In Momento Temporis

Summary: All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

 

Characters: Chakotay, Janeway, Kes

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay

 

Disclaimer: The characters, the background and the reset button belong to Paramount. The rest is mine.

 

Notes: This story is set a couple of weeks after Unity, because my romantic little heart just had to try to make some sense of that episode.

 

Warning: Major character deaths. Truckloads of angst. Sex. Also, the occasional profanity.

Rated E

VIII. Unravelled

 

There’s a dull ache behind my eyes and a harsh pain in my chest, and I can’t seem to move my limbs. I can hear soft voices and the quiet, familiar hum of warp travel. I open my eyes.

 

I’m in Sickbay.

 

But I’m supposed to be dead. How did I get here?

 

“Chakotay?”

 

I’d know that voice anywhere. My heart, my aching heart, stutters. I did it – I saved her. She’s alive.

 

And so, in spite of everything, am I.

 

A gentle hand touches my chest and I open my eyes, and I’m looking into hers. “Welcome back,” she whispers.

 

It takes a couple of tries to find my voice. “Kathryn, what’s the stardate?”

 

“It’s 50656.1. For a dead man, you didn’t miss much,” she says, but the shadow in her eyes belies her attempt at levity. I can see it in the tension around her mouth and in the way she holds her shoulders: she’s been through hell, and so have I, but we made it through.

 

“It’s tomorrow,” I breathe.

 

I start to smile, and her lips soften in response. “I take it that’s a good thing, Commander?”

 

“It’s perfect,” I answer, and she smiles back at me, that brilliant, beautiful smile that stops my heart.

 

It’s a brand new day.

 

I move to sit up and Kathryn presses gently on my chest. “Take it easy, Chakotay. You’re going to need some time to recover.”

 

The Doctor appears on my other side, tricorder in hand. “How are you feeling, Commander?”

 

“Like a shuttle landed on me.”

 

“That’s hardly surprising. You were hit at almost point-blank range with a disruptor blast. Fortunately, you had access to the best medical care in the Delta quadrant. You’ll make a full recovery.” He presses a hypospray to my neck and instantly my head clears and my limbs come back to life.

 

“Thanks, Doc.” I grin up at him. Sometimes I think he talks himself up because we’ve all come to expect it. But he’s right; a lot of us wouldn’t be here without him.

 

Kathryn gives my shoulder a squeeze; she seems in no hurry to stop touching me, and I’m tempted to stay right where I am just so I can enjoy it, but the Doc flips his tricorder closed. “You can go, Commander, but I must insist that you rest in your quarters for the next forty-eight hours.”

 

“I’ll make sure he does, Doctor.” Kathryn helps me off the biobed and winds her arm around my waist. We walk slowly out of Sickbay and through the corridor. I feel weak and drained of energy, but I can’t keep the grin off my face.

 

Kathryn guides me into the turbolift and calls for my deck. I could lean against the wall in here, but she keeps her arm around my waist and I have no intention of pulling away. I glance down at her, tucked against my side, and realise she’s looking up at me and her eyes are soft. She looks as though she’s about to say something, but the turbolift stops and instead she smiles and helps me out.

 

In my quarters, she guides me over to the couch and calls up a cup of herbal tea from the replicator, then adds her own coffee order and brings both cups over, sitting beside me. She curls her feet under her and takes a sip. It seems like she’s stalling, searching for the words to say something, so I decide to take the pressure off.

 

“How did you reset the time loop?”

 

Kathryn relaxes a little, and explains that Harry figured out how to neutralise the subspace temporal distortions with a chroniton-infused deflector pulse. She says the Doctor discovered that the disruptor blast that almost killed me was based on the same principles as the Draelath shielding, something to do with a tachyon field and a harmonic resonance out of temporal sync. The Doc hypothesised that the disruptor blast counteracted the excess chronitons in my neurotransmitters and returned me to normal space-time. I have to admit, I’m not really paying attention to the science of it. I’m too busy watching Kathryn’s face light up and her hands wave around as she explains it to me.

 

Eventually she stops talking and leans over to put her cup down on the table. When she straightens up again she seems to be having trouble meeting my eyes. She plays with her fingers, gazes out the window, fidgets with the fabric of her uniform pants. I reach over and pick up her hand.

 

“Kathryn.”

 

“I thought I’d lost you,” she says, looking down at our joined hands. “All I could think of was what you said to me before the mission. You asked me if I knew what it was like to watch someone I love die, and not be able to show them how thankful I was when they made it through.” She turns to stare out the viewport. There’s a knotted muscle at the edge of her jaw and tension in the line of her shoulders. “You gave your life for me, Chakotay. You were dying in my arms and all I could think about was how unfair I’ve been to you. And how I have to keep being unfair to you.”

 

It feels like there’s not enough air in my lungs, but I keep still and silent.

 

Finally she turns to look at me. “I’ve always known how you feel, Chakotay. You only ever tried to hide that from me because it’s what I’ve asked you to do. And I’m sorry, so sorry for that. I’ve been very selfish. I lean on you because you’ve always been there to support me, and I’ve repaid you for that by treating you badly over Riley Frazier.” She closes her eyes for a moment, and when she opens them they’re shining with tears. “I wish it could be different. I wish I could tell you …” She stops, shaking her head.

 

“You don’t have to tell me.” I wait until she looks at me again. “Kathryn, I already know. I’ve known for a long time.”

 

I want to tell her I’ll wait. I want to tell her I’ll never love anyone else, but I know it would only hurt her more. Instead I reach over and carefully wipe the tears from under her eyes. She turns her face into the palm of my hand and briefly presses her lips to my wrist, then draws back.

 

“I have to get to the bridge,” she says.

 

I stand, taking her hand to help her to her feet. She takes two steps toward the door, then turns back suddenly and wraps her arms tightly around me. I hold her close for a long, long moment, and then I gently pull away.

 

“Thank you,” she whispers, laying a hand against my face, and then she leaves without looking back.

 

It’s not perfect. There are words unsaid, things unknown. But in this moment, everything is as it’s supposed to be. Everything is all right.

 

I settle back onto the couch with my tea and stare out at the stars, smiling.