By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: What if Voyager didn’t come back in Resolutions?
“Kathryn, I need you.”
Kathryn looked up at the sound of Chakotay’s voice. He was walking up the path from the river. “You’re back early.” Standing up, she brushed the dirt from her hands.
He didn’t say anything as he dropped his tool bag next to the shed.
“Are you ready for me to help set the wheel in place?” She stretched a kink out of her back as she asked. Chakotay had been building a millhouse and waterwheel with the hopes that they could generate power.
“I’m done for the day.”
“Done? I thought – “ She noticed he was limping as he walked toward her. “What happened?”
“I got careless.” He grinned ruefully. “I didn’t double check to be sure a timber was braced well and it fell on me.”
“Chakotay, sit down!” She pushed him over to the bench he’d made for her at the edge of the garden and made him sit down. “Let me get the medkit.”
Chakotay rubbed the back of his head as Kathryn ran into the shelter. The timber had knocked him off his makeshift ladder and then fallen on him. He wasn’t sure his skull wasn’t cracked.
“You’re bleeding.” Kathryn snapped open the kit and took out the medical tricorder. “Bruised ribs, concussion – were you unconscious? How long?”
“I don’t know. A few minutes maybe.”
Her hands were trembling as she ran the neural regenerator over his temple. “You have to be more careful.”
“I’m sorry.” He sighed as the ache in his head began to fade. “I know better.”
“From now on, we work together on big projects.” The cut on his temple vanished under the glow of the dermal regenerator. “Take your shirt off.”
Slowly, he peeled his shirt off, wincing as the material clung to the cut on his shoulder. “Some of it is pretty heavy work – “
“I don’t care.” The cut on his back was nasty looking, and Kathryn could see there were splinters embedded in it. “You could have been badly hurt – laid there for hours.”
“You’re right. From now on, we’ll do things together.” He realized that Kathryn was shaken by what had happened. Her touch was gentle, and Chakotay closed his eyes and savored the feel of her fingertips on his skin.
They didn’t talk while she cleaned the cut out. Both were aware of the growing tension between them. It had been six months since Voyager had left them behind on New Earth. Nothing had been said since the night he had told her the story he’d made up to mask his feelings, but they were more conscious of each other with each passing day.
The golden skin was surprisingly soft, almost like velvet. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. Why was it so surprising that a man would have soft skin? The dermal regenerator healed the cut and she traced over the new skin with a fingertip. The urge to kiss the spot was almost overwhelming.
Chakotay hadn’t said anything more since the night he’d told her the beautiful story of the Angry Warrior. He hadn’t pushed her or tried to change her mind about the ‘parameters’ she had set up. He had been attentive. Friendly and open, not displaying his feelings but not hiding them either.
Contenting herself with smoothing a hand over the soft raven hair and patting his shoulder, Kathryn stepped back. “There you go, all better now.”
“Thank you.” He stretched and rotated his arm. “It feels much better.”
“Let me take a look at your leg.” She knelt in front of him and ran the scanner over his legs. “Your knee is going to swell.”
“I’ll be stiff and sore for a few days, but I’ll be fine. It’s a good lesson for me.”
“I think this is a wake up call, Chakotay.” Kathryn snapped the scanner shut. “You could have been badly injured and I wouldn’t have gone to check on you until lunchtime.”
“We have been a bit too complacent.”
“From now on, we work together on anything difficult or possibly dangerous. If anything happens to one of us, the other – “ She stopped.
“The other would be alone.” He could see Kathryn was more upset than she was showing. Standing, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “From now on, we wear our communicators and we take more care.”
“I’ve – I’ve gotten rather used to having you around.” She said softly.
Chakotay pulled her into his arms, gently, giving her time to pull away if she wanted. For a moment, she rested her head on his shoulder and her arms went around his waist. One big hand rubbed in soothing circles on her back while the other stroked her hair.
When she pulled away, she lifted a hand to his face and caressed his cheek. “Why don’t we take it easy the rest of the day? I’ll make lunch.”
“A concussion and poisoning all in one day? Sure you aren’t wanting the place all to yourself?” He grinned at her outraged expression.
“Just for that – “ She couldn’t help laughing. “I was going to suggest you soak in my bathtub, but now it’s off limits.”
“I’m too sweaty and dirty for your tub anyway.” He ran a hand through his hair.
Kathryn hadn’t noticed he was dirty; she’d been too busy trying not to stare at his bare chest and belly. “Go clean up. I’ll make you some soup and a sandwich. I can’t poison you with that.”
“I dunno.” The dimples flashed as he smiled at her.
“Go on!” She shooed him away.
Kathryn tossed restlessly in her bed. She was tired but couldn’t sleep. With a sigh, she sat up and leaned against the wall. The problem wasn’t that she was too tired to sleep, it was that she was too keyed up.
Her attraction to Chakotay had been growing steadily over the last few months. He was an undeniably handsome man, but it was his nature that appealed to her. Sweet and sensitive, he had done everything possible to make her comfortable in their new life.
A smile curved her lips. Sweet and sensitive, but there was also a sensuality simmering just below the surface. A very male sensuality. The black velvet eyes promised passion and pleasure.
Maybe it’s time to say the hell with the parameters, Kathryn. Closing her eyes, she imagined touching Chakotay, kissing him. They would make love slowly and tenderly. She smiled again as she pictured the two of them soaking in her tub.
Her imagination spun together images of their life to come. The house they would build overlooking the river, the big bed they would make love in every night, and the beautiful golden skinned children they would have.
“No, oh no.” A pain went through her as she remembered they could never have children. Not here. And there was no way to leave. Clasping her hands over her mouth to stifle her sobs, Kathryn lay back down on her bed.
On the other side of the partition, Chakotay listened to Kathryn crying and wondered if she would ever adjust to living on New Earth. He wanted to go to her, comfort her, but he was afraid she would retreat back behind the walls she’d slowly been taking down over the past months.
Rolling over, he sighed softly and tried to go back to sleep.
The next morning, Kathryn woke with a headache and dry, itching eyes. She felt groggy and clumsy from lack of sleep. Stumbling into the main room, she made herself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table.
Chakotay had already gotten up and left the shelter, but he had left her a bowl of freshly sliced fruit for breakfast. Smiling at his thoughtfulness, she picked up a piece of fruit and nibbled on it while she drank her coffee.
Waiting for the caffeine to kick in, Kathryn mulled over the dream she’d had during the night. She had been sitting at the shuttle’s controls watching Chakotay rock and sing to their baby. The baby girl had his golden skin and raven hair, but she was delicate and dainty like her mother.
Kathryn sat her cup down so quickly that coffee sloshed over the rim. They had been in the shuttle! The baby had been immune to the disease!
Jumping up from the table, she ran to the cabinets where she had stored her equipment away. Setting out the different pieces she would need, Kathryn felt a renewed sense of hope for herself and Chakotay.
Chakotay set the stringer of fish in the sink. The table was covered with Kathryn’s scientific equipment, much as it had been when they had first been stranded here. She was still in her nightgown and her hair hadn’t been brushed.
“Chakotay.” She looked up from her readings. “I think I’m on to something! I think I found a way to cure us so we can leave.”
“Kathryn, I thought we had decided it was pointless to keep searching for a cure.” He said gently.
“It is.” She hurried over to him. “I’m going at it from a different angle. There was this dream – I’m running the numbers – and I realized – I know it sounds odd – should have realized earlier – “
“Kathryn, calm down.” Her excitement was contagious and he couldn’t help smiling at her. “Just tell me.”
“Okay.” She squeezed his hands. “We need to have a baby.”
Chakotay’s knees gave out and he sat down on one of the chairs. Of all the things he thought Kathryn might say, this wasn’t on the list.
“There’s a 90% chance our child would have a natural immunity to the virus.” She pulled up the other chair and sat down next to him, taking his hands once again. “And there’s an 82% chance I could use the baby’s antibodies to develop a cure for us.”
“A child?” Jerking his hands from hers, he found his voice. “You want to breed a child?”
“It’s not like that.” She sat back in surprise at his tone.
“And what do you do if it doesn’t work?” He snapped. “Breed another?”
“No!” Kathryn shook her head. “Chakotay, no, it’s – “
“Do I perform the stud services on a schedule?” Anger boiled up inside of him. “Do we use the bed? Or do I just lay you across the table and mount you?”
Taken aback by his anger, she wasn’t sure how to answer. “That’s ludicrous! I only want – “
“Or do you want a sample in a cup? It is a scientific experiment after all!” Getting up, Chakotay walked to his area of the shelter and began throwing things into a duffel bag.
“What are you doing?”
Ignoring her, he continued to pack. He had to get away; he might strangle her if he didn’t. He had been a fool to think Kathryn had any feelings for him. For anything other than her damned ship.
“Chakotay, please listen to me.” Kathryn laid a hand on his arm. He spun around, teeth clenched and the black velvet eyes simmering with rage.
“Don’t. Touch. Me.”
She stepped back, a shiver of fear chasing down her spine. He brushed past her and jerked open the door to the shelter. “Where are you going?”
“I can’t stay here with you.” He stopped in the doorway, his back to her. “I can’t stay with someone who would consider breeding a child just to cure themselves of a harmless disease.”
“Harmless? We’re stranded here because of it!”
“And our child would be stranded here too – had you considered that?”
“There’s the shuttle.” Tuvok had left behind a shuttle behind for them to use. “They could leave.”
“And go where?” He turned to look at her. “We’re in a remote sector! Your beloved Alpha Quadrant is decades away!”
“I don’t know!” Kathryn waved a hand at her equipment. “I’m still trying to work it all out!”
“There’s nothing to work out. There will be no children.” Chakotay turned and walked away.
“Chakotay!” She followed him outside. “Chakotay! Please, just listen!”
He ignored her, stalking off down the path toward the river until he was out of her sight.
Frustrated, Kathryn went back into the shelter and sat down at the table. She had assumed Chakotay would be as excited and thrilled as she was at the possibility of leaving the planet.
Could it be he doesn’t want children? She shook her head. Chakotay was carving – had been carving a cradle for Sam Wildman’s baby. Maybe he doesn’t want – She shook her head again. He wanted her, that much was plain.
Rubbing her aching temples, Kathryn went back over the argument, trying to pinpoint where she had went wrong. Personal relationships weren’t something she was good at. To date, she had had only three men in her life. Dating had always been an awkward and painful experience. She invariably put her foot in her mouth at some point.
Replaying the conversation, she realized with a start that Chakotay thought she wanted his child only as a means to leave New Earth. He had no idea that she had fallen in love with him.
“Oh, no.” Tears sprang to her eyes. “Clumsy, clumsy! Kathryn, you clumsy fool!”
Pushing away from the table, she rushed outside and down the path to the river. Reaching the small landing Chakotay had built, she stopped and looked up and down the river bank. There was no sign of him.
The mill was perched on the bank upstream, and she ran up the path and inside the small building. “Chakotay!” There was no answer, and the mill’s two rooms were empty.
“He’ll cool down and come back.” Kathryn told herself as she walked slowly back to the shelter. “He’s got every right to be angry, but he’s a reasonable man. He’ll calm down and we can discuss this in a calm and rational manner.”
“Stubborn man!” Kathryn growled as she looked at her tricorder readings. “You’re being totally unreasonable!”
She had waited patiently for two days for Chakotay to return to their shelter. Almost patiently. Most of the time. From time to time, Kathryn had wandered down to the river and a few places she knew Chakotay loved to sit and meditate. So far, she had seen no sign of him at all. It was almost as if he’d vanished.
“Well, I’ll find you now, Mister. You can count on it.” Using the shuttle’s sensors, she had pinpointed Chakotay’s location, and after programming the coordinates into one of the tricorders, she set off at a determined walk.
Two hours later, hot and dirty, Kathryn found Chakotay. He was standing waist deep in a quiet pool of water. Muscles rippled under the golden skin as he wiped water from his eyes.
“I wondered how long it would take you to find me.” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “Weren’t the tricorders working?”
“I was giving you a chance to cool down.” She snapped the tricorder shut and tucked it into her belt. “I’m surprised with all your Maquis training that you let me sneak up on you.”
A laugh burst from him. “I heard you coming a mile off.”
“I need to explain – “
“I don’t want to hear it.” He shook his head.
“Is the water warm?”
“Is the water warm?” Kathryn sat down and pulled off her boots. “I’m filthy.”
“Go use your bathtub.” Chakotay watched as she stood and pulled her pants off. “Is this supposed to be a seduction?”
“Is that what you think?” Jerking her shirt off over her head before she lost her nerve, she dropped it on her discarded pants.
“If it is – I’ve seen it done better.”
“Pardon me for not being a femme fatale.” Testing the water with her foot, Kathryn found it was cool but not cold. “I skipped those classes at the Academy.”
“Kathryn, I’m not playing your game.” Chakotay backed away as she walked toward him. “You want sex? Fine, but I won’t give you a child.”
“What I want is for you to listen to me. Just give me a chance to explain.” She waited and when he said nothing she tossed her pride away. “Please?”
Her eyes did him in; the smoky blue eyes were full of desperation and fear. “Tell me.”
“I’ve been thinking about you more and more lately. Becoming more attracted to you.” She confessed. “I knew that sooner rather than later we would become lovers.”
“No joke?” He snorted. “I’m the only man on the planet. Who else are you going to fuck?”
Ignoring his crude remark, Kathryn continued. “I dreamed we had a child, a beautiful child. It was wonderful, Chakotay, I hated to wake up. Then I remembered in the dream we had left here – that our baby was immune. So I started researching to see if – if maybe it would work.”
“And came up with your baby breeding scheme?”
“I would never have a child for a reason like that.” She stepped closer. “I want children, Chakotay. Your children.”
“We can’t have children.” His heart ached. Having a child was something he desperately wanted. But it could never be. “Not here.”
“We can. If they’re immune, then they can leave.” Sensing the struggle within him, Kathryn felt a surge of hope. “Even if we can’t ever leave, they can!”
“And go where? To the fabled Alpha Quadrant? In a short range shuttle?”
“Chakotay, do you honestly think I’d send our children on some fool’s errand?” She laid a hand on his arm. “There were plenty of planets Voyager passed where we could have stopped and settled. They could –“ A sudden thought hit her. “The 37’s! They could go there!”
“I need – I need to think about this.” Chakotay ran a hand through his hair and tugged thoughtfully at his earlobe. “This isn’t something I can make a quick decision about.”
“I understand. All I’m asking is that you think about it. Help me as you always have. Help me figure out if we should do this or not.”
For a long moment, Chakotay looked down at her before finally nodding slowly. “I’ll think about it.”
“That’s all I ask.” Lifting a hand to his face, Kathryn touched his cheek with her fingertips. The words ‘I love you’ were on the tip of her tongue, but she knew now was not the time.
Chakotay watched as she climbed out of the pool, dressed, and walked away. In his heart, he knew Kathryn wasn’t the type of person to do such a terrible thing as conceive a child for a scientific experiment. His pride had been wounded and he had lashed out.
Sighing, he got out of the pool and sat on a grassy patch in the sunlight. Opening his medicine bundle, he took out the objects within and placed them gently on the soft fur. Laying his fingers on the akoonah, he took several deep breaths and let the vision fade over him…
“What are you doing?”
Chakotay’s eyes snapped open, and he looked up to see Tom Paris smirking at him. “Did Voyager come back?”
“Are you kidding?” The younger man grinned and carefully lined up a shot. A multicolored ball dropped into the corner pocket. “With Captain Bligh at the helm? Not a chance.”
Looking around, Chakotay found he was in Sandrine’s, the holoprogram that Tom had created. For a moment he’d thought Voyager had returned.
“Nope. Good thing too, what with you being naked and all.” Tom grinned.
“You’re not Tom Paris.” Spirits could take any form, but generally preferred animals. Or the aspects of those who were dead. A sudden dread clutched at his heart. “Are you – are you dead?”
“No.” Another bright ball rolled across the green felt and dropped into a pocket. “I thought this form was appropriate.”
Tom Paris? Appropriate? “You’re Coyote?”
“Could be.” The baby blue eyes were full of mirth. “Might be. Maybe.”
“Are you telling me to beware of tricks?” Coyote was a trickster and mischief maker. “Is Kathryn lying to me?”
“Is that all you can think of?” Sighing, Tom leaned against the side of the table and casually chalked his cue. “Did I not bring fire to Man? Did I not bring tobacco?”
“Yes.” It was true, Coyote was also a very giving spirit. He laughed, Paris was very appropriate. “I thank you for your gifts and ask you to forgive my narrow mindedness.”
“Ah, forget it.” Shrugging, Tom turned back to the table and began pulling balls out of the pockets and rolling them toward the center of the table.
Chakotay watched as the balls rolled and curved about each other until they formed an intricate pattern. There was something vaguely familiar about it.
“Here.” Tom held out one of the balls.
Taking it the black ball, he stared at it. “Are you saying – “ He looked up. Tom – or was it Coyote – was gone. Walking to the table, he looked again at the pattern the balls formed. It came to him suddenly. It was the double helix, the distinctive pattern of human DNA.
“I don’t understand.” Frowning, he studied the balls. They were typical billiard balls, although there were far too many of them. Except for one at each end, which were oddly colored. Carefully he examined them. On one was an image of Kathryn and on the other an image of himself. “Kathryn and I – our genes blended? What?”
There was a gap missing in the center where one line curved over the other. A ball was missing. Carefully he set the 8 ball into the empty space. Now the strand was perfect.
Light flared up suddenly, blinding him, and he heard Tom laughing.
Opening his eyes, Chakotay laughed and shook his head. Of course!
“Mind if I come in?”
Kathryn looked up from the tomatoes she was slicing to see Chakotay standing in the doorway. “You’re just in time for dinner.”
“I see.” He smiled. “Should I come back when it’s safe?”
“Very funny.” She rinsed her hands off and dried them on her apron. “Guess I’ll feed your lasagna to the monkey.”
“Lasagna?” His stomach rumbled. Kathryn wasn’t the best cook in the galaxy, but she made a mean vegetarian lasagna.
“It’s got about a half an hour left.” Carefully, she broached the subject of her research. “I’ve gone over the numbers again, just to be certain.”
“I’m sure you’ve been careful.” Chakotay went to the workstations she had set up on the table.
Kathryn waited nervously while he scrolled through the test results. Since talking to him, she had gone over the data, meticulously looking for anything she might have missed or variables that might have been overlooked.
“I’m not the scientist you are.” He shook his head. “The numbers are good and solid. It does look as if you’re right.”
“But?” There was hesitation in Chakotay’s voice.
“I can’t just – make a child with you.” He turned to face her. “I have to know, Kathryn, how you feel about me.”
“I – I’m not sure.” The feelings were still new and fragile. She was afraid to share them. Afraid they would burst like soap bubbles.
“I can’t conceive a child without love.”
The longing in the black velvet eyes drew her to him. Placing a hand on his chest, Kathryn smiled. “I do love you, Chakotay. Even before you told me your beautiful story.” He ducked his head as if embarrassed, and she chuckled. “I’ve cried myself to sleep so many nights. I’d imagine us having children and then remember that we can’t.”
“I knew you were unhappy.” He looked up at her. “I thought it was because you were unhappy to be here with me.”
“No, never.” Lifting a hand to his face, she caressed his cheek. “You’re what makes this bearable.”
“Only bearable?” He teased.
“Let’s just say I’m forever grateful not to be stranded here with Neelix.”
Picturing Kathryn stranded with the talkative Talaxian, Chakotay smiled. He caught her hand and kissed her palm. “I need time, Kathryn. Just a little time to get used to this.”
“It’s not like we can have a baby tomorrow.” The corner of her mouth crooked up in a grin. “I hear it takes time.”
“I need time to build a relationship. I need the romance and the time alone together before we have a child.”
Laughter bubbled up. “Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”
Laughing with her, he moved closer and slowly lowered his lips to hers.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s a plane – I think.”
Amelia watched the silvery craft as it circled closer. “Come on, Fred, it looks like one of those little planes Voyager had.”
Together they ran to an empty field just outside of town, reaching it just as the small ship settled delicately onto the ground. Her hull was pitted and scarred, and black marks bore testament to the rough ride through the planet’s hostile atmosphere.
The back of the ship opened and a ramp dropped down. Amelia smiled as Kathryn Janeway came out. “Change your mind, didya?”
“Had a change of plans, actually.” Kathryn smiled in return. She turned and took the small bundle from Chakotay. “Do you have room for three more?”
“Of course we do.” Amelia pulled back the blanket to stroke the baby’s golden cheek. “She’s a pretty little thing.”
“Takes after her mother.” Chakotay laid a hand on Kathryn’s shoulder. “Beautiful and temperamental.”
“Hear now!” Amelia grinned up at him. “You’ll end up sleeping on the couch!”
“I can vouch for that.” Fred clapped Chakotay on the back.
“What’s her name?” The deep brown eyes captivated Amelia as the baby blinked sleepily.
“Hope.” Kathryn smiled up at Chakotay. “She’s our Hope.”