by myu

Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager and related trademarks are property of...CBS/Paramount now, I believe.  Not me, anyway.
Notes: A shortish post-Endgame (series finale) fic.
Rating: Suitable for all  

Version with 1.5 line spacing here.


The rain splattered on the window softly, running in faltering rivulets down the glass.  Outside the trees stood sodden, barks darkened by the pelting raindrops.  Kathryn Janeway sat motionless by the sill, watching tiny streams of water channel freely from the tips of the leaves and pool between blades of grass, and barely managed a whispered thanks when her mother set a teacup next to her.  Listlessly she held the cup before her, and a sweetish scent floated on the hovering steam around her face.  Her short sigh sent ripples fluttering across the liquid's surface, dispersing the reflection of a face filled with an impenetrable sadness that had manifested itself the day she returned home.

"Finally...finally." Kathryn had silently spoken the words over and over in thankful prayer with every last molecule of her being.  She had stepped off Voyager's landing pad as if in a dream - confetti fell in clouds of sparkling colour and flashes from holo-cameras glittered in her vision like a garish fairground of lights.  The merry-go-round of welcomes and congratulations spun faster and faster, she was twirling and giddy with happiness, and then...
Walking out of Headquarters into the quiet of the evening with the rest of the crew, everyone too excited to say goodbye as they headed for transports, she turned her head to smell the fresh air and saw it.  To her left, Chakotay and Seven were huddled together, stealing a soft kiss.  The merry-go-round stopped, the lights burned out and the faint lightheadedness was replaced with an empty cell in which her pulse echoed sluggishly and every crashing breath felt like her last.  Picking her way clumsily through the shadowy grounds of the forgotten fairytale, the rain began to fall and soon her body began to feel as numb as her heart.

Back in her mother's house, Kathryn found no comfort in the plump cushions nor warmth in the thick blankets scattered around the rooms.  Not wishing to interfere, Gretchen Janeway kept a close watch on her.  Kathryn seemed to want to do nothing more than stare out of the window, and it was all Gretchen could do not to weep at the sight of her daughter looking so utterly drained and vacant.  Kathryn paid no mind - as long as there was someone there to refuse invitations and make excuses to friends, the rest of the world could go to the gutter along with the flooding rain.  By the second week Gretchen pushed Molly's lead into Kathryn's hands and led her to the door wordlessly.

Outside the day was endlessly bleak as Kathryn plodded through the drizzle with the dog at her side.  Molly's red coat stood out in a burnt coppery mass on the grey path, highlighted beneath the murky sky.  The cold misty rain worked through the thin cotton pullover she wore and clung to her skin resolutely, chilling every pore.  She snorted bitterly, remembering a watercolour she had once painted back on Voyager of this area with the sun shining and the flowers standing smartly.  Feeling a little sick for home, she had mixed the colours carefully and squeezed every last thread of memory into each brushstroke, adding highlights and extra details until every petal seemed to bloom from the paper with life.  When it was finished she had shown it to Chakotay, who admired it so much that she eventually gave it to him.  He had claimed to like the colours...the vibrance, the beauty of the scene.  Now as she trudged past she observed the bedraggled flowers drooping under the weight of the dew they bore, the cheerful sun and clear skies replaced by a looming mass of falling cloud...it was all wrong.  Everything was upside down and inverted, and Kathryn lost her grip for a second.  The flowers were killed by the fog, the sky tumbled down into an empty abyss, she was desperately unhappy in the Alpha Quadrant...and Chakotay was with Seven.  She began running wildly.  She ploughed through the wilderness, indifferent to the mud splashing up her legs and the branches ripping at her frozen arms.  Before long she stumbled on a tree root and plunged downward through the mist, landing hard on her back.  Dazed, she blinked hard and saw only the sky hurtling down towards her with terrifying speed.  She flung her arms up and clawed the air frantically, trying to rip the descending heavens apart with her nails, trying to tear the picture from the backing.  Barely a moment passed before Molly pounced on her and she managed to regain her senses to some extent.  As soon as she was able to sit up she pulled the dog to her chest and buried her fingers in its familiar, if damp, fur.
Pushing past her mother at the door, Kathryn went straight to bed without troubling to change her damp, mud-splattered clothes.  She did not sleep that night.

The next week Kathryn was forced to attend a meeting with a board of Admirals at Starfleet with the other senior members of staff from Voyager.  During the long speeches and plan outlines she fidgeted with her padd and said nothing.  Making the effort not to look bored out of her skull was so tiring that she was almost driven to tears, and longed for the quiet solitude offered by her mother's house.  As soon as it was all over she left quickly and quietly, holding her breath in the hope that nobody had noticed her go.  The bad weather appeared to have followed her from Indiana, and the streets were deserted when she stepped out into the beginnings of a storm.  Kathryn decided to take a short walk to clear her head before heading for a return transport, although she wasn't much more than half a street away from Headquarters when she heard an all-too-familiar shout.
"Kathryn - Kathryn!" 
She walked faster, but the hollow thudding sounds of running footsteps gradually grew closer.  She closed her eyes tightly, feeling her eyelashes press into her cheeks as she waited for the inevitable - a strong hand grasped her forearm tightly and she dragged herself round to look reluctantly.
There Chakotay stood under a dripping umbrella, cheeks slightly flushed after his pursuit.  "I was calling you." 
Kathryn waved a hand and shrugged slightly, mumbling something about the rain and being preoccupied.  "No matter.  I have some temporary quarters near here - you can come back with me and dry out a little before the next transport."  
"No, thank you - I'm fine, really." Her own voice sounded so distant and foreign, she felt her stomach turn.  
"At least come back and borrow a warm coat.  You're not dressed for this weather." Chakotay surveyed her critically.  Kathryn couldn't reply - her throat was too tight.  "Kathryn, you're shivering."
Her head nodded hesitantly of its own accord and he guided her under the umbrella gently.  She twisted a finger through her mussed hair self-consciously and paced along with him stiffly as he led her through the soaked lanes and avenues. 

Kathryn retained an air of quiet detachment as they walked, remembering to nod occasionally as Chakotay related a little about his movements since they'd returned to Earth.  There was something about visiting his sister and some old family friends she only half-listened to as she wondered vaguely if Seven was anxiously awaiting his return.  She kept her replies to his questions short and non-committal almost to the point of rudeness.  When they reached his rooms, however, they were empty.  Chakotay promptly disappeared into the next room after handing her a cup of coffee from the replicator.  She stood holding the hot cup mechanically - she didn't want to tell him that since leaving Voyager she'd barely touched anything except the tea her mother placed in front of her a few times a day.  
"I'm sorry about the place - I'm waiting until I find something perfect to move into." 
Kathryn wasn't listening - she stood transfixed by one of the walls.  A painting hung there - a watercolour of the field back in Indiana.  Her watercolour.
It looked different than she remembered.  All of the fundamental elements were basically the same - the rows of flowers and plants, the image of the sun she had blotted over and over to achieve the right kind of effect...it seemed too pale, too blurred.  She suddenly recalled why she had given it away.  It wasn't different at all - the look of a watercolour simply wasn't right for her at the time.  The sight of the subtle hues seeping into each other wasn't sharp enough, and only served as emphasis that Indiana was nothing more than a fading memory while she was thousands of light years away in the Delta Quadrant.
Chakotay returned, busily shuffling through an armload of outdoor apparel.  
"Why did you keep that picture?" Kathryn's demand came abruptly, but softly.
"I like it," He replied simply, "I like the picture, I like that you painted it.  I liked the way you smiled when you gave it to me." He raised an eyebrow, "I haven't seen you smile like that many times.  In fact, recently I haven't seen you smile at all." The comment came with a quiet sharpness that jabbed something tender in her chest.  She turned to him slowly.
"Is Seven enjoying living here?" Her eyes were a little too bright, voice a little too high as she locked her elbows to stop her hands trembling.  His jaw tightened.
"I wouldn't know, because she doesn't live here."  He paused, his eyes moving over her, "We're not seeing each other anymore."
"Oh?" Kathryn managed through her clenched teeth.  Her hands shook slightly.  The coffee cup wavered dangerously as she set it down on the edge of the table.
"She ended it.  She knew I couldn't be with her when I loved somebody else."
"How inconvenient," Kathryn remarked rudely before she could stop herself, and knew she had gone too far.
Something in Chakotay's expression changed as the realization clicked into place.
"Judging by your reaction, I think you know who the other woman is." He snapped coldly.  He seized her hand and pushed his fingers roughly through hers, squeezing cruelly in mockery of the moment they had shared together so long ago on New Earth.  She felt wave upon wave of cold hurt rush within her until the tightness in her throat burst and a muffled scream ripped her lips apart.  She flexed her fingers and dragged her nails across his skin as she tore her hand away painfully.  Kathryn suddenly threw the full cup of coffee at the watercolour and they both watched the tepid liquid seep into the picture, darkening the pale colours to an ugly muddy brown.  She didn't wait to see the stray drips stain the carpet before she took off, running out of the quarters and thrashing through the building until she located the exit and rushed out blindly into the waterlogged street.  The storm had grown worse, and sheets of rain lashed her body as she thundered off down the pavement as fast as her legs would carry her.  She ignored Chakotay's yells behind her and tried to maintain her speed as the rain battered her face, mixing with the tears streaming down her cheeks.  She ran on until she approached a small dock where the waves crashed and foamed in a wild fury.
"If you jump, I'm diving in right after you!" 
She skidded to a halt at his warning and whirled around in a rage.
"Why?!!" Kathryn half-screamed, half-sobbed, raindrops and bitter tears cascading down her neck and splashing over her front.
"It was a mistake!  How was I supposed to know?" Caught by the never-ceasing drops, his roar seemed to fall into the ground and ricochet back up to hit her cleanly in the face.  
"You never even told me about her!" She threw back vehemently, hissing and spitting as the water poured over her lips.
"Like you rushed to tell me about that hologram?" 
"That - you're being ridiculous!  I couldn't have you -"
"You kept me at arm's length for seven years!  You can't possibly love someone and do that!"
"Then why does it hurt so much?!" Kathryn screeched, feeling something break inside her.  She bent over and gripped her knees, too tired and shamed to fight anymore.  "When did we get into this mess?" She murmured, Chakotay straining to hear her over the mixed pounding of the weather and his heartbeat.  She uncurled her spine slowly and looked at him through exhausted, drained eyes.  The water pooled around his feet and his clothes were completely sodden, chafing his skin as he stepped towards her and took her cold hand in his.  He caressed an angry welt there with his lips, and she dimly remembered scraping it on the catch of the old-fashioned gates outside his building as she had scrabbled with it in her haste to escape.  Likewise, she turned their clasp and traced the crimson scrapes her nails had dug through the back of his hand before finding his lips with her own in a tired, sad kiss, oblivious to the cold puddle swelling around their heels.  Neither spoke, letting the rain pour over them to blur and wash away the worst of the pain.  For now they were content to watch the water flow down to the ground and carry their mistakes into the drain.
Chakotay eventually led the way back to his temporary quarters, his arm encircling the drenched waist of a limp Kathryn.  Sometimes they stumbled along clumsily and other times they were in perfect sync, but Chakotay's firm grip and solid presence at her side only affirmed to Kathryn that the storm would cease, the rain would dry and sometime soon they would move out in step together towards a bright new day.

~ End ~

Additional notes: This was my second Voyager fic and was written during a break from working on my first, so it's actually my first completed Voyager fic.  The bulk of it was written in an evening and I was horribly lazy about editing, so not much has been changed from the original draft.  I'm afraid it's not very polished, but if I reread it once more I'll probably end up deleting the whole thing so I've left it for now.  Do point out any glaring errors to miss_myu@hotmail.com if you're so inclined.
As for the reason for writing this, I suppose I just wanted to write something sad.  I rather like rain - when I'm not outside getting soaked - and looked to a  poem I wrote in my mid-teens for inspiration (well, as much inspiration as some drivel about water and memory can provide).  The day after I wrote this the rain poured down, so I took that as a good sign and decided to post the story.  Thank you for reading!