Summary:Sequel to Newfound. It probably helps to read this first, it can be found somewhere on this site
Kathryn’s reaction to finding out that Chakotay could read their minds. Cathexis and Faces episode addition.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
Kathryn walked slowly down the corridor from Chakotay’s quarters. Her footsteps slowed as she turned and looked back at his door. Frowning and shaking her head, she continued on her way. She’d just been to see him after his release from sickbay. She’d felt duty bound to drop by and see how he was after his ordeal today, and had been relieved to find him looking so well. It had been a tense and at times frightening day, for her and the crew. But for Chakotay it had been quite extraordinary. He’d spent many hours drifting around the ship, disembodied, and trying to avert a disaster that only he was aware of, his efforts complicated by the fact that no-one knew he was there. He’d been overlaying his consciousness into the minds of his colleagues and friends and using them to manipulate controls and manoeuvre the ship away from danger. In the end he’d saved them all and the ship.
What was causing her current consternation was his attitude when she’d entered his quarters. He was ever so slightly… different. He seemed self-satisfied in a strange sort of way. She had laid her hand on his chest just as she’d done many times before, but somehow tonight there was an edge to the gesture. She’d felt his heart beat under her hand and its throb had translated into a corresponding throb in her body. His demeanour had left her disconcerted and had set alarm bells ringing. There was a look in his eye and a certain swagger that hadn’t been evident before. He’d always treated her with the utmost respect and deference, but tonight there was a knowing glint in his eyes, and an awareness of each other that made her tremble with anticipation.
Her day had started routinely enough. She’d taken the opportunity while the ship was at station keeping, awaiting the return of the away team, to partake of a rare indulgence. A new holonovel. Kathryn had always been a closet fan of gothic romances, though it wasn’t something that one equated with a woman who spent most of her time head down in quantum mechanics and warp theory. Her sister had enticed her to read some, years ago, and since then she had relished and coveted this harmless indulgence. Phoebe had given her this new program just before she’d left earth, and today had been her first opportunity to try it. She’d been immersing herself in the character of Mrs Davenport, the new governess to the children of the enigmatic Lord Burleigh, when the call had come from the bridge that the away team’s shuttle was on sensors. There was a problem however. Both Tuvok and Chakotay were unconscious, and in sickbay. She had been truly shaken when the Doctor had informed her of Chakotay’s diagnosis of brain death. She’d been unprepared for her reaction and had left sickbay quickly before anyone had noticed her distress.
In the short time that they’d been in command, she had come to rely on Chakotay’s steady calm and reliable constancy. He was everything a captain could ever want in an executive officer. He was completely ‘in tune’ with her command style, a superlative tactician and strategist and a deep thinker with the ability to inspire and motivate even the most indifferent crewmen. He engendered trust like no-one she had met before. When she’d first seen him on the view screen, sitting on the spartan bridge of his ship, she’d felt instantly drawn to him. When he’d appeared in front of her in person, their eyes had met and she’d known in that instant that she could trust him implicitly. She’d never had this reaction to anyone before. She was a naturally reticent person, but the spontaneous accord they’d established was a Godsend in those first tumultuous days. She’d tried to deny it, but she’d soon become aware of her attraction to him. It wasn’t forbidden, but a relationship was still considered unacceptable between a captain and one of her subordinates in a situation such as theirs. Her dilemma was that she was finding this attraction more and more difficult to control and hide.
She berated herself constantly for not being able to distance herself, and to make matters worse, she couldn’t keep her hands off him. She knew it had become a source of amusement and conjecture amongst the crew, but it was something that was beyond her control. She touched everyone, always had done, comforting pats on the shoulders and the reassuring squeeze on the arm of grateful recipients. However, Chakotay was the only one she touched on the chest with her palm down over his heart. She was an innately tactile person, and the knowledge that she would be alone for the next 70 years struck terror into her heart. His presence gave her solace and she had quickly come to realise that she was falling for him. He fuelled her fantasies. His was the face she saw in her dreams and his were the hands she imagined on her body as she pleasured herself. She’d tried to overlay Mark’s face in her mind, but it was slowly fading into oblivion and Chakotay’s face was the one that she saw when she closed her eyes.
She’d reached her quarters and entered, still preoccupied with thoughts of her first officer. She shook her head and made her way to the bathroom. She was exhausted and quickly got ready for bed. Sitting on her couch she read through a few reports, but it didn’t take long before her eyes drooped and she took herself off to bed. Her dreams were fragmented and confused, with flashes of Chakotay’s tattoo, his hands on her body, his face, and his smile. She woke several times during the night tangled in her sheets, her body heavy with arousal and her heart pounding.
She dragged herself from her bed the next morning determined to overcome this infatuation and keep her mind solely on her job. After a quick cup of coffee, she arrived on the bridge before change of shift and ensconced herself in her ready room, under the guise of reading reports. She wasn’t hiding. No, not at all.
After the captain had left his quarters, Chakotay had gone straight to bed, but he was unable to sleep. To say his day had been unusual was putting a somewhat positive slant on it. It had been downright peculiar, and his mind was churning over all he’d learned today about the people around him. Tom, B’Elanna, Harry, Durst, even Neelix. Now there was a different sort of mind, as colourful and haphazard as his clothing. But the one he couldn’t stop thinking about was Kathryn’s. He knew her now. Intimately. The brief melding had given him intrinsic knowledge of her inner self, the real Kathryn. He now understood her motivations, her fears, her joys and her desires. He had been unnaturally in tune with her before this, more so than any other person he’d worked with. Now he knew her almost as well as he knew himself. The fact that she desired him was an intoxicating pearl of knowledge. But with that knowledge came an enormous responsibility, because coupled with her longing, was an equal portion of fear and trepidation.
She’d been hurt and damaged in her younger years, damaged almost beyond repair. His heart ached for her. The fact that she had survived was testament to her strength of character and her determination of will. The loss of her father and fiancé weighed heavy and had profoundly affected her later relationships. It had produced in her a reticence and reserve that she used as armour to protect herself. He was determined to pierce that armour, to love and protect her and in turn allow her love for him to find succour. His quest would not be an easy one. She would be resistant, and challenge him at every turn, but he was determined to break through that outer shell and embrace the strong and loving woman that was the real Kathryn Janeway. His mission foremost in his mind, he rolled over and settled into a deep and peaceful sleep.
He woke at the usual time the next morning, having slept soundly all night. He’d expected to have had nightmares about his ‘away mission’, but the knowledge he’d gleaned yesterday had been a balm and he was feeling more at peace than he had in years. He set about writing his report of the incident. He knew the captain would be going over them today, and he wanted her to be able to sign off on them as soon as possible. He pondered whether or not to give any details of his ability to see into the host’s mind during the melds. He had a feeling that at this stage, if she knew, she would close herself off and be entirely unapproachable. His insights, he decided, were best kept for a later time, when he hoped she might be more receptive.
Kathryn sat on her couch ploughing through the reports from the day before. It made for interesting reading. Tom and B’Elanna had written extensive reports about their experiences as they had been ‘taken over’ by Chakotay more that once during the day. Harry, Durst and Neelix had only been ‘possessed’ for a short time, as had she, so their reports weren’t nearly as long. She had recorded her log last night and was ready to sign off of all of these. Neelix had dropped his report off a short time ago along with a pot of his latest coffee substitute. She wasn’t sure if his substitutes were improving or if her taste buds were slowly being massacred and she would accept any brown liquid as coffee as long as it had the required caffeine levels. She was very grateful and he tried so hard to please, but to call some of his concoctions coffee was somewhat of a stretch.
Chakotay finished his report and dressed in casual clothes then headed for the bridge. He strode out of the turbo lift and made his way to the ready room doors, giving Tuvok a nod of greeting as he passed. He rang the chime and the doors slid open.
She was sitting on the couch under the viewport sipping a cup of coffee. She smiled at him and held out her hand for the padd.
“Take a seat, Commander. Would you like a coffee? This is Neelix’s latest brew. It tastes a little like burnt corn and chocolate. Not entirely unpleasant, but a long way from the coffee I’m used to. Fortunately it’s less…solid than his last attempt.” He smiled and nodded his head as she got up and poured him a cup.
“Sugar and milk?”
“Yes, thanks. Two lumps please.”
“Two! Well, it might camouflage the taste. Here you are.” She handed him his cup. Their fingers touched fleetingly, and he heard her slight intake of breath. He pretended not to notice.
He sat himself in the chair and the captain sat back on the couch. She looked at him over the top of her cup, still trying to discern what was different about him. She could still feel this change in him and when their fingers touched a moment ago, it was like an electric shock. He seemed unaware, thankfully.
“How are you today, Commander? Are you completely recovered?”
“Yes, thank you, Captain. I had a very restful night, and it feels like an added bonus being able to move around the ship in solid form. It gives an entirely different meaning to the adage ‘having mind and body together’.” He chuckled and she smiled at him.
“Well, I’m glad you’re back in one piece.” She was looking at him with a lopsided smile on her face. She suddenly checked herself and frowned slightly. “Yes, well, thank you for bringing your report. It wasn’t necessary.”
“I thought you might like to get them all out of the way before lunch. You haven’t forgotten, have you?” He leant forward and gave her a devastating dimpled smile. “My grandmother’s enchiladas will be waiting for you at 13:00. They’ll be very disappointed if you can’t make it.” She blinked. He was flirting with her. She was slightly shocked, but secretly pleased. A not unpleasant tingling sensation slithered up her spine. Smiling, she decided she could give as good as she got, unable to resist the temptation to play along.
“Well, we can’t disappoint grandma’s enchiladas, can we? I’ll see you in your quarters at 13:00.” She leaned over and patted his arm. She then stood up and stretched, running her hands down over her hips. She picked up her coffee and sauntered towards the desk. She smiled knowingly at him. “Now, Commander, I have work to do. Some of us have jobs to do, you know?”
He was watching her with a wide grin on his face. She was flirting with him. He was surprised, but thrilled. However, he had to get out of there quickly. Watching her little stretch and self caress had caused a reaction that was going to be embarrassing if he didn’t leave soon. He got up and placed his cup on the table.
“I’ll leave you to it, Captain. See you at 13:00. Thank you for the ‘coffee’ and ah… don’t work too hard.” He walked to the doors. Turning just as they opened, he gave her another dimpled smile and then was gone.
The doors shut and she was left staring at the blank doors, wondering what had just happened. It seemed their relationship had taken a quantum leap over the last 24 hours. It was exhilarating, but a little worrying. She wasn’t quite sure where this was leading, but she was enjoying herself for the first time in a long while. Certain she could control this and him, she reassured herself that she could put a stop to it anytime she chose. Sitting back at her desk again, a satisfied smile on her face, she picked up his report and started reading.
At 12:30 her chime rang and Tom Paris came into her ready room with his helm report. He handed it to her. “Thank you, Lieutenant.” She glanced at it briefly, and then looked up at the helmsman. “How are you today, Tom? No ill effects from yesterday’s events.”
“No, I’m fine, Captain, but I’ve been thinking about it.” Kathryn nodded for him to have a seat opposite. Sitting down, Tom continued. “It got me thinking, you know, the way the Commander took over our bodies.” Kathryn frowned questioningly. “He was in our minds, right? And his brainwave patterns were superimposed over ours?” He looked at Kathryn for confirmation. She gave a quick nod, a knot of worry forming in her gut. “Do you think he could read our minds while he was in there? I mean, the waves were in the form of memory engrams so he must have been in the part of our brains that contain all our memories and thoughts. I don’t know. I was just wondering. I mean, if he could, then he would know all sorts of stuff about us. Did he say anything in his report or mention anything to you?” Kathryn sat with her face frozen as a lightening bolt of fear shot through her. A blush started to creep up her neck. She fought for control.
“No, Lieutenant, he didn’t mention anything about that in his report. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. If he had any knowledge of your thoughts or feelings, I’m sure he would have made a note of it. I don’t think you need concern yourself about it. I’m sure he would have said something. I’m certain…” Did she sound like she was trying to convince herself or Tom? Oh God, this hadn’t even occurred to her. She could feel the flush creeping higher and she was suddenly very uncomfortable. She had to get rid of Tom before he picked up on her distress. “If that is all, Lieutenant, you should get back to the helm. Dismissed.”
Tom blinked and got up from his chair. “Um, yeah, sure. I mean, yes, Captain.” He turned and left the room, a little bewildered at her curt dismissal.
Kathryn sat at her desk unable to move. It explained everything. He knew! She covered her face with her hands. Oh God, he knew. What was she going to do? She could hardly deny it; he’d been in her mind for God’s sake. He’d read her thoughts and he was aware of her feelings for him. Jumping up from her desk she started pacing, her hand across her forehead. Damn, damn, damn. And she had been flirting with him, adding fuel to the fire. No wonder he was so cocky. What did he think? That she would fall into his arms just because he knew she was in love with him? She stopped pacing. Oh God, what the hell was that? In love with him? Oh no, it was getting worse. But unfortunately it was true. She was in love with her first officer. She started pacing again. She was also engaged to be married to a man whose face she could barely remember and was stranded 70,000 light years from home in an uncharted part of the galaxy. Could things get any more complicated?
Her comm. badge chirped. “Chakotay to Janeway.” Oh yes, they could get way more complicated.
She took a steadying breath. “Janeway here.”
“Captain, grandmother’s enchiladas are waiting, and they’re tastier if they’re hot.”
“Ah…Commander, I’m umm…I’m sorry, but something has umm… come up and I won’t be able to have you…. I mean have lunch with you. Perhaps another time.” Oh smooth, Kathryn, very smooth.
“Well, if you can’t make it here, how about I bring them up there? We have to eat and it seems a shame to waste them. I’ll be there soon.”
“Ahh… Commander, I ahh.” But he had closed the link. He was on his way. What was she going to do?
She continued to pace in front of her desk. How could she find out for sure if he knew anything? She could hardly ask him directly. *Excuse me Commander, when you were in my head yesterday did you happen to notice that all my thoughts and fantasies involved you, well you, naked and aroused? I hope you don’t mind my asking because I would like you to forget everything that you learned. Let’s go back to that businesslike command relationship we had before and forget the fact that every time I see you I want to run my hands and lips all over your naked body.* Yes, that should work. Damn. She plopped herself down in her chair and put her head in her hands again, groaning out loud. He was going to be here any minute.
She took a few deep breaths and tried to get herself under control. Her stomach was churning. This was going to be a disaster. There was no way she was going to be able to eat anything without throwing up. He would ask her what was wrong and she would have to tell him something. Damn, damn, damn.
She closed her eyes and took some deep steadying breaths, trying to remember the Vulcan meditation techniques that Tuvok had taught her. Emptying her mind, she focused on pulling her thoughts inwards and pushing the emotions down in on themselves until they were nonexistent. Concentrating on an imaginary dot of light, she calmed her breathing and centred herself. Slowly the dot of light grew larger and coalesced into a bronzed face with a distinctive tattoo and a beautiful dimpled smile. Her face started to relax into a corresponding smile. But abruptly her eyes shot open and she shook her head to get the picture out of her mind. This wasn’t working. She got up again from her desk and started pacing again.
The door chimed. She stood stock still and stared at the closed door. He was on the other side. She had to force herself to stay still and not run out the other exit. One deep cleansing breath. “Come.”
He swept into the room, smiling as he passed her on the way to the upper level and put a tray on her coffee table. “Good afternoon, Captain. I hope you’re hungry. I think I’ve over catered. There’s probably enough here to feed the entire bridge crew.” He seemed oblivious to her discomfort as he chattered, pulling covers off the dishes and placing plates and cutlery on the table. She was still standing in the same spot watching him. Finally he stood up and turned towards her smiling.
“All ready, Captain. Come and eat before it gets cold.” He then noticed her rigid stance and troubled look and the smile faded from his face.
“Captain? Is there something wrong?” She looked as if she was in pain. She was slightly flushed and obviously in some discomfort.
He walked towards her, a frown of concern on his face. “Captain, you don’t look well. Do you need to go to sickbay?”
His approach jolted her out of her dazed state. She moved to the far side of the desk to keep some distance between them. “No, Commander, I’m fine. It’s just been a busy morning.”
He kept coming towards her. He was worried and she looked feverish. He put his hand up to feel her forehead. She ducked and moved away. He stopped abruptly and dropped his hand. She looked panic stricken. He didn’t understand her sudden change of behaviour. He thought this morning that they were getting along famously and now she was pulling away and the walls were going up.
“I’m sorry, Captain. You’re flushed and I just wanted to see if you had a temperature. You can’t afford to get sick, and don’t forget it’s part of my job to make sure you look after yourself.” He smiled, trying to put her at ease and moved towards her again.
She looked at him coldly. “Commander, I assure you I am fine. Thank you for bringing lunch, but I’m not hungry at the moment.” She sat herself at her desk. She felt more in control with the desk acting as a buffer zone between two of them.
She was behaving most peculiarly. He could swear that she was angry with him. “Have I done something to upset you, Captain?” He was bewildered and a little upset by her behaviour. She was so defensive, and he wondered for a moment whether she suspected something about his awareness of her thoughts, but he dismissed this idea. How could she? He was the only one that knew. But she certainly wasn’t in the mood for company, so he decided it would be best to leave. “I’ll take the food away. I apologise, Captain. I shouldn’t have presumed.” He turned back towards the upper level and began stacking the plates and bowls back on the tray.
She felt bad now. He had no idea why she was so upset and he was just trying to be helpful. His change of attitude probably had nothing to do with his experience, other than he was glad to be alive. She had no proof that he’d read her mind. She was basing her reaction on a vague question from Tom Paris, of all people. Chakotay’s consciousness had been in her mind and she had no recollection of any of his thoughts. Wouldn’t it be just as likely that if he could read her mind, she should have been able to read his? She’d panicked for no reason, her guilt making her jump to conclusions. This was just Chakotay being thoughtful as always, and she was being unreasonable.
“Commander, I’m sorry. I’m a little out of sorts. Please leave the food. I’m feeling quite hungry now and it smells delicious.” She smiled and moved to the upper level, sitting down on the couch.
He was relieved to see her relax at last. He passed her a plate and showed her how to put the enchilada together.
In the end they had a very pleasant lunch. The food was delicious and they chatted easily about the crew and a few tidbits of gossip. He told her stories of his grandmother and his childhood on Dorvan Five. By the time she’d got them both coffee, she had forgotten her earlier discomfort and they had fallen back into their usual easy companionship.
“Thank you, Commander. That was very pleasant and your grandmother is a very good cook.” They both tidied up the dishes and placed them on the tray.
“My pleasure, Captain. I’ll let you get back to work, and I’ll see you tomorrow.” He picked up the tray and made his way to the door. She followed him, moving over to her desk.
He turned and smiled at her again. “Have a good afternoon, Captain.”
“Thank you, Chakotay. See you tomorrow.”
He left the room with a smile on his face. She sat down and rested her chin on her hand and momentarily contemplated the closed doors. Picking up a padd she got back to work.
Life returned to normal over the next few weeks. Chakotay remained attentive and respectful of the captain, but he still flirted a little with Kathryn, which she enjoyed. She put to the back of her mind her concerns about his awareness of her feelings. That was until the nightmare of a lost away team.
Voyager had spent a couple of days mapping the Avery system. They had returned to the third planet, where the away team of Tom Paris, B’Elanna Torres and Peter Durst were inspecting magnesite formations, only to find them missing. The magnesite blocked the ship’s scanners and there was no way to trace the missing crewmembers from the ship. Kathryn sent Chakotay, Tuvok and Harry down to the planet to search, but they were met with forcefields that were impossible to penetrate. The forcefields had a Vidiian signature so grave fears were held for the three missing crewmen. Eventually Chakotay, disguised as a Vidiian, was beamed through a small gap in the forcefield and was able to rescue Tom and B’Elanna. Unfortunately Peter Durst was lost.
A Vidiian doctor had been experimenting with B’Elanna’s Klingon genome in an attempt to find a cure for the phage, the frightening and debilitating disease that had been decimating the Vidiian population for millennia. B’Elanna had been split in two, literally. Doctor Sulan had separated her genetic material, creating a fully human and a fully Klingon version of her. In a hideous twist, he had killed Durst, removed his face and used it to replace his own to impress the Klingon B’Elanna and try and win her favour. Lieutenant Peter Durst had the dubious honour of being the first crewman to be lost since the initial fatalities caused by the Caretaker several months before. The horrific nature of his death added to the poignancy of his loss. He was dead, but his face would live on, grafted to the misshapen form of the vile Doctor Sulan.
The Captain had performed her duty at his memorial service, speaking compassionately of his life here on Voyager. She mentioned his devotion to duty and his enviable efficiency. She stood back while several of Durst’s friends spoke of his love of classical music, his droll wit and his appalling hoverball skills. Chakotay tried to stay close to her side when Durst’s empty coffin was transported into space. She appeared to be the epitome of Starfleet spit and polish, but he could see the cracks in the façade. He knew she was suffering. The loss, the first of many he would imagine, was resurrecting all the sadness, anger and insecurities she had felt after her father’s and fiancé’s deaths.
At Durst’s wake, Kathryn had stayed in the background watching as her crew milled around and spoke in hushed voices of the young man who had died such a horrible death. She would not stay long. She was having difficulty maintaining her composure. The guilt she felt over his death was making it almost impossible to stay calm. She couldn’t afford to breakdown, especially in front of the crew. Her command persona had to remain intact at all costs. When she decided she’d spent an appropriate amount of time at the wake, she put down her glass with shaking hands and began to say her goodnights. Watching from across the room, Chakotay also said his farewells and moved to intercept her as she made her escape. He was intent on trying to get her to talk about her feelings and release some of the tension and anguish.
“Heading home, Captain? I’m leaving as well and I wouldn’t mind some company?” Before she could reply, he took her hand and tucked it under his elbow and they walked out the door. Kathryn was surprised at his boldness, but also appreciative of his kindness, and to be honest she needed the connection. Just having him close was soothing and in a strange way gave her strength. She loved being so near to him. Well, she loved him, didn’t she? Oh God, here we go again. She smiled grimly to herself.
They arrived at her quarters. She didn’t want to be alone just at the moment. Too many awful memories were hovering around her. She wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway and Chakotay’s company was always so calming. “Would you care for a cup of tea, Commander? Unless you…”
“A cup of tea sounds lovely.” She keyed in her code and they entered. “Captain, if you’ll allow me, I have the perfect blend for this time of night.”
“Go right ahead, Commander. Mi casa es tu casa.” He looked at her questioningly. She smiled tiredly. “Make yourself at home, Chakotay.”
She moved into the bedroom and took off her uniform. She wasn’t very happy with it tonight. She needed to be as far away from Starfleet as she could at the moment. She pulled on a loose knitted top and some comfortable pants. She didn’t put any shoes on. She liked the tickle of the carpet on her toes. Simple pleasures. She felt lighter all of a sudden. Peeling off the uniform was like peeling off the hardened layers that command required. She was unprotected, but just at the moment she didn’t care. Chakotay was here with her and she needed his strength and calm.
She wandered back out to the living area. Chakotay was sitting on her couch under the window, watching the stars slip past. He leant forward and picked up her cup, passing it to her as she sat down. “I hope you like it. My mother always gave us this blend of tea when we were too tired to sleep.” She took a sip as she watched him and noticed how his face softened as he spoke of his mother. That in turn reminded her of her own mother and that was the trigger. The tears started to fall.
Chakotay took her cup from her hand, placing it on the table next to his and pulled her into a gentle embrace. “Shhh. Let it go. Everything will be alright.” His embrace was warm and comforting. It felt good to allow the barriers to drop a little. She couldn’t afford to get too comfortable though. She pulled back and wiped her eyes.
“Thank you, Commander. I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have to deal with that. There are some things that are well out of the realm of First Officer duties. But thank you.” She sat back, picking up her tea and sipping quietly.
She turned to Chakotay and put her hand on his arm. “Chakotay, please call me Kathryn. I think that it would be appropriate in these situations.”
“Very well. Kathryn, I know you feel responsible for Durst’s death, but there was nothing that you could have done. We’re going to lose people. It’s the nature of our jobs and all the crew are aware of that. You don’t have to carry the burden alone.” He wasn’t sure how far he should push this. He was relieved that she felt comfortable enough with him to drop some of her command stance, but he wanted her to know that she could be herself with him. She didn’t have to hide. He knew her so well.
“I know, Chakotay, and I know he’s probably only the first of many we’ll lose, but it is my responsibility. They’re my crew and they’re here in the Delta Quadrant because of a choice I made.”
“Perhaps to an extent, but we all make choices and have to live with the consequences. It’s just that some things are out of our control. Carrying guilt for things over which we had no control is a waste of time and energy. We’ve all lost people that we loved, but I’m sure that none of them would like to think of us living our lives with regret and guilt as our constant companions.”
She was looking at him now with wide and worried eyes. “Kathryn, I lost my entire family at the hands of the Cardassians. For many years I was angry and I focused that anger into actions, some that I’m not terribly proud of, but it served its purpose at the time. However, I came to realise that a lot of the guilt and anger I felt was self directed and that is soul destroying. Sometimes you have to make a conscious decision to leave it behind and start life afresh. Those loved ones will always be a part of your life, but it’s important to move on. I know that my father and mother wouldn’t have wanted me to remain the angry and bitter man that I had become. Revenge was never a part of their beliefs, and like guilt, it eats away at the owner. I know you, Kathryn, and you have to let the guilt go. Your father and Justin wouldn’t want you to suffer as you have.”
There. He’d done it. The words were out and the meaning was clear. Her reaction would be very telling. He waited for the eruption.
She was still sitting next to him, wide eyed and stunned. He did know. After all this time, he had known her thoughts. How else could he know of her father and Justin and the guilt she carried in relation to their deaths. He was right, of course. Neither Justin nor her father would want her to carry the burden of their deaths with her always, but she could never forget. The memories were so entwined with the tangled web of her inner demons, she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to undo the mess. In a strange way, they were comforting in their familiarity. Familiar sorrow and familiar guilt.
Chakotay was sitting watching her as she absorbed the knowledge of his awareness.
She’d been through the shock of this realisation before, but it still hit hard that he was privy to her inner most thoughts and feelings. She felt embarrassed and exposed, but he’d behaved like a gentleman over the past weeks, never taking advantage of his knowledge or pushing her further than she would allow. He’d remained her steadfast ally and considerate supporter.
As the embarrassment faded she was left with a sense of peace and calm, something that she hadn’t felt for a long time. Here was someone who knew her, knew her to the depths of her very soul. As frightening as that thought was, it also gave her a sense of freedom and relief. With him there would be no need of pretence and no need to maintain the façade of steeliness and independence. They could take this journey together, gaining strength from each other. She stood up and moved to the viewport.
“Kathryn, I’m sorry. I perhaps should have told you about the melds, but I was concerned about your reaction. I didn’t want you pulling back and isolating yourself. I learned about that too. How you cope with situations and what your motivations are.” She was very calm and controlled. He wasn’t sure whether he should be worried or not. She turned towards him, her face soft and revealing.
“You know, Chakotay, Tom asked me about whether or not you could read our thoughts when you were in our minds. It hadn’t even occurred to me at the time, and it terrified me to think that you knew what I was thinking and feeling. That was the day we were having Grandma’s enchiladas.” She was smiling at him.
“You might remember my strange behaviour. Anyway, I suppose I’ve had a while to get used to the idea and it’s a relief in a way to know that someone knows me so well and that you know how I feel.” He moved towards her. Was she saying what he thought she was saying?
She turned around and stood close to him. She lifted her hand and placed it palm down over his heart. “The only problem, Chakotay, is that I don’t know your thoughts or feelings.”
He stood in front of her placing his hand over hers. “Mine are written on my heart, Kathryn, and it’s yours if you want it.”
“Oh Chakotay. I do.” She slid her hands around him and fell into his arms. “Thank you.”
He kissed her hair and slowly made his way to her lips. Her eyes were closed and she had a beatific smile on her face. She could feel his breath on her face as he lowered his mouth to hers. Their lips met. The world tilted and then righted itself and they were lost in the moment.
Kathryn’s stomach suddenly rumbled. She pulled away, blushing with an apologetic grin. “Sorry. I haven’t eaten since early this morning. In fact,” she looked at him sideways, “I have a hankering for Grandma’s enchiladas. What do you say, Chakotay? My treat.”
“Sounds wonderful. Grandma would be so pleased.”
They set about getting dinner, chatting and laughing as they did mundane things like setting the table and choosing wine. Kathryn would touch him gently as she walked past and he would place sweet kisses on her hair as he passed. The gentle seduction continued through dinner. Looks and smiles, touches and caresses, their awareness of each other, building in a slow crescendo. After the meal was over and the dishes recycled, they took their drinks and sat on the couch.
They sat close, the need to touch one another almost as necessary as breathing.
“What was it like in the melds? I’m trying to imagine what it must have been like. Can you explain it or is it just too strange a concept?”
“I don’t quite know how to explain it, but when I entered someone’s mind, I became a part of them, so all their thoughts, feelings and memories became mine. Most of the time I was so busy trying to avert a disaster that I didn’t really pay much attention. Some things did rather jump out at me though.” He looked down at her and smiled. She grinned back as a blush crept up her neck. “It was quite an experience, but I don’t think it would be wise to tell the others about it. I’d hate to think what B’Elanna’s reaction might be.” He gave a shudder. She laughed. It was a delightful sound, but one which he heard too rarely. They sat in silence for a time, just enjoying the closeness.
Eventually Chakotay turned to her. “Kathryn? Will you dance with me?” A joyous smile spread slowly across her face. She nodded. “Computer, music selection Chakotay 1.” He stood up and held out his hand. She placed her hand in his and he pulled her up into his arms.
“This is one of the things I remember very well. Kathryn loves to dance.” A hauntingly beautiful melody played in the background as they drifted around the room. She rested her head on his shoulder as he led her in a gentle and soothing dance. She was wrapped in his arms, at peace with herself for the first time in a very long while.
As the music washed over her, the sad echoes of the past faded slowly and she was left renewed, swaying in the embrace of the man she loved. Gentle hands caressed each others bodies as she slowly led him into the bedroom.
They made love that night, for the first time, silhouetted against the stars, their rapturous cries of release heralding a new beginning to a journey of love that would last a lifetime.