Disclaimer: They aren’t mine. What else is new?
First Place in LTTY Omega 13 contest
Chakotay watched as the lift doors opened. Stepping off in uniform, once again the captain, Kathryn nodded slightly to each crewman as she slowly took her place in the captain’s chair. The fragile air of melancholy, the eyes rimmed red from recent tears, the slight tilt of her head and crooked smile she gave him as she settled down beside, him ripped at his heart. Chakotay knew Jaffen was the last Quarran visitor to depart Voyager and that his departure preceded the Captain’s appearance by only minutes. Of all the hundreds of time he had stood by her side, of all the countless times he had played the dutiful first officer when all he wanted to do was take her in his arms, this was the hardest. He was deeply jealous of Jaffen and part of him was angry that she had so quickly given herself to a virtual stranger. Another part of him couldn’t stand to see her pain and would gladly bring Jaffen back if it would ease it.
Routine things were going on around him in a sort of distorted slow motion as the bridge crew prepared to break orbit. Chakotay’s attention was focused on Kathryn, routinely issuing unnecessary orders and blindly going about being captain. So lost was he in watching her go through the motions, it was a few seconds before he realized she had stopped issuing orders and was talking to him.
"It may not have been real, Chakotay, but it felt like home. If you hadn't come after me I never would've known that I had another life." Her voice was low; a wistful look crossed her face.
"Are you sorry I showed up?" He tried to sound light but his heart hung in the balance of her answer.
"Not for a second."
This time the smile she gave him, although still sad, was real. Kathryn once again allowed him to know that beside him was where she really wanted to be.
"Resume course for the Alpha Quadrant, Mr. Paris."
“I’ll be in my ready room, Commander.”
Chakotay watched her until the door closed between them blocking his view. He would give her some time to herself and then he would join her. Once again, they would find a way to ease the pain and move back into a comfortable relationship. How many times over the years had they done that? How many times had they been drawn together only to be torn apart? How many times had decisions and events forced them apart? He couldn’t even count them anymore but they always came back to the solid ground that was not only the foundation of their relationship but the rock the crew had come to depend on.
In the early years they learned to trust one another. By the time they were stranded on New Earth they had formed a strong bond. They had only been days away from embarking on a new relationship when Voyager returned. Reluctantly, Chakotay had accepted her reasoning and they returned, not without great difficulty, to the their former command relationship.
Over the next months, they had both struggled to reset the boundaries and establish a comfortable level for their relationship. Chakotay had faltered when she told him she couldn’t imagine a day without him. Kathryn had that uncanny ability to undermine all his resolve with just a few simple words. But all hope had been quickly dashed with the appearance of the Borg and Kathryn’s insistence on an alliance. Kathryn had thrown his own words back at him when she said she really was alone. It had been like a knife twisting in his heart.
So many times they hurt each other, professionally and personally. Chakotay often wondered, just how many times they could recover. Kathryn simply said "As many as we have too." The professional disagreements were difficult to over come but the personal pains ran deeper.
His brief alliance with the Ramuran woman should never have happened. Even though they had no first hand memories of her, the hand written notes he and Kathryn had later shared had been painful. There were others of course, Kashyk, Riley, that stupid hologram and even Q, but always they found a way back to each other. They still pretended it was only friendship but he knew it was more. So did Kathryn.
Chakotay mused about the past, but of course most people would say it was a waste of time. He couldn't help thinking how differently things might have turned out. He turned the bridge over to Tuvok and rang the chime.
“Come in, Chakotay.” Kathryn called on her way back from the replicator.
“Am I that predictable?”
“Of course and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She put their cups on the coffee table. “Come, sit down.”
“Are you all right?”
“You would say that even….”
“....if I just had my legs torn off by a Trachon beast." Kathryn laughed as she finished the line for him. “God, what would I do without you?”
“Let’s hope you never find out.” He saw past the laughter to the sadness in her eyes. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Later.” Kathryn took his hand, holding it as she settled back against the pillows. “Could we just sit a while?”
Chakotay watched her. Kathryn had her head thrown back. Silently she stared at the ceiling, her thumb just slightly moving against the back of his hand. It reminded Chakotay of another time, right here in the room when she had mourned the loss of another man.
“You haven’t talked about your letter yet, who was it from?”
"It was from Mark...The man I was engaged to. He told me about the litter of puppies my dog had--how he found homes for them, how devastated he was when Voyager was lost...how he held out hopes we were alive longer than most people did...until he realized that he was clinging to a fantasy. So he began living his life again--meeting people, letting go of the past." Kathryn sighed giving him a sad smile. "About four months ago he married a woman who works with him. He's very happy."
"And how do you feel about that?" Chakotay asked softly.
"Well, I knew he'd eventually move on with his life." Kathryn’s voice softened to a desolate whisper. "But there was such a finality to that letter...."
They had been called to the bridge then, before he could react, before he could draw her into his arms, but then he never would have done that. Maybe he should have, maybe it would have changed their lives, and maybe she would have been spared this pain and all the little heartaches alone the way. Now he would never know.
Chakotay watched Kathryn. They had both suffered more than enough in the last six years, he wanted to change that. The past was the past but the future ….
Another earlier discussion came to mind. He got off the couch and crossed to the panel behind her desk.
“Chakotay, where are you going?” Kathryn raised her head and looked at him. “Are you leaving me?”
“Never.” He smiled back at her. “Relax, I’ll be only a minute.”
Chakotay waited for Kathryn to rest her head back then he opened the panel and retrieved the device. Kathryn had showed it to him years ago, she never intended to use it, but he had known it would be useful someday. He had managed to break into the codes and convince the computer into giving him access, just in case. With a determined smile he returned to her side.
“What are you up to?”
“Do you trust me, Kathryn?”
“Then close your eyes and relax.”
Kathryn rested her head back and closed her eyes. Chakotay placed the device on the table and programmed it to give them one more chance at a future.
“Computer, activate Voyager Omega 13. Authorization Chakotay omega gamma pi.
"Cream and sugar?" Kathryn brought their coffee to the table.
"Two sugars," Chakotay smiled at her grimace. He knew she thought he was ruining perfectly good coffee. "You know, you drink too much of that stuff. If I'm not mistaken that's your third cup this morning."
"Fourth," Kathryn huffed. "And on a day like today it won't be my last. Coffee,” Kathryn held up her cup. “the finest organic suspension ever devised. It's gotten me through the worst of the last three years. I beat the Borg with it."
“Thank you.” Chakotay accepted his coffee with a chuckle and sat beside her on the couch.
“I’m worried about the crew. I think they were hoping mail call would become a regular part of their day."
"I know but they’ll be all right given time. Neelix is putting together an impromptu party. He thought it might cheer them up."
"Leave it to Neelix to come up with the right idea at the right time," Kathryn smiled as she place her empty cup on the table. .
"How are you doing?" Chakotay grew more serious.
"You'd say that if you just had your legs torn off by a Trachon beast." He put down his cup and took her hands. "Look what you've been through in the last few days. We finally make a connection with home and it's ripped away from us." He watched Kathryn squeeze her eyes closed and drop her head back against the couch. "We managed to make another enemy who's going to try and hunt us down and destroy us. And on top of that--"
"It's all right. You can say it. On top of all that, I got a ‘Dear John’ letter." Kathryn sighed. "It wasn't really a surprise. I guess I didn't really expect him to wait for me considering the circumstances. It made me realize that I was using him as a safety net. You know-- as a way to avoid becoming involved with someone else."
"You don't have that safety net anymore," Chakotay watched her closely.
"That's right," Kathryn drew a deep breath and looked up from where she had been watching her thumb run over the back of his hand. “So what’ll it be, Chakotay? Indulge my feelings, hold fast to protocol, what?”
Chakotay smiled. This was the moment he had come back for and he wouldn’t waste it this time around!
Chakotay held her eyes as he slowly moved forward. His one hand on her back easing her closer as his lips made a slow torturous journey toward hers. Kathryn moistened her lips, her eyes dropping down to study his mouth before closing with a sigh of anticipation.
Their lips met, pressing softly together, moving against each other with just a hint of urgency. Chakotay’s hands stroked her cheek, his fingers lightly trailing along her neck, as Kathryn’s moved into his hair. Kathryn moaned into his mouth. Chakotay could feel her heart pounding, as he gently backed away and their lips began to part. He spread gentle moist kisses across her face, his warm breath against her cheek caused a shiver as he answered.
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