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6: A Formidable Woman

"So then what did Harry do to get even with Tom for that little stunt?"

"Well Harry knew that Tom and B'Elanna had holodeck time reserved for 1900 hours the following night and unfortunately Tom let it slip that they were going to take in a comedy routine that he had made patterned after one in the twentieth century. Harry got B'Elanna in on the joke and he made a few minor adjustments to the program. When B'Elanna and Tom first enter the program, she tells him that she has to go to make a special request from the musicians who were going to perform that night. She goes through a door and doesn't come back out. After Tom waits a few minutes, he goes in after her. Suddenly the scenario changes and he is on stage with,.....get this, male strippers!!"

Chakotay paused, he relished telling her this story, it was hilarious.

Kathryn gasped. "No, he didn't."

Chakotay giggled openly, "Don't get ahead of me, there's still a lot more to come. Not only was he on stage, but his clothes had been transported away and a loin cloth transported to cover his manhood."

Kathryn began to giggle.

"He looks around and to his horror there are all these women screaming "Take it off. Take it all off!!!!"

"No stop you're killing me" Kathryn was imaging the look of horror that would have been on her helmsman's face and was laughing out loud.

Chakotay had to swallow hard to kept from collapsing with laughter himself.

"B'E....B'Elanna is front and center, joining in on the fun. Tom looks out, and there are female members of the crew in the crowd and they are also cheering and giving him catcalls. The men around him begin to take off their loincloths to reveal, I think the term for it is 'speedos'. Tom is standing there, turned into stone and the next thing he knows, the loincloth disappears. He feels it and he puts his hands to cover his intimate place"

"Noooooo" Kathryn was doubling over with laughter on the park bench. She almost dropped the glass of champagne that she held in her hands. She put it down on the table next to them hastily, but could not stop laughing.

"He's wearing Speedo's too. He hears a male voice say, "Oh come on Tom, where's your adventurous spirit?" Harry is patched in, via a kind of communications panel that he programmed the holodeck to interface with his computer consul in his quarters"

"Harry", Tom says, "I'm going to get you for this". But just then a roar goes up from the crow and Tom realizes that all the men are naked. He reacted quickly and ran through the door before his 'speedos' got transported away."

"The second that he ran through the door, his clothes were transported back on him. The female officers and B'Elanna came to give him a hand for his "performance".

At this time Chakotay could not control his laughter and he joined Kathryn. She was laughing so hard that the tears stung her eyes and she could feel herself out of breath.

"How did you find out about this?" She asked in-between laughter.

Chakotay took a moment to collect himself and then answered her. "I was in engineering and saw Henley hitting Tom's behind and heard her say "Nice performance last night" She couldn't see me because a bulkhead was blocking her view of me. Tom turned as red as his uniform and B'Elanna burst out laughing. He managed to give me the report that I had asked him for and fled out of engineering. B'Elanna was crying, she was laughing so hard. I got the story from her."

"I have a feeling I am not going to get within a five feet radius of Mr. Kim. Whatever Tom has planned for him, it's going to be a monster. I don't want to get caught in the cross fire."

"Good plan. You never know he might miss and beam your clothes off of you. Although I wouldn't mind being on the bridge when that happens," He had a mischievous look in his eye. Kathryn swatted him playfully and gave him a look of mock horror.

"And a fly on the wall when you reprimand the two of them. You might disintegrate them with your "eyes phasers" set to Cajon."

"You're damn right I would." And she gave him the "look" that she knew the crew had come to call her "death stare"

He went off in peals of laughter again and she joined him. Eventually the laughter changed into giggles and then they fell silent. Lake George embraced them in its silence. The sail had been pleasant, filled with stories and anecdotes about themselves and the crew. Tales of the alpha quadrant and also the delta quadrant. Kathryn felt herself letting go of some 'stuff' that had been threatening to overrun her because of her near death experience. It was good that she should be here. She needed a familiar place.

Kathryn stared out at the lake where the moon cast its light, making it seem like a pool of silver floating on the surface of a lake. The reflection gave them light enough to see each other, but the night covered them in darkness. Maybe the darkness would have seemed cold on any other night. But not tonight. Tonight it was warm and comforting. She knew why. She had faced a darkness that was far beyond anything that his night could cover her in and it had masqueraded as light. She had conquered that darkness and now she was here, safe on her ship, with her crew and enjoying this scenario with someone whom she considered one of her most intimate friends. Still she had a way to go, reconciling what had happened to her, recognizing what was real and what wasn't. She knew that she had been running away from dealing with it by going right back to work.

She had been staring so intently at the lake that Chakotay naturally followed her gaze to its focal point. Seeing that she was just looking out at the water, he knew what she had been thinking about. They had talked what had occurred in sickbay with Tuvok, when she was recovering from her physical wounds. When they finished making the official reports, he realized there were emotional and spiritual wounds that needed to be tended to. Chakotay knew her to. The matters of the soul were things that Kathryn did not like to attend to, and put off as long as she possibly could. So on his way to the bridge he stopped in the airoponics bay and picked one of the yellow roses for her. A yellow rose, the symbol of friendship. He wanted to tell her that as her friend, he would be there for her when she needed a shoulder or someone to talk to about the incident. It seemed that she had taken him up on it. He stole a glance at Kathryn, she was still lost in thought. She had worn an olive green jumpsuit and tunic and a yellow blouse to go sailing with him tonight. He recognized that outfit. It was one that she had worn on New Earth. He smiled.

Kathryn chose that time to look up and caught his slight smile. In the glow of the moonlight, he looked incredibly handsome. Kathryn blushed and was glad that the darkness covered her face. Chakotay had worn a pair of black Acradian pants. They were a little like ancient earth's 'spandex' except they were not as revealing in 'sensitive areas'. In others they practically molded themselves to his body. He wore the customary Acradian top. It was made of the same type of material, but it was interwoven in an intricate pattern. From afar it would look like he was wearing a ripped shirt. The gaps in the pattern were about 1"wide and while Acradians wore the top without anything underneath, humans in general, and Chakotay in particular, wore an undershirt. It sculpted his body and for all practical purposes, it seemed that he wasn't wearing anything underneath. The thigh high waterproof boots completed the outfit. It was a comfortable outfit and perfect for sailing, it's just that it was incredibly sexy, and Kathryn knew that only a blind woman would miss how well he wore it.

Chakotay reached into his pocket and produced an object. "Penny for your thoughts."

"Humnph, I suppose I will have to tell you now that you've have a real penny."

He grinned and she continued

"I was thinking how flattering that outfit looks on you." Kathryn had no idea why those words came out of her mouth, but she was interested in how he would respond.

He blushed deeply, but she couldn't exactly see the extend of it. She was able to catch the smile that played on his lips.

"Thanks. I remember that outfit also, you wore it on New Earth"

"I did, didn't I?" She marveled that he remembered. She herself had forgotten. A thought crossed her mind and she giggled out loud. He looked at her questioningly.

"I was just thinking that perhaps I should beam you over to your quarters, when we're through here. I think that you'll be too distracting for the female crewmembers and I don't want to have to hear any reports of them walking into bulkheads and doors, trying to get a better look at you. Or perhaps you want them to. Anyone I should know about Chakotay?"

The blushed still played on his face, but his expression was gently solemn.

"No, there is no-one"

He continued. "Don't change the subject by speculating on my love life."

He said nothing more but reached out and touched her arm. Kathryn felt the connection and realized that he was there giving her the opening to talk if she needed to. She knew that she was also perfectly free to refuse the invitation, but she didn't want to. He withdrew his arm and rested it on the top of the bench as he turned his whole body to face her. He was still a foot away from her, but it seemed to Kathryn, that he had made a protected space where she could be, but still gave her the distance that he knew she needed.

" I had to re-read the report three times so I could distinguish what was real and what were hallucinations that the alien being in my body created. Certain events, just playing themselves over and over again. I think that at the time, I was not dead yet. When I *died*", Kathryn said the word softly. Chakotay lightly rested his hand on her shoulder. "There was only one hallucination. It depicted my death and the actions and consequences that would ensue."

Chakotay gave her the space to continue. She had been very vague about he last of her hallucinations. Kathryn had told Tuvok and Chakotay that the alien masqueraded as her father and tried to get her to abandon her life by showing her the crew moving on without her. She had recounted that when she opted to stay with the crew, the alien, tried to persuade her and in his manner she was able to realize that he was not her father. He knew from her tone and manner that there was a lot more that was left out. A lot more that needed to be said.

Kathryn took a deep breadth.

"In the final hallucination, I was able to see myself in death. I traveled back to the ship and I watched the doctor and Kes try to revive me. Finally he had to declare me dead. I tried to make contact with the ship's computer and with Kes. Kes was able to "sense" me, or so I was lead to believe. She relayed her observations to the senior staff and you began to look for my consciousness in an alternate dimension, parallel universe and investigate possible temporal anomalies. Tuvok worked with Kes to see if he could get a better sense of where I was. Neelix was doing what he did best, keeping the crew's spirits up and you and Tom kept watch on the bridge working from there"

Kathryn gave a fierce proud smile, she was barely keeping the tears at bay.

"I was so proud of them, of you, the way that all of you pulled together to try and get me back. I just *knew* that you were going to find me. It was then that the alien appeared. He must have realized that he was losing the battle for my life, because that's when he appeared as my father to persuade me to abandon hope of ever coming back. We *watched* your efforts for a while and of course it failed and then there was the memorial service."

Chakotay was taken aback

"He created an hallucination of your own memorial service?"


Chakotay's hand clasped her shoulders tighter. He could not imaging having to be at his own memorial service.

"That was the part where I almost lost, where you almost lost me. Having to watch the crew grieve for me was heart breaking. I was with Tuvok and Kes when they realized that it was hopeless, that you could not find me after three days of trying. The log entry that he made, touched me at the core of my being. He my oldest friend on this ship. In his Vulcan way, he made it clear that I was as dear of a friend to him as he was to me. The most frustrating thing for me was not being able to do anything to alleviate anyone's pain."

Kathryn looked up at Chakotay and he saw that she was indeed crying, the tears were escaping slowly down her cheeks, but somehow he knew that she needed space from him to finish her story. She brought a smile to her lips.

"For the service, Voyager was dead in space. You let everyone attend the memorial service. No one was at his or her post. No one wanted to be."

She continued. "I listened to the sharing of the experiences and encounters, to the lives that I've shared and the difference that I made, and I remembered the difference that this journey and the crew made in my life. I *heard* B'Elanna thank me for the gift of confidence in her abilities that I had given her in making her chief engineer. Harry couldn't even finish his sharing. He broke down in the middle of it. I saw Tom comfort him. By that time I was crying also. My family, I was losing my family. Remember when we discussed that after we came back from New Earth?"

Chakotay nodded.

"I felt it again, through the pain of the experience, the crew were comforting each other. There were no division between Marquis and Starfleet, they were one crew, one family. But I couldn't give or receive comfort, I was on the outside looking in. Far away from them, from you. It was then that the alien made his greatest pitch. He told me that I would be like that forever if I stayed in my *reality*, he told me that I could never be a part of your life if I stayed."

"It was the hardest part Chakotay. I was being asked to chose between my father, my family which had gone on before, and my present family, the ones that I would leave behind."

"You chose us?" he asked softly.

"What else could I do? I am the captain. My life is my ship. That's what I signed up for. That's what I believed and I have cemented this belief throughout our journey through this quadrant. We have a fine crew Chakotay. They deserve my best in life and in death. No matter what happens, we are on this journey together."

Kathryn was silent for a while. Chakotay thought a lot of what she had said. He didn't think that he would have fought as hard as she did if he were the one that the alien attacked. But then he wasn't Kathryn Janeway. He meant what he said in the Ready Room, the alien had met his match in this human woman, this Federation Captain. He was glad, he could not imagine this journey without her.

"I supposed looking back, it wasn't the crew's true opinion of me, but my opinion of the crew. It was from my experiences and memories that the alien conjured up these hallucinations. He must have 'accessed" what I thought of certain members of the crew and the extrapolated the way I felt that they would act at my death."

She gave a small chuckle. "Talk about arrogance, no one said anything bad about me."

Chakotay smiled at her. "Normally no one speaks ill of the dead. Besides, I'm sure that they were afraid that you would come back from the grave to discipline them."

"I probably would have to.", she said wryly. She wiped her face with the sleeve of her tunic and tried to stop crying the tears stopped falling, but he could see that her eyes were still filled. He moved closer to her

"The use of this alien of my father to attempt to get me to enter his matrix was very .....disturbing."

"Your grieving over his death is a lot more raw now again isn't it?"

"Yes it is." Kathryn seemed determined not to cry again, but he could see her lower lip tremble.

"Do you still grieve over the death of your father Chakotay?". She turned to him with her question. He thought for a while over his response. "No. I see him all the time in my vision quest. He is with me in death as he was in life. Or at least as he tried to be. I shut him out a lot out of my life when he was alive. I feel his presence guiding me, so as long as I am alive, he is alive. It's the same with my mother. I still miss Kirk Bandera though. There are times when I feel his presence strongly, but he has never visited me on my vision quest. There was one more person who was in the Marquis who died during my first mission in the Marquis, but other than that, no one else. I still do not grieve their deaths as you do your father."

Chakotay looked down at his boots. "I guess I never let anyone really get close to me." He paused and then he looked right at her. "Until now."

She looked at him but didn't say anything.

"You never told me what you saw me doing during your hallucinations." he said quietly.

She would not lie to him. "When I first saw myself, I was lying on the ground of the planet and you were trying to revive me before Voyager got in contact with you. At one point you begged and pleaded with me not to die. You were crying. I tried to touch you, to make you aware that I was not dead. But my hand passed through you. When Tuvok got me back to Voyager, you were in sickbay with the doctor and Kes. When they pronounced me dead, you stormed out of sickbay quickly." She had a sad look in her eye.

"I wanted to go after you, but I had to find away to get someone's attention. Afterwards, you were the Captain. There was an investigation to lead, then members of the crew to comfort and a memorial service to plan. You performed admirably, but didn't grieve"

She paused.

"I would have thought that you didn't feel the effects of my death, but the scene I saw of you on the planet had reminded me of something else. You mourned the loss of a friend then and I knew that your actions in the subsequent events, was part of the "Command Performance". You would grieve in private. Or at least I hoped you would."

"Of course I would. I was so scared when I thought we had lost you Kathryn, when I thought that I had lost you. I can't imagine having to make this journey without you, without you at my side as my friend or me at your side as the first officer. It is the reality of our situation though. We may not like to think about it, but the day may come when we will have to face that reality." Even as he said it, Chakotay's stomach turned. It was not something that he wanted to think about.

Kathryn nodded sadly, she remembered another reality of that magnitude, something that she had been forced to think about during her experience.

"I wanted so much to be with my father again. To talk to him about my adventures and the things I've seen. To tell him about my crew and the experiences that we were able to get through together. I've missed him so much, and in missing him I missed my mother and Phoebe along with him."

She paused again. When she continued, he almost had to strain to hear her over the gentle lapping of water over the edge of the lake.

"There are sometimes when it's so hard. To be hopeful when I consider how much more of a journey that we have ahead of us. To be hopeful in the face of potential destruction. To be hopeful when yet another crewmember have given his/her life to ensure the safety of others and will not see the alpha quadrant again as a result. The crew looks to me for their hope that they would make it. Sometimes I wonder if they can see my own doubts. The alpha quadrant can seem so far away at times. My family is so far away. I miss them and I miss.... home."

Kathryn leaned into Chakotay. She was so *tired*. He held her. He felt her body tremble with silent sobs as her anger, her grief and her loneliness came pouring out. He felt for her. Although he shed no tears, Chakotay felt as if her sadness had washed over him and he was with her in her sorrow. After a long while she was silent. He could feel the occasional hiccup go through her body and he continued to hold her tightly. He would do so until she signaled otherwise.



"Early on in our journey, when we were beginning to merge crews, I observed you a lot. I wanted to discern what kind of person was going to be my captain on this strange journey. I came to a conclusion about the type of person that you are. I realize now that I was right on target."

Kathryn broke away and looked at him. "Do I want to know what it was?" Her eyes were noticeably swollen and red. He kept one arm around her back.

"You may not" he replied in with a grin. However it lasted only a moment. He demeanor was serious as he continued.

"You are a formidable woman."

She gave a sad smile. "Some formidable woman. I'm sitting here wallowing in self pity and loneliness over an experience that I should be happy to have survived."

"Kathryn do you believe that we will get home?" . He looked directly at her. She returned his gaze and felt a small fire growing inside of her. She did not have to summon up conviction as she gave her answer.

"We are going to get home."

The fire in her eyes surprised him too, but he was glad that he saw it. When she saw the look that crossed Chakotay's face she *knew* what he had been trying to tell her.

"It runs deeper doesn't it?. That conviction goes beyond whatever I feel at a given point in time, beyond hope and fear. It is a part of me."

"I believe that the crew sees that conviction that you will get us home no matter what. It is what has given them hope. It is what gives me hope as a member of that crew, when my doubts are great. Everyone has their bad moments, bad days when all everything can seem hopeless, when it is all we can do to keep the hope alive and the loneliness and fears away. But we do somehow or the other. And we work at what needs to be done. What makes you formidable is not always having hope, and never feeling homesick. But the conviction that you cling to in the face of them.

You will get this crew home."

Peace descended on Kathryn. She knew that there were still lots of old wounds that had been opened that she would have to deal with. But she would be able to with time.

"Lt. Paris and Ensign Kim have holodeck privileges at this time. Please end the program and call for the arc." The computer interrupted her thoughts.

"I've got a good mind to rescind their privileges and so we can enjoy some more time here." She gave a smile

Chakotay was glad. She seemed to be a lot more relaxed than when they had started the program. "Kathryn, don't be wicked just because you can. Besides think of how it's going to look to the crew if two members were denied their holodeck time because the captain and first officer were running a program that lasted longer than it was supposed to. Especially if one of those crewmembers is Lt. Paris"

"I think I'll do it, just for that." but she had gotten up and was making her way out.

"Computer arch!" Chakotay called for the arch as he went to join her. He met her just as she was about to go through the arch. He touched her back and she stopped and turned towards him.

"If you need to talk again. You know where to find me."

"At my side, on the Bridge." Kathryn gave him a meaningful look and Chakotay gazed back.

Just then the door slid open.

Tom and Harry turned to stone when the holodeck doors swished open and revealed the captain and the commander in a rather intimate moment. The commander had his hand on her back and she was turned towards him. They held each other in tender gaze. Tom found his voice first.

"Captain, Commander."

Chakotay and Kathryn fought to keep straight faces and the blush out of them. Chakotay was a little more successful than Kathryn because he was darker. She was blushing furiously. He stepped back and to her right

"Lt., Ensign. Enjoy your program" Chakotay said in reply to the greeting, as he and Kathryn moved passed the two officers.

Harry waited until the holodeck doors closed behind them.

"Di...Did you see what I saw?"

Tom whistled. "Oh yeah, I wonder what we interrupted?"

Harry looked at him.

"Oh come on Tom, she's the captain. She wouldn't, at least not with someone who was underneath her."

"And who's to say that he's not the one on top."

"Tom! It would be like," Harry gave a small shudder, "knowing that your parents still do it."

Tom rolled his eyes. Harry gave him a glare. It said 'don't go there' in no uncertain terms.

"Let's put it like this, if I was married to Captain Janeway and she still had a body like that after our son was 26 years old, then I would be doing it as much as I ever was!!"

"She did look, ....ahem rather good tonight."

"Good!?! Harry, Harry, Harry, no wonder you're striking out with women. The captain looked absolutely sexy tonight and I have got to get the replicator design for that outfit that Chakotay had on. I won't be surprised if some female crewmember sees him and jumps him tonight. That is, of course, if he's not otherwise occupied." He grinned and then paused lost in thought.

"Do you think that it would look good on me? Do you think that B'Elanna would like it?"

"On you? Face it Tom, you wouldn't look half as good as he does." Harry was glad to get back at Tom for teasing him.

"Hey watch it, you wouldn't want me to do something to you in this holoprogram now would you?" Tom had an evil gleam in his eye.

Harry grinned triumphantly. "Couldn't. Double-checked the program with a fine tooth comb. Just finished doing it when you came to collect me in my quarters. I found all of your "little" reprogramming.

Tom's face held a dangerous look. "There is always tomorrow Harry."

Harry laughed, "Face it Tom, I got you and I got you good. Computer run Kim program Hoverball 3"

When the turbolift doors closed, both Kathryn and Chakotay looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Kathryn stood in the front room of her quarters and watched the stars. She thought of their journey, of their crew, of their friendship. Two and a half years ago, she didn't even know his name, now she realized, that she couldn't have gotten through this without him. She couldn't imagine one day without him at her side, as surely as she couldn't imagine one day, without Tuvok, without her senior staff, without her crew behind her.

Part 7: Duplicity