Sincerity

by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Paramount own the names. Not the characters.

Part seven of the Delta Quadrant 90210 series. Earlier parts can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~SuzVoy/deltaq.html

*

"Computer, locate Lieutenant Paris."

"Lieutenant Paris is in holodeck one."

"Locate Captain Janeway."

"Captain Janeway is in her ready room."

"Is she alone?"

"Affirmative."

"Chakotay to Janeway."

"Go ahead."

"Kathryn, sorry it's such short notice but I'm afraid I'll have to cancel our plans to meet for dinner in the mess hall. Can you go to the holodeck instead?"

"What for?"

"To meet someone. I think you know who."

"Chakotay-"

"What harm is there in just seeing him?"

"I-"

"Just seeing him."

"I...okay, Chakotay. But I'll stay less than five minutes."

"Thank you."

"Why are you doing this?"

"Why not? Chakotay out."

*

Tom Paris was sitting at the bar at Sandrines when something unbelievably strange happened.

"Hi Tom. Buy you a drink?"

A number of thoughts crossed his mind as he pondered over the offer. A shot of whisky would go down nicely. How the hell did he get into the bar without Tom noticing? Didn't he want to pummel his face in? He'd been studiously avoiding looking at him directly in weeks. Then another thought struck him and he knew it had to be the right one: Chakotay wanted something.

Deciding to see how this would play out and a little afraid of...something...he forced a sardonic glint in his eye and faced the First Officer.

"Sure."

Sighing, Chakotay ordered two drinks and took the seat next to the younger man. "It's good to see you're reverting to your old habits."

"Such as?" Tom asked, picking up the new glass and sipping from it without so much as a thank you.

"Drinking and being generally unpleasant."

The drink went down the wrong hole. Tom wheezed and thumped his glass down on the bar before gawking at Chakotay. "Excuse me?"

Chakotay simply continued as if hearing nothing. "You really think that moping at the bar is any way to fix things between you two?"

"Who?" Tom queried dumbly, looking back at his glass.

"Don't give me that crap," Chakotay responded angrily. "You know who."

Again, Tom wondered why Chakotay didn't want to smash his face in. "Yeah," he admitted. "So...what? You're going to tell me how to make her fall all over me?"

"Hardly. But I can give you a starting point."

"And that is?"

"Talk to her. Have you even talked to her since that night?"

Tom tried to look less embarrassed than he felt. "I definitely remember a few 'Aye Sirs' on the bridge."

"So that's a no."

"What makes you think I *want* to talk to her anyway?" He asked indignantly.

Chakotay laughed, the first sign of genuine amusement that Tom had seen from him in some time. The First Officer sobered after a few moments and looked down at his own glass.

"I guess you could say I recognise the signs."

The conn officer scrutinised the man sitting next to him. "Why didn't you two ever-"

"She has to be pushed," Chakotay interrupted, again seeming to ignore what was being said. "Obviously you can't force her into anything, but sometimes she needs a little nudge to face what she really wants. She's stubborn as a Klingon..." He chuckled mirthlessly at some private joke "but considering your experience that shouldn't be much of a hurdle."

"I guess not," Tom mumbled, still confused as hell.

Chakotay continued. "She loves baths, she hates to cook, and she's fascinated by indigenous primates." He laughed again and rubbed his hands over his face.

Worried that the First Officer might be flipping out on him, Tom contemplated pulling his drink away from him.

Chakotay calmed somewhat then, and lowered his hands. "It might not be easy Tom, but you've got the balls for it."

"Don't you?" He shot back, not trying to hurt but genuinely curious.

Chakotay exhaled and rubbed his hands over his face again. "She's not one for capitulating easily Tom and...no. I guess I don't."

Tom couldn't wrap his head around the concept. "Considering what you'd get if it worked-"

The sound of a door closing cut off his remaining words as he turned to see who the newcomer was. Chakotay didn't move.

"Did you plan this?" Tom whispered.

Chakotay remained still, staring at the bar. "She wouldn't be here if she didn't want to be."

Tom shrugged sincerely, at a loss for words. "I-"

"Go."

Standing unsurely from his seat Tom steadied himself and walked over to her, by the piano that he still hadn't had the energy to replace. One simple command would have restored his beloved pool table, but he simply couldn't be bothered.

He found himself standing two feet in front of her suddenly and couldn't decide what to say first. Did she feel as nervous as he looked? Did she feel like someone's fist was in her stomach? Did she feel like something was about to happen that might change the whole universe?

"Hey," he said eventually, and wanted to hit himself for not being able to produce something more articulate.

"Hey," she responded quietly.

He smiled.

At the bar, Chakotay watched.

Their voices were soft, but he could tell through their body language that Tom was trying to persuade her to do something that she wasn't entirely happy with. But he was learning. He was speaking with a sincerity that completely dispelled the reputation he had earned when he first came on board.

Grabbing her hand, Tom tipped his head back and made an order to the computer. At his request a pianist appeared and started playing a faintly familiar tune.

She resisted, at first. Refusing even to move or sway. Yet Tom continued talking and she started to smile.

Getting to his feet, Chakotay looked towards the exit and tried to decide the most subtle means of leaving. Walking quietly would probably be the best option.

He looked back at them once more. And though he felt something inside him clench every time she whispered something in his ear, every time their feet padded softly on the floor, each time her eyes filled with laughter at something Tom had said...he smiled.

~FINIS

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