Disclaimer: Paramount owns all. I’m borrowing.

Based loosely on the events of "Latent Image" with a touch of "Eye of the Needle" No real spoilers here.

"Essence of Reflection"

By Mindy

Kathryn walked out of the holodeck, rubbing her sore neck with her hand. She paused as the doors closed, using the arch as a leaning post. She rubbed her eyes, trying to vainly to get out the grainyness and the double images.

"No more 16 hour vigils," she muttered under her breath. She’d left her book of poetry in there on purpose, open to one in particular. She sighed heavily and started toward her quarters.

As she turned the corner, Kathryn’s ears picked up the sound of running. In a moment, Chakotay had come to stop and was in step with her.

"How’s our patient?"

"Still the same. But I think he’s beginning to understand."

Chakotay looked sidelong at her. The droopy eyes, fevered color in cheeks. She looked like she’d just run through a Federation training course and had tangled with every obstacle. Even her hair was tousled. He couldn’t help but ask her.

"How are you?"

"Do you really want to know?" Kathryn asked, smiling a tired smile.

"To tell you the truth, you look like you did some hand to hand combat with everything we’ve encountered out here," Chakotay offered as by way of explanation.

"I just don’t know, Chakotay. I thought at the time we were doing the right thing and now—I don’t know." The had arrived at Kathryn’s quarters. She reached up and keyed in the sequence. "Care to come inside?"

"For a few minutes. You need to sleep," Chakotay said, following her inside. She went over and collapsed into her recyliner.

"You remember when Walter Baxter was in sickbay all the time?"

"Sure. He took ‘chance’ to a new level," Chakotay said, sitting on her couch.

"Kes came to me, asking about the happiness of members of our crew. I thought she meant Neelix and herself—that their needs weren’t being met." Kathryn folded her legs up beneath her, conspicuously missing her boots. "She meant the doctor. Kes was concerned because people treated him as if he weren’t there, talking about him while he stood beside them—ignoring, insulting him. I told her that I had heard the other side of the coin; that he was brusque, rude and that his bedside manner was lacking. I even mentioned that were thinking about reprogramming him." She let out a little laugh that sounded tired. "She said that didn’t seem right, reprogramming him. That he was alive, self aware, communitive; that he had the ability to learn. That because he was a hologram, he had no right to be treated with respect, or any consideration at all."

Chakotay watched her, measuring what she was telling him. She shook her head briefly.

"I went to talk to him not long after that conversation. I asked him what he needed—wanted."

"And what did he say?" Chakotay prompted.

"Simply that he wanted to be shut down when people left. He hated it because they’d forget and he’d be on for hours with nothing to do. Or they would shut him off without seeing if he were in the midst of something important. I gave him control over that."

"And from that point on, we saw him as something more then a combination of projection and light—we’ve been considering him a part of this crew," Chakotay added.

"He was excited over his new found freedom. The first time we transferred him to the holodeck and when we kept his holo-emitter. He has learned, as Kes had said, so much." Kathryn ran a hand over her face. "He’s been more then we could have hoped for. He communicated to Starfleet. He’s saved us from ourselves."


Kathryn looked at Chakotay, weighing her words carefully. "Was I wrong, eighteen months ago when I deleted those files? Seven came in here. She basically gave me the same argument as Kes did four years ago. Only with her Borg eyes." Kathryn sighed and studied her hands. "How much do we take him for granted? He’s been asking ethical questions for a while now. Was it a simple matter of deleting what we thought was damaging?"

"Kathryn, you made a decision, based on what was happening at the time. You can’t be expected to make the right decision all the time."

Kathryn turned her body slightly from him. "Chakotay, it isn’t that simple. I took away his memory of something that we didn’t want to deal with. I took away B’Elanna’s right to not be operated on by a Cardassian hologram. I took away Neelix’s choice to just die. I took away Seven from the collective. Am I so selfish that I need to save everyone?"

"It’s not selfish in the least. Remember when we were in Hirogen territory and Seven thought she’d been violated. The doctor was so happy at being able to know what he thought was going on that he finally realized in the end, his purpose to find a reason behind the visions could have perhaps condemned and killed an innocent man. Tell me, Kathryn; what did he ask of you?"

Kathryn looked at Chakotay and saw behind the words. "He asked me to delete the subroutine that he’d added with the psychological abilities. That he’d done more harm then good."

Chakotay reached across and took one of her hands. "And what did you tell him?"

"That I wouldn’t do it. That it was an opportunity for him to learn from his mistakes." Kathryn shifted her eyes toward Chakotay. "So, in essence, I gave him the ability to learn from his mistakes, but I denied him the ability to debate ethical decisions. God, I’m such a hypocrite."

Chakotay squeezed her hand and let go and rose. "Then you have your answer. What happened before you left?"

"I’d fallen asleep. The next thing I knew, he’d woken me up. And Chakotay, he was concerned. He thought I was ill. He wanted to help me."

"So, given the chance, the reflection of himself was still there. That inside, he’d need to debate this for himself. A battle that only he can come to decision too."

Chakotay turned and looked down at her. Kathryn had fallen asleep. He debated to himself, then bent over and picked her up. Her head fell against his shoulder and he looked at her face. Peace was there. She laid her down gently and took the extra blanket from a chair and put it over her. He dimmed the lights and left her quarters.

"The measure of man isn’t a pale copy of the original," he thought. "The measure of a man is in the essence of his reflection. He can never exceed the picture of the whole, however, he can’t stop striving for the right combination."


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