AN: Full disclosure I am not a Star Trek fan per se, which most likely will be painfully clear while reading, needless to say I tried with... but any feedback on how to make things more authentic is greatly appreciated. I am madly in love with J/C and decided to try a little post-endgame scenario of my own. I'm Just taking these characters out to play, everything and everyone belongs to the keepers and creators of the show. Rated K. Enjoy.

"Captain!" A voice called out from across the room, cutting the tension. Reminded of her rank, Kathryn straightened herself. Turning her head in acknowledgment, she passed a glance over her shoulder toward the door. "If you'll come this way."

Squaring her shoulders, she turned back to him, self-willed. Stubbornly raising her chin yet keeping her eyes downcast. "I'm sorry, Chakotay." Pausing to clear the emotion from her throat. "I have to go."

Warring with himself, Chakotay wrestled his fingers into fists, knowing that now was not the time. Knowing their moment had stalled somewhere in the Delta Quadrant. "Take care of yourself, Kathryn."

With a subtle nod, she swallowed thickly, still refusing to meet his eye.

"Commander." Another voice called out with an air of impatience from the other side of the room.

"Coming," Chakotay answered and risked protocol by turning his back on her, his Captain and his heart.

July, 2378

Chakotay inhaled deeply as he mounted the final step towards the entrance, hoping the bolus of air would cushion the ache in his chest and slow his rapidly beating heart. As the memory of their final goodbye faded, he reminded himself that tonight was a night for celebration, to honour Voyager and her crew and the prosperous life ahead, not to dwell on heartache and sacrifice. Pushing aside the emotions he was - once upon a time - so good at keeping in check, he looked to his left and gave a dimpled grin, linking arms with the woman next to him. "I think we're late," he rushed as he picked up his pace towards the Federation Ballroom.

A warm glow had replaced the cold, sterile Starfleet aesthetic and a soft, simplistic decor gilded the reception hall. A gentle piece of music played over the happy hum of the growing crowd, creating an intimate setting for their reunion. Chakotay halted at the entrance, scanning the sea of faces before him; so many he knew and some he did not, although there was vague recognition from stories and holoimages; they were the family and friends of the crew. The grip on his arm tightened. "Wow!" He looked over to see his sister's eyes, wet with pride, "Chakotay, this is incredible." A humble smile touched his lips as he tucked his chin, grateful for her presence at his side.

Chakotay lifted his eyes, returning his gaze to the crowd in front of them, and his breath hitched as he found her. There, across the room, flanked by several fleet officials and what he assumed were her own family and friends, stood Captain Kathryn Janeway.

Over three months had passed since he last saw her, and even after all that time, he was struck, mesmerized by her all over again. The dress she wore was stunning. The fabric was a deep shade of grey and looked sharp and metallic but also as soft as velvet. It tastefully hugged her body, making his fingertips burn with a desire to touch her. Her hair was shorter, much like it had been when she first decided to cut it, telling him then that it felt like one of the only things about herself she could control. Her skin was glowing, giving off a bronzy hue that could only be achieved by spending days in the sun, and a nostalgic smile lifted his cheek as a flash of New Earth danced through his memory. And when she turned her head, he was taken aback by her smile, wide and relaxed; his stomach clenched at the sight of it, throwing him back to a time when she would look at him with a smile just like that, easy and free.

As he drank in her presence, a touch of concern furrowed his brow; her rejuvenation appeared to be only skin deep. Chakotay could easily see the changes to her frame, smaller and harder, and she now resembled the lithe, fit and fighting Kathryn Janeway that had chased him into the badlands nearly eight years ago. The tension and fatigue that had worked their way into her features during their time in the Delta Quadrant had dissipated somewhat, but he could tell from her posture, her subtle movements, that she was drawn – tired.

Beside him, Sekaya gasped softly, breaking the spell and pulling him from his reverie. A warm smile dimpled her cheek, and she spoke quietly - "that's her" - more to herself than her brother, as her eyes focused on Captain Janeway. Chakotay nodded unnecessarily before inhaling deeply, praying for resolve to get him through this. He turned his attention back to the room, and a vigorous gesture caught his attention. His heart leapt with joy, and he grinned in response, it was Harry Kim.

An abrupt movement in her peripheral vision tugged at her attention. Turning her head, she spotted Harry Kim across the hall, gesticulating wildly to catch someone's attention. Ever curious, her brow quirked, and Kathryn leaned away from her conversation to gain a better view of the ballroom. Chakotay. Her heart swelled at the sight of her first officer, and her hand unconsciously settled over her stomach. Straightening her spine, she tried to coax her attention back to the voices surrounding her as her pulse hastened, fluttering in her neck. The noise that filled the room dulled to the ambient sound of Voyager's engines.

With her eyes locked on the viewscreen, Kathryn blindly reached her hand over the arm of her chair to grasp Chakotay's wrist. Despite how she felt about him - and them - she knew in her heart that they were better together. They had been through so much, endured more than any two people could, and had come so close. Together they managed to get their crew, their people, home. And together they had made it to the finish line only to cross it alone. Given the time and space, she knew she would weep over this moment, but for now, they were about to cross the threshold into Earth's orbit.

"All hands." Chakotay turned to look at her, moving his hand to link his fingers with hers. Kathryn's eyes sparkled with unshed emotion. "It is my privilege to inform you all that we have reached Earth. We are preparing the ship for docking with McKinley Station. Go to blue alert and report to code blue stations." She swallowed tightly, "and welcome home!"

Before the comm ended, the entire bridge crew heard the jubilant roar that erupted throughout the ship, and she smiled triumphantly. As relief flooded her, she closed her eyes, desperate for a moment of private reprieve. And when Chakotay squeezed her hand and quietly whispered, "welcome home, Kathryn," it stung, the moment too bittersweet to hold onto, and she pulled her hand away, lacing her fingers in her lap. "Mr. Paris," her tone void of emotion, "take us in." Setting her jaw with a heavy sigh she watched their careful approach towards the space station.

Kathryn's chin gave a subtle quiver as her eyes refocused, blinking back into the present moment. Only two people in the entire galaxy could read her so perfectly without a spoken word; one had just joined the celebration and was walking across the ballroom to join Harry Kim and his parents. The other was standing directly across from her, staring with concern stitched into her brow. They held each other's gaze for a beat before Kathryn ended their wordless conversation with a roll of her eyes, turning her attention to Admiral Blye and hoping no one else noticed her lapse. Gretchen Janeway continued to watch her daughter with a soft, wistful smile pressed to her lips.