Uncertain Future

DISCLAIMER: Star Trek, Voyager and the characters in this story belong to Paramount. I’m playing in their sandbox without their permission. I like the world they’ve created, but, I think they need to tells us more about how these people feel and think. So I’ve written my own version of what might have happened between them during a brief period they didn’t show us. I claim all rights to this story, and insist that if anyone else wants to print, publish or distribute it for reasons other than individual enjoyment, they ask my permission first.
This story is based on the Star Trek: Voyager episode ‘Resolutions’. If you haven’t seen this episode, you won’t understand the premise of this story. Enjoy. Feedback is encouraged and appreciated. DRonhovde@aol.com

Uncertain Future
by Dottie Ronhovde

I sit here, my emotions in turmoil, after hearing his story, and I suddenly realize that there are too many parallels to his own life. That thought amuses me a little. He’s always so solid and strong that I’m surprised he needs to hide behind a ‘legend’.
“Is there really and old legend?”
“No, . . . but it made it easier for me to say it.”
Oh God, he’s released the genie, and there he waits, so open, so afraid that I’ll reject what he’s finally had the courage to admit. Do I have the courage to accept it? I don’t know, this is too sudden. The physical need I’d expected, and I think I could have found a response to that. But this . . . I have to do *something*. The fear is building in his eyes.
His hand meshed with mine seems so big, yet it’s so gentle. His warmth flows into me through the connection and it feels so good. I become absorbed in examining the shape and texture of his features. I thought I knew this man, but in the last few weeks, he’s shown me things that have surprised me.
There, in his eyes. . . he’s unbanked the fires and I feel a spark ignite in me too. It would be easy to accept this as inevitable. But I can’t. I’ve never just accepted anything as inevitable, and certainly not the fact that this will be my life, that *he* will be my life. My body is telling me one thing, but my heart and mind say something different. Why can’t it be simple?
His thumb whispers across my cheek as he wipes a tear I didn’t know I’d shed. Before I can stop myself, my face turns into his palm and then I freeze. What am I doing? My eyes fly to his and I see understanding and more than a little regret. His hand comes away from my face reluctantly and he says, “It’s OK, I’ve lived with this for months now and I still couldn’t tell you how I feel without hiding behind a story. We have time, maybe the rest of our lives. I’ll be here when you’re ready.” Then he stands. Without another word, he leaves me to go to his bed. Now that he’s gone, the space around me feels empty somehow, but I’m grateful to him for understanding.
He’s turning again. Is he as restless as I am? Be still Kathryn! You can’t help him with that problem. Think of something else.
My thoughts flit from one memory to the next, all of them remembered moments with him; moments that now take on a whole new meaning. I need to analyze this meaning, and I replay them again, examining them and their meaning to me now. Is this situation so different that what we were has no importance now? Just what is my real problem in accepting him?
I was his captain. That prevented any other relationship. But now . . . . I am still the captain, and I’m not ready to give that up yet. To do so would be giving up hope of leaving here. And I *want* to leave here. I want my ship back. Impossible as that is, I still want it. Oh Chakotay, I wish I could be as accepting as you seem to be.
It’s morning already and he’s up. I wonder if he slept at all. I’m going to have to get up and face him. What will I say? How do we go on from here? Do I pretend nothing happened? But something important did happen, and I can’t ignore that. Mmmm, coffee. He already knows me so well. What is *that* smell? He must be cooking something special. Now that we’ve turned down a path we can’t reverse, perhaps he’s as nervous about facing me as I am him.
“Good morning.”
He turns at the sound of my voice and hands me a cup of coffee. “I thought we needed something different than the normal rations. I’m trying one of my mother’s recipes.”
“That smells wonderful, I could use something special this morning.”
“It’s almost ready, have a seat.”
Damn, now he’s caught me staring. Does he know what that smile does to me? There’s no self-consciousness with him. I guess his accepting nature makes that possible. He’s placed the next step in my hands and is comfortable with the waiting.
“What do you think about adding the extra rooms? It would give us a little more privacy and more space to work in.”
“I don’t know, that would be a pretty big project.”
“Well, I *would* need some help.”
“Do you really think it’s possible?”
“Yes, I do. It might take some time to gather all the materials we’d need, but it could be done.”
“All right, I think we should at least look into the possibilities.”
This need to build and create is another facet of him I would never have suspected if we hadn’t been forced into these circumstances. When we finish eating, he’s eager to get started. He takes our dishes and cleans up.
“I’m going to look for the trees we’ll need to build the walls today. Would you like to come with me?”
I wonder if he has a hidden agenda, but I see nothing of it in his expression and surprise myself by agreeing. “I think I’d like that.”
We pack a lunch and set off. I’ve wandered some of the area near our shelter, but Chakotay knows far more of it. He leads me to the edge of a small meadow and stops to watch my reaction. I also stop in surprise. It’s filled with flowers, creating a small sea of yellow blooms. In delight, I wade into their midst, wandering through the clumps, touching their petals and smelling their scents. He waits patiently for me to get my fill and come back to him.
“This is beautiful. Are there other places like this?”
“Well, each place is unique, but yes, there are others just as beautiful. Would you like to see them?”
“Yes! When can we do that?”
He chuckles and says, “We have all the time we want, and can decided how to use it. When would you like to do it?”
“How about right now. How many can we fit into one day?”
“I don’t know, but let’s find out.”
We spend the day roaming the secret little places he’s discovered. In each one, he takes me to a spot where we can feel and appreciate the energy and unique qualities found there. As we eat our lunch perched on a large rock beside a little stream that feeds the river, he tells me a story about his childhood and his father.
“My father tried so hard to teach me to appreciate nature and what it does for us. But I was impatient, and couldn’t see the value in listening to the trees or the animals or the wind. I was more interested in starships, phasers and torpedoes. I don’t think I truly believed in the things he tried to teach me until after he was gone. But, after visiting places where the living things have been used, discarded and destroyed, I know how important they are. I wish I could share them with him now.”
We’ve spent the last few days roaming the places he wanted to show me. We talked and laughed and even cried together. And never once has he let himself show me the heat and need of that night again. It’s never far from my mind though, and I can’t help but study him during those moments when he’s absorbed in telling me another one of his stories.
I’m learning to see beyond the obvious point of his stories. He reveals little pieces of himself in each one of them. I tuck them away, saving them to examine again at night when we’re settled into our separate beds for the night. I listen to the sounds of him shifting in his bed and wonder if perhaps he’s doing the same thing. We don’t discuss it, but the question between us remains unanswered.
As we settle into our new routines, we become more and more comfortable with going about all the little chores of daily living together. We learn about the little habits that define our personalities. I don’t like to wear shoes. He clenches his jaw when he’s concentrating very hard on something. I am compulsive about keeping things organized. He’s by nature an untidy person, although he’s trained himself to curb that.
And through it all, we become comfortable with the enforced closeness of our existence. I can stand behind him and watch as he carves and we are both comfortable with that. He can reach past me for something on the table and it no longer cause either of us to pause. In the evenings, we share the same table instead of choosing our places away from each other.
Today was warm and we went for a long walk, enjoying the sights and smells we found. He’s teaching me to see things in a totally different light. I’m beginning to feel the essence of life in everything around us. At one point, he offered me his hand as I stepped over a fallen tree, and kept it in his when we move on. If it had been another time and place, I might have quirked and eyebrow at him in pointed question at his audacity, but today I felt mellow and left it there.
Later, we stopped to rest and absorb, and we talked about little things–he pointed out the birds that came to forage near us and I expressed appreciation for the lushness of the trees and undergrowth. After a while, we lapsed into easy silence and sank into our own thoughts.
I was nearly asleep when he said, “Kathryn?” When I opened my eyes, he was leaning over me watching me closely. His eyes were so intense they sent a little rush of warmth through me. “We should be getting back. It looks like it’s going to rain.”
My name on his lips no longer seems foreign to me and I don’t think of him as ‘commander’ anymore. We are just Chakotay and Kathryn. I’m surprised that I like the sound of that. My rank and position in Starfleet were always important to me and yet I’ve set that aside quite easily. When I realized this, I felt guilty; guilty of forgetting who I am and who I owe loyalty to. Voyager, *my ship*, is moving on toward home, and I’m not with her, not with them, *my crew*. Although I didn’t willingly choose to be left here, I feel I’ve let them down.
As we walked back to our home, and yes, I do think of it as home now, I struggled with the conflicting desires. I still think of Voyager and the crew often, and wish I. . . we, were with them. But I’m also happy here in this life that he’s making comfortable. If this is truly going to be my life, I’m glad that I’m sharing it with him. Chakotay sensed there was some problem I was working on resolving and led me back in near silence, leaving me to my thoughts.
Tonight we’re confined inside by a steady rain. The sound of it’s drumming on the roof has drawn me to the door to watch the water splash into our yard. As I stand here looking out, Chakotay’s come to stand behind me, close enough that I feel his warmth at my back. It attracts me and I lean back lightly against his chest.
“Are you going to curse me for not building a shelter over your tub?”
I like his humor. “If I said yes, would you build me one?” As I turn to see his reaction his nose brushes through my hair just above my ear. His eyes are closed, but they open when he feels me move.
“. . . . . .I . . ., excuse me.”
The aching desire is exposed for a moment again before he forces it behind the curtain of his control. He pulls away and I feel a need to ease the moment. He deserves more than I’ve given him so far. So I reach out and lay my hand on his arm to stop him. When he turns back to me, his expression is guarded, and I see the unanswered question there again.
“I need time Chakotay. If we don’t make this work between us, there’s no way to undo it or to start over with someone else. If this is to be our life, I want it to be a long and happy one.”
He stands there silent, his eyes searching mine for something. Whatever he sees satisfied him and he nods. Without speaking, he turns and retreats into his sleeping cubicle. His acceptance is almost harder to tolerate than if he’d bargained with me for more. It places the weight of his emotional needs squarely on my shoulders.
I too go to my bed, but not to sleep. The reality of our life here is settling into my consciousness and I ask myself what am I’m waiting for. Perhaps he’s right, I should just accept it and make the best of it. It really isn’t such a bad life, and I certainly could have been stranded with worse partners. I make a decision to begin the process.
As we eat our breakfast together, I propose a new project to him. “I was thinking that we should try to grow some vegetables. We have the seeds Neelix gave us and the climate seems perfect right now.”
He pauses in his eating to look at me in surprise, but he nods and launches into some suggestions on a site to put the garden and what we’ll need to do to prepare it. Then he pauses and smiles at me and I’m not surprised that he recognizes the turnaround I’ve made. I return his smile and we share a special moment.
Later that morning, as I prepare a seed tray and plant tomato seeds, he comes over to see what I’m doing..
“Why did you choose tomatoes and not something that’s easier to preserve?”
“I want ammunition to throw at you, and ripe tomatoes make lovely splats when they land.”
“Well, you’d better plant a lot then because I want to have enough to return fire.”
Chakotay, do you feel it too? This kind of closeness is so special. You make each day a joy. Yes, I can see you do know what I mean. Laughter binds us tighter than any promises could.
The next day, we work together to dig up the soil and break up the clumps. It’s hard work, but I thoroughly enjoy it. Once the hard part is completed, Chakotay leaves me to finish the task of preparing the bed while he goes back to his plans for the house. Once the garden bed is ready, I again join him in his wandering the woods. I’ve missed these walks with him and I want him to know it.
One of our favorite places is a little stream that runs down a steep hill over boulders and fallen trees. It sometimes pauses in its downward plunge in pools that are deep and dark. The trees along its banks are huge and old. Chakotay says they speak to him of history long forgotten. Today, we stop at one of the pools and pick a place on a small patch of tender grass to sit and listen. I deliberately sit close to him, although not actually leaning against him.
For a while we sit silently, absorbing the peace around us. But my thoughts begin to wander, and Chakotay sees something in my expression that causes him to ask. I hesitate to tell him my thoughts, but if we *are* to build a relationship, he needs to know this part of me.
“I was thinking about Mark. I really loved him and he was the first man I’d ever let get that close to me. He came into my life at a time that couldn’t have been worse for making it work. I’d been on Earth for a year, but I’d been too busy to allow time for anything but my work. I had just been named as Voyager’s captain, but she was still in the shipyard, undergoing final testing. We were having problems with the bio-neural circuitry and they brought Mark in to help.”
Chakotay shifts his position, so he can sit facing me and watch my expressions. This memory is painful for me, and I can’t look at him as I speak of it.
“At first I resisted his attempts to see me outside of the professional situation. But, as the testing required longer and longer hours together, we began to get to know each other better. I won’t bore you with how it all started or how we spent our time. The reason I’m telling you any of this, is because he’s still a part of me. Mark understood how important the ship and my career were to me. He encouraged me when I needed it, and he cheered for me when things went well. He filled the need for companionship and love for me and he gave them without any strings attached.
“When we got stranded in the Delta Quadrant, he was the driving force in my own desire to get home. My memory of him, my desire to get back to him, gave me the strength of having a goal and I thought that was all I was going to have to rely on. . . . . But, I was wrong. I think there might be someone else who will give me strength. . .and perhaps more.”
I see hope in his eyes, but he’s cautious. We both understand what’s at stake if we push our relationship into something we can’t live with. This time, he makes the first move and holds up his hand to me. As my fingers mesh with his, I feel the rightness of this connection and realized that I’ve relied on him for quite some time. I can’t say that I love him, but, if we *are* going to be here for the rest of our lives, I think that will come.
He locks his eyes with mine and says, “I promise you that as long as I’m with you, you can rely on my support and strength. You’ll never have to stand alone.”
I don’t resist when he pulls me up onto my knees and against his chest. As we wrap our arms around each other, we discover that our bodies fit together like custom tailored clothing falling into place when it’s donned. I close my eyes and sink into his embrace, my nose tucked against his throat. His warm scent fills me and I listen to his steady heartbeat under my ear. We hold each other, giving and receiving comfort and strength through the contact of our bodies pressed together.
Since that day, things between us have subtly changed. I guess the easiest way to describe it is to say that I’m relaxed and comfortable with him now. I sometimes feel the heat beneath the surface, but he’s always careful to keep it under tight control. Because he does, I feel safe to let myself explore my feelings for him.
We touch each other often, always briefly, always in nonsuggestive ways, but still touch. Until very recently, I never realized that he’d been careful not to do so before. And I hadn’t realized how starved for it I was. I’d wrapped myself so securely in the command mantle, that I’d forgotten what it’s like to have that contact from another person.
Our days have settled into a familiar pattern. In the mornings, we do whatever work is needed around the house. Then we use the afternoons to explore more of the area around us. The river offers some possibilities we’d both like to look into, but we don’t have any means to travel far along it. Perhaps at some point, we’ll figure out a way to use it. In the mean time, we enjoy our land-based explorations.
My tomato seeds have sprouted and they’ll be ready to plant in a few more days. I’ve been checking them daily, poking a finger gently into the soil, looking for the first signs of green. Chakotay watches in amused silence, and he smiles encouragement when I tell him I’ve seen the first hint of growth.
Tuvok has just closed communications with us, and we remain motionless staring at each other. I sit in shock, my emotions again in turmoil. I gave up too soon. I let go of Voyager *too soon*. And now they’re coming back for us. I’m going to have my ship back, and I don’t deserve it.
“Kathryn, don’t. Don’t believe what you’re thinking. It wasn’t wrong to enjoy life.”
I turn to him, and his words soothe my conscience a little. I reach for him, and he takes my hands in his. He kneels down, to put himself at eye level with me.
“We have to live each day one day at a time. It’s not wrong to take the best that day has to offer and enjoy it. This day offers us a joy we thought we’d never have. We’ll be rejoining our ship and our family. You should be looking forward with happiness, not backward with regret.”
His words are so appropriate to what I’m thinking that I can almost feel him inside of me, reading my thoughts. He reads me like an open book. That should make me uncomfortable, but it doesn’t. I think I like having him know me so well.
We spend the next day sorting and packing equipment and personal belongings. It’s tiring, and we speak little. I feel his eyes on me often, but I’m not ready to answer his question now. There is too much to think about. But I know he’ll ask, and I know he has a right to. I just don’t know what the answer will be.
I’ve felt it hovering all day, just beyond my hearing. Now it’s evening and Voyager will be here tomorrow. We’ve finished everything we want to do and finally can take time to eat and rest. For the first time in many weeks, there’s tension between us. The house feels too small, and I make an escape outside. Chakotay’s eyes follow me, but he let’s me have some time alone. Then I hear him come out too. He stops a little away from me and stands, leaning against a tree. His posture is rigid, and I know it’s coming soon. He’s just trying to put it together in his mind.
I wait for him, still unsure how to answer. Finally, his head comes up and he turns toward me. He’s lifted the curtain and I see all the things he’s kept from me until now; need, love and uncertainty. The intensity shocks me, but his words are still controlled. “Will things be the same when we get back on the ship? Or am I going to be just another crewman again?”
“You were never ‘just another crewman’, and I don’t see how either of us can go back as exactly the same people we were. I hope you’ll continue to be the strength behind me and the one I can drop the rank and position with.”
“You know you’ll always have that. . . . . Is that all you’ll want from me?”
He’s still balancing his own needs, waiting to see where I’ll place myself in his life. I want to ease the pain I see in his eyes. But I can’t give him everything he wants. I have to sacrifice some of me, some of us, for them. They are my first responsibility.
“On the ship, yes, that’s what I want. Right now I want a little more.”
He stands there so rigid and still. I’m going to have to give him a little help. I’ve wanted to know what it feels like. It’s just a step forward, to settle against his chest and fold my arms around his solid back. Hesitantly at first, he returns the embrace, but then he lets his own instincts take over. He relaxes his stance and adjusts himself to fit us together. His head turns downward and his cheek rubs across mine. Then his mouth come seeking.
Softly at first, his relaxed lips brush mine and his warm breath mingling with my own. My chest quivers with the first stirrings of desire and I open to him. He accepts the invitation and brushes my lips with his tongue. Slowly, he traces them, licking and retreating, tasting me. I want to do the same, but force myself to let him lead. I can’t stifle the sigh of frustration though, and he hears it. His firm mouth returns and his tongue dives in to dance with mine. I get my first taste of him and it’s intoxicating. He teases me, withdrawing so that I have to chase him past his lips and into the warm recesses of his mouth. We become involved in learning the tastes and textures of each other, taking turns with the initiative.
Our lower bodies join the dance and move closer, trying for the same intimacy. When I feel the hardness of his desire thrusting against my belly, I suddenly realize where we’re headed. My own desires have risen just as quickly and it frightens me. I stop still. I hadn’t planned on this, and I’m not ready for it.
Chakotay stills too and he steps back. His dark eyes sparkle in the low light. “I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be sorry. I’m just not quite ready. If we had more time, . . .”
“But we don’t, they’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Yes, tomorrow.”
Tomorrow we’ll step back into our old roles, but I wonder if that will be possible. I don’t feel like the same person now and I don’t see him as the same person either. For the crew, we’ll try, but . . . perhaps, someday we can be just Kathryn and Chakotay again.


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