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Summary: Chakotay receives a very interesting message from Kathryn.

 

What You Need To Know

Chakotay walked into his office, stressed from the day's events. Stressed from the week's events, as a matter of fact...a week that he would rather just forget. But somehow, he knew that he never would.

The console at his desk was beeping, indicating that he had received a new message. He was certainly surprised to see who the message was from...especially with the date that was imprinted on it. Not hesitating, though, he played the message.

Captain Kathryn Janeway was staring back at him, seated stoically in her Ready Room, looking slightly uncomfortable. She began to smile as she started to speak.

"Hi Chakotay. I guess if you're seeing this, that means that I have met my demise here in the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant. Before you start asking questions, I just want to say that I programmed this message to be sent to you in the event that my death was recorded into the computer, to be received at your desk a few days later. I've sent this because I have some things that I want to tell you...things that I feel you need to know."

Chakotay started to discontinue the message, not wanting to listen to the words of the woman who had put him back on the right track in his life's journey. The woman who with each passing day, he had found himself growing more in love with. But there was a look in her eyes, a look that he had really never noticed before. A look that provoked him to continue listening. Wanting...and needing... to hear what she had to say.

"I really don't know where to begin...I must admit, this feels really strange. I guess I should just...come right out with it."

She paused for a few moments, searching for the words. Reaching into her desk drawer, she pulled out a picture frame, but did not show it to him. She carefully ran her fingers over the image, giving a slight smile.

"This is a picture that I have kept in my desk...it's a picture of someone that I love very dearly. I like to keep it close to me as I work...sort of a reminder of why I report for duty each morning. A reason for facing each day. Many times, when there is little to do, I'll pull it out and look at him...pretending that he's here with me. This may sound a little insane, but we sometimes talk for long periods of time." She grinned as she looked back down at the picture. "Of course, he has very little to say."

Chakotay found himself grinning along with her. Kathryn always did have a way with words.

"Now I know what you're thinking...but there was a very good reason why I did this." She slowly turned the picture around so that he could see it. Chakotay's heart stopped momentarily and his breath caught in his throat when he saw who the picture was of. He fully expected to see an image of Kathryn's beloved Mark, her ex-fiancé. To his surprise, it was a picture of himself. A picture from New Earth.

"Remember the day I took this? It was shortly after you told me the legend of the Angry Warrior. When you told me about your feelings for me. I know that it hurt you...when I didn't return those feelings...at least not outwardly. But in all honesty, if I had been totally convinced that Tuvok and Voyager would never return, I would have given myself to you that night. There was no one else on Voyager...or in this universe, for that matter, that I would have rather been stranded on that planet with."

Chakotay placed his hand over his heart, feeling it pound heavily in his chest. He felt that it would burst when Kathryn spoke the next words.

"You see, Chakotay...I...I love you. I've loved you for a long time now, since before New Earth. Back there, I had been trying to deny my feelings for you, but when you revealed similar feelings for me, I came very close to telling you. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. Not with the risk of having to return to Voyager...back to rank and uniform.

"All these years, I have thrived on your strength, your wisdom, your trust, and your love. It has been killing me not to be able to tell you this, what I feel for you. I had always hoped that we would make it back to Earth, in the hopes that maybe, if you still wanted me, we would be free to pursue that relationship I've been dreaming of.

"Please don't be angry with me...I know that this is probably terrible of me to be telling you this, now that I'm gone. I'm sorry for that, because I would never want to hurt you. We've been through too much together. But I wanted you to know that your efforts to win my affections were not in vain. In fact, they really weren't necessary. I fell for you from the moment I saw you. And each day that we spent together was just adding fuel to the flames. You've always had my heart. I just thought that you should know."

Now Kathryn was fighting back tears. She covered her mouth with her hand, trying to regain control of her emotions. After a few more silent moments, she returned her gaze to the viewscreen, blinking back the threatening tears.

"Now, as my last order to you and this crew...get back to Earth safely. Reunite everyone with their loved ones. Return this crew back to where they belong." She took a deep breath, still gazing at him. "It's been a fun journey, Chakotay. And it's been a true pleasure having worked with you, getting to know you. I hope that you feel the same way. Take care of yourself. Good-bye."

The Federation insignia replaced her image on his console. Chakotay pressed the button which shut off the viewscreen with shaky hands. Stunned by all that he had just heard.

He rose from his desk, tears spilling down his face. He had pulled his own picture of Kathryn...the companion picture to his photo from New Earth...from his desk. He was holding it close to his chest as he walked over to the viewport in his office.

"Why, Kathryn...why did you wait so long to tell me?" he asked, closing his eyes. He brought his free hand up over his eyes, rubbing them. A thought occurred to him as the laughter began to bubble up. Suddenly he was laughing so hard he could hardly breathe. He almost didn't notice the chime of his door. Still chuckling, he ordered the doors open.

"Chakotay...are you okay?" B'Elanna asked, looking a little worried.

"Actually, I've never been better. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I know what a stressful week this has been for you, and I was wondering if you wanted to join some of us on the holodeck for a little R&R."

"I would love to...but I have a confession to go and make to someone. Maybe later, B'Elanna," he answered patting her arm. "Now, if you'll excuse me," he said as he walked towards the door. When Chakotay reached the corridor, she heard him slap his comm badge.

"Computer...locate Captain Janeway."

"Captain Janeway is in her Ready Room."

BREEEEEP

"Come in."

Chakotay strode into Kathryn's Ready Room, a smug look on his face. Ever since the accident a few days ago, the Doctor has been trying...without success...to get the Captain to take some much needed time off. Naturally, she had refused, insisting that she was fit to return immediately to duty. A little thing like death was not likely to stop Captain Kathryn Janeway. Little did she know what lay before her now, Chakotay thought.

"What did the Doctor tell you?", he scolded, not stopping as he walked in.

"I know, I know. I just wanted to finish up these few reports. But I promise, when..."

Before she could finish her last statement, Chakotay had walked around beside her, pulled her up into his embrace and began to kiss her passionately. She tried to pull away from him, but his strong arms held her tightly against him. It didn't take long for her resolve to break, and Kathryn found herself relaxing in his arms...and fully responding to his kiss. Her arms wrapped around his body, pulling him even closer. She could feel his hands in her hair, and for a few brief moments, Kathryn ignored the fact that this man was her most trusted first officer, and focused on the fact that this was the man she loved...the man she had pushed away for years.

They finally drew apart, totally breathless. Kathryn looked up at him, wondering where that burst of passion came from...in both of their cases. Collecting her thoughts, she decided to find out.

"Now...before I hurl you into the brig, may I ask what brought that on, *Commander*?"

He grinned. "I got your message."

"What...message?" Then it suddenly hit her. "You mean...*that* message?!?" When he began to nod, her face instantly blushed...and probably her whole body.

"You were only supposed to get that in the event of my death! Have you been rummaging through my personal files? Because if you have...."

"No, I would never do something like that. In case you've forgotten, you did officially die a few days ago. Only several hours later did the Doctor discover the antidote and revive you. That message was sent upon the entry of your death into the computer. Apparently you forgot..."

"To retract it in the case of my revival. DAMN! How could I be so careless?" She moved to the front of her desk, obviously upset with herself. Suddenly, Kathryn turned and began to glare at him, her eyes narrowed. Now she appeared to be upset with Chakotay.

"Why did you listen to the whole thing? When I mentioned that I had sent the message on the event of my death, you should have terminated it!"

Chakotay averted his eyes. "I didn't say what I did was right. In fact, I started to shut it down. But when I saw that look in your eyes, I couldn't make myself look away." He stepped in front of her again, taking her hands into his own. "I'm sorry for what I did...but I'm willing to spend the rest of my days here on Voyager, doing whatever I can to make it up to you. Anything..." he whispered, leaning down to brush his lips across hers.

Kathryn gasped as he pulled her tightly to him again, lifting her up onto her desk, still kissing her. There was no point in resisting him now...not that she ever wanted to. Just before Chakotay completely cleared her desk of all the items on top of it, another thought consumed Kathryn's mind.

Why hadn't she told him what he needed to know sooner?

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