DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.

Something in Endgame disturbed me. Something about Janeway. This came to me. Helped me understand. Hope you like it...

Crippled Queen (Endgame coda)

by Djinn

The parades are long over. I stare at a sky no longer filled with fireworks and laser images. I have survived the debriefs, the speeches, the medals, the inquiries. And my crew has survived them. All of my crew. Star Fleet was not interested in prosecuting my former Maquis crewman. They wanted only to laud us. After the Dominion War, the Federation needed heroes, needed a celebration. We were it.

I sip at my coffee. It is bitter. Fifty days ago, I could not believe I would ever give this nectar up. But already it has gone sour. It has come to represent Voyager and everything that meant for me. Everything that is gone. I can see how the memories would have turned bitter for Admiral Janeway, because already I feel as though I am losing my grasp on a feeling, a way of life that I thought would be with me always. My family is dispersed. And I am alone.

And that is the greatest irony of all. That, I think, is what Admiral Janeway was really trying to prevent. Winding up alone. And bitter. And damaged. I couldn't imagine becoming her. Now I see her face in the mirror daily. Threatening me with her loneliness.

I know that she lied. She lied about the most important thing of all. Why I had to save Seven. She told me that Chakotay would never recover. But I've considered that as I've watched Chakotay and Seven together. I've thought of what the Admiral said. And she was not thinking of him. The person that was destroyed when Seven died was Admiral Janeway, not Chakotay. I know him. Perhaps better than I know anyone. He has the gift of great love. It is a part of him. And he knows how to mourn. And to move on. I've seen him do it. I've seen him mourn us. And I've seen him move on.

I think of her, that Admiral Janeway, and what it must have been like to watch for three years while the two people she cared the most for discovered each other, fell ever deeper into love. And I know now what she wouldn't say. I know that it killed her inside. For she loved them both. Truly loved them. But they had come to represent too much to her to ever just be a recipient of her affection.

Perhaps I should stop saying "she" and "her" when referring to myself. I should be brave, if only in the privacy of my own log. I loved them both. Yes, that is better. More honest. More raw. I loved them both.

Chakotay was the person I would have loved if I had been afraid enough. Afraid that the future I wanted, a future back on Earth, would never happen. He represented giving up that dream. The best man I have ever known, will ever know, and I made him into my white flag. Pitiful.

And Seven. The person I would have loved if I had not been afraid. I acted as if I had a mother's affection for her, but it went so much deeper than that. I loved her. I had freed her, helped her find her own way. I had wanted so much for her. For us. But I was afraid. Afraid to reach out to her for love. I was the strong one, the one that was leading her. How could I risk it? How could I lose myself in her? Assimilation would have been sweet. But I was afraid.

And now they are together. I know what she is feeling, or at least a small portion of it. Even as a neophyte in the way of emotions, Seven probably feels a thousand times more than I have ever allowed myself to experience. But I remember the heady feeling of Chakotay's passion. I know what it is like to have his love. I had it for years. But I threw it away. That he is my friend at all speaks volumes of his capacity for love, for forgiveness.

And he forgave me so much. Those fights we had during our first encounter with the Borg, the later arguments. I never fought fair with him. I used his love against him so many times. And kept him close to me even though I knew that what I could give him would never make him whole. I slept with him long after I had closed down emotionally. He kept hoping, but eventually even he gave up. And Seven was waiting. What a prize for such suffering.

I have a little secret. In my private holodeck files is a recreation of New Earth. A New Earth that we were never rescued from. I used to go there often. It was my haven long before that fair town was created. There I could be a Janeway that hadn't changed, hadn't grown cold and obsessed. There I could love Chakotay as I was meant to do. I could tell a hologram all the things that I could never--would never--say to the real Chakotay. I could be free, lost in a time when we were happy. When Seven didn't exist. For either of us.

Seven. My heart constricts when I think of her. I know that Admiral Janeway told her of her future. Spoke of the death that waited for her if we had continued on the path I had chosen. But I don't think that is all she told her. No, Seven learned every sort of truth that day. I know because she has looked at me differently since that time. She has avoided me. I used to think it was because I disgusted her. And I do. But not for the reason I first thought. Why would a Borg care what sex her lover was? She doesn't hate me for loving her. She hates me for being afraid to love her. All my lessons of humanity, and I was too cowardly to show her the most important thing of all. But maybe that was my gift to Chakotay. An unspoiled canvas on which to paint his love. I envy Seven. And I envy him.

If I were an honest woman, I would not have just paused the log to get a tissue. I would have let that be recorded too. My tears. But I am not an honest woman. Captain Janeway doesn't cry. I am tough. I am focused. And later I will be hard and obsessed. But with what? The next time, when I am old and haunted by memories, what will I change then? Will I go back even further? Run to the time before Chakotay and Seven become involved? Will I try to make her fall in love with me? Will I try to make him happy?

But no. I will not interfere again. I will not take such a risk with the future. But maybe Admiral Janeway said that too. And she did it anyway just like I might. Perhaps I've done it many times. Altered the past only to find out that the end result was the same. No matter what I do, I am alone. No matter what I change, that remains the same.

But I think that I will not make the same mistake that my older self made. For I will have the years she didn't to sit here in safety and analyze what has happened. She had the luxury of sixteen years of denial while she brought her family home. And she brought mine home too. I owe her for that.

But I pity her for that too. She was ready to die. She wanted to die. She could not wait for it. I don't want to be that way. I don't want to die alone, with only a Borg for company. Two crippled queens waiting for the end. Hoping that this time things will change.

I don't know how many times an Admiral Kathryn Janeway has gone back to the past. Knowing me, it is many. But I know it is time to stop blaming the past. For the fault lies in a place much closer at hand. The blame lies inside of me. I am alone because I cannot love. There I have said it. I cannot love. Not the right way, not the healthy way. Not the way that makes you less alone than you were to begin with. I know that now. I can't blame anyone but myself. If I want to change the way things happened, I would have to change myself. And I know that isn't going to happen by going back in time. I can't change the future by going to the past. But maybe, I can change the past by the way I act in the future. I've been reading a lot of temporal mechanics. Time is far more fluid than we truly understand. What we do now ripples out in all directions. Forward...and backward. There really is no time like the present. Or rather all times are the present. Everything happens at once.

I can work with that. I can try to learn how to open up. To accept the love people want to give me. It won't be easy. It really is against my nature. But maybe, little by little, I can let them in. Become just a shade less closed to the possibility of loving someone. And maybe then the memories of a love that could have been and love that never will be, won't seem so bitter. And neither will this coffee.

Save log. Janeway out.

FIN