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Episode addition to 'One Small Step'. Thank you, Saffron!
"You know, I really should put you on report."
He blinked up at her, still lying on the biobed.
"You disobeyed a direct order."
He closed his eyes slowly, then opened them again.
"You put the mission at risk. You put lives at risk."
These were all things he knew himself. He knew that. She knew that, but was insisting on forcing the subject.
He spoke, but not to her. "Chakotay to Paris."
Chakotay studied her as she studied him. "Is that holoprogramme ready?"
"Just finished it ten minutes ago, Commander. It's filed under 'Kelly Alpha'. I think you'll like it."
He smiled. "Acknowledged. Thanks, Tom." He saw her slight surprise at the use of his first name. "Chakotay out."
Moving, he pulled himself up until he was sitting with his legs hanging over the edge of the biobed.
She took a small step towards him. "You shouldn't be moving..."
He waved her off. "The Doctor's fixed everything. It's just...residual." He continued before she could argue further, meeting her gaze. "I want you to see something."
After initiating the programme, they stepped into the holodeck.
Chakotay found himself smiling. Tom had outdone himself this time. He knew, realistically, that he hadn't simply done this from memory; that he had incorporated all the sensor readings to make it as detailed as possible. Still...
He moved his head to look at her. Her expression was full of wonder; the joy of discovery. He hadn't realised how much he'd missed that. So often now, when they came across something new, it was 'old hat'. Like something they'd experienced a thousand times before. He'd missed the way her eyes would light up at some fantastic piece of scientific information.
Eyes wide, her head tipped back, mouth agap...she looked every inch Kathryn Janeway and nothing at all like Captain Janeway.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
Her head jerked at his words and she looked at him, blinking heavily. "Yes," She said, eventually. "But that doesn't excuse-"
"I know," He cut her off softly. "And I'm not trying to excuse myself. I'm just trying to...explain. Make you understand why I had to do it." Chakotay moved his gaze back to the ellipse they were standing inside. It was peaceful, here. Tranquil. "Someone died here, Kathryn. At least one person that we know of. There could be dozens. Hundreds. More. People from races so far away that we'll never encounter them. People from races so familiar we'll never forget them. I couldn't just leave him..."
Kathryn studied him for a few moments, before slowly turning away, her hands linked behind her rear. "I understand that Mr Kelly was a childhood hero of yours."
A small grin appeared on his face. "I was always fascinated by the history of space travel."
He saw her nod. "I also understand that you're fond of palaeontology."
"Yes," He told her, uncertain of where this was going but knowing she must have talked with Seven.
She kept her back to him when she spoke again. "I didn't know that. You kept it quite the secret."
"Not on purpose," Chakotay responded, frowning. "It just...never came up."
Nodding enthusiastically, she agreed and when she turned to face him she was smiling, brightly. "If you really do love it that much...if some opportunity arose where you could study the anomaly or something like it full-time..."
Shocked, he stared at her. "No."
Frowning, she turned her head slightly to one side. "But you said to Seven yourself that you think Voyager could manage without you-"
"Do you believe that?"
She paused. "This isn't about what I believe, or want."
That was just it. It was. It always was. Chakotay shook his head, fighting off the growing dizziness. "No, no. I think that Tuvok would do a more than adequate job in my place if I left the ship, but I could never leave-" Damn. There had been little point in even stopping. Closing his eyes tightly, he rubbed over his eyelids with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. The movement completed, he lowered the hand and opened his eyes.
Kathryn was looking at him. She took a small step towards him, the orange glow from the ellipse seemingly absorbed by her skin. "You really should get back to sickbay. I'll stay here for a while and...enjoy the view." She smiled as a piece of metal went merrily coasting by.
"Okay," He answered, resigned. "Okay." Turning away, grateful, he called for the exit.
Pausing, he turned back and watched her watching the Ares Four. "Yes?"
Her voice was quiet. "You shouldn't be afraid to follow your dreams. One of us has to."
His head was pounding. His legs felt like lead weights. His mind was a confusing jumble of bathtubs and scorpions.
He left, hoping like hell that when his mind was clear, his injuries fully healed, and his memories properly categorised...that he hadn't imagined the entire thing.
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