Disclaimer: I don't own any of this and I'm obviously not making any money.



Epilogue

Captain Kathryn Janeway stood silently in her quarters on Earth. It had been two long weeks since her incident with the Romulans and, she thought with a smile, since she and Chakotay had "broadened the parameters of their relationship." The following weeks had been interesting to say the least. First, there had been Starfleet Command, furious with her crew for taking off against orders. Then, there had been Fielding's totally unprovable accusations that she had been deliberately infected with the Tarcessian flu. However, her accusations had been dismissed because of the lack of proof.

"Kathryn," called a voice form the kitchen.

"Yes Chakotay?" she replied as she walked in to where he waited.

He smiled at her as she entered and kissed her lightly. "Admiral Paris just called. He wants you to come by his office this morning. He said that Starfleet command has reached a decision about the crew."

"Good. I suppose I should be going then -- he hates to be kept waiting."

"Hey," he called catching her arm as she started out the door, somehow almost magically sensing her apprehension. "Don't worry. After the Borg Queen."

As his statement trailed off he was pleased by the quick grin that passed over her face. "There was two of me then."

"I think one of you will be enough for the galaxy now."

She playfully hit his arm then began the short walk to the admiral's office.

* * *

As Kathryn waited in the admiral's outer office, she smiled slightly, remembering the first time she had come to see the Admiral as a young cadet over twenty years ago. She had been so nervous that day, she thought ruefully, and so impatient with the wait. Now she almost felt like a cadet again, waiting to see what was going to happen next. After what would have seemed like hours to Kathryn the cadet, she was ushered into the admiral's inner office.

He looked up from the PADD he was reading abruptly and smiled. "Hello, Kathryn," he said as he rose to greet her warmly. He gestured at the chair in front of his desk.

"Thank you, Admiral."

"Why so formal, Kathryn?"

"I'm sorry Owen," she replied as she relaxed slightly in the chair. "I wasn't aware this was an informal meeting."

"It's been too long since I've seen you. I heard from Tom how badly you were injured."

"Our doctor has gotten very skillful at patching people up over the years."

They continued chatting like that for a few minutes, mentor and former student just catching up before the admiral finally began trying to address the reason for her summons. "You know, Kathryn," he said solemnly, "I had grown to accept your incredible daring for your crew even before you got stranded in the Delta Quadrant...but what I didn't expect was what your entire," he paused, stressing the word slightly, "crew would be willing to risk for you." He paused again but she remained silent. "I suppose I should have seen it coming, but." He trailed off. "I must say that was quite a coincidence that Commander Chakotay happened to be on Starbase 102 at the same time as Voyager."

Kathryn smiled warmly. "I would have to agree, Admiral, but I'm glad he was."

"So am I." He chuckled. "Only you, Kathryn, would try to climb down a sheer cliff face without climbing gear."

She held up a hand as if to ward off his lecture. "Don't worry, Owen -- Chakotay and I have already had this discussion several times."

The admiral noticed the totally non-regulation ring on the third finger of her left hand, but didn't comment on it as Kathryn continued talking.

"If you'll excuse my presumption, Admiral, I don't think you called me here just to talk about my head-strong nature."

"No, Kathryn -- I asked you to come to tell you what Starfleet command has decided to do with your crew regarding this... incident."

She stiffened slightly in her chair and he noticed the subtle shift from Kathryn back to the captain.

"Only your senior officers are being held accountable; the rest of your crew, while being sent a disciplinary letter, was deemed to be merely following orders. Your senior officers will receive more than a slap on the wrist...especially Commander Chakotay, since he was the ranking officer on board."

Kathryn didn't reply but her expression became still and calm, a reaction which many races in the Delta Quadrant had come to fear. The admiral continued, seemingly oblivious to the captain's rising fury on behalf of her crew.

"As for the senior staff, the incident will go on their permanent records and they will be working on a type of probation for the next six months. In addition to this, I seriously doubt Starfleet Command will consider Commander Chakotay for promotion or command for some time."

"Chakotay is one of the finest officers I have ever had the pleasure of serving with," returned Kathryn angrily. "If anyone deserves his own command, it's him. How can you punish them like this when all they did was go back for their commanding officer."

Paris' face fell. It was clear that he was nothing more than the messenger. "I know, Kathryn, I know... but in the eyes of Starfleet Command they nearly caused a border dispute with the Romulans. Besides, most of the senior admirals think this incident just proves what they had already suspected -- that your Maquis crewmen are unpredictable and dangerous."

Her eyes blazing, the Captain locked gazes with him. "Is that what you believe, Admiral?"

"You know me better than that, Kathryn."

She sighed. "You're right. I'm sorry. This is just...wrong."

"You have more important things to worry about. If it weren't for the black spot on Chakotay's record from this latest incident, he would have been transferred off Voyager before you even returned to Earth."

"What are you talking about, Owen?" she asked, more sharply than she had intended as her patience ran low.

The admiral's demeanor became more serious and formal. "Your...personal involvement with Commander Chakotay has not pleased Starfleet Command. Many feel he is a corrupting influence on you."

Kathryn chuckled softly her mood changing wildly, "If he hasn't corrupted me after seven years I don't think he's likely to now, Admiral. If anything Chakotay is a very positive influence on me."

"They won't believe that, Kathryn, and you know it."

"Owen," she said in a softer, less confrontational tone, "I couldn't have survived these last seven years without him. I couldn't have done it by myself."

"Tom speaks very highly of you both."

"Tom is the best pilot I've ever served with, and as for B'Elanna, she is an extremely talented engineer, probably the best in Starfleet...and I would never given her a chance if not for Chakotay."

"You don't have to tell --"

The Admiral was cut off as the terminal on his desk came to life and his aide interrupted. "I'm sorry sir, I know you didn't want to be interrupted but Admiral Ross insisted it was urgent."

"Thank you, Commander." Turning back to Kathryn he said, "I have to take this call, so you're dismissed. Your next mission will be given to you within the next week. Thank you, Captain."

"Thank you sir"

* * *

When Kathryn entered the apartment she had been sharing with Chakotay she wearily walked in and flopped down next to him on the couch. On the walk back she had spent a great deal of time thinking about what the admiral had said to her. Most of it had upset her, especially the treatment of her crew.

"Chakotay," she began as he watched her waiting for her to speak first, "Admiral Paris had some bad news."

She quickly informed him about what disciplinary measures Starfleet Command would be taking, then internally debated whether or not to tell Chakotay bout what the Admiral had said concerning their person relationship.

She was saved from deciding by Chekotay's usual perceptiveness. "What's really the matter, Kathryn? I don't think that's all that bothering you, love."

Despite having no intention of telling Chakotay about what was really bothering her, his casual use of that endearment melted her determination. Snuggling further into his arms she laid her head on his chest and murmured, "They want to take you away from me."

Instantly understanding what she was saying Chakotay muttered darkly, "They don't approve of our relationship."

"Of course not," responded Kathryn. "I was supposed to capture you, not fall for you. They consider you a bad influence on me."

"What are they going to do about it?"

"There's nothing they can do, so far," state Kathryn firmly as much to reassure herself as Chakotay. "We've done nothing against regulations. Besides," she said, raising her head to look him in the eye, "I would resign my commission before I lost you."

Chakotay smiled, stunned by the depth of her emotion but at the same time not, for Kathryn Janeway did nothing in half measures.

"Have I ever told you how much I love you, Kathryn?"

"I believe you have," she paused mischievously, relief in her eyes now that the tense part of their conversation had passed, "but you can tell me again, Chakotay."

* * *

The next morning the mood was once again somber as the command team prepared to tell the crew of Voyager about Starfleet Command's decision. The captain and the commander were highly present and almost formal with very little of Kathryn and Chakotay showing through. They had decided the previous evening that the senior officers would be briefed first, followed by an announcement to the rest of the crew. Kathryn watched with a feeling of eerie familiarity as her senior staff filed into the conference room aboard Voyager that had seen the hatching of so many wild schemes and adventures in the Delta Quadrant.

Clutching her cup of morning coffee in her hand Kathryn walked over to the table and sat after her officers had been seated. "I'm sorry to pull you all from your shore leave but I felt I should be the one to inform you." She took a deep breath. "I spoke with Admiral Paris yesterday..." She saw Tom's face darken slightly and wished she had better news to give them. "He informed me that you will all be held on probation for the next six months, with the exception of Chakotay, who will be held to slightly stricter measures."

"But that's not fair, Captain," burst out B'Elanna, "we all took part in this, not just Chakotay."

"However, Lieutenant, it is logical to Starfleet command as Commander Chakotay was the most senior officer on board at the time," interjected Tuvok, ever the devil's advocate.

The captain sent Tuvok a grateful glance glad for his years of solid support before answering B'Elanna. "I know, B'Elanna, and I can assure you that I will be appealing to the Admiralty on his and all of your behalves. None of you deserve this and I'll not have all of your careers ruined because of me."

After the immediate flury of protests died down, Harry spoke confidently with a calmness and certainty that would have seemed foreign to him in his first days aboard Voyager. "Captain, I think I speak for the entire crew when I say that if we hadn't gone back for you, like you did for us so many times, our careers and our right to wear this uniform would have been worthless."

A hardy "Here, here" from Tom and other supporting responses from the rest of her eclectic senior staff put a lump in the Captain's throat at her crew's obvious loyalty. When she felt capable of speech again, she was interrupted by Tom Paris.

"Captain, with your permission..." She nodded at him to continue, noting his ever-mischievous expression which had so quickly appeared from his somber demeanor of just moments before. "Since Neelix, our informal moral officer is no longer aboard, the crew chose me to do this." Tom suddenly became strangely formal again. "On behalf of the crew of Voyager I would like to invite you and Commander Chakotay to join us in Holodeck three this evening."

Glancing over at Chakotay to see if he knew more about this than she, she was met with an equally puzzled gaze, but nevertheless received a nod of acceptance from him. "Well of course Tom we'll be there but if we knew what this was about."

Tom shook his head with an impish smile on his face. "I'm afraid that's classified, Captain. Need to know only. But trust me, you won't regret it."

To his surprise, she didn't respond flippantly as he had expected and said instead: "I do trust you. I trust all of you implicitly, and you will never know how much I appreciate all the loyalty and trust that you have placed in me over the years." Reverting to a more business like tone before they could respond she continued: "Now if that's all, I believe we all have pressing shore leave to get back to."

* * *

"Do you think they'll approve?"

"You worry too much Harry, of course they'll like it," Tom reassured him while convincing himself that he really believed that.

"You'd better be right, Flyboy, or else we'll all be spending a very long time in the brig," interjected B'Elanna as the trio looked around the crowded room inside the holodeck that had been specially decorated for the occasion.

* * *

"Do you know what they're up to?"

"No more than you do, Kathryn."

Turning to face her, Chakotay truly looked at her for the first time that evening. Tom had said to dress in a semiformal manner but had said, quite firmly, that no Starfleet uniforms were allowed. Kathryn had followed his instructions to a T. The dress she wore was a deep blue that perfectly complemented her eyes and could be called both elegant and daring. Just like the wearer, Chakotay thought with a smile. Noticing his smile the Captain quirked a questioning eyebrow at him. "Just noticing the beautiful scenery."

She absorbed his comment for just a moment before she said playfully, "Oh, so I've been relegated to scenery now, Commander?"

Before he could reply the holodeck doors whooshed open, revealing the smiling face of Tom Paris and company.

"Captain, Commander. Welcome to Sandrine's."

He gallantly stepped back and gestured for them to enter the room. Surprised at all the elaborate deception just for a party at Sandrine's the captain turned to Tom to ask for an explanation when she was interrupted by Tuvok.

"Captain as you are well aware, I often view such social gatherings as this an illogical waste of time that could be better spent relieving stress and tension in a more disciplined way. However," he paused as if to further ponder his thoughts, "in light of recent events I will merely say that Voyager functions best when her Captain is happy. Live long and prosper, my friend," he said showing uncharacteristic emotion for a Vulcan, then he turned and calmly headed back into the crowd leaving the Captain bewildered.

It seemed that Chakotay was equally confused. "What was that about?"

"I have no idea... but whatever it was I'm sure Tom is behind it."

"Actually, Captain," interrupted Harry from behind her, causing her swing around abruptly startling Chakotay, "it was a joint decision. The whole crew came up with it."

"Well then what is this about, Lieutenant?"

"I'm not at liberty to say." He grimaced and gestured ruefully at the rest of the crew and then added, "but I think this evening's appointed speaker is about ready to begin."

Still in the dark, the captain began looking around the room, crowded with Voyager's entire crew and noticed almost at once a large view screen set up against one wall. Suddenly as if noticing her attention to the view screen, the room suddenly went quiet. To her great surprise, it was Neelix's smiling face that appeared. For a moment Neelix appeared to be scanning the crowd as if looking for someone.

When his gaze finally found her his face lit up, "Ah, Captain, just the person I've been looking for."

"It's good to see you too, Neelix," she replied warmly.

"Why thank you, Captain," said her former moral officer and frequent Master of Ceremonies in his usual jubilant mood. Rushing quickly on he said, "Captain, in my weekly talks with various crewmembers it was brought to my attention that you and the Commander had finally - to borrow a phrase from the twentieth century - hooked up."

At this comment the captain's gaze became steely. While she and Chakotay had done nothing to hide their relationship she still felt that there was a certain distance that a captain should maintain from her crew.

Neelix, however, continued oblivious to the Captain's growing unrest. "The crew eventually informed me that you had become engaged."

Startled and quickly muffled gasps throughout the room indicated that some of the crew remained unaware, while the cheering and whistling indicated that in general the crew was quite happy about it.

After the noise died down, Neelix continued, "It soon came to my attention though that so far no engagement party had been arranged."

That was when it hit Kathryn exactly what was going on. She looked over at Chakotay and saw him laughing truly enjoying the crew's antics and the elaborate steps they had taken to get Kathryn and Chakotay there as well as appreciating the gesture in the spirit that it was meant.

That was what finally did it for the Captain. She too dissolved in laughter at all the trouble the crew had gone to and the daring and initiative that they had shown in executing it. The crew quickly split into comfortable and familiar groups as the party truly got into swing.

Kathryn clutched Chakotay's arm as she tried to regain her composure, although she wasn't trying very hard for she truly felt at ease among these people who had been her family and her only constant reminder of the Alpha Quadrant for seven years.

She watched as members of the crew went up to talk to Neelix and even as he eventually signed off, she whispered to Chakotay: "This was a wonderful surprise; I'll admit though they did have me worried for a moment."

Before he could reply, Voyager's senior staff seemed to converge around them. Tom and B'Elanna came bearing champagne for Kathryn and Chakotay and the Captain noticed with some surprise that Seven seemed to be rather cozy with the Doctor. She made a mental note to ask Tom or B'Elanna about that later.

She looked around at them all for a moment noting the changes in them that had occurred since they had first left the Alpha Quadrant and since they had returned and she said simply but from the heart: "Thank you."

They seemed unsure as to how to respond for a moment but quickly and joyfully launched into telling her who had been responsible for what aspects of the party and the myriad of amusing stories that went along with it.

* * *

Much later that evening, Phoebe Janeway, who had been invited to the party at almost the last minute, sat alone in a deserted corner watching the happy couple. She had greeted Kathryn and Chakotay earlier that evening when she had arrived and had immediately noticed how happy Kathryn looked and filed it away to tease Kathryn about in the future.

Now she glanced around the room once again trying to locate Kathryn and Chakotay. She finally spotted them seated at a table across the room with Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim. Kathryn, she noticed, had a look of peace and contentment on her face the likes of which she had never seen before. Not when Kathryn was with Justin or Mark or with any other time or place; a look of supreme contentment. Her thoughts, though, were torn away from her sister as her husband returned with their drinks.

* * *

Laughing at the comment B'Elanna had just made about some of Miral's odder habits the Captain, hardly noticed the change in the music out on the makeshift dance floor behind them.

Chakotay, however, did, and rising and bowing in a gentlemanly fashion asked, "May I have this dance, Kathryn?"

She smiled, took his outstretched hand and quickly excused them from the conversation at the table. As Chakotay led her out on the dance floor, Kathryn marveled at how peaceful and happy she felt. It had taken her seven long years but she had finally returned home. Now though, she knew home was wherever she and Chakotay were.

As he wrapped his arms around her she put her head on his chest, content and for once not caring about protocol.

"Chakotay," she murmured quietly, "no matter what happens know that I will always love you." And, standing there together, the Angry warrior had found peace in the arms of his Warrior Queen and together they found strength for the journeys life would bring, their continuing journey.



Well that's the end, I hope you all liked it. I would like to thank all the people who reviewed my story, you'll never know how much I appreciated it. Thank you as well to those of you who read it and didn't review I know how irritating we writers who always demand reviews are. I hope you guys like the ending. I might write a sequel eventually but not for several months at least. If you really liked my story that much I have a star wars story posted and I might post a few other star wars story's soon. Again, Thank you I hope you all enjoyed it and many thanks as well to my beta reader Kira47.