by Suz

Okay, this was the first fanfic idea I came up with, but it's the second one I've posted due to various reasons (major editing - I just wasn't happy with some parts of it).

Dedicated to all fellow fanfic writers, and especially all the gals (and two guys) in the JetC10 mailing list.

Please don't phaser me after you've read it. E-mail me instead and tell me what you think. I would really like to hear from you as I can only improve my writing from your input.

Warning: this isn't a time travel story but it does travel about in time a bit (figure that one out). For example, part three takes place AFTER part four. This is intentional. I apologise if you get confused :)

Disclaimer - Paramount owns all characters and starships in this story. I'm not being paid for this <darn>.


Part One - The Captain

He stared at the picture he held, and smiled sadly as he ran his hand gently over the image of her face. She looked so happy. Over the last year she had slowly began to accept life here in the Delta Quadrant, and had finally been at peace with herself for the first time since she had been sent on her mission to track him and his crew down.

And now she was dead. It was a concept he couldn't easily handle, and for the first three weeks he had defiantly refused to believe that she was gone. She couldn't be - she was Kathryn. But after endless scans and search parties the crew had finally come to the heart breaking decision that she was gone. They would never see her again. There wasn't a member of the crew who hadn't been deeply affected by the loss.

He was no exception. He had grieved privately, the tears running down his face, sobbing as he tried to remember all that he could about her. He was determined that he would never forget anything about her. For a while he had wallowed in his own despair.

Despite his best attempts though, he had also grieved publically. Oh, sure he hadn't been so far gone as to let anyone physically see him crying, but heavy bags were present under his eyes and his face was gaunt from lack of food.

He looked at the picture again, unable to keep his gaze away from it for any length of time. He kept a copy of the picture in her.....his ready room. Her face was flushed as if she had just been running, but it was those eyes that got to him. Those beautiful eyes. They sparkled in secret delight because she hadn't been smiling for the camera - she had been smiling for him.

He remembered how he'd felt on that wonderful day. They'd spent hours on the holodeck, calling up various different programmes. Hiking through the jungle, playing pool, even just sitting on the grass and talking. It had proved to be a major breakthrough in their relationship.

Wiping back the tears that were forming yet again, he turned towards the table behind him. The objects resting on the table taunted him, seeming to dare him to use them, while being just as afraid that he wouldn't.

If he used them he would be admitting to himself that she was gone, that he had given up any hope of finding her. He didn't want to do that. The truth was that deep down he knew that she was gone, but there was still a part of him that clung desperately, frantically, to the belief that she was alive. If they just ran one more sensor sweep.....if they just waited another day....they would find her.

What would the others think if he used them? Ultimately it didn't matter because he knew he _had_ to use them. He couldn't go on like he was now.

Sighing heavily, with no enthusiasm at all, he got up from the chair and picked up the items on the table. Resting them in the palm on his hand he was aware of how heavy they felt. It's not that they were made of a heavy substance, but the weight was caused by the burden on responsibility. He winced at his own clichéd thoughts.

Slowly he walked over to the bathroom and saw his reflection in the mirror. He looked awful.

Pressing the button on the side of the drawer underneath the basin, he waited for it to swish open, displaying its contents. He pulled his razor out of the drawer and started shaving the stubble off his chin. He took as long as possible, as if to delay what he knew had to be done next.

When he was done, he reached up and unclipped his field commission clip from his uniform. Looking down at it he wondered it he was giving anything up. No, he told himself resolutely. This was what she wanted. This was what he wanted.

Determined now, he attached the clip to the opposite side of the uniform. Looking down at the objects resting next to the basin, he could feel tears threatening again. Dammit, not now! He had to be on duty.

Picking the pips up he attached all four of them to where his Maquis clip used to be. Captain. Funny, he didn't feel any different about being the Captain. But then he had no reason to celebrate.

This is what she had always wanted, for the Maquis and Federation crew to work together. For the ship to be in harmony. She had managed it mostly, but there were still a few trouble makers who had to be dealt with, or that had to realise that they all needed to work together.

He would be a symbol of that by being both Maquis and Federation. He would show them that they could be friends, that they could laugh together, cry together, work together and even fall in love with each other. Tugging at his top, and ignoring the puffiness in his eyes, he left his quarters and headed for the bridge.


The few crewman he passed nodded at him but didn't smile. No one seemed to be in a good enough mood. Something was strange though. Something was different....but he didn't know what. Perhaps it was because everyone was depressed.

Entering the turbolift he ordered it to take him to the bridge. On the short trip there he tried to gather himself, tried to make himself look like a Captain. The doors swished opened and he stepped onto the bridge - and froze. Everyone was there. B'Elanna, Tom, Tuvok, Harry, Neelix, The Doctor, 7 of 9, and even though Kes was gone, he could imagine her elfin features. They were all wearing Maquis clips and Federation pips.

He closed his eyes as he really smiled for the first time since she had died.

When he opened them again his eyes were watering, but he really didn't care anymore because he knew they did.

"Thank you," he told them softly. "It doesn't seem like enough to say, but thank you. It's what she would have wanted."

There were small smiles of agreement from everyone except Tuvok.

The new Captain of the USS Voyager NCC-74656 nodded, then turned and walked towards the Captains chair. The Chair. He had used the chair on a number of occasions, but now that he had accepted her passing it seemed wrong somehow. Pushing aside his feelings as best he could, he sat down gently, expecting to turn to the right and see her smiling face looking at him waiting to share the latest bit of gossip.

"Mr Paris, set a course towards home. Warp 8."

PART TWO - The Lieutenant

Beneath her boring Starfleet issue covers she wrapped her arms around him, needing his support but not being able to tell him that. He was faced away from her but she knew he was awake. His back was against her chest and she could feel his hand idly brushing the back of her own which were clamped over his stomach. He didn't say anything but she figured he'd learned by now when to shut up.

Of course sometimes he still proved her wrong. Not tonight though. She doubted that there was anything that either of them could say to feel better.

Blinking back tears she fought the urge to hit something. Kathryn's death had been so worthless. All her life B'Elanna had fought against her Klingon heritage, but she still believed that her Captain and her friend should have had an honourable death. No one deserved to die that way, in a shuttle accident. The sensor readings that she and Harry had gone over a hundred times showed that everything aboard the shuttle had been fine before it blew up. It was just an.....accident.

Fighting down the bile that rose in her throat over that thought she once again felt her anger rising. She couldn't even blame anyone for Kathryn's death. How was she going to accept it?

The worst thing though was the effect Kathryn's death had on Chakotay. He and Kathryn had finally worked through their problems and had been in a relationship for nearly two months. Prior to her death she had never seen Chakotay or Kathryn so happy. But was as if someone had sucked all the joy out of his life. In all her years of knowing him she had never seen him this deeply affected.

The last time she'd seen him had been last night at Kathryn's funeral. Several people had spoken, including herself and Harry, but Chakotay had remained curiously quiet. Perhaps he felt that he could never say enough about her.

Afterwards she'd tried to talk to him but he ignored her. Instead he had stared out the window at the stars.

B'Elanna had been one of the last to leave the mess hall after the funeral, and as she left she had glanced back at Chakotay who hadn't moved from his spot by the window. He placed his right hand gently against the window and she actually saw a tear run down his face. Realising that he thought he was alone and that he wouldn't appreciate being seen like this she left the room as quietly as possible. Only the sound of the doors swishing closed behind her gave her away.


The man in her arms seemed to sense her mood because he broke free of her grasp slightly and turned around in the bed. She had to admit that her mood was hard to miss.

"B'Elanna?" he asked, the light from the stars outside the window reflecting gently on his blonde hair. "Do you want to talk about it?" Thankfully his cocky persona seemed to be taking a vacation for once.

"I wouldn't know where to begin." she replied honestly.

"How about what you're feeling right now?"

Yeah right, feelings. She'd never been good at judging other people's, not to mention mastering her own. He more than any other person knew that.

"I'm...angry, Tom. God I'm so angry!" Frustrated at the tears she wiped them off and stared at the wetness on her hands. "Dammit, how can I be so angry and still cry?!"

"Because you're full of paradoxes B'Elanna. That's one of the reasons I love you. One of many."

She appreciated his attempt to cheer her up, but she didn't think anything could make her feel better.

Leaning back on the bed she whispered to him her concerns about Chakotay. "I'm sure he hasn't eaten anything since the accident and has slept even less."

They talked for several hours about Chakotay's and Kathryn's relationship. Both of them had enormous impact on their own relationship and both B'Elanna and Tom owed them a lot.

Eventually the conversation turned to when the Maquis crew had first joined the Starfleet crew.

"That was a rough period." B'Elanna commented. "I was so sure she would never get us home. Then slowly I came to realise how much she wanted the two crews to work together" her last words were said slowly as she realised something. She shot out of bed. "Tom!"

"What is it?" he asked, a confused expression passing over his lovely face.

"Just get dressed," she ordered, then ran to her closet to get her own uniform. As she threw off her pyjama top she asked Tom how many replicator rations he had left.


Arriving on the bridge, she and Tom walked towards Tuvok who was working over his console. She placed the container on the rail by his station and summoned everyone who meant the most to Kathryn and Chakotay to the bridge. She'd already confirmed that Chakotay wasn't here before she left her quarters, so hopefully they had a few minutes.

Harry, Seven and Neelix arrived together curiously enough. When she had everyone's attention she began explaining what she wanted to do.


The door swished open and B'Elanna watched as Chakotay stepped out of the turbolift. He paused when he realised what they had done. At the same time her gaze darted to his collar and she realised what he had done.

He closed his eyes tightly and she wondered what he would say when he re-opened them.

"Thank you," he told them softly, eyes glistening. "It doesn't seem like enough to say, but thank you. It's what she would have wanted."

B'Elanna silently nodded in agreement and smiled slightly.

Chakotay stepped down and moved towards the chair. He seemed to pause before sitting, but then went ahead and sat down. He looked distinctly uncomfortable. She noticed that he glanced to his right and she knew who he was imagining was there.

He silently drew himself together.

"Mr Paris," he ordered softly "set a course towards home. Warp 8."

PART THREE - Interlude

His arms closed around her stomach and he gently rested his chin on her shoulder. They both stared out the window thinking of each other. Both knew what they meant to each other.

Turning towards his chest she wrapped her arms tightly around his waist in silent imitation of his earlier actions. He rubbed his hands over her back, giving himself as much comfort as he was giving her.

Releasing her hold slightly she leaned up and kissed him, his world beginning and ending with the contact, the tears on her face mingling with his own. He embraced the kiss just as he embraced her - fully.

He paused briefly and whispered. "I don't want you to leave Kath. I don't want to be alone ever again."

She smiled up at him, her eyes luminous in the darkness of his quarters. "I won't leave you, Chakotay, not yet."

"Not ever," he added.

"You know I can't promise that, but I'll be here for as long as I can."

Her comment calmed him slightly, but the fear was still there.

Hugging her again he thought of all the times he had spent with her. New Earth, the time she had nearly died, the playful banter that had become so much a part of their relationship. The hidden touches and brief kisses they'd endured when they'd first started a romantic relationship. They had both been relieved when they'd finally announced it to the crew. Although he remembered with good humour the looks of surprise on certain people's faces when he and Kathryn had first kissed in public. He had a feeling that a certain Lieutenant had collected a large sum of replicator rations.

He focused his attention on the woman who was in his arms. Even though she wasn't really there, he felt as if she was. The smell of flowers from her gorgeous hair, the delicacy of her frame, the sardonic glint that was forever in her seemed so real.

Gently she pulled him towards the bed, seeming to know exactly what he needed. He laid down next to her, his eyes silently watching her. Smiling again, she took him into her arms and held him, letting him know that he would never truly be alone.

They stayed like that for hours, but slowly she started to fade. Her grip became lighter even though she hadn't moved.

When he realised what was happening the tears came again. "Please don't leave me." he whispered, so distraught that he couldn't even raise his voice.

She turned to face him. "I have to go now, Chakotay. I can't stop it anymore than you can. You know what has to be done tomorrow, don't you?"

He swallowed hard, unwilling to do what she asked but knew that he could never refuse her anything. Slowly he nodded.

Raising her arm up she tried to lightly caress his tattoo, but she had faded so much that all he felt was a faint breeze against his forehead.

"You're not alone, Chakotay," she told him in imitation of his own words 18 months earlier. "You never will be."

She was gone.


The next morning the crew assembled in the mess hall. It had been a year now since the Captain's death, and they had gathered to talk about her.

Almost everyone was there when Chakotay arrived. He had spent most of the morning trying to put it out of his mind, trying not to think about it. But he couldn't ignore it any more than he could his reaction to Kathryn's death.

Besides, he had made her a promise.

She was right when she said he would never truly be alone. He would always have the memories of their time together, however brief. And he had the support of the crew. B'Elanna, Tom, Harry, even Tuvok. Seven was proving to be valuable to the crew, and had a relationship with Kathryn that was different to everyone else.

After her memorial service nearly a year ago, he thought that he had gone on with his life, but after last night he realised he hadn't done anything. The crew still continued with their work, the ship still travelled towards home, but he hadn't moved at all. He was stuck between his personal life and his professional life. His professional life had taken command of Voyager, fought sixteen battles and triumphed, losing only one crew member. Even though it had been the lovable Neelix.

His personal life was a completely different matter. He'd repeatedly told the crew and himself that he was over her, that he able to go on. Partly this was true, despite the loneliness he _had_ carried on, but he was aware that she was gone every minute of every day.

Now he knew why Kathryn insisted he come here. He had to truly get on with his life and enjoy himself for the first time in twelve months. He had never really talked about her to the crew in all this time.

He thanked everyone for coming and invited them all to sit down in a circle. Cross legged, he leaned forward and began to tell them of the first time he had taken Kathryn on a date...

PART FOUR - The Ambassadors Gift

He felt guilty that Neelix's death hadn't affected him more deeply. Maybe it would have it the circumstances were different, but his death only reminded him of _her_ death, an event he tried not to think about but could never get out of his mind.

Resigned, he sank onto his bed and laid down fully clothed. He fully expected to have another sleepless night.

His door beeped, announcing that someone was waiting to see him. For one insanely glorious moment he thought it was her, that she wasn't dead, that it had all been a He had to try and face the truth. He almost laughed at that one. He'd been running from the truth for the last six months and would probably do exactly the same when the door swished open.

Standing up from the bed, he called out for the visitor to enter and walked into the main area of his quarters. He wasn't the least bit surprised when he saw who it was.

"I was wondering when you'd turn up." he told her.

"Have I really become that predictable?"

Before he could answer she wrapped her arms around him, comforting him.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she whispered. "I know that Neelix's death was difficult for everyone, especially you."

"Only because it reminded me know what."

She nodded in agreement. "You look exhausted."

"I haven't been able to get much sleep lately."

"You haven't been getting much sleep for the last six months!"

"Can you blame me?" he asked, his dark eyes displaying the depth of his pain.

She smiled. "Of course not. But eventually, Chakotay, you're going to have to let go. You know that."

He took a deep breath to control the fear he felt when he heard those words, and discovered he couldn't look her in the eye when he replied. "I know. I just....can't yet. It's too hard."

"I understand."

She is so wise he thought.

"Come on, you need to get some rest." she instructed him.

Docile, he followed her into the bedroom and she tucked him in.

As he lay there, a question burned in his mind, wanting to be asked. "I was wondering about how...Neelix's death affected you."


"Yes. I know the crew will miss him greatly. He really lived up to the title of 'morale officer' after..."

She leant back beside him and seemed to be staring up at the ceiling. "I am saddened for your loss of course," she began.

"But you think he's happy?"

"Oh I know he's happy, Chakotay." she replied, eyes sparkling. "You know how in life he was always trying to help everyone, cheer them up?"

"And trying to get them to eat his meals." Chakotay grimaced. After he said that, he began to realise how much Neelix had been under-appreciated.

"I swear he's trying to do that now, even though he's gone." she continued. Chakotay smiled. He could just picture the little Talaxian busying himself with some task in the after-life.

"No doubt he'd want to organise Gods seating arrangement." He paused briefly, then continued. "You know, I never realised before how much we took him for granted. He was always there for everyone, when they needed cheering up or a shoulder to cry on. Despite his attempts at cooking, he was a valuable member of the crew." He felt pained as he said that, and realised how much he _did_ miss Neelix. "I wish I'd told him."

"He knows, Chakotay." He looked at her in surprise, then realised that since she was telling him it was probably true.

"Anyway, I brought you to your bed to sleep, not to chat," she told him, feigning mock annoyance.

He smiled tiredly and tried to fall asleep.

It was only when he had finally relaxed for the first time in six months, did she lean down and whisper,

"Sleep well, my warrior."



The computerised beeping brought him instantly alert, a lifetime of training and slight paranoia helping him come out of his dream-like state.

He looked fondly down at the medicine bundle he had just been using and sighed. Once again they had been interrupted. And he had a good idea who had done the interrupting.

"Come in, Tuvok." he called, and sure enough the Vulcan First Officer entered the room.

His eyebrows were raised in a silent question. "How did you know it was me?"

Chakotay folded up his medicine bundle and stood up. "Educated guess." he replied, as he placed the bundle on top of a table. "What can I do for you, Mr Tuvok?"

"I have brought you the astrophysic report that you required." he replied, handing over the PADD.

Chakotay took it and pressed a few buttons. The PADD beeped as he took a cursory glance at the figures, but then he turned his attention back to Tuvok. "Well thank you for bringing these to me, Tuvok. Dismissed."

Tuvok nodded slightly and turned towards the door. And paused. This caught Chakotay's attention.

"Is there something else?"

Clearly there was. "I was wondering about your Medicine Bundle," he told him, indicating the object of his thoughts.

"Yes..." Chakotay replied, wondering where the Hell this conversation was going.

"It is used for meditation, yes?"

"Partly. We also use it to contact our spirit guides. Beings who give us advice throughout our lives...although mine had a knack for being cryptic." he admitted with a brief grin. He smiled as memories came back to him. "Did you know that B'Elanna once tried to kill her animal guide?"

The Vulcan's expression did not alter. "After knowing Ms Torres for over four years now, I find that event very easy to believe."

Chakotay didn't hear his last comment however, as other memories forced their way to this thoughts. "Kathryn once said that she thought mine was...a..." he stopped as he realised who he had been talking about. He hadn't smiled and talked about the Captain in a long time.

"Commander?" Tuvok queried.

"Yes?" Chakotay replied, still trying to stop thinking about her.

"Kathryn thought your spirit guide was a...?"

Kathryn?! He called her Kathryn?! To his knowledge, that was the first time Tuvok had ever called her by her first name. He decided not to mention it. For now.

"A bear. She thought mine was a bear."

"Interesting." Tuvok replied. "Although I can understand how she came to that conclusion."

What it his imagination, or was Tuvok actually making fun of him?

"What was it you wanted to know about my medicine bundle anyway Tuvok?"

"I was wondering if you would show me how to use it."

Chakotay was stunned. "Why?"

"I have always been fascinated by the beliefs of different cultures, and have discovered that we have many similarities in that respect. Vulcan children use similar devices to help control their emotions."

"I don't use mine to control my-"

"I am aware of that Commander. However, I would be interested in seeing how you use it. Of course, if it is against your beliefs I will not-"

Chakotay shook his head. "No, it's not that. I'm just surprised."

"Obviously." Tuvok responded. There he went again. He could never quite figure out when he was trying to be funny.

"Well stop by my quarters after your duty shift tomorrow and I'll introduce you to your spirit guide," Chakotay told him.

The Vulcan nodded and turned to leave. As the door swished open Chakotay stopped him.

"Tuvok. I just wanted to say....thank you."

"For what?"

"You know."

PART FIVE - The Captains Request

He didn't want to press the button, but knew that he had to. His finger hovered over the console, as the emotions within him battled it out for dominance. Somewhere along the way curiosity managed to get fear in a head lock and his finger moved downwards, landing on its target.

"Hello Chakotay."

"Computer, pause playback."

Her animated face froze on the screen, mouth opened slightly as if she was about to say something. Fear had overtaken his curiosity again for the moment. He didn't know if he could watch it. What would she say? Would she talk about them? About the ship? About the rest of the crew? Or would she talk about all of these things or none of these things?

There was only one way to find out. He knew from Tuvoks report that each of the senior staff had also received a message from her. She had always planned ahead. It may not have been a pleasant thought, but at least she was able to say goodbye to the people she loved.

What if they couldn't say goodbye to her?

Resolute now, he pressed the button again and her face started moving.

"If you're watching this, then you've now discovered that I'm dead." She paused slightly, then smiled. "You know, it's funny. After I admitted that I loved you I went back and looked at the original message I made. You wouldn't believe how dry and......boring it was. I realised that I'd tucked myself away, the real me, even in my last message to you. Can you believe that?" She smiled again, this time more broadly and said sardonically, "Actually, knowing me as well as you do you probably did know that."

He blinked as the tears began.

"So I made a new message." she continued. "This message. There's so much I want to say to you, Chakotay, but I don't know if I have enough time." She shook her head as if that was a silly idea. "What am I saying? This is a recording - I can take as much time as I want."

For the first time he realised that her hair was down. He'd been enthralled by those damn eyes again, and it was only when she moved her head that he noticed her hair. He remembered that she used to tease him about his obsession with her hair. It had become something of a familiar and heart-warming joke between them - she'd ask him why he was staring at her hair again and he'd stubbornly refuse to admit to any such activity.

The recording continued, unaware of its watcher's reminiscences. "You know how very much I love you Chakotay. Yes, it's a romantic love, but it's so much more than that. I love your smile.......did I ever tell you about the devastating affect of your smile? I hope I did. I love your patience, your kindness, your tenderness, but also the fierceness you hide under your handsome face. You've always been there for me, even when I was being incredibly selfish. I'm so glad that you waited for me, and hope that I gave back - at least in some small measure - the amount of joy you gave me. And you know, you were right. Even when we disagreed you were always at my side, making my burden lighter. I don't think I could ever express just how much that meant to me. But........I think the thing I loved most about our relationship was the fun we had."

He had to agree. They'd had a wonderful banter between them, and he knew it was one of the things he would miss the most about her.

"Of course," she insisted with an evil glint in her eye "the sex was incredible as well."

Her words got the intended response and he actually laughed out loud. Chakotay realised he was laughing a bit more than was necessary as he wiped the back of his hands across his wet face. He should have known to have some tissues ready, he thought wryly.

That was Kathryn alright. Always doing something unexpected. She had changed so much since they had first met, especially since they'd admitted they loved each other.

Her expression turned serious. "Chakotay, I know how much pain you must be feeling, but I also know that you have to keep on going for the rest of the crew. You have to let them know that you'll carry on despite the loss. I know that you will never officially be the Captain of Voyager, but I don't think anyone on the ship will mind if you assume the title. Besides, from what I hear some of the crew think it's about time that you took the Captains chair." she added, some of her former cheer returning. "To that end there's something inside my medicine bundle that I want you to have. Actually, I'd like you to have the medicine bundle as well and make it a part of yours."

He understood the significance of the gesture.

She sighed. "Anyway, I'd better go. I have to record messages for the others." He wanted to scream at her not to leave. As if reading his thoughts she seemed to look directly at him. "You'll be okay Chakotay." she told him with a watery smile. "I love you."



He slumped back in his chair. They had lost so many. Seska, Durst, Jonas, Hogan, Kaplan, Kes, Kathryn...would it ever end?


"All that I ask is that you be there for Chakotay. He won't show anyone how badly this is affecting him - you of all people know that. I suppose I don't really need to tell you this. You've known him longer then me, but I had to say it to someone. Well I'd better go. A Captain's job is never done. I love you."

She stood up from her seat, pondering Kathryn's words. Not sure what to do with herself she wandered around her quarters until her eyes came to rest on the figure lying in her bed. Climbing in she pressed herself against his back and wrapped her arms around his stomach.


He stared at the picture he held, and smiled sadly as he ran his hand gently over the image of her face. She looked so happy. Over the last year she had slowly began to accept life here in the Delta Quadrant, and had finally been at peace with herself for the first time since she had been sent on her mission to track him and his crew down.

And now she was dead...


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