Leave The Past Behind
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: After Endgame, my favorite epi to play in. I'm Movin On written by Phillip White and D. Vincent Williams, performed by Rascal Flatts. Not a song fic, don't panic!
Voyager had been officially home for one week. Unofficially, the crew was just now leaving the ship. The transporters had been working in a steady rhythm, beaming away possessions and friends. Outside the ship, a constant stream of shuttles ferried those whose families were far away out to starships ready to rush them on the final leg of their journey home.
To everyone’s relief, the briefings had been brief and the official formal functions had been few. Unofficial informal functions had run night and day, and every door on Voyager had been propped open at one time or another to let the good times roll in and out.
There’d been plenty of work to keep the senior staff busy. Seven years of logs, reports, and explanations had to be sliced, diced, and disseminated. B'Elanna had been the only one not run ragged, granted the luxury of ducking out to take care of Miral when she’d had enough.
The Voyager Maquis were officially pardoned within hours of their landing at Starfleet Headquarters. Kathryn and Chakotay had let the Federation president join their hands and lift them up for the crowd to see. Holo imagers had captured the event for history.
It was the last time Kathryn and Chakotay had been close to each other. They had been too busy to talk, kept apart by meetings and appearances at various gatherings. Even with Voyager now home, they felt a duty to their crew to hit as many of the celebrations as possible, and splitting the ship into halves allowed them to cover more ground.
At the official functions, Chakotay had felt uncomfortable approaching Kathryn with Seven on his arm. Kathryn had been too unsure of the smile plastered on her face to get close enough to the couple to see if it would slip.
Chakotay sighed as he packed the last of his belongings into a duffel bag. The majority of his things were already boxed up and being loaded on an anti grav unit by a pair of crewmen.
He’d been to see Seven this morning, after yet another night of tossing and turning. Unable to sleep, he’d sought answers in a vision.
A long hall with exhibits. Himself as an angry young man. The Starfleet officer eager to prove himself. The teacher passing on his dream to the next generation. The angry Maquis warrior. And Starfleet officer yet again.
The gray wolf sat beside the last exhibit. As he approached, she got up and trotted off.
Following her path, Chakotay found that the rest of the displays were empty. There was a layer of dust on the plaques, and he wiped it off of as he went by. Wife. Family.
A chill wrapped around his body as he followed his spirit guide past the empty displays and into a large room. There was a dais in the center with a large plaque.
Walking to it, he wiped the dust away. Legacy. In the middle of the dais was a box.
He had to pull himself up as the she wolf laughed, her tongue lolling out. “You could help.” Chakotay grunted as he swung up onto the dais.
“I am helping.” She flicked her tail.
The box was empty. “There’s nothing here.”
“What did you expect?”
“I – I don’t know.” Chakotay frowned, turning the box upside down and tapping the bottom. A piece of paper fluttered out. “Wait, there is something – “ It was his Starfleet record. “Oh.”
“Not what you wanted?” She grinned, exposing sharp ivory fangs. “But you are the fine Starfleet officer. Isn’t that what you want them to remember?”
“Of course, but – “ There was something stuck in the bottom corner of the box. He pried it out. It was a picture of him and Kathryn, the Federation president holding up their joined hands. “This is – is – “
“Not what you wanted?” The wolf’s jaws snapped shut.
“But there’s nothing else.” He felt like a child wanting more presents on his birthday. “Am I nothing more?”
“What more would you be?” Gathering herself, the wolf leaped up on the dais.
“I don’t know. Just – “ The box was truly empty now. “More.”
“Your life is not over, Chakotay.” Nuzzling his cheek, she nipped affectionately at his ear. “What you leave behind depends on what you do on the road ahead. You must move on to find it.”
“My past has earned me nothing.” He said dejectedly.
“Perhaps.” She yawned, pink tongue lolling out. “But the past cannot be changed.”
“But the future?” Chakotay looked back at the empty, dusty displays. “That can be changed?”
“Not changed. Made.” Rolling over, she stretched out. “You worry too much about the past, Chakotay. Your life passes by while you are trying to carry the burden of your past decisions with you.”
Scratching the soft gray belly, he thought about that while the she wolf sighed contentedly.
Chakotay placed his medicine bundle into the duffel bag. Seven had understood when he had told her that he felt they weren’t compatible in the long run. She had actually seemed relieved.
He smiled at that. His ego had been stung that she had already reached that conclusion. A part of him had wanted to immediately say they could make it work.
Seven had given him a kiss, holding him tightly for a long moment before letting him go. Then she had told him to talk with Kathryn.
“It’s too late, Seven.”
“You are being stubborn.” A smile curved her lips. “Both of you are of a similar temperament.”
The smile was still amazing. Seven had changed in the last week, becoming more open and responsive. Her newly released emotions sometimes got the best of her, but it was a change that everyone had found delightful. “She’s stubborn, I’m contrary.” He had corrected out of habit.
She’d laughed, despite not understanding the joke. “I wish you happiness, Chakotay.”
Happiness? Chakotay wasn't sure he could reach happiness. Guilt was still dogging him this afternoon, despite his resolve to move on. The feeling that he had betrayed Kathryn refused to go away.
It had been in the back of his mind, but he hadn’t seen the dates with Seven as anything serious. She was finally trying to interact more with the crew, and it had seemed harmless enough to help her since it had been his idea in the first place.
A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. He had never been one to pass up a kiss offered by a beautiful woman. A few kisses hadn't seemed to matter in the scheme of things.
Admiral Janeway had changed everything. According to Seven, the Admiral’s implication was that they had gotten considerably more serious than just a few light kisses.
Another smile, broader this time. Knowing Kathryn, she was pulling out all the stops to get things her way.
“Sir?” Ensign Ashmore stuck his head through the open doorway. “We’ve loaded your things, sir. Do you want us to beam them to the quarters Starfleet assigned you, or is there somewhere else you’d rather have them sent?”
“The new quarters will be fine, Ensign. Thank you.” There was nowhere else to send them. Once upon a time, Chakotay had imagined his things would go with him to Kathryn’s house, but now he knew that had been nothing more than a wishful dream.
“Sir, do you want us to take those bags as well?” Ensign Ashmore pointed at the two bags sitting on the bed.
“I’ll carry these.” Chakotay told him. “They’re – special things.”
“I understand, sir. I’ve got a few things like that myself.” Ensign Ashmore came into the room and extended his hand. “It’s been an honor to serve with you, sir.”
“You too, Ashmore.” The name came easily as he shook the man’s hand. Seven years of duty rosters and evaluations had imprinted the name of every crewmember firmly into his memory. “I appreciate you taking care of my things when you need to get your own things ready.”
“It’s all right, sir. My stuff only had to go as far as Kansas. My mother probably has everything unpacked by now.” The man grinned as he went back into the main room.
Chakotay followed him. There were only a few items left to pack, small mementos gathered over the years.
The other crewman set the last box on the antigrav unit. “All done, sir.”
“Thank you.” Chakotay held out his hand and the ensign shook it. “Glad to have had the honor of serving with you.”
“Oh no, sir.” The ensign’s face flushed. “I’d rather not have spent seven years in the Delta Quadrant – but there’s nobody I’d rather have served with than you and Captain Janeway.”
“Thank you.” Chakotay felt his own face grow hot and was thankful for his dark complexion. “I’ll tell the captain you said that.”
“Maybe we can try a cruise in system next time?” Ensign Ashmore said as he turned on the antigrav unit.
“And miss all the fun?” Ensign Parsons joked as they guided the unit with Chakotay’s things out into the corridor.
Gathering up the last few items, Chakotay put them in one of the bags he had replicated earlier. The last thing he packed was a framed set of blueprints. He ran a fingertip over the blue lines under the glass.
Kathryn had given him the plans to the sleek little boat they’d planned to build on New Earth. She’d told him that when they got home, they could build it and sail on Lake George.
For a long time the plans had represented the future. As the years passed, it had faded to hope and finally to nothing more than a fond memory and the occasional wonder of what might have been.
Wrapping the frame carefully in the padding he’d replicated, Chakotay tucked it into the bag and zipped it shut. He’d hang the blueprints on the wall of wherever he settled.
Looking around his quarters one last time, Chakotay turned and walked away.
I've dealt with my ghosts
And I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your
Moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame
Trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on
Kathryn kept the smile fixed firmly in place as she walked down the corridor, maneuvering around antigrav units and crewmembers carrying boxes and bags. She returned their greetings and wished them well automatically and without thought.
Once inside the turbo lift, she relaxed against the back wall and stared at the small box clutched in her hand. Her knuckles were white, she was gripping it so hard. Admiral Paris had slipped it into her hand after their last briefing.
“Just a formality.” He’d said. “Once you get settled, we’ll help you set up your staff.”
Everyone assumed this was what she wanted. A bitter laugh escaped. The crew kept congratulating her and telling her how happy she must be. “Must be? Have to be.” Another laugh, more bitter than the first.
Her crew assumed she wanted to be an admiral. She had once, but after seeing Admiral Janeway – no more. Kathryn looked at the box again. What she really wanted was to throw off the burden of command. It was like a yoke around her neck, and only by adding tritanium to her spine as the years went by had she been able to carry it.
The lift stopped and she straightened, fixing the smile back into place on her tired face as the doors slid open.
Again there were the smiles and congratulations. Kathryn smiled and returned hugs and handshakes. All the familiar faces blurred together until they all looked the same. She could have shaken hands with the Borg Queen for all she knew.
“Congratulations, Captain!” Chell shook her hand vigorously. “We all know you’ll be a wonderful admiral! It’s what you’ve always wanted, and you deserve it!”
The other crewmembers in the corridor nodded in agreement and applauded. Kathryn felt a surge of rage. They didn’t know her at all. None of them. They’d placed her up on a pedestal, and all they knew was the image.
An angry retort sprang to her lips, but she bit it back. How could they know her? She had built up the image for them, and they wouldn’t let her change it now.
Still smiling, Kathryn escaped into her quarters. Earth was turning in the view port but it didn’t feel like home anymore.
I've lived in this place
And I know all the faces
Each one is different
But they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up
Where I don't belong
I'm movin' on
Kathryn sighed as she packed the last of her belongings into a duffel bag. The majority of her things were already boxed up and being loaded on an antigrav unit by a pair of crewmen.
It was ironic how homesick she felt. Outside the view port, Earth turned slowly, the sight she’d longed to see for years. And yet she felt sad. Voyager had become her home, and she felt more at home here than any house she’d ever lived in. Except for a certain small and cramped shelter on New Earth.
If she were honest with herself for a change, Kathryn had to admit that the small, empty feeling inside of her wasn’t because she was leaving Voyager. She was happy to be home at last; this just wasn’t the homecoming she wanted.
She’d always had a vision of coming home with less of a bang than they actually had, albeit just as triumphantly. And while the visions of exactly how they'd bring Voyager home had varied over the years, there had been one constant – Chakotay would be at her side.
Instead, Chakotay was with Seven. He hadn’t been at her side at all, not even as her first officer. Kathryn’s chest hurt at the memory of turning to find him smiling at Seven.
When had Chakotay stopped loving her? Kathryn packed the small medicine bundle he’d helped her to make. Inside of it was the rosebud he’d given her and a rock from the place they had liked to swim on New Earth. When had it turned to merely friendship, and why hadn’t she noticed?
Kathryn sighed again. It was too late now at any rate. Lifting her watercolors from the drawer in her closet, she frowned when she saw how they’d dried out and cracked. Much like her heart.
In the drawer was a watercolor book, and she flipped slowly through the thick pages. Most had been done on New Earth. Chakotay had surprised her by replicating the book and the paints not long after the storm had smashed all her equipment and she found herself with time on her hands.
A smile crooked the corner of her mouth as she remembered scolding him for wasting their precious energy on something so frivolous. The dimpled smile had been irresistible and she had hugged him, savoring the feel of his firm body against hers before she’d stepped back.
The monkey laughed out of one page and her Talaxian tomatoes flowered on another. Kathryn stared at the picture of Chakotay sitting in front of their shelter. She’d done her best to capture the grace of his hands as he carved a piece of wood.
The book closed with a snap. She had done exactly what Chakotay had said she would do. She had sacrificed her present for a future that hadn't happen. Or at least hadn't happen quickly enough. For poor Admiral Janeway, it had never happened at all.
At least she was better off than Admiral Janeway. Chakotay was alive in the here and now. For the admiral, Chakotay had died years before. No doubt even the admiral would agree that it was far better that Chakotay be alive and with Seven than for him to be dead.
Putting the watercolors and the book into one of her duffel bags, Kathryn resigned herself to the sadness within her. Maybe in time she would feel better. One of her grandmother’s sayings came to mind. “Maybe frogs will grow wings so they don’t bump their ass when they hop, too.”
The crewmen’s conversation drifted to her through the open doorway, her name catching her attention.
“Who would have figured the commander would end up with Seven?”
“Not me, I had a month’s rations down that he’d hook up with the captain the minute we got home.”
Me too. Kathryn thought sadly.
“Come on.” Ensign Trunari set a box on the lift. “The two of them belong together – I never figured out why they didn’t go ahead and say to hell with the rules.”
“Water under the bridge now.” Ensign Molina picked up a box from the desktop and set it carefully into place. “They blew it. How stupid can two people be?”
That stung, and Kathryn started toward the doorway to let them know she was there and that she was still the captain and she still wasn’t saying to hell with the rules.
“They’ve got a shot – he dumped Seven.”
“What?” Ensign Molina’s voice echoed Kathryn’s own surprise.
“This morning.” Trunari said. Ensign Lang had been in the cargo bay and had heard the couple talking. She'd been more than happy to pass the news to Trunari. He secured the boxes on the unit. “They agreed it wasn’t going to work and broke it off.”
“Good.” Switching on the antigrav unit, Ensign Molina guided it out into the corridor. “Maybe he and the captain will get together now.”
“Let’s hope so. But those two are both stubborn as hell. I bet they never even told each other – “
The door closed on the rest of his words, but Kathryn could guess them easily enough. She’d arched an eyebrow at the stubborn comment, but she had to grin and admit to herself that it was certainly true.
Zipping up the duffel bags, Kathryn hefted them onto her shoulder. She was going to see Chakotay and tell him how she felt. She'd tell him that she loved him and ask if there was any chance left for them. "I may be stubborn, but I'm not stupid." Without a backward glance at her empty quarters, Kathryn walked out into the corridor.
Chakotay's door was open, and she walked in. "Chakotay? Chakotay, are you here?" His quarters were empty, and all of his things were gone. "Well, there's your answer, Kathryn."
Starfleet had offered Chakotay a captaincy and the chance to resume his career at the Academy; it appeared he was anxious to get started.
Pulling the small box from her pocket, Kathryn opened it. A shiny square rank bar nestled in a velvet bed. She ran her finger over the bright gold pip in the center. This was what she'd always wanted. Wasn't it?
Staying on Earth would be too painful. Chakotay didn't love her anymore, she thought as she walked back into the main room. If he had ever loved her as she loved him. To see him occasionally and watch as he moved on with his life would be more than she could bear. Better to move on with her own life. Somewhere far away.
Setting the box on the Starfleet regulation desk Chakotay had always hated, Kathryn turned and walked away. "Goodbye, Admiral Janeway."
I'm movin' on
At last I can see
Life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees
But, I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind
that those days are gone
Chakotay kept the smile fixed firmly in place as he walked down the corridor, maneuvering around antigrav units and crewmembers carrying boxes and bags. He returned their greetings and wished them well automatically.
Once inside the turbo lift, he relaxed against the back wall and stared at the small box clutched in his hand. Admiral Paris had slipped it into his hand when he had bumped into the man outside Tom and B'Elanna's quarters.
"Just a formality." He'd said as he rocked Miral. "Once you get settled, we'll help you set up your staff."
Everyone assumed this was what he wanted. A bitter laugh escaped. The crew kept congratulating him and telling him how happy he must be. "Must be? Have to be." Another laugh, more bitter than the first.
The crew assumed he wanted to be a captain and command his own ship. He had once, but only to fight the Cardassians – no more. Chakotay looked at the box again. What he really wanted was to throw off the burden of command. It was like a yoke around his neck and only by adding ice water to his veins had he been able to carry it.
The lift stopped and he straightened, fixing the smile back on his tired face as the doors slid open.
Again there were smiles and congratulations. Chakotay smiled and returned hugs and handshakes. All the familiar faces blurred together until they all looked the same. He could have shaken hands with Gul Evek for all he knew.
"Congratulations, Commander!" Chell shook his hand vigorously. "We all know you'll be a wonderful captain! You deserve it!"
The other crewmembers in the corridor nodded in agreement and applauded. Chakotay felt a surge of rage. They didn't know him at all. None of them. They'd placed him up on a pedestal, and all they knew was the image.
An angry retort sprang to Chakotay's lips, but he bit it back. How could they know him? He had built up the image for them, and they wouldn't let him change it now.
Still smiling, he escaped into an empty cabin. Earth was turning in the view port but it didn't feel like home anymore.
Setting his bags on the floor, he walked to the view port, watching the blue and white planet move peacefully beneath the ship. The earth turned even as Voyager circled it. A circle within a circle. The thought nagged for a moment.
His journey seemed to have come full circle, ending where it had begun. Once again a Starfleet officer and teacher. Once again alone. Was he still living in the past? "Move on... not move back."
Chakotay hefted the duffel bags onto his shoulder once again. He was going to see Kathryn and tell her how he felt. He'd tell her he loved her and ask if there was any chance left for them. "I might be contrary, but I'm not stupid."
Without a backward glance, Chakotay walked out into the corridor. He retraced his steps, impatiently pacing inside the turbo lift as it carried him back to deck three.
Kathryn's door was open, and he walked in. "Kathryn? Kathryn, are you here?" her quarters were empty, and all of her things were gone. "There's your answer, Chakotay."
Starfleet had offered Kathryn the chance to be an admiral and have the career her father could be proud of; it appeared she was anxious to get started.
Pulling the small box from his pocket, Chakotay opened it. Four shiny pips nestled in a velvet bed. He ran a fingertip over the bright gold pips. This was what he'd always wanted. Wasn't it?
Staying on Earth would be too painful. Kathryn didn’t love him anymore. If she had ever loved him as he loved her. To see her occasionally and watch as she moved on with her life would be more than he could bear. Better to move on with his own life. Somewhere far away.
Setting the box on the Starfleet regulation desk Kathryn had always loved, Chakotay turned and walked away. "Goodbye, Admiral Janeway."
I sold what I could
And packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should
But lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me
Somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on
Chakotay sidestepped a clump of Starfleet engineers as they peered into an open panel in the corridor just outside Transporter Room One.
Starfleet had been discreet in their requests to examine all the changes and improvements that had been made to Voyager over the seven years she'd spent in the Delta Quadrant. He couldn't help smiling, wondering what they would make of the hodgepodge of technologies B'Elanna had put together to keep the ship going.
He was still smiling as he entered the transporter room. Nodding to the crewman working the console, Chakotay walked to the pad, stopping as he saw Kathryn sitting on the edge of the platform.
"I'm sorry I took so long." She said softly.
"You took – " Confused, he looked past her to the bags on the pad. She'd been here ahead of him.
Kathryn stood, willing her knees to stop wobbling with the resolve that had gotten her through many a hostile first contact. She held her hand out to Chakotay and he took it without hesitation, although the confusion was still on his face. Spit it out, Kathryn! "I love you, Chakotay. If it's not too late, I'd like to try and see if we have a chance."
"Kathryn." He pulled her into his arms. "I love you – I always have."
Their first kiss was gentle and tentative, both a bit shy of the other. Instead of the passionate kiss each had imagined, there were small quick kisses, each of them learning the taste and feel of the other.
Ensign Hall discreetly averted his eyes and adjusted the settings on the transporter, though they were already perfectly aligned.
Chakotay's bags slid down his arm and thumped against them, and Kathryn pulled away reluctantly. "Come on." She stepped up onto the pad and held her hand out to him again.
He pulled the bags back into place on his shoulder and picked up hers as he stepped up onto the pad next to her. He didn't ask where they were going – he didn't care as long as they were together.
Kathryn smiled as Chakotay took her hand again. "Ensign Hall, energize."
"Yes, ma'am." Ensign Hall nodded. "It's been an honor, Captain, Commander."
Chakotay nodded in acknowledgment but didn't look away from Kathryn as the transporter turned her into sparkles of light.
Green grass and blue sky surrounded them, and Chakotay turned as he heard a shout behind them.
A woman was running down the porch steps of a large white house, calling out Kathryn's name. He tried to step back, but Kathryn held onto his hand as her mother hugged her.
"Oh, Kathy!" Her mother wiped at the tears on her cheeks. "It's so good to finally see you again!"
"Mom, you just saw me yesterday!" Kathryn laughed and wiped at her own wet cheeks. "We had breakfast with Owen."
"That was different." Gretchen dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "You weren't home – now you're home. And did you bring me this fine looking young man as a gift?"
Kathryn's cheeks reddened, and Chakotay laughed. "Mom, this is Chakotay, the man I love." The black velvet eyes were suspiciously bright and she nudged him gently. "Well? Say hi, Mom."
Chakotay smiled broadly. "Hi, Mom."
"Welcome home, sweetheart." Gretchen stretched up to hug him. "Welcome home."
Kathryn ran a hand over the raven hair as her mother hugged Chakotay. "Now I'm home."