I thought myself prepared. I planned for contingencies. I said goodbye to the few who really needed to be said goodbye to, especially him. People might have argued with me about that one. After all, he was dead wasn’t he? That was just the point, though. Chakotay was dead and I simply couldn’t do without him. So I went to see him once last time, hoping that when I was done I wouldn’t have to.
What I wasn’t prepared for was seeing him again when I arrived back in time. I wasn’t prepared to see him alive and unbroken. My very heart burst at the sight, as if I’d forgotten the reality of him. It was all I could do not to fall apart in front of everyone, and that simply wouldn’t do. No, Admiral Kathryn Janeway needed, more than ever, to be steely and confident. She couldn’t collapse at the sight of Chakotay’s very existence.
Rest assured that I did it in the first moment of solitude that I had, but in the meantime I had to fake a casual comfort I didn’t feel. I had to convince my younger self. I had to convince them all.
They were both watching me: Chakotay and my younger self. To be fair, everyone was watching me, but those two sets of eyes seemed stronger than the rest. The self I hoped would never become me had a gaze that was evaluatory, reflective. She was trying to sort me out, whether I could possibly be for real.
Chakotay. I noticed that he and the younger Kathryn weren’t looking at each other, at least not at the same time. It hurt to be reminded of the slide into distance they were headed towards. That could all change, I had to remind myself. Still, when his eyes met mine I found I’d forgotten what it was like to be seen by Chakotay, to have his intense yet gentle gaze on my face.
I was painfully aware of the years that had passed between the woman I had once been and the one I’d become. I wondered what he saw when he looked at me. It was hard to remember that he wasn’t my Chakotay, or he was perhaps but I wasn’t his Kathryn. What did he see when he looked at me, at her future? A bullet dodged? A tragedy to be pitied?
It doesn’t matter. I reminded myself. He was alive. He was alive and well and I was here to make sure he stayed that way, whatever else did or did not change that was the priority. Still, of course I had other hopes, other goals. Maybe I was too late, but my eyes met his and I couldn’t help feeling otherwise.
There was a lot to be discussed, to be sorted, but eventually I was left alone. I walked up the familiar shape of one of Voyager’s replicators and almost ordered coffee reflexively. Instead, I remembered and collected tea instead. These weren’t my quarters, not in my heart, but of course I wasn’t the captain here, not now. Still, I wasn’t surprised when my door chimed, though I expected anyone else.
“Kath- Admiral.” he corrected, standing awkwardly like he didn’t know how to approach me.
“Come in, Chakotay.” I smiled, a painful sort of amusement overtaking me, “You don’t have to be so formal. I’m still me.”
“It’s a little hard to reconcile, especially with you standing there with a mug of tea.”
I could feel the hint of our comfortable familiarity, as his voice took on a shade of teasing. Still, I knew I was not familiar to him the way he was to me. I remembered him at this point in time after all.
“It’s okay. You can say it.” I gestured for him to join me on the sofa, “I’ve gotten old.”
Not like your pretty young former drone. She’s still got a lot of wear left on her, I didn’t say, but I thought it.
“Not at all. I’m certain you could still kick my ass five ways to Sunday.” Chakotay did that thing where he smiled and looked down at the ground bashfully, “I’m sure I am not in nearly such great shape at…”
He stopped short at my grimace, thankfully mistaking my change in expression for an unwillingness to discuss my age rather than a reaction to his mentioning his status in 2404. Don’t ask. I silently willed him. I didn’t want to tell him about his death, the very thing he’d feared.
“What brings you to see me, Commander?” I set my teacup down on the table and turned to face him, “Did you want to know something about the future?”
Please don’t ask about you and Seven.
“And violate the almighty temporal time directive?” he winked, but then his face turned earnest, “No. I wanted to talk about the past.”
Suddenly I was drowning in his face, in his eyes. His look was so intense, the kind of look I’d forgotten what it was like for him to give me. Maybe I really was wrong about what it meant. I couldn’t help thinking. I’d thought that look was one of longing, but maybe he’d only ever truly been my friend.
“Whose past? Yours or mine?” I swallowed, cupping the teacup in my hands once more for comfort.
“Ours.” he stated simply, pausing to let the words sink in.
There was a part of me that wanted to balk, to tell him he was out of line, or at the very least to tell him to ask his Kathryn, the one it wasn’t too late for. Instead I said only, “What exactly do you want to know?”
“Did I lose you somewhere along the way, or was I just imagining there was ever hope?” Chakotay did that signature movement of his where he looked down and away, giving me a good view of his eyelashes.
I tried to gauge his motivation. Was he just curious? Angry? Of all the things to bring up, why this now? In my timeline we’d never quite discussed it, even after it was too late.
“Does it matter?”
My impulse was to lie, to evade, to conceal. I’d gotten so used to doing so. At the same time I’d gotten out of the habit of facing Chakotay and my resistance to him had suffered as a result, like the alcohol tolerance of someone who has been sober for a decade.
“It does to me.” Chakotay looked back up to my face. I’ve never considered myself vain but I couldn’t help being aware of the years between us. I realized my hands were trembling slightly and set down my cup to conceal the movement as my resolve to hold my tongue weakened.
“No.” I stated simply, getting up and walking away until I reached the edge of the quarters and was forced to turn back.
“No to which?” I could hear the exhaustion and frustration in his voice. It was no wonder he’d turned to Seven, given up. I could see it all too clearly now, how the years of waiting without an answer in any way had driven him to the breaking point. They’d broken me too, but in different ways, ways few could see or understand.
“Both.” My voice came out firm but quiet.
“Both?” He looked perplexed, and the old desire to reach up and trace the furrows in his brow out to the edge of his tattoo consumed me.
“You weren’t imagining it, Chakotay, and you didn’t lose me. I’m the one who has lost you.”
More than once. I didn’t add outloud. I’d lost him to the mission. I’d lost him to Seven. I’d lost him to Seven’s death. Finally, I’d lost him to his own demise.
His eyes scanned my face, as though trying to decipher a mystery.
“I don’t understand. You never…” he paced agitatedly.
I stood and crossed to him, my affection for him overtaking my pride, hurt, and good sense.
“I wanted you to be happy, Chakotay.” I told him, taking his big strong hands in my withered ones, “I couldn’t let the crew pay the price, but if I had to so be it.”
“I would have waited. I will wait-”
The idea that he still wanted Kathryn, that he would still choose her given the chance, I was incapable of not feeling a rush of emotion at that revelation. I wasn’t here to wallow or bask, though. I was here to fix it for our younger selves, to create a better future. I couldn’t allow myself to be caught up in the moment.
“You should tell her that, your Kathryn, not me.” I went to turn away but he kept hold of my hands.
“I don’t want to burden her. I made a promise once…”
I remembered the declaration, remembered thinking that the future was ours. I’d thought I had all the time in the world.
“She needs to hear it.” I told him, “She may not think it, but she does. I was her once. I know.”
I felt a pang of guilt at using time travel selfishly like this, but I couldn’t not say anything, not when he’d sought me out and brought it up. Hope spread through me, that I couldn’t just save him… I could save us.
“What about you?” Chakotay reached out and caressed the side of my face and it was hard to remember that I was not his Kathryn by almost three decades, “I know I said I wasn’t going to ask but did we ever-”
“No.” I could hardly contain the sob that wanted to burst from my throat, “We were too stubborn. I was too stubborn.”
His thumb traced gently over my lips and all I could think of his how much I had missed him, missed him looking at me like this, missed soaking in his closeness. How had I ever resisted my longing for him?
“I’ve been a fool.” he said with utter conviction, “I just thought I was doing what you wanted. I was a coward.”
“Why ask me?” I breathed, “You never did.”
“What have you and I got to lose at this point?” he pointed out.
“You should go to her. There’s no need for you to waste your time the way we did.”
It felt so good to have him close, to hear his voice soft and earnest telling me what I’d stopped believing was true so long ago. I’d given up my shot at this, though. It had to be enough to know that there was a different future out there now for us, in the other Kathryn’s timeline.
“I’m not wasting my time.” he replied, leaning in and moving his lips to mine. The first brush was soft, slow, an apology, but I couldn’t help responding, kissing him back like I’d longed to do for so many years.
He met my intensity with his own, running his hands through my hair like it hadn’t gone white and exploring my mouth with a single minded focus.
“I love you, Kathryn. Spirits know how I’ve waited so long to say it.”
Neither of us had heard the door slide open, not until the crashing sound behind us pulled both of us back to reality.
I watched my younger self standing there, her face a mask of disbelief and confusion, but under that something else that if it hadn’t once been my face I might not have recognized. A stack of PADDs was scattered on the ground around her.
“You do?” she seemed to speak without realizing it.
Chakotay glanced back and forth between us, as if he couldn’t figure out whether to stay with me or go to her. I let go of him and pushed him towards her gently.
“Always.” he replied, eyes darting back and forth between the two of us.
“There’s no point in denying that you love him back.” I cut in, as she was standing there speechless, “I already spilled the beans.”
It took her a moment, but eventually she decided against words, and instead wrapped her arms around Chakotay’s neck and kissed him thoroughly, a sight that was as welcome as it was confusing. I watched his hands encircle her waist and her body melt into his and their mouths devour one another.
Eventually they seemed to remember me and pull apart, flushed and slightly embarrassed.
“Don’t stop on my account.” I told them, warmed by the knowledge that they had a future together, though regretful I had wasted it the first time round, “I can go take a walk.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” she countered, “We aren’t going to kick you out of your quarters.”
The two of them exchanged glances and I recalled how Chakotay and I had once been able to communicate wordlessly and wondered how much better that worked with the emotional barriers down.
“Besides” Chakotay added, “You’re a part of this.”
Kathryn nodded, and they both moved towards me, “You’re me and…”
“I need to set things straight. It isn’t right that I’ve never showed you exactly how much I love you.”
I shifted my focus to her and saw she was nodding. Each of them took one of my hands and Chakotay leaned forward and kissed each of us in turn.
“You don’t have to.” I argued, “I’m hardly a match for the woman I once was.”
I indicated the other Kathryn but Chakotay shook his head.
“I’ve spent years thinking about us spending our lives together… all of them” he insisted.
“How would I feel, thinking he only craved my fading youthfulness?” she pointed out.
I looked at her, and I remembered feeling that way, feeling like my beauty was leaving me, but I saw only how radiant and lovely she looked. Perhaps Chakotay could help her see what the mirror could not.
“We always were unstoppable when we agreed.” I laughed.
Chakotay drew my face to his and kissed me slow and deeply, one hand running along the back of my neck. I felt her squeeze my hand in encouragement.
“I vote he loses the uniform.”
She and I smiled crookedly at each other as I made the suggestion.
She ran her hand down the front of his jacket, before unzipping it, and we both pushed it down off his shoulders. I’d forgotten the sight of him like that, all broad shoulders and solid muscles under his shirt. It certainly did things to a woman, at least it always had with me.
“Do I get to suggest anything? Or is this the wrong crowd for that?” Chakotay complained but there wasn’t the slightest indication of him meaning it.
“You can try.” I watched the grin spread across her face more sharply as she teased him.
“Maybe we could all get out of uniform.” he ventured, doing that thing where he tugged his ear that always showed the was a little nervous or embarrassed.
“Now that’s the kind of officer level thinking I like to see.” she laughed, reaching to pull off her own jacket.
I shrugged and followed suit, after all that was where we were headed.
We took turns taking off the rest of one another’s uniform’s. Chakotay ended up undressed twice as quickly, since we were both working on him and he had to take turns with us. I couldn’t help staring, taking in the sight of him in all his naked glory.
How could I possibly describe Chakotay? Let me just start by saying that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man who could hold a candle to him, human or otherwise. Naturally I’m biased, but I’m relatively certain you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who knew him and was unaffected. Of course, he had his ups and downs, just like the rest of us. At that moment, though… he was no longer young but that worked to his advantage, time having chiseled his body and features into completeness but not yet having won dominion over him.
The beauty of his facial structure, of those tempting full lips and their perfect bow, those things were never a secret, and of course the imagination had filled in a great deal more. It was still different than seeing it. He was every inch a man and looking at him took my breath away.
Those shoulders and his broad smooth chest, just begging to be touched. I watched the lines of his back and curve of his ass as he bent to remove her pants, my eyes lowering further to his powerfully muscled thighs. He straightened back up and suddenly my eyes were focused right at his groin. It took all of my notorious self control not to just drop down and explore him with my mouth.
Surprised? I’m old not dead.
Yes. I loved him. I also desired him, though I’d pushed that down for three decades. Now that it was not just a possibility but a certainty, it came rushing to the surface.
Remembering my former self beside me, I forced a glance in her direction and saw her face betraying exactly what I was feeling, lips parted and face flush with lust. They looked so right staring at one another. I wondered how I could ever have forced myself to accept otherwise.
Chakotay’s eyes moved from her to me and he stepped forward, pressing a kiss against my neck as he reached around and unhooked my bra, catching my tired breasts in his hands as he freed me from it. Massaging them gently, he leaned to the side and kissed my younger self, her hands running through his hair. I could see their tongues meet as his thumbs brushed against my nipples.
He moved a hand from one of my breasts and ran it down her abdomen and over her panties and I could see her hips push into the contact. He released her lips and bent his head to my breast, mouth surrounding my nipple and I let out a low moan at the sensation, mirrored by her reaction as his fingers rubbed a deliberate circle against the thin material, right above where they were visibly darker from moisture.
He sucked at one of my hardened nipples as one hand rolled the other between his thumb and forefinger while his other hand slipped inside the waistband of her panties and clearly found its mark from the whimper of needy delight which escaped her.
“The logistics of this might be a little easier if we moved to the bed.” I suggested, not adding that I was pretty sure my knees were going to give way at some point if we kept on trying to do this and stand.
Walking behind her, Chakotay kissed between her shoulderblades as he removed her bra, leaving her naked to crawl her way up the bed. I opted to walk around the side and avoid the hand and knee route. Chakotay settled himself between us, sitting at just below hip level as he tugged first her and then my underwear down and placed gentle kisses down the insides of each of our legs in turn, one hand remaining against each of our hips.
I sat up, pulling him forward to meet his lips with my own and running my hands over his shoulders. At the same time she made a similar movement and ran her hands over his hips and then down his inner thighs, and I felt him moan into my mouth in reaction.
Considering that I’d never been one to share and therefore this was one setup I didn’t have any experience with (there aren’t as many of those left as there once were), this was going remarkably smoothly, but then I suppose that if you can’t share with yourself who can you share with, right?
I moved my lips to his neck and she leaned in and did the same on the other side before kissing his mouth. As he kissed her, Chakotay moved his hand from my hip down and inward, running over my clit and lightly over the folds of my opening. In response I sucked at the skin of his neck and ran my hands down his chest.
I groaned and collapsed back onto the bed as his index finger gently worked inside of me, his thumb caressing my clit. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought that he had experience with my body already, since he seemed to know just how to handle it for maximum effect. I watched them as she wrapped herself around him and he looked totally transfixed and consumed by her and yet maintained the steadily building rhythm of his fingers against me.
I supposed she was me and I was her. Temporal mechanics always had given me a headache. All I knew for sure is that we looked good together, my past self and the Chakotay who was her contemporary, and that it pleased rather than discomforted me.
Chakotay curled the finger inside of me just so and I let out a groan. He moved his face from hers and looked down at me, watching my reaction as he ground his thumb against my clit harder and I shuddered. She disentangled herself from him, wrapping herself around his back instead and kissing his shoulders as he leaned down and kissed across my hips.
Her hands moved over his chest, pinching his nipples and he groaned and shifted slightly, moving his thumb out of the way as he brushed his lips against me instead.
In three decades, I’d definitely spent more than my fair share fantasizing about how Chakotay’s mouth would feel, about how those beautiful lips could doubtless pleasure a woman immeasurably. But truly the reality blew me away.
I barely registered him guiding her to lie down next to me, using his free hand to finger her as he licked me. I gave up resisting the need to moan, to whimper and shudder against him. He closed his lips around my clit and sucked and his name was a strangled cry on my lips. Beside me, she didn’t seem to be in a dissimilar state, breath irregular and punctuated by low moans.
This. This was what I had gone without for all those years, all those decades, and for what? The sirens did not spring into red alert the shields did not come crashing down as my hips arched up with abandon, giving in to the sweet pleasure of Chakotay’s mouth between my thighs driving me towards orgasm. The hull did not shatter into a million pieces and the crew did not suddenly mutiny as I came with his name on my lips, my hands in his hair and his eyes locked on mine.
“I’ve waited years for that.” Chakotay grinned, kissing my inner thighs as he continued to move the fingers he had inside of both of us.
“Try decades.” I gasped, what was intended to be a snide comment coming out breathy and pleasure filled.
He ran his tongue over my clit one more time, before shifting to center his face over her instead. I propped myself up on my elbows, still shaking a little with every curl of his finger against my inner wall. I watched his tongue delve between the lips of her opening and drag its way up to her clit. Her mouth fell open and my voice let out a long low moan of his name from it.
He thrust his tongue inside of her and she gripped his shoulders, hips pressing up off the bed. Yes, no matter how you counted it, they’d been waiting a long time, if not as long as I had.
I’d been beautiful, more so than I’d ever realized, though of course I’d never been a shy or modest woman. Still there was something different about seeing myself from the outside, about seeing my younger body give in to the catharsis of being loved. Watching her body arch against his touch, I saw what everyone else had seen from almost the start. Call it pheromones or destiny or whatever else you might think of, they went together as I’d known deep down but refused to embrace for all of those years.
She cried out his name more desperately, and he added a second finger to the one inside of me, thrusting both more forcefully and I felt my pulse speeding back up. Every noise she made he responded to by fingering both of us more insistently. By the time her moans reached that point of broken desperation, before cutting off abruptly as she tensed, body clenching in release, I was not that far behind.
Chakotay moved his thumb over my clit, with the lightest of circles and I cried out his name as I peaked.
She sat up, visibly shaky but wrapping around him from the side, and I mirrored her. Both of us kissed his neck and shoulders and our hands met as they wrapped around his erection. Chakotay groaned, head rolling back in pleasure.
I trailed my lips down his chest and stomach, catching his eye as we both moved our hands out of the way so that I could drag my tongue down, her shifting to cup his balls gently and me stroking his inner thighs. I relished the feeling of him pulsing against my lips as I sunk them down around him as far as I could, causing him to shake and moan our name. It wasn’t as far as I might have liked. I’d always suspected that Chakotay would live up to his overall size and I wasn’t disappointed.
Her eyes met mine, and she lowered herself down, pressing her lips below mine against the base of him and he shuddered more violently.
“Spirits, Kathryn. You… both of you, are going to make me embarrass myself.”
Both of us sat back up and he wrapped one arm around each of us, hands coming to rest against the curves of our breasts. He leaned over and kissed me first, still sticky with our desire, tasting of me. I released him to turn to her, kissing her just as thoroughly.
I’ll admit that as much as all of this was weirding me out less than I might have expected, there was a tense moment here. Chakotay looked between us, suddenly unsure exactly what order to precede in.
“Admiral you’ve earned-” she began.
“No.” I shook my head, “This is really your beginning… the two of you are just letting me join in. Don’t make me make it an order.” I laughed as I added that last bit, trying to diffuse the sudden shift in energy.
Chakotay kept hold of me, as he shifted to lie back on the bed, one hand tracing my thigh possessively. Whatever else was happening, he wasn’t letting either of us out of contact with him.
I watched her straddle Chakotay’s body, hands running up his torso.
“I love you.” she whispered, shifting her hips and sliding down onto him with a moan, both of their eyes rolling back in their heads. I watched him react, felt him grip my thigh harder, more needily.
As first their movements were, slow, long languid strokes full of a desperate sort of tenderness. She murmured his name and he reached his free hand to cup one of her breasts, tracing his thumb over her nipple. I sat there, held in place by his hand but not wanting to interrupt this moment between them, the first of so many.
I had no doubt now, all my hesitance about this timeline and Chakotay and I ending up together had disappeared with that first kiss and watching them now I knew they could weather whatever storms now lay ahead of them.
We could have, too. The thought came to me bitter and unbidden. All those years.
“Come up here.” Chakotay, groaned, as his hips thrust up into her, all the muscles of his torso tensing and creating the most erotic of images.
He guided me to straddle his face, reaching his hands over my legs to grip her thighs as he arched his hips into her while nuzzling his face between my thighs. I groaned, and leaned my hands against the wall for support as his lips brushed against my clit and his tongue gently parted my lips before pressing into me.
I could feel him, beneath me, rocking against her with every move of her hips, as he used his lips and tongue on me. I couldn’t tell you how he managed to remember to do both, I could barely keep myself from collapsing in ecstasy.
All three of our moans grew louder, Chakotay wrapped his lips around my clit and sucked, as they reached a fever pitch. Finally she cried out, a sharp burst of pleasure overtaking her completely, followed by a lower groan of satisfaction. I knew my own voice and reactions well enough to know exactly was kind of complete release orgasm she was having. It was the kind that would leave me boneless and spent afterwards. Sure enough, she collapsed to the side, shaking softly against the covers.
Chakotay moved his hands to my hips, gently urging me down his body. I went more than willingly. He kept one hand on me, and linked the other with hers as she lay regaining her breath beside us.
I couldn’t help moaning as I brushed against his erection getting into position above him. He stared up at me and I was suddenly all too conscious of my sagging breasts, my less than firm body, instinctively I moved one arm across my chest to cover it.
“Don’t.” Chakotay insisted, caressing my skin like I was precious, “Kathryn, let me see you.”
He’d just had my younger self above him, her body barely marked by the passage of time. It was hard to believe he wanted to see mine so desperately. Still, I let him pull my arm away and kiss it, reaching up to caress my body.
“Look at me.” Chakotay traced my skin, “Can you see it? How much I want-”
I could. I saw the passion, the heat in his eyes, even if it seemed impossible. Feeling that urgency flow through me, I cut his words off, pressing myself against him, my whole body tingling as we came into contact from our foreheads all the way down to where he was now sliding inside of me, moaning against his lips at the sensation.
I needed this. I needed to feel him, utterly and completely, at long last. I needed him to know it too. How many years had I regretted that he hadn’t? How much deeper had it made my grief knowing I’d prevented that?
“Can you see it now?” I groaned, rubbing my body more forcefully against his, “Can you feel just how utterly I need you… have needed-”
“Kathhh-ryn” Chakotay groaned, “Spirits.”
I pressed my hands against his chest, pushing up just enough to get enough leverage, without losing the majority of our body contact. Yes. I needed to take him right now, to possess him totally. I sped up, moving almost frantically.
He must have let go of her, because suddenly his hands were on my waist and he was flipping us over, slowing our pace as he thrust against me with slow long movements.
“I’m not ready to be done and if you kept that us I was about to be.” he explained, running one hand down my face and neck and along my chest, “Let me keep making love to you.”
I couldn’t help grinning, enjoying his earnestness and the admission itself. I reached up and cupped his face, straining to reach his lips.
“By all means. Let’s make love to each other.”
His lips found mine and I was drowning in him again. I twined my hands in his hair and writhed against him, enjoying every centimeter of delicious contact. Time itself seemed to bend to the connection between us. I couldn’t tell you whether it was minutes or hours, or whether I came three times or ten.
All I know is that by the time he finally let go, the hot rush of his release flooding me and driving me to contract around him just that one more time, before going limp, exhaustion suddenly catching up with me. I suddenly remembered my younger self, and turned my head to the side to find her lying on her side facing us, a content smile on her face.
“Well, if we ever have to go into a new line of work, I suppose pornography wouldn’t be out of the question.” she chuckled, and Chakotay released me, moving to curl up between us.
“Now, if you’d asked me yesterday about things I never thought I’d hear Kathryn Janeway say…” he started but she cut him off with a kiss.
“There’s a lot of things none of us thought we’d hear, see, or feel yesterday.” she sighed at last, before laying her head to rest against his chest.
Chakotay wrapped one arm around her and used the other to pull me closer, so that he had both of us held against him. I nestled into his warmth, feeling my focus fading, that good ache setting in already.
I awoke alone in the bed, but as my eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room, I spotted them through the doorway to the living area, her legs wrapped around him as he held onto her. She was seated atop the back of the couch, leaned back at such an angle that I knew he was the only thing holding her up, as they rocked together, both of them letting out muffled moans as she covered mouth with the back of her forearm and he had his mouth buried against the crook of her neck.
I watched him lift her up and press her against the bulkhead wall, her moans becoming higher pitched as he thrust harder into her. At last she let out a strangled cry and I watched her face contort in pleasure and her body tighten against him. Yes, we were good together. I suppose I’d always known it would be like that.
I felt a wave of contentment wash over me, felt the smile on my face, as I watched Chakotay lay her down on the table, covering her body with his as he kissed and caressed her, and saw her wind her body around his and pull him down hard onto her with a groan.
Yes, this was a timeline worth saving, I thought to myself as I drifted back off to exhausted sleep.
I had known it would be hard to say goodbye, to leave him behind, to sacrifice myself, even if it was for a better future. I had thought I was prepared though. I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared for any of our emotions, for how much harder this past was to leave behind than mine.
They saw me off together, just the two of them. I wanted to give her some advice, this younger me, but I realized that she was already on a better path.
“Don’t let him go.”
That was the only thing I could think to whisper as I embraced her. I didn’t think she would, not really, not after last night, not after they’d awoken to reaffirm rather than back down from their revelations.
I turned to Chakotay, and saw the pain in his eyes. I wished I didn’t have to cause it.
“It’s all right, Chakotay. It’s better this way. In your future there’s a different me, who is waking up next to you.” I managed a smile, but he did not.
“I’m so sorry, Kathryn.” he murmured instead, “All those years you had to spend-”
I reached out and pull his face to mine, kissing him. He responded with a passion and I found myself pressed up against the shuttle bay doors by his body. I couldn’t help getting lost in it for the moment, the warmth and reassurance and the heat of my desire welling up as his body rubbed against mine.
“I love you.” I reassured him, “And I know you will never let it happen again, not now.”
“I promise.” he confirmed, tracing the side of my face before letting me go. I’d never wanted to hold on more.
No. I wasn’t prepared. Maybe there are those stronger than me, but it is hard to imagine anyone truly being prepared for the end. Still, at least I hadn’t done this in vain. They would all be alright: Tuvok, Seven, Chakotay, and even my other self.
That didn’t stop my heart from breaking as I left Chakotay behind.