Title: Stone Fortress
Note: Part IV of the Stone Heart Series
Author: Kim Riley aka MYSTIC / MysticMcknight
Pairing: C/P
Rated: R
Summary: sequel to Stepping Stone:
Disclaimer: Everything but the idea and the talent that went into this is
Paramonts, the rest is all mine.
Feedback: Please!

"Stone Fortress"

"There has been an accident." Those words still echo in my head even after
all this time. I was sitting on the bride after the attack when the Doctor
contacted me letting me no there was a problem with Chakotay and I was
needed in sickbay right away. I don't even think I asked to leave, I was up
out of my seat and in the lift so fast. My heart pounded with frantic worry
that once the doors had opened I ran at top speed to the infirmary. I
entered and came face to face with the Doctor who was expecting me and
grabbed a hold of me to stop me in front of him. All I could do was scan the
area and look for my husband, but I couldn't see him anywhere.

"Where is he?" I demanded.

But the damn subroutine remained silent till the Captain showed up a moment
behind me. Then he proceeded to tell me how my life was now shattered.
Chakotay was in the lift when the attack occurred and basically all the
safety measures failed and the lift plumed downward. There was little he
could do all was happening so fast and he had forgotten his com badge, so
all he really could do was curl up on the floor and pray. I'm not sure how
they, who ever they are, thought they were answering the prayer, but it
wasn't what he would have wanted.

All I could remember is going numb, hearing it all, but not able to react.
Chakotay was smashed very badly, especially his back, and now was in a full
regeneration tank. He'd live, but he wouldn't walk. The possibility of
fixing his spine was small, but the Doctor was hopeful. I found my voice,
knowing I didn't want to hear what I knew was the answer.

"The children?"

The look alone was all I needed. They had died, and the last thing I
remember was wondering how Chakotay would take this before I passed out. I
awoke on a biobed with Janeway giving her best comfort smile, though there
was no comfort to be found. I sat up and looked around to see Harry and
B'Elanna there and watched them try to give support, but it was wasted on
me. I only wanted three things, my husband, my children, and revenge. My
children were lost to me because of these aliens. My husband was out of
reach for he was fighting for his life in a regeneration tank, so I was
focused on revenge. I looked at Harry and asked if those aliens who
attacked us had been identified yet. Before Janeway could cut him off he
responded that they were a race called the Illtalseph. Then the Captain cut
in and said that I shouldn't concern myself with that now. She didn't
realize that was all I had to concern myself with at the moment, for I
needed to know about them so that I could make them pay.

Just then the Doctor came in and asked me if I wanted to see Chakotay, of
course I answered by jumping down off the biobed and followed him into to
another room. There was a tank filled with green bubbling liquid and inside
it was a battered, though now human looking body with an oxygen mask
strapped tightly to his face. I moved next to the tank and knelt down and
placed my hands on the glass of the tank, taking in every cut and bruises on
my husband's face, and body. My body began to tremble as tears started
flowing down my face. "If only I had gone with you!" I cried. I just know
that I would have put on my com badge and would have been able to save them,
all of them. I failed my husband and my children for I placed a trivial
thing such as sleep over them, and now they were gone. It didn't matter that
Chakotay had insisted that he could take care of himself, I was the one that
was to make sure, and I didn't.

That day was the worst day of my life. A thousand times more horrible than
Caldik Prime, and of course I thought things couldn't get more worse that
this, I was wrong. The next two days for me were a blur of crying and
waiting for Chakotay to revive from the tank. The Doctor had to sedate me
several times for I wasn't budging from my husband's side no matter what
anyone said. I didn't care if it had been a direct order, I wasn't moving.
Though Janeway never did, she did let the Doctor sedate me off and on, but
once I was awake again I was off the biobed and next to my love in a
heartbeat. I do sort of remember being asked about the children and saying
that I'd wait till I talked with Chakotay, for I knew he'd have something
he'd want in regards to the spirits of our lost children.

On the third day I was on pins and needles waiting for him to wake up, and
yet dreaded it for I knew what he was going to ask me, and I knew what I had
to say. His skin was the lightest I had ever seen it, for it was mostly new
skin and muscle tissue, as well as new bone. He wouldn't be awake for long,
but it would be happening any moment, for that was what the doctor had told
me. I remember holding my breath as I saw his eyes start to flutter and let
it out in a sigh of happiness seeing into those dark gems and see him know I
was there with him.

"I'm here, love" I said taking his hand, not sure if he'd feel it right


I knew. "You were in an accident, love. The lift lost cohesion and." I
didn't need to say anymore, I could see from the look on his face he now


Again I knew, and now I dreaded it. "Chak," I stated, though I could see
him mentally bracing himself as he looked into my face. "I'm sorry, love.
They didn't make it." I felt myself start to cry all over again at their
loss and expected to see grief, remorse, guilt, and anger.something in his
eyes, but they just went blank. It was like at that moment he
just.spiritually died. And in truth that was what happened. He never spoke
another word from that moment on.

According to the Doctor, he was physically fine, and so to him he couldn't
fathom why the First Officer of Voyager was simply wasting away. Chakotay
didn't respond to anyone, wouldn't eat anything. I had to make the funeral
arrangements myself, and since I didn't know what Chakotay wanted, for he
wouldn't even respond to me, I went with a traditional Starfleet and the
Captain Okayed it. The sad part is that we never did settle on names and now
I regret that for they were sent into the spirit world only as the
Chakotay-Paris children.

I don't know why, but I insisted that Chakotay attend the funeral, even if
he did just sit in his wheelchair and stare out to no where in particular. I
needed him there, and I think some how I had hoped by seeing our children
off he'd be able to find his way back and grieve. But again I was wrong. He
didn't respond, and he continued to do so over the next several months. The
Doctor had him hooked up to nutritional drips, but it was clear to us all
that Chakotay had just given up and walled himself in waiting to die. I had
cried more that month than I had in my entire life, as I continued to try
and reach my love that was now looking thinned. Liquid food was not a real
substitute for food, and I tried everything I could, from begging, pleading
to down right screaming yelling and threating.. nothing.

I was beside myself, I had lost my children and now I was loosing my
husband. I had failed them once and it seemed like I was failing again. I
think it was then that I went over the edge, though a man crazed doesn't
realize it. I only remember it was about then that I decided that if I
couldn't have the two most precious things I wanted in my life, I'd have the
third.revenge. Though I was off duty till further notice so I could be with
Chakotay, that didn't mean I didn't know how to get information. I made sure
to have lunch with Harry and dinner with B'Elanna. They didn't know that the
information they were giving me served any other purpose than small talk.

We were in the Illtalseph's system and near their home planet. Captain
Janeway had contacted them and informed them that we would destroy any
vessel that came near Voyager without hesitation. That as far as she was
concerned they had declared war on us and we would defend ourselves. That
wasn't good enough for me. They took away my life; they needed to know how
that felt. I tapped into Harry's reports, easy since it was of my security
level. They had civilian and military population segments, much like Earth.
I made my plans and set to work. By the time we were with in an hour from
the Illtalseph's home planet I was ready. The Illtalsephs did make a few
runs at Voyager and the Captain kept her promise and blew them to hell, but
it wasn't enough.they needed to pay.

I had prepped a shuttle to carry the device that would literally rock their
world, and then it occurred to me. That perhaps my love should witness
justice finally being served on the bastards that killed our children and
stole my love's soul. I walked right into the infirmary, deactivated the EMH
and took my husband to the shuttle with me. I overridden the shuttle bay
doors and was off to bring down the hammer of retribution on the
Illtalseph's. I had to make sure Voyager didn't stop me so I had to
temporarily shut them down. It was only transporters, tractor beams,
weapons, and engines, and it wasn't for very long, but it was long enough
for the Captain to feel I betrayed my uniform. But I felt the uniform had
betrayed me when my life was shattered all those months ago.

On the trip I started talking to Chakotay as if he heard me, and even was
arguing with him, or so the records showed for I don't remember all of it. I
do remember rattling on about how they would feel the pain of loosing their
children and the loss of loved ones without any reason. That they would know
suffering as I have know it and that they will pay. I had ignored the
communiqués from Voyager. I only let the channel open for I did want to take
one from the planet. As I got closer, dodging their vessels I targeted one
of their cities that I had determined had a large youth population so yes
they would pay. When they contacted me I told them they would pay for
killing our children and shut off communications. I also remember telling
Chakotay just how many youths I estimated was in the city I targeted as I

"Not the children."

It was the first thing he said in over four months since he asked me about
our children. I was stunned, but his words was the only thing that brought
any form of sanity back into me as I realized what I was about to do.or was
doing. I franticly worked the console and wasn't able to destroy the device,
I had put too much into it to make sure it would reach it's target, I didn't
even bother about a self destruct aspect. So, I did what I could.I
redirected it. There wasn't time to divert it to an unpopulated section, so
having only two choices at this point diverted it to the closest though most
isolated military base. The devise did what it was suppose to.blow it to
hell and back. I sat back and for the first time in weeks, perhaps a couple
of months cried, this time for what I had done.I had just murdered.

I remember my body began shaking as I sobbed and let my self go limp over
the console, the emotional pain of all of this was just too much for me to
take anymore, and I couldn't take anymore. I too wanted to crawl away inside
myself and die. I even started contemplating crashing the shuttle and let us
both be put out of our misery when I felt something on my arm. I looked up
and between pained and tear stained eyes, saw my husband's hand on my arm.
Though he didn't say anything, I looked into his eyes and for the first time
saw a spark of him in them. That he was still in there, and was trying to
come out, so if I killed us now, I really would loose him, and I couldn't do
that. I jumped out of my chair and was on my knees with my head in his lap
crying, begging for his forgiveness for failing him and the children, for
killing all those innocent people. I didn't even notice that Voyager had
locked a tractor beam on us, I didn't care. Chakotay did say one more thing
before security arrived to take him back to sick bay and me to the brig.

"They weren't innocent."

Now.. Well now I'm here sitting in the brig awaiting trial for my actions.
The only time I'm allowed out of the brig is when I have to feed Chakotay. I
don't mind one bit. My love has somehow communicated to them, though he
really hasn't said another word since the shuttle that he'll eat for no one
else but me, so three times a day I get to see him. Though he still looks
miles away, he is at least looking a tiny bit better. I think it's his way
of making sure I don't get spaced or something. The Captain has been in
talks with the Illtalseph's since this happened a week ago and no one is
allowed to see me or even speak to me except the Doctor, and he's only
allowed to discuss my husband's condition. When I'm done feeding Chakotay,
and he eats slow, again I think he does this on purpose, I say my good-byes
give him a kiss and back to the brig. Today I was given access to the
computer so I could make this personal log. I know it's because they hope to
get some inside information as to what possessed me to do what I did. There
is no logical reasoning.none what so ever. My world shattered and so did I.
They had hurt me in a way that no one, and I do mean no one had ever managed
to do, not even my father or prison. I'd rather be beaten and rapped a
million times than go through what I did this last several months, and
having been through both, I know that I mean it. Some one is coming, must be
feeding time.

Close personal log.

Tom Paris sat up and fixed his jumpsuit, since they took his uniform away
and was startled to not see the security detail he was expecting but Captain
Janeway and one of the Illtalseph's. His eyes narrowed and without thinking
he charged the force field, praying that this once it wouldn't hold, but it
did. "YOU BASTARD!" he shouted as all the anger reemerged all over again.

"Mr. Paris!" Janeway shouted back in attempts to calm Tom down. She was
glad to see that the pilot was still responsive to her as Captain, at least
in person. "You will remain silent and listen, understood?" It wasn't a
question and again she was glad that Tom followed her orders, it gave her
hope. "This is Quatorial B'Skall, ruler of the Illtalseph's world. He is
here to speak with you, I strongly advise you hear him out before you say
another word."

Tom only glared at the Illtalsephian, then at Janeway, though not long for
her look made him feel guilty. He reaffirmed his gaze back at what he
believed was the enemy and started, wondering why Janeway had bothered to
bring this guy here. Surly neither of them could expect him to apologize,
and he wouldn't no matter what they did to him; well perhaps depending on
what they would do to him but he wouldn't mean it. He saw the alien
hesitate, but he wouldn't take his gaze of the creature, he was daring the
thing to try and ask for an apology or worse.

"On behalf of my people, Mr. Paris. We are truly and sincerely sorry that
our foolish actions have caused you the loss of your children. Had we known
there was young ones on board we would never had done what we had, not that
is much of an excuse for our actions as it is. We prize our offspring and
know that your people do as well. I also realize what you could have done
and what you finally chose to do in the end. Though there are many that
still grieve the loss of loved ones, they were all military and death in war
is expected. It has been determined that we were at war with Voyager and
under our laws you were acting in accordance with such and no charges from
our world will be pressed, though I think under the circumstances I would
see that none were pressed anyway. I.I am a father and would not have been
as merciful as you were," he finally finished.

Janeway watched as Tom just continued his dark gaze at the Illtalsephian
ruler. "Tom, are you going to say anything?' she asked. It was her way of
tell Tom that a good portion of his ass was off the hook.

"It won't bring them back," Tom said in a whisper. "No apology or act of
revenge. My children are gone and I have to live with that, as you have to
live with the fact you killed them."

"Tom," Janeway said in response.

"It is all right, Captain. I understand, and he is right. There is nothing
my people can do to bring back the tiny lives stolen here, and my people
will have to live with what they did and what had occurred from it."
Quatorial B'Skall gave a bow to Tom and moved out of the brig giving Tom and
the Captain time to talk.

"Off the record, I'm not sure how I would react in your shoes, Tom,"
Janeway said, her eyes mixed with sorrow and anger. "I'm sorry, but by
Starfleet regulations a trial still needs to take place. If your found
guilty you will be stripped from your commission and I'm not sure what I'll
do, for I can't conceive locking you up in the brig for the rest of your
life. I've placed Tuvok in charge of the trial, for I know I'm too
emotionally involved, though if a sentence is required I'll be handling it."

Tom looked at Janeway, and let his gaze waver to guilt and sorrow. "I
understand, Captain. I'm not too worried about myself, only Chakotay."

"Somehow I knew you'd say that," she smiled weakly though sincerely. "I
don't know what's going to happen, but I'll do my best to keep you guys
together. I'm not totally blind, so I can see that you both need each other.
Oh, Tom," she said, letting out a tried and frustrated sigh. Janeway turned
to see the security detail that would escort Tom to the infirmary enter. She
stepped back so they could do their job.

As Tom stepped out of the cell he raised his hands for the cuffs they used
and was surprised to hear Janeway order that they were no longer needed.
That Lt. Paris wouldn't give them any trouble, and asked for his
confirmation. //Even after all I've done, she still believes in me.just like
my love does. // He gave a small sincere smile. "You won't have any trouble
from me, Captain. I give you my word."


"So, the Captain said I didn't need the cuffs anymore," Tom said as he
was relaying today's turn of events to his husband who he was feeding some
vegetable soup. He had been doing this for about a week, and Chakotay was
starting to look a bit better. He was offering another spoon full when the
Commanders hand came up and gently grabbed Tom's hand and held it still.

"Not hungry anymore?" Tom asked with a bit concern, since his husband had
barely eaten half of it.

"Tom," Chakotay said in a low horse voice.

Tom's eyes lit up; his husband was speaking to him. "Yes, love?"

"I'm sorry."

Tom felt his eyes fill again with tears, his love was blaming himself for
what happened. "No, don't be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry
for.nothing," Tom insisted. But all Chakotay did was let go of his hand and
eat the food. Tom wanted to scream at him for being foolish, but he could
see that Chakotay was off again, but now it was worse, for now he knew where
is husband was. He was in another world paying pennants for a sin that
wasn't his, but Tom's. "It wasn't your fault," Tom said softly as he
continued to feed his husband, "it was mine."


Tom Paris stood at attention before the review board, consisting of Lt.
Commander Tuvok, Lt. Wildman, and Lt. Dalby. Paris felt that he it was
really going to be a deciding vote on Tuvok's behalf for he was sure Wildman
would understand his behavior, even if to some degree Tom didn't understand
it himself. He also felt that Dalby would take full advantage to get back at
him for all the years of rivalry between them, so it would be Tuvok that
really held his fate.

"Lt. Thomas Eugene Paris. This review board has been ordered to investigate
the charges of premeditated murder of 1,325 Illtalsephian's at a strategic
military base during war time between the Federation representatives, that
being Voyager and the Illtalseph people," Tuvok stated. "It was the charge
of this review board to see if you are to stand trial for these charges,
instead of moving directly into a trial. It was petitioned by Captain
Janeway that you were not acting in accordance behavior due to the loss of
your children and the potential loss of your husband Commander Chakotay."

//Bless her heart for trying, // Tom thought, but stood still as best as he
could showing that he did remember how to be an officer.

Tuvok continued. "After several days of investigation and deliberation it
was a unanimous opinion that you did not commit any premeditated activities
due to you mental instability at the time. Also, in accordance to Starfleet
regulations during declared war, actions on a strategic military
instillation, even if not ordered too, but not ordered against, is not a
criminal offense. It is there fore the unanimous decision of this board
that all charges be dropped. That you are to be released into the custody of
your Commanding officer, Captain Janeway under the stipulation the strict
stipulation that you receive counseling and go through a full medical review
before being placed back to any further duties. Do you have any questions,
comment's or disagreements with this decision or this review board?"

Tom stood frozen in disbelief. He didn't expect this, to not be charged,
much less hear that not only he wasn't being charged but he was being
supported in the only way his friends legally could. Then to here it was
unanimous must have been Tovok's way of let Tom know that all of them agreed
with this, and it was important for Tom to know this. //Dalby, you
son-of-a-bitch, I'll let you win the next six games of pool for this! //
"No, sir," was all Tom could find words for since sentiment wouldn't be
welcomed at this moment.

"Very well, this investigation is officially closed and this review board
is now officially disbanded," Tuvok said, then it was over.
"Congratulations, Lt." Tuvok said as he stood up and moved to stand next to
Captain Janeway who had been near by.

"Thank you," Tom said, looking at all of them, even Dalby who walked up to
him, his hand extended.

"I know we don't see eye to eye on much of anything," he said. "But.well,
lets just say I'm not that blind."

Tom took Dalby's hand and shook it, grateful for his understanding as
surprising as it was. He then hugged Wilderman who whispered her sorrow to
him and that she was glad that Tuvok found a legal loophole so this ending
could be possible. Then Tom turned to Tuvok and smiled his thanks, for he
knew the Vulcan wouldn't want it said or expresses any other way.

"Lt. Paris. You and I will have a long discussion in my office at 21:00
hrs," the Captain said. "Until that time, you're a free man, Tom," she said

Tom thanked them all again and was out the door heading for sickbay to let
his husband know what had happened, as Janeway turned to face the former
members of the review board. "Thank you," she said sincerely.

"Don't' thank us, Captain" Wilderman said. "If it wasn't for Tuvok, we may
still would have had to have a trial if he didn't find that regulation," she

"But it would not have mattered if you had not petitioned for his
competency and an investigation into the matter in the first place,
Captain," Tuvok responded.

"Off the record, Captain. If it had been me, there wouldn't be a planet
left," Dalby said quietly.

"Off the record, if it was me there wouldn't be a system left," Wilderman
added softly.

Janeway only gave a look as if she agreed, but her position as Captain
prevented her from doing so, but she didn't say a word to disagree with them
either. "Thank you," she said and left back to the bridge.


It was three months before Tom was allowed back on the bridge as Chief
pilot again. During that time, the young pilot had his hands full with
counseling, flight simulators, and trying to help his husband come back from
the land of the dead. It was a long hard fight, and he wasn't sure, even
with the progress he saw, he was winning. After the news that Tom wasn't
going to stand trial and the matter was officially over, Chakotay did start
doing little things for himself, but that was about it. He was emotionally
unresponsive, though after about a month of hard work on Tom's part, his
love would give small responses to direct questions or precise actions asked
of him, but that was it.

The counseling helped him deal with the fact that it was an accident and
there was no way he could of prevented it, though he knew there would always
be a part of him that wouldn't agree to that. The only thing that helped him
cope was the flying simulations, for he could just allow himself to forget
for a little bit before stepping back into reality and facing the barricaded
strong hold known has his husband. It took every trick in the book and then
some to get his love to respond to things, but if he didn't make Chakotay
react then he would be in danger of being lost forever, and Tom couldn't
bare that. So every night and day when he was free he was with Chakotay
pouring it on, pushing, pulling, and prodding. It was only a week before his
return to the bridge did Chakotay gave and talked.

"Tom, I do not wish to keep you from your life, please just let me be," he
said in a flat tone.

Tom was internally jumping for joy. "Chakotay, have you forgotten, you are
my life," he said kneeling down in front of his love so he could look into
his face. "You are my soul, how can I leave it behind?"

"I'm sorry, Tom. But I don't have anything left to offer you," he said just
as flatly as his first sentence as he blinked and looked coldly at Tom.

Tom felt the shiver down his spine. He saw the emptiness and could
understand that. He saw the anger and sorrow and could understand that. He
saw the distance and understood that as well, but this coldness was new and
he didn't understand at all. "Chakotay?"

"I want a divorce," he said, again flatly.

"What!" Tom exclaimed as he stood up in shock. "Why?"

"We only got married for we were going to be parents together and it was
the right thing to do. Since that is no longer and issue, there is no longer
any reason for us to remain married," he stated in a cool dry tone.

Tom's eyes went wide with anger and dismay. "How can you sit there and say
that?" he asked feeling his temper growing as the hurt in his chest boiled.

"I say it for it is the truth," Chakotay replied unblinking as he looked at
Tom, his eyes cold and distant.

Tom thought about telling just fine, but inside a tiny voice told him that
was exactly what Chakotay was trying to do, push him away. //Well, we'll
both be damned if I'm letting you push me away after all I've done for
you.you son-of-a-bitch! // "Well, too damn bad for you!" he shouted back.
"For we're legally married and I won't grant you a divorce.so there!" he
finished and stood akimbo.

"Whatever," Chakotay replied unmoved by Tom's display and since he could
move himself around and didn't need anyone's help, he reached out and
touched the controls of his chair and turned it to leave.

"Where the hell do you think your going!" Tom shouted.

"Back to the infirmary, and that is were I'll stay till either you move out
of my quarters or I get new ones," he stated then left.

Tom was devastated. He couldn't believe that the man he loved, and knew had
loved him just did this to him. Chakotay was not pushing him out of his
life; his was throwing him out. He didn't know what to do so hit his com
badge. "Paris to Janeway."

"Yes, Mr. Paris, what can I do for you?"

"Ah, Captain.do you have a few minutes," he asked, trying to keep his voice
steady, but he could tell she heard his distress.

"Yes, Mr. Paris. Where should I meet you?" she responded easily.

"I'm on the observation deck, area C," Tom said then let the channel close.
He turned numbly to the window and looked into the stars wondering why.why
this was happening. Wasn't the loss of his little ones enough? He had fought
so hard to get his love back, but that was not who left here a moment ago.

A week passed and Tom was back on the bridge, and per the Captain's advise,
he stayed right were he was and so Chakotay stayed in the infirmary, for he
flatly refused to go back to his cabin if Tom was still there. The man had
even had Tom barred from sickbay, but Janeway said this was only part of
Chakotay's way of pushing Tom away. The problem was, that Tom felt it was
working, but then he reminded himself about his long road to recovery and he
wasn't the one who carried them and almost died he. He let out a deep breath
and refocused on his job, grateful again to the Captain for clearing him fit
for duty once more.

"Captain?" Harry stated from operations. "I'm picking up a distress

"Where from, Ensign?" she replied.

"About twenty minutes from our location, near the asteroid belt. The
signals weak, but I have traced it back and can give you exact coordinates."
He returned promptly.

"Mr. Pairs," she said knowing her chief pilot knew the rest.

"Yes, Ma'am, "he smiled and set course for the asteroid belt.

As they got closer, "Captain, I'm only reading one life sign. From what I
can tell it must be in some kind of life support chamber, but the power to
the tiny vessel is fluctuating all over the place."

"Captain, I'm reading heavy radiation levels on all levels of the ship. It
appears that everyone else died from radiation poisoning except the
individual in the chamber," Tuvok added.

"Captain, the ships warp core has gone critical," Harry replied with
urgency in his voice.

"Are we within transporter range?" Janeway asked.

"We will be in five minutes," Tom replied.

"Warp core overload in six," Harry stated.

"I can do it, Captain," Tom said, knowing what Janeway would be

"Very well, Mr. Paris. For all our sakes, I hope you can. Once were in
transporter range lock onto that chamber and beam it directly to sickbay.
Notify them of the radiation situation so proper precautions can be taken,"
Janeway ordered then sat back and let her crew do their job.

Tom did as he had promised. He got Voyager into transporter range and once
word was given that the chamber had been successfully transported to sickbay
got the ship out of range of the warp core explosion, though the ship did
take a bit of battering from the debris.


Since Commander Chakotay had flatly refused to return to his quarters and
remained in sick bay, and he wasn't fit to return to any real duty, the
Doctor felt compelled to put him to work. "I don't believe in free loaders,"
he said, hoping to anger the Commander into some action, but it didn't work.
The commander only agreed and in that flat tone offered to help as best as
he could around the infirmary. He could reach most stuff from his wheel
chair, and his practical mental faculties were in perfect working order. It
was the rest of his mental state that had the Doctor concerned.

Chakotay had picked up very quickly on what he could and couldn't do to
help out in the infirmary. During the entire time he never raised his voice,
nor get emotional over anything, though his eyes always seemed to be cold
and distant. He was there now as the small chamber was beamed in and he
worked the barriers and monitored the situation as the Doctor moved inside,
since being a hologram he wasn't affected by most forms of radiation. The
chamber wasn't very big, about four feet in length.

He watched as the Doctor ran his scans then proceeded to open the chamber.
"You sure that's a wise idea?" the Commander asked flatly.

"Though the boy has not been exposed to any of the radiation, he had been
injured and is in need of treatment. So yes, I think it's a very good idea,"
the Doctor said as the hiss of the chamber indicated the lid was ready to be
opened. The Doctor lifted out the small child; the boy had a rich dark
complexion, and bright blond hair. The Doctor ordered Chakotay to beam away
the chamber and when it was gone laid the boy back down on the bio bed and
ran another scan.
"You can lower shields, there is no longer any danger of radiation
exposure," he said as he started treatment on the boy.

Chakotay did as he was told, them moved and brought the medical tray he
know the Doctor would be asking for. He received a simple nod of
appreciation and stayed there looking at the child and waiting for any
further instructions. The child looked human enough from the commander's
point of view, and from what he heard of the Doctors tendency to mumble to
himself, that the child was compatible to most human medicines.

The Doctor was just finishing fixing the mild internal damage the child had
received when the doors to the infirmary opened to reveal Captain Janeway
and Tom. Chakotay just moved off not wanting to deal with either one of
them, and found something in another room to keep him busy.

The Captain saw her friend and first officer move off like, not even giving
her or his husband a second glance. But firs thing first. "So, how are
they?" she asked wanting to know about the new person she just let on board
her ship.

"Though I'm not familiar with the race, the boy does seem very compatible
to human medicines, and from all I can make out will be just fine," the
Doctor replied.

"Boy?" Tom asked.

"Yes, he's about the human equivalent of eight years old," the Doctor
answered. "He should be waking up soon. Are his parents about?"

"I'm afraid he's the only survivor from the ship we just left," Janeway
replied wondering how this small boy would take to waking in a room of
aliens. She prayed he would be able to understand her as she moved up to be
next to the boy when he woke up.

Tom knew that Janeway asked him to come along, for then Chakotay couldn't
say a word about him being in sick bay with the 'supposed' retraining
order.which was never officially filed by Lt. Tuvok, in accordance to Harry.
He moved toward the back room to see his love busy at sorting supplies and
his heart ached, but he didn't move into the room he just went back to stand
by the Captain. "Doctor, how is he," Tom asked gesturing to the back room.

"Physically he's getting better and in a few weeks he may be up to the
surgery that may get him walking again. As for the rest.as you yourself have
once put Mr. Paris. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them
drink. He has all the opportunities to get better; he just won't use any of
them. Mr. Tuvok states that Chakotay won't say a word during their sessions
so as of this morning is considering canceling them. In short, Mr. Paris...
Chakotay may walk again long before he'll be First officer again, if ever."

Tom didn't know how to take this, so he just blinked in silence for a
moment, "If you don't need me anymore, Captain?" he asked hoping to go back
to the bridge.

Janeway saw this, "No, Tom. Not at the moment." She watched as her young
friend and chief pilot moved out of sickbay, knowing his heart was on fire
and prayed for the millionth time that things would start working out for
them. Just then the boy moaned. "It's all right," she said soothingly. "Your

The boy opened his eyes; they were a rich deep silver. When the boy saw his
surroundings he roared and leaped with such speed off the bed that neither
Janeway or the Doctor could prevent it. The Doctor sealed the area so the
boy couldn't get out of sickbay as he scrambled for a place to hide from the

"It's all right," Janeway soothed again, slowly trying to approach the
child. "We're not going to hurt you," he said.

The child didn't understand her or didn't believe her for as she got a few
steps closer he roared like an animal and dashed away. In his hurry to get
away from the strange aliens ran smack into Chakotay that was coming in the
room to see what was happening. The boy ran so hard into the chair it
knocked Chakotay over to the ground and the boy tumbled over him to the
other room, then only scrambled backwards on his hands and butt scarred at
what was happening. He saw the dark skinned man push himself up, and when
Janeway had tired to help him up, swipe at her to let him do it. He watched
the same man right his chair and then with great effort lift himself into it
then got himself situated.

Janeway was torn between being livid that Chakotay had literally swiped at
her to make her let go of him or glad to see that independent determination
that was so the former Chakotay back, even for a moment, and even if it only
showed in a burst of temper. But considering how unemotional he had been,
this was a sign that there was something still beating inside waiting to
come out. She then looked over to see the Doctor trying to approach the boy
and the child finding things to throw at him, and since it didn't hurt he
could keep going, but the child was becoming more and more petrified that it
started howling and whining. She was going to tell the doctor to back off."

"Knock it off!" Chakotay snapped and glared over his shoulder at the boy.

To everyone's surprise the boy did, and just stared that Chakotay, not
moving. The Doctor moved next to the boy and scanned him. "No additional
damage. He leaned down to grab for the boy when he dashed again, but this
time right next to Chakotay and hid behind his chair like it was a place of

"What is he doing?" Chakotay asked his annoyance profound in his voice.

Janeway wasn't sure if she liked this angry Chakotay one bit, but then it
was an emotion, a huge step to the lacking one he had been for months now.
"He for some reason finds you to be a source of security, commander. Deal
with it," she ordered. //If he wants to be an ass, I can be a bitch. //

Chakotay started moving out of the room in his wheelchair and looked to see
the boy was staying right behind him. He moved to the biobed. "Get up
there," he snapped and pointed at the bed. Again, both Janeway and the
Doctor were surprised to see the child obey the Commander's orders with
swiftness. The child scrambled up and perched himself on the bed, ready to
leap to safety if he had to.

The Doctor got a small grin on his face then whispered something to Captain
Janeway, who also smiled and nodded her approval. Then the Doctor looked
back at the Commander who was glaring at the child and the others in the
room. "Commander, since you're here for a undetermined duration, I'm giving
you and the additional responsibility of watching over our new addition till
we can contact his home world."

"No, I."

"That's a direct order, mister," Janeway snapped and silenced any further
protest. "Doctor, I sure you and 'Commander' Chakotay, can handle things
from here. If you need any more help, I'm sure you know who you can
contact," she grinned then exited back to the bridge.

< Then end >