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 Eight.



TWO MONTHS LATER.

B'Elanna sat beside Chakotay sipping the lemonade she’d made, and watched her husband play with the children.  Miral toddled around, while Rose lay in her rocker, a deep frown on her face as if she disapproved of their raucous behaviour.

B'Elanna turned to watch her old friend, his eyes on his daughter as she kicked her legs.  “Have you heard anything from Kathryn or Elizabeth?”

Her question jolted him back from his reverie.  He shook his head sadly.  “No.  I’ve contacted Elizabeth a few times.  I knew she wouldn’t contact me.  All she’ll tell me is that Kathryn is doing well.”  He shrugged.  “I think she feels she’s broken enough doctor/patient confidentiality to last her a lifetime.”

B'Elanna watched him closely.  “You really miss going to the clinic, don’t you?”

He looked back towards Rose.  “Kathryn didn’t want me visiting her anymore.  Elizabeth felt it was for the best too.”

B'Elanna shook her head.  “That wasn’t what I asked.”  She sighed.  “You miss her.”  She already knew the answer.

Chakotay looked back at her.  “Yeah…I do.  I’d gotten very used to her being a part of my life again…seeing her almost every day.  It’s been hard staying away.  I’m not sure if I’m shocked at how much I miss her or not.”

B'Elanna nodded.  “She’s been a very big part of your life.  You can’t just close the door on that.”

Chakotay rubbed at his face.  “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?  Yet look what I did.  No wonder she didn’t want me near her once she was thinking clearly again.”

B'Elanna smiled kindly.  “I’m sure Kathryn will get in touch when she’s better…when she’s ready.”

Chakotay looked doubtful.  “I’m not so sure.  I burnt my bridges there.  If I was in her shoes I’d stay well away from me.  I hurt her too badly…behaved disgracefully…and been the worst kind of coward.  I’ll always have to live with the shame of that.  She has every right to hate me.”

B'Elanna smiled knowingly.  “Oh, I don’t believe she hates you, Chakotay.  Yes, she was hurt…deeply hurt…but only someone we love or care about can hurt us that much.  If she didn’t care, it wouldn’t still hurt.”

Chakotay just shook his head.  “She probably hasn’t given me a second thought.  Besides, she loved me then…not now.  The hurt will always overshadow that.  It’s stronger.”

B'Elanna shook her head also.  “You’ve been a part of each other for too long.  That never goes away.  And I think love is stronger and always will be.”

Chakotay sat back.  “Maybe…but betrayal is pretty strong too…and I betrayed her in the worst possible way.”

B'Elanna couldn’t deny that.  “Just give her time, Chakotay.  When she’s feeling better, I’m sure she’ll call you.”

Chakotay smiled his thanks.  “Maybe.  The thought of never seeing her again hurts like hell.  Thanks for your confidence anyway.  You’ll excuse me if I don’t share it.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Over the next month, Chakotay threw himself into his work.  He spent his days at Starfleet Academy and his nights with his daughter at home.  His social life was non-existent.  Weekends found him taking Rose to a park or playground, or over to Tom and B'Elanna’s.  Miral adored her little playmate, even though she sometimes got frustrated when Rose couldn’t participate in the games she wanted to play.

While his days were full and he worked hard to keep his mind occupied, his evenings were lonely once Rose went to bed.  Most nights he found the hours stretching out before him, nothing to distract his mind from Kathryn.  He thought of her more and more as time passed, and found he missed her badly.  With that acknowledged, he began to realize that he still loved her.

^^^^^^^^^^

The following weekend, Chakotay found himself alone, his friends spending some time with Tom’s parents.  He glanced into Rose’s playpen in the shade of the porch and smiled to himself at the strange positions the child slept in.  He reached in and felt her leg, satisfying himself that she was warm enough in the late summer afternoon air.

He sighed heavily as he turned back to the porch table, determined to finish the student assessments he was working on for the coming term.  He stopped dead and stared, feeling his heart pounding as his eyes fell on the woman standing at the bottom of the porch steps.

He swallowed, his throat suddenly dry, and forced his voice to work.  “Kathryn…”

She came close to a smile.  “I’m sorry I didn’t call first.  I took a chance that you might be home.

Chakotay mentally shook himself and stepped forward.  “Sorry.  It’s…I’m just surprised…  I mean…”  He waved his hand to the table and chairs.  “Please.  Sit down.  Can I get you something?”

Kathryn studied him for a moment before taking the three steps up onto the porch that surrounded the house.  She looked towards Rose in her playpen.  “I’m not disturbing you, am I?  I don’t want to wake her.”

Chakotay shook his head.  “You’re not disturbing us…and she’ll sleep until SHE’S ready to wake up.  She can sleep through anything…during the day anyway.  Nights can be fun at times.”

Kathryn moved closer to the sleeping child.  “A little owl, is she?”  She stared down at the little girl who lay on her back, her arms and legs thrown carelessly in all directions.  “She’s really grown.”

Chakotay didn’t miss the look of pain that crossed her face.  She covered it quickly though and moved to the table, but didn’t sit.  Instead she stared out over the garden.  He watched her for a moment.  “You look good, Kathryn, really good.”

She smiled softly and turned back to look at him.  “I feel a lot better.”

He nodded slowly.  “It’s really good to see you.”  She just smiled at that, but said nothing.  Chakotay shifted his weight from one foot to the other as another silence descended on them.  He moved a little closer.  “Sorry.  I don’t know what to say.  I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing.  I did the wrong thing for so long.”

Kathryn sighed as she watched him.  “I’ve learned that I can’t live in the past…only concentrate on the present and the future.”

Chakotay shook his head.  “That’s not easy.”

Kathryn laughed, the first time he’d heard the sound in years.  He realized how much he’d missed it.  “I didn’t say it was easy.  I said I’d learned to do it.”  She wandered over to a bird feeder which hung from the overhang of the porch and examined it.

Chakotay watched her closely.  She’d gained back some weight and let her hair grow out.  She had it pulled back from her face in a loose tie.  “I wanted to come and see you.”

She nodded slowly.  “Thank you for respecting my wishes.”  She looked back at him, her expression sad.  “I wasn’t trying to hurt you…just heal myself.”

Chakotay nodded his understanding.  “And did you?  Heal yourself, I mean.”

Kathryn smiled softly and shrugged.  “The prognosis is good.  I’m getting there.”

He nodded and waved his hand, indicating the garden and porch.  “And this…coming here?”

She moved a little closer to him.  “Yes…that’s a part of it.”

Chakotay sighed heavily.  “Seeing me is a test?”

Kathryn stopped and looked at him.  “Yes, in a way.  As I said, that’s part of it.  I’ll be honest with you about that.  I’m sorry for how it sounds.”

He waved her concern away.  “And?”

Instead of answering, Kathryn sat down at the table.  She took a moment and then looked up at him.  “Answer me this.”  He nodded and sat also.  “For so long you hated me…”  She held her hand up when he went to object, silently asking his permission to finish.  He barely nodded.  “You believed you hated me.  Let’s put it that way.  Yet you came to see me when Elizabeth came to you.  Why?” 

He shook his head and held her eyes.  “I’ll be honest too.  I didn’t agree at first.  I talked to the Doc and he told me everything…confirmed what Elizabeth Fulton had said.  I even talked to Tom and B'Elanna.  I also did a lot of soul searching, forcing my mind back.  I hadn’t always seen what was in front of my eyes back then.”  He sighed.  “Anyway, I searched my heart and I looked through that old image album…”  He smiled sadly.  “There was a last image there, taken of us on our last shore leave.”  He looked at Kathryn and saw by her face that she remembered him mentioning it.  “I know now that Louise put it there for me to see.  She knew I’d look at that album again some day and that I’d find that image…”  His voice trailed off for a moment.  He shrugged.  “It helped clear my thoughts…told me what I’d refused to see.  So…in the end, I went because I wanted and needed to, although I was nervous.  I also felt I owed you.”

Kathryn sighed and leaned back in her chair, studying him.  “What did you feel when you first saw me again?”

Chakotay blew out a long breath.  “At first…pity.  The hate I thought I’d feel wasn’t there.  I expected it to drown me when I saw you again, but it wasn’t there.  I wonder now if it ever was.  Later on…I continued to come because I cared and wanted to…although a lot of my feelings were still unresolved.  I didn’t know if I continued to go because of guilt, pity or because I still had feelings for you.”  His eyes pleaded for understanding.

Kathryn nodded slowly.  “I needed to know that.  Thank you for your honesty.”

Chakotay shrugged.  “I owe you a hell of a lot more than just my honestly, Kathryn.”

Kathryn looked up at him.  “We do need to talk.  I do anyway.  I hope that’s all right.”

Chakotay managed a small smile.  “I’d like that.  Thank you for giving me the chance.  There’s so much I want to say to you…and even though I said some things at the clinic, I didn’t feel right about it…or feel I’d said what I needed to say or in the right way…”

His head snapped around towards Rose as she whimpered in her sleep and turned over.  Seeing her settling again, he smiled to himself and turned back to Kathryn, just as a thought struck him.  “Kathryn, I’m sorry.  Would you prefer to…  I mean, are you all right with her here?”

She smiled softly.  “I’m fine, Chakotay.  I wouldn’t have called at your home if I had a problem.”

He accepted that hesitantly.  “Just say if…  We can always…”  Something in her face stopped him.  “OK.  I’m sorry.  You’ll say.”

Kathryn barely nodded.  “Yes, I will.”  She twisted her fingers together, more for something to do than in nervousness.  “My time there…when you were there…seems very strange to me now.”  She glanced up at him.  “I remember you bringing her, you know.”  She glanced over at the playpen.  “I have these extremely vague images of her there…in my lap…hearing her name…  I remember how I was afterwards too.  Well, it was like a dream…a bit foggy…but I do remember.”  She licked at her lips and drew in a hesitant breath. 

“I wasn’t thinking too straight back then.  At one time, I actually…”  She looked down at her hands.  “I thought you were punishing me for killing our son, showing me what you could achieve without me.”  She looked up and saw the horror on his face and leaned forward quickly.  “I’m sorry.  I know that wasn’t the case.  My mind was just…  I know now how wrong that was.  I just couldn’t see any other reason for you being there…couldn’t believe I would matter to you.  I thought you hated me.  I’m sorry.  I just want and need to be totally honest with you.  Forgive me.”

Chakotay tried to shut off the pain her confession caused him and shook his head.  “It’s OK.  I do understand.  You had every right to believe that with my track record.”

Kathryn’s eyes showed her apology.  “I’m sorry.  I really am.  I know that wasn’t the case and I also know that it wasn’t your idea to being her there.  Elizabeth filled me in on that one.”

Chakotay sat forward.  “She would have used another baby.  I got to trust her though.  She knew what she was doing.”

Kathryn laughed at that, easing the tension.  “Oh, she knew, all right.” 

Chakotay didn’t join her laughter.  “Was it hard?”

Kathryn sobered and nodded.  “Yes, it was.  It was hard work…painful work.  She stripped me back to the bare bones emotionally.  It was like being totally naked, and each piece of clothing I put on had to be examined first…each piece faced and dealt with…acknowledged.  Only then could I move on.”  She sighed deeply.  “I had to walk a lonely road.  It was a solitary journey.”  She shook her head slowly.  “Even with Elizabeth there, it was lonely.  In one way she was with me, but she was still just a bystander, a witness, observing me.  I was still making the journey alone and she was just someone within communications range.  Do you know what I mean?”

Chakotay nodded sadly.  “I wish I could have been there to help you.”

Kathryn shook her head.  “You couldn’t.”  She leaned forward slightly.  “Chakotay, we’re like mirrors, you and I.  We reflect off each other, despite what happened.  Had you stayed with me for my therapy…”  She sighed again.  “In one way you’d have helped.  We’d perhaps have helped each other, because the positive…the good between us would have bounced and reflected back off each other.  Unfortunately, so would the negative and the bad.”

Her words hurt, but Chakotay knew she was right.  “I’m sorry.  You’re right.  It was probably easier without me there.”

Kathryn smiled sadly and shook her head at that.  “It was anything but easy.  I’d feel better and think the worst was over, only to find myself at rock bottom again the next day.  I had severe mood swings too.  I don’t know how Elizabeth put up with me.  She really bore the brunt of it all.  She deserves a medal.”  She sighed and suddenly gestured towards a jug of lemonade.  “May I?”

Chakotay snapped to attention and reached for a glass.  “Of course.  I’m sorry.  I should have offered you some immediately.  I’m sorry.”

Kathryn swatted his hands away and poured herself a glass, then one for him.  “You did offer.  Relax.  I probably shocked the living daylights out of you just turning up like this.  Stop apologizing.”  She sat back and sipped at the cool liquid.  “This is good.”

Chakotay just played with his own glass.  “I could live to be a thousand and I wouldn’t be able to stop apologizing to you.  If I said sorry every minute, on the minute, for the rest of my life, it still wouldn’t be enough.”

Kathryn blew out a breath.  “Chakotay, that’s the past.  I can only think about the present and future now.  I have my own sins to deal with.  I don’t need you talking like this.”

He stared at her.  “What sins?  Kathryn, you did nothing wrong.  I was the one who…”

She sighed and shook her head angrily.  “It’s not about that, Chakotay.  It’s about me…other things in my life.”  She took another drink.  “It was about me…how I coped or didn’t…how I reached the stage where I didn’t want to go on…didn’t want to live anymore.  Not once, but twice.”  She ignored the hurt she saw her words inflict.  “Yes, a lot happened to me.  I was hurt badly…by losing the baby and by you.  But I should have dealt with that.  Instead I let the pain swallow me.  I took it.”  Her eyes bored into his.

“In a way how you dealt with it was healthier.  I bottled it all up and just became this robot with a single program or command…to get you all home.  So when that was achieved, there was nothing left.  I had a career waiting for me and I had friends.  I could have re-built my life.  Instead I let depression take over and it crowded in on me…like the walls closing in…narrowing my view of the way ahead by the day, until I could see nothing but black.  I let that happen.”

Chakotay shook his head.  “I caused it.  I was the root cause.”

Kathryn sighed in exasperation.  “You’re not hearing me, Chakotay.  OK…let’s say you’d been killed out there.  It would still have been pain and I’d have reacted the same way.  The end result would have been the same.  Anything bad or painful in my personal life, and I let those walls close in on me instead of pushing them back.  Had I learned to do that before or known how to, I’d have survived it all much better.  I should have learned it from when Daddy and Justin were killed, but I didn’t.  Instead I took to my bed in a deep depression.  It took my sister to bring me out of that.”  She sighed again.  “So the main problem for me wasn’t what you did, but how I dealt with it.  It could have been something else.”

Chakotay wasn’t taking that.  “It still doesn’t address what I did to you.”

Kathryn smiled sadly.  “No, it doesn’t…but I can’t waste my time blaming you or hating you for that.  I have to accept what you did…try to understand it and deal with it.  Then I have to put it away and leave it in the past.  I need to go forward and try to rebuild a life for myself.  I can’t ever let myself go back to that place where I saw no other way out than to end it all.”

Chakotay closed his eyes at the thought.  “Thank God you failed.”

Kathryn showed little emotion.  “I felt nothing for myself at that stage.  I’d spent so long internalizing my pain and then I even shut that off.  I was a ticking bomb, according to Elizabeth.  Without knowing it, I’d set in motion my own downfall and destruction.  I set the bomb.”  She stared down at her glass.  “In the end, I couldn’t stand it…the boredom and the loneliness of it all…so empty.  I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt nothing.  It got harder and harder to go on.  I just couldn’t pretend anymore.  I wanted out.”

She swirled the liquid in her glass.  “I’d been building up, stockpiling everything for so long that in the end the fuse practically lit itself.  I checked into a hotel…”  She looked up briefly.  “Do you know about this?” 

Chakotay only managed to nod, not trusting himself to speak.

Kathryn barely nodded and looked back at her glass.  “I checked into the hotel and…”  She shrugged.  “I had easy access to painkillers…  Anyway, I took what I had.  Didn’t even leave a note.  I just didn’t care about anything.  When I woke up in the hospital, I learned about the fire and rescue.”  She took a long drink.

“Elizabeth came to see me.  Standard procedure.  I told her what she wanted to hear.  She wasn’t entirely convinced, but I think she was over-ruled and they released me.”  She smiled sadly.  “Nothing had changed with how I felt though…or rather didn’t feel.  I was just more determined to get it right.  I took off into the wilderness, thinking no one would be around to save me this time.”

She shook her head.  “It was cold.  I know that.  The river was swollen and I stood there for some time just staring into the swirling and rushing water, hypnotized by it.  It seemed to draw me in and I just jumped.”  She sighed again.  “I was tossed around for a minute and I panicked when I felt pain.  I’d hit a rock, I think.  I actually tried to fight for a moment and then I just gave up and let it take me.  I remember my head hitting a boulder or something.”  She looked up at him.  “I woke up at the hospital knowing I’d failed again.  And later on, they moved me to the clinic but I don’t really remember that.”

Chakotay felt close to tears.  He had a sudden impulse to just pull her into his arms but knew he didn’t have that right anymore.  “I don’t know what to say, Kathryn.  It tears me apart to think of you like that.  I just wish I had the right words.”

Kathryn blew out a long breath and shook her head.  “It’s past, Chakotay.  There are no right words.  There’s only what’s now and what’s to come.”

Her words made sense, but only in his head.  “I can’t let it go like that.”  He sighed.  “These months…  I’ve been thinking of you a lot.  You’ve never left my thoughts.  No matter what I thought I felt before…love or hate…you were always there.”

Kathryn merely nodded.  “I know you called Elizabeth several times to ask about me.”

He nodded.  “All she’d tell me is that you were doing well.”

Kathryn smiled at that.  “I’m surprised you even got that.  She’s still feeling guilty for what she did.  She denies it because it worked, but she knows it was wrong.  We agreed to let it drop and move on.”

Chakotay fell back in his chair.  “I can’t do that.  What I did to you will haunt me forever.”

Kathryn watched him.  “You have to leave it, Chakotay.  It’s the past.  We can’t change it.”

H shook his head.  “Maybe not.  I can’t forget it though.”

Kathryn leaned back also.  “It was a hard time for both of us.  I remember every detail, but I refuse to let it drown me again.”

Chakotay sat forward.  “That day…the way I…”

Kathryn sat forward also.  “I have my own guilt, Chakotay.”  She sighed and looked off into the distance.  “I should never have gone on that away mission…should have listened to you all.”  She shook her head as if to break free of that thought.  “That day in sickbay…  I knew the damage I’d caused to us the minute I opened my eyes and you weren’t there.  You’d always been there when I woke up.  When you did come, I couldn’t look at you.”  She looked at him now.  “I couldn’t look at you because I couldn’t stand to see the pain I’d caused you.  I couldn’t even speak.  I must have come across as so uncaring, but my own pain was all I felt…inside me.”  She placed her hand over her heart.  “I longed for the physical pain again…something that would drown the agony I felt inside me.”

She shook her head again.  “The pain crippled us both, Chakotay.”  She sighed.  “I heard you question the Doctor, but I could say nothing at that moment.”

Chakotay nodded his understanding.  “I can’t explain it…can’t excuse it either.  I just hurt so much.  I was afraid to let you in.  I felt in some way that it would increase the pain I felt.  Somehow, my pain and hurt turned to anger…and that anger turned to bitterness.  It covered the pain and helped me cope.  I hung onto it rather than feel that pain again.”  He sighed and spread his hands on the table.  “I betrayed you in the worst possible way and you can never forgive that.”  He watched her face carefully, but couldn’t read her.

“I disguised my own pain as hate for you, anger at you.  The bitterness built and it was harder and harder to let it go.  It became ingrained in me.  Apparently being a man, I felt I couldn’t openly grieve either.  That was Elizabeth’s tentative theory anyway.  I don’t know.  I don’t think I was able to let it out either way, so instead it became anger.”  He looked away now.  “You and the baby were my dream and when everything happened, I felt cheated.  I saw my dream being pulled away from me.  I didn’t see that most of my dream was still there.”  He looked back at her.  “Elizabeth said that I was blinded to your pain by my own, but that’s no excuse as I see it.”  He shook his head.  “Later, when I first saw you at the clinic, I still had many of those feelings but by then guilt was there too.  It was there in abundance and still is.  It took over everything else.”

He leaned forward.  “Look, I don’t have any excuses for how I acted.  I think back now and I disgust myself, but at the time I had no idea or I didn’t let myself think about it.  I was selfish and only thought of my own pain.  I can lie to myself and say it was pain and hurt…grief…but you had those too.  As I said, I felt cheated and instead of feeling cheated by life, I wanted and needed someone to blame.”

Kathryn looked down at her hands.  “We often hit out at those closest to us.  Many relationships don’t survive the death of a child.”

Chakotay rubbed a hand across his face.  “It’s still no excuse for how I behaved.  I don’t know or like the man I was back then.  I don’t know where he came from, and I’m terrified he’s still in there somewhere or could come out again.”

Kathryn dropped her hands into her lap.  “I’ll be honest with you, Chakotay, and tell you that I’m torn.  Part of me…mostly the greater part…doesn’t blame you for how you acted.  I actually understand it.  You used anger…anger and hate to try and block out the pain…to bury it.”  She tried to laugh, but failed.  “You turned it outwards.  I turned it inward.”  She shrugged softly.

“Another part of me is angry at you though.  I felt so let down by you.  I needed you…needed your support.  Instead, I blamed myself.  I think I even needed you to tell me you blamed me…but there was nothing there from you.  You became a stone wall.  Had you screamed at me…hit me…it would have been better than walking away…ignoring me and shutting me off the way you did.”

She again ignored the pain she saw she was causing, knowing she needed to tell him all this.  “I felt so alone…abandoned by you.  Days and weeks alone in my quarters…what had been our quarters, and it felt so empty.  What should have been a home for three, became a prison for one.  It hurt so much, but despite what you might think or believe, not as much as losing the baby.  Nothing can ever hurt me the way that did.”

Her words broke a dam with Chakotay.  He stood quickly and walked over to Rose’s playpen, his back to Kathryn.  Following her instinct, she left him to his emotions, feeling she no longer had the right to step over that line.

His voice, sounding hoarse, broke the silence.  “You should hate me, Kathryn.  I don’t understand how you can sit there like this and not want to phaser me.  I was so weak…an excuse for a man.”  He turned back to face her, his eyes filled with tears.

Kathryn looked at him sadly.  “I’ve never hated you, Chakotay.  I’ve been angry at you, yes.  I’ve been angry beyond description.  I’ve wanted to scream at you and shake you, even smack you in the face.”  She smiled sadly.  “I think I did scream at you when you visited me at the clinic.  In fact, I remember smacking you too.”

Chakotay walked back to the table slowly.  He looked down at her and shook his head.  “I never even thanked you…”

Kathryn frowned up at him.  “Thank me?”

He nodded and traced a finger around the top of his glass.  “For what you did for him…for Caylem…our son.  You gave him a name…a place to rest.  You were there for him when I wasn’t.  Thank you for that.”

Kathryn swallowed softly and looked down at her hands.  Her voice was quiet.  “I didn’t do it for you, Chakotay, or for me.  I did it for him.”

Chakotay stared down at his glass and nodded.  “I failed him.  I failed you.”  He jumped when Kathryn’s hand touched his.

“Sit down, Chakotay.”  He barely nodded and sat.  Kathryn looked across at him.  “Look, I can only speak for myself.  I’ve been through the past months with Elizabeth and I came out of it with one main truth.  You can’t live in the past and you can’t change it.  It’s gone.  I won’t ever forget Caylem, but I will shut off the rest.  His memory is the only one I allow from then to come into the now.  I acknowledge what happened and what we went through, but to face the future, I can’t let that past in.”

Chakotay nodded slowly.  “What about that future, Kathryn?”

She shrugged.  “I don’t know yet.  I’m just taking this day by day.  I want to work again…need to.  And I want to re-connect with the people in my life.”  She smiled softly.  “I called to see our Doctor yesterday.  He’s well.  He gave me your address.”

Chakotay watched her face closely.  “He told me everything.  What would have happened…and about the surgery…”

Kathryn shook her head firmly.  “I know.  We talked about that and also about the surgery to have another child.  He told me all that just after we got home.  I don’t ever want that though.  Firstly because I still don’t feel I deserve it, although I am working to get past that, and secondly…I couldn’t go through that again.  I couldn’t ever take the risk of losing another baby.  I couldn’t stand that pain again.”

Chakotay played with his hands for several moments, unable to speak.  Finally he gained control and looked up at Kathryn.  “I didn’t think I could either…and then…”  He sighed.  “We weren’t actually trying for Rose.  She just…”

Kathryn smiled.  “She was meant to be, Chakotay.  Just see it like that.”  She dropped her head to the side.  “I saw her, you know.  Louise.  The last day or so on Voyager.  I saw her in the corridor.”

Chakotay nodded.   “I know.  She told B'Elanna about it and B'Elanna told me.”

Kathryn nodded at that.  “I never blamed her, Chakotay.  I never held anything against her.  I only wanted the best for you both.  I was so sorry to hear about her dying.  She was a lovely woman.”

Chakotay cleared his throat.  “She was…but she deserved better than me.  I loved her, but…”  He drew in a shaky breath and held Kathryn’s eyes.  “It wasn’t the same way I loved you.”  Kathryn said nothing and waited for him to continue.  He shrugged.  “She knew that, despite what I said and believed at the time.  She saw what I didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t, knew that I didn’t love her that way…and she accepted it.  What she couldn’t accept was the way I treated you afterwards.  She didn’t judge me, but she didn’t approve either.  She’ll always be very special to me though.  She was Rose’s mother…is Rose’s mother.”

Kathryn nodded her understanding at that.  “And she always will be.”  She sighed sadly and looked down at her glass.  “I was there, you know…”  She looked up and met his puzzled expression.  “At the funeral, I mean…”

Chakotay stared at her in disbelief.  “I didn’t see you…and no one said…”

She shrugged slightly.  “I stayed well hidden…made sure no one saw me.”  She looked at him sadly.  “She was a member of my crew.  I had to be there.  I felt you wouldn’t want me to attend so I stayed well back.  I went to the grave when everyone was gone…put some flowers there.”

Chakotay looked away, feeling pain and shame.  “You were there for me and I wasn’t there for you…”

Kathryn waited until he looked back at her and shook her head.  “I was there for her as her captain, Chakotay.  Just leave it at that.” 

They both looked towards the playpen as Rose cried out, awake now and hearing her father’s voice.  Chakotay looked nervously towards Kathryn.  “I need to…”

Kathryn’s eyes were focused on the playpen.  “Is she hungry?”  She glanced at Chakotay and saw him nod.

He watched her carefully and saw a brief battle take place in her eyes.  It disappeared quickly as she pushed her chair back and stood.  “I can hold her while you get her feed.”  She looked down at Chakotay and saw his worried expression.  “I’m fine…before you ask.”

Chakotay smiled softly and accepted her words.  He nodded and stood also.  “All right.  I’ll just get her dinner.  You can bring her into the kitchen when you’re ready.”  He moved towards the patio door and glanced back before entering. 

Kathryn held the little girl in her arms now and smiled down at her.  Chakotay watched her trace her fingers over the small features as she whispered softly to the child.  Rose for her part had grown quiet and was staring up at this new person with no sign of any upset.

Chakotay watched the scene with a deep sadness until Kathryn looked towards him and caught him.  “Is her dinner not ready yet?”  She was pulling him back to the present and he smiled at the gesture.

He nodded his head.  “Coming right up.”

^^^^^^^^^^


ON TO PART NINE.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.

RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.



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