Chakotay pushed the door to Rinax open and let it shut with a bang. Turning on his heel, he marched himself down to HQ. Janeway would still be there, and after over a year of not seeing her, he felt as though it was long over due. Not to mention, as a once close friend of hers, she needed to know what was going on with her husband.
About half way enroute, Chakotay's stomach began to knot up. Who was he fooling? He hadn't seen Kathryn in over a year and his heart was aching to. Even if she believed him about Justin, she was married-- and just because her husband was cheating on her, it didn't' give her a right to cheat on him. Of course, there was always the chance she'd just get mad at Chakotay for dropping by in her life again, or she could always give him a hug, give him some coffee, give him an hour of talking, and give him the door-- which actually wouldn't be so bad.
Chakotay swallowed hard as he stepped into the small room outside her office. No one was there, it was late for even Kathryn to be there. Briefly, Chakotay wondered if she would even be there. But, of course she would. How else would Justin have an opportunity? Silently, Chakotay slipped past the secretary's desk and to the main office.
He knocked softly. Twice. No answer. Cautiously, he pushed open the door.
Kathryn was sitting at her desk, coffee cup in hand, forgotten padds strewn across the desk. The computer console blinked, casting a bluish glow on her face, but she wasn't concentrating on it.
The woman, whose jacket now sported five pips, was staring out the window, which at night held a view of lights and excitement from the park below them. Her hair, which almost immediately caught Chakotay's attention was just barely past her shoulders again. Not long as when she had worn it in the pony tail, but not nearly as short as she had had it.
Janeway's head jerked around. "Chakotay!" Her coffee cup crashed to the desk as her eyes grew wide in shock. "Oh!" She pushed back from the desk as the dark liquid and shards of the mug spew across the desk.
"Sorry." He looked at her apologetically.
"It's all right. I-" Her hand flittered to her face and pushed back the hair as she fluttered around the mess, "I wasn't paying attention. It's quite all right." Realizing she was babbling, Janeway looked nervously up at Chakotay who was smiling at her.
"I feel like an idiot." She admitted with a grin.
Chakotay quietly moved to the replicator and called for some towels which he wiped the mess from her desk with. After the mug had been replaced in the waste disposal system, he came to stand before her.
"It's been a long time."
"Too long, Chakotay." She took a step forward and was in his arms before he could register the movement.
His arms slid around her small frame as he held her close, savoring the moment until-- just as he knew she would-- she pulled back.
"Why didn't' you come to the wedding?"
Chakotay's eyes clouded over. "Kathryn, do you have to ask why?"
She took a deep breath. "No, I guess I don't." Kathryn slipped into one of the chairs that had faced her desk. "Have a seat." She smiled ruefully. "I'm afraid I don't have a comfortable couch anymore, but the chairs will have to do."
"So," She crossed her legs and folded her hands over her knees. "To what pleasure do I owe this visit?"
"So formal?" He teased and then grinned at the slight blush in her cheeks. He looked down at his hands for a long moment.
"Chakotay?" Her hand was instantly on his arm, a comforting and familiar gesture.
When he looked up again, his eyes revealed a complete amount of seriousness. "Kathryn," He stumbled and had to start again. "Kay, I wasn't planning on seeing you while we're docked here."
She smiled again. "That's right, congratulations are in order, Captain."
"Thanks." He didnt' smile. "We're here for a few hours to have some minor repairs done." He shrugged. "I should have just stayed on the ship."
"But you didn't, you came to see me." She smiled. "Thank you."
"Hold your thanks." Chakotay leaned back and ran a hand through his hair. "I decided I wasn't going to come here, even if we were on Earth. So, I went to Rinax to see Neelix. While we were talking," He hesitated, "I saw Justin there,...with another woman."
Kathryn withdrew her hand from Chakotay's arm slowly. "Chakotay? What are you saying?"
"He's cheating on you, Kay."
Kathryn leaned back in her chair. "Justin would never do such a thing." She did her best not to glare at Chakotay, the last time they'd fought she hadn't heard from him for over a year. "You don't' know him. It was probably just a dinner meeting."
Chakotay drew in a deep breath. He really hadn't wanted to tell her, just to be with her. And now, he certainly didn't want to describe the issue which was at hand. "Kathryn, this was not a dinner meeting."
"You can't be sure of that, Chakotay." She stood up and wandered to her window. "I refuse to believe that he would cheat on me like that. It's so unlike Justin it's not plausible."
"No. Don't, 'Kathryn' me, Commander." She spun around and glared at him. "The last time I saw you, you told me he was going to break my heart and you'd be there for me to pick up the pieces. Is this your idea of trying to win me back? Break my heart by lying?" She stalked over to him. "It. Won't. Work. I love Justin. And he loves me."
"I know you love him!" Chakotay burst out. "Don't you think I realize that?! Why else would I not come to your wedding? I knew there was no chance for me to win you, and I couldn't bear to see you marry him!"
"Kay, if there was anything I could change, it'd be this. I don't want you hurt, and I realize I'm only your second choice. I love you so much, I'd rather not have you, but allow you to be happy-"
"Then quit trying to take my happiness away!" She snapped, blue eyes shooting flames as she returned to the window.
"I'm not trying to!" Chakotay bellowed. "I just want for you to see the truth so you can deal with it!" He watched Kathryn's back. Her arms were folded over her stomach, her shoulders rose and fell in an irregular pattern. She was crying, he realized. Oh spirits, he'd never meant to make her cry. "Kath?"
She stiffened at his touch on her shoulder before turning to face him. Tears streamed down the sides of her face, which she ignored. "Chakotay, Justin and I have been having some problems. Just minor ones." She rushed on. "We've been talking about them and are working on them. That's how I know he'd never cheat on me at this point in our life. We're both trying to make this work."
"He's quit trying though!" Chakotay insisted.
"And you're going to hold by this story?" She glared at him through her watered eyes. "Commander, I really thought you had more integrity than that. I'm having enough problems with this new marriage without your adding to them!"
"Kathryn Janeway, listen to me!" He grabbed her by the shoulders. "I love you and only want your happiness."
"Yeah," she snapped, "As long as it is in accordance with your happiness."
"Listen to yourself!" He implored. "You're trying to believe that I would hurt you to win you over! Kat, that's not me! You know me. You lived next door to me for eight years. You served with me for eight years. For most of that time, we were the person closest to each other. You know I would never hurt you!"
Kathryn shook herself out of Chakotay's grasp. "Apparently, you've changed."
Chakotay raked a hand through his hair again. "Fine." He snapped. "I've changed and become this ogre who's out to kill your happiness."
"I never said you were out to kill my happiness!"
"You did. 'I have enough problems without your adding to them.'" He mimicked her higher voice and stance. "Kathryn, you're going to believe what you want. Just listen to me this time. Watch Justin. Watch him carefully."
"I don't' need to baby-sit my husband!"
"Well, maybe it's time you do!" Chakotay turned his back to her and drew in a deep breath.
"No, don't' you dare turn your back on me now!" She snapped and grabbed his shoulder.
Her touch burned through his uniform as he turned back to her, the fire of anger burning within his eyes. "If you would listen to me and take heed of what I'm saying, I wouldn't get so angry!" He shouted at her. "I'm leaving, Kathryn. If you ever want to talk to me again, you come to me."
"Fine, Commander, act like a coward and run from your fights."
Chakotay paused in the door way. "It's captain, Mrs. Tighe."
"Set course for the Mars colony. Warp six." Captain Chakotay managed to hide his rolling emotions behind the mask of the captain. Taking his seat on the bridge of his ship, he couldn't help but feel a bit of nostalgic for his seat on Voyager with his captain beside him. Glancing to his left, Chakotay saw Commander Riv'Kart cast a sideways glance at him. She was a good XO, especially as her part Klingon heritage allowed her to enforce the rules and decisions with a simple glare, but she wasn't close to Chakotay as he and Kathryn had been. He wouldn't allow it, for one thing. Another, in the Alpha Quadrant, reassigning officers was not uncommon, growing close to another person was a dangerous thing-- emotionally.
He shook himself out of his reverie and stood. "Nothing, Commander. You have the bridge." Chakotay made the way quickly to his ready room and sat down at the desk. There were a few reports he needed to go over, but he couldn't concentrate. Seeing Kathryn and Neelix had left him wondering what had happened to the other crew members after they'd gone their separate ways.
He, himself, had been reinstated as a full commander to Starfleet. After a small skirmish in sector 2283, with a Cardassian merchant who still opposed the peace treaty, Captain Hiksulo had been killed, leaving Chakotay in command. He had managed to disable, not destroy, the Cardassians, by using a trick from his Maquis days. Limping back to Starbase 83, Starfleet had heard of the episode and granted him full commission of the Dalberry. He was proud of his little ship, the ninth Intrepid class ship to be built. And had bravely led her to more than one battle in order to keep peace.
But, now it seemed Starfleet had better ideas for the beautiful ship-- tote tourists and dignitaries around the quadrant.
"Riv'Kart to Captain Chakotay, we'll be approaching the Mars colony within twenty minutes."
"Acknowledged. Enter standard orbit and inform me then." Chakotay closed the comm signal and traced a finger over the face in a holopicture on his desk. Kathryn. His heart constricted in anger. How could she think he'd lie like that to her!? She, of all people, knew how much he loved and cared for her. While they were in the Delta Quadrant, he'd never pressed her about a relationship-- at least, he didn't consider the on going joke about eloping with the Maquis as pressing her-- and he had always made it very clear to any alien that they would have to go through him first if they wanted to hurt her. He knew it unnerved her, but he couldn't turn off those actions for anything. He'd tried.
A flash of red caught the corner of his eye. Turning to the window, Chakotay gazed down at the Mars colony. Once thought to hold it's own species, complete with green skin and antennas, it was soon discovered that Mars was simply another planet which-- if properly transformed-- could sustain life.
Involuntarily, Chakotay thought back to the time Kathryn had told him she'd been swimming and diving in the quarries below. His heart had hammered with fear and he'd made her swear she'd never do it again, at least, not without him there to protect her. She had laughed at him, but made the promise.
"We've entered orbit." Riv'Kart's voice came through the comm system.
"Ok, thanks Commander." Chakotay quickly flipped on his terminal. HQ would be hailing him soon and he figured it was best-
"Captain, HQ is hailing us."
"Patch it in here."
"Welcome, Dalberry." The lieutenant at the console greeted him while still shuffling through data padds on his desk. "This is a tourist vessel this time, correct?"
"All right. You're cleared for transport." The lieutenant nodded quickly at Chakotay and then flipped the screen off.
Chakotay relayed the information to transporter rooms 1 and 2 and then leaned back. A few hours of dropping off guests, and picking up a few others, and they'd be on their way again.
Chakotay tossed in his bed. He was dreaming of something, something he wouldn't be able to remember when he awakened. A hand snaked out and clutched the pillow beside him. In his dreams, another hand pulled him further into a white mist. Hgin.apped his arms around his pillow tightly and whimpered quietly in his slumber.
"No!" Suddenly, he sat up straight in bed.
It was that dream. The one that had been plaguing him for a few weeks. He wiped the perspiration from his face with a hand and then got up. Splashing cold water on his face he glanced at the chronometer before tugging on his sweats. It was only 0300, but he wasn't going to be able to sleep. Might as well do what he'd always done when he couldn't sleep. Run.
The Dalberry wasn't near as big as Voyager, but her six decks were still enough to make up a decent sized jogging track. The officers on duty barely glanced up as Chakotay ran past -- they were used to his late night excursions.
Slap. Slap. The soles of his jogging shoes hit the carpeted floor with just enough force to exert a sound. Slap. Slap. He rounded the corner. Why did she have to irritate him so much? Chakotay squeezed his fists into tight balls. It had been nearly a month since their fight, but he was still feeling the heat from it. Slap. Slap. His anger had not diminished at all. He was still livid at her for even thinking he could be so cold towards her. She should know him better! He loved her! Slap. Sla- Tumble!
Chakotay slapped the insignia on his chest as he picked himself up off the floor. "Bridge, what happened?"
"Sorry, Captain." Lt. Cherkitte, the helm officer, replied. "I had to make some sudden course adjustments. You might want to be up here for this."
"On my way." Chakotay jogged to the turbolift and promptly ordered "Deck one."
The doors slid open to reveal a tiny shuttlecraft on the view screen, adrift. "Status?"
"I've been hailing her, sir." Lt. Meloria answered. "No response yet."
"They are adrift," The Chief of Security, Lt. Comdr. Tashvak added. "No power to weapons. No power at all."
"Two. One is very erratic."
"Beam them both directly to sickbay. Behind a containment field. We don't know who they are. For all I know, they're sympathetic to the Cardassian resistance."
"Aye, sir." Meloria's hands moved over the console. "Transport complete."
"I'll be in sickbay."
Chakotay stopped by his quarters to grab a quick shower and a uniform. Twenty minutes later, the was standing in sickbay.
"Captain," Dr. Ta'Kwat hurried over to him. "I've done the best I could for that one over there." He pointed out a biobed where a Klingon female, approximately twenty five years old lay on the biobed. "But, it wasn't enough. She died minutes after beaming her aboard. The other one seems to be doing better. Only a few minor burns which I was able to repair. She's as good as new now. And," he continued as a moan emitted from her still form. "She's waking up."
Chakotay moved forward and felt his heart stop in his chest. White-blond hair spilled around her face and framed her shoulders. Her skin, a pale, milky color, was even more ashen than he had ever remembered her. "Sveta..." He whispered.
Gray eyes flickered open and she found his face. "Chakotay?" She managed to whisper in awe.
"I take it you know one another?" Dr. Ta'Kwat asked with a wide smile.
"Yes." Chakotay swallowed the lump in his throat.
"Well, ma'am. You're lucky to have survived. Your partner was not quite so lucky."
Sveta looked over where the Klingon lay on her biobed. "K'Kara." She whispered hoarsely, a tear falling from her eyes.
"Is Sveta free to go, Doctor?" Chakotay asked bluntly.
"Fine, fine." The Doctor ran a tricorder over Sveta. "You're able to be released from sickbay if you wish."
"She does." Chakotay carefully helped her off the biobed and allowed her to lean on him for support. Walking slowly, he led her to the messhall where they ordered a meal for her and coffee for him. *Curse Kathryn, for getting me hooked on coffee.*
"How did you come to be in that little shuttle stranded?" Chakotay finally asked.
"After the Maquis were dissolved, K'Kara and I joined a small crew of merchants. We were the lucky ones who escaped the wrath of the Cardassians. We were with them for a while, and just now had broken away from the crew and were headed back to Earth." She lowered her head suddenly. "Some of the resisting Cardassians found us and tried to destroy us, but they had been heavily damaged too. Our phasers were enough to destroy the rest of their shields and tear a gash in the side of their hull. Last we saw of them, they were limping away, barely alive and confident we'd be dead within a week. Which we would have been."
Chakotay gazed at this woman, this girl whom he had loved while still a cadet at the academy. "You're safe here." He finally told her with a smile.
She reached over and clasped his hand, "Thank you, Chakotay." She looked around the room for a minute before meeting his eyes again. "Tell me about yourself. I haven't seen you since you were headed for the Badlands. Though, I did hear the reports that you'd been transported with a Starfleet vessel to the Delta Quadrant."
So, Chakotay told her. He told her of how Captain Kathryn Janeway had allowed him and his crew to join hers and how their crews had molded to form one single unit-- a family really. He told Sveta of some of the battles they had fought, of their return journey, and then of his promotion to captain.
"You love her, don't you?"
Chakotay stiffened, startled she had been able to read him so clearly. "Who?" He asked guarded.
"Of course, she was a very close friend for many years."
Sveta smiled. "Did you ever tell her you love her?"
Chakotay looked away. "I'd rather talk about something else."
"Like how you've got to be on duty in ten minutes?"
Chakotay's head swung to the chronometer. 0750. "How did you know?..." He wondered aloud at her.
"The captain of the trading ship was an old Starfleet captain. Insisted on running everything by the book, including schedules. 0800 every morning he was on the bridge." She wrinkled her nose at him. "Kinda annoying, but it gave us time to get everything in order and hide what he didn't need to see."
He smiled at her and stood. "Well, you kept me talking for over four hours, least I can let you do is get some sleep. Quarters 4-15-A are free. I know that for a fact because we just left a bunch of tourists on Mars. I'll make arrangements to take you where ever you want, but get some sleep and then come to me later."
"Ok." Standing, she brushed a peck of a kiss on his cheek before exiting the room. Several crew members hid smiles and snickers behind napkins and hands as Chakotay followed her.
"Then what?" Sveta slid closer to Chakotay's side as he described Voyager's encounter with the Borg.
"We,..ah,....we beamed them directly into space. With the exception of one, Seven of Nine, we were successful." Chakotay shifted slightly.
"Seven? She's the one who came back with you, right?" Sveta rested her hand on Chakotay's. "I heard about her in all the excitement. Something about her being granted admittance at the Academy."
"Yeah, she's over there now."
"And you're finally captain of a Starfleet ship." Sveta smiled at him proudly, gray eyes grinning at him. "I knew you'd make it one day."
Chakotay accepted the compliment with a nod and then wondered at himself. Here he was, sitting in his quarters with a beautiful woman hanging onto his every word. And, she had been an old girlfriend he had loved, at that! Yet, all he could think of was how hurt Kathryn would be if she knew. Chakotay made a decision then. She had hurt him, it was time for him to go on with his life. Sliding an arm around Sveta's shoulders, he encouraged her to talk about the Maquis.
Sweat beaded across his forhead. Chakotay lay, still tossing in a fitful dream, on his back, one hand clenching his pillow.
"Kathryn." He whimpered. "No..."
He flipped to his side and curled into a fetal position. "No....no...no..." He whispered over and over again. Jerking to the side, he suddenly sat up with a gasp.
It was a dream. Only a dream. Trying to calm his ragged breathing, he wondered once again what was causing the dreams.
Snatches from it-- Kathryn glaring at him on a cold beach, Sveta pulling him towards a white mist, crew members welcoming him to the white mist, pure panic-- swirled around in his thoughts. Then, just as the mist had, they began to fade away. As he drifted off to sleep again, he remembered nothing of the startling dreams which had woken him.
Chakotay tapped his computer terminal. Three new messages from HQ. Glancing briefly at them, he noted that two were over a month old and a new one had appeared. All from Admiral Janeway-Tighe. He ignored them and went on to Admiral Meskosy's. Just a few lines informing him that the Dalberry was to make an unscheduled stop at Riza for some more tourists. Chakotay inwardly groaned. Exactly what he needed-- more people on vacation running around his ship.
"I've made a decision, Chakotay."
He looked up and saw Sveta framed in the doorway. "About?"
"Where I'm going to go." She reminded him with a smile. "I'm going to stay here, if you'll have me."
He returned the smile and stood to move towards her. "Of course, Sveta."
The tall blond flew into his arms and pressed herself close. "She doesn't matter?"
"Of course not. I do have to live my life after all." He reminded her.
"Thank you, Chakotay." Her hand found the back of his neck and pulled his lips down to meet his. "Thank you...." She whispered against his mouth. "I love you."
"I...I love you too."
She pulled back and looked at him suddenly. "Do you? Do you really?"
"If I didn't, I wouldn't be kissing you." He smiled and tightened his arms around her.
"This is true." She grinned back at him before allowing him to continue with their kiss.
Moments later, they pulled back and smiled at one another.
"I'm going to need a post." She finally said. "I can't expect you to give me quarters and tote me around the galaxy without working for it."
"I hadn't thought of that." Chakotay returned to his desk and closed his message box. "It looks like they need some help in the kitchen." He smiled ruefully at her. "How are your cooking skills?"
"Mediocre." She laughed. "I'll try not to kill anyone though."
"If it gets too bad, we can always reassign you to security and have you feed our enemies."
"Thanks alot!" She turned on her heel. "I'm going to head down to the mess hall right now and see if they need help."
"See you at lunch then." Chakotay watched her stalk out of the doorway and was reminded of Kathryn's cooking skills-- or rather lack of. He reached for a cup of coffee. *Darn her for making him love coffee and darn her for making him love her!*
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Sveta watched from across the room as Chakotay flipped on his console to retrieve a message that was apparently marked urgent from Starfleet. His eyes clouded over and he glared at the screen before flipping it back off.
"What was it?" She asked softly, meeting him in the middle of his sitting room with a hug.
"Nothing." He folded her into his warm embrace and stroked her back.
"Starfleet doesn't make you glare, Chakotay. Who was it from?"
"Kathryn." He spat the name out as if it tasted bad. "It's the eighth message I've gotten from her in two months."
"Have you answered them?"
"I haven't read them!"
"Thank you very much, ma'am. But, I'd prefer not to."
"Chakotay," She laid a hand on the side of his face. "You have to face her sometime. Might as well get it over with."
"I don't have to face her. I already did that twice. Both times, we ended up not speaking. And, as she was the one to claim that I've changed and am out to break her and Justin up, I'm not going to answer or even allow her the pleasure of knowing that I've read her messages!"
Chakotay pushed Sveta out of his arms and sat down with his head in his hands on the couch.
"You don't understand, Sveta. The other times we've fought, I was always the one ready to go back to her at a moment's notice. She hurt me this time though. Claimed I was willing to hurt her if I thought it'd help her turn to me." He looked up at Sveta with tears in his eyes. Tears of anger. "I would never hurt her, and she knows it! It was her way of punishing me, I think."
"Shhhh, Chakotay." Sveta sat down and put her arms around him. "I know you'd never hurt anyone." She snuggled her face into his chest.
"You're right.." He took a deep breath. "And, I've said all I needed to say to her. We're over and through. I guess that technically, we never started. Besides," He cuddled her face close to him, "I've got you."
His bedding had been tossed to the floor after a late night run to think through his feelings. It wouldn't have mattered now, his pillow joined the blanket on the floor as Chakotay tossed in his bed.
"No!" He whimpered in his sleep as he curled into a ball and then threw his legs out straight. Sveta was there again. Pulling him through the mist, away from Kathryn. Justin was there also. Pulling Kathryn and her out stretched hand away from Chakotay.
"Kathryn..." He whispered. "Don't leave me."
"Chakotay...you hurt me..."
Sveta managed to make him lose sight of Kathryn. Instantly, he felt panic and fear as the white mist closed around him.
Chakotay picked up a rock and threw it out at the sea. Not sure why he did it, but knowing it must stand for something in his life. Back in his quarters, the rock had actually been a pillow. It hit the window and fell to the floor bringing a picture with it.
The captain sat straight up in bed, oped ther on bed as his sheets and pillows were scattered about the room. He remembered. He remembered the dream. Looking around, he spotted the old fashioned paper he had kept-- a story he'd started sometime during the fourth year on Voyager about him falling in love with someone and not being able to remember it, kind of silly really, but he'd kept it. Grabbing the paper and pen, he know jotted down the memories of the dream as they began to recede.
Kathryn. Sveta. Being pulled from Kathryn to Sveta. Justin. Rock. Panic. He raked a hand through his hair. What did it mean? Was Sveta pulling him away from Kathryn? Hadn't he made the choice to leave her by himself? But, what of the feeling of panic that had risen the instant Kathryn was out of sight? Did it mean that the instant he lost all contact with Kathryn, he would feel panic?
Well, he had made his decision. Answering her messages was not an option. Gathering the blankets, Chakotay remade his bed and crawled back in. If the dreams persisted, he would simply get a sleep aide from the doctor.