Title: The Alternate Path (3/4)email@example.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.
Beta: Not Betad
Archive: Yes Please. Just let me know.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount and the Roddenberry family. I imply no copyright infringement.
Notes: *** POV Change; //Thoughts//
The next day, I expect Chakotay to come and talk to me about my questions to him but he doesn't do anything of the sort. I decide to wait for the coming days. After about three days I notice that he is in-fact finding ways to avoid me. Maybe the meditation he did revealed no answers to him. That is disappointing because I was really looking forward to hearing what he has to say. It is then to my surprise that I receive a comm. from him on the fifth day while I am in Sandrine's. I am resolved to spend
ing sometime outside my quarters even though I find no answers in either of the places I usually go to. I'm playing pool with the Delaney sisters and it staves off some of my boredom. I really need to get a different life and do different things.
"Chakotay to Paris." I hear while in the middle of a crucial shot, which makes me miss it of course. While the spectators are laughing at my predicament, I move to one side away from the spotlight in order to answer Chakotay's hail.
"Tom, can I see you in my quarters at when you are free?"
"Is now convenient?"
"That is fine, I'll see you soon. Chakotay out." I go back and take my leave of my adoring fans before leaving the holo-deck for my meeting with Chakotay. When I get to his door, I am slightly nervous as usual. For some reason, all my recent visits to these particular quarters have given me a slight flutter in my stomach when I stand at the door waiting to be admitted. When I hear him admit me, I just think: //Here goes nothing.//
After my last meditation session, I don't know how to go about helping Tom. The guides said that I should be his friend. How do you become a friend so long after the first introduction? How do you become a friend in the present circumstances? He needs me now but what happens when I help him? Will he still want to be my friend? He is an oddball kind of person and I don't always know where I stand with him. I don't quite know how to approach him so I spend the next few days thinking of the right atti
tude to use and the proper way to approach him so that he doesn't suspect that I am just doing it out of pity. Basically, I just don't want him to have the wrong connotation about the whole friendship thing.
Ever since I started to walk the paths of my ancestors in following in the ways of their spirits, I have done my best to go where they lead and listen to what they say but this time, they may just be asking a bit too much from me. The third day after my meditation and during my contemplations, I go to the mess hall at the end of my duty shift for the early evening meal and fortunately/unfortunately for me, I see Tom there as well. We don't say much besides a passing greeting while on the line to get our
meal. I have also seen the looks that Tom has been giving me. I know he is aware that I am avoiding him. I wish I could explain to him the contradictions that are going on in my heart and give him some hope that I will be able to help him but I can't do either because until I resolve the issues tearing at me, I cannot help him.
The next day, I choose to do something about this and put us both out of our miseries before my preoccupation begins to affect my work. At the moment, no one has said anything to me about my work being less that what it used to be and I want to keep it that way. That being the case, I decide to look within myself for the source of my conflicts.
//What do you really have against Tom? // Not a lot; He does his job like everyone else and though sometimes I may not like the methods he uses, he often knows what he is doing and gets the job done.
//Why then are you not his friend? // Well I am not everybody's friend and I don't have to be his friend.
//Why have you gone out of your way not to open any doors that would lead to friendship between the both of you? // I don't know? When the Federation caught him as a Maquis, I guess I felt sorry that even though I knew he was with us just to fly, he got punished for doing that. He didn't join us because he wanted to fight for the Maquis cause he just wanted to fly.
//If you understood that, then why didn't you show him that when he showed up on VOYAGER? // I said that I felt sorry he got caught, that didn't mean I wanted him to join VOYAGER and betray us to Starfleet.
//If like you say, he just wanted to fly, that means that he came on VOYAGER not to find you in particular but to fly. He didn't fight for the Maquis Cause; he also didn't fight for the Starfleet cause. // Okay, maybe he didn't really want to betray us.
//Why do you think of it as a betrayal? He didn't make you any promises or swear any oaths to the Maquis cause. // I didn't have any response to that.
//Why didn't you give him the benefit of the doubt? // I had no answer
//Why did you make it personal? // I still had no answer.
//What then is your reason for not being his friend? // I had no answer.
Talking to myself and thinking deep thoughts is not always an easy thing to do. This time, it definitely was not easy. It helped me find some answers. Answers I didn't particularly want to find. I guess when all is said and done; I really don't have a reason for keeping Tom at arms length any longer. I am not quite sure how I feel about finding this out but between two spirit guides and my inner self, I don't think I stand a chance of ignoring this and hoping that it will all go away. I'll talk to T
om tomorrow and we can go on from there. Before I do that though, I need give an answer to myself on why I took it so personally when it looked like Tom had joined VOYAGER in order to help Janeway fine us.
I spent all of the next day thinking all the same thoughts and towards the evening, it suddenly occurs to me that ever since I met Tom, he has always been in a different class to me and because of that, I expected so much more from him and took anything he did that did not conform with what I expected of him as a personal slight on me and my expectations. After I am able to see this, I feel that I'm now able to deal with Tom. The answers I have received from both the spirit and mortal plane will hopeful
ly help me answer whatever questions he may have. In the evening, I make sure that I get everything done quite early. When I am through, I call for Tom and invite him into my quarters. When I hear my buzzer, I just think one final thought: //Well here goes nothing.//
"Come in Tom. Have a seat. I am having some tea, can I get you something to drink?" I do this, both to give me some opportunity to leave his presence and center myself and to give him a chance to do the same without me present. I had noticed his nervousness as he came into my quarters.
"Yes please, can I have some of the same tea you are having."
After we have our drinks in our hands, I sit across from him and because I don't quite know where to start, the silence between us becomes somewhat oppressive. Thankfully, he decides to break the ice.
"Chakotay, did you find out anything from your spirit guide during your meditation? Don't worry, you can tell me even if it is bad news."
"Why do you think it is bad news?"
"Isn't that why you haven't said anything to me for the past few days? I assumed that you had found something wrong and didn't quite know how to tell me."
"No! That is not true. I met my spirit guide and yours." I add the latter as an after thought.
"What? Do you usually meet other spirit guides?"
"No. This is quite unusual but she did tell me some things. The main reason she didn't communicate with you is because you really didn't expect her to and you don't believe in her."
"It's a she? I didn't even know that. But what made me come to you in the first place was to ask you how are able to believe. So how do I get her to communicate with me?"
"Tom I'll try to be as honest with you as I can but I'd like to receive the same consideration from you. This is going to be quite a difficult road to travel and mistrust and miscommunication will just be an added hindrance. So can I expect a high level of honesty from you?"
"I'll try to answer your questions and be as honest as I can. If it is too much, I'll let you know. That is the best I can say. What do you want to know?"
"Can I ask you, why did you join VOYAGER to find us in the badlands?"
"I thought you decided it was just to betray you?" Tom asked me with his usual smirk in his voice
"Tom, I am trying here and it is difficult enough, can you meet me some of the way please?"
"Sorry. The only thing I was ever really good at was flying. When I Ieft Starfleet, The Maquis gave me the opportunity and after that I was sent to prison. The only thing I wanted to do was fly. Prison can drain the life out of you and it was slowly doing that to me. I had no contact with the outside world, wasn't very happy and then suddenly one day, Janeway comes and tells me that she is taking me away from the dreary world of Auckland. Even if it is just for a short while I had to take the chance
I then saw VOYAGER and suddenly I'm thinking that if there is even the slightest opportunity that I can fly her, I'll be over the moon. I honestly didn't think I'd find you. I wasn't really in the loop of things while in the Maquis so I wouldn't have had any information for Janeway anyway. It was supposed to be a short trip and then back to Auckland for me. I didn't betray you."
"You do?" I could see the surprise on his face. I think this was one thing that he wasn't expecting from me.
"Yes I know. It has been a difficult couple of days since my meditation trying to sort everything out."
"Well, if one of the things that you sorted out is that you finally believe I didn't betray you then something good has come out of it. Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, What do you want to know?"
"Why did you think that I betrayed you?" He had to ask the difficult questions didn't he?
"It's difficult to explain Tom. We are not close friends and I am not going to dispute that but I think what has stopped us from being close is that when I met you, I didn't get what I expected."
"Well, what did you expect?"
"I don't know but I didn't get it."
"Do you get what you expect now?"
"Oh Tom, I know that I haven't taken the time to get to know you but from what little I know, you are a good man and you should take pride in that. I am someone who likes to make snap judgments and that is what I did about you but I am learning to accept what people are at face value and I'm learning that you are the person you are and not the person I expect you to be. I'd like to say that I am sorry for letting my prejudices stop whatever friendship we may have had."
"I don't know what to say. Thank you, I accept your apology. We have come a long way from the Maquis days and our early days on VOYARGER so I guess I can say that we are becoming friends now if it is not too late."
"It is never too late."
Well, what can I say; the man is full of surprises. Just when I think that I have him sorted out, he does something that makes me think that he may just be a lot more human after all. That apology was definitely from left field. I wasn't expecting that but it is good to know that maybe from now on, he will stop looking at me with suspicion and I'll stop trying to prove his suspicions. It isn't going to be easy but if he wants to try, there is nothing stopping me. It will definitely be different calli
ng him a friend. I know he treats his friends well and I'll know to look forward to being treated with respect from him. I know that a lot of people don't respect me but respect from Chakotay would be wonderful.
Seeing what he can achieve from talking to his animal guide gives me a pause though. It looks like his guide really helps him so why wouldn't by guide help me. As I think about it, I can feel a slight whine of jealousy, within me. No! maybe not jealousy, but a little envy. He says it's never too late to be friends, maybe that is true.
Thinking about all he has said to me today, there is something he said that I really didn't understand:
"What did you mean when you said that I didn't really expect my guide to answer me?" I asked him. Maybe if I knew the answer to that, then if there is a next time, I'll know what to do in order to get my guide to talk to me.
"The best way to answer that question would be to use my first visit with my spirit guide as an example. The first time I met my spirit guide during meditation, I had accepted that my life was not the way it should be. Like my fathers before me I then chose to follow the ways of the spirits. I had done my rebellion bit and as my father had predicted, I lost my way. This time, I would do what they said, no matter how difficult. When I asked you some days ago if you will go back to the spirit world if
you didn't get the answers you expected from your guide, you were not sure. That being the case, why should she tell you anything? You have to be ready to believe and accept what she says."
This was just a little bit on the off beaten track for me. Even as a kid, I always questioned all that I was told, which is probably why my parents were frustrated and tried to keep me quiet all the time. After a time, I learnt not to ask so many questions and fade into the background but that doesn't mean that I didn't have those questions anymore. I got tired of being in the background and this time I really don't want to be in that position. I'd like to question what I don't understand.
"But I can't just believe and accept anything and everything she says, what happens when I have questions?"
"She doesn't stop you from asking questions when you have them but can you accept the answers she gives and do whatever she asks you to even if it goes against what you already know?"
"Maybe. But there are some things that you can't just take on blindly."
"Some things just need proof"
"And some things have no proof. First you accept then you might find the proof you need."
"Isn't it supposed to be the other way round?" I just think that all things can be proven. The way I was brought up leads me to that conclusion. Starfleet didn't exactly give full acceptance to the mystical.
"Okay. Then how do you prove that you see an animal in your during your meditations. Where is the proof that you communicate with whatever animal you've seen?" I had a feeling that he would have a rebuttal for whatever scientific quest for proof that I bring up.
He then asked me the one question that I couldn't answer
"I told you that I had seen your spirit guide during my meditation and you believed me; Why?" I couldn't answer that. I just trusted him and didn't think that he would lie to me so I told him so.
"I guess I thought you wouldn't lie to me?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"I don't know, you are not the kind of person that would tell that kind of lie besides I could ask you to describe her and prove you were lying."
"But you didn't ask me for proof, is it because you know me?"
"You don't know her"
"No. I don't know her."
"And until you know her, you will not trust her."
"When you put it that way, I'll say yes. I haven't had cause to trust a lot of people." When I said that, he looked at me and gave me a cheeky smile then said:
"You trust me don't you?" The way he phrased that question just made me laugh. It seemed contagious because he burst out laughing as well.
"Yea, I trust you."
"Thank you. Can I ask you to extend that trust to whatever you find in your vision quests and during meditation?" How did I know he was going to say that?
"I just knew you were going to say that. You are asking a lot Chakotay."
I was waiting for what else he could come up with to refute this.
"Tom, you can't prove it or explain it so you just accept it. This is where the faith comes in. Just a little faith; trust her and she will take you the rest of the way."
"Just a little." I asked him.
"Yea, Just a little. I mean when you meet someone for the first time, you don't automatically expect the worst of them do you?"
"Then why can't you extend the same courtesy to your animal guide and let her guide you." I couldn't answer that question and my bafflement must have shown on my face because he then said something to me that I will never forget:
"Tom, when you came to us in the Maquis, you offered your services as a pilot. I had never seen you fly but I trusted in your abilities. It is the same thing here on VOYAGER, in any situation, emergency or not, when I see you at the helm, I can put my mind to other things because I trust in your ability to pilot VOYAGER. It's your job but I've seen you fly, it's also your passion. If you can trust your hands to fly then you can trust her to guide you. It is her job to guide and for her, there is no h
igher purpose, that is her passion and she will do it to the best of her ability. One day, you will grow old and you wont be able to trust your hands to fly any more but you can always trust her to be by your side. Friends, Loved ones, and even your body may fail you but the spirit world; that's always there and will always provide you with a refuge and all you have to do is trust it."
There was nothing I could say to that. He had summed it up for me nicely, I had to trust my spirit guide and listen.
"Thank you Chakotay. Will you help me go on another quest?"
"Of course. I can teach you to go on your own if you want but it is not advisable when you are still unsure."
"I am sure. Will you help me?"
"Of course. What are friends for?"
"Friends?" I asked him just to be sure.
"Friends." He said firmly and put forward his hands for a handshake to seal the deal. As I shook his hand, I somehow knew that I would have this man in my life for as long as I could.
As I shook Tom's hand, I knew that there was something different about this particular friendship. I knew it was going to be different from any other friendship I've ever had and considering all that I did in order to avoid it, it wasn't going to go away of fall by the side with time. This friendship will be with me for a long time to come.
Well, what do I do with my new friend? He wanted to meditate so maybe that would be a good place to start but not today.
"Tom, I am not putting you off or anything but I need you to think about something for me."
"What do you want me to do?"
"I'd like you to start afresh with your spirit guide. In your next meditation, I'd like you to approach her like it is the first time and in order to do that; I'd like you to go through some preparation ahead of time, the same way I did before my first vision quest. Is that okay?"
"What do you mean by preparation?" I could hear the wariness in his voice. He probably thought I'd put him through some rigorous ritual or something. I smiled at him saying:
"Nothing too bad, just to fast ahead of time and prepare yourself mentally and then relax and have fun."
"The fun part is for now. Would you like to go for a walk in one of my holo-programs?"
That surprised him again; I wonder what he expects from me. He keeps getting surprised by what I do. Coming to think of it, I am getting surprised. I'd never have thought I'd be making an invitation to Tom Paris. Make it a female and I'd think I'm going on a date.
"Are you sure?"
"You're not doing anything else are you?" I asked him with a smile on my face. He smiled back and answered.
"Nope. Lets go" I walk to the door and trigger the sensors letting us both out of the quarters. As we walk to the holo - deck, I think back to all that has happened his evening. I've never laughed this much in Tom's company. In fact, since we got to the delta quadrant, I can't remember spending a better evening with anyone. It was relaxed and he gave me the opportunity to talk about my beliefs without feeling self-conscious; something that has very seldom happened since I left Dorvan V for the first t
ime while I was still in my youth.
As we walk to the holo-deck I am thinking to myself that this is going to be a little bit different. I wonder what Chakotay considers fun. Just before we get to the holo-deck, he turns to me and asks,
"What kind of program are you in the mood for?"
"You said we'd go for a walk. Do you have a program where we could do that?"
"I have a holo program I've been trying to finish for some time. It is of a home. It's not my home exactly but just an idea I've had of a place in my mind and I have been slowly building it. As I have some time to myself, I add more things to it. I may never finish it but it is something I do. Would you like to see it?"
"I'd really like to but it sounds like something that is very personal to you. Are you sure you want to show it to anybody else?" I'm very curious but I don't want to step on any toes. We had just stepped into the holo deck and before he told the computer to run the program, he said:
"You are not just anyone Tom and after all we've said this evening, you should know that. Yes, I'd like you to see it and tell me what you think. Computer run program Chakotay delta echo one five."
I didn't quite know what to expect but what I got was definitely not it. The black and green criss-cross lines of the holo-deck suddenly changed and I find myself standing on a paved road that is leading somewhere in front of me. The destination is not immediately visible but what I do see when I look around me is that the road divides a very large patch of grass. It looks well kept and can be mistaken for a park. There are some trees planted sparingly at different spots to my left and right. Chakota
y then points to me that we should go forward. We start walking and I ask him about the program.
"I can't really tell you what made me start writing this program. One day, I just thought I might as well make a home for myself where I can come and sit down and dream. When the ship begins to get too claustrophobic for me, I can come out here and dream that I am not in space but actually planet side somewhere. What do you think?"
I can imagine why someone would need somewhere like this especially as we are in the delta quadrant and shore leaves are sporadic. He has put a lot of detail into what I have seen but that is just grass.
"Yes Please. Should I be worried?" He smiles as he asks this but I can see a wary look in his eyes.
"No you really shouldn't be worried but all I see is grass and more grass. Not all the planet side you visit in whatever quadrant looks like this."
He laughs at this and then says:
"Heathen. There is more to it. Come on"
We continue walking and I see a cabin in front of me. It looks small from a distance but as we get closer, I see that it is really big. It is proportionate to the parkland in front of it. He doesn't take me into the cabin, which I notice is really a house, but takes me around it. The rear of the house actually takes my breath away. To one side of it is a lake and it is really beautiful with the water very clear. There is a boat docked there and while I wonder what it is for, I notice that the other
end of the area is forest like with a path between the trees. We continue walking through the forest and the calmness of the area serves to calm me down as well. I can now see what he gets from the program.
When we get back to the rear of the house, he leads me to the back porch and there is a long seat in the shade where we sit. The silence between us is very comfortable and I'm hesitant to break it but there are too many things I'd like to ask him.
"Chakotay, what is the boat for?" My curiosity will probably kill me one day but until then, I'll keep asking my questions.
"The boat. That takes you to the island."
"Island?" That surprises me.
"Yes. At the time, I didn't know why I built it but now, I think you might need somewhere special for your next vision quest so when we are ready, I'll take you there."
"What? Are you sure. What if you need it for something."
"I am sure. You never know, maybe I was making it for you." He says this with a smile and the smile more than his words convince me that he is sure about letting me use the island for my next quest.
"What about the inside of the house? Are you going to show me the interior?" I look into his eyes as I ask him this and I notice that for a brief moment, he has a faraway look in his eyes and then he focuses back on me and then says:
"Not today Tom. Another day. You don't mind do you?"
I know deep within me that one day, I'll see the inside of this home he has made for himself so I'll wait until that time.
"No I don't mind, I'm sorry for presuming. I am glad that you have even showed me the part that you have. I am very grateful Thank you"
"You don't need to be sorry Tom. I'll show you one day when the time is right."
"Guess what Chakotay, I know I'll see it one day." I don't quite know why I say this but it is something that needs to be said and after it has been said, there is a dawning realization in Chakotay's eyes at that what we both say is true and this is the beginning of something we both haven't had before.
"It is late Tom. We both have duties in less than 5 hours. Let me know when you are ready for the quest and I'll arrange days off for both of us. Give me at least two days notice okay so that I can also prepare myself."
"Okay. I'll let you know in a couple of days."
With the end of our conversation, he calls for the arch and we both leave the holo-deck. I say good night to him at the turbo-lifts and we both go to our respective quarters.
I spend the next two days on tenterhooks arguing with myself whether or not I should go through with the quest. A small part of me wants to continue living in limbo and continue going through life the way I am and risking nothing. A larger part though knows that at the end of the road, what is waiting for me is better than I could ever imagine if only I am willing to take the bumps on the road. I'd like to talk to some one about this but there isn't anyone on VOYAGER that I feel comfortable enough to go
to. The only person is Chakotay and he has told me what he can. It is my decision. As time goes on, I get tenser and the people working with me begin to notice this. On the third day, we get into a big fight with some alien race that wants to steal some of our warp technology. In the beginning, our shields deter them but as we take on more damage from their weapons, the shields get weaker and we really needed to get away from them instead of staying to fight. The power from engineering is not as mu
ch as I expect and I find myself snapping at B'Elanna. When I am about to snap out an angry retort to the captain, I suddenly feel someone's hand on my shoulder and this calms me. A brief glance shows Chakotay standing there; he had touched me just for a moment. When he catches my eye, he says:
"I trust you Tom and so do the rest of the people on this ship. You will get us out of this. Do what you can and the rest will come. We've still got a long way to go remember?"
Knowing that Chakotay believes I will be able to fly us out of this, I use the power that B'Elanna is able to give me and fly some the most intricate flight paths that I have only previously practiced in my Simms. When we are clear of the fight, I hear Chakotay softly whisper to me before he gets back to his seat:
"Well done Lieutenant. Thank you." At that moment, I feel such pride in myself that I haven't felt for a long time and this is what clinches it for me. I am going on that quest. Even if it is just to find something more to feel proud about. As I leave the bridge, I find myself sharing it with Chakotay and the Captain. The three of us are going to the mess hall so I walk with them but before I go inside, I gesture to Chakotay that I want to talk with him privately and he excuses himself from the captai
n. She just looks at him when he does this and goes into the mess hall on her own.
"Chakotay, thank you for what you did today on the bridge."
"You're welcome. I'm glad that I could help, I just thought to support you that's all."
"Well, thank you for your support. I have decided to go through with the quest on Saturday. That is in three days; is that enough time?"
"That is fine, I can change the rota so that we can have both have the day off."
"Thank you. I am very grateful. "
"Tom, we're friends. Let there be neither apologies nor gratitude between us. We do what we can for each other as we are able. Deal?"
"Think we can pull something like that off?"
"We can if we want to."
"You've got a deal."
"Good. Now lets go and have something to eat. I am hungry and remember you have to fast in a couple of days."
"Don't remind me." We both laugh at this and then go into the mess hall.
I have to get ready for Saturday because I know that no matter what happens, things will not be the same for me anymore and I have a feeling that things will change for Chakotay as well.