Leaving Her Beloved One

Summary: A short story behind the beach in Kathryn’s search for her animal guide, but set after ‘Message in a Bottle’. J/M (Janeway/Mark) and J/P, AU Rated PG.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my stories. Paramount owns all. No money, just piece of mind, is being made from this story.

Dedicated to all the many people who inspire me to write.

By Daffnie (trekdimension@yahoo.com)


Kathryn sat on the dune, gazing thoughtfully as the sun spilled its golden light onto the rippling ocean. She smiled and ran her fingers though the cooling sand that surrounded her. She let it flow generously from her hand, enjoying the sensation of the grains brushing her skin. Lost in thought, she didn’t even hear the footfall of someone approaching.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” her fiancé murmured. Immediately welcoming the familiar voice, like it was her own, she smiled again.

“Yes. It’s lovely,” she agreed, turning to gaze up at his face.

“But not as lovely as you,” he replied.

Kathryn blushed. “I just wish I had more time to come here with you.”

Mark knelt down behind her and kneaded her shoulders with his work-weathered hands. She relaxed at his touch.

“We will; when you come back from your assignment.”

“I don’t know if I can wait that long. Admiral Paris said the mission may take longer than scheduled. I guess the Badlands are worse than they expected. The same goes for the Maquis. Starfleet is having trouble keeping tabs on them. They’re much more resourceful than we thought, and it might take some time to catch them.”

“Well, I’ll be waiting for you, Kathryn, no matter how long it takes. And when you return, we’ll get married. Right here, on the beach.”

“On the beach? But we’ve already reserved the Town Central Plaza for our wedding. I can’t just cancel that.”

“Why not?”

“Why not?” she echoed, then confusion crossed her face. “I don’t know. I suppose it wouldn’t be that much of a problem. I haven’t sent out the invitations yet.”

“Invitations? I thought this was going to be a private wedding; immediate family only. I thought that was what we agreed upon.”

“It was, but when people found out about our engagement, they asked me if they could come to the wedding. I couldn’t refuse. That would be inconsiderate.”

“Then we’ll have to reschedule, too. Or send out fake invitations.”

“I don’t think so, Mark. I’m not going to lie to my friends.”

“But would you be willing to reschedule?”

“To when? It was enough trouble getting a pastor to perform it, and most of the local chapels are booked.”

They were quiet for a while before Mark spoke up again.

“How about we get married now?” he asked eagerly.

Kathryn turned around again to stare at him; to search his eyes for the truth. She saw no lies.

“We can’t do that!”

“I don’t see why not. I could perform it. I have the authority.”

“There aren’t any witnesses. It wouldn’t be legal.”

“There’s us. There’s the animals around here. They’re good enough, I suppose.”

“What animals?” she questioned, looking around her surroundings for signs of life other than their own.

“There,” he said, pointing.

Kathryn peered in the direction he motioned to, spotting a gecko crawling along a log.

“It’s a lizard, Mark! I would hardly consider it worthy.”

“No? Do you consider this worthy?”

He took her chin delicately and turned her head towards him. He ran his fingers through her silky hair and pulled her face towards his. Their lips met hungrily in an eager kiss. However, it wasn’t filled with happiness, but rather pain that longed to be resolved. Her soon departure was enough to make the kiss seem more like a desperate cry for the two not to part than one that showed desire for the other. When they finally pulled apart, Kathryn was instantly lonely once again.

“I can’t get married now, Mark,” Kathryn whispered. “I’m sorry.”

She got to her feet, and he followed her example. He rested his arms comfortably around her waist.

“I understand. It was stupid of me to even have suggested it. I guess I was overzealous. Plus you have to leave soon; be the hero. That’s my Kathryn...off to save the day. Always the explorer.”

“It’s in my blood,” she replied sadly.


Suddenly, she was pulled out of the recreated memory and back in her ready room. Chakotay sat next to her on the floor by the table. Her eyes snapped open as she felt the change of scenery.

“What happened? Why am I back here?”

Chakotay looked at her for a moment, then said, “My grandfather had a saying. It was ‘When your heart is gone from the moment, the moment is gone from your heart’. I can’t ask what happened in your quest...it would offend your animal guide...but I can say this: whatever just occurred, it mostly likely has a different meaning than it used to. That’s probably why you were pulled out of the memory. It isn’t as significant as it had been at one time.”

Kathryn took that in and realized that he was exactly right. Her heart was lost from Mark ever since she received the message saying that he had married someone else, saying that he moved on. She felt empty from that point on, but she knew she had to go on with her life as well. The memory of that day on the beach was once like a refuge for her; a place where she could get away to and remember the good times. But now, it was simply painful, and the beach held more sorrow than anything. She knew that it was time to finally let Mark go for good. It was time to leave her beloved one.

“Chakotay. I want to try this again. I want to see if anything changes.”

He nodded, apparently understanding what just went through her head. Kathryn placed her hand on the akoonah, closed her eyes, and was pulled once again into a dream-like world. But now, it didn’t feel as much like a nightmare.


It was nearly 2200 hours, and Kathryn sat alone at her desk, trying to concentrate on making tomorrow’s duty roster. Her day had been uneventful and quiet, and that was fine for ordinary days when she had to get a lot of work done. But today was her day off, today was her birthday, and so far, no one even bothered to say hello.

She breathed in deeply and got up from her chair. She wandered over to the replicator and ordered a bottle of wine and a glass. She popped the cork off and poured herself some. Kathryn held the glass up to make a toast to an empty room.

“Here’s to an awful birthday. May next year’s be a hell of a lot better than this year’s,” she muttered and sucked down the wine from her glass like tomorrow would never come. She swallowed the last few drops and was suddenly swept over with a depression...not strong, but hazy, damp, and dark like a sky that threatened to storm. Whether it was from her abrupt intoxication or just her current foul disposition, she didn’t know and didn’t care.

She flopped onto her couch and stared out her window as the stars streaked by. She flipped her hair back from her face and propped her head up with her hand. To every reason she could think of as to why no one made an effort at a celebration...reasonable or not...she tinged it bitter. This was the first birthday in a long time that she felt this way, and that was just as bothersome as the lack of acknowledgment that today she was one year closer to the end of her life.

Her misery was interrupted by her doorbell buzzing, and she grumbled a few profanities under her breath.

“Come in,” she said irritably, not knowing whether to hold onto her bad mood or be surprised that someone had finally come to her quarters.

The door slid open, and Tom stepped in, holding a plain white box in his hands. He noticed the scowl on Kathryn’s face, so he walked over hesitantly and handed her the box.

“Here. This is for you. Happy birthday,” he said simply, and turned to leave. He didn’t want to bother her if she wasn’t in a good mood.

“Tom. Wait,” Kathryn uttered softly, almost painfully.

He spun around.


“You can’t just leave, helmboy. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that’s impolite?” she teased, and he relaxed at the milder tone her voice took. “You have to be here when I open it.”

He nodded and sat next to her as she carefully removed the lid to the box. She gasped to see a small spotted gecko inside.

“It’s not real,” he commented. “It’s a hologram; the next best thing. Less maintenance, anyway.”

She reached in and ran her fingers over its smooth, moist skin.

“How did you get it to work without a holographic environment? There aren’t any projectors in my quarters.”

“It’s what I like to call ‘self-sustaining’. It’s basically a residual image of an actual holographic gecko. It has a certain projection-mechanism built in, and that works off the projectors in sickbay. I figured since those are always online and the ones in the holodecks get turned on and off as people come and go, you don’t have to worry about your pet disappearing.”

“So you’re telling me there’s a lizard crawling around sickbay at this moment?”

“Well no, not exactly. It’s in a box hidden in a storage cabinet. I had to reroute some of the projectors so I could keep it there, otherwise the doctor would kill me.”

Kathryn laughed, imagining the doctor reaching to pick up a medical tricorder but grabbing a lizard instead.

“Thank you, Tom. You don’t know how much this means to me. You’re the first person to even acknowledge that today’s my birthday. And before you came, I just figured everybody forgot about it altogether.”

Tom’s expression changed to surprise as she said that.

“No one remembered? Not even Chakotay or Harry?”

She shook her head downheartedly.

“Wow, that’s hard to believe,” he replied with mutual disappointment, then spotted the bottle of wine, partially gone. His eyebrows raised with question. “Trying to drown your misery with alcohol, Captain?”

“I wish it was that easy. It doesn’t help that alcohol is a depressant and not a stimulant. I sure could use a ‘kick’ right about now.”

“Well,” he said, standing up. “Your birthday isn’t done for another few hours yet. Why don’t we go celebrate in the holodeck?”

She stood up and gave him her brightest smile.

“I’d love to,” Kathryn replied, setting the box down on the sofa.

He held out his arm, and she took it with her hand. He led her the entire way to the holodeck doors before letting go to punch in the code of the holoprogram, one he evidently had prepared in advance for her birthday.

Half expecting to have the entire crew gathered around and shouting “surprise!”, Kathryn shut her eyes as the doors opened. She let out her breath when all there was in the room were a small bistro set of a small table and two chairs. They stepped inside simultaneously, and nothing changed. Odd; he usually went all out when creating a holoprogram, and Kathryn was disappointed from her anticipation of something more.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said softly.

“Do you?” she challenged. “What am I thinking, Tom?”

“You’re wondering why I didn’t add more to it.”

She smiled slightly. “Am I really that predictable?”

He nodded and replied with a "Mmmhmm".

Kathryn continued, “Okay then, what else am I thinking?”

“Why I did something so unpredictable.”

“Sorry, helmboy. You’re wrong. That’s not what I’m thinking.”

“Oh,” he simply stated and remained quiet.

Finally, after remaining side by side, she faced him.

“Well, aren’t you even going to guess again?”

He solemnly shook his head. “And risk making a fool of myself in front of the captain? No thanks.”

“Why? What is it? What are you thinking about?”

His lips remained still. She put her hands on her hips, daring him to speak.

“Come on. I promise you won’t look like a fool.”

He looked at her in mild disbelief, but spoke up despite his visible hesitance.


“I beg your pardon?” she inquired.

“I’m thinking about you, Kathryn,” he admitted. “I’ve been worried about you. You spend most of your time alone in your quarters or in some fantasy world on the holodeck. You’ve separated yourself, and it’s time that you come back to reality, back to life. I was hoping to make this birthday special for you, but it won’t happen unless you let it.”

Kathryn became clearly uncomfortable, and she looked away. She stiffened when his hand rested upon her arm. His fingers trailed up to her shoulder and then through her auburn locks. With his other hand, he gently turned her face back towards his. She gazed at him with a hint of fright in her eyes.

“Why did you give me that gecko, Tom?”

“Because I know it’s important to you,” he replied in a whisper.

She managed a paltry laugh.

“You’re wrong again. It’s not important. Not anymore, anyway.” Then she paused to sigh heavily. “Why did you give me that gecko?” she repeated.

“You need to let Mark go, Kathryn. He’s gone. Let the memories go. All they’re doing is hurting you, and I see it everyday in your eyes.”

Kathryn’s gaze softened, and she reached her hand up to his face. Her fingers explored his jaw, while Tom’s thumb stroked hers.

“I think I’m ready to do that... I think it’s time to leave my beloved one,” she agreed.

“And it’s time for me to finally join mine.”



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