Title: A Reason ( Pt1)
"Dismissed, Commander," Janeway said.
Chakotay felt as if he heard the words coming from a long distance. He had no recollection of leaving the Captain's ready room. The next thing he knew, he was in the turbolift and had yet to give a destination. He was still stunned by the news.
He needed the privacy and seclusion of his quarters now more than anything. He still couldn't get his head round the fact that it had all been a ruse that the Captain had thought up and all she needed from him was 'a good performance. She had a spy to catch and the only thing she wanted from him her XO was "genuine reactions." When she had offered him the position of first officer on Voyager, he thought that he had her trust and that the one thing he could offer her, besides his loyalty, was his honor. Now, it appeared that she had put stock in neither.
Coming on top of his betrayal by Seska, he wasn't sure that he could remain as her First officer. When the ruse to flush out Seska had been decided, he put aside his conflicting personal feelings and worked alongside Tuvok to uncover the spy. For him, his word was his bond and that should have showed Tuvok and the Captain that he was equally determined to get home and follow her leadership, but it didn't seem as if they believed him, this incident proved that.
Dishonor and conflicting loyalties surrounded him. Tuvok turned out to be a Starfleet Spy and Seska a Cardassian Spy. Tom was given his parole in order to capture him and as it turns out, was more trusted by the Captain than he was. He had left Star Fleet because he felt that the Federation had betrayed his people, but even out here, 70,000 light years away from home, he still couldn't get away from the feeling that Star Fleet had betrayed him once again.
Was this what he had strongly opposed his father for? When he had listened to Captain Sulu's stories of the Federation and his time serving Star Fleet, he had been so entranced, and that was why he asked to be sponsored. The stories of the Legendary Captain Kirk and his crew had seemed larger than life but it had captured his interest and through all his research before and while in Starfleet, those stories had called to him and made him believe in his calling even more. But with everything going on now, they really were larger than life tales; they seemed like total fiction.
In the stories, the Captain of the Enterprise depended on his first officer and vice versa. Could he depend on Kathryn Janeway? He had read-up on the famous pair and knew that there was a deep bond of brotherhood between them, but prior to the forming of that bond, they were the Captain and First Officer. Through Command school, he had really hoped that if he made first officer, then Captain, he might achieve even a fraction of that kind of trust between his superior/subordinate.
A ring of his buzzer interrupted his musings.
"Come in," he said.
B'Elanna walked into Chakotay's quarters with a little trepidation. She was slightly unsure of how to proceed. This was a man she had sworn to follow and he had given her a home when she had none. Spoken up for her when he didn't need to. She had been very surprised when the Captain had offered her the Chief Engineer's position, to say she was surprised would be an understatement, but she knew it wouldn't have been possible without a recommendation from Chakotay. Now was the time for her to return the favor and she was unsure of how she could accomplish it.
"How are you, Chakotay?" She asked quietly.
"I've had better days, B'El." He answered quietly as well. When he saw her still standing at the door, he realized that she couldn't see into his quarters and the darkness that had previously offered him solace in the face of his depressing thoughts, now seemed oppressing with her introduction.
"Lights, 40 percent." It wasn't too dark and it wasn't too bright. Just enough for them to see each other and give some luminance to the room.
"Come in, have a seat. How about you, are you okay?"
Typical, she thought to herself, thinking of her and deflecting from himself. But she was determined to help him if she could.
"I'm fine, Chakotay, but this time I'm worried about you. I have an idea that it has not been very easy with what is being said and the rumors going round, but is there anything that I can do?"
"Nothing, but what do you mean by rumors?"
"The Maquis heard that you didn't know what the Captain had planned and even though some of them don't agree with what occurred, they feel like they don't have a voice here on Voyager as was promised when you became First Officer. Is it true?"
"The truth here doesn't matter, B'Elanna. We are one crew, one ship and our destination is the Alpha Quadrant. You have got to nip those rumors in the bud and tell them all to do their jobs and we will get home." He responded to her with his voice steadily getting stronger. And then concluded somewhat bitterly, "If there is one thing that Captain Kathryn Janeway wants to do, it is to get to the Alpha Quadrant."
B'Elanna was surprised to hear that tinge of bitterness in his tone. Even in the Maquis, railing against the Federation and Starfleet, he had been angry while accepting of the circumstances but not bitter. This more than anything worried her because, in this state, she couldn't predict what he would do.
"It's okay, I'm talking to the few who have spoken to me, but you know that there is only so much I can do with being stuck in Engineering and let's face it, some people feel that since I am in the 'so-called' chain of command, they can't talk to me. You are the only one who can nip this in the bud and I think you have your work cut out for you."
He didn't have a response to that so he told her to try what she could. As she was leaving he asked where she was going.
"I'm going to the mess hall. It's late and the gamma shift is about to go on, so I'm going to eat, sleep and hope that we have no more crisis till morning because I think I'd take my bat'leth to the next crisis." They laughed at that decreasing the tension.
"Are you coming with me to the mess hall? I know that you haven't eaten and after that program, 'A briefing with Neelix', you need to come out and not stay away from the crew."
"I don't think so B'Elanna, I'll see you for the early meal tomorrow. I need to meditate anyway. See how things are going and if they haven't calmed down by the time you are ready to sleep, please tell Dalby and Ayala to see me at 1000 hrs in my office then drop me a memo letting me know okay. Go on, enjoy your Leola root," he teased, trying to leave B'Elanna with a good feeling.
She nodded, and then left smiling and as the door closed behind her she bumped into Harry Kim.
"Hey Starfleet, are you heading my way to the mess hall?"
"If that is an invitation, Maquis, then I accept. Want to share the joke?" he asked her then noticed how her face tightened for a moment before she changed it and continued smiling but the smile was tight and his heart dropped. He too had heard the rumors but put no stock in them; maybe he shouldn't have dismissed them out of hand so quickly.
"Oh no, Its nothing. Lets go." She said pulling him along.
"I notice you came out from Chakotay's quarters. Is he okay?" he asked, testing the waters to see what her reaction would be.
"Yes he is fine. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, he is my first officer, I am just asking."
By now they had reached to mess hall and were on the line to pick their food. A casual look at the crew eating in the mess hall it seemed like their worries were unfounded but a deeper look showed them that their initial assessment of the way things had been going was a spot on observation. They saw Tom sitting by himself and went over to join him.
"Hi, what's on today's menu after Leola root?" Harry asked as they sat down.
"Hi Harry, It is purple and it is blobby giving you the impression of being jelly but try it and see. Hi B'Elanna" Tom responded and greeted them both simultaneously. The happy expression on his face was a good cover for what was going on in his mind. He too had heard some of the rumors and who would have thought that such a simple thing could get so out of hand. Well there was nothing he could do about it than to ride it out as usual.
"Look guys, I was working on the Captains orders and couldn't tell you anything okay. I didn't have any choice in the matter or I would have told you, please understand." He said to them after a little silence, hoping they would understand and continue to be his friends.
"It's okay. You should follow orders like everyone else. Right B'Elanna." Harry said looking at B'Elanna who had been uncommonly silent through the whole discussion."
"Right." She said to them both and continued eating. This was why she left Starfleet. Following orders, she growled internally. She noticed that Tom didn't apologize but just offered what he thought they needed to hear, a rounded explanation that he thought was enough. It said nothing, yet was to explain everything.
After they had eaten, they left together and B'Elanna quickly left them at the door to the mess hall saying she'd see them in the morning. They said goodnight to her and went on to Sandrines together to play some pool and relax. When they got there, it was full but the grouping of the people was a carryover from what had happened in the mess hall. They were well into the game when Sue and Megan Delaney walked up to them and started talking.
Sitting at the bar, Ken Dalby watched all that was going on with a hard gleam in his eyes. He had noticed Chakotay's absence at the mess hall and at Sandrines. He thought of going to Chakotay's quarters, but even though they were friends, the delta quadrant had put a slight strain on how things happened. He could still remember the punch that Chakotay had given him in the mess hall so many months ago and even though he apologized, it still smarted sometimes. It was hard for him to believe that Chakotay had known nothing about what had been going on. After they had discovered that Seska had been a Cardassian spy, he had spent the evening drinking and reminiscing with Chakotay about the Maquis and what it had been like. Thinking back he couldn't remember there being any discontent from the man who had been his Captain
Ken Dalby was relaxing in his quarters after the rigorous training that he had gone through with Lieutenant Tuvok. After this, he was doubly glad that he had not attended Starfleet Academy. He remembered when some of his friends in their home colony had been so geared up to join and it hadn't been possible for him to do so. Now, he didn't envy them and all they went through. He wondered how his friend Chakotay had gone through it all and achieved so much only to leave when his own home was invaded.
"Chakotay to Dalby" Speaking of the devil and he appears. He thought to himself. I wonder what he wants now?
"Dalby here, Commander"
"If you are free Ken, I wonder if I can see you in my quarters."
"I'll be with you in thirty minutes Commander."
He was surprised but not deterred as he changed into some comfortable clothes before going to the Commander's quarters as he had been invited or should he label that summoned. When he got there, he stood for a moment before pressing the buzzer.
"Come." He heard and then prepared himself for whatever he was to face. What he didn't expect was to see the Commander sitting on the floor of his quarters wearing a T-shirt and some jumpsuit pants with a small table in front of him and resting his back on the couch.
"Slumming Commander?" he asked with a smile in his voice. To which Chakotay lifted his face and answered him with a smile also in his voice
"Ken, come on in. I had some time and thought that I might celebrate your graduation from Starfleet, such as it is. So have a seat and Congratulations." Chakotay said to him while pouring him something to drink.
"Thanks Chakotay. Now I am beginning to understand a little of what you went through. You left that to join the Maquis?" he asked Chakotay as he also sat down and picked up his drink.
"It wasn't like I had a lot of choice then, Ken. Remember how it was. We were dying and there were a limited number of things that could be done to help the colonies. It was a time of peace that knew no peace so I had to leave and help my people. Cards?"
Chakotay asked him as he lifted his deck of cards that he still had left over from his days in the Maquis. Dalby responded in the affirmative and they started playing. Chakotay felt that he had to say something about their altercation in the Mess hall so in the middle of the first game he began
"Ken, I know that you were upset about my hitting you in the mess hall and I apologize about that but there were things that I wouldn't have accepted in the Maquis and I had to let you all know that there is still a chain of command here and certain things would not be tolerated."
"I understand that but, Darn it Chakotay I am your friend and I expected you to understand."
"I was still your friend in the Maquis and you accepted my command as the Captain. You have to do the same here. I am no longer your Captain but there is one here whom we serve under."
"Would you have ever thought that things would change so much for us when you joined the Maquis?"
"Not even in my wildest vision quests, that is for sure." Chakotay answered while they both laughed.
"Chakotay, I know that you were upset when you had to join up with us but are you okay now that you are back with Starfleet?" Ken asked even as the game continued.
"It's not like I had a lot of choice here. It was either go down with the crazy horse or join Janeway and Voyager so I chose the lesser of two evils."
"Do you trust her? I mean, we are out here alone and it's a long time to get home and anything can happen to us. It is the same Federation that gave away our homes."
"I can't really answer that for you Ken. The same as I can't answer for anybody but myself, but what I can tell you is that she is one strong woman and she is determined to get back to the Alpha quadrant. Our fight with the Federation will have to wait till we are where the Federation is aware of us. Anything else defeats our purpose of getting home."
Ken nodded his head and started grinning.
"What, why are you smiling so much. What did I say?"
"You fancy her"
"No! I do not."
"You forget Cha, I know you. I know when you fancy a woman and you fancy her."
"I don't fancy her. I just like her that's all and I think she has the indomitable will to get us home. But can you imagine if we were not here and Seska was still with us?"
"Yes, who would have thought that she would turn out to be a Cardassian and a spy at that? I still remember the first time that we met her."
"Yea. That was some fight that we had on our hands. Then it seemed like we had a good deal but looking at it now, it seems so contrived. They set us up Ken; they set us up bad."
"Then I guess that there has been something good to come out of our stay in the Delta."
"Yes. One thing about Voyager that I am grateful for is this. Imagine being stuck in the delta with the Crazy Horse and having Seska on board. She would have sold us many times over. Did we ever think of selling people off in the Maquis?" he asked laughing. They laughed at that and Chakotay then continued
"Speaking of fancying, I noticed that you had grown closer to Gerron during the training sessions. Have you done anything about that attraction you had for him while we were in the Maquis".
"Yes, I have told him that I am attracted to him but he wants to take it slow. You know that he had just joined the Maquis when we got trapped here and that was his only family but he has been spending time with me and we are taking it slowly."
"I wish you all the best with him. I know that he will be happy with you but If you don't treat that boy right, then what happened with Zakriah will seem like a piece of cake."
Ken winced when he remembered the series of punches that Chakotay gave him when he had a one night stand with a young man from the colonies who had been a virgin and in love with him. He hadn't been aware of that fact at the time and when he left the boy, he took it really badly and a lot of people noticed. Chakotay took him to one side and beat him senseless for not taking the boy's feelings into consideration.
He remembered thinking at the time that though this man could be very fierce and scary to people who met him, he had a kind streak that ran a mile wide and sense of honor that it would be wise not to cross.
"Relax warrior, I'll be careful. This time I feel something for him and I'll allow it to grow. I could love him Chakotay." Ken said this with a reflective tone in his voice. Chakotay heard this and thought to advise his friend.
"Do go slowly this time Ken. Matters of the heart shouldn't be taken lightly and I know that you know how to love. This time you may have too teach someone else without loosing yourself at the end of it. Love him, yet love yourself as well."
"I'll teach, Chakotay, maybe I'll learn this time at well." This was in keeping with some bad experiences that the two men had in the past.
"I hope we both learn. I certainly learned from Seska."
They both laughed at that. Seska had known that Chakotay was bisexual but preferred the company of men so while in his cell, she tried all she could to get him to stay with her but Chakotay would not. He had only spent a night with Seska when he decided that it wouldn't work but Seska had not taken him seriously when he said that he would not have a relationship with her. He told her the score but she had been determined to change his mind and had tried all manners of 'feminine wiles' and it had become a running joke between Ken and himself to think up what the next move she'd make before she would. He had definitely learned about what the feminine mind could come up with.
When they finished that bottle of Synthenol, Chakotay replicated another one and then continued their talk reminiscing about the past and their fight.
"Do you think that we will win this fight with the Federation Chakotay? I mean, we are not there to help them and they are really chasing us to the ground. Think we will get home in time?"
"What I know Ken is that my father, Kolopak of Dorvan V died for his tribe and his colony and I have picked up the fight in his name and will not stop. The Federation betrayed us and we have to make them listen and see this truth."
They continued on that vein until it was late, and then Ken lifted his last glass and proposed a toast "Here is to the end of our fight with the Federation and a quick return to the Alpha."
"Here, Here." Chakotay responded standing up. He had enjoyed the evening but they had to bring it to an end.
"Thank you for coming Ken. I know that it seems hard and I had to be especially tough on you but things are different in the Delta and we have to make the best of things okay. I hope that we can do this again some other time and then maybe you would bring Gerron along." They walked to the door and Chakotay said, "Good night my friend and take it easy."
"Goodnight Chakotay. I had a nice time too and as for Gerron and myself, I guess we'll see you when we see you."
As he left the Commander's quarters, Dalby thought to himself how lonely Chakotay seemed to be. While in their Maquis, their cell was small and they related to each other like family and VOYAGER was too big to maintain that kind of closeness. But they seemed to be handling it okay and he was glad that despite Chakotay's command position, he still considered him a friend. It was also obvious that he liked the Captain and they spent some of their time together so it was good that he wasn't alone at the top
As Ken came back to himself ending his musings, he didn't know how to proceed. All this time he had been thinking that Chakotay had some friendship with those at the top but from this present quandary, it seemed that Chakotay was really lonely at up there. He didn't know what to do to help his friend but one thing he did know was that he really didn't like the man who was at the bottom of the present predicament -- Tom Paris, the man who was enjoying himself like there was nothing else on his mind. His comm. badge interrupted his thoughts.
"Torres to Dalby." Ken was surprised. He wasn't particularly close to B'Elanna but knew that she was also close to Chakotay.
"Dalby here, what can I do for you Lieutenant."
"Please, can you meet me at my quarters as soon as possible?"
"Of course Lieutenant, I'll be there in five minutes."
He then took one last look around the bar, finished his drink and left without making it too obvious that he was in a hurry. What he didn't know was that the two men playing pool had heard his conversation and Tom thought it was ominous that B'Elanna was calling Dalby. As far as he knew, they were not friends even in the Maquis. It had something to do with Ken having propositioned B'Elanna at some point to which she had rudely stopped him in his tracts. For her to have called him, then it was something serious. He also saw a dawning look on Harry's face as he too reached the same conclusion even without the Maquis background. When they saw him leave, they also decided to call it a night.