What the Heart Wants
by Joan Powers
Summary: What if Seven's memories of her interactions with Chakotay during End Game were unreliable? Janeway/Chakotay
A/N: I don't buy that after four years, Chakotay somehow instantly falls for Seven. There's no chemistry between these characters. Other than being two very attractive people, they have little in common. Here's my attempt to spin those End Game scenes. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks as always to the fabulous SuzJ1 and Tracy.
'The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care' – Emily Dickinson
A man on a mission, Chakotay strode with purpose down the corridor towards the bridge. He was wearing evening attire, a sharp black suit with a crisp white shirt and an azure blue tie. He was determined to find Kathryn. The computer had indicated that she was hiding in her Ready Room.
Ever since they'd entered the Alpha Quadrant, she'd been cold and distant with him. She'd repeatedly rebuffed his attempts at any conversation other than business. He was worried that she might completely disappear from his life after tonight's event.
He had to talk to her. Privately. Not at a gala in front of hundreds of people. He couldn't bear to leave their relationship as it was. At the very least, he hoped they could restore their friendship.
He almost didn't notice Seven of Nine appearing from a different branch of the corridor. Nearly colliding with him, she grabbed his arm to steady herself and halt his forward momentum.
Pausing, Chakotay said, "Seven, don't you look lovely."
Rather than her Starfleet uniform, she was clad in a stunning red satin evening gown with a sweatheart neckline that hugged her curves in a most flattering manner. Her blonde hair was arranged in a loose bun with a few stray tendrils attractively framing her face.
"Thank you." She smiled.
He startled when she grabbed his hand to interlock her fingers between his.
In a more intimate tone, she said, "I've been looking all over for you. Aren't we going to the gala together?"
Chakotay frowned, carefully extricating his hand from her grasp then taking a step back. "No. We didn't have plans."
"What do you mean? We're a couple, we've already gone on four dates. It's only natural that you would accompany me to the dance. We should not have to schedule that."
His brow furrowed with confusion as he scanned her features. "Seven, are you okay? Because…you're not making sense."
Was one of her Borg implants malfunctioning or had some dormant virus acquired in the Delta Quadrant been activated, altering her memory?
"What do you mean? Remember our picnic in the cargo bay?" She reminded him.
"Yes, I do."
That had been an awkward experience. Though Chakotay had genuinely wanted to get to know her better, the conversation had been stilted. Other than ship business, it had been difficult to find common ground. They also had different life philosophies, him being a deeply spiritual person, while she clung to science and hard-core facts.
She became more insistent. "You had me over your quarters for dinner. We kissed."
"What?" Alarmed, his voice rose. He had no idea what she was talking about. "Seven, I'd certainly remember if that happened."
Her rising tone and firm conviction that these events had actually occurred was disturbing him. He scrutinized her features, trying to determine if she was feverish.
"You complimented the rack of lamb."
This was frightening indeed. Perhaps her confusion was influenced by her emotions? He was aware that the upcoming transition, being introduced to human society on a grand scale, would be challenging for her. Was she already struggling?
Not wanting to hurt her feelings, he tried to steer her back to reality. He gently reminded her. "I'm a vegetarian, I don't eat meat. Shall I take you to sick bay to see if there's an issue with your cortical implant? Or to determine if there's something else going on?" He'd never seen Seven exhibit this much emotion.
"We've kissed! Several times! You said you couldn't wait to be alone with me."
"Seven, I'm concerned about you. Are you feeling alright?"
He wondered if she was having some type of breakdown. He needed to contact the Doctor. Then again, the majority of the crew were attending the gala off ship. Still, his best course of action was to escort her to sick bay.
Her voice cracked and her eyes shone with tears. "I don't understand. You said you wanted to live near me after we arrived on Earth. You love me!"
Chakotay's eyes grew wider, expressing his bewilderment. He tried to employ more damage control. Holding her gaze, he calmly said, "I'm sorry. But I think there's been some type of misunderstanding. I've never said those things to you. I consider you a friend and I wish you the best, but I don't have those feelings for you. Let me take you to sick-"
"You love me!" She latched onto his forearm, her fingernails digging into his skin.
Looking directly into her eyes and keeping a level tone, he said, "Seven, you are a lovely and intelligent young woman. But people don't usually fall in love after only a few dates."
He was trying to reason with her. He hadn't realized that she'd considered the picnic a date. And where was she getting this dinner and other dates from? What was causing these delusions?
"The admiral said we were married in the future! That you were heartbroken when I died!"
He felt as if he'd been sucker punched in the gut. Now Kathryn's icy cold demeanor was making more sense. If she harbored any feelings at all for him, this would've seemed like the ultimate betrayal. His need to locate her intensified.
A motion further down the hallway caught his attention. A flash of a deep blue evening gown and red hair, walking away as fast as possible.
He wondered how much of this conversation she'd heard. That would only make matters worse between them. He felt physically ill.
"You begged me not to break up with you!"
Although he was very concerned about Seven of Nine, he had more pressing matters to take care of. If he didn't corner Kathryn right now, he might lose her forever.
And he couldn't live with that.
Detaching himself from her grip, he said, "I'm sorry. I have to go. Please, go to sick bay and get yourself checked out." Turning the other direction, he shouted. "Kathryn!"
He sprinted after her.
Seven stormed into Sick Bay.
"Nice to see you too." The Doctor replied, somewhat coldly, his eyes fixed upon his computer screen. He'd been offended that once Voyager had returned to Earth, people had paid little attention to him. Apparently, a hologram didn't warrant debriefing by the brass. He huffed, once again expressing his displeasure.
Then his expression changed as his eyes came to rest upon the former Borg standing in front of him. He couldn't help but admire her.
"You look beautiful, Seven. I assume you're heading to the gala."
While the invitation for the lavish welcome home ball had been offered to the entire Voyager crew and their extended families, he was slightly offended that he hadn't been issued a personal one.
"Who is your date?" He was half-hoping that she'd stopped by for him.
Her lips grew tight, forming a thin line. "I thought it was Commander Chakotay."
"Why? Didn't you only date him as an experiment on the holodeck?"
Or had there been more? And if there had been, why would she hide such information from him?
With obvious disdain, she replied. "We had several real dates. Not only on the holodeck. We were getting along so well. I don't understand what's happening."
"What's the problem?"
He didn't really want to hear about Seven's love life. But he cared about her and Kes had drilled into him that that's what you do for people you love.
"I spoke with Chakotay a few minutes ago. He acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. That we'd never dated. That we weren't even close."
The Doctor finally noticed that her eye makeup was smudged, due to tears welling in her eyes. Her voice was slightly hoarse. He was surprised to see her so distressed. Then again, her forays into dating and intimate relationships had been understandably challenging, given her handicaps. And he had recently adjusted her cortical node, allowing her to more fully experience her emotions. Perhaps there'd been a glitch in the procedure?
"Curious. When was the last time he was…more receptive to you?"
"In astrometrics, before we attacked the Borg trans warp hub. I tried to distance myself from him, for his protection. He informed me that he couldn't just turn off his feelings for me."
"Hmm…" The Doctor began to pace.
"You're not being very helpful."
He stopped to glare at her. "What do you expect? I confessed that I loved you only a few weeks ago. This is hard for me. Why would I be excited about the prospect of you being involved with another man? Or did you think it wouldn't be an issue since I'm only a hologram?"
Her patience had worn thin. She strode towards the exit. "I thought you were my friend."
Getting over himself, he sighed. Quickly crossing the room, he grasped Seven's hand and guided her to his desk. "Tell me more about this relationship with Chakotay. When did this start?"
Her expression brightened upon remembering. "A few weeks ago."
"After your away mission while you were stranded together? Did you talk about more personal things?"
The Doctor concluded that might have given them the opportunity to grow closer. Especially under such dire circumstances. Both had suffered injuries. They'd been isolated with a native society, limited means of communicating with them, and no way to contact the ship.
"No, not really. Our first date was a week later in the mess hall."
"The mess hall?" That didn't sound right to him. "How do you know it was a date?"
Seven took offense at his question. "Chakotay asked me if I wanted to have lunch with him."
"He's asked me to have lunch with him too. And I'm sure that wasn't a date." Seeing her annoyed expression, he added, "I'm just trying to understand. That's all. What was your second date?"
"Shortly after the lunch, Chakotay asked me to join him and some others skiing on the holodeck."
"And he spent time with you?"
"Yes. He helped me with the mechanics. Putting on the equipment. Proper techniques."
"I assume everyone else in the group already knew how to ski."
"Of course. I fail to see how this is relevant."
"Hmm…The third date?"
"It occurred close to when Admiral Janeway arrived. We had a picnic in the cargo bay. Then a few nights later, he cooked me dinner in his quarters. I made a rack of lamb. That was when we kissed. Several times."
"And the Commander denies all this?"
The Doctor was perplexed. Over the seven years that he'd worked with Chakotay, despite his involvement with the Maquis, it was clear that he was an honorable man with high principles. He'd never seen him be deliberately cruel to anyone. He wouldn't lie about something as important as this.
What was happening?
He was also surprised that, given Seven's obvious distress, that Chakotay hadn't escorted her to sick bay.
Becoming more emphatic, she said, "He loves me. He couldn't keep his eyes off me while we were on our picnic. He's told me multiple times how beautiful I am. I don't understand what's happening!"
Seven tried to bat his hand away as the Doctor scanned her with his medical tricorder.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. No viruses or issues with the cortical node." He muttered as he examined the device. Then something occurred to him. "Wait a minute. Are you saying that he was in love with you at the picnic and the dinner date? That he behaved exactly as he did in your holodeck simulation?"
"Does that make sense?" He mumbled to himself. His concern was building. "You're saying he fell for you immediately and instantly became your devoted boyfriend?"
"Yes. He loves me."
"After four dates?"
"What is the relevance?" Seven sputtered, becoming impatient.
"Did he actually say that?"
"No, but I can tell by the way he looks at me. The way he kisses me. He said he wanted to live within transporter range of me. The admiral told me that Chakotay and I were married in the future. That he was heartbroken when I died. That she came back from the future to prevent that from happening."
"Doesn't that seem a bit melodramatic? That Admiral Janeway would go to all this trouble just for you? As much as she cares about you, you're not the center of her universe."
He was starting to suspect that rather than a physical ailment, Seven was having problems with emotional maturity. For, as much as he hated to admit it, he struggled with those issues too.
Putting a comforting hand on her shoulder, he said, "I understand that you have emotional needs. That's perfectly normal. After Unimatrix Zero went down, you were missing what your relationship with Axum provided. Now you have a void you rightly need to fill."
This was hard to say but he forced himself to acknowledge it out loud.
"I might not be the right person to meet those needs for you. But in your zeal for pursuing such attachments, I fear you're making judgment errors. You're reading far too much into people's responses. You're seeing what you want to see. Lunch with Chakotay was probably just an ordinary lunch. He helped you on the holodeck because you hadn't skied before. Emotionally you're acting like a teenager, which is to be expected, given your complex history. You haven't been socialized with other humans and now you're playing catch up which can be difficult."
"I know what I've seen!"
He tried a different tact. "Okay, you're a scientist. All of us exhibit bias in interpreting events. Can you substantiate any of these events that occurred between only the two of you?
"Chakotay acknowledged our picnic in the cargo bay."
"Neelix asked about my date with Chakotay while we were playing kadis-cot long distance."
"And that alone doesn't make any sense. You barely tolerated Neelix. And suddenly you're communicating over long distances with him and playing games? And talking about your love life? Does this make sense?'
"But why would the admiral lie to me?"
That was a good point.
"The admiral was also talking about a future that hadn't yet occurred. That will now never happen."
She was hurt, he could tell. But he needed to drive his point home. He tried to be as gentle as possible.
"And for Chakotay to fall in love with you by the third date? You fell for him during your holodate but when did he actually fall for you?"
"What do you know about love?" She accused.
"More than you might think. I had a short relationship with a Vidiian scientist, Danara Pel. She was brilliant. It was the first time I'd ever experienced those emotions."
And realized he was fully functional physically.
"And then you blew it due to your emotional immaturity."
That hurt. He resisted the strong urge to sulk and lick his wounds. But Kes had reminded him that love sometimes involves doing things you don't want to do. That love helps you become a better person.
"She had to return to her people. She was a gifted scientist. She had to give her all to save them. I also had a relationship with a lovely woman, Mareeza, for three years on the planet where time passed so quickly. We raised a child together."
Those had been happy times. He smiled as he remembered their private jokes. The child's laughter. Watching the sunset together with her head against his shoulder. Her gentle kiss on his forehead at night. Such small yet meaningful gestures of love.
Well, she had complained about him being overly sensitive. And overbearing. There had been a lot of bickering. Hadn't she once called him an egotistical bastard? But on the whole, they'd been happy.
Suddenly, he was reminded of gestures of love that he'd witnessed over the years in sick bay. Commander Chakotay nervously hovering about while the Captain was unconscious. Holding her hand and occasionally stroking her cheek when he thought no one else would notice. While the Captain made it her goal to visit all injured crewman, she spent substantially more time seated by Chakotay's side. And she certainly didn't hold anyone else's hand or whisper softly into their ear. He suspected that the Commander's heart had always belonged to someone other than Seven.
"What are you saying? That I made this all up?"
He hated to wound her. But she needed to hear the truth.
"No. Only that you most likely saw what you wanted to see. The heart wants what the heart wants. Emotions are scary, especially for us. When did your dinner date occur?"
Since some of the details didn't add up, he had a strong suspicion.
"Stardate 54975.2 at 1900."
"Computer confirm the location of Seven of Nine on Stardate 54975.2 at 1900."
"Is this really necessary?
"I'm afraid it is."
"Seven of Nine was on holodeck 2." The computer relayed.
Seven hung her head, devastated by the revelation.
The Doctor stepped closer to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Seven. I know how much you wanted this relationship. I understand that. We all desire to feel love and be accepted for who we are. And I'm sure there's a man out there who is right for you. There are also many kinds of love, besides romantic, that can be equally gratifying.
"I know dealing with the full scale of your emotions will take time to get used to. And it's scary for you being on Earth. You'll be introduced to people who you feel won't understand you. Many will automatically be biased against you due to your former association with the Borg. But remember, whatever the future brings, you still have this family – the Voyager crew. We're your friends and we care about you.
"I'd be honored to escort you to the ball." Frankly, it hurt to say the next part, but he sensed she needed to hear it." As your friend."
Her voice meek, she said, "I have no desire to further humiliate myself in front of the Commander."
"I'm sure he's just as concerned about you as I am. I am curious, why didn't he accompany you to sick bay?" The man's behavior seemed thoughtless, almost callous. And that wasn't like him.
"I don't know. His behavior was most illogical. When he saw the Captain, he ceased paying attention to me and ran after her."
With new insight, the Doctor scanned his memories. Over the past seven years, the command team had typically gotten along very well. He now realized how many private glances the two had shared. The sly smiles. The way their eyes had met. The subtle touches. He felt foolish that he hadn't recognized what this meant before.
Yet over the past weeks during debriefing, in the times that'd he'd observed the Captain and the Commander together, they'd seemed tense, avoiding each other's gaze. Shouldn't they be overjoyed to be home? He'd assumed the strain was due to stress since they were being scrutinized by the upper levels of Starfleet brass, grilled about every decision they'd made over the past seven years. Yet even during a more private interaction in sick bay, the same tension lingered between them, the Captain's voice cold and distant, the Commander, solemn, with downcast eyes.
Then he realized that the Admiral's revelation about Seven's future marriage to Chakotay might account for the hard glint in the Captain's eye.
No wonder Chakotay had rushed after her.
"Besides, I think his attention might be focused somewhere else tonight." He didn't want to elaborate, to rub salt into the wound, but he felt she needed more explanation. "Have you ever noticed how Chakotay and the Captain interact with each other?"
Her brow furrowed. She wasn't following. "They function well as a team."
The pieces had started coming together for him once he realized what he'd witnessed over the years. "More than well. They anticipate each other's thoughts, sometimes completing one another's sentences. Many times they don't need to use words to convey ideas to one another. Have you seen the fear in their eyes when the other is injured? They truly care about each other. Seven, that's what love is. And someday soon, you'll have that too."
The Doctor gave her a moment to repair her makeup then offered his arm. Then he realized. "I'm underdressed." He vanished in a flash and then reappeared in proper evening attire.
She grasped his proffered arm.