Chakotay slid down the ladder like a pro. He checked the status. Engineering crew members scrambled around him, not really paying him much mind. He entered his command authorization. He headed toward the roundtable in the middle of the containment shield.
Doc stepped forward, in front of Chakotay. "I can’t allow you to do that, commander. The radiation levels in there will kill you."
"Doc, in less then four minutes, unless I try, that fate awaits all of us."
"I’m not letting you go in there."
Chakotay looked toward B’Elanna, still dazed from the radiation dose she’d received. "Perhaps you’re right. What is B’Elanna’s condition?" He asked. This distracted the doctor just enough.
"Well, she’s . . ." Chakotay reached around him and pulled off his holographic emitter, effectively disabling him and sending him back to sickbay. Chakotay set the emitter on the console where it would be found. He crouched in front of B’Elanna, taking her gloves.
"I’m sorry. If there was some other way." He said.
Chakotay entered the chamber.
B’Elanna was aware of her friend. That he’d done something. Her mind cleared in an instant. She rose, realizing what Chakotay had done.
She ran to the console and began entering commands. She finally succeeded in bringing the doctor back on line. She pounded on the glass.
"Chakotay, please, you have to get out of there." She hit the glass with all her might, trying to get his attention.
"Commander, please. You can’t survive this amount of radiation." The doctor chimed in, also pleading with B’Elanna for him to reconsider.
Their pleas went unanswered.
The radiation was pleasant enough at first. He didn’t even really feel it. It was like warm sunshine. He thought back to the last time he’d felt sunshine on his skin. It had been too long. He smiled.
Then the heat took on a different feel. Like the humidity of the rain forest his father had made him go to in his fifteenth year. Moisture trickled into his eyes and he rubbed at it with the back of his hand.
The hand came away bloody.
Chakotay could hear B’Elanna and Doc outside the protective glass. He was doing it for them. So they could live. He didn’t worry about B’Elanna anymore. She had found her place, someone to love her for who she was. She would survive.
He focused on Kathryn. Her blue eyes smiling at him, urging him to go on just a bit longer. He thought, as he had just a short time ago, about all the times they’d had together. How just a few short hours ago, the culmination of their passions had risen.
But he’d never told her he loved her, had never heard it from her lips as well.
She’d live for him. Chakotay knew; knew that she could continue without him. But could he continue without her? He didn’t believe so. As Kes had done when she evolved with Jaden, he was doing now. This was his gift to Voyager, to his friends.
He smiled in satisfaction as the lines came back on line, as the warp core powered up. He sat down against the bottom of the reactor and closed his eyes.
Images of Kathryn floating through his mind.
"Captain, the mains are back on line." Harry said.
"Go, Tom. GO!" She said. Paris hit the thrusters and Voyager jumped to warp. A split second after she had passed the outer gas ring, Constitution exploded, taking the nebula with it.
"Good timing, B’Elanna." There was no response. "B’Elanna?" Janeway called. Something sat in the pit of her stomach.
"Captain, I think you better get down here."
"Better hurry." The engineer said. Janeway turned toward the chair of Chakotay and noticed it empty. She then looked to the science terminal. Also empty. She rose with a haunted look in her eye.
"Tuvok, you’ve got the conn." She said, sprinting to the lift.
"Chakotay, no." She said aloud as the lift drug for an eternity.