The Interview
by Voywriter
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Kathryn Janeway reached across her desk for her mug and absently claimed a sip
of now lukewarm tea, grimacing at the temperature. She had closeted herself
away in her ready room for a few hours to review personnel reports – a daunting
task and not always pleasant.
Beyond the standard performance evaluations, there were other issues to be dealt
with – personality conflicts among them. Some conflict was not unexpected
given their situation and the stress it imposed. Most of these issues were minor
and easily resolved over friendly game of pool at SandrineÕs or an informal chat
with both parties to allow each to vent their frustrations.
Some situations had required intervention by Tuvok with short term confinement
to quarters the usual outcome. A very few instances had necessitated more
dramatic measures, but those were rare. In fact, recently there had been a new
feeling of unity among the entire crew, especially since their successful recovery
of Voyager from the Kazon. The change afforded them all some breathing space
and she was grateful, whatever the cause.
When the Maquis crew had first come aboard Voyager, Janeway had wondered if
they would ever be able to function as a unit – no, she had doubted they ever
would reach that point, her usual optimism failing her. It had been such a difficult
time – not just the transition to their new life, but the loss of so many friends and
crew – doctor, engineer, first officer among them. She and Cavit had not been
particularly close friends, but they had found an efficient working arrangement
that suited both. She had certainly not planned on a renegade Maquis Captain as
her second in command, nor how much she would come to depend on him – his
calm commanding presence, his grasp of tactical situations, his ability to simply
listen without judgment. It was every bit as unexpected as his presence on the
Deciding she merited a break, and new cup of tea, Janeway pushed back from the
viewscreen, cradling her mug between her hands as she walked over the thermal
canister Neelix had left for her, still rolling those early days in the Quadrant back
in her mind. The door chime interrupted her.
ÒCome in,Ó she called out, refilling the mug with spicy honey colored tea. This
was NeelixÕs newest foray into the culinary arts using herbs that Kes grew in the
hydroponics garden. It wasnÕt bad.
The door slid open to reveal Chakotay, a stack of data padds in hand. ÒI brought
you the last of the crew evaluations,Ó he told her, stepping inside at her waved
Janeway groaned audibly at the sight of the reviews and the look on her face
elicited a quick grin from Chakotay. ÒTough work?Ó he commented, setting the
padds on the cluttered desk surface. He had spent the last 4 days getting the
reviews in order and knew how daunting a task it was.
Before Janeway even looked at the appraisals, Chakotay went through them all,
adding his evaluation or simply commenting on performance, issues or problems.
So far, she hadnÕt found much to disagree with – his evaluations were right on
target with no bias toward his fellow Maquis members. She would have been
disappointed with anything less. (1)
ÒIt may be possible youÕre too thorough,Ó she told him, pulling out a mug and
offering him a cup of tea. ÒStay. I need a break.Ó
He nodded and accepted the warm liquid and the offered chair. ÒI reviewed
Suder, too,Ó he told her quietly. ÒI thought it was appropriate. His last action was
in defense of the ship.Ó
ÒI agree,Ó she said, dropping back into the chair behind the desk. ÒAnd while a
Starfleet commendation may not be meaningful to him at this point, I think itÕs
important to have the records in order.Ó
Janeway paused to take a sip of the hot tea and to dig through the stacks of padds.
She was seeking one particular data record. It was near the bottom. She pulled it
out and slid it across the desk. ÒI read your self-evaluation earlier today. Very fair.
IÕm not sure if I could be so objective about myself. But I did add a few remarks.
Read it at your leisure. If you disagree with anything, let me know.Ó
Chakotay tapped his fingers on the padd and nodded. ÒIÕll do that.Ó
ÒYou know I never expected that we would work so well together, or that I would
count you as a friend,Ó she said, repeating her earlier thoughts. ÒIn fact, I
wondered what would happen the first time you challenged one of my decisions.Ó
ÒAs I recall, we didnÕt exactly see eye to eye on the issue of an Engineering
Chief,Ó Chakotay reminded her.
ÒTrue,Ó she conceded, Òbut thatÕs not quite what IÕm talking about.Ó She settled
back in her chair, her mug between her hands. ÒEven youÕll agree that BÕlanna
was not the usual candidate for Chief Engineer. No, I was talking about you
Chakotay, about the risk I took making you my First Officer. It wasnÕt just
because I wanted to unite Maquis and Starfleet crews, you know. We had to live
together. Your ship was destroyed. No, I saw in you the best qualifications for the
position. I just wasnÕt sure what it would be like to work with a Federation felon.
And you didnÕt give me much encouragement,” she remembered, “- at least not at

The tall Maquis Captain had refused a seat when Janeway invited him into her
ready room, instead perching on a corner of the meeting table facing her desk.
She shrugged and took her own chair, noting what seemed to be an almost
permanent scowl on his distinctive face. If she hadnÕt seen his Starfleet record
and witnessed his selfless bravery against the Kazon, she might have thought him
dangerous. As it was, she simply questioned his choices.
ÒWe do not find ourselves in an easy situation,Ó she began. ÒYet it is clear that we
need to find some accommodation.Ó
ÒWhat exactly do you have in mind?Ó came the unexpectedly calm reply.
Janeway raised an eyebrow. Was he really that cool? ÒI have a proposal for you,Ó
she began, her hands neatly folded on the desktop. ÒIÕve been looking at your
Starfleet record.Õ
Now it was his turn to raise an eyebrow.
ÒItÕs not unimpressive,Ó she noted.
ÒI left by choice, not invitation,Ó he reminded her.
ÒTell me about that,Ó she asked, leaning forward. ÒTell me what caused you to
He met her gaze with one equally steady. ÒIsnÕt that all in my record?Ó He
gestured toward the display monitor.
ÒIÕd prefer to hear it from you,Ó Janeway insisted.
A moment of silence followed and then he finally nodded. ÒAll right. ItÕs not very
complicated. My father was killed. I returned to our world and took up his cause.Ó
ÒAgainst the Federation.Ó
ÒAgainst Cardassian rule..Ó
ÒA small distinction,Ó she challenged.
ÒPerhaps,Ó he agreed with a shrug of his wide shoulders. ÒI believe the Federation
did not have the right to sign treaties on our behalf. From that perspective, I was
against the Federation.Ó
ÒAnd from other perspectives?Ó
ÒI joined Starfleet because I believed in many of the same principles that exist
within the Federation,Ó Chakotay insisted.
ÒYou took an oath to that Federation when you graduated the Academy,Ó Janeway
reminded him. ÒYou promised to uphold Federation law and protect the people of
the Federation. What happened to that?Ó
ÒUp until the treaty, my people were counted among the people of the Federation.
What happened to that?Ó he spat. ÒJust who broke the trust, Captain?Ó
She took a deep breath. Finally, a reaction. Anger, but contained. Civil, if not
polite, restraint. Good. She looked back out at him. He was watching her as well.
That was fine.
ÒWhy did you defend my decision to destroy the array?Ó she wondered. Torres
had been horrified at JanewayÕs decision to eliminate their only way home.
Chakotay had backed the Captain without reserve or question.
ÒTorres is impatient. She likes to make her own decisions. She knows the
command structure. She just doesnÕt have much use for it.Ó
ÒYet you risked her disapproval. I wasnÕt your commander at the time.Ó
ÒShe was wrong,Ó he said. ÒYou were in command of Voyager. It was your
ÒThat simple?Ó she asked.
ÒIÕm not a revolutionary, Captain. I am a Maquis officer. I was a Starfleet officer.
I respect discipline. I understand the need for it. I am not an incendiary. I simply
went home to support my people and honor my fatherÕs memory.Ó

He dropped down off the table and crossed over toward the observation port.
Unfamiliar stars met his gaze. It reminded him of his first night on earth at the
Academy. An unfamiliar sky had greeted him there was well. He had learned to
count it as a friend. He turned back to Janeway.
ÒIÕd like to ask you a question.Ó
ÒPlease,Ó Janeway encouraged.
ÒWhat do you intended to do now?Ó he asked.
Janeway met his gaze. ÒIÕm hoping youÕll help me figure that out,Ó she told him,
ÒIÕm not so sure IÕm the right person to ask.Ó
ÒI judge you to be an honest man,Ó Janeway said.
ÒFor a wanted felon?Ó he finished.
ÒYour words.Ó
ÒYou could just lock me up for the next 70 years.Ó
ÒItÕs always an option.Ó And one she might consider if she couldnÕt get him to
open up a bit more. This wasnÕt quite working. She needed more. Heroism was
fine. Championing right causes was fine. He clearly had no shortage of anger or
passion. That could be good. But she needed more. Needed to know more. (2)

ÒAt that point I was ready to lock you up,Ó Janeway smiled with a shake of her
head. ÒIt was an exasperating conversation.Ó
ÒI thought I would just let you play out your agenda,Ó Chakotay told her, rolling
the mug between his hands and taking a sip of tea before a teasing grin appeared
on his lips. His eyes lit with humor.
ÒOr maybe I was planning my takeover of your ship,Ó he teased. ÒAnd I was
simply trying to buy a little time.Ó
ÒPower has never been your motivator, Commander,Ó Janeway said dismissing
his suggestion with a wave of her hand. ÒI could tell that even then . YouÕve
always been more concerned with getting the job done than getting credit for it.Ó
She had never known Chakotay to ask for any more than respect for his rank and
position. That, and the right to do his job -something Kathryn may have been too
slow to grant in the beginning. Still, he wasnÕt threatened by taking orders – not
even from a woman and lord knows Janeway had seen enough of that in her
tenure in command. It all combined to made him an effective second chair. It was
a good partnering – on many levels.
ÒI could tell you were frustrated as hell by my answers,Ó Chakotay
acknowledged, taking up the thread of their conversation.. ÒBut I wanted to see if
you could keep your cool. And I wanted to know what you would do if you didnÕt
immediately get your own way.Ó
ÒAh,Ó JanewayÕs eyes widened knowingly. ÒSo you were testing me. Fair
enough,Ó she allowed with a nod. ÒBut you didnÕt allow much latitude,Ó she
chastened. ÒI almost gave up on you.Ó
ÒI was as lost as the rest of you,Ó he told her, rising to fill his cup with more tea.
ÒAnd I was scrambling to figure out what the hell to do stuck on a Starfleet ship
70 years from home. I had just destroyed my own ship. It was more than a little
ÒYou might have let on a little,Ó she advised him, ÒIn fact I was frustrated by what
I perceived to be your casual attitude toward our situation..Ó
ÒPanic isnÕt exactly my style,Ó he insisted. ÒBut I had lost as much as anyone and
I was frankly thrown by it all.Ó
ÒYou adapted well on New Earth,Ó she reminded him. ÒFar better than I did.Ó She
recalled his easy transition to their new life. It was Chakotay who made their
home and nurtured their future until she had finally accepted their situation. If he
hadnÕt built their life, she would have had nothing to turn to after the storm
destroyed her tests and equipment. He had saved her in more ways than she cared
to admit.
ÒMaybe IÕm more of a fatalist,Ó Chakotay suggested, his own memories following
her train of thought. ÒOr maybe IÕm just better at accepting my fate.Ó
But even as he said the words, he knew better. He knew it was Kathryn who had
kept him going and given him determination that there should be a future. Her
unflagging optimism had been a beacon which he could follow. It had given him
purpose and direction that were his alone. He truly believed she had led him from
the darkness to the new sense of ease he now felt.
He had shared those feelings with her one sultry evening on New Earth when the
moon rose high and the wind swept softly past their camp, but she had been
characteristically unconvinced of her influence, dismissing his words with a soft,
self-conscious laugh.
ÒI donÕt quite view myself in the role of your savior, Chakotay,Ó she had told him,
reaching across the table to cover his hand with her own. ÒI think itÕs more likely
you saved yourself.Ó
But in so many ways, she had saved him, and Chakotay knew it. Her acceptance
of him as First Officer been the first step. He had never asked her if she made the
decision alone, but he did know she had sought TuvokÕs counsel on the matter.
ÒWhen did you talk to Tuvok about me?Ó Chakotay wondered.
ÒActually I talked to him several times. Before I met with you and again after we
ÒAnd did he support your idea?Ó
ÒHe felt it was logical,Ó Janeway allowed. ÒFor a Vulcan thatÕs as close as you get
to support,Ó she said dryly.
ÒYet you didnÕt immediately bring it up with me,Ó Chakotay noted, slipping back
into the chair facing JanewayÕs desk.
ÒNo,Ó she allowed. ÒI didnÕt.Ó
ÒBecause you still werenÕt sure of me,Ó he realized.
She tapped a finger against the side of her tea mug. ÒYou were not an easy man to
judge, Chakotay. In many ways you seemed too good to be true. I just had to
know more.Ó

Janeway decided to take a new tack with her Maquis guest – a more direct one.
Decisions had to be made and she didnÕt like unnecessary delays. It was time to
make some progress.
ÒTell me,Ó she began. ÒAre you a dangerous man?Ó she asked bluntly. She was
still seated behind her desk, fingers tightly knit, the only sign of her impatience
and uncertainty.
Chakotay turned from the observation window. ÒWhat do you think?Ó
She studied him a moment. Many would call him a handsome man, she among
them, but there was an unsettled look about him that was disconcerting. His
actions bespoke a heroic nature, and his choice to leave Starfleet and go fight for
his homeland could be viewed as overly dramatic were it not so clear he did little
he did not believe in. But was he dangerous? To her – as Captain of Voyager? No.
His manner was neither threatening nor intimidating. To the safety their mission?
No. He had carried out his Starfleet oath in good faith. His service records
bespoke that. To the rest of the crew? He was a natural leader, experienced in
handling a wide variety of dedicated and not so dedicated followers. So, no. But
was he dangerous? Yes. On some level the answer had to be yes. Just how, was
what she needed to find out, had to find out.
The tattoo on his forehead was part of the answer. The almost, but not quite,
arrogant attitude was part of the answer. The calm, cool exterior and angry
flicker in the eyes was part of the answer. The contrary side of his nature was part
of the answer. She wondered if this was a puzzle she would regret taking on.
Janeway met ChakotayÕs intense gaze. He had been studying her as well. ÒAre
you a dangerous man?Ó she repeated. She nodded. ÒYes, I think itÕs possible.Ó
ÒThen youÕre in good company,Ó he replied. ÒThe last I heard the entire
Federation agreed with you.Ó He grinned. It threw her off for a moment. He had a
dark sense of humor. She told him so.
ÒBÕlanna would agree with you,Ó he said, pacing around her desk to finally take
the empty chair she had offered earlier. He dropped down gracefully and rested
his hands lightly on the armrests. ÒIt irritates her. Ó
Janeway wondered which spoke more to his contrary nature – his refusal to take
the chair until he was ready, or the knowledge that he deliberately baited his chief
engineer. Both bits of information added to her knowledge base – two more parts
of the puzzle to piece together.
Now Chakotay studied her. Efficient. Calm. The essence of control. But more.
There was a quiet dignity about her you could not ignore, and that he found hard
to challenge despite his best efforts. Respect was the only reaction possible. Her
expression was veiled, but there was no guile. She simply was not choosing to
open herself up to him. That was fair. That was a reasonable reaction. Still, her
eyes challenged him.
He had watched her with her crew, too. She knew her strength, but did not bully.
He appreciated her style. It tended to bring out the best in people. He wondered in
passing if she could find the best in him. So far he had been unsuccessful – as had
Starfleet – as had his father before that. It could be worth the price of admission
just for the promise of that, he thought, however, selfish it might be.
ÒTell me about your relationship with Tom Paris,Ó Janeway asked, deliberately
keeping all judgment from her tone.
Chakotay reacted immediately by pushing up from the chair and standing legs
apart, fists on hips before her. His eyes were charged with defiant anger. Here
was the danger – or a piece of it- Janeway realized.
ÒTom Paris and I had nothing close to a relationship,Ó Chakotay said coldly. ÒHe
interest was in latinum, nothing else.Ó
ÒYet you needed mercenaries like Tom to fill your ranks,Ó challenged Janeway.
The Maquis did not answer. The truth was cutting.
ÒTom saved your life in the Ocampan tunnels,Ó she reminded him.
This truth was even harder. Paris may have used the incident, but he had saved
ChakotayÕs life and at no small risk to his own. It was a redemption, of sorts – or
a start at one. ÒItÕs true that I owe Tom,Ó Chakotay acknowledged, and he
managed to keep the grudging tone from his voice. Janeway added another piece.
ÒAmong my people it would make me his protector,Ó Chakotay added.
ÒAre you?Ó
What was she asking, he wondered. Was he going to do harm to Paris? The man
was no better or worse than any of the mercenaries who had fought with the
Maquis. Chakotay simply disapproved of the whole lot. Did he spare any feelings
for pucah? He had few to spare. So what was the real question. He decided to ask
Janeway. (3)
She appreciated the directness. Another piece to fit into place.
ÒIÕm thinking of making Tom my helmsman,Ó she advised.
There was silence initially. Then ChakotayÕs reply startled her. ÒIf itÕs of any
value,Ó he told her, Òmy opinion is that Paris is both capable and qualified. HeÕs
simply unmotivated.Ó
Janeway was stunned. Just like that. Just like that Chakotay had affirmed her trust
in him, in his judgment, in his ability to separate his personal feelings from the
situation, in his ability to access the qualifications and value of a crewman.
Starfleet had lost a fine officer, she repeated to herself once again.
But there was still the question of his loyalties. He was loyal to his people, to the
Maquis, to his crew. It was a fine start.
She pushed away from the desk and rose. ÒWalk with me,Ó she asked/directed,
gesturing for him to proceed her to the door. ÒI want to show you my ship.Ó

ÒI remember that first tour of Voyager,Ó Chakotay said with a reminiscent grin.
ÒEven after the pounding from the Kazon, Voyager was cleaner, faster, newer
than anything we had in the Maquis or anything I had served on in Starfleet.Ó
ÒWere you jealous?Ó Janeway teased. She leaned forward expectantly.
ÒI wanted to be a part of her,Ó Chakotay said intently.
ÒItÕs what I had hoped you would feel.Ó
ÒSo you were dangling a carrot in front of me hoping IÕd follow.Ó
ÒPerhaps thatÕs true in a way,Ó she admitted. ÒI wanted to see your reaction.Ó
ÒAs I recall I mostly asked questions.Ó
ÒYou gave me exactly what I had hoped for,Ó Janeway said exuberantly. ÒInterest.
I knew if I could get you interested, if you could believe in Voyager as I did, you
would take up her cause.Ó
ÒI believed in you, Kathryn,Ó Chakotay said candidly.
ÒI needed your trust, but not your blind faith.Ó
ÒFaith is a powerful tool,Ó he reminded her. ÒAnd your pride in Voyager
reminded me of the way my father spoke of his Maquis soldiers. I wanted to be
party to that, too.Ó
Janeway knew of his unresolved differences with his father, and of the hurt he
had carried for years. Time had been a balm, but ChakotayÕs experience with the
Sky People had perhaps made the greatest difference. He was at peace with the
memory now and visited his father with his spirit guide whenever he sought a
greater truth.
ÒDid visit your spirit guide before deciding to accept my offer?Ó Janeway
Chakotay shook his head. ÒMy way was clear,Ó he said. ÒDo you remember asking
me what I was leaving behind?Ó
Janeway nodded. ÒYou told me you preferred to focus on what was in front of
ÒIt was easy to say that with nothing behind me.Ó
ÒYou left the Maquis.Ó
ÒI wonder if I was really ever with the Maquis,Ó he sighed. ÒIt was my fatherÕs
ÒI think you do yourself a disservice. Tuvok was most impressed with your efforts
and dedication.Ó In fact, the Vulcan had volunteered the information.
ÒNow who has the blind faith,Ó he laughed.

ÒNever blind,Ó she denied. ÒBut I did learn to have faith in you, Chakotay. IÕm
only sorry it took me so long.Ó
ÒI remember asking what it would be like to work for you,Ó he said. ÒYou told me
we would have to find common ground.Ó
ÒAnd you said I might be surprised at how much we already shared,Ó she nodded
her head. ÒI remember. I also remember the look of surprise on your face when I
asked you to become my First Officer.Ó
ÒWe were in the turbo lift, coming up from engineering,Ó Chakotay recalled.

ÒHold,Ó Janeway called out, and the lift stopped. Chakotay looked at her
ÒWhat do you think of my ship?Ó she asked.
They had walked every deck save for storage. The ship was amazing. There was
no question about that. Neural gel packs to speed processing. Advanced replicator
systems. Power capabilities as close to warp 10 as possible. It was clearly the
jewel of Starfleet.
And the crew was dedicated. There was no doubt about that. No one was being
paid bars of latinum to serve on Voyager. It was an honor to be assigned to her.
More than one crew member had said that and with all sincerity.
But what struck him most was its Captain. Kathryn Janeway was someone worth
serving under. He could see it in every face who greeted them. It made Chakotay
feel more of an outsider than he ever would have expected on a Starfleet vessel.
He didnÕt like the feeling. Being an individualist was one thing. Spending 70
years standing apart from the rest of the crew was something entirely different.
He did not want to just be a passenger in his life. He thought Kathryn Janeway
just might be able to help him make the transition. What he didnÕt know was her
ÒI understand why Voyager was the flag ship,Ó he told her, repeating some of his
ÒIÕd like you to be her First Officer,Ó Janeway said with more abruptness than she
Chakotay was stunned. It was maybe the last thing he expected. ÒStarfleet doesnÕt
take too kindly to wanted felons in their command structure.Ó
ÒWeÕre a long way from home. I think I can safely make this decision.Ó (4)
ÒWhy me?Ó That was the crux of it. What her answer would be. He had no
intention of being her token peacemaker. If she wanted to bring the crews
together, she would have to find another way. But Janeway did not even list that
as an issue.
ÒYouÕre Academy trained,Ó she said instead. ÒYou have Starfleet command
experience plus you commanded in the Maquis.Ó She paused and took a breath.
ÒAnd I think I could trust you with my ship should the need arise. Frankly, there is
no one better qualified.Ó
ÒTuvok,Ó Chakotay suggested.
ÒI judge you to be a better fit for this.Ó
ÒBecause IÕm Maquis,Ó he flared, Òand you can use me to heal the breach?Ó
ÒWhatever breach this may heal with your crew, itÕs likely to open with mine,Ó
she said frankly. ÒSo I think my net gain is even or losing. But yes, I do think itÕs
important to bring the crews together. I would like to integrate your people into
departments on Voyager.Ó
ÒThis wonÕt be very popular with your crew,Ó he warned.
ÒMy crew will be just fine. Can you say the same for your fellow Maquis?Ó
Janeway wondered.
ÒI canÕt speak for them,, but it seems we have a choice – participate or watch.Ó
Ò I judge youÕre not the type of man just to watch.Ó
ÒNor are most of the Maquis,Ó Chakotay noted flatly. ÒAre you prepared for that?Ó
ÒI would give you a field commendation and raise your rank to Commander,Ó she
told him, momentarily ignoring the question. There would undoubtedly be
animosity and tension between the Maquis and Voyager crews. One of
ChakotayÕs jobs as First Officer would be to diffuse it. She told him as much.
ÒWhat about authority ?Ó
ÒI don’t need a figurehead,Ó she replied. ÒIÕd expect you to do your job and IÕd
give you the latitude to do it.Ó
ÒAnd you would back me?Ó
ÒThis will not be easy for either of us at first,Ó she warned. ÒI can only promise to
try to be fair. But I expect the same from you.Ó
ÒAnd if this doesnÕt work? What then?Ó
ÒThen I lock you up for 70 years.Ó

ÒI remember the feel of the uniform,Ó Chakotay said, touching the fabric on his
sleeve. ÒI was used to civilian clothes, but when I put it on, it felt right somehow.Ó
ÒI understand that several of your crew gave you a hard time with the decision.Ó
Chakotay nodded. ÒSeska and BÕlanna were very against it at first. And there
were others who disagreed.Ó
BÕlanna had figured it out for herself and now made a fine Chief Engineer for
Voyager. Seska had never understood why Chakotay didnÕt at least attempt to
take control of Voyager. But it was now clear there were many things about him
that Seska had not understood.
ÒHow did it make you feel to know your fellow Maquis…Ó
ÒConsidered me a traitor?Ó he finished for her. And the hard look that flickered in
his eyes told Janeway more than his words. Of course this would not have been
easy. The Maquis were fighting against the Federation. To most of them, Starfleet
was the Federation. To his fellow Maquis it must have been a stunning shock
when Chakotay changed sides and urged them to do the same. After all, he had
come to them from Starfleet and with TuvokÕs recent Òdefection…Ó
ÒWas it that bad?Ó Janeway asked sympathetically, reaching out to rest her hand
on his arm. ÒI was so busy dealing with our situation, I really didnÕt stop to
consider how difficult it could have been for you. IÕm sorry for that. What reason
did you give them?Ó (5)
ÒI considered saying that as First Officer I could better represent Maquis interests
on the ship,Ó Chakotay told her.
ÒBut that wouldnÕt have been the truth.Ó Janeway knew.
Chakotay took a breath. ÒNo. It wouldnÕt have been the truth, although it was
what most of them wanted to hear.Ó He could still remember SeskaÕs flashing
anger when he told her his decision, and the resounding slap of her hand across
his face. BÕlannaÕs fury had ricocheted off them all. Both had acted as catalysts to
fuel already surging emotions. Ironically it was Suder who was the voice of
ÒSuder?Ó Janeway was surprised. Still, there had been sanity and sense there once.
ÒWhat did he say?Ó
ÒHe said better to have one of our own to take orders from then one of yours,Ó
Chakotay revealed. ÒEven Seska could grudgingly admit the truth of that. And
when they all finally calmed down, I was able to make a few points about 70
years with nothing else to do.Ó
ÒWas there ever talk of mutiny?Ó
ÒMore times than you would care to know.Ó
ÒAnd I said if I heard any more talk of it IÕd personally throw them all in the brig.
It seemed to settle things.Ó Except for Seska. But there was no point in bringing
that up again. She was dead. It was done.
Janeway let out her breath and took a sip of tea. ÒYou had a lot to overcome. I
appreciate that you were willing to take it on.Ó She meant it. And he was a
damned fine First Officer. ÒYou know that was one of the things I was concerned
about. I thought you might just get fed up with it all and step down. Decide to
take your people and find some new world to call home or some new cause to
fight for.Ó
Chakotay nodded. ÒI remember. You asked me about commitment.Ó

Janeway and Chakotay had returned to her ready room. JanewayÕs proposal was
on still the table, but the Maquis had yet to accept. She fixed herself a cup of tea
and offered him one.
ÒThank you. IÕd like that,Ó he said, walking about the room. He was trying to
judge the occupant by the contents. There was precious little personal in the
room. Not really enough to get an impression. It was strange. Perhaps this Captain
simply preferred to keep the private and the professional separate.
ÒLooking for something?Ó Janeway asked as she handed him the tea.
ÒSigns of the owner,Ó he told her candidly. ÒI was a pretty good tracker when I
was growing up. I just wanted to see if I could figure out where you came from.Ó
He took the proffered chair and she seated herself across the table.
ÒHow about where IÕm going?Ó Janeway wondered.
ÒThat, too. IÕm always interested in the journey,Ó Chakotay told her. ÒThe start
and finish are inevitable.Ó
ÒTell me about your journey,Ó she suggested. There were still pieces missing. Still
a few questions to be answered. Even though she had offered the second seat, it
didnÕt mean there was nothing to be learned.
ÒMy journey isnÕt that interesting, Captain,Ó he demurred. ÒBut clearly there is
something thatÕs still bothering you. Would you like to withdraw your offer?Ó
Janeway raised an eyebrow. ÒI donÕt think that will be necessary. I just need a bit
more reassurance.Ó
She took a sip of tea and then deliberately set the cup aside. ÒFrankly, I question
your level of commitment. I wonder how many things have you finished in your
life,Ó she told him. Might as well be candid. Then she could see his reaction as
well as hear his answer.
ÒNow you sound like my father.Ó He bit out the words, more than a hint of anger
and passion behind the cool soft tones. She could see the muscles in his hands
tense as he gripped his cup.
Chakotay forced himself to relax. It was a fair question. That was the reason his
father had asked it so many times. That was the reason Chakotay asked it of
himself so many times. The problem was the answer.
ÒI finished at the Academy. Served in Starfleet,Ó he offered. It might be enough.
ÒAnd left to join the Maquis. And may now leave that to rejoin Starfleet.Ó
He looked down at his tea. All right. Time for the truth, he decided. As much as
he understood it anyway. He met her gaze in frank return. ÒIÕm searching,
Captain. IÕve found worthy causes. There are plenty of them – Starfleet and the
Maquis among them. But they are not my true direction. I have yet to find that.
And when I do, I think peace will follow.Ó
ÒAnd you think you might find it on Voyager?Ó This was interesting. She hadnÕt
expected him to be so candid. He was not the simple Maquis commander she had
initially presumed him to be. Not merely a revolutionary. Not merely a warrior.
Angry. Contrary. Frustrated. Restless. At odds with himself. Thoughtful. That was
the most welcome surprise. She liked to surround herself with thoughtful people.
It made life more interesting, and more challenging. ÒWell?Ó He hadnÕt answered
her question. ÒDo you think you will find the peace youÕre seeking here on
ÒYou donÕt?Ó
ÒSo far peace is the last thing that weÕve been experiencing around here,Ó she said
dryly. ÒIf youÕre looking for peace, I think youÕd better search elsewhere.Ó
ÒI think youÕre wrong,Ó came his flat answer. ÒAnd I think you may help me find
it,Ó he said intently.

ÒI wasnÕt sure what you meant by that,Ó Janeway recalled.
ÒPerhaps because the meaning was unclear to me as well, at that time. But I think
it has come to pass. I have found peace here, Kathryn. And you are responsible.Ó
She raised an eyebrow, recalling his words on New Earth. ÒIÕm not sure I ever
needed a keeper,Ó she told him.
He laughed. ÒNo. YouÕre quite self-sufficient,Ó he agreed. ÒExcept here.Ó He
reached over and touched her heart. ÒAnd here.Ó His fingers grazed her temple.
ÒHeart and soul?Ó she guessed. ÒPerhaps,Ó she conceded. ÒYet you did care for me
on New Earth in a very real sense. The campsite. The bathtub.Ó She grinned at
that memory. ÒAnd I have to admit I liked it. And as my First Officer, you care for
me here as well.Ó
ÒI think youÕre a very worthy cause, Kathryn. You hold the future for us all.Ó
ÒAnd you hold me together?Ó
ÒSomething like that.Ó
Janeway smiled. ÒStarfleetÕs regulation definition of the relationship between
Captain and First Officer is a symbiotic relationship. It was based on some very
strong historical perspectives – Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt of Earth, TÕKar
and Simak of Vulcan, James Kirk and Spock of the original Enterprise.Ó
Chakotay nodded. ÒWhen I first studied it at the Academy, it brought to mind the
relationship between the earth and those who inhabit her. My people have long
viewed that as the greatest of all symbiosis. Man owes a great debt to mother
earth and must serve as her protector and caretaker. In turn, it is she who grounds
him and nourishes his being.Ó
Janeway was silent a moment. ÒI appreciate what you bring to this partnership,
Chakotay,Ó she said finally. ÒOf everything weÕve experienced in this strange new
quadrant itÕs perhaps the most unexpected.Ó
ÒBecause I was a Federation felon?Ó he teased.
ÒTell me, what would you have done if we were unable to reach an
accommodation?Ó she wondered.
ÒWhy I would have taken the ship, Kathryn. WasnÕt you who decided I was a
dangerous man?Ó He met her gaze and then rose and picked up the data padd she
had earlier pushed his way. ÒIÕll listen to this later,Ó he said, making his way to
the door.
ÒThe danger was not at all what I thought it would be,Ó murmured Janeway as the
door slid shut behind him.

It was several hours before ChakotayÕs schedule permitted him time to listen to
JanewayÕs comments. He had changed into off duty clothes – comfortable loose
pants and a tunic he did not bother to fasten. He was barefoot. He set the padd on
the desk and directed it to recall while he fixed himself his own tea and then sat
to listen..
First came his own self-assessment. He reviewed it again. He had rated himself
strong in adaptability, weaker in patience. He was working on improving his
knowledge of engineering, but it was a challenge. BÕlanna was helping when she
had time. His rating on tactical was higher than TuvokÕs according to computer
simulations. He reacted quicker – from the gut – and his response was usually
right on target. In the Maquis his life had depended on it. There were more
standard assessments after that and several other computer determined scores,
and then JanewayÕs comments.
Her distinctive voice touched him and for a moment it seemed she was with him
in the room. She went through his review points one by one, but offered little
disagreement with his ratings. She left only a short message beyond that.
ÒCommander Chakotay came to us seeking not merely direction, but a sense of
peace. It seemed to me a worthy goal and he a worthy risk. From all appearances,
he has achieved his goal along with a renewed commitment to himself and his
future. And as for the risk – here was a man who had little to lose and much to
gain. The same could be said for Voyager, her crew and her Captain, all of whom
have benefited from his presence.Ó



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