AS LOVERS

Her eyes shot open. The first thing she noticed was the dull ache in her head, and the blurred myriad of color swimming before her. As the world slowly began to sharpen into focus, B'Elanna Torres's thoughts danced back to her last memory-- Janeway, eyes cold, lips set into a grim line, and the sharp orange beam tearing out of her phaser. It bathed Janeway in a demonic light, reflected in her blazing eyes. Torres had felt her lips curl into a snarl... she could feel Chakotay, pressed up against her, tense with a sharp intake of breath... Then the fire was everywhere, blinding her, tearing at her...

Then nothing.

She sat up abruptly, muscles jerking into action before they were ready. A cry of pain escaped her lips, even as she tried to sort out her surroundings. The alcove was dark, shadowed. The only light came from the containment ring, obviously a forcefield generator. This was a cell of some kind.

Yawning out beyond the glowing forcefield barrier was an empty control room. Torres strained to see more of the room beyond the encasing walls of the alcove, but could not see much farther than the area of panels directly in front of the cell.

Torres suddenly became aware of another presence in the cell with her, and tensed, catching her breath. Her eyes flickered back into the darkness. A shadowed form was lying in the corner of the cell, its breath slow and steady in the stillness. Torres inched closer, straining to make out the person's features. It was too small to be Chakotay...

She nearly cried out when she recognized Janeway. Janeway's body was limp, her head lolled against her shoulder. Her arms and legs were splayed to her sides, and her red hair was in a tangle beneath her. Torres noted that she appeared uninjured.

No, Torres amended when she noticed the singed tank top. She felt a twinge of smug relief that Janeway hadn't come out of conflict unscathed, then anger that Janeway had come out of the conflict at all. I'll kill the bitch! Torres thought, quickly and quietly scrambling across the cell to the other woman.

She hesitated a moment, expecting the Terran woman's eyes to suddenly snap open, for the human's hands to suddenly lock around her throat. After a long moment of watching the other woman breath softly in sleep, Torres allowed herself a smile. Nothing.

A Klingon would wake her up, challenge her to an honest fight.

But I'm only half Klingon, Torres thought with a slight ripple of triumph that her Terran blood had proved an asset for once.

She deftly moved forward and straddled the other woman's torso. Janeway drew in a sharp breath, and Torres quickly jerked the other woman's hands to the floor and positioned her knees on top of them. Janeway's eyes crept open at the sudden weight, and shot wide open when the hands compressed around her throat.

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"Chakotay, Janeway, Torres... missing. The rest? Dead. Now what the hell do we do?" Kim demanded. "We can't carry through on the ship phase of the plan without Janeway, and we don't know what happened to Chakotay!"

"You worry too goddamn much, Harry, you know that?" Tom retorted, reaching up to slip another grape into Annika's mouth. Her lips lingered around his fingers for a long moment before sliding off in a painfully slow and exaggerated motion. She curled closer to his body as he juggled her on his knee.

Kim flashed her an annoyed glance, which she answered with a coy flicker of her lashes. He was uncomfortably aware of the delectable bouncing of her breasts, distracting him constantly throughout the conversation. Sometimes he swore Tom and Seven did it intentionally to him. Gods, just because he refused to take place in Annika's little "seven-on-one" a few years ago, she'd decided to make his life a living hell.

"What happens if she's dead?" Kim asked, ripping his eyes away from Seven's breasts.

" Then life will go on, Harry," Tom told the younger man. " She's not the main issue here-- what matters is that Chakotay's out of the way. If Janeway's alive, she'll lead us. If she's dead, we'll find someone else."

What, like you? Kim thought with a sneer. He spoke aloud, "What happens if Chakotay and Torres come back? Seska will slit our throats personally."

"In any case, Seska won't be the one to kill us," Tom shot back. "Hell, if anything happens, I'll make sure Seska's the first one to die. Besides," he paused a moment for full impact, plucking up another grape to feed to Annika, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

"Some reassurance," Kim guffawed, sinking reluctantly back onto the chair behind him. Paris's quarters fell into silence, broken only by Paris as he murmured unintelligible sweet nothings to Annika.

The fucking tramp, Kim thought, watching her with ill disguised contempt, at the same time feeling the unwelcome stirring of lust.

Annika Hansen, bouncing on Paris's knee, smiled sweetly at Harry, sensing the time would soon come when she could break through the boy's stone wall.

She leaned back into the warmth of Paris's chest. And soon enough, Tommy, she thought, The Alliance will erase your sorry ass.

Once she had Kim, she could do it. She could make her final report to Seska.

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She didn't know who was strangling her. All she knew was that someone was strangling her, and that her head was rapidly feeling lighter and lighter. Kathryn Janeway tried to reach up and tear the hands from her throat, but found her arms pinned solidly down to the hard floor. She tried to move, but her entire body down to her thighs was crushed solidly to the floor. She felt a flicker of panic when she realized she was helpless.

She struggled against the weight, eyes snapping open to view the sneering countenance of B'Elanna Torres, the half-breed. Aren't you dead? She thought briefly, before descending into a mindless, futile struggle. Torres apparently wasn't dead, but Janeway soon would be if she couldn't fight this woman off.

After struggling in vain, clawing with her feet against the smooth floor to try to gain some leverage, her thoughts began to blur. Her strength began to dissolve as darkness closed in around her, and a frightening lightheadedness crept up her neck and into her temples. She thought distantly, It can't end like this. Not like this. Not without a fight...

And suddenly the hands were gone, the weight was gone. She was vaguely aware of some angry shouts, and a loud crash. She lay there, powerless, choking in gasps of frantic breath, her head throbbing as the blood rushed back to it. Her arms were limp at her sides, and the floor felt cold against her exposed skin.

As her thoughts slowly regained their clarity, her mind flickered over the last events. The mutiny had begun. She'd shot Chakotay and Torres herself. She'd been careless, and gotten herself injured. She remembered slumping down against Chakotay's body, feeling his heart beat, wondering how he could still be alive. She remembered the world fading around her.

Two near death experiences in a row. You're making quite a record for yourself, she thought.

Then she remembered that Torres was still there.

She shot up, ignoring the violent pain that exploded in her temples. In the far corner of this... room, the half-breed struggled in the restraining arms of three-- what were they?-- humanoid aliens of some sort.

Janeway managed to get her feet under her, and pushed herself up, only to immediately stumble back against the wall as though her legs were rubber. An alien's head snapped around, and he started towards her with an unintelligible shout. She stared at him, befuddled, as he reached down and yanked her up by one of the arms, then hauled her over to the others. She stumbled unsteadily after him. He practically had to drag her.

When he released his grip upon her arm, she nearly collapsed. She put a palm flat against the wall to steady her spinning vision.

The alien shouted something, gesticulating wildly with his hands. Torres, her arms still being gripped by two wary alien guards, glared at him and snapped, "If that's alien for 'I'm a goddamn bastard', I agree!"

Janeway shot her a cryptic glance, but didn't say anything. Her eyes were cloudy. She looked dazed.

Torres scowled. If those alien sons of bitches had just arrived a few minutes later...

With a shout, the aliens began to drag her out the door. She shot a glance over her shoulder, and noticed Janeway being hauled after her. Torres fought against the arms, then gave up and followed Janeway's lead, offering no resistance.

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Janeway and Torres were shuffled down a metal corridor, at the end of which lay a small room. As they entered, Chakotay, bedraggled and slightly worse for wear, looked up at them from one of the three steel chairs in the middle of the room. His tunic was charred from Janeway's phaser blast, and a red smear of blood caked his visible skin. Janeway avoided his eyes as she and Torres were shoved into the chairs adjacent to his.

The guards positioned themselves near the door, weapons at ready. Chakotay smouldered silently at these silent captors, and at the woman sitting next to him, who, except for a fortunate twist of fate, would have murdered him today. Janeway, for her part, watched the guards without sparing him a glance.

" Who are they?" Torres whispered next to him. He glanced over at the half-breed, and noticed the thin trickle of dark blood from her nose.

" They won't say. I tried to ask some questions, but they didn't take it very well," he replied. " Did they knock you around?"

Torres gritted her teeth. " We had a disagreement," she flicked her eyes angrily towards Janeway, who ignored her entirely, " and they unfortunately came a moment too soon."

" Soon?" His eyes slipped back over to Janeway, and he noticed the angry red lines around her neck. He didn't have time to react before the door slid open, and a tall, olive-skinned alien emerged from the corridor.

Chakotay half rose from his chair, and the guards snapped their weapons towards him. He reluctantly sank back down. " I'm Captain Chakotay of the Alliance Warship Voyager. Who are you, and what do you want from us?"

The alien eyed him for a moment, sheer distaste on his features, before replying, " Fair questions, captain. I'm Dar Varatt, of the Irette, and from your tone, I'd surmise you're angry."

Chakotay smiled blandly, and, sarcasm lacing his words, replied, " You're quite perceptive, Varatt. I do object to being held captive without a word of explanation."

The alien's smile held the same brand of contempt. " You should be on your knees thanking me, captain. We saved your miserable lives." His dark eyes narrowed. " For now."

" And I'm grateful to you for saving us," Chakotay said, straining to effect a more neutral tone. " But that doesn't explain why you are holding us here. Just what do you want?"

" I think I am the one who deserves an explanation," Varatt retorted, eyes glittering as he took a step closer to the trio. " Why are you on our planet? What are you doing here?"

Chakotay blinked. " We weren't aware that this planet was inhabited. Our sensors didn't detect you."

Varatt smirked. " A likely story. But just to inform you, we are cloaked from hostile oursiders-- such as yourselves. So if you expect your people to come and find you, I'm afraid you'll be dissapointed."

" I'm sorry you have the impression we are hostile, however, I assure you, we mean--"

Varatt took another step forward, and demanded, " We have fifteen dead bodies lying in our medical bay, fifteen of your own people. You mean to tell us you are not hostile, when you murder your own kind?"

Janeway stirred beside him. Chakotay looked over and glowered at the clear amusement written on her features. Her eyes slipped over to his, seeming to demand, How are you going to talk your way out of this one?

" That... bloodshed was not of my initiative. Certain... members of my crew took it upon themselves to stage a mutiny on planet. We're fortunate it stopped here." As the words came out of his mouth, doubts stirred within him, and he glanced questioningly at Janeway, wondering if the sudden coup was confined to the away mission, or if there was a wider conspiracy on the ship itself. How could you have done this, you fool? he silently raged at her. We could have resolved everything if you'd just kept your damn temper in check.

" A mutiny?" Varatt's tone reflected his sudden curiousity. " Of what nature?"

" Oh, why don't you tell them, Commander Janeway?" Chakotay said mildly.

Janeway looked at him coldly, then at Varatt. " I really don't see the need to divulge any more information until he tells us what he wants with us... Captain." She said the title with disdain.

Varatt drew away from her. His dark eyes raked over the three prisoners, then he nodded to himself. " All in due time." He turned away from them, and jerked his head towards the door. The guards came forward again, and gestured the three to rise.

As they emerged into the dark corridor, Janeway could only hope that they wouldn't put the three in a cell together. Otherwise, their Irette captors might as well have left her dying on the ground.

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Kim didn't remember just what time it was when he started drinking, but it was 0330 when he stopped. It took a few minutes for his vision to clear enough to read the chronometer. He felt nauseated, yet strangely euphoric. Through a vague fog, he heard the chime of his door. He didn't remember calling for it to open, but he must have, because Annika stood before him, in all her glory. Her blonde hair spilled down around her shoulders, and her dark blue eyes drank him up. He didn't hear the words she spoke, but he knew in that moment she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. A siren. An enchantress.

" Annika..." He whispered into the air, and his lips were pressing hers. So soft, so pliable.

A warm haze descended over him, in which a moment of clarity came as she whispered hoarsely, " I knew you couldn't resist me. I knew it."

The coarse sheets grazed his skin. Her soft body brushed against his, bringing his senses to live. A low moan came from his throat. And then it was over.

She was standing again, and the cold air touched his skin. He watched her back, so long and smooth, caressed by her blonde locks as she pulled her clothing back on.

" Seven..."

" Don't call me that." Her voice was strangely sharp and clear, and the glinting eyes she turned to him were those of a stranger. " My name is Annika. Annika Hansen."

He let his head thump back against the pillow. " Whatever."

She scoffed.

" You men," she hissed, turning around and prowling towards him, eyes dangerously narrowed. " You see me as some vacuous little slut, don't you? Seven... Seven... You always call me that. I hear people snicker when they call me that, yet they always come to my bed when night approaches. You're all hypocrites, the lot of you."

He shook his head, suddenly frustrated by his strange lack of comprehension, wondering if it was the alcohol or something else. " What are you talking about?"

She smiled maliciously, and her eyes gleamed in the starlight. Her hands slipped up to her breasts, and she flickered her eyes towards him coyly. " I'm a goddess, aren't I? I could have any man, any time." Her smile shifted to the smile of a madwoman. " You're all fools. You think fucking me gives you power over me... But you don't see it actually gives me power over you! Here you and Paris have been, talking as though I'm deaf, as though everything passes over my head. And I let you think that. I allowed you to think for all these years that simply because I enjoy sex, that I enjoy pleasure, that I'm a damn fool. I was a prostitute of my own choice, not because I was too stupid or too poor to do anything else. But you didn't consider that, did you? Well, let me clear you of that misconception. Let me clear every fucking person on this ship of that misconception. And I'll do so very shortly. You'll see, god damn you!"

She whirled away from him and stormed off towards the exit. Uncomprehending, and unwilling to try to understand, Kim finally called, " Maybe we could do this again sometime."

He let his head slump back to the pillow. " Crazy bitch."

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"Why did you do it?" Chakotay demanded after a long silence. Torres sat near him, alternating between glaring at the floor and glaring at Janeway. Chakotay had given her explicit orders not to touch Janeway—otherwise she'd be doing a lot more than shooting Janeway nasty looks.

Across the cell, Janeway glanced up at him and scoffed. "You had the nerve to set me up after all that talk about reconciliation, and now you turn around and ask me why I tried to kill you?"

"What are you talking about?" He demanded. "I never tried to set you up."

"Are you telling me it's just a coincidence you delayed me in the mess hall long enough for Seska to ambush me in my quarters?"

"Yes."

"Well, I'm not buying that." She shot to her feet and began to pace. "Then, after I narrowly escape what was clearly an effort by Seska to kill me, you confine me to quarters."

"I confined her, too."

"Irrelevant."

"Not to me!" Chakotay shot back. He stood up, and Torres leaped up beside him. "What you did was stupid—you might have torn the whole ship apart!"

"Wisen up, Chakotay, I wasn't the one who orchestrated the whole thing." She leaned back against the wall, folding her arms smugly across her chest. "The mutiny would have happened anyway, whether or not I gave my stamp of approval."

"You mean there's more happening on the ship?" Chakotay demanded.

Janeway fell into silence. Then, after a moment, "I'm not sure."

"You're not sure?"

"—And even if I were, I certainly wouldn't tell you."

"And what if I told you we had already anticipated this mutiny, that we'd seen it coming for months? That Seska was already on the ship, preparing for your little insurrection?"

"I'd ask you why, except for a lucky twist of fate, you and the half breed would both be dead now?"

He fell silent.

She studied him intently, then took a cautious step forward. "Tell me, then—if you weren't trying to have me killed, what was that all about?"

"What?"

"The mess hall, the way you acted. Friendly one minute, cold the next."

"I guess I forgot for a few moments who you were." He paused, eyes glittering. "But I won't make that mistake again. Not after today"

"Good," Janeway said coldly. "See that you don't."

Chakotay's eyes shifted over to meet Torres's, and he read the confusion in them. "Don't ask."

She nodded, a little reluctantly.

Some time passed. Janeway watched Chakotay and Torres while they took turns sleeping. Her eyes grew heavier, and her strength began to wane, but remembering the previous incident where she was caught off guard, and unaware of Chakotay's order to Torres concerning her, she forced herself to remain conscious.

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Seska strolled down the corridor, dark eyes flitting back and forth to scan the faces of the crewmembers she passed. As she passed the tall, blonde woman, she gave a slight nod. The woman fell into step beside her.

"I have a few men who need to unwind from their last mission. One of them was shot during the… unexpected events that transpired on the planet's surface…" Seska began for the benefit of passerbyers. As the two women entered a secluded corridor, Seska grasped Annika by the arm and demanded, "Well?"

Annika smiled coldly, her eyes betraying nothing but malice. "It's all right here," she noted, slipping a long finger into her sleeve and digging out the data chip.

Seska snatched it from her, and then held it before her eyes. "This is excellent. Just excellent." She shot the other woman a sidelong glance, considering her.

Seska had been more than surprised when the whore had come to her a few weeks ago, declaring that she had information about a stirring mutiny and that she could be of use to Seska. Seska had declined to take the matter to Chakotay, hoping she could squelch the mutiny on her own, using her methods instead of Chakotay's more humanitarian blather. It would also be a pretty gem to cash in with Chakotay.

"Go back to Paris's quarters," Seska told the other woman. "I'll take care of this."

As she started to turn, a hand clamped around her arm and jerked her back with surprising force.

"Just a minute, Seska, what happened to the duty assignment you promised me?"

"Ah, yes, of course," Seska said airily, mind already away from Annika and on the chip in her hand. "A bridge assignment, wasn't it?"

"I wanted to start an astrometrics lab," Annika snarled. "You didn't even listen to me, did you? I also wanted a field commission—Lieutenant Commander."

"Well, I'll see what I can do. Now, excuse—"

"You were supposed to have it now!" Annika shouted.

Seska's face hardened. "Now listen, Seven, let go of my arm or you'll get a duty assignment out an open airlock! Got it?"

The hand seemed to freeze upon her arm. Seska mistook Annika's sudden rigid immobility for shock or fear, and jerked her arm from the other woman's grasp and started off. Then a voice behind her, shaking with rage,

"My name is not Seven! My name is Annika Hansen!"

And suddenly, a splitting sharp pain blazed through Seska's torso. Seska screamed and looked down in shock to see a bloody knife protruding from her stomach. Her legs gave out beneath her, and the knife slid out. As she landed on her back in the corridor, her throat closed, too constricted to even scream, she looked up to see the pure madness upon Annika's face.

This isn't happening! Seska thought as Annika brought the knife down towards her again, a crazy smile turning her beautiful face into a monstrosity.

And then it happened.

Security found her body thirty minutes later. They didn't know who had killed her, and they didn't investigate the matter. Enough people had died onboard to take the shock out of the whole matter, and Seska had killed a good many of those people. Most figured she'd simply had it coming.

Tuvok took temporary command and stepped up search efforts for Chakotay, Janeway, and Torres.

Annika sat above engineering, staring into the light of the warp core, wondering what to do with her data chip.

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Torres shook him out of his heavy slumber some time later. She whispered to him that Janeway had fallen asleep, that she could kill her now if Chakotay would let her.

He told her: "Go to sleep, Torres."

She grunted, jerked away from him, slumped down in the corner, and was suddenly dead asleep. He almost smiled. Dramatic. She was always so dramatic about everything she did. He realized that he'd like to know her better. He might, now that she was Chief Engineer.

If they escaped these Irette.

Janeway was slumped back against the wall, her neck at an awkward angle against her shoulder that would cause her great pain upon waking. She looked like sleep had taken her suddenly, without her detecting its approach.

He watched her slumber for a while, and tried not to fall back asleep himself. He remembered...

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The first time he saw her, he thought she'd come straight from hell.

The elusive terrorist. Kathryn Janeway. He'd been after her for months. Everyone he interrogated knew who she was, what she'd done. They all had rumors, they all had information from a friend of a friend. No one, however, could tell him what she looked like. No one could tell him where she was, or what she was going to do.

And he was heavy, heart sick, and in need of a drink.

He hadn't been there long before light flooded the establishment, and a thin, redheaded girl stepped in. Her pallor against the blood red of her hair struck him, as did the glint of her cold eyes as they raked over the customers. His eyes fell to her body. There wasn't much to see, except for sharply defined muscles, and bones that stood out at her extreme thinness. Unremarkable. He would have looked away, but then she moved, or breathed, or did something else that made his heart freeze in his chest, and he found he couldn't look away.

Then her eyes met his, and he knew he shouldn't look away, that there was something about this woman that escaped definition, classification. There was something about her that he needed to see. Even when her gaze left his, he knew she was watching him, though for the life of him, he couldn't say how. She maneuvered slowly through the room, disappearing and reappearing amidst the crowd, and he knew somehow that she'd come right to him, and he'd be waiting. And soon she did, was standing right next to him, was sitting down on the stool next to him.

"I'll take what he's having," she murmured when the bartender appeared, and he was pleased by her surprisingly husky voice. She turned her gaze to him, expectant.

"Come here often?" he winced at the old, clichéd line even before it passed his lips, and an enigmatic smile appeared across her face, one that didn't touch her eyes. He tried to imagine her in bed, and found he couldn't fathom her expression in the throes of passion. Her eyes were the only part of her that hinted at something other than glacier coolness.

"Not the most original man, are you?" she asked him.

"I have my strengths." He turned into his drink. "Coming up with original pick-up lines isn't one of them."

Her grin was oddly feral as her eyes raked over him. "I'd imagine you wouldn't need them." There was something strangely disquieting in her eyes, and she seemed to take in more about him than simply a woman admiring a man's physique. But something else…

He latched onto her gaze, suddenly feeling very predatory himself. "Not very often."

He noticed absently that the bartender had deposited the drink before her, and her eyes never left his as she raised it to her lips and swallowed deeply. He noticed that she was young, no older than 22. But it was her eyes, or the way she moved, or the way she watched him, that made him wonder if she was older.

"I'm Chakotay," he said, and offered his hand. She looked down at it dispassionately, but didn't take it.

Her eyes grew dark. "I know who you are." Her voice was deeper now, and sent shivers up his spine.

He blinked. After a moment, searching through his thoughts, he realized who she must be. "Are you one of Drakan's women? Because I haven't got any money—"

"I'm not a whore," she said. She leaned closer, her eyes drifting up to his tattoo. "Nice tattoo."

He noticed that her drink was empty. He searched her expression, failed to come up with any answers, only a sense of strange disquiet at the way she looked at his forehead.

"Thank you." He unconsciously touched it with his fingers. "It's a tribal mark, in my family."

She smiled suddenly, even as her eyes narrowed to tiny, glittering slits. "I knew a man once, with that tattoo."

"Oh?" He was stiff, suddenly wary. He sensed that he was being set up.

She uncoiled from the stool and alighted onto her feet. He thought she would leave without explaining, and she almost did, but then she stopped and looked back at him, her expression impenetrable.

"I killed him."

She said it so softly, he almost didn't hear, and by the time the words took full impact in his mind, in his emotions, she had vanished into the crowd. A moment passed as he sat there, thunderstruck, dazed, alcohol swirling in his head, and a question over whether or not what had just transpired had really transpired. And suddenly, with sickening clarity, he realized that it had, and that she was now vanishing into the darkness that had hidden her for so long. Kathryn Janeway, his father's killer, the terrorist. The black shadow.

For God's sake, get her!

He leaped to his feet, shouting frantically for his second-in-command to seal the doors, to block all exits. He yelled commands over the tumult and confusion of the patrons, and the frantic objections of the bartender. And after his men with their rifles roughed up every patron in the bar, and slammed the angry bartender over the head, and dug in every nook and cranny of the establishment, Chakotay finally realized that it was already too late.

She was gone.

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She'd been different then. She'd been aggressive, and she'd been alive. He remembered the games she used to play, attacking and attacking, seemingly at random times, in random places, leaving a hint here or there about where she would be next, sometimes leaving survivors, sometimes not. Once, she'd even dropped him a transmission on his birthday. She always attacked someone on the anniversary of his father's death. Strangely, amidst the fires, amidst the rubble, she'd entrust one of the victims with a pastry, to give to Chakotay when he arrived. He had his men scan it. It was never poisoned. Sometimes, one of them ate it. It apparently tasted quite good.

But as time passed, the attacks became less random, and the taunts faded away. Perhaps with maturity, perhaps after some of her aggression faded into acceptance. Maybe once other members of the resistance curbed her ruthless ways.

He remembered waking up on Terok Nor, in the arms of a sleeping woman whose name he couldn't recall, and she was standing over him, unsmiling. He blinked, blearily, at the elusive image of the terrorist he'd been chasing for days and years and days on end, the first time he'd seen her since that first. He expected she was there to kill him. He almost welcomed it. She had a phaser in one hand, a dagger in the other. He untangled himself from the arms of the slumbering woman, determined not to take another with him into death.

And she was inches away, and her eyes ran coldly down his chest, his naked body. She extended her arm. He felt the cold blade of her dagger kiss the skin of his thigh, make its way up his body. Her eyes bored pointedly into his as she touched him with the cold steel. His heart began to thump in his chest. His eyes remained locked with hers, as the dagger circled around his flesh, in an intricate, alluring pattern, and he didn't even have time to feel his old hate, with the phaser at his chest, and her eyes looking at him like that…

Then she raised the phaser and stunned him.

He woke up in the infirmary later that day. Again, there was no sign that she'd even been on the station.

He wondered sometimes if he'd imagined her, that day. But then, they'd be sitting on the bridge, or at the table in the briefing room, and he'd catch her gaze when she didn't realize he noticed she was looking, and there would be that expression in her eyes that his memory could never quite capture, and his imagination could never fabricate, and he'd know with absolute certainty that somehow, she had broken into his quarters, that she had let him feel her knife, and she'd left him alive. And he'd only realize again that he would never understand what went on behind those eyes.

She scowled now, in her sleep. Her face was somewhat contorted, whether in pain or something else, he didn't know. He glanced at the door, wondering if the Irette would come again soon. He hoped they'd let them go, so he could get back to Voyager. He needed desperately to know what had happened on his ship. Rollins had been with them on the surface; he'd be dead now. That left Seska on the ship, with Tuvok as first officer. Again, he cursed Janeway for a damn fool, but when he looked back to see her face haunted in sleep, he wondered if he wasn't the fool.

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She didn't like this place. She didn't know anyone here. She'd been looking around all day, and she couldn't find anyone. But it was better than being with the men with the guns who asked the questions.

She could see some of the men with the guns. They told her what to do, and the other terrans. She felt like she couldn't breathe every time she saw the men with the guns. But at least she wasn't alone now.

Her father wasn't here. She'd killed someone's father, but she didn't know who. She didn't mean to do it. The Man had burned to death. She'd burned him to death.

Her father was lying on the ground the last time she saw him. She hoped her father wasn't lying in a room somewhere. She'd sat all night in a room with The Man She Killed. She couldn't stop screaming when she was in the room with The Man She Killed. Her throat hurt.

A man blocked out the sun. He was as tall as a mountain. He had gray hair like her father, and he smiled.

"Are you all alone?" he asked her. His voice had an accent that she liked.

"I can't find my daddy." Her voice was sore, and it was very tiny when it came out.

"What's your name, girl?"

"Kathryn."

He smiled. "Kathryn. That's a pretty name. Would you like me to help you find your daddy, Kathryn?" She felt herself nod. He held out a big hand for her, and she was happy when she took it and let him lead her. Daddy had told her not to talk to strangers, but this was a nice man.

She was happy when he took her away from the men with the guns who had yelled at her and asked her questions and made her sit with The Man She Killed. All the people were gone now, and it was quiet. He reached down and lifted her up to sit on something high, and her feet dangled down towards the ground. Then he kissed her.

She tried to move her head, because he wasn't supposed to do this. Then his hands moved where they weren't supposed to, and she knew she should scream, but the men with the guns weren't far off, and they'd be angry again, and The Man She Killed was lying in the room, and her father was lying on the ground, but she knew this wasn't right, but nothing was right recently, so maybe this is what she got for being bad. And the man was telling her to be quiet, and he was getting angry too, and his hands were in her underwear, so Kathryn was quiet, because she didn't know what else to do.

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Janeway opened her eyes with a sick feeling. She felt Chakotay's gaze upon her, and her eyes flickered over to meet his. He was leaning back against the wall, elbows propped upon his bent knees, his head slumped back, and everything but his sharp gaze bespoke of his comfort. She wondered vaguely why he hadn't killed her while she slept, and tried to hold his eyes with her own, but couldn't. In fact, whenever she tried to concentrate upon anything, her eyes slipped away. Her gaze slithered over to find Torres slumbering in the corner, then her eyes fell to the floor. She looked back at Chakotay, who seemed to swim around her vision, and was overcome by a sudden burst of hot rage.

"I really hate you, you know," Janeway hissed.

He cocked his head at her, half in interest, half in disdain.

"You ruined me for this life. I didn't kill your goddamn father, I didn't do a goddamn thing wrong, and I went to hell for it." She trailed off, and her gaze drifted way from him in recall. "I could have killed you, that first time I saw you. I came to kill you. I had a dagger tucked into my boot; I leaned right in close to you, and I had it pressed right against you, and you didn't feel a goddamn thing. I wanted revenge. I wanted to stop you from chasing me. I've killed people far better than you. I didn't, though…"

"Might've saved us both a good deal of trouble if you had," Chakotay said. His voice was tired. Torres must have just changed shifts with him. Otherwise, he'd be fighting back. Her anger grew.

"Morality," she spat out the word like a curse, "It's a virtue of the weak. I'm not weak. But that's why I didn't kill you when I should have. Countless times I could have killed you. And you-- you are a miserable bastard who feels like inflicting your pain upon every soul you encounter."

He smiled coldly. "Those who have souls."

She did spit this time, at the floor in his direction. "Fuck you. You loved it, didn't you?" Her voice began to shake, but she didn't notice. "You loved twenty years of hunting down your prey, waiting to slay the monster of your fantasy," she accused. "Well, that was no goddamn game for me—that was my whole fucking life, trying to escape you and your Cardy friends. My whole fucking life."

The expression on his face had changed, from a mixture of disdain and practiced indifference, to genuine puzzlement. She failed to notice.

Janeway railed on, "I could have killed you time and again. Did you think I was simply inept? Do you remember that Andorian who sold you faulty warp coils on Bajor? Guess who that was? Me. Some makeup, some costume, but me. I could have killed you then. You gave me all your money, and I could've turned around and blown your head off like the fucking piece of shit that you are, but I didn't. Or what about Ceti Alpha Five—" he was walking across the room, his attention on something other than her. "The fuck's wrong with you? What are you doing?" Janeway demanded. She pulled up to her feet, then a strange lightness came to her head, and she fell back to the floor.

He knelt down and gently picked up a glass of water from the ground. The guard had left them each one earlier. His eyes fell upon her empty cup beside her.

"You drank this, didn't you?" he asked her in a surprisingly soft voice.

"The hell does it matter?" she demanded sharply.

His eyes grew dark when he looked down at the glass in his hand. "It matters." He paused thoughtfully, then turned his gaze towards her. "How… are you feeling?"

A renewed surge of frustration swept through her, and she picked up the empty glass near her and threw it blindly at him. He ducked, and her aim was wildly off; it ricocheted off the wall and clattered to the ground.

"How the fuck do you think I feel?" She was surprised at the volume of her own voice. "I hate prisons. You sent me to a fucking prison my whole childhood. You worked to send me to a prison my whole adulthood, and I'm stuck in a prison with you now… Should I be happy? Should I want anything other than to rip your balls off and shove them—"

She stiffened when he suddenly vaulted over to her, grabbed her by the arm, and yanked her to her feet. He gave her a firm shake that made her head snap back, and he intoned, "Calm. Down."

Surprised, she momentarily fell silent. Her legs were unsteady under her, and the only thing that kept her from swaying back and forth was his hold of her arms.

"You've been drugged," he told her. "It was in the water. I haven't had any yet, and it looks like B'Elanna's only had some of hers. You're not acting like yourself. Think about it. When are you ever this out of control?"

She nearly sputtered a retort, but slowly the idea took root in her mind.

"But wha—"

She jerked out of his grip and staggered back against the wall, then sank back to the floor. She couldn't think—couldn't think. What the hell was he talking about? She grasped her head in her hands, and looked down at the floor, trying to concentrate, but her thoughts were like air, drifting away.

He watched her with a measured gaze. One minute, she'd been dead asleep, and the next, she jerked awake, sputtering for air like a drowning woman. Her eyes were wild when she began her diatribe against him, with a frightening amount of passion that at first angered and then concerned him. It had to be a truth serum of some sort. Maybe. It was something.

She was mumbling something now, staring intently at the floor.

Truth serum. Prison. Fuck this. Chakotay let out an aggravated hiss of breath, and told her hotly, "If you hadn't shot us in your foolish little mutiny, we wouldn't be here now."

"What do you have to complain about?" She grinned a little wildly, and again tried to stand up, but stumbled back down. Her eyes were glazed over. "I sold m'life for a pastry. Sold my soul. An I want it back. But it's too late, too late."

"The hell's she moaning about?"

Chakotay looked back to see Torres, now awake.

"When did you wake up?" he asked her.

"You expect me to sleep when you're yelling like that?" She looked a bit unsteady herself. His eyes flew to her cup.

"Did you drink any of the water?"

"Just a bit. I was saving it—"

He walked over to her cup, and confirmed what he'd seen earlier; she'd only had a bit. He was relieved.

"Don't drink any of it, Torres. They've drugged it with—with something." He cast a glance back at Janeway, slipping father and farther away from lucidity. Her eyes were entirely unfocused, and she slouched in an uncharacteristic manner.

Torres's eyes narrowed into slits. "We could kill her now."

Chakotay shot her a warning look.

"Or we could find out just how much she knows about the mutiny," Torres suggested in a more reasonable tone.

Chakotay gave her a swift nod. Good idea. He turned on Janeway.

"Well, Janeway? Who orchestrated the mutiny?"

She blinked, lifted her head sluggishly, then stared blankly. "What?"

He stepped in closer, and repeated loudly, "The mutiny. Did you start it by yourself?"

She sputtered a half-giggle, half-moan. "No… Paris just told me—" She stopped, her expression tightening for a moment, as though she realized what she was saying, then the muscles of her face went slack, as though she'd already forgotten the last few seconds.

Torres shot him a triumphant look. "Paris. That scum. I expected—"

"Who else?" Chakotay barked.

Janeway blinked. "What?"

"The mutiny. Who else planned the mutiny?"

Her head slumped back against the wall, as though she no longer had the strength to support it. It hit with a hard thwack, and elicited a little grimace from her. "Umm… Harry, and Ayala… ummm…"

"Tuvok?" Chakotay supplied.

She shook her head. "No," she looked away, blinking a few times. "I don't know many of them. He might have. I don't think…" she shook her head.

"Think what?" he pressed.

She looked up again, blearily. "What?"

Torres growled. "Let's give her my cup, too. Maybe she'll say more—" the half-breed turned towards the glasses, but Chakotay clamped his hand around her wiry arm.

"It's okay, B'Elanna. Any more would kill her."

Torres's gaze seared him, and he knew that's what she was hoping. "Why not just kill her now, Chakotay? She almost killed us. She tried to take over your ship. Let's waste her while we have the chance!"

He watched Janeway as he told Torres, "We may need her. She spent twenty years as a terrorist, ten years in prison… She knows things we don't. If anyone can help us get out of here, she can."

"And once we escape… Then can we kill her?" Torres demanded.

"We'll see," he answered softly.

They both jumped when the door to the cell suddenly opened, and a group of guards poured in, weapons trained upon the prisoners. One of them stepped forward, and looked intently at first at Chakotay, a little longer at Torres, and then stopped at Janeway.

"This one," he barked, and two other guards came forward, jerked the insentient woman to her feet, and hauled her out the door with them. They kept their weapons on Chakotay and Torres long enough to disappear out the door, and seal it behind them.

"What was that about?" Torres asked.

"The truth serum. They're going to question her." He sighed, and sank down to the ground. "It would help if we knew about what."

"I hope they kill her," Torres told him, as if he didn't already know.

She sat down next to him on the ground. All they could do was wait.

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She was awoken by the painful soreness of her throat. It took her a moment to realize that her lips were moving, forming words that she couldn't hear. How long have I been talking? I should be quiet. She stopped talking.

Someone's fingers touched her cheek. Warm. Clammy. She tried to open her eyes, but they were dead weights. She was on some kind of low-backed chair. She felt her arms hanging, leaden at her side. Her head was arched back, and from the ache in her neck, she guessed it had been that way for a long time. She tried to lift it, and was only rewarded by a moan somewhere in her throat. Her mind worked sluggishly, and it took an interminable amount of time for her to formulate a thought. When she did, it remained stuck in her mind, unable to translate into words.

Why don't you tell me more about those shields, Commander?

The words had to be in her head. They barely penetrated the haze in her mind. Then she realized that her mouth was moving, and that sound was coming out. She was answering! She didn't even know what she was saying. She could barely understand the question she'd been asked. Mustering what little strength she had, she forced her mouth to stop moving.

The shields, Commander Janeway?

She forced herself to remain silent, despite the natural inclination to slip away and let her subconscious handle it.

She's being uncooperative. We should give her another dose.

No, leave it, Murdok. She's just tired. She's had enough.

She felt unaccountably relieved. Someone mercifully swept an arm around her, around the back of her head, relieving the terrible ache in her neck, if only momentarily. Then she was lifted into the air, carried. In the lull, between the chaos in her mind, and the heaviness of her body, awareness slowly left her.

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"Awake, hmm?"

Her eyes floated open, to stare into the warm smile of an Irette. Dar Varrat. She remembered him from earlier.

He was looking down at her, no hostility in his features. The bed, or mattress, or whatever the hell she was lying on, felt soft beneath her. As her body began to tingle to life, she noticed the queasiness in her stomach, and her face crumpled.

"Here," he held out a basin, and without conscious thought, she craned her head to retch into it. He held it while she vomited the drug out of her system. When she finished, she slumped back against the mattress, sweaty and out of breath.

"Is that better?" He circled round to stand behind her, and with a cool cloth mopped her hair off of her sticky forehead.

"You bastard. You goddamn bastard," her voice was hoarse. A new wave of nausea washed over her, and he was there again with the basin, just in time. When she pulled away this time, she brought her gaze up to latch onto his, her eyes sparkling with anger. "What do you want? What the fuck was that?"

He smiled again, a friendly smile, and carefully set the basin back on the floor, within reach. "It was just to loosen up your tongue, somewhat. In the short term, you may feel a little queasy. In the long run, it's completely harmless." He lowered himself beside her onto the bed. "I'm here to discuss business."

She eyed him suspiciously as he lowered himself next to her. "I'll kill you before I'll conduct that kind of business with you."

He smiled disarmingly. "I'm sure you would. There's no need for fear. I won't hurt you." He leaned over, looking intently into her eyes. "You and I have a common enemy."

She caught her breath. "What do you mean?"

"Your captain. Chakotay." He raised an eyebrow at her. "You two are foes, are you not? You have been for a long time."

She tried to push herself up, but her shaky arms wouldn't support her weight. She settled back into the bed. "So you asked about my history with Chakotay."

"Among other things," he replied.

"Yes, I heard—shields. Weapons, too, I assume?" She looked at him. "How much did I tell you?"

He smiled ruefully. "You actually weren't all that helpful. You just told me you 'aren't a goddamn engineer,' and to ask someone who knows."

She gazed at him for a few moments. "What do you really want from us?"

"Common things, really. I won't lie to you and say that I am without ambition. Your technology could do wonders to advance my people," he glanced at her dubiously. "Or destroy us. There are wondrous things on your ship."

"Did I tell you that, or did your sensors?" She demanded.

"Both. We wondered just how you arrived on the surface undetected, so we learned of your transporter. We also wondered how weapons could be built of such magnitude so as to vaporize a whole person's body, so we studied the phasers carried by the fallen."

Her eyes widened. "Vaporized? I gave orders not to—" She fell silent, contemplative. She'd been planning on killing all the Alliance officers on the surface of the planet, then taking care of the ones on the ship, but she hadn't imagined actually incinerating their bodies. The thought was ghastly, and somewhat titillating. She could imagine watching Seska tear apart from the inside by the light of the phaser beam.

Janeway's laughter would be the last sound to reach Seska's ears…

"Commander?"

She broke out of her thoughts, and looked up to meet Varatt's eyes, intent on hers.

"We can aid each other, you and I," he murmured. "You want command of Voyager, and I want its technology. Together, we can achieve both of our ends."

"And Chakotay?"

"He'll die."

She glared at him fiercely. "And the Klingon?"

He offered her a nasty smiled that showed his intentions. "She'll be put to good use."

Janeway looked away, considering. She could choose between a known enemy, or an unknown enemy. She could vaguely recall Jean-Luc Picard, from the old days. They'd been considering inviting the Romulans to assist with the Rebellion. In return, however, the Romulans insisted that they'd have direct control of operations, and weaponry distribution.

"I'd rather fight off the Americans than open up this country to the Chinese," Picard had murmured.

"What?" Janeway, impatient, snapped. She never had any patience for the older fighter. He was introspective. Every decision he turned around in his mind over and over until he'd examined the circumstances, the implications… she just wanted to go out and fight.

"Perhaps I misquote," he murmured, half to himself, "But there was an ancient terran conflict. A small country was fighting off the superior force of the Americans, and they had a choice between opening their country up to the control of the Chinese and insuring a victory against the Americans, or holding off the Americans on their own. I believe they chose to fight the Americans, for if they surrendered control to the Chinese, they knew there was no way to regain that control, and their country would be vanquished through its own efforts at survival."

She'd just demanded, "What the hell does that have to do with the Romulans?"

The rest of the group snickered at Picard. Misunderstood Picard. Perhaps he would have fared better, in another situation, another universe. People considered him an old fool, going off on his philosophical tangents. Even she did. He never got anywhere in the Resistance. There was no room for a thinker among the fighters.

But years later, looking back, his words came back to her, and suddenly the nonsense ramblings began to clarify. Here she was, faced with a choice between getting the assistance of an enemy who wanted the technology of her ship for his own purposes, or allying with her other enemy, who would undoubtedly execute her once they returned to Voyager, if not murder her earlier. But then, if she received the assistance of the Irette, used their force to take her ship, how the hell was she supposed to get them off again? Her crew would be weak, nearly half of its ranks dead after the Alliance crew had been purged. The ship would be a mess from the Irette fighting force. The captain they'd served for five years would be dead. The Chief Engineer and the Assistant Chief Engineer would both have been lost to them within a few days of each other. She had no way of dealing with this unknown enemy once she returned to the ship—and enemy he was, as long as he kept her here against her will. Plus, thanks to the drug, he knew as much as he wanted about her, whereas she knew nothing about him.

She could handle Chakotay. Maybe. Perhaps she'd pushed him too far this time. But she knew him. She knew he was honest, if nothing else. And perhaps he'd have some mercy. Or at least she'd get a chance to escape again.

"I'll have to think about it," she told him.

Varatt nodded, as though he already expected her compliance. "Take all the time you need."

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There were few things Annika liked better than sex. But they existed.

The first time she'd killed a man, it was like a door to heaven opened up. She'd felt the blood wet on her hands. She'd brought it to her lips, tasted it. It tasted like raw power. His eyes on hers were those of an innocent who has never really seen until now. His eyes on her, for once not devouring her curves, running down to her lips, resting on her breasts, were desperate and afraid. It was then she felt like a Goddess.

The Goddess of Love.

The Goddess of Death.

And she was floating now, floating because the smell of dead Seska still penetrated her nostrils, still touched her hands. She could raise the dagger to her lips and taste her. All that was left of Seska was in her hands, on her tongue.

"Hey, Seven!"

A smile twisted across her lips, and the dagger glinted blue in the light of the warm core. She heard him approach behind her, and then the weight of his familiar hands on her shoulders. He blandly pressed his lips against her neck. He had long ago ceased to thrill her with his lips, with his dank breath, with his body that was swiftly losing tone. She clutched the dagger, and suddenly she was excited. Excited by him for the first time in God knows how long.

She twisted her head around and clamped her lips to his. He seemed taken aback, but his hands fell around her. She suckled, and then bit his lower lip. She bit until she could taste his sweet blood, and he cried out in pain. Annika gasped and pulled back, and his eyes found hers. She watched him like a predator, and he was turned on. She could see his erection pushing against his pants.

"Seven. You're really—"

She silenced him when she drew forward and grasped his bulge in her hand. "Really what?" She demanded hoarsely.

"Into it tonight."

She bit his neck, bit harder, until blood came and he bodily pushed her back.

"Stop that, all right? Are you a vampire now?" he joked weakly. He brought his hand to his neck, it came back with blood. His eyes were surprised. "That really hurts."

She licked his blood off her lips. "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy," she moaned.

He drew closer. He couldn't help it. She was a Goddess. The Goddess of Love.

The Goddess of Death.

She didn't realize that she'd plunged the dagger into him until he jerked away from her, his eyes stunned. Then it was absurdly funny. She laughed as he fell back to the ground.

"I'm alive, Tommy. For the first time… in years…" She crowed, and he pulled up and staggered away from her, whimpering in pain, barely supporting himself. She smiled. "And you'll be dead. For the first time…"

"Paris to security!" He cried out, his legs giving out beneath him. Annika, oblivious, drew closer. "Annika, what the hell's wrong with you? Why are you doing this to me?"

"You're what's wrong, Tommy. You've choked Annika. You've stifled her." Annika smiled. "She's coming back, though." She raised the dagger. "You'll see."

She never got the chance to finish the job. Three security officers poured through the door, and a beam hit her square in the chest. She fell back to the ground unconscious.

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"It's like she just went crazy," Paris explained to a baffled Kim as he recovered in sickbay.

"I always told you that bitch was queer in the head." Kim gave a raunchy smiled. "She's great in the sack, though."

Paris turned his fierce eyes to Kim. "How the fuck would you know?"

"Why else would you stay with her so long?" Kim covered smoothly.

Paris shook his head. "Harry, I thought she and I had something special. She was… it's like she was a different person." His posture was slumping in honest dejection.

"Well, in a few days, you'll forget all about her. You know why."

"Why?" Paris demanded.

Harry looked at him intently. "Operation: M. You know, the big 'M?'"

"The mutiny?" Paris exclaimed too loudly. Kim shushed him, and looked furtively around. No one cared enough to listen to what they were saying. Paris watched Kim with sad eyes. "But Janeway's gone. She may be dead."

Harry sputtered, "I thought you were going to take command—"

"Me? After this?" Paris gestured to his torn uniform and newly mended skin. Suddenly, his eyes glistened, as though his emotions were escaping his exterior. "I—I don't want to do this without Annika. I'm nothing without her."

"She's a crazy bitch—get over it!" Harry snapped.

Paris shook his head, dejected. "Forget the mutiny, Harry. You want it, you do it yourself. You take command yourself. I can't do this." He lay back onto the biobed, looking haunted. "I can't do this now."

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Harry Kim began life as the son of a freed Terran living on Hanon IV. They were poor, below subsistence level, and lived in a ramshackle ghetto with other Terrans and general lowlife species of the quadrant. His mother fell sick and died when he was still a child, and his father left in pursuit of women and alcohol. Harry had learned the hard way that the only person he could depend upon was himself.

He stole for food. He robbed his first person when he was nine years old with a rusty knife he'd taken from a public kitchen. He went on from there, robbing almost daily, spending months on end in jail, exempted from the penalty of being shipped off to the slaving colonies merely because of his age. Then he murdered a man. Looking back, Harry realized that that crime had been unnecessary, but at the time, it was something novel and new, like the time that woman had ignored him, and he followed her out into the ally and fucked her while she tried to claw at his eyes. Harry liked to try new things. He had been fifteen years old that time he killed the man.

He didn't find Janeway until he was eighteen. She was a myth. He'd heard of her throughout his whole life, the ruthless terrorist whose triumphs the Terrans in his neighborhoods cursed in front of the Cardassians and silently celebrated amongst themselves. There was no resistance, back then, and she was the only well-known Terran who defied the Alliance deadlock on the quadrant.

When Harry realized that he'd come as far as possible in his own sphere, he sought out hers. He asked around about her, traveled from planet to planet on what little he could steal, trying to find her, someone who was harder than he.

She ended up coming to him one day, alone at night.

"I understand you like to fight," a throaty voice murmured.

He nearly jumped out of his skin. He spun around, and found a relatively diminutive woman staring back at him. They were alone, in the darkest of nights, on an abandoned street. He was gruffer back then, with overgrown hair and beard, ragged clothes, scarred up face.

"Who the fuck are you?" He'd sneered.

"Janeway."

He looked her over. She was unarmed, or at least appeared so. A tank top barely held on to her thin body, and some worn pants hung from her frame. She was unimpressive. He couldn't see her face in the darkness.

"You're the Cardassian killer?" He snorted. "I think I'll wait for the other Janeway."

He turned away, and her little hand clamped on his arm, and spun him back around with a surprising force. "Don't you know not to turn your back on me?"

He struck out with his fist, caught her across the jaw. She fell to the floor of the alley, and he followed her. Before she sprang back up, he'd pinned her. He could hear her breath, suddenly grown rapid, and feel her heartbeat against his chest. He was aroused by the tiny little woman trapped beneath him. He ground his erection into her. "I'm not impressed, Janeway, or whoever you really are. Maybe I could teach you what it is to fear."

He could barely see her smile in the darkness. "Or maybe I'll teach you."

Then her fingers ground into his eyes, and a hand jerked at his crotch. He yelled out, and found himself flipped onto his back. She was straddled across his waist, her eyes glinting. When he saw them for that first time, they chilled his blood. Out of nowhere, a dagger was in her hand, and she thrust it against his throat. A slight smirk crossed her lips, as she ground herself against him, encouraging his erection while his fear simultaneously dampened it.

"I'm not impressed, either," she hissed. She leaned in closer, her eyes freezing him, and the knife trailed down from his throat to rest dangerously at his crotch. "Give me one reason not to kill you now, you son of a bitch. Tell me why you're worth the space you take up."

He couldn't speak. He didn't have any worthy points to argue.

"I murdered for the first time when I was nine years old," she hissed. "And you think you can rape me in some alley like a common idiot?" She ground the knife into him, and he gasped in pain. The look in her eyes was maniacal.

He remembered seeing ruins, corpses, all that had been left in her wake after an attack upon an armory. Suddenly, he felt sick. What the hell had he been thinking, tracking her down, this person who had demons in her eyes like he'd never had in his dreams? He was going to die here, tonight, under the gaze of this demoness, her knife at his manhood.

Harry Kim wet his pants.

Her lips curved into a merciless smile. "You're scared shitless of me, aren't you?"

He didn't deny it.

Her weight suddenly lifted from him, and her hand extended to him. "Welcome to the Resistance."

After a stunned moment, he shakily rose to her feet, and gingerly grasped her hand in his own. In that minute, when he knew she very well could kill him, that he somehow couldn't overpower this little woman almost twice his age and half his size, he realized that he'd met the only person he'd ever respect. Whether out of fear or loyalty, he could never figure out.

But when he followed her down that street, to the waiting stealth freighter, he knew he'd follow her to the end.

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What the hell am I doing, following Paris? Harry Kim wondered for the hundredth time. Paris was weak, fallible, pathetic excuse for a man… too susceptible to his passions…

But Harry didn't want command of the ship. Perhaps Tuvok would remain in command… but his infuriating, Vulcan dispassion grated on people's nerves.

We have to find Janeway… Harry decided firmly. Even if it means finding Chakotay, too.

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With a grunt, the Klingon security guard pawed through the discarded clothes of Annika Hansen, now sedated behind a sickbay security field. He was so busy remembering times he'd pawed at her clothes when she still had them on that he nearly missed the little, hard lump in the pocket of the pants.

Thoughtfully, he pulled it out, and realized that it was a data chip. He held it up to the light, and wondered what could possibly be stored on this chip.

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"Can you stop that?" Chakotay snapped.

"No!" Torres growled back as she stalked over to the other side of the cell, and back. The constant scuffling of her boots upon the floor of the cell had grown slowly more and more irritating over the last hour.

Chakotay let his breath out slowly and raked a hand through his short, black hair. "I understand you're feeling impatient, and damn thirsty—so am I. But it won't pay to drive each other's nerves into the ground. And that pacing gets damn annoying."

Torres quit pacing abruptly, and leaned against the wall, fists curled at her sides, muscles straining beneath her skin like an impatient tigress. "This is ridiculous. What the hell are they keeping us here for?"

"At least we haven't been executed yet… or tortured." He glanced towards the door thoughtfully, wondering about Janeway's fate. "Or at least you and I haven't been."

It had been almost three days since they'd dragged Janeway out of the cell after she'd been drugged via the water. He'd ordered Torres not to drink, hoping they'd avoid whatever fate was in store for the human woman. The time had passed like agony, slow and drawn out. His mouth was parched, and his voice was hoarse. Time and again he found his eyes drifting to the tainted water glasses, unconsciously considering taking a drink despite his resolve.

What did they do to her? He wondered, his thoughts drifting back to Janeway in an attempt to take his mind off of his thirst. Interrogation… obviously. Did she tell them anything? What does Janeway know that could be harmful to all of us? And why is she still gone? Surely an interrogation would be over by now. He frowned. She was an attractive woman, in her own way. He could think of plenty of things they might be doing with her. But then again, he thought as his eyes found the half-Klingon woman, It wouldn't be an affair they'd confine exclusively to Janeway.

He was troubled that the thought worried him. The bitch had tried to kill him. She'd tried to usurp his command. Yet… Maybe he simply couldn't stand the thought of someone tormenting any member of his crew. Even her. Especially her. Tormenting Janeway was his job, always had been. But rape was not in his taste. Nor was torture.

"If we, the three of us, get back to the ship, ever…" Torres mused from the corner, "What's going to happen to Janeway? Can I kill her then?"

Chakotay leaned his head back against the wall. "We'll cross that bridge—"

Torres glanced at him sharply. "You can't honestly mean you'll let Janeway live after what happened. She has to die. It's as simple as that. All those people killed on the surface—"

"It wasn't Janeway alone who orchestrated this mess," Chakotay replied evenly, though he, too, simmered when he thought of all those dead officers. "If it was Paris and Kim who started this, then there are likely dozens of officers on the ship who were in on this. If we get back to the ship and if it has yet to be taken over by the rebels, there will be many bridges to mend. I can't kill Janeway. Confine her to the brig for a duration of time, maybe. Confine some of the rebels, certainly Paris and Kim, definitely. Maybe even put them off the ship. But killing will get us nowhere." He sighed. "I just hope to God that Seska has this all under control, and isn't performing a purge of half the crew."

Torres grinned. "Has she ever tried to do that?"

"She dreams of it." He returned the grin. "She's always urging me to let her conduct purges that would make Gul Dukat look compassionate." His eyes grew distant, and he added softly, "Don't let anyone tell you there's a more ruthless bitch in the galaxy than Seska, no matter how women like Janeway strike you."

Torres made her way over to Chakotay and sank down next to him.

"Do you love Seska?" She asked him quietly.

"Love her? No. She… entices me."

"And that's what you want in a woman?"

"Not everything I want." He smiled wryly. "If all I wanted in a woman was someone who enticed me, I'd be madly in love with Janeway. No…" He paused, distantly. "I want someone who can hold her own against me, who keeps her word. I want… someone who is genuine. Raw."

"Someone… who is passionate?" Torres whispered. She sounded a little breathless.

"Passionate. Of course. She has to have some fire… but some dignity as well. Grace. She has to have a sense of realism about her." His thoughts drifted back to that other Voyager, that other Janeway… the way she laughed, the way her eyes sparkled when she beat him at pool, the way she joked with him in the mess hall…

He blinked. Or was that his Janeway in the mess hall? He couldn't distinguish them in some memories… Maybe he was too thirsty to think straight.

"And she must be strong," he found himself saying. "I don't mean physically, but mentally—her will, her drive—"

He looked over to find Torres's face beaming into his, her lips lit with a grin. Her beautiful, dark eyes glittered. "I get the point," she whispered hoarsely. "And I understand."

"What—" Chakotay didn't get the word out of his mouth before she swept forward and forcefully pressed her lips to his. His eyes opened wide with surprise when her strong hands gripped his shoulders and deftly swung him away from the wall and to the ground beneath her. She mashed her firm body against his, and fumbled with the seams of his clothing.

He put his hands to his shoulders, and pushed her back until her lips ripped from his. "What are you doing?"

She blinked, and stared at him with baffled eyes. "What?"

"I—this is not like you."

She gazed intently at him. "What do you mean? You were talking about me, weren't you? Everything you said."

"What I said? About my ideal woman, you mean?" He sat up, and pulled a little farther back from her. "I was speaking in general terms." He felt her breath tickling his skin, and his eyes involuntarily fell to her heaving chest.

Torres laughed incredulously. "What—what are you talking about? You've been coming onto me for days. Isn't this why you told me to accompany you on this away mission? For sex? Why else did you ask me here?"

He tried not to smile at the absurdity of the situation, because he knew that would do a disservice to Torres's emotions. He explained carefully, "I asked my Chief Engineer to accompany me to a planet where we'd resupply the ship."

She stared at him for a second stunned, then fell back, throwing a hand over her face. "An idiot. I am such a fucking idiot."

"Torres—" he started towards her.

"No!" She held up a hand to ward him off. "Gods, I don't need your sympathy."

She wanted him?

What man would pass up this opportunity?

"B'Elanna!" he said firmly.

She glanced at him.

He let his eyes on her tell her everything.

She still doubted herself, so he communicated his intentions physically, by closing the space between them and reaching out a hand to her cheek. "I was just surprised, Torres. It doesn't mean I don't find you attractive." He drew her back in, and kissed her. She slowly began to respond.

His hand wandered up to cup her breast, and his eyes fell closed. The short, husky moan that issued from her lips brought the image of Janeway to his mind. He could still see her eyes, that day he woke up on Terok Nor to see her standing over him. The image maddened him now, and he felt incredibly aroused.

His lips pressed more forcefully into Torres's, and he maneuvered her onto the ground. He slid off her shirt, and ran his hands over the soft flesh. Eyes closed, he felt her body yield beneath him. After a time, he slipped his hand down her torso and into her pants to dip a finger into the wet arousal between her legs. A moan. She writhed beneath him, hoarsely urging him to take her, please. Her hand grasped his manhood, and he growled low in his throat.

Torres's eyes slinked open to study his face. His cloudy eyes crept open as well, and he seemed surprised to see her there, as though he expected someone else to be lying beneath him.

She stiffened beneath him.

"Who are you picturing, Chakotay? Who are you imagining when you touch me?" She asked breathlessly.

Chakotay buried his face in the crook of his neck, too lost in his arousal to notice the sudden stiffness of her body.

"Who am I, Chakotay?" she whispered quietly enough that her voice was indistinguishable from another woman's whispered voice. "I can be anyone you want."

And she became who he wanted. "… Kathryn…"

She jerked beneath him "Kathryn?" Torres echoed disbelievingly.

His eyes snapped open. He saw her mind working quickly. She gasped. "Kathryn… Janeway? You want Janeway?"

Speechless, he pulled back again, reflexively reaching down to zip back up his pants. Torres caught his hand to stop him, her eyes glittering.

"I don't care. It doesn't matter." She crawled back over to him, animalistic. "I just want the sex. It doesn't matter if you picture Janeway or not!"

When her lips came to his again, they were bruising, hard. She tore at his back with her fingernails, and shoved him to the floor with all the Klingon strength in her muscles. She straddled him, tore off her own pants, and unceremoniously impaled herself onto him. Quick, brutal, punishing, the pace finished them both off in a quick and unsatisfactory manner. She climaxed shortly before he did. Clenching her jaw, she pulled up from him and fumbled for her clothes. "Good. That was good. That's all I wanted."

A stunned second passed. Then, "All right,"

Chakotay said it mildly, and zipped his pants up with one hand, feeling around for his shirt with the other.

She seemed infuriated by his calm voice. "Don't ask me again, though. You weren't that great a lay."

Chakotay decided it might be best for Torres's pride not to reply, but he never got the chance anyway. A dry voice came from the doorway, "The infamous rake strikes again."

He looked up. Kathryn Janeway stood in the doorway, her arms folded smugly across her chest, her thin lips curled into a smirk. He could see the guards standing behind her.

"How long have you been here?" Chakotay demanded.

Janeway stepped into the room, and the smirking guards closed the door behind her. "Long enough to satisfy my curiosity. You gave the guards a few minutes of entertainment. You know there are imagers all throughout this room." Torres almost choked. Chakotay, too, felt strangely embarrassed that Janeway had been watching him. Had she heard him utter her name? Gods, he hoped not.

"It's for the best," Janeway continued. "They," she jerked her head in the direction of the door, "Were contemplating forcing Torres and me to give them a floor show. You two fortunately did the task in our stead."

Chakotay didn't let her get that. "Ah. So that's what they wanted from you. Did you keep the good soldiers company?"

She looked at him, her eyes cold, and her expression unreadable. "No."

He looked her over. "Well, you look pretty damn bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked for a woman who's been… what? Interrogated? Tortured?"

"Wined and dined." She glanced at him. "Dar Varatt gave me a tour of the facility as well."

"Fast friends, huh?" He narrowed his eyes at her. "Are you planning on betraying us again?"

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Perhaps."

Torres glowered at Janeway as she leaned back against the metallic wall opposite him. "Are you entirely without honor, Janeway?"

Janeway's eyes blazed. "Maybe by your narrow definition, half-breed."

"Torres," a warning tone to his voice. Torres, still revved up from the sex, flashed him a glare.

"I see why you're so goddamn tolerant of her, now. Ugh. Human men are all captive to their pricks!" She whirled away, and Janeway shot him a puzzled glance. Then Torres spun back on her. "And she's not very attractive, either! All bones—"

"Torres, enough!" Chakotay roared.

She fell into silence.

Janeway approached Chakotay slowly, and he wondered if she'd remark on the inference made in the exchange. Instead, her eyes had a look of intensity about them.

"Look angry," she hissed.

"I am angry!" He retorted, half puzzled.

"Good." She raised an eyebrow at him. "I want a deal. They can't hear a thing we say in here—they just see us. I saw the monitoring rooms myself."

"Go on," he said, suddenly interested.

Janeway looked at him with a measured gaze. "You won't kill us, any of us mutineers, and you won't maroon us on a hostile planet"

"That's a tall demand," he said threateningly.

"It's what you get in exchange for our escape." Janeway took a breath. "Varatt thinks we've got a deal, he and I."

"Do you?" Chakotay asked, folding his arms.

He couldn't read the expression on her face. "No." She paused. "I said he thinks. I can get us out of here. I have free access to the whole facility."

"Really? Then why are you here?"

"I'm supposedly trying to glean information from my comrades in arms about some of the ship's defenses," a wry smile pulled at her lips. "So you still need to look angry."

Chakotay did his best to screw up his expression into anger. Torres didn't seem to have a difficult time at all.

"I can get access to the weaponry room, and I can secure us some rifles. I know enough about their power generator to disable it long enough to get us an hour's time by foot." As if it were an afterthought, she added, "It's remarkably similar to Voyager's power generator."

This got Torres's attention.

"How do you know so much about our power generator?"

Janeway glanced at her coolly. "It was a very well-planned mutiny."

Chakotay looked down at the floor, considering the offer.

"Are you in? Leniency?"

"What will I tell the crew about the dead men on the surface?" Chakotay demanded. "They're not going to like it if we go about business as usual."

"Tell them the Irette killed them," Janeway suggested. "Tell them they killed them and set it up to look like a mutiny."

"I see you've thought it through," Chakotay said. "Do you think they'll buy it?"

Janeway shrugged. "When in doubt, make it sound convincing."

"A sound philosophy," he replied, fighting back a smile.

They heard a clank, and they jumped when the door slid open again, and Dar Varatt appeared in the doorway. "Progress?" he inquired silkily.

Janeway shot Chakotay what passed as a seething glare. "I told you they wouldn't cooperate."

"Then we should plan this ourselves, my dear." He gestured towards the hallway. "Come."

Janeway approached the door, glancing only once back at Chakotay, questioning.

The sparkle in his eyes told her they had a deal.

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Two nights later, the guard heard the door behind him slide open, and quickly rose to his feet. The female called 'Janeway' hovered in the doorway, clutching a makeshift towel around her slim, muscular body. His gaze fell to the soft swell of cleavage exposed above the towel, pale skin dotted with drops of water.

"Can you help me, please?" The woman asked in a breathy voice. "I can't seem to figure out how to turn off your shower mechanism."

He took a second to catch his breath, and then replied, "Of course." She drew back from the doorway, and, eyes never leaving her body, he slowly lumbered into the room behind her, careful to keep his rifle up in case she tried anything.

She led him further into the dim guest quarters. He glanced around, and his eyes fell upon the water dispenser. Nothing dripped out of the metallic faucet. He noted suspiciously, "It looks like you managed to turn the water off yourself."

Janeway turned to face him, and slowly sank back onto the bed. Her eyes were half-closed, and her voice husky as she drawled, "I did. I just wanted an excuse to get you in here with me."

He hadn't given her much thought before, but now was struck by just how attractive she was.

"Oh?" He felt his heart race.

She looked him over in a way that made his skin tingle. "I guess you couldn't know about my people, about humans… we don't have many eligible men on our planet."

"Is that so?"

Her lips curled into a tantalizing smile.

It was a clear invitation. He carefully set the rifle down behind him, so as to keep his own body between her and the weapon. His mind was already running over just how quickly he could separate the towel from her body.

"In fact," Janeway continued, "We have about nine women for every one man. When I saw you outside, the prospect of having a male all to myself was… enticing, to say the least." Coyly, she added, "I hope you don't mind."

Her eyes were sparkling, and in that moment, she was the most sensual creature he'd ever seen. He drew up to her swiftly, grinning. "Maybe I could spare a few minutes, if it means this much to you…"

He didn't hear her reply. As he closed the final distance between them, he felt something brush his neck, then suddenly whip around it. He raised his fingers up desperately as he realized a thin, strong chord was looped around his neck. Before he had time to react, he caught the cold look in her eyes as she leaned over and pulled on another rope, and the chord tightened with a firm yank to cut off his air supply. She looked at him carefully to ensure his entrapment, and he desperately lashed out at her with his fist, fighting with the other hand to loosen the stranglehold, to get air.

Janeway drew back quickly and hopped off the bed, then circled around to disappear behind him. Forcing himself to think rationally, fighting the rapid approach of unconsciousness, he observed that the chord, thin enough that he hadn't noticed it earlier, had been anchored to different posts of the bed, intricately rigged to whip around his throat as soon as he came in contact with it. He reached out towards the nearest post, trying to yank the chord off of the post, and just in time he managed to do it. He nearly sank to the floor, simultaneously relieved and angered that some idiot had left this rope with a prisoner.

He fought his fatigue, and, gasping in air, staggered to his feet. He spun around triumphantly to confront his attempted murderess, only to see her standing there with his rifle, poised to fire. He only had a second to contemplate the situation before she pulled the trigger, and his world went black.

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Chakotay jolted to his feet when the door to the cell opened, and felt undue relief at seeing Janeway. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were glowing with that certain exhilarated look she'd always have in the aftermaths of fights and battles. She slipped into the room, toting two rifles. She tossed one to Chakotay, which he caught neatly.

"Sorry, I couldn't find you one," she said in a flip tone to Torres, who gave Janeway an ugly glare.

After a moment of thought, Chakotay ordered Janeway, "Give her yours."

Janeway looked at him with suspicion and disbelief. "Is this the way we're going to be?"

"You want leniency…" Chakotay said pointedly, and Janeway relented and tossed the rifle to the gloating Torres. Janeway crossed her arms across her chest, feeling awkward and strangely vulnerable at her being the only one without a weapon. She had on her singed tank top and pants again.

She covered her discomfort with, "We probably won't need them anyway; the path to the exit's clear, for now. We need to hurry."

Torres and Chakotay followed her out into the corridor. As Janeway negotiated the dim corridors, they passed at least five either dead or unconscious Irette slumped on the ground.

"Nice work," Torres admitted grudgingly as she surveyed the carnage.

Janeway didn't smile, but gave her a satisfied nod.

As they approached the perimeter, the last lights of the corridor abruptly snapped off.

"Right in time," Janeway murmured.

Chakotay couldn't see thing; he could barely make out Janeway's shadowy form before him in the darkness. Yet, Janeway herself proceeded down the corridor quickly and easily, as though she could see in the dark. Chakotay followed the sound of her footsteps, trying not to trip, and Torres anchored herself to him. Chakotay marveled at Janeway's perception, and reasoned that it was little skills like this that had allowed her to escape him for so long.

"Here's where I disabled the force field … The stairs lead to the surface," Janeway whispered to them, and sure enough, Chakotay soon felt a metallic staircase bump his toes. After about twenty minutes of climbing, they emerged into the cool night air.

"That was almost too easy," Chakotay said, looking back behind them into the cave. He was comforted by the feel of the cool wind in his hair, and the sounds of the night animals chirping around him, yet strangely disquieted by the simplicity of their escape.

"Don't talk about ease with me; you didn't plan or execute that whole thing," Janeway said wryly, then added, "Varatt sent many of his men out to get supplies; they're working a skeleton shift. That's why we had to leave now."

"Then let's get the hell out of here," Chakotay said, and they set off into the night.

They made their way across the dense, rocky countryside. By Janeway's estimate, they had only an hour to move before their escape was detected, so they attempted to get as far as possible. They climbed through dense undergrowth, scrambled over rocks, crossed rivers, all the while silent, concentrated upon the task at hand with a surprising intensity.

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Many hours later, the sun was high in the sky and they had to take a break.

Janeway was sitting with her hands on her knees by a shallow stream, her hair streaming down around a face that was damp with perspiration. Torres sprawled out on a flat rock, and Chakotay knelt on the ground and alternately dipped his cupped hand into the water to splash his heated skin, or to drink deep gulps. He knew the water might not be entirely safe to drink, but he planned on being back on Voyager, with its medical technology, well in time to counter any ill effects.

He felt Janeway's eyes on him, and allowed her to look for a short while before he turned and met her gaze. She looked away.

"You know they'll be looking for us by now," Janeway said loud enough for his ears alone.

"I know," he replied, turning back to concentrate on quenching his thirst.

"We're going to have to be more careful to cover our tracks. And we should sleep now, while it's light, then travel at night—assuming that they're not close to finding us yet."

He didn't say anything.

She was silent for a while, staring at the stream as it trickled by them. Finally, she spoke up, "I'm very sorry for what I did. About the mutiny."

He looked up in disbelief. "You? Sorry?" He looked over at her in disbelief, and caught the torn expression on her face.

She hesitated, then said, "I jumped to the wrong conclusion about you. I should have trusted you more." Chakotay believed in the sincerity of her words; unfortunately, the sentiment had come too late for fifteen officers.

It would have to be water under the bridge, wouldn't it? He'd made a deal.

Chakotay sighed. "I suppose you had reasons for what you did."

"I didn't trust you."

"No, you didn't. You had no reason to."

"Oh, I had plenty of reasons." She looked a little frustrated, but never made eye contact. "I just couldn't. You understand."

He did, somewhat. Or at least he thought he did.

"When I was in the internment camp," she continued quietly, "From the very first day, there were people out to win my trust, who would simply exploit it. I stopped trusting people."

"That's as good a reason as any."

"But you were always open… even when it was about your animosity. I always appreciated that about you."

"I think you were the only one. My superiors never quite appreciated it," Chakotay said with a chuckle. Then, sincerely, "But thank you."

She peered at him strangely. "You're a very forgiving man."

"Sometimes." He backed up enough to sit on a fallen tree trunk. He considered his words carefully, then decided to be honest. "I think I understand you. At least recently I've thought so."

She looked at him curiously. "Do you?"

He peered at her. "We're the same. We were both victims. Different circumstances, yet we reacted in much the same way—we learned to hate. I can understand that, and I can understand what happened to you."

She didn't speak for a minute, her eyes dark with some thought. After a moment, she said quietly, "Do you think we can unlearn?"

"I don't know; it may be too late."

"For us?"

"For me." He paused, gazing at her thoughtfully. "But you… Even taking into account this mutiny fiasco, you've changed a lot recently."

"How so?"

"Would you have had this conversation with me just a month ago?" He asked her.

She looked away.

"We've always seemed to understand each other," he continued. "It's a pity this universe set us as enemies… We'll never know, now." He rose up to his feet, contemplating a few hours sleep before their pending arduous night hike.

"Is that it?" Janeway demanded sharply, pulling him from his train of thought.

He stopped. "Pardon?"

"You'll just dismiss it as fate—we're condemned to be enemies, nothing to be done about it, let's go on with life…"

"I'm not sure what you want from me…"

Janeway looked at him with a strange desperation. "I'm tired of hating, Chakotay. I don't want an enemy any longer. If I have to leave the ship, I will."

His expression softened.

She continued, "Don't you ever feel like you've wasted your whole life? I've never lived. I've gone from one prison to another, one bad situation to another, and I keep repeating the same scenario—I make enemies over and over again, I have new battles to fight after I've won the old… and I just can't do this any longer."

"What do you suggest?" He inquired.

"I want a truce."

"We had a truce once. Allies, remember?" He said ruefully, "That didn't last too long."

She shook her head. "It will be different, this time. It will be permanent." She looked at him with a strange earnestness. "If we go back to the ship, if you let me remain, we go back as captain and first officer, unified in purpose… not as Chakotay and Janeway, mortal enemies."

He sank back down to sit on the log. At his continued silence, Janeway prodded, "What are you thinking?"

"I'm not sure what to think," he admitted. "Up until a few hours ago, you were a spiteful, malevolent victim of my so-called betrayal… now you're more compliant than I've ever seen you." His suspicion was evident in his slow words. "People don't change their minds so suddenly."

That stopped her.

She stood up with a sudden dismayed expression, and seemed to take a moment to compose her thoughts. After a moment, Kathryn turned back to him. "When I was asleep a few nights ago, before the truth serum fully kicked in, I had the most vivid dream. It was a memory, actually, of my first day in the internment camp, when I was nine." Her eyes were hard as she related, "I was… claimed… on the first day by a Terellian named Kem'Por. That's what happened, with young children. Some of the adult element would fight over us as though we were property.

"When I was old enough, I was accepted by the other adolescents who had grouped together for protection in a gang of sorts. We killed Kem'Por, among others who had taken advantage of us over the years. I rose to leadership of the gang by the time I was fifteen, but it was a precarious position. There was never peace in that camp, never a moment unguarded. We'd fight others, we'd fight among ourselves, we'd fight the guards. Later when I escaped, I still fought people. I can't even remember the time before the camp, when I was just a regular child… it seems like another life."

She shot him a brief glance. "The past few days, I haven't managed to get that dream out of my head. Manipulating Varatt, plotting our escape, arguing with you, I just keep remembering that first horrible day… it set me down a path, and the rest of my life has been a repetition of that first time… and I wonder if things really can be different. I never fully accepted the possibility before, never dared to hope. It was so much easier to believe that you'd sent Seska to kill me…" She took a breath. "But I got to thinking, after what you said in the cell. I realized that… if it's true that you never were against me, I might have thrown away the one chance we had for peace. And that was unacceptable. So… what I'm asking you is, do we still have a chance?"

He stood up and paced away from her, digesting all she had told him. He finally said, "If I condone your actions, I will be cheapening the lives of those fifteen murdered crewmembers."

Janeway sat there a second, then her head sank down in acceptance. "I understand," she said quietly.

A beat passed.

He turned back towards her again, mischief glittering in his dark eyes. "Well, I never liked those fifteen people anyway."

Janeway looked up at him sharply, surprise written on her features.

Chakotay took advantage of her surprise to hold out a large hand. "Try this one more time?"

Janeway, hesitated a moment, then grasped his hand in hers. With conviction, she said, "There won't need to be another time."

A few minutes passed, standing there by that trickling stream, grasping hands. When they finally came to themselves and let go, Janeway and Chakotay still had their eyes locked meaningfully, and a relief like neither of them had ever known suddenly came over them.

Their war was finally over.

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"Wake up. Wake up!" Torres's urgent whisper and firm shaking roused Chakotay.

"What?" He asked blearily, blinking sleep out of his eyes. He saw the dark silhouette of Janeway a few feet away, her wiry body tense as she looked downwards towards the pass they'd come from. He jolted upright, knowing something was terribly wrong.

"They're here. They've found us," Torres told him.

Janeway spun around, and he could finally make out her face. She looked tired, though her eyes were flinted with steel. "There are at least two dozen of them. We've got to get to higher ground if Voyager's going to detect us."

Without speaking, they hastily pulled themselves together and started charging at a near run up the rocky mountainside. The past few days had involved them steadily journeying higher and higher up. They'd eaten little, slept even less. As the sun had risen, they'd settled down for sleep. They hadn't seen any signs of pursuit until now, this mid-afternoon.

Torres, with her Klingon strength and agility, quickly ended up a good thirty feet in front of Janeway and Chakotay, who on their parts were finding it difficult to scramble over the jagged boulders and claw up through the snow at this altitude. The steepness of the mountain alone was tiring them. Janeway peered up, squinting against the two suns of the planet, and the peak of the mountain seemed impossibly far away.

"Even if we make it," she panted out next to Chakotay, "It won't be any good if Voyager's not looking for us."

"They're looking for us," Chakotay said, but he himself was uncertain. Seska cared for him, yes, but did she care for him more than she did about her ambition? She could have realized just how much she enjoyed commanding Voyager…

He heard a sharp cry out from beside him, and whirled around to find Janeway huddled on the ground. Chakotay stopped running and rushed to her side.

"Are you all right?"

She looked at him, pain fighting with anger on her features. "Fine. I just have to get my foot out…" He looked down to see her leg twisted painfully into a crevice between two boulders. After she tugged unsuccessfully for a few moments, he grasped her thigh in his hands and tugged himself, dislodging her leg.

"Can you walk?" he asked urgently.

"Yes, I think so," she said through gritted teeth, but when her face went gray as she set weight on it, it was clear she couldn't. He looked up the jagged mountainside… they had a good hundred feet left to climb. There was no way he'd be able to carry her up with his waning strength, the thin mountain air, and the incoming Irette. He possibly could make it if he went on his own… Otherwise, they'd have to face the Irette at some point.

"Go on," Janeway told him, following his gaze. "Give me your rifle, and I'll be fire."

"I'm not going to leave you," he shot back. "You'll be killed."

She smirked. "Look on the bright side—this will save you a lie about those fifteen officers once you get back to the ship. Go!"

Chakotay saw her reasoning, and told himself he should go… yet he found himself rooted by her side. He settled himself next to a boulder that would provide good cover.

"What aren't you leaving?" Janeway demanded, looking at him wonderingly.

Chakotay couldn't answer, because he didn't know himself. A month ago… hell, even a week ago he wouldn't have hesitated to leave her to her own devices. He looked down, and he could see the dark shapes of the Irette rapidly closing on their position. They'd be within weapons range in a few moments.

He met her gaze again. "Captain and first officer… united in purpose… remember?" He charged up the rifle, and slung it up to aim. "I suggest you take cover. When I go down, you can use the rifle."

"Don't do this now!" She yelled at him. "One of us has to make it back! Go!"

"Commander," he said warningly. "I've made my decision. Now, take cover."

Janeway stared at him, absolutely stunned. She never, in a million years, would have expected this of him. She'd known a man once, who had put his life on the line for the sake of hers… But he was the other Chakotay, on the other Voyager… this Chakotay would never… no one had ever…

The first flashes of weapons fire began to explode their way, and Janeway eased herself down behind a boulder. Chakotay was inching in and out of his position, firing his rifle faithfully. She peered around to take stock of the situation. Chakotay was doing well, but it truly was hopeless against twenty men. Even when he eventually would go down and she would have the rifle, their combined efforts would be in vain. They were going to die here. He was going to die here, for her sake. He could have saved his life, but he didn't… all for her.

For the first time in her life, she felt something, some emotion she couldn't define stirring within her. She watched him fire again, occasionally flashing glances her way, and the depth of this sacrifice filled her. She didn't know if she would weep, or if she would laugh, because she didn't understand quite what she was feeling herself.

And then the world faded around them both, with a familiar feeling that nearly made her let out a cry of joy, and she and Chakotay came to standing on the transporter pad. She immediately sank to the ground, the pain in her leg forcing her down. Chakotay grabbed her arm to ease her descent.

Torres stood triumphantly behind the transporter controls, a large grin on her face, and a stunned Cardassian marveling from beside her.

"I told you I could extend the transporter range, p'tak!" she snapped at the Cardassian.

Chakotay and Janeway stared at her a moment, stunned. Torres marched around the controls and grinned at them like a Cheshire cat. "I got to the peak, they beamed me up, and I figured out how to beam you up. Underserved promotion-- my ass!"

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Janeway's ankle was not broken, just very severely strained. She seemed vaguely disappointed with how minor the injury was, but Chakotay reassured her that severely sprained ankles were known to be very painful.

As for Chakotay, he explained to the crew how the Irette had brutally slain the fifteen crewmembers on the surface. He was stunned to learn of Seska's death, but in truth a part of him was a bit relieved. Seska would no longer be around to fracture the Alliance crew from the rebels, or him from Janeway.

The data chip containing information about the mutiny surfaced somehow, but Chakotay and Janeway teamed up to play it off as a prank by the terminally depressed Paris. He never left his quarters anymore, and even the half-breed Torres had begun to pity him somewhat and paid him visits from time to time.

Torres adjusted to her new job well, and slapped anyone upside the head who dared address her as "half-breed". She tolerated Janeway, and eventually forgave Chakotay for not letting her kill the other woman.

Harry Kim still brooded about a better life, a better leader. He was still discontent about many things. But that was just his personality, and the crew accepted that. After the Annika incident, he became aware that women found him uproariously attractive, and his disposition softened somewhat, even as his ego grew.

Annika Hansen remained confined, first in the brig, and then in her quarters. Doctor Fitzgerald started treating her for psychopathic behavior, and as she recovered, she was slowly allowed more privileges around the ship, and even had a hand in planning the construction of the upcoming astrometrics lab.

Tuvok was the new 2nd officer, and performed his job in a way that satisfied both Janeway and Chakotay. He remained stoic as always, and alone seemed untouched by the events of the last few months.

Many months passed, and Janeway and Chakotay both agreed that the ship had calmed down. Sometimes they wondered if it had been Seska all along, aggravating conditions, or if it was the de-fanging of Paris that brought about the change. Sometimes they even decided that it was the cessation of animosities between them that really made the difference.

At first, they started having public dinners together in the mess hall, to assure the crew that they were very much united. As they grew to enjoy each other's company, they began to have private dinners as well. They found in each other useful friends. Janeway taught him some tactical tricks she'd picked up over the years, and Chakotay helped her learn how to read. They speculated sometimes on the nature of the other Janeway and Chakotay's relationship, all the while feeling extremely grateful to them for spurring this change in their lives.

One day, over an old Terran game called pool, Janeway admitted to Chakotay, "I'm very disappointed in you."

He made his shot perfectly, then glanced at her. "Why's that?"

Janeway leaned casually against the pool table as he readied for his next shot. "I expected you to be the type to make the first move. You did say my name when you had sex with Torres."

His shot ricocheted wildly off the far side of the table, missing the hole completely. "What?" he sputtered, staring at her with barely concealed surprise.

"I told you I was watching. She said something to you about you wanting me..."

His throat felt dry. "I didn't realize that you'd heard that." A second, then, "Why have I disappointed you?"

Janeway shrugged. "Because you never followed through."

He stared at her a moment. "I… never thought you'd want me to follow through."

Janeway smiled archly, then leaned over in a provocative way to deposit the winning eight ball into the corner pocket. "Somehow, I didn't think that would stop you."

She stood up again, and now they stared at each other openly and frankly. She seemed to be waiting for him to speak.

He finally said, "We have such a good friendship now…"

Her expression froze. Then she forced a smile. "Of course. You're not interested anymore." She shrugged. "It's fine…"

"Are you saying," he said hesitantly, "That you're interested?"

"No," she replied quickly. She'd taken a while to work up the courage to talk to Chakotay like that, and now she realized with a sickening feeling what a mistake it was. She needed to stop this before she made a total fool of herself. "No, I just wondered…"

He stood there a second. She made as if to leave, then he said, "What I had with Torres was sex. It was purely physical." He paused a moment, then supplied, "But you, I've been linked together with you most of my life… as enemies, as allies, as friends… We're connected together beyond the physical. I guess… I haven't known how to approach you. If we do move beyond this, I want something more… But I don't know how. I've never had that before. I've never felt about someone as strongly as I feel towards you, whether it's hatred, or…" He trailed off, seeming to come to a realization, and he looked at her as if for the first time.

"Love?" finished Janeway quietly. She looked caught up in the moment as well.

"I can understand if you don't reciprocate… I don't understand my feelings myself—"

She silenced him with a wave of her hand, and approached him slowly.

She spoke, "You stayed behind, that day, to save my life. I felt grateful. I felt more than grateful. I've never known anyone but you who would put themselves in danger for me… and after all I've done to you—"

"—and everything I've done to you," he added sadly.

She stared into his eyes. "I've never loved before, either."

After a moment of hesitation, she raised her fingers up, touched his cheek, feeling the warm skin beneath her finger tips.

She continued, "I'm not sure how to go about this… but maybe we can just follow our instincts."

He grasped her hand. She looked at him uncertainly, but his eyes glowed into hers.

"I'd like that."

And grasping her hand within his own, he dipped his head down and gently pressed his mouth to hers. It was a tentative touch with his lips, and then her eyes slid closed and she returned the kiss. Their arms fell naturally around each other, and the world disspeared around them.

Finally, the last of old uncertainties disappeared. Together, locked in an embrace, they began their future as lovers.

THE END