The Shadow of Your Smile

by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount owns the characters.

As with most of my stories, set sometime in the future.


Every day is a challenge.

When the computer wakes me and I look at the chronometer despite already knowing the time, I don't want to get up. I don't want to face a day that I know I have to face.

A day when I won't see your smile.

Dragging myself out of bed with great amounts of lethargy, I use what little energy I have to get into the shower. That usually rejuvenates me a little; just the sheer experience. It's good for the body, if not for the soul.

I pull on my uniform and half-heartedly clip on my commission bar, reminded every time I put it on of when you first gave it to me.

("Welcome to the team, Mr Chakotay.")

And you smiled.

Leaving my quarters I make my way to the mess hall for breakfast. My head is lowered as I transverse the corridors and turbolifts, trapped in my own little world. It's as if there's music playing and I'm the only one who can hear it, so I have to pay attention to what it's trying to tell me. Only it isn't music. Images. Memories.

("Sometimes you have to go in blind - that's the exciting part.")

And you smiled.

I arrive at the mess hall and reach the counter to get my breakfast from Neelix. He makes small talk about the latest edition of his show before handing me my tray and giving me a small, sympathetic smile. Unable to look I cast my eyes away and find a table to sit at, alone.

They're all that way. All of them. I know they're doing it now, even as I try to eat my breakfast in peace. I suppose that's more of a relative term. I haven't been at peace for a long time now. But I know they're staring me, exchanging sympathetic glances that say "Isn't it sad?" or "Shouldn't someone talk to him?"

Truth is, some of them have tried. Ironic. As their First Officer many of them came to me for personal advice. Now, they seem to think they have something they could say that would comfort me.

I don't want to be comforted.

I want this pain.

I understand B'Elanna's point of view, now.

It's the only way I know I'm alive.

They all cope so well, as if nothing life-shattering has happened. Perhaps it hasn't, for them.

Finishing my meal without even noticing what I've eaten, I leave the room and prepare myself to face what's waiting for me on the bridge.

The turbolift opens and a familiar half-Klingon tumbles out, clearly in the middle of saying goodbye to her partner. They're clutching at each other, grinning like idiots.

"Tom, you really have to get to the bridge! And I need some breakfast. Now go!"

There's hardly any force behind the words; it's almost definitely a conversation they've had many times. He concedes though, probably because he's worried about what the Captain will say about him being late.

That's when they see me.

Immediately they let go of each other and straighten their uniforms. Their humour fades and it's almost like watching their eyes dying.

I did that. Me.

"Don't." I insist.

"Don't what?" she asks carefully.

"Don't deny yourself some pleasure. It's hard enough to come by out here."

I step by them into the turbolift. Quickly saying their goodbyes they go their opposite ways, Tom stepping back into the 'lift with me and ordering it to the bridge. It barely starts moving when he orders it to stop.



You smiled.

I sigh. Yet another person who thinks they can help me. Haven't I had this conversation enough times already? I look at him and he continues speaking.

"You know, you shouldn't deny *yourself* some pleasure either."

("I love a bath; it's my favourite way of relaxing.")


"What do you mean?"

He doesn't hesitate. "You've been moping for a long time. Maybe it's time you got over it and...moved on. I know for a fact that Megan-"

"Thank you for your concern, Ensign. It is unwarranted." I'm too tired to even argue with him. To point out that it's none of his business, that he couldn't possibly dictate to me how I should feel about anyone. Besides, he's only trying to help. I've had to remind myself of that many times.

The 'lift resumes its journey at my command and a few seconds later we're at our destination. Exiting, we both head towards our respective seats, avoiding any reason to talk to each other.

Reaching my chair I sit as proudly as possible, not showing any hesitation at this of all places.

"Good morning Commander."

I turn to face you. "Good morning Captain," I greet warmly. "Sleep well?"

("Yes. You too.")


"Well enough." you reply and you smile, but it's the same smile I've seen for the last three years now. One devoid of any real heart. Merely the shadow of your smile. I have never become used to seeing it.

The day continues.


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