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Disclaimer: The characters and world are not mine.

Why the hell did I go off alone with my first officer?

It’s against every regulation in the book. Captain Picard would never have flown off in a shuttle alone with Commander Riker. It’s too dangerous: should something happen to our shuttle…and it did, though we were lucky it wasn’t any worse…the ship could be without its captain and commander in one fell swoop.

In our case, that would leave Voyager in Tuvok’s hands.

We tried that before, not too long ago. My Vulcan friend literally went to the most formidable foe available, just to get us back.

It was beyond stupid, and again, we were very lucky that it didn’t turn out badly.

So why did I take Chakotay with me, alone, in that shuttle?

The truth is, I have a crush. Like a silly schoolgirl.

That “away mission” was a thinly-disguised date. He knew it, and I knew it…we had no plausible excuse for being the only people in that flyer. In fact, the mission was so routine that I should have sent two ensigns to do it.

But nobody objected.  I’m the captain, and I can do what I want. They’ll obey. It’s the first officer’s job to protest, to invoke regulations, and the fact that he didn’t speaks volumes.

And I knew that he wouldn’t. Ever since our time alone on that planet due to a virus in a little insect – time cut short by Tuvok’s foolish-but-lucky escapade with the Vidiians – I’ve known that Chakotay is a little bit too loyal to me. The Angry Warrior speech he gave in response to my request to “define parameters for us” was ridiculous, but it told me what I wanted to know.

I took advantage of it.

I’ve been lonely. Haven’t seen my fiance for three years. He’s probably forgotten about me, moved on. I’m not completely sure, but I certainly have.

I just wanted to be Kathryn, not the captain, with the man I love…just for a short while, even if I still had to maintain some pretense and avoid the full-on romantic relationship I desperately craved.

I certainly paid for that.

I almost died.

And while I lay, dying, on that planet, I got to experience my own personal hell. I got to be euthanized by Voyager’s EMH, trapped by a force field like a caged animal being put to sleep by the vet, in the very Sickbay that I have to visit any time I am ill or injured.

I got to watch the man I love cry over my dead body, and it wasn’t even real.

And I got to see my dead father again…only to have him be a masquerading alien who wanted my essence to feed his matrix.

When I finally woke up, I realized that I had to be more careful…much more careful.

Oh God, how much I wanted, in that moment, to throw myself into Chakotay’s arms and weep my troubles away. To feel his arms around me, making all those horrible images disappear, replacing them with comfort and warmth.

I know he would have done it if I’d let him. But where would that have left us?

Back with what got us here in the first place.

Instead, I maintained my captain’s authoritative air just long enough to make it to my quarters and collapse…sobbing, alone. Feeling sorry for myself, for what I can’t have. But also feeling guilty for what I almost did to this ship…because I, selfishly, wanted my first officer for myself.

Neither of us is available to give to the other. We belong to the ship, to the crew. And we owe it to them to remain professional, to avoid personal entanglements that will put everyone in danger.

I just violated them in the worst possible way, and I got away with it.

Next time I won’t be so lucky.

It is with this in mind that I field my gentleman love in my ready room.

He actually had the balls to bring me a flower. Apparently, he hasn’t come to the same conclusion that I have. Maybe he’s dumber than I thought, or maybe love has made him blind.

So it falls to me to draw the line.

And, as much as I want to be Kathryn, to have what I need as a woman, I know I can’t.

I almost…almost melt when he looks at me with such concern in his eyes.

But I’ve learned my lesson.

I am Kathryn again, only for the moment it takes to lure him somewhere that I can have a private word with him.

Pretense once more, but this time with a far more sinister purpose. Lake George, on the holodeck. A moonlight sail. Champagne. Poor sap thinks he’s going to finish that date we started in the shuttlecraft.

It takes everything I have to smile sweetly at him and seem excited about what we’re about to do.

Inside I am crying.

This is it. We’re going to ground our relationship before it’s even had a chance to take off.

Will I have the courage to do it?

Chakotay believes in not sacrificing the present for a future that will never happen. He made that abundantly clear on New Earth when he ignored my research and instead built me a bathtub…but also told me explicitly, just to make sure I understood. Luckily I didn’t have time then to give in completely to his way of thinking. I’d almost gotten there when we were rescued.

Now, however, his philosophy doesn’t apply. I know that in breaking up with him, I am sacrificing the present to ensure that we have a future.

And maybe, if I’m lucky, we’ll last long enough so that I can, one day, be Kathryn again, and have the love of the man I so desperately desire. Maybe it will be Chakotay, or maybe it will be someone else.

All I know is that, right now, the captain needs to take authority and prevent something like this from happening ever again. Because her first officer sure as hell isn’t going to do it.

Goodbye, Kathryn. I hope you survive the journey. At least everyone else will.

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