THE LIGHT OF LOVE

By: tayryn

DISCLAIMERS: Paramount owns Star Trek and the universe therein. I have just taken my friends out for a little joyride. I promise to bring them back unharmed, only a lot happier.

This story was written back in April of 1997. It takes place sometime after ĎCodaí. Thatís all I can tell you. I wrote it at work when I was working midnights and well, that basically explains that.

This story is rated PG. There is absolutely no sex in it. It is just a sweet little fluff story about our favorite couple.

DEDICATION: this one is dedicated to my mom, who although she loves the fact that I write my stories, wishes that I would write more like this one. (sorry mom, I like my smut!) She liked this one, hence why Iím dedicating it to her.

Now sit back, enjoy and remember, itís just a sweet little love story, thatís it!

 

The Light of Love

 

The doors hissed apart and seconds later the former Commander of the USS Voyager strode through into the ready room. As soon as the doors shut behind him, he stopped and exhaled the breath heíd been holding.

He glanced around the room with a weight on his heart. As he was turning his head, something caught his eye.

He moved deeper into the room, over to the object that had caught his attention. He reached over and pulled a dried up rose from a small vase.

Choking back a sob, Chakotay sank onto the couch, clutching the rose tight in his hand.

"Kathryn," he whispered. "Oh, Kathryn. What am I supposed to do now?"

He held the rose up and looked at it. A smile came to his face as he remembered the look of surprise and delight on her face when he had given it to her.

He sighed deeply and put the rose back in the vase.

He sat back on the couch shaking his head. There were so many unanswered questions. And he desperately wanted and needed the answers.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted.

"Captain to the bridge."

Chakotay sighed. He stood and made his way to the bridge.

"Report." He said as he moved to the center of the bridge.

"There is a Noitisopian warship heading directly for us." Tuvok replied.

"On screen." Chakotay said. The ship appeared on the viewer and Chakotay watched as it approached. "Hail them."

"Aye, sir." Tuvok said and pushed the appropriate controls. "Hailing frequencies open."

"Noitisopian vessel, this is Captain Chakotay on Voyager.Ē He paused. "Is there a problem?"

The screen changed and the horse-like face of the Noitisopian appeared.

"Captain Chakotay. I am Captain Peg of the warship Yerllag." He said. "There is no problem. I bring a message from President Retrauq. And a gift." He finished, holding up a box.

"What is it?"

"This is what my people call a gift of happy-sorrow. It is given when a loved one is lost."

Chakotay winced slightly and felt as if a knife had been driven into his heart.

"Also, the President asked me to once again, express his deepest sorrows and apologies at the tragic loss of your Captain Janeway." Peg paused and gestured to the box he was holding. "President Retrauq expressly wanted you to have what is in this box. Will you accept it?"

Chakotay, holding back tears, nodded.

"Mr. Tuvok, lock onto the box and beam it here to the bridge."

"Aye, Captain."

Seconds later, the box materialized beside Chakotayís feet. He bent over and picked it up.

"Captain." Peg said. "The President also asked that you be alone when you open it. As it is a personal gift."

Chakotay nodded. "I will. And please thank the President for this and his kind wishes."

"I will captain. Safe voyages."

The screen changed back to a space view and Chakotay watched as the warship moved back towards the planet.

Chakotay looked down at the box in his hands, wondering what it contained. He raised his head and looked around the bridge. The crew was watching him.

He swallowed hard. "Mr. Paris. Set a course for home. Warp six."

"Aye, sir." Paris said as his hands flew over the controls.

Voyager broke out of orbit and shot into warp.

Chakotay turned to the bridge crew.

"The Captainís memorial service will be held tomorrow at fifteen hundred hours."

With that said, and box in hand, Chakotay left the bridge for the ready room.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Once again, Chakotay was sitting on the couch in the ready room.

The gift of happy-sorrow sat on the table in front of him. He was very curious about what it contained and yet he didnít want to know. He sensed that it would only be something that would remind him of Kathryn and there were plenty of things on the ship to do that.

Chakotay sighed then took a deep breath as his hands moved to the box. He opened it and looked inside.

As he reached into the box, his eyes suddenly filled with tears. He pulled the gift out of the box.

In his hands he held a mini holo-projector, which was already turned on. The picture it was projecting was one of him and Kathryn taken on their second day visiting Noitisop.

Chakotay sat back on the couch and stared at the hologram, the memories flooding back.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

 Captain Kathryn Janeway and Commander Chakotay strolled arm in arm down the vendor filled lane.

Instead of being in their uniforms, they were wearing civilian clothing as requested by President Retrauq.

As they were making their way down the lane, Chakotay felt Kathryn tug on his arm as she slowed down in front a particular vendor.

Together they watched as a Niotisopian couple had their Ďpictureí taken.

When the vendor was finished with the couple, he turned to the visiting humans. At first they declined to have their picture taken, but when the vendor and President Retrauq, who had joined them, insisted, they relented.

The vendor positioned them so that Kathryn was sitting in Chakotayís lap, leaning back against him, with Chakotayís arms wrapped around her. They stayed that way for almost ten minutes as the vendor set about taking their Ďpictureí.

 =/\= =/\= =/\=

Chakotay sighed and stared at the hologram. A smile crept to his lips as he remembered what it felt like to finally hold Kathryn in his arms.

He shut the holo-projector off with a deep sigh and put it back into the box. It wasnít doing him any good to think about what could have been. And to tell the truth, it was too painful.

He stood and made his way to the desk. He had a lot of things to do, one of them organizing Kathrynís memorial service.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

The following evening as Chakotay was getting ready for bed, he looked around the quarters.

"I really should have packed this stuff up." He said out loud to himself as he walked over to the easel sitting against the far wall.

He looked down at the canvas and smiled. It was a picture Kathryn had started.

KATHRYN!

His mind and heart screamed for her.

Everything he saw on the ship reminded him of her.

"Deciding to take over her quarters isnít making it any easier either." He said to himself.

All her belongings were still the way theyíd been two days ago. Truth be told, he hadnít the heart to pack any of it up.

The only new addition to the room, at the moment, was the small holo-projector sitting on the nightstand.

Chakotay sighed, climbed out of his uniform and into the bed.

As he rolled over and tried to get comfortable, he could smell Kathrynís scent on the pillows and sheets. He pulled the blankets closer against his naked skin and slowly fell asleep.

 =/\= =/\= =/\=

 Kathryn and Chakotay walked slowly through the softly illuminated cavern.

"This is incredible!" Kathryn whispered.

"Yes. It most certainly is." Chakotay agreed.

As they slowly moved through the softly lit cavern, they came upon what Retrauq had described to them as "The Beginning Place." The place that the Niotisopians believed everything began.

As they gazed on what looked to them as nothing more than a pillar of stone with strange etchings, a beam of crackling light burst out from the pillar.

Chakotay heard Kathryn scream and whirled around to see that the crackling light surrounded her.

"Kathryn!" He yelled as he charged at her, intending to knock her away from it.

His body hit the light and he was thrown to the ground. Stunned, he sat up and looked at Kathryn.

He reached his hand to her.

"Chakotay." She cried, extending her hand, but the light still enveloped her and Chakotay couldnít grab on to her, no matter how hard he tried.

"Kathryn! Fight it, Kathryn!" Chakotay called out to her as he got to his knees and moved closer to her.

As he stared at her, he tried to come up with a way to free her.

Suddenly his ears were filled with a deafening scream. His eyes went to Kathrynís face. Their eyes locked and Chakotay saw the fear in her eyes, as another scream ripped free from her lips.

Chakotay jumped to his feet and dove, once again, at Kathryn...

=/\= =/\= =/\=

 "Kathryn!" Chakotay cried out and suddenly sat up in bed.

He looked around trying to figure out where he was. It all came flooding back.

The beam of light. Kathrynís death. The holo-picture. The memorial service. The scent of her on the bed.

He put his head in his hands.

The dream had seemed so real. Like he was living that moment over again and it made his heart ache all the more.

"Chakotay?"

Chakotayís head snapped up as he felt a warm hand on his shoulder and heard his name.

"Kathryn?" He gasped.

Sitting beside him on the bed, in her floral dress was Kathryn.

"No. No this canít be. Youíre dead." He whispered.

"What are you talking about? And why are you in my bed?" She asked him.

Chakotay just shook his head and got out of the bed.

"Computer." He called out. "How many people are in this room?"

"Two." Answered the computer.

"Identify."

"Captain Kathryn Janeway and Captain Chakotay."

Chakotay shook his head again.

"Uh, Chakotay. I think you should put some clothes on." Kathryn said.

Chakotay looked down at himself and realized that he was naked. He quickly grabbed his robe and put it on. He then sat back on the bed and grabbed her hand.

"Oh, God! Itís really you." He said hoarsely.

"Of course itís me." Kathryn said. "Chakotay, whatís wrong? You look like youíve seen a ghost."

"I have." He said. "You. Youíre supposed to be dead, Kathryn. Not that Iím complaining about you being here, but I saw you die."

Kathryn just stared at him and then felt a chill run through her body.

Chakotay saw this. "Whatís the last thing you remember?"

"You and I were walking in the beginnings cave. We came upon the pillar and then a beam of light enveloped me. Everything went black and then I was here. In between the light and here, everything is kind of fuzzy."

Chakotay squeezed her hand.

"Iím sure weíll figure out what happened." He paused. "Let me get dressed and then weíll head to the bridge."

Kathryn nodded.

Chakotay squeezed her hand again and moved to get off the bed.

Suddenly, Kathryn pulled on his hand.

"Chakotay!" She said, her voice wavering.

Chakotay looked at her and his eyes widened.

"Oh no, Kathryn! Not again!" He cried as he saw that she was suddenly starting to fade away. "Kathryn! No! I canít lose you again!"

She looked at him, her eyes begging him to help her.

Chakotay tried to grab hold of her shoulders, but his hands just passed through her.

In moments she was gone. Chakotay threw his head back and screamed.

 =/\= =/\= =/\=

"Well at least I know that I wasnít dreaming." Chakotay said.

"No. You were most certainly not." Tuvok stated. "Sensors in your quarters confirm that Captain Janeway was indeed on Voyager."

"And now?" Chakotay asked hopefully, but still knowing the answer.

"No sign of her."

"But how is it possible that she was even here at all?" Harry asked. "You said yourself that you saw that beam take her."

"I donít know, Harry." Chakotay said. "All I know is that when I grabbed her hand, it was real." He paused and addressed the group. "I donít care what it takes; I want a way found to get her back here permanently. Is that clear?"

Everyone nodded and cleared the room.

Chakotay remained seated.

"Hold on, Kathryn. Wherever you are, just hold on. Weíll find you. Just hold on."

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Captain Chakotay sat on his bed with a sigh.

He reached out and turned on the holo-projector.

As he stared at the holo-picture, a sad smile crossed his face.

"Oh, Kathryn." He sighed. "There was so much that I was hoping to tell you."

"Like what?"

Chakotay turned his head and a smile broke out on his face as he gazed into Kathrynís.

"Youíre back." He said and she nodded. "I wonder for how long."

"Well, what did they say? Did you find a way?" She asked him.

He gave her a confusing look. "What..."

"You were just on your way to the bridge to find a way to keep me here." She interrupted him.

Suddenly it dawned on him. He grabbed her hand and held it tight.

"That was just over six months ago, Kathryn." He said gently.

Her eyes widened and she shook her head. "What? No. It canít be. It was only a few moments ago." She paused and just stared at him. "Six months?"

Chakotay nodded.

"Oh, God!" She gasped. "Then that means..."

"We have no idea how to get you back." He paused. "And after all these months, we didnít expect you to return. And it wasnít doing the crew any good to keep holding out hope. So..." He didnít finish.

Kathryn didnít say a word and Chakotay watched as her eyes filled with tears. He got up and moved around the bed to sit beside her.

She looked up at him through her tears and saw him open his arms to her. With a strangled cry, she threw herself into his arms.

Chakotayís arms closed around her and he held her close, letting her cry. He felt her arms move around him and slowly tighten. After a few minutes, her cries turned into soft sobs. Chakotay moved his hand under her chin and tilted her face up.

Kathryn tried to smile at him through her tears but she couldnít.

"Kathryn..." Chakotay started softly.

She put a finger to his lips and shook her head.

"Donít." She said softly. "There really isnít much to say. And thereís nothing that can be done. So I have no choice but to accept that Iím stuck in this limbo for the rest of my life." She saw a pained look creep up on his face and despite herself a small smile flitted on her lips. "I donít like the idea much myself. But hey, at least Iím still alive."

Chakotay shook his head. "You call this living? You should be here. On Voyager, with me..."

"With you?"

Chakotayís eyes widened and then he nodded. "Yes. With me." He said as he moved his hand from her chin to caress her cheek.

Kathryn brought her hand up to cover his.

"Oh, Chakotay." She whispered softly gazing into his eyes. "You have no idea how much I want that, too."

Suddenly, with their eyes locked, their lips came together in a passionate kiss. They kissed each other with an intensity that shocked them both. Chakotay groaned as he felt Kathryn move so that she was cradled in his lap. Slowly, with a low moan, Kathryn broke off the kiss.

Chakotay moved so that he was leaning against the headboard, still holding Kathryn.

"I want you to remember something, Kathryn." He began, speaking softly. She looked up at him. "Iím never going to give up on finding a way to get you back here permanently."

She brought her hand up to caress his cheek and it was then that Chakotay realized he could no longer feel the weight of her in his lap.

"No! Not yet!" Chakotay cried as he tried, in vain, to hold onto her.

The last thing Chakotay heard and saw was Kathryn reaching out to him and her voice calling out his name.

In moments he was alone in the room again.

"Damn!" He said as he pummeled the bed with his fists. "Damn! Damn! Damn!" He repeated over and over.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

The door chimes rang out again.

"Come!" Came the slightly irritated voice of Captain Chakotay.

The doors parted and Kes entered the ready room.

"Am I disturbing you, Captain?" She asked.

Chakotay shook his head. "No. Iím just working on my research."

Kes gave him a look.

"I know what youíre going to say, Kes. But I promised her I wouldnít give up." He paused and got up, moving to the couch. "And I never will."

Kes sat on the couch beside him.

"Chakotay. How long has it been since sheís appeared?"

Chakotay gave her a pained look. "Two years."

"Doesnít that tell you something?" Kes asked. "Did you ever stop to think, that after all this time, she might not be coming back?"

Chakotay shook his head. "The thought never occurred to me."

Kes sighed.

"This isnít healthy." She said. "You really should get on with your life and stop pining away for the Captain."

Chakotay stood up. "Iím not pining away for her."

Kes stood up and faced him. "Look around, Captain. Everything in this office is still the way it was when Captain Janeway was here. You havenít packed any of it up." She paused. "Do you have any idea how difficult it is on the crew when they come in here?"

Chakotayís shoulders sagged. "Iíve tried. But I canít bring myself to move any of it."

Kes nodded. "I understand. Itís hard when you lose someone you love." She paused when she saw the look of surprise on his face. "What? Did you think we didnít know that you were in love with her?" Kes laughed. "It was and still is written all over your face."

That brought a small smile to Chakotayís face.

"Itís that obvious?"

Kes nodded.

Chakotay looked around the ready room. "I suppose it wouldnít kill me to put some of her things away."

"Itís the only way to start getting over her and on with your life." Kes said. She then took a step towards him and put her hand on his shoulder. "And donít forget. Youíre not alone. Weíre all here for you."

Chakotay smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Kes."

She smiled and left the ready room.

Chakotay watched her leave, and then turned to the table by the couch. He lifted the small vase that still held the dried up rose.

"Maybe Kes is right. It has been two years." He said. "Kathryn." He sighed as he fingered the rose. He put the vase back on the table.

He turned and walked back to his desk. He sat in the chair and looked around. After a few moments, he sighed deeply and hit his commbadge.

 =/\= =/\= =/\=

Two days later, Captain Chakotay entered his quarters and caught himself just before he tripped over the boxes piled on the floor.

"I really should put these things away." He chided himself. But as he looked around his quarters, he knew that he would only unpack all of Kathrynís things and place them with the things of her still lying around the cabin.

"Iíve cleaned out the ready room." He said. "Thatís as much as Iíll give. Iíll be damned if Iím going to pack up these things too."

He moved the boxes so that they were no longer blocking the door and decided to take a shower and call it a night.

As he was climbing into the hot spray of the shower, his mind once again drifted to thoughts of Kathryn.

"Kathryn." He thought. "Iím trying not to give up hope. But itís getting harder and harder everyday. Especially since youíve been gone for so long."

"Kathryn." He said out loud as he turned his face into one of the jets of water.

Suddenly he spun around as he heard a yell of surprise and saw Kathryn standing in his shower getting drenched.

Chakotay immediately stopped the shower.

"Kathryn." He said as he opened the doors and grabbed two towels. "Iíd almost given up hope." He confessed as he handed her one of the towels and wrapped the other around his waist.

"You promised me that youíd never give up on me." She said as she toweled off. She stopped drying herself and looked up at him.

Chakotay read the question in her eyes.

"Two years this time." He answered.

She paled slightly. "Two years!?"

Chakotay nodded. "Yes. Two very long years." He paused. "Take that dress off. Iíll get you something dry."

He walked out of the bathroom and seconds later he reappeared with another one of her dresses in hand. He handed it to her.

"Thanks." She said.

He left the bathroom again and Kathryn quickly changed and joined him in the bedroom.

She stopped suddenly and looked around. "I thought you said itís been two years since the last time I appeared."

He nodded. "I did."

"Two years and yet you still havenít put any of my things away."

Chakotay shrugged. "I canít bring myself to. After all, youíre not dead."

"Oh, Chakotay. Itís been two years. You should be getting on with your life."

Chakotay nodded. "Kes said the same thing to me the other day."

"Sheís right." Kathryn said and then a sad look came over her face. "You canít spend the rest of your life just waiting for me to pop in. Itís not right."

Chakotay got up form the bed where he was sitting and walked over to her. He put his hands on her shoulders and she looked up at him. He could see that she had tears in her eyes.

"Who says itís not right?" He asked.

"Chakotay." She said softly.

"No, Kathryn." He interrupted her. "I donít think want to hear anymore. Iím not wasting my life. I canít even think of moving on with someone else. So donít even mention it."

"But, Chakotay..."

She was cut off by Chakotayís mouth covering hers in a searing kiss. She moaned softly and half-heartedly tried to push him away.

Chakotayís arms went around her and held her body close to his as their kiss deepened. When he broke off the kiss, Kathryn sagged against him.

"Now do you understand?" He asked softly.

She nodded against his chest.

Chakotay brought his hand under her chin and lifted her face up. She smiled up at him. He returned the smile.

All of sudden, he scooped her up into his arms and carried her over to the bed.

"Chakotay?" She said hesitantly.

"I just want to hold you, Kathryn. For as long as I can." He said as he sat on back on the bed and cradled her in his arms. "Surely you wonít deny me that?"

She smiled and shook her head. "No I wonít deny you that. To do so, would be to deny myself."

They lay together on the bed, holding each other close and tight. In between stealing kisses, Chakotay told Kathryn about everything that had happened over the last two years.

Kathryn lifted her head from his chest. "Tom and BíElanna are married and are expecting a baby?"

"Mmhmm." Chakotay murmured. "And Kes and Harry are engaged."

Kathryn shook her head. "I still canít believe it. Iíd always hoped Kes and Neelix would make up." She paused. "Howís Neelix taking it?"

"Well to tell the truth, Neelix is the one who fixed them up." Chakotay smiled at the surprised look on Kathrynís face. "Itís true. Heís even giving the bride away."

Kathryn smiled and ran her hand over his bare chest. "And what of Voyagerís Captain? You havenít mentioned anything about him. Whatís going on in his life?"

Chakotay brought his hand up and covered hers.

"Heís waiting for a very special woman."

Kathryn smiled down at him with tears in her eyes. "Well, Iím sure that that special woman thinks thatís very sweet. But you really shouldnít..."

Before she could finish, Chakotay pulled her down onto him, capturing her lips with his.

Kathryn moaned and responded to his urgent kiss. She let him pull her on top of him and felt the evidence of his desire for her.

All of a sudden, Kathryn felt a chill run through her. She broke off the kiss. She looked at Chakotay and saw a pained look on his face and realized that she was leaving him again.

"Chakotay, I..."

She didnít finish her sentence, as suddenly she was gone.

Chakotay remained lying on the bed. He stared up at the ceiling. He could still feel the heat and feel of Kathrynís body on his.

Chakotay, his shower now completely forgotten and clad only in a towel, fell sound asleep. Images of Kathryn still in his mind.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

As the years went by, Kathrynís Ďvisitsí varied. There were years when she would appear more than a dozen times and then years would go by where she didnít appear at all.

The years she didnít appear were difficult on Chakotay. But whenever she would appear, the first thing Chakotay would do was take her in his arms and hold her tight.

And nearly every time Kathryn appeared, it was when Chakotay was alone. Rarely would she appear when the crew was around.

And even though Chakotay aged, Kathryn didnít appear to be aging at all. Every time Chakotay saw her, she took his breath away and felt his heart quicken its beat.

Through the years, Voyager had managed to find a few small wormholes that had shortened their journey home remarkably.

 =/\= =/\= =/\=

"Captain, youíve really got to learn to be more careful." Said the Doctor as he mended Chakotayís broken leg. "Youíre not as young as you used to be."

A graying Chakotay looked at the never-aging holographic Doctor and gave him a dirty look.

"Do you think I do these things to myself on purpose?"

The Doctor nodded. "Sometimes."

"Sometimes what?"

Both the Doctor and Chakotay looked up at the sound of Kathrynís voice.

"Ah, Captain Janeway. Long time no see." The Doctor said as he finished on Chakotay. "Donít do anything strenuous for the next day or two."

Chakotay nodded distractedly as his gaze was locked on Kathryn.

The Doctor noticed that the two of them were ignoring him, so he went into his office, leaving them alone.

Chakotay sat up on the bed, swinging his legs over the side and held his arms out to Kathryn. She smiled and moved quickly into his embrace. He cupped her face in his hands and brought his lips down to hers.

After some time, Chakotay broke off the kiss and looked down at her with a smile on his face.

"Iíve missed you." He said softly.

"Iíve missed you too. Even though it only feels like yesterday that I saw you last." She paused and jumped up on the bed beside him. "How long this time?"

"You donít want to know." He said sadly.

She brought her hand up and ran her fingers through his hair.

"It has to be at least a couple of years. You only had a few gray hairs the last time I saw you. Youíre practically all gray now."

"Five years." He said, barely audible.

"Five years." She gasped. "Oh, Chakotay. It must have been hard on you."

He nodded. "It has been. But everyday I tell myself that youíll be here today or if not today then soon."

Kathryn shook her head. "Chakotay, thatís no kind of life."

He put his finger to her lips to silence her as she had once done to him. 

"Sssh. Weíve had this discussion before. You didnít win then and youíre not going to now." He paused. "Besides, weíre really close to getting home and thereís got to be someone there who can help me get you back here permanently."

Kathryn smiled and leaned forward, pressing a kiss against his lips.

"Youíre too stubborn." She said.

"You can say that again."

Kathryn whipped her head around.

"Kes?"

The much older looking Occampa nodded.

"Hello, Captain. How are you?"

"As well as can be expected." She said and then a question occurred to her. "Kes, how old are you?"

"Fifteen." Kes replied.

"Fifteen! How? I thought Occampa only lived nine years."

"The Doctor found a way to extend my life span. And truth be told, Iím glad he did." Kes paused and a smile came to her face. "Iím a grandmother several times over. So itís nice to be able to be here with my grandchildren."

"Grandchildren. Harry must love it."

"He does." Chakotay answered. "Theyíre all he talks about."

Kes just laughed. "Would you expect anything else from a grandfather." She paused. "But enough about me. Iím sure the two of you would like to be alone, so Iíll go about my business."

With that, she walked into the Doctorís office.

Kathryn watched her go. "So, how many grandchildren does she have?"

"One grandchild. One great grandchild and one great great grandchild."

"Wow."

They sat in silence for a couple of minutes, holding hands.

"How much farther until we get home?" Kathryn asked.

"Ten light years." Chakotay replied.

"Only ten years and youíll be home. Chakotay, thatís wonderful."

Chakotay nodded. "Mmhmm."

"You donít sound too excited about it."

Chakotay just shrugged his shoulders. "Itís hard to explain."

Kathryn grasped his face in her hands and turned it so that he was looking at her. What she saw in his eyes made her heart break.

First and foremost she saw the love he had for her shining as bright and true as it had the first time sheíd seen it. And even though he tried to hide it, Kathryn saw the loneliness he felt. The pain that this situation was causing him.

Without saying a word, Kathryn took him in her arms. Chakotay allowed himself to relax in her arms, against her body. And then suddenly, Chakotay began to sob.

Kathryn held him tight and stroked his hair, at a loss of what to say to comfort him, as she felt the same way.

After a few minutes, Chakotay pulled himself from her embrace.

"Iím sorry." He said. "I donít know what came over me."

Kathryn put her hand on his chest. "Donít apologize. I understand completely. Believe me."

Chakotay gazed into her eyes and saw that she did understand. He also realized that in all these years, he had never told her how much he loved her. He decided to correct that oversight immediately.

His hand came up and covered her hand, which was still on his chest.

"Kathryn." He began. "I..."

Suddenly she began to fade away.

"No!" He shouted. "Kathryn!"

In less than a minute she was gone.

"Dammit!" Chakotay shouted.

The Doctor and Kes, who had come running when they heard him shout, were standing in the doorway. They just watched him.

Chakotay slammed his fist into the bio-bed. "This isnít fair." He was saying as he got off the bed. "Thereís never enough time."

He headed for the door. Kes took a step forward.

Chakotay raised his hand and kept walking.

"Just leave me alone, Kes." He said.

The doors parted and Chakotay stormed through them.

"I donít know how much more of this he can take." Kes said.

"I agree." Said the Doctor. "Heís started to neglect his health. Itís almost as if he no longer wants to live."

=/\= =/\= =/\=

"How long?" Captain Tom Paris asked, staring at the old man in the bed.

"Maybe a day. Maybe two. Maybe less." Replied the Doctor. "I donít know anymore."

Paris shook his head and looked at his wife.

"I never, in my wildest dreams, thought heíd go like this." BíElanna said. "Iíd always assumed that heíd go out fighting."

Just then they heard the distinct sound of a transporter beam and then some rustling in the outer room. All three of them turned to see a much older, but still flamboyantly jovial Neelix, shuffling towards them.

"Tom. BíElanna." He said as he embraced them both. He turned to the Doctor, gave him a hug and then looked over at the bed. "Am I too late?"

"If youíre asking if Iím dead, then no, youíre not too late." Came a gruff voice from the bed.

Neelix made his way to the bed. "Well thatís good news, Captain."

"And what makes you say that?" Chakotay said irritably.

Neelix patted his hand and chuckled. "Now, now captain. Is that any way to talk?"

"After what Iíve been through in the last fifty years, I can talk any damn way I please." He looked towards the door in time to see Harry Kim, a captain himself, and an older looking Kes arrive. "What is this? Everyone coming to make sure the old man really does it this time?"

Kes walked over and placed a kiss on Chakotayís wrinkled brow.

"Now, you know thatís not true." She said.

Chakotay harumphed.

Suddenly, he lifted himself up. "Whatís the date today?" He asked anxiously. When he was told, a sad look came over his face and he sank back on the bed, his eyes filling with tears.

"Chakotay, what is it?" Kes asked, realizing the answer as she asked the question.

"It happened seventy years ago today."

Chakotayís former crew looked at each other, as they too, knew exactly what he was referring to.

"Seventy years ago, my Kathryn was taken from me. Exiled to a terrible kind of existence." He sighed.

"When was the last time you saw her?" Came Tuvokís voice from the doorway, at which he just materialized.

"Forty years ago. Right before we made it back here to the Alpha Quadrant."

"Forty years." Said Harry. "Sheís never been gone that long between visits. Has she?"

Chakotay shook his head sadly.

The Doctor spoke up. "The Captain believes that Captain Janewayís existence in the time field has finally ended."

"Well he couldnít be more wrong." Came the throaty voice of Kathryn.

Smiles came to everyoneís faces as they beheld their former Captain. They were all amazed at how little she had aged.

"Why are you all here?" She asked.

"Because Iím dying." Chakotay answered.

A look of dread came over Kathrynís face and she quickly made her way to Chakotayís bed and crawled in beside him.

She put her hand on his chest.

"No! No, you canít die. Tell me itís not true." She pleaded.

"Iím afraid it is, Captain." The Doctor said softly.

She looked down at Chakotay. "Would you all give us a few minutes?" She asked, her eyes never leaving Chakotayís face.

Everyone nodded and left the room.

Kathrynís eyes filled with tears as she looked into the aged face of the man who had, at one time a very long time ago, been her enemy and then her first officer and friend.

She lowered her lips to his in a gentle kiss. When they were finished kissing, Kathryn looked down at him, her tears falling to his face.

"I... I canít believe..." she paused. "You canít die."

Chakotay smiled up at her. "Thereís nothing that can prevent it, Kathryn. Besides if the truth be known, Iím tired of living."

"Donít say that. Youíve lived a good life. Hell, you even got Voyager home."

"A good life. Ha!" He said. "You call living a life without seeing the woman I love, except for the brief moments when sheíd appear, living." He laughed again.

"Woman you love?" She asked choking on tears.

Chakotay nodded and brought his hand up to her cheek.

"Iíve wanted to tell you for so long. But every time I tried, youíd vanish." He paused. "I love you, Kathryn. I always have and I always will."

"Chakotay." She whispered. "I love you too. So much."

And then, despite his frail condition, Chakotay pulled Kathrynís lips down to his in a searing kiss.

Kathryn moaned and allowed Chakotay to pull her body across his.

When they finished kissing, they gazed into each otherís eyes.

Kathryn then settled herself on him, laying her head on his chest.

She listened to his heart. She listened to every beat it made. As she lay in his arms, listening to his heart, she heard it begin to beat slower and slower. And with every slow beat, Kathryn began to notice a darkness beginning to form.

And then without warning, she heard his heart give its final beat.

She raised her head and looked at his face. A smile came to her lips as she saw a smile on his face.

Suddenly everything went black.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

"This is incredible." Kathryn whispered.

"Yes. It most certainly is." Chakotay agreed.

They slowly made their way through the softly lit cavern until they came upon what Retrauq called "The Beginning."

They gave each other a look as if to say, "This is it?"

Suddenly Chakotay stopped, a weird feeling coming over him.

He looked at the pillar and an image of the pillar shooting out a beam of light filled his mind. His ears also started to ring with the sounds of Kathrynís screams.

Snapping back to reality, Chakotay saw the pillar begin to glow.

Fear shot through him.

Kathryn! His mind and heart screamed.

Then with a small cry, Chakotay dove at Kathryn, knocking her to the ground just as the light lanced out from the pillar.

The light hit the dirt and disappeared in a second.

"Chakotay?" Kathryn began and then stopped as she noticed the pillar begin to glow with a soft green light.

Chakotay moved himself off her and stood up. He offered her his hand and helped her up, keeping a tight grip on her hand.

As the light enveloped them, both Chakotay and Kathryn saw a life that had happened.

They saw the life they had just lived together and yet separately.

As they watched this, the feelings that both of them had been trying to fight and keep in check for the last three years, came rushing to the surface, breaking through their carefully constructed shields.

Kathryn looked up at Chakotay with tears in her eyes and squeezed his hand.

Chakotay smiled back at her, tears in his eyes also. He returned the squeeze.

No words were necessary.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Later that night, back on Voyager, Commander Chakotay, having just finished his duty shift walked down the corridor.

He stopped in front of a door and pressed the door chime.

The doors slid apart and he walked in.

Kathryn stood up from the couch and walked over to him, her nightgown billowing around her legs.

They embraced.

"I love you, Kathryn. I always have and I always will."

"Chakotay." She whispered. "I love you too. So much."

And then without another word, their lips came together in a searingly passionate kiss. A kiss filled with a lifetime of love.

-fin

 

***okay, okay. i know, this one is exceptionally cheesy. the only excuse i can offer was that i was sleep deprived....lol. but seriously, i do think that itís kind of sweet. in a sappy sort of way. let me know what you think. thanks, tayryn! :-)

 

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