A Perfect Moment - Part 3

Neelix

I've always thought that the Earth was a pretty planet. Not like Talax of course, but there aren't many places like Talax. The last time we were here, I remember saying to Kes that it certainly was a fine looking Planet and that I'd like to go down and take a look around. Kes, I wish she were here - she'd appreciate this moment, what it means to the crew. I'm sure wherever she is, whatever she is, a little piece of here is here, with us. What was I saying? Oh yes - last time I couldn't go down to the surface - because we weren't in the right century, but now I'll be able to. I'll be the first Talaxian on Earth. Just think of that.

I wonder if I'll be able to propagate leola root? Hmm I must find out.

Everyone's lost for words, I don't blame them at all, but I don't think I've ever heard the Bridge so silent. I did think that this might be the moment when my old friend Tuvok would crack a smile, but look at him, nothing. It's such a disappointment. Just between you and I, I've been trying to cheer him up for years. He takes things so seriously, it can't be good for him. I think it's his age.

Captain Janeway has her back to me, so I can't see her face. I wish I could, I'd like to see her expression now that she's achieved her goal. I don't suppose she'll relax right away, that wouldn't be like her, she'll want to sort out everything, make sure everyone is going to be safe, keep the Maquis out of prison, sort out what Starfleet will do about Seven and the Doctor, explain about me. She might spare herself a thought, but probably not much more than that until she's satisfied that she's done all she can. I wonder how she's going to manage, just being a Captain, not having to make every decision herself? I wonder if she'll even like it? I like to think that I've helped her, in some small way, helped the crew, contributed something useful. If it weren't for Voyager I'd still be in the Delta Quadrant, sorting through space junk and hiding from the Kazon.

The Commander's right behind her, looking at the earth over her shoulder; he's not quite so absorbed though, taking a quick look around the Bridge, just to make sure he takes in all those awe struck expressions. His observation skills have helped him keep his finger of the pace of the crew and it's moods. He's almost a good a judge as I am.

I wonder if he's worried about what will happen now? If he's thinking that the Voyager family will be broken up and the Maquis could end up in gaol. It's odd to think of them that way after so long. Not that we've ever forgotten that they were Maquis, it's just that we haven't thought of it as a problem or an issue for so long now. It's just a part of who they are. Is Chakotay glad to be back, or is he thinking that he'll be worse off somehow? I don't know if he has any family on Dorvan or on Earth, I don't know if he knows even. Is he thinking about the Captain?

Some of the crew have been making plans, talking about home and their families. Others have been more cautious, saying they don't want to tempt fate. But I wonder what the future has in store for all of us. I wonder about Samantha and Naomi, whether I'm going to loose touch with my Goddaughter. Samantha says not; that she and Naomi will never forget me, but I can't help thinking that when Naomi meets her father and all her K'tarian relations she might not need me anymore.

But we mustn't be downhearted; this is a moment of celebration. Oh my, I wonder if Starfleet would let me help organise the welcome home party?

When Harry announces that there's a message, it feels as though we've passed the final test, that this is the real thing. As the Captain tells Harry to put the message on the viewscreen I see Chakotay reach out and gently lay the palm of his hand against her back. She doesn't acknowledge the contact, but I'm sure she knows that he is offering her support, solidarity - as always. Things have always seemed to go in our favour when they are standing together to face them.

The news that 'everything can be sorted out', brings a sigh of relief and a slight feeling of anticlimax. Over the last few weeks there have been many late night discussions in the mess hall about what Starfleet will do with this crew. I've listened, tried to give support where I can, it takes my mind off worrying what will happen to me. After all everyone I know in the Alpha Quadrant is on this ship.

But the best moment, the one it feels I've waited six years to see, is the look Captain Janeway gives Chakotay. It's very quick, because a moment later she steps forward to give Tom the order to assume a standard orbit. But it leaves the Commander with a stunned expression on his face, anyone who hadn't seen what I had, would probably think he was overwhelmed by the sight of Earth. But I know better.

 

TBC in part 4