Disclaimer:  All are Paramount’s; I just borrow them now and again

Rating:  PG-13

Notes:  This was inspired by the recent episode “Repression” and in particular, Chakotay’s seemingly changed attitude toward his captain.
 
 

DISTRUST


By Mary S.
 
 

           Thirty five thousand light years from home, a single starship made its way steadily through space, on the same heading it had held for nearly seven years.  One lone ship, powered not only by its warp engines but also by the determination of its crew to get home.   Time and again, they had met and overcome every imaginable obstacle in their quest, always moving towards their goal – the Alpha Quadrant.  In the beginning, they had been two disparate groups, enemies, but time and a common goal had forged them into one strong whole, united together.  Until now.

           A subliminal message, designed to turn the crew against each other, had been transmitted secretly from the Alpha Quadrant, a message meant to cause discord, disunity, distrust.

           The crew split apart into their original unequal halves – Starfleet and Maquis.  All the energy and effort put into building a solid alliance had been washed away by a mad vedek’s game of mind control.  They had become two crews, at each other’s throats, ready to kill.

           Even when the plot was discovered, the control broken and, superficially anyway, harmony restored, a lingering odor of suspicion was noticeable throughout the ship, an odor embodied by the leaders of the two crews, the captain and commander.  Once the best of friends, perhaps even more although no one knew for sure, now they sat in near silence on a bridge filled with tension.  Voyager was no longer a happy ship.
 

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           In the middle of another quiet afternoon, the captain handed over the bridge to the commander and retired to her ready room.  She was becoming more and more concerned about the state of mind of her crew, her erstwhile best friend, and herself.  Coffee in hand, she sat down to contemplate their future, at the moment not a very cheerful one.

           It all came down to lack of trust, she decided.  Regardless of the reasons why Chakotay had seized her ship, he had done it.  Her instincts urged her to be very wary of him, even though her head told her he had not been in control of his actions.

           Apparently, he felt the same way, although she wasn’t sure why.  A lingering effect from Teero, perhaps, although when she thought about it, he had been more distant for some time.  She knew that the mood of the command team often dictated the mood of the crew.  She wasn’t sure exactly how to broach the subject to Chakotay – he had become quite unapproachable, to her anyway.  Tom said he was associating almost completely with his former crew.  The only ‘fleet person he would go near in off hours was Tuvok.  Funny that, she certainly wouldn’t have expected it.

           In the midst of her ruminations, her door chimed, causing her heart to leap in anticipation.  Maybe it would be him, come to cajole her out of the doldrums, eyes laughing, voice warm.

           “Come.”

           Seven strode in, PADD in hand.  “Captain, here is the latest astrometrics report.”  As the door started to close, Neelix dived through to stand before her, looking very worried.

           Janeway sighed and reached for the PADD.  So much for that fantasy.

           “Captain,” stammered Neelix.  “I am becoming very concerned about the crew.  Morale is dropping every day, every hour!  And  tension is rising.  I had to break up a fight in the mess hall a few minutes ago!”

           “A fight!  Who was fighting?”

           “Mr. Dalby and Mr. Telfer.”

           “Telfer!  Billy Telfer?!    He couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag!”

           “Well, actually he can.  He landed a pretty good one on Dalby before I could get to them.  Captain, I’m sorry to tell you it was a ‘Maquis thing’.

           “What do you mean, a ‘Maquis thing’?”

           “Dalby claimed that he’d heard that Starfleet has ordered you to put all Maquis under surveillance, and that Telfer was spying on him.  It’s not true, is it, Captain?”

           “No, it certainly is not!”  She rubbed her eyes – the headache beginning to build was promising to be full-strength.  “Neelix, was this an isolated incident or have there been others?”

           “Well, there haven’t been any other fights that I know of, but there is a lot of talk – mostly rumours, of course.”  He hesitated, then plunged on with the last part.  “I spoke to the commander about this, just before I came in here.  He told me not to overreact.  It was just an argument that got out of hand.  When I told him what Dalby had said, he replied I would have to talk to you because he didn’t know!”

           Janeway shook her head in despair.  “All right, Neelix.  Thank you for telling me.  I’ll have a word with the commander.”

           “Do you think if I organized a party of some sort, a bonding kind of thing, that it would help?”

           “At this point, I’ll try anything.”  She rose and came around her desk to pat his shoulder.  “By all means, give it a try.”

           He smiled enthusiastically.  “I’ll get right on it.  Now let me see….”  His voice faded as he bustled out the door.

           Seven had stood at one side waiting for Neelix.  She had learned that allowing him to go ahead and finish his business was a more efficient use of time than arguing about who had arrived first.

           Janeway sat down, activating the PADD.  Her brow furrowed.  “Not much ahead, is there?”

           “No, Captain.  I would suggest that if we deviate slightly from our present course, we could resupply at this planet here.  It presents the best opportunity.  After that, the sector is quite empty.”

           “Janeway to Paris.”

           “Paris here.”

           “Seven is bringing you a course change, Tom, that will take us to the only M class planet in the area.  Input the heading and alter course immediately.”

           “Aye, Captain.”

           As she spoke, Seven left.  She felt the ship angle slightly, then straighten out.  Hopefully, they could negotiate with the inhabitants for provisions – there wasn’t anywhere else nearby.

           Her headache increased but she decided she better speak to Chakotay now.  This time, when her door chimed, he was there, but he might as well have been a stranger.  No smile, no twinkle, just a cold, indifferent stare.

           “You wanted to see me, Captain?”

           “Yes, Commander.  Please, sit down.  First, I have decided we should go to this planet – here,” she indicated on the PADD, “to resupply.  There don’t seem to be any others so we’ll have to hope we can get what we need.

           “Second, Neelix came to tell me of a fight between Dalby and Telfer, which apparently was sparked by some ridiculous rumour about Starfleet spying on the Maquis!  He indicated you brushed it off as just an argument, but it sounds like more than that to me!  I’m concerned, Chakotay, about the rumours flying around.  They’re not true!  Starfleet hasn’t ordered surveillance – or anything else for that matter!  I don’t know where they’re coming from, but I want them stopped!”

           Silently, Chakotay stared at her, then rose to his feet.  “Very well.”  He started for the door.

           “Chakotay,” her voice was softer.  “Would you like to join me for dinner tonight?”

           “Sorry, Captain.  I have other plans.”  And he walked out, leaving her stunned.  He had brushed her off as if she were the merest acquaintance!  Her heart sank as a lump came to her throat.  Where was her friend, her confidant?

           The commander seated himself again, picking up a PADD at random.  He looked calm and collected, but in fact, he was seething.  Damn her, she had tried to do it again – wave her little finger and expect him to come running!  Well, this time he had pushed her away and felt damn good doing it, too!  He was so fed up with her manipulative games, the way she only cosied up to him when she wanted something, and ignored him completely the rest of the time.

           Although Teero’s mind control attempt had failed in itself, it had acted as a catalyst to open his eyes to Janeway’s true nature.  He was through bowing to her every whim, being ‘her friend’.   She didn’t want a friend, but a lapdog!  And he was fed up with playing ‘bridge poodle’ and jumping every time she yanked his chain!

           He was still in this frame of mind when he went to the mess hall for dinner that night.  Neelix mentioned to him that he was planning a party to bolster morale and asked if he would escort the captain.  Chakotay looked quite disgusted, snapped “No!” and stalked off to a corner table to eat alone.  When Janeway came in a few minutes later, he rose and left without speaking to her.

           Tom, sitting with B’Elanna and Harry, saw the captain’s face flush, then whiten with anger.  He didn’t blame her; the snub was obvious.

           “B’Elanna,” he nudged his wife.  “Did you see that?”

           She nodded sadly.

           Harry, sounding uncertain, said, “Do you think we should ask her to join us?”

           “Sure.  Captain!  Come and sit with us.”

           Janeway looked up at Tom’s voice and headed over to them.  They made her welcome and chattered about the party, trying to take her mind off Chakotay.  She was very grateful for their kindness and began to feel better.  She had started to wonder if all the Maquis hated her!

           When they all rose after finishing their meal, she pulled B’Elanna aside.  “B’Elanna, walk with me, would you?  I want to ask a favour.”

           “Sure, Captain.  What is it?”

           “I guess you saw what happened there, what Chakotay did.”

           B’Elanna nodded.

           Janeway continued, her voice worried but also edged with sorrow.  “I ….don’t, I can’t talk to him.  He won’t let me near him, and I don’t know what’s wrong.  Could you try to find out what the problem is?  He trusts you.  Would you?”

           “Sure Captain.  I’ll go now.”

           “Will you come by as soon as you’ve seen him?”

           “Yes, right away.  Don’t worry.”

           “Thank you.”

           B’Elanna caught up to Tom and told him she had to talk to Chakotay.

           He kissed her gently and said he would wait for her in their quarters.

           She arrived at Chakotay’s cabin to find him tense and angry.  When she asked point-blank what was wrong with him, he mumbled “nothing”.  She replied that, obviously, that wasn’t the case and that she wasn’t leaving until she got the truth.

           His face twisted momentarily in a scowl before he sighed and turned away, his shoulders slumping.   “I don’t trust her, B’Ela, she’s using me, using all of us.  She doesn’t care what happens to me, you, any of the Maquis.”

           “Chakotay, I can’t believe you’re saying this!  You’ve always been the captain’s staunchest champion!”

           “Not any more.”  He looked at her, sad and resigned.

           “Will you talk to her?  She’s worried about you.”

           “She’s worried because she can’t manipulate me any more!”  He was getting angry again.

           “Chakotay, listen to yourself!  You’re becoming paranoid!”

           “Am I?  I don’t think so.”  He turned towards the viewport.

           In desperation, she grabbed his arm.

           He threw her back, hard enough to make her nearly fall.  “Go on, B’Elanna, get out of here.”

           She stared at him in astonishment, before spinning on her heel and hurrying out of his cabin.   A few minutes later, she was reporting to Janeway.    “Captain, I’m sorry.  I got nowhere.  I don’t understand him!”

           “I don’t either, B’Elanna.  He seems to have become a completely different person.”  She patted the younger woman’s shoulder.  “Thank you for trying.  I’m sorry it didn’t go better.”

           “I’m sorry, too.  I never thought I’d see the day when he would turn on me, but….”  B’Elanna got up and walked to the door.  “I don’t know what to suggest.  I’m….at a loss.”
 

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           The following few days saw a stalemate of sorts.  In lieu of any other ideas, the captain had decided to have no contact with the commander except as duty required.  That was what he seemed to want, so that’s what she did.

           Chakotay apparently realized he had overreacted to B’Elanna’s words and actually hunted her down in a Jeffries tube to apologize.

           Her chin high and her back stiff with anger, she stared him down and refused to accept it, because, she declared, he didn’t mean it.  He looked guilty but said no more, so she turned her back and continued her work, ignoring him until he left.

           On the sixth day, Voyager reached the planet and contacted the ruling authority.  The governor and her council proved to be a very curious people, most interested in making contact with others and quite willing to trade.  Negotiations proceeded well and before long, agreement was reached with the proviso that the command team be present in person to sign the accord.  Janeway seriously considered taking Tuvok with her, but in the end, decided such an act could be construed as undercutting Chakotay’s position, which would only make matters worse.

           They beamed down together to find themselves in the centre of a busy city.  The capital was not particularly large, consisting of two and three story buildings lining narrow streets, and dotted here and there with little parks or green spaces.

           They were met by the governor’s aide, who whisked them into the imposing structure in front of them, the seat of government, they assumed.   They were taken to the council chambers where the governor waited to receive them.  She was a tall woman with a regal air, but also with a kind look about her.  Janeway took to her immediately.  Introductions were made, the accord was brought forth and signed by all concerned in a lengthy ceremony.

           Janeway did her best to work though the formalities, but found herself floundering a couple of times.  Chakotay made no effort to help, standing behind her like the proverbial rock.  By the time it was over, she was ready to strangle him.

           The governor invited them to join her and her spouse for a light meal before giving them a tour of the city.  To refuse would have bordered on outright rudeness – perforce, they accepted.

           Perhaps realizing he had been unnecessarily sullen, Chakotay made an effort to be polite to his hosts, engaging in small talk and being as charming as only he could be.  The governor looked relieved to find him apparently past whatever had been bothering him – as was Kathryn.  As she heard him laughing, she dared to hope that he was feeling more like himself.

           Four hours later, as they returned from their sightseeing, Janeway received a call from Tuvok, advising her that an ion storm was fast approaching their position.  Transporters were already affected and they were running out of time to send a shuttle for them.

           “Break orbit, Tuvok,” she ordered.  “Get into open space to ride it out.  We’ll be fine here.”

           “Aye, Captain.  Tuvok out.”

           Chakotay’s face fell as he overheard the conversation.  He really didn’t want to be stuck on the planet with her, but it seemed there was no choice.  His good mood evaporated.

           The governor touched Janeway’s arm.  “Forgive me, Captain, if I am intruding into something personal, but there appears to be conflict between you and your mate.”

           Janeway stared. “He is not my mate, Governor, he is my first officer.  Our relationship is professional only.  You are correct, however.  We have been at odds for several days.”

           “Could I help in any way?”

           “You are very kind, but no, I don’t think you can.  It is…. something we must work out ourselves.  I’m sorry you became aware of it – that shouldn’t have happened.”  Janeway’s words were smooth and diplomatic, but in fact she was furious.  Damn Chakotay for allowing their disagreement to become public!

           The governor was sympathetic, suggesting that perhaps the captain would like to retire for the evening.  Janeway, who by now had a blinding headache, accepted with alacrity.  Goodnights were exchanged and within a few minutes, the same aide led both officers down a wide passage to adjoining rooms.

           As the door closed, Janeway breathed a sigh of relief.  Thank goodness she could finally relax a little bit!  She rubbed her temples and neck, trying to lessen the pain.  Oh, what she wouldn’t give for one of Chakotay’s neck rubs, but she knew there was no point in asking.  That thought led to the next – she was going to have to talk to him.  They certainly could not continue as they were!  Well, no time like the present.  She might as well get it over with.  Maybe her headache would ease if she could find out what was troubling him.

           She rose, went into the hall and knocked at his door.  There was no answer.  Damn him!  She knew he was in there!

           “Open up, Chakotay.  We need to talk – face to face.”

           Silence!  She knocked again.  Nothing.  Just as she raised her hand a third time, the door flew open to show a very angry-looking commander.

           “Stop that noise!”

           Her eyes widened at his tone, but she ignored it and pushed past him into the room.

           “I don’t recall inviting you in here.”

           She ignored that, too.  “We need to talk.  Now!”

           “I don’t want to talk to you,” he replied in a petulant tone.

           She’d had enough.  “Well, I do!  So shut up and sit down!  Now!”  she roared.

           He sat.

           Her words tumbled out angrily. “I want to know what the hell is going on with you!  I am fed up with being ignored at every turn, with the sulky attitude and the bad temper!  You’re behaving like a spoiled child!  It’s completely unlike you!  I don’t understand – any of it!”  Her tone saddened.  “What’s happened to you?”

           He stared at her with eyes hard and angry.  “You really don’t get it, do you, even now.”

           “Get what?!”

           “I’m finally on to your game, Kathryn.  Oh, it took me long enough, but now I’ve wised up.  You can’t manipulate me anymore – I’m through being your puppet!”

           “What?!”

           “You heard me.  You never cared for me, just how you could use me to get what you wanted.  All the smiles, the flirting, leading me on when you needed me, then ignoring me for days, weeks even, when you didn’t.”

           “That’s not true!  How can you think that?!”

           “Isn’t it?  Then how come, Kathryn, you only touch me when you want something?!  Do you know…I’ve learned to gauge how desperate you are by how much your hands are on me?!”

           “No!  I never meant….I touch everybody, Chakotay, you know that!  Often, I don’t even know I’m doing it!”

           She began to pace, agitated, trying to find the words that would convince him he was wrong.

           “I do care for you – don’t ever think otherwise.  I just – I have to walk a fine line trying to be both your friend and your commanding officer.  Perhaps my balancing act has led you to believe I was trying to manipulate you but I wasn’t!  Please believe me!  I would never do that to you!”

           She looked at him; his face was unreadable.  She began to hope that maybe she had won him over.

           They both remained silent, then he turned to her.

           “Nice try, Kathryn.  I don’t believe a word of it, of course, but I’ll give you full marks for effort.”

           “Chakotay, please!”

           “No.  I don’t trust you, not anymore, and I certainly don’t trust anything you say.  Now, get out!”

           “Chakotay….”

           “Either you go or I do.”

           She went.
 

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           In despair, Janeway wandered the halls, not knowing what to do and no closer to understanding why Chakotay had turned on her so suddenly.  Eventually, she found herself in a garden and sat down on a bench.  Try as she might, she could see no way to heal the rift between them.

           Her thoughts drifted back over the years, back to the beginning.  She remembered how she had found herself attracted to him almost immediately, how she had fought it, telling herself to get a grip and stop letting herself be beguiled by a pair of deep brown eyes and a dazzling smile.  For the most part, she had succeeded, until New Earth.

           Her heart lurched and a lump formed in her throat at the bittersweet memories.  They had come so close to a loving, complete relationship and then – Voyager had come back, and it had all had to be put aside for the sake of command.  She remembered the rueful look on his face as the realization sank in with Tuvok’s words that the crew had found a cure.

           She didn’t know she was crying until the tears fell onto her lap.  Oh god, she had loved him!  Still did, but couldn’t tell him, not as long as they remained out here.

           But even with those constraints on them, they had remained friends, at least she thought they had.  Where had it gone wrong?  When?  The first time, she knew, was their fight over the Borg – the first and certainly not the last.  Frightened by the sudden rift between them, in self-protection, she had instinctively pulled back from him.  She couldn’t let her decision-making abilities be compromised in any way.  If she didn’t have his unqualified support, she would have to do this alone.  That had been her reasoning, anyway, as she pushed him away every time he came too close.

           She took some deep breaths and dried her eyes.  To be fair, she should examine her actions through his eyes.  If she were honest when she thought about it, she would have to admit she did seem manipulative.  He didn’t know her rationale, and therefore could only assume she was using him.

           But why hadn’t he said anything before?  Really, it had been years – why now?  Deep down, however, she knew why.  He had loved her, loved her so much that he was willing to overlook how one-sided their relationship was.  She had used him all right, used his feelings for her to get through one more day, one more hour.  But she had given nothing back – ever.  Not even a ‘thank you’ to acknowledge his unflagging support.  Looked at from that point of view, no wonder he’d had enough; she would have, too.

           But why now?  She realized that his attitude had actually been subtly changing for a while, she just hadn’t noticed.  Teero’s mind control had been the turning point, but this had been coming for a long time.  She buried her face in her hands.  ‘Oh, Chakotay,’ she cried, ‘I’m sorry.’
 

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           As the night wore on, the temperature dropped sharply.  By early morning, Janeway was dozing, huddled on the bench, face tear-stained and her body chilled through.  Her mind had become sluggish with the cold, and her limbs felt like lead.  Sick at heart, she couldn’t summon the will to move.

           And so Chakotay found her.

           He had spent the intervening hours trying to sleep with very little success.  Although he firmly believed he was right, he couldn’t get Janeway’s horrified expression and words of protest out of his mind.  What if he had been mistaken, misread her actions?   Finally, in frustration, he got up and went to look for her.  Time to get this settled, once and for all.

           When she didn’t answer her door at the third knock, he pushed it open, only to find the room empty and the bed unused.  For nearly half an hour, he walked the halls and corridors before finally discovering her in the garden.

           Bending over her, he called her name.   When she didn’t respond, he shook her, then recoiled at the feel of her chilled arm.  She felt like a block of ice!  Damn fool, he thought in exasperation, didn’t she know better than to stay out here all night?!  He lifted her up and carried her back to his room, which was warmer than hers.  Laying her on the bed, he looked around rather helplessly, but there really wasn’t any option – her lips were blue!   He yanked off her boots and started removing her uniform.  Once that was gone, he rolled her into the blankets, wrapping them tightly around her.  The bed was warm; he had spent a lot of time in it, tossing and turning.

           As he perched on the edge of the bed, watching her, he noticed how thin she was.  Her personality was so forceful that a person tended to forget that physically, she wasn’t very imposing.  He remembered the last time he had been struck by her small stature.  On New Earth, on a hot afternoon, when he had gone looking for her and found her sound asleep in the meadow by the river.  He had sat beside her for quite some time before finally tickling her nose with a blade of grass, waking her.  It was probably the fondest memory he had of her, and, he had to admit, she hadn’t been using him that day.

           Sighing, he felt her forehead, then her arms.  Without a tricorder, he couldn’t tell for sure what her temperature was, but she didn’t feel very warm.   He pulled the blankets around her more tightly.  She moaned, then muttered something unintelligible.

           “Kathryn?  What is it?”

           Her head tossed from side to side in an agitated manner as she called his name, her voice verging on panic.

           Chakotay put his hands on her shoulders, trying to calm her.  “It’s all right, Kathryn, I’m here.”

           “Chakotay!  Please help me!”

           “Kathryn, wake up!  I’m here!”

           Apparently, his words registered as her body stilled and her eyes opened.  “Chakotay?” she sounded frail.  “Where….are we?”

           “In my room.  I found you outside, chilled through.  Kathryn, why on earth did you stay out there so long?”

           “I….was thinking…and I….guess I sort of dozed off.”  Her voice was weakening.  “I’m…sorry.  I’ve put you to ….more trouble…..I’m sorry, Chakotay….for everything.”  Her voice faded as her eyes closed and she slipped back into a semi-conscious state.

           He sighed again.  Despite all his resolve to keep his distance, he could feel her pull on him.  She was like a magnet drawing him to her.  She probably didn’t even realize what she did to him.

           Again, she began to moan, then cry out for him, fear rippling through her voice.  Her body was shaking, whether from the cold or in terror, he didn’t know.

           “It’s there, beside me!  Chakotay, help me, please!  Don’t let it take me!  Please!”

           “What is it, Kathryn?  What’s there?”

           “Chakotay!”  Her sobs cut through him.  “Hold me, please!  Like last time.  Please, don’t let me go!”

           He began to realize she was talking about the alien she had met once before, the one who had taken her father’s form.   “Kathryn!”  He took her hands, gripping them tightly.  “Hang on to me.  I won’t let it get you.   Do you hear me?  Hold on!”

           Her cries lessened and her body relaxed into sleep.  He wiped her face dry of tears, then stroked her hair.  And wondered what he was going to do now.

           Nearly an hour passed before she woke, this time with a bit of colour in her face.

           “Chakotay?”  Her voice was a whisper, but it was enough to get his attention.

           “Kathryn, do you feel better?”

           “Yes, I think so.”  She shivered, then looked around nervously.  “I’m still cold, though, and I had the most awful dream, at least I hope it was a dream.”

           “About the alien, the one who pretended to be your father?”

           “Yes,” she answered, surprised.  “How did you know?”

           “You were crying, you called to me to hold on to you, you said it was there beside you.  Was it?”

           “I….don’t know.  It was very vivid, very real.”  She shivered again.

           He took a deep breath, knowing he was about to give her back the leash.  “Would you like me to keep you warm?”

           Startled, she looked up, her eyes huge.   “Oh yes.”

           Kicking off his boots, he climbed into the bed beside her and pulled her tight against his body.

           Tucking her head into his neck, she snuggled into him, then yawned before closing her eyes.

           He settled her more comfortably and felt her relax completely against him.   “Go to sleep, Kathryn.  I’m here.”
 
 

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