Circumstantial Evidence

Summary: Chakotay wonders where it all went wrong… and if there’s any way to save it.

 

Characters: Chakotay

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay

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 26 prompt: “But if you cannot see it, is it really there?” Episode addition to The Voyager Conspiracy.

Rated K

She has never said the words.

There was a time that didn’t matter. I thought I knew how she felt. I thought she trusted me, that she believed in me. I thought she loved me.

I may be the oldest fool who ever lived.

It’s the evening after it’s all over, and Seven is tucked up in her alcove, dreaming peacefully after all the trouble she’s caused. I think about the guilt on Kathryn’s face when we’d realised Seven was malfunctioning: the twist of sorrow she didn’t quite manage to hide with that wry smile I’ve become too used to seeing, the hand laid on my chest: Let’s keep this one out of our logs, huh?

We sip coffee at her table flush with candles; her face is soft and her body inviting in the stripped-down version of her uniform that’s as off-duty as she gets these days, and Kathryn says, We’ve been through too much to stop trusting each other.

Trust. I used to stand at her side, supporting her, accepting her decisions and carrying out her orders like a good soldier. Never blindly; never without question, but with unwavering loyalty to her. Believing that my instinctive faith in her from the day we met was justified, and that my vow to serve her, to shoulder whatever burdens she let me, was my place in life.

Then came the Borg and the slipstream flight and the Devore and the Equinox, and with each devastating, wrenching disagreement, I lost a little of that faith. I pulled back a little more. I gave her a little less.

Maybe there’s a good reason she doesn’t trust me the way she used to. Maybe she thinks I’ve broken my promise.

And maybe I have broken it – or at least fractured it by degrees, each disappointment and betrayal another splinter shaved away and used to fortify the walls we’ve learned to build around ourselves.

Things might have been so different if we’d both had a little more courage; if we hadn’t each pulled back at critical moments, held our tongues instead of speaking the truth. But she has never said the words.

Love. I love you. I’m in love with you.

She’s never told me that she loves me. But I didn’t think I needed the words; I thought the evidence was all around me, wrapped in her soft smile and lavish touch, carried in the low lilt of her voice on my name. Nurtured by shared stories and laughter and long evenings in her candlelit quarters; scored deep by mutual losses and setbacks. Sharp and present in those rare moments she let me through her guard, let me be with her in ways I craved.

Evidence. Proof, or so I told myself, of how she felt about me, even if she never said the words.

But if you can’t see it, is it really there? If you never hear the words, do you eventually stop listening?

Two years ago I’d have laughed off Seven’s conspiracy theories. She wouldn’t have made it past the first item on the list of unconnected events she presented as evidence of a Starfleet plot before I’d be hauling her down to sickbay. And no matter what so-called proof I was presented with, back then, I’d never have believed Kathryn could betray me.

Two years ago, she’d have rejected Seven’s accusations against me just as swiftly. Our bond was unshakeable, or so I thought. We could communicate volumes with a glance, a simple touch.

I thought I knew her, the way she knew me. Knew how we felt about each other. Knew that would never change. And, at least for me, it hasn’t.

But how long can a man wait when there’s no indication that what he’s waiting for will be there in the end? When there’s no proof it existed in the first place, and a promise made years ago lies like a weight between us, embittered and withering like an untended garden?

Maybe it’s time to let it go; to admit that I never should have made such a vow when it’s so clearly unwanted.

Because Kathryn has never said the words.

For that matter, neither have I. But I think the evidence speaks for itself.

© 2021 by Mia Cooper