by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
For disclaimer and dedication see part one.
Her eyes held the answers to the secrets of the universe.
He smiled. It had been so long.
"I've missed you Kathryn."
The eyes glittered in happiness and she opened her mouth to speak, only suddenly he realised it wasn't Kathryn. The eyes were hers - they may have been a different colour but they were hers - but the face, the voice...belonged to someone else.
His mind was instantly alert the moment he heard the noise. A lifetime of Maquis and Starfleet training couldn't let him be anything else. However, in that moment he also knew that it wasn't a red alert klaxon or some alien enemies phaser blast hitting Voyager. No. It was rather more mundane than that. Someone wanted to get into his quarters.
His door beeped again.
Chakotay allowed his body the few extra moments it needed to fully wake up. It wasn't an emergency - he could save the mad dashing about for another time. Slowly he rose from his bed, and as he sat up the dream came back to him.
"Just a moment." he called out as he reached for his robe pretty sure that whoever was at the door didn't want to see him naked. Looking at the chronometer he groaned. He hadn't even got two hours worth of sleep.
Finally he called for them to enter, and watched as B'Elanna and Tom stepped in, both looking a little worse for wear. Chakotay could tell that what Tom had seen still haunted him, while B'Elanna was almost bursting with badly contained fury.
Tom placed a cautious hand on B'Elanna's side as he stepped forward. "Sorry if we're interrupting Commander, but we need to talk."
Chakotay shrugged and indicated the chairs with one hand. "Go ahead and talk."
Tom nodded and took a seat, but B'Elanna remained where she was, pacing the room.
The pilot/nurse leaned forward as Chakotay sat down opposite him. "This thing is-"
"We want to help." B'Elanna stated, cutting him off.
"I thought we agreed-will you stop doing that?"
His sudden change of topic surprised everyone.
"Stop doing what?"
"Rubbing your hand. You've been doing it for the last hour. It's driving me mad."
B'Elanna looked down and confirmed that he was telling the truth. Quickly separating her hands, she looked at the back of the left one that had faint scratch marks on it. "I'm sorry. I didn't realise I was doing it."
Tom's anger left him in a nanosecond as he witnessed the vulnerable expression on her face. "I'm sorry B'Elanna. Do you want me to take a look at it?"
She smiled down at him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Nah, it's okay. If it's still irritating me later I'll go and see the Doc."
Chakotay was suddenly incredibly jealous. He'd have to deal with this he realised with a flash of horror. For the rest of their journey home he would have to cope with seeing couples like Tom and B'Elanna. Couples who were in love and despite the odd disagreement were happy. While the woman he loved was dead.
Tom's voice brought him back. "Pardon?"
"You phased out for a moment then."
"Oh." His voice was quiet. "I was just thinking."
In a rare moment of friendliness between the two men, Tom leant over, touched him on the arm and looked directly at him. "I understand."
And he *did* understand. While it hadn't been the woman he was in love with, he had certainly loved Kathryn Janeway in his own way. And the very idea that anything like that could happy to B'Elanna must be terrifying...
Chakotay suddenly found himself fighting back tears. God, he couldn't cry in front of them. It's not that he thought it would be weak, but he had to show them that he wasn't going to lose it. He owed her that much.
"Thanks Tom." He replied, his voice squeaking slightly as he tried to maintain his normal tone.
Tom's lips quirked up for a moment in sad recognition and then he sat back. "As we were saying, we want to help."
Finally getting his normal voice back, Chakotay spoke. "In what way?"
"In any way possible." B'Elanna stated. "Hell, we don't care if we have to clean the warp core with a toothbrush for the next seventy years if it helps you and Tuvok find her killer. We just want to do something."
Tom looked up at B'Elanna from his seat, then moved his gaze back to Chakotay. "We *need* to do something *useful*."
Chakotay looked down at his hands at their words, touched by their desire to help in anyway possible. He coughed. "I'll contact Tuvok ASAP and I'll let you know if he can use your assistance. If not...then I'm sure I can find you something else to do." He finished the comment with a smile that was merely a shadow of his wicked grin.
They appreciated the effort and smiled back.
"I think I'm already beginning to regret this." Tom mumbled, still smiling.
Chakotay's com badge buzzed. "Doctor to Chakotay."
He walked over to his bedside table and picked it up. "Chakotay here Doctor."
"Can you come to sickbay please Commander? It's urgent."
"On my way."
He closed the com line and turned back to Tom and B'Elanna. "Well...duty calls. I swear I am not going to get any more sleep tonight."
They both offered him small chuckles as they left him so he could change into his uniform.
He arrived in sickbay to find both the Doctor and Tuvok waiting for him. Both looked pensive. This was not good.
"Tuvok. Doctor. What have you got?"
The Doctor walked towards the wall monitor. "I've finally been able to get a DNA match on the cells we found under the Captain's fingernails."
Chakotay stepped closer. "You mean the DNA of her attacker?" When he found out who it was...
"That is the theory we are working under." Tuvok informed him.
The Doctor pressed a button on the wall and a partial double helix appeared. "I've identified that this part of the DNA is human." He pressed another button and another section of double helix appeared and joined to the other section exactly. They were clearly parts of the same DNA structure. "However, I have also discovered that this part of the DNA comes from another species."
Chakotay could have sworn his stomach fell out of his body and hit the deck as his suspicion grew. "Which species?"
Turning from the monitor, the Doctor faced him with a grim expression.
She was almost bursting through the confines of the brig. Chakotay didn't believe for a single moment that B'Elanna had killed Kathryn. Capable of killing, yes, but not of murdering Kathryn Janeway. They'd come to mean too much to each other.
But Tuvok of course has insisted. Until other evidence was produced B'Elanna was the prime suspect. Chakotay was not happy, Tom was not happy, and B'Elanna....was *extremely* unhappy.
Tom was standing on the outside of the brig trying to comfort her. It was not easy doing so through a force field. B'Elanna was never the cheeriest of people even in the best situation. Chakotay thought he had heard more Klingon swear words in ten minutes than he had in his entire life previously.
Eventually Tom gave up trying to get through to her as she continued ranting. Instead he leant against the wall and casually examined his fingernails. Chakotay smirked.
It was a few minutes before B'Elanna noticed. Her right arm was swinging about in mid-air to emphasise her point and her voice was raised to new levels of sensory overload. "...and I cannot believe that Vulcan did this to me!! The fact that he's even *considered* that I could be capable of this is...Tom?!"
His cuticles became fascinating.
Finally pretending that B'Elanna had gotten his attention, Tom looked up, his fingers still outstretched as if he was going to look back at them at any second. "Oh...sorry B'Elanna. I hadn't realised you'd stopped talking."
She studied him, unsure if he was being truthful or trying something. "Tom, if this is some kind of joke, this is *hardly* the time-"
He stormed forward pausing just before the force field. "You're right B'Elanna. This is *hardly* the time. This is hardly the time for Kathryn Janeway to be murdered. This is hardly the time for you to be accused of that murder. And this is hardly the time for you to have a screaming fit about it!"
She almost turned white she was so surprised.
"B'Elanna I understand that you're upset and I can certainly understand why. Hell, if I were in your position I'd want to be spitting acid about the injustice of it. But we know B'Elanna. We know that you didn't do it! And you're wasting all of our time by shouting about it! Can you do me a favour just this once and keep that temper of yours under control?!"
Abashed, B'Elanna turned away, placing her back towards him. "If I'm wasting your time then why are you still here?" she asked softly.
He exhaled and leant forward, one hand resting on the edge of wall next to the force field. His voice was low and intimate. "Because you're my lover. And because...I care about you. Chakotay and I both do. We feel we both have a responsibility to stay with you until you calm down. But we could be doing something more useful. We could be out there hunting down the real murderer. We know that it's our own weakness that's keeping us here. Our need to make sure that you'll be all right. But if you don't give us a reason to...we won't."
God, when did Tom get this deep?
Her shoulders were slumped, but slowly they rose until her body was upright and displayed a confidence that she couldn't possibly have felt but was showing anyway. She turned to face them with a smile.
"Then what the hell are you two still doing here?"
Chakotay remained a few minutes longer than Tom to reassure B'Elanna that he'd never think she would kill the Captain, but when he left he discovered Tom hadn't got very far. In fact he was standing outside the room. Or to be more precise, he was leaning against the wall outside the room, rubbing his hands over his face.
"That was a little...out of character for you Tom."
He removed his hands and looked up at the ceiling. "Yeah, well...things have just been getting to me. First the Captain being killed and now B'Elanna being accused of it...I know she didn't do it but it's pretty stressful."
"It can't be easy."
"Dating B'Elanna I mean."
Tom chuckled. "Well...she does have quite a bit of fire in her."
"Look Tom...just remember that she's always there for you. No matter whatever happens, who lives or who dies...she'll always be there for you."
The lieutenant stared at him. "You really believe that, don't you? Even though she's dead, you still believe the Captain is there for you."
Chakotay was certain. "She is. I won't deny that I miss her. That it still hurts and I doubt that it will ever stop. But she's *there* Tom. I know she's always there for me."
Tom seemed a bit embarrassed by the emotion in Chakotay's voice. "Chakotay...I've never been a very spiritual person, but I'm happy that you believe that. For me it's now that matters. If anything ever happened to B'Elanna, I don't think I could be satisfied with knowing that she's *there*. I'd want her to be here with me."
"You have to cope with it Tom. You don't have any other choice."
Pondering his words, Tom looked back at the ceiling again. "It's weird you know."
Chakotay leant next to him on the wall and stared at the ceiling too. "What is?"
"The way our roles keep changing. I'd never really noticed it before. Earlier B'Elanna was comforting me but then later I was comforting her. And a little while ago I was comforting you and now you're doing the same to me. I suppose it shows how much we need and depend on each other."
A secret little smile appeared on Chakotay's face. "I hadn't noticed earlier. But if it's true...then it's about time. And Kathryn would be glad."
Once again summoned to sickbay (he was beginning to hate the place) Chakotay greeted the Doctor and asked what he'd found.
"Although Ms Torres was non too co-operative when we had her in here for tests before Tuvok threw her in the brig, I managed to get some interesting sensor readings."
The Doctor didn't look proud of himself for once. In fact he looked downright depressed. "You remember that itch on her hand? It certainly wasn't caused by a rash or an allergic reaction. My bioscans revealed that the hand had recently been injured and repaired with a dermal regenerator. The itch was caused because whoever did the repair job didn't do as very good job. They managed to knit the skin back together but didn't do it very accurately. The result messed up her nerve endings so it feels like her hand is constantly itching."
"I don't suppose we have any clue as to what caused the injury?"
"I'm afraid this leads to even more damning evidence against Ms Torres. I've been able to determine through extensive scans that the injuries were fingernail marks. I was also able to discover a few small traces of Captain Janeway's DNA."
He entered the room that belonged to the woman with the short dark hair and finally let out the shout of pain he'd been withholding for the last hour. He'd gone to visit the man with the tattoo, but had been unable to make himself cry. That's what he'd heard it was called. The woman with water on her cheeks had been crying. Of course he didn't have the vaguest idea of how to make himself cry. So he'd done something else that he'd learned could make you cry. He'd hurt himself.
Looking down at his injured left hand, he released it from the grip of his right. He found himself sucking in a sharp breath at the sensation. Interesting. He'd considered going to visit their medical bay but he knew the man with no scent would be still working there (they all seemed to be fascinated by the female's death. It was a pity, he supposed. He hadn't meant to kill her) and he didn't want anyone to see his injury at the moment. It might raise some suspicion.
Well, when he moved on the woman with the short dark hair could get healed easily enough. She could do it herself if she managed to get hold of the right equipment. He had.
She watched as the arm swung down, it's hand grasping the knife. It impaled the female, but all she could think of was the delight. She carefully avoided the blood, concentrating on the scent that was getting stronger the longer she continued to work. Her need made her hands shake, but she knew where to cut. She knew how to get what she wanted.
B'Elanna sat upright from her bed in the brig. The dream have been too vivid. Far too vivid. Clenching her fists together, she knew there was only one way to get to the truth. She moved her hand to tap her com badge when she realised they had taken it away from her. One of many privileges revoked.
Sighing, she stood and walked toward the force field. Once there she began speaking to the guard.
"What is it you would like me to do?"
"I want you to mind meld with me Tuvok. I know they can be uncomfortable for both of us, but we have done one before..."
He nodded. "Indeed. And is this could help us in any way to determine exactly what happened the night of the murder then it could provide us with invaluable data."
She grinned from the other side of the force field. "So what do we need to do?"
"First I will need to clear this with the Captain and then-"
"The Captain? But she's..."
"I was referring to Chakotay. Now that the Captain is dead it is his place to assume her position."
B'Elanna almost took a step back. "God Tuvok. That sounds a little cold."
He rose an eyebrow. "Do not mistake my logic for ignorance. I am very aware of her loss and the affect of that loss on the crew. I knew her for many years."
"You knew her longer than any of us."
"Yes. Although I do not know if I was the person who knew her the best."
Before she could ask exactly what he meant (although she had her suspicions), Tuvok turned and walked out of the room.
He was being ridiculous. He had faced down Kazon, Borg, Species 8472, the Hirogen and countless others...but now he was really afraid. Of a chair. A piece of furniture.
Yet there was a small part of him that was proud that he could be scared of a chair. Proud that he was open enough to himself and his emotions that he could admit to the fear. Of course, that didn't make it the slightest bit easier.
He was already comfortable with what Harry had dubbed 'the big chair' - her chair on the bridge. He'd sat in it so many times that he was used to it. It would be different without her ever sitting in it again, but he could cope.
This chair was different. It was there, taunting him. Looking so innocent but having the capacity to cause him so much pain. He couldn't even be bothered to chastise himself for assigning human characteristics to a chair. It wasn't *really* taunting him, but it felt like it. And if it felt real, did that make it any less true?
Realising he'd been standing in the same spot for almost five minutes, Chakotay moved toward her desk, mentally cataloguing the items he saw there. He knew them so well already. Her computer screen. Her silver coffee pot. Her lucky teacup. A few stray padds, as always indicating her obsession with her work.
Carefully skirting the table, he advanced on her ready room chair but paused when he reached it. He couldn't sit in it yet. Not yet. He wasn't ready. Reaching out a hand, he ran his palm slowly along the top of the back rest, the movement reassurring but upsetting at the same time.
Quickly withdrawing his hand, he picked up the padds from her desk and sat down on her couch. Activating the first padd, he sat back and set about his work.
The door buzzed nearly two hours later. Chakotay was happy for the break. Moving his neck he winced at the clicking noise and reached up to rub the complaining muscles with his free hand. He called for them to enter and gave her chair another quick glance. He'd been doing so every few minutes since he started working.
Tuvok entered and walked towards him. "Captain."
Chakotay's hand froze on his neck, and he dropped his padd on the table in front of him. "Let's leave the Captain title until after her memorial service Tuvok."
"Aye sir. And I...believe I understand. Will this also be when you 'officially' gain the title and reorganise the command structure?"
Chakotay stood and removed his hand from his neck, nodding. "Yes. Although there won't be that big a reorganisation. You of course will be my First Officer but mostly everyone else will stay where they are now. That said, I think it's about time Harry got that promotion..." Brushing aside the stray thought he looked at Tuvok. "Is there anyone you recommend for the position of Security Chief?"
Tuvok pondered his words. "I believe the logical choice would be Lieutenant O'Donell. He is my direct subordinate, has the most experience of the possible candidates and has...devised some most unique solutions."
"I'd have to agree. He's good at improvising when he needs to." Moving back toward the couch, Chakotay stared out of the viewport. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes sir. Lieutenant Torres has experienced a nightmare, but she is convinced that it's a repressed memory of some kind. It relates to Captain Janeway's murder."
Chakotay's whole body became rigid. "And?"
"She would like me to mind meld with her to try and discover more information. I am willing to do as she asks, but as Captain Janeway wanted me to inform her of any mind melds I would attempt I thought it prudent to do the same with you."
"Thank you for informing me Tuvok. I appreciate it. I have to ask though - are you sure that it will be safe? I know you've melded many times before - once even with B'Elanna - and I don't believe for an instant that she killed Kathryn...but if we're wrong, it could cause the same kind of ramifications as Suder did."
Tuvok nodded, even though Chakotay was still faced away from him. "I understand your concerns sir, and although all melds contain a degree of risk...this will not be a full meld in any case. And the first time I melded with the Lieutenant I was not affected."
"True...but if something has happened to her since..."
"It is a risk I am willing to take Chakotay."
Chakotay? It was not often Tuvok called him by name. In fact, it was downright rare. "Alright Tuvok. Go ahead."
"Thank you sir." The Vulcan turned to walk out when he remembered one last item he wanted to discuss. "Sir...I wanted to ask about the Captain's memorial service. Would you like me to perform the eulogy?"
It was fully ten seconds before Chakotay replied. "No Tuvok. Thank you for the offer, but it's taken care of. I'll do it."
When the door swished shut, Chakotay's hands moved up to rub his eyes. Again, his head swivelled round to look at her chair. Finding the confidence from somewhere (perhaps from Tuvok's kindness) he walked over to it and hesitated slightly before sitting down. So...this was her perspective whenever she sat down. Looking down he noticed for the first time that she had several drawers underneath her desk. Made sense. Pushing a button on the front of the first one he watched as it whoosed open. It contained a picture of her dog, Molly. She used to love to talk about her. The second drawer contained yet more padds, and the third...had a picture of him. Gods, where did she get it? He recognised the clothing and the surroundings. A picture of him on New Earth. He hadn't even known she'd taken it. In the picture he was working on the bathtub. That had been early on in their stay there and she'd kept it all this time...
He hadn't cried yet, but suddenly he couldn't hold it in anymore. The picture of him was thrown to one side and his hands ran along the edge of the desk as he mumbled to himself. He cried for all the times he had seen her sitting in this chair, for all the times he would never see her sitting here again. For the teasing, flirting and smart remarks. For the stupidity of it all. An accident! Shit! An accident! Why couldn't they have been more careful? Why couldn't they...why did she have to...why couldn't he have walked her back to her quarters? Why *her*?
"My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts..."
They sat opposite each other on the bed inside in the brig, his fingers almost manacled to her head. They were still save for the movement of Tuvok's mouth as he spoke.
His mind dipped into hers gracefully. Her unconscious defence mechanism tried to stop him but he slipped passed easily, her lack of control for once being an asset. Her mind welcomed him the instant he got by the initial barrier. He had been here before. He was familiar. She trusted him.
But there was another barrier waiting for him - one that he couldn't slip by easily or destroy.
He had touched this part of her before, but hadn't had to go that far. This would be different. This would have to be a deeper meld. For both of them.
Rather than try to push it out of the way or knock it down he did what she didn't expect - he joined with it. He showed her that he understood her anger, and how hard he had to control his own when something frustrating occurred.
She felt the fragments of Kathryn, Kes and Tom that were still inside him. The indelible marks they had left behind that would always be a part of him. But the one who had left the biggest mark was Suder. His darkness still remained, and she was shocked by how difficult Tuvok found it to maintain his control from that experience even after all this time.
She saw the dark, fierce images that rampaged through his mind, always threatening his facade of control. How much damage had Suder done to this man?
Concentrating, B'Elanna controlled her anger, her ferocity, so he could pass.
Moving past the barrier he sent her a message of gratitude. He knew how hard this was for her. She was as private as he was in many ways. He saw a man with dark hair leaving his Little Bee behind, a Klingon woman shouting, the instant she left the Academy, when she first met Chakotay, her thoughts when she realised she was so far from home, her shock when she realised she was in love with Tom...
"Take us back," he whispered, his voice rasping "take us back to your dream..."
The closer he came to his destination, the more he began to shake. Thankful for the lateness of the hour, he began walking faster, not wanting to meet anyone on the way.
He was outside now, the smell so strong that he couldn't focus now on anything but the *need*. A blurred, shaky hand reached up and beeped for entry.
She asked who was at the door.
He almost laughed, and had to place both hands over his mouth and rock back and forth to control himself. Finally, achieving his aim for a brief moment, he removed his hands and replied in a voice that he knew she would find familiar.
She bid him welcome eagerly. How easy.
The doors opened and he stalked inside, ripping her com badge off with one hand and clasping the other over her mouth.
Struggling fiercely as he knew she would, the woman scratched at his body but he wasn't concerned about the damage. Twisting her around, he maintained his hold on her mouth and with his other hand pulled her right hand behind her back while the other still tried to hit him. As much as he was enjoying this, she was being awkward. He released her suddenly and in her surprise she stumbled forward a few paces before turning sharply to face him. That had given him enough time to pull the knife out of his trousers. Seeing it, her eyes widened as she quickly backed away toward the door.
He got there first, being much more agile and grabbed her on the shoulder, throwing her to the ground. Momentarily stunned, she gasped for breath after having it knocked out of her. he knelt down and straddled her even as she began hitting him again. Grabbing her hair, he pulled on it hard. She yelled as a clump of it came out and her hand rose instinctively to cover the exposed skin.
It gave him the opportunity he needed. His arm swung down, it's hand grasping the knife. It impaled the female, but all he could think of was the delight. He carefully avoided the blood, concentrating on the scent that was getting stronger the longer he continued to work. His need made his hands shake, but he knew where to cut. He knew how to get what he wanted.
"Why?" the woman begged, her voice quiet, resigned. "Why are you doing this? I trusted you."
He paused his work as she faded into unconsciousness. "I'm sorry, but I need to." he replied as he leant down and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Her head lolled to one side as he extracted what he needed from her body. By the time he moved his hands away from her with his prize, she was dead.
Regrettable. An idea struck him. Pulling two small metal objects from his pocket he placed his prize inside one. The other he attached to her head...
He hid the knife, his prize and the gift behind an access panel on deck twelve.
Silently, carefully, he made his way through the corridors. His appearance displayed no sign of violence or struggle but he still wanted to avoid contact with anyone.
Finally he arrived at the woman's quarters, and he entered her authorisation code. Stepping inside he examined the bed. This body was tired. Moving toward the mattress he saw that it was empty. The man with the blonde hair must be somewhere else.
No matter. He would have to move to someone else in the morning. Perhaps someone the woman worked with.
Changing from the uniform into night-clothes he caught of glimpse of her body in the mirror. He was most fascinated by the ridges on her forehead. He had seen many races before, but none with quite so pronounced ridges.
Settling in the bed, he closed his eyes and watched from inside as her body slept.
He entered the room that hummed the next morning, knowing this was where the woman worked. The first person he saw was another woman, this one with short dark hair. He moved over to her. "Good morning," he greeted, then touched her hand.