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Summary: Chakotay thinks he knows Kathryn Janeway. He knows who she is, but he doesn't know why she's the way she is. These stories occur in the same universe as my "Night and Day" episode additions.
Note: To help the reader keep track of the dates used here, according to the Stardate calculators I've found, Voyager returned to Earth in "Endgame" on December 22, 2377.
"Guilt always hurries toward its complement, punishment: only there does its satisfaction lie." Lawrence Durrell
June 22, 2378--San Francisco
"Kathryn did you a favor, Chakotay." Admiral Owen Paris sat down on the stool next to Voyager's former first officer and gestured the bartender for a beer before he glanced at Chakotay. "You want another?"
"Why not?" It was after midnight, and the chatter and music from the promotion party in the nearby reception room was muted in the dark, deserted bar. Chakotay waited for the beer to arrive and then lifted it in salute. "Here's to Starfleet's newest admiral."
Paris raised his beer, as well. "Admiral Janeway. It's been awhile since I've heard that name and rank together." Paris sipped the beer and wiped the foam off his upper lip with a napkin. 'Since before Kathryn's dad was killed, she's been determined to make admiral. I never doubted for a minute that it'd happen sooner or later."
"I'm so happy her dream's come true." Chakotay hated that he sounded bitter about it. He gave the older man a look, remembering the cryptic comment he'd made as he sat down. "You said Kathryn did me a favor. What favor?"
"The favor was that she didn't become romantically involved with you, Chakotay. In every assignment she's ever had, there was some poor chap on the crew who fell for her, sometimes more than one. It was bad enough when she simply ignored him, but when she would consent to an involvement . . . well, let's just say that the fellow had a hard time letting go when she inevitably moved on."
Chakotay laughed, hoping the blush on his cheeks was hidden in the darkness of the bar. "What makes you think I didn't turn her down?"
"Don't kid a kidder, Chakotay." He chuckled as he took another long pull on the beer. "You loved Katie, even if you don't want to admit it. I listened to most of your logs, you know, and I heard your voice when you mentioned her name. I've been around the block a few times." He leaned back on the stool and crossed his arms. "Maybe Seven is an adequate replacement, but Katie has a place in your heart and always will. You never really stop loving someone."
"Sir, are you drunk or just determined to provoke me?" Chakotay was struggling to control his anger. In spite of the admiral's strong support during their debriefings, Chakotay was incensed that he would intrude uninvited in his personal life and ruin a much-needed moment of peace. "If I tell you to mind your own damned business, will you throw me in the brig?"
"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Commander. For what it's worth, I know she respects you. She says you are the ideal first officer, and from Katie, that's high praise. Besides, the 'turned-down-by-Janeway club' contains some pretty powerful men." Paris sighed, and, for the first time, Chakotay understood why the admiral was in the bar sharing a beer with him.
Chakotay's eyes widened in surprise. "You loved her, too."
"She was my student!" Paris tried to look indignant, but then smiled and ran a hand over his bald head. "And she was a good friend's daughter, twenty years younger than I am, and under my command. But so beautiful, so completely unapproachable. You know, there's something especially alluring about forbidden fruit."
"So you never acted on your feelings?"
"No, thank God." Paris took a deep breath and leaned on the bar, resting his head on his hand. "Of course, I fell for the younger Katie. The way she was before."
"Before? Before what?"
Paris seemed oblivious, lost in a memory. "People don't remember how different she is or what she was like before. She functions so remarkably well that they forget what she's been through. Or maybe they never knew the details."
"What the hell are you talking about, sir?" Chakotay demanded, wondering if the older man was coherent. "Are you referring to the fact that she was stranded in the Delta Quadrant for seven years?"
"That was just the latest in a series of mind boggling ordeals, Chakotay, any one of which would've left a lesser person in shambles." He lifted the beer, studying the bubbles that were rising in it. "Did she ever talk to you about her father?"
Momentarily confused by the sudden change in the conversation's direction, Chakotay closed his eyes to think. They'd had dozens of conversations about home and family, but her dad specifically? He shook his head and glanced at the older man. "She talked about her parents once in awhile. I remember her telling me that she saw her dad in a vision once, but she soon realized that it was an alien who took on his form in an attempt to influence her. That's about it, as I recall. I thought she was closer to her mother."
"Her mother was and is the greatest single influence in her life. Edward was gone for months at a time, and Gretchen did a magnificent job connecting with Kathryn and Phoebe, giving them the stability and home life all children need." He finished his beer and signaled for another. "Most Starfleet brats have very conflicted relationships with their Starfleet parent, whether it's their mother or father. And the ones who have two Starfleet parents, well . . . ." He took the fresh beer and frowned. "Let's just say they're usually troubled and leave it at that."
"So Kathryn's relationship with her dad was complicated?"
"I'd say so. She desperately longed for his approval and his attention. Even as a tiny girl, she did everything she could to get him to notice her. She went out of her way to please him, to win his praise, to spend a few minutes in his company. I thought Edward played into it too much. He thought it was a game, a way to control her, but to Katie, it was deadly serious."
His face clouded before he continued. "I remember after one conference, I accompanied Edward to his house on our way back to San Francisco. I was a young commander, and we were picking up a book or drawing he didn't want sent through the comm system. As we walked up to the house, Katie came running out to us, 'Listen, Daddy, listen,' she said, and then rattled off the eights and nines of her multiplication tables at a blinding speed. Edward just brushed her aside, saying, 'Later, Golden Bird. Don't interrupt Daddy when he's busy.'" Paris paused then, obviously remembering the moment with regret.
"A term of affection." He dismissed the question with a gesture. "I remember how her face crumpled; her whole body wilted in despair. Instead of winning his approval, she'd disappointed him and had been chastised in front of a stranger. He didn't say a word about her accomplishment. I doubt that Katie was much more than four years old." He took another sip. "How old were you when you learned your eights and nines?"
Chakotay laughed. "Actually, I'm still working on some of the nines."
"I know what you mean," Paris smiled. "Anyway, we went into the house, picked up the item Edward wanted, had a quick cup of coffee with Gretchen, and left in a rush for the office. As we were walking away, I looked back to see Katie watching us out of her upstairs bedroom window, still rattling off the times tables, faster and faster, tears streaming down her face. He'd forgotten to listen to her. We both had."
Chakotay looked away, trying to imagine a small red-headed Kathryn Janeway standing in her window as her father ignored her. "I always got the impression from her that her mom and dad were pretty good to her. That she had the ideal childhood."
"They did the best they could. She idolized her father, but his career always came first. That's the way it is with most of us who make admiral, you know." He sighed in resignation, his eyes sad. "Some children rebel against Starfleet, like Tom, or simply ignore it, like my girls and Phoebe. Others become obsessed with following in our footsteps, like Katie. She thought that by becoming the best possible Starfleet officer, she could earn her father's respect, attention, and love. Her dream was to work with him someday."
"But he was killed before that could happen, right? Just after she graduated from the academy?"
Paris nodded, "She hasn't told you, then. I can't say I'm surprised. She tends to put deeply emotional memories behind her. Just like Edward, she has an amazing ability to compartmentalize her life and keep focused on her work in spite of her personal problems." He took a deep breath before he continued. "Edward was developing a new tactical ship designed to render the Cardassians' technological advances ineffective. He was killed when the prototype ship crashed during a test flight. Katie was with him."
Chakotay's head snapped up. He stared at Paris in disbelief. "Kathryn survived the crash that killed her father?"
"That's right, although the fact that she was with him was never reported publicly, much less the severity of her injuries. Nobody really knows what happened exactly, whether Katie was piloting the ship or how she managed to survive. In fact, the circumstances of the crash were classified. The press reported that Admiral Janeway died in a training accident."
"That's why I don't remember hearing about it." He thought of the nights he spent looking through Voyager's data base in vain, hoping to find some details about her father's death. "Is the accident still classified?"
"Yes, it is. Some of his innovations are still under study, even twenty years after his death. I've heard it said that the ship was sabotaged by a Cardassian spy. Others think there was an illegal component being tested, like a cloak, although I doubt that very much." He shrugged. "Whatever happened, Edward was killed and Katie was severely injured. She was in rehabilitation for weeks and depressed for months. I never expected her to return to Starfleet. I didn't think she'd be able to handle the physical demands of the job, much less the stress."
"My God." He remembered the agony she'd gone through after destroying the Caretaker's array, her recurring desire to sacrifice her life for the good of the crew. "She suffered from survivor's guilt."
"She probably still does. As soon as she returned to duty, she switched from science to command and nothing has slowed her down since. Not even seven years of exile." Paris gestured at the vid screen hanging over the bar. The news report showed pictures of her promotion to admiral earlier in the day. "Look at her face, Chakotay, look at the guilt in her eyes. She can't let herself fail. She'd be letting Edward down as well as the crew members she lost in the Delta Quadrant. She's driven to succeed to repay the debt she feels she owes them."
"A debt that can never be repaid." Chakotay nodded. "Of course. I see it."
Paris finished his beer and slapped Chakotay on the back. "I'm still haunted by Katie, and she was never more than a subordinate to me. How much worse would it be if she'd ever returned my affection?" He looked toward the noisy reception room. "Even so, I wish there were something I could do to help her find happiness. I wish I could help her forgive herself and finally move on." He heaved a great sigh, drained his beer, and said, "I'd better get back in there. Just be glad you didn't get tangled up with her emotionally the way the rest of us did."
Chakotay watched the older man as he left the bar, waiting until Paris was gone before he said to himself, "But that's just it, Admiral. No one escapes Kathryn Janeway."
He sat alone in the deserted bar thinking about Kathryn. In his arrogance, he'd assumed that she had told him everything important there was to know about Kathryn Janeway, but now he knew that she had only told him what he needed to know. He had always been aware that she kept secrets, of course; so did he. But their off-duty friendship had been open and honest and their banter normal and friendly, so he had assumed that this hidden part of her life was inconsequential, perhaps an embarrassment, a disappointment, or minor failure.
Now he knew that her secret had been momentous--survivor guilt, feelings of remorse and shame that could be particularly destructive, revealing themselves in any number of ways. Some people forfeited their personal hopes and dreams in order to live a life worthy of the deceased person's ultimate sacrifice, while others put their lives on the line to exact revenge at any price.
He knew the power of the emotion, because Chakotay himself suffered from survivor's guilt. He'd left Starfleet and joined the Maquis in a search for atonement after the Cardassians had destroyed his family's home world. There had been times when he had wanted to die rather than continue to struggle against the pain of living with the memories, when he'd gone into battle with the silent hope that he would be killed.
He felt a rush of compassion for his captain, who must have spent the last twenty years struggling with the same smothering sense of failure and blame that he had. No wonder she had been so nonjudgmental of his resignation from Starfleet. No wonder she had never said a critical word to him for joining the Maquis.
An hour later, he was still sitting at the bar, nursing yet another beer. He looked up to find the bartender facing him. "It's closing time, sir."
Chakotay glanced toward the reception room where the party was probably winding down, suddenly remembering that Seven would expect him to escort her home.
"What's the damage?" he asked, draining the last of the warm, flat beer from the mug.
"The admiral who was in here earlier said to bill him."
"I'll have to remember to thank him." Chakotay left a few credits for a tip and turned to leave. Much to his surprise, Kathryn Janeway stood in the doorway peering into the shadowy bar.
"Chakotay?" she said, stepping into the dim room. "Are you here?"
"I'm right here, Kathryn."
She stopped still, obviously amazed to see him. "This is where you've been hiding all night?" She walked up to the bar and stood facing him with fire in her eyes. "We've been looking everywhere for you. We even had the hotel page you. Didn't you hear it?"
He shook his head. "You know how I am about things like that. I was probably oblivious to it."
"You always heard the hails on Voyager," Janeway said as she glanced at his civilian attire, "But, then, you aren't wearing your commbadge, are you?"
He shrugged. "After the ceremony, when I stopped by my quarters to change, I guess I forgot to pick it up."
"That explains it." Janeway softened her stance. "Did you sneak off because you were upset about something?"
"I didn't 'sneak off,' Kathryn." The bartender cleared his throat, a gentle reminder of his need to close the bar, so Chakotay stood up and began to gently shepherd Janeway toward the door. "The truth is that I needed to get away from the noise and the crowd for awhile, and it was so quiet and peaceful here . . . I guess I lost track of time."
She fell into step beside him, her anger evaporating as she listened to his explanation. "I know what you mean. I've been surrounded by so many people for the past six months that I'm just about ready to scream. I never thought I'd miss the solitude of Voyager the way I do."
"You were looking for me? Was there a problem?"
"You could say that." She laughed as they headed down the hallway. "Seven drank several glasses of the punch, oblivious to the fact that our intrepid Tom Paris had spiked it with vodka." She rolled her eyes. "It wasn't until she climbed onto the grand piano and began singing along with the band that we realized what had happened."
Chakotay shook his head in disbelief. "Her infamous intolerance for alcohol."
"She wasn't at all interested in getting down, either. We were looking for you, thinking you could take her home, but, when you were nowhere to be found, the doctor stepped in and took her to the clinic for treatment and overnight observation."
He stopped and rubbed his face with his hands as he laughed. "You'd think she'd know better than to drink punch when Tom's around. All things considered, the doctor is probably a better choice to handle her intoxication than I am."
"I'm sure he is, too." They arrived in the party room to find it totally deserted. Kathryn looked around in despair. "I was afraid of this--I was counting on Phoebe sticking around to help me get my stuff home."
"I get the hint," he said with a chuckle, imagining her dragging all of her bundles down the two blocks to the transport station. "I'll help you."
She gave him a brilliant smile and then spent the next few minutes getting organized. Several attendees had given her gifts, and she struggled to get a grip on them. "Maybe the hotel can store some of this," she groaned.
"Here," Chakotay said, relieving her of the largest bundle, "I'll get this one and that bag over there."
"Thanks. If I'd thought ahead, I would've had the hotel transport them for me."
"My pleasure, Admiral." He offered her his arm, looking forward to having her all to himself for a few minutes. They had spent less and less time together in the last six months, and he missed the intimacy of their friendship and their long, leisurely talks.
"It's going to take me awhile to get used to answering to that rank." She leaned into him as they walked out of the building and down the street. "I've worked toward this for so long, but now that the time's here . . . I'm going to miss captaining a ship."
She'd said this before since the news of her promotion had broken, but before he'd always thought it was false modesty. Now, in light of what Admiral Paris had told him, he wondered if it were closer to the truth than he'd realized. "You feel that way after being Voyager's captain for seven years?"
"Yes, even when those seven years feel more like twenty-one." She grew thoughtful. "It's just that I enjoy being 'out there,' exploring on my own, developing a sense of family in the crew. The admiralty means eternal meetings and countless hours behind a desk."
He stopped and stared at her back as she continued to walk away from him for a moment. Perhaps she was accepting this promotion because she thought her father would want her to do so. "If you want to explore space, Kathryn, all you have to do is turn the promotion down."
Janeway stopped and looked back at him, her eyes sparkling with humor at his suggestion. It was a particularly beautiful evening, with a warm breeze and the fragrance of flowers from a park across the street. "Who in his right mind would turn down a promotion to admiral?" She shook her head at the suggestion. "You've been talking to my mother."
He was stunned that someone else close to her had questioned her motives. "Your mother thinks you should have turned down the promotion?"
"She thinks I'm taking it for the wrong reasons. There's been at least one admiral in each of the last three generations in our family, and I'm the obvious candidate this time around. She thinks I should find my own goals in life, like Phoebe."
"Is it possible that she's right?" He imagined her as a small girl gazing up at her idolized father, the dashing Starfleet admiral, wanting to please him, to be like him. He imagined the pain she felt to lose him just when she was ready to join him in his chosen career.
Her face was impassive, as if she were in the midst of delicate negotiations. "My goal has always been the admiralty, Chakotay. It's what I've always wanted."
He watched as she turned and took a few more steps toward the transport station before he said, "You switched from science to command right after your dad died. Why?"
She stopped, her body tense, and when she turned, it was a Starfleet admiral facing him. "I switched because I wanted to be in command, of course."
"Was that it?" He wasn't about to back down now. "Or did you switch because most admirals come from the command ranks?"
"The reason doesn't matter."
"It does if it had something to do with surviving the accident that killed your father."
Her face was completely unreadable as she stared at him. She seemed to lose focus for a moment, and when she finally regained her voice, her tone was deadly calm. "Who told you that?"
"It's the truth isn't it?" he asked, watching her face as she struggled to keep her temper. "When you returned to duty after he died, you changed to command--his specialty. Were you trying to live his life for him?"
"I bet Owen Paris told you," she said, ignoring the question and focusing instead on who might have told Chakotay about the accident. "The admiral left the reception for awhile, and it would be just like him to come into the bar and run his mouth."
At that moment, Chakotay realized that he'd been right. The details of her father's accident was the secret she'd kept from him on Voyager, the unnamed tragedy in her past that had driven her toward perfection, to achieve the impossible at all costs. His curiosity forced him to push for more information, even though she obviously wanted to avoid the subject. "Kathryn, why haven't you told me about your father's accident?"
"Because . . . ." She swayed slightly, as if she'd literally been caught off balance by his question. The look of panic and anguish on her face made him regret confronting her when she was tired and overwrought from the long day.
"Kathryn, you should have told me. I would've understood, because I've been through it, too. Losing my family is what made me leave Starfleet and join the Maquis." He took a step toward her, intending to put his arm around her shoulders in a gesture of support, but then she regained her composure and straightened up with such blazing fury that he stopped in his tracks.
Her eyes were the steely gray he'd learned to respect in the heated arguments they'd had on Voyager. It had been months since he'd seen this side of her, and he stared at her sudden transformation in alarm. "Did your family die right in front of your face, Chakotay?" she demanded, her voice a whisper.
He blinked. "You know I wasn't there. I was teaching tactics on Earth at the time. I didn't hear about the massacre until several weeks after it happened."
"So, you didn't see the terror and desperation in their eyes when they realized they were doomed?" She took a long shuddering breath. "You didn't watch them gradually disappear beneath icy waters, trapped in the smoldering wreckage of a shuttle? You didn't stand there, a silent, helpless witness, unable to do anything to rescue them?"
He was so caught up in the drama of the moment that the meaning of her words slipped past him. All he knew was that she was trembling with rage and that her eyes were shimmering with unshed tears. "Kathryn, I . . ."
"Please don't tell me you understand, Chakotay, because you don't. You couldn't. You have no idea about the hell I've been through." Without another word, she spun on her heel and stormed toward the transport station, disappearing into the building before he had time to catch up with her.
"Kathryn, wait!" he cried. "At least let me give you your packages!" He struggled down the street and into the building's lobby, only to catch a glimpse of her just as the elevator doors closed. He slammed his hand on the wall in frustration, and then thought of contacting her, reaching up to tap his commbadge and growling in frustration when he remembered that he wasn't wearing it. "Damn it."
He turned and looked around the deserted foyer in dismay. He decided to have the packages delivered the next day rather than following her now, when she so desperately wanted to escape from his presence. He scolded himself for asking her about the accident before he'd had a chance to look into the details more carefully.
The accident. He pondered her inadvertent description of the crash. She claimed to have witnessed her father's death, but hadn't Admiral Paris said she'd been injured? Was it possible that she'd been conscious enough to watch her father die? He was suddenly obsessed with finding out all he could about the event that had haunted her for nearly twenty years. There must be more to the story than he suspected, and he promised himself that he'd waste no time in finding out.
He waited for the next free elevator. He knew that poking his nose into something Janeway wanted to keep private would provoke her anger, but he'd been curious about this secret event for too many years to let it go. He was willing to bet that Phoebe and Gretchen Janeway would be willing to talk about the accident. Gretchen Janeway had invited him and Seven of Nine to dinner at the Janeway home the next weekend, and, if possible, he would use that opportunity to ask her or Phoebe about the tragedy. It was, at least, a place to start.
Chakotay boarded the elevator and closed his eyes, trying to visualize the crash scenario Kathryn had described to him. He imagined a seriously injured young woman, who was immobilized with pain and struggling to remain conscious, watching helplessly as a fragment of the damaged shuttle disappeared into a watery grave, taking with it her beloved father. How it would torture her to watch and be unable to do anything to help him. And if she had seen the expression on his face as he faced death, as she claimed, what an agonizing image that would be. How it would haunt her dreams and eat away at her soul for the rest of her days.
The elevator door opened. Deep in thought, Chakotay exited and walked down the hallway toward the transport station, pausing by a large window that provided him a spectacular view of the night sky. He gazed at the stars and thought back to a night he'd spent in Voyager's sickbay just a year earlier. He had nearly died that day while caught in the graviton ellipse that had held the Mars explorer, and Kathryn had come to check on his condition in the middle of the night.
She had asked him if he knew what it was like to watch someone he cared about die. She had asked him if he had thought for a moment about how his death would affect the people he left behind. "Do you have any idea," she'd asked, her voice a whisper, "how hard it is to keep on living when your heart is broken?"
He was suddenly overwhelmed with compassion for her. How had Kathryn done it? How had she borne the stress and responsibility of a Starfleet career, not to mention serving seven years as Voyager's captain, in addition to the incredible guilt she already felt?
"How do you keep on living when your heart is broken?" he asked himself, and then, as he turned and made his way home, he recalled a well-known Bajoran proverb.
"'A broken heart,'" he quoted quietly, "'bleeds forever.'"