“We’re in visual range.” Tuvok’s hollow sounding voice echoed in her ears.
Kathryn released the breath she had been holding.
“On screen,” she ordered, trying to keep her voice steady.
A few beeps from Tuvok’s console and the armored, hazy green exterior of the Borg cube appeared on the view screen. Kathryn took a deep breath.
“Magnify,” she said, leaning forward and clasping her hands.
A few seconds passed with only the hun of the warp core and the beep of the consoles breaking the silence, Kathryn looked at the cube that could very well be the thing that killed her. Green tinted corridors covered with machinery. A shiver ran down her spine at the prospect of becoming like one of the mindless drones full of circuitry an implants.
“Torres to bridge.”
Kathryn noticeably jumped, but everyone ignored it. She cleared her throat and licked her dried lips.
“Go ahead,” she said.
“The Delta Flyer is ready for launch,” B’Elanna told her.
“On my way,” she said.
The commline closed and she started to get up, but couldn’t make herself leave the bridge just yet. She slumped back in the chair and crossed her legs. She glanced over at Chakotay, her ever faithful first officer and friend. Her eyes softened as she looked at him, shifting from the hard Captain exterior to the kind, caring eyes of Kathryn. For all she knew, this could be the last time that she got to see him, her last chance to tell him how she felt. She sighed.
“Guess I’d better be going, huh?” she asked, a rather weak lopsided grin on her face.
She watched his face as he solemnly nodded and thought she saw the love she had once seen in his eyes. She knew she would have to live without him, knew she would have to do what she could to ignore her want to have him hold her and kiss her and to fall asleep in his arms. Still, this seemed harder than the passed six years combined. She had to tell him good-bye.
“Anything you’d like done around here while you’re gone?” Chakotay asked. “Gravity plating recalibrated? Carpets cleaned?”
Kathryn smiled, a real, natural smile that lit up the bridge. She held out her hand to him, silently praying that he would take it and understand her gesture. Her heart leapt as he reached across the console and clasped her hand in his. He held her gaze as his thumb trailed circles on the back of her hand.
“Surprise me,” she whispered.
The effect those words had on him and his understanding of them was evident when he squeezed her hand affectionately. A small voice at the back of her mind told her not to go, that she wouldn’t be returning to Voyager. she shut that voice up by reminding herself that she had a mission to complete. She started to stand, still holding on to Chakotay’s hand. He stood as well, offering what little support he was able to in such a public place. To own the truth, he wanted desperately to pull her into his arms and beg her to stay. He knew she would go and he knew that he had to let her. Something deep inside him told him that he would see her again, that she would live through this ordeal.
“You have the bridge,” she said, softly.
Slowly, their hands parted, palm’s separating, fingers brushing as they slipped apart. He held her gaze a few seconds longer before she turned and headed for the turbolift. Once there, she turned and looked at him again. He saw Kathryn’s fear behind the Captain’s mask and suddenly found himself walking after her.
“Tom, hold our course steady. You have the bridge. I’m going to the shuttle bay tp give the away team some last minute instructions,” he said.
Tom nodded his reply, knowing full well that Chakotay was lying. He kept quiet as he watched the turbolift doors swish closed and turned back to his flying. Boy did he have something to tell B’Elanna when she got back!
Chakotay stepped onto the turbolift with Kathryn and waited for the doors to hiss shut before he looked at her.
“Deck ten,” she said softly, looking up at him.
Chakotay brought his hand up to her cheek, brushing the soft, pink skin with the back of his fingers. He felt a small spark travel between them as Kathryn closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, taking a shaky breath.
“Please don’t do this,” he whispered.
Kathryn’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of his voice. She gazed up at him, wishing she could grant his request. She saw the worry and want in his eyes and tears started to sting her eyes.
“I have to,” she whispered her reply, her voice shaky and hoarse.
Not caring if she didn’t want his to, although he thought she might, he gathered her in his arms and hugged her tightly to his chest. Kathryn rested her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around his back. Chakotay cradled her head in his hand and lightly kissed the top of her head.
“Please come back to e, Kathryn. I couldn’t live without you. The crew couldn’t live without you. We need you,” he said softly.
“Computer, halt turbolift,” Kathryn ordered.
She pulled away from his slightly and looked up into his face.
“I need you to get them home, Chakotay. If I die over there, which is a possibility, you need to get them home,” she pressed.
“You’re not going to die. You, B’Elanna, and Tuvok are all going to be fine. I wont let them kill you,” he told her, a silent tear trickling down his cheek.
Kathryn brushed the tear away with her thumb and weakly smiled.
“I’ll come back. I promise,” she reassure his softly. “Computer
* * * * *
Kathryn watched out of the forward viewport of the Delta Flyer as Voyager traded fire with the Borg cube that would tranmitt their virus. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end as she saw a green phaser beam skate across Voyager’s shields.
“Statue?” she asked.
“Voyager has sustained damage,” Tuvok reported. “But they are continuing their assault.”
“Come on, Chakotay,” B’Elanna whispered.
Kathryn turned her head at the mention of Chakotay’s name. Her promise to him struck in her mind and she silently swore that she would keep it.
“One of the cube’s shield grids is fluctuating - ventral axis, secondary emitter,” Tuvok reported.
Kathryn took a deep breath. ‘Here we go,’ she thought.
“Cut power,” she ordered. “Thrusters only.”
A moment of silence passed.
“It’s time,” B’Elanna said over the soft blips of the Flyer’s consoles.
“Their ventral shield grid?” Kathryn asked.
“Still fluctuating at a rate of point zero six terahertz,” Tuvok informed her.
“Align our transporters to match,” Kathryn ordered.
“Aye,” Tuvok replied.
Kathryn looked at Voyager on last tome and sighed.
“See you soon,” she whispered.
She stood and joined B’Elanna and Tuvok in the back of the Flyer. The familiar tingle of the transporter beam came and the standard Starfleet interior of the Delta Flyer turned into the greenish, machine-covered interior of the Borg cube.
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