A Perfect Moment Ė part 8

Chakotay

My relationship with Earth has always been intense, and complicated; love and hate. When I was a child on Dorvan living on Earth was my dream, it meant escape, fulfilling my ambitions and being accepted into Starfleet. Earth was the symbol of my future and all of my hopes. I can just about remember how awed I was those first weeks at the Academy, simply from the knowledge that I had finally made it. It felt like home for a long time. Returning to Earth after a mission, normally to San Francisco was always something special.

Perhaps if I hadnít cared so much I wouldnít have felt so betrayed, wouldnít have held Earth so responsible for the Treaty with the Cardassians, wouldnít have left, never to return. I know now that itís never a good idea to leave in anger, filled with self-righteous indignation, and itís never wise to close your mind to something because fate has a way of making you rethink those decisions. And just to prove it, here I am again; feeling more than a little like the wayward son, home to face the wrath of his parents.

Iíve been back before of course, give or take a century or two, walked the streets of Los Angeles. But it wasnít the same, not really, I wasnít assaulted by memories, didnít come face to face with the icons of my past. The sun was shining, Kathryn and I let the freedom of being out of uniform go to our heads Ė just a little and it was easy to forget that this was Earth.

But now itís different, now I realise that I havenít worked out any of my feelings about returning to Earth. I havenít decided what Iím going to do with the rest of my life, stay with Starfleet or disappear as soon as Iím able to. Dorvan calls to me, but Iím tired of running away. Itís not an easy choice; going back will mean abandoning my second crack at a Starfleet career. Either way I abandon the things I care about, it seems to be my fate. Perhaps I wonít have the choice, perhaps Starfleet will treat me as the criminal Iím not entirely sure that I am.

It seems amazing to me that with the last six years at our disposal we have somehow failed to deal with any of the things that separate us. Itís an unique kind of cowardice that we have all bought into; that we have maintained for all these years. We are a family, our bonds are strong, but they have held strong in our exile. I look around me at some of my closest friends and wonder if our bonds will hold now. I like to think that they will, even though Iím sure weíll be separated to some extent. Not everyone will chose to stay with Starfleet, even if they are able to. Itís been one of Kathrynís more remarkable achievements, that she has managed to hold together this disparate band, I hope the powers that be recognise this, that it doesnít get swamped by the more obvious victories Ė the Borg, the HirogenÖ

I only realise how close I am to Kathryn when I touch her. Itís instinctive, needing to be close to her, needing to touch her, needing to let her know that she isnít facing this alone. Now it astonishes me that weíve never discussed this moment, or what will become of us all. But yesterday that silence was the most natural thing in the Universe. Strange how your perspective can alter in such a short time. Weíre still the same people, I still believe that if she has to she will fight to protect her crew. But now it seems far more likely that the reason we didnít ever have that conversation was because we both feared the direction it would take. I donít want to think about it, but my indecision about my own future stems from my lack of certainty over my relationship with Kathryn. I know that she would never ask me to stay if she thought she was the only reason I would do so. She would never put herself and her feelings in the way of what I decide.

Iím not sure which of us has been more stupid Ė Kathryn for believing not dealing with how we felt would have no impact on our command relationship, or me for acquiescing in that.

The realisation that it doesnít matter anymore, that the rules have been changed for good, leaves me so stunned that the Admiralís good news barely has an impact on me. Oh, itís nice to know that I wonít be going to prison anytime soon, but Iím sure other considerations have effected that decision; I doubt that Starfleet have radically rethought their opinion of the Maquis since weíve been gone. But I do understand about pragmatism.

And then Kathryn looks back at me. Perhaps I believe in telepathy after all because in that moment I am sure we both want the same thing. If I hadnít been so stunned by the openness of her expression I think I would have picked her up and spun her round there and then. The crew would have loved that.

The sign I never thought Iíd see is right there in her eyes. But the silence must end as well, the moment we are on our own we are discussing this. I donít care if we talk in the turbolift on our way to the transporter room, but we are going to talk. Starfleet and Earth will just going to have to wait

TBC