Repercussion by Cheshire
Even as I cried in Chakotay’s arms and heard his soothing words, I knew he hated me.
I hated myself.We all make our own hell, Mister Lessing.
Truer words were never spoken even if I did say them myself.
And I was living in mine now.
The hell of my own making.
How did I end up here? How did I end up collapsed on the floor of my ready room, crying my eyes out, held in the arms of my first officer?
Well, that part I remember.
Let’s put it back up where it belongs.
That’s what Chakotay had said. Of course he’d meant more than that. He’d been holding the plaque in his hands, but he’d held my eyes as he’d said it.
I’d fallen off the pedestal he’d put me on so many years before. The pedestal they’d all put me on. Even the damn ship was letting me know it was ashamed of me.
The worst wasn’t that I had fallen off the pedestal.
No, the worst part of it was that I’d jumped.
Head first with my eyes wide open. I’d taken the leap.
And it had felt good.
It’s just the landing that takes a little bit of getting used to.
I’d been free falling and would’ve willingly continued headlong into the abyss.
But then my quarry had gone all noble and redeemed himself.He’s still a Starfleet captain. He may have forgotten that for awhile, but I believe him.
My own words had granted him salvation.
And his resulting actions had ensured that when I hit the bottom, I was utterly alone.
Oh, how I wish I was alone.
But I’m not, and I cling to his embrace. As much as I hate it, I hold onto him with everything I have.
I’d watched as Chakotay had reattached Voyager’s plaque to the bulkhead, and the thought had struck me with bodily force that it would not be so easy for me to be made whole again.
I glanced around the bridge; it was empty of my senior officers at the moment, but I could still see them.
Tuvok’s admonishment. B’Elanna’s incredulity. Harry’s disappointment.
Even if I tried to climb back onto that pedestal, I fear it would crumble beneath my fingers like wet sand.
I escaped to my ready room.
At first I didn’t understand what prompted my hasty departure from the bridge…and then the bile rose in my throat with explosive force.He’ll break…almost killed that man today…poetic justice…behavior is irrational…I’ll deliver the Equinox…that would be murder…calculated risk…damn it, Kathryn!
All the words spoken in haste echoed around me as I clung to the cool porcelain of the sink.
When I was finally able to raise my head, I was faced with myself in the mirror.What’s happened to you, Kathryn?
That’s what it all boils down to, isn’t it?
If there had been anything left in my body, I would’ve started heaving again.
Instead, I stumbled away from my haunted reflection as fast as I could manage.
I didn’t even make it as far as the couch before I collapsed.
I’ve been phasered, choked, shot, beaten, and bat’lethed.
Fireflies compared to the super nova of pain that sent me crashing to the floor.
My soul cried out at the abuse I had committed against it.
Not only had I crossed the line, I’d fought kicking and screaming when my first officer had pulled me back.
I’d been ready to murder. Ready to kill. I’d been willing to damn my ship and everyone on it.
And for what?
A personal vendetta. To seek retribution for my offended principles.
Those same principles that I turned my back on when revenge became more desirable.If we turn our backs on our principles, we stop being human.
And that was the damnable misery of it all.
That’s how he came to find me.
Curled up in a ball on the floor. The mighty captain felled by her own inadequacies.
I could hear his voice and feel his touch as he pulled me into his embrace, and I grasped at him like a lifeline, hoping beyond hope that he would save me from going under.
And I hated myself for it.
How dare I seek comfort? What right did I have to turn to him now?
He’d tried before to save me, and all I had done was take him with me.
At least I tried.The Captain’s on her own.
His own words.
So why is he here now?
“I don’t hate you, Kathryn.”
Those are the first words that I hear.
I hear them, but I don’t understand. How could he not?
“I could never hate you, Kathryn.”
That’s when I realize I’ve been speaking aloud.
I push away from him, rolling to my knees to face him.
I can feel strands of my hair sticking to my tear-soaked face. The pain in my chest pulses, and with every breath I take, I feel bands tighten on my lungs.
He watches me.
I look away, unable to hold his gaze.
My legs start to shake, and I put my hand out to the couch for support.
He moves, and I find myself seated on the cushions with a warm beverage being pushed into my trembling hand.
The warmth from the cup seeps into my hands, and it feels like a promise. A promise that one day I might feel again.
My attention stays centered on the cradled cup, until he speaks.
“You aren’t the first person that’s ever crossed the line, Kathryn.”
I look up. His eyes are shadowed. I know he’s referring to himself. Actions he’s committed.
He was Maquis. He lost his entire family. He fought Cardassians.
I know he’s killed before. Maybe he’s even killed in anger before.
But his reasons were a hell of a lot better than mine.
And I tell him there’s no excuse for the things I did.
He doesn’t disagree with me, and for that I’m thankful.
If he tried right now to justify my actions, I might let him.
To ease my own suffering, I’d allow myself to believe him if he told me I had good reason for the things I did.
But he doesn’t.
Instead, I feel his hand wrap around mine, and I make the effort to look him in the eye.
“You’re only human, Kathryn.”
The pain in my chest lessens. The bands loosen.
It still hurts, but I can breathe.
The pedestal has become dust, swirling around me in the air.
It could become blinding. I could stray again.
But then I feel his presence beside me.
And I know he won’t let me falter.Things didn’t work out exactly as I planned.
They never do.
But I know my way home.
Even if it is a long way from here.