Progeny of the Past – Alternate Universe Novella

************************************************************
Now Voyager Ratings : PG – 14
MV (Mild Violence, inflicted by a teenager)
MS (Mary Sue)
************************************************************

PRELIMINARY WARNING: This work of amateur fan fiction is a
blatant \”Mary Sue,\” as well as an attempt to rib our dear pals
light-years from home.

DISCLAIMER: These characters, as well as most of the universe as
we know it, belong to Paramount and their affiliates (at least in
THIS century), even if they do exist four hundred years in the
future and were only subsequently discovered by Roddenbery in a
freak twist in the space/time continuum…

Anyway, this is an amateur voyage into fan fiction, not for
redistribution or monetary gain of any sort. (Too bad, huh? I\’m
sure there are dozens of people willing to pay big bucks for this
sort of thing ) And don\’t tell anyone on Voyager about this:
Cadet Friedman could be court-martialed!

NOT-QUITE-SURGEON-GENERAL WARNING: This work, as well as any like
it by the same author, does not advocate undue violence towards
modems, computers, or Tom Paris. (Well, maybe a little on that
last one) PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ELECTROCUTE YOURSELF VIA
MODEM TO TRANSPORT TO THE U.S.S. VOYAGER OR ANY OTHER 24TH
CENTURY STARSHIP (OR ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER) It is not an
attempt to slander Oedipus, Sophocles, English (Lovely language –
– which is why I speak it), teachers, Public School, Catholic
School, AOL or any other online service. AOL is a good service,
just a little slow and obstinate at times… but aren\’t we all?
NOT FOR INTERNAL USE – – for EXTERNAL READING ONLY.

Thank You.

So, without further ado,

************************************************************

\”Progeny of the Past\”

A Alternate Universe Novella

by Emily Odd

(emmyodd@aol.com)

************************************************************
PART ONE: First Impressions
************************************************************

-1-

A girl, dressed in Catholic school uniform: navy skirt and
sweater vest with a white oxford shirt, was typing furiously on a
computer like it was lima beans to swallow just before you get to
eat ice cream. Suddenly, the monitor went black, and the girl
sat stock still in shock, vicious oaths running through her
youthful mind, which had been previously corrupted by the public
school system.

\”Darn it!\” groaned the girl, approximately fourteen or so,
raking her hand stubbornly through her tangled dark hair, yanking
the mistreated butterfly clip out for the umpteenth time and
readjusting it in her thick unruly curls. She kicked the desk
with her brown loafers, her hazel eyes darkening as they glared
at the cruel computer screen. It was staring unwaveringly back
at her: blank and cold, the only words on the screen now were,
\”Computer error. Please reboot.\”

\”And I\’d just finished my homework!\” moaned the girl to the
heartless monitor. \”Gosh darn it!!\” she said, wishing she could
say the words that were really on her mind – – but she had enough
problems without her parents yelling at her from the bottom of
the stairs.

Finally, resigned to her fate, she rebooted the computer,
trying to rewrite the ending of her essay, which she had stupidly
forgotten to save. \”Stupid English class… stupid essay…
stupid Oedipus!!\” Poor Sophocles would have turned over in his
grave with this teenager\’s griping, but he\’d heard it dozens of
times before, from millions of disgruntled students, so his
eternal rest was no longer susceptible to such insults. And so
Oedipus was mutilated for ten more painful minutes, and then she
turned with a happy sigh to more creative endeavors.

The cheerful beep of her modem as she logged onto AOL was
almost comforting… until she went into her favorite folder,
J/C, to find another writer had posted over her just a few
minutes before – – and once more, the writing stunk!! \”Arrg!\”
she growled, biting her lip. It just wasn\’t her day. A few more
posts from various older friends teasing her, the youngest
writer, and a cute little feminist rant from Michelle, but the
writer\’s post still rankled.

She signed off without a word to any of her online pals,
and set to work on a counterplot to that insolent add-on. Eyes
gleaming, she wrote furiously for an hour, contriving plots and
putting in amazing leaps of imagination that held water like a
sieve. Finally, copying the whole document, she tried to sign on
again, but the obstinate modem only squealed reproachfully at
her, clicking and buzzing at her tauntingly.

Emily was getting murderous now, her hands tingling to hurl
the offending piece of machinery and toss it to the sidewalk
three stories below. But it was about ten pounds, so demolition
was well nigh impossible: besides, her dad would have a fit. So
instead, she went to the phone jack to fiddle with the line. But
of course, she was so agitated she forgot to stop the modem from
dialing, so as she was yanking the line around in its jack,
impulses were still being sent. An overload built up, and
finally, the energy gave in one humongous current.

-2-

\”Captain, we\’re getting large influx of energy in the
transporter room,\” said Harry Kim to Captain Kathryn Janeway.

\”What?!?\”

\”It appears to be an electric current from an unknown
source – – but electricity hasn\’t been used as a power source for
hundreds of years,\” added Harry. The console beeped again, and
Harry\’s eyes widened. \”It\’s like something\’s trying to beam
aboard!\”

Janeway glanced at Chakotay, who looked just as puzzled.
\”Well, we won\’t find out anything unless whatever it is beams
aboard – – let it transport. I\’m going down there to get some
answers,\” she added resolutely.

Janeway strode toward the turbolift with Tuvok and Chakotay
just behind her.

The transporter room\’s only crewman stood stock still as he
stared at the still lump on the platform. Janeway and the two
other senior officers rushed in, then edged tremulously towards
the huddled figure. Janeway hunched over next to it, closely
shadowed by the two men.

She shook the navy mass, which stirred under her touch. A
brown head popped up, and Emily sat up, her tanned face
blanching, then burning crimson in excitement as she looked
around. Then she looked at Janeway with a mixture of confusion
and mischief.

She looked around, and her sense of humor got the better of
her. \”I suppose I should say, \’Where am I?\’, but I\’m not going
to, because it\’s hopelessly cliche, and utterly pointless in the
situation.\”

Janeway looked at her as if she were mad. \”What…?\”

Emily looked vaugely exasperated, but was smart enough to
keep it to herself. \”You see, I KNOW where I am.\”

Now Janeway\’s sentiment was echoed everyone in the room.
\”What?!?\”

Emily kept her air of perfect calm, dispite the excitement
growing inside her. \”You see, I must be dreaming – – there\’s no
other explaination.\”

\”I\’m afraid not, Miss…?\”

\”Emily, Emily Friedman to be more precise.\”

\”Well, Emily, you see, I\’m Cap…\”

\”Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager,\” finished
Emily. \”I recognize the line.\”

Janeway stared open-mouthed at Emily. \”How did you know
that?\”

\”Maybe we should discuss this somewhere else… it\’s a long
story.\”

-3-

When they entered the Ready Room, Emily stood in a sort of
amazed, revernent silence, but snapped quickly out of it. \”You
see, I know all this because I watch TV.\”

\”TV?\” said Tuvok, looking at Janeway.

Janeway nodded. \”A colloquilism for television – – popular
in the 20th century.\”

Emily smirked. \”Very good, Captain. TV isn\’t great, but
Roddenbery did pretty well by himself with Star Trek.\”

\”Star Trek?\”

Emily couldn\’t belive her ears. Even if this wasn\’t a
dream, you\’d think they\’d know about Star Trek… \”It was a
series of four television programs in the late 20th century about
Federation starships exploring the galaxy. First it was James T.
Kirk and then Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprises, then Benjamin
Sisko of DS9 and the Defiant…\”

\”And…?\” asked Janeway, fascinated.

Emily grinned, adding, \”And finally, the most revolutionary
captain of the four: Kathryn Janeway of Voyager. Probably the
most admired woman on television in the 1990\’s. Probably the
most critiqued and politically correct of all.\”

Janeway blushed, but she was still confused. \”I don\’t
understand – – how does television know about us, if we exist
hundreds of years after they lived and died?\”

\”I don\’t know – – maybe the future was affected by the
past, so to speak – – the utopian society represented influenced
the leaders of the future… or maybe someone went to the past
and planted the idea in Roddenbery\’s mind – – who knows for
sure?\” she said, eloquently shrugging her shoulders.

\”So you\’re from the past?\”

\”I suppose so… unless I\’m dreaming – – what are your real
names?\”

\”Captain Kathryn Janeway.\”

\”Commander Chakotay.\”

\”Lietenant Tuvok.\”

\”Do the words Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, and Tim Russ
ring any bells?\”

\”No.\”

\”OK… could you hand me something to read really quick?\”

A PADD was handed over, and Emily nodded her head. \”Damn.
I can read this.\”

\”What\’s your point?\”

\”If I was dreaming, I couldn\’t read the words. Reading is
performed by the left side of the brain, dreaming by the right.
I guess I\’m stuck here, then.\”

\”Excellent deduction, though. Very logical,\” said Tuvok,
arching an eyebrow.

\”Thank you,\” grinned Emily.

\”So we\’ve firmly established that you\’re not dreaming, and
that you\’re from the the 1990s. But what I still don\’t get is
how you got here,\” said Janeway.

\”Well, I have no idea how I got here. I was adjusting my
modem when I was hit by a current of electricity. That\’s all I
remember until I got here.\”

\”Modem?\”

\”A form on communication between computers – – primitive by
your standards, but it gets the job done.\”

\”I see. According to Mr. Kim, the ship experienced an
alien surge of electricity last used in the late 20th century
just a few minutes before we found you.\”

\”Hmm, that might explain it, but we\’re still far from
figuring out how to send me back – – if we can,\” said Emily
seriously.

\”You don\’t seriously think you might be stranded here?\”

\”It is a logical possiblity, Captain,\” interjected Tuvok.
\”It might be wise to consider the options she might have if we
cannot find a way for her to return to her own time.\”

\”True, but first I\’ll set Harry and B\’Elanna on finding a
solution,\” said Janeway vehemently. \”Dismissed.\”

-4-

Janeway gestured to a seat nearby, and sat in behind her
desk, leaning on the table\’s surface, watching Emily intently.
Emily was still looking around the room in awe. \”I can\’t belive
I\’m actually on VOYAGER…\” she breathed.

\”It\’s quite a ship,\” smiled Janeway.

\”You don\’t understand – – my time hasn\’t mastered getting
to Mars yet – – and here I am on a starship traveling billions of
kilometers per hour – – do you know how amazing that truly is??
And once more, you have successfully done with dozens of races
and species of people what we as yet cannot do with one – –
integrate all as equal, productive members of a larger community.
We have war, pestilence, hunger, and bigotry. You have wars, but
hunger, famine, they\’re largely non-existent. You don\’t know the
fear of wondering who\’s carrying a concealed handgun, you never
worry about whether you won\’t succeed because you\’re a woman…
You have so many advantages, even 75 billion light years from
most of the people you love.\”

Emily looked away out into the black space in the windows.
\”When I would think about exploring space, I would wish I could
be on a ship like this: finding new races, new worlds. Space
exploration as I knew it was unappealing: it was scorned by the
government as a waste of money and time. But now that I\’m HERE,
it\’s all so amazing, but then I realize that Ensign Kim and
Lietenant Torres will no doubt find a way for me to go home, and
I\’m sort of sad that all this will be lost to me except as a
weekly show.\”

Janeway smiled strangely at this strange child\’s take on
her life, as well as her own. \”We don\’t know whether we\’ll find
a way for you to return – – in the meantime, you might want to
make yourself comfortable with the ship.\”

Emily had memorized every list of specs and every map known
to the 20th century, but nevertheless when faced with the
gargantuan ship in all its glory she blanched. She looked at
Janeway wide eyed, her hazel eyes turning an uncanny shade of
dark grey green. Grinning at her stupor, Janeway handed her a
PADD. \”Here, you can scan over this until my shift ends, and I
can give you a personal tour.\”

Emily beamed, whispering, \”Cool!\”

\”I take that as a yes. See you in a few hours.\” As
Janeway left the ready room, Emily plopped semi-reverently onto
the sofa that lined the huge windows with an amazed sigh. She
could scarce belive she was 400 years in the future, millions of
miles from her home… surrounded by people she thought only
existed in her imagination and those of thousands of people like
her. She thought of her friends back home: they\’d be so jealous
to see her meeting Janeway and the crew, reading a PADD!

But they\’d never know… she worried about her parents and
friends, who were no doubt looking for her, scared sick. She
couldn\’t even glance at the PADD, her mind was filled with
sadness. Then she glanced at the PADD, and saw a familiar face-
– hers. She thought it was a reflection until she noticed it was
wearing a sweatshirt, not the school uniform she still wore. A
thought, loud as speech, asked, \”Who are you and why are you on
my computer monitor?\”

\”I was about to ask YOU the same question!\” she thought-
spoke to the monitor.

\”I\’m Emily Friedman.\”

\”WAIT a minute – – I\’M Emily Friedman!\” she said.

\”Where are you?\” the image asked.

\”You\’re not going to belive this…\” she said, recounting
her tale to the astonished girl.

\”Wow!! So you\’re – -I\’m – – stuck in the future on
Voyager?!?\” squealed the Emily in the PADD.

She nodded, and Emily visibly jumped in the air. \”I HAVE
to tell Michelle and the others…\”

\”NO! This has to be a SECRET,\” said Emily, without any
clear thought as to WHY it should be a secret.

\”I suppose you\’re right…\” murmured the 20th century
Emily. \”Can you get back?\”

\”We don\’t know yet.\”

\”Well, if you can\’t what a STORY it would make!\” said Emily
from the PADD with a gleam in her eye.

\”That\’s what I was thinking!\” gasped Emily.

\”We do have the same mind, you know,\” smirked the other
Emily.

\”True – – but how did we communicate?\”

The Emilys thought a moment, and they slapped their heads
simultaneously. \”Of COURSE!!\” they cried, \”The COMPUTERS must
have a link thanks to that modem incident! So any time we turn
on both our computers, we can talk!!\”

\”This is great! Even if I don\’t get back, then we can
still be together – – so to speak,\” smiled Emily.

\”Well, we have the same mind, so we both have the same
memories. I think it\’s probably a link via the hippocampus – –
the part of the brain that stores memories – – so we won\’t
actually EXPERIENCE the same things, just remember them the
same,\” said Emily smugly from the monitor. \”You missed Health
class.\”

\”Well, that\’s pretty cool – – but isn\’t that alot to
discern so soon in the game?\” asked Emily.

Emily looked offended. \”I AM you, so I wouldn\’t insult me
if I were you, and since I AM you, I\’m not going to insult myself
– – or something like that. If you want, I can explain my
hypothesis to one of the engineers or something…\”

\”Fine. I\’m in the Captain\’s ready room, so I\’ll just take
this to her on the Bridge.\”

Emily was as jubilant as her alter ego, but she masked it
rather well. \”If you really want to, I suppose.\”

\”I can explain it myself if you\’re not interested…\”

\”NO! I mean yes… I mean…\”

\”Oh hush!\” snickered Emily.

-5-

\”Captain, I…\” Emily was cut off by a shortage of air, due
in part to the fact she had just been cuffed by Tom Paris, just
going off duty.

\”Going somewhere, miss?\” he said.

Emily had no better opinion of him now than when she yelled
at him from the privacy of her home, and she drawled pithily, \”I
think there\’s something on this PADD she should see.\”

\”Oh?\”

\”Yes, \’oh,\’ Mr. Paris, and would you kindly let me down
now?\”

Her request granted, aliebet rather roughly, she tumbled
from his grasp, and, plucking herself up, she stuck her tounge
out saucily, heading toward the Captain. \”Captain, I think I\’ve
found a link with the 20th century – – and myself.\”

\”What?\”

She handed her the PADD, and Kathryn Janeway stared down at
the grinning Emily. \”Hello, Captain, from the year 1995. I\’m
Emily Friedman as well – – except a few hundred years younger.\”

\”Hell…o…\” said Janeway, tilting the screen so Harry and
Chakotay could get a better view.

\”Spiffy – – the gang\’s all there, eh?\” she said dryly.
\”But seriously, could I try to explain myself?\”

\”Please do, starting with how you got on one of our PADDs.\”

\”You see, when the modem exploded, so to speak, and a
duplicate of me – – that Emily – – was transferred into your
transporter, a nueral link via the hippocampus was established
between us, so we share memories, as well as some sort of link
between my computer and yours, which I attribute to some sort of
byproduct of the modem overload. Other than that, I haven\’t the
faintest idea what other side effects Emily has expericenced,
much less a solution.\”

\”We\’ll contact you if we make any progress,\” promised
Janeway.

Emily grinned. \”It has been nice to meet you, Captain,
Commander. Hasta Manana.\”

The Bridge crew turned to Emily, who said simply, \”An old
Earth language, Spanish, phrase. It means, \’see you tomorrow.\’\”

Harry looked at Janeway. \”So do we resume tests, Captain?\”

\”Yes. If you can\’t find anything definitive soon, we\’ll
have to continue on with Emily on board.\”

\”Better than Seska.\” murmured Emily to herself.

Chakotay and Janeway turned suddenly. \”What did you
say?!?\”

\”Nothing…\” said Emily sheepishly. She had a feeling
Seska was still a touchy subject, even for the Commander\’s
friends… and especially strange girls from 400 years past. She
sidled out of the room, and back into the ready room.

-6-

But Emily\’s words were strangely prophetic. A few hours
later, Janeway and the young visitor ate one of Neelix\’s stomach-
churning concoctions after a intense, intricate tour of the ship.
Emily was aglow as she eyed all the amazing features she had only
gotten a glimpse of before. Whether it was the bitter glob of
viscous goo that Neelix called sustinance, or the rush that she
was experiencing as she ate with her heroine, she wasn\’t
completely sure, but either way the blob hardened and grew cold,
with only random prick marks to show it had ever been out of the
kitchen.

As Janeway and Emily discussed the 20th century in great
detail, the little Talaxian bumbled over with another, greener
version of the gelatious sludge. \”You poor little girl! You
must be sick – – you haven\’t eaten a thing!! Here, try some of
this Sendwaran floam paste. It\’ll perk you right up!\”

Emily\’s eyes widened, the thought of mucous springing to
her mind as she felt her insides drop to shudder in protest.
\”Uhhh…\”

\”We\’re not hungry, Neelix,\” interjected Janeway smoothly.

\”Oh… alright,\” said Neelix, who, spotting Commander
Chakotay entering the Mess Hall, perked up immediately at the
prospect of a new guinea pig, and rushed over to the poor man,
who was frozen stiff, too late to make a dignified exit.

Emily was giggling at the thought of the poor Commander
force-fed that goop until a huge thrust shook the room, knocking
them all to the floor.

Emily shook her head, a pounding headache coming on. She
turned around, finding Janeway slumped on the floor, a pool of
viscous red liquid, not of Neelix\’s creation, puddling under her.
\”Captain!\” she cried, hunching over the woman\’s still figure.

Chakotay rushed over behind her, a large gash cutting
across the side of his face from his chin to the bottom swirl of
his tattoo. \”What the hell…?\” he murmured worriedly.

Emily slipped her hand to the Captain\’s wrist. \”Her pulse
is strong, but I think she\’s unconcious.\”

\”Uhhh…\” murmured Janeway, writhing at the sound of the
two hushed voices near her head. They helped her sit up, and
supported her arms and back as she tapped her comm badge.

\”Janeway to Bridge.\”

\”Yes, Captain?\” said Harry.

\”What the hell just happened?\”

\”We\’ve been hit by a Kazon Nistrum ship. Nothing serious,
but they\’re powering down their weapons.\”

\”What…?\” said Janeway, Chakotay, and Emily
simultaneously.

Chakotay and Janeway turned to stare at Emily, who
shrugged, saying, \”I told you, I know about this ship and all the
aliens you\’ve encountered – – ecspecially the Kazon Nistrum…
and Seska.\”

Chakotay crimsoned, but Janeway interceded, \”We\’ll discuss
your knowledge later… but now we need to get to the Bridge.\”

Emily grabbed Janeway\’s arm as she got up. \”Take me with
you.\”

\”All right… let\’s go.\”

-7-

On the Bridge, Janeway faced the starscreen, which showed
the blatantly obvious image of a Kazon ship, but it was uncannily
still. Emily twisted her lip, perplexed, and Janeway and
Chakotay, their brows arched: a more discreet version of the
young girl\’s bewilderment.

\”Captain, they\’ve opened a channel.\”

\”On screen.\”

The surly Kazon\’s face filled the viewscreen. Emily gasped
from behind the ops console. \”He\’s even uglier in person!\” she
murmured, softly repulsed.

Harry turned and grinned. \”You get used to it.\”

Emily shook her head. \”C\’est impossibe!\”

A throaty growl, hate turned into words, interrupted the
chummy little dialouge abruptly. \”Captain Janeway,\” he said as
cordially, or as cordially as a creature who resembled the
missing link, only with worse hair, could. \”So we meet again. So
nice to see you.\”

\”The feeling is totally not mutual,\” said Janeway with
deadly poignancy, which sent shivers down Emily\’s spine. \”What
do you want, Kullah?\”

\”Why NOTHING, Captain! Only to send greetings on us
becoming allies.\”

\”ALLIES?!?\” frowned Janeway.

\”Why yes, of course! That\’s what Seska told me. She said
that she had *ahem* convinced you to join the Nistrum fleet.\”

\”First of all, we are NOT allies. Second, we haven\’t been
in communication with Seska since she announced her pregnancy
with Chakotay\’s child. Third…\”

\”WHAT?!?\” roared Kullah. \”That is not your Commander\’s
child!! It is MINE!!\”

Janeway set her mouth calmly, betraying no emotion. \”We
don\’t know that, Kullah. But Seska has quite a reputation for
lying. But still, none of that explains why you fired on us.\”

\”We didn\’t fire on you! I didn\’t order any discharge of
weapons!\” Kullah\’s dark, twisted face was flaming red, and he
was becoming more and more irate.

Janeway broke through what sounded like hexes and curses in
Kazon, interjecting smoothly, \”If you check your computers,
you\’ll find that there has been weapons fire from your ship.\”

Janeway stood motionless as Kullah looked down, his face
turning from anger to amazement back to abject fury. \”The
WOMAN!\” he roared. \”The weapons discharge command… it\’s from
her quarters!!\”

Chakotay repressed a sudden urge to stick his tounge out,
and turned to see Emily grinning at him, the exact same thought
in her mind. Janeway glid in at that moment, rolling her tounge
around the bitter words. \”About Seska\’s child…\”

\”The one you think is your Commander\’s,\” glared Kullah.

\”Seska gave us every reason to think so.\”

\”Well, you\’re wrong!\”

\”Well then you won\’t refuse a paternity test,\” grinned
Janeway.

\”Whaaa…t??\”

\”Yes, we must know for sure.\”

Seska\’s face was thrust in front of Kullah\’s. \”Dear
Captain… DARLING Chakotay…\” she frowned at the unfamiliar
little face behind them. \”Who…? No matter. As to your lovely
paternity test, I\’m afraid it is no longer necessary. The child
is dead.\”

Janeway stared at Seska for a minute, and said, \”Mute
audio.\” She turned to Chakotay. \”Do you think she would kill
her own child just to evade a paternity test?\”

\”I wouldn\’t doubt it.\”

\”Captain, there\’s unidentifed debris floating about 1,000
kilometers off the port bow.\”

\”On screen.\” Janeway gasped, turning away. The small hunk
of space debris was a small baby, slightly grey in the blackness
of space. \”Tractor it in… take it to sickbay. I\’ll be in my
ready room. Commander…?\”

Too shaken for words, Chakotay merely followed her numbly
to the Ready Room.

Emily, suddenly nauseous, clutched the console, slipping to
the floor outside of the Ready Room, hugging her knees fiercely.

-8-

\”Captain, Commander, I have good news and bad news. It is
dead, but it was not Seska\’s child. The genetic markers are
totally Kazon. It was a trick.\”

\”A horrible trick.\” shuddered Janeway.

\”But this means that Seska\’s child is still alive… on
that ship.\” said Chakotay, turning off the monitor to the Ready
Room.

\”Haven\’t you – – all of us – – been through enough? This
is insane!\” said Janeway.

\”I won\’t go unless you let me, but something inside tells
me I have to know for sure.\”

\”I\’m not letting you go…\”

\”I understand.\”

\”…alone. We\’ll go, and take a few ensigns with us.\”

\”Thank you, Captain.\”

\”That\’s what friends are for,\” smiled Janeway.

-9-

Janeway and Chakotay, along with an away team of five,
boarded the Kazon ship. They were greeted by Kullah, Seska, and
a small platoon of armed guards.

\”So good to see you, Captain.\”

Janeway glared at him. \”We just want a blood sample,
Kullah, and then we\’ll be gone.\”

\”Right this way.\”

Janeway and Chakotay stationed the ensigns outside of the
room, and entered a dark, barren room, with a single light
illuminating a makeshift bassinet. Chakotay stood by the door,
gesturing for Janeway to take the sample.

Janeway headed toward the crib, repulsed by the horrible
little creature inside. It was grey and mewling and ugly, even
in sleep. *Nothing,* she thought, *could be uglier than that…*
She leaned over, needle in hand, and was about to take the sample
when…

\”I\’m sorry, Captain, but we can\’t just LET you test this
child.\” Seska pressed a phaser at the Captain\’s back.

Janeway turned slightly, seeing Seska\’s smiling reptilian
visage and Chakotay, slumped on the floor, a trickle of blood
issuing from his forehead.

She collected her thoughts, and said, \”You know if you
shoot me, they\’ll be half-dozen phaser blasts, and your child
will be hit, as well as yourself.\”

\”The child\’s usefulness is over… I got what I wanted:
Chakotay and you.\”

\”What do you want us for? You hate us!\”

\”My point exactly. Even if I die, it will be a happy
death, since you two shall die along with me!\”

\”I thought you loved him!\”

Seska laughed mockingly. \”Fool! He was only useful as a
informant – – I have everything I needed from him – – so I amused
myself by playing with his mind, and now I will kill both of you.
Pity you will never know the satisfaction of driving poor
Chakotay to distraction – – you would have been an adept – –
except you actually have FEELINGS for him!\” she scoffed.

\”What do you mean?\” said Janeway.

\”You know EXACTLY what I mean – – the glances, the absolute
devotion – – just lovely!\” she sneered.

\”Chakotay and I are just friends.\”

\”What an IDIOT!\” groaned Seska, slapping her head. \”You
don\’t mean to say that if you two both had no pasts, you would
have no emotion for him whatsoever… that if you were both just
foolish ensigns, you…\”

\”I\’ve had enough of your mind games, Seska! Either shoot
me or not – – you won\’t get the satisfaction of counting me as a
rival!\” she growled huskily.

\”My my, you HAVE got it bad!! Before you die, I just want
to give you a little piece of information. Chakotay…\”

But the little barb went unshot – – a swift kick from below
knocked Seska to the ground, and quick as a wink, an Ensign
sprung from her cramped hiding place and leveled a phaser at
Seska\’s head, and fired.

Chakotay\’s form now shadowed the still body of Seska. He
shook his head at the bloody wound at the shoulder. \”You have
lousy aim, Ensign…?\”

The now redheaded Ensign pulled the false Bajoran nose and
earring from her face, and grinned. \”Ensign Emily Friedman,
Commander,\” she laughed, walking out of the room, leaving the two
astonished officers alone with the unconcious Cardassian.

-10-

\”Ready, Captain. We can beam her out at your command.\”

Janeway sighed. \”I know.\” She was very sad to lose this
plucky little sprite, but B\’Elanna and Harry had worked very hard
to get her home, and she didn\’t belong here… or did she?

She turned to the crestfallen young girl, now back in her
20th century school uniform, who stood bravely before her. \”I\’ll
be very sorry to see you go… your bravery and courage was
commendable.\”

Emily smiled through a mist of budding tears. \”I was just
doing what any one would have done, Captain. I will miss not
being on Voyager… it\’s kind of grown on me.\”

\”We\’ll all miss you.\” grinned Chakotay at the little flame
of a face. She had brought out his sense of humor even in the
middle of the horrible crisis they had faced.

\”That means alot, sir,\” she smiled.

\”Aye!\” blurted Harry big brother-ishly from behind the
transporter console.

Emily grinned again, hugging everyone one last time, the
saltwater coming fast. She turned around and stepped onto the
console, more afraid than when she had had a phaser in hand only
a few days ago. The whoosh of the transporter filled her ears
with a dim hum, and she disappeared from them in a shimmer of
blue.

Janeway turned from the transporter, suddenly very sad.
She knew that Emily would have to go back to her own time
eventually, but she had grown on everyone gradually during the
week or so she had been aboard, and her valor was a match for
anyone on this ship. Chakotay put an arm around her to support
her, and they began to exit the transporter room.

Suddenly, a thread of blue from out of nowhere issued from
the transporter, and a familiar figure appeared again on the
platform. Janeway turned around, blinking the water from her
eyes to see an extrodinary sight. There was Emily, but
different… a tad more weak… a trifle thinner… more tan than
she remembered. Emily reopened her eyes slowly, and they gasped
as they saw her devilish hazel eyes were now a brilliant blue.
She looked around, hazed. \”What…?\” Then she beamed happily,
running to the Captain, laughing.

In the midst of the happy reunion, and the laughing and
merriment, the ever-rational Tuvok commented, although no one was
listening, \”It would appear that the transport did not work.\”

-11-

The Doctor, baffled, examined Emily with every test in the
book. Finally, he snapped the tricorder shut, and turned to
Janeway and Chakotay, amazed. \”It seems that the transporter
configuration, instead of taking her back to her own time,
affected her genetic structure in such a way that she could not
have survived the trip back, and so it rematerialized her on
Voyager. When it altered her genetic signature, it took out some
of her DNA patterns, which were replaced by those of the last
people who rematerialized on the transporter. And, judging by
the scans in comparison with those of the crew, that would mean
the two of you are the *ahem* donors.\”

\”That would be right, Captain. We were the last back from
the Kazon ship.\” pointed out Chakotay.

\”It does explain the darkness of her skin and the eye
color,\” nodded Janeway.

\”And in addition to reconfiguring her DNA, it also…\”

A beep interrupted the Doctor, and B\’Elanna\’s voice filled
the room. \”Captain, there\’s a strange reading over here… I\’m
sending it over to sickbay… any suggestions?\”

The computer screen went black near the biobed, and a long
list of figures materialized on the screen. Emily immediately
went over to the screen, eyed it critically, and said,
\”Lieutenant, I\’m sending you a configuration for the antivirus
system biop for you to initate of the port necelle – – it should
clear up the strange discrepancies.\”

Everyone turned to stare at Emily, and B\’Elanna\’s voice,
filled with amazement, said, \”She\’s right Captain… the readings
are normal now – – and I think she might have a solution to
increase fuel efficency by at least 5 percent!\”

The Doctor smirked at them, and said dryly, \”The computer
has also affected her brain – – she now has an amazing grasp of
the ship\’s systems – – almost as if she can read the ship\’s
\”mind,\” so to speak.\”

\”Amazing.\”

\”But if she\’s to become a functioning part of this crew,
she still has alot to learn,\” said Janeway. \”We should start her
education with Tuvok as soon as possible.\”

Emily looked pained. \”Tuvok…?\” she said.

\”Tuvok taught at the Academy, and he\’s a gifted teacher.\”

\”If I complain, you won\’t hit me, will you?\” said Emily
warily, eyeing Chakotay.

Chakotay blushed. \”That\’s only for the Maquis, Emily.\”

\”O…K… I guess. I\’m up to the challange.\”

But Emily didn\’t know quite how challenging Mr. Tuvok
was…

-12-

\”Wow, Em, that\’s really cool… are you sure I can\’t write
about it? It would be a great story!!\” pleaded Emily to her
futuristic \”twin\” as they sat discussing the last week\’s events.

\”No! Captain Janeway would kill me! It might upset the
past or something horrible like that! Besides, no one would
belive you,\” said Emily matter-of-factly, crossing her grey-clad
arms.

\”Well, it\’s almost 7 here, so I have to go watch
\”Voyager,\”\” said Emily.

\”And I have to live it,\” grinned Emily, straightening her
cadet\’s uniform as she stood up before the computer. \”Later.\”

\”Sure,\” said Emily as the screen went dark, then turned on
Microsoft Word with a wicked gleam in her eyes…

************************************************************
PART TWO: Bide A Wee
************************************************************

-1-

One day, a few months into Emily Friedman\’s cadet training,
after a grueling regimen of boring simulations, still more boring
lectures, and grueling physical workouts administered by
Lieutenant Tuvok, Emily staggered back to her small quarters
wearily. She was beginning to doubt the wisdom of not just
getting smacked upside the head by Commander Chakotay – – it
couldn\’t be any more painful than lugging around that billion-
pound knapsack and jogging around a million-mile corridor. And
her head ached from the facts and figures and endless
calculations Tuvok had crammed into her cranium with ruthless
efficency. *They weren\’t kidding when they said Vulcans were
very composed people,* thought Emily, yawning midthought.

She absently punched open the door, donning her jeans and
t-shirt and flopping onto her narrow bed. She ran through all
that happened that day, which, considering she was on Voyager,
wasn\’t that much. She had woken up at 0700, showered and
dressed, and had eaten the revolting breakfast which, thanks to
the thousands of frozen dinners she\’d eaten in the course of her
lifetime, actually didn\’t taste all that bad. Then she spent the
rest of her day struggling to keep awake (and upright) as Tuvok
put her through her paces, much to the glee of Lieutenant Paris,
who seemed to shadow her, a annoying sadist, chortling as she
sweated it out under his mirthful gaze. Emily wondered when he
ever found time to do all the things he was rumored to do.

But Emily shook the unpleasantness of the day from her
head, grabbing a copy of \”A Turn of the Screw\” from a nearby
table, thumbing through its leaves aimlessly, the eerie mystery
grabbing hold of her as she read.

She had been reading for an hour or so when the door slid
open, unbeknownst to her. A tall, relatively thin shadow slipped
inside, quietly padding his way towards the back of the occupied
chair. He stretched out a hand to tap her shoulder. \”Hey, want
to join us at Sandrine\’s?!?\” yelled a boisterous voice.

Emily turned around, her nerves shattered. She screamed,
then saw who had frightened her. Her eyes glowed with an icy
blue fire, and she sprung from her seat, jumping on top of poor
Tom Paris and beating him half senseless, yelling like a banshee
the entire time. \”You JERK!! You SLIMEBALL!! Can\’t stop acting
like an ASS for ONE MINUTE, can you?!? LEAVE ME THE HELL
ALONE!!!\” she yelled, kicking him in the leg for good measure as
she lept up.

As she turned around, she noticed she had an audience.
Harry stood, open-mouthed as he stared at his poor friend,
doubled over on the ground. Chakotay shook his head, covering
his glee at poor Tom\’s plight in a thick mantle of sterness.
Emily automatically helped Tom to his feet sheepishly, her face
burning and all her fury gone. \”Sorry,\” she mumbled to the
floor. It just wasn\’t her day. And it was getting worse and
worse.

The Captain walked in at that interesting moment, laughing.
But her laughter was cut off by the sight of poor Tom leaning on
Harry, who was still in shock. Granted, the little cadet didn\’t
do much physical harm, except maybe a really sore leg, but the
damage to his ego was nearly mortal. She turned to Chakotay.
\”What happened here?\”

Chakotay set his mouth, saying, \”Tom frightened Emily and
she flew at him.\”

\”Is this true, Emily?\” asked Janeway.

Emily nodded morosely.

Janeway put a hand to her forehead, but her sense of humor
got the best of her. She looked up at Chakotay, grinning. \”So,
who does she get THIS from, Commander?\”

Chakotay supressed his own grin. \”I don\’t know, but it
needs to be controlled.\”

Emily groaned, but Janeway smiled a little. \”Well, since
we\’re going to the holodeck, we\’ll decide your punishment later,\”
she said.

\”Yes, ma\’m.\”

\”And as for you, Harry, take poor Tom to sickbay. I doubt
he has any serious injuries, but it won\’t hurt to be sure.\”

-2-

\”All I\’ll say is, Tom won\’t be bothering her ever again,\”
said Chakotay as he and the Captain sat in the Ready Room the
next morning.

Janeway looked at him with mock-reproach. \”Don\’t encourage
her, Commander, we don\’t need another B\’Elanna Torres in our
midst.\”

\”Especially one with such a great left hook,\” snickered
Chakotay.

\”Seriously, Commander, what are we going to do about this?\”

\”The standard loss of week\’s replicator rations and
confinement to quarters should suffice.\”

Janeway looked up from her PADD. \”But what does that teach
her? She\’s a bright, promising young girl, but if she continues
to act this way…\”

\”Quite honestly, Captain, I don\’t think she will. She may
have a huge temper, but she has an even bigger concience, which
has already taught her her lesson,\” said Chakotay.

\”Very well, but I want you to administer the punishment…
that way, if this doesn\’t work…\”

\”It will.\”

\”For your sake, I hope it does.\”

Emily stepped timidly into Commander Chakotay\’s office
later that day, looking for all the world like she was entering
the dragon\’s lair instead of the kindly First Officer\’s office.
In her crimson and grey cadet uniform, with her unruly hair
pulled back severely and plaited, she looked fearfully small and
wide-eyed. \”Yes, sir?\” she murmured.

\”Emily, the Captain has decided to let me handle your
punishment.\”

Emily swallowed hard. \”Yes, sir.\”

Chakotay\’s face broke into a paternal smile. \”That\’s good
for you, Emily. The captain\’s testing both of us this way.\”

Emily scrunched her brow. \”How?\”

\”I wanted to be lenient, thinking you\’ve already learned
your lesson, and the captain decided to follow my advice and do
so – – but if you don\’t prove me right, she\’ll go back to
whatever punishment she had in mind before.\”

Emily was still a little confused. \”I don\’t get it – –
what happens if you\’re right?\”

\”Then I\’m right, and you become a better member of the crew
for it. That\’s all I want.\”

\”Then I can take whatever you dish out, sir.\”

\”No replicator rations for a week, and confinement to
quarters for the same duration.\”

Emily\’s face fell, but she lifted her head up calmly, and
said, \”Yes, sir.\”

\”Dismissed.\”

-3-

Emily had fallen asleep early a few days later, not so much
from sleepiness but from utter boredom at being confined to the
few square meters she called home. She had been trying to kill
the time by reading a novel, but it was so dry she dropped it to
the floor by accident, and hadn\’t had the heart to pick it back
up. She closed her eyes lazily, and fell fast asleep.

Thanks to poor Paris, Commander Chakotay had learned the
dangers of startling the youngest member of Voyager, and
proceeded into the innocuously bright quarters cautiously.
Curled strangely around the chair, her denim-clad legs dangling
over one arm, her upper body contorted in twists only a teenager
could execute without severe pain. She had a peaceful smile on
her face, or at least the part of her face visible from
underneath the mop of dark curly hair that fell all over her face
and shoulders.

It was a shame to wake the little beast, but she was an
hour late, and Tuvok, who had been waiting in the holodeck, was
as irritated as a Vulcan can get. Chakotay was afraid (well, not
so much afraid as embarassed) of what Janeway would say if she
got wind of Emily\’s tardiness, so he had taken matters into his
own hands.

Now, standing before the sleeping cadet, the former Maquis
captain quailed. She didn\’t make contact as well as say
B\’Elanna, but she made up for it with a tremendous amount of
force and a twice as many blows. *Here I am, afraid of a little
kid!* thought Chakotay, and mustering up all his command
presence, shook her shoulder.

The girl, still half-asleep, threw a fist out
instinctively, but he had quickly jumped out of the way, and the
arm swung through the air, throwing her balance off. A leg
followed the arm, and finally a tremendous thud as Emily toppled
onto the floor in a heap.

\”Uhhh…\” groaned Emily, grabbing her head as she sat up.
A huge bruise was beginning to form on her forehead, and she had
the uncomfortable feeling her nose had been smushed. She blinked
open her eyes, looking around fuzzily. \”Whaa… habbened??\” she
asked, to no one in particular.

\”You\’re an hour late for your holodeck lesson with
Lieutenant Tuvok,\” grinned Chakotay, finding his sense of humor
again.

\”I dodn\’t thee whath tho fuddy,\” snapped Emily, holding her
nose and her forehead at the same time. \”My thos ith boken,
thankth tho you!!\”

\”What?\” asked Chakotay.

\”MY THOSE!! MY THOSE!!\” yelled Emily, jumping up, her tight
little fists pounding feebly on his arm, accidentally smacking
his comm badge as she did so.

-3-

\”MY THOSE!! MY THOSE!!\” echoed through the Bridge.
Janeway started. \”Who the hell was that?!?\” she said,
looking around.

Paris appeared to look completely serious as he turned
around to look at Janeway. \”Judging from the intensity of the
pitch, and the fact that I can hear the thud of pounding little
fists in the background, I\’d guess it\’s Cadet Friedman.\”

Janeway looked strangely at Paris for a split second, then
strode towards the turbolift.

A few minutes later, the open doorway revealed an inane
picture to the Captain: a little girl grabbing her face as she
sat on the floor, as Commander Chakotay looked on helplessly,
rubbing a sore arm. \”Commander, what have you done?!?\” she
cried, rushing to comfort the prostrate girl. \”You poor
thing…\”

\”WHAT?!? I didn\’t do anything!! I\’M the \’poor thing\’!!\”
groaned Chakotay. \”She fell on the floor, then started hitting
me!!\”

Janeway supressed a snicker at the poor Commander\’s plight.
She grabbed the girl\’s shoulders and looked at her squarely.
\”Off to sickbay with you, Emily.\” she admonished. As she ran (or
as fast as someone can possibly go with a bloody nose) out of the
room, Janeway stood up from where she was crouched and walked
over to where Chakotay was briskly rubbing his arm, muttering,
\”Damned good contact for a little kid!\” under his breath.

Janeway shook her head. \”I told you this wouldn\’t work,
Commander.\”

Chakotay looked up stubbornly, his nostrils flaring. \”It
WILL, work, Captain, if it\’s the last thing I do.\”

Janeway smirked, patting his arm. \”Make sure it isn\’t,
Commander.\”

-4-

Chakotay walked to sickbay a few minutes later, where he
saw Emily lying across a biobed in such a way so that her legs
and sneakered feet were visible on one side and her head dangled
off the far side of the bed. Kes stopped him as he walked in.
\”She\’s not seriously hurt – – just a nosebleed – – she\’ll be fine
once the bleeding stops. I didn\’t bother to activate the
doctor.\”

\”Thank you, Kes,\” said Chakotay, setting his face as grimly
as he could and stalked over to where Emily hung strangely over
the bed.

Clearing his throat to get her attention, he asked dryly,
\”Was it the custom in the 20th century to constantly sit in
strange positions?\”

Emily swung her wieght forward and sat up on the bed. \”No
– – at least, not in real life. On TV, that\’s another thing.
But I was tired of holding my head back so I just hung my head
off the side of the bed.\”

\”Well, now it seems at least a bit logical.\” sighed
Chakotay.

Emily turned violently. \”That\’s the last thing I want to
be – – logical!!\” she shuddered. \”I want to be wonderfully
illogical. It seems to me the more logical you are, the less fun
you have by degrees. Look at Lieutenant Tuvok!\”

Chakotay nearly smiled, but instead he asked sternly, \”What
about Captain Janeway and me?\”

Emily grinned. \”You are too nice to be completely logical,
hence you\’re too nice to be completely boring.\”

Now Chakotay laughed – – loud. So loud, in fact, Kes
turned to see if he had gone mad. \”But don\’t you see, Emily,
that has a logic all its own.\”

\”True…\” said Emily, running her hand though her hair in
an uncannily familiar gesture. \”I\’m sorry I punched you, sir.
It was an accident.\”

\”I\’m just glad it wasn\’t Captain Janeway… she wouldn\’t
have borne it as well as I have.\”

Emily came very close to laughing in his face. Instead,
she muttered under her breath her half-brother\’s favorite
euphemism: \”Oh… I… KNOW\” (Teenage speak for \”Yeah RIGHT\”)

Even if he had heard what she murmured, he could not have
told you for the life of him what the hell she meant by it; such
is the power of adolescent euphemisms. If they don\’t know what
you\’re talking about, then they can\’t get angry, unless they\’re
the sort of adult that just gets very impatient unless they know
everything, sort of like Tuvok – – only Vulcans are never
impatient.

In any event, it didn\’t matter, because Commander Chakotay
never bothered about getting impatient, mainly because he LOOKED
and SPOKE as if he knew what everyone was thinking and he knew he
did, as well as the power of looking as such. So he just rolled
his eyes a little and tried to resume his authoritative aura, at
which, for once, he failed at.

So he just stared at her, which cowed her sufficently.
\”Just make sure it doesn\’t happen again, Cadet.\”

Emily grinned wickedly. \”Even if it\’s Lieutenant Paris,
Commander?\”

\”Even Paris, Cadet. Maybe the two of you should work
together on some project or another.\”

She sighed impishly. \”OK, sir, I\’ll try.\”

\”Good. Dismissed.\”

\”To where?\” asked Emily. \”I AM over an hour and a half
late for my lessons.\”

Chakotay crossed his arms sternly. \”To your quarters to
change into your uniform, then report to Lieutenant Tuvok.\”

Grinning in a manner that was too familiar to be wholly
respectful, Emily nodded, \”Yes sir!\”, and hustled out of the
room.

-5-

All was quiet on the starship Voyager on an evening a few
weeks later. Several crewmen and women had met at Sandrine\’s for
a pool tournament, and the only sound all along the corridor that
held the senior officer\’s quarters was an echo of a youthful peal
of laughter resonding down the hall.

In a small room just off the captain\’s quarters, a young
girl sat hunched over a PADD, giggling hysterically. The face of
the girl she laughed with was almost identical to her own, except
for the darker cast to her own skin and the brilliant blue,
faintly rimmed with a dark ring of mahogany, of her eyes, a sharp
contrast to the hazel ones in the monitor.

It was a pretty picture indeed, the dark sprite, tan cheeks
flushed in merriment, giggling with the only teenage contact she
got to make during the day. Her head shook with the violence of
her laughter, her curly tiger\’s eye hair catching the light in a
thousand subtle shades, from almost black to glints of blonde
here and there, reflecting the yin and yang of her \”godparents\”\’
physical and mental traits.

The laughter subsided after a few minutes, and the girl in
the screen wiped her eyes, snickering, \”No really, Em – – you
didn\’t!\”

\”It was an accident, Eds, honest – – the soup just sort of
flew out of my hands and fell into Tuvok\’s lap!!\” said Ensign
Emily Kathryn Friedman, better known around Voyager as \”Em\”
grinned devilishly.

The girl in the monitor, Emily Clare Friedman, nicknamed
for no particular reason \”Edith,\” snickered. Em sighed. \”It\’s
late, and I have an early duty shift tommorow.\”

\”I have to go, too. . . I had no idea it was so late!\”
gasped the Emily in the monitor. \”I\’ll get back to you soon
about the TV thing.\”

\”Thanks! See you tommorow.\”

\”Kay. . . night, \”twin.\”\”

Em turned off the monitor with a tired sigh, rubbing her
eyes as she got up from the small chair where she\’d sat for the
past 2 hours and changed from her stiff grey and crimson cadet
uniform into a soft pair of flannel pajamas. Even after a few
months aboard Voyager, she wasn\’t used to the uniform. It wasn\’t
that she was unused to wearing the same things as everyone else:
her months in a Catholic high school had taken care of that. It
was just that the uniform was so darn alien – – absolutely
nothing like the clothes back home. And so when she was in her
quarters, she wore the comforting flannel and denim of her own
time.

Her quarters reflected her \”ancient\” origins admist the
24th century as well. They consisted of a small pair of rooms
too small for use by anyone else in the crew: the Federation
crewmen already had rooms, and the Maquis would have revolted no
doubt. But thanks to the generosity of the senior staff with
their replicator rations, the tiny rooms were now decorated with
snatches of her home: her \”comfort\” clothes lying across a small
bunk, a small Celtic cross, an easel and paints near a
replicator, a warm afgan spread over a small chair that had
originally seated alien ambassadors. On her desk there were a
few books mixed in with several PADDS, as well as her personal
computer and a small silver frame with a picture of the senior
staff and herself. She grinned at the happy, caring faces,
remembering the tumultuous months before she could finally settle
in comfortably with her Voyager family without breaking her bones
– – or those of others.

Emily smiled as she looked around at her little room with a
happy sigh. Her thoughts wandered back to She snuggled under her
blanket, and promptly fell fast asleep.

-6-

While Emily fell asleep quickly, Commander Chakotay, first
officer aboard the U.S.S. Voyager, sat in the center of his
darkened quarters, the contents of his medicine bundle
surrounding him and a peaceful serenity illuminating his
features.

Inside the hidden realm of his mind, he was deep in
consultation with a gorgeous creature who watched him with soft
bright blue eyes that picked up his every word, spoken and not.
She occasionally padded around him protectively on four huge
paws, her flank catching the soft pattern of fading Arizona sky
on her golden hide, but often choosing to loll on her side before
him looking up at him, nodding occasionally.

Chakotay knelt, preparing to say good-bye before he stood
up and the vision dissipated. He nodded his head, stretching his
hand to stroke her shoulder. \”Thank you,\” he thought-whispered
to the smiling eyes surrounded by bright fur that filled his
mind.

The animal seemed to shake her head maternally at him, her
mouth curving slightly. \”No, Chakotay, there is something else.\”

Chakotay looked at her again a little forlornly, nodding
blankly.

The animal embraced his mind tenderly, stretching as she
did so. She stroked his cheek with her own, but he could not
feel her soft fur, only a warm satiny texture of human skin. He
looked at her in surprise, and she squeezed her eyes shut, the
desert scene becoming a peaceful seascape, her soft fur
shimmering for a split second with the glitter of scales. \”She
loves you, Chakotay. Bide a wee.\”

Chakotay opened his eyes suddenly, confused by the animal\’s
cryptic farewell as well as the scales he thought he had seen.
It wasn\’t like her to be so confusing – – she was always very
warm, yet very direct in her advice and counsel, just like. . .

He shook the intruding thought from his head prudently. He
was very conscious of the protocol on this ship and his role, but
every so often. . . his resolve broke a little and his mind
exploded with possibility for a split second before his better
judgment took over again.

As he solemnly folded up the deerskin of his medicine
bundle, his eyes fell on a small framed photo that Kes had just
distributed: it was a very good picture of the nine senior
officers that she\’d taken as per the Captain\’s request and had
made smaller copies for the rest of the senior staff.

He smiled as he saw the smiling faces in the picture: Kes
had taken it while they were off-duty, so they were all out of
uniform, except the Doctor, who was perennially in his teal and
black. He grinned at each familiar face in turn: The Doctor,
Neelix and Kes, B\’Elanna in deep red and Harry very close behind
her – – Chakotay was still amazed that poor Harry hadn\’t been
torn in two once in the entire span of their 6-month relationship
– – Paris and Emily, the two resident hecklers, grinning over the
entire group like some insolent Cupids – – it was a constant
miracle to him that his discipline had actually WORKED with Emily
– – they were actually FRIENDS! Then there was Tuvok, whom\’s
normal thin grim line of a mouth quirked a little at the edges.
Chakotay laughed as he remembered how Janeway and Kes had pleaded
and cajoled Tuvok just to get that much out of him.

As he chuckled to himself, his gaze shifted to the last two
figures in the center of the picture, their forms glowing in his
memory, mainly because one of them was himself, and the other was
his. . . Captain.

For one of the rare times in the year he\’d known her, she
was out of uniform… dressed in something dark and soft and
semi-long, and yet somehow it wasn\’t somber – – it brought out
the oft-hidden, subtle shine in her face like one of the shining
stars that dotted the endless black that surrounded them. Her
bright hair was not completely down – – it was gathered in a low
knot at the nape of her neck – – but the entire effect commanded,
as always, his respect and admiration, as well as a new emotion
he had yet to discern, if ever.

The admiration was evident in his face and gentle smile as
he stood slightly behind her, dressed in dark colors himself, the
two commanding officers a stark contrast between the riotous
colors and sunny faces surrounding them like a flock of giddy
white ducks surrounding two serene black swans who were content
with life and each other.

Chakotay stared at the picture, or rather, the lovely
beaming face in the center of it that was so close to his own,
for a few more minutes until he realized what – – or rather, who
– – his reveries were focused on and he jumped back in shock.
No. . . he was just lonely. . . he respected her. . . she was a
friend, not. . .

A sudden urge boiling up to forget this entire episode, he
leapt to his feet. A healthy dose of repartee with Tom at
Sandrine\’s would clear his mind of this nonsense. With a
resolute step, he strode out of his quarters and toward the
holodeck.

-7-

Kathryn Janeway groaned as she flopped onto her other side,
dropping her novel to the floor with a weary sigh escaping her
lips. She rolled onto her back, still uncomfortable, then
finally sat up, unable to relax. Her eyes roved around the room,
finally settling on a large frame on the table near her feet.

She plucked it up, smiling when she remembered how she\’d
asked Kes to take it for her – – the table had seemed so empty
since she\’d cleared her quarters and her ready room of all Mark\’s
pictures the month before. Kes had also given her small framed
pictures of each of the senior staff and Emily – – two copies of
each officer – – the eighteen little silver frames standing like
smiling sentries: nine throughout her rooms and nine in her
office, comforting her with their presence.

Her fingers traced the smiles of each of the people she\’d
come to know and love: Tuvok, the Doctor, Neelix and Kes, Tom
Paris, Emily, B\’Elanna and Harry. She was convinced that they
belonged together since she first saw them together more than 6
months ago, the first of many serious relationships to blossom on
the ship.

She started from her memories, her insides warming as she
gazed at her own face and Chakotay\’s – – the ones she\’d
consciously overlooked until that moment. Oblivious to all else,
she dreamily thought how well they looked together, his face and
body so close to her own for that brief moment in time captured
in that photo, in the midst of all the hubbub and colors of their
loving friends surrounding them. Then her eyes focused again,
and she shook her head. Not THEIR – – hers, his – – separately.
It was all a trick of the light. . . she was lonely. . . she
respected him. . . he was her friend, not. . .

Janeway leapt up. The eyes in the pictures, specifically
the dark brown ones, which were normally comforting, followed her
around the room possessively, as if he. . . Well, it was just
too stifling in here. . . she just really needed to get out. She
pulled her hair up into a quick knot as she donned her uniform
and strode toward the holodeck.

Janeway stepped into the turbolift, blind to everyone and
everything around her. Chakotay did the same, and both could
honestly admit that they saw no one beside them in the turbolift.
So it must have been a great surprise to both to find the objects
of their unwelcome thoughts standing before them.

They both blushed hotly, staring at the turbolift doors
until they slid open and allowed Harry and B\’Elanna to join them.
A joint breath of relief filled the lift as they moved apart to
allowed the couple room.

After what seemed like forever, the lift doors opened again
and the four spilled out into the corridor. Janeway wondered if
the climate controls were functioning correctly – – it was alot
cooler here in the hallway than in that lift. Her puzzlement was
interrupted by a light tap on her arm. She turned around and
found Chakotay smiling concernedly at her. \”You seemed
preoccupied.\”

\”No. . . just thinking.\”

\”About what?\”

\”Nothing. . . I was heading to the holodeck. . .\” she
mumbled.

Chakotay was about to say that he was going there too, but
his mouth wouldn\’t obey and said instead, \”I was just heading. .
.\” he fumbled, \”back to my quarters. . . I was just taking a turn
around the ship to stretch my legs.\”

\”Oh.\” murmured Janeway, feeling very small. \”Well, see you
tomorrow.\”

\”Alright.\”

They parted, and Janeway walked down the hall toward the
holodeck with a strangely heavy heart. What was happening? She
was acting like an utter fool, getting her hopes up…

She shook it from her head for the second time that night
and strode into the holodeck. Tom was nowhere to be seen, the
holodeck empty with no program running. Janeway turned to leave,
but she couldn\’t go back to her room just yet. She opened her
mouth to run Sandrine\’s, but she was suddenly not in the mood.
Struck by inspiration, she called out, \”Computer, activate
program Janeway Zeta Five,\” hoping it still existed – – it had
been forever.

The gridded room disappeared, replaced by a wide expanse of
beach that stretched out forever in her mind\’s eye. It was
aesthetically identical to the dream-scape of her vision quest,
but she would have to provide the soul. She nestled in a cleft
in a nearby rock and closed her eyes.

Her animal guide came quickly, without deerskin or
incantations or even Chakotay\’s comforting yet disconcerting
presence to lure it. . . just the fact that she needed its help
brought it to her side. She was confused – – a very foreign
emotion to her – – not entirely knowing the reason why. All she
knew was that she needed answers, and she instinctively looked to
this tiny creature to supply them.

It crawled nearer, looking up at her from the crook of her
arm. She stared at it, her expression a question indecipherable
to all but the tiny reptile, who knew her better than anyone,
including herself.

Silently, the lizard inclined its head understandingly,
almost nodding in a sage fashion. It turned its head uncannily,
its iridescent green scales transforming ever so briefly into
tufts of soft gold fur. And then it was gone, as swiftly and
effortlessly as it had come.

Janeway was deeply disturbed by this. She didn\’t
understand why it would just disappear, without any real answer
to the question buried so deeply in her subconscious she didn\’t
quite know it herself, let alone its answer.

-9-

The only person she could really discuss the strange coming
and going of her guide was incalculably far from her, partially
from his scruples and partially from her own. As disturbed as,
or perhaps more than she was, he prowled the length of his room,
his composition cracking as he was faced with such a
disconcerting vision.

He ran a hand through his hair and over his face wearily.
He couldn\’t stand just pacing trying to figure this out, and
sleep was unthinkable – – she may come again to haunt him, and he
couldn\’t stand another puzzle, not tonight.

He looked at the time. 2300. He shook his head. He had
to go somewhere. He checked the holodeck schedules. All full of
crowds of people, except one with only one occupant without a
privacy lock. Chakotay smiled. He wasn\’t in the mood for a
large gathering, and he was sure that the solitary person was
Paris running his holobar. Janeway was probably long gone by
now, fast asleep in her darkened quarters, her hair down as she
curled up in… He shook his head. His guide\’s strange
departure was really starting to get to him tonight. . . he was
thinking the most improbable things. He rushed back toward the
holodeck, hoping Paris\’s antics would help him forget the past
few hours.

A few minutes later, he stepped into the holodeck and found
a shocking sight. A seascape, as if ripped from his brief vision
within a vision, filled the holodeck.

His eyes wandered, lost for a few minutes to the utter calm
of this place. He wondered who was running this program – –
certainly not Paris, and he B\’Elanna and Harry were too busy with
other recreation to design such an intricate, clearly personal,
clearly solitary program. Kes wasn\’t technologically literate
enough to do something like this, nor was Neelix, who didn\’t like
holodecks anyway.

As he wondered in thoughtful silence, he vaguely noticed a
figure between some large stones a few meters from him move
slightly within the range of his peripheral vision.

After a few minutes of ennui to clear her mind, Kathryn
Janeway reopened her eyes on a startling sight. There, as if
he\’d suddenly just appeared, was Commander Chakotay, staring into
space enveloped in a ponderous silence. She moved a bit, shaking
him from his thoughts. He turned and stepped closer to her, his
eyes wide. \”Captain? This is yours?\”

She nodded. \”It\’s not exactly identical to my vision, but
it helps calm my nerves.\”

\”This is your vision?\” he said, not wanting to intrude into
such an obviously private place… he didn\’t have the right.
\”Maybe I should leave.\”

Janeway started. \”No, it\’s quite all right, Commander. I
just couldn\’t sleep.\” She looked closely at his haggard face.
\”And from the looks of it, neither could you. What\’s wrong?\”

\”Nothing. . . nothing.\” he said – – what could he say:
\”Captain, I can\’t stop thinking about you?\” Impossible. . . and
untrue, of course. It was his vision that was bothering him. . .
not. . .

Janeway shook her head a little, the fading sun behind her
head making her hair bright gold just like. . . He edged away a
little from where he had sat down beside her, a little shocked by
the uncanny resemblance. Not that Janeway was in anyway feline
in appearance, but nevertheless the wise, serene countenance, the
thousand small unconscious mannerisms were there. He\’d
subconsciously noticed it countless times before, but now the
realization hit him full force. This was too much. . . He shook
his head, muttering, \”NO. . .\”

Janeway was very confused, an emotion very foreign to her
until a few hours before. One minute he had seemed very open and
almost. . . friendly, willing to admit to her what was bothering
him. Then he looked as if she had the plague. WHAT was wrong
with her? She was going to go crazy if she kept reading so much
into so little. . . soon she\’d be thinking Tuvok was flirting
with her!

She disengaged her hand from where it clutched his
shoulder, Chakotay looking up, not noticing its firm, gentle
presence until it was gone. He didn\’t make a move to stop her –
– he couldn\’t move an iota, for fear of what he might say – – or
do.

Janeway smiled, but Chakotay detected the lack of the beam
and shine in her eye that accompanied her true, heart-felt
smiles. She didn\’t dare pat his shoulder, merely mumbling
softly, \”You know if you need anything, I\’m here for you.\” before
she fled her own program, only the deep creases in the shoulder
of his uniform to convince him it was not all another vision.

-10-

Janeway raked a hand through her hair after she retreated
back to her quarters. She donned her nightgown, wrapping her
blankets around her, trying futily to ward off the strange
thoughts that plagued her. She tossed onto her side, facing a
long bureau that lined the length of the opposite wall.

The glass of a picture frame glowed faintly in the
starlight. As she sat up instinctively to look at it, her sleepy
mind imagined she saw the outline of some large animal on the
wall behind it. As her eyes refocused, she saw the smiling face
of her first officer. She flopped back onto her pillow. Sleep
came quickly, but invited with it the most disturbing and
unwelcome dreams about her and her first officer.

-11-

Neither got much sleep of any quantity or quality that
night; and the next morning the atmosphere of the Bridge
reflected it. Janeway sat on the Bridge for all of ten minutes,
then retreated back to her Ready Room for the remainder of the
watch. Chakotay sat in his chair composedly, coming to the
conclusion his animal guide was out of it last night and the
consequent events were merely a mild delusion.

Alpha shift was long gone and Beta shift was beginning to
fidget when she reappeared on the Bridge hours later, the first
he had seen her since the previous night. She had evidently not
slept much either, for what reason he could not fathom: she was
pale and drawn as she slumped into her chair beside him.

The effect of seeing him beside her did not doing much for
her complexion or spirits either, which led him to assume she was
angry at him for intruding last night, although she hadn\’t shown
it, but he could think of anything he\’d done wrong.

She turned, noticing quite keenly that he was staring at
her for some reason with a very foreign look to his face. She
blushed a bit, which jolted him back to the Bridge. She assumed
she was just in the line of his gaze, not the object of his
study. She looked to her right. Yes, he was probably staring at
the pretty Maquis, Lieutenant Regent, hunched over the
Engineering console in B\’Elanna\’s stead, not her. How silly for
her to assume. . .

Janeway blushed furiously again, pleading headache as she
hurried off the Bridge to her Ready Room before something else
happened to make her feel the fool.

-12-

Chakotay watched as she left the Bridge, an eyebrow raised
as he discerned the agitation in her firm, quick stride.
Something was very wrong today. . .

But what?

A few minutes of wild speculation later, his curiosity
finally got the best of him. He looked at the time. 2310. His
watch was over ten minutes ago. Nodding to Tuvok, he got up out
of his chair and exited towards the turbolift. Whatever was the
matter with Janeway, he was going to find out – – and soon.

Janeway moved as she paced her Ready Room, lengthening her
stride as she pondered what the hell was going on. Him and his
damned animal guides. . . Janeway shook her head, seating
herself behind her desk. It wasn\’t his fault she got a smart-ass
guide with a penchant for confusing you and making you think. . .

\”Captain?\”

Janeway looked up from a pile of PADDs to look at a very
sheepish Cadet Emily Friedman. She smiled warmly. Emily had a
spark about her that always brought her out of her ponderous
gloom. It didn\’t fail this time, either. \”Yes, Cadet?\”

Emily looked around, her hands behind her back and rocking
her body back and forth. \”Well, I just noticed you spend an
awful lot of off-duty time alone. . . or at Sandrine\’s. Not that
I have anything against Tom or his program,\” she added, grinning
a wee bit maliciously as she recalled very nearly being thrown
out by the aforementioned Paris after she beat him 3 games to
none in pool one night. \”But might I suggest something more. . .
creative?\”

\”Such as?\”

\”Well, with Tom\’s help, I\’ve been modifying one of the
holodeck relaxation programs into an outdoors art studio of
sorts. I\’ve been using it by myself, but I\’d love to teach
someone.\”

\”So you want me to be your guinea pig?\”

Emily blushed. \”Well. . . I. . .\”

Janeway broke into a soft smile. \”That\’s not a \’no,\’
Cadet, that\’s a \’yes.\’ I\’d be happy to learn. But I must warn
you, I can\’t draw a stick figure much less anything more
complicated.\”

\”I\’ve heard that before, Captain. Don\’t worry.\” She held
up a small sketch of a person. \”The Emily in the 20th century
sent the computer copies of some of my work. This was drawn
before I took art.\”

Janeway examined it. \”Better than anything I can draw.\”

\”But look at these,\” she said, handing her two large sheets
of paper, \”In comparison.\”

Janeway looked at them. One was a self-portrait, the other
a sort of collage, with a bird, a mountainscape, a monkey, and. .
. \”How did you draw me if you drew this in the 20th century?\”

\”Like I said, Voyager was a very popular TV series. The
entire senior staff\’s pictures were all over cyberspace.\”

\”Amazing.\”

\”The truly amazing thing is that Emily thinks she can
connect the ship\’s computer and her television in the same way
the two computer\’s hard drives are linked.\”

\”And. . .?\”

\”And so I\’ll be able to introduce you first-hand to 20th
century TV.\”

\”How soon?\”

\”We don\’t know. Emily thinks she\’ll be able to send a test
one soon. Harry, B\’Elanna, and I have been working during some
of our off-duty time on setting up the holodeck to receive the
program. She\’s going to attempt UPN\’s frequency first, then if
that works, we might be able to access other stations. Of
course, we\’ll need your approval, Captain.\”

Janeway smiled. Emily hadn\’t been this eager since
Chakotay had helped her with her animal guide almost as soon as
she had been firmly established on Voyager. She wasn\’t often
enthused about anything, but when she was she attacked it with a
vigor. \”Of course, Cadet, as long as it doesn\’t affect you
three\’s work or the computer systems.\”

\”Yes ma\’ – – Captain,\” beamed Emily.

Janeway nodded, and the Cadet slipped out, calling, \”2200
tomorrow Holodeck 2, Captain.\”

-13-

Janeway stepped into Holodeck 1 the next evening at 2100.
Sandrine\’s, as usual, was in full swing, and she slipped into a
partially hidden table before anyone could detect her presence –
– or so she thought. She looked up to see if anyone saw her
entrance when her gaze met the amused twinkle of her first
officer\’s.

\”Good evening, Captain. Am I intruding?\”

\”No, of course not.\” she said, blushing, trying to appear
thoroughly at ease and failing horribly.

Janeway fiddled with the edge of the table for a minute.
Meanwhile, Paris spotted the Commander slip from the pool table
toward a shadowy table occupied by a auburn-haired woman whom\’s
face he couldn\’t see. \”Ahhh, Chakotay\’s smitten… wonder who\’s
the lucky lady?\”

Unable to suppress his curiosity, he strode over to the
table. \”Hey, Commander, gonna let me finish you off?\”

The woman turned, and Paris\’s mouth opened in shock.
\”Captain?\” he blubbered inanely.

Janeway rested her hand on her cheek and looked at him
radiantly with a serene smile on her lips. \”Yes, Mr. Paris?\”

\”Ummm. . . uh. . . just saying hello, Captain.\” he
recovered somewhat.

Janeway smiled as she stood up. \”Well, it will have to be
good night as well. . . I\’m going to meet Emily in Holodeck 2.
She thinks she can teach me to draw.\”

Paris couldn\’t speak, but Chakotay rose to stand beside
her. \”Have fun, Captain,\” he grinned.

Janeway merely exchanged a slow smile with him, unheeding
of Paris, who was observing both. They belonged together – – he,
as well as half the ship, had speculated on this for months and
had drawn the same conclusion. Now all there was was to get the
two together. . . but how?

He was still deep in probable solutions: rigging the
turbolift between floors, locking them in her Ready Room until
they were forced to admit they were in love, conning the doc into
creating a truth serum, abandoning them on an asteroid, making
them eat Jell-O – – Harry swore it was an aphrodisiac – –
locating some sort of alien virus… when he felt a big hand clap
on his shoulder.

He jumped a mile, his cue clattering to the ground.
Chakotay groaned, shaking his head. \”Are you ready to finish
this game?\”

\”I was about to ask you the same thing, Chakotay,\” smirked
Tom devilishly. \”You seemed more than content to stay over at
that table with that cute redhead,\” he continued mercilessly.
Chakotay merely looked at him: he couldn\’t get a rise out of him
at all these days, Paris thought, exasperated.

Chakotay rolled his eyes. \”I don\’t know what you\’re
talking about, Paris. And I don\’t think the Captain would
appreciate you calling her a \”cute redhead,\” either.\” he added.

\”Whatever. . . can we just finish this game?\”

\”Sure.\”

-14-

Janeway entered the holodeck, this program a welcome change
from the hubbub of Sandrine\’s. It was a sunny mountain scene.
In the distance she could see a large wooden house nestled among
the trees. A small figure waved wildly from its huge wooden
pavilion, gesturing her onward.

A few minutes later she found herself climbing a set of
redwood stairs that led to the pavilion. When she finally
climbed the stairs, she found a more amazing view than the
initial one, as well as a smiling Emily greeting her. She was
clad in soft, faded jeans and a large white shirt, already
covered with soft streak of grey. Her hair was pulled from her
face in a braid, half her hair flying out of it in glorious
disarray. She stood before a long, tall table covered in large
sheets of paper and dozens of pencils and erasers.

\”Hello, Captain. Ready?\”

\”Of course. What\’s all this? You didn\’t use up all your
replicator rations on this, did you?\” she said, looking a little
guilty.

\”Of course not – – most of this is holographic – – only for
practice. This\” she said, holding up a few pencils and a two
large pads of paper, \”Are the only real things here.\”

\”Oh… well then, let\’s get started!\” she said. Then she
looked at Emily\’s clothes and her own spotless uniform. \”Am I
dressed alright?\”

\”Yes… I just have a nasty habit of wiping my fingers on
my clothes while I draw – – you won\’t need any grungy clothes
until we start to paint.\”

Janeway had a sudden vision of herself covered in paint,
and was suddenly very glad she was the only student in this
class. \”So, what\’s first?\”

\”Well, I\’ll start with the basics – – perspective and
whatnot, same as I learned it, then we can move onto rendering
and hopefully you can start drawing still lifes within a few
weeks, then human features a little after that.\”

Janeway frowned a bit warily. \”How soon is \’a little after
that\’?\”

\”Well, my art class was a semester – – 12 weeks. I was
drawing human features about the 9th week. I\’ll start asking
crewmembers to pose about a week before that, depending on how
fast we go.\”

\”Well, let\’s just start with perspective.\”

\”Alright. First, we\’ll start with the vanishing point. .
.\”

-15-

A few weeks later, as Harry, B\’Elanna, Emily, and now Tom
Paris worked diligently in the holodeck on the TV program, Emily
looked up from the circuitry and looked at the two officers
innocently. \”Could you guys do me a BIG favor?\”

Tom mock-sighed. She was a girl after his own heart, but
she often used her youth and big blue eyes to get them to do
various things for her – – even he, whom she had whipped soundly
once with her fists, as well as countless times in pool. He held
up the wires in her face. \”What does THIS look like?\”

Harry, incessantly nice as always, ignored Tom\’s
exasperation and inquired, \”What do you want, Em?\”

\”Well, Captain Janeway has come to the human features part
of the curriculum and she\’s worried about looking foolish and
messy in front of subordinates, so I was going to ask the senior
officers to pose instead of asking anyone much lower.\”

Paris was about to laugh in her face, when a light bulb
went off in his brain, to use the 20th century colloquial. He
snapped his fingers, dropping the circuitry in his hands and
grabbed Emily in a bear hug, swinging her around until she was
dizzy. \”That\’s IT! You\’re a genius, Emily!\”

Emily edged away from him after he set her back down,
whispering loudly to Harry and B\’Elanna, \”If he does that again,
I might hafta break my word to Commander Chakotay and deck him
again.\”

B\’Elanna snickered, but Tom had already jumped Harry. \”OK,
guys, here\’s the plan.\”

Janeway waited in the holodeck for Emily. She tapped the
long table with a pencil. Emily was usually here long before she
was… she was never this late. She was about to tap her comm
badge to locate her, when she heard footsteps on the stairs. She
turned. Emily didn\’t have such a firm, slow footstep: hers was
light and very VERY fast.

Emily came into view first. She was in her customary
\’grunge clothes,\’ her hair in her braid. Her hands were behind
her back: a habit acquired from the transporter accident, and she
grinned broadly, another \”inherited\” habit, though not her own.

\”Captain, here\’s your model for your human features lesson.
He promised to be nice and is giving up a few hours to sit
completely still.\”

Janeway just looked, puzzled, straining to see who Emily
had conned into giving up his leisure hours. She gasped
involuntarily when she saw the tall frame of her first officer
appear behind Emily, who still stood grinning like a Cheshire
cat.

Emily looked between the two briefly, wishing Paris was
here to see his little plan blossom, memorizing the event for
posterity. Then she became all business. \”OK, if you\’re ready,
Commander, we\’ll set this little lesson up.\”

\”Of course,\” he smiled. Whether he had an inkling of what
was going down or not she wasn\’t completely sure.

\”Alright. Here\’s your chair,\” she said, gesturing to a
high-backed chair directly across from Janeway. He sat down,
Emily pushing it a little closer to the table. He looked at her
quizzically, and she recovered quickly, \”You need to be as close
to her so she can capture every detail of your face on the
paper.\”

\”I see.\”

He sat obediently, but Emily shook her head. \”No NO. . .
the Captain can\’t very well draw you if you look like a wooden
Indian, Commander. . . no pun intended, of course.\”

After getting him into the desired position, Emily nodded,
walking over to where Janeway reached for a scrap of paper. She
shook her head again. \”No, Captain, this is an exercise to
record on the real paper. You\’ll be using the same sheet for the
next few days, though. We\’ll start with the eyes.\”

She brought forth her own sheet, covered with facial
features meticulously drawn. \”Of course, you will have to draw
closer to life size. . . mine were too large.\”

\”I can\’t draw like this. . .\” began Janeway.

Emily smirked to herself, but shook her head. \”Of course
you can, Captain. Here\’s the format.\” She sketched a series of
lines on the paper. \”Just remember no eye is completely oval,
pupils are round, and only draw one highlight in the eye, and you
should do well. Here, just focus on the lines of your subject,
like this.\”

Emily took a good look at Janeway, then bent and sketched a
few lines, shading and erasing for a few minutes, pausing
occasionally to look at her, then pushed the paper back to her.
\”See? Just practice – – you\’ll do this a few times before you
get it right. . . then tomorrow we\’ll move to the nose, then the
mouth. The eyes are the easiest feature to master, and I have
confidence in your skill.\”

Janeway nodded and fell to work, realizing she couldn\’t
possibly fear. . . impropriety with Emily around.

But that hope was dispelled a few minutes later. Janeway,
intent on her progress, Chakotay\’s features reduced to cold,
meaningless lines, when a bleep issued from Emily\’s comm badge.
\”Kim to Friedman.\”

\”Yes, Ensign?\”

\”We think we can receive the first program if you\’re ready.
We need you in Holodeck 1 to help us.\”

Emily looked back to where Janeway sat, frozen. \”You don\’t
mind if I go over there? I\’m really anxious to see what Emily
sent for the first program, and if we finish soon, then I can
show you what my century thrived on. Maybe even a few
commercials!\”

Janeway looked over to Chakotay and back to Emily, halfway
out the door by now. \”Fine… but come back soon.\” she said, a
little waver in her voice.

\”Well, all you have to do now anyways is render – – add the
humanness to the eye – – so I\’m not really needed here anyway.\”
Emily grinned for a split second, then was out the door, leaving
Janeway and Chakotay alone.

Janeway tried to concentrate on the subtle nuances of her
shading, but the soft, clean variations of grey wouldn\’t appear
on her paper, even after minutes of erasing and smudging the
graphite with her fingers. She ran her hands through her hair,
her forehead streaked with grey from the countless repetitions of
this gesture.

Chakotay chuckled a little at the sight of the super-
composed woman reduced to this frazzled creature with a grey
forehead and her hair in wonderful disarray over a piece of paper
with his image, but quickly stopped at the sight of her annoyed
face.

\”This THING,\” she proclaimed hopelessly, gesturing wildly
to the paper, \”Will NEVER look like an eye, human or otherwise!\”

Chakotay leaned over the table to observe her handiwork.
\”That THING is my eye, thank you, and I\’d like it if you\’d
remember that. Second of all, it is your first attempt. . . you
can\’t expect to be perfect the very first time.\”

Janeway nodded. \”True. I guess I should just try again. .
.\” She moved to scrunch up the paper, but Chakotay shook his
head. \”I think you should save it. . . a reminder that not
everyone is perfect. . . even you.\”

Janeway smiled, laying the paper aside. She caught her
reflection in the darkness of his eyes. \”I must look a sight.\”
she said, smoothing her hair away from her face.

\”You look fine,\” he grinned just before her returned to his
unblinking position before her.

-16-

Harry greeted Emily happily as she entered the holodeck.
\”Em, we\’re about to receive the program from Emily.\”

\”Great, save it. I want to show the Captain. I hope it\’s
what I think it is.\” exclaimed Emily, looking at the viewmonitor
they\’d set up in the holodeck.

\”What do you think she\’s sending?\”

\”From her hints, I\’m expecting \”The 37\’s\” or \”Elogium,\” she
grinned. \”Or it might be \”Caretaker,\” I\’m not sure.\”

Tom and Harry looked at Emily. \”WHAT?\”

\”You\’ll see.\”

Paris looked at Emily. \”By the by, how\’s our little plan
going?\”

\”Just fine. . . what a perfect excuse to get them to stare
into each other\’s eyes for days on end!!\” she snickered.

\”What I wouldn\’t give to be in there right now…\” smiled
Paris.

But his daydreams were interrupted by the blare of theme
music. Harry stared at the screen. \”Kate Mulgrew as Captain
Kathryn Janeway. . . Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay. . .
this is. . .\”

\”Star Trek: Voyager!!\” squealed Emily happily.

\”No. . .\” said Paris disbelivingly.

\”Yes!\” squealed Emily as she saw the title of the episode.
\”And my favorite episode, too – – Elogium!! It worked!! I HAVE
to watch this with the Captain and the Commander – – it\’s the
most slanted episode ever!!\”

\”Slanted?\”

Emily looked at Harry as if he was an utter moron.
\”Sexually slanted… \’mating process,\’ Chakotay saying, \’sexual
rival\’ every ten minutes?! I mean… this gave the J/Cers
something to write about for weeks!!\”

\”J/Cers?\”

\”I\’ll explain later. . . but I really have to check on my
art student.\” she smiled.

-17-

Janeway tossed aside the umpteenth piece of paper with a
disgruntled sigh. She slumped tiredly across the table, her head
in her folded arms. \”I can\’t do this!\” she moaned, banging her
head against the wood.

She looked up and found Chakotay smiling at her. \”You do
realize they\’re trying to set us up, Captain.\”

Janeway shook her head and looked at him. \”Of course – –
but I didn\’t quite realize it until this moment.\”

\”Did it work?\”

Janeway smiled at him. \”Maybe, maybe not.\”

Chakotay grinned, stretching his stiff limbs. He could sit
very still for hours while she looked intently at him, trying to
capture every detail of his face on paper, but his body revolted.
Janeway flexed her stiff wrists and fingers as well, stretching
them above her head, then resting them on the top of her head.

Chakotay looked at her: dressed in a white, loose shirt,
jeans covering her legs, her bright hair almost completely out of
its confining knot, her arms clasped over her head so the loose
rolled-up sleeves of her shirt slipped to her elbows. He smiled
to himself. He\’d known from the moment Emily had oh-so-sweetly
asked him to lend his face to the Captain for her art assignment
that it was all a setup, a large part played by Tom Paris, no
doubt.

And yet, he\’d assented, almost eagerly, to being a pawn in
their matchmaking. There was something about Kathryn Janeway\’s
face. . . and he was helpless before it. Not even his guide
could have told him what might have happened had he not suddenly
heard Emily\’s ringing voice come up the stairs.

\”Captain!\” she exclaimed happily. \”We\’ve just gotten
Emily\’s first TV transmission!! I\’d love it if after you and the
Commander would watch it with me. . . I\’m sure you\’ll love it
just like the people in my century did!!\” She looked down at the
pile of crumpled sheets and the grimy visage of the elder woman\’s
face.

She picked up the only smooth sheet, studying it
critically. \”Hmmm… quite good… but Captain, you really need
to loosen up! Your strokes are so choppy. . .\” she grinned as
she looked up. \”Quite frankly, Captain, you need to CHILL OUT.\”

\”I\’m sure it\’s just fatigue, Emily. . . I still don\’t know
how you talked me into this in the first place.\”

Emily smiled. \”Other than the agitated pencil strokes, you
show great talent and caring in your execution. Just take the
eraser,\” she said, grabbing a glob of rubbery grey goop and
mashed it into the paper at various points, \”And you\’ve fixed it.
There, now it\’s perfect. That wasn\’t so hard… besides, the
noses will be easier.\”

Janeway smiled at the paper. It really was quite good. . .
almost looked like Chakotay\’s eye, too, she thought, looking at
Chakotay and the paper, then held it up beside his face and
studied both critically.

Chakotay looked straight ahead as Janeway did this, the
soul of seriousness. But in his eyes his gentle humor at the
sight of her disheveled face and clothes and the consciousness of
her eyes looking into his was quite plain. Janeway caught sight
of this for a split second, blushing slightly.

Emily watched this little episode with acute interest,
feeling the same twinge of electricity that she caught when she
used to watch. . .

\”Captain!\” she blurted at that opportune moment, startling
the two mesmerized officers back to the Delta Quadrant. They
looked at her, and she blushed furiously. Janeway was still a
bit frazzled, but Chakotay was too curious about the deep color
in Emily\’s face – – she\’d never blushed like that before the
accident, and he never blushed like that, but Janeway. . .

Emily opened her mouth again, disrupting Chakotay\’s
thoughts again. \”I\’m sorry. . . I promised I\’d meet B\’Elanna,
Tom, and Harry to watch the incoming program in the holodeck in a
few minutes. I really have to go. . . will the two of you be
joining us?\” she added.

Janeway didn\’t skip a beat. \”I\’ll come with you. . . I
know I\’m very eager to see what you spent your days watching back
home.\”

Chakotay nodded. \”Sounds fascinating… I\’m game.\”

\”Well, then. Harry said he\’d begin replaying the
transmission soon, so we\’d better hurry,\” said Emily, dragging
the two down the stairs after her, throwing her whole weight into
it.

-18-

Harry and Tom greeted them a few minute later, Emily still
dragging them somewhat even thought it was unnecessary. She let
go as they entered the holodeck, Paris steering them towards a
sofa and a cluster of chairs. B\’Elanna was already seated in one
of three chairs, and Paris and Harry quickly occupied the others
(Harry, of course, moving his closer to the one occupied by
B\’Elanna), Emily sprawled across the floor on a large pillow,
leaving nowhere for them to sit but on the small sofa.

Janeway looked at Chakotay, grinning. When the other\’s
backs were turned, she whispered, \”You know this is a setup.\”

Chakotay nodded, very near laughter himself. He\’d all but
forgotten the incident with his guide a few weeks before, and
when he was with Janeway, he found it very easy to smile
nowadays. He sobered quickly, seating himself on the sofa,
Janeway joining him. Emily looked back at them. \”One warning to
everyone. . . I bite pillows when I watch this show. . . it keeps
me from yelling at the characters.\”

Janeway\’s mouth dropped. \”You\’re kidding.\”

\”Nope.\” she said, shaking her head vigorously. \”Are we
ready?\”

Janeway looked bit wary, but she said, \”As I\’ll ever be.\”

\”OK then. Computer, dim lights to 10%. Run visual
Friedman Omega One, \”Elogium.\”\”

Janeway stifled a gasp as she turned to look at the others,
who were as calm and nonchalant as ever. Then she remembered
that she and Chakotay were the only ones who hadn\’t seen it…
She knew this was all a huge setup, that she should leave now and
find some way to punish Paris and that little whelp Emily for
doing something like this. . . But her curiosity as to this
television, as well as how this escapade would turn out, was
piqued. So she settled back onto the sofa and watched as strange
snippets of loud, grating advertisements for ancient automobiles,
alcohol, etc. She arched an eyebrow as a woman with her face
gave a public service announcement about literacy, but the real
shock was about to unfold.

Suddenly, without warning, she saw Chakotay\’s face, the
incident in the turbolift, vaguely aware of the fact that it was
a Maquis and a Starfleet, then saw Kes and Tom, then Kes\’s
erratic behavior. More commercials, then she saw herself talking
to Chakotay.

She dimly heard a squeal from below her, where Emily was
biting her pillow as if to tear it to shreds. She looked up
again to see what she squealed about, Chakotay\’s \”Even you?\”
echoing in her mind and memory again. Still more commercials – –
did Emily ever get used to those inane soundbites? – – then she
saw herself and Kes, scared and sweaty jumping at her fearfully.
She watched a few minutes more, talking to Chakotay in her rose-
tinged Ready Room. Emily\’s muffled squeal was heard again.

She saw herself parading around as the rest of the drama of
Kes\’s early coming-of-age and the strange creatures reunfolded
before her eyes, the scenes on the Bridge vaguely punctuated by
squeals and mild muffled oaths of, \”Damn it, NOW!!\” As she
rewatched the last scene from a new angle, from \”Do you think
it\’s a sexual attraction?\” to \”If I ever need to know anything
about of mating processes. . .\” seeing herself and Chakotay in a
new light.

As the last of the credits rolled in the darkened room, she
felt an arm across her shoulder. She turned, finding the
holodeck empty and Chakotay very close to her as he watched the
now black screen.

Chakotay\’s eyes may have been glued to the set, but his
peripheral vision detected her scrutiny and merely tightened his
grip on her shoulder.

Janeway looked over to Chakotay, eyeing his profile for a
few minutes. Finally, she stood up, extricating herself from his
half-embrace. \”I really have to go. . .\”

Chakotay, no matter whether he realized it or not, reddened
furiously. Janeway smiled wanly, feeling as uncomfortable as he
looked. She patted his shoulder chummishly, and strode out of
the holodeck.

-19-

Paris, Harry, B\’Elanna, and Emily slipped out one by one
into the hall unbeknownst to the commanding officers, Emily
lingering the longest, waiting as long as possible before she
beat her retreat. The four met in the Mess Hall a few minutes
later, regaling Kes with all the details of the set up,
punctuated with gasps (from Kes) and giggles (from Emily).

\”I can\’t believe you used to watch that every week!\” said
Kes, shaking her head.

Emily eloquently shrugged her shoulders. \”Well, it wasn\’t
just watching it on TV – – people wrote TONS of stories about you
guys.\”

\”Whoa – – US???\” gasped Harry.

\”Heck yeah! T/K, D/K, everyone in the senior staff – –
mostly T/K and J/C, though.\”

\”What\’s J/C and T/K stand for?\” inquired Kes innocently.

Emily smiled maliciously. \”Janeway/Chakotay and
Torres/Kim.\”

Paris fell out of his seat, dissolving into peals of
laughter. \”No crap!?!\” he bellowed heartily.

\”I swear – – I even wrote some.\” she said, placing a hand
over her heart.

\”NO WAY!\” said Harry.

Emily nodded vigorously. \”WAY! It\’s a real trip! I could
show you some of the stuff…\”

\”YES!\” snickered Tom. \”I HAVE to read this stuff if it has
Harry and Chakotay in it!\”

\”Hey, I wouldn\’t be so quick, Paris! There\’s plenty of
slash about you.\”

Paris puffed up his chest. \”I am a ladies\’ man.\”

\”Ummm… most of it is SLASH – – as in Paris/Kim and
Paris/Chakotay.\”

Tom\’s eyes bugged out, causing riotous laughter. \”You
little. . .!!\”

But Emily quickly wormed out of the way, hiding behind
B\’Elanna, who was doubled over in laughter. \”Paris…
CHAKOTAY???\” she snickered.

\”Yes?\” a booming voice smiled behind them.

\”AIEE!!\” squealed Emily, jumping a mile.

\”I heard my name. . . is there a problem?\”

\”PROBLEM? PROBLEM? Of COURSE not!! What makes you think
that?? No. . . nothing. . . not a thing. . .\” flubbered Emily,
waving her hands wildly.

Chakotay felt sorry for the poor little girl, obviously
flustered. He might have smiled paternally to put her at ease,
but he was a bit angry at their little trick, and still smarting
from Janeway\’s hasty departure, so he decided to take the
slightly sadistic approach.

Setting his face in a stony line, he said coldly, \”Well, if
that\’s all, I think I\’ll turn in. Good night.\” – – leaving the
little gossipy group agape and wide-eyed.

-20-

Late the next evening, after a day of speeding through an
empty sector of space, Janeway and Chakotay found Emily in the
holodeck, garbed in her grungy clothes which were covered with a
fine dusting of powder, immersed in the delicate carving of a
block of marble.

Emily looked up from her work, smiling dispite the smudge
across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. \”You\’re late.\”

\”Tell me, Cadet, do you ever use your replicator rations on
food?\” asked Janeway with a small smile.

\”Nope. . . after eating school lunches for so long, I\’m
used to disgusting food. Besides, feeding the soul is so much
more fulfilling.\” she grinned.

\”What is this?\” Chakotay said, peering around to inspect
the chiseled surface.

Emily smiled, quickly covering the block with a sheet.
\”It\’s a statue I\’m making for the hydroponics garden. As for the
design. . . it\’s a surprise.\”

Emily turned her back to them, waving them away. \”Go – –
work – – create!\” she mumbled.

Chakotay snickered. \”So THAT\’s what they meant by artistic
temperament.\”

Janeway suppressed a bubble of laughter, trying to finish
her drawing. Emily had desperately tried to teach her noses, but
to no avail. Emily didn\’t get any work on her secret project
that day – – she was constantly being called back for more help.

Finally, Emily threw up her hands. \”I give up! I didn\’t
think I\’d have to do this, but it seems it\’s the only method I
haven\’t tried.\” At her wit\’s end, she picked up a black ink pen,
grabbed Chakotay\’s face and very deliberately drew a circle on
the tip of his nose between the two nostrils, then a long line
from his forehead through the circle. \”If that doesn\’t help,
Captain, I\’m in alot of trouble, so JUST DO IT!\” she sighed,
highly aggravated, stalking back to her own work impatiently.

Janeway looked at Chakotay, two new lines on his face, and
threw her pencil over her shoulder. She shook her head, nearly
falling off her stool in a fit of laughter. Emily turned only
once to glare at the two, clutching their sides in laughter, a
frown on her face but a twinkle in her eyes. She returned to her
work with a new vigor.

-21-

\”I\’m dying to know what that statue is!\” sighed Janeway,
her eyes aglitter as she sketched the outline of the distant
mountain.

Even long after Emily had completed the human features part
of her instruction and moved on to painting the landscape around
them, Chakotay continued to spend his evenings in the holodecks
with the Captain and Cadet Friedman in the art program or with
the other senior officers watching the 20th century television
series that Emily had had sent from her double.

But Emily wasn\’t often in the room with the two senior-most
officers. She was often working on her own in another part of
the program on her secret marble statue, leaving the two alone
for long expanses of time.

By now it was patently apparent to them what Emily and the
others\’ goal was, and was becoming a great joke to watch Paris &
Co. watching them on the Bridge, in the holodeck, etc.
Occasionally they\’d throw them a bone: a stolen glance, a blush,
a head resting on a shoulder, but it was all in good fun – – as
far as they were concerned, it was a totally platonic friendship
with a smidge of innocuous innuendo to throw them off their
backs.

Ever since Emily\’s rather twisted teaching method for
drawing noses was implemented a few weeks before, Janeway and
Chakotay had grown so much closer. . . but not as Emily and the
senior staff had hoped. They were very dear friends who, thanks
to Emily, had learned to laugh together.

They spent alot of free time together, inspiring wild
theories, fueled by \”reports\” from Paris and Emily, who reveled
in what seemed to be their plan\’s fulfillment, and rumors flew
fast and thick on the tiny ship. It didn\’t hurt the speculations
that the droll day-to-day duties of maintaining a starship were
very boring recently – – anything to take the edge off the
incessant, permeating dullness was a welcome change, especially
if it had to do with the senior officers.

And so it was as Janeway and Chakotay sat in the sunny
pavilion of the holodeck, chatting blithely as they felt the
hidden eyes on the two friends, even here.

Perhaps the scene would go on this way, unchanging, until
the very last day of their lives, had not Fate intervened with a
well-chosen phrase and an old Scotch ballad. . . But everything
must change sometime, somehow – – and this close friendship had
reached its turning point on that sunny afternoon.

Chakotay leaned back on the wooden bench, staring at the
wooden easel and canvas that had replaced the long table and
piles of crumpled paper, then smiled chummishly at the multi-
colored woman mixing paints on the canvas with abandon. \”I\’d be
lying if I didn\’t admit to being a little curious about it
myself. . . but we have to be patient. Kes said they\’re going to
unveil in the garden next week. . . but I don\’t think I can wait
that long.\” he snickered.

\”Bide a wee, Chakotay. . . Bide a wee.\” smiled Janeway from
behind her easel. She did not catch the look on his face as he
paled at her words.

\”Where did you get THAT?\” he asked.

\”What? \’Bide a wee\’ is an old Scotch line out of an old
love song,\” she said flippantly, humming a bit under her breath,
not seeing the color change on his face as he listened.

BIDE A WEE

\”The puir auld folk at home, ye mind,
Are frail and failing sair;
And weel I ken they\’d miss me, lad,
Gin I come hame nae mair.
The grist is out, the times are hard,
The kine are only three;
I canna leave the auld folk now.
We\’d better bide a wee.

\”I fear me sair they\’re failing baith;
For when I sit apart,
They talk o\’ Heaven so earnestly,
It wellnigh breaks my heart.
So, laddie, dinna urge me now,
I surely winna be;
I canna leave the auld folk yet,
We\’d better bide a wee.\”

She painted in silence, wondering why Chakotay didn\’t
rejoin her or start a new vein of dialogue. She added a swatch
of color, then laid down her brush and palette. \”What\’s wrong?\”

\”That. . . song.\”

Janeway smiled. \”I didn\’t know I sang THAT bad, Chakotay.\”

\”No. . . it\’s just. . .\”

By this time, Janeway had detected a strange tone she\’d
never heard before, and had come from behind the easel to stand
beside him. \”What?\’ she asked concernedly, placing a hand on his
shoulder.

He looked up. \”A few months ago, I had a very strange
vision. It was very disturbing. My guide didn\’t answer my
question, just sort of. . . changed. . . then disappeared.\”

\”What do you mean, \’changed\’?\”

\”My surroundings turned into a seashore – – like yours – –
and my guide grew green scales right before she said something
cryptic and vanished.\”

Janeway gulped. \”Sca. . . Scales? Like a lizard?\”

Chakotay nodded, not understanding until he saw how very
pale she had become, and how her hands were clasped very tightly
together, until the knuckles were white. The strange vision
became very clear. \”Your guide is. . . ?\”

Janeway nodded. Then her head tilted somewhat. \”You know,
I had a strange vision myself a month or so ago. I didn\’t get to
ask my question – – it just grew fur and vanished before I could
say a word.\”

Now it was Chakotay\’s turn to stare. \”Fur. . . gold fur?\”

Janeway nodded. \”Your guide?\”

\”It would seem so.\”

Janeway sat down on the wooden deck, thinking thoughtfully
for a few moments before looking up again. \”Do your people
believe in Fate?\”

Chakotay smiled. \”I\’m sure even if they didn\’t, they\’d
make an exception in this instance.\”

Janeway smiled, but she was still a bit confused. \”But I
don\’t see how \’bide a wee\’ comes into all this.\”

Chakotay leveled with her, his eyes very dark and his face
very somber. \”Are you sure you want to know?\”

Janeway said, \”Of course.\”

Chakotay looked up for a minute, shook his head, and took
her hand. Janeway looked puzzled until he nodded in Emily\’s
direction, then nodded and followed him down the stairs until
they reached the far point of the lake, at a dock across from
pavilion.

Chakotay looked around, then turned to Janeway. Janeway
looked very hard at Chakotay, the feeling that what he was about
to say was irrevocable. The thought frightened her for a split
second, then she lifted her head. As he had said what seemed an
eternity ago, no matter what happened here, they would overcome
it.

She nodded a little, and Chakotay looked at her, then
turned to the lake, a small smile on his lips. Janeway studied
his profile as he said with great emotion, \”My guide smiled at
me, then said, \’She loves you, Chakotay. Bide a wee.\’\” He
turned back to where she waited expectantly. \”It wasn\’t until I
heard you say that that I knew it was you.\”

Janeway looked up at Chakotay, who looked as if he wanted
to bite his tongue out. Other than that, his face was
unreadable. Finding her voice, she asked softly, \”Are you saying
you\’re in love with me, Chakotay?\”

Chakotay looked at her suddenly, startled. He could deny
it – – say he was only relaying what his foolish guide had
said… but he didn\’t. He looked at Janeway, whom\’s hands had
somehow found their way into his. He smiled warmly at her.

\”Yes.\”

Janeway was silent for what seemed an agonizing eternity in
his mind. Then she looked at him seriously. Suddenly, like a
fog lifting, her eyes beamed, and a slow smile bloomed on her
lips. She wasn\’t angry, wasn\’t repulsed. . . she was full of
pure joy. She pulled her hands away, and wrapped them around his
neck. \”I love you too, Chakotay.\”

She tilted her head up, kissing him softly. He wrapped his
arms around her waist, returning her kiss, a smile crossing his
lips happily.

She pulled away just slightly, her forehead on his chin.
She could feel his smile in her hair, and knew this was meant to
be. It would be an uphill struggle with protocols lashed firmly
to their backs, but she\’d rather traverse this road with him than
any rose-strewn path with anyone else. . . even. . .

\”Mark,\” she cried, a strangled utterance. She pushed from
Chakotay\’s embrace and stared out at the lake, suddenly very
cold. She thought she\’d put him behind her. . . She imagined
getting home – – to Mark – – as she had so many times before, but
now she saw her – – old friend happy to see her alive and well
and in love – – with someone else. She thought very hard,
racking her brain for reason – – logic.

Mark was her lover. . . was. That was the key word – –
\”was.\” Mark was a kindred – – but how could he possibly
understand her now, even if they got home tomorrow? She needed
someone who knew where she was coming from, who understood. She
stared at the lake\’s surface below her until she saw a familiar
figure join her.

She looked up. Chakotay looked at her with a wry smile.
\”I know you are in love with that Mark. . . and I wouldn\’t blame
you one iota if you laughed in my face right now and pledged your
undying affection for Mark.\” He looked up again from his study
of the water. \”But don\’t.\”

Janeway smiled. Chakotay, her dear friend, and Mark, her
lover, had met in the depths of her heart and graciously accepted
the reversal of their roles in her life. She put her hands back
into Chakotay\’s with a gentle squeeze. \”I wasn\’t planning on
it.\”

-21-

The senior staff, along with Cadet Friedman, gathered in
the hydroponics garden a week later to unveil the first piece of
statuary by Cdt. Emily Friedman.

Janeway clutched Chakotay\’s hand in excitement. \”I thought
this day would never come!\” she whispered.

\”Knowing Emily, I have no doubt it will be interesting.\”
smiled Chakotay.

A loud *ahem* from Emily got the assembled group\’s
attention. \”Thank you all for coming. I\’d like to thank Kes for
allowing me to display this piece in the garden, as well as
Neelix for making the food digestible while I save up my rations
for the raw materials. And a very special thanks to my mentors,
Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay, to whom this is humbly
dedicated. So, without further brown-nosing…\” she said,
yanking off the loose fabric to reveal…

\”The senior staff!\” murmured Janeway, walking closer to get
a better look.

It was truly a masterpiece: the Captain and Commander
amidst the visages of the senior staff. Emily smiled.
\”Recognize it?\” she snickered.

Realization dawned in Janeway\’s features. \”The picture Kes
took! How clever!\” she grinned.

\”Look at the base,\” she smiled.

Janeway looked. At the bottom was painstakingly carved,
\”No matter what happens, we\’ll make it. Remember that.\” and the
artist\’s name in very small marks. Janeway looked up from where
she crouched. \”It\’s lovely, Emily… lovely.\”

Emily pulled her up, pointing out a minuscule object in the
Janeway-statue\’s hand. Janeway squinted as she saw the tiny
creature. Her eyes widened. \”A…\”

Emily shushed her. \”You know better than I do that you
can\’t NAME your animal guide – – sacrilegious and all. Only you,
me, and Commander Chakotay know about it. You can\’t see it
unless you\’re looking for it.\”

Janeway smiled. \”Thank you.\”

Emily grinned. \”Only a little gesture for my \’godparents\’
\” She looked beyond Janeway, turning the older woman and
practically shoving her with a laughing, \”Now you two go have
fun. It\’s way past my bedtime.\” She dusted her hands, and
herded the rest of the officers out, leaving the two alone. Only
Paris and Emily lingered just long enough to see them turn
towards each other and meet before the statue as the doors slid
closed, their own hands meeting in a high-five as they
congratulated themselves on a job well done.

************************************************************
PART THREE: Never Underestimate.
************************************************************

-1-

All was calm aboard the Starship Voyager a few weeks after
Emily\’s statue was unveiled in hydroponics garden, where the
young cadet now sat, immersed in what was obviously a well-read
book after her arduous daily studies with Tuvok. It was very
silent in the garden that evening, as she was the only person in
the huge room.

A few minutes later, the garden doors slid open and a firm,
quick step echoed in the room. Emily lifted her head briefly,
then shrugged casually and resumed her reading.

As Chakotay made his way through the maze of tall planting
containers overgrown with vegetation, searching for the small
sample of herbs Kes had told him were growing in a small corner
of the hydroponics bay.

He didn\’t see Emily\’s feet jutting out from behind the huge
statue until it was too late. Luckily he grabbed one of the tall
metal poles that held the planting trays up and regained his
balance before he crashed into the floor. He shook his head as
he heard the familiar peal of laughter echo from the hidden nook
just behind him. The laughter died down to a snicker after
several minutes, then a small sigh as the feet retreated and
silence reigned again.

That got Chakotay\’s attention. Emily was always smiling a
little, or outright laughing – – she just had an air about her
that radiated pure joy – – partially acquired from Kathryn during
the accident, but mostly from her own natural exuberance. She
was also rather like Tom Paris in a way: she would rub in a joke
for all it was worth. She never just stopped laughing without
some sly rib – – it was just not in her nature.

In fact, as he thought about it, she had been rather quiet
for a few weeks. He walked around to the back of the statue and
found Emily cross-legged, buried in a very old-looking book. Her
full lips were pulled very thin in concentration, her wild hair
pulled back in the two small braids that flanked her head and
joined with a small knot at the back of her head, giving her
features a distinctly Janeway look, dispite the rich coloring of
her complexion and the sharpness of her nose. After a moment,
she noticed someone was looking down at her and looked up very
slowly, another alien movement to her.

\”Yes, sir?\” she asked politely, placing a strip of thin
leather between the leaves of her book and putting it beside her
quietly, almost reverently.

Chakotay smiled at the girl who stared solemnly up at him
with soft blue eyes. \”What\’s up, Lea?\”

\”Nothing, sir. Is Lieutenant Tuvok upset with me, sir?\”
she inquired.

\”No… not that I know of – – yet,\” he grinned.

Emily smiled a little, but quickly sobered. \”Then what,
sir?\”

\”You just seemed a little… quiet lately.\”

Emily cocked her head and looked straight up at him. \”\’Tis
better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your
mouth and remove all doubt.\”

\”That\’s never been your philosophy before.\”

Emily narrowed her eyes defensively, the blue of her iris
consumed by the dark chocolate brown on their edges and the
blackness of her pupils. Her voice deepened with a defensive
note in it. \”Just because I get a little hyper sometimes means
I\’m not allowed to be quiet sometimes?\” she glowered.

\”I\’m not saying that…\”

Something deep inside her snapped, so she said brusquely,
\”Then what are you saying, Commander? Because frankly I don\’t
see any point to this entire conversation.\” She picked up her
book from beside her and stood up, nearly knocking her head
against the marble statue. She strode past Chakotay, then turned
back and added, \”If you find a reason to continue this
conversation… don\’t bother.\” And then she left, muttering,
\”Osombre!\” under her breath.

Chakotay stared, then shook his head and returned to his
search of those damned herbs…

-2-

\”What is it, Chakotay?\”

Chakotay started from his reverie, finding Janeway looking
up at him worriedly as she palmed her cue from hand to hand. He
smiled briefly, glad for the millionth time that day that he had
the good fortune to have fallen for such an amazing woman like
Janeway who cared about him so utterly.

He sighed, placing the cue he had been gripping tightly on
the table and running his hands through his hair. \”It\’s Lea,
Kathryn: she\’s acting very strangely. An hour ago I found her in
the hydroponics garden reading behind the statue. I asked her
what was wrong, but she looked at me as if I was the lowest
lifeform in the universe, snapped at me, and then stalked out of
garden.\”

Janeway smiled. \”You of all people should know about
teenager\’s attitudes, Chakotay. She\’s fourteen – – of course
she\’s going to act like this sometimes, and all we can do is stay
out of the way when she does.\”

Chakotay groaned. She was almost fifteen… which wasn\’t
very heartening. He felt a new-found sympathy and awe at his own
father\’s nearly infinite patience with him at that age. And
instead of being grateful, he\’d turned his back on him and left
the tribe for Starfleet. He shook his head. \”I\’ll be damned if
she turns out like me, Kathryn.\” he said.

Janeway put her hand on his tense arm. \”Oh, I don\’t know
that I\’d hate a little super-composed version of you around the
ship,\” she smiled. \”Just be patient and don\’t worry so much…
she\’ll snap out of it eventually. Maybe I\’ll go talk to her.\”

\”Maybe she\’ll listen to you… you are her heroine.\” he
grinned wanly.

\”I am?\” she said.

Chakotay nodded. \”Before she hated my guts she did tell me
how she always looked up to you and was inspired by you. I can\’t
say I disagree with her.\” he smiled.

Janeway smiled back, kissing him on the cheek. \”I think
I\’ll talk to her now.\”

-3-

How quickly art the mighty fallen in the eyes of those who
worship them! Janeway found Emily in her quarters, the same book
in her lap and the same diligent look on her face. When she saw
Janeway, her reaction wasn\’t as violent, just horribly distant.
\”Yes, ma\’am?\”

Janeway didn\’t think it wise to remind her she hated to be
called \”ma\’am\” just then, so she just laid her hand on the young
girl\’s arm and asked, \”Chakotay\’s worried about you. What\’s
wrong?\”

Emily angrily ran her hands through her hair and groaned
loudly. \”Why does everyone think something\’s wrong with me??
Boy, maybe if I was jumping around beating the hell out of
someone I\’d seem normal – – Is that it??\”

Janeway looked puzzled. \”You\’ve just been quieter than
normal…\”

\”Oh, so since you know me all of ten months you now know
everything there is to know about me… Well, Captain, for once,
you\’re wrong. I happen to be quiet sometimes… if that\’s a
problem, then…\” Emily, briefly coming back to her senses, now
realized if she said any more she could be in serious trouble, so
she quickly clamped her mouth shut.

She blushed furiously, clutching he sides of her book,
tears welling up her eyes, catching the faint dark brown streaks
near her huge pupils. \”I\’m sorry, Captain, I…\”

Sitting beside her, Janeway impulsively hugged the poor
girl, which, considering she was a teenager, was taken rather
well by the young woman. \”It\’s all right, Emily, I understand.
But you shouldn\’t be so hard on me and Commander Chakotay… we
really have your best interest in mind.\”

Emily snuffed loudly, nodding. \”I guess it\’s because of
how he was at fifteen, right?\”

Janeway would have been shocked at her knowledge a few
months before, but she\’d watched enough of Emily\’s TV
transmissions to know the extent of her Voyager knowledge. She
smiled. \”He said he didn\’t want you to end up like him. I think
that\’s one of his greatest fears – – especially since you\’re like
a daughter to him. You\’re a part of him.\”

Emily looked up again, a wan smile on her lips quirking the
dimples near her mouth into existence. \”Really?\”

Janeway ruffled the girl\’s dark brown-red hair. \”Really.\”

Emily frowned a little, her brows knitting as she thought
hard. She looked up again. \”Do you think of me like a daughter,
Captain?\”

Janeway smiled warmly as reflected a little. Since the
transporter accident that had put part of her and Chakotay into
the teenager, she\’d felt a special bond with Emily, as well as
her other surrogate \”parent\”. \”Of course.\”

Emily grinned. \”That means a lot, Captain. I\’ll go talk
to the Commander right now.\”

Janeway patted her arm, noticing the heavy book the girl
was clutching. \”What are you reading?\”

Emily smiled a little. \”\’A Midsummer Night\’s Dream\’… we
had finished reading it in English right before… the accident.\”

\”You\’re homesick.\” nodded Janeway.

\”I guess so. You see, my school was going to put on \’A
Midsummer Night\’s Dream\’ the next week. I was really looking
forward to it – – I love the play.\” She stood up, placing the
book on a narrow shelf, smiling at Janeway. \”I guess I should go
apologize to the Commander. See you later, Captain.\”

Janeway smiled with a small shake of her head as the door
slid closed again, an idea dawning as she stared at the heavy
tome.

-4-

A timid beep startled Chakotay as he sat in his office.
\”Come.\”

He looked up again after a few minutes when he didn\’t hear
a voice or a step into the room. A familiar figure in a dark,
high-collared purple dress stood in the doorway, frozen, the fear
of God in her eyes. He grinned. \”\’Come\’ usually means into the
room, Cadet.\”

\”Yessir.\” she said apologetically, stepping into the room
with a teeny half-step, just enough so that the door slid closed,
making her jump.

\”Is there a problem, Cadet?\”

She gulped quickly. \”Umm… I just came to apologize for
my behavior, sir.\”

Chakotay grinned. \”No problem, Cadet.\”

Emily tried to return his easy grin, failing miserably. \”I
guess I\’ll go now, sir.\”

\”Wait just a second there.\”

Emily turned like a deer caught in headlights. Her eyes
widened, the now brown-black braid encircling her head trembling
ever so slightly. \”Yes sir?\”

\”You still haven\’t explained yourself, young lady.\”

Emily really grinned this time, then frowned a little.
\”Now you sound like my dad. YOU didn\’t explain why YOU\’RE on my
case to be perfect little angel, either – – why? If it\’s because
you don\’t want me to end up like you when I turn fifteen, that\’s
a crock and a half, because I\’m not you and even if I was that
wouldn\’t be a horrendous crime anyway… If it\’s because you
still want to impress Janeway, that\’s a bunch of crap too – – you
couldn\’t possibly impress her any more than you already have.\”

Emily exhaled quickly, raking her hand through her hair
frustratingly, her eyes blazing and her mouth in a thin, tight,
very familiar line. She sunk into a seat, elbows on her knees,
ankles crossed, staring straight at him frankly.

Chakotay put down his PADD and stared straight back at her,
but his words were a bit softer and he used his nickname for her
instead of \”Cadet\” : \”I don\’t mean to be hard on you, Lea, it\’s
just that…\”

Emily nodded, her head swiveling in her hands. \”I know – –
when you were fifteen, and I\’m almost fifteen. But since MY
dad\’s been dead for over four hundred years, I don\’t think I\’ll
be pissing him off anytime soon.\”

Chakotay scowled briefly, then grinned. He placed a hand
on her shoulder. \”You have a father… so you\’d better watch
your back.\”

Emily looked up, grinning. \”Yes sir!\” She turned to
leave, but Chakotay caught her again.

\”One more thing.\”

\”Yes?\”

\”What does \’osombre\’ mean?\”

Emily smiled, a trifle embarrassed. \”\’Oso\’ means \’bear\’ in
Spanish, and \’hombre\’ means \’man\’. Roughly translated, the two
together mean \’man-bear\’\”

Chakotay shook his head. \”My fault for asking.\”

Emily grinned again and left with a lighter heart.

– – But the deep circles remained under her eyes and the
impenetrable fog she walked in would not dissipate.

-5-

A week later, Janeway walked into the holodeck, where Tom
and Chakotay were in the middle of a relaxed game of pool, Harry
and B\’Elanna were in the shadowy corner set up especially for
them, and Kes watched Tuvok and the Doctor, deep in a game of
chess at another table near the bar.

She headed over to where Chakotay lined up a complex shot,
his back to her. Paris noticed her, nodding slightly in
greeting, but Chakotay was oblivious. He pulled his cue back,
but a hand caressed his back and neck, sending his shot wildly
askew. \”Damn!\” he yelled, slamming his cue to the table. He
turned around to see who had committed the unthinkable, his eyes
smiling as they met Janeway\’s laughing blue ones.

Paris looked away as the two embraced, as if the pool table
was the most fascinating thing in the world. It was a trait he\’d
gotten a chance to practice and ultimately perfect as of late.
He was overjoyed with the match, as was the rest of the crew, but
sometimes it was a wee bit depressing to him to see all these
happy couples surrounding him.

Finally, they parted, their foreheads touching as Janeway
traced his grin lovingly with a finger. She smiled happily, her
eyes beaming with the sparkle of a new idea. \”I have an idea!\”
she grinned, now gesturing to the entire room.

\”What?\” chorused seven voices.

Janeway, arm still wrapped around Chakotay\’s neck, smiled.
\”I\’ve figured out how to get Emily\’s spirits up again!\” she said
triumphantly.

\”What?\” the chorus rechanted.

Janeway extricated herself from Chakotay\’s embrace and
turned to face the assembled company. Even Harry and B\’Elanna
had edged from the woodwork to hear Janeway\’s idea.

\”She\’s horribly homesick lately – – she wanted to be in a
play that was put on shortly after she left. And I thought if
we…\”

\”Put on the play instead she\’d brighten up a bit?
Wonderful idea, Captain… but is it feasible?\” asked Paris.

\”It\’s \’A Midsummer Night\’s Dream\’ – – there aren\’t that
many parts, and we have audience enough for several performances.
We can program the holodeck for a stage, and cast ourselves and a
few subordinates in the roles.\” Janeway\’s eyes glittered.

\”I think it\’s a great idea!\” cried Harry. \”Let\’s take a
vote! I\’m in.\”

B\’Elanna paled a trifle, but nodded her head in assent.
\”I\’m not much of an actress, but I\’m in.\”

\”Me too,\” grinned Tom devilishly.

\”It\’s sounds wonderful! I\’m sure Neelix would do it too!\”
beamed Kes, so of course the Doctor readily agreed.

\”I\’m game,\” said Chakotay, trying not to be betray his
eagerness to see Kathryn out of uniform.

\”That\’s everyone, except…\” everyone turned to look at
Tuvok, who stood, shaking his head vehemently.

Janeway crossed over to him. \”Tuvok, you MUST join in!\”

Tuvok sighed. \”If you wish, Captain.\”

Janeway beamed. \”I\’ll go tell Emily. Tom, you start on a
suitable program to rehearse in. I\’ll send copies of the play to
each of your PADDS – – we\’ll meet at 2230 tomorrow night.\”

-6-

\”You\’re doing WHAT?!?\”

Emily slapped her book shut violently and stared at
Janeway. \”You\’re putting on \’A Midsummer Night\’s Dream\’ – – for
me?\”

\”Well, yes. I thought you\’d be excited. Even Tuvok is
going to act in it.\”

\”I\’m touched – – really. I\’m just – – surprised. Have you
decided on parts?\”

\”Not yet. I thought you might like to figure that out.\”

\”You as Titania, Chakotay as Obereon, B\’Elanna and Harry as
Lysander and Hermia… I suppose Tuvok could play Egeus…
Definitely Tom as Nick Bottom.\”

Janeway was secretly horrified about pandering to Tom in an
ass\’ head, but she stifled that nauseating thought and asked,
\”What about yourself?\”

Emily blushed. \”The only part left is Puck.\”

Janeway arched an eyebrow, reflected on the play again, and
laughed out loud. \”Of course! The little devil in the midst of
all the madness!\”

She perked up immediately, grinning devilishly as a new
thought struck her. \”Can Chakotay play a fairy King?\” she
snickered.

Janeway smiled a little. \”I\’m sure Chakotay can do
anything he sets his mind to.\”

Emily nudged her a little. \”Now don\’t you start! I get
enough from Harry singing B\’Elanna\’s praises morning, noon, and
night – – then it was Chakotay, and now you… yeesheth!\”

Janeway smiled again. \”Getting into Shakespeare mode?\”

Emily groaned. \”Maybe be I should play Titania,\” she
grinned evilly.

\”Not a chance!\”

They dissolved into laughter, unheeding the beep and swish
of the door. A booming voice cut through the peals of laughter.
\”What\’s so funny?\”

Janeway looked up, Emily still rolling on the floor, face
beet-red from laughter. She stood up. \”Why nothing, O mighty
Obereon,\” she smirked.

Emily looked up, pure deviltry in her face. \”How doth it
feel to have thy Queen fall for yon Fool by name of Paris?\” she
said hysterically.

Janeway looked at Chakotay with a pained face. \”The sole
detraction.\”

\”Just make sure you don\’t fall for him for real,\” he
grinned.

Janeway turned from him, deciding to goad him deliberately.
\”He IS rather good-looking, don\’t you think, Emily?\”

Emily, who had been watching the little repartee with great
interest, added, \”Why YES… Captain – – you\’d look simply divine
together!\”

Chakotay decided to shut up their teasing once and for all.
He whirled Janeway around, kissing her passionately. Emily\’s
mouth dropped, and Janeway just wrapped her arms around him,
letting him consume all of the air in her lungs. He pulled away
suddenly, smirking, \”Let\’s see Paris do THAT, Kathryn.\”

Then they remembered they had an audience. They turned to
a very calm Emily, smiling sardonically in their direction.
\”Brava, Brava, encore, encore – – next time why don\’t you just do
it on the Bridge? Now… out of my quarters – – there are better
places than an underage Cadet\’s rooms for that sort of thing.\”

-7-

A week later, Emily, Tom, and Janeway were deep in
rehearsal, though they got absolutely nowhere, Janeway constantly
screwing up whenever she had to gaze adoringly at Tom in a
donkey\’s head. \”I can\’t DO this!!\” she snickered, nearly
collapsing in a fit of laughter.

Tom pulled off the donkey head and glared at Janeway.
\”It\’s not THAT funny, Captain.\” he glowered.

\”Yes it is!!\” giggled Emily, nearly falling off the large
rock where she perched.

Tom groaned, but soon brightened and joined the chorus of
merry voices.

A beep broke through the room, and Harry\’s voice rang
through the holodeck. \”Bridge to Janeway. We\’re reading another
large displacement of electricity in the transporter room.\”

Janeway turned to the now mute girl who stood, her knuckled
clenching her lyre in a very un-Puckish manner. \”I thought we
had built a barrier for this!\” Emily hissed fearfully.

Harry agreed over the comm. \”We did, but that last fight
with the Kazon a few weeks ago must have knocked it off-line. No
one thought to check it.\”

Janeway put a hand to her temple. She sighed. \”Let it
transport, Mr. Kim – – that\’s all we can do for now. But I want
you to add checking that surge protector as a top priority after
any and all damage to ship\’s functions from here on out. Janeway
out.\”

Janeway nodded to the dumbstruck teenager. \”Well, Cadet,
since you\’re the unofficial representative of the 20th century,
will you join me in the transporter room?\”

\”Yes ma\’am – – should I change?\” she said, eyeing her gauzy
gown warily.

\”We don\’t have time. C\’mon.\”

-8-

Emily approached the transporter room with dread. When she
could get a view of the platform, she gasped in shock. The
person wasn\’t on the ground – – he was standing, looking around a
trifle dazedly. She smiled a little, then remembered all the fun
they\’d had when she had last seen him almost a year ago – – or
rather, 400 plus years ago.

\”Nathan?\” she whispered in disbelief, then crimsoned when
everyone, including the boy, turned to stare at her.

\”You know this boy?\” Janeway asked gently.

Emily nodded. \”I think so.\”

The boy continued to stare, even as Janeway eyed him. He
was definitely not a private school student – – he wore the jeans
and a dark t-shirt similar to what Emily favored when off-duty.
His hair was dark and long: it hung to his chin, curling ever so
slightly. His face was tan and slightly oval, with deep-set wide
dark brown eyes. In a strange way he reminded her of Chakotay,
but it was more of an indefinable inner quality than his looks.

Nathan in turn stared around at his surroundings.

They stared at each other in silence for several moments,
then the boy cleared his throat and asked, \”Emily?\”

Emily nodded, still in shock. He was taller, his deep
voice a bit deeper. She looked down at her dress and realized
she\’d changed a bit in the last four hundred years or so as well.
\”Is it really you?\”

Janeway hustled the ensign at the console out, nodding to
Emily as she left them in the room alone.

\”Nathan…\” Emily said, the concept of his presence
gradually taking hold.

\”Where am I, Em? What happened?\” He ran his hand through
his hair, sitting down on the platform and looking up
quizzically.

Emily smiled wanly. \”It\’s a long story… Suffice to
say… you\’re in the 24th century.\”

\”WHAT?\” he said, leaping up again.

Emily nodded violently. \”Ever watch \’Star Trek: Voyager\’?\”
she smirked.

\”No way… it isn\’t possible… Star Trek is just a TV
show, Em… seriously! I just talked to you a few days ago!\”

Emily groaned. This wasn\’t going to be easy. \”I didn\’t
quite believe it myself at first… but you get used to it. When
my modem blew a fuse, a double of myself was brought here, with a
mental link to my twin – – the Emily you know – – back on Earth
in the 20th century. Now I\’m a Cadet here. I don\’t know what
really happened in your case, but I have no doubt it was
something similar.\”

Nathan shook his head. Emily chorused his silent gesture,
murmuring, \”Of all the people…\”

\”What?\”

Emily blushed. \”Out of billions of people on Earth, YOU,
one of the weirdest people at our old school, gets pulled into
the Utopian society of the 24th century. But it\’s nice to see an
old friend, Nat.\” She shook her head, and pulled him out of the
transporter room. \”I\’ll take you to the Bridge. You might want
to meet Commander Chakotay.\”

\”WHO?\”

-9-

Janeway sighed a little as she took her seat on the Bridge.
Chakotay leaned over with a glint of worry in his eyes. \”What\’s
wrong?\”

\”The 20th century person we beamed aboard was a… friend
of Emily\’s.\”

\”That\’s good.\”

\”It\’s wonderful for her to have one of her friends around.
He seems very nice.\”

Chakotay arched an eyebrow. \”HE?\”

Janeway crossed her arms defensively. \”It\’s a young
male… dark hair and eyes… what about it?\”

Chakotay grinned evilly. \”It could be an old boyfriend.\”

\”She\’s only fourteen!\”

Chakotay looked at her. He leaned over closer, whispering,
\”Come ON, Kathryn… you don\’t mean to tell me you didn\’t have a
steady boyfriend by the time you were fourteen?\”

Janeway blushed, retorting, \”I suppose you had a dozen by
twelve.\”

Chakotay grinned again. \”It\’s possible.\”

Janeway was about to shoot another rejoiner when the
turbolift doors slid open, revealing Emily and a tallish boy in
very 20th century attire. Chakotay turned, his eyes widening.
Sharpen the features, cut the hair, add a few more wiry muscles
and you had Chakotay at fifteen, complete with the general air of
contempt for tradition and plus an aura of up-yours similar to
the Tom Parises of the world.

He stiffened. He did not like himself very much at
fifteen, he did not like Tom Paris, and the same went for this
smart-ass piece of work. He grinned as he thought of Lea\’s
words: \”If it\’s because you don\’t want me to end up like you at
fifteen…\” He grinned unconsciously. *No… just don\’t want
you going out with boys who are like me at fifteen, young lady.*

Emily spoke up, interrupting Chakotay\’s internal speech.
\”Captain, Commander, this is Nathan Harrington of 20th century
Earth, Houston, Texas.\”

Janeway smiled warmly. The boy returned the smile a trifle
uneasily, which made Chakotay a little more inclined to like
him… but not much. \”Welcome, Nathan.\”

\”Thank you, Captain… though I\’m still rather shaky on
where HERE is.\” he said with an easy, Parisian grin.

Janeway smiled maternally, handing Emily a PADD. \”Cadet
Friedman will brief you on our situation and show you to your
quarters. I assure you we\’re doing everything we can to get you
back.\”

\”Yes, ma\’am.\”

Janeway smiled. \”Just one thing.\”

\”Yes?\”

\”I hate being called \’ma\’am\’. \’Captain\’ will do.\”

\”Of course.\”

He had to give him one thing… he was polite, not a trace
of rudeness – – but the similarity to himself and Tom was
grating. He nodded curtly, and Emily led him off the Bridge.

Chakotay immediately leaned over to Janeway. \”Are you sure
that was wise?\”

\”What?\”

\”Letting Lea show him his quarters.\”

Janeway sighed. \”Honestly, Chakotay, you are positively
pessimistic today! You know as well as I Emily would never even
dream of…\”

Chakotay nodded. \”You\’re right… but she is my \’little
Lea\’\” he smiled. He\’d started calling her Lea (pronounced \”lee\”)
almost as soon as he\’d met her; it just sort of came up… it was
a hell of a lot better than \”Cadet Friedman\” when she was
practically his daughter – – a hell of a lot more so than that
little… he shook the thought from his head. It was useless to
think of a child, as yet unborn, that may or may not be his.

Tom broke the tension with a cheery, \”I like him!\” – –
which did not bode well for the young Harrington\’s
accquaintanceship with Chakotay.

-10-

Emily slumped against the side of the lift. She looked at
the PADD in her hand. \”According to this, your quarters are on
Deck 4.\” A grumble in her stomach raged against that. She
looked up. \”Are you hungry? I just realized I haven\’t eaten in
hours.\”

Nathan nodded. \”Famished.\”

\”Good… to digest Neelix\’s food you have to be desperate
for SOMETHING. I\’d offer my replicator rations, but I spent them
all on the statue and had a week\’s worth revoked for punching
Chakotay.\”

\”Why does that not surprise me?\” smiled Nathan
irritatingly.

Emily\’s eyes narrowed. \”Get it through your skull RIGHT
NOW that I am not the person you knew four hundred years ago.
Partially because of my DNA replacement and partially because
I\’ve grown spiritually since you last bothered to talk to me. I
punched Chakotay by accident.\”

Nathan\’s eyes widened, but he nodded. \”You said this was a
utopian society…\”

\”It is: no drugs, no crime, no war, no plagues – – but the
occasional accidental beating is not uncommon.\” she grinned.

The lift doors slid open, revealing a long corridor. Emily
pulled him along with a trace of her old gung-ho attitude, toward
a loud, cheerful place full of people.

Nathan looked around, confused. \”Where are we?\”

Emily smiled. \”The Mess Hall. If you hold your nose while
you\’re eating Neelix\’s food, you can barely taste it.\”

Nathan groaned. \”I feel better already.\”

She gestured toward a line of crewmen, where a funny
looking alien handed them steaming bowls of green-grey glop.
Emily smiled. \”Hey, Neelix. I\’d like you to meet my friend from
the 20th century, Nathan Harrington.\”

Neelix smiled. \”Hello, Mr. Harrington. Care for some
Shfran bjork?\”

Nathan looked at Emily with a pained look. Feeling pity
for the poor guy, she quickly shook her head. \”He\’s not used to
your culinary expertise… can you make something a trifle less
exotic?\”

Neelix looked injured, but said, \”I suppose I could whip up
something. Which of your 20th century recipes shoul I whip up?\”

Emily looked at him, but he just shrugged. \”Ummm… just a
peanut butter sandwich… one for him, too.\”

Grumbling, he nodded and waved them off, turning to a new
batch of victims. She rolled her eyes to him, smiling, leading
him to a nearby table, where Tom and Harry sat, eyeing the
newcomer with great interest.

She slipped into a seat opposite Tom, and Nathan
reluctantly followed, sitting opposite a very curious Harry. Tom
leaned over to whisper, \”So – – how do you know this new kid, Em?
Beam a new boyfriend from the past?\”

Emily glared. \”This is Nathan Harrington… here totally
by accident. HARRY\” she glared in his direction, \”didn\’t bother
to check on the status of barriers to prevent such a surge.\”

\”Now, now, Em… don\’t blame Harr.\” smirked Paris,
determined to get to the bottom of why Em was so uncomfortable
with having this person from her past here.

Neelix brought over their sandwiches, Emily accepting hers
in stony silence, barely picking at it. \”No good without
Doritos.\” she growled.

Tom took this opportunity to rib her a little. \”You\’re
beginning to sound like your old man, Emma.\”

Emily stood up jerkily, nearly knocking over the table.
She put her face very close to Tom\’s and suddenly smiled, \”Thank
you.\” before whirling around, stalking out of the room.

Harry looked at the snickering boy, saying sheepishly,
\”Here, she left her PADD – – I\’ll take you to your quarters.\”

-11-

Harry led the boy to his quarters: similar to Emily\’s in
size and darkness. Hers were made cozy by knickknacks and
pictures, however: these rooms were just drab and uninspiring.
He had the sudden urge to write a very depressing poem, but there
was nothing to write with. He sat in a chair, staring out into
space. He was millions of miles and hundreds of years from his
home. Emily seemed to have adapted – – but then again, she was a
Trekker, as well as extremely smart – – she could hold her own
with all these adults – – He wondered why that blonde guy said
she sounded like her \”old man\” – – was her father brought here
too?

He thought for a long time, when a beep brought him out of
his haze. He didn\’t know what to do until he heard a muffled
voice saying: \”Say \’come\’.\”

\”Come.\”

The door slid open, revealing Emily, now in a uniform and
carrying a bundle of something. She put it on a nearby table,
blushing. \”I\’m sorry I acted like a jerk earlier… I brought
you a PADD and some clothes. I thought you might want to
write… If you want, I can take you to the holodeck later.\”

Nathan looked at the PADD. \”Is this the PADD?\”

Emily nodded. \”Here\’s how it works.\” she said, handing him
a stylus to write with on the PADD\’s surface. She looked up.
\”I\’m sorry… I have to go… Tuvok doesn\’t like me to be late.\”
she handed him a comm badge. \”Here, if you need me, just tap
this and I\’ll come.\”

Nathan took the PADD and watched her leave. Then he
returned to his perch on the wide window ledge and stared back
into the endless night of space.

-12-

She returned a few hours later, dressed in a dark blue
dress and a pale blue shift underneath. Her hair, redder and yet
darker than he remembered, was pulled back in a braid and she
held a PADD in one hand. \”I reserved space in the holodeck if
you want to join me.\”

\”Sure.\” Not much else to do here… but she evidently
loved it here, even though everyone was older than her here and
she had to work very hard.

They met up with Chakotay as he left his own quarters.
\”Hey, Lea.\” he smiled.

Emily hugged him in greeting. \”Hey yourself, Chakotay. We
were just going to the holodeck… want to join us?\”

\”No thanks… I have to go to the Bridge… Harry thinks
he\’s found something.\”

\”OK – – later then.\”

They rode the lift together, Emily and Chakotay having a
animated conversation, Nathan watching in silence – – he couldn\’t
just TALK to this guy who looked for all the world like he could
snap him in two. The lift doors opened, and the two teenagers
stepped out. Chakotay caught the boy by the arm, pulling him
back as the lift doors closed. He looked squarely into the boy\’s
large brown eyes and growled, \”I don\’t like you or your
attitude… You upset her and I\’ll make you sorry you ever set
foot on this ship.\” Then he pushed him back sharply, saying,
\”Computer, open lift doors.\”

Nathan rubbed his arm as they walked down the corridor.
\”He\’s got something against me, Em.\”

\”What makes you think that, Nat?\”

\”Oh I don\’t know – – maybe because he just said, \’I don\’t
like you or your attitude.\’ – – call it a hunch.\”

\”You don\’t have an attitude…\” Emily turned to look at
the bruise darkening on Nathan\’s arm. \”Did he…?\”

Nathan nodded, and Emily glowered, but they had already
arrived at Holodeck 2. With a hint of tightness in her voice,
Emily ordered, \”Computer, activate program Friedman Beta Seven.\”

The doors slid open, revealing an extraordinary panoramic
view of a peaceful seashore. James\’s eyes bulged, and he asked,
\”Where is this?\”

\”Galveston Bay – – in 2369. Looks a lot better, don\’t you
think?\”

\”No kidding – – who\’d a thought that such a grey and dreary
place could become – – THIS…\”

\”That\’s what I thought when Paris first showed this to me.
I took the existing program and altered it for my own use.
Pretty good for a beginner.\”

\”Wow.\”

\”Wait till you see this…\” With this, she led him to a
flat-roofed little house overgrown with flowers. A small ladder
leaned against the side, and Emily nimbly crawled up, gesturing
for him to follow.

They watched the peaceful scene for long moment, then she
turned to Nathan and said, \”How is everyone back home – – Emily
doesn\’t see much of anyone either.\”

\”Most of us are doing great – – we\’d like to see more of
you, though. You just kind of disappeared after you left
Johnston.\”

Emily sighed. \”I know – – I was trying to escape you
guys.\”

Nathan sounded genuinely hurt and astonished. \”Why?\”

\”You guys treated me like crap – – it was a very depressing
environment. At SAA – – and now here – – I have people who care
about me, no matter what. I don\’t have to put on a mask – – like
I did with you guys – – except maybe Jess.\”

Nathan looked over. \”It wasn\’t just Jess – – a lot of us
weren\’t phony, Em – – I liked you.\”

\”Really?\”

\”Sure – – you were really great – – remember all those gym
classes we missed in drama together? Or Algebra and that air-
head teacher? Or Mrs. Kretzer – – you were her favorite – – \”
he grinned. \”We all had to put on an act there, Em – – but that
didn\’t mean we didn\’t genuinely like you.\”

Emily returned his grin, and smiled, \”I understand… sort
of. I still don\’t understand why Chakotay has a thing against
you, though.\”

-13-

Chakotay, searching for his little \”daughter\” later that
night, found her still in the holodeck, but a starkly different
program running – – one that could only have been designed by
her. It wasn\’t much – – yet – – but the intricacy and care was
evident, even though the street only showed three houses: a brick
work house, with another smaller brick house next to it, and the
piece de resistance, a comparatively massive stucco house that
stood across the street, flanked by shrubbery and flowers planted
with great care, as well as two relatively young trees with the
beginnings of new growth on the tips of their delicate branches.
An ancient car, shiny and granite blue, was parked in the
driveway. The great detail and loving care in which it was
programmed led Chakotay to assume this was Emily\’s old home.

A shadow of movement flickered in a dormer high above him
as he opened one of the double doors, a wood and glass affair,
stepping inside , instinctively lifting his head at the sound of
a throaty purr as four silent feet padded down the staircase. The
cat, a stocky mass of blue-grey fur that rumbled like a motor as
it looked up at Chakotay with uncanny blue-green eyes. As if to
lead him somewhere, she turned and bounded up the first few
stairs, then waited patiently for him to follow.

She guided him up a flight of stairs carpeted with plush,
dark green material, then down a bright airy hallway to a white
door that hung slightly ajar. The room was most definitely a
teenage girl\’s, and judging from the still form that lay across
the neatly-made bed, a book dropping lazily from one light brown
hand and the other falling limply across her midsection, it was
Emily\’s. He stepped in quietly, afraid of intruding on her well-
deserved respite, eyeing the strange and curious knickknacks that
had been so carefully recreated.

The bed stretched across the far wall, where three huge
windows let in light and a view of a small blossoming garden and
a huge pecan tree just beginning to green. The near wall that
intersected it was flanked with two white dressers and two tall
white bookcases, crammed with as many curios as books. He edged
nearer, grinning as he saw the piles of CDs and tapes, the long
length of Voyager video tapes carefully labeled and lined up near
a pile of clay figurines lovingly hand-crafted by the room\’s
owner. A model, obviously the first attempt at the art, of the
Voyager stood next to an autographed picture of some man he did
not recognize.

The next book case was crammed full of mysteries and more
figurines, until he came to the top shelf, where he grinned
widely. It was shoved full of little hints of Voyager : a
magazine with Janeway\’s face, three Voyager books, and two small
plastic figurines in crimson and black : one with blue eyes,
brown hair and four pips, the other with dark eyes and hair, and
a very familiar tattoo. They stood before a stack of colorful
postcards and another autographed picture, of a woman in jeans
and a white shirt, smiling back at him in the slow, serene way
that made his heart jump.

He turned, finding a tall white desk plastered with more
Voyager and art memorabilia: sketches and pencils, rows of books
and paper, and a grinning man\’s picture who looked very much like
him. He shook his head, eyeing all the stuffed animals that
looked down at him from lofty perches on the tops of tall
bookcases and up at him from clusters on the floor. Still
another bookcase flanked the wall parallel to the windowed wall,
this one crammed with music boxes and dripping with jewelry that
hung from different places. The lower shelves were crammed with
Dickens and Shakespeare, as well as those of more obscure
authorship, whom\’s work had disappeared over the centuries.

The cat cried as she felt the movement of her mistress
under her folded limbs. Emily looked up, not much surprised that
he was here, or else hid her surprise almost as skillfully as her
guardians. She smoothed the braids that flanked her head, which
sleep had fuzzed with stray wisps. She looked up tiredly,
absently stroking the cat\’s plush fur as she pulled herself into
a position cross-legged on her bed.

He smiled as she set the cat on the ground, even as it
howled in protest. \”Ussh, Ko – I mean, Minka.\” She straightened
on the bed, blushing for what seemed no apparent reason. \”I
forget that she isn\’t my Ko Ko sometimes.\” she said sheepishly.
\”They act so similarly – – of course – – but I purposefully made
Mink,\” she nodded at the cat, now playfully tumbling with an
invisible foe, \”A female so I wouldn\’t confuse them. Wherever he
is now, I\’m sure he wouldn\’t appreciate a hologram with his
name.\” She blushed. \”I remember the huge fight my sister and I
had over the name – – then, when I got my way, she teased the
daylights out of me, so we finally shortened it to Ko Ko.\”

\”Why did she tease you about its name?\” asked Chakotay
gently. It was clear she was homesick. She\’d been with them for
almost a half a year now, but had never showed anything but
abject wonder at where she was… they knew she\’d inevitably
begin to show the signs.

She blushed again, shaking her head. \”My friends and I had
been discussing cat names for months, and finally when I told
them I was getting a Blue at last, they started wondering what to
name it. My friend Becky decided on the perfect name, but…\”

\”But…?\”

Emily set her lips in a thin tight line. \”It was a very…
Trekker name – – but no one outside of Trekkidom knew any of the
names except the Captain\’s. So I figured it was relatively
safe.\”

\”What did you name it?\”

Emily turned and stared at him. \”The Russian Blue is a
strong, quiet cat that is very affectionate when it chooses to be
– – which is only with a few people, which it loves
unconditionally, even when they slug it upside the arm. Add that
to the fact that Becky is – – was – – the online head of a fan
club entitled \”The Commander\” – – What do YOU think its name
was?\”

Chakotay grinned… but he was rewarded with a stony glare.
Her eyes hardened, her lips tightened, and her eyebrows knitted.
The dimples vanished, with them any hint of a sense of humor or
laughter. Chakotay became defensive as he saw her almost become
an entirely new person as her features were stripped of any
softening good humor. \”What?\”

\”Why did you rough up my friend, Chakotay?\” she said
bluntly.

\”I didn\’t \’rough\’ up the hooligan, Lea.\”

\”He isn\’t a hooligan, Chakotay – – do you really that
little of me to think I\’d be friends with a hooligan?\”

\”But he…\”

Emily seethed. Her hands clenched and unclenched in a very
familiar attitude, her knuckles white. \”LOOKED like a hooligan?
Damnit, Chakotay, I thought prejudice like that was gone with New
Coke and black and white TVs! You\’re the wisest person I know –
– your people were persecuted for centuries for the very same
reason! – – how can YOU be so shallow?\”

Chakotay looked very contrite. \”You\’re right… I\’m sorry,
Lea.\”

\”I\’m not the one you should apologize to, Chakotay. He\’s
in his quarters : Deck 4, Room 27B.\” And with that, Emily exited
the dazed Commander\’s office in a huff.

-14-

Nathan was back on his perch looking out unseeing into
space. A sudden beep in the silence startled him. He smoothed
his hair in an instinctive gesture, calling , \”Come.\”

Chakotay flinched at the similarity of this boy\’s voice and
the voice of the Chakotay-he-had-once-been. The Parisian
jocularity was gone, leaving nothing but a soft-spoken young boy
looking fearfully up at him, making it very clear how much he had
scared him. \”Yes sir?\”

Chakotay smiled a little. If nothing else, these 20th
century teenagers were generous with their dispensing of
politeness and frequent in their use of \”sir.\” \”I just wanted to
apologize for my threat earlier today.\”

\”It\’s OK – – Emily tried to explain – – sort of – – she
gets sidetracked a lot sometimes. Jess used to say it was one of
most likable qualities.\”

\”Jess?\”

\”Jessica Alpert, one of Em\’s best friends… and my
girlfriend.\” he blushed., rubbing the back of his neck nervously.

Chakotay grinned. \”What about Emily – – who was her
boyfriend?\”

Nathan snickered. \”Emily was always a bit stand-offish at
that sort of thing – – very friendly, but most of the guys in our
group were jerks in her opinion, and she just didn\’t see the
point.\”

Chakotay raised an eyebrow quizzically, but he wasn\’t about
to intrude on Emily by asking this boy a million questions about
a past she seemed determined to keep back in the 20th century.
\”Well, I have to go to the Bridge. I\’ll see you later.\”

\”Yes, sir.\”

Chakotay stepped out of the boy\’s quarters and nearly ran
into Janeway as she strode purposefully down the hallway toward
the turbolift. She swung carefully out of dodge as soon as she
saw him exit the room, his own face a brown study. Only vaguely
aware of her presence, he followed her path to the turbolift more
out necessity – – he was due on the Bridge in a few minutes – –
than anything else.

As the lift doors closed, Janeway turned to Chakotay, who
stared into space, hands behind his back. \”What\’s up?\”

\”I feel like a jerk.\”

\”Why?\”

\”I scared the hell out of Lea\’s guest – – then Lea chewed
me out about it when she found out about it.\”

Janeway stifled a gasp and then a snicker at the mental
picture of the well over six foot Indian being dressed down by
the comparatively diminutive young cadet. But she kept her face
solemn, drawling, \”That would do it.\”

\”I just came from apologizing to him.\”

\”Well, then, what do you have to be sorry about?\”

\”Nothing, I suppose – – but – – \”

Janeway touched his arm. \”Maybe you should get to know
him… if nothing else it will make you feel better.\”

\”I will.\”

-15-

And Chakotay went through with his vow to befriend the
young boy – – to Emily\’s great surprise. She didn\’t know they
were even getting along until, while playing a game of hoverball
with Tom and B\’Elanna, Chakotay and Nathan walked in dressed in
civilian clothes. Emily turned, perplexed, to Tom, who shrugged
and said, \”I invited them to join us. Is that a problem?\”

\”Just one.\”

\”What?\”

\”We need even numbers.\”

\”Harry said he\’d come as soon as his shift was over – – his
shift just ended, so – – \”

Harry slipped in right after Chakotay and Nathan, before
the doors had a chance to close, a grin on his face. He caught
his girlfriend up in a hasty embrace, and spoke animatedly to
her, then they turned to Tom and Emily with an excited smile.
\”We think we may be able to rejoin Nathan with his alter ego!\”

Emily didn\’t know how to react, so she only sputtered,
\”How?\”

\”The Doctor thinks if we inject Nathan with a slow-acting
atom desperser, then transport him to his last known coordinates
like we attempted to do with you, his atoms would disperse then
rejoin with the other Nathan.\”

\”Is it safe?\”

\”We\’re working on it – – it\’s still just a theory – – we\’ll
still have to work on it for a few more days.\”

\”Well… OK.\” murmured Emily uneasily.

\”Why are you getting all sad? Enjoy the time you have
together, Em! Let\’s play some hoverball!\”

Emily grinned broadly. \”Like you ever win, Tom!\”

-16-

After two weeks of dedicated work, B\’Elanna and Harry
reported they were ready to send Nathan back to \”reunite\” with
his alter ego. The Doctor injected him with the delayed –
reaction atom disperser, then Nathan and Emily, along with Harry,
B\’Elanna, Janeway, and Chakotay, went to the transporter room to
say their final good-byes.

Janeway was first. \”It\’s been wonderful knowing you,
Nathan.\”

\”Thank you, Captain.\”

Harry nodded assent, and Chakotay shook his hand and
grinned. Then he turned to Emily, smiling. She hugged him,
saying, \”Don\’t forget to write Emily as SOON as you get
\’reunited\’ with the other Nathan.\”

\”Chill, Em – – I\’ll be fine.\”

\”You\’d better.\” smiled Emily.

They hugged one last time, then Nathan ascended the
platform and Emily walked over to Harry, who was at the console,
making some last minute preparations.

Janeway looked at Emily, who nodded to her and Chakotay.
Janeway returned the nod, and said, \”Energize.\”

He disappeared very much as Emily herself had – – and he
reappeared very much like Emily had – – but he was unchanged,
except for the fact that he now lay slumped across the length of
the platform.

Emily lunged from where she had stood hovering behind Harry
and rushed over to the still lump and pressed her fingers to his
wrist. The sagging of her shoulders and the horrified look in
her eyes told them more than her broken words could. Wordlessly,
Janeway hugged her, helping the prostrate girl to her feet.
Chakotay lowered his head. \”Someone take him to sickbay… NOW.\”

-17-

The doctor pronounced death at 0702 in the morning, adding
that at the rate his atoms were dissipating his body would
disenigrate in less than 96 hours. Emily was relieved of duty to
grieve. She nodded as Janeway told her, then slipped away to
god-knows-where, no one seeing her again until 0300, when she
slipped into the mess hall for a cup of coffee. She was positive
Neelix wouldn\’t be there so late at night, and she doubted anyone
else was there either. She walked softly into the darkened room,
groping for a cup in Neelix\’s hodgepodge kitchen, so quietly in
fact no one could have possibly heard her – – except for one who
could walk still softer.

Chakotay turned as his finely tuned senses detected another
person slipping into the room. He watched as the girl searched
almost frantically, until her head rose and she met his gaze.
\”Looking for one of these?\” he smiled, raising a mug in his hand.

\”Yes.\” she said.

\”You don\’t really need coffee at this late hour… Here,\”
he said, walking over to the tall bar and handing her a steaming
mug. She drank it a little hesitantly, wrinkling her nose.
\”It\’s decaf – – I\’ve tried to wean the Captain off caffeine with
it.\”

\”Fat chance – – doesn\’t taste the same. You\’d think in the
24th century they\’d have better decaf, but they don\’t.\” smirked
Emily wryly, setting the cup down quickly. \”But it\’s better than
Neelix\’s \”better than coffee\” coffee substitute. What I wouldn\’t
give for a cup of Starbucks.\” She smiled reminicently, the
slight quirking of her lips brightening her face and bringing out
her deep dimples. \”When I was at home Jess, Nathan, and I would
go down to Barnes and Noble and get a ton of books and read them
at the Starbucks inside the store, then return them to the
shelves and leave. But for some reason we always bought the
magazines. Jess would always buy a Seventeen, I\’d buy a copy of
Voyager or People, and Nathan…\” She gripped the mug tightly
and stared into space as her voice failed.

\”You know his alter ego is probably doing all those things
back in your time.\” he said reassuringly.

\”I know that in my head, Chakotay, but still… the Nathan
that – – died – – was still a person with thoughts and dreams and
a face and a name and a soul, even if it was the same thoughts
and dreams and face and name as someone else, his soul is his
own. He deserves to have someone grieve for his soul\’s passing,
Chakotay, and I\’m the only one who can do that here.\” said
Emily, the grip on the cup loosening a little.

\”Well, Tom\’s been looking for you for a while. He thought
you might want to help him with the… preparations. He didn\’t
know what to do.\”

\”A wake.\”

\”A what?\”

\”An Irish wake – – he was more Irish than anything else,
and it\’s the only way I know to grieve. Whenever someone I knew
died, there was always a wake. Besides, that way he doesn\’t need
my help for that – – Carey can do that.\” She looked at Chakotay
with a trace of her old deviltry. \”Just one thing.\”

\”What?\” said Chakotay paternally.

\”For God\’s sake – – make sure there\’s only synthahol for
the wake – – I\’ve read too many \”drunk wake\” Voyager stories to
be comfortable with alcohol.\” smiled Emily.

\”I\’d like to see those stories.\” grinned Chakotay.

\”Methinks four-hundred years in the past is a wee bit far
back to ask Jennifer Pelland for permission.\” snickered Emily,
losing some of her gloom.

\”That\’s my girl – – now, go get some sleep.\”

-18-

The service and wake was a day and a half later. It was a
beautiful send off, considering it was a boy only one of them
knew well. Chakotay administered last rites, and spoke a few
words, then turned to Emily, who nodded and ascended the
platform.

She cleared her throat, looking very young in the dark
dress and tights that covered her entire body except for her oval
face, which was paler than usual, the color drained by the
experience of death. \”When I began to gather my thoughts about
Nathan, I thought I\’d be talking about events you have never
heard of, places and people he touched in his own time. But as I
walked around Voyager, I heard different people talking about
him. I had no idea before his death how deeply he had touched
you all – – through small gestures of friendship, he won over
this crew in the space of a few weeks. And that\’s just the kind
of person he was. Sure, he acted like a dip sometimes, but he
made up for it with his unique brand of good fellowship that I
missed when I left the 20th century, and I miss anew as we gather
to say good-bye. As Nathan\’s alter ego is still on Earth,
enjoying a life most of us can only imagine, or in my case,
remember, this Nathan is also still very much alive, through us
and with us as he enjoys a life in an existence we know nothing
of, and will continue to know nothing of until the twilight of
our own lives breaks and we join in him wherever his soul now
roams.\”

She was glowing, the color back in her cheeks as she smiled
down at the still form that was rapidly disappearing before her.
She crossed herself and made a cross in the air above him, then a
peace sign, whispering with a wry smile, \”Peace, bro.\” She
stepped down, her faith in a higher being embracing her and
keeping her afloat in her grief.

The wake was originally to be held at Sandrine\’s, but Emily
had objected violently. \”This is not Nathan\’s home – – his life
should be celebrated in a place he knew.\”

So Emily had shown Tom her holoprogram of her home, which
they altered slightly for a wake, hanging scraps of black crepe
and volumes of flowers and having Kes and Neelix make a few
sundry platters of food. The overall effect, however, was happy
– – wakes celebrated the life of the deceased, not the death.
Emily had hung oversized pictures of Nathan and their friends
from the old days, along with a picture they had taken a few days
before his death. Pictures from the plays they had acted in
together, old yearbooks, anything Emily could replicate or have
Emily upload from her computer she placed with great care in the
living room and den.

The mourners were a bit taken aback by the cheerful
atmosphere, but Janeway smiled, a bubble of remembrance searing
through her. She squeezed Emily and Chakotay\’s hands,
whispering, \”This reminds me of my great-grandmother\’s wake… I
was very small… I thought it was a party because everyone was
laughing and smiling, but everyone wore black.\”

\”I remember my grandfather\’s wake,\” whispered Emily. \”The
days before it were very scary and trying, but the day of his
funeral, there were very few tears – – at the wake, everyone was
happy and told stories about my grandfather. Even I couldn\’t cry
– – it was very hard, because everyone said I was so like him – –
except he was a genius and I wasn\’t.\”

Chakotay remained silent, remembering the pain he still
carried from his father\’s death. He had been at odds with him at
his death, and his people had no way of celebrating the life of a
person, even if he had felt grief instead of the gnawing guilt
that plagued him. His face grew solemn, and Emily, who had
slipped from beside Janeway to flank Chakotay, putting him in the
center of their little group, looked up at him, very serious.
\”You mustn\’t grieve – – he\’s in a better place, Chakotay.\”

\”I know Nathan is, Lea.\”

\”No… your father. He has forgiven you, Chakotay – – long
ago. I thought your stint on that planet inhabited by the Sky
Spirits taught you that, \”Osombre\”. \” she smiled encouragingly.

\”You watch too much TV, Lea.\”

Emily grinned. \”You know, you\’re getting to be more like
my dad every day, Chakotay.\”

\”Thank you.\”

\”Stop it.\”

-19-

By Emily\’s Ancient Earth calendar, it was August 23th,
2372. She smiled, looking at the time. 2330. She got up from
her position – – Indian style, she thought, chuckling slightly
before returning to her somber expression as she headed to the
holodeck.

Chakotay waited inside, as he had since 2200. The holodeck
was in reverent silence, as if it knew something beyond the grasp
of circuitry and holo-images was about to happen here.

Everything was still: no birds sang, no wolves howled as
the sun rose slowly, dispite the late hour, in the panoramic
Arizona landscape. She had never seen Arizona in the 20th
century save in books and television, but she had the distinct
feeling that she knew it, had known it since before time began.

She turned, her mouth in an expectant line as she walked
tremulously toward a low mesa, afraid to break the deep spirit of
this place with even a footstep or a word.

It was hard to believe this was the same girl who had, less
than a year ago, nearly killed Seska, set up Janeway and
Chakotay, watched TV with her pillow crammed halfway down her
throat, as well as nearly knocking two men twice her age out with
her fists. But it was easy to believe that this was the same
girl that had delivered a stirring eulogy for her dead friend
only a month ago. It was then Chakotay decided on her spiritual
readiness to begin her preparation for this ceremony.

Chakotay turned as she approached the bluff, his acute
hearing detecting another presence there almost before the doors
slid open. He smiled paternally as he watched the small figure
loom larger as she came closer ever so slowly, with that elegant,
purposeful gait that she had inherited from Janeway almost as to
the hilt as her startlingly blue eyes. He remembered another
spiritual moment, less than a year ago, but it seemed so
incredibly distant now…

************************************************************

\”PLEASE, Commander!\” she had begged for a week after she
was made a permanent resident on Voyager. Chakotay had flatly
refused for the same duration. He didn\’t think she was old
enough, grounded enough yet to find her guide. Finally, seeing
she was persistent – – a trait that had tripled after the
accident – – he gave in.

He had brought her to this exact program, sat on this exact
bluff, and, to his great surprise and pride, she actually found
and communicated to her spirit guide – – for more than an hour.
When she had finally opened her eyes and found Chakotay, still in
stupor, she smiled and said, \”But Commander, I am part of you and
the Captain – – of course I\’m a spiritual adept. I couldn\’t help
it.\”

Janeway was thrilled when she found out, but she wasn\’t
exactly surprised, either. \”Chakotay… in a way you\’re her
godparent… her spiritual guardian… it\’s a high honor bestowed
on one who would love the child very much, but it is also a very
difficult responsibility. Of course with such an excellent
guardian of her soul she would be more grounded than you
expected.\” she had smiled.

And so from then on Chakotay had been very protective of
her, especially after he and Janeway had begun their relationship
a few months before – – she was a part of both of them, and he
cherished that link. It was almost as if she had a purpose here:
to help him right all the old wrongs against his father by
letting him guide her down the path he had ignored for so long.

He and Janeway were major forces in her life even before
she had acquired a part of them, long before they knew she
existed they were the people she looked up to, and now loved like
parents. She looked to them for guidance, which they readily
gave, looking after her and her interests passionately,
especially Chakotay.

************************************************************

He smiled as he thought of this, then sobered as he thought
of the depth he had discovered in her youthful mind. It wasn\’t
completely his or Janeway\’s – – she had a natural sobriety and
faith in forces beyond her control that amazed him.

Very few of his people would have gone through the ordeal
she had gone through in preparation for this sacred ceremony: it
was so physically draining that Janeway had insisted the young
cadet be relieved of duty until the end of the month. Instead of
accepting the psychoactive drugs that sped the mind-altering
process, she had chosen instead to fast for the past three days,
never leaving her quarters, never sleeping as she searched for
her center. Then she had left her quarters and come here. Now
it was in his hands. The sun was just beginning to stain the sky
with rose when she finally sat cross-legged before him.

He raised an eyebrow in question, and she nodded
immediately. She closed her eyes, not knowing why she did, but
she had heard her guide\’s voice instructing her since she had
begun her preparation three days ago. She had been fearful when
Chakotay had first suggested this, but the fear was gone now,
replaced by complete inner peace.

She dimly heard Chakotay\’s voice in the incessant silence
of her mind. \”We are far from the places of our ancestors, far
from the bones of our people. Great Spirits, accept this girl,
daughter of the ancients, and help her become one with that which
surrounds her. Teach her, guide her, bring her to a new
understanding, so that she may be the wise adult she is destined
to become.\”

There was deep silence for a long moment, then a gentle
voice, her guide\’s, said, \”Bless you, child of the ancients. Go
forth in peace and love, marked with the mark of those long dead,
the mark of your people.\”

The words echoed in her head as she felt the firm pressure
of Chakotay\’s hand on her chin, then the seemingly unbearable
stinging as he carefully traced his own tattoo onto her face.
And yet she did not wince, the reassuring intonations of her
guide better than anthestetic for the numbing pain.

The pressure ceased, the pain subsided somewhat, and she
opened her eyes cautiously. Chakotay beamed in pride at the girl
who now wore his tattoo. She blinked slowly, rising to her feet
still more slowly as the sun broke over the scene, filling the
holodeck with a beacon of light. He put his hands on her
shoulders, her guide\’s words he now intoned solemnly: \”Bless you,
child of the ancients. Go forth in peace and love, Emily Kathryn
Quetit Friedman, marked with the mark of those long dead, the
mark of your people.\”

Emily nodded gravely, not quite aware of her actions. She
looked up and smiled: softly, slowly, with a vibrant dazzle in
its familiar graciousness that was hers alone. \”Yes, Father.\”

-20-

Emily slept soundly for almost two days, undisturbed by
dreams as she replenished her exhausted body. Chakotay, however,
walked out of the holodeck, heading straight toward Janeway\’s
quarters, where she paced restlessly. She didn\’t want to
worry… she knew Emily was in his capable hands… but…

She turned quickly at the sound of the chime, her face very
pale as she looked at Chakotay anxiously.

Chakotay smiled reassuringly, nodding tiredly. \”She\’s
fine. She\’ll probably sleep for the next few days, but she\’ll
survive.\”

Janeway sighed happily. \”Good. She can sleep for a week
if she wants… I could never do that.\”

\”Neither could I… or could she… until we actually did
it. I went a week without food or water… but then again, I was
an adult out to torture myself at the time.\”

Janeway smiled wanly. \”Wasn\’t it painful?\”

\”My guide was there the whole time… you have no idea how
comforting that can be.\”

Janeway leaned on his arm, smiling up at him. \”Yes I do.\”
She saw the look on his face, which puzzled her. \”There\’s
something else… what?\”

Chakotay smiled. \”When I had finished, she looked up at me
and said, \’Yes, Father.\’ It was… uncanny.\”

Janeway smiled. \”In a way, she is our daughter…
biologically, she shares parts of our genetic patterns, but
emotionally she is linked to us even more strongly than blood.\”

Chakotay grinned wearily. \”It\’s amazing, isn\’t it? Having
someone trust you implicitly from the minute they meet you, just
because of a connection you have.\”

Janeway traced the amazement in his face with a finger.
\”It\’s not so amazing… I trusted you with my life from the
moment I met you. When I think if not for Tom I would have left
you to die before I even knew you…\” her voice trailed off, her
eyes shining with guilty tears. She rested her head on his
chest, the salt water seeping slowly into his uniform.

\”Shussh… you did what you had to do… I just wish…\”

\”What?\” asked Janeway, her eyes bright with the glaze of
tears and irrepressible curiosity.

\”That my life wasn\’t Tom\’s.\” grinned Chakotay.

Janeway smirked, her sense of humor returning as she
dropped a tender kiss on his lips. \”Chakotay, Tom doesn\’t own
your life… I do.\”

-21-

Emily\’s fifteenth birthday party was a week later. Thanks
to help from several crewmen, the garden had been transformed
into festive stage and auditorium, the flowers and lush
vegetation representing the magical Shakespearean forest the way
no holodeck program ever could.

Emily, strength and vitality fully regained, joined the
belated festivities with a happy heart, though the deeply
spiritual experience only seven days past left her a trifle
quieter, a trifle older and wiser. Janeway was elated at the
change, though seeing another with her little quirks and
Chakotay\’s thousand and one endearing mannerisms, as well as his
tattoo, was rather eerie at first.

She mingled with the revelers for awhile, then found the
other actors and herded them towards the makeshift \”dressing
rooms\” created by moving some of the bushier plants to the sides
to make two \”rooms\”.

They had decided to celebrate Emily\’s birthday with the
first performance of \”A Midsummer Night\’s Dream,\” which would be
repeated three times, once for each off-duty shift as they
orbited a small M-class planet Stellar Cartography had informed
her held the plant life they so desperately needed.

Janeway dressed quickly in her Titania costume: a silvery
robe and gown with matching slippers. A soft-stepped little
satyr in a gauzy dark blue dress holding a golden lyre, provided
by Tuvok, hopped over, wielding a wreath of small white flowers
and green foliage, bowing low as she presented it. \”My Queen.\”
she smiled.

Janeway plucked the wreath from Emily\’s grasp and smiled
softly. \”How lovely!\”

\”It has four-leaf clovers in it for luck.\” grinned Emily.

Janeway smiled, noticing a small slip of paper fall from
it. She smiled as she unfolded it. \”From Obereon.\”

Emily had snatched the wreath from Janeway\’s grasp,
gesturing to a nearby chair. She sat, and the little sprite set
the wreath to one side and grasped a brush, yanking pins right
and left, deaf to Janeway\’s cries. She softly brushed her hair
until the remaining pins were gone, then pulled it behind her
ears and set the crown on her head. \”Fin!\” she cried, very
pleased with her handiwork.

Janeway smiled, then caught a glimpse of B\’Elanna and
Harry, complete in Athenian garb, enjoying a private moment until
Tom, ass\’s head on, startled them. B\’Elanna would have beaten
him to a bloody pulp had Harry and Janeway not intervened. \”Wait
until the play is over, B\’Elanna. We only have one ass on
board.\”

\”As usual, my love speaketh naught but the truth.\” grinned
Chakotay, crossing his arms as he leaned in the \”doorway.\”

Janeway beamed at him. Even in as a Fairy King in
Shakespearean tunic and soft, loose pants, he had an air of
authority that commanded respect, unlike Tom, but nearly ran into
him in his ass\’s head.

Chakotay was admiring Janeway in much the same way just
then. Her hair was down, the shiny dress Emily had replicated
bringing startling clarity to her slim form\’s curves that even
the robe couldn\’t quite mask. The wreath was embedded in the
masses of her hair, nearly invisible to view. With the saucy
young woman standing beside her, it was entirely conceivable at
that moment that she could very well be Titania and a very
feminine young Puck.

He smiled at the little creature dressed in blue that stood
beside Janeway like a beloved daughter. Emily\’s eyes were very
large and blue in her flushed tan face, her eyebrows raised,
wrinkling the lines of her familiar tattoo into the hairline of
her chameleon curls. She grinned frankly as her eyes met his,
her eyes darting towards Janeway, then grinning still more,
bringing the dimples into view.

Chakotay smiled back. She must be very excited: he\’d never
seen her so bright. When Janeway turned to talk to Kes about
something or other, Emily leapt excitedly toward him. \”I think
Harry\’s going to…\”

\”What?\”

Emily grinned. \”What what?\”

Chakotay shook his head. \”Fine, if you\’re not going to
tell me…\”

\”Well, I don\’t know WHAT he\’s going to do… but it\’s
something BIG… I can feel it!\” she cried, clutching his arm
excitedly.

\”Calm down, Quetit. You aren\’t psychic.\”

Emily took a deep breath to calm herself, then looked up
with a trifle of his own twisted sense of humor. \”I\’m not a
little girl, Chakotay. And are you quite sure I\’m not psychic?\”

Before he could respond, Janeway\’s voice could be heard, an
impromptu director calling out to various people, a ball of
excited energy rushing around with dizzying speed. Chakotay
reached out an arm to pull her back.

She lurched back into his chest, then spun around, her eyes
roving his face as quickly as her foot tapped the floor
nervously. \”Yes?\” she said impatiently.

Chakotay shook his head as if scolding her. He grinned at
Emily, who hung beside them. \”So you get it from her, eh
Quetit?\”

Emily shrugged eloquently. \”Guess so, Chakotay.\”

A shout echoed through the dressing rooms, the actors and
actresses assembling behind a makeshift stage shrouded from the
public view.

The play was a smashing success. Emily, as usual, proved
Tom wrong in the assumption that Robin Goodfellow HAD to be a
boy… and had a blast doing so. The crowd cheered to see
Janeway head over heels for the \”asinine\” Tom, and cheered even
louder when \”Obereon\” released the spell on his lovely Queen and
said:

\”Sound, music! Come, my Queen, take hands with me,
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.\”

But by far the most exciting part of the play was a certain
scene between Lysander and Hermia, not in the Bard of Avon\’s
original work:

Titania and Obereon, happily reunited, had just made their
final exit, and Emily had just stepped forward to address the
audience with the last monologue, when \”Lysander\” rushed forward
and plucked Emily off the stage with superhuman strength. She
opened her mouth to protest this indignity, then she saw what he
carried in his hand, and flew to find B\’Elanna.

Before the assembled audience had time to begin to whisper
amongst themselves, Emily had found B\’Elanna and shoved her back
on-stage. Harry rushed in an instant later. B\’Elanna\’s eyes
were pure fire, and she glared down at Harry until she saw the
box he held in his hand. She took it up, whispering, \”Harry?\”

Harry smiled and nodded. \”With the Captain\’s
permission…\” he and the audience looked over to where Janeway
and Chakotay stood, slightly offstage. Janeway didn\’t need an
explanation: she merely nodded with a small smile on her lips and
bade him continue. He looked back to B\’Elanna, smiling, \”Will
you marry me, B\’Elanna?\”

B\’Elanna didn\’t need to be asked twice. She had an inkling
of what was going to happen – – she hadn\’t been with him for
nearly a year without knowing exactly what he was thinking – –
and promptly sank to her knees beside Harry and kissed him
happily.

Emily had a tear in her eyes, but her sense of humor was
intact. She stepped forward. The original monologue was a bit
inappropriate, but she smirked and said:

\”If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding than a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to scrape the serpent\’s tongue.
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.\”

She curtsied piquantly at the laughter and applause, then
went to Chakotay and Janeway, laughing, \”See? I told you I was
psychic!\” Then she and Janeway went over to the happily engaged
couple to hug them and congratulate them.

Paris, holding his donkey head under his arm, nudged
Chakotay in the ribs and said mock-sadly, \”Harry and B\’Elanna – –
whoda thought it – – I suppose you and the Captain will be next
to tie the knot, eh Chakotay?\”

Chakotay looked at Paris with an amused smile. \”Who said
we haven\’t already, Paris?\” he said, leaving Paris to scratch
his head and think very seriously on that little rejoiner…

-23-

Janeway joined Chakotay in the mess hall early the next
morning. She looked at him, the smile on her lips warming him as
it had for so long. She picked up her cup of coffee and inhaled
the soothing vapors contentedly. Then she set her mug down and
looked at Chakotay. \”B\’Elanna and Harry want us to officiate the
ceremony, of course.\”

\”Of course.\” nodded Chakotay, setting down the PADD he was
reading to study Janeway\’s reaction. She was utterly unreadable:
other than her heart-felt happiness for the two, she displayed no
emotion whatsoever. He leaned forward: the direct approach would
have to suffice. \”How do you feel about this?\”

Janeway looked genuinely puzzled. \”What do you mean?\”

\”The idea of crewmen pairing off… marrying… here, on
this ship, in the Delta Quadrant.\” he said, taking her hand.

Janeway blushed furiously, not knowing quite why. He was
asking her opinion on a totally innocuous subject – – or was it?
\”I\’m happy for them, Chakotay. They need each other… they\’re
in love.\”

Chakotay willed her to look up at him. \”Are YOU happy,
Kathryn?\”

Janeway swallowed hard, her voice trailing off
nevertheless. \”Of course…\”

Chakotay groaned inwardly in exasperation. She was doing
it again – – the rest of the crew could be happy and go on with
their lives, but the Captain couldn\’t. He took her other hand,
leaving her nowhere to hide. \”Do you love me?\”

\”Of course.\” She was very nervous now. He was building up
to something… something BIG. She couldn\’t swallow. They\’d
never had such a strained conversation before… it worried her.

Chakotay shook his head. \”I\’m beginning to wonder,
Kathryn.\”

Janeway was very worried now. \”Why?\”

Chakotay looked at her, then looked around at the empty
mess hall – – even Neelix wasn\’t here yet. The lights were not
turned on, the light from the kitchen spilling out dimly into the
rest of the silent room. \”I didn\’t mean it that way… but you
don\’t seem to really want to give up that last barrier between
us.\”

\”There\’s a protocol…\” began Janeway, but he cut her off,
his eyes blazing as his hopes and dreams fell pieces around his
ears.

\”The entire crew knows about this – – whatever this is now
– – and from day one they\’ve supported it – – hell, they set us
up!! Protocol is no longer an issue, Kathryn.\” He stood up.
\”You know where I am once you realize that.\”

Then he stalked out of the room, which had suddenly grown
very cold.

-24-

\”Nice move, brainiac.\”

Chakotay looked up from where he had been listlessly
perusing meaningless data on several hundred PADDs most of the
day, after a brief stint on the Bridge sitting beside an immobile
Kathryn Janeway. He looked up at the small figure glaring at him
with a look of total innocence. \”What, Quetit?\”

\”You know damn well what I mean.\” she continued, her mood
not improved by his invokation of her tribal name, meaning
\”little girl\”. \”Walking out on her like a wounded bear with a
sullen ultimatum this morning. Nice move – – if you\’re a Byronic
hero. Good lord, I thought I was finished with people like you
when I left the 20th century!!\”

\”What the hell does that mean?\”

\”You know Nathan – – that guy from four hundred years past
you nearly beat to a bloody pulp \’protecting\’ me – – he had the
same problem – – only in his case the girl was barely aware of
his existence!! I thought I\’d never meet someone as stubborn as
him again – – are you sure you guys aren\’t distantly related?\”
she said, flopping into a nearby chair.

\”Is that any way to talk to your \’father\’ young lady?\”

\”No – – but you deserve it. All our hard work and you go
and deliberately try to blow it to hell!\”

\”That god-forsaken planet?\” smirked Chakotay.

Emily was getting very impatient. She leaned over and
grabbed his hair and pulled – – hard. \”Listen up, Mr. Former –
Maquis – Hero, you are acting like an IDIOT!! YOU may not care
if you live alone for the rest of your life – – which, by the
way, is a CROCK – – but out there is a woman who gave up
everything to fall in love with you, and I sure as hell am not
going to give up until you guys are back together!! You two are
my parents, and I love you both dearly, but you are seriously
BONKERS if you think we\’re going to let a little misunderstanding
screw this thing up!!\”

She shoved him back, stalking out of the room angrily.
Chakotay rubbed his head where her fingernails had dug into his
scalp, wincing slightly. But her words were oh so true: They
were acting like children. He\’d go talk to her before Janeway
was attacked similarly.

Janeway had retreated to her Ready Room after a disastrous
half – shift on the Bridge, burying herself in work and other
thoughts – – anything other than him and that horrible early-
morning confrontation that left her doubting herself.

She was deep into the study of the ship\’s diagrams, trying
to figure out who to move so that B\’Elanna and Harry\’s quarters
could be connected shortly before the wedding… which led her
down the all-too-familiar road of memories that made her toss
that PADD aside and grabbing up another, this one explaining the
stretch of replicator rations by the entire senior staff to
furnish food and decorations for the… Janeway, giving up any
hope of forgetting this entire fiasco, stared listlessly at
another PADD, not even reading, let alone comprehending, its
contents.

She was so immersed in her own thoughts she didn\’t notice
the repeated calls at her door. Chakotay, standing outside of
her door, was very concerned when she didn\’t let him in after his
repeated paging: once he assumed she was angry at him, but after
the fifth time he keyed in the command override to her ready
room, thinking she was dead or worse. He stepped inside
tentatively, finding Janeway, hands on her forehead, hunched over
her desk. He thought she was asleep until he saw her shoulders
shaking slightly and heard a small sigh escape her lips.

He edged over, almost afraid to touch her. He knelt down
beside her chair, laying an arm across her shoulders
protectively. She dropped her hands from her forehead, turning
to meet his worried gaze. She\’d never seen him so anxious – –
then again, she\’d never been so worried herself. She smiled
wanly at him, touching her forehead to his. \”I\’m sorry.\” she
whispered. \”I didn\’t mean…\”

He put a finger to her lips, silencing her tenderly. He
smiled a little, his warm brown eyes meeting her perplexed blue
ones. \”I didn\’t mean to get angry, Kathryn. But even after the
entire crew puts all their effort into getting us together you
still cry \’protocol\’ and shy away anytime I try to get a little
bit closer.\”

Janeway sighed, her breath issuing over his face. \”I know,
I know… but even if the Admiral herself came here and ordered
me to fall for you I\’d still have a small part of me that would
take awhile to get used to this…\”

Chakotay stroked her hair reassuringly as she turned her
chair to face him. \”It\’s OK – – I\’m not going anywhere for the
next few decades.\”

\”Thank you for understanding, Chakotay\” she whispered.

\”It\’s all I can do, Kathryn, that and love you.\” he said,
brushing her face with one hand before he stood up and left.

-25-

The next few weeks few by in a whirl of preparation:
Neelix experimenting with the menu, Kes hovering close so that he
wouldn\’t \”pep\” it up, Tom and Emily occasionally pulling her away
to help with the decorations and thousand minute details, Janeway
and Chakotay working on the ceremony itself with great care and
detail. It was like no other marriage before: a joyous mix of
the beliefs and customs of all involved, each person adding a
little to the melting pot so as to make the first Voyager wedding
still more unique.

B\’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Tom, and Emily had assembled in the
empty Mess Hall to watch B\’Elanna\’s fitting for her dress: a
gorgeous white creation by, surprisingly, Neelix and Kes. Neelix
had brought it to the Mess Hall in a large white box. Tom and
Emily had looked fearfully at each other, but their worries
vanished when B\’Elanna reappeared from the makeshift dressing
room the perfect picture of bridal beauty. Kes produced another
box, smaller and taller, pulling from it a delicate veil, then
proceeded to arrange it over B\’Elanna\’s dark hair.

She stepped forward as meekly as she ever had in her life,
looking around at her beaming friends with large brown eyes.
\”What do you think?\”

Tom stared, regretting every time he\’d tried to con Harry
out of going out with her as he looked at her in that dress: off
the shoulder with a mist of soft illusion and silky satin. If
Harry didn\’t love her before he would now… but that wasn\’t
necessary – – he loved her more than the disillusioned Paris ever
thought possible, more than anyone in the galaxy… except maybe
Chakotay. Now THERE was a born lover if ever there was one, he
thought: he loved Janeway with every atom of his being, and never
thought to hide it, from her or anyone else – – at least after
some well-executed prodding from him and Emily.

He grinned over at where Emily sat, hands clasped under her
chin in a very familiar attitude, her hair swept away from that
damned tattoo. He couldn\’t imagine her as anyone else\’s daughter
but Janeway and Chakotay\’s: THERE was unconditional love, from
the very beginning. Emily was at the tender age when she needed
her parent\’s guidance most and wanted it least, and the added
burden of suddenly losing her grounding and everything she knew
might have ruined her had they not jumped in willingly and given
her all the love and support they instinctively knew she needed.
She loved them completely, and worked her ass off to make them
proud of her. And they were. She was brilliant with computers,
strong and sweet and vibrant – – everything a completely
biological child of the two would be. And, of course, it didn\’t
hurt that she nearly killed Seska and saved their lives, either.
Then, Emily looked over, and smiled back. Damned if she didn\’t
smile exactly Janeway too – – her smile in HIS face – –

A soft sigh alerted the group to a new presence in the
room. Janeway walked in, beelining toward B\’Elanna with a soft
shine in her eyes. \”Oh B\’Elanna… you look lovely!\” she said,
clasping the young woman\’s hands maternally.

\”Thank you, Captain.\” smiled B\’Elanna, blushing faintly.

Janeway stood, the shine in her eyes unmistakable, thought
Tom. She wanted it to be HER – – Chakotay wanted it to be HER –
– Hell, everyone wanted it to be HER – – Tom shook his head.
This wedding had him in a sentimental mood – –

Janeway broke his speculation with another small sigh.
\”I\’m sorry I can\’t stay – – I just wanted to tell you we\’re
almost done with the ceremony – – I\’ll send it to you when we\’re
done so you can see if you two want to make any changes.\” She
hugged the half-Klingon and left the room.

-26-

Janeway returned to her quarters, the effects of little
sleep driving home as she slumped into a nearby chair. She
scanned a PADD listlessly. \”How are we ever going to finish this
in under a week?\” she groaned wearily, stretching and contacting
back into her position curled up in the chair. \”We\’ve already
spent most of our off-duty time trying to write this thing… AND
I told B\’Elanna she and Harry they would have a copy soon.\” she
continued to the still figure on the opposite sofa, her monolouge
frequently punctuated by yawns.

When silence permeated the room once more, the still figure
moved to look at her, tossing a PADD onto the table. \”Here.\” he
said simply, his voice thick with weariness.

\”What?\”

\”Here… as in \’Here, it\’s done.\’\” said Chakotay, flopping
back onto his back to lay very quietly as Janeway skimmed it.
\”Change whatever you don\’t like.\”

\”\’We gather here today to celebrate as a family the miracle
of love and its fulfillment through eternal union. Here, on this
ship, far from what we thought mattered most, we have slowly come
to acknowledge Voyager as our home, as well as each other as
family and friends, and finally, as these two and so many others
onboard represent, lovers. Today we join the first of hopefully
many souls together as one in the most sacred and beautiful of
bonds. This man, Harry Kim, and this woman, B\’Elanna Torres,
have chosen to enter this state by their own free will, and
anyone who thinks they should not go forth from this place as
husband and wife voice their opposition or remain forever silent.
Bless you two, now one by the grace of the Divine Spirit, and may
you continue in peace and love through each other\’s strength, now
and forever.\’\” read Janeway, her voice wavering slightly as she
progressed.

She looked up at the silent figure, who stared into space
as she read. \”Chakotay… this is beautiful.\”

Chakotay sat up, looking at her intently, as if trying to
read her soul. \”I wrote from my heart, Kathryn.\”

Janeway looked down at the PADD again, her eyes misting
slightly. But something rankled, causing her to stand up again.
Her tone was more certain now : \”Thank you… I should go give
this to Harry and B\’Elanna.\”

Chakotay looked at her for a second, contemplating whether
or not to get up and leave. The look in her eyes gave him no
indication of what he should say or do, so he got up and left,
only half-aware of her eyes following his retreat, still void of
expression.

-27-

But the happy wedding was not to happen the next day – –
the Chief Engineer and the Officer at Ops/Comm were too busy.
The evening before a small Kazon ship had been spotted, had fired
several shots before turning tail and disappearing as quickly as
it had come. The damage wasn\’t great – – it had barely nicked
Voyager\’s shields – – but Tuvok and Harry had reported a
Federation signature on the weaponry that wasn\’t encouraging.
Janeway, who had been awake and pacing the Bridge long before,
had called the senior staff at 0530 for an emergency meeting.

Chakotay had just fallen asleep after hours of tossing and
turning after displaying his heart oh-so prominently on his
sleeve to Kathryn when her voice echoed through his quarters,
reverberating through his skull, \”Janeway to all senior staff:
emergency meeting of the senior staff in 10 minutes.\”

He sprung from his bed, wondering what could make Kathryn\’s
voice so agitated, much less call an emergency meeting at 0540.
The vague thought she was as addled as he was over last night
crossed his mind, but it didn\’t fit with the Janeway he knew.

Dressed in his uniform and about to walk out of the room,
he glanced over at the picture that hung on the wall just before
the door. He smiled at the assembled group – – Kes had taken
another group picture at Lea\’s birthday – – sighing a little as
he glanced at the bucolic picture: the newly-engaged Harry and
B\’Elanna with their arms around each other, beaming at the
camera, Tom and the Doctor close to Kes, whom Neelix held a bit
tighter than usual as he eyed the two men warily, Tuvok eyeing
the whole spectacle with a wry smile. His eyes frowned as they
rested on the group clustered in the center: Emily, his \”Quetit\”,
grinning happily from the joined circle of Kathryn\’s and his
embrace. It was as if they were a happy little family,
surrounded by a supportive extended family filled with loving
brothers and sisters.

Of course, they\’d fought before – – the worst only a few
months before Emily had come here, they had been at odds for
weeks after their failed attempt at alliances with the Kazon,
then the Trabe. If it had been painful to be so angry at her
then, and it was slowly killing him to be angry with her now.
But, after a long time of bitter sidelong glances and
professional demeanor towards each other, they had tried and
succeeded in resuming their amiable, close command friendship.
And then it had become still closer through their bond with
Emily, and finally she had admitted she was in love with him.
And now another rift had formed in what seemed an instant,
threatening the warm, loving relationship to the core. He tried
to shake his pessimistic thoughts out of his head and headed
toward the lift.

-28-

The senior staff sat attentively in the conference room
five minutes after Janeway called them, but Janeway didn\’t enter
the room for another few minutes. Chakotay looked around. He
was the only one, except maybe Kes and Neelix, who hadn\’t been
working when Janeway had summoned them. They all knew what
Janeway had called them about – – except him. He tried to read
their faces: Harry\’s wasn\’t very hard, he was obviously worried –
– and it wasn\’t pre-wedding jitters, for the rest of the room
mirrored his concern, if not as blatantly obvious as the young
man\’s face.

His mind was just beginning to wander when the door slid
open with a small hiss of air, revealing Janeway. She was
clearly concerned as she stood before the assembled officers: it
was evident in the shadows under her eyes and the way her hands
gripped the top of her chair as she stood behind it.

She nodded towards Chakotay. \”For the Commander\’s benefit,
could we summarize the events of the past twelve hours?\”

No one could speak, so Tuvok, the only unaffected one,
cleared his throat and said, \”At approximately 0100 hours, a
small Kazon ship, the size of which was slightly larger than a
runabout, attacked Voyager with a bombardment of energy weapons
and photon torpedoes, the damage of which was minimal. Ensign Kim
noticed an ion trail leading off into space, which continues
beyond our long range sensors.\”

\”Anything new?\” asked Janeway.

Neelix interrupted, \”According to the coordinates Mr. Tuvok
has supplied me with, the ion trail leads into is a binary system
high in Kazon Nistrum activity. It\’s probably a trap, Captain.
I say we just avoid the entire system altogether.\”

\”What Mr. Neelix fails to mention is that he informed me
that there is an M-class planet near the opposite edge of the
system rich in plant life, as well as trace amounts of dilithium
in its crust.\” interjected Tuvok blandly.

\”Really?\” said Janeway dryly, eyeing the red Talaxian.

\”Well, ummm… well, Captain, I didn\’t…\”

\”Yes, Mr. Neelix, you did not. We haven\’t come across an
M-class planet that can support much edible plant life since that
small one we orbited on Emily\’s birthday.\” A joint sigh echoed
through the room at the mention of that happy, carefree day, then
silence reigned again and Janeway continued, \”If it\’s possible to
locate this planet without inciting the Kazon again, we will. Is
this planet populated by Kazon, Mr. Neelix?\”

\”Errr – – not to my knowledge. No Kazon actually LIVE
there – – the Rwari live on two other planets nearer to the other
sun in the system and trade with them for items they can\’t
pillage from other ships. The planet in question is uninhabited
– – the Rwari never saw the need to populate more than two
planets.\” fumbled Neelix.

Janeway nodded. \”Sounds good. Mr. Paris, set a course to
this planet. Tuvok, you divvy up the crew so we can get in there
and out of there as quickly as possible. I want the Kazon to
have as little time to hound us as possible if they do show up.
Dismissed.\”

Janeway didn\’t leave the room as the crew filed out,
instead sitting in her chair and staring at the stars, her face
clouded and troubled. Chakotay kept to his own seat at the right
hand and leaned over towards her, disregarding the spreading grin
on Tom Paris\’s face as he engaged the privacy lock before
leaving.

\”What\’s wrong? An M-class planet and a pithy attack isn\’t
enough for a meeting at 5 in the morning – – there\’s something
you\’re not telling me.\”

Janeway turned to him, worry faint on her face. \”It\’s true
we were attacked, and the damage wasn\’t very bad. But as we
began to repair the damage, Ensign Kim didn\’t just notice an ion
trail, though – – he noticed a Cardassian signature to the
weaponry used by the attackers.\”

\”Cardassian?\” The word was oh so simple, but the fury that
permeated the word was frightening. The normally calm, silent,
man was clenching and unclenching his hands in rage. \”Seska!\”
he growled.

\”Yes.\” Janeway herself had long since vented her own
anger, left with a vague sense of sadness and worry. She smiled
ironically as she remembered the last time she had seen her – –
she wished now Emily had been a better shot – – she laughed as
she remembered Seska\’s angry words:

************************************************************

\”Fool! He was only useful as a informant – – I have
everything I needed from him – – so I amused myself by playing
with his mind, and now I will kill both of you. Pity you will
never know the satisfaction of driving poor Chakotay to
distraction – – you would have been an adept – – except you
actually have FEELINGS for him!\” she scoffed.

\”What do you mean?\” said Janeway.

\”You know EXACTLY what I mean – – the glances, the absolute
devotion – – just lovely!\” she sneered.

\”Chakotay and I are just friends.\”

\”What an IDIOT!\” groaned Seska, slapping her head. \”You
don\’t mean to say that if you two both had no pasts, you would
have no emotion for him whatsoever… that if you were both just
foolish ensigns, you…\”

\”I\’ve had enough of your mind games, Seska! Either shoot
me or not – – you won\’t get the satisfaction of counting me as a
rival!\” she growled huskily.

\”My my, you HAVE got it bad!! Before you die, I just want
to give you a little piece of information. Chakotay…\”

************************************************************

She had often wondered what Seska would have told her had
Emily not chosen that moment to knock the Cardassian spy
unconscious. She shook the thought from her head, smiling
faintly. \”You know, the last thing she said to me before Emily
knocked her over was some barb about you and me.\”

Chakotay shook his head staring at the stars, then turned
to look at her again. She was worried about him – – jealous
perhaps? – – if nothing else, it was a good sign. \”I think she
was… jealous of you. You had everything she didn\’t: command
without having to get it through – – favors, a ship of your own
and people who respect you… I can\’t wait to see her face when
she finds out about us.\” he smiled wryly.

\”You expect she\’s the one behind this?\”

\”I\’d bet my life on it.\”

\”For your sake I hope we don\’t have to. Hopefully we won\’t
even get within sensor range.\”

\”Remember, Seska\’s got the edge here – – she could be
anywhere in this sector. We\’ll have to keep our guard up.\”

Janeway smiled softly, nodding. \”Agreed. Now let\’s head to
the Bridge before Tom gets any more ideas.\”

Chakotay grinned, businesslike – – for now. \”Aye,
Captain.\”

-29-

They reached the planet the next day. Strangely enough,
the Kazon ships in orbit around the two Rwari homeplanets paid no
attention to Voyager as she edged silently around them. Janeway
was not lulled into a false sense of security about this.
However, when Emily approached her for permission to accompany
one of the away teams, she didn\’t quite say nay.

Janeway sat in her Ready Room, mulling over a volumous
stack of PADDs when a beep jarred her concentration. \”Come.\”

\”You asked to see me Captain?\” grinned Chakotay.

\”I wanted to ask your opinion.\”

\”What about?\”

\”Emily wants to accompany an away team to the surface.\”

\”We\’ve established this as a highly volatile mission – – it
could be dangerous.\”

\”Yes, but the Kazon have ignored us so far – – who\’s to say
this mission is as dangerous as we thought? Besides, we\’ve seen
she can defend herself.\”

Chakotay rubbed his arm as he remembered a bruise long-ago
healed. \”Well, you\’re right. But send her with Neelix and Tom –
– their team won\’t be on the surface long.\”

\”Good idea.\” she nodded, slapping her comm badge. \”Janeway
to Friedman.\”

\”Yes?\”

\”In my ready room.\”

\”Yes, ma\’ – – Captain\”

The doors slid open and Emily\’s form came in to view a
split second later, panting and gasping. \”Yes, Captain?\”

\”Where were you?\”

\”Observing Lieutenant Paris at the Conn.\”

\”I see… I just wanted to inform you that Commander
Chakotay and I have decided to allow you to accompany an away
team to the surface.\”

\”Thank you, Captain!\”

\”You will be helping Neelix and Kes as well as their away
team collect samples. You leave at 0600 tomorrow morning.\”

At the mention of Neelix her face fell a little, but she
got over it quickly, nodding, \”Yes, Captain.\”

\”Dismissed.\”

Chakotay chuckled as the door slid closed again. \”Poor Lea
– – she can\’t stand him, you know.\”

\”We all have our burdens to bear, Commander.\” smiled
Janeway. \”You should be getting some sleep. You\’re away team
leaves at 0700 if I\’m not mistaken.\”

\”I wasn\’t planning on sleeping much tonight.\” grinned
Chakotay, but Janeway shook her head. Chakotay was heartened by
the fact that she didn\’t totally write off the suggestion in her
expression, just her words:

\”Bed. Now. Without me tonight. You need your rest.\”

\”Aye, Captain.\”

-30-

Emily slipped into the transporter room to find Neelix
pleading with an adamant Janeway. \”Please, Captain – – she\’s
just a child!\”

Janeway shook her head. \”She has to accompany your away
team – – I\’m sorry, MR. Neelix, but I promised. You leave in 5
minutes.\”

Emily slipped behind the console as Janeway strode out,
then whirled around and grabbed the little man\’s shirt front
angrily. She stared into his pale amber eyes angrily, then let
go, wiping her hands on the grey of her uniform. She crossed her
arms, and glared at him. \”You have no business calling me a
child, MR. Neelix,\” she growled, using the same inflection that
had echoed in his fur-growing ears a few seconds earlier.

Neelix told himself he shouldn\’t be frightened of a mere
girl, but the intensity that made itself known in the powerful
clenching and unclenching of her hands and the cold blue fire in
her eyes made his muscles go to water – – he knew she would never
use the strength she had inherited against anyone unless
necessary – – the pair she had received it from were also the
possessors of amazing self-discipline that prevented it – – but
nevertheless he was afraid of her.

Kes rushed to the seething girl\’s side, ever the
peacemaker, soothing, \”I\’m sure Neelix is sorry – – it\’s only
because he\’s your friend.\”

\”Whatever.\” snorted Emily, shaking off Kes\’s friendly arm.
The attitude vanished as the last of the away team entered,
accompanied by Commander Chakotay.

\”Are you ready to leave, Mr. Neelix?\”

\”Yes SIR!\” he said, a wary glance at Emily, \”At least I
am.\”

Chakotay leaned over to Kes. \”Something I should know
about?\”

\”It\’s a long story – – I\’ll tell it after we get back.\”

\”Take care of her, will you, Kes?\”

Kes smiled as she eyed the paternal worry written on the
man\’s face, nodding. \”Of course, Commander. Don\’t worry.\”

The away team stepped onto the platform, Emily giving
Chakotay the thumbs up as she disappeared from his sight, reduced
to a thin thread of plasma, remembering the transport that robbed
her of her self and replaced it with part of him and Janeway.

Emily\’s smile faded as she rematerialized on the surface,
eyeing the bucolic surroundings as well as her prosaic task ahead
of her for the duration of this mission – – the one she\’d begged
to be included on, no less! She groaned inwardly as Kes quietly
handed her a tricorder and a device for collecting samples while
Neelix blustered around, saying a lot, but without much content
to his aggravating bravado.

Emily got as far away from the incessant stream of
gibberish as possible, until she lost sight of the away team,
lost in the undergrowth as she dug into the flora and fauna
surrounding her, oblivious to all else.

She worked for a good hour and a half filling her samples
with the strange life that abounded on this planet, uninterrupted
by Neelix or Kes or any of the rest of they away team. She was
oblivious to all else – – except the phaser that was suddenly
something against her back. She turned around, mumbling
something along the lines of \”YES, Mr. Neelix?\” then paled as
she saw the smirking face that held a hypo in her hand. The
woman\’s face turned greyer as she recognized her, growling,
\”You\’re the little whelp who tried to kill me!\”

Emily shook her head to regain some sort of clarity as she
stood up and looked at the twisted, scaly visage that repulsed
her every biological and psychological function. She was scared
to death – – she had seen \”Maneuvers\”, she knew what this woman
could do if she wanted to – – but she tried desperately to remain
cool, breathing deeply to find her center.

She looked up again, brushing her hair back from where it
had covered her forehead, and Seska gasped in shock. \”Chakotay!\”
she hissed.

Emily realized the Cardassian\’s weakness immediately,
nodding and smirking. \”Yes, this is Chakotay\’s tattoo, Seska – –
he\’s my father.\”

\”That\’s impossible!\”

\”I suppose so – – but wouldn\’t you agree that a DNA donor
is technically a child\’s father?\” smirked Emily ruthlessly.

Seska\’s eyes glared in hatred, but she recovered quickly,
snapping with a wave of her hand, \”It makes your imminent demise
all the more profitable, Miss. You see, I am about to inject you
with a virulent toxin that has no known cure – – except mine.
You will then beam back to Voyager – – informing them before you
slip into unconsciousness that I am demanding your transporter
technology for my cure.\”

\”Not if you can\’t catch me!\” growled Emily fiercely,
springing into a tree, then swinging back and kicking the
astonished Cardassian in the chest.

\”My, you MUST be Chakotay\’s daughter.\” said Seska
sarcastically as she jumped up quickly, leaving Emily no time to
slap her comm badge. Whatever was in that hypo, she didn\’t want
it anywhere near HER.

Emily\’s eyes glowed as she leapt into another tree, and
scrambled higher. \”Thank you – – though I like to think I take
after my mother somewhat too – – don\’t you think I act a bit like
Captain Janeway, too?\”

\”Whaaa…t?\”

\”Yup – – my, news doesn\’t get around very fast here in the
Delta Quadrant – – Didn\’t you know? B\’Elanna and Harry are
getting married, and Chakotay and Captain Janeway are an item – –
due in no small part to me and Tom Paris.\” grinned Emily
ruthlessly, taking advantage of Seska\’s shock and kicking the
vial out of her outstretched hand, grabbing it in her hand as she
slipped down dexterously. \”All those hours of physical training
with Tuvok really paid off,\” she smirked.

Seska stood up, her face contorted in fury. \”Enough! I\’ll
deal with you with or without that virus, you little…!!\”

Emily edged from the snarling woman, who was backing her
into a tree. \”Now Now, no need for such language, Madame
Seska…\” but her voice wavered slightly.

\”Begone, Lizard Woman!\” a small voice said, the owner of
the voice obscured by Seska\’s form. Seska immediately tightened,
but she dropped her hands and rushed from the glade into a nearby
shuttle, revealing … a girl, less than 12 years old. But the
girl was unlike any humanoid she\’d ever seen. Her face and feet
were decidedly feline, with large, pointed ears and large green
eyes. A small lock of hair was in a braid down her back, and she
gripped a phaser with decidedly human hands and limbs, although
they were covered with soft grey fur. She wore a long belted
tunic of a very modern make, but they were threadbare, with
several patches and small rents. It was easy to discern from the
way she flattened her ears, lashed her long tail, and her pupils
had narrowed into thin black slits that she wasn\’t very happy
just then.

\”Who are you?\” she asked, pocketing her phaser.

\”I was about to ask you the same thing. My name is Cadet
Emily Kathryn Quetit Friedman. I am a cadet aboard the starship
Voyager.\”

\”I am Sibyyl Ol\’via. I am one of the Protectors of the
Felisian colony here – – this is my section to patrol.\”

Though she was very feline in appearance, Emily could tell
she wasn\’t much older than her. \”But you\’re so – – young!\”

\”On the contrary, I am one of the older ones.\”

\”How old is your – – oldest?\”

\”When we were brought here, Ahnna A\’hndreeah was fourteen
rotations old.\”

\”Rotations – – is that like a year?\”

\”A rotation is approximately 13 changes of the moon.\”

\”I see… I must report back to my ship now, but I will
return, Protector Ol\’via.\”

\”Mother speed, friend Emily.\”

Emily looked at her, wondering if the translator was
working right, then tapped her comm badge, calling, \”Friedman to
Voyager.\”

Chakotay looked at Janeway only briefly before slapping his
own comm badge in reply. \”What is it, Cadet?\”

\”Request for an early beam out – – I just encountered an
alien who saved my life, and I think you might want to know the
particulars.\”

\”Of course, Cadet.\” nodded Janeway, turning to Harry. \”You
heard her. Beam her out immediately.\” She tapped her comm
badge. \”Janeway to senior staff. Emergency meeting in the
briefing room.\”

-31-

Emily was in the Briefing room before an expectant group of
officers a heartbeat later, breathing hard.

\”Yes?\” said Janeway expectantly.

Emily took a deep breath. \”While I was collecting samples
for MR. Neelix,\” Emily practically spat out the word \”Mr.\”, then
continued on saying, \”I was attacked by Seska.\”

Chakotay stood up from his seat. \”Seska! Are you sure?\”

\”How many Cardassians that can recognize your tattoo and my
face on the spot do you know in the Delta Quadrant, Commander?\”
said Emily sarcastically. \”Anyway, she was wielding what she
claimed to be a hypo full of her own patented lethal toxin, but I
managed to knock it out of her hands and retrieve it,\” She
produced the little silver bottle and placed it in Chakotay\’s
hand, then elaborated, \”But she had me in a corner and was about
to do me in when this little feline girl wielding a phaser comes
in and scares her off. I get in a conversation with the girl,
who\’s name is Sibyyl Ol\’via, and she tells me that she is a
Protector in a civilization in which the oldest member is 14 – –
and presumably looks it.\”

\”What…?\” gasped Janeway, looking at Chakotay and Emily
alternately.

\”Feline?\” queried Tuvok calmly.

\”Yes, Lieutenant – – they are decidedly cat-like. But the
real issue is that we\’re dealing with a race of Lost Boys,
Captain!\” said Emily.

\”But these \”Lost Boys\” presumably have Warp technology – –
or at least phasers.\” interjected Chakotay.

\”So how does the Prime Directive apply here?\” asked Paris.

\”Well, they\’ve already seen us, Captain.\” added Emily,
seating herself on a small stool placed at the huge table for
her. \”I suggest we send someone to talk to them – – they might
be able to help us collect the dilithium.\”

\”Mr. Neelix, do you know anything about these people?\”
asked Janeway.

\”Err – – no, Captain. No one even knew these people
existed here – – they must have come here fairly recently. As I
said, as far as anyone knew, this was an unpopulated planet.\”

\”All right then. Cadet, you\’re the youngest crewmember on
board, you\’ll relate better to them than any of the rest of us.
We\’ll keep you on emergency beam-out status the entire time.
Your job will be to begin to discuss the possibility of getting
some of their dilithium.\”

\”Yes, Captain.\”

\”You leave in one hour. Dismissed.\”

-32-

\”Nervous?\”

Emily looked up from the PADD she was reading aimlessly and
wrinkled her nose at the smirking blonde man holding a cup of
tomato soup in one hand, the other hand on his hip. \”No, I
always enjoy soothing my thrashing internal organs with
caffeine.\”

\”Hey, what\’s with the attitude, Chaquita?\” grinned Paris.

\”I thought I told you not to call me that, Paris.\”

\”Hey, stick with what works, \’Kita.\”

\”Whatever – – any tips on this little diplomatic
excursion?\”

\”Nope – – never was good at that stuff – – ask Captain
Janeway, she\’s a real pro.\”

\”Already did – – and Chakotay, too.\”

\”Chakotay? – – he\’s not my first choice for a diplomatic
mentor, \’Kita.\”

\”Hey – – don\’t diss my dad, Paris.\”

\”Who, me?\”

Emily shook her head. \”Well, I\’d better get to the
transporter room… wish me luck.\”

\”You\’re Janeway\’s daughter, \’Kita – – you don\’t need it.\”

Janeway met the girl in the corridor outside of the Mess
Hall. \”Nervous?\”

Emily smiled devilishly. \”Now why would I bother with such
an illogical emotion like that, Captain?\”

\”Sometimes I think all that training with Tuvok has worked
TOO well.\”

\”TOO well, Captain?\” said Emily sardonically.

\”B\’Elanna was right – – you do have Chakotay\’s twisted
sense of humor.\”

\”Which makes me all the more lovable.\” grinned Emily,
nudging Janeway.

The doors swooshed open as Janeway covered her mouth with
one hand, a smile very evident underneath the disguising fingers.
The officer at the console stiffened still more, and Chakotay
walked over to the two with a worried smile. Emily hugged
Janeway and Chakotay, who whispered, \”Remember, there\’s an
emergency beam-out on you the entire time, Lea.\”

\”Chill, Chakotay, I\’ll be FINE.\” smiled Emily, stepping on
the platform.

Chakotay hugged the girl one more time, brushing a stray
wisp of hair from over her tattoo, smiling paternally. \”Just be
careful.\”

\”Yes sir.\” she smiled, flashing a peace sign as she
disappeared in a stream of blue plasma.

-34-

Emily rematerialized outside of a thicket of trees. She
turned around, and found Sibyyl standing in front of her. \”You
returned.\” she said.

\”Yes… may I speak to your leader?\” she said, eyeing the
phaser slung recklessly from her hip.

\”Do you carry a weapon?\” she asked suspiciously, eyeing her
tricorder.

\”No – – this is a scientific device.\” she said.

\”Very well – – you have shown no aggression towards us, so
you may speak to Ahnna.\”

\”Lead on.\”

Sibyyl led her through a maze of buildings constructed of a
sort of bricks, only smaller and lighter, constructed so that the
small children, which clustered around with wide eyes fixed on
her, that built them could lift them into place easily. The
doors were large and very strong-looking, and the windows were
high and small. Emily wondered why, but before she could ask,
Sibyyl gestured wildly, then pointed toward a tall tree and began
to climb. Emily looked up at the tree and the agile girl that
was quickly scrambling up it. A fleeting look of anxiety crossed
her face, but she crossed herself quickly and followed the girl
up.

When they reached the top, Emily looked around in surprise.
In addition to the small village nestled in the thicket far
below, they had built several fortresses amongst the tops of the
trees. The huge paw prints, not from any of the village\’s
inhabitants, that made all this necessary were much more visible
from above, as well as the small faces rapidly appearing from out
of nowhere. The tree they had climbed led up to the largest of
these lofty structures, from which emerged a girl of medium
build. Her eyes were very blue, surrounded by an amber pelt, and
she wore a shirt and pants of the same threadbare make as Sibyyl.
A phaser hung from her own belt, and her long tuft of hair was
tied back with a small string. Her boots were obviously old, and
a size too large for her feet.

\”Ahnna, this is Emily Friedman of the starship Voyager.\”
said Sibyyl.

\”You have a starship?\” said Ahnna bluntly.

\”I don\’t – – but my people do.\”

\”We had a starship once – – that was how we got here.\”

\”I\’d like to hear how you got here, Ahnna.\”

\”Come.\”

With that Ahnna grasped a rope that hung off a branch,
sliding down it swiftly. Sibyyl did the same, and Emily,
crossing herself yet again, took the rope in her own hands. It
wasn\’t rough – – it was uncommonly smooth, in fact – – and she
slid down easily, alighting with a small bounce. Then the two
girls led her through their village, running swiftly until they
reached an open expanse of meadow. There Emily saw an
astonishing sight: a starship, the size of two large runabouts,
mangled in the tall grass. It had been there for a while: weeds
had begun to overgrow it.

\”Is this how you got here?\”

\”Yes – – we were on that starship, a group of orphans being
taken to new homes on Tyden Prime, when our starship crashed, for
some reason we do not know, and landed here. The only two adults
died in the crash, and I have tried to look after the rest of us
since that time.\”

\”And when was that?\”

\”Several rotations ago – – I am now sixteen rotations.\”

Emily gasped, wondering how SHE could lead so many people
so much younger than her for two years, then remembered Janeway\’s
directive. She turned to Ahnna and asked, \”There is a large
deposit of dilithium near here. I have come to ask your
permission to bring people here to excavate it. We promise not
to bother you.\”

A small girl, who Emily had not noticed until that moment,
lifted her head and asked hopefully, \”Are there adults on your
ship?\”

Emily smiled. \”Yes – – in fact, I am the only child aboard
that ship.\”

\”Can they come HERE, Ahnna?\” piped up a little boy with
wide brown eyes and soft gold fur.

Ahnna looked up. \”I would like to meet your people,
Emily.\”

\”I\’m sure they\’d love to meet you. But I must go now and
talk to them. I will return.\”

\”Farewell, Emily.\”

Emily smiled, tapping her comm badge. \”Friedman to
Voyager. One to beam up.\”

The small group of children were amazed at how the funny-
looking girl with no fur disappeared in a shimmer of blue.

-35-

Emily reappeared in the transporter room back on Voyager to
the same sight that she had left it in: Janeway and Chakotay
standing before the platform, the same officer at the console,
the same worried expression on Chakotay\’s face mirrored ever so
slightly in Janeway\’s as she reappeared intact.

\”A smashing success, Captain. They agreed to begin
excavation as soon as you\’re ready, and they even want to meet
you.\” she grinned, eyeing the relief on their faces and the color
gradually coming back into Chakotay\’s face.

\”I\’m very pleased, Cadet. Good work.\” smiled Janeway.

Emily hopped down from the platform with a very un-
Starfleet bounce and began to follow Janeway and Chakotay out of
the room, hands behind her back. As the doors swished open
before them, she added, \”They colonized this portion of the
planet when their starship crashed here. According to their
leader, they\’ve been here for about two years. They were orphans
being taken to new homes when their starship crashed. They led
me to the wreckage – – I think that\’s where they got their
weapons, as well as their clothes. It\’s amazing they\’ve
developed the way they have – – they have fortresses and shelters
– – it\’s astounding.\”

\”You make a very good case, Cadet.\” smiled Janeway. \”It
would be interesting to speak with the leader behind all of
this.\”

\”From what I could tell, they\’ve made a good life for
themselves without adults – – like a real life \”Lord of the
Flies\” or \”Peter Pan\” – – but I saw evidence that they have to
fight for it.\”

\”What do you mean?\”

\”I saw huge prints in the ground, and the shelters they\’ve
built are literally strongholds, with tiny windows and thick
doors. Something BIG lives on that planet, Captain, and I want
to find out what it is.\”

Janeway smiled at the small, serious face that looked up at
her with that uncanny twist of her lower lip. \”It seems you\’re
very eager to help these children, Emily.\”

\”Yes, Captain.\”

\”And so you shall – – as soon as we begin excavation, I\’d
like to go down and meet this girl- – and you will come with me.\”

\”Really?\”

\”Of course.\”

\”Thank you, Captain.\” It wasn\’t much, and wasn\’t
accompanied by an exuberant smile or a peal of happy laughter,
but the evident, if subtle, gratitude was much sweeter than any
zealous platitude she might have spouted a few months ago.
Janeway nodded softly, and Emily disappeared quietly into the ebb
and flow of the ship.

Janeway smiled long after the girl disappeared. She looked
to Chakotay, who had a similar expression on his own features.
He really did take a fatherly interest in her continual growth
and maturation under their care, the first to praise her and yet
the first to nip her small imperfections in the bud. Although
she strove to achieve perfection in both her guardians\’ eyes, it
was Chakotay who was the first to hear of her small complaints
and victories, the one who always had a sympathetic ear out, the
one who, as Emily had once said, \”had her back\” – – whatever THAT
meant.

In the beginning, it seemed illogical for the loud, brash
young girl to choose the very man who was her exact opposite for
her mentor, but after the months crept by, she grew out of her
Parisian manner and became very much like Chakotay in her calm,
collected demeanor – – in fact, it was a standard joke among the
Bridge crew, mainly one Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris, to use a
smaller, feminine version of the Commander\’s name when referring
or speaking to the young Cadet: \”Chaquita\” or just \”Kita.\” It
infuriated and flattered the two alternately, depending on who
was saying it – – Chakotay had come very close to decking Paris
when he had first mentioned it, but stopped himself before he
made the inevitable contact with the younger man\’s nose. But
after that, Tom had had the distinct feeling the father and
daughter were secretly laughing at him, which, in his perverse
way, made his use of the nickname all the more frequent.

But even miniature shamans need fleshing out, or they
become flat and uninteresting. As often as she could be found in
the holodecks or in the first officer\’s office after her daily
lessons, the young Cadet could be located in the captain\’s ready
room or on the Bridge watching the movements of a smoothly-
running starship first hand. There she also absorbed and
observed the traits that made Janeway a good captain: courage,
determinism, open-mindedness, and a sense of adventure, all of
which flowed through her veins and only multiplied when she was
around those with them. Her eyes always glowed a bit brighter
and she walked a little more purposefully after those stints,
which pleased Janeway immensely.

She sighed a little as they walked, causing Chakotay to
turn out of his own reverie. He arched an eyebrow in question
and Janeway smiled. \”I was just thinking about Emily.\”

\”Great minds, eh Captain?\” grinned Chakotay. \”I was just
thinking about her too. You must really think she\’s got a good
head on her shoulders to have her accompany you to meet this
girl.\”

\”She has a good teacher.\” smiled Janeway.

\”She has good genes.\” smirked Chakotay, returning the
compliment. \”Did you know she was in the room when Neelix was
begging you not to let her go? According to Kes, she pounced on
him and scared the hell out of him after you left, but she didn\’t
lay a hand on him.\”

\”Oh gods…\” sighed Janeway, shaking her head in mock-
resignation. \”At least she didn\’t kill the poor little man.\”

\”I think Neelix had more damage done to his ego than
anything else.\”

Janeway looked up to the impenetrable grey ceiling, rolling
her eyes. \”I\’m on a ship full of swelled male heads for seventy-
five years: Paris, Neelix, you…\”

\”Me?\”

Janeway only keyed in the lock to her quarters, a huge
smile on her face as the door slid closed.

-36-

Janeway and Emily left the next morning before Chakotay\’s
shift began. He hadn\’t even gotten up yet, and when he did, he
was more than a little confused, but there was work to be done.
The first away teams were sent down to the surface, and Chakotay
accompanied them, burying himself in the task of helping B\’Elanna
and her teams collect suitable dilithium. After a few hours, he
left the work in Torres\’s able hands and went down a trail to
where Neelix and Kes had resumed their collection of various
fruits and edible plant life with the help of a group of the
native adolescents.

After surveying their progress, nodding calmly as the
zealous Talaxian blustered about in his usual bravado, then
turning to Kes after he had moved on to get the hard facts, which
were very favorable as well. He looked around at the bucolic
scene: uniformed crewmen working side by side with bright
Felisian youths as if plucked from a 24th century version of some
pastoral poem. He smiled to himself, walking among the trees
laden with life, some growing on the branches and others merely
dangling from them. The trees gave way to low shrubs, then a
large expanse of grassland where, in the distance, the outline of
the hull of a starship could be seen. He remembered that this
was probably the ship that the Felisians had come here in, and
ventured closer.

He was not surprised at the stillness that surrounded the
area, nor by the fact that the plant-covered ship looked more
like a small hill than a starship. In fact, he wasn\’t much
surprised by anything until he saw the bright gleam of gold at
the top of the ship. Anything bright would have been tarnished
long ago, so it probably wasn\’t a piece off the original remains.
He walked closer, his footstep almost silent in the hushed
atmosphere of the meadow. Finding footholds in the sides of the
wreckage, he climbed slowly to the top, about 15 or 20 meters off
the ground.

Then he smiled, shaking his head. The brightness was
Emily\’s hair, the bright sunshine transforming the dark waves
into gold as her \”mother\” \’s did so well. In fact, she looked
very much like Kathryn as she slept on the top of the rubble,
even as she looked like him when awake. She lay with her head in
the crooks of her arms, which were curled around a warm, smooth
dome protrusion in the top of the structure, her knees curled
close to the dome. She hadn\’t snuck off in the middle of her
shift – – she was in civilian jeans and a light sweater – – and
after the excitement of the past few days, he didn\’t blame her
one bit for sneaking off by herself.

He chuckled a little, preparing to climb down and leave the
poor little girl to her respite, but her head lifted slowly, her
blue eyes blinking open, still slightly unfocused as she pulled
her legs under her, staring blankly ahead for a few moments.
After a few more minutes, the pieces fell together and she
nodded, \”She\’s over there,\” gesturing to a broad expanse of field
that lay further beyond where they sat.

\”Who?\”

\”The Captain – – she\’s down with Ahnna and a few of the
young Felisians in the field. I figured you were looking for
her.\” she said frankly.

Chakotay stared out at the beauty of the wilderness that
surrounded them. \”I don\’t think she wants to see me.\”

\”Excuse me – – who are you and what have you done with
Commander Chakotay?\” said Emily, nudging him in the arm a little.
\”Or have I been asleep longer than an hour and you\’ve gotten
married AND divorced and now hate each other\’s guts instead of
loving each other insanely?\”

\”You left without even saying good-bye this morning.\”

\”Is that all?\” asked Emily. \”I\’m sorry – – that was my
fault. I dragged the Captain down there – – she wanted to wait
to say good-bye, but you know me. I can be pretty persuasive
when I want to be – – I get it from you.\”

Chakotay smiled, rumpling her already mussed hair
affectionately, then sobering. \”It\’s not JUST that – – it\’s – -\”

Emily nodded. Some things with some people just don\’t need
words. She turned and pointed at a figure, incalculably small
from their vantage point, with hair that glowed gold in the
sunshine and was clothed in some soft fabric that flowed around
her, combining with the rippling grass to lend an ethereal grace
to her beauty. The small children had left her side, and she
walked alone, but the tilt of her head and the directness of her
movement suggested this was not a permanent state. Emily smiled,
pointing to her. \”To steal a line from Tom Paris, \’If you ever
doubt yourself, look into her eyes. You\’ll never doubt yourself
again\’.\” She smiled again before slipping noiselessly down the
side of the ship and then disappearing, Puck-like, in a familiar
shimmer of blue.

Chakotay also descended from the perch, but on the opposite
side, walking towards where he had seen Janeway from his lofty
perch a few moments before. She saw him quite suddenly, her eyes
opening very wide when she saw him. She quickened her pace a
little, meeting him in a few minute\’s time. He smiled in
greeting, and she returned his smile. \”I was… looking for
you.\” she said. \”Emily didn\’t give me a chance to find you this
morning.\”

Chakotay grinned. \”I know – – I understand.\” More than
anything, he wanted to touch her hair, apologize for his own
behavior as of late, but instinct told him it was still a sore
subject, so he said, \”I checked up on Neelix and B\’Elanna\’s
teams. They\’re making wonderful progress, thanks to the help of
the Felisians.\”

Janeway nodded. \”Ahnna is a very mature young woman – –
she runs this colony very well.\”

\”Did you have a interesting conversation with her?\”

\”Very. She\’s very literate, considering all she\’s been
through. They\’re very content here – – they have everything they
need.\”

\”Amazing. They\’ve bee helping our away teams gather
supplies, too. We should be ready to bring the last of the away
teams up in a few days – – the reserves we\’ve gotten will last at
least a year, with plenty to use for the wedding.\”

\”Poor Harry and B\’Elanna. We had to postpone the wedding
until at least next week for this. It\’s good to know they won\’t
have to wait much longer.\” said Janeway, gazing in the direction
of the horizon, as the distant sun set even as the closer sun
beat down from above. \”I really should be getting back.\” she
murmured.

Chakotay reached for her hand, but at the passive look on
her face he stopped short. \”I should, too. There\’s quite a few
reports I should have written hours ago.\”

Janeway smiled a little. \”Don\’t worry. I understand – –
it\’s a beautiful place. It\’s easy to lose track of time here.
Take all the time you need.\” She turned to step a little closer,
but Tuvok chose that oppertune time to page her.

\”Tuvok to Janeway. Are you ready to beam back aboard?\”

\”Yes, Tuvok.\” sighed Janeway, and she dematerialized before
she even had a chance to press her fingers to her lips in
agitation.

Chakotay sighed and beamed out a few minutes later, after
watching one sun set slowly on the horizon and thinking about too
many things to be healthy.

-37-

Janeway tossed on her side, eyeing the empty pillow next to
her. Instinctively, she grabbed it up and buried her face in it,
remembering the long day as she inhaled the unique smell that
still permeated it. She had wanted to apologize for – –
everything – – but Chakotay seemed to have changed his mind. And
herself? She loved him – – of course she did, more than she had
thought possible. She used to think he loved her the same way –
– but after that horrible confrontation at breakfast what seemed
an eternity ago, she was horribly afraid he had given up on her.
She shuddered as her mind recoiled from that grotesque thought,
clutching the pillow still tighter, but the horrible visions
still permeated her dreams and nightmares.

Chakotay didn\’t sleep much better. His guide refuse to
comfort him in his gloom, instead scolding him for a thousand
things he could have done differently, until he realized it
wasn\’t his guide\’s voice – – it was his own. He tossed onto his
back, remembering Lea\’s words, \”Listen up, Mr. Former – Maquis –
Hero, you are acting like an IDIOT!! YOU may not care if you
live alone for the rest of your life – – which, by the way, is a
CROCK – – but out there is a woman who gave up everything to fall
in love with you, and I sure as hell am not going to give up
until you guys are back together!! You two are my parents, and I
love you both dearly, but you are seriously BONKERS if you think
we\’re going to let a little misunderstanding screw this thing
up!!\”

He told himself it wasn\’t his fault – – she had turned away
from him – – but he could see Emily rolling her eyes in his mind.
\”Takes two to tango, Chakotay.\”

Chakotay stared up at the ceiling for a long time, until
exhaustion overcame him and he fell into a fitful sleep.

-38-

A week later, Voyager, fully restocked, pulled the last few
away teams off the surface, and fell to the task of celebrating
the first Voyager wedding in full grandeur as they orbited the
Felisian planet. Every tradition that was humanoidly possible
was included, from traditional Ocampa presents of flowers and
sacred stones (provided by Kes and Chakotay respectively), and
multiple parties before the event: a huge day-long celebration
that everyone attended, including most of the adolescent
Felisians, a small rehearsal dinner for the wedding party, as
well as a bachelor and bachelorette party for the groom and
bride, the former hosted by Tom and the latter by Kes. To her
great annoyance, Kes did not allow Emily to attend the last one,
so she sulked until Chakotay promised to leave Harry\’s party
early (VERY early, Janeway had said, according to the Voyager
voyeurs) and B\’Elanna promised to tell her everything, much to
Janeway\’s chagrin.

The merrymaking had made the week go by very fast, and
almost as soon as it had begun, it was ending and the wedding was
at hand. Dispite the delays, postponements and the week of
preparation, the wedding still felt, like most weddings do, like
a huge last-minute rush of food preparation, timing, and a
thousand and one details that threatened to overwhelm the hapless
senior staff. But nevertheless, as most weddings do, it went off
without a hitch.

It was as the first wedding aboard Voyager should have
been: The entire crew, along with Ahnna and a few other
Felisians, was in some way shape or form present: the entire
senior staff was in the hydroponics garden were the ceremony was
to take place, along with most everyone that was off duty at the
time. The Beta shift was severely understaffed, as crewmen snuck
in to participate in the happy event. The rest of the crewmen
watched from various viewscreens at their stations.

The rites were simple in and of themselves: by B\’Elanna\’s
own request, there were few references to the rather violent
Klingon mating ritual made, and for the most part the ceremony
was Terran in content. Emily, dressed in a soft blue dress, led
a small chain consisting of herself, Kes, and a young Maquis
named Felicity whom B\’Elanna had befriended years ago, along with
Paris, Neelix, and the Doctor, for whom the bride and groom had
especially prepared a portable holographic projector so he could
attend. Emily sat on a tall flower-wreathed stool, pulling a
large guitar from behind the stool as the other five lined up on
either side of a small platform, where Janeway and Chakotay stood
in dress uniform, looking straight ahead down the aisle, flanked
by rows of smiling people. Harry stood just in front of them,
looking down the aisle with evident impatience, fidgeting so
violently that his best man, one Thomas Eugene Paris, had to lean
over more than once to silence him.

The beginnings of a soft, foreign melody being plucked out
fluidly on a golden-bodied guitar quelled his agitation, along
with the sight of the beautiful young woman in a mist of white
walking towards him. Paris grinned at him, then at Kes, then
Emily, who was too lost in the music and the atmosphere she was
engulfed in to see his smile soften, then return to his serious
expression as B\’Elanna took her place beside Harry, encircled by
their friends.

Janeway held up her hands to silence the approving murmurs
of the assembly. She lowered her hands and then her head
slightly, the soft strains of music becoming whisper quiet, a
strange stirring in her own heart as she looked at the two
lovers. As Captain and their friend, she officiated the ceremony
in the legal sense, a simple series of questions with only one
true answer: \”Yes,\” which was repeated with simple trust and
honesty as they looked into each other\’s eyes. She smiled
warmly, laying her hands on their shoulders, then looked behind
her and drew back.

Chakotay caught the unuttered words of encouragement in
Janeway\’s eyes as he took his place before the couple and felt a
surge of confidence. He looked at his old friends, but only
vaguely saw the awe and reverence as he began the speech that had
culminated in him walking out of her quarters what seemed so long
ago.

\”\’We gather here today to celebrate as a family the miracle
of love and its fulfillment through eternal union.\”

Even as he blessed them, the dark, lovely face of the half-
Klingon bride was replaced by a still lovelier face and form that
stood close beside him in dress uniform, listening with burning
shame as that ungodly benediction was pronounced again.

\”Here, on this ship, far from what we thought mattered
most, we have slowly come to acknowledge Voyager as our home, as
well as each other as family and friends, and finally, as these
two and so many others onboard represent, lovers. Today we join
the first of hopefully many souls together as one in the most
sacred and beautiful of bonds.\”

Even Paris was not so misty as to not be slightly aware of
Janeway\’s face crimsoning as Chakotay began the oration, then
cooling and turning to look at him about halfway through with a
small tear trickling unnoticed down her cheek.

\”Bless you two, now one by the grace of the Divine Spirit,
and may you continue in peace and love through each other\’s
strength, now and forever.\”

B\’Elanna and Harry looked up, and as Chakotay and Janeway
smiled down on them, the two shared their first kiss as husband
and wife, the melody swelling and surrounding them almost
tangibly, completing a moment torn from some ancient movie, with
the two newly-married people kissing surrounded and encompassed
by love, especially in the two that stood behind and above them,
side by side, turning ever-so-slowly towards each other as
B\’Elanna and Harry turned to face their friends, walking back
down the aisle, followed closely by the wedding party and the
guests as they headed for the reception in the holodeck.

Janeway didn\’t follow them, choosing instead to linger in
the beautiful surroundings of the garden, which flung scents of
earth and life as she walked. She wound around the overgrown
containers, stopping as she reached an particularly beautiful
spot. Containers full of alien flowers and Tuvok\’s hybrid
orchids had been set on the ground, filling this particular spot
with aerial fragrance. The flowers foamed over their various
pots, curling towards the feet of the gorgeous white marble of
Emily\’s statue.

The figures were life-size, and uncannily lifelike as they
looked out with an unchanging view of life. Janeway touched the
faces: Harry and B\’Elanna, who remained in an unchanging embrace,
as happy now as they had been then. Emily was planning to carve
a small band on each of their intertwined ring fingers. Neelix
and Kes, a little older but still in love. The unaging Doctor,
Tom, who would in a way always be about ten years old, Emily, who
grew everyday under her and Chakotay\’s influence.

She and Chakotay.

She touched their faces, lingering on the lips of
Chakotay\’s marble visage, then stepping back to look at them as
if looking in a mirror rather than a statue. She loved him…
had realized that anew when Chakotay had blessed B\’Elanna and
Harry a few minutes ago… had realized she\’d behaved foolishly
when he\’d practically asked her to marry him. And because of her
inane skittishness, she\’d walk on pins and needles with him for
the rest of her life.

\”I\’m a fool.\” she said to herself, the words echoing
through the hydroponics bay and slapping her with their truth all
over again. She sighed, then turned to go to the holodeck. The
tall figure standing before her was no statue, and she gave an
embarrassed gasp, but she didn\’t ask how much he had heard.

Sensing her embarrassment, he in turn did not ask why she
felt the fool, and she felt a little better. He did not ask why
she wasn\’t already at the reception, perhaps because then he
would have to explain why he was not there as well. Taking her
hand, he merely guided her to the holodeck with a rhetorical,
\”Going to the holodeck?\” No Captain, no Kathryn, no names
whatsoever. She didn\’t know whether to be relived or frightened
by this, so she merely nodded and allowed herself to be led to
the reception.

When they got there, Janeway was reminded of a ghost story
she had been told once at camp about a ghost with a red-hot coal
in its breast instead of a heart. She hugged the happy couple
and congratulated them, made the traditional rounds expected of a
Captain, then felt so nauseous that she pleaded the lateness of
the hour (although it was scarcely 2200) and retreated to her
quarters. Her exit did not go unnoticed: Emily moved to follow
her, but Paris had grabbed her arm and whirled her into a group
of dancing couples before she could protest. When she opened her
mouth to complain, Paris nodded toward the tall figure rapidly
striding toward the door, and Emily quickly clamped her mouth
closed, but the worried frown didn\’t lift much.

\”Do you think they\’ll solve whatever\’s wrong, Paris?\” she
asked, trying to look over his shoulder and twisting to look
behind her alternately. No matter what those ditzy Delaney
sisters said, Tom Paris could NOT dance to save his soul.

Paris grinned at the worried expression on her face in
profile. \”They always do, don\’t they, Kita?\”

Emily didn\’t feel much relieved, but she poked him in the
arm in false joviality. \”I suppose so… and don\’t call me
that.\”

-39-

Chakotay scarcely had enough time to slip in the turbolift
before the doors slid closed. He saw the preoccupied expression
on her face and touched her shoulder, causing her to look up,
reddening furiously. \”Halt turbolift.\” he said instinctively.
\”What\’s wrong, Kathryn?\”

Janeway looked up, looking like she\’d been given a pardon
by the governor a minute before midnight. \”I… I\’m sorry.\”

Chakotay frowned. \”Sorry? For what?\”

\”For acting like an idiot.\”

\”It\’s not your fault, Kathryn. I shouldn\’t have gone off
like that.\”

\”It\’s no one\’s fault – – it was just a misunderstanding.\”
said Janeway, resting her hand on his arm. She looked up and
smiled. \”I love you.\”

Chakotay smiled, wrapping an arm around her waist. \”Then I
didn\’t blow a month\’s replicator rations for nothing.\” he
grinned, producing a small box.

Janeway didn\’t even wait for him to open it. She looked up
at Chakotay and kissed him happily.

-40-

The next morning, Chakotay woke his fiancee early. She
blinked her eyes open lazily, murmuring, \”Duty call already?\”

He shook his head, smiling as he brushed a few strands of
hair from off her half-opened eyelids. \”I just thought we might
want to pay a visit to Cadet Friedman. She deserves to know, and
we didn\’t get around to it last night.\”

Janeway at up, nodding. \”Good idea.\”

It was 0545, and the little rooms were very still and quiet
as they entered from the doorway connected to her quarters.
Chakotay passed through it, smirking, \”Wish we had one of those
connecting to my quarters.\”

Janeway pushed him through gently, whispering, \”We will
soon enough.\”

They passed through the tiny living area to the still
tinier bedroom, where Emily slept soundly, her head buried in a
soft pillow and her flannel-clad figure wound up a maze of
blankets and sheets and coils of black-brown hair, with a small
smile on her lips, as if she were dreaming a very pleasant dream.
Chakotay had second thoughts about disturbing her – -it had been
a long while since any of them had had a good night\’s sleep – –
but he still knelt down and shook her shoulder. She twisted
groggily very much as Janeway did, and she blinked sleep from her
eyes as she smiled sleepily up at them. Chakotay grinned. \”Hey
there, Quetit.\”

\”Hey yourself. It\’s hours before duty call, C – – who
died, was born, or got married?\”

Chakotay rumpled her hair. \”No one – – yet.\”

Emily made a face. \”Ha ha. No, really.\”

Chakotay grabbed her hand and gave her a hearty mock-
handshake. \”Congratulations. You\’re officially adopted.\”

Emily quirked an eyebrow. \”By who?\”

Janeway appeared from behind Chakotay, smoothing the girl\’s
hair. \”Us.\”

\”But you guys can\’t both adopt me, you aren\’t – – \” Emily
stood up on the bed, nearly knocking her head with Chakotay\’s.
She looked from Chakotay to Janeway and back again rapidly,
saying, \”You guys are getting – – ?\” Janeway nodded. Emily
grinned, jumping from the bed to encircle her arms around
Chakotay\’s neck in a short leap. \”Wow!!\” she cried, beaming.
She hopped down, sitting back down on the bed, her face propped
up in her hands, looking gloomy.

They sat down on either side of her, each placing an arm on
her shoulder, looking concerned. \”What\’s wrong, Lea? I thought
you wanted us to get married.\” asked Chakotay, placing his
forehead on hers.

Emily looked up at him, tragedy written on her face. \”If
I\’m the Captain and Commander\’s daughter, then…\”

\”What?\”

\”Then I can\’t jump Tom Paris!\” she frowned, her eyes
dancing with ill-suppressed laughter.

Janeway wagged a finger at her in mock-severity. \”You
can\’t do that anyway, young lady.\”

Emily leaned her head on Janeway\’s satin shoulder, smiling.
\”That\’s my mom.\”

************************************************************
PART FOUR: Well, THAT Explains It – –
************************************************************

-1-

\”I can\’t get out of dodge!!\”

Paris swerved, crying, \”Direct hit!! All primary power
off-line!!\”

A slim brown fist slammed the console. \”DAMN!!\”

A huge explosion filled the shuttle, the entire craft was
blanketed in darkness.

Paris grinned as the lights came up again, illuminating the
slim figure gripping the sides of her chair as she sat beside
him. \”Congradulations, Kita – – you\’re dead.\”

The dark oval face that had been staring angrily out ino
space swivled sharply on her neck, whipping her dark braid over
her shoulder. She glared pure animosity at the aggrivating man,
her face flushing darkly and her eyes glittering electric blue.
The expression was extremely familiar to the pilot, but on an
older, masculine, less lenient face: her adopted father.

Cadet Emily Kathryn Quetit Friedman, formerly of Houston,
Texas, circa 1996, flashed Tom the evil eye. She had gotten over
most of her original distaste of the sandy-headed man, but
sometimes he crossed the line. \”Very funny, Paris. Now can you
explain what went wrong?\”

Paris leaned back in his seat, his grin spreading until the
man looked like a damned Cheshire cat. \”Quite frankly, Em,
you\’re a whiz with ship\’s systems and… less than proficient at
piloting.\”

The line was crossed. Emily stood up, snapping, \”End
simulation,\” sending Paris to the floor as his chair disappeared.
Emily paced, snarling, \”That\’s why YOU\’RE supposed to be helping
me – – and I don\’t see much help – – just a bunch of smart-ass
comments.\”

Paris was used to this behavior. On more than one occasion
it seemed that she became thirty years older than she actually
was and he was reduced to a teenage cadet again. She had an air
of maturity that wrapped about her at the most aggrivating times,
irritating him immeasurably while pleasing Chakotay enormously –
– maybe more so because he knew Paris hated it. Even long after
the tiff on the Bridge, the old wounds didn\’t heal completely.

He grinned nonetheless, smiling, \”Easy, Em – – maybe we
should continue this tommorow.\”

\”You\’re right – – I\’m not up to this tonight – – Because
QUITE FRANKLY, you\’re making me nausous, Paris.\” snapped Emily,
turning on one heel and stalking out of the room.

While Paris bemused the little spitfire\’s turning on him –
– AGAIN – – in the solitary comfort of Sandrine\’s, she made her
way to one of the few people she could always turn to, no matter
how minor her trouble.

The First Officer aboard the U.S.S. Voyager was finishing
up his daily reports when a familiar figure entered his office as
was her custom. She was not a tower of fury, or even as tower-
like as a five foot five – – oops, five foot six and a HALF, as
she was constantly reminding everyone (luckily, according to the
Doctor, Emily had the promise of increased hieght as she grew
older, as well as Janeway\’s gift of appearing bigger than she
really was in the meantime.) – – could have been.

On the contrary, she was, like always, slightly quiet and
somewhat reserved when she walked in, even if her customary smile
did not illuminate her features. She padded over to her usual
seat and proceeded to hug one of the neutral-clothed cushionsin a
vise-like grip while staring at the ceiling as is it was the most
fascinating architectural detail in the room. She didn\’t speak,
nor did she ask curiously what he was doing, nor did she do
anything but squeeze the cushion tightly and gaze upwards
intently, her mouth pressed into a thin line.

She was uncannily silent as Chakotay finished his last
report, waiting, alibet unusually quietly, like she always did
until he had a moment to spare for her. He laid the PADD aside,
resting his elbows on the desk and turning a paternal eye on the
solemn face that had removed its attention from the ceiling and
was now staring at him.

It wasn\’t her style to wear her heart on her sleeve for all
to see any more than it was of her guardians, but the anxiety in
her bright blue orbs that had turned them deep indigo wasn\’t hard
to decipher. \”What\’s the matter, Quetit?\”

Emily pulled herself into an upright sitting position,
looking frustratedly at Chakotay. \”There\’s no way I\’m going to
pass even first year exams, Chakotay!\”

\”Why? You\’re a genius with ship\’s systems – – Hell, you
can read the ship\’s mind – – and even Tuvok says you\’re doing
great, which is saying alot.\”

\”But I can\’t fly even a shuttle worth a damn, Chakotay.
I\’ve tried everything I know, but I can\’t pilot!\” she said
mournfully, without a trace of exaggeration in her tone.

She looked so lost and helpless, like a small animal caught
in trap that was just beyond its comprehension. He wanted to hug
and comfort her, but this particular animal was growing up and
needed to learn to tough it out – – besides, she had claws that,
thanks to Tuvok and B\’Elanna, she knew how to use.

\”You\’ll do fine, Lea… just do the best you can. I\’m sure
you\’ll do fine.\”

Emily nodded slightly, then looked up. \”But what if I
don\’t? Then you\’ll be ashamed of me.\”

Chakotay bored holes into her. \”Now you listen here, Emily
Kathryn Quetit Friedman, I would never be ashamed of you if you
tried your absolute best, and you\’d better remember that.\”

Emily smiled for the first time since she had entered the
room. It constantly amazed him how very different she looked
when she smiled: it positively transfigured her face, and she
looked very much like her adopted mother, dispite the dark
coloring and the tattoo. \”Yes, sir.\”

-2-

Emily internalized Chakotay\’s well-meant words, but the
fact she couldn\’t do something still rankled. But she didn\’t
take it out on poor Paris – – not intentionally, at least.

Paris was sauntering down the corridor to the holodecks
when he overheard a huge thwack, like flesh striking something
very hard and very fast. He snuck in towards the direction of
the sound, slipping his security override into the computer,
unable to supress his curiousity.

A large mass slammed into a mat from above Paris\’ head as
he entered. The lump, a large Bolian, blinked in amazement right
before he disappeared in a shimmer. He looked up, expecting
Tuvok or Chakotay or maybe B\’Elanna to look down from the ledge.
His eyes widened, then crinkled into a grin along with the rest
of his face as the slight figure dressed in white leapt down from
the ledge.

\”What are you doing in here, Paris?\” said Emily, shoving a
long wavy lock of dark brown hair back into her ponytail, her
blue eyes sparkling with amusement.

\”I heard the sound of brute force. I thought it was
Chakotay or someone… bigger.\”

Emily put her hands on her hips, smiling wryly. \”Oh?\”

Her tone was layered with challange, and Paris naturally
bristled at it. \”Ever tried a human foe, Kita?\”

\”I\’ve been practicing with Tuvok.\” she said airily, belying
the seriousness of the Vulcan\’s tutoring. She looked at Paris\’s
mischevious grin, adding disbelievingly, \”You aren\’t seriously
considering me fight YOU?\”

\”I never said that, Friedman.\”

Emily shrugged her shoulders. \”Whatever.\”

Paris bristled again: Emily always knew exactly which
buttons to push. \”You saying I\’m chicken?\”

\”I didn\’t say THAT, Paris.\” smiled Emily aggrivatingly.

Paris was on the defensive now: not a good idea, especially
with a kid who had the inherited talent of psyching her oponents
out. \”Well, ya wanna fight or not, Kita?\”

\”Sure.\”

\”Sure what, Quetit?\” a booming masculine voice echoed
behind them.

Emily turned around and beamed, running over to Chakotay
with a devilish gleam in her eyes. \”Paris wants to fight me, C.
IssOK?\”

Chakotay smoothed the girl\’s bedraggled dark hair, looking
up at Paris with a half-cocked eyebrow and a amused smile. \”Are
you sure, Paris? Are you even trained in martial arts?\”

Paris colored slightly, but he said breezily, \”I went
through the standard Starfleet defense courses.\”

Emily snickered. \”You know even better than I do that
\’Fleet defense courses only briefly cover martial arts. I\’ve
been studying with Chakotay and Tuvok for months.\”

But Paris was riled, and stubborn as hell. \”I didn\’t serve
umpteen months in the New Zealand Penal Colony for nothing,
missy.\”

Emily grinned, extending her hand. \”Fine… it\’s your
funeral. Tommorow , 1700 hours.\”

Paris shook her hand with a rather violent force. \”Deal.\”

Paris then turned and stalked defiantly out of the
holodeck, and Emily shook her head. \”Dork.\”

Chakotay grinned conspiratorially at his daughter.
\”Couldn\’t have said it better myself.\”

-3-

The next day, thanks to Neelix and Kes\’s publicity, as well
as Chakotay\’s more discreet broadcasting, a small crowd of off-
duty Alpha shift crewmen had gathered in the holodeck to watch
the fight. The entire senior staff had discussed and even placed
small bets on the upcoming tˆte-…-tˆte with avid interest at
Sandrine\’s the night before, its Parisian \”proprietor\” strangely
absent, the only word of him all night being word of mouth from
various observers that reported him running laps in the lower
decks, push ups in the gym, sit ups in his quarters (though the
source of that last little bit of information was never
uncovered).

Janeway shook her head as she entered the holodeck, looking
at Chakotay with a stern glare. \”I don\’t like this one bit,
Chakotay.\”

Chakotay smiled. \”She got him where it hurt – – his ego.\”

\”What if Tom wins?\”

\”Kathryn, he\’s been training one day, Emily\’s been working
with me and Tuvok for months.\”

\”But Tom\’s twice her age – – taller, stronger…\”

\”I wouldn\’t be so sure on that last one, Kathryn.\” grinned
Chakotay mysteriously.

They seated themselves beside Harry and B\’Elanna, who were
engaged in heated debate with Kes and the Doctor over who would
come out on top. Tuvok sat near the group, ramrod straight and
immobile as ever. Janeway and Chakotay immersesed themselves in
the discussion until a white clad figure stood, hands-on-hips
before them.

Janeway hugged Emily tightly, then set her away a little
and stared into the matching china-blue eyes. \”Are you sure you
want to do this?\”

Emily grinned. \”Come ON, Captain, he\’s toast. I\’ve been
taught by the best.\” she smiled in Chakotay and Tuvok\’s
direction.

\”If you are suggesting that Commander Chakotay and I are
the best in the field of martial arts, you are mistaken, Cadet
Friedman.\” interjected Tuvok.

Emily stepped away from her concerned parents and stood
before Tuvok, hands behind her back, leaning forward slightly.
\”Lieutenant Tuvok, may I make a suggestion?\”

\”Of course, Cadet.\”

\”Don\’t read too much into human compliments.\”

\”I never do, Cadet.\”

Emily opened her mouth to make another remark, but a sudden
wave of cheers, catcalls, and wolf whistles exploded through the
room. Paris sauntered in with a huge grin on his face. Emily\’s
own face turned stony. \”OK, lizard boy, I\’m gonna wipe that grin
right off your face.\”

Janeway was puzzled for a minute, then flushed rosily,
grasping Chakotay\’s hand a little tighter.

Paris basked in the glory for a few seconds, until a tap on
his shoulder jolted him back. \”Ready?\”

Paris smirked. \”Always.\”

A sudden hush, then a flurry of motion as the two began to
move in dance-like circles, kicking and jabbing in precise
circles, never quite making contact. Then Paris, impatient as
always, lunged wildly at Emily\’s midsection. Emily dodged
quickly, grabbing his outstretched foot and using his own
momentum to flip him.

Undaunted by the twinge of pain coursing up his leg, Paris
leapt up, vainly attempting a roundhouse but crashing 180 degrees
through. There was a sickening crunch as he fell backside first
onto the mat. Emily turned to the audience, shaking her head in
annoyance. \”It\’s over.\”

\”NO! It\’s not over! Let me get up… ohhh.\” moaned Paris
as he flopped back limply onto the mats.

Kes and the Doctor rushed over, Kes grabbing a medkit from
behind a panel. The Doctor looked up at the milling crowd.
\”Beam him to sickbay. I can\’t treat him here.\” He looked back
down at the writhing young man flailing to get up. \”Kes, I think
we\’re going to have to sedate him.\”

-4-

The Doctor turned to the worried mass of senior officers
with a sigh. \”Paris dies, no one\’s here. Paris breaks his
hipbone, the entire crew swarms in.\” he said wryly.

Emily mumbled, \”Abducting and screwing the Captain is not
exactly a brownie pointer either, Doc.\”

The Doctor turned sharply. \”What did you say, Cadet?\”

Emily opened her eyes very wide, reddening furiously.
\”Nothing, Doc, nothing at all.\”

\”So he broke his hip?\” asked Janeway.

\”As well as what you would call his tail bone.\” said the
Doctor nodding.

Emily burst out laughing. \”He broke his… HA!\” she said,
dissolving into giggles, then silencing when she saw the daggers
Paris was shooting at her. \”Sorry.\”

Paris rolled his eyes. \”Yeah right. Excuse me if I don\’t
thank you for kicking my ass. And that goes for you too,
Chakotay.\”

Chakotay chuckled, shaking his head. \”It\’s your own fault,
Paris. I TRIED to warn you.\”

The Doctor pulled out a hypo. \”It\’s easily repaired – –
he\’ll be back on his – – feet in no time. Now, roll over, Mr.
Paris.\”

\”WHAT?!\” said Paris, squirming.

\”I have to inject this hypo to dull the pain, Mr. Paris.\”

Paris turned beet red, waving the assembled crew out
frantically. \”Can\’t a guy get a little privacy around here!?\”

-5-

On the Bridge the next week, things were running smoothly,
a picturesque scene out of some 24th century Norman Rockwell
named perhaps \”A Lazy Day On The Bridge\”.

And it was a slow day indeed. Harry\’s undaunted enthusiasm
flagged, and his elder compatriots were practically comatose.
Chakotay stared at his console lazily, and Janeway blinked
rapidly every so often to keep from falling asleep in her chair.
Even Tuvok seemed a fraction less attentive than usual.

Even Emily, who was thrilled in the slightest blip on a
viewscreen, the entire starship concept being so new to her,
yawned slightly. She rested her head on her hand, which was
propped up on the side of the conn as she observed Lieutenant
Paris, who was close to dozing off himself.

The sluggish atmosphere continued without a single
interruption until the small hours of the shift dwindled away,
and finally the Beta shift came to take over, fresh and enthused,
to release the weary Bridge crew.

It was as if a blanket of boredom was whisked away from the
group as they exited the Bridge – – except Emily. Harry rushed
to the turbolift with such ill-hid enthusiasm it was impossible
to mistake his destination. Paris grinned, making an off-hand
remark.

Ordinarily, Emily would have no doubt laughed or vigorously
mock-scolded Tom for his insolence, which was one of the reasons
he did it, but tonight she merely smiled, shaking her head.

Paris frowned. When she didn\’t summarily groan or at least
giggle at his wry humor she was either preoccupied or ill. The
pale tinge to her face and the hollow circles under her eyes were
there for a reason as well. He would have to talk to Chakotay or
Janeway about it sometime, but not right now: the two had already
disappeared somewhere or another with obviously un-professional
intentions.

The lift deposited Paris on deck six, and he fully intended
to go and run Sandrine\’s and lose himself in pool, synthahol, and
women, but somehow the sight of someone, even someone who had
humiliated him a week ago, so wan and exhausted left a bitter
residue that even several fun-filled hours in a French tavern
couldn\’t obliverate. For once, Thomas Eugiene Paris thought of
someone other than himself.

The lackluster day stretched out into a week, with Paris,
as well as most of the crew, praying for something – – anything –
– to happen to lift the incessant boredom.

But, as the wise man once said, be careful what you pray
for – – you just might get it. And they got it in the form of an
enormous power surge caused by an overload while B\’Elanna and
Harry, itching for a new conundrum to solve, were attempting to
modify the nacells for increased efficency. They, as well as the
rest of the crew, had their hands full just getting all the
primary systems back on-line after THAT mishap.

Paris looked back on those slow days of but a few days ago
with the air of an aging salt recounting the old days. Now it
seemed as if the entire universe was crashing down on his
shoulders, with no let up in sight. He, as well as the rest of
the senior staff, was so preoccupied with the ship and their own
personal woes that no one noticed the diminishing vim and vigor
of the youngest member of the crew, who pitched in with the less
technical aspects of the repair work, nor did they connect the
pallor of her skin and uncanny flush in her cheeks with an
illness of any kind. Her tardiness to her classes with Tuvok and
Paris, which the repairs had made infrequent lately, was viewed
more as carelessness and an irritation (if the good-natured pilot
or the stone-faced Vulcan could become irritated) than anything
else.

The turning point of the whole situation came when Emily
was tardy for yet another lesson – – even later than usual, as if
there was a difference. Tuvok noticed it, but did not connect it
to any observations he had made of the Cadet, and Tom Paris was
too busy ranting about her in general to notice, mumbling things
along the lines of, \”What\’d you expect of CHAKOTAY\’s kid…
little whelp… make a fool of ME, will she?\”

A jarring beep interrupted Paris before he could continue.
Tuvok raised an eyebrow to the slight figure breathing heavily in
the doorway. \”Well, Cadet, you seem to have decided to join us
today.\” he commented dryly.

Paris, who had silenced his tirade to glare at the girl,
immediately changed his tune. Being only human, he wasn\’t immune
to the exhaustion in her abnormally pale face and the dark
circles under her eyes that had not lightened since he had first
casually noticed them. And now that he thought about it,
Chakotay and Janeway had commented that she\’d been sleeping less
and less lately, and Neelix was constantly trying to make her eat
more as well. He hadn\’t put two and two together until now.

\”Lieutenant Tuvok?\” she whispered softly to the solemn
Vulcan.

\”Yes, Cadet?\”

\”In the 24th century, is there a cure for mononucleosis?\”

Tuvok cocked an eyebrow pointedly. \”Why do you ask,
Cadet?\”

\”Because I think I have it…\” she murmured, swaying
unsteadily, lurching forward. She would have fallen to the floor
had Paris not suspected her weakness and rushed forward to grab
her by the arm. Tuvok watched the girl stagger, then tapped his
comm badge with a composed, \”Tuvok to Sickbay.\”

-6-

An hour later, Emily sat up, opening her eyes, the Doctor
shaking his head. as he stood with his back to her, speaking to
several tall figures, whose features were fuzzy at best. \”I\’m
sorry, I can\’t help her, Commander. There is nothing on file
like this disease. I can tell you that it is a type of
mononuleotic virus, which has been dormant in her system since
before she came here, and has only now been brought to the
surface through contact with another virus. But without a better
diagnosis, I can\’t access the information on treatment. I\’m
sorry.\”

Emily sighed weakly, alerting the Doctor to his patient\’s
concious state. \”Doctor, does that mean I have to ride this
thing out?\”

The Doctor looked at the weary little face with a trace of
compassion. \”I\’m afraid so – – I can\’t find anything in my
database like it.\”

Emily sank back onto the biobed, doubled over as racking
coughs tossed her upper body like a rag doll.

Unable to do anything more, the Doctor let Emily return to
her quarters, accompanied by Chakotay. It was very slow going,
her feet stumbling dizzily most of the way. He tucked her into
her bed, watching over her until she fell asleep again. When her
breathing finally became regular and slow, he moved to get up.
He turned and saw Janeway looking down at Emily with worried
eyes.

\”Is she all right?\” she whispered, meeting his gaze.

Chakotay instinctively smoothed the wispy curls from off
the girl\’s flushed forehead, absently tracing the dark lines of
the tattoo there. \”The Doctor said she\’ll be fine after the
virus runs its course, which could be awhile… she has some sort
of mononucleotic virus.\”

Janeway knew a little about childhood illnesses like this –
– but when she was growing up, there were vaccines and treatments
that surely the Doctor would know about. \”Can\’t he treat her?\”

Chakotay shook his head slowly. \”The Doctor can\’t treat
her – – he\’s never seen anything like it. Nothing he\’s tried
works.\”

Janeway put her hands on her hips, her eyes turning steely
as she glared out into the blackness of space. \”We are going to
find out how to cure Emily\’s illness.\” It was a statement of
fact, not a question, but an answer. She turned back to where
Chakotay sat, hands under his chin, elbows on his knees, looking
up at her. She walked over to the chair, wrapping her arms
around his neck, bending to touch her forehead to his,
whispering, \”I promise.\”

Chakotay smiled faintly, nodding until his lips met hers.
\”I know.\”

-7-

The next day, Emily returned to sickbay, hoping for a
miracle, but still the Doctor could do nothing more for her but
prescribe bed rest, which Emily vehemently opposed until another
set of coughs effectively silenced her again, and then a huge
yawn cutting off the rest of her protests. The Doctor had looked
heavenward, raising an eyebrow to Kes and Chakotay, who had
returned to sickbay after his duty shift. Emily was a bit more
docile after that, being too tired to argue. And that, as Paris
snickered repeatedly, trying to mask his own worry with humor,
was the true measure of how sick she was.

She was moved back to her quarters again, where she fell
asleep almost the instant her head hit the pillow, but not
without a soft laugh and a pithy comment about how at least the
nausea hadn\’t hit yet.

Thankfully, she was only overwhelmingly weak and tired
during the course of her illness. She would sleep for hours,
then wake to find someone or another waiting beside her bed as if
on cue. Sometimes she could sit up and have an entire
conversation with the visitor, but more often than not she would
smile and close her eyes again with a few coughs.

Janeway and Chakotay tried not to worry, but it was very
hard to be utterly helpless as they watched their adopted
daughter convulse with hacking coughs, even when it wasn\’t
extraordinarily life-threatening. They promised each other they
wouldn\’t get overly anxious, but as the weeks slipped by, their
nightly watches, sometimes alone, sometimes together, beside the
sick girl\’s bed grew longer.

It was about three weeks into the illness when Janeway
awoke one night with a vauge feeling that somwthing was not quite
right. She sat up to call Chakotay, but he did not reply to her
repeated pagings. She sat up, grabbing a robe and wrapping it
about her gowned figure, striding worriedly towards Emily\’s
quarters.

The door slid open, revealing a sight that made Janeway\’s
frightened face soften and smile. Emily\’s bed had been layered
with blankets and pillows, and in the midst of them she slept
quietly, a slant of starlight streaking across the bed and
caressed ever so lightly the face and form of the figure dozing
in a massive wing chair a few feet from the bed.

Janeway glided over to where Emily slept peacefully,
smoothing the flushed face and dishelved locks of brown-black
hair, tracing the tattoo on her brow. She adjusted the blankets,
then turned her attentions to the sleeping figure in the chair.

Chakotay slumped a little in the huge chair, his head
resting on the wing attached to the back of the chair. He had
not meant to fall asleep: so much was evident from the watchful
posture he had affected shortly before being overcome by sleep.

She stroked his face gently, not really wanting to wake him
from his deep sleep: it was so rare to get a good night\’s rest
around here lately, but he stirred under her light touch,
recognizing it even in sleep and grasping her hand as he opened
his eyes and smiled at her sleepily.

\”How long have I been asleep here?\” he said hoarsely.

Janeway shook her head. \”I don\’t know. All I know is you
were here when I woke up a few minutes ago.\” She glanced over at
the girl. \”I was worried… And then I didn\’t know where you
were…\”

\”It\’s OK, Kathryn. I meant to just sit down for a few
minutes, but…\”

Janeway smiled. \”I would have done the same thing,
Chakotay. I\’m just as worried. But I\’m worried more about you.
You haven\’t slept more than a few hours at a time. Go to bed.\”

Chakotay smiled through the overwhelming sleepiness. \”You
make it sound so easy. But every time I try to sleep, I wonder
if she\’s stopped breathing or…\”

\”Stop that. It does no good for anyone, especially you.\”
Janeway\’s face was stern, but her voice and the way she wrapped
her arms around him a little tighter betrayed her anxiety.

Chakotay grinned this time: a full, ear to ear smile that
lit up his face and warmed her insides. \”Aye, Captain.\”

-8-

Emily had put on her cadet uniform after feeling better a
few days in a row, but Janeway had insisted she be strictly an
observer, and delegated her to a few shifts on the bridge, where
they could keep an eye on her. She climbed onto her low chair
overlooking the pilot\’s conn.

The Alpha shift was almost over when Emily heard a clucking
noise. She turned around, noticing that everyone else was
looking around for the source of the disapproving noise. Emily
looked confusedly at Janeway and Chakotay, who were just as lost.

For a split second.

In a simple warping of space, a very familiar face
materialized in the center of the Bridge.

Emily turned around in her chair with an expression of
fear, anger, and rapt attention. \”Q!\” she whispered with a
mixture of delight and anxiety.

Q turned around, staring into Emily\’s eyes with an
unfathomable expression, then broke into a wide grin. \”Ah, my
little protege!\” he smiled, patting her head. \”How are you
doing, sweetie?\”

\”Fine…\” said Emily, then amending her statement. \”But
don\’t call me sweetie.\”

Q laughed. \”Well at least you have a backbone… which is
why I chose you.\”

\”I\’m honored.\” said Emily wryly.

\”Don\’t take that tone with ME, young lady, or I\’ll send you
right back to Earth, 1996.\”

\”Why are you here again, Q?\” said Janeway.

\”Kathy, Kathy! You wound me! Just wanted to check on my
favorite starship.\”

\”What did you mean about… choosing me?\” asked Emily, who
had stood up from her chair and edged closer to the infamous
creature.

\”I mean exactly what I said – – I chose you – – part of the
test.\”

Emily cocked her head curiously. \”What test?\”

Q patted her on the head again. \”You\’ll see. But here\’s a
clue.\”

-9-

A shifting of reality, and a thick cloud of sulfurous gas
nearly knocked Emily over. She blinked her eyes, looking over at
the first familiar face she saw: Paris. \”Gasoline.\” they said in
chorus, a horn blaring as a hand grabbed hers and yanked hard.

Emily collapsed into a solid object, then righted herself,
realizing that Q had dropped her directly in the center of a busy
street and someone had pulled her out of harm\’s way. She turned
to thank her rescuer, and blanched.

\”Gabriel?\” she asked.

The boy blinked at her. \”How do you know my name?\”

\”I\’m Emily Friedman – – sort of.\”

\”Really? Wow!\” he said. Then, he suddenly remembered
where they were, and began to gesture down the street. \”It\’s
dangerous here, follow me.\”

\”Just a second.\” she said, waving Tom over from where he
was admiring a ahiny cherry red mustang parked nearby.

Gabriel stared for a second, but he didn\’t quite piece the
puzzle together until he had led them to a small park. He eyed
their uniforms with an arched eyebrow. \”You\’re here for the
convention, I suppose.\”

\”Sort of.\” said Emily. \”It\’s a long story. But this
doesn\’t look like Bakersfield.\”

Gabriel laughed. \”Of course not! This is L.A., Emily…
Something tells me I need to hear this story of yours, Emily.\”

\”I\’d like to change first. They\’re not kidding when they
say these things are tight. I\’m assuming you have a hotel room
around here?\”

Gabriel grinned approvingly as he looked up and down at the
grey and crimson uniform. \”Of course. It\’s Grand Slam – – I\’m
sharing a suite with a couple of my friends. It\’s only a block
away from here, and my friends won\’t be here until the convention
starts in three days.\”

\”Sounds good to me.\”

Gabriel led them to a series of large inter-connected hotel
rooms, where Emily and Paris proceeded to sit down. Gabriel sat
down as well. \”This story of yours?\” he suggested. \”I\’d suggest
starting with why you appeared out of nowhere, and move on to why
you\’re wearing \’Fleet uniforms but don\’t even know there\’s a
convention going on, much less where you are.\”

Emily sighed. \”Well,you might not belive this…\”

\”Go on.\”

\”You see, I\’m not REALLY Emily Clare Friedman. My name is
Emily Kathryn Quetit Friedman – – CADET Friedman, of the starship
U.S.S. Voyager.\”

\”WHAT?!\”

\”To summarize it very briefly, we were on Voyager when Q
brought us here for some unknown reason.\”

\”Anyway to prove you\’re really from Voyager?\”

Emily scrunched her brow, then brightened. \”Sure.\” She
tapped her comm badge. \”Friedman to Chakotay.\”

A relieved breath filled the room. \”Emily! We got here
and we couldn\’t find a trace of you or Paris anywhere! Where are
you?\”

Emily grinned at Gabriel, then grabbed up a magazine and
flipped it over to check the address. \”We\’re downtown , 900
Buena Vista Drive. We\’ll meet you in the lobby.\”

\”OK. Chakotay out.\”

Emily turned swiftly to Gabriel. \”Do you have a laptop
around here?\”

\”Of course.\” he said, gesturing to the table where a
portable computer was open on the shiny surface. Emily dove for
the chair, typing furiously. \”Aha!\” she cried. \”Got it!\”

\”Got what?\”

Emily ignored them, diving for the phone and dialing
furiously. \”Hello? Yes, I\’d like to order a few things… 900
Buena Vista Drive. Yes, express delivery please. 10% tip if you
can get it here in an hour. Thank you.\”

\”What was THAT all about?\”

\”I don\’t know about you, but I\’m not wearing this damned
uniform through the streets of L.A. for God-knows-how-long. I
just ordered a few things on my brother\’s credit card. Luckily
he won\’t be able to tell, his expenditures are so inflated
anyway.\” she chuckled. \”I just hope I got the sizes right.\”

-10-

When Janeway and the rest of the senior staff arrived in
the huge lobby of the Grand Hyatt, a breathless young man in dark
brown rushed in bearing large brown packages. Emily rushed over
to the poor young man, waving her hands wildly. The young man
looked relived. \”Emily Friedman?\”

\”Yup.\”

\”Sign here.\” Emily signed lavishly, and handed the
clipboard back to him.

\”Could you bring those up to room 901? There\’s someone up
there expecting those packages.\”

\”Sure.\”

\”Thank you.\”

Emily nodded, then looked up, breaking into a run over to
the group of people who were entering the hotel. When she
reached them, she led them towards the elevator. Once inside,
she pressed the button for the 9th floor, and turned to the eight
curious pairs of eyes fixed on her.

\”If you haven\’t guessed, we\’re in L.A., 1997.\” she said.
\”Luckily it\’s the beginning of Grand Slam, so no one will look at
us twice, even Neelix or Tuvok.\”

\”Grand Slam?\”

\”The biggest Trek convention of the year… all the actors
come, and people fill L.A. dressed in alien costumes and makeup.
My friend Gabriel has a suite of rooms he\’s agreed to let us meet
in until I can set us up in our own rooms.\”

\”You\’d think Q would have arranged this already.\” said
Janeway sarcastically.

\”But of course I have, my dear Kathy!\” smiled Q as he
appeared in the elevator, waving his hand. The door slid open on
the 9th floor, but he snapped his fingers as they stepped out,
transporting them into high-ceilinged suite of rooms. \”Voil !\”
he smiled happily just before he disappeared.

Emily walked further into the huge main room, whistling
softly. \”If this isn\’t the penthouse, I\’ll eat my hat.\” She
turned back around, grinning. \”And since I have no hat to speak
of, this better be a penthouse.\”

\”I don\’t get it: where\’s the replicators?\” said Harry,
looking around.

Emily grinned again, holding up a phone. \”The 20th century
equivalent, Harr: room service!\” She turned again, and clapped
her hands. \”Good, Q brought our packages up here!\”

Janeway cocked an eyebrow. \”Our packages?\”

Emily colored. \”We\’ll be less conspicous if we don\’t wear
our uniforms, Captain. This way you\’ll probably be mistaken for
your alter egos.\”

\”WE have alter egos, Emily?\” interjected Paris.

\”Of course, Tom: the actors who play you all live in L.A.,
and they\’ll probably be at Grand Slam, too. Expect to sign
autographs.\” She handed them a copy of the hotel\’s weekly
bulletin. In large typeface it announced: \”The Grand Hyatt
proudly welcomes the guests arriving for the Star Trek Grand Slam
Convention.\”

Emily, meanwhile, was hunting down a sharp object and,
finding none, grabbed a pen from the desk and jabbed it into the
top of the first box and ripping it across the top with violence.
Thus opened, she proceeded to extract articles of clothing,
murmurs of approval as the silk and soft colors flooded her
senses. She shut the box again, handing it to Janeway with a
terse: \”This is yours. I can only hope I got the size right.\”
and a wave towards an adjoining room.

As Janeway left, Emily ripped open a larger box with a
definite nod of approval. \”Very nice.\” She thrust the box in
Paris\’s hands, then moved back to attack another box while
calling over her shoulder: \”Tom, you guys go change into these.\”
and a sarcastic, \”I trust none of you are color blind?\” without
waiting for a response.

After flinging a box at B\’Elanna, another at Kes, and a
final one at Neelix, whom she had detained from the herd of males
exiting with the largest box, she grabbed up a small box and fled
into yet another room.

Ten minutes later, Emily reappeared in the main room,
finding seven-tenths of the senior staff waiting impatiently for
the other three to make their appearance. She nodded grim
approval, dispite the comic look Neelix gave tossed in the middle
of the other three men. She tapped her finger against her cheek
in contemplation for a minute, then snapped her fingers and dug
into the bottom of yet another box and tossed baseball caps to
Tuvok and Chakotay,

\”Brava, brava, my dear Kat.\” an infuriating voice snorted.

Janeway turned to the sound of the voice, reddening
furiously. \”Q!!\” she growled.

\”We meet again, my dear.\” he smiled, bowing low. \”How HAVE
you been? Wait,\” he smiled, pressing his finger to her lips.
\”You met that lizard woman repeated time, Ensign Wildman had that
adorable munchkin, and you have a sweet little daughter named
Emily Kathryn Friedman, who\’s a cadet. Her friend Nate stopped
by, but he died. And then poor Emma came down with the sniffles,
then another fun guy named Gabe beamed aboard.\”

\”How did you know that?\”

\”I\’m Q, sweetheart!! In fact, I wouldn;t be surprised if I
had something to DO with it…\”

\”YOU\’re the cause of that power surge?\”

\”Katie, Katie… you think so narrow-mindedly! I\’m in
charge of this entire charade, baby! Well, not ALL of it… just
up to little Em – – ever wondered how she got here – – you
didn\’tr REALLY think it was a modem, did you?\”

Q smiled to the assembled senior officers, patting Emily\’s
head, scowling as she squirmed from his clammy touch. \”It\’s
quite a story really. You see, I always wondered about the whole
parenting deal with you bipeds, whether you\’d willing raise a
child not only not of your sire, but not even of your time! So I
went back through time, looking for the perfect subject, and
found this interesting young lady. It didn\’t hurt that she had a
working knowledge of this ship and its senior staff, either. So
I blasted a duplictate of her here, and sat back. But NO, you
had to try and get her back, which wouldn\’t work at ALL. But I
didn\’t want the little cutie to DIE,\” he said, pinching her
cheek, \”So I made sure she survived – – and ended up back here.
I didn\’t implant your DNA, though – – that was just a lucky
coincidence.\”

\”What a cowinky-dink, eh, Q?\” mumbled Emily.

\”Precisely.\” he grinned, rumpling her hair. \”You know, I\’m
beginning to like your style, Emma.\”

\”Funny, I never liked yours – – specially your penchant for
appearing in people\’s beds.\”

\”Now, now… that was only Johnny and Katie here. I didn\’t
do it to EVERYONE, Emma.\”

\”Would you just get on with it, Q?\”

\”FINE, if that\’s what you want…\” sighed Q, then
continued. \”Then after watching you bond and all – – very
touching, I might add – – right out of a greeting card – – I
decided to throw Nate in the pot. He didn\’t mix well at all, so
I killed him – – sort of. It really was transporter failure, you
know. Then came the big test: a triple whammy, you might say.
First I caused a power surge, which wiped out the Doc\’s memory on
kiddie illnesses, then took some dormant illness and riled it up
in Em\’s system. Simmer until my entrance, and voila! A homemade
parenting test a la Q!\”

\”What about transportiong us here?\”

\”It wasn\’t very interesting watching Emmers just moan and
groan – – but you meeting your doubles was classic!!\” grinned Q
clapping his hands.

\”So what happens now, Q?\”

\”What do you think, Kat? You FAILED, honey! You were
unable to take care of Em or figure a way back to your ship, so
you lose!\”

Q waited for the shock to register on their faces, then
grabbed Emily wrist and said, \”So I am taking custody of Cadet
Emily Kathryn Friedman away from you and transferring sole
custody to ME… she will become MY ward, and a member of the
Continum.\”

Emily wrenched her hand from Q\’s snapping, \”What if I
refuse?\”

\”You can\’t sweetie – – that\’s the beauty of being Q!\” he
smirked, grabbing Emily, who turned wide, haunted eyes on the
senior staff as she and Q winked out of existence with a flash of
white light.

-7-

As quickly and without warning as she had entered their
lives, Emily disappeared, leaving behind a legacy very few went
untouched by.

Harry and B\’Elanna had each other to help ease their
friend\’s disappearance, and managed to go on, though not without
their share of sadness, as did Neelix and Kes. On the other
hand, Tom Paris locked himself in Sandrine\’s with replicated
whisky for days, drinking himself into oblivion, half-convincing
himself she would return. Tuvok had wanted to go in there and
force him back to the conn, but Chakotay had forbade it, not so
much because he had grown any closer to the cocky pilot, but
because he emphathized painfully with the younger man\’s sorrow.

Janeway had taken it well, too well, as the crew thought
when they saw her composed stride and set face, same as ever.
Very few noticed she did not laugh or smile, and only one other
had seen her when she slipped into her quarters late at night,
her soft sobs cutting the stillness of the night, trying
vailiantly to understand why and coming up with no answer.

But even as Chakotay tried to comfort her in her grief, he
felt like it was a farce, especially when he tried to speak with
his spirit guide, who retreated to a proper distance from the
deep sadness in his mind. He couldn\’t even look at his own face,
remembering that his daughter was gods-know-where, wearing the
same tattoo on her dark oval face, the face that had looked at
him with such fear as she was consumed by white spirit fire,
while he sat by, unable to stop it.

Life on the Voyager went on, but without the youthful
laughter ringing down the corridor to the senior officer\’s
quarters – – without any laughter at all for the most part – –
without the small familial scenes, without the curious little
face popping up anywhere and everywhere, without Emily
babysitting the little Wildman baby in the holodeck, without any
teenage influence at all – – it wasn\’t until it was gone that
they realized how special and intregral it was.

To be sure, Gabriel was still there, but with Emily\’s
disappearance, everything lost its sparkle.

-8-

A month later, it was as if she had never come. The pain
still lingered, but they had learned to laugh again, and had
delved into their exploration of the Delta Quadrant with a new
vigor.

-9-

\”Her memory has not been wiped, Commander – – she has
merely been given the power to supress all emotions much the same
way Mr. Tuvok does – – only better.\” He smiled maliciously at
where Janeway and Chakotay stood side by side, ramrod stiff.
\”You see Kathy, she recognizes you and Chuck, but she feels no
emotions for either of you whatsoever.\” Q laughed, grabbing the
back of Emily\’s head with one thin hand and moving it from side
to side, back and forth. \”She feels no anger, no annoyance, no
anything.\”

Q turned to Emily, patting her head with could only be
called affection by a huge leap of the imagination. \”OK,
sweetie, this is how it is. You can either be part of the
Continuum or stay here on the Voyager. You have 24 hours to
decide. See ya later, honey.\”

He patted her on the cheek and disappeared. Janeway walked
over and hugged the girl. She was passed from one person to
another, but her expressionless face never changed.

-10-

After hours of effort, Chakotay shook his head sorrowfully,
waving Emily off to her room. After she left, he groaned,
flopping himself bodily onto the sofa wearily. \”It\’s no use. I
can\’t make a dent. I might as well be talking to a rock.\”

Janeway yawned from her station in a nearby chair. \”Well,
Tom always said Emily had your hard head.\”

She immediately repented when she saw the pained look on
Chakotay\’s face. Her tired smile faded into an air of concern.
She walked over to where he stared into space, laying a gentle
hand on his arm. He turned away from the window, laying the hand
that had been at his forehead on top of hers, smiling briefly as
he saw the glint of gold on her finger, but his face settled back
into his somber expression almost immediately.

-11-

Q disappeared in a flash of light, the sudden disappearance
of the force that was holding the semi-concious girl up crumpling
her like a rag doll. Her guardians rushed over the her, fearing
the worst Chakotay looked at Janeway, looking a little less
worried. \”She has a pulse, at least.\” Emily groaned in the two
officer\’s grasp, her eyes fluttering open, looking back and forth
between the two almost surreal faces hunched over hers. Chakotay
smiled concernedly. \”How do you feel, Emily?\”

Emily looked at Chakotay with a blank expression for the
merest second, then burst into a wry smile, one lopsided dimple
restoring her usual rakish look. \”With my hands.\”

Chakotay hugged her, helping her to her feet slowly.
\”That\’s my girl.\”



Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.