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9: Coming Into The Light

Page 5: Heart To Heart

He stared the PADD, but he didn't see the data. His mind and his thoughts were elsewhere. They were also garbled and unfocused. The days had been getting harder and harder. He knew he was on borrowed time with his ability to concentrate on mundane things. He couldn't work. He gave up trying. Sitting at his desk, Chakotay buried his head in hands and to his dismay he began to feel the back of his eyelids burning. He knew that this time he would not be able to stop the tears from forming.

What he was feeling was foreign to him, but he recognized it as the beginning of despair. He needed to talk someone. No he needed to talk to her. The only thing was that he couldn't. Squaring his shoulders he rested his elbows on the desk and formed a plateau with his hands. He rested his chin on them, but he did not try to stop the tears from pouring down his face. And for the first time he realized that he didn't want to. The hurt was coming from deep inside him and he realized that if he didn't give it some outlet, it would become worse than it already was. So he just stared at the door in front of him, the tears quietly falling, and occasionally tasted the salt as they found their way to his lips. He did not sob.

The chime sounded.

Kathryn stood outside of Chakotay's door with a progress report of the Astrometrics Lab Update, and waited for him to let her in. There was no answer.

"Computer identify person at the door"

"Captain Janeway."

'If you are going to send her away, you better do so now or else she's going to come in.' He knew that to be true. She would do so to make sure that he was all right. Still he couldn't bring himself to speak.

Kathryn was puzzled. "Computer confirm that Commander Chakotay is in his office."


"Is anyone else with him?"


"Janeway to Chakotay, please respond?"

Silence greeted her on the other end.

"Chakotay are you there?" The second question was accompanied by a knock on the door.

'It's now or never." Still he remained silent.

"Computer open the door, authorization Janeway Phi one one alpha."

The door slid open and Kathryn stepped inside. The sight that greeted her made her stop in the doorway. Chakotay stood up slowly behind his desk. He had a fleeting thought that he could make up for the fact that he was crying on duty, by standing when the Captain entered.

"Chakotay are you all right?" Janeway's alarm was on her face. She had never seen Chakotay cry in the entire time that she had known him. She had never even heard of him mentioning it, and until today, she thought that nothing could hurt him so much as to cause what she was seeing. She crossed the room until she was standing in front of his desk.

Chakotay saw the alarm on her face and it gave him the courage to begin.

"No, Kathryn, I'm not alright. We're not all right." Chakotay did not look away from her. He did not want to run away from this any longer. He was just so tired.

She knew what he was talking about and her lower lip trembled. Her eyes began to fill.

"I know" Kathryn said. She hesitated for a moment and then stepped behind Chakotay's desk to join him. She touched his arm. He didn't have to turn his gaze towards her, it never left her face from the moment she entered.

"Chakotay," she began,

"Tuvok to Janeway." Kathryn felt a swift pang of anger. Every time that she had a moment to something important for herself, ship's systems would interrupt. She would have to step in and be the Captain once again. She saw Chakotay look down and move away. He dashed the remaining tears from his eyes and squared his shoulders. She knew that he was preparing himself for being the First Officer. He knew what she must do and he would be right behind her. But not this time. This time...

"Tuvok unless the your next two words are 'Red Alert' I am unavailable. I am with commander Chakotay in his office and we are not to be disturbed. What ever it is, lock it down and deal with it any way you see fit. I will contact you as soon as I am done here."

"Understood. Tuvok out."

The hesitation in Tuvok's reply was so slight that Chakotay almost missed it. Janeway didn't, she knew that he was in shock by what she had said. But as always, he would comply with her wishes.

"Computer, activate privacy locks and post "do not disturb" on the door chime." Janeway continued. "Re-route all incoming Combadge messages of Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay to Commander Tuvok."

The computer beeped its compliance.

Chakotay looked at her with surprise lining his face as she walked over to the couch and sat down.

"This is more important Chakotay." He walked over to the couch and sat next to her, with only a couple inches of space between them.

"Chakotay, I'm sorry for the statement I made in the Ready Room during our first encounter with the Borg. I was scared and I lashed out at you personally instead of dealing with it professionally."

"You were scared?" Chakotay did not get that impression at all.

"I masked it well, but I was petrified. We were going to engage either the Borg or species 8472 whom we knew to be more powerful than the Borg. There was only one starship in the history of the Federation who survived Wolf 359 with no casualties and that was with the best Fleets that Starfleet had to offer. I was going to face them with one ship. We had come so far Chakotay and the thought of having to turn around and accept defeat or be possibly assimilated or die trying to escape assimilation was weighing heavily on my mind. I'm responsible for the crew being here and I vowed that I would get them back. I never honestly thought of ever settling down in the Delta Quadrant. My entire being was consumed with a way out and after talking to Maestro DaVinci in my simulation, I found what I thought was the only way out. I thought that since I willed it so much, I could make it happen. There was no doubt in my mind that the Borg would see things my way, that I could make the alliance work. I was so sure that I could convince the Borg that my plan was a good one. I didn't plan on having to convince the senior officers, I didn't plan on having to convince you.

He gave a quick nod of his head and his breath caught. Kathryn realized that he was on the brink of tears again.

"Kathryn if all it took for us to get home was your determination, we would have reached the alpha quadrant three years ago. I trust you with my life, with the crew's life. But there are things that bigger than you, which can crush us, which can kill us. I believed that the Borg and Species 8472 were two of those things. It was as you said, we had come so far. To die now because of the Borg and Species 8472 after all we had been through. I trusted you, it was the Borg and 8472 that I didn't trust."

"When you asked, I told you that it wasn't an issue. But you insisted that it was. You were right, but not in the way that you meant it. To me your actions showed that you didn't trust me. The day before, I told you that whatever we decided, we would tell the crew together. You are the captain Kathryn and I have never undercut your authority since we forged this crew. But in that instance I felt as if you undercut mine. This was a major decision, one that would have a huge impact on the crew and you did not even tell me first about it. I wasn't given a chance to voice my opinion, to give my support. You just informed me as part of the crew. At that time, the we came down to you."

"I am sorry. I should have asked your opinion of my plan before I informed the crew. I should have listened to your concerns Chakotay and together we should have come up with a joint plan at the beginning. You were right. I didn't listen because I couldn't see past what I wanted. Safe passage home. I can see that now, but at the time I didn't. My God, I almost got us all assimilated."

Kathryn's voice lowered.

"But I know you Chakotay. I knew that you would disagree with the plan and I knew why you would too. You wouldn't be able to see past what was done to you for the good of the crew."

It was hard for Chakotay to keep his yes on Janeway's face, but he made himself do it, because he owed it to her, because she was right.

"That was my part in all of it wasn't it? I couldn't see past what Riley and the New Co-Operative had done to me. I am sorry. For not able in that instance to put the good of the crew above my own personal experiences. You were right. Looking back, I could see now how 8472 would have been as big of a threat to the Delta Quadrant, to us, as the Borg. You were also correct when you made another statement. I was so angry with you when you refused to even consider my point of view, that I withdrew my support. As long as you were the captain, I would have followed your order, as the First Officer, but I didn't support you, something I could have done even if I disagreed with you. I was not at your side as I promised that I always would be. I truly regret that.

The tears escaped again. Kathryn had started crying openly when he began to apologize to her. She looked at his red eyes and realized now that hers must be in the same condition. She bet they looked a sight. It was good that they were saying these things to each other. They had needed to clear the air, but she still felt estranged from Chakotay somehow, she still needed to fill a gap. She turned her whole body to face Chakotay on the couch and then she raised her left hand and opened her palm. Chakotay did not hesitate. He put his palm against hers and their fingers intertwined. Calm which had eluded him from the Borg encounter finally began to settle in Chakotay's soul. It was then that his tears stopped. Kathryn felt a sob of relief rising to her throat. The connection that they had forged over three years was not broken as she thought it was. It was still there. They had both dealt hard blows to their friendship, but now for the first time, she felt as if their it would mend, not disintegrate. What they had built when they worked together was not torn by what they said when they pulled apart from each other.

Chakotay guided their joined hands to the side of her face and she leaned against them for a moment. The hands then lowered, fingers still intertwined. Kathryn said quietly.

"Three days after the Borg incident, when we first talked about Seven of Nine joining the crew and becoming human again and I told you that we had something to offer that the Borg couldn't, friendship, I believed that we would get through this, as we did the encounter, together. I must admit that with everything that has happened since then, I was afraid that we wouldn't make it. That I wouldn't make it. I have never felt so alone since my first year in this quadrant."

Chakotay's heart stirred deep within him.

"I watched you after Kes' transformation. I ached for you. I knew that you had a difficult time with it. I prayed that Tuvok would be able to help you with it, as I would not be able to. None of the crew were able to see it, but sometimes, when you were in the chair, I could see look of sadness cross your face, it was all I could do not to reach out, to offer again to you what I had withdrawn. But I knew that some resolutions had to be made before I could."

Kathryn looked at him in amazement. He had noticed. For a week after Kes' departure, it took everything that Kathryn had in her to remain in control. She was grateful that she had Seven of Nine to occupy a lot of her thoughts. She dealt with her grief by preparing for the challenge of the former Borg's transformation. But in the unguarded moments, as he had seen, some memory of Kes would resurface and the pain of loss would be with her again. Her gaze softened on his.

"I ache for you now. I know that part of reason you were crying when I entered your office had to do with you experience with the Vhori. It was all I could do to stop from going after you right after you left sickbay after seeing the Kradin Ambassador. When I saw you in your quarters, heard the way you spoke to me, I realized that I had become an intruder. I was not welcome to be with you in your pain"

The feeling of wanting to hide was back. Chakotay made a motion to break the contact with Kathryn, but she pulled at his hand gently. She would not let him hide from her now. He stayed, but he looked down. He said so softly that she almost didn't hear him.

"It's gone Kathryn, my sense of peace. The anger is back. It started with my experience with the New Co-operative, and all the things that I have gone through have eroded it. It has been a hard six months for me. It is getting hard for me to trust and to believe in anyone again. Especially myself. All the issues that I thought I had put to rest were coming back. I could feel the bitterness escalating. I wanted to reach out to the one thing I knew would bring me peace. But I couldn't because I thought that our connection was broken, and I had realized my part in severing it. For the first time in three years, I also realized that I was alone."

Kathryn brought their entwined hands to his face. She said simply.

"Our connection is not broken. You are not alone. Neither am I. Our friendship has survived this. And so will we"

She pierced his soul with her words and a sob finally escaped Chakotay's throat. Janeway removed her hand from his and drew him towards her. His frame trembled with the sobs that racked his throat. He began to heal.

Kathryn felt the tears escape her eyelids as she heard the anger, pain, disillusions in his cries. She held him for what seemed like an eternity until he stopped and after a time, she realized that his breathing had become regular. He had fallen asleep in her arms. She looked at him. He looked so peaceful in sleep. She didn't want to wake him.

"Computer set wake up alarm at two hours from now."


Kathryn settled back and made herself as comfortable as she could. Soon she joined Chakotay in sleep.

Chakotay awoke first. He felt warmth all over the front of his body and he realized that someone was holding him tightly. He snuggled into the warmth and he felt someone shift so as to accommodate his change of position. He was in a half a sleep state and he clung to it. He didn't know why, but he did not want to become fully awake. He had feeling that he would lose the warmth if he did.

Eventually he did, and realized on whose chest he was asleep. But still he did not move.

The computer chirped the time

"1300 hours, 1300 hours, 1300 hours

Kathryn stirred. Chakotay's head was against her bosom. With the chime she felt him stir and eventually he raised himself rubbing his leg where it fell asleep.

"I'm sorry, I haven't been sleeping well lately." He said by way of explanation.

"Well by the looks of it, neither have I" Kathryn gave a rueful grin and then a small groan. "Oh, I'm sore. You sure are heavy Chakotay."

He chuckled, she was able to diffuse the awkwardness of the situation with her comment. She grinned as he helped her up.

"Next time, we do this, I suggest we use a bed" It came to her too late what her statement sounded like.

Chakotay gave a short laugh "Are you propositioning me Kathryn?". It felt so good to be able to joke with her again.

With the utterance of her name, Kathryn felt herself sobering up.

She had a serious look on her face as she faced Chakotay.

"I know that when I offered before, things were too uncomfortable between us, so I'm offering again. If you need anything or just want to talk, please ask. My best friend is in pain and I want to help."

Chakotay gave her a long look as if he was deciding something and then put his hand to the side of her face.

"I will Kathryn, that's a promise."

He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

"I think that we'd better show up to our respective posts or else a certain Lt. assigned to Conn will be collecting a lot of replicator chips."

Kathryn looked puzzled as she walked to the door.

"Tom, why?"

"He bet against the four to one odds that we would become lovers this year in ships pool"

"Cocky little one, if it were me I would have waited another year, the odds would have been much better then."

Chakotay looked at her as they left his office.

"You knew?"

"I guessed. And it would be the type of thing that Tom would get involved in."

"At least this time he's not skimming profits. I hope that you don't mind that I looked the other cheek with the ship's pool."

"No, what I really want to know is how they would confirm it, they certainly wouldn't ask us outright."

"I don't know about that."

Kathryn stopped, "Someone asked you? What did you say?"

Chakotay's mischievous grin was back. "I evaded the question.'

Kathryn's laughter filled the corridor.

The End