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To Lose Her Now - Part 3

"First Officerís log, stardate 54786.4. Voyager has picked up the remains of the Captainís shuttlecraft. It appears that something caused a warp core breech, although the crew is still investigating. Unfortunately, it seems that Captain Janeway was unable to leave the craft before the breech took place. The Doctor is running some tests on the cellular residue detected...Damn it! Computer, stop recording!"

Chakotay rested his head in his hands as he leaned back in the chair in his office. How could this be happening, he thought. I knew I shouldnít have let her go alone!

His door chimed, startling him for a moment. Trying to refocus, he said, "Come in."

BíElanna stepped in. Chakotay glanced up at her, and quickly turned away. He really didnít want to face the truth, but he knew she would try to make him.

"How are you doing?"

"Iím fine. Iím still trying to determine exactly what happened. Things just donít match up. Iíve been looking at..."

"Chakotay, stop it," she said, reaching down to touch his hand. "Thereís nothing more to find. Youíve got to accept that. Sheís not coming back!"

"Donít you dare say that! You donít know that yet! Nothing has been proven!" he snapped, finally facing her, and raising his hand fast enough as to throw her hand up into the air. He stood up and walked towards the viewport. "There has to be something that Iím missing...some..." he trailed off. BíElanna was right. He was grasping at straws. Kathryn was gone.

The first wave of grief began to overtake him, as tears welled up in his eyes. He refused to break down in front of BíElanna. "Iíve got to keep trying...I canít...I canít...lose her now!" The tears spilled down his face, and he suddenly couldnít talk anymore. BíElanna came around and pulled him into a hug, tears streaming down her own face. They stayed that way for long time, as he cried on her shoulder. It felt good knowing that BíElanna would always be there for him.

Finally, Chakotay collected himself, and left BíElannaís embrace. "Iím sorry" was all he could manage to say.

"For what? Grieving for your wife? You shouldnít be, Chakotay. You needed to let it out," she said, reaching up to wipe her face.

"I canít believe that this is happening. It took me so long to get her to admit that she loved me as much as I loved her...and even longer, it seemed, to get her to marry me! Now, after all that, to lose her?" He felt the tears starting again, but this time he didnít try to hold back. It felt good to cry. He sat down on his couch, and BíElanna sat down with him, holding his hands.

When Chakotayís second bout of crying began to slow, BíElanna asked him a very difficult question. "When are you going to tell Samantha?"

Chakotayís eyes widened. He had said nothing to Samantha about any of this. All she knew was that Mommy was going to be detained a little longer. He knew that he should tell her, but how do you tell a four-year-old that her mother will never come home again?

Shaking his head, Chakotay asked, "Where is she now?"

"I think Neelix is letting her help out in the mess hall. Heís told everyone not to say anything. Would you like me to go get her for you?"

"No, not now. I need some time to think about how Iím going to tell her."

BíElanna nodded. "I understand. If you need anything else..."

"Thanks. I know who to call." He gave her a smile, though it was very hard. After she had left, Chakotay walked back over to his desk. He so wanted to continue his research, but that would be counterproductive. He had a daughter to think of, and he could only hide the truth from her for so long.

Later, in his quarters, Chakotay knelt on the floor, attempting to contact his wife through a vision quest. All attempts to discover what happened to her shuttle had failed. It was simply an accident. Nothing more. But he needed to reach some sort of closure.

The akoonah lay on the floor in front of him, along with the medicine bundle, and especially the long braid of Kathrynís hair. He remembered how difficult it had been to contact his father for the first time, but maybe with some luck, reaching Kathryn would be easier. He was deep in the trance when his door chimed. It caused him to jump on the second chime. He ordered them in, frustrated at his failed attempts.

It was Neelix and Samantha. She ran into his arms, and immediately began asking about Mommy. Chakotay could only look up at Neelix, who dropped his head. This has been hard on him, too. It had been hard for everyone. But Chakotay couldnít think about anyone else right now. His daughter would come first.

"I thought Mommy was coming home today."

"Why donít you go get ready for bed? Iíll be in to tuck you in shortly," he responded, standing up.

Samantha nodded her head, and started for her bedroom. She looked back and asked, "Will Mommy be here when I get back?"

Chakotay closed his eyes, warding off the threatening tears. But he contained his emotions long enough to shake his head and motion for her to go into the bedroom. When she had left, he turned back towards Neelix, who appeared to be brushing back a tear.

"I just wanted to thank you for looking after her today."

"It was nothing, Commander. If you donít mind my asking, how are you doing?"

He patted Neelix on the arm, and offered him a half-smile. "Iím coping. Iíve decided to let Tuvok run the ship for a while. I need to get everything in order. Take care of some unfinished business. But the worst is yet to come," he replied, as he glanced towards Samanthaís bedroom. "I donít know if I can do this."

Neelix couldnít respond. He just nodded, and bid Chakotay good night. Chakotay let out a deep breath, and walked into Samanthaís bedroom.

She was sitting on her bed, flipping through one of the many books her mother had replicated for her. Kathryn had believed in reading the real books as opposed to the text written on the PADDs, and so had passed that belief on to their daughter. Chakotay allowed a smirk to cross his face. He realized that a part of Kathryn would always be here. It would remain here in Samantha.

Samantha looked up, and picking up her book, asked "Will you read this to me?"

He nodded, and sat down on the edge of the bed. She snuggled up next to him, and he began to read. When he had finished, he closed the book and sighed. Samantha looked up at him.

"Whatís wrong, Daddy?"

The dreaded moment was here. "I need to talk to you, Samantha. Do you remember a few months ago when Lt. Rafe had to leave for a long journey?"

"Yes. Mommy said that she was going to visit her ancestors"

He felt the tears again. This was 100 times harder than he imagined.

ĎWell, sweetie, Mommy has gone on one of those journeys."

"Is she going to find Lt. Rafe?"

"No, sheís gone to find her own ancestors. She..." he trailed off.

Samantha looked confused. "When will she be back?"

"I...I donít know. Itís a very long journey."

"But...she didnít even say good-bye!"

"She had to leave in such a hurry, and she didnít have time to say good-bye to anyone." Chakotay began to choke up, and did not want to break down in front of his daughter. He decided to wait and tell her the truth later. It was too difficult for him right now. He knew that he was avoiding it, but he had to do this when it felt right for him.

"Why donít you get some sleep? Weíll talk about this in the morning." He kissed her forehead, noticing the confused expression on her face. She looked so much like her mother. Chakotay tucked her in and hummed her lullaby until she fell asleep. He turned out her light and left the bedroom, wondering how he could better explain things tomorrow.

When her door shut behind him, Chakotay walked back into the living area, and immediately sank to his knees, tears pouring out.

"Oh God, I donít think I can do this! Why did this have to happen? Why? Why..." he cried, covering his face with his hands.

"Daddy?"

Chakotay turned around, and Samantha was standing there, holding her teddy bear. He quickly wiped the dampness from his face. This was not what he wanted his daughter to see. He was supposed to remain strong for her. He moved up onto the couch, trying to avoid her gaze.

"I thought you were asleep."

Samantha stared back at him, the confused look having been replaced by one of sadness.

"Mommyís not coming back ever, is she?"

She knew. There would be no need to come up with some long explanation for her motherís absence. Chakotay shook his head, and held out his arms. Samantha ran into them, crying. He pulled her into his lap, letting her cry herself back to sleep. He cried along with her, eventually falling asleep himself.

[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 ]
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