by Suz

Disclaimer - they belong to Paramount, not me dangit.

Hey, this wasn't that depressing. Yay!

'Um' is the only way I can think to describe this.

WARNING - this story contains spoilers for the last ep of season six of DS9, 'Tears of the Prophets', and will no doubt be made entirely redundant by the events in season seven. What the heck?

'You hear something
About someone you thought you'd known.'


It started about seven months after we got back to the Alpha Quadrant. It took us that long before we could start to settle down...not that any of us settled down much. There wasn't much chance for it. The Federation was in the middle of a war with the Dominion, yet another race intent on our destruction, although this time they came from the Gamma Quadrant.

There were months of court hearings, and although Tom assured me that they used to take longer, every day felt like weeks. Ironic, really. I always thought that once I got back to the Alpha Quadrant that I'd be able to relax. The stress would be off, I'd be able to sleep without fear of waking up from an unknown alien attack.

Things never work out the way you imagine.

Personally, I think they rushed the whole thing as fast as they could. There was no doubt - the Federation wasn't winning the war. It wasn't quite losing yet, but at best it was a stalemate. They needed more personnel, and even ex-Maquis were better than nothing.

We were all split up and sent in different directions, to different postings where it was felt we could help the war effort the most. Kathryn tried so hard to keep us all together, and I think her failure felt almost as bad to her as when we were lost in the Delta Quadrant.

I was assigned to the USS Triumph as Captain. The Federation knew of my command of the Crazy Horse, and thanks to Kathryn's glowing praise they were eager to get someone with my expertise in the big chair. We didn't actually get the chance to see much action for a while. It was mostly covert operations. Staying out of harms way is possible, but meeting up with secret sources. I think the Federation thought that because of my past I wouldn't mind bending a few rules to win the war. More irony.

Keeping in contact with everyone from Voyager wasn't always easy, but I at least managed to send and receive one message a week to just about everyone on the senior staff and some of the ex-Maquis. Some of them had refused to join Starfleet despite the breakdown of the treaty between them and the Cardassians.

It was two months into my posting that the messages from Kathryn stopped. I wasn't worried, although I missed hearing from her. We were both busy, it was to be expected that we'd fall behind. As week after week passed with no new messages, I began to grow paranoid. I sent messages to B'Elanna and some of the others asking if they'd heard from her. They'd received nothing from her in well over a month.

Queries with Starfleet command got me nowhere. She was always busy or in another meeting. I was left with no other choice - I called in the big guns.

I called in Tuvok.


The com screen blinked into life. "Captain, I must say I had not expected to hear from you."

I smiled. "We're not exactly best friends, are we Tuvok?"

"No sir, we are not."

I winced and shook my head slightly. "Please Tuvok, no sirs."

That eyebrow went into action again. "As you wish Captain. May I ask why you contacted me?"

"It concerns Captain-"


"Yes. Have you heard from her recently?"

He paused. "I take it you have not?"

Ah, answering a question with a question. The most obvious way of avoiding something. But I was willing to play the game for at least thiry seconds. "No. In fact none of the crew has heard from her in over a month. And my requests with Starfleet command to speak to her have gone unnoticed."

Nodding slowly, thoughtfully, he rested his hands on top of the desk he was sitting behind, clasped his hands together and rested his index fingers against each other. "I see."

"You've heard from her, haven't you?" I was absolutely certain.

He didn't lie. He wouldn't. He might omit something, but he'd never straight out lie unless ordered to. But perhaps he had been ordered to... "Yes. Although I did not know that she had severed contact with the rest of you." Pausing for a moment he considered his own words. "Although knowing the Captain as I do I might have predicted these circumstances."

"Do you know what's happened to her?" I asked, frustrated.

His hands moved apart and he placed them flat on the table. "I apologise Captain, but I am not able to help you." He seemed most intent with his words, but his fingers were...moving. I blinked to confirm I wasn't imagining it. I realised what he was doing.

"Oh...well...thank you for your help anyway Tuvok. I think I might try my luck with Starfleet command again."

"Yes Captain. They would probably be able to help you the most. I'm sure that it's just that the Captain has been very busy." His fingers stopped moving. I smiled.

"Tuvok, how did you know I was calling about the Captain?"

"It seemed...logical."

The screen went blank. I spoke. "Computer, replay last transmission from Lieutenant Commander Tuvok from time index 2.344."


Damned Vulcan. Damned clever Vulcan. It'd taken me almost three hours to determine exactly what he was trying to say. Coordinates. They were in the heart of Starfleet HQ of course, but I had to see her. There was no choice. But we were in the middle of a war. Getting time off right now was going to be damn near impossible.

So, Captain Chakotay of the USS Triumph, former Maquis, rule bender...broke a few more. I went AWOL.


So much for Federation security. I thanked the Gods that off world defenses were keeping the Dominion at bay. Should it ever come down to a battle to take over HQ, they'd take it within an hour.

I waited in the darkness of her quarters for almost five hours before the door opened and she came in. I didn't say anything for a moment. I was content just to stay hidden where I was. She didn't turn on the lights, so the only way I could see anything was from the faint glow that emanated from the few consoles that were placed around her room.

I listened as she sighed, a sound that she had made so many times in command of Voyager. A sound that I hadn't thought she would need to make anymore once she got back to Earth. She started walking towards the replicator and she ended up standing so close to me, all I had to do was just reach out and touch her...

"Coffee. Blend 18. Hot."

It materialised and she drank from the cup eagerly. I guess there are some habits you just can't give up.

Waiting until she placed the cup down on the table, I stepped forward. "Boo."

She didn't freeze, didn't whirl, didn't gasp in surprise. She laughed. I could barely make out her profile as she sat down on the couch and finally looked over in my direction. "Please Chakotay, make yourself at home."

She was trying to be far too light about the situation, making everything into a joke. I wasn't in the mood. I declined to sit down. "I have actually Kathryn. Your quarters are quite nice. A bit sterile perhaps; I particularly appreciated the lack of any personal items."

She sighed again and I almost regretted my harshness. She crossed her legs. "Fine, Chakotay. You don't want to talk about old times. What do you want?"

"I want to know what you've been doing lately. No one has heard from you." I neglected to mention my conversation with Tuvok.

"I'm sorry Chakotay, I can't discuss it with you."

"Top secret? In case you hadn't noticed, security isn't very tight around here. I'm the least of your troubles."

She waved her hand up in the air vaguely, as if she were submitting. As if she ever would. "Ever since the collapse of the wormhole, the Dominion's forces have been spread a little thin. There have been suggestions on their part of reaching a peaceful end to the war. I have been assigned-"

"No, wait. Let me guess. You're going to be going into Dominion territory to negotiate with them, aren't you?"

"It's a wonderful opportunity Chakotay. If talks could go well, it could mean the end of the war. Do you understand what that means?"

I laughed. "Of course I know." I knew better than anyone.

"Then why are you angry?"

Too many reasons to list in one go. "Tell me something Kathryn. Have you really been 'assigned' this, or did you volunteer?" Silence, as if she were contemplating what to say. "Don't you dare lie to me," I whispered.

Her voice was strong, proud. "I volunteered. I was briefed about the mission but they made it clear that I didn't have to take it. They asked several other people as well. For the last few weeks I've been doing my homework on the Dominion, going over every record, every encounter. I have to be ready-"

"You can't possibly believe that they really want peace."

"I believe that everyone wants peace."

I turned away before quickly turning back. "Bullshit! You know as well as I do that this can't be a real chance to end the war. The Dominion will never give up until they 'purify' the Alpha Quadrant of solids. This is so like you."

"What is so like me?" she asked, voice tightly controlled.

"What did I hear for the six years we were on Voyager? 'You're my best friend', 'I trust you more than anyone', 'I can't imagine a day without you'. They don't mean anything without the feelings that go behind them. Did you really mean them when you said them, or were they just words?"

"You know I meant them."

"No, Kathryn. No I don't. You want to know why? Because after everything we've been through - all the alien threats, encounters, invasions, brushes with death, personal crises - you still don't trust me."

That got her attention. She stood defiantly. "That's a lie."

"Well then, let's see. If you trust me more than anyone...if I really am your best friend...why did you tell Tuvok about your mission and not me?"

"Is that what this is really about - simple jealousy?"

"There's nothing simple about this situation Kathryn. And no, this has nothing to do with jealousy. This is about you holding things back from me. You've done it before, and if your track record is anything to go by you'll do it again. Why don't you trust me?"

Standing immobile for a moment, she eventually turned away. "It's not you I don't trust."

A small piece of the puzzle slotted into place. "It's yourself?"

"You're getting a little full of yourself Captain."

"You didn't answer my question."

"You want to know why I took this mission? Fine. It was you."


"Not you specifically. My crew. The Voyager crew will always be *my* crew. *I* got them lost in the Delta Quadrant, *I* got them home. And what the hell did I get them home to? A quadrant that's on the brink of annihilation. *That* is why I'm doing this. After getting them lost so far from home I am not going to allow them to live war-filled lives."

"That's not your decision to make."

"Really? Then whose decision is it? It was my decision that got them lost, ultimately my decision to get them home. I chose to get us home and it looks as if we might have been safer staying in the Delta Quadrant."

I took a few steps closer to her, almost touching. "You know what your problem is? You're never satisfied. You can't stand it if things aren't status quo. We get thrown 70,000 light years from here. You have to get us home, fair enough. But it becomes your driving obsession. Then we get home, and you're still not satisfied because things aren't as you want them to be. They've changed. We've all been disappointed Kathryn, but we haven't become obsessed with it."

She lowered her head. "I have to do this Chakotay. I wouldn't be me if I didn't."

"I know. I've known since you walked into that door that I wouldn't be able to change your mind." I reached up and touched the side of her right arm. "What do you do to me, Kathryn?"

I only realised I'd spoken as her head shot up. "What?"

"I said, 'what do you do to me'? You aggrivate me, you annoy me, you infuriate me with your stubbornness...and yet when you smile at me I feel as though my life has been worth living. Why can't I hate you?"

Her head lowered again as if she were struggling to stop herself from crying. "It would certainly make things easier."

"For both of us."

"There's no need to drive your point home that hard Chakotay."

I smiled because I knew she did.

"I wish I could convince you not to go."

"You know...I think some part of me does too."

My arms went around her then, and I pulled her to me, the top of her head barely reaching my shoulder. She said nothing, did nothing. She simply let her back rest against my chest and covered my hands with her own.


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