Disclaimer: Is this really necessary? I just borrowed them for a little while! I'll bring them back, Paramount...I PROMISE!
Summary: She wants him...he wants her...so what is stopping them?
"Kathryn, I'm getting married."
The words cut through her like a knife. After all they had been through together. After all their bitter disagreements. They had finally completed their united mission of returning home. And now this.
Why did it hurt so much?
Kathryn Janeway, former captain of the Starship Voyager, sat on the edge of her bed, tears streaming down her face. She had replayed the message from her former first officer, Chakotay, at least ten times, still not believing what she was hearing.
Voyager and her crew had been home for almost 4 months now, after having spent nine years in the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant. Nine years of adventure and exploration. Nine years of upholding Starfleet rules and regulations in order to maintain a tight ship. Nine years, Kathryn realized, of pushing away a love that she could no longer deny. A love that now, she would never know.
As they grew closer to home, Kathryn had secretly hoped that Chakotay would still care for her enough to still want to pursue the relationship he once desired. Once they reached Earth, Starfleet protocols would no longer be an issue. But things had changed between them. Chakotay did not seem to care anymore. In fact, Kathryn hadn't seen him but once since the huge Welcome Home gala, held in their honor.
Smiles surrounded her. Everyone was so happy. Full pardons had been rewarded to the former Maquis crew for outstanding service while on board Voyager. Tom's prison sentence had been dropped for his exemplary record as Voyager's pilot. It was almost like a dream. A dream that was coming true.
Kathryn spotted him across the room, chatting with some crewmen, flashing that infamous grin every so often. She smiled. It was good to see that side of Chakotay again. So much tension had passed between them over the past years. So many times she had broken his trust and faith in her. She recalled that Chakotay had not smiled in her presence for a very long time. But, for some reason, he had always managed to forgive her for her actions. Why, she would never understand. But one thing remained quite clear. His undying devotion was the main reason she found herself falling in love with him.
Kathryn began to walk in his direction. She knew she didn't deserve him. She knew that he might even reject her. But he needed to know, and now was the time to tell him how she felt. Protocol was gone. It was time to give in to her innermost feelings.
"Kathryn, is that really you?"
Kathryn spun around. It was Mark. Where did he come from?
"Mark! I...I didn't..." she stammered, still in shock.
"Didn't expect to see me here? Well, I couldn't just ignore the fact that you finally decided to come back to me!" he answered, pulling her into an embrace.
Chakotay was having the time of his life. Happy to finally be back in familiar territory, but more than that, happy to be a free man. He was definitely in the mood for celebrating. And he didn't intend to do it alone.
He could see Kathryn across the room, occasionally stealing a glance in his direction. The smile on his face grew larger. His suspicions had been right, so far. Kathryn cared more for him than she let on. And he was about to remedy that. When he saw her coming in his direction, Chakotay's heart began to flutter, as his mind swam with the many ways he had considered telling Kathryn how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
Suddenly, his heart sank. Another man had grabbed her attention. That man from the picture. The man who had kept them apart for so long. Kathryn's ex-fiance, Mark. Chakotay's smile faded as they embraced for what seemed like an eternity.
Her interest was gone. She was back where she wanted to be. And perhaps, Chakotay thought, it was for the best. What did he have to offer her? He excused himself from his present company and made his way for the nearest exit. It was time to move on...without Kathryn.
Kathryn finally managed to release herself from Mark's arms. She still could not believe that he was standing here before her. It made everything seem more realistic. She was delighted to see Mark. Ecstatic, even. But what she had to tell Chakotay was even more exciting. And nothing would deter her from telling him...not when she was this close.
"Mark, I would love to catch up on old times, but there is someone I need to speak to before they leave. Would you excuse me, please?"
Mark was as surprised as Kathryn to hear those words. Her turning him away. But a sly smile played across his lips. He understood. Kathryn knew that he would. He knew her all too well.
"Sure, Kath. I'll wait by the bar."
Kathryn offered him a smile of her own. Then she quickly turned around to seek out the man who could set everything right in her life. But her search was fruitless. Chakotay was gone. Out of the room. Probably out of her life... forever.
Tears of regret began to sting her eyes as Kathryn turned back around to find Mark again. She began to feel that maybe he really did not care anymore. She secretly wished Chakotay well. The man she truly loved. The man she had missed seeing leave by mere seconds. The man with tears of regret streaming down his own face.