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


Rating:            PG13.


Summary:       God, I hate trying to write summaries LOL.
                     This is mainly an angst story but there are babies in there.  I wouldn’t
                     call it a babyfic but that’s your decision….
                       
                     Back on Earth, Chakotay gets a visitor who makes him face his past, a past where
                     he turned his back on Kathryn when she needed him most.  Now she needs him
                     again.  Can he get past his own pain and guilt in order to be there for her this time? 


Note:

This story has taken a long time to finish and I left it and came back to it many times.  Finally it was finished – with much help (and persuasion).

So – thanks a million to –

Judy – my ever patient beta who read and re-read this and made so many helpful and useful suggestions and corrections, of which there were many.  She cracked her whip when needed, even when I probably drove her to madness.  Thanks, my friend – for everything.  I’d be lost without you.

Gine – who also read and re-read this until I was sure she’d hit me with it.  She became my mirror so many times as I worked through this.  Dear SS, your encouragement and friendship have been beyond words.  And…  You know what I mean.




MEMORIES AND DREAMS.

By Katlady.



Part Two.




Chakotay spent his evening the way he spent all his evenings, looking after his young daughter.  He studied her as she lay on the rug and smiled, remembering Elizabeth Fulton’s words that she was his double.  She’d been right, and it sometimes saddened him that there was little if no resemblance to Louise in the child.

He made a face at the baby and received a smile and a gurgle in return, making his heart swell.  His entire world was wrapped up in this little one, but he knew he wouldn’t change a thing except maybe to have Louise there to share her. 

As he played with the little girl and prepared her for her bath and bed, his mind constantly returned to his earlier visitor.  Their entire conversation played itself over and over in his mind, stirring memories and feelings he wanted to forget forever.

Making a conscious effort to put it from his mind, he tucked Rose into bed and switched on her mobile, smiling as her face lit up at the soft music and dancing lights and teddies.  He watched her struggle to stay awake to enjoy the show, but sleep quickly won and within minutes, she was asleep, her thumb finding its way to her mouth.

He watched his daughter sleep for several minutes before switching on the baby monitor and returning downstairs.  He replicated a light dinner and took his time over it, the evening stretching before him. 

Finally he could find nothing more to occupy himself and sat down wearily on the couch, glancing towards the monitor at the sound of a small sigh.  When no further sounds came he sat back and allowed his mind to finally travel back.

Everything he’d told Elizabeth Fulton had been the truth.  The memories assaulted him again now…the call coming in…the panic…Kathryn lying in sickbay…so much blood…her cries.  Later, of course, the Doctor telling him that the baby was gone.  He remembered storming out of sickbay, not even asking how Kathryn was.  He had returned to their quarters and immediately moved his belongings back to his old rooms.

The following day he’d finally agreed with the Doctor to be present when he spoke with Kathryn.  Not once had she met his eyes and that had angered him even more.  He remembered the Doctor’s words, about the complications during surgery and there being no more children.  Questions screamed for answers in his mind and no one was asking them.  He remembered thinking that Kathryn would want to know what the baby had been, but when she didn’t ask he demanded the answer for himself.  The Doctor had been uncomfortable, reluctant to answer.  Finally he handed over a padd and it was there that he read about his son, knowing the gender making the baby more real.  Pain had slammed into him at the knowledge.

After that it was almost a blur.  He remembered saying that he was finished there, had no more business there and had a ship to run, never once looking at the woman on the biobed, unconcerned for how she was taking everything she’d been told.  In truth, he had been afraid to look at her.  He’d turned and walked away, never once looking back.

Over the next month he had refused to see her, his pain and anger growing rather than receding.  He saw Tuvok and the others watching him with deep sadness, but they knew better than to speak to him about it. 

When Kathryn had returned to duty a month later, she’d called him to her ready room.  One look at his face probably told her to stick to ship’s business.  At that moment he turned his heart to stone where Kathryn Janeway was concerned, speaking only when absolutely necessary and delegating business with the captain where possible.  Kathryn never questioned it and had no choice but to accept it.  Their relationship had died with their child.

When they finally got home eighteen months later he was married to Louise, Tuvok having performed the ceremony, and his wife was five months pregnant.  Not once had he stopped to even wonder how much hurt and pain Kathryn might have been feeling. 

He had seen Kathryn during the first two days of debriefings while they’d awaited the decision on their fate.  Several times he’d caught her watching him, sadness etched deeply on her face, but he’d turned away immediately.  After that they were interviewed separately and he hadn’t seen her again.  At the end of the week he was offered a promotion, which he accepted.  He had a wife and baby to think about and needed the work.  He also learned that Kathryn had resigned, simply walked away.  The news shocked him somewhat, but he pushed his feelings aside.  He had his own life now and that life did not include Kathryn Janeway.

And now it was all coming back to haunt him.  Time had eased some of his pain, had taken the edge off his anger and bitterness, but he knew he’d kept it fed instead of letting it go.

He shook his head and stood, stretching the stiffness from his body.  He looked towards the mantle to the picture of his late wife and smiled.  She had never questioned him about his feelings for their captain, but he always sensed her disapproval at the anger and bitterness he harboured.

“You always thought I was wrong.  You were a far better person than I’ll ever be.”  He smiled at her image.  “What would you want me to do?”

The answer was already there.  He remembered their last time together, just before she died.  She’d begged him to someday find a mother for their daughter, to not stay alone or married to a memory.  And she’d pleaded with him to free himself from all that held him back.  He’d known exactly what she meant and had held her hand and promised her he would.  It was a promise he had never kept.

He walked over to the image now and stroked the glass.  “I know what you’d want, but I’m not sure I’m ready.”  He looked at the other image on the mantle, the entire crew in far happier times.  He’d stupidly blocked out Kathryn in the image, a childish move he knew.  He looked at all the faces, all smiling for the imager.  They’d all been sad to witness what their captain and First Officer were going through, but they’d never once commented or judged.  When he married, they had quietly celebrated with him while silently supporting Kathryn.  And when Rose was born and Louise died, they were there for him then too 

Suddenly he made up his mind.  Tomorrow he would go and see the Doctor.  He needed verification from someone he knew and trusted, and only one person could do that.  With that decision made he felt a slight weight lift from him.  He looked back at Louise’s image and smiled at her.  “Don’t expect miracles, but maybe it’s a start.  Be patient with me.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Voyager’s EMH was delighted to see his former First Officer.  “Commander…sorry…  Captain.”

Chakotay waved away the title.  “It’s Chakotay…just Chakotay.”

The Doctor smiled and nodded.  “Chakotay it is then.  It’s good to see you again.  How are you and how is that little lady?”

Chakotay’s face broke into a wide grin at the mention of his daughter.  “Changing by the day…and changing too quickly also.  She’s fine and I’m good too.”

The EMH waved towards a chair.  “Please sit.  Is this business or pleasure?”

Chakotay sat and waited until the Doctor sat also.  “Actually, it’s personal.”  He smiled as he remembered Elizabeth Fulton’s similar words.  He looked up at the hologram.  “I had a visitor yesterday.” 

Chakotay spent the next twenty minutes telling the Doctor about the psychiatrist’s visit and all she’d told him. 

The medic showed real emotion as he took it all in.  Finally he sat back and shook his head.  “I worried about that possibility.  I think I’ve always been waiting to hear this news.”

Chakotay looked sadly at the Doctor.  “Is any of what she said true?”

The Doctor nodded slowly.  “Yes.”

Chakotay rubbed at his face.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

The medic leaned forward and placed his hands on his desk.  “Because she pleaded with me not to.  Had you asked of course, I would have told you.  You had a right to know and she accepted that.”

Chakotay sighed heavily.  “And I never asked…”  He closed his eyes a moment.  “Why would she not want you to tell me though?”

The medic shrugged.  “She felt you needed someone to blame…to hate…  I guess she thought it would be easier for you.”

Chakotay rubbed at his temples, feeling the start of a headache.  “And he was…my son…he would have been…handicapped?”

The Doctor nodded sadly.  “Yes, he would have been severely handicapped.  I’m sorry.”

Chakotay held the Doctor’s eyes.  “And she could well have miscarried?”

The Doctor nodded again as he laced his fingers together.  “Almost certainly.  It sounds very cruel, but nature has her own way.  Sadly, even in this day and age, we haven’t eliminated all handicaps.”  He leaned back now.  “Look, I know I advised her not to go on that away mission…warned her to be careful…but I’d have told any expectant mother the same thing.  It’s a standard speech.  Had the pregnancy been stable, chances are she wouldn’t have lost the baby then, but in time I believe she would have.  None of this showed up in my scans beforehand, but the baby was handicapped.  That showed up in the autopsy I had to perform.  Even had she gone to full term, he would have died shortly after birth.”

Chakotay just sat and shook his head.  “Her injuries though…they must have…”

The EMH gently interrupted him.  “Most of her injuries were to her upper body and head…”

Chakotay closed his eyes as he remembered.  “But there was so much blood from…”

The Doctor sighed.  “A lot of the blood was from the miscarriage but most was from her injuries…internal and external.  She’d have haemorrhaged anyway and there’s always a heavy blood loss with…”

Chakotay stood up quickly.  “I don’t know what to think.”

The medic looked up at him.  “You know, any accident could just as easily have happened on board Voyager.  A trip, a fall, alien attack…  There were times when the ship was a far more dangerous place than any planet.”

Chakotay raised a hand, silently acknowledging what the Doctor said.  He was silent for more than a minute as he stared out into the empty lab.  Finally he turned his head and looked at his friend.  “She buried him?”

The Doctor nodded, his face a mask of sadness.  “She asked me to hold him in stasis.  After we got home, she came for him and buried him.  It was a lovely service…”

Chakotay whirled around in shock.  “You were there?”

The Doctor nodded slowly.  “Yes.  She asked me and I was honoured.”

Chakotay moved slowly back to his chair and sat down.  “Where?”

The medic looked at him sadly.  “A small cemetery outside of San Francisco…near the Napa Valley.  They call it The Angel Field.  It’s for children…a very sad place and yet peaceful…beautifully kept.”

Chakotay sat back, trying to absorb that fact.  “I take it she named him.”

The Doctor smiled.  “Caylem Edward actually.  After her father and the old man who died saving her…the one who believed she was his daughter on…”

Chakotay waved a hand.  “I remember.”  He looked down at the desk.  “Caylem…”  He tested the name on his lips and actually smiled.  “It’s nice.  It’s good to know he has a name and is…somewhere special.”

The EMH smiled his agreement.  “She said it was the last and only thing she could do for him.”  He sighed sadly and looked at Chakotay.  “That was the last time I saw her   She hugged me and thanked me and then just walked away.  As I said before, your news didn’t surprise me.  I only wish there was something I could have done for her.  I wish she would have come to me for help.  I may not be human, but I cared very deeply for her…loved her even.  She was my captain and I her doctor but we were also good friends.” 

Chakotay seemed in shock, trying to sort questions and answers in his mind.  He looked over at the Doctor.  “What about the surgery to have another child?”

The medic nodded at that.  “Yes…I told her about that a few days before the funeral.  I found out about it when we got back and I had my ‘updates’ as they called them.  There was so much missing from my memory and knowledge…so many advances to catch up on. As soon as I learned of it, I spoke with her.”  He shook his head and looked down at his hands.  “She didn’t want it.  She said not being able to have another child was her punishment.”  He looked up now.  “She always blamed herself far more than you did…said she didn’t deserve a child…wouldn’t trust herself with one and that she’d only ever have wanted one with you anyway.  ‘I killed his child.  I’m not fit to be a mother’.  Her words.”

Chakotay dropped his head back and groaned.  “Oh God…I really did one hell of a job on her, didn’t I?”

The Doctor watched him carefully and saw the pain the realization caused.  He tried  to ease it.  “You’d just lost your long wanted and much loved child, Chakotay.  Your anger and pain was very understandable.”

Chakotay shook his head.  “Understandable maybe, but I think now misdirected for the most part.  Kathryn may have some blame to take, but I should have been there to help her through it all instead of adding to her pain.  I should have at least talked to her.  I walked away from her, deserted her and only saw my own loss.  I beat her with it every day and then married Louise and had another child.  I never stopped to think how much hurt that must have caused her.”

The Doctor nodded sadly.  “It did hurt her a lot, but she was also very happy for you.  She said she was happy you’d found someone who could give you what she couldn’t.”

Chakotay stared at the medic.  “She spoke to you about it?”

The EMH nodded slowly.  “She often came to sickbay late at night to talk to me.  She had trouble sleeping, finding peace, and she needed someone.  I was happy to be there for her.”

Chakotay sighed and nodded.  “Fulfilling the role that I should have.”  He groaned loudly.  “Oh God…what did I do?  Louise tried to make me see all this.  She never said anything directly, but I know she never approved of the way I treated Kathryn.  She understood my anger and pain, but not why I directed it all at the woman I was supposed to have loved.  I’m not sure I understand it myself.  I just lashed out, needed to blame someone, but that’s no excuse.”  He looked squarely at the Doctor.  “You don’t approve of the way I’ve been either, do you?”

The medic shrugged.  “It’s never been my place to disapprove or even understand why you feel as you do about all this.  I accept it and I deal with it.”

Chakotay sighed sadly.  “But you thought I was wrong.  I disappointed you.”

The Doctor shook his head.  “No.  I was confused.  I understood at first, but later…”  He stroked the wood of his desk.  “Let’s just say I didn’t think you’d have…couldn’t reconcile the man I knew with…”  He shook his head again.  “It’s still not my place.”

Chakotay sighed heavily.  “No, you’re right.  I’ve behaved disgracefully and I know that deep down inside of me.”  He groaned again and dropped his head back for a moment.  “Oh…at first all the pain and anger I had got me through…and yes…I did need to blame someone.  I felt cheated.  The truth is Kathryn never wanted the baby the way I did, so I lashed out at her.  I never stopped to ask how she felt.”  He shook his head.  “Later…  Well, the longer it went on…  Instead of healing, it festered and grew and I let it…almost encouraged it.”  He rubbed at his face.  “I used to be a forgiving man and when I loved someone…  That changed that day and I don’t know why.  I became so bitter.” 

The Doctor coughed slightly.  “Actually, we talked about that too.  You’re wrong in thinking that she didn’t want the baby.”

Chakotay shook his head.  “I saw the way she was.  She worried about how she’d cope as captain.”

The medic interrupted him.  “No.  She worried about how she’d cope as a mother.  She was afraid of failing you and failing the baby.  She was also scared…afraid of the pregnancy.”

Chakotay looked shocked.  “Afraid of the pregnancy?”

The Doctor nodded.  “You’d be surprised how many women are afraid of that…of their bodies changing…and I don’t mean that from a vanity sense.  She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to cope.  She was also afraid of the birth and that’s also more common than you know.”  He sighed.  “Chakotay, women are expected to just have children like shelling peas.  They’re told it’s the most natural thing in the world and that every woman does it.  That’s easy to say, but for them, especially the first time, it’s traumatic.”  He leaned forward. 

“I can tell you that men have been fathers since the beginning of time and most coped just fine.  Can you honestly tell me you aren’t scared to death at times of failing where Rose is concerned?”

Chakotay sighed and shook his head.  “No.  I can’t tell you that.  The day I took her home I sat and watched her sleep and cried like an idiot.  I was terrified.  For weeks…months…I kept poking her when she was asleep to make sure she was still alive.  I still do at times.”

The Doctor nodded his understanding.  “All perfectly natural.  Kathryn was no different, but she had added fears…like the pregnancy and birth.  Women tend to not even talk with each other about it, but many are afraid.  They’re afraid of the pain…of something going wrong…of not being able to bond with their child…not able to feed… so many things…but they feel they’ll be seen as a failure as a woman if they talk about it.  You’re only supposed to share the good stuff or moan about the aches, the swollen ankles and morning sickness.  You’re not supposed to talk about the fears or the doubts.”

Chakotay stared at the Doctor.  “I had fears too.  Why didn’t she talk to me about how she felt?”

The medic shrugged.  “She was afraid to.  She was the strong captain, expected to cope with anything and she thought people would expect the same from her in her private life.  She was probably afraid she’d be seen as less of a woman.  She also didn’t want to worry you or burden you.  Of course, you have to understand as well that her hormones were all over the place.  While pregnancy is one of the most natural things in the world, it is also a physical assault on a woman’s body and a lot to cope with.  Kathryn was no different plus she was still the captain with all the responsibilities of the ship and crew on her shoulders.”

Chakotay dropped his head back.  “And then when something did happen, I wasn’t there to help her cope.”  He dropped his head forward now.  “Oh God…what a mess.  I made such a mess…”

The Doctor waited patiently until Chakotay looked up again.  He could clearly see the pain on his former First Officer’s face.  “Chakotay, if I may be so forward…”  Chakotay nodded for him to continue.  The medic hesitated a moment before speaking.  “I just think you’ve carried all this for too long.  Perhaps it’s time to let it go.”  He shook his head sadly.  “Perhaps it’s time to…forgive.”

^^^^^^^^^

That night, Chakotay sat quietly on the couch after putting Rose to bed.  He held a large red velvet book on his lap, but it remained closed.  He stared at it for a long time, occasionally running his fingers over the fabric covering.  Eventually he drew in a deep breath and opened it, steeling himself for what lay within.

What lay within were memories…painful memories he knew he finally had to face.  He forced himself to look at the images the book held…memories the holoimager had captured and frozen in time. 

Kathryn’s smiling face stared back at him, the woman she used to be.  Chakotay drew in a shuddering breath as he turned the pages, his life with Kathryn unfolding before his eyes.  Each image he looked at unlocked a flood of memories that he finally faced.  They all showed happy occasions…a dance on the holodeck, a shore leave, someone’s birthday, the celebration of a successful trade or first contact.  In most Kathryn stood beside him, either looking at the imager or up into his face…always smiling and not worried or embarrassed to have his arm around her.

He drew in a deep breath as he came to the last pages.  Kathryn pregnant…showing more with each image.  He turned the final page and stopped, staring at the last image in shock. 

He knew he hadn’t put it there.  He knew that with certainty.  It wasn’t fixed in place like the others either.  He looked up and stared at the image of his late wife on the mantle.  “You put it there, didn’t you?”  He smiled at her.  “You knew I’d look at these again some day.”

Chakotay shook his head sadly as he looked back at the image.  The shore leave before the accident.  He stopped a moment and looked up.  He said the word aloud.  “Accident.  It was an accident.”  He wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince himself of that or had just realized it.

He forced his eyes back to the book.  That last shore leave before their world had been turned upside down.  He stared at the image and remembered Tom having taken it.  He wore casual pants and an open necked shirt…Kathryn a loose green floral dress.  Chakotay smiled for the imager while Kathryn looked up into his face.  He looked closer, examining her face, and finally saw the truth for himself.

Kathryn’s face shone.  She looked radiant, in fact.  Her love for the man beside her was clearly written on her face, even in a picture.  Her hand rested protectively on her stomach, the swell of pregnancy not quite what it should have been because of her smaller size.

Chakotay sighed heavily and rested his head against the back of the couch.  It was all there…proof that she had loved him and had wanted their child.  He groaned and spoke to the silent room.  “And I threw it all back at you and walked away.  I left you with your pain and thought only of my own loss.”

^^^^^^^^^^

The following lunchtime Chakotay called to see Tom and B'Elanna.  He sat in their kitchen and told them everything that had happened during the previous two days with Elizabeth Fulton’s visit to him and his own visit to Voyager’s EMH.

“I did a lot of soul searching last night.  I hadn’t allowed myself to do that before.  That doctor was right when she said I haven’t faced this.  My subconscious probably knew the shame that awaited me when I did face it.”

B'Elanna watched her old friend carefully.  “What do you want me to say, Chakotay?  Do you want me to agree that you were wrong?”  She sighed.  “OK…you probably were wrong.”

Chakotay nodded, his shame showing.  “No probably about it…”

B'Elanna shook her head.  “You followed your heart which is usually the right thing to do…but the heart doesn’t always lead to good places or to what’s right.  Chakotay, sometimes it takes us to darkness and not light.  The heart is guided by our feelings and emotions and it can be clouded by them.  What’s important is to recognize when it’s wrong and do something about it…to turn back…even afterwards.”

Chakotay laughed at that, the sound hollow.  “So what are you saying?  I can still find salvation?”

B'Elanna nodded slowly.  “Yes.  I believe so.”

He almost sneered.  “And what about Kathryn’s salvation?  What about the hell I condemned her to?”

B'Elanna shook her head.  “You know, the crew never judged you for how you dealt with all that happened…but I think a lot thought you were wrong.  We’d never have said it though.  It wasn’t our place, our right or our business, and we didn’t know the full story anyway.  It hurt though to see what was happening to the two of you…to see the pain you were both in.”

Chakotay sighed heavily and shook his head.  “I just laid all the blame at her door.”

B'Elanna nodded at that.  “Chakotay, I took risks when I was carrying Miral.  All women do.  You’re pregnant, not ill.  You feel healthy and just want and need to do what you’ve always done.  You need to be who you are.  I told you this before.  I went on away missions and Tom used to hate it.”  She smiled across at her husband.

Tom smiled back at her then looked at Chakotay.  “It’s the truth, old man.  I constantly nagged and worried, but I learned that I had to take B'Elanna as she was and trust her to know what was best for her.  Yes she took risks and put her people first, but that’s the kind of person she is.  If I changed her, then that was unfair to her.  I knew the kind of person she was before she got pregnant and if I’m honest, it was part of what I fell in love with.  When you love someone you accept them for what and who they are.  You don’t try and change them.  This is B'Elanna.  Does she remind you of anyone?”

Chakotay got the message and nodded.  “Yeah, I know.”

B'Elanna reached over and tapped his arm.  “Look Chakotay, you have to let go of this.  You’ve been harbouring these feelings for too long now.  You’ve punished her for long enough and you’ve punished yourself for long enough too.  Let it go.  It just eats you up inside.”

Chakotay thought about that.  “You think I should go see her?”

B'Elanna squeezed his arm.  “Yes I do.  For yourself if nothing else.”  She sighed and studied him for a moment.  “Can I ask you something?”  She didn’t wait for his permission.  “What are you really afraid of?”

Chakotay shrugged.  “I don’t know.”

B'Elanna nodded.  “I think you’re afraid of there still being feelings there.  The hate you feel is all you have…the only tie to the baby.  I think you feel if you let that go, you’ll be letting him go too…even letting him down.”  She smiled sadly at her old friend.  “Let it go, Chakotay.  Let him go.  I’m not saying forget him.  Just let him be at peace.  Concentrate on your living child and on your own life…on what’s here…what is…not on what was.  The dead wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Chakotay digested all that.  He shook his head.  “It’s not that easy.  I used anger and bitterness to cover my pain for so long.  It’s become such a habit to feel that way.  I think I’m afraid that if I let that go, I’ll have to face that pain all over again.”  He looked up at them.  “And then last night I finally looked through our image album…”  He told them about finding the last image.  “Louise must have put it there, knowing I’d look at them someday.”

B'Elanna smiled as she remembered his late wife.  “She was a wise woman…far wiser than her years.”

Chakotay smiled also.  “She was.  She certainly knew me better than I know myself.”  He grew serious then and sighed deeply.  “She deserved better than me…not someone who had all that emotional baggage.  Kathryn’s shadow was always there between us and that wasn’t fair to her.”

B'Elanna shook her head sadly.  “She knew she had your love, Chakotay.  That was enough for her.  And with the baby as well…”  She sighed.  “She was happy.  She told me that.”

Chakotay stared at his old friend.  “She talked to you?”

B'Elanna nodded.  “She loved you and she knew you loved her in your own way.  She was happy with that.  And then when she got pregnant, she was overjoyed.  She worried about you, but as she saw you happy, she let her worries go and enjoyed your life together.  I think the one thing she would have liked though, was for you to forgive the captain.  She always felt…  She worried about her.  I think she also felt guilty, especially when she saw her.  The captain never showed any signs of resentment or bitterness though.  Louise said she was always friendly with her.”

She lay back now.  “She told me the only time she ever saw any sign of her feelings was when we got home.  Everyone was getting ready…packing their stuff up…packing their lives up…”  She shook her head as she looked at Chakotay.  “She met the captain in the corridor.  She told me she’d had her head down and had been stroking her stomach, talking to the baby.  She looked up and saw the captain watching her.”

She sighed now.  “She said she’d never seen such raw pain in anyone’s eyes.  It was only there for a moment and she quickly hid it.  Louise said the captain smiled at her, wished her happiness in her new life, then walked away quickly.”

Chakotay blew out a breath and closed his eyes.  “Louise never told me about that.”  He rubbed at his face.  “God…that must have hurt Kathryn so much…been so painful.”

B'Elanna leaned forward now.  “Look Chakotay…you can’t undo any of that.  It’s over and as the old saying goes ‘you can’t unring a bell’.  It happened and it can’t be changed.  The only control you have now is with the present and the future.  Sort this out.”

Chakotay shook his head slowly.  “In other words…go see her.”

B'Elanna shrugged.  “I can’t tell you what to do, but I do think it would be the right thing.”

Chakotay sat silently for several minutes, his mind in turmoil.  Flashes from the past warred with his newfound understanding.  He looked from Tom to B'Elanna.  “I don’t know.  I have to think about this.  It’s not that easy…just letting all that go or facing what I’ve become.  I can’t change overnight.”

B'Elanna nodded understandingly.  “I know that.  No one is asking you to.  You could take the first step though.”

^^^^^^^^^^ 

At home that evening, Chakotay stood by the window and stared out into the garden.  He watched some birds at the feeder he’d set out for them.  They always gathered in his garden to roost each evening and he found their routine comforting.

As his feathered friends headed off to bed for the night, Chakotay turned away from the window and walked over to the kitchen table where his image album lay.  He stood in the fading light and flipped through the pages once again.  He eased himself into one of the chairs and studied them for several minutes. 

Finally he closed the book and sat back.  He closed his eyes and searched inside himself.  He tried to find the man he had once been, hoping and praying that a part of that man was still there.  He opened his eyes and sighed, whispering to the silence.  “When did I become so bitter?”  He knew the answer to that and asked himself a harder question.  “Why did I allow myself to become so bitter?”

Making a decision, he stood and went into the living room.  Not permitting himself time to think and change his mind, he activated the comm unit.

^^^^^^^^^^

B'Elanna smiled when she saw her old friend.  “You look bone weary, Chakotay.”

He barely smiled and nodded.  “It was a long afternoon…difficult students.”  He drew in a deep breath and pushed the words out before he lost his courage.  “B'Elanna, I know tomorrow is Saturday and perhaps you have plans…”

B'Elanna waved away his concerns.  “What do you need?”

Chakotay smiled sadly at that.  “A magic wand would be nice.”  He shook his head.  “I was wondering if you could take Rose for a while tomorrow.  Her nanny doesn’t work weekends.  I’m not sure how long or…”

B'Elanna smiled hopefully.  “You’re going to see her?”

Chakotay shrugged.  “I’m going to go there.  I haven’t made up my mind about anything further yet.  Just let me take this at my own pace.”

B'Elanna smiled kindly.  “Bring Rose over whenever you want to.  We’re here all day.  Leave her with us as long as you like.  Miral loves having her here.”

Chakotay thanked his friend and cut the transmission.  He stretched and looked towards Louise’s picture.  “I’m trying, honey.  I’m trying.”

^^^^^^^^^^


ON TO PART THREE.



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RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.


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