Where the hell am I?
I feel nice and warm and cozy. I like I’m in my bed at home.
But I’m not. I’m on Voyager seventy thousand light years away.
Wait, I hear the beeps of machines and whispered voices. That must mean I’m in Sickbay. But how did I get here? The last thing I remember is Tom Paris – or rather, the thing that Tom Paris evolved into – manhandling me into the shuttle and hurling us into a transwarp state.
Feeling something press into the stretch of skin along my neck, my mind somehow reconnects with my body.
And I feel… god, I feel awful.
My muscles are aching as if they have been pulled apart one at a time, my head feels as if it is on the cusp of an explosion and the bottom of my belly feels strangely overused yet empty.
A memory - or rather three memories - long since sequestered to the back of my mind surfaces to the top. The pain of it all; not just the physical but the emotional toll it took on my body. Having to bury it all and pretend that nothing happened…
How could this have happened?
“Is she going to be alright?” The worried voice of Mr. Paris fills my ears as another hypospray is injected into my skin.
“She will be just fine, now leave me to treat my patient or I will sedate you Mr. Paris.” The cocky voice of the Doctor resonates from close by. Feeling his hand on my shoulder, after a moment, he gently squeezes my still aching flesh and whispers in my ear, “Captain? I know you are awake. How are you feeling?”
Taking a deep breath, my eyelashes flutter open and the full brunt of light invades my eyes. As pain pierces my temple, I squeeze my eyes shut and croak, “Dim the lights.” When I can sense the brightness shadowing against my eyelids, I blink my eyes open and simply nod my head. “Water.” My throat is scratchy, corse from the affects of whatever happened to us.
As the Doctor turns to the replicator to get me what I need, I push my body up with the sheer force of my knuckles bracing against the biobed. That's when I feel it most, the soreness between my legs in conjunction with the emptiness in my belly. These are definitely not unfamiliar to me.
When he sees me straining, the Doctor rushes to my aid. Giving me the cup, he grabs ahold of my shoulders to keep me still. “Please Captain, you have to lay still. The affects of the evolutionary and de-evolutionary stages your body has gone through has left your muscles taxed and your body susceptible to illness.”
Taking in as much water as my mouth will allow me, I look at him over the rim of my glass and ask, “Is Tom okay?”
Glancing over at the still body across the room on his biobed, the Doctor nods, “He will be just fine. His recuperation rate is far exceeding my original time.”
Gulping in the rest of the water, I lay my cup on my thigh and rasp, “What happened?”
“Mr. Paris kidnapped you, stole a shuttle, transwarped you to a swampy planet where you thankfully stayed until we were able to catch up to you.” The distaste is evident in his retelling, yet, another cautious glance towards the helmsman lets me know that his concern for his wellbeing is still there.
Pressing my cool fingers into my aching temple, I ask, “I am to assume that the evolutionary state that Tom succumbed to is the same thing that happened to me?”
Nodding, he hesitantly adds, “Among other things.”
Noticing the flash of worry in his eyes as he discreetly looks down at my belly, I take in a full account of the changes I can now feel in my body. My breasts are fuller, heavy with milk; the ache between my legs gives way to the pain of my muscles being ripped apart; but most of all, the depressing void left in my lower belly by a tiny embryo. Covering my poor belly with my free hand, I silently mourn the loss of another child.
“The species you evolved into mated and procreated.” His voice is gentle as if he is about to give me some devastating news. “You were able to conceive and birth two younglings.”
Sheer surprise lifts my chin to see that he is serious. I was able to have not one but two.
I was… oh my…
Tears rush to the corner of my eyes as I once again grip my belly. Looking towards the ceiling, I give thanks that at least something happened right with my body.
“During our cursory find, the away team noted that there were two damaged embryos found underneath the sand. They were peacefully – if not lovingly – placed there by I'm assuming either you or Mr. Paris. Without upsetting the burial ground, I was able to determine from their scans that those two embryos were older than the younglings caught diving into the water.”
As strange as it might be, I shall mourn their passing along with the other three. Closing my eyes, I cling to the joyous thought that I gave birth to two. Feeling hot tears run down my cheeks, I bow my head so that the Doctor won't see.
Feeling his warm hand covering my shoulder, he murmurs so that no one else can hear, “During my pelvic exam, I noticed that there was scar tissue coating your Fallopian tubes. I couldn't help but notice that the scar tissue is older than the life of this vessel. I would say that you had miscarried twice, maybe three times before coming onto Voyager, maybe within the last fifteen years or so.”
Lifting my chin with a tremble from my lips, I softly beg, “Please, don't include that into your report. What happened to me is personal and I'd rather not have anyone taking pity on me.” Opening and closing his mouth in a flux of confusion, I grab his wrist and murmur, “Please!”
Finally giving into my plea by nodding, he holds up his finger, “But just this once. I will update your medical file when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant.”
Giving him the first real smile that I have had had in a long time, I bow my head again and say, “Thank you.” Slipping my hand from his shoulder, he takes my glass to refill it as my fingers play along my wonderful belly.
When he comes back, I thankfully take the water and ask something that has been burning in my mind for the past minute, “How was I able to have offspring if I… have… all this… scar tissue?” My cheeks burn in embarrassment at asking something personal out in the open. Other than briefly talking to my sister and, surprisingly, Tuvok about it, I mainly kept this part of my painful past to myself.
Crinkling his brow in consternation, he guesses, “I suppose as the rest of your body evolved, it is natural to assume that your evolved state updated certain aspects that weren't able to function properly.”
Wincing at his rather forward explanation, I can't help but crossly murmur under my breath, “Out of all the women Tom Paris could have chosen, he kidnapped the woman with a broken cervix.”
Looking rather cross, the Doctor admonishes me with a stern, “Captain,” before I am able flick my wrist for him to ignore my flippant comment. Tipping his head to the side, he sighs in a superior tone, “With the proper care from an informed doctor, you can still have children. It just won't be as… conventional as other female humanoids.”
Letting out a small laugh, I shake my head and place my hand on his shoulder to signal him to stop his train of thought. “I know of my options, unfortunately with this ship still in the Delta Quadrant, copulating, let alone procreating is far from my mind.”
It was meant to be a joke, but when his brows furrow and his mouth gapes open in shock, he condemns, “Captain, are you to tell me that you have not participated in sexual activity since being placed in this godforsaken Quadrant?” At my stunned silence, he continues on, “How many times do I have to tell you that taking part in recreational exercise can be healthy to both mind and body. Just the stress levels alone would cut in half if you--”
Holding up my hand to stop him, my captains mask slips firmly over my face, “Your point is moot. I will not partake in such activity when there is work to be done. I have told you time and time again that my number one concern for this crew is to get this ship safely back to the Alpha Quadrant.”
Sagging his shoulders, he beseeches, “But Captain--”
Fixing him with my most menacing glare reserved for hardheaded subordinates, I interrupt, “No! I will not hear anymore of it.”
Rolling his eyes, he once again acquiesces, “Fine. Once you finish your water, I'll have Kes take you to the bathroom to help you get cleaned up.” Not waiting for my answer, he turns and marches to his office.
Taking a deep breath, I take a small sip of water as one of my hands makes its way to lay over my stomach.
“You know; you are the sexiest slug I had ever laid my eyes on.”
It has been a long few days, but I am able to visit Kathryn in Sickbay. I had been able to visit her before, but it was during the ship’s night time and she had been asleep.
However, with the return of Mr. Paris back on duty, I am able to leave the bridge at a decent time.
I hope I’ll be able to catch her before she returns to her quarters. I read from the Doctor’s report that she will be most likely discharged after a few more tests.
She took a longer time to recuperate than Paris, yet there was no rhyme or reason why. Every day since their return, I had combed through the doctor’s reports, but the only statement he gave was that he wanted to keep her under close observation. What's even more peculiar is that Kathryn actually agreed with the doctor’s statement.
Now, as I walk through the doors of Sickbay, a fresh sterile smell attacks my senses and I feel as if I should have taken a shower before stinking up the air around her. Yet, seeing her sitting on the biobed with her back to me as her legs dangle over the edge, all thoughts of a shower leaves my mind when I see that she is in her uniform and not in the blue hospital gown.
Standing in front of her and whispering something fierce to her, the Doctor catches sight of me and beams, “Oh, Commander, how nice of you to visit.” Waving me over, I can’t help but notice that he has a suspicious glint in his eyes, as if he has a trick up his sleeve.
Seeing Kathryn peering over her shoulder with a mischievous twinkle about her, I quickly dismiss my suspensions with the roll of my eyes. They do love to spar with each other.
Stepping up so that my hip leans against the end of the bed, I state the obvious, “You are being released from Sickbay.”
Crossing her arms along her chest, a look of pure mirth flicks along her features, “Apparently, I have overstayed my welcome.”
Closing his tricorder with a quick snap, the Doctor rolls his eyes, “You are healthy enough to be discharged with the recommendation of light duty for the next week.” Just as he glances at one of his monitors, he adds under his breath, “Like you’ll ever heed my advice.”
Looking back and forth between the two most stubborn people on board, I fill in the question that hangs heavy in the air, “However…?”
Crossing his arms tightly along his chest, the Doctor turns fully to me with the same glint that I saw earlier in his eyes and supplies, “However, the Captain will need to keep up with a healthy calisthenics regiment.”
“Doctor,” the edge in her voice matches the fury flashing in her eyes.
Wisely keeping my mouth shut, I let them silently duel it out together.
Throwing his hands in the air, he yells out, “Fine, stress yourself out to the point of bodily exhaustion, even though there is a certain someone who can help you by raising your endorphin levels.” Slipping past me, he continues his tirade all the way to his office, “But who am I? Just a doctor with every legitimate medical writing in his core processors. What the hell do I know?”
Pressing my lips together so as not to laugh out loud, I softly ask, “You willingly stayed in here knowing that he was going to be this way?”
Slinking off the bed and making her way towards her freedom, she murmurs under her breath, “No, that was just an added bonus.”
Once out into the safety of the corridor, I have a hard time keeping my laughter in check, “How lucky!” The remainder of our walk to the turbolift is a short one marked with a comfortable silence. When we step in, I curiously ask her, “What kind of exercise was he talking about?”
Rolling her eyes and flipping her wrist into the air, she nonchalantly quips, “The Doctor is imagining himself as another Emma Woodhouse, but more devious.” At my confusion, she leans in and conspiratorially whispers, “He wants me to have a mainstay booty call for the rest of our journey home.”
Laughing out loud again, I have to give the Doctor major props. That could not have been a comfortable topic and, with her particular dramatic glare, I can understand why he feels he has to shout from the rafters just to be heard. “He wants you to have sex just for the exercise.”
Mortification staining her cheeks red, she adds, “And apparently he has his eyes set on you to fulfill that duty.”
Oh, I can have fun with this! Putting on the dramatics myself, I tap my chest with the tip of my fingers and sarcastically ask with the flutter of my eyelashes, “Who, little ol’ me?”
Smacking my chest with the back of her hand, a bright smile that I haven't seen in ages dances along her lips. When the doors open to our deck, I follow her out just as she thoughtfully says, “You know, maybe I can create something in the holodeck.”
Letting the group of engineers pass us with ease, I wait until there is a great distance between our groups before I interject, “Nonsense, it wouldn't be as good as the real thing.”
Glancing over her shoulder and rewarding me with the biggest eye roll I have ever seen, she taps into the controls so that we both can walk into her quarters.
Waiting for the doors to close, I innocently sigh, “I guess it shall be I who will - how did the Doctor put it?” Snapping my fingers with a wink, I finish, “Oh, yes, help you raise your endorphin levels.” Raking my eye slowly along her body and enjoying the view while I’m at it, I huskily add, “You know; you are the sexiest slug I had ever laid my eyes on.”
“Ha. Ha.” Gently settling on her couch with a slight wince, the thought of her wellbeing comes rushing to the forefront of my mind.
Sitting next to her, I cover her hand with my palm and say, “Being serious, how are you doing?” Looking as if she is going to play my concern off with a weak ‘I'm fine’, I hotly add, “I just saw you wince, so obviously you're still in pain.”
Sighing a silent defeat, she covers my hand with her other and confesses, “I’m still a little sore, but nothing some rest and a hot bath won’t cure.”
Concern clouding my features, I ask without hesitancy, “Is there anything that I can do for you?” Sensing the tension vibrating from her chest, I lean in and seriously add, “Other than being your tramp?”
Letting out a small laugh that didn't reach her eyes, she shakes her head, “No, you don't need to do anything. I might tire quickly while on duty, but other than that, I should recover soon.” She gives me a weak smile, “There is no need to treat me any differently.”
Raising my eyebrow, I quip, “You sound like you’re a pro.”
Seeing her bottom lip quiver, a look of utter sadness passes though her features as she whispers, “More like a failure.”
A failure? A failure at what? Just as I am about to question her, she heaves a big sigh as she rests her body against my shoulder. Wrapping my arm around her, my curiosity dies along the tip of my tongue as I bring her closer to me. Taking comfort in the first act of closeness we have been able to have since finding about Seska being pregnant, I plan to take advantage of it for as long as I can.
I would categorize her smile as what humans call ‘warm’ although heat has nothing to do with the emotion of happiness.
Sounding the chime to the Captain’s quarters, a fresh wave of exhaustion comes over me. Though I would never show any such signs while on duty or allow others to notice such things, I look forward to the moment I can finally succumb to sleep. Yet, when the doors open, I will my body to show no weakness with a deep, calming breath.
Waiting at the threshold until I am admitted in, the Captain’s voice rings out from across the room, “Tuvok, what a surprise.” She gives me a genuine smile as she invites me to come in further.
Clasping my hands behind his back when I hear the door close behind me, I look over her once before stating, “I hope I am not disturbing you.”
“Please, sit down. You are not disturbing anything.” She gingerly sitting back on the couch and adds, “I finished reading your report. I have to say it was rather colorful coming from you.”
Forcing myself to sit up straight, I nod and evenly explain, “I knew that not even Mr. Paris’ colorful flare for theatrics could rightly justify what we had witnessed that night.” Once again looking over her, this time with a critical eye, I notice that she is still pale and favors sitting on a pillow that has slipped down. “I notice that you are looking better than when I last saw you, Captain.”
“The doctor says that I should be back to full duty in a week.” I would categorize her smile as what humans call ‘warm’ although heat has nothing to do with the emotion of happiness.
A memory, one that I typically reserve for when I am in my quarters meditating, comes to mind; T’Pel holding our son after giving birth. The small smile she only reserved for him was the same ‘warm’ smile I see emanating from the Captain. “From my own experience with my own children, that is sufficient time.”
She places her hand over her belly and nods with that same smile. “I am thankful to have given birth to two.”
Folding my hands into my lap, I take a deep breath before murmuring, “A feat that you had thought impossible with your last miscarriage.”
Noticing that now she is biting her lip to keep it from quivering, another memory comes to mind, one that I have not thought of in a long time. Not that I’m fearful of said memory – Vulcans never outwardly show fear – however this one is seeped in pain. So much so, that I had to contact T’Pel to talk me through my meditation that night.
I Knew she was pregnant, yet I wanted her to tell me on her own time.
And then it happened.
The pain she tried to keep silent, the sight of her in that hospital in her hometown, her squeezing my hand when the child came away, the lone tear down her cheek at her acknowledgement; I try my best with deep meditation to never venture down that memory more than I have to - twice since it happened.
After that night, I was reassigned to infiltrate the Maquis. I was never able to counsel her on what had happened other than the few sentences we spoke while I was waiting for her sister to come to sit with her.
“The Doctor has agreed to keep the previous miscarriages from my medical record.” Her confession comes in the form of a sob.
“Certainly not a wise choice on both parts.” She had told me that night that she had miscarried twice before that. Something that should have been noted in her records, but was glaringly missing when I went back to go check.
She continues with a flick of her wrist, “We had both come to an understanding.” Biting the inside of her mouth, she slowly adds, “The Doctor told me that the away team had found two embryos buried beneath the ground.” When she looks up towards the ceiling, that is when I see a few tears falling down her cheek. “That's five that I wasn't able to birth.”
Casting us into a ring of silence, I wonder what made her confess that painful secret. Now, with the emotional turmoil that surrounds her and her inability to carry a child to full term, the words I was so confident in counseling her with disappears from my mind – as if a great tidal wave washed it away.
Wiping away a stray tear with the back of her finger, she offhandedly says, “If there is anytime that you are unsure of the real me, ask me for my number. If I say anything other than five then you know an alien entity has taken over my body.” She smiles as if she meant for it to be funny, however I can see the truth of her distress in her eyes.
Noting her need to move on and for me to explain the real reason I have trespassed on her recovery time, I simply nod, “Noted. Perhaps, a wise precaution in this unknown quadrant.”
“Tell me,” her voice cracks with emotions, “is there anything new that I need to know about?”
Quirking my brow at both the quake in her voice and her intuition as to the news I carry, I state, “There is a rather pressing matter that I wanted to inform you with, however, it can wait until you are at maximum health.”
She waves me off and commands, “If it’s that urgent, then I insist you tell me now.”
“I believe there is a spy on our ship sending information to the Kazon.”
The moment it takes for her to process the information, anger, in its purest form, contorts her face and charges the room with discord. “With the common goal between the Maquis and the Starfleet crews to get home safely, I am finding it hard to believe that someone would willingly give in to a group of Neanderthals who possess no such technology to reach the Alpha Quadrant.” She takes a deep breath, “Tell me of your evidence.”
Unlike most humans, she does not rely on petty excuses to stop herself from effectively caring out her mission - a quality I find I respect. “I have been monitoring an unusual band of subspace frequency being transmitted through certain transmissions. I tracked it and was able to determine that its destination was the Kazon Nistrim ship.”
With her brow furrowing in disbelief, she says out loud to herself, “Surely it can't be a coincidence that that is the ship Seska is on.”
It surprises me to no end that humans still rely on coincidences and intuition to explain a mystery. “No, I do not believe that such evidence would qualify as an impervious random occurrence.”
Even though I try my best to separate myself from encroaching upon her thoughts and feelings, I cannot help but take in the tension of command creeping along the inside of her skull. Exhaustion is evident as she pinches the bridge of her nose, yet, she dutifully ignores all of the pain combating against her body and asks, “What is your plan, Mr. Tuvok?”
Feeling my own tension forming around my mouth, I once again review over my advisement. Although the permutations are quite adequate, this contingency heavily relies on two things to happen; Captain Janeway’s approval, and; Mr. Paris’ acting abilities. “I believe we should continue to let the spy think that we are not aware of him. Then, with the help of Mr. Paris, we can expose the spy as well as how specifically the Kazon is acquiring their information. By letting the crew know that he is also unhappy with his time spent on Voyager, Mr. Paris will want to disembark and leave. If the spy is as diligent as he or she has been, then the Kazon will want to kidnap and try to persuade Mr. Paris to join their ranks. There, he will be able to expose the culprit as well as diminish any other forms of spying the Kazon might use in the future.”
“And I am assuming that you have already consulted with Mr. Paris with this plan?”
“Yes, Captain. He was the one who first noticed the covert transmissions.”
Stiffly nodding her head and sighs, “Very well. Tell Mr. Paris that he has my authority to act as belligerent as he wishes to be.” She holds up her finger at my distaste at what Mr. Paris will come up with in his endeavor to create attrition between him and the crew, “However, when all is said and done, he will be expected to conduct himself accordingly.”
I nod in agreement, “Yes, Captain.”
Relaxing against the cushion, she adds with that same ‘warm’ smile from before. “I’ll inform and bring the Commander up to speed tomorrow morning when we both are on duty.”
“I do not think that is a wise choice.” Shifting in my seat at my own quick response, I instantly straighten my posture before explaining, “If we are to suspect the spy is a former Maquis officer, then I believe, if given the circumstance, Commander Chakotay would either knowingly or unknowingly tip off his former crew member.”
I can see the disagreement bubbling up to the surface of her feature. “Is there a reason for your distrust?”
I appreciate that she is willing to hear me out – another reason as to my respect for her and her position. “He is the former Maquis captain and has shown a human need to trust his former crew members over the good of the ship in the past.”
She shakes her head and vehemently replies, “No. He would never put this ship or crew in danger. Besides, if the spy is a former Maquis officer then Chakotay can help us pinpoint who he or she is.”
Feeling a sense of uneasiness blooming in my chest, I take a moment to suppresses it as I tell myself – not the first time – that what I am about to say is for the good and safety of this ship. “Captain, perhaps you are biased because of the strong relationship that I have sensed being formed between both you and Commander Chakotay.”
Taking her stunned silence as an acceptance to an allegation I had hoped would not be true, anger surges through me at her loss of logic. “Need I remind you that you are the Captain of this vessel for the next seventy years. You will need to remain objective to the people around you so that you can stay resilient against the sway he and others like him can use to gain the upper hand.”
Cold anger clouds her own logic as she passionately beseeches, “He would never--”
“Your strong, illogical romantic feelings are clouding your judgement, Captain.” Standing, I implore to her as if she is my own child, “On numerous occasions I have witnessed both of you staring at each other instead of focusing at the task at hand. And on two occasions, I have taken note that both of you have stayed in the same location in your respective quarters longer than necessary.”
Her anger mutates into disbelief and, for a moment, distrust flashes in her expressive eyes. “You were spying on us?” Her judgement in my actions creates a horrible taste of mistrust between us, something that has never happened before in our relationship.
Yet, I cannot let that impede my duty to both my Captain and this ship. Tipping my head to the side, I remind her, “It was you Captain who suggested that I keep tighter disclosures on the Maquis officers who work in sensitive areas. Curious how you thought I would not include the former Captain and leader of the Maquis ship we were sent after to capture and imprison.”
Her shoulders, normally burdened with such grief and tense with the weight of command, sags under pressure.
As much as I am disappointed in her misuse of logic, I still do not enot seeing her like this. She is my friend after all. “I understand your need to associate yourself with a male on board, however, in my opinion, choosing him to satisfy those needs would be highly illogical and dangerously naïve.”
Clasping my hands behind my back, I now wait for either the wrath of her fury at being spied upon during her personal time or her dismissal from her quarters. With both possible choices settling between us, I cannot help but notice that for all of my reasons to address her growing relationship with the Commander, I am fearful that I have lost an inch of respect in her eyes.
Then, within a matter of seconds, a memory, so powerful, breaks down the mental barrier I have carefully placed between myself and others – a sure sign of my own exhaustion. The image of her in this very room with her head lying on Commander Chakotay’s shoulder plays in my own mind. And when the Commander leans in and kisses the top of her head, a compelling feeling of contentment washes over me.
Yet, when she opens her eyes, a new resolve flashes along her eyes as the memory disappears within a cloud of smoke. “Talk to Mr. Paris. Dismissed.”
Taking her dismissal with a single bow, I quickly mark a path out of her quarters and straight on towards my own. With much meditation tonight, I will try to exercise both images of her ‘warm’ smile and her memory of being comforted by Commander Chakotay.
But, more importantly, I will need to expunge the overwhelming notion that her feelings for the Commander are more than just an association, but one steeped in an emotion far more dangerous than anything we will find out here.