Nothing I could do to change your mind
by Jinny W
Summary: The one that started the addiction. An 'after they get home' story. Will they, won't they?
Disclaimer: They belong to Paramount. I'm just playing.
She wasn't angry anymore. She had been. The kind of cold, seething anger that had at times made her crew duck for cover. For three weeks actually - three weeks! it seemed longer than that - she stormed quietly, then snapped at her mother, at Phoebe, at her new dog Leo.
They had been understanding, for a little while. After all it had only been two months since the Starfleet inquiries came to a close. It was understandable that Voyager's captain would have trouble adapting to old routines again. But understanding had its limits. Phoebe, as usual, was the first to step in and confront her.
"Kath," she said from the seat in the corner of her sister's new office where she perched, watching Kathryn rummage through a pile of data padds.
"How long is this going to go on?"
Kathryn didn't look up. "How long is what going to go on?"
"You know exactly what I mean. You being angry at everyone you speak to. Frightening Leo - not to mention poor Jared. Not telling anyone what's happened to you."
"I'm not angry". She threw another padd onto her discarded pile a little too forcefully, then grimaced as it skidded along the desk to thud on the carpet. Phoebe raised her eyebrows and regarded her sister silently.
Kathryn chewed her lip for a moment. "I'm mildly irritated, I'll admit. I've been rushed off my feet here".
"Irritation is one thing, Kath. Open hostility is quite another."
Kathryn laughed shortly. "Oh, this is not hostility".
She sighed. "I appreciate that you're worried about me. Frankly, it's nice to have so many people to be concerned about me again. But nothing's wrong. I'm restless, is all."
"At the office job? I thought you wanted a break from space."
"I did. At least I thought I did. But the more I think about it, the more it seems they weren't too enthused about me doing anything else. I just spent six years on the furthest frontiers of space. You would think they'd want my expertise."
Phoebe shook her head. "They do want it, they just want you here too-"
"-where they can keep an eye on me?" Kathryn snorted. "I can take care of myself." She bent to retrieve the wayward padd and slid it onto the desk.
"Maybe that's part of the problem. You can take care of yourself." Phoebe tapped one hand on her knee as she spoke. "You've been taking care of yourself, of your crew, without Starfleet's help. Without their guidance."
"They think I'm some sort of maverick."
"You do have quite a record. Some of the Delta Quadrant stories are incredible. And then there's -"
Phoebe's voice trailed off as her eyes searched her sister's face. Kathryn turned to face her, hands characteristically perched on hips.
"The stories about your first officer. I mean, you and your first officer."
Kathryn was silent but Phoebe noted the brief flare of emotion in her eyes - what was it - regret, desire?
"I know they're just rumours. You know how 'fleeters love to gossip. And it would have made a great story, wouldn't it? It is just a rumour, isn't it?"
Kathryn's shoulders straightened. "Of course they were. They are."
But she only held her sister's eyes for a few seconds before turning away.
They lost each other in the crowd after the last hearing. The media, Starfleet security, well-wishers, family and friends all gathered outside headquarters. Although there were transports waiting to take the Voyager crew whereever they wanted to go, security apparently hadn't thought far enough ahead to lead them out a back entrance. In short, they had been mobbed.
He had been beside her as they stepped from the building. His eyes on her face, his hand next to hers, not quite touching. She turned to say something but the gaggle of reporters pushed forward, insistent, anxious to preserve a soundbite from Voyager's heroic captain.
She looked for him afterwards. She left messages in the lobby of the hotel where he was staying. She had called B'Elanna, and even Tom Paris, thinking they might know where he had gone. They didn't. And then there was her family - Gretchen and Phoebe - and little time to think of anything else.
Days passed. Then, one bright afternoon, he stepped out of a coffee shop in front of her. For a strangely panicked moment, with the sun in his eyes, she was afraid he hadn't recognized her. Then he smiled.
She remembered little about the next few hours. He touched her elbow, suggested they have a drink. The drink turned into dinner, then dessert, then afterwards...
In the morning she watched him sleep, so contented. She left with a smile and a short message on a padd beside the bed. "Let's talk later".
It seemed there was always later.
They talked of little things. Over coffee the next evening she finally asked.
"What will you do now?"
Chakotay shrugged. "Get out of my uniform for a while."
He chucked at her involuntary grin.
"I'll go back to Dorvan for a while. And I have some friends to chase up here on earth. Not a lot, but a few who are worth it." He watched her trace her fingertip along the thin spoon handle. "And what about you?"
"Oh I hadn't thought," she said. "I've been offered a job at headquarters. But I could -" She paused and lowered her eyes to the table cloth. "I thought perhaps I could take some time off too."
She looked up quickly at Chakotay's laughter. "Kathryn Janeway, offering to take a vacation? I don't believe it."
"Believe it. I'm tired."
"I know what you mean." He looked down at his own fingers. "I'm looking forward to spending some time by myself- "
At her startled glance he went on, "- with no responsibilities, I mean."
They were silent for a while.
"Will I see you when you get back?"
"Of course you will, Kathryn." He reached forward and placed one warm hand over her own. "It's just a holiday. Even if I don't - well even if I decide not to stay in Starfleet, I'll still be back."
She looked out of the window. An old woman walked slowly past, her feet trudging along the pavement.
She waited five weeks before sending him a message. Five long weeks - long enough for the ache of missing him to turn into fear, questioning, then annoyance, and finally anger. How could she, of all people, be some sort of fling, a last hurrah on earth before he disappeared into god knows where?
She shook away the irrational thought but couldn't shake the knot in her stomach. Was he serious about her, about them? She had assumed... well, she had known what her own feelings had been. And he had never hidden his on Voyager, even after six years she had known. Or had she?
Perhaps it had nothing to do with her. Maybe it was Starfleet, maybe he just didn't want to put that uniform back on. He had hinted at leaving, he hadn't promised he would resume his commission, but she had assumed... There was that word again.
She felt anxious and hated it.
A day later he responded, looking sheepish over the comm line. He looked rested, she thought, but there was something else behind his dark eyes.
"I'm sorry for not being in touch. There's no excuse for that."
"But you're going to give me one?"
He smiled tightly and ducked his head a little. "No".
"Where are you?"
"I'm on Dorvan. Some of the colonists came back here. I've been busy catching up with friends. I've- " his voice broke off.
Kathryn unconsciously began drumming her fingers on her desk and waited for him to continue.
"I've been thinking about things. About the future, where I want to be."
Who I want to be with.
He didn't say it, but the words hung in the air anyway.
"I just wanted you to know I'm sorry for not calling sooner. But I'm getting a transport soon. I'll see you in three weeks?"
She nodded, trying to push the harsh edge out of her voice. There would be time for that later. "I'll see you in three weeks."
As the image of Chakotay flickered and disappeared she reached out her right hand and touched the screen briefly with her fingertips.
Chakotay shifted uncomfortably on the couch.
"I'm sorry for a lot of reasons. I didn't want to hurt you. And I didn't plan it like this. It just-"
"-happened," she finished.
They were both silent for a moment.
"When I saw you in San Francisco that day - outside the coffee shop - I meant to tell you that I was leaving. But we-," he faltered, then went on, "That was an accident, that night."
"An accident?" Kathryn felt her stomach turn.
"I was working up the courage to tell you in the morning, but you'd already gone."
"Chakotay, I saw you that night. You could have said something."
"I know. Believe me, I was planning to. But I wasn't certain myself then. And I didn't know what you wanted, from your career, from me. You were talking about your new job. I didn't know if you would give it up to come away with me."
Her voice was tight. "You didn't even ask. I did say I was thinking of some time off."
"A holiday Kathryn. A few weeks, not a whole new life!"
"So you disappeared for five weeks."
He rested his hand on her arm. "I needed to think. To make sure this was what I really wanted."
He stroked his palm down her arm towards her hand, encircling her fingers with his own.
"And it is."
She snatched her hand away and rested knuckled fists on her thighs. "And me?"
He didn't look at her. "Oh, Kathryn. You and I, we waited too long. Maybe a few years ago we could have made this work."
She couldn't believe what she was hearing. She had put her own feelings on hold, believing that at the end there would be something between them, something to make it worth the lonliness and the wait. She clenched her fingers tightly.
"If I argued with you, if we talked about reasons and possibilities and problems, and how hard I would try," she said, "would it make any difference?"
His brown eyes stared back at her for a moment.
"I'm sorry Kathryn. It's just not meant to be."
He touched her face, then leaned forwards to gently brush her lips with his own.
"Talking about this over and over, it won't help. It won't change my mind."
His fingers gently pushed her hair back from her face. Then he stood and walked towards the door.
"Chakotay." Almost a whisper.
He stopped and turned his head to glance at her. She sat motionless on the couch, forearms on legs, head bent down.
She looked up at him, the beginning of tears forming in her eyes.
"Write to me? Let me know you're alright."
He nodded once, then strode out of the room.
Please don't show your soul to me
I think I'd see the light shine through
and please don't greet me on the street
I'd like to see a world without you.
'Cause I've found there's nothing more that I could say to you,
nothing I could do to change your mind
change your ways, or your tune . . .
Read the alternative sequels here and here.
~ Jinny's stories ~ feed the author ~