A Thousand Words
Voyager's First Officer wandered down the hall toward Astrometric, he planned on trying to talk to Seven. They had a date the other night if that was what you wanted to call it. He wanted to suggest a possible date on his terms to see if this could be worth the work.
He entered the room to find no Seven but the Doctor was there.
"Doctor, have you decided to change jobs," Chakotay asked with a chuckle as he came to stand beside the medical officer at the station that was directly in front of the large screen.
"No, I'm trying to organize my images for my next exhibit on the holodeck and Seven suggested I use the screen in here." He explained as he pressed some buttons and images started to scroll across the screen.
Tom dressed as his favourite holo character Captain Proton with a laughing Harry Kim dressed in his costume. Naomi talking to Icheb and the Captain, her face animated as she explained her idea to two of her favourite people.
The images moved by, some making Chakotay smile, some had him in awe with the beauty of the images and then the next one stopped his heart. And before he knew it the image was replaced with another.
"Doctor please go back three images," and as the images rolled back Chakotay walked up the ramp to stand in front of the screen. "When did you take this?" The pain evident in his voice as he looked at the face.
"The other day when we had a gathering on the holodeck in Sandrine’s. Mr. Paris suggested it after Neelix left, just a little celebration to toast him. We were all having a good time and I was taking images. I caught this moment, I guess Neelix leaving hurt her more than she let on."
Chakotay knew that Neelix leaving Voyager had upset her but as he looked at the pain filled face of Kathryn Janeway, he was positive that was not what had created this shattered face. Kathryn was many things, strong, stubborn, determined, loyal and beautiful but this devastated by someone leaving the ship. No even when Kes left she was heartbroken but the look on her face was unbearable to see.
The pain in her eyes were of an unbearable heart break and the single tear sliding down her cheek was too much to look at.
What had caused her so much pain.
"Doctor, do you have any pictures of who was sitting near her," the large man questioned.
"I'm not sure," the EMH said as he moved the pictures forward and then stopped and put a group of photos on the screen. Kathryn could be seen sitting on the edge of a group, she looked like she was waiting for someone or hoping someone was coming. Chakotay looked through the group of shots and could see the body language change from relaxed to tense to pain.
He looked at group and knew who he had to talk to. He moved down the ramp and stopped by the EMH.
"Can you download those images onto this padd," he asked as he passed a padd laying on the station. "And Doctor, please do not use that image in your slide show," he requested. "The Captain would be embarrassed to be caught in such a vulnerable moment and would not want it shown to everyone."
For a moment it looked like he was going to argue but then he nodded his head. "You are right Commander." The hologram answered as he passed the First Officer the padd.
"Thank you," he said as walked from the room. "Computer what is the location of Lieutenant Torres?"
"Lieutenant Torres is located in Engineering..." the computer replied.
"Thank you, end request," Chakotay cut-off the computer and headed for his destination.
Entering Engineering, he scanned the room and finally found his target.
"Commander, what can I do for you?" B'Elanna questioned but Chakotay felt a little chill from his friend.
"Can we speak in your office," he requested.
She turned without comment and moved to the room she rarely used.
"What do you need," she asked as soon as the door closed.
"B'Elanna, are you mad at me about something," Chakotay asked.
"Is that why you wanted to talk to me?"
"No, I wanted to ask what you were talking about the other night," he questioned as he showed the image of the group.
"We talked about a lot of things, Neelix, how we became a family," B'Elanna said a little annoyed. "But if you had been there instead of," she started then stopped.
"Instead of what," he demanded.
"Never mind, why did you want to know what we were talking about," B'Elanna tried to divert her friend from his questions.
"Because I want to know what caused this," Chakotay ground out as the image changed to the image of her Captain looking totally shattered. "So, I ask again, what else were you talking about."
"Someone mentioned you were on a date with Seven," B'Elanna answered quietly.
Chakotay's head bowed, "Why would it matter to any one, especially Kathryn."
"She loves you, that's why," B’Elanna said bluntly.
"What," Voyager's First Officer said a little confused.
"Come on Chakotay, the woman has a special smile just for you, she is always touching you, she forgives you any of your stupid mistakes," the engineer stated.
Chakotay sat stunned, "I thought she just wanted me as a friend, why wouldn't she say something."
"Because our Captain was brought up Starfleet, trained Starfleet," a voice said from behind and the pair turned to find Tom Paris standing there.
"And something tells me she couldn't stand the thought of losing another man she loved," B'Elanna commented and then laughed at their shocked faces. "Oh, come on you can't tell me that you didn't hack into her file when you came on board. I looked a week after we joined Voyager. She lost two men, one to death and the other to distance. She probably thought she wouldn't be able to deal with the loss but this picture says it all. She thinks she has lost you and it has devastated her."
"The Captain would never suggest a relationship because she is your superior," Tom explained. "So why Seven?"
"She asked, I was lonely and," he wandered off.
"And flattered," Tom added.
Chakotay bowed his head do hide his embarrassment. "Yes, but it's way too much work, I like a little spontaneity occasionally and Seven needs structure to a date. God what have I done."
"How many dates have you gone on," B'Elanna asked.
"Two," he answered quietly.
"Do you see a future with her," Tom questioned.
"I don't know but I don't know that I see a future with Kathryn if she won't let me in," he said sounding defeated.
"Why don't you try your charm on her and show her what could be," B'Elanna suggested.
"Maybe, I think I need to go do some thinking," the First Officer said as he wandered out of the office.
"Come," was called as the door opened to show Voyager's First Officer standing with a tray.
"Commander, what can I do for you," the Captain asked as she walked out of her bedroom.
"Well Kathryn if I know you, you haven't eaten today so I have brought some food to share with you," he said as he gave her the full dimples. "And if you eat your dinner, I have dessert."
"Resorting to bribery Chakotay," Kathryn said as a smile spread across her face, his favourite smile that she reserved for him. The smile didn't quite reach her eyes but he would get it back there.
"Always if it gets you to eat," he teased.
"Come on then," she chuckled as she moved to her dining table.
They sat down to the meal he had brought, Chell's stew with fresh bread. The conversation was limited and one sided with Chakotay doing most of the talking.
"Kathryn, are you okay," he asked.
"Chakotay shouldn't you be sharing this food with Seven?" Kathryn asked quietly.
"No, Chell told me to share this with someone who would appreciate it. Kathryn it was only two dates, exhausting dates," he added as Kathryn raised an eyebrow.
"Kathryn, she has no idea how to enjoy herself. Everything has to be done by her idea of dating. I want to enjoy the company of the person I'm with, maybe enjoy just sitting in silence on the couch while we each read a book. Or talk about childhood memories like climbing a favourite tree."
Kathryn looked down at the table, "Maybe you will find her yet."
Chakotay's hand slid across the dining table taking her hand in his. "I think I have found her; I just need to convince her that we can be worth the chance."
"Chakotay," Kathryn tried as she attempted to pull her hand away but he wouldn't let her go.
"Kathryn, I love you and I think you love me; I know we lead a dangerous life but I want to experience the joy of being with you." He finished as he watched her head slowly come up and her tear-filled eyes looked at him.
"I don't have luck with relationships," she whispered.
"I'm willing to explore the possibilities with you," he encouraged as he moved around the table to kneel beside her. Gently he brushed the tears away/ "There are no certainties in life but I know we will have missed a wonderous opportunity if we don't try."
"Why would you want to saddle yourself with an old stubborn woman," she asked.
"Kathryn, if you remember I am older then you," he pointed out.
"I noticed you didn't argue the stubborn part," Kathryn teased.
"You don't want this relationship to start with a lie as we both know that you are stubborn and that is one of things, I love about you," he chuckled at the pout he was given.
Kathryn studied his face, a face that she studied as often as she could over the years. Looking to his warm brown eyes she finally smiled a smile that reached her eyes this time. "I love you too, so very much."
"Okay so we seem to be of the same mind, shall we explore the options further," Chakotay asked as the dimples appeared.
"Yes lets," she agreed with a laugh.
"Between this day and the day, I got Voyager home, I lost twenty-two crew members. And then of course there's Tuvok." The Admiral informed the Captain.
"What about him," the Captain demanded forgetting her previous comment about the Temporal Prime Directive.
"He has a degenerative neurological condition that he hasn't mentioned and needs to get to the Alpha quadrant so he doesn't lose his mind. But the biggest blow will come in three years. Chakotay will be injured on an away mission, he will make it back to the ship."
"And," Kathryn demanded.
"And he will die in his wife's arms," the Admiral said barely above a whisper.
"Wife," Kathryn asked as her voice matched the Admiral's whisper.
"He can be very convincing and let me tell you I may have only had 3 years with him but he was right, they were wonderous," the older woman said with a smile that lit the room.
The Captain watched her older self for a few minutes and then hit her combadge.
"Commander Chakotay, please assemble the senior staff for a meeting," the Captain ordered.
"Aye, Captain." He responded before the channel closed.
"Let's get them home,' the younger woman said as she rose to be followed by her older version out of the room and into a wonderous future.