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Thank you to elem, the wonderBeta!

I never thought it would end like this.

We were good together, from the start, and spent many a conversation discussing politics, strategy and the role of the Federation. Yes, he was conflicted and occasionally unsure of his path, but we continued forward, together. Our relationship had its bumpy moments and, over time, our differences came between us.

Although we grew apart, my faith in him never wavered. Other people came into our lives and yet I always knew that he and I shared a kinship, a special bond.

Fate intervened, and his innate goodness and integrity brought him fully back to me to fight a common enemy.  Our relationship was different than it had been, though politics, strategy, and the role of the Federation were still common topics for debate.

And then I lost him.

I grieved, but with the strength of character that had allowed me to continue to fight after the other losses I’d endured in my life, I survived. I knew that wishing wouldn’t bring him back to me, so I worked harder for our common goal - pushing myself and taking risks.

I admit that there were times when I acted as if I were above the law. I had damned good reasons and I won’t apologize for doing everything I could for my people. I wish I’d been able to do more, sooner, but eventually it caught up to me.

His reappearance in my life was bittersweet. With our history, it could be nothing else. We had not yet succeeded in our common goal and the dark stain of the deaths of so many of our people weighed heavily upon us. He was fighting his own battles and I was not in a position to help him.

Several years have passed since that time. He is happy now, in a way that I don’t think I have ever seen. His journey was long and filled with many twists and turns, but the angry, contrary man that I first met is no more. His ideals are still strong and he is committed to fight for what he believes. Yet he is at peace.

Because of him, because of her, I am now free.

It is fitting, I think, that he is the first one I see as I leave the prison that has held me since I was captured after most of our comrades were slaughtered. We stare at each other, almost in disbelief at seeing each other alive, remembering our innocence and our youth, what we once were to each other. With us are the memories of the many other Maquis who have died. I still feel the strength of our bond.

She watches us with an intensity that is powerful, yet not possessive. She understands this man and is not afraid of his angry past. He has learned to live with Starfleet’s betrayal and does not hold her responsible. They have had time to deal with their differences and have somehow forged ahead, together, against the odds.

In time, he will tell me their story: how Janeway was his enemy, how he destroyed his ship to save hers and joined her crew - her Starfleet crew - to beat unbelievable odds in returning to the Alpha Quadrant, alive. He will tell me of their battles of wills, of their disagreements and of their loss of faith in each other.

In so doing, he will tell me of their journey together, their instant awareness and attraction to each other. He will try to explain his sudden loyalty to the small-but-powerful woman standing silently beside him and I will hear the peace and love in his words, and know that his long and bumpy road has finally led him home, to her.

I remember the angry young man who defied Starfleet regulations, argued with his father, fought against the influence of his heritage, and then took on the Cardassians out of revenge and hatred. I don’t see him in the tattooed man who stands before me, his arm protectively around his former captain. I realize that he has found contentment and I am overcome with emotion.

I never thought it would end like this, for any of us. But I am thankful that it did. Especially for him.

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