged, "You know Kathryn, any excuse for a gossip. Are you okay with this? I can always cancel if you're really not alright with it."

"No, I'll be fine, don't worry. I owe them all this anyway. You've all been there for me, the least I can do is show you all a good time."

Chakotay laughed, "Gods, Tom, I love you."

Tom beamed widely, showing every single sparkling tooth, "Ditto, Kotay."

***

Tom sat in the observation lounge with Harry, laughing at stupid little things and planning out their next holodeck adventure. Harry looked up, "So what time are the others supposed to be down here?"

"Their shift finishes at 2200." Tom paused, "Look, Haz, I want to thank you for everything you've done for me."

"No problem, Tom."

"Can I ask you one more favour?"

"Sure."

"I don't know what's going to happen to me tonight, I may not remember any of this- I don't know. But, if I do forget everything Haz, remind me what happened between me and Kotay."

Harry sighed, "You really do love him don't you?"

"More than anything, Haz. And it's damned scary. B-but he means everything to me Haz, we've grown closer than I could ever imagine. Don't let me forget him, don't let us go back to Lieutenant and Commander. I know *he* won't say anything to me; he's too damn moralistic. I'm counting on you, Haz."

"Don't worry, I'll tell you, Tom."

"Thanks, Haz."

***

"Four minutes!"

"Harry, it's not New Years." Tom laughed.

Harry nodded, "It's more like one of those old movies you've got me into."

"Mmm. I'm about to transform into some sort of morphed, insane and evil monster." Tom laughed happily.

B'Elanna looked between them incredulously, and blinked, "You're both crazy."

Kathryn moved her gaze from the three laughing officers to Chakotay. She smiled, "You're paling, Chakotay, what's wrong?"

Chakotay looked up, chewing his lower lip nervously, "What if he doesn't remember everything that's happened? I couldn't cope, Kathryn. Not after all that's gone on."

She leaned forward, keeping their conversation private. "Chakotay, I know you've been watching him as much as I have tonight. From all those affectionate glances he's been giving you, I'd say it'd be pretty hard for Tom to forget what has happened. Besides, there'd be no sense in the punishment if he forgot everything; he's supposed to learn from this."

"Somehow I doubt he's learned much," Chakotay said miserably.

Kathryn frowned, "Will you cheer up? You of all people KNOW full well Tom's a different man. I admit it's hard to put a finger on what's changed in him, but he's definitely learned something. Heavens, Chakotay, don't you realise? That man worships the ground you walk on; Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris is head over heels in love with *you*. And I think you feel the same, you know that you would do anything for my helmsman."

Chakotay sighed and nodded, "You're right, Kathryn about everything. as usual"

"And YOU'RE supposed to be the ship's counselor, Chakotay."

Chakotay smiled, "I think you missed your calling, Kathryn."

"Captain? Commander?" came Harry's voice from across the room, "I-I think something's happening to Tom."

Chakotay turned around to see Tom sitting on a chair with his eyes closed and his head in his hands. "Tom?" he asked nervously.

Tom looked up and straight into Chakotay's eyes for a few seconds, giving the older man an unreadable look while searching his soul. Then he switched his gaze to a wider one and looked at everybody, "Oh, Gods, all this because I LAUGHED? A little harsh don't you think?" Tom looked down at his hands for a few seconds. He glanced back up and smiled cautiously, "Thanks so much guys. You've all been fantastic."

Tom stood up and was immediately hugged by B'Elanna, "So what do you remember?"

"Everything." He let go of B'Elanna and faced them all, "But it's different. Before, my old life was just a memory that was coming back to me- it didn't seem real. But now it's the other way around. My second life seems simply like a memory- a really great memory though."

"Oh, it was real Tom." Kathryn smiled, "We heard the screaming from Sick Bay."

Tom laughed, "What are you talking about? I was a complete angel! Or at least I was after Chakotay. where is Chakotay?"

Harry turned and searched the room, looking back and shrugging, "He's gone. He was here a second ago."

"Oh, great. Now I've turned back into the old me, he couldn't give a damn." Tom whispered miserably.

Kathryn put a hand on Tom's shoulder, saying softly, "I don't know where Chakotay has gone, Tom, or why he's gone there, but I do know that he loves you. He won't have given up on you, go find out why he's not here."

Tom raised his eyebrows hopefully, "You think he still likes me?"

B'Elanna rolled her eyes, "We could power the warp core for fifty years with the heat in Chakotay's eyes when he looks at you!"

"Really? You think."

"Tom, GO!!!"

***

Chakotay sat in the observation lounge staring blankly out of the window, desperately missing the comfort and warmth of Tom next to him. After Tom had regained his memories and looked up at him, Chakotay had seen embarrassment in the pilot's eyes. He'd decided to give Tom some space- make everything less awkward.

Tom came through the observation lounge doors after having easily guessed where Chakotay would have headed. He saw Chakotay sitting with his back to him on a couch and he hovered in the door for a second. "Kotay?" he asked softly and hesitantly.

"Tom." Chakotay said flatly without even turning around, not wanting to have this discussion. Couldn't they just forget it ever happened?

Tom sighed and his shoulders sagged. "Don't be like that, Kotay." He said, scrambling over to stand in front of the Commander. His heart was pounding with the sudden realisation that Chakotay might not want this anymore. "Kotay, why'd you go?" He asked nervously, wringing his hands.

Chakotay shrugged, "Just did."

Tom frowned and subconsciously folded his arms, "That's not good enough."

Chakotay looked up and couldn't help but let a small smile spread across his face, "Did you get that off me or your father?"

Tom glanced at his intimidating posture and looked back up at Chakotay, deciding to slip into the semi-consciously created role, "Don't change the subject. Why'd you leave me?"

Chakotay sighed, he'd always been honest with Tom and he wasn't going to change that, "Um. Tom- the look in your eyes when you remembered tonight. I thought you didn't want me anymore. I thought you had remembered something that made every step we had taken void. I figured it would be easier on the both of us if I just left. "

"Oh, Kotay." Tom sat down next to his Commander, "It wasn't rejection. far from it. It was relief. I was so scared that I'd remember something terrible that would stop us being together. And then I didn't and I was so happy and then. you left." Tom wrung his hands in his lap even more "And now I'm scared because I think for some unknown reason *you* don't want to be with *me*." Tom looked up with pure, unadulterated hope in his eyes, "Care to prove me wrong?"

Chakotay took Tom's hands and held them gently in his own, "You're very wrong, honey. I do want to be with you, but there is one thing bugging me. You should know me by now- I don't do flings. Tom, if we did this, I want a relationship. I want love, support, sharing, conversation and life together. I love you and I don't think I could let you go."

Tom smiled and clambered into Chakotay's arms, "I love you too, Kotay and I want all that too and, um, if you want commitment- hell I already live with you, don't I?" Tom sighed and kissed Chakotay's hands, nuzzling his cheek against the skin, "Thanks for everything, by the way. You didn't have to do any of it and I kinda wonder why you did. I *know* I was hell as a child, why did you choose to watch me, Kotay? "

Chakotay grinned and replied simply, "Because you were just as damned irresistible as a kid as you are now."

Tom laughed and beamed, "So you'll stay with me?"

Chakotay leaned in and touched his lips to Tom's, teasing the pilot into opening up for him. He broke away for a second, leaning their foreheads together "This answer enough for you?"

Tom flashed his flyboy smirk, "I don't know. Do it again and I'll tell you."

***

I rolled over onto Kotay's chest feeling the man panting and his heart racing. I grinned; I'd done that to him. I'd made Chakotay feel that good. I rolled more onto my side, shifting the pain off my stinging ass. I'd been a physical virgin when Kotay had taken me and there had been some pain involved, but it was welcome, reassuring pain.

I smiled and snuggled into Chakotay's chest, his arm coming around me. Kotay leant his mouth down to me, I felt his tongue map out the edge of my ear and I shuddered happily. He chewed and then kissed the lobe and whispered, "I love you."

I grinned to myself, feeling so lucky that this had finally happened. Who'd have thought that I'd end up with anyone, let alone Chakotay? Shit, I'm in love. I've got my very own guardian angel. I kissed his chest, "Love you too, Kotay."

He massaged my lower back gently, "Are you okay? Your ass sore?"

I nodded a little, "Kinda. But I'm okay, it's a good hurt."

Chakotay kissed my forehead and we snuggled for a while. I managed to latch onto Chakotay's neck and loved his moans of pleasure. Chakotay suddenly froze and I looked up in question as he pulled out something from under the pillow.

I laughed and grabbed Bugs off Kotay, sitting him on the older man's chest, "I forgot all about him."

"Poor Bugs. That's not very nice, Tom." Chakotay mock-scolded.

I laughed, "I'm not eight years old anymore, Kotay."

"I remember Bugs making an appearance when you were eleven."

I tucked Bugs under Kotay's arm that wasn't wrapped around me, "If you're so obsessed with teddy bears, you can look after him."

"Fine, I will." Chakotay said, grinning and stroking Bugs' head, "Won't you miss him?"

This is probably the strangest conversation I've ever had with a grown man as a grown man. "No. I've got a new teddy bear to snuggle up to now." I cuddle up to Kotay again and close my eyes, "Night, Kotay."

"Night, Tom."

***

So this is where everything has come to; fully-grown Lieutenant Tom Paris snuggled up to my chest, slowly dropping off to sleep. I stroke Tom's hair, wondering what's zooming through his mind right now, as he always goes quiet when he's thinking deeply. I ask soflty, "What's up, Tom? What are you thinking?"

Tom looks up at me and smiles uncertainly, "It's scary, Kotay. I've never, ever felt like this. I feel so loved."

"You ARE loved, honey. I love you."

"I know, and I can tell with you. And it's totally different than anything else. People before, like my dad, they'd tell me they loved me and I just took it at face value. But now I understand it means a hell of a lot more and it's so much deeper and I know that my father sure as hell didn't love me, and neither has any of my partners. But YOU do, and I love you, too."

I can feel my smile stretching widely across my face and I let my fingers run over his features, "You're so wonderful, Tom Paris."

Tom grins and lets me bring him down into my arms, I feel complete like this- like Tom is some missing part of me. I look down after a while and see that the Lieutenant has drifted off to sleep. I notice that one of his hands is clutching Bugs and I smile gratefully at his innocence still being there. It's a welcome exchange for his bitterness.

I sigh and allow sleep to overtake me, too. That night I only find myself dreaming of the rest of my life spent with Tom.