|Primary Characters:||Gerron, Chakotay, B’Elanna Torres|
|Warning:||Adult themes, violence, non-con, m/m|
|Description:||Gerron has a traumatic past, like many Bajorans. Though he’s come a long way, the past is just a breath away. Once, Gerron came close to joining the Prophets – on the wind. In another culture that is called Kamikaze.|
Gerron knew there was something wrong even when he woke up. Last night, the healers had given him some strong soporific herbs to ensure he had a mercifully dreamless sleep. His head still felt heavy, but somehow, he could sense something not being right.
When he glanced around their little space on the wooden floor, he knew what it was. The memories came flooding back. Old Rhiye, who was so old she merely had to do the dishes in the communal dining hall pulled aside the old sheet they used as a makeshift separator and painfully kneeled beside him.
“There. If you like, I’ll tell them you’re not well. They’ll let you sleep in this once.”
Remembering what they’d done to his friend Tharen, he shook his head. Besides, staying in, even if it had been safe, wouldn’t bring his mother back.
Rhiye nodded. The boy was strong. He’d survive, despite the tragedy that had befallen his mother. She had known all along that he’d have to go out there, into the burning sun and clear away the weeds and dig up rocks so the ploughs could get through. It had just seemed too cruel to let the poor child toil out there with the others, after what had happened.
She decided to try and hide a little food to give him in the evening, when it became too dark to work. The risk of punishment usually held her back, but just this once, she’d take the chance.
“You’re a good boy, Gerron. The others have already left to have breakfast. You’d better hurry up or you’ll have to do without.”
He nodded, without really listening. Normally, he’d be too hungry to even think of risking a whole day in the burning sun without more than a few sips of water. Today, he just couldn’t work up the energy to care. His mother – his beloved mother who had secretly taught him to read and to recite the holy scriptures – was gone. And that unspeakable Cardie who had – The grief and the anger made him choke. But as he knew far too well, there was nothing he could do, except continue as he had, from as far back as he could remember.
Rhiye had been right. There was almost no time left to have the small pieces of grey, dry bread and the seeds that went with it. Someone pressed the bread into his hand as he passed on his way out to the fields. By the door, he snatched a few seconds he really didn’t have, to sip a few drops of water from the barrel that was standing there to catch what little rain that fell during the hot season.
Three minutes later, he was wielding the pick on the unyielding soil, in his mind’s eye smashing it down on Demar’s head, again and again. When drops of sweat fell on his hands, he imagined it was black Cardie blood.
By noon, they had a short break to retreat into the scarce shade cast by the shrubbery by the side of the fields. As he was standing there, two guards walked by. Everyone tensed up. Inspections usually turned up at least one ‘shirker’, who would be made to stand in the sun until nightfall, as punishment. Not a few of those died, or were so dehydrated it took them days to recover.
The guards seemed to be looking for someone in particular. They stared searchingly at each Bajoran face. Gerron’s cheeks darkened. If he was any braver, like the Maquis, who were rumored to attack the Cardies from hiding places here and there, throughout the system, he’d confront them. Make them kill him. At least then, all the hard work and the fear would be over.
They caught sight of him and nodded to each other. Despite his earlier bravado, Gerron felt chilled. Something was wrong. He’d been right.
A few minutes later, when they were all returning to the fields, the guards returned, this time bringing Demar. Gerron’s eyes burned hotly. It was that filthy infidel who had –
“You. Gerron. Kayla’s brat. Come here.”
He wished he’d had the guts to stay, and make them come and drag him away, but you didn’t mess with Cardies, not unless you had a death wish. Again, he hesitated, but knew he wouldn’t dare to resist. So he walked over to them, feeling as if he was a whyrre bird, about to be sacrificed in the temple.
Demar looked him over, then suddenly gripped his chin and tilted his face up for inspection.
“Yes. Just as I thought. Very nice. I can see the resemblance. Alright. Bring him along.”
The guards grabbed his arms and began to drag him along towards the main building up on the hill. Demar turned and stared at them in dismay.
“Not so roughly. Don’t mar his skin.”
One of the guards looked as if he too, was afraid of Demar, which he probably was, with good reason. So was the other one, Gerron was willing to bet, he was just better at hiding it.
They loosened their grip on his arms and merely shoved him a bit if he lagged behind. Uneasily, Gerron wondered why Demar cared so much about his skin. There could really only be one reason.
His mind began to race. If he was able to break free, they might fire at him and kill him, but no, they’d be too scared to cross Demar. He’d have to find a well or a higher building or – a body of water. Somewhere he could end his life, rather than –
The Prophets taught you that if you took your own life, you’d be suffering untold agonies in the afterlife, but Gerron didn’t have the strength to worry about the afterlife. He had enough agonies right here.
At the main building, he was locked into a small, windowless room, which was empty. There was nothing he could do to kill himself and no way to escape.
He was left there for more than an hour, but after that, Demar came alone to pick him up. The Cardie led Gerron towards a small craft. So Demar was taking him to his own home, a few miles away. Where his mother –
As if the Cardie had read his mind, he studied Gerron’s face unnervingly close, then his face was split by a hungry grin.
“You are just as pretty as she was. I was sorry to see her go. It was unfortunate that I had too much to drink and by the time I woke up, it was too late. I would have liked to keep her much longer. But you will do nicely.”
Again, he was shoved into a small space, without anything to even sit on. It must have been the small cargo hold. From there, as he’d guessed, Demar took him to his own home, a far grander building than any the refugees ever saw, or wanted to see.
When they got there, Demar called for a servant, an elderly Bajoran, with haunted eyes. She looked half-mad with fear.
“Show the boy to Kayla’s old room. You changed the sheets? I don’t want him to get blood all over him. Give him water so he can clean himself. I want to see him in my sleeping quarters within the hour. Send in food and drink for me and give the boy something right now.”
Demar didn’t bother to repeat himself or look back. Gerron glanced around, hoping to find a way out, or at least some means of escape. But everything would be coded. He could no more break free than his mother had been able to.
Resignedly, he let the old woman take his old rags, wash him and give him a little food. She laid out simple clothes, but at least they were clean and whole. If only he hadn’t known what was in store for him for later.
On his way into Demar’s room, he found a Cardassian healer standing by. By now, he’d learned to read the markings on their uniforms. Demar must have been extremely high ranked to be allowed to keep a personal healer on standby, to patch up his Bajoran playthings after he was through with them for the time being. After all, there were plenty of Bajorans around. On the other hand, they were needed for the food production.
He walked in, feeling terrified but somehow numb. Demar was sitting comfortably in an upholstered chair. There was no other furniture, except for a bed and a small table.
“There you are. As you can see, I have not left anything to chance. The healer is under orders to deal with you as soon as I’m done with you. What are you waiting for, boy? On the floor.”
Demar, indicated the floor at his feet. Gerron dropped down, obediently, too scared to keep Demar waiting.
For the time being, Demar kept ignoring him. He was eating and drinking, and from time to time he glanced at a padd. This seemed to be annoying him, and with an irritated noise he tossed it carelessly aside.
Gerron looked up, eyes wide, limbs turned to stone. Even if he got to live long, he would never forget that moment, right before it began. The whole night was indelibly imprinted on his mind.
Towards morning, Demar began to doze off.
When Demar showed no indication of moving or speaking again, Gerron took this as permission to crawl out to the waiting healer. Though he hated the thought of another Cardie’s hands on him, the pain was too great to bear, and somehow, he didn’t want to die like his mother had. His insides felt as if they were on fire, a little like when he caught the runs from the unappetizing prisoner food, only far, far worse.
The healer was about to doze off himself and was none-too-pleased to be forced to patch up a Bajoran concubine, but he, too, like the guards, was too much in awe of Demar to shirk his duties. Though he was far from gentle, his ministrations soon made the pain go away, leaving a numbness in its place.
Gerron gratefully accepted that and on shaking legs, retraced his steps to his room, his mother’s old room, where she had died only two nights ago. The thought of sleeping in a dead person’s bed had long since ceased to bother him. By now, any bed was better than the hard floor. But this had been his mother. Now that he was alone again, he couldn’t keep his tears from falling. His eyes stung and he curled up on the bed, burying his face in the bedding.
On some days, Demar left his home to work elsewhere on the small moon. One such day, a stranger showed up on the grounds. She claimed to be bringing supplies, but Gerron already knew the regular delivery people and knew this one was new. He was surprised this one dared to show up at Demar’s place. She was far too pretty to have been left in peace, but her manners were unlike both the ordinary prisoners and the courtesans. Her eyes held a glint of steel and her posture spoke of confidence almost as great as Demar’s.
It struck Gerron that she had known in advance that Demar was going to be away. Was it possible that this was a member of the Maquis? Had they been lying in wait, keeping watch over Demar’s property? Despite the lethargy that had stolen over him, after that first night with Demar, this idea couldn’t fail to excite Gerron. What if they were planning an attack on Demar? Even if it meant that he, Gerron, too, would die, it would be worth it. He’d long since stopped praying to the Prophets, but if that was the beautiful woman’s plan, he’d pray for its successful conclusion.
“Hey. Are you allowed to walk around the perimeter?”
Gerron thought about it. He’d never been told to stay inside the house when Demar wasn’t there. His own people usually accompanied him. The house was too well protected for anyone to be able to escape.
The woman was staring around, impatiently.
He was wondering what she wanted. It never crossed his mind that she was there to offer him her services. That would have been too ridiculous for words. A Bajoran allowed access to a courtesan? Not that this woman could be one of them. In any case, only collaborators were in a position to enjoy the services of the courtesans.
“Come on then.”
She took him to a small grove in the eastern corner of Demar’s property. It provided some shading, and might just protect them from being seen from the house, if Demar should return unexpectedly. Not that Gerron wouldn’t be in trouble anyway, if that happened. He was required to always be on call, to satisfy Demar’s every need.
Gerron squirmed uncomfortably under her merciless gaze. She’d come to seek him out especially. What was wrong? He’d already lost his mother and girlfriend and he couldn’t even remember his father.
“And you’re Demar’s newest acquisition.”
He lowered his gaze in reply. Bajorans were taught to never openely acknowledge their special functions in times of need. War could qualify as a time of great need. Thus it was permitted to debase oneseif this way, but one should never talk about it or even think about it, beyond necessity.
“Would you like to avenge what he did to your mother? What he’s doing to you?”
His eyes widened and he felt himself fill up with exultant joy. It was true. They had come to finish that unclean infidel’s life, and, better still, they had chosen him as their tool.
“There’s nothing I’d like better.”
“Good. It won’t be anything difficult. We’ll send you some explosives that you can hide in your earring or under your clothes. They will be too small to show and Demar won’t notice it. When you are close to him – in physical contact – you just set the explosives off. I will show you how. Then – the Prophets will welcome you. Are you prepared to earn eternal bliss in the afterlife?”
“That’s good. You are a good boy, just like they told me.”
Again, Gerron lowered his gaze. Accepting praise with too much pride was another thing you were taught not to do.
“The next time Demar is away, I will return and give you the explosives. Be ready. Keep your eyes open. If you find out anything that might be of use to us, you can tell me when I come back. Is there anything you can tell me right now?”
Gerron thought about it, but couldn’t think of anything. Demar rarely spoke directly to him and not that much in his presence.
“May the Prophets be with you.”
She leaned over and kissed him on both cheeks in the traditional greeting. He was too shy to return the kiss. In any case he was considered too young to engage in any physical contact with anyone other than his own family, unless the older person initiated the contact.
On the day she’d promised, the woman returned, bringing the explosives. Again, Gerron had to admit that he didn’t have any useful information. He felt revential and filled with gratitude at this chance to be able to strike back against Demar.
After she’d handed over the explosives, the woman who hadn’t introduced herself asked him if he’d lain with a woman. The question startled him. He hadn’t believed her interested enough in him to even wonder.
Despite having had a girlfriend for nearly a year, Gerron had to confess that he had never passed the rites of adulthood, except with Demar, which was different. He’d been assured, even when his mother was in Demar’s possession, that that didn’t count.
“The Prophets have special rewards prepared for young people like you, who haven’t passed the rites of adulthood, but – I thought you might not want to go to the Celestial Temple without sampling what’s ahead of you.”
He blushed. This was too – too great an honor and too – overwhelming. He was about to meet the Prophets, to die an honorable death, and this brave Maquis warrior was prepared to offer him that gift? But he was too shy to reply and in any case, the woman didn’t seem to expect one.
She began to casually and coolly remove her own garments, then proceeded to do the same with his.
Afterwards, Gerron felt dizzy with pride. On his way back to Demar’s house, he clutched the tiny device in one hand. In the privacy of his own room, he worked it into the earring and glanced at himself in the tiny mirror that was all he had left of his mother. It had been in the room when he got there. Nothing unusual showed. It was time.
He sat on the floor, cross-legged, and meditated and after some hesitation, prayed. When he felt raady, he merely sat waiting. For some reason, Demar took his time today. When the grumbling in his stomachs made Gerron realize it was very late, he ventured outside to take a look at the sky. So late. Where was Demar?
Suddenly, there was a noise from the south and Gerron stared in the direction Demar had left. Was this his enemy returning? But it was several people running, as if away from something. Now he could see that the sky was on fire. They were under some other type of attack.
He ran towards the invisible fence and listened to what the people were saying. They were terrified and kept screaming that the Enemy was attacking.
It took Gerron a while to realize that he’d only imagined the capital letter. The enemy was attacking, the Cardies’ enemy, not his people’s. But the Bajorans were just as scared as the few civilian Cardies he saw. Someone had brought a device that could close down the fence. He saw energy lines crackling in the air and the almost imperceptible hum from the underground generators stopped.
Some foolhardy ones ran up to the house to plunder it, but Gerron never looked back. He kept running with the others. Once the Cardies got their defences together, all runaways would be hunted down and killed. Some would be made an example of. He didn’t want to be one of them. It was a while until he realized his grand moment was lost.
At the moment, he couldn’t focus on that. He just ran as fast as his legs would carry him. A few miles up the track, there were a few scattered buildings. He thought they might belong to some civilian Cardies who were traders. The nearest building was already behind him, when someone caught him and held him pressed back against his body. It was someone that couldn’t be a Cardie, but what species it was, Gerron couldn’t tell. All he knew was that it was a male and that the man was strong.
“Maquis. Be quiet. I’ll get you out of here if you follow me.”
Gerron didn’t even hesitate. Anything was better than staying and waiting to be punished by the Cardies. Even if it was some kind of trap, he’d take his chances.
The man kept pushing him ahead, until they came to a small wooded area by a hill slightly higher than most on this moon. Gerron hadn’t seen this one before, but it was the same all over the surface. The man must have triggered some kind of mechanism, because suddenly a small spaceship appeared. It must have been cloaked.
“Get in. Just sit where you can. B’Elanna – now. We can’t wait any longer. Take us through some evasive manoeuver. Just get us up.”
The ship gave a slight lurch, giving Gerron the impression that it was old or damaged or both. He sank down where he was, but the man who had brought him put his hand on his shoulder.
“Not here. Over there. There are some crates you can sit on. Are you ok?”
For the first time, Gerron looked into the man’s face. He had a sort of pattern painted or tattoed on his skin. It looked too artificial to be natural. Gerron thought he knew what species he was. Terran. He’d seen one once, a prisoner that had been brought to their moon for questioning. This man looked proud, but friendly.
“I’m Chakotay. And you’re – Gerron, right? Thera told me she’d given you the explosives today. I was waiting around to see if I could catch you before we had to take off. By the way, could I have those explosives back? Just in case.”
He held out his hand for them and Gerron pulled out his earring and began to fiddle with it to remove the tiny device. Once he’d worked it free, he dropped into Chakotay’s hand. Odd name, but maybe the Terran thought the same about his name.
“Thanks. You look ok, so I’m assuming no one got to you.”
“No, I’m ok.”
There were others in the ship and Gerron now noticed how one of them was scowling at him. It was a young man only five or so years older than he was.
“You shouldn’t have risked it, Chakotay. You’re too valuable to waste on such a foolish stunt. The boy could take his chances along with all the other glitters.”
“I don’t want you to use that word. Gerron’s a Bajoran just like you. It’s only luck that kept you out of the camps. Besides, he’s one of us now, so no name-calling, ok?”
“It’s a disgrace. I’m sure he was lining up, fighting the other grubby little beggars to be allowed to live a life of luxury with one of their leaders.”
“Thar. Be quiet. He’s brave. If the attack hadn’t come today he would have died with Demar. So keep your comments to yourself.”
There was something in Chakotay’s tone that made Thar press his lips together but Gerron saw the look in the young man’s eyes. He looked upon glitters as little more than offal. Where did this Bajoran come from, to have such an unfaithful opinion? The only possibility that occurred to Gerron was that this was an upper class Bajoran from some colony not involved in the war. But then why had he joined the Maquis? Gerron let the thought go. He was hoping he’d never see the young man again.
The pilot’s voice reached them from such a short distance, Gerron knew this was a very small ship.
“Chakotay? What does that mean? Glitter? Is it the same as Pat’ak?”
“No. It’s a derogatory term for -“
The man glanced apologetically at Gerron, then explained to the female pilot, sounding gentle and sympathetic.
“For a prostitute.”
“That’s gratitude for you. No honor among the faithful, huh?”
“B’Elanna. We’re all Maquis. Don’t make fun of their beliefs. If someone questioned yours -“
“What beliefs? I just believe in freedom and having a good time. You guys can keep your religions. Look where it’s getting you. You won’t catch me yelling ‘Today is a good day to die’. Though come to think of it, it might be appropriate. On the other hand, my motto would be ‘Today is a good day to live to fight another day.’ Cheer up, kid. We’ll show you a great time. Never a dull moment with the Maquis.”
Gerron immediately liked the unseen female pilot. But suddenly, the ship began to buck and shake, and he thought they’d been hit.
“Damn. Debris. That moon is – hold on. I’ll make a detour to avoid the worst. I wish Kri hadn’t been killed. I’m just an engineer. You fly this thing, Chakotay. I’m sure you have the training for it.”
There was a look of dismay on Chakotay’s face, as if he didn’t like the pilot – or engineer, who was playing the role of pilot today – to reveal some secret of his.
“I’m coming. Remember what I said, Thar. Leave the kid alone.”
After one last glance filled with contempt, the young Bajoran looked away from Gerron.
Later that day, they told him that almost no one survived the enemy attack. All his friends from the camps had been wiped out that day. Only luck and Chakotay’s kindness had saved him.
Someone was shaking him. No. It was over. Demar wasn’t here. No. With a terrifying scream Gerron woke up, bathing in sweat, staring wild-eyed at his surroundings. The hand on his shoulder wasn’t scaly or black. It was white and soft. His breathing and heartbeat slowly returned to normal.
“What’s wrong, sweetie? A bad dream?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. Did I wake Naomi?”
“Probably, but she’ll go back to sleep. I’ll go and have a look, just in case. Will you be ok for just a minute?”
Gerron felt ashamed of himself. He hated to draw attention to his background. Samantha couldn’t understand, and that was just as well. He didn’t want her to. When he’d been forced to explain about his past, he’d half-feared she’d turn away from him. But she’d been as loving and gentle as ever.
Samantha returned, still looking anxious.
“It’s ok. She went back to sleep, after I gave her a glass of water.”
“Good. I’m really sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. Would you like to talk about it?”
“No. It’s nothing. Can we just go back to sleep?”
Again, Samantha subjected him to a worried stare, but in the end, she nodded.
“Sure. Want me to change the -“
She indicated the bedding.
“It’s ok. Let’s just sleep.”
Over the next few days, Samantha kept watching her lover with concern. Ever since they’d encountered the planet which had provided them with their new warp drive, Gerron had been acting strangely. He looked upset and as if he was constantly brooding over something.
Samantha had been shocked when she’d learned that he’d been a child prostitute before they met. Before he’d become a Maquis. That was all he’d been prepared to tell her. Just that he’d been serving Demar and that the Maquis had recruited him to blow the Cardassian up in a suicide mission.
In the end, Samantha was so concerned about Gerron’s return to the broody, quiet boy he’d been at the start of their journey, that she decided to speak to B’Elanna, who had been with him in the Maquis group.
She caught B’Elanna just as she was about to join Harry and the children on the HoloDeck. The half-Klingon girl didn’t look too impatient and Samantha hurriedly told her about what had caused her concern.
B’Elanna frowned, then nodded.
“I see. Well, it was a bad situation. He saw many people get killed. You know about his time with Demar?”
“Yes, well, that must have been beyond comprehension. The cruelty of those damned Cardies are unbelievable. Not that they treat their own kids much better. Don’t get me started. You know what? Maybe Chakotay could talk to him. He always had a good connection with Gerron. As our group leader – you know. Anyway, he was sort of like a father figure to Gerron, so maybe he can help. Listen, I’m late. If you’d like, you and Naomi and Gerron can join us. We’ve created a fun program for the kids. Even if Naomi is much older, she should enjoy it too. I know I do and definitely Harry. That way we could talk about our plans.”
“Right. But we can’t. Gerron and I have to go to work. Our shifts begin in – oh, dear – five minutes. I have to go. We’ll talk later. If you’d ask Chakotay, I’d be grateful.”
“Ok. See you later.”
When she told Chakotay what the problem was, he looked grave. Checking to see that they were alone, he began to speak to B’Elanna.
“You know what must have brought this on, don’t you?”
“Tom’s situation? Yes, that’s what I thought. Not everyone knows, so I didn’t tell Samantha about that, but if Gerron knows, she’ll know too.”
“Yes. I’ll talk to him, but as you know, he was never able to open up about that. He might not appreciate my interference anyway.”
“I know. I just thought – if Samantha can’t comfort him, I can’t either. Me less than anyone, I should think. He’ll just be thinking broken bones when he sees me.”
“I’m sure that’s not true.”
“Maybe not, but you and I just remind him of the past. Still, he was always close to you. Try. It’s worth a shot anyway.”
Chakotay walked slowly back to his place on the Bridge. He should have known that business with Tom would bring back memories for Gerron. If only there would be something he could do to help the boy feel better.
He checked Gerron’s schedule and decided to send for him after his shift had ended. His quarters would be best, since Gerron’s was now shared with Samantha and Naomi. At least Chakotay himself still had his own, since Kathryn didn’t want to draw attention to their relationship.
When Gerron entered, he looked dour, as if he was afraid he’d be in for some kind of punishment. Or – the thought unnerved Chakotay – the boy still didn’t like to enter a man’s quarters on his own, even if it had been almost ten years since he left Demar.
“Hello. Why don’t you sit down?”
Gerron lowered himself onto the edge of the seat Chakotay indicated, but looked as if he was about to take off at the slightest sign of trouble. Chakotay reminded himself to act in a non-threatening way.
“Would you like to have something from the replicator? A drink? A snack?”
“What I’d like is to get back to my girlfriend and our child. Is anything wrong?”
“No. At least not that I know of. If there is anything bothering you, maybe you’d like to tell me about it?”
“Nothing’s wrong. Can I go now?”
Chakotay sighed. He had a feeling this might be like having a teenage child. Not that Gerron was still in his teens. He had to be – Chakotay did a quick calculation. 22. Or was it 23? In any case, grown up.
“Gerron. I know what happened to Tom Paris might remind you of – the past, but – try not to dwell on it. There was nothing you could have done.”
“I know. It’s something I really don’t like to talk about. So can I go now?”
“I’m sorry, but if your preoccupation might affect your work performance, I’ll have to do something. But that’s not why I sent for you. I was hoping I could make you – feel better about all that. If you want to talk about it -“
“I said no. I’m not doing anything wrong. Just let me get back to my girlfriend.”
“In a minute. Gerron, I don’t want to order you, but if you see the EMH, in his capacity as a pscychiatrist – you might feel better.”
“Yes. I see. I’ll think about it. Now can I go?”
“Gerron, you are a valuable member of this crew. You were a valuable member of the Maquis. I’m hoping you can see me as a friend, not just your commanding officer.”
Gerron seemed to make a considerable effort and it looked as if he relaxed a little.
“Yes. Thanks. I haven’t forgotten that you saved my life that day. Risked your own to get me out. Others wouldn’t have done that. I know – there were others who would have preferred to see me die with the rest of us.”
“Yes, but that was rare. An isolated case. You know all other Bajorans were understanding of your situation. The situation all of you were in.”
“Except for a few fortunate ones.”
“I know. Thar – despite the fact that he was much older than you, he was more immature. He couldn’t have had any idea of what -“
“No. But in a way, he was right. I could have killed myself. At some point, I had the chance to -“
“No one expected that of you. Another thing, I never told you before, but I was against that suicide mission. I might have agreed to use you as a spy, but never that. You were just a child.”
Gerron drew himself up.
“Not anymore. I would have been proud to do my duty to my people and to the Prophets.”
“No one is questioning your courage, but in my beliefs there is no honor in throwing one’s life away. I believe we can do more good alive, than dead.”
“I don’t have any beliefs, so it doesn’t matter to me. But I would have been glad to help.”
“I know. Please go and see the EMH. I won’t order you, but I might give you some time off to – in fact, I could give Samantha time off too.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’ll perform my duties.”
“Ok. Good. Well, go on, then. I’m sure Samantha is waiting for you.”
“Thanks. And – I appreciate your concern.”
After the doors had closed behind the boy, Chakotay let his mind drift back to that day. At least he’d been able to get that one out safely. He only wished he could have saved them all.