Empty Places
Debra Fran Baker

Two months had passed and the cabin still felt empty. Chakotay still felt empty. He was finding his way back to himself after Tommy's...no, Paris's...storms, but he would not be the same, just as his cabin could not be put back the way it was.

Too many things had been broken or lost, never to be replaced. He left the empty spaces as they were, stronger reminders for their absence than they'd be if they'd be present. He had to fill them with newer memories, just as he had to fill his heart again.

He sat down on the couch and called for a cup of tea. Once he would have called for hot water and made a pot with their own china, but that was packed away somewhere. Maybe they should give it to Harry and B'Elanna as a wedding gift, but that would mean he'd have to talk to Tommy. They hadn't spoken off duty in those two months. And that would mean that every time he had dinner with Harry and B'Elanna, he'd have to eat off those dishes. No, those memories were better left in boxes.

The Doctor was trying to get him to talk to Tommy now. He said that they needed to talk things out, and that To- Paris was willing. Well, Chakotay wasn't. Not yet, maybe not ever. He didn't like that he was running away from this fight, but he didn't know what he was fighting for, yet. He didn't know who he was again, or who he wanted to be.

The tea was cold. He was forgetting to eat a lot lately. Janeway said he looked like a skeleton. Then she would look at Paris, who's uniform was also hanging. Her eyes were sad. 

Harry was talking to Paris again. Chakotay was glad for that. For a long time, no one would talk to Paris and somehow that hurt even when he knew it for a show of support for himself. Things were still tense on the ship. How do you survive a broken relationship when you still live with the man? When you still...Chakotay didn't let himself finish that thought. 

There was the datapadd on the table. He could get some work done. He hadn't been doing much of that. It took too much energy to not think about what had happened between them, when he'd lost himself in a cycle of love and violence because of Paris. He picked up the padd, and tried to read the reports, but nothing registered. He put it down again. One day, Janeway would run out of patience. She was showing signs already.

He steeled himself to enter his sleeping room. There was a box on his pillow, with a note.

"This would have been our first anniversary today. I'm sorry. Tom."

The box held a paper sculpture of Voyager. Chakotay put it in an empty place. He called the Doctor, and told him he was ready to talk to Tommy.

The End

Debra Fran Baker dfbaker@panix.com