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We're both in bare feet. She's sitting on the floor, leaning up against the couch that I'm sprawled across. We are reading reports. Ironically enough, we work more efficiently than we did before we were involved. Just being able to get completely comfortable and relax without the distraction of our unresolved feelings has made all the difference.

On the surface, she seems much better today, but I know that it's just because we are busy - we have a lot of work to catch up on. I know that when things quiet down, her troubling thoughts will return. But we have been at this for hours now, and I can't suppress a sigh.

"What's the matter, is it a poorly-written report?" she asks, with a slight smile. "Must be one of 'your' people . . "

It is an old joke - just between the two of us - her teasing me about the superiority of 'her' Starfleet crew at anything from report writing to volleyball. Happy with the brief respite, I banter back, "It's B'Elanna's Engineering report, and there isn't a thing wrong with it - I just can't see straight anymore." I peer over her shoulder, "What are you reading?"

"The Shuttle Maintenance report," she replies, "impeccably written in perfect Starfleet format. I can ALWAYS tell when it's one of mine."

"Ensign Phillips?" I ask, suspiciously.

"Mmm-hmm," she replies, absently, continuing to read.

I look over at her, trying to see if she is kidding.

"Kathryn, Phillips was one of mine."

Stunned silence. Then she smacks her forehead with the palm of her hand and turns towards me, incredulous.

"That's right! I forgot, Chakotay!" She is as surprised as I am, and also a little embarrassed. "How could I have forgotten?"

"It's all right, Kathryn," I tell her, "It's been so many years now . . . I think it's kind of nice, actually, that the line has become so indistinct."

She leans her head back against the couch cushion, and for a few minutes, we are silent - both lost in the memories of our earliest days in the Delta Quadrant. My mind wanders farther back - to my numbered days as Maquis Captain on the Liberty.

"Kathryn?"

"Hmm?" She has closed her eyes, and put down her PADD, which is always a good thing.

"Have you ever wondered how the Maquis crew was able to adapt so readily to serving aboard Voyager?"

She smiles wryly, but keeps her eyes closed. "I always assumed that it was some combination of my brilliant leadership and your complete selflessness."

"Well, that too," I say, with a grin. "But, actually, Tuvok had a lot to do with it."

"Tuvok?!" Her eyes open.

I smile. Now I know that I have her undivided attention, so I begin my tale. . .


The Dictates of Logic
by Mary Wiecek


Dedication: For my Danny, who sees a 'cloud house' where others see a concrete observation tower.

* * *

Tuvok studied the situation and considered his options. There did not seem to be many. The Maquis group that he had infiltrated had responded to a distress call from a moon in the DMZ. The small Bajoran outpost had been attacked by a Cardassian raiding party. He had beamed down with Chakotay - the Maquis Captain, Torres and Phillips. Upon their arrival, they had found several bodies and only two dazed survivors, a woman and her son. They had assumed that other members of the colony had been taken as prisoners. There were no ships in sensor range, so they had also assumed that the Cardassians had left the system.

But then three Cardassian soldiers had ambushed them. In the ensuing chaos, Tuvok had been separated from the other Maquis. He'd watched as Chakotay, Torres and Phillips were overpowered, bound and thrown into a small shack. He no longer had a weapon - it had been lost in his efforts to find cover. Two of the Cardassian soldiers were standing by the entrance of the shack, with weapons drawn, while the third was questioning the Bajoran woman survivor. No one seemed to be looking for him, and he suspected that the Cardassians did not know that they had missed someone.

Tuvok was uncertain as to how Starfleet would want him to proceed at this point. The Maquis' original mission here had been a humanitarian one, but now that the Cardassians were directly involved, he felt certain that Starfleet would want him to remain neutral and uninvolved if at all possible. He couldn't signal the Maquis ship, the Liberty, and he believed it likely that it had been surprised as well, and was currently engaged in combat.

He decided that he would remain hidden for now. If the Liberty managed to send down a rescue party, he could claim that he had been rendered unconscious in the original attack, and continue his undercover mission. If the Maquis were defeated, he would have to identify himself to the Cardassians and have them confirm his story and return him to Deep Space Nine, the nearest Federation facility.

From Tuvok's vantage point among some rocks and scraggly shrubs on a small rise, he could see and hear the Cardassian questioning the bound Bajoran woman. His voice was calm and reasonable, almost friendly. He wanted to know if there were any other colonists, and where they might be concealed. Tuvok had been extensively trained as a security officer in Starfleet and was an expert in the art of interrogation. He could tell immediately, judging by the woman's frightened and direct responses, that she knew nothing. He was certain that the Cardassian knew this as well, and anticipating the end of the questioning, remained alert to whatever changes would occur.

Tuvok's attention was drawn to the Bajoran boy, also bound at the wrists, who stood near his mother, but seemed oblivious to her distress. He appeared to be approximately seven standard years of age - old enough so that he should have been frightened under the circumstances. Instead, he stood fidgeting - his mind seemed to be elsewhere. He was talking to himself - completely focused within. It was obvious to Tuvok that the boy had some type of developmental disorder.

The boy reminded him of his own child, Elieth, his youngest son, who had been born with a synaptic dysfunction. He had never been able to process his thoughts properly, had never been able to grasp the dictates of logic. On Vulcan, such children were not shunned, for it would not be logical to hold them responsible for the way that they had been born. With appropriate guidance and training, Elieth's creative and artistic abilities had flourished, and now, as an adult, he was an accomplished musician. But raising Elieth had been extremely difficult for Tuvok, and had required more patience and understanding than he seemed to possess at times.

Tuvok returned his attention to the interrogation when he noticed a change in the Cardassian's tone and demeanor. It was clear that the woman knew nothing, yet the Cardassian continued to harass her. His voice had become subtly threatening. Tuvok could see no purpose to the Cardassian's actions - there was nothing more to be gained from questioning this woman. It was not logical.

The Cardassian turned abruptly to the boy. "What is wrong with him?" Tuvok heard him snidely ask the woman. He could not make out her response, but he tensed as the Cardassian circled the child, smiling in a manner that even a Vulcan could see was insincere. He began speaking to the boy - taunting him. Asking him rhetorical questions, such as "How do you suppose I might get your mother to be a little more cooperative?" The two Cardassians who were guarding the shack laughed. The boy merely cocked his head, and smiled uncertainly, clearly confused.

Tuvok began to survey the immediate area, looking for something that he might use as a weapon. He knew that technically he should not interfere, but the Cardassian soldier was not behaving in a rational manner, and he was beginning to think that he might have a moral obligation to assist the woman and her son. He was certain that Captain Janeway would agree, and would support his decision to Starfleet, if need be.

He heard the woman say, her voice shaking, "Please, he knows nothing - leave him alone!"

At this, the Cardassian became enraged. He moved threateningly towards her and shouted directly into her face, "YOU are in no position to make requests. WHERE ARE THEY?"

The woman began to cry, "There's no one left! There's no one!"

The shouting was agitating the boy, who began to moan incoherently, and moved toward his mother in fear and uncertainty. The Cardassian spun around and kicked the boy savagely. The boy shrieked and crumpled to the ground, holding his leg in anguish.

Tuvok spotted a stretcher that the Maquis had brought down lying nearby and moved toward it quickly. He could not allow this to continue. He removed one of the straps and determined that it was of adequate heft and length to be used as a makeshift ahn-woon. He made his way down the small hill rapidly, moving from the cover of one shrub to another. There was no need for careful stealth, as the events unfolding below were loud and distracting.

The boy was sobbing and had a stunned expression on his face. Clearly, he had never before been exposed to this kind of cruelty. The Cardassian was shouting, "SHUT UP!" at the boy, again and again. From the open window of the shack in which the Maquis had been confined, Tuvok could hear Chakotay trying in vain to reason with the Cardassians. Torres was swearing in both Klingon and Standard. Tuvok noted absently that he was unfamiliar with several of the epithets.

The woman was screaming frantically now, a piercing sound, and the Cardassian had a disruptor trained on the boy. He was shouting, "SHUT UP, OR I WILL KILL HIM." The boy continued to sob loudly, and the Maquis were still shouting desperately from the shack. Tuvok knew without a doubt that in the chaos, the Cardassian would kill. He sprung out from behind a large rock at the base of the hill, spinning the ahn-woon over his head. Before the Cardassian could react, Tuvok released one end of the makeshift bola and wound it around the Cardassian's legs. As the Cardassian fell to the ground heavily, he leveled his disruptor at Tuvok's head. But he never got the chance to fire, as with two sharp and perfectly placed blows, Tuvok broke his neck. As a Vulcan, he preferred the path of peace, but when given a motive, he was capable of killing, logically and efficiently. Taking the Cardassian's weapon, Tuvok fired in rapid succession at the two soldiers guarding the shack. They never even had the opportunity to draw. Had the weapon been set on stun, their lives would have been spared, but that was not the case. Tuvok did not experience any remorse.

The ensuing silence was palpable in contrast to the earlier confusion. Tuvok knelt beside the boy, who was now rocking back and forth on his knees, wide-eyed with shock. Unbinding the boy's hands, Tuvok quickly assessed that the boy was bruised, but otherwise uninjured, at least physically. Looking directly into his eyes, Tuvok took both of the child's hands and moved them gently until they were clasped with the index fingers extended and touching. This meditation technique had always calmed and centered Elieth. Placing two of his fingers on the boy's temple, Tuvok cautiously touched his mind - just a brush of contact, of reassurance. Slowly the boy's eyes began to really focus on Tuvok's face. After a moment, he tilted his head quizzically, smiled and gingerly reached out and touched Tuvok's ear. Tuvok nodded, satisfied. He knew that the boy would be resilient - children such as him, and Elieth, were stronger than most people would expect.

Tuvok quickly set about the business at hand, unbinding the woman, and then moving to the shack to release the Maquis.

"We thought you'd been killed!" Torres exclaimed.

"Thank God you were able to come when you did," Chakotay added, gratefully, looking over towards the woman, who now sat, crying quietly, holding her son. "I've haven't felt that helpless in. . .in a long time." Tuvok nodded in acknowledgement, noting the haunted tone of the Maquis Captain's voice.

At that moment, they were hailed by the Liberty, which had indeed been engaged by a small Cardassian vessel. The Cardassian's had retreated for the moment, so they quickly beamed aboard and left the DMZ, bringing along the two survivors.

~*~

They returned the woman and her son to Bajor, where they had family - Tuvok accompanied them to the transporter room. Just before they beamed down, the boy reached for Tuvok. He was unable to articulate it, but Tuvok understood that he wanted to feel the connection again. So, once more, Tuvok touched the boy's thoughts and imparted to him a simple Vulcan blessing, 'Walk in peace.' The boy was still smiling when they dematerialized.

Later, Tuvok sat in the mess hall of the Maquis ship, eating his evening meal in solitude, as was his custom. He wanted to spend some time in quiet contemplation of the events of the day, but was unable to concentrate. Some of his Maquis shipmates were sitting at a nearby table. He had observed that they seldom ate in silence, and this night was no different. The topic of conversation was the Cardassians, and the tone was angry.

"That Cardassian PIG enjoyed tormenting that poor boy!" Torres spat, slamming her glass down on the table.

"They're all like that!" Dalby replied. "They don't have any morals."

"How can an entire species be so sadistic?" Phillips asked.

"The entire species is not sadistic." The quiet voice came from another table where Chakotay was sitting, immersed in the latest intelligence reports. Tuvok noted that, as always, when Chakotay spoke, the Maquis settled and listened to him respectfully.

"Rank and file Cardassians are not very much different from any of us," Chakotay continued, "but aggressive behavior and arrogance are rewarded in their military system. The ones who rise to the upper echelons tend to be intelligent, manipulative and often, unfortunately, cruel without remorse."

"Indeed." Tuvok interjected suddenly. All of the Maquis turned to look at him in some surprise. He generally kept to himself, both because it was his preference and because he did not wish to jeopardize his undercover mission. This time he felt compelled to join the conversation, however, because Chakotay's observation was one that he had made as well.

"It is not logical to encourage such erratic and irrational behavior in your top military personnel," Tuvok continued. "And it is why I am certain that the Cardassian Empire will not be able to ultimately maintain their power in this quadrant."

Several of the Maquis murmured their assent and gradually began conversing among themselves again. But Chakotay's eyes remained locked on Tuvok from across the room. Tuvok raised his eyebrows and Chakotay smiled and nodded slowly at him in acknowledgement.

As Tuvok returned his attention to his meal, he considered what had just transpired and realized that he was beginning to respect this Maquis Captain. Tuvok still did not approve of the Maquis - he believed that Starfleet's Cardassian treaty, while flawed, was the approach that had the best chance of success. But if the events of the day were any indication, he could see how the dictates of logic may not always be adequate in the DMZ - could see how the line between wrong and right could become blurred. And while he still did not agree with this man, Chakotay, for the first time he was beginning to understand him, and his mission.

* * *

I suddenly notice that she is beside me. While I was talking, she must have climbed up onto the couch. I take her hand and we sit together quietly - I give her time to reflect on the story before I speak again.

"I had never gotten a 'feel' for Tuvok in those days on Liberty - certainly didn't have any idea why he was there. Back then, I was happy to get whatever help I could, and I didn't ask as many questions as I should have. But that night, there was definitely a connection between us. I respected him after that - I trusted him, and so did the other Maquis. And even after I found out that he'd been a spy on my ship, I remembered this incident, and I knew that I had seen inside Tuvok, just a glimpse. I knew that we really weren't all that different. The other Maquis felt the same way about him. We were all angry when we found out that he had been planning to betray us to the Federation, but there was a deference there as well - because we had already accepted him on a very basic level."

"He told me some of this story, actually," she says, "just a few days after I destroyed the array. Turned himself in, so to speak. I told him that he'd done the right thing, and that I would support him with Starfleet, although I don't think that would really have been necessary. But he didn't mention the Bajoran boy, although I know all about Elieth, of course."

"I'm not really surprised that he didn't mention the boy," I say. "I think that he had a soft spot in his Vulcan heart for that boy. He knew that you would see that."

She nods her head, still lost in thought.

"Actually, I saved the best part of this story for last." I say, and she looks at me expectantly. "I had finally gotten to my feet in that shack, and made my way over to the window. So I saw him break that Cardassian's neck, and fire at the other two. When it was over, he was beside that boy in an instant. I watched him move the boy's hand into the Vulcan meditation position, and I saw him touch the boy's forehead. I knew that he was touching his mind, and I knew what an intensely personal thing that is for a Vulcan. It wasn't something that he had to do. And here's the thing. The boy reached up and touched Tuvok's ear, and I saw Tuvok smile."

She looks at me in disbelief. "Tuvok does NOT smile," she says, dubiously.

"Oh, he denied it, too, when we discussed this incident later," I say. "But I know what I saw. I was looking right at his face. I saw gentle affection in his eyes, and I saw a very small, but unmistakable smile. And I'll never forget it, either. Because it was so unexpected, it was one of the warmest, most beautiful things that I have ever seen."

At this, Kathryn smiles too - and there are tears in her eyes. And I know that tonight, I have reached her. Because this isn't the kind of smile that she flashes on the bridge - the smile that is a part of her command persona. And it isn't even the kind of smile that she gives me in our lighter teasing moments. This is the lopsided, tearful smile that comes from her heart - the smile that I fell in love with. And in a month like this one, when she feels the weight of the entire quadrant on her shoulders, this smile is also a rare and beautiful thing to see.




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