Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Summary: A post-Endgame argument with a resolution long overdue
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Thanks to: Evil Shall Giggle and WhisperToMeSoftly
It was a strange feeling, knowing that this was the last night she would spend in the vessel that had been her home for the past seven years. This indestructible ship, which had been whisked away on its maiden journey and had shielded them from so many dangers, was no longer hers to command.
She loved her ship.
She would miss her ship.
It had taken them seven years. Seven long, difficult, wonderful years, that had turned two crews into one family and a hopeless situation into an adventure. They had finally made it. They had reached Earth, and in less than ten hours she would be officially relieved of duty. She would no longer be Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager, a fact she decided that was just as wonderful and difficult as those seven years had been.
The debriefings were over, questions had been asked and answered, protocols and logs discussed and dissected, and ultimately, praise beyond measure had fallen upon the crew and their captain. Voyager had been decommissioned, left in dry dock all by itself as crewmember after crewmember had disembarked and returned to what had been their home before the starship. Seven weeks had passed since their return to the Alpha Quadrant and all that remained now was to hand over the keys, so to speak.
She had asked to stay with her ship for that one last night, claiming sentimentality as the reason. They had complied and granted her this one indulgence, agreeing among themselves that she deserved some leeway for all that she'd accomplished. Protocol would be overlooked just for tonight, allowing Captain Janeway a night of solitude on her ship.
A night to say goodbye.
She had walked through the hallways, allowing memories to play freely in her mind. People she had grown to love, friends she had lost along the way and family she would greatly miss… Her hand left an invisible trail on Voyager's walls as she passed, before she ended up in front of her own quarters. Once inside she kicked her shoes off, poured herself a glass of red wine, and marvelled at the silence. It was just her and Voyager now, and she couldn't help the sting of sadness that pricked at her heart. Who would have thought coming home would be so bittersweet?
She was sitting on the couch looking out the viewport as she had so many times before. The book she'd intended to read, had slid from her lap and down onto the floor. Her bare feet were tucked under a pillow and the empty wineglass was still in her hand. The stars looked unfamiliar to her now after her years in the Delta Quadrant. She impatiently wiped a tear from her cheek with the back of her hand; being home was definitely going to take some getting used to. The silence engulfed her and she closed her eyes welcoming the memories of the past years as they washed over her again.
She almost yelped in surprise when the doors to her quarters hissed open without warning. Her eyes snapped open and she was on her feet facing the doors before her mind had fully registered what she was doing. The pillow which had been covering her feet fell from the couch and landed on top of the discarded book. Her eyes strained in the dark to see who the intruder was. She bit her lip in frustration as she recognised him.
"Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" she snapped at the man standing in the door way, allowing the hand that was clutching at her chest to fall back to her side. She put her wineglass down and quickly wiped her cheeks free of any stray tears that might have found their way there. He walked into the room and the doors closed behind him.
"My apologies," he offered, sounding far from meaning it. He was angry. She'd expected as much. His attitude didn't do much to brighten her own mood though, and she gritted her teeth hoping she'd be able to quell the sudden twinge of hostility that she felt towards him.
After their return to the Alpha Quadrant she had deliberately distanced herself from him. It was pure and utter self-preservation. The news her older self had brought with her from the future had hit Kathryn hard, maybe even harder than she was willing to acknowledge. He would marry Seven and she would end up alone. As she should, she had mused. After all, she had turned him down. It was as simple as that. However justifiable her reasons had been, she had pushed him away. And what had she expected in return? That he would wait for her? Selfishly, she admitted, yes, she had. But while she kept deluding herself, Seven had acted and Kathryn had lost. She had brought it on herself and after they'd returned she'd accepted that he was not hers to have anymore. That didn't mean that she would embrace this newfound relationship of his.
Some things were just too hard to do.
As she stood there she half heartedly thought that the number seven surely marked her life in more ways than one. Seven years, seven weeks, Seven of Nine… And to think she was the one who had insisted to keep the Borg woman on their ship in the first place. She almost laughed at the thought before realising that that twinge of hostility was not going to let itself be quelled. Who was he to come here, angry at her for ignoring him? He was the one who had chosen to get involved with Seven. He was a smart man. Did he really think he could have them both?
"The chime is there to be used, Commander." Kathryn said, not bothering to hide her annoyance at his blatant disregard for her privacy.
"I doubt you would have let me in if I had." His voice was cold and Kathryn knew she was in for a fight. A fight she didn't really feel up to. He could be as angry at her as he damned well pleased, but not tonight.
"Maybe you should have listened to those instincts. I specifically requested a night on Voyager by myself."
"I need to talk to you."
"Then you should have made an appointment."
"Since when do I need an appointment?"
Kathryn sighed in frustration and tried a different approach, "What are you doing here, Chakotay?"
"I told you. I need to talk to you."
"You can talk all you want. Tomorrow. I'm tired." She turned her back at him, physically dismissing him. He ignored it.
"Tough. I don't want to wait till tomorrow. By then you'll no doubt have come up with a perfectly understandable excuse as to why you'll have to postpone our appointment. You'll send me your apologies and tell me you'll get back to me with a better time. Which you won't. After all, you've been avoiding me ever since we came back. Why should tomorrow be any different?"
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Commander. It hasn't been my intention to avoid you, I've simply been busy." The lie slipped through her lips easily.
She turned around to face him. "I beg your pardon?"
"I said bullshit, Kathryn."
Tightening the knot on her robe, Kathryn walked towards him, glaring. She was not going to have this conversation with him. She stopped right in front of him, hands on her hips. "You're dismissed, Commander. I'll see you in the morning."
A smile tugged at his lips and he shook his head slightly, "I'm not going anywhere. We're having this conversation whether you want it or not."
He really wasn't going to let this go. Kathryn's frustration hit its breaking point. "Then out with it!" she snapped. "What could possibly be so important that you decide to ignore a command from your superior officer?" She pulled rank deliberately, and his smile disappeared.
He grabbed her by the shoulders, startling her. "Fine! You want to know? I have waited seven years for you. And the moment we're back home where your excuses of protocols and regulations can no longer be used, you flee away from me like a scared child."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," she bit back, jerking out of his grip.
"Of course you don't. This is your way, isn't it, when it comes to yourself? Deny any knowledge and run away with your tail between your legs?"
She whipped around, anger threatening to erupt. "And what exactly is it I'm supposed to be running from?"
"You are running from me. From us. We've been out there dancing around each other from the moment we met. We've dutifully abided by your Starfleet protocols and worked together to get us home. We've behaved. Well, I've got news for you, Kathryn. We're not in the Delta Quadrant any more. You did it. You got them home. By tomorrow you'll no longer be my captain. Are you not the least bit interested in trying to explore what's been between us for all those years? Do you really want to just pretend that it was nothing, and turn away?" He stared at her, challenging her for an answer. Her retort slapped him in the face.
"How's Seven?" Kathryn's voice was low and ice cold. How dared he blame all of this on her? She wasn't the one who had moved on.
"What?" She could tell that he was taken aback. He hadn't expected her to know.
"You heard me. I'm curious, with all your righteous indignation over me pulling away from you, how is Seven?"
"I may be many things, Chakotay, but blind isn't one of them."
"You certainly see what you want to see. Is this what all this has been about? Is this your reason for not returning my calls, excusing yourself whenever I catch up with you? Are you avoiding me because of Seven?"
"What did you expect?"
"If I had chosen to be with Seven I would expect you to be happy for me! Not treat me like I had the plague!"
At this, Kathryn's anger exploded into full-blown rage. "I might have been able to accept your relationship with Seven, but did you really think I would embrace it? A relationship with someone so close to me I think of her as my own daughter? Someone you've hardly talked to, let alone liked the four years she's been with us? Was I that easy to replace or did you purposely try to hurt me?"
"I…" His shock at her question was tangible and Kathryn felt a small hint of satisfaction at that. At last he found his voice again. "I never meant to hurt you. And you certainly haven't been easy to…" he faltered again, "You haven't been replaced."
At this Kathryn scoffed. "One of the convenient things about having a one-on-one with your future self is that you get certain ideas about how the future will pan out, whether you want them or not." She knew she probably shouldn't tell him this, but who was she kidding? The Temporal Prime Directive had been broken so many times in the past two months that another would hardly make a difference. "You're going to marry Seven. I, apparently, am going to perform the ceremony. Or that's what I was supposed to do in the Admiral's lifetime. If we'd still been out there, you would've married Seven and a short time later she would've died in your arms. And you wouldn't have been able to recover." The harshness of her voice lost its edge at those words. "That's why she came back. To allow you a future with the woman you love. Who am I to stand in the way of that?"
They stood there, staring at each other as the silence engulfed them. Kathryn felt drained. All she wanted was to go to bed. She wished he would just leave her alone, get on with his business and his life.
"Do you love me, Kathryn?" He asked her quietly, breaking the silence, his dark eyes boring into hers.
She almost recoiled at his question. Settling herself, she ground out, somewhat surprised that she'd found the strength to speak, "You're dismissed Commander." She crossed her arms over her chest and stared defiantly at the man before her. She would not do this.
He shook his head and the anger was back in his voice. "I guess it doesn't even matter to you that Seven and I decided to stop seeing each other the night we returned to Earth. We had three, four dates together. I kissed her a couple of times. Maybe if we hadn't found our way home it might have turned into something more than what it was. I want a family. And you made damn sure it wasn't going to happen with you while we were out there. Maybe I got tired of waiting for you to change your mind. Maybe that's why I turned to Seven. I don't know. What I do know is that we are back now. The Admiral's past will not be our future. Why are you so hell bent on making it so?"
Kathryn said nothing.
"I see." Chakotay nodded, his features hardening as he straightened. "I used to think that you distanced yourself from the rest of us because it made it easier to do your job. Your refusal to get too close was something that had to be done in order to make the decisions you had to make. It wasn't who you were, though. I could see it the few times Kathryn was allowed to surface from beneath the captain's mask. Now I wonder if your coldness comes naturally to you. I even think you revel in it."
"Yes, Captain." He turned crisply and walked towards the door. Kathryn's knees threatened to buckle from under her as his words slashed through her. She drew her breath sharply to try and steady herself. He must have heard it, for he suddenly turned back as if the sound was the sign he'd been waiting for.
He was in front of her quicker than she'd anticipated and she took an involuntary step backwards. Grabbing her arms, he pulled her back towards him and asked, anger still tingeing his words, "Did it ever occur to you that the Admiral came back to give herself another chance?"
"Let go of me, Chakotay." Kathryn struggled to get her arms free but his grip only tightened.
"Did it ever occur to you that whatever happened in her timeline is not what's in store for us?"
"Chakotay…" Kathryn warned, her anger returning hand-in-hand with the slight fear that always seemed to nudge at the edges of her mind whenever they got too close.
"Did it ever occur to you that this isn't only your choice to make?" His voice rose.
"You are crossing the line, Commander!" Kathryn's own furious voice matched his.
"Enough!" he hissed at her.
"I am not going to-"
"Enough!" he cut her off, his anger exploding. "Do you love me, Kathryn?" His eyes bored into her as she struggled to get free. She didn't answer. "It's a simple question! Do you love me?"
"I…" she started, cursing her sudden inability to speak.
"Answer me!" The grip on her arms tightened even more. "Answer me!" His voice resonated in the half empty room and he shook her hard.
"Yes!" she finally shouted back as she stopped fighting. "Yes! I love you! I love someone who's supposed to be with another! Are you happy now?"
She got her answer when he roughly shoved against the wall.
"I never wanted another."
And then his lips crashed down onto hers, catching her completely of guard. She instinctively pushed back against him, her hands connecting with his chest, forcing him to break away from her.
He pushed her back against the wall and simply said, "Don't," before his mouth was on hers again. This time around she didn't fight back.
Her hands, still on his chest, gripped at his shirt pulling him closer. He licked at her lips before slipping his tongue in between them to play with hers. The intensity of the kiss grew and she let her hands travel from his chest and into his hair. She felt herself being pressed up against the wall, his right leg moving in between her legs forcing her to stand on the tip of her toes. His arms encircled her, supporting her where she stood, while his teeth rasped against her lower lip.
A quiet moan slipped from her as they finally broke apart, both breathing hard. Her hands slipped from his hair and stroked down his back as his forehead leant against hers. She waited for the regrets, protests, and the million other reasons why she shouldn't have done this to assault her mind, but nothing came.
He cupped her face and she looked up at him. She was flushed, her lips swollen and her eyes bright. A small smile escaped him as her eyes darted to his own swollen lips then looking back up at him. Before she was able to stop herself, she leant forward initiating another kiss. Slowly, without the urgency from before, she let her lips brush against his, tasting him as he responded. When they pulled back his left thumb traced the curvature of her mouth.
"I never wanted another," he repeated, every trace of his anger gone, the warmth in his eyes heating her from the inside.
She swallowed, again waiting for the protests to scream at her. Still nothing. Maybe he was right. Maybe the future the Admiral had shared with her wasn't Kathryn's after all. Maybe she really did come back to give herself another chance. Maybe she owed it to herself, be it past, future or present, to let herself do this. To be with him.
"Okay," She answered at last, nodding her head slightly, still looking him in the eye.
"Okay!" A small laugh escaped her as he drew her into a tight embrace, that one simple word promising him she'd be his. It had taken seven years and seven weeks for her to get to this point. For both of them to get there. It was a long time, but somehow, she knew the wait had been be worth it.