Title: The Alternate Path (1/?)Atiejen@yahoo.com
Author: AtiJen Daniels
Rating: R for m/m relationship.
Summary: Tom and Chakotay go in search of Spirit guides and find a whole lot more.
Archive: ASCEM, Cha_Club, CKos, cp_eternal, CPSG, Tpdorm.
Beta: Not Betad
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount and the Roddenberry family. I imply no copyright infringement.
Notes: *** POV Change
As I sat in my quarters, I had my head in my hands. All the time, I was thinking to myself that this time it was too close. For the years that we had been stranded on Voyager in the delta quadrant, we had gotten into many scrapes and also got out of it after a time but it seemed that we were pushing close to the edge more and more. People were getting desperate for something to happen. The Alpha quadrant didn't seem to be on the horizon anymore and we were all looking for an end to the endless routine
of either doing nothing or being in the middle of some fight. If we then got into a fight, then we fought and lived to fight another day.
It reminded me of the Maquis in the Alpha quadrant, but there, we were fighting for our homes. Here, though voyager is our home, it is not the same. We are in an endless cycle that doesn't seem to break. I want to go home. Now, here in the privacy of my quarters I can say it out loud; I'M TIRED AND I WANT TO GO HOME. After such a long time, some of us have forgotten what started it all. Now, it seems so meaningless. But I wont forget, I can't forget. The Maquis fight cost me my father in the Alpha
quadrant and in getting stuck here, it has cost me the rest of my family. If and when we get home, I wonder what will be left of my home world. What will be left of my family, and at the end of this journey, what will be left of me? Enough thinking, someone is at my door.
"Come in." Tom Paris was standing outside with a little trepidation on his face.
//What does he want now? // I think to myself as I gesture him in with my hand. I don't say anything and allow him to settle down and let me know the reason for his visit. He is one man that would always surprise me. When I think I have him figured out, he takes a 180-degree turn and I have to start all over again.
"Good evening Chakotay. I felt like talking and you are the only one I can talk to"
"You surprise me Paris. With all your friends, and popularity, I would think that you would have a lot of people to talk to. What about Harry and B'Elanna?"
"This time, you are the only one I can talk to and please call me Tom. This is not an official visit "
"What is on your mind Tom?"
"I am curious Chakotay, do you think we'll ever get home?"
"Why do you think otherwise Tom? If there is one thing that we are all committed to, it is getting home and I pray that it will be in my lifetime."
"Is that what your spirits tell you when you pray to them? That you will get home in your lifetime?"
"Tom. Some questions, I don't think about asking. I know that the spirits are there to guide me and protect me. I am optimistic and they haven't yet infused me with any pessimism and I trust them."
"What is it like to talk to your spirits?"
"It's sometimes very confusing and at other times, it can fulfill some needs I didn't know I had. Why do you ask?"
I know that it may sound strange but with the close calls we have been having lately, I find that I need something more than what I have had so far."
"What do you mean?"
Tom started looking at me strangely and I could tell that he was getting uncomfortable not to talk of myself. I was not quite comfortable myself. Of all the people that I had assumed having this conversation with, Tom was the not only not on the list, he was not on the same page as the list. Bearing our mutual discomfort in mind, I decided to offer him a walk in one of my holo-deck programs. It's a good thing that I had programmed a light rain forest where I go to walk and feel comfortable with nature
at my feet.
"It's getting warm, would you talk a walk with me?"
"Where are we going?"
"To a place, for a walk you'll see." I smiled at him and deliberately made my voice sound mysterious. He blinked when he saw my smile. I think that I have succeeded in surprising him at last. That not with standing, he followed me through the doors and we went to the Holo-deck.
I can't say that the nature of the program that Chakotay chose to run was a surprise. From what little I know about him and his world, this would be the kind of place that he would come to. What surprised me was that he chose to share this with me.
"Chakotay are you sure about this?" The surprise must have shown in my voice because he checked what he was about to say instinctively and then answered
"Come on Tom, I know that we are a bit uncomfortable but I thought this would be a neutral place and given the line of our discussion, I thought some comfort was in order."
"I mean, it looks like a private place to you and I don't think that you have shared it with a lot of people."
"You are right. It is private. I know that we haven't been friends and actually, we have gone out of our way not to be friends but you took the first step and I thought to reciprocate. Isn't this to your liking? Would you like to go someplace else?"
"No, No this is fine."
I was really glad that he felt he could share this with me. I'm also awed by the detail that he has put into the program. I notice these as we walk through the trees and comment on it.
"It is a really nice program, you made it all by yourself?"
"Come on, don't you trust my programming skills. It took me a while but I got it done and when I get claustrophobic in my quarters, I come here. It's not like my home but it is a good place to be. Now why were you asking about my spirits?"
"I'm not really sure. You notice that today we could have lost voyager." He nodded with an expression of listening on his face.
The N'ighem people were not joking. We had defiled one of their sacred laws and they were going to kill us for it. It didn't matter how we explained or what we offered, the only thing that would satisfy them was our death. We are all glad that you were on Voyager to negotiate with them and we are all curious to know what you said to them. What did you offer them in order to get them to release us?"
"I understood where they were coming from and that gave me a frame of reference while dealing with them that is all. But how did you correlate that with asking about my spirits?"
I didn't want him to think that I was mocking his beliefs and that it was only curiosity that brought me to talk to him but to be honest, curiosity was what sent me to his door; just a different kind of curiosity.
"That's what I mean, you understood where they were coming from. I have never believed in anything so strongly that I would kill for it in that manner. How can they believe? Why do you believe?"
"You can't be serious Tom. You have things you believe in. What about Starfleet?"
"I got drummed out."
"I just wanted to fly." The look I gave him was that I was daring him to come up with something. After thinking for a while, I could see that he hadn't been able to come up with anything. He then said
"I don't quite know how to answer your question Tom. I grew up seeing evidence of the traditions of my tribe in my everyday life. It made it easier to discard them when I left for Starfleet but it stayed with me wherever I went and stood me in good stead when I returned to join the Maquis."
"That is where I am coming from. I grew up on Starfleet but when push came to shove, it didn't support me and I left it to join the first person who could give me something to fly even though it was the enemy to the 'Starfleet' I knew."
"My beliefs are different from yours and that doesn't make them any less valid but this doesn't make me understand what brought you to my quarters tonight though."
"The longer we stay out here, the harder it is for me to believe that we will be getting home in my lifetime. I am not so enthused about getting home considering that my fate is still up for grabs but the more risks we take, the more I need to know that it is worth it. We are not close but I know that you are a man of strong beliefs and when you left Starfleet, you went to fight for something you believed in. How do you find the strength to believe when there is so much against you?"
"The answer to your question Tom, I think lies in the one thing that everyone has, FAITH. I have faith in my spirits and the beliefs of my ancestors and that gives me something to believe in. In the same way, you have learnt all you can about flying in Starfleet and now as you pilot Voyager, we have faith in your ability to fly her independent of the circumstance and I think that should give you something to believe in; if we can believe in you, then so can you. Let me give you an example, we have an e
mergency situation and you are the only one that can get us out of it, you know that you are a good pilot and that you have to get us out of it, so all that is left is to trust yourself that you can do it and apply what you know to what you are doing and the rest as they say, is history. Does that answer your question?"
When he explained it like that, it made some kind of sense to me and it seems like he was saying that he trusted my flying.
"I guess it does. I don't want to intrude on your beliefs or anything but can you help me find my animal guide?"
The question that Tom asked me threw me for a loop. I guess I shouldn't have been very surprised considering what we had been talking about but instant reaction was of course suspicion. This is Tom we are talking about after all.
"There has got to be something more than my flying to believe in and the way I feel right now, I need to believe in something Chakotay. Maybe your spirits can help me. There is no-one else I can talk to and I know you have helped others with contacting their animal guides so will you help me."
What he said was true. I had helped others contact their animal guides in the past but I needed him to think it through and decide it was really what he wanted and not just a whim after the narrow escape we had just had and I also wanted to do my own meditation.
"I'll help you Tom but I need you to think about this for a few more days. Let things settle down a bit and then you come back. I need you to be sure that this is what you want."
"I'm sure Chakotay. This is what I want"
"Maybe, but I need to meditate about it myself before I help some one else so come back to me in a few days okay and then maybe we will both be prepared."
"Okay Chakotay. Thank you for agreeing to think about it at least."
We left the holo-deck together and went to our individual quarters. When I got to mine, I saw that Janeway had left me a message that she had been trying to get in touch with me. I really didn't feel like talking so I sent a message to her terminal telling her that I would be meditating for the rest of the evening.
During my meditation that evening, my spirit guide was vague as usual and I had come to expect this from her; but she made me comfortable at the same time.
//I had a difficult and strange day today.//
//What did you do//
//Since we have been lost, I have held on to the hope that I will be getting home to my family soon. I guess I was looking for some miracle route that will take us back to the Alpha Quadrant. Even when I left the tribe to go to the academy, I knew that I would always found comfort in my family and they were a short distance away. Now that they are so far, the idea that I would have to give them up as I give up hope is painful//
//Why do you have to give up hope? //
//Hope is hard in these circumstances//
//With faith, how can you lack hope? //
//Faith. The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Maybe my faith is not so strong. //
//Your faith need not be so strong, trust the spirits with the little that you have and we will carry you the rest of the way. //
//Now that you have hope, you need not give up your family.//
//Their comfort is far and I am alone.//
//Why do you chose to be alone? //
//I do not chose it but there is no-one here that I can see to fit be my companion.//
//With what eyes are you using?//
//What do you mean?//
//How do you seek this companion you look for?//
//Compatibility, strength, faith, beliefs, love?//
//You say you don't see this in any of your friends?//
//Then you do not see what is before you.//
//Go and come back when you are ready to see more clearly.//
At this time, I left the spirit plain rather abruptly. I didn't understand but the one thing I do know is that there is no one on Voyager that meets all my criteria.
Speaking of criteria, If Tom is serious about finding his animal guide; I will help him.
Over the next few days, I looked at all the females on board with critical eyes and as usual, none of them remotely met my needs. At some point in the beginning of this voyage, I would have chosen to approach Janeway but after the time we spent on the new earth together, I found that she is not quite what I need. I need someone to support me as I support her but Janeway would never allow me that. She places too much reliance and importance on herself and I need more than that which is probably why she f
inds comfort in a holo character. B'Elanna has always been like a little sister to me and I think that after she broke up with Tom, she has moved on to Tuvok. Someone strong enough for her but wouldn't dominate her. Seven is still trying to find her humanity and individuality and Harry is giving her a hand with that. The others have so much against them, rank being one and the other points not worth contemplating. So maybe I will wait and the spirits will give me a miracle.
Everything was going smoothly on voyager. We were in a trouble-free area of space and it gave us time to catch up after our close call. Kathryn had called me into her ready room to try and find out what I had offered the N'ighem. I couldn't give her a satisfactory answer and that of course upset her. She isn't very approachable these days. Even Tuvok who was her closest friend has taken to spending all of his spare time with B'Elanna where he would have spent some with her. Voyager is not the home w
e thought it would be in the early days of our journey. Why am I surprised I am alone.
About a week after our initial conversation, Tom sent a message to my console letting me know that he was ready to go ahead with the quest for his animal guide. The fact that he wanted to go ahead with it surprised me but maybe I shouldn't have been. After all these years I should learn that when Tom puts his mind to accomplishing something, he usually does it. Now I have no choice but to keep my end of the bargain.
"Chakotay to Paris"
"Tom, I accept. Meet me at the holo-deck tomorrow at 1700 hours and we'll go on from there. Chakotay out."
I was in Harry's quarters listening to him playing his flute flawlessly as usual when Chakotay's comm. message came through. I am glad that he agreed. Maybe now, I will have something else to look forward to. Since my break up with B'Elanna, my interests in extracurricular activities have waned. Even my holo novels like Captain Proton haven't really held much of my interest. If I'm not on duty or playing some pool in Sandrine's, then I'm in my quarters writing flight Sims. With this, maybe I'll be mo
re occupied and find that one thing that I am looking for. After my conversation with Chakotay, I looked at Harry and noticed that he had stopped playing and was looking me with a strange expression on his face.
"What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"What did Commander Chakotay accept? And why are you meeting him at the holo-deck tomorrow?"
"It's nothing. I just wanted to talk and he agreed" Well, it wasn't exactly a lie.
"And since when did you start talking to Chakotay?"
"Since he was the unofficial counselor."
"What is wrong Tom? You know that you can talk to me about anything."
"Nothing Harry. There are just a few things I need him to clear up for me that's all."
"I've noticed that since you broke up with B'Elanna, you have been keeping away. Are you sure I can't help?"
"I'm sure. You are my best friend. If there was something you could help me with, I'll let you know okay."
I was on pins and needles through the night and my shift waiting to see what Chakotay would come up with. Looking at him, it was like he wasn't even affected. He kept radiating his usual calm throughout the day. At 1700 hours, I was waiting for him at the holo-deck. I got there thinking that I would be slightly earlier than him but the doors opened to admit me on the hour. He had chosen the same forest program that we walked in and when I called out for him I followed his voice to a clearing a little
bit further into the forest. As I walk towards him, the level of detail that has been put into the making of this program surprises me anew.
"Evening Tom. Its good to see you. I want you to be comfortable so I have replicated some sweat pants and a tee shirt for you to change into, I hope you don't mind"
"No, its okay. Thank you." I get up and go to an area that is covered in order to change. I can't explain but for me, privacy is a priority. When I've finished and get back to where he is sitting in the lotus position in the clearing, I sit beside him and listen to him explain about the items in his medicine bundle. I felt I would need one so I asked
"Can I get one of those?"
"I don't know what is important to you but as time goes and you go on more vision quests, you will build up your own medicine bundle filled with things that matter to you."
"Okay, what do we do now?"
"You have to understand something. The things that you will find out while on your vision quests are for you to understand. You can only relate it to another being if you are directed to or if you specifically seek understanding. Since I'm the only one here on the ship that might understand, you can tell me but only if you feel that you need to. This is private to you okay."
"Sure, Now what?" He smiled at this
"Patience. When I start, you need to imagine a place that you have felt most comfortable. As you imagine it, you will begin to see yourself there and then the first animal that you come across, is your animal guide. You can talk to it an ask questions and just feel free."
"What about you? Will you be there with me? What will you be doing?"
"It is not often wise to go on the first spirit walk unprotected so I will stay here and keep watch. If it looks like you are having a problem, I will come in but I don't anticipate that so I will wait and I will pray."
"Okay. You think I can do this right?"
"Have faith Tom. You will do what you can do."