Paths by Kate Summary: A quite intimate goodbye and a reunion after several years that holds some surprises. NC-17. Disclaimer: Voyager and its characters are owned by CBS Studios Inc. Just having fun with them. Author's Note: Set directly after Endgame. C/7 happened in this timeline, but do not worry. I will get that right ;) Many thanks to my beta SevenJetC. Don't know what I'd do without you! To make said beta happy there is a short sequel to this story. Somehow it insisted on being written from Kathryn's point of view. 08/17/2005 12:52 AM "Tom, it's been a great party, but I should go get some sleep before facing your father and Admiral Hunter tomorrow." Captain Janeway patted her pilot on the shoulder and started for the door of Holodeck Two. Chakotay was waiting for her by the door and took her arm to steady her when she swayed slightly. Kathryn looked at him greatfully. "Gods, I'm sure I've never been that drunk. Can't even think straight." "What did you expect after sharing three bottles of wine with me, huh? I'm glad we left quite early so we won't run into anyone." Between giggles they talked about the party Tom Paris had organized after they had made their way back into the Alpha Quadrant, reeling along the corridor. They stopped in front of the Captain's quarters trying to say goodnight, still laughing. When their eyes met they suddenly stopped laughing, gazing at each other. Chakotay closed the gap between their faces to brush a soft kiss on her lips. He had meant it to stop right there, but could not draw back. Instead he cupped her cheek with his right hand and brought his lips to hers again. When she opened her mouth he could not resist exploring it with his tongue. The soft moan that escaped her throat was enough to make him lose control of his actions. He put his hand in the small of her back and pulled her against his body, deepening the kiss. The thought of stopping him crossed her mind but was gone as soon as it had appeared. Though she would not have been able to stop him even if she had wanted to. Her body had been responding to him from the first touch and it stubbornly refused to obey her orders. She enjoyed the softness of his lips as they touched hers, kissing their way along her jaw bone, nibbling at her ear and then moving down to her neck. Sometime during his ministrations she had managed to open the door to her quarters and they had moved in and went into her bedroom, discarding their clothes on the way. Chakotay pushed her down on the bed, kneeling in front of her, kissing her inner tights, slowly moving further upwards. Kathryn thought it must have been hours before he finally nuzzled her auburn curls, pushed his tongue into her wet folds, flicking it over her sensitive bundle of nerves. The desire she had concealed so carefully all those years seemed to concentrate itself in one spot only to break free minutes after he had first touched her with his tongue in a firework of pleasure. ******** Later they lay contentedly side by side dwelling on their thoughts. After a while Chakotay took a deep breath. He had thought about how exactly he was to tell her what he had to. What just had happened between them did not make it easier. Best just say it. She probably already knows. "Seven is pregnant." he stated almost whispering and with these three words shattering all her hopes for a future with Chakotay. She had heard that of course, but had not expected the effect these words had on her coming from him. "I know." was all her desperate search for the right words presented, words that would not show how bad she really felt about it. Chakotay made her look him in the eyes, wanting to know what she really thought. He coud see her fight, desperately trying to hide her emotions, but working side by side for seven years allowed him to see through her captain's mask. He saw how much he had hurt her, saw all her shattered hopes. What had he done to her, to them? If only he had waited another two month, but there was no way of turning back now. He had destroyed everything. He had lost his life with Kathryn for one with a woman he did not even love. This realization made his eyes fill with tears. He pulled Kathryn into an embrace and they held onto each other as if their lives depended on it. "You should go." Her voice was weak and shaky even to her own ears. "I know." Chakotay had not missed her tone. Pushing her away just far enough to look at her, he saw the silent plea in her eyes. Please do not go. He hugged her again. No, he would not go. Not tonight. Seven was regenerating, she would not know. Kathryn did not try to stop her tears anymore, letting them flow freely. He would not leave her tonight. She committed everything about him to her memory. His scent, his warmth, the feel of his muscles. This night would be everything she would ever have of him. She would not forget anything. These memories would warm her for a long time. They might be the only thing to melt her frozen heart, at least for a moment. His strong arm around her, her head on his chest Kathryn slowly drifted off to sleep, dreaming of a future that would never be. Chakotay looked at her for a long time until he too fell asleep. ***** It was only two hours later when Kathryn woke with the unsettling feeling that something had gone very wrong. Feeling the warm body of her first officer behind her, she suddenly remembered what it was that was wrong about something that had felt so right. The child Seven expected. Chakotay's child. Kathryn knew Chakotay good enough to know that he would never leave Seven under these circumstances. On the other hand he would be devastated to lose their love. She had to do something, had to lighten his burden as he had done for her all those years. Her decision made, Kathryn carefully got out of bed and began to dress. Before she left her quarters, she went over to her bed, looking down on the sleeping form of her first officer. Tears came to her eyes when she realized that this wonderful night had destroyed everything between them. She had to go before she would lose control, begging for him to stay with her. Planting one last kiss on his lips, Kathryn left the room and the man she loved, not looking back. ****** Sitting in a dark corner of the mess hall, Janeway cried silently, watching the stars pass by. She had ruined their future together by clinging to a protocol that appeard to be sensless in retrospect. And there had been no reason for them not to have a relationship. The Maquis had been pardoned without a fight and the crew had made it quite clear that they wanted their commanding officers to be happy. It had only been her being afraid of losing yet another man she loved. Thinking of that made her laugh hollowly. She would have lost the man she loved nonetheless. "Well Kathryn, it took you a bit too long to realize that." she muttered. Sitting in the mess hall alone with her thoughts was driving her crazy. Her quarters were off limits right now with Chakotay sleeping in her bed. She could go to the bridge, scaring the gamma shift or reading some reports in her ready room, but she was quite sure that she could not concentrate on anything. "Computer, is anyone on the holodeck?" "Negative." came the answer. Good, maybe a long walk would help her. When Kathryn entered the holodeck, the first thing she saw was the small gray box she had once called home. The place where she had spent some of the happiest months of her life. She breathed the fresh air of this beautiful uninhabited planet and made her way towards the river. Sitting on a small rock, Kathryn watched the water flow down the river while she rememberd their time on this planet, on New Earth. All those long walks through the woods or along the river, the evenings they had spent talking about everything and nothing, all the small things Chakotay had built for them, her bathtub, his ancient legend. If Tuvok had taken another week or so to rescue them, she would have fallen for Chakotay. Tuvok. There had been some times over the years he had prevented her from acting on her feelings. He had never done it on purpose, at least she thought he had not, but by disturbing them in the right moment he had always destroyed the emotional atmosphere between them. Damn this Vulcan! As ordered, the computer notified her when Chakotay awoke. For she did not want him to find her here with this program running, Kathryn shut it down and headed for her readyroom. That was where she wanted to have the discussion that definately would come after last night.There she was the captain and there it would be easier to hold the mask in place, to not let Kathryn surface, because Kathryn wanted nothing more than to fall down on her knees in front of him and beg him to stay with her. To hell with Seven and her child. The captain was not so selfish. She had chosen to make it easy for Chakotay. After all she knew how to deal with losses and the resulting loneliness. She would make it. Sitting behind her desk, Kathryn tried some of the techniques Tuvok had shown her and successfully shoved "Kathryn" in a dark mental corner. When the door chimed, the captain was firmly in place. She took one of the padds from the huge stack and pretending to read called for the person to enter. *********** The first thing Chakotay noticed when he awoke was the smell surrounding him. It was Kathryn's and yet not her's alone. It was the smell of a long, passionate night. And then he remembered. The party, their first rushed coupling, the second slow one, gently exploring each other, the overwhelming joy and then the sadness when they both knew that it would never be more than this one night. He lay still for a moment, listening to the silence of the room, trying to find out if Kathryn was still in her quarters. But somehow he knew that she would have left as soon as she awoke. He would find her and talk to her as soon as he had taken a shower. ************ Entering her ready room, Chakotay knew that Kathryn had once more lost the fight against the captain. She did not even look up from her padd. "What is it Commander?" she snapped, still staring at the padd. Even though he had expected something like that, her tone hurt him. "So it is Commander today?" he asked, not trying to hide his pain and anger. Kathryn glared at him. "It is. And it always will be." The only emotion he could hear in her voice was bitterness and it made him even more angry. "And what about last night? What about us?" Chakotay's words were harsher than he had meant them to be, but the apology got stuck in his throat at her answer. "There is no 'us'! The time for 'us' has passed long ago. Last night has been a mistake. It should never have happened. There is nothing else to discuss!" Chakotay did not want to give up their friendship like that. "Kathryn, I don't want to lose my best friend." "That friend is already lost. Dismissed, Commander." He glared at her and turned to go. Reaching the door, he faced her again. "Then I guess you are alone after all!" This time he had meant his words to hurt. Before he turned again, Chakotay could see the effect his words had on her face, but this time he did not care. When the doors closed behind Chakotay, Kathryn let herself fall down on her chair and let the tears she had held back stream down her face. He was right, she was alone now and would be for the rest of her life. Chakotay had left a hole in her heart that no one else would be able to fill. Once again Kathryn wanted nothing more than to crawl into her bed and never get up again. ************ During the next days they did not see each other very often and when they did, they were all business, only speaking when necessary. When the debriefings were over two weeks later, Chakotay and Seven vanished and no one knew where they went. He had not even told B'Elanna about his plans. ****** Chakotay stood infront of the old farm house, taking in the beautiful scenery. Everything was as she had once described it a long time ago. The huge wooden house with a porch all around it, her mother's roses along the path that led to the door, shining in different shades of red, yellow and white, two very old trees near the white fence telling of times long passed. The window on the right side of the door would be the kitchen window. From there one could see the vastness of corn fields beginning right behind the small street. It was a wonderful, warm summer day and while trying to find the courage to ring the old fashioned bell, Chakotay observed some kids playing in the fields. What would Kathryn say? How would she react when he told his story? Would she forgive him? Could she ever forgive him for what he had done to them? Once he had been hurt by what she had said to him that day in her ready room. Now he knew that she had only been so harsh to make it easier for him to go and to save her own feelings. He understood her now, but would she understand him? There was only one way to find out and it certainly would not change her reaction if he stood here another two hours. He rang the bell and impatiently waited for the door to be opened. When it finally did, it was not Kathryn who looked at him with wide eyes and open mouth. Facing him was a little girl of about four or five years with dark hair and brown eyes. That would be Kathryn's litte girl. The one Meyers had seen her with. He pushed away the hurt seeing Kathryn's daughter caused him and smiled at her. "Hey there. Is your Mommy at home?" The child's eyes grew even wider before she spun around and shouted for her mom to come to the door fast. When Kathryn appeared in the hall, his breath caught in his throat. She wore the blue dess he had loved so much on New Earth. Her hair was not pulled back and it had grown quite long in the last years. She looked at the towel she was using to clean her handsl and did not see him. Finally looking up, Kathryn stopped in her tracks and just stared at him. After a long moment, when the first shock of recognition had worn off, she called without losing eye contact with him, "Mom, would you please take your grand-daughter for a walk." She hoped her voice only sounded so damn shaky to her own ears. "But Kathryn, we just came back... Oh, I see. Hello Mr. Chakotay." Upon laying eyes on their new guest, Gretchen Janeway knew that her daughter wanted Sekkaya out of ear's shot for the conversation that was to come. "Honey, grab your jacket. We're visiting Mr. Tracy's horses." The word horses was enough to get the girl's thoughts away from the man on the porch. The man she had heard so much of, but never actually met. Jacket in hand, she raced past her mother and Chakotay down the steps without waiting for her grand-mother. Squeezing herself past her still paralyzed offspring, Gretchen said, "Don't you want to let your guest come in, Kathryn?", before she left to catch Sekkaya. Kathryn blinked twice and shook her head to clear it. "I'm sorry, come in, Chakotay. Make yourself at home. Can I get you something? Tea? Coffee?" "Coffee please." was his croaked response. While Kathryn rushed off to get them some coffee, Chakotay sat down and examined the room with family pictures over the big fireplace and cozy old furniture all over the room. He liked the warmth it radiated. When Kathryn returned and she sat down next to him, Chakotay took his coffee from her, the light touch of their hands making them both shiver slightly. "So what brings you here after all these years?" Kathryn finally broke the silence, her words harsher than intended. "I missed you." "You missed me? It took you almost seven years to realize that you miss me? Why the hell didn't you come earlier?" She was getting angrier by the minute and did not bother to hide it. "Kathryn, I know Seven has been a mistake. I realized that three month after we came home. She has never been pregnant, you know. She was afraid that I'd leave her once we were home so she told me I'd be a father, because she thought I would stay with her long enough to learn to love her. I stayed but I never learned to love her and when the truth came out, I packed my things and left. I wanted to come to you right away, but I had to sort things out first. I spent eight rough month on Dorvan V helping with the reconstruction, before I was calm enough to face a new life. When I waited for my transport to Earth on DS 9, I met Meyers. He brought me up to date on what had happened while I had been away. It was him who told me about your little girl. Said he has seen you with a new born child a few days ago. Needless to say that I didn't take the shuttel to Earth. It hurt to know that you had been going on with your life while I tried to get mine back. Somehow I was glad to know that you've found happiness, but it hurt nontheless. "I went back to Dorvan V to continue my work, trying to forget you and the life I'd thrown away for a warm and willing body. I couldn't forget you. I never will." Kathryn had been staring at her cup, mesmerized by the dark liquid, the ripples her trembling hands caused and the steam that slowly, silently rose and vanished like her anger, leaving no prove of it ever having been there. She slowly raised her head and eyes glistering with unshed tears searched his face for a sign, any indication of how she should procede. Again she tried to hide her insecurity behind anger. "My little girl as you call her has her sixth birthday in three month. Now you do the maths." Seeing his shocked expression Kathryn continued somewhat softer, "She's named after her aunt, Sekkaya." At that Chakotay tore his eyes away from the fireplace and met Kathryn's gaze for the first time this day. You mean... Do you want to tell me that she is.." Failing to find the words he so desperately searched for, he helplessly looked at her. "She is your daughter, Chakotay. And before you again talk about how much you hurt these past years, think about what I went though having to raise the child I always dreamed of having without the man I always dreamed of being here to raise her with me. Think about how it hurt to look in those eyes that are so much like yours. You think I've had a good time? You're wrong. I've tried to teach her about your culture and your believes because she has a right to know who she is. It has been hard to explain to her that while she has a father like everyone else, her father is not there for her and might never be. I couldn't possibly tell her that he left her for another child, could I? And I couldn't make you leave this other child. So don't tell me about hurt again, Chakotay." Kathryn was now crying openly. Chakotay brushed away the tears with his thumb and made her look at him. "I'm sorry, Kathryn. So very sorry. I hate myself for what I have done to you, to us. Do you think it is too late for us? Do you think you'll ever be able to forgive me?" "I don't know Chakotay. I honestly don't know. But we have to try. For the sake of our daughter and our own we have to try." A few weeks later after having spent most of the time arguing and accusing each other, Chakotay, Sekkaya and I were having lunch together. The silence was almost unbearable and the tears that were always close to the surface these days again threatened to overflow. No one really ate and potatoes, meat and carrots were moved around the plates until being cold. For once it had nothing to do with my cooking. Sekkaya looked at us with those sad eyes. Her smiles had become less and less since her father had returned. It had nothing to do with Chakotay, but with our inability to overcome our hurt. I desperately wanted to make it work, wanted us to be a real family, but I would ask Chakotay to go if it did not work out soon. Our daughter still studied us intently. 'What is it, sweety?' I asked, finally giving in to curiosity. 'Mommy, do you love Daddy?' Her question shocked me and I took a moment to search my heart for the right answer. The truth I found shocked me even more. With all the hurt and anger we were struggling with I had almost forgotten the most important thing. 'Yes, I do.' I turned my head slightly and my eyes were captured by his. In them I could see surprise and something else. Sekkaya's attention shifted to her father. 'And do you love Mommy?' He reached across the table and took my hand in his. 'Yes, sweetheart.' A satisfied grin appeared on her face. 'Then why don't you just make the hurt go away with a kiss?' I wanted to tell her that it was not that easy, that some things could not be kissed away, but for the first time in weeks she seemed truely happy and we did not want to destroy that. The kiss was tentative at first, our lips barely touching. After a short moment, Chakotay pulled me closer, deepening the kiss. His tongue slid along my lips, parting them gently. Our tongues met, duelling passionately and the vaguely familiar feeling of desire was building inside me. That was when our often painful and lonely seperate paths finally joined, creating a new, stronger path full of hope, laughter, life and love.
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