Chakotay sat in front of the scanners, feeding information to Tom. He
couldn't believe that Tom, even in the higher gravity field, didn't even
bump when he landed the shuttle. He continued to watch the scans and
think, until he felt Tom standing behind him.
"Engines are shut down. What do you want to do next?"
"I think we should talk until I start to have problems again. Then I'll
go out and work myself into the ground. You stay here and monitor
"Chakotay, let me take the stupid thing out. Damn it, we need you
functional. Not some psychopathic maniac, ready to kill at the first
"We, Tom?" Chakotay asked with a smile. He couldn't put the years of
anger behind him so quickly, but he could *appreciate* Tom's acceptance
of this situation easily.
Chakotay had spent a good portion of the trip here thinking, reviewing
and planning. Without the effects of the clamp driving him so hard, and
with the new information, he saw things he had never seen before, like
Tom's actual loyalty. Where Chakotay had always written off Tom's acts
of bravery and loyalty to Voyager as grandstanding and attempts to
impress Kathryn; now he could see them clearly. Now he felt a little
guilty over how he had reacted.
He could also see Kathryn's manipulations, and it made him mad. He
could understand everything but that. It made no sense. To keep them
at odds with each other was counterproductive. Chakotay started to
drift off into the drug-induced lethargy necessary to keep him calm,
until Tom's voice jerked him back to reality.
"Yeah, we," Tom said, crossing his arms. "Fuck Janeway. I never left
the Maquis. She sent me to jail and then acted like my savior. She
used you, and she used your entire fucking crew to get her crew back
home. You think I take being sold out by the PEB lightly. Hell, if he
weren't Vulcan, I would have taken him on when I first found out."
Chakotay chuckled. "Maybe you did learn something when you were with
"Chakotay, you took a drunk, dried me out and tried to help me. I may
be a Paris, and I may be a Star Fleet brat, but I remember shit like
that. And now that we know we have no reason to be at each other's
throats, I say we call a cease fire and work together."
For a moment, Chakotay sat there and reviewed his options. Now that he
could see the picture clearly, Tom was right. "Can you take it out
"Yeah, I think so."
"You think so, Paris? This is my brain you are talking about. Oops is
not an acceptable option."
Tom chuckled. "I can do it, and there's only one lead to your brain. I
reviewed the procedure to get it out. It's relatively simple."
"I can't tell you how your wording inspires confidence: 'you think,'
'relatively simple,'" Chakotay said, as he got up and moved back to the
back of the shuttle. He lay down face first on the bunk. "Do it."
"I can't *do it* right now, Chak?"
"Why not?" He asked, looking back at Tom. If they were going to do
this, he wanted it done as quickly as possible. Something about the
suspense of having Tom do brain surgery on him, was a stress that he
could do without.
"You have a too much sedative active in your system. I do it now; you
are going into a drug-induced coma. Not optimal."
"There are those words again, Paris."
Tom shrugged with an evil smile. "Like I said, Chak. I'll do
everything I can to keep you alive." He ran a tricorder over Chakotay.
Chakotay sat up and waited while Tom checked him out. He wondered what
Tom was checking on.
"How are you feeling, Chakotay?"
"A little fuzzy, I could sleep some more."
"Might be a good thing. You're still exhausted." Tom started to
prepare another hypo. "You know this thing isn't registering either of
"I know. I had to reboot the one on Voyager to get it to register,"
Chakotay said. He grabbed Tom's arm before he could press the hypo to
his neck. "What is that?"
Tom got a truly evil twinkle in his eyes, before answering. "Actually,
it's a vitamin supplement. Rethinking that little memo, Commander."
"Oh, don't start that shit again."
"What shit are we talking about exactly?" Tom asked with a smile.
Chakotay knew Tom was teasing him, and for once, he didn't want to snap
his neck for it.
"The life debt shit, the memo saying I can kill you with your blessings
"The Commander shit. You can make that sound so snide, besides I think
I resigned my commission about thirty-six hours ago." Chakotay was
having a hard time, the tension was still there, but he was too relaxed
to act on it. Concentrating on any subject was hard.
Tom nodded. "Me, too."
Chakotay held still while Tom applied the hypo to his neck. Tom ran the
tricorder over Chakotay again.
"You're looking good, Chakotay. Get some sleep. I'll check out the
area and see what we can do about gathering."
"How long before you can take it out, Tom?" Chakotay asked, still
sitting up. He wasn't taking orders from Tom Paris, although sleep did
"Four hours, but by then, you'll be feeling the effects, and to make the
situation even more fun, I won't be able to sedate you to take it out."
Tom snapped the tricorder shut with a grim look.
Chakotay sighed. The concept of having to hold still for surgery wasn't
pleasant. He might end up killing Tom after all. "If I was able to
maintain control for as long as I did on Voyager, I think I can handle
some time here without becoming a complete psychopathic maniac,"
Chakotay said, lying back on the bunk.
"I certainly hope so."
Chakotay woke up instantly to a hand on his shoulder. He was sitting up
before he was awake and bending whoever's hand back at the wrist,
driving whomever to their knees in pain.
He blinked and took in Tom Paris on his knees in front of him, holding
his forearm and it took a moment before he could think clearly enough
not to apply his boot to Tom's face. He released Tom's hand with a
"Don't wake me up that way, Paris." Chakotay stood up and went to the
head. When he came out, Tom was rubbing his wrist. "You're lucky I
didn't break your wrist or kick your face in."
This time Tom was glaring at him. "You know for a man I am about to
perform brain surgery on, you sure are rubbing me in the wrong
"Fuck you, Paris."
"Right back at you, *Commander*."
"You little shit."
"I learned from a pro," Tom growled back.
Chakotay strode to the bunk, and lay down. "Get to it, *Paris*, before
we do kill each other."
"One frontal lobotomy coming up," Tom snarled.
Chakotay was only aware of the hypo as the cold metal was pressed to his
neck. He looked around wildly even as he began to relax.
"I thought, you said..." Chakotay began, as he slumped to the bunk.
"And that would be the case, if I hadn't let you sleep for almost eight
Chakotay could barely understand the words as he fell asleep.
Tom walked back and checked Chakotay. He was sleeping deeply. The
operation had gone off without a hitch, with the exception that Chakotay
hadn't woken up yet. Once more, he reviewed the procedure. He had done
everything according to the log. Chakotay should be awake. On a
thought, he pointed the tricorder at himself. It was spooky knowing
there was a transponder in him and this machine just ignored it. That
was when a terrifying thought hit him.
With that cold feeling gripping his stomach, Tom wondered if they had
altered the logs like they altered the tricorder. Oh shit, he could
have killed Chakotay. What if he had to disconnect the power supply
before anything else, instead of just before he removed the lead to
Chakotay's brain? What if something was needed to counteract the
stimuli he had been receiving? They knew Chakotay had the implant, they
could have altered the logs of the surgery, and they could have set him
up to kill Chak.
*Oh my god, what have I done?*
How stupid to trust the logs. The Maquis were gonna kill him really
slowly for this, memo or not.
For another two hours, Tom paced. Every time he sat down, horrible
pictures flashed through his mind. How Janeway and Tuvok could use this
to cement their little lie. Images of the crew trying to airlock him
like an old lynching mob. Being an old man, living in the brig until
they got back to the Alpha. B'Elanna breaking every bone in his body
and then the EMH fixing him just enough that the next Maquis could
almost beat him to death. Chakotay a zombie. Tom's panic mounted as he
had the mental picture of leading a lobotomized Chakotay through the
halls of Voyager. Chakotay staring blankly ahead for the rest of his
Then he heard a moan, and he looked at the bunk. Chakotay was still on
his stomach. Tom watched terrified as Chakotay's unfocused eyes opened.
"Tom?" Chakotay groaned.
"Say something intelligent, Chak. Please say something smart."
"Prove to me I didn't lobotomize you."
Tom rushed to the bunk and crouched down, touching Chakotay's arm. "I
trusted the logs, Chakotay. They could have been altered. Please say
something smart, let me know you aren't gonna drool for the rest of your
"Paris, what are you talking about?"
"I just trusted the logs, Chakotay. I didn't double check anything. I
did the surgery without checking anything. I'm sorry Chakotay."
Chakotay blinked for a minute, and then slowly sat up. "Everything
appears to be working correctly, Tom. Calm down."
Tom watched him shakily. Hoping, no praying, that he hadn't hurt him,
done something stupid. He really didn't want to live through another
Caldek Prime. Another pilot error, another mistake, another
punishment. He couldn't take it again. He couldn't. He jumped when
Chakotay touched him.
"Tom, I'm fine. I feel better than I have in weeks. Thank you."
"For what? Being stupid again?"
"Tom, a stupid person couldn't have gotten a clamp out of my head. A
stupid person couldn't fly like you do. I didn't think to check the
logs on the surgery either."
"Then why didn't you wake up faster?"
He saw Chakotay smile and Tom almost got mad about it. "Tom, I was
exhausted. I haven't slept more than snatches here and there since the
Gltz." Chakotay looked around for a moment and then at Tom. "In fact,
when was the last time you slept, Paris? You're looking a little ragged
around the edges."
"Yeah, well wondering if I'd just managed to top my performance at
Caldek Prime for the last six hours might have something to do with it.
Do you realize what they would have done to me if I botched that
surgery?" Despite his best efforts, Tom couldn't fight down the waves
of panic rising in him.
Chakotay chuckled and vacated the bunk. "Get some sleep, Paris. That's
Chakotay went to the scanners and checked the immediate area surrounding
the shuttle. Tom had put them down in a large field. There were trees
and a river close by with several different edible vegetations by the
river on one side of shuttle and a small pond on the other side.
Chakotay glanced back and saw Tom watching him.
"Would you get some sleep."
"What are you gonna do while I'm asleep?"
"Start gathering supplies."
Chakotay was surprised when Tom started to get up. "I'll help you."
"No, you will not, Lieutenant. I'm the one who's slept for nearly a
standard day. You need to rest."
"But, Chakotay, you need someone out there with you. There are
animals," Tom said, as he pulled the blanket off his legs and started to
get out of the bunk.
"I'll stay close to the shuttle and take a phaser with me."
Still Tom kept getting out of that bunk.
"Paris, get back in that bunk and sleep or I will sedate your ass."
Then Chakotay realized Tom was trying to carry his weight, and moderated
his tones. "You won't do me any good exhausted, Tom. Get some sleep."
That made Tom slow down, and finally relent. He lay back down on the
bunk and fell asleep in moments.
Chakotay went outside the shuttle and tried to get used to the heavier
gravity of the planet. It felt like he was being pushed down. He found
himself slouching under the pressure, but he began to gather a pod like
fruit that the tricorder registered as edible. He checked on Tom every
time he came in, but it appeared that Paris was as tired as he had been.
While he gathered, he began to plan. He went over what had happened
since they had hooked up with Voyager in the Delta, what had happened to
Tom and how his own actions had added to their present situation. Tom
Paris was the key pin in all of it. He was the scapegoat, he was the
foil, and he was the one that Janeway and Tuvok had used. The only
thing that had saved Tom's life was...Ocampa. Chakotay thought about
the words he had said to Tom, the way he had treated Tom, and the way he
had let the Maquis treat him. He shook his head as he once more stared
at the man, sound asleep, curled up on his side, holding his pillow like
a kid holds his teddy bear.
What amazed Chakotay was how quickly Tom had apparently forgiven him.
He had to admit, he wouldn't have been so quick about it, even if it had
been Tom's only option. Chakotay had ridden him hard for most of the
voyage and had allowed his people to do unspeakable things. He knew
about a few and had no doubt there were others that he was never told
about. Suddenly he wondered how many and what had been done.
Then he began to work out what to do when he got back to Voyager.
Should he confront Janeway? If she were set to remove him from the
command structure, he had no doubt he would suffer from an unfortunate
demise. No wonder they never got together, she was only leading him
on. He picked up the container of pods and headed back to the shuttle.
They could get a lot of supplies in there, and stack more outside until
Voyager got there. He put it down, closed the lid and activated the
stasis lock to keep it fresh. Chakotay was breathing hard, but he
nearly went through the roof when he turned and Tom was standing there.
"Are you trying to get yourself hurt?" Chakotay barked.
"No, I just woke up and heard you back here."
Tom looked...cute, when he was half awake. His hair was all mussed, his
eyes sleepy soft, no walls blocking his feelings. For some reason
Chakotay bet Tom wore those stupid footie pyjamas with the opening in
the back when he was a kid. Probably dragged a teddy bear around with
him too. Chakotay tempered his initial reaction. "How are you
"Better. How about you?"
"Fine, no problems whatsoever, except that the gravity out there is
Tom nodded vaguely. He went to the replicator and ordered a cup of
coffee. Chakotay watched as he sat down heavily dressed only in his
uniform pants and issue shirt. Tom held the cup in both hands, inhaled
deeply and then sipped the coffee. Chakotay smiled when Tom sighed.
"You almost enjoy that as much as she does."
"What are we gonna do, Chak?" When Tom looked up, Chakotay could see
the fear in Tom's eyes.
"I don't know yet, but I've been doing a lot of thinking. Voyager is
our only option. I have no doubt, how my people will react to this.
The question is, how will the fleet crew react."
"So, we're back to that, huh?"
"I'm afraid so." Chakotay could hear the regret in Tom's voice and he
felt it too. He had believed they were a group, a team.
"You know, Chakotay, I never told Janeway anything."
"I believe you, Tom. I hope you can understand how I saw things
"Oh yeah, I can. Hey, am I your chief pilot again?" Tom smiled at him
and Chakotay saw the young pilot on his first flight with the Maquis.
Tom had been frightened that day; he had been worried his hands weren't
steady for the helm, he had been grateful for the chance to fly.
Chakotay remembered nodding slightly at the pilot and giving him the
"You sure as hell are, Tom. I wouldn't have anyone else sitting at the
Conn but you." Chakotay gave him that same nod he had given him that
day so many years ago and tried not to think of what else could have
been so many years ago.
Tom looked at Chakotay and smiled. "Thanks, Cap."
They spent the remainder of the day gathering and had about a third of
the hold full before sundown. They didn't talk much because of the
gravity. It was hard to breath here and the work just drained them
both. Talking became an only when necessary thing, and even then it was
short and direct.
They both nodded twice and then lifted.
Chakotay finally called a halt to the work. They collapsed inside the
shuttle, breathing hard.
"Talk about your hard, physical exercise," Tom panted.
"Shoot, put the clamp back in, I'll get more work done," Chakotay
"I...I don't think so," Tom laughed. "We need to clear the tricorder
and reboot the computer systems to basic."
"Good idea. That way we know we're getting good information." Chakotay
picked up one of the water packets and drank deeply. "Computer,
Chakotay, alpha gamma twenty-seven, please list all command instructions
from either Commander Tuvok or Captain Kathryn Janeway since put into
"Acknowledged. Commander Tuvok, priority override, exceeding that of
Captain Janeway as Security Officer." Tom and Chakotay looked at each
other, surprised. "Commander Tuvok, surveillance of all crew member
from Maquis crew, including Tom Paris."
"See, told ya I was still Maquis."
"Computer, what type of surveillance?"
"Video and audio."
Chakotay moved to a view screen. "Display surveillance logs."
Negative, Commander Chakotay not listed as an authorized recipient."
"Computer, who are the authorized recipients?" Tom asked.
They gave each other looks like 'who else.'
"And Ensign Harry Kim."
"WHAT?!" Tom cried. Chakotay came to his feet and stared at Tom.
"Computer, verify authorized recipients of surveillance information,"
Chakotay ordered, shocked at what the computer was telling them.
"Commander Tuvok and Ensign Harry Kim."