Title: Paper Hearts|
Author: KayTrek (KayTrek@yahoo.com)
Archive/Post: In no particular order, CPSG, VSPS, ATPS, Cha_Club, The Tom Paris Dorm, anyone else please ask first
Disclaimer: Star Trek and everything related is owned by Paramount/Viacom, this is just a not-for-profit fun fic.
Summary: Tom has a secret Valentine's admirer.
Thanks, as always, to CatHeights for her editing, support, and enthusiasm
Tom moaned as the alarm went off. "What was that Twentieth Century statement? Another day, another dollar?" he thought to himself as he rolled out of bed and dragged himself to his bathroom. It was a bit easier, he reflected, to get up in the morning since he had broken up with B'Elanna. He certainly wasn't as tired the next morning, but, he admitted to himself, he was so depressed that he might as well be exhausted, because he still couldn't manage to get up with any alacrity.
A scant few minutes later, Tom found himself dragging down the hallway to the lift and the mess hall. Harry expected him to join him for breakfast. Were it not for that standing morning "date", he might not get out of bed at all.
Actually, he reflected to himself, that wasn't quite true. There was one other thing that made him get out of bed each morning.
His bright Lady, Voyager.
Flying Voyager was close to a religious experience for him. At least his feelings seemed to match what he had read in the ship's database on religion and religious ecstasy. That was what it was like for him -- ecstasy. He forgot everyone and everything. There was the ship, and him, in a kind of symbiosis. No wonder he had fallen for Alice so easily, she had offered him what essentially sounded to him like his idea of Heaven -- being one with his ship. And now, without B'Elanna, it sounded even more appealing.
A short time later, Tom regretted getting up more than ever. The little Talaxian had managed to corner Tom and Harry again, asking more about Earth holidays. Tom couldn't decide if Neelix took his job as morale officer a little too seriously, or if he was still trying to figure out humans after five years. Whichever it was, Neelix had returned to his obsession with Earth holidays again, and was asking about winter festivals.
"Why winter, Neelix?" asked Harry, perfectly willing to humor the Talaxian, much to Tom's dismay.
"Well, because it is winter on Earth right now, of course! At least in the Northern Hemisphere, where you all seem to come from. Isn't that where your lovely San Francisco is?" asked Neelix, clearly puzzled that the Humans wouldn't know this simple fact.
"We have been in the Delta Quadrant for years, Neelix, we really don't keep track of Earth seasons any more," Tom attempted to explain.
"But surely you have winter holidays! We Talaxians have so many to liven up the winter months! What do they do on Earth?"
"Well," started Harry, "there IS St. Valentine's Day."
Tom moaned quietly to himself. That was all he needed. Start the hopelessly romantic Talaxian off about Valentine's Day. As the two started to chat brightly about the holiday, Tom slunk out of the mess hall and headed to the morning briefing early, for once. At least the Captain and Chakotay wouldn't be interested in his romantic life, or lack there of.
But Tom should have known that the fates were conspiring against him, as usual. He had inwardly cringed at the strange looks the Captain and First Officer had given him when he actually arrived early. Then as soon as all the senior staff had filed into the briefing room, Neelix had enthusiastically burst out with an idea for a weeklong Valentine's celebration, to end with a romantic Valentine's SweetHeart Dance.
"It could be great fun," Harry added enthusiastically. "Neelix and I were talking about a valentine exchange -- secret valentines, you know? Pick your secret valentine, leave them messages all week, and then meet at the dance."
"That sounds romantic," Chakotay chuckled, grinning at the enthusiasm Harry and Neelix were showing over the plan.
"Well, as long as it doesn't involve a security risk or too many replicator rations, go ahead," the Captain added, smiling as well. "I think the two of you already have a plan in hand, and it sounds like something everyone can have fun with."
As the meeting continued, Tom reflected to himself, "Yah, everyone would have fun, leaving their sweethearts little valentines and gifts." Except him. He was alone, as always.
As a result, Tom was very surprised when he returned to his cabin that night.
He had done a full shift at the conn, and then a half- shift in sickbay with the Doctor. He was ready to collapse when he opened his cabin door to find a valentine on the floor.
Tom picked it up with some trepidation. He figured at first it would be some sort of sick joke. But it wasn't -- it was an old-fashioned paper valentine that looked like it had been slid under his door. The valentine was large and red, with lace trim, and had a very simple message:
Violets are Blue
You don't know me
But I know you
Your Secret Valentine
Tom was nonplussed by the card. Who would send it? It could still be a joke, or maybe Harry trying to make him feel better by making him think that he had a secret admirer.
In fact, Tom reflected, maybe it was little Naomi. She had been acting like she had a crush on Tom lately.
Oh, joy, Tom thought as he got up to his alarm the next morning. Yesterday was Monday, and the party was set for Sunday night. A whole Valentine's week. Tom had decided to start leaving Naomi little presents, with Sam's knowledge, of course. It would make the little girl excited, and no one could bug him about not participating. Yes, Tom thought to himself as he dragged himself to the mess on Tuesday morning, that would be a safe and fun way to participate. Naomi had always been special to him, like a little sister.
Tom greeted Neelix, grabbed the least objectionable breakfast entree, and sat down beside Harry, to find his best friend eagerly discussing valentine gifts with Ayala.
"The thing is, you know, I don't know if Tem will know what I am doing. If I leave him valentines and chocolates, you know?" Ayala was telling Harry.
"Well, look in the database on romantic Bajoran stuff, Miguel," Tom said as he sat down. "No sense wasting replicator rations on a heart full of candy if he doesn't know what it means."
"Who are you choosing, Tom?" asked Harry, grinning as he expected Tom's reputation to be in full force.
"Naomi Wildman," Tom responded, taking a bite of breakfast.
"Hey, she's my best gal," Tom said, forcing a grin on his face. "Why not?"
"Tom, I know you are upset about B'Elanna still, but you have to get back into circulation," Harry started.
"Uh huh, circulation, yah, o.k., Harry," Tom responded, trying to ignore Harry's and Miguel's concerned looks.
"Harry's right, you can't pine away about B'Elanna forever," Miguel offered.
"Maybe I'm not, maybe I'm waiting for someone to chase after me for a change," Tom responded, uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking.
"Think someone might do that, Tom?" came a voice suddenly from behind him. Tom twisted to see Chakotay and the Captain retrieving their breakfasts from Neelix.
"They just might, Commander," Tom responded, eyes narrowed, trying to decide just where Chakotay was going. Did he think no one would be interested? Sheesh, the guy didn't have to take a public jab like that at him, but what did he expect, Tom thought to himself.
Later that day, Tom yawned as he entered his quarters. He had snuck by the Wildman's quarters with a stuffed bear he had replicated at lunchtime. At least it had spared him eating Neelix's chow. He had gotten a few snickers on the bridge when he had returned with it, unable to deliver it until after the shift. Once he had explained that he was Naomi's secret Valentine, though, the Captain had just smiled and sat the bear next to her until the end of the day.
But the shift itself had been stressful, with Chakotay sitting behind him after that breakfast remark, and then snickering at him with the teddy bear. Tom sighed. He just wanted to forget the whole Valentine's thing and sleep.
Just as he was about to get some rest, he noticed the single rose on his table. A note propped up next to it read:
Meet me at the Dance?
Geez, Tom thought. Whoever was leaving these notes didn't write very good poetry. Maybe it was Naomi. Or one of the Delaney twins. But the rose was sweet. Tom smelled it, then took it into his room and placed it next to his bed. Maybe it would give him sweet dreams.
The next morning Tom managed to drag himself out of bed on the first alarm from the computer. He looked at the rose blearily. It seemed to have helped a bit -- he didn't remember waking from any nightmares the previous night. Shrugging, Tom got ready for his shift, and then grabbed the paper valentine he had made for Naomi. He could leave it with Neelix for Naomi to find later, and at least Chakotay wouldn't be snickering at him on the bridge.
Tom edged into the messhall, wondering at the concoctions Neelix might have for them this morning. Again, if it wasn't for Harry waiting for him, he would have been tempted to skip breakfast. Except that that meant he would have to be early to the morning briefings, and Chakotay would be sure to comment on that.
Thankfully, the talk was at a fever pitch in the messhall, and Tom was able to slip the Valentine to Neelix with a quick explanation, grab the less offensive grub, and slip into the empty seat next to Harry with little notice. Harry was too busy gossiping with the Delaney twins about who was getting what from their secret Valentine's to even pay attention to Tom's presence. Tom hunkered down over his tray, trying to think of what he could leave Naomi next. Maybe some of those sugared candy hearts with the sayings, or some bright hair ribbons. What did a girl her age like?
Tom began to listen to the conversations flowing around him. It sounded like everyone was in on the secret Valentine exchange. Rumors were even the Captain had found a Valentine in her ready room. One of the engineering staff was taking bets on whom it was, but Tom shrugged him off when approached. Tom was sure it was Chakotay. It was such a sure thing that he couldn't be bothered betting. He knew he wouldn't get decent odds anyway.
"So what did you get, Tom?" Megan suddenly said, and Tom's head jerked up.
"Me? Why are you asking me?" Tom said, curiosity warring with suspicion.
"Oh, come on, Tom, you MUST have a Valentine," Jenny pouted.
"Well, yeah, I'm leaving things for Naomi. Can't let her feel left out," Tom deadpanned, knowing it wasn't what the twins wanted. But they had a tendency to go for the jugular, and he wanted to survive to the morning briefing, at least.
"TOM," Harry sighed dramatically. "You know what they meant. Who's your secret admirer? What have they left you?"
"Who said I got anything?" Tom responded defensively. "Everyone knows B'Elanna'd kill anyone who got near me. She might not want me, but she won't let anyone else near me. She almost decapitated Ensign Lariby for that innocent kiss at Neelix's birthday party last month."
"Oh, it is anonymous. It's safe enough from B'Elanna," Harry said, grinning. "I can't believe you're not getting left something."
"Why, are you doing it?" Tom said, making his best friend flush with embarrassment. The twins began hooting and teasing Harry, giving Tom enough time to flee the messhall for the morning meeting.
Once again, he managed to arrive a few minutes early and get strange looks from the Captain and Chakotay.
"If you are bucking for brownie points on your next review by being early, Paris, forget it," Chakotay drawled, looking Tom up and down as he hesitated at the doorway, concerned he had interrupted a private meeting between the two.
"Hardly. Just trying to escape the Valentine madness," Tom shot back, refusing to let Chakotay think he had been intimidated. How long had they been in the Delta? And the Commander still took a dig every chance he got.
"Aren't you enjoying it, Tom?" the Captain responded with a strange look.
"Well, yeah, surprising Naomi, but that's about it," Tom said, glancing down at the table to avoid her intense stare.
"No secret admirers? No one knocking down your door in the middle of the night, leaving dozens of roses in your quarters?" Chakotay said sarcastically.
"Nope. How about you?" Tom shot back. Thankfully, he was saved from the Commander's wrath by the entrance of the rest of the command crew.
With his shift finally over, Tom sighed dramatically as he dragged himself back to his quarters after another long day in the Delta Quadrant. Once again, the ship had run into a species that shot first, and answered questions later. The battle had been very stressful, trying to get Tuvok open shots while avoiding a weapon that seemed to make their shields fizz with every hit. And then he'd stayed long into beta shift to make sure the repairs to the helm controls were done right. He didn't trust Culhane; he had to make sure the fine-tuning was just right or next time he might not be able to avoid the aggressors like he had today.
Tom had completely forgotten about the Valentine's Day madness when he opened his cabin door. Only to freeze when the computer automatically turned on the lights in his rooms. Festooned all over the living space were chains of paper hearts. Red, pink, white, and all tones between, the tiny hearts formed chains across all four walls, around his desk, over his chair, and across the couch under the window. Tom walked with some trepidation to his desk, looking for the usual note. Naomi couldn't have done this, not without help. And he thought most of the crew had been tied up with repairs, although he hadn't noticed when the others had actually left the bridge.
The note, once again simple, read:
Show my love for you,
My heart is like paper,
For wanting you.
Geeze, Tom thought. This time his secret valentine didn't even try to rhyme. He was beginning to wonder seriously who it was. He shook his head at the hearts draping every surface, went and replicated a bag of heart candy to sneak to Naomi tomorrow, and went to bed.
The next morning he moaned as he got up at the computer's alarm. It was Thursday; only four more days to the Valentine's nightmare. For a mad moment he wondered if B'Elanna was leaving him the bad poetry; then he instantly knew better. If she wanted him back, she'd come and throw him against the wall and let him know. This wasn't her style.
As a matter of a fact, he thought as he got dressed to go and meet Harry yet again for breakfast, he didn't know whose style it was. He was beginning to wonder if he should be worried. The Valentine, the rose, it could have been just about anyone. But the paper hearts? He stared at them a moment before he left his quarters. That took serious thought, and serious commitment -- either that, or they needed to be committed.
Tom took his breakfast from Neelix and began to scan the messhall with a jaundiced eye as he found Harry and sat down to eat. Who was leaving him that stuff? He began to eat without thought, barely noting the descriptions Miguel was giving Harry of the silk boxer he had left Gerron, or of Harry sheepishly admitting that someone had been leaving him Valentines taped to his door every morning.
Tom suddenly turned to Miguel, after it registered that Harry's Valentines had all been on the outside of his door. "Hey, who could get into senior crew quarters? Like to leave Valentine stuff?"
"What, is someone leaving you something, Tom?" Miguel inquired.
"Um, well, maybe," he admitted, ducking his head as he inexplicably blushed. "Last night I found paper hearts all over my quarters."
"Paper hearts?" Harry asked, puzzled.
"Like paper chains, but of hearts," Tom said.
"Would have to be a member of the senior staff, or maybe engineering, the repair crew has some pass codes," Miguel said.
"How are things going with Tem, Miguel?" said a sudden voice, and Chakotay slid into the empty seat beside Ayala.
"Good, from what I hear he's enjoying what I'm leaving him," he grinned. "But I think Tom's doing even better."
"What? Someone's actually leaving Paris something?" Chakotay said, turning to take in Tom, who was now blushing further.
"What's it to you, Chakotay?" Tom shot back, getting up to leave. "I bet the Captain's enjoying your Valentines . . . "
"I'm not leaving any for her," Chakotay said, too calm, and staring at Tom.
"You're not?" Tom said, freezing in puzzlement.
"No, not at all. She's not my secret Valentine."
"Whatever," Tom said, leaving for the bridge, not noting the smirks behind his back.
When his shift was finished, Tom spent a half hour with the Wildmans after he hid the candy for little Naomi to find. As he was heading back to his own quarters, he wondered what weirdness he would find this time. He knew he was still depressed over B'Elanna, but he just couldn't get into this Valentine's nonsense. He just wanted to sleep until he had to drag himself to the messhall to have breakfast with Harry again.
When he entered his cabin, Tom peered about in suspicion. The paper hearts were still up, but nothing else was disturbed. Shrugging, hoping whoever was leaving him stuff had given up, Tom went into his bedroom, took off his uniform, and went to the bathroom for a shower before bed.
Only to stop, dumbfounded. His whole bathroom was lit with scented candles, and there was a bubble bath, still steaming, drawn in his tub. A note by the sink, which he found when he finally unfroze, simply said:
No candle hold a light to you,
But rest my sweet,
The light of my heart.
End of Part 2.. To Be Continued..