Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!
Janeway sat in her ready room. She was exhausted, numb. She had lost him; not to Species 8472, not to the Kazon, not to the evil Hirogen, not even to the blood sucking Vidiians; not to space anomalies or gut wrenching inversions. No! She had taken all the Delta Quadrant had thrown at her and against all odds, she had returned him home with her. Home! Only to lose him to a six foot, one inch blond bombshell ex-borg.
How could she be so blind? How could this have happened? She had so carefully walked the emotional tight-rope for seven long, lonely years. Seven, she thought again to herself... a very unlucky number. She definitely had not been paying attention. Had she been more aware, she would have realized she was losing him. He was begging off dinners, making excuses. Now, Janeway realized, he was seeing Seven.
Pain slashed through her chest at the thought; her angry warrior, in the arms of another woman. Now, when she was finally free to claim him, he had suddenly withdrawn his promise, reneged on the vow he had made to always be by her side.
She could not bear it, it was not to be endured. But there was little
she could do but endure it. She had to go on, had to move forward. She
didn’t know how to do that now. She had lost her compass, her anchor. “Chakotay,”
she croaked out, tears running unchecked down her tired, thin cheeks.
The betazoid was dismayed to find the captain so despondent. Her apartment was in a state of disarray. Janeway had lost even more weight since Voyager’s arrival home. She had looked gaunt upon their return, now, almost four months later, she looked downright frail. Why had Starfleet waited so long to assign her to a counselor? Janeway had somehow slipped through the cracks. Part of that was the captain’s fault. She had insisted she was fine, and not many had the fortitude to stand up to Voyager’s formidable ex-captain. Janeway would have been surprised to know just who pressured Starfleet to send a counselor against her express instructions.
Chakotay had been monitoring Janeway. He still felt obligated to protect his captain, even from herself, perhaps mostly from herself. It was his persistent, uncompromising demands that made Starfleet sit up and take notice of what was happening to the heroine of the Delta Quadrant.
Seven tried to understand his preoccupation with Janeway’s health and well being. She loved the captain, as much as she was able. But she could not dispel the uneasiness, the gnawing jealousy that tore at heart. He seemed unable to walk away from Janeway.
Seven was starting to realize the error in judgment that had lead her to believe he was over her. He had to move on for his own sense of well being, his own mental health. He had told her as much. Now, suddenly, they were home. Chakotay’s Maquis problems were behind him, and although he no longer was a Starfleet officer, he was a welcome addition to the faculty of the academy, and his connection to Starfleet in general and Janeway in particular seemed stronger than ever.
Voyager’s XO could not seem to put the past behind him. He was drawn to Janeway still. He would camp out near her apartment just to catch sight of her on the deck, or walking the dog. Those opportunities were becoming few and far between. He noticed she seemed to be losing weight. She was becoming insular, not leaving the apartment for days at a time. Chakotay grew more and more agitated. Seven knew where he was night after night... some nights never coming home. It was over, she admitted; they hadn’t slept together in over a month.
Chakotay walked home after seeing the counselor finally arrive at Kathryn’s apartment. Tonight was the night he would tell Seven their relationship had run it’s course. When he arrived back at his apartment, Seven was gone, packed everything that was hers and left, no note, no message; nothing. She was ever the efficient one. She knew when to cut bait, Chakotay thought bitterly. He had been a lousy partner. Thank God, they had not married right away. He was an honorable man. Chakotay would have honored those vows to his dying day. But he could never quite bring himself to commit to her totally.
He was finally free. He would let the counselor have time with Kathryn. He was not so egotistical to think he was the sole reason for Janeway’s depression, but one could hope. No, he thought to himself, it was the return home, the enormous letdown after the emotional roller coaster, the careening from one crisis to another which had dominated their lives for the last seven years. That voyage had exacted a serious price on her soul, her psyche. He would be there to help her when and if the counselor thought it was what was needed...or wanted.
He hoped the counselor was as good as he was lead to believe. She had served under Picard on the Enterprise for many years and had a deep understanding of the pressures of long term space duty. He would keep in touch with her, lend his support when requested. He turned her data chip over and over in his pocket. Deanna Troy. He hoped she could work miracles. She would need all her skill and every advantage to overcome Janeway’s carefully constructed impenetrable wall that had alternately protected and isolated her in those seven harrowing years.
Janeway backed off to let the counselor into her apartment. She was most unhappy she had been ordered to see a shrink. All she wanted to do was crawl away and never see anyone again. Didn’t they realize her life was over. She had only two missions to complete in the last seven years. One, to return Voyager and her crew to the Alpha Quadrant, and two, to make a life for her and Chakotay. The failure of her second objective made the first victory a hollow one.
Deanna Troy knew this would be a difficult assignment, but she felt she already had the key to Janeway’s recovery; one very concerned, very forceful, very persistent, very handsome ex first officer. The hard part would be getting Janeway to admit it, try to get her well enough, strong enough to not be blown away by the ex-commander’s needs, needs that would be very difficult for him not to press her on.
She had met Chakotay, knew the depth of his love for his ex-captain. Janeway could easily be overwhelmed by his emotion. It had been difficult convincing the commander to back off. But his love was not only deep, it was also totally unselfish. Of course, she thought to herself, we are talking about a man who has waited for this woman for over seven years. Deanna was confident he would be...do... whatever was required of him. If he was never to have Janeway in his life because that was what she wanted and needed, the counselor was pretty sure the commander would honor that. But, then, she would probably end up counseling him.
Deanna had detected a desperation in the commander. There was just so much an individual could bear, and Janeway’s former XO was nearly at the end of his reserves as well. Chakotay didn’t know it, but Deanna was secretly counseling them both. Her objective was to bring these two wounded souls together into a union she knew they had denied themselves for so long that nothing else seemed possible for them. They were the key to each other’s sense of well being. It should be an easy fix, but Deanna knew the myriad of things that could go terribly wrong when such seething emotions lay dormant, buried, denied for so long.
Gently, Deanna led Janeway to the sofa and sat her down. “My name is Deanna Troy,” she said finally, “is it all right if I call you Kathryn?”
Janeway was obviously distracted. She nodded her assent but did not meet the counselor’s eyes.
Deanna knew she had to treat the body as well as the mind. She went to the kitchen replicator, ordering a delicious light salad and soup for herself and the captain. She opened the kitchen shades to let in the warm inviting San Francisco afternoon sunshine. She rifled through the drawers and cabinets, located linens, and proceeded to create a beautiful, aromatic lunch replete with fresh flowers for the table. It wasn’t much, but it did bring some light and beauty to the house. Last but not least, she ordered up two large mugs of the captain’s favorite drink. The rich coffee aroma filled the house.
Deanna surveyed the kitchen, she thought all was ready. She went back to living room. It was dark, dismal, empty. She finally located Janeway in the bathroom, washing her face and hands, preparing for lunch; a very positive sign. Just having someone else in the house was enough of a catalyst to spur Janeway to action. It was such a positive little step that Deanna couldn’t help smiling at her new assignment. Janeway returned a weak smile and led them back to the kitchen.
They sat down at the table. Janeway looked at the table and around the kitchen, she seemed disoriented. The open freshness of the room was unexpected. Janeway finally returned her gaze to Deanna. They hadn’t said more than a dozen words between them, but already Janeway trusted her implicitly.
Deanna had to keep reminding herself; this was Kathryn Janeway, Captain of Voyager. A captain who had surmounted impossible odds to return her crew and ship home after being hurtled over 70,000 light years away. A trip that drew on every resource she could bring to bear. But now, she was home. Home! She had fought long and hard and this was her reward; a life filled with regret, loneliness. It made Deanna’s heart break. She would help this woman. She would help the commander. Her reward would be seeing them whole, healthy, fulfilled.
“I know you don’t want me here.” said Deanna after a few spoonfuls of soup, “but from now on, you can think of me as your new roomie.”
“What do you want me to do?” Janeway said, finally speaking. “Just tell me! How do I get Starfleet off my ass?”
“For starters, I’d like you to enjoy lunch with a new friend,” said the counselor. She smiled inwardly at Janeway’s death glare. Anyone who could muster that look, a look that certainly withered many an ensign, had to have great inner strength.
“You are telling me, you’re here for the duration. How long?” the captain grated out.
“As long as it takes.” she said simply. “This soup is delicious. Why don’t you try to eat, then rest for a while.”
Janeway picked at the food for another few minutes, then said she was ready to rest. She never even acknowledged the coffee. She wandered off to her bedroom and closed the door.
Deanna thought things went very well, considering. At least Janeway hadn’t sent her packing. She set to work cleaning and tidying up the apartment. She opened the windows, shades, letting in fresh air and light, two very necessary elements to one’s mental health. Darkness breads dark thoughts. That’s what Deanna believed in her heart. Soon the apartment was cheerful and clean.
Deanna started surveying the small things that made this apartment Janeway’s. She lived a relatively Spartan life, but so did many space faring fleeters. It was easy to pick up and go with less flotsam to clutter one’s life. Looking through several drawers, Troy came across several framed photographs the captain had kept. They were buried for now, just as her emotions were buried by the weight of disappointment. All the photos depicted happier times. Several photos of Janeway’s immediate family were on top, but the bulk of the photos were of the crew of Voyager. There were several photos of the commander, one with the captain. They were dressed in Hawaiian garb with the traditional lays around their necks. They looked almost carefree, their arms around each other. This was her dream. This was her goal. She could read it in the captain’s emotions as clearly as if Janeway had climbed to the roof and shouted it to the world.
How had things gone so terribly wrong for these two lovers, she thought. For that is what they were... are, she corrected. The entire crew must have known. Surely the commander knew Janeway loved him. That would be a topic to discuss with the commander. Janeway’s condition was much too delicate to broach that particular subject. He was hurting, but his emotions were much closer to the surface. She could reach him, reach into him easily. He hid little, even though he thought himself a private man. That voyage must have been so difficult for these two; loving, laughing, and the dark side of that, angst, conflict, and finally, a loss of hope by both the captain and the commander. That was what she was feeling from the captain. A loss of hope, a loss of meaning for her life. Whereas Voyager’s captain could only look back with regret, Deanna sensed great hope and expectation on the part of the commander. She was fairly certain that scenario defined their relationship during the seven years it took to return to the Alpha Quadrant.
Deanna was coming up with a plan to breach the carefully placed bulkheads Janeway had built up over the years. It was Deanna’s plan to backdoor Janeway. Get her talking about those seven years. And she knew just the topic to start with.
Deanna looked around the room again. Her eyes rested on the small collection of authentic old books.
Janeway finally emerged from her bedroom after several hours, looking decidedly haggard, unrested. She seemed surprised that Deanna was still there. The living room was bright, cheerful. Deanna was curled up on the sofa, reading; not from a padd, but from one of Janeway’s antique books, Wuthering Heights. A story not unlike Janeway and the commander’s. He was definitely dark, mysterious; Deanna sensed layer upon layer of complexity in the man. And Janeway had a more than passing resemblance to the fictitious heroine, Cathy; high spirited, and compelled by custom to deny her love for the brooding Heathcliff.
Janeway sat down next to Deanna, taking the book from her to look at the title.
“That is one of my favorite books” Deanna said with mild trepidation.
“Mine too,” said Janeway finally, surprised that the counselor had actually read it. It seemed far too parochial to interest an off worlder. But of course, Janeway thought to herself, the two protagonist are very compelling. She didn’t seem to realize how the story paralleled her own.
Deanna felt a twinge when she remembered how the story ended. Very sad, she thought to herself. Just as the situation between Heathcliff and Cathy was fraught with distrust, hurt, overwhelming emotions, desires; so too was the relationship between the captain and the commander. Deanna viewed the story as a cautionary tale. Great love...and great pain sometimes go hand in hand, she reminded herself.
This really wasn’t the route Deanna wanted to take, but she took her cue from Janeway. “You know,” Deanna finally ventured, “the first time I read that book, I wept, and not just at the end.”
“Yes,” Janeway agreed dully, “the resolution seemed so simple. But there were all these impediments, conventions of the time that kept the two lovers apart.”
Janeway was lost in thought at that last statement. Perhaps she was starting to realize the similarities of her life in the work of fiction. Suddenly she changed the subject. “So,” she wanted to know, “what now?”
“Well, I thought we’d get cleaned up and go out on the town.”
Janeway just looked at her as if she had grown scales and a horn.
“OK, how about a quiet dinner in the little place around the corner?”
The two arrived at the small restaurant. Janeway had gone to great pains to present a good front, but she still appeared drawn and tired. They ordered the special and sat back to enjoy the cappuccino they had ordered. Janeway seemed to be savoring the rich concoction.
“What was it like,” Deanna ventured, “I’ve read all about the species, the space anomalies you encountered in the official logs. But, how did you survive day to day? What did you eat?” It was her plan to get Janeway talking about the small things, things not in the logs. How they spent their leisure time, how they found food for the journey, how they handled child care. She would segue into the liaisons formed shipboard later; hopefully arriving finally at the captain and first officer’s relationship.
Janeway did not want to talk about Voyager, but that’s why the counselor was here, she thought resignedly. Voyager’s captain, as depressed and hurt by those memories as she was, realized she had to talk about it, relive it, get past it if she was to continue some semblance of a normal life.
Janeway started regaling Troy with stories from Voyager, personal recollections long buried. Troy knew just how to draw her out. Deanna noted how she spoke of the crewmembers fondly. She never once mentioned the Commander. It was almost as if he was never on the ship, didn’t exist for Janeway. She was still raw, fragile; and she shied away from ripping open those old wounds. But she was talking, laughing, reminiscing.
Janeway felt good. For the fist time in a long time, she let herself dwell on those days without allowing the paralyzing pain to interfere. This counselor was good, she thought to herself, she was very good.
They finished up with dessert; coffee ice cream for the captain and Deanna gave into her urge for chocolate. They both laughed as they realized they had an identical craving for ice cream; comfort food Deanna had called it. Janeway sat eating the rich coffee flavored dessert. How many times had she shared a bowl with Chakotay. Her thoughts betrayed her. Deanna knew she was thinking about the commander. Tomorrow, they would start on the real stumbling block in Janeway’s recovery; but tonight Deanna was more than pleased with their progress.
They walked slowly back to the apartment, enjoying the cool evening air. Janeway turned to Deanna. “Thanks for tonight,” she said. She knew, just as Deanna did, that the sessions would get harder, more painful, but she had felt good tonight, for the first time in a long time. She had forgotten how wonderful it was to have a friend, to have someone to talk to.
“Your very welcome. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time,” Deanna said, slipping her arm through Janeway’s. They walked back to the apartment arm in arm, laughing again at some of the outlandish stories about Neelix and his cooking.
They sat down on facing loveseats, to rest and digest. Janeway had not eaten so well in months. She was still smiling, thinking about Neelix.
“You know,” she spoke hesitantly, “our first away mission as a combined crew was to gather food. Neelix told me once that he told the commander on that away mission he had sought out that planet because it was rich in the most nutritious source of food in Delta quadrant, leola root. He told me the commander took a bite, spit it out and said he would ‘gladly settle for the second best source if it tasted better.’ Neelix was so hurt, and all I could do was guffaw. Chakotay has such a dry sense of humor.” she added, shaking her head. “Chakotay insisted on leading that away team himself. I think he felt the responsibility for the safety of each crew member as acutely as I did.”
She looked at Deanna. “I know I’ve been avoiding talking about the commander all night, but that is why you are here, isn’t it? I know you can sense that I have strong feelings for the Chakotay. It won’t help to dance around this subject for days, when we both know it lies at the root of my depression.”
For the second time today, Deanna was surprised at the strength that lay beneath the wounded visage Janeway projected.
“I had all these expectations of what my life would be like, and now I’m lost. I have no direction; I can’t seem to move forward.”
“What were your expectations?” Troy asked gently.
“I wanted...I needed... I wanted. This is just so hard.”
“He’s with Seven now. I don’t know how that came to be,” she said wonderingly. “He was always by my side. I know he loved me. I also know I hurt him terribly, not once, but pretty much continually over the course of the seven years it took to return to the Alpha Quadrant. I kept him at a safe distance, but I kept him, you know what I mean? I kept him...here,” she said, her hand going to her heart.
Deanna was nodding. She knew exactly what Janeway meant. Too bad the commander could not feel the emotion as plainly as the Betazoid did. She doubted he would have strayed too far from Janeway, he would have waited forever. Janeway had hidden, buried those feelings of love so deeply that the commander could no longer see it in her face, her eyes, her actions; but that didn’t mean she didn’t hold those feelings close to her heart.
As far as Deanna knew, the commander was still living with Seven. She was pretty certain that the relationship was over. The commander was just too invested in Janeway to attempt a relationship with some one else. His body may have led him to an alternative, but the emotional connection to Janeway was not even in question. Troy knew it was just a matter of time before Seven and Chakotay would part ways.
“Did you know the commander and I were stranded on a planet, alone together, for almost three months?” Once the subject had been broached, Janeway seemed more than eager to talk about him, her feelings for him.
“I read about that in the logs. The information about your stay there was short, perfunctory in both official logs. Are you trying to tell me that you and the commander became lovers on that planet five years ago?”
“We were not lovers...” Janeway hesitated, thought it over. “At least, we never made love,” she amended. Troy could hear, feel the regret in that statement.
“You were attracted to the commander,” the counselor said. It was not a question.
“Attracted? to Chakotay?” Janeway said incredulously. “Have you ever met the commander? I think every female on Voyager was attracted to that man.”
Troy was not certain how to answer. The simple truth was probably best. “I have met the commander, and yes, he is a very compelling, very attractive man.”
“I knew he wanted me. I could see it in his eyes. He hid his desire less and less the longer we stayed on New Earth. He told me a story one night, said it was an ancient legend among his people. I’ve never repeated it to anyone, but I don’t think he would mind if I told you.”
Troy leaned forward in her seat. She didn’t want to miss any nuance as Janeway recited the tale. It was more than obvious it held great meaning for both the captain and the commander.
“He said it was about an angry warrior....an angry warrior who couldn’t find peace, even with the help of his spirit guide. For years he struggled with his discontent, but his only satisfaction came when he was in battle. That made him a hero among his people, but the warrior longed for peace within himself. One day, his tribe was captured by another tribe led by a woman warrior. She asked him to join her because her tribe was too small and weak to survive on its own. The woman warrior was brave and wise and very beautiful. The angry warrior swore to himself, he would stay by her side. From that point on, her needs would come first...and in that way, the warrior began to know...the true meaning of peace. “
Troy eyes had misted over. “That is a beautiful legend,” she said, smiling.
“It isn’t really a legend,” Janeway said with chagrin. “The commander had fabricated the entire narrative. When I asked him if that was really an ancient legend, he sheepishly admitted it wasn’t; said it made how he felt easier to say.’”
“That’s the night you fell in love with the commander,” the counselor said knowingly. She could feel the love, the feeling of great joy Janeway experienced when Chakotay finished his tale.
“I fell in love with Chakotay the minute I met him.”
“But that was two years before!” Again the counselor was taken aback. Janeway could really surprise her, Troy admitted.
“Yes,” said Janeway softly, relieved to have the truth known at last,
relieved to be able to say it, not flinch from the overwhelming emotion
She marveled that she could talk to Deanna so openly, but then, she reminded herself, the Betazoid could sense her emotions. There was no way she could hide them from a member of Troy’s species. It was liberating, she realized. That’s why Troy was such an excellent counselor. She suddenly remembered something Deanna had said.
“When did you meet the commander?” she said, her eyes narrowing.
Oh boy, Troy thought she had successfully dodged that particular bullet; Janeway missed very little.
“I met the commander about four days ago.” Troy admitted, offering little more. She decided to tell Janeway everything, but to only address specific questions, give away as little as possible unless Janeway pressed her on the question.
“Under what circumstances?” Troy heard the voice of command underlying that question.
“The commander had requested a counselor visit you.” Troy didn’t tell her that Chakotay had practically laid siege to Starfleet headquarters. They finally acquiesced just to get him off their back. and out of their offices. “He was concerned about you,” Troy added, “he had gotten used to watching out for you...that’s what he told me.”
“What else did he tell you?”
“He told me a little about your voyage, a little about himself.”
“Are you counseling Chakotay as well?”
Troy just looked at her. She wasn’t counseling Chakotay, not officially anyway.
“Does he know you are counseling him?” Janeway was very bright, very perceptive. This was interesting, Troy thought to herself. Janeway had a way of looking into a person, divining their essence. It was one of the hallmarks of a great leader, and Janeway was all of that.
Troy just smiled. “It’s getting really late,” she said, trying to change the subject, “and I have an appointment early in the morning.”
Janeway awoke rested in the morning. She was actually looking forward to coffee and some breakfast.
Troy was gone, off to her “appointment.”
She must think I was born yesterday, Janeway thought to herself. She knew instinctively Deanna was meeting with Chakotay. She wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Was she helping them get back together, or was she helping Chakotay to move on with his new life with Seven, free of regrets... free of guilt.
Why shouldn’t he feel guilty, she thought petuently. OK. This was not how she wanted to spend the day. She was slipping back into depression. It was very difficult not to succumb to those overwhelming regrets, and she bore more than a passing guilt for the shambles she had made of her life. Chakotay did what he had to do to survive, she reminded herself.
Suddenly she had lost her appetite. She went to the couch, picked up the novel Deanna had dropped on the coffee table the afternoon before. She opened the book and started to read from the page she had randomly chosen.
Suddenly she slammed the book shut. Very clever, Deanna, she thought, but I’m not Cathy and Chakotay is not.... Oh God...there was a similarity. Chakotay was dark, mysterious...forbidden. Janeway marveled at that. Just substitute the Moors for the Delta Quadrant, and there you have it. It made her see Chakotay’s plight in a whole new light. How could she have been so cruel. She knew she was his life, yet she never allowed him into her heart, her bed! How she must have hurt him. “I’m so sorry, Chakotay,” she whispered.
How did she ever think he would come back to her. Up to that moment, she had secretly clung to the dream that one day she would be his. No wonder he turned away, sought solace in the arms of another woman; “Bitch” she berated herself.
Chakotay sat in the small restaurant around the corner from Janeway’s apartment waiting for the Betazoid.
Deanna sat down across the table from him, smiling reassuringly. He appeared tired. Troy supposed he was suffering the aftereffects of a predominantly sleepless night.
“Good Morning, Chakotay,” she said. She could feel conflicting emotions radiating from him, the hope she had felt before, but also his fear that Janeway was really ill, too wounded by his betrayal ever to let him back into her life. Troy sensed so much ambivalence, doubt in him...and in Janeway.
“Good morning, Counselor.” Chakotay gestured for the waitress to come to the table. She fumbled a little with the pad she held as she took the order. “I’ll have the buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, some orange juice and coffee.” he said, raising his eyes to hers, smiling. “What would you like, Deanna?” he asked, turning his attention to the Betazoid.
Deanna had been watching the waitress. The young woman’s pulse had increased considerably. Deanna looked again at the man across from her. He possessed an animal magnetism, a dark handsomness, mysterious deep brown eyes, and that tattoo... how had Janeway resisted him for seven years? Seven years! Troy thought, shaking her head.
“Deanna?” he said again.
“Oh,” said Deanna, inwardly castigating herself, “just some OJ and wheat cereal with nonfat milk, thanks. Oh yes, and some coffee.”
They watched the waitress withdraw. Deanna fussed a little with the utensils, the napkin.
Chakotay sat patiently, waiting for her to initiate the conversation.
“I’m here because I know you are concerned about Captain Janeway,” she said finally, “but as a professional counselor, I can’t really repeat what Kathryn has confided to me.”
“You know, one of my roles on Voyager was counselor.”
“Yes, I read that in the logs.”
“So...” he said quietly, “I don’t expect you to tell me what you discussed. Maybe you could just give me an idea about her condition. What is your prognosis?”
Troy didn’t even feel comfortable discussing that. “How is Seven?” she asked, by way of distracting him, changing the subject.
“I don’t know. Seven left me. I got home last night and she was gone.”
Troy could sense deep guilt, and great relief from the commander. “How do you feel about that?” she asked him, knowing pretty much how he felt. Would he try to mask those feelings. What are you doing? Deanna, she admonished herself, testing the man, judging if he is good enough for your new friend.
Chakotay looked down at the table, turning the fork he gripped over and over in his hand.
“How do I feel about that?” Chakotay sighed. “I should never have gotten involved with Seven. I was so lonely.” He looked into Deanna’s eyes, his sincerity plain to see. “She was...is a very beautiful woman. I was so grateful to her. She made me feel good about myself. I had forgotten what it was like to be with a woman who really cares for you. Seven reminded me of that. And of course, the sex was great. It had been a long time...” he added hesitantly, looking down at his hands. Could he actually say this? “You know...a long time, for me.”
Troy thought about how he had kept himself celibate. This man, who could obviously have almost any woman he wanted, had not had a sexual encounter for a long time...so he would be unencumbered by a relationship when Janeway finally came to him; only that never happened.
Troy realized just what kind of metal Janeway was made of as well. She had been in love with this man for seven years, held him at bay because of duty, protocol, convention. What kind of person could do that? What kind of inner strength did that take?
“Anyway, it’s over,” he said after a few minutes of silence. “I feel guilty, not for ending it, but for starting it in the first place. I am also relieved. Seven and I have been drifting apart ever since our return to the Alpha Quadrant. There were suddenly possibilities that didn’t exist on Voyager, for her...and for me.”
“What does that mean, possibilities?”
“I think you know what it means,” he said, his eyes burning into hers.
The waitress arrived with their food. She set it down in front of them. Chakotay just looked at the flapjacks, a smile forming on his handsome face. “You know, I still bite into these expecting them to taste a little like horse radish”
“Let me guess,” said Deanna, enjoying those beautiful dimples, “leola root?”
Chakotay pointed an index finger at her as he stuffed a large piece of the sweet confection into his mouth; a gesture that said “You got it!”
They sat quietly, eating their breakfast. Deanna could feel all the emotions running through the commander as they ate. He was alternately hopeful, embarrassed, regretful, guilt ridden...so many feelings, so much pain to process. She wished she could assure him that everything would turn out all right, that the captain loved him more than life itself; but she was restrained by medical edict to say nothing...and there was always the chance that things would not work out.
“Why did you resign your commission last week?” Troy asked after several mouthfuls.
“Starfleet and I had parted ways a long time ago. That young, naive man no longer exists.”
“Well, that explanation may have flown four months ago, but it is a little less credible now.” Troy was not about to let the commander prevaricate at this point. Maybe he was lying to himself as well.
“I left the fleet before very suddenly, recklessly.” Chakotay stopped to wipe some syrup from his lips, searching for a way to articulate his feelings, “and there were times...times when things looked particularly grave, or I had lost yet another crewman...times when I regretted that decision.”
“I know what you are telling me is true, Chakotay,” she said gently, “but it is the incomplete truth. What I am after is...well, the principal reason.”
Chakotay pushed away his half eaten breakfast and looked out the window of the small cafe. “You just don’t stop pushing, do you?” he said, his eyes filling with unshed tears.
“Occupational hazard,” she smiled. “You were a counselor. It’s all about facing your problems, you know that.”
“It’s a lot less painful being on the other side.”
“Yes,” the counselor admitted, “but it is still hard.”
Chakotay looked into Troy’s eyes. He saw the effort it took to read his emotions, to draw him out. He nodded, remembering his own experiences counseling others, trying to stay neutral, walk the fine line between care and professional detachment. He smiled bravely for her, taking some deep breaths, taking some time to think. He had never told anyone any of this.
Troy could feel dark emotions rising, overwhelming him easily as they must have when his parents had been murdered.
“You know,” Troy said quietly, gesturing the waitress over. “I think it would be a good idea to walk and talk...maybe in the park?” Troy was concerned that the commander would feel embarrassed in the cafe, she was not certain he could control those dark, strong, emotions. She wanted to talk to the commander in a more private setting. She set the credits on the receipt, and got up, taking Chakotay’s arm, leading him from the cafe.
They crossed the street and entered the park. It was a beautiful morning; cool, breezy, and not raining for once. Troy could feel the broiling emotions in the commander. He had to face all these feelings, get them under control if he had any hope of sharing a meaningful relationship with Janeway, or anyone else, for that matter.
“When I first met Kathryn,” he said with effort, “I was so angry, so emotionally shut down. The Maquis had been all but defeated. I had already reconciled myself to dying, or barring that, a lifetime in prison...or worse.”
Troy slipped an arm through his and directed him to a bench in the shade.
“I guess I had given up hope,” he said, sitting down heavily. “My family was dead. Our cause was lost! All I could do was protect my friends, my crew, as best I could. But the outcome was pretty much a foregone conclusion. We were on the run...and we had run out of time.”
They sat for a few minutes, the commander gathering his thoughts.
Troy could feel the ambivalence, the natural reticence to allow all these seething emotions to pour out of him.
“I can’t tell you how bleak that time was for me. It was just a matter of placing one foot in front of the other, moving forward, because going back was impossible. I had burnt all my bridges. All that was left was war... turmoil...heartache; and a thirst for revenge that I realized would never be quenched, no matter how many Cardassians I sent to hell.”
He turned to Deanna meaningfully, willing her to understand the depths of his despair. “That was my state of mind the day I met Kathryn Janeway, Captain of Voyager.”
Deanna thought back to the ‘Angry Warrior’ tale he had fabricated to try to convey to Janeway just what she meant to him, how she impacted, changed his life. He had eloquently told Janeway all of this is the guise of an ancient legend.
“She was unlike anyone I had ever met before. I think we both... we both knew...we had fallen in love the moment we met. It was so incredible.. I was so emotionally wounded, disheartened. My life had been turned upside down. I was on the other side of the galaxy; many of my shipmates were dead or injured; my chief engineer, whom I loved like a sister, was missing; and the spirits had just placed this incredible gift at my feet.” Chakotay just shook his head.
Troy could feel his incredulousness at the absurdity of his situation.
“I had never fallen in love before...not like that. I felt as though she had ripped open my chest and stamped her name on my heart. I couldn’t catch my breath.”
So, Troy thought, they both experienced an overwhelming attraction for each other. Then something went terribly wrong.
“I’ve never told that to anyone. It feels good to finally say it out
Chakotay said, looking up at the San Francisco sky.
Troy could feel his fleeting joy.
“Things happened so fast after that,” he continued after a few minutes. “We finally secured our people. I sacrificed the Liberty to save Voyager. Janeway made a decision to destroy the Caretaker array. The moment she gave that command, I knew what it meant. We were stranded...destined to spend a lifetime on Voyager in an attempt to return to the Alpha Quadrant....and I was happy, hopeful, for the first time in along time...”
“You were 70,000 light years from home, and you were happy?”
“Understand. I felt real compassion for those members of both crews who had loved ones back in the Alpha quadrant, but as far as I was concerned, my life was there, on Voyager. My crew was out of immediate danger. That alone was enough to bolster my spirits. I was destined to travel the stars in close proximity to the one person I could not live without. Everything seemed possible.”
Chakotay got up, paced a little, finally rested a hip on the back of the bench. He spoke, looking at the woods. It was all going to come out now. There was no reason to hold anything back.
“My plan was to convince Kathryn that we could be helpful, productive members of her crew.”
“Was it hard to convince her?” Troy wanted to know. She would have loved being a fly on the wall for that meeting.
“I was called to Voyager’s ready room. I knew this was it. She could drop us off at the next earth type planet if she felt she could not trust...or at the very least...control us. I had prepared arguments to counter any doubts she might harbor about keeping the Maquis aboard Voyager. I was not prepared for what actually happened.”
“And what did happen at that first meeting?” Troy knew it was the foundation of the dynamics of the relationship between these two; and Chakotay’s insight into that meeting was very important.
“She admitted me into her ready room. I felt like I was going to explode. I wanted to take her up in my arms, tell her I loved her, tell her I had been waiting all my life for her...I couldn’t control my body.” Suddenly he was frowning. “She was so controlled, so distant.”
Troy could feel the uncertainty, the confusion he experienced.
“She thanked me,” he said, “formally thanked me and my crew for saving her crew and Voyager, said she was sorry I lost my ship. Then she just floored me. She wanted to know if I would accept the position of First Officer. Her XO! For God’s sake! I was shocked. I must have just stared at her blankly, because she repeated the question as if I had a some kind of profound learning disability.
He came around to sit on the bench, took Troy’s delicate hand in his. She could feel the warmth generated by those strong, gentle hands. She looked up into his eyes.
“Deanna. I can’t tell you what that meant to me. I was so gratified that she trusted me enough to make that offer, that she intended to keep the Maquis on Voyager, that it was her intention to merge the two crews.” he released her hand, running one hand through his thick, long hair. “That’s when it hit me! That’s why she was being so distant. She wanted me, needed me in that capacity...and in her mind it negated any other kind of relationship between the two of us.”
He leaned forward, placing his hands over his face, trying to block out the sight, the memory.
Troy experienced the crushing disappointment he had felt.
“I wasn’t sure I could do it! Yet, I knew in the end, I would accept. It was an elegant solution to our problem, the only solution to our problem!”
“I was so upset, I could hardly speak. I told her, ‘if she could do that, so could I.’” Chakotay wiped at unchecked tears. “At least she had the grace not to pretend to misunderstand me. I left her ready room, vowing to myself that I would be the best goddamn first officer in the fleet.”
“I was so fucking sure of myself.” he said, leaning back in the seat, drawing both hands through his silver streaked jet black hair. “I told myself that seventy years was a long time. She would come to me one day. I just needed to be patient. God,” he smirked deprecatingly, “how could I have been so wrong?”
“Seven years is a long time to patient.” said Troy.
“I told myself she was worth the wait. I still feel that, even though I gave up on us. Our lives were not so bad, and I was full of hope in those early years.” Chakotay swallowed hard. “It was difficult at first. Oh, we flirted, sometimes we flirted shamelessly, but she never crossed the line, never once told me she loved me. But I knew she did. I could tell it in her eyes, the way she moved when we were together—alone together, I mean. Her body would betray her. She often trembled when we touched accidentally.” Chakotay thought back on those intimate memories.
Troy could sense the intensity of his love, the utter loneliness caused by his self imposed celibacy, the effort it took day after day to respect her ‘parameters.’
“I wanted her so badly. Do you think she knew that?” he said, turning to Troy, his eyes wide, vulnerable.
Hell yes! thought Troy. But she did not voice that out loud. “So,” she said gently, “why did you resign your commission last week?”
“Kathryn is the strongest, most stubborn person I have ever known. My affiliation with Starfleet has kept us apart for over seven years. It is the one barrier between us that I can control...and I’m not even sure it will make a difference after all this time, after forsaking her for Seven.”
“You both have a lot to forgive... in each other...and in yourselves.”
I should have realized it wouldn’t be easy. Janeway was asleep in her bedroom. Troy opened up the apartment drapes and windows again, letting in the bright midday sun. The novel she had been reading was thrown carelessly on the floor. Oh boy, she thought to herself. I should have placed that back on the bookshelf before I rushed off this morning. She set about replicating fresh flowers for the coffee table and the kitchen table, and manually brewed some coffee from the beans she found in one of the cupboards.
She decided to pass the time entering all the relevant information in her logs.
Janeway finally emerged from the bedroom. She stood at the entrance of the living room, blinking away the torpor that was threatening to overwhelm her once again. The apartment was filled with light, fresh flowers and the pungent aroma of strong coffee. Janeway could not help but smile at her new friend. It was certainly better than waking up to the depressing hell hole of an apartment she had slinked away from in the morning. Troy was not about to allow her to backslide.
She poured herself some coffee and came back to the living room, sitting across from Troy. “So, how did your ‘appointment’ go this morning?”
“I think I made real progress,” Deanna said idly, looking at the pad in her hand.
“I’ll just bet you did.” Janeway said knowingly.
“How about something to eat?” Deanna said cheerfully.
“If I didn’t know better, I would think you were trying to fatten me up!”
“Just trying to be helpful,” Troy ventured.
“If you really wanted to help, you could be a little more forthcoming about your meeting this morning.”
“You know I can’t say anything about that,” Troy cautioned.
“Deanna, I have to know what’s going on. Can’t you tell me anything?”
“Well, if you didn’t keep yourself bottled up in this apartment, you would know what’s happening with your ‘friends,’” Troy chastised.
“Point taken,” capitulated Janeway. “I’m not really very hungry,” she said, changing the subject.
“You are never ‘very hungry,’ doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat something... and besides, I skipped lunch today. What do you say we replicate a picnic and eat an early supper in the park. It’s a beautiful day!”
Janeway knew what she was doing of course; making her go out, willing her to fight the inertia that was paralyzing her. “OK, OK. I know better than to argue. You’re the doctor.” she said, giving in easily. “I’m going to shower.”
Troy felt it was a good sign she agreed to go out so readily. The fact she was also counseling Chakotay made Janeway feel hopeful, encouraged for the first time since her arrival home. Troy could feel the momentum of change starting to take hold in Janeway’s psyche. It was always a welcome relief to know the patient was becoming more and more assured of a healthful, beneficial outcome.
The park was beautiful. They had just finished their sandwiches and salads and were enjoying some sparkling cider. The park was crowded today. Lots of activity, lots of children laughing and running. Janeway seemed entranced watching the children at play.
Kathryn turned to Troy. “I had forgotten the sounds of children, the laughter. We only had one child on Voyager. It must have been very lonely for her growing up on that ship.”
“I don’t know. Naomi Wildman seems like a happy, well adjusted young lady,” Troy said. “Being the center of attention on a ship full of adults doesn’t seem to have scarred her at all,” she smiled.
“I suppose,” said Janeway.
“How do you feel about children, about not having children, I mean.”
“I made a choice about that a long time ago. I have no regrets,” she hesitated, “not for myself, anyway.” Janeway quickly looked away. She could not believe she had voiced that sentiment aloud.
“What does that mean?”
Janeway just looked at the counselor as if she had been slapped. She did not want to discuss this, not now; not ever.
“What does that mean, no regrets...for yourself?” Troy repeated. She could feel the captain’s rising panic.
“We don’t have to talk about that right now.” said the counselor casually, letting Janeway off the hook. “Tell me about the first time you met the commander.” she said, changing the subject.
“I was assigned to infiltrate a Maquis cell,” Janeway said, feeling somewhat relieved. “Tuvok got himself assigned to the Liberty. He was reporting to me clandestinely twice a week for several months. He had amassed a great deal of information on Liberty’s captain and crew. Suddenly the transmissions just stopped. I took Voyager to their last known coordinates. We were swept to the Delta Quadrant just as the Liberty had been a week before. We were in a crisis mode, I had lost members of my crew, the engines were failing, and we had a missing crewman. I contacted Chakotay, to see if Kym had been transported to his ship by mistake. He was missing a crew member also. I suggested a joint mission to find them.”
Troy could feel her fighting the urge stop, willing herself to move forward with the narrative. “You trusted him, instinctively,” Troy nudged.
Janeway considered that for a moment. She frowned in puzzlement. “I was familiar with the commander’s Starfleet service record, and the reports from Tuvok indicated that he was an extraordinary captain among the Maquis. I read between the lines. I think Tuvok respected him, informed on him grudgingly.”
“So, you allowed him to beam to your bridge.”
“He was pointing a phaser at me when he materialized on the bridge. The moment our eyes met, I knew he would never use it against me! How many sworn enemies can you say that about?” Janeway asked rhetorically.
Troy just nodded knowingly.
“I told you, I fell in love with him the moment we met. I think he felt the same. What I didn’t tell you was how shocked we were, shell-shocked. I wasn't even sure I could function.” Janeway sighed, letting the emotion of the moment well up in her again.
Troy could feel the astonishment, the intensity of her sudden attraction for the Maquis captain.
“God, he was so intense! So angry! So hurt! That’s what I think I realized first, he was so injured. Here was a man who had lost everything; his family, his pride, his commission in Starfleet. He was betrayed by almost everyone on that bridge. And yet, I did not fear him.”
“You both had missing crewman,” Troy prompted, when Janeway had fallen silent, pensive.
“Yes.” she continued. “He was desperate to find Torres. At first I though they might be lovers, but that was not the case. Harry Kym was my new young ops officer. It was his very first mission. I vowed to myself I would not abandon him. I had already lost too many of my crew. The commander and I worked surprisingly well together. The crisis had taken precedence over our emotions. We were both operating on pure adrenaline.”
“It wasn’t until our crewmen had been rescued and we were out of harms way, that I started to realize the dire straits we were in. Chakotay had lost his ship, the surviving members of his crew were bivouacked in one of Voyager’s cargo bays. I had two disparate crews. The ship essentially had two captains.”
“You needed Chakotay...and his people,” Troy said softly, trying to keep her talking.
“Even to this day, I can’t believe what I did next.”
Troy could feel the disbelief, the regret.
“I knew he was attracted to me.” Janeway stopped, decided to tell it all. “Hell, I knew he was in love with me. I used it, Deanna! I used him! I knew he would accept. I knew he wanted to be with me, would say or do anything I wanted him to. I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”
Wow! thought Deanna, that’s a lot of guilt to carry around. “Did it ever occur to you that the commander could have another reason for accepting your offer?” she said, countering Janeway’s reasoning.
Janeway looked up at the counselor. No, her expression said.
“I think the Commander would have agreed to the offer weather he was in love with you or not. Actually, it would have been easier on the Commander to accept your offer had he not been in love with you.”
“N...No...you don’t understand...I forced him into that role.”
“So, when you made your offer, you had no faith in the Commander’s abilities, his trustworthiness?”
“Up to the instant he resigned, Chakotay’s Starfleet record was exemplary. I had every reason to believe he would make an excellent first officer,” she said, earnestly.
Troy’s adeptness in counseling had never been so evident. Janeway rose to the bait beautifully. “I would just like you to consider the possibility that Chakotay may have been honored, completely surprised, but honored, nevertheless, to be offered the position of First Officer on Voyager. He was an outlaw... he had lost all respect and credibility. You yourself said you knew he was emotionally hurting. Suddenly, he was being given a second chance.”
“You’re saying,” Janeway reasoned, “You’re saying...the only possible reason he would have for not accepting was because he was in love with me.” She shook her head, wonderingly. “And all these years, I thought...I thought he resented my offer, resented that I was using him.” Janeway gasped slightly, looked down, running her hand through the soft grass.
Troy gave her a few minutes to think about that. “You knew he was in love with you. How did that make you feel day after day?” she asked finally.
“Initially, the fact that we were so attracted to each other helped smooth over the rough spots, making the transition to one crew possible. But later, after a year or so, when the crew seemed to be putting any distinctions behind them, we still had this intense connection. Chakotay started to push his own agenda. I knew he wanted me to share his life.”
Janeway stopped to take a long swig from the sparkling cider bottle. “When we ended up on New Earth, I knew it was just a matter of time before we became lovers. But suddenly Voyager returned, and we were back to square one. Back even further, actually, because after we returned to the ship, after I reinstated the protocols which had governed our relationship for the first two years, Chakotay became very bitter. It took us a long time to get back to the point our relationship was at before we were stranded together. But something in Chakotay died. I could see his hope fading. Day after day he grew more distant. I wanted him to move on. I can’t tell you how much ambivalence I felt over that. I wanted Chakotay to be happy, but the thought of him in the arms of another woman made me physically ill.”
It was getting late, the sun was setting and their was a definite chill in the air. Troy hated to interrupt Janeway. “I think we need to pack up and get back to your place,” she said, gathering up the picnic remnants from the blanket.
Janeway nodded, picked up the blanket, shook it and folded it under her arm.
They made their way back to the apartment. Janeway went to the kitchen to make some coffee.
Troy was not sure which tact to take for the next session. Sitting on the couch, she tried to logically sort out the problem. Janeway had compartmentalized her life so fundamentally on Voyager that finally Janeway, the woman was subjugated completely to Janeway, the captain.
The captain wanted a healthy, well adjusted First Officer; but the woman could not bear to see him with anyone else. The mixed signals must have driven the commander absolutely crazy; and, Troy thought to herself; it had finally driven him into the arms of Seven.
Janeway came back to the living room, sitting down in the chair across from Troy.
“We worked really hard today. Maybe you would like to take a break.” Troy said.
Janeway considered that for a few minutes. Even though it was painful, she wanted to continue. “No,” she said, wrapping her legs underneath her, getting comfortable, “it’s OK, I’m OK.”
Troy took a few minutes to ask her next question. She was getting close... very close to Janeway’s final days on Voyager. Close to the incident which caused Janeway to go over the edge, slip into the profound depression which she could not seem to transcend.
“Chakotay was finally moving on, just like you wanted him to. When did you realize he was involved with Seven?”
“I never realized it! Chakotay never told me. He and Seven never indicated anything was going on when they were on duty. Chakotay and I had not been spending a lot of downtime together, but I just never considered that he might be in a serious relationship. That thought was such an anathema to me, my mind wouldn’t even allow me to consider that.”
Janeway looked out the window. “Don’t misunderstand. There were times when I knew he was with another woman, but they were fleeting encounters. I had a few myself,” she added reluctantly, “But...when I was alone in my quarters, alone and god-awful lonely, it was Chakotay who fueled all my fantasies.”
“You believed it was a serious relationship. Why? What made you believe it wasn’t just another shipboard dalliance?”
Janeway didn’t know how to answer. Did the temporal prime directive supersede doctor-patient privilege? Screw it, she thought to herself. Deanna would never repeat any of this to anyone.
“I’m sure you’ve read in the logs the series of events that allowed us to return to the Alpha Quadrant...about Admiral Janeway.” Janeway said slowly.
Troy just nodded. Here it comes, she thought to herself.
“Admiral Janeway had worked for 10 years on a plan to come back to Voyager to alter the future. Part of the information she imparted included the fact that Chakotay and Seven,” she hesitated, was having some difficulty wrapping her mouth around what she needed to tell Troy. “That they were...man and wife.” she said, tears falling freely now.
“She told you Chakotay and Seven were going to get married, sometime in the future.” Troy said sympathetically.
“I felt a stabbing pain in my chest. I couldn’t breath,” Janeway recalled, feeling a the ache in her chest once again.
Troy experienced the knife-like pain Janeway had relived, felt the desperation and sorrow, could feel her fighting the reeling emotions even now, as she had resolved to harden her heart, to keep her personal life separate from her professional duties; how the pressure, the demands on her had worn her down, forcing the woman underneath to retreat behind an almost Vulcan control.
“Admiral Janeway looked so smug.” Janeway continued when she could finally get the words past her swollen, constricting throat. “She knew how that information would affect me, but I couldn’t let it influence me, influence my decisions as captain of the ship.”
“It was at that moment, I realized that I had lost him, utterly, completely. I had manipulated him, toyed with his emotions for far too long. He had moved on. I was so insulated, so self involved, I never even knew it. God, I hated what I had become; an obsessive, unloving, selfish bitch fixated on one thing only. My guilt had driven everyone I loved away.”
“Obsessive might be apt,” Troy observed, “but I would never characterize you as selfish. You did what you thought you had to; paid a price for that for seven long years, forfeiting your own happiness.”
Janeway had tears in her eyes. “Don’t you see ? I was the reason they were all out there. I had to get them home to...” She stopped mid sentence. “...I couldn’t accept Chakotay’s love while the rest of the crew depended on me...I couldn’t let myself be happy....while members of the crew struggled with the fact that they were so far from home, so far from loved ones. If I had accepted Chakotay into my life, I would be home...in his arms. I just couldn’t allow myself that... I isolated myself both physically and mentally from him, rebuffed his love, and finally even rejected his overtures of simple friendship. I didn’t even trust myself to allow that.”
“Oh God, how he must loathe me.” Janeway said finally, catching her breath.
“You think Chakotay hates you.” Deanna stated. “You don’t believe he knew how you felt; knew the guilt you carried for those seven years; knew that you loved him; knew that all this was tearing you up inside?”
“I want to believe he didn’t know...because if he knew, somehow, that’s even worse.”
Yes, Troy agreed silently. It meant he was in as much pain as you were; and could do absolutely nothing about it but watch the woman he loved slowly unravel.
Troy believed it was one of the reasons the commander considered a relationship with Seven. He was hoping to alleviate at least one some of Janeway’s guilt. If he moved on, appeared happy, maybe they could at least be good friends again.
Chakotay had given up hope that Janeway and he would be together on Voyager. But, as the man pointed out, they were home now, and that opened up “possibilities.”
Troy held Kathryn as she cried her regret. It was a long time till the sobs became sighs, the emotion more manageable.
“I am going to break one of my own rules,” she told Janeway finally, “only because if you were thinking straight, this information would be readily available to you.” She straightened up; let Janeway collect herself. “Seven of Nine is no longer on Earth. She’s on Vulcan. She accepted a position at the Vulcan Hiwemdnj Academy. Chakotay resigned his Starfleet commission a week ago.”
“No longer on Earth?” Janeway repeated, puzzled. “Oh god,” she groaned, “so far away. Chakotay doesn’t even like Vulcan,” she said morosely.
Shit, Troy chastised herself. She didn’t mean to imply they were still together.
“Chakotay is teaching at Starfleet Academy; he lives here, in San Francisco!
Janeway looked to Troy questioningly. “What are you telling me...are you saying that the commander and Seven are no longer together?
“I’m telling you the commander is no longer a commander.” Troy said carefully. “As to the status of Seven and Chakotay’s relationship, I really can’t discuss that. You may infer what you like from the information I have given you.”
Janeway just nodded. Troy could not betray a confidence. Chakotay must have discussed Seven with her and Troy was not at liberty to reveal what he had said. Janeway’s spirit soared. Was the commander...Chakotay, she corrected, was he finally, truly free.
Suddenly fear gripped her heart. What if he didn’t want to see her? What if he didn’t love her anymore? She didn’t think she could survive being rejected.
Troy saw the fear on her face. She ached to tell Janeway that Chakotay loved her still, loved her with a passion Troy had seldom experienced in all the years she empathized with her patients; a passion grown desperate and more acute over time.
“Chakotay is waiting to hear from me,” Troy said cautiously, slowly. “What do you want me to tell him?”
Janeway looked into her eyes, saw Troy’s compassion. “Tell Chakotay...” she said hesitantly, “tell him...I miss my friend.”
Troy had coffee ready early the next morning. She was browsing the news on Janeway’s console when Kathryn walked into the kitchen.
“You’re leaving today.” Janeway said, anxiously. She was going to miss Deanna, miss the camaraderie they had shared over the last few days. “Will I ever see you again.?”
“Of course,” Troy assured her.
Janeway looked a little dismayed. She had made great progress in the last few days.
“You’re going to be fine,” she assured the captain. “You can call me anytime. Anytime,” she repeated. “I’m only as far away as the nearest communications device.” Troy nodded her assurance. “But you won’t need me. You are without a doubt one of the strongest, most extraordinary individuals I have ever met. I am proud to call you a friend.”
Troy radiated assurance. Janeway was still doubtful. She was just so unsure, not only about herself but also about her relationship with the commander...with Chakotay she corrected. God, would she always think of him as a commander? He was not even a member of the fleet any longer.
“Will you see him today?” she asked, her eyes downcast.
“Yes. I am meeting with Chakotay in a few hours. I anticipate he will appear at your door after our meeting. I think you should be prepared for that.”
Janeway could only nod. Oh God! Chakotay! She would see him...today.
“You’re ready for this,” Troy said forcefully. “Just be honest with him. Tell him...tell him how you feel. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Chakotay seems strong, but he has experienced a lot of heartache in his life. He needs you, Kathryn, maybe even more than you need him.”
Janeway’s head jerked up at that. She never considered that Chakotay may be as unsure, as insecure as was she. Had she just heard her therapist tell her that Chakotay was as eager, and as frightened as she was?
“I would like to ask you one more question. If it is too upsetting, we don’t have to discuss it, but I think you need to address it before you see Chakotay.”
Janeway braced herself. Obviously, Troy was not about to let her slide on the one subject she had refused to discuss.
“OK,” Janeway said finally. “I know I was not exactly forth coming on the subject of children. I guess you took me by surprise in the park yesterday.”
“Can you talk about that now?” Troy asked gently. “What did you mean, you had no regrets...for yourself.”
“One year into our voyage,” Janeway spoke hesitantly, “one of the original Maquis crew, a Cardasian who had infiltrated Chakotay’s ship named Seska, defected to the Kazon. Apparently she and Chakotay had at one time been lovers. With her knowledge and assistance, the Kazon managed to steal Starfleet technology. In an attempt to retrieve or destroy the stolen module, the commander was captured. He was brutalized, tortured to reveal Voyager’s access codes. While he lay unconscious, Seska took a sample of his DNA. She taunted Chakotay in a farewell message with the knowledge that she had impregnated herself. It was almost a year later when Seska contacted us to tell Chakotay that his son was in danger. I knew he wanted to go after the infant himself. He was desperate to save the child, even though he hated the mother. I gave Chakotay a choice. If he wanted to save his son, I told him the entire crew was behind him.”
Janeway fought to keep her voice even. “He was so grateful...so...relieved,” she croaked out. “Well, the details of the mission are documented in the logs. What is not mentioned is Chakotay’s fierce determination to save his son. Chakotay would make a wonderful father.” Janeway looked wistfully out the window. “I know he wanted children. He had no family, no immediate family still alive, and being raised the way he was, family was extremely important to him. I think, more than anything, he wanted to...needed to be a father. Just one more thing I denied him...and myself.”
“There may still be time to make that happen,” Troy volunteered.
“I know that, but...well, I really abused my body out there, years of stress and improper nutrition, not to mention my problems since we returned home.”
“Something tells me those problems are about to clear up,” Troy said knowingly. “I have read in your logs that Chakotay is a pretty fair cook; and I’ll wager he’s pretty knowledgeable in the stress relieving department as well.”
Janeway blushed furiously at Troy’s innuendo. With any luck, she thought to herself, she would learn about that first hand.
Janeway paced her small apartment. She cleaned, straightened, cleaned some more. She was so excited, anxious. She couldn’t sit still. Chakotay would soon be here, in her home; maybe in her bed.
Oh God, she fretted, I’m not ready for this. She went to the bathroom to check her makeup for the tenth time. Christ...she looked so old. How could she hope to compete with Seven, or any of the young, inexhaustible numbers of beautiful women on earth for that matter. She had worked herself into a emotional frenzy.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. It sounded loud and shrill in her ears. She froze.
She considered fleetingly not answering. Maybe he would just go away. God, she hated emotional confrontations, knew she handled them badly.
Chakotay stood at the door impatiently. Troy had told him that she thought Janeway was strong enough for the next step; which, she said, was working out their relationship. Chakotay was not sure what would happen today, but he had decided that he would no longer take “no” for an answer. He planned to take her in his arms and kiss her till she was senseless. He thought back on all the times he wanted to do just that, but allowed the sensitive friend to usurp the man who stood resolutely at Kathryn’s door today. He would finally shove the “friend” aside, and allow Janeway to see the man underneath, the passionate man who wanted to be in her life, in her dreams, in her bed!
Chakotay stood fuming at the door. Finally forgoing the dainty door bell, he pounded the door, smashing his fist against the sim-wood with great satisfaction. The sound startled Janeway, who had not moved since she seized up at the sound of the bell.
Chakotay was starting to panic. Maybe she was not as strong as Troy thought. Maybe she had gone to ground like some frightened animal.
“Kathryn, I know you’re in there. Open the door!” he shouted. Spirits, he thought to himself, I wouldn’t let a lunatic like me in either. He willed himself to calm down. “Kathryn,” he entreated, leaning his forehead against the door, “Please...please let me in. We need to talk.”
He was about to rap on the door again, when it suddenly swung open. Janeway stepped back a little, gesturing him inside.
Chakotay stepped inside. God, he could feel the ache in his chest, just as he had the day they met. How did he even consider marrying Seven. Kathryn was his life. When he was in her presence, he felt complete. Knowing they would soon be lovers was causing his body to riot with need. He needed to get himself under control, needed to be able to speak. Yes, he thought to himself, speaking was good. “Kathryn,” he managed to croak out.
Janeway reached out a hand to shake his. “It’s been a long time,” she rasped.
Chakotay took her hand, gently pulling her to him. It was difficult not to crush her to him and kiss her passionately as he wanted to. He held her, hugged her tenderly, caressing her back with gentle, strong hands. Gods, she smelled so good.
She felt so thin, frail in his arms; bones jutting out over thinly stretched skin. He realized that she was in her bare feet. She seemed so small, ethereal. It was hard to keep from sobbing, knowing he was the cause of her melancholia. He would make it up to her if she would just allow it; fatten her up with his cooking and, if he had his way, with his child.
Janeway felt so content in his arms. It took her a moment to realize he was trembling.
The front door was still standing open. Neither, it seemed, wanted to disengage to close it. Janeway dropped her arms finally, backed away a little, still holding his hand. Chakotay closed the door.
“You look wonderful,” Janeway was finally able to say. He was fit, sun tanned and simply gorgeous in his crisp white shirt and khaki chinos. She self consciously raised a hand to her face. She felt decidedly old, pale, unattractive.
Chakotay caressed her cheek, he would not have her thinking she was not desirable. “You are, and always will be, the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on,” he assured her. He wanted her. He wanted her badly and didn’t care if he had to beg to have her. He was ready to do just that..
“I know...you’re just being kind. I know I’m not looking well.”
Chakotay had to admit she was thin, pale. “Well, it’s nothing that my cooking and a little TLC can’t cure,” he said, smiling.
“Yes, I guess I need a keeper. A live in cook would be heavenly,” she ventured, a smile threatening.
Chakotay could not believe his ears. Had she just asked him to move in with her? He marveled at that. They had never even kissed; a situation he was determined to rectify this very moment. Everything else could be worked out later. He had waited for this moment for over seven years.
“Kathryn,” he said, growing serious, “I want to kiss you. I have wanted to kiss you for seven years.”
He saw her eyes fill with tears. Oh God, he loved her so. He thought his chest might explode, his heart was beating uncontrollably.
Slowly, she approached him, steadying herself with her hands on his chest, she rose up on her toes to bring her lips to his.
The touch of their lips sent shock waves coursing through their bodies.
“Oh, God,” she breathed against his mouth. She knew on some level that kissing Chakotay would be wonderful, she was not prepared for the overwhelming desire it had unleashed. Her abdomen suddenly felt leaden, empty with need; longing for a man... longing for this man...to fill her.
Chakotay tried to keep from pressing himself against her. He had grown hard, and nothing short of being inside this woman was going to make that go away now. He tried not to hold her too close. He still thought they needed to talk, work shit out; but Chakotay had not counted on Janeway grinding herself against his aroused member. He was losing control. She liked it...he could tell. Hell, he liked it too.
Suddenly he wrapped his arms around her and crushed her to him, assaulting her mouth with his tongue. He wanted to taste her, to kiss her everywhere.
When Janeway finally broke the kiss to catch her breath, Chakotay let her, but did not relinquish his hold on her. He held her in a viselike grip, the warmth of her small body pushing against him tauntingly. “I really came over to talk,” he said with chagrin, his body reveling in her warmth, his gonads urging him on even as he was trying to disengage.
“Talking is so over-rated,” Janeway smiled crookedly. She ran her hand down his arm, grasping his huge hand in her small delicate one. She lead him to her bedroom. If the physical stuff worked out, she reasoned, she knew everything else would fall into place. Hell, she had lived with the man alone for three months. She knew him well, not intimately, but still, very, very well.
“Chakotay,” she breathed when she turned to him, “I can’t believe you are standing here, still willing, still...wanting me, after the hell I put you through for all those years.”
“I have to admit,” Chakotay rasped, barely able to speak now that he was actually in her bedroom, staring into her desire drenched eyes, wanting him, needing him. “I have to admit,” he tried again, “there were times...when I had given up hope of ever holding you, afraid to let myself want you...need you.”
She saw his eyes mist over.
He had to get this said, had to clear away the one impediment that could mar their happiness. “I’m sorry...for hurting you.” he said hesitantly. “I know I have been unfaithful.”
“How could you be unfaithful? We had never pledged ourselves to each other,” stated Janeway, a little confused.
“Didn’t we?” he said sadly. “Didn’t we pledge ourselves to one another every time we spurned potential lovers; every time we retired to our separate beds and dreamed, fantasized about each other; and of course there was that back rub accompanied by my ‘ancient’ legend; and let’s not forget the day you told me you couldn’t imagine a day without me. Isn’t that a pledge of sorts?”
“Yes,” she admitted in a whisper. “You felt that, too” It was not a question. She could not deny that she did feel pledged to him, did feel betrayed. It had plunged her into depression and finally into therapy.
“You had every right to move on...to try to find happiness,” she assured him bravely, forgiving him...and herself. “God knows,” Janeway acknowledged regretfully, “there was no joy in what I was putting you through.”
“Kathryn,” Chakotay choked out, going down on one knee, “I love you. I have loved you for seven years. I want to be the man in you life, in your dreams, the man in your bed. Marry me?” He didn’t mean for that to come out as a question.
“Marry me,” he repeated forcefully. “Marry me today! Spend the rest of your life with me. Say yes! Say yes, now!” He was not going to allow this moment to pass without a full commitment from her. He wanted... needed her to assure him that she would be his, totally and forever. Nothing less would satisfy him now.
“Chakotay,” she laughed, joining him on her knees. “Yes, I will marry you. But not today, not even tomorrow.”
He drew back, groaning. She was going to make him wait...again.
“I want to invite Voyager’s crew to the wedding. After all, they spent an awful lot of time and energy, not to mention replicator rations, trying to get us together. It only seems fair they should join in our happiness.”
Chakotay’s smile lit up the room. He rose up, bringing her with him, laughing and kissing her, reveling in the knowledge that she was his.
“I love you, Kathryn Janeway.” he said when he finally set her down.
“Chakotay, I have loved you for so long, it feels sinful to be able to touch you, to tell you.”
Chakotay pulled her small body to him. He was trembling uncontrollably now. He carefully pulled the small, thin straps of her dress down her arms, baring her breast to him. God, he thought to himself, she’s not wearing any underwear; his burgeoning erection throbbed with that knowledge.
She let the dress slip softly to the floor. She unbuttoned his shirt,
pushing it off his shoulders as he stood mesmerized by her nakedness. Janeway could feel his heart pounding as she caressed his smooth, hairless chest, his silken skin stretched taught over iron hard muscles, rippling in anticipation. She reached for the clasp of his pants. Chakotay grimaced at her feather light touch as she carefully lowered the zipper, allowing the lose chinos to fall to the floor, revealing a thin line of hair starting at his navel disappearing down into his shorts which did little to hide his growing erection. He watched her face as she unhooked and lowered his white cotton boxers.
Janeway’s breath caught in her chest. He was like some Adonis, big, strong and unbelievably beautiful. A slow smile spread across her face. She looked up into Chakotay’s eyes. He could see her delight at the sight of his body.
Picking her up effortlessly, he carried her to the bed, setting her down gently and as he lay down beside her. Bodies pressed together, they kissed passionately. Chakotay suddenly seemed like a man possessed. He had wanted their first time to be seductive, sensual, but he could not control his overwhelming need to be one with her.
There would be time, he capitulated, a life time for gentleness. He needed her desperately, he needed her now.
She felt his strong fingers make their way down her body, teasing her open, causing her to arch up into his touch, begging him to thrust his strong fingers inside her, to rub the swollen bud aching with need.
Chakotay plunged two fingers deep inside. She was wet, more than ready for him. He ached to be inside her. His entire body was quivering in anticipation of penetration. He could not hold back anymore. “Tell me, Kathryn...” he gasped, “tell me you want me, now!” he begged.
Janeway was more than pleased he felt such urgency. Her need was no less than his. She wanted to feel him inside her, filling her, thrusting into her. “I want you, I want you now. I want you inside me, surrounding me, I want...” she could find no words to convey what she wanted. Words were inadequate to express what she felt when she was in his arms. “I want you with me, by my side forever.”
Rolling her on her back, he covered her small body with his own. Slowly at first, he pushed himself into her, groaning at the warmth and velvet tightness that encompassed him. Tears sprang to his eyes. He was utterly astonished at the depth of the love he was feeling, as if it had been carefully stored in vast reservoir of his soul, and now unfettered, was allowed to soar, overwhelming him, humbling him, driving him swiftly and inexorably to thrust deep and hard, to fill a need that had for too long been denied.
Kathryn thought she would die of pleasure. She had never experienced desire, lust like this before. She had always been indifferent to sex: felt it was good exercise, but was not really sure what all the fuss was about.
Sex with Chakotay was mind blowing. She thrust her hips toward him, pulled her to him, willing him, forcing him deeper and deeper, using her body to alternately hasten and delay his orgasm. She wanted to feel him fill her with his seed, but joining with him was ecstasy, she wanted it to never end. She finally felt her body building to climax, gave up any control, allowing her body to soar with his, her orgasm rolling over her as she panted his name over and over.
Suddenly he lost all rhythm and thrust himself mightily into her swollen, hot, pulsing tissues; groaning her name and sobbing his love as he poured himself into her, releasing his soul to join hers forever.
Legs twined together, still holding each other tenderly, they fell into a deep, unencumbered sleep.
Chakotay awoke first. It was heaven to wake with her nestled against him. Life with her was all he ever wanted, all he had ever been able to envision ever since the first moment he met her. Only now did he realize he never even considered a future without her in it, it was unthinkable then, impossible now. He knew, more than anyone, that she was stubborn, willful, strong; life with her would never be boring. He looked down at her as her head rested on his chest. He felt such contentment as he studied her face; his beautiful, complicated, unpredictable Kathryn.