Disclaimer:   Paramount’s, same as always

Rating:  PG-13

Notes:   Sooner or later, it seems, every J/C fanfic author has to write a story based on “Resolutions”.   I’m only following the trend.  And, in case you’re wondering, for the purposes of this story, C/7 never happened.
 
 

CONTRASTS

By Mary S.
 
 
 

Comfort:
 

           The wind sighed through the trees overhead, gently at first, but then gradually increasing in strength.   Kathryn lay motionless in her small bed, listening for the next gust, her body tense with waiting.   Ever since the day of the plasma storm and all the ensuing damage, she had been much more aware of the wind and what it could do.   The shelter, although durable enough in most situations, had already proven vulnerable to branches and other debris falling on it.   Chakotay had discussed reinforcing the roof with logs, but so far he had not figured out a way to do it.

           Creeaak!  A branch groaned as it tossed in a sudden blast, rubbing against another in its movement.   Kathryn stiffened, every muscle taut as she waited for it to fall.   But nothing happened, and after a moment she relaxed again.

           Another flurry of gusts as the wind picked up, howling now through the trees, swirling around the shelter.   She could see the outer wall of her cubicle vibrate with the force of the gale.    Again she held her breath, listening intently.   This time, she heard a crash in the near distance – a branch had fallen somewhere not too far away.   She shivered, trying to maintain control of her fear, but with each creak and groan, she became more and more uneasy.

           Craack!   That was right overhead!    She stared up into the darkness, wondering if she should dive for cover.   Again, silence reigned.   But by now, she’d had enough.

           She scrambled out of bed, felt around for her robe and pulled it on hurriedly, tried to find her slippers but gave up after a minute and scurried out into the main room of the shelter.    She glanced around, but could see nothing in the total darkness.   She moved forward carefully, feeling her way, until she reached the opposite side.   Her hand inched along the wall until she found the opening to Chakotay’s cubicle.   She eased just inside, then stood hesitant, listening for the sound of his breathing, wondering if he were awake.

           At first, she couldn’t hear anything over the noise of the gale outside, but then the wind dropped momentarily and she could make out his slow, even breaths.

           Kathryn sighed.  He didn’t sound very awake.

           She stood still, hesitant to wake him.   Deep down, she wanted to curl up next to him, but at the same time she felt somewhat embarrassed.   She began to turn back to the main room, telling herself she was being foolish – it was only a storm – but she couldn’t make herself leave.   Even though he was asleep, she found the sound of his steady breathing very reassuring.   Slowly she sank down against the wall of the cubicle, curling her feet under her.   Maybe if she just sat here for a few minutes, the wind would die down and then she could go back to her own bed.

           Very soon after, her head drooped forward and she slept.

           It was over an hour later that Chakotay woke, his bladder insistent that he get up.   Eyes barely open, he climbed out of bed and headed across the main room to the bathroom.   It was only on his return that he became aware of Kathryn curled up against the wall just inside his doorway.   He stared down at her, blinking, thinking he must be imagining things.   But when he rubbed his eyes, she was still there.

           He crouched down beside her, and stretched out a hand, wondering if she were ill.    He brushed her arm, startling her awake.   She stared up at him, completely disoriented.

           “Chakotay!   Wha…where…what are you doing?!”

           “I’m about to get back into bed.   The question is, Kathryn, what are you doing?”

           She blinked as he stood and called for lights.   She stared at him, her face puzzled as she tried to recall how she could have ended up here in his cubicle.    The wind chose that moment to gust once more, shaking the walls slightly.    She shivered involuntarily and looked down, remembering now how uneasy she had felt earlier.

           She glanced back up at him, biting her lip.   “I was…um…a little nervous, and I thought…you might be awake, like me, and…but you weren’t and I guess I fell asleep.   Before I could go back to bed,” she added.   She shivered again, as she became aware of her chilled bare feet.

           Chakotay saw her tremble and bent down, taking her arms in his hands.    He lifted her to her feet, then sat her on his bed, kneeling beside her and wrapping his hands around one bare foot.

           “Kathryn!   You’re freezing!   And your feet are like ice!   In you get!”

           Without more ado, he yanked back the covers and pushed her down, then climbed in beside her, pulling the blanket over them both and ordering the lights off.

           She shivered again, and he slid his arms around her, cradling her against him, and tucking her head into his neck.   His hands rubbed her back and limbs vigorously, trying to get her circulation going while he muttered, chastising her.

           “Really Kathryn, I thought you had more sense.   What possessed you to sit there, huddled on the floor?   Was the wind keeping you awake?  Why didn’t you call me?”

           She sighed, too drowsy to answer.    The warmth of his solid body had soothed her fears; she was so tired, she just wanted to go to sleep.   Her eyes drifted closed as she relaxed.

           Chakotay felt her settle against him and let his massage become a caress.   His fingers gently stroked her hair and face as she nestled into his embrace.    He was quite content to hold her for the rest of the night, or for the rest of his life, if she’d let him.

           “I love you, Kathryn,” he whispered, knowing she wouldn’t hear him, but wanting to tell her anyway.

           His only answer was her soft steady breath against his skin.
 

                             *******************************
 

Despair:
 

           “Voyager to Captain Janeway.   Voyager to Commander Chakotay.  Please respond.”

           Kathryn and Chakotay, bent over the computer console, looked up at the unexpected voice.

           “Did you hear that?” she asked.

           He reached to the upper shelf and lifted down the commbadges, even as the voice, now clearly identifiable as Tuvok’s, sounded again.   “Voyager to Captain Janeway.   Please respond.”

           They stared at each other in consternation and confusion.   What had happened?  Why had the ship come back?

           Of its own volition, her hand reached forward and picked up the commbadge.   “This is Janeway.”

           “Captain, it is good to hear your voice.   We have news.   We have found a serum which will counteract the effects of the virus…”

 
                                         =^= =^= =^= =^= =^= =^=
 

           A day later, dressed once more in uniform, they waited beside the shelter for the transporter to beam up the last of their possessions.    Kathryn stared at her garden, fighting back tears as she wondered vaguely what would happen to the tomatoes.   Such a silly thing, to be worrying about a few plants, she told herself.   But she had invested a lot of time and effort into those plants – she’d been so proud of them.   And now she had to leave them behind, along with the shelter and her burgeoning romance with Chakotay.

           A lump rose in her throat and she stiffened, trying to force it back.   She couldn’t break down, not now, not when they were about to leave.

           She sensed movement at her side and turned to face him, unable to hide her pain and anguish.   He gazed back at her, his face a reflection of hers.   She didn’t dare touch him – she would dissolve completely if she did.   As it was, her eyes were filling up again, but she couldn’t cry, not now.    She straightened her spine, lifted her chin and with the last vestige of self-control she had, pulled the captain’s mask firmly into place.   Turning away, she tapped her commbadge.

           “Janeway to Voyager.   Two to beam up.”
 

                                         =^= =^= =^= =^= =^= =^=
 

           1800 hours.

           The captain sat in her ready room at her desk, methodically reviewing ship’s operations for the past three months.   She had spent much of this long day concentrating on hard facts and figures, trying to bury her emotions.      At this moment, she was actually thinking that she had been reasonably successful.

           Just then, her door chimed, startling her.  She glanced at her chronometer and gulped, knowing who was there.   Gripping the arms of her chair, she took a deep breath and ordered the door open.

           Chakotay stepped through, PADD in hand, every inch the consummate first officer.    She glanced once at his face, trying to see his expression, but his eyes were hooded and closed to her.    He proffered the PADD silently.

           She took it, glancing over it quickly, then looked up as she realized he was standing at parade rest, his eyes focused on the viewport.

           “Thank you, Commander,” she managed to get out.   “Is there anything in particular I should be aware of?”   She thought her voice sounded reasonably even and controlled.

           His eyes fell to her face and he opened his mouth, then hesitated, as if unsure what to say.

           Her eyebrow raised.    “Commander?”

           “Uh, no…I…”  He paused, took a deep breath, then began again.  “It’s all there, Captain.”   He tried to hide it, but she heard the tremor in his voice and it went right through her defences.

           Her hand flew to her mouth as she stared at him.   “Chakotay,” she whispered, her tone agonized.

           His eyes bored into hers, she saw all the hurt and sorrow, and couldn’t hold back any longer.   With a little sob, she sprang out of her chair and around her desk, throwing her arms around him.   He clutched her desperately, face buried in her hair, his entire body trembling.

           “Kathryn!  I don’t know if I can do this!  It hurts so much!”

           She clung to him, arms wrapped tightly around his back, body pressed hard against his.   “I know, love, I know.   But somehow, we have to.”

           “I love you so much, Kathryn.    I can’t just stop.”

           “I love you too, Chakotay.    And I don’t want you to stop.   But we both know we can’t do anything about it, not as long as we’re out here in the Delta Quadrant.”

           He snatched at the unspoken words.   “But if we get home?   Then, could we?”

           She paused, thinking, then nodded.   “Yes.”   She leaned back to see his face, then cupped his cheeks in her hands.   “I promise you, Chakotay, that the day we get home, if you still want to, we will be together.    Can you live with that?”

           He gazed deep into her eyes, trying to peer into her soul.   She let him see all that she felt, only too aware what she was asking.    Getting home might well take the rest of their lives.    Slowly he nodded, then bent and kissed her tenderly, unhurriedly, his mouth caressing hers.

           “Then I’ll wait for you,” he told her in a solemn voice.   “Until we get home.”

           She breathed a sigh of relief, only now realizing how afraid she had been that he would refuse.    He meant so much to her, she couldn’t imagine not having that connection with him.    She reached to hug him again, burying her face in his neck, inhaling his scent, trying to memorize all of him.   It might be a long time before she could do this again.

           He wrapped his arms around her, and let his face fall into her neck.   They remained still for several moments until their commbadges chirped in unison.

           “Neelix to the captain and commander.     Can you both come to the mess hall, please?   The crew is anxious to welcome you home…”
 
 

                             ******************************
 
 

Joy:
 

           Earth.

           There before them, filling the viewscreen, not a mirage, not a false image foisted on them by some evil-minded alien, but the actual planet.

           Home.

           The crew sat in their chairs in stunned silence.   They had done it.   Against all odds, they had found their way back to the Alpha Quadrant and home.

           Reflexively, Kathryn glanced to her left, to Chakotay, his eyes pinned to the screen.    Feeling her gaze, his head swivelled around to look at her, his eyes widening as he read the expression on her face.    For a long moment, he stared at her, disbelieving.

           After five years, all the ups and downs of their friendship, the strains of command disagreements, the fact that at times each had strayed from the other, she was letting him know she had not forgotten her promise.
 
           Without conscious thought, he rose to his feet and moved to stand in front of her, his gaze intent.   “Kathryn?” he whispered, in a voice so soft that she could barely hear it.    But she knew what he’d said.

           Slowly she stood, gazing up at him.   “I made you a promise once, a long time ago.   And I’m willing to honour it.   If you still want me to…”

           Chakotay continued to stare at her, shock giving way to incredulous joy.    He reached up a hand to brush her cheek, then, heedless of their position on the bridge surrounded by the crew, swept her into his arms, crushing her against him.

           “Kathryn!   I thought you’d forgotten…!”

           “No, I didn’t, I couldn’t.”  She hugged him briefly, then eased back enough to see his face.   “No matter what it might have seemed like at times, I never stopped loving you.”

           He smiled down at her radiantly, then bent and kissed her, oblivious to the gasps of surprise and astonishment from all sides.

           “Uh, Captain…?” spoke Ensign Kim.   “We’re being hailed – by Starfleet Command.”

           Kathryn lifted her head long enough to turn to him.   “Why don’t you deal with it, Harry?”  She took Chakotay’s hand and led him down the steps to the ready room.   As the door opened, she continued, “I have something more important to do.”

           Only after the door had closed did Harry find his voice.   “Commander?!”  He looked over to Tuvok.

           As always, the Vulcan’s voice was even, although his eyebrows were practically in his hairline.   “You heard the captain, Ensign.  Deal with them.”

           Harry gulped, then pushed the pad to respond.   “Starfleet Command, this is Ensign Kim of the starship Voyager.   How may I assist you?”

    The End
 

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