Life With a Paris: Hero's Homecoming

Half of Voyager was waiting in the corridors as Delta, Tom, Tuvok and Harry returned from planetside. The concept of this puppy being a hero not once, but twice took their breath away and everyone had to gather around to stroke Delta's head and fur, give him recently replicated treats, and praise him to no end.

Captain Janeway was at the front of the crowd and the first to congratulate Delta on yet another job well done. Delta had learned to tolerate the Captain, and was even beginning to respect the authoritative figure in his own way. As long as she stayed well clear of his baby, he didn't think he would have any problems with the Captain from this point forward. She had seemed so nice and loving lately, how could he deny the gentle stroke of her fingers over something that had happened quite some time before?

B'Elanna wasted no time in pushing, respectfully, past Janeway, hugging her husband and praising the dog. Together they stood as a family, accepting the crew's kind words with quiet pride.

Delta raised his head high, showing off the pride he held in his family, more so than in himself. He didn't understand why these people were being so loving for just having saved his daddy. This was his *Daddy* they were talking about, it was Delta's job to do what he did and make sure that his family stayed safe and together. He leaned back and rested his head against his mommy's thigh, sighing with contentment as his daddy stroked his head softly with the tips of his fingertips.

Life couldn't get much better than this.

Chakotay watched the welcome home from a distance. It wasn't that he was unhappy to see Tom alive and well, he just didn't want to risk yet another wet pant leg. No matter how heroic the crew thought Delta was, the dog was still a Paris, and Chakotay had no doubt that he'd be peed on in an instant if Delta were given the chance.

As the crew moved forward for their own moments with the heroic puppy, and Janeway stepped back, joining Chakotay at the viewport. 

"You're not going to go up and congratulate Tom and Delta?"

Chakotay raised an eyebrow. "Kathryn, I only have so many clean uniforms."

Janeway chuckled softly. "Some things call for sacrifices, Chakotay."

"Small sacrifices perhaps, but I refuse to be used as a stand-in for a tree any longer."

Janeway leaned against the bulkhead, and sighed. "I know you don't like the puppy very much, but he's good for the crew."

"You think watching him relieve himself on their commanding officer is good for them?"

"Delta represents something we've not had for a long time, Chakotay -- a taste of home. We've been so far away for so long, I was almost afraid the crew was going to give up hope. But Delta is breathing new life into us. He's showing us what there is to go home to."

"He's a dog, Kathryn, not a messiah."

"But he's from *home*. Look at them, Chakotay, really stop and look at the crew. When was the last time you saw them this excited?"

Chakotay shrugged. "Probably when we issued the first communications schedule to home."

"Exactly. Home. One day we're going to make it across this Quadrant and we're going to sail into a Starfleet space dock, and we're going to see all the things we've longed for. Until then, Delta will keep up the spirits of the crew."

"Isn't that a lot to put on the shoulders of a puppy?"

"Probably, but not for Delta. If any dog can handle this crew, it'll be him. After all, in your own words, Commander, that's not just a puppy, that's a Paris."