by Suz suzvoy@yahoo.com

Disclaimer - everyone belongs to Paramount.

This is somewhat darker than what I usually write, so I'd love some feedback.


She decided to walk from the shuttle dock. Sometimes she felt that the human race had forgotten how to take pleasure in simple things. Appreciating the view as you walked from one place to another. Savouring the joy in making something with your own hands. She had learned that lesson well from another human being.

The course she was taking she knew by heart. She knew exactly what roads and avenues to walk down. When she had found the address she had looked over maps to memorise the route she would take.

Reaching her destination, she hesitated. The house was beautiful but traditional, just as she knew it would be. Ambiguity took hold for a moment, and she quickly opened her carry case to pull out the padd with the details on it. She didn't really need to check. Just as she knew the route to his house, she knew the exact address. So much time had been spent looking at the padd after he had been found. So much time wondering if she should go and see him, all the while knowing she had no choice.

Summoning some of that old Janeway stubbornness she grasped the padd in her right hand and walked confidently up the stairs that led to the entrance to his house. Her left hand moved until she had pressed the button requesting entry.

Kathryn almost sighed after she had done it. It was too late to back out now. No going back...she risked a quick glance behind. She could still run for it if she wanted to...no. She was going to do this.

Turning her face back toward the house she mentally counted the seconds that passed as she waited. Ten. Fifteen. Maybe he wasn't in.

"Just a minute. I'll be right there!"

Her heart, which until now she had been doing a pretty good job of controlling, thudded in her chest at the sound of his voice. It had been so long, so very long since she had heard that voice in anything but angry tones.

From the brief sentence she heard, she could almost believe that this was *her* Chakotay. The Chakotay she hadn't destroyed by her own duplicity. But then he wouldn't expect it to be her. He wouldn't expect it to be anyone from Voyager except perhaps for a member of his original Maquis crew.

At the thought of the Maquis, she wondered how B'Elanna and Tom were doing. She hadn't seen either of them for a long time either. In fact, the only members of her crew she'd seen in the past eight years were Tuvok and Harry. Faithful to the end, both of them. They forgave her. Others had not been so lenient.

The least lenient of them was in this house now, having no idea who waited outside the door for him. She shivered and tried to hide her fears before he could see them.

She glanced down at the padd again when the door opened. Her head jerked up and the smile he had planned to greet his visitor with vanished when he saw who it was. He must have been holding something because it clunked to the floor, but it went unnoticed. For a few wonderful seconds her was her Chakotay again. His eyes were alive with the simple joy of seeing her, the happiness in his gaze blocking out everything else she needed to know.

But then it changed.

She could tell the very instant when he remembered. His brown eyes seemed to grow darker, and his stance changed. Now he was wary. And with good reason.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded, not even bothering to say hello.

"It's been eight years." she responded quietly but firmly.

"That doesn't mean a damn thing." he argued as he leant down to pick up what he had dropped. She almost gasped when she saw what it was. A container of sand.

"You've started sand-painting again..." she whispered, unbelievably happy. It said a great deal about how much he had come to reconcile himself with the past. He was still angry at her, certainly, but he was beginning to believe again in himself.

He appeared almost embarrassed and tried to hide it behind his anger. "That's none of your business."

She cocked her head to one side, trying desperately to hide her disappointment. She knew it wouldn't be easy but he wasn't giving her anything to work with. "I suppose not. Can I come in?"

Chakotay's mouth hung open at her audacity, yet another thing she couldn't blame him for. His expression quickly changed to one of sarcastic amusement. "Oh of course you may Admiral. Far be it from me to deny the hero of the Federation anything." He backed into his house, arms stretched out grandly. "I'm afraid it might not be quite what you're used to but it serves my humble needs."

Her own anger flared as she stepped in. "Chakotay..."

His amusement receded. "Don't call me that." he snapped. "You have no right to use my name."

"Alright then Commander..."

"Don't call me that either. I gave up on Starfleet over seven years ago."

She fought the urge to say "Again?" Instead she chuckled harshly and sat down without invitation. "You weren't the only one. Do you know they actually expected me to have done it?"

"What you did was just as bad." Chakotay growled.

She threw her bag and padd on the chair and stood up. "I despise them for what they made me become. I left Starfleet a month after you did."

If he was surprised he didn't show it, but then he had always been good at hiding emotions when he wanted to...

"You think that means anything to me? The damage had already been done. I knew that you'd betrayed us, that you'd betrayed me."

Kathryn took a step forward. "So this is about you and not your crew? That's awfully selfish of you Chakotay."

"Oh cut out the bullshit Kathryn. You know that in the end it was never about them - it was about us." He moved forward until they were toe-to-toe. He towered over her. "Tell me something Kathryn. I have to admit I've wondered about it. When we were having sex and you moaned and gasped and cried my name...was it just a show? Were you doing it simply because you were ordered to? Or was I really just that good a fuck?"

What was left of Kathryn's control shattered. Her right hand whipped up to strike his face but he got there first, grabbing hold of her wrist. "Reflexes getting slow in your old age Kathryn?"

She hissed at him through gritted teeth. "How dare you..."

He finally showed an emotion other than anger - disbelief. "How dare I? How dare *I*? Gods Kathryn, after everything you did to me, after everything that you put me through...you deny me the right to speak to you like this? It's better than you deserve." He let go of her arm quickly and she stumbled. Pushing her back in the chair he crouched down until they were eye to eye.

"It must have been quite a challenge for you Kathryn, letting me believe that you were reluctant to get involved with me. It really was the plan of a master. Leading me on for five years, continually telling me that it was impossible for us to have a relationship but then keep giving me little signs so I could keep my hope alive. And then the day came. The day when you finally succumbed to my 'charms' and I, like an idiot, was only too willing to forget all the times you had shoved me away. Why would I think you were after something when you had pushed me away for so long? What was it that Federation Ambassador said the plan was - 'to gain Chakotay's trust by any means necessary'? I have to give you credit Kathryn. You're one hell of a good actress."

She wasn't just going to sit there and take this. Not Kathryn Janeway. It wasn't in her nature. She stood up sharply, now having her turn at surprising him. Knocked off balance, he landed on his butt. She didn't even give him the time to recover before she leant over and was talking to him.

"Did you ever stop to think about the real reason why I didn't want to get involved with you? Oh sure, there was protocol, but the main reason was the fact that if we did get back to Earth in our life time that you'd probably find out why they'd sent me after you. How would it look if we became lovers and then you discovered the real reason why Starfleet sent me after you? I couldn't do that."

His eyes connected to hers. "At first." he added sharply.

She stood again and walked away from him. He winced as he pulled himself back up.

There were a few moments of silence as she tried to find what to say to reach him. She whirled around to face him. "Was it really that hard to believe that I found you so attractive, so caring that I couldn't help myself? I don't know when I fell in love with you but I remember the very moment when I realised I was. When I got the letter from Mark." She paused as she remembered. "I was surprised at first, some small part of me had thought that he would wait. But then I realised...it really didn't matter at all." She moved forward again. "I didn't care if he waited for me or not because I wasn't waiting for him anymore. And the reason? I was in love with you. Even after that I fought my feelings for you, but that was the turning point. I didn't want to agree with it, I didn't want to betray my ethics. But after the letter everything snowballed." She met his angry gaze with her harsh one.

"Tell me Chakotay, why are you still angry about this after almost a decade? Why haven't you moved on?"

He flinched and stepped away. "Why did you come here Kathryn?"

She clucked her tongue on the roof of her mouth. "Why are you avoiding the question?"

"Answer me dammit!"

Kathryn pursed her lips. "Very well. I came him to ask just that - why haven't you moved on? I suspected you'd still be wallowing in self-blame and it seems that I'm right. It took me a hell of a long time to track you down Chakotay. You've got yourself hidden out here, no longer staying in touch with anyone who might know me. Do you know how long it's been since I've seen any of your original Maquis crew? You're the only one I've seen since I left Starfleet."

He laughed. "You can't honestly say you blame them."

"No, I can't. After they heard about what Starfleet wanted me to do, I can't blame them." She walked towards him and looked into his eyes. "Any of them. But dammit, Chakotay, I know they've put it behind them. I may not have talked to them, but I know where B'Elanna and Tom are. I know where Ayala is. I know where they all are. They've all built lives for themselves, instead of sulking in their houses. No doubt most or all of them are still angry at me, but they haven't let it stop their lives. And what about you Chakotay? What have you done over the past eight years? Moved into this house, spending your days and nights within the same five mile area." She grabbed onto his forearms in desperation and he found he couldn't pull away. "That isn't you Chakotay! That's not the person you are. You should be out there somewhere, exploring. Exploring the universe, doing something with your life, not just sitting in your house moaning about the past. Why haven't you moved on?!"

Finally he wrenched his arms away from her grasp. "Because it was you!" His hands reached up and grabbed either side of her face, his dark eyes flashing as they met hers. She gasped. "Gods Kathryn...do you have any idea...any concept of what you did to me? Of what your betrayal did to me?"

"I didn't betray you." she answered, trying to pull out of his hands.

"I loved you Kathryn." he whispered intensely. "I loved you and you betrayed me."

"I didn't!" she exclaimed again, using her own hands to try and pull his away from her face. "Let go! You're hurting me."

He instantly let go and she turned away from him, her hands reaching up to gently touch her face. He turned her around quickly and despite her protests pulled her hands away from her face. He inhaled sharply as he saw the faint bruises appearing on her cheeks. He raised his right hand up shakily and brushed the fingertips gently over her face. "I'm sorry." he whispered. "I never meant to..."

And then he remembered again. He remembered who he was and who she was. Releasing her, he turned until his back was to her. His fists clenched. "I think you should leave."

Kathryn's mouth opened as realisation dawned. "That's why you haven't moved on," she murmured, her voice growing louder with every word "you still care about me."

"I hate you." he snapped.

Now it was her turn to pull him around. "Yes, but you're still in love with me!"

He didn't deny it. "That's one hell of an arrogant thing to say Kathryn."

"Perhaps," she admitted "but it happens to be true. Move on Chakotay. Don't let your hatred control you anymore. Start your own life. Get a dog. Get a job. Start *living* again."

He lowered his eyes and shook his head. "I can't. It's not that easy."

Making a decision, Kathryn forced his chin up with her hand until they were looking at each other. "Fine. You need to get your anger, your frustration out of your system? Use me."

Five seconds later she found herself pushed against the closest wall, his mouth invading hers, his hands cupping her butt. She gloried in his anger, determined to give him this. She tipped her head to one side and returned his kiss full force. Somehow she managed to wrap her legs around him, the strength of his hold keeping her pressed against the wall. She winced at the uncomfortable position. I'm getting too old of this flashed through her mind before his left hand caressed her breast through her top and all clarity fled.

She found herself moaning and pulled him closer, his erection obviously present even through the several layers of clothes. They broke the kiss only to resume it again, their breathing ragged.

His right hand snaked down to her skirt and tugged it up. His hand then crept under the hemline and brushed over her thighs. She shuddered as his fingers pressed at her through her underwear. She broke the kiss again, gasping loudly. He pressed at her again, his fingers teasing her and her head moved back as she arched, thunking loudly on the wall.

Chakotay's questing fingers moved up until he found the edge of her panties, before grasping them and ripping them off, his passion fuelled by his years of anger.

Kathryn eagerly moved her own hands down to his trousers and freed him from the clothing. A few moments later he was inside her and began moving slowly, in brutal movements. The kissed again, their lips and tongues meeting. He moved again and she released his mouth. This was wrong. It shouldn't be like this. It shouldn't ever have to be like this. Somehow he knew as well, because they buried their heads in each others shoulders. Their bodies jerked slightly as he thrust inside her. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..." she whispered into his shoulder, her tears rolling down his back.

He didn't say anything, but he buried his face deeply into her neck and sobbed each time he thrusted. Finally he emptied himself into her, clutching her close as he called out her name.

They readjusted their position slightly so he slipped out of her, but they stayed there for a long time. Heads on each others shoulders, crying softly for everything that had been given up. Everything that had been lost.


In 2377, the USS Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant courtesy of the Caretaker's mate, Syspiria. Through the trial of Kathryn Janeway (who was exonerated almost immediately) for several acts of breaking the Prime Directive, the true nature of her mission to the Delta Quadrant was revealed. Starfleet knew of the Caretaker before they sent the Voyager, after discovering a Bolian starship that had been thrown to the Delta Quadrant 80 years earlier and had made its way home. They had apparently failed to negotiate with the Caretaker and had instead set a course for home.

Federation psychologists were fascinated by the idea. They had studied the concept of deep space isolation, but nothing this long term without the aid of cryogenic freezing. They put together a proposal which they presented to Starfleet Command. There were a few objections, but they were negligible. Most were concerned about the idea of sending their most advanced ship that far from home, but the recent completion of the Enterprise-E assuaged any major doubts.

And to add some spark to the fire, it was agreed that the Maquis should be involved. After all, they needed a viable reason to send Voyager off to the badlands, and it would make things more interesting. It would provide valuable data.

So in accordance with the Cardassian/Federation Alliance of 2370 the Federation agreed to help the Cardassian's with their 'Maquis' problem. But they also asked for another little favour...

A Maquis ship of around thirty crew members would be required, and they were delighted when Gul Evek suggested Chakotay's vessel. An ex-Starfleet commander. Adding even more wood to the fire. Gul Evek agreed to chase the Maquis toward the badlands, but didn't quite account for the fact that he could be killed himself.

The problem came to choosing a Captain for Voyager. Many were considered for the position, including a two day stint with Captain Guinevere Brewter who was later dismissed as not being the kind of Captain Starfleet was looking for in this instance. A last minute decision of Captain Kathryn Janeway was made. She was warm, caring, and one hell of a fighter. And her faith in Starfleet was absolute.

The true nature of her mission wasn't revealed to her until they arrived in the Delta Quadrant, at which point the computer recognised their location and downloaded the hidden files to the console in her ready room.

She was ordered not to tell anyone about her 'real' orders, not even her First Officer, Cavit. She was also to write daily reports about the crew and their development. How they coped with being stuck so far from home. And, wherever possible, she was write about the conflict with the Maquis.

From the sensor readings of the Bolian ship (admittedly a bit sketchy, being eight decades old), Starfleet knew that the Caretaker was looking after a race of beings who were being threatened by another race. They also knew the Caretaker was dying, and although there was no way to know for certain just how much time 'he' had left, their best scientists studied the data and made a very well educated guess. It didn't leave them with much time, which is why the plan was put together with a great deal of haste. There was a very good chance that once the Caretaker died the hostile alien race would try to gain control of the array. They knew Janeway would not allow the other race to be destroyed. Not only did her ethics not allow it, she was also under orders to stay in the Delta Quadrant.

And so the plan was set. There were no guarantees of course. The Maquis ship or Voyager could have been destroyed whilst being catapulted to the Delta Quadrant, or Janeway could have disobeyed orders and tried to use the Caretaker to get home even if it meant the death of a race. In the minds of the Federation psychologists and Starfleet Command, it was worth the risk.

Everything went according to plan. More or less. The destruction of the Maquis ship but the survival of Voyager had not been anticipated, but the psychologists were excited about the idea when they heard about the crew from the messages received from Voyager four years into their journey home.

The full details were never released to the public, but word leaked that Kathryn Janeway was sent to the Delta Quadrant to trap her crew and the Maquis crew there deliberately.

It came as the destructive force that shattered her relationship with Chakotay.