He was going back - really. Kathryn was surprised that they hadn't tried to use Chakotay in some sort of plot to discredit the 'other' Chakotay in the eyes of the Maquis. Perhaps they had tried that and he'd refused to participate. She hadn't been privy to the internal manouvrings that had happened before it was agreed that Chakotay and his shuttle would be returned to the wormhole from which they'd emerged.
In truth she hadn't wanted to be involved, and there was so much to do on Voyager it had been relatively easy to avoid seeing him and talking to him. But now he was going, she somehow felt obliged to at least say goodbye.
She had no intention of revisiting the subject matter of their last discussion. If she had found herself thinking about what he had said, about a man she had never met, in her few spare moments - then that was no ones business but hers. She rang the door chime, impatient for this to be over, so she could go back to her warp core diagnostics.
'Hello,' Chakotay smiled as he opened the door. 'I was hoping to see you before I left. I wanted to apologise - I didn't mean to be so insistent the last time we talked.'
'Its all right.' She was glad he had cleared the air between them. 'Except that now I feel guilty for not coming to see you before this.'
'You're busy, I understand that. And I'm not your responsibility. Is it OK to offer you some coffee this time?' She nodded and then succeeded in not being surprised when he called up her favourite coffee programme and ordered the coffee exactly as she would have.
'I suppose my counterpoint and I are very similar?'
'You have longer hair - Kathryn had hers cut a couple of years ago - she was finding it too difficult to manage.' She'd had the same thought herself, more than once, but somehow she thought he realised that.
'Aren't you worried that Voyager might not be on the side of hte wormhole when you emerge? Or even that you won't emerge in the place you left - even in the dimension you left.?'
'Of course I've thought about it. But there's really no choice - I have friends, people who are as close to me as my family were on board Voyager. I have to try and get back there.' And he had Kathryn Janeway - she was burning to ask about the exact nature of their relationship but at the same time she wasn't sure she wanted to know.
'Its a hell of chance to take, you could end up further away - stranded, lost.'
'I can't explain it to you - but I believe that my heart will lead me home.' His confidence, the calmness and certainty that he would return to his home was inspiring and fascinating. She drank her coffee with the unsettling feeling that at least some of those remarks were meant for her.
'Why is it so important to you that I find Chakotay? Tell me why it matters and I'll consider it.'
'Honestly - I don't know. I've always thought there was a touch of fate in the way Kathryn and I found each other - but you'll probably tell me I have tendency to romanticize things - she certainly says so.' He shook his head and again it was on the tip of her tongue to ask him about their relationship and again she did not. 'I suppose I just think if fate can operate in my version of the Universe it can have a hand here - and I know that what you can achive together is remarkable. I'm not saying it will be easy Kathryn - but nothing worthwhile is.'
His answer was far from satisfactory and yet she found herself considering doing this completely mad, rash thing; he made her believe it was possible. 'Does my counterpart find you convincing?' She asked gazing resolutely into her coffee cup - because after all, she wasn't actually going to do it.
'It depends, she can be very stubborn.' Whether he would have said anymore she would never know, his comm badge chirrped,
'Admiral Ross to Chakotay.'
'We're leaving in an hour.'
'I'm on my way - Chakotay out.' As he cut the connection he smiled, 'it would probably be wise not to keep him waiting.' She nodded in agreement and returned the coffee cup to the replicator to be recycled.
'Well, its been interesting, safe journey.'
'Thank you - good luck Kathryn, stay safe.'
'I plan to.'
They parted at the door - their paths lying in opposite directions. Before he reached the turbo lift he turned at the sound of footsteps and seemed unsurprised to see her. 'I have to ask you this - about your Kathryn Janeway, are you and she,' while she struggled for the right description he stepped into the lift.
'Of course we are. Goodbye Kathyrn.' As the lift doors closed he spoke again, so softly she wasn't sure that she'd heard him, but what she'd thought or imagined he'd said was, 'you can make him trust you. He needs you.' He didn't seem to know the meaning of the word quit.
She tapped her comm badge, 'Janeway to Admiral Paris.'
'I wanted to talk to you - about my next mission - I have a suggestion.'
'Really,' he sounded - bemused and after all Admiral Ross would be leaving in an hour, by the time he found out what she had in mind it would be too late to stop her. 'You'd better come straight over.'
'Yes sir.' She shook her head as she closed the connection - madness seemed to be catching. She felt curiously animated, excited even - it was all very strange.
But after all, she did have a contact in the Maquis....Part 5