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Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own them, but that doesn't mean I can't play with them and then put them back where I found them.

Notes: This was written for the VAMB 2009 Secret Drabble exchange with Quadrantje supplying me with the first line. I spent about a week going through all sorts of different scenarios but the muse landed on this one. Thanks to QS for the quick beta job...I sincerely hope this is the version you betaed. And thanks to Maja for the read through!

A Father's Pride by Cheshire

My father,” Kathryn began, her voice obstructed by tears, “gave his life to Starfleet.” She had to pause, and several people in the audience nodded knowingly, seemingly pleased with her emotional reaction. Regaining her demeanor quickly, Kathryn Janeway continued, “And I don’t just mean that he died while wearing his uniform. I mean he missed birthdays, anniversaries, and several years worth of life events that his wife and two daughters experienced without him.”

Kathryn noticed as she surveyed her audience that several of the people that had just nodded were now shifting uncomfortably in their seats. Good. “A long time ago, I chose to join Starfleet because I knew that despite my father’s…my family’s sacrifices…the exploration of space was a worthwhile endeavor and one I wanted to be a part of. I also knew there was a militaristic side to Starfleet, as well, but defending one’s family, one’s planet against those who would do them harm…well, I felt that, too, was worthwhile.”

This time she glanced at one person in particular. He stood near the back, but when she met his dark eyes with her own, it was as though they were the only two people in the room. He gave a slight nod, and she knew he was with her.

“So I chose to pursue command. A role that by definition demands sacrifice. It is taught that one must give up personal connections in order to command effectively. A leader must stand alone. I believed that doctrine, and I upheld it.” She paused, letting her eyes sweep over all of her former crew standing in the back of the room and she shook her head slightly. “But I was a fool.”

Someone in the front row cleared his throat, but she ignored the not-so-subtle hint and continued speaking. “I was at my strongest when my people knew how much I cared for them. How much I honored them. Letting them think otherwise, allowing them to think otherwise, made it no less painful for me to send them on impossible missions. It simply made the pain harder to reconcile when they didn‘t return.”

Kathryn paused again before focusing her gaze on the admiralty seated in the front row. “You have offered me the rank of admiral, and you think I’m like you. You think I will accept your conditions and be grateful for your generosity. That I would choose to accept your hollow promotion and your empty platitudes.” She snarled the last word. “You were wrong.”

There were now open grins on the faces of her former crew, but she focused on the scowls of the front row. “You were wrong when you imprisoned the Maquis members of my crew, and you were wrong when you thought you could buy my silence.” Kathryn turned to Admiral Nechayev, who was standing frozen on the stage with her. “I do not accept your promotion to the rank of admiral, and I hereby resign my commission effective immediately.” She took the so recently pinned rank bar off her collar and briefly considered throwing it at the woman standing near her. The quick glance Nechayev flicked towards Kathryn’s clenched fist confirmed that she was wary of the insignia becoming a projectile as well, but Kathryn set it respectfully on the podium, brushing her fingers over it one last time. She returned her attention to her audience. “I’m glad my father died before he had to bear witness to what has become of Starfleet. You were once a noble organization. I hope, for your sake, you will be one again, but I refuse to give another day of my life to you. I have more important things to do.”

And with those last words, Kathryn Janeway walked off the stage as an uproar broke out in the audience. The admiralty was calling for her arrest while all of her former crew were cheering wildly in unbridled support. Several members of her crew made an immediate cordon around her as the crowd swelled to their feet and she made her way towards the exit. The hall had broken into pandemonium. Only one person managed to reach her side. The only person she ever wanted at her side. Even he hadn’t known what she was going to do today, but if his smile was any indication….he definitely approved.

“You just had to have the last word, didn’t you?” he joked, belatedly seeing the worried look in her eye. He put a steadying arm around her waist, guiding her through the last of the crowd and out of the auditorium. They walked in silence through the hallowed halls of Starfleet Headquarters, but he could feel her trembling. Sensing an emotional reaction that neither of them would want witnessed, Chakotay pulled Kathryn into the first maintenance closet he could find. Closing the door securely behind him, he turned her so she was facing him. Without a word being said, she buried her face against his chest, her hands knotting the front of his shirt. Before the first sob escaped her, he had his arms around her and was stroking her hair. Her arms wrapped around his back with desperate strength as her entire body shuddered against him. Keeping her head tucked beneath his chin, Chakotay closed his eyes at her pain and waited for the storm to pass.

Only when her crying had quieted did he say what he thought was troubling her. “Kathryn, your father would have been proud of you today.”

She looked up at him with a tear stained face and shook her head dejectedly. “No…he would have been disa-”

“He would have been proud,” Chakotay reiterated firmly, cupping her face. “You stood up for yourself. Your crew. And you stood up for what Starfleet is supposed to represent. There’s going to be a lot of people taking a long hard look at themselves and the direction this organization has taken, thanks to you. You saved the world, and now you may have just saved Starfleet.” He dropped his head so his forehead touched hers. “Your father would have been proud.”

She sniffed, wanting desperately to believe him. “You really think so?”

Chakotay wiped his thumbs across her cheeks and nodded. “I know so.” Kathryn still looked unconvinced, so he kissed her on top of the head. “Do you want to know how I know?”

She nodded.

“Your mother sent this with me.” He held out a small golden figurine and watched Kathryn silently take it from his hand.

She turned the small bird over in her hands, cautiously running her fingers along its contours. Her voice was almost a whisper when she spoke. “I was always his Goldenbird.” She looked up at him again. “But how did my mother know what I was going to do today?”

He shrugged. “She knew you’d do the right thing, no matter how difficult, and she knew you’d make her proud. She knew you’d make your father proud.”

“I think,“ Kathryn sniffed as new tears sprang to her eyes, “I’m ready to go home now.”

Chakotay called for a beam out and then kissed her as they disappeared in a swirl of light.



Thank you Sue for hosting my words!! 

And thank you Ria and Sira for once again wrangling the exchange!! 

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