|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
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?
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.
The next two hours were surreal for Chakotay. He stood back as Kathryn fed his daughter and played with her afterwards, even changing the little girl.
Chakotay laughed as he watched her. “Umm Kathryn, are you sure about this? What comes out is very different from what goes in.”
Kathryn laughed as she worked. “I have actually done this before, you know.” She smiled up at him. “It was a long time ago, but I still remember the details. Besides, I’d die of shame if I could pilot a space ship and not change a diaper.”
Chakotay watched her in amazement as she took things in hand and finished her task with amazing ease. She tossed the rolled up, soiled diaper at him. “Here. You can dispose of that.”
Chakotay fumbled for a moment before catching the offending item. “Thanks. Just what I always wanted.”
To Chakotay’s amazement, Kathryn stayed into the evening, even helping him put his daughter to bed. As he turned on the mobile she stood back, hovering in the doorway.
Chakotay settled his daughter and whispered quietly to her until she fell asleep. He turned to Kathryn, a smile on his face, and stopped short. She was gone.
Satisfying himself that Rose was settled for the night, he turned on the baby monitor and crept back downstairs. He looked around the house and finally saw Kathryn back on the porch staring out over the garden.
Not wanting to intrude too much, he made a little noise and walked out to join her, sitting the monitor on the table so he could hear if Rose woke up. “Kathryn? Are you all right?”
She jumped, telling him that she hadn’t heard his approach despite his best intentions. She turned away quickly and wiped at her face. “I’m sorry. Forgive me for a moment of weakness.”
He moved closer so that he could see her face. “This was too much. I shouldn’t have…”
She spun around to face him, her eyes showing the evidence of her tears. “Chakotay, I decided to stay. You offered me an out, but I wanted to do this.”
He nodded slowly as he leaned against the rail. “More of your test?”
She looked a little hurt at that. “No…not really. It was a spur of the moment thing. I just wanted to…” She shook her head and looked back out over the garden. “I wanted to see if I could be around her…around a baby. I’m sorry if that sounds…” She looked back at him. “She’s adorable, Chakotay. She invites it. It’s hard to resist her. Besides, I can’t avoid children in my life. They’re everywhere I look. And I was fine…except for that moment upstairs.”
Chakotay nodded sadly. “Was it her, or me being with her?”
Kathryn blew out a breath. “You’re perceptive, Chakotay. Very well spotted.” She looked down at her hands and stroked the rail. “I’ll be honest. Seeing you with her like that…” She swallowed loudly.
Chakotay moved a little closer. “It should have been us with our son.”
She looked up at him, her eyes brimming with tears, and nodded. “I’m sorry.”
He reached out and laid a gentle hand on her arm. “You have nothing to be sorry about, Kathryn.” He didn’t know what else to say. He cursed his inability to say the right thing.
Kathryn broke the awkward moment. She wiped at her face again and managed a small smile. “Any chance of a coffee?”
Chakotay smiled, grateful to be on safer ground. “One coffee coming up. Do you want to sit inside or stay out here? Either is fine.”
Kathryn looked around and caught sight of the monitor. “You can hear her out here if she wakes?” He nodded. “Outside then, if that’s alright. It’s such a lovely evening.” She frowned then. “Am I overstaying my welcome? I don’t want to intrude or keep you from anything. I had some nerve just turning up here like this.”
Chakotay squeezed her arm. “You’re fine. Stay as long as you want.”
She nodded her thanks to that. “I just have so much I need to say and… If that’s all right.”
He knew they both needed to talk all this out. “I’ll just get that coffee. Make yourself comfortable.”
The next half hour was filled with small talk, both of them easing towards what needed to be said. Kathryn drained her second cup of coffee. “I’ll go and see Tom and B'Elanna later in the week. I wasn’t exactly my old charming self the last time I spoke with them.”
Chakotay leaned back in his chair. “They’re your friends, Kathryn. They understand.”
She nodded at that and played with her empty cup. “Still though…”
Chakotay watched her for a few moments, unsure of how direct to be. Finally he decided that she’d prefer his honestly. Kathryn beat him to it though.
“Chakotay, please just be yourself with me. If you want to say something, just say it.”
He looked embarrassed for a moment at seemingly having his thoughts read. “It’s not easy.”
Kathryn simply shrugged. “These things never are, but you have to get past them.” She sat forward, continuing to look at him. “I’ve worked through so much of this already. I think I just find it easier to talk now.” She sighed and leaned back again.
“I dealt with my demons and I drew a line under them. I can talk about it all now without the emotional shuddering or attachment I had before. That may sound cold, but it’s the way I have to deal with it. I refuse to let it take over my present and future. You need to do the same.” She sighed. “Something I learned is that we are what we are not by what happens to us, but by how we deal with the cards we’re dealt in this life. We’re shaped by those events and how we handle them.”
Chakotay slumped in his chair. “That’s the problem for me…how I handled it and dealt with it.”
Kathryn nodded her understanding to that. “That’s something else I learned. Your reaction isn’t completely uncommon in men. Elizabeth was right about that. You find it harder to show your emotions.” She looked at him sadly. “It was totally uncharacteristic for you though.” She shook her head and leaned a little closer to him. “Chakotay, your pain found only one release or outlet. You coped the only way you could, even if that meant hurting the one you loved. For you it was external. For me, internal.”
Chakotay’s face showed his pain. “Don’t make excuses for me, Kathryn.”
Her voice grew a little hard as she stared at him. “I’m not making excuses for you. I’m giving you reasons.”
Chakotay sighed heavily. “To me that means the same thing.” He stood quickly and walked to the rail, looking out over the garden, the light growing dim now. “I always wanted and swore to protect you and the baby. And I did at first. I always wanted to protect you…and yet in the end, I was the one who hurt you the most.” He looked back at her, his face a mask of pain. “Who was there to protect you from me?”
His question hung in the air for a moment before he turned to look back out over the garden. “I so want to just beg for your forgiveness and yet I don’t want to know your answer to that. It’s way too soon anyway. You see, I think I’m afraid that you might and…” He stopped and looked back at her. “What I mean is…” He forced his words out, needing to be completely open with her. “I don’t know if your forgiving me would make me happy or make me feel even worse…more guilty.”
Kathryn watched him and stood also, moving towards him. “What right have I or anyone else to judge you? You made a mistake, acted irrationally perhaps, yet pain can make us all do irrational things and act that way. It makes us do things we deeply regret later on because we’re blinded by that pain. We’re all capable of that. You repressed a lot of your emotions with anger. It was always going to come back to you though…come back at you. I couldn’t do that at the time and I buried it all.” She sighed heavily. “Looking at it now all this time later, neither of us coped with the situation in the way we expected of ourselves…or in the way we should have. I certainly never thought I would hit so low…”
Chakotay blew out a long breath. “I think I hit lower…”
Kathryn shook her head. “It wasn’t a competition.” She sighed. “Let your guilt go, Chakotay. It will destroy you and I don’t need it. It will eat you up like it did me.”
He shook his head. “I just can’t understand why you don’t hate me…how you can even talk to me or look at me. How can you be so forgiving?”
Kathryn closed her eyes a moment and blew out a long breath. She shook her head as she looked at him again. “Look, all this happened. We can’t change it, but memories aside, which will always be there, it’s over. The loss… It’s still there but with distance and time, the pain of that loss lessens. We never forget but it doesn’t hurt quite as much. It isn’t as raw. You learn to see beyond it. We need to go forward now in order to heal. We need to find a happy future, and dragging a load from the past behind us isn’t going to make that happen. It’s not the way to move forward.” She shrugged. “So we deal with it and take the good memories from the past and leave the rest behind.”
She leaned back and studied him. “Do you feel you need punishment or something?”
Chakotay sighed. “Yes, I think I do.”
Kathryn leaned towards him, her voice soft. “Tell me this. You say you regret how you acted…hate yourself for it…feel guilt and all of that.”
Chakotay held her eyes. “Yes, I do.”
Kathryn barely nodded. “Well, don’t you think your own conscience is punishing you enough then…more than I ever could?”
Chakotay almost wanted to laugh. “Fine words, Kathryn, but…”
Kathryn leaned into him, stopping his words. “But what?”
Chakotay just shrugged, not having an answer.
Kathryn stared at him for a moment. Suddenly she drew her hand back and smacked him hard across the face. “There. Does that help?”
Chakotay’s head snapped back and he saw stars. He stared at her in shock for a moment then saw her face play with a smile. She bit her lip in an effort to control it and brought her hand to her mouth. “I’m sorry, but…”
Her struggle with laughter infected Chakotay, and before he knew what was happening they both burst out laughing. They laughed for several minutes before finally gaining control. Chakotay reached up to his face and rubbed at it. He made a show of testing his jaw. “God, you pack some power in that hand.” He suddenly sobered, somehow feeling that joking wasn’t right despite their laughter. He looked at her sadly. “I’m sorry. Joking doesn’t seem right.”
Kathryn grew serious too. “Oh Chakotay, never apologize for laughing. Elizabeth and I laughed a lot during my therapy. We still do. She believes laughter is a great healer…and so do I.” She schooled her face into a semi-serious expression. “I’m sorry for hitting you though…even if you asked for it. You’re so set on this idea of needing punishment.” She blew out a breath. “Actually, that’s the second time I’ve smacked you in the face.”
Chakotay moved away a little and feigned terror. “Just in case you decide to test the theory that things happen in threes.” They laughed together again but this time it was more comfortable.
Chakotay lit a lantern as Kathryn sat back and watched him. “That’s better. Sorry I don’t have proper lighting out here. I’m still working on the house.”
Kathryn nodded as she studied the flickering of the flame. “I didn’t notice how dark it was getting.”
Chakotay sat down in the chair beside her. “More coffee? Or would you prefer some wine?”
Kathryn smiled. “Nothing, thanks. I’m still taking some medications and wine wouldn’t exactly agree with them.”
Chakotay studied her. “You’ve been through so much…” He let his voice trail off, guilt filling him again. He jumped when he felt Kathryn’s soft hand on his arm. He realized how much he’d missed her touch.
Kathryn smiled softly at him. “So have you.”
He just shook his head. “Not the way you have.” He studied her a moment. “What was it like?” He shocked himself with his question.
Kathryn frowned. “When?”
Having voiced his question, he continued. “In the clinic…when…”
Kathryn looked away and watched a moth flit around the lantern. “When I was ‘not there’?” She looked at him and saw him nod. She looked back to the moth’s dance and sighed.
“I withdrew. It wasn’t a conscious decision to do that. Not really. It just somehow happened, although I didn’t fight it. In fact, I welcomed it, so maybe it really was my own doing.”
She withdrew her hand from his arm and laced her fingers together, then sat back. Her eyes still followed the moth though, joined now by a mate. “I remember waking up at the hospital, realizing I’d failed once more, and I didn’t want to face the life I had again. I pulled back…tried to block everything out. Once I started on that road, they moved me to the clinic. When I was there… It was like walking into a dark room and shutting the door behind me, closing off the light…then lying down and sleeping.”
She looked around at him. “Seeing Rose…hearing her… It was as if I was seeing and hearing through a thick fog…and then snatches of things until… It was like all these blank spaces being filled in, and part of me wanted to stop it happening.” She sighed heavily. “But there was always someone there…you, Tom, B'Elanna, Elizabeth, the nurses…keeping me there. For a time, I hated you all so much for that.”
Chakotay smiled sadly. “You damned us all.”
Kathryn shook her head sadly. “I remember. I felt like a prisoner in my own reality and you were all my jailors. All I wanted was to escape back to where I’d been. But someone was always watching…listening…” She shrugged and managed a small smile.
“Oh…I know now about the imagers in the bathroom. That was sly. I should have known though.” She looked sadly down at her hands. “The captain would have. It shows how much I’ve slipped, doesn’t it?”
Chakotay sat forward. “Kathryn, you were ill.”
She waved that away. “I know. It’s just an observation.”
They were silent for several minutes until Chakotay saw her shiver slightly. “Would you prefer to go inside? It’s getting a little chilly out here.”
Kathryn rubbed at her arms. “Yes. And if I could be so bold as to ask you for another coffee before I head back.” She didn’t miss the sad look on Chakotay’s face, but he covered it quickly.
“Come on. You sit down in the lounge and I’ll get the coffee.”
Chakotay stopped short when he returned with the coffee. Kathryn stood at the mantle examining the image of Voyager’s crew which stood framed there. She turned to look at him. “I’m surprised you didn’t cut me out of this.”
He came into the room and put the cups down on the small table. “Actually… Well, I didn’t cut you out of it, but I did cover your face.” He felt beyond embarrassed but was determined to be honest with her. “It was very childish, I know. I feel terrible about it now.”
Kathryn just smiled and moved to the couch. “When did you change it back?”
He sat also and moved her cup towards her. “After I started visiting you…just before bringing Rose in. I can’t remember exactly. It just felt right.”
Kathryn grew serious. “Why did you keep coming to the clinic after that first time?”
Chakotay sighed. “I kept coming because I realized I cared…still cared.” He looked embarrassed at that. “I wanted and needed to keep coming. I realized I didn’t hate you and know now I never really could have hated you, although with the way I behaved you could only think I did. I even convinced myself. You should hate me though.”
Kathryn lifted her cup and took a long drink. “Chakotay, I wish that you could accept that I don’t and didn’t hate you…and that I can forgive you if that’s what you feel you need.”
He took a drink of his tea and watched her over the rim of his cup. “How can you?”
Kathryn smiled at that. “Oh, Chakotay… Look, I’m not Saint Kathryn.” She laughed briefly. “I think there are enough of them already.” She sighed, letting her laughter die. “I’m just doing what my heart feels. Letting it go helps me to move on and I have to do that if I’m to have any life at all.”
She put her cup down and sat back. “I don’t hate you, Chakotay. I never did.” She dropped her head to the side as she studied him. “Remember what you said about when you first saw me at the clinic? You said you pitied me.” He nodded. “Well, strangely, I pitied you too. When all this happened first and I saw how you were…” She shrugged. “I pitied you, but I never hated you. I saw your pain and it broke my heart…on top of my own pain. And later when I heard about Louise…”
She sat forward and continued. “Yes, you hurt me, but we often hurt those we love most. And I guess it hurts more because that hurt is being caused by the one we love, but I believe you can move past that.”
Chakotay acknowledged that, not sure if he believed it yet. “What about when I came to see you…when you came out of it?”
Kathryn sighed. “I didn’t know how to act with you or what to say. It had been so long and so much had happened. Eventually it all rushed out and I know I talked a lot, much of it confused. All I felt I’d done wrong in my entire life just crowded in on me. I let all my anger out at you…lashed out at you.” She smiled softly. “Sound familiar?”
Chakotay shook his head. “I deserved it.” He ran a hand through his hair. “No matter what you say, I know I can’t ever atone for the way I treated you. We can sit here like this and talk, but it’ll always be there between us. You’ll always remember how I let you down, and you’ll always be waiting for me to do that again. You can say all this is in the past, but it’s like being bitten by a dog or suffering a near drowning. That fear will always be there and you’ll never forget it. When all is said and done, you’ll never be able to trust me again.” He sighed heavily. “I tried to explain a lot of this to you at the clinic.”
Kathryn looked at him sadly. “I know. I remember.”
He didn’t seem to hear her. “So no matter what you say, all this exists and it can’t be pushed into the past.” He turned more fully to look at her. “Kathryn, you can tell me all you want that you forgive me, and maybe that’s because you think I want or need to hear that. Deep down though…deep down, Kathryn, can you tell me hand on heart that you can ever forgive me completely, that you won’t be haunted by the way I treated you?”
Kathryn stared hard at him. “Where’s all this coming from, Chakotay? I can tell you now that I can’t deal with this yet. I had a lot to work through, from this and from my life before you. I still have a lot of work to do. How I dealt with personal pain in my life, and you were just one incidence of that, is still unresolved in my mind. I need to learn coping skills and so on, because I’m not so arrogant as to believe that tragedy won’t visit me again some time. It may not, but I have to be prepared for it if it does. My history speaks for itself.” She shook her head.
“So you ask me about forgiveness. I can tell you that I understand why you acted as you did. As to forgiveness… I think you’re confusing forgiveness with forgetting. I can forgive you for doing what you did, for acting as you did. Can I forget? No, probably not. Can I let go of the hurt I feel at how you acted? Let’s just say I’m still working on that…for you and for myself. My issues with all this don’t just concern you. They also concern me. I’m learning to forgive myself too. I’m working hard on all of it because I want and need to let all that go…and I’m getting there. It’s slow, but I am getting there.”
She leaned over and lifted her cup, draining it. She studied it a moment before putting it back on the table. “I can only work through my own part in all this. You need to work through your part yourself. I can’t deal with your feelings as well as my own. Can you understand that?”
He nodded slowly. “Elizabeth suggested some form of counselling for me. Maybe she was right.”
Kathryn thought about that and nodded. “It would help you, I think. You’re carrying a lot of guilt and pain inside you. It’s time to let that go. If not for yourself, then for that little girl upstairs.” She watched him think about that and smiled to herself, then stood.
“Chakotay, thank you for seeing me, especially when I turned up out of the blue. Thank you also for letting me talk about all this to you. It’s helped me a lot. I hope it’s helped you too in some way.”
Chakotay looked up at her and forced a smile, then stood also. “It has helped. It’s…” He managed more of a smile now. “Do you have to go?”
Kathryn nodded. “Yes. I have to get back.”
He nodded again. “To the clinic? Can I call someone there to pick you up?”
She shook her head. “No. I see Elizabeth as an out-patient now.” She smiled. “Actually, I have an apartment…temporary. I need to know I can cope before I take on somewhere permanently. I want to be sure. In time I’d like to get a house…somewhere with a garden.”
He understood that. “It sounds good.”
She smiled. “So far so good.” Her smile faded as she looked at him. “I need to find my life again, Chakotay. Well, find A life.”
Chakotay looked down at his hands, playing with a fingernail. He suddenly felt her loss, even when she was still standing before him. She picked up on it. “Chakotay, what is it?”
He looked up and shrugged. “I don’t know. I just suddenly don’t want you to go. I feel like I’m losing you, or won’t see you again.” He smiled sadly. “Sorry. I’ve no right to say that, and I don’t know where it came from.”
Kathryn reached out and laid a hand over one of his. “You’ll see me again. For now, I need to find my life again…regain the strength to live it.”
Chakotay looked down at her hand on his. “Can I ever be a part of that life?” He wasn’t sure what he meant.
Kathryn decided to be honest. “I don’t know, Chakotay. I’m not sure what way you mean that.”
He tried to hide his embarrassment. “I don’t know either. It just came out.”
She nodded at that. “We’ve been through a lot today…a lot of emotion. I can only repeat that I don’t know. That’s the only answer I can give you. There’s still a lot of healing to do…for you as well as for me. I’d hope we could eventually be friends.”
He took what he was offered. “I’d like that too.”
She smiled at that. “So would I.” She cleared her throat when a silence followed. “Well, I’d better go home.”
He moved back to let her pass. “Can I call for a transport for you? I’d walk you only…”
She shook her head and smiled. “You can’t leave Rose. Besides, the station is just around the corner. I used it to come here so I know the way.”
As she moved past Chakotay, he reached out and touched her arm. “Kathryn, it’s been really wonderful to see you. I’m…” He drew in a deep breath. “Can I be very forward and ask if I can hug you?”
He was rewarded with a smile and a nod of her head. He reached for her slowly and pulled her to him, embracing her gently. He whispered into her ear. “Thank you.”
ON TO PART TEN.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.