The Understanding

by Suz

Disclaimer - characters are owned by Paramount.

It occurred to me that I've never read a story quite like this one. There have probably been many written, but I've never read them. So here's mine.


It was Harry of all people who lead the rebellion. Starfleet to the core, he saw Janeway as a role model and a mother figure. He followed the same strict set of rules that she did, sometimes more so. Protocol was everything. Which is why he rebelled.

There was absolutely no way he was going to let Voyager continue on its journey without its captain at the helm. Tuvok - or anyone else for that matter - may have done a pretty good or even excellent job of running the ship, but that didn't make them the captain. Janeway was captaining the vessel when it departed from Deep Space Nine, and as far as he was concerned no one could take her place.

Trouble was, he was wrong.

We certainly couldn't replace her personality. There was no one like her on board. No one with her level of stubborness.

Yet you make do with what you have. You adapt. Tuvok was certainly a logical captain for the most part, but his inter-personal skills were all but non-existant. It wasn't as if we even had Chakotay there to help smooth over the nerves that Tuvok was so good at fraying.

I'd missed Chakotay so much. He was my best friend, the person who knew more about me than anyone. He was just about the only one who could stand up to me without receiving a broken nose for his trouble.

In a strange way I missed Janeway as well. We had never been what you would consider friends but we'd certainly learned to tolerate each other. More than that actually. We managed to earn each others respect - a cliche perhaps - and get past our own anger. Hers is hidden most of the time but when it's released it could be considered more volatile than my own. Not that I'm admitting I have a bad temper.

I missed her. I missed her presence on the bridge. It's almost like there's an aura that surrounds her that you can sense, touch. When she's on the bridge absolutely no one doubts that she's in charge.

At the time I tried to forget all about them, knowing it would be so much easier for me if I could focus on my work and push their memories out of my mind. I had lost so many people already. So, I brushed off Harry's attempts to converse about them at first. He visited me one day in Engineering just after I had finished snapping at an ensign. I was dealing with the loss the only way I knew how - anger.

Harry thought we had given up too easily, that there was something else we could do, some other rescue plan we could attempt. I didn't pay any serious attention, barely looking at him through the whole conversation. My gaze was fixed on the console and I remember that my hands were moving but I still have no idea of what I was working on. Maybe it was only luck that stopped me from accidentally ejecting the warp core. Not likely I know, but stranger things have happened. Especially on this ship.

It was several weeks later when Harry's obsession really became an issue again. I'd been walking the corridors, just starting to realise how much it felt as if I was at a wake, when I found Tom and Neelix in the middle of an enthusiastic conversation on deck two. Pleased with the discovery that at least some of the crew were capable of getting excited about something, I butted into their conversation.

That's when I discovered what had happened. Harry had been ordered off the bridge and taken to his quarters because he had disagreed strongly with Tuvok's decision to avoid the Vidiians and voiced his anger in front of the bridge crew.

I couldn't believe it at first. Harry? Harry Kim? Green, innocent, boot polish, Starfleet Harry Kim? Obviously he had more balls than anyone gave him credit for, myself included.

I didn't know what to do. I wanted to support him, but there were other things I had to take into consideration. The 'talent' I most envied of Chakotay was his ability to make himself at home anywhere. He'd always described himself to me, mostly in jest, as a contrary. I knew how realistic that was through my own experience.

Chakotay had grown up in a small community that still followed ancient traditions but he wanted so much to experience advancements, technology, a twenty-fourth Century existance. It proved to be the subject that would drive him away from his father, and it would be his father who would ultimately be the catalyst that would change his life.

Despite their division, after Kolopak's death Chakotay began to embrace some of his fathers beliefs and started to find some level of balance within himself. The contrary who could never find a place with his past or his future began to find middle ground.

Still furious that his father had been murdered he joined the Maquis as quickly as he could contact them, which is how I met him. He saved my life after my ship had been boarded and attacked by Cardassians. After that it didn't take him long at all to convince me to join the Maquis.

And then we got lost out here. The Delta Quadrant - home of the Borg, the Hirogen, the Swarm, the Vidiians. A never-ending array of villians who want to use our internal organs - whether it be for decoration or some other purpose.

Chakotay adapted so easily; too easily for my liking at first. Kahless, this was the Federation! They had signed a treaty with the murderers who butchered thousands of innocent people! But he insisted we had to co-operate.

He liked Janeway right from the start. He might not have approved of her strict adherance to Starfleet protocol but he definitely admired her tenacity and bravery, although he often referred to the latter as a 'death wish'. I could never quite figure out if he was being serious or not.

Within a few weeks of joining forces with Janeway, Chakotay was walking around the ship as if he had been there his whole life. Whenever the universe threw a new curve ball at him he simply adjusted, the amalgamation of his fathers beliefs and his own interest in the twenty-fourth Century creating the combination that could help him be at home.

All of which brings me to what I was concerned about. I knew Chakotay. I knew that within a few weeks, especially on an M-Class planet, he would have started to make a home there. I honestly didn't know if we shold try and take that away from him. He may be able to live anywhere, but that leaves him with no permenance, no roots. On the planet he had a chance of doing that. I knew it was something he would appreciate.

I also knew of his growing closeness to Janeway. I could hardly ignore it. I'd had certain feelings towards Chakotay since I joined the Maquis, something I'm incredibly embarrassed about. When I think about it now I view myself as a love-sick teenager looking for acceptance. I'd be mortified if he ever found out. But, it is relevant to my story and I think it's a story that needs to be told.

I paid a great deal of attention to him. Looking for hidden meanings in what he said, studying and trying to translate his expressions, even trying to judge what his body language was saying. It was obvious, even though I didn't want it to be, that I was just a friend to him. That would have to be enough for me and it had been for a long while. I thought that perhaps after Seska's betrayal he might turn to someone else, but it only seemed to draw him closer to Janeway.

They'd been verbally sparring with each other since the beginning, but I didn't really start to suspect that there was a serious attraction between them until we encountered that big dollop of space sperm of whatever the hell it was. Was I the only one who noticed the obvious similarities?

The electro-phoretic activity caused Kes' elogium to occur earlier than normal, but I was certain it was somehow affecting Chakotay and Janeway as well. They both flirted mercilessly with each other which was part of the reason I was more aggressive than usual. Of course the clincher was her comment to him regarding mating behaviour. I was at the engineering console on the bridge at the time and was so stunned that she would say something like that in front of the crew that I just turned my head and gaped at them.

She'd never say anything like that to him now. I think that disappoints me.

Anyway, it was then that I really began to pay attention to *them* instead of only Chakotay. I don't know why I hadn't noticed it before. Perhaps I didn't want to. The touches, the glances, the grins, the concern. She had more physical contact with him that any other crewmember. I don't think she even realised how much she *was* touching him. As far as most of the crew knew she was devoted to her fiance in the Alpha Quadrant. For all I know she was.

The rumours began after the 'mating behaviours' incident. There's not a whole lot to do on this ship once you go off-duty so gossip has become a vital source of recreation.

I don't know if any of the rumours got back to either Chakotay of Janeway, but I know that if he had heard he would have told her immediately. Chaktoay would prefer that she hear them from him rather than overhearing a snickering group of junior officers in the mess hall. He was concerned about how she was coping despite the fact she had never failed to stand up for herself or have the courage to do whatever was required. He was always concerned about her. Which brings me to my point, weary as it is now.

I know he has strong feelings for her. I don't know if it's love, fondness, just attraction or friendship, but I suspect he would have been quite content on that planet with Janeway as his only companion.

And, as we later discovered, that damn monkey.

The decision to help rescue them was made in my mind when I walked into the mess hall one afternoon and really noticed for the first time how quiet and sombre the voices were. I was sipping at a cup of racktageno and half-way through reading a padd when I noticed and then it hit me - we had to help them. We had to contact the Vidiians, we had to make a deal with Feklar - whatever it would take to get them back. I could not imagine staying on the ship for the next seventy years without them. That was when Harry approached me.

We put together a plan with the help of several others including Neelix, Hogan, Swinn and the Doctor. We all contributed something useful but when it came down to the decision of who would propose our plans to Tuvok, Harry volunteered. I'll admit to thinking that perhaps someone else should approach him; Tuvok and Harry hadn't been on the best of terms and I'd never seen Harry so passionate about anything. Yet I couldn't volunteer. I had the suspicion that if I tried to talk some sense into Tuvok his cool detachment would anger me too much. That would case more problems than it would solve.

So Harry was the one who talked to Tuvok and from what I understand did almost exactly the same thing I would have. Things were not looking up. We needed a plan, we needed action we knew Tuvok would take, but no one could come up with anything that might convince him. It was then, when our hope for rescuing our commanding officers was at its lowest, when we began to really think "what happens if we can't get them back?", when the Doctor proposed an absolutely brilliant plan (and he eagerly pointed out just how brilliant it was). We needed something that would bring Tuvok to contact the Vidiians, something he could understand, something that could ensure his co-operation no matter what.

We sent in Kes.

Their 'relationship' too has been the subject of much gossip, although personally I've never seen it as anything other than friendship and a deep respect for each other. I think he senses in her a kindred spirit of sorts, because although she may have only been two at the time, she has always been so much older than her years, displaying a wisdom and understanding that most can only dream of obtaining. I don't know if every Ocampa is like this - I've only really known Kes and the Ocampa in the underground city - but I do know I would be happy to have a fraction of Kes' patience and peace.

As I remember it, she was in the ready room with him for less than five minutes before they both emerged onto the bridge. He spouted off something about how allowing the crew to manipulate him showed faulty leadership, then suddenly announced we were going to contact the Vidiians anyway because it would raise the morale of the crew. Logic can be used to justify anything, and at that particular point it didn't bother me.

It was when we finally encountered the Vidiians that the 'fun' began. Denara Pel knew of the insect that had infected Chakotay and Janeway. She also knew of a cure and was happy to share it with us. The other Vidiians were not so accomodating.

I'm biased against the Vidiians and with good reason. How would you like it if you work up one morning and discovered you'd been split into two people? Not at all, trust me. But I'd met Denara before. She didn't act like the other Vidiians who appeared as some kind of monolithic force determined to get their hands on our insides. She had a personality, a gentleness. Denara reminded me of Kes although she lacked Kes' confidence. I knew that she meant to keep her promise and help us even if the others wouldn't.

Tuvok ran security drills constantly and I was actually glad for them for once because soon we were outgunned by the Vidiians three ships to one. We had to fight, naturally.

We were taking heavy damage when Tuvok had an idea, and I swear for once he was running on instinct and not logic. Somehow, in the middle of the battle, Denara contacted the Doctor. She had the cure with her but no way of getting it to us. That's when Tuvok's plan came into play, and while I was ejecting the anti-matter container, we lowered shields and Doc beamed the antidote aboard. After we torpedoed the container and disabled the ship we, as Tom puts it, warped the hell out of there.

The next few weeks were almost unbearable in their tension. The Doctor confirmed that with a few slight modifications the antidote would work perfectly on humans, and at the start morale was as its highest. As the days passed the doubts began to form. What if they weren't on the planet? What if they had found a cure themselves and shuttled off in some other direction? What if for some unanticipated reason the cure *didn't* work? What would we do then?

Everyone did the best they could to help keep each others minds off the subject; organising volleyball, velocity and Parises' Squares matches. Tornaments, new holoprogrammes, new past times. I think it's the only time this ship has had such a stong sense of community.

And then we were only thirty six hours away from the planet. We could communicate with them. Tuvok hailed them and once we confirmed they were both alright we spent the next day and a half trying to make the ship perfect for them. I worked in Engineering for hours without a break, determined to get efficiency up as high as it could go, while the rest of the crew did the same for their departments. Tom told me once that it reminded him of cleaning up after a blow-out party before your parents got home.

The Starfleet officers made sure there wasn't a wrinkled uniform or an unpolished boot anywhere. I spoke with the Maquis and asked them to take it easy on Chakotay and Janeway for at least a week. I made it a personal request.

When we arrived at the planet they were both beamed directly to sickbay. I was waiting for them and I remember how anxious I felt as they dematerialised and the Doctor quickly injected them with the antidote. It had an immediate effect as predicted and the Doctor smiled as he scanned them with his tricorder.

Chakotay noticed me first and rushed towards me, his arms wrapping around my body as if he desperately needed to hold onto something. I closed my eyes and hugged him back.

"I missed you," I whispered.

He said nothing, just squeezing me tighter before letting me go.

I opened my eyes and saw the Captain watching us, looking as if she herself could use a hug more than anything. She didn't ask for one. She didn't approach anyone. I wasn't comfortable enough with her to volunteer, and Chakotay...something had changed between them. I noticed the sadness that hung between them before the Captain excused herself and told us she'd be waiting for Chakotay in the corridor. The Doctor pointed out that she really could use more time usual his words on that particularly matter fell on deaf ears and he retreated into his office, muttering something about *ordering* her to report for a full physical.

I looked back at Chakotay, trying to examine those expressions and that body language I had spent so many hours studying. For the first time since we had met he was closed to me. I didn't know what he was thinking.

"You helped, didn't you." he stated, a rhetorical question.

"Yes," I answered, touching his arm.

He nodded, his eyes towards the floor. "I understand."

And then so did I.


Sign My Guestbook.

Suz's Voyager Fanfic