mending broken pieces of the life I had before
Summary: Tumblr prompt: “I’ve been undercover for months/years and I know I told you not to wait for me but I’m still in love with you and it’s killing me.”
Characters: Chakotay, Janeway
Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Janeway/Jaffen
Disclaimer: Characters are Paramount’s. No infringement intended.
Notes: A sequel to my first AU prompt fic, you could be my unintended, was requested by a few readers, so here it is. I'm not sure this is exactly what people had in mind, but this is what came out of my brain. Sorry.
I am somewhat tech-savvy, but I really know nothing about the dark web or how IP tracking works except for what Dr Google tells me, so forgive me for anything I got ridiculously wrong. Incidentally, the research I did for this story taught me things I wish I could un-know.
Warning: There are references in this story to disturbing topics, but I’ve kept it as non-descriptive as possible.
“Kathryn, wake up.”
A muffled groan was the predictable response. Chakotay placed the steaming cup of coffee on her nightstand and leaned over the bed, brushing the backs of his fingers over his wife’s cheek.
My wife, he thought. It had been a year since the day he’d arrested her and a month since their wedding, barefoot and laughing on a Bahamian beach. He wondered if he would ever think about her without that swell of joy expanding inside him, like an inflating balloon.
He doubted it.
Kathryn opened one eye a crack and regarded him balefully.
“You’re really not a morning person, are you?” he smirked.
She groaned again, burying her face in the pillow.
“Come on, sweetheart.” Chakotay placed his lips close to her ear and whispered, “I made coffee.”
Kathryn rolled onto her side, propping herself on one elbow. “All right. I guess I’ll let you live another day.”
Chakotay sat on the edge of the bed and handed her the mug, watching as she inhaled the steam, her eyes closing and an expression of bliss crossing her face. “I never get tired of watching you do that.”
She took a deep sip, sighed in pleasure, then opened her eyes. A smile quirked one corner of her mouth as she looked him up and down, taking in the plain T-shirt and fatigues that had replaced his sheriff’s uniform. “I like the new look, Special Agent Chakotay,” she approved, putting down the mug and straightening up. “Are you excited to be going back?”
“Very.” He grinned. “Although I’m a little worried all those fresh recruits are going to show me up on the running track. I’m not as young as when I did my first stint at the Academy.”
“Pfft.” Kathryn raised herself on her knees and put her arms around his shoulders, settling her body against his. “You’ll run rings around them.”
“I wish I didn’t have to leave you,” Chakotay murmured, pressing his face into her hair.
“I know.” She kissed him, slowly and sweetly. “I’ll miss you. But it’s only three months, and I’ll visit as often as I can. And this is what you want to do.”
“Remind me again why I want this?” Chakotay’s hands had started wandering.
Kathryn laughed, capturing his hands in her own. “Because you regret ever leaving the FBI. Because they asked you to come back, and this is a great opportunity. Because after you’ve finished your refresher training, we’ll be moving into our dream house in San Francisco and living happily ever after.”
“I like the sound of that.” Chakotay pulled her close again, kissing her.
The kiss grew heated, and eventually she pulled back, breathless. “You’ll miss your plane,” she whispered.
“So I’ll catch the next one.” He was nuzzling her neck and pulling the strap of her tank top off her shoulder.
“Oh…” Her head lolled back as his mouth travelled further down.
An alarm shrilled. Kathryn moaned in frustration, gathering her willpower to gently push Chakotay away. “You have to go. The cab will be here any minute. And I need to take a shower and drive to San Fran to meet the lawyers by ten.” With great reluctance, she untangled herself from his arms and slipped off the bed.
Chakotay leaned against the wall and watched her as she selected tailored pants and a blouse from her closet and tossed them on the bed. He never tired of watching her, this woman who’d marched into his life only a year ago and turned it, and him, completely upside down. From the moment she’d stepped up to him during a women’s rights protest, accused him of all manner of offences and kicked a safety barricade into his knees, he’d been enchanted. Chakotay grinned at the memory.
He still couldn’t believe he’d got so lucky: that this smart, funny, beautiful livewire of a woman had actually wanted him, the doofus in the sheriff’s uniform. But wanted him she had, and not only that. She loved him.
What the hell was he thinking, leaving her for three long months?
“I can hear you brooding from here,” Kathryn chided him as she turned from the bureau, her hands full of something pink and lacy. “Stop it. I’ll see you next weekend, and we’ll Skype whenever you can book it in, and I’ll write you. And I’ll be thinking of you all the time.”
She tossed the lingerie on the bed and came up to him, resting her hand on his chest. “We can do this, Chakotay,” she told him softly.
He looked down into her beautiful eyes, memorising their colour and sheen, the depths of emotion he saw in them. “I love you, Kathryn,” he murmured, his hands coming up to cup her face.
“And I love you,” she breathed, raising herself on tiptoe to kiss him.
Outside, a cab honked.
Kathryn sighed and stepped back from him.
“See you on Saturday,” he said. “I’ll be counting the minutes.”
“Fly safely.” She smiled. “And good luck.”
Chakotay bent to kiss her one last time, then shouldered his bag and left, trying not to look back.
“I think I’ve found a job,” Kathryn told him excitedly over Skype the following week, when Chakotay finally managed to book an hour on the library wifi.
They’d spent a delirious weekend together in a tiny bed-and-breakfast in Arlington, Virginia – Kathryn had taken the red-eye from San Francisco and arrived jittery from too much coffee and not enough sleep – barely leaving their bed, in spite of her professed plans to visit the memorials and walk along the Potomac. They’d both been exhausted, Chakotay from punishing hours of exercise and study, Kathryn from packing up their house in Half Moon Bay and the frequent driving between there and their new place in Bernal Heights, a split-level, three-bedroom weatherboard that she’d used her inheritance to buy. She’d shown him photos of the living room she’d painted sea-blue and the plans she had for the deck out the back, and they’d ordered room service and talked about the future and made love whenever the need took them.
“Tell me,” Chakotay encouraged, and she told him about her chance meeting with Professor Tuvok, her old college mentor, and his offer of a position managing the genetics lab at the state university. There would be some teaching involved as well as administration, and she’d get to conduct her own research.
“I’ll be getting back to pure science,” she told him enthusiastically. “I’ll miss teaching high-school kids, and I’ll be expected to put in long hours. But this is what I’ve always wanted to do.”
“I’m so happy for you.” He reached out to touch the screen where her image appeared, smiling as she responded by raising her own hand to his. “When do you start?”
Her smile dimmed a little. “Well, there’s the rub. I’ll start next Monday, and for the first couple of months I’ll be expected to work most Saturdays.”
“You won’t be able to come over here.” He couldn’t hide it: the despair at the idea of not being with her, holding her, until his training had finished and he started his posting at the Golden Gate office.
She bit her lip. “I’ll be able to get away at least once. Maybe twice. And it’s only another eleven weeks until we’ll be back together.”
Too long, he thought but didn’t say. Instead he gave her a reassuring smile. “It’ll be here before we know it.”
“It will,” she said softly. “And I’ll try to fly there in about a month.”
She kissed her fingers and pressed them to the screen just as the timer on the library computer signalled that his allotted time was up.
“Sleep well, Kathryn,” he said, returning the kiss, and she signed off.
I met our next-door neighbours yesterday, Chakotay read. They’re a couple around our age – Deanna and Will – and they have a gorgeous one year old son who never stops laughing. We walked down to Mission Street with him in the buggy and had lunch at a little pub. I can’t wait for you to meet them.
Chakotay glanced up, folding Kathryn’s letter carefully. “Hey, Ben. What’s up?”
His roommate leaned in the doorway. “I’m heading over to the gym. Want to tag along? I need to work off some energy and I prefer a moving target.”
“Why not?” Chakotay shrugged, unfolding himself from his position, sprawled on the bunk. “If you think you can take me,” he added, grinning.
“Great. Meet you there in ten.”
Ben disappeared, and Chakotay stowed Kathryn’s letter in the lockable drawer in his bureau. Not for the first time, he wished the Academy let trainees bring in personal computers; Skyping Kathryn once a week when he could book time in the library really wasn’t anywhere near enough contact with her. He re-read her letters several times a day. She’d bought a Polaroid camera and she always tucked a couple of photos inside the envelopes; this one contained a picture of the view from the balcony of their new house, and a selfie of Kathryn sitting at the breakfast table sporting bedhead and an old sweatshirt of Chakotay’s, a mug of coffee beside her.
He brushed his thumb over the picture and tucked it away on top of her letter, then threw on gym shorts and headed over to join Ben in the boxing ring.
“Your mind is not on the job, Chief,” Ben informed him after his third successful knock-down in fifteen minutes; usually, he and Chakotay were pretty evenly matched in size, speed and skill. “Want to tell me about it?”
Chakotay pulled off his gloves and dropped onto the bench. “You’re married, right?”
“I was.” Ben’s expression stayed even. “Jennifer was killed in the Stockholm terrorist attack a few years back.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t believe I didn’t know that.”
Ben shrugged, sitting next to him. “It’s part of the reason I signed up for the FBI. My son Jake was injured in the same attack. I wanted to be part of preventing that kind of thing.”
“How old is Jake?”
“Fifteen,” Ben answered. “He’s living with my father in New Orleans while I’m here. I’ve requested a posting in Louisiana when we graduate.” He turned to Chakotay. “What’s on your mind?”
“I’ve been having doubts about whether I’m doing the right thing, being here,” Chakotay admitted.
“Let me guess: you miss that pretty little wife of yours.”
“Is it that obvious?” He couldn’t help smiling.
“Pretty much,” Ben grinned.
“We’d planned for her to fly here every couple of weeks,” Chakotay went on. “But now she has this new job and it’s looking like next weekend is the only time she’ll be able to get away. I won’t see her for another six weeks after that.”
“But then you’ll graduate,” Ben reminded him, “and you’ll be together all the time.”
“It’s not only that,” Chakotay admitted grudgingly. “We Skyped last night and the subject of kids came up.”
“And she wants to concentrate on her career for the foreseeable future.”
“But you want to get on with being a dad,” Ben surmised.
“Very much so.” Chakotay leaned back against the wall. “I told her I’m okay with waiting a few years, but the way she was talking, I’m not sure she wants to have kids at all. It’s the first thing we’ve had a major disagreement about and it’s driving me crazy that we can’t sit down and resolve it face to face.”
He thought about that conversation. They’d talked a little about children before they were married, and he’d come away with the assumption that Kathryn wanted them as much as he did; emboldened by that, and by her affectionate description of the neighbours’ little boy in her latest letter, he’d suggested to her over Skype last night that they start trying for a baby as soon as he returned to San Francisco. Her reaction hadn’t been at all the one he’d expected – her face had fallen, she’d mumbled something about talking it over when they were back together, and when he pressed her, she’d said that she wanted to concentrate on her career.
Chakotay knew he loved her enough to accede to her wishes – whatever they might be. But he also knew that if he never had children, there would always be a part of him that felt empty.
“I just need to be with her,” he said, half to himself.
Ben patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Chief. You’ll work it out.”
“Don’t,” Kathryn had said through tight lips as she slammed the trunk of the rental car, overnight bag in hand. “I don’t want you to see me off. In fact, I think it’s best if you don’t call me for a few days. I need some time.”
Then she’d shouldered the bag and disappeared into the departures lounge without so much as glancing back at him.
The argument had been horrific, no less for its viciousness than for its unexpectedness. Chakotay was still reeling. He couldn’t believe they’d said such venomous things to each other.
She hadn’t wanted to talk about having a family. He should have paid attention to her, he thought now; she’d wanted to concentrate on being with him in the present, but he’d kept pushing her, like picking at a half-healed scab. Eventually her patience with him had given out and she’d accused him of dismissing her career aspirations, of only caring about what he wanted. He’d responded that she hadn’t been honest with him on the subject before they married. Eyes filling with tears she refused to shed, she’d retorted that if he only wanted a breeding machine, he should have followed the lead of her previous fiancé and chosen himself a young blonde bimbo. Then she’d packed her things in silence and gone to wait in the passenger seat until he gave in and drove her back to the airport, a whole day early.
“You’re an idiot,” Ben said frankly when Chakotay explained why he’d returned to Quantico a day ahead of schedule.
He couldn’t disagree.
Ignoring Kathryn’s request, he’d tried to call her every half hour since he calculated her plane had landed in San Francisco, but despite leaving ever more frantic and apologetic voicemails, she hadn’t called him back. When he logged into Skype at his allotted time on Monday night, her status was set to ‘offline’. It was Tuesday evening before she finally replied to one of his many emails.
I’m sorry, she wrote. I overreacted. I love you. Forgive me?
Chakotay cajoled another trainee into giving up his Skype hour and almost cried when Kathryn’s tense, beautiful face appeared on screen.
“You look tired,” he told her, feeling awful, knowing it was his fault.
“I haven’t slept much,” she admitted. “And I’m deep into an experiment at the moment. We’re working very long hours.”
“I haven’t helped,” he sighed. “Kathryn, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed you.”
Her eyes softened immediately. “And I shouldn’t have been such a bitch, storming off like that.”
“I miss you.” He reached out to touch the screen, and she mirrored the gesture, smiling at last.
“We’ll talk about it when you come home,” she said softly. “It’s only six weeks away. We’re halfway there.”
“Are you sure you can’t come here again?”
She bit her lip. “I can’t, Chakotay. There’s so much work still to do on the house, and my job –”
“I understand,” he said quickly. “I just can’t stand knowing I wasted last weekend and now I won’t get to touch you for six weeks.”
“Well…” She blushed. “Are you alone?”
He glanced around; the booth he sat in was in a corner of the library, and the nearest person was another student browsing the stacks. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“In that case…” Kathryn leaned closer to the screen. Her hand moved to the top button on her blouse and flipped it open. “I know it’s not exactly the same,” she murmured, opening another button, “but I want you to touch me.”
She slipped the shirt from her shoulders and let it drop to the floor.
“Kathryn, what are you doing?” he whispered.
In answer, she unclipped her bra and tossed it away.
“Touch me,” she repeated, her smile curling.
Chakotay reached out and traced the lines of her body on the screen. “God, I want you,” he murmured.
The timer beside him beeped and he made a sound of frustration. On screen, Kathryn was pulling her blouse back on, realising the next trainee in line for the computer would be getting an eyeful otherwise.
“Six weeks,” she promised him, kissing her fingers and pressing them to the screen.
Chakotay hoped he could last that long.