Title: Second Chances|
Author: KayTrek (KayTrek@yahoo.com)
Rating: R overall
Fandom: Voyager, minor DS9 crossover
Archive: Cha_Club, VSPS, ATPS, Tom Paris Dorm, anyone else ask first
Disclaimer: Star Trek and everything related is owned by Paramount/Viacom, this is just a not-for-profit fun fic.
Dedicated to: CatHeights, beta extraordinare
Summary: Ten years after Voyager returned home, Chakotay is released from prison, and he and Tom deal with some demons from their past.
Tom stood at the gate of the maximum security prison on Kappa Prime.
The years in between had been long and hard, but today was the anniversary of Voyager's return to Earth, ten years ago. That meant today was the day Chakotay would be released, and nothing in the universe could have prevented Tom from being here this day.
Tom ignored the glares he was receiving from the gate guards. He might not be allowed inside, but there was no law saying he couldn't wait outside the gates. He had dealt with prison guards before, sixteen years ago, in Auckland. Oh, they might not have been the hulking brutes used here on Kappa Prime, but he knew the type, and knew the best thing was to ignore them and bide his time. It was nearing sunset. Chakotay would be coming out soon, and Tom intended to be waiting.
Finally, in the twilight, the gate opened, and several people walked out. Bajorans, a Kilgilian -- where was Chakotay? And then one final figure emerged, silhouetted in the sunset. Tom's breath caught. It was Chakotay, he knew it from the tall, proud frame, the upright carriage of the shoulders. Then the form started forward, and Tom gasped.
The ten years had definitely taken a toll on the once robust Commander. Away from the sun's silhouette, the shoulders were not as broad or as proud as Tom remembered. If anything, they were stooped from hard labor. Precious weight had been lost -- Tom had thought that Chakotay was rangy in the Maquis, only gaining his proper, muscled form on Voyager, but in comparison, Chakotay was simply gaunt now. The face was drawn, the hair almost all silver. As Chakotay drew nearer, not seeing Tom in the shadows, Tom's heart dropped as he saw the haunted look in the former rebel's eyes.
Tom stepped forward, unable to bear this apparition of his former Commander another moment.
"Chakotay? Chakotay, I came to meet you," Tom said softly, stepping out into what light was left from the dying sun.
Chakotay froze as Tom stepped before him. His eyes slowly raked over the lean form before him. The ten years had taken a toll on Tom as well, but not in the same manner as Chakotay. If anything, Tom's form was more solid, not so slim, hard-earned muscle through the shoulders and chest. The stance was more confident, evidence of a long-fought battle for his self-assurance finally won. The eyes were no longer as brightly blue, the fair hair shot with grey as well, but all in all, Tom was definitely the one in better shape.
"Tom?" Chakotay said in a voice worn from the years.
"Yes, Chakotay. I came to meet you."
"Because someone should be here. So I came. I met some of the others, too. Some, like B'Elanna, and Dalby, wouldn't even speak to me. But Geron, I took him to Bajor. And I took Ayala back to the DMZ. I'll take you wherever you want to go," Tom stated softly, not wanting the man to reject him, to push him away, as too many of the others had.
"Why?" Chakotay asked again.
"Because I was the lucky one. And because I have a ship. And because I, at least, still remember," Tom said in the same soft voice, and held out a hand.
Chakotay simply stood still for a moment, studying the man before him. And then reached out, and took his hand.
Tom grinned and said, "Come on, let's blow this popstand. We can be off planet in an hour."
"An hour too long," was all Chakotay said, and he followed Tom into freedom.
Chakotay took in Tom's ship with an appraising eye. Even after 10 years, he still knew ships, and from the outside, Tom's wasn't much to look at. A light freighter like too many others he had seen in the DMZ, converted for use by the Maquis in lieu of anything else suitable. But he also knew that under such nondescript exteriors there were often surprises, and he suspected that Tom Paris' ship had a lot of surprises.
Tom had said nothing since he had started to lead Chakotay to the port. In truth, for the first time in years he found himself feeling unsure. Too many of the Maquis had blamed him for what had happened, as if he had had any control over what had happened when Voyager had come home. He had been the lucky one, he reflected to himself. He hadn't been sent back to prison; he had been released due to his "cooperation" in the capture of the Maquis. Nevertheless, Starfleet hadn't wanted him.
Chakotay and the other Maquis were hit hard, though. Lingering resentment in the Federation over the war that was still thought, in part, to have been forced on the Federation by the Maquis caused Chakotay and others to become scapegoats. So, they were sent to prison for treason, Chakotay being given the longest sentence of all.
Tom internally shook himself, as he opened the hatch on his ship. Chakotay was free now, and Tom would see to it that he had a chance to lead the rest of his life in peace. He would not dwell on the past, nor allow Chakotay to do so.
"Well, it's not much, but it will get us out of here," Tom said, grinning, as he hopped through the hatch and motioned Chakotay to enter.
"Trust me, Paris, that is all I care about right now," Chakotay responded in a harsh voice, and entered Tom's sanctuary.
Tom stood in the corridor by the hatch and motioned aft. "There are a couple of cabins back there -- pick one, and get cleaned up, why don't you. I'm going to boost off and set course, and then I'll meet you in the galley. It's not much, but I've got some fresh vegetables, and I've turned into a pretty fair cook."
"Sounds good," Chakotay responded in the same worn tone he had used on the planet, and proceeded aft.
Tom mused the current situation over as he headed for the small bridge of the Nevermore and set course. Just the sound of Chakotay's voice told him how much had changed -- it was lower, gravely, and certainly not as strong and confident as it had sounded in the past. Tom just hoped that some time away from prison would help. Because he didn't know how else to help his former Commander regain the ground he had lost over ten years in prison.
Off planet, course set, Tom kicked in the autopilot and headed for the galley. He had made sure he had laid in some fresh fruits and vegetables. He knew Chakotay had been, at least, a vegetarian. Even if he had bowed to the inevitable in prison, accepting the needed protein calories, Tom knew fresh food would be welcome.
He found himself lost in thought, chopping and dicing, when Chakotay came into kitchen. He looked up, and smiled. Just the shower and change of clothes seemed to peel away a few years, and Chakotay looked taller, more confident. Tom began to hope things would work out well after all.
"What are you making?" Chakotay asked, moving to watch Tom.
"Just a salad, some cut up stuff on the side. Anything in particular you want? I've got a good replicator," Tom responded, starting to put dishes on the small table.
"As long as it isn't prison food, I don't care," Chakotay said, sitting down and starting to help himself.
Tom got juice for them and joined Chakotay at the table.
"You were the last person I expected to see there," Chakotay suddenly said into the silence the meal had been proceeding in.
"As I said, Chakotay, I didn't forget," Tom said neutrally, taking another bite of salad.
"You said you met the others?" Chakotay said, glancing up at Tom.
"Yup. But a lot of them didn't want a thing to do with me. B'Elanna slapped me, knocked me down, and stomped over me. Dalby spit in my face," Tom said, keeping the matter-of-fact tone despite the pain of the memories. He wanted to keep an even keel until he could figure out just how affected Chakotay was by the past ten years.
"They blamed you . . . " Chakotay said, not finishing the thought.
"Yah, they blamed me, Chakotay. Not all of them, but some of them. Ayala was just glad for a familiar face, and a ride. Geron, he just wanted Bajor again. He was the only one who said he knew it wasn't my fault, that I had no control over what happened when we came home," Tom said, pain beginning to seep into his voice despite himself.
"Why would you?" Chakotay asked, clearly perplexed. "Kathryn was the only one who could have had any effect on what happened, and she chose not to." The bitterness of that betrayal was evident in his voice.
"Because of who my Dad was, and because I didn't do any more time. Doesn't make sense, I know, Dad and I barely spoke two words when I got home, particularly when he discovered I had a Maquis lover. And my lack of prison time had to do with the deal I made when I boarded Voyager as an observer. About the only promise Starfleet remembered to keep," Tom explained.
"But in their bitterness, all they remembered was that you were a Starfleet brat, and that you didn't go to prison like the rest of the Maquis," Chakotay responded, immediately grasping what had gone through the minds of his former crew.
"Exactly." Tom made a bitter face and continued with the meal.
"Yet you came," Chakotay said, watching Tom's response closely.
"I wanted you all to know that someone remembered, that there was someone from Voyager who still cared what had happened to all of you," Tom said softly, looking up into warm brown eyes. Tom knew that Chakotay understood, even if none of the others had.
"I appreciate that, Tom. I didn't think anyone would," Chakotay said, and looked down to continue his meal.
"Well, the first few years I couldn't be here," Tom confessed, "but most had longer sentences than that. After I got my own ship, I made a point to be here."
"How did you get the ship?" Chakotay asked, wisely steering the conversation to safer ground.
"Earned it," Tom said, grinning. "I worked whatever pilot jobs I could get, the riskier the better. A lot of people starting up shipping on the fringes, were worried about the risks, and were glad to get a pilot of my experience. They didn't care about Maquis, or Starfleet, just if I could get the ship through and earn them money. And I got smart quick and started demanding bonuses for safe passages, and quick ones. As soon as I could, I bought a ship, and went into business for myself."
"How long have you had her?" Chakotay asked, curious as to what Tom had done with the proceeding ten years.
"This one? The Nevermore? About three years. I got my first about two years after we got home, not much of a ship, but after a few smart shipments to colony worlds, I dumped the heap. Had a small, fast courier ship for a while, but then started thinking I needed something different. The Nevermore, she's not a lot to look at, but I've souped her up where it counts. And I can do more with her. She's still small enough for courier runs, but I can take passengers, some cargo. I do a lot with medical supplies and such. They don't take up much space but make a good profit," Tom explained.
"Quite the entrepreneur," Chakotay said, dead-pan.
Tom grinned. "No one is going to control me or my destiny, Chakotay. I am never again going to be in a position where someone can dictate my actions to me. That's the one thing I've learned, always be a step ahead, and in control."
Chakotay simply nodded, and then said, "The Nevermore?"
"Do you get it?" Tom said, looking at him curiously.
"I'm not sure -- Poe?"
"Yes, Edgar Allen, always loved that stuff. ' The Raven.' They are supposed to be symbolic birds, aren't they?" Tom asked. "And besides, 'nevermore' is anyone going to order me around," Tom added, smiling again.
"Symbolic on several levels. I'm impressed," Chakotay said, looking Tom in the eye.
Tom ducked his head, suddenly feeling shy. "Right now we are headed for DS9," Tom said. "I can usually pick up work there. And I have an old friend, a doctor, who will take a look at you. Then we'll see where you want to go."
"I don't need the doctor, Tom," Chakotay said.
"Humor me," Tom said, suddenly serious, and looking straight at Chakotay again. "I've been in prison, I know. And Julian won't keep any official records. Trust me, o.k.? I just want to make sure you are all right."
"Fine, Tom," Chakotay said, and looked back down at his meal. Tom sighed to himself. Chakotay had started to come around, but then had abruptly acquiesced to Tom's request. Tom hoped that didn't signal anything significant.
To Be Continued..