Shattered Illusions

By Jade East (
© June 2004
Rating: PG
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Award: Final Frontier Contest, July 2004 not-so-new authors (second place)
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Nightmares plague the crew. When Kathryn and Chakotay put their heads together to find a solution, illusions are shattered.

Insert standard disclaimer. I don't make money when I borrow the characters from Paramount. I just have fun and allow them to have some too.

The problem started about two weeks after they left the memorial behind. It hadn't been easy for the crew of Voyager. Most were suffering from frequent nightmares that kept them from the rest they needed. At first, the doctor prescribed the same neural suppressant as before, but without success this time. Next he tried sedatives, but the medication only seemed to heighten the occurrences of the troubling dreams.

Insomnia added to the trauma and the frazzled nerves. The previous day Chakotay had broken up three separate fights in the mess hall. He might have expected a brawl between one of his former Maquis crew and a 'fleet. However, he wouldn't have believed that the Delaney sisters would go at each other so viciously or that Tom and Harry would come so close to throwing punches at each other.

As he sat in his office, Chakotay tried to decide what could be done, short of confining the crew to quarters when they weren't on duty. He wasn't sure why he hadn't been as affected by the dreams as so many others were. At first, the nightmares plagued him, but after a few days, they stopped.

Sighing in frustration, he pushed away from his desk. At the replicator he ordered some black coffee. Slipping it slowly, he remembered that Kathryn once told him that she beat the Borg with the bitter liquid. It was too bad that it wasn't the answer to the present dilemma.

Back at his desk, Chakotay let his mind wander to thoughts of his captain and best friend. Kathryn, too, had been on edge and abrupt of late. He knew that she wasn't even getting her usual five or six hours of sleep. He often heard her restless movements next door through the walls when he was trying to fall back to sleep after one of the middle-of-the-night calls reporting a fight. He had kept those reports to himself as much as he could, figuring that since he was getting enough sleep, he could shoulder the extra worry better than she could.

"Chakotay to Captain Janeway." Finally he knew that he wasn't going to solve this out alone.

"Janeway, here." Her voice was weary.

"May I speak with you for a moment?"

"Come to my readyroom, Commander."

A few minutes later Chakotay was admitted, and he went to stand in front of her, waiting at full attention. The surface of her desk was littered with piles of PADDs and empty coffee cups.

For several moments, she seemed unaware that she was keeping him waiting. In one hand she held a PADD, and in the other, a cup. Finally Kathryn laid the PADD aside, finished her coffee, and looked up. However, her eyes didn't meet his.

"What is it, Commander?"

Chakotay studied his friend before he answered. He could see dark circles under her eyes and her skin was taut and paler than usual, just like so many others onboard.

Still not responding, Chakotay bent over and picked up the now five empty cups and carried them to the recycler. After depositing them, he turned to replicator and ordered for them both. With both mugs in hand, he made his way to her sofa and sat down, placing one of the cups on the table in front of him.

"Please join me, Kathryn." His invitation was soft and warm.

Irritated, Kathryn was about to object when she focused on his face for the first time since he came in to the room. Although he didn't look as exhausted as she felt, she could tell that he had something serious on his mind. Knowing that there was nothing urgent on her desk, she decided to take a break.

When she sat down on the couch, Kathryn reached for the mug closest to her and sipped its contents. "My favorite broth!" she exclaimed delightedly. Relaxing against the back of the sofa, she took several more swallows. The liquid soothed as it went down and in a few moments, the captain felt almost as refreshed as if she had taken a nap.

"Thank you, Chakotay."

Encouraged by her use of his name instead of his rank, he replied, "You're welcome, Kathryn. I had a feeling that we both could use a break. It's been rough on us all these last few weeks. I think morale is on a downward spiral and something needs to be done quickly. " Chakotay told her a little of what was happening on the ship.

Kathryn rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn. "I knew that I was having trouble sleeping, but I wasn't aware it was so wide spread."

Chakotay began to fill her in more on what he had observed, telling her things that she wouldn't have had a chance to notice. He ended with the incident with Tom and Harry.

After taking the last swallow from her cup, Kathryn put it on the table. "I agree something does need to be done. Call a senior staff meeting in an hour." She yawned sleepily.

"I hope that wasn't a comment on staff meetings in general." Chakotay chuckled.

She laughed for what seemed to her like the first time in ages. Kathryn rested her hand on his shoulder, squeezed it, and stood. "I have some work to do and thanks to you, I feel like I have the energy to do it. I'll see you in an hour."

One by one, the staff filled the conference room. Neelix was the last to arrive. He scuffled in and dropped unceremoniously into a vacant chair.

Everyone but Tuvok and Seven had a disheveled look. Tuvok's clothes were immaculate, but he seemed more stiff and distant than usual. It was hard to tell how Seven was managing since she was usually more stoic than Tuvok most of the time.

Captain Janeway decided not to stand, being simply too tired to make the effort. "I asked Commander Chakotay to summon you here to work on a solution to our problem." It was a testament to the severity of the situation that no one needed an explanation.

Kathryn looked from one face to another, each drawn and etched with weariness. Her heart ached to help them find relief. "I have confidence that if we work together we can come up with an answer."

Turning to Chakotay, she asked, "Commander, has everyone been having problems with sleep?"

Chakotay was about to tell her that he hadn't when Neelix interrupted, "Captain, I've noticed a few people who don't seemed to be affected or have gotten over it quickly. Samantha Wildman comes to mind."

Ensign Wildman was summoned and arrived quickly. Standing at attention, she looked worriedly around the room.

"At ease, Sam," Janeway said warmly. "I just have a question for you. Neelix observed that you aren't having trouble dealing with the dreams and lack of sleep like the others. We wondered what you did to get past it, or if you weren't affected."

Relaxing a bit, Sam thought for a moment before she answered. "I was affected, Captain. The first few nights I didn't sleep more than a couple hours. And I was so grouchy that poor Naomi was afraid to say or do anything. After I scolded her for the third time in one evening, I realized that I needed to think about her first. I planned a trip to the holodeck and replicated her favorite foods for a picnic."

She smiled as she remembered the day. "That night I slept straight through without interruption, and I haven't had a nightmare since."

"Thank you, Sam. You're dismissed."

The senior staff began to share other observations about those that didn't seem to still be affected. All of the crew members in question had gone out of their way help others with their troubles. The staff hypothesized that must be the solution.

A scan of the surrounding area of space showed no place for the crew to take shore leave, so the holodecks had to be used. After a great deal of discussion, the staff decided to run the popular resort program in holodeck one, and to keep holodeck two available for those who favored other climates and scenarios.

At first, some were skeptical that a plan to put someone else's needs before their own would make a difference, but the ship-wide order to choose someone to help made it clear that there was no alternative. Even the few who were not having trouble sleeping were told to plan something.

The schedule was easier to arrange for those who were already in relationships. Other crewmembers asked to be paired with friends. Neelix was eager to give Sam and Naomi a special party. Seven asked if she would be allowed a more private venue for her deed of selflessness.

Captain Janeway and Chakotay spent several hours working through the logistics of the holodeck shore leave. The resort made things easy because there were many things to do. Only the more popular of those activities caused scheduling problems.

Chakotay saw results soon after the first group spent their allotted time on the holodeck. Tom was back to ribbing Harry and Tuvok on the bridge. Tuvok was as jovial as a Vulcan could be and took the teasing with his usual calm indifference. Harry blushed and grinned at even a mention of Seven of Nine.

Even the captain smiled as she watched the interchanges on the bridge. Leaning toward Chakotay, she said softly, "This experiment seems to be working well."

Chakotay grinned. "Even better than I thought it would."

Kathryn patted his arm before she said, "Join me in my readyroom, Commander."

After handing off the bridge to Tuvok, Chakotay followed her. He found her at the replicator. Picking up the cups that appeared,

She walked the raised area and sat on the sofa. "Please come, sit down, Chakotay. Have some coffee."

After settling down, Chakotay reached for the cup she had placed in front of him. He drank from it and smiled. "This is delicious. Is it some kind of chocolate?"

"I think it's called mocha, chocolate and coffee. What could be better? I found the recipe when I was trying to plan our holodeck time." Kathryn took a swallow and set the cup on the table. "I've looked at several places in the program, but finally decided that you should be the one to choose where we have dinner tomorrow."

Chakotay gave her a look that said, "Are you sure?" After she nodded, he replied, "I've been going over what's available and made a few adjustments to one of Tom's places. There is a small café about a kilometer down the beach from the main resort."

"Then that's where we will go." Kathryn declared, feeling more cheerful than she had in a long time.

The walk to the café was lovely. Earlier, Chakotay took Kathryn's hand to help her over some rocks on their way to the beach and had neglected to let it go after they arrived on the sand. Neither of them felt any need to hurry the night along so they strolled hand in hand, talking about nothing of consequence, taking pleasure in one another's companionship.

When they arrived at the small building, Kathryn could see that it was different from the rest of the resort program. "Tom didn't include this in his program, did he?"

"Well," Chakotay confessed, "I told you I changed a few things. Tom's version was, um, how should I put it?" He scratched his head while he searched for the right word. "It was a dive, with half clad hula dancers. I made a few changes in his original." He opened the door and waited for her to go in.

"Señor Chakotay, welcome our humble cantina!" A short, round man with dark skin and wide smile greeted them. If it were possible, he smiled even wider as he turned his pleasant salutation on Kathryn. "Señorita Kathryn, isn't it? Mi amigo told me that you would be coming. Thank you for choosing to dine with us tonight." Taking her hand in his, he bent over and kissed it.

"Kathryn, this is Antony, the owner of this gem. He is full-blooded Mayan, and has been a friend of my father for years." Chakotay lowered his voice as if to keep others from hearing, "Tio Tony, please promise me that you won't turn your charms on Señorita Kathryn. I'm not sure I can compete with you."

The older man only smiled as he offered his arm to Kathryn. Antony guided them to a small table, set with a bottle of chilling wine, tall glasses, and two long, tapered candles. He lit the candles and poured the drinks. After promising them a meal that would surpass any they had ever eaten, the café owner bowed and left them alone.

As the evening progressed and the meal was served, the pair talked and laughed, completely at ease with each other. When the waiter finally brought the coffee and dessert, Kathryn was pleased to see caramel brownies. "I don't think that caramel brownies are Mayan."

Chakotay chuckled as he picked one from the plate. "The chocolate is."

"A perfect evening, Chakotay." She reached out to touch his free hand. "I'm glad I left program choice to you."

"Save your assessment until after we dance." He grinned as he finished the brownie.

A few minutes later, they could hear music and spied a trio of musicians in the far corner. As if on cue, Antony appeared at the table. "I hope you enjoyed your meal, señor and señorita."

"It was all that you claimed it would be, Señor Antony." Kathryn smiled.

Antony nodded toward the small band, "Mi amigos would like you to dance to their music. They will play well for the señorita." He winked. "Something slow and romantic, I think."

"Shall we?" Chakotay stood and offered his hand to Kathryn to guide her to the tiny dance floor.

The wooden floor was small, but since they were the only dancers, it was the perfect size. Chakotay opened his arms to her.

Kathryn stepped closer and put one hand on his shoulder and the other one in his. The music began and swelled around the couple, compelling them to follow its rhythm.

Slowly as they danced, Chakotay pulled her closer, savoring the sensation of swaying to the song with Kathryn in his embrace.

They didn't say much as both seemed reluctant to break the spell woven by the music. For a while Kathryn fought the urge to lean her head on his shoulder, but finally with a whisper of a sigh, she moved even closer.

His heartbeat quickened as Kathryn pressed closer. Chakotay tucked their clasped hands to his chest and his other arm tightened around her waist. He rested his cheek against her hair and lost himself in its feminine fragrance.

How right it felt to be wrapped in Chakotay's arms! Kathryn wanted to lift her face for a kiss. Desire flowed though her and caused her to sigh again. When she felt him respond by lightly kissing her hair, she lost the battle. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she lifted her face and pulled his head down.

Nothing else existed at that moment. There was no dance; there was no club; and no holodeck. To Chakotay, it was only Kathryn and her soft mouth on his. As if a dam had broken, a river of desire long denied flowed out. He began to kiss her jaw, tracing a path down to her neck. His one thought was to lose himself in her.

Closing her eyes at his onslaught, Kathryn held on tight, fearing she wouldn't have the strength to stay on her feet. But soon, just holding on wasn't enough and she began to return his caresses with added urgency. Fisting her hands in his hair, she met him kiss for kiss.

Then from somewhere in her longing clouded mind, an old refrain sounded. "Protocol" was its mantra and admonition. How did she allow this to happen? Kathryn pushed away from Chakotay. "I'm sorry. I don't know what got into me," she choked out.

Confusion and frustration warred within him. "Kathryn, what's wrong?" He tried to pull her back into his arms to recapture the mood.

Kathryn twisted away, her face red with embarrassment and humiliation. "How can you ask me that?" She made a sweeping gesture around the room. "All of this is an illusion. We have to go back to commanding this ship when we leave this program. There are still regulations against us being together."

The look of naked pain in Chakotay's eyes was more than Kathryn could stand. Turning, she ran out of the café and down the beach before he could react.

Chakotay stood as if glued to the spot, without hope for the first time since he had first seen Captain Janeway. He hadn't expected this evening to develop as it had. Enjoying being alone with Kathryn and helping her get over the nightmares had been his only goal. How stupid could he be? She would never trust him again. Now he would never be able to show her how much he loved her.

"Amigo." The old Mayan spoke softly. "I think you should go after the señorita."

Although he felt stupid for discussing the situation with a holo-character, Chakotay said sadly, "It's no use. I messed things up."

"Do you love her?"

"Yes, hopelessly."

Antony put his hand on Chakotay's shoulder. "As long as there is love, there is always hope. Go!"

Chakotay walked slowly in the direction Kathryn had gone. Years of practice made it easy to put her needs first even now. He was certain that she would want to get back to her quarters and bury herself in work. The very thought of sitting next to her on the bridge pained him. How could he bear it after having held her and kissed her? Somehow he would have to for her sake.

Following Kathryn's footprints, Chakotay was relieved to find her sitting on a log, staring out at the water. He stood a short distance away for a while, unsure of what to do. She looked dejected, her shoulders drooped, and her hands clasped tightly in front of her.

Kathryn knew the exact moment Chakotay found her. Willing the tears back, she held her hands together so tightly that they were white. Crying wouldn't change a thing and she had to get her emotions under control. Captain Janeway needed to be in charge. How could she have forgotten who she was and her duty?

The reply that echoed in her mind surprised her. "I love him." Joy and fear raged against each other. It couldn't be. She refused to ponder the thought. Kathryn stood quickly, her posture mirroring her firm resolve.

Kathryn's sudden movement startled Chakotay. He took a step toward her. "Kathryn, I'm sorry. I didn't plan for that to happen."

"I know," she replied softly. "I need some time alone."

Chakotay reached her side and grabbed her arm. "Please, let's talk about this." He would have said more, but the cold, distant look in her eyes made him relax his grip and let her walk back alone. Knowing that he couldn't face even a holo-character at the moment, he sat down on the log.

Chakotay tried hard to keep from thinking about the moment he had shared with Kathryn, but he decided that since it would be the only such experience he would ever have, he surrendered to it, hoping to store the memory forever in his heart.

Kathryn walked down the beach toward the resort, thinking she would go to her quarters after the short walk. However, as she started up the patio steps, the sound of voices floated out to her. She saw Harry playing kal-toh with Seven in a quiet corner while several others took part in a boisterous limbo competition in the main room.

The sight of her crew enjoying themselves reminded her that holodeck time was precious, the program refreshing, and her quarters not nearly so appealing. Kathryn decided to sit on the steps for a while and do her thinking there.

Sighing, Kathryn sat down out of sight of those in the main room. What had happened to the evening that had started so wonderfully? She had never let her guard down as much as she had tonight. Even when they had been literally the only two people on New Earth, she hadn't given in.

She tried to wrap herself again in the code of conduct that had been like a second skin for almost seven years, but "I love him" echoed on the heels of every thought of regulation and protocol. Why did that simple acknowledgement have so much power?

As she closed her eyes against the conflict of emotions that rolled over her, Kathryn relived the moments she had shared with Chakotay. She had felt so safe and so alive with in his arms and with his lips on hers. How long had she loved him? Despite the cautionary warning of her captain's conscience, she examined the love that she had finally acknowledged to herself.

Kathryn had found him attractive from the moment she first saw him. But she had been engaged and knew that mere appeal to the senses didn't mean love. Trust, admiration, and friendship had come first, followed by a deep dependence on his wisdom and insight. Pinning down an exact time wasn't possible, just as denying her love for Chakotay was impossible.

Kathryn put her elbows on her knees and rested her chin on her clasped hands. She stared out at the holographic sea, being reminded of the Pacific Ocean south of Starfleet headquarters. For years her consuming passion had been getting home, and seeing the sand and water of Earth again. But as she thought of home, she realized that Voyager had become home, and though she still missed her mom and her sister, the crew had become more than just the crew. They had become family.

As she pondered a return to the alpha quadrant, she didn't feel the longing she once had. Mostly, she feared the separation from this family and the loss of her ship. Kathryn didn't want to get back only to find that she had lost more than she gained.

Through the seven years of their journey, she had stretched and even broken many of the rules and regulations that she had sworn to uphold because of this family, because of Voyager. Yet she had denied herself and the one she loved an opportunity to live and be everything a family could be because of misplaced adherence to certain rules.

Kathryn took in a deep breath and exhaled. She had been honest with herself for the first time in ages. She felt free and cleansed. With purpose and determination, she stood and began to walk back toward where she had left Chakotay.

As she approached him, she hesitated. The soft moonlight showed his dejected form. His back was bowed and his face was in his hands. Her heart smote her for causing him pain.

When Kathryn gasped at the almost physical ache, he looked up. Chakotay stood and took a step toward her, his face filled with naked joy. Then almost as quickly, he stopped and an impassive mask fell over his features. His voice was even when he spoke. "I didn't expect to see you again tonight. I thought you would've gone to your quarters.'

Kathryn cleared her voice, swallowing the lump of emotion that had risen in her throat. "I couldn't leave the resort. It was too lovely here. So I sat on the steps for a while."

He nodded, "If you're ready now, I'll walk back with you."

As he started to walk past her toward the resort, Kathryn reached out to touch his arm. "No, Chakotay, I would like to talk now."

"What is there to talk about?" he asked sharply. "First of all we are in a command structure. Secondly, Protocols forbid it." Chakotay used his fingers to count off each point.

When he paused as if searching for another reason, Kathryn whispered softly, "I love you."

"A relationship would interfere with our duties on Voyager," Chakotay continued, not having heard what she said.

As he opened his mouth to speak again, she moved closer and put her fingers to his lips. Kathryn put her hands on his chest. "I love you, Chakotay."

Being rendered speechless by her words, Chakotay blinked hard, searching her face for affirmation. He found it as Kathryn looked up at him with an open smile that spoke volumes to his heart.

When Kathryn saw the hope and love mirrored back, she lifted her mouth for his kiss. Her eyes closed as Chakotay wrapped her close in his arms and touched her lips with his. At first, his caress was tenuous and soft, but as he felt her responding, his passion, only dampened earlier, burst into brilliant flame.

When the last of her captain's principles raised their heads, Kathryn ignored the nagging as she returned Chakotay's fervor with passion of her own.

Chakotay lifted his head and said breathlessly, "I must be dreaming."

"Then I'm sharing it and don't want to wake up." Kathryn tightened her arms around his waist, putting her cheek against his chest. "But we are awake." She emphasized her statement with a kiss to his chest.

Pulling back slightly, Chakotay lifted her chin so that he could look into her face. "I love you. In case, there was any doubt."

Kathryn beamed at him as she allowed herself to revel in the knowledge of his love for her. The only negative emotion she felt was regret for waiting so long, but even that didn't dampen her joy.

"Why now, Kathryn?" His tone was serious but not accusitory.

Sighing and hugging him tightly, she didn't speak for a few seconds. When Kathryn lifted her face again, her eyes were bright with unshed tears. "It's hard to explain, but I finally came to my senses. I realized that the protocols were actually the illusions." She lowered her lashes as she said, huskily, "I'll make it up to you. I can promise you that."

Chakotay smiled, dimples in full view. "I'll hold you to it."


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