Star Trek Voyager and its characters belong to Paramount.
A 'Shattered' add on
"We've been down this road before," Chakotay said.
"Have we?" Kathryn asked, feigning ignorance.
"You wanting answers to questions you shouldn't ask." His expression was serious. He wasn't going to give explanations on the subject.
Kathryn maintained eye contact as she slowly ran a finger up and down the side of the tall glass in her hand. "Then I'll ask a question you can answer."
She moved her finger to the rim of her glass and watched as her finger traced around it. "What happened to us, Chakotay?"
He waited for something more, a clue to narrow the possibilities, but she remained silent. "You'll have to be a little more specific."
Placing an elbow on the sofa arm and her chin in her palm she lifted her eyes to his, almost but not quite keeping her vulnerability hidden from him. "There's a distance between us that wasn't there once. What happened to the way we used to be?" She saw his faint smile slip away and his eyes cloud before he looked down at the glass in his hand. His answer was so long in coming that Kathryn began to wonder if he would answer at all.
"It wasn't enough," he answered quietly. The sadness in his voice coupled with the finality of his answer almost made her gasp. Deep inside, in the place where she kept her most secret feelings, there had always been a flicker of hope that someday, their time would come. She felt as if the breath that had carried his words had extinguished the tiny flame.
"I see," she answered almost in a whisper as she lowered her head and idly swirled the contents of her glass. Her next words came a little stronger. "I appreciate your honesty." There was a long silence. She sensed his inner conflict. Whether to let it be, or, to once and for all settle what they'd danced around for years. She honestly didn't know which direction she'd rather he take.
"Was it enough for you?" he asked.
Kathryn forced herself to look at him and saw on his face that he expected an answer and rightfully so. She'd opened the book. He was merely turning a page.
"For a long time, it was." Hating the waiver in her voice she swallowed and then softly cleared her throat. She finished in a stronger voice. "Eventually I came to the same conclusion,"
Their gaze remained locked for a long moment until Chakotay looked away, but not before Kathryn had seen the ripples of sadness and regret cross his face.
He stood suddenly and moved to the viewport. "What are you doing, Kathryn?"
She glanced up at him just long enough to see his face harden and his jaw clench. "What do you mean?"
He tilted his head back and exhaled heavily. "After all these years, why bring this up now?" His tone was harsh.
"Maybe it's just time..." Kathryn began, but he went on as if she hadn't spoken.
"Do you have any idea how difficult it has been to pull back? To try to put my heart in a different place?"
From the corner of her vision Kathryn saw him lower his head and his shoulders slump. "I'm sorry," she whispered. She silently cursed herself and wondered just what the hell she'd been thinking.
Chakotay set his glass on the table near her elbow with such force that Kathryn flinched. As he leaned against the viewport with both hands, she could hear each heavy breath inhaled and exhaled and knew he was struggling for control. For calm. Suddenly he let out a short bark of laughter and she looked up in surprise. The hardness on his face was, if anything, more intense, but she couldn't look away.
He ground out his words. "Tom used an old saying the other day and I just realized how appropriate it is right now. 'Best to let sleeping dogs lie'." He paused, and peered into Kathryn's eyes as if searching, and trying to gauge her reaction. In self-defense she withdrew all emotion from her face, aware she was hiding once again. A coward behind the damned Captain's mask.
"Why couldn't you just leave it alone, Kathryn?"
Despite her best efforts the mask slipped and Chakotay saw the one thing in her eyes that would send him over the edge. Pity. "I have to go," he mumbled, and straightening he headed for the door.
Without turning around or missing a step he lifted his hand in a gesture that clearly said he was finished then walked out the door.
Kathryn stared at the doors for a long time then squeezed her eyes shut and let her head fall back against the sofa. Her emotions reeled. Guilt, regret and sadness washed over her in waves. She opened herself to them all, taking her punishment for what she had done until, from the bottom of the heap, yet another emotion emerged. It fought for supremacy and easily won. Loss. An overwhelming flood of loss filled her. It quickened her heart and all but stole the breath from her body.
With a trembling hand she reached out to place her glass on the table beside her and knocked over the one Chakotay had left. Her head snapped around as the contents spilled onto the table and ran over the edge, her eyes widened at a symbolic meaning she saw there. The liquid quickly disappeared over the edge leaving only a trail of droplets. Suddenly she was on her feet and running after him.
When there was no answer to her chime she quietly asked the computer to locate him. He was in his quarters but he wasn't answering. After ringing a second time and again receiving no response, Kathry lifted a still shaking hand and keyed in her override code. She stepped just far enough into his darkened quarters to allow the doors to close behind her then stopped to give her eyes a moment to adjust. He was not in the lounge. "Chakotay?" she said softly. No answer. When she'd taken a few more steps and repeated his name, his voice came from the bedroom.
"I don't want you here, Captain." There was a warning in his tone and an emphasis on her title but she ignored it and made her way to the bedroom door. He was lying on the bed, one knee lifted, a fist at his waist and the other arm draped over his eyes.
"The Captain's not here." Though she had spoken very softly, he flinched at the nearness of her voice.
"Isn't she?" he asked with sarcasm. "Please, just go." As an afterthought, he spat. "Whoever you are."
Kathryn lifted her hands waist high and interlaced her fingers, gazing down as she pressed her thumbs together. "I'd like to tell you who I am, if you're willing to listen." The only response she received was a resigned sigh.
"I'm Kathryn," She swallowed past the lump in her throat. "I always thought that it was such an ordinary name...until I heard it from your lips." She saw his mouth press into a tight line as if he regretted ever speaking the name. He was going to fight her until the bitter end but this was one battle she didn't intend to lose.
"I'm the Kathryn who has struggled, for years now, to hide what's in my heart. It has been the most difficult thing I've ever faced and I fear it will be the end of me. The end of Kathryn. It's worn me down little by little and I've grown so weary." She saw his face gradually relax, his fist opened and his fingers rested against his stomach.
"I can't afford to lose any more of myself," she added in a whisper.
Chakotay let the arm across his eyes fall to his side but did not look in her direction. Instead he focused his eyes on the ceiling.
"What do you want from me?" he asked quietly though still with anger. "I've given you all I can spare of myself without crossing the line. The only part of me I still possess is the part you can't..or won't accept." He suddenly rose up on an elbow and glared at her. "I'm guarding that part of my heart with everything I've got, keeping it safe in the hope that someday, someone will accept it. That someone will love me back. I won't let you open it up and spill it..." He stopped when a look of horror crossed her face and she put a trembling hand to her mouth. Unaware of the reason behind her reaction he took it for something quite different. Falling back onto the bed he again aimed his angry eyes at the ceiling. "Oh, come on, Kathryn! You can't honestly expect me to believe you're unaware of how many times I've offered up my heart only to have it thrust back in my face. Well, I'm done. A man can only take so much..."
"Please," Kathryn whispered urgently. "Listen to me." She closed her eyes for a moment and summoned every ounce of courage and resolve she could find. When she moved to the bed and sat on the edge Chakotay turned his head away. "I won't beg, Chakotay," she said almost in a whisper. "But if you can see your way to offer it just once more..."
Reluctantly he turned his head towards her. Kathryn met his eyes and brushed a tear from her cheek. His expression softened but fear was still evident in his eyes. "This is it, Kathryn," he said, and rising on his elbow again he allowed her to hear the finality of his words. With a shake of his head he said, "It's the last time this door will be opened to you. Do you understand?"
"Yes," she sobbed, and nodded. When she closed her eyes tears slipped from beneath her lashes and spilled over her cheeks. The bed moved and she looked up to see him moving to the far side. There were tears in his eyes as well.
He patted the place beside him. "Come here," he said then held out his arms to her. Kathryn lay down beside him. She clutched at the front of his uniform with both hands and buried her face between them, weeping silently. Chakotay held her tight against him. His face nestled against her hair, as he shushed her and gently patted her shoulder. All the while he held her, he placed firm kisses on her head and whispered in his native tongue.
When Kathryn stopped sobbing he eased her back onto the bed. He raised himself on one arm and gently brushed away her tears. She wanted to appologize for falling apart but the tender look on his face wiped the words from her mind. He loosened one of her hands which still clutched at his jacket and closed his eyes as he lifted it to his lips. When he looked back down at her he drew a breath and exhaled slowly. "I love you."
She tried to speak the words back to him but no sound came. Chakotay read her lips and smiled. "You want to try that again? I've waited so long..."
"I love you." The words escaped in a rush. She swallowed and reached up to cup his cheek, and then repeated them softly. "I. Love. You."
The joy in his eyes filled Kathryn until she felt her heart would burst. Then he leaned down to kiss her. Just before his lips met hers she sighed and Chakotay knew exactly what she was feeling. It was like finally, finally coming home. The kiss was soft, achingly tender and a pure gesture of love. Urgency and desire would come soon enough, but this moment was about sharing and tasting and savoring. When he pulled back he smiled. Her eyes remained closed for a moment. Finally she looked up, and lifting her hand, she sank her fingers into her hair where he had whispered to her. "What were you saying?"
Before answering her, he leaned down and placed another feathery kiss on her lips. "My spirit wanders no more for the journey is over. All footsteps have led me here, to you. This is where I will take my rest from this day forward, wrapped in your love. My heart beats because you breathe, rejoices because you smile. My spirit wanders no more, for I am home. My heart is home."
The words brought fresh tears to her eyes. "It's beautiful," she whispered.
He slid an arm beneath her and gathered her to him again. "I love you, I love you," he whispered near her ear. "Thank you for bringing me home."