Hey there! This is my ending for Endgame!
Angst, tears, friendship and declarations of love abound in the first few hours of Voyager's homecoming. If you're a fan of J/C, P/T, D/7 and the friendships between the command crew, then I hope you like it!
This hasn't been beta-ed, so any errors or typos are my own!
Lucky Number Seven
Kathryn felt a wave of relief wash over her as she reached her ready room.
So near yet so far...
For once she wasn't thinking of another missed opportunity to get home. Earth stared at her from her ready-room window. Some paperwork had to be done before Voyager landed at the Starfleet parade grounds. For now, they had assumed a high orbit above the planet.
Sadly, Kathryn's thoughts weren't about the fact that they were home.
As Tom had left the bridge to meet his little girl for the first time, she'd known...
Chakotay hadn't come to her. He'd stayed out of his seat. He'd stayed closer to Seven.
"Well Admiral, we got our cake," she spoke to her late older self, "We crippled the Borg, and we got to eat our cake too...We got home..."
Angry at herself, she spat, "pity about the cherry on top, and that was what I was most looking forward to..."
Kathryn gazed back at the door of her ready-room, thinking about Chakotay who at this moment was piloting Voyager.
"...But he's forbidden fruit now, isn't he?"
A wave of hopelessness washed over her, and then the tears began to fall. Normally she wouldn't indulge herself in this way. But she could blame the tears on the fact they were home, couldn't she.
The look she'd drawn them had confused Seven momentarily. It was an expression she'd seldom seen during her four years as an individual. But after a few seconds she'd figured out what the expression on Kathryn Janeway's face had meant.
She was broken.
A few further moments of confusion, and she'd figured out why. After Captain Janeway had retreated to her ready room, she'd looked at the back of Chakotay's head as he sat at the helm.
Kathryn Janeway loved him. She loved Chakotay. It was evident now, so very overt despite her mentor's best efforts to conceal the fact.
Seven felt a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. Startled at the physical intensity of her newfound emotions, she was unsure of what to do. But suddenly the bridge was making her feel very claustrophobic.
"Commander, I must return to Astrometrics to take the sensors offline," She left the bridge before he had a chance to answer her.
As the doors of the turbolift closed, the full implications of her actions over the previous weeks hit her, and a feeling of despair engulfed her as tears threatened.
What have I done?
He felt hollow inside. Utterly shocked to the point of physical pain. He bit at his bottom lip, thankful that the crew were all too busy to look him in the eye.
As Tom had left the bridge to go to Miral and B'Elanna, Kathryn had asked him to take the helm.
The look in her eye was one he'd not seen before, but he'd recognised it instantly.
Chakotay had never seen that look on her face. Not after her 'dear John' letter from Mark, not after her treacherous dalliance with Kashyk, not after the silent end of her relationship with Michael.
Not even after her bittersweet romance with Jaffen.
No, Chakotay had never seen that look in Kathryn's eyes before.
The look that told him he'd broken her heart.
Her eyes had never met his, but he knew her so well, and he could read her like a book.
Chakotay had taken his seat at the helm in total silence, Seven was the furthest thing from his mind. Her request to return to Astrometrics had barely registered in his ears. No-one on the bridge had spoken, as if they'd picked up on the vibe.
Ayala, Chung and some of the other bridge officers had contacted their friends on the lower decks, and had been greeted by cheers and shrieks of delight. Hickman had even asked Ayala why it was so quiet up there.
As Chakotay shifted Voyager's orbit slightly to allow a Galaxy-class starship to leave McKinley dock, he was overcome by guilt.
How can I repair the damage I've caused?
Kathryn's thoughts were interrupted by the Doctor's voice.
"Doctor to Janeway, B'Elanna says she's ready for visitors, and she wants you to meet your god daughter!"
She couldn't but smile as she thought of the baby, and for a moment, she pushed all the negativity from her mind.
"Tell B'Elanna I'm on my way!" she responded brightly.
Kathryn made her way to the door, but the thought of seeing Chakotay immediately changed her mood. She decided to go via the link corridor to the secondary turbolift instead.
"I have to go," Tom sighed sadly as he left his wife's side, "Dad will be wanting the guided tour, with a stop to see the main attraction," he winked, indicating the sleeping bundle in B'Elanna's arms.
"Don't be gone too long," B'Elanna smiled while pointing a finger at her husband.
Tom smirked sadly, "Two hours old and I already have to get back to work...I'll need to argue for more paternity leave!"
"We need you at the helm Tom. We've gotten all the way home...It'd be a shame if the journey ended with Chakotay crashing us into Starfleet headquarters."
This earned a chuckle from Tom, "I'd better get up there...if Chakotay lands us with his usual 'flair', our little angel might get a tad upset."
Tom look one last look at Miral, their little miracle, before leaving B'Elanna's side.
As he reached the door, he bumped into Kathryn.
"Captain!" He responded brightly.
"Tom...congratulations!" She smiled, enveloping him in a hug. "Back to the bridge already?"
"Uhm...my dad's going to be beaming over shortly."
Kathryn smirked and gripped his shoulder, and shot him a knowing look, "Good luck!"
Tom left sickbay reluctantly, smiling at his captain, and looking back at his family.
Kathryn's smile widened as she walked over to B'Elanna's bedside.
"Thank you," B'Elanna beamed back at her, moving slightly so Kathryn could see Miral properly.
"She's absolutely beautiful." Kathryn said quietly.
"Would you like to hold her?"
B'Elanna studied her captain's stunned reaction.
"Yes...I'm honoured," she said finally, her grin widening.
B'Elanna carefully handed Miral over to Kathryn. Kathryn held her gently in her arms, and the baby didn't even stir.
She'd make a great mom, thought B'Elanna.
The thought was replaced by a pang of regret as she realised Kathryn Janeway would probably never have a child of her own. She'd given up almost her last childbearing years to keep the crew alive and get them home safely.
"Hello there," Kathryn spoke to Miral, "oh you're such a beautiful girl...yes you are."
"You're a natural," B'Elanna smiled, "I hope we can count on you to babysit!"
"We've called her Miral Kathryn, after the two most important women in my life."
B'Elanna felt her own eyes well up as she noticed her Captain's eyes grow moist.
"Oh B'Elanna...I...Oh she's awake."
B'Elanna instinctively held her arms out for her daughter, and Kathryn returned her.
Miral was still quiet and contented, staring round at everything in the room.
"B'Elanna...I...I don't know what to say except, thank you."
B'Elanna only smiled back at her, preoccupied with Miral.
"B'Elanna, I'd suggest you put her back in the incubator before she gets wound up." The Doctor said from his office.
"Yes sir." B'Elanna joked in response, putting Miral down to sleep.
A voice came over the intercom.
"Tuvok to Captain Janeway. Lieutenant Commander Taylor, Science officer of the USS Nova has requested permission to beam aboard. She says she has instructions from Admiral Nechayev to download all our cartographic data."
"Grant her permission, but check over the orders."
"You'll have a lot of work to do I'll bet," B'Elanna gave Kathryn a knowing look.
Kathryn merely nodded in response, as if resigned to doing paperwork. B'Elanna looked more closely at her face. Had she been crying earlier?
"I guess so," she shrugged, "Anyway, I'd better get back to the bridge, but I'll stop back before we disembark."
B'Elanna nodded, wordlessly, studying Kathryn. Something was bothering her, and in-turn it bothered B'Elanna.
Kathryn look one last look at Miral, and seemed to be on the verge of tears as she turned and walked towards the door.
For a moment, B'Elanna considered letting her leave, but she couldn't.
"Kathryn." She said loudly as Janeway reached the door.
It was the first time she'd ever called her by her name and not her rank, and B'Elanna hoped she didn't mind.
The use of her first name seemed to be too much, and B'Elanna watched, dismayed and Kathryn hunched over, and she heard her begin to cry.
Not thinking, she got up out of bed and immediately headed over to Kathryn. The Doctor had also noticed the Captain's distress, and had been on his way to make sure she was alright, but had retreated when he saw B'Elanna move towards her.
"I'm so sorry B'Elanna," Kathryn choked, wiping her eyes, "You shouldn't be up and walking about...you just had a baby two hours ago," she protested at the attention.
"I'm half-Klingon, remember, we're back to normal a few hours after giving birth, and don't you dare apologise for being upset."
Kathryn choked back another sob, "I'm fine...really I am."
"No you're not...Now come on, sit down and talk to me."
"But the baby-"
"Miral's fine right now, and you obviously need to get something off your chest."
B'Elanna led Kathryn over to one of the other biobeds, and waited until the older woman was seated, before joining her.
"Kathryn," she used her name again, deliberately, "I know you're going to tell me you're fine, that you're just overwhelmed with being home. But I know you, and I consider you to be one of my closest friends."
Kathryn smiled at that.
"You've been here for me so many times over the past seven years. I owe you my life a dozen times over. You let me make something of my life...You let me see past my anger and my hate, and let me see the better part of myself.
"I owe you everything.
"For these past seven years, I've never been able to come close to repaying you...I've never been able to be there for you because you're my Captain...but you're not going to be my Captain for much longer...so sit down, and tell me what's wrong."
For the first time since she'd broken down, Kathryn looked her in the eye.
"B'Elanna you just had a baby-"
"-And I'm fine, and the baby's fine, and you're not."
Kathryn smiled again, and took B'Elanna's hand, a silent way of saying thank you.
"I...uh...For all these years, there have been so few things that have kept me going: The thought of seeing my mother and my sister, seeing my cousins and all my friends; The thought of seeing the crew reunited with their loved ones; And I guess my ego kept me going too!" She smiled shyly, alluding to the fact she'd achieved the nigh-on impossible in getting the ship home.
"But there was something else keeping you moving forward, wasn't there?"
As fresh tears formed, Kathryn hung her head, nodding silently, and it all became clear to B'Elanna.
"What's the idiot done?" B'Elanna sighed.
Kathryn looked up, shocked at being 'found out'.
"You heard me...What's Chakotay done to upset you?"
"I-I...I never knew that anyone had..."
"Had figured out you two love each other?"
Kathryn sniggered sadly at that comment, "He doesn't love me, B'Elanna."
Confused, B'Elanna continued, "But I've seen the way he looks at you and how happy he is when you're off-duty and just talking. Heck if I had a credit for every time I've seen him grinning all the way to your quarters with a bottle of wine..."
"He loves Seven."
B'Elanna blinked in shock.
Getting up, she tried to make sense of what she'd just heard.
"Run that by me again?"
"He loves her. Simple."
"They're together...I don't know how long for, but I know it's the real deal...The Admiral told me..."
With that, the tears stopped, and the Captain seemed to physically shrink in size, suddenly becoming very small.
"But...he loves you," B'Elanna didn't accept Chakotay's sudden change of heard, "He still looks at you with such love..."
"The Admiral said that Chakotay and Seven would get married within the next few years...And she said," she choked, "that Seven would die on an away mission, and that Chakotay would never be the same again...That he'd die of a broken heart..."
B'Elanna was shocked by this story, but knew she had to keep trying. She had to help Kathryn regain her hope she'd live 'happily-ever-after'.
"Isn't it possible the Admiral said that to scare you into admitting your feelings?"
Kathryn shook her head, but B'Elanna was undeterred, "Think of it this way, she could have chosen not to tell you...If they're already a couple, they've been very quiet about it, and you might not have found out about it until it was far more serious. Your older self came back to a time when their relationship's obviously new to give you the chance to do things differently."
Kathryn was silent, looking at B'Elanna who couldn't help but smile a little.
"Are you seeing the light yet?"
"...Maybe...But am I too late? Has his heart moved on? Is he angry at me for turning my back on us for so many years?"
"How are you going to know unless you tell him how you feel?"
"Do I have that right? To interfere? I brushed him off so many times, and I must have hurt him...What if I can't make him happy? If I truly love him, I'll let him be happy with Seven."
"Kathryn...You're one of the most selfless people I know...but trust me when I say this is one situation where you have to do what's best for you. Do you want to become the Admiral? Bitter and alone?"
"Absolutely not," Kathryn admitted.
"Tuvok to Janeway, Admiral Mitsuya will be beaming aboard within the hour. He wishes to discuss the arrangements for our arrival at Starfleet Headquarters."
"Thank you Tuvok, I'll be up there shortly."
Kathryn wiped under her eyes and took a deep breath, pulling herself together.
"I'd better get back to the bridge."
B'Elanna nodded, saddened that the mask of command was reasserting itself.
"If you need anything...anything at all...You come and talk to me or Tom."
Kathryn nodded, and got up to leave.
Upon getting to the door, she hesitated.
"B'Elanna...thank you so much for talking to me...and for everything."
"You're welcome," B'Elanna smiled warmly.
"And congratulations again! She's beautiful, just like her mother."
Seven didn't know when her legs had stopped carrying her forwards, or how she'd come to be sitting in a corridor on deck eight.
She was a wreck, realising the extent of the mess she'd gotten herself into.
In trying to run away from her emotions, she'd ended up with even more.
She felt a sob escape her, and was terrified as her emotions once again overwhelmed her.
She looked up to see Tom Paris looking over here, worry etched on his face.
"Are you alright?"
"I...I am..." she wanted to say unsure, but found herself saying, "I am not."
Tom extended a hand to her, "My dad's been delayed on getting over here by Admiral Mitsuya, so I've got time to talk."
"Should you not be with B'Elanna and your infant?"
"Oh believe me I'd love to be, but Doc told me that new Klingon mothers far prefer the company of other women after they've given birth, and that she might get a bit nippy with me without meaning to...and that I should give her some space."
Seven nodded, "I see."
Seven got to her feet aided by Tom.
"Where would you like to go?"
"I should go to Astrometrics, to deactivate the sensors."
"Okay, we'll head there, as long as you promise to talk first."
Seven inclined her head.
"I'm an idiot!"
Tom was taken aback by Seven's out-of-character behaviour.
"I've been so selfish...I've hurt my closest friends, and all because I could not understand things that were right infront of me!"
Seven was angry at herself, Tom noted.
Struggling to understand what had upset her so much, he said, "Why don't you start at the beginning."
Seven paced the lower level of the lab as Tom sat on the steps. She appeared to be gathering her thoughts.
"It was an efficient plan, or so I thought...I see now how wrong I was.
"I had noticed the Doctor's behaviour toward me change, and although I am yet to become adept at reading emotions, I'd already recognised his attraction to me. However, this attraction seemed to be deepening, and I realised that he may be...falling for me...At first I felt that my thoughts were rather egotistical, but the Doctor began to try and change the nature of our affiliation, and that thought panicked me.
"I decided to do two things: Firstly, I wished to understand romance and relationships on a greater level, without committing myself to another individual; Secondly, I wished to stop the Doctor's advances, mild as they were. I did not wish for our relationship to change."
Tom had a feeling Seven had done something very stupid, and he closed his eyes as he asked her, "What have you done?"
Seven continued, "I decided to look at all the single men onboard the ship, and create a hologram of the one I found to be the most physically attractive...I created a hologram of Chakotay, and selfishly hoped that the doctor would find out-"
"So he would think you were attracted to someone that wasn't him, and you could continue to simply be friends," Tom completed the thought.
"Oh Seven...Seven, Seven, Seven...I can see your reasoning, but do you know how wrong and how intrusive that is?"
"Yes," she said quietly, "however, the story gets worse.
"As the program continued, I began to feel most confused, even ill. I realised that while my attraction to Chakotay was genuine...I had developed strong feelings for the Doctor...The internal struggle caused an overload in my cortical array and I collapsed...It was then that we discovered the emotional fail-safe."
"If a drone is ever disconnected from the hive mind, and rediscovers their individuality, a fail-safe is activated to stop that drone from experiencing the full range of emotions."
"Your triggered the fail-safe, didn't you?"
"Yes...But almost immediately, the Doctor told me that he could disable it. The thought of losing the fail-safe terrified me. I felt like I would be surrendering my self-control, and I decided not to go through with the procedure...I terminated the holodeck programs I had been running, and began actively avoiding the Doctor."
"...And then the Doctor confessed his love for you, didn't he?"
Seven shuddered a little bit, and she began to cry again, softly.
"And then I made my biggest mistake. I reactivated the Chakotay program, and also asked the real Chakotay to accompany me on a date...He was stunned, and a little shocked, and he said yes without giving the idea a moment's thought."
"We had a few dates, and I carefully choreographed each one on the holodeck beforehand."
"But the real dates were different, weren't they?"
Seven nodded, "Yes. I tried to give every date my full attention, but the Doctor was always in my thoughts...Then Admiral Janeway told me that my feelings for Chakotay would cause him pain in the future...
"I knew then that I should end my 'liaison' with Commander Chakotay, as it was unfair to both of us, but each time I rehearsed the break-up with the holographic Chakotay...He talked me out of it.
"I was so very confused by everything, and I attributed it to the fail-safe holding back my understanding of human emotions. I decided to make an appointment with the Doctor to discuss removing it. He once again asked me on a date. Part of me wanted to tell him I was too afraid to go on a date with him, but a louder part of me told me to keep up the pretense that I was interested in another man. So I told him no, and then went through with the procedure, shortly before we began our mission at the transwarp hub."
"But something's happened since then, to make it that bit worse, hasn't it?"
Seven began to sob openly and Tom could only hug her lightly.
"When I was first severed from the collective, I told Captain Janeway something. I have gone out of my way to make sure that what I said did not happen."
"Seven, what do you mean?"
"I told Captain Janeway that I would betray her."
Tom sighed, as everything fell into place, "...Oh..."
"After we successfully traversed the transwarp conduit and you were called to sickbay, Captain Janeway turned to Chakotay and I, and asked him to take the helm. She did not make eye contact with him, and she made eye contact with me only momentarily, and I realised I had betrayed her in the worst possible manner.
"After all she has done for me, after all she has given me...She believes I have taken the man that she loves, and that has hurt her greatly...Today should have been the happiest of her life, and although she disguised it well, I have never seen her more upset than she was earlier. And I am to blame."
"Oh Seven, you've made a mess of things haven't you?"
"I have hurt the Doctor and the Captain. My two closest friends. And I will hurt Chakotay when he discovers that I used him to hide from my feelings for the Doctor."
"Seven, you're right that you've hurt the Doctor and the Captain, but you're not the only one at fault here. Chakotay had to know that dating you would hurt the Captain."
Tom continued onward, having thought of only one solution to the conundrum, "Chakotay is a proud man, and if he finds out you've been manipulating him, he's going to be very hurt, and his ego will be bruised. If however, you tell him that you care for the Doctor and have been to afraid to admit it, and that you know he has feelings for the Captain, you'll be giving both of you a way out."
"I will be 'glossing over' the truth..."
Seven was lucky she had a Borg-enhanced brain, as she made her mind up on the spot.
"Thank you very much for your help in figuring out how to undo the damage that has been caused. I am most grateful. I will take your advice and break up with Chakotay. In the meantime you should return to sickbay...I will hopefully get a chance to visit later."
Most personnel had been dismissed from the bridge in order to contact loved ones, and to prepare to disembark, so only a few officers remained on the bridge.
"What's Admiral Mitsuya like?" Harry asked the question to both Tuvok and Chakotay.
"Admiral Mitsuya is a well respected member of the Admiralty, Ensign," was Tuvok's straightforward reply.
Confused by Chakotay's lack of answer, Harry continued, "What do you think of him sir?"
"He's a capable man," Chakotay's answer was even more curt than Tuvok's.
"Torres to Chakotay."
"Thank you...I know the Doctor's probably told all you men to stay away from me for the next day or so, but I'd like you to come down and see Miral Chakotay."
"I'm on my way."
B'Elanna looked at her sleeping angel, completely oblivious to everything she'd been through.
She bit her bottom lip though, as she thought about what she was going to say to Chakotay. After Kathryn had left, B'Elanna knew her Captain wouldn't be keen to see her First Officer for a while. So by calling Chakotay down here, B'Elanna was killing two birds with one stone: Keeping Chakotay out of the Captain's way; and figuring out what was going on in that thick skull of his.
The doors opened and a tired-looking Chakotay came in, smiling broadly.
"Congratulations!" He grinned, enveloping her in a hug.
Chakotay moved to see Miral who was still sleeping soundly.
"Oh B'Elanna...she looks just like you...she's beautiful!"
B'Elanna blushed a little bit at the compliment, "I'm afraid she's sound asleep, otherwise I'd let you hold her...If she wakes up then you can hold her."
Chakotay was obviously a little disappointed, but nodded. It was a universal known that you should never disturb a sleeping Klingon, even if the Klingon in question is three hours old and three-quarters human.
"How are you doing?"
B'Elanna leveled a look at Chakotay, "Let's see...This morning I went into labour in the Delta quadrant, was in labour while we battled the Borg, burst into a transwarp hub, were chased all the way back here, gave birth while we were engulfed by a Borg cube, and then we burst into Federation space, where I now have to face my in-laws. I've had to deal with Tom's guilt at missing the birth and I've had to do damage limitation with the fact Kathryn Janeway's had her heart broken...oh, and I've been taking care of my newborn daughter."
Chakotay blinked, and he appeared to stop breathing for a moment.
"I thought after all these years Chakotay, that I knew you well enough not to be surprised or shocked by anything you do but...Seven of Nine, Chakotay...Seven of Nine."
Chakotay had the decency to look guilty, "How did you know?"
"I think Kathryn's involuntary breakdown in here earlier, and her need for a friend to confide in...is what let me know...I honestly didn't believe her at first but..."
"Save it Chakotay..." B'Elanna said calmly, willing Chakotay not to say anything silly, "I want you to tell me what the hell you were thinking."
"I don't know what I was thinking B'Elanna...She asked me on date...I said yes."
B'Elanna raised an eyebrow at him, "And that's all there is to it? You just said yes."
Chakotay bristled slightly, realising that B'Elanna was ready to give him hell. B'Elanna watched him try to explain the situation.
"You know how I feel about Kathryn..."
"Do I? I thought I did. Running off with one of her closest friends has raised a more than a few questions though."
Chakotay began to slowly pace around the biobed, "After Quarra, Kathryn seemed to retreat into herself...She seemed so sad, but she wouldn't talk to me...I'd seen how happy she was with Jaffen...I began to realise we could never be together...We were years from home, and she'd been in love with someone else.
"When Seven of Nine asked me on a date...I was stunned...Obviously I'd noticed she was a beautiful woman, but I'd never thought about her in a romantic way...When she ask me out...I was perplexed and intrigued...Was she genuinely interested in me, or did she want to use me for some bizarre social experiment. My curiosity got the better of me, and I agreed...The first date went well...I found myself enjoying her company, and I began to think about some things...Kathryn had shut me out, and I realised I couldn't keep waiting...I honestly didn't think we'd be home anytime soon, and well...I'm not getting any younger am I?
"If I'm ever going to settle down, get married and have kids, it'll have to be soon...I'm nearly fifty...So I enjoyed the date, and when Seven suggested we get together again, I decided 'why not?'"
"Why not?" B'Elanna glared at Chakotay, "How about the fact that I'm pretty sure the Captain considers her to be like a surrogate daughter!"
Chakotay looked at the ground,before squaring his shoulders and looking B'Elanna in the eye, "If Kathryn loved me, she wouldn't let Seven and I be together. She'd tell me if it upset her."
B'Elanna shook her head, "Not according to her she wouldn't...She honestly believes that you love Seven, and if Seven made you happy, she wasn't going to stand in your way...She loves you too much to pull you and Seven apart, even if it destroys her...Hopefully I managed to convince her to put herself first for once."
Chakotay suddenly looked very sad, very solemn, and very stupid.
"I...I had no idea..."
"Of course you didn't Chakotay...for once she had a fling instead of you, and you've been having a pity party ever since."
Chakotay shut his eyes and sighed, looking very upset.
B'Elanna shook her head sadly. Chakotay was very bright, academically, but he could interpret people and their actions so poorly, and it was to his detriment. It disturbed her he'd misread Kathryn so badly, especially given how well he seemed to know her. At one time Kathryn could disappear into her ready room looking tired and upset, and after only a few minutes she could come out, relaxed and smiling, thanks to Chakotay.
"I do love her, B'Elanna."
But love could make people blind, as B'Elanna knew only too well herself. She'd been in denial about her feelings for Tom for so long, she'd nearly pushed him away entirely. Chakotay was in danger of doing the same to Kathryn.
"Then tell her...Tell her you love her...and end this...thing...with Seven."
Chakotay bit his lip, "I think I'll do that."
As if on cue at the end of their conversation, Miral began to cry.
"Oh Miral sweetie..." B'Elanna said, picking up the infant and trying to calm her. It seemed to work, and Miral quickly quietened.
"That's one contented baby," Chakotay smiled.
"Yeah...Mom always said I was a quiet baby, but Owen says all Tom did was scream till he was four."
"Hopefully she'll take after you."
"In that regard at least!" B'Elanna smiled, "Would you like to hold her?"
Chakotay moved to take the baby, "Does this mean you've forgiven me?"
"I've forgiven you for being a socially-awkward dork who can't read other people's feelings, but I won't completely forgive you until I see you making the Captain smile again."
Chakotay nodded, before looking down at Miral who had began reaching about and was nipping the skin on the back of his hand.
"Okay Miral...I know your mommy's not very happy with me...I take the hint!" He chuckled quietly.
Kathryn was back in her ready room when Tuvok announced that Mitsuya would be arriving momentarily. Sighing, she made her way to the bridge.
"Thank you Tuvok," she said simply as her friend returned to his post at tactical.
"The Admiral says that he wishes to transport directly to the bridge...He'd like to meet both you and the Commander before we begin our descent."
"Very well...Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris please report to the bridge."
Tom was lost in thought as he headed to the bridge to land Voyager.
I need to be with B'Elanna and Miral.
His emotional conversation with Seven had left him feeling uneasy...He and B'Elanna had spoken about their observations regarding the Captain and Chakotay, and they'd both been relieved to find that they'd already drawn the same conclusions about the pair.
But this conversation was different. Seven knew how Kathryn and Chakotay felt about each other, and with Voyager being home, everything would have to come out into the open – or the command team's friendship would be damaged beyond repair.
The turbolift stopped short of the bridge, and Chakotay entered.
"Tom, congratulations!" Chakotay smiled.
The conversation stilled. Tom noticed that Chakotay's mind was elsewhere, and Tom was uncomfortably aware of his earlier chat with Seven.
He bit his lip until they got close to the Bridge.
"You and Seven...Who'd have thought it...Talk about the odd couple..."
With that, the doors swooshed open and Tom made his way to the helm. Chakotay hesitated before heading out onto the command deck. His eyes refused to meet Kathryn's.
Kathryn also didn't look at Chakotay, instead she focused on Harry.
"I'm beaming the Admiral over Captain."
The familiar blue glow of the transporter became visible, and a tall fair-haired man appeared on the bridge.
"Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay...It is a honour to meet you."
Kathryn smiled, extending a hand to the Admiral, "Admiral Mitsuya...You don't know how grateful we are to be able to meet you in person, sir."
Mitsuya was a young admiral, and very personable, immediately helping ease some of the tension evident on the bridge.
"This is really just a formality, but I wanted to give you your general orders in person Captain," he smiled handing her a PADD.
"I won't delay you any longer...Ensign Kim, beam me back to the Nova."
"Yes sir," Harry complied, and a moment later, the Admiral was gone.
Kathryn looked over the PADD.
"Attention all hands. We'll be landing at the parade grounds in a few minutes, so secure your stations. Blue alert."
"I've received landing permission from headquarters," Tom informed her.
"Okay then Tom...let's make our big entry."
"Busting out of a Borg Sphere wasn't big enough?" he joked, earning a grin from Kathryn.
"Beginning our descent...disengaging engines...cutting exhaust...securing thrusters..."
The ship bumped a bit.
"It's just a bit of wind turbulence...you know how windy the bay can get," he grinned, "landing struts extended...we're home!"
Chakotay strode along a corridor on deck eight, only one thing on his mind.
After Voyager had landed, relief staff had immediately arrived to give all essential personnel time to pack their belongings. Chakotay had contemplated going to his quarters, but his conscience wouldn't rest until he'd ended his short relationship with Seven. The computer had confirmed that she was still in Astrometrics.
His breath caught in his chest as he saw Seven heading towards him.
This is it.
"I was just coming to see you," he said quietly.
"And I was going to see you, Commander."
A silence stretched between them, and Seven appeared to grow flustered.
"Seven...There's no easy way to say this...but I think it'd be better if we were just friends."
Chakotay studied her reaction, and was relieved to see that she immediately relaxed.
"As do I...Commander...I..." she trailed off.
"What is it?"
"Over the past few weeks, I have become aware that I have developed strong romantic feelings for another...I was unsure of how to deal with those feelings, until now."
Chakotay nodded, mildly surprised that Seven seemed to be in love with someone and he could empathize with her.
"I'm in a similar situation," he admitted.
"I know," she stated simply, giving him a small smile.
Taking a step back from him, Seven's smile grew wider, "Now that were are in Federation space, we both have other options to explore."
"Yes we do," he smiled.
She extended a hand towards him, "Friends?"
Kathryn's stomach lurched at the thought of going home, of never having any closure with Chakotay. She sat in her ready room, fidgeting in her newly issued white dress uniform. There was to be a party that evening, Chell had already managed to book the main conference suite at the Academy, and Billy Telfer had promised that his brother's band along with Harry's band, the Kim-tones, would provide the entertainment.
Sadly for Kathryn, her mother was at a summit on Bolius and would not arrive until tomorrow, and her sister Phoebe was offworld, visiting a friend on Starbase Eight.
So she'd be on her own.
The thought of being on her own tonight, watching Chakotay and Seven dance, gnawed at her mind, making her feel a little lightheaded. But there was no way of getting out of this homecoming bash.
B'Elanna was right, she had to talk to Chakotay.
Absentmindedly, she ran her fingers along her collar.
"Uh-oh...I'm missing a pip!"
Sighing, she realised she'd have to go to her quarters before tracking down Chakotay.
Ten minutes later, she was on her hands and her knees in her quarters, desperately trying to locate her missing pip.
She groaned as the door chimed.
The door swooshed, but from her position under the dining table, she couldn't make out who was there.
"Before you make any smart comments about what I'm doing under my table, I'm looking for a pip."
"You mean this pip here?"
Startled, Kathryn got to her feet.
Her First officer reached over to a shelf near the door, before picking up the pip. Carefully he stepped towards her, handing over the pip in silence.
"Thank you," She said quickly, trying to smile before turning away, "I was going to come and speak to you."
Chakotay sighed nervously, "Well I'm here to speak to you."
Kathryn still had her back turned to him, but she knew Chakotay was avoiding looking at her.
"Sorry isn't good enough, is it?"
Kathryn spun around to look at Chakotay. "You don't owe me an apology Chakotay, I'm not your keeper," she said with more hostility than she'd meant to.
"I hurt you Kathryn."
Once again, she turned away from him as the tears threatened.
"I thought B'Elanna was going to disembowel me when I went to see her and Miral earlier," he said, trying to lighten the mood.
"You spoke to B'Elanna?" Kathryn replied quietly.
"Yes I did...she helped me sort some things out, and helped me see what an idiot I've been this past while."
"You have been a little insensitive recently Chakotay, but who could blame you? I've been so wrapped up in my own misery...I've pushed you away..."
"Yes, you have, but I let you push me away and I shouldn't have...Kathryn, I don't know how or even if I can make things better between us, but I can at least be honest with you...We both need to get everything out in the open before the crew go their separate ways...I love you."
Kathryn cried when she heard those three words. She'd dreamt of hearing him say those words for so many years, and to hear them now made her feel both elated and destroyed.
She was openly crying now, unable to look at him, "I love you too, but if you love me then...why are you with Seven of Nine?"
Kathryn felt Chakotay close the gap between them and he placed his hands on her shoulders.
"There was nothing between us...we only got as far as a few dates and we've decided to remain just friends."
"Really?" Kathryn turned round to look at him.
"Really...When Seven asked me to go on a date, I think I said yes to make myself...I don't know...feel better...I'd been feeling sorry for myself, and I was wrapped up in my own worries...I didn't even think about how much it would hurt you, especially with it being Seven."
"Well it did...But I thought if you were going to be happy with her, that I wouldn't interfere...B'Elanna told me I'd be making a mistake by doing that, but if we'd stayed in the Delta Quadrant..."
"You'd have kept quiet, wouldn't you?"
Kathryn nodded wordlessly.
"To be honest, I don't know what would have happened with Seven and I if we hadn't gotten home...I honestly expected us to be out there for quite some time to come and...and after Jaffen...I thought there was no future for us..."
"You decided to move on."
Now it was Chakotay's turn to nod silently.
"I guess I did..but...it felt wrong...I should have noticed it felt wrong at the time, but I didn't."
Silence filled the room for a few moments as both Kathryn and Chakotay struggled to make eye contact with each other.
"So where do we go from here?" Kathryn finally asked.
"It depends on what you want."
"What about what you want?"
Chakotay moved closer to her, looking her in the eye, "I want to know if you can forgive me...Not for looking elsewhere, because we're both guilty of that, but because it was Seven."
After a moment, Kathryn responded, "I think I can forgive that...After all, I've given you plenty of reasons to want to move on...I can't exactly blame you, can I?"
Chakotay looked at her sadly, "It still doesn't make it alright though."
"But we can move on from that..."
"Yes, we can."
Kathryn grinned a little, "So was forgiveness all you wanted, or was there something else?"
Chakotay smiled a little, before looking at her again, "I want you...I want us."
"Me too," Kathryn replied, blinking back tears, "more than anything."
Chakotay's hand cupped the side of her face, and she knew he wanted to kiss her. But the moment wasn't right and they both knew it.
"Kim to Janeway."
Chakotay rolled his eyes at hearing the Ensign's voice.
"That's just about everybody off the ship, and Chell tells me the Homecoming party's already underway...Tom, B'Elanna, the Doctor, Ayala and myself will be leaving momentarily, and that'll just leave you and the Commander."
"Go on ahead Harry...We'll be there shortly."
Kathryn waited a moment to make sure Harry was finished talking.
"I'd better fix my make-up," she said, pointing to her eyes, "you'd think by now they'd have invented waterproof mascara that's actually waterproof!"
"I'll wait here while you get ready."
Kathryn nodded, heading to her room but she stopped for a second, "I'm wanting to go back up to the bridge before we leave."
"Me too," Chakotay admitted, "Are you wanting to say goodbye?"
"I was thinking more of saying 'see you in a while' and not goodbye," she smiled, "I know they're probably going to promote me, but I'll be damned if they're going to get away with sticking me in an office twelve months a year."
Chakotay chuckled as Kathryn disappeared to get ready.
Fifteen minutes later, they stood on the empty bridge. The duty officer from headquarters had retreated to the briefing room, instinctively knowing that the Captain and the Commander were wanting to say goodbye to their ship.
"It's strange seeing the bridge so empty."
"It sure is."
Though it was nearly dark in San Francisco, some natural light poured in from the small windows in the roof of the bridge, creating a natural spotlight.
Kathryn stood a moment longer, letting her gaze drift around the empty stations. She walked towards her seat, sitting in it one last time. Chakotay did the same, and neither of them said a word.
Abruptly, Kathryn stood up, and Chakotay followed suit.
"Yes, I am."
"Okay," Chakotay extended a hand.
Kathryn took it, and together they left the bridge for the last time.
By the time they got to the function suite, the Homecoming party was in full swing, and one thing was already becoming apparent – who was staying in Starfleet, and who wasn't. Most of the crew, Starfleet or otherwise were opting to stay with the 'Fleet.
The crew were dressed in a combination of civilian attire, Voyager uniforms, old-style dress uniforms and the new white ones.
Chell ran around everyone with trays of food, and several campus staff served champagne and synthehol to the crew. A trickle of relatives started to arrive, and the atmosphere became jubilant as people were reunited with their loved ones.
No-one had noticed Kathryn and Chakotay's quiet arrival via the side door, so they savoured a moment to just watch their crew and their families.
Kathryn could pick out the senior officers in the crowd. Sadly Tuvok was absent, having probably already departed for Vulcan for his treatment. The Doctor kept his distance from Seven, still unsure of where they stood with each other. Harry was in the middle of a large crowd and was holding his clarinet. As usual he was being a flirt and was seemingly engrossed in a conversation with a woman neither of them recognised. Tom, B'Elanna and Miral were sat at a table on the other side of the room where Susan Nicoletti and Sam Wildman were being introduced to little Miral.
"Do you think it was wise for them to come to the party with the baby?"
"I doubt it'll phase Miral or B'Elanna...they are both part Klingon after all!"
There was a slight hush in the crowd, as everyone's attention became focused on two people in the middle of the room. As more people quietened, Chakotay and Kathryn could hear Billy Telfer's voice.
"...I know we've never really been in a relationship Celes, but I promised I would do this if we made it home."
Everyone watched as Billy got down on one knee and took both of Celes' hands.
"Tal Celes, will you marry me?"
Everyone was silent waiting to see Celes' reaction, and they didn't have to wait long.
"Yes...Yes Billy, I will marry you!"
As Billy and Celes embraced, hugging and kissing, the crowd erupted into whoops and cheers.
Elsewhere in the mass of people, Mariah Henley spontaneously kissed Mortimer Harren. Immediately everyone turned around to look at the unlikely couple. After a moment, a stunned Harren enthusiastically returned the kiss, much to the crowd's delight.
"Mortimer Harren and Mariah Henley?" Kathryn was surprised to say the least, but was happy for them.
"That's five couples gotten together so far!" she overheard Mike Ayala say to Darren Ashmore.
"Doctor." Seven's voice cut through the crowd like a knife, and now everyone turned to look at her.
"Seven?" the Doctor seemed cautious.
"I wish to apologise for my behaviour over the past few weeks. I was unsure of what to do...and I was also being selfish."
"I see," the Doctor was more than a little confused.
"When you wished to change the nature of our affiliation, I was afraid...But now I know that I too, would like to pursue a relationship."
A smile broke out on the Doctor's face, "Seven I...I don't know what to say except-"
He stopped talking when Seven kissed him, and once again the crowd went wild.
"Okay that's six couples gotten together so far," Tom shouted loudly with a huge smile on his face, "where's lucky number seven?"
Kathryn gave Chakotay a cheeky grin, and they both knew the moment was right.
"Well Commander?" she smiled, and he grinned in return.
She looked over at the Paris family, "We're right over here Tom!"
The next thing she felt was Chakotay's mouth on hers as he wrapped his arms around her waist. After a moment they parted to the rapturous applause of the crew.
Chakotay enveloped her in a hug, and swung her round in complete joy.
"Welcome home Kathryn."