Am I the Only One?

Am I the Only One?
Written October 2003
Rated PG
Synopsis: Paris finds the captain in his arms on the dance floor. Companion piece to “The Wrong Man Was Convicted.”
Spoilers: Various episodes explaining the relationship between Janeway and Paris

Disclaimer: All of the characters and situations featured herein are property of Paramount Pictures. Ed Robertson wrote the words and music for “Am I the Only One?,” and I am borrowing the song. No infringement is intended.

A Youtube version of the song can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-vOui_bU7c


I had just put the finishing touches on the program – adding a few extra drink selections to the bar and a couple more ‘colorful’ characters – when the first guests started to arrive. I was a little nervous. Ha, imagine that, the great socializer Tom Paris, nervous at his debut get-together for the crew. Well, hell yes, I was nervous. Everyone who wasn’t on duty was planning on attending. I even heard that Tuvok had promised to make an appearance. Tuvok! It didn’t get much more nerve-racking than that.

As people started pouring in, laughing and talking, I started to relax. It was going to be fun. I had perfected every tiny detail of my program. I had even added every song BNL had ever recorded to their holographic concert and allowed the computer to auto-choose a selection. Hopefully the crew would like them as much as I did.

I started mingling with the first guests, glancing at the door every once in a while. Harry and B’Elanna arrived together. Naturally. They had been nearly inseparable since she and I decided to split. Well, when she decided to split; I just gave her a good-natured pat on the back and bid her adieu. Harry started salivating at that point, and it took me a good month to convince him that I wouldn’t be upset if they went on a date. Or maybe I spent a month trying to convince myself of that. It still hurt; I had spent a year with her, my only real honest-to-goodness relationship since we got stuck in the Delta Quadrant. I mean, there’s always the possibility that I could find someone better than B’Elanna – or the possibility that I’ll never find anyone again. But that was just a chance I’d have to take. Besides, since Harry’s been in love with her since day one, she deserves him. I was never that patient, never that loving.

I shook the thoughts from my head; there was no reason to start reminiscing about what I had lost when I was trying to start over again. After the captain threw me in the brig and demoted me, I realized I had a lot of growing up to do. Of course, sometimes I thought that she had more growing up to do than me, but I understand why she did what she did.

Fortunately, BNL came on stage and saved me from myself. I started to clap, and everyone joined me. ‘The Old Apartment’ was the first song they performed. A classic. Good choice, computer. No one was dancing yet, so I went to the closest table – which happened to be occupied by Mannus and Yosa and the Delaney sisters (lucky guys) – and ushered them onto the dance floor I had set up in front of the stage. They got the ball rolling; soon, several other couples joined them, and the party was in full swing.

I started scanning the room for a group of bachelors that I could join. Far be it for me to interrupt some sort of date. I didn’t see too many people who came solo. Except for Tuvok. Ha! So he did come. Interesting. I greeted a group of people, stood and talked to a few couples, and just did my job playing the jolly host. It seemed like everyone was having a good time. That certainly brightened my mood. All of my efforts would have hardly been worth it if everyone was staring at the ceiling and rolling their eyes.

I continued making rounds, greeting people and pushing them onto the dance floor, until I spotted the captain and her shadow – er, Chakotay – sitting at a table in the middle of the room. Together. Alone. Laughing. Don’t get me wrong, Chakotay is my superior officer and I respect him, but what any woman would want with that tattooed Mr. Olympia was beyond me. He didn’t have much personality, at least that I was ever privvy to. Abandoning my previous promise to let the couples enjoy their dates, I headed right over to their table and pulled up a chair beside the captain and as far from Chakotay as I could. “Enjoying yourself, Captain?”

She smiled at me and nodded. “They’re great. Their songs seem to fit every situation.”

I knew that. I had listened to ‘Break Your Heart’ at least a thousand times after B’Elanna and I parted company. ‘That’s part of their appeal. What about you, Chakotay? Enjoying yourself? Can I get you anything from the bar?”

He shook his head. “You did a good job on the program, Ensign.”

Engisn. Oh, I bet he loved saying that. “Thanks. Figured I’d share my love for ancient Earth culture with the rest of the crew.” The computer made its next selection, and ‘One Week’ started playing. It was the song that made them popular in the United States, and it was also one of my favorites. “Oh! This is a great song! Come on, Captain, dance with me.”

The words were out of my mouth before I even knew I had said them. I could see Chakotay out of the corner of my eye; he looked a little smug, sipping from his cup and trying not to laugh. I was about to apologize for being forward – what was I thinking? – when she slipped her hand in mine and stood. It took me a second, but then I snapped back into reality (or maybe back into fantasy, I wasn’t sure which) and led her to the center of the crowd. I could see Chakotay sitting back at the table, staring at us with a look of pained surprise that brought me a bit of guilty pleasure.

So I found myself dancing with the captain. Stranger things have happened. I couldn’t think of any at the moment, but there had to be one somewhere. She was an above average dancer, considering she’d never heard the song before and it wasn’t exactly rock standard. And she even seemed to be having fun. I laughed and spun around, nearly bumping into Harry and B’Elanna. “Sorry!” I shouted, returning my attention to my grinning superior. Grinning. Huh. That wasn’t an expression she usually had. I could guess why – it was infectious as hell. If she went around like that on the bridge, the Borg could probably be assimilated.

“Their songs are kind of hard to dance to.”

BNL had started playing ‘The Humour of the Situation’. Definitely not the kind of song you could waltz to. “Yeah, I know. I think they’re better suited for conga lines or just bouncing around.”

She laughed. “Bouncing around, I can handle.” She proceeded to behave as such, capturing the attention of the other dancers. Surprisingly, they joined her. If people had started ramming into each other, it would’ve been a mosh pit (one of many bad dance crazes coming from the twentieth century). What the hell. I started hopping around as well, which did wonders for loosening my limbs, and glanced over at Chakotay. Tuvok had just stood up and left his table, and now the commander was sitting glumly in his chair. Everyone knew how much he cared for Captain Janeway. She knew it too, she just chose not to act on it. Maybe she didn’t feel the same way. Well, I knew she didn’t feel the same way. She certainly wasn’t dancing with him.

So what was the deal then? She didn’t harbor any romantic feelings toward me, I was pretty sure about that. The only reason she came tonight was to make an appearance and make her crew feel like she really cared about their social activities. Well, she did care about us. That’s what made her such a great captain. Maybe the reason I didn’t like Chakotay was because he was so unlike her. He didn’t seem to care about us. He was all business. The only reason he came tonight was because she came tonight. So what was he going to do now that she wasn’t with him?

When the song was over, we all applauded. The holographic BNL sounded fantastic, better than any ancient albums I could get my hands on back on Earth. A second later, they started playing ‘The Wrong Man Was Convincted.’ Oh boy. It wasn’t that I didn’t know BNL had slower songs, but I hadn’t even thought about them until now. Why should I? I was expecting to spend the entire night minglig with the non-dancing crowd.

Okay, I can do this. It was simple dance. With the captain of Voyager. A woman so unattainable that the fact that she was here with me now was simply mind-boggling. I held my arms out in a slow-dance position and waited like a fool.

She looked up at me, and there were no barriers to prevent me from seeing the nervousness in her eyes. Gently, she took my hand and pressed her body against mine. My arm snaked around her waist and kept her close. Perhaps too close. I was beginning to think I was having that dream again, the one where I’m dancing with Kathryn and not the captain, where the dancing ends up happening in a horizontal position. I hoped I wasn’t blushing. She gave me a little relieved smile and leaned her head against my chest.

To say that surprised me would be an understatement. I think my heart skipped two beats. Maybe three. My entire body was on alert, aware of each and every spot that she touched, whereas she was completely relaxed and comfortable. This was definitely better than the dream, horizontal dancing aside. I don’t think she was behaving as the captain anymore. She fit well inside my arms, even if she was a whole lot smaller than me. I closed my eyes, resting my chin on the top of her head. Everything just seemed to melt away – Chakotay, B’Elanna, the other dancers, rules, protocol,Voyager, the Delta Quadrant itself. It was just me and her.

I think we were still holding each other when the song ended. Thankfully, no one seemed to be paying attention to us; they were all applauding and had already begun dancing to ‘Get in Line.’ I looked over at the captain, half expecting there to be some kind of regretful look on her face.

“Don’t just stand there, Tom. If I’m not mistaken, the party just started.”

I laughed out loud. Definitely no regret there. Well, if she was okay with it, then so was I. Or so I told myself.

She danced with me for the rest of the night, except for the time that Lieutenant Hargrove cut in during ‘Some Fantastic’ and attempted to prove that he, too, was an expert in twentieth century pop culture. Although his disco moves were not entirely accurate, he did put on a good show. I was reminded of my drinking days at the Academy, when everyone was too intoxicated to realize they looked like fools on the dance floor. No one here would be winning any awards, but no one seemed to care either. They were having a good time, and I couldn’t have been prouder.

At some point, I noticed that Chakotay was no longer in the audience, nor was he on the dance floor. I didn’t know when he had left, and I wondered if the captain had even realized he was gone. A part of me, the part that was used to being dejected by women, felt sorry for him. Okay, all of me felt sorry for him. I’d been there before, one too many times. Well, one time is bad enough, and maybe this was his. Maybe he was used to getting what he wanted, and then he fell for the one woman who he couldn’t have. I didn’t want to think about it, but I couldn’t help it. Seeing her dance with me must’ve felt like it did the first time I saw Harry and B’Elanna together. I was angry, jealous, and hurting. They were happy and at my expense. It took a little while, but in the end, I couldn’t help but be glad for them. If being ceremoniously ‘dumped’ by all of my girlfriends taught me anything, it was how to accept that the best man won, and the best man wasn’t me. Well, unless Harry and B’Elanna have wedding bells chiming in their future.

The rest of the slow songs lacked the intimacy of the first dance. It was probably because the number of people on the dance floor had decreased and the number of watching eyes had increased. It was getting late, too, and most of the guests had left. So much for my intention of saying goodbye and asking them to come back next time. It wasn’t long before I noticed the last Voyager crew member leave the holodeck and that the captain and I were dancing with my holograhpic creations.

She had apparently noticed it too. “Computer, time.”

“2249,” replied the voice.

She raised her eyebrows. “It’s late.”

The party was slated to end at 2200. There was no way we had danced forty-nine minutes past the designated stopping point. “I can’t believe that. Computer, delete all holographic characters except members of the band.” It complied, and my suspicions were correct – we were alone. “Well.” I tried to smile. ‘Well, this isn’t good’ is what I wanted to say. My mind had spent the entire night lingering back to that first slow dance and wishing that I could feel her in my arms again. I would most definitely have good dreams tonight.

“This was a wonderful holoprogram, Tom,” she told me. “Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. If it means anything to you, I’d be more than happy to authorize another one.”

I couldn’t help but beam. “So have I made you a Barenaked Ladies fan, Captain?”

She laughed a little at that. “Yes, you may have. Their lyrics are very fitting. I admit I’m a little disappointed that it’s over.”

“After all that dancing, I’d think you’d want to go to your quarters and collapse.” That’s how I felt, anyway. She had so much energy, I could barely keep up. On the other hand, I didn’t want this night to end. I wanted to hold her again, as crazy as it sounded. “Of course, if you wouldn’t mind another dance, there’s a song that I love that the band didn’t get to play.”

At her nod, I instructed them to play ‘Am I the Only One?’. I had neglected to equip them with a violin or a piano or any of the softer instruments that occurred in the original recording of the song, which may have been why the computer didn’t choose the song earlier. I did, however, program in an acoustic guitar. Ed picked it up, and the other members remained on stage to provide backup vocals. He began to play the soft tune, and the captain approached me, putting her arms around my waist. I did the same.

“I never realized how much shorter you were than me,” I said, feeling rather dumb after the words came out of my mouth. Nothing said ‘I really enjoy spending time with you’ like insulting someone’s height.

Lucky for me, she laughed. “I happen to be 1.65 meters short.”

“Meters short? That’s a new one. I haven’t heard that before.” We were dancing close again, and for the first time in a long time, I was … well, happy. I had been happy all night because of her. But what was I going to do now? Once we walked outside of the holodeck, it was all over.

I think she sensed my hesitation. “Are you planning on keeping this program in the database?”

I really hadn’t given it much thought. “I guess. It was pretty successful.”

“I’d like to come back again sometime. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be with the rest of the crew either.”

Well, I wasn’t expecting that. Nor did I expect to see that hopeful look in her eyes. I wasn’t born yesterday, but it sure felt like it. How could I have missed something like this from someone like her? I tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear, letting my fingers touch the side of her face. “So, what was your favorite song?”

“This one,” she said, placing her head against my chest and tightening her grip around me.

I nodded and closed my eyes. “Mine, too.”

***

Am I the only one
Who gets to make you laugh,
Laugh until you cry?
Am I the only one
Who asks you to go,
Go on without me?
Am I the only one
Who loves when you leave
Your hair down in front of your eyes?

And who,
Who do you think I am?
And who,
Who do you think I’ll be
Without you?

Am I the only one
Who had to dress you up
To see how you fell down?
Am I the only one
Who needs you to go,
Go on about me?
Am I the only one
Who loves when you leave
Your hair down in front of your eyes?

And who,
Who do you think I am?
And who,
Who do you think I’ll be
Without you?

And who,
Who do you think I am?
And who,
Who do you think I’ll be
Without you?

–Barenaked Ladies “Am I The Only One?”

The End

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