By Shayenne

Disclaimer etc.: See Part 1.

Voyager spent nearly a week in orbit around Cabra, and her captain spent most of her time planetside. Chakotay was pleased to see that she seemed to be adapting well - indeed, she basically just shrugged and carried on. They had dinner together as usual, and Kathryn said that Adare, and another Cabran, Mahulas, were helping her to accept and explore her options. Most important, they kept stressing, was the need for secrecy. It was now incumbent upon her to protect the location of the water, as well as her own safety.

After discussing it with Chakotay, Kathryn decided to inform both Tuvok and the Doctor about her immortality. Tuvok, as her close friend, as well as her security officer. The Doctor, she reasoned, would find out sooner or later, from her medical records.

Tuvok's reaction was a raised eyebrow, and a comment that as she was now invulnerable, she was a logical choice for the more dangerous away missions. Although not, he concluded, for any missions in which the Borg were involved. An invulnerable Borg was an unacceptable risk. He also offered his assistance with meditation techniques, commenting that they would be invaluable for mental health during her prolonged life.

The Doctor was more enthusiastic - indeed, he seemed delighted that he would have a friend for all eternity. He brought Janeway--protesting heavily--into sickbay, and after a battery of tests, pronounced her one hundred percent fit, and ninety-nine percent immortal.

"It's quite fascinating, Captain," he enthused. "Your cells are perfectly stable. See this scraping of your skin cells here? Normally skin cells die at the rate of millions per day - yours are all perfectly alive and perfectly healthy. They continue to function, do their job, but they simply are not dying, or being replaced. Your hair and nails are not growing, Captain, so consider very carefully before you cut your hair again. And of course you won't be able to have children, as cell reproduction is effectively halted. It's quite fascinating!"

Kathryn reported the conversation to Chakotay later that evening over dinner.

"He told me that I need very little food now," she said, as she picked at a portion of his corn stew. "So you have no excuse to nag me about not eating. And you can also stop nagging me about too much coffee - my body is impervious to the effects of caffeine."

"I always thought it was simply a bad habit," Chakotay replied. "Now I'm sure." He waited a moment longer, before asking the question uppermost in his mind. "Are you upset that you can't have children?"

Kathryn shrugged. "I admit to a momentary pang when the Doctor told me, but no, I don't think it bothers me. I never saw myself as the maternal type. And if I..." She hesitated, then looked him full in the face, "If we want children of our own, there is always artificial conception with donor material."

He had to concentrate on his plate, on the patterns of the vegetables before he could be sure his voice would be steady enough to answer. "We'll make that decision later, Kathryn. Together."

"Together," she said. Their eyes locked, and he saw the naked need and love that she seldom let herself show.

One day, he thought, one day.


The months slipped slowly past, and Voyager crept ever closer to Earth. The command team kept up their usual routine of dinner, holodeck time, and shore leave together. For the most part, Chakotay was able to forget the turn their lives had taken, but there was one thing he wouldn't forget. Kathryn had said she loved him, and he held that knowledge close to his heart, taking it out to examine it when things seemed impossibly dark.

He grew bolder. She may have said they couldn't be together until Voyager returned home, but with the words of love spoken and returned, he saw no reason they couldn't be open about their hopes and feelings in private. So he stepped up his private campaign to woo her. His casual touches became more frequent, he sat closer to her on the couch after dinner, and he pushed the boundaries of acceptable touch - lifting her hair where it lay on her shoulders, running his fingers down her arm to clasp her hand, touching her thigh lightly to make a point.

She noticed, of course--impossible for her not to--and sometime he saw the answering flare of wishing and wanting in her face. While she never pushed him away, she never sought his touch either, seeming content to let him set the boundaries.

But while she moved forward with him personally, on a command level Kathryn changed. Never one to be overly cautious about her own safety, choosing instead to lead by fearless example, now Kathryn's recklessness bordered on the extreme. She was now the first into combat situations, the first to raise her hand and unequivocally state that she would take on the most dangerous missions.

It made a lot of sense on a practical level, but Kathryn hadn't figured in her crew's reaction. She had underestimated their loyalty and their devotion to her. And anything the captain could do, many of the crew tried to emulate. Now that her daring reached heights, inevitably the casualties were felt among the crew. In the first few months after she became immortal, Voyager lost a crewmen and two more were severely injured. Crewman Byrne was wounded following her captain into a shootout hostage situation. The phaser fire caught her in the neck and she nearly bled to death in her captain's arms. Ensign Singh collapsed from severe dehydration on an away mission, saving miners from a planet under natural siege when its long dormant volcanoes sprung back into life. And, ironically, Crewman Tommell died by acting as a human shield for his captain when negotiations turned sour on a far-flung mining colony, long used to its own form of rough and ready justice.

Kathryn seemed invulnerable, but her crew certainly wasn't.

Sometimes, when they had dinner, he thought that the glitter in her eyes came from more than enjoyment of his company.

"Whiskey," she said, when he asked. "Uisce beatha - the water of life. Ironic, isn't it?"

Tuvok came to see him, paying an unexpected and rare visit to Chakotay's quarters. He offered Tuvok a seat and spiced tea from his replicator. It didn't take much intuition to realize this visit was about the captain.

"I have informed her that I am concerned about her behavior," said Tuvok, "and that while she may be immortal, her crew isn't. She appeared agitated, and told me that it wasn't for want of trying, at which point I was compelled to point out that I would have refused the water if it had been offered.

"She asked for my reasons, and I informed her that Vulcans were a long-lived race, and that greatly altering lifespan went against the order and balance of the universe. She laughed, Commander, and there was a bitterness in her voice that I am unaccustomed to hearing. She told me that you alone had been offered the water by the Cabrans and that you had refused."

Chakotay nodded in non-committal fashion. He had never discussed his close friendship with Kathryn with the Vulcan, although he sensed that Tuvok was aware of how much he cared.

Tuvok sipped his tea in silence for a few minutes. "I do not wish to presume, Commander, but the captain cares deeply for you. You, more than anyone can be there for her. I urge you to talk to her, counsel her about her recent behavior. It is detrimental to the welfare of this crew."

"She values your opinion. Have you talked to her as a friend as well as in the role of security officer?"

"I have tried. But, as you are no doubt aware, she feels more than mere friendship for you."

"Does that concern you?"

Tuvok steepled his fingers and shot Chakotay a piercing glance. "As her friend I am pleased. It is a sound and logical match. As her security officer, I have a few reservations, but nothing that cannot be surmounted. Indeed, if you are able to convince her, then I wish you every happiness."

"You're not going to say 'live long and prosper' are you?"

"On this occasion I will refrain."


A few days later, Kathryn invited Chakotay for dinner. He brought the wine as usual, and was pleased to see that the whiskey bottle was not in evidence. Although Kathryn responded to his conversation, even laughed at his recounting of Tom's latest practical joke on the Doctor, she seemed to have an abstraction about her, as if only the surface of her mind was talking to him, as if some simmering thoughts were bothering her.

With Tuvok's words still lying heavily in his mind, Chakotay picked up her hand. "Talk to me, Kathryn. Tell me what's wrong."

It seemed to be all the opening she needed. Picking up her wineglass, she led him over to the couch. When she sat down, she didn't relinquish his hand, simply entwined her fingers with his and started to talk.

"Do you remember being a child, and how endless it all seemed?" she began. "How every summer was a lifetime, with new opportunities, new friends, new places to go. And do you remember how you couldn't wait to grow up, because if things were this good now, then what would it be like later, with the knowledge and freedom of an adult?"

He nodded, even though her words brought a pang of sorrow for his devastated childhood home.

"When you're young," Kathryn continued, "you don't think about growing old. You don't think about death, or about losing loved ones. The endless summer goes on forever, and you simply accept it. It's not until you age that you realize how precarious life is, how little time there is."

She paused to take a sip of wine. Her fingers tightened on his, so that her short nails dug into his palm. "When I became immortal, at first it was like those childhood summers. I thought only of the good things, never of what I was losing. I've grown up, if you like. But it's not the shortness of my own life that's making me aware of how little time there is, it's the shortness of everyone else's.

She smiled slightly, an echo of her former wide grin. "Did you know that Tuvok scolded me soundly for taking risks?"

He nodded, unwilling to interrupt the flow of her words.

"Ironic, isn't it? There I was, taking on all the hardest, most dangerous, most impossible away missions as I wanted to spare my crew, save them from being hurt. But it took Tuvok to tell me that I've actually made it worse, that the crew are emulating me as if I can do it, then surely they can. I couldn't make my crew immortal, and now, I'm even making them more mortal than they were before. And I should have realized that. I look back now over the past few months, and I see how blindly I jumped into this - I couldn't see past the fact that it would mean we would all get home. And on a personal level..."

She took a deep, shaky breath, and continued. "I'm thinking of the people I love, and I'm grieving their loss before they've even gone. They parade through my head at night: Mom, Phoebe, her kids, friends, this crew..." Her voice faltered momentarily, and her nails dug painfully into his palm. "And you. Especially you. Chakotay, now more than ever, I don't want to go on alone."

Her eyes fastened on his face, with such trust and hope that he feared to shatter it for her. Disappointment welled up; even now, after all his explanations, she still wanted him to drink the water.

"Kathryn, I'm sorry, but the answer is still no. I won't drink."

She smiled, a soft, loving smile, too often absent from her face. "No. I know you won't, that's not what I'm asking. Chakotay, I want to be your lover, your partner, your bondmate. Now and for the blink of an eye that we have together. Eternity is a long time, I don't want to waste it."

The death grip she held on his fingers wavered momentarily. Surely, she didn't think he would refuse? He shuffled toward her on the couch, pulling her closer, into his arms, so that her head rested on his shoulder. Her breath sighed into his neck, warming, dampening his skin and her arms crept around his waist.

For long, long moments they stayed like that. Chakotay relished the slight weight of Kathryn's body resting along his, the tickle of her hair in his nose. Turning his head, he buried his face in the thick auburn mass, breathing in her scent.

"I won't let you waste another moment," he whispered, and his lips came down, searching for hers.

She met his kiss unrestrainedly, reaching up to hold him to her. As if he could pull away, he thought, as if that was even an option. Her lips parted his, and her tongue swept into his mouth. He met her, kiss for kiss, taste for taste, and took her even higher, plundering her mouth as if it were their last kiss instead of nearly the first.

Even when they pulled apart, he couldn't leave her alone, pressing small kisses on her face and the corner of her mouth. Kathryn seemed as reluctant as he to separate; her fingers traced his skin above the collar of his uniform, pushed into his hair.

"What happens now?" he asked, when he had breath enough to speak.

She pressed her lips to his throat, and he felt their heat against his skin. "First, I'll make you a promise. I'll stay with you, openly, for as long as you live. For as long as you want me. For as long as you need me, we'll be together."

He had to ask. "And tonight?"

"That's up to you. But I know what I'm hoping for."

He hardened involuntarily at the look in her eyes, and visions of lovemaking danced across his vision. "I'm hoping to feel your skin against mine. I want to claim your body, and kiss you as we join. And in the morning, I want to wake with you in my arms, our bodies together in the bed. Just us, Kathryn and Chakotay, with no protocols or barriers between us."

"Oh yes," she sighed. "That will do for starters."


It was at Voyager's fourteenth homecoming reunion that the questions started.

The former command team circulated the room, arm in arm. Kathryn had never looked more radiant, Chakotay thought, dressed in a dark green sheath that shimmered under the lights. Her fox-red hair gleamed.

"You're both looking well," remarked Harry, now Commander Kim. "Admiral, I swear you haven't aged a day since Voyager returned home!" He punched Chakotay affectionately in the arm. "Can't say the same for you, Sir. Academic life must be very stressful if those gray hairs are anything to go by."

Other comments from Voyager's crew indicated the same thing. Their ex-captain looked to be in remarkable health, glowing with youth and vitality.

Later, home in their bed, as they were wrapped around each other, Kathryn brought up the issue.

"It's starting," she said. "People are beginning to notice. I'm only surprised it's taken so long."

He knew it would have to happen; they'd discussed it, laid the foundations for their plans well ahead of time. He ran gentle fingers down Kathryn's arm, wrapping around to caress a breast. Her skin was as soft as that day, sixteen years ago, when he'd first put his fingers and lips on her body.

She ran her palm over his own, graying hair. "I could start to dye my hair gray, get the Doctor to make my face look more lined."

He nodded; these were options they had talked about. But they were short term solutions at best. Her skin was still unlined, her muscles still firm. Now that he was nearing sixty, his own body was starting to blur, his physique no longer had the lean, hard structure of youth or middle age. Kathryn didn't seem to mind; she still spent long hours with him in their bed, mapping the planes and contours of his body; she still loved to caress his skin, press kisses on his flesh, tickle each little imperfection with her tongue.

She kissed him now, tracing a line of pigmentation on his chest. "I'm going to resign from Starfleet."

So soon. They'd had so little time together to live their life to their own choosing. Already, they were being forced to make changes.

"I had an offer from an anthropological college on Kirkinriola," he said. "I turned them down as usual, but maybe the post will still be open."

A sharp pang of sorrow sliced through him; he loved his work as professor of anthropology at one of Earth's oldest universities. He would miss the dark stone buildings and cloisters of Oxford, and its ancient narrow streets. But he had agreed to this when he and Kathryn became bondmates, and he wouldn't change anything.

"Kirkinriola. That's far enough away from Earth, at least initially." Her eyes were far away. "But it starts now, Chakotay. Our second peripatetic life." She laid her head on his chest again and her words were spoken into his skin. "You don't have to come with me if you don't want to. This is my problem, not yours."

As if he had any choice. His fate was sealed sixteen years ago when Kathryn had admitted she loved him. He gathered her onto his chest and rolled, so that she ended up pinned beneath his big body. She wriggled to settle his weight more comfortably, and let her hand caress his hip.

"Kathryn, there is no place I want to be except with you. Wherever we go, we go together."

"Bondmates," she sighed. "But I had to ask, had to give you the option." She stretched up to press her lips to his throat, idly kissing his skin, running them softly over the wrinkles that gathered there. "I love you."

"And I love you," he said, and bent to claim her lips. For a fleeting second, he thought of the vial of water Kathryn still carried. He knew it was his and his alone, and once again the fierce pain at leaving Kathryn behind stabbed him.

Over the years, he had sometimes been tempted to drink, once going as far as to remove the vial from the protective bag where it was kept. He had studied it, lying in the palm of his hand, innocuous looking, so deceptively simple. So easy to drink and spend eternity with Kathryn. His fingers had toyed with the stopper. Was he fooling himself? Were his people's beliefs only so much superstition and myth? Was Kathryn's way--the pragmatic way, the scientific way--all there was?

She had never again asked him to drink, accepting his decision and control over his own destiny. But he knew that the thought of losing him was a constant pain in her heart. In the next millennia would she still think of him, would she picture his bleached bones, his soul and body merely blown dust across Dorvan's surface?

Kathryn was talking, returning him to the present. "The tenure on Kirkinriola was one you were interested in, wasn't it?"

"Potentially. I would be leading a team to excavate their ancient subterranean cities. They have a good science department too, and they are always recruiting research scientists." He remembered vividly scrolling through the PADD containing the offer to see what there would be for Kathryn. If necessary. And now it seemed it was necessary.


The next twenty years passed swiftly. The tenure on Kirkinriola was followed by offers from other institutions, and Chakotay and Kathryn moved on every couple of years. Kathryn's scientific fame grew swiftly and soon the offers were for her as well. She maintained a low profile, only accepting positions that allowed her to live quietly, doing most of her work via comm link from home. Even so, the reclusive Janeway was much in demand, and many research projects were delighted to have her. What little personal information that was released about her indicated that she was caring for her ailing partner. They were seldom seen in public, choosing to live in remote areas, and on the few occasions they were seen, Janeway appeared well covered, supporting her frail husband.

There were visitors; the Doctor called frequently, as well as Tuvok and T'Pel, but seldom were any others from Voyager's crew seen.

But eventually, the visitors tailed off. Janeway was an eccentric, people said. She and her partner had few friends, and while she was an excellent scientist, she was better left alone.


"I'm one hundred and eight, love." Chakotay formed the words slowly. "It's been a good life. A long life."

The palsy that affected much of his left side made it difficult for him to speak coherently. It didn't seem to matter, for Kathryn always understood him. Even if he had no words left in him, he thought that she would understand what he was trying to say. His hand trembled on the covers, and Kathryn swiftly covered it with her own. Behind her, the Doctor waved a tricorder, primed a hypospray.

Tears shimmered in her eyes, but she tried to smile for him. Her shoulder length auburn hair gleamed brightly in the sunlight that washed through the window, and her face was as beautiful as it ever was. She wasn't hiding right now, the reclusive veneer had worked for long enough that people stayed away. No one came; no one who would see her and wonder.

She smoothed his hair back from his forehead with shaky hand. The pain surged again, and he gritted his teeth, tried to smile through it, smile for her. The hiss of a hypospray against his neck, and the pain diminished, rolled away on a tide of endorphins, receding like the tide.

"Kathryn," he heard the Doctor say quietly, "I can't give him any more. There's nothing I can do..."

With an effort, Chakotay turned his head. "Doc, no more. I have to say... I have to tell..."

The Doctor regarded him steadily, then with an empathy gained since his Voyager days, he nodded. A gentle hand touched his forehead. "It's been an honor, and a pleasure knowing you, my friend. I will leave you alone together now."

Chakotay tried to swallow around the lump in his throat. "Kathryn, love..."

"Hush now," she whispered. "I'm here. I won't leave you, I'll never leave you."

"Go on without me," he whispered, and the words were the hardest he'd ever said. "Take your immortality, seize the chance. Don't grieve for me, as I've had the best life a man could hope for at your side." He had to stop, the breathlessness and the slowness of his lips made the words lie hidden, unsaid. But he knew he didn't have long; already he could see the wavering at the edges of his vision that tradition said preceded the entry to the spirit world. When his father came for him, he would have to go. With all his heart, he willed his father away, for another minute, another hour, another lifetime, another eternity.

"Never forget I love you."

He could read the words in Kathryn's heart as clearly as on her lips.

"I love you, Kathryn. Now and for eternity." The matching words came from his own heart, forced through his uncooperative lips.

"I know you do, love. I've always known." Her hands gripped his, smoothing a thumb over their wrinkled backs.

So beautiful she was; so beautiful. But she was his Kathryn, and even if she was as ancient and faded as he, even if she was a shell of her former self, he knew he couldn't love her any more, and wouldn't love her any less.

But he hadn't finished, and the distortions of vision were increasing. "Kathryn, go on without me, love. Find the strength. You have the willpower, the intelligence. You can do great things for the galaxy." He hesitated, even now wondering if his next words were better left unsaid, if it was his own selfish desire talking. But eternity stretched before him, and he couldn't face it without some hope that they would be reunited again. "If you ever can't continue, if it's ever too much for you, then you know the way out." A phaser shot to the heart. It had always been there, hovering unspoken, both of them knowing the way, should it become necessary. "And if you do, then I'll be waiting for you."

She swallowed hard, three times, before he could hear her reply. "I haven't forgotten. Wait for me my love." Bending, her lips caressed his brow, his lips, lingering in the echoes of passions past. Finally, she kissed his eyes.

"Goodbye," he heard her say, as the white light increased, glowing and incandescent to fill the room. "Goodbye, Chakotay, my only love."

And then his father was there, dressed in deerskin, holding his hand out to him. He took it, and gave himself over to his father's care, leaving Kathryn alone.


The day stretched ahead of Kathryn, a long procession of hours and minutes, each as endless as the next.

"One hundred and ninety today," she murmured to herself. "The oldest human alive. Happy birthday, Kathryn."

She studied her hands, as unblemished and unwrinkled as they were nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. The loneliness engulfed her again. It was always worse on certain days: her birthday, Chakotay's birthday, the anniversary of his death. Her friends and family were long gone, even long-lived Tuvok had succumbed to mortality and was buried in the hot sands of Vulcan. She would sometimes pay a quiet visit to Earth to watch Phoebe's grandchildren and great grandchildren go about their lives, but it only served to reinforce her feelings of alienation.

Not for the first time, she murmured to herself, "You were right, Chakotay. Oh, so right."

Even her precious research, the scientific discoveries that once thrilled her to the core were pale and meaningless. In a thousand years, a million years, who would remember who was responsible for developing a new form of subspace communication, one that enabled instantaneous communication with the Delta Quadrant and beyond? Few people, that was for sure. She'd even made sure it wasn't called the Janeway Emitter, as she didn't want her name lingering in perpetuity.

She'd escaped any real questions so far, but her life was, by necessity, peripatetic. Every few months, she would move on. She'd managed to evade questions for a while by posing as her own granddaughter--the ultimate irony, given that she could never have children--and "Katie Janeway" was considered as gifted a scientist as her grandmother had been. And just as reclusive.

But the lingering loneliness was the worst. No real friends, no lovers, only the memories of love long gone. Her true friends were gone, her real accomplishments faded into obscurity. Voyager was now a page in a record book, a paragraph of text to be learned by rote for every cadet's Starfleet history examination.

Chakotay was buried on Dorvan, his physical body turned to dust, his grave marked by a simple rock slab. She visited it every year - even the simple mourning of her love was fraught with the danger of discovery. Not for the first time, she wondered if Chakotay was waiting for her in some afterlife. Was he marking the time until she joined him, as patiently as he had bided his time on Voyager, waiting for her to throw protocol to the wind? Was she once again ignoring her needs, and clinging to something she had been given, with any choice taken out of her hands? The parallels still wrought a wry smile from her. As Voyager's captain she hadn't asked to be thrown into the Delta Quadrant, but the fact that she was there had imposed rules on her life and denied her of a personal life for many years. And now, as the immortal Kathryn Janeway, she was once again following rules that were not of her choosing.

The vial of water was still in its protective case, pushed to one side in a corner of her dresser. There had been no one she wanted to give it to, no one she wanted to share her life with. The only person was long gone.

She would visit his grave one more time, Kathryn decided. And maybe it was time to make some decisions of her own.


Chakotay lay buried on the rocky hillside above the settlement where he had grown up. In the years of visiting, Kathryn had seen the village grow to a thriving town. But the grave was still quiet, and every time, she had to clear away the encroaching vegetation and scrape the hardy lichen from the stone.

Kathryn approached from the south, her feet unerringly treading the winding path. Her mind was set, although lingering doubts remained. Reaching the grave, she sat for a while absorbing the tranquility of the place. Few birds sang, and the only sound was the light breeze rustling the dried grasses.

From her bag she drew out a pair of scissors. Working swiftly, she methodically drew her shoulder-length hair into a rough pony tail, and cut through it. She laid the hair on Chakotay's grave. The breeze blew it across the rough stone, so she weighted it down with small pebbles. She drew a couple more items from the bag: a PADD on which she'd written a note the night before, the vial of water from Cabra, and finally a phaser. Thumbing on the PADD, she read the words she'd written once more, before turning it off. She hesitated only a moment before flinging the PADD away from her. It landed in a patch of thick scrub, on the edge of a gully. Maybe it would be found. Maybe, one day.

Her fingers traced the letters of Chakotay's name, etched in the gray granite. A small plant, hardy and enduring had grown up since her last visit. It's gray-green leaves were dry, the wind sucking the moisture out of them. A purple flower clung tenaciously to its stalks; its color reminded her of bruises, the color of her heart.

Taking the vial of water, she uncorked it for the first time in nearly one hundred and fifty years. It sparkled in the sunlight as she poured it over the shrub. It was fitting, she felt, an enduring plant to remember him by. And now he would always have a flower on his grave.

Finally, she picked up the phaser with a hand that trembled, as if it were wavering in the breeze. Turning it over in her hands, she toyed with the settings. Stun. Maximum. Set to kill, and then back to stun again.

"Can I do this, Chakotay?" The wind carried the words away, so that they didn't linger in the air above his dear bones. "I don't believe like you did. Will I really be reunited with you if I do? Or am I throwing away the greatest gift that humankind ever received?"

Was it the answer? she wondered. It was Chakotay's way, but not her own. Never her own.

With bowed head, Kathryn Janeway sought the answers, the phaser heavy in her hand.

"Who knows?" she said aloud, to the wind. "Who knows." But her fingers trembled on the settings as she lifted the weapon.


Any pseudo-religious statements or beliefs mentioned in this story, are exactly that - pseudo religious, as in they belong solely to this portrayal of Chakotay. They are in no way meant to reflect the actual religious beliefs of any race or culture, and any similarities are purely coincidental. No offence is intended.

The inspiration for this story came from a children's book called '"Tuck Everlasting". I found it in a bookstore in Galway, Ireland, and read it in a single gulp, propped against the wall. The storyline is different, but the underlying premise is similar. I highly recommend that book.

Feedback? Please. Shayenne

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Angelina Vansen has written a fantastic companion piece to this story....

© Shayenne, September 2003 Please email me to post/distribute elsewhere.