To Blame
by Suz

Disclaimer - characters belong to Paramount, sort of.

I heard the song that inspired this story for the first time this Monday. Can you believe that? I instantly fell in love with it. I keep singing it, humming it, and I'll probably by buying it when I go out tomorrow. I would have got it sooner but my ankle prevented me from doing so.

This is for Lady V, who should appreciate this, but who I also lost a bet to and have to write three stories for by New Years. Not a problem.

This is also for Kelly. This is her fault.



He stood in my doorway. There was a padd in his hand of course - always an excuse - but I knew there was nothing of consequence on it. Probably some data he could have given me second hand or informed me of over a com link.

He knows me too well to bullshit now. Not even trying to explain why he was here, he placed the padd on the coffee table and remained standing, somehow managing to hide his expression from me. No doubt he had only brought the padd so if anyone saw him come in they'd assume it was for legitimate reasons.

It seemed something of a moot point to me. Everyone knew what had been going on lately - I, Captain Kathryn Janeway, had not been secretive enough in establishing an intimate relationship. That sounds so...scientific, where in this instance I had been anything but.

"I like him."

It was the first time Chakotay had said anything directly connected with my relationship. It was stated so simply, so easily that I couldn't tell if there was any emotion in his voice at all.

Chakotay had been an enigma to me for the first few months of our journey. Sensitive, definitely. Perhaps a little too much. Not that it didn't help our alliance, but he was always too easily led or manipulated. It's part of his nature. I can't really fault him for it.

But I can fault myself for not realising it sooner.

Seska, B'Elanna, Paris, Tuvok, Me, Riley...we've all lied to or betrayed him in some way.

Too easily led.

I know. I know it's not his fault - it's the way he is and he can't change. But neither can I. I need someone more like me. That's why I found someone who wasn't Chakotay.

And Chakotay was here, now. Giving me the equivilant of his blessing? Presumptious because I don't feel like I *need* that from him, but then I can't say I honestly mind him doing so anyway. I feel like it's more for his benefit than mine anyway. I care about him, and in my own limited way I love him.

"There's a lot about him to like."

Why am I saying this? I should be thanking him; instead I'm almost gloating about my relationship. I don't want to hurt Chakotay but for the first time in so long I'm happy and I want to talk about myself. Is that selfish? I know I am a lot of the time.

For example.

I'm sitting here explaining to myself why Chakotay and I never became involved, and all I can do is blame him. Very rarely is it the fault of one individual. That's it - I should analyse this like Tuvok. He'd never let himself get away with self-grandiosing statements. Well...not very often, anyway. Sometimes he seems more human than I do.

I'm not an easy woman to win over. It took Mark years - much longer than I've known Chakotay. As for other relationships...the ones that happened more quickly never seemed to work out. Yes, Justin died and that still hurts. But I can't let myself wallow over that any longer. Phoebe would kill me if she found out. Sometimes it's hard though, even now.

Then I realise the real reason Chakotay came here. He's worried about me. We'll be leaving this area soon and it's incredibly unlikely that my lover will be coming with us. He doesn't want me to get hurt.

Does he think I've never worried over him while he's been with other women? I know there have been others, although I have no idea how many. The only one I know without a doubt is Riley. He couldn't hide that from me. I don't know if he even tried.

And that was when I really began to notice the change in him and in myself. We undoubtedly grew closer on New Earth but since the incident with Riley, and especially since the incident with the Borg, we've drifted apart. Not that much really - we're still best friends. But a lot of the time the intimacy doesn't seem to be there as much as it was.

There are times though.

After hearing from Mark. I needed to talk to someone, and the person I'm closest to seemed the obvious choice. And...something happened in that conversation. *I*...*me*...I was the one who took a step forward. Yet he backed away. Plenty of time. I guess that's when I realised that if anything ever does happen it will be a long time from now. I don't want to be lonely until then.

I shift slightly on the couch. "I'll be fine Chakotay."

My words seem to reassure him even though I can still see the lingering worry in his eyes.

Nodding, he turns and walks quickly out of my quarters. My mouth is half open to call him back but nothing emerges. What could I possibly say to him?

Standing from my seat I walk to my bedroom, a smile playing across my lips as I look down at my lover. He knows what I need.

"Come here," he orders, in a not-altogether bad impression of me.

I do as instructed, and as he kisses me and pulls at my clothing, I force all thoughts of my First Officer from my mind.


you were always the mysterious one
with dark eyes and careless hair,
you were fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care
then you stood in my doorway, with nothing to say
besides some comment on the weather
well in case you failed to notice,
in case you failed to see,
this is my heart bleeding before you,
this is me down on my knees /
these foolish games are tearing me apart
your thoughtless words are breaking my heart
you're breaking my heart /
you were always brilliant in the morning
smoking your cigarettes, talking over coffee
your philosophies on art, Baroque moved you,
you loved Mozart and you'd speak of your loved ones
as I clumsily strummed my guitar
you'd teach me of honest things
things that were daring, things that were clean br>things that knew what an honest dollar did mean
so I hid my soiled hands behind my back
somewhere along the line I must've gone off track with you
excuse me, think I've mistaken you for somebody else
somebody who gave a damn
somebody more like myself

[Song words copyright of Jewel Kilcher]

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