Title: Home
Author: Sabine
Email: sabine101@juno.com
Series: VOY
Rating: PG
Codes: J/C, C/Other
Archive: Anywhere
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Paramount owns 'em, please don't pay me.
Acknowledgements, The Beta Brigade: Special thanks to Liz ("you're getting divorced!")
for beta, and to everyone who pretended to understand what I wanted when I went
looking for a title. (Why *can't* I call this "Travelling With Children"?) Thank you Jodi,
Caz, Lena, Token, and all of YV; prizes are being prepared. Extra special thanks goes to
Punk "Ninja" Maneuverability, who sat in the passenger's seat all the way through this,
and actually does understand, sabishly. Greetings to Katie Redshoes, Seema, and anyone
else who saw me go there and come back. And this is dedicated with love to august, who
brought me here again.
Summary: "It's really the end of something, Chakotay."


"She says she's weary of this traveling
But she's speaking from the road
And in a while she'll change her tune.
And I said I think I know that feeling
when the sunshine makes you cold
and still the night comes all too soon
And you're left wondering if you really struck a deal
when you make it to the moon and she loses her appeal."
- Laura Kemp, from "Not the Dreaming"


Home


Trinnie brought a two-piece bathing suit to Greece, but she never wears it.

He was with her when she bought it, at a boutique in Baja California three months after
their first date. They had been down there to see her brother in a surf competition, but
they were really on vacation, yet another tropical trip she'd plotted and planned and paid
for. She saw the bikini on the rack through a window, dashed in and bought it without
even trying it on. It was white; she thought he'd like that. She informed him in a low
voice just how transparent it would get when it was wet. He managed a lecherous smile
that made him cough.

They are doing everything backwards, now, because it's Trinnie's way, and Chakotay lets
her carry him along, even when it means taking the honeymoon before the actual
wedding. He'd suggested they go off-world, but she was bent on Thessalonica so he sits
on the bungalow porch and watches her tripping in the surf. Behind his shades he stares
into the sunset, catching a silhouette of her over the top of his book.

She is afraid she is getting fat. She'd told him so their second night in Greece and he
made love to her to shut her up, but the truth was he didn't care if she'd gained weight,
and if held up at phaserpoint he wouldn't be able to tell if she had. He can't even
remember what color her eyes are. But she is worried, and she wears the tank suit for the
two weeks they are there, black because she'd heard it was slimming. She hasn't waxed
her bikini line or shaved her legs.

The night before the night before their flight back to San Francisco, one of the Grecian
women whisks Trinnie off to a spa, and Chakotay retires to the bar early. He barely
recognizes their faces, Mediterranean and swarthy in sarongs, but the Greek bartenders
all know him by name. He's been there for two weeks, after all.

"Usual?" the bartender asks. Chakotay nods.

She slides a glass down the bar and it stops right in front of him. "Want to talk?"

Something in his pituitary tells him she is gorgeous, but the drink is quieter and it won't
make him think about things he'd rather forget. About people he'd rather forget.

"I was just looking for a quiet place to relax," he says, and heads through the dark for an
empty rattan table.

Growing up, he never drank. In the Maquis, even at parties, he never drank. On Voyager,
he never drank. Now, he makes up for lost time.

***

A week after they'd come home, when all the papers were signed and all the medals were
given out, Starfleet had thrown them a party. A thousand people came; another thousand
were turned away at the door.

Midway into the evening, B'Elanna climbed onto the table and clanged her fork against
the side of her wineglass. "Hey!" she said, her heel in the bean dip. "Can I have your
attention, please? Please?"

Kathryn threw him a look, elbowed him in the ribs and sidled in a little closer, their eyes
fixed on the lieutenant teetering over hors d'oeuvres.

"Tom and I," B'Elanna went on, "have an announcement."

"You're getting divorced!" Harry shouted out, and Tom flicked an ice cube at the ensign.

"No," Tom said, "but close, real close."

"You're having a baby!" Captain Janeway clapped her hands together with unashamed
glee. Chakotay tried not to stare.

"Way to spoil the punchline, Captain," B'Elanna snorted. The room went up in cheers.

"How about that?" Kathryn turned to Chakotay, as the rest of the crowd descended upon
the parents-to-be. "You think they'll let me be the godmother?"

"I don't think they'd have it any other way."

He smiled, and she smiled back. The lines in her face were deeper than they'd been when
he first met her, but he had to still his hands to fight the urge to reach up and trace each
one with his fingertips.

"Now," she said, rattling the ice in her glass. "What are your big plans?"

"I thought I'd play it by ear," he said. "I need to remember how to live in the Alpha
Quadrant again."

"I know the feeling," she said, leaning in conspiratorially. "It's so strange, Chakotay." She
punched the second syllable of his name so it came out with a pop, her tongue on the roof
of her mouth exhaling like smoke. He loved the sound of it, his name on her tongue.

"It is strange," he agreed.

"How wonderful for Tom and B'Elanna, though," she said, musing, or maybe killing
time, filling the space while she searched his face over the rim of her glass, her head
tipped slightly to one side.

"It really is," he said.

Behind her, the party was thinning out. A crowd was gathering by the door, taking their
time putting jackets on, and hats, nodding goodbye and hugging.

Kathryn followed his eyeline and watched the huddle, officers and gentlepeople and their
big drunken smiles stumbling out. "It's really the end of something, Chakotay."

"It feels that way," he said. "It's very sad."

She pursed her lips. "Sad? To be home?"

"In a way, don't you think? Our adventure's over."

"We should say good night to everyone," she said. "It's getting late."

"You're right," he said, exhaling through his nose. "I'll catch up with you later."

"Later?"

"I mean, I'll call you some time."

She reached up, put her arms around him and gave him a friendly, floppy hug, her hands
and her glass slapping against his back. He patted her shoulders, trying not to smell her
hair. "Good," she said to his neck. "Don't lose touch, Chakotay."

She pulled back and he smiled at her again. "I would never."

And then she was gone, shaking Neelix's hand over by the punch bowl and he was alone
again.

He found her in the parking lot. A supply shuttle was unloading at the back gate of the
building, the tired-looking team shuffling anti-grav pallets up the concrete ramp. It was
late, long past midnight, and from the shadows beside the front door Chakotay watched
Kathryn cross the pavement, her hands shoved down in her pockets and her head craned
forward, face-first into the night like she was forging new ground somewhere and looking
for a place to plant her flag.

He realized he didn't even know where she lived. Starfleet had set them up with
apartments; Chakotay had been offered a beautiful brownstone on Russian Hill but he'd
been told it would take a week to get ready, and he hadn't felt like waiting. They showed
him a one-bedroom flat in the Upper Haight and he'd moved in with one bag, without
even asking who would be paying the rent. He assumed bills would come; he assumed
he'd deal with them when they did. But so far the lights were on, water ran warm and
someone had sent him a complete computer terminal setup, satellite broadcast uplink and
a replicator; he hadn't bothered to ask about those either. He lived out of his one bag,
afraid to unpack, afraid to log in to his terminal and set up new access codes. San
Francisco didn't feel like home yet and he feared for the day when it would.

Across the street, now, Kathryn waited under a lamppost for the bus. The Masonic street
shuttle went south, just blocks from Chakotay's house, and that was enough of an excuse
for him to cross under the streetlamp and take a seat on the bench beside where she was
standing.

"Going my way?" she asked with a chuckle.

"Where'd they set you up?"

"Oh," she smiled, sitting down next to him. "I've got a gorgeous four-bedroom house in
Noe Valley. It's far too big for me. I've put in for a transfer to something more
reasonable, but Admiral Polczek just laughs at me."

"They tried to put me in a brownstone on Lombard, but I wouldn't let them," Chakotay
said, turning to look at her. "I've got a hideous semi-furnished place in the Haight."

"So this is your bus line. I'm just on as far as Geary." She rubbed her palms together,
blowing into her hands to warm them. Chakotay spread his fingers on his knees and
stared at the ground.

"Nice party," she said. He nodded.

In this part of the Presidio all the trees were labelled; shiny brass plaques grew from
bubbles of bark in the fat trunks of pine trees that were older than Starfleet, older than the
city, older than the settled territory of California itself. Centuries ago, someone had wired
those plaques to the trees, some arbor foundation had taken it upon themselves to educate
Northern Californians in their own indigenous breed of wildlife, and the trees had bitten
back. In the huge tree trunk next to the street lamp, a flabby fold of bark covered most of
the phrase "Pinus Ponderosa" and grew around the edges of the plaque to conceal the
carefully-written paragraph detailing the history of the tree and its age as of -- Chakotay
stood up to try and make out the date -- 1988. He traced the rounded lumps of tree with
the tips of his fingers.

"The Ponderosa Pine," Kathryn said. "I didn't know trees came this big until I came west
for the first time. I was ten years old; my father took us to see the giant Redwoods. It's
really amazing they've survived this long, considering what man has done."

"Yeah, you'd think they'd all have been used for paper in the 20th century, book covers
and cardboard packaging decomposing in landfills now," Chakotay said, sitting down
again.

"The human race still manages to surprise me," Kathryn said, resting a hand on
Chakotay's shoulder. "When I see a tree like that."

There was silence for a moment. "I wonder what's taking that damned shuttle?" Kathryn
leaned forward to peer down the street. "I should have just spent the extra credits to use
the transporter. It's too cold tonight."

Chakotay swallowed hard, inhaling deeply through his nose before allowing himself to
slide a little closer to her on the bench and put his arm across her shoulder. He rubbed her
bicep. "That better?"

"Mmm," she smiled, leaning closer. "Much. Thank you."

"No problem," he said, staring out into the night.

"I've been thinking about what you said," she murmured. "About this being the end of
something."

He tensed, afraid he'd been caught or found out, his secret desires revealed. "All things
must change," he said.

"I miss her already," Kathryn said, and he knew she meant Voyager. "She's being
retrofitted, upgraded, they're even installing a new EMH."

"What's happening to the Doc?"

"Oh, he got downloaded into the mainframe at Starfleet Medical," Kathryn said, turning
her head toward his chest so he could feel her lips moving as she spoke. He held her more
tightly. "I'm sure he's already driving half the scientists crazy with tales of his
experiences in the Delta Quadrant. The great doctor, in battle." She laughed, and he
laughed too.

"She's still your ship," he said. "They can line up a mission for you in half a year's time."

She nodded, her hair sticking to his chest with static. "I'm so tired," she said. "I can't even
think about it."

They sat in silence for a moment, and then she spoke again.

"We have to put it behind us, Chakotay. It was awful, and wonderful, and we were lucky
to have experienced it, but we are also lucky to be home."

He knew she was right, but he couldn't bring himself to say it. Home. San Francisco
wasn't home to him, any more than Voyager had been when he first got there. But
everything was bigger, here, colder, darker, lonelier. Out of nowhere, Chakotay felt
unattractive, miserable, and boring.

"We'll never have what we had on Voyager," he said, trying to find the right words. "That
was my family." He looked down at the top of her head, and rested a hand on her hair.
"You were my family, Kathryn," he said. "I'm not sure I can give that up so easily."

"It can't be the same," she said, carefully. "But you will always be my family."

It sounded like a death knell, somehow. He bit his lip.

"Chakotay," she said, breaking free of his embrace and backing up so she could look at
him. "Would you like to go get a cup of coffee, somewhere?"

He shook the fog from his brain and tried to smile. "I'll bet you're thrilled to have as
much coffee as you want without worrying about conserving replicator power."

"Thrilled," she said. "I will never take coffee for granted again, that's for sure."

He heard a whirring sound and the hoverbus slid around the corner to settle in front of
them. "Come down as far as my neighborhood," he said. "It's sort of on your way,
anyway, and there's a Starbucks on my corner."

"I'd love to," she said, stepping up onto the bus as he stood back to let her pass.

***

One of the waitresses -- whose name is Nathalie, Chakotay recalls -- has decided to sit
down across from him with her chin propped in her hands and a knowing sort of smile.

"She'll be back," Nathalie says, and Chakotay has no idea what she's talking about. "She
really loves you."

Chakotay assumes she means Trinnie, and he manages a grateful smile.

"You're a lucky man," Nathalie says. Chakotay can't believe how easy it is to be
misunderstood, to be not understood at all.

"Yes, I am," is all he says. She's refilled his drink without him noticing, and she's gone
before he looks up again. He drains the glass.

***

Even a sporadic coffee-drinker like Chakotay appreciated Starbucks for its strange blend
of kitsch and history, 20th century pop-culture artifacts displayed anachronistically in
antigrav cabinets, and replicators built in the style of old-fashioned coffee-maker
machines. Classical rock music echoed from the speakers, the familiar whining drone of
angst that characterized the early 21st century. Chakotay remembered taking courses in
classical music in college; he'd written a paper called "Turn-of-the-Millennium Ennui"
that had scored him an A and familiarized him with great composers like Bono and
Michael Stipe.

Under the teal and purple plexiglass lamps, Kathryn was more beautiful than ever, her
hands wrapped around a mug of "Windows 98 Blend," steam rising in low, wide ripples
over the coffee's near-black surface. Chakotay took a sip of his drink and burned his
tongue. The musician sang about a lost love named Maria, and Chakotay set his cup
down too fast and some foamed milk sloshed over the side, puddling on the stainless steel
table. Kathryn reached across with her napkin and wiped it clean, smiling at him.

She started telling him a story about Indiana, and his coffee cooled enough to drink, to
refill, to drink again while she talked and joked and he laughed back and outside it started
raining. For the first time, they weren't Captain and Commander, weren't separated by
rank, by the acres and miles of respect and admiration that had kept Chakotay's feelings
bottled up for seven years on Voyager. For the first time, they weren't military, weren't
even Starfleet, weren't part of anything bigger than a man and a woman laughing over
coffee in a theme restaurant in San Francisco in the middle of a rainy night.

The coffee made him bolder, mostly because he knew how much she loved to indulge
and he loved to watch her do it. An hour into the evening he had coerced Kathryn to take
bourbon shots in her coffee, specialty of the house, eight year old vintage in the style of
20th century mash whiskey and she took her scarf off and hung it on the back of her chair
where it clung to her hair, staticky, when she leaned back to laugh. Three o'clock turned
to four and they were the only ones left, the teen clerks in green aprons spraying down
counters, wrapping pastries and stacking stools on other stools. Chakotay insisted on
paying and Kathryn didn't argue.

He knew he was more sober than she was, which didn't make him sober enough to feel
guilty about the fact that she was stumbling, hanging on to his arm as they walked down
the street in the rain. She giggled like a stranger and all he wanted was make her do it
again. They arrived at his door without realizing that that's where they were going. He
found his keycard with thick fingers and let her in in the dark.

"Chakotay," she began in a sing-song, taking her coat off and draping it over the back of
a chair, "are you taking advantage of me in my weakened state?"

He didn't let himself think about it. He'd wanted this for too long. "Without you, I'm
nothing," he said, trying for exaggerated-flirty but it came out sounding far too earnest
and he led her into the bedroom before the words could settle in the still of his semi-
furnished apartment.

"Oh, Chakotay," she said, and kissed him.

He awoke in the dark with her hand on his chest. The rain had stopped and the moon was
setting but even low it cut in and he traced the shape of the backs of her slender fingers,
her tapered nails against his ribs. With his eyes closed he could imagine he was in his
stateroom on Voyager, could imagine the sound of Neelix' voice coming over the comm,
or Tuvok's, could imagine the blackness outside was the unyielding expanse of stars, and
as long as it was dark, he was back there, and it was safe, and nothing would ever have to
change, and Kathryn was here now, and his. He lay in the dark and counted the stars in
his brain.

But the minty-pink cut of sunrise painted the sky an early grey and he couldn't keep his
eyes shut. Kathryn shifted on the mattress and rolled closer to him, her head on his
shoulder, her lips on his clavicle, wet. Daylight had been the hardest thing to adjust to,
coming home; the sun was foreign to him, crude and unfamiliar and ugly. The sky was
uniformly grey now and there weren't any stars. It never ceased to surprise him, how
quickly day came, how stealthily and without warning. His clock read 06:14. Kathryn
made a little moany sound and Chakotay closed his eyes again and begged for sleep to
come.

When the sun came up, she got up to make breakfast and he lay on his side and watched
her poke at the replicator for coffee. She wore his robe and she looked small in it, strong
short calves and bare feet padding on the linoleum floor of the kitchen. The only
difference between "kitchen," "living room" and "bedroom" was the carpet color, and
even the wide curtain that was meant to separate the sleeping area from the rest of the
house blended into the wall, tied back in yet another shade of beige. Kathryn, humming
the song about Maria, came back to bed, kissed Chakotay on the forehead and handed
him a cup of coffee which he set on the nightstand without drinking.

"Morning," she said, propping herself up against the headboard and folding her bare legs
underneath her.

"You didn't have enough coffee last night?" Chakotay asked with a chuckle. Kathryn
shrugged and took a long sip.

"Never," she said. "I've got one hell of a headache, though."

"I may have some herbal medicines in my suitcase," he said. "Beats hair of the dog."

"I wouldn't be so sure," Kathryn said. "I'm a little suspicious of homeopathic remedies.
You know this about me."

It sounded so intimate, the way she said it, carelessly, a glib reference to their seven
inseparable years together. Of course he knew. He knew everything about her. But still,
she looked different in the sun.

"I love you, Kathryn," he said. It sounded morbid.

"Mm," she said, over her mug. Outside a shuttle honked and someone shouted a curse in
Klingon.

"I've waited seven years to...be with you like that," he said, the words spilling out.

"I know," she said. It made him shudder. "Was it worth it?" she asked and her brashness
both terrified and impressed him. He licked his lips.

"I don't know," he said. "Not that way, I don't think. Not drunk."

She took another drink of coffee. "No," she said. "Not that way."

She got up and began dressing. Chakotay stared at his coffee, cooling on the nightstand.
"I've got a whole string of interminable meetings today," she said. "I'd better get home
and shower and change."

He didn't tell her she could shower here. He didn't remind her she could order clothes
from the replicator. He watched her put on her shoes.

"I'd like to see you later," she said, stumbling a little and backing toward the door. "I'll
call you."

He stood up, pulled on his robe, and went to latch the door behind her. "Please do," he
said. "I'd like that."

She kissed him awkwardly, and then she was gone. He felt sick to his stomach. Outside it
was blindingly bright, and he went to draw the shades.

Two weeks passed, then three. She never called.

***

"Mr. Chakotay?" Nathalie is tapping him on the shoulder. He looks up.

"Sorry," he says, mastering an apologetic smile. "I was lost in thought."

"Your fiancee is upstairs," Nathalie says. "She called down to remind you you have
dinner reservations."

Chakotay stands up and leaves far too much money on the table before heading back to
his hotel room.

***

"Tell me, Mr…Choco-tay, what would you bring to our corporation?"

That was almost a year ago. Or, as he preferred to count it, fifty-three days after
Voyager's return. Six weeks after he and Kathryn had spent the night together, and he
hadn't tasted coffee since. He'd sat for an hour in the waiting room, his resume across his
knees, nauseated after no sleep and a four day bender, but Starfleet was sending him on
these interviews, and back then he still extended them the courtesy of showing up.

"I'm sorry, can you repeat the question?"

The interviewer loosened his tie and exhaled audibly. "Admiral Penrose had a lot of good
things to say about you. Wanted to know if I could talk you in to considering that
ambassadorship you declined, but by your record I think we'd rather have you here."

The man chuckled. Chakotay said "thank you."

"We're a pretty cutting-edge firm, and I'm not too shy to say we're proud of the work
we've done in transwarp research. Now, I know you're not an engineer, but your exposure
to the Borg technology would make you an invaluable asset here at ShryCo. So, now,
don't be modest. What can you tell me?"

"Not much, really. I'm sorry. I think I may have wasted your time."

Here the interviewer's face would go sort of blank; it was the same every time. "Are you
saying you're not interested in a position here with us?"

"I just don't think I'm the right man for the job."

***

Chakotay catches himself watching Tom watch B'Elanna breastfeed their daughter. She's
commandeered a quiet corner of the banquet hall and she's trapped in reverie, mother and
child in their own blissful world as she strokes Meyal's fine hair and holds the child
closer to her chest. Tom's in a tuxedo and he's not even trying to contain his pride,
straddled across the back of a folding chair and watching his perfect family. Chakotay
smiles.

Guests are filtering in and the seats are filling up, a strange blend of Starfleet personnel,
Indian guides, a handful of ex-Maquis and Trinnie's enormous family. Trinnie's mother
takes most of the front row for her fleet of grandchildren, and Trinnie's sisters, in
matching bridesmaid's dresses, wipe the faces of their sons and urge them to stop
fidgeting. Chakotay sits down beside Tom Paris.

"She's beautiful," Chakotay says. Tom nods.

"She's perfect," Tom says. "I had no idea it would be like this. I've never fallen in love
like that."

"You talking about B'Elanna, or Meyal?" Chakotay chuckles.

Tom can't tear his eyes away. "Meyal," he says, like it's the most magical word in the
world. "Do you know, I went in to check on her the other night, and I reached down into
her crib and she recognized me, and she just lit up. It was like nothing could have made
her happier than to see me stand there and look at her. Me! An ex-con who was never
good at anything except daredevil flying. And I'm a daddy."

"You'll be a damned good father, Tom. You'll be terrific parents, both of you."

Tom inhales deeply. "We will be," he says. "I know it."

B'Elanna has finished and she gets up and comes to sit beside Tom, handing him the baby
so she can kiss Chakotay on the cheek. "You're getting married before we do," she says
with a grin. "I never thought I'd see the day."

"Trinnie's terrific," Tom says. "You're real lucky, Chakotay."

Chakotay nods.

"Hey," B'Elanna says, "after you come back from your honeymoon, the four of us should
go out. Antigrav sailing or something. Like a double date."

"We've already gone on the honeymoon," Chakotay says. "Trinnie wanted it that way."

"Right," Tom says. "Well, good, then. You should give us a call."

"We will," Chakotay says, and Tom hands Meyal back to B'Elanna. "I'd better get up
there," Chakotay says.

"Merde," B'Elanna says, and her Klingon-tinged French accent makes him smile.

"Knock 'em dead," Tom says, and Chakotay leaves for the altar.

A familiar, gravelly voice stops him in his tracks. Kathryn's come in the front door, and
Chakotay catches his breath at the sight of her. Her hair is longer than it had been last
time he saw her, pulled back and away from her face and stuck through with a lily on a
silver spike. Her dress is stiff, organdy, sleeveless and shimmering like a supernova in
some indiscernible shade of silver and red and gold.

"Kathryn," he says, swallowing hard.

"You look very elegant," she says, coming close enough for him to smell her shampoo.
"Today's the big day, how exciting." Her eyes sparkle.

"You look beautiful," he says, low. "It's good to see you."

She stands on tiptoe to kiss him. "It's good to see you too, Chakotay," she says.

The rest of the room and the room noise has faded away, spun off like a centrifuge
leaving them alone in the hyper-stillness, the eye of the storm. He touches her cheek.

"I can't wait to meet the lucky woman," Kathryn says. "I'm so happy for you."

"Trinnie's great," Chakotay says, like it's a question.

"Chakotay," Kathryn says, and it's exactly the same as it's always been, the pop of the
second syllable and the magnificence of his name on her tongue. "How have you been?"

"Fine," he says. "You?"

"Mm," she says, dismissively, and changes the subject. "How did you meet Trinnie?"

Chakotay smiles. "Actually, Neelix introduced us. He works with her at the Foundation."

Kathryn shifts her weight, cocking her head to the side and looking decades younger for
the tiny movement. "Ahh, Neelix. That man loves playing matchmaker. I'm sure he's
taking all the credit for you two working out."

"He hasn't let us forget it, that's for sure," Chakotay says.

"You never called me," Kathryn says. "I was beginning to worry."

Chakotay keeps smiling, his palms clammy. "You never called me either," he says.

She looks at the floor. "No," she says. "I didn't." She takes a breath. "Things have been
different," she says. "It's not the same as it was on Voyager. It can't be."

"Congratulations on your admiralship," he says. She nods.

"Starfleet wants you to know there's always a captain's chair for you if you want to take
it," she says. "I'd be privileged to write you a recommendation."

He shakes his head. "I'm fine, Kathryn," he says. "Trinnie makes more than enough to
support us."

"Don't you get bored, with nothing to do?" she asks. The crowd is quieting down and
Admiral Penrose is blowing into the microphone.

"I have to get married now," Chakotay says.

"I'd like the chance to catch up with you some day," Kathryn says, but Chakotay's turned
his back on her now, and he steps up onto the platform. He hears her walk away,
disappear into the crowd and sit down.

Chakotay stands at the platform, his shoes too tight, and holds out his wrists for Admiral
Penrose to drape them with the ceremonial scarf. Tribal incense burns, and the musicians,
pan-flutes and a drum circle, begin.

At the rear of the auditorium, the doors swing open, and Trinnie's youngest niece Leila
steps in time, tossing flower petals.

The drumbeat quickens, and Chakotay's heart pulses in tune. The procession files in, the
bridesmaids, Trinnie's father, Trinnie.

Chakotay takes a breath, meditates on his spirit guide, opens his eyes. She has reached
the altar, she takes his hand, she is beautiful.

She has made a home for them somewhere, and every morning when the sun rises he will
see her face and it will make sense. And at night, when the stars are out, he will not sleep
alone.

THE END

drop me a line at sabine101@juno.com -- I'll be waiting for your call.