Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC 17.  Kids go play elsewhere.  Contains adult material.

Summary:     Tired of waiting for Kathryn, Chakotay pulls out of her life.  Kathryn

                      struggles by on her own and Chakotay regrets his decision but before he           

                      can do anything, Kathryn is arrested for murder on an alien planet and

                      sentenced to be executed. 




Chakotay stormed into his quarters, Kathryn’s words still ringing in his ears, her actions deeply imprinted on his memory.  He badly missed hinged doors at times like this, giving him something to slam and take his temper out on. 

He stormed around the room looking for anything that would smash but suddenly the thought came to him that it just wasn’t worth it, that SHE wasn’t worth it and instead he slumped down on the floor, his back against the wall and silently stewed.  His anger washed over him and he let it. 

Damn the woman.  She’d gone too far this time and nothing now would make him forget or forgive.  He felt some shame for the words he had spoken but he let his anger drown it out.  It dawned on him that maybe he was the one who had gone too far, not this evening but in constantly trying with her.  Every time he tried to further their relationship, she slapped him back down and yet he still came back for more.  He wondered where his masochistic streak had come from and realized that he hadn’t had it when he came aboard Voyager years ago, that it had developed slowly along with his love for her.  Love was supposed to nurture and strengthen but instead with her he found it debilitating and soul destroying and he knew at this moment that it had to stop before it tore him apart and took with it the last vestige of pride he had left.

He finally got up and replicated some herbal tea for himself, knowing he had to calm himself before he could sort matters in his head.  He wished he was a drinker, able to hide behind the haze of alcohol until the problem waned a bit but he also knew that when the effects faded, those same troubles were always still there, not gone but hiding on you, waiting to pounce.  He sat and sipped the soothing beverage slowly and let his mind wander back over the evening.

Neelix had once again come up with some obscure holiday they all simply had to celebrate and he remembered Kathryn’s arrival on the holodeck.  His had not been the only head that turned upon her entrance but he was the only one with the nerve to approach her and ask her to dance.  Tom had looked only too willing to try but B’Elanna’s firm grip on his arm had made him think otherwise.

She had been in a strange but happy mood all week, ever since their narrow escape from the Darvaan, a hostile race who had appeared bent on destroying them for no other reason then the fact that they were there.  Chakotay had stood back a little and watched her, having seen this change before.  Whenever they had a close call, Kathryn always bounced back with what could almost be described as overkill.  It was as if she needed to reaffirm life, prove to herself that she was alive and convince herself and the crew that she was happy and on top of everything.  Whenever this occurred, she was always more attentive to him, inviting him for dinner and generally including him in areas of her life normally off limits to him.  Usually within a further week, she would revert back to normal and carry on as if nothing had changed.

Tonight she was up and he remembered leading her to the centre of the floor, soft music drifting over them and she had walked into his arms, her buoyant mood infecting him.  Over this past week, Chakotay had once more found his hopes rising that maybe this time, she was letting the walls down and was finally going to let him into her life.  He knew from previous experience this was unlikely but hope sprung eternal.  She moved against him as her perfume entranced him and the feel of the soft skin of her back against his hand burned into him. 

The dress she wore was one he hadn’t seen before but he knew it was also one he would never forget.  It was black satin and it flowed around her to just below the knee.  It could barely be described as respectable and just about covered what should not have been shown.  The fabric seemed to have a mind of it’s own and it’s thoughts took it to every curve on Kathryn’s body, hugging them tightly.  As they danced slowly, she had pressed against his chest with the result that Chakotay had a perfect view down the front of the plunging neckline and that view was one that made controlling himself almost impossible. 

He suddenly pulled her towards the bar, needing to draw back a bit and regain some control.  Kathryn suddenly was the one leading the way and within a short space of time had knocked back several drinks which he knew were not synthehol. 

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for him.  They danced and chatted, flirted and played silly games, until they were the last ones left on the holodeck.  Eventually at her suggestion, they ended up on the small balcony off the main room which had been programmed in for this celebration.

Kathryn was quite drunk and they both knew it.  She swayed gently, using her lack of balance as an excuse to hold onto his arm.  They stood against the surround of the balcony and he watched her face as she gazed up at the full moon, thinking she had never looked more beautiful to him than she did at that precise moment.

Without conscious thought, he found himself leaning towards her and as she turned to him, he brushed his lips gently across hers.  For a moment, one sweet moment, she stayed in place and returned the kiss, even deepening it until she felt his arm go around her, then almost as if someone had dumped cold water over her, she pulled away, her face angry now.

“Just what the hell was that?”  She leaned against the balcony now for balance.

“I could be wrong but to the best of my knowledge, it’s called a kiss.”  He smiled. 

“That’s not what I mean and you know it.”  She pulled back further.

“Kathryn just what the hell is wrong with you?   I thought you wanted this…”  Without warning he felt her hand strike his face.

“Did I ask for it?”  She got no further and suddenly found her anger overpowered by his as he rubbed at his face.

“No, not in words but certainly in actions.”  His glare dared her to interrupt him and he saw her shrink back a little.  “All night we’ve played your little game.  You’ve flirted and come on to me all evening, brought me out here, held on to me.  What was I suppose to think?”

Finally she cut in, her Captain mode in place and all appearance of the alcohol dissipating quickly from her demeanour.

“We’re suppose to be friends and friends can flirt.  Chakotay, if you can’t tell the difference…”  He moved on her and grabbed her arms and thought he saw fright in her eyes for a split second.

“Friends are supposed to respect each other, not inflict torture.  Damn it, you know how I feel about you and you carry on like this….  Kathryn, I’m only human.  What did you expect?  It wasn’t just me either.  Have you any idea of the effect that dress had on every man here tonight?”  She looked down at herself and shrugged.  That action alone sent his temper to boiling point.

“Oh don’t pretend, don’t insult me like that.  You knew exactly what they’d all think but you don’t give a damn.  You certainly knew what it would do to me but you don’t care about that either.  You play your game with me, use me even…”  Kathryn just rolled her eyes and turned away but he quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him.

“Don’t you dare act that way with me.  You know bloody well what I mean.  You’re playing a dangerous game Kathryn and you’ve just lost.  I’ve seen you like this before, usually after a dangerous mission or something.  That’s when you want to feel alive again and when you need me.  I’m also useful to you when you need a partner for these functions or a lap dog at your side on official visits.  You flirt with me and come on to me when you need to feel like a woman for a while and then it’s back to business, back to being Captain and I’m suppose to follow your lead and act accordingly, wait around until the next time.”  He was almost beyond control now and she was suddenly scared.

“There’s a name for women like you, did you know that?”  She shook her head, afraid to say anything that might anger him more. He brought his face closer to hers.

“Prick tease.” 

Her eyes widened that he would speak to her like this and he saw her shock and the fear that came with it.  He instantly regretted what he had said but the words were already out, a bell he couldn’t unring.  He pulled back and suddenly brought his hand to her face, gently running his finger up and down her cheek.  When he spoke, his words dripped with a mixture of sarcasm and anger.

“Oh don’t worry Kathryn, I won’t ever do anything to hurt you and you know that.  That you even think I would pains me.  What I will do is warn you now for your own good.  Think very carefully before you ever do this again.  I don’t mean with me because there won’t be a next time with me.  Think before you ever try this with anyone, because in the future, your next victim might not be such a gentleman.”  He pulled back completely but she stayed rooted to the spot.

“Chakotay…I’m sorry…I never meant…”

“No, you never do.  You never mean and you never think, certainly not beyond yourself.  Well it ends right here.  I’m done being there for your convenience, being a date or escort when you need one, a shoulder, a holodeck partner, someone to bolster your ego when you want that, make you feel a woman, even someone to nod and agree that you’re right with whatever it might be.  I’m surprised you haven’t hired me to use as a sex slave but then I suppose you use the holodeck for that, no involvement…”  He had hit a nerve and she ran for him but he sidestepped her. 

“The truth hurts doesn’t it?  Good, because you know I wasn’t sure you could actually feel anything.”  She was crying now more from rage than anything but was determined to defend herself.

“That’s not true.  I don’t use you….”  He laughed, making her more angry.  “Damn you, I don’t.  I know what you want, what this is all about.  You’re supposed to be my friend, always be there for me, giving me support.  You were the one who told me I wasn’t alone…”  He rushed to her now.

“You expect me to be alone though, don’t you?  Any time I ever show an interest in starting a relationship with someone else, you’re always there on the sidelines, looking all hurt and sad.  When it fails, usually because I can’t stand to see you like that, you back off again.  You don’t want me but you sure as hell don’t want anyone else to have me either.”

“Chakotay, I can’t… the rules…Starfleet…”  He grabbed her again.

“Don’t you dare hide behind all that crap.  That’s always been your excuse to avoid getting involved.   It’s like you want to and start off reeling me in only to change your mind and cast me loose again.  For the past week and not for the first time, you’ve given me hope again and now this.  It’s cruel and you know it.  Maybe you can’t help it or maybe it’s just some game with you, a power thing to see how long I’ll play along or maybe you just don’t want to, that you just can’t face the loss of control having to share with someone might bring and this way you get the best of both worlds.  Well no more Kathryn.  This ends here tonight.  I’ll be your First Officer but nothing else.”  He stood back and turned away from her.

“Chakotay don’t be like this.  We can be good friends…”  She saw herself lose him and it scared her to the depths of her soul.

“No Kathryn, we can’t.  I’m not strong enough for that anymore.  We can be friendly but we can’t be friends…”  He suddenly felt her grab at him and pull him to her.

“If it’s sex you want…”   She pulled at the front of her dress, dragging it downwards, exposing herself to him.  It was the final insult for him and he turned away.

“You think I just want your body, you arrogant bitch?”  He paused before speaking more softly.  “Cover yourself Kathryn, before I lose the last ounce of respect I have left for you.”  He turned back at the sound of her sobbing.

“I’m actually sorry to hurt you, at least that’s the way it appears.  It’s hard to know with you what you feel, even if you feel.  If it’s only a fraction of the hurt you caused me, then I’m sorry but I can’t do this any longer.  You can just find someone else to traipse around after you because I can’t do it anymore.  I’ve lost every trace of self-respect and pride I ever had in myself because of you, all of what made me a man.  You’ve broken me Kathryn, coming on one minute and pulling back the next, playing with my feelings and using them and don’t deny that because you know in your heart, if you have one, that you do all of that.  Well think on this, now you can be alone and I hope you enjoy it.  Goodbye Kathryn.”  He turned and walked off the holodeck, leaving her slumped on the floor, crying out after him.

Kathryn stayed as she was long after Chakotay had left.  Pain ran through her as her tears continued to come.  She hurt badly, not just at what he had said but because it had hit the mark.  She knew he was right, that she had deserved his cruel words. 

Eventually she dragged herself up off the floor and ordered a site to site to her quarters.  The last thing she needed now was for some crewmember to see her in this state.  Once in her quarters, she stumbled to her bedroom and fell limply across her bed, not bothering to undress.  She cried quietly to herself, not wanting Chakotay to hear her from the other side of the bulkhead.  His words swirled around in her mind and she painfully acknowledged them all for the truth they were.  She knew she wanted him in her life and tried so hard to let him in, only to find within a short space of time that something always stopped her, made her pull back and she could never put a name to it. 

As her mind slowly cleared of the alcohol, she lay awake re-living Chakotay’s words over and over.  Each point he had made came to her and she guiltily admitted how right he had been on each one.  She did need to get away from the Captain now and then and knew she used him to make her feel like a woman instead of a leader, the superhuman deliverer she felt she had to be for the crew.  Dressing as she had tonight helped her feel feminine and she knew she should have every right to dress as she pleased but she hadn’t stopped to think about the effect it would have on him and the message it might give and she now conceded how unfair that was. 

Protocol and rules had been ingrained on her for her entire life, to the extent that she had practically been weaned on them and she found it almost impossible to let them go, despite knowing that out here they just didn’t apply in the way they would have back home.  She also acknowledged that fear of getting hurt and losing him controlled her too.  She had been raised and trained never to show weakness and realized that she had let this pour over into her personal life.

Other realizations came to her and terrified her.  She knew now she had taken Chakotay for granted, assuming that he would always be there for her, even wait for her but now she knew that she had pushed too far this time, that he had his breaking point and had finally reached it.

As ship’s morning dawned, she was still awake but she had confronted a lot of her personal demons and resolved a lot of issues.  For a brief moment she felt better until the darkest cloud of all passed over her.  Kathryn realized that she had left it too late, that this revelation was useless to her now.  Chakotay had made himself clear where he now stood and there was no room for her in his circle anymore. 

Her alarm went off and she ordered it to re-set for 24 hours then dragged herself up and pulled herself to the bathroom.  The image in the mirror which met her scared her deeply.  With her makeup smeared and her hair dishevelled, she saw herself for what she was, a sad and aging woman, loneliness and bitterness eating away at her, destroying what could have been.  As she set about trying to exorcise the image before her, she talked herself into a small chance that perhaps she could still talk to Chakotay, explain to him what she had learned from his words and her long night of self analysis and a small hope grew in her.  It was all that would get her through.

Most of that hope died as she entered the bridge an hour later.  Chakotay sat in his place, absorbed in his work, barely acknowledging her presence with a polite nod. 

“Commander, could I see you in my ready room please?”  She barely controlled her voice.  He stood, still not meeting her eyes.

“Aye Captain.”  He said nothing more, following her and his manner was not lost on her.  When the door had closed behind them, he stood to attention in front of her desk, still refusing to look at her.

“Chakotay please sit down.  This isn’t business.”  If she was going to say more, she never got the chance.

“Captain if it’s not ship’s business then I’d rather return to duty.”  He hadn’t changed his posture from the moment he had stood stiffly in front of her.

“Chakotay please.  Just hear me out.  Last night….”  He interrupted, his face angry.

“Last night is over.  Nothing happened nor ever will.  This is my last word on this so hear me well.  You are the Captain and I’m your First Officer.  There is nothing outside of that for us to discuss.  Permission to return to duty Captain?”

She simply nodded as he made a quick exit.  He had made his point and she had no choice but to go along with it.  With his exit, all her hope left with him, leaving in its wake an empty shell.

Over the following weeks, Chakotay was the consummate professional but nothing more.  He increased his social life and mingled easily with the entire crew, spending most of his evenings on the holodeck either shooting pool or joining in a card game.  He occasionally dated and ignored the looks which frequently came his way from Tom, B’Elanna and the other senior staff. 

Kathryn never witnessed this side of him although she was well aware of it.  Voyager was a small ship where gossip was concerned and most of it eventually made it’s way to her ears.  She now spent all her evenings shut away in her quarters, licking her wounds and wallowing in her self-pity and loneliness.  If Chakotay knew how she spent her off duty hours, he never acknowledged the fact. 

She was functioning well enough as Captain but the strain of their situation was slowly making itself felt and started to manifest itself with her on duty.  She occasionally appeared unsure of a decision, taking just a little longer to give an order and started to spend most of her shifts in her ready room.  Only the bridge crew noticed the change in her but no one dared to speak of it.

Chakotay was well aware of the effect his decision was having on her and hardened himself to it.  It pained him to see the way she was becoming, knowing he was the cause but he knew deep inside that the game they had played was finished, that to give in now would only resurrect that which was best left buried.  He mourned at the graveside of what could have been then moved on.

Kathryn was miserable, loneliness eating away at her like a cancer.  Tom and B’Elanna, even Harry and Tuvok encouraged her to join them off duty but she constantly declined, citing reports or tiredness as an excuse to avoid contact with anyone.  She knew if she gave in, she would only have to sit and watch Chakotay move on and knew she wasn’t strong enough for that.  Day by day, all this ate away at her and she felt it was only a matter of time before there would be nothing left.  She knew now without her friend to fall back on, she was nothing and she wondered when she had become so weak, so dependent on him and then like a sledge hammer striking it’s mark, the reason for all this came to light.  She was in love with him and it was too late.

Eventually the rest of the crew started to notice the change in their Captain and even the Doctor grew concerned for her.  Kathryn saw their pity whenever she toured the ship and slowly reduced contact, delegating wherever possible.

Within a month of this, every crewmember felt the fallout of Chakotay’s decision.  People did their jobs and socialized but there was something lacking.  The glue that held them all together, made them feel safe, was slowly coming undone and the insecurities of the early days of their journey came back.  The relationship between their Captain and Commander, whether personal or professional, needed to be strong, a foundation for the building of a happy crew, and now a large crack had formed, threatening the entire structure.

The longer it went on, the more Chakotay regretted his decision but what pride he felt he had been left with won over.  At first, he had been convinced that Kathryn’s behaviour was just another round of her game but as time wore on, he saw that she was no longer playing, that she really was deeply affected by the situation.  He found it difficult to comprehend that the woman he had known, the strong Starfleet Captain, could be rendered weak by this.

It was B’Elanna who finally cornered him about the matter.  As he sat in a quiet corner of the mess hall one evening, he suddenly looked up when a shadow fell across him.  What he saw was one angry Klingon/Human with a lot on her mind.

At her firm insistence, they went to his quarters where he found himself telling her everything, revealing all he had been keeping in over the last two months, even since his arrival on board and what he got in return was a mixture of anger and sympathy.

“I can’t believe you said those things to her Chakotay.  How could you?”  He shook his head sadly.

“It was just my anger.  Do you think I’m proud of it, that I don’t regret my words?  I know I hurt her badly and I have to live with that but B’El, she hurt me too, has been hurting me for a long time now.”  It was his only defence.  B’Elanna was going to have her say though.

“Look, I’m not going to judge either of you here.  You did what you did because you were hurt and angry.  She however, is a very lonely woman and before you say it, I know she doesn’t have to be but look what she comes from, her background.  She can change that any time she wants to and knows that.  It isn’t as if no one has ever offered.  I know she feels alone, that she believes she has to take the whole load on her shoulders despite knowing that no one person can be that strong, can carry that load, but she goes on believing she can because that has been the way of it her entire life.  She knows deep down it’s impossible and that’s why she leans on you.  I think she also still feels responsible for us being here and that won’t ever change.”  Chakotay knew her words were the truth.

“She feels closer to you than any of us, depends on you.  You are probably the only one in her eyes who can give her what we can’t and I don’t mean a relationship but the kind of friendship none of us are able to provide, at least in her eyes.  As next in command, she can discuss with you things she could never speak of with anyone else.  Maybe Tuvok but there’s hardly affection there and at the end of the day, I believe she needs that more than anything.” 

Chakotay’s pain was written in every line on his face.  The more he thought about it, he realized his friend was right, that no one could shoulder all that she had over so many years, that in the end, something would have to give and now without something or rather someone, namely himself, to rest against and lean on when needed, she was starting to crumble, the weight of it all bearing down on her.

“Chakotay, I can’t talk to you about any relationship, but friendship, she needs that more than anything, someone to turn to, lean on, just be there when she needs that, some one person she can let her guard down in front of.  You have to accept that she’s only human as are you.  I know you hurt too and your actions were about trying to preserve yourself if you like but I guess I’m asking you to be stronger than your own need and put her needs first.  She’s alone, hurt and she needs her friend.”  Chakotay broke across her.

“And I only increased that, left her more alone than ever.  I’ve really let her down this time…”  B’Elanna cut him off again.

“I’m not finished.  That was one side only.  You did the only thing you could.  The hand of friendship, in all it’s different ways, had been offered to her many times but she always stands back, having to be what she falsely believes we want her to be.  You are both the hurters in this situation.  You’re also…a made up word if you like…you’re also both the ‘hurtee’ here.  Both of you are to blame for this.  We all see how she is with you and how hurt you are each time she steps back into her cocoon again.  I know she sees how you feel about her and consciously or unconsciously, the latter I believe, she either uses that or ignores it.  Maybe she’s just afraid of appearing weak to the crew if it looks as if she needs someone but in the end, she only appears I guess, stupid.  Perhaps that’s the wrong word but we all see you hurt each other time and again, the going forward and then back.  However, you both need to start again now and try and get past all that.  You really need each other and this ship and this crew needs you.  I know you love her and that love has to win out over your pride.  Is keeping that pride intact more important then hurting someone you love?”  She sat back. 

“When did you ever get so wise, little Maquis girl?”  She smiled at him.

“Oh life experience, a good Maquis Captain, a good Starfleet Captain and a certain cocky pilot, take your pick or combine them.”  Chakotay pulled her to him and gained strength from the embrace.

“Thank you.”  She pulled back gently.

“You’re welcome, my friend.  Just know we’re all always here for you both and you can pass that on.”  She stood, leaving him with his thoughts.

He sat long into the night thinking of B’Elanna’s wise words and knew the solution was in his hands, that at least he could meet halfway.  He knew he had to offer friendship again, despite the pain it would cause, but seeing Kathryn as she was now, her face gaunt from lack of sleep and hardly eating, only caused a greater pain.

Before he ever got to present his olive branch, the situation changed and events took a turn that none of them could ever have predicted but the repercussions of which would live with them all a long time.