Series: Star Trek: Voyager
The aftermath of Captain Janeway being on Quarra requires adjustments for her and for Commander Chakotay.
I receive no money from this. The series is Paramount's. The story is mine.
"Captain on the bridge!"
Chakotay watched as his captain took her chair, eyes red-rimmed, face pale and drawn. Knowing that Jaffen's recent transport off Voyager meant that she had just said goodbye, he fought conflicting emotions within himself. Great relief that the Quarran worker wouldn't be staying struggled with compassion for her, as it was obvious she was experiencing sorrow. Each time he had observed her in distress over a mistake or tragedy before, it had never seemed to be so personal
The bridge crew was subdued. Many were no doubt battling their own private grief, but Chakotay was sure that most were wondering how the captain would react to the near defeat of what had been her prime goal for nearly seven years and to the loss of someone who had become dear to her.
He had to say something, if only for the sake of the crew, so Chakotay gently asked, "Ready to go?"
"It may not have been real, Chakotay, but it felt like home. If you hadn't come after me I never would've known that I had another life." Her voice was rough and raw from crying.
Guilt wrenched his gut. "Are you sorry I showed up?"
"Not for a second."
Relief shot through Chakotay. A lump caught in his throat while at the same time, he felt like saying, "Kathryn, you're lying! I can see that you're dying inside." But he only smiled slightly and waited for her orders.
Kathryn faced forward, settling into her role as captain, "Resume course, Mr. Paris."
"Aye, sir." Tom's acknowledgement of the order was almost cheeky, as if he wanted to bring Kathryn back to the present.
Chakotay quickly glanced to his left and saw no sign that she had even heard the pilot's response. That was when he really started to worry about how she was going to handle this latest Delta Quadrant salvo.
As the days passed, Chakotay's concern grew because, although Captain Janeway didn't stay hidden away in her quarters as she had when they traveled through the void, she seemed to lack her usual vitality and spark. Grief could do that to a person as he knew full well, and he longed to help her through it as he had once promised. Making her burden lighter became another of his many tasks.
The crew also needed help to come to terms with what happened to them on Quarra. Fortunately, only a few others had begun relationships with workers who were left behind. However, Chakotay spent many off-duty hours talking to crewmembers, listening to the pain their experience had caused. Even after enlisting the aid of Neelix, and occasionally Tom and B'Elanna, he wasn't able to find time for much sleep because he was taking on part of Kathryn's work as well.
After several weeks, the crew stopped calling on Chakotay as often. He was happy to see that most were putting the experience behind them, but concern about Kathryn still drove him. He even assigned himself to double shifts, thinking he could better keep on top of things that way, keeping trivial matters from making their way to the captain until he thought she was ready.
At about 2300 hours Chakotay replicated a bowl of thick lentil and vegetable soup, a peanut butter sandwich, and some tea for a late evening meal. As he prepared to read through the latest engineering diagnostics, he heard his comm badge chirp. "Janeway to Commander Chakotay."
"Chakotay, here, Captain." The surprise was apparent in his voice. He hadn't received a call from Kathryn after hours since before Quarra.
"Where are you?" She sounded as if she knew already.
"In my office," he said simply. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"No, but you are working too hard." Her tone was light as she said, "Please join me in my quarters."
"Alright, will fifteen minutes be okay?"
He heard her faint sigh before she said, "Now, Chakotay! I'll review that engineering report in the morning."
Chakotay quickly made his way to the Captain's cabin on deck three, wondering if she was going to call him on the carpet for trying to shelter her from her work. Stopping in front of her door, he straightened his uniform before he pushed the chime.
Chakotay heard a muffled "enter" and the door opened. He crossed the threshold to find her quarters dark. After the soft swoosh sounded behind him, the only illumination was from the ambient lights around the portals. Not moving farther inside, he quickly scanned the room. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he could see Kathryn's profile as she stood looking out at the sky.
"Lights to 50%," she quietly commanded. "I'm sorry, Chakotay. The stars seem closer when the lights are off." There was a far-away quality to her voice, when Kathryn spoke again. "The stars never seemed right back on Quarra. I remember thinking several times on my way home from the plant that the stars looked different somehow. Now I know it was becuase they didn't move by like this." She indicated the brilliant streaks of lights outside the ship with the sweep of her hand.
After a few seconds of silence, Kathryn shook her head quickly and said apologetically, "Chakotay, I'm so sorry. Please sit down and I'll get us something to eat." Before he could speak, she held up her hand. "It's okay Chakotay, I'll just order soup and maybe a sandwich. I'm sure I kept you from eating something like that when I called you here."
While Kathryn busied herself at the replicator, Chakotay tried to relax. He was puzzled by her mood. Having been prepared for a reprimand, he was baffled by the pensive but good-humored woman who was getting food for them both. He waited for the proverbial other shoe to drop.
There was a slight smile on Kathryn's face as she put the tray laden with their meal on the table in front of Chakotay. Settling down on couch beside him, she picked up a bowl and began to eat.
Since he couldn't think of a thing to say, Chakotay lifted the other dish of steaming soup and began to eat. The ensuing silence was so companionable that he actually began to unwind.
When her meal was nearly finished, Kathryn returned the bowl to the table and took her cup into her hands. Turning to face Chakotay, she tucked her foot underneath herself as she sipped her coffee. "Thank you, Chakotay."
"Kathryn?" Her statement of gratitude surprised him.
Reaching out her hand, she touched his shoulder. "Thank you for what you've been doing since we left Quarra." She chuckled softly when she saw his look of shock. "Okay, I didn't know right away. But I have for the last two weeks." She held up her hand again to keep him from speaking. "I'm sorry I didn't talk to you sooner. I needed to sort this out, and it was wonderful how you allowed me to."
Chakotay shrugged and tried to smile. He couldn't tell her how much her plight had hurt him. His voice would betray him, and protocols would be violated.
"Since you're my closest friend on this ship - or anywhere else, truth be told - I'd like to talk to you about what happened back on Quarra. But I'm not going to force it on you. I happened to have it on good authority you've heard many tales of what happened there." She looked him straight in the eye, as if searching for any reluctance on his part.
Somehow the fact that she had been aware of what was going on aboard Voyager, even while she was working through her pain, encouraged him. Chakotay could see that his dear friend was back, so he met her gaze, leaning back against the couch and with a nod said, "I'm listening."
Kathryn let out the breath she had been holding. She closed her eyes for moment as she collected her thoughts. Beginning with her first memories of Quarra, she said, "I remember standing in line, waiting for my work assignment. I had these vague recollections of traveling a great distance to Quarra and of my life on Earth. There were times when I would have a glimpse of a memory, but when I tried to recall it, it was already gone."
Kathryn paused and looked around the room. "I'm almost sure that one night I saw my quarters in a dream. I was seated on the couch and someone was near me, someone I enjoyed being with, but when I tried to see his face, I awoke very disappointed. When I tried to tell Jaffen, he told me dreams didn't mean a thing. Sitting here now, I'm certain that you were in that dream."
Chakotay watched her intently as she pushed her hair back from her face, before she spoke again. He wasn't sure what to make of what she was telling him, having expected to hear more about her grief at leaving Jaffen behind. He gently asked, "Do you want to talk about Jaffen? Leaving him behind must be very hard on you."
"I was getting to that," Kathryn said softly. "Yes, I was emotional when he left, but to be honest, I realize I could have asked him to stay, but I didn't. He recited some protocol that really didn't matter. Or it wouldn't have if I had truly wanted him to stay. I used it as an excuse." She noted Chakotay's startled look. "I'm sure you thought that I spent these last several weeks mourning, and in a way I have. Jaffen is a wonderful man, and if you hadn't rescued me from the Quarran mind control, I would have been content and comfortable with my life."
Again she stared out of the window. "Jaffen once asked me if I was comfortable with him. I thought about it. I finally told him I had never been more so in my life." Kathryn shook her head. "But right then I knew I was lying, even though I couldn't dredge up the truth. That night I even reached out to touch Jaffen like this." Kathryn traced Chakotay's tattoo with one hand.
Gasping in surprise and with the sudden desire her movement evoked, Chakotay tenderly took her hand. "What are you trying to say, Kathryn?"
"I'm trying to say," she moved closer as she spoke, "that the whole time I was with Jaffen, I really wanted to be with you. My mind didn't remember, but my heart did. Everything I did with him, I have wanted to do with you. Chakotay, is it too late for us?" she pleaded.
"What about the protocols?"
"I nearly lost you to a fake world. If you hadn't come for me, I would never have known how false it was." She shuddered for a moment. "Thank you for doing what you did. For the last few weeks, I have battled with my Starfleet scruples to the point that I even read all the relevant legal documents." Sliding her hand through his arm, she leaned against him as she continued. "There are no regulations or protocols that fit our situation." Kathryn tilted her head up to look into Chakotay's face. "And you didn't answer me."
Raw emotions played across his handsome features. Chakotay couldn't prevent Kathryn from seeing what had been stirred up in him by her revelation. He wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and to lose himself in her embrace, but caution and restraint had become his constant companion. He loved her, but could he take the chance and offer his love to her, only to have to deny it later as had happened when they returned to Voyager from New Earth? But as he searched her face, he saw only open adoration and hope. Was his dearest dream about to come true?
"Are you asking me if I still love you?"
Swallowing the large lump of fear that had formed in her throat, Kathryn nodded and whispered, "Yes, do you still love me or did I wait too long to come to my senses?"
Chakotay couldn't stand to see the worry in her eyes. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tightly against his chest. "I love you, Kathryn Janeway. I thought I'd lost you forever to Jaffen."
Kathryn sighed as she nestled in his embrace. "Jaffen was a wonderful man but he wasn't you. Oh Chakotay, I love you so." She moved back to fist her hands in his hair, drawing his head down to kiss him.
Chakotay crushed his mouth against hers, the yearning of seven years making itself manifest in the action. As he realized that he might be hurting her, he eased his assault on her mouth.
Kathryn murmured words of love as she started to nibble her way down his jaw line to his neck. When she began to work his jacket open, he gently gripped her shoulders and put her away from him.
His sudden move shocked Kathryn out of the haze of longing she had been swept away upon. Tears welled in her eyes as she asked with consternation, "Why?"
Taking several deep breaths first, Chakotay wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Kathryn, will you marry me?"
She blinked several times, unsure that she heard correctly. However she knew what she wanted. "Yes, I will."
Chakotay kissed her firmly and stood up. "Wait right here. I have to do something." And with that he left her sitting on the couch, stunned.
Ensign Harry Kim yawned as he reached for his second cup of coffee. He was seated at a mess hall table with Tom and B'Elanna, Chell, Megan Delaney, and several other members of the crew. "I tell you it was just plain weird. I'm sound asleep when I get a call from Commander Chakotay to report immediately to Holodeck two. He called the whole senior staff."
"Yeah. he called us too, but we hadn't gotten to sleep yet." Tom grinned at his wife. "It was only half past midnight."
"That's kind of late for a staff meeting," Chell interrupted. "I know the it must have been important if they..."
Harry cleared his throat and shook his head before he continued his tale. "When I got there, Tuvok and Seven were there. I could tell that Seven didn't know what was happening and Tuvok wouldn't say. He said that we would all understand the purpose soon enough. He just stood there in his dress uniform. His dress uniform at 0100 hours! I didn't know what to think."
As Harry paused to take another gulp of coffee, Tom commented, "I thought the scene was really funny when we arrived. Tuvok was standing straight in full dress uniform and looking official and very Vulcan. Harry and the doc were whispering to each other. Seven was trying hard not to look like she was interested in that conversation."
Megan and the others chuckled at Paris' comment.
More than a little frustrated, Harry interrupted, "Seven was interested and had made a few observations herself before you two arrived." Having defended the ex-borg in this way, he returned to his story, "Anyway, as I was trying to say..." He gave Tom an impatient glance. "One by one, the senior staff arrived until only Neelix, the commander and the captain were missing."
"I was listening to the doctor's theory on what was up, when I heard the doors open. I turned expecting to see them when a very sleepy Naomi and Sam walked in followed by Neelix carrying an armload of flowers." Harry paused, thoroughly enjoying the fact that more people were crowding around the table, intently listening to his tale. "Neelix was handing bouquets to Naomi and Sam when Captain Janeway and Chakotay arrived in their dress uniforms!"
"Oooh, how exciting!" Megan sighed the sigh of a romantic. "Dress uniforms, flowers, I bet I know."
Chell piped in, "How odd for a staff meeting."
Megan giggled and patted Chell's arm. She lowered her voice, "Chell, dear, it wasn't a staff meeting."
Turning her attention back to Harry again, she said, "Go on, Harry. We want to hear more."
"Yeah Harry, hurry up," Lt. Ayala was among the others who urged Harry on at the same time.
"The captain took Chakotay's hand and smiled at him before she looked around the room at the rest of us. She said, 'Commander Chakotay and I are going to be married right now. You are the closest we both have to family in this quadrant. We would like you to be witnesses.' Just like that! It turns out that Sam was the matron of honor and Naomi the flower girl. Neelix stood up with Chakotay."
Oohs and ahs echoed around the table as the news finally sunk in that the command team had gotten married.
"Harry, don't forget that she explained about how she came to her senses about protocols. Finally!" Tom added.
"Yeah, finally, they figured it out. Commander Chakotay told us that he wasn't going to wait another day to get married. He didn't want to take the chance that the captain would find some regulation and change her mind." Harry grinned. "But even a green ensign could see that there aren't any protocols that apply in their case. Personally I've always wondered what was taking them so long."
After the laughter of agreement of those around him died down, Harry stood up and called out loudly for the whole group's attention. "Listen up everyone! In case you haven't heard, there was a wedding last night. And tonight at 1900 hours there will be a reception for Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay on Holodeck one. There will be a ship wide announcement soon, but I was told I could start sharing the news."
Cheers drowned out the last of his speech and lasted for several minutes. Finally the level of noise lowered enough for Harry to finish. "Holodeck two will be reserved for the next week. I told them the crew wouldn't mind."
Again a thunderous ovation peppered with whistles rang through the mess hall. After all, the command team's honeymoon was worth a little sacrifice.