At The End Of The Day
"Uncle Tom! Uncle Tom! Wait for me!"
Stopping in his tracks, Tom Paris turned just in time to see Naomi skid to a halt next to him.
"Hey kiddo," he said, ruffling her hair, even though he knew she hated it.
He watched in amusement as she grimaced and took a step away from him. He stifled a smile, he loved to tease her.
"What's up?" Tom asked, starting to walk again and Naomi, who had already forgiven his faux pas, followed him dutifully.
"I'm bored," she sighed. "No one has time for me. My mom is on duty, Neelix has to prepare dinner and I'm not allowed to disturb Seven while she's doing her research," she counted each statement off her fingers. "So, I asked the computer where you were and it told me that you are not only off duty, but on deck 6, Section 4B. I therefore concluded that you were on your way to the holodeck. Are you going there?" She asked, her words coming out in rush.
"You're right and you'll eventually outsmart us all, Naomi," Tom smiled.
The little girl giggled at the praise.
"So what are you going to do there? Another Captain Proton adventure? You promised to take me. Almost everyone has been there with you except me. If I go, can I have a pretty dress like the captain's?" Again she stumbled over the words. The prospect of an adventure on the Holodeck, with Tom Paris no less, was far too exciting. He was always the most fun to be with.
"I don't think the captain's dress would be appropriate for you." Tom actually laughed out loud picturing Sam's face if Naomi really showed up in Queen Arachnia's dress. "And I'm not doing a Captain Proton adventure tonight." He watched Naomi's face fall, but it lightened up again at once. "What are you doing instead? Can I come with you?"
"Not this time," Tom shook his head. "This time is only for Aunt B'Elanna and me. But I'll take you on your very own Captain Proton adventure very soon. I promise!"
Naomi nodded, but he could see the disappointment in her eyes and he made a mental note to take her out next week.
"Okay," she said with a voice that showed defeat. "But you still haven't told me where you are going." She took another look at his costume. "You look nice!" She said smiling.
"Thank you," Tom nodded and made a show of tugging at the arms and the neck of his tuxedo.
"It's about an old action hero of Earth's late 20th century. It's about saving Earth from an evil enemy." ‘And involves lots and lots of beautiful women,' he added to himself. A grin formed on his lips at the thought of B'Elanna already waiting for him.
"That sounds...." Naomi was interrupted by the sudden blaring of the red alert klaxons.
Tom cursed, the last few weeks had been far too quiet. It had been only a matter of time before the Delta Quadrant struck back.
"Naomi you go to Neelix. You know the drill. Keep calm and hurry up!" The little girl nodded and hurried away.
Turning, Tom started to run in the opposite direction, already tugging his bow-tie loose.
‘Ah well,' he thought. ‘James Bond had lost his charm anyway when they made him a Vulcan.'
"What's going on?" Tom asked, as he stormed onto the Bridge to take his post at the helm.
"We've detected explosions in the capital city," Tuvok reported.
Upon looking up at the screen Tom saw smoke billowing from the planet below.
"You mean the capital city where the captain and commander are visiting right now?"
‘Damn,' Tom thought.
"What do you think of these?" Chakotay asked, holding a piece of a yellow alien fruit in front of Janeway.
Since Kathryn had learned her lesson early in the journey when she'd taken a mouthful of leola root the first time it had been dished up to her, she only took a small, carful bite. This time she was rewarded with a rich and fruity taste though.
"Another good one, Commander," she said, a smile forming on her lips. "Let's add them to the list, just like the one before that tasted like apples and pears."
Nodding, Chakotay added the two items to the trading list. "How about that one that tasted like sausages, hasperat and cherries?"
"It was interesting, wasn't it?" Janeway wrinkled her nose. "What do you think Lieutenant Ko'ola?" She turned to the security officer who had accompanied them to the market.
"I think we should add it to the list," the officer shrugged his shoulders. "We can always delete it later."
"A wise man," Kathryn smiled and nodded. "Commander put it..."
She stopped as a high pitched whine suddenly filled the air and even though she was alien to this world, some things always sounded the same, no matter where you were.
She swung around, her gaze locking with Chakotay's, a split second before her security officer pulled her to the ground.
A heart beat later, all hell broke loose as the world around them exploded.
The first thought that entered Chakotay's head was that he would never touch a drink again. At least not the kind of drink he must have had last night. His head was spinning even though his eyes were closed and he didn't dare try to open them, knowing it would only awaken a murderous headache lurking in the background. ‘And that shrill whine isn't helping either' he thought.
"Computer, mute alarm," he tried to command, but only a slur of garbled words left his lips, the whine got louder and louder and even more insistent. Furrowing his brows, he cracked his eyes open slightly only to slam them shut again as pain exploded in his head. Even in that fraction of a second, he realized that something wasn't right. This wasn't his quarters and instead of lying in his bed, he was lying on something hard and at a very awkward angle. Chakotay tried to gather his thoughts, but the noise in his head made it hard for him to concentrate.
He cracked his eyes open again and this time he managed to keep them open. He had trouble focusing at first, but after a few minutes he was able to take in his surroundings. He was lying on the ground in what looked like a street, surrounded by broken wood and glass. ‘I think it would be better to get up from here,' he thought, ‘before I get run over by something. Kathryn would be so pissed...'
That thought and the sight of a small white hand and a bunch of reddish brown hair peeking out from under a tailor's broken stall made his world coming to a sudden halt.
His own pain and injuries were suddenly forgotten as he scrambled to his feet. He wasn't able to stifle a groan though, as the sudden movement brought another flash of pain behind his eyes.
He wasn't sure what had happened but once he stood his mind cleared and he was able to make out more of his surroundings. People where screaming and running around, stumbling over the bodies scattered over the ground. Some of the booths they had visited only minutes before were on fire and in the distance, he heard sirens. He only hoped it meant that help was on its way.
As he moved forward to help his captain, he realized that the whine he had been hearing since he'd regained consciousness was the sound of a mother crying as she hovered over her lost child.
It only took him seconds to reach Kathryn's side, but to him it seemed like hours. Upon reaching her, he began to remove the pile of wood and stones she was caught under, only pausing for a second to make contact with Voyager. His attempt was met with static but he didn't waste time with another try. ‘They would already know what happened. They would be on their way. If they are still alive...' He gave a sharp shake of his head, not wanting to go down that road.
Finally, he was able to make out more of Kathryn's form. She was half buried under the body of Lieutenant Ko'ola, the security officer who had tried to protect her from the explosion.
Taking a deep breath he noticed a large piece of metal protruding from the Lieutenant's back. Chakotay didn't need to check the man's vital signs to know that he hadn't made it.
Lifting the poor man's body, Chakotay grimaced at the slurping sound it made as the two bodies separated. He lay the body down, then gasped in shock as he noticed the sharp edge poking out from the man's belly. He turned is head and cried out in horror when he saw the deep red pool of blood that had formed on Kathryn's uniform. The flying shrapnel hit with such force that it not only cost the life of one of Voyager's officers, but had also inflicted a heavy belly wound to its captain.
Chakotay couldn't help but think that he had just made matters worse by pulling the piece of metal out of the captain's wound. Making a desperate attempt to try to stop the bleeding, he pressed his hand on the gaping gash. As hard as he tried, it wouldn't stop bleeding and it was as though he could feel the life slowly seeping from her body with each gush of blood. A small desperate cry caught in his throat.
He wished she would open her eyes just one more time, so he could tell her how much he loved her; so he could tell her all the things he hadn't told her yet.
And as he cradled the dying body of his captain close to him, his cry joined the plaintive wailing of the grieving mother.
He stumbled awake with his cry echoing off the walls of his quarters. The room lay in darkness, only illuminated by the stars streaking by the viewport. He sat in silence, listening to his surroundings.
As his breathing slowed and his heart began to beat at a more regular pace he was able to make out the gentle hum of the warp drive running deep in the belly of the ship and the gentle come and go of the voices of his crew walking the corridor in front of his quarters.
But above all, he could hear the steady and clear sound of her breathing and it was the sweetest sound of all.
He knew that the only reason she hadn't wakened with his cry was that the Doctor had put her under heavy sedation. One of the many compromises they had made since she'd refused to stay in sickbay.
Observing the gentle and regular rise and fall of her chest, he resisted the urge to pull the blanket away from her body to check that she was fine. He knew that the doctor wouldn't have released her from sickbay if she wasn't but the urge was strong.
Still he needed to touch her and he tried to find comfort in gently brushing a stray lock of hair from her face. They'd had to cut her hair since some of it had caught fire in the explosion. He had always loved her long hair and hated to see it this short again but he knew though that, if he said anything, she would only shrug him off, telling him that it would grow out eventually. For her such things were irrelevant, unaware that these small things brought him solace.
Chakotay studied her peaceful face for a few more seconds before he sighed and swung his legs out of the bed. He wouldn't find any more sleep tonight. The chronometer on the bedside table showed 1900 hundred hours, which meant that they had slept through most of the day. The doctor had put them on sick leave for twenty-four hours - well actually he had put Kathryn on sick leave for the rest of the week, but both knew she would be back at her desk by tomorrow - still he decided to take a short tour of the ship. That way he would be able to greet her with a hot cup of steaming coffee and a status report once she awoke.
Donning on some simple clothes instead of his uniform, he reached down to place a small kiss on Kathryn's temple before leaving her to sleep. She crunched her nose slightly and mumbled something as he pulled back, but still didn't awake. Chuckling, he straightened and tiptoed out of the room.
He wasn't surprised when he ran into Tom and B'Elanna just outside his quarters. And if he was surprised by their state of dress he didn't show it.
"Good evening. On your way to the holodeck?"
"Yes Sir," Tom smiled, pulling B'Elanna close, as they passed him. "Off to save the world again."
‘But sometimes the world is just not enough,' Chakotay thought, as he turned to face the remains of another day in the Delta Quadrant.
~ The End ~