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         Fire In The Sky
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      Page Four

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Subject: Out of the Frying Pan...
From:  patti k (
Sent: Tue 4/13/10 1:53 PM

In surgery, Dr. Early turned away from his sutured patient and peeled off
his bloody gloves. "Sharon, do we have ortho coming down here to take
a look at this arm?" he said, pointed a touch guarded pinky at Chakotay's
humerus splint.

"Yes. Xray's next. Circulation in that hand and all fingers are still normal,
doctor. We've been monitoring the patient's extremity pulse during this
whole procedure."

"I'll want a full skull series, a follow up abdominal flat plate, and laterals
for this fracture." Early requested, letting another nurse peel off his
slightly bloodied gown. He turned a head towards the anesthesiologist.
"How's he doing, Brian?"

"Pressure's good, Joe. Bounded right back up to normal as soon as
you sealed off that hepatic vein tear. Pulse's 80. Respirations aren't
back yet though, he's still real sleepy from the juice." the masked man
reported, still bagging Chakotay by hand through his taped ET tube
around the respirator machine that hadn't triggered a release yet with an
inspiratory effort.

"Keep him under until ortho resets that break. If he's kept deep, his
muscles won't resist any of the resetting, being still relaxed."

"My thoughts exactly. The less pain meds today, the better."

Joe eyed up Dixie and Dr. Brackett, casually lingering in the hallway
outside of surgery, he pantomimed the phone with fingers spread
to his ear and mouth in a gesture right before he picked up the
white phone on the wall.

Hurrying, Dr. Brackett, picked up the phone outside the scrubs only
area. "Joe?"

"Things looked real good, Kel. Just a small rupture on the liver that
didn't involve any of the ducts and another to a secondary vein."
Early told him.

"Good deal. What about the arm?"

"The same. Circulation's still unimpaired. The ortho's team is on the way
in to re-evaluate and then fix it. My thinking is that the break is just
a simple humerus fracture without gross misalignment. I found no
pooling effects around the arm pit at all."

"And the head injury?"

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"He's handling the anesthesia well. Pressure's steady. Oh, and Kel,
I took the liberty of ordering you a few films." Joe told him.

"No problem. You were in there." Kel replied. "What else did you

"Would you believe the internal organs of a twenty year old? That man's
in fantastic shape."

"The wonders of the military world never cease." Brackett chuckled.

"Come again?" Joe muttered, closing a finger to an ear to drown out
the sound of the crane and chains repositioning Chakotay's splinted
shoulder to make him ready for the Xray machine.

"Never mind. When you get back out here. I'll personally buy you
a cup of coffee to celebrate." Brackett said.

Early grinned. "Sounds terrific." and he hung up the phone.

Kel turned to Dixie. "Looks like he's heading for the floors in
about half an hour."

"Outta sight. I'm sure Mr. Paris'll be ecstatic with the news." McCall
smiled. "Where is he by the way?"

"I don't know. He was here a minute ago with Roy."

"Hmmm." Dixie demurred, turning away to go back to work.


Fifteen minutes later, Joe Early entered the night quiet nurse's
lounge to meet Roy at a table full of unused coffee cups near a
fresh burner warmed pot. The doctor was in a clean set of
surgical scrubs in case the ortho team needed him to assist.

DeSoto looked tired and his face was lined, but he was content.
"How'd it go for Chakotay?"

"Textbook repair." Joe replied. "He'll have a full recovery I suspect.
The arm's nothing and that head laceration was just that."

Roy sucked in a breath and sighed. "That's a relief. It was touch
and go for a while there on the ground."

"Yeah, Kel told me about that. I wonder what he got himself
into to have reacted so violently." Early wondered.

"Guess we'll never know." DeSoto blinked, slowly sipping his coffee.

"Where's his friend? Kel said he came in with one who made himself
known all over the treatment room. And the woods, in order to
find you two." he meant of Johnny and Roy.

"Tom Paris?" Roy asked. "Oh, he went for a walk. Said he couldn't
stand waiting any longer." he grinned. "But I did manage to feed him."

"I could page him with the results." Early hinted.

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"Yeah, that'd be a very good idea, doc. Tom wasn't happy observing.
He left in a hurry right in the middle of it at one point."

"Queasiness?" Dr. Early wondered.

"That'd be my first guess judging how fast he bolted out of there." Roy
replied, matter of factly.

"Okay, let's take some of the pressure off." and he got up from his chair
for the black wall phone. "Man's done a bang up job, keeping his
friend alive until we got to him. It's the least I can do."


Johnny Gage rubbed the spot on his arm where the nurse
had drawn three units of blood. Restless, and full of energy,
he tore off the bandaid and was shocked to not find a bruise there
from the needle."Huh.. must have been one hell of a vein stick and
wrap job. I don't even feel tired." he muttered out loud. "It's like
I wasn't even stuck and drained in the first place." he grinned.
::Just glad I could help out the guy.:: he thought, of Chakotay as
he sipped orange juice in the waiting room.

Bored, and hungry, Johnny decided he'd wander the halls until
he found either Roy or Tom Paris. He set off for Dixie's desk
in order to call the station to fill them in on the events of their
last day of vacation. ::Cap's gonna shake his head when that
surprise rescue report comes in from L.A.:: he realized.


Tom Paris, unerringly found his way back to the observation
room. Chakotay, was now bloodless on the outside and getting
a cast put on his arm and shoulder. ::Looks like that break's
as easy as I thought it was if it had to be there.:: Tom thought.

But he still got a chill seeing Chakotay's tubed mouth, taped shut
eyes and anesthetic pale lips. "Weird that they have to half kill
someone just to operate on them painlessly." he muttered out loud,
mad that Chakotay wasn't breathing without the aid of a hand bag
or respirator machine.

Then one of the ortho team looked up straight at him, meeting
him right in the eye.

A shock travelled right up Tom's back and up his spine. He
knew those bushy white eyebrows. ::Tell me I'm hallucinating.
This is craziness. I'm seeing people from back home.:: Then
he remembered Barclay's future warning about a visitor
and went running to the floor below to get closer to the
familiar stranger he had seen.

The tiny blue scrub garbed and surgery masked man quietly maneuvered
around the working doctors and nurses surrounding Chakotay
and left the operating room, butt backwards in a sterile hand guard.

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Soon, he stood calmly outside the hallway doors near a water fountain
and patiently waited for Tom Paris to find him as he peeled off his
mask and took a drink.

Tom skidded, breathless, around the corner, his knapsack in tow.

"About time you got here." grumbled the smaller white haired blue
surgery capped old man to Paris as he straightened up.


"Yes. In the flesh. Now calm down before you attract too
much attention Lt. Paris. You're making a downright spectacle of yourself."
Boothby chided his assigned charge as he led him over to the surgical
assignment board to figure out where Chakotay was going to go following
his repair work.

Tom Paris stopped gaping, and started studying the board along with
Boothby to play along, but he was only starting to soak it all in. "How'd y--
Were you in there the whole time Chakotay was being operated on?"

"Of course I was, son. How do you expect me to act when a pair of
Federation crewmembers end up in the wrong place at the wrong
time. It wasn't hard finding you two, seeing that I was never not
here in the first place to begin with." said the gravelly voiced, Starfleet
Academy flower gardener. "I can be unnoticed when I want to be."

Tom slumped against the wall, making a doubletake face as if
Boothby suddenly sprouted a third eyeball right in the middle of his
forehead. "Come again?"

"Oh, don't be so daft, crewman. You know I'm not human. I'm El Aurien,
just like Captain Picard's Guinan on the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise D."

Tom just stared. But then his analytical, nit picking side came to the
foreground. "I'm afraid I've never had the pleasure to meet either of
them yet."

"Huh, your loss. Too bad."
Boothby's eyes just twinkled and he cast a look back towards the
surgery doors. "I'm just glad your commander's going to pull through.
He's got some serious time to spend with a very unique gal we both
know and love in a silver suit and that, will make all the difference
in the world in the end for everybody in YOUR world." he winked.

It was Tom's turn to chuckle."Oh, come on. Chakotay's not
interested in Seven of Nine. They barely even report in to each other
even on Janeway's orders." he scoffed in jest.

"As you say." Boothby smiled, a knowing smile. "I know what might
happen with non-command cadets and crewman, just as well as I do
those soon to be on the command track."

Tom's grin wilted and he got mad."Chakotay'd be the first to tell you
he's nobody special. He's just trying to do the right thing."

"Nail on the head, son. That's what I really like about you."
Boothby laughed with his teeth. "You're just like your father."

The light bulb flashed behind Tom's eyes and his face enlightened
with realization. "Whom you watched and picked as a special just
like you did Janeway, through the flower beds.." Tom guessed.

"Yep. Though you aren't one of my precious roses I'm sorry to say."

Tom sighed and dropped his head in sudden weariness. "So what
now? We're trapped here with no way out until we meet the others
Barclay told me about."

"Ah, Project Pathfinder's really starting to get her legs now. Warms
an old alien's heart right up." Boothby said. "Tom Paris, I may be long
enough lived to be at two places in history, but I'm also a Listener. I
suggest we go up on the roof and do some Listening. Things aren't as
they seem to be in the local neighborhood." Boothby said.


"Follow me up there, and I'll show you exactly what I mean." the short
fit old man gestured.


Tom Paris's eyes widened at the blue glowing suburban streetlit
panorama, surrounding Rampart Hospital. The moon was out, and it was
almost full in the twentieth century pollution hazy sky. He sneezed at
the smog he could smell. "Okay, that's not so nice a view." he remarked,
wiping his nose on a sleeve.

Boothby just ignored Tom's sarcasm and pointed up. "Look at the sky,
what do you see?"

"Very familiar and sorely loved constellations I haven't seen since Voyager
was lost, are you happy now?" Paris said angrily, not obeying.

"Pay attention, son. This is vital. What exactly.. is that?" he asked, stabbing
a finger due north and east, at a level nearest the horizon.

Tom's navigator instincts immediately spotted the anomaly. "No," he
breathed out loud in shock. "That's not.. Oh, no. Boothby, tell me that it isn't."

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"It is. That's Halley's comet. Same one that gave you that wormhole so
you could escape the Borg."

"But it's way too early. In history, Halley's comet wasn't due back in until
the middle eighties early spring sometime, for this part of the U.S. It is
1976, right?"

"By all official reckoning in my mind, it is."

Tom set his hands on his hips. "Okay, what's going on here."

"A time pocket. Just the size of this main city metropolis. Maybe a little
bigger into the mountains surrounding the woods near where the two of
you crashed. I checked."

"Aren't they aware of anything unusual? That comet's really hard to
miss." Tom said exasperated.

"Nope. Not at all. They are indigenous here and so they are effected.
But I'm afraid it's much worse than just a little starlight mis-refraction
from the heavens, Tom. The laws of physics inside this bubble of space
time have changed."

"I don't like the sound of that, Boothby." Paris asked, a little fearfully.
"Tell me what I don't want to hear."

"Well, for starters, natural fire isn't so natural anymore in some places
where it gets unintentionally ignited. That's the first thing I've noticed."
Boothby said. "Lightning's fine, so's the BBQ and the gas stove cooking
fire. But my guess is that any electrical fire will be pure plasma. Green
and all consuming. Once it starts, it'll keep on spreading and I sincerely
believe there's nothing inside this time pocket of ours that'll be able to
put it out again." Boothby said ominously.

"Oh, sh*t. That's great. Are we responsible for these changes?" Tom
asked about Chakotay and his shuttle accident.

"For once, no." Boothby told him. "The Borg were unintentionally responsible.
Somehow, when Voyager destroyed those two Borg Cubes their annihilation
backlash was augmented and sent through the wormhole behind Halley's
Comet with you and that is what warped the space time fabric a little off the
normal flat in this local area. I'm hoping the effects are temporary and will
wear off naturally over time returning the city and its surroundings back
into our, er.. your normal timestream of the past."

"Barclay said I wasn't on my Earth of the past."

"For all practical sense and purposes, you aren't. Everyone's living in a
side echo of the real 1976. Some natural laws are distorted here, just like
the soundwaves of an echo."

"The stars' untrue reflections, Halley's future tail echo that nobody thinks
unusual. And electricity... Oh, Boothby. What would happen if the hospital
were to try using anything directly electrical to treat someone?"

"How so?"

"They have devices for cardioversion that uses watt power. I saw one
in the rescue helicopter. They thought they were going to have to use
one on Chakotay when we first took off from that forest. What did they
call the thing? A defibrillator. That's it."

"Hmm, I don't really know, Mr. Paris. That's one thing I haven't had a
chance to observe yet in action for its potential effects."

Tom went silent with horror.::I'm not even going to go there:: he
thought, thinking of the consequences if the bad dice should roll.
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"First things first, we rendevous with the away team coming
to get you." Boothby told him, dragging him towards the stair
access that ran off the roof. "Where will that be?"

"Station 51. That's what I told Barclay's hologram."

"Good enough. And good placement. If one of those plasma
fires gets started somehow, you'll be the first one of our
company to know."

"Wait a minute, Boothby. If somebody were to die in one of
those plasma fires inside of this time pocket--." he began.

"..then they're gone from real time/space, too. Nothing is more
destructive than that kind of raw energy. It transcends time." the
wise alien surmised.

"...the heart of a star." Paris said.

"Or a comet.." Boothby remarked. "Come on, maybe they've
transferred Chakotay to recovery by now. I don't want to leave
him alone for long with these primitives."

"Oh, they're not so bad. Just human without all the bells and
whistles of home." Paris smiled as best as he could.

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Roy DeSoto was on the phone with Hank Stanley. "Yeah, Cap.
It was a pretty straight forward wilderness rescue. Shouldn't be any
inquiries coming at all. The man's doing fine. Isn't it great that we can
practice off duty now?"

He pulled the phone away from his ear at Cap's enthusiastic sarcasm
about more paperwork. ##Isn't it great that we don't get paid for
doing it? Not!## Then Cap sighed. ##Okay, all right. I'm over it. When
are you and Gage coming to pick up the rover? One of the Sierra guys
drove it into the yard fifteen minutes ago for ya, from camp, all packed

"They broke down our camp for us? That was nice. We owe them."

##No, you owe them. The fire department doesn't do good will supply
trade on off duty incidents. How's your victim doing by the way? I just
heard the transcript.##

"Recovering. Surgery went very slick from what I could gather. His friend
was really happy about that. Say listen, Cap. Would it be possible to
put him up for the rest of the night in the camper out back? He lost
everything while lugging his friend to help."

##Well, I don't know.## Hank sighed.

"He won't be in the station and it's just until daylight, when he can call his
superiors for a ride home."

##Do you trust him?##

"About as much as I can trust anybody I've only known for two days.
He's navy or military at the very least." DeSoto admitted.

##Okay, I'll vouch for that. But he's gone by lunchtime. The fire station is
county property and I'm stretching the rules a bit here.## Cap told Roy.

"Thanks, Cap. He's really tired. We'll take care of him for ya."

## You sure bet you are. The station's not the resident community shelter. Any food he eats. You buy.##

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Roy hung up the phone, pleased with himself.

Dixie started smiling. "What?"

"That was easier than getting a stray dog to stay at the station." Roy told her.

"Don't tell me. You and Gage are going to look after Mr. Military Worrywart."

"At the very least. Maybe Tom could stay at Gage's once we wear out Cap's
welcome at the station. It's just until their bosses can come and get them
officially. They're not from around here."

"What sweet guys, you two." Dixie cooed.

"Takes one to know one." Roy countered.

"I'm not a guy." McCall joked.

"No, but you are all sugar when it comes to caring for people."

"Thanks. But the trait's mutual I'll have you know."

Right then, Johnny Gage came whistling down the hall. "There you
are, Roy. Been looking all over for you. What's up?"

"The camper's up. For Tom Paris. Cap okayed an overnight."
DeSoto told him.

"But we have to go back and get our stuff." Johnny frowned.

"No we don't. The Sierra guys brought everything back for us.
Cap says the packed Rover's sitting in the yard already."

"What decent guys." Gage grinned. "Guess we owe em."

"That's what I think." Roy said.

"Okay, bunch of tickets for the game next month. Sound good?"
Johnny asked.


Dixie's phone rang. "Rampart Emergency, Nurse Dixie McCall."
She nodded. "I'll tell them." And then she hung up the phone.

"That was Dr. Early. Chakotay's awake and being transferred to
ICU for the night for monitoring. He's doing well, only an NG tube

"No kidding? He must work out." Johnny.

"There wasn't much to repair." Dixie shrugged.

Right then, Tom Paris came around the corner, looking more
frazzled then what the Rampart friends already knew was
customary. They didn't seem to notice the man pacing next to
him wearing surgical blue.

"I'll be in touch by payphone." Boothby told Paris.

"Thanks. For helping us out."

"It's my job, young man. Now go take care of the Prime Directive like
a good little Starfleet Federation boy." said the white haired not quite
a man, heading for an elevator.

Dixie spoke up. "Chakotay's awake and being settled in his room, Tom."

"Yeah, I know." Paris said distractedly, eyeing up all the security cameras
as if looking for something as he joined them and accepted a cup of coffee
from the blond haired nurse. "Thanks." he said, leaning on the desk.

Dixie frowned. "How'd you know? We were just told." she said, indicating
the phone.

"I recognized some of Chakotay's ortho team already out and about on
your ER floor here. They're chitchatting and it's not about business so I
figured they were done with Chakotay already." Paris said smoothly.

McCall relaxed. "You guessed right."

"Want to go see Chakotay? Visiting hours aren't quite over yet." Roy
suggested to Paris.

"Best thing I've heard all evening." he said seriously.

"Okay, I'm coming too." Gage said.

"Room 347." Dixie offered after looking at a chart Dr. Brackett had
left behind for her to update.

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Subject: Confession Is Good For The.....
From:  patti k (
Sent: Wed 4/21/10 12:15 AM

"Chakotay?" Tom Paris said, slowly peeking into the door of
his commander's patient room.

Roy and Johnny hadn't yet joined him for the visit, claiming
they had to check on some paperwork to resupply their
off duty first aid kit before they forgot.

Drowsy breathing met Tom's ears. But two glitters right
where eyes should be on a soft pillow suddenly appeared
in the beam of light from the hallway.

Walking softly, relieved to see consciousness, Tom pulled on
the string over Chakotay's bed to activate its night light.

"Hmmph.." Chakotay protested with a moan.

"Sorry. Want me to turn this light back off again?" Paris asked him.

"It's... okay. I just have some nasty side effects I'm dealing with
from the anesthetic and other things their doctors gave me." Then he
burped. Loud and long."Oh, that feels so much better."

Tom chuckled. "Don't tell me they got air in your stomach ventilating

"A little. But I remember the gal in Recovery who did it was very cute."
Chakotay joked. Then he laughed, which immediately turned into
a groan of pain at his incision site. He moved both hands over the
dressing carefully, splinting it with his fingers and lower arms.

"Ooo. Here." Tom offered, grabbing a pillow from a nearby bedstand
and offering it to Chakotay. "Hug this and press down if you're going to
laugh at our predicament. You're gonna need to even more when
you hear the rest of it. You'll never guess who's here. Come on, take
a stab at it."

"Don't make me guess. I'm a sick man." Chakotay smiled, knowing
that at least some of it would be good news.

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"You're not sick. You're hurt. Big difference." Tom scoffed. "Anyways.
It's Boothby."

"Boothby? He's here with us? In the past?"

"Turns out he's very long lived, Chakotay, a regular Rumplestiltskin type.
With a few frills. And I wouldn't put the Nexus as a surfboard idea past
him. He's a Listener."

"Like Guinan?" Chakotay sat up gingerly, very interested.

"Don't tell me you've heard of her. Why am I the only active duty crewman
in Starfleet who hasn't?"

"You only frequent French pool halls, not bars, Tom, that's why. Guinan's
strictly a starship barkeep."

"Sorry I hate synthehol." Tom snorted. "I prefer realism in my drink."

"But pure fantasy on the holodeck eh?" the commander grinned. Then
Chakotay closed his eyes, his mouth working unpleasantly. He
motioned for the puke basin with fast groping fingers.

Tom flailed around the ample nursing supplies around Chakotay's bed until
he found one. "Here.. Easy..." he said holding one up to Chakotay's mouth
while he supported his head. "Don't think you got anything left to come up
anymore. Ride it out. These are probably just dry heaves."

That fact turned out to be true and the nausea soon subsided a minute later.

"Oh.." Chakotay gasped as he laid back down again. "You don't happen to
have that hypospray still handy, do you?"

"It's near empty." Tom told him. Then he blinked. "Wait a minute, how did you
know I got you with a Borg cure on the sly?"

"I didn't. You just told me." Chakotay said tightly.

The temperature in the room fell ten degrees.

Tom blushed red to his very toes.

"What exactly happened out there while I was unconscious?" Chakotay ordered.
"Leave anything out and I'll make you eat my bedpan, lieutenant." he growled,
hefting up a silver, brightly polished, chrome steel one.

Tom was cowed for a second, but then his eyes bugged out as he let loose a fit
of laughter at the archiac thing brandished between them like a frying pan.
Paris threw on a very bad Cogney accent. "Can I offer ye the royal chamber pot,
milord? Had the maid rose wash it thrice just for yer lordship's pleasure."

Chakotay dropped the pan on his tablestand with a hurried clunk as he braced
himself against a sudden fit of eruptive giggles with Tom's hastily offered pillow.
"I'm gonna kill you.." he chuckled. "Owww! Just gimme another cure shot or
something. I know those numb up the guts real good, firsthand." he laughed
breathlessly, lost in drug and pain induced humor.

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"No way." Tom said, pulling away his knapsack protectively. "Those d*mned
nanoprobes might fix your alien sutures by eliminating them completely.
Then where would we be? Back to square one with you bleeding out again
like a stuck pig."

"Pilot turned medic. Think you know everything there is to know about sickbay,
huh?" Chakotay grinned, but finally agreeing to abstain from home's remedy.

"More than you, that's for sure. You are a little high, aren't you? Rage
to helpless mirth button active in seconds?" Paris analyzed, cheeky.

"Tom.." Chakotay barked, impatient. Then he laughed again, mad/amused.

"Okay, in a nutshell, commander." Tom said seriously. "Ready?"

"Yes." Chakotay said, hugging careful arms around his abdominal pillow.

As an added measure, Tom pressed a hand over Chakotay's stomach
through the pillow, too, before he spoke. "I melted the ship, Gage almost
became a Borg, Halley's Comet is an early show by at least ten years,
everything Einstein taught is proving to be absolutely wrong here,
and two of the bridge crew are gonna drop in to see us any hour
now because a holographic simulation of Pathfinder's Lt. Barclay,
told me so. How do you like them apples?" he asked, biting his lip.

"Uh.. The melting the ship part's all right. And the bit about two from Voyager
arriving." Chakotay said foggily. "But as for the rest? Let's see. I hate it?
Yeah, I really think I hate it." he demurred, sleepily.

"Thought you might say that. Well, at least I came clean with ya." he said,
waving there you go fingers in Chakotay's direction. "With the whole truth
as.. as... far as I know it." he said, releasing his hand from the pillow.

"Good boy." Chakotay peeped, his eyes mere cracks. Then he began
to snore around his nasogastric tube.

Smiling, Tom checked the flow of his I.V. and watched the EKG monitor
a while.


Roy DeSoto and Johnny Gage entered the room softly, about ten
minutes later.

"How's he doing?" Johnny said in a whisper, his fingers automatically
finding the radial pulse on one of Chakotay's wrists subconsciously.

Tom noticed, and nodded. "Napping for the most part."

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Roy read the chart at the foot of Chakotay's bed. "Smooth wakeup
so far." he remarked at the vital signs written there.

"Yeah. He was awake a few minutes ago."

"It says here that upper arm's gonna be fine. It was just a simple
break calling for only a standard cast job. No pins." DeSoto read a
little further.

Tom sighed. "Got the book." he said, gripping a copy of Chakotay's
records. "I filled him in on how he got here. But, I didn't tell him that I
haven't figured out where I'm going to stay the next few days until he
heals enough for discharge. I can't see Dixie letting me camp out here
at Rampart indefinitely." he said, glancing about the hospital room.

"Johnny and I fixed your little housing problem. At least, for the night."
Roy said.

"Oh?" Tom was surprised and appreciative.

"We'll bring you back to our fire station to sack out in our public event
camper. It's got a shower, a washer/dryer, its own stove, and even a
color TV set."

"Thanks. You guys didn't have to do that." Tom whispered as Chakotay
shifted over onto his unstitched side, in a drug induced sleep.

"Already done." Gage grinned and stage whispered right back. "We'll
spot you some dinner supplies. You can work that off by hanging some
hose tomorrow morning if we don't get any runs."

"Huh?" Paris said, looking up from Chakotay's sleeping face.

Roy just smiled and tapped the EKG monitor to a nonaudible mode.

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Subject: Curiouser And Curiouser..  
From: patti k (
Sent: Wed 4/21/10 10:04 PM

In the middle of the night, Chakotay startled awake at the sight of
a face hanging over his bed. Then he smiled with recognition.
"Oh, it's the Recovery Room girl." he teased.

"Nice to finally hear a voice to go along with these clear breathing
lungs, Chakotay." said Sharon Walters, smiling as she hung a
stethoscope back around her neck. "How's your tummy doing?
Think you need more morphine medicine?" she crooned.

"Don't tell me, you work in pediatrics." Chakotay grinned at her
expansively, sitting up and nodding congenially.

"Just started, how'd you guess?" Sharon asked, genuinely surprised.

"Your.... smock! You still have a dinosaur sticker on your pocket."
he lied. "My liver's okay, ma'am. Now that it's in one piece." he
admitted. "About the shot? Nah. I think I'm fine. I had some nausea
earlier, but that's gone." he told her.

"That was from all the blood you swallowed from a cut tongue
we found once we intubated you." she explained.

"I cut my tongue?" Chakotay said, probing a finger around his mouth

Sharon pulled his hand away. "Don't touch, you'll infect it." she
said. "It's on the left side if you're curious." Then Nurse Walters busied
herself pouring some hydrogen peroxide mint rinse into a metal basin.
"Speaking of which, it's time for a little oral hygiene so you'll be presentable
for guests. Can't have anesthesia breath wafting about the room.
That'd be rude." she emphasized, passionately amicable.

Chakotay chuckled, making sure he hugged his pillow. "You're too late,
they've already come and gone. Can't odor horrify my three. They're all
paramedics. Tom went off with Roy and Johnny I suspect, to get some sleep."

"He did. But please. For me. That tongue gouge really needs some antiseptic."
Miss Walters dangled, pouring her concoction into a glass for Chakotay to
use as a mouth rinse. She passed him the glass and an emesis basin to
use. Then she checked the suction pressure on the NG tube keeping
Chakotay's stomach free of acid buildup.

"Oh, that's the real reason? Okay, I promise." the commander chuckled.
"Oh, yes. I almost forgot. Mr. Paris told me to tell you sweet dreams, Mr.
Chakotay. And he told me I had to do this." She bent down and kissed him
lightly on the cheek.

Chakotay immediately blushed.
"Gee. That's so like him. He's such a kidder." the commander smiled,
embarrassed, touching his flaming face. ::I'm gonna kill him!:: his
brain declared.

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"Really? He seems so nice."

::That's an act.:: Chakotay thought quickly, unbidden. "He can be
when he wants to." he said out loud. ::Rarely.::

Sharon sighed, marking down the contents volume on the
collection cylinder before she took it away to clean out. "Oh.
I guess I don't know him well enough yet to decide for myself.
We have a date tomorrow."

"No-you-don't. ..Uh, ah, I mean, you do?" Chakotay asked,
hiding his shock and anger at the depth level with which
Tom was mingling with the locals.

"Oh, nothing really serious, sir. Just a chat over coffee.
'About the weather and this and that.' he said."

"I see."  ::That's better.:: "I.....hope you two enjoy yourselves."
Chakotay felt his face sag with weariness when he remembered
Tom's earlier confession.  "Tell me, Miss......" he fished.

"...Walters, Sharon Walters." she replied from where she was
working in the bathroom.

"Miss Walters. Has everything been... all right in the city? I mean
nothing happening beyond the usual?" he hinted, staring at the
glass full of swirling mouthwash that he was holding in his free hand.

"Same busy night as always in the ER I'm happy to say. Is that unusual?"
she said, returning with a new suction cylinder to place inside of its holder
on the wall.

"No. no. no. Just....wondering." Chakotay grinned. He was glad there weren't
any bizarre occurrences going on.  ::Yet.:: his conscience prickled annoyingly.

"Oh. Okay. Want the TV on? I'm sure if something weird happens, the
news'll catch it first." she suggested.

"That'd be fine, Sharon. Thanks." ::Great idea! I forgot about television.::
Chakotay thought happily.

"No problem." she said, finishing up a set of vital signs on him. Once they
were taken, she made her way over to the door after flicking a channel on.
"That one okay?" she asked, passing him the wired in remote.

"Good as any I guess. It's...uh, five." Chakotay shrugged, quickly reading off
the number chosen on the manual dial to cover himself neatly. He winced
when the motion pulled on his newly set broken arm.

"You sure you don't want another injection?" she asked again. "Dr. Brackett
okayed more if your discomfort's still too much."

"I want to be clear headed for now, because it looks like I've actually got a new
newspaper to read?" he said, just discovering one that had a posted note on it from
Boothby. 'Page Three B' it said. It immediately grabbed his attention.

"Yeah. Funny that. It wasn't there two hours ago."
Sharon blinked her mascara thick, smiling doe eyes at him.
"Just buzz the nurses station if you need anything. After we start you on
oral clears next hour, we'll be emptying your catheter bag." she said cheerfully.

Then she left.

"Catheter bag?" Chakotay frowned. A sudden horrible realization made him
lift up his blankets to take a look underneath. "OOoo.." he grimaced at what
he saw. Both the stitches and.. "More personal plumbing." he said, quickly
lowering them again. "At least I can't feel that." he remarked with relief.
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Chakotay took in a deep breath. "Okay, looking at the news from Boothby."
he sighed, rubbing his face around the NG tube to get his mind off the
two areas effected below his waist level.

Wetting his tube sore throat lightly with a sip of water, Chakotay pulled
himself together mentally and took care of promised business with the tooth
sponge and the mouthwash. Then he picked up a mysterious envelope
Boothby had left next to the sticky posted-note tagged newspaper that Sharon
couldn't and didn't notice, and opened it.

        'Chakotay. Don't worry about being Frankenstein caught in that web of tubes.
        You won't be for long. I'll tweak a few things that will enable your away
        team to reinitialize your emergency medical hologram.'

Chakotay's eyebrows went up. ::Tom's got the EMH's autonomous mobile
emitter on him? Terrific.:: he thought, celebrating with happy fingers drumming
on his bedside table. ::That'll cut my healing time to mere seconds.:: he beamed
in his mind.

Giggling, he smoothed out the crinkle rustled letter and began to read again. His new
smile, so quickly won, died.

      'Things are bad, Commander. Real bad. This whole region around Los Angeles is
       highly prone to raw plasma pocket extrusions, ignited by uncontrolled electricity.
       I've spotted no telltale ruptures anywhere as yet, but you and I both know that it's
       only a matter of time before one or more of these exo-energy fires starts.
       Nothing I've discovered in this time echo of ours so far, will be able to put one out.
       Humans from this era simply have no means to erect a deflector shield powerful
       enough to snuff one out inside a perfect vacuum.'

Chakotay grumbled. "What do you mean deflector shields? They haven't even
come up with warp technology yet, Boothby." he said to himself. "  'If they can
build shields..', isn't even part of the equation!" he said, exasperated.

      'The most dire situation shared and aside, I found an additional bit of disturbing
       information. See the newsie.  P.S. Dispose of this letter in water. It will dissolve.
       And don't worry. It's not poisonous. You can drink it afterwards.
                                 Ever the dirtless digger, Boothby.'

Chakotay hrrumphed at the signoff and did the deed, watching as the letter
fizzled away to nothing in a bedside pitcher of....::Aldeberan Nebula flowers?!:: he
startled. Squinting, he saw the holonote on them which read. "Get well soon.
Love, Project Pathfinder."  As soon as he tried to touch one of them, the hologram of
blooms died away into oblivion, becoming the yellow mums from Tom that they really
were.  ::Huh.:: he chuckled, finally smiling again. ::Now that was clever.:: he thought,
seeing a sudden odd light burn out inside the visual only camera lens keeping tabs
on him in his own ICU bed. ::But, getting stuck in a hospital four hundred years into
the past is still just as bad as being stuck in sickbay on Voyager.:: he decided.

Restless, but encouraged, Chakotay contented himself with surfing through the
TV channels. He got hooked on a show called Lost In Space in about thirty seconds.

He completely forgot about the newspaper he was clutching in his hands.
When it fell, lax, out of his fingers onto his lap, page 3B was exposed.

On it in bold headlines, was an old man of about seventy or so, yelling
and raining spittle, at his target, a reporter, in front of an antique fire museum.  

If Chakotay had actually looked at this hastily Boothby pen circled
face, he would have seen that the crazed old senior was actually.... Roy DeSoto.

A crooked ink arrow also ran up to part of the date in the corner of the newspaper.

The year, was still 1976.

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