Castle Roland

Finding Clarity

by MultiMapper


Chapter 8

Posted: 21 Apr 16

Finding Clarity

Copyright © 2007 MultiMapper
All Rights Reserved

Tommy awoke at the sound of movement and turned in time to see Karla open her eyes.

She looked down at Milo who was snuggled to her side, then over at Tommy with confusion.

Tommy considered for a moment, then asked Tom if he wanted to take over.

{They're Lou's kids. He'll want to be the one to take care of them.} Tom answered simply.

Tommy was confused by the response, but called Lou to the forefront to talk to Karla.

"How much do you remember Karla?" Lou asked gently.

Karla had a look of confusion, then said, "I think I remember everything, but somehow it feels like it was a dream."

Lou smiled and said, "That's probably a good thing. This way you have the choice of looking back on it as a dream that never really happened so you can get on with your normal life."

Karla thought about it for a moment, then slowly shook her head.

"What's wrong?" Lou asked with concern.

"I was raised by my mother. I've never even met my father and all my life I've wondered what it would be like to have one. Yesterday I felt like I was your daughter. You told me that I was beautiful and special and you held me and loved me in a way that I've never felt before. I'm not going to try to forget yesterday like a strange dream. I'm going to try to remember it and hold on to it as the day that I spent with my father." Karla said with tear filled eyes.

"I can't help but think of all of you as my kids. So in my heart, you'll always be my beautiful, special daughter. If you ever need me, I'll always be there for you." Lou said quietly.

"Thanks Lou... Tom... Why did Harry tell everyone that your name was Lou?" Karla asked in confusion.

"It's a long story and it doesn't matter right now." Lou said with a gentle smile.

Milo's eyes snapped open and he looked around with question.

"Good morning Milo." Lou said gently.

After a moment, Milo realized that his head was resting on Karla's breast and he jerked away suddenly.

Lou smiled at his reaction as Karla watched him carefully.

"Relax Milo. Everything is fine. Karla understands that you weren't yourself yesterday." Lou said gently at his confused state.

Milo thought about the statement, then distantly said, "But I was myself. I was more myself than I've ever been."

After another moment of thought, Milo sat up and turned to look Karla in the eyes.

"I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings yesterday. Lou was right, I was trying to get your attention. I liked you then and... I like you now. I've liked you since the first time we met." Milo finished shyly.

Karla seemed amazed by the statement, then finally said, "I always liked you too. I just thought... you weren't interested."

Milo shook his head and said, "I never know what to say or how to act with women. I always end up being such a goon."

Lou smiled at the statement and Milo noticed.

"Thanks for helping me Lou. What you did... thanks." Milo finished shyly and looked down.

"Milo." Lou said gently to get him to look up again.

After a moment, Milo reluctantly looked at him.

"Just because we're all adults now doesn't mean that I've stopped caring about you. I'm here whenever you need me. If you're having trouble just come to me and we'll work it out together." Lou said seriously.

Milo shyly smiled and said, "Thanks Lou. I'll remember that."

Karla placed her hand on Milo's shoulder to get his attention and said, "Let's get out of here. I think we have some things to talk about."

Milo looked surprised, then the look slowly changed to happiness.

"Do you remember the ground rules?" Karla asked seriously.

Milo thought for a moment, then slowly shook his head.

"If you pull my hair or make fun of my breasts, I'm going to kick you in the pee-pee and make you cry." Karla said as she tried to restrain her smile.

Milo nodded and said, "I'll keep that in mind."

"You two need to stop by sickbay so the Doctor can check you out." Lou said with a fond smile at the pair.

"Whatever you say dad." Karla said with a wink.

"We will Lou. Thanks for everything." Milo said as he straightened out his uniform, then waited for Karla to be ready to go.

After a while of laying quietly, drifting in and out of sleep, Lou heard movement from the other side of Harry.

Lou got out of his sleeping bag and moved around Harry to make sure everything was okay.

Terry had just opened his eyes and seemed to be trying to put together the events of the past day.

"Good morning Terry. How are you feeling?" Lou asked quietly.

"I had the strangest dream... or was it a dream?" Terry asked in confusion.

"If you dreamed that you were a kid again, then no, it wasn't. But you're fine now." Lou said gently.

Terry looked down at Doug with surprise, just realizing that he had awoken snuggled up against him.

"Don't worry about Doug. I can't imagine that he would be upset by anything that happened yesterday. Anyone would be happy to be called your best friend." Lou said with a contented smile.

"Bestest." Doug whispered as he opened his eyes.

"Good morning Doug." Lou said happily.

"Good morning." Doug said slowly, then noticed that Terry was looking at him with uncertainty.

Doug gave Terry a small smile, then said, "I don't kid about friendship Terry. Bestest friends, forever."

Terry smiled with relief at the statement.

"That's great guys. You two need to go to sickbay to get checked out now." Lou said happily.

"One thing first." Doug said as he sat up to face Lou.

"I didn't have a very good childhood. I was very unhappy and very alone. For a few hours yesterday I had the childhood that I always wanted and it's thanks to you." Doug said seriously.

"If you ever need me, I'll always be there for you. In my heart you'll always be my kids." Lou said seriously.

"I'll remember that Tom. Come on Terry, I'll race you to the Sickbay." Doug said with a smile as he climbed out of his sleeping bag.

Terry chuckled and hurried to get out of his sleeping bag and follow.

Lou smiled at the pair, then went back to his own sleeping bag to wait for Harry to wake up.

"Tom?" Harry asked in a quiet voice.

Tom opened his eyes, surprised that Lou hadn't stepped to the front.

"Tom?" Harry asked again.

"Yeah Har. It's me." Tom said as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

"I had the strangest dream. I was a kid again and you were... Lou?" Harry said with confusion.

Tom chuckled and said, "Don't worry about it now. Let's go get you checked out so we can get back to work."

Harry looked around the room in confusion, then slowly got out of his sleeping bag.

It took a few minutes to get themselves in order, but finally the pair were ready to get back to business as usual.

After one wistful look back at the holodeck, Tom reluctantly said, "Computer: End program."

"Good morning Doctor. How are you doing today?" Tom asked in an unusually good mood as he walked into Sickbay with Harry at his side.

"Very well Lieutenant Paris. In fact, I would have to say that the treatment has been a complete success." The Doctor said happily.

"I'm glad to hear that. Harry's here to be checked out. Where do you want him?" Tom asked casually.

"Right over here. I will need to do an extensive scan so this will take a few minutes." The Doctor said as he indicated the biobed he wanted to use.

Tom noticed that Gerron and Ayala were both awake and quietly said, "Har, while you're doing that I'm going to check on these guys. Yell if you need me."

"Okay Tom, I will." Harry said, then laid back on the biobed.

"Good morning gentlemen. How are you today?" Tom asked curiously as he approached.

"Greg is going to be fine. He's just a little sore from the broken ribs." Gerron said quietly.

"I'm glad you're feeling better." Tom said honestly.

"Tem tells me that you've got a thing... like you change." Lieutenant Ayala said with difficulty.

"That's right. Depending on the situation that I'm in, I'll switch over to whoever can deal with it best." Tom said carefully.

Lieutenant Ayala looked at Tom cautiously, then said, "I've learned that Tem can see things in people that I can't, so I'll trust him about this. But I do have my doubts."

"Thanks for being honest with me. I really didn't mean for any of this to happen, but when you brought Gerron into Sickbay the other day, I didn't really know how to help him deal with what was happening. I turned control over to Tommy, he's more emotional and understanding than I am." Tom said seriously.

"Are you sure you don't need to be in a crazy house or on some heavy drugs or something?" Lieutenant Ayala asked cautiously.

Tom smiled at the question and said, "Chakotay doesn't think so. He's helping me to make sense of all this."

Ayala nodded, then looked up at Tem who had been listening to everything.

"Do you think Tommy could come out and meet Greg? I think it's time." Gerron asked quietly.

"Sure." Tom said peacefully, then closed his eyes to make the transition easier for Tommy.

When Tommy's eyes opened, Gerron and Ayala both noticed how they lit up with happiness.

"Hey guys. How are you doing?" Tommy asked gently.

"Gregor has had his injuries healed and is waiting for the Doctor to release him." Gerron said quietly.

"I was sure that you were going to be fine with Tem watching out for you." Tommy said with a cheerful smile.

Ayala looked at Gerron with question and received a nod that he had given Tommy permission to use his name.

Tommy looked carefully at the pair and noticed something in the way that Gerron was holding Ayala's hand.

"You're not lovers." Tommy said cautiously.

"What?" Ayala asked in surprise.

"Seeing how much you care for each other, I jumped to the conclusion that you two are lovers but... now I can see it... you're not." Tommy said carefully.

"No Tommy. We're family." Tem said quietly.

Tommy looked at the pair, but couldn't identify the connection.

"Tommy?" Ayala asked cautiously.

After a nod from Tommy that it was okay to use his name, Ayala continued, "Tem joined the Maquis to defend his home and way of life. He was still pretty young when he left his family and he misses them desperately. I have a family back in the Alpha quadrant and I miss my boys so bad it hurts. So I'm a father without my sons and Tem is a son who misses his father. We decided that we would be family for each other to make it hurt a little bit less."

Tommy nodded, then said, "I'm glad you did. All of us need to find our peace however we can out here."

"Tommy?" Sounded from the next bed.

Tommy turned quickly to find Chakotay looking at him.

"How are you doing Tay?" Tommy asked as he hurried to Chakotay's side.

"I'm not sure. We were about to start gathering the dilithium and then... I'm here." Chakotay said in confusion.

"Don't worry about it now Tay. Everything is fine. Everyone is safe and all you have to worry about right now is getting enough rest." Tommy said quietly.

"Hey Cap. How are you feeling?" Ayala asked from the next bed.

"Tired." Chakotay answered honestly.

"Don't worry about it. Tem filled me in on everything the Doctor's been doing and you're going to be fine. You just need to relax and recharge." Ayala said simply.

"How about you?" Chakotay asked with concern.

"Me? I'm just fine. Everything's been healed and as soon as the Doc releases me, I'm going back to my cabin to enjoy a little mini vacation." Ayala said with a smile.

"That sounds nice Greg. I have a feeling that I'll probably be doing the same." Chakotay said quietly.

"Why don't you get some sleep Tay. You sound like you're fighting to stay awake." Tommy said with concern.

"Okay. I think I will." Chakotay said, then his eyes drifted closed.

"What about you two?" Ayala asked quietly.

Tommy looked at Greg curiously, then said, "I don't know yet. It's a little more complicated for me than most people."

"Things tend to be complicated if you let them be. When you strip away the things that don't really matter, most things end up being quite simple." Gerron said quietly.

Tommy nodded that he could accept that reasoning.

"Lieutenant Paris, I don't know how you did it, but the security personnel not only checked out to be in good health, but also seemed to be in good spirits. I expected them to be disturbed by yesterday's developments." The Doctor said as he looked over Ayala's readings.

"Lieutenant Ayala, I'm releasing you to your cabin. Return here in three days and I'll see if you're fit to return to duty." The Doctor said professionally.

"Lieutenant Paris..." The Doctor said as he quickly scanned Tommy with the medical tricorder.

"I'm showing signs of fatigue and slight dehydration from the anti-toxin. I'm declaring you fit for duty but recommending that you take the rest of the day off and drink lots of fluids." The Doctor said firmly.

"I'll see if the Captain can spare me." Tommy said while internally urging Tom to come to the front to deal with the Doctor.

The Doctor moved to Chakotay's bed and checked the readings.

"How is he?" Tommy asked with concern.

"Sleeping. As soon as he awakens, he'll be released to his cabin." The Doctor said carefully.

"He woke up for a few minutes before you came over." Tommy said quickly.

"He appears to need the rest, so next time he wakes up, I'll release him." The Doctor said seriously.

"Thank you Doctor." Tommy said quietly as he looked at Chakotay with concern.

The Doctor looked curiously at Tommy's subdued mood, then hurried away to check on his other patients.

"You love him don't you?" Greg asked quietly.

Tommy slowly nodded, then said, "But it couldn't work. It wouldn't be fair to Chakotay."

"That's his decision to make, not yours." Gerron said seriously.

Tommy looked at Gerron with a considering look, then nodded.

"I've got to go to work." Harry said with a whine as he approached Tommy's side.

Tom automatically moved to the front and said, "I thought you'd at least get a day off."

"Yeah. It looks like we're going to have a very long day." Harry said irritably.

"Um, Har. The Doc says I should take the day off." Tom said reluctantly.

"I swear, the Doctor has it in for me. It has to be personal..." Harry began to rant.

Tom glanced at Gerron and Ayala who had been watching the exchange and gave them a wink before walking with Harry out of the Sickbay.

After everyone had taken their seats for the morning briefing, Lieutenant Paris noticed the empty chair where Commander Chakotay normally sat. Even though he knew that the Commander would be fine, his absence was felt during the meeting.

After completing the morning business and a discussion of the previous day's events, the Captain asked, "Is there anything else?"

"I have something." Lieutenant Paris said carefully.

"Yes Lieutenant, what can I do for you?" Janeway asked curiously.

"The Doctor has declared me fit for duty but recommends that I take the day off." Lieutenant Paris said formally.

"I think Ensign Baytart would appreciate the time at the helm. Considering everything you went through yesterday, I'm sure you've earned it. Just be available in case we encounter anything unexpected." Captain Janeway said carefully.

"Thank you Captain. I will." Lieutenant Paris said formally.

"If there's nothing else, we're dismissed. Lieutenant Paris, enjoy your day." Captain Janeway said as she stood.

"Thank you Captain." Lieutenant Paris said quietly, then looked at Chakotay's empty chair again as he got up to leave.

Tommy tried to relax in his cabin, but within half an hour, he was certain that he wouldn't be able to relax without knowing how Chakotay was doing.

A trip to the sickbay revealed that Chakotay had already gone to his cabin.

With mounting anxiety, Tom hurried to Chakotay's cabin, knowing that talking with Chakotay would be the only thing that would allow him to get peaceful rest.


"Come." Chakotay called from his couch.

Tommy walked in to find Chakotay reclined on the couch, sipping a cup of tea.

"I thought you'd be on the helm right now." Chakotay said quietly as he scooted up on the couch to make a place for Tommy to sit.

Tommy automatically hurried to Chakotay's side and sat down.

"What's bothering you?" Chakotay asked with concern.

"I don't know. It's like I have this cauldron of emotions in me that's bubbling and... I'm sorry, you don't need this right now. You need your rest." Tommy said in a tired voice.

"I'll rest better if I know that you're okay. Come here and tell me what's going on." Chakotay said and pulled Tom into a gentle one armed hug.

Tommy relaxed against Chakotay's chest and quietly said, "I really don't know. Everything was fine when I woke up this morning but since then it feels like everything is just on the edge of going out of control."

"You look tired, maybe if you get some sleep it will all sort itself out." Chakotay said gently.

"Maybe." Tommy said uncertainly and closed his eyes.

Several hours later Tommy awoke to find himself still laying on Chakotay's chest.

Chakotay felt the movement but remained quiet.

Tommy felt different, not knowing what was wrong, but certain that something was.

"Tay? Are you awake?" Tommy finally whispered.

"Yes. How are you feeling now?" Chakotay asked with concern at Tommy's hesitant tone.

"I... I think something happened." Tommy said in a shaky voice.

"Can you be more specific?" Chakotay asked quietly.

"I'm... alone." Tommy said in a hollow voice.

"How do you feel?" Chakotay asked as he hugged Tommy more tightly.

"Scared." Tommy said honestly.

A long moment of silence stretched between them as Tommy tried to understand what he was feeling.

"Tommy?" Chakotay finally said.


"You're not gone." Chakotay whispered.

"I noticed." Tommy responded hesitantly.

"What's bothering you?" Chakotay asked with increasing concern.

"I... for just a minute this morning... I wished for this." Tommy said as tears began to fall down his cheeks.

"You wished that you were the only one? That the others would go away?" Chakotay asked carefully.

Tommy nodded as the tears continued to fall.

"It's okay Tommy. This probably means that you don't need the others anymore, they're not gone, they're just a part of you now." Chakotay said soothingly.

"No, they're not. They're gone." Tommy said in despair.

"Do you think you can still be a daredevil pilot?" Chakotay asked carefully.


"Do you still have flyboy's skills?" Chakotay asked as he gently coaxed Tommy to face him.

After a moment of thought, Tommy reluctantly said, "Yeah."

"How about the others?"

"Yeah, it's all here." Tommy said slowly.

"And is it at war with you."

"No, it's just a part of me, available for me to use when I need it." Tommy said cautiously, still not able to believe that it was a good thing.

"Right answer."


"That's just how it's supposed to be."

Tommy considered, then asked, "If there is a reason for all this, do you think this is it? To bring me out in front of the defenses where I can call them up when I need them instead of hiding behind them?"

"That's as good an answer as any." Chakotay said frankly.

A long moment of silence fell between the two as they held on to each other and thought about what had happened.



"Can I kiss you?" Tommy asked with a tremble of fear in his voice.


Tommy lifted his head up and gave Tay a gentle kiss on the lips.

It was hesitant and chaste, and yet, somehow perfect.

After the kiss, Tommy rested his head back on Chakotay's shoulder and fell back to sleep.

"Chak?" Tom asked seriously.

Chakotay woke at the sound and quietly asked, "Tom? Is that you?"

"Yeah. Sorry about going away like that." Tom said shyly.

"What happened?" Chakotay asked in shock.

"Tommy was getting overloaded. It's like all of us were growing and our emotions were wearing him down. It reached a saturation point or something and we sort of merged for a little bit and absorbed each other's memories. It looked like we were going to reintegrate until Flyboy came up with a way that we could take the pressure off Tommy." Tom said seriously.

"How's that?" Chakotay asked curiously.

"He built himself a room in here. When he disappeared, Lou and I went looking for him. We kind of got pulled into his room for a while and couldn't get out. We were completely shielded in there and couldn't let Tommy know what was going on. But we finally figured it out and now we're back and everything is fine. In fact, we're going to build rooms of our own. We're even going to build one for Tommy just so he'll have a place to go while one of us is out front." Tom said happily.

"Are you aware of what happened while you were gone?" Chakotay asked cautiously.

"You mean between you and Tommy? Yeah, Tommy told us." Tom said with a smile.

"We thought you had all been integrated back into Tommy." Chakotay said with concern.

"It's okay Chak. I'm not comfortable with certain physical acts, but now I have a room that I can go to while you're doing stuff like that." Tom said quietly.

"But are you really okay with that?" Chakotay asked curiously.

"Chak. If it was anyone else, I think I'd have a big problem with it. But since it's you, I have no problem at all." Tom said seriously.

"So what are the rest of you going to do now?" Chakotay asked cautiously.

"We'll come out and do our thing just like before. The only difference is now that we've melded or merged or whatever it was, we won't have to be switching out constantly. All of us are capable of using each other's skills. Whoever is driving can take care of things while the others are in their rooms." Tom said with a happy smile.

"What are you going to do in your room?" Chakotay asked gently.

Tom smiled and said, "Well, mine is going to have a pool table. The next time the four of us team up, you can just leave Harry and B'El to me."

"I'll remember that." Chakotay said with a fond smile.

"Chak. We got together and figured something out that made everything make sense. I'll let Tommy tell you about that. I just came out here to explain this to you because I understand what happened a little better than he does." Tom said seriously.

"Thanks for explaining it. I'll try to arrange a counseling session on the holodeck for us later this week." Chakotay said with a smile.

"Just say when and I'll be there." Tom said with a grin, then the look faded to the gentle smile of Tommy.

"How are you doing?" Chakotay asked with concern.

"Wonderful. I really thought I'd lost them." Tommy said as he cuddled close to Chakotay's chest.

Chakotay smiled at Tommy's happiness.

"Tom says that you've figured some things out." Chakotay said as he held Tommy gently.

"Yeah, we all got together and worked out what happened and what we're going to do next." Tommy said peacefully.

"Can you tell me about it, or is it private?" Chakotay asked cautiously.

Tommy chuckled and said, "I'm going to tell you, and I hope you're going to like it."

Chakotay snuggled Tommy to his side and waited.

"Well, I guess what it comes down to is that I'm just one person." Tommy said in thought.

"Okay." Chakotay said hesitantly.

"Up to now we've been thinking that I'm the main personality that was hiding behind the other three because they're my defenses." Tommy said carefully.

"And they're not?" Chakotay asked cautiously.

"No. Tom is our public face for everyone else to see. Lou is our dedication and duty and our professional life. Gene... Um, that's Flyboy's name, he's kind of our security man. He prepares for the worst case and makes sure that he's able to handle whatever challenges we face. I'm our private, romantic face. I'm the one who has real, personal relationships for us." Tommy said happily.

"So they're looking at our relationship as your contribution to all their lives?" Chakotay asked curiously.

"Yes. And I really like that feeling. Each of us has his own job and own purpose. We're separate people, but we all make a contribution to the whole. I'm no more or less important than any of the others." Tommy said happily.

"The only thing that bothers me about all this is that I don't understand why it happened." Chakotay said as he pulled Tommy to snuggle into his side.

"Oh that. Tom remembered that while we were talking. Back on Fennis II he met a woman who offered to help him find clarity." Tommy said casually.

"Clarity?" Chakotay asked cautiously.

"Yeah. I was a jumble, a swirl of four different personalities who were vague and undefined, sometimes working against each other. Now I'm me in a way that I could never have imagined. I think I'm happier than I ever could have been the other way." Tommy said with a peaceful smile.

"As long as you're happy, that's all I need to know." Chakotay said and moved in for a kiss.

Tommy held Chakotay tightly as the kiss became more passionate and peace radiated through his soul.

Thirty Years Later

"Tommy?" Chakotay called as he walked in the front door of their house.

"In the kitchen Tay." Tommy called out.

Chakotay smiled as he caught the aroma of something cooking.

"Something smells good." Chakotay smiled as he walked into the kitchen.

"I thought for a while that I wasn't going to be able to get the ingredients." Tommy said, then dipped some soup out with a large spoon and presented it to Chakotay.

"Does this have anything to do with that call from customs?" Chakotay asked curiously, then blew on the soup to cool it a little before tasting it.

"That's right. The Dorvan customs officials didn't know what to think of the eggplants." Tommy said with a smile.

After taking a taste, Chakotay hesitantly asked, "Ratatouille?"

"That's right. I thought it would be the perfect food for today." Tommy said with a grin.

"Today? What's today?" Chakotay asked cautiously.

Tommy looked at him incredulously, and slowly said, "Thirty years ago today is when we got together."

"Are you sure? I thought that was next week." Chakotay asked hesitantly.

"Yes I'm sure. And don't pretend like you didn't remember because I can read you like a book Captain Chakotay." Tommy said with a grin.

"I never had a chance, did I?" Chakotay said with a chuckle.

"Nope. Grab the French bread." Tommy said happily, then started to ladle the ratatouille into large bowls.

Chakotay picked up the loaf of bread, then followed Tommy to the dining room.

"Perfect. Better than I remember it." Chakotay said as he finished his food.

"We're not done yet." Tommy said with a smile, then produced two slices of chocolate cake from under a cover on the sideboard.

"You thought of everything." Chakotay said happily.

"I just thought it would be nice for us to celebrate our anniversary with the first meal we ever ate together." Tommy said gently.

A knock on the door interrupted any further conversation.

Chakotay didn't make any move to get up, so Tommy got up from the table to answer the door.

Tommy opened the door to find their oldest son and their first grandson looking back expectantly.

"Kole?" Tommy asked with surprise.

"Happy anniversary Papa Tommy. We're not too early are we?" Kolopak asked curiously.

"No, you have perfect timing, we just finished eating. And how's my little Koty today?" Tommy asked as he knelt down to pick up the four year old boy.

"Hi Paw Paw Tommy, can I talk to Paw Paw Lou?" Koty asked hopefully.

"Anything you want." Tommy said as he hugged the boy, then his expression changed to one of curiosity.

"Paw Paw Lou. You member the story you told me bout Uncle Terry and Uncle Doug and Aunt Karla and Uncle Milo? I drawed a picture!" Koty said quickly, then pulled the picture out of his pocket.

Lou looked at the picture, then said, "Come on in the living room so you can show your Paw Paw Chakotay too."

"Kay!" Koty said cheerfully.

Chakotay and Lou watched as Koty pointed out every feature on the picture and retold the story that he'd been told from his four year old point of view.

"What's that?" Lou asked curiously as he pointed to a blobby figure at the side.

"That's the Doctor." Koty said seriously.

Chakotay smiled and said, "Looks just like him."

There was another knock on the door, and Lou suspected that he knew who it was.

He gave Koty a quick kiss on the top of the head, then went to answer it.

"Hi Neesie." Lou said gently as he pulled his daughter into a hug.

"Papa Lou? I thought you'd be resting after working all day." Denise said happily.

"Koty wanted to show me something... Where's Kimmy?" Lou asked as he looked around.

"In the ground car. She's in a mood." Denise said with an exasperated look.

"Let me see if I can talk her out of it." Lou said with a gentle smile.

"Sure. Go ahead. Make me look like an incompetent parent." Denise said dramatically.

"If you insist." Lou said with a chuckle and a wink, then walked to the ground car in the driveway.

"Kimmy, It's Paw Paw Lou. Don't you want to come in and visit with us?" Lou asked quietly as he got in on the other side of the ground car.

"Mommy's making me wear a dress!" Kimmy said indignantly with her arms crossed across her chest.

Lou glanced over his shoulder to see that his daughter couldn't hear, then whispered, "I have your play clothes in the spare room. If you want to go change, I'll keep your Mommy busy."

"Thank you Paw Paw Lou. I love you." Kimmy said and hugged him tightly.

"When you're done changing, Koty's here too. You two can play in the spare room if you like." Lou said, then gave her a quick kiss.

"Okay!" Kimmy said happily as she jumped out of the car and ran for the house.

Denise chuckled and shook her head as she walked slowly to the car where Lou was getting out.

"I don't know how you do it. In two seconds you changed her mood from dark to light." Denise said with a gentle smile.

"I had a few years of practice with a moody little girl." Lou said with a knowing grin.

"I was never like that." Denise said firmly.

"I don't know, I seem to remember a little girl in a horribly foul mood because she had to dress up to see her uncle Tem be ordained as a Vedek." Lou said slowly.

"You'll never let me live that down, will you?" Denise asked in a grumble.

"No. It's my job to remind you when Kimmy does something and you forget that you did exactly the same thing." Lou said frankly.

"Papa Gene would have let me get away with it." Denise said absently as she turned to walk back toward the house.

"Maybe, but Papa Gene would have gotten Kimmy out of the car by taking it out for a spin with her in it. By the time they got back Kimmy would have been begging to go inside." Lou said with a chuckle.

"He always made going for groceries an adventure." Denise said with a laugh.

"Your Papa Tommy wants to come out and talk to you." Lou said gently.

"Okay. It was good talking to you Papa Lou, I love you." Denise said and gave him a quick kiss.

"Love you too Neesie." Lou said gently, then closed his eyes to let the transition happen.

"Hi Baby Girl. It's good to see you." Tommy said and gave Denise a tight hug.

"It's good to see you too Papa Tommy." Denise said happily.

"How's Jordan?" Tommy asked casually as he led the way back into the house.

"He's fine. He wanted to be here today but it's the middle of the harvest season and you can't put off harvesting the jumja sap." Denise said in an apologetic tone.

"Don't worry. I've lived on Dorvan long enough to understand how it works." Tommy said as he put an arm around her.

"After this harvest, we're going to try to make a little brother or sister for Kimmy." Denise said quietly.

"That's wonderful. I think you two are financially secure enough and you have no shortage of love to give. I think this is the perfect time." Tommy said gently as they walked into the living room.

"Kole was just saying that he and Gina are talking about having another child." Chakotay said happily.

"You two always did love a good competition." Tommy said to his daughter at his side.

Chakotay and Kolopak looked at them curiously.

"Jordan and I are talking about it too." Denise said shyly as she walked to Chakotay and gave him a hug.

A glazed look came over Tommy's eyes and everyone noticed as his expression changed.

"I'm so proud of you two. Helping you two grow up to be happy responsible adults is the most important and rewarding thing I've ever done in my life." Tom said honestly.

"I couldn't agree more." Chakotay said as he stood and walked to Tom's side.

"Thanks Papa Tom. You two gave us the example to follow." Denise said gently.

"That's right. Nobody else I've talked to had parents who let them help pay the bills or help make the choices for the family. When we moved out on our own we understood what our responsibilities were and were able to get our lives on target without the usual mistakes that people make." Kolopak said seriously.

"I think it's because you showed us what it means to be in love. Even when you had arguments, instead of trying to hide it from us, you'd explain what the problem was and how you solved it. I don't know if Jordan and I would have made it if it weren't for your example. His parents always tried to hide their arguments so he didn't know what to do when we had a disagreement." Denise said quietly.

"I'm sure Greg and Callah did their best." Chakotay said gently.

"I'm not saying that they were bad parents. I love them both. What I'm trying to say is that because you gave me an example to follow, a little argument doesn't blow up into something that could threaten our relationship." Denise said seriously.

"I'm glad you think we did a good job." Tom said as he hugged Chakotay to his side.

"Where are the kids?" Kolopak asked as he looked around the room.

"Lou sent them into the spare room to play." Tom said peacefully.

"They're too quiet." Kolopak said as he hopped up off the couch.

"Kimmy isn't even this quiet when she sleeps." Denise said as she raced her brother to reach the hallway.

After a moment, Denise called, "Dad, Papa, I think you should see this."

Chakotay and Tom shared a look, then walked down the hallway to the spare room.

"Isn't that sweet?" Denise asked with a chuckle.

"Where's a camera?" Kolopak asked his fathers quickly as they passed.

Chakotay and Tom walked past them to peek in the room and saw Koty and Kimmy playing like they were having a tea party. Koty was wearing Kimmy's dress from earlier and Kimmy was wearing her play clothes.

"Prime blackmail material when he's ready for his first date." Tom said with a smirk.

"Or when he has kids of his own." Chakotay said with a grin.

Tom's eyes opened wide, then he ran into the bedroom he shared with Chakotay.

Denise and Kolopak looked at each other curiously.

A moment later, Tom raced back out of the bedroom carrying a photo album.

"Oh no. What do you have there?" Kolopak asked cautiously.

"Blackmail material." Tom said as he opened the book.

Kolopak hesitantly peeked in the book and cringed when he realized what he was looking at.

"Kole, when you were about Koty's age, you got the idea that you and Denise were twin sisters." Tom said as he tried to restrain his chuckles.

Kolopak looked at the picture again and saw that he and Denise were wearing identical dresses, identical makeup and had their hair styled the same way.

"Kole, listen." Tom said at the crestfallen look on his son's face.

Kolopak hesitantly looked at Tom.

"You turned out fine." Tom said seriously.

Kolopak looked at the picture again, then back at his son who was oblivious to what was happening in the hallway.

"Thanks Papa Tom." Kolopak whispered, then started walking back down the hall.

Tom glanced at Chakotay and raised an eyebrow.

Chakotay nodded, then ran to get the camera.

"Thanks for coming. You two made this the perfect anniversary." Tom said happily.

Denise kissed and hugged Tom, then said, "Drag Papa Gene out here so I can give him a kiss. I haven't talked to him all night."

"You got it." Tom said then gave a quick hug and kiss to Kolopak before he retreated.

"How's my girl?" Gene asked in a gentle voice.

"I'm good. I just didn't have a chance to visit with you tonight. How are you doing?" Denise asked with a content smile.

"I'm having a good time working with Tom and Lou on redesigning the simulators for Starfleet. It keeps me sharp." Gene finished with a smile.

"I'm glad. Do you have a kiss for me before I leave?" Denise asked quietly.

"I always have one for my girl." Gene said, then gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"Thanks Papa Gene." Denise said with a loving smile.

"I agree with what Tom was saying earlier. I'm proud of you, both of you." Gene said as he looked at Kolopak seriously.

"I know Papa Gene. You don't say it a lot, but I know." Kolopak said peacefully.

Gene nodded, then said, "I love you both. You'd better get your kids and get out of here now so Tommy and Chakotay can bump uglies."

Kolopak broke out into laughter as Denise turned away to hide her embarrassed smile.

"Should I tell them what you do on the holodeck besides working on simulators?" Chakotay asked Gene carefully.

"Fine, fine. I'm outta here. I was just trying to help." Gene said with an unrepentant smile, then faded.

"How rude." Tommy said as he suddenly found himself thrust into control.

Chakotay pulled Tommy to his side and gave him a slow, gentle kiss.

"I think that's our cue to leave." Kolopak whispered.

Denise nodded her agreement and followed.

Before Tommy and Chakotay knew what happened, Kolopak and Denise had gathered their children and were ushering them out to the cars.

Tommy and Chakotay held each other in the slight chill of the Dorvan evening as they watched their children drive away.

"Chak." Tom said hesitantly.

"Tom." Chakotay responded quietly.

"It's just as beautiful as the first time I saw it." Tom said as he looked at the setting sun.

"So how does this compare to your vision of the future?" Chakotay asked gently as he held Tom close.

"It's better in more ways than I could have imagined back then. I love our kids, our friends... our life." Tom said peacefully.

"I agree. That night on the holodeck, I really believed that I couldn't achieve the level of emotional intimacy to have a relationship with a man, little did I know that I was going to be having a relationship with four of you." Chakotay finished with a smile.

"And you've done it perfectly Chak. We all love you and are completely happy here." Tom said in a dreamy whisper as he looked at the darkening Dorvan sky.

After a long moment of silence between them, Chakotay quietly asked, "Do you think the old woman back on that planet had any idea something like this would come from you finding clarity?"

Tom considered the question for a moment, then said, "I don't know Chak. But I hope that she helped lots of people the way that she helped me. I can't think of any other way I'd want to be."

"I agree. You're perfect just the way you are."

The End

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