Goodbye My Almost Lover
There was a buzzing sound, and it was getting on her nerves.
Sighing, Kathryn rolled over and pulled the blanket over her head, in an attempt to make the annoyance to go away. But she was still able to hear it and as her mind started to work, she noticed that someone was at the door, obviously wanting her attention. Groaning, she sat up and looked at the chronometer on her nightstand. 0800 hours on a Sunday morning and her first day off in three weeks. With a big yawn, she swung her legs out of the bed and grabbed her robe, which lay on a chair near to her.
"Yes! I'm coming!" She yelled at the direction of the front door, where the visitor apparently now had decided to lean on the bell, which was screeching in distress.
Passing the mirror in the hall, she took a quick look at herself. Sighing, she took in the deep circles under her eyes, the deep lines etched in her face and her mussed hair. She looked like shit. Hell, she thought, she'd even looked better when she'd still been in the Delta Quadrant. Who would have thought that life behind an admiral's desk would be that stressful? Damn those Romulans.
She finally reached the door and with a forceful yank pulled it open.
"What?" She barked out at once, noticing to her annoyance that the young man before her didn't even have the decency to cringe at least a little bit.
"Admiral Kathryn Janeway?" He asked politely instead, seemingly oblivious to her state of dress and her bad mood.
He seemed to interpret her low grumble as a ‘yes' though, because he pulled a small envelope out of his bag at once.
"I'm here to deliver this letter to you, ma'am. Could you please confirm the delivery, here?" He almost shoved the padd into her face.
Nodding, Kathryn just took the letter and pressed her thumb on the padd, which gave a confirming chirp. Even that damn padd seemed cheerful.
"Thank you, ma'am," the carrier said again merrily and even bowed a little. "Have a nice day, ma'am." And with a last nod in her direction he moved down the street, with a spring in his step.
"Yes, I love you too," Kathryn grumbled under her breath and slammed the door closed.
Turning back into the hallway, she turned the envelope in her hands in hope to find some indication of the sender, but only found her own name and address.
"You should have looked more closely at the padd you just put your thumbprint on," she thought wryly. "Now you'll probably get a new replicator delivered soon."
Snorting, she threw the letter unopened on the sideboard next to her and contemplated going back to bed for some more sleep. But now that she was well awake, she knew sleep wouldn't come back easily to her again. Damn.
"Coffee first," she thought. "Yes, coffee first and then I'll decide what to do next."
One hour and three cups of coffee later she stood in her bathroom, trying to fix her hair. Phoebe had called half an hour earlier, asking if she would like to go out for brunch. Her husband had gone to a conference and Gretchen had been only too grateful to baby sit her four year old grandson, Timothy, for the weekend.
Stepping back she looked at herself again, noticing that after a shower and some make-up, she now at least made a decent appearance. Pulling the brush one last time through her hair, Kathryn threw a look at the small chronometer on the wall. Cursing, she noticed that she was late. She rushed out of the bathroom and down the hall, only stopping to grab a light jacket, and was out of the door within seconds.
The letter lay forgotten on the sideboard.
Kathryn's side hurt from all the laughing this morning, as she keyed her front door open some hours later and motioned Phoebe to follow her in.
"Timothy did what?" Kathryn asked, chuckling.
"As I said," Phoebe laughed. "He was playing on Mom's veranda one evening and I told him that he's due for his evening bath soon. He started to whine, as always, because he is afraid of the foam getting into his eyes. It's a big drama every time," she rolled her eyes and winked at her older sister. "Well, ten minutes later I went outside to get him; you know it had been raining heavily for days before and the front yard was actually a big muddy mess," Phoebe explained, then she started to laugh again. "I actually didn't find him at first, because he wasn't on the veranda anymore. I thought he may had been hiding and started to search, but then I suddenly noticed him sitting in one big puddle, naked and covered from head to toe in mud. Smart as he is, he had decided that he should be at least really dirty, if he was to endure yet another bath. I actually needed half an hour to get all the mud out of his hair!"
Still laughing Kathryn took Phoebe's jacket to hang it up.
"And you don't even know the best part yet," Phoebe said still chuckling. "He was seen," she paused dramatically and then continued with a grave voice, "by Mrs. Jenkins..."
"Oh my god, that cranky little woman is still alive?" Kathryn's eyes opened wide. "I mean, she was already old when we were kids," She pointed out and then started to laugh. "You know, when I was a child, and I must have been the same age as Timothy, I gave her a frog as a birthday gift. After that she didn't talk to me for months!"
"You did what?! Kathryn you never told me!" Phoebe said shocked. "How could you withhold such value information from me?"
"Well, I didn't tell you because then you would tell Timothy and he would do the same! He's still too young to be corrupted by you or me!" Kathryn said with laughter in her eyes.
"Aw, come on Kathryn. There's no fun in this," Phoebe poked her sister's arm; turning she put Kathryn's face in between her hands. "It's so good to have you back big ‘sis. I can't say it often enough. I've missed you."
Getting tears in her eyes, Kathryn stepped up to Phoebe and took her in her arms. "I've missed you too, little ‘sis," she said, almost in a whisper.
They stood there for a moment, just holding each other. Finally Kathryn pulled back slowly and cleaned her sister's face from the smeared make-up, the few tears she'd shed, had caused.
"Do you have time for another coffee?" Kathryn asked; her own voice deep with emotion.
"Always," Phoebe nodded. "Let me just use the bathroom first, okay?"
"Sure, you know the way. I'll be in the kitchen," Kathryn said, before she turned and left the hallway.
"Aaaaaaaand what is this?" Phoebe asked curious, entering the kitchen, holding the small white envelope in her hands. Normally she wouldn't snoop around in Kathryn's belongings, but in their century, getting a hand written note was actually something special.
"Mmh? Oh, that was delivered this morning," Kathryn winked at her, as she put two steaming mugs on the kitchen table. "I haven't opened it yet."
"There's no sender on it. Aren't you curious who sent it to you?" Her sister wanted to know as she sat down. "Maybe you have a secret admirer." Phoebe smiled suggestively at her.
"Yeah, sure," Kathryn snatched the letter out of her sister's hands. "You know, a secret admirer wouldn't wake me up at 8 o'clock in the morning on my only day off in three weeks," she said sarcastically.
Ripping the envelope open, she gave one last, as she hoped stern, look at her sister, before her eyes settled on the handwritten letter.
It almost fell out of her hands and her heart sped up as she read the handwritten words.
Voyager has been home for almost six months now and I have finally been able to settle down and purchased a little house on my own. I hereby would like to invite you to a little housewarming party at July 15th at 1900 hours. Most of the Senior Staff will be there, too.
Please let me know if you're going to make it by July 1st
Kathryn stared at the letter for some seconds, before she suddenly sprang to her feet and started to pace around the kitchen. "I'm not going," was the first, panicked thought that ran through her confused mind.
She and Chakotay hadn't really spoken or actually met since their arrival home. The first days in the Alpha Quadrant had been filled with seemingly endless reports and debriefings and she often had gotten up in the wee morning hours, long before any other of her crew had been awake, had transported to Starfleet Headquarters, only to come back late at night, when most of her crew had already been in bed again. That and the fact that she was a master in running away from her very own feelings, especially when it came to love and even more especially when it came to a certain first officer. A certain ex-first officer she corrected at once in her head. And after the debriefings? Well, she was also a master at hiding behind her work, wasn't she?
"What? That bad?" Phoebe asked, snapping the letter out of her sister's hand. After reading the letter a slow smile formed on her lips. "Well, it seems that I wasn't so wrong about the secret admirer. Only that it's not a real secret he loves you. And would you please stop that pacing, Kathryn. You're making me dizzy!"
Kathryn did just that and came to a sudden halt. Placing her hands on the table she leaned down and looked her sister in the eyes.
"He's not in love with me." Kathryn said quietly. "At least not anymore. I messed things up, I waited too long." She sat down again and started to play with her coffee cup.
Sighing, Phoebe leaned forward and took one of Kathryn's hands in hers, holding the letter in the other one.
"Kathryn, talk to me, please. What's up? I thought he was your best friend on Voyager."
"He was," Kathryn nodded. "And yet he was so much more."
Running a finger over the rim of the cup, she added with a whisper, "I'm in love with him."
"Oh, Kathryn," Phoebe got up to her feet and sat on the chair next to her sister. "But this is wonderful, I don't see the problem. It's plain for everyone to see that he loves you too. I saw the way he looked at you at the ‘welcome home' parties. Hell, I wish Stewart would look at me like that," she rolled her eyes, referring to her husband.
"No," Kathryn shook her head. "I messed up. I've waited too long. He's with Seven now."
"That Borg woman? The boobs on two legs?" Phoebe snorted and made a rude gesture with her hands. "I saw them talking at one of the parties once. Believe me Kathryn, there's nothing there, not love anyway. No, I think he still has feelings for you. And I think this is a perfect opportunity to get in touch with him again."
Phoebe laid a hand on Kathryn's shoulder and looked into her eyes. "And Kathryn, you've never been a quitter. Go and see him again, talk to him and then fuck each others brains out."
"Phoebe!" Kathryn screamed shocked and then started to laugh. "You're unbelievable! Okay, okay, I'll go and see him."
"Good, that's the Kathryn I know." Straightening, Phoebe held the letter up to her nose and sniffed. "And I think he put some drops of perfume on this. Smells like lilac!" She screamed the last words, as Kathryn made a jump at her sister, chasing her through the whole apartment.
"Chakotay, where did you put the tomatoes? I need to fix the salad," Sekaya, Chakotay's dark haired, beautiful sister asked.
"Just there on the counter," Chakotay pointed over his shoulder, while he was busy cutting the bread for the evening. The clock already showed a few minutes after six, which meant that they had less than an hour left until the first guests arrived. And he still had to fix the noodle salad and the lasagne and, sniffing at his arm pit, he noticed that he was also in the need of a shower. Damn, where was a time anomaly when you need one?
"So...is this cute little captain of yours coming too?" Sekaya's voice broke into his thoughts.
"Yes," he said, looking over his shoulder back to her. "And she's off limits!"
Grinning, his sister stepped up next to him and started to cut the tomatoes into little pieces.
"But, she looks hot!" She nudged him with her elbow and waggled her eyebrows in a manner that made him surely understand what she meant. Chuckling, he shook his head.
"What about you and Isabelle? Wouldn't she have something to say on this matter?" He asked as he started to oil a large pan for the lasagne.
"She and I broke up," Sekaya admitted, sighing. "She's a nice woman, but ...," she paused for a while. "But she's not the right woman for me." Suddenly she smiled. "But Kathryn seems to a very passionate woman. I wonder how she is in...," she trailed of, still grinning, knowing that she would drive Chakotay crazy with this conversation.
As she had predicted, Chakotay turned around sharply and almost shoved the spoon he was holding into her face.
"Remember my words, Sekaya, because I'm only saying this once: She's off limits!"
Rolling her eyes at him she patted his hand away and took the spoon out of his hands. "Yeah, I understand. But a woman can dream, can't she? Now go and shower, the first guests will be here soon and you don't want to greet your Kathryn all sweaty, do you?"
Sighing, she watched her brother go. As much as she loved him, he could be such a thickhead sometimes. This episode with his former captain just had proved this again.
Soon after their return Chakotay had told her how much in love he was with Kathryn Janeway. Okay, that wasn't entirely true. Shortly after his arrival she had sensed that something was wrong with him, but she couldn't get him talking to her. But, she was a woman and women knew what to do in that kind of situation, especially if they knew that their brother would talk like a waterfall when he had a glass too many. Laughing quietly to herself, she thought how pathetic it was that this big, strong and sometimes angry warrior couldn't hold his liquor.
So she had sat down with him and slowly, but surely had coaxed out of him what was wrong.
It had almost broken her heart to see how much he seemed to miss Kathryn. How he always had stood by her side, to be her colleague, her companion, her friend. Patiently waiting for them to arrive home, where it would be possible for both of them to explore those feelings that were so strong in them, but they had to suppress because of the rules that were made up by an organization thousands of light years away. And how he'd stumbled and had misguidedly tried to form a relationship with one of his colleagues during the final days of their voyage. A relationship that hadn't even lasted until they had set a foot on earth, but also seemed to push his precious Kathryn further away than before. She wasn't sure how much he remembered from that evening, where he'd poured his heart out to her; they never had talked about that occasion again.
But she was happy for Chakotay that Kathryn had actually agreed to come to this little get-together. As much as she loved to tease him, she wanted him to be happy. And if this meant he'd only be happy with Kathryn Janeway, so be it.
She couldn't believe her brother that Kathryn was gone for good. She'd taken a good look at that woman, the strong-minded captain that had fought tooth and nail to bring her crew home. Kathryn Janeway was a beautiful, compassionate woman. It was no wonder her brother had fallen for her. And Kathryn Janeway was also in love with Chakotay. A little pissed maybe, but not that it was beyond repair.
Sekaya had seen how Kathryn had looked at him when the captain had thought nobody was watching. How her head would turn when his laughter filled the room. But Kathryn was not only famous for her strength as a leader, but also for her stubbornness.
Chakotay had told his sister more than once how he had to force her to take care of her well-being. Well, that reminded her of another person she knew.
Sekaya placed another bowl of food on the already heavily laden table and let her gaze wander over the guest-filled room. Actually almost everyone was there, only one person missing.
Even though his back was to her, she noticed that Chakotay was all tensed up. His back was straight and his movements were abrupt. He thought Kathryn wouldn't come, that she'd changed her mind. ‘After all these years, he still doesn't know how a woman's mind works', she thought, smiling to herself. Then again, what man does?
The sound of the door bell interrupted her thoughts and even though Chakotay was moving fast through the crowd, she beat him to the front door. Opening it, she found her only missing guest, head held up high, and her posture proud.
‘A woman on a mission'," Sekaya thought. Holding out her hand, she smiled and took a step forward to meet their guest.
"Captain Janeway, it's good to see you again," she said, shaking the outstretched hand.
"It's Kathryn, please," Kathryn said in that deep, sultry voice that, despite her best intention, sent a shiver down Sekaya's spine.
"It's good to see you again, Kathryn," Sekaya said, after she'd took Kathryn's jacket to hang it up. "Please, come in." She turned in order to guide her in, but found her way blocked by her brother, who had finally been able to work his way to the front door.
Noticing that she was probably only disturbing them now, she quietly slipped past.
Standing quietly in the hallway for some moments, Kathryn and Chakotay just stared at each other.
Sighing, Kathryn finally took a step forward and hugged Chakotay close to her and his arms moved around her small form at once. "I've missed you," she mumbled into his shirt.
"I've missed you, too," he whispered back, burying his head in her hair.
"We should talk soon," Kathryn quietly offered.
"Yes, I'd like that," Chakotay said, pulling back, but not letting her go completely. A smile slowly formed on his face.
Suddenly they were interrupted by Tom Paris, who had noticed the arrival of his former captain.
"Hey, big guy! Don't keep her all to yourself!" The sandy-haired man yelled from the living room.
"Seems I'm needed in there," Kathryn pointed out chuckling, before she, with one last pat on Chakotay's arm, sidestepped him and made her way over to her former crew.
Chakotay stood in the hallway alone for some seconds. He was beyond relieved that she had made up her mind and came. Until the very last minute he had been afraid that she'd changed her mind. But in coming here she showed him, that even though their friendship wasn't mended yet, she was at least willing to give it another try. And who knew, maybe now they would be finally able to explore the feelings they were forced to hold back all those years.
Five hours later, Sekaya and Chakotay were busy cleaning away the rest of the dishes. Their last guest had left fifteen minutes ago. Who'd have thought that a hologram would be so clingy? But they had shared a wonderful evening with lots of food, laughter and stories told.
Chakotay was unusually quiet though, so Sekaya decided to break the silence.
"So, were you able to talk to Kathryn?"
"A little bit, but it was hard to get to her, because you were talking to her for almost the whole evening!" Chakotay grumbled.
"Well, sorry, but I kind of like her! She is an interesting woman," his sister pointed out, while she picked up some of the used napkins and put them into the recycler. Actually she had noticed how Chakotay had circled the room, all the time watching her and Kathryn like a hawk. Even though they always had a close relationship and she knew her brother very well, this overprotective, jealous attitude was new to her.
"And you had your hand on her knee at least five times," he pointed out.
"You were counting?!" Sekaya wasn't sure whether to be angry or amused. "I don't see any harm in that; actually she had laid her hand on my arm too a few times."
"Yes, but Kathryn is a very touchy person, she's always doing that," her brother explained.
"Ah, and she's allowed and I'm not?" She snorted. "This is ridiculous, Chakotay. Stop acting like an over-jealous jerk."
"I'm not jealous!"
"Yeah, sure," Sekaya snorted again.
"Sorry to break the news to you, but she's not into woman," Chakotay suddenly spit out.
"Well there's a first time for everything!"
As soon as the words had left her mouth, Sekaya regretted them. But damn, she was tired of being alone. Even though her conversation with Chakotay this afternoon had implied otherwise, she was sad and lonely, sad that her relationship with Isabella hadn't worked out and oh, was she tired. Tired of being alone, tired of being without a real friend. Ever since the Cardassian attack on their home world, she hadn't been able to form a real friendship with a woman again. In Kathryn Janeway she seemed to have found a woman that thought like her, was compassionate like her and she was able to talk to, and damn she wouldn't allow her brother to take that opportunity from her, only because he had messed it up with Kathryn once, and was now afraid to mess it up again, or even worse, that the woman he loved would chose someone else over him.
Sighing, Sekaya let the napkins she had been holding fall onto the table again and pulled a chair out to sit down.
"Listen, I'm sorry, Chakotay. I didn't mean to say that. I would never do something to hurt you intentionally, but I can't let this chance to build a friendship again, just slip through my fingers."
Pausing with the cleaning Chakotay sat down himself. "I understand, Sekaya, and I'm sorry too. It's just that this whole matter is still very sensitive to me and as long as I can't be ultimately sure that things somehow will work out between Kathryn and me...," he didn't end his sentence and ran a hand over his face. "I have messed things up and I know it. I just want to make it right this time. I couldn't bear to lose Kathryn a second time."
Standing up Sekaya stepped up to her brother and laid her arm around his shoulder, hugging him close to her. Suddenly she was all too aware again, that her brother was her only living relative. Both of them had already been under the impression that they had lost each other to death, only to find out, as if by miracle, that the other one was still alive. Life was too precious to fight.
"I know," she said. "Everything will be alright."
Two months later Kathryn and Sekaya found themselves on a busy street in San Francisco, packed with various bags and each holding an ice cream in their hands. Laughing, Sekaya nudged Kathryn in the side with one elbow.
"So when will you wear it?" She asked grinning.
"Uhm, what?" Kathryn asked back, licking a drop of ice cream from her finger.
"Oh, come on. I know that you bought that negligee when I was in the dressing room." Sekaya grinned at the woman beside her.
"I did not!" Kathryn, shot back, unsuccessfully trying to hide her giveaway smile.
"Oh, yes you did, Kathryn. The dark red one, from the shop window. Why else would you carry a bag that says ‘The Bajoran Finest' with you, which oh, what a coincidence, is the name to the negligee shop we were just in?"
"Oh, you're a smart woman," Kathryn chuckled. "Want to join Starfleet? We can use smart people like you."
"Ah nah," Sekaya winked. "You know I don't like all these old and cranky Admirals running around there," she wrinkled her nose.
Laughing, Kathryn shook her head and they walked in silence for a while, each absorbed in their thoughts. Over the last weeks she had been able to spend a lot of time with Chakotay's sister and slowly but surely a deep friendship had developed, the type of friendship Kathryn didn't want to miss anymore. She never has had a female best friend. Her sometimes distant and aloof demeanour in her youth, and later her career in Starfleet, had made sure of that. Starfleet Captains just didn't hang around giggling with their subordinates. But she also had to admit, that she never had missed that kind of friendship, as she hadn't known otherwise. Until now.
The more surprised had she been as she had found out at how important her friendship with Sekaya had become to her. She was a smart and quick witted woman, who would just show up at Headquarters late at night, when Kathryn was still sitting at her desk and everyone else was already at home, demanding to go out with her for a drink. Now and without delay. Just like Chakotay had taken care of her on Voyager. Must run in the family.
A smile showed on her lips as her thoughts wandered to the man, who had that special place in her heart.
Since their meeting again two months ago at his dinner, they had been able to form a close friendship again and things were looking up for both of them on a more personal level.
Kathryn knew it wasn't possible, but she was sure her lips still tingled from the kiss they'd shared yesterday evening. They hadn't made love yet and that famous three little words had yet to be spoken. But Kathryn was sure; it was only a matter of time now, a very short matter of time actually, considering that the right garment for such an occasion was already in one of the bags she was holding.
"Soon," she suddenly said aloud.
"What?" It was now Sekaya's turn to ask.
"I'll wear the negligee soon," Kathryn said with a twinkle in her eyes.
Laughing, Sekaya lifted her hand in greeting when they rounded a corner and they spotted Chakotay, sitting in front of the ‘Night Owl', already awaiting their arrival. Sometimes Kathryn had the feeling that she was on time sharing with these two, a concept she actually liked, though.
"But please don't wear him out, hon," Sekaya whispered into Kathryn's ear. "I like him more when he is alive. It's easier to make his life miserable that way."
Kathryn only laughed and put her arm around Sekaya's waist, as they both strolled over to the man in their lives.
Smiling Kathryn filled the two champagne glasses with the sparkling beverage, before she handed one to Chakotay. She stood the champagne bottle aside, before they clinked glasses, the sound echoing over the almost deserted beach.
"Well, to this evening," Chakotay said.
"To this evening," Kathryn echoed. "And to us."
They each took a sip, before they placed the glasses next to them and laid down on the soft blanket, Chakotay had brought with them. He held out his arm and with a sigh Kathryn snuggled up to him; her hand laying loosely on his chest.
They looked up into the dark, starry sky, each comfortable with their own thoughts.
"You didn't answer me." Chakotay suddenly broke the silence.
"Mmmh? What do you mean?"
"I asked you once, what you did when you slipped past your parents' bedroom as a teenager at night and you had just smiled that mysterious smile of yours, but you had never answered me."
"Oh my god, you remembered that?" Kathryn asked, her eyebrows raised.
"Sure, how could I ever forget something you've said?"
"Smartass," Kathryn said, poking him into his side, before she started to play with one of the buttons on his shirt.
"I had a friend when I was teenager," she started to tell. "My parents didn't like her and her family very much. They had never forbidden me to see her, but I mostly just didn't tell them when I was meeting her. Well, that one night we slipped outside to search an old castle ruin near her home. We roamed the ruin for some time in the dark, before we settled down on a blanket with something to eat and drink," Kathryn started to explain, before she suddenly broke off. "And then she suddenly kissed me," Kathryn added quietly as if an afterthought. She was so lost in her own memories, that she didn't notice how Chakotay's head whipped around, his eyebrows nearly disappearing into his hairline.
"At one moment we were laughing and talking and the next thing I know is how she was suddenly pressing her lips onto mine. She confessed her love to me afterwards. But I was far too young and scared and probably too shocked at this sudden turn of events to even think along those lines; so I just pushed her away and ran from the castle all the way home," she paused a few seconds before she continued. "She tried to call me a few times afterwards, but I always ignored her calls. She even tried to visit me, but I always let my mother or father say I wasn't at home. Not a gracious move, I know and very unlike me, but I think when it comes to love I'm not my usual, strong self. Give me a Borg or a Cardassian and I can fight him off, but give me love and I will mostly fail," she sighed and pressed a soft kiss on Chakotay's temple. Taking a deep breath she laid back again. "Well, needless to say that the calls and visits got fewer and fewer and I think she had moved to another place with her parents after the end of the summer. I never saw or heard of her again." She finally finished her tale.
Turning her head to her side, she noticed that Chakotay was staring quietly into the sky; his face completely blank.
"Chakotay?" Kathryn asked, suddenly concerned. "Is something wrong? Chakotay?" She sat up and started to nudge him until she saw that he had real trouble from keeping laughing out loud. "Oh you!" She hit him on his chest with her small hand, which elicted a small ‘ooomph' from him and he finally let his suppressed laugh out.
"Why are you laughing now?" She asked him in playful seriousness. "I'm telling you one of my darkest and best protected secrets and you're laughing!"
"I could have collected that damn pool!" Chakotay finally gasped between laughter.
"What? What pool? Chakotay what are you talking about? I don't understand," Kathryn had started to laugh, too, even though she didn't understand what was so funny. But seeing him so happy and carefree just warmed her heart. And she made a promise to herself to make him laugh more in the, no their, future.
Finally catching his breath Chakotay started to explain.
"Since the beginning of Voyager's journey Tom had a pool running with the ‘all big secrets of the Senior Staff'," he marked the last words with his fingers. "For example, does B'Elanna sleep with a stuffed toy Targ? Does Tuvok possess shorts with little similes? Does Neelix have those little spots ‘everywhere'? And, last but not least," he made a short, dramatic pause. "Did our ever so straight laced Captain ever kiss a woman," he finally said, chuckling at her raised eyebrow and her seemingly shocked expression.
"What? But why didn't I know...," she started to ask, but was interrupted by his held up hand, which showed her that he wasn't finished yet.
"Each and every secret was labelled with a very high win of replicator rations for the one who could prove one or more of these ‘dark secrets'. I considered whether or not to take the whole thing down at first, after I'd found out, but they were doing no harm and I think it was more out of fun. But I think though that Tom later got his share of replicator rations when he got together with B'Elanna," he mused. "So you see, if you had told me your ‘little, dark secret' just a little earlier I could have gotten quite a share myself," he actually managed to pout a little bit at that.
"But Chakotay, you don't understand. You really should have told me before." Chakotay too sat up now at her suddenly serious voice.
"I'm sorry," he said, suddenly unsure if he had hurt her feelings somehow. "I didn't think you would've wanted to know. There was no harm done in letting this one running."
"Oh Chakotay no, you don't understand!" Kathryn tried to soothe him, as she realized that he thought he'd made the wrong decision. Suddenly a giggle escaped her. "Chakotay, we could've collected the rations about my secret, but also about Tuvok's," she made a short, dramatic pause, before she continued. "I gave him shorts with little smilies as a joke when he was promoted to Lieutenant."
Sekaya was in trouble.
She was in love.
She was in love and this was bad for once. Really, really bad.
Sitting on her bed in Chakotay's guest room, where she had lived the past months, she pulled out yet another tissue and tried to dry her tears, that were streaming down her face.
She blew her nose and started to pace the room, her movements abrupt and troubled, just like her mind was.
One, two, three, four, five; turn. One, two, three, four, five; turn. One, two, three...
After some time Sekaya came to a sudden halt. Turning she stepped up to the window, leaning her hot forehead against the cold surface.
Sighing she tried to calm herself, knowing that her brother would arrive soon from his date with Kathryn and if he'd see her in that kind of distress he surely would demand an explanation.
Damn him for being the kind brother he was.
Damn that she loved him so much.
Damn that she promised not to hurt him.
Damn that they were in love with the same woman.
She couldn't tell the exact point it had happened. She only knew she and Kathryn had been laughing about some lame joke Sekaya had made and suddenly she had noticed how Kathryn's blue eyes shone, how her brown - reddish hair sparkled in the bright sun and how beautiful she was when she was laughing; that low and husky laugh that ran a shiver down her spine every time.
Yes, she'd fallen for her. Hard.
Suddenly she heard the front door being opened and closed. She could hear her brother whistling, and roaming the other rooms, surely searching the other rooms for her.
As predicted it only took another few seconds until she heard him calling out for her.
"Sekaya! Where are you?"
"I'm here in my room," she replied, after another deep breath. She again ran a hand over her face, hoping that he wouldn't notice the tears she had shed.
Of course her brother was far too attentive not to notice.
He knocked, and after she had bid him entrance, it only took him one quarter of a second to notice that something wasn't right.
"What happened?" He asked at once, stepping up to her.
"It's nothing," Sekaya tried to calm him. "I'm just feeling a little down. Maybe I caught the ‘flu or something," she winked at him.
"But you've been crying," he pointed out, as he sat down on her bed, motioning her to join him.
Sekaya sat down slowly, not sure what to tell him. They never had secrets before each other and she hated to lie to him. But could she actually tell him the truth?
But somehow the decision was taken out of her hands.
"Did you have a fight with Kathryn? She mentioned today that you walked away rather abruptly yesterday afternoon and you didn't answer her calls."
Shaking her head, Sekaya mumbled something he wasn't able to understand.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that," he pointed out, and took gently her chin in her hand, so that he could turn her head around.
New tears sprang into her eyes, as she looked into the brown, worried eyes of her brother.
Gulping she gave another try.
"I said, I'm in love."
"But, this is wonderful Sekaya!" A smile sprang onto Chakotay's face. "Love is wonderful, you should be happy, you...," he trailed off as she slowly shook her head and he finally understood. "Oh...," was all he managed to say.
"Yes, I'm in love with Kathryn," Sekaya told the now obvious.
"But, but...," he stuttered. "You promised, you..." He stood and, like his sister only minutes before, started to pace the room too. "You promised you wouldn't!"
He knew this was ridiculous. Nobody could promise not to fall in love with someone. But damn. Things were finally going right between Kathryn and him. Couldn't things just be uncomplicated for once? He wouldn't be so anxious if the conversation between him and Kathryn from only one hour before wouldn't play over and over in his head. ‘And then she suddenly kissed me'. ‘I wouldn't know what I would do without the both of you'. ‘And then she suddenly kissed me'. ‘And then she suddenly kissed me'. ‘And then...'
Rage and the ugly head of jealousy built up in him.
"But, she's mine!" Chakotay almost yelled, as he stopped his pacing, his hands wandering to his hips, his whole posture, straight and tense. The angry warrior had made his arrival.
Sekaya felt her skin bristle. How dare he, as if she wasn't feeling miserable enough already! But two could play the game of jealousy.
"How dare you hold any claim on her," she spit out. "She's not just goods from the market!" Sekaya had stood up now and she stepped up towards her brother, gone were her compassionate feelings for him. He had just pushed the right buttons. "Maybe we should just ask her, and then she could choose between us!"
"You wouldn't dare," Chakotay's voice had come down to a whisper. "It wouldn't be fair on either of us, nor to her."
Sekaya's shoulders fell, sighing she sat back on her bed, as all strength seemed to leave her body.
"Oh, Chakotay, look at us. What have we done?" She asked, running a hand over her face. "We're behaving like two love sick teenagers. We should've sat down and talked about it like two adults. Isn't it a shame what love can force us to do?"
Sighing himself, Chakotay sat down beside his sister and laid an arm around her shoulder. Holding her close to him, he placed a kiss on her temple. "I'm sorry," he admitted. "Sorry, for the words I said, sorry for wanting to hurt you. I know it's not your fault."
Sekaya closed her eyes and snuggled close to him, desperate to feel secure in his arms.
"What a mess," she mumbled, her eyes closed.
"Yes, that it is," her brother admitted.
They sat in silence for some moments, just holding each other.
"What are we going to do now?" Chakotay finally broke the silence, his hand moving up and down her arm.
"I want to talk to her," Sekaya said, her eyes still closed.
"I see," Chakotay said, his voice suddenly tight again. Sekaya sat up and pulled out of his embrace.
"Chakotay, please, let me explain. I promised you to not stand in your way with Kathryn and I still want to hold on that promise. But I have to talk to her about that. I have to hear from her that there are no feelings for me from her side," she rolled her eyes. "I mean at least not the same kind of feelings I have for her. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to move on eventually.
"I want to explain it to her and, please don't be angry at me now, but I need to know if there's at least a little bit on her side. I know you love her and I don't want to stand in your way, but I just need to know. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to move on eventually, I would always stop and ask myself if there hasn't been anything...anything, do you understand?"
Chakotay finally nodded after some moments of thoughts.
"Yes, I understand. I'm not happy about it, but I understand. I'm only asking you not to hurt her."
Sekaya took his face into her hands. "You know I would never do that, brother."
Two days later Sekaya found herself in a small restaurant, a little away from Starfleet Headquarters; nervously awaiting Kathryn's arrival. She knew she had been way too early, but still she couldn't help but to take a look at her chronometer every now and then.
Sighing, she started to play with one of the salt-cellars on the table before her. Engrossed in her new task, she didn't notice as a figure neared her table; only as Kathryn said down across from her, Sekaya startled out of her thoughts.
"Well, there was someone some light years away," Kathryn gently chided her friend, before she turned to the already eagerly waiting waiter to place her order. "One coffee, please, black and without sugar," she ordered in her usual deep voice. Watching the young man go she then turned back to face Sekaya. "So, how are you and where is Chakotay?" Kathryn asked. "I was a little worried that you didn't answer my latest calls. Is everything alright?"
Sekaya needed some seconds to answer that seemingly simple question. She took a good look at he woman before her, noticing how more relaxed she seemed then she had been in the very first days of their friendship. Only too gladly would she like to take the credit for that change; but she knew that, even though she had helped Kathryn to relax and to come down from her workaholic trip, the real reason was that Kathryn was in love. Loved and be loved.
She was not in love with her though. That very realization hit Sekaya like a bucket of cold water; and suddenly she knew that very second, that she'd had lost Kathryn. Maybe not Kathryn the friend, but with Kathryn the lover she had never stood a chance.
Sekaya had come here with the very intention to confess her love to the woman sitting before her, who was eagerly awaiting an answer to her previous question. But, would it really be worth it to say these words to her, when she already knew what Kathryn's answer would be? Would it be worth endangering their new found friendship? Would it? She decided no.
"I'm sorry, I've just been busy for the last few days," Sekaya gave a lame excuse. An excuse Kathryn obviously saw through, if her raised eyebrow was an indication. "Chakotay will be here soon. He had something to take care of," she explained.
"I see," she just said, but Sekaya knew that sooner or later she would have to explain it to her. But not now, now was not the right time. This would have to wait until she would have found closure on her own feelings.
They both sat in silence for some minutes until Kathryn, leaned forward. "Listen, have I done or said something that upset you? If so, please tell me so we can talk about it."
"No, Kathryn, you've done nothing wrong," Sekaya sighed. "It's me, but I'll be better soon. I promise."
Spotting Chakotay out of the corner of her eyes as he entered the room, Sekaya stood and came around the table to Kathryn's side. "I'll leave you two alone now. Have fun and have a drink on me, please."
"But, I thought you would stay?" Kathryn asked, slightly confused at her friend's sudden departure.
"No, I'm sorry. Something has come up," Sekaya shook her head. "Listen, I'll be out of town for some weeks, but I'll call you shortly, okay?" Pressing a short, sweet kiss on Kathryn's cheek, she stood upright again and turned to her brother who'd waited some metres before their table. She walked up the short distance to him and hugged him close.
"I couldn't tell her," she whispered in his ear. "I'll be leaving San Francisco and maybe even Earth for some weeks, but please don't worry, I'll be fine," she paused. "Take good care of her." She felt his cheek brushing hers as he barely nodded and he pulled her close to him one last time, before he released her and took a step back. Sekaya felt tears build in her and with a sigh she turned one last time to Kathryn, winked at her and then turned to leave the restaurant.
"And what was that?" She heard Kathryn ask Chakotay, when she opened the restaurant's doors.
"I don't know," Sekaya's brother lied to her. "Maybe she'll tell you some time."
Sighing, Sekaya stepped out of the restaurant. A light rain was falling and a slight breeze had come up. She pulled a light jacket out of her bag and pulled it on. Zipping it closed, she stepped onto the sidewalk and turned to make her way to the next transporter station just down the street. She passed one of the windows of the restaurant and looking inside she was able to catch another glance of her brother and her friend. Their heads were close and Chakotay was whispering something in Kathryn's ear. Smiling gently, Kathryn pulled back slightly and mouthed something back to him, before she pulled him close to her and their lips met.
Smiling, a soft sigh escaped Sekaya and she turned away from the window. Despite her own misery, her heart danced in joy for her brother and Kathryn. They deserved to be happy and she still had a long life before her, she would find happiness too eventually. And if she wouldn't find here on Earth, then maybe back on Dorvan V or some other planet. Hell, she had the whole universe to find love, hadn't she?