Resolved, part two
by Jinny W
Disclaimer: see part one
If she didn't know better she would have thought the doctor sounded tired.
"I'm afraid I don't have anything new to tell you. Except that I've eliminated several more possible causes of the infection."
"That's alright doctor. I just wanted to be here."
He nodded in understanding and began wandering back to his office.
"Doctor", she said, as she perched on one of the stools, "can you tell me something about memories?"
"What would you like to know?"
"I'm not sure. It's just -" she hesitated, unsure how to phrase the question.
"I've been remembering all these things. Little things, mostly, incidents from years ago. I haven't thought about them for a long time. I don't even know what triggered it. But it seemed that once I started thinking about the first one, the others started making nagging uninvited appearances."
"Memories work that way sometimes Captain." The doctor shrugged. "If there's a period in our lives that we've been trying to repress, the memories can be associated with each other. Even if they aren't specifically related, accessing one can reawaken others that we thought were forgotten."
"I suppose so." She watched Chakotay distractedly, wondering why the recollections she'd been having for the past few days disturbed her so much.
"May I ask what these memories are about?"
Kathryn hesitated again.
"If it's none of my business - " the doctor began.
"No, that's alright. It's ... I've been thinking about the time that Chakotay... that the Commander and I spent on New Earth."
"New Earth?" The doctor frowned.
Kathryn bit her lip, slightly embarrassed at having to bring the incident up.
"When Chakotay and I were infected -"
"Yes, I remember." The doctor pursed his lips, thinking about his own involvement in those events. "Chakotay's illness now is of a very different nature, Captain. I'm fairly certain he wasn't bitten by any sort of bug, or parasite."
"I know that doctor. But seeing him lying here like this. It feels so familiar. And I don't like it."
"At least you're not infected this time too, Captain." The doctor settled down onto a chair.
"Yes." She paused, wondering why she was sharing these reflections with the doctor of all people. Now that she had started talking however, she felt the need to get the rest of her thoughts out into the open.
"I wouldn't say I was repressing those memories exactly, doctor, but I suppose..."
"We didn't really talk about it. Actually, take out the really. We didn't talk about it at all. Our experience on the planet, I mean. We came back to Voyager, we both just put our uniforms back on and went back to being 'Captain' and 'Commander'."
"I see." He thought for a moment, then asked the obvious question, "What did happen on the planet, if that's not too personal a query?"
Kathryn smiled. "No. Nothing happened. I mean, a lot of things... I mean, we were there for a while, just the two of us, but nothing -"
She faltered, then started again. "Chakotay took the whole thing in his stride. He did his best to make the best of the situation. It took me a little longer to accept the fact that this new planet in the Delta Quadrant would be our home now."
"But you did accept it."
"Eventually, yes," she said quietly. "I started to think about the future, and then -"
"Voyager came back," the doctor finished.
"Yes". She shook her head. "It was a long time ago doctor. I don't understand why I keep thinking about him... about it."
She bit her lip and flushed slightly, but the doctor ignored her slip of the tongue.
"All I can say, Captain, is that the experience obviously meant more to you than you ever admitted to yourself," he said gently.
She looked up at him quickly, then nodded.
"You know, I think it's the only time since we've been in the Delta quadrant that I haven't been 'the Captain'. It was - " she hesitated "- unusual."
The doctor opened his mouth to say something more, but was interrupted by the chirp of Kathryn's communicator.
"Captain," Tuvok's voice announced, "I have located the market place that the Commander spoke to you about, and have ascertained that he did indeed visit it alone after he parted company with the Gouyinn guide. Would you like me to lead an away team -"
"No, Tuvok, thankyou," she replied. "I'd like to go myself."
"As you wish."
She nodded to the doctor. "Thankyou doctor," she said, and began to walk towards the doorway.
"Captain". The doctor called out after her uncertainly.
"There was something else that I wanted to say." He hesitated for a moment. "What you said just now, about being the Captain."
Kathryn nodded. "What about it?"
"Perhaps you don't remember this, Captain, but a few months ago, we were talking about -" he paused to search for the right phrase "- our relationships with the characters in Fair Haven."
She nodded again. They had been walking through Voyager's corridors, moving quickly because she had been embarrassed by the conversation. She had tried to talk about it lightly. Still, the doctors comments had jarred, although she tried to keep her face neutral at the time.
"I said that you were the Captain, and that because of that there was nobody else on board you could have a relationship with."
She stared at him, wondering where this was going.
The doctor plunged on before he could lose his nerve. "I just wanted you to know that I don't really believe that."
Kathryn raised an eyebrow, nonplussed. "Then why did you say it?"
The doctor shrugged. "I thought it was what you wanted to hear. You seemed to want reassurance that having feelings for a hologram wasn't abnormal. Which, for obvious reasons, I agree with. But the rest of it was just extra justification I made up on the spot. I didn't really mean it."
"I see. Well, I'm sure you meant well," she said, noting that the doctors shoulder seemed to slacken with relief at her reply. "There was no harm done."
She nodded once more in his direction, then left sickbay.
The doctor began walking back to his office when a sudden thought struck him. He glanced speculatively at Chakotay's body.
"Surely it's not that?" he said aloud, then hurried back to his terminal and began typing furiously.
It didn't take long to find the stall Tuvok had described. Being late afternoon the market place was nearly deserted. The woman's table, with its hand-crafted wares spread out across a red sheet of silken material, nestled in one of the farthest corners.
"Excuse me", Kathryn said as she approached the table. "My name is Captain Kathryn Janeway, I'm from the starship -"
"Voyager", the woman finished. She smiled at Kathryn's surprised look. "I met one of your colleagues earlier in the week - Commander Chakotay. His uniform was the same as yours."
"Of course. That's why I'm here to see you."
The woman nodded. "I see. My name is Mara."
She cocked her head to one side and studied Kathryn for a moment.
"Your friend is ill," she remarked.
"How did you know that?"
"I can see it in your eyes," Mara replied. "How can I help you, Captain?"
"I'm not sure that you can. But we're trying to map all of the places that our crewmembers visited while they were here. Your stall was one of them."
Mara nodded again. "Yes. Your Commander Chakotay was interested in this item."
She pointed to a hand-carved pendant which appeared to be a pair of entwined roses.
"It's lovely", Kathryn said.
"Thankyou". Mara inclined her head. "But he didn't buy anything. He was distracted by a call from your other crewmember. I'm afraid I didn't see anything else after that. I was distracted selling a young woman a brooch."
Kathryn sighed. "Well, it was a long shot anyway. Thankyou."
"Your Commander, he is special to you I think," Mara said softly.
"He's special to all of us. Chakotay is an important member of our crew."
"But he is special to you more than to others." She smiled gently at Kathryn. "My people have a word for that kind of close bond, called 'Kurran'. I don't think it translates very easily."
Kathryn flushed. "Chakotay and I are just friends," she said. "Close friends, but just friends."
Mara shrugged. "That does not mean that he is not your Kurra", she replied.
Kathryn was unsure how to respond. After a moment she said, "Perhaps I'll buy this", pointing to the rose pendant.
Kathryn was slumped against the wall of the turbolift on her way back to the bridge when her comm badge sounded.
"Doctor to the captain."
"Captain, I think you should come to sickbay immediately. I may have the answer I've been looking for."
It took all of her self control not to sprint down the corridor.
"What is it, doctor?" she asked as she strode through the sickbay doors.
"Water captain", the doctor said, smiling for the first time in days.
The doctor filled a hypospray with a solution while he talked.
"After our conversation earlier I had an inspiration."
Kathryn frowned. "About memories?"
"No, about your previous illness. When you and the commander were infected you were able to survive on the planet because something in its atmosphere shielded the effects of the virus."
He moved to stand next to Chakotay's inert form.
"You said the Commander wasn't bitten."
"He wasn't," the doctor said. "But I got to thinking about the possibility of the virus being something that the Gouyinn population would be naturally immune to. I contacted the Medical Institute, conferred with a doctor there, then ran some further tests on the samples we collected."
He pressed the hypospray against Chakotay's neck.
"And?" she prompted.
"And I found that the virus the Commander contracted lives in the planet's water supply. But the population are naturally immune to its effects. Chakotay was not."
He sighed. "I just didn't think about testing the water the first time around. It wasn't until I had eliminated all of the other substances we knew he had come into contact with that it occurred to me. I mean," he gesticulated with his free hand, "its just water. How could it be harmful?"
He broke off as the Commander emitted a groan.
"The anti-viral agent is working", he said.
Kathryn leaned over the biobed.
"Commander", she said softly.
His eyelids flickered then opened. He stared up at her, blinking in confusion.
"Kathryn? Where am I? What-"
"You're in sickbay. But you're okay."
She smiled at him and patted his shoulder. "The doctor will explain. I'll talk to you later."
Although Chakotay recovered quickly from his prolonged period of unconsciousness, the doctor ensured he took the next three days off work. During that time Kathryn saw him briefly but was content to let him relax. In truth, she spent most of that time staring blankly into space, thinking about the memories she had been recalling all week. Wondering what to do with the feelings she was finding it increasingly difficult to suppress.
Chakotay stood in the doorway of the holodeck, looking about him in confusion at the sight of the program she was running.
He stepped into the holodeck and turned full circle, surveying the scene from New Earth that she had created.
"You said you wanted to talk to me. I didn't think -" he stopped and shrugged. "I didn't know you had this program."
"It's new," she said. "Come and sit down".
Kathryn gestured to the space next to her on the rock. Chakotay sat down next to her, drawing his legs up so they wouldn't hang into the river.
"You made the water level a little high", he observed.
"It's been a while."
"I wanted to give you this." She held out her hand, the rose pendant nestled in her palm.
"This is from the Gouyinn market," he said, picking it up.
"Uh-huh. I went down there when we were trying to find out what had happened to you. The woman there said you were looking at this." She shrugged. "So it's yours."
"Thankyou." Chakotay said, fingering the carving thoughtfully, then closed his palm tightly over it. He glanced around them. "So why are we here?"
"When you were sick, I had some of the strangest thoughts."
"About this place?" He seemed surprised.
"I started remembering things that I hadn't thought about for long time. So I thought, if we need to talk about things, why not talk here? This is part of the problem."
"It is? Kathryn, this," he gestured to the river, "was a long time ago."
"Yes, it was. But we didn't ever talk about what it meant. If it meant anything." She trailed off as though the sentence was a question.
"I think you know it did," he said softly.
"So why did we never talk about it?"
"I guess it was easier for us both to pretend that there was nothing to talk about. That nothing had happened," he said carefully.
"Nothing had happened," she echoed. "I suppose that depends on your definition of nothing."
"Well, in a way you could say 'nothing' did happen between us here. We were alone together, we grew close, but we never even kissed, much less slept together."
Chakotay sighed. "There's more to a relationship than that, Kathryn, you know that."
"I know," she agreed.
"Something did happen here. We were Chakotay and Kathryn. Not Commander and Captain. It changed things. Gave us a view of what things could have been like, if the situation was different."
"But then it wasn't," she said glumly.
"No, it wasn't."
They sat in silence, watching the water flow past in front of them.
"Look Kathryn, if you're asking me what I think of our relationship, you have to know how much I value our friendship. It's taken us a while, but I think we have something special."
"I agree," she said, feeling her stomach start to sink.
"We are in a unique situation on Voyager," Chakotay went on. "Who knows what might have happened if we'd been stationed together on some other ship. When I had feelings for you, I used to think about that."
She stared at him, startled both by his directness and his use of the past tense.
"Sure, why not? It happens. Captains and First Officers. They fall in love. They get transfers, they work things out. It isn't the worst thing in the universe. "
She frowned. "It would hardly be the worst thing in the universe if they stayed together."
Chakotay raised his eyebrows. "You'd sanction a couple commanding a ship together?"
"Well maybe not commanding one together. But people in command do have relationships with subordinates on their ships. Sometimes it works out."
"I guess Starfleet would like to pretend it never happens at all."
"I really don't give a damn what Starfleet thinks about it," she said angrily.
Chakotay seemed nonplussed at that. "Kathryn? I never thought I'd hear you say that".
"Oh, that's right, I forgot. I'm in love with the idea of Starfleet protocol."
"Well -" he hesitated, confused by her response, "- you've always insisted that we stick with Starfleet principles."
Kathryn poked her fingers irritably into a small hole in the rock but didn't reply.
"Kathryn? I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but you're the one who's always insisted on protocol between the two of us."
She looked up at him, but didn't respond.
"Mostly not in words, just in the way you behave. "
When Kathryn remained silent he plunged on.
"We'll get close, then you'll pull away. We'll get close again, then you'll draw the line again that we can't cross". He sighed. "It took me a while Kathryn, but I did get your message eventually. "
"So you gave up on me?"
Kathryn still studiously stared at the rock surface, her voice threatening to crack.
"What did you expect?" he said gently. "It's been six years."
"I know." Her response was so quiet he could only just hear her.
Chakotay tried to look at her face but she turned it away from him.
"Kathryn?" he said pleadingly. "Talk to me."
"I didn't expect anything," she said finally. "I just..."
"I just hoped."
Now it was Chakotay's turn for silence. He stared at the top of her bent head, unsure how to respond.
"I'm sorry, " she said. "You're right, Chakotay. About all of it. If we did have a chance, it was a long time ago. We missed it. And it was my fault. I'm sorry I brought this up. I don't know what I was thinking..." she trailed off.
"I'm not sure what you were thinking either, Kathryn."
She sighed, deciding that seeing as she had come this far, complete honesty couldn't hurt.
"I missed you."
"When I was sick?"
"Yes. But even before that. When you were away for a week, I missed you. And I started to think about things that I usually try not to think about. How much a part of my life you've become. What I'll do when this journey is over and you're gone."
"You think about that?"
"Of course I do. I love you, Chakotay. I've just been so busy running around it all these years I never stopped to consider that I could actually do something about it".
Chakotay blinked hard, dumbfounded by the turn the conversation had taken.
"And now I've left it too late," she continued. "Which is just typical for me. You know, I don't have the best relationship track record around. I just spent so long fighting against these feelings that I'd built up all these reasons why our relationship wouldn't work. I put all my effort into that, into not being distracted by you and those goddamn dimples of yours, instead of considering that it might actually work, and diverting my effort into that instead."
Kathryn broke off, aware that she was waffling, and that Chakotay was staring at her with his mouth slack.
"Chakotay?" she said.
"What did you say?"
"What do you mean, which part? The part where you said you love me."
"Oh that". Kathryn flushed. "Sounds like you heard that part just fine."
"I think I heard it. I thought perhaps I might be hallucinating. An after affect of the coma, perhaps. Or maybe I haven't woken up at all, and this is all a dream."
"It's not a dream Chakotay."
"It's not a dream", he repeated. "And you love me."
"Should I get the doctor to check your hearing?"
"No, I just... "
He closed his eyes and thought for a moment, then opened them again.
"So to summarize, you love me, you want to give a relationship between us a try? "
"Well I thought that -", she began.
"No." He held up a hand to stop her. "Just give me a yes or no answer, Kathryn. Yes, or no. "
"Yes," she said unthinkingly.
He blinked at her slowly, his eyes boring into hers.
"I think my heart just stopped," he said eventually.
"That wasn't quite the effect I had in mind."
He shook his head.
"I don't know what to say," he admitted.
She pressed her fingers on top of his.
"Say yes or no, Chakotay", she said softly.
A broad grin began to stretch across his face.
"Yes", he said simply. And he kissed her...
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