Categories: Ship, Het, Episode Tag, Angst
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Spoilers: Hunters, Pathways
A/N: Episode addition for Hunters. Are we supposed to believe they went to Neelix's stupid party and everything was just fine? Written for Talent Night's Letters From Home.
Credits: Thanks on this one due to Jeri Taylor and her wonderful novel Pathways.
Disclaimer: Paramount doesn't treat its toys very well, but I do.
Chakotay had come to her in the ready room, full of concern; Worried about how she was dealing with her Dear John letter. Yet he had to know that she wouldn't be broken hearted over Mark's marriage. Their own understanding, though complicated and unspoken, didn't leave room for Mark.
His letter from Sveta had been much more upsetting. The two weren't even comparable. She had lost a relationship that hadn't really existed for years; he had learned of the slaughter on Tevlik. He had lost his family to the Cardassians, and now he had lost dozens of friends, men and women fighting for the safety of their families. A cause he had fought for, a worthy cause, was dead.
She watched him, across the room, smiling at something Neelix had said and celebrating Voyager's communication with the Alpha Quadrant as if all the news had been good. Much of it had been wonderful news. Tuvok was a grandfather now. But while Kathryn was willing to wear a mask for her crew, she didn't want Chakotay to do the same.
He'd never leave early for his own sake. She knew that, and caught his eye. He was beside her swiftly, his hand on her elbow, asking if everything was alright.
"No, it isn't," she answered honestly.
They left the party together.
"Do you want to talk about it?" She handed him a cup of tea and sat beside him on the couch.
"Tell me about Mark."
"I didn't ask you here to talk about that. My relationship with Mark ended a long time ago. Like I said before, I didn't expect him to wait." Her eyes found his. "I didn't even want him to wait."
"Then what's bothering you?"
"I think you need to talk about your own letter."
He avoided her gaze. "I'll cope with that."
She grabbed his hand. "I don't want to pretend right now, Chakotay. Not when you're hurting; not when you need me."
"Kathryn, I'm fine."
"No, you're not. You just don't want to lean on me. You're always here when I need you, lightening my burdens. Let me do the same for you."
The silence stretched between them. She still held his hand, her thumb caressing him, her eyes watching his. He let out a shaky breath. "Okay."
He had agreed to talk, but many minutes passed before he was able to begin. He kept his voice low, and although he sat facing her on the couch, he kept his eyes on the viewport.
"The day I learned of the attack on Trebus . . . it was Captain Gordon who told me. I wasn't sure then, that they were dead. I took a shore leave; I couldn't visit the colony as a member of Starfleet, but Captain Gordon arranged for that to be overlooked. It took four days to get there, four days of wondering if there were survivors. It only took moments to determine that there were none.
"I'll never forget the smell from the thermalite weapons, or the deadly silence. There was nothing to bury, and I alone survived to mourn. I couldn't go back to Starfleet. I had to avenge my people. I had to keep this from happening to others."
She listened as he continued, describing the people and events that had shaped his life as a Maquis. Much of it he had told her before. How he has sought out Sveta after leaving Trebus; How his attempts at mercy towards the Cardassians had earned Seska's scorn and nearly cost him his life; How he owed his life to several of those who had died on Tevlik.
"Those were good people who died. They weren't terrorists." His voice shook. "They were fighting to protect their homes and their families."
"I know, Chakotay. I never thought of the Maquis as terrorists. I would never have invited you to join this crew if I had."
"I know that you know that, Kathryn, and so do many good people, like Captain Gordon. But is this what it takes for the Federation's politicians to finally recognize the Cardassians for what they are?"
There was no answer for that. She moved closer, wrapping her arms around him. He buried his face in her neck; she could feel his tears on her skin.
"Some of those people had childen, Kathryn." It was the last thing he managed to say.
She held him while he cried, grieving for those of Trebus as well as Tevlik. His pain tore at her, and she wanted to rage against a universe that did this to such a good man as Chakotay.
Her tears joined his.
He could have been on Tevlik, if not for the Caretaker. Perhaps he even felt he should have been there. She would have felt that, in his place, but what she did feel, here and now, was selfish relief that he was on Voyager, not dead on an unnamed moon, orbiting the planet of Tevlik.
"I'm sorry, Kathryn, I didn't mean - "
"Don't. Don't be sorry. What are friends for?" Her fingers wiped his tears away, and she smiled at him. "I hope that helped."
"It did. Thank you." He smiled as well. "I don't think I can find closure without visiting Tevlik myself, but it feels right to have mourned, to not push everything aside completely."
Her hand continued to caress his cheek. "I think I've heard that somewhere before."
"You were right, Kathryn. I needed a friend tonight. I hope, that when someday I visit Tevlik, you'll come with me."
"I'd like that." She pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. "It'll be the first thing we do."
Those who have read the opening chapters of Homecoming by Christie Golden know that Chakotay did indeed bring Kathryn with him to Tevlik upon their return to the Alpha Quadrant.
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, November 2002.