I've always thought TPTB missed a wonderful opportunity in so many ways with the seventh season episode 'Imperfection.' This story attempts to remedy that. It's in two layers: the narrative framework, which takes place back in the AQ, and the bulk of the story, which is told from Kathryn Janeway's POV. Although I'd say this is primarily a crew story, there's a very strong J/C element running throughout. I've decided to follow M.C. Moose's wonderful example and take the Janeway-Chakotay relationship as a matter of fact; therefore, I wouldn't call this a romance story as such. PLEASE PLEASE review or email me at with feedback. Constructive criticism or flattery only, please.

Disclaimer: The Uusual.

p e r f e c t l y I m p e r f e c t

p r o l o g u e

Phoebe Janeway stared at her elder sister with wide blue eyes. Her gaze then flicked from Kathryn to the big man sitting beside her, their hands entwined on the real wooden table that stood in the centre of the traditional kitchen in the Janeway homestead, Bloomington, Indiana.

"How did you do it, Chakotay?" Phoebe blurted out at last.

Her sister raised an auburn eyebrow at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Phoebe moved her hands in an expansive gesture. "She's so- so relaxed! It's like she's finally decided it's OK to be human."

"I've always known I'm human!" Kathryn retorted defensively as Chakotay's hand tightened on hers.

Phoebe did not see the gesture, and shrugged of her sister's disclaimer. . "Yeah, sure. You've always been a perfectionist, Kath, and it only got worse once you entered Starfleet. I used to wonder how Mark managed to put up with you, but figured he was so uptight himself it likely didn't matter, but now-"

"Yes?" Kathryn prompted, glaring.

The glare had no effect.

Phoebe cocked her head to one side, and grinned. "Doesn't work, Kath. I'm not one of those poor blighters on your crew. Anyway, as I was saying, I expected you to be even more anally retentive after seven years in the Delta Quadrant being Captain for twenty-four seven-"

"Phoebe!"

"-but instead you're actually someone I recognise. A woman. My sister, Kathryn Marie. So, I want to know what you did to her, Chakotay?" Phoebe flashed her sister's second in command an evil grin. "Beside the obvious, of course."

Kathryn turned an interesting shade of crimson, and Chakotay tried not to laugh.

"Why do you assume it's my doing?" he asked when he knew he could keep a straight face.

"Oh, please. Kathryn's an old stick-in-the-mud. She'd never change her ways unless she was made to."

"Hey! Nobody makes me do anything!"

Phoebe snorted.

Chakotay squeezed Kathryn's fingers, and gave her a very gentle smile. "Actually, I had very little to do with it," he admitted. "Much as I hate to say it, I'd have to agree that your assessment of Kathryn was sound until- Ouch!"

"You deserved it!"

"And you've been taking lessons from B'Elanna!"

"What makes you think I needed them, Commander?"

Phoebe banged on the table. "Never mind that. Kathryn, leave the poor guy alone. Chakotay, get on with it."

"Yes, ma'am," Chakotay said meekly, and found himself the recipient of two alarmingly similar glares. He shook his head slightly, and continued. "For most of our journey, Kathryn was as you described her. In fact, difficult as it may be to believe, she became worse as the years go on. That's not a criticism," he added quickly, "simply a fact. I'm not sure you can understand what it was like for Kathryn out there, Phoebe. Hell, I was her First Officer, and even I wouldn't claim to fully understand. It's a testimony to your sister's strength that was she was able to get through it at all."

"Albeit rather singed around the edges," Kathryn murmured.

"That's experience for you, Kathryn," Chakotay said, and Phoebe knew his attention was now totally focused on her sister. "You made a lot of excellent decisions- and some very bad ones. You reaped the whirlwind on both, and learned from them. That shows you're capable of growth and change, and at our ages, that's no bad thing." His eyes twinkled as he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

"Nice of you to say so, but we both know it wasn't until Seven nearly died that I made any real attempt to change."

Kathryn's voice was soft and pained, Phoebe thought, and her fingers played with her coffee cup in a nervous movement that Phoebe remembered from their shared childhood. Suddenly, she felt awkward and guilty.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I've obviously stumbled on some sensitive ground here. I didn't mean to intrude."

Kathryn looked up at her, and smiled- or tried to. "It's OK, Phoebs. You're my sister- my baby sister! I guess it would be naïve of me to expect you to accept any changes you see without question. You never have before!"

Phoebe saw her sister's left eyelid flutter slightly in a tentative wink, and realised that the older woman was trying to retain some of the earlier lightness. She forced a grin.

"Yeah, nosy little sis, that's me."

Despite the attempt at levity, an uncomfortable silence descended.

"Are you going to tell Phoebe?" Chakotay prompted gently. "Try telling it like you remember it, as you lived it. I think it would be good for you, Kathryn. "

Kathryn raised her eyes to his face. "Yes." She took a deep breath and faced her younger sister, blue eyes meeting blue.

"It's nearly a year ago, now, shortly after the Unimatrix Zero episode. Tom and B'Elanna had just got married, and for once, things were going well. We even succeeded in contacting the families of our Borg twins- Azan and Rebi." Kathryn paused and sat in silence, her gaze distant. "It started the day the children left…."