|No More Lies
It's another beautiful day. The sun is warm, and as we traverse this peaceful stretch of river, the gentle rocking motion of our small boat is soothing. I've been lying down, watching Chakotay take his turn at rowing, but now I sit up and stretch, then look around, taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds us as we near our home.
The glistening water we've navigated for the past four days flows unceasingly towards the vast ocean on the other side of the blue-hued mountains that lie in the distance, a few miles beyond our cabin. There's a wealth of diverse fauna here; from tiny silver fish that occasionally leap across our bows, to large elk-like creatures that graze on the grass-covered banks, unconcerned by our presence.
I look up, watching a flock of birds wheel across the sky as they test their agility with incredible feats of aerial acrobatics, singing their joy as they push themselves to the limit, the way I used to push myself at the helm of Voyager. I understand their elation, and the feeling of total freedom that flying brings.
There's not much I miss about my former life, but, occasionally, I still dream of piloting the great ship through unknown regions of space, evading hostile aliens with skill and imagination born of passion. Perhaps that sounds arrogant but, to my way of thinking, you can never succeed at something unless you truly love it. I loved flying, and I know I was good at it. But, despite the fact that I know I will never fly again, I'm not unhappy. I have other things to occupy me now.
I'm not quite sure how long we've been here, not in terms of Earth-time anyway. We did keep a record at the beginning, translating the shorter days into Earth's equivalent, but we gave up a while ago. What was the point of continuing with it? We know we're never going to leave here, so why waste time on something irrelevant? Instead, we've focused our attention on our everyday existence, and seeking out every scrap of enjoyment that we can. And mostly, the two goals have coincided.
It's very satisfying to construct things for your own personal use; taking something that at first glance would appear to be useless, then converting it into something useful. I'd never experienced that kind of thrill before. I often think I get more enjoyment from making things than Chakotay does.
Actually, we both love to be creative, but we have different areas of interest. While I take pleasure from adding to our stock of 'luxury' items, such as mats woven from reeds that grow in the nearby lake, or cushions made from some of our old, and now tatty, blankets stuffed with a cotton-like fibre from one of the native plants, Chakotay gains enjoyment from constructing larger things.
Although I consider the cabins to be our most ambitious, and, to me, the most satisfying projects to date, I don't think Chakotay would agree. He and Greg built what they both refer to as 'the boathouse', but what *I* would call a glorified shed. Whatever name it goes by though, it's pretty clear that Chakotay had a great time making it, and that he's quite proud of their achievement. Especially as they'd secretly built this boat we're in as well, that came as a real, and very welcome, surprise. It's broadened our horizons considerably.
Before the boat, it was difficult to transport bulky items from place to place. If we found a toppled tree for example, it would sometimes take us days to haul it home, where we could make use of it. Now, with the aid of the boat, we can tow it downstream. It's made life a lot easier, and also more enjoyable.
The boat enables us to get away on our own for short periods, and allows us to travel further than we were able to do before, in the same amount of time. I know Ayala and Gerron appreciate the freedom it offers, too, as they often go off for days on end, usually travelling in the opposite direction to Chakotay and me, mapping out the land further downstream. From our combined explorations, we've gained a pretty detailed knowledge of a fairly long stretch of this river.
We also know each other very well now, too. All four of us. Not surprising really, I know, considering we're the only Alpha Quadrant derived inhabitants of this planet. But what *is* surprising, well, to me anyway, is how well we all get along. Although there have been occasions when we've had different opinions, we've never found anything that we couldn't work out through discussion. There's never been any animosity between us over anything. It's been wonderful, and I'm sure, given that we all want to see this spirit of co-operation grow even further, that it'll continue this way.
The most important thing though, and the one thing that's grown the most, is my relationship with Chakotay. Although he's basically still the same man he was on Voyager, at the same time, he isn't. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it's true. Chakotay still lives his life according to his own high ideals, but he's far more relaxed here, more himself, and our relationship has benefited from that fact.
I always loved him, long before we left Voyager, but now, it seems to have gone beyond that. I honestly couldn't ever imagine life without him, and I know he feels the same way about me. God knows what will happen if one of us dies before the other. I know I wouldn't survive his death; I wouldn't want to. It's probably the only real worry I have; watching him die, being left alone; I try not to think of it too often. I don't want to be lonely again.
That's what it was like on Voyager, before I asked Chakotay to meet me in the observation lounge. I always felt as though a part of me was missing, that I wasn't complete. That changed the moment he entered the room. He was so nervous, as nervous as I was, but as I smiled at him we both relaxed, knowing immediately that we wanted the same thing - namely, each other. It was such a relief to finally confess our feelings that the thought of being charged never worried us. We knew what our love would cost, but we were willing to pay the price. And, as I look at him now, sitting in front of me, his face radiating contentment, I'm thankful that we're together, even though it meant leaving Voyager, and our friends.
Ayala and Gerron are convinced they made the right choice, too, but I often wonder about Davies and Lorat, the two young officers who were forced to leave the ship several months before we did. I wonder if they're still together, and as happy as the four of us are. I hope so. Although, I still have difficulty accepting the reason why they were brought to trial, that someone had a problem with them holding hands. I'll never understand Starfleet's crazy regulations, or Janeway's zeal in enforcing them; they're both beyond my comprehension and I don't like to dwell on either one. Instead, I think I'll occupy myself by engaging in my favourite hobby: watching Chakotay.
Actually, I'm not joking, I really *do* love to watch him. He's an interesting study. I love the way he concentrates so fully on everything he does that he sometimes seems to disappear into his own little world. He's doing it now, staring off into the distance as he rows us towards home, almost as though he's on autopilot. I wonder where he is? What he's thinking?
My musings are interrupted as we round the final bend and come within sight of our cabin. Chakotay notices my perplexed look and turns around to follow my gaze. I know it's impossible, that I must be imagining things, but there seems to be too many people waiting for us at the water's edge. I can make out the forms of Ayala and Gerron, but who are the other two? And what do they want?
I rub my eyes, trying to ensure that what I'm seeing is real, and that's when I finally realise the identity of one person in the group. I shake my head in disbelief, unable to make sense of what I can see. Chakotay's arm encircles me and pulls me close as I stare in shock at the man on the river bank. Just how the hell did Harry Kim get here?
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