Note: Story written by Chibi and Chuckles
Contains song lyrics: 'I wll always love you' - not written by us
Chakotay was filled with apprehension as he reached the doors of Holodeck Two. Inside, his Dorvan V program was running, all set up in readiness for later that day. It was here he would fulfil his duty by marrying Seven.
In his hand, Chakotay held a datapad which contained a short message from Tom. He felt a familiar wave of guilt and sadness flow through him as he thought of the blond pilot, already married to B'Elanna, with a baby on the way. He glanced down at the pad. The note had said that he should go to the holodeck and head for the place that he and Tom used to meet. He knew the spot Tom was talking about. It was a small cluster of trees overlooking a large ravine. They had spent many hours there just sitting together, wrapped in each others arms as they watched the sun set, the land glowing like fire as the last rays slipped below the horizon.
The doors opened with a familiar swish, and Chakotay stepped into the program. As always, he spent a few moments marvelling at his surroundings, and thanked the spirits that he could have this little piece of home so many years away from the real thing.
Setting off, he headed in the direction of the cliffs, wincing as he passed the small grove where the chairs and altar had been set up for his wedding. He cared for Seven, he couldn't deny that. But he couldn't, and didn't, love her.
She deserved someone who would cherish her, and show her everything humanity had to offer her now that she was away from the mindless perfection of the Borg, but despite his feelings for her, he knew he was not really the one who could do it. With every ounce of his being, he loved one flighty, carefree Lieutenant by the name of Tom Paris, and he knew that Tom felt exactly the same way about him.
A scowl darkened Chakotay's handsome features as he thought about what had happened between him and Tom. Everything had been progressing perfectly between them, and he had convinced Tom that it was time to let Kathryn know of their relationship; she was, after all, one of Chakotay's closest friends. He had therefore been surprised when she had turned on the pair of them with a look of absolute disgust.
She had raved and ranted about the good of the crew and Starfleet protocol, and how unnatural their love was, demeaning it on every level. He had been hard pressed to hold his tongue as she continued. How dare she malign true love when she herself had been dating a non-sentient hologram? If that didn't diminish crew moral and respect, he was sure that genuine care between two mature officers wouldn't either. But finally, she had ordered Tom and him to separate, and be seen with female officers to maintain dignity and respect within the crew. Tom had been forced to date B'Elanna, while he had begun a relationship with Seven.
However, it seemed that acceding to Janeway's wishes had been a bad idea. After just a few dates, B'Elanna was pregnant. And despite Tom's insistance that the baby was not his, he had been forced to marry her. Feeling utterly betrayed, Chakotay had agreed to Seven's demand to also be married.
Reaching the base of the cliff, Chakotay's eyes sought out the concealed trail, and he quickly made his way to the top, his mind filled with thoughts of Tom. His anger at the younger man had abated somewhat since the announcement of B'Elanna's pregnancy, and he desperately wanted to believe that Tom had been telling the truth about the child, despite the fact that all the evidence seemed to say otherwise. It hurt enough that he and Tom couldn't be together, but for Tom to have a child with someone else....
Chakotay stopped, and looked around. It was windy here at the cliff's summit. Nearby, a small pool glistened in the sunshine, and he bent and scooped cool water into his mouth as he mentally prepared himself for whatever Tom had to tell him. Moving again, he made his way through the trees until he arrived at their spot, and was mildly amused and annoyed to see another datapad placed on a blanket at the edge of the precipice. It seemed as if Tom wanted to play games.
In two strides he reached the blanket, and picked up the pad. He skimmed the contents once and shakily sat down, unable to believe what his eyes were seeing. Taking a deep breath, he reset the message to the beginning, and read it again:
My dearest Chakotay,
If I should stay.....
I would only be in your way
So, I'll go but I know
I'll think of you
Every step of the way
And I will always love you
I will always love you
You, my darling, you
That is all I'm taking with me
So goodbye, please don't cry
We both know I'm not what you need
And I will always love you
I hope life treats you kind, and I hope you have
All you've dreamed of
And I wish for you joy
But above all this, I wish you love....
I will always love you
You, darling, I love you
I'll always, I'll always love you...
The datapad dropped from Chakotay's hand as his vision blurred with hot tears. Taking a shaky breath, he found just enough voice to call to the computer. "Computer. Location of Lieutenant Paris."
"There are no life signs on board matching those of Lieutenant Paris. The comm badge assigned to Lieutenant Paris is in Sick Bay," the computer's monotone voice answered him, confirming his greatest fear. There was no way that Tom had left the ship without his comm badge. He was gone.
After a moment of staring wide-eyed at the simple check pattern of the blanket, Chakotay buried his head in his hands and closed his eyes, only to be assaulted with memories and images; visions of himself and Tom laughing with each other, laying in each others arms, holding and caring for one another. Chakotay forced his eyes to stay closed as his memories played one after the other in front of him. Their first meeting amongst the ranks of the Maquis; their first attempt at a tenuous friendship; their first kiss, and the first time they had awoken in each other's arms.
Then came the looks of love as lust had abated. The first time Tom had told him he loved him, and he had returned the sentiments. Their first anniversary spent in the very place he sat now, then how it had all fallen apart later that same special day. His hurt at the news of B'Elanna's pregnancy, and Tom's look of shock and betrayal when Chakotay announced his engagement to Seven; the hurt and pain they had, through Janeway's manipulations, inadvertently inflicted on one another, that could now never be apologised for.
Finally, Chakotay opened his eyes and almost detatchedly stood up. His tear-streaked face was surprisingly neutral as he found his voice and once more called for the computer. "Computer. Remove safety protocols on Holodeck Two. Authorisation: Chakotay-Beta-Two."
"Acknowledged. Warning. Safety protocols on Holodeck Two have now been removed. Authorisation: Chakotay-Beta-Two."
With a perfunctory nod of his head, Chakotay stepped forward onto the edge of the cliff. Turning, he could almost see himself and Tom laughing and kissing one another in their special place, safe in the knowledge of their love. Spreading his arms out, he closed his eyes and tilted his head to the sky. "Tom. I will always love you, too. And where you've gone, I will follow." His whisper caught on the wind and lifted high above the land as he fell back, then plummeted to the rocky ground below.
Outside the holodeck, Captain Janeway looked at the controls and frowned as she saw the safeties were switched off. "Computer," she barked. "Location of Commander Chakotay."
"Commander Chakotay is in holo... Correction. There are no life signs on board matching those of Commander Chakotay. The comm badge assigned to Commander Chakotay is in Holodeck Two."