I can tell you a story... an ancient legend among my people.
Written with KateF and Jade
Disclaimer: hey, nobody told us we couldn't write about them! This story was written for ALM_Voyager's FanFic Contest - all we have to do is wait for you to vote for us!
* ~ * ~ *
"What is that? I can't believe it! Of all the people to do such a thing you would be the last one I'd suspect," B'Elanna looked at her best friend and couldn't believe the PADD he'd just showed her.
Harry stepped back a few steps, not sure if he wanted to face B'Elanna after she read the entire PADD.
* ~ * ~ *
This morning as he was checking the logs for Neelix's Morning Show, he found the computer had mixed up some of the Personal Logs of various crewmembers. As he was sorting out the mess, he came upon one that was simply labelled "Angry Warrior Legend". The log's clearance had been high, too high for just a legend, and it peaked his curiosity.
As he read the legend — after asking B'Elanna for emergency clearance codes — he simply couldn't keep it to himself anymore. He contacted B'Elanna, after she'd ordered him to show her whatever he had needed the codes for.
And now he was waiting for her to burst out and, considering the contents of the PADD, make his life miserable from now on.
"Kahless, where did you get this? Harry, you have to tell me, if you don't I will show it to the Captain."
"You won't show her."
"I won't? Wanna bet, Starfleet?"
"B'Elanna, what will you think the Captain will do after she finds out someone has accessed this Legend, this highly personal legend belonging to Chakotay and herself?" Harry looked at her and waited for the proverbial coin to drop.
"You get my point then."
"Oh my! What are we going to do now?"
"We are not going to do anything. We will simply pretend I never found this log. And we will certainly not let the Captain and Chakotay know we actually read it!"
She seemed to ponder what he said.
"That is the sensible thing to do, isn't it?" B'Elanna sighed, "but it's just such a beautiful story. It's so Chakotay. And I think it's so the Captain for keeping it."
"Do we really want to keep it a secret? I mean, will we manage to? It is so great. I mean, I can't believe it! This is more I could ever have dreamed of getting my hands on. Just imagine Tom finding it."
"Second thoughts, Harry? We are NOT going to give this to anybody. We will in no way give it to Tom of all people. Do you know how fast it will be around the ship? In a matter of nanoseconds. I mean, I love him, I really do. But he is the unofficial gossip-monger of the ship, not counting the doctor that is."
"So you're willing to just let this opportunity pass? All these years we've been fishing for proof Chakotay and Janeway are an item, and now that we have it, you're chickening out?"
"You have a plan, don't you? This is what happens when you spend too much time with Tom. Harry, I used to like you, but I think it's best if I severe my personal connection with you. I don't want the Captain or Chakotay to throw me in the brig."
"And where is your sense of adventure? B'Elanna, what have we got to loose? You know as well as I do, that the Captain and Chakotay will not throw us in the brig just for reading a story. They would only make our lives miserable for the rest of the journey."
B'Elanna looked at Harry. She could see he was dead serious. "OK, Starfleet, count me in."
* ~ * ~ *
They were seated on a picnic blanket in the middle of a green valley on the holodeck. Harry had packed lunch, and B'Elanna had managed to bring Naomi and Mezoti without rousing suspicion.
"Why are you being so secretive? The whole crew has been talking about it, and they all want to know what is happening." Naomi inquired.
B'Elanna looked perplexed, "What do you mean?"
Mezoti took over, "The crew has asked us to brief them on our meeting here."
The adults looked at each other, "How did they find out? We never told anyone anything."
A big sigh from Naomi stopped Harry's train of thought, "Well, Tom heard B'Elanna talk in her sleep, and he told the doctor, who told Seven, who told Icheb, who told Mezoti and me. And they were all saying that you have a plan."
"Oops, I'm sorry Harry, I didn't know Tom knew I did that."
"It's okay. We'll just have to change to plan B now."
B'Elanna was surprised, "We have a plan B?"
Harry nodded, "We have one now. So, do you want to do the telling, or should I?"
Leaning against B'Elanna, Naomi nudged Mezoti.
Mezoti looked at Harry and blinked her eyes, "Harry, will you tell the story? Please, pretty please?" She seemed to reconsider her words, "Naomi, why is please pretty? That does not make sense. Ensign Kim, you will tell the story, or I will damage you with my hairbrush!"
* ~ * ~ *
I can tell you a story... an ancient legend among my people. It's about an angry warrior... who lived his life in conflict with the rest of his tribe... a man who couldn't find peace, even with the help of his spirit guide. For years he struggled with the demons inside him, but the only satisfaction he ever knew came when he was in battle. This made him a hero in his tribe, but the warrior still longed for inner peace. One day he and his war party were captured by a neighboring tribe, led by a warrior princess. She called on him to join them, for her tribe was too small and weak too defend themselves from all their enemies. The warrior princess was brave, and beautiful. And very wise. The angry warrior swore to himself that he would stay by her side, doing whatever he could to make her burden lighter. From that point on, her needs would come first. And in that way, the warrior began to know the true meaning of peace. He didn't realize for a long time that what he was feeling was love—because he had never known love before.
The two girls were very giddy when Harry finished the legend. Even B'Elanna became emotional over it again. All four of them sighed when Harry began to explain the second part of their plan.
* ~ * ~ *
As planned the two young girls approached Chakotay. They were both nervous although Mezoti hid it better than Naomi. They stood outside the commander's office waiting for him to grant them entrance. When they received permission to enter, they hurried in and waited for the door to close behind them.
"Permission to speak freely," Naomi said in her best Starfleet manner.
"Of course, Crewman Wildman," Chakotay said with a barely repressed grin on his face, "And please be seated." He motioned toward the sofa under the portals.
Naomi sat stiffly on the edge of the cushion, "We want to ask you the meaning of the Angry Warrior Legend and to find out if there is an ending."
The color drained from Chakotay's face, and the grin was gone. He stood from his chair and turned his back to the girls.
His mind was racing. How did they find out about the Angry Warrior Legend? He had never told anybody, had he? He was sure he hadn't. It was too private to talk about the words that had come deep down from his heart. There was only one explanation. Kathryn. Kathryn must have told them. They must have found out from her. But why? Did Kathryn really remember it? And why should she tell those children something like that?
He turned back to Naomi and Mezoti. "Where did you find out about this legend?"
Naomi was about to speak when Mezoti interrupted, "We are not at liberty to say, Commander Chakotay. We came to you first and will be talking the Captain next."
Panicking, Chakotay interjected. "No, you must not say anything to the captain about this! Do you understand me?" He tried to look as stern as possible.
Kathryn did not know about this? He couldn't tell her. He couldn't let the children run to her. She would assume that he had told them. He couldn't risk that. New Earth was embedded in his heart forever. Every single moment. He didn't want to destroy the memory by risking Kathryn's wrath. He didn't know how she would react.
Naomi paled a bit, but Mezoti was unmoved. She told him, "I have perfect command of your language, Commander. However, does this mean you will not explain the story to us?"
Chakotay ran a hand through his hair in agitation. "Let me think about it. I am not sure I can or should answer you. Give me some time to think about it."
The girls sat staring at him as if waiting for him to think about it. He glanced at them again and said, "You are dismissed."
He walked with them to his door, and as it opened he said, "Remember, do not say anything to the captain about the legend."
The girls merely nodded as they walked through the door. None of them, including Chakotay, noticed Kathryn Janeway move back out of sight.
* ~ * ~ *
"Wait, Naomi. State your plans. Where are you going?" Naomi stopped in the middle of the corridor causing Mezoti to bump into her.
"You will see soon enough."
"Tell me, now."
Naomi continued down the corridor. After she had sensed no movement behind her, she stopped to turn around. "Are you coming, or what?"
"Not before you tell me."
"Oh, all right." Naomi checked the corridor. When she spotted some crewmembers, she walked to Mezoti and whispered her plan into her ear.
"No. You are not going to do that, Naomi Wildman. We do not have permission for such drastic actions. We are not going to do that."
"We are! Resistance is futile."
"I fail to see the humor in that."
* ~ * ~ *
Kathryn sat in her ready room, wondering. Legend? What legend had Chakotay been talking about? Legend... Legend... It struck her suddenly: New Earth. The legend could be THE Angry Warrior Legend. Chakotay's legend, her legend. The declaration of his love. It was impossible.
He couldn't have told them. They had kept silent about it. They had never even talked about that, not to others, not even to each other. She was sure Chakotay wouldn't do it. He would never let a word about it slip.
But what if he had lost all hope? What if he thought that they would never be together? Would he tell the girls a story, an ancient legend among his people? Would he finish it?
She desperately hoped he wouldn't. It would mean it was over. And she didn't want it to be over. She had hoped that he would wait, patiently, just as she waited for him. She had hoped he would wait for the day they got home, the day she could throw herself into his arms, kiss him and ask him to marry her.
She shook her head. After all, she was just a romantic at heart, wasn't she?
The question she had to answer now was: Was she going to confront him about it? Did she really want to know whether he still had feelings for her? Loved her? Or did she want to continue living in her dream world?
She wasn't sure about it.
* ~ * ~ *
"Naomi Wildman, Mezoti. Where are you going? What are you doing on the bridge?"
"Uhm, nothing, Ensign Kim, really."
"You are not exactly allowed to be on the bridge. You know that, don't you?"
"Yes, Sir." The girls stood straight with their hands behind clasped behind their backs in best Starfleet manner.
"So, what were you doing?"
"Going to the Captain, sir."
"That's personal, sir."
"Does it have something to do with a story B'Elanna and I told you?"
"Maybe, sir, we can't really tell, it's personal."
* ~ * ~ *
The doors to the ready room opened as Janeway walked onto the bridge.
The captain raised an inquiring eyebrow as she saw the two little girls.
"What are you doing here?" She asked gently an amused grin on her face as she saw Harry's expression.
"We wanted to talk to you, Captain, about something, uhm, personal."
"Come on in, and make yourselves at home." She went into the ready room after them casting another glance at Harry before the doors closed. Harry's face had turned a deep shade of red.
"What can I do for you?" Kathryn sat down on the couch after she gave both girls some Ajnos Blueberry Juice. It wasn't everyday they came to visit her in her Ready Room, and she had a feeling it might possibly have something to do with what she over heard earlier that day.
Now all she had to do was wheedle it out of the two girls sitting next to her. It was a dirty job, but she had to do it. She grinned self-consciously behind her mug of coffee. Grilling the angels would be tough, but she was going to enjoy every minute of it.
"Captain, we have something we would like to discuss with you, but because of its delicate nature, you cannot tell anyone else about it. Not even Commander Chakotay."
This was certainly a surprise. "Mezoti, I can't promise you I won't tell anyone, but I will take your request under advisement. Now what is it you want to discuss with me?"
Little Naomi leaned towards Mezoti, reassuring herself she was doing the right thing. "Captain, we know something we think you would want to know." She looked back at the Captain again, "it's of vital importance that you find out what we know, but we can't tell you what we know."
Kathryn was having a hard time keeping up with what Naomi was not saying. "But how will I find out what you know?" Her puzzlement was not faked, and the girls silently congratulated each other on their plan; their Captain was caught: hook, line and sinker.
"Well," Mezoti leaned towards Kathryn, "you will need to prove us that you're worthy of our knowledge."
"Yes," Naomi continued, "Because if you don't, you will not get to know what we know, even though you might already know what we know, but you don't know you know it."
"Naomi, you're confusing the Captain."
"Wasn't I supposed to do that? You would be the good cop and I got to be the bad one."
Kathryn noticed the girls were about to turn their play into a fight, and just as she was about to interrupt them, her door chimed.
Two frightened faces looked to her pleadingly, "Captain, don't let them in!"
"Computer, who is at the door."
She looked back at Naomi and Mezoti, "May I let him in?"
The terror visible in their faces was almost too much for her. If she wasn't careful, she would burst out laughing right in front of them, and she was sure they would never tell her their secret if she did that.
"Janeway to Chakotay. Can I help you, Commander?"
"Actually Captain, you can. Can I speak to you in private?"
"Commander, I'm busy with a very important fact-finding quest right now. Can it wait till later? Maybe you could brief me later, over dinner?"
"Alright, Captain, your quarters or mine?"
Only now Kathryn realized she was having this personal conversation over the Comm, with her First Officer standing on the Bridge. A blush slowly crept up her face, which the girls immediately noticed and started giggling. "Your quarters and you prepare the meal."
"Commander, it is not crunch time yet."
"I have to disagree with you Captain, especially if you remember that I am on the occupied bridge right now."
"Your warning is duly noted, thank you Commander." She couldn't keep the grin out of her voice, "Janeway out."
As the Captain turned around, the girls were still giggling. However, when they saw herlooking at them, they sobered.
Mezoti straightened her back and spoke, "If you will answer some questions about protocol, we will give you the information in our possession."
Again, Kathryn could barely suppress a smile. "What are your questions?"
Naomi nodded to Mezoti, encouraging her to begin.
"We would like to know the exact protocol that keeps a captain from forming a romantic attachment with another officer aboard a ship."
This time Janeway actually began to cough as she choked on her coffee. By the time she finished, there were tears in her eyes, and the two girls looked worried. With a constricted voice, Kathryn reassured them, "I am fine. The coffee merely went down the wrong pipe."
Naomi could tell that Mezoti was about to ask the captain about 'the wrong pipe', but she shook her head at her friend. The girl closed her mouth and waited for the captain to speak again.
Janeway cleared her throat once more. "There is no specific rule. But let me tell you a story, girls. Just imagine a Captain and a fellow officer were involved. She would love him dearly and they would be happy. But one day she'd send him on an away mission and he'd die. She would be responsible for his death and wouldn't be able to cope. She would feel guilty forever. A Captain can't afford to let her feelings get in the way when it comes to making decisions. Decisions that might as well kill the man she loves. They wouldn't be able to separate their personal and their professional life. The crew might accuse her of putting his needs first. There are many more reasons why a Captain shouldn't be involved with a fellow crewmember. Do you understand now?"
"No, Captain. I fail to see the logic in your speech. Let us assume that the crewmember we are talking about is already the captain's best friend and that she loves him deeply although she doesn't give in to her feelings. Would she react differently if he died now because of one of her orders? I'd say that she would grieve even more because she never told him about her feelings. That her guilt would be greater. Would you feel any different if Chakotay would be killed now?"
Kathryn just stood there, her mouth gaping open. Naomi looked ready to faint. She was just staring at her friend not believing that she really heard what Mezoti had said.
Kathryn swallowed. "You wanted to tell me something? Give me the information in your possession, to quote you?"
"You refuse to answer my question?"
At that point Naomi nudged her friend into the ribs. Mezoti understood.
* ~ * ~ *
"Chakotay to Janeway." She bolted upright in bed. Damn. She had made it from her ready room to the bridge to her quarters without having to face him. She couldn't believe her luck. She knew a discussion was inevitable but she wanted to postpone. She would actually prefer not to have it - ever.
"Chakotay to the Captain. Kathryn, do you hear me? Are you alright?"
He could be so sweet when he was worried. Kathryn sighed.
"You sound sleepy, Kathryn. Did I wake you?"
"Never mind, Chakotay, what is it?"
"I just wondered if we could talk."
"No. Actually I meant face to face, not commbadge to commbadge."
"Uhm, okay. But don't expect me to leave this bed."
Why did she say that? It almost sounded like flirting. She slipped into this flirtatious mood too easily these days. Of course, he was the reason for it. She decided that she hadn't been flirting. She had been stating the obvious. She wasn't going to leave her warm and comfortable bed just because he wanted to talk to her. Never. There were few things more tempting than a warm cushy bed. A bathtub filled with hot water, a huge pot of coffee, Chakotay... Chakotay? Where had that thought come from?
"Kathryn? Kathryn where are you?"
"You know where I am, Chakotay."
"Uhm, can I come in?"
"You might as well have stayed in your quarters. We could have spoken via commbadges. No, Chakotay, you can't come in."
"Now I can put you into the brig for insubordination." A smile lit her face.
"You wouldn't want to tell the ensign from security who enters your quarters to get your first officer out of your bedroom. Just imagine the rumors."
"You know that wouldn't stop me. The rumors can't get any worse. It would mean leaving the bed. And, mister, that is the only thing that keeps you safe for now."
She was downright flirting with him. The way she smiled at him. He was helpless. His mind had turned to jelly the moment he had entered her bedroom. Kathryn Janeway on the bridge, he could handle; Kathryn Janeway in casual clothing, he could handle.
Kathryn Janeway in a towel had been... well... he forced his mind to go on. Yes, Kathryn Janeway in a silk nightgown in her bed was too much for his poor brain.
It dawned on her how much control she really had over him; the Captain might not have any control over the Commander, but Kathryn's actions would always have an impact on Chakotay's life. He gave her that right years ago, but she never realized she used it almost every day. Like now, in her bedroom, she was flirting with him mercilessly and there was nothing he could do against it.
She leaned towards him as he sat down on the bed next to her — invading her privacy like he usually did. Apparently Chakotay had found a way to parry her attacks. And as he smiled, she was relieved to find he even was marginally better at keeping her on her toes. His smile completely ruined whatever she wanted to say to him. In fact, it even made her change her words.
"You didn't come over for dinner. I though I'd check on you to see if you were alright."
"I'm fine, thanks. But didn't you get my message? I'd left it with Seven, telling you I had to help B'Elanna with some of the minor relays adjustments."
"You mean to say you stood me up for a 'minor relay adjustment'? Thanks Kathryn, it's nice to be appreciated." He got up and walked out of her bedroom.
"Chakotay! Wait!" Ignoring all her previous statements, Kathryn leaped out of her bed and ran after him. "Wait, I have to explain!"
He turned around, just as he reached the door. "What is there to explain, Captain?"
His use of her title was a slap in her face. She stood ramrod stiff in front of him. "There is so much to explain, Chakotay."
He looked straight into her eyes and saw that for once she was not hiding behind her usual command façade. Out of its own accord his hand tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. The action made her blush, and he leaned down to kiss her.
"Neelix to Commander Chakotay."
She sighed and leaned her head against his chin. "This is not going how I planned it."
He kissed her forehead, and activated his commbadge. "Chakotay here. What can I do for you, Neelix?"
"Commander, I hope I didn't wake you, but I have two small girls here demanding you tell them a story. In fact they have been hiding from me, so they could stay up. And I fear they won't go to bed, until you do."
"I'm on my way, Neelix. Chakotay out." His hand found Kathryn's when he touched his commbadge.
"So, you have some story telling to do."
"I guess I do. Naomi and Mezoti should have been in bed a long time ago. And who am I to refuse them a story."
"As long as you return here and tell me one too."
* ~ * ~ *
"Neelix to Commander Chakotay. Commander, is everything alright?"
"Chakotay here. Yes, I am fine. Why do you ask?"
"Well, I asked you to come over here half an hour ago and I was just wondering where you were."
"I am sorry, Neelix, I am on my way. Chakotay out."
He made no attempt to move. They were still standing there oblivious to time. Her head was snuggled into his neck. She didn't bother to lift it.
"Chakotay, you should really be going."
Neither of them moved.
* ~ * ~ *
"What story do you want to hear, girls?" Chakotay was in a hurry. He was desperate.
"The story of the Angry warrior and the woman warrior."
"I don't think I should tell you this one, you already know it."
He managed to tell the story in record time. The shortest version he could think of. He couldn't wait to get back. Back to her. Mezoti and Naomi had looked irritated to say the least. He had told them he had the early shift tomorrow, he wanted to go to bed, he wanted to sleep. Had they believed him? He didn't really care.
Walking back to Kathryn's quarters as fast as he could, he didn't even notice almost running into Ensign Kaplan at one of the turbolifts.
"I'm sorry, Commander."
He grinned sheepishly, "Why should you be sorry, when I was the one who almost ran into you. No need to be sorry, it's my fault."
"Sir, are you alright?"
"Yes, why do you ask?"
"I couldn't help but notice that you continually hit the control pannels of the lift. You know it will not make the lift get here any sooner, do you?"
"Right, habit I guess. I'm just in a hurry."
Luckily the turbolift arrived soon enough to keep the Ensign from asking him why he was anxious for the lift to arrive. He ran the last part to Kathryn's quarters and he was slightly out of breath when he touched the chime.
Damn. And he didn't even hear the chime.
"Chakotay to Janeway."
Nothing. He tried again. "Chakotay to Janeway. Kathryn, are you there?"
Sighing deeply he turned around again.
"Janeway to Chakotay. I'm sorry, Chakotay, this is not going to work. Janeway out."
"Chakotay to Janeway." Silence. "Chakotay to Janeway. Kathryn, dammit, answer me." Silence.
"Chakotay to Janeway. I know you can hear me, Kathryn. If you start thinking now it will be too late. You will pull away again. I love you, Kathryn. I love you more than my life, dammit. I don't know if I can live through any more rejections."
He knew she wasn't going to give in. He knew he was making a fool of himself. He knew he should just turn around and go back to his quarters.
* ~ * ~ *
He had been pacing his quarters forever. He was still furious. He fell for her, again. He should have known it hadn't been for real. He should have known she would take the easy way out, she would play with his feelings again. He didn't know why she was hiding her feelings; feelings he knew mirrored his own? Why did she keep pulling away from him? He just couldn't find the answer. He was sure she had her reasons. He decided there was no use in trying to figure out Kathryn Janeway. He might as well try to get some sleep.
"Kathryn to Chakotay. Did you mean what you promised me earlier?"
"That I would love you forever?"
"No. The good night story. But that too."
"What if I did?"
"I love you too."