Denial

by Spiletta42

VGR C/7 J/EMH P/T


Rating: T™©


t

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Warnings: Character death, depression, tones of hopelessness.


Categories: Ship, Het, Angst


Pairings: Chakotay/Seven, Janeway/EMH, Paris/Torres


Characters: The EMH, Seven of Nine, Tom Paris, Kathryn Janeway, Chakotay


Spoilers: Endgame


A/N: Written, pretty much against my will, for the Anti J/C contest. I believe J/C is right, but here's a look at how C/7 came to be in the alternate (and thankfully erased) timeline from Endgame. My regular readers will probably find this a painful read; please don't let it ruin a perfectly good mood. Either ignore it, or save it for an appropriate time.


Disclaimer: Paramount would probably like this one. My sincere apologies to Jeri Taylor for it, though. Mr. Berman? Mr. Braga? Mr. Biller? Have any of you gentleman apologized yet?


Denial

The Doctor hadn't spent any real time with Seven since his hastily blurted confession of love. Embarrassed, he was more than willing to avoid her for the time being. She hadn't been ready for a serious relationship; she had barely coped with her experiments in the holodeck. He had to give her the space she needed now.

Still, it had been weeks, and he missed her desperately. Seven was his closest friend; he needed her companionship. He headed for the holodeck. Perhaps a few hours serving as the spiritual leader of Fair Haven would take his mind off his own loneliness.

The first person to seek his counsel was Michael Sullivan.

"It's Katie," the bartender explained. "She came to me crying today, but wouldn't tell me why. She cried so hard I thought my heart would break in two. I don't know what's the matter...what to do for her."

The Doctor sorted through the last few weeks in his matrix. What might have affected the captain that strongly? But the cause didn't have an effect on what he told Michael. "Sometimes people are sad without having a specific reason. Did you hold her, and tell her everything would be okay?"

"Yes."

"Then maybe that's exactly what she needed; what she wanted. She'll probably be just fine in a few days."

"I don't know, Father. She was so sad; in such pain. It was like her best friend had died."


Janeway was back in her darkened quarters, staring numbly into her rapidly cooling cup of coffee. Crying on Michael's shoulder hadn't helped. She couldn't tell him what was wrong. She couldn't tell anyone what was wrong.

How could she tell her boyfriend, holographic or not, that she feared she was losing the man she loved? The man she could never have? A man she shouldn't even want.

She wanted to call him into her quarters, tell him the truth at last. Tell him, finally, that she loved him; had always loved him. Beg him to forgive her for making him wait. But she knew she could never do any of that.

Especially now.

He had someone else. He had given up on her, and he was finally trying to move forward. What right did she have to stop him? He deserved a personal life. She couldn't give that to him. She wanted him to be happy.

She wanted him to be happy more than she wanted him for herself. So she didn't call him to her quarters. She didn't make her tearful confession. She didn't lay aside protocol and claim the man she loved as her own.

She let him go.


Kathryn was avoiding him. At first, he was worried. They had passed what might well have been their best chance to get home quickly since they blew up the Caretaker's array. It was bound to have an effect on her.

Yet she seemed happy enough. She was spending alot of time in the holodeck, and he knew she wouldn't be doing that if she was depressed. He had witnessed Kathryn's depression. She had sequestered herself in her quarters, and had then tried to sacrifice herself for the good of her crew.

This was different. She was avoiding him specifically and spending more time in the holodeck. Probably with Michael, he thought with a stab of jealousy.

He scolded himself. She needed someone. Michael was all she would allow herself. He couldn't very well stand in her way. He wanted her to have what happiness she could have, more than he wanted her for himself.


"Doctor, I wish to have the failsafe device removed." Seven of Nine was standing just inside the door to sickbay. "I do not wish to delay any longer."

To his horror, he had the urge to refuse her. Was she still seeing Chakotay? He had thought they had merely shared a couple of casual dates, but suddenly he was afraid.

When he didn't answer, she stepped closer. "Doctor?"

"I'm sorry, Seven. I was distracted." Well she'd certainly believe that; he was a computer program. He shouldn't get distracted. "I can work that into my schedule. Sometime later this week?"

"I would like to have it done today."

"Very well, then. We might as well do it now." He pushed aside his petty concerns and got to work.

The procedure was a success. She thanked him politely and left as soon as he finished his last scan. When he checked her whereabouts with the computer his whole matrix went numb.

She was in Chakotay's quarters.


"I love you."

Seven's words sunk in slowly. She was beaming at him, radiating an emotion which surprised him. She loved him? How had that happened? It had only been a handful of meals, a game of velocity or two, a brief stroll on shore leave.

She loved him?

Their conversations had never gone beyond the surface. She couldn't love him. She didn't even know him.

Uncertainty began to show in her eyes. He knew she had never said those words before, to anyone. It had cost her to say them. "I love you too."


"Seven and I have been dating." He watched for her response. It would hurt her, but he couldn't keep it from her. She was his best friend, and he needed her advice on how to break it off before it went any further.

"Oh Chakotay, that's wonderful!" She beamed at him. "I'm so happy for you both."

He stared at her. Her acting abilities had frequently impressed him, but this...She looked genuinely happy. Not even a moment of shock, not even a glimpse of pain before she could cover it. Her face showed happiness. And something else, too. Relief?


She didn't love him. Had she ever? There had been so many times when he had been so sure that she returned his feelings; that once they reached the Alpha Quadrant she would be his.

Perhaps it had only been wishful thinking, or perhaps her feelings had changed over time. She had been spending time with Michael. Maybe she had found a way to make herself love the hologram.

But whatever the cause, it was obvious she didn't love him. She hadn't hesitated for a moment to wish him well; she hadn't even noticed his lack of happiness. She had been relieved. Relieved that he would no longer pursue her.

He cancelled his date with Seven. He had planned on breaking things off with her, but now he wasn't sure. Seven loved him, and wanted to share her life with him. Kathryn didn't. And his options on board this ship were limited. He needed to think. But first, he needed to mourn.


He had told her. She was relieved. She didn't have to keep pretending. That is, she didn't have to keep pretending that she didn't know.

She was rather proud of herself. For a few minutes, she had almost believed her own happiness. Eventually, she would adjust to the idea of Seven and Chakotay as a couple. She loved them both and they deserved to be happy.

She was proud of her protégé. Seven was finally discovering what it meant to be human. And she couldn't have found a better man to love. Chakotay would make her happy. Chakotay had all of the qualities that would make any woman happy to be with him.


Seven sat in the mess hall and tried to figure out what to do. In the past, she would have taken her problem to the Doctor. But for some reason she felt uncomfortable doing that, this time. She didn't know why. It wasn't logical.

She and Commander Chakotay had been dating for weeks. According to all she had read, they were at the point in their relationship where copulation should occur. It was an experience she wished to sample. Yet Chakotay had made no such advances. He rarely even kissed her, unless she kissed him first. Did he not find their affiliation to be satisfactory? Was he not pleased with her physical appearance?

"Lieutenant."

Susan Nicoletti paused and turned to her. "Yes, Seven?"

"I wish to know how to seduce a man." She glanced down at her plate. "Would you be willing to help me?"

Susan put her tray down. "I'll give it a try."


Chakotay headed for his quarters, glad that Alpha shift was over. He had been counting the minutes. It seemed to be all he did anymore; he counted minutes. He'd sit on the bridge, counting down until his shift ended. He'd spend the evening with Seven, counting the minutes until she had to regenerate and would finally leave him alone. He'd fall into bed for another sleepless night, counting the minutes until he could give up on sleep and get up again.

It all seemed very empty.

The door opened to reveal candlelight and music. He held back a heavy sigh and smiled at Seven. At least he could try to make her happy.

After a dinner that he had to admit was delicious, they moved over to his couch. Seven slid close to him and rested her hand on his leg. He tensed as she leaned in to kiss him.

He stopped her. "I'm sorry, but I'm feeling a little fatigued. Would you mind if we cut the evening short?"

"Certainly, Commander," she replied. "Tomorrow evening, then?"

He nodded.

She rose from the couch and was out the door moments later.

She was far from repulsive. She was one of the most desirable women he had ever met. So why did he feel this way? He tried to pretend that he didn't know the answer, but he knew that if Kathryn had touched him like that it would have been an entirely different story.

He needed more time. Seven deserved his full attention; she didn't deserve to be compared to Kathryn. If he made love to Seven, he didn't want to be picturing the captain's face.


Kathryn applied her makeup with great care. She didn't want the entire crew to notice the evidence of her recent crying jag. Chakotay was getting married. Her best friend was getting married. She should be happy for him.

Seven was a beautiful young woman, intelligent and compassionate, everything Chakotay deserved. This marriage was proof that Seven's liberation from the Collective had been a complete success. She had learned to be an individual, she had learned to love, and now she would be a bride.

The captain couldn't have been prouder if Seven had been her own daughter. She ignored the ache deep within her at the thought that she never would have a daughter, or a son, or a husband. She didn't even have her dog.

What she did have was a crew, and she loved each one of them as family. She had stranded them out here, in the Delta Quadrant, and in order to protect them, and one day get them home, she had to make sacrifices. One of those sacrifices was her personal life, and she vowed not to forget that.

Today she would marry her best friend. That was all he would ever be to her now, and the sooner she accepted it the better. He deserved to be happy, and this was the path he had chosen.


"Captain, you've been drinking." The Doctor kept his voice low as he studied her face.

"They look good together, don't they." She was watching Seven and Chakotay, smiling at each other on the dance floor.

"They do," he said. He reached out and placed his hand on her arm. He could see her hand shaking as she tried to hide her emotions. "May I have this dance, Kathryn?"

She accepted, not even commenting on his use of her given name. He held her close on the dance floor, seeing past his own pain for the first time in weeks.

The Doctor cared very deeply for his captain, and she needed a friend right now. He may have just lost the woman he loved to another man, but she had been forced to perform the ceremony as the man she loved married her own protégé. He shut out his own heartbreak and spent the rest of the evening by her side.


Chakotay watched Kathryn dance with the Doctor. He knew she'd been drinking. Now she was dancing with the Doctor as he had always wished she'd dance with him. Horrified at his reaction, Chakotay pulled his mind back to the woman in his arms. His wife, he reminded himself.

Marriage was a sacred union. He had been Seven's husband for less than two hours, and he had already been unfaithful to her in his heart. Seven deserved better than this. He vowed once again to try harder.


Kathryn woke up with a headache. She had barely noticed the pain, however, before she forgot it completely as memories of the previous day shot through her heart.

Chakotay was married.

She rolled over, trying to ignore the the fullness in her bladder. If she got up, then she'd have to start the day. And she didn't think she had the strength to start the day.

"Kathryn?"

She jumped at the sound of her own name. It was rare that anyone used it. The Doctor was standing in the doorway to her bedroom.

"I brought you a hypospray," he said. "For your headache."

She sat up and let him administer the drug, realizing for the first time that he had been by her side throughout the reception. By her side, where Chakotay had promised to stay.

Unwelcome tears sprung to her eyes, and she was powerless against them. The Doctor pulled her into his arms and stroked her back as she cried.

"I know," he kept saying. "I know how much it hurts."

And he did know, she realized. He was crying too. He loved Seven as much as she loved Chakotay.


"How's the married life, Seven?" Tom Paris asked.

Seven took the seat across from him and met his gaze. It had been a lighthearted question, but he realized now that Seven would answer seriously.

"I expected it to be different," she said. "I expected to feel his absence when he wasn't with me. I expected to feel a connection when we were together. Romance does not live up to its portrayal in fiction."

Tom studied her face, at a loss for a response. He had been skeptical about a relationship between Seven and Chakotay, but he hadn't expected Seven to be the one to be dissatisfied.

"Love isn't magic, Seven," he said. "Sometimes you have to work hard to make a relationship fulfilling."

She nodded. "You and Lieutenant Torres are happy."

"We are, but it isn't always easy." He still had no idea how to help Seven. "What do you and Chakotay enjoy doing together?"

"We consume meals. Sometimes we play velocity. If he isn't too tired we copulate."

If he isn't too tired...They were still newlyweds. "Seven, why did you marry Chakotay?"

"It was the next logical step in our relationship."

"I see," Tom said. He cursed himself for not interfering when he had the chance. "Have you spoken with the Doctor about this? He might have some advice - "

"The Doctor spends all of his social time with the captain now. He and I no longer speak about personal issues." She looked down for a moment. "I miss him."

"You should tell him that, Seven. He cares for you, and he probably misses you as well."

She nodded. "I'm on the away team this afternoon. I will speak to him this evening."


They beamed her back to the ship, but it was too late. She died in sickbay, in the arms of her husband, while the Doctor worked frantically to save her.

The captain stood against the wall, shaking with emotion, as she watched. She couldn't bear the pain of Seven's death; not after everything else. But she had to be strong.

Chakotay needed her. The Doctor needed her. The crew needed her. She had a duty to them all. And so she stood in the mess hall and gave the eulogy, standing in the same spot where she had married them.

She didn't cry during the ceremony; she had cried all of her tears the night before, in the Doctor's arms. She couldn't look at Chakotay as she spoke, nor could she look at the Doctor. She focused instead on Tom Paris, and was shocked at how freely he was crying as he watched her.

Afterwards, Chakotay held her in trembling arms as she told him how sorry she was. There was such sorrow in his eyes. She didn't know it was as much for her as it was for Seven.

"You can be with him now," the Doctor told her, weeks later.

"No," she answered. "I could never be with him now. I couldn't be with him, knowing that he was mine only because she died. I loved her, too, Doctor. I loved her too."



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Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties are Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, December 2002.