The Wisdom of Her Years
“So Captain. Nothing I’ve told you has impressed you enough to convince you to change your mind?” The Admiral paced the ready room, trying to control her anger. “It’s a good plan, Kathryn. It can work.”
“It’s a suicide mission and I can’t let you do it.” The Captain sat calmly behind her desk.
“Of course it is.” Losing her battle with her anger, she slammed her cup on the Captain’s desk. “Don’t you understand I never expected to come back from this mission? Not for one second in all the years I planned this, did I expect ‘Admiral Janeway’ to return from it.”
“I understand that we can not pass up the opportunity to deal the Borg this devastating blow, but I will not permit you to sacrifice yourself in the process.”
"When you come to your senses, you will."
"I don't think you understand me as well as you thought."
“Oh, I understand you, Kathryn -- I am you! Do you understand that it will take another 16 years to get home? Can you begin to comprehend what that will do to this crew?”
“You saw for yourself the senior staff’s reaction. They support me on this.”
“Do they? Do they understand what they are supporting? Seven will die, Tuvok will lose his mind, twenty-two more crewmen will be lost in those years.” She leaned over the desk putting their faces only inches apart. “Do they know that once again you are sacrificing your happiness for them?” She was hissing the words directly into Kathryn’s face. “Do they know you will lose the man you love to that Borg? That you will lose your best friend when that Borg dies in his arms? Do they Know— do you know- that he is doomed to be an empty shell, barely able to even function as your first officer, not even passable as a friend and never your lover?”
“Stop it.” The Captain stared back, rising without moving away, her voice a bit more forceful. “When did I get so disgustingly vengeful? When did I start referring to Seven as 'that Borg'?"
"The day she married him!" The Admiral practically spat it out.
"You have already contaminated the time line; none of that has to happen.”
“You can’t stop Tuvok from losing his mind and..” She straightened up and stepped back. “you won’t stop HER from stealing him.”
“If Chakotay is happy with Seven…” Kathryn turned away, but the Admiral quickly moved in front of her.
“Bullshit! He doesn’t love her. You know that just as clearly as I do.”
“I know no such thing.” The Captain straightened her shoulders and glared at the Admiral. “Admiral, I have made my decision and it is final.”
“Really? I’m not so sure.”
“Admiral, let me remind you, this is still my ship. If you try to interfere in the running of it, I will have you confined to quarters.” Kathryn stood toe to toe with herself; could a person strong-arm herself? “Have I made my self clear?”
“Perfectly.” The Admiral stood staring at her younger self, then smiled and walked to the replicator. “Computer two coffees, black.” She walked back, handed Kathryn a cup and took the seat in front of the desk.
“I thought you gave it up?” Kathryn cautiously took her own seat. She knew herself too well and even in twenty-six years she couldn’t have changed that much.
“I did but I’ve decided to revive some of my old habits; this ..” She raised her cup to Kathryn. “this being the first.”
“As long as one of them isn’t captaining my ship, we should be fine.” Kathryn eyed the woman across from her; the calm was a deception, that much she was sure of. “What do you plan to do with your time on Voyager?”
“Don’t worry, Kathryn, I have no intention of letting this ship take over my life again.” She sipped her coffee. “I’ll will have to tweak the replicator though; I’ve learned how to coax it into a really good cup of coffee over the years.”
“Sounds like a good start. I‘d appreciate decent coffee. Any other projects come to mind?” Kathryn sat back. She recognized the look in the Admiral’s eyes; something was formulating in that brain and she was sure she wouldn’t like it.
“Since you won’t listen to reason, even for your own good, and I seem to be stuck on this ship for the next sixteen years; I think I would be extremely foolish to pass up such a wonderful opportunity to correct some of the errors I’ve made in my personal life.”
“Personal life?” Kathryn couldn’t help but laugh. “On this ship you never had a personal life.”
“True, but that’s the first thing I plan on correcting.” The Admiral placed her cup in the recycler. “If you don’t need me any longer, Captain, I believe I should get started on my new life..” She laughed. “After all we’re not getting any younger.” The Admiral exited the ready room leaving the Captain to ponder what came next.
“Chakotay, thank you for coming.” Admiral Janeway, stepped back allowing Chakotay to enter the VIP quarters.
“Thank you for asking me, Admiral.” He moved past her into the living area. “I’ve been hoping for a chance to spend some time with you.”
“First, Chakotay, please call me Kathryn.” She sat in the chair, allowing him the couch. “ Or would that be to awkward for you, calling me by her name?”
“It’s a little strange, but it is your name, too.”
“Good.” She leaned in and poured him a glass of wine. “How ever I may have changed over the years, and I like to think I have grown wiser, I am still Kathryn. Oh, a good deal older and worse for wear, but inside I am still me.”
“A few years older; aged like fine wine." He paused and looked her over for emphasis. "You are still a beautiful woman, Kathryn.” His smile revealed the dimples as he raised his glass to her.
“And you..” She laughed “you are as charming as ever.” She held his eyes, allowing all the feeling so long hidden to show through, before she abruptly change course. “One thing I have never managed to improve over the years is my cooking skills; however the replicator is still programmed with your favorite meals, so dinner will be ready shortly.”
“I’ll have to cook for you some night soon, then.”
“I’d like that, I’ve missed your cooking.” She smiled warmly. “I’ve missed you.” She got up to check on dinner. “Ready. Will you bring the wine?”
Dinner was enjoyable, the food good, the conversation warm and sincere; they were comfortable and relaxed. This was the Kathryn he remembered so well, the Kathryn he fell in love with all those years ago. They talked of trivial things, ship’s gossip, old acquaintances and some not so trivial, temporal prime directives, the ship, the future and the past. That was the strangest part, talking of shared memories, memories the Captain had long avoided. Kathryn was eager to relive so much of the past, she teased him unmercifully about the different woman he had encountered and graciously accepted the same from him. They moved to the couch for tea, continuing to talk about the good times as well as the bad, reflecting and laughing for many hours. From Joe Carey's broken nose, to Seska, Kashyk and even their time on New Earth; no subject was taboo, nothing so painful or so private that they couldn't share it.
"The monkey.” She laughed. “I actually think you were jealous of the damned monkey.”
“Kathryn, please I..” He looked up and caught the merriment in her eyes; when had the Captain last laughed like this? “OK, so I was jealous of the monkey, so what? You were more interested in him!” His eyes sparkled with laughter.
“Oh, Chakotay.” She placed her hand on his arm. “It is so good to laugh with you again. Another cup?”
“The Captain will kill me if I’m late for alpha shift.” The flash of disappointment that crossed her face caused him to hesitate. “OK, one more cup, then I have to go.”
“It’s not that late,” She freshened their cups. “but I won’t twist your arm.”
“You’ve never had to before.” He accepted the cup. “But I really do have to go after this.” He watched her force the smile to stay in place and knew she was trying to hold back her disappointment from him. “Tomorrow night, I’ll cook for you. If you’re free that is.”
“Sounds wonderful, I’ll look forward to it.” She placed her cup on the table. “Now, I guess I really must let you go. Besides I have to fix the Captain’s replicator tomorrow, I’ll need my sleep.” She stood up fighting back a groan. “Not as young as I used to be.”
“None of us are, Kathryn.” He laughed at the face she made.
“You are.” She laughed. “Well, to me anyway.” She walked him toward the door. “Good night, Chakotay. Thank you for this lovely evening.” She stretched up and lightly kissed his cheek.
He saw her crooked smile, the warmth in her eyes, as she reached up to kiss his cheek. He knew it was a friendly gesture but he couldn’t resist turning so that his lips met hers. Soft, warm moist lips, yielding as he pressed his to them, moving without resistance against him. He pulled her closer, holding her body tightly to him, a fuller body then he envisioned, but still strong and still very inviting. Her one hand still held the side of his face the other snaked into his hair, holding him to her. His lips parted and hers went with them, her tongue reaching out to taste him. His mind whirled, he was holding Kathryn, kissing Kathryn, and she was kissing him. It didn’t matter that she was an older Kathryn, she was sill the woman he loved and always would be. Reluctantly he broke the kiss.
“I better go.” He stepped back from her; she dropped her head. “Kathryn?” He lifted her chin, forcing her to look at him; she smiled. “Should I apologize for that?”
“Then I’ll just say good night and see you tomorrow.” He kissed the top of her head. “Still on for dinner?”
“Yes, good night, Chakotay.” She touched the side of his face; he kissed her fingertips and stepped back to trigger the door.
“Good night, Kathryn.”
“Chakotay.” Her voice caused him to turn back just before the door closed. “I wasn’t you know. I wasn’t more interested in the monkey.”
He smiled and allowed the door to close between them.
"Commander, you look pleased this morning." The Captain briskly approached her first officer just inside engineering. "I take it things are progressing here."
"Good morning, Captain." He watched her walking toward him, so similar yet, not. "B'Elanna has just advised me that we will be ready to return to the nebula by late tomorrow."
"That's good news, the sooner we destroy that hub the happier I'll be." She noticed he was staring at her, a definite trace of the old hunger lingering in his eyes. She knew about Seven, but of course he wasn't aware of that, still.. "Is something wrong, Chakotay?"
"No, nothing. It's..." He smiled, shaking his head. "I think two of you is too much for me."
"Ahh, well I hope
not. If this goes as planned, she will be with us for a long time."
She saw something flicker in his eyes, the glow of a faint blush covered
his cheeks. Had the Admiral been serious? Had she already begun to
'correct her mistakes'? Maybe he was thinking of Seven, two Janeways might
intimidate even a Borg. Lord, Kathryn when did you start calling
that? She knew the answer, the admiral had told her 'the day she married him'.
"Captain?" He had been speaking to her but obviously her mind was elsewhere. "Captain, are you all right?" He touched her shoulder to gain her attention.
"Yes, of course, Chakotay. I'm sorry, my mind wandered. I guess I'm little tired." She was blushing now, having been caught. "You know how much I despise these temporal shifts."
"Maybe you will let me buy you a cup of coffee, that usually makes you feel better."
"Oh my, I really must be tired." She laughed. "I thought I just heard my first officer, the very same one who detests my coffee habit, offer to buy me some."
"We need to go over these specs and like it or not you are at your best on coffee." He laughed and offered her an arm which she took allowing him to escort her to the bridge.
They entered the ready room to find the Admiral sitting on the floor surrounded by what looked suspiciously like what used to be the Captain’s replicator
“Admiral, I wasn’t aware you were now on the engineering staff.” Chakotay chuckled.
“Just what are we doing here?” The Captain took a deep breath as she stepped around the scattered parts.
“This half of the ‘we’ is trying to have an intelligent exchange with your extremely stubborn replicator.” She looked up at Chakotay and raised an eyebrow. “And I will have you know young man that my engineering skills have only improved over the years. Why I may be a better engineer that even B’Elanna these days.” She reached up and he took her hands lifting her to her feet.
“Understood, Admiral.” He tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. Their eyes met and held just a moment too long; they both smiled.
“Excuse me.” Kathryn didn’t care for what she saw, but she tired to make light of it. “I thought the idea here, for both your missions, was to provide me with coffee. I don’t see any coffee.”
“Chakotay, be a dear and chase down some coffee.” She motioned toward the Captain but never took her eyes from his. “You know how she is without coffee.”
“My pleasure, Admiral.” He teased, taking a short bow.
“That is another subject entirely. Right now she needs coffee and I wouldn’t mind a cup myself.”
Both sets of eyes followed Chakotay as he exited the ready room. Then the Captain snapped her attention back to her counterpart.
“What exactly was that?”
“What? You wanted coffee didn’t you?” Admiral Janeway took a seat on the couch and propped her feet on the coffee table. “Besides I could use a break.”
“First of all, Chakotay is my first officer, not your water boy.”
“Relax, it’s only a cup of coffee and he is happy to do it.”
“Secondly, he wouldn’t have to fetch coffee, if my replicator were still intact. Who the hell gave you permission to do this?” The Captain’s voice was getting louder.
“Yes, you said you would like better coffee—only yesterday.”
“Look Admiral this is my ship and…”
“And thirdly?" The Admiral’s calm voice interrupted her "Tell me, Captain, can a person be jealous of herself?”
“What?! Why would you ask such a thing?” She was growing angrier by the minute and she suddenly realized the Admiral had scored a direct hit. “That is ridiculous. Besides why would I be jealous of you?” That was stupid she thought; why don’t you hand the woman a phaser.
“Why? Because, I’ve learned a few things over the years. Ahh yes, the hard way to be sure, but we never learned life lessons easily did we Kathryn?” She smiled knowing her calm facade was eating at the Captain. “Most importantly I’ve learned if I want something I need to go after it, in my personal life, as I’ve always done professionally and there is no better time than now.”
“You wouldn’t… why you’re ..” The two women stared at each other, until the Admiral laughed, further infuriating the Captain.
“Too old, Kathryn? Is that what you were going to say?” The younger woman didn’t answer. “Funny thing about that, I’m suddenly feeling half my age. Don't look at me with those smug eyes of your relative youth and think that I won't or maybe you think I can't do this. You still don’t get it do you? Chakotay loves me, us, so completely, so unconditionally that the small matter of my current age makes no difference to him at all.”
“I can’t believe you are doing this..”
“Believe it, Kathryn..” She was interrupted, by the opening of the door. “Oh, coffee is here. Thank you, Chakotay.” Chakotay put the tray he carried on the table in front of the Admiral. “Come Captain, join us.” She smiled as she watched the Captain’s mask slip into place.
“Yes, thank you, Chakotay.” She took a seat in the chair across from them. “You didn’t have to bring us coffee, but I’m glad you did.”
“I have to disagree with that, Captain.” He laughed as he looked from one to the other. “I might survive one Kathryn Janeway without coffee, but with two—I don’t stand a chance.”
Everyone had to agree on that point and with that the tension eased somewhat allowing then to enjoy their coffee.
“Seven to Chakotay.” Her voice boomed through the ready room.
“Yes, Seven?” Chakotay looked at neither of his companions but they gave each other a knowing glance.
“We were to meet at 1100 hours in the mess hall. Have you been detained?”
“Yes, Seven, I’m sorry.” He tried hard not to react to the chuckle on his right side and the glare he received from across the table. “I have some business to handle with the, Captain. Can we do this in say, an hour?” He looked to the Captain for conformation and she nodded.
“In one hour then. Seven out.” Her tone was even more clipped than normal.
“Well. I’ll let you two get your work finished.” The Admiral stood. “ So that the Commander can keep his —er—appointment. Captain, I’ll fix this later.” She gestured toward the pile on the floor.
“Or I could just have B’Elanna send someone up.”
“Then you won’t
have better coffee.” She smiled and walked toward the door; turning
back to speak just before the door opened. “Captain, I’ll see you
later. Commander, I’ll see you tonight.”
Chakotay cringed inwardly shifting in his seat. He couldn't help but return the Admiral's smile but he knew the Captain was glaring at him. He nodded his agreement, only relaxing when the door closed behind her.
“Well, looks like I’d better get your input on these specs while you can spare me the time.” Kathryn rather enjoyed his discomfort, but she had no idea how to handle the two women vying for his attention. She couldn’t believe she was even thinking this way.
Chakotay watched her out of the corner of his eye; she was lost in thought. How he would love to know how she saw this. He had a few things to consider himself. Seven, well she was clearly a mistake; he knew that now- a sad lonely, desperate mistake. He had to find a way to deal with letting her go, without hurting her. The Captain and the Admiral—Kathryn, they were both Kathryn and he loved her, them – whatever. They were the same, yet different but he couldn’t separate them in his heart. He briefly wondered if he could separate them in his bed. How could he live with both of them for the next sixteen years? How could he choose between them? No wonder Kathryn hated this temporal stuff. The Captain cleared her throat; he looked up to find her smiling at him.
"Shall we, Commander?"
"Sure." There was part of his answer; this was clearly the Captain. He retrieved the padd and began to scan it.
Chakotay arrived in the mess hall a few minutes early. Seven wasn't there yet but he immediately spotted the Admiral 'holding court' at a long table under the view port. B'Elanna was confirming some last minute djustments to Voyager's new armored plating with the Admiral while Mortimer Harren waited less than patiently for her to return her attention to him. She spotted Chakotay and waved him over. He stood near by while she finished with B'Elanna and sent Harren on a mission, probably for more coffee.
"Keeping your self busy, Admiral?"
"Mortimer is trying to wheedle the future results of his research out of me." She rolled her eyes, so typical a Kathryn gesture. "And B'Elanna is just testing me, I fear."
"She isn't the most trusting when it comes to changes in her ship."
"Don't I know it!" She glanced around the room eventually locking eyes with the young woman watching them from the doorway. "I believe your-- appointment is waiting." She nodded her head in the direction of the door. "Go, enjoy your lunch."
"You enjoy your friend Harren. Did you send him for coffee too?" He was a little reluctant to leave.
"Of course." Her laughter drew more than a few looks, temporal confusion aside this was their captain or at least she was the woman who used to be their captain and they were unaccustomed to hearing such a hearty laugh.
"Chakotay, do you have to call me that?"
"I'm sorry, Kathryn, it just gets..." He shrugged, giving here a quick flash of those irresistible dimples. "confusing, I guess."
"Yes, I suppose it does." She shook her head at him.
"You never used to mind your title; in fact she prefers it."
"I'll tell you a secret, Chakotay." She leaned over the table to whisper. "I don't really prefer it and neither does she, we only use it as a shield. Something Kathryn can hide behind." She could feel Seven's eyes burning into her without looking up. "Now, go before that girl assimilates me or worse."
"All right, eighteen hundred hours, my quarters?"
"I'll be there." As she watched Chakotay walk away, passing Harren and her coffee, she had to wonder where he had been lurking all this while. "Mortimer, my coffee will be cold, or do you have a theory about that also?"
The Admiral chatted easily with Harren and what-ever other crewmembers drifted in her direction. Seven couldn't keep her eyes from drifting in that direction, she had seen Chakotay do it, too.
"The crew seems to find her fascinating also." Stressing the last work; her expression so piercing, he blushed under her glare.
"She is from the future, it makes everyone curious."
"She is merely an older version of the Captain." Her raised eyebrow challenged him. "I don't see the interest."
"Seven, aren't you curious about your future, about what happens when we get back to Earth?"
"I am curious about the look in your eyes when you look at her." It was just a statement in Seven's flat unemotional voice, but her eyes betrayed her. "When we were planetside, local men looked at me that way, Tom called it 'hungry'."
"Seven, I don't think..." He did not want to have this discussion, certainly not here in the middle of the mess hall.
"No, it has to be different." She wasn't angry, she was merely trying to honestly understand. "The doctor said, those men were merely attracted to my body. They wanted to copulate with me. It seems to be a common failing in humanoid males." She glanced toward the Admiral. "Is that it? Do you wish to copulate with her?"
"Seven, I can't discuss the Admiral with you." He wondered sometimes about the accuracy of her child like curiosity.
“It is unclear to me, she does not fit the criteria as the doctor explained it. She is thick around the waist, her hair is gray and her skin no longer has the smoothness of youth. So why do so many find her interesting? Why do you find her attractive?"
"Seven, her age isn't important. She is still a beautiful, intelligent woman. She..."
"You find her beautiful?"
"Yes, Seven, but.."
"I am told by that human standards, I am beautiful; you have even told me this, and yet you don't look at me that way."
"There is more to a person than what they look like." He nodded in the Admiral’s direction, hoping to turn this discussion in another direction. "Take Harren, he is very interested in the Admiral. I doubt very much that he even notices what she looks like."
"True, but he is interested in information she possesses."
"Yes, but he is enjoying trying to get the information. Look at them. They are both enjoying that conversation. It's not only the results that are important, often the process is much more interesting."
"Do you find the time you spend with me interesting?"
"Yes, you are an intriguing woman."
"But you do not feel that hunger for me." She wasn't questioning or accusing just qualifying her information. "I find you interesting also. Our conversations are enjoyable and informative, but I feel no need to have more from you."
"Seven, people talk about love at first sight, but it never happens that way. Oh people can be attracted to one another immediately, but love is much deeper than a physical attraction. It takes time to form a relationship."
"Yet you seem to have one with the Admiral. Is that because she was the Captain?"
"It's because she is Kathryn." He leaned in closer not wanting to share this with the entire crew. "I know Kathryn well and she knows me; she is my best friend, my confidant, the one woman I want to spend my life with. I love Kathryn."
"Why then have you waited until now? Why the Admiral?"
"As the Admiral, Kathryn is free of the restrictions that prevent the Captain from sharing my life."
"I'm not sure I understand."
"I'm only beginning to myself, Seven."
"Admiral Janeway, report to the ready room." The Captain’s voice boomed across an open channel; it was clearly not a request.
“Janeway to Janeway.” The Admiral tapped her comm. badge
“Did I not make myself clear, Admiral?”
“Oh you made yourself clear, Captain and I do realize this is your ship, but I an not accustomed to taking orders, especially from persons I out rank. When I’m finished with Mr Harren, I will see you in the ready room. Janeway out.” She cut the link and laughed. “Mr. Harren, I‘d better go. The Captain’s sense of humor is a bit strained these days.”
“Yes, Ma’am, I can see how that might happen.” He laughed with her. “Thank you, Admiral. I enjoyed our talk.”
“We’ll have to do this again, if I stay around. Right now, while I may out rank her, this is still her ship and if I don’t want to be out the nearest air lock I had better learn to compromise.” She stood and straightened her uniform. “I enjoyed this, too.”
“The Captain did not sound pleased.” Seven looked to Chakotay for confirmation.
“The Admiral took apart the ready room replicator several hours ago; she has yet to put it back together. ‘Not pleased’ as you say is probably putting it mildly.” He laughed. “I had better be going too.”
“If you are returning to the bridge,” Seven stood with him. “I suggest you bring coffee.”
“I think I’ll just avoid it altogether. Maybe I’ll check on engineering.”
"It is not only the programming, you know." The Admiral sat on the floor tinkering with various parts of the replicator. "A few gentle adjustments to the mechanical components goes a long way with one of these." She glanced up at the Captain who pretended to be studying some thing on her computer screen. "I know you're listening."
"Just wanted you to know."
"You should have had that thing together a long time ago."
"Yes, and you could have done it yourself long before you paged me."
"What's on your mind?" The Admiral banged two pieces together on the floor.
"Nice, that's your idea of gentle persuasion?"
"Some times you have to punch your way through." She added a few more pieces. "So?"
"What did you want to talk to me about?"
"Who said I did? I want a cup of coffee."
"OK." She picked up the remaining pieces and began fitting them back into the bulkhead. "There. Computer two coffees black." She placed both cups on the Captain's desk and took the seat across from her. "Now, what's on your mind?"
The Captain lifted the cup, first taking in the aroma then tasting. "Ummm nice, OK so you can make a better cup of coffee." She leaned back in her chair. "Together maybe we can find a way to have our cake and eat it too."
"I have an idea, but you won't like it."
Chakotay successfully avoided the bridge for the remainder of the afternoon, although he was well informed. He knew for instance, that the Admiral and the Captain remained in the ready room the entire afternoon. He could only imagine what that meant. He shuddered at the thought, two Kathryn Janeways locked in a room for five hours. Lord he only hoped one of them had survived to share this dinner with him.
"Come." He called for the computer to open the door; it was exactly eighteen hundred hours. "Right on time. I see you survived your time with the Captain."
"Oh, she isn't so hard to deal with, when you know her as well as I do." She made herself comfortable on his couch. "Dinner smells wonderful; I really missed your cooking."
"It will be ready soon." He handed her a glass of wine and sat beside her. "Have fun with Mr. Harren?"
"Ahh he isn't such a bad sort, a bit stuffy, but kind of fun really." She sipped her wine. "Yes, I enjoyed talking with him. Where were you hiding all afternoon?"
"As far away from the bridge as possible."
"Chakotay, I never took you for a coward."
"As a very wise woman once told me, there is a big difference between courage and stupidity."
"Nothing to be afraid of; we didn't rake you over the coals too badly."
"Oh you talked about me?"
"Of course. When women get together, whatever the reason, invariably they talk about the men in their lives, in this case it happens to be not only the same man, but oddly enough the same woman."
"Maybe I'm better off not knowing." He got up, extending his hand to her. "Dinner should be ready, join me?"
"I'll just bring this." She grabbed the wine bottle.
"You're awfully fond of wine these days."
"Oh, I always was!" She put her free arm around his waist. "In those days, I just had a very bad habit of denying myself the things I loved."
"And now, I intend to enjoy all those long denied pleasures." She allowed him to seat her, poured them another wine, and deeply inhaled the delicious fragrance of the dish he set before her. "Your quarters are just brimming with life's little pleasures. How did I ever manage to stay away?" She laughed
"You're here now." He loved the way her eyes sparkled when she laughed.
"Yes, I certainly am." She held his eyes for a moment, then dipped her head to taste her food. "Delicious, Chakotay."
"Thank you." He smiled as he watched her devour her meal.
"I've just never seen you eat like this -- so heartily." He laughed when she waved her fork at him. "When did you stop living on coffee?"
"Years ago, about the time of my promotion. Starfleet likes its captains lean. Admirals on the other are given a 'wider' berth." She rolled her eyes, shoving another fork full into her mouth.
"I'm glad. I like you this way."
"You are not fat, besides I meant open, free to tell it exactly the way you see it."
"Oh, you mean Old."
"Yes, actually I am, but it doesn't matter. I haven't felt this young in many years." She finally put down the fork and he refilled her wine glass. "So tell me about Seven."
"What about her?"
"Chakotay, I'm from the future. I know you have been dating her. How was your lunch?"
"I think it was our last 'date'." They moved back to finish the wine comfortably on the couch.
"How does she feel about that?"
"She's -- she's -Seven. It's logical. She says I'm not 'hungry' for her."
"And are you? Have you made love to her?"
"Kathryn, you are as blunt as she is. She asked similar questions about you."
"And what did you say?"
"I said it was none of her business, what we decide to do is between us."
"Is that what you’re going tell me- it’s none of my business?"
"Kathryn, Seven is a desirable woman, but in many ways she is still a child. She was more than eager to learn anything I was inclined to teach her, but I would never take advantage of her that way."
"And me, Chakotay, would you take advantage of me that way?"
"I think maybe you might be the one to take advantage of me."
"Just so the results are the same." She laughed with him, resting her head against the back of the couch.
Chakotay watched her; head back, eyes closed the slightly crooked smile on her lips, giving away the thoughts passing through her mind. She still held the wineglass resting it against her stomach, he watched the slow, even rise and fall of her chest and wondered if she had fallen asleep. Her head turned and she smiled at him, smokey blue eyes boring into his; she reached out and traced his tattoo with one finger.
"It's so good just to be here, to be able to touch you." Tilting her head to see him, she sat up and set the glass on the table, giving a short puff of a laugh. "Come here." She reached up, placing her hands on either side of his head to bring him closer. She kissed his forehead, sighing as her tongue snaking out to trace the soft blue lines of his tribal marking. "You have no idea how long I have wanted to do that."
He could feel the words caress his cheek as her mouth moved to capture his, soft lips parting eagerly, tongues dueling. She leaned back bringing him with her, her fingers twisted into his hair one hand sliding down to caress shoulders and back, her tongue zealously investigating the depths of his mouth. He turned trying to improve his awkward position, but the hand he was leaning on slipped and he fell across her. She laughed as he tried to right himself; he laughed at the welcome sound of her laughter.
“That was smooth.” He smiled up at her from his prone position.
"These Starfleet issue couches never were designed for any practical use." She helped him back to a sitting position. “Relax, Chakotay, we are meant to enjoy this.
"I have no doubt about enjoying this." He held her gaze, an almost palatable steam rising between them, then stood and offered her his hand. “Maybe we should find a more suitable location.”
Kathryn took his hand, rising to stand very near him, not breaking eye contact until he bent to kiss her. Her eyes drifted to the full moist lips slowly descending to hers, so warm, so inviting, they were breathing the same air, her heart hammering in anticipation, she licked her lips stretching up to meet him. His tongue probed her mouth and she countered it with her own, hungrily devouring his kisses, fingers frantically worked the fasteners on his shirt pulling it open, exposing his smooth golden chest to her insistent hands, her gentle exploration growing in intensity with their kiss. Her blouse gave way easily; his hands moving lightly to caress soft flesh, releasing the front clasp on her bra allowing him to roll a taut nipple between thumb and forefinger. She moaned into his mouth, then eased out of the kiss, pressing gentle open-mouthed kisses on his lips, jaw, neck.
“I love you.” Came in a rush of warm air across his ear, followed by her inquisitive tongue, lips sucking teeth nibbling the lobe. Kathryn’s lips returned to capture his mouth, hard and demanding, sucking his tongue into her mouth. Pushing the shirt from his shoulders, she placed a trail of moist open kisses down his neck, across his chest to suckle a very erect nipple. Her fingers worked the fastener on his pants causing his heart to race and his mind to whirl. As she licked and sucked her way down his stomach, he buried his hands in her hair panting as he anticipated the feel of her hot mouth on his swollen manhood. Slowly sinking to her knees, she dragged his trousers down as she went. Her breath blew across him and he couldn’t hold back a deep moan as she buried her face in the coarse hairs, breathing in the musky scent of him. Her tongue stretched out to lick him, fondling him, as gentle, demanding fingers reached between to cradle him, she came back to take him fully into her mouth eliciting a deep groan. He thrust gently against the lips, tongue and teeth that all worked in unison, inflicting exquisite torture, driving him gasping to the brink, before he stopped her.
"Kathryn.." He lifted her back to her feet, holding her close, breathing deeply, while he fought to regain control.
Kathryn moved back and helped him step out of the trousers puddled around his ankles, then stepped back to look at him. Chakotay, the bronze god she had always imagined in her head, so beautiful. Golden skin tightly drawn over the light ripple of muscle, his silken shaft standing proudly and god he was large. Her breath caught at the thought of finally holding him inside her. When she realized he was watching her, a moment of self-consciousness threatened her; she raised her gaze to meet his. Kathryn’s eyes were met with a burning desire, a love that made her feel beautiful in spite of herself.
"Kathryn," Lowering his lips to hers, he murmured into her mouth, "god, what you do to me." He moved closer sliding the blouse off her shoulders, kissing her gently, slowly, his tongue tracing her lips before slipping past to tangle with hers. Their hands moving lightly to caress already sweaty flesh. Chakotay bent his lips to her breast, kissing the soft ivory mounds,drawing the tightly knotted nipple into his mouth, grazing it with his teeth, before releasing it. "I love you." He breathed into her hair as he lifted her, carrying her to his bed. Gently he laid her head on the pillow and sat back to look at her, as she had done with him earlier. The return of her discomfort was evident but he wouldn't let her give in to it, his gentle hold keeping her from turning away. “Don’t hide from me, Kathryn.” He ran his hands down her sides with light feathery touches, hovering over her, watching her face as his hands trailed firmly up her stomach, cupping both breasts. Softly moaning she arched, pushing her hardened nipples into his hand, an offering his mouth could not ignore; he bent to suckle her breast drawing the dusky dimpled hardness into his mouth. Her hands reached out, caressing, fondling everything within reach, while his wandered lower across soft skin coming to rest at the junction of her legs, cupping around her as she pushed against his palm spreading her thighs wide.
Need welling up in-side, Kathryn’s hands left the tangle of his hair, gliding across muscled shoulders, reaching to push off the leggings she wore. Kissing her belly his hands joined hers, slowly peeling the material away from her body.
“Impatient, Kathryn?” His hot breath caused her to groan and his chuckled vibrated across her stomach.
“You have waited a long time, but.” Panting with anticipation, she raised her hips to allow him to remove the offending garment. “I have waited over 30 years. Don’t make me wait any longer.”
In answer he spread her legs wide, watching as his darker fingers stroked the creamy white, still muscled, surface of her inner thighs. The scent of her increasing arousal making him painfully hard as he moved in to taste the juices glistening on her lower lips. He kissed her deeply, tenderly, then his strong hands were parting her coarse curls, his mouth was on her, his tongue dipping into her folds, creating exquisite sensations. She began panting, heavier and harder, and writhing beneath the onslaught. An intense sensation was building, a spring tightly coiling in her belly, and just as she thought she could take no more, her body began to vibrate, an explosion ripping through her and still he continued.
Kathryn's universe had always centered on the man now lying between her open thighs, but even in her dreams she had never before experienced the depth of incredible sensations he was creating. She cried out, garbling his name, thrashing, moaning, her legs clamping around him, her fingers grasped the sheet, her hips rising and falling with each wave. She barely caught her breath when it started again, god she thought he was going to kill her, but she didn’t care as another orgasm shook her.
Through her haze, she realized he had moved over her, supporting himself with arms that rested on either side of her head. He was kissing her face her neck, returning to suck her lips. She could feel him brushing her wet entrance, unbelievably the excitement stirred again in her belly. She thrust up to meet him wrapping her legs around him drawing him closer.
He slid into her slowly allowing her hot slick walls to stretch around him, pausing to savor the connection before setting a slow steady pace. He withdrew almost completely, slowly returning to bury himself deep within, her velvet heat devouring him; she countered his thrusts matching his rhythm, her moans feeding his excitement, her short nails scoring his flesh. His mind focused on Kathryn, his Kathryn, her body bucking against him, trembling, writhing, crying out, sobbing his name; the fire in his belly raged. His pace increased, harder, faster he pounded into her, savoring the feel of her inner muscles as they clenched tightly around him. Higher and higher he climbed, the intensity mounting until his throbbing penis exploded with release, spurting his seed deep inside her. He collapsed, covering her completely with his sweat soaked body. She cradled him murmuring soothing words of love as they lay together regaining their breath.
"You OK?" He mumbled into her neck when he was finally able to speak.
"If you were trying to kill me, you might have succeeded.'' She grunted as she rolled with him to their sides. "I'm not sure yet."
"So, was I worth the wait?"
"Oh, absolutely, even if I am dead"
"Heart's still beating." He placed his palm on her chest, feeling the pounding of her heart and vibration of her laughter. "I love that you laugh so freely now. I’ve missed your laughter."
"I forgot how good it feels to laugh." She watched her hands glide across his moist golden skin, then closed her eyes to enjoy the feel of him beneath her fingers and sweet soothing sensation of his hands stroking her.
"Kathryn, are you going to sleep?"
"No, just enjoying."
"Look at me, please, open your eyes."
"What's wrong?" her eyes flew open revealing a serious look on his face.
"Nothing, I want you to know that I love you. " He stroked her cheek, smiling at the puzzled look on her face. "I want you to know that you're a beautiful desirable woman, not only in the heat of the moment, but always." He brushed soft kisses across her face. "I hope I never see that doubt in your eyes again."
"Yes, well it creeps up now and again. There are concessions to be made for my age, I don't have to like them but I do have to live with them," She smiled. "but you don't."
"But I want to. What I see is the woman I love, it has nothing to do with age." He brushed the stray hairs from her face. "Any more then it has to do with the color of your hair."
"I love you too, Chakotay." A chuckle bubble up and her eyes sparkled. "I won't hold your youth against you."
"Why, thank you and I promise to always be there to lift you off your knees as long as you only kneel for me." He rolled away from the punch she threw at him.
"Noticed that, did you?" She raised up on one elbow, resting her head on her hand. "I truly had no idea how I was getting off that floor but I wasn't about to let that hold me back."
“I am very glad you didn’t.” He pulled her back down on the bed.
They grew quiet, holding each other, savoring the warmth of their union.
"Kathryn." He was
first to break the silence. "You know all about my life, yet there are
years in yours I know nothing about." He shook his head when she
started to object. "No don't give me temporal prime directive, you've
already blown that to hell. Besides I don't want to know facts and
dates, I want to know what your life has been like. Was there ever anyone
those years with? Did you ever marry?"
"No, the only man I wanted to marry was beyond my reach. I was resigned to my solitary life."
"Don't tell me you truly waited thirty years."
"For you-- yes. Oh, there was sex, it's easy enough to come by, even for the...." She rolled on to her stomach and studied the pillow as she spoke. "You're a history buff."
"Oh four, five hundred years ago in England. Elizabeth the first known to some as the virgin queen." She smiled at his confused look. "No I haven't lost my mind - that's where my nick name came from, oh, no one ever said it to my face, of course."
"You had a nick name?"
"Yes, when we got home, it wasn't public exactly, just one of those whispered things around HQ. "Janeway, the virgin Captain of the Delta Quadrant." She rolled to her back smiling sadly as she stared at the ceiling. "It presented a challenge, you know."
"I bet it did." He stroked his hand over her belly.
"Yep, they were all lined up. From green first year cadets to the stuffiest old admirals, why even the Federation president gave it a shot. Guess she figured if there weren't any men in my life it was worth a try."
"Must have been difficult."
"I got used to it, and there are a few discrete men out there." She turned toward him snuggling close to his chest. "It was just sex- oh, some very good sex, don't get me wrong, but empty. After a while it just wasn't worth the effort."
“I’m so sorry..”
“Not your fault, Chakotay. I did that to myself.” She kissed his chest, reaching her arms around to draw him closer. “I won’t let it happen again.”
They slept and in the morning when he woke before the computer called, she was there sleeping soundly in his arms. Chakotay smiled as he watched her; he hadn’t lied. To his eyes she was every bit as beautiful as she had ever been. Maybe this was wrong, but he couldn’t believe anything so wonderful could be wrong. It wasn’t the sex, though that had been great, it was Kathryn. This was the Kathryn he fell in love with, the Kathryn he always knew was hidden inside the Captain. What to do about the Captain? This was going to hurt her, probably more than Seven would have. Maybe it already had, Kathryn had said they talked about him, maybe she already knew. He didn’t know the answer but he knew he couldn’t give her up.
“So serious.” The smoky voice and the soft touch on his face drew his attention. “Something wrong?”
“Probably, but so much more is right.” He softly kissed her lips. “Good morning.”
“Good morning.” She rolled over sitting up on the edge of the bed.
“Ummm, well.” Looking over her shoulder as she placed her feet on the floor. “If I can still walk, I’m going to the bathroom.”
"Hurry back.” He chuckled at the face she made with her first step.
“Nice, laugh at me.” She tossed the pillow at him. “I will get you for that.”
“I’m sure you will.” The sound of his laughter muffled by the pillow on his face.
Chakotay lay laughing to himself as he listened to her rummage around his bathroom. He heard the power switch on in the sonic shower, then it went off and the water started to run. Chakotay laughed out loud, she always did prefer water. He jumped up and replicated coffee, setting it on the night table and climbing back into bed.
“COMMANDER THE TIME IS 0600 HOURS. COMMANDER THE TIME IS 0600 HOURS.”
“Computer reset alarm twenty-four hours.” He bunched up the pillows and propped himself against them.
“Janeway to Chakotay.”
“Chakotay here, Captain.” The page made him jumpy and his voice sounded odd, even to him.
“Chakotay, I’m sorry did I wake you?”
“No, Captain.” He realized too late that she had used his name and he replied with her title.
“Chakotay, I have some things to go over with you and since you were missing in action yesterday….”
“Chakotay, I hope you…” Kathryn called out to him as she made her way from the bathroom, stopping abruptly at the sound of the Captain’s voice.
Both Kathryns stopped mid sentence. One standing before him wearing his bath towel, the other a mystery on the other end of the open comm link. Chakotay didn’t know whether he would laugh or throw up and for a minute no one spoke.
“Captain, could we meet at 0800?” He waited for her answer, it took a few seconds too long.
“Yes, Commander. That will be fine. My ready room at 0800. Janeway out.”
“I’m sorry.” Kathryn sat on the edge of the bed. “I didn’t realize…”
“Not your fault.” He pulled her back against his chest. “She will have to know sometime. Besides you said you talked about me yesterday.”
“We did. It’s one thing we agree on.—loving you.” She reached back to touch him. “We just can’t agree on what we should do about it.”
“Good thing you and I can agree.” He ran his hands down the front of the towel. “And you walked back in here just fine.”
“And you…” She twisted to face him, losing her towel in the process. “have an appointment with the Captain.”
“Not for two hours yet.” He cupped her bottom and pulled her body over his.
The Captain replicated another coffee and sat behind her desk; she knew she was only going through the motions. She had been in her ready room since 0615 and had done nothing but drink coffee and move padds from one place to another. She had been well aware the Admiral’s intentions; the Admiral had made herself abundantly clear yesterday. Kathryn thought she had come to terms with it. She though she had separated her command decisions from her personal feelings, now she wasn’t so sure. She had made her decision last night and wanted to go over it with Chakotay before presenting it to anyone else, but when she heard that voice, her own voice, she wasn’t so sure anymore. She made tough decisions all the time, they were second nature—this one was different. She needed to clear her head but he would be here soon and she couldn’t discuss this with him now.
“Damn! Computer what time is it?” She got up and paced in front of her viewport.
“THE TIME IS 07:57”
The least she could do was come up with a reason for having called this meeting, the real reason no longer being an option. She had a stack of reports she could feign concern about, but he would see right through it.
“Come.” Kathryn braced herself as the chime sounded, her captain’s mask firmly in place.
“Captain.” He stood just far enough in for the door to close behind him.
“Come in, Chakotay.” She came down the step and moved toward the replicatior. “I’m not going to bite you.” She wondered if that sounded as bad to him as it did to her. “Coffee? Tea?”
“Have a seat on couch.” She brought their drinks to the table. “How were things in engineering yesterday? I have a report from B’Elanna, but it wasn’t exactly informative.” She was grasping at straws, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“The armor plating is in place. B’Elanna and Seven have worked out the kinks in its deployment. Transphasic weapons are ready. B’Elanna is confident everything will be in top shape by the time we reach the nebula.” He knew she was just buying time. It was unlike her to be so evasive. Chakotay watched her fiddle with her cup, something was on her mind and she didn’t want to discuss it with him. “Kathryn, about this morning…”
“No.” Her head snapped up. “Chakotay, you don’t owe me any explanations.”
“I know, but I want to …”
“Please.” She held up her hand. “I have some things to deal with right now and I don’t think your explanation will make it any easier. So if you will verify that all departments are ready, I will speak to you later.” She left him sitting there and returned to her desk. Clearly he was dismissed.
He left with out turning around, without seeing her eyes follow him to
“Janeway to Janeway.”
“Admiral, I have some things to discuss with you. If you could come to the ready room when you are free.”
“On my way, Captain. Janeway out.”
Chakotay returned to the bridge. He had spent almost two hours in engineering, everything was as ready as it was ever going be. He thought about stopping to see Kathryn on his way back, but the computer informed him she was in the ready room. So here he sat, waiting; it had been another three hours.
“Commanders Chakotay and Tuvok to the ready room.”
“On my way.” Chakotay looked at Tuvok, he was just as surprised, as he followed Chakotay into the ready room.
“Come in.” The Captain welcomed them from behind her desk, motioning them to take the chairs in front of her. The Admiral stood with her back to then, gazing out the view port. “Please have a seat.” She raised the carafe from the desk. “Coffee?”
“No, thank you.” Chakotay answered. Tuvok shook his head and they watched her compose herself as she fussed with pouring her own.
“Gentlemen, we are less than two hours from entering the nebula, so I'm going to make this short." The Captain sat up straight studying each solemn face before her. "I called you in here to advise you of a change in plans. The Admiral and I have worked out a strategy that will allow us to destroy the hub and to take advantage of its transwarp capabilities at the same time." The Captain continued to outline the plan. "The Admiral will take a shuttle into the unicomplex, she will offer the queen a deal, we get tractored back to the Alpha Quadrant and the queen gets the knowledge she needs to adapt to the transphasic torpedoes."
"And the actual plan, Captain?" Chakotay sat on the edge of his chair, watching the Captain. He knew she didn’t believe they could make such a deal with the Borg queen and even if she did, he knew she would never do it..
"Captain?" The Admiral stepped up behind him, placing one hand on his shoulder; he stared at the Captain as she nodded. "The actual plan, gentlemen." She squeezed his shoulder. "is that I will be injected with neurolytic pathogen, which has been designed to bring chaos to the queen's borg order. When she attempts to assimilate me and intercept Voyager she will lose control over the collective and in the ensuing chaos Voyager will fire her tranphasic torpedoes, destroying the hub and riding the shock wave home to the alpha quadrant."
"You...." Chakotay started to object, but the Admiral tightened her grip and forced him to remain in his seat.
"Mr. Tuvok, you and I will start preparations immediately. Meet me in engineering." Tuvok simply nodded and left the ready room. "I will see you, Admiral, in the shuttle bay in forty minutes." Kathryn looked briefly at the stricken face of her first officer and left the room.
"Chakotay." The Admiral eased her grip and move to sit on the desk in front of him. "Chakotay, you know I have to do this."
"No, you don't. It's suicide, Kathryn." His voice was husky with emotion as he took her hands. "Don't do this."
"It's why I came back."
"I've only just found you, I can't lose you again."
"You won't lose me, Chakotay. I'll be right beside you." She reached out and brushed the tear that escaped the corner of his eye. "I love you Chakotay-- we both do. Don't forget that."
"I love you. How could I ever forget that?" He stood and drew her into his arms. "You knew about this last night?”
“Kathryn hadn’t made her decision yet, but I knew this was inevitable when I started this mission. When I came through the conduit, I changed history. It has to be this way or it will never be right again. The Captain was searching for answers, I already knew, but I had to let her find them on her own. Don’t blame her for this Chakotay, I left her no other choice.” She held him tightly not wanting to see the pain in his eyes. “I’m sorry Chakotay, last night was very selfish of me.”
“Last night was all I ever hoped for, and you’re sorry?” His pain visibly increased as he pulled back to see her face.
“I’m not sorry for what we did; I’m sorry I hurt you --- again.”
“Please stay.” Pulling her back into a tight embrace, he was barely able to choke out the words.
"I have to go, but she will be here. You belong with her, Chakotay. Let me tell you—and this is first hand knowledge." He could feel her laughter blowing softly against his neck "she loves you, and she doesn’t love you any less than I do—she just can’t allow herself to show it—don’t give up."
Twenty minutes later they walked hand in hand out of the ready room, nodding to the bridge crew as they entered the lift.
"Deck 10, shuttle bay." He ordered the lift.
"Thank you, Chakotay."
"For what? Ordering this lift to take you to your death?"
"For loving me,
unconditionally." She squeezed his hand just as the lift opened on
the empty shuttle bay. "I love you, Chakotay, but we both know
you belong with her—yes, I’m her and she is me." Her laughter rang
out as they crossed to the waiting shuttle. "Oh, Chakotay, you know
temporal mechanics gives me a headache and I must be at my best when I
meet her majesty." Together they boarded the shuttle, to await her fate.
The Captain crossed to the shuttle, climbing through the open hatch and stopping cold at the sight before her. Her first officer and her older self were locked in an embrace. She held her breath as she witnessed what was at once the most tender, yet desperately passionate kiss, one she could fell deep into her own soul. She couldn't move, she could barely breathe, not that it would have matter. At that moment in crossed time, the two in front of her were alone in the universe. Even when the kiss had ended, their eyes alone held them together, it was as if they could each see into the others soul and hold on to this moment forever.
"Smile for me, Chakotay." She smiled sadly as she touched the side of his face. "I need to see those dimples." She touched them and tears welled up in her eyes, it was then that she noticed the Captain. "It's time, remember that I love you."
Chakotay said nothing, just nodded, placed on last kiss gently on her lips and exited the shuttle, sliding past the Captain.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" The Captain moved closer.
"No, but this ship isn't big enough for both of us." She tilted her head allowing her younger self to inject her with the serum. The hypo hissed and the serum burned as it made its way through her body. "Take care of him, Kathryn. Don't waste this opportunity." She laughed at the sight of her younger self, so proper, so Starfleet, so torn. "You'll get your crew home today, then take what you want-- don't worry about the stuffy old admiralty. Trust me Kathryn, he's worth it."
"Good luck, Admiral." The Captain turned to exit the shuttle.
"Kathryn?" The Admiral reached out grabbing her arm, forcing the Captain to turn back, and look at her.
"I will." She whispered and she was gone.
The command team silently returned to the bridge. The atmosphere was tense but professional right up until Ensign Kim reported losing the Admiral's lifesigns. Kathryn could feel Chakotay stiffen at her side, she didn’t dare to look in his direction. They had a lot more work to do.
“Take us in, Tom.” She reached over and took Chakotay’s hand. “Prepare transphasic torepedos, Mr. Tuvok.”
“Captain, the Admiral has been successful.” The news was painful enough but coming in Seven's voice doubled the effect.
“Now, Mr. Tuvok.” She felt Chakotay’s his fingers tighten around hers; there were no words even if there had been time.
The torpedoes blasted through the hub, Voyager shook as Tom guided her through the corridor just ahead of the shock wave, a Borg cube close behind. It all happened so fast, so violently; suddenly they were home. On the view screen were nineteen Starfleet vessels and in the distance the misty blue orb they called home. The Captain spoke briefly with Admiral Paris, instructed Tom to set a course for home and turned the bridge over to Tuvok. She stood, still holding his hand and together they exited the bridge to the ready room.
They settled silently on the couch. When Chakotay started to tremble, Kathryn looked up to see tears sliding down his cheeks. She took him in her arms and he began shaking violently, loud heart wrenching sobs escaping. She held him, his head cradled to her bosom, gently rocking, stoking his back until he had nothing left to cry.
“Are you all right?” She watched him wiping his face on the tissues she offered.
“I will be.” He studied her sadden face. “I don’t think I will ever be the same.”
“None of us will, Chakotay.” She brought him a cup of tea. “Drink this. We’re home now. You know her timeline never happened.”
“It did happen. It happened to me and it was very real.” He put the tea on the table and took hold of her shoulders as he pleaded for understanding. “I held her—you -in my arms and I was so complete, so happy.”
“I know that was real. Oh, Chakotay.” She touched his cheek, the tears slipping from her eyes now. “Do you hate me?”
“God no. Kathryn, I love you. I could never hate you.” He wrapped her in his arms. “Never.”
“I, er I offered to go..” It was barely a whisper.
“I know, she told me.” He kissed her hair as he stroked her back, just who was comforting whom wasn’t clear anymore. “It wouldn’t work. I understand that much. If you have no future she never existed, and all of this is for nothing.”
“She gave me a future--- she gave us a future, if you still want it.” She sat back watching his reaction.
“I look forward to that future, Kathryn. It’s just that right now I..”
“I know, it will take time to reconcile this within our selves.”
“Yes, it will, but we can do it and …” Chakotay smiled. “I already know you’re worth the wait.” Kathryn laughed and rolled her eyes. “Yes, laugh. I love the sound of your laughter.”
“Then I’ll have to remember to do more of that.”
“You will.” He pulled her closer. “You know you are quite a woman in the future.”
“Let’s hope I can
live up to myself.” Her laughter tickled his neck.