Part 13

Kathryn Janeway was having breakfast in the mess hall. Something she felt much safer doing now that a certain chef was no longer in contact with the food. She watched Neelix run hurriedly around the wide room, trying desperately to not only staff the serving line, but take care of what seemed to be consecutive mishaps the dining area. Unfortunately, the mess hall was now clearly understaffed. She'd have to talk to Chakotay and decide who would be an adequate replacement. She wondered what exactly Tom Paris had done, besides poison the food, to make his absence so noticeable.

From Neelix's frantic efforts to handle what was obviously not his usual workload, the belligerent young man had to have done something productive. As her thoughts turned back to the lone residence of the Brig, she felt her fingers tighten around her fork. She forced herself to relax and continue eating normally.

The night she'd put Paris in the brig, she'd let the outrage take over. It was a perfectly normal reaction, but not one she should have let continue through the night. She'd been so busy hating Paris for his actions, being outraged that they could occur on her ship, she'd forgotten to do anything else. Janeway had spent the previous day calming herself down. She was still working on it. But she was ready to talk about it. She was ready to work it out as Captain and as Kathryn Janeway, both of whom had just been betrayed by Tom Paris.

That meant she needed to talk to Tuvok.

And there he was, coincidentally, having just entered the mess hall. He was standing in the long serving line, his impassive face a contrast to the impatient faces in front of him. Janeway pushed her empty plate aside. She made her way toward the line. She brushed by some former Maquis, who had joined the line behind him. As she passed, she could swear she heard someone mutter an emphatic "Bitch!" But when she looked back, the two former Maquis were still talking about the inadequate supply of replictor rations. She must have misheard, or the hungry former Maquis thought she was cutting in line. Once behind Tuvok, she called his attention.

"Mr. Tuvok."

He turned around.


"This appears to be going nowhere fast. Perhaps you would join me in my quarters for a conversation. My replicator rations."


They began to exit the line.

"About what do you wish to talk," inquired Tuvok.

"Tom Paris," she answered succinctly.

And it was definitely not her imagination that all conversation by the former Maquis ceased, and that there were a good many ears inclined towards her. Tuvok took notice, as well.

"It would be wise to begin this conversation in your quarters," he told her.


And we're going to talk about what the hell that was, too, she thought, hearing conversation slowly begin again.

As soon as they were gone, Jarvin turned sharply to Gerron.

"Go tell Chakotay," he ordered.

Gerron had sprinted from the mess hall before Jarvin finished saying the Commander's name.

Neelix, behind the stove, steadfastly pretended he hadn't heard a thing.

Janeway did not speak to Tuvok in the corridor or the Turbo Lift. Their silent, determined stride towards her quarters projected the message to clear out of the way. Samantha Wildman, walking towards them with her daughter, got the most awkward of expressions across her face. And when they passed, she grabbed Naomi's hand, increased her speed, and practically dragged her daughter towards the Turbo Lift.

"Mom!" Naomi whined, trying to keep up with her mother's longer legs.

Her mother didn't appear to have heard the complaint.

"This is not good," she muttered to herself.

And when Naomi whimpered again, Samantha picked her up. She clutched the child tightly in her arms.

"Not yet. Not yet. It can't happen now," Samantha repeated to herself.

Naomi had no idea what her mother was talking about, but she didn't like the tone to her voice.

In the Captain's quarters, Janeway paced. Tuvok sat and watched her intense emotions fly over her face.

"You wished to speak about Tom Paris," he prompted.

"I did. Now I want to talk about what just happened in the mess hall."

She stopped moving.

"I want to know what that was."

Part 14 | Index page