Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything but my original ideas.

A small scene for Shattered.

The Ready Room

By Anne TM

Kathryn followed Chakotay as they climbed through the ship. After the volatile encounter with the Maquis, he suggested this circumspect route. He told her that it would be in her best interest to avoid encounters with her future. She started to argue but when she looked at his face something in his eyes made her agree. He seemed to be protecting her and he seemed to be very good at it. Maybe there was more to this man than met the eye. As she watched him climb on ahead, she had to admit, if only to herself, that what met the eye was pretty good too.

"Your ready room is next." Chakotay opened the hatch that led from the Jeffries tube and climbed into the room. He reached out his hand to help her climb out. Her breathing was slightly labored and her cheeks were flushed. Chakotay saw the vibrancy in her eyes that he remembered from days past. The years had taken a heavy toll on her. He wanted to tell her to turn around and never take the ship out of dock. Short of that he wanted to wrap his strong arms around her and protect form all the evils that the Delta Quadrant had in store for her. But he could do neither so he led her to the panel where the gel packs were located.

"Mail call."

Kathryn watched as a strange hairy man in very colorful clothes came toward her with a PADD. He had entered through a side door that she assumed led to a corridor along the side of the ready room.

"Captain it is your lucky day, there is a letter for you." He handed her the PADD.

Before she could speak, Chakotay jumped in. "Anything for me Neelix?"

"Sorry Commander, no. I must say though you do look very different in that outfit."

Chakotay turned and saw that Kathryn had crossed the room and was seated on the couch beneath the view port. He needed to distract her before she read the PADD. "Captain, Neelix just noticed my outfit. Why don't you explain the scene we are rehearsing for the next talent night?"

Kathryn stood up but her knees wobbled. She steadied herself and returned to Chakotay side. "As the Commander said we are rehearsing a scene. We thought it might be nice to reenact the first day we met. When we were on opposite sides so to speak."

Neelix was staring at her. "That is a very interesting choice, Captain."

Chakotay ushered the man toward the door. "You know, to celebrate our four years together. It's kind of like reminiscing."

The door closed as he replied, "I look forward to it."

Chakotay turned in time to see the Captain slump onto the couch. She looked up from the PADD with tears brimming in her eyes. "He married someone else."

Chakotay crossed the room and knelt before her. He took the PADD and laid it on the table. "You shouldn't have read that and he didn't marry some else yet. He will marry her in the future when he thinks that you are dead."

A tear rolled down her cheek. "Does that make it any better?"

"No, it doesn't."

She nodded her head in agreement. "How did we get those letters?"

He took her small hands in his. "We discovered an array that allowed us to send and receive information across great distances."

"So even though we were stranded here we were able to communicate with Starfleet and our families on Earth."

He unconsciously ran his thumb across the back of her hand. "No, not at first. We were not able to communicate with the Alpha Quadrant on a regular basis until well into our fifth year out here. This was a one-time only event until then."

She softly chuckled. "A one-time only event and I get a Dear John letter."

Now it was Chakotay's turn to laugh.

She pulled her hands form his and wiped her eyes. "What's so funny?"

"You said almost the exact same words when it happened."

Kathryn put her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hand as she watched her future first officer, her future friend, and if her instincts were right her future something else. "What else did I say?"

Chakotay knew he shouldn't tell her. But he looked up and saw her crooked smile and he was lost. "You told me that you should have expected it but it hurt anyway."

He shifted his weight as he spoke and Kathryn knew that he was holding something back. "There's more isn't there?"

He stood up and readied himself to complete their mission. "You said that your safety net for becoming involved with someone was now gone."

She followed him over to the panel. They both bent down and did their job. Before he could get up she put her hand on his arm. "That's not the whole story, is it?"

He looked down at her hand. She had touched him a thousand time but something about her here and now made it feel new again. "No."

She looked up at him expectantly. Her face was inches from him. "Tell me."

"You asked me what you should do?"

Kathryn's brows furrowed. "What do you mean?"

Chakotay used her elbow to pull her up and guide her toward the side door. She had already seen way too much of the future so why should they bother crawling through the ship. It would be better to move fast and get this damn ship back to where it belonged. "You said, tell me Chakotay what should I do, hold fast to protocol or indulge my feelings"?

Kathryn stopped and pulled him until he turned and faced her. Her hand had slipped form his arm and it was now firmly planted on his chest. "What did you say?"

He smiled when he realized that they were standing in the exact same position right now as they had been then. He often wondered if he had made a huge mistake that night. Maybe this was his one chance to change his destiny but he couldn't. He couldn't take advantage of her now any more than he could then. "I told you that you had plenty of time to think about it."

She tilted her head to side and grinned up at him. "Not a very offensive move for a Maquis rebel."

Her hand remained on his chest and he swore he could feel it through the layers of his clothes. She looked so tiny standing in front of him. So small and yet so provocative. "As a master tactician, I knew it was time to retreat. My opponent was not ready for the onslaught and it would have been cruel to forge ahead."

"A soldier and a philosopher, and appealing combination." She turned and once again headed for the door. "And if I had been ready."

In the short time, he had been with her she had worn him down most of his defenses. "I would have wrapped you in my arms and kissed you senseless."

He couldn't believe his ears as he watched her walk out of the ready room doors.

"That sounds like the only thing I have to look forward to in this god forsaken quadrant."