“A Child’s Eyes”|
//Another day and another eventful eight hours on duty, // Tom thought sarcastically as he made another tiny course change. The last few weeks had been very uneventful, in fact they were down right boring. He tried to stir things up on the bridge with his favorite activity, teasing the stoic Commanding First Officer. Though things finally eased between them after so many years, he still didn’t know much about Chakotay the man. What he thought was sadder still was when he decided to dig around a bit, going to Alaya and B’Elanna; they couldn’t shed much light on the ‘Mystic Warrior’ as B’El called him either. The man was a recluse, with only occasional glimpses into who he really was.
Tom believed that it was this closed persona that really turned the Captain off, but the mystery of it drew Tom like a moth to a flame. He found he liked to see emotion flare in the large dark eyes, though he now preferred a smile than anger, he’d settle for anything other than that distant look. Today, he was unsuccessful in either category and the Captain had given her polite that’s enough Tom, ending his chances for the day.
“Captain!” Harry shouted. “Sensors are picking up a sudden anomaly straight ahead!”
“Can we get around it?” Janeway asked keeping her cool.
“checking…no, it’s too big, impact in thirty seconds,” Harry remarked.
“Red alert!” Janeway ordered, knowing that these sudden anomalies always brought trouble.
“What now, ensign?” Commander Chakotay asked.
“Enemy vessels off the port bow. They must have triggered the anomaly,” Harry replied as the ship rocked from impacting the subspace anomaly.
The ship also shook from additional blows from phaser type fire, as console panels were short-circuiting from the emissions from the anomaly.
“Get a lock on those enemy vessels. See if you can knock them back a peg or too,” Janeway ordered. “Tom get us out of this thing,” she finished.
Just then a large electrical pulse surged the ship as a phaser struck and the bridge was filled with sharp rapid-fire charges of bright blue. They bounced around from console to railing and then one hit Commander Chakotay head on and he dropped to the floor in convulsions. Before anyone could act another violent shutter of phaser fire rampaged the bridge shutting off the lights and the bridge crew only had the few lights of their consoles to see by.
Tom’s heart constricted when he caught a glimpse of Chakotay being struck by the blue lighting, but he had his hands full trying to push Voyager through this anomaly and avoid phaser fire, both proving extremely difficult at the moment. “According to sensors, Captain, we’ll be out of this anomaly in another thirty seconds!” Tom yelled so he could be heard over all the other voices rising in orders and commands.
“Acknowledged, Tom,” Janeway replied she tried to make her way to find Chakotay in the dark, but between the anomaly and the phaser fire, she was hanging on her seat for dear life if she didn’t want to be tossed around. She prayed that the computer acted in accordance detecting weak life signs and automatically beamed the Commander to Sickbay. “Mr. Tuvok, as soon as we're clear of this thing, I want our phaser set on full, targeting their weapons and engines. If that doesn’t work, cripple them. Either way, we need to get those ships off our back,” she ordered.
“We will be out of the anomaly in three, two, one… Locking phasers now,” Tuvok replied.
“Fire at will, Commander,” Janeway ordered.
Lights were still out on the bridge, if not for the lights of the consoles and the fireworks on the view screen, Janeway wouldn’t be able to see a thing and neither could most of her bridge crew.
Voyager rocked again as Tom danced the damaged ship up and around a few more ships, trying to get Tuvok the best possible angle to take out the enemy. He and the security officer had done this thousands of times since they came to the Delta Quadrant, by now they could almost predict the others needs and movements and it usually proved to be most effective as it did now. In a matter of five more minutes the battle was over, for most real battles were a matter of precious minutes. They took out two of the five unknown vessels and disabled the other three as they now hurried away as fast as Voyager could manage.
“B’Elanna!” Janeway called firmly. “Besides light, the ventilation system is not functioning correctly, the bridge is filling with smoke from the electrical fires,” she stated.
“I’m on it, Captain,” the half-Klingon chief engineer replied in a stressed voice.
“Ensign Kim. Open manual vents, if we don’t start to get some of this smoke out of here, we’ll either pass out or we’ll have to evacuate the bridge,” she ordered.
“Yes, Ma’am. “ Harry coughed and moved to the areas along with other crew personnel to open vents used in exactly situations like this.
“Captain, my sensors are detecting a large asteroid off our port bow. It has just enough radiation to keep us from being detected but not harm the Ship,” Tom stated, still loud, for in the dark, the sounds of voices and crackling panels and fires being put out still rang heavy in the air.
“Double check the area. If it is as you say, take us in, we’ll need the time for some repairs. Tuvok, I want to know who hit us and if they had anything to do with the sudden appearance of the anomaly,” she ordered.
“Yes, Captain,” Tuvok replied in his non-emotional tone.
“Janeway to Sickbay,” she said using her com badge.
“Unless it is an emergency, Captain, I am rather busy,” The rude EMH replied.
“I just want to know the status of Commander Chakotay,” she asked in her don’t-mess-with-me tone.
“Commander Chakotay? I don’t’ know what you mean. He has not arrived in sickbay. But if he is on he way, I will…”
“What do you mean?” Janeway snapped, then dropped from her seat and moved along the floor feeling for the Commander’s body. “I need light!” she ordered.
“Captain…” the EMH was about to say.
“Stow it!” she snapped as Tuvok having pulled a wrist light from a storage area by him, moved in her direction, but there was no Commander Chakotay to find.
Janeway stood up quickly. “Commander Chakotay was struck by an electrical charge and was dropped to the ground just before the light went out, he’s not here. Are you sure he’s not there?” she asked, her voice tight.
“Affirmative. I will check the emergency transport logs…negative. They have been offline the same amount of time as the lights.”
“Very well,” Janeway said her voice heavy. “Computer, location of Commander Chakotay,” she ordered.
[Commander Chakotay is on the bridge.] The computer replied.
Janeway tensed. “B’Elanna, I need light, now!” she ordered. Then she turned to the crew, “Search, he couldn’t have gone far, perhaps it’s just his com badge. Find him!” she ordered.
“Sensors are showing Commander Chakotay’s life signs here on the bridge, Captain,” Harry replied. “But that’s all I’m getting, I’ll try…” Just then the console fired and Harry yelped in pain.
Tom turned at the sound of his friend’s scream and saw Tuvok arriving by his side, the ops unit was out and Harry’s hands were badly burned. He had to force himself to focus out the scene before him and get Voyager to safety behind the asteroid. The bridge was alive with crew dealing with the hurt or consoles frying, the Commander missing but here, and still in the dark. He just got the damaged ship in orbit behind the large rock that would serve for a cover and relaxed a moment when he heard it. It was low, but his ears twitched, it was a sound that was almost familiar but from his past…a sound that haunted him in his dreams. He turned and searched the darkened bridge as the Captain moved around looking for Chakotay and giving orders. She was moving so fast that she wouldn’t have seen it, and Tom only saw it for he was closer to the floor, but there was movement from the small alcove behind the Command chairs…and the sound was coming from there. “Captain?” Tom said unsure of what he was seeing.
Janeway noted Tom’s concern and turned, “Yes, Tom?” then saw that he was pointing to her Command chair. She moved back and looked.
“Under it,” Tom said more quiet as the noise levels started to drop with the sudden arise of another situation. As the sound quieted down, that familiar sound was now clearly heard…it was crying.
Janeway carefully crouched down and shined the light under her chair; her eyes went wide in disbelief. To her surprise there, tightly crawled up under her chair was a small dark haired, dark skinned child. The boy was dressed in Starfleet reds and boar Commanders pips, but the child didn’t bear any tattoo, but he was crying his eyes out and he was hurt, for there were small burns and some blood. He was terrified, his eyes wide looking back at strangers, crying out in a language the translator didn’t understand. Janeway made an attempt to move toward the boy and he screamed bloody murder and shrank back as far as he could, not that there was far for him to go.
The bridge was silent except for mild crackling from consoles as everyone moved to stare at what was happening. Many not knowing all the information wondered just how the Commander of his size got under the Captain’s chair. “Janeway to Torres, is the transporters still out?”
“Yes, Captain. I just got ventilation back on light. Do you want lights or the transporter?” she asked, her tone indicating the Captain couldn’t have both at once, no matter who she was.
“Lights,” Janeway stated and cut the channel. She stayed still and saw the boy calm a bit and when she tried again the boy wailed as if he was being hit and she backed away as she stood up. The confused look on her face matched many of those around her. “We have to get him out of there, he’s hurt and afraid,” she said softly.
“What exactly is the situation?” Tuvok asked now moving down to the Captain after seeing Harry off to Sickbay and overseeing the fires were out on the bridge.
“Some how, Commander Chakotay has been turned into a child…a very frightened and hurt child,” she replied, her concern filled her voice.
“Let me try,” Tom said softly. He didn’t understand it, for he never wanted to be a Father, who would if he might turn out like his own, but he had a knack with kids, always did. He moved down to the floor on his hands and knees and crawled to the point where the Captain was and then laid on his stomach looking in the tear stained face of a very young, scared, confused child. “Chakotay, can you hear me, Buddy?” he asked in a soft, safe, and positive tone.
“I know you’re scared, but can you tell me that you’re okay? If you do, I won’t let anyone near you, okay?” he said soothingly. Seeing the child was looking at him, trying to measure up this strange blond man, he then said something, but Tom couldn’t understand it.
“I’m sorry, Chakotay. I didn’t understand that. Do you think you could try again, this time in standard?” he asked, hoping that Dovan V taught their kids Standard at an early age as most planets in the Federation did. “My name is Tom,” he smiled warmly. “You're Chakotay, right?” he asked, hoping for some reaction. The boy shaking his head yes rewarded his patients and calm non-threatening manner. //Good, if he understands it, it’s a start. //
“I want my Mama, my Papa,” the tiny voice cried out as more tears fell down small dark cheeks.
“I know,” Tom said softly. “But…” He didn’t want to lie, but he couldn’t explain the full truth to this small boy. “But they are not here at the moment, Chakotay. But I promise, I won’t let anything bad happen to you,” he said even softer, risking a small move closer to the child and was glad to see Chakotay wasn’t threatened by it, but he wasn’t pushing his luck and stilled himself again. “You must be pretty scared, and hurt. If you come out I promise to keep you safe and look after you, and get a…healer to look at your wounds and make the pain go away…would you like that?” he asked with sincere concern in he voice. Tom knew that kids were born lie detectors, and he couldn’t help but feel that Chakotay must have kept that gift as he grew up, except when it came to Tom. He saw the boy shake his head yes, but he didn’t move, just cried some more.
Tom looked around and saw the crowd forming behind him, “Captain, this is hard enough without an audience,” he said matter of factly. He waited till everyone was out of the down area except who had to be there at the helm. He looked back at the boy, whose dark doe like eyes, heavy from exhaustion looked back at him. “Better?” he asked softly. “Now, Chakotay. If you want me to help you, you have to trust me and come out, okay?” Tom said as he slowly reached out his hand to it’s full extend, but made no move toward the boy. “I promise, I won’t let anything happen to you, Chakotay…please?” he asked with warmth and concern.
His blue eyes lit up as he saw the small frightened boy slowly start to move, like a scared deer, willing to come close, but dash if scared off by anything. Tom let his look gaze over the bridge, hoping they could get the idea of not doing anything stupid, and then focused on the small boy crawling toward him. //Damn he’s so tiny? How can anything this small and tiny turn out to be such a big man? // He wondered for a moment as the boy touched Tom’s hand.
Tom gently moved so he was on his knees and was almost barreled over as the boy suddenly dashed into Tom’s embrace searching for safety and comfort. Tom caught himself so he didn’t fall back, then wrapped his arms around the small figure that was almost cutting off his air circulation. “It’s okay, you're safe now, Chakotay,” he soothed. Then gently he stood up and was holding the boy in his arms and with one hand supported the boy and the other loosened the death grip around his neck. Then he gently rubbed the small boy’s back and said soothing things to keep him calm.
“Good work, Tom. Better get him down to Sickbay,” she said softly, not wanting to upset the tiny Chakotay. //How ironic. The one person grown Chakotay would run from a million times over is the first one he’ll trust as a child, // she mused.
“Permission to stay with him till he’s…grown or settled?” Tom asked, a joking smile on his face.
“Till he’s settled,” Janeway replied and watched Tom move toward the lift. She couldn’t help but smile. The adorable young face of her first officer was now before her, asleep on Lt. Paris’s shoulder.
“Well?” Janeway asked, as she over looked the sleeping child that was once her First Officer.
“Besides some minor cuts and burns, which I have fully healed, he is a healthy seven year old boy,” the EMH replied.
“Good,” Janeway replied but annoyed that was all she was getting. “And?”
“Oh, you want to know why Commander Chakotay formerly forty-two in age is now seven?” he asked, though it wasn’t a question, just another glib. “I haven’t a clue,” he answered flatly.
Tom was standing vigil next to the small boy, for Chakotay did wake up from time to time, scared and confused, but then he’d look up at Tom and relax…there was trust there, and go back to sleep. “So…he’s seven…for how long?”
“For 365 days,” the Doctor replied dryly.
“Then he’ll be…” Tom was saying, but was cut off.
“Eight. That is the standard aging process is it not?” the EMH asked, making sure his files were correct.
“Doctor, I want my First Officer back,” Janeway growled quietly.
“Then unless I find something that may account for his current condition, you’ll have him back in say 35 years, possibly less considering how bright he is,” the Doctor replied.
“How do you know he’s bright?” Tom asked.
“I did a full neuro scan and I have access to Commanders records. This is enough for me to know that the child is very intelligent,” he turned back to the Captain. “Plus he is in fine health, though as to how he’s going to react, that will remain to be seen. If he is typical and only retains memories of his previous childhood, then he’ll be wanting his parents. I suggest you proceed carefully, Captain.”
“Carefully? Carefully at what?” she asked.
“While Commander Chakotay was very self sufficient, the child is in need of looking after and he will want his parent…which I believe are still over 65 thousand light years away? At least at this rate, the Commander may actually see home,” the EMH quipped. “The child can’t stay here. I have all I need from my earlier scans. If I require more, I will contact who ever is going to be the child’s care taker.’
Tom had been listening to the exchange. He wasn’t going to fool himself and think himself a father, for surely they’ll find a way to fix things…they always have in the past, but he found he didn’t like the idea of anyone else looking after the tiny form laying near him. Tom looked down and saw the face of an angel with golden brown skin, sleeping with a tiny smile on his face, still holding his hand. //I can do this! // He told himself. “Captain?” Tom asked.
Janeway turned to look at her Chief Pilot. “Yes, Tom?”
Tom gave his best mature look, “You said I could stay with Chakotay until he’s settled. So, I’d like to help him get settled…in fact, I’d like to look out for him…till the doctor can fix him up,” Tom said more confidently than he felt.
“That’s very sweet of you, Tom. But perhaps it would be best if Lt. Wildman looked after Chakotay, since she already has a daughter about his age,” she said softly.
Tom felt irked, for he knew she passed him by because she didn’t think he could do it, didn’t she know that by telling him no, he’d want it more? “But Captain, Lt. Wildman has her hands full with Naomi and I’m sure Chakotay here is going to need a lot of extra time to adjust, that she wouldn’t’ have…but I would. Plus….” He was reaching now, “I promised him I’d look out for him,” he said. His blue eyes insisting the importance of the situation.
Janeway was touched, “I’m sorry, Tom. But I’m sure we’ll help Lt. Wildman out, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind some assistance, but the matter is settled.” Janeway turned and contacted Samantha Wildman.
Tom was hurt, but the Captain was right about one point, he would help Sam out every chance he got. He stood there looking down at the small boy that was the grown enigma he cared for so much for. Tom knew he liked Chakotay the first day they met, but it wasn’t to be, for the ex Captain of the Maquis took one look at Tom and was venomous. Strange that it was Seska of all people that pushed for his entrance only to set him up on his first mission.
It took years for Chakotay to even look at him without hate, then it was a tolerance, then only most recently did a delicate friendship form. He valued that friendship and the soul that was next to him more than his own life…and now he had a chance to prove it, by protecting and caring for him. A small sound shook him from his thoughts as he looked down to see deep brown open, trusting, doe eyes looking at him. “Hey munchkin? How you feeling?” he asked warmly.
The boy smiled softly at Tom then looked around and though frightened, he didn’t scream or cry this time, nor did he once he arrived at Sickbay. He grasped Tom’s hand tighter. “Mama, Papa? They come for me soon?” he asked with hope.
Just then Sam Wildman entered the Infirmary. She looked at the small boy in a torn Starfleet uniform and knew the rumors were true. “That’s Commander Chakotay?” she asked quietly, though surprised.
“Yes,” Janeway answered, seeing no reason to beat around the bush. “According to the doctor, he’s a typical healthy seven year old. Could you…” she started to ask.
Samantha knew immediately why she was here once she saw the child, “Of course, Captain. I’ll take care of…Chakotay till…” she stopped wondering how long it might be.
“No. Mama and Papa, please,” the boy insisted. Then looked at Tom, fear and concern in his big eyes. “They come soon?”
Tom took a deep breath and steadied himself. “No, Chakotay. They can’t come. They are very, very far away and though we are trying to get back to them…that will take a long time. But you are safe here, I promise,” Tom stated. His heart crumpled seeing tears well up in the dark doe eyes. “I know, but they do love you, and you ‘will’ be okay and you’ll see them again,” he hoped, so it wouldn’t be a lie. Before he knew it he was holding the sobbing seven-year-old boy, whose tears were now silent though steady.
“Chakotay, I’m Captain Kathryn Janeway,” she said softly trying not to be too intimidating to the child who was her First Officer who himself was intimidating. She waited till large dark eyes looked at her. “I’m in charge here, and I promise that I will do everything I can to get you home, okay? In the mean time, this is Samantha Wildman, and she has a daughter about your age. She’s going to look after you while….”
“No, Tom!” he yelped as if what he was being told hurt him. Then he clung to Tom and scrambled up till he was back in Tom’s arms. “Tom promised!” Chakotay replied with young determination.
Tom took one look at that face and then dug in his heels, “That’s right, Captain. I promised. And we both know that a promise holds great meaning in Chakotay’s culture,” he replied, using whatever means needed to keep his word. “I know I’ve never taken care of a kid full time, but I did watch and take care of Naomi over the years, isn’t that right Sam?”
“That is correct, Captain.” Sam replied, a sweet smile at seeing how Tom was so protective of the small Chakotay and how the boy clung to Tom, like her daughter would cling to her in a moment like this. “He’s very good with kids, and I’m sure between me and others, Tom really wouldn’t be taking care of Chakotay ‘all’ by himself.”
//So much for Command decisions, // she thought. “Very well. Mr. Paris, you may look out for Chakotay so long as you check in with either the EMH or Sam everyday. That’s our first officer, I intend to see he gets treated well, is that understood?”
“You don’t have to worry, Captain. I swear, nothing will happen to him,” Tom said and vowed it in his heart. Then he looked at shining dark eyes. “There you go, munchkin. You’ll be staying with me, so I guess I’ll have to make room…”
“You can use the Commanders quarters. It’s large enough and it can have a second bed placed in the other room. I'll see to it and that you have access, but not to personal stuff, I think you can understand that,” she said.
“Yes, Captain, perfectly. Well, if you’re overseeing the transformation of our living space, then…” he looked at Chakotay, “Hungry munchkin?”
“Yes, please,” the boy said softly, his dark eyes shining brightly, some how finding safety being with Tom.
Tom laughed, even at this age; the boy was full of manners and a sense of calmness. “Well, I guess we’ll adventure the mess hall,” he said warmly and gave Sam a wink and he left Carrying Chakotay to the mess hall.
Tom was sitting in the mess hall with Harry chatting away when a noise caught his attention. He looked up and saw he was under attack from the munchkin brigade, as little Naomi and Chakotay were racing through the tables toward him. He grinned, “Whoa!” he yelled as Chakotay jumped on him shouting he won, just as Naomi grabbed Tom too, and the two kids burst out laughing.
“What is going on here,” Janeway said, moving from her table and stood with her hands on her hips like a mother not pleased.
The two children looked around, seeing her, stopped laughing and Naomi got scared that she’d be in trouble.
“Captain…” Tom tried to say, but a hand from her stopped him in mid sentence.
Chakotay let go of Tom and moved in front of Naomi, “It was my fault, Captain. I’m sorry, we didn’t mean any harm. If someone needs to be punished, make it me…I talked her into it,” he said, his face brave though his eyes showed he was still scared of being in trouble himself.
Tom couldn’t but help admire the small boy even more. It had only been three days, and this small boy was adapting to life on Voyager extremely fast and well. He looked up and saw the Captain taken by the young plea to protect his playmate.
“N…not true,” Naomi stuttered. “I wanted to do it, he didn’t make me do anything,” she said, a test of her character as well in her actions to not let Chakotay take all the blame.
The Captain sighed, then looked at Tom. “Mr. Paris. Take these junior crewmen to the holodeck and let them run off their steam there,” she smiled. “Then instruct them about running in the halls and the mess hall,” she stated then moved off.
Tom couldn’t help but smile; the Captain had a soft spot for kids. Then he grabbed his charges, “What is my little bird and bear up to?” he laughed as he hugged them, “You guys got off this time,” he growled, between laughter as the children hugged him back laughing too.
“Hey aren’t you guys suppose to be in school?” Harry asked, though he was grinning as well, like most of the crew. Seeing a happy Naomi and Chakotay always lightened everyone’s heart.
“We finished our assignments early,” Naomi chirped out.
“So my little bird decided to fly the coop, eh?” Tom asked warmly.
Naomi chittered with laughter at the nickname Uncle Tom gave her.
“And what about my little bear?” Tom asked as he picked Chakotay up and sat him on his lap, for the child may have been small, but he had the heart and bravery of a bear.
“I finished too, and Seven said I performed above ex…pect...ta..tion,” he said with some difficulty.
“I see you have your hands full,” Sam laughed as she came in the mess hall looking for her daughter.
“No,” he smiled. “The Captain has given me permission to take these two ‘junior’ crewmen to the holodeck to run off some steam,” he chuckled.
“And instruct us about running in the halls and the mess hall,” Chakotay added.
Tom blinked, //Boy this kid is way too honest for his own good,// he mused quietly. “Ah, well they were a bit rambunctious and came running in, but no harm done, Sam,” Tom said trying to sway any hardship that may befall Naomi from her mother. He was glad that it worked by the smile on her face.
“Well, if you're watching them, I’ll head back to work then,” Sam smiled. “Neelix will be by around 1600 hrs for Naomi and he said if you need a break, he’d be glad to watch Chakotay too,” she said, then gave her daughter a hug and kiss and Chakotay a hug, then headed back to work.
“Whew,” Tom said with a smile. “You guys are lucking out all over today,” he teased. Then he looked at Harry, “Care to join us?” he smiled.
Harry grinned, “Sure. I was going to meet B’Elanna at the bar, but I’ll contact her and see if she wants to join us too,” he replied warmly.
“Sounds like a plan,” Tom replied happily and looked down at the two kids that were picking at his tray. “Ah, but I sense these munchkins are hungry, right little bear?”
Chakotay looked up, his dark eyes sparkling with joy and smiled then roared as he gave Tom a huge hug, and Naomi chittered and jumped on Tom too. The three went crashing to the floor and the entire mess hall broke out in laughter.
The choice option was the beach. Tom sat with Harry and B’Elanna watching the two kids play with the beach ball down by the water. Tom noticed how close his two best friends were getting and smiled, for life was good. He sat back and thought about the past three days, taking care of Chakotay brought out a part of him he didn’t even know existed. He found that he cared deeply for the boy and had tons of paternal instinct, according to Sam Wildman. He was nervous that first night, taking the small boy back to where they both would be staying, seeing that the Captain had turned the extra room to Tom’s room and kept Chakotay in his own, and laid him to rest. That night he sat by Chakotay’s side, caressing dark locks till tiny eyes finally closed and slept.
The next morning the small boy seemed much more calm and resolved to his situation. When Tom asked him if he was still scared he was taken back when Chakotay said no.
“I saw Mama and Papa last night,” he said, his eyes shining that he believed it. “Then he talked about some of the things they did.
The next day, it was the same thing, Chakotay said he saw he parents at night, and for what ever reason, it kept him calm and was more than happy in his day on Voyager.
“I can’t believe how well he’s adjusted,” B’Elanna said, reflecting Tom’s thoughts.
“Neither can I,” Tom smiled. “But he says he meets up with his folks in his dreams. In fact, he thinks this is the dream,” he joked.
“I can’t believe how well ‘you’ve’ adjusted,” Harry teased. “Tom, I’ll-never-be-a-father Paris,” he said, his dark eyes sparkling at Tom’s expense.
Tom shifted and hugged his knees, looking down the beach at Chakotay and Naomi. “Well…I never did,” he said softly.
B’Elanna and Harry both caught the tone in Tom’s voice. It was B’Elanna who spoke first. “And now?” she asked just as softly.
Tom looked at his two best friends, his face blushed, “And now…perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing after all,” he said, knowing that was as far as he’d admit to them or himself.
Just then a scream filled the air…it was Naomi.
Tom was up and moving before thinking, with Harry and B’Elanna right behind them. Naomi was on her knees by Chakotay who was on the ground crying. Tom skidded up to the small boy and looked, Chakotay’s right leg was broken and compounded.
“He just fell down! I didn’t do anything!” Naomi screeched as tears flowed down her face from fear.
“Computer, lock on me and Chakotay’s life signs and emergency beam us to Sickbay,” Tom ordered. In seconds the two of them vanished.
“How could this happen?” Harry asked astonished as B’Elanna had her hands full of a crying Naomi. “The safeties are on?”
“I don’t know, but I want this suit evacuated and the program taken apart to find out!” snapped B’Elanna. “Torres to Wildman, we have a situation. Could you come to holodeck two,” she said as she stood up holding a very frightened little girl.
Tom, once again, stood vigil next to the tiny Chakotay, who now slept due to a sedative. Tom watched as the EMH fixed the leg with great skill. “I don’t know how this happened,” He heard himself saying again and again. “I ‘was’ watching him, they were just playing, Harry and B’Elanna were there too…I didn’t…”
The EMH interrupted him, “I am not accusing you, Mr. Paris. I just wanted to know the circumstances. From what you are telling me, this type of fracture is highly unlikely,” he replied. Then once he had the leg set and the devices that would start to heal the bones and muscle tissue in place, he ran some scans. “Hmm,” was all he said.
“What is it?” Tom asked, his nerves on edge.
“I am not sure yet. Give me a few minutes,” The Doctor said and moved off.
Tom looked up to see Janeway storm in.
“He was being watched,” he said in automatic defense. “We were on the beach, no rocks to climb, just playing ball, Harry and B’Elanna were with me,” he stated quickly.
“Then how did it happen?” she asked as she glared at Tom.
Tom realizing he didn’t like the accusing looks he got; his own hackles went up, “I don’t know, Captain. He was playing ball with Naomi then he fell down…that’s it. I would never do anything to put him in danger,” he snapped back.
“Children don’t just fall down and get compound fractures,” she snapped in retort to Tom.
“They do if they are suppose too,” the EMH interrupted. His word silenced both parties.
“What do you mean suppose too?” Tom asked a bit stunned by the Doctors words.
“Well, I wasn’t sure at first, so I had to go over Commander Chakotay’s medical records carefully. I have determined two things. One, apparently when he was seven he experienced this same trauma. For the exact, and I do mean exact, marking were present in him as an adult. Since it is my job to have a thorough medical history, I had the crew fill out medical histories. When the Commander was Seven he fell from a high cliff and fractured his leg, just as you see here.”
“What are you saying?” Janeway inquired. “That Chakotay is going to relieve accidents that occurred to him before now?”
“Essentially…yes. I also have detected that he is aging much faster than originally determined. At his current rate of growth, he’ll be eight with in four days. Thus, you may have you first officer back much sooner or not,” he replied.
“Clarify,” Janeway said dryly.
“If his body is reflecting his past, I’m sure his mind will too, but that will have to be determined through further examination,” the EMH stated.
“Then when he said he ‘was’ seeing his folks in his dreams…he, in a sense, really was?” Tom stated.
“To him…yes,” The Doctor replied. “This may be a good indication that his knowledge will return as well as his aging. Though, since I couldn’t detect the aging at first, my predictions of his current status could be off. He may age one year a week and stop at forty-two, in which case you have eight months three weeks, unless…”
“Unless what?” Tom asked, his concern filling his voice.
“Unless he doesn’t stop aging,” The Doctor replied.
“I want you to get a handle on this, Doctor,” Janeway ordered. “I want to know what to expect,” she snapped. Then she looked at Tom, her eyes filled with guilt. “I apologize,” she said softly. “It’s just when I heard…”
Tom was angry, “You assumed I was irresponsible,” Tom replied coolly.
Janeway squared her shoulders, “ I was wrong Tom. I should have kept my faith that you wouldn’t let any harm come to Chakotay. For that I’m sorry, but I like everyone else on this ship has…become very protective over him and Naomi…I hope you understand.”
Tom eased his anger, it took a lot for the Captain to admit she had been wrong. “I do understand very well,” he replied. Then he looked at the Doctor, “I think you and I should go over his medical records to see if there are any more serious child hood or otherwise injuries to expect to suddenly show up.”
“A most wise idea, Mr. Paris. This way I should be able to predict the time of their occurrence and be prepared for them, and so will the crew,” he replied.
“A good idea, gentlemen. Please, keep me informed,” Janeway replied. “Oh Tom, you may wish to inform B’Elanna and Harry of this matter, they totally took the holo suite off line believing there was a flaw in the safety program.”
“I will, Captain,” Tom said easily and watched Janeway leave. He looked down at the small boy who had captured his heart in only three days. //So, you may be back to normal soon? // He thought. //Well, perhaps this time around I can help bridge the gap between this wonderful out going young man and the stoic man in the future, // he thought with hope and a smile.
“Are you ready, Mr. Paris,” The EMH asked as he uploaded Commander Chakotay’s medical files.
One last look at the sound asleep boy and he smiled, “Yes, Doc. I’m ready.”
Tom woke up in the middle of the night, feeling something warm on top of him. It took a moment to notice that it was his little bear, Chakotay. He gave a soft chuckle, //Even the cast the doc put you in won’t stop you, // he smiled with amazement. He gently wrapped his arms around the tiny form and shifted the child to Tom’s right side and placed a blanket over him. //No, nothing will stop you now or when you’re grown, Chakotay, // he sighed warmly. //I can’t help but wonder how such a warm and loving child becomes such a closed man? // Tom thought. Then took another cleansing breath. //Sheesh, Chakotay. I adore and desire the man I don’t know while now I love the child you once were, in fact the whole ship adores you, // he smiled. //But I can’t deny it anymore, I love you. // He turned to look at the small sleeping child next to him. //Fate can be cruel…// *sighs * “We’ll get through this some how…together,” he whispered before trying to go back to sleep.
Tom walked down the hall to the mess hall with a very nervous eleven-year-old by his side. Though anyone looking at Chakotay, they wouldn’t see it anywhere, but Tom knew that the boy had quickly adopted the hands behind the back stance to deal with his nervous emotions. Tom smiled, “It’s going to be all right,” he assured the boy. Then got serious, “You don’t have to do this you know.”
Nervous dark eyes looked up to him, “I said I would, Tom,” Chakotay said, his face calm and collected. Then the fašade cracked as a smile crept through. “Besides, I do want too, I’m…well a bit scared,” he said softly.
Tom knelt down to be eye level with the young man, “You have nothing to be scared abut, Cha. You’re going to do great and I’m going to be there in the front row cheering you on all the way,” he smiled assuredly. Tom’s heart was warmed from the big hug the boy just gave him and watched as he continued down the hall and entered in the mess hall. Tom quickly followed and met up with Chakotay and Sue.
“I’m really proud of you, Tay,” she said warmly. “You’re going to knock them dead.” Then she gave an excited look to Tom and moved through the crowd to where a mock stage was made, with Chakotay behind her.
Tom sat next to Harry, B’Elanna, and Janeway in the front row that faced the stage. Tom knew he looked like a proud papa, for he was beaming with pride. His mind flashed back over the last three weeks. How he and Chakotay played games, talked on and on for the boy was filled with honest curiosity, and watched the crews attempts to adopt the boy every chance they got. It was during his visit with Sue Nicoletti that Chakotay discovered her guitar. She played it…he was hooked.
Tom discovered the boy had another talent besides quick learning, he loved music and had a beautiful voice. So, in the next several weeks, Tom played the piano and Chakotay learned to play the guitar and would sing. Then Sue got the bright idea of a recital for the young man, and though Chakotay was nervous, he welcomed the idea. He would play and sing, and then Tom and he would play the piece they had worked on for Sue as a thank you for teaching the boy, not that he really needed it for he seemed to know. Tom mused that Chakotay must have learned to play in the ‘other’ world, as they now referred to it now.
Tom watched as the young artistic soul moved on to a stool, placed the guitar strap around his shoulders and then let his eyes dance out to the audience. When Tom felt them lock on him, he could see the relief in Chakotay’s face, and watched proudly as he played, and sang with a heart full of passion and spirit. Tom was clapping along like everyone else, the beat was joyous and he saw everyone smile, //How can such a passionate spirit like his get so lost along the way? // He wondered for the hundredth time over the last few weeks.
After Tom and Chakotay finished their piece for Sue, the crew gave Chakotay a standing ovation. Tom gave the small boy a bow, and saw the blush creep along his face and Tom laughed warmly. The boy was talented. Tom watched as Sue ran up on stage and almost hugged Chakotay to death then tried to kiss Tom that way, but he easily avoided that.
The hall started to fill with food, a small banquet provided by Neelix as everyone circulated and shined their approval on the small boy, who was clinging between Tom and Naomi. Tom suddenly felt a pang in his heart. Naomi and Chakotay hit it off big time, even if there was no other children for her to play with, their bond was real. He then was glad to see that even as Chakotay was growing up week by week, he didn’t forget his friendship with the seven year old girl. Tom felt for the girl, she was going to watch her best friend grow up before her eyes, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. He wondered how much she understood, how much Chakotay understood, in fact how much he himself understood in this matter. Tom smiled to himself as he saw Chakotay take Naomi’s hand as more and more people pressed their way up to give their tidings on his wonderful performance.
“I never knew he was so talented,” Kathryn said behind Tom’s shoulder.
Tom turned and saw her amazement, “I don’t think anyone knew, Captain. Chakotay…Commander Chakotay did go to an awful lot of effort to keep himself hidden,” Tom replied.
Kathryn’s eyes looked distant, then troubled, “I’m starting to regret he did that,” she said softly. Then in record time hid the emotion and the Captain was back in full swing. “I just wanted to tell you, what a wonderful job you’ve been doing, Tom. I don’t think anyone’s ever seen him…or you so happy before. Keep up the good work,” she smiled then moved on.
Tom looked as he watched the back to his Captain move away. //She regrets turning him down on New Earth, // Tom Thought. //Well…you had your chance…I’m hoping for mine, // he hoped. Then he turned back and saw that Chakotay and Naomi had moved to the punch bowl and like a little gentleman, was getting his friend a drink. Tom folded his arms and smiled with pride, //Mama, Papa…you did a wonderful job with that boy! //
Tom had learned a lot about the young man known as Chakotay over the many weeks, the whole crew did. The most common comment was that they never knew this or they never knew that. Tom discovered that Chakotay’s love and talents fell in order of music, tactical strategies, and piloting. Tom realized after flying sims with the young man that if Chakotay’s heart was in it as much as Tom’s was, they’d be competition for one another. But the truth was, Chakotay loved music above all things, and the young man not only could play, and sing, but write too. Tom was moved and impressed to know this lost part of the stoic man that sat so alone on the bride so often not too long ago.
Tom learned almost first hand about the conflict Chakotay and his father were experiencing, for at night in Chakotay’s dreams, he was recalling…reliving his old life, while away, or sort of, he was with Voyager, which he started to think was the real dream part. Tom listened and even gave advice, but he knew he couldn’t change the course of events…they had happened already. That was another part that bothered Tom, like now, he had spent so much time with Chakotay in the infirmary, fixing broken legs, arms, fingers…major cuts and bruises…these were a life time of hurts, all coming down in days…weeks.
But as Tom now sat by Chakotay’s biobed, now twenty two in age and fighting for his life, he couldn’t help but recall in horror the events of the last few days, much less the last few hours…for now he knew…Tom knew why Chakotay hated…and became lost behind the stoic wall.
(Three days ago)
Tom was whistling as he hurried down the hall to meet up with Harry, B’Elanna and Chakotay for lunch. Since Chakotay, in his ‘other’ world was now a crewman three years out of the academy, since he entered to everyone’s amazement at age 15, he was given light duties to help out. He was still a Starfleet officer, and it seemed to help others adjust to how quickly he was changing, for it was quite literally watching the child grow into a man before one’s eyes. Everyone was amazed at how open and friendly Chakotay was at heart in the beginning, and how he maintained it.
Tom spotted the young man he had grown to love so much over the months, and quickened his pace to catch up. “Hey,” she smiled.
Chakotay turned around “Admiral?” he said shocked…then took a moment to recall. “Oh…Tom, sorry,” He laughed softly. “But you look so much like him.”
Tom looked puzzled, “Look like who?”
“The Admiral,” Chakotay replied, then realized that he hadn’t seen Tom all day (night in his mind) “Ah, Admiral Owen Paris. I was his pilot today…er…last night, you know what I mean,” he said, thank full that Tom did for otherwise things would be way too much to try and explain.
“You were my Father’s pilot?” he asked amazed, not realizing that his father and Chakotay had actually met.
“Yes, and his lovely wife, and…” he grinned. “That means that twelve year old boy was you,” he smiled.
“You mean we’ve met before?” Tom asked with amazement.
“Seems so,” he laughed. “I remember how polite you were and how you knew all about the controls, I was impressed. I was going to let you fly…but your Father ordered you back to your studies.”
Tom stopped, suddenly remembering back, the only time a Starfleet pilot had truly offered to let him fly was the trip from Venus to Earth…and thinking back…he did look like Chakotay. “Damn,” he smiled. “I just didn’t know,” he smiled. “Well, thanks…but what were you doing on Venus?”
“I told you, still doing advance pilot training, and assisting Commander Washington in his moderate tactical as a student instructor. The Admiral’s regular pilot took ill so I was temporarily assigned, though as far as I can remember to date, I didn’t see you again…I don’t think,” he replied, feeling a mixture of uneasiness and familiarity…he laughed. “This is weird.”
“Tell me about it,” Tom chuckled. “So, you flew my dad…how long?”
“I’m still doing it. Last night…this morning? Damn this is hard…anyway. This morning I flew him back to the Academy and have a few days on stand by, so I’ve looked up some old friends. In fact, I agreed to sing with Brian tonight…whatever…you know what I mean,” he laughed.
“Yeah, I do,” Tom smiled. “Too bad one can’t make a living at being a Musician, you’d make a fortune,” he smiled as the two headed again toward the mess hall.
“Tell me about it,” he laughed. “Oh, remind me after lunch to inform Naomi that I’ll be late for our music lesson. I got behind with some of the reports Tuvok wanted,” he grinned.
Tom laughed, for Chakotay was no better at his true rank of Commander then he was as an Ensign when it came to reports. Plus, he admired how he found a way to maintain a friendship with the young girl even as he was now all grown up. “Will do,” he smiled as the entered in side.
(Two days ago)
Tom was sitting in the bar with Harry when he saw Chakotay walk in with a smile and headed their way. Tom couldn’t get over the fact that he was now the one year younger than Harry when he got out of the academy and already held a Lt. Jr. rank. The Captain, doing her part to deal with this odd situation, agreed that Chakotay should hold the same rank he had…had in the other world, sort of speak, so not to confuse him. //Funny, yesterday he was an ensign and today…Lt. jr. grade,// Tom mused, thinking how fast Chakotay was moving up the ladder of command. //My Father would've been thrilled if I did it half at fast as he did, in real life,// he joked.
“Look Harry, now you can call him Sir again,” Tom teased his best friend, who had trouble calling Chakotay simply by his name.
“What!” Harry exclaimed not believing his eyes. “But…you were only an ensign yesterday?” Harry was feeling a bit slow witted, finding out that Chakotay was among a small handful that actually made it in the academy at a tender age of 15 and graduated with honors at 19 to see the man one year younger than he had been before he graduated and out ranked him…even now. Life was just unfair that way.
Chakotay gave a sheepish smile and called over the waitress and bought everyone a beer, “Well you forget, it’s been a lot longer for me over there than a day,” he smiled, giving his warm charming dimples a try in order to sooth his friend. “Besides, it was part of the transfer,” he said.
“Transfer? You back to piloting big wigs again?” Tom teased.
“Sort of,” he chuckled back. “I was transferred to Sol, but a good portion of my duty is flying standby for officials at Head Quarters and the Academy,” he smiled brightly.
“And that gives you more time with Brian,” Tom teased some more. One of the many startling revelations about Chakotay, was that Brian was his boyfriend. That was when Tom knew he had a chance, but he still felt like he couldn’t make a move for time was still slipping away from Chakotay and the Doctor wasn’t sure if it would stop when he hit his original age. Plus, as it was now, he knew Chakotay would see it as cheating on Brian, which was just how the man was, and Tom loved him even more for it. He just hoped that he had his chance before Chakotay remembered all the crap about him…Tom Paris royal screw up.
Chakotay blushed, “Yes, yes I do. Plus I have more free time to hang out at his club,” he smiled brightly.
“I don’t see why you're wasting your time as a pilot when you’re a fucking genius at tactical,” Harry stated. He, like Tom, had long since been one on with this young man, and they were friends.
Chakotay laughed, “I know,” he quipped in Paris fashion. “But…I…just don’t,” he said, as if understanding that he really didn’t have much control on the other world, like he understood to some degree of what he was told about being really Commander Chakotay, 42 year old man, who was just reliving his past at the present. “Oh, speaking of the club…guess who I saw there last night?” he asked in a you're-not-going-to-believe-this tone.
“I don’t know, Elves?” Tom teased back.
“No, your Father. Though I almost didn’t recognize him in civilian clothes, but I knew it wasn’t you so it had to be him,” he smiled.
“What?” Tom asked as some of his beer shot out over the table. “That’s not possible!” Tom stated it as if it were gospel.
“Tom, I wouldn’t make it up and I’m sure, though he did leave before I could say anything to him…and if I didn’t know you so well, I wouldn’t have recognized him all hanging in the shadows as he was,” Chakotay replied.
“Cha, I’m not saying you’d make it up, but that is just not possible. My Father, by-the-book Paris bleeds Starfleet regulations. He wouldn't…” Tom just shook his head, he couldn’t buy it, but he knew Chakotay wouldn’t lie. “Must have been someone who looked like him,” he said as the only possibility.
Chakotay seeing how this was upsetting Tom shrugged, “That’s possible, I didn’t actually talk to him, it could have been,” he said to pacify his friend, and it was possible. Then the rest of them moved on to much better topics of discussion…wine women, and songs.
(A few hours ago…present time)
Due to Chakotay’s sudden medical bouts of broken limb or deep gashes, Tom was still sharing quarters with the man. He was tired from a long shift as he entered and found his friend… //Funny how I do consider him my friend,// Tom thought warmly. Had dinner on the table.
“I knew you’d be late,” he smirked. Chakotay was in a dark red shirt and black pants for it was his day off and was looking sharp.
“Hey, got a date?” Tom teased, but he knew that Chakotay was still seeing Brian in the ‘other world’ of his life and so that wouldn’t be the case.
“Yeah, with you and a pool table, Smart-ass,” he laughed. “I think I’m ready to take you on tonight,” he gleamed.
Tom looked aloof, “Oh, you think so do you?” as he sat down to the vegetarian lasagna he was being served.
“Yep,” he replied.
Tom smiled as he dug in. “So how was your ‘day’ as well as your day,” he asked knowing that Chakotay knew what he meant.
“Ah great,” he replied as he too took a seat and started to eat. “On both accounts. It’s funny, that while I’m going to be playing pool, I’m also going to be performing with Brian tonight…at the club, pervert,” he added in a laughing manner, seeing the opening he had given Tom and slamming it shut fast.
Tom laughed so hard he started choking but was able to get it under control. “Water?” He asked.
Chakotay moved quickly and fetched the water and placed it down on the table. “You want some more wine?” he asked, “since I’m up, that is.”
Tom sipped the water and smiled, “If you're buying, sure thing.”
Chakotay moved back to the replicator and got the wine and was moving back to the table when he froze.
Tom who had been drinking the water saw from the side of his vision the man stop walking and turned to see that Chakotay’s face was stricken in fear and his eyes looked distant. He moved to his side at once and reached it as the glass of wine dropped and smashed on the floor as Chakotay let out a loud shout as if in pain and dropped to the ground his body convulsing.
Not knowing what was going on, Tom hit his com badge, “Medical emergency my location to sickbay” he ordered as he ran to Chakotay’s side. In seconds he felt the tingle of the beam encompass him and Chakotay.
Once in sickbay the EMH already being activated walked over to help Tom get Chakotay’s body that was now struggling weakly against some unknown assailant. “What happened?” he asked Tom.
“I don’t know. All was fine then he stopped, screamed in pain…then dropped and convulsed. Doc, what's happening?” he asked with major concern.
Just then Chakotay’s voice, though low could be heard, “Stop! Get off me!” he was trying to shout, but even his voice sounded off.
The EMH ran a medical scanner. “He seems to have been hit with a high electrical charge, not enough to knock him unconscious, but enough to keep him weak, almost passive,” he stated as he continued to read the scanners information. “His system has just been given…but that’s not possible, it’s illegal?” he stated.
“Stop!” Chakotay shouted as he continued to fight with the past that was his present.
“Chakotay, it’s okay, you're safe,” Tom said automatically, forgetting for a moment, that for Chakotay, that wasn’t the case. Then looked up at the EMH, “What?” he asked seeing the Doctors face.
“He’s showing signs of having Deheatherite,” The EMH said flatly.
Tom had been around long enough and in seedy places to have heard of that nasty illegal substance. It was known for placing people in aroused states while at the same time more passive…all too popular with those who liked to take advantage of the unsuspecting date. It was marked illegal and the use or the activities associated with it were constituted rape…for that was what it was plain and simple. That single thought suddenly terrified Tom as he looked to see Chakotay suddenly only able to whimper and cry as if under the effects of the drug…he was being raped.
Tom didn’t know what was going to happen next, he acted on instinct, he grabbed hold of Chakotay’s hand but there was a sudden shock that tingled throughout his body and was suddenly transported away…
“You know you like this, my beautiful song bird,” a voice was saying as hands were taking liberties of caressing his skin.
He couldn’t move, couldn’t think clearly, and his body hurt, it was dark, and he was alone…Tom realized he was seeing…feeling things from Chakotay’s point of view. As much as he wanted to help Chakotay, the emotions were too strong and too familiar to him from prison that he didn’t want to be here, but he couldn’t move.
“Oh, tonight you’re going to be mine, Song bird. All mine,” the voice rasped as strong but delicate fingers were undoing clothing by using a knife to cut them off. The coldness of the blade touched the skin on his chest, his thighs, then his hips…he was now naked and not able to do a thing about it.
“Stop, please,” Chakotay cried softly his voice almost gone from the drugs and the shock.
“Not till I possess all of you, Song bird. Not till I possess all of you,” the voice replied again.
Tom was hating every second of this, he was there first hand and second hand, unable to do a thing and screaming in his mind that he shouldn’t be here…it would be humiliating for his love as it was. But he couldn’t do a thing, just as helpless as Chakotay, and feeling just as much the victim. Then he saw the assailant and his mind curdled. //NO!// his mind shouted.
Tom was now twice as horrified, as he was now watching his own Father rape the man he loved. //Stop it! Leave him alone!// he cried out in his mind, but he couldn’t do a damn thing. //How can you do this you bastard! You sick fuck!// he shouted, but to no avail. He was having trouble remembering that this had happened, and it would happen again, and there was nothing he could do but helplessly watch the man he despised most in the universe harm the man he loved most.
The attack didn’t take long, though for both victims it was an eternity, but Owen Paris wasn’t done as he caressed the knife over Chakotay’s body. “Tell me you liked that, Song bird,” he asked in a voice that Tom thanked the heavens was nothing like his own. The bastard did look just like him at this age, except for minor differences…it could've easily been Tom.
Chakotay having found some unusual calm inside only looked back at his rapist, “No,” he croaked, for the drug was still in his system.
“Ah, my beautiful Song bird. What am I to do with you? I’ll give you a choice…be mine, and I’ll give you the world on a silver platter,” he purred as he still used the crude knife to caress Chakotay’s chest and face. “Say no, and…well, you’ll either be my Song bird or no ones,” he grinned evilly.
“I’d rather die,” he rasped, finding a sudden fire of courage after this humiliating situation, knowing that death was a very real possibility.
“Oh, no, Song bird. Not death,” he chuckled wickedly. I may be a nice guy, but I’m not that nice,” he smirked. Then he reached in his back pocket and pulled out a hypo. “I’ll give you one more chance to reconsider,” he stated causally. “Then I’m going to leave you, and don’t even think about going to the authorities, because, not only will I not leave any evidence, I have a titanium alibi,” he chuckled. “So, what will it be? I can give you anything you want…rank, position, and even power. All you have to do is agree to be mine and mine alone,” he stated again, his obsessive madness showing through.
“Go to hell,” Chakotay replied and found some reserved energy and actually managed to deck the guy, but in the end it exhausted him.
“You back-water scum!” Owen shouted and backhanded Chakotay across the face. “Well, if you won’t be mine, you won’t be anyone’s,” he growled dangerously. Then he viciously injected the substance of the hypo in Chakotay’s throat right on the larynx. “After tonight, you don’t exist to me, Song bird. Never again shall you exist!” Then he pulled another hypo out he injected his victim and watched.
Chakotay wanted to scream, the fire in his throat was beyond even what he just had experienced, but he couldn’t even make a sound. Then after feeling another hypo all he saw was Owen Paris…one of the most powerful men in Starfleet laughing at him. Taunting him how he knew that Chakotay would resign his commission tomorrow and run home with his tail between his legs, and that he’d never amount to anything, than darkness.
Tom jumped back, horrified, sweat beading down his face as the EMH grabbed him and placed him on a biobed too. “I…I saw,” was all he could say before he felt a hypo to his neck and he discovered darkness too.
Tom looked up from his position of holding the hand of the man he loved so much and wiped his tears away. //Heavens, Chakotay! No wonder you hated me so much. I not only had strike against me for all my shit, but I…I look like that bastard!// his mind shouted. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. He had been with Chakotay for hours after he came around and explained what he saw, though he didn’t mention who it was, he couldn’t…it was too personal. He was devastated to learn that his Biological sperm donor had quite literally fried out Chakotay’s larynx but sliced his throat and left to bleed to death, though it was obvious that the Doc had them repaired, Tom some how knew…knew that Chakotay would never sing again. Wouldn’t be able to free his soul the way he did since he was a child. His damn relation had caged that beautiful soul.
Tom looked around the now dark infirmary and wondered where the justice of this universe was. That the man he loved was injured…destroyed. That such a kind and beautiful soul would be allowed to be shattered like this. Tom suddenly felt that his own horrors didn’t match up, for his life was a hell, but it was his, and Chakotay didn’t deserve it, as he did. He wasn’t stupid in thinking he deserved the shit he got from his sperm donor, not after all these years. No, he was responsible for Caldik Prime, letting his life go, not fighting back, and then prison. But even in Prison he never was raped, he whored himself, but not raped, it was how he kept control. He felt his body shaking with anger.
His eyes caught a glimpse of his reflection in one of the consoles. His eyes locked on that face staring back at him. //Shit! I do look like him! No wonder he hates me…no wonder he hates me,// he started thinking than chanting. “No wonder he hates me…no wonder he hates me,’’ he said over and over again as he kept his eyes locked on his reflection. He seemed totally unaware of his movements toward the cabinet near the same console, or the fact that he broke in to it and gathered the electronic scalpel in his hand, or the fact that he started using it on his face before he blacked out.
“What the hell happened!” Janeway found herself shouting to the EMH. “Why would he do such a thing? And what does this have to do with Chakotay’s latest injury? And more important, Doctor, just what is it you are not telling me?”
The Doctor looked back and forth between the head of security and the Captain. There was no question that she was mad as hell and wanted answers, patient confidentiality be damned. “Like I stated before, Captain. While I was treating Lt. Chakotay, Mr. Paris had grabbed his hand and while I was scanning there was an electrical charge that flowed between the two men. It lasted the length of Mr. Chakotay’s…incident. When it appeared that the main event, as it were, was over, Mr. Paris was able to let go and focus, stating that he saw. I took it to be that he saw what was occurring to Lt. Chakotay. I had sedated them both at this point. I have submitted a full injury report and Mr. Paris received none that I was able to tell. When he awoke, he had a ‘private’ conversation in regards to what occurred to Mr. Chakotay. But he didn’t reveal as much as I presumed he knew, for reasons I can only suspect. Then he was upset, but didn’t appear to be beyond normal parameters.”
“Tom was upset about what happened to Chakotay, why…why?” Janeway couldn’t fathom what would possess the young handsome man to butcher himself so.
“I can not answer that question at this time, Captain. I was able to repair the damage done, but he still will need some time for the new skin and muscle tissue to heal, thus the bandages. I have not found any outside influences to his behavior, thus I must assume it is related to what he and Lt. Chakotay have experienced. I didn’t know if the Lieutenant would follow suit of Mr. Paris, so another reason I have kept him sedated,” the Doc added.
“Again, what happened to Chakotay? I can tell from the report he was attacked, but I’m definitely getting the impression that you are leaving stuff out, Doctor, and under the circumstances, I don’t find that acceptable,” she growled, stabbing the report back to the EMH to show her anger as well. “Two of my men are down, one attacked, the other by his own hand. I want to know what happened and I want to know now!”
“Very well, but I do so under protest,” the EMH replied dryly.
“Apparently, at age twenty-two, Mr. Chakotay was raped. Since he never mentioned it in the medical history I had asked for, nor was there anything in his Starfleet file, I am presuming that it went unreported, at least the rape. The assault was listed, though there was little information, only that the assailant was never caught and the case closed.
“Why wouldn’t he report the rape?” Janeway asked, though deep down believed she understood.
“That would not be a surprising reaction from someone like the Commander,” Tuvok said. “Males, human males especially, define their manhood, their identity with their sexuality, especially at this age. He must of found a way to deal with the matter, for he become an accomplished officer and is an excellent Commander.”
Janeway gave a small smile, for she was use to Chakotay and Tuvok butting heads, so she knew that Tuvok’s comment would have surprised her friend. “Okay, that makes sense. But how does what happened to Chakotay effect Tom?”
“At this point it would be pure speculation, but perhaps, when Lt. Paris was connected to what was occurring to the Commander, he shared some of the emotional trauma,” Tuvok suggested.
“That is very possible,” the EMH replied. “Again, the reason I kept Mr. Chakotay sedated, in case Mr. Paris was reflecting the actions that…”
“You think Chakotay would…butcher his own face?” Janeway asked astonished and in disbelief.
“I am not certain, Captain. Though I do not detect any evidence that would suggest that he did do such a thing, the possibility is still there. Until we are ready to deal with the matter, I thought it best to keep them under,” the Doctor said with a slight holographic sigh, since he’s been saying the same thing for well over five minutes now.
“Very well,” Janeway resided. “Can Chakotay be woken up?”
“Yes, now if you like,” the EMH replied as he moved to get the hypo that would do the trick. With the okay from Janeway he administered it to the young man.
Janeway stood close and watched as Chakotay opened his eyes, first there was a start, then he focused. She couldn’t help but notice the distinct loss of luster in his dark eyes, like a fire had been extinguished, and her heart ached for her friend. “How you feeling?” she asked gently.
“I’m fine, Captain,” he replied dryly, his voice a bit raspy. “I’m tired though.”
“Chakotay…I…I know what happened,” she said carefully. By the look in his eyes, she wasn’t sure if admitting it now wasn’t a mistake. He seemed afraid, and angry, and unsure as to what she could be referring to.
“What do you mean?” he asked with some hesitancy.
Janeway took a deep breath, she didn’t want to do this, but she knew she had to. “I know you were attacked, and I know…I know you were raped.”
“No I wasn’t,” he snorted with a mild laugh, but the lie was too clear on his face.
“I wasn’t!” he shouted, then his breathing became labored and the Doctor was by his side in seconds with a sedative ready, but the Captain stayed him off.
“The Doctor and Tom were here, they know what happened,” she stated in a gentle but firm tone.
“Tom?” he asked somewhat surprised and angry.
“Yes, Tom. He was here and something happened. We…I need you to help…clarify some things” she asked, not sure of how to proceed.
Chakotay turned away from Janeway, but in doing so he spotted a form laying very still on another biobed, their face covered in bandages. His dark eyes widened, “What…what happened?”
The Doctor moved in view, “Apparently during your ordeal, Tom was holding your hand, and while I was scanning, there was an electrical pulse that surged between the two of you. It seems he witnessed your situation first hand. Several hours later when I thought he would be all right, he proceeded to take a scalpel to his face. He passed out from the shock of the damage and the blood loss. Had I not been on another emergency, I’m sure I could of prevented it, but…”
“That’s enough, Doctor. Chakotay, did you…would you…do that…to yourself?” Janeway asked The stress in her eyes made it clear that she was just as uncomfortable with this line of questioning as Chakotay was.
Chakotay looked back at the silent form of Tom and back at the Captain, “No. I don’t think so, and its…its been a few days on the other side,” he answered, then became withdrawn. Janeway, Tuvok, and the EMH asked a few more questions, but Chakotay just laid there, his eye filled with strong emotions of hate, anger, pain, sorrow, and much confusion. He eventually fell asleep on his own, but the Doctor gave him a sedative as a preventive measure.
“Unfortunately, this means we’ll have to wait till Tom comes around, then perhaps we’ll be able to find out what happened,” Janeway said, the tiredness in her voice reflected her look. “I’ll be in my ready room, Doctor. I want a constant watch on these two, and I want to be notified as soon as Tom's able to answer some questions, got it?”
It was late and sickbay was dark, as Chakotay sat on the edge of his biobed, and stared at the silent form nearby. He knew the Doctor was nearby, but he needed to think, and lying down wasn’t helping. For him, the nightmare had occurred weeks ago, and the case closed, mostly because he wouldn’t push the issue. He knew Owen Paris wasn’t lying about being able to keep himself pure and pristine in the eyes of the world, but he was wrong about Chakotay. Where he was seriously considering leaving Starfleet and settling in with Brian, this incident, or more precise, the bastard’s words that he just knew that Chakotay would go running home like a curbed dog changed his mind. Well, if he couldn’t get satisfaction of justice, he’d be damned if he'd let Paris be right about that.
The personal pain of losing his voice, the nightmares of Owen laughing at him, and the withdrawn attitude was quickly too much and Brian left him, this of course didn’t help matters. Chakotay was coming close to letting the bastard win when one of his instructors offered him another path. Chakotay jumped at the chance to leave Earth and study tactical as a student aid to one of the renowned strategists, Captain Sulu. The rest of his life…his past, was still unfolding, but he was now here…on Voyager and had another problem to deal with.
He had new memories, those of a sweet loving young man, that gave his all to love, protect and keep him happy. A young man that a big part of him was falling in love with, but in the other world he was with Brian…it was so confusing. Now the man he loved bore the face of the man he hated, and couldn’t stand, how was he going to deal with it. With a heavy sigh, he let the tears of frustration, pain, and anguish fall. He believed he knew why Tom had done what he did, especially if he saw first hand what happened. He saw his father as a first class monster, and couldn’t bear seeing the resemblance…hell Chakotay couldn’t stand thinking of the resemblance, and he didn’t have to live with it. Apparently, Tom didn’t want to either. //How am I going to help him, if I can’t even help myself?// he wondered. It was like living two different lives at the same time, one in which he knew he was in full denial of the event. Even using it to spurn him forward to learn self-control, discipline, and more ways to defend himself. He had always been an athlete, but he would go on to learn more and more, anything so he could predict such things and prevent them or kick some serious ass. But in this life, that was the past, or a dream, here he was safe on a Starship, with friends but…but. //Spirits!// his mind cried. //What am I to do? How can I help him when I can’t bare to look at him?// he cried silently. //I mean, I know it wasn’t him, couldn’t ever be…but…oh Spirits! Why?//
A soft moan broke through the silence and Chakotay looked up to see that Tom was waking up. He looked and saw the Doctor was busy with another patient on the other side of sickbay, then looked back at the waking figure. He summoned as much courage as he could, remembering that this was Tom and nothing like his father. He moved closer and stood next to Tom and watched the young man struggle for consciousness. He let his mind go to his current past, the one where Tom tucked him in at night, carried him around on his shoulders, just because, and never once was cross at him. A small smile made it’s way to Chakotay’s face, as he recalled how Tom encouraged him in his music, his flying, all his dreams, and listened when he was at his wits end with his father. He closed his eyes and recalled how it was Tom that made the two lives not only bearable, but fun, safe, and easier for him to deal with. Tom was always there, always in his corner, always loving him without any demands…//Spirits, give me the strength to give what I was freely given,// he prayed. It was strange, he thought he heard a familiar calling inside him, a voice that he didn’t know, but knew he would. Again he closed his eyes and listened with a new intensity he didn’t know he had. ~~ the eyes of a child see truth ~~ when he opened his eyes, he was sure the Spirits had actually answered him. //Father would be pleased, // he smiled and looked down and found only the man who was there from the beginning…Tom.
Tom’s first words were, “I’ll kill you, you bastard,” it was enough for Chakotay to know that Tom was still trapped in the past.
“Tom, Tom, wake up, it’s over, Tom,” he soothed, “I’m here, I’m okay, so are you…Tom.”
He saw Tom start to blink and his blue eyes start to focus then look around a bit confused, but when he turned and saw Chakotay his eyes quickly pained and tears shed, “I’m sorry,” he whispered, the guilt profound in his eyes.
“Tom, you have nothing to be sorry for,” Chakotay responded. “It wasn’t your fault, there was nothing you could have done, it’s over, Tom. It’s over, and I’m here…with you, okay?”
Tom closed his eyes, “Don’t look at me,” he sobbed, the disgust of his appearance filled his voice.
“Stop that, Tom. You are Tom, not anyone else…I know that, you know that, please stop this,” Chakotay pleaded.
“What seems to be the matter?” the EMH asked as he walked into the room, seeing Tom turning away from Chakotay, asking him not to look at him.
Chakotay felt the pangs of past hurt and pride with the present need to help Tom, he took a deep breath and faced the EMH. “You know that I was raped, but what no one knows and as far as I’m concerned no one outside this room will either, was that it was Owen Paris that did it. Tom saw it and unfortunately there is a strong resemblance to his father. The only thing I can suggest is that both of us get counseling on the matter and it is also kept private.”
The Doctor may have been a bunch of subroutines, but he couldn’t help but smile, the young man sounded very much like Commander Chakotay than he had in months. “Well, since our ‘resident councilor happens to be Commander Chakotay, and you don’t fit the bill at the moment and are involved, I can either suggest myself or Commander Tuvok.”
Chakotay looked surprised, “ Me?” then shook it off, that was the future and he couldn’t deal with that at the moment. “Whatever you think is best,” Chakotay replied.
Tom had heard the confession and was amazed that Chakotay had done so. He was first angry that he would share the shame of the situation, but the more rational side of him came clear that he spoke up so he and Tom could get the help they would need…that he wasn’t pushing Tom away in disgust. “Why?” is all he could ask.
Chakotay turned and looked deep into blue eyes he knew so well, and though there were inklings of a haunted past, the young man was determined to only see the man he cared about. “Tom, you’ve always been there for me, and I ‘know’ that you are nothing like him…I don’t want what happened to get between us…and…and if we don’t work it out, it will.” Then Chakotay lost his composure, “Shit Tom, you…took a scalpel to your beautiful face!”
Tom was so confused, “Beautiful? How can you call this…”
“Because is it! Because it is Tom’s face, no one else’s, and I refuse to let it be anything else!” Chakotay replied with emotional conviction.
“Gentlemen, I believe you both have been through enough for the moment. I want you both to rest and I will arrange with Commander Tuvok the counseling I know you both need,” The EMH stated as he escorted the young Chakotay to his biobed. Then he moved over next to Tom and did a medical scan.”
“Did you fix it?” Tom asked in a weak voice.
“Yes, Mister Paris. I fixed the damage, and yes, you look like you did before. Knowing what I know now does shed a lot of light on your actions, but they were still not rational. Mister Chakotay’s suggestion of you both seeking counseling in this matter is very wise,” he replied then moved to gather a hypo and administer it to Tom. “Get some rest,” he stated, knowing the sedative was already working.
Then the Doctor moved back to Chakotay and scanned him, “Hmm,” was his response.
“It seems that your aging process has increased, though I’m not sure at the moment by how much and how this will effect you,” he stated.
“Just great,” Chakotay retorted. “If its not one thing its another.” He was then actually glad for the sedative the Doctor was suddenly giving him, he couldn’t stand too much more bad news and welcomed the dreamless sleep.
The next few weeks were full of emotional stress for everyone, especially Tom and Chakotay. The counseling sessions were very helpful, but Chakotay was aging much faster and was almost back to his own age before things started, but the aging in his body didn’t show any signs of slowing down. With the Commander’s regular memories, Tom discovered that he was right, that much of the anger and hatred he had felt from the man was because of what happened, but was touched to see how hard Chakotay fought for both of them to shed the dark past between them.
Though some of Chakotay’s old habits of being distant were back, there was no way Tom could be blocked out. For Tom knew what was going on inside that head just by looking in those deep dark brown eyes, and was always glad to see he was never rejected when he did so. But much like himself, he saw that Chakotay was no longer the same person from all that had occurred, he had more life to him that refused to be hidden, even if old habits tried to force it.
Tom walked in the quarters that he and Chakotay had been sharing all this time, never once thinking on changing the arrangement, and saw the big man sitting on the sofa, looking distant and pained. Tom didn’t hesitate, he sat down next to the man he cared about, and placed an arm around him, “What’s wrong?”
Chakotay looked at Tom, though they did nothing to physically express it, the truth of the love they shared for one another became quite clear during the counseling sessions, and the proof of how strong it was became clear every day he looked in Tom’s eyes. Chakotay had purposely held off any intimate relations due to not knowing what would happen next, for during the last few weeks he spent a lot of time in the infirmary for one reason or another…all his ‘accident’s’ were catching up with him. The concern in those sky blue eyes touched his soul and he reached out and caressed the face of the man he loved, knowing he could tell him anything, “I love you, Tom” he whispered. “But…but I’m afraid.”
Tom saw the fear and the concern, “of what?” Though inside he knew of what.
“The Doctor just informed me that as of today I was officially forty-two, and I haven’t stopped aging. At this rate…”
“I don’t care if you’re a hundred and twenty, I love you!” Tom declared and hugged Chakotay tightly. He too was afraid of what was happening, but this was the only way he knew how to fight it.
Chakotay wrapped his arms around Tom’s slim body, “I know, my love, I know,” he whispered. “All we can do is take things one day at a time…”
Tom looked up into the face he adored, “Cha, let me love you?” he asked softly. “Let us spend every moment we can being together the way we want to be, in each others arms…please?”
Chakotay caressed Tom’s face, then his lips. He answered Tom by lowering his face and letting his own lips caress Tom’s then let the kiss take on a life of its own. He pulled Tom closer to him and let his hands touch and hold the body he so longed for. The strength of the love between the two men filled the room as their bodies intertwined in passionate desire of one another. “I love you, pooka,” Chakotay whispered as he gathered Tom up in his arms and started to carry him to the bedroom.
“And I love you, my little bear,” Tom smiled in return.
Chakotay sat on the edge of the biobed, remembering that it was only a few days ago when he and Tom made love for what was to be their first and last time. He saw the Doctor in the distance, //If he apologizes one more time, collection of lights or not, I’m going to strangle him!// he growled to himself. Then he took one look at his aged hands and gave a sour smirk, “yeah, right ‘old’ man,” he said to himself.
The Doctor thought he had a way of stopping the aging and Chakotay agreed to the treatment, knowing there were risks, and it backfired. He was now between sixty and seventy, and getting older every hour. He flat right ordered Tom out of sickbay, for he couldn’t stand to see the pain in Tom’s eyes watching him die…and that was what was happening. He also couldn’t stand to let Tom see him this way. Apparently he was getting more prideful and stubborn with his age too. The only good thing was there were no more surprise injuries, for he had passed his past and now what ever happened was the natural deterioration of old age. He sat here now, wondering just how long he should prolong it…eighty, hundred? He wasn’t sure.
“Commander, again…” The EMH stopped his sentence seeing the dark glare he was getting from Chakotay. “Well, I haven’t given up,” he finished. “There is someone here who wishes to see you,” he stated.
“I told you, I don’t wish to see Tom or any of the crew,” he growled.
“Well, since she is not an official member of the crew, I didn’t think your request applied to her,” The Doctor replied, knowing full well it was a technicality he was playing on. But Chakotay was losing hope and he needed to keep the man’s spirit from failing.
The Doctor moved to another door and then let it open revealing a young Naomi Wildman who ran in quickly up to Chakotay and took his hand. “Don’t be scared, Little Bear,” she said in her soft high pitched voice.
Chakotay was touched, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” he asked, wondering how this small child was coping with what was a few months ago her best friend and now was an old man.
“Why? You’re my friend, Little Bear,” she smiled. “We promised to remain friends for ever, didn’t we?” she asked innocently.
“Yes…yes we did,” he smiled.
“You kept your promise, and I’m keeping mine,” she said, a few tears falling down her cheek. “Mommy says that you may have to go away soon, and I don’t want you to, but…”
Chakotay knew all too well just how much this little girl understood death from living on a starship. “I don’t want to leave, Little Bird. But…”
“Then don’t,” she snapped back, as if it was that simple.
As Chakotay stared down in her young innocent eyes, he wondered if it was just that simple, to just refuse to die. “I will do what I can,” he replied, not wanting to make a promise he wasn’t sure he could keep, and though his body ached, he reached down and picked Naomi up and gave her a deep hug. “Thank you,” he said.
Hugging Chakotay tightly, “For what?”
“For being one of my best friends,” he replied, as a tear fell down his face, thinking of another best friend he had recently pushed away.
“Oh, Little Bear, that was easy,” she smiled.
“Yeah, Little Bear, that part is easy,” another voice said from behind them.
Chakotay turned to see Tom, his arms folded protectivly around his chest, unsure of how his presence would be greeted. He realized that he was only hurting the man he loved by pushing him away, and the truth of the matter was, they didn’t have much time…he shouldn’t waste it being stupid. “Group hug,” he said softly, glad to see Tom’s eyes sparkle with joy as he moved over and the best friends all hugged.
“Ah,” the Doctor said as he walked back into the room, not really wanting to disturb the scene, but medical purposes were first priority. “I believe I have discovered what I did wrong. If you're willing Commander?” he asked, knowing it was still a risk either way.
Chakotay looked at Tom and then little Naomi then back at the Doctor, “Of course, Doctor. Far be it for me to give so easily,” he smiled.
“Then I’m going to have to ask your friends to step outside while I administer the treatment,” the EMH replied.
Tom helped Naomi down and gave Chakotay a deep look, trying to express all his heart in that one look. Then he walked with Naomi out of sickbay and waited in the other room where the Captain, Harry, B’Elanna, and several others had just joined him.
“What’s going on?” Janeway asked, after she found the doors to sickbay closed to her.
“The Doc said he had another treatment for Chakotay, and I guess he didn’t want anyone to disturb him during the process,” Tom replied, trying to capture his whimsical tone, but failing.
“Little Bear is strong, Captain,” Naomi stated with conviction and to ease her.
Janeway smiled at the child, and the memory of two small children that had touched her heart no too long ago. “I know he is,” she replied softly.
Harry and B’Elanna walked up and gave Tom their quiet support, but it didn’t help much when Chakotay’s voice came bellowing out in an agonizing scream. Tom was at the door trying to knock it down, trying every code he could think off, and even the Captain’s code didn’t work. Harry and B’Elanna both had to hold him back as Janeway held a crying Naomi who kept asking what was happening to her friend that made him keep screaming like that.
The moment lasted for only a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Then the medical doors opened and the small group pushed their way in and saw the EMH standing over the biobed. He turned and looked concerned. “I think I overdid it,” he stated flatly, concern full in his eyes.
Tom sat on the beach in his dark trunks, watching little Naomi chasing after the beach ball and running through the water. He was slightly startled as Harry and B’Elanna came and sat down next to him.
“Hey, Flyboy. How you doing?” She asked warmly as Harry started placing suntan lotion on her back, not that it was needed, he just liked doing it.
Tom gave a small smile, “I’m doing pretty good,” he replied softly.
“You looked a million light years away,” she stated.
“Just thinking,” he said in return.
“Of what?” Harry asked.
“Oh, just how delicate life can be sometimes,” he smiled. “And that we all should really look at life with the eyes of a child, this way we can truly appreciate the universe around us and all its wonders,” Tom replied warmly.
“The philosophic Flyboy,” B’Elanna teased.
Just then the beach ball hit Tom in the head and it snapped him out of his distant mood. “Hey!”
A shadow loomed over him, “What ‘s the matter, Pooka. Forget how to have fun?” Chakotay quipped at he took the beach ball and bounced it off Tom’s head again.
Tom gave a playful growl, “I’ll show you fun,” he smirked and then sprang from his spot and the chase was on.
Harry laughed as well as did B’Elanna. “Damn, talk about lucky,” Harry said. “First he gets to relive his childhood, then almost dies of old age, and now…he has all his memories, plus some new ones and he’s the same damn age he was when we first got here, what…36?”
“Don’t think it was a smooth ride, Starfleet,” B’Elanna replied warmly.
“No, I didn’t say that. Only that Chakotay and Tom are lucky.”
“Yeah, I think that’s what Tom was trying to tell us a few moments ago,” she smiled and kissed Harry. “And we are too,” she added just before a beach ball hit her in the head. “Who threw that?” she demanded.
“He did,” Tom and Chakotay said pointing to the other one and then both ran as B’Elanna gave Chase. Chakotay grabbed up Naomi and headed out to the water, knowing how the half-Klingon hated the seawater. This left poor Tom to dodge her wraith, which he did easily.
Many hours later, everyone was settled down around a bonfire. Harry held a sleeping B’Elanna as he stared at her, the fire and the night sky the program had provided. Then he looked over and saw the most adorable sight. Chakotay was holding a resting Tom who was holding a sleeping Naomi. The moment was perfect and he committed to memory as he closed his eyes. Then he heard something he didn’t think he’d ever hear again…Chakotay. It was low, but it was definitely his voice as he sang a soft lullaby, and Harry smiled again at how blessed his friends had been.
Tom looked up amazed to hear that Chakotay had his voice back. He didn’t have to say a word, the answers were all in Chakotay’s eyes. Chakotay had gotten his voice back a long time ago, but he lost that part of his soul that let him use it, and now…now it was back. Tom could see the love and the gratitude in Chakotay’s dark eyes. He smiled and leaned back into his love's arms and closed his eyes and let the memory of those dark eyes take him back to when he first really saw them…when they belonged to a child.