Response to a JetC 16 challenge of an episode addition to "Fair Haven"
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them. I just borrow and will return them with sales receipt.
Chakotay smiled as he passed Kathryn in the corridor. She was dressed in an old style dress, her hair put up casually. He smiled at her, she returning it. She entered the holodeck and he let the smile fade from his face.
The gentle teasing on the bridge had been a facade. That and only that. As always, he didn’t speak of his true feelings. It was the one thing he would not do—speak of that gentle love for her out loud. He’d allow her this…only because he cared too much to not let her enjoy herself.
Though he still thought he wished it could be him.
He stepped into his quarters, the lights dimmed to his own specifications. He didn’t like bright light, but the serenity the darkness afforded him. Despite his usual cheery disposition, Chakotay was content to remain in the shadows. It never had been a factor of his personality, as a friend at the academy had once said, to "toot his own horn".
It had been weeks since that teasing. Months. She went…and he never said a word. She seemed to get back some of her persona, the one before that he knew she had. Yet it still hurt to a degree that he was no longer the only one to call her by name…even if the name Michael called her wasn’t her name. She’d always remain his Kathryn.
Chakotay removed his uniform, hanging it back up in his closet. Pulling his pajama’s from the dresser, he stepped into the bathroom for a refreshing shower. Tension eased from his shoulders. The ache had grown more within the short time. Shrugging them, he let the water caress his skin like an invisible lover.
Later, he sat on his bed, propped up by his pillows, legs crossed at the ankle. A box lie open, a blue ribbon beside it. . .and in his hands was the letter he added to occasionally. A slow composition more personal then a private log…
Years went by. Every so often, it would be removed from it’s hiding place in the back of his dresser. Birthdays, holidays, important things…it all was recorded and put into this box. He would smile.
Dinners never stopped. Maybe the manner a little easier. Little by little, he seemed to let go. Or so it seemed. A tiny part of him never stopped hoping…but the box held it all. It held all the secrets, desires, emotions, tokens that added up to his life.
Then one day, the box went untouched…never to be touched by his hands again.
"I don’t think I can do this," Kathryn Janeway remarked, stepping into the dimly lit quarters.
"Captain, it must be done. We’ve waited too long as it is."
Kathryn put a hand to her forehead, rubbing it gently. Over two months had passed since that dreadful morning. Late for duty, curious. . . and a heartbreaking discovery. Doc said it had been painless and quick. He hadn’t suffered at all. He’d simply went to sleep.
Never would she forget the way he lie there, half on his side, half on his back, his chin resting on his chest, his eyes closed, his lips gently parted. Beside him, a report he’d been working on. The last words…so characteristic of him.
". . .full commendation to Lieutenant Harry Kim for his heroic act of seeing to the safety of his landing party. It is my recommendation he be given the rank of full Lieutenant in regards to his conduct and ability as of late. . ."
"Tuvok, how can a man in the prime of his life just die?"
"There is no reason. Life is a continuous cycle, one that can’t be interfered with. His life was a good one…as I believe he’d be the first one to tell you that."
Kathryn turned, looking over her shoulder, smiling at him. Somehow, the presence of her oldest friend helped her. She’d even went to Fair Haven, seeking the comfort of Michael. But she found she couldn’t quite vocalize what was wrong. Though he was caring, it was the one thing he never fully grasped…even though she tried to explain it to the hologram.
How her best friend could be a male. . .
Kathryn raised the lights, looking around. The room was full of a culture he’d tried to tell her about, show her. But she’d never dug beyond his words. His world…something he’d told her years before, was something he’d turned his back on…and not until it was too late he’d realized what it truly meant to him.
"The commander would have understood your apprehension, captain," Tuvok commented as he walked slowly into the room. The commander was meticulous, neat. The kiln fired mug sat on his coffee table. His boots placed carefully beneath the table.
"Perhaps, Tuvok." She smiled sadly. "But I don’t. It’s funny, but since he…" she caught herself, "since he died, I realize that some of my own perspective of who I am no longer seems to exist."
"The commander had an incredible talent seeing what others seemed to overlook." Kathryn turned, her arms crossing over chest, rocking one foot on the heal of her boot. "In all the years I knew him, I knew of only two fears he held; one of the Borg, which was understandable."
"It did take him a long time to warm to Seven," Tuvok observed, looking at the cactus plants and Indian designed blankets on the back of his chairs.
"The other thing he feared was senility. He was so afraid of losing his mind…to not be able to think coherently. It troubled him. I remember how he fought it…not wanting to be out of his mind."
"Perhaps the commander felt it was the one thing he could control."
Kathryn tilted her head, raising an eyebrow. "Explain that, Tuvok."
Tuvok went to the window, looking out. "Everything, as I recall from what he would talk about, was about others. There wasn’t a selfish bone in his body. He trusted you from that first communication…not knowing if you spoke the truth or lies. He couldn’t control what happened to his family, his home, his destination in the Maquis, the destruction of his own ship. He couldn’t control the scientist or explorer within him. His own battles were internal. What he could not control, he kept inside in his mind, where there he held the degree of control."
"You speak of turbulence, Tuvok. I never got that from him."
"Then perhaps you did not know the commander as well as you thought," Tuvok turned to look at her. "There were angles and routes never taken."
"Routes not taken? What do you mean?"
Tuvok opened the empty container and took a blanket, folding it up, placing it inside. "An observation, captain. While commander Chakotay seemed to know you, I don’t think you fully knew him. I believe you only saw what you own perception would allow."
Kathryn didn’t know how to answer, taking an empty container, and stepping into his bedroom. Not much in here. His medicine bundle beside his bed. She looked around. With a heavy sigh, she began on the closet.
A few hours later, after cleaning out his closet and bathroom, she began on his dresser. The first drawer were personal effects: socks, undershirts, shorts. A small hide pouch, consisting of carving tools. They were kept in perfect condition, ready for their owner.
The next drawer had casual wear in it…including his boxing gloves and his boxing attire. She smiled, remembering how she’d chided him on his hobby. Never, would she dreamed of that man that believed in peaceful solutions, a boxer. She remembered…
"Would you like to come watch, Kathryn? I assure you, you won’t get hurt."
"Maybe next time, Chakotay. I’m so far behind on reports." Yet the reports never got smaller in number…and soon, there weren’t any invitations.
Kathryn sighed, opening the next drawer, taking the whole drawer to the bed, folding the contents, placing them inside the bin, noting the items on a padd and returning the drawer. It continued this way, including hand written notes on paper. She glanced casually, thinking it perhaps a story, or a pre-cursor to a holodeck program he’d never had time to create.
The last drawer was slightly heavier and she took it over. The cargo container wasn’t even halfway full yet…and she thought he had more. Kathryn chuckled at the fact his replicator account was never in deficit…if anything, he had a huge accumulation.
She pulled the slacks, the vests, the colors of earth hues that suited him. The soft shoes held in the bottom. As she removed the last pair of slacks, she looked down, her hands stilling in their folding of the garment.
Setting the slacks inside the container, she reached down slowly, picking up the box. Without taking her eyes from it, she took it into the main room. Long, deep, held with a loosely tied blue ribbon.
Tuvok stopped from his activities at the desk. "What is that, captain?"
"A box, hidden in the bottom of one of drawers, under his clothing." She sat down on the couch, setting the box in front of her. She knew she had to open it, catalogue the contents and tuck it away in the cargo bay where other’s belongings; Sudor, Hogan, Kes’s things were held.
"There must be a logical reason," Tuvok said, rising, coming to stand before her. Kathryn looked up at him, then down again. With shaking hands, her long fingers began untying the bow.
"He was extremely private in some matters."
Kathryn carefully pulled the ribbon from the box and began to set it aside, then picking it up, holding it up to the light. "I thought I lost this," she began, " I searched all over the place for it; under beds, under furniture, behind drawers. I even trekked out into the fields and woods searching where I had been."
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "Indeed. What is it?"
Kathryn smiled. "A hair ribbon. On New Earth, when you had to leave Chakotay and I behind. I would braid one of these into my hair and use the end to tie it off. Shortly before you came for us, it disappeared. We tore that shelter apart," noting Tuvok’s confused look, "not literally, but we turned everything upside down, looking for it. To think, he had it the whole time." She smiled, shaking her head.
Gently, she pulled the top from the box, seeing small things. A padd sat nestled at the top, blinking, ready for the next entry.
Kathryn narrowed her eyes, not completely understanding the whole thing. Why would he hide something like this?
"Perhaps the padd you hold will answer your question," Tuvok said.
"I didn’t realize I’d spoken aloud, Tuvok." She looked up, noting his slow back up toward the door. "No, please don’t leave."
Tuvok nodded once, then took the seat at the end of the table. He folded his hands as Kathryn cleared her throat.
It’s the first night back on Voyager after our exile. I’m glad to be here, but part of me yearns to be back there, feeling the sun and air. Exploring again. Tonight I sit here, this box I carved…well, basically for you, but now, I doubt I will ever give it to you. I think that there is a lot I’d like to give you…but don’t know, don’t want to cross the line.
My box tied with your ribbon.
Small items sit here. A hair ribbon, which was palmed from between your mattress and headboard and tucked away into my boot that night. A piece of your bathtub, A small packet of tomato seeds. Material things that don’t mean much now, but maybe someday will.
Actually, what means the most is the memories. You let me see a part of you that maybe no one else on the ship has seen. It’s one thing I tuck away that I can’t put in a box. I can’t put a price on it, nor wrap it up for future unveilings.
The seeds, I will give to Kes. Along with the sample of Earth you scooped up before our departure. Maybe she can do something with it."
Kathryn reached in, taking a small piece of wood, worn smooth by hands that knew how to work with the grain of wood, who had hid away, carefully making her something mentioned in light heart bantering. She rubbed it with her thumb, noting that no matter how many different ways she’d gotten into the tub, she never received one splinter. She smiled.
I keep finding things to add to this box. Sentimental…things I don’t have the guts to give you in reality. Each item in here, represents just a little more of me, represents just a little of what you give me.
You give me hope. Strange as it seems, you do. I believe in you, though you may think I don’t. Take for example this quill and inkwell…what you wrote your log on that night after we got through the Borg, through species 8472. You made the comment on how it felt good to have something real…tangible.
Even through that all, you gave me hope. Even when you turned your back, determined to go it alone. You were never alone…I just didn’t agree. The reason is simple; I knew what they were capable of. . .how can your memory be so short…knowing that a few months before, I had been used by the collective.
It may be the one feature I wish I could change; your stubborn pride. You may think I don’t know the trials of being a captain, but I do. When I don’t agree with you, it doesn’t mean I don’t stand behind you. It means that someone doesn’t agree.
For the life of me, I can’t explain why you don’t listen. Steadily, I’ve noticed you don’t listen to anyone. Lessons, Kathryn. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t ask for opinions then chastise the person for a different point of view. I admire you…and sometimes, I can’t. But I promised you that I would stand by your side. I have. Though it gets harder sometimes…and I wish I could just stop time…and show you yourself in a mirror when you get this way.
It isn’t pretty, Kathryn."
Kathryn looked up at Tuvok and gave him a queer look. He raised an eyebrow.
I hold in my hands this silver watch. I replicated it months ago for your birthday. The story, which I’ll write out for you, fits us all perfectly. And like Captain Cray of years ago, I have faith. I thought at the time it was the perfect gift for you. Something that proved my faith in you. But I keep getting a strange feeling, a stray thought that you would tell me to recycle it, that I shouldn’t waste rations on things non-essential for you. Though you’d say you’d appreciate it…it would be better used for boots or a hypo-spray. I can’t shake the thought, so I will place it in here…maybe later on I can give it to you without those haunting words within my mind.
The other night I had a dream. I was far away from you, with Tom of all people. We were trying to find a way home. So many things put into that dream; Voyager slowly breaking apart around us. Something about a lucky tea cup. Tuvok blind. The two of us, discussing how we were staying.
Then it changed. I wasn’t there. But you and Neelix were noting damage. You know, that uniform really looks good on him. Well, anyway, you came to my quarters…or at the time I believed so. You walked into them, and something passed over you. Maybe it was the same time I was with Tom…away, millions of miles away. And you and Neelix searched and beneath a pile of debris…you found this watch. You held it, looking at it. You told Neelix that I had given it to you as a present…then you put it on your belt…
I woke up when you said something about "times up" and the watch swung from your waist and Voyager blew up. I awoke with a cold sweat…and that is why I can’t bring myself to give you this."
Kathryn reached in, removing a silver pocket watch. She held it in her hand and read the small note attached with a small string. The legend. She smiled. With Chakotay, there had always been a legend. It was something she liked.
Today, I have nothing to put in this box, only these words. Today, I had to let go. Maybe not so much as I want to believe…but I had to afford you this.
You are a woman, first and foremost, though the captain does tend to take over. I’ve never see you blush as much as you did when you said it was the holodeck. Maybe in some small way, I had—have cause to be jealous. But you can’t be jealous over something you never possessed, right?
Maybe this character, Michael Sullivan, is it, can give you what I can’t. I can give you everything in the galaxy, but I can’t give you that…that small piece of you. To make you happy, I told you I’ve even done it.
Truth is, I’ve never had the guts too. Forgive me, but I find it be a cold way. My luck with women has never been great. You need to look no further then Seska.
I also told you another lie: I know Eldon. I know quite a lot of literature. Then you never really asked. You rarely come to my quarters so it’s impossible to know a person.
I can give you support, a shoulder to lean on, words of wisdom and smile when you are feeling down. I can give you enough rations for a badly needed cup of coffee, a challenge of velocity or a mean game of pool. I can give you an argument and I can give you my opinion. I can give you the stars and laughter. I can give my heart and not ask for anything in return.
But the only thing I couldn’t give you was what you needed and deserved. It was selfish of me to think that after you received your letter from Mark that there was a chance. Too late for me, never to know. I envy him, Kathryn. He has that part of you I can never have, see. I’m to the point where I can’t even dream anymore. So I let go. Enjoy it…because I want you too…not for my own selfish indulgence."
Kathryn wiped her eyes. There was an element within those words that struck her. He had given her gentle teasing and pushing to fulfill her own needs.
"He was good at hiding."
Another of my birthdays has come and gone. Another year older, not necessarily wiser. There is a small part of me that wishes that time would stop. I long for the early days of this adventure. When you confided in me…
My birthday, yet I’m adding to the box—your box. Something that maybe you should have known about years ago…struck from my record. Tuvok knows.
It’s strange, Kathryn. All these years, I’ve wanted to go home. Just to see familiar stars and faces again. But as I write these words, I realize my priorities are not the same anymore. There is nothing at home for me. No home, no family living. There is nothing here in the Delta Quadrant either, that I desire.
And I find there is nothing I truly desire on Voyager anymore.
I went to Fair Haven today, stopped by the Pub. I see why you like him. He can be everything I can’t be. He is kind, wonderful. Perfection as you perceive it. Though I have to say, here and now, there is no such thing as a perfect man. We all have flaws.
Mine is simple enough. I should have went further all those years back. ‘It made it easier to say’, I told you. Not really. To you, I will always be a subordinate, under your command. I’ve never spoken of it, never told you, told anyone. I kept it hidden, hoping maybe I would find that perfect moment to tell you.
But like the perfect man, the perfect moment doesn’t exist either.
We’re only perfect twice in a life time; when we take that first breath of air and the last. Then, the pieces fall together and it’s there.
I gave you silence…though it was on the tip of my tongue many times. But I couldn’t afford to let you make that decision. But you proved you could—when you diverted power from the holodeck…you could do it then. In reality, it would have been the same. But I held my breath.
Kathryn, there are a lot of things I regret in my life. The biggest was never telling you. And I can’t now, either.
I want to thank you for giving me the hope and opportunity to work with a truly phenomenal captain. You make me believe anything is possible. Anything is worth fighting for.
I only wish I had fought for you."
Kathryn wiped her eyes again, the tears flowing down her face. "I never knew, never let him in. I told him what I wanted to, punished him for his beliefs, even when I knew I was wrong. I didn’t feel it when he stopped asking…and I didn’t notice how he never brought it up." She looked at Tuvok, who was watching her.
"Captain, in the bottom of the box."
Kathryn removed items. Gifts that he found for her: hair clips made from shells, small wood carvings of frames and small boxes. Things she had mentioned, maybe once. The box was full of things like this. Even hand written notes that dated May 20th. Small gifts never given for Prixin, or Valentine’s Day. Years of gifts hidden away, never given to her.
"The only thing I can’t give you. . ."
Too many things not given. She pulled out an item roughly the size of a padd, wrapped loosely in the shredded remains of what looked to be a Starfleet uniform top. Kathryn unwrapped it gently. Something small fell to the floor, but before she could pick it up, her thumb brushed upon the activator. The screen came to life. Her hand stopped half-way to the floor, then she smiled, reading.
It is my pleasure to inform you of your pending promotion. Congratulations, Commander. You have been chosen, and recommended for the following post:
Again, congratulations, Captain. Please report to Starbase. . ."
Kathryn looked up, then reached down, picking up a small packet. Opening up the drawstring, she shook four tiny command pips out into her cupped palm. She read the letter again and looked down.
"Why didn’t he ever say anything, Tuvok?"
"Because he never wanted to undermine your command. The next day, he was sent back to his home after receiving word of the destruction of his village. He tendered his resignation shortly there after, keeping that as a reminder of what he had given up." Kathryn looked back down, her thumb moving over the pips. "He was a captain. . ."
Tuvok sat forward, taking the padd. "He kept a small pouch beside his command chair on the Maquis vessel. It went everywhere with him. Before his suicide run to buy Voyager time, Lieutenant Torres beamed aboard with it in her hands."
"He was a captain. . ."
"Yes, captain. Not just a captain of a Maquis vessel, but would have been one of our leaders in the Federation. Not only was Commander Chakotay you first officer, he was your equal."
Kathryn blinked many times. The doctor had told her upon her flirtations on the holodeck that she couldn’t be involved with a member of the crew, since she was the captain…and they were all subordinates.
If only she’d known.
"Why didn’t he tell me?"
"Because he trusted your judgment. He didn’t believe he deserved it. He was content to let things go. His promotion came through when you were still serving as science officer under Admiral Paris. Commander Chakotay had a bright future."
Kathryn looked down. He was her equal, yet she never saw it. Never let it though. Never asked.
Picking up the first padd, she read down. It was dated the night he had died. Only a few short hours before his last breath in this place.
There comes a time in every mans life when he asks himself is there more. There is none for me. Days drag into nights. Dreams mix with reality.
There was a lot I never told you about myself. A lot you never asked. A man is a mix of complexities and never ending turns.
I’ve thought many times of just asking you to leave me on some uninhabited M-Class world. But I won’t.
I said I would stay by your side. And I will. I take your burdens and make them my own. And I do it with every ounce of respect. After all, I can’t turn away. You make me what I am. There is so much I wish to tell you.
But its the one thing I can’t give you….me."