Great thanks to Helen8462 for her suggestions and beta work. The story's end is all the much better for her input.
Day 32 - Family
My First Officer sees options I close my mind to, choices I can't contemplate as yet. He is right to point out those possibilities although he knows that 'abandon ship' is not in my vocabulary. I can't let dead crew members or an unlucky teacup dictate the ship's fate.
As long as Voyager's in one piece, we stay.
I can't break up the family. I won't split up the crew. It will take a lot more bad luck, many more hard knocks to make me reconsider. Together, Chakotay and I will keep the ship intact.
We're stronger as a team.
Day 47 - Titanic
The irony does not escape me. Like every Starfleet cadet, I know of the magnificent ship sporting the best technology of the day. Four hundred and sixty years before Voyager was launched, there was birthed the Unsinkable Ship.
It sank, I say. During its fateful maiden voyage, drifting to a dark icy grave, captain at the helm. A grand gesture which didn't expunge his responsibility for recognising too late the hull crushing signs of his ship's death.
Chakotay knows that if the end demands it, I'll stay.
Alone. Shirt tucked in.
I just hope he'll stay safe.
Day 65 – Birthday
Time snaps at my heels, threatening to trip me closer to failure. The ship is disintegrating around us, hardly a home anymore. More like the derelict raft Chakotay tells me about, the shiny watch in his hand, his thoughtfulness wrapped around it.
I throw him an excuse. A pathetic, stupid reference to meals and boots that feels a lie as soon as I say it. Time is what I am afraid of, time passing me by, ticking ever so silently.
He moves away. I've hurt him once again, as I do so well.
I wonder if he'll keep the watch.
Day 70 – Chakotay
Chakotay is gone, taken by a tinkerer playing with time like a dog bothering a bone. How long has Annorax been fooling around with everybody's past? What of my own? How many times has it been erased and rebirthed?
I ache for Chakotay, but what is the truth of that longing? As much as I want my feelings for him to be immune to time shuffling, they might disappear next time Annorax unleashes his weapon. Or they might have never existed until now and I own feelings which were never mine.
Right now, I want him back at my side.
Day 73 – Escape pods
Chakotay forewarned me barely a month ago that I would split the family.
We will find each other again.
How well I lie. I've thrown my crew into the unknown again. They followed me when I wanted to go home faster, straying into Annorax' territory. Now I'm abandoning them to the whims of a time lord bent on building a future from genocide.
But there is reason behind my madness to cling to Voyager and seek to end Annorax' reign. Just surviving, day after day, is not enough. I've lost my crew. I've lost Chakotay.
I can't lose my ship.