TITLE: Once more around
AUTHOR: Kim R. a.k.a. MYSTIC / Mysticmcknight
RATING: R? Not really. 
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. 
SUMMARY:  There is a secret that has allowed Tom and Chakotay to Voyagers heroes, but at what cost? 
ARCHIVE: If you let me know where first. It may also be at www.slashheaven.com 
FEEDBACK: Oh please! mysticmcknight@hotmail.com

"Once more around" 

 // Another day in the Delta, // Tom Paris thought to himself as he got up and did his best to let B'Elanna sleep. He looked over at her sleeping and his face filled with mixed emotions. He gave a soft sigh and headed into the bathroom to start his morning routine. 

 By the time he exited the bathroom dressed and ready for breakfast, B'Elanna was buzzing around getting ready and as usual was in a delicate mood. She had been for the last few months, but Tom knew how to handle it.  "You want the green shampoo or the blue?" he asked casually as he moved to make the bed. 

 "Green," she barked, then stopped and turned to look at her husband. "Why do you ask me that?"


 "I suddenly noticed that out of no where in the morning, you'll ask me what type of shampoo I want to use. I want to know why?" 

 Tom gave his most charming smile, "So I know what to get you, for you tend to get so busy," he lied as he wrapped his arms around his wife. The real reason was so he could judge her mood and how he should act. Green meant he better help out with stuff and walk on egg shells, blue meant he could relax for she was in a good mood; it was becoming more green days than blue as of late. 

 "Nice try, Paris. You just want to save on rations again, don't you?" she growled slightly. 

 "Ah, you caught me," he chuckled and was glad that his wife let it go and moved on to finish getting ready for work. As soon as she entered the bathroom and the door closed the smile faded from his face and he gave a heavy sigh.  He turned and finished cleaning up their quarters and waited to walk with her to breakfast. 


 Chakotay rolled out of bed before the alarm went off. He went straight into his morning routine, shaking the cobwebs out of his head with light excise and then meditation. He then pulled out a personal data PADD from underneath his mattress and activated it. When he finished reading it, whatever information was on it gave him reason to grin, for it was something of good tidings. 

 He grabbed a shower and was drying his hair as he first walked to check the time then to the com unit and just stood there, and as if on cue it sounded. 

 "Janeway to Chakotay."

 "Yes, Captain?" he asked as if he wasn't expecting her call. 

 "Are you going to join me for breakfast, even if it is your day off? We found some interesting nebula clouds on long distance scans, and I'd like to go over them with you" 

 "Wouldn't miss it," he smiled. "See you in fifteen minutes, Chakotay out." 

 With pep in his step, he got dressed in his uniform, for he still had some things to do today in his office and before leaving he turned off the data PADD and placed it back into its hiding place, then headed out to meet Kathryn for breakfast. 

 Tom was listening as attentive as he could to his best friend Harry and B'Elanna drone on and on about engineering specs as he ate his breakfast. No one paid much attention to the fact that Tom had long since stopped complaining about Neelix's cooking or the fact that he was mouthing Harry and B'Elanna's conversation word by word, while trying not to look as board as his eyes showed. 

 Then Tom saw the Commander approaching and sat up and took noticed. His movement attracted the other two at the table and they too looked to see Chakotay coming. 

 "Commander," all three officers replied. 

 "Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Ensign," Chakotay chuckled. 

 "What's up, Chief? Slumming on your day off?" Tom teased. 

 Chakotay laughed, "No, just making ready for a few things. Today's the day," he said with a knowing smile. 

 Harry and B'Elanna looked at him puzzled. 

 "Today? Really?" Tom asked in a mix of disbelief and excitement. 

 "I would never kid about a thing like that, Tom," Chakotay smiled. "Well, if you excuse me, I have some nebula clouds to discuss with the Captain," he added and moved off to join Janeway, an obvious bounce in his step. 

 Harry and B'Elanna turned to look at Tom who was now glowing with excitement. "What's so special about today?" she asked. 

 Tom took a huge mouthful of food and spoke some gibberish, and then when he swallowed he excused himself, saying he'd see Harry on the bridge and gave his wife a kiss on the cheek and headed out; he too had a bounce in his step. 


 The day had been like any other, the bridge was at ease, and Harry Kim was glad. He recalled some of the past tensions between Tom and Chakotay and others over the years, but that was the past, and now things couldn't be better. Today, Tom was a little quiet, but with the baby several months away, it made sense. 

 He was on his way to see Seven since shift was over, and he wanted to go over some numbers on a little project he had been working on. The corridor was empty, so it was still a strain, but he heard it, a sound from one of the smaller cargo areas. He stopped and listened. It sounded like heavy breathing…a moan? He quietly moved to check it out when he heard a voice. 

 "I love you! I miss you so much…yes, oh yes, Love, do that again!" 

 Even hushed, it was still clear to tell, it was Tom's voice. Harry blushed. He remembered Tom saying to him once, that B'Elanna indulged his…exhibitionist side. He decided he'd tease Tom about it later and moved off to leave the couple some privacy. 

 He couldn't suppress the grin on his face as he moved away and down the hall several cargo areas away and entered Seven's area. "Evening, Seven…B'Elanna!"  Harry's jaw dropped, as did the PADD he was carrying.  It took a moment but he gathered his senses and the PADD. 

 "Harry? What's wrong?" 

 "I…I ah, didn't expect to see you here," he stuttered. He didn't want to hurt B'Elanna, but Tom…that just may be another story, but first he had to know if he had his thoughts right. 

 "Harry, what's wrong?" B'Elanna asked again, not buying his pitiful excuse. 

 It was either spill the beans and cause a major problem, and he just may of heard wrong…he prayed, or look the fool //Tom, you better not be doing what I think your doing, // he thought. He thought of an embarrassing thought he knew would help him blush and looked bashful, letting...hoping B'Elanna would think he wanted to see Seven alone. That was a while ago, but it just might work. 

 B'Elanna took a moment to look at Harry and then at Seven, and thankfully for Harry, she gathered the idea he wanted her to have. "Oh," she said softly. "Well, I'm done here," she replied and gave a departing smile and left. 

 "Why did you want her to think you wanted to pursue me?" Seven asked. 

 "Never did pull your punch, did you," Harry grumbled.  Seeing Seven about to respond he held up a hand. "I'm sorry. I can't explain it now. I'll…I'll talk to you later." Harry turned and headed to his quarters. He needed a drink and time to get his mind under control or he was going to deck Tom.  After twenty minutes he contacted Tom and asked if he could join him for a drink, under the guise that he needed to talk. He knew that if Tom had a clue he was the topic he wouldn't show up.  

 The chime sounded and Tom walked in, still wearing his uniform. Harry moved across the room and handed Tom a drink and was grateful that at least his friend had taken a bath or something. But Tom seemed anxious, and that was another aspect that was bothering Harry. 

 "Tom, you look like your ready to bolt, what's up?" he asked, still not sure how to approach what he thought he knew. 

 "Oh, nothing much," Tom said, but Harry could see that Tom was lying, and not even bothering to cover it up. 

 That alone was enough for Harry to find the courage, "Okay, Tom. Out with it! Are you cheating on B'Elanna?" 

 Tom didn’t even seemed shocked by the accusation as he finished his drink. "Computer, time?" 

 <Time is 18:34 hundred hours. >

 Tom gave a small smile. Then pressed his lips together, "Harry, Harry, Harry," he said, almost chuckling at his young friend. 

 "Are you going to answer me?" Harry asked, his anger starting to show. 

 "Not yet," Tom smiled, not bothered by Harry's emotional display. Then he started reaching for his com badge even before it made a sound. 

 "Janeway to Paris. I need you to report to my ready room. I have an away mission I need you to fly." 

 "On my way, Captain," Tom replied and then closed the channel. He then moved and placed his glass down on the nearest table. "Harry, for the sake of B'Elanna, I'll answer any questions you have…when I get back. Till then, can you keep this on ice?" 

 Harry felt put on the spot, but for B'Elanna, " Okay. But when you get back, we're having a talk."

 "As you wish," Tom replied and headed out with no sign of concern. 


 Tom had the Delta Flyer ready to go and just stepped out to greet Commander Chakotay who was accompanying him on this mission. The two men exchanged a huge smile as Chakotay handed Tom his bag. "All set?"


 "Chakotay," Janeway's voice chimed in from the doorway. 

 Chakotay turned to see her walking in; his expression first looked that of puzzled then it was masked to the neutral expression he always had. "Yes, Captain?"

 "I've been thinking about it. Perhaps I should go…"

 Chakotay and Tom did their impression of Tuvok, arching an eyebrow. Chakotay simply smiled, "That's very thoughtful of you, Kathryn, but it's my mission," he stated. Then he gave her a clasp on the shoulder and turned and got on board. 

 Tom smiled, shrugged and also got on board the Delta Flyer, leaving a very puzzled Janeway in their wake. 

 Janeway saw the shuttle door close and couldn't help but be angered, for she felt like she had just been dismissed, by her First Officer no less. //When he gets back, we are going to have to discuss this, // she thought and headed out so the shuttle could launch. 

 Tom got clearance and the shuttle launched toward the nebula. When all checked out he turned on the autopilot and looked at Chakotay, "That was close?"

 "Not really, but it was different," Chakotay smiled. 

 "Yeah," Tom laughed lightly. Then he gave a heavy sigh. "Don't you get tired of this?" 

 Chakotay reached over and placed a comforting hand on Tom's shoulder, "Yes, but, we have no choice, not really." 

 "That's not true," Tom replied with a touch of anger. 

 "You know what will happen if we don't do this. Can you really accept that?" 

 Tom tried to glare at Chakotay, but he couldn't keep his anger, then he gave a heavy sigh. "No. But that doesn't mean I’m not going to bitch. And for the record, it's my turn to bitch!" 

 Chakotay laughed, "You got it. But what do you think you'll get from it?"

 "Hey, the last time when you bitched it got us three days, and we both know I'm much better at bitching than you are," Tom teased. 

 "No argument there," the older man laughed warmly. Then he too let out a heavy sigh. "I do know how you feel, Tom. But, it's what we agreed to; we made the commitment, now we have to deal with it. At least…"

 "We're together," Tom added as he reached out and took Chakotay's hand lovingly.  A few moments of silence as the nebula cloud grew closer, "So, what should be do for our sixth…"

 "Seventh," Chakotay interjected. 

 "Seventh? Are you sure?"

 "Positive," Chakotay said as he released Tom's hand and got up to retrieve his bag and pulled out the PADD. He activated it, yep, seventh."

 Tom whistled, "Whoa. Okay, seventh time? What does the list say?" 

 "Subtle, subtle, shock, subtle, shock, and subtle," Chakotay replied. 

 "Well, that only means one thing…" Tom grinned. 

 "Shocking," the both stated together and laughed. 

 The autopilot signal sounded alerting them that they were about to enter the nebula. Tom took back the controls as Chakotay returned to his seat. "Got any good ideas?"

 "Oh yeah," Chakotay smiled as they entered into the nebula. 


 B'Elanna was pacing on the bridge, awaiting the return of the shuttle. What were to have been a few hours had turned into a three-day event, and just now were they on their way out of the mess of a nebula cloud.  

 "I've got them on sensors!" Harry exclaimed with some joy. 

 "I'm going to meet the shuttle," she states, exiting the bridge, needing something to do, and walking to the shuttle bay seemed like a good idea at the moment. She knew Tom was all right, they were able to communicate somewhat, one way, but Tom and Chakotay were all right. The cloud made it impossible for Voyager to go looking for them, the shuttle was too tiny and sensors wouldn't work correctly. 

 Janeway gave B'Elanna a nod and a smile to Harry for his good work and relaxed in her seat. Just then the screen in front of her suddenly lit up. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. There before her was Tom Paris and Chakotay, their feet up on the console, only wearing boots from what she could tell, smoking a cigar, drinking and playing cards, care free as all get out. It was clear that Chakotay hit the signal when he put his feet up on the panel. 

 "Gin!" Chakotay shouted as he lay down his cards. "That's means the boots, bright eyes," he chuckled. 

 Tom groaned, "Damn it!"  He sat up and simply smiled when he saw that they were being watched. "Hey, Captain." 

 Chakotay, not moving from his relaxed position, took a drag on his cigar and then removed it easily and exhaled, "Hello, Kathryn," he smiled, not one bit ashamed of his appearance. 

 Janeway pulled on her anger to cover other emotions. "Just what do the two of you think you are doing?" she asked in a tight voice. 

 Tom tossed his boots aside, "Losing at strip Gin rummy," he snickered. 

 "We're celebrating, Kathryn," Chakotay grinned. 

 "Just what…"

 Chakotay put the drink and cigar aside, and sat up, his face all a glow. "We found a stable wormhole that leads to the Alpha quadrant, Kathryn. Voyager can go home."

 "Did you run…"

 "Yes, we ran all the test and double checked it. It's stable all right," Tom interjected. "I'll send the information," he replied and started to get up.

 "Tom, I'd better do it," Chakotay smirks as he keeps Tom seated, then gets up, himself wearing only a pair of tight navy blue briefs. Chakotay moved to another station and sent the information to Voyager. "We're be there in an hour, and we'll go over everything with you, Kathryn. In the mean time, might want to start making ready," he grinned. 

 Captain Janeway was torn between joy and not getting her hopes up. Plus the matter of two of her senior officers…//Strip Gin rummy? // "Yes, we will defiantly talk when you get back," she said and had the channel closed.  "I want that information checked, double checked, and triple checked," she said as she started to head for her ready room. "Tuvok, you have the bridge."  She didn't notice the anger coming from her Ops officer. 

*****End of part one*******

 "Did you see the look on her face?" Tom asked, laughing so hard, tears came from his eyes. 

 Chakotay laughed as he sat back down next to Tom. "It was pretty priceless," he replied. Then he sighed, trying to get his breath. "Though there is something said for being subtle. 

 "Hey, this was your idea, remember?"

 "I know that. It's…well; did you see Harry's face? I just think we made this one a bit more harder than it had to be, that's all."

 Tom stopped laughing, and then with a nod conceded Chakotay's point, "I guess your right, but you have to admit, that those looks were worth it, at lest this one time," he grinned. 

 Chakotay grinned, "Okay, this one time." He got up and pulled Tom from the chair into his arms, "You were right by the way," he smiled warmly. 

 "About what?" Tom leered as he wrapped himself around Chakotay's body. 

 "You are a much better at bitching than I am. I got us three days, you got us a chance…" 

 "To have a life," Tom added his face now buried in Chakotay's shoulder. 

 "Ah, baby, it's going to be all right," he soothed. 

 Tom leaned up and the two men kissed, deep and passionately. This was not a lustful kiss, but a deep loving kiss. "How are we…going to…handle it?" Tom asked as he continued to kiss Chakotay. 

 "Like we always do," Chakotay states as he leans back from the kiss. "We tell the truth," he grinned mischievously. " Now, I do believe we have an hour…?" 

 No more words needed to be exchanged, the two men once again kissed, getting lost in each other's arms. Their need and desire for each other was clear as their hard erections pressed upon each other's. It seemed like it was going to get hot and heavy when Tom suddenly pulled away. 

 "Tom, what's wrong?" 

 "I want more," he said as he moved and sat down in the pilot chair. "I…I…" he looks up at Chakotay hoping the other man understands what he means. "I want 'us' to get married." 
 Chakotay kneels down next to him, "Perhaps…?"

 "Cha, I'm tired of waiting," he sighed. 

 "Tom, you said it yourself. You got us a chance the next go around for more of a life. I don't know about you, but I plan on making every moment of that count." 

 "I also feel so guilt at times. I mean, it's not fair to B'Elanna."

 "I know. But we discussed it. Again if you want me to…"

 "No! No, I couldn’t…no. I need you, Cha, just as much if not more, than you need me," Tom said, his eyes peering deeply into Chakotay's. 

 "Then we have no choice…this time at least," Chakotay said softly as he stood up and pulled Tom to his arms again. "Perhaps a nap would be better," he added and the two men headed off to rest. 


 The senior staff was gathered in the briefing room. B'Elanna looked flustered for Tom was polite but treated her like a friend, not his wife when he exited off the shuttle. Harry was boiling inside, and Janeway was beside herself, as Tom and Chakotay joined the rest of them at the table, dressed in full uniform and Chakotay was holding a satchel. 

 "Tuvok went over…"

 "The readings and found them to be accurate, but suspicious," Tom finished for her. 

 "Excuse me, but when…" Janeway started, her temper showing.

 "Has it become acceptable for officers to over talk their Captain," Chakotay finished for her. 

 "Commander Chakotay what has gotten into you?" Tom asked as if he were Janeway. 

 Chakotay smiled, then looked serious, "Lieutenant, Commander, your behavior is bordering on insubordination." 

 "What is wrong with you two?" Tom replied as he got up and moved behind B'Elanna. 

 Chakotay got up and moved behind Harry, "Shut up, Tom. Don't you think you and the Commander have done enough!" 

 Tom moved to stand near Tuvok, "Captain, I do believe we may have a problem here," he states as Vulcan like as he can. 

 Chakotay moves to Seven and places a finger gently on her lips. "Enough, I think…yes?" he said, looking up at Tom and Janeway. 

 Tom moved to sit back down in his chair, "Yes, I think they got the picture, or at least part of it." 

 Chakotay sat down and looked at Janeway, "No, we're not possessed or tampered with. We're not aliens, and we don't mean any disrespect. We just found it faster this way to get to the bottom of things, since time isn't on our side on this matter." 

 "You see, Captain. We knew what you were going to say, word for word, because…" Tom hesitated and looked at Chakotay. He hated this part. 

 "Because, Captain, we've been through it before."  

 "What he means, Captain, is that Chakotay and I have been through this scenario…well this will be our Seventh time," Tom said. 

 "Yes, Captain. Go ahead," Chakotay smiled, knowing Janeway was going to ask if they could at least ask the questions. 

 "Thank you," she said, looking for a moment for one or the other to say something. When it was quite she continued. "Okay, what do you mean seventh time through this, and just what is going on?" 

 "That's still your department, Cha," Tom smiled, keeping his eyes on Chakotay, not once looking at B'Elanna. 

 Chakotay sighed. "Okay. I'll put this a simple as I can. Tom and I are in a perpetual loop that consists of the last seven years. When we first came to this nebula, Tom and I entered as we did this time, and we met…some people that don't want to be known. To say the lest, they were decent, caring and showed us that Voyager would only make it home in one universe, but not in any other. They made us a proposition. We, meaning me and Tom, agreed to help them save all or as many as we can of Voyager's alternate universes and get them home safely." 

 "Of course there was a price," Tom added solemnly. It was the first time he looked at B'Elanna looking very guilty. 

 "What price?" she asked. 

 "You and Voyager will go home, but Chakotay and I will remain, and once again be propelled back to the beginning, to live it all over again, with minor differences, but the outcome will be the same, we get Voyager home with as many crew intact as humanly possible." 

 "I don't understand. Are you saying, you and Tom have to relieve the last seven years…?" Janeway was stunned. 

 "Over and over again," Tom replied with a heavy sigh, his eyes again not meeting B'Elanna. 

 "Do you remember anything?" Harry asked, amazed at what he was hearing. 

 "Yes, we remember all of it, plus, I've learned to take notes," Chakotay says with a weary smile. "For the record, Captain, I'm in my early nineties and Tom's in his eighties." 

 "Eternal youth?" Janeway replies, still stunned. 

 "Yeah, and eternal hell," Tom adds. "You have no idea what it's like going on a mission that you know for a fact you're going to get seriously fucked up from." 

 "Tom?" Chakotay states, knowing how Tom feels, but his language didn't need to become crude. 

 "Sorry, Cha." Then Tom looks at B'Elanna. "I do wish that I could see her born," she says softly, "But…?"

 "What do you mean?" B'Elanna asked, not wanting to understand this part. 

 "It means you'll be home and I won't be there. I'm…I'm sorry."  Tom didn't even duck the slap he knew was coming. He knew she had to do it, even if it hurt. He had gotten very good at letting things happen when they had too. 

 "This is ridiculous!" Janeway replies, a bit of defiance in her voice. "I have no…"

 "Intentions on letting us stay?" Chakotay finishes for her. "Kathryn, you can't deny this crew their home, because of Tom and me. We chose this path, and yes, it gets exhausting, but we have saved six, soon seven crews. Plus, you don't have a choice. We've been down this road too. You will note that the nebula is closing around Voyager. You will go home, Kathryn. What you chose to do after you do is up to you. We don't know what will happen, it becomes completely different and we…we're not a part of this time line anymore." 

 "So don't try looking for us," Tom adds. 

 "But how can you just keep…living this over and over again?" Harry asked, feeling confused and upset at the matter. 

 "Har, we have too. Plus, it's not hundred percent the same, there are…differences," he smiles. "Plus, we've been told we can move to other Au's that will start to have bigger changes. The only thing we've been guaranteed for doing this is that one, neither Chakotay or I will be killed and we will get you all home in Seven years if not sooner. We can live with that, in fact, we have been."

 "So, Tom Paris really is indestructible," Harry joked, thought the thought of loosing is best friend was killing him. 

 "I'm not indestructible, just looked after, as is Chakotay. You might say, we've become Voyagers guardian angels," he smirked. 

 "I don't want a guardian angel, I want my husband," B'Elanna growled. 

 "Please, B'el, don't do this. For once, listen to me. If you pursue this, your going to get even more hurt," Tom states as gently as he can. 

 "B'Elanna, what you're asking was decided over forty years ago. It's our path; there is no changing it. We were allowed this time to tell you this and say goodbye. The first time…" he closed his eyes, as if it was just yesterday. "We didn't have that privilege." 

 "You make it sound like those aliens are you masters!" B'Elanna growled. 

 "No, but they are our boss as it were," Tom replied. "We help them help us, and in exchange we get…"

 "What do you get from this?" Kathryn asked. 

 "We get to know that the people we care about get home, alive and safe," Chakotay replies. 

 Janeway sits back in her chair, "I…I can't imagine. Repeating the last seven years…?"

 "Doesn’t knowing the turn of events cause a ripple effect on the timeline. Since you know what is to come and can react…?" Seven asked. 

 "Yeah, the first time was really hell. But we got use to it, or as best as we can. And like I said, there are differences, that keep even us on our toes."

 "Captain, the nebula has closed around us," Alaya's voice chimed over the intercom. 

 Tom and Chakotay stood up. "It's time, Captain. I left a message for everyone, and if you could, just send my stuff to my family," Chakotay states. 

 "The same, Captain." Tom looks around the room and then at Chakotay, "I hate this part most of all," he whispers. 

 Chakotay takes Tom into his arms and hugs him, not concerned what anyone thinks, "I know. I hate this part too." 

 "Look after her, Harry, she's going to need you," Tom says as he looks at his best friend and his wife. 

 "How can you say you love her and leave like this. Plus…" 

 "Don't!" Tom growled, breaking from Chakotay's arms. 

 "Plus what?" B'Elanna asked. 

 "You're not the one who has had to leave her six times!" Tom growled. "So don't you dare judge me!"


 "Cha?" He pleaded as he looked at Chakotay, wanting his help and understanding. 

 "Tom, there is going to be enough pain, there doesn’t need to be more," Chakotay says softly. 

 "Plus what!" B'Elanna shouts. 

 Chakotay nods at Tom and the younger man closes his eyes for a minute and then leaves the room. Chakotay looks at everyone, "I'm sorry this went so bad, perhaps next time…" he laughs darkly. "Take care of yourselves, " he says and starts for the door. 

 "Where the hell are you going!" B'Elanna shouts, now up from her seat, but being restrained by Tuvok. 

 "With Tom, back to the beginning," Chakotay states, a mixture of a smile of good bye and a tear of sorry fill his face. Then he too left. 

 "Captain?" she cried, wanting her to do something. 

 Janeway stood up and marched out to the bridge, where Chakotay and Tom stood close together by the turbolift, as the bridge crew watched the nebula cloud drape around Voyager. She sees them step into the turbolift and just manages to step in when the doors close. "This is unacceptable," she states firmly. 
 "This is out of your hands, Kathryn" Chakotay states easily, now holding Tom in his arms. "Tom and I have been going through this for over forty-two years. It's…our life." 

 Janeway stops the words on her lips and looks at Tom and Chakotay for a moment. She sees the closeness and the bond that is between them "What about B'Elanna?" she asks softly. 

 Tears fall down Tom's face. "I love her, Captain. But I don't love her the way I use too, for no matter how old I appear or how many events repeat, I'm not the same anymore. I, like Chakotay have had to learn to do what we must, no matter how we feared or regretted it. There are key events that simply had to be, no matter what. I was to be with her this time no matter how much I love…" Tom lost his words, he didn't meant to let that part out. 

 Janeway looked at Chakotay and Tom, "Halt lift," she ordered. "Are you two telling me, that you two are…"

 "Together? Yes, Captain. Tom and I have been going through this alone, just the two of us to talk too, share this with, we…we got together. And before you even think it, Tom cares for B'Elanna, and he didn't want to do anything to hurt her or me. It was part of what needed to be. If you ask me, it hurts him a hundred times over than anything that he may have done in your eyes," Chakotay states defensively. "I love Tom, and he love's me." 

 "Yes, Captain, I love Chakotay very much. I've wanted us to be married so many times, but…it wasn't possible." Then he looks at Chakotay, "but they did promise, things would be different, that we would have a chance this time. Not just in the shadows, but a real chance," he smiles. 

 Janeway noticed that Tom and Chakotay were going transparent. "What's happening?"

 "Your going home, Kathryn" Chakotay replies. "Take care of them!" 

 Janeway suddenly found herself alone in the turbolift as Alaya's voice echoed that there was a wormhole straight ahead. 

 Ocampa Caverns: 

 "Why do they always start us out here?" Chakotay asks as he gets up from the stairwell that he knows will fall soon, looking the same as he did when this all began. 

 "Because it's the first place you and I are alone when this begins. Plus, it serves as a reminder that your life belongs to me chief," Tom grins. 

 "Wrong tribe," Chakotay chuckles as he takes Tom into his arms. "But, my heart and soul belong to you," he whispers and kisses the young blond in his arms. 

 The kiss is deep and soul searing. Then Tom breaks it and smiles, "You know, we have to get up there and start pretending to hate each other." 

 "I know. Hey, same bet as last time?"

 " Forgot, what was it?"

 "See how quickly we can get Kathryn to interfere and send us on one of her 'get to know each other better' away missions?" 

 "You're on! I say one month," Tom smirks.

 "One month? No, I'm shooting for two weeks," Chakotay grins. Then he gets serious, "Besides, in a month you'll be after Jonas."

 "That means, Seska."

 "Fuck!" they both say. 

 The two start upwards. "Hey, did they say just how much more leeway we're going to have in this go around?" 

 "No, but you heard what they said; we would be allowed more freedom and a chance to have 'our' life here. I love B'Elanna, but I was really getting tired of cheating on you with her."

 "Wouldn't that be the other way around?" 

 "No. I love you, Cha. I want to marry you. You do…?"

 "Oh don't you even doubt it," Chakotay growls and hugs his love. 

 They both looked up and saw the exit. "Try to be a bit more imaginative with you insults…love," Tom teased. 

 "Imaginative? I'll give you imaginative," he growled, a smile still on his face. 

 They both got to the exit and stared at each other, a sense of deep love filled them and they both took a cleansing breath. "Shall we?" Tom grinned. 

 "As long as I'm with you, Tom…so long as at the end I'm standing at the beginning with you, always, " Chakotay states. 

 The two men get serious and move through the exit, back to the beginning of a never-ending journey for another go around. 

 <The end>