Heíll Understand

Disclaimer: Mr. Berman, didnít you learn your lesson with Unforgettable. Why do you cheapen Chakotay so? You can keep them if your going to treat them like that.

"Heíll Understand"

By Mindy


It was an accident. Of that Iím sure. Okay, maybe not an accident. But I didnít go into the Jeffreyís tube with the intention of falling and bumping my head, cracking a couple of ribs and breaking a leg. Doc kept telling me about how I needed to slow down, see where my feet were going.

"Sure." I answered. I thought that BíElanna had a death wish. I was wrong. I feel like I have one, too. Maybe itís catching.

I wasnít paying attention. Simple as that. My mind was on Chakotay. Stupid. ĎOh, go ahead, have fun on your fling.í I donít. . .canít fault him, I guess. After all, itís not as if Iíve ever given him the go ahead to pursue me. Itís just now, more then ever. . .it. . . hurts.

Iíve never been a woman that needed a man. I just never felt I had to lean on anyone to help me keep my perspective. Put this into a picture, Kathryn. Weíre best friends. Close confidants. Co-workers. So, why take it further?

Damnation. Itís not as if I hadnít thought of it. I have. But we have such a precocious relationship. Built on trust, built on understanding, mutual respect.

When I found out exactly what heíd been involved with, I almost lost it. For Godís sake. . .I was hit by one of their blasts on the Borg ship. I could have died. What about Harry? Harry could have died from one encounter with them. Kes. . .my little pixie. . .her contact with them heightened her telepathic abilities which made her leave us before her time.

One word Chakotay. Control. You have no excuse. Just because I wonít Ďput outí, doesnít mean I donít care. Iím the one who has to be clearheaded. You find a woman whoíll give you a tumble and wham! It hits me like an earthquake. It hurts Chakotay. Really it does. I may not show it but itís there.

Maybe you think Iím unfeeling. Maybe you think Iím unreachable. Iím not.

So, I sit here in sickbay, waiting for Doc to let me go. Harry comes in and offers to see me back to my quarters. I take him up on his offer.

"Whatís good for the goose. . ." I begin.

"Captain?" Harry asks.

"Whatís good for the goose is good for the gander." An old earth saying." I say, limping along slightly beside him.

"Ah. I see." He said. Not saying anymore, Harry said multitudes.

As we go past Chakotayís quarters, I hear the his door open. I ignore it. He didnít even have the courtesy to come and see how I was.

Harry stopped at my door. "If there is anything I can do for you, captain, let me know." I smiled, patted his shoulder and limped into my quarters. I was tired, but too tired to sleep. I sat on my couch, my leg stretched out in front of me, staring at the stars. Seems it wasnít that long ago I was in here, in the dark, telling Chakotay I had no desire to play games with him on the holodeck. If only I had taken him up on his offer.

If only.

My door chimes. I know itís him. Iím not really ready to talk to him; to see him. Iím still upset, Iím still hurt in more ways then one. But I know heíll override my door if I donít let him in, so I do.

"Come."

He steps inside my quarters, just enough for the door to slide shut behind him. I donít look at him. I rub my side where my ribs had cracked. It was still tender.

"Kathryn." He says. Thatís all he says.

"If you donít mind, Chakotay, Iím not really in the mood for any heart to heart discussions." I say quietly.

"But I feel. . ."

"So do I." I look up at him for the first time. Heís still in the shadows. "And Iím not feeling so hot right now. So if you donít mind, Iíd really like to be alone."

Silence followed that statement and I went back to watching the stars. I donít know how long we stayed like that.

"What happened?" He said.

"I fell. Simple accident." Yeah, and tell him that your mind wasnít on the rungs of the ladder. Tell him you were thinking about him.

"Iím sorry."

"Itís a little too late for that, Chakotay." I looked up at him. "Every time, we end up having this same discussion. Let me guess; you feel guilty, you feel used. Thatís it in a nutshell, isnít it."

"I guess." He whispered.

"So, I guess youíll have to forgive me if Iím not in a talkative mood." I got up slowly, wincing slightly. I took a step toward my bedroom. "I think you know the way to the door, Chakotay. Good night."

I took another step and felt something give on my side. Damn rib. I fought it, but it was such a sensation.

"Kathryn?"

"Please, just leave me alone." I turned, my face probably betraying a whole lot more then my pain from my fall. "You want me to forgive you, itís not that easy. You want me to feel sorry for you; that youíve been used. Fine. You made your bed, Chakotay. Now you have to lie in it." I took a step closer to him. Iíd hurt him, but right now, I didnít give a God damn.

"Kathryn. . ."

"No. Weíre friends. Nothing more, nothing less."

"Nothing more, nothing less." He repeated.

"Just answer me one thing. Does it ever occur to you that love just doesnít happen overnight?" I cocked my head and rubbed at my side again.

"Of course it has."

"Then why do you continue to do it? Let women use you?" I didnít let him finish. Four years of pain, four years of denial, four years of regret hit me then. I wasnít going to forgive and forget. Not this time. "You never give me a chance. Did you ever stop to think about why I donít pursue something with you?"

He shifted on his feet. He was uncomfortable now. Good.

"Iím tired of fighting this battle with you. You stray, then you come crawling back to me like some adulterous husband, wanting retribution for your sins. You think that coming back here makes everything all right. It doesnít."

I stepped up to him. "What would you think if I did the exact same thing? You would walk around like a wounded puppy dog. Iíve had opportunities and havenít taken one up yet. But you. . ."

"Now wait just a minute, Kathryn. . ."Oh, no. Iíd been silent too damn long.

"No, you wait a minute. Do you think I should just sit idly by and watch you get hurt time after time after time? Itís bullshit Chakotay, and I donít need, nor want it."

He turned to leave then. If ever a wedge had been put between us, I had just done it. Big time. I reached out for him, but it happened then. Something pulled loose in my side and all I could see was white. My hearing became static and all I felt was white hot pain. The floor rushed at me and from far away, I heard a voice.

"Kathryn."

I donít know how long I was out. Nor do I care. All I knew was that I awoke in my bed. Covered by my blankets, my body aching and covered in a cold sweat. My side throbbed. Then I saw him, in a chair pulled over. His legs were stretched out in front of him, arms crossed over his chest. Chin resting on his chest. Sound asleep. I tried to get up, but only succeeded in falling back on my bed with a groan.

"Let that be a lesson to you." He said.

I looked at him and narrowed my eyes. "Go away."

"No."

"I said leave. I donít need you."

"Yes you do."

"No. I donít need you for anything."

His face took on this most hurt look. Good. He deserved it. Heíd hurt me. "Kathryn, youíre being unfair."

"No, Iím not."

"Are."

"Look, just leave me alone. Weíre friends. You go and do whatever you want, with anyone you want. I donít want to hear about it, know about it or anything else. I donít want you crawling in here, looking for redemption when your heart gets broken. I donít want to listen to your excuses."

"If thatís the way you want it? Fine, Kathryn." He turned to leave.

"No." I whispered. "I donít. I just wanted to say it, get it out." I turned on my side, away from him. "Whatís good for the goose is good for the gander."

"What?" He asked.

"Nothing. Just an old saying." I said. I closed my eyes and pretended to go back to sleep. I felt his hand on my forehead, his breath on my face. I felt the ghost of kiss against my cheek.

"Iím sorry Kathryn. Sorry for everything Iíve ever done to hurt you."

"Chakotay?" I asked as I heard him leave.

"Yes?"

I needed the last word. Had to have it. "What goes around, comes around. Just remember that."

With that, I went to sleep. One way or another, Chakotay would find out what it felt like to be betrayed whole heartedly by one you supposedly love. I would seek a way. Heís not the only one who can have a liaison.

Then maybe heíll understand.

**Finish**



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