Categories: Ship, Het, Angst
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
A/N: Written for Captain Crystal's Goodbye contest.
Credits: Thanks to Kim for the beta.
Paramount, I beseech thee . . . No? Your fault then.
"Commander, not now," Janeway snapped without looking up from the PADD in her hand.
"Well, no wonder," Tom Paris said.
"What?" She looked up. "Is there something I can do for you, Tom?"
"I was going to ask you what you had said to Chakotay to make him want to leave the ship, but if that's how you greet him when he enters a room then I guess I don't have to wonder."
"Leave the ship?" Her eyes returned to the PADD. "Chakotay doesn't want to leave the ship."
"Yes, Captain, he does. He's in his quarters packing right now."
"I'm afraid not. You'd better go talk to him."
She looked Tom in the eye. "Chakotay would never leave this crew. We need him and he knows that."
Tom snorted. "You need him, you mean. You think he would never leave you. But you're wrong, because he's leaving."
"I don't know what rumor - "
"It isn't a rumor. He told me himself. B'Elanna too."
"He certainly wouldn't leave without talking to me." Her eyes returned to the PADD once again.
"He said he didn't want you to talk him out of it. He said if he had to see the look on your face he couldn't do it. He said that he will miss you every day for the rest of his life, but that he can't wait forever for a future that may never be."
The captain slowly raised her eyes to stare at the pilot, visibly shaken at last.
"Go to him. You can stop him." Tom rested both hands on her desk and leaned closer. "But Captain, don't stop him if you aren't willing to let him love you. A man can only take so much heartache before he just can't feel anything anymore."
Chakotay leaving the ship; leaving her. It was impossible. There was no one on board she trusted more; no one in her life she trusted more. He was her first officer; her best friend; her lifeline. She needed him. He knew that, and he would never do anything to hurt her. It was impossible.
The thought of living without him caused a terrible ache within her. She couldn't run this ship without him, and she couldn't live without him. He was the only person on board with whom she could relax completely. She could open herself to him as to no other.
He couldn't possibly be leaving, but she couldn't take the chance. She had to see him. If it was true she could certainly stop him.
But was that fair? Like Tom said, a man could only take so much heartache. She hadn't realized that her adherence to protocol was causing him such anguish. She had thought that he understood her decision, and agreed with it, despite the longing they both lived with every day.
What if she was wrong? What if she really had hurt him deeply? The thought of having caused such pain to the man she loved hurt as badly as the thought of losing him.
She had to go talk with him. She headed for her quarters. She couldn't go to him as his captain. She had to go to him as a friend. No, that wasn't fair either. She had to go as the woman who loved him.
Chakotay had just settled down with his tea when he heard the door chime. "Come."
Kathryn entered. She wasn't in uniform, which surprised him. Last he had known, she had been in the ready room. The look on her face sent a shock of cold through him. What could scare Kathryn Janeway?
"I..." She swallowed. "I understand why, why you weren't...going to tell me."
"Kathryn, I - "
"Chakotay, please. Just let me talk. You don't...you don't owe me any...explanations." She sat down on the sofa beside him and took his hands in hers. "I never gave you reason to owe me any explanations."
Did she think he had been with someone else? The pain in her eyes cut him deeply. How to tell her how wrong she was, without crossing that line?
"What right did I have, to make you wait, without even a spoken promise?" She was crying. "What right did I have to take you for granted? I'm sorry, Chakotay."
He had never seen her cry. What did she think had happened? And why the hell was she sorry?
"This might not change anything. I have no right to expect that it will, but I can't go the rest of my life without ever having said it."
Her eyes rose to meet his, and she smiled through her tears. "I love you, Chakotay."
For years he had longed to hear those words. Yet the joy he felt at hearing them now was muted by her obvious pain. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do to ease that pain.
He pulled her into his arms, his thumb wiping the tears from her cheek. "Kathryn, tell me what's wrong."
Her eyes studied his face. She started laughing. "You don't know, do you? Oh thank God."
She clung to him, shaking with either laughter or sobs. "I knew I was right. I knew you wouldn't leave me."
"Of course not, Kathryn. Never." He stroked her back. "Why would you think that?"
"Because I'm a fool, Chakotay. I knew you weren't leaving. I knew you would never do that, to me or to this crew." She pulled back to look at him. "I trust you, Chakotay, I trust you completely. And I don't just mean as my first officer. I trust you with my heart. And I thought...I think, that you trust me with yours."
"You are my heart, Kathryn." He smiled and stroked her face tenderly. "I don't know what happened to make you think I'd even consider leaving Voyager, but I promise you that will never happen."
She smiled and her hand wandered up to slide through his hair.
He caught her hand. "What you said before, that means so very much to me. But I want you to know that I understand why things are as they are, and I don't want you to change that impulsively."
"Would you like things to change?" Her smile was almost seductive.
"They will, someday."
"I'm not talking about someday, Chakotay. I'm talking about today. Would you like things to change?"
"Yes, I would like that very much. I love you, Kathryn."
A grin spread across her face as her eyes misted over once again. "Then I think things are going to have to change, because I love you too, and now that I've said it I don't want to wait any longer."
"What about protocol, duty, the ship, the crew?"
"We'll work it out. It might not be easy but it will be worth it. At least I know we'll have some support among the crew...if I don't kill Tom, that is. Now are you ever going to kiss me?"
He kissed her.
"You did what?" B'Elanna stared at her husband. "You stupid pahtk, have you finally lost your mind?"
"I had the opportunity. I took the chance." He shrugged. "They deserve happiness."
"He'll skin you alive for pushing her, if she doesn't beat him to it."
"Not if it works. They'll forget all about me if it works."
"And if it fails?"
"Then I guess there will be some packing to be done after all. But I believe in happy endings, not big goodbyes."
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, September 2002.