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Summary: Believing that Kathryn doesn’t need him, Chakotay leaves Earth but
unable to face life without her, he returns only to learn that she has been
killed. When an old Maquis friend tells him that she’s still alive but
a prisoner, Chakotay must return to his old life to try and rescue her
but will there be anything left of Kathryn for him to bring back?
WARNING: This story contains graphic material of a violent and sexual nature.
If you are offended by such, please do not read on.
THE DARKEST NIGHT.
By KAT LADY.
Chakotay sat and looked out at the gently rolling landscape before him. It had always calmed him in times of trouble as a young man but now it seemed to mock him, for him ever having had such adolescent beliefs. He had hoped to feel more at peace with himself now that he was back on his home world but the pain he wanted rid of, stayed with him and ate away at his insides.
He lay back in the long grass and let the sun warm his skin and tried to revisit a time when all had been right with his world but life wasn’t like that and his memories came in a lump sum, no part of them willing to be left out. Despite his best efforts, he found himself thinking back over the last three months, three months since he had been with Kathryn.
He let his mind wander back to their homecoming and the hope he had held in his heart on that day, that Kathryn might finally come to him. As soon as he heard about her being offered promotion to Admiral, he began to have doubts though, afraid his past would contaminate her future. These added to the doubts already in existence within him, the ones fuelled by the sight of Mark Johnson meeting Kathryn and pulling her into his arms, along with the fact that Kathryn had seemed perfectly at home there. They were separated for a week while debriefings went on and decisions about their future were made and at the end of the seven day period, he had heard that Kathryn was back with Mark, the man having been divorced the previous year and that she had accepted the position offered to her by Starfleet. All this had come from Mark via several crewmembers and Chakotay believed every word. Not wanting to, in his mind, be a burden on her life, he had held off on the offer of a full time position with Starfleet and left for his home, taking the time offered to them all to re-establish their lives. The fact that all Maquis had been exonerated, was the only happy news he had received.
Chakotay had stayed well away from everyone once he had reunited with what family and friends he had left on his home planet and gone off hiking into the mountains, seeking solitude and a peace that eluded him. Now almost three months later, he had been out of touch with everyone and everything and knew he would have to face the world again soon. He lay awake under the stars most nights and let his mind find the happiness it craved in memories of the past, of happier times with Kathryn. Her name seemed to whisper to him on the breeze and many times now, he began to wonder if he was losing his sanity or if his desperation to be with the only woman he would ever love, was getting to him.
He heaved himself up into a sitting position, his trip into the past having finally pushed him to a decision. He packed his few belongings and slowly made his way down the mountain, back to the only life he had. He knew now that he could no more live without seeing Kathryn in any way, that he could live without breathing. He made the decision to take the posting with Starfleet and try his best to at least be friends with Kathryn. To have her even in this way was far better than never seeing her again.
Chakotay arrived on Earth the following week and contacted Starfleet. He accepted their position and was informed that he was to report for duty in a week’s time. As he acknowledged the path he had taken, he was so deep in his thinking about it all, that he failed to notice the strange looks he received from the young Lieutenant in change of reinstatements.
Donning his new uniform, he made a further decision and decided to call on Kathryn, knowing she would most likely be staying with her mother for a while. Without calling ahead or waiting to see Tom, B’Elanna or any of the other crew first, he transported directly to the station nearest the Janeway house, hoping Kathryn would be open to the idea that they remain friends. He didn’t even think about what Mark might say and didn’t care either way.
He slowly walked the last quarter mile to Kathryn’s former home and from a slight distance, thought her saw her in the garden. Smiling to himself, he coughed as he got closer. The woman who turned to see who had disturbed her could only he knew, be Kathryn’s sister Phoebe.
“Oh, sorry…you must be Phoebe…I’m Cha…” He got no further and didn’t understand the anger he saw on the woman’s face.
“Oh I know who you are. What I don’t know is how you have the damned cheek to come here…” She saw the totally confused look on Chakotay’s face and shook her head angrily. “What do you want Commander? Sorry if I have your rank wrong but basically I don’t give a damn…” Chakotay was almost hit in the face with her sarcasm and stepped back a bit, not understanding what was wrong.
“Look I don’t know you and I’m sorry if my turning up here like this is wrong but I just wanted to see Kathryn…let her know I’m back…” He jumped when Phoebe threw the gardening spade she held in his general direction, never really being in any danger of hitting him.
“You total bastard…how dare you…” Chakotay was getting annoyed now.
“Look Phoebe, I’m sorry if I upset you in some way. I just want to see Kathryn and tell her some things…” The woman mellowed slightly for a moment but then seemed to make a decision and her anger returned. Suddenly she laughed scornfully.
“Oh yes of course. I suppose you’re here to say you love her and all that…” Chakotay was getting more angry now, not feeling as if this stranger to him, had any right to speak the way she was.
“Not that it’s any of your business but yes I do love Kathryn. If she wasn’t with Mark…” Phoebe’s laughter cut across him.
“Kathryn’s not with Mark. He thought he had a chance for a while there but Kathryn set him straight on that. Seems she was in love with someone else, only he left her and went away, broke her heart in the end…” Chakotay gasped.
“Phoebe please…are you saying Mark’s not…that he and Kathryn aren’t…?” He saw her nod her head, confirming his words but he saw something in her eyes he couldn’t name. “Phoebe, I know you obviously don’t trust me but please understand, I thought…I…Phoebe I have to see her…I love her…” All he got in return was her scornful stare.
“Do you have any idea what your leaving did to my sister? Mark or no Mark, you owed it to her to at least say goodbye or something…explain even…but you just left and no one knew where you were…and yes, she desperately tried to find you, tried until… you just disappeared and left her.” She saw the tears in his eyes but ignored them. “Mom and I were the ones who had to try and get her through that, see her tears, hear her crying, listen to her call out to you in her sleep. She loved you so much and you just walked away without a word…even the lowest crewmember gave her more courtesy than that…” Chakotay squeezed his eyes shut a moment.
“Phoebe please…I made a lot of mistakes but you have to understand I never knew where I stood with Kathryn…that’s no excuse I know…I saw her with Mark and I heard things…I was…I ran…I’m sorry…I couldn’t face that…” He begged with his eyes for understanding.
“You made your mistake and now you live with it, well tough…” He moved towards her.
“Phoebe please…I just want to speak with her…tell her sorry…explain if I can…” He saw her eyes go cold, as she stared at him. He was vaguely aware of an old woman approaching and then standing just behind Phoebe but his eyes stayed on the younger face. Phoebe’s face almost turned him to stone.
“Well Commander, you’re too late…my sister’s dead…” She glared at him before storming off.
“PHOEBE…” The old lady sounded angry and Chakotay’s eyes flew to the woman he knew now was Kathryn’s mother. His mind almost exploded and his heart seemed to stop. Kathryn…dead… He became aware of Gretchen Janeway touching his arm and leading him up onto the porch. He sank into a chair, every part of him numb.
“Kathryn…no…she can’t…” His eyes flew to the old woman’s, praying he would see a smile on her face or a laugh, something to tell him that this was Phoebe’s sick joke but all he saw was a deep sadness and pain, the pain that can only come from the loss of someone you loved dearly.
Gretchen Janeway sat slowly beside the man she had heard so much about from her daughter, the conversations they had had late into the night when her younger daughter had gone to bed. She treasured the memories of those hours now, holding onto them for the precious gift they were, knowing they were all she had left.
“Chakotay, I’m so sorry. My daughter…” He saw her struggle with the words. “Kathryn was killed three weeks ago.” Through her old eyes, she saw her pain mirrored in those of the man before her. “I was sure you would have heard…” Chakotay shook his head.
“What…what happened…?” He stared out at the garden and it suddenly came to him that Kathryn had stared at this scene all her young life. That thought only tore at him and he pushed it away. He turned back to the woman beside him when she began to speak.
“What Phoebe said was true. I ask you to excuse her by the way. She’s in a lot of pain and she’s very angry at the world right now. She was right though, Kathryn loved you dearly. She missed you very much and did try and find you. She was in a lot of pain. Mark tried calling many times but she ignored him. It was only ever you she wanted. As to why she never told you of her feelings, I know she felt she couldn’t on the ship. She was just waiting for the right time when you got home…” Chakotay nodded, afraid to speak.
“Anyway, she tried everyone to see if they could help her find you…but no one knew…I saw what she went through and she talked to me, for which I’ll always be grateful. She told me all about you and I saw how much she loved you and how hurt she was. She opened up to me in a way she never had before.” Chakotay was aware of his tears but didn’t try and hide them.
“She never took that position of Admiral. She said she always wanted to be a Captain and she wasn’t sure she wanted to stay on with Starfleet anyway. I saw the way she was and there was nothing I could do to help. Eventually, she tried to block it all out, Kathryn’s way with most things…” She smiled softly and sadly at the memory. “She decided to take one last trip into space. I think she wanted to see if she could ever be happy out there without you…” They were both silent now, lost in memories. Chakotay grasped at anything.
“Mrs. Janeway…was she…was she happy there?” Gretchen’s old eyes filled with tears.
“Gretchen please…I don’t know Chakotay, I never found out. Her ship was near…I’m not sure where exactly…somewhere near Cardassia. The Peace Treaty opened up a lot of trade and so on between there and here. Her ship never made it…” She wiped at the tears that flowed down her face now.
“I’m sorry…forgive me…I’ll tell this quickly…best way for me… Kathryn’s ship went down with all hands. That’s the way they told it anyway. There was some malfunction or something. Either way, there was a warp core breach I think they called it and they didn’t get the ship under control. They crashed onto one of the land masses on…oh God…I can’t even remember the name of the place now and basically I don’t want to know it. My daughter’s gone, having only come back to me so the place or the name or the how, really doesn’t matter anymore… I’ve lost her, this time for good. I only hope it was quick for her at the end…that she didn’t suffer or know pain… but I torture myself knowing she saw it coming…how helpless she must have felt…what her last thoughts were…there wasn’t even a body…the crash…explosion…” Unable to take any more, Gretchen Janeway broke down completely and Chakotay fell to his knees and folded the fragile body into his arms. They cried together for a long time, watched by the younger Janeway daughter, standing behind the window, tears pouring down her own face.
Later on, Gretchen walked Chakotay to the gate and smiled softly at him as she squeezed his arm.
“Chakotay, what happened when you all got home…I’m too old for all that. All I want now is my memories, the ones of the child and the young girl who was, the woman I saw her become. I treasure all of that. I lost her but I got her back for a while and I’ll treasure those memories too. In a way, what happened between you brought us closer for those weeks. Those memories are all I have now. I can tell you this though, she loved you deeply and wouldn’t have made it home without you. You were her rock out there, meant everything to her and she deeply regretted having to hold back. I know that because she told me herself.” Chakotay nodded, drawing in a deep breath to control himself.
As she went to return to the house, Gretchen Janeway turned back then leaned forward and pulled Chakotay down to her. Gently she kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you so much for loving my girl and being there for her, for making it easier. I’ll always love you for that. I hope you come here again some time, tell me about what it was like out there, what she was like. In time, I want to know it all, it’s just too soon and too painful at the moment. I’d love for you to be able to share that side of her with me.” She pulled back a little and took his hand. “I want you to have this. It’s an earring, one of a pair. I have the other one but I would dearly love for you to have this one. I know you loved her and I understand how it was for you. Mark has a lot of blame to take over the way he acted. I believe he wanted you to think Kathryn was back with him. Anyway, please take this and keep it with you. We both loved her and it helps me to know that you have something of her, even if it’s just this but it’s special. Edward and I got those for her on her 12th birthday.” Chakotay was too choked up to speak and just pulled Gretchen into his arms. When he found his voice again, he kissed her on the forehead and smiled sadly.
“I’ll treasure it for all time, I promise you that and I will come back. Being here is a link to her for me. Thank you Gretchen. I’m just so sorry…” She leaned up, pressed a finger to his lips, and smiled.
“You can’t change the past Chakotay. Take the good from it and remember it. We were blessed to have known her.” He hugged her again and left. As he walked away, he looked back to see Phoebe helping her mother into the house, gently supporting her. Chakotay knew neither they nor he would ever be happy again.
When he got back to San Francisco, he called immediately on Tom and B’Elanna. He found Harry and Seven there visiting. Tom took one look at him and knew.
“Oh Chakotay, we’ve tried so hard to find you…” Chakotay nodded.
“I know Tom, I’m sorry… I came back to find Kathryn…” He saw the stricken look on the younger man’s face. “Tom It’s OK, I know. I was with her mother all afternoon. I called there…didn’t know…” Tom gasped.
“Oh Chakotay…you only found out today? Oh God, I’m so sorry…” He pulled the big man into a tight hug and saw his wife standing behind them with tears flowing down her face. He stood back and left them together, going back inside to explain to Harry and Seven.
B’Elanna led him into the kitchen and sat, then listened quietly for the next two hours as Chakotay poured out all his pain and guilt. When she saw how drained he was, she led him upstairs and eased him into the bed in their spare room, sitting quietly beside him and stroking his hair until he drifted off.
Chakotay stayed with them for a few days and then reported to Headquarters, needing something to throw himself into, something to bury the pain and hide behind. Tom and B’Elanna were already working there and kept an eye on him. Chakotay forced himself into a routine over the next week, making himself seek out an apartment and blocking out everything. Tom made him have lunch with him and B’Elanna each day, determined that any off time his former First Officer had, would not be spent with only his memories of what could have been for company.
The day was warm and B’Elanna had brought a picnic lunch, demanding that the two men with her eat al fresco for a change, telling them sternly that they didn’t get enough fresh air into their lungs. The ‘boys’ exchanged a look and Tom laughed.
“Yes mother…anything you say…” He yelped at the smack on the arm he got. “Hey Chakotay, help me out here…” They both turned when they didn’t get an answer. “Chakotay?” He turned back to them briefly.
“Sorry you two…excuse me a moment. I’m sure I know…it can’t be…” He stood up and walked towards a man who seemed to be watching him from across the park. Tom and B’Elanna looked to where Chakotay had been looking but couldn’t make out who the person was. Shrugging, they returned to their food.
Chakotay walked towards the man, trying to pin down the face. Suddenly the figure moved towards him, acting almost as if he hadn’t seen him until this second.
“Well hello stranger…” Chakotay squinted against the bright sunshine, trying to identify the face behind the familiar voice.
“Peter? Oh good God…I don’t believe…is that really you?” He stood, totally stunned as the other man walked towards him slowly, his height now blocking out the glare of the sun and Chakotay saw him close up. He was greyer and hard times showed on his features but everything else he remembered was there.
“Hey Maquis…how’s life treating you…as if I have to ask…?” He eyed the uniform Chakotay wore. “Starfleet now I see…I have heard all the stories of course…” Chakotay was almost lost for wards.
“God Peter…it’s so good to see you…what are you doing here? How…?” He shook his head, the questions queuing up in his brain, each one seeking to be asked first. He saw the man look around him, as if checking to see if anyone was in earshot. Suddenly he stared off over Chakotay’s shoulder.
“Is that B’Elanna Torres? I don’t believe it…” Chakotay nodded.
“That’s her all right. She’s changed a lot. I guess like me, she found peace…” He trailed off, knowing he’d never have peace again. Peter didn’t appear to notice the change on Chakotay’s face, or if he did, he didn’t let on.
“Don’t tell me that’s our old friend Tom Paris with her… I take it we were wrong about him then…” Chakotay looked over his shoulder at his two friends, watching them as they ate quietly, not minding him.
“We were very wrong Peter. He didn’t run out on us or betray us. You must know by now he ended up a Starfleet prisoner before Ka… before coming onto Voyager…” The other man met his eyes and nodded understanding.
“Yeh, I heard about that but…well you know…you’re never sure what to believe.” They were both silent for a moment before Peter spoke again. “Chakotay, do you trust them?” Chakotay frowned. “B’Elanna and Tom Paris…do you trust them?” Chakotay didn’t need time to think about it.
“With my life Peter. They’re married to each other now you know. In answer to your question though…I trust them more than anyone…” Peter bit his lip and nodded, his thoughts his own for a moment.
“I thought that would be your answer. Look Chakotay, I know you’re Fleet now and that they are too but… I guess in Starfleet’s eyes…I’m no enemy. They never knew I was part of the Maquis. I checked through their records. My name is nowhere in their files and believe me…I had ways of checking pretty deeply into those files…” Chakotay listened and watched, saying nothing. He remembered Peter Conway well from the ‘old days’ and how bravely he had fought. Like Chakotay, he had lost family to the Cardassians in the DMZ but he had always kept his identity well covered, something Chakotay had used to their advantage many times.
“Peter, what is all this and am I going to like it? I get the feeling this was no chance meeting.” The man smiled, a smile Chakotay remembered well.
“You still know me too well Chakotay. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I trust you though.” He stopped and thought a moment then pressed a piece of paper into Chakotay’s hand. “There’s an address written on that. You know me, always preferred paper to padds. Meet me there about 16.00 and I’ll fill you in. Bring B’Elanna and Tom with you.” He saw the uncertainty on his former Captain’s face. “Chakotay, you can trust me. It’s safe. This is important though or I wouldn’t ask…” Chakotay nodded and slipped the piece of paper into his pocket.
“All right Peter, we’ll be there.” Peter just nodded and with a quick look around him, slipped away. When Chakotay looked up a moment later, he was gone.
A few minutes early, Chakotay knocked on the door of the small house, set well back off the street and shaded by trees, which matched the address he had been given. He glanced at Tom and B’Elanna, as they looked around them, none of them sure what to expect. They had agreed to accompany their former First Officer as soon as he had asked, not needing to question why, just trusting him. Almost immediately the door opened and Peter stood before them. He leaned out the door and scanned the area before ushering them in, not a word spoken by him.
They entered a large room, almost unfurnished and Chakotay knew immediately that no one lived in this house, the lack of furnishings and the damp and dusty smell which permeated this place telling him that. He listened for a moment to his gut instinct which told him that whatever Peter was involved with, it was something he was better off not knowing about but he also paid heed to his memories of the past which spoke of the loyalty this man had shown him. The three of them turned when Peter came in behind them and gestured for them all to sit on the few chairs around a wooden table. B’Elanna reached out and hugged him first, Tom just smiling gently before shaking hands with Peter himself.
When they were all sitting, Peter pulled a chair out from the table and sat down, silently watching the three people across from him for a moment.
“OK, let me fill you in. I’m trusting you all here and the fact that you’ve all come here today wearing civilian clothing puts my mind at rest a bit.” They stayed quiet and let him continue. “Some of this you know, some you don’t but bear with me.” They all nodded.
“Shortly after you disappeared, I left the Maquis. A few others left with me, others whose names weren’t on anyone’s lists either. I guess we saw the beginning of the end coming. Anyway, we stayed in close contact with each other, mainly because no one else could understand what we had gone through and I guess it was a kind of support network for each other. After the Peace Treaty was signed, a few of us formed a kind of splinter group. You could say we didn’t like some of the finer points of the Treaty but we agreed with the main parts of it. Basically we wanted to make sure it went through and worked to serve everyone, not just those in power and of course, we wanted to ensure the compensation claims were honoured.” Chakotay drew in a deep breath but stayed silent.
“Anyway, we found out that a small group of Cardassians were thinking along the same lines of breaking away and found out that they had formed a small group of their own. You might have heard rumours of this…” Chakotay nodded.
“Starfleet is aware of such a group although verifying that is… They were supposed to be responsible for a few attacks on ships and settlements…nothing ever proved of course…” Peter smiled sadly.
“Take it from me…it’s not rumour. Of course the Cardassian Government denies all knowledge. However, for once they are being truthful. They know of them but they aren’t involved. It took a lot of checking to satisfy myself of that but it’s the truth. This group is basically a bunch of mercenaries, hell bent on profit for themselves with their ‘cause’ coming a poor second. At first we thought they were like us but that proved to be way off base. My group aren’t about that. We’re more about sabotage than killing and even that’s rare for us. Now believe it or not, there’s yet another group of Cardassians who believe like us. We’ve actually worked together. Their group though has the covert backing of their government whereas if Starfleet knew about us…well…I think they agree in principle but I haven’t been willing to take that chance and ask them…This first group…they have attacked ships…” Peter stopped and after a minute stood slowly.
“Chakotay, all of you…I’m here to ask for your help… This group, would you believe they actually called themselves ‘Dawn’, well Dawn has taken two of my people…people who joined me later so you don’t know them…and they’re holding them. They have a camp on one of the smaller planets…pretty much run the place like a mini Cardassia of old…well suffice to say, it’s well hidden and not generally known about. We also have a base…however enough about that for the moment.” He studied the three people before him. “I’m asking for your help in getting our people out. This Dawn…they’re holding these people…Chakotay, they haven’t asked for ransom or anything…they’ve no political plans for them even. They’re simply holding them in case they ever need to use them…although I have an idea that they have other reasons, that something is afoot… They even have some of their own people held there… All of them, well most of them…were just reported lost or dead. This way they won’t be missed. They can then keep them almost in stasis until they need them or if they need them. The Cardassian Government can’t be seen to help because the Federation aren’t involved…so it’s down to us…Chakotay please…I need you on this…need all of you…your experience and expertise… ” Chakotay sat stone still, his mind transported back in time.
“Peter, I can’t speak for the others but… Peter, I left all that behind me a long time ago. I found peace…” Peter smiled sadly at him.
“Until recently…” Chakotay’s head shot up. “I heard all about it Chakotay. Kathryn Janeway.” Chakotay clenched his fists and Peter saw it.
“Leave that alone Peter. She’s…she’s not here… she’s nothing to do with all this…she’s dead…” B’Elanna gripped his arm, knowing the pain he was in.
“Chakotay, listen to me. I know what happened. I know about her ship going down with all hands lost…” Chakotay pulled away from B’Elanna’s hand and pushed his chair back. He stood quickly and turned his back on the others.
“Chakotay…” No answer. “Chakotay please…” Finally he turned back to the others and the pain on his face was unmistakeable. Peter took a deep breath and seemed to consider his next words carefully.
“Chakotay…I don’t know if you’ll want to believe me on this but…” Chakotay finally met his eyes. “Chakotay…Kathryn Janeway is one of the prisoners I’m talking about.”
ON TO PART TWO.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.