Compadres


     People keep asking us if Tom's memory comes between us.  Chakotay
would say no.  It's closer to "yes and no."  He doesn't call out Tom's
name and he stopped comparing us a long time ago.  But, sometimes, when
we make love, I see Tom's ghost out of the corner of my eye.  He's
grinning.  He always has, even the first time.

     It began a year since Tom's shuttle had crashed.  Kathryn was just
married to Jack from Botany.  We were still calling her "captain" then. 
Don't tell her, but that's still I how think of her most of the time. 
Anyway, Harry and B'Elanna were planning their own wedding over dinner
in the mess hall.
     "Okay, sweetheart.  We know when we want to get married." Harry
nodded.
     "Yes, and we've reached a decent compromise on the ceremony and
the food, thanks to Neelix."
     Neelix loves to plan weddings.  Because of him, everyone who's
ever married on Voyager has a couple of dried Talaxian wedding garlands
somewhere.   It doesn't seem like a wedding without them now.
     "Now all that's left is where."  B'Elanna began to list the
possibilities.  For some reason, she included the engineering core.  We
all laughed at that one.
     Then Harry became serious.  "Sandrine's.  I want to get married in
Sandrine's."
     No one said a word for a long time.  I could feel them not looking
at Chakotay.  He apparently could, too.
     "Why Sandrine's?  That's Tom's program.  We haven't been there
since the accident."
     Harry nodded.  "That's why.  If Tom were alive, he'd be the
swordbearer.  If we use Sandrine's, it's as if we've invited a part of
him to our wedding.  And it's time we went back."
     "I agree.  Let's go there now."  Chakotay stood up, took his tray
to the kitchen area and left the room.  We all followed.  
     He'd waited for us to join him before calling up the program on
the Holodeck.  Did his voice crack a little at the word "Paris"?  If it
did, it was barely noticeable.  Even then I noticed everything about
him.  
     It was surprisingly hard to walk into the smoky bar.  There they
all were, the people Tom had created to remind him of his friends in
Marseilles.  For two years, this program had been almost permanently on
this holodeck.  We'd gathered there after shifts, played pool and other
games, flirted with the holocharacters and each other and had parties. 
Then Tom died.
     Sandrine greeted everybody as usual.  She seemed surprised at the
crowd.  Then she began looking around.  She was looking for Tom.  No one
had told her or the others what had happened.
     I know it seems odd to worry about telling something to a
holocharacter, but we on Voyager had developed flexible ideas about
personhood.  Our ship's doctor was a hologram and he was a part of the
crew.  
     The captain went to Sandrine and touched her arm, but Chakotay
stopped her.  
     "It's my place to say this, Kathryn."  She nodded and stepped
back.
     "What is it, mon cher?  Have you and Thomas had a fight so soon
before the wedding?"
     He shook his head.  "Sandrine, can you access the current
stardate?  Find out how long it's been since we've enjoyed your
establishment?"  Sandrine nodded.  Her eyes widened.
     "A year?  Why have you not been here for a year?  Thomas would not
do that to us."
     "No, he wouldn't.  Sandrine, everyone...Tom's dead."  Chakotay
told them how Tom had died.
     "C'est bien.  He would not have wanted to die any other way.  It's
sad that it didn't happen much later."  The other holocharacters nodded.
     "But he would not want you to mourn.  I am right, no?"  We
couldn't deny tha