The party was held on the holodeck; everyone’s last chance to enjoy Voyager before she was opened to the public. It was the official welcome home party for the crew or as Chakotay had heard several people remark tonight, “Voyager’s Good Bye Bash’. Chakotay hadn’t really wanted to come but he couldn’t bring himself to stay away. He hadn’t seen any of the crew in the last three months; he needed to see them now if only for some sort of closure. He needed to see Kathryn.
He watched her glide across the dance floor in the arms of yet another eager officer. Everyone wanted a chance with the Federation’s most famous captain; Chakotay was no exception. Unlike these men tonight, he had had his chance—not really a chance but more like sure a thing – and he had blown it. His stupid, meaningless dalliance with Seven, at what turned out to be the end of their journey, had cost him Kathryn and he had regretted it every day of the six months they had been home.
There had been other women during their seven-year mission. Stray aliens, lost humans and even an occasional crewmember, but Kathryn had understood those and looked the other way. With Seven it was different. Seven had been her student, her protégé, more like the daughter she never had. The pain of his affair with Seven ran deep. The whole thing hadn’t lasted more than a week once they were home. He had no real feelings for Seven and she had much greener pastures to graze now. They had parted amicably. Seven was happily enjoying her new celebrity status and learning new social lessons with a host of highly eligible suitors. Chakotay was left to regret his mistakes.
Ever the loyal captain, Kathryn had stood by his side fighting every day of the three months it had taken to clear the Maquis. She had been his Captain and something close to his friend, but the Kathryn who loved him never surfaced in all that time. Although they had parted on friendly terms the day after the final hearing, he hadn’t seen her again until tonight.
Chakotay sipped his drink watching her over the rim. She wore the simple midnight blue floor length dress with such grace and elegance he had to remind himself to breathe. Her hair was pinned up in a very loose fashion, small curls escaping in wisps around her face. Her laughter drifted across the room and he wondered how he would ever live without her.
“Enjoying the party or just the view?” B’Elanna came to stand by him, interrupting his thoughts.
“Huh?” He chuckled, no sense in even trying to fool her. “The party is fine; the view is magnificent.”
“Have you danced with her yet?”
“No.” He sighed. “And I don’t think I will. It’s her night; I don’t want to intrude.”
“Bull!” She stepped closer. “It’s our official welcome home party and you deserve as much of the credit as she does.”
“Let it be.” He never took his eyes off the woman across the room. “Why remind her of the pain? It’s time to move on.”
“Whatever.” B’Elanna rolled her eyes and nodded to Tom as he caught her eye. “OK, so how about a dance with me?”
“I would be honored.” He made a mock bow and led B’Elanna to the dance floor.
The dance had barely begun when he felt the tap on his shoulder. The smile on B’Elanna’s face told him immediately he had been set up.
“Mind if I dance with my wife?” Tom stood with Kathryn in his arms waiting for an answer.
Chakotay hesitated but Tom and B’Elanna moved together leaving him standing next to Kathryn. She moved closer and raised her arms toward him.
“I think we have been set up, old friend.” It was a nervous smile she gave him as he tentatively took her in his arms. “Shall we? Just one more dance- for the crew?”
“Yes, I’m sorry…”
His voice fell off as the crowd on the dance floor backed away and the entire Voyager crew circled them filling the room with applause. Kathryn’s cheeks turned bright crimson, but she managed to continue the dance with the same grace she had exhibited earlier. Slowly, the other couples returned to join them on the dance floor.
“How have you been, Chakotay?” She made an effort to relax. “I hear you have been offered a teaching position at the academy.”
“I haven’t made a decision on that yet. How about you? I hear ‘Admiral’ is in the offering.”
“I haven’t decided on that either.” She stiffened a little, but gave a light laugh. “I don’t know that I am stuffy enough yet for that.”
“Would you take another ship?”
“NO!” She laughed full out when the shock on his face registered the sharpness of her response. “No, Chakotay, Voyager was my last deep space mission. My heart isn’t out there anymore.” The color returned to her cheeks, but her eyes held his.
The music stopped but no one disturbed them, so they continued dancing with the next song that played.
“What will you do?” He finally found his voice.
“I’m not sure.” Her eyes wandered off, her mind was somewhere in the distance for just a moment then they returned to his. “For the first time in my life, I have nothing to aim for, no goal to accomplish, nothing to look forward to.”
“Certainly, there is plenty of opportunity out there for the great Captain Janeway.” He was teasing but he saw the hurt flicker in her eyes. “I’m sorry, I was only teasing.”
“I know.” She tilted her head and
rewarded him with that crooked little smile he had missed so much.
“And you’re right, there seems to be no end to the offers. It’s just
that I’m not sure I can be her anymore. I’m not sure I want to, the
price is just too high.”
“Captain.” Admiral Nechayev stood to Kathryn’s right. “You had this man all to yourself for seven years, surely you can spare an old admiral one dance.”
“Admiral.” Kathryn looked for a moment like the admiral had actually slapped her, “Of course and a wonderful dancer he is.” She recovered quickly, her smile in place as she surrendered her partner to the Admiral.
The Admiral chattered on and Chakotay hoped he had given appropriate responses as his eyes followed Kathryn across the room. She was stopped by several people and made polite conversation with each of them. Nechayev said something that required his attention and when he looked up again, Kathryn was gone.
“Commander Chakotay.” Nechayev stood staring up at him in the middle of the crowded dance floor.
“I’m sorry, Admiral.. I was…”
“Distracted?” The admiral laughed.
“I guess so.” He tried to force his attention on his dance partner but his eyes wandered the room looking for Kathryn.
“I don’t know why you two still insist on playing this silly game.”
“Chakotay, she left the holodeck. You know her better than I do and this is your ship, you figure out where she went.”
“It won’t matter, Admiral, she doesn’t want to see me.”
“Men!” Alynna shook her head. “You know, I’m familiar with your record. You entered the academy early, advance fast – you are purported to be an intelligent man.”
“Er, thank you…” She was truly confusing him.
“Don’t thank me, just stop being so damned stupid.”
“Chakotay, before I so rudely interrupted you, the woman was all but begging you to take her right here on the dance floor!” She laughed as she gave him a gentle push toward the door. “Go find her.”
“Well?” B’Elanna stood next to the admiral watching Chakotay snake his way through the crowd.
“Just as you thought. The man was too blind to see what was right before his eyes.”
“Did you set him straight?”
“I certainly hope so, Lieutenant.”
Chakotay reached the lift but suddenly had no idea where he was going. Most of the ship was off limits until the opening of the museum. He thought about where Kathryn would go. Her heart wasn’t in deep space anymore but it certainly was here on Voyager. He stepped into the lift.
The lift opened and he saw the stars on the view screen, giving the room it’s only light. Searching the darkness he found Kathryn sitting on the command level just watching them.
“You going to join me or just stand in the lift and watch?”
“Join you, if I wouldn’t be intruding.”
“You could never be an intrusion, Chakotay.” He walked over and she offered him the chair to her right. “Have a seat.”
“Soon no one will see the stars from this view port anymore.”
“No, and I’ll miss her.” She reached across the console and took his hand. “So, we could make small talk all night or you could tell me; why did you came up here? What’s on your mind?”
“I thought that since you have no definite plans for the next fifty or sixty years – there is a small place on the edge of the desert in Arizona that I would be happy to share with you.”
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