By Jemima Pereira (
© November 2000
Codes: J/CCodes: J/hologram, C/hologram
Rating: PG-13
Series: Star Trek: Voyager

The whole sleeping-with-holograms thing gets out of hand.

My Janeway, Chakotay and EMH would never be allowed near a Paramount starship.

Thanks to Anne for betaing while Jade was away. Many references to "Fair Haven" and "Repression", also "Spirit Folk".

for Yael

Janeway found herself in a holosuite which happened to be free, editing a program the EMH had recommended years before. Before her fling with Michael, she had refused point-blank to consider holographic sex. The Doctor had given her access to this program anyway, just in case she ever changed her mind. It was part of the standard medical database, he said - filed away under 'sex therapy', she assumed.

It was nothing special - a crew cabin, sparsely furnished, with a viewport showing nondescript stars. She made the bed a little bigger and softer. She made the man a little taller and stockier. She deleted the audio and cut the lights. She took off her boots, lay down on the bed and wondered how it had come to this.

She had tried to take the Doctor's advice about Michael Sullivan, but in the end things hadn't worked out. They stayed friends, of course, if you could be friends with someone who didn't exist when you weren't there - that had been one of the difficulties of their relationship once Fair Haven stopped running 24/7. But her boyfriend's real complaint had been, "you're the captain of a starship. I'm a barkeep." She had made him curious, but she had forgotten to remove the prejudices of five hundred years ago. In the end he decided he didn't want to date a woman who outranked him. Ah, well; at least she'd always have the irony.

For her part, her original complaint to the EMH still stood. Fair Haven was just an illusion. Never mind that she didn't change Michael anymore; deep down, she knew she had made him and could unmake him just as easily. She was in a position of too much power, just as she would have been had she gotten involved with one of her crew. She'd be better off dating the EMH himself - as Chief Medical Officer, he had a sort of independence... She shuddered; that train of thought was going the wrong way fast.

She turned her reflections back to the good times. It had been a beautiful illusion; she'd thrown herself into it as into a holonovel or da Vinci's workshop. Always having been a serious person, and often a glum one, she hadn't imagined that love could be such a bright and uncomplicated recreational activity. How fine to play at romance, like two teenagers in love with the idea of love itself! But then it turned serious, at least on his side. That was how she'd ended up sleeping with a hologram on the shores of a photonic lake. He saw she was upset afterwards, and offered to do the right thing by her, "though I didn't think you were a religious girl, Katie."

She hadn't seen it coming, not at all. For one thing, holoprograms that were open to the public were supposed to be rated PG. There were children aboard, after all. The characters weren't supposed to try to seduce anyone, never mind succeed. She would have run Tom out of town on a rail for it, but she was the real problem. Sure, people slept with holograms on purpose, but who'd ever heard of being seduced by one by accident? She couldn't exactly go and complain to Tom about the rating after that.

Fortunately, everyone interpreted the affair the other way; even Chakotay smiled at her holo-toy. That was very, very fortunate for her. Embarrassing as the cover story was, the truth was worse, and Chakotay was the last person she wanted to find out.

And of course Michael had to go climb a tree and make even more problems. It was no use explaining to your malfunctioning boyfriend that as much as you enjoyed being in love with him, he wasn't supposed to love you in return - not really love you, anyway. So she'd taken the Doctor's advice instead, giving it that old Starfleet try, and in the end the independent-minded Michael had thrown her over.

She didn't miss Michael, not that way, and she'd never been the hot and bothered type before. Her latest problem, whatever it was, had started during the mutiny. Chakotay had come to the brig once, alone, and just stared into her cell. She couldn't quite read his eyes, but she had the feeling that the only thing between her and a very non-holographic encounter was the force field. He stood there for a full ten minutes, then left again, never having said a word.

It shook her. Her feelings for Chakotay were something she'd killed and buried a long, long time before, covering them over with turf and setting up a nice tombstone. She stopped by with flowers every now and again. Besides, she could have sworn his were six feet under in the neighboring plot - nowadays it was just a little flirtation and a lot of friendship, wasn't it? Sure it was.

Afterwards she tried to convince herself she'd taken the stare the wrong way, that Chakotay had only come to contemplate having Tuvok blow her away with a phaser. He had regressed to a time before they knew one another and thus had no reason to take an interest in her, least of all that kind of interest. Still, it bothered her. He'd apologized profusely for the mutiny, the phaser incident, so many things - but he'd never mentioned that scene. Nor had she.

Things had changed between them. She invited him over for dinner, but he either made excuses or derailed the meal into the messhall. She smiled and chatted, but she didn't touch him anymore. She'd tried it once, just once, and felt a power surge in her hand like a phaser set very low. She'd brushed against him accidentally today and felt the same thing. That's what had finally pushed her over the edge. She couldn't take the sexual tension anymore, not like she could in those first few years - it was driving her crazy.

For her own part, she would have chosen insanity, but she couldn't endanger the ship just because use of the holodeck this way was...embarrassing. Better to get it over with now. She stood up, and began to get undressed, staring out the faux viewport all the while.

"Computer, begin program."

"Privacy lock engaged," the computer's tinny voice responded, as she heard the swish of the door and the sound of footsteps crossing the room.

She dropped her uniform jacket and turned around, but it was too dark to see anything besides a faint outline advancing towards her. The starlight glittered off a comm badge. She backed away, but the cabin bulkhead was only a few steps behind her. The hologram pinned her against the bulkhead and kissed her. She thought she could feel photons burning her skin as she kissed it back passionately. Passionately?

The hologram broke away and stood still for a moment, almost as if it were lost in thought, though she was fairly certain it hadn't been programmed to think. Being designed for a specific purpose by a more professional holoprogrammer than Tom Paris, it kissed much better than Michael. She heard herself breathing heavily and silently cursed her subconscious for giving yet another hologram Chakotay's proportions. That wasn't the way to solve her problem. And now she couldn't go through with this.

--the sound of footsteps--

It was walking away - so it had the same doubts. Another hologram breaking up with her, and so soon?

"Computer, freeze program," she said, and walked over to stand in front of it, considering its shadowy outline the way it had considered her. Well, she wouldn't sleep with it, but she could kiss it goodbye. It was a good kisser, and she got as little of that as of the other.

"Computer, resume program." She advanced until she could feel its photons again. "Don't go," she said.

On an impulse, she lifted her hand to the nameless hologram's temple and traced the imaginary outline of a familiar tattoo, then moved her hand to the back of its neck and kissed it.

--the swish of the doors--

She woke up at the soft noise and sat straight up in bed. "Computer, lights." There was no response. She saw stars in the viewscreen, but it was on the wrong side of her bed. Then she remembered this wasn't her bed. What had come over her?

"Computer, end program." The room retained its photonic reality around her. She felt a chill on her bare skin. "Computer, arch." The arch appeared, and she searched for her clothes in the dim light of the control panels. She glanced at the frozen controls briefly on her way out of the holodeck, sighing as she realized she'd just been seduced by another malfunctioning hologram. It was too pitiful for words.

She stopped by sickbay on her way back to her quarters. She hesitated outside a moment - how would she explain to the Doctor that she'd broken his holodeck program? She wasn't going to mention the seduction part, that was for sure.

--the swish of the doors--

"How can I help you, Captain?"

"Your program is malfunctioning."

"Shall I run a full diagnostic on myself?"

Janeway laughed. "Sorry, Doctor - I meant your holodeck program."

The Doctor's face froze for ten milliseconds, fortunately not long enough for a human to notice. "Which one?"

"EMH 5."

Several of the EMH's subprocesses died. It took only microseconds to start them again and access the proper one. "Have a seat and I'll examine you."

"I'm fine, Doctor. The program wouldn't shut down when it was over, that's all." Yes, I'm cool, she meant; I sleep with holograms and it doesn't mean a thing. I'm just like everybody else.

She looked a little pale, but not visibly upset. He thought it best not to push her for now. "Have you ever run it before?" he asked.


"Well, I'll look into it and see what the problem is. Stop by tomorrow."

"I just wanted to let you know," she demurred. It's cool. Really. I am not going crazy, and I am definitely not thinking about him--it.

"I may need your help to determine what went wrong."

"Fine," she agreed, obviously not pleased, and turned to leave.

--the swish of the doors--

The EMH noted her hesitation on the threshhold. She'd been under a lot of stress lately, and who knew what had just happened to her?

He suspected someone did. Sinking into a chair as the door closed behind her, he tapped into the holomatrix of Holodeck 2 and found it was worse than he'd thought.

He was still in the sonic shower, banging his head against the wall, when the door chime rang. "Come," he shouted, wondering whether it was her or Tuvok. "I'll be out in a minute." He was still reaching for the towel when the EMH appeared at his bathroom door.

"Don't bother; I've seen it all before," the Doctor announced.

Chakotay sagged back against the shower wall.

"I'd like to know what just happened on Holodeck 2," the hologram said in his most even tone, its precision cutting the air like a knife.

The Commander groaned before answering, "After you said it wasn't reserved, I went straight to the holodeck. EMH 5 was loaded but not running. I assumed you had loaded it for me."

--the swish of the doors--

"I walked in. She was there, getting undressed."

"You thought she was a hologram," the Doctor contributed neutrally.

"At first. Until she spoke - then I knew it was her."

In the too-bright lights of the bathroom, the EMH's face darkened. Chakotay could read an ugly word there, a word that had figured prominently in the imaginary conversation he'd been having with Tuvok over and over in his head as he banged it against the shower wall.

He sank to the floor of the sonic shower and said softly, "I thought she knew...she seemed to know it was me. Something in my head just snapped, Doc. You know I haven't been well." He buried his face in his hands.

That's why he'd sent the Commander into that program - lingering effects of the mind meld on his mental state. He'd forgotten that the Captain also had access to EMH 5. He must have walked in on her just as she started the program, and the matrix had...adapted, as the Borg say.

"Were you violent?"

"Not particularly."

"Did she protest?"


"Why did you alter the program?"

"When I came to my senses, I realized she hadn't known it was me - that she was just...pretending. I thought she'd be better off not knowing the truth, so I deleted most of the program. Not so much that she couldn't find out if she tried, though. I saved the logs for Tuvok's case against me."

The hologram relaxed a bit - it wasn't as bad as he'd thought. "So you're not going to tell her?"

"Should I?"

The EMH gave it some thought. Chakotay had been right, he reflected sadly. He was dangerous. And she was a menace, and the pair of them were bound and determined to destroy themselves in the name of protocol. But the ship couldn't spare them.

"No," he answered. "I think she's under enough stress right now as it is. Are you on duty tomorrow morning?"


"Then I want you to take her shift. Are you up to it?"

Chakotay nodded and asked, "Are you going to tell Tuvok for me?"

"I don't think Tuvok needs to know. I may have to report the incident to the Starfleet Medical inquiry board, but I won't mention any names." He'd never practice sex therapy in the Alpha Quadrant again after this little boondoggle. "Just try not to be alone with her."

He nodded. The EMH left; the human remained on the bathroom floor, idly tapping his head against the wall.

She woke up and sat bolt upright. The chronometer read 1030 hours.

"Janeway to the bridge."

"Yes, Captain," Chakotay answered.

Well, at least it wasn't another mutiny - or if it was, it was a more polite one.

"What are you doing up there? This is my shift."

"Doctor's orders - he said you needed the rest. Chakotay out."

That was abrupt, she thought, wondering what exactly the EMH had told him. She got dressed and went to Sickbay.

--the swish of the doors--

That was really starting to annoy her.

"What's with the bed rest, Doctor?" she asked.

"You've been under a great deal of stress recently, Captain. You didn't look well when I saw you last night, so I took the liberty of turning off your alarm."

A month ago she would have been furious at him; now she didn't care. "And the program?" Not that I care...

"The holomatrix has partially collapsed. It will take me a while to repair it - unless it's urgent, of course," he offered.

"No, I don't think I'll be using it again. Thanks anyway, Doctor." It didn't mean a thing, she told herself. It didn't mean a thing.

--the swish of the doors--

--the swish of the doors--

--the sound of footsteps--

Chakotay sat down beside her on the bridge. Going crazy had been painful, but now that she'd arrived, insanity wasn't all that bad. So what if she couldn't distinguish between fantasy and reality anymore? The Delta Quadrant played better as fantasy, anyway. It was, as the Borg say, irrelevant that she was never quite sure, when Chakotay walked onto the bridge, whether he was going to nod and sit down or kiss her and carry her off to the ready room. Today he opted for reality, as he did every day, but she was still never quite sure.

The holodeck had definitely not helped - if the holomatrix hadn't collapsed so conveniently... Thank goodness for small favors; she was crazy enough as it was. Instead she'd sworn off photonics altogether and traded all her holodeck time to Tom, the center of Voyager's barter economy, for replicator rations, determined to renew her relationship with her oldest beau, coffee. But one unfortunate side effect of insanity was digestive problems, and coffee was too acidic for her to drink on an empty stomach. She tried to eat large breakfasts to compensate; Neelix was happy to find a new fan of his leola pancakes. Breakfast didn't always help, and without her usual coffee intake she was constantly tired.

The mutiny was far enough behind them that Chakotay was speaking to her again, in longer and longer sentences as time passed. But he still wouldn't sit down in her ready room - he only came when called and stood at parade rest the whole time.

She'd gotten used to eating with him in the mess hall instead of her quarters, and had heard some of his longest sentences thus far that way. And if she turned pale every time the mess hall doors opened and someone walked in, he didn't seem to notice, although she was sure Tuvok and Tom had noticed. Chakotay seemed to be a little crazy himself. They got along smashingly that way.

But eventually her exhaustion and other symptoms worried her, and she went to the EMH.

--the swish of the doors--

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

"Sorry to wake you, Doctor. I've been feeling a bit under the weather." She told him her physical symptoms, but left out the swishing and the footsteps. He looked worried - she thought it was sweet. She still had a soft spot in her heart for holograms... It didn't mean a thing, she reminded herself. She was not in love with another hologram. Not in the slightest.

"I'm sure it's just stress," she remarked cheerfully as she climbed onto the biobed.

He almost lost his matrix as he looked at the readings, but he recovered without a noticable flicker. "I'm sure it's nothing out of the ordinary, Captain, but I'd like to run a few tests and make up a new diet and exercise program for you. Unfortunately, I have some tissue samples in the lab that can't wait. Could you stop by tomorrow?"

--stop by tomorrow--

That one was new. If her insanity - which so far had not interfered with her job - was worsening, she might have to tell the Doctor about it.

"See you tomorrow, then."


--the swish of the doors--

The EMH leaned against the recently vacated biobed. He'd never practice medicine again; they'd decompile him over this one. He deserved it, too.

"EMH to Commander Chakotay."

"Chakotay here."

"Weren't we scheduled to have a meeting about triage training, Commander?"

Chakotay was sure the meeting was for next week, but his mind wasn't what it used to be. Maybe it was supposed to be today, or maybe today was next week already. "Sorry, Doctor. I'm on my way."

--the swish of the doors--

Spirits, that was so annoying. He wasn't getting better at all. He wondered why Kathryn hadn't noticed - he was sure Tuvok and B'Elanna had.

"Are you sure the meeting was today, Doctor? I must have put the wrong date into my schedule."

"No, it wasn't today, Commander; I just needed to speak to you." His patient didn't look well, though he ought to have recovered by now. The EMH let out an airless holographic sigh. "You have to tell her about the incident."

"Why now? It's been two months..." His voice trailed off.

"Seven and a half weeks, to be precise. It would be a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality for me to reveal the Captain's condition to you, but I will have to tell her about it when she comes back tomorrow." And what was one more violation of medical ethics at this point?

The non-hologram paled, as if a door had just swished.

"It would simplify things if you would tell--stop that, Commander." The human had begun banging his head against a nearby wall.

Chakotay stopped and stood at parade rest. "Permission to inform the Captain in private?"


The door chimed. She didn't bother to wake up to answer, "Come." He didn't hear her, but the computer did and opened the door.

--the swish of the doors--

This was a dangerous venue for his mental problems - he strove valiantly to repress them. The lights were low in her quarters and she wasn't in the outer room. He must have woken her.

He waited a decent amount of time, standing at parade rest, but she didn't emerge from the inner room. He walked toward the bedroom doors to ring again; they weren't locked and they opened at his approach.

--the swish of the doors--

The soft sound woke her; she sat bolt upright in bed.

--the figure by the viewport--

He sagged against the doorframe. She was sitting up in bed, staring at him, saying nothing. It took him some time to recover his fugitive reason.

"Kathryn, I'm sorry I woke you."

Was it real? It must be; the audio was always off in her dreams now.

"Chakotay? Is something wrong?"

"I just wanted to talk."

"Come in. Have a seat," she offered, though there were no chairs.

--the swish of the doors--

--the sound of footsteps--

He sat down on the corner of the bed. "I have something to tell you."

--I thought you might like your ship back--

Another new one - her connection to reality was slipping, slipping. "I'm listening," she said.

"It began with the mutiny. The meld with Tuvok had...other effects on me. The Doctor said afterward that the attempt to tap into my past feelings and impulses had unbalanced my inhibitions. I guess I had a lot of repressed feelings, or strong ones anyway. I went to the brig one night..."

--the stare--

"I remember," she said. It was good to know at least one of her memories was real.

"I couldn't do anything - it wasn't in my instructions. But it was strange to have another's purposes, rather than my own reason, suppressing my basic instincts. Afterwards, the Doctor said I was good as new, but I didn't feel that way. I couldn't concentrate, couldn't work, couldn't meditate. Most of all, I didn't trust myself anymore. Whenever you touched me, I almost jumped out of my skin."

--a phaser set very low--

"So I went back to the Doctor. I told him I was a danger, he assured me I wasn't, that I just needed to rest. He droned on for a while about the medulla oblongata and primitive autonomous functions. In the end, he suggested the holodeck."

--I never let that stand in my way--

"I had my doubts, but I'd had a similar encounter with a holodeck once in the Maquis." He was relieved to take this tangent from the real story. "I was angry at myself for using Seska. She wasn't my type at all, and, worse still, she was mean. I chalked it up to the Occupation, I excused it, but I knew I didn't and couldn't love that sort of person. I felt guilty for taking advantage of her - it all seems so ironic now, though then I was disgusted with myself - but I just couldn't stop. It wasn't like me. Maybe she was drugging me; I never found out."

"Anyway, I was picking up an arms shipment from some Ferengi, and their supplier was late. To mollify me, they offered me the use of their holosuite. I told myself that here was my chance to use someone, if that was what I wanted to do, so I used a photonic dabo girl. I had never gone in for holographic sex, and I hoped I would be sufficiently disgusted with myself afterwards to keep away from Seska. But it turned out a little differently."

--I never let that stand in my way--

He knows I was seduced by another hologram, she thought. He knows it drove me crazy and he's trying to comfort me - but how did he find out? Does the Doctor know, too?

"She was nice. She was just the default program, not very sophisticated, but I could tell she was a better person than Seska. So it worked out in the end - I never laid another hand on Seska, because she didn't even have the soul of a hologram."

He took a deep breath and returned to business. "So, anyway, I thought the Doctor's suggestion might have merit. He checked the holodeck schedule and said that one of them wasn't reserved, so I went down there. The program was already loaded but not running. It was one of those that never tells you who's inside, just activates the privacy lock when you run it. So I went in and the privacy lock engaged."

--the swish of the doors--

"It was dark, but I could make out the hologram standing by the viewport, outlined by the stars. I walked towards it, brushing by the desk, a chair, the bed."

--the sound of footsteps--

"We kissed. It wasn't what I expected at all, and I broke away. I never wanted a flesh-and-blood woman like I wanted that hologram in that moment. My grip on reality was slipping away, and I knew I'd lose it completely if I didn't leave the holodeck right then. I walked away--"

--the sound of footsteps--

"--but the hologram said--"

"Computer, freeze program," she whispered. It was him. She wasn't crazy. It was him all along.

"--something no hologram should have said. I froze in shock when I heard her voice, and stood there, wondering if my mind had already gone. Before I could get a word out, she'd walked up to me and restarted the program. She seemed to recognize me. I thought she'd planned it, the Doctor had planned it, Tom had planned it - I was full of conspiracy theories since my own conspiracy. I was slowly getting around to the more rational explanations when she kissed me.

"I had no idea she still felt that way about me. Yet I knew I hadn't gone mad, because I did then. I picked her up and carried her to the bed, and didn't get around to thinking of the rational explanation until she'd fallen asleep. Then I realized it was just holographic sex to her; I was there purely by accident.

"I got up and jimmied open the control panel, and doctored the program so that she wouldn't find out right away. I didn't destroy any evidence, though. I planned to turn myself in to Tuvok, but I figured he might not want to tell her - for the sake of the ship. We worked well together, and if she didn't know about it we still could. I was going to jail in the end, anyway; formal charges could wait."

She moved closer, took his hand, and said, "It wasn't like that."

--the touch of her hand--

"The EMH caught me first, though, and decided not to tell you for the sake of your own mental stability."

Holograms should not be allowed to practice medicine, she thought. Two months - she'd spent two months thinking she was losing her mind. And she could have gotten... "Why tell me now?"

--why now?--

"There was a...complication," he said.

--stop by tomorrow--

She smiled as the last little mysteries of her insanity clicked into place. "The holodeck safety protocols were off-line," she concluded.

"That's an interesting way to put it. Kathryn, I'm so sorry--"

"Don't be. I'm glad."

He stood to leave.

"Don't go."

--don't go--

"If I don't go now I won't be able to - ever."

She kissed him.

He held her tightly and whispered in her ear, "This is where I offer to do the right thing by you."

"First thing tomorrow."