Title: Seeking Answers
Disclaimer: Paramount's, not mine. No infringement intended. No money
Warning: Some Tom-angst in this. A bit worse than in previous parts.
Thank you to my beta readers, and to my twin, Kym, for helping me with
the title to this part.
Tom stood in the moonlit room, staring down at the dying man on the
floor. For years he hadn't been able to see or remember the other man's
identity. But now he could see who it was, and Tom felt numbed with
shock. It was...
Tom shuddered violently, then blinked and refocused. He looked at Cha-
kotay, who was watching him intently, noticing the other man's worried
expression. "What?" he asked.
Chakotay frowned slightly, having noticed Tom's shudder and the shocked
look on his face. "I don't like these flashbacks you keep having," he said.
He ran a hand through his hair before he continued. "I really think that we
ought to return to Voyager."
Tom shook his head. "That's not necessary. It doesn't matter if I'm here
or on Voyager. I suspect that I'll have these flashbacks no matter what."
Chakotay wasn't convinced, but if Tom didn't want to go back to the ship
before they had finished their task, then they wouldn't. He nodded his ac-
ceptance of Tom's decision to stay. "All right. We'll do as you wish... For
now." He paused for a moment, then asked. "Now, do you still not re-
member what these flashbacks show you, Tom?"
Tom shuddered again as he remembered the last scene. He hesitated for a
moment, considering lying. But he knew that he wouldn't. "I don't re-
member the other flashbacks I had today," he started slowly. He took a
deep breath and dropped his eyes to the ground. "But I remember this
one." Tom slowly lifted his eyes to look at Chakotay again. "I wish I
didn't," he finished quietly.
Chakotay blinked in surprise. "Why?" he asked.
Tom bit his lip. "Because I saw who the dying man was."
"Oh," Chakotay said. He studied Tom in silence for a moment. "Who was
Tom looked away again. As much as he didn't want to answer, he knew
he had to. If he didn't, Chakotay wouldn't be able to help him with the
nightmare. But Tom wasn't sure that he wanted help anymore. After a
long moment of silence, Tom glanced quickly at Chakotay, then looked
away again. "It was me," he finally whispered, and heard the other man
Chakotay was speechless. He hadn't been expecting this. He didn't know
what he'd been expecting, but it wasn't this. Chakotay looked at Tom and
opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He cleared his throat
and tried again. "Tom," he said. The other man didn't look at him. "Tom,
look at me," Chakotay said gently.
It took a while, but finally Tom lifted his eyes and looked at Chakotay.
"Do you mean to tell me that all these years, you've been dreaming that
you killed yourself?" Chakotay asked quietly.
"Yes," Tom answered in an almost inaudible voice.
Chakotay frowned in thought. That sounded wrong somehow. Then he
looked at Tom again. "I think you should try and speak with your spirit
guide again," he told the younger man. "Maybe she can help you *now*,
because frankly, I have *no* idea what this could mean."
Tom thought about it for a moment, then he nodded his agreement. "All
right," he said. Then he bit his lower lip, hesitating.
"What?" Chakotay asked.
"Will you help me?" Tom asked, then, at Chakotay's questioning glance,
the young man added, "Like you did yesterday."
Understanding dawned in Chakotay's eyes. "Of course I will," he said with
a gentle smile.
Tom sighed in relief and returned Chakotay's smile. "Thank you. I'm not
sure I can do this on my own. Not yet anyway," Tom added.
"Go into a trance, you mean?" Chakotay asked. When Tom nodded, Cha-
kotay smiled again. "Don't worry about it. I'll teach you how to do it
without assistance. And until you can do it yourself, I'll help you," he
Tom nodded and smiled in gratitude. "Okay. So, when do we start?" he
Chakotay smiled with gentle amusement. "Whenever you're ready, Tom,"
"I'm ready now," Tom started to say. Then he looked around and added
with a wry smile, "But maybe we should put everything away first."
Chakotay glanced at their immediate surroundings and laughed when he
saw the utensils and leftovers from their dinner. In his worry for Tom, he'd
forgotten all about it. "I guess we better," he said and rose. Holding a
hand out to Tom, Chakotay pulled the younger man to his feet and the two
men quickly cleared everything away.
When they were finished, Tom got a blanket from the shuttle and spread it
on the ground a short distance from the fire. Then he sat down in the same
manner that he had sat the day before, and waited for Chakotay to join
A moment later, Chakotay emerged from the shuttle and walked over to
where Tom sat on the blanket. Smiling, he sat down on the blanket, across
from the younger man. Chakotay shifted until he was comfortable, then
looked at the patiently waiting Tom and nodded. "If you're ready, then
let's begin," he said.
Tom relaxed as much as he could, then nodded to indicate that he was
ready to start. He closed his eyes and let Chakotay's voice flow over him,
guiding him into the trance. Pretty soon Tom was back in the garden
where he'd first met his spirit guide. He looked around and spotted her in
the tree where she'd sat the day before. As he walked toward the tree,
Tom heard the falcon's 'voice' greet him.
[Welcome child,] she said. [You have remembered your dream.]
It wasn't a question, but Tom answered anyway. [Yes, I have. And now I
keep getting flashbacks,] he added as he sat down under the tree.
The falcon flew down to sit on Tom's shoulder before speaking again.
[And now you need my help,] she concluded.
[Yes. I don't understand the last flashback I had,] Tom explained.
The falcon turned her head and studied her charge for a moment. [If you
think you are ready, I will show you how it is possible,] she told him.
Tom nodded. [I think that it's better to know. I can't continue like this.
I've only had these kinds of flashbacks today, but it drove me *crazy*,] he
The falcon studied him for a moment longer. [Very well. Come with me,
child.] With that she took off.
Tom scrambled to his feet and quickly followed his guide, who was flying
towards the forest. Then he followed her into it, wondering where they
were going. Just after the thought occurred to him, she stopped. They had
arrived in a clearing with a small cabin.
As soon as Tom saw the cabin, he tensed, somehow knowing that the an-
swer he was seeking was inside. Suddenly he wasn't so sure he wanted to
know. He looked at his guide, who was sitting in a tree.
[If you want to know the answer to your dream, child, you must go inside.
But remember, this time you are only an observer. You cannot interfere in
any way,] the falcon told him.
Tom nodded his understanding, then took a deep breath. Gathering his
courage, Tom moved toward the cabin, only to be stopped by the falcon's
[When you have entered, you cannot leave until it is finished,] she warned
Tom hesitated only for a moment before he walked the rest of the way to
the small cabin. When he reached the door, he hesitated again and turned
to look at his spirit guide. Then he turned back and, with great reluctance,
opened the door and went inside. The door closed behind him, and the
forest was quiet.
Chakotay sat cross-legged on the blanket and watched Tom's face as the
pilot went into trance. Chakotay could tell when Tom met his spirit guide
by the expression on his face. There was the same look of awe there as
yesterday. Then he saw Tom's face undergo a multitude of changes, puz-
zlement, irritation, hopelessness and even a hint of fear.
Then, for a while there was only concentration, as if the young man lis-
tened to his guide. Or more likely, followed her somewhere. Then there
was the expression Tom got when he wondered about something. That,
however, quickly turned into apprehension, then uncertainty before Tom's
face got a determined look. Then there was nothing for a long time.
After what seemed an eternity to Chakotay, Tom's face suddenly paled
and showed shock. But the shock was quickly replaced by fear, then sheer
terror and Chakotay's heart decided to visit his throat.
When Tom started to scream, Chakotay's heart skipped a beat, and he
knew that he had to get Tom out of the trance *now*. He leaned forward
and shook Tom lightly. When the pilot didn't react, Chakotay shook him
harder, to no avail.
Chakotay tried everything he could think of to wake Tom, but nothing
worked. The younger man just continued to scream. Finally the screaming
stopped, and Tom got *very* quiet. So quiet, in fact, that Chakotay
started to fear that something had happened to him in the spirit world.
Fighting down his panic, Chakotay decided to go in after Tom.