Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, and for the record I just want to add that I'm thankful for what TPTB did with them this time!
Summary: Shattered vignette, picking up later in the conversation at the end of the episode. Contains spoilers for "Shattered".
The one and only time I'll get an episode addition up within a week of the US airing, having seen the episode myself!! <g>
"Chakotay, whatever it was that happened to you before, you didn't exactly look sorry that it was over."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I don't know, just that... well, you said yourself it wouldn't have been good."
"When did I say that?" Chakotay cut in.
"I believe your exact words were 'Trust me, it was better than the alternative'."
"Anyway," Kathryn tried to get back to her point, "you didn't give me the impression that your experience was all that bad. It just... it surprised me."
"The experience wasn't bad, it was just the results that would have been. I can't say any more than that, you know..."
"I know," it was Kathryn's turn to cut in, "the temporal prime directive. Since when have I ever taken any notice of that?!"
"You're not kidding."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I could always order you to tell me."
"But you're not going to."
"You know me too well."
Chakotay met this remark with silence, but his face gave away more than he wanted to. He couldn't help but think back to his time with the younger Kathryn, the one he had never met but at the same time knew so well. It amazed him how they had come to work so well together after such a short time. And what he had seen in her, the look on her face when she had asked him that one last question, and after he had answered as he had...
"Chakotay, you met someone, didn't you." More of a statement than a question, Kathryn's insight cut into his thoughts and took Chakotay by surprise.
"What made you say that?"
"You know, sometimes I envy your hunches, they can be entirely too accurate. I did meet someone while I was, shall we say, out of this time frame. We hit it off almost straight away, something I've only ever had happen once before. Only this time it was different."
"Sounds nice." Kathryn tried to keep her voice upbeat but she couldn't help feeling a little hurt, though she knew she had no right. "Were you on Voyager?"
"Oh come on, surely you can tell me that."
"Alright, yes, I was on Voyager."
"So this person was a member of the crew." Kathryn could tell from the look on Chakotay's face that he wasn't going to answer, but it was also his expression that answered all the same. "I'm going to assume that they aren't on the crew at the moment. The reason you can't say anything is the temporal prime directive, which must mean she's from the future of Voyager... or the past..."
Again, Chakotay's face told her exactly what she needed to know.
"I know! You met Stadi!"
"The Betazoid? Kathryn, you're way off." Chakotay finally spoke again. "It wasn't Stadi, but it was someone very special. The best and the worst part was, I think she was actually starting to feel the same way as me."
"Chakotay," Kathryn started, with her voice lowered to a soothing tone, "you can tell me who it is. It seems to me you need to talk about it."
"You may not think that if I told you."
Chakotay waited a beat before replying. "It was you."
Kathryn was speechless at first, and then found her voice if only to say "Me?"
"Does that really surprise you?"
"Well, only in that at that time, I was..."
"With Mark, still engaged to Mark, I know; that's what made it so special. You were still with him then, yet you were responding to what was between us more than you do even now."
"That's a little presumptuous isn't it? You have no idea how I feel now."
"Don't I? Can you honestly tell me you feel nothing for me but friendship?" Kathryn avoided Chakotay's glance as she mumbled something that he couldn't quite make out, so he continued to speak. "I thought not. Kathryn, if you've been worried that what we have has only grown from a lack of other people in our lives, then this is an opportunity to lay those ghosts to rest. You were with Mark, I gave you no indication that that would ever change, and yet I could tell that you were thinking about what it would be like to be with me. You even asked how close we actually are now, and looked disappointed at my answer. It gave me hope, for the first time, that even if Mark turned up here tomorrow asking to start again you would choose to be with me instead."
"It's been a long time since I would have done anything else!"
Now it was Chakotay's turn to sit speechless for a few seconds, but it was long enough to collect his thoughts.
"Kathryn, do you mean that?"
"Then why haven't we... why hasn't anything happened?"
"I suppose I was afraid that if we crossed the boundary between friendship and love there would be no way back."
"I think it's worth the risk."
Chakotay gathered Kathryn up into his arms as an earth-shattering grin spread across his face. Suddenly, he knew everything was going to be alright, and he silently thanked Kathryn's younger self. If it hadn't been for her, he wouldn't have had what he had today - in so many ways.
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