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This isn't very long, but I don't think it needs to be.
Can I have some feedback?
One word. An admission. A request for understanding. It amazed him how one word could have such a radically different meaning over such a short period of time.
The first time it had been used, he had been trying to communicate to her his desperation. He didn't believe the Borg could be trusted - dammit, he had almost been one of them - but she couldn't see his point. She refused to see his point.
Their trust had been broken, something he hadn't thought would ever be possible. The worst part was that he'd played a major part in severing their relationship. He knew he'd had good reason to - he couldn't ignore his ethics - but the very idea of helping to create the metaphorical chasm between them was something he could barely tolerate.
He'd gone to see her while she was injured and told her all the things he knew he could never admit while she was conscious - his fears about his decision. His bigger fears about how it would affect their relationship. It was the only decision that his conscience would allow him to make, but that didn't make him feel the slightest bit better. It seemed that whatever he did he would still have to suffer.
Later, when she had woken, they had argued again. He wanted to tell her how relieved he was that she was all right, that he'd been worried. He didn't even get that far before they started arguing. Chakotay knew why they were both taking it so personally - it may have been unprofessional, but the cause was their feelings for each other. She'd known for a long time of his feelings for her - even before New Earth - and it appalled him when she tried to use his feelings to her own advantage.
He didn't appreciate being manipulated. He'd had enough of that from others - Tuvok, Seska, Riley. All of them had betrayed him in some way. Tuvok he had eventually come to forgive, but the others…
How could Kathryn have become one of them? How could she have used his emotions for her own means? He knew that she regretted her decision, but the fact that she had actually thought she could use him that way shocked him.
Yet he could understand her decision, even if he didn't agree with it. She desperately wanted to get her crew home and she let it take precedence over everything - including her personal life, which was the main reason they had never become involved.
It was ironic that it had actually been a Borg who had helped shorten the distance between them. Their relationship would never be the same, certainly, but anything would be better than the battle they had been fighting.
Seven of Nine had been right about individuality - opposing ideas caused conflicts, something that never happened among the Borg. He wanted to stay an individual, but he knew how appealing the idea of the Collective was. No chaos, no indecision. Just one target, one goal - to assimilate.
The second time the word had been used, it was barely above a whisper, but it contained just as much as the first time it had been used. Another admission, this one from her. An agreement that they needed to work together in order to survive. They certainly wouldn't have survived the encounter with the Borg working alone.
It wasn't just the recent developments though. They'd come to depend on each other greatly since being trapped out here. He knew how much she valued her self-sufficiency and she was not happy having to rely on someone else, but she had to. He would not allow her to completely cut herself off from everyone.
If they hadn't worked together - with each other - he seriously doubted they would have made it this far. There had been so many enemies intent on their destruction, so many missed opportunities to get home. Yet they had kept going. If it wasn't the support they gave each other they would have given up a long time ago. But they knew they had a higher purpose - to give the crew hope. It had taken Kathryn a while to accept that she needed someone, but eventually she had conceded.
And all that had been threatened by a word. The word which helped end one relationship and start a different one. A word he would never forget.