by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - Characters are Paramounts.
'I hear myself say "My boat's leaving now"
So we shake hands and cry...'
She caught brief glimpses of her surroundings as they whizzed past, trusting the man in front of her to make sure they avoided bumping into anything. Her entire world at the moment seemed to consist of the trees they were running through, around, between. Her legs pounded on the floor and she was half-running and being half-dragged by the man who held onto her hand. When the hell did he become such a good runner?
The evening was cold and windy, causing her dress to flap around her legs even more. It didn't matter. Her feet and the calves of her legs were already splattered with mud - her dress was simply another sacrifice. It seemed silly now that she had put the dress on at all. But he would know that she tried. At least she tried.
Their run continued, the back of her throat burning almost painfully at the cold air she was drawing in through her open mouth. Either knowing how she was feeling or just offering some comfort, he managed to squeeze her hand a little harder in reassurance. She squeezed back, relaying the same message to him. Together, as it should be. As Captain and First Officer, they should always have been together.
Nearly slipping on a particular muddy patch of leaves, they quickly steadied themselved before renewing their solid run through the woods. At another time she might have even been enjoying herself. Running recklessly through nature, head tipped up to the sky, laughing. Perhaps even shouting something.
Instead she kept running, thinking only of why she was doing this.
Her phaser thumped reassuringly against her hip in its holster. He wore one too. She doubted they'd need them on this particular evening, but it was best to take the precaution. Besides, she might have another use for hers at some point...
His pace began to slow, so she matched hers accordingly. They were obviously reaching their target.
It was then that the clearing and the shuttle came into view. Obviously not Starfleet issue, and just as obviously constructed from what looked like ten different original shuttles. It was a wonder the thing could fly at all. Then she saw who was standing next to the shuttle with his phaser drawn and was no longer surprised.
Tensing as he heard the noise he quickly whirled in their direction. Immediately he relaxed but kept his phaser drawn.
Drawing in deep breaths Kathryn and Chakotay finally came to a stop in front of him.
"What are you doing here?" she managed to force out, bending over slightly to catch her breath.
He smiled with pure bravado, but the concern was hovering gently behind his eyes. "Well you're gonna need your best pilot on this wild scheme, aren't you?"
Both his companions shook their heads and smiled. Reaching up with his hand, Chakotay clapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks Tom," he said heavily.
"Not a problem. Besides, there's no way anyone's going to let you pilot a shuttle again." Smiling at his own levity he quickly cleared his throat. "Well...umm...we're ready to launch at any moment. I'll leave you to..." he quickly retreated to the interior of the shuttle, clearly uncomfortable.
"I wish you'd come with me," he spoke quietly.
Shaking her head but smiling, she reached up and touched his face. "We've been through this how many times?"
He responded instantly. "Twenty two."
She frowned. "Really? I only counted twenty one."
Whatever the number was, she knew she was right. She could help him more with her position at Starfleet.
Their return home hadn't been what she had hoped for. The Starfleet officers were welcomed with open arms, but the former Maquis were met with scowls and questions. Janeway was amazed that after all this time the prejudice was still there. The Maquis that had survived their encounter with the Dominion were still in prison. After all this time. All this time.
She had fought; not a quiet or timid woman by nature, she had fought for every single member of her crew that used to be a member of the Maquis. It had been her last fight that had proven to be a failure. They wanted to punish someone, wanted a symbol, and who better than the leader of the Maquis cell?
Kathryn Janeway would not let that failure become a defeat. So she worked with her crew. Starfleet would be pitted against the crew of the Starship Voyager - they had no idea who they were up against.
Tuvok and Seven had broken him out of his confinement. Neelix was keeping certain security officers busy with Ambassadorial problems of some kind. B'Elanna had managed to create a hologram of Janeway, and - with the use of the Doctor's holographic emitter - that hologram was capable of interacting at a basic level should anyone come into her office. It was enough to serve as a distraction. And now, Tom was waiting for him in the shuttle.
Such unity. Something she had tried for so long to obtain on Voyager and ultimately only accomplised by getting them home.
After they were finished here, she would return to her office and then the security officers would suddenly discover that their captive was missing. She would feign ignorance, of course. And if they used a polygraph test on her, the Doctor had informed her of just how to beat it.
"I should go," he stated, staring at her.
"I know you should," she responded, feeling her stomach tighten as she willed herself not to cry. She was a strong person. She shouldn't need that kind of release.
Seeming to know what she was doing, he sighed sweetly and reached up with both hands to cup her face. "There's nothing wrong with it, you know."
Blinking away any moisture, she forced a grin. "Not to you maybe. I don't cry easily."
They had never become lovers but had always been more than friends. A complex relationship in many ways, which made it all the more frustrating. Now it didn't seem to matter. They were here, saying their goodbyes. Or at least attempting to.
"I should go," he stated again, although she knew that if he kept this up he never would.
So she pulled away and unholstered her phaser. He watched in shock and she levelled it at his chest. "Go," she ordered "now."
It was possibly the hardest thing she had ever had to say.
Chakotay understood. He understood why he was doing this. "Promise me that one day you'll let yourself cry."
She blinked heavily. "That's such a horrible thing to say!"
He laughed. He laughed so freely that it was a sound she had almost forgotten and thought she would never hear again. Lowering the phaser she stalked towards him and pulled his head down for a kiss.
Her right hand dropped the phaser to the ground as it snuck around his neck and the kiss deepened. And she knew then. She knew that she had made her mistake. She knew what the feel of his lips was like, the sensation of his body against hers. She knew what it would have been.
Wrenching herself away she almost blindly stumbled for the phaser. Grabbing the now-muddy weapon from the floor she quickly aimed it again at Chakotay. "Go! Now! Or God help me I'll stun you and drag you into the damn shuttle myself!"
Gasping for breath and obviously not wanting to leave, he started anyway. He knew she was absolutely serious. Then pausing for a second, he walked towards her and held out his hand.
"It's been a honour serving under you, Captain." A faint smile played over his lips.
Her smiled echoed his. Swapping the phaser to her left hand, she shook his with her right. "You *never* served under me, Commander."
"I will see you again," he stated with absolute conviction.
She envied him that. All she could muster was "I know you'll try."
Releasing her hand slowly, Chakotay turned and walked towards the shuttle. Once he entered, the hatch began closing. Shoving her phaser back in its holster, she smiled goodbye. His lips were moving. She couldn't hear the words but had absolutely no doubt as to what he was saying.
"I know," she whispered back, half afraid that he would hear her.
The hatch locked shut. The shuttle took off. Watching it as it flew into the sky from the clearing, Kathryn was amazed to discover trails on moisture on her face. Wiping some away with her hand she looked down at it. "I guess you got your wish, Chakotay."
Shrugging and laughing at the same time, she turned to follow the route back.
Lyrics from 'Manhattan Skyline' by A-ha.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic