Lines in the Sand: Night, part III

By Seema

They are all in the holodeck. I know this because I wanted to call a staff meeting for no other reason than to alleviate the anxiety that is eating away at me as the minutes continue to tick away. But when I queried for their locations, the computer in its dismally unsympathetic voice informed me that Lieutenant Paris and Ensign Kim were on the holodeck and evidently, had been there for several hours.

I wanted to talk to someone, anyone, and Tuvok has been gone for the last three hours to monitor the proceedings against Torres and Chakotay.

And so Harry and Tom, it is.

I stand outside of the holodeck, wondering nervously if I should enter, and then, squaring my shoulders, I go in.

The scene is a garage and smells vaguely of gasoline. I see Tom's legs beneath the shining red car; Harry is sitting on a rather lopsided stool, watching with an expression of disinterest of his face. He immediately gets to his feet when he notices my presence.

"Captain!" he exclaims.

"At ease," I say. "I apologize for interrupting."

Tom pushes out from beneath the car; he is wearing that awful gray jumpsuit, his gray turtleneck peeking up from beneath the collar. His eyes, like everything else about him recently, are hard and unfriendly.

"Any word?" he asks, sitting up. "Can we get off this ship? Honestly, Captain, I would have preferred to stay in the Delta Quadrant if I had known our homecoming would be like this."

"Tuvok is on the station now," I say. "When he comes back, we'll know what is going on."

"Anything on Chakotay and B'Elanna?" Tom persists.

"Nothing," I frown. The silence from Starfleet on the fate of my two officers is loud and grating.

"Anything from my father? He hasn't responded to any of my messages," Tom says. His face crumples for a second and then rearranges itself into an expression of nonchalance - very similar to the face he wore during his first few years on Voyager, when he was trying so hard to pretend that the animosity directed towards him by the crew did not hurt him.

I knew better though. Tom Paris, consummate ladies' man, joker and gambler, has feelings and until B'Elanna Torres loved him, he never showed them.

I reach forward to touch his forearm, "No, Tom, there has been no word from your father, but that could also be because of the communications blockade."

"Captain, isn't that odd?" Harry asks from behind me. "It's almost as if we are the criminals."

"It's all part of protocol," I answer.

"That might work for Seven," Tom says. "But you can't fool us. What's going on?"

I sigh, "I won't keep anything from you, Tom, but I honestly don't know. Tuvok is the only one who is allowed to attend the sessions. When he returns, I will certainly ask him."

"Do you think they are investigating you?" Tom asks. His voice is nonchalant, but I pick up the faint tremor underlying his tone.

"It's a good possibility," I admit.

"If they are investigating you, what will happen to the rest of us?" Harry asks. He looks frightened; I don't blame him. Seven years ago, he was just starting on a brand new career, one that should have been full of promise.

Who knows where Harry could have been if I hadn't lost us all in the Delta Quadrant?

"Nothing, I expect," I say easily, and I am as sure of this answer as I was about us getting home.

"They want to split us up," Tom says. "All of us."

"That's not true."

"I expect I'll be going back to New Zealand," Tom goes on. "The weather there is pretty nice; it won't be so bad."

"Don't be ridiculous," I say sharply. "Our previous arrangement stands. I have been assured of that. You have your freedom."

"And B'Elanna?" Tom demands. "What about her?"

"Tom," Harry says. "You heard the Captain; Starfleet hasn't been exactly forthcoming about its intentions."

"I promise you, Tom, I'll do everything I can for B'Elanna."

Tom scoots out completely from beneath the car and gets to his feet; his expression is hard.

"It may not be enough," he says.

"Tom," Harry says.

"What the hell," Tom says. He angrily stuffs tools into the metal case by his feet.

"What's going on?" I ask, bewildered by my helm officer's behavior.

"Don't you find it a bit odd that we are all still here on Voyager?" he asks, those bright eyes flashing. "Isn't it odd that no one except Tuvok can see B'Elanna and Chakotay? Not even you are allowed off of this ship. That doesn't make sense, Captain. There's something going on and I want an explanation."

"I don't have one."

"I didn't think so, no offense, Captain."

We make an odd group there in the holodeck and I regret my intrusion; no doubt Harry was counseling his friend. Tom's face has gone red, Harry is suddenly interested in a spot of grease on the floor and I simply feel uncomfortable.

"Tuvok to Janeway."

I take a deep breath, thankful for the interruption.

"Janeway here," I say, aware of Tom's curiosity and Harry's continued disinterest.

"I need to see you. Right away."

"On my way. Janeway out."

I turn to look at the two men before I exit.

"Tom, I will get you the answers you need," I tell him softly. He merely shrugs his shoulders.


I should have known, even given my close friendship with B'Elanna, that I would be the last to know about her relationship with Tom Paris. Maybe it was because I closed my eyes, refused to see the signs of an infatuation
morphing rapidly into something else. I convinced myself that they were too different, or was it too alike?

Whatever it was, I did not see it, did not know.

After Voyager's crew served as guinea pigs for the nameless aliens - yes, I know, but they didn't exactly introduce themselves - there was no one on the ship who didn't know about Tom and B'Elanna. And I think, B'Elanna felt a bit of guilt for not saying something to me first and that's why she showed up at my door, a bit drained from a double-shift, but still radiant in a way only B'Elanna can be.

"Come in," I said. I was lounging on the sofa in loose pants and shirt - comfortable clothes, perfect for unwinding.

"Hi," she said shyly from the door. I noted the bottle of wine in her hand.

"Come in," I repeated, straightening. "What's going on?"

"I had this lying around," she said. "A rare bottle from Dorvan IV. How does that sound to you?"

"Terrific," I said. "Let me get the glasses."

The vineyards on my home world, Dorvan IV, had never been known for producing much by the way of wine. In fact, Dorvan's wines were decidedly mediocre, most of the grapes sour and because of the constant Cardassian attacks, never allowed to ferment in oak barrels long enough. But still, I appreciated B'Elanna's gesture, for what it meant; Dorvan's vineyards were long gone, burned to a crisp.

"It's a red," she said. "Merlot."

I wrinkled my nose.

"Yeah, I know," B'Elanna said. "But let's give it a shot, okay?"

I got the wineglasses out of a cupboard and put them on the table; B'Elanna poured the wine.

"It's been a while," she said. "Since we talked, you and me."

"Yeah," I said. "It's been... busy."

And I wanted to kick myself for my stupid answer, for not putting more thought into my words and for not saying what I really wanted to.

"How are you feeling?" B'Elanna asked conversationally.

"Okay," I said. "Still a little wobbly in the muscles."

"I know the feeling," B'Elanna said. "I felt slightly... out of control?"

"That's one way of putting it," I raised my glass. "Cheers."


I leaned back in my chair and sipped the wine.

"Not bad," I said. "Not quite as dry as I feared, but still bitter."

B'Elanna swallowed hard. "I'm glad you like it."

She put her glass down, "Chakotay, I didn't come here to drink wine with you."

"I know," I said. "You just needed an excuse, though you never needed one before."

"You're one of my best friends," she said sincerely. Actual warmth seeped into her voice and for a fleeting moment, I wondered if this was Tom Paris' work. "I should have told you about Tom."

"It would have been nice to hear it from you and not from Tuvok."

"Yeah," B'Elanna's eyes drifted to a spot on the wall directly above my head. "I guess I wasn't sure, didn't know
what everyone would think."

"Does it matter?"

"I don't want people to think I've lost my head."

"You have though, haven't you?"

B'Elanna's lips parted slightly and then she smiled.

"Yes," she said. "I didn't think... didn't imagine that it would be like this. I never imagined that Tom would... care back."

I pushed my empty wineglass away and leaned back in my chair.

"You know what I think about Tom Paris," I said. "He's irresponsible, dangerous, never serious about anything. B'Elanna, I'm worried about you. He won't take care of you the way," and I took a deep breath here. I wanted to finish the sentence, say, "won't take care of you the you deserve to be taken care of," but I couldn't. I looked at B'Elanna, noted that her eyes had a gleam to them that I had never seen before; a glitter of an emotion that I never thought I would see in her eyes.

"I know the risks," B'Elanna said earnestly. "I know what Tom is like and it doesn't matter. My eyes are open and I'm not under any illusions. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. All I know is that when I'm with him, the rest of the world blurs and I see only him. I could be making a mistake but it's my mistake to make, Chakotay."

"I don't want you to get hurt, B'Elanna. Tom Paris has that reputation. He," I couldn't finish. Visions of Tom's past conquests flitted through my head and I hated to think of B'Elanna as just another notch on Tom's belt. "I just want you to be careful."

"Believe me," B'Elanna said. "I pushed him away as much as I could. He got to me, Chakotay, and I don't know how. On day, he was this annoying itch and then suddenly, he was there, under my skin. I couldn't stop thinking about him, even looked forward to spending time with him. And I'm sorry. There were times when I wanted to tell him something even before I wanted to tell you. I think that's when I knew. And yeah, I know what Tom's reputation is like and I'm not going to delude myself and think that I'm the one who is going to change him."

Our eyes met for an uncomfortable second; I was the one who looked away because I knew that I would not see in B'Elanna's eyes what was reflected in mine.

"As long as you know," I said.

"I know," she whispered, heavy inflection laid on the last word. She laid her hand on top of mine. "I know, Chakotay."

We sat there in awkward silence for a little while and then B'Elanna got up, nearly knocking over her chair in the

"I've got to go," she said. "Um, Tom."

"Yeah," I said.

"Good night."

"Good night."

B'Elanna vanished into the corridors of Voyager, the doors hissing shut behind her. I looked at the half-empty wine bottle; maybe finishing it would put me in a deep, dreamless sleep, safe from the nightmarish image of B'Elanna lying in Tom Paris' arms and his hands on her skin.


"What is it?" I meet Tuvok en route to my quarters. He looks perturbed - or as perturbed as a Vulcan possibly can. I wonder if he is thinking about his wife, wondering about his children; or maybe he is single-minded, thinking only of the task ahead. "How are Chakotay and Torres?"

"They are being interrogated," he says in that flat voice. I sigh; it was not the answer I wanted. I wanted to know how they were; were they well-fed? Were they being well taken care of? Were they sleeping at night? How were they feeling?

And these were answers that Tuvok would be unable to provide me.

"What are they being questioned on?" I ask, deciding to sidestep the issue of Chakotay and Torres' well-being
for right now.

"Everything," Tuvok says. "From the moment they arrived on Voyager until the day we returned home."

"Anything in specific?"

"No, I have yet to discern a pattern. They were interested in Seska."

"Of course. Who wouldn't it be? She caused us no end of problems," I say. I remember Seska, as I last saw her - her long red hair flowing down her back, her Cardassian ridges prominent above her eyes, and in her arms, cradling the child she claimed was Chakotay's. "What do you think the Federation intends to do with the Maquis?"

"I do not believe the outcome will be positive. The Federation, and by association Starfleet, has not forgotten the crimes of the Maquis," Tuvok says, his voice evenly modulated. He indicates the door to my quarters. I enter the pass code and we enter. Tuvok sits stiffly in the armchair, but I let decorum go for the time being and sprawl on the sofa.

"There is a certain faction intent on prosecuting them to the full extant of the law," my friend continues.

"After all they have done for Voyager? I couldn't have asked for a better first officer than Commander Chakotay."

"They have yet to ask about their contributions to Voyager," Tuvok says flatly.

"What about B'Elanna? Without her, we would have never survived. Voyager wouldn't have lasted a minute in the Delta Quadrant without her expertise."

"Lieutenant Torres has yet to speak. They do not seem interested in questioning her."

"But they have her and Chakotay both? Why? Has something happened to Starfleet while we were gone?"
Tuvok shrugs.

"I do not know," he answers with maddening equanimity. "But there is something else. They will allow you to attend the questioning tomorrow."

My mood brightens immediately.


"Tomorrow," Tuvok nods. "They said you can be present."

And I know, from the tone of Tuvok's voice, that it cannot be good. My stomach churns and I feel the beginnings of a headache threatening behind my temples and at the nape of my neck.

"I'll be there," I say hollowly. "Tell them... tell them I will be there."

Tuvok pauses; there is something more and he finds it difficult to begin. And somehow, I know where he is going with this question.

"They are asking about your relationship with Commander Chakotay," Tuvok says quietly.

"That's none of their business."

"Nonetheless, the question was asked."

"Damn them!" I lean forward on the table, dropping my head. "Is nothing sacred?"

"Apparently not."

"Good lord," I said. "I don't believe this. If they want to put me on trial, then they should. There is no reason for this... farce. No reason to detain B'Elanna and Chakotay if it's me they want to know about."

"I have yet to discern their true motivations," Tuvok says. "I am unable to extrapolate their intentions where Voyager and the Maquis are concerned. I confess, I find the whole proceedings to be illogical."

"I imagine they are on a fishing expedition," I say. "They are simply looking for something, anything. Why, I cannot say."

"I do not know either," says Tuvok. "But it makes me uneasy."

I straighten up, feeling the strength return to my backbone. I nod at Tuvok's remark, grateful that he feels the same trepidation that I do.

"I know the feeling," I tell him.

The two of us head down the corridor towards the messhall; I could really use a cup of coffee.

The messhall is full when we get there; bored crew members are chatting listlessly or playing variations of
chess, derata and other strategy games.

Neelix greets us when we enter.

"Captain, Mr. Vulcan," he says.

"Coffee, hot," I tell him, not bothering to specify anything else; there is a dull pounding in my head, one that only coffee can relieve.

"Coming right up, Captain."

Tuvok and I find an empty table in the furthest corner of the messhall. Through the windows, we can see a bit of the starbase and the workers tethered to the hull.

"It will take years to repair the damage from the war," I muse.

"The war did leave both sides badly decimated," Tuvok agrees.

Neelix brings the coffee over.

"Did you want something, Commander?" Neelix asks.

"I am fine."

"It's quiet in here, Neelix," I say.

"I have tried my best," he says. "The crew is concerned about their Maquis friends."

"That's surprising," I say. "Considering the tensions prior to our arrival in the Alpha Quadrant."

"Uncertainty does that, Captain," Neelix sits down next to Tuvok. "The Maquis withdrew into themselves because they were unsure of their reception in the Alpha Quadrant and what that would mean for their Starfleet comrades. They were unsure whether their friendships would survive what was to come."

"So rather than facing that, they chose to cut the ties themselves?" I ask.

"Yes," Neelix nods. "That is my impression. It would help, Captain, if you spoke to the crew and reassure them that the Maquis will be all right."

I look down at my coffee mug.

"Captain?" Neelix asks. "They will be all right, won't they?"

"I hope so," I tell him. "But I know they will be grateful for the support of their friends. That much I'm sure of."

"But you don't know for sure that everything is going to be all right?"
I look at Tuvok whose lips have drawn into a thin line. I've seen that expression many times during our long friendship.

"For what it's worth, Neelix," I reach across the table to cover Neelix's hand with mine. "I'm glad you decided to stay with us. I think we could all use a morale officer."


The first time we made love, there were candles. It was right after Kashyk and the music playing in the background was not Mahler.

"Grieg?" I asked after a couple seconds of straining. Kathryn nodded.

"Yes," she said. "Were you expecting something else?"
She was challenging me, wanting me to bring up Kashyk, but I shook my head.

"This particular composition," I said. "I just... never mind."

Dinner was not unusual for us; we ate together quite frequently, usually to discuss private personnel matters that could not be brought up in public.

This night, she had dimmed the lights, lit the candles, and the table was set with silverware and china I had never seen before.

"Looks good," I said awkwardly. "Smells good too."
Kathryn smiled, indicating the chair opposite her.

"Have a seat," she said.

"What is for dinner?" I asked.

"Hmm... we start with a Caesar salad," she said, spooning some Romaine lettuce into my place. "And then follows a tomato basil soup. The main entrée is a creamy pesto linguini and then, chocolate mousse to finish off."

"Sounds wonderful."

"Should be," Kathryn ladled soup in my bowl. "I replicated them using Chef Lanzetti's recipes."

"Chef Lanzetti," I smiled. "I remember. Right outside of the Academy grounds. Best Italian food outside of Italy."

"That's right," Kathryn said, seating herself in front of me. She was wearing her gray T-shirt and black uniform pants, but a tiny glint of silver chain peeked from beneath the circular neck of the shirt. "And the wine... a Merlot from 2369."

"A good year," I said approvingly.

"You know your wines," she said, her voice dropping low and throaty. She poured the liquid into the crystal wineglasses by our plates. "This does seem like an indulgence, doesn't it?"

"A bit, but everyone is allowed once in a while."

"Including a captain?"

"Especially a captain," I smiled.

"So," she leaned back in her chair, her right shoulder slightly forward. "Do you think I was wrong about Kashyk?"

"Does it matter?"

"I suppose not," she rubbed a finger along the edge of her glass. "But I wonder... what if? Would it have been so terrible?"

"Depends what you're talking about," I answered lightly.

She leaned forward, her hands on her thighs, her chin thrust earnestly forward.

"I suppose you're right," and then she laughed a little schoolgirl's laugh.

I finished my salad and put the bowl aside and then started in on the soup.

"This is excellent, Kathryn," I said sincerely.

"Thank you," she smiled. And then, a shadow crossed her face. "It had been so long, Chakotay."

"I know the feeling."

"You at least had... Seska," she said this last name with a bit of disgust.

"Not really," I answered. "Not since coming aboard Voyager."

Janeway held up a hand, "Really, Chakotay, your personal affairs are none of my business."
I put my fork down, almost ready to argue with her. After all, she was the one who had brought Seska up, not me.

"I suppose if you never suspected Seska, then it wasn't so bad that I didn't suspect Kashyk of duplicity... at first," she said pensively. "I did figure it out, Chakotay, and still, I played him. Played him as he played me."

I twirled linguini around my fork.

"Fresh pesto," I said. "Now that's quite the achievement."

"Aeroponics," she beamed. "Fresh basil. I had a few small plants before... before we ended up here."

She said the word "here" with the same disgust she reserved for Seska.

In the candlelight, Kathryn Janeway's hair took on a golden-red tint and I loved the way the light reflected off of the gentle waves just above her ear.

Of course, these were sentiments I would never share with Kath - Janeway - her.

We continued eating in silence and I only lifted my head once to comment on the music.

"Not Grieg anymore," I said. "Chopin."

"Very good," she said as harsh piano chords sounded in the background. "Do you know which one?"

"Hmm. `Raindrops,' perhaps?"
"I never knew you were a connoisseur of romantic music," Janeway drained her glass of the last of the wine.

She tipped her head back, revealing a long expanse of white neck. I could see the longitudinal lengths of ligaments running from just below her jawbone and disappearing into the small hollow at the junction of her clavicle bone.

"I had a friend... at the Academy," I paused. "Elise."

"Elise?" Janeway blinked a couple times, her long lashes fluttering girlishly. Damn if she wasn't flirting.

"Elise," I confirmed. "She played the piano. A virtuoso. Her father, however, had other plans for her. I think she eventually became a science officer on the Valiant."

"You don't know for sure?"

"No," I answered. "We didn't see each other for very long."

"Just long enough to pick up some Grieg and Chopin?"

"Among other things," I smiled.

Janeway got up, pushing her chair back so hastily that it nearly tipped over.

"Computer, play Janeway selection theta nine," she said harshly. Startled by her abrupt mood swing, I got up
from my chair.

The music filling the captain's quarters very different than the previous selections. This was a vocal piece, a smooth tenor filling the air.

"What is it?" I asked.

"A favorite of the Doctor's," Janeway said. "It's called `Someone to Watch Over Me.'"

"Sounds... interesting."

"You don't care for it?"

"It takes some getting used to."

"I think the singer is Bajoran."

"Now that's something different."

We were now only inches away from each other, and without thinking, I reached up and tipped her chin up slightly so that we were looking directly into each other's eyes.
Janeway - no, Kathryn - slipped her arms around my neck, pressing her cheek against the scratchy wool of my uniform. My own arms slipped to her back, and then down lower. as far as a first officer could possibly dare.

I don't know the exact second her lips first met mine and I can't even really recall the sensation of skin against skin; I wish it were more memorable, but it wasn't. It was almost like a flutter of wind, barely detectable, and I would wonder if the kiss - as I thought of it - had even happened.

Somehow, we tumbled onto her bed in a tangle of legs and arms, panting heavily. How we undressed, I don't know, but before long, there was nothing between her skin and mine and my lips were against that throat I had not so long ago admired.

I think at one point I might have said her name, might have said Kathryn, but again - like everything else - that
too might be a figment of what I wanted.

Later, we lay side by side, neither of us touching. She had pulled up the sheets, covering her breasts, and her hands were folded neatly on her stomach.

I didn't know what to say. I mean, what do you say? Starfleet doesn't cover this in its classes, doesn't tell you what to do in the minutes after... the minutes after you made love to a superior officer.

What was I supposed to say?

"Red alert, Captain? Loading phaser banks. Ready to fire on your mark."

But then, as Seven would say, the comparison was flawed. Or was it?

I waited for her to speak for, wanted her to speak first.

Kathryn turned her head slightly, her eyes lolling all the way to the left.

"I will see you at breakfast then?" she asked. "At 0700 hours?"

I cleared my throat, "That sounds good."

I got up, got dressed, and I was keenly aware of her eyes on me, sweeping the length of my body.

I left and knew that the evening had been no accident. She had planned it from beginning to end and it didn't matter who it had been that night. Kashyk or me, or even Tom or Harry, you name him, it didn't matter that night to Kathryn Janeway.

I knew it from the music.

Grieg's "Erotic."

I never stood a chance.


The interior of Starbase 87 is not any more inviting than the outside; in fact, access is restricted in general, and if I look out of the corners of my eyes, I can see the gaps in heavy metal plating that separates us from the cold vacuum of space.

They allowed Tom to accompany me, in addition to Tuvok; for this small favor, I am grateful, though I figure the
Admiral - Tom's father - must have had something to do with it.

Tom is visibly agitated, occasionally running his hand through his blond hair; the tresses stand awkwardly on end right about his forehead, giving him that boyish quality that we women find so damn charming.
Tom and I walk shoulder to shoulder with Tuvok a step or two in front of us. It is quiet here, very few personnel

anywhere to be seen.

Not for the first time, I wonder at the parsimony of our welcome. Tom glances over at me and I pause, waiting for him to speak.

"The war," he says. "We won."

Tuvok's eyebrows arch up and then fall back down. His lips tremble slightly as if he is going to speak, but instead he sucks in air, hollowing out his cheeks, and then lets it out in soft sigh.

"That is what the history books will say," I answer carefully. "The Federation won the Dominion War when Cardassia broke the alliance and joined us."

"You know," Tom looks around at the deserted storefronts and the debris piled against the walls. "When my children ask about the Dominion War, I'm not going to be able to tell them anything. Won't be able to share with them anything that is not already in a history book. They'll ask, and I'll have to answer that I spent the whole damn war in the Delta Quadrant."

There it is, that silent accusation again. My shoulders stiffen; I do not know how to answer Tom's statement and I don't think he is necessarily looking for anything from me anymore. Truth be told, I don't think Tom needs me anymore. He has validated himself in his father's eyes and he has B'Elanna to comfort and coddle him. What he does with his life now is completely up to him; he no longer needs to be rescued or rehabilitated.

"Your experience in the Delta Quadrant was unique," Tuvok says without irony. Again I look at my old friend, wonder what exactly is going through that analytical mind of his. We have talked, once or twice, about our experiences on the Borg cube, but Tuvok never dwells on the emotional aspect of our assimilation; he merely points out that our motives were justified, our mission solid.

Tom's face softens and for a moment, I am reminded of a cocky young man telling me brashly, "Hell, I'd be the
best pilot you could have."

Impulsively, I squeeze Tom's arm.

"Our experiences, our studies," I say. "It will add so much to the Federation's database of knowledge. Perhaps some of our..." I pause as I notice a Starfleet delegation heading towards us.
Until this moment, I have been grateful for the lack of obvious Starfleet security. But as the cliché says, all good things eventually must come to an end as I make quick note of the phasers attached securely to hips.

Admiral Rodney McArthur leads the group; his lips drawn into a straight line, his eyes unsmiling.

"Captain," he says crisply. "I am sorry I was not there to meet you when you came aboard."

"It's good to see you again, Admiral."

"It's been a long time, Kathryn," his voice softens as he says my name. I take his proffered hand and add a bit of a squeeze, hoping he remembers our camaraderie for the one year we served together under Owen Paris.
"Everyone is very eager to hear of your adventures in the Delta Quadrant. You truly fulfilled Starfleet's mission: going where no one has gone before."

I nod, biting my lip so that the words - "what have you done with Chakotay and B'Elanna" - won't slip out prematurely.

"And this must be Tom Paris," McArthur says. "Your father is very proud of you, boy."

Tom draws himself up straight, visibly offended.

"I would like to talk to my father," Tom says. "Is he here?"

"He is on his way," McArthur answers. "He was, um, delayed on his way out from San Francisco. Ongoing negotiations with various parties, reconstruction efforts, you know, the usual fallout after a war."

"Looks like this station took a beating," I observe.

"Yes, we were in the thick of it," McArthur says. "Those were some rough days, but it makes you appreciate the peace that follows much more. Come, let's go. We don't have much time."

We follow McArthur through the corridors, the security delegation following discreetly behind us. As we go deeper within the heart of the station, I notice that the walls are cleaner, the damage less obvious. Sterility permeates the air, the signs that the oxygen recyclers are working at full capacity.

"Admiral," I hurry to catch up. "Where are we going?"

"Commander Tuvok mentioned that you wanted to attend the trial of the Maquis," McArthur says coolly.

"Trial?" I stop. "I thought you were just investigating them, asking some questions."

"Kathryn, you should know better."

"They served on my crew, ably I might add, for seven years! I couldn't have asked for a better group of people. I can't believe you - the Federation, Starfleet - would put them on trial after everything we - they - have been through."

"Believe me, Kathryn, we considered all of what you are saying," McArthur says in a soothing voice. "But we can't ignore that a crime - many crimes - were committed against Starfleet personnel and Federation protectorates. They are terrorists."

"Were," I correct him icily. "Were terrorists. The war is over, Admiral, and they served their time. Believe me, the Delta Quadrant was no picnic. We suffered plenty when we were there."

"We're aware of that. Chakotay has been quite forthcoming with his information. He's a nice fellow, Kathryn. You did well to pick him to serve as your first officer, though frankly, I must question your judgment in picking a Maquis soldier before looking at a member of your Starfleet-loyal crew."

Tom's cheeks are red now and out of the corner of my eye, I see Tuvok place a restraining hand on Tom's shoulder.

"The death count was too high, Kathryn," McArthur says again in that irritatingly condescending voice. "We looked at the numbers and we looked at the cost estimates. Again, someone had to be held responsible-"

"So you're going after my people?" I ask flatly.

"Your people?" McArthur laughs slightly. "Seven years ago, Kathryn, you went after them. Your mission was to retrieve the Maquis ship and bring back Tuvok. I would say you were successful, wouldn't you?"

With that, he turns and continues walking. My cheeks are flaming, my heart thumping so fast that I feel it will leap right out of my ribcage.

"What does he mean?" I whirl on Tuvok, much to the irritation of the guards standing directly behind.

"Captain," Tuvok's eyes hold an obvious warning for me.

"They've already made their decision," Tom says flatly. "They probably didn't even listen to a word the Commander or B'Elanna had to say; they had already made up their mind and they kept us locked up on Voyager until it was too late for us to do anything at all."

"Tuvok," I say. My Vulcan friend, so incapable of lying and so unwilling to show emotion, closes his eyes for a brief second before nodding his head.

 Go to part four

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