TITLE Cracked Glass
AUTHOR: Kim R. a.k.a. MYSTIC / Mysticmcknight
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of them, for if I did, the shows would have been
a lot different and not going off the air. Meaning, I get nothing out of
this but the fun of writing it.
NOTE: This is part of my "Cracked Tales" series, most of which are (Julian/
DS9 based and found on Fcanon and soon QsMistress and my site
www.slashheaven.com I have takes on Cinderella, Rumplestilskin,
Puss-N-Boots, Little Red Riding hood, and Goldie locks and the three bears)
(Voyager based: Chak and the BeanStalk . so far)
SUMMARY:  Tom gets to understand how Alice felt.
ARCHIVE: If you let me know where first.
FEEDBACK: Oh please!

"Cracked Glass"

Another damn food gathering mission that had them stuck on some forsaken
planet sweating like pigs. Tom had had his share of this type of missions to
last a lifetime, well at least this month anyway. This was the third time
this month that the food storage units paid the price of some stupid alien
attempting to take over Voyager and failing.

The only good thing about this mission was that the area was lush, green,
and not too hot.in the shade. The trees had lots of fruit to pick and there
were lots of natural herbs and roots that would feed the crew of Voyager for
a good six moths, that is, if the storage units stay in tact this time.

Due to the large amount of repairs on the ship, the away team consisted of
him, Neelix, and a few crewman, and Chakotay. Each with personal quotas to
fill before the end of the day, and Tom had just finished filling the last
of his twelve large containers, and moved to sit under a large tree that
looked like an apple tree, but the fruit was pink.

He wiped the sweat from his brow and took to his second most favorite
activity lusting after the big dark gorgeous First Officer, the first was a
toss between playing mind games with Chakotay or irking the Co till he's
temper popped. Tom smirked at this, for deep down he secretly hoped that if
he pushed Chakotay far enough the stoic man would burst, not a blood
vessel.heavens no! But he'd be so full of aggression and come at Tom, where
the two would wrestle and Tom would touch him, kiss him, and soon Chakotay
would succumb to his animal nature and take Tom. The big Maquis reeked
sexual magnetism; he just kept it all to himself, and Tom wanted it focused
all at him.

Tom made himself comfortable where he sat, just enough in the shade to cover
his activity of staring at the dark man not too far from him working.
Chakotay had taken off his jacket, and stripped down to the under shirt, and
that too was soaked, much like Tom's, and the sight was stimulating.
Deciding to enjoy this precious moment for future fantasy material, he
reached in his crate and picked out a reddish pink apple looking fruit and
decided to eat and enjoy the view.

//Maybe I should dump a few of my container's and feign exhaustion and
whined him up over me being lazy.nah. I can't waste food.but, I could stash
some of it, and do it. Oh! I love it when his face flares when he's angry,
yet tries to keep it under control. Some day I'm gong to get him to let
go.it may hurt or it may be wonderful. // Tom thought dreamily, knowing that
Chakotay wasn't paying much attention to him as per usual.

The first few bites were sweet and juicy, but the next was bitter and sour.
Tom made a face and looked at the fruit and saw that he did what most people
fear, he bit into a worm! YUCK!!!! And worse.he swallowed it!  He tossed the
apple away and grabbed another, this time he checked it, seeing no holes,
took smaller nibbles. After being reassured that no more worms were present,
he sat back and relaxed, and enjoyed the view once more.

Tom then watched Chakotay move off to get some water and then go check on
some of the other members of the team that was out of sight, and so Tom
decided to shut his eyes and rest till Chakotay came back. After awhile he
heard Neelix fussing.

"Oh my! Oh my!"

Tom looked around and watched the little Talaxian move by him.dressed like a
white rabbit? "Neelix? What's with the rabbit suit?" he asked, puzzled by
Neelix's behavior.

"Oh, Tom! I'm late, I'm late for a very important date. No time for hello or
goodbye.I'm late I'm late I'm late!" he shouted and started to scurry off
between some of the trees.

"Neelix!" Tom called out, concerned for his friend, and got up and followed
after him. Unfortunately when he moved through the trees he stumbled and
rolled down a huge hill. When he recovered, his head hurt a little, but it
would be a hell of a climb back up, and worse there was no sign of Neelix.
He hit his com badge, "Paris to Chakotay."

"I'm sorry, Chakotay isn't home right now. Please leave your name and a
brief message and he might get back to you, but I wouldn't hold your
breath.beep!" was what come over his badge, the voice unfamiliar

"What the hell?"  Tom replied, confused by this response. He tried again and
got nothing. He then thought about climbing up the steep hill, but he once
again heard Neelix's voice in a distance.

"Oh dear, Oh my!" Neelix, still dressed like a white rabbit exclaimed,
looking at a large old fashion timepiece. "Oh, my, my." Then he once more
disappeared among some tall bushes.

"Neelix!" Tom cried, and then ran after him, this time being more careful of
where he was going. When he reached the otherside, again the little Talaxion
was no where to be found. Tom decided to head back, but when he moved back
among the same bushes that brought him here, the area was different.

"Oh boy!"  Tom looked around and didn't recognize anything. The grass and
trees matched that more of a normal earth forest instead of the planet he
was on, and the sky, was bluer. He felt a bit of panic, and tried his com
badge on last time. "Paris to.anyone!"  Still nothing, and Tom was getting a
bit upset.  He took a deep breath, "Easy Tommyboy, just take it easy. There
must be an explanation for all this. All I have to do is figure a way out of
here and back to where all this craziness started."

"Where is it you want to go?"

Tom whirled at hearing Chakotay's voice, but didn't see him. "Commander,
where are you?" he called out.

"I asked you, where is it you want to go," the Commander's voice rang from
just above him.

Tom looked up and his eyes went wide. Dressed in a purple, silver, pink, and
black stripped body tight suit was Chakotay, laying on his side, resting on
large tree branch, with a huge grin on his face. "Ca.Commander?" Tom
stuttered, then his eyes went even larger seeing an equally colorful tail
whisk up and down Chakotay's side.

"You said you wanted to go some where.where?" Chakotay said, his head
resting on his hand that was propped up on his elbow. Then the big man
twitched his whiskers then stretched like a large feline, still grinning.

Tom shook his head, there was definitely something wrong with him. When he
looked up, Chakotay's outfit had changed to orange, yellow and bright
greens, his tail matched the change, still flipping from side to side.  "Ah,
Commander, what's going on here?" he asked hoping for some answer.

"Nothing," the smiling man/cat replied.

"Then why are you wearing an orange, yellow and bright green stripped body
suit?" Tom asked, still puzzled by all this.

"I'm not wearing an orange, yellow and bright green stripped body suite,"
Chakotay replied easily.

Before Tom could protest he suddenly noticed that Chakotay was right, he was
now wearing a purple yellow and pink-stripped body suit. He shook his head,
"I must of hit it when I fell," he said to himself. "I just have to get back
to the camp."

"Soooo, you  doooo want to go some place. Where?"

"Back to camp. You wouldn't know how I can do that do you?" he asked the
illusion feeling that at this point it can't hurt.


"Which way?"

"Any way you want," Chakotay smiled, his tail still flipping his
contentment, though his colors were now pink, silver, and purple.

"I want to go back to the camp."

"Then go," Chakotay smiled, his outfit now dark green, black, and silver, as
he changed positions, without Tom seeing him move. He was simply propped on
his other hand, his tail still flipping.

"Which way?"

"Which way do you want to go?"

"The way back to the camp. I don't care how," Tom added, frustrated.

"Then why should it matter which way, if you don't care?"

"I do care."

"Then go," Chakotay smiled. Then he laughed, and faded out. First his body,
leaving his tail and his smile, then his tail was gone. "For if you don't
care how you get there, it doesn't matter which way you take," and with that
even the smile was gone, and Tom was alone.

"Oh, I'm going to have to spend some serious time with the holo Doc," Tom
said to himself. Then realizing he knew just as little as he did before,
picked a direction and started walking.

After what seemed like ten minutes of wondering Tom heard voices. He stopped
and listened. They  sounded familiar, but that wasn't possible, those people
were not even here on this planet. None the less he moved in the direction
of the voices and stopped short when he got a good look at the two people
engrossed in their.discussion.

"It is to logical."

"It is not logical."

"It is to logical."

"It is not logical."

"It is to logical."

"It is not logical."

Standing before him was Tuvok and Seven or what looked like them, except
they were both dressed very strangely. They looked almost like twins, for
their clothing was identical; little blue ball caps, red and white stripped
shirt with a blue bow tie, and blue pants with red suspenders. Their shoes
were white with red shoestrings. Unconsciously, Tom moved closer, wondering
just how bad he was seeing things. After another round of it is, it is
not.they both stopped and turned to him.

Seven spoke first, "Ah, he looks intelligent. Perhaps he can settle this."

"I would have to disagree in this matter. And there for I think will not be
able to shed any light on to this conversation," Tuvok responds.

"Only one way to find out, right?"

"Right," Tuvok concedes.

The two people stepped forward towards Tom, "We have been in disagreement on
an issue for some time now. We wonder if you  would be able to answer a
question for us?" Seven states.

Tom only shrugs, then replies, "Sure, why not. Shoot."

Tuvok raises an eyebrow in what appeared to be disdain. "Is it logical or
illogical for someone to eat their buttered toast from the left side of the
bread to the right?"

Tom blinked, //Did I just hear this right?// "Ah, excuse me? Could
you.repeat the question. You know the one you've been in heavy debate for..
How long?"

"Five days," Tuvok replies.

"I must disagree, it has been six," Seven states.





Tom sighs, this was ridiculous. "Do either of you.'geniuses' know how to get
out of this place?" he asked, for they were the only people around. //Maybe
their aliens and I'm in some test chamber? // He hoped.

"Of coarse," they say in unison.

"Terrific!" Tom thought, glad that the two agreed on something.

"You go right at the oak tree," Seven states.

"Incorrect. You go left at the oak tree," Tuvok replies.





Tom sighed, "never mind," he said as he moved passed them. As he got close
to the oak tree, he could still hear them saying left and right. Then he
laughed, it was sort of like them, in an exaggerated way. When he got to the
oak tree he stopped. //Okay.left or right?//

"What about up and down?"

Tom looked up; there again was Chakotay, dressed in that form fitting
colorful cat suit, looking extremely satisfied with himself. "Excuse me?"

"I said, what about up and down?"

Tom smirked, //figures this is the kind of help I'd get.// "Ah, climbing up
the tree won't get me anywhere and there 'is' no down?"

"Denying a possibility just because it appears at first not to be an option
is like thinking but not using you head," he purred, his colorful tail, now
bright red and white, swished, and his head vanished, but the rest remained.

Tom rolled his eyes, even though to some small degree this was amusing.
"Okay, okay. But for the moment, let's stick to basics.shall we?"

Chakotay's head returned, his tattoo was now neon orange. "Shall we?" he

Tom sighed, "Can you point me either out of this place or to at lest to
someone wise enough to help me? Or where I can find some medical attention
so I can just commit myself and get it over with?"

Chakotay vanished and in a heartbeat was hovering in the air near Tom, his
tail wrapping around Tom's shoulder. "That way," he purred, letting his tail
point straight ahead, ignoring right or left pathways, then vanished all

Tom shrugs again and starts walking straight, slowly pushing past bushes and
flowers. After some time he takes a whiff.smoke? He moves faster and then
enters a clearing and again is stunned by what he sees.

Before him now is a large mushroom, with Chakotay sitting  on top of it in
lotus style. His hair is long, and is wearing dark square glasses, and his
shirt is a multitude of colors and his jeans are ripped up, and he has no
shoes on his feet. He is smoking from a long tube like instrument, with
several long thinner tubes running  from it. Then after closer inspection,
Chakotay has several; of these smaller tubes in his 'hands' three on each
side, and the main one in his mouth.

Tom steps closer, wondering what in the hell is causing him to have this
extravagant illusion. He moves around, seeing that each hand takes turns
placing the thinner tube up to the mouth, where he takes a puff.

"What can I do for you little brother?" this Chakotay rasps, his voice

"Ah.do you know how I can.get out of here?"

The Multi-armed Chakotay opened his eyes, and shifts the dark glasses with
one of his free hands. "Why would you want out when so many are tying to get

"Why?" Tom asked, this time his own curiosity working . "Why would anyone
want to.get in here?"

"Why not?"

Tom smirked, he saw this round robin coming, and decided not to for go it.
"Ah.well, regardless, I'd like to leave. Can you tell me how? "

Left or right will equal up or down," he said, then took another puff.
"Clear my brother?"


"Hmmm, perhaps it's because your mind is not free. Here, try some?" Chakotay
states with a grin as he offers one of the thin tubes for Tom to sample some
of what ever is being smoked.

"I.I don't think so," Tom said, trying to be polite.

"Unless you are free, you will never see all that can be, my little brother!
Free you mind, free you soul, it's time don't you know!"

"And you though I was annoying," Chakotay's voice purred from behind Tom.

The young pilot turned to see Chakotay in his sexy cat suit, dark rich
brown, and white strips and matching tail, lazing on a branch near by. Tom
smiled, "Well, at least he's trying to give me answers."

"I've tried to give you answers," Chakotay/Cat replies.

"Perhaps your not asking the right question, my man!" the other Chakotay

"Look, all I want is to go home."

"Home.of the body, heart or mind.you need to be precise, or the spirits of
the cosmos can't direct you, my little man!" Chakotay took several puffs,
looking dazed.

Tom opened his mouth to reply, but realized that it was a good question
indeed. Where was home for him? Was it just where he laid his head or was it
elsewhere. "How about all of them?"

"Ah, to find that, you need to open your eyes and see that which you have
not seen as a path before as one that can be traveled," the Cat purrs,
again, it vanishes.

"Ah, true, my feline friend. So.right, left, up, down? What?" the other
Chakotay asks warmly, still smoking his hookah.

Tom though about this, it wasn't making a whole lot of sense, but.//what the
hell.// "Okay.up," he said.

The hip Chakotay simply smiles. "Than take from the right, but be warned,
you may want some of the left.to ease to ride," he rasps. Before Tom can
ask, the strange Chakotay look alike reached down and grabs a hunk of the
right side of the mushroom, which is a light green, and then the left, which
is a dark green. "Be at peace, brother," he states as he hands them over to
the blond and then closes his eyes, indicating he's done for now.

Tom took the two pieces of the mushroom and thanked the.guy, and stared to
walk away, not sure what to do with them. There was something strangely
familiar about all this weirdness, he just couldn't put a finger on it. He
took the darker one and placed it in his left pocket, //left.left pocket,
simple enough,// he thought. Then he decided to take a small bite of the
light green part. In a moment everything around him spun, then everything
looked tiny.but him!

"Holy shit!" he said, not realizing that his voice just boomed till dozens
of birds flew away from him as fast as possible. He took a moment to take
his new status in.he was  now bigger than the trees and could see for miles.
It was terrific, till he looked down, he couldn't even see his feet? What if
he stepped on someone or something? No, in the long run, this wasn't going
to do. But he did take a good look and saw to his far right was a house.
"Great!" he said with joy. Then he noted that if he was normal he'd have a
long, long way to travel, and in this form.he carefully took a step.

"Fe fi foe fum," he chuckled, not able to resist, for he felt like a giant.
When he saw he was relatively close, almost a step away, he put the tiny
right portion in his right pocket, and pulled out the tiny left. "Here we
go?" he said, then did his best to bite a smidgen off the tiny morsel.
'whoosh' he was dizzy and back to normal.

Taking a moment to get his barring, he headed toward the house. When he got
close he could see that it was oddly shaped, like a giant green hat. He then
moved closer to the white picket fence that surrounded the strange building
and saw that there were two oddly dressed individuals sitting at a huge
table, filled to the nines with tea and cakes.  Just seeing the food
reminded Tom that he was hungry. "Ah, excuse me?" he called out.

"Ah, another guest!" a tall man from the far end of the table shouted. "We
don't have much room, but please join us anyway!"

Tom looked about, there were about twenty places and only two people here.
"Ah, okay," he said as he moved through the gate. Once he got closer he had
to suppress his laughter. To him, it looked like the Doctor had developed an
odd fetish for large hats, with the size tag on the outside, and Harry was
dressed like a.a hare.

"Are you hear to celebrate?" Harry the Hare asked, sipping his tea and
nibbling at his carrot cake, while twitching his nose.

"Celebrate? Celebrate what?"

Before he could receive an answer, Neelix, dressed in that white rabbit
suit came bouncing around the corner and into the area, "Ah, just made it!"
he smiled. Then he turned to see Tom."Will there be enough?"

"Oh, it will be quite a fit with all five of us, but we'll just have to
manage," the doc stated, with a mad grin.


"Yes, me, him, him, you, and that one," Harry said, pointing to what looked
like a large porcelain flowered teapot, one of many on the table.

Just then the lid of the pot toppled off, and to Tom's surprise a tiny
Janeway crawls up, looking cute with her mouse ears and whiskers. "Tea
Time!" she shouted.

Just then the Doc, Harry, and the White rabbit, who was sitting down by
now, all got up and moved two chairs to their left, and sat down and picked
up where they left off as if nothing had happened. Tom laughed, but he took
a seat and was glad for the tea and the cake, even if the cake tasted like
tea and the tea tasted like carrot cake.

"We have someone new," The Doc said, as he took the sugar bowl and added a
few drops of tea and started drinking from the bowl.

The mouse looks around blurry eyed, then spots Tom. "Oh! Did you pay?"

Tom stopped in the middle of his eating, "ah.pay what?"

"If you play you must pay.it's the law!" the tiny Janeway states.

"Um.again.pay what?" He smiled, trying to be charming, but not

"Do you not know what you've been doing?" Harry asks, as he starts eating
the teacup.

"I ah.yes, but again, what should I pay, or better yet, what do you want?"
Tom asks, deciding if he's in debt, he might as well go farther and he
finished his tiny meal.

"Ah, the real question is.what do you want?" the Doc states.

"Tea Time!" Janeway shouts.

Tom gets up, and as he gets ready  to move left he sees everyone, but the
mouse, moving right four chairs, he does the same. "I want to go home and
stop all this madness."

"Madness?" the Doc asks, "why you are among the most sane of us all?" he
grins, giving off a goofy look.

"What scares me most is that you may be right. But between the Chakotay
caterpillar and the Chakotay cat."

"CAT!" Janeway shouts, and then disappears in the teapot, lid tight, and
the pot shaking.

"That wasn't very nice! The poor door mouse is quite timid and the C.A.T
word is rude to mention at the table," Neelix scolds.

"I'm sorry, really I am. I didn't meant to, I just wanted to say that the
Chakotay that's dressed like a.a.C.A.T."

"That's twice! How rude!" the Doc states with disdained anger.

"Wait.he spelled it?" Tom stated, pointing at Neelix.

"Oh, how typical of rude people, blaming others for their mistakes," Harry
adds, his look of disgust clear on his face.

Tom saw this was going badly and thought he'd better get while the getting
was good. "I should go, and again, I'm sorry," he said, and with a bow he
moved off, out of the yard and back to the tiny pathway.

Tom started heading down the pathway as fast as his feet cold carry him.
After awhile, when he though for sure he was far from those wacko versions
of his friends, he stopped to take a rest. He moved through some bushes and
saw apples, green lush apples, just like on earth. He walked up and gathered
one in his hand and took a bite.sweet!

"Oh dear, oh, dear," he heard not far from him. He turned to see Joe Carey,
Donna Henley and Geron, rushing around all the apple trees, with a can of
red paint in their hands. They were dressed like gardeners all in red
overalls, trying to paint all the green apples red. Tom kept eating his
apple as he saw the three draw closer.

"Oh my, oh my, don't let her see that!" Joe stated, his nerves shot by the
look in his eyes.

"What's wrong?" Tom asked as he finished his apple and tossed it away, only
to see Geron run after it and painted the green bits red.

"You see, we were suppose to plant red apples, but instead we planted
green. If she comes out here and sees green.yikes!" Donna states.


"Why the Red Queen of course!" Carry replies as if it should be obvious.

"That's crazy!" Tom replied, with a small chuckle.

"Oh, don't let her hear you say that!" Geron warned. "She has to have
things done her way or no way, and has to have everyone meet her on her
terms or.or."

"Or?" Tom asked, taking the bate.

"Or its no way.which means." Geron makes a slicing gesture about his neck.

"That is a bit much, doesn't she know about compromise or being open for

"Change? You might as well ask her to take a risk and wear dark red during
the day?" Donna states as if Tom was stupid.

"Oh no! Her she comes, and the last tree isn't done!" Carry shouts, but all
the three can do is bow.

Tom turns and smiles, seeing B'Elanna dressed all in light red from head to
toe like a queen was amusing. Geron then pulled him to his knees. "Do you
wish to die?" the young man whispers. "You must bow in her presence unless
she says other wise."

Tom started to bow, but not before taking notice that Greg Alaya and Ken
Dalby were her bodyguards and looked funny in their bloomers. He giggled but
he bowed as the Red queen drew closer.

Soon a pair of bright red boots was in front of his face, the left foot
tapping madly. "Did you think I wouldn't find out?" her deep voice growled.
"I know everything, you know nothing!"

"Ah.ah, my Queen, ah, we're sorry," Carey stuttered.

"As you should be! My guest come to see me, not you.off with his head!" she

Tom looked up, and saw Ken and Greg grab poor Joe and dragged him to
several other funny dressed crewmembers and then returned to stand by
B'Elanna's side. Tom remembered his place and bowed his head.

"You," She said.

Tom felt a jab in his side. He looked to see Geron nudging him and
gesturing for Tom to look up. Tom did so, and saw a very annoyed Queen
looking at him. "Ah.your majesty?" he smiled charmingly.

"Do you know what time it is?"

Tom though about it, "Ah.no."

B'Elanna eased her angry posture, "I guess I can't fault you for being
stupid. But from now on, we do not wear dark red during the day, is that

"Very clear," Tom replied.

"Good. Stand. Now, what do you want? I am a busy Queen and can't spare much
time for the likes of you," she states and takes a few steps and continues
what was a croquet game.

"I was wondering, do you know how I can get home?" Tom asked as Ken was
handing him a pool cue.

"Home is where the heart is.next!" The Queen said, using a regular mallet
and hitting her red ball.  Then she turned to Tom, "Your turn."

Tom looked at the pool cue in his hand and at the blue croquet ball. "Ah, I
can't use this." he started to say, but the dark look in the Queen's eyes
made his stop. He smiled and stepped toward the ball.

"The Queen doesn't like to lose," a familiar voice said from behind Tom.

Tom looked, the Chakotay cat was back, lazing near the final goal stick.
Tom smiled, the more he saw of the sexy colorful cat, he had to admit he
liked him. He never imagined Chakotay as playful; this was a neat change,
even if it was just his mind finally cracking after all these years.  "I
kind of got that," Tom smiled.

"But the old blow heart could use a change of pace.no?" the cat purred.

"EWEW! Get that thing out of my garden!" The Queen shouted, but by the time
the guards took a step the Chakotay cat was gone.  "You!" she shouted at
Donna, who was still on her knees bowing. "Get me a drink.now!"

Tom watched as the Queen used Geron for a seat as Ken used a large card,
the ACE of Hearts, to fan her. He let out a sigh, to keep from laughing. "Go
a head, beat her," the Cat purred from behind Tom.

Tom looked, Chakotay was now up on a near by tree branch, looking as wildly
colorful and content as usual. "Ah, that will piss her off," he said in a
quite voice, not wanting to bring the cat's presence to the Queen's

"Why should you care? Besides, if you do this, she may even reward you for
being the first?" Chakotay said, while stretching himself around, and then
laying on his stomach, his feet in the air his tail whipping back and forth.
His dark eyes were now level with Tom's, and the gleam in them was inviting.

"That's pretty far fetched thinking that I'll win her favor by making her
angry," Tom replied.

"But she's so much fun to torment," the Cat smiled. Then to Tom's surprise
moved out and licked his left cheek. "Hmm," the Cat purred, "Taste like
Paris in the springtime," then vanished.

"Take your shot, I don't have all day!" the Queen bellowed.

Tom felt his face blushing from the lick. On some level the idea of
Chakotay doing that to him, illusion or not was.exciting. "Ah.yes your
majesty," he said, the using the thicker part of the pool stick, hit the
blue ball, not caring if it moved at all.it didn't go far.  Then he looked
to see the Queen was receiving her water.

"WATER! I don't want water! How dare you bring me water!" She shouts. "Off
with her head!"

Tom thought this was just too much, but didn't want to get involved, it was
simply an illusion.right?

"If you didn't want water you should of said so," the Cat said, but he
couldn't be seen anywhere.

The Queen looked at Tom, death in her eyes. "What was that?"

"I.I didn't say anything," he stammered.

"You can't expect people to read your mind," The Cat said, from right
behind the Queen.

Tom watched her stand up, fury in her face, looking for the voice. Then he
smelled the scent he enjoyed, Chakotay. He had been close to him, though not
this close, but he never forgot the man's unique earthy smell, and it was
wafting from right behind him. Then he felt soft fur stroke his cheek. He
turned, and once again the Chakotay/Cat was on the branch right near him. He
was so close that he could have been curled right up on Tom's shoulders, and
he looked deep into Chakotay's dark eyes and found himself falling into
them. He started to lean in, the only thought to taste those sensuous lips.

The intensity of the moment was great and Tom was a hare's breath from the
lips he so desired for so long when Chakotay spoke, "You'd better run."

"What?" Tom asked, as he stopped his descent.

"Better run," the Cat smiled, then faded away.

Tom looked around and saw the Queen was livid, and guards were running in
his direction, and she was shouting off with his head. Getting the clue, Tom
dashed as fast as he could. He was unfamiliar with the garden, and at every
other turn, he was running into guards who heard the Queen's orders. Tom ran
as much as he could, then he found himself in the center of the garden maze.
He leaned against the table that was there, and heard the guards were close
behind him.

"The mushroom!" he said with excitement. "I'll get big and they'll run like
rabbits!" He then reached in his pocket, not thinking and as the guards came
around the corner he ate the tiny piece. The area spun, but instead of being
a giant, Tom found himself on the table the size of the chess pieces that
were there, on the engraved chessboard.

"Way to go, Tommy," Tom said to himself, realizing his error. He moved and
to hid among the chess pieces, since the guards didn't seem to have a clue
as to where he went.

"Hey!" one of the white pieces shouted.

Tom looked and saw that some of the pieces on the side of the board, having
been taken by the last black opponent, were animated.like everything else.
The piece was that of a pawn.that looked just like Sam Wilderman. "Sam?"

"Excuse me, but I happen to be a queen in training if you don't mind," she
snapped, crossing her arms in a puff.

"Oookay," Tom replied. Then he looked about, and saw that most of the white
pieces looked like Voyager crewmembers.

"Here you are why us of one not are you?" A voice from near by said.

Tom looked to see Chakotay dressed like a Knight all in white. Tom smiled,
"I'd thought you'd be the King, oh high and mighty," the teased, not paying
attention to what was said.

"You are who? Surveys she all and majesty her of protector the am I," the
White Knight said with an air of authority.

Tom looked at Chakotay as if he lost his mind, "Ah, what did you just say?"

"He said that he is the protector of her majesty and all she surveys and
wants to know who you are?" a female voice replies.

Tom looks about and sees that it is Sam, her arms still crossed, her
attitude indicating her feelings her. "Okay, but then why didn't it sound
that way? And I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings," he added.

"Oh, it's not you who hurt my feelings," she said. "I just hate being used
as a pawn in the Queens struggle to out do the black Queen," she stated,
then sighed and moved over to Tom, who was still being glared at by the
Knight. She looked at Chakotay, "Army black the with not he's it's okay."

The Knight nodded and moved back to his spot on the chessboard, still
keeping an eye on Tom. Sam smiled, "I told him that it's okay, you're not
with the black army. Your not, right?"

Tom laughed, "No, I'm not. By the way, what was all that gibberish? I mean
I understand you, but when he talks or you talked to him, it.it didn't make
sense, and I thought he was going to take my head off?"

Sam laughed, "Oh, he's a pussy cat at heart. You just have to know how to
talk with him," she smiled. "Once you figure that out, he's really a
terrific guy, for a knight that is."

Tom smiled, "and what's wrong with knights?"

"Nothing, but they're always saving this one, protecting that one, and on
the whole, if you're not to the task of hitting them over the head to get
their attention, they just never get a clue. No, I prefer sweet and simple,"
she said warmly.

Tom laughed, that was so like Samantha. Tom looked about and could see that
the guards were gone. "I should be going, if I'm ever going to get home."

"Ah, do you have to?" Sam asked disappointed.

Tom gave her a shy smile, "Yeah, but it's been a pleasure. Really it has.
Oh, just for the heck of it, do you know how to get out of here? I mean, how
I get back to where I started, I mean."

"I get it," she laughed. "The only way to get back to where your adventure
began is to go back to the beginning while no longer being the same as you
started. I know how it sounds, but it's the only way," she says.

Tom looks puzzled, "I know I'm not the same guy that came in here, that's
for sure, but how do I find the beginning?"

"Faith of leap a," Chakotay's voice says form the board near the other
members of the white team.

"He says a leap of faith. He should know, most knights know about adventures
and hidden gateways. Try it, what do you have to lose?" Sam asks.

Tom thinks about this, "Well besides a broken neck? Nothing I guess.
Thanks," he says, and gives Sam a kiss on the cheek and walks right over to
the edge of the table. "Leap of faith.why not." Tom jumps.

Tom sees the ground coming up at him fast, but it never arrives as he
continues to fall. Then all around him, visions of what he's experienced
whirls around him. The view becomes dizzying and he closes his eyes, and
does his best to close this bizarre world out of his thoughts.

"Tom, Tom, Tom!"

Tom jumps, his breathing is that of a person startled, and he looks around
to see Chakotay, in uniform, near him, looking annoyed. He then realizes
that he's been a sleep. "Ah.Commander," he says, as he gets to his feet.
"Just taking a rest."

"Yes, I can see. Well, the other finished awhile ago, and I was wondering
where you were, so I came looking for you. You didn't' answer you com
badge," Chakotay states, his hands on his hips indicating he's not happy.

"Sorry, Commander. I.ah." Tom didn't know what to say. To his surprise
Chakotay stands down his annoyed mood.

"I scanned you, and found that what ever you ate along with the apple caused
you to pass out, but it wasn't serious. You.slept it off, so no harm done.
However, I would make sure you look before you eat anything again, okay,

"Yeah, sure, Commander. I'll.I'll get these containers loaded," Tom replies,
wanting to leave while the leaving was good and to think over all he just
experienced. //Did he just call me Tom? // He thought as he grabbed up one
of the containers and headed off.

Chakotay watched as Tom moved off, his face serious till the young pilot was
out of sight, then he grinned from ear to ear, laughing silently.

"Commander?" Neelix says as he walks up to the laughing Commander, "Ah,
Commander, does this mean that the confidential holographic excise with you
and the Lieutenant went well?"

"Oh, yes, Neelix. It went perfect," he smiled, then cleared his throat and
got serious. "Remember, not a word to anyone, not even Tom, understand, it
would.ruin the results. Okay?"

"You can count on me, commander, just like you could count on me to help set
the projectors up and take them down," the little Talaxian states with
eagerness to please the Commander.

"Good. Then gather everything and I'll meet you in the shuttle," Chakotay

"Yes, sir. Again, I'm glad things went well," Neelix says as he moves off.

"Me too," Chakotay grins, "In fact, they went.purrrfect!"