Written for the VAMB Janeway Lives Story Challenge 2009
When In Doubt, Look Here
Captain Eden sat in her ready room, staring at the strips of starlight that passed in front of the view port like a shattered rainbow. The new slipstream drive of VOYAGER had already passed its baptism of fire and the ship went quietly, accompanied by a small fleet, towards the Delta Quadrant.
Afsarah Eden’s thoughts turned to the first captain of this ship, Kathryn Janeway, and the great sacrifices she and her crew had suffered as they’d fought their long way back home. She had almost memorized the logs of Janeway and her crew available at Starfleet Headquarters. If VOYAGER had only perfected the slipstream drive sooner…how many lives could have been saved, how much suffering would have been spared the crew! It seemed like a mockery of history that Admiral Janeway had brought them home to the Alpha Quadrant only to die ‘…So soon after she also seemed to have finally found happiness for herself,’ Eden mused.
She wished she had known this remarkable woman better, a legend in her lifetime, to have had the time to learn from her. Now she sat at Kathryn Janeway’s desk, and she fervently hoped to bring this crew back home intact and uninjured. Eden realized that Janeway’s death had made this mission necessary, the very thing the Admiral had tried so hard to prevent.
Only a few days ago Seven of Nine came aboard. Her contact with the Caeliar and the removal of her last Borg implants has been troubling her. She expressed the desire to help Eden’s small fleet to uncover the mysteries of the Borg and the Caeliar and by that finding stability in her own life. Seven hoped she would be able to reconcile her Borg past with her present humanity.
VOYAGER had settled into a quiet routine, accompanied by the constant hum of the slipstream drive. The sensors gathered new data for her science departments, and the engineers prepared shuttles for future away missions, as they maintained the ships systems.
The DELTA FLYER was the heart of the shuttle fleet, equipped with slipstream drive, ablative hull plating, and specially developed transphasic torpedoes that could be used by the small vessel for special operations.
Chakotay sighed as he stretched out in a chair in one of VOYAGER’s guest quarters. He’d resigned from Starfleet, giving up his commission of captain a year after Kathryn’s death. He hadn’t intended to return to VOYAGER, but he wanted to help Seven. She needed to be a part of this mission and he couldn’t help but feel an obligation to Kathryn’s memory, to care for the young woman.
While Seven went to work immediately, spending long hours in the familiar surrounding of Astrometrics, Chakotay had stayed secluded in his assigned quarters. He hadn’t wanted his presence leading to tensions on the ship as he had been several crewmembers’ former commander, but he was grateful that Seven was getting her chance for answers here aboard VOYAGER and he didn’t want to cause Captain Eden any problems.
He thought that being aboard the ship had helped him too, he felt a belonging here, the one place left he truly felt at home. He could almost feel Kathryn’s spirit. Sometimes he thought that at any moment the door would hiss open and Kathryn would be standing in the doorway, or his combadge would chirp and she would call him to her ready room. For a moment his heart would speed up, as if he expected to see her. No, he would never forget her or their seven years together in the Delta Quadrant.
Chakotay sensed that he could face mourning for Kathryn here on VOYAGER and at last find some kind of inner peace.
He was also glad to find Tom on board, as he had become one of his closest confidants, one whom he enjoyed sharing the occasional dinner.
He also noticed that there seemed to be a deeper friendship forming between Harry and Seven. They seemed at ease with each other, and their mutual interests, especially their shared love of music had drawn them together. Obviously Seven was seeing Harry in a different light now, he was stronger and more self-confident since VOYAGER’s return to Earth.
Chakotay rose out of the chair and went into his bedroom to retrieve a special bag. Opening it he took out his medicine bundle, sat down on the floor, unfolding it. Thoughtfully, he took the Akoonah in his hands as if to start his meditation. Then he hesitated for a moment and put it back down on the soft fur. He pulled the bag closer to him and took out a similar package, Kathryn’s medicine bundle.
He was honoured that Gretchen Janeway had given it to him. Now it was the only thing of Kathryn left to him but it meant the most. He hadn’t as yet summoned the courage to open it. Slowly he undid the neatly tied bow, then placing it on the floor, he carefully unfastened it.
The stone, the feather, the colourful shimmering crystal…Chakotay remembered exactly where Kathryn had collected all these things.
Suddenly his breath caught in surprise as a small box appeared. On the edge of it, next to the symbols for eternity, commitment, fidelity and two spirits joined as one, there was the engraving of the symbol of love. Kathryn must have changed the symbol of hope to one of love on the Bonding Box. It was exactly the symbol for the kind of love shared by two people that had made the choice to bind their lives together in a permanent committed relationship. Tenderly he stroked the engraving, his breathing deepened as he remembered Proxima…and Venice. Somewhere deep inside he heard Marks’ voice, hoarse with grief, and the shattering of glass.
He lifted the little box to his lips and closed his eyes, thinking of Kathryn. His hope now was to speak with her with the help of his spirit guide, if only for one last time. Every time he tried, her soul didn’t come in contact with his, perhaps he would have better luck here on VOYAGER.
The woman slammed her Bat’leth back, fighting to free herself from the Borg drone who held her twisted against his shoulder, his assimilation tubes impaled deep in her throat.
She slumped down when he released her and staggering she began to move through the cube, seeking escape before the nanoprobes, he had injected into her, completed the assimilation process. She fought to maintain balance and consciousness, while the implants spread over her cheeks and then over her body. As she felt herself falling she tapped her combadge and disappeared in a shimmering blue ray.
Within seconds she materialized in a small ship. Clinging to the helm console she pulled herself up, groaning in the effort. She activated the control panel, and with one last attempt locked in the autopilot.
A jolt shot through the ship as it accelerated. The inertia dampers pulled at her as they compensated the burst of speed. Phaser beams leaped out of the Borg cube, shaking the small vessel and the pilot collapsed, exhausted on the floor. Her hand left a bloody trail where it slipped off the console and her face was disfigured beyond recognition by the Borg implants and congealed blood. Her hair fell out in bunches sticking to her clothing and the interior of the ship.
The Medkit, hanging on the opposite wall was out of reach. Instead, she pulled a small bundle close to her and hugged it against her breast. ‘When in doubt, look here.’ Pressing her lips together, two bright traces formed on her cheeks as her body trembled slightly.
Now she could only rely on her ship and the programming she had entered earlier. If her plan worked…if not, well there would be no one waiting for her…a strange but pleasant indifference and silence took hold of her. Maybe it was the loss of blood or the implants…her thoughts drifted. Not resisting she let her mind flow, alternating between unconsciousness and a twilight state.
“Commander, a ship is heading right for us! It’s on a collision course!”
Commander Tom Paris, Voyager’s First Officer, immediately took command, discarding the PADD he had been reading. “Red Alert! Shields up! Weapons ready!” Touching his combadge he continued, “Captain, to the bridge!”
The doors of the ready room hissed open and an almond-eyed, dark haired woman stepped onto the bridge. “On screen,” she ordered as she slipped into the Captain’s chair.
Only a small point of light was visible in the distance. “Lieutenant Kim, Ensign Lasren, do you have any readings?”
“No Captain, it is still too far away. I’ll adjust the sensors again.” Kim hurried over to Lasren, adjusting something from the OPS station. Returning to his own tactical station he reported, “We are scanning for the warp signature, maybe there is something in our database.”
Tense minutes passed as the fingers of the two men flew over the consoles. Could it be Hirogen or Vidiians? “Captain,” Kim said in amazement, “The ship…it has a Starfleet signature!”
“That’s impossible, unless it’s a ship from our own fleet?”
“No, …one moment, ma’am. It’s the DELTA FLYER!”
Eden looked disbelievingly at her OPS officer and the bridge crew exchanged surprised glances.
“Computer, locate the DELTA FLYER,” Captain Eden ordered.
“The DELTA FLYER is located in the shuttle bay,” the computer’s female voice intoned.
“Who is our visitor then? Scan for temporal anomalies.”
“None, sir!” Paris found his voice.
“One…maybe…but only very weak…The bio traces are unstable, they flow…strange…I can’t say whether they are human…I can’t get a complete scan.”
“Hail the flyer,” Paris ordered.
“No answer, sir,” replied Lasren.
“Engage the tractor beam on my command. Lock onto the flyer. Weapons continue to standby. Mr. Kim, send a security team to the shuttle bay. I don’t want to see any surprises,” Eden ordered.
“Captain, the flyer is maintaining a constant course and speed, it’s probably flying on autopilot.”
“Evasive manoeuvres! Miss Gwyn, get us as close to the flyer as you can. Mr. Kim, lock onto the ship from behind with the tractor beam.”
“That’s impossible at this speed, ma’am.”
“Can you engage the ship’s systems?”
“No, Captain, the shields and hull plating are at 100%”
“Aim for the drive!”
“We could modulate the phase variance of our phasers so that it coincides with the shield frequency. Unless it has been changed, the shield emitters would overload,” Kim suggested.
“Just do it!”
The DELTA FLYER was suddenly embedded in a cloud of sparks and dropped out of warp immediately, followed by VOYAGER.
“Good job, Lieutenant,” praised Eden and she watched Kim smiling embarrassed, but proud.
“Fire in the flyer!” Lasren exclaimed closely watching his displays. “The life sign, I’ve lost it!”
“Do you have the last coordinates yet?”
“Beam the pilot directly to sickbay.”
Ensign Lasren’s finger danced over the OPS panel, “It doesn’t work!”
“Mr. Kim, tractor the flyer into the shuttle bay.”
After a few anxious minutes, Kim reported, “The flyer is on board.”
“Lieutenant…” Eden nodded to Harry, who was already rushing toward the turbolift and headed toward the shuttle bay.
The Red Alert broke Chakotay’s concentration, ending his meditative state. He flexed his muscles instinctively readying for action, it took a lot of self control to keep from storming onto the bridge.
‘It really wouldn’t do if it would look like as if I didn’t trust Captain Eden to deal with a crisis,’ he thought. Still he wanted to join the running steps of Voyager’s crewmembers that vibrated the deck underneath him. He didn’t care much for this passive role and for the first time actually regretted his resignation from Starfleet. He wanted to be on the bridge now.
He felt VOYAGER drop out of warp. ‘Perhaps it’s only an exercise,’ he told himself in an effort to calm down, ‘There were no signs of attack. VOYAGER is not on her own this time.’ He was grateful for the small fleet that accompanied them.
‘When we met the EQUINOX, we also hoped to be strong together…’ He sighed as unpleasant memories rushed into his mind.
Chakotay rose and moved to the viewport, seeing the DELTA FLYER towed into the shuttle bay with VOYAGER’s tractor beam. The space around them was empty and quiet. It had to be an exercise.
He shrugged his shoulders in order to throw off the irritation at being disturbed during his meditation. He had so hoped that this time he would be able to contact Kathryn’s spirit, he needed to contact her just as he contacted his father regularly. Damn he needed to tell her so much…
He suddenly felt tired, worn out, so he rolled up the medicine bundles, but he put the Bonding Box on his bedside table next to a tattered photo of Kathryn and him in happier times.
He settled on the bed and then reached for the well loved photograph, staring at it, remembering. The doctor had photographed them during the first dance at B’Elanna’s and Tom’s wedding reception. Captain Janeway was a bit annoyed at his intrusion with his holocamera, because it didn’t correspond to her Captain’s parameters at all. Her first officer held her firmly in his arms…and Kathryn seemed to enjoy it very much.
Later Chakotay had asked the doctor for a copy, and got Tom to turn it into a twentieth century style photograph that he kept as his own secret.
A hint of a smile flitted across his face, ‘Typical Kathryn.’ She was principled…the smile vanished from his eyes – sometimes too principled. She even sacrificed her happiness and even her life to it. Chakotay stared blankly into space.
,Ninety-nine .... Is it true, Daddy?’ ‘What a clever golden bird you are. How did you do that?’... ..., Hi, Kath!’ ‘I hate tennis ...’ ‘I think it's fun.’ ‘ Well so long, Hobbes ... ' ... ... ‘My parents didn’t want me playing Parrises Squares.’ ... ... ‘She'll become a future cadet I hope. Admiral Finnegan, may I introduce to you my daughter, Kathryn Janeway.’ ... ...,This is the last you’ll see of your home for at least a year, Ensign.’ ... ... ‘But I’d like you to give some thought to command...’ ‘Command?’ ... ... ‘I’ve spent a very worthwhile hour with Justin, going over these plans, and I’m quite taken with him. . He is smart, sensible – and he is tough ... He’ll need that to be married to you.‘ ... ... ‘What is it Goldenbird?’ 'Oh Daddy, I just want you to be proud of me.’… … ‘The best of the best should be in command... '... ... ‘On final approach to the Tau Ceti system, sir.’ ,The solar winds are kicking up, Lieutenant.'... ... ‘But you’re sinking deeper and deeper. .. You’re going to get up, you’re going to face life.’ ... ..., Hobbes?’ ,Kath? Is that you? I don’t believe it.‘ ‘I’m so glad we found each other again, Hobbes..’ , Mark, Mark Hobbes William Johnson ...' ... ..., You’ll have to set the standard in your ships, Kathryn. It won’t do to have a captain who plays fast and loose with the rules.’… … ‘Commander Chakotay. My name is Captain Kathryn Janeway..’ … … ‘She's the captain.’ … … ‚I think we need to define some parameters about us.’ … …’Is that really an ancient legend?’ ’No. But that made it easier to say.’ … … ‘Chakotay, I'm here.’ …… ‘For two people who started off as enemies it seems we get to know each other pretty well, so I've been wondering. Just how close do we get?’ ’Let's just say there are some barriers we never cross.’ … … ‘A captaincy?’ ‘If you’ll take it.’ ‘What ship?’… ‚VOYAGER.’ … … ‚I let go you once, Kathryn. Please don’t ask me to do it again.’ …… ‘Am I... are you saying I'm... dead?’ …… ‚But... what if I want to go back?’ ’You can't.’ …… ‘Is there coffee where we're going?’ ‘Bottomless cups of it.’… … ‚Kathy, we need your help.’ ‚Q - you? My help?’ ‚. The Borg…because they assimilated you they have access to your knowledge of us, they have access to the continuum.. They will come quickly and destroy the energy cluster that are the bases of the Continuum. This could effect the stability of the whole universe!’ ‘I could give them false information if I could be assimilated once more…as a human. You could plant false information into my brain for a short time’… …’I’d rather be human than become a Q.’… …’You’ve helped us before and you’ve earned a second chance for yourself.’… …’All I need is a small vessel, a Starfleet vessel equipped with certain items would be the best choice.’… …’Aunt Kathy, I’ve a gift for you. I found this where Chakotay was waiting for you in Venice, I believe it was meant for you…Please take it as a kind memory of us. Good Luck.’
Her life moved as a mosaic through her mind. Chakotay’s face appeared in between the mist of dim memories before her. She barely moved her lips trying to speak to him, before finally quiet blackness surrounded her.
Harry Kim watched with his security team as the DELTA FLYER was pulled into VOYAGER. They stared through the viewport at two identical flyers. But the very moment it touched the deck a blinding white flash of light filled the shuttle bay, causing arms and hands to be flung over eyes. Finally as their eyes adjusted again, overcoming their momentary blindness, there stood only one DELTA FLYER.
“Report, Harry! Are you ok?” Commander Paris’ voice sounded over the comm. “We have registered a strong energy fluctuation on the hangar deck.”
“Sir, there is now only one DELTA FLYER here! There was an incredible bright flash of light and then the duplicate was gone. No damage or injuries. We are now approaching the flyer, Commander,” Kim replied.
“Understood, be careful! Paris out.”
Lieutenant Kim’s group hurried to the small ship. Their scans indicated fire and smoke still in its interior. Quickly the security people opened the hatch, and Harry swept his tricorder, scanning the cockpit through the thick smoke. Snapping it shut he beckoned the crew men with the fire retardant.
He attached a breathing mask over his mouth and nose and groped his way into the dark interior of the DELTA FLYER. In the lower cockpit his foot touched something soft. He bent down to get a better look. But quickly drew back in surprise. In the flyer lay a drone face down, he could see bloody injuries and recognized a torn Starfleet uniform. A Bat’leth lay on the deck not far from the drone’s outstretched hand.
Kim’s fingers ran nervously over the controls of his tricorder, and he frowned at the display. Tapping his combadge, he said, “Kim to sickbay!”
“Go on,” replied Dr. Sharak.
“Doctor, get ready for a medical emergency! Erect a force field around the patient for safety…that means I don’t know if it’s still necessary in his condition. Kim out.” Then he gave the order to beam the Borg directly to sickbay.
“Kim to Seven of Nine!”
“Please go immediately to sickbay, I think the doctor will need you.”
“I’m on my way,” she replied.
Kim sighed in relief and then gave his report to Paris.
The monitors correlating the patient’s full body scans drew Seven of Nine’s attention the moment she entered the sickbay. It was brightly lit with all implants and injuries clearly marked in red within the digital outline of the body.
Seven understood the significance of the read outs at once. “Doctor, activate the EMH, it has been programmed with all of the knowledge acquired by VOYAGER’s former Holographic Doctor. This human is not a complete drone and the implants haven’t reorganized her body, neither is she linked to a hive mind. You have nothing to fear from her at this point and the EMH should help you to save this human.”
She could see Dr. Shakar’s doubt as he looked up from the monitor.
“Don’t look at me like that! I was a member of the Borg collective for almost twenty years. This is inefficient, and you have to do something or this woman will die, just because she has been assimilated doesn’t mean she is lost,” she snapped angrily at the doctor. “I am guilty of losing Admiral Janeway, even though she always worked for me even as if she was working for herself.”
Dr. Shakar returned to the monitor with the woman’s readings, noting the readings for the respirator and her other unstable vital signs, “Computer, activate the EMH.”
“Please state the nature of the medical emergency!” the hologram demanded.
The Doctor motioned for the hologram to come closer and then pressing one of the controls to remove the diagnostic shell to open and slip down away from the patient.
“A human woman,” Seven murmured as she watched, but almost immediately her curiosity turned to terror as her blue eyes widened and she stepped back from the biobed. She slapped her hand across her mouth as if to suppress a scream.
“Seven,” asked Shakar and he touched her arm in concern, “Are you all right?”
“That’s…that’s …no…it can’t be,” she stammered. The usually cool and composed woman grabbed at the Doctor’s hand as if seeking his strength.
** Scene Breakas a kind memory of us. Good Luck.
s waiting for you in Venice, I believe it was meant for you...
The EMH quickly used a hypospray and Seven pulled herself together, “Just make a genome analysis and compare it to Starfleet’s database. We need to find out whether…”
Seven cautiously moved forward again, her hand stretching out to the Borg woman on the bed. She had never before needed to touch someone, but this woman was different. Seven caressed the woman’s blood crusted temple knowing it should be covered with auburn hair. An unknown sense of caring awoke in her and a protective instinct surged through her, and tears collected in her eyes.
“Do you know this woman?” Shakar asked in surprise.
“I’m not sure,” she answered, her voice trembling and almost inaudible.
At that moment the EMH turned the monitor to them to display his genetic analysis. The screen showed a woman in her forties with neatly pinned up auburn hair. “There is no doubt; this female is Admiral Kathryn Janeway, or her genetic double.”
“We will not have a final confirmation until she regains consciousness and we can compare her memories with our computer data,” interjected Shakar.
“I don’t think you need a computer, Doctor.”
“Captain Chakotay…he and the Admiral…”
“Do you mean…”
Seven lowered her eyes confirming his conjecture. “And there are Commander Paris, Lieutenant Kim and I, we will certainly be able to do more than any technical device, since we all share common memories. Commander Tuvok would be even better but he is, as far as I know, gone with TITAN to Romulus.”
“Step aside,” the EMH abruptly demanded, pushing them to the side so he could move up to the biobed. “I need to stabilize her vital functions; she is suffering injuries, attempted assimilation and severe smoke inhalation. She is in critical condition; you won’t need to study memory engrams if our patient is dead. I’m a doctor not a magician!”
Seven of Nine turned to leave the sickbay almost colliding with Captain Eden, Commander Paris, and Lieutenant Kim. Then she followed them back into the room.
“Report, Doctor,” asked Eden, as soon as the door hissed closed behind them.
The EMH glanced up from the patient, and breathed a grumbling whisper to himself as he worked on the woman.
Each one seemed to have lost their ability to speak as the came up to the bed recognizing the woman that lay there.
“The Genetic scans confirm what your eyes are seeing,” Shakar spoke. “Seven of Nine has indicated that she is not yet a member of the collective, and because of that we have a very good chance of getting her back. The implants haven’t progressed very far and have not been incorporated into her system. I have activated the EMH because he has specialized knowledge of the process to reclaim people from the Borg.”
“Commander Paris,” Captain Eden said. “I am going to leave this situation in your hands; you have more experience with Admiral Janeway than I do,” and she added with a smile, “The fleet needs my full attention at the moment.”
“Understood, and thank you Captain. I will keep you advised,” then he turned to the Doctor, “I am expecting an update hourly, and an immediate update if there are any changes in her condition. One last thing,” Tom Paris said as he turned away, “No one knows about our suspicions except the five of us, let’s keep it that way until we know something for sure. Erect a privacy screen.”
“I understand sir, you can count on me.”
“Do you think we should tell Captain Chakotay?” Seven asked as she approached the group.
Tom stopped and then moved back toward Seven his gaze turned inward in thought. He had to think of Chakotay and how his inner torment tore him apart at Janeway’s death. He remembered his last conversation with the grieving man just before VOYAGER began her return to the Delta Quadrant. He had admitted his love for Kathryn Janeway.
‘You were in love with her, weren’t you?’
‘I was ...'
Tom swallowed, “I don’t know if it would be wise, to tell him before we know something about her,” jerking his head toward the woman, “She could be a clone…and who knows what she has been doing…I don’t know how Chakotay would be able to take another blow if she isn’t Admiral Janeway.”
“I understand,” said Seven.
“But what if Admiral Janeway, or whoever she is doesn’t survive? Is it right to withhold this information? What if it is her?” interjected Kim.
Tom Paris rubbed his forehead, “Frankly, I don’t know, what is the right decision in this situation.”
Harry turned to Seven as Tom left the room. He searched her face and then gently grasped her shoulders, “Believe me Seven, I feel just like you do. Admiral Janeway was like a mother to me, especially during our long journey home. She will always be someone special…to both of us.”
Seven realized that Harry also struggled to control his feelings, “Yes, you’re right.” And then standing in silence they shared their emotion through the simple holding of two pairs of eyes.
Despite his self imposed isolation from VOYAGER’s crew, Chakotay had observed the arrival of the duplicate DELTA FLYER and he heard the speculations that flew through the ship.
He overheard a discussion between some of the security men about the appearance of the second flyer and then the disappearance of one of them in the shuttle bay.
‘Apparently that wasn’t a drill.’
He cornered Tom, Harry and Seven, asking each one for information about the flyer but each one gave him some kind of answer that told him nothing and then hurried away on some urgent task.
He knew these people and because of that he knew that they were hiding something from him. So he decided to pay a visit to the DELTA FLYER himself.
The end of the beta shift was the best time, because ordinarily the main stations were the only ones to be occupied during the gamma shift. The rest of the crew would retire to their quarters for the night.
Chakotay found a deserted shuttle bay. Everything was in place and in the middle of the bay sat the DELTA FLYER with the other shuttles lined up on either side.
On closer inspection, Chakotay could see traces of phaser fire on the hull but the special plating had withstood the damaging rays and only the traces of dark lines were left.
He ducked slightly and slipped inside the small ship. The interior betrayed a violence that the hull had concealed. There was blood on the control panel and floor, and here and there were tufts of auburn hair.
Apparently the shield generator had caught fire because one side of the flyer had been blackened with flame. Fortunately the pilot had been on the floor away from most of the damage.
A Bat’leth lay beside the pilot’s seat, and it was obvious that it was no decoration.
‘A Klingon on the DELTA FLYER?’ Chakotay shook his head in confusion. That made no sense at all, and where did all this hair come from, he thought as he picked up a clump and rubbed it between his fingers. It was the same colour as Kathryn’s and his heart ached with the thought of never seeing her hair again.
Chakotay carefully checked all the details, taking his time to be sure that he missed nothing. Unlike VOYAGER’s crew, he had all the time in the world and again gave thanks for the diversion from his usual gloomy thought.
‘Perhaps I should request a task on board?’ he thought and remembered that Seven had thrown herself into the Astrometrics department, making it her whole world. ‘I’ll talk to Tom,’ he decided.
After looking through the flyer he settled down into the co-pilot’s seat and picked the Bat’leth up off the floor. His mind worked on the questions that the appearance of the flyer raised and he absentmindedly turned the weapon back and fourth in his hands.
His eyes were caught by an ordinary package lying in the shadow of the pilot’s seat amidst the congealed blood on the floor. The package was also stained with blood and the pilot had to have had it with him. Obviously, despite his injuries, he had held it very close to his body. It had to be something very valuable to that person.
‘Something of value…for a Klingon….what could that be?’
Giving into curiosity, Chakotay kneeled down by the seat and easily fished out the package, and then he sat back in his chair placing it on his lap.
It was an unknown material that was both soft and firm and seemed to cushion the contents. Carefully, he opened the bundle and then drew back in surprise at the contents.
“No!” he whispered as fright struck through him, when the mirror caught his eye. His heart almost stopped beating, his hackles rose and he felt hot and cold at the same time for it was not just any mirror. It was the mirror!
The glass was framed by polished stones, ones that he himself had collected during their odyssey through the Delta Quadrant and on the back he had engraved for Kathryn: “When in doubt, look here.”
Kathryn had been speechless with emotion when he’d tried to give her the mirror even though she hadn’t accepted it. Everything had ended in a misunderstanding…Chakotay remembered every moment of that evening on the holodeck, when Tom had lent him his Venice simulation.
Then it had seemed that she had been ready for him…for this gift. He’d wanted to give it to her again at their reunion in Venice…It had been a year …He closed his eyes against the tears that welled up.
Again as if from a great distance he could hear Mark’s voice, hoarse with grief, and the shattering of glass.
The mirror! Chakotay’s eyes widened. It had shattered on the pavement in Venice! He’d been in such shock at learning of Kathryn’s death that it had slipped out of his hands.
Mark had tried to stoop down to retrieve it, but he had stopped him. He’d only wanted to go…to be alone…and he didn’t want anyone but Kathryn to have it.
Chakotay looked in the mirror. It was completely undamaged! Even the silver bow was around it, and how could this be? He knew this was the same mirror, it was unique. He had replicated it himself and then set the stones. How in the hell had a Klingon gotten this mirror…and spirits, why was it completely intact? ‘I need to talk to him!’
The whole thing was really mysterious. He’d heard Kim ordered the pilot to be beamed to sickbay and that he was in extremely poor condition and unconscious. He was also sure also that Dr. Shakar or a member of his staff would be caring for the patient, and that a visit to him wouldn’t be allowed. He had to wait. ‘But I am sure that Tom or Harry could answer some of my questions.’
Chakotay wrapped the mirror again and putting the bundle under his jacket he left the shuttle bay. This mirror was none of anyone’s business and he was glad that he had found it first, instead of any other crew member.
Dr. Shakar and the EMH watched over their mysterious patient with unceasing attention. They stabilized her by closing all her open wounds and then used their regenerative techniques to renew her injured tissue. The Holodoc worked all through the night, deactivating the nanoprobes in her blood stream, coupled with the surgical removal of her Borg implants.
As he continued his treatment her skin slowly changed from the characteristic Borg grey to a healthy pale pink tone. Finally he installed a regenerative hood over her head to assist the healing of brain injuries and to stimulate the regrowth of her hair.
“Doctor,” the hologram greeted Dr. Shakar as he returned from a short night’s sleep, “Her blood pressure is stable, breathing and heart functions are working without support now. I took bimolecular scans hourly and can report an apparently progressive normalization of the neurotransmitter dysbalance.” He tapped several buttons on the display to show his human counterpart the data.
“What about the unusual signature emitted around the cell structures and bio molecules?” asked Dr. Shakar.
“Completely gone. No traces.”
“It is still one hundred percent identical to Kathryn Janeway.”
“What do you suggest now?”
“I would leave the patient in an artificial coma until the head injuries have had more time to heal. By then her hair will have been regrown and maybe at that time she can receive visitors.”
“Good then, I’ll run the report for Commander Paris.”
Commander Tom Paris lounged comfortably on Chakotay’s couch. He had just finished the dinner Chakotay had prepared. ‘No wonder Janeway raved about his food, it was wonderful.’ But as good as it had been the thought of Kathryn Janeway laying in sickbay and not telling Chakotay left him on edge. He hated keeping his friend in the dark.
“Tom,” Chakotay sat down in the chair. “I don’t quite know where to begin…but I feel I must confess something.”
“What would that be,” Tom encouraged.
“Yesterday evening, I made a trip to the shuttle bay. I examined the DELTA FLYER because I was curious about what happened. I have to talk to the pilot, Tom. It’s very important.”
“That’s impossible right now, Dr. Shakar banned any visitors. First we need to determine her identity and to clarify the circumstances of her appearance here after she regains consciousness.”
“Her, does that mean the pilot was a woman?”
“Uh ... yes ..."
“A Klingon woman so ..."
“What makes you say that?”
“Tom, I found a Bat’leth in the flyer.”
Tom took a deep breath, he had almost made a slip of the tongue himself!
“I also found something else in the flyer, something that belongs to me…I mean…something that had belonged to me…I wanted to give it to Kathryn as a very special gift.”
His eyes narrowing, Tom leaned forward. “What does that mean?”
For the first time he saw the package lying on the coffee table in front of him. He watched Chakotay reach for it. As he slowly unwrapped it he told Tom the story of the mirror from the beginning…starting with Tom’s Venice simulation on VOYAGER’s holodeck, until all his hopes were destroyed in the real Venice.
When Chakotay had finished, he simply stared motionless at the floor, the mirror in his hand.
Tom didn’t know what to say. Chakotay had never talked so openly about his relationship with Kathryn. Finally he laid his hand gently on Chakotay’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Chakotay.” He searched his mind, wanting to do the right thing. “I’ll notify you immediately when you can speak to the pilot.”
“Thank you, Tom.”
‘Damn it,’ Tom thought, ‘Now things will heat up. I’m afraid that he will discover who the pilot appears to be too soon, before we know anything about her.’ Tom paused in his thoughts, ‘This increases the likelihood that she really is our former captain. Who else would attach that kind of importance to a mirror, except the woman it was intended for…and Chakotay.’
“Next time please ask me before you go off on your own. Please don’t interfere in an ongoing investigation again, Chakotay. I don’t want you to get into trouble.”
“You have my word.”
Tom stood up, preparing to say good bye. “Thank you for the dinner. Uh…Chakotay…, if you like...if you’re not too much…I mean…I’ve always enjoyed the Venice simulation with B’Elanna. I’m missing her and Miral very much. I want to visit Venice again, as a reminder of better days. Perhaps you’d like to join me on the holodeck?”
Chakotay sighed, “Thanks for the offer Tom, but I don’t know. Actually, I didn’t think I would ever want to return…to Venice. For me it’s all still too…well it’s as if it happened yesterday.”
“I understand,” Tom said softly. “Take your time, but perhaps it would also help you to handle things better.”
At first Kathryn Janeway could only hear muffled sounds as if she was surrounded by cotton wool. Her throat felt dry and hurt when she tried to swallow. Gradually the sounds cleared and became distinguishable. There were the familiar noises of a Starfleet vessel, more precisely, of a specific Starfleet ship.
‘I’m really here again!’ she thought. ‘The plan must have worked,’ she noted happily and felt the relief flow through her body. Her mouth twisted into a slight smile and her eyes fluttered as she tried to open them in vain. Her lids seemed heavy as lead.
“Doctor, Admiral Janeway appears to be waking up.” A young woman’s voice, strong and familiar.
“Seven?” Janeway whispered.
“Yes, Admiral, I am here.”
A warm hand touched hers pressing it gently.
“You are on VOYAGER, and in sickbay.”
“VOYAGER,” Janeway repeated her voice still flat from the coma but hinted tenderness as if to welcome a long missed friend. She heard footsteps and felt the strong tingling sensation of a hypospray application to her neck.
After a few seconds her eyes lids no longer felt like weights and she tried to open them again. There beside her bed were Seven of Nine and a quiet young man.
“I’m VOYAGER’s Emergency Medical Hologram,” he introduced himself. “Dr. Shakar activated me to take round–the-clock care for you. I have all the skills and experience of your former EMH in my database and was therefore the best suited to treat you,” he added not without the former EMH’s pride.
“Thank you, Doctor.” Janeway managed to say despite her hoarse voice.
Seven fetched a cup from the replicator, “You should have something to drink.” Then she helped Kathryn to sit up in bed so she could handle the cup herself.
“Coffee?” Kathryn asked hopefully.
“I’m sorry, Admiral, but the doctor ordered tea.”
Janeway made a grimacing face, but then closed her eyes breathing in the enticing herbal aroma. “Do you know how long I’ve wished for it, longed for eating and drinking?”
Seven raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“Ever since I heard you the last time…Seven…when I was on that damn cube. It was a trap. I heard your voice but it was too late. I couldn’t do anything…” Tears welled in her eyes and blinking she continued. “It was terrible…all…the Borg, Q…except for Q junior. I had almost given up hope. I wanted so badly to send you all a message.” She took some deep breaths and then looked up into Seven’s eyes and smiled. “You look well, Seven.”
“I know,” Janeway raised her hand. “I learned everything, the past, present, and future all at once. I had no sense of time. Most of the knowledge was removed by the Q when they finally let me go. They allowed me to remember only the most important knowledge that I would need for the present. I would be delighted if you would tell me everything about the Caeliar sometime. I think I’m too tired though for a long story now. Captain Eden is now in command of VOYAGER, isn’t she?”
“Of the original senior staff, only Commander Paris and Lieutenant Kim are still aboard.”
Seven caught herself just in time, before telling the Admiral that there was one other on board.
“I need to inform Commander Paris about your progress,” Seven spoke quickly to avoid questions, which she was sure would soon be asked. Although not telling Admiral Janeway the complete truth bothered her. “He is currently the acting captain in Captain Eden’s absence. She is attending to a fleet review with the other captains and an inspection of the entire fleet. So lay back,” she helped Kathryn down again and took her empty cup.
“Seven…please ask Tom…for my things from the flyer…a small package.” And sleep overcame her.
When she woke again Tom Paris was standing by her bed speaking quietly with the Doctor. ‘Commander Paris.’ She smiled to herself. She felt pride in the man that her former bad boy had grown into. She thought of all his holodeck productions, how much fun they were, and how they shortened the long trip home. How would it be on VOYAGER now?
“Admiral, glad to see you back with us! Welcome aboard!” Tom’s warm voice pulled her out of her thoughts. Impulsively, he took her hand and with a sheepish smile just as quickly let it go.
Janeway moved to reclaim his hand and holding it tightly said, “I am so pleased to be here, Tom.” Her voice was heavy with emotion, then she nodded to the doctor indicating that she wanted to talk to Tom alone.
“Seven has been told…,” Tom started.
“Later, Tom,” she lowered her voice before she continued, “B’Elanna and Miral are doing well. They will soon rendezvous with VOYAGER.”
“I was with the Q, Tom,” Kathryn said. Raising an eyebrow suggestively, she smiled her Janeway wry grin.
Tom saw the look on her face and his heart started to pound, ‘There is no doubt that this person is indeed our Kathryn Janeway.’ And with joy and relief he suddenly had to laugh out loud.
“Tom, I want to communicate with my mother and my sister as soon as possible, and of course Starfleet Headquarters and…,” She blushed slightly, “Chakotay.”
“Captain Eden has informed Starfleet Command already, in fact after Dr. Shakar made the first DNA scan and you were clearly identified by your genetic profile. Ma’am, since you are responsive, we are now able to confirm that you really are the Admiral Janeway that we know,”
Tom continued, “The doctor just told me that he would like to dismiss you to your quarters now. This time he doesn’t even have to require that you must be able to take care of yourself. He knows since you are not the Captain, you will not immediately head for the bridge, you are our guest. You should be able to speak via subspace from your quarters. I’ll have to set up a secure channel for you.”
“Thank you, Tom.”
“Doctor, with your permission, I want to beam Admiral Janeway to her quarters now,” Tom called out in the direction of the Doctor’s office.
The Doctor stepped out, “Permission granted. Admiral, if you have any problems please call me. In any case, I want to seen you again day after tomorrow.”
Then he activated the transporter and watched Tom and the Admiral shimmer out of sight.
As soon as they had materialized in Kathryn’s quarters she again asked, “My things Tom…what little I had with me? There was a small package,” she said indicating the size with hand gestures. “Your people haven’t found anything? It is…it is very important to me,” anxiety creeping into her voice.
“I’ll take care of it, ma’am,” knowing her so well he tried to calm her. “Certainly our security chief, Mr. Kim took custody of everything,” but he knew exactly where the package was and who had it.
Tom felt that the truth about the package should come from its holder. It wouldn’t be appropriate for him to tell her.
A couple of hours later Kathryn luxuriated in her bathtub, gently moving her limbs. She loved the warm caress of the water against her skin.
She had spoken to her mother and Phoebe as well as to the stunned Admirals at headquarters. But she was still depressed because she hadn’t been able to speak with Chakotay. This conversation was the most important one and despite several attempts she hadn’t been able to contact him.
Even her family didn’t know where he was. They did know he had expressed the desire to leave Earth. He had been devastated by her death and felt like there was nothing left for him.
They thought he had probably gone with Seven, to care for her, but Seven was here alone. Tom hadn’t mentioned a thing about Chakotay. They didn’t even know where his sister Sekaya was and apparently no one else did either.
Kathryn sighed. When would she see him again? She had longed for him every day, every hour of the last two years. After their one night together she needed his kisses, his tender touches…
Unconsciously her hands slid over the bath oil smoothed skin of her thighs, then her belly and her breasts. She remembered that one unforgettable night on Proxima…the conversations and exchange of dreams via subspace, and finally the promise of their meeting in Venice.
Her heart started to beat faster, but then slowed and became painfully heavy. ‘Where is he?’ she wondered. Did he still think about her as she did him? Her grave thoughts turned into tears. She cried away her sorrow and with it the tension of recent days.
Tomorrow she would begin her report to Starfleet.
Chakotay had accepted Tom’s invitation to visit his Venice simulation with mixed feelings. He actually did so to help Tom, who suffered his loss of B’Elanna and Miral, just as he had the death of Kathryn.
‘Perhaps he is right, at some point I need to get back to some kind of normal life. It can’t be any worse than this.’
Tom promised to talk about the mysterious flyer pilot, to report what they had discovered. He even thought he might bring the pilot with him if Harry Kim and the Doctor gave their approval. That at least had sounded worthwhile.
He made it to Holodeck 2 just before 1900 hours. It was closed with Commander Paris’ security code. ‘I could understand that,’ he thought.
Chakotay fumbled with his jacket, checking the mirror he had hidden in the pocket. He brought it hoping for the opportunity to speak with the mysterious Klingon woman.
At that moment Tom dashed around the corner.
“Sorry I’m late. I’ll just let you in now,” he said entering his access code into the panel. Then pushing Chakotay inside he said, “Find us a nice place overlooking the Rialto Bridge and order a dry Merlot for us. I’ll be back in five or ten minutes. You know the problems being a First Officer and also the CO when Captain Eden isn’t aboard…” His last words cut off as the door hissed shut.
Somewhat lost, Chakotay looked around. The entrance to the holodeck was disguised as a transporter station in the city centre of Venice. As he stepped out, he saw, not even a hundred yards away, the little café on the canal. ‘The café!’ The café he had arranged to meet Kathryn in a year ago. ‘Why in the hell did Tom build this café into his simulation? Or had it always been there?’
He trudged toward it, the lump in his throat causing him to breathe harder and harder as it slowed his steps.
Fortunately, a petite Italian waitress rushed to take his arm and pour warm intentioned but incomprehensible words over him as she pushed him into a chair. The table was right on the canal bank overlooking the bridge, shielded only by a few tubs of oleander.
Chakotay mechanically ordered a bottle of dry merlot and two glasses.
“Prego, signore! You are waiting …for signorina bellissima?” she chattered cheerfully gesturing in a garbled mishmash of language when she realized that he didn’t understand.
“No, I’m waiting for my friend, Tom,” he sadly shook his head.
“Ahhh…Signore Tom…si…si…,” she giggled disappearing into the interior of the café.
So he sat there alone, soft music and the splash of water filling the silence.
Very soon she placed the wine and two glasses on the table.
‘He’d better get here soon,’ Chakotay thought and then heard light footsteps behind him coming closer. He slowly pulled his eyes away from the canal with its bright gondolas and turned toward Tom. But the greeting for Tom remained stuck in his throat, as he felt an icy hand touching him. He rose without thinking, not noticing the overturned chair behind him. It wasn’t Tom. It was…
She also stopped in her tracks in surprise, lifting the left corner of her mouth that twitched as she saw him frozen in shock.
“No…Tom…You shouldn’t have done this! How dare you…,” Chakotay choked out overwhelmed by his emotions, and slapped his hands over his eyes. “Computer! End program!”
In a moment everything disappeared leaving the stark holo lattice and grey walls.
‘Why was I so foolish to trust Tom with this Venice thing!’ A wave of pain shook his body uncontrollably.
But suddenly a small hand gently caressed his neck, and it definitely was not Tom’s. He reluctantly took his hands away from his face and looked directly into a couple of sea-blue eyes that glistened with tears.
“Chakotay, I am here…,” whispered a warm, dark, familiar voice.
He lowered his hands gently on her shoulders not wanting to destroy this miracle. “Kathryn… you’re not…You’re not…You’re really…?”
She firmly pulled his head down, and stopped his question with soft lips. They tentatively touched his mouth, the warm tip of her tongue traced his lips lovingly and her blue eyes slowly closed. He echoed her gestures with the same gentleness.
Kathryn leaned in, resting herself against him, and he suddenly encircled her, pressing her fiercely to his body. He sensed the familiar tingle, like electric sparks that shot up from his knees to his groin.
“Kathryn…” he felt the warmth of her body pressed to his, then he gasped as their lips and tongues again danced with passion.
“I thought we were going to meet in Venice,” Kathryn said breathing heavily when they finally broke their kiss.
“First I had to see whether you are flesh and blood…,” Chakotay said smiling, holding her face with both hands and kissing her again.
“I think maybe I will investigate what is under this surface in more detail later…,” he said, grinning mischievously as his finger stroked seductively over her dress.
“Computer! Continue program.”
The romantic Venice evening reappeared and Chakotay offered Kathryn a chair. Now he could study her. She hadn’t changed at all in the past year; she was just the same as she appeared in their last subspace conversation.
Her auburn hair fell over her shoulders, shimmering like silk in the lantern light. She wore a simple blue dress that reflected the colour of her eyes. Kathryn sat there smiling happily at him, and he just sat there staring as if he couldn’t get enough of the sight of her. Both didn’t know what to say, caught in the magic of the perfect moment, knowing they would now be together for all eternity.
As if in a trance, Chakotay reached into his jacket and slowly pulled out the mirror.
“Oh Chakotay, I’ve searched for it everywhere! I was so scared…Q junior saved it and kept it for me.”
“You came with the duplicate DELTA FLYER?” Chakotay said as all the pieces suddenly fell into place. The red hair…why hadn’t he simply scanned it with a tricorder, he had known it reminded him of her hair. And the Bat’leth…Kathryn was a master with it. “But how…and where…where were you?”
Kathryn left her chair and came around the table to sit in his lap. She gently took the mirror from his hand and looked into it, then back into his eyes.
“Chakotay, I love you,” she gently traced his tattoo with her finger tip and then kissed him tenderly.
“I love you too, Kathryn,” he whispered sliding his fingers through her soft hair.
“I wasn’t really dead,” she said laying her head on his shoulder. “I was with the Q. My…disembodied being…My spirit…was saved by Lady Q at Q’s request.
“I was with you all the time, I accompanied you when you buried your commbadge and rank pips in the foundation of my monument. Oh Chakotay…I tried so hard to talk to you…at the same time I was also in the Continuum too, seeing VOYAGER’s relaunch into the Delta Quadrant. It was as if I were everywhere at the same time…,” her voice trailed off in thought.
“Tomorrow I will write a report for Starfleet. Would you join me, and I will tell you everything then? Let’s just be us today…just us…Chakotay, I have longed for you,” she whispered in his ear.
“As I have for you,” he whispered back and his lips sought hers.
“We have two years worth to catch up,” she mumbled between kisses.
“We will have plenty of time for a honeymoon here on VOYAGER, Kathryn.”
“Yes, when Captain Eden returns, we’ll get married! Did you really think I could let you go even one more time?”
“I’ll never leave you again.”
Sighing, she closed her eyes, as his lips caressed her neck. He effortlessly lifted her graceful body up in his strong arms without stopping his kisses. He walked to the holodeck control panel, “Computer, end program. Site to site transport for two people to my quarters.”
They rematerialized in his living area. Carefully he carried Kathryn, her arms around his neck, into his bedroom.
Kathryn touched his cheek tenderly, turning his face toward her. Her fingers anxiously stroked over his lips, and she closed her eyes and moved closer, offering him her own half open mouth.
“Spirits, Kathryn…” he murmured just before he gently placed her on the bed and then moved in to passionately kiss the mouth she offered him, “Tell me again that you’re really here…really here!”
Kathryn chuckled and then gave him a mysterious, seductive smile. “I have the feeling that I am really here…,” she replied while looking down to his hand cupping her full breast and his fingers gently teasing her nipple. She could feel the heat build, even though the soft material dress separated his hand from her skin.
Her hand slid over his arm and across his hips, targeting the bulge that tented his trousers, “…don’t you?” she softly whispered.
Chakotay eyes drifted shut and he could only manage a breathless nod.
She pulled at his trousers, sliding her hands inside when the fastenings gave way, continuing her incredible torment. She skimmed his shirt with her fingertips and then slipped inside to stroke seductively over his skin. “Chakotay…,” she pleaded into his ear as heated longings long denied fuelled a fire deep within her.
He rose to his knees, pulling her up with him and then kneeling face to face they began to undress the other. Soft touches with fingers and lips caressed the exposed flesh in exploration.
They sat close to each other, her breasts brushing against his chest spreading the heat of arousal. He gently caressed the sensitive skin of her curves. Again and again, his thumbs drew small circles over her erect nipples.
Kathryn threw her head back with a low moan and then gasped in surprise to feel something hard and throbbing thrust into the warm damp folds between her thighs, touching her most sensitive spot, sending pulses like small fireworks through her.
Chakotay took Kathryn’s mouth in a demanding kiss as his hips moved in a slow rhythm. Soon a fine sweat covered her body, and suddenly she stiffened her body shivering with spasms like small fireworks deep in side her.
“Oh Chakotay…,” she sighed arching into his passionate caresses.
He held her to him as he gently laid her down onto the bed without breaking contact. She spread her thighs making place for him and gently, yet full of passion their bodies met.
This was a valued gift, their love given freely to each other. Happily they stilled, remaining motionless for a few moments, attempting to preserve this precious memory. They tried to memorize it and hold it in their hearts.
But soon their bodies took over and found a rhythm that rose rapidly to pure ecstasy. Each breathed the other’s name trying to anchor them together as they shared a wonderful hot whirlpool of emotions. Finally energy spent, they sank back down onto his bed stunned by the vortex of sensation they had shared.
With a last effort they pulled the blanked over them just before they drifted off to sleep still entwined together.
Still half asleep, Chakotay stretched with pleasure, carefully so he wouldn’t wake Kathryn. He loved the warmth of her pressing against his back.
Slowly he turned around, blinked and found himself looking into a pair of chocolate brown eyes. Chakotay’s eyes shot open and he sat up, pulling the blanked close to his body.
“Q! What the hell…where is Kathryn?”
Q, with an amused grin crossed his arms behind his head. “Why are you so unfriendly to your best friend, Chuckles?”
“All right, Q,” Chakotay tried to remain calm, careful to keep his feelings to himself, although his heart was in his mouth and his thoughts racing. “Good morning! Please, where is Kathryn?” With each word his anger at Q’s wicked game grew.
“Oh!” Q pretended to search to Kathryn under the blanket and then the bed. “I do not know!” he replied with a insincere perplexed face.
Chakotay rolled his eyes and hissed furiously through clenched teeth, “And what do you want from me then, Q?”
“I want to congratulate you!”
“What for, a woman I might have just lost for a third time…?” He didn’t know how much longer he could maintain his composure.
Q stoically ignored Chakotay’s rage, and replied with a grin, “No. Congratulations…she is pregnant,” he answered sweetly.
“What?” Chakotay was stunned. “How…you devil…”
“You are the devil!” Q shot back pretending to he hurt, turning away.
“I’m what?” Chakotay’s hands trembled with the desire to wring Q’s neck.
Q sat up and leaned in close, almost touching Chakotay, “I don’t know what it is about you that makes Kathy like you so much. I’ll certainly never understand her. But you are the father…”
Chakotay’s jaw dropped open, “But… but… That’s just not possible!”
“I’m sorry, but our equipment for Kathy was a fully functional body,” Q shrugged his shoulders playing innocent.
“But…I…Kathryn…but it was only yesterday,” Chakotay dug deeper.
Q frowned and rolled his eyes, “What day is it?”
Chakotay pointed to his monitor that displayed the star date.
Q slapped his hand to his forehead, “Sorry, it’s my mistake. I’m two weeks early…you and your linear time, I’ll never get the hang of it. But sure, she is pregnant. You can rely on me, Chuckles!”
He raised his hands to snap his fingers, but paused, his tone softening, “…and Chuckles, keep your eye on Kathy, better than you did before. It does seem to me that between the two of you, you’re really the more rational person. I don’t know if I would be able to arrange things again for her…for you!”
Finally Q snapped his fingers and disappeared in a flash of light, leaving Chakotay to stare at the spot where he had been.
Chakotay didn’t know how long he sat there stunned but finally he was aware of a soft rattle and then a melodic hum in the adjoining room. He jumped out of bed and without bothering to dress he took the few steps to the bathroom. He tore the door open with a jerk to find Kathryn standing beside the bathtub, a towel pressed to her chest and with a shocked look on her face.
Relief spread through him, his mind freed, he slumped against the door frame.
“Chakotay?” Kathryn said looking at him anxiously, “Is everything ok?”
She moved in close and put her free hand on his chest. She could feel his rapid heartbeat. When he didn’t answer she stood on her tip toes and gently touched his lips with her own. The kiss brought him out of it, his look focused on her and not some distant memory so far away. He closed his eyes and returned her loving kiss.
“I was afraid you were gone…again.” His answer was tortured and tears welled up in his eyes.
“Oh, Chakotay,” Kathryn cupped his face with her hands and tried to move past the shock. Her towel fell carelessly to the ground. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to wake you up…”
His eyes moved slowly over her body. He could feel the heat pooling in his loins, and he gently held her shoulders, pulling her to him to kiss her with devotion. He rubbed his hands over her warm skin, caressing her firm breasts, her hips, and down to her bottom.
Kathryn gently freed herself from his hands and pushed him back toward the bedroom. He smiled sheepishly when he noticed that Kathryn was also taking in his naked form, from top to bottom.
Kathryn gave him a seductive smile and slowly laid down on his bed. She squirmed as Chakotay leaned over kissing her toes and then moved upward covering her legs with the same caresses. Soon he was kissing the inside of her thighs and by the time he got to the top she was struggling to breath. Finally soft sighs escaped her when he began to explore the soft skin of her centre with his tongue.
“Please…,” she moaned, ruffling his hair, trying to draw him closer, and arched her hips into his face.
Chakotay moved slowly over her, trailing kisses on her belly and then her breasts. “You make me crazy, Kathryn,” he whispered moving over her, burying his face in her hair now as her body took him inside.
She encircled him with her legs, moving with him in passion stoking the fire that burned within. Kathryn screamed softly as her innermost self seemed to glow and she felt his warmth spreading into her.
They stayed together not moving until their heartbeats calmed and then Chakotay rolled over and pulled her close against his side, cradling her in his arm so her head rested on his shoulder.
He pressed a lingering kiss on her forehead and then rested his hand on her shoulder playing with her beautiful auburn hair.
He noticed her eyes resting on a special object lying on his bedside table. “Your mother gave me your medicine bundle as you…,” he stretched his arm out reaching for the Bonding Box.
Her eyes followed his movements and then with a lopsided, almost melancholic smile, she took the casket out of his hand. She traced the engraved symbols thoughtfully with her fingertip, and then looked up into Chakotay’s dark brown eyes.
‘One symbol is actually missing,” he began hesitantly while encircling her with his other arm. Kathryn gave him a quizzical look. “The symbol of new life,” he murmured, studying her face.
“Do you mean…you want…really?” Her eyes widened and her lips quivered.
He bent toward her, kissed her and laid his warm hand gently on her belly.
“You are pregnant already…,” he whispered looking at her expectantly.
“Really? How…how do you know?” Kathryn questioned in disbelief.
“From Q, he was laying in my bed, instead of you when I woke up, so I thought you were off again,” Chakotay said as she put her arm over his chest and snuggled close to him. “He knew it already of course, but he accidentally picked the wrong time for congratulations. Let’s say: a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive,” he said his dimples sinking into his cheeks in a grin.
“I wonder, would the Q actually abide by the Temporal Prime Directive,” she added dryly, then laughed too.
Suddenly her laughter stopped and she took on a serious expression. She looked deeply into Chakotay’s eyes as she covered the hand resting on her belly with her own, interlacing her fingers with his. “Are you happy?”
“I’ve never been so happy, Kathryn,” and he lifted his hand to guide her chin upwards into a passionate kiss. “Will you marry me?” he asked finally breaking the kiss.
“Yes I will,” she whispered before her lips met his again.
“Paris to Admiral Janeway.”
“Go ahead, Tom.”
“Your ship is now ready to go and waiting for you in the shuttle bay!”
“Thank you, we’re on our way.”
“It’s like we are saying good bye to our home, isn’t it?” Chakotay’s arm comfortingly encircled her.
She nodded and rested her head on his shoulder, looking around the ready room one last time. Now it belonged to Captain Eden.
“Oh, it was very nice to be aboard VOYAGER again, above all without the responsibility for everyone. I'm so glad that we finally had time and peace for both of us,” she said kissing him. “I think I’m ready to return to Earth, but I am afraid that there will a media spectacle again, just like the time we returned,” her face twisted in a frown.
“How can we blame people for that,” Chakotay said. “After all, it doesn’t happen everyday, even not in the 24th century that someone returns from the dead.” He gently pushed a loose strand of hair back from her face. “And I’m glad that you couldn’t run away from me again before we could finally get married.”
Kathryn smiled dreamily, “It was such a beautiful wedding that Tom planned for us. We couldn’t have had such a beautiful place on Earth. I’m thankful that he used his holodeck program of St. Marks’s Square in Venice. Our closest friends were there, Captain Eden’s speech, the gondola ride in the moonlight…I’ll never forget it.”
Chakotay happily pulled his wife close for a kiss and then they made their way to the hangar deck.
Inside the shuttle bay, the crew of VOYAGER had gathered together to say farewell, and Kathryn and Chakotay walked through the crowd to their ship.
It was a very modern runabout equipped with slipstream drive. It had just arrived bringing materials and mail along with some experts from DS9. Using the slipstream drive it had only taken a few hours to reach VOYAGER. Kathryn and Chakotay would return it and from there return to Earth by way of Dorvan V for a visit with Chakotay’s family. They both insisted that they didn’t need a crew to fly the runabout.
In about thirty hours they would be back in the Alpha Quadrant. The new drive had reduced so much cruising time so much that the galaxy seemed much smaller.
Commander Torres, Seven of Nine and Lieutenant Kim got out of the runabout. They had checked all the ship’s systems one last time, enjoying their closeness as the experienced ones for the days of VOYAGER’s odyssey through the Delta Quadrant.
Harry drew Seven up short and furtively close to his side. She smiled back and cleaned her dirty fingers on the back of her catsuit.
B’Elanna headed for Janeway and Chakotay immediately, heartily embracing both of them, “I hope you can forgive Tom and me, we were forced to lie to you with Miral’s and my lives in danger. We had to fake our own deaths.”
All three struggled to hold back their tears. “You cannot always tell the truth, unfortunately,” Kathryn Janeway glanced at her husband, “when you’re on a classified or undercover mission to save lives. I’m just glad we are all healthy and together again, B’Elanna. Take care of yourself and Miral.”
“Certainly, I will.”
“Seven, are you sure you want to stay on board VOYAGER?” Chakotay turned anxiously to the former Borg.
“Absolutely,” she firmly replied, bowing her fair head slightly and raising an eyebrow. “I think I’ve finally found my place. I’d like to add my experience to support Captain Eden’s research…and also…,” she looked at Harry.
“I’m so glad for you, for both of you, Seven,” Janeway heartily remarked and then said their good-byes to her and Harry.
Commander Paris and Captain Eden waited at the access hatch.
“What will you do when you get home?” Tom asked.
“We’ll both be able to teach at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, Starfleet Command has assured me that Chakotay’s re-entry to Starfleet is approved… and soon I will have to look after our baby,” she replied with a happy smile while she stroked gently over her already well rounded belly.
“I’m sorry, Admiral, please tell me again when your baby is due?” inquired Afsarah Eden.
“Three months, but no need to apologize, I know that as a Captain you have plenty of things to concern yourself with,” Kathryn said laying her hand on Eden’s arm sympathetically.
“But don’t forget what you promised me at the beginning of this mission,” interjected Chakotay.
“I won’t, I will bring out people home safely!” Eden confirmed as they shook hands.
Tom hugged them both warmly, then closed the hatch, ordered all personnel to move out of the shuttle bay and once everyone was clear he gave Chakotay his permission to launch.
The runabout lifted, hovering over the hanger deck, then swung lightly around and moved toward the opening doors. It accelerated, gathering speed as it jetted out of VOYAGER. After a few seconds a small dot of light flashed briefly in the distance, then it was gone and had passed VOYAGER’s sensor range.
“Your orders, Admiral?” Chakotay turned in the pilot’s seat flashing Kathryn a dimpled grin.
“Set a course for home,” she replied in the same tone, and then stretched out comfortably in the co-pilot’s seat. She had a cup of coffee in her hand and lifted her feet to the edge of the console in front of her.
Chuckling, Chakotay activated the autopilot and then looked over at Kathryn, “Any further orders, Admiral?”
She leaned her head back, smiling seductively slowly lowered her lids but still looking at him out of the corners of her eyes. Then her deep hoarse voice whispered, “Chakotay?”
“Kiss me…,” and she felt his large warm hand lovingly laid on her baby bump just before his lips touched her mouth.