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What Could Be Simpler
NC-17

 
Kathryn

I am sitting in my ready room with my head in my hands. I canít believe what I did. Every time I think of it Iím overwhelmed with embarrassment and shame and it makes me groan out loud. What possessed me to do it? Was I insane? A little drunk maybe, but so were a lot of people. It was that kind of night.  Everyone was letting their hair down, dancing, and enjoying each others company, happy and carefree.  Oh God.  My head drops to the desk and another groan escapes. How am I going to face him and the crew? I suppose only half of the crew witnessed the scene, but if the rumour mill is worth its salt, the rest of the crew will be up to date with the latest captain related debacle by now.

I feel so foolish, not to mention hurt, but it was my own fault. No one else to blame but myself,  Serves me right really. What did I expect after all this time?  For him to be grateful? To drop at my feet and thank me for now allowing him to care? What a fool I am. Doubly so, of course.  First for making an ass of myself last night, and second for waiting so long to tell him how I felt and now itís too late. Groan.

I can still see the look on his face and then the looks of horror on the faces of Tom and Harry as I was told in no uncertain terms, thanks but no thanks, that he was happy to keep our relationship as it was, friends to the last. Oh God, that hurt. He was very nice, a little patronizing I suppose, but I was so shocked and almost turning inside out in my shame that I really didnít listen. Another groan. I thud my forehead on the desk a couple of times to try and remove the visual replay from my brain.

Tuvokís eyebrow was almost to his hairline.  BíElannaís eyes were bugging out of her head. Some of the more junior crew didnít know where to look, but then must have figured that staring at me was good sport. Well, I guess you donít see your commanding officer get the short shrift from the resident heartthrob all that often. What a come down.  Here I was worried about protocols and parameters and Iíve done more damage to my command status in one night than could have possibly been done if Iíd been sleeping with him for years. Goddamn it to hell. I feel like such an idiot. I have to get out of here, but I canít bear to walk out on to the bridge.

 ďJaneway to Tuvok.Ē  I slap my comm. badge. ďTuvok here, Captain.Ē  Can I hear amusement behind that Vulcan dirge of a voice?  Better not be or Iíll have his guts for garters. Be calm, sound controlled.  Heíll be listening.  No point giving him anymore mileage out of this by sounding distressed. ďTuvok, Iím heading to engineering for a while.  You have the bridge.Ē

A heartbeats pause.  ďAye, Captain.Ē  I really should be handing the bridge off to Chakotay, but I canít bring myself to speak to him at the moment.  I think I might cry.  Theyíll just have to sort it out themselves. I leave by the side entrance.  Iím such a coward, but my ego is just too fragile today.  I donít want to see his face.  I donít think I could cope with the pity.

I pass a few crewmen on my way to the holodeck.  Yes, now Iím lying to my officers about my whereabouts.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Those I pass avert their eyes.  The word is out.  God, what a mess.

Iím in the turbo lift hugging myself.  I figure if I hold myself tight enough, maybe I can keep the shame and hurt inside. Itís not working very well.  I have leaks. I look up and see my reflection in the control panel.  No wonder he doesnít want to have anything to do with me.  Whoís that sad, haggard old woman?  When did I become so bitter looking?  I take a long hard look.  I canít remember the last time I really smiled.  My face wears a constant frown, and my mouth is thin lipped and turned down, as if I disapprove of life.

I decide I have to do something about that.  The odd smile wonít kill me. I exit the turbo lift and skulk along deck six. Oh God, here comes BíElanna.  Maybe if I smile and look busy sheíllÖ no, too late.  Sheís going to say it. Yep, that was it.  Now Iím definitely going to cry.

ďCaptain, are you all right?Ē Why did she have to ask? What does she think?  That Iím heartless and donít feel like the rest of humanity? That when my heart is broken that it doesnít bleed like any other womanís?  The tears are pouring down my face and Iím making ridiculous hiccupping noises.  My humiliation is complete. Hell, now sheís holding me and dragging me into a nearby storage room so no-one else will witness my total downfall.  Lord, love her.  At least she cares.  Iím sobbing now and holding her, and Iím so glad sheís here.

I think Iím becoming a little hysterical.  My life and all the things I took for granted; my control, my leadership, my strength of will, his support, his love for me and the respect of my crew, have all been destroyed and Iím bereft. What I feel like doing is having a tantrum. Iíd dearly love to lie on the floor and kick and scream until Iím hoarse, but Iím a grownup, a Starfleet captain.  Iím Kathryn Janeway, vaunted leader of the lost souls of Voyager. What I really feel like is a hurt little girl and I want my Mom.  I cry harder.  I need a tissue.  Whereís a replicator when you need one? Sleeve will have to do.  I have no pride left to lose, and so whatís a wet gooey sleeve in the scheme of things.

BíElanna is telling me that everything is going to be alright, that Chakotay is a PítaQ and a pig and like all men, should rot in hell. Who needs them?  I would love to agree but Iím still so overwhelmed by shame and gutted by grief that Iím having trouble feeling anything else.  Iíd like to feel anger.  With that comes a certain amount of strength, but the only anger I feel is directed inwards and thatís kind of self defeating.

Iím slowly starting to gain some semblance of control.  Iím not hiccupping quite as much, which is definitely a good thing. I canít even imagine what I must look like.  Probably like Iíve been blasted backwards out a plasma injector.

I start taking a few deep breaths.  BíElannaís found a couple of tissues from somewhere and Iím trying to mop up the mess that was once the captain of Voyager. Hello, she even has a comb.  This has conspiracy written all over it. I have the feeling she was out looking for me and came prepared.  We girls really do have to stick together more.  I attempt a quick repair job, not easy without a mirror and what I have to work with.  I ask her if Iím presentable.  She nods her head.  I think sheís being diplomatic, but what the hell.

She gives me a conspiratorial smile. ďWant to play hooky and go to the holodeck?  I have this great program that Iím sure youíll love.Ē  She looks at me almost daring me to say no, to continue my current existence as a major stick in the mud. Well, sheís in for a shock.  My stodgy, protocol, parameter and regulation obsessed days are over. Theyíve only brought me grief, so adios, boring old me.

ďJaneway to Tuvok. Commander, Lieutenant Torres and I will be checking on some relays on the holodeck. Only contact us in an emergency. Janeway out.Ē  Let them think what they like.  Iím so sick of being Miss Goody Two Shoes. I used to be a lot of fun.  I danced and partied and had loads of fun and friends.  Goddamn it, I was the girl who snuck out of her bedroom window to frolic around the neighbourhood in the wee hours of the morning, getting up to all manner of no good. Where did that person go? It was time to find the inner party animal of Kathryn Janeway. Iíll be a new me or rather the old me will be back. Then heíll be sorry. When he realises what he let slip through his fingers, the shoe will be on the other hand or foot - whatever?  Heíll have to beg to be forgiven and I may decide to let him into my life, or, I may not.

ďLetís go, BíElanna.  I think itís way past time I relaxed. Whatís this program anyway?Ē  She looked at me and smiled.

ďDonít worry, Captain.  Youíll love it.Ē  I turned to this young woman who had also changed so much over the years, but for the better. I hold her arm as she turns away.  Time to let some light into the dark cavern that was my heart.

ďThank you, BíElanna, for being here.  Youíre a wonderful friend. I havenít let go like that in years. I would like to talk to you about what happened last night. I need your opinion on what the crew think and how much damage Iíve done, but weíll do that later, if you have time.Ē  She was about to answer me and then I realised something else.  ďBíElanna, would you mind very much calling me Kathryn when weíre off duty or in situations like this?  The fact that your captain has just cried all over you kind of allows for a certain level of informality, donít you think?Ē BíElanna smiled.

ďKathryn, I would be honoured. By the way, youíve always been my friend and are always welcome to unload anytime. To be honest, I wouldnít mind having someone to confide in as well. Helmboy is great, but there are some things that are definitely out of his realm and only a Ďgirl talkí will do. Ok with you?Ē  I nod, very pleased to feel the affection from this woman. I donít feel quite so alone. Itís nice. She takes my hand.  ďGreat.  Letís go catch some wind.Ē

ĒWind? What are you getting me into, BíElanna?Ē

ďWind surfing.  Ever tried it?Ē I shake my head dubiously. She laughs at the look on my face as she tugs my hand. ďCome on.  Itís a hoot and the instructors are gorgeous.  Youíll love it.  Letís go.Ē

She drags me out of the storage room. We get a strange look from Susan Nicoletti who happened to be walking past as we emerged, but we both just shrug and keep walking. Iíve turned into Captain Donít Give a Damn and itís great. Maybe the captain has a bit of work to do in regaining her aplomb and dealing with some issues, but Kathryn is feeling much better. Holodeck here I come.
 

Chakotay.

I canít believe what Iíve done. What possessed me?  Evil Chakotay? Years Iíve been waiting. Years and bloody years and then she does it.  Out of the blue. I had no idea.  Absolutely no idea.  She just stood there in front of me and half the crew and told me.  It was like there was two of me.

There was the ecstatic, elated, jumping over the moon, wanting to sweep her up in his arms and carry her off to bed Chakotay, but the other Chakotay took control. The angry, resentful, Iíll teach you a lesson youíll never forget Chakotay.  He stood there as cold as ice and said sorry, that he didnít feel that way anymore, thank you for telling me, but Iím happy with our friendship and donít want to complicate the command structure.

The other Chakotay was screaming silently.  What are you doing? Grab her, kiss her, donít let her get away.  No way.  Vindictive Chakotay was on a rampage.  He was affecting a scorched earth policy on her self esteem and ego.  She was going down, preferably in a screaming heap.  Major payback time.

The looks on the faces of everyone around us spoke volumes. They couldnít believe it.  How could he?  I couldnít believe it, so how could I explain it to anyone else.  The memory of the look on her face and in her eyes makes my insides clench.  Iím at a loss.  What can I do now?  Every time I think about it, I sigh out loud.

Paris keeps turning around, looking at me and shaking his head.  I should call him on it, but Iím so upset with myself I donít have the heart. Heart?  What heart?  I love her like my next breath.  What in Godís name made me do it?  Sheíll never speak to me again.  In one night Iíve condemned myself to a lonely loveless life. At least before I had her friendship and the hope of a life together, but no, I had to make her pay for my frustration.  Loud sigh.  Hello again, Tom.  Spirits, Harry is groaning now.

The whole ship has dropped into a depression and itís entirely my fault. Tuvok keeps looking at me like a father whose daughter has been left at the altar.

I caught a glimpse of Mike Ayala.  He looks like a cat whoís swallowed the cream.  He has adored Kathryn from afar for years, but in deference to my Ďfeelingsí has kept his distance.  Now itíll be open season. Why, why bloody why?  I really should talk to her, but Iím so ashamed of myself and honestly donít know how to even begin to explain to her what happened.

Whereís the Ďgood shipí Relativity and Captain Ďbloodyí Braxton when you need them?  A rewind of 24 hours would be perfect. Sigh and a whimper. Tom, if you shake your head one more time Iím going to knock it off.

Shit.  I could have woken up this morning with the love of my life in my arms after a night of mind blowing love making.  Iíve no doubt that if we got together, the inertial dampers would have to be realigned on a regular basis.  Iím thinking super nova. Well, thanks to my big mouth, all I have today is a headache the size of a warp breach and a heart ache that defies description.

I wonder if sheís alright.  She was humiliated, totally, and for a split second I revelled in it, and as she excused herself and left the room, amongst the horrified gasps and silence, it hit me like a Malon freighter in the back of the head.  What had I done? Destroyed, decimated, annihilated, demolished.  God, whereís a thesaurus when you need one.  Shit.  Letís call it how it is. I totally fucked up her life and mine.

I canít just sit here. I have to get up.  Maybe pacing will be good.  Perhaps if Iím moving, Iíll be close enough to Tom next time he shakes his head to whack him one as I go past. I can barely look at Harry. I think heís very angry with me. He loves Kathryn like a mother and Iíve hurt her.  He actually looks like he means business.  Iíd better watch my back.

By the look on Tuvokís face, (emotionless my arse), I wonít be counting on him for assistance if someone decides to throw me out an airlock, and Samantha Wildman looks like sheíd be happy to sell tickets.  Seems too good for me really.

I stop in my tracks. Thatís her voice.  What did she say? Going to engineering?  Tuvok is looking at me strangely.  He has the bridge?   That only seems right.  I donít deserve any consideration. Maybe I should throw myself out an airlock and save everyone the trouble.  She canít trust me with her heart.  Why on earth would she trust me with her ship?

I feel like crying.  Actually, I think Iím going to.  I have to leave.  Iíll go to the holodeck, call up my boxing program and have the shit beaten out of me.  Maybe thatíll make me feel better, or maybe Iíll feel so much physical pain itíll blot out the emotional. Good idea.  Delegated self harm.  Iím not sure itís particularly healthy but neither is this mental, self flagellation and at least itíll stop me from hitting Tom.

I nod at Tuvok and leave the bridge without any explanation. I walk past Harry on my way to the Turbo lift.  Damn, he looks like heís going to cry too. Whereís the bloody lift?  It arrives and about time. The doors close behind me, leaving the accusing faces of the bridge crew, excluding the smug face of Ayala.  I request my deck and promptly burst into tears.  Big brave warrior, I am.  Iím bawling like a baby.  I slam my fists into the wall of the lift.

ďComputer, halt lift.Ē  I have to gain some semblance of control.  I take some deep breaths, but the tears keep rolling down my cheeks. I need a hug, but I donít think thereís a soul on board who would want to come within ten feet of me today. I broke her heart so I should rot in hell and rightly so. I could try to justify it by reminding everyone of the many times Iíve made advances only to be put firmly but gently in my place. Thatís the crux, isnít it?  Even when she was knocking me back, she allowed me to retain my dignity.  I didnít leave her a shred.  Shot her down in flames cruelly, something I wouldnít have done to my worst enemy, let alone the woman I love. Goddamn it, now Iím sobbing and calling her name.  I hope no-one can hear.  Not only am I a bastard.  Iím a pathetic bastard. I have to stop crying.  This is ridiculous.  Iím a wreck and someoneís going to wonder whatís wrong with the turbo lift soon, only to find a sad and soggy first officer slumped in the corner.

I scrub at my face and try and get my breathing under control.  Itís as good as I can do.  ďComputer resume lift.Ē  I stop off at my quarters and put on my boxing gear.  I try to think of this as being cathartic, being beaten to a pulp by a holographic leviathan.  I might doubt my sanity if it wasnít already in question.  I make my way down to deck six.  I swear every crewman I pass is glaring at me with undisguised loathing. Being First Officer is going to be a piece of cake after this: not.  Iíll be lucky if anyone will follow me to the mess hall let alone into the jaws of death.

Iíve ruined everything, totally and absolutely. Iím officially a walking disaster zone.  I should carry a yellow flag to warn people off.  Now Iím mentally babbling.  Spirits, save me.  I need a big, nasty Nausicaan to pound some sense into me.

Holodeck one is being used, program BíElanna WS 1.  I wonder if sheíll speak to me?  Sheís my dearest friend (apart from Kathryn.  Here come the tears again). Maybe sheíll see past my failings and give me a hug.

The privacy lock isnít engaged.  I really need to talk to someone or Iím going to explode.  She can only tell me to get lost or hit me, both of which would be fitting.  But maybe sheíll take pity on me and let me try to explain my aberrant behaviour.  I key in the override code and enter. Oh fuck, itís Kathryn and sheís almost naked.  Let me die.
 

Kathryn.

BíElanna was right.  Wind surfing is a Ďhootí and she wasnít wrong about the instructors either.  I havenít seen bodies like these since Da Vinci showed me some of his latest drawings. We both had to replicate some bathers.  I left BíElanna in charge of that, perhaps not the best idea Iíve ever had, but it seems Ďgood ideasí are not my strong suit at the moment. There doesnít seem to be much fabric involved in either of our costumes. I donít look that bad, I hope. Oh well, there really isnít anybody to see anyway.

The freedom I feel on the water as the wind takes me out to sea is wonderful.  Even though itís only holographic, the sun warms my shoulders and the breeze blows through my hair. I feel alive for the first time in ages.  Iíll survive this.  Iím strong and as Iíve found out, I have the support of some very good friends.

I head up the beach to get a drink and rest a little. BíElannaís having the time of her life. I can hear her Ďwoohoosí from here. This I have to do again.  Maybe we could ask some of the other woman along, like Samantha and the Delaney sisters.  Theyíre always fun.

Was that the doors I heard? Oh my God, itís Chakotay and Iím practically naked.  Heís shocked.  Good.  Body isnít too bad for an old broad.  Take a good look.  This could have been yours and you blew it. Big time.  Heís just standing there staring. Itís a little bit disconcerting.  Oh, what the hell.  Iím Captain Donít Give a Damn remember?  Whereís BíElanna? There she is, being manhandled by Ďblack hairedí Adonis, and here comes Ďblonde hairedí Adonis to manhandle me.  Excellent.  Back to the surf with Mr Iron Buns.  I wonder if he likes the rear view as well, the one heís getting as I walk away from him.

Mind you, he didnít look too good.  If I didnít know he was a cold hearted bastard, I could have sworn he looked like heíd been crying. If so, welcome to the club, and itís his own fault. What goes around comes around or some such thing.  Iím walking away. I am cool, controlled, walking away. I will not look back. Just walk away, Kathryn. Dignity, always dignity, but he looked so sad and alone. Donít look back. Donít, whatever you doÖ.Goddamn it, you never could take orders. Oh God, there are tears. He is crying and I canít bear that.

My legs have a mind of their own. Theyíre carrying me back to him, faster and faster. Brilliant.  Set yourself up for another one? Kathryn, is there no end to your masochistic tendencies?  I wrap my arms around him. Iím holding him. Holding him tight and weíre both crying.  Sobbing actually.  Iím trying to apologise.  ďIím sorry, so sorry.  I should have told you years ago. My fault.  I left it too late.  Itís not your fault.  I should have said something sooner. You canít be expected to wait forever.  I should have realised you didnít feel that way anymore. Iím sorry.Ē  I think heís about to fall. Maybe it might be safer for both of us if we just sink to the ground slowly rather than toppling in an ungainly heap. Whatís he saying?  Heís sorry too?

What a pair. Perhaps we really do deserve each other. God, his arms feel so good, and his chest and the back of his neck, not to mention the muscles along his spine.  His scent is intoxicating.  Itís going straight to my head, and other parts of me Iím loath to mention.  Arenít I supposed to be angry with him?  But all I feel is so glad that he cares enough about me to be sorry that he hurt me. He may not love me anymore, but he still wants to be my friend.  I think that hurt almost as much as being told that he didnít love me anymore, thinking that he wouldnít be my friend.

I can live with this.  It may take a while before the embarrassment subsides, but it will get better.  Hopefully it wonít take too long before weíre back to our comfortable friendship. Whatís he doing? Heís stroking my back and crooning into my hair. I open my eyes just in time to see BíElanna leaving the holodeck.  She looks back just before the door closes, smiles, pumps her fist and mouths ďYesĒ at me.  She obviously knows something I donít.
 

Chakotay.

She is outstanding.  Iíd forgotten.  I saw her in bathers on New Earth on the few occasions we swam in the river, but I think sheís more beautiful now.  Maybe itís because sheís so far out of my reach.  Being unattainable just makes her more attractive. You always want the thing you canít have. I certainly made sure that I canít have her.

Thereís a blonde, tanned, mobile muscle grabbing her and taking her away from me. This is a nightmare.  Sheís leaving, heading off into the sunset with someone else.  I know heís only a hologram but now that Iíve killed any feelings she may have had for me, this is just a preview of whatís in store for me sometime in the future. Remember this, Chakotay, you fool.  Just insert preferred male at her side; Ayala, Chapman, alien of the week. It could have been me, walking down the beach with her by my side.  No chance of that now.

Spirits, Iím crying again.  Have pity.  Please donít let her turn around.  I couldnít bear her to see this pathetic excuse for a man who used to be her Ďangry warriorí.  I canít move.  The beach has turned to quicksand and Iím stuck here looking likeÖ.oh no, sheís turned around.  Sheís seen me.  Her turn to laugh out loud. No more than I deserve.  Everyone should have a hearty laugh.  It would be good for morale.  We should make it a weekly exercise.  Laugh at the moron who let the world slip through his fingers.

Sheís coming towards me.  Maybe sheíll hit me, which would make me feel better.  At least it would be a touch.  Sheís moving faster, almost running.  Her face is crumpling.  She throws herself in my arms.  Why is she touching me, hugging me?  If I were her, I wouldnít go near me.  Pariah man, thatís me.  Whatís she saying? Sheís sorry?  What the hell?  Iím in some sort of upside down universe.  What has she got to be sorry for?  Iím the one who attacked her with words made to wound.  Iím the one who intentionally broke her heart, just so I could watch it bleed. No, itís my fault that everything is ruined, not yours. I canít say anything.  Iím sobbing too hard. This is all wrong.  Iím the one that should be saying sorry. Not her.

She still cares about me enough to worry. Oh no, my knees are going.  The shock and stress have done their job. I canít stand up any longer. Weíre sinking to the sand.  I think I just heard the holodeck doors open.  Have we got an audience?  Only seems fair.  She had one last night when I demolished her. There really should be a crowd here to watch me disintegrate.  Sheís crying too. Please donít cry.  I canít stand it.  I should say something.  ďIím so sorry.  Please forgive me.  Iím so sorry, so sorry.Ē

Tears are pouring down my face into her hair, her sweet smelling hair.  I want her to stop crying, so I start crooning like I would to a distressed child.  I canít think of anything else to do. Whatís she doing?  Sheís stroking my back and my neck and nuzzling her face into my neck.  Is she insane?  Why would she do that?  Itís a mistake.  I have to stop her.  She has to hate me.  I hate me.  I push back from her and look at her.  She has a crooked smile on her face.  Iím shocked.  She looks at my face.  I think sheís about to touch my cheek.  She looks in my eyes and then she pulls her hand back, claps it over her mouth, gets up and runs away again.

Whatís happening?  She couldnít possibly still care, but I do, so maybe she does too.  Oh God, what have I done?  I have to move, go after her.  This is too much to bear, twice in as many days.  Can I be any more stupid?
 

Kathryn.

Maybe itís not too late.  I must have taken him by surprise last night.  He was unprepared and it came as a shock. Surely he wouldnít be this upset if he didnít care.  Heís stroking my hair and breathing its scent.  People who are Ďjust friendsí donít do that. BíElanna seems to think so.  I smile when I think of her and her antics as she left the holodeck.  Maybe we can redeem this.  I still love him with all my heart and really canít imagine life without him.

Time to swallow my pride.  God, I love his smell.  I start to nuzzle his neck.  He pushes me away from him.  I lift my eyes and hand to touch his tattoo, something that Iíve wanted to do for years.  Then I see his eyes.  Shock verging on horror.  How wrong can a girl be?  Not much Ďwrongerí than this.   Heís horrified at my actions. Appalled.  I read it all wrong.  I could have sworn, but then again, itís been a while.  Iím terribly out of practice.

Iím mortally embarrassed all over again and so, so hurt.  Iím wounded so deeply, I clap my hand over my mouth to stifle the cry.  Fright and flight reflex.  I run, run away as fast as I can. Pitiful, old woman.  Iíll never recover from this.  I think one of us will have to leave the ship.  Itíll be me.  I donít think Iíll even be able to function and I certainly wonít be able to work with him. The horror of the rejection is almost more than I can bear.

Iím crying so hard and running so fast that I think Iím going to throw up.  That would be attractive.  The icing on the cake analogy comes to mind, but the visual is too hideous.  Heís calling my name, coming after me.  Why canít the ground open up and swallow me?  I can hear the thud of his feet gaining on me.  I scream at him.  ďGo away, leave me alone.Ē  Iím not looking where Iím going.  Not a smart thing to do.  Mind you, I canít see much through my tears.  I trip and down I go.  Arse over kettle.  I curl up into a ball, begging him not to come near.  Canít he see thereís nothing left?  Itís all gone.  He just snuffed out the last bit of Kathryn.
 

Chakotay.

I run after her as fast as I can. She can really move when she wants to.  Iím calling her name.  She turns and screams at me to leave her alone.  I canít.  Surely she must know that.

Iím nearly there, but she trips and goes down in a heap.  She must have hurt herself sheís not moving.  Oh yes, she is.  Oh spirits, sheís curled up and rocking and moaning.  I donít think.  I just do.  Like I should have done in the first place.  I pick her up and cradle her to me, and just hold her close.

I whisper in her ear and hope she hears me.  ďKathryn, I love you.  Iíve always loved you and always will.  Iím so sorry I said the things I did last night.  Just know that Iíll never leave you and will love you until death and beyond.  I love you. I  love you.Ē  I rock with her and hold her close to my heart.

She starts to uncurl in my arms.  She pushes against my arms and tries to get up and away from me again.  Iím not letting her go.  She begs me, but I just keep telling her I love her.  She has to hear me eventually.  I donít know what else to do.  Sheís not struggling anymore, and is just quietly crying in my arms.  If I can look into her eyes, Iíll know where I stand.  I gently place my fingers under her chin and tilt her head up.  Her eyes are closed.  ďKathryn, open your eyes please. Please, I beg you. I love you.  Please look at me.Ē

Iím beside myself.  I havenít expended so much emotional energy in years and Iím almost totally spent, but Iíll do anything to make this right.  She tries to turn her head away, but I plead with her. ďKathryn, please my love. I need you to see me and I need to see you.  I truly love you with all my heart.  Iíve been trying to find a way to apologise to you all day.  I spent a half hour in the lift crying like a baby.  I was unbelievably cruel to you last night and I donít deserve your forgiveness, but Iím pleading with you to accept my love and a promise that Iíll never hurt you again.  I adore you.  Youíre my warrior woman, brave and beautiful.  Please Kathryn, please.Ē   Iím crying again.
 

Kathryn.

I wanted him to leave me alone.  He canít follow orders either. Now heís scooped me up and is holding me in his arms. Itís the place I most want to be but canít. Heís rocking me and talking, but Iím not listening.  I donít want to hear about how he cares for me but canít love me.

How I have to live a life devoid of his company. I canít bear to hear it so I block my mind, but he wonít stop talking. What is he saying?  He loves me?  No, he doesnít.  He made that abundantly clear last night.  Iím just hearing what I want to hear.

Heís saying it again, and again. I have to get away from here.  This is a torment.  He wonít let me go.  ďPlease Chakotay, let me go. I donít want to hear anymore. Please just let me go. I canít bear it. Please.Ē But he wonít let go.

He tries to turn my head and make me look at him.  Iím afraid.  Yes, the great Kathryn Janeway, destroyer of Borg, Hirogen and other various nasties is afraid, terrified,  Iím almost rigid with fear. If I have to see that look on his face again, Iíll die, I swear.  Heís begging me and my God, heís crying again.  He bends his head and rests his forehead against mine.  Heís trembling.  I think heís afraid too.  I steel myself, pull back and look at him.  Heís looking at me with such hope and love in his eyes and a huge amount of sorrow.

ďDo you really love me?  I donít understand why you had to hurt me so badly.  Even if you donít love me, it was so cruel.Ē  He buries his head in my hair and keeps muttering Ďsorryí over and over again.  ďI know Iíve always kept you at a distance and perhaps I deserved what happened last night.  Iím sorry, but I donít know if I can live with you despising me so much.  I thought if I told you in front of the crew, youíd realise I was serious and wouldnít be as likely to withdraw.  If youíre not sureÖĒ Heís shaking his head and crying hard. Heís having trouble speaking and Iím relieved to see Iím not the only person who does that hiccuppy thing.  ďToo much is at stake. Look whatís happened today. The two most senior officers are crying in each others arms on the holodeck when theyíre supposed to be on duty. This isnít a great example to the crew.Ē

Heís looking at me, taking a few deep breaths to stop his crying. He looks so sad it makes my heart ache.  He touches my cheek and strokes my hair and then ever so gently leans forward and kisses my forehead.  The intimacy and reverence of the gesture almost undoes me.  I want to believe heíll never hurt me again.  I canít imagine not having this man in my life.  He starts to speak, apologising again for his behaviour and assuring me of his love and devotion.  My shattered heart desperately wants this and his soothing words are a balm, but I need to see for myself. I know this man so well and will be able to read the truth in his eyes.

Chakotay.

I canít seem to stop crying.  Now Iím making this God awful gagging noise.  Sheís talking to me, asking me why.  Stop crying, you boob, and talk to the woman before she leaves again.  I take some deep breaths and finally gain some control.  I caress her cheek and stroke her hair, then lean forward and kiss her forehead. Iím just so joyous that sheís allowing me to touch her.

ďKathryn, Iím so sorry about last night.  I have no idea why I did what I did.  It was so unkind and you didnít deserve it.  Thereís no excuse.  As you walked out of the room last night, it hit me, exactly what Iíd done.  Iíve been beating myself up about it ever since.  I do love you, so very much, more than my next breath, and the thought of living my life without you in it is beyond comprehension.  I know I donít deserve it, but do you think you have room in your heart to forgive me?  The shocked look on my face just now was disbelief that you could still care about me after what Iíd done.  I couldnít understand why you were sorry when I was the one who was at fault.  I promise you that from this day forward Iíll never intentionally hurt you again.  I love you, have always loved you and always will.Ē

Sheís looking into my eyes, looking deep into me.  I can see her mind working.  Sheís doing what she always does.  Weighing up the options, her scientistís mind analysing the data.  I let down all the barriers and expose my heart and soul to this amazing woman. Iím so fearful that sheíll decide to cut her losses and run.  Just the thought of it triggers a tear.  She brings her hand up and wipes it away gently.  She looks into my eyes and says it. I close my eyes.
 

Kathryn.

His heart is there totally exposed.  Thereís such love and devotion written in those dark orbs that all doubt is banished.  I feel the pieces of my heart meld together again.  I think to myself there must be an easier way to do this.  I need to sleep for a week Iím so exhausted.

In the end, there really is no choice. I love him, have done for years and canít imagine stopping anytime soon.  It must be real to withstand this barrage of emotions.  He looks terrified.  It wonít do him any harm to realise how close he came to losing it all.  It was a pretty close call.

Enough is enough though.  If I donít put him out of his misery soon, it would be cruel.  There goes a tear.  Itís time.  As I wipe away his tear, I tell him again.  ďChakotay, I love you. Do you think we can make a life together, here, on our ship?  It wonít be easy.  Iím sure the Delta Quadrant has got a few things up its sleeve to test our resolve, but I want to make this work. Will you be my partner in command and in life?Ē

There, itís done.  Canít get more straightforward than that. I feel quite proud of myself for having the guts to do it again, but by the look on his face I think the answer will be very different from last nights.  He has his eyes closed.  Mind you, if he starts to cry again, Iíll be forced to thump him.  No, itís a smile and a hug.  God, that feels good.  He falls back in the sand with me lying on top of him. God, that feels really good, some parts better than others.  Things are looking up, so to speak.
 

Chakotay.

I canít believe it.  Sheís said it again.  In my mind I imagine that ĎGoodí Chakotay has just phasered ĎEvilí Chakotay out of existence.  Weíll never hear from him again, thank the spirits. Iím elated.  I hug her close to me and then fall back into the sand with her body lying full length along mine.

I open my eyes.  Sheís smiling down at me, beautiful thing that she is.  She then does something that has been one of my fantasies for years.  Mind you, anything she might do to me has probably been a fantasy of mine at some point.  She leans over and traces my tattoo with the tip of her tongue.  Iím instantly aroused.  She leans back to looks at me, and by the look on her face my arousal isnít necessarily a bad thing.  She smirks.  I smile and then roll her under me.

ďKathryn, I love you with all my heart and want us to be together forever.  Will you be with me, be mother to my children and grow old with me?Ē  What a smile.  I havenít seen one of those in such a long time.  Sheís nodding and moving closer.  Iím moving closer.  Her face blurs as our lips meet. Magnificent. Her lips are soft but firm and she tastes like coffee and Kathryn.  I hold her close as we kiss and kiss and kiss.

We canít get enough of each other.  I hold her so close, almost as if Iím trying to meld her to me.  Our mouths are open and weíre devouring each other.  Spirits, I nearly blew this.  I still canít believe that in a fit of pique I almost destroyed this.  Thank God she had more sense than me.  It occurs to me we really should lock those doors or someone is going to get an eyeful and thereís holographic sand everywhere.

ďKathryn, weíre going to have to leave or at least change the program.  I have sand in places sand is not meant to be.Ē  I look down at us both.  My tee shirt has disappeared and so have my shoes and socks.  How in heavenís name did she get my shorts undone?  I donít remember that.  Kathryn had barely anything on to begin with and has even less now.  She has magnificent breasts, full and round with rose pink nipples.  I want to devour them too. In fact, all of her looks delicious.

Suddenly the sand turns to grass.  Sheís changed the program.  She pulls away from me, stands and holds out her hand to help me up. Iíd go anywhere with her, especially when she has so few clothes on.  Itís a given that Iíll be panting after her and she knows it.  God, I love her.  As I stand, I pull off my tank.  I donít want her to feel self conscious.  Mind you, the feel of our bare chests together might have been more of a motivation than anything else.  As we hug, I look over her shoulder.

I know this place.  Thatís the tree I used to do my woodwork under.  Her bath is just through those trees. I pull back and look behind me.  Itís the shelter and her talaxian tomatoes.  She has a program of this?  Our home from those wonderful few months when we thought we had all the time in the world.  I look down at her.  Sheís looking at me with a slightly worried expression.  Does she think I wonít approve?  I have to reassure her and Iíve decided that kissing is the perfect answer for everything, so I do just that.

Ah, thatís clinched it.  Kissing is going to be my preferred mode of communication with my captain from now on.  It seems to convey basically most of what I want to tell her.  She also seems to understand exactly what Iím saying.  We obviously speak the same language.  I canít believe she has this program.  Itís just as I remember.  She takes my hand and leads me into the shelter.
 

Kathryn.

Heís on top of me now.  That also feels really good.  Heís smiling down at me.  Those dimples almost do me in.  God, heís gorgeous and heís mine.  I hope he realises heís never going to get away after this.  Apparently he doesnít want to go anywhere.  Heís just asked me to be with him always.  What can a girl say?  Nothing.  Iíll just kiss him. Iím sure heíll figure out the answer from my kiss.

Have his children? Yes please.  God, but I want to see him naked. If the rest of him is as delicious as his chest, Iím in for a feast.  I agree the sand is going to cause problems.  I know where we should make love for the first time.  I hope he agrees and sees the significance.  Itís been one of my fantasies for years.  Four years to be precise.  This is the home of my heart, the little shelter on New Earth.  This is where I left the best part of Kathryn all those years ago, and where Iíll regain her.

Iím showing him my secret. This place has been my solace and my sanity for years.  No-one knows of its existence, but itís time to show him how much he means to me. Weíre both now wearing very few clothes.  The stealth operation to remove his shorts was a success.  He certainly seemed surprised or impressed, Iím not sure which.  I take his hand and lead him into the shelter, glad that all that sand is gone.  Iíve made a few modifications over the years.  My painting equipment is lying on the tables next to his sand paintings. Thereís only one bedroom now.  Mine.  With a really big bed.  Iíd come here some nights when being in the next room to him was too close.

I should explain.  I turn and hug him.  His skin is so warm.  I speak into his shoulder.  ďI programmed this not long after we got back from New Earth.  I couldnít let go.  I was so devastated in those first few days, I could barely function.  So I decided to create a garden like the one we had on New Earth.  At least then I could watch the tomatoes grow.Ē

I look around at my home.  My real home. ďIt just evolved from there.  In a matter of days Iíd recreated the entire area around our home and the shelter as well.  I come here every couple of days, weed the garden, paint and imagine what our life might have been.Ē  I stand on tip toes and kiss him.  His lips are so kissable, and he tastes so good.

I start nibbling his neck.  Heís rubbing his hands up and down my back, sliding his hands under my bikini bottoms.  Time for more stealth.  I reach down and undo the ties on each side of my bikini and voila theyíre gone.  Iím way past being coy.  Iím now slipping my hands down the back of his shorts and running my hand over the cheeks of his buttocks, his erection poking me in my stomach.  I push his shorts and underwear down and weíre both naked.

His body is warm and the contrast between his golden skin and my pale colouring is striking.  I see our reflection in the mirror of my room and weíre beautiful.  I fit perfectly under his chin and our bodies fit together as if moulded for one another.  We move to the bed and collapse on it.  I revel in the feel of him, his heat, his softness and his hardness.

I find it difficult to believe that less than 24 hours ago I was in despair, and now Iím in heaven.  I want him so badly, but Iím so out of practice with seduction I think Iíve forgotten what to do. Letís hope itís like riding a bike, and it will come back to me.  Oh God, when he puts his hands there, oh and there.  Why did I wait so long to do this?
 

Chakotay.

This isnít how I remember the interior of our shelter. My sand paintings are still here, but there are her drawings and paintings as well.  My bedroom is gone.  Thereís her bedroom with a bed the size of a playing field.  She explains why she created this program. If only Iíd known she felt like that.  I thought she was coping so well with our return from exile.  I could hardly make it to the bridge I was so distraught from being plucked from our idyll on New Earth.  I can see how this would have been therapeutic.  I wish Iíd known.  I could have done with some therapy myself at the time.

I remember thinking that she must have been so cold hearted to have come to terms with all of that so easily. It just goes to show how little I really understand this complex woman that I love.  Iím running my hands over her body, and itís beautiful.  My hands canít stay away from her bikini clad behind.  How did that happen? Itís now an unclad behind.  She has her hands down the back of my shorts.  Spirits, Iím so turned on.  If she keeps that up itíll be all over before it begins.  She has no idea how sexy she is when she looks at me like that, wanton but unsure, aroused and coy at the same time.

I get the impression sheís not had that many lovers in her life.  It makes me feel all the more privileged that sheíd share this with me.  My shorts are gone.  How does she do that?  Iíll have to ask her later.  Much later.  Whatís she doing?  Sheís looking at our reflection in the mirror.  What an amazing sight.  Our two bodies are melded together.  Itís hard to see where one begins and one ends, except for the different skin tones.  Her pale skin against my dark skin is one of the sexiest things Iíve ever seen. Too much for me.  We move and collapse on the bed.  I look down at her face.  She looks joyous and thatís almost my undoing.  I want to take this slowly, to savour every moment and sensation, but Iím not sure I can last that long.

I lie over her and kiss my way down her body, her neck and shoulders, down to her breasts.  I worship them, licking and suckling.  I could stay here forever, but the rest of her body beckons.  Her navel, the swell of her belly, the hollow of her hips and the nest of curls that is my final destination.  I could feast for eternity.  I move over her body inhaling her scent, touching and feeling.  Iím so in love with every thing about this woman that Iím almost in sensory overload.  I look up at her.  Her back is arched and her head is thrown back.  Itís a vision that will stay with me forever.  Sheís completely exposed, physically and emotionally. Itís a sight to behold.

She grabs at my head and pulls me up towards her. Her breaths are coming in gasps and her eyes are dark and full of desire.  I decide I have to have her now. I move over her and she lifts her legs and wraps them around my hips. Our eyes are riveted to one anotherís as I slowly enter her. My body is telling me to surge into her, to take her, own her, but she hasnít been with anyone for a long time so I take it slowly, allowing her vagina to stretch slowly.  Itís torture of the most exquisite kind.  Finally Iím deep within her and we stop to relish the moment, still looking deep into each otherís eyes.  I finally know what it is to truly know anotherís soul.  Itís a profoundly moving moment.

Eventually the need to move takes over and we start to rock together in a gentle rhythm, our thrusts getting stronger and stronger as I move deeper and deeper.  My orgasm is almost upon me and I can feel Kathrynís inner muscles starting to grip my penis as she begins to peak.  I want us to come together.  Kathryn is crying out, saying my name over and over.  Itís too much for me. My scrotum tightens and I slam into her one last time.  Her walls clamp down on me as I release into her womb. A fantasy wisps through my mind of a golden child with auburn hair and then Iím back in bed with her, collapsed over her, hugging her close.
 
 
 

Kathryn.

My God, I havenít made love like that; ever.  Heís lying over me.  His body is heavy, but it feels so wonderful.  I breathe in his scent and kiss his neck.  Today has certainly been a day to remember.  How do I manage to get myself into these situations?  If Iíd just followed my heart years ago and told him the truth way back when, it would have saved us all this to-do.  I have to stop this thinking business.  It gets in the way of the doing stuff.

What I want now though is to do that again.  I wonder how long it takes him to recover.  Is he the stud Iíve imagined him to be over the years?  Only one way to find out.  I start to nuzzle and kiss his throat.  My fingers are playing with the hair on the back of his neck.  I give him a gentle shove to roll him over on his back.  I need to be on top for this.  As we change position, he slips from me.  I feel empty, but I know heíll fill me again.  Knowing that is a wonderful feeling.  I kiss his eyes and run my finger down his nose feeling the bump in the middle.  I must ask him how he broke it later.  I trace around his lips, those very kissable lips. I bend forward and nibble at his lower lip.  Itís beautiful and perfect for nibbling.

Now I move down to his chin, his neck, trace my finger along his collar bone.  His skin is soft and warm.  He has a few hairs on his chest and I gently tug at them.  I lean over again and run my tongue over his nipples.  He moans as they harden into little peaks. I move further down, kiss and nibble at his navel, dipping my tongue into it, then follow the trail of sparse hairs to my goal.  Heís impressive, even semi-erect.

I run my hand up and down his shaft a few times and watch as he hardens more.  I push his penis forward and run my tongue up the underside from scrotum to tip.  He moans again.  Iím enjoying this.  A lot.  He smells yeasty, a mixture of both of us and it turns me on. As I lick around the head of his penis, I start to grind myself down on his leg.  I havenít had sex for years, but itís like riding a bike after all and I think Iím going to want to do a lot of biking from now on.  I try and take as much of him in my mouth as I can.  I was never very good at this, but I have every intention of improving my performance with a lot of practice.  Chakotay seems to be enjoying it if his groans and moans are any indication.  Heís getting close.  I can tell.  He reaches down and pulls me up his body, kissing me deeply as I lower myself on to him.  He fills me in every way, my body, my heart and my soul.

Chakotay.

Iím blown away, totally amazed at our lovemaking.  Sheís not a big woman, but we fit perfectly.  It sounds corny, but itís as if we were made for one another.  She rolls us over and starts a foray of her own, kissing and nibbling her way down my body.  She makes love like she does everything else, with total commitment and confidence.  I had no idea my nipples were so sensitive, or my navel.  Oh God, sheís heading south and thatís definitely sensitive. Spirits, that feels so good, but Iím not going to last and I donít want to climax without her.  I drag her body up mine, an experience all in itself.

I canít stop kissing her. She tastes soÖ Kathryn.  She lowers herself on to me.  This is a position that suits her.  On top.  Yes, this is absolutely a suitable position.  I reach up and cup her breasts.  Her head is thrown back and sheís riding me with abandon.  This is another sight Iíll never forget.  Sheís glorious.  I feel her muscles tightening and Iím right with her.  She looks down into my eyes and says  ďI love youĒ.  Itís too much for me.  I surge upward, holding her hips as I pump into her.  My release triggers hers and she lets out a groan and falls forward onto my chest.

ďKathryn, are you alright?  I didnít hurt you, did I?Ē  She turns her head and gives me a wicked smile, shaking her head.

ďYou could never hurt me.  I know you love me too much for that. Thank you.  That was wonderful.  Youíre wonderful, but I really need to sleep.Ē  She looks at me a little warily. ďWill you stay with me tonight?Ē

This I have to sort out straight away.  ďKathryn, Iíll stay with you tonight, tomorrow and all the nights after.  In fact, Iím planning on moving in with you, or, if you prefer, you can move in with me, but your bed is bigger.  If weíre going to do this, I donít want to hide it from the crew or Starfleet or anyone.  If you wish to formalise this relationship, we can marry and do it that way, but whatever we do, from now on weíre together.  Ok?Ē  She is smiling that smile again.

ďWas that a proposal, Commander?  Because if it was, it was a pretty lousy one.  Iím sure you can do better than that.Ē  She was watching me again with a twinkle in her eye.

ďKathryn, light of my life.  Marry me. You are a balm to my soul, the better part of me.  Youíre that which makes me the man I am. Be by my side always and Iíll love you till death and beyond.Ē  She looks as if she were going to cry.  ďIs that better, Captain?Ē

ďOh, much better.Ē  She caresses my cheek. ďOh, and by the way, yes, I will marry you, but it had better be quick.  I havenít had much luck with fiancés over the years.  Do you think Tuvok is doing anything right now?Ē

ďShall we contact him and see if heís free?Ē  I jokingly suggest. Never thinking for a momentÖÖ

ďJaneway to Tuvok.Ē  I canít believe it.  Sheís paging him.  I look at her.  Sheís deadly serious.  ďIím not going to take any risks in losing you, my love.  I couldnít bear it.  If you donít want to do this, youíd better speak up now?Ē

ďTuvok here, Captain.  How may I help you?Ē  Sheís still lying on top of me naked.  Iím beyond words.  Sheís still looking at me, waiting for an answer.  I nod my head.  Yes.  She smiles that wonderful smile that lights up a room.

ďTuvok, if youíre not doing anything at the moment, could you please come to Holodeck One.  I want you to perform a wedding.Ē I could hear the gasps and yelps from the other Bridge crew. ďPerhaps Messrs Paris and Kim and Ms Torres could accompany you.  The Commander and I will need witnesses.  Janeway out.Ē

She is smiling down at me again. Iím in awe and in love and in lust and naked.  I mentally try to calculate how long it takes to get from the Bridge to Deck Six.  We have about 4 minutes.  I sit up and bring her with me.

ďWeíd better get dressed if you donít want the senior staff to get to know you even better than they already do.Ē

We both realise at the same time that the clothing that weíd been wearing is hardly suitable for a wedding so we quickly replicate some casual clothes.

Kathryn looks beautiful in a simple cream dress that falls almost to the floor.  I replicate a pair of cream pants and a white shirt. We wear no shoes.  Iím still flabbergasted.  It was only a matter of hours ago that Iíd thought my life was over, and now Iím about to marry the most exasperating, brilliant, stubborn, beautiful woman I have ever known.  Iím overwhelmed.  Iím staring at her as I hear the doors to the holodeck open.  We both look towards the entrance.
 

Kathryn.

What to wear, what to wear.  I can hardly get married in a bikini. Four minutes he said, and theyíll be hurrying.  We replicate some simple clothes. This moment is so profound that I donít want it complicated by anything, certainly not elaborate dresses and suits. He looks gorgeous, his darker colouring highlighted by his light pants and shirt.  We both have bare feet.  It seems appropriate for some reason.  Nothing false, no enhancements, nothing extraneous.  Just us.

I wonít be able to relax until this is over.  I fear an attack, or a hull breach, something that will snatch this happiness from me at the last minute.  I feel I have the right to be a little paranoid when I consider my past.  Talk about unlucky in love.  But today that is going to change.

The doors open and Tuvok walks in followed by the senior staff, Neelix, Seven and then most of the crew.  I can understand why theyíd all want to be here for this.  They all have a stake in this marriage.  Chakotayís and my relationship has always been a barometer for the emotional well-being of the ship.  Command team happy, everybody happy, command team sad, everybody sad. BíElanna approaches and embraces both of us in turn.  She hands me a peace rose.  ďI made a detour via the hydroponics bay.  I thought you might like to carry just one blossom.Ē  I thank her with another embrace.  Weíre going to be good friends.  Harry shakes Chakotayís hand and gives me a tentative kiss on the cheek.  He has tears in his eyes.  Neelix is pumping both of our hands.  He better stop soon or my shoulder is going to dislocate.  Seven offers her congratulations but I think sheís a little bewildered at all the fuss.  Iíll try to explain it to her later.  Should be an interesting conversation.

Tom approaches last.  He gives Chakotay a solid embrace and then turns to me.  ďCaptain, I canít tell you how happy we all are for you and the Commander.  Our love and best wishes are with you. We thought you might need these.Ē  He opened his hand and there lie two gold bands, each embossed with the pattern of Chakotayís tattoo.  Iím overawed and profoundly grateful.

ďOh Tom, theyíre beautiful.  This is incredibly thoughtful of you.  Thank you.  To be honest, we hadnít really thought about the practicalities.  Chakotay only proposed about ten minutes ago.Ē

Tom leans forward and whispers in my ear.  ďI replicated them with the rations I just won.  There were a few left over.  They should keep you in coffee for a few weeks.  No doubt youíll need it.Ē  Heís a cheeky bastard, but Iím a wake up to him.  He really is just a romantic at heart.  I kiss him on the cheek and thank him again.  He knows I know.

 I smile up at my lover/fiancé.  ďMr Tuvok, shall we get this show on the road?Ē

ďCertainly, Captain.  Would you and the Commander please take your places?Ē  We move to stand in front of Tuvok and the crew move to surround us.  It feels like a protective embrace.  I sense their love and respect and it warms my heart.  I know Iím doing absolutely the right thing.  I take Chakotayís hand.  We weave our fingers together, look at one another and then both turn towards Tuvok.

He begins. ďWe are gathered here in the presence of crew and family to join together Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay in matrimonyÖÖÖÖÖÖ.
 

Chakotay.

Seven minutes and forty five seconds and itís done.  I am now the happiest man in the known universe.  I am Kathryn Janewayís husband, which of course means that Kathryn Janeway is my wife. What a rush.  It seems like an eternity ago that in this very same Holodeck, I was saying those dreadful things to her.  Just the thought of it makes my eyes tear.  I look down at her.  She hasnít let go of my hand since the ceremony began.  I give it a squeeze. She looks up with sparkling eyes and joy written all over her face.

The cheering has just died down after our first kiss when the crew erupted into cheers and applause.  I think that spells out loud and clear what they think of this union.  My heart wants to burst.  The crew are all coming forward now to offer us their congratulations.  I notice Mike Ayala.  He doesnít look so smug now.  He makes his way towards us, smiles at Kathryn and leans down and kisses her on the cheek.  I see him close his eyes in regret.  Kathryn is oblivious.  He straightens and puts his hand forward to shake mine. I should be jealous but Iím so rapturously happy Iím feeling generous.  I also know what it is to love Kathryn Janeway and have that love unrequited.  I let go of Kathrynís hand and take his.  I pull him forward into an embrace.  He offers his congratulations and I thank him.  We look at each other and know the score.  He nods his head and walks away.  Kathryn looks at me questioningly.  I take her hand again and give it a reassuring squeeze and whisper in her ear that Iíll tell her later.

 I donít know how Neelix does it, but all of a sudden thereís food and music and a full blown party/reception is in progress.  Tom and Harry have managed to organise a table for us and the senior staff.  Candles, wine and flowers are conjured out of thin air. Neelix bustles over with some food, which actually tastes quite good.  Mind you, Iím so blissfully happy that pleeka rind and leola root would probably taste good.  We sit down and eat.

I keep catching myself looking to my right and watching Kathryn as she talks and laughs with Tom and BíElanna.  I look down to my left and find Tuvok watching me.  He nods his head at me, an Ďalmostí smile on his lips.  I know it shouldnít matter, but Iím pleased that he approves and also somewhat relieved.   Heís important to Kathryn and for that reason his opinion is important to me.  Harry is just sitting there beaming.  Seven is still looking slightly bewildered.  Iím sure nothing like this ever happened in the collective.  The Doctor is pontificating about the health benefits of bonded relationships and how weíll both live longer lives being married than being on our own.  I donít need any convincing of that.  I plan on spending as many years as I can with this woman.

Tom stands and taps the side of his wine glass with a fork to get everyoneís attention.  The room quietens.  ďLadies and Gentlemen, I think I can say without a doubt that today is one of the happiest occasions we have experienced in the six years of our journey and might I add, one that has been a long time in coming.  What a relief.  We can relax at last.  No more turbo lift malfunctions, holodeck or ready room door defects, no need to ensure strategically vacant tables in the mess hall and Sandrines, and the Engineering Department can finally stop sabotaging your replicator, Captain, so you donít have to eat in the Commanderís quarters all the time.  By the way, all winners of the Captain/Commander Pool,  your winnings will be transferred to your accounts by start of Alpha shift tomorrow.Ē  BíElanna rolls her eyes at me and gives Tom a kick under the table.  Kathryn is still smiling, with a slightly startled look on her face.  She leans across and whispers in my ear that we should have enough rations to eat in our quarters for a month.

ďKathryn, you bet on us?Ē  She nods her head.

ďAbsolutely.  We were a sure thing.Ē

I canít stop smiling.  Sheíll never cease to amaze me.  I focus on Tom again.  ďAs self appointed Master of Ceremonies, I would like to propose a toast to the Bride and Groom.  Would everyone be upstanding and charge your glasses.  Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay, we, your crew and family, wish you the all the happiness you deserve for all the years of your lives.  However,
there are four things you must never do.  Lie, steal, cheat or drink.
But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love.  If you must steal, steal away from bad company.  If you must cheat, cheat death.  And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.Ē

Tom and the rest of the crew raise their glasses and sip. ďSlainteĒ
 

Kathryn.

I have been married for two hours now and the joy and contentment is settling over my soul and I feel more alive and at peace than I have in years.  Tom has appointed himself Master of Ceremonies and has just given an outrageous speech and a beautiful toast.  I canít believe my replicator has been deliberately vandalised all these years, although I should have realised.  I could build a transporter from scratch with two tins and some baling wire.  My apparent inability to fix a replicator should have rung alarm bells.  All those late night visits to his quarters for coffee were manipulated by the crew.  I should be upset, but they all look so pleased with themselves itís difficult to be cross.

I look down the table at the people who mean the world to me.  My chosen family. Tom and BíElanna are laughing at something Chakotay is saying.  Harry is beaming.  Neelix is chattering at Tuvok, whoís looking slightly pained, but only I would notice.  The Doctor appears to be talking to nobody in particular, but that doesnít seem to be deterring him.  Seven just looks confused still.  I really am going to have to have a talk with her. My visual journey brings me back to the man on my left.  My husband. We look into each otherís eyes and the room fades around us.  Iíll never forget this day.  The day our lives began.  The noise of the revelry slowly returns.  We smile at one another and rejoin the party.  Life is wonderful.

           The End
 
 




 

Some flowers used to make the contest graphics from