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After both men took a long drink of water, Chakotay asked, "What would you think about a swim before we leave the holodeck?"
"I think that would be heaven." Tom said with a smile.
"There's a small lake this way." Chakotay said as he led the way away from the fire.
Tom followed silently in the light from the twin moons of Dorvan Five.
"Now that you've been through the ritual, what do you think?" Chakotay asked casually as he led the way down a well worn path.
"I don't know what to think. I feel like a different person." Tom said carefully.
Chakotay smiled and said, "You're still the same person Tom. I wouldn't ever try to change you. But hopefully after having had these experiences, you'll be able to continue to grow and develop into the man that you ultimately want to become."
"Thanks Chak. I really had the feeling that you were trying to make me into the type of person you could relate to instead of myself." Tom said reluctantly.
"If you've changed at all, then it's to be more of your true self than the image you portray." Chakotay said, then stopped and gestured to the lake in front of them.
"It's beautiful." Tom said in wonder as he looked at the still, silent lake before them.
The glassy water reflected the moonlight and the shadows of trees created interesting and eerie patterns on the water's surface.
"When I was back on Dorvan I would sit by this lake for hours, just drinking in the serenity." Chakotay said, then started walking toward the edge of the water.
"Your home is really beautiful." Tom said as he followed.
"Thank you Tom. I'm glad that I'm getting this opportunity to share it with you." Chakotay said honestly as he cautiously took a step into the cool water.
"How is it?" Tom asked hesitantly.
"Cold." Chakotay said with a chuckle at the sensation.
Tom backed up a few steps, then ran full out and cannonballed into the water.
Chakotay smiled at the move, then threw himself forward to dive in all at once.
When they had both come up for air, Tom said, "It's perfect Chak. God, I feel so alive right now."
Chakotay gave a contented smile and said, "So do I. It's the perfect end to a perfect night."
Tom looked at Chakotay cautiously for a moment, then said, "I don't want this feeling to end."
"You can carry it with you. When the duties and obligations of life on Voyager start to weigh on you, all you have to do is pull up this memory and have that feeling all over again. And nothing says that we can't have other adventures that will provide even more memories like this." Chakotay said happily.
"I'd really like that Chak... I just don't know how things are going to go with Harry and B'Elana after going through all this... I look at them now and it all seems so... hollow." Tom said with concern as he floated in the cool water.
"I think you'll be fine. The time you spend with your other friends will only be improved by this new experience. You haven't lost anything, just gained a greater understanding of yourself." Chakotay said peacefully.
"I guess so." Tom said non-committally.
"Do you want to race to the island and back?" Chakotay asked as he pointed to a small island in the middle of the lake with a single tree on it.
Tom's only answer was to take off swimming as fast and hard as he could.
Chakotay was surprised by the movement, but quickly took off to catch up to Tom.
* * * * *
The pair of men were giggling as they finally emerged from the water.
"That was great. After all that steam, it was the perfect way to get cleaned up." Tom said happily.
"I agree. How would you like to do something tomorrow night?" Chakotay asked as he led the way up the path, back to the fire.
"I was thinking about shooting some pool at Sandrine's." Chakotay said casually.
Tom thought about it for a moment, then reluctantly said, "Harry and B'Elana will probably be there."
"If you'll help to get Harry to relax while I'm there, I don't think it will be a problem. B'Elana and I have been friends for years." Chakotay said casually.
"Are you two... you know... close?" Tom asked hesitantly.
"We were together for a while. It was one of those relationships that just wasn't meant to be. We parted as friends." Chakotay said introspectively.
Tom smiled and said, "Okay. I just wanted to be sure I wasn't going to be treading on dangerous territory if I said anything about the two of you."
Chakotay laughed and said, "Not with me, but I don't know how B'Elana will react. Who knows, one or two well placed comments about our previous relationship might be just what you need to throw her off her game."
"You'd be okay with that?" Tom asked with surprise.
"As long as you don't take it too far. I don't want to see her hurt, but it might be fun to watch you needle her for a few minutes." Chakotay said with a smile.
"I'm not used to seeing this side of you Chak. I think I like it." Tom said with a wicked grin.
"I have different facets to my personality just like you do. I'm not just the Commander and the Counselor." Chakotay said as they passed by the fire which was starting to die down.
"I'm beginning to see that. I think our evening at Sandrine's is going to be interesting." Tom said speculatively.
"I think you're right." Chakotay said with a smile.
* * * * *
The men crested the hill and began to dress in silence.
"Chak?" Tom said quietly as he pulled on his underwear.
"Yes?" Chakotay responded and turned to look at Tom with question.
"You know that thing I was talking about earlier, you know... what happened while I was in Auckland?" Tom said hesitantly.
"I remember." Chakotay said quietly.
"I think I'd like to start dealing with it." Tom said as he focused all his attention on pulling up his pants.
"I'll do everything in my power to help you Tom. Just let me know when you're ready and we'll have a counseling session." Chakotay said as he started dressing again, not wanting Tom to feel that he was staring at him.
"Do you think we could do it somewhere besides your office? I really have a problem with the formal setting." Tom said reluctantly.
"We can do it anyplace you want. In fact, I think I could arrange it so we could meet here. We could have a picnic by the lake if you wanted. Is that informal enough?" Chakotay asked gently.
"That sounds nice." Tom said with a shy smile, then sat down to pull on his socks and boots.
Chakotay also sat, then casually said, "My only regret in all this is that I can't spend some time with you and Tommy together. I enjoy spending time with both of you."
"I think we could probably do that sometime. We can both listen and whoever wants to talk can step forward. Most of the time Tommy is in the background watching what's going on and I'm always watching what Tommy is doing in case he needs help." Tom said seriously.
"Was he watching tonight?" Chakotay asked curiously.
"No. When I went to your office, he stepped all the way back and allowed us some privacy." Tom said seriously.
"That was very considerate of him. You must like him a lot to protect him the way you do." Chakotay said as he stood.
Tom hurried to finish putting on his boots as he said, "I do. Besides, I feel like I'm his older brother. It's my job to protect him."
Chakotay smiled at the statement, then said, "When I first realized that you had multiple personalities, I thought you were just a defense mechanism in place to protect Tommy."
"You mean I'm not?" Tom asked curiously and Chakotay could detect a small note of fear behind the question.
"No Tom. I believe that if you were a defense mechanism, then you wouldn't be able to form your own friendships and have your own interests independent from Tommy. You would be an extension of him that came to the forefront when he felt threatened." Chakotay said seriously.
"But I'm not sure that that's not what I'm doing." Tom said quietly.
"Tom. Please trust me... I'm sure. You are a person in your own rite. You have your own thoughts and feelings, likes and dislikes, even your own independent sense of humor that is completely unique to you." Chakotay finished with a smile.
"Thanks Chak. It's really hard for me to be sure since I don't know anyone else who lives like this." Tom said quietly.
"As far as I know, it's a condition that's unique to you, but that doesn't mean that you aren't a real person. There may be others like you who go through their lives hiding their differences." Chakotay said frankly.
"I never thought of that. I suppose it's not a bad way to be. Especially when I've got a friend like you to help me." Tom finished with a smile.
"Come on friend. It's time to get back to the real world." Chakotay said and gestured to the path before them.
"Yeah. I feel like I could sleep for a week." Tom said with a chuckle.
"Computer: Restore Holodeck to default settings, authorization Chakotay Beta Beta Two Four." Chakotay called into the air.
"Default settings: Restored." The computer answered tonelessly.
"Do you think Flyboy would mind meeting with me in the morning?" Chakotay asked casually as they approached the door.
"Give me a second." Tom said, then stopped and concentrated.
Chakotay watched curiously.
Tom opened his eyes and looked at Chakotay with regret as he said, "I don't think he wants to."
"Do you know why?" Chakotay asked cautiously.
"He thinks that you're boring." Tom said reluctantly.
Chakotay chuckled at the statement, then said, "Tell him that if he'll meet me at my cabin tomorrow morning at 09:00, I'll promise to provide him a morning of excitement."
Tom quirked an eyebrow at the statement, then briefly closed his eyes.
"You've got his attention. He'll be there." Tom said with a cautious smile.
"Will you be watching us?" Chakotay asked as he gestured toward the door.
Tom started walking again, then said, "Probably not. The things that Flyboy does scare the hell out of me most of the time."
Chakotay chuckled, then said, "I'm glad I'm not the only one."
"Tommy wants to tell you something before we call it a night." Tom said as the door opened.
"Thanks Tom, I'll see you tomorrow night." Chakotay said with a smile.
"I'll see you then Chak." Tom said with a grin, then a shy, happy look came over his face.
"Hi Tay." Tommy said with unrestrained happiness.
"Hello Tommy. How are you doing this evening?" Chakotay asked with a smile.
"Wonderful! Did Tom tell you about what happened to me today?" Tommy asked with bubbling enthusiasm.
"No. He didn't mention anything." Chakotay said, feeling drawn in by Tommy's excitement.
"I made a new friend." Tommy said in absolute joy.
"Really? Why don't you tell me all about him?" Chakotay said as he gestured for Tommy to walk with him down the hall.
"Well, it's Gerron Tem. I think you know him." Tommy said quickly.
"Yes, I know Gerron, but only through Greg. We've never really talked much socially." Chakotay said in a considering voice.
"It was so cool. Tom was in sickbay and Ayala brought Gerron in and... well, it ended up that I was the one helping Gerron not be scared and we started talking and it was just... we started talking and he really likes me, not Tom but me." Tommy said in absolute joy.
"And how do you feel about him?" Chakotay asked, unable to restrain his smile.
"Well, he's really quiet and deep and we didn't get to talk that much. But I think that if we had some time to really sit and talk for a while that we could become really good friends." Tommy said happily.
"Are you maybe interested in becoming more than friends? He's very attractive." Chakotay asked casually.
Tommy stopped and thought about the question for a moment before finally saying, "No. I get the feeling that he's either already with Ayala or is going to be. I didn't get any kind of 'interested' vibe from him at all."
"Gerron and Greg? Hmm... I don't know how that would work. They're very different people... and Greg is married." Chakotay said in thought.
"I don't know if there is anything. But from seeing how they care for each other, it wouldn't surprise me." Tommy said frankly.
Chakotay considered for a moment, then said, "Greg and I used to be close friends back on the Crazyhorse, but we've drifted apart over the past five years. Maybe it would be a good idea to spend some time catching up with him."
"Do you think the four of us could do something together sometime?" Tommy asked hopefully.
"Yes. That sounds good. Would you like to talk to Gerron to arrange it? I think you know my schedule well enough to know when I'll be available." Chakotay said as they came to a stop in front of the turbolift.
"Yeah. I can do that tomorrow morning and let you know what I come up with while we're at the resort." Tommy said quickly.
"Flyboy and I are going to be doing something at 09:00. And Tom and I are going to shoot some pool tomorrow night." Chakotay said in thought.
"Wow. You're spending your whole day off with me?" Tommy asked in surprise.
"No. I'm just going to be spending the afternoon with you." Chakotay said, then thought about it, then revised, "I suppose I am spending the whole day with you in a manner of speaking."
Tommy smiled broadly as they stepped onto the turbolift.
"Why does that make you so happy?" Chakotay asked, unable to restrain his smile.
"Because it means that you really do see me as me, not as a... part of Tom." Tommy finished reluctantly.
"Computer: Halt lift." Chakotay said seriously, then turned to look Tommy in the eyes.
"Tommy. I just finished explaining this to Tom a few minutes ago, so you can talk with him to get the details. But I really do believe that you four are completely separate personalities. I don't know how or why it happened, but I can't find any reason to believe that it's something that needs to be fixed." Chakotay said frankly.
"Thanks Tay. I think I already knew that, but I just needed to hear it again." Tommy said with a gentle smile.
* * * * *
/*09:00 - Chakotay's Quarters*/
"Come in." Chakotay said as he finished pulling on a grey sweat shirt.
Flyboy walked in wearing sneakers, skin tight blue jeans, a well worn yellow T-shirt with 'Mellow Yellow' emblazoned across the chest and a bright red windbreaker jacket to finish off the look.
"Are you going to be able to run alright in those pants?" Chakotay asked curiously.
"Yeah. No problem. Don't tell me that we're going on a long distance run." Flyboy said in a whiny tone.
"No. It won't be that long... and I think it will be more interesting than you expect." Chakotay said as he gestured toward the door.
"You're not going to tell me where we're going, are? you?" Flyboy asked curiously.
"Sure I will. Holodeck 2." Chakotay finished with a smile.
"I hope with all this build-up it turns out to be something more interesting than a nature walk in Montana." Flyboy said as the boredom could clearly be heard in his voice.
"You whine worse than Tom." Chakotay said as they entered the lift.
"Thanks a lot." Flyboy said irritably.
"Holodeck 2." Chakotay said to the ceiling of the lift, then turned to Flyboy and said, "I'm sorry about that. I shouldn't compare you to the others. Please just give me a chance and meet me half way."
"I know what you're trying to do. You want to make sure I'm not going to go all crazy because I can step forward and take control when I want to and the others don't have any influence over me." Flyboy said frankly.
"Well. Yes." Chakotay said with a nod as the lift doors opened.
"Let me set you straight on something Commander. I may do some dangerous things, but it's because I know my limits and am very good at what I do. I wouldn't take this ship into harm's way without reason and I wouldn't volunteer to do anything unless I was sure that I could pull it off. Every time you question me about my plans you're insulting my judgment and my abilities." Flyboy said with venom.
"Okay. Then before we begin, how is your ability to run?" Chakotay asked as he led the way to holodeck 2.
"Just fine. Probably better than yours." Flyboy said with irritation in his voice.
"Let's find out." Chakotay said as the holodeck doors opened.
* * * * *
Flyboy looked around at the scenery and tried to determine where they were.
"Computer: Engage level one privacy lock, disable all communications and override safety protocols. Authorization Chakotay Beta Beta Two Four." Chakotay said as he walked down the quiet village street in the predawn light.
"Where are we?" Flyboy asked curiously as he looked around.
"Pamplona, Spain... Come on, Santo Domingo is right over here. It's going to start at daybreak." Chakotay said as he hurried away from Flyboy.
"Hey. Wait up... Pamplona? What's going to start?" Flyboy asked, then noticed that they were approaching a large group of people.
"I thought you said you could run. Come on!" Chakotay urged from ahead.
Flyboy broke into a run to catch up with Chakotay as he saw more and more people lining the streets.
Just as suddenly as he had started, Chakotay stopped then turned with a panicked look in his eyes.
"RUN!" Chakotay screamed and started running back toward Flyboy.
A glance behind Chakotay made Flyboy's blood run cold, then he took off in a full run just as Chakotay passed him.
Both Chakotay and Flyboy ran as if their lives depended on it. And with the holodeck safeties turned off, their lives actually did depend on it.
There were cheers and screams from behind them. Flyboy glanced over his shoulder in time to see a bull gore one of the other runners and toss him out of the way like a rag doll.
"FUCK!!!" Flyboy screamed as he increased his speed beyond what he ever thought he was capable of.
By this time Chakotay was about three meters ahead, but Flyboy quickly closed the distance with his new motivation driving him.
"Over here!" Chakotay screamed and quickly jumped through a gap in the fence.
A heartbeat later, Flyboy was dodging through the space to join him.
Both men sat, gasping for breath as they watched the bulls rampaging past.
"You... you..." Flyboy fought to say.
"Could have warned you?" Chakotay asked with a chuckle.
Flyboy nodded quickly.
"At least you're not bored anymore." Chakotay said with a chuckle.
Flyboy broke into laughter at the statement.
"I get the impression that you're an adrenaline junkie so I wanted to provide a thrill before we had our talk." Chakotay said with a smile.
"You sure as hell did that." Flyboy said with a laugh as he continued to try and get his breath back.
"You've already addressed my main concerns, so I guess the only thing I need to know now is what can I do to help you have a happy and fulfilled life?" Chakotay asked with a smile.
"Oh. Is that all?" Flyboy asked with a roll of his eyes.
"I suppose it does sound like a complex question. But I get the feeling that you are very aware of your purpose in life and your needs." Chakotay said speculatively.
"Thanks... I think. Um... yeah. I can think of two things at the moment." Flyboy said as a serious and determined look came over his face.
"Go ahead." Chakotay said seriously.
"Well, one of the things is an arrangement with the others to give me time to practice. I can't very well do my 'amazing feats' without the opportunity to hone my skills and reflexes." Flyboy said as he looked Chakotay in the eyes.
"Although time sharing issues are bound to be a problem, I don't see it being an insurmountable one. Talk with the others and if there's a problem, I'll arbitrate." Chakotay said in thought.
"Good. The other thing is something that you can do for me." Flyboy said with a look of intensity.
"And what would that be?" Chakotay asked cautiously.
"Trust me." Flyboy said firmly.
"I do..." Chakotay began to say.
"In an emergency situation you have to stop and consider and use up every other possible option before you'll let me do what has to be done to save the ship. If you'll just trust me when I say I can do something, you'll make both our jobs a lot easier." Flyboy said firmly.
"You're not at all like what I imagined you to be." Chakotay said honestly.
"What did you imagine?" Flyboy asked seriously.
"Someone with a surfer mentality who lives for the thrill. An adrenaline junkie who is only interested in pushing the limit of what he can do." Chakotay said frankly.
"Well, I suppose there's some truth to that. I absolutely hate being bored and I do love a good thrill. I also do like to push my limits, but I guess the difference is that I prepare myself to push those limits and minimize the risks as much as possible." Flyboy said in consideration.
"I see that now. You're a very interesting blend of contradictions." Chakotay said with a smile.
"I think you are too, as conservative as you like to act, you must have a wild streak a mile wide to even think of running with the bulls." Flyboy said with a chuckle.
"Tommy suggested rock-climbing or skydiving and I thought that I would try for something equally adventurous that you probably hadn't tried before." Chakotay said with a smile.
"You found it." Flyboy said with a laugh.
"I think it might take quite a while to understand you Flyboy." Chakotay said consideringly.
"I'm not that hard to understand. After Caldik Prime, we needed to be sure that nothing like that would ever happen again. That's why I'm here." Flyboy said dismissively.
After a moment to consider the words, Chakotay slowly said, "That's it?"
"Yep. That's it. At least that's how I came to be. Now... I don't know why I'm a separate person. I guess it's like a new adventure." Flyboy finished happily.
"Let's get out of here. I think I've had all the adventure I can handle for one morning." Chakotay said with a smile.
"Good idea. How about next time you let me pick the activity?" Flyboy asked with a grin as he held out a hand to help Chakotay to his feet.
* * * * *
"Commander, do you have a moment to speak with me?" A shy voice asked over the comm unit by Chakotay's door.
Chakotay didn't recognize the voice, but quickly answered, "Yes. Come in."
It took a moment for Chakotay to recognize the serious look on Tom's face.
"Lieutenant Paris? What can I do for you this morning?" Chakotay asked cautiously.
"You mentioned that you would like to discuss my career plans at some future time and I thought that if you had time we could do it now." Lieutenant Paris said hesitantly.
"Oh, yes of course. Please come in and have a seat." Chakotay said quickly and walked to the table.
"Thank you sir." Lieutenant Paris said and walked to stand by the chair.
Chakotay took his seat, then watched as Lieutenant Paris sat down very precisely.
"I'm guessing that since you're here that you have some idea of how you would like to proceed with your Starfleet career." Chakotay said seriously.
"Yes sir. I believe that I would like to work toward the goal of being a Lieutenant Commander." Lieutenant Paris said formally.
Chakotay nodded in acknowledgement and said, "A reasonable goal given your current rank. Is there anything I can do to help you in pursuit of your goal?"
"Yes sir. Even though I have held the rank of Lieutenant for five years, I feel that I have routinely been treated like a junior officer." Lieutenant Paris said carefully, then quickly amended, "Not that I'm disagreeing with your judgment in that. Given my... unique nature, I'm frankly astounded that I was made a Lieutenant to begin with."
"It was the Captain's decision. But over time I've seen the wisdom in it." Chakotay said carefully.
"Thank you for saying so sir." Lieutenant Paris said respectfully, then continued, "If it is possible, I would like to be given responsibilities more in line with those of other Lieutenants."
"I don't understand what you're asking." Chakotay said honestly.
"Well, forgive me for saying so. But as chief helmsman I should be responsible for the scheduling and training of the other helmsmen. My level of responsibility should be the same as that of Lieutenant Torres' in Engineering." Lieutenant Paris said frankly.
"I see." Chakotay said in thought as he realized that Lieutenant Paris was right. B'Elana and the other department heads were responsible for the scheduling and training of their junior officers, but Lieutenant Paris had been given the title without any of the responsibilities that came with it.
"I'm not complaining sir. I just feel that I won't be able to advance in rank if I'm not given the opportunity to develop my leadership skills in my current rank." Lieutenant Paris said seriously.
"I agree. But I can't give you the full responsibility of your duties in one day. It would be chaos for you and for your crew. How about this? About a week before the next crew rotation comes around, schedule a meeting with me so we can write the new schedule together. After a time or two of doing that, I'll gradually shift more and more of the responsibility to you. That way everyone will be able to adjust to the change gradually and there's less chance of a disruption due to ambiguity about your role and authority." Chakotay said carefully.
"Thank you sir. I would appreciate the time to ease into the added responsibilities." Lieutenant Paris said formally.
"Good. And I will notify the Captain of your wish to take more of a commanding role in your position so she won't be surprised by the changes." Chakotay said in thought.
"Thank you sir. I believe that she will be pleased. I've gotten the feeling that she would like for me to be more of a traditional leader... not that she expects it, just that she would prefer it." Lieutenant Paris said carefully.
"I agree with your observation. Tom's charisma has been accomplishing the tasks that your military leadership should have been doing. But if you're going to advance in rank, you really do need to lead in the traditional way... although a bit of charisma wouldn't hurt." Chakotay finished with a smile.
"Tom will be willing to step in if I ask. But I get the feeling that he would like me to begin to make my own way and stop depending on him as much." Lieutenant Paris said thoughtfully.
"From what I've learned about Tom, you'll be able to depend on him if you need to. But I think it really is best if you learn to stand on your own and take command when it's necessary." Chakotay said in a considering voice.
"Thank you sir. With your support, I know that I will be able to adapt to command and eventually attain my goal." Lieutenant Paris said confidently.
Chakotay gave him a fond smile, then asked, "So have you decided what direction you would like to take your career? Do you have your eye on being a captain or maybe an admiral someday?"
Lieutenant Paris shook his head and said, "I don't think I would be happy in either of those positions. At the moment my ultimate goal is to become a commander and teach helm and navigation at the Starfleet Academy."
Chakotay smiled and said, "I think that's a realistic goal and well within your reach given your experience and temperament. But what about Tom and Tommy? Won't their future plans influence what you'll be doing?"
Lieutenant Paris thought for a moment, then said, "I don't know what their plans for the future are, but if they are significantly different from mine, I believe that we will be able to find a compromise that we can all be comfortable with."
Chakotay considered for a moment, then said, "I think you're right. I can't imagine that any of the others would ask you to give up your dreams. As long as you're willing to compromise, I think they will too."
Lieutenant Paris nodded his agreement.
"I hate to cut this short, but I have an appointment with Tommy to go to the resort in a few minutes." Chakotay said seriously.
"Yes sir. That was everything that I wanted to discuss. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me." Lieutenant Paris said as he stood.
"Anytime Lieutenant, and I mean that. If you have any questions or concerns... even if you just want to talk... please feel free to come to me." Chakotay said with a gentle smile.
"Thank you sir. I will." Lieutenant Paris said and betrayed a small smile in his military expression.
"Lieutenant, you are dismissed." Chakotay said gently.
"Yes sir. And thank you again." Lieutenant Paris said, then walked to the door.
Chakotay smiled as he watched the lieutenant leave, then went to change into something appropriate for the resort.