Letters By Kate O'Riley

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Trek. They just didn't do a very good job with it.

Author's note: This makes post "Endgame" story number three for me. But come on! When has ANY fan fic writer denied an idea?

You'd have better know the legend of the angry warrior, or it won't make much sense.

=/\=

Kathryn Janeway sat curled up on her ready room couch, a cup of coffee in her hand, gazing out at the beautiful blue-green sphere she'd waited so long to see. Now that she was actually seeing it, though, she felt an odd, unanticipated emotional mixture. Happiness at having achieved her goal. But laid thickly over that was regret, regret that the seven wonderful years in the Delta Quadrant were over. Now what? she wondered.

Her family was being broken apart. All of her friends would be pulled away from her. The people she lived with, worked with, laughed with. She'd never see Tom and Harry working on a holodeck program again, or B'Elanna under a broken console swearing in half a dozen languages, or the Doctor grumpily mock-protesting his patient's protests. She'd never see Tuvok standing behind Voyager's tactical console, or listen to one of Seven's endless reports.well, every cloud had its silver lining.

But thinking of Seven led her to Chakotay. She was still in shock over what Admiral Janeway had told her. Had the life she'd lived in the future calloused her that much? So much, that she told her younger self Chakotay would betray her, when she knew she loved him?

But she still loved him! Janeway realized. The look in Admiral Janeway's eyes when she had seen Chakotay. That little, quirky smile. The way her voice had softened slightly when she spoke to him. Kathryn recognized them well. She went through the same things.

So her older self had been in love with Chakotay still, even after he'd abandoned his love for her. Kathryn didn't know if that comforted her or not.

Suddenly, the computer beeped, startling her out of her reverie. She walked over to her desk and pushed the button. It was a delayed-delivery message.from Admiral Janeway.

Kathryn, You don't know how much I envy you. You have the ability to correct what I couldn't. You love Chakotay. I was you, I know. You'll always love him. I know that too, better than you can. Twenty-six years in the future, I loved him still. I loved him as he lay dying. I feel so ashamed of myself. As Chakotay lay there, getting weaker, I could have told him I loved him. I didn't. I have regretted it since. The funeral was a torture session. For some reason, I had to perform it. We know how much it's hurt, just the funerals for Voyager's crewmembers. Imagine having to do that for Chakotay. Multiply it by a hundred. That's what it was like. All I could think was "Why didn't I tell him?" We both know that we'd do whatever it took, as long as Chakotay were happy. Kathryn, I never told you. He married Seven, but his pain at her death was not so much the pain of a husband losing his wife, as it was the pain of someone being betrayed. I was still so self-righteous. So centered on protocol. After all the years I'd spent pushing him away, it'd become a habit. And I continued to push. After Seven's death, Chakotay began to withdraw into himself. He'd perform his duties, but that was it. He became a robot. He never smiled, never laughed. He never socialized with the crew. He never ate dinner with me. He pushed away everyone. When he died, he'd appointed me executor of his estate. He didn't have much. But when I went into his apartment, I was stunned at what I saw. He had some pictures of him and Seven, but most of it was pictures of him and I. All over the place. From our first years in the Delta Quadrant, to a picture of me taken just a few months before. I had to go through his desk. I found his personal journal. Kathryn, I read it. Maybe I shouldn't have. It dated back to Delta Quadrant days. I won't reveal all of it, but I will reveal the most important information; Kathryn, he still loves you. Even though he's been seeing Seven, right now, he still loves you. That's part of why I timed my visit as I did. Kathryn, you have a chance to fix what I messed up. I've helped get you back. Now, it's your responsibility to toss protocol out the airlock. Tell him, Kathryn. Tell him, before you're tortured as I was. Kathryn

Kathryn sat back, stunned. Then, after a moment, she picked up a PADD and began to write.

=/\=

Chakotay heard the console beep. Pressing the button, he began to read.

Chakotay, There was once a woman warrior. She was considered by some to be bold, and brave, but she knew she wasn't. She was scared. She was scared of many things, especially because her tribe was in a place, far away from home. But the thing that scared her most was the angry warrior who had joined with her. He had promised to ease her burdens, and he had, more times than she could count. She knew that if she needed someone to help her, the angry warrior would be there. But the angry warrior added to her burdens as well. She loved the angry warrior, and she did for years. She could not let the angry warrior know she loved him, for she was afraid, afraid that something would happen to the angry warrior, afraid that if she loved him, and something happened, the pain would be greater than if she told herself she didn't love him. After many years, the woman warrior got her tribe to their home. But the angry warrior had begun to show interest in another of the woman warrior's tribe members, a young woman with blond hair. This hurt the woman warrior very much, for the young woman was like a family member to her. It hurt her that the man she loved no longer seemed to love her. Now, the woman warrior is home. Her tribe is about to be split apart. She may never know if the angry warrior still loves her. But she still loves him. She will love the angry warrior until the day she dies.

Kathryn

Chakotay sat back, stunned for a moment. A slow smile crept across his face as he began to write a reply.

=/\=

There it was. The beep Kathryn had been both hoping for and dreading. With trembling fingers, she pressed the button and began to read the letter.

Kathryn, The angry warrior had always loved the woman warrior. But after several years, he became confused about how the woman warrior felt about him. Sometimes she would act like she loved him, sometimes she would act like they were merely friends. Finally, he decided the woman warrior did not love him. This caused him much pain. The young woman with blond hair had shown interest in the angry warrior, for she did not know the ways of love. She asked that the angry warrior teach her to love others. The angry warrior went through much grief, but finally decided he would, for the woman warrior he adored no longer loved him. But the young woman was a cold creature, not used to deep feelings; not at all like the beautiful woman warrior. So the angry warrior was unhappy, but he helped the young woman, even though he could not love her. He decided to spend the rest of his days loving the woman warrior.even if it didn't seem that way. He vowed if he knew the woman warrior still loved him, he would be by her side in a second. The angry warrior loves the woman warrior.very, very, much. Chakotay

Kathryn stood up and ran to the door of her quarters. It opened, barely in time, and she attempted to go through before it was completely opened. But she ran straight into something large and solid. "Oof!" Before she could fall, a pair of arms wrapped around her and held her tightly, before moving her back into her quarters. She clung to Chakotay, tears running down her face, his tears mingling with hers as he bent his head over hers. All they could do was clutch each other and whisper the other's name.

After what seemed like such a short period of time, but could have been an hour, for all she knew, Chakotay guided her over to her couch and they sat down. She leaned her head on his chest, listening to his heart, feeling deliriously happy.

After a few minutes, Chakotay broke the silence. "Does the woman warrior still love the angry warrior, even though he was foolish?"

Kathryn reached her hand up and stroked his cheek. "Yes," she said softly. "The woman warrior still loves the angry warrior.very, very, much."

"I love you, Kathryn."

"I love you too, Chakotay."

And the woman warrior and the angry warrior lived happily ever after.

The beginning.