| She was awake---how he
could sleep was beyond her. Twenty five years --- unbelieveable---twenty
five years and they were finally in the alpha quadrant. She watched
him sleep, the slow even rise and fall of his chest, that peaceful look
on his face. How many times had she lay awake and watched him sleep
over the years? It had been nineteen years ---nineteen years since
she came to her senses, as he often teased---nineteen wonderful, dreadful,
exciting years. They had been through a lot in that time, even more
since they first came together on that faithful day the Caretaker had swept
them into the delta quadrant.
Yes, the entire crew---two crews at first--yes, everyone had been to hell and back, but now they were home. She wasn't really sure it was home anymore---twenty five years was a long time---many changes had taken place ---in both quadrants.
She slowly eased out of their bed. Putting on her old robe, she replicated coffee and sat beneath the view port. Strange to be looking at these stars, she had almost forgotten what the alpha quadrant looked like. It wouldn't be long now, another few days and they would reach earth --- yes, it was earth-but home-that remained to be seen. Earth had no doubt changed, the Federation had changed, Starfleet was different, but she wondered if it had changed enough to welcome them openly, unconditionally, as they had said. In all these years perhaps what changed the most was her.
When she set out on Voyager's maiden voyage, she was young--thirty seven years old--a whole life, an entire career ahead of her. She had plans for that life and ambitions for that career---it hadn't worked out that way. At the time she was engaged to Mark, they had plans to marry and a vague idea of having children. She was a Starship Captain on her way up--- a bright and shining star -- a Starfleet legacy, who had never disappointed any of their expectations. She would advance rapidly--she had already. All that changed with one mission. The Caretaker had changed her life---all of there lives and the lives of their family and friends. Yes, it all started---or ended --there.
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