The Edge

 

Disclaimer: I own some peanut butter, but I do not own Voyager. Paramount does. The good part: if we want peanut butter sandwichesÖparty at my house.

 

The answer in the end was simple. He didnít love her any more. If he did he would be walking through the crowd with her and not with Seven. He would have been by her side protecting her from the intense media microscope, not Seven. While her heart broke, she was Kathryn Janeway and she was not going to let any man get the best of her.

Kathryn threw herself back into work after a very short two weeks of leave. Gretchen had tried to get to the bottom of her daughterís sudden drive to get involved in the politics of the admiralty she had avoided nearly her entire career, but all Kathryn would say was that she was just trying to get back into the swing of things in the Alpha quadrant. A lie, but one Gretchen knew Kathryn had convinced herself was true.

Kathryn did everything she possibly could to forget her former first officer, but even conversations with BíElanna reminded her of him. She had had to end her weekly meetings with Seven because she could not stand to hear how Seven and Chakotay had made a happy life with each other. Soon after that, she ended her calls to BíElanna and refused to take any calls from the crew that were not business related. She knew enough to know that eventually they would stop bothering to call.

The months rolled by and Kathryn found that she had lost interest in almost anything that Starfleet was involved in. She wondered constantly if it ever rained this much before in San Francisco, or if the weather grid for the area was broken. It was especially confusing when her aid would walk in and tell her that it was the best winter theyíd seen in years, when all she wanted was to be back on her ship, and back in the Delta quadrant with her family and the familiarity.

Six months after Voyagerís return home Owen Paris stopped by Kathrynís office, with the intent to pull her out of whatever funk it was she got her self into.

"Iím worried about you Katie. Tom said you havenít returned anyoneís calls in two months."

Kathryn no longer had the energy to even fake a smile to reassure him. "I have been busy Admiral." was the only thing she said. She didnít even bother looking up from her PADD.

"Too busy to hear news about my granddaughter, your god-daughter? Or too busy to hear about how your young protťgť is doing after her first relationship ended?" Owen made himself comfortable in the chair across from Kathrynís desk. He knew he had her attention by the way that she had suddenly put the PADD down, but she still didnít say anything. "Iíve allowed you to hide for too long. You have a choice Katie, a month of leave to reconnect with the world and people you knew for seven years, or you can go through an entire psychiatric work up while you are suspended."

Kathryn looked up at him, eyes wide with shock. "That is a bit extreme donít you think?"

"Itís to make sure you choose the first option." He flashed Kathryn a devilish smile that made Kathryn think of Tom. She sighed.

"Have it your way. Iíll see you in a month."

The first thing she did when she reached her apartment was call Tom and BíElanna under the guise of wanting to apologize for not returning their calls. All she really wanted was to hear about Chakotay, and as always BíElanna obliged. The news was not good. Chakotay had ended his relationship with Seven nearly a month before. When she heard the time line, a month, and realized that he still hadnít made an attempt to get a hold of her, Kathryn felt her heart break into tinier pieces. After she finished her conversation with Tom and BíElanna, she called Seven to apologize for not being available during a difficult time. The former borg seemed confused by the formality, but accepted the apology and then filled her former captain in on everything that had happened since they had last spoken.

After she hung up with Seven. Kathryn went through her entire message log in case there had been a message from Chakotay that she had missed. There hadnít been a single call from her former first officer the entire time they had been home. That night Kathryn went to bed with tears in her eyes and the knowledge in her heart that she had lost the man she loved.

The next morning, she made up her mind. She was done with life in San Francisco. It reminded her too much of everything that she wanted but couldnít have. She quickly put in a call to her mother to tell her she was going away for a while and that she just wanted to be alone. She left a similar message with Tom and BíElanna then disappeared before anyone had the chance to do anything about it.

*****

Chakotay got a call from BíElanna two days after Kathryn had taken off. The half klingon sounded more than worried, she sounded furious.

"We canít find her anywhere Chakotay. The only thing we know for sure is that she is still on Earth." BíElanna slammed her fists down on the table in her frustration.

Although Chakotay hadnít talked to his former captain since Voyagerís return from the Delta quadrant, he had been keeping tabs on her from afar, through BíElanna and through Seven. When Kathryn had deemed herself too busy to talk with anyone, he had paid one of her aides to fill him in on how she was doing.

"I donít think Iím the person to go after her BíEl." He replied.

Chakotay watched as the engineer spit at the screen. "Donít give me any of that shit. You are the only person to go after her. My guess is you even have an idea about where she might be right now."

Chakotay sighed and closed his eyes. He remembered one of the many conversations he had with Kathryn about places they thought would be perfect to escape to.

"You do donít you?" BíElannaís angry voice lashed out at him. All he did was nod. "You made this mess Chakotay. Clean it up." Those were the last words she said before she cut the transmission. Words he understood, but hadnít wanted to hear.

When they first got home, Chakotay had been angry with Kathryn for not keeping the lines of communication open. It was Tuvok of all people whoíd pointed out that his relationship with Seven was probably at the heart of it of Kathrynís silence. It took a Vulcan to remind Chakotay of the volatile emotions of the human race. After that, it was his own shame that had kept him from calling her. He figured that it was too late to make amends. Chakotay did remember how prideful the woman could be, and how sought after she would be. Figuring that she would have other suitors, and a life she loved, he let her be. How he could have been so stupid he didnít know. Heíd figured she was strong enough to live on with out him, forgetting the times during their seven years on Voyager when he had seen how easily hurt the woman really was.

Chakotay thought of all the times Kathryn had retreated into herself and the blood ran cold in his veins. At least on Voyager, sheíd had an entire crew to protect her from her more reckless self. Here, she had isolated herself from everyone that knew what she was capable of and taken in people that were more in awe of her status in Starfleet, than they were interested in the person. He had left her alone to take on everything that had come up since they had been home. He packed his bag and headed out to get a transport to Ireland, hoping he wasnít going to be too late.

*****

Kathryn loved hearing the sound of the ocean against the side of the cliff. The sky was gray and the water was turbulent and it fit exactly how she was feeling. Even her long emerald green dress and her now waist length auburn hair twisted around angrily in the wind, an out ward indication of how she was feeling inside.

She was aware that he was there. That he had been there for the past fifteen minutes watching her from the tree line. Kathryn had a feeling when she left the message for Tom and BíElanna that he wouldnít be far behind, to check up on her. Chakotay was always the go to man when Kathryn decided to do something her crew considered out of character. She had figured though, that he would have had the nerve to come and talk to her by now. It had been three days since he got into the same small Irish village, but he had yet to do anything but view her from a distance. She was starting to wonder how she could have missed the stalker in him. There was a little warmth in her heart though that told her she really did want him to be there. That even though he wasnít yet talking to her, at least he was around. It offered some comfort. Some semblance of something that was familiar.

She had been hoping that her trip would help her to refocus. That the hurt would heal and she could go back to being herself, or at least go back to a time when she had the energy to put the mask firmly in place. But, all this time alone had done for so far her was cause her to sink further into her already deep depression. She wondered how it would have been if she had picked a place with a little more sun. A place that would have helped her to see the light that was all around. Would it have been as easy to take another step towards the cliff, if the sun was bright in the sky, and the rain hadnít started to fall?

*****

She was a sight to behold even still. He was stunned by the way her hair blew in the wind, and how the dress blew around her curves. He wondered how he could have stayed away for so long.

Chakotay had felt his blood pressure go through the roof when heíd followed Kathryn out to the clearing beside the cliff. He had known this woman to go down fighting; he had never known her to give up so blatantly. She was reckless, and had put herself in needless danger many times in the seven years he served with her. Often it was the subject of their arguments. But aside from once, when he had to get the crew to help him talk her out of sacrificing herself for them, he had never seen her give up.

Chakotay was sure that Kathryn knew he was around, but he had still kept his distance. He was worried that any attempt to go to her would cause her to pull away some more. Seeing her standing there and watching as she her took another step towards the cliff made him realize that he might have come too late to save the woman he still loved.

******

He swallowed his pride, and started the long walk to close the distance between the two of them. "Kathryn?"

She didnít turn to face him. "What did you want Chakotay?" Her voice was low and quiet, and barely audible above the crashing of the waves.

He took a second to think of what to say. "A second chance."

"Did I ever give you a first chance?" The tears were starting to flow down her cheeks freely now.

Chakotay took a chance and stepped a little closer to her. "You said to wait until we got home, and I blew it."

"You did what any one would have done; I canít fault you for that." Kathrynís eyes just never left the water. It was helping her to stay calm and not lose herself.

"I can fault myself. I promised you six years ago to wait, and to stay by your side." He almost had to yell now, since the wind had picked up. "So now Iím here, asking for a second chance to keep my promise."

She wanted to turn and face him now, but found that she couldnít. She didnít want to see him, not really. "Itís too late. Too much time has passed, and I donít hold you to your promise any more."

He stepped forward and dared to grab her arm. He pulled her towards him and away from the cliff. "Itís my promise to keep, and itís never too late."

Kathryn started to struggle against him. How dare he step in and pull her away from what had finally given her some sort of peace. Chakotay for his part simply let her pound against him, and instead of pushing her off, wrapped his strong arms around her. After a while she relaxed against him, buried her head in his chest and allowed the tears to fall. As much as she tried Kathryn couldnít remember how she had let things get this far. She cursed the stubborn streak that ran far too strong in her blood for not allowing her to back down. For causing her to not be the one that made the first call, and for letting her wallow in her own self pity for too long.

She pulled out of the embrace and looked up at the man that she had longed for these last six months. He looked the same, and when he smiled down at her, she got the same butterflies in her stomach that he had always given her. What was a second chance in the grand scheme of things? She pushed herself up on her tip toes and kissed him softly. "Never too late."

Chakotay grin widened. "Letís go. Itís too cold out here." He put his arm around her shoulder and started to lead her away from the edge, and Kathryn leaned in to him as he walked. "And Kathryn if I see you that close to a cliff again, Iím going to lock you in a room with the doctor."

 

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