The Art Of Stubborn Nobility
By Maquis Leader
Author's note: Thanks to Mitch for the last minute ship's names.
Author's note: Thanks to Mitch for the last minute ship's names.
Turning, Chakotay saw B'Elanna waving at him as she walked through the crowded spaceport. “B'Elanna!” He dropped his bag as she threw her arms around him.
“Oh, I’ve missed you, old man!” She hugged him fiercely.
“I missed you, too.” He grunted. “Watch the ribs – I’m not as strong as I used to be.”
“Liar.” Stepping back, she looked him over critically. He was leaner and tanned. Passing women were eyeing him speculatively. “You look great.”
“No more soft living.” He picked his bag up and slung it over his shoulder. “Where’s Miral?”
“Didn’t want to drag her into this mess.” Taking his arm, B'Elanna led him out of the spaceport. “You know, you could have transported to the house.”
“That would be rude.”
“Ok, the front lawn then.” She shook her head as they threaded through the groups of people – human and otherwise. “You could have come in on a Starfleet ship. McKinley station isn’t nearly this crowded.”
“Starfleet ships don’t carry civilians.”
“Chakotay, you’re not exactly a civilian.” She snorted. “You’re one of ‘Voyager’s heroes’, remember?”
“I don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of that, B'Elanna.”
“I noticed you didn’t mind the back pay.”
“I said it made me uncomfortable.” He grinned at her. “I didn’t say it was all bad.”
“So how was your trip?” B'Elanna keyed open the hatch on her ground vehicle.
“Typical. Boring.” He tossed his bag into the back seat. “Dinner at the Captain’s table and quaint little Delta Quadrant stories.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Where’s Tom?” Chakotay hated to admit it, but he had actually missed the younger man.
“At the studio putting the finishing touches on his current project.”
“Another Captain Proton adventure?” It seemed Tom wasn’t the only one who had a fondness for the 20th Century.
“Nope. ‘Kazon Deathtrap’ this time.”
“Let me guess – the intrepid young helmsman is the hero?” He laughed.
“You guessed it.” She laughed. “Who else?”
“I can’t believe he’s writing holonovels.” Smiling, he shook his head. “Guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“He was miserable, Chakotay. He took the posting on the Defender thinking it’d be perfect. Patrolling in system so he could be home every few days.”
“But he was used to the chemistry of Voyager’s crew – “
“And the excitement of the Delta Quadrant no doubt.” Chakotay grinned. “Home is nice – but awfully quiet.”
“Captain Sisney is one of those by the book Captains. Tom was bored and lonely.” B'Elanna laughed. “He said he actually looked forward to battle drills.”
“The Delta Quadrant is a hard act to follow.”
“So is Captain Janeway. Captain Sisney was an old fart.”
“Tom’s words or yours?” Chakotay had met Captain Sisney during his time in Starfleet. The man made burnt toast look exciting.
“Both!” She laughed. “Well, I thought he looked more like moldy Leola root.”
“What happened to designing shuttles?” He asked. “You wrote he’d been transferred to the COE to work with you.”
“Ah, now that – “ She gestured grandly. “Made us both miserable. They took our designs and turned them back into the standard clunky boxes!”
Chakotay laughed. “I hate to say I told you so – “
“But you told me so – I know!” She smacked the armrest of her seat. “The idiots! The Delta Flyer proved itself over and over, and they just don’t get it! ‘This isn’t the Delta Quadrant.’ They kept saying.”
“And nothing bad ever happens here.”
“They weren’t willing to use half my engine designs. Too new – too unproven.”
He could hear the hurt underlying her words. B'Elanna wasn’t kidding about being miserable. “Voyager made a 70,000 light year journey in seven years. I’d consider that proven.”
“And they wouldn’t even consider using anything with Borg technology.”
“They’re still afraid of it. Annika is having the same trouble with Starfleet Medical.”
“Annika?” She shot a sidelong glance at Chakotay. “I thought you and her weren’t together anymore.”
“Good. I mean – “ She looked at him again. “Oh, hell! I said good and I mean it. What did you ever see in her?”
“She’s beautiful, stacked, she was a virgin – “ He grinned. “What’s not to like?”
“Chakotay!” The vehicle swerved as she turned around in her seat to gape at him.
“What? You ask Tom where that ranks on a man’s list.” He laughed as she swatted at him.
“You’re a pig – all men are pigs!”
“She was interested, B'Elanna.” He sighed. “And I was lonely.”
“You could have – “
He knew where she was headed and quickly interrupted. “Annika and the Doctor are working with Dr. Zimmerman at Jupiter Station on a new EMH.”
“What happened to the Doctor’s ambition of writing the next great Terran holonovel?”
“He found out he doesn’t like being edited.” Chakotay smiled as he remembered the holonovel the Doctor had written while on Voyager. “I think he said they were ‘raping his work’ among other things.”
“He should hear Tom.”
“Not getting what he wants?”
“No, no – he gets what he wants. Sweet talks them around to his point of view.” She chuckled. “But at home? You should hear him.”
“Annika and the Doctor have been as frustrated with Starfleet Medical as you were with the COE. They don’t want to have anything to do with using nanoprobes.”
“I’m not too happy at the thought of the little buggers.” She shuddered dramatically. “But there’s so much you can do with them.”
“And they’re harmless – but the Borg still scares the hell out of everyone.”
“Even though they’re not a threat anymore?” B'Elanna made a disgusted sound.
“They’ll always be a threat, B'Elanna.” Voyager’s destruction of the Borg hub and the death of the Queen had devastated the Borg, but Chakotay knew the threat wasn’t over. “As long as even one ship is under the collective’s influence – they’ll be a danger to us.”
“Brr… thanks for the cheery thought, old man.”
“Sorry.” He patted her shoulder. “Tell me how things are going for you at COE other than the Borg issue.”
“Great, since I quit.”
“You quit?” It was his turn to be surprised. “When?”
“About three months ago. Told you I was miserable.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I did. If you’d check your mail more often…” She arched an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry.” He’d stopped checking his mail with any real regularity after it became apparent that Kathryn was not going to write to him. “So, what have you been doing? Did you go to Lockerby shipyards?”
“Nope. I’m doing nothing these days.” She said cheerfully.
“I am officially a stay at home mom. I cook, clean, and take of Miral. I even – “ She smiled broadly. “Plant flowers.”
Chakotay laughed at the image of B'Elanna planting flowers. “I can’t see you as the domestic type. Has Tom tamed you?” He teased.
“Hardly!” She tossed her head. “Klingons take child rearing very seriously, you know. My mother didn’t work until – well – so – Miral needs me.”
“Of course she does.” He said soothingly. He had caught the sudden jump in her words. “Are things still tense with your father?”
B'Elanna was quiet for a few moments, staring out the vehicle’s front window. Then she shook her head. “He wants to be a part of my life, Chakotay.”
“And you don’t want him to be?”
“No!” She sighed. “Kahless, that’s so petty, isn’t it?”
“Not at all. He hurt you – he abandoned you. It’s hard to forgive something like that.”
“I suppose I should though.”
“If it’s something that eats at you – then yes. Forgive him and let it go.”
“I honestly don’t think about him.” She shrugged. “Then he shows up – “
“And you’re angry?”
“Furious.” B'Elanna admitted.
“Have you told him?” When she nodded, he smiled. “Did you yell and throw things?”
“No!” She frowned at him. “Of course not!”
“Ah ha! The B'Elanna Torres I know never feels better until she explodes and breaks a few things!”
“You’re saying I should go all Klingon on him?”
“I think you should light into him like you did one of your crew that screwed up.”
“Except he isn’t one of my crew.” Her voice was soft.
“No, he’s your father. His duty to you was more important than any engine diagnostic.”
“True.” She was quiet for several moments, clearly thinking over what he’d said. “Okay, you’ve listened to me ramble on. What have you been doing? Besides not writing?”
“Nothing exciting. Building houses and fences. Cleaning up the mess the Cardassians left behind.”
“So how come you’ve sent me four letters in the past year?”
“I – “ He couldn’t tell her that he worked hard enough everyday to sleep each night without dreaming. “It’s hard work – long hours.”
“I bet.” B'Elanna rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you curious about how certain people are doing?”
“Yes, I am.” He nodded. “How’s Harry?”
She glared at him. “He’s very happy. He’s the Ops officer on
“I did, actually. Harry sent me a letter. Very short and very excited as I recall.”
“And there’s no one else you’re wondering about besides Harry?”
“Let’s see… Ayala went out on the Icehawk as head of Security. Tuvok retired and went back to Vulcan.” Chakotay smiled slightly. “I’ve received one letter from him. Very dry. And – “
“Oh, for God’s sake!” B'Elanna had reached the limit on her patience. “You know who I’m talking about!”
He watched the countryside flash by outside the vehicle. “So, how is she?”
“She’s great! She’s so happy! She loves being an admiral and getting her way.” B'Elanna said brightly.
“Oh. That’s – that’s what I thought.” He said softly.
“You big dope! She’s miserable!” She smacked his leg. “She’s lonely and she misses you.”
“Does she?” Chakotay couldn’t keep the bitterness from his voice. “Isn’t her new friend making her happy?”
“Jealous, old man?” She grinned. “And there is no friend. She’s dated a few times – the press had a field day and made it more than it was – but nothing you should worry about. They didn’t measure up.”
“I’m sure the Admiral is very happy in her new life.”
“Oh, brother.” Shaking her head, B'Elanna guided the car onto a country lane. “You’re both too stubborn for your own good. She wouldn’t say anything when she found out about you and Seven – and you wouldn’t admit you made a mistake.”
“It was too late, B'Elanna.” He sighed again. She wasn’t saying anything he hadn’t said to himself.
“Bullshit! It’s never too late!” She growled at him. “As long as we’re alive, there’s hope – isn’t that what you said to me?”
“This is different.”
“Whatever.” Turning the vehicle off the road and into a driveway, she shut down the engine.
Getting out of the vehicle, Chakotay hefted his bag over his shoulder. “Nice house.” He smiled approvingly at the two story house. It was elegant and simple, not quite what he’d pictured for Tom and B'Elanna.
“You like it?” B'Elanna grinned at him.
“Yes.” The clean lines of the house were welcoming and comforting.
“Mama!” A small girl came toddling from around the end of the house. She stopped when she saw the big man standing next to her mother. She regarded him solemnly for a moment before holding her arms out to him. “Up!”
“Looks like you have your mother’s temperament.” Chakotay laughed as he lifted Miral up into his arms.
“She never goes to strangers.” B'Elanna was surprised as her usually shy daughter wrapped her arms around Chakotay’s neck and kissed his cheek.
“I’m no stranger, I’m her uncle.” He kissed Miral’s forehead. “Miral, can you say Uncle – “
“Chakotay.” The voice was soft and husky.
Chakotay looked up to see Kathryn walking toward him. She was wearing a Starfleet uniform. She had discarded her jacket, grass stains covered her knees, and dirt was smeared on her shirt. Her auburn hair had come loose and straggled around her flushed and smiling face. He couldn’t remember when Kathryn had looked more beautiful. “Admiral.”
Her smile faded, and hurt showed in her eyes. B'Elanna took Miral from Chakotay. “Help Chakotay get settled, would you, Kathryn? I have an errand to run.”
Before Chakotay or Kathryn could say anything, B'Elanna had gotten into the vehicle and pulled away.
Kathryn shook her head. “I think we’ve been set up.”
“She asked if I could watch Miral.” She smiled crookedly. “And she came back with you.”
He could never resist that smile and he smiled in return. “She does have a habit of picking up strays.”
“Let’s get you settled.” She lifted his bag and then set it back down. “What do you have in there? Rocks?”
Smiling, he picked up the bag and followed her into the house. Inside, the walls were cool, dark paneling, and brightly colored rugs covered the floor. Chakotay caught a quick glimpse of photographs and pictures along the fireplace mantle before Kathryn led him upstairs.
“Here you go.” She turned on the light in the first room at the top of the stairs. She pointed out the doorway at the back of the room. “Even have your own bathroom.”
There was a bed with an old fashioned quilt and a large dresser. Chakotay set his bag on the dresser and ran his fingers admiringly over the dark wood.
Kathryn smiled, remembering Chakotay’s hobby of woodworking. “It’s been in the family for almost three hundred years.”
“It’s almost a shame to put clothes in it.” Taking his clothes from his bag, he laid them neatly in the drawers. Shaking the wrinkles out of his dress shirt, he looked around the room.
“Here.” She took the blue shirt, shivering as her fingers brushed his. Opening the closet, she took a hanger and hung the shirt up. “We’ll have to get this pressed before this weekend.”
When he didn’t answer, she shut the closet and watched as he put the last of his things away. The silence stretched out uncomfortably until she worked up the nerve to break it. “So, you came back for the reunion party?”
“Kathryn, you don’t have to stay. I’m sure you have something better to do.” Chakotay took his shaving kit into the bathroom. “Somewhere else to be.”
Kathryn stood next to the bed for a few moments. She and Chakotay had not talked since Voyager had returned home – except for matters directly related to the debriefing. The presence of Seven, and Chakotay’s open acknowledgement of his relationship with her, had seemed to signal the end of their friendship.
In the bathroom, Chakotay sighed as he heard Kathryn leave. What’s the matter with you? Mentally he kicked himself for adding more stones to the wall that had gone up between him and Kathryn.
The moment they returned to the Alpha Quadrant, Kathryn had changed, retreated behind the command mask and protocol. ‘Mr. Chakotay’ she had called him from the moment she ordered him to take the helm until the last time he’d seen her.
“Kathryn.” Chakotay smiled as her aide showed him into her new office. “Or should I say Admiral now?”
“Mr. Chakotay.” Kathryn didn’t look up. “I’m a bit pressed for time – is this something you can put in a report?”
“A report?” He glanced down at his plain clothes. “Kathryn, I’ve left Starfleet.”
“What?” That made her look up. “That – when?”
“Today.” He came around and sat on the edge of her desk. “I want to move on with my life and Starfleet isn’t part of it.”
“Not a part of it?” She echoed. “How can you give up your career?”
“It’s not important to me.” Chakotay reached out and took her hand. “It’s more important to be with the woman I love for the rest of my life.”
Kathryn jerked back her hand as if burned and went back to her report. “In that case, I hope you’ll be very happy.”
“If you’ll excuse me, Mr. Chakotay. I have a lot of work to do. My career is the rest of my life.”
The ring in his pocket suddenly felt like a lead weight. Chakotay stood up. “I’m sorry to have bothered you, Admiral.”
He walked out of her office and left Earth for Trebus as quickly as he could pack his things.
One reason he had come back to Earth for the Voyager reunion that Starfleet had set up was to try to repair his relationship with Kathryn. They might never become lovers now, but perhaps they could be friends once again. Instead, he’d become defensive and attacked her.
Flipping the lights off as he left the guest room, Chakotay headed downstairs. A cup of tea might soothe his frazzled nerves. His stomach rumbled, reminding him that it was long past lunch time. Mentally, he added a sandwich to the list.
The kitchen was easy to find. As he came to the bottom of the stairs, he could see a dining room and reasoned correctly that the kitchen would be close by. Stepping into the warm and bright kitchen, Chakotay stopped in surprise. Kathryn was sitting at a small table in an airy breakfast nook looking out the bay window.
A rush of warmth filled him at the sight. When she turned and smiled at him, the light glinted off the pips on her collar and the warmth drained away. “Isn’t there some work you need to do, Admiral? Some report that needs your attention?”
Kathryn looked down at her teacup, tears stinging her eyes. “Oh, Chakotay, how did we come to this?”
“Come to what?”
“We were friends.” She looked up at him. “Weren’t we?”
The smoky blue eyes were blurred with tears. His heart softened when he saw how sad and hurt she was. “Yes, we were friends. Good friends.”
When he sat down at the table, Kathryn poured him a cup of tea. “Is that what we were, Chakotay? All that we were?”
“What else could we be?” He watched golden honey drizzle into his tea rather than meet her eyes again.
“I thought – I hoped – “ She wiped a tear from her cheek. “I hoped we would be more someday.”
“I realized that when I saw you with Seven.” More tears slipped down her cheeks.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, Kathryn.” He held his hand out to her. “That was never my intention.”
“I know.” She clasped his hand tightly. “It’s my own fault for being so blind. I didn’t believe her when she told me. I wasn’t sure I believed it even when I saw the two of you together.”
“Who told you?” Frowning, he remembered Annika agreeing to not let anyone know until they both felt the timing was right. “Annika?”
“No, the Admiral.” Kathryn took a sip from her cup. She used her left hand, reluctant to let go of Chakotay’s hand.
“The Admiral? How did – oh.” A flush stained the high cheekbones. “Of course she’d know.”
“I’ve wondered a million times why she told me. It didn’t have anything to do with the situation, not really.” A smile crooked the corner of her mouth. “Maybe she was trying to kick me in the butt?”
“Could be.” Too many nights he’d lain in bed and pondered Admiral Janeway’s motives for traveling back in time. “I’ve always thought she had more balls in the air than we could see.”
“She should have known I’d be all noble and stubborn.”
“No – you?” He chuckled softly and squeezed her fingers.
Kathryn was serious, not sharing his laugh. “She should have known I’d do the same thing she did. Stand aside and lie to myself that the man I love would be better off without me.”
“She should have told me how she – you – felt. Been a little less noble and stubborn herself.”
“Now who should know better?” This time she did laugh.
For a moment, Chakotay studied the small white fingers curled around his own darker ones. Here was his chance to ask the question he’d crossed thousands of light years to ask. “Do you love me, Kathryn?”
“Yes.” Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. “But I know you – “
“Love you.” He said quickly.
“You said – “ Her heart thudded painfully. “You said it died.”
“I was just being noble and stubborn.”
“I’ve never found you to be stubborn, Chakotay.” One raven brow arched and she grinned. “Contrary – but never stubborn.”
Dimples flashed as he laughed. “You know me too well.”
“Better than I know B'Elanna, obviously.”
“Didn’t expect her to bring me home?”
“Klingon hospitality.” He shook his head. ”She won’t let me stay in a hotel.”
“Chakotay, she didn’t bring you home – she brought you home
“Oh.” A laugh burst from him. “I should have known the décor was a little too tasteful for Tom.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” She laughed with him. “B'Elanna confined his stuff to one room of their house. The ah… rumpus room? Whatever that is.”
“Why didn’t you say something when she said to ‘get me settled’?”
“Maybe I’m tired of being noble and stubborn.” Kathryn lifted a hand to his face.
“I am too. It gets lonely.” The black velvet eyes showed his loneliness and pain. “Too damned lonely.”
“It does.” Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to his. His tongue slid along her lower lip, coaxing her to open for him. Their tongues met and caressed softly and gently, both learning the taste and feel of the other.
“So…” Chakotay smiled and licked his lips as the kiss ended. “Does that mean I get to sleep in your room tonight?”
“Chakotay!” Kathryn laughed.
“Hey – no more noble and stubborn, remember?” He winked at her.
Laughing, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him again. “No more dancing around the issue? From now on we say what we feel?”
“Exactly.” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. “What we feel and what we want.”
“Then why are we still sitting here?” Her voice dropped down, low and husky. “Isn’t this the part where you sweep me up in your arms and carry me upstairs to make passionate love to me?”
The whiskey soft voice made Chakotay shiver. Getting up, he pulled her to her feet. “Actually, I imagined this.” He lifted her up and tossed her over his shoulder.
“Chakotay!” Kathryn laughed and smacked a hand on his ass. “Put me down!”
“Behave. And tell me where your bedroom is.” He walked out of the kitchen. “Or you’ll wind up on the table.”
“You wouldn’t!” When he stopped and turned back, she shrieked. “Third door on the left!”
“Good girl, we’ll try the table later.” Patting her bottom, Chakotay started for the stairs. Her giggles echoed down the stairway until the bedroom door closed behind them.