Title:  The Awakening
Author: Kim Riley a.k.a. MYSTIC
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount. Again since they are no longer using them I’ve decided to take our boys out of the ‘closet’ and let them play and be happy. Enjoy. 
Summary: What really lurks under the Stoic Commander's mask. 
Rating: R for language and sex
Pairing: Chakotay/ Paris 
Feedback: Please! Mysticmcknight@hotmail.com

"The Awakening" 

Tom Paris was doing his best to avoid the latest batch of wannabe high-jackers that weren't doing to shabby of a job at the moment. Voyager was taking damage and they were outnumbered five to one. It had been an ambush, set up by the local alien's under the guise of a trade negotiation. 

 The usual things were happening on the bridge, consoles frying, lights blinking off and on, the Captain shouting orders, the First Officer pulling brilliant strategic maneuvers out of thin air and tossing them the Captain's way. Tuvok targeting the enemy, having a sixty-percent accuracy rate due to the dexterity of the five smaller ships, and Tom keeping Voyager at bay from their weapons. 

 So far they knocked three of the five attackers back, but the other two were still in pursuit and Voyager was beginning to limp. "Captain, one of the ships are hailing us," Harry shouts. 

 "Now, they want to talk," Janeway slurs. "Put it through." 

 As Harry patches the signal through, the video suddenly scrabbles and the bridge is filled with a high pitched whine that could blow the ears out of any canine. Several crewmembers, including Tuvok and Chakotay hit the floor holding their ears in sheer pain as Harry scrambles to cut the link. 

Alaya being near by jumps on Tuvok's station, for the Vulcan had been rendered unconscious. Janeway is by Chakotay's side, still holding his ears, which are bleeding. "Target them!" Janeway shouts, her anger clear in her tone. 

 "Target acquired," Alaya shouts. 

 "Fire at will," she orders. 

 Tom guides the wounded Voyager to give Greg Alaya the best-shot possible, not only for Voyager, but also for himself. Over the five years of being stuck out here in the Delta quadrant, he and Chakotay had finally come to terms, even a friendship. Tom always harbored deep feelings for Chakotay, but understood the straight First Officer well enough to value his friendship, and wasn't going to lose it or him to a bunch of thugs. Between the two of them they completely took out one of the two ships, the last one breaking off and heading away as fast as possible. By the time Tom turns around, Chakotay has been transported to sickbay with Tuvok. 

 "Get us out of here as fast as you can, Tom" Janeway states as she gets up from the floor, where she was when Chakotay was beamed away, and fixes the front of her uniform. 

 "Yes, Captain," he stated, and turned around to do just that. He, like everyone else would just have to wait to find out how bad their fellow crewmembers were hurt. 

 "Engineering, damage report," Janeway asked over her com badge. 

 "Shields are down to forty-five percent, and warp is reduced by half, nothing I can't fix with time," B'Elanna replied.  "By the way, what was that that hit us last? Vorik had to be sent to sickbay."

 "A high pitched frequency charge. Thankfully for us, they had the wrong frequency or we'd be out of luck. Tuvok and Chakotay also had to go to sickbay," Janeway replied.

 "Chakotay? How about Greg, he's from Dorvan V too?" 

 Janeway looks over her shoulder at Greg who looks perfectly fine, and grimaces, "He's fine, guess the Commander just has sensitive hearing. I’m sure he's fine. Just keep me posted on the repairs, Janeway out."  Janeway closed the channel and thought she heard Tom mutter something.  "What was that Mr. Paris?"

 Blushing at being caught, "I said, Captain, that it must be an officer things, for he's always overhearing the wrong thing," Tom replies in a joking tone, doing his usual to relieve the stress level on the bridge and cover his feeling for Chakotay. 

 "You mean he's always over hearing 'you' saying the wrong thing," the Captain deadpanned, then smiled. She understood what Tom was doing, on all levels. "Don't worry, Lieutenant, the Commander will be back on your case in no time," she replied. "In the mean time, I want full damage reports on my desk ASAP. Mr. Paris, you have the con, I'll be in sickbay if you need me," she states and exits the bridge. 


 When Janeway entered sickbay, she smiled at seeing her friend and tactical officer sitting up on his biobed, as was Mr. Vorik. "I'm glad that your both okay," she greeted. 

 "Mr. Tuvok and Mr. Vorik will be fine, they just entered a state of unconsciousness to prevent any real damage being done from the high pitched sound waves," the Doc states. 

 "And the Commander?" she inquires. 

 "That's an entirely different matter. He's currently unconscious and stable. I was going to examine him further when these two gentlemen decided to wake up and tell me they were fine. I was just verifying…they are." 

 "I find it odd that the Commander was affected and no other human crewmember has been," Tuvok states with his typical arched brow. 

 "Well, since the two of you are fine, I'd order you both to rest, but since you wouldn't listen anyway, I'll go take care of the Commander and see why that is," the EMH replies and heads over to where Chakotay is laying.

 "I'm ordering you both to take the rest of the day off. There is nothing that needs either of your immediate attention, so I expect you both to take it easy till your next shifts, is that clear?" Janeway states, knowing it was the only way they'd take care of themselves. 

 "Understood, Captain," both Vulcan's replied and then exited at her insistence.  

Just after the two officers' left, "Captain, you might want to come see this," the EMH says with a touch of amazement in his voice. 

 Janeway heads over to stand by Chakotay's biobed, her friend and First Officer's left ear is bandaged, and the Doc is doing something in his right. "What is it?" 

 Just then the Doc pulls out what looks like a tiny bloody piece of flesh. He then moves it to the computer and has the image enhanced. Wrapped inside flesh is a tiny chip the size of the head of a pin. "Amazing," the Doc states. 

 "What the hell is that?" Janeway asks, not liking big surprises, especially where her officers are concerned. 

 "I'm not a hundred percent sure, but what ever it is, it's broken, that much I can assure you. It also must be why the Commander's ear's ruptured." 

 "Did the other ear have one too?" 

 "Let's find out, shall we?" the EMH states as if he's discovered a new species. 

 After careful examination, "No, just the one had it. I almost missed it. If I didn't have the ability to adjust my sight on command, I would have," the Doc states. 

 "How come you didn’t detect it earlier? How long has it been there, and most importantly, what is it?" Janeway demands. 

 The Doc continues to fix the Commander's ruptured ears, "It was within the membrane I just showed you and too small to be detected unless looking for it. As for how long, I'd say years but I'll have to examine it further to know more. Again, I don't know what it is, but perhaps the Commander does. Shall we ask him when he wakes up?" 

 "When will that be?"

 "As soon as I'm finished here. There was little damage to the ears themselves, so his hearing should be fine, but I'll have to have him awake to run further tests," the Doc replies. 

 "Alright," Janeway says, folding her arms, wondering just what it was about Chakotay she didn't know, and hoped that he knew and could tell her.  She waited quietly and watched the Doc finish up and then retrieve the hypo that would wake the Commander up.  

 The Doc inserted the hypo to the Commander's neck; "he should be waking any minute." 

 A couple of minutes passed and Chakotay started to groan, as if in some minor pain. After a while he opened his eyes, he looked dazed and confused. Then seeing the Doc, he relaxed, but instinctively raised a hand to his aching head. 

 "Commander, how are you feeling?" Janeway asked, concerned for her friend and wanting to get to the bottom of things.  She was slightly surprised by the expression of absurd amusement that crossed the Commanders face. 

 "What do you thinks is wrong, Darlin. I have one hell of a headache." 

 Except for the southern drawl, it sounded like Chakotay, but it didn't sound like…Chakotay. Janeway glanced at the EMH who only stared back, for this was totally unforeseen. "Ah, Commander…" 

 "Don't let the clothes fool ya, Darling. It's Captain," Chakotay replied as he moved to sit up, still holding his head. "Whoo! Remind me when we get back to give Jamerson a sound talking too. He said it wouldn't hurt," Chakotay chuckled. 
 "Jamerson?" The Doc inquired. 

 Chakotay turned and looked at the doctor as if he should know, "Ah, never mind," he stated slowly. Then he turned to Janeway, "So, how soon to the briefing, Sugar. For the sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can go home and soak my head for a week," he smiled wearily. 

 Janeway responded much like Tuvok to being called sugar. "Briefing? Just what kind of…briefing are you talking about?" 

 Her question brought an intense look from Chakotay. He then looked around a moment, "you were sent to bring me in, right?" 

 Finally a question that made sense, "Yes. Starfleet sent me to capture you and your crew," she replied. "But that's over five years ago, Commander." 

 "Five years! Holy Shit!" Chakotay replied, totally stunned by the information. "Talk about one hell of a memory loss," Chakotay whistled. 

 "You didn't lose your memory…well until now, anyway," The Doc stated, as he started to scan the Commander. 

 "What do ya mean, till now? I know exactly who I am," he snapped. Then he turned to face the Captain, "And unless you start coming up with some proper answers, I think it's best that you let me contact HQ." 

 Janeway folded her arms around her chest, what ever was going on it was serious, "I'd be glad to oblige, but we haven't had contact with the Federation for over five years. And I think it's you that better start coming up with answers, Chakotay…" 

 "What do you mean by not being in contact with the Federation for five years, and why do ya keep calling me that?" Chakotay replies, standing eye to eye with Janeway. "Just who the hell are you and what the hell is going on here, anyway?" 

 Janeway shifted her eyes to the EMH who, still scanning the Commander, could only shrug that he didn't have a clue as to why the Commander was acting like this.  "I’m Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager. Five years ago, I and my crew were sent to capture you and your Maquis crew. To make a very long story short, we ran into trouble in the Bad lands and through the unexpected interference of an alien life form, we were stranded out here in the Delta quadrant. Our crews had to join forces in order to survive, and you agreed to serve as First Officer." 

 Chakotay sat back down on the biobed, the news seeming to be a bit of a shock for him. "Six years under…that must be some kind of record," he states more to himself than anyone. 

 "Under?" The Doc asks, catching the statement. 

 Chakotay sat quietly for a moment, then without warning got up and headed to the computer panel. He punched in a sequence of numbers quickly before Janeway or the Doc could act. Then stood back and watched the read out as it crossed the screen. "I'll be damned," he replied, not too happy with what he read. 

 "What did you just do?" Janeway demanded, as she whirled Chakotay around to face her.

 "Just verifying your story, Captain," he replied, his eyes expressing a confused understanding that all that he has been told was the truth.   Before Janeway could say some more, Chakotay held up a hand, "What's his security clearance?" he asked, looking at the Doc. 

 "He's a hologram, he doesn't have one," she replied, just barely keeping her temper in check. 

 "Really?" Chakotay whistle's how impressed he is. "Well, as much as I'd like to know more about that, if it ain't real, I suggest shutting it off."

 "Though I am not flesh and blood, I do take some offense…" 

 "Computer, discontinue Emergency medical Hologram," she order, and the Doc never got to finish his sentence. Her eyes never left Chakotay, as she gave the order, "Alright, what's going on? And what was that chip the Doc took out of your right ear? I want answers, Chakotay…"

 "Ah, let's start there, shall we?" Chakotay states, as he moves forward and sets the lock on the sickbay doors. Then he turns to face Janeway, "Names Dakota, Captain Dakota James, at your service, ma'am," he replied charmingly. Then he got serious, "Starfleet Special Intelligence, Omega division. As to what's going on? The best I can figure is, you were sent to pull me in under the guise of my capture. They either wanted an updated report or reassign me. Either way, that didn't happen. As for that device, it's used to make sure those of us who go under deep cover don't mess up. It's…our current identity, in a nutshell," he smiled. 

 "Are you trying to tell me, that for five years, the man I called friend and First Officer of my ship…?"

 "Isn't real. He was a cover. Oh, yeah, the information used was based on some personal truths, and Kolopack really had a son named Chakotay, but he died at age fifteen. We just altered the records to show him going to the academy at that age, instead. Things like that. I was to go undercover to keep tabs on the Maquis and move up the ranks as quickly as possible, and a few other things I’m not at liberty to discuss," he states. 

 "But, what about your brothers? They…"

 "Captain, when we do things, we do it right," he grinned. "Nothing a little night run and a memory alteration couldn't fix. I was needed to get in and high, so I needed to be accepted and Kolopack was well known, but not his family. So we used his reputation. Don't look at me that way, they got a son and a brother out of it," the man now known as Dakota replied a bit defensively, seeing Janeway's disapproval in her eyes. 

 "If this is true, then why…" 

 "Weren't you informed? Darlin, get real, there are a lot of things that happen on a need to know basis. You obviously didn't need to know. The real kicker is, that the chip isn't suppose to last this long, but I guess they were wrong," he grinned, as he moved and hopped up on the biobed. "Well, I guess the good news, for me anyway, is I'm free of that damn thing, and my memory of all that's transpired will eventually come back to me."

 "First, I don't like being called, Darling, Sugar, or any other term that is inappropriate. I am a Starfleet Captain. As to your designation, that is still up for verification, but? But if it's true, then…" She didn't know what to say. Suddenly faced with the fact that the man she knew for over five years and called friend was a…a fake, was mind blowing.  She needed to think. "Does anyone else know?" she asked on the off chance that there might be. 

 "I don't think so, Dar…sorry, Captain. But then, it'll take me awhile to adjust to all that's rolling around in my head. Usually it takes about half an hour, but I've never been under so long, so can't tell ya." 

 "Under, as in undercover. You've done this before?"

 The older charming man that looked so much like her friend smiled, just like him, "I'd say a time or two," he grinned. "But till I find out what your clearance level is, I can't tell you about it, or I'll have kill you," he teased. 

 "This isn't funny," she snapped. 

 "Captain…can I call you Kathryn?" Getting a nod, "Kathryn, I know this isn't funny, but it won't do to have a cow, now will it? We have to face this one step at a time." 

 "Face it? I'm not sure how one does go about facing this? The crew is going to flip especially the Maquis. They look up to Chakotay, hell, the entire crew looks up to him, for strength, leadership…"

 "I take it, you're presuming I can't do that," Dakota replies quietly. 

 "It doesn't matter if you could or couldn't, it matters that you aren't…aren't…"


 "Exactly. We are over sixty-five light years away from home. I don't think they could understand or take finding out that the man they have looked to all these years was a fraud sent to take them down!" she snapped. 

 "I wasn't sent to 'take them down' as you call it. I was sent…ahh, I'm not at liberty to say what my orders were, but take them down was not it," he snapped in defense. "As to deal with this, I'm not sure. It's not like I can simply go back to being my cover and I wouldn't even if I could. This is who I am, and I am entitled to be just that." 

 "But the crew…"

 "Damn it, woman. Just give it a rest. I may not have all thrusters on full, but I've got the message loud and clear. Let's just step back and take a moment. I'm sure if we think, there's got to be a way to deal with this, alright?" 

 "Alright," she replied, taking a cleansing breath. She knew he was right, there was a way to deal with this, but it didn't help being over emotional at the moment. 

Dakota snapped his fingers, "Amnesia!" 

 "That won't explain the total personality change and the accent," she replies, not too impressed. 

 "The 'accent' as you call it, isn't a problem, honey…err Kathryn. I manipulated my voice all these years; I can do it again. But as far as the personality…hmm. That may be a tough one," he grins, " for I don't relish going around acting like I have a stick up my ass for the rest of my life, especially since it ain't true." He chuckles. 

 "We've been together for five years, you and your crew over six plus, they're going to notice the difference, no matter how you change you voice. And you said you were going to remember things, so amnesia wouldn't explain it, well not all of it anyway." 

 "Why not? I mean, people change after traumatic events all the time. If we take it all in stride, then so will they. They'll just chalk it up to this accident, and sure, they'll be an adjustment…" 

 "I thought you wouldn't go back undercover. Yet you're telling me that you're willing to be Commander Chakotay for the rest of this trip?" 

 Dakota's mouth twitched, "Ah, see your point. They'd buy the personally thing, with time, but an entire identity…hmm. Guess its back to the drawing board." 
 The bad feeling in her gut just tripled. It wasn't even a half an hour with this guy, and already she didn't like him. Perhaps under different circumstance, but she wanted Chakotay back, and from what she was hearing, he wasn't going to be coming back…ever. 

 "Engineering to the Captain." 

 "Go ahead, B'Elanna."

 "I just wanted to let you know, I've got shields up to eighty-five percent, and got us up to warp six."

 "Good, work, Lieutenant," she replied, glad something was going well. 

 "By the way, I heard that Tuvok and Vorik were all right, is the Commander?" 

 Janeway glanced at the man across from her. "The Doctor's still examining him," she lied. She knew that word would spread like wildfire, but if they were going to dish out a dramatic story, she'd need all the help she could get. "I'll keep you informed, Janeway out." Then she closed the channel. 

 Janeway then just stared at the man that just became the bane of her existence. "I don't think there's going to be anyway around this. Lies tend to cause more problems in the end. Sooner or later, the truth will come out, unless we find a way home tomorrow. The odds are not in our favor of that happening, so…" 

 "We come forward and let the chips fall were they may," Dakota replies, also not looking to thrilled. 

 "You're suddenly not looking to thrilled…Captain?" 

 Dakota suddenly glared back at Janeway for the first time, "Give me a break. The crew is not the only victim here. Plus, as I'm recalling things, it's starting to dawn on me just how bad this could be. All the trust that's been built up…"

 "Will be out the airlock in seconds flat," Janeway finished for him. "I agree, but what choice do we really have?" 

 "I don't know. But, let's just not jump into anything right away," Dakota replies, moving to the replicator. "I could use a drink, care to join me?" 

 "Sure," she drawls, as she moves to join him. After watching Dakota slam down his scotch, and starts to choke a bit, "Chakotay didn't drink." 

 "Yes, I did, I just…" he stopped. Then he looked at her; his memory was coming back, slowly. "I did drink, I just didn't let people know." 

 "I don't believe that," she retorted. 

 "You don’t'? Remember when you asked for a sip of my tea once, what did I say?"

 "That it was a…special herbal blend that might make me sick unless you were use to it," she answered, a light dawning. "Just how much of Chakotay was made up?" 

 "I know the background was. But, as for how I've acted over the years? Well, no one's ever gone under this long before. So, I'll have to meditate on that," he replies as he takes a second drink and slams it back. "Whoo, hit's the spot, don't it!" 

 "Bridge to the Captain." 

 "Yes, Lieutenant, what can I do for you?" 

 "We've located a small inhabited planet that according to sensors has not only a good vegetation but a heavy metallic content. It would only be a slight course change, taking no time off our journey." 

 "Good work, Tom..." 

 "Tom Paris?" Dakota asked, interrupting the conversation, while also stopping himself from his third drink. 

 "Captain?" Tom's voice sounded concerned. 

 Janeway looked across from her, watched Dakota walk up to her, mouthing that she should have Tom join them. Going with her gut, "Mr. Paris, Tuvok has been ordered to rest. Turn the con over to Lieutenant Alaya and join me in sickbay if you please. Janeway out."  Once the com was closed, "What does Tom Paris have to do with this?" 

 Dakota sidestepped the question, "I'm starving, care for a bite?" 

 Janeway held her hands on her hips, but seeing that she was not going to get her answers, not at the moment anyway, relinquished her stance. "Just coffee," he finally replied. 

 "Coffee, grilled cheese sandwich and a large mug of tomato soup, plain and hot," he ordered. 

 The replicator did as it was instructed and provided the requested items. Janeway accepted her coffee with grace and watched the man, once know to her as Chakotay, now…a stranger, take his meal, and sit on the biobed with ease and started to eat. "I have a feeling that within a few hours, I'll have complete memory of the time, for a good deal of it is already returning," he said, then drank deeply of the tomato soup. 

 Kathryn Janeway was not smiling, this was an impossible situation, and there didn't seem to be a good way to deal with it. And her curiosity as to how Tom Paris fit into this puzzle concerned her more. She did notice that Dakota's southern drawl was slipping away from him, and he sounded more and more like Chakotay. The physical was obviously the same, but now, some of the smaller gestures were clearly more Chakotay's as well, though a good portion was all new. She even started to think that this was some weird side effect brought on by some alien device. Well, once she got a handle on this, she'd have the EMH look into the matter…deeply.  Just then the door to sickbay chimed. 

*****End part I*******

"You need to use the manual override, didn't want us disturbed," he said, just finishing up his meal and taking it back to the recycler as Janeway moved to open the door. 

 The doors to sickbay opened to reveal a puzzled and concerned lieutenant Paris. "Captain?" he said as he walked in and spotted Chakotay walking and taking a seat on the biobed, simply staring at him. It took a moment for Tom to brake the gaze and turn to face the Captain, who had relocked the doors.  "Ah, Captain, is everything all right?" he asked, still unsure why he was called down here for. 

 "You tell me Lieutenant," she stated, now confident that Tom held a key to this new puzzle. 

 Tom looked confused, then he looked at Chakotay who was still staring at him, then gave a deep warm smile.  "Still so beautiful," the older man whispered.  This of course got Tom's eyes to go wide and Kathryn's brow to arch like Tuvok's. 

 "Excuse me?" Tom asked, after finally finding his voice. 

 "But, Angel, you haven't been a mere Lieutenant for quite awhile, now have ya?" Dakota smiled, his dark eyes intensely taking in the young man before him. 

 Tom's eyes went wide. He took a few hesitant steps toward the older man, looking as if he'd seen a ghost. "What did you call me?" 

 "Darlin, I called ya Angel, for that's how you looked to me when we first met," Dakota said, his smile growing as he saw some recognition grow in Tom's eyes. 

 "Dakota?" Tom asked unsure. 

 "One and only, Angel," he replied, opening his arms wide in anticipation of what occurred. For in seconds after his reply, Tom was in his arms hugging the stuffing out of him. 

 "Thank the stars, the heavens, who ever!" Tom cried with joy as he continued to hug the older man.  Then Tom leaned back and looked at the face of the older man, such joy filled him that tears fell from his eyes. 

 "Hey, Angel, what's with the tears?" Dakota asked softly, while gently stroking a few away with is right hand. 

 "I don't mean to intrude on this…touching reunion, but would one of you explain to me just what is going on?" Janeway demanded. 

 This snapped the two men out of the moment and they both faced the now very irritated woman, though never letting go of the other. Tom then looked at the older man who simply nodded. Then Tom looked back at Janeway, "Well, if you know who Dakota is, then you know a good portion already," he smiled. 

 "You're not going to tell 'me' that you're not Tom Paris," Kathryn stated, knowing better. 

 Tom smiled, "No, but Dakota is right. I’m not a lieutenant. I'm a Lieutenant Commander, with SSI…"

 "Let me guess, Omega division," Janeway finished, her frustration and anger getting the best of her. 

 Tom only smiled, "No, Delta, actually. Being who I am, I was too high profile for Omega. But…a lot of the things you think you know about my 'ugly' past, wasn't real." 

 "Not real?" 

 "I can't go into all the details, but Calidk Prime and my being drummed out was staged. I needed to play the role of the disgraced, so…I was disgraced," Tom said, a bit of emotional pain barely showing on his face. But the embrace from the man who held him quickly washed it away. 

 "Auckland?" Janeway asked, slowly putting some of the pieces. 

 "It's a bit of a long story, so in short," Tom started to say. 

 "No, please, I like long stories," she replied. 

 "I would like to know myself what happened," Dakota asked. 

 Tom looked at the older man and a mixture of sadness and joy filled his eyes. "Well, six months after my assignment to Auckland began, you suddenly stopped filing reports. But, you continued to do you job, then you started to do it…too well," Tom stated, his eyes indicating that Dakota knew what he meant. 

 A few attempts to bring you back in failed, so…they contacted me, in hopes that I could discover what went wrong and get you home safely." Tom then looked at Kathryn, "I'm sorry, Captain, but that's were you come in. It was no accident that you…were there," he said, seeing that Janeway was really not happy about being played. Then he turned back to Dakota, "Then the incident in the Bad Lands occurred. I tried to snap you out of it," Tom said, the insistence growing on his face. "I tried every override code I knew…nothing. Hell, I tried everything I could.  I mean, they suspected that something went wrong with the chip…but…" his eyes finally faltered and closed. 

 "Angel, I am…. So…so very sorry," Dakota whispered as he hugged the young man in his arms very tightly. 

 "Two questions," Janeway said, not caring if she was interrupting a moment or not. "One, why did they send you, of all people, and two, why didn't you come to me about this when it was clear we were going to be stuck out here? And don't give me any clearance or need to know crap, either!" 

 Tom faced Janeway, his look solid, "I didn't come to you for several reasons. One if you knew you wouldn't have made Chakotay First Officer, and for our survival it was needed. Two, Chakotay would of known that something was up, for you may be good, Captain, but not that good, and the possibility that he became suspicious and realized you didn't trust him could have caused major consequences, all bad. Three, the chip itself is designed not to be messed with accept under special conditions; I think why is obvious, and since those conditions don't exist out here, I wouldn't chance that you or the doc might try and…tamper with it. Plus, I kept hoping I could snap him out of it," he said, his last words, seemed like a sound of defeat. Then he checked himself, "I also didn't come to you about me, for some of the same reasons, and there really was no reason for you to know," he added with his famous Paris smile. 

 Janeway folded her arms for she hated to admit it, but they were good reasons. "Okay, but still, why you and why wasn't I told about you?" she asked, just a touch of hurt in her voice. 

 "I was to go back in, Captain, remember? As to why they didn't tell you, I don't know. Like you, I follow orders. I was to play my role and go with you. Get Dakota home, and then finish out my assignment. As for why the sent me?" Tom looked up, his eyes looking deep into the dark orbs and smiled when he saw what he was looking for. 

 "Because they thought my husband would have a better chance of bringing me home than anyone else at the time," Dakota states with a huge grin on his face as he hugged Tom even more. 


 "That's right, Captain. Dakota and I have been married for…" Tom's eyes shift awkwardly as he looks up at his mate, then back to Janeway, "almost ten years."  Tom's eyes close as he feels the embrace around him increase, and the wave of guilt coming from the man holding him. Tom hug's him back "It's okay," he whispers. 

 Janeway was simply blown away at all this. "Almost five years of you two at each other's throat and…?"  She was speechless. 

 Tom blushed; "In the beginning it was my way of tossing some of the override codes at him, for while in a riled state, I had hoped it would process better, and some…" he sighed. 

 "Because you were angry as hell with me for taking this assignment, and for having to face you husband day in and day out as a stranger that he couldn't stand," Dakota finished for him. 

 "Well, it was partly my damn fault for being insecure," Tom growled, more to himself. "If I hadn't insisted that your counter part be so totally…Straight…perhaps…" Tom just shook his head, for it was all too much and all in the past. 

 "It wasn't all dislike, Angel," he replied. "I know that part of the reason we clashed was because you made me feel things I thought at the time were wrong, and for the record, it wasn't because of your insecurity, it was because Chakotay's family was totally against same sex relations," he added. 

 "Gentlemen, forgive me for interrupting again, but we have a problem?" Janeway replied, moving to replicate more coffee. She just had cup in hand, "Captain to the bridge," Alaya's voice came over the com unit. 

 "On my way," she replied. Then she looked at the two men, still tightly embraced by the biobed. She wasn't dumb, she could see what was passing between them, and if she wanted to get things in check, she needed time to think anyway. "I’m going to the bridge. As of this moment the two of you are off duty, why? Who cares, I'll deal with it later. But in three hours, I want a full, and I do mean full report on all this. Plus, I want what ever suggestions you two can come up with on dealing with this matter. For the sake of…hell whatever, just beam yourselves to…. The Commander's quarters. I'll contact you there," she stated and then headed to the door and then stopped. 

 "Reengage EMH," she ordered. When the Doctor reappeared, she held a hand up to keep him from quoting his regular intro, "All that we have discussed, or know in regards to Commander Chakotay is totally classified, do you understand. If anyone asks about him, he's resting in his quarters, not to be disturbed, nothing else. Not a word about any of this or that chip understand? Though I want it fully analyzed," she ordered. 

 "Yes, Captain. Then he turned and was surprised to see Tom Paris and Chakotay hugging and getting, intimate with one another, then turned to ask the Captain, but was held once again at bay with a hand. 

 "All of it. Not one word…Classified. I'll debrief you later," she said. "Gentleman, room?" she eyed the two of them then left. 

 "I don't suppose either of you will tell me just what is going on, will you?" the Doc asked, the two officers behind him. 

 Tom just smiled like a kid at Christmas and then ordered a site to site beam out for the two of them to Chakotay's quarters. 

 The two men appeared in Commander Chakotay's quarters, still holding onto each other. "Angel, there is just…no words to express how very…very sorry I am about all this. I…"

 "Shhh, Just hold me," Tom states, tightening his hold on the man. "We both knew the risk and there was no way in foreseeing something like this. I'm…I'm just so…so very glad your back!" 

 Dakota guides them both to the sofa and sits down, with Tom in his lap. Tom completely curls into the man's lap and arms, wanting, almost wishing he could fit totally. They sit silently, just holding each other, taking in the moment, and letting their emotions settle. "I don't think I can imagine how hard it must have been for you," Dakota says softly, while caressing Tom's hair. 

 Tom gave a heavy sigh, "It's not your fault, and…there was little choice in the matter." 

 "Oh, my sweet Darlin, I don't know how I can ever make this up to you. I mean, I want to try…unless…?"

 Tom looks up, "Unless what?"

 "Angel, it's been over six years, no one could expect you to place your life on hold. If you found someone else…I kind of remember you and B'Elanna…um…" he gave a sigh himself. 

 "Look, I admit, I've been lonely, and," Tom looks down, guilt in his eyes, "I've found comfort in the arms of a few women, but," he looks up, "I love only one man, and I married that man, that's you…Always you! I'm just sorry…" 

 Dakota caresses Tom's face to hush him, "Listen, you have nothing, and I mean nothing to be sorry for. It may be slow, but I'm starting to get a clear picture of what you've had to go through, and the fact that after all this time…that you would still want me?" 

 "Want you? I've prayed so hard on having you back, that if the devil would have shown up and asked for my soul in exchange, I'd of done it. Of course I want you back…I love you," Tom says softly, his eyes locking with his husbands. 

 The two of them lean in and kiss for the very first time in years. It's soft and tender, full of love and hesitancy. After a few more soft kisses like these, they pick up momentum, losing any doubt as passion flares and the kisses deepen. Their lips part to let the other explore their mouths openly with the other's tongue. Soft moan's escape as they grasp tightly at each other, letting their hands roam and feel the other fully. 

 The kiss breaks for the need of air. "Do that again," Tom pants. 

 "Which part?" Dakota pants in reply. 

 "All of it," Tom answers, leaning in and kissing his husband deeply again. 

 The passion between them burns quickly and soon Tom find's himself being carried to the bedroom, where he is put down gently on the bed and his clothes being removed. "So beautiful," is whispered into his ear. 

Tom is busy removing the First Officer's uniform and soon flesh is touching flesh. Their bodies intertwine attempting to merge as one. Tom wraps his legs around Dakota's pulling their bodies even tighter together. Their hard rock erections are pressed against each other and by instinct they rock against each other as their tongues orally fuck the other. The years of unexpressed passion flow, like a damn that had been busted after years of rain that built up. They knew this first union would be fast, there was no choice, for the burning was too intense. 

"Baby…baby…I'm going to…I’m going…"

"Me too, Angel, me too…ahhhh! 

Their cry of ecstasy filled the room as their bodies exploded together. After several intense minutes, the two laid in each other's arms, panting, savoring the others essence. Though the urgency had passed, the need was far from being fulfilled. As soon as a spark of energy refilled their bodies, they began kissing and touching each other, but with more love then fire. 

"The Captain's going to want a full report," Dakota said in between sensuous kisses. "She looked like she'd blow a warp cell if she didn't get it." 

"Then you have a choice, Love. You can…" Tom continued his kisses and touches as well as he talked. "Make love to me till the last possible minute of the three hours we have or you can do the report and I'll divorce you." 

Dakota stopped kissing Tom for a moment and looked at him seriously, then grinned, "fuck the Captain," he said and passionately kissed his husband. 

"No, fuck me," Tom replied moments later and was granted his wish. 


 Fortunately for the two lovers, the Captain was kept busy with ship business that she didn't have time to meet with them when the three hour dead line arrived, and would contact them later when she could. Of course the two long time separated lovers took full advantage of this reprieve…and made love again and again, while discussing how they'd pick up where they left off, totally indifferent at the moment to the outer world around them, till sleep over took them. 

 Tom's internal clock knew it was late when he was startled awake. It took him a few moments to realize that it was Dakota that had waken him up, his body was making random, but violent jerking movements. "Computer lights!" Tom ordered. Tom's eyes took a moment to adjust and then went wide; Dakota was in the middle of a seizure. "Computer, medical emergency, two to beam to sickbay, now!" he ordered as he grabbed the covers and Dakota as the transporter beam took hold. 

 When they appeared, the EMH was already activated and moved to help Tom get Dakota to a biobed. While Tom wrapped a blanket around his waist, the Doc scanned his new patient. "He's having a grand mal seizure. Get the cordial stimulator, now," the Doc ordered, since Tom was a trained medic. 

 Tom dashed and did as he was told; though his eyes were filled with fear for the man he so desperately loved. Tom continued to follow orders, till the Doctor informed him that the seizure was under control and damage was minimal, but the 'Commander' was in a comma. "I'll have to run further test to find out what's going on and what caused this. In the mean time, you may want to get dressed. I'll authorize the medical replicator to let you get a fresh uniform," he said quietly. He may have been a hologram, but the emotional pain in Tom's eyes was clear to read; he was a total mess. 

 "I can't lose him…I just got him back," Tom cried out softly, taking his husbands hand in his own, doing his best to hold back the tears that were welling up in his eyes. 

 "I will do what I can, I promise. But you need to get some cloths on, Mr. Paris." 

 "James," Tom stated, still looking down at the man on the biobed. 


 "Dakota's last name is James. My last name is James," he replies, never breaking his gaze at his husband. 

 "I'll bring you something to change into," the EMH said, seeing that Tom was emotionally locked up where he was and left. 

 "Damn you, Dakota. Don't you do this to me," he said in a soft angry voice. "Please, don't leave me again, I can't lose you again…please," he begged as he fell to his knees, still holding his love's hand. "Oh, please, don't take him from me again," Tom cried out, all his barriers to his pain now broken, he held his husband's hand and cried.


 Tom and Janeway sat in the Doctors office, awaiting the EMH to come and make a full report on Dakota/Chakotay's condition. Tom sat in a chair, wearing a medical jumpsuit, and no shoes. His body was tight and pulled close, his arms wrapped around him, and the look in his eyes made Janeway see the truth…Tom Paris and Dakota James really were mates. 

 Janeway seeing from the office window that they had time and believing that Tom would bust a gasket any minute, "Tell me about him?" she asked in her soft voice. 

 Tom blinked and then looked at her, just reregistering that she was talking to him. "I’m sorry?"

 She gave a small smile, "Tell me about Dakota," she asked again. 

 This seemed to do the trick, for Tom immediately sat back, his face almost lighting up, "Believe it or not, you pretty much know him. Oh, sure there are some differences between Dakota and Chakotay, but their small, in some ways. I mean, Dakota's just as honorable, loyal, spiritual as Chakotay, in fact, that's really why. Dakota's beliefs are strong and when he saw an opportunity they placed it in the profile. The only big difference is, Chakotay is reserved…. And…straight, and Dakota is a lot more laid back, and…gay," Tom finished, a slight blush to his cheek. 

 "I must admit that I find it strange that Dakota follows the ways practiced on Dorvan V," Janeway replied. 

 Tom gave a crooked smile, "Well, if anyone really did their homework, they'd have noticed that the Creek don't follow some of the practices that Chakotay does. The animal guide and some of the other aspects are from Dakota's background, Comanche. See Dakota was born on earth. His mother was a Native American Descendant, and his father was Hispanic. Though they died when he was about twelve while on a mission, for they were both Starfleet also. So, Dakota was raised practically at the academy."

 "I see," Janeway replied, as she was gaining some insight to the man she thought she knew all these years. "And how did you two…get together?" 

 The thought alone brought more light to Tom's blue eyes and a blush to his cheeks. "I was rather new to SSI, and my chapter was undecided. Since I was Admiral Owen Paris' son, I couldn't do deep cover and I just couldn't disappear so I could change my looks or anything like that. So, well, anyway…I was invited to a party. One of the members was having their twenty-ninth birthday, and all SSI not on assignment was invited, it was a privet party of course," Tom smiled.  Then he shifted around in his seat, tying to relax, "My Father had a last minute function to attend and of course I was drafted to go with him, and the dress code was dress whites. Well, by the time I got out, I didn’t have time to go to the party, which I wanted to go…to be accepted…you know and go home and change," Tom said, some embarrassment crossing his face.  "Anyway, when I finally arrived, they had just gotten to the presents. They were gathered around a large table and all laughing and joking, so I moved my way in, looking for some of the people who invited me, for I was feeling a bit…out of sorts."

 "I can imagine," Janeway smiled.

 "When I got through the crowd, there was Dakota, it was his birthday turns out. He just suddenly looked up at me…I remember our eyes locking…then he gave that smile, you know, the full two dimple one that could melt a warp core?" Tom smiled and blushed.

 "Oh, yes, Lieutenant, I know which one you mean," Kathryn replied, having had it turn her way once or twice. 

 "He then stood up and said, while still staring at me…I can't believe it. You finally did as I requested and searched all the heavens and brought me an Angel." The blush filling Tom's cheeks was priceless, and the love and fondness of the memory was touching. Tom had to take a moment to keep his emotions under control as a wave of pain and the present tried to move in. After a moment he looked up and back at Kathryn. "Right then he asked me to dance, all I could do was nod my head yes. When he took me into his arms, I knew…I knew he'd be the man I'd marry and want to sped the rest of my life with…I…I still do," he said, a soft sob escaping his lips. 

 "I'm not sure how, Tom, but the Doctor…"

 Just then the EMH walked in and took a seat. He knew they wanted a full report, "I still have him in a comma," he started but was interrupted.

 "You have him in a comma?" Tom asked. 

 "It was necessary, Lieutenant. If you let me brief you on his condition, you'll understand why." Seeing he had both their attentions, "The best way to explain this is to compare the human brain to that of a computer. Though it is very much like one, since I myself…"


 "Sorry. As I was saying. If we compare the brain to that of a computer, when it is first started or born in this case, it immediately starts to download information, thus creating who we are and will become. This is the original file source as it were. The chip that was implanted was design to by pass the original file and use what we would refer to as the back up or second source as the main information file…follow me so far?"  He got a double nod and continued. "Then take into the fact that the chip itself was not suppose to last this long, simply to cease functioning, but not before downloading some basic files, then if not removed, biodegrade.  Obviously this didn't happen. From what I can tell, something occurred that made the brain start to reroute all functions in accordance via the chip, making it the original file source, totally overriding all else. But over the years, the two files started to corrupt, almost leaking if it were. The Chip did start to degrade but not anywhere as fast as I believe hoped. The 'now' second file's information started to intermix with the chip's information, overall result…Commander Chakotay."

 "So, in a way, Dakota and Chakotay have…merged?" Janeway asked.

 "No, not really. Chakotay has some small characteristics of Mr. James, but they are just that. They are a result of the two files corrupting. Over years, perhaps they would, but that is not the case now."

 "Then what is?" Tom demanded.

 "The chip is broken. It took me a while to examine it, and I discovered that I did not have all of it. The central unit that contains the most vital information of  'Chakotay' is still physically in his brain. When Dakota awakened, it was because the high pitched frequency had not only damage the chip, but stalled it, as if we stalled a computer program. When that happened, the brain moved right into it's second source file…Dakota."

 "So, what happened?" Janeway inquired. 

"When Dakota returned to sleep mode, more specifically REM stage, the part of the chip that remained in his brain was reactivated, but it was not able to override the second source, so the two files began to clash…locking up his brain, thus the seizure. I placed him in a comma for it is the closes to placing a computer in…sleep mode, till I had time to examine everything."

 "And?" The Captain asked, sensing that there wasn't good news.

 "Well, as I said. The chip was designed that when it shuts down it will download some basic files, but that was before…"

 "Before what?" Tom inquired, also sensing bad news.

 "Bottom line. The part of the chip that remains in the brain needs to be removed, and from all I can tell, when that occurs it will download all it's information…completely overriding what the brain considers a secondary file. In other words…"

 "Dakota will be lost," Janeway said in a hushed tone. 

 "No!" Tom shouted as he stood up. "I just got my husband back, I'm not going to lose him again!" 


 "Don't lieutenant me! This is 'my' husband we're talking about here. Mine!" Tom exclaimed as he accented his words by pounding his chest. 

 "Tom I…"

 "Don't tell me you know how I feel! You haven't had to work day after day, year after year next to the man you loved with all your heart and soul only to be treated as a stranger. Hell, you know how many times is cried myself to sleep after seeing the look of hate in his eyes? The same eyes I vowed my life too? Do you?"  

 The tears were flowing freely down Tom's face, "It took me a long time to cope that I had lost him, and then tried to grieve my loss while seeing him every day, and there was no one to help me. Then by some freak miracle, I get him back, you can't ask me to let him go again…you can't and I won't, you understand me…I won't!" Tom cried out as he stormed out of the office to be with his husband. 

 Janeway just sat there for a moment and gave the Doctor a gesture to inform him to let Tom be. "He needs time," she said softly. "I get the impression there's more."

 "Yes, Captain, there is. I have to operate soon for I can't keep him in a comma, and if the two clash again…serious brain damage could occur."

 "Is there anyway to bring back Dakota?" Janeway found herself asking.

 "For a short time, but eventually the two files as it were will start to clash again and he'll go into another seizure, and then I'll have no choice but to operate," the Doc replied seriously. 

 "Are you sure…Dakota's personality…information…will be fully erased?" 

 "No, but the odds of it not being done are…highly against. The brain has accepted the chip as the main file source, and to be honest, if it were just a computer, we wouldn't have so much of a problem, but it's a human brain being treated like a computer…so…"

 "So, the man known as Dakota James will cease to be and Chakotay will be…forever, and Tom really will lose his husband," she stated, feeling a rock hit her gut. The fact that this situation sucked all around was an understatement. After a few minutes, "How much time would you need to bring Dakota around?" 

 "About three hours, since I have to not only bring him out of a comma, I'll have to temporarily stop the flow from the chip, but it will only be temporary." 

 "Can't you temporarily shut it down and then remove it?" Janeway couldn't believe she was asking this. After wanting her friend and First Officer back so badly, here she was being told he would be back, but some how, seeing Tom's pain and hearing just a bit of the man she was just seeing as the keystone to Chakotay, she felt it was wrong to simply brush Dakota aside. 

 "I’m afraid not, Captain. I did think of that, but as soon as I would attempt to move the chip particle it would immediately download, and if I don't have the Commander's body ready for it, his brain would simply…overload, and he'd die." 

 Janeway just nodded that she understood. "How long before you have to operate?"

 "If I bring Dakota around, five to eight hours, but it's a rough estimate. I could keep him in a comma up to forty-eight hours, but I don't see any point to postpone it that long, the outcome won't change." 

 "I want you to sedate Tom, he needs to rest. Then I want you to bring Dakota around, and contact me the minute he's awake, understand?"

 "Yes, Captain." 

*******End part II*********

 "How are you feeling…Captain?" she asked, looking concerned and sympathetic to the man on the biobed. 
 "Darlin, we have to stop meeting this way, my head can't take it," Dakota teased; though pain was clear in his dark eyes. "How did I get back here? You're not going to tell me another five years have passed are you?"

 "No," Janeway smiled, clearly seeing the charm that could win Tom Paris's heart. Then she got serious. "We need to talk," she said, and they both understood it was not going to be pleasant. 

 After the Doc and Janeway filled Dakota in on every possible option, "There you have it. It 'is' your life, and regardless of how I feel in the matter, it's your choice," Janeway finally said.

 "Not quite mine," Dakota said softly, looking over at the next biobed where Tom was resting from a heavy sedative. Then he looked at Janeway, "Captain, if you could wake him up, we'll need some time alone, if that's okay?" 

 "More than okay," she replied, and then gave the Doc the go ahead. "If there's anything…" she didn't know what to say, but her intent and her concern was made clear. 

 Dakota watched as the EMH gave Tom the shot that would wake him up then turned back to face the Captain, " Kathryn, no matter what happens, could you do me a favor?" 

 "If I can," she replied. 

 "Look after him. I recall all his smart-ass ways, but I know Tom, that was just he way to deal with the pain he felt. Either way, this isn't going to be easy for him, so, promise me you'll look out for him?" 

 "I'll…" Janeway was going to say do what she could, but seeing the need in the man's eyes, and knowing how important it was, "I promise." 

 The Doc was the first to greet the sleeping young man, "Ah, Lieutenant Paris, there is someone here who wants to speak with you," he grinned, trying to keep the moment light. 

 Tom turned to see that Dakota was standing not far from him, but was it him? "Dakota?" 
He watched as the older man smiled lovingly and he knew. He didn't hesitate; he jumped from the biobed and moved right into his husband's arms. Tom didn't see the look that Dakota gave; indicating the others should leave now. 

 The embrace lasted a long time, "I knew you wouldn't leave me," Tom replied with conviction. 

 "Ah my Angel," Dakota replied softly, caressing Tom's hair. 

 It was enough for Tom to know there was a problem. He leaned back and could see the seriousness and the pain in his love's eyes. "What?" he asked, fearing the answer. 

 "You already know what, Darlin, they told me they told you. They haven't done anything yet. They've left it up to me…as to what's to be done…if anything."

 "What do you mean, if anything?" Tom asked, his voice starting to shake. 

 "Angel, they made it clear what my choices are. Have the operation and…"

 "No! I won't lose you again!" 

 "Shh," Dakota replied trying to calm his young husband down.

 "Don't shush me! I love you! I can't go through that all again! I can't lose you!" he cried, allowing himself to be fully embraced by his husband. 

 Dakota just hugged Tom tightly, allowing a few tears of his own to fall, for the pain he was causing the man he loved with all his soul. "Would it be easier…if…if I simply passed on?" he asked carefully. 

 Tom stopped sobbing and moved back, looking stark at Dakota, "You mean die?" 

 "There are only two options…Chakotay or death. I don't like either one of them, for you've been hurt enough, Angel…"

 "Me? What about you? Your life has been…stolen…and they want to erase you like…like you never existed!" 

 Dakota gave a heavy sigh, for there would be no easy way to deal with this. "There isn't time to go into what ifs  and what should be and what is fair. I either spend the last few hours of my life with you as my husband then pass over or say good-bye and let the crew have their Chakotay back. As much as I care for Starfleet and Captain Janeway, it's you, Angel…you that matters most to me, always have…always will." 

 "You can't say that," Tom cried softly. "I either lose you to death or I lose you to…to that…that man! This is so unfair!" Tom cried out, hugging his husband desperately. 

 "We don't have time to talk about fair, Darlin, just what you can live with," Dakota whispered. 

 "Neither," Tom replied, also in a whisper. "I can't bear to lose you again." 

 Dakota pushed Tom back so he could look him square in the eye, "Don't give me that! You survived five years with me…not being here, you have what it takes to move on with your life, and damn it, you better! For I swear Tom Paris, if you give up on me…I'll…I'll…"

 "What?" Tom asked, in that cold tone that indicated that he knew Dakota was in no position to make his threat. 

 "I won't talk to you on the other side," he finally replied. Then his face softened, "Please, Tom. This is hard enough, I…I have to know that you'll be okay," he said, the pain, the concern, and the fear fully showing on his face and in his eyes. 

 "How can you ask me this?" Tom inquired. 

 "Tom, you once said you understood the risk of our having a relationship, even getting married. This is one of those risks, but at least we have a chance to say good-bye, and the spirits have given me a chance to see to it that you'll be okay. You are my soul, and so long as you breathe, I breathe. So long as you exist, I exist. Please, I don't know if I can face this not knowing that you'll be okay," Dakota said, knowing how selfish it was. But he knew if he got Tom to promise him this, that Tom would keep his word, and in truth, that was all that mattered…Tom. "Promise me you'll be okay," he asked. 

 "How can you…?"

 "Promise me?" 

 Tom looked into Dakota's eyes and saw the plea and the love behind the question and knew what his answer had to be. "I promise, somehow, I'll be okay," he said, then hugging his love, he sobbed softly. 

 They just held each other quietly for a while till Dakota broke the silence, "There is just one more thing to decide," he said softly.

 "I know," Tom replied quietly. 

 The senior staff was gathered around the table, with the exception of Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris. Captain Janeway took a seat, seeing the eager and wanting faces of her officers, wanting to know what was going on with their First officer, and chief pilot. 

 "Captain, please, how is Chakotay? It's been over two days and we haven't heard a word on his condition. In fact, we've been denied information," B'Elanna stated, her anger and concern clear in her eyes. 

 "I am aware of the fact that you all have been…put off, but it was necessary till we had a better understanding of what was…going on with the Commander," Janeway replied, her eyes looking as tired and exhausted as she felt. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "as of 1130 hrs this morning, Commander Chakotay was operated on by the EMH for the removal of a brain tumor. It was 'his' decision to wait to see if there were any options and how to deal with the matter. The tumor was deep within the brain, and would have gone unfounded if not for the high frequency pulse. The operation was a difficult one, and I am relieved to say that Commander Chakotay has come through with flying colors," she said.  

 The room was filled with mixed emotions, even Tuvok showed a tad of concern and relief hearing this. "Tom was called in to assist the Doctor in the operation. I apologize for not informing you, but as I said, it was Chakotay's decision." It wasn't really, but Dakota had thought it best to put the blame on him, for they'd for give him a lot faster than Janeway. But Kathryn still didn't feel right about this, and she couldn't but feel that she lost what could have been another good friend. 

 Tom didn't help with the operation, he just remained near by and when he was told that the operation was done, he simply returned to his quarters. Janeway had the computer monitor his vital signs, just in case. She checked in on him every hour on the hour. As for the operation, when the man came around, the dazed look and somber smile was all Chakotay. He didn't remember a thing and his head hurt so the EMH sedated him, for he would need lots of rest. 

 "Well, we should have been told," B'Elanna stated, though she was glad to know her friend was all right. 

 "I tend to agree," Tuvok added. 

 "Well, it was his decision, and under the circumstance, I agreed. However, he doesn't remember making that decision, a result of the operation, I'm afraid. He may have other memory altercations, and with any serious brain injury, there may be some…adjustment required before he can return to work. But I have been assured that he will be fine," she added. "Also, due to the intensity of his care over the last day and a half, Tom will be off duty for awhile, then he'll be temporarily assigned to sickbay to help with the Commander's recovery." 

 She did want Tom to have time off, and the sickbay shift was suppose to be a cover, but Tom insisted in helping to care for Chakotay…that it was something he 'had' to do. Under the circumstances, she really did have to agree. 

 The rest of the meeting went smooth and Janeway turned over the bridge to Tuvok so she could look in on Tom. She found him sitting in his quarters, curled up on his sofa looking out the port view, a blanket tightly wrapped around him. She moved in quietly, she knew he was aware of her, he had let her in. She sat down softly, "Tom?"

 Tom looked at her, his eyes were red, but no more tears flowed. "I promised him I'd be okay. So somehow…I will be," he said, the pain still in his voice. 

 "Tom, you don't have to work in sickbay…"

 "I have to, Captain. The only way I'll be able to get over him is to get use to Chakotay again. It's the only way," he replied in a whisper. 

 Janeway simply laid a comforting hand on Tom's shoulder, there was no words, nothing that could be done to ease his pain. "I'm here if you need me," she finally said. Then after a few minutes of silence she got up and left. 

 Two weeks had gone by and Chakotay's recovery was slower than anticipated, for he had experienced several small seizures, in the first week. But after treatment, the Doc was assured they were permanently stopped and Chakotay on his way to a full recovery.

 Chakotay's memory was a bit fuzzy from time to time, but now after two weeks, he regain all of it, but the time after the pulse hit till he awoke from the operation. Today he was allowed to return to his quarters and he wanted to walk there, so everyone would see he was all right. He knew there were all kinds of rumors going around about his health, and this was the fastest way to stop them. 

 Tom had volunteered to walk with him. Tom had been a great help during his recovery, but Chakotay couldn't help but notice that Tom had become very reserved. When they reached his quarters, "Coming in?" he asked, hoping for a chance to talk to the young man. He recalled that he and Tom had made a truce and even started to become friends, good friends. He also remembered there was something that was always between them, keeping a distance among the two of them, but that, he couldn't remember. 

 "No, you should rest," Tom stated politely. 

 "Well, if you don't come in and watch me, who knows what kind of trouble I may get into on my own," Chakotay teased. 

 Tom gave his head a slight turn sideways, looking at Chakotay, the man was almost totally serious. With a tiny shake of his head, "I…I…shouldn't" he finally said, but by then Chakotay was already leading him inside. 

 "Want something to drink?" Chakotay asked. 

 "Sure, but I'll get it," Tom replied, resolving that he was here, he might as well. "What'll you have?"

 "My tea sounds good," the Commander replied as he took a seat in a chair watching Tom get the drinks. What he saw was Tom make the order and stand patiently for the computer to process the request as lights from the nearest Star shined in the port view, illuminating the young man. "Wow," he gasped softly. 

 Concerned, Tom snapped a look at Chakotay, "What's wrong?" 

 Chakotay simply smiled, "Nothing. It's…well…for a moment, when the light came through the window…you looked…looked like…an…Angel," he said, a slight blush possibly from embarrassment crossed his cheeks. 

 Tom's eyes went a bit wide, "Really?" he asked in a soft tiny voice. 

 Chakotay looked away, "I didn't mean to embarrass you, Tom. I’m sorry." 

 "No, no you didn't," Tom replied, bringing over the drinks and took a seat. He watched as Chakotay sipped his tea and gave a tiny cough. "Everything okay?"

 "Fine," Chakotay smiled back, "Just…getting use to it again," he replied. Then he took another sip, and looked up to see sky blue eyes staring at him with full concern in them. He smiled back, "All right, I'll tell you, but it remains between us…okay?"

 Tom blinked for this was sudden, "Okay." 

 Chakotay offered his cup over to Tom, "try some," he smiled. 

 "I'm not crazy about tea," he replied. 

 "Oh, you may think twice about this one," he grinned. 

 Tom took it and gave a small sip. Damn, it was Scotch! He looked up and saw a twinkle in Chakotay's eyes. "All this time we thought you didn't drink?" he grinned, though his eyes were clouded. 

 "I know, but there's a lot of things about me the crew doesn't know or want to," he smiled back, reaching over taking his tea, this time slamming it down. "Ah, that hits the spot," he said as he leaned back and relaxed. Then he notices Tom staring at him. "Just for the record, I don't always have scotch in my cup, just when I need a slap to my sense, and never on duty," he smiled. "Okay?"

 "Yeah, that's fine," Tom replied, still staring at the man across from him. 

 "Is something wrong, Tom?" 

 Tom thought about something's for a moment, then he smiled warmly, "yeah, everything's fine. I was wondering though, would you care to join me for dinner? I know your just getting out of sickbay, but I have some rations saved up, so would you?"  Tom suddenly found he was holding his breath. 

 Chakotay gave a simple warm smile, "I'd love to, Tom. Thanks. Though if you don't mind, how about we eat here, I’m kind of not up to walking the halls again."

 "Not a problem," Tom replied as he got up. "So, what are you in the mood for?"

 "Oh, something light. Grilled cheese sandwich and Tomato soup sounds good. Hey, isn't that one of your favorites?" 

 "Yeah," Tom smiled from ear to ear as he placed the order for two. "But, for you, I don't mind sharing." 

 "Good, because I think I've become rather fond of it myself." 

 Tom brought the meal to the table and the two men ate and talked, till Tom saw that Chakotay was getting tired. "You need to rest, and that's an order, Commander," Tom teased. 

 "Yes, sir…Lieutenant," Chakotay replied mockingly, then yawned. 

 "Come on, I'll help you get ready or you'll just flop on top of your bed."

 Chakotay laughed, "Seems you know me better than I thought." 

 Tom only smiled, a touch of sadness in his eyes as he helped his Commander get ready for bed, though Tom turned down the covers while Chakotay was in the bathroom getting changed. Tom was glad he had volunteered, for he never got a chance to change the sheets from their last use. This filled Tom with many emotions, which he kept in check as soon as Chakotay exited out of the bathroom. 

 Tom aided him to the freshly made bed and tucked him in, even going so far as to place a playful kiss on Chakotay's head. "Good night, Chakotay," he whispered as he moved to leave. 

 "Night Tom, you really are an Angel," he replied as sleep overtook him. 

 Tom simply stood there in the doorway, watching the man, in his heart, still his husband, to the world, only a recent friend and Commanding officer sleep. Tom closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around himself, allowing the feelings to pass. Then he opened his eyes and smiled. 

 "Janeway to Paris," his com badge chimed. 

 Tom moved out into the living room, "Yes, Captain." 

 "I was just checking to see…"

 Tom knew all to well, for the Captain was making herself available to him every day since the operation. "I'm find and so is Chakotay. He just went to bed. But if you have a moment?"

 "Sure, I'm in my quarters." 


 "So, Tom, how are you, really?"

 "It still hurts, but not quite as bad as before," Tom replied softly as he sipped his drink. 

 "I'm glad to hear that, but…well, I'm glad to hear that," she said. 

 Tom smiled, "what happened to ease it, is what your wanting to know, right?"

 "Right," she smiled, sipping on her own drink. 

 "Well, I know you may think I'm crazy, but I've decided something tonight," Tom stated.

 "Oh, what's that?"

 "I'm going to get my husband back," Tom stated with conviction. 

 Kathryn sat up from her chair, "Tom…the Doc was clear…."

 "That Chakotay was the dominant personality and anything of Dakota are just imprints…yes I know. But tonight it occurred to me, most of Chakotay is Dakota, and those few barriers that kept us apart before, I really think I can over come them."

 "Tom, we both know that Chakotay's…background doesn't approve of same sex relationships. You…you could be setting yourself…"

 "For a big fall, yes I know. But…I have to try," he insisted. 

 Janeway sat back and sipped her drink, suddenly wishing for something stronger. "All I can say is I wish you luck, and I'm here for you should it not go the way you hope." 

 "Thanks, Captain."



 "Kathryn, remember? Were off duty, and I'm acting as your friend, not your Captain…okay?"

 Tom smiled. "Thanks Kathryn. I know your concerned, but were as I may not be able to get Dakota back, I'm sure his feelings for me are still there and I can awaken them again, even through Chakotay's stubbornness. In fact, if I'm right, I'd say a year from today, you'll be presiding over our wedding," he grinned. 

 "Tom!" She knew what he was doing, and for the moment, she allowed herself to go with it. "That would be bigamy," she teased. 

 "Not really. For technically Dakota James and I were never married, since there is no listed record of it. Plus, since Chakotay is Dakota, it would really only be renewing my vow, now wouldn't it?" 

 She only shook her head and smiled, "Oh, Tom." 

 "You just wait and see. If Dakota taught me one thing, it's how to be patient and get what I want," he grinned. 

 "Oh really?" she teased back. "Would you care to place a friendly wager on it?" She knew it was the drink talking, beside, there was a part of her that wouldn't mind losing. 

 "You're on! 


 Everyone was gathered at small tables, with a few at a larger table, all filled with food, wine and champagne. The hall was decorated for a party and dressed in some of their finest civilian clothes. Janeway stood up, looking regal in her dark blue dress and help up a glass of Champagne. 

 "About a year ago, a young man came to me and told me that a year from then I'd preside over his wedding and with whom he'd be marring," she said, and some titers of laughter filled the air. "I of course had the misfortune to make it a bet, and in fairness, I should of known better than to bet anything with Mr. Paris," she grinned. 

 "I'll be collecting that bet shortly after the honeymoon," Tom chuckled, as he leaned over and kissed his husband, Chakotay, on the cheek. 

 "Hey, what did you bet?" Chakotay asked. 

 "Oh, don't worry, Commander, I have a feeling you're going to love it," she teased. "To the happy couple, may the best of their past be the worst of their future!" 

 Everyone toasted the newlyweds and sipped their drink. Then it was Harry's turn, but Chakotay wasn't listening. He leaned over and asked Tom again what it was, and Tom whispered something back. Chakotay turned several shades of red. "Darlin, you're really something," he replied as he turned to attempt to pay attention to Harry's speech. 

 Tom stared at his love. It took some time, but Tom came to understand that Chakotay and Dakota really were the same, like he said, but still different enough, that if felt like starting all over again, but it had been worth it. Tom heard Harry mention the betting pool on how long this marriage would last, and people were throwing out days and weeks for teasers. 

 "I'll take some of that action," Chakotay suddenly shouted. This of course got Tom's attention. 

 Harry smiled, "Well, I'd have to consider the fact that you have the inside track," he teased, "But okay." 

 "I wager everything I have that it'll last till the day I die, and perhaps even past that," he said. A few coos were heard from some of the women at how romantic it was for him to say that. 

 Tom laughed, "You're that confident are you?" he teased. Then he saw the dark eyes he loved turn to look at him, there was a deep seriousness there that moved him. 

 "I’m more than confident, Angel. I don't exist without you, I never have, and I'll never will," he replied softly and then kissed his love. "You've awakened so much within me, Tom. I can't begin to put word to it all."

 "Don't bother trying, we have a lifetime to figure it all out," replied Thomas Eugene Paris (James) Chakotay. 

<The end>