Starting Over 1/?

Pairing: P/T C/7 (implied) C/P eventually

Major Character death: In the beginning. 

Rated R for language and a good punch or two.

It is too long? Too much chatter? Too slow moving?

Feedback is welcome

Starting Over
By Maxine

Eighteen months, He had been back for eighteen months now. 
Commander Chakotay ex-Marquis, ex-Starfleet, twice over back from the Delta Quadrant. He sat in front of his home, his new home on Dorvan IV. Just a short walk from the home he grew up in. His mother was still living there, his brothers and sisters not too far away in 
their own homes with their families. He came back here after six 
months on Earth. Six months of trying to be something he didn't want 
to be, trying to live where he didn't want to live. It took Seven to 
push him out of his complacence. Strange he stayed because of her and he left because of her. 

He knew within a short time of their return to the Alpha Quadrant that he had made a mistake. Seven needed a mentor, a teacher 
of humanity, a friend. She didn't need a "boyfriend" and definitely 
not a lover. Seven realized that something was wrong before he 
admitted it to himself. It was Seven who suggested he would be 
happier if he went home, alone. She was going to go to Vulcan and 
spend time with Tuvok hoping to gain more control over the riot of 
emotions that were plagued her. They parted as friends, for that he 
was grateful. He supposed it helped him not to feel too disappointed 
in himself. He thought he could be happy with Seven, he thought he 
could make her happy. Oh well, can't please everyone old man. He 
chuckled to himself.

He was happier now, a bit lonely sometimes but happier now 
that he was home and doing what he wanted. He was on a new adventure, exploring the ruins of distant civilizations with no hostilities. Yes this is what he wanted to do and where he wanted to be. He answered to no one, had no schedule to adhere to. No one to share his findings with on a daily basis. Shaking himself away from that train of thought, no sense in dwelling on the never could be. Looking around he found peace, he found calm. He knew he was where he wanted to be. 

A sound brought him back to the present. It was a beep. His computer beeping again was letting him know that someone was trying to get in contact with him. He chuckled again. As much as he wanted to be one with nature he couldn't give up the modern world completely.  His computer was his one luxury. Making his way back into the house, he wondered if it was Kathryn he hadn't heard from her since she left on her own new adventure, back out into the stars and the great beyond.  He switched on the computer and was completely surprised to see Tom Paris looking back at him. A very despondent Tom Paris, hollow haunted eyes. 

"Tom? Are you alright?" Chakotay asked sitting down. He knew 
that it was bad news he just wasn't sure how bad.

"Um Chakotay, there has been an accident." Tom was so quiet. 
Chakotay could barely hear him. "Bel.." Was all Tom could choke out 
before he started crying again.

Without hesitation Chakotay spoke.

"I will be there as soon as I can Tom!" 

"Okay." Was all Tom could reply and he switched off the computer.

Chakotay immediately ran to his bedroom grabbing a carryall out of 
his closet and threw clothes in it. Not really knowing what he was 
grabbing or what he would needed. He suddenly stopped himself, took a deep breath and took stock in what he had grabbed. More slowly he 
finished his packing, trying to stay calm. In his gut he knew B'Elanna was dead, in his heart he prayed she was only injured. 

Chakotay once satisfied he had everything he needed, walked out of 
his house and to his mother's. Once inside he explained that he had 
to leave for a while some friends needed him.  He didn't know to what 
extent or for how long but from the brief communiqué things didn't 
sound good. 

His mother assured him that she would tend to his plants and keep the place free of dust until he came back. He kissed her goodbye and left for the transport center. 

He would be transported to Utopia Prime and then he would have to pick up a shuttle transport to Earth he would be there within 24 hours. Once he made his arrangements he sent a message to the Paris home and to Kathryn, believing that she would have been told of 
the accident also. On the shuttle he tried to sleep but couldn't. 
Chakotay kept thinking about B'Elanna and all they had been through 
together both in the Maquis and in the Delta Quadrant. He knew that 
she was finally happy with her life and most of all with herself. Tom 
had done that for her. He had shown her what no other man could, that.

she was beautiful, special, unique and most definitely lovable. She 
never believed before not even when Chakotay told her time and again. She would tell him that he was bias towards her because he thought of her as a little sister and all big brothers thought that their little sisters were special. Even when they were picking on them. He laughed to himself, as he thought of all times she would say that to him.

Chakotay remembered Tom and B'Elanna's courtship and wedding. He 
also remembered his reaction to it as well. He hadn't reacted very 
well to the news, if he remembered correctly. Unfortunately B'Elanna 
thought it was because he still hated Tom after all those years. He 
argued that he did like Tom, he had gotten to know him saw past all 
the masks. He liked Tom he really did. That was the problem but he 
couldn't tell her that. How could he tell her that he was attracted 
to her boyfriend? That he wanted to know what she knew about him, all the intimate details. He shivered `Spirits old man you are sad.' he 
thought to himself.

Well whatever had happened in the past didn't matter anymore. Tom and B'Elanna were happy they had Miral and another child on the way. 
B'Elanna called him last month to tell him the news. She was so 
happy. Not shocked like when she found out she was pregnant with 
Miral. She told him that she and Tom had decided that they wanted two children and the reasons why. Mostly B'Elanna had hated being an only child and Tom hated being the only boy with two sisters. If they had two and hopefully this new would be a boy, Miral wouldn't be alone and the boy wouldn't have to fight too hard for the bathroom when he 
got older.  `I hope it isn't the baby.' Chakotay sat up on that 
thought. He just knew that would devastate them both. `STOP IT!' 
yelling at himself  `Don't think the worst'. He knew though that it 
was the worst. Tom wouldn't have called him if it weren't. 

"Sir." The co-pilot broke thought his thoughts "We will be arriving in about twenty minutes."

"Thank you." Was all Chakotay to choke out. Had he been so 
lost in thought for that long? Obviously! He got up and collected his 
bag, now determined to pay attention to the rest of the ride. He 
always enjoyed the view of earth from among the stars. It looked so 
peaceful, inviting. 

Twenty minutes later the shuttle landed in San Francisco and 
he was off to the transporter again. Dreading every step of the way. 
Telling the officer on duty where he needed to go, he stepped up on 
the pad and felt the familiar tingle. Next thing he knew he was down 
the block from Tom and B'Elanna's house. With leaded feet he walked 
there. Slowly he went to the door, before he could knock it was opened and he was staring into the tear stained face of Harry Kim. 

"Come in Chakotay." Harry spoke quietly as if afraid of waking someone. Chakotay took the offered hand and shook it. He stepped in and noticed that the house was deathly quiet. 

"I got here as quickly as I could, Harry where's Tom? What 

"There was an accident." Chakotay could see that Harry was fighting 
hard not to cry. " At work, I was off working on another part of the 
engineering project. The team commander decided to test the new 
slipstream engine." Shaking his head in disgust. "Both B'Elanna and I 
told them it wasn't ready. But you know how things work in Starfleet. 
Someone higher up decided it was ready." Now he seemed angry. 

"Like he had any idea what in hell he was talking about. According to the reports B'Elanna told him three times not to test it yet this morning they did just that."

"Please Harry, tell me" Chakotay already knew what the rest of the story was but he needed to hear it anyway.

"I am not sure exactly where she was but knowing her she was 
probably standing on top of the damn thing screaming in Klingon that 
they were all idiots. According to the reports, once again, the commander called for the test to start and they started up the 
engines. Within 30 seconds the readings showed that B'Elanna was 
right and she tried to shut it down. By the time a minute had past 
everyone but her and three others were out of the area. The engine 
just ripped apart and..." Harry couldn't say anymore he couldn't 
fight back the tears. 

"They were all killed instantly." Shaking his head horrified at the loss of his crew Harry slumped on the couch sobbing. Chakotay followed him down sitting heavily next to Harry.

"Where's Tom?"

"Tom's upstairs resting the doctor came and gave him something to 
help him sleep a bit."  Harry actually looked like he needed sleep 

"God Chakotay I don't think I have ever seen Tom so bad before."
"Did you contact Kathryn? Tuvok?"

Harry nodded "Got them both. I was called by my superiors and as far 
as I know you are the only one Tom called."

"Is anyone up there with him?" Chakotay was trying so hard to 
maintain thought.  He couldn't allow himself the time to fall apart 
now. He had to do whatever he could for Tom and Miral. It was his 
responsibility, he promised B'Elanna.

"When I got here the only one that was here was the Doc."

"Where is his father?"

"Don't know honestly, didn't think to ask if Tom had called anyone. He told me he called you and then he just fell apart." Harry seemed a bit calmer now, wiping his eyes clearing his throat of the lump that had been there for the past 27 hours.

"He must have called his parents, B'Elanna's father?" 

Chakotay got up from the couch and walked to the communiqué console. 

He checked and the only Comm that went out in the last 27 hours was 
one to him. Taking a deep breath, he commed the Admiral's home.
"Hello!"  it was Miriam Paris.

"Mrs. Paris I am sorry to disturb you at home. I am Chakotay a friend of Tom and B'Elanna's" He hoped that his voice didn't betray his sorrow in speaking her name.

"Yes I remember you, you were the Maquis Captain, turned First Officer. Tom has spoken of you many times. How can I help you 
Commander?" She seemed okay with who was calling her. Chakotay 
relaxed just a bit knowing this next part was going to be hard. He 
knew from talking to B'Elanna that Miriam Paris genuinely liked her.

"I am calling because there has been an accident." Chakotay 
watched as her face turned to sheer horror at his words.

"Tom?"  Tears came immediately to her eyes. "Please not Miral!"  

hakotay shook his head. "Oh My God! It's B'Elanna isn't it?"  Miriam Paris screamed.

"I am afraid that yes, B'Elanna has been killed in an accident at the Starfleet research faculty"

"Why didn't my husband tell me this? Why didn't Tom call me?"
"I am not sure what the Admiral does or doesn't know but Tom 
has been sedated since sometime yesterday afternoon. I have only just arrived and was filled in by Harry Kim." While he talked Chakotay 
could see that Tom's mother was calling upon everything holy for 
strength and wisdom to help her son and granddaughter. Then in the 
next instant curse her Starfleet husband. He wanted to chuckle 
because he had been thinking along the same lines that she was.
"Commander I will be there in five minutes."  Then she was gone.

Chakotay shook his head in amazement he just watched a female version of Tom complete with the bounce back capabilities that for seven years had boggled his mind.

"Well Tom's mother is on her way and she is none too happy with the Admiral. She seems to think he knew and decided not to tell 

"I would not be surprised if he decided to save this piece of information until he could figure out how to save his own ass." 

Chakotay spun around at the sound of Tom's voice coming from the 
staircase behind him. He looked like hell Chakotay thought.

"Tom, do you need anything?" It was the only thing Chakotay could think to say.

"Hi Chakotay, I can't think of anything I need other than my wife and my life back. Can you get that back for me?" Normally Chakotay would have flinched at the smart-ass remark but years of practice had taught him it was just Tom's way of handling life's problems.

"Hey buddy how about something light to eat?" Harry came up 
on the two men. 

"I'm not hungry right now Harry, thanks though. There are things I need to get arranged. I am just not sure where to start." 

Tom rubbed his trembling hands over his face. At that moment his 
mother came through the front door and headed straight into Tom's 
arms for a hug. It was Tom's undoing for the sixth time in as many 
hours. He didn't think he would ever stop crying. 

"I am here now Tom" She held him close to her as they cried together "Everything will be fine. I will take care of everything."

"Thanks mom but I really need to do this."

"Tom you don't have to do it all yourself really. Your friends and family will do whatever is needed to help you through this."  Harry walked over to the huddled adults and added his own hug to the mix. Chakotay stood back unsure even after all this time if his comfort would be accepted. Mrs. Paris seemed to senses his reluctance, she turned and offered an arm to him. He glided into it. After a few minutes three of the four adults sobbing had subsided.Chakotay decided it was time to do what he could for Tom, moving away 
from the others, he walked over to the comm unit to see if there were 
any instructions somewhere as to what B'Elanna or Tom wished to have done. Meanwhile Harry went to the kitchen and started cooking. He 
figured he might not be able to take the pain his best friend was 
feeling away but he could soothe him the only way he knew how. Mrs. 
Paris guided her trembling son to the couch speaking to him quietly. 
Harry knew she was asking him what had happened and why he didn't 
contact her immediately. Tom seemed to be fine talking to his mother explaining what he could. All of sudden Harry noticed the elder 
Paris' shoulders straighten and stiffen. 

the couch and pushed her way passed Chakotay to the computer. 
Chakotay stood behind her amazed that this slightly built woman had 
that much strength to push him away, but upon hearing her words to 
the person whom appeared on the screen he understood it was fury that propelled her.

"I want to speak to my husband NOW." She was in full "Paris Mode" Tom would have called it.

"I don't give a damn who he is with or what he is doing. You tell him that if he does not appear before me either on the screen or at his son's house within the next five minutes Starfleet will be minus their infamous Admiral Paris." Chakotay decided that he never wanted her anger directed at him. He actually felt sorry for the admiral for all of two seconds. Then realized there was nothing to feel sorry for he had brought her wrath upon himself. He should have been here with his grieving son, not off somewhere playing admiral. 

Chakotay felt that Tom's assessment of his father's role in the 
accident was probably correct.

"Paris men fear nothing save their wives anger Chakotay." Tom 
seemed to chuckle but Chakotay knew he was once again using humor to cover his pain.

"Well Tom I am not a Paris but I fear your mother's anger also. I also feared B'Elanna's. Thankfully I didn't fall victim to it too often." He smiled at Tom as they both remembering the one time that B'Elanna actually threatened Chakotay with bodily harm.

//"Chakotay, Tom and I are getting married in two weeks" B'Elanna was beaming. He had never seen her so happy. "And I would like you to give me away. You are the closest person to me on this ship." 
Chakotay wanted more then anything to say yes but he was reluctant 
because he was jealous of her and he knew it.

"B'Elanna are you sure you aren't rushing this." He never got to finish.
"Kahless you bastard! Can't you just put your dislike for Tom aside for one minute to try and understand that he makes me happy. He loves me and I love him. He isn't what you think he is and I will not allow you to degrade him or me!" She was in full Klingon rage at this 
point. Tom and Chakotay just stood there unable to move for fear of 
bodily harm.

"Bel' calm down," Tom said quietly.

"Calm down? This P'Tak doesn't understand."  She growled to Tom but staring at Chakotay. "If I have to beat him to get him to do this I will."
"B'Elanna, you know that I would never tell you no. You also know that I don't dislike Tom anymore. We have moved passed that. I have moved passed that. I know he is a good man and he loves you." 
Chakotay hurried through his statement trying to get her to calm down before he had to visit sickbay.

"I was only asking if you were positive that you wanted to get married so soon. Yes I know you and Tom have been dating for a while now and I have no doubt that the two of you love each."

"Then why?" Tom stopped her mid-sentence.

"Let him finish." He motioned to Chakotay to go on.

"All I meant by asking if you were rushing was you both just decided that you loved each other and maybe there should be a time period where you both work through a few issues you have. That is all 
B'Elanna really." Again hoping that his face did not betray the riot 
of emotions going on inside him.

"I am sorry Chakotay. I know that you really only have my best interest at heart." She seemed suitably deflated now. Much calmer. "Honestly Tom and I have done nothing but talk about the issues we have with relationships and asking for help. We know that we will have to keep working on it. But can you honestly ask us to wait until they are all worked out? It could take years before that happen. I am not willing to wait years before I can get married." She was determined to make Chakotay understand their reasons for getting married.

"I am not saying that you should wait years B'Elanna. How about you give it three months not two weeks? Can you wait that long?" 

"I suppose we could take the time to work through an issue or 
two in three months." She was smiling now. Truly grateful for her 
surrogate big brother, she knew he wasn't being unreasonable just 
this side of caution. 

"Okay three months from today. If the captain agrees and you 
two haven't killed or maimed each other, I will gladly give the "blushing" bride away." Full dimples and a laugh Chakotay smiled 
at the two of them.

"Now I would love to see that. B'Elanna blushing." Tom laughed
"I do not blush, ever." She was growling again but this time 
both men knew she was also laughing as well. //

Chakotay laughed at the memory and then remember the wedding. He didn't think he would ever see B'Elanna more beautiful or Tom more handsome. Pushing the latter thought back down to where it came from. 

He looked at Tom's swollen eyes, not giving himself time to think he 
brushed a tear rolling down Tom's face away than took his hand and 
led him to the bathroom so Tom could clean up.

"Thank Chakotay for everything." Tom spoke to Chakotay looking in the mirror at himself and his friend. Yes they were friends Tom thought. After all these years he knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he and Chakotay were friends. He had accepted that friendship willingly knowing that was all that would be offered. Chakotay wanted a wife and children and he deserved that. So why did he ended up with no one at this time? Tom couldn't understand it. Although everyone had thought for years that he and the captain to would get together, when Chakotay started dating Seven Tom believed that maybe Chakotay had found what he wanted and needed. He remembered how sad he was, when after only six months of returning to the Alpha Quadrant Chakotay announced that he was going back to Dorvan V alone. He and Seven had parted company. It wasn't working 
between them. 

At first Tom though that maybe then Chakotay and the captain 
would finally get together but Captain Janeway seemed to have moved on as well. She was now married to a Captain Donald Burke. They had 
met soon after they had returned and worked side by side from almost from that first moment on ways to improve interspecies relations 
between the Alpha Quadrant and those in the Delta Quadrant who over the seven years Voyager had managed to make friends with.

Looking at Chakotay now Tom could see regret in his eyes but 
he still had his calm presence so Tom assumed he was happy in 
whatever he was doing on Dorvan.

"So Chakotay tell me what did I drag you away from?" Feeling 
calmer and knowing it was because Chakotay was near, Tom felt almost human again. But before Chakotay could answer him they both heard Miriam Paris yelling.

"You know Owen I have put up with more bullshit from you in thirty seven years and more than any woman should be expected to take 
in her entire life! So I am telling you for the very last time you either get your sad excuse of an ass over here now and be with your only son or there will be hell to pay for the rest of your miserable life!"

"Well she told him didn't she." Harry said as he walked up the stairs to Chakotay and Tom as they headed out of the bathroom.  All three men laughed but not one of them doubted that Miriam would in fact make the admiral's life a living hell for the next fifty years and even beyond the grave.

"Gentlemen I am sorry that you had to witness my brow beating 
of my husband but sometimes in order to handle a Paris male you have to show them who is in fact the ruler of the roost." That gave the 
three males more to laugh at. 

"Oh so that is what you told B'Elanna when we first got home huh? No wonder I spent more time on the couch here then when we were 
on Voyager." Tom was actually laughing and the smile was back in his 

"No I didn't have to tell B'Elanna how to handle you. She told me she was just going easy on you while you were on Voyager because I wasn't around to gently remind you that she was always right and you were lucky to have her." Miriam Paris' face lit up as she spoke about her daughter-in-law. She knew from the moment she met feisty half Klingon that they were kindred spirits. She was going to miss her.

"Your father said he will be here within the hour. Now I am not sure if that is good news or bad news for any of you, but his place is beside his son and granddaughter in their time of need."

Chakotay just wanted this all over with "Tom where did they place 
B'Elanna's body? We should try and arrange everything for the 
burial.". They went about the business of making the arrangements 
when Admiral Paris showed up.  

"I am here are you happy now Miriam?" He was cold and the look on his face told the other four that he was not happy about having to spend time with his son no matter what the circumstances were. Chakotay automatically felt his back go up and the urge to beat this man who made Tom's entire life miserable was very hard to control.

"You know Admiral if I thought it would actually matter to 
you I would tell you to fuck off and die."  Tom was shaking from 
anger. He had decided not so long ago that his father approval didn't 
matter to him anymore. He had proven himself to far better people 
than him.  

"How dare you talk to me like that? You ungrateful little shit?" the admiral was in no mood for what he felt was his son's whining.

"Ungrateful? I see I am suppose to be grateful that you are such an arrogant jerk that you allowed my wife to be killed because you assumed you knew better than her about the work she had been 
doing for the past year? I am suppose to be grateful for the almost 
thirty four years of complete bullshit you put me through to save 
your pride?" Tom was far too angry at the needless death of his wife 
and his unborn child by his father's hand to care if he harmed his 
father's stupid pride. Chakotay noticed the angered look on the 
admiral's face as he moved further into the house and closer to Tom.  
Moving to stand in front of Tom blocking the admiral from possibly 
striking him. Harry stood the right of Chakotay and Miriam took her 
stand to the left.

"Admiral I would suggest that you back off now." Chakotay was 
barely holding on to his own anger. Tom pushed passed Harry standing just in front of Chakotay. 

"So you want to give the masses a show of how you use to 
handle me? You want to kick my ass because you are my father and you can just like you did when I was growing up? You better make sure you get one good swing in because that is all you are going to get." 

Tom's hands were balled into fists and he was clenching them. He 
could feel the itching to deck this sorry excuse of a father, not for 
the first time. But now he believed he could probably do it.

Before Tom could react to the raising of his father's arm, Chakotay 
was on him and punched him in the face. "I warned you Mr. Paris. Now 
you are going to find that we backward Indians always keep our word." 
With that he landed another punch in the admiral's abdomen and down the admiral went.

"Would someone please, please get this asshole out of here." 
This came from Tom. Harry and Chakotay couldn't help but laugh 
because he voiced their own thoughts.

Miriam grabbed her husband's arm and escorted him to the door. 

"You know Owen I thought for once in your life you would find it in your heart to just be a father to your son. To put aside your stupid Paris 
pride and be here for him because he might need his father. bviously I was wrong. So be warned Owen your days are numbered." Miriam 
finished her statement by slamming the door in her soon to be ex-
husband's face.

"I am sorry Tom." Chakotay couldn't look Tom in the face he just knew Tom was going to be pissed that Chakotay pulled his "protector" act. He felt a hand on his arm and he looked up what he saw actually surprised him.

"Don't be sorry Chakotay I really appreciate the fact that you felt the need to protect me from my sperm donor." Tom stated matter of faculty.

"You know I don't think I have ever seen Owen that mortified 
in his life. He is not one who handles being handled well." Miriam 

"No shit!" Harry came out of his fog. He could not believe 
everything that had just happened. 

"You know Bel' would have loved to have seen you deck the 
admiral Chakotay.  She always wanted to but she figured it wouldn't 
be good for family relations."  Tom shaking his head thinking about 
everything his wife was going to miss.

"I can't believe you called him Mr. Paris Chakotay. That had 
to insult him more than you punching him." Miriam Paris couldn't keep the humor out of her voice. Her son was right this man was a good man and he would protect anyone he cared about no matter what the odds were. Thinking about everything Tom had told her about Chakotay she knew her son was more then just in a little bit of awe of him. If Tom hadn't been married to B'Elanna Miriam was positive that her son would have followed Chakotay to the ends of the universe. 

Although Tom never admitted it to his mother she knew he was 
bisexual. She had no problem with it, Owen was the one who thought 
that gays and bisexuals were sick people. She also knew that Tom hid 
his sexually preference from both of them for fear of what his father 
would do to him if he found out. 

None of that mattered now. Owen was going to be gone, and by the time she was done with him he wouldn't even be a trophy admiral in 
Starfleet that she promised herself and her son silently. She was 
brought out of her musing by the sound of her granddaughter crying. 
It was time to help her family deal with it's loss. 

Over the next four days things blurred for them all. People coming and going. Everyone from Voyager that could be there was. They all showed Tom that they did like him and they were genuinely sorry that his life had taken a turn for the worst. Tom was most surprised when Captain Janeway, upon hearing her mentor's accountability and sub- sequent deplorable behavior towards his son, vowed to make sure 
that Starfleet knew everything about that man that was wrong and sick. Tom couldn't believe that she would turn her back on Admiral Paris.

"Tom he may have been my mentor but you are my friend, B'Elanna was my friend. I can not in good conscience stand by and watch him get away with what I feel was murder." She was very angry "Even if it was involuntary. He should have listened to the engineers, he should have listened to B'Elanna and Harry. No one in Starfleet has the right to believe that his or her thinking is more superior then anyone else's. He is responsible for the deaths of four people. He must be held accountable for his actions." Janeway was adamant and Tom knew better then to argue with her.

"Alright Captain." Was all he could say. He prayed that she didn't ruin her career for fighting his battle. 

When everything was over Tom found himself sitting in his living room 
holding his daughter, wondering what in hell he was going to do now. 
Chakotay and Harry were still with him, but Harry was getting ready 
to leave. He had to return home and report to work the next day. Time to start all over again. Chakotay was leaving the following day. Tom 
regretted that more than Harry's upcoming departure. Harry just 
didn't have the calming effect on him that Chakotay did. Although 
Harry showed strength for Tom, he knew that soon Harry would need to be picked up off the floor from his loss of a friend and Tom didn't 
think he could deal with that just yet.

"Tom Chakotay I have to go now. I am sorry I can't stay longer." Harry hugged his friend.

"Hey I understand Harry you have a life of your own." Tom patted 
Harry on the back as they released each other "Thanks so much for 

"Harry it was good to see you again, even if the circumstances were 
lousy." Chakotay shook Harry's hand.

"It was good to see you also Chakotay, don't be a stranger cone and 
visit a little more often."  Harry smiled.

"I will certainly try Harry. Be careful."

"Bye Tom, Chakotay. Don't stay up too late reminiscing." With that 
Harry left.

"Do you want something to drink Chakotay?"

"Tea would be great thanks Tom."

Once Tom got tea for Chakotay and a glass of water for him they both sat down on the couch. Tom holding Miral in his lap.

"Chakotay I just want to thank you for being here and helping me with everything. I know that you loved B'Elanna and you would do anything 
for her. I am just thankful that you were willing to extend that help 
to me." Tom spoke quietly hoping that his voice didn't betray his 
anxious thoughts of Chakotay thinking him too weak to handle his 
wife's death and burial on his own.

Chakotay put a hand on Tom's arm "Tom I did it for you not because 
B'Elanna would have expected me to. We are friends Tom. Never doubt that." Tom heard the honestly in his voice. 

"Thanks Cha. That means a lot to me." Tom hadn't realize he 
had called Chakotay the nickname that had run through his head for 
years. Chakotay made a mental note to work on getting Tom to call 
him `Cha" whenever he could.

"You mean a lot to me Tom, I hope you know that." Looking down at the little girl in Tom's lap he noticed that she was sleeping. "Now how about we get this little one to bed. She is tired and frankly you look exhausted too." He stood and took Miral from Tom and turned to go up the stairs to her room. Tom followed numbly he realized that it was now time for him to go forward in his life and start actually dealing with his loss and his empty bed. He had been sleeping on the couch for the past four nights. Giving up his bed to his mother. 

Chakotay entered Miral's room and proceeded to get the little girl 
ready for bed. He had done this many times with his nieces and 
nephews he just didn't think about it. It was automatic. Standing in 
the doorway of Miral's room Tom watched Chakotay with some amusement.

"You know you would make a really great father, and not a half bad mother at that." He laughed when Chakotay turned and growled 
at him "Not funny Paris, I would never cut it as a mother." He 
couldn't actually pull off the supposed indignant attitude he wanted. 
He ended up laughing with Tom instead.

"Yea well I won't tell anyone if you won't." Tom laughed.

"You better not." Chakotay shot back as he put Miral in her crib he kissed her ridged forehead. Tom walked over and stood next to 

"What am I going to do now Cha? How am I going to takecare 
of her by myself?"  Tears fell from his eyes.

"Don't worry Tom you will do just fine and remember that your 
mother will not let you do it all by yourself. Neither will any one 
of your friends. You have to know you can call on any of us and if we 
can we will help."

"I know that I can get help if and when I need it. But part 
of me feels like I am just going to disappoint Miral by not being the 
father and the mother she needs."

"Tom, Miral could never be disappointed in you. You love her 
too much and she feels that every time you hold her. You are not 
Admiral Paris you would never treat a child of yours the way he did." 
Confirming Tom's unvoiced worries.

"B'Elanna knew that or she would have never agreed to marry 
you or have children with you. Believe in yourself Tom and there is 
no right or wrong way to handle anything. All you can do is your best 
and Miral will know that you tried."

"How do you always know what to say so I don't feel like a complete idiot?"

"That wasn't always true Tom but I am glad now it is." They both laughed at that.

"I want to extend an invitation to you and Miral to come and visit Dorvan whenever you want. If you need to get away or feel over- whelmed just call me and let me know you are on your way." 

Chakotay hoped that Tom would take him up on the offer. "My family 
would be happy to help you and so would I."

"Thank you Chakotay, I appreciate it. Perhaps I will take you 
up on the offer sometime."

"I hope you do. I would like to show you my world. It's a far easier life than what you have here on Earth even though we don't have all the modern conveniences you have here. Life there is better in many ways."

"I think I could use a little less confusion in my life these days. I will think about it."

"Good. Schedule time off from Starfleet and come and visit. Bring your mother. I am sure she and my mother would get on like a house on fire."

"I am leaving Starfleet Chakotay. I made that decision this morning."
"Tom don't step away from your career because of your father."

"I'm not doing this because of him. I am doing this because I 
realized that either though he ordered the testing, people had to 
know it was not a good idea but they did it anyway. They were "just 
following orders". You know how I feel about that." 

They had made their way into Tom's bedroom while they talked and now they were both sitting on the side of the bed. Neither one seemed to think twice about it. Just two friends talking.

"Tom take some time before you do this. You need to have a 
career to take care of Miral. Flying is something you need to do. 
Starfleet will give you both."

"Chakotay you know that is bullshit. I can get a job flying anywhere now. And I know I can make more money working for a private company then I ever could for Starfleet, we both know that. I am not 
saying that I will just up and leave. I will make sure that I have a 
job before I quit."

"Good, not that I was worried you would do anything irresponsible or anything. I just want you to think real careful about it." Chakotay couldn't believe he was trying to convince Tom to stay in Starfleet after everything that had happened to the both of them in the past ten years. But he knew that Tom sometimes didn't think before he acted and he regretted that more times than not.

Tom started to yawn, kicked off his shoes and laid down on his bed. 
Moving to what B'Elanna had called his side of the bed. The one 
farthest from the door, he felt everything that had happened in the 
last five days catch up with him all at once. His body was shutting 
down. With his back to Chakotay he yawned again and whispered
"Thanks again for everything Cha. Time to come to bed." His 
brain had shut down. For if he had thought before he spoke he would 
have realized the invitation he had just sent. Chakotay also was too 
tired to think, kicking off his own shoes, laid down and instantly 
fell asleep.