Life’s Gamble

Summary:A Timeless episode addition. Another hidden message from the future changes Kathryn’s and Chakotay’s lives. Fic101 prompt 101 Ship.

Rated: PG13

 

Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.

 

 


 

 

Harry sat in the darkened mess hall staring at his computer screen. The bitter and desolate face of his future self stared back at him.

 

He’d just listened to the gut wrenching words spoken from fifteen years in his future by this familiar looking stranger, and his mind had stalled as he tried to comprehend the implications of those ominous words.

 

He, Harry Kim, had been responsible for the loss of Voyager.

 

It had been his fault, and at this time in his future self’s past, one hundred and fifty crew were dead and the ship destroyed, and all because he miscalculated the slip stream phase corrections. He shook his head as he tried to free his mind from this thought’s fevered grip. It was terrifying, and overwhelming in its impact. How one decision could so dramatically change the outcome of their actions.

 

He didn’t doubt that it had happened. The consequences were there for him to see in the harsh voice, fierce intensity and profound sadness that burned in the eyes of his older self. What a legacy to bear. It shook him to the core. He and Chakotay had been the only survivors of Voyager’s trip through the transwarp corridor. The concept set him reeling.

 

His hand shook as he hit a button on the console and he watched with sadness as his aged face faded from the screen. He reached to remove the padd, but there was something else on the recording.

 

The picture shuddered and pixelated for a moment and then cleared. There was the image of a woman whom he’d never seen before. She was seated in the ops station of the Delta Flyer. Harry wondered who she was, and then she spoke.

 

“Kathryn, if you are seeing this, then we were successful. He has come back to you.” The woman on the screen gave a sad smile. “My name is Tessa, and you do not know me, but I have come to know you, and your crew, through Harry and Chakotay’s stories.” She looked down at the console and frowned. “I don’t have much time. They’re after us and I doubt we’ll survive what we’re about to do, but I need to tell you something.” She blew out a breath. “I have loved Chakotay for almost ten years and he, in his own way, cares for me. But I am not the one he needs, or the one he loves.” Another breath. “But I do love him enough to want him to be happy, and he can’t be, Kathryn. Not without you. He has loved you for all these years. His one focus has always been to return to you and to Voyager, but most of all to you. I foolishly thought that perhaps I’d broken through the barrier and into his heart, but I knew today when he saw you and heard your voice, that I never stood a chance. You own his heart, Kathryn, and if you’re seeing this, know that he’s come home to you. Not even time could stand in the way of his love for you.” She leaned towards the viewscreen and her eyes shimmered with unshed tears. “Please, love him. Tell him how you feel, because I know you love him too.” Again she glanced down at the console and grimaced in frustration then looked up again. “Let him love you, Kathryn. He needs you and I dare say you need him. You will make it home to Earth one day, but until then, love each other and live your lives as you were meant to. Time is too short for anything else.” She tapped the console. “Yes, Doctor, I’m sending it to you now.” The woman stared intently at the screen. “Please, Kathryn, love him and let him love you. In the end, it’s all that matters.”

 

The transmission ended and Harry was again stunned beyond belief. Pulling the padd from the console, he leapt to his feet. He was half way across the mess hall before he thought about what he was going to do.

 

Should he take this to Chakotay or the Captain? How would she feel if she knew he’d watched this? He wasn’t sure that he cared. In the scheme of things a little embarrassment was a small price to pay. Yes, he’d take it to her and right now. There wasn’t a moment to lose, and after the events of today, it seemed even more imperative.

 

Gripping the padd in his hand, he left the mess hall at a jog, entered the turbo lift and requested Deck three, before he could change his mind.

 

He walked to her door and rang the chime. The doors swished open and she turned to greet her visitor with a smile. It faded slightly when she saw who it was and Harry got the distinct impression she’d been expecting someone else. She recovered quickly and smiled warmly. “Harry, please come in. Can I help you with something?”

 

“Um, no Captain, it’s just this…” With that he thrust the padd towards her. “There’s something on here that I think you should see.”

 

She gave a non committal shrug, “Are you sure, Harry? It was specifically addressed to you.”

 

He shook his head. “It’s not my message. There’s another one after mine and it’s addressed to you.”

 

Kathryn tentatively took the padd from Harry, and looked at it with a puzzled frown. “Thank you, Harry. I’ll look at it later.”

 

“No!” Her head shot up at his shout and he blushed and stammered. “I mean, please, Captain, you have to watch it straight away. It’s important. Really important.”

 

She moved to her desk and studied him with an amused frown. “I get the idea, Ensign. I’ll watch it now, shall I?”

 

Harry’s shoulders sagged in relief. “Thank you, Captain. I’ll leave you to it.”

 

He spun on his heel and headed out the door.

 

“Goodnight, Harry.”

 

He turned and gave her a smile. “You too, Captain. Goodnight.”

 

He stepped out into the corridor and felt a great weight lift from his shoulders. They hadn’t made it home today, but if what he hoped was going to happen, after the Captain saw the recording, life aboard Voyager was about to take a happy turn. He swung around to head towards the lifts and found Chakotay standing there looking at him.

 

Harry smiled. “Commander.”

 

Chakotay nodded to him. “Ensign.” His eyes darted towards the Captain’s door. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

 

“No, it’s fine. Thank you, Sir. I’ve just been to see the Captain.” He stepped aside so the Commander could access the door. To Harry’s surprise it swished open on its own. He realised that it must be programmed to open on his approach.

 

Chakotay gave him a slap on the back as he stepped through the doors. “Have a good evening, Harry, and you did well today.”

 

Harry nodded his thanks. “Thank you, Sir. Goodnight.”

 

Just before the doors closed he heard their voices. “Kathryn? What’s wrong?”

 

“Oh, Chakotay, come and look at this…..” The doors shut.

 

Harry smiled.

 

********************

 

Chakotay stepped through Kathryn’s door to find her sitting in front of her computer, looking pale and shaken, with tears in her eyes. His heart skipped a beat and he rushed to her side. “Kathryn? What’s wrong?”

 

She wiped the tears from her face and extended her hand to him. “Oh, Chakotay, come and look at this. Harry just brought it to me. I…I’m not sure what to do.” She took his hand, and as she stood, pulled him into her seat. Hitting the play button she relinquished her hold on his hand and moved to the chair on the opposite side of the table.

 

He frowned at her. “What is it?”

 

“A message from the future, but you’d best watch it first and then we can decide what we do about it.”

 

Kathryn studied his face as in stunned silence he watched the woman on the screen tell, not only of her love for him, but of her sacrifice and her hopes for him and Kathryn in this altered timeline.

 

Tears were trailing quietly down Kathryn’s cheeks as Tessa spoke her final words and he looked towards Kathryn with tears in his eyes, his emotions written plainly on his face.

 

Kathryn’s breath caught and she tried to stifle a sob as he reached for her hand again and held it tightly in his. They sat and stared at one another for several moments. That future life, that up until now had been just a vague concept, took on a vivid edge of clarity. Both of them were deeply affected by their thoughts of imagined loss and grief.

 

The day’s events had already been traumatic. They’d started out this morning, so filled with hope, but by early afternoon that hope had been dashed. Anger, disappointment, resentment and searing bitterness had filled Kathryn to overflowing when she realised that their last best hope of getting home had been hijacked by misfortune, yet again.

 

Then Seven had found a Starfleet code embedded in the transmission that had been sent to her cranial implant. It had a temporal signature and was a message from Harry of the future, to Harry of the present, explaining that in his timeline Voyager had been destroyed and all aboard had perished. Everyone except Harry and Chakotay had died in an icy tomb on the edge of Federation space. The thought set her mind reeling and her heart racing.

 

Chakotay had looked ill when she’d told him. And now to find out that he’d come back through space and time to save them, to return to this timeline to be with her… Well, it was just another emotional gut punch that threw her feelings and beliefs into a tailspin.

 

He squeezed her hand and then lifted his other hand to gently brush the tears from her cheek. In a gruff voice, filled with emotion, he whispered. “She’s right, you know. In the end, love is all that matters and I know that I would travel to the ends of the universe and through time to be with you. Nothing would keep me from you side.”

 

Kathryn’s face crumpled and she sobbed. “Nothing did.” The emotional impact of the day, and now this, was just too much. She teetered forward on her chair and fell into his arms. He scooped her up and held her tight against him. She’d known he would catch her…that he would save her. He always did and it appeared that he always would, even from a half a lifetime away.

 

They stood, locked in an intense embrace as he rocked her in his arms. He swayed from side to side making soft crooning sounds as he gently stroked her hair and soothed her.

 

Her words from last night echoed in her mind and she knew, without a doubt, that they had waited long enough. A love like this, that defied space and time, could not possibly be wrong. They owed it to themselves – and to this mysterious woman, Tessa, who had sacrificed so much – to love one another and find happiness in the here and now.

 

Without opening her eyes, Kathryn’s hand slid up and cupped Chakotay’s cheek, and pulling him towards her, she kissed him. Her lips were soft and yielding, his warm and pliant. It was a perfect first kiss, holding all the love, respect, adoration and a healthy touch of need, that they felt for one another.

 

His arms tightened around her, and she wrapped hers around him as they drifted across her quarters. Whispered declarations of love accompanied the soft swish of clothing as it was discarded. In the quiet of her bedroom the reassuring hum of the engines was backdrop to breathy sighs, gentle laughter and the sounds of love.

 

**************************

 

In a restaurant in San Francisco, half a galaxy away, a woman named Tessa Omond, sat with friends, talking and laughing. Suddenly she felt something lift within her. It was an odd feeling, almost as if her heart and spirit were being set free. It felt like… joy. She looked around her and her gaze was drawn to the night sky. Taking a deep breath, she grinned, but had no idea why she was feeling like this. She turned back towards her friends in time to lift her glass in a rowdy toast to life, love and possibilities. As she sipped her drink, she looked again to the star filled sky, and smiled.

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