DISCLAIMER: They don't belong to me.  Paramount owns everything but the idea for this
story---which I don't own either. Sheri  (who seems to know my page better than me!) offered me the basic idea and so that really belongs to her.  As usual I own nothing!

FUTURE PERFECT




Second place winner in Janeway Chakotay contest  AU

Honorable Mention in Captain Crystals Best of J/C
 

RATED  PG

"Commander Chakotay to the bridge."  The comm. interrupted their dinner, again.

"Does it always have to be you?"  Sheri was tired of the constant interruptions.  It seemed they couldn't do anything without someone calling him.

"They wouldn't call if it wasn't important."  He spoke calmly, but he had grown weary of her constant nagging and relentless badgering about his work, the ship and especially the Captain.

"SHE probably needs her coffee cup refilled.  God can't she do anything without you?"

"If by she, you are referring to the Captain – I told you before that, Kathryn is on an away mission."  He turned away from her and started for the door.

"Commander Chakotay to the bridge."  Tuvok's voice paged.

"On my way, Tuvok."  He exited without looking back.

Things had gotten out of hand with Sheri, at first she had been so kind and understanding, helping him over some pretty rough spots but over the last few months she changed.  She complained almost constantly these days.  Questioned everything he did, every minute he spent away from her.  The lift stopped at the bridge and he tried to push his personal problems aside.

"Tuvok, report."  He fell into his role as he stepped off the lift.

"Commander, the Captain's shuttle is missing."  The ever calm Vulcan voice replied.

"Missing?" He took the command chair.

"Yes, we were in contact with her team, they were on approach and then..."

"Then WHAT Mr. Tuvok?"  This felt very bad.

"I don't know, Sir.  Then they were not there."

"Scans?"

"Nothing, the flyer seems to have vanished."

"Mr. Kim, boost the long range scanners and keep trying."

"Commander, I'm picking up tachyon emissions at the Captain's last know coordinates."

"Confirmed Commander, tachyon." Tuvok was quick to back up Harry’s findings

"A temporal rift?"  Chakotay didn't like the sound of that.

"It is a strong possibility and would certainly explain the Captain's disappearance."

"All stop, Mr. Paris.  Continue scanning, Mr. Kim.  Tuvok, let's take a closer look at those emissions."

~~~^^^~~~

"Delta flyer to Voyager.  Tuvok, can you hear me?"  The Captain had lost contact with Voyager about fifteen minutes ago.  "Ensign are you picking up Voyager on your scans?"

"No, Captain.  She was there and now ---she's gone."  Ensign Tal was on her second away mission with the Captain and again something went wrong; she knew she didn't belong on a Starship.

"Keep scanning, she didn't just disappear."  The Captain wondered which one of them was really lost.  This was just her luck of late.  It was her first away mission in over a year.  Her first mission since the accident-and now this.

~~~^^^~~~

Commander Chakotay retired to the ready room.  He sat behind her desk, but thought better of it and took a seat on the couch instead.  It was strange how things had changed in the last eighteen months.  They were best friends and growing even closer.  He really thought he had made progress; then the accident and everything changed.  At first he thought it was temporary, but she never seemed to get over it.  Things changed then and they were still friends, maybe even best friends and their professional relationship was as good as ever, but something - something in her- had changed.

It was an accident a stupid, careless accident, but it changed everything.  One minute she and Chakotay were laughing and then the blinding flash sent her hurling off the ladder, five decks straight down.  Chakotay managed to hang on, just barely, but his efforts to prevent her fall were futile.  He scrambled down the five flights to where she lay crumbled on the floor.

"Emergency medical beam out."  He yelled hitting his comm. badge.  He was afraid to touch or move her twisted unconscious body.  He hovered near by and watched her; nothing happened.  He hit his badge again -- Nothing ...

The comm. system must have gone down with whatever caused that explosion.  He tried to remain calm and assess the situation.  They had been working on the relays on deck six and now they were on eleven.  He needed to get her to sick bay --six decks up on the other side of the ship --no comm. --he had to move her.  He tentatively reached out.  She had a pulse it was weak, but steady.  He lifted her, she was limp in his arms, one leg was still at a bad angle, her breathing was shallow and hard, there was blood on his hands ---from somewhere --everywhere?  He wasn't sure, he crouched and inched toward the closest hatch.

Climbing down he headed for the nearest lift; hopefully they worked.  As he passed, he barely noticed the startled looks of the crewmen.  When he reached the lift, thankfully it was operating.

"Deck five --sick bay."  He ordered as he took possibly the longest lift ride of his life.

He made his way to sickbay, the doors opened activating the EMH.

"Please state the nature of the..."  He stopped at the sight before him.  "Commander over here."  He directed the Commander to the surgical diagnostic bed.  "What happened?"

"An explosion ---we were working in jeffries tube 27 -deck six and an explosion knocked her off the ladder---she fell five decks."  He had put her on the table, but did not completely released her.

"Commander, you must let me examine her."  The Doctor gently guided him away.

He retreated to the Doctor's office, sat behind the desk and stared down at his hands.  Blood ---her blood ---on his hands, he watched it as it dried there.  It was a long time before he became aware of his surroundings, only when the comm. had been restored, did he remember the ship.

"Torres to Chakotay"

"Chakotay here."  His voice was distant and dull.

"Chak, I've been trying to locate you and the Captain.  The internal sensors are off line and the comm. just came back up.  Are you OK?  You were in the section by the explosion weren't you?"

"Yeah, I'm OK.  We're in sickbay.  The Captain has been injured.  What the hell happened?"  He suddenly needed answers.

Vorik was working on the relays outside your location -- he accidentally overloaded them and they set off a chain reaction.  It blew out half the systems on that side of the ship; we're working on them now."  She waited but he didn't answer.  "Chak---Chak are you there?"

"Yeah, B'Ella, keep me posted."

"Chak, how is she?"

"Don't know. The Doctor's with her now. She fell five deck, it’s not good ---it's been a long time."

"If I can do..."

"I'll keep you posted, thanks, B'Ella.  Chakotay out."  He closed the link and walked to the window.  He didn't have a clear view from here, but the Doctor was still working on her.  He waited and watched.  Finally, the Doctor came into the office.

"Commander, please be seated."

"How is she?"

"Stable, for now.  She sustained quite a few injuries; some quite serious."  The Doctor sat across from Chakotay.  "Her right leg was broken in three places, her right wrist was fractured along with several ribs.  One rib was broken and punctured a lung.  She had a nasty head injury.  I've regenerated the bone and repaired her lung, she will need some time to completely heal and some physical therapy with that leg, but I believe these injuries will completely heal.  I see nothing beyond a serious headache coming form the head injury.  However, the blood you encountered came from the puncture wound caused by landing on the hyperspanner.  The problem here is two fold, it penetrated quite deeply piercing organs as it did, which caused the heavy bleeding, I've been able to control the bleeding for now and hopefully it will not require further treatment.  The spanner was locked into the on position by the impact, sending low-level electrical charges throughout the damaged organs.  She suffered internal electrical burn in some places effectively cooking the tissue.  I have tried to regenerate as much as possible the rest remains to be seen.

"Will she live?"  He was concerned with the damage, but most important was whether or not she will live.

"Baring any massive hemorrhages ,which I don't anticipate, yes, she will live and in time there should be no visible lasting effects.

"Visible?"

"She will for most purposes return to normal."

"Doctor what is it you're not telling me?"

"Right now, nothing.  I need to keep a close eye on her and I will keep you informed."

When Chakotay remained seated, staring at him.  "Commander, perhaps you would like to wash your hands and then you may see the Captain briefly. She will not be awake for sometime yet."

"Yes, fine."  Chakotay cleaned off her blood from his hands and stood watching over her pale frail body, until the Doctor chased him from sickbay.

It took days to make repairs and in the end it was a simple mistake that caused it all.  The only casualty had been the Captain and she was released from sickbay in five days.  The Doctor set up a regular program of physical therapy for her, which she hated, and complied with only so he would clear her for duty.

She was about two weeks into her therapy and making progress.  The Doctor incorporated and old holoprogram of dance exercises to increase the strength in her leg, and try not to bore her to death in the process.  Kathryn was doing the "swan" again almost daily.  Chakotay dropped by the holodeck to meet her after his shift, and stood watching her dance.  The leg looked good, strong, when she danced, although he could detect a slight limp when she walked, especially when she was tired.  As Chakotay watched her, he caught a slight wince, but she continued seemly unhindered.  Kathryn had agreed to have dinner with him and he wasn't about to let her slip out of it this time.  She had become very reclusive since the accident, he hoped she would snap out to it.

When she noticed him watching, she stopped and walked over.  She walked deliberately, steady but stiff, almost painfully.

"Hello."  She wiped her reddened face with a towel.

"Hi, looked pretty good.  How does it feel?"

"The leg?  It’s fine, stronger everyday. I really don't see why I can't go back on duty."

"That's easy.  Doc. knows you, if he let's you do that you stop the therapy."

"I can't dance away the rest of the trip, either it's gonna heal or not, but I can't wait on it forever."  She gathered her things as they walked toward the exit.

"Soon.  Maybe if you're nice, I'll talk to him."

"Maybe, if you're nice --I won't put you out an air lock after I delete him."  She swung the towel at him.

"Now, now, Ms Janeway, is that any way to talk to you're acting Captain?"  He ducked the second swing of the towel and smiled at the crewmen who passed by giving them a strange look.

"I'm still the Captain around here Mister and don't you forget it."

She was laughing, something he hadn't heard in ages; it sounded good.  She keyed in her code and they entered her quarters.

"Help yourself."  She motioned to the replicator.  "I'm gonna take a quick shower, be right back."  She grimaced and then smiled at him and disappeared before he could ask about it.

He replicated himself a cup of tea and wandered around her living area.  He hadn't spent much time here since the accident.  She was so distant and honestly he was very busy with both their jobs to do.  She really did look good and he though she would be back to work soon, then maybe life would get back to normal.

It had been a while, he began to wonder what was taking her so long.  He listened at the door; the shower was still running.  Chakotay wandered to the view port, he missed being here.  He missed her.  Chakotay heard a noise, a dull thud in the other room and flew over to the door.

"Kathryn, are you OK?"  He yelled through the door.  He got no answer.  "Kathryn, answer me or I'm coming in there."  He waited, tried the door; it was locked.  He was about to override it when she answered.

"I'm OK. I just slipped."  Her voice sounded strained.  "I'll be right out."

"OK."  He backed away from the door, but not far.

Finally, the door slid open.  She came out wrapped in a towel, another on her head.

“Sorry, I didn't meant to scare you."  She smiled.  "I just slipped but it knocked the wind out of me."

"It's OK. You know how I get, besides I always wanted to break through a door and save someone."

"My Hero?"  She laughed.  "You want to be my hero? Make that dinner you promised me.  I'm gonna get dressed."  She turned toward the bedroom and gasped, clutching her stomach.

"Kathryn?"  He crossed over to her in two strides.  "What is it?"

"I don't..."  She looked up with wide eyes.  "Oh god, Chako..."  She grasped his arm and doubled over.

She was clutching her abdomen, sucking breaths through gritted teeth.  She had begun to sweat and he could feel her shake, as he supported her with one arm.  The other hand slapped his comm. badge.

"Emergency medical beam out. Beam the Captain and I to sickbay."  He scooped her up in his arms cringing at the pain in her face, as they shimmered and disappeared.

When they materialized in sickbay, the doctor was waiting, having been activated by the emergency beam out.  He had no idea who his patient was until they stood before him, but he immediately understood the situation when he saw the Captain.

"Commander, put her on the surgical bio bed."  She gasped as he straightened her out on the bed. "Captain try to lie still."  He grabbed a tricorder and began taking readings.  She turned her face away from them and the Doctor began preparing a hypospray.

"Doctor, what is it?  What's wrong with her?"  Chakotay looked from one to the other.

"Commander, I can't discuss this with you, right now.  Please step back and allow me to work."  The Doctor thought that by now she would have told Chakotay.  "Captain this will take away the pain and you will sleep soon."

Chakotay stepped back just far enough to allow the Doctor room to work.  He wasn't leaving, if he could help it.

Kathryn turned back to the Doctor, clutching his arm she locked sad, but determined eyes with him.

"No."  She whispered.

"Captain, we must."  The Doctor spoke softly but firmly.

"No." She gripped him tighter.  "I don't want this."  She fought to keep her eyes open, the medication was gaining on her.

"Captain, you don't meant that.  We don't have a choice."  He watched her struggle.

"No."  She breathed, just before the medication claimed her.

As the Captain slipped into unconsciousness, they stood by, each with his own struggle, silently watching.  The doctor was the first to move; he turned and quietly walked into his office.  Chakotay stood by her side a while longer.  When it became apparent the Doctor wasn't returning to treat her, Chakotay sought him out.

"Doctor?"  He found him sitting behind his desk, deep in thought.  He looked up but said nothing.  "Doctor, shouldn't you be doing something?"  Chakotay was confused and becoming frightened.

"I don't know."  The Doctor looked at him, with pain in his eyes.

"I don't understand. Why aren't you treating her?"

"I believe, Commander, she has refused treatment."

"That's crazy!  You have to treat her."

"She has the right to refuse treatment."

They fell into an uncomfortable silence, staring blankly at one another.

"Doctor, if you don't treat her? What happens?"

"She will most probably die."  They were quiet again as the impact of his words settled over them.

"Alright, Doctor, it's time you told me what's going on."

"I'm sorry, Commander, Doctor patient confidentiality."

"Doctor, that's---"  He stopped to control him self.  "Let's look at this another way. Would you say the Captain is medically incompetent to command this ship?"

"Yes, she's unconscious.  Quite clearly, you are in command."

"Then perhaps she is also medically incompetent with respect to this decision."  The Doctor looked to object.  "Wait! As acting Captain, I have a right to know of any condition that could effect the operation of this ship and the safety and well being of this crew. You would agree that the death of the Captain would definitely adversely effect this crew."

"Yes, it would --but--"

"NO, Doctor, no buts.  I am ordering you to treat her."  He watched the Doctor carefully.

"Commander, We can twist the facts to suit our purposes and I appreciate your trying to ease my burdens in this matter."  He looked out to where the Captain lay on the bio bed.  "Alright, Commander, but I believe, if you are to assume responsibility for this decision  --then you have the right to know what you have decided on and the possible consequences of that decision."

"Doctor, I won't stand by and let her die; no matter what you tell me."

"I understand Commander, but I think you should know, in fact I'm surprised she didn't tell you herself."

"OK, let's make it quick. She's not getting better while we debate this."

"I told you there was internal damage from the hyperspanner."  The Commander nodded.  "Yes, well the Captain has been so cooperative because we have been working to repair that damage. Now, most of the damaged tissue has been, removed, regenerated or has healed in it's own fashion.  The one remaining area, was the most severely damaged and the most resistant to treatment.  When the spanner penetrated it pierced several organs.  The last being her uterus.  The tip of the spanner remained in contact with this tissue and the electrical impulses did the most damage here.  I have tried every technique I know and I dare say invented a few, but to no avail.  Too much of the tissue was damaged, too much to remove, too much to heal, even regeneration failed.  I tried all and the combination of the three.  Now the break down is such that we are facing surgical removal, either that or the Captain will bleed to death, when the wall completely ruptures and ruputre is eminent."  The Doctor rose.  "She has been opposed to this solution from the beginning.  Her wishes were the only reason I didn't opt for this sooner.  "So now Commander, you have the information on which to base your decision. Please don't take too long.  I'm not sure how long we have."

"No need to wait.  My decision stands; do the surgery, Doctor."

"She may not take this well."

"She'll probably hate me, but she will be alive to do it.  Do it Doctor."  Chakotay left the office and went to Kathryn's bed.  He watched her for a short time.  "I'm sorry, Kathryn. I won't lose you over this."  He walked toward the door.  "Doctor notify me as soon as this is finished."

 It was a long night.  Just before midnight, the Doctor had informed him the operation was complete.  He allowed him to see her briefly and assured him, she would make a full recovery --physically.  It was another twelve hours before Kathryn was awake and another day before she would see anyone and then only after the Doctor allowed her to return to her quarters.

Chakotay, left the bridge at 1300 hours to visit with Kathryn.  The Doctor had contacted him and arranged it.  He brought her fresh flowers from the Hydroponics bay and wondered if she would even speak to him.  He rang the chime and waited.

"Come in, Commander." Her voice was pleasant enough, but he was concerned by the use of his title.

She was sitting on the couch, feet up, back resting on a pillow propped against the arm.  She wore a peach satin bathrobe and a smile when he entered.

"Hi, how are you feeling?"  He approached cautiously.

"Much better than when we spoke last."  She smiled.  "Could you get the tea before you sit down?"

"Sure."  He handed her the flowers and picked up the tea from the replicator and served it before sitting in the chair across from her.

"Thank you."  She reached out for his hand.

"I know how you like fresh flowers.  Sorry, the peace roses aren't blooming just yet."  He moved a little closer to the edge of the chair so he didn't have to let go of her hand.

"These are lovely. Chakotay, thank you." She looked away but didn't let go of his hand.  "Not just for the flowers---I -- I wasn't thinking clearly ---hell--I wasn't thinking at all."

"It was totally selfish, but you're welcome."  He moved over to sit next to her.  He turned her face back to him, to see her eyes brimming with tears.  "It's OK-ya know---OK, to cry, if you feel like it."

"Just feeling sorry for myself; I'll get over it."  She smiled, but a tear slipped down her cheek and he brushed it away.

"That's OK, too.  You've had some rough breaks lately-hell the last six years have been rough; you're entitled."  He pulled her close and hugged her, stroking her hair and she let him.  "You know I was really scared."

"Me too."  She laughed through her tears.  "I still am.  Why were you scared?"  She moved back slightly to study his face.

"I thought I would lose you--either way.  I thought, if you didn't die, I thought --you would never speak to me again."  He watched her face, the tears flowed silently, but freely.

"I'm sorry, I should have never done that to you.  I should have told you..."  She lowered her head to rest on his chest.  "I kept hoping that if I didn't accept it---it wouldn't happen.---I'm not crazy. I don't really want to die—I just--- I didn't want to accept this ---so I told myself I didn't have to.

He thought that after that things would return to normal and they started to, but somewhere along the line she changed again.  Slowly, she had withdrawn, they remained friends, but in many ways she made it clear she intended their relationship to go no further.  It was about eight months after the accident, when he became involved with  Sheri, Lieutenant Smith.  At first he tried to ignore her advances, he was of course flattered. Sheri was a beautiful young woman, intelligent and talented, but he loved Kathryn.

He wasn't sure even now, how it happened, but Kathryn had pulled back and managed to encourage his involvement with Sheri.  Sheri was all too willing and somehow--it just came to be.  He spent less and less time with Kathryn and more and more time with Sheri.  They ate most meals together, spent most of their free time together and occasionally spent the night in each others quarters.  Sheri would have liked a complete commitment, but something held him back and now he was glad of it.

Maybe he would just never understand women, but this one had changed on him too.  She was possessive and tended to nag him most of the time.  He thought of breaking it off totally, but just didn't know what he wanted just now.

"Smith to Chakotay" The comm. sounded and made him realize what he didn't want now.

"Chakotay here."

"Commander, I need to speak with you."

"I'm in the ready room, Sheri you can speak freely."

"Are you alone?"

“Yes."  He really didn't need this now.

 "When are you coming back?"  It sounded like a cross between a whine and an accusation.

 "Sheri, I'm sorry, but we have a problem here and I'll be tied up ---probably all night.  I'll contact you in the morning."

“Can't the Captain handle it?"

"She---she isn't back yet."

“Well, OK, but call me early in the morning --my shift starts at 0800."

"All right. Good night, Chakotay out."  He sat down.  This was wrong.  No mattered what happened with Kathryn, he couldn't continue with Sheri, but he didn't have the time or energy to deal with her now.  She could wait.

 ~~~^^^~~~

"Captain, I'm picking up Voyager on long range scanners."  Ensign Tal reported, smiling for the first time in hours.

"I'm setting a course. Let me know when we're in communication range."

"Aye, Captain."

~~~^^^~~~

"Captain, we're being hailed."  Ensign Kim looked up in surprise.  "Captain,-- it's the delta flyer."

"The flyer?"  Captain Chakotay understood his surprise. The flyer had been destroyed in the crash that had killed Kathryn.  "On screen, Mr. Kim."

The view screen lit up and a stunned silence fell over the bridge.

"Kathryn."  It was barely a whisper.

"Janeway to Voyager. Commander, can you hear me?"

“Yes, Kath---Captain. We can hear you."  Chakotay stood and walked closer to the screen.

"Commander, good to see you---thought we lost you for a while there.  Our ETA is five minutes."  Chakotay didn't respond; he just stared.  "Commander?  May we have docking instructions?  Commander?"

"Yes, Captain.  We are sending them now; shuttle bay two."

"Fine see you soon. Janeway out."  She cut the link and proceeded to prepare to dock.

"Bridge to shuttle bay two."

"Hansen here, Captain."

"Lieutenant prepare to dock the delta flyer. ETA four minutes."

"Captain?"

"I know Lieutenant, just do it ---Chakotay out."  He turned to Tuvok.  "Security to shuttle bay two. I'll meet them there. You have the bridge."

"Aye, Sir."

"Chakotay to Sickbay."

"Yes, Captain, what can I do for you?"

"Doctor, grab a tricorder and meet me in shuttle bay two."

"What is..."

"Just do it. I'll explain when you get there---Chakotay out."  He entered the lift.  "Shuttle bay two."

When Captain Janeway docked the shuttle, she was surprised to see such a large welcoming committee.  She and Ensign Tal went through the shut down sequence and stepped down from the flyer.

"Commander, what’s going on?  Is there a problem?"  The Captain looked at the stunned faces around her.

"Captain, if you could just indulge me a moment and allow the Doctor to scan you?"  Chakotay was visibly shaken.

"The Doctor?  I don't..."

"Captain?"  Ensign Tal entered the shuttle bay.

"Yes."  They spoke in unison, looking at each other and then from Ensign Tal to Ensign Tal.

The Ensigns Tal stared at each other, the doctor ran the tricorder over each of them.   The security team stood waiting for instruction.

"Captain."  They Doctor spoke and they both looked at him.  "She is indeed the Captain ---Captain."

"I don’t like the looks of this --Comman--Cap--Chakotay."

"No, Kathryn.  I'm afraid, as much as I wish it was, this is not good."  He signaled for the security team to leave.  "I believe Captain, we need to talk."

"Yes, a good place to start.  Ensign Tal?"  Both Tals looked at her, she looked at Chakotay.

"Why don't you report back to duty and you go with the Doctor.  Doctor make sure she's OK, than get her something to eat.  The Captain and I will be in my ready--er--her---the ready room."

"Yes Captain---s"

The trip to the ready room was made in silence.  Kathryn began to realized what had happened, now she needed to find a way back to her own time.  He stole looks at her from the corner of his eye. ---this was Kathryn--but not his Kathryn.  They crossed the bridge to curious looks and entered the ready room with out explanation to anyone.  Once inside she sat on the couch, feeling this was neutral territory and he replicated coffee for them, before joining her.

"OK, Chakotay, we have a temporal paradox of some sort, so now we figure out how to get me back to where I belong."  She caught him staring at her.  "What happened to her?"

"She was killed in a shuttle crash, two months ago."

“I'm sorry, how has the crew taken it?"  She was watching him carefully. She knew him well and yet not at all.

"Not well at first, but we have to carry on. I have to carry on."  When he looked at her his eyes were misty.  "You should know, she was also my wife."

"This must be doubly difficult for you, I'm sorry."

"It is.  When I saw you on the screen..."  Chakotay turned away.  "Is our relationship different in your universe?"

"Unfortunately ---yes --it is."  She looked at him and shared his pain. She had lost as well.

The silence that followed was strangely uncomfortable and it took them a few more minutes before they could redirect the conversation and begin looking for answers.  After a while they called it a night.

"It is very late, you should get some rest and we can work on this in the morning."  He stood and she followed suit.

"I'll escort you to the VIP suite, sorry, but  I occupy your usual quarters."  He managed a smile.

"Thank you, but I'd like to check on Ensign Tal first."

"Certainly.  Computer locate Ensigns Tal."  He laughed when he said this and she couldn't help but laugh with him.  How long had it been since they laughed together?

"ENSIGNS TAL ARE ON DECK TWO---MESS HALL."

"I'll walk with you; if you don't mind."

"Not at all."  She wondered which one of them wanted this easy relationship more.

After checking and finding that the Ensigns Tal were very content to share their time and quarters, they reentered the lift for deck three.

"I think I'll have some coffee before I turn in, care to join me?"  Kathryn offered.

"I would like that, but could we have it in my quarters?"  He asked innocently, but colored slightly when she laughed.  "That wasn't what it sounded like.  I have, well let me show you."  The lift stopped and he led the way.

"Captain, is this anything like come and see my etchings?"  She teased.

"Good idea, but no. Please?"  He keyed in his code and ushered her in.  "Naomi?"

"Here Captain, I.."  She stopped when she saw Kathryn.

"Oh Naomi--I'm sorry this is Captain Janeway..."

"I know who she is---but how?"

"Not our Captain Janeway. Some sort of temporal rift."

"Oh, nice to meet you, Captain."  She looked uncertain.  "Well, I gotta go. Good night Captains"

"Poor Naomi, seeing me is like seeing a ghost."

"I know."  He crossed to the bedroom.  "Please make yourself comfortable. I'll be right out."

Kathryn wandered to the view port.  So strange to be in these quarter, her quarters, but not hers.  The decor was only slightly different.  She heard him in the bedroom, he seemed to be talking to someone. As he came into the room she turned and it was her turn to be surprised.

"Kathryn, I would like you to meet Shannon."  He held up a delicate looking baby with dark red hair, sparkling blue eyes and a deep tan complexion.

"She's beautiful."  She managed when her voice returned.

"Looks like her mother, I think."  He held her out.  "Could you hold her while I fix a bottle."

Kathryn stood numbly holding the baby.  Chakotay replicated the bottle and their coffee and brought everything to the couch.  When he looked up he found her gently cradling the child with tears sliding down her cheeks.

"Kathryn, is something wrong?"  He gently guided her to the couch, but didn't try to take the baby.  At first she said nothing, just sat staring at Shannon.  "Kathryn, do you want me to take her?"

 “NO---please, may I?"  The baby was more than content in her arms.

"Certainly, she likes you. She probably thinks your her mother, she never saw her but she would know the voice.”

"Sorry to disappoint you darling."  She kissed the baby's head. "But this is as close as either of us will ever get."  She reached for the bottle and caught the sad look in his eyes.  "Your Kathryn never saw her child?"

"No, the Doctor delivered Shannon after the crash. He wasn't able to save Kathryn, but I still have Shannon."  It was so easy to talk to this stranger---Kathryn.

Kathryn fed the baby, he enjoyed watching them together. It was something he never thought he would see.  She insisted on changing her and putting her to bed. Each of them played out their own fantasy.  With Shannon safely tucked away, she returned to the living area.

"I made you fresh coffee. "  He offered it to her.  "Thank you, she was very happy with you"

"I should be thanking you for sharing that precious bundle for a while.  She is beautiful."  She accepted the coffee and sat on the couch.

"Kathryn, you told Shannon this was as close as you would get---what did you mean?"  He probably shouldn't have asked, but they knew each other well, even though they just met.

"I'm unable to have children; an accident I had about a year and a half ago."  She could talk to him---she held back the tears, but her eyes glistened.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked.  It obviously..."

“It's all right. I'm learning to live with it. Out here I probably never would have had the opportunity anyway."  She smiled. "Well I should go, it's late."  She rose and he followed her to the door.

"In the morning we will find you a way home."

"Yes---I suppose we will.  Good night."

The next day Kathryn had breakfast with Ensign Tal, in the mess hall.  She was having a wonderful time with her "Self" and together they enjoyed the double takes from other crew members.  Sort of like being a twin---only better. Kathryn laughed with her and enjoyed Celes happiness.  Celes was very impressed with how competent she seemed in this reality.  It seemed only to be a matter of confidence and the Captain was hopeful Celes would benefit from this once they returned home ---if they did.

"May I join you?"

"Certainly."  Kathryn looked up into the smiling face of Captain Chakotay.

"Thank you."  He smiled as he and Shannon joined them.  "Ensign, I hope you are comfortable here."

"Yes Sir. I'm enjoying my visit."  She turned to the baby.  "Captain, she looks like you!"  She looked from Captain to Captain.  Both of you!"

"Yes, Celes, that's because the other Captain Janeway was her mother." Kathryn smiled a sad smile.

"Captain--s, I see Celes ---alright if I join her for her shift?"

"Go right a head, your Captain and I will be busy finding you a way home."

"Thanks."  She hurried off, leaving the three of them ---again.

"Hope you slept well."

"Yes, thank you, but then we know we have a comfortable ship."  They both laughed.

"I thought we should work from astrometrics.  Seven is scanning for tachyon emissions."

"Good place to start."  She watched the baby.  "What do you do with her?"

"We have day care, but sometimes I just keep her with me---when it's quiet."

"Can we bring her to astrometrics with us?"

"If you like.  It's quiet there and if she gets too fussy we can call someone to take her."

~~~^^^~~~

It had been over three days and still no word from the Captain.  Although, no official announcements had been made it was difficult to keep a secret on a ship this small and most of the crew were well aware of the Captain and Ensign Tal's disappearance.  Chakotay spent most of his time on the bridge or in astrometrics, trying to pinpoint the location of the rift and devise a way to get them home.

It was late, he hadn't slept in days or eaten in more time than he remembered, finally he left the bridge for some much-needed rest.  He gave a brief thought to finding something to eat, but decided he needed sleep more, so went straight to his quarters.  He keyed in his code and groaned involuntarily when he discovered the lights on.  She was here.

"Hi."  She smiled at him from the couch.

“Hi."  He really didn't want to fight now.

 “I know you're tired, but I made you some mushroom soup, try some before you sleep?"

 "OK."  Deciding it was easier to just eat it, he sat at the table.  She served the soup and sat across from him.

"Chakotay, I'm sorry.  Really, I know she's your friend and well---I'm sorry."

 "Thanks, but we'll find them."  He tasted the soup. "This is good, thank you."

 "Least I could do. I know it's not the time, but I'm sorry for the way I've been acting."

 "Sheri..."

 "No, no ---that's all--- this isn't the time."  She smiled, putting her hand over his.  "Just finish your soup and get some rest."

He finished the soup, while she made idle conversation and he mostly listened.  She cleared the dishes while he showered and when he came out she was gone, a note on the padd said good night."

Days stretched into a week and a week into two.  They found the location of the temporal anomaly and calculated that a rift would open with in a week---unless they found a way to force it---which might endanger the stability of it.  There wasn't much to do now but wait.

He had seen Sheri a few times for dinner and they had shared several pleasant evenings.  He hadn't brought up their relationship and neither had she.  Neither wanted to disturb the status quo.  He was cooking her dinner tonight and considered talking to her, he was feeling increasingly guilty.  As the evening turned out he didn't have to bring up the
Subject; she did it for him.

They had enjoyed dinner and some of the most relaxed conversation they had shared in a long time and were settled on the couch.  His arm was around her shoulder and she leaned her head against his chest as they talked of easy things---ships gossip, and other trivial matters.

"How long now before the rift opens?"  She suddenly changed the subject, catching him off guard.

"Three days."  He would have preferred not to discuss this now.

"You love her."  It was a simple statement--no question--no venom--just thrown out to clear the air. He didn't answer.  "It's OK. I've known for a long time---I guess from the beginning."

"Sheri..."  He wanted to say something---what?  That he was sorry---he certainly didn't want to hurt Sheri---but he couldn't deny it.

"Shhh..."  She put her finger to his lips.  "We can't help how we feel---it's no one's fault."

They sat that way for a while, not talking, just holding on.  She sat up, smiling as she looked at him.

"I would like to be your friend---but I'm afraid I might not be that strong.  So if someday I just disappear into the lower decks, please try to understand---it's not because I don't care, but because I care too much."

"Sheri, I never meant it to be like this."

"I know."  She stood up.  "It's late and I better go. How about a hug for a friend?"

He stood up and she wrapped her arms around him, holding tightly, then stepped back and kissed his cheek.

"Good night."  She turned and left without looking back.

~~~^^^~~~

Kathryn had been there almost three weeks, if the rift was gonna open again --or if they forced it --it would be within the next day or two.  She wanted to go home.  It was where she belonged, but she was torn between the reality of her own world and the comfort of his.  They had worked hard over the last weeks, but had also had time to relax and enjoy this time together, that they had been gifted with.

Shannon was almost three months old and had totally captivated Kathryn's heart.  It became a pattern; one they just fell into comfortably.  Every night they had dinner and would share bathing and feeding Shannon and putting her to bed.  Sometimes, like tonight Kathryn just stood and watched the baby sleep.  Shannon was so small, frail and beautiful --so perfect.  He came looking for her; Kathryn was watching over Shannon. He knew he would find her there.

"Peaceful."  He said as he came to watch over her shoulder.

"Yes." She whispered, turning toward him and finding him so close it caused her to catch her breath.  She stepped back and walked around him into the other room.

"Kathryn."  He came out behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders.

She stopped and allowed him to lean her back against him.  Closing his eyes, Chakotay nuzzled her hair; she smelled the same.  He turned her to him, tilting her chin up---searching her eyes.  Their eyes locked, their bodies only inches apart, they drifted closer, breath mingling, leaning in until their bodies touched and their lips brushed together.  Chakotay pulled slightly back watching her face, her smoldering eyes.  She reached her arms around his neck, fingers sliding through his hair, pulling him back to her.  Warm moist lips parting mutually, tongues testing, tasting, gently exploring, pressed together in an almost desperate need.

Kathryn was the one who finally broke the kiss, resting her head on his chest.  He ran his hand down her back holding her close.  They stood together hearts pounding, breathing short and quick.

"I'm tempted to ask you to stay with me tonight."  She could feel his words across her hair as he spoke.

"And I'm tempted to say yes."  She lifted her head to look at him.  "But--I'm not her."

"I know."  He pulled her closer.  "It's almost perfect."

"Almost."  She whispered, leaning her head back against him.

"Kathryn, promise me something?"

"What?"

"When you get home----tell him."  He lifted her chin to see her face.  "Trust him. Promise?"

"Yes."  She stood back, separating from him.  "I better go, good night."

"Sleep well."  He leaned down kissing her cheek, as she backed away toward the door, dropping his hand only after she had moved beyond his reach.

~~~^^^~~~

They had been in the ready room all morning, planning her return to her own ship in her own time.  The flyer was ready to go at a moment’s notice --in case they miscalculated the timing of the opening.  The baby slept in the carrier and they drank coffee enjoying what could be their final morning together.  In all it took no more than five minutes to change their destines.

The lights flashed, klaxons blared and the comm. called the Captain to the bridge. They both responded.

“Report."  Chakotay shouted as he exited the ready room, her right on his heels.

"It's the Vidiians, Sir. Six ships."  Tuvok reported, as the bridge rocked, sparks flying. "Shields down to 50% --they have matched out shield frequency."

"Hull breaches, decks seven, five and three.  Force fields holding."  Kim's hands flew across the console.

"Lost helm control." Paris yelled.  "Thrusters down.  Warp off line."

"INTRUDER ALERT DECK ELEVEN SECTION 1105 BETA."  The computer reported.

"Security to deck eleven --seal it off."  Chakotay processed information, shouting orders.

“INTRUDER ALERT DECK SEVEN--DECK FIVE--DECK FOUR."

Chakotay took a deep breath and locked eyes with Kathryn.  She nodded.

"Sir, we are being boarded on five decks---eleven, seven, five, four and thirteen."

"Computer set self destruct --six minutes--cut audio warnings.  Authorization Chakotay  alpha 745 py."  He ran to the ready room and came back carrying the baby.  "Take her, Kathryn."  He handed Kathryn the baby and kissed both on their cheeks.  "Good luck---computer transport Captain Janeway and Shannon to shuttle bay two."  He watched
them shimmer away.

She materialized in the shuttle bay, face to face with Ensign Tal, who had materialized only moments after her.  She secured the baby in the shuttle and began the take off sequence.  Neither spoke until they were clear of Voyager. They could see the Vidiian ships surrounding and firing on Voyager, the hull breaches and the boarding parties, but no one had time to notice a small shuttle slip away.  They escaped.

"Ensign, scan for tachyon emissions."

"Heading 0252, Captain."

"Arming photon torpedoes, preparing to go to warp."  Ensign fire on my mark.  "Four, three, two, one--mark." The torpedoes fired and the flyer jumped to warp.

The flyer spun out of control, sparks flew from the rear console.  Ensign Tal lost her balance and was tossed across the cabin.  Suddenly the shuttle dropped out of warp---the view was clear and free of Vidiian ships.  The Captain helped Tal off the floor and quickly checked Shannon.

"Voyager to delta flyer."  The comm. crackled.  Kathryn and Cele looked at each other and smiled.

"Delta flyer here ---come in Voyager."  The Captain responded punching the console to clear up the transmission.

"Commander,  we are receiving a response.  It's the flyer."  The excitement was clear in Harry's voice.

"On screen Mr. Kim."  He could feel the smile spread across his face as Kathryn appeared.  "Captain, welcome home."

"Commander ---it's good to be back."  She smiled at him and glanced toward Tal, who was grinning at her side.  "Request docking instructions."

"Shuttle bay two, Captain--sending coordinates now."

"Thank you, Commander.  See you soon.  Janeway out."

The link cut and Chakotay looked around at the beaming bridge crew --he would have sworn even Tuvok smiled.

"Bridge to shuttle bay two."

“Be'ghk  here Sir."

Ensign, prepare to receive the flyer."

"Aye, Sir."

The flyer docked and once Chakotay was assured they were home safe and sound, Voyager resumed course for the alpha quadrant.  The Captain spoke to the bridge over the comm, and she and Ensign Tal. reported to sickbay.  She had asked Chakotay to meet her in her quarters after his shift.  He stood outside her door, not more than five minutes after it ended.  He rang the chime.

"Come in, Commander."  She called, and the door slid open.

“Welcome home, Captain.  He crossed over to where she sat on the couch.

 “Thank you, Chakotay.  It's very, very good to be back."  She smiled.  "I missed you."  She registered the surprise on his face.

"I missed you too. Are you alright?"

"Yes fine, even the Doctor couldn't find anything wrong."  She got up and crossed to the replicator.  "I'm having a glass of wine, can I get you  one?"

"Yes, thanks."  He watched her walk across the room, no sign of the limp, in fact he thought, he saw a new spring in her step.

"I hope you won't be in trouble for being here--after hours."  She snuck a look at him.

"With Sheri?  No we've----come to an understanding."

"You broke up?"  She gave him the wine and sat on the couch.

"I guess you could say that..."  He had to chuckle at her quick interpretation.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be ---we're OK.  It really never was what it should have been."  He set the wine on the table.  "So where were you?"

"Voyager.  An alternate time line, a little toward the future.  Naomi was older by about eight years.  You'll get a full report tomorrow.  Very strange for Celes to meet herself."

"Yes, I can imagine and you?"

"No---only one of me.  Shuttle crash, but only about three months ago."

"And me?"

"Almost as nice ---just as demanding of me thought--still trying to push me."

"So was he more successful---getting you to do things?"  He laughed with her.

"Not always, but he did extract a promise from me."  She looked at him-then away quickly.

"And what would that be?"

"He made me promise to tell you something."

"What?"

"I promised to tell you, but I never promised when I would tell you."

"So you're gonna make me push you from this side too?"

"No -- I just---well, now that you're sitting here looking at me ---well."

"Should I close my eyes?"

"No don't be si... Yes."  She put her drink down.  "Close your eyes."

"OK."  He closed his eyes and waited.  "I'm ready."

"Hope so."  She moved closer to him and he turned toward her, eyes still closed.

She placed her hands on either side of his face and brought their lips together.  His eyes flew open and she pulled back slightly smiling at his surprise.

"I love you."  She whispered and watched awareness dawn in his eyes.  She covered his mouth again in a more demanding kiss that he eagerly returned.

There was a noise in the other room--a noise foreign to these quarters, on this ship.  He didn't hear it at first but the second cry stopped him cold.  He drew back and gave her a questioning look.

"Kathryn?"

"Oh, I forgot. I'll take care of it."  She smiled and slipped off the couch and into other room.  He followed.  "Come here, honey, I have someone for you to meet."  She lifted the baby and turned to find him right behind her.  "OH."

"Kathryn?  You forgot?  You forgot you brought home a baby?"  He instinctively held the child she thrust in his arms. “Who is this?"  His tone softened as he looked down at the baby.

"Well, it's a little odd--but -I guess--well ---this is Shannon.  She's our daughter."

"From the other Voyager?"

"Yes, can you change her, while I get her a bottle?"  She laughed at the look of terror on his face.  "What --you can't change a baby?"

"Sure, well-Yes, of course I can."  He moved past her to the bed.  "You go fix her bottle. I'll take care of this."

"OK."  She laughed as she backed out of the room.

When he came out, Shannon was clean, dry and none the worse for wear.  Chakotay refused to give her up, so he settled on the couch to feed her, Kathryn sat beside him.  She told him about the shuttle crash and her mother's death, about her father and about the Vidiians.

"She's so beautiful; looks like you."  He compared the two.

"Has your dark complexion ---a good combination --I think."  She watched him. "She is very comfortable with you."

"She should be. I'm her father, at least, genetically, I am.

He finished feeding her and returned her to the cradle, in the bedroom, the one that used to be Naomi's.  He watched her a few minutes, then returned to Kathryn.

"How do you ever walk away from her?" He shook his head.

"It isn't easy, but we will have to find a way and arrange some day care too."

"So..."  He moved closer to her and touched her face.  "So, now that we have a daughter, would it be alright if I kissed you?"  He didn't wait for an answer, just pulled her close and claimed her for his own.

   ~~~^^^~~~

It was two years to the day, since the accident and the image of this day was forever changed. On this day the Captain of the Starship Voyager and her First Officer, together with their daughter, officially formed a family, in a ceremony performed by the Acting Captain, Commander Tuvok.
 
 

   THE BEGINNING.
 

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