The Coffee Nebula Board is for the discussion of Star Trek: Voyager and other sci-fi/cult shows. This is its Archive of episode discussions, top ten lists, fan fiction, and other miscellaneous musings.



4: The Second Anniversary

B'Elanna sat by herself in the messhall on one of the tables nearest the view ports. She had her back to the main entrance of the messhall, she just wanted to be alone and let her thoughts wander. Like a lazy stream, her thoughts made their way through certain events throughout her Marquis life, events that were the most joy-filled and others that were unbearably sorrowful. Throughout her wanderings, the stream of her thoughts was filled with the emotions which were present throughout all of the experiences. They were also filled with the people who were with her in experiences, those who helped and those who hurt; and finally the stream flowed into set of experiences of where she was now. She noted the changes in herself and remembered the events which lead up to her making those changes. But through it all there was one person who was constant.

With a sigh B'Elanna realized why thoughts of her experiences in the Marquis were with her now. She was worried. 'It is amazing, I haven't hit anything yet out of frustration.' she thought to herself. After all that was her normal way of dealing with things that she worried of, and could not do anything about. 'I didn't think that being on this ship for two years would change me', she thought wryly. Still she couldn't shake the feeling that if she could hit something, the situation will get better. 'Well I guess it didn't change me that much'

She gave a small sigh.

"Hey Marquis mind if I join you?"

She looked up and saw Harry standing holding a tray. 'Maybe a distraction is all I need', she thought

"Have a seat Starfleet"

"Thanks". He made himself comfortable and began eating. 'While I have him here, I may as well put him to good use',

"Harry I wanted to ask you about the problem I'm still having getting the secondary command processors on line, every time I try..."

"Whoa, I just got off an 18 hr duty shift doing repairs. I'm tired, hungry and disgusted, if I hear the words 'secondary command processors' one more time, I'm going bring this dinner back up the and believe me, it's having a hard enough time staying down as it is! Something other than ship systems or no conversations at all!!"

Harry was snapping and B'Elanna was surprised. She'd never heard him speak so forcefully before. He was always so sweet, so shy, so young and so green. 'He must really be tired' she thought. So she just kept quiet. It didn't take long for her mind to wander back to where it was before.

It was only when Harry finished his meal that he realized that B'Elanna had not given him a retort and even more surprisingly, she didn't push, she just fell back into silence. When he looked at her, he saw that she wasn't really looking at him, but past him. And wherever she was, she looked worried. He sighed, he hadn't meant to be mean, he was just so hungry and tired, but B'Elanna was a friend. He knew that she hadn't had an easy time on Voyager, because of her being in the Marquis, because she was promoted to chief engineer over Joe Carey and because of her temper. He realized how important it was to be there for her, because he really wasn't sure who else was. Trying to shake the tiredness out of his mind and body, he asked softly,

"B'Elanna what is it?"

B'Elanna did not turn her head.

"B'Elanna?" He reached out and touched her arm and she jumped.

"You look a million miles away and worried too, what's wrong?"

The concern in his voice was too much for her, she hesitated and then came to a decision.

"I'm worried about Chakotay."

Harry nodded, but remained silent. He gave her the space to continue. She did.

"Since we have gotten the ship back from the Kazon, he has been quiet. He listens, he responds, but he's not really there."

Now Harry frowned, "I've talked to him about repairs, he's come up with a couple of good suggestions and he seems to be concentrating on things adequately."

"No, I'm not talking about concentration, I'm talking about him, the spark, the life that is normally in him when he talks, when he jokes, when he laughs. He hasn't done the last two in a long while either. I never thought that I would say this, but I miss that really twisted strange sense of humor he has."

"I don't see anything different about him........"

"That's because you don't know him as well as I do!!!" She slammed her hand against the table, the urge she had to hit something was back, stronger than as ever.

"As I was saying," Harry continued when she had finished her tirade, "I don't see anything different about him, but I supposed there has to be something, considering what he has gone through in the last two and a half weeks"

" I wish he would confide in someone, in me if there is no one else, but he is retreating, going into himself again. I have tried having dinner with him, inviting him to holodeck programs, nothing works, he just is there, closed as ever, working. It is so frustrating, he's been a friend, a counselor, even a father figure to me, but he never allows it to flow the other way, he never lets me be there for him."

She rested her head on her hands, "Sometimes it's hard being a friend."

Harry gave a smile, he knew all about that. "Sometimes Marquis, being a friend means that you have to stand by and do nothing and let the person you love work through their own pain."

B'Elanna's head shot up from her hands, 'How could he know!!!' she thought desperately.

Harry mistook the expression on her face, "Trust me on this one Marquis, I've loved one or two good friends in my young , 'inexperienced' life". B'Elanna relaxed.

"Some things take time. One thing that I've always tried to do is to let the other person know that I'm there if they ever need me. Sometimes they know intuitively, other times you have to verbalize it. And then wait. But don't wait too long. If it gets to the point where it interferes with the person's ability to cope with life, then get someone else to help you help them."

"Who else? Chakotay wasn't to particularly close to anyone but Kirk Bandera and myself."

"I was thinking about the Captain."

"The Captain, she would be the last person with whom Chakotay would want to confide."

"I don't think so, I've been on the bridge a lot more than you, and I can see that they've become good friends and they work well together. Besides, if it is a personnel problem involving the commander, she would be the one to handle it."

"But it's personal. Does Starfleet regulate our personal lives too? I think I missed that part in my regulation courses at the Academy!!!"

"I'm not saying saying now, I'm saying by the time she thinks it's right to step in, it will interfere with the running of the ship and then it falls under the jurisdiction of Protocols. Give it another two weeks, if he still isn't normal, talk to the Captain, I know that she can do something to make it better."

"She's only human Harry, she isn't a goddess, she doesn't possess magic powder which can solve everything."

"I don't know about that. In ancient Asian human religious practices, it is believed that one can do anything physical, emotional and paranormal, once one's whole mind, spirit and body are united and focused. Now don't tell me that when the captain turns on her 'Eye Phasers' on the "Death Stare' setting, you don't really believe it's possible she can de-materialize you on contact, because her entire being seems to will it.?"

B'Elanna giggled, she had thought of that when she was caught in that intense 'look' from her captain. It is easy to believe that she could. Maybe that's why she always believed that the crew would make it back, she was not entirely sure that she wanted to go back. But if there were one way in the whole universe to get them back, Captain Kathryn Janeway would find it, and use it.

She let out a long sigh.

"Find a way to tell him that you're there B'Elanna, and then step back. If it get worst, talk to the Captain, that's all you can really do." Harry got up and took his tray to busing station. He took one step forward, thought of something and then turned back,

"You're a good friend to him Marquis, I bet he knows that. He's just needs to be reminded of it once in a while. I'll tell you what, I'm off for the next six hours, five of which I'm going to spend sleeping. When I report to the bridge, I'll ask the captain if I can come down to engineering and give you a hand, I'm sure that someone can take over the more routine problems on the bridge."

"Thanks Starfleet, I'm going to hold you to that"

"I know you will, I'll remember to contact you if she says no, I don't want Klingon swear words to be heard through my combadge on the bridge."

"I didn't mean that, I meant about Chakotay, you're a good friend too you know. Don't worry about the Klingon, no one will know what it means anyway."

Harry smiled, disposed of his tray and walked out of the messhall. B'Elanna got up and after him and did the same. She felt a certain measure of contentment at Harry's kindness to her. She always did when she realized that people valued her as a friend, as she was, not as some half Klingon oddity. 'Well', she thought.' back to work.'

Captain Janeway sighed. It was a long deep one. She was tired, she could feel it in her bones. She was in her ready room doing her part to help complete the repairs that had been inflicted by the Kazon when they tried to take over Voyager. The ship's engines and navigation were functional enough in a short period of time. But she had known then that the real repairs would begin when they were on route. The smaller tasks of repairs to the secondary systems, re-calibration, re-initialization and testing would take up the bulk of the repair time. Not being in space dock, not having that type of specialty crews and machines, had also made repairs take that much more time. She had also shortened the work shifts for the entire crew. Janeway knew that after their experiences that as important as it was to have the ship in tiptop shape, once the primary systems were completely repaired, the secondary ones would have to be fixed without too many people working overtime shifts. Her senior officers and department heads had all been pushing themselves, but they allowed their fellow crewmembers more flexibility in their shift time. They made up for most of the time lost in repairs because of the extra R+R. Chakotay and herself made up the rest.

She had gotten only 5 hours of sleep a night for the past month, Two hours for personal grooming and the rest of the day she was either fixing things herself or going over reports.

She looked at he PADDs in front of her and then realized that it was indeed finished. Every conceivable system had been repaired and tested. Voyager was healed. It was time to get the crew back to normal. Time to get herself back to normal.

"Commander Chakotay, please report to my ready room."

"Aye Captain"

He came in and took the seat at the front of her desk. Janeway took a stole a glance at him. 'He looks like Hell' she thought, 'but then again, I'm betting that I do also.'

"Did you see the last reports from the departments?"

"Yes I have Captain, it looks like we have done it, we're as close to peak operating capacity as we are going to be in this Quadrant."

"Well it's time for the command crew and the department heads to take time out for their 'necessary repairs'. Tell all department heads that they have the next 48 hrs off. The crewmen with the most in seniority in their departments are in charge until they are officially back on duty in two days. They are to relay all problems to me or to you and then we will decide if the heads need to be called back to duty, until the problem is solved. That also holds for the Senior staff. And Commander you and I are also taking 24hrs off duty. You take tomorrow off, I'll take the day after that."

"OK captain, I do have some crew evaluations that I did put on hold that I need to finish, I'll do it......"

"Oh no Commander. Time off is time off, no evaluations, nothing related to running the starship, just enjoy living in it for a while"

He looked at her, tried to give her a small smile, but his heart was not in it. His body was crying out for rest. He just didn't want to be alone with himself, with his thoughts, not just yet. But he knew that couldn't run forever.

"Aye Captain, I promise no reports."

He looked so tired and yet Janeway could see it wasn't only in his body, it was in what made him more than flesh and bone, blood and muscle. He was tired in his soul. She knew what it was. She had observed him during the repairs, when he was working and when he was giving her updates. He was quiet, responsive, innovative and diligent. He just wasn't passionate about it. She wasn't talking about taking it personally when a machine just didn't want to function properly. That was B'Elanna. She was talking about the spark that was always there, the one that now seemed so dim. The absence of laughter and the quiet smiles was what worried her. Well she knew what she could do for that.

"See to it, and I will expect to you report to my quarters at 1900 hrs day after tomorrow."


"Well the actual date would be in a three months time, but I figured why not celebrate now, we have certainly survived the greatest challenge that has ever been posed to us in this quadrant, it should be now."

"Our two year anniversary!" The smile at last seems to touch his eyes, if only for a moment. It was gone again soon enough.

"I promise to replicate only, but now that I'm supplying the food, you get to bring the wine or beverage of your choice."

"Thank You Captain"

"Chakotay" Janeway said softly, she reached out and touched his arm lightly, she felt the life flowing through him and when she looked up at him, she thought that she could finally see something in his eyes.

"Try and get some rest, and I don't only mean in the form of sleep."

"I'll try Kathryn"

He left her in silence.

When Chakotay left the holodeck, he did feel rested. It would take him a couple of days, to feel normal he knew that. What really puzzled him was Vision Quest. When he'd left the simulation of Dorvan V, his home and entered the vision, he was still there. His animal guide did not join him. Nor did his father. Yet he had a lot of things make sense to him. Observing things around him, he had been able to make some revelations about himself. He understood some of the things that his mind had been wrestling with over the last several months, but oddly enough nothing came about the whole incident with Seska. He thought that would be the focus of the vision quest. He knew that most of the times quests did not work out as planned or even expected. He would just accept and be grateful for the insights which were gained.

B'Elanna caught up with him as he was walking through the corridor.

"Chakotay do you have a minute, I want to talk to you privately?"

"I'm sorry B'Elanna, I'm meeting someone for dinner, can it wait until tomorrow.?"

B'Elanna choked back the little twinge of hurt that she felt. 'This is not working out as planned' she thought. Aloud she said,

"It'll only take a minute, are you heading back to your quarters?"

"Yes, join me."

They walked there in silence. As they passed the Captain's quarters, a slight smell caught B'Elanna's nose, her two stomachs growled appreaciately. Well she was heading down to the messhall to join Harry and Paris for dinner later herself. She doubted they would have anything half as good as the captain was having.

When Chakotay and B'Elanna entered his quarters, he gestured for her to sit on the couch and made himself comfortable. When he turned to face her, B'Elanna's resolve weakened a bit, she got up and walked around as she did when she was uncomfortable. Chakotay let her, he knew that she would blurt out what was troubling her, in a minute.

"Chakotay, you've been withdrawn and not yourself the past few weeks. I know that it has to do with how you're reacting to what has happened. About Seska, about her deception, about being a father and then not, about her death."

His face clouded over, but still he looked at her.

'Well, I've blown it now so I might as well say what I came to say', B'Elanna moved back to the couch and sat down and drew a deep breadth.

"Chakotay, I just wanted you to know that I noticed, I wanted to tell you that I'm your friend and if you need me, I will be there for you, I promise." She did not stop speaking as she got up. "Well I don't want to make you late for dinner and I have plans myself so I'll see you tomorrow. Good night Commander" She was walking towards the door quickly.


'Damn that quiet voice' she thought as she brought herself to a full stop in front of a closed door. She turned to face him.

He reached her at the door, gave her a quick hug and said softly, "You're a good friend, I'll take you up on that offer when I'm ready. Thank you."

She was blushing furiously and was thankful for her darker complexion. It hid most of it. "Remember Chakotay, as long as I am here, you are not alone."

"Aye Lt."

B'Elanna noted, as she hurried down the corridor towards the messhall, that the feeling of contentment was back.

As he dressed for dinner, Chakotay reflected on the friends that he had, the new and the old.

"Come in"

"Smells delicious, definitely replicated then."

"Hey, don't insult the cook, or she will order you to have dinner in the messhall"

"Yes Ma'am"

The smile and a little of the spark were back. She knew that he had needed that day off. Janeway had to resist the urge to have the computer track the activities of his computer terminal. She did trust him with herself , the crew and the ship. It was when it came to himself, she wasn't sure. Looking at him she knew that he hadn't worked on his day off, or his off-duty time doing work.

She busied herself setting the table. Chakotay opened the bottles of Bajoran ale. He had replicated two of the correct glasses to hold the spirit a while ago and he had brought them with him. He enjoyed the ale immensely. He poured the ale in the glasses and then asked Janeway, "Do you need any help?" "No I can take care of it". Chakotay took a seat at the head of the table and noticed that Janeway was lost in thought while she set the placing next to him.

When Chakotay was seated, Janeway realized that they had both worn civvies. ' A far cry from the first one of these that we've had' she thought. They had come so far from that first anniversary. She would have never dreamed in a million years of the things that would have happened in that year. She remembered one of the personal log entries that she had made over the past two years. She remembered one of the things that she said in that entry, it seemed to repeat itself in the last two years..

"Penny for your thoughts Kathryn."

"I'd like to see the penny first please?" He put on a mock hurt face, it was so distorted that she had to laugh, and he joined her.

"I'll tell you what, let's make a toast first, eat second and then I'll tell you what I was thinking when I was setting the table"


"Your turn, I did ours the first year remember"

"Ok, let's see...." He thought for a moment, what did he want to say? The he remembered B'Elanna.

"To friends and family, the ones that we are journeying towards and the ones that we are journeying with."

"Hear, hear" Kathryn said softly, her eyes filling. Trust him to say the most appropriate thing.

"Well, I'm famished, what's for dinner?" They ate in a comfortable silence that was punctuated by bursts of conversations. At the end of the meal with ale glasses in hand, she lead him to the couch. They put the glasses down on the coffee table and they made themselves comfortable. They sat down next to each other, a small space separating them. Chakotay put his arm on the top of the couch encircling the space between him and Kathryn

"Well?" Chakotay prompted

"I was thinking of something that I had written in my personal log the first year we were here and I realized that it was also true for this year as well. It seems that a lot of the challenges that we have faced have not only been to our ability to survive in this quadrant, but also our ability to grow as sentient beings; especially for our senior officers, for Voyager's two most senior officers."

"And in what way have you most grown as a sentient being in the past year?"

Kathryn stole a look at Chakotay, but the hint of a smile was not as his mouth, he was very serious. She hesitated for only a minute. She stared at a vase which was on her coffee table.

"Yesterday was my father's birthday. He's dead now. He died four years ago. I normally do not celebrate his birthday or even remember the day of his death. We were very close, at least when I was very young. He missed my young adult years because of the escalation of the Cardassian conflict. Just before he died, we began to make up for lost time. We never finished."

She sat in silence for a while. When Chakotay looked at her he saw the sadness in her face. He knew it wasn't easy to say what she was about to say, but she seemed to need to talk about it.

"When we went down to the planet which was owned by the Mocra to get the terellium and we were ambushed, I remember trying to fight to get away from soldiers. I was injured and when I came to, Caylem was taking care of me in his house. As he began to talk, and started to call me his daughter, I realized that he was not mentally stable. I knew I had to get away, to get Tuvok and B'Elanna and to get back to Voyager, but he wasn't making it easy for me. I remember thinking, 'of all the people to get rescued by, I had to get an old lunatic'. As we began to work together, I began to realize and understand how he got that way. He had lost his wife and daughter to the Mocra.

When I got in touch with the resistance, the contact asked me what I was doing with 'that old fool'. He called Caylemb a coward because he did not join his wife in the resistance. I stood up for Caylemb and reminded him that Caylemb had saved my life and he had also saved him from going to prison by letting the soldiers make a fool out of him. Minutes before, two soldiers had spotted our contact and believed him to be in the resistance. Caylemb acted like a lunatic in the market street as a distraction so that our contact could slip away. The soldiers teased him mercilessly. It was painful to watch.

Later, when we were waiting for another member of the resistance to contact us with weapons, Caylemb told me the whole story. His wife had asked him to meet her, to help fight the Mocra, she was waiting for him to show up when she was captured. He had to live with his guilt for that. Then his daughter went to join the resistance while he stayed away, and like her mother, and she was also captured. He had to live with the guilt that knowledge brought too. That everything he ever loved was rotting in a Mocra cell possibly because of him. He thought that I was going to the prison to free his wife, after all I was his daughter, who else could be in there that I was concerned about.

I understood why he was slipping over the edge.

Still, when the Mocra captured our contact, he was all I had. When I broke into the prison, I told him to stay outside, but he managed to get in because the security fields were down. Tuvok, B'Elanna and I had almost managed to get out, but I had to go back to find his wife and to free her. I owed him that after all that he did to help me. He may have been afraid in the past, but he wasn't when it came to helping me hide from the soldiers. It was when we headed back into the prison, that Augrist caught us. I thought that I knew the whole story, but the truth was much worst than I ever expected.

Caylemb had been to the prison numerous times to help his wife and daughter escape. But they had been killed almost five years prior. Every time he came to the prison, the guards would turn him back. They used him as a reminder to the population of the futility of resisting the Mocra. Every word he said was like a knife in Caylemb's back and in my heart as I began to understand the magnitude of his suffering which his mind could not accept. The condemnation, the ridicule; they had completely stripped him of his dignity. Augrist relished telling us the story and in the end that was what sent Caylemb over the edge. I didn't know he had a knife, but he stabbed Augrist with it. With the distraction, Tuvok and B'Elanna subdued the guards but not without one of them fatally shooting Caylemb.

I hovered over him as he lay on the floor dying. He called out to me 'Rochana'; that was his daughter's name; he wanted to make sure that his wife got all his letters. He had written to her everyday she that was gone. I was crying as I granted him his dying wish. I told him that I had given her the letters. He held my face so gently, like my father used to do from time to time, and said my name again 'Rochana'. When I held him for the last time, I whispered in his ear,

'She wanted you to know that she loves you and she forgives you and so do I'. He died at peace with a contented smile on his face. I wasn't prepared for seeing him die. It brought back so many memories. I felt so lost. Tom had to gently shake me. I got off the floor and became the Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager"

Kathryn took a deep breadth, it was ragged, she continued;

"I was in the shuttle craft with my father and my fiancé, Justin. We ran into atmospheric storms over Tau Ceti Prime and the shuttle crashed. I was thrown from the shuttle and I sustained a concussion. The shuttle sank into a body of water with my father and my fiancé with it. I also had a broken leg. When they found me, I had passed out after what must have been hours of stamping it, making the physical pain worst than the emotional pain. I was in bed for a month. I couldn't face life after it. I felt so guilty, I should have been able to do something. I should have been able to prevent the two most important men of my life from dying. I was a competent Starfleet officer. They had survived the Cardassian Conflict only to die on some snow-covered planet because I couldn't save them. The guilt kept me in that bed for a month. My sister, got me out of bed by her sheer will power. It was enough for both of us, when I began to try to live my life again. I began to heal of most of the guilt that I felt. But there was always a residue there. I could not let myself remember him on the day of his birth or his death.

As I leaned over Caylemb's body wishing that I could say the right words, I understood it all, the guilt and what it had done to him, what it had almost done to me. I was lucky I still had my mother and my sister. He had no one......except me. When I said those words, 'I love you and I forgive you', it wasn't only my voice saying it. It was a blend of my voice and my father's voice. He was telling me that he forgave me and he loved me. I had learnt to forgive myself for surviving but I hadn't yet learnt to forgive myself for not being able to do something that was beyond my power to do.

Save them.

When I was in my ready room, for the first time in a long while, I just let the grief of my father and then of Caylemb be with me. I allowed myself to be comfortable with it.

This year, I grew the most as a sentient human by achieving a further level of peace with my father's death."

Her voice was barely a whisper when she finished. Chakotay's heart ached with the same sadness that he heard in her voice. Instinctively, he brought his arm down and held her close. Kathryn did not struggle, he could hear her ragged breathing become more regular and he felt two small wet spots on the front of his shirt. She did not make a sound.

Kathryn used the rhythm of his heart to get her breadths into a regular pattern. She was glad that only two teardrops made it down her face and on to his shirt. 'I'm supposed to be there for him", she thought wryly, but she was glad to be able to talk about it. It was good to tell the story. She had spent the whole free day just letting the memories of her father, Justin, Caylemb wash over her. She had done some painting, started a new letter to Mark, listened to music and just let herself be. This was all that was missing.

She gently broke his embrace and then sat up on the couch. Chakotay put his hands on his lap and they settled back to the way that they were.

Kathryn spoke first,

"So in what way have you most grown as a sentient being in the past year?"

"Believe it or not captain, it also involved my father. When I left my tribe to join Startfleet, I was a disgruntled youth. I had lived with the ancient ways of my tribe for all my life, but when I saw how other humans lived in the 24th century, I wanted to be one of them. Since we lived on the Cardassian/Federation boarder, we got to know a lot of the officers who served aboard the patrol ships. I admired them and the life that they lead, I wanted to be one of them. I felt that my tribe was going backwards clinging to our ancient legends and myths. I wrote the Entrance Exam and got accepted into Starfleet. When I told my father of it; I had it my desire of joining Starfleet from him; he said something that I came to later believe was a curse.

You will never belong to that life and if you leave you will never belong to this one. You'll be caught between two worlds.

And I was, for a long time. At the Academy, I had my doubts, and I almost dropped out after the first year. It was difficult for me. I didn't feel right and I hated all the regulations. However when I returned home after that year, I found that things had changed. My home, family and friends had gotten smaller in my eyes because of all the things I had seen and learnt at the Academy. I couldn't return to my home planet, marry and settle down, that was not the life that I wanted. I didn't know what to do, but I made a decision that I would stick by, I would finish at the Academy. And I did three years later. I still didn't feel right, it was as if something in me was always disquiet, out of place and out of sorts.

The feeling increased with the Cardassian war. I don't think that any human being handles war well and for me war served to intensify the disquiet, it became anger. Killing ate at my soul and I did not know how to heal it. The last time I saw my father, we had had an argument. He saw my hurt and suggested a vision quest. By that time I had effectively turned my back on anything that was of my tribe. I was a Starfleet officer, that was my life, a life of exploration and science that would explain everything given time. Except it could not explain why I could not find any peace, why I could not just feel like I belonged. I lashed out at my father and accused him of trying to force on me, a world that I had left behind the instant that I stepped into the academy. And then I disappeared in an angry energy beam.

When I next set foot in my hometown, there was nothing left of it. I became a member of the Marquis immediately after. The anger that was inside me became rage. The first time that I had taken a Cardassian life, I expected that the rage would diminish, it did, but something else took its place. It was guilt and remorse, the last words I had spoken to my father were in anger and they had rejected everything that he stood for. I had no way to heal the wound that I had created.

In order to find resolutions, I took up the ways of my tribe again. I took the mark that he wore to honor our ancestors, began to teach myself the stories, the prayers. The first thing that I did was perform the vision quest and I saw him. My father visited me in that vision, and my healing began. He hadn't left me and he was going to journey with me. The rage and hurt left, and I channeled the anger to fight as a Marquis. There was still no peace.

Until I came here.

The healing that began on that vision quest ended on the planet with the Sky Spirits. As much as I believe in our cause as Marquis and I was prepared to fight to the death to free the de-militarized zone, I missed Starfleet. I had no outlet to satisfy the scientific curiosity that lead me to that life. And as much as I embraced the prayers and customs of my tribe in the back of my mind, there was always a little voice needling that a man of science should not be indulging in things like that. I was still caught between two worlds.

When I realized that the Sky Spirits were real sentient beings and they were in a way my ancestors. It was as if my Starfleet world and the spiritual world came together, there was no distinction between them anymore. I felt more at home on that planet speaking with Hilieth, than I did the last two years that I was at home before I left for the Academy. And yet he was closer to what my tribe stood for, because he was a descendant of the original "Sky Spirits". When I looked at their civilization, and saw what they were capable of, it was as if my eyes were opened. They were able to effectively cloak themselves from our sensors, have types of warp drive and interstellar communications. Yet they lived simply, respected the land, and in being one with it, the actual weather conditions reacted to protect them. I realized that I wanted that, and if it could happen on a planet wide scale it could certainly happen with me. I could at last be integrated, one person, scientific and spiritual. As I was about to leave the planet, the hawk that almost took out Neelix's eye, began to squawk. I heard my father say something that he said almost twenty years ago, when we were hiking through that South American Jungle.

I was home.

Within myself, and with this crew, in this quadrant. It is something that keeps coming back to me, it was only when I was the most lost, 70,000 light years away from my home and my cause, that I became the most found.

This year I grew the most as a sentient human being by finally integrating the two parts of me that seemed to always be at odds, and becoming one person."

For the entire time that Chakotay was speaking he looked down. He felt as if he had bared his soul, but there were things that he left out. He knew the he had to speak them to her. He was thirsty and he swallowed the remainder of his ale. He put he glass down, all the time avoiding eye contact. 'You have to look at her sometime'. Kathryn solved that dilemma for him.

She put her hand on his leg as if to shake him. He finally met her eyes, he saw the compassion and the empathy for him in her eyes. She raised her hand and fitted her palm against his face, he breathed deeply. He knew what he had to say. Her hand stayed there a minute longer and when she removed it, Chakotay began to tell her another story.

"The first time that I met Seska, I was sent to meet her by the woman who recruited me into the Marquis. We were on Bajor and I was told that I would meet her at the ruins of Ra-Bahala at sunset. When I approached the ruins, I heard the sound of a woman singing. The passion, despair, hope and determination were all intoned in her voice. When she stopped singing and approached me, she introduced herself and then kissed me fully on the mouth. I've thought about that kiss for a whole week after we found out that she was a Cardassian agent sent to infiltrate my Marquis cell and was giving our technology to the Kazon. Just how she was able to communicate passion, hatred of Cardassians, and determination in that kiss. That's what I read in it. I had never been kissed that deeply before, it was as if she reached into my anger and communed with it.

We began our affair. Every so often I have to keep reminding myself that Tuvok did not know that she was a spy. I was emotionally involved with her. If a Vulcan with impeccable logic was fooled by her act, then her *lover* would certainly be taken for a fool and what a fool I was.

As a Bajoran, she was a typical woman. Passionate, emotional, overwhelming, sensual and soft when in bed and most importantly committed to a cause, especially if that cause included killing Cardassians. She was intelligent, cunning and exciting. The sparks flew between us. Sometimes, the passion for her was the only thing that I could feel. Our affair started in my early days as a Marquis captain. We were fighting and killing and I sometimes I felt as if these things were happening in myself as well. It was easier not to feel at that time. But it isn't human. When I was with Seska, I felt. She awakened something in me that I thought was long dead. Passion.

But it interfered with the running of the cell. Seska always pushed and sometimes she openly defied me and relied on our relationship together, to convince me to do things her way. I didn't want any descent among the ranks because of it, so I ended our affair. But there was also something else that had me on edge even after I was in the heights of ecstasy with her. I wish I had recognized it then for what it really was.

Cardassian Coldness"

He got up from the couch and turned away from Kathryn and went to the closest view port. She watched him go and after a minute joined him. They stared in silence for a minute appreciating the stars that were streaking past them. Chakotay continued,

"When she sent the message about impregnating herself with my DNA, part of the rage that I thought I had gotten rid of came flying back at me. I felt so *violated*. And to make it worst, I listened to it on the bridge. Will my humiliation ever end? For months I refused to think about it. As far as I was concerned, that was not my child, she made her bed and she would lie in it. Then something happened."


"New Earth."

Kathryn held herself as rigidly as she could. She did not draw breath. The insinuations and implications came to her at once.

"So when she sent the message buoy.....

"No Chakotay, don't leave out part about New Earth because you're afraid it'll hurt me. I want to know."

She said it very softly. If the ventilation system had been increased by 10%, he would not have heard her.

'Well you asked', he thought. "When we became aware of our sexual attraction for one another, I was thinking about making a life for myself on New Earth. I always wanted children and I wanted to be a proper father to them. I didn't count Seska child as mine at that time at all, but when I thought about having children with you. I couldn't wait. And now we can't, because you are on your way home to Mark. I played a lot of what if scenarios in my head, when we got back, about children that I would never have with you. I guess that was the time that the thought of my having a stake in Seska's child got planted in my head."

Kathryn suddenly exhaled. She just felt as if she was going to burst and she had not idea why the feelings were welling up in her. She had accepted and known about the possibility of having Chakotay's children on New Earth, why was she reacting to it so strongly now?. 'I guess it is really one thing to hunch and quite another to have that hunch confirmed, aloud', she thought.

Chakotay heard her in the background. He had tried to protect her, but she insisted. He would not lie to himself, or to her. The consequences of her question were hers only. With a sigh, he returned to the couch and she followed. He sat at the edge of it, clasped his hands in his lap and continued.

"I was torn when Seska sent the message buoy, saying that my son was in danger. I wanted to ignore it and I had a good reason, the safety of the crew. On the other hand, that was my son. In a vision quest my father helped me see that. No matter how hard I wanted to run, I had an obligation to my son, as my father had to me. I had to fulfill it no matter what, as my father did even when I pushed him away. The crew backed me up, I have never been so grateful for their support.

When Seska walked out on the bridge after the Nistrim had taken Voyager, she had never looked more Cardassian to me. Not even when I first saw her changed physiology. The fact that she and Cullah would use my son in this manner to capture Voyager and what she was going to do to the crew, hammered home what she really was. A Cardassian Spy. I have always been a pawn to her and now she was making my son into one.

Then when we returned and I was told that Seska's body was found, I thought that my son would be with her. I prayed that Cullah would be so disgusted that he would have left him behind, alive. When the doctor gave me the good news, I didn't know whether to be elated or sorrowful. I had been a father for entirely too short a time.

I stared at her body for a time, took her hand and remembered the woman I thought I knew. It was hard to merge her to the one who was staring back at me in death. The one who had made me a father and then rescinded that act so quickly."

The tale was now told. Chakotay had kept himself rigid throughout its narration, but he didn't think that he would be able to a minute longer. His whole body seemed to cave in. Kathryn enveloped him in her arms. He also did not resist. She spoke quietly in his ear.

"I want to thank you. You've been at my side and behind the crew throughout all of this, yet you're the one that was most deeply affected. It took great strength and great courage, I want you to know that I have never regretted my decision in making you first officer."

He leaned into her, using her arms as respid, he felt that the inner journey which he had been embarking was as arduous as the one that the had been making through the galaxy. His soul had only recently begun to find its rest.

They stayed that way for a long time.

Finally he broke the embrace and said quietly,

"We've both got alpha shift tomorrow, we should get some rest."

"Computer what is the time?"

"0100 hrs"

"Yes we'd better, or the both of us will be yawning throughout the shift. Pleasant dreams Chakotay"

"Sleep well Kathryn."

She placed her hand gently on his cheek again in a sign of farewell.

It was the first time in months that Chakotay slept soundly and peacefully through the night.

Chakotay rubbed his eyes. There were days that he hated crew evaluation reports. This was definitely turning out to be one of those days. But evaluations were required to be done by him extensively every six months. He looked at the report that Lt. Torres had given him. It was for the science crew of engineering. In order to make the running of the ship more efficient, He and the captain had made the decision to merge the Science and Engineering departments. That way if there was something going an emergency in engineering, the science crew would serve as backup personnel and perform routine tasks and maintenance, while engineering could handle the more complicated matters. However when there was no emergency, they would be working at the science stations organizing and interpreting the data that they collected on their journey through the delta quadrant. Lt. Kingston was the senior officer in the science end the Department of science and engineering, but Lt. Torres was the head of the whole department being the head of engineering. She was the one who had given him the evaluation on Lt. Kingston.

"Chakotay to Torres"

"Torres here Commander, what can I do for you?"

"Please repot to my office, there is something I'd like to discuss with you."

"Right away."

As he waited for B'Elanna to come to his office he thought of Lt. Kingston. She had her beginnings, as he did in the Academy. She had managed to escape the Cardassian mining colonies on Bajor as a girl and made her way to earth where she was adopted and raised by a human couple who took pity on her when they found her hiding in a wooded area in Africa. Mr. and Mrs. Kingston were archaeologists working on the local excavation site of a place that used to be known as Johannesburg.

He had no idea why, but when the unrest began in the de-militarized zone, she was one of Starfleet's first deserters. It was rumored that she was part of the formation of the Marquis resistance. When they discovered the Terykov belt, her skills at science and planetology were instrumental in helping to set up a base there and understanding the structure of the planetoids so that they could easily slip to and from it to perform their "patrol" duties.

She had been a model Marquis resistant fighter. She made her suggestions, loudly and forcefully, but what ever was decided, she gave her all to the mission, to the cause. He had counted himself lucky to have her in his cell. When they first came on board Voyager, she was one of the crewmembers who resented Captain Janeway for being stranded in the delta quadrant. She didn't say it in so many words, but it was always there at the beginning. Whenever anyone would talk about the captain, her voice always bordered on insubordination.

But she had settled down and settled into a life that she must have thought that she left behind. Science. With all the new phenomena that they had been observing in this quadrant, it was as if a part of her that he had never seen, had come alive. And she was good too. She wasn't on the level of B'Elanna, but she was close enough. She had been responsible for analyzing some of the data that Tom had collected on his warp ten flight and that had been responsible for supplementing Neelix's knowledge of this area of space and aiding in their search for supplies.

Now something has happened.

She was on the verge of being put on report, for tardiness, ineptness and attitude. He didn't know why and he wanted to find out what was going on with such a good officer for her behavior to have deteriorated so much in such a short time.

The door chime sounded


"You wanted to see me Chakotay?"

"Yes B'Elanna, do you have any idea what's going on with Lt. Kingston? From what I can read on your evaluation, she seems to be on the verge of being put on report."

"I have and idea, but I thought it inappropriate to put it down in the evaluation"

"OK, I'll take it with a grain of salt, what is it?"


Somehow that did not surprise Chakotay. In the two days after he had been to dinner with the captain, he was able to shift his focus away from how Seska's actions had affected him. He realized that he had forgotten in the last month and a half that what Seska had done affected the whole crew deeply ,especially those who were in Marquis.

"I should have thought of that. I want to apologize to you verbally, and I will find a way to do it to the former Marquis members of the crew; for not being there for them throughout the last six weeks."

"We've all known that it would have hit you the hardest, because you were intimate with her. I guess, that in a way we have all been trying to protect you in not letting you know how we felt. I made sure of it though, I know you Chakotay, you needed time."

"Yes I did, but I'm OK now"

"I see that. That stupid twisted sense of humor's back, I heard it in Engineering just the other day."

"Ah, but the fact that you noticed that it was back meant that you noted it was gone. You must enjoy it on some level, or else you would upset, not relieved that it's back"

The smile tugged at Chakotay's mouth even as he tried to remain serious. 'He's definitely back'

B'Elanna thought.

"I was glad to have it back, only because it meant I had you back, not for any other reason." She charged.

Chakotay's eyes twinkled at her and then he became a little more serious.

"B'Elanna, I wanted to say thank you. I knew what you were doing when you tried to dragg me to the holodeck, to dinner and to do things with you. I may not have confided with you about how I felt, but without your presence, I don't think that I would have been able to deal with the situation at all. You reminded me of something important when you came to see me three days ago, that you would be there for me. I have always treasured your friendship in my heart. I guess advice from you on how to deal with my emotions is not so bad after all. Well I guess you must know, having such strong emotions."

He was the only person in the universe who could say that to her and remain uninjured. She stuck her tongue out at him, and that was when the laugh erupted on his face. 'The feeling of contentment is back again', B'Elanna acknowledged. 'Three times in one month, this is a personal record'

"B'Elanna, I'm going to need your help. How do you think it's best that I handle Robin? I really don't want to have to put her on report. She was closer to you than I, in fact she was closest to Seska."

The realization hit him like a thunderbolt. No wonder she was having problems.

"Well, I mentioned it in the report because I wanted to give you a chance to see it before I approached her. I don't think that I am particularly good at this, but for her I'm willing to give it a try. I'll try and see if talking with me would help. But you should talk to her also. The reason I mentioned it is because it is interfering with how we work together in Engineering and Science. But if you can, don't put her on report right now, give her a chance"

"I'm beginning to think I should scan you for an alien presence. You were normally much only this concerned with machines, not humanoid life forms before. Who ever is responsible for teaching you this, I want to meet."

B'Elanna blushed slightly, "You mean you spend all that time with him on the bridge and you don't know Harry Kim?"

"Harry, huh?"

"He's been a good friend to me since I came on board. He's helped me grow a lot."

"It shows."

"He's the one who made the same suggestion when I was worried about you."

B'Elanna looked directly at him. He had a soft thoughtful expression on his face, she couldn't read it.

"Well, let's do it then, hopefully between the two of us, Lt. Kingston can get what she needs, I won't put her on report or mention it to the captain yet. From what you've heard, is there anyone else who's having a difficult time?"

B'Elanna settled back and told him what she had seen and heard. He listened, asked for ideas and together they worked on things that they could do, shift rotations, people they could talk to and activities that they could plan in order to help the crew heal from Seska's deceptions. He had never worked with her like this before. Normally they only discussed engineering maters in the Marquis. He was surprised at how observant she could be and how many of her ideas and thought were on the mark. He was glad for it.

When she left his office, Chakotay sat down and reflected on the angry half Klingon that he had rescued from the Cardassians and how she had grown in the past years. He was grateful that he had been able to be present through all of it.

Part 5: either A Natural Progression (NC-17) or Reflections (PG-13)