Something Old, Something Tacky
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: This was originally written for the Picnic Prose contest using the picture to set the story. And this one was quite the challenge!
Chakotay felt a tingle of anticipation run through him. They were home after seven long, hard years. They were finally home. The moment they burst free of the Borg sphere would be etched in his memory forever. He’d looked down from the upper level to share the moment with Kathryn. She had smiled back, a bit shocked and stunned by the sudden ending to their voyage.
Glancing over his shoulder, Chakotay motioned to Lieutenant Morgan. “Lieutenant, take the conn.”
“Yes, sir.” The young man slipped into the seat as Chakotay stepped aside.
Smiling at Kathryn, Chakotay settled into his seat. Now they could get on with their life. No more waiting. He would quit Starfleet and follow her wherever she wanted to go.
Turning, he saw that she was still staring at the view screen, a serious expression on her face. “Kathryn.” She didn’t answer.
Shutting down the console between their seats, he closed it up. “Kathryn.”
Commander? Puzzled, he reached out and touched her hand. “Kathryn, what’s wrong?” She pulled her hand away.
“Commander.” She bit out, never taking her eyes off the view screen.
Something was wrong. Chakotay noticed for the first time the tight set of her body. She held herself rigidly as if she expected to face a firing squad. “Kathryn, I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about.”
She didn’t answer and he was more confused than before. The Admiral’s arrival had signaled a change in Kathryn. She had retreated behind a wall. At the time, he’d believed it to be due to the stress of meeting an older version of herself. An unhappy, older version. Now he wasn’t so sure.
Mentally, he retraced his steps. While they were destroying the hub he had moved from Tuvok’s station to Seven’s checking first the armor and then the exit apertures.
He remembered looking down at Kathryn when it came time to try their crazy plan of letting the sphere carry them out to reduce the possibility of the transwarp stresses tearing the ship apart. Had she seemed sad?
When they arrived in the Alpha Quadrant, she had turned and looked up at him. No, she looked at my chair and then up. Was she so shocked because I wasn’t at her side? It wasn’t the first time, was it?
She’d ordered him to the helm. Mr. Chakotay? Rarely did she call him Mr., or Commander anymore. Unless they were at odds. Like now.
A hand on his shoulder startled him and he looked up to see Seven smiling down at him. “Seven? Did you need something?”
“I thought perhaps we could have lunch.”
The conversation in Astrometrics flashed through his mind. He hadn’t thought they would get home at the time. He turned to look at Kathryn.
There was a bright sheen to her smoky blue eyes and her bottom lip quivered. She snapped her gaze back to the view screen and clenched her jaw.
She knows. Chakotay felt his heart lurch painfully. He reached for her hand again, but she jerked it away. Brushing Seven’s hand from his shoulder, he moved to kneel in front of Kathryn. “Kathryn?”
Her eyes remained locked on the view screen.
“Kathryn, I love you. We’re home. We don’t have to wait anymore.” A spark in her eyes told him she was angry. You didn’t wait. “I love you, I’ve always loved you, and I always will.”
“What do you want from me?” Kathryn’s voice was hoarse with unshed tears.
“I want you to smile, I want you to laugh.” He took her hands in his. “I want you for my wife.”
There was absolute silence on the bridge. Harry surreptitiously switched to one of the bridge sensors so he could see the Captain’s face. Her lower lip quivered. He couldn’t tell if she was about to laugh or cry.
She pulled her hands from Chakotay’s and cupped his face. Leaning forward, she whispered in his ear. He blinked and then threw back his head and laughed.
“Is that a yes?” Harry blurted out.
Kathryn looked up at him. “Would you say yes, Harry?”
“Yes! I mean, no! Not me – but – “ Why hadn’t they taken more damage so the deck would collapse and swallow him up? “You should say yes.”
She looked around to see Ayala nodding his head, and Tuvok had an expectant look on his face. Seven was still standing by Chakotay’s chair.
“You should say yes.” The ice blue eyes were suspiciously bright, but her voice was steady. “You will be very happy with Chakotay.”
“Well, the general consensus is that I should say yes.” Kathryn turned back to Chakotay. Love glowed in the black velvet eyes, unguarded for the first time in years. “I’ve never been one to follow the crowd, but in this case…” She smiled.
“First, I want you to forgive me for giving up.”
“That could take awhile.” She cocked her head as if considering. “Forty, maybe fifty years.”
“I’ll spend the rest of my life making you happy.” He turned his head to kiss her palm. “I love you, Kathryn.”
“Yes, Captain?” Please don’t ask me again!
“Call Admiral Paris and tell him we need him to perform a wedding.” She grabbed Chakotay’s jacket and pulled him closer. “And I am not letting you go this time.”
The neck of his dress uniform was uncomfortable and Chakotay tugged at it trying to get a little extra breathing room. Across the room, Kathryn was holding court with her mother and sister. The dress the Doctor had whipped up for her was beautiful. Flowing pale ivory with green trim that accented her pale skin and red hair. She’d surprised him with the long hair. It seemed the Doctor had helped her there as well. As if she sensed his attention, Kathryn looked up and smiled. He smiled back and winked.
If anyone had noticed her flushed cheeks and dreamy eyes, they had undoubtedly chalked it up to a new bride’s excitement. Kathryn touched her tender lips. No one would guess that the groom had staged a Maquis raid on the bride’s bedchamber this morning. She caught a knowing look from Tom as he walked up to her. Well, some might.
“Here, you have to open this.” Tom showed her a gaudily wrapped package. “Where’s the big guy?”
“Tom, we’ll open the gifts later.” Much later. After Chakotay’s too weak to move.
“This one you have to open now.” He gave her his best puppy dog look.
“Give it here.” She motioned Chakotay over. “Ensign Paris has a gift we have to open now.”
Tom frowned. “Ma’am? That’s Lieutenant, remember?”
“Is it?” She arched an eyebrow. “Depends on the gift.”
Chakotay reached her side just in time to see her tear open the package. Dropping the paper, she pulled out a large framed image.
“Oh, Tom, it’s wonderful.”
Looking at the picture, Chakotay thought it was the tackiest thing he’d ever seen. Their images were superimposed on a pair of wine glasses.
“It’s something they did in the 20th century.” Tom smiled as she wiped away tears. “You like it?”
“It’s lovely.” She turned to Chakotay. “Isn’t it?”
“Yes.” First rule of marriage is to agree with your wife when she shows you something even a Ferengi wouldn’t sell. “Lovely.”
“Chakotay, I don’t suppose you’d share a secret with me?” Tom asked.
“What?” Did he want to know about his sneaking into Kathryn’s quarters?
“She whispered something to you on the bridge yesterday.”
“And you want to know what it is?” Kathryn grinned. “Should we tell him?”
“Why not?” Chakotay shrugged. “Help someone win some useless replicator rations.”
“Chakotay said ‘I want you for my wife’.”
“And she said ‘your wife? What would she want with me?’.”
Tom stared as the two of them laughed and kissed. “Guess you had to be there.”