~*~ An episode epilogue to “Extreme Risk” ~*~


by Delta Story

July 2008


“Commander, a moment, please.”

Chakotay brought up the rear of the group of senior officers exiting the ready room after their debriefing. He turned at the sound of Janeway’s voice, sensing more than an order in the softened tone of her words. Only Tuvok’s backward glance gave any indication that any of the others had heard her and the closing doors cut off any question in his eyes.

Chakotay froze in his tracks until the last millimeter of the doors closed; he hadn’t missed that look in Tuvok’s eyes. Would they be interrupted shortly, like the Vulcan always seemed to do? He smiled at the thought but looked up and saw the sudden seriousness in Janeway’s face, her delicate complexion faded by several degrees.

Three long strides and Chakotay was by her side. His bulky hands took her small frame in a gentle grasp and felt a shiver ripple through her body. “What is it, Kathryn? You look like someone just walked over your grave.”

Kathryn leaned into his hesitant embrace, her face finding comfort against his chest as her arms made their way around his firm torso. “Oh, Chakotay – it could have been you on that shuttle and not B’Elanna… and none of you would have made it back.”

“Well, thanks for that vote of confidence in my engineering skills – at least you hadn’t assigned me to pilot the shuttle,” he grinned as he kissed the top of her head. “Are you telling me that none of the rest of us could have come up with a solution to stave off a hull breech?”

“You know what I mean,” Kathryn answered, giving him a playful jab in the arm. She pulled back; her face had quickly turned from pale porcelain to a deep blush. “It’s just that… well, no other crew member thinks on her feet as quickly as B’Elanna. At times, her impetuousness is her best quality and she certainly proved that today.”

Kathryn took his hand and led him to the wide window bank across the outer wall of the room. Chakotay stood behind her, his hands circling her waist, his chin resting on the top of her head. They stood almost motionless, silently gazing into light-speckled inkiness that surrounded them as he waited for her to continue.

She sighed deeply. “You knew that she would come to take your place, didn’t you?”

“I certainly hoped so,” he murmured. “I figured that she would come to her senses when she knew there was imminent danger to her friends. She couldn’t bear to lose any more of them.”

“Any more of whom?” Kathryn turned with a surprised jerk. “What do you mean?”

“That’s what had been eating away at her, Kathryn. You know how B’Elanna can be – she internalizes things and then can’t understand why she’s angry. It goes beyond any of her Klingon blood – it’s probably the worst of her human characteristics.”

Chakotay pulled her close again as he continued. “Contrary to what she told me months ago, she still had not moved on through her grief after hearing the news about the massacre of most of our Maquis compatriots. Her anger overpowered any other feeling to the point where she was emotionally and mentally numb. She said she couldn’t feel anything and that’s why she was on her self-destruction ride… just to feel something.”

Kathryn’s face contorted in confusion. “But they were your friends, too – and you had to give the news to the rest of the Maquis. You yourself told me that. I know that you had your periods of grief and anger, just like several of the rest of us did for various reasons. Although my loss of Mark wasn’t quite like the physical deaths of so many of your friends…”

“But yours was loss nonetheless, and any loss – be it physical or emotional – must be grieved. You and I – we got through our mourning and moved on,” he continued. “B’Elanna just couldn’t let go of the anger… and fear.”

“Fear? Of what? There are no Cardassians or Dominion out here in the Delta Quadrant.”

He brushed back her hair, willing her eyes to meld with his. “Don’t you see? She was afraid of herself, Kathryn – of what would happen if she allowed herself to release all her hatred… and grief.”

“So you allowed yourself to let her take it out on you, Chakotay? That’s not right, either.”

“No, I didn’t; I wasn’t going to allow her to have a martyr for her cause. I just told her that either we had to survive together or die alone out here… that we had to let go of the past and live for the future. I guess she finally liked the risks of an unknown future better than being alone… again.”

“But she has Tom,” Kathryn added. “Wasn’t that enough?”

“You have to remember that Tom has a lot of pent-up hostility, too. It wouldn’t be a very pretty picture if they decided to take it out on each other.” Chakotay allowed a smile to spread across his face.

“No, it wouldn’t,” Kathryn chortled. “I don’t think all the EMHs in the universe would be able to put them back together again.” She fell into silence again and he allowed her the luxury of her thoughts.

“Why haven’t we destroyed each other?” she finally asked. “We each received devastating news as our first contact with friends in the Alpha Quadrant; we had every right to lash out at any and everyone. And God knows we’ve had enough professional disagreements to fill a couple terabytes of logs.”

“Starfleet command training in stoicism? Too much time with Vulcans?” Chakotay grinned mischievously.

“Or maybe it’s that opposites attract – your yin to my yang… your pepper to my salt,” she laughed, turning in his arms and running a finger around the defined bow of his lips.

He pulled her closer. “Could it be that we were head over heels in love with each other already and that, even though those letters we received weren’t exactly filled with the best of news, they actually released us from bonds of the past, freeing us from the demons of our pasts and allowing us to look into the future?”

“Something like that,” Kathryn smiled back. “I remember saying something about not having Mark as my safety net anymore…”

“And I told you it was time to let go, that it was time to replace old loves with new ones… that we had all the time in the world. Then I leaned across and kissed you – just… like… this…”

Their lips and bodies met, allowing them to commune with each other in the familiar intimacy they had committed to on that day months ago.

Kathryn snuggled herself more securely in his arms. “And each time we’re together, you catch me as I fall… as I fall more and more in love with you.”

Chakotay felt his heart thumping against the side of her face, remembering his pledge to her three years earlier, knowing that his true peace came with being there for this wonderful woman, with being that safety net for her now and forever.

No, he would never let her fall… never again.

~ The End ~

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