Summary: Chakotay’s fall from grace triggers a revelation about the captain’s feelings.
Characters: Chakotay, Janeway
Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Chakotay/Riley (referenced)
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 13 prompt: “Try harder, next time.” Episode addition to Unity.
“They didn’t hesitate to impose their collective will on me when it served their interests, did they?”
“No, they didn't,” she replies.
“I wonder how long their ideals will last in the face of that kind of power.”
I slump against the biobed; exhausted and dispirited. My head aches. The Doctor warned me that the effect of the Cooperative’s neural link might take time to dissipate.
But the pain in my heart is far worse.
Kathryn hasn’t taken her eyes off me for a moment, but it’s not because she’s worried for me or reassuring herself that I’m all right.
Her body language is deliberately casual, and she stands no further form me than she usually would. But she’s looking at me as though I’m some sort of specimen, and not a pleasant one. A creature, unpredictable and dangerous, that keeps her on her guard.
Her eyes search mine.
Apparently dissatisfied with what she finds, she steps back, averting her gaze. “I should return to the bridge. Get some rest, Com- Chakotay.”
Already halfway across sickbay, her pace slows and she turns, her expression a mask. “Yes?”
“Didn’t I hear the Doctor telling you to get some sleep, too?” I move to her side, trying to keep my tone light, gesturing for her to precede me into the corridor. “Let Tuvok take the bridge. I’ll walk you to your quarters.”
Her answering smile is stiff, but she doesn’t argue. She remains silent throughout the seemingly endless journey to deck three, and it’s not until we reach her door that she finally clips out, “Well, Commander, thank you for the escort. I’ll see you in the morn-”
“We need to talk.”
“There’s nothing more to –”
“Yes, there is,” I contradict her, adding quietly, “Please.”
After a moment she nods and taps in her entry code. I follow her into her quarters.
“Lights, thirty percent,” she orders.
She goes straight to the replicator for a coffee, holding it before her like a shield, and doesn’t offer me a drink.
“You wanted to talk, Commander,” she says. “Talk.”
“You know I’d never have chosen this,” I begin. “I only wanted to help these people. If I’d known what Riley was planning …”
I trail off as she hisses softly through her teeth. She realises her mistake immediately and glares at me, daring me to call her on it.
She doesn’t realise how little I have to lose.
“Is that it?” I ask, stepping closer. “You’re angry with me over Riley?”
“She used you,” Kathryn says, flat. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“But you blame me, anyway.”
“Of course not.”
I’ve always known when she’s lying.
“Yes, you do,” I point out, another step closer. “You should. I blame myself.”
“You did nothing wrong,” she grits her teeth, eyes spitting wounded fury at me in direct conflict with her words.
My head throbs so badly I want to be sick, but it’s nothing compared to the pain written in her trembling stance. I reach out a hand, my fingers brushing her face; she flinches briefly away, then straightens, steel in the set of her jaw.
“I tried to resist,” I plead.
“Try harder, next time.”
And that’s when I realise she isn’t angry with me because I was manipulated into reactivating that Borg cube. She’s angry because I slept with another woman.
I can’t begin to catalogue the rush of emotions that infuses me at this realisation. I brush it all aside. What’s important right now isn’t my feelings, but hers.
I keep my voice low. “I’m sorry that I hurt you.”
Kathryn draws in a sharp breath. Her eyes glisten in the dim light, but her voice is perfectly even.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, Chakotay. No,” she insists, holding up a hand as I begin to shake my head in protest, “I mean that. This is the way things have to be.”
Her eyes are intent on mine, pleading for my allegiance, my support. And she will always have that.
I move into the ‘at ease’ stance, smoothing my expression into the well-practised middle ground between steadfast first officer and loyal friend.
“Understood, Captain,” I tell her with a hint of a smile. “I’ll see you on the bridge tomorrow.”
She nods, her eyes full with mingled gratitude and regret. “Dismi- good night, Commander.”