Palingenesis

From crime@acs.bu.edu Tue Feb 13 14:02:18 1996
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 07:57:14 -0500 (EST)
From: mary self
To: David Tremel
Cc: mary self
Subject: palingenesis

WARNING: THIS STORY DOES INCLUDE SOME SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL AND
LANGUAGE, AS WELL AS VERY CONTROVERSIAL LIFESTYLES. YOU HAVE
BEEN WARNED!!

DISCLAIMERS: Original characters are the property of Paramount, except the
character of Caitlin Matthews, which is my own creation. The
story is also my own creation; however, I would be remiss if
I didn’t credit the movie, “Dead Again”, with providing the
initial creative idea. (Which, BTW, is a really good movie; well
worth the cost of a rental.) I also do not claim any
authoritative knowledge whatsoever on the subjects of kharma and
reincarnation.

INTRODUCTION: For those of you who may not be familiar with the character of
Caitlin Mattews, I created her in the story, A Matter of
Security, and she and Tom Paris have had an on-again-off-again
relationship ever since.

Palingenesis

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1995

Personal Log. Stardate: September 17, 1995. At least, that’s what
they tell me the date is; I really don’t know anymore. All of my present
state of confusion began when I woke up in the hospital two days ago with a
pounding headache and a desperate desire to pee.
The last thing I remember was being in engineering helping B’Elanna do
some regularly scheduled maintainence on the warp core. She had wanted to talk
about a personal problem; so instead of Lt. Carey, I was up there on the cat-
walk with her. Everything was going okay until the ship gave a sudden lurch,
and I lost my balance. I recall grabbing one of the core’s supports as I fell,
but not being able to hold on. I hit the floor hard and blacked out. Then, I
woke up here.
Here is County Hospital, or so they say. `They’ are the doctors and
nurses who have been monitoring my condition. Evidently in this time period,
I was mugged, and my head suffered a blow so severe that a little more force on
the part of my assailant would’ve probably killed me.
On the second morning, I regained consciousness and needed, as I said
earlier, to use the bathroom. I pressed the button marked “call”, but no one
came. So, I got myself up somehow and tottered in rather unsteadily. I don’t
think I’ll ever forget pulling up the hospital gown and seeing a penis where
there should not have been one. I nearly fainted right there and then. What
the hell had happened to me? Quickly, I pulled off the flimsy gown. I didn’t
have breasts anymore; instead I had a lean, muscular chest, lightly covered
with blond hair.
Forgetting my original reason for coming into the bathroom, I stared
down at this new body. I remember gingerly touching it, afraid to really
explore it. My chin itched and I scratched it, feeling the scruff of two days
growth. *My face!* I wondered what I looked like. I edged my way over to
the sink, keeping my eyes glued to the floor. Grasping the sides of the basin,
I slowly raised my head. I didn’t have red hair and green eyes anymore; I was
blond with blue eyes, now. I wasn’t looking at me; I was looking at Tom. It
was at that point I let out a scream and fainted. Supposedly, they found me
naked and unconscious thirty minutes later during ward rounds.
The first thing I did when I came to the second time was ask for a
mirror. They must have thought I was crazy, until they addressed me by name
and I said “Who?”. A sympathetic nurse who resembled a human Kes quickly
retrieved a small mirror for me. I must have sat and stared into it for hours,
occasionally touching the face in disbelief.
Eventually, my doctor showed up; she looked and sounded just like the
Captain. In that familiar authoritative way, she explained who I was and how
I came to be here.
My new name is apparently Jesse Garrett, and I’m supposed to be a
thirty-two year old clothing designer with my own store, which I co-own with
a man called Joseph Hialeah.
They haven’t told me much more than that; I guess they expect me to
remember on my own. How do I tell them that all I remember is based in the
twenty-fourth century and not in the twentieth? How can I explain that simple
everyday functions in their lives are a complete mystery to me? By now, I
think they must have concluded that I have some form of amnesia, and in a way,
I have. So, I think I’ll let them continue to think that. My head hurts like
hell.

September 19, 1995 8:45am

I must’ve overextended myself two days ago because I spent all yester-
day sleeping. I was vaguely aware of some man in my room at one time talking
to the Captain/Doctor, and then of Kes/Nurse coming in and checking on me a
few times. Anyway, I feel a lot better today, physically, at least. Mentally,
I’m still a wreck. I can’t tell anyone, yet, what’s going on inside this
pretty head, especially since I don’t know myself.

3:05 pm

The Captain/Doctor holds my eyelid open and flashes a small light in
my right, then left eye. “I’ve called your partner and informed him that
you’ve fully regained consciousness and of your current condition. He should
be here shortly.”
“My partner? My business partner?” I can’t believe that Tom doesn’t
have a girlfriend or wife.
“Oh, uh, yes. He’s that, too, I understand.” A small flush creeps
over her cheeks.
A little bell rings somewhere. “Do you mean he’s my lover?” Knowing
Tom as I do, I find it hard to believe he is gay, but then this really isn’t
Tom. It’s me in Tom’s body, or rather, Jesse Garrett’s body.
The Captain/Doctor clears her throat. “Yes, Mr. Hialeah is, as you
put it, your lover.”
I can’t tell whether it is embarrassment or contempt in her voice,
maybe both. I do know that open admission of homosexuality had been, to say
the least, controversial during the twentieth century.
“I believe,” she continues. “You will be able to be released
tomorrow. Your x-rays and CAT scan from this morning show mostly minimal
damage to your brain tissue, and you overall coordination has not been
effected. I don’t think sending you home will risk your physical well-being.
However, with regards to you amnesia, I believe you should see a specialist.
I have mentioned one to Mr. Hialeah. He is a psychiatrist with a great deal
of experience in dealing with cases involving neurological trauma; his name is
Dr. Evan Wagner. I highly recommend that you consult with him.”
“Knock, Knock.” A familiar voice calls. “Can I come in?”
Chakotay?
The Doctor stands up and extends her hand. “Mr. Hialeah. It’s good to
see you again.”
Chakotay is my lover? No, that’s not possible. Me and him, I mean,
Tom and him?
“Jesse? You okay?” His hand rests on my shin.
I’m to shocked to move or respond. He and I?
“Mr. Hialeah, I’ve informed Mr. Garrett of what I told you. I see no
reason, however, why you shouldn’t be able to take him home tomorrow.”
“That’s great, Doctor.” He flashes me a bright smile; I’m not used to
seeing that. “Oh, by the way, I called Dr. Wagner, as you suggested, and he’s
agreed to see Jesse next week. I want you to know how much I appreciate all
you help.” He removes his hand and shakes hers once again.
“My pleasure. I’m sure you two would like to talk, and I do have other
patients to see. Mr. Garrett, I’ll be back to check on you later.” She gives
me a tight smile.
Yep. I was right. It was contempt earlier.
“Hey, Jess. How are you feeling?” He bends down and kisses my
forehead.
Instinctively, I shrink back. This just isn’t right. Not for me, at
least. “I’m sorry. Who are you?”
There is shock and pain in his black eyes. “Oh, Jess, I’m sorry.
The Doctor explained your condition to me yesterday when I came by, and here
I am barging in expecting things to be as they were.” He gives me a tight
smile similar to the Doctor’s and extends his hand. “Allow me to introduce
myself; I’m Joseph Hialeah, your business partner and, up until four days ago,
your lover, too.”
The humor is more wry than usual, but it still brings a smile to my
face, and I find myself extending my hand to him. I think it’s the
juxtaposition of his calm, unexpressive exterior and the sarcasm that spills
forth from his mouth that gets me.
He takes my hand and gives it a firm shake. “That’s better. Do you
mind?” He gestures to the side of the bed, and I scoot my legs over. Even
without a tattoo, it’s hard not to feel comfortable with him. “So, you about
ready to go home?”
Home. I draw my knees up to my chest and run my fingers through my
hair. It feels weird having short hair, but then, this entire scene is pretty
bizarre. “I don’t know. I guess I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”
A rueful grin crosses my face.
He shakes his head. “Not really. We’ve been together for almost ten
years now and own our own home, which is beautiful, by the way, and in your
condition, I’m not certain it would be a good idea for you to be by yourself.
Besides.” His voice softens. “I miss you, Jess. You really had me scared
there for a while.” His hand grips mine hard. “After so long together, it
just doesn’t seem right not having you around.”
He must love Tom, I mean, Jesse a lot. Ten years. Wow. There are
some days when I don’t think Tom and I will last ten minutes, much less ten
years. Not that we fight all the time. We don’t, uh, didn’t, but when
we did. . . Wow! Of course, the best part was always making up. Gods, I miss
him. I need him to hold me, but I’m him. How do I hold myself? I can’t.
I feel so alone. I want to cry.
“Jess?” Chakotay/Joseph’s face is full of concern. “Oh, Jess.
C’mere.”
He takes me in his arms, and I start to cry. I always have been able
to with him. “I’m sorry,” I blubber. “I just feel so alone and so scared.
I don’t know what’s happening to me. I don’t know anything anymore.”
“Shhh. It’s all right; let it out. I know you’re scared, but you’re
not alone. I’m here, and I’m going to stay here. You are not going through
this by yourself.” His voice is low and soothing; I feel better just
listening to him.
In a few minutes, I raise my head from his shoulder; the tan fabric of
his jacket is all wet. “Your shoulder is soaked.” I sniffle. “Sorry.”
He hands me a tissue. “I don’t care about that; I care about you. How
are you doing?” He taps my temple gently.
“A little better. Just being able to cry helped a bit.”
“Good. Don’t hide you feelings, Jesse, at least, not from me. Please.
No matter what happens between us. Promise?”
I nod still sniffling loudly. An annoying beeping starts, and I look
around for the source.
“Sh*t!” he curses, reaching into his jacket. He pulls out a small,
black device and reads what it says on a tiny display. “Damn! I’ve got to
use the phone. How do you dial out? 9?”
I shrug. How the hell should I know? I don’t even know what a phone
is, except some ancient communication device. Well, it must be `9′ because
soon he’s speaking angrily into the instrument; something about the wrong
order, the wrong material, I don’t know. It probably has someting to do with
the shop we own.
He slams down the receiver. “Damn! Stupid, f**king as**oles!” He
curses loudly and paces beside the bed. “Look, Jesse. I wanted to spend the
afternoon with you. Honest, I even told them not to call, but something really
big has come up, and if I don’t get down to the shop, it’s going to be a bigger
disaster than it already is.” He sits down and takes both of my hands in his.
“I’m sorry. I really am sorry. I’ll try and get back by later this afternoon,
or I’ll call you tonight. I promise.”
If he’s anything like the Chakotay I know, he will. “I know. Go on;
I’ll be okay. Honest.”
He smiles at me again; his dark eyes glowing with an emotion I’ve
never seen before. One of his hands cups my unshaven cheek. “Jesse,” he
breathes softly, and then he turns and quickly leaves the room.
I lie back in my bed unsure of what just transpired and even more
unsure of my role in it. His last word echoes in my head, and I feel something
move under the covers. I raise the sheet to look. That something was me, I
realize, as I stare in disbelief at my partial erection.

September 20, 1995 1:30 pm

“Well, here we are. Home sweet home,” he announces with a flourish,
throwing the car keys on the table. “I don’t suppose you’re very hungry, but
how about some coffee? I just bought a fresh bottle of flavouring syrup, and
you’ve always said no one can make a vanilla cap like I can.”
“Um, yeah, sure.” I’ve never been much of a coffee fan, but then maybe
I am in this time. While he ducks into the kitchen, I begin looking around the
spacious living room.
On the table behind the sofa, there are lots of framed photographs.
Some of friends, I guess, some of me, some of him, and some of both of us. We
look happy together, especially in the one where we are in front of a shop
called Lifestyles. It all seems so comfortable and yet unfamiliar because I
don’t recognized any of it.
I feel him come and stand behind me, his arm around my shoulder. “I
think that was one of the best days of our lives,” he tells me. “You were so
happy to finally be opening your own store; you didn’t stop smiling the entire
day.” His fingers weave their way through the hair on my neck, and I feel my
pulse quicken in response.
“I wish I could remember it. We seem so happy, so in love.”
“We were. Don’t worry, it’ll all come back. The Doctor said it would
just take some time.” He kisses my cheek and returns to the kitchen.
I put the picture back down and go look out a large bank of windows.
The place we live in is up on a cliff overlooking the ocean. He was right; it
is a beautiful view, powerful and romantic.
“Oh, by the way,” he calls from the kitchen. “While you were in the
hospital, our tests cam back and we’re both still negative.” Negative?
“Thank God for small miracles, huh?” He comes back in with two steaming,
frothy mugs. “Careful, it’s hot.”
I’m not sure what he means by this negative; my knowledge of twentieth
century Earth is really lacking. My guess is that it has something to do with
that thing they called an AIDS test they gave me in the hospital. They told me
then I was HIV-negative, and I had made a mental note to so some research on
just what the hell that meant.
I turn back to the window and take a sip of the coffee. It’s good;
sweet, almost like a dessert.
His arm slides around my waist. “Well?”
“What? Oh, the coffee. It’s good. I like it.” I give him a small
grin, which he returns. It’s a nice smile. The Chakotay I know never smiles
enough; usually he allows himself only the occasional smirk, even when he is
laughing uproariously on the inside.
He sets his cup down on the window ledge, and then sets mine beside it.
“Jesse,” he whispers. “I know I don’t say this enough, but I love you.” He
takes my face in his hands, and kisses me. I can taste the sweet syrup on his
lips, and he probably does on mine. The kiss is soft and tender, with an
undercurrent of intensity; it suits him. I suppose I’ve always wondered what
Chakotay would be like in bed; he is in his own way an attractive man. His
tongue parts my lips and enters my mouth. I close my eyes in response. I feel
his hand unbuttoning my shirt, his fingers running through the hairs on my
chest, tickling me. My breath quickens, and I feel my new sex harden in
response to his touch.
His fingers follow the line of hair down my stomach only to be stopped
by my trousers. Through the fabric, he traces the length of my erection, and I
moan softly into his mouth. *Oh gods, so this is what it feels like.* Using
both hands he quickly undoes my belt and unfastens my pants; his tongue
imitating in my mouth the motions of his fingers on my penis.
He kneels and pulls down my underwear just enough to free me. I feel
his tongue trace the length of my sex several times, occasionally making
teasing swirls on its head. *I think I’m going to explode. This is agony,
but I like it.* I release a groan that I had been trying to suppress, and he
chuckles softly. Then, the most wonderful thing happens. Something warm and
wet slides over me, and I realize that I am in his mouth. I grab the window
sill for support as I feel him glide up and down the length of my shaft.
*Oh, Gods!* I open my eyes and look down.
Suddenly a wave of jealousy and nausea washes over me. This isn’t me
he’s making love to; it’s my lover! This is Tom’s body he’s touching. How
could he? “Stop! Stop!” I push him roughly away and dash instinctively
toward the bathroom. I slam the door and lock it behind me. Bending over the
sink, I wait for the inevitable heaves to begin. I don’t have to wait long.
Through the sound of my wretching, I can hear him pounding on the door.
“Jesse! Jesse! Open the door! Come on! Open it!”
“Just a minute,” I manage to gasp out. I’m shaking so badly I can
barely stand up. Splashing some cold water on my face, I look in the mirror.
Yep, still there. Same blue eyes, same blond hair. I smile weakly at the image
and it smiles back. How can you be in love with yourself?
I pull up my underwear and refasten my trousers before opening the
door. His face is full of concern and apprehension. “Sorry,” I say sagging
wearily against the doorjam. “I don’t know what happened; I just felt sick
all of a sudden.”
He brushes my cheek with his hand before swinging my arm over his
shoulders and his arm around my waist. “Don’t worry about it. It’s my fault;
I shouldn’t have rushed you like that. Hell, you were just released from the
hospital. Come on; let me get you to bed.”
I’m much too tired to protest as he leads me down the hall toward our
bedroom. He treats me just like a little kid, sitting me down, undressing me,
and then tucking me in. He takes my hand in his and sits down on the bed
beside me, brushing the damp hair off my forehead. My eyes close
automatically; this is the Chakotay I know. The kind, almost paternal friend,
who has comforted me on so many occasions.
“Why don’t you get some sleep,” he suggests. “I’ll wake you for
dinner, okay?”
I nod and his lips brush mine once again. Then, he releases my hand
and moves over to the window to close the blinds. The covers on the bed are
thick and soft with a pleasant, reassuring weight. I roll on my side and
snuggle in, while he brings them up around my back.
“Sweet dreams.” I hear him call, closing the door behind him.

September 24, 1995 12:27 am

“What is wrong?” Chakotay, I mean, Joseph rolls over and turns on the
light, temporarily blinding both of us.
I’ve been `home’ for about three days now, and he’s tried to make love
to me on four different occasions, but I keep pushing him away. I just can’t.
It’s like watching Tom cheat on me, but how can I explain that to him without
ending up in the insane asylum. I do know enough about twentieth century
medicine to know I don’t want to go there.
I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed, the visible bulge
in my shorts belying my emotinal state. I allow my head to sink into my hands
while I try to concoct a reasonable reply. “I’m sorry. I just can’t. I’m
still so confused as to who I am. I mean, none of it’s coming back, none
of it. Do you have any idea what that’s like? To live a life, everyone tells
you is yours, and not know any of it?” I turn and stare at him, knowing he
can’t answer yes. “I don’t mean to disappoint you; I don’t want to hurt you.
You’ve been wonderful to me these past few days.” I close my eyes as I
suddenly realize that I have to leave. I can’t stay here with him another
night. “I’m just still so confused. Nothing makes any sense anymore, and it’s
not fair to drag you through this with me. I think maybe I should move out, at
least temporarily, until I can get my head straightened out.”
He leans on one elbow and stares at me quietly. “I’d be lying if I
said I wasn’t expecting this,” he replies softly, pain in those dark, beautiful
eyes. “But in a way I have ever since you threw up a couple of days ago;
I just kept hoping that maybe I was wrong.” His fingers reach out and grasp
one of my hands. “We’ve been together a long time, Jess, and have seen each
other through a lot of sh*t. I don’t want to lose you, but I can’t make you
stay here either, feeling the way you do.” His eyes dart quickly around the
room. “We bought this house together, filled it with memories together; so I
want you to know that both it and I will be here for you. This is your home,
but if you need some time away, I understand.” He brings my hand to his lips.
“I love you, Jess. Remember that.”
I feel tears running down my cheeks. Even when you’re not in love with
the person in front of you; it can still hurt like hell to break up. And I’ve
never wanted to hurt Chakotay in any time; he’s been too good to me.
I collapse into a little sobbing ball on the bed and feel his arms
encircle me protectively. The moisture on my neck tells me he is crying, too.
Whose life am I ruining here? Am I ruining Jesse’s life with Joseph or am I
supposed to end this relationship? I wish I had some answers. Maybe when I
start seeing Dr. Wagner, I’ll start finding some.

September 26, 1995 7:30 am

I woke to bright sunlight a few minutes ago. I’m staying at a friend’s
house while they are out of town; Joseph agreed to it because the place is only
about four miles from our house.
The house belongs to Ken and Sara Chan; Sara works with me as a design
assistant, and she looks just like me, that is, Caitlin. Her husband, Ken, who
resembles Harry, is a software programmer. According the brief history Joseph
gave me, we introduced them, serving as a rather unusual best man and maid of
honour at their wedding two years ago. I think there’s a picture of the four
of us on that day back at the other house.
So, I’m married to Harry. That doesn’t seem quite right either.
Evidently, Sara and I dated for a while in college until I met Joseph and, as
he put it, came out. I assume that means when I admitted being gay; in spite
of that, though, Sara has remained a good, close friend, helping me with all
of my design work.
Ken is someone Joseph knew in business prior to going into partnership
with me. He helped create the design programs we use at the shop, which is how
he met Sara.
Yikes, it’s almost 0800. Joseph is picking me up in fifteen minutes to
take me to the doctor. I hope he can help me. The longer I’m here the more
confusing things become, and I’m bound to make a slip-up soon.

October 6, 1995 8:30 am

I’m meeting with Dr. Wagner today for the fourth time. He’s an
interesting man, not at all what I expected; short and pudgy with twinkling
brown eyes, and he giggles just like Neelix. He wants to use hypnosis on me to
see if some past psychological trauma is blocking the return of my memory. I’m
afraid that if I refuse, I’ll be bringing on more trouble than I already have.
Besides, even just a little knowledge of Jesse’s everyday life would help at
this point; I don’t think I’ll ever forget Joseph’s expression when I tried to
activate the computer by voice.

“Okay, Jesse. Now I just want you to relax and concentrate on the
counter in front of you. You are beginning to feel very tired. That’s right.
Your eyelids are feeling very heavy, aren’t they? It’s okay; you can close
them. Now, I want you to think of yourself walking down a long corridor.
At the end is a door. The closer you get to the door, the sleepier you become.
That’s it . . . Have you reached the door yet, Jesse?”
“Yes.”
“Good. Now, I want you to open it, and when you do you’ll find your-
self back on the day of your attack. Where are you?”
“I’m walking along the corridor, heading towards engineering.”
“Engineering?”
“Yeah, I agreed to help B’Elanna do some maintainence. Actually, she
just wants to discuss a problem she and Harry have been having.”
“Who are B’Elanna and Harry?”
“B’Elanna Torres and Harry Kim. They are friends of ours. B’Elanna
likes Harry, but he continues to see her only as a good friend.”
“They are friends of yours and Mr. Hialeah?”
“No, friends of Tom’s and mine.”
“Who is Tom?”
“Tom Paris. We’ve been seeing each other for a while now, off and on.”
“Jesse, where did you say you were?”
“I’m on Voyager, where else would I be? Only why are you calling me
Jesse, Doc? Something wrong with your programming again?”
“Uh, no, not at all. Just continue you story. You were heading to
engineering?”
“Yeah, the maintainence we’re doing is up at the top of the warp core.
No big deal. I’m not afraid of heights and I’ve got a pretty good sense of
balance. B’Elanna’s really getting frustrated. She keeps dropping hint after
hint to Harry, but either he’s not picking up on them or he’s ignoring them,
and she can’t figure out which. She wants me to talk to him, to do a little
friendly snooping around his head. I don’t like that idea; I don’t want to
get involved in this. It’s a sure fire way to lose two friends.”
“Let’s leave that for now, and jump ahead to where you are attacked.”
“Attacked?”
“Yes, attacked. That is how you received you injury isn’t it?”
“No. Like I said I was at the top of the warp core. We had just
finished running the final scan when the ship lurched. I was standing and I
lost my balance. I remember falling and grabbing one of the support beams,
but I couldn’t hold on. I hit the ground hard and blacked out.”
“You weren’t attacked by a mugger?”
“Mugger?”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Caitlin Rowan Matthews. I’m a security officer on the
USS Voyager.”
“Oh dear God! All right, Caitlin. Suppose you tell me what year this
is.”
“2376. Why, Doc, is something wrong?”
“No, no, nothing’s wrong. You’re fine. Now, when I count to three, I
want you to open your eyes, and you will feel quite awake and refreshed.
One. . . Two . . . Three. How do you feel?”

I open my eyes. Yep, I’m still here, twentieth century Earth.
“Jesse, or should I call you Caitlin?”
At the sound of my name, I turn on the Doctor. Just how much did I
tell him?
“How do you-?”
“Never mind. The point is you are in the body of Jesse Garrett, but
who are you inside? You aren’t Jesse anymore, are you?”
His voice is kind and understanding. I don’t think he’s going to put
me away just yet. I shake my head in response.
“You’ve been Caitlin ever since you woke up in the hospital, haven’t
you? Jesse’s the one with amnesia, not you, right?”
I stare at him and slowly nod my head. He knows; he understands.
Suddenly I spy the notebook in his hand; oh gods, if he recorded all this.
I make a quick grab for and tear out the pages.
“Hey!”
“Doctor, you don’t understand. You can’t record what I’ve told you.
No one can know about it.”
“No one will. I’m a doctor; confidentiality is part of an oath
I take.”
“I’m sorry, Doc. I can’t take that chance. I don’t know what all I
told you, but I can’t take a chance on someone else finding out. I know you
must think I’m crazy, but I swear to you I’m not. If this is the past, I have
to be careful not to pollute the timeline.” I hope I can give Tom’s eyes the
look of innocent sincerity that he usually does so well.
“Ms. Matthews. Caitlin. Have you ever heard of Kharma?”
I shake my head. “No. I never have. Why? What is it? Is that
what’s happening to me? I thought I had just done some very strange time
travelling.”
He smiles at me gently and pats the sofa. “I believe in a way you
have, only mentally, not physically. Come and sit down. I want you to tell me
about the people you know on this ship of yours and the people you’ve met here.
If, as I suspect, you are experiencing a regression, you should have noticed a
similarity between the two times.” His smile broadens, as I look at him
warily. “I promise I won’t write anything down.”

11:55 am

The session takes three hours. Doctor Wagner had blocked out the time
already just in case something unexpected happened.
“So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. With Kharma, we don’t
repeat the same roles, at all. Instead, we’ll find ourselves in different
roles from the ones we fulfilled in the past and the ones we will fulfill in
the future. And our connection with people now may be very different in the
future.”
“Correct. You and Jesse are one in the same person. He may look like
Tom, just as this Sara may look like you, but he is not Tom. He is a part of
you.”
“So in other words, my realtionship with the man I know as Joseph now,
could be quite different in the future.”
“Exactly, but as you have observed, in the future, you feel comfortable
with him and trust him. That may or may not be a hold-over from now.”
“Are you saying I should go back to him?”
“That’s something you have to decide. I can’t tell you what to do; I
can only help you to decide your best course of action.”
I stand up and walk toward his window. A city I don’t know bustles
around below me. “This is all so confusing. I don’t know if I can accept it;
I mean, Doc, I don’t belong here.”
“We all feel that way from time to time. For most of us, it is only a
brief instance of confusion. For you, it is much more. I think we’ve done
enough for this session, Jesse. We’ll meet again on Tuesday and talk some
more. Do you want me to call Joseph for you?”
“No, thanks anyway. I think I’ll take a cab, is it?” The Doctor nods.
“Besides, I’ve got a lot to think over. Doctor Wagner, I can’t tell you how
much better I feel just being able to finally tell someone what’s going on in
my head.”
“I know. I frankly don’t see how you kept yourself so under control
as it is. You are obviously a very strong person no matter what life you may
be in.” He smiles encouragingly and shakes my hand. “Until Tuesday, then,
Mr. Garrett?”
“Tuesday.” I grin in reply.

7:07 pm

It’s been quite a hike up the cliff road, and I am relieved to find
Joseph’s car in the driveway. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the
Doctor said this morning, and the upshot of it all was that I didn’t want to be
alone tonight. I want to be held; I want Joseph to hold me.
I can see him through the kitchen window on the front of the house, and
I playfully finger the keys in my pocket. I could walk in and surprise him,
but somehow, even though he said it was my house, too, I just don’t feel right
about doing that. I go to the front door and press the bell, instead.
I want to look nonchalent; so I cross one leg in front of the other and
lean against the door’s frame with my jacket over my arm and my hands in my
trouser pockets. I can hear his footsteps approach and soon the door opens.
“Hi, I was wondering if you’d mind some company for dinner?”
“Mind?” He tries to control the excitement in his voice and clears his
throat. “Um, no, not at all. Come on in.” He steps aside to allow me
entrance. “I was just preparing a salad, but there should be more than enough
for two, especially if I throw in some ham and chicken.”
Meat! Chakotay would never have touched it. He’s not Chakotay,
though, I keep telling myself. He’s Joseph and you’re Jesse.
“Why didn’t you call me to pick you up this afternoon?” he asks as I
toss my jacket on the couch and follow him into the kitchen.
“I needed some time to think and be alone. No distractions.” I pick
up a celery stick and munch on it.
“Tough session?”
“Enlightening is probably the better choice of words. Exhausting, too,
but I feel a lot better. Still no memory, but better nonetheless. I guess you
could say I know where I belong now.”
“And where’s that?” He doesn’t look up from the salad he’s tossing; I
think he’s afraid of what I might say.
“Right here with you; at least, for the present.” I watch the words
sink in. He puts down the utensils he’s been using and turns toward me.
His face has a radiance that I hadn’t expected, and I step toward him without
thinking.
He pulls me into his chest, his mouth eagerly plundering mine.
Suddenly, it feels right. Him and me. Joseph and Jesse. If I can’t make it
back to Voyager, shouldn’t I create my own happiness here? And I am happy
with him.
He lifts his head and searches my face. “Are you sure this is what you
want? You aren’t doing this because you feel you have some debt to me,
are you?”
I shake my head. “Unh-unh. I feel comfortable with you, Joseph; I
think I always will. I can trust you. We belong together.”
“Jesse.” His breath is warm on my face.
For the first time, I reach up and pull his mouth down to mine.
“Joseph, after dinner, promise me we’ll make love.”
“Why wait?”
“Because I’m starved. I haven’t eaten since this morning.” My hand
picks up a carrot slice which I immediately pop in my mouth. My eyes grin at
him in frisky impudence.
His bright smile lights up his entire face, and he throws back his
head in laughter. “Same old Jess,” he chuckles, wiping away a stray tear.
“Stomach, first; romance, second.”

Joseph turned his head and looked down at the blond head on his chest.
It was 6 a.m. He didn’t want to disturb him, but one of them had to go work.
“Jesse,” he called softly.
With a low moan, the eyelids fluttered open. The sleepy blue eyes,
which regarded him, seemed brighter somehow, clearer than they had been over
the past few days. A slow smile broke across the boyish face. “Joseph?
I remember now. I remember everything.”
With a small cry of joy, he rolled the younger man onto his back and
pressed him into the mattress with his heavier body. Work could wait.

A familiar hum is in my ears, and through my lids I can tell there is
a bright light shining down on me. I turn my head and slowly open my eyes.
As my vision focuses, I can make out the image of Kes. She seems to be running
a sample analysis of some sort.
“Kes,” I croak, and she whirls around.
“Doctor, she’s awake. Caitlin, how do you feel?”
“I want a mirror. Please, get me a mirror.”
She looks at me strangely before handing me a shiny instrument tray.
The Doctor is there by then running a medical tricorder over me.
I gaze into the distorted reflection in the tray. Auburn hair, green
eyes, feminine-shaped face. It’s me. “Thank the gods,” I gasp, forgetting
myself.
“Pardon me, Lieutenant?” The Doctor raises his eyebrows at my
response.
“Nothing. What happened to me? I remember falling, briefly catching
a beam, and then hitting the floor of engineering.” I look from one to
the other.
“The fact that you slowed you fall by grabbing the support is what
saved you, Lieutenant. You’ve suffered three broken ribs, four cracked
vertebrae, a small pelvic fracture, a broken scapula, kidney damage and a small
stress fracture along the back of your cranium. You are exceedingly lucky to
be alive.” The Doctor calls off the list of my injuries like so many supplies.
I can’t resist teasing him. “Oh, is that all? I’ve had worse.”
I reply calmly.
“I hardly think so, Lieutenant. Your medical history shows no-”
“I think she’s kidding, Doctor.” Kes breaks in gently. “Tom’s been
worried about you; he’s been here almost every duty-free hour since the
accident. B’Elanna’s concerned, too. She believes it’s her fault you had
the accident in the first place.”
“I’ll deal with her. Now, when can I get out of here?” I’m feeling
stronger, the longer I’m awake. I’ve already spent time in one hospital; I’m
not anxious to spend more time in another.
“Not for a few days yet,” the Doctor crisply cuts in. “You’ve been in
a coma for almost four days. Your body still needs time to heal.” He touches
his commbadge. “This is the Emergency Holographic Program to Captain Janeway.”

“Go ahead, Doctor.” Janeway and every other crew member on the bridge
held their breath.
“I just thought you might like to know; we have her back, Captain, and
I believe she’s going to be fine.”
A small, choked cry came from the conn, and Janeway briefly grasped
Chakotay’s hand in prayerful support. “Thank you, Doctor. That’s good news.
Janeway out. Mr. Paris.”
The conn officer spun around, the back of his hand rubbing quickly
across his eyes. “Yes, Captain?”
“I believe you are needed in sickbay, Lieutenant. You may consider
yourself off-duty until tomorrow.” She gave him a warm smile.
“Yes ma’am! Thank you, Captain.” He almost dashed to the lift, as
Harry Kim touched his commbadge.
“Kim to Torres,” he whispered.
“Torres here.”
“She’s awake, B’Elanna. Doc says she should be fine, and Tom’s on
his way to see her now. I thought you would want to know.”
“Thank the gods. Listen, Harry, I really appreaciate this. Torres
out.” A smile broke across the half-Klingon face, and she gave Lt. Carey,
who had the misfortune of standing next to her at that moment, and over-
enthusiastic hug, nearly breaking his ribs in the process.

The doors to sickbay slide open and Tom enters. On his face is a
bright smile, almost like the one Joseph flashed when I first saw him. He
takes my hand and kisses my forehead, gently brushing back some stray strands
of hair.
It’s so good to see him; to be back where I should be and with whom I
should be. I want to cry from the sheer relief and joy that I now feel. I’m
back home! I close my eyes and a tear wriggles its way down my cheek toward
my ear.
He wipes it away with his thumb. “I’ve missed you, Cait; you really
had me scared there for a while.” He shakes his head. “You know, it just
doesn’t seem right not having you around.” He leans over and kisses my lips
tenderly, but I can feel the passion simmering beneath the softness. He takes
a deep breath. “Maybe I don’t say this enough, but I want you to know, I do
love you.”
Joseph’s/Tom’s words echo in my ears. I reach up and bring his mouth
back down to mine. “Tom, when I get out of here, promise me that the first
thing we’ll do is make love.”
He smiles again, his beautiful blue eyes softly glowing from some
inner light. “Now that’s one promise I won’t have any trouble keeping.”

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