|Star of the County Down
Author: Dana Janeway PM
Please note: Chapters 14 and 16 are rated MA due to mature content. Also, for any new readers, this story is a sequel to Apocrypha, also available on this site.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Adventure - K. Janeway & Chakotay - Chapters: 17 - Words: 18,225 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 05-17-13 - Published: 07-26-11 - id: 7223122
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She looked so sweet from her two bare feet
To the sheen of her bright red hair.
Such a coaxing elf, sure I shook myself
For to see I was really there.
Kathryn adjusted her mark, having judged the stranger to be only slightly to the right of where he actually stood. Her heart froze as her great fear was realized – she stood face to face, albeit at some distance, with a tall, broad-shouldered, angry looking man wearing a Starfleet uniform. Could one of the raiders have somehow escaped Seven's attack on the Borg ship? Or worse, could the corrupt administrators out of San Francisco have become aware of her efforts and come to bring her to justice?
What her racing thoughts had failed to grasp was that this man was clearly alone, and unarmed. Noticing her weapon, he raised his hands in surrender.
"Thank you very much for not shooting!" he called to her rather casually.
Kathryn squinted. She could not make out his face in the sun's glare, but the voice was one she would recognize anywhere.
"I wasn't aware that this is the way people say hello nowadays! It's a little impersonal, but I guess I'll have to get used to it. "
Kathryn let out her breath in frustration. She had half a mind to keep her rifle where it was, but, staying her paranoia, replaced it. Her eyes darted quickly toward the lake.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
He dropped his hands, and moved toward her. Finally she saw the features on his face, his coal-black eyes and his tattoo glinting in the sunlight. "I came to find you. I wanted to tell you that I've kept my commission with Starfleet."
She had a strong desire to stare at him as he came closer, to capture the memory of him one last time, but she fought it off as she could not afford this luxury. "Yes, that much I can see," she said coldly, and turned on her heel.
He pursued her, and took hold of her arm. "No! I'm a spy," he said. "I've been working from the inside, gathering information about the Ultimate Starfleet Officer project."
She stopped moving and faced him, and her face turned deadly pale. "Do you mean to tell me that you've convinced these men of your loyalty, and that you've taken a shuttlecraft out here without them knowing about it?" When he didn't answer, she grabbed his arm and began marching toward the lake.
"You have to get out of here. Now. You have no idea what kind of danger you're in. Chakotay, they'll kill you. I may never know why, but these men are out for my blood and they have given me their promise that they will kill anyone who tries to help me. Don't say anything, just take your ship and go. Maybe you can make it back before you arouse suspicion. Erase your ship's logs, destroy any evidence linking you to me or to this planet. Chakotay, there's no time, please hurry. "
She had her hands on his shoulders, urging him to go but he refused to budge. "Kathryn, " he said, steadying her, "No one has followed me, and there is no way any of them can track my whereabouts, given that my comm badge is conveniently floating somewhere in the San Francisco Bay and with any luck will soon drift into the Pacific. What is this about? "
"I won't do it, Chakotay. You can say anything you want, but I won't let anyone else come to a bad end because of me. "
Kathryn's eyes grew dim, and she looked vaguely ahead, at nothing in particular. "Seven of Nine. She – she altered her physiology, so that the Ultimate Starfleet Officer couldn't get to her. Apocrypha recruited her to be my flight partner, and we intercepted some of the Starfleet men aboard a Borg vessel. " She paused. "Seven destroyed the ship. She had me at gunpoint, and she wouldn't listen. Apocrypha is coming for me at daybreak to survey the debris, but there is no conceivable way she is still alive. "
She did not want to see the sympathy brimming in Chakotay's eyes. "Kathryn, I know how much she meant to you, but you can't blame yourself for this. Seven did what she did because of the Ultimate Starfleet Officer, and she probably thought she had no other choice. In fact, I'm sure she didn`t. "`
Kathryn looked at him deeply, her eyes searching his for a comprehension he was not sure he could offer. "Everyone chooses, Chakotay, " she said sadly. "We do very few things in this life for which we can't hold ourselves responsible. I made my choice a long time ago; I told myself that for better or for worse, I would fight for what I knew was right, that I would stand behind my principles and uphold them to the best of my ability. I didn't know that I was sentencing myself to cause suffering when I had wanted to prevent it. And so I've locked myself away in this ivory tower of logic, and moral fortitude, and ideology, when secretly I've never felt more afraid. "
It was very rare that Kathryn had ever admitted any vulnerability to Chakotay. She seemed, to him, to be ever loathe to describe a fear or worry or anything that might make her seem less of a leader. Chakotay had always found this to be not only irritating but unrealistic, for a leader who truly had no fears or doubts could hardly succeed. But he had let her keep up this façade for as many years as he had known her, and now that it had seemed to suddenly drop, perhaps in a moment of negligence, he found himself at a complete loss as to how to react or what to say. His eyes wandered over her pale face, the scar on her temple and her sun-scorched auburn hair, that was much longer than it had been when last he saw her.
She had most likely caught him staring, and he reddened, and quickly reached into his sack of belongings to withdraw the PADD that the man called Balthasar had given him.
"Here, " he said quietly. "Maybe this will help. "
Reluctantly, she glanced back at the river, and finally gave in, leading him back along the shore. They paused at a clearing not far away from the place where she slept. Chakotay stood over her, and she knelt down by a slim tree and examined the PADD.
"What does this mean? " she asked, looking up at him with inquisitve eyes.
He sighed. "To be honest, I'm not sure. I was contacted by a man, who calls himself a friend. From what I can gather, he has some association with Starfleet but he is working to prevent O'Shaughnessy and his men from succeeding in their project. I think he's afraid for his life, so he didn't tell me very much, he only gave me this. "
"It looks like a map of some kind, or a blueprint. But it isn't regulation. Maybe it's a non-Federation ship. "
"He also had a message for you. "
"A message? "
"He said that the only way to stop the Ultimate Starfleet Officer project is for you to reclaim your captaincy. He said that one way or another, you've got to return to Starfleet."
Kathryn frowned. "But how is that possible? I'll be court martialled if I show my face in San Francisco. "
"I know. "
"Chakotay, why do you find this man convincing? What makes you believe anything he said? "
"Well, " said Chakotay ruefully, "he was the only one who could tell me where to find you. "
Kathryn let the PADD fall, and she gazed at him, long and hard through half-closed eyes, until he began to feel uncomfortable.
"All of those things," began Kathryn, speaking very slowly, as if reasoning aloud, "that you said to me, in the Starfleet holding room where we last saw each other. You, Chakotay, looked me dead in the eyes, and you said that you couldn't follow me anymore, that it was too difficult. You said this was my fight, and that you needed to let me go. And you said -"
Chakotay could not contain his laughter. "Kathryn, there was Starfleet intelligence outside every wall of that cell. I couldn't have said anything else. It would have been a dead giveaway right then and there. " He shook his head, marvelling at how far he had taken this deception. "Did you really believe that after all these years, and after what we've been through together, that I'd just chuck everything I believe in and abandon my best friend in the world? "
She gave no reply, but then she rose from her spot on the ground, her eyes bright with confusion and relief. "Oh Chakotay, " she whispered softly, and she threw her arms about his neck.
He was surprised for a quick moment, and then he held her in return, his strong arms enfolding her, his hands lightly touching her hair. She clasped her hands together, clinging to his neck like a child, and his heart throbbed at the innocence of this touch, something he thought he would never feel. There had been so many harsh words spoken between them, so much anger and vitriol and misunderstanding, and yet through it all, by some miracle he really was her best friend. He could feel that she was crying, and he allowed the tears to sting his own eyes, and fall, and in that moment he waited, and allowed himself to be at peace. Presently she pulled back, only slightly, and tilted her head to look at him. She quietly searched his face, and then she leaned forward shyly, and kissed his mouth.
There was no calculation in this gesture. It was simply as it should have been all those years in the past, the single act of friendship deepening into love. She did not have to say that she had always loved him this way, because he knew and had always known. There was no rush anymore, and so he played with her beautiful lips the way he had always wanted to, and she opened her mouth wider at the sensation. His hands touched her tear-stained face, her hair, the back of her neck, and as he touched her body through the Apocrypha-issued clothing he felt the blood coursing through him, and the full strength of his desire for her. She kissed him again and again, because she could not go on any longer without kissing him, and she pressed her body against him in a silent plea. He found himself wanting to say a million words to her, and then instantly forgetting them all. They played in his mind like music, and seemed to follow the rhythmic movement of her lips upon his, and yet he could never be sure, really, of what he wanted to say. And then he thought somehow that he had surely said it, years ago, standing at a crossroads on New Earth, or in a bunker during the Second World War, or at any other moment in history. For although their small lives would last for but a moment, he felt with a conviction he could not describe that they had always existed in this way, he and his Kathryn, as every pair of lovers throughout time that had ever fought for their love, and lost it, and found it again.