AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey-this is actually a pretty old story. I never had it beta read, consequently there were a number of pretty glaring mistakes in the text. I basically just went back to correct some of the more glaring ones, so if you've read this before, there's nothing new.

I wrote this partly to explain some of the ridiculous continuity issues Voyager had, and partly to redeem Seska. She was probably the most formidable villain Voyager had, yet TIIC managed to turn her into another vindictive, mindless, ex-girlfriend seen all too often on TV

I guess I also wanted to work on Janeway. TPTB touched on a number of interesting character issues-the darkening of her character, her depression in the Void-but failed to follow through or really develop any of these aspects of the character. So, here's my attempt.

PART ONE

"You scream, and by God, I'll kill you."

Janeway tried to take a deep breath, and was hindered somewhat by the arm jamming against her throat. The tip of the phaser pressed painfully into her side. She didn't need to look down to see that it was there.

She had been in the Mission District of San Francisco, walking aimlessly down the hushed street. It was nearly three a.m., and few people were out wandering this area of the city. She knew it wasn't safe, but she didn't care. She didn't care until the sound of rapid, shuffling footsteps met her ears, and before she could turn, an arm locked around her throat, choking off her scream.

She was hauled backwards, by a strength and bulk she couldn't match, and when she recognized the unmistakable feel of a phaser pressed into her side, a part of her froze. She struggled only to keep her feet under her as her assailant shuffled her out of the main street and into the blackness of a side alley.

"You scream, and by God, I'll kill you." The harsh, impassioned voice rang familiar to her ears, and her fears died down even as surprise at his conduct set in.

They now stood close, intimately close, in the blackness, her back crushed against his heaving chest, their breath, visible in the cold of the night, forming one hazy cloud. She clutched up at his arm, silently urging him to ease up his painful grip. After a few moments, he did.

"I could scream," she whispered hoarsely, eyes unfocused on the dark wall in front of her, "But I don't think you'll kill me."

She felt his chest shake in a derisive laugh. "You'd be surprised what I'm capable of right now," he said gruffly, and suddenly, his arm tightened around her throat, and he hauled her backwards again. She stumbled clumsily back against his chest as he urged her with him, and then the phaser eased up from her side; the sound of its beam hissed through the night as an orange glow suffused the walls and then died away. Then the unmistakable sound of a door opening.

He unceremoniously whirled her around and shuffled her into the darkness of the unlit side room. His grip on her remained only briefly before he shoved her away from him, and she stumbled blindly to her knees in the blackness. She heard him slam the door closed, and then light flooded the room as he snapped on his wrist beacon. She twisted around to look back at him, and squinted against the glare.

He only said, "Talk."

She cocked her head. "How did you get here?"

"You mean how did I escape from the confinement center? I had my ways." His voice was angry. "Did I frighten you, Kathryn?"

She rose to her feet, and brushed herself off. "I had nothing to do with your confinement. In any case, it's only temporary."

He scoffed. "And why should I believe anything you say, now?"

She shrugged noncommittally. "You shouldn't." She knew the phaser was still pointed at her. "But I assure you, Starfleet will release the Maquis as soon as processing is complete. I do still have friends here."

"Evidently." He took a step closer. "And how happy were your friends," he spat the word, "at the success of your mission?"

She let out a breath. After a moment, she said, "You wanted me to talk. I assume that's why you brought me here."

Silence.

"How much do you want to know, Chakotay? I would assume they've told you everything."

"I want to hear it from you."

"Fine."

"And I want to hear it all."

"Fine." She darted her glance around the room, and spotted a few overturned pieces of furniture. "I suggest we sit down, then. This will take a while."

His voice was dangerous. "We have all the time in the world."

Kathryn lowered herself to a sitting position. After a pause, he followed suit.

She began, "I presume you want to know just how much I knew about the mission." She paused, and then said quietly, "Well, I didn't know about the mission. Not at first. I wouldn't have taken command of Voyager if I'd known about the mission."

* * *

"What's wrong, Kath?"

Kathryn's face was concerned as she watched the Irish Setter sluggishly nose about the park. "Look at her, Mark. She hasn't been herself lately."

"Ah, I'm sure she's fine," he said with a heavy sigh, and draped an arm around her to try to urge her back down onto the grass; she resisted.

"I'm worried about her," Kathryn said firmly. "I wish I had time to take her to the vet." she turned a pair of concerned, pleading eyes to him, even as a little smile played across her lips.

Mark slumped back down onto the grass, and with a sheepish grin threw up his hands. "All right, all right, for Christ's sakes. I'll take the damn mutt to the doctor."

Kathryn flashed him a smile, and lay down. She snuggled up against him. "Thanks, honey. I'd do this myself, but with Voyager shipping out in a few days."

"You don't need to remind me that you're leaving. I'm already trying to figure out how to spend my Saturday nights."

Kathryn chuckled. She then contented herself with silence, relishing the quiet. This was the last day of their romantic excursion around Ireland. They'd slept in ancestral villages, and picnicked in green meadows under an open, blue sky. Now, after a delicious meal and some red wine, she and Mark snuggled amidst one of the most beautiful stretches of meadow, surrounded by yawning green hills. She craned her neck up to look at him again, and his eyes fell down to meet hers. He smiled.

"What are you thinking?"

She reached up and caressed his cheek. "I was just looking forward to a whole lifetime of this."

He kissed her hand, and murmured, "I'm going to miss you."

Kathryn scoffed. "It's only three weeks, Mark."

He looked away. "Three weeks. Next time how many will it be?"

She raised herself onto an elbow, and said softly, "Just three weeks, Mark. I was assured time and again the missions would average three weeks." She leaned forward to press a kiss upon his lips, then pulled back to smile wryly. "Besides, I already arranged for some time off for the honeymoon."

"How considerate!" he exclaimed dryly, but Kathryn felt his chest muscles relax beneath her fingers. He had accepted her frequent absences long ago.

"I do my best," she shot back.

He crushed her back up against him, then planted a kiss on her forehead. "You know, Molly may not be sick."

"I hope not," Kathryn replied, her mood suddenly darkening.

He glanced wryly at her. "You did say she'd been spending a lot of time with that other pooch, the one owned by the Greenfield family."

Kathryn shot up, and her eyes urgently sought his. "You don't think she's pregnant, do you?"

He shrugged. "I'm no vet."

A smile broke across Kathryn's face, and she looked over at Molly, who was now slowly making her way over to the couple. "Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful-- think of all the puppies!"

Mark lay back, eyes haunted in clear distress. "Oh God, I'm thinking of them."

She patted his cheek lovingly, too happy to acknowledge his trepidation. "Mark, I'll make a dog lover of you if it kills me."

"I'm quaking in my boots," he replied with an honest chuckle. Kathryn curled her arm around him, and in that moment, the future ahead was bright. It was the last time Kathryn could remember everything seeming so full of hope.

* * *

"--I didn't ask for a touching account about your old boyfriend, Kathryn," Chakotay interrupted her. "I want to know about the mission!"

Kathryn was pulled away from her thoughts, and she gazed up at him in the darkness. After a moment, she said softly, "I am getting to the mission. You said you wanted to know everything, so I'm telling you everything."

He held her eye for a few moments. Kathryn was opening her soul to him; the truth was, he just didn't know if he wanted to look inside.

After a moment, he gave a nod for her to continue.

She added, "I just told you that so you realize--realize that I had as much to lose as you did, that I didn't plot this from the beginning."

This. This. The words hearkened back those terrible moments, right after he was called in to meet with Janeway and a few high-ranking admirals-- Hayes, Nechayev, Paris. He'd been excited about being on Earth; he'd been nervous about recriminations against the Maquis. He came into the room and immediately began to accept responsibility for the actions of his Maquis crew when Admiral Hayes waved him silent.

"As far as we're concerned, your actions as a Maquis have been more than redeemed by your actions as a Starfleet officer." Hayes smiled, and he felt Kathryn tense next to him. "You performed a valuable service for Starfleet."

"Service?" Chakotay asked, and cast a confused glance over at Kathryn. She just stood there at attention, looking straight ahead of her, eyes like granite. She let the admirals explain everything to him. She just stood there the whole goddamn time, silent.

And then Janeway was speaking again.

* * *

To tell you the truth, it wasn't until we returned from Ocampa that I received the order. A transmission. Starfleet Command had imbedded it into the computer, to be fed directly to my console the minute Voyager's sensors detected a pattern similar to the array's. I overlooked it at first. I spent the whole first night in the Delta Quadrant in my ready room, and I didn't even notice the transmission. I guess they're lucky I saw it at all. And when I did see it, I didn't even know if I'd follow it.

* * *

She couldn't believe it; she just couldn't believe it.

What the hell kind of mission was this? What was Starfleet pulling on her?

She stared at the frozen image of Admiral Hayes on the miniature view screen. She had returned from the surface of Ocampa with Tuvok, Paris, and Kim only a few minutes ago. They were planning to return to the array, to convince the Caretaker to return Voyager to the Alpha Quadrant. Chakotay was on the Maquis ship with his own wayward crewmember, B'Elanna Torres. Everything seemed to be falling into order. until she entered her ready room to grab some data from her console and found an encrypted message, recorded almost a week before, blinking on her console.

Admiral Hayes, the old windbag who tried to make people laugh at cocktail parties, now looked solemn as he informed her that if she was viewing this message, then Voyager's sensors had obviously detected a powerful entity known as the Caretaker. He listed her duties and obligations as a Starfleet officer to protect the welfare of the Federation, and abide by the protocols set by Starfleet's guiding principles and her superior officers.

Then he ordered her to ensure the complete and final destruction of the array. The only way for her to do that, he told her, was for Voyager to remain in the Delta Quadrant for the time being, to make sure that not a single bulkhead remained intact.

Destroy the array? Did they seriously mean her to destroy the array? And strand her crew in the Delta Quadrant? Like hell.

Was this some sort of joke?

Or a nightmare?

"The reasons for this must remain confidential, for the time being, Captain. All will be revealed in due time." Hayes then continued, impassive, as though he were reading tomorrow's lunch menu, "But I cannot stress enough the importance of this endeavor. You must ensure the destruction of this array. The freedom of our quadrant depends upon your success."

Just as Janeway felt her head reel from the implications of this order, he added that all hope of return was not lost: there was a known portal, about 4,000 light years away, that would take Voyager most of the journey back to the Alpha Quadrant. "If you set the course now being displayed upon your console, you should reach what Starfleet Intelligence has uncovered as an ancient Iconian portal that will shorten your journey by a good sixty-five years." He then smiled. "I look forward to seeing you in about five years time, with some interesting stories to tell. Godspeed, Captain Janeway. And good luck."

I'm not going to do it. There's no way in hell I'm going to do this.

Janeway staggered out of the office, numbly ordering Tuvok to accompany her onto the array, her mind awhirl with information. Starfleet already knew about the Caretaker? But how! And why did Hayes want her to destroy it? What was so goddamn important about the Caretaker that she had to maroon her crew on the other side of the galaxy for a good four years? And what about Mark! They were supposed to get married in three months! She couldn't be out here five years!

On the array, the entity begged her to destroy him, to ensure the survival of the Ocampa. Hayes's order still fresh in her mind, the entity's pleas on behalf of the Ocampa, and the brutality of the Kazon currently pummeling her ship fresh on her mind, Janeway gradually allowed herself to be convinced to go ahead and destroy the array. Silently thankful to the Caretaker for giving her 1) an excuse to destroy the array, and 2) some justification in her own mind for the ghastly deed she was about to perform, Janeway returned to the ship, and ordered Tuvok to fire the two tri-cobalt devices at the array (devices that appeared so conveniently in Voyager's weapons manifest. She hadn't even thought to question the inventory when the ship departed Deep Space Nine!)

B'Elanna Torres ripped forward angrily when Janeway announced her intent, and demanded to know who Janeway thought she was to make the decision for all of them. Chakotay surprised Janeway by interceding on her behalf, and Janeway felt a rush of gratitude that he'd defended her actions.

The array blew to pieces, and Admiral Hayes's order was fulfilled. Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant, and Janeway was still a good Starfleet officer.

Her only comfort was the knowledge that the Iconian portal was less than 4,000 light years away.

Just four years, she consoled herself, every time she began to feel the wear of the quadrant.

Four years, and we'll be home.

* * *

"Iconian portal?" Chakotay demanded. He blinked. "You never told me about this. We never encountered any portal."

"I know," Janeway whispered, her eyes haunted. "There was no portal."

His expression softened. "You had the array destroyed, upon orders. You followed those orders partly because you expected there to be this. portal, this way home Hayes mentioned. Did he lie to ensure your cooperation?"

She smiled wryly. "He's not that deceptive, Chakotay. He was telling the truth. There was a portal, but not by the time we arrived. I'll get to it."

He looked away from her. "All that time, I never suspected you of lying." His dark eyes flitted back to her. "When we arrived at Earth," he took a deep breath, his large chest puffing out, "When they told us that you'd been on a mission for Starfleet, I wanted to kill you, Kathryn. I honestly did. I'd never felt so. betrayed by someone in my life. Even Seska." A pause. "I think I still feel that way."

"You have every right to feel that way, Chakotay, but--" she reached out a hand towards him, but he made no move either towards or away from it. His eyes upon her were hard and judgmental.

Kathryn sighed.

"I think you better continue with your story," he said, voice suddenly hard. "I want to know just how you pulled off this little charade under our very noses. I want to know why."

"I nearly didn't succeed," Kathryn admitted. "There was always one person who suspected me, who seemed to know something others didn't. I should have known why she knew, why she read me like a book. She was Seska."

* * *

It wasn't so bad, at first. I knew that a way home was out there, just 4,000 light years away. The crews were integrating nicely, and you and I began to form an easy camaraderie. I knew that as soon as we approached the coordinates of the Iconian portal, I could order intensive scans of the nearby sectors, until we miraculously stumbled upon the portal as a way home. In the meantime, the crew never suspected. Or at least that's what I thought.

* * *

Janeway grasped her shoulder and lolled her head to the side, stretching her tense neck. She'd spent the good part of the last two days arguing with the Prelates of Pentara IV, and she was looking forward to Voyager's arrival later in the day to retrieve her along with the rest of the away team.

Ensigns Seska and Rollins were waiting on the street outside of the ambassadorial halls when she emerged into the fading daylight, expectant looks on their faces.

"Well," Janeway said with a smile, "It took two days, but I've got the dilithium. Voyager's returning tonight, so you both have until about 1900 hours to enjoy the city. I'll meet you at the transport site then."

Instead of departing immediately, the crewmen lingered. "Congratulations, Captain," Rollins said. "What are you planning to do, ma'am?"

"I plan on getting a drink, Mr. Rollins, and perhaps doing some shopping. You're welcome to come, if you'd like?" She cocked her head at him.

He offered her his easy smile. "Thank you for the offer, Captain, but I actually was planning to look at the local art gallery. I'm told it's the finest in four sectors."

"Very good, Mr. Rollins, enjoy yourself." With a nod, she gave him permission to depart. She then turned towards the other ensign, that Seska woman, who was leaning back against the wall, partially obscured by the shadows of the foyer. "And you, Ensign?"

Seska's arms uncrossed, and she glided forward out of the shadows of the foyer. "I take it that drink offer's open to me, captain?" Her sharp brown eyes were intent upon Janeway.

"Of course," Janeway said without hesitation, offering Seska a smile that the other woman returned after a moment. Janeway felt the back of her neck prickle; something about Seska's manner towards her set her on edge.

"Then I'd love to have a drink, Captain."

Seska graciously inclined her head for Janeway to lead the way, and with a half smile, Janeway began to walk down the street, the other woman falling apace beside her.

They made small talk, and Janeway considered the other woman. Seska's manner towards her had often been brusque, more restrained than that of the other Maquis. While Kathryn assumed that Seska perhaps simply had more trouble adjusting to Janeway's command than the other Maquis, even that logical explanation left Janeway with doubts.

During the past three months, since she'd appointed Torres Chief Engineer, Janeway would make some formal, and some not-so-formal inspections of engineering about once every week. Some crewmembers were defiant around her, some were nervous, others outright scared, and some cocky. Seska was a bit contemptuous, but that alone did not make Janeway nervous. It was the manner in which the other woman looked at her.

As though she could see right through her.

They reached a bar of some sort, and Seska's eyes glittered mischievously as she looked over some of the rather frightening sounding drinks.

"Give us the two of your strongest!" she exclaimed jubilantly, sending the waiter away. At Janeway's doubtful look, Seska exclaimed, "We're planet side, Captain, and even you must have to relax now and then. I know Chakotay well enough to realize that being captain is a tough job. I'm sure it's especially difficult for you out here."

"Amen to that," Janeway said softly, a half smile pulling at her lips.

The server deposited the two steaming drinks before the women, and doubt once again flickered across Janeway's face. Seska prodded her, "One drink never hurt anyone. It's on me."

Janeway felt a smile creep across her lips. "Just one drink."

Seska raised her cup into the air, and Janeway followed suit.

"To the Alpha Quadrant," Seska exclaimed.

"To the Alpha Quadrant," Janeway echoed, clinked her glass with Seska's, and then the two women took deep swigs of the strong liquid.

Janeway initially winced at the strength, then slowly felt the alcohol work its way into her system. She relaxed into Seska's company, the alcohol slowly dimming the unspoken barriers between the two. They fell into an easy conversation, ordered a few more drinks. It felt good to have some female companionship after all these long months.

Janeway was careful to moderate her alcohol intake; she was well trained enough to recognize when she could and when she could not have any more. Though she was not intoxicated, she'd drunk enough to fail to notice when Seska stopped consuming any more of her own drinks.

Seska seemed to giggle at something. "Don't look now, Captain, but the Pentaran behind you seems to have taken your number."

Janeway threw a casual glance back over her shoulder, to see a reptilian male quickly avert his eyes. "Too scaly," Janeway announced, maybe a bit too loudly. She looked back at Seska. "Looks like a lizard." The other woman snorted. Carried by the conversation, Janeway added with a crazy smile, "Or maybe a Cardassian. He's got that slimy look about him." Seska's smile seemed to freeze on her face, and Janeway quickly regretted mentioning the Cardassians. She knew that Seska, as a Bajoran and a Maquis, must have had some bad experiences with them.

A beat passed, and Seska remarked slyly, "Well, company in any form can't be too bad. I suppose it gets lonely in the big chair, doesn't it, Captain?"

Grateful that the other woman had steered the conversation into easier waters, Janeway shrugged. "I don't give it much thought." But she did. Oh, how she did.

"But you can't be alone for the next seventy-five years. Even your fianc?an't wait forever," Seska pressed.

Janeway looked into her drink. Four years. "I'm hoping he won't have to," she said softly, suddenly feeling a pang of longing for his easy smile, his warm eyes. They would have been married a week now. They would have been on Risa together.

"Well, you always have Chakotay," Seska's voice sounded casual enough, but Janeway could detect an unusual strain of emotion in the other woman's eyes. "Everyone knows he's got it bad for you." The tone of the other woman's voice was slightly harsh, and Janeway had the creeping sense that she was jealous.

To assuage her, Janeway waved dismissively. "We're just friends. Nothing more."

"So you're not fucking him?" Seska asked intently.

Janeway's eyebrows rose at the use of language, and Seska sputtered a laugh, waving at the alcohol. "I'm sorry, Captain, it's the alcohol talking. Of course I know that's just a crazy rumor."

"A rumor's going around about Chakotay and me?" Janeway exclaimed, both surprised and faintly amused. "Really?"

Seska laughed, but her voice rang somewhat hollow. "You'd be astonished what crazy rumors circulate around the ship, around us folks on the lower decks. According to hearsay, you and Chakotay are lovers, you and Paris are lovers, you and Harry Kim are lovers," Kathryn almost spit out her drink laughing at that. Seska, on a roll, added, "And you know what else I heard-- an absolutely crazy rumor."

"What?" Kathryn asked, grinning.

"They're saying," Seska said, voice light, "That you were under orders to destroy the array, and that Starfleet actually had some crazy secret mission for you in the Delta Quadrant."

Janeway's heart clenched in her chest, and she looked up sharply at Seska.

Seska's expression had lost the slightest hint of airiness, which later led Kathryn to wonder if the drinks had even touched her in the first place. Her eyes were suddenly fastened onto Janeway's face, intense and keen, scrutinizing Janeway like a hawk.

Janeway couldn't take a breath. She knew the expression on her face could only be construed as mute shock, and the pleasant whirling in her head had suddenly dissolved into a clear, panicked focus. The other woman's careful scrutiny did nothing to reassure Janeway as to the nature of her remark.

She knows, she knows, SHE KNOWS!

"Crazy rumor, isn't it, Captain?" Seska's asked again, her expression suddenly incredibly comprehensible to Janeway--the look of calculated indifference, of masked cunning.

Janeway was suddenly reminded full well why she avoided this woman, why she couldn't stand being around her, why she had to stay on her toes around this woman.

Janeway forced her gawking mouth closed, and pulled at her lips to form a half-hearted smile. "That's incredible. People actually believe that?"

Seska studied her face intently. Her voice was almost a whisper when she replied, "Like I said, Captain, it's just another crazy rumor."

Janeway could hear her heart pounding in her ears, and she laughed, a false, forced laugh. "Well, never underestimate the power of the imagination."

She found herself rising to her feet, swaying slightly. Seska didn't move, her eyes alone traveling with Janeway's.

"Well, I think I've had more than enough to drink for today." Janeway forced another shaky smile. "I think I'll get some shopping done. Are you going to stay here, or would you like to accompany me?" She prayed Seska would decline the offer.

After an interminable moment of thought, Seska let her off the hook. Her expression slipped back into that of a comrade in arms, a companion for a drink. "I think I'll just down some more before I return to the daily grind."

"Don't get too drunk, Ensign," Janeway tried to come off as both stern and joking. She failed at both. "There are some bad people out there."

Seska smiled, her eyes intent. "There certainly are, Captain Janeway."

Janeway turned away, on shaky legs, feeling Seska's eyes on her back. She hoped, prayed, that she'd salvaged something from that mess of a conversation, cursed herself for ever indulging in alcohol and the promise of some companionship with one of her crew. She hoped to God that she'd managed to cover up her momentary slip.

But when she turned to glance over her shoulder, Seska's eyes were still on her--eyes that were sharp and knowing.

* * *

Seska read me like a book. Fool that I was, I ignored every instinct I had and I played right into her hands. She knew I was lying. I hadn't yet learned to smile into a person's face while I plunged a dagger into his back. She was the one who taught me that. She was the master of deception, and na? fool that I was, I couldn't hold my own against her, no matter how much I deluded myself, no matter how much I lied to those around me. That was the first mistake I made with Seska, the first time I overestimated myself and underestimated her--that first day on Pentara. That wasn't the last.

That day was enough to raise my suspicions, though I didn't know just what I suspected Seska of. I kept an eye on her, even asked you some about her. "Captain-ly concern", you understand, Chakotay. The fact was that I wanted answers; I wanted to know just why I was ordered to strand my crew in the Delta Quadrant. I wanted to know why, in Admiral Hayes's words, the freedom of the Alpha Quadrant depended upon our success.

* * *

She knew Chakotay realized that she was watching him, and she waited until he looked up. "What is it, Captain?" He asked her softly.

Janeway felt a bit embarrassed all of a sudden; she didn't want the handsome commander to think she was staring at him like some lovesick teenager. Her thoughts were actually on someone else entirely.

"Commander Chakotay, can you tell me something? Something just between us?"

He leaned forward curiously, suddenly paying close attention. "Confidential, I promise." Janeway relaxed. She trusted him. They'd only been together on this ship for six months, and yet she already trusted him.

"Can you tell me about Seska?"

Chakotay drew a breath. "What do you want to know?" A beat, then, "Are you asking about Seska and me?"

"Seska and you?" Kathryn asked. He must have realized that she was clueless about what he was referring to, and she could see a flicker of regret on his expression that he'd even mentioned it, but he had to explain further now.

"We were involved. for quite some time."

"I see."

"We aren't anymore," he added quickly. "And I promise you, we work well together; it won't complicate any workings of the chain of command."

Janeway nodded slowly, feeling an irrational surge of irritation at the thought of this man involved with Seska. Seska didn't deserve him; he deserved someone.

Janeway broke away from her thoughts, and said, "You must know Seska quite well, then."

Chakotay nodded once. "I think I know her better than anyone else on this ship; she doesn't talk much about her past."

"Why did she join the Maquis?" Kathryn asked. There was a silence, as if Chakotay was debating what he should say.

Finally, "The Cardassians killed her family, butchered them all. She was just a child." A pause, then, "A few years later, around the time the Federation partitioned out the Demilitarized Zone, she was leaving a bar and was. assaulted by a number of Cardassian troops." Janeway caught her breath, and Chakotay added sadly, "The Cardassian Government never punished them, so she came to us."

"That's horrible," Janeway breathed, looking swiftly down at her hands.

Chakotay just nodded. The two sat across from each other, on either side of her desk. They shared a long, grim silence.

* * *

Seven years later, in the Mission District of San Francisco, Chakotay's face now looked stormy. "That lying bitch," he mumbled, remembering those heart-to-heart conversations he'd had with Seska, curled up together in his quarters on the Maquis ship. "She played every chord of sympathy she could, didn't she? And it was all a goddamn lie."

Janeway was watching him, and he hated that her face looked so damn compassionate. He twitched his hand, drew her eyes back to the phaser in them. "Are you going to continue, Captain?"

Janeway almost smiled knowingly, her eyes glassy and faraway. She knew Chakotay would never use that phaser on her; let him maintain his pretense of control. She could tell him all he had to hear.