by Jinny W
Disclaimer: Paramount: all, Me: Nil.
Summary: Sometimes an apology and change of mind are just not enough.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, their clothes, the sets, the 24th century etc.
This is an alternative version of my story "Whenever you fall", which was a "no wait, they do actually get together after all" sequel to "Nothing I could do to change your mind". That version was a little too sappy for my liking so I've written another one :)
Meaning this story is an alternative sequel for "Nothing I could do"... It replaces the events in "Whenever you fall", which in this version don't happen. Even though a few minor parts to the astute observer will appear the same. Confused yet? Go back to the bit where he dumps her, and that's about where this starts.
You'll find the first story here
"just one more day
just one more week
I'll be smiling again
just one more drink
just one cigarette
I'll be smiling,
yes I'll be myself again ..."
Kathryn absorbed the words of the sultry song through a haze of alcohol. They definitely weren't helping her foul mood. The dark-haired singer, perched on a stool in front of the piano, had been crooning miserable song after miserable song for the past hour.
Her head was already beginning to hurt, she realised. She didn't want to think about how she would feel tomorrow. In fact she was doing her damnedest to try to forget how she felt right now. Hence the drink. Hence the miserable perch in the miserable bar, listening to the miserable songs.
It was all over.
Chakotay had made that perfectly clear in the most abrupt and painful way. It was uncharacteristic of him to be so blunt, but hardly surprising.
"We waited too long," he said.
You waited too long, he should have said.
Her mind reeled off a litany of hurtful things he had said to her. Their night together was an accident. They weren't meant to be together. She wouldn't have given up her job to stay with him.
The last made her pause. Swirling her drink slowly, she forced herself to consider the accusation. In a way he was right. She had no intention of becoming a housefrau just to satisfy his own desire to have her around. After the Delta quadrant, after all she had lost and sacrificed, her work at Starfleet didn't mean quite as much as it once had. But it was still an important part of her life. She had started to enjoy her new responsibilities at headquarters. But there were plenty of other things she could do. She had never said she was bound to stay in San Francisco, bound to stay in Starfleet even.
Then again, she thought bitterly, he hadn't asked. Just set his reasons before her simply, plainly, in a low quiet voice. Perhaps if he had screamed and shouted she would have been provoked into arguing back, defending herself, trying to change his mind. At the least it would have matched the drama of the occasion.
Instead it was simple and declamatory, even anti-climactic.
She sighed and gulped the last of her drink, waving the bartender over to pour her another.
"so perhaps it's a resolution
best left unspoken
perhaps they should write me
one of those sad sad love songs
and maybe you would cry
not knowing it was mine..."
"It's depressing isn't it?"
Kathryn looked up with a start to see the dark-haired singer standing beside her. She hadn't heard her walk over, hadn't even heard the song end.
"The music tonight."
Kathryn shrugged. "I guess so."
Frankly, she thought, the music all week had been much the same.
"Do you mind if I sit?"
When Kathryn shook her head, the woman slipped onto the stool beside her. She glanced at the empty glasses beside her, and at the nearly empty drink in Kathryn's hand.
"Rough night, huh?"
"I guess so, " Kathryn repeated, not looking up from her drink.
The barman appeared before them and nodded to the singer.
"Evi. What can I get you? Scotch?"
"Just a small one. I'm on a break. I'll have a water too, and another drink for my friend here."
Kathryn glanced up at her with heavy eyes.
Evi grinned. "I find that telling the broken-hearted to stop doesn't win me too many friends. Might as well join you."
"Who say's I'm -" she broke off, looking back down at her drink.
After a moment, she said, "You have a lovely voice."
Evi smiled at the obvious change of subject. "Thankyou."
"Do you ever sing anything more cheerful?"
"Sure. I do some more upbeat jazz", she laughed. "Once I learnt an amazing birthday song from a drunk Ferengi."
"The Ferengi have a version of happy birthday?"
"Uh-huh. Its mostly about acquiring the maximum amount of presents though."
Kathryn smiled despite herself, then sobered, biting her lips. "Maybe you could sing it for me some time."
They were silent for a moment, until the barman returned and slid the drinks across the counter.
Evi raised her glass to Kathryn.
"So, whose bad fortune are we drinking to?"
"Mine I guess."
The other woman nodded. "Well then, to love. That same old dance."
She leaned over and clinked her glass against Kathryn's.
"The same old dance", she echoed.
They sat in silence for a little while, until Kathryn roused herself to politeness.
"How long have you been a singer?"
"Oh, all my life, just about. I can't help myself. I've done other things, seen the galaxy a little. I was married once, for a few years. That was a good idea in theory, but it couldn't have worked in the real world. Didn't work, I should say. Anyway, I always seem to come back to this. Me and a crowd," she finished with a wry grin, glancing at the nearly empty bar around them.
Kathryn swirled the liquid around her glass absent mindedly. "I have a terrible voice."
Evi shrugged. "I don't suppose it's on the job description for Starfleet Captains."
When Kathryn looked at her she smiled sheepishly. "I do watch the news."
"I did hear once that Captain Hunter used to sing on the bridge of the Biko occasionally in the old days. That might have just been a nasty rumour," she added.
Kathryn snorted. "It wouldn't surprise me. She was always unconventional."
"The best Captain's are, isn't that what they say?"
"I suppose so."
Evi downed her scotch, and slid the glass smoothly across the bar, where it came to rest with a clink against Kathryn's empties.
"Would you like to complain to a complete stranger? Get things off your chest?"
Kathryn shook her head just once. "I don't think - I wouldn't know where to start."
Evi took a few sips of her water. "I've seen you in here before. Before this week, I mean. A couple of times with other people from Voyager. I recognized your faces."
She watched Kathryn for a moment.
"I remember the first night you came in here, actually."
She finished off her water and lowered the empty glass onto the bar.
"It was soon after Voyager got back to Earth. You were with a tallish, dark-haired man. Lovely brown eyes. You both drank champagne."
Kathryn glanced up at her quickly, involuntarily. She chewed on her lower lip, then looked back at her hands.
"Yes. My first officer."
"So he's the one."
"I thought the two of you looked close that night."
"We are. I mean, we were. Good friends. And - "
"And?" Evi prompted.
"And I wanted something more. So did he, for a long time," she threw the words out quickly, wondering why she was telling this to a woman she had just met. Kathryn took a gulp of her drink then set it back down. "But not anymore."
"I see." Evi grimaced. "There isn't much you can say, is there? When its over."
"I guess that's why there's all the gloomy songs. People are trying to fill up the silence."
"I suppose so."
"It doesn't help much."
Evi smiled. "Well, I've always thought that you should have a good wallow for a while. Let it all out. There's no point people telling you to 'cheer up' so soon. Where's the sense in that? You won't until you're ready."
Kathryn shook her head wordlessly.
Evi opened her mouth to say something else, when the man behind the piano began gesturing for her attention. She turned to Kathryn with an apologetic grin.
"I have to go. Take care, Captain."
Evi slid off the stool and strode back towards the stage.
Kathryn sighed, draining the last mouthful from her glass. Maybe she should leave. Maybe she had - what had Evi called it? - wallowed for long enough this evening.
She thought involuntarily of her sterile apartment. The "why haven't you called all week" messages from her sister that she knew would be waiting for her. She decided to wait a little longer. Knowing how her evening would conclude.
TWO WEEKS, ONE DAY...
In the end Kathryn went home with Evi to her apartment. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest idea, but the younger woman had been honest about her intentions. Maybe that was what Kathryn needed to hear, something honest.
"I won't take advantage of you Kathryn. If you really don't want to, I won't push you."
Her lips curved up a little then.
"But I can help you forget him, just for tonight."
She ran her warm fingertips along Kathryn's bare arm, up to her shoulder.
"It would just be for tonight."
And in the end she was right. It was pointless, thoughtless sexual release, and if it hadn't been with Evi it would have most likely been with someone else. Still, Kathryn had to admire the younger woman's obvious experience. She hadn't been exaggerating, she had helped obscure her misery for a little while. As Evi's skilled tongue brought her to orgasm for the second time, she thrust her hips forward desperately, whimpering her release.
She left the singers' apartment during the night, pulling her dress over her shoulders hastily, padding along the floor in her bare feet.
Evi's voice halted her as she stepped through the bedroom doorway.
"When you're done being reckless - you'll be alright."
Kathryn paused for a moment, caught by a shard of light coming from the hallway. From the bed Evi could see her silhouette, her head bent down at an angle, thinking, trying not to think. Then she shook her head, and left without replying.
Mostly there was work. She buried herself in it at first, cut herself off from friends and family alike. But her denial didn't last. People who loved her - who had spent six years apart from her - refused to let her disappear once again. Refused to let her continue to be reckless.
To her surprise, one of those friends was Mark. She saw him every few weeks, at first for drinks, then later for regular dinners. At one of those dinners he asked her about Chakotay.
"Come on Kath", he said, "I know there's something going on."
She shook her head. "There isn't anything to tell."
He watched her silently. She sighed, knowing he wouldn't quit until she told him everything.
"Alright. There was something between us. But its over. He decided," she unconsciously emphasized the words, "that it wouldn't work. So he left. And that's it."
She shrugged. "How can there be any more? A relationship takes two people. If one person wants to leave..."
"What do you want?" he asked pointedly.
Kathryn sighed. "I wish I hadn't slept with him before he left. I wish he had been honest with me after our return to earth. I wish..." she trailed off again.
Mark shook his head. "Not what do you wish, what do you want. Do you want him back?"
She stared at him for a moment. "I don't know."
She paused, considering the question. "At first I thought so. For the first few weeks afterwards, I hoped every day that he would call. Say he'd changed his mind. Beg me to forgive him. And I lost myself for a while."
Mark frowned. "Lost yourself?"
Kathryn grimaced, but went on. "You know how it goes. Love's sorrow. Too much to drink." She rolled her eyes. "Meaningless encounters. Trying to distract myself from how awful I really felt. Living with reckless abandon."
He nodded. "And now?"
"I don't know," she said. "I'm past that stage. It's been months now. But I still catch myself thinking about him at the strangest times. And it still hurts, remembering the things he said."
She shrugged again. "But as for wanting him back. I don't know."
They finished their drinks in silence.
Eventually Kathryn went back to the bar. She hid herself on a dimly lit stool near the back of the room, sipping her drink slowly, watching Evi slither across the stage.
When the singer took her customary break, Kathryn waited for her to collect her drink, then slipped up beside her.
Evi turned at the sound of her voice and smiled broadly. "Kathryn! Hello."
She gestured to another stool. "Please, sit, join me."
"Thankyou." Kathryn lifted her skirt and sat down.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
"No, thankyou. I can't stay long."
She took a deep breath, wondering where to begin.
"How are you?" Evi asked.
"Oh I'm fine," she said, feeling for the first time in a while that it was actually close to the truth.
"I haven't seen you here for months."
"No. I've been busy."
She shook her head. "Actually, I've been embarrassed," she amended.
"About the way I behaved."
"Kathryn, you have nothing - " Evi began, but Kathryn cut her off with a wave of her hand.
"No, I know. I was just one of those things. It's just - well I don't normally -".
"Sleep with strangers? Sleep with women?" Evi grinned at her. "Forget it Kathy. We all do reckless things every now and then. You certainly don't have to explain yourself to me."
Kathryn shook her head again. "Its not just that. This might sound odd, but I wanted you to understand. I felt like my life was out of control. That I was out of control. I'm not used to that."
Evi nodded. "That makes sense. One of the reasons I never get mixed up with you Starfleet types. You're all so disciplined. And I don't mean that in the good way."
Kathryn found herself smiling back, then broke into a chortle.
Evi laughed, "Now that's more like it."
"It was the strangest thing," Kathryn said, "but I've been thinking about you lately. I'm not sure why, we don't really know each other at all."
"I'm flattered." She wiggled her eyebrows in mock flirtation. "Sure I can't buy you a drink?"
"I'm sure. Actually I just wanted to ask you something."
"It's a little personal."
Evi smiled. "That's okay. You do know a few personal things about me already."
Kathryn ignored that comment. "You told me that you were married once. That it didn't work out although it was a good idea in theory. What did you mean by that?"
Evi shrugged. "Just that in theory we looked like a perfect match. We had a lot in common. We were good friends. Hot for each other", she added with a smirk.
"She'd wanted to be with me for a long time," she continued more soberly. "I'd been running around her for just as long. When we finally got together, it felt like the most wonderful cathartic romantic thing that could happen. It was good, for a while. And I convinced myself that it was right too, so right that I forgot all of the reasons that I'd been pushing her away before. And they were good reasons."
Kathryn listened with a sense of déjà vu, and found herself nodding.
"Were you sorry she left you?" she asked, unthinkingly.
Evi shook her head. "No, I left her."
"We were wrong together, I know that now. But," she smiled sadly, "I still miss her. I still think of things everyday that I really should tell her, and it's been four years. I still sing certain songs and can picture the way she used to sit and watch me. The way she used to smile."
Kathryn sighed. "Is that why you always sing all those miserable songs?"
"No. I just like to sing them."
"Oh," she thought about that for a moment, then roused herself.
"Well I have to go. I just wanted to stop by and say hi."
Evi nodded. "It's good to see you."
Kathryn stood and began to walk away, then turned back.
"One more thing."
"The Ferengi birthday song. You made that up, didn't you?"
Evi raised an eyebrow, "What makes you say that?"
"I looked it up in the cultural database."
"I thought you might." She shrugged. As Kathryn turned to walk away she added, "It's a good story though."
Kathryn wasn't sure if she still meant the Ferengi song, or something else altogether.
ONE YEAR AND A BIT (thirteen months, two weeks, and five days) ...
The letter came unexpectedly, a short pre-recorded message, not even a minute long. She didn't expect it to affect her quite this way - she was reconciled to their ending, or so she told herself. But still, she sat silently in her chair for a full five minutes afterwards, staring at the blank screen in front of her. He was coming back.
It had been just over a year since the day he left her apartment. Since then they had spoken through subspace several times. Short messages, all impersonal. Until the last.
"I'll be back on earth for a little while in two weeks Kathryn," he said. "I'd like to see you."
He paused, looked away awkwardly, then continued.
"I've been thinking about what happened between us and - well, I'd like for us to talk. I know it's been a while."
It had been a while. She found herself recalling the conversation she'd had with Mark over half a year ago.
What do you want, Kath? he had asked.
A year ago she would have said I want Chakotay, with no need for thought. But even then, when Mark put her on the spot, she had hesitated. And now, months later, she was - if such a thing was possible - even more unsure.
She sighed and ran her finger down the monitor, feeling only the cold touch of the screen on her fingertips as she traced the edge of Chakotay's face.
Two weeks, she thought. Two weeks to decide.
ONE YEAR AND A BIT MORE (or fourteen months and five days) ...
"Admiral", Jared's voice interrupted Kathryn's reading. "There's someone here to see you. He doesn't have an appointment, but - "
"Show him in", she said, then cursed as the padd she had been holding clattered on to her desk. She picked it up again and placed it beside the monitor. As the doors slid open, she stood and straightened her uniform, running nervous hands down her stomach.
He looks the same, was her first thought. Well of course he does, was her second, it's only been one year, not fourteen. She stepped forward, taking a deep breath to calm herself.
"Please, come in."
Chakotay stepped forward from where he had stopped just inside the door.
"Hello Kathryn", he said, as the doors slid shut behind him.
"Hello". To her credit, she managed to keep her voice steady, despite her anxiety. Good to see the years of command weren't wasted, Kath, she told herself. What was it that Jean-Luc Picard used to say about confidence? Fake it until you make it?
They stood for a moment, watching each other, measuring small changes, noting similarities. Eventually, she moved towards him and took his hand between her own.
"It's good to see you Chakotay", she said.
"You too." He was still studying her face, and she found his close scrutiny a little unnerving.
"Shall we go out for a drink?"
At his nod, she steered him out of the door. On the way to the bar she kept their conversation deliberately light, filling him in on the Voyager gossip he had missed.
"You must stop in and see the doctor while you're here."
"He's still in San Francisco?"
She nodded. "Yes. And loving it. He's been working with the medical division. Improving their holograms. Performing on the side, of course."
"Of course." Chakotay smiled at her, with a familiar warmth in his eyes.
Once they were seated, drinks in front of them, she could feel his eyes searching her face again, and decided it was time to push the issue.
"So," she began, "you wanted to talk about us."
He looked down at the table for a while before continuing.
"I'm sorry Kathryn. For what I said, and for what I did back then. You didn't deserve that. I've been thinking about it over and over, for the past few months. Not about the way I left you," he shook his head, "because I know that was damned rude. But about my leaving in the first place."
She watched him closely, mind racing. He is going to say he's changed his mind, she thought. After all this time, now that I'm finally finding my feet again.
"Go on", she said quietly.
He looked up at her, seemingly encouraged, and began to talk more quickly. "I came back to tell you that I'm sorry, and that I was wrong. I was afraid we wouldn't work here. I was afraid you would be swept up in your job. That I would lose you to Starfleet, for the second time."
She thought carefully before responding. "I can't say", she began slowly, "what I would have done. Not for sure. But you didn't even give our relationship a chance."
"I didn't intend to start a relationship at all, Kathryn."
"You gave a pretty good impression of it", she retorted.
He sighed. "That wasn't my finest hour, Kathryn. It was more like a moment of indiscretion. I never meant for that to happen."
"So what's made you change your mind?"
"Time", he replied. "Time, and distance. I was so caught up in you Kathryn. Overwhelmed by you. I used to see you every day. I thought that once I moved away I could get some perspective, that my feelings would start to change. I thought I'd made the right decision."
"And now you don't."
"Now I don't." He took a deep breath then continued. "You were right. I didn't give you a chance. I expected you to choose, me or your new job. That was childish of me. It wasn't necessary."
He let his breath out slowly.
"Then, does this mean..." he stared at her intensely, his brown eyes full of emotion.
"Oh, Chakotay". She shook her head sadly. "You and I, we should know better than this. Not to go back on decisions already made. Not to play games with each other."
"This isn't a game."
"No, it isn't. But it's been over a year. Do you think you can just waltz back into my life and announce that you've changed your mind? That you do want to be with me?"
She shook her head again. "What do you expect me to do? Fall straight into your arms? Say that I understand? That it was alright for you to be scared?"
He started to speak but she waved him to silence and kept going.
"Alright, I understand if you were scared. I understand that you were nervous about my commitment to work. I understand that you had doubts about us. But you didn't give me a chance, Chakotay, a chance to show you anything different."
"Don't we have a chance now? Please Kathryn, don't tell me that it's too late."
She sighed. "I wanted to give you a chance. I wanted to give us a chance. You were the one who walked away, not me."
He swallowed hard. "Then I'm asking you for a second chance. Let me show you that I really mean it. I love you Kathryn."
The intensity with which he spoke sent a shiver up Kathryn's spine, and for a moment she wavered.
"Is there someone else?" he asked quietly.
"What?" Her head snapped up at that. She glared at him momentarily, then shook her head. "No. I mean not really. No, there isn't," she corrected herself, annoyed at her slip of the tongue.
"What do you mean not really?"
"Let's just say I had my own moment of indiscretion. But that was a long time ago now."
Chakotay raised his eyebrows and leaned forward. "Oh? Who was he?"
"She actually, not that it's any of your business."
He looked surprised, but didn't respond.
Kathryn sighed. "Chakotay, there isn't anybody else. This isn't about anyone else. It's about you and me."
She thought about the question Mark had asked her, and about the parting words Evi had used.
"You were right, Chakotay. We aren't meant to be. We're not really right for each other. Maybe once -", she shook her head sadly, "but not anymore."
She reached over and touched his hand softly, willing him to understand.
"We make a great story, Chakotay."
She smiled ruefully. "An even better sad song. But that's all. I'm sorry."
He sighed, staring down at her hand in silence for a full minute before he spoke.
"I suppose I should have expected that you'd do alright without me."
He sighed again, more deeply. "So now I'm the one asking you if you'd ever change your mind."
She shook her head again. "I don't think so."
"And I know this sounds crazy right now, but I'd like us to try and stay friends this time."
Chakotay met her gaze, and nodded dumbly, before untangling his hand from hers.
"I'd like that too. But not just yet, okay?"
"Okay. But don't disappear again and not call me, will you?"
"No ma'am," he said, smiling a little.
"Good", she said.
"yes, perhaps it's a resolution
best left unspoken
perhaps they should write me
one of those sad sad love songs
and maybe you would cry
not knowing it was mine..."
not all sequelled out yet? Sheri wrote quite a different one, it's here
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