November 1996

From Chakotay's personal logs. It seems I kept returning to "Resolutions" over and over again in my writing. Maybe because, in spite of its title, the episode didn't actually resolve anything at all!

Laura Williams

She came to me this evening.

It was late. I was meditating, getting ready for bed, when the door chime rang. I hesitated at first, wondering who would need me at that late hour, and would need me badly enough to come to my door instead of contacting me over the comm system.

And then I knew. It could only be her, and it could only be an emergency or...or something else I didn't dare hope for.

But she came to me. Out of uniform, her hair braided down her back. When I looked at it I could almost feel that braid against my palm, soft and supple, warm. Strong. I closed my hands around the river stone to keep from touching her.

She slipped in from the corridor silently, smoothly. "Captain," I said.

She raised her chin at me. "Aren't you off-duty?"

"Yes," I said. "Yes. Kathryn." The word comes easier during the day, when it is still something more than a name, but something less than a prayer. At night it is difficult to say, difficult to speak aloud the word that I have spoken a thousand times in my dreams. "I'm off-duty, Kathryn."

"So am I, Chakotay."

I stood, wrapping the hides around my medicine bundle. Watching her. Gliding around my room, her back turned toward me, her thoughts hidden from me. Her hands touching the carvings on my desk, the paintings on my walls, the plants on my shelves. Watching her. "Is there something I can do for you, Kathryn?"

She came to me with a smile that I had seen before, but so long ago, so long ago. Freedom in her smile, tenderness and ease, longing and the anticipation of fulfillment.

"Maybe. Can we talk for a little while?" She stepped toward me, reaching out to my medicine bundle. "Unless you're busy. I can come back later, or tomorrow, if -- "

"No. Sit down, Kathryn. Would you like something to drink?"

"Yes, please. A cup of tea."

"Which -- "

"You choose the blend." She settled into a corner of the couch, her legs drawn up beneath her, her shoes left behind on the floor. Watching me. I programmed the replicator, retrieved two cups of tea, turned around to find her watching me.

"Here you go," I said. "A replicated blend from home."

She wrapped her hands around the mug, brought it to her face and breathed in the steam. "Smells like peaches," she said.

"Ginger peach with a little cinnamon, to be precise." I sat beside her on the couch, not too near. Starlight streamed in on both our faces. "Now. What did you want to talk about?"

"I was just thinking," she said. She sipped carefully at her tea, still watching me over the rim of her cup. "Do you ever wonder...what might have happened if Tuvok hadn't contacted the Vidiians? If he had left us on New Earth?"

She came to me with eyes so full, so bright, that I was dazzled, almost frightened, by their fierce light. But I could not look away.

"Sometimes." All the time, Kathryn. In dreams and visions, in quiet moments on the bridge when your sparkling eyes touch me and I see the river we would have explored together, the campfire we would have built and the laughter we would have shared. In my bones I feel the ache of the winters we would have endured, tucked away safe in our little home, its windows glowing with steam from the heat of cooking. I know the rhythm of the changing seasons, the quiet sound of passing time, the long empty loneliness if there had been accident or illness and you had left me first.

I drank my tea slowly. "Sometimes. I suppose we would have lived out the rest of our lives there."

"Grown old together."

"Yes." Yes. Grown old together, not alone, not lonely.

"Do you ever miss it?" The question asked innocently, but I could not formulate an innocent answer.

"Occasionally. I miss the simplicity of it, of rising with the sun and working hard all day, of feeling satisfaction when I made something good for myself and for you. I miss sleeping when I was tired and eating when I was hungry."

"Which seemed to be a lot of the time." She raised an eyebrow at me, teasing. I've missed that, too.

"That's why I learned to cook. My grandmother was tired of always making extra meals for me, so...." I shrugged. "Yes, I miss it. Do you?"

She looked away for an instant, some emotion I couldn't name crossing her face. "Yes. I miss the lack of responsibility. I miss the knowledge that a crisis rarely meant anything more serious than a shortage of fresh fruit for breakfast."

"Or a surplus of insects in the garden."

A smile from her then. "I miss not being responsible to anyone but myself. And to you, if I was late for mealtime."

Silence between us, remembering mealtimes and bedtimes, other quiet conversations over tea, so far away, so far away.

"Sometimes," I said slowly, "it's hard to find that simplicity here."

"Hard to find that joy. Yes." She turned away from me. "And sometimes it's easy to find the joy, but hard to accept."

"Kathryn?" I set my tea aside and leaned toward her, reaching out but not touching her. "What's wrong?"

She sat still and silent for a long moment, her hands folded in her lap. I wanted to take her in my arms, but could not.

"I miss your stories," she said finally.

"My stories?" I almost laughed out loud. Of all the things to miss -- bad stories, hastily thrown together to illustrate a point gently or to mask emotions I couldn't bear to express directly.

"Yes. You tell a good story, Chakotay. But there's one you left unfinished." She turned to me with the smile she'd been hiding from me all evening and suddenly I couldn't breathe. "Do you mind if I try it? I think I know how the rest of it might go..."

I nodded. I could not speak.

"At first, the woman warrior was frightened by the angry warrior's devotion. She had never thought herself brave or beautiful, or very wise. She feared that he had placed all his hopes in her recklessly, without attention to his own needs or desires. She feared causing him horrible disappointment when he found her lacking.

"But in time.... She came to accept his devotion. She saw herself through his eyes and was surprised to find bravery there, and beauty, and wisdom. And she began to see the same qualities in him, and to look to him for strength when her own strength faded.

"It was a long time before she realized he had returned to her the peace she had given him. And in this way they both began to know that two old and weary souls can breathe new life when they are joined as one, and that the only true peace is a peace shared freely, given and received with love."

I didn't know there were tears on my face until she reached out and wiped them away. I held her palm against my cheek for a long time, crying, laughing, breathing again.

She came to me and let me hold her, both of us shaking. Nothing in between us anymore but the fabric of the story we had created together, fragile now but growing stronger, stronger by the hour, by the minute. She came to my bed and let me love her, loved me back with the tenderness of her smile, with the brightness of her eyes, with all the passion of a weary soul made new, a warrior at peace at last, at last.

She came to me with a bold heart, a pure heart that she gave to me in her two gentle hands. I gave it back to her in my own hands, with my heart.

I will never know why she chose this evening to come to me. It is enough to know that, freely, finally, she came.

She came to me.