Endless IIB: Hitting Home
by Judy firstname.lastname@example.org and Etal
Summary: There were survivors when Voyager crashed on the Class L planet in Timeless. And B'Elanna was on the Delta Flyer with Harry instead of Chakotay. Having settled on an earth-like planet, how do the survivors cope with life in the DQ? What happens to B'Elanna and Harry in the Alpha Quadrant? In IIB, Alpha Quadrant events begin shortly after B'Elanna and Harry arrive. Delta Quadrant events take place some months later.
Disclaimer: They're Paramount's, all of them, except for a few aliens and crew members. The premise came from the episode Timeless. No copyright infringement intended. Some backstory comes from Mosaic and Pathways, books by Jeri Taylor. Other backstory material comes from various Voyager and DS9 episodes. In IIB there is some crossover with Deep Space 9. We have filled in gaps as needed.
Unless a part is labeled Alpha Quadrant, then all events take place in the Delta Quadrant. The story here is our version of what could have happened. It deviates from the original in a number of ways, one of which is that there were survivors, another is that the damage to the ship is different from that described in the episode. Also, some survivors have the names of crew on the Equinox. In our universe, the Equinox crew came aboard before the Timeless episode instead of after.
Copyright, 2000, 2001. Public or private feedback is welcome.
Notes: Judy wrote the parts on Voyager and the planet; Etal wrote the parts on the Delta Flyer and the Alpha Quadrant. We discussed, read, edited, added, deleted, and commented on each other's work. This is Book II.B with Book II.C following when written. I hesitate to say when! Many thanks to Britta.
Warning: Angst. Tom angst. Harry angst. Lots of angst. Deaths of some familiar crew members. A few bad words here and there. May need a few hankies, too. Minor crew members are in romantic relationships, some het, some same sex. There are no depictions of sexual behavior. Watch for time/date shifts and shifts from Alpha to Delta quadrants.
Archive/Post: ASC; ATPS; others please ask.
Other Voyager stories, and Endless I: Planetfall, Endless IIA: New Deal, and Endless IIB: Hitting Home can be found on my web page with stories on that page rated R or PG-13.
05/01 - 09/01
Day 26, Hour 1428, Alpha Quadrant, Starfleet Command
B'Elanna resented that she was under a microscope again. She didn't know what to make of the admiral. He was gracious on the trip back to Earth, careful not to interfere with her time with her mother or Harry's time with his parents. When they arrived two days ago, he made sure that they were not greeted by any fanfare. He had everyone transported to their homes after casually asking B'Elanna and Harry to stop by Command to finish some forms the next morning. But for the last two days it had been nothing but a series of physical exams that seemed unnecessarily thorough and debriefing interviews that felt more like interrogations. She saw it as a huge waste of time, and it was really starting to annoy her.
The admiral would find them once a day to say hello. He always turned on the charm, but his manner made it absolutely clear that he was not going to interfere with the schedule of tests. B'Elanna wasn't sure if he was giving or taking orders to monitor her and Harry, but either way, he wasn't someone she could count on. She was also exasperated that they were escorted everywhere they went. It was under the pretext that the grounds had changed so much in the last four years that they wouldn't know their way around, but she knew it was just an excuse to watch them some more.
B'Elanna sat on a biobed in the infirmary, trying to decide how much more she was going to take. She always felt ridiculous in these blue gowns, and the smiley technician didn't make her feel any better. B'Elanna also found herself irritated by Harry's good humor today. He smiled at everyone, thanked them for their time, offered to help. She knew she told him to be Ensign Eager, and it was vaguely comforting to see him in that mode, but it was still off. Somehow, he was just weird.
"I'm going to inject a dye for this next scan," the technician interrupted her thoughts. "Some people have a mild reaction. They feel nauseous or dizzy, so just let me know how you feel, and I can give you something for the side effects," she smiled.
"Why do you do that?" B'Elanna snapped at her. "It's very irritating and it isn't helpful, you know."
"Do what?" the technician asked, perplexed.
"Act so happy that you get to run another test. We're not lab rats or a senior science project. And what is this test for? Who ordered it? Besides, I didn't give you permission to inject me with anything!" Getting up from the bed, B'Elanna stepped towards the technician. As the tech stepped backward, B'Elanna started moving in on her, getting more angry with each word, "You're not going to do one more scan or take one more sample until I speak to Admiral Paris and whichever doctor is in charge here. This is ridiculous! And if you think -- "
Harry disrupted her thoughts when he'd grabbed her arm. "B'Elanna," he smiled at her, "relax. This tech is just a caretaker and she doesn't mean any harm." B'Elanna got the reference immediately. She and Harry first met when the Caretaker had grabbed the two of them and delivered them to the Ocampa for medical care and observation. Just like then, they were outnumbered again and going to have to wait for a better moment to take control of the situation.
Seeing her recognition, Harry continued. "They're just trying to see if we're okay, how we're doing." Again picking up his code, B'Elanna realized that Harry thought they were being observed at this very moment, maybe every moment since they returned to Starfleet.
"Yes, I suppose you're right." B'Elanna replied.
Sensing her understanding, Harry turned to the tech and read her name tag. "I'm sorry, Candy, for both of us. We just had a long flight back." Looking to win her over, he continued, "You can understand how we feel, right?"
Candy was curious why security hadn't intervened. They must be sleeping or stupid if they thought that half-Klingon woman wasn't about to hit her a few seconds ago. Well, if she was going to be stuck alone in this lab with these two for the afternoon, then she was relieved to have an ally in the saner one. Candy started to smile at Harry, but stopped when she remembered that's what started the outburst. With as blank an expression as she could muster, Candy replied, "Oh, sure, I can understand that. Anybody would."
Having caught the half-smile, Harry laughed amiably. "It's okay to be yourself. You don't have to change your style for us. You like your work, and you're just trying to help us know what's going on, isn't that right?"
Pleased that her instinct about Harry being more stable was right, Candy felt a little bolder. "Yes," she smiled emphatically, nodding. "That's exactly what I'm trying to do."
"Exactly," Harry continued, patting her arm. He continued looking at Candy, but his words were directed at B'Elanna. "So now that we all understand each other, I think we can make this go a lot faster. It's a beautiful day outside and we all might get to enjoy the rest of the afternoon if we work together and finish up as quickly as possible."
Candy and Harry turned to B'Elanna. Harry had such a bizarre grin on his face when he looked at her. His eyes were so clouded she couldn't tell what he was thinking. It scared her that he was giving her the creeps a little bit. Tactically, he read their circumstances right, but who was he today? Not knowing what else to do, she smiled too, feeling that her face must have looked as empty as his, "Yes, absolutely. We're all a team now."
Day 28, Hour 0828, Alpha Quadrant, Starfleet Command
Harry thought of the Kazon and Seska and the Borg. He thought of losing Libby and the moment his parents told him just two weeks ago that his grandmother had died. He thought of anything that could make him hate the unfairness of life. If he could hate, he could lie. Harry knew he had to overcome his innate sense of honesty. It wasn't enough to lie, but he had to look like he was lying at some moments and not lying at others.
Tom always teased him about having a baby face and wearing his heart on his sleeve; that's why Tom consistently beat him at poker. He didn't mind losing because it was just a game...no, he couldn't think about Tom now. He couldn't think of any of them now.
"Everything is a test. Everything is a test," he muttered under his breath. "Just one big test left to go." He looked up again at the door in front of him and read the nameplate for the hundredth time, "Evan Quaice, Ph.D., Psychological Assessment Unit".
His appointment was at 8:30, but the commander had brought him here 40 minutes ago, and for the first time since his arrival, he was left alone. Okay, he knew the plan: give him too much time to think and he'd get nervous, slip up somehow. Well, Harry wasn't going to let them get to him, he was gonna sit still and concentrate on making his palms stop sweating. When that door opened, he was gonna be as cool as an underground Ocampan. He was going to be ready.
He didn't expect to see B'Elanna walking out and laughing lightly with this Quaice, this spy on their psyches. What was B'Elanna doing here? Had they been talking about him, laughing at him?
"Oh, hi, Harry," B'Elanna greeted him casually. "My interview was originally set for this afternoon, but they contacted me at sunrise and told me I'd been rescheduled for 0700."
So, Harry thought, this is part of the game. Keep us guessing. And try to rattle me by making sure our psych evaluations are back to back so the counselor can compare our stories. Making the test a little harder.
"What does your schedule look like later today?" B'Elanna continued.
Picking up her casual tone, Harry replied, "I don't know. Right now, I think I'm free when this meeting is over."
"Well, then maybe we can have lunch together," she offered.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Dr. Quaice smiled, "but Harry, we need to begin our meeting so that I can stay on my schedule."
"Oh, sure," Harry smiled at him.
B'Elanna was relieved that it wasn't a weird smile, just that happy puppy, eager to please smile that she knew and loved. Good, she thought, he's having a normal day. He needs to do this today.
B'Elanna saw her 'escort' had arrived for her next meeting and sighed. She leaned in to hug Harry and whispered in his ear. "He's easy. And trust me, Quaice is no Betazoid. If he could have sensed some of my emotions, he'd have called out the troops by now." When B'Elanna stood back, she saw a little life in his eyes and a small touch of humor on his face. Maybe he'd be alright. At least for the next few hours.
"Please, come in," Dr. Quaice waved easily. "Take a seat anywhere that looks comfortable."
"Does it matter which seat I choose?" Harry asked, looking around.
"No, they're just chairs. I don't read anything into your selection."
Harry didn't know whether he believed Quaice, but knew if he stood in the middle of the room too long, the counselor would definitely think that was peculiar. He took the seat closest to him and focused on looking relaxed. Quaice took a nearby chair and settled back in it as if he was perfectly at ease.
"Should I call you Dr. Quaice or Counselor Quaice? Or do you prefer that I recognize your rank? Is it Major Quaice?" Harry tried to keep his gaze uncurious, remote. He noted the human psychologist's dark eyes, the thick, waving black hair, and olive complexion. In his mid-thirties and only possessing medium height, nonetheless, the man's wiry build and intense dark eyes gave him an aura of power. He came across not so much as young but as seasoned by experience. No doubt he would learn eventually that Quaice was a rising star in Starfleet.
"Dr. Quaice is fine, but you can also call me Evan if you like. I'm just looking to spend a little time getting to know you better."
"I thought you were evaluating my preparedness for active duty. I didn't think this was really about getting to know me," Harry stated.
Evan sensed the current of rigidity that Harry was obviously trying to suppress. Deciding honesty might defuse Kim's defensiveness, Evan replied, "You're right, this is a test of sorts. I will have to file a report based on our conversation today." Leaning forward, he hoped his next words would get through, "But that doesn't mean my interest and concern for you isn't genuine. As I'm sure you've guessed, I was briefed on the ordeal that you and B'Elanna survived. I don't pretend to know what it has been like for you, but I would like to help you sort through those experiences. Can you accept my help today?"
Harry didn't know what to say. If he jumped too quickly on the offer, he'd look weak or desperate. If he didn't accept, then he'd look aggressive or in denial. Realizing Quaice was staring, waiting for a reply, Harry decided to answer a question with a question, "What information do you need from me?"
Evan could feel that Harry was subtly struggling with him for control of the session. Harry wasn't overtly hostile, but wasn't going to give anything more than he had to. And this one was clearly going to make him work much harder than Torres. It figured; first one that babbled incessantly about nothing important and then one that wouldn't talk. Suppressing a sigh, he began, "How have you been handling your return to Earth?"
"The first few days were a shock, but I'm doing fine now. I'm prepared to return to duty."
"So you're doing fine," he repeated. As Harry nodded, Quaice continued, "Some people do fine for moments or hours at a time, then they have moments when they're not fine."
"I don't mean to be contrary, sir, but I really feel fine 95% of the time. The other 5% is so mild, it's easy to manage. It's like having a headache that's so weak it is not even worth the effort to find a hypospray," Harry explained.
"So, you're telling me, for example, that you have a good appetite and no trouble eating," the counselor volunteered.
"Yes, sir. My mother is an excellent cook. And she only believes in using fresh ingredients, nothing replicated, so it's a real treat."
"And you're sleeping well, no nightmares."
"No nightmares, no trouble falling asleep, no trouble staying asleep," Harry replied. "I know this might be due to the medications that they have me taking, but I expect to be fine when they stop. I've always been a good sleeper. There might even be some notes about that from my early physicals when I was at the Academy."
"And during the day," Evan continued, "no anxiety?"
Shaking his head, Harry answered, "No, Evan, it really hasn't been as bad as I thought it might be. There's not much anxiety. I don't have intrusive thoughts, depressive episodes, panic attacks, flashbacks, hypervigilance, or survivor's guilt."
"I see," he replied, "so, as you said, everything's fine".
Risking a slight smile, Harry sat back and spread his arms, "I realize that it might be unusual, but I feel as fine as I can under the circumstances."
Evan looked at him for a long time before he stood up. "Thank you for coming by, Harry."
Harry looked confused. "Are we done? I've only been here for about 10 minutes. I thought we were supposed to meet for two hours."
Evan moved towards the desk and refused to meet his gaze, "I don't see the point in wasting any more of your time or my time. I'll let the admiral know we're finished."
"No, wait! Please," Harry asked. Quaice could sense that Harry'd stood up and could hear the desperate edge in his voice. "I don't know what I did wrong, but I can do this. I can do better. Just give me another chance!"
Looking at him, Evan saw Kim was losing the mask of control he had so carefully constructed. Maybe there was some hope for this one yet. Noncommital, he asked, "Can you be honest with me? If not, there's no reason to continue."
"I am being hon -- " Sensing his displeasure, Harry stopped before he finished the sentence. He turned his back to the counselor and walked to the window. Quaice could see Harry was shaking slightly and breathing raggedly, but couldn't see that he was smiling.
Harry knew when he first walked in that Quaice expected him to act like Ensign Eager. That's who they thought he was and the counselor was no exception. So if he gave Quaice the ridiculous lies and was confronted, then maybe he could protect the important lie. Ready for the next phase of his plan, Harry let a little of his pain show for the rest of the interview.
Looking sheepish and a little guilty, Harry turned back, "I'm sorry, sir, I really am. I know it's an infantile excuse, but I thought that keeping the truth to myself wasn't completely a lie. You see, I have to get back to Deep Space Nine, and I can only get there if I'm on active duty. I needed you to write a positive report, so that's why I said none of those things were happening to me."
"How many texts on post-traumatic stress did you read last night?" Quaice challenged.
Appearing surprised, Harry asked, "How did you know I read anything?"
"You told me that you didn't have symptoms that I never mentioned. I asked about anxiety, and you rattled off about depression, panic, and flashbacks."
Blushing slightly and lowering his voice, Harry said, "I read four books and seven articles. Three of them were written by you."
Evan Quaice had to smile at that. "So if I'd let you continue, would you have quoted some of my material back to me?"
Harry just shrugged, risking a little charm in his smile.
"Okay," he said, gesturing for Harry to sit again, "Put what you memorized aside and tell me how you are really doing. Did you read all night because you can't sleep?"
"I used to love sleep more than anybody I know. Now I hate it," Harry told him honestly.
"Because sleep means hope. I go to sleep and I'm reaching to go back and undo the worst mistakes of my life. Or my mind pulls me into future possibilities that everything will be fixed in another month or another year. I feel like I'm running a marathon all night, so I'm wiped out all day. The worst is when I wake up, I'm still here and nothing has changed. Every time I open my eyes, it's a world of disappointment."
For the first time, Evan believed him. He sensed that Harry was trying to be more truthful as they talked for the next hour.
"Harry, you initially reported that you saw and possibly communicated with another Harry Kim and Chakotay from an alternate universe. How do you perceive that event now?"
Harry genuinely hoped he'd gained enough trust now that the counselor had finally asked the question he'd been waiting for. He could that feel that Quaice was watching his reaction intensely, almost trying to see into him. Harry knew his future hung on this one answer. He'd practiced his words and gestures in the mirror last night, knowing that this was the only way to sell the biggest lie of all.
Betting that a lie was best buried between some facts, he said, "That was what I really thought I saw at the moment. Everybody tried to tell me that it was just a figment of my imagination, brought on by shock. I resisted them at first, but now I know that it must be true. I will have to work for a longer time than B'Elanna to accept that idea." Harry thought about Libby and his grandmother, banking that pain would prevent hope from flickering across his face.
End part 1