BITTERSWEET GOODBYE -- R to NC-17

 

Disclaimer: All Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

This had always been her favourite place. The first time she had come here had been after her break up with Cheb shortly before she had begun at the Academy. This was a lonely spot with a spectacular view over the San Francisco Bay. The setting sun made it even more magnificent. It was a place with quite a melancholic aura, not only because of the barren rocks, which were stretched out from the row of trees and scrubs to the steep cliff. This was where many a cadet had successfully escaped the pressure of Starfleet and family, taking refuge in death.

This was where she had found herself years ago, tempted by the promise of eternal oblivion instead of the emptiness left behind by the deaths of her father and fiancé.

The red sky slowly darkened with heavy clouds, changing the atmosphere from romantic to depressing in a matter of minutes. Her empty laughter echoed through the night, the only sound apart from the wind. Hadn't she thought the notion absolutely ridiculous, she might have gotten the impression that the weather adapted to her mood. Only ten minutes later the sky opened, shedding the tears Kathryn refused to let escape.

Today Kathryn Janeway had been promoted to the rank of Admiral. The promotion had come with a job as head of the science department at the Academy. She had been elated when Owen Paris made the offer and she took it without a second thought. She wanted nothing more than to settle down and keep to a regular schedule without too much stress or excitement. It would not mean that she was permanently Earth-bound though. There would be projects that required her presence in space from time to time. Finally, after more than seven years Kathryn would be able to live her life, to be herself and she could not wait to share the good news with her friends.

Hurrying into the messhall at headquarters, Kathryn had found her former senior staff right away. Picking up a bowl of soup and a salad, she had joined them, a smile on her face and her eyes sparkling with energy. Today everyone had decided what to do from now on and they'd all been bursting with their news.

When she had sat down, Tom and B'Elanna had just started to tell everyone about their posts on McKinley Station. "It is the perfect place for us", B'Elanna had pointed out, "We’ll be together almost all the time and still do the things we love. And they have excellent child care facilities there." Her face glowed and her enthusiasm was contagious. Kathryn smiled at the young couple. Seven years ago she wouldn't have thought it possible that these two would find happiness with each other.

Feeling his gaze upon her, Kathryn glanced at Chakotay, who sat across from her. They exchanged a knowing look. Very soon they would be as happy as their former crew members. Not once had they talked about what would happen once they reached the Alpha Quadrant. They just knew it. She could not tear her eyes away from him, didn't want the warmth that spread within her to go away. Everything would be great now. She had the job she'd always dreamed of and Chakotay had been offered three different jobs as a professor of anthropology, something he’d talked about all the time in the Delta Quadrant.

One after the other, the former senior staff of Voyager had talked about their job offers and which job they had decided on. Everyone had been happy with their new lives in the Alpha Quadrant.

When Chakotay had started to talk, Kathryn had been almost sure what job he had taken. She hadn't been at all prepared for what had come then. Chakotay had decided to decline the tempting offers here on Earth. Instead he’d live with his sister on Dorvan V and help with the rebuilding of the colony. He had told them that he could no longer ignore his longing for home and that he would take the next transport.

Kathryn had just stared at him, not believing what she'd heard. Suddenly her wonderful new life had collapsed around her and she had to bite her lip to keep her reaction unnoticed by the others. She had had to get away from them and quick. Jumping up she had muttered something about a meeting she had forgotten and had fled the room. Hurrying out of the building and across the campus, Kathryn had found herself at this secluded spot.

The heavy rain had her soaked through in a matter of minutes and she shivered violently.

Even before the warm jacket was wrapped around her from behind she had felt his presence. He turned her around and drew her against his comforting body. Kathryn wrapped her arms around him, clinging to him. Although her first impulse had been to hit him or yell at him she was now glad he was here and wanted nothing more than to be held by him.

Kathryn did not care that his strong arms painfully squeezed her ribs or that she had difficulty breathing. She needed to feel him, needed the connection. The pain was a lifeline and she hung onto it and him in desperation.

Chakotay planted kisses into her hair, and moving down the side of her face he found her willing lips. Their fierce kiss grew in intensity and communicated their despair. Hands wandered over unfamiliar territory, clawing at hindering layers of clothing until it gave up its resistance and landed on a pile in the wet grass.

His warm hands moved over her back, opening her bra and moving it out of the way to free the way for his questing lips. Dressed only in their tank tops the two lovers sank to the ground, his lips locked around her nipple, her head thrown back.

When the desire inside her built up to unbearable heights, Kathryn laid back and pulled Chakotay down with her. Her lips found his for another searing kiss as her hands slid down between their bodies to reach his hard member.

It wasn't the gentle lovemaking they had both envisioned for their first time. It wasn't the promise of a lifetime together either. It was a desperate shoving and pushing, it was hard, loud and messy. It was the intimate goodbye of two people who were forced apart by circumstances, a bittersweet goodbye that left them both emotionally and physically drained.

With the last bit of strength he possessed, Chakotay rolled on his back and took Kathryn with him. Her head rested on his shoulder and he held her close with his right hand, staring into the starlit sky.

Their tears fell silently, mingling with the rain.

******

When Chakotay raised his head to look into her eyes, he saw a profound sadness in them. The same sadness he felt in himself. They gazed at each other for a long moment until Kathryn shivered from the cold. They were both wet to the bone and being only half dressed didn't help much either.

Chakotay tore his eyes away form hers, and carefully rolling over he stood up, pulling her to her feet after him. He reached under her tank top to close the bra, grazing her breasts with his fingers in the process. While he rearranged her layers of clothing, she did the same for him. After closing the zipper of his uniform jacket, Kathryn let her hands rest on his chest and closed her eyes for a moment, trying to shut out the reality of their situation for just a little longer.

"So this is it then, right?" She didn't want to face him, but did it anyway. A tear escaped her eyes.

"Yes, I guess it is. Will we stay in touch?" He spoke quietly, not bothering to hide his sadness. His eyes told her that he already knew the answer to his question. She took his hands in hers and looked down at them, stroking her thumbs over his skin.

"I don't think that is a good idea, Chakotay. We both need to move on with our lives without looking back at what we lost along the way."

Chakotay nodded and tugging at her hands he pulled her into a fierce hug, whispering into her ear.

"I know, but I won't ever forget you, Kathryn. I wish you well for your future."

His gentle tone nurtured the lump in her throat until she thought she would suffocate.

"I won't forget you either. I hope you find the happiness you deserve. And who knows, maybe someday..." She couldn't finish the thought. Instead she pushed herself away from him and placed a soft kiss on his lips before she stepped away, their hands and eyes the only connections left.

"Maybe." Chakotay gazed at her one last time, squeezing her hand before he turned around and walked away.

She watched him walk away from her, heading towards a future that did not include her and she couldn't help but wonder who would share it with him. The thought of him with another woman was killing her.

She sank to her knees and cried. The soft grass swallowed her anguished screams.

Again the endless depth was calling out to her, louder than ever. It was hard to resist its promise of eternal peace.

After a time she couldn't tell if her shivering was due to the cold or the pain. It wouldn't stop either way. The wetness had reached her bones and made movement almost impossible. Very slowly the pain went away, leaving her dead inside. She didn't even feel the cold anymore.

Kathryn had lost all sense of time. She didn't know how long she had been lying in the wet grass when two pairs of gentle hands pulled her to her feet. Something was wrapped around her shoulders and the hands led her away. The thought of resisting never even crossed her mind so she hung onto strong shoulders and let them bring her away.

It was some time before she became aware of her surroundings again. She was lying in her bed in her mother's house, wrapped into several blankets and wearing dry clothes. Kathryn was about to get up when the door opened and her mother entered with pot of steaming tea.

"Oh no, you don't!" She gently pressed her daughter back into the pillow and sat on the edge of the bed.

"You gave us quite a scare earlier. I'm so glad you're awake now. How are you feeling? And what the heck where you doing out there anyway?"

Kathryn thought a few moments about how to explain to her mother what had happened earlier. How do you put into words something that changed the way you saw your future in such a drastic way? She closed her eyes briefly to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall once again.

"He's gone." She didn't say anything else and her mother didn't need her to. Gretchen Janeway pulled her daughter into a hug and let her cry out her pain again. When the sobs finally stopped, she held Kathryn's face between her hands and wiped the tears away with her thumbs.

"You will find your happiness one day. It will take time, but trust me, it will happen." Her mother's soft voice had a calming effect, and although Kathryn wasn't so sure about happiness, she knew that her life would go on and that she would make the most of it.

*****Eight Years Later*****

Kathryn knew why she hadn't wanted to come. Carol Malcom's paintings had never been her cup of tea. She simply didn't understand them and wasn't motivated enough to try. It had been her sister who had insisted that she came along. Carol was a friend of their family and Phoebe had pointed out that it had been 18 years since Kathryn had last attended an opening of her exhibitions. It was hard work for her to pretend to be interested in the artist's work and to try and endure all the talk about what the artist wanted to convey with this or that painting.

Standing in front of a particularly confusing painting, Kathryn attempted to appear interested in this chaotic mixture of dark colours that only worsened her mood further.

"I'd say Carol must have been in one hell of a foul mood when she painted that one."

A shiver ran down her spine and she closed her eyes as the deep, soft voice vibrated though her entire body. She felt the warmth of his body right behind her. Very slowly Kathryn turned around without opening her eyes. She took a few calming breaths before she had the courage to open them again and let them travel from his broad chest over his lovely face to the endless pools of brown. Their eyes locked and they stared at each other for several moments.

At a loss for words Kathryn reached out and cupped his face with her right hand, caressing the slightly wrinkled skin around his eye. Chakotay leaned into her soft touch and breathed in the flowery smell of her perfume before he took another step towards her to close the gap between them and pulled her into a tight embrace.

As Kathryn threw her arms around his neck she realized that her body recognized his immediately, despite the subtle changes the past eight years had caused. His hair had several very attractive silver highlights and there were some wrinkles she hadn't seen before, but he was just has fit and devastatingly handsome as he had been eight years ago.

Kathryn grabbed his face with her hands and kissed him soundly on the mouth, using his gasp to sneak her tongue past his lips and explore his mouth. For a very short moment Kathryn feared that Chakotay didn't want her anymore, that he had moved on, but then he drew her even closer and deepened their kiss and her last doubts vanished.

When the need for air forced them apart Kathryn rested her forehead against his chest, trying to calm her heart.

"I've come home, Kathryn. If you'll have me that is." His joyous expression changed into one of doubt as he realized that she might not want him in her life anymore.

"I won't let you go a second time, Chakotay. I don't want to be without you anymore."

They kissed again; less urgent now that they knew they had the rest of their lives.

******

Leaning against the far wall, Phoebe watched as her sister kissed a very handsome stranger. They were practically eating one another alive, oblivious to the staring bystanders.

"I've seen many reactions to this painting, but this one's a first." Carol handed Phoebe a glass of champagne and smiled at the lovely scene that played out in front of the rather depressive background.

 

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