Disclaimer:   Still Paramount’s, just like last time

Rating:  PG-13, for language only

Notes:  This is a sequel to “Despair”, which you really need to read first to understand this story.   Here, Kathryn replies to Chakotay’s letter.  Can’t say it often enough – thanks, Shayenne.
 


 


By Mary S.
 
 

Dear Chakotay,
 
           Your letter found its way to me by an unknown, and I suspect quite circuitous, route.    Under the circumstances, it was certainly a good idea to send it to my mother, although the Maquis code you used puzzled her greatly.   Fortunately, she decided to show it to me before deleting it as just another unsolicited message, which Tom tells me used to be called ‘junk mail’.     Although I recognized the encryption as one you’d shown me years ago, I couldn’t recall the algorithms and had to take it to B’Elanna to decipher.   She, of course, remembered them immediately.    Although I know your words were not meant to be shared, I thought you wouldn’t mind her reading it, too.   Besides, it was the only way I was going to find out what you’d written.   Those Maquis codes are hard to break!

           I’m stalling, I know, trying to find the right words to tell you how I feel.    Where to start?    ‘At the beginning’, I can hear you saying, and I guess it’s as good a place as any.

           My first reaction when I read your letter was absolute shock!   We had all assumed that you and Seven had slipped away weeks ago and were enjoying yourselves in some romantic idyll.   I had absolutely no idea either of you had been incarcerated!   And yes, you’re quite right, if I’d known, I would have raised holy hell right there and then!   Believe me, I’ve been raising it ever since I found out!

           To put your concerns about Seven to rest – she’s fine now, and gone to stay on Vulcan for the foreseeable future.   She’ll be safe there with Tuvok and T’Pel.   The Vulcan authorities have assured me that the people who seized you both, a shadowy organization known as Section 31, will not be allowed to set foot on the planet.   Knowing Vulcans as we do, that’s good enough for me.

           It truly frightens me to think what would have happened to her if you hadn’t written me.  You saved her life, Chakotay, because none of us knew anything was wrong!    I don’t want to say any more in writing about your captors, except to tell you that your suspicions were quite correct – they were not Starfleet officers.   Hopefully, you will have been informed by now that all the restrictions and conditions they placed on you have been officially, and permanently, rescinded.
 
           After I had alerted the appropriate authorities about your situation, I reread your letter several times.  Chakotay, I am most distressed at how lonely and despairing you sound, as if the entire universe had abandoned you.   I suppose, from your perspective, that’s what it seemed like, but it’s not true, you must believe me!    There are many people who care very much about you and what happens to you!     You’re not an infinitesimal speck in the universe!   You’re our friend, our confidant, an invaluable part of our family – Voyager’s family!    For the rest of your life, wherever you go and whatever you do, we’re there with you.

           When B’Elanna finished your letter, she was in tears.   She feels terribly guilty that she let you down in some way; I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so upset!    She will be descending on you shortly in order to reassure you, so be prepared!

           As well, I’ve had messages from every single member of our crew about you.   In essence, they all say the same thing – how much you mean to them, and how they truly believe Voyager would not have gotten home without you.   And they’re absolutely right!

           ‘And what about you, Kathryn?’ I can hear you asking.  ‘What do you feel?’

           You know me – better than anyone else.   So you know how hard it is for me to get past all the layers of command and training, to dig down to bedrock.    But I’ll try.

           The bottom line is I’ve missed you desperately.    Not just since we got home, but for over five years, ever since we were rescued from New Earth.    ‘Rescued’ – a funny word to use when I didn’t feel at all as if I were being saved, but more like condemned.    I didn’t want to go back to the ship, I didn’t want to be a captain anymore, I didn’t want the burden, the responsibility – none of it.   We were building a good life on that planet and I wanted to see it through.

           But we couldn’t.   We had to leave, had to return to command, had to rededicate ourselves to the ship and the crew.   Had to stop being Kathryn and Chakotay.    You have no idea how much that hurt!   Well, I shouldn’t say that, you do know, better than anyone.

           Night after night, I’d lie in my bed, trying not to remember, not to yearn for all that we’d left behind.    Tears of despair would pour down my face as, again and again, I would try frantically to think of some way out, a way that would allow us to have it all.   But, despite all my efforts, nothing ever came to mind.

           Eventually, of course, time dulled my feelings and eased the pain to the point where I could successfully pretend that I didn’t really love you anymore, except as a friend.   Well, that fiction got blown out the airlock as soon as the admiral told me about you and Seven.    I quite astonished myself with the intensity of my jealousy.   And I couldn’t let you know, or even suspect, how unhappy I was.   Over and over, I told myself that I’d had my chance and lost it and that I must be happy for you and Seven.   But I wasn’t happy at all – I was miserable.

           When I read your letter, I must admit my heart soared with elation at your words of love.    And I guess it’s time, past time really, to admit what you’ve probably already figured out.

           I belong with you, I know that now.  Whatever happens, come hell or high water, I want to be with you in whatever way you’ll have me.   I love you, Chakotay – I’m sorry it’s taken so long to say the words to you, but I’m saying them now.

           Over and over, it seems that fate has conspired to separate us, as if testing our resolve, but each time, we have come back together again.   However, I don’t want to tempt fate too often.   Therefore, I’ve resigned my commission and retired from Starfleet.   When B’Elanna comes to console you, I’ll be with her.    Until then, whenever you look at the stars, look towards Earth and know you’re in my heart.

                                                       Yours now and always,

                                                        Kathryn

THE END
 

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