AUTHOR'S NOTE: I started this after seeing Voyager's half-assed series finale. I don't believe it was simply the death of Saint Seven that convinced Janeway to eradicate an entire future. This story is rather dark and generally unhappy. The portrayals of Chakotay and especially Seven reflect my very negative impression of them post-Endgame, so be warned if you like the characters.
And if you're disgusted with the age difference between Janeway and Kim, I hope you're just as disgusted with the greater age difference between Chakotay and Seven. If not, I do not want to know.
And just a final note-- If you've read The Starfleet Officer, let me assure you that I don't only write dark stories. It's just that all my happy stories were written a while ago and thus are embarassingly horrendous and will never be seen here. Thank you. J
THE EIGHTH YEAR OF VOYAGER'S JOURNEY
You're making the biggest
mistake of your life, Chakotay. That's
what she'd tell him if she were a neutral party. However, probably as far as Chakotay was concerned, she was a
lonely woman stewing in her own jealousy.
Janeway almost smiled. He had
no idea how far he was from the truth.
She performed the rites on the holodeck, in a simulation of Kessik IV. As she recited her litany, she noticed Chakotay's careful scrutiny. He seemed to be measuring her reaction, as though he were hoping to see some signs of anger or jealousy in her eyes.
She gave him no such pleasure.
Seven was given away by Harry Kim. The Doctor stood impassively in the crowd, his face a mask of indifference. Kathryn knew that their friendship had crumpled after the commencement of Seven's relationship with Chakotay. The former drone had rejected the Doctor with undue coldness, and over the course of nine months, his love for her had soured . At least, that was the way it seemed to Janeway. Or so she hoped, for his sake.
"Do you have the ring?" Janeway asked, turning to Naomi Wildman, not so little now.
The girl, seven years old in human terms, but looking nearly fifteen now, happily proffered the cushion with the ring. Janeway watched with neutrality as Chakotay and Seven slid their rings on to their partner's fingers.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Chakotay unconsciously looked away from Seven to look at Janeway.
"You may now kiss the bride."
Chakotay's dark eyes caught Janeway's. For a second, something flashed in his, something indefinable. Janeway met his gaze with a practiced, icy one of her own, and pointedly darted her gaze towards his wife. Seven's smile was rapidly fading.
The brief moment passed, and he ducked in and planted a firm kiss on Seven's lips. They stood conjoined for a moment, before pulling apart to face the crowd.
Seven's face glowed with triumph and happiness. Chakotay smiled, too. Then, hand in hand, they strolled down the aisle between cheering crewmen to the door of the holodeck. Seven threw a brief glance over her shoulder at Janeway before they disappeared through the arch.
Janeway tapped her comm badge to let the mess hall know the newlyweds were ready for their reception. Then she paused on the altar, surveying the room, waiting as her crew shuffled out.
She was surprised when Harry Kim was the last to linger, staring at her from the doorway with an expression she couldn't read. Carefully ignoring it, she glanced up at the ceiling and called, "Computer, end program."
The scene faded around her, leaving Kathryn standing alone amidst the cold metal of the holodeck.
"Ready for some food, Captain?" Harry asked as she drew towards him.
Janeway offered him a smile she didn't quite mean. She hoped to God that wasn't pity in his eyes, because that was the last thing she wanted, or needed.
"Harry, I see no need of standing to protocol at a time like this." She smiled warmly at him. "Just for a day, call me 'Kathryn.'"
"Well, Kathryn, I'd be pleased to escort you to the party, if you'd allow me."
Jesus, she didn't want his fucking pity.
"It'd be my pleasure," she replied.
She looped her arm through his, and they disappeared down the corridor.
* * *
"I'm involved with Seven of Nine."
Chakotay said it as gently as he could, hoping to spare her feelings.
He scrutinized her intently, waiting for some sort of reaction to flutter to her face.
She sat there a moment, her expression intangible. Then, finally, she said, "That's it? That's all you had to tell me?"
She rose from the couch, straightened her shirt.
"You called me to your quarters like this was a life and death situation, Chakotay. This doesn't exactly qualify as a startling revelation."
"You already knew?" he demanded incredulously.
She smiled wryly. "I'm not blind. I know what's happening on my ship." She started for the door.
"Why didn't you say anything?"
She stopped, then glanced back at him. "You're not endangering yourselves, or the ship. It wasn't my concern as a captain. You obviously didn't feel that I, as your friend, should be privy to details of your personal life, so I saw no need to bring it up."
He was silent a moment. This wasn't the reaction he had expected.
She pressed on, "What did you expect, Chakotay? That I would be hurt? Jealous? Disgusted?"
"Disgusted?" This one surprised him.
Disgusted at the prospect of you running off with an emotionally underdeveloped woman young enough to be your daughter simply for the gratification of your middle-aged ego?
Disgusted, perhaps, that you didn't trust your supposed best friend with this little bit of information?
Disgusted that you talk to me as though I harbor romantic feelings for you-- despite rejecting you repeatedly over the course of six years on the flimsy excuse of protocol?
Disgusted that you've let Seven manipulate you into a weapon against me?
At least that's what she should have said. That's what she wished she'd said.
She'd covered up her slip after he echoed, 'Disgusted?' She'd laughed it off, congratulated him on a fine catch, played the mother role in being happy Seven had found a good lover, and left. His ego had filled in the rest. She could see what he thought: that she'd grown cold to him because of jealousy, because he'd found a woman she couldn't possibly compete with.
But Chakotay was the one to pity.
She saw it, in Seven's eyes, when they were together near Janeway. She saw the way Seven suddenly became affectionate to him when she noticed Janeway. The way she suddenly would grab Chakotay, cling on to him until Janeway passed. Whether she wanted to prove to Janeway that she was as human as her, or if she simply wanted to top Janeway in some aspect of their unspoken rivalry, Kathryn couldn't say. All Kathryn knew was that she'd seen Seven in love, and she didn't love Chakotay.
Kathryn had seen it coming as soon as he dyed his hair. One day, it was flecked with gray. The next, it was black as midnight. He started sleeping around. He started talking back. He was trying to reclaim his masculinity by marrying a woman half his age and much better looking.
That's fine. Masculine or no, Kathryn didn't care for him much either way... at least, not in the way he'd like to think.
So she wasn't sad at the wedding reception. And she hated that Harry Kim thought she was. She would be happy for Chakotay, under other circumstances.
She remembered Seven's glance, thrown over her shoulder as she marched out of the holodeck with her new husband. Triumphant, gloating. In one moment, she had confirmed what Kathryn had suspected since this debacle of a relationship had begun.
Seven was trying to use Chakotay to hurt her.
Janeway and Seven cared about each other, beyond words, beyond family. They loved each other.
But they didn't like each other.
Janeway had used Seven as a justification for stranding the ship. For all setbacks she experienced, she could balance a positive investment into Seven's development. She'd focused her passion on Seven, her energy. Everything she couldn't devote to a lover or towards her own happiness was given to the Borg drone.
An independent woman had developed from that drone. Between them, there was passion, there was feeling, and there was intense enmity.
Janeway would slap Seven into place when she overstepped her bounds. Seven would do the same the minute Janeway overstepped hers. They always had periods of dislike, followed by a gradual reassertion of their affection.
But though this was not the first time Seven had set out to hurt her, it was the first time she'd preyed on something so close to Janeway's core: her loneliness.
At the reception, they all had a few drinks, laughed, made merry. She'd kissed Chakotay on the cheek, hugged Seven, and then walked off. The one time she'd glanced at Seven after that, the Borg seemed dismayed as she watched her husband, as though she'd realized for the first time what she'd committed herself to.
And Janeway hated to admit it, but a part of her enjoyed the discomfiture on Seven of Nine's face
Janeway left the reception, the captain's mask now a permanent feature. Chakotay, for a while, had been the one person who could see her as a human. Because he'd loved her, he'd forgiven her anything. It had been one of Kathryn's small comforts.
Now Seven had taken that from her.
Before Kathryn had even reached her quarters, she'd hardened her heart to Seven for good. That day, the former drone lost something worth much more than her temporary victory.
* * *
"Computer, activate the EMH."
He fizzled to life in the darkened sickbay.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," he intoned, then his dark eyes slid over to meet Janeway's. "Ah, Captain. What can I do for you."
Remarkable programming. She could hear the forced cheer in his voice.
"I wanted to see how you were. You weren't at the wedding reception." She leaned back against a biobed, and crossed her arms across her chest.
He looked away. "I had work to do." She could tell he was attempting to mask his emotions, but Janeway, as the master of the art, saw right through it.
"I understand if you don't want to talk."
"Talk?" he chortled. "What is there to talk about? It's a fine day for the crew of Voyager-- our seventh wedding. We'll soon have enough children to fill deck 5..."
Kathryn stared at him pointedly. His words died on his lips. He stared at her in open dismay for a long moment, then said quietly, "I take it they're---"
"Ah, yes. The honeymoon. How delightful." He looked down at a control panel, as though searching for something to occupy him. He started tapping a few buttons with undue force. "Was there anything you needed? Or is this just a meeting of recently broken hearts?"
"Contrary to popular opinion, Doctor, my heart's perfectly intact."
He glanced up at her briefly. "Well, that's fine for you to say-- one of the few people who have mastered the art of callousness."
She stared at him a second, then straightened up, suddenly cold. "This was a bad idea."
She turned to leave, but he called out quickly, "Captain!"
She stopped. His voice was soft when he said, "I'm sorry, Captain. I didn't mean to attack you." She turned back towards him. "I just..."
He seemed to be having difficulty speaking, and she drew close and rested a hand on his shoulder.
"You don't have to talk if you don't want to."
"No. It's just that..." He looked up, an mixture of bewilderment and pain on his features. "It's just that so much of what I know about love is now wrong. I thought true love leads to happiness. To fulfillment. I guess somehow, I always expected to end up with her. I love her. I thought..." He stopped, and his face darkened. His voice was harsh as he said, "But I am just a hologram, after all. What do I know? What woman could love photons and force fields--"
"Stop this," Janeway told him firmly, taking him by both shoulders. She leaned closer to him, and whispered, "Photons and force fields, flesh and blood... what's the difference?"
He recognized his own words, and the pain in his eyes died down just a little.
"But you've always said there's a difference. Haven't you? Maybe I'm the one who's been deluded..."
Janeway almost laugh. "Doctor, you're talking to a woman who spent the good part of a year in love with a hologram."
"But that's just my point, Captain. You shrugged him off like nothing. You saw him for a fantasy. This whole time I've been deluding myself, thinking I'm real, when I'm not real enough for her--"
She cupped his cheek in her hand. "You were passed over, and you immediately turned to self doubt. That's human. No hologram was programmed to feel that."
Her words gave him pause.
Finally, he spoke, "As a human, what should... You-- what do you do?"
Her hands dropped to her sides.
"What you'll do, eventually. I move on."
"Move on." He repeated the words dully. She couldn't read his tone.
"Move on. After all," she tried to sound quirky, "there are plenty of fish in the sea."
THE TENTH YEAR OF VOYAGER'S JOURNEY
When Seven lost Janeway, she lost the best thing she had going for her.
After she married Chakotay, she faded into the crew. No longer was she unique, special. No longer was she Janeway's pet, or even her daughter figure. No special treatment, no special regard.
The indifference hurt her..
When she went to Janeway for advice, there was a new coldness there. Before, Janeway could be pressed for hours on end to discuss issues with Seven. Now, she was lucky to find a few minutes.
"Seven, you don't need me to make up your mind for you," Janeway would tell her. "You have some life experience behind you now. Use that. Follow your own path."
Perhaps Janeway expected Chakotay to cover where she no longer would. And he did. However, apart from spiritual matters, Seven found his advice inadequate.
And then Chakotay started to look at other women again.
She'd notice it when they were together. At first, his eye movements were subtle. He'd flicker a glance here, dart his eyes there. It took her a few days to realize that his eye movements only occurred when another female walked past.
It wasn't that he was uncaring. No, he was kind to her. But he didn't love her. Once his infatuation wore past, problems emerged, and resentment.
They argued. They argued over space in his quarters. He resented her need for order, she resented his constant use of space for frivolous items. They resented being bound to each other, and she began to hate him for all he had cost her by marrying her.
When they lay in bed together, he'd maneuver his body in just the way that would leave her dangling at the edge. She began to retreat at nights to her regeneration alcove.
But unfortunately, she was eventually denied even that comfort.
"Since you're sleeping on a regular basis, Seven, I see no more need for a regeneration alcove," Janeway told her one day.
"Regeneration is more efficient," Seven protested.
"Perhaps," Janeway said. She waved the padd in her hand. "But I can't see the use of expending 0.9% of the ship's energy supply every year simply so you can have a more efficient means of sleep. You'll have to make do like the rest of the crew."
Seven comforted herself many nights with the thought that Janeway was cruel to her because Seven had won. In the end, after all their confrontations, after 'butting heads' time and time again, Seven had married the only man on Voyager of whom Janeway seemed fond.
It was small comfort, but she was quickly rather taken with the idea that Janeway treated her like this out of jealousy.
In the middle of a tense confrontation with Chakotay, she mentioned this notion.
"If you care about me, you'll discuss this with her. You'll make her see reason."
He only laughed.
"Seven, if she mistreats anyone, it's me. I can't help it if she's not coddling you anymore."
As Chakotay's feelings towards her cooled, Seven reflected on what she had gained and lost in this marriage. She realized that Captain Janeway no longer accorded her privileges because she no longer saw her as vulnerable. Chakotay no longer cared about her because there was nothing novel for him to explore.
In the midst of her desperation, she remembered how warmly everyone had treated Lieutenant Torres during her pregnancy.
Seven of Nine tried her best to get pregnant. Despite the numerous Borg constraints hindering her reproductive system, she finally succeeded. The Doctor informed her she had a baby boy on the way.
For the shortest of times, Chakotay looked at her warmly again, Janeway mothered her again, the crew treated her as someone special again. She felt herself surrounded by so much love, after being lonely for so long.
And then she miscarried.
Seven of Nine had never been known to have an outburst of emotion, but she was crazed when they found her in sickbay. Blood still staining her legs, she screamed at Chakotay for being an inadequate husband, at Janeway for being cruel. She accused the Doctor of sabotaging her efforts out of spite. They calmed her, soothed her. Within a week, she was back on duty, feeling the pitying stares of the crew burn through her.
Everything kept sliding downhill. She felt alone, friendless, even more so now than ever before. All the strength she'd had just a few years earlier had worn down. She felt weak.
The crew walked on eggshells around her after her miscarriage, even Chakotay. Janeway no longer treated her coldly, but she hardly went back to the old ways. She'd make time for Seven, but it seemed she did so out of some sense of guilt, or daresay, duty, rather than out of genuine concern.
And every time Janeway smiled that smile of strained affection at her, or worse, pity, it was like someone was stabbing her with a knife.
They had been married a year and a half when the day came.
Before one away mission, Chakotay sat her down and began, gently as he could, hoping to spare her feelings, "Seven, listen. I... I just don't think this is working out."
She was still reeling when she was on the surface of the planet.
Divorce. He wanted a divorce.
It made her upset, careless. When the Renari attacked, the away team dove behind a ridge to take cover.
Seven of Nine did not run. She stood tall on top of the ridge. She didn't even try to move when a sharp red beam lanced towards her.
Torres grabbed her as she fell, hauled her to the transporter site and to sickbay.
Seven of Nine lay, dying, on the biobed. She felt Chakotay's arms around her, and looked up into his pain filled eyes. She couldn't hear anything being said. She felt no pain. The world was gently buzzing around her.
The Doctor was circling around her, his features twisted with grief, working to save her life, though they both knew it was futile.
In the distance, she could see a distraught Torres explaining something to Captain Janeway.
Captain Janeway was standing there listening to Torres, staring ahead at Seven. She'd gone completely pale. Seven could see clear guilt in her eyes.
They still care about me.
And the world faded into oblivion.
* * *
Harry tapped in a few security override protocols, and let himself in.
The quarters were completely dark. He took a step, and felt something break beneath his foot. He looked down quickly, and could make out dim shapes-- scattered flowers, a shattered vase, ripped paper of some kind, books, clothing, padds, all strewn about in a disorder that would suggest they were tossed.
He slowly made his way into the quarters, scanning carefully. His eyes finally caught a dark blur in the corner.
In the faint starlight, he could see her curled up, on the floor, her back against the wall. A bottle of alcohol, probably given to her by some dignitary or other, lay sideways on the floor next to her, its contents spilled in a faint mark across the rug.
"Cap--" he reconsidered. "Kathryn."
He drew in a bit closer, reached out a tentative hand to touch her cheek.
For a moment, the skin burned against his touch, and then suddenly she reached out and clawed at him. He pulled back with a cry of surprise.
She was glaring up at him, such hatred in her eyes. Her hair looked damp; it hung wild about a face twisted with anger.
"What the hell are you doing in here?" she rasped. "I locked the fucking door for a reason!"
"Get the fuck out!" She roared, and sprang to her feet before him with an agility and force that startled him. He took a surprised step back, but did not retreat further.
She laughed, bitterly, angrily. "You want to scrub plasma conduits for the next thirty years, Ensign? Get. Out. Now."
Harry took a deep breath. "I-- I came here as a friend."
"Since when are we friends?" she hissed, her eyes glittering dangerously.
Harry suddenly felt a twinge of doubt. What was he doing here? Had she ever really talked to him about these things?
But who else was there?
Tuvok was insane. Neelix was gone. Chakotay was dealing with his own grief. The Doctor had deactivated himself and refused to be reactivated except for medical emergencies. Torres had enough on her hands with Chakotay. Tom was commanding the ship now that the three most senior officers were all incapacitated...
And Seven, now dead.
He involuntarily felt tears prick his eyes.
"I hurt too."
Her expression seemed to soften, her eyes shimmered with unshed tears. For a moment, her grief seemed to fade, and he thought she would embrace him. Then, just as suddenly, rage reappeared across her features.
"I don't care," her voice was shaking, " I don't fucking care! I spent the last ten years worrying about all of you and your goddamn problems, and now I just need quiet." She choked out, "Just--leave."
A scream tore from her throat, and she launched herself at him. Drunk, and weakened by sleep deprivation, her attack proved feeble. He caught her easily in his arms, and held her while she struggled like a madwoman against him. He began to shush her, quietly. As her struggles weakened and died, he held her head against his shoulder, and buried his own face in her hair.
Then she began to cry.
He froze for a moment. He'd never heard her cry. I some part of his mind, he hadn't even thought it possible.
But she began to sob, harder and harder, and soon her whole frame was shaking within his grasp. He pulled her tighter to him, and felt his own tears streaming down his face.
She started talking at some point, unintelligible between sobs and gasps for air. Sputtering words, phrases. As her tears died down, he made out, ".... didn't mean to... never could have seen that coming.... Oh God I was a monster...."
A giant sob convulsed her whole frame, and he had to clench her suddenly to keep from dropping her. And then the words came out as one long moan, I killed her....
"No, no you didn't," he whispered against her ear.
"I did. I killed her... like I put a phaser to her head... I never meant to be so cruel... Chakotay said... the baby, she lost the baby... she called me cruel, she was right... how could I have acted that way… I knew her, how fragile she was..."
"The Renari killed her," Kim hissed. "They're the ones who killed her. Not you."
"...stood there, just stood there, let herself be shot because of me... Because I was so cruel..."
"Please... don't blame yourself for this,"
"What do you know!?" she jerked back abruptly, angrily, glaring at him as her entire body shook with self-loathing. Her voice was a whisper as she related, "I hated her... I hated her for trying to hurt me. I hated her because after all I'd done for her, she'd try to hurt me. She betrayed me and I cut her off. She hurt so much.... She was just a child, but I didn't care. I saw her pain and I didn't care. I couldn't bring myself to care. And now she's dead and I did it to her--"
She collapsed in another fit of sobs, and Harry pulled her back to him.
He held her long into the night, when she finally sagged against him, spent and exhausted. He comforted himself by thinking she'd be back to normal once she forgave herself.
But then he thought of her guilt about stranding Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. She could atone for that. Maybe one day, she could even forgive herself.
But she could never atone for this.
He realized that she'd have no such chance with Seven of Nine. She would never atone, she would never forgive herself. How could she? Death could never be made right again.