Disclaimer: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. However, since Paramount is clearly the many, and owns Voyager, we J/Cers don't get squat.

  Looking For Yourself Out There

By Manda (Mizuno Ami)

            Kathryn Janeway gave her reflection a skeptical glance in the nighttime surroundings of her apartment. Nothing. Just the slightest hint in her appearance- but the plant physician had diagnosed it swiftly, soon after she had fallen at her workstation, and Jaffen had not been there to see it.

            Then Chakotay came.

            And there was no more time to tell Jaffen.

            "Are you ready?" The confident voice of her lover- for that's what he was, besides partner-in-crime, partner, and friend. Three weeks alone, meeting Jaffen had been a relief, in the oddest way. He'd managed to draw her away from her work long enough to realize that Quarra, when not looked at from a strictly professional point of view, could be beautiful. If you saw it with the right person, of course.

            He was the right person, she was certain of it.

            "You look beautiful." His arms were crossed and he watched her with affection lacing his tone, eyes bright in the beams of moonlight cast through her windows.

            "Flattery will get you nowhere." She admonished gently, smiling through the mirror at his image.

            "And where else would I want to be than right here…with you?" He crossed the room in several strides, lacing his arms about her waist and kissing her- a kiss that seemed desperate, loving, longing…her heart quickened as she realized just how he was kissing her- as if they were never to be together again, never to see each other as the same people. If Chakotay's story were true…how will I live, knowing that I've left behind so much…that I'm taking away something that can never be replaced…I need to tell him.

            "Shh, Kathryn…there's plenty of time." His embrace was comfortable, his kisses sincere- although she could, strangely, see the logic behind wanting to have such contact. A precaution.

            "I'm so sorry I brought you into this," She murmured beneath his lips, enjoying the embrace, the warmth of his arms wrapped around her- bringing his hand to her abdomen and holding it, clasping the fingers tightly and securing them close.


            "No- just this. If Chakotay hadn't come…I never would have doubted anything….I was so sure of who I was, until he arrived."

            Do you want to go with him?

            "I don't want to go with him. The Captain of a starship—I have enough, I don't need that."

            They stood alone for a time, and she knew what his answer was going to be. Chakotay waited down the hall, in her empty, unfurnished living room- and they would go to him together, with the news that they would help him find his crew. If they were to leave it, to turn around and hand him in- both understood that something would be missing, some piece of the puzzle that she would spend the rest of their time together questioning. The puzzle had to be complete, with that missing piece of the equation.

            "We'll all go," She whispered, reaching a hand to graze his cheek lightly. "He'll be getting worried."

            Jaffen nodded, all hesitation lost as his lover grasped his fingers and led him out the door. The hallway was deserted, a furtive couple scurrying down toward her apartment and sliding in, side by side. Chakotay's figure sat in the shadows, right hand still rubbing his newly regenerated shoulder with concern in his eyes- over the pain or their lateness, Kathryn was uncertain. At any rate, his eyes brightened as she activiated the light switch—one eyebrow raising itself curiously.

            "I thought you'd never come." He breathed, relief so lightly tinging his words. At the sound of his voice she found herself reacting, a light shiver working up her spine. Why do I react like this…? "Hello, Kathryn."

            "This is Jaffen." She introduced her lover with a smile, hand still clasping his as they stepped further into the unfurnished room.

Chakotay acknowledged the man with a nod, and déjà vu overwhelmed her senses at the feeling that she knew him, had watched him nod to another familiar man in her lifetime. The tattoo, the deep, caramel complexion—it all struck a familiar nerve with her, although she couldn't, for all her life, figure out-

            "Kathryn." Jaffen brought her out of the reverie with a gentle touch to the shoulder, fingers remaining. "Are you all right?"

            "I'm…fine." She swallowed down hesitation and turned to Chakotay once more, his eyes following her with a minimal curiosity. "We've decided to help you. How do we contact your ship?"

            "Modulated frequency, on a covariant subspace band."

            "The power plant?" Jaffen queried, and both nodded in unison. "How are we going to get in this late?"

            "Well, I don't know about either of you, but I feel lucky today." A smile graced the womans face, lips pursing quickly. Fort Knox. Tom, translate?

            "Fort Knox, Tom…"

            "Captain?" At the title her head snapped upward, the word 'yes' poised on her lips. It felt…right, somehow, to respond to that, despite all she knew which told her otherwise.  "Kathryn…"             

            "Wait- please." She rested a palm lightly against his chest, turning her head toward Jaffen. "Sweetheart, would you give us a moment? I think there's another box of clothes in my bedroom…"

            "Of course." Jaffen's eyes flashed toward Chakotay for the briefest moment before leaning down to kiss her passionately upon the lips. It was a moment he obviously cared to cherish, for the way his fingers brushed her own as he vacated. "Be careful, Kathryn."
            "I will." Her own eyes settled upon Chakotay's in the way he found to be uncharacteristic- she often wore an expression of guarded suspicion on her face when looking at anyone in that fashion, yet today he discovered no trace of the Kathryn Janeway he knew- so confident. This Kathryn knew nothing of his world, and her curiosity had gotten the better of her. Scientists nature apparently still preserved above the vanished memory.  "You're the…first officer aboard your ship, aren't you?"

            "Yes, I am." Chakotay nodded. "I answer to the Captain."

            "And I'm the Captain?" The words felt foreign on her tongue- she'd been content until this time doing what she did best, monitoring what she was told to monitor.  Never once questioning.  "And our pilot…Tom Paris…knows so much about the twentieth century..."

            Another nod, the flash of light in his eyes, and her heart sank. No. I don't want to be…

            "We need to drop the shielding so we can transport our crew to safety.  There's no chance without it." He began to pace, thoughtful lines creasing his brow, the finely sketched tattoo shifting with each moment. Kathryn found herself staring at it, incredulous at how it stirred the familiar feelings—the thoughts of how handsome this man was, conflicting so ferociously with her thoughts of Jaffen and the far shifting within her stomach.

                "I'm pregnant." She stated, with a finality that brought his head jolting upward. "I'm pregnant, Chakotay…will these 'transporters' of yours effect the baby?"

                He seemed deeply troubled by the news—or, perhaps, the tears were from her apparent conflict in memories. As she began to neaten up, he remained silent and somber, speaking again only when Jaffen's voice rang through the room. 

                "Kathryn? Are you done?"
                "It won't hurt." Chakotay responded. "It's a harmless proceedure. B'Elanna—the woman who we took back—she's doing fine."

                "As far as you know. I won't be subjecting my unborn child to any sort of danger…not this soon." Her hand strayed to where it was used to settling—upon her ever-so-slightly rounded stomach, and Chakotay could see the hints of maternal instinct, the drive to protect blossoming within her eyes. A Captain's instinct to protect was only strengthened by the development of her own children, he surmised, and held out a hand to her.

                "Here. Have a seat. Jaffen should be back shortly…you look tired."

                "She is." The other man had since entered the room, arms grasped about a large, open carton. As he set it down, he approached and began to massage Janeway's tensed shoulders. "Sweetheart, you should go back to our apartment. Lie down."

                "All right. Chakotay—keep me appraised." The words were easy and familiar on her lips, and she hurried down the hallway with Jaffen at her elbow, making everything all right- holding her up as she held on to the wall and breathed deep, inhaled with urgency and wide eyes. There was so much to take in, and as she rubbed her belly she turned her eyes to her support and searched his own insistently. "Jaffen- tell me this isn't real…I'm remembering these things. Is it me?"

                He shook his head and they continued walking.

                "I'm not sure, Kathryn. But if it's important to you, we'll go to their ship…and I don't want you going to the power plant with him. If they really can transport you up once power's been cut- they can beam you up from somewhere else. I won't have the baby put in jeopardy."

                "I agree." And they were home.


                Where is it, really?

                When he reached the parimeter of the power plant- it was already dark.

                "Where's Kathryn?" Chakotay glanced up from a perch beside the doorway, eyebrows arching as he re-wrapped his hand and watched Jaffen slip unnoticed into the area.

                "You can transport her from where she is- she'll stay in our apartment," Jaffen replied, bending to fasten the buckle of his boot, eyeing the strange man with a stare of contempt and dislike- to be expected. You're here to take away the woman I love more than life…I've barely begun…and now you're making her question everything she's known. "I won't endanger my daughter… or Kathryn."               

                "You knew?" When she'd told him, Chakotay had received the impression that she hadn't been able to inform Jaffen, but with the urgency in his voice, it seemed that the obvious had certainly hit home.

"Of course I knew!" The Quarran snapped, shifing a knapsack onto his right shoulder, head turning to stare into the dark recesses of the plant, which rose before them like a demon to be conquered. "She was sick in the morning for the past week- her eating habits are better than usual… That's why I insisted she stay home. Where she needs to be."

"She won't stay there." Chakotay answered, but received no response as the two men entered the building, intent on their mission…it was time to set aside the differences. "If she's the Kathryn I know-"

                "She isn't the Kathryn you know. This woman…she doesn't want to be a Captain. She doesn't want to fly. Kathryn has made it clear that I'm what she wants- that our life is what she wants, and we're going to live out this life with our daughter, in our apartment, together."
                Chakotay sighed, pulling his tricorder from a pocket in his jacket, and turning.

                "I'm not here to take that away from you. We've lost something that is very important to us- the crew of Voyager loves their Captain as much as you love Kathryn Janeway, and we can't let her slip through our fingers- not if we're this close. Now," his hands tightened over the intrument within them, the expression on his face consentrated and as benign as he could make it. Jaffen paused, and stepped forward at the 'Commander's' gesture. "I need to contact Voyager, and I need you to cut power to the grid."

                The process of cutting power to the grid wasn't an easy one, although years of working at the plant were certainly educational in the process of doing so. If Kathryn were here…with her abilities, she'd have it completed, and these people would be back aboard their ships before we even realized what they could have done. The repercusions…I won't lose her to this man, or anyone.

                As he made his way to the lower level panels, Jaffen's heart sunk as he came to the sudden realization that however much he might want it…

                It could be harder to prevent than he could think.

                "Did you poison the coffee?"

                "Not anymore than I usually d-" Kathryn paused in her pacing of Jaffen's apartment, a cup of decaffinated coffee clutched in her fingers, savoring the warmth as her eyes traveled to the commbadge Chakotay had procured earlier, abandoned on the polished wooden table which had once sat beside her couch. 

"Now, where did that come from?" She queried of the voice which had spoken those words so clearly in her mind. As if they were standing beside her, the two who spoke them, and yet- it sounded like Chakotay…and herself, if it were only possible. Before this moment, she had sworn she couldn't have known who Chakotay was… "I don't want to be a scientist, a captain…"                                                

But you have to be…If you want to save these people they say were 'abducted'. If it means saving a hundred lives, four hundred lives…I'll not stand aside and watch. Captain Janeway…I don't know who you are…                                                                                                            She turned to the mirror on the wall, coffee momentarily forgotten as her reflection was carefully studied. A strand of hair brushed back impatiently-

It's too long…

                Blue eyes staring into the silvery surface with a determination borne of loss and need…so like those of her father…


                And as she turned her head, the odd familiarity of the profile struck her- the carriage was that of a woman used to having others respect her, look up to her…she felt as if she could command, if need be, and the ability to do so seemed so natural…

                "Captain Kathryn Janeway, it's a pleasure." She murmured, and with the certainty that she was doing what was right, she pivoted on her heel, gathering only her jacket at the doorway, and left in the direction of the power plant.

                "Hurry! We're running out of time!"Chakotay leaned over the iron railing, peering forth into the darkness of the abandoned power plant- night had cast a shadow apon it in such a way that he could swear for a moment that it was the depths of the ocean, reflections of night-lights playing agains the bright metal edges of the instruments that had been shut off for the night. Somewhere down there, Jaffen made every attempt possible to shut the power off- but Chakotay's doubts were strong in his chest, as the factory worker had made his own opinions known before advancing into the dark.

                "It's more difficult than I'd expected!" The reply was short and faint, testimony to how vast the main room really was, although unseen. "It's going to take a few more minutes!"

                "We don't have a few more minutes!" Chakotay's mind raced- for all he knew, every second they took was only allowing the authorities to move closer to the plant, and for every moment they were away from Kathryn, he felt a little more uneasy. She wouldn't stay put- he had a gut instinct about that- and any second he expected to hear her voice ring out from below.

                Getting in contact with Voyager had been easier than he had anticipated- accessing the rotating frequency, the covarient subspace band- all went through 'without a hitch', to coin a phrase, and Chakotay's message to Voyager had been short. Get into a low orbit- ten minutes, maximum- lock on to every signal you can, as quickly as possible. With B'Elanna back on board, her memory restored, Chakotay felt a surge of confidence that at least something would go right.

                And the power went out.

                "What happened!?" She could hear their voices clearly, harsh words flying to and fro in the dark which stretched before her. Every step was on familiar ground, and yet- and yet she wasn't certain where she was, and what foot was going in front of where.

                "I think we did it!" Jaffen. Oh, sweetheart…I came to tell you that I couldn't leave you. It wasn't any more true than her identity, she surmised, drawing a wristlight from her pocket and strapping it on. The beacon cast an eerie glow on the powered down equiptment before her, and from the sudden, deathly silence before her, she was certain that Chakotay and Jaffen had seen it, and gone for cover.

                The scarlet shot which rang past her spoke otherwise, and she dove to the floor, calling out in a smoky, frantic tone that she was not at all what they thought they were shooting at.

                "Kathryn- I thought I told you to stay put."

                "You did." He knew I wouldn't listen, She allowed Jaffen's strong arms to pull her to her feet, his hands caressing her risen stomach briefly, concern flashing in his warm eyes. But she barely saw it, watching Chakotay's familiar gaze bear into hers so closely. He knew me…he expected me to come. He knows I'm curious… "Sweetheart, I was worried. There are patrols…they'll come looking, now that the plant has no power."

                "It still does. The auxiliary generators…that run the city…are still at full capacity." Jaffen corrected her with hesitation, eyes traveling between the two. "That's why I didn't want you here, Kathryn. It's too dangerous…for you or the baby."

                "Don't be ridiculous, Jaffen. I'm fine." She pushed the hands away and glanced at Chakotay, nimble fingers fussing with the clasp to the pack around her shoulders. "I know what we can do to get the generators to shutdown… all we have to do is get the generator to think it's overloading…and it should-"

                "-shut down." Jaffen finished. "You've done that, Kathryn…"

                "I know." She smiled, and caressed his shoulder with her fingertips. "I'll just have to get to a workstation and do it again. The same way."

                "Are you sure you remember?" Chakotay persisted, but she raised a hand and waved it at him, all the while keeping an eye on Jaffen and his concerned gaze.

                "Yes. You go and keep watch. Both of you." The two men nodded- perhaps knowing so much about the behaviors of either Kathryn Janeway, be she Captain or lover- that they knew too well she wasn't prepared to listen to more arguments in the favor of their protection. No, she'd get the job done however she felt she needed to, it was impossible to do anything with two worried men hovering over her shoulder.

                Harry Kim paced the bridge as a Bengal tiger would the thriving jungle floor. Yet unlike the floor of a jungle, the bridge was carpeted with grey, hard deckplates beneath, the carpeting only serving to soften the click of boot heels against the harsh surface. At that moment, he wished for the satisfying 'thump', and a way to release the frustration within.

                "Doctor, what can you tell me?"

                "From  the medical scans that Commander Chakotay sent within the message…Ensign, I believe that to transport the Captain aboard will endanger her child. With the combination of human and alien DNA- perhaps fatal." His face was immobile, tricorder in hand emitting a soft hum as his fingers tapped against the surface. "I'm afraid that there's nothing else, short of sending in a shuttlecraft, or weeks of genetic alterations to the fetus, that can be done, Ensign."

                "You're sure?"

                "Yes. Ensign-." The hologram stood firm, and somehow, despite the presence of human emotion, Harry Kim was certain he could see the Doctor's adam's apple working furiously, as if on the verge of a reaction Kim himself knew he felt. Remorse, regret, confusion…he wasn't sure what to do, and without Commander Chakotay available- it was next to impossible to know what he would do. What he'd want…would be to save the Captain, and her child…but if that weren't possible…then all they could do was the unspeakable.

                "If we transport her back…and alter her memory…will she be able to forget everything, Doctor?"

                He wasn't prepared for that….but the words continued to spew forth, and he let them.

                "Yes. But there will be residual traces of the experience, Ensign…there's no way to completely erase the incident from the Captain's subconcious.."

                "Then we'll just have to hope that she never has a chance to explore that area. Doctor… prepare what's necessary. B'Elanna…"

The half-klingon swung her head around, nodding solemnly as she adjusted the necessary controls. "…start attempting to locate the crew."

                Chakotay approached as she hurriedly danced her fingertips over the colored panels, eyes landing occasionally on the weary form of Jaffen, patrolling nearby corners in an attempt to keep his love shielded from any early arrivals or late-going guards. The plant was silent, still, and as he came up behind Kathryn, he wondered if she felt the same deep apprehension as he for the moments which lied ahead.

                "You could warn me, before getting close like this," She commented, causing him to pause and tuck his weapon into a deep pocket at his side. Kneeling, he shook his head and chuckled softly.

                "I knew you'd know, Kathryn. You're perceptive."
                "Then why is it that I can't figure you out?" She asked. "No matter how I try- I've yet to figure out what you want, Chakotay. What you're really here for. Somehow, I don't believe it's just to get your Captain back."
                "No." He replied. "There's much more to it than that."

                "Somehow, I thought as much." She tapped at the console several more times, brow furrowing. "Now, if I could just remember what I did to-"

                The shrill call of the alarms startled them both, and she fell back, catching herself on one arm as Chakotay and Jaffen both leapt upward with weapons unholstered. They'd done what they could, done what they needed to, and all that was left was for the transporters to take them away. Voyager would prevail- Chakotay had faith in that. But with the added sound of booted feet tramping over the floor of the factory, each step bring the night guards closer to their position- he wasn't entirely sure if his faith would be enough without Kathryn's. If she didn't know who she was…

                "Chakotay- will Voyager beam up Jaffen as well?" Now that he was given a good look at her, Chakotay could see the glow of motherhood upon her rounded cheeks, soft freckles making them so reminicent of robin's eggs in springtime. The excitement mounted in those few seconds it took him to reach her side, and it was all too visable in her wide blue eyes.

                "I hope so." Catching hold of her hand, it was easy to allow himself not to care about the close proximity of Jaffen- the way the current lover of his captain skirted the two with weapon raised, furtive glances cast in their direction. He was worried, as they all were, but for this man there was so much more at stake than simply his own life, and Chakotay appreciated that. "If they can't, then there's going to be a lot of time for us to wonder wh-"


                As the cry of the pregnant woman merged in with the shout of surprise and a painful roar from his right, Chakotay stared down at his hand, coalesced in bright cerulean brilliance, and asked of himself that question, silently.

                And didn't have an answer.

                "Is she concious?"

                "She will be shortly, Commander, unless you'll abide by my wishes and leave my sickbay." The voices crept into her warm cocoon of unconciousness and grabbed at her with claws unrelenting, giving her the urge to reach up and slap them away. Which she did, and found her hand encased snugly within another. A large hand, warm and gentle as it wrapped about her fingers. She knew that hand well.

                "Shorter than you think." Sitting up, Janeway gave the holographic Doctor and her second-in-command a wry smile, supporting her body with her left hand, rubbing her temples wearily with her right.  "I'm awake, Doctor. And perfectly concious of what you've been saying, I assure you."

                There was silence before the doctor approached further, pressing a hypospray to her neck, the soft hiss a familiar sound to the somewhat foggy recesses of her mind. She found herself comfortable with her surroundings, taking the time to chuckle at the two men before her, marvel at the way she caused the physician to back off and allow her time to gather her thoughts. To breathe, take in everything in stride, as she always did. She was onboard the U.S.S Voyager, in the well-lit contours of Sickbay, with Chakotay, the Doctor, and-

                "I feel different, somehow," She stated, rubbing a hand over her abdomen, curiousity dawning on her authoritive features. Her fingers took a weaving path over abdomen, stomach…settling on the slightest rise, before she lifted her hand to caress her cheek. "And my face is warm…moist…"

                "You've been…emotionally exhausted, Captain. I'm afraid that tears were to be expected- your body's attempt to release the stress in your system." There's something in the Doctor's eyes…I don't like it…but I don't know what else to think.

                "Thank you, Doctor. I'll be sure to catch up on my rest before I return to duty, then." Janeway lifted her eyes for a moment, and settled them upon Chakotay's. He couldn't quite meet them- but with the knowledge he had, he felt that he couldn't…without revealing the secret of what she had lost. What she never knew she had- and he didn't know if he had the heart to tell her about it all. She'd need to know it, in time…or there'd be more to explain than just the few months she'd lost. There'd be the filling in to do. "Chakotay?"

                "Yes, Captain?" His response was rife with thoughfulness, and Janeway turned her own curious gaze squarely apon him, giving him nothing more to do than to meet it completely, at last. There was a great deal of something missing within the windows of Kathryn Janeway's soul, but he was aware that she found something missing in his own as well- and it was something that he felt much too clearly. The pain of not knowing what path to take, and having to deal with the loss of one's sense of direction.

                "Would you help me to my quarters? I'd like to have some time in my own surroundings- The Doctor believes that should help my recovery along." Didn't she do that with one of them, once? Tuvok- asking Neelix to take him through the ship, to bring him to his quarters, to where he was most at peace, most surrounded by familiarity. And what would Kathryn Janeway find in her cabin but familiarity- the close proximity of her artistic nature, family photos, memories of Indiana close at hand where she could grasp them if she needed the tether. She seemed fine, at this point, and Chakotay nodded his assent.

                The trip down the corridor, with Janeway's arm gently hooked through his own, was seemingly uneventful, and Chakotay didn't understand why he'd imagined otherwise. Few passerby seemed concerned by the Captain's peculiar…out-of-the-ordinary, uncharacteristic…behavior. For many reasons, the first officer mused, they should be concerned- as Kathryn Janeway, Captain of the U.S.S Voyager, was never one to be led along by one hand. She'd walk, she'd stride with commanding aura pushing away anyone who stood between her and her goal…gently shunting them to one side or to the area of safety- where she thought them to be best placed, away from harm. She'd face the harm, head on, damned if a hair was out of place, her forehead bruised, or pride wounded. If it were for the greater good, it was….

                "Worth it." She chuckled beside him, drawing them both to a halt as she wove her free fingers on her opposite hand through those on his, and he wondered at her motives. They'd paused in the midst of a junction, where four corridors merged, and no one moved through any, save for themselves. Her eyes were laughing, as was her expression, and her hair caught in the light above just enough to remind him of a day when they'd been beneath the moonlight, and her hair had glowed, briefly, in such a way that he'd felt captivated. And he'd often felt that way, in those days… "I don't remember much from these past few months, Chakotay- but I think that whatever I did…it was worth it. I feel…lighter than I remember. And that was always something I know I've been lacking…but I feel…that whatever I've been doing…I've been enjoying it."

                "You were…'

                "Do you know what went on, Commander?" He kept them moving, brought them past the open where she'd asked her question and wanted her answer. He didn't want to tell her anything, not out with so much at stake- her vulnerability as Captain of the ship wasn't something she'd ever wanted visable to her crew, and somehow he found it easier to accept that, now. The role of protector, it seemed, had landed squarely on his shoulders. At his obvious hesitation, Janeway's face became unreadable as she searched his own for the response. "Chakotay- talk to me."

                Talk to you. It takes memory loss to bring you closer…but you're not the same Kathryn I knew. You're vulnerable…and how do I tell you this news…it tears me, Kathryn, to see you like this…and to know that what you don't know is, inevitably, the only thing that could bring you back. It would take a shock, he imagined, to draw her out of her current state, but with the risk that it would draw her back into a slump he could never bring her out of.

                "I'm sorry, Kathryn." The tears sprang, but he forced them back, sympathy edging his distressed tone. "I'm sorry…to have to tell you this."

                "Tell me what?" They'd barely reached the door to her cabin, she keying in the entrance code with a swiftness that Chakotay marveled at. He'd never thought that she'd remember the digits…the date she'd received the letter from home. It was a painful memory for her, but she'd admitted that to have the 'tangible' reminder would make her stronger, serve as a reminder that nothing was definite in the universe. 'Especially', she'd said, 'my own.'

                He led her into the room with a gentle escorting arm that caused her to smile with surprise, and as they sat on the sofa and the doors hissed shut, he spoke in a rushed whisper, unsure of how else to free the burden. And it was a burden, one which he had been wishing to release…but not in this way.

                "Kathryn- the baby. The transport…there was nothing the Doctor could do. With the body chemistry…the combination was too alien for the computer to recognize…and the…" The what? The fetus? When he'd seen the joy in her eyes, the glow of her face as she'd revealed the news…at that point, it hadn't been merely a 'fetus'. No, the child was a living, breathing being, and Chakotay swore he'd keep it in his mind that way, and enstill it in hers as well.

             "I'm pregnant." She stated, with a finality that brought his head jolting upward. "I'm pregnant, Chakotay…will these 'transporters' of yours effect the baby?"

                He seemed deeply troubled by the news—or, perhaps, the tears were from her apparent conflict in memories. As she began to neaten up, he remained silent and somber, speaking again only when Jaffen's voice rang through the room. 

                "Kathryn? Are you done?"
                "It won't hurt." Chakotay responded. "It's a harmless proceedure. B'Elanna—the woman who we took back—she's doing fine."

                They hadn't- he hadn't- taken into consideration at the time the one reason why the effects could be different- why B'Elanna could survive the proceedure, and Kathryn Janeway's baby couldn't.

                B'Elanna's chemistry- the baby's DNA- both parents were species who were accustomed to transporters…but there was no knowledge of Jaffen's species…and the effects were as greatly in the dark.

"…the baby couldn't survive."

                The silence was immediate, which didn't cause him any surprise, as he'd expected it. But as he brought his eyes to her own, he found that perhaps…perhaps he had been surprised for all the wrong reasons. Her face revealed the pain, and her eyes were void of any such emotion. Her eyes, the most beautiful thing…something which he'd hoped for her daughter to possess… were closed tightly, lids clenched as her chest heaved and the tears began to fall in unhurried down her cheeks, tracing a path through faint, flesh colored makeup and dripping onto her navy tunic, the only fragment left of a content life on Quarra.

                He didn't pursue. He sat, allowing her grief to show plainly, and did nothing.

                "I remember more than you think," Her whisper was soft, rough velvet soaked in desperate sobs. "She moved so much…and I'd wanted to give her a pair of running shoes as her first gift, for the days she began to walk. Jaffen…wouldn't have known what running shoes were. But my mother…" The sentence was choked as she did, hand clasped over her mouth in an attempt to quell back the remaining sobs which threatened to break her wall of restraint. "…my mother gave me running shoes…and she would have, someday, loved to know she'd had a granddaughter…who never had a name."

                Chakotay gathered her in his arms, wrapped her body in a cocoon of security as her anguish broke through and ran over his tunic, through his skin and tore into his own soul, suffering because his closest friend was hurt so badly for a life she'd had and a life that she would never see through.

                "Commander, I assure you- this will be seen to more thoroughly. We've dismissed the officer in charge…and the plant will soon be under new management." The face of the Quarran chancellor was of little comfort to Chakotay, and he regarded the figure with nothing more than an impassive nod. The crew had been recovered quickly, all seemingly well after numerous treatments by Voyager's doctor and the planet physicians, whose knowledge of the previous 'treatments' for Dysphoria Syndrome was much more than that of the EMH.

                "We're grateful for the assistance, Chancellor, and will be leaving orbit as soon as the last few details have been sorted through." Chakotay allowed himself the luxury of a brief sigh, and squared his shoulders. "We'll send in our request for clearance in one hour."

                "Very good, Commander. Chancellor Tamren- out." The screen reverted to a view of the planet, murky brown surface swirling in an array of shades, and Chakotay turned to seat himself in Janeway's position. The Captain herself had several more details to sort out within that remaining hour, and until that time, her first officer had every intention of keeping her mantle in check.

                She paced her quarters despondently, hands clasped behind the back of her Starfleet issue tunic, fingers gently rubbing against the stiff fabric. It seemed odd to wear this, after months of civilian attire- but Chakotay had assured her that to return to her role, to don this uniform would be an easier first step. And she'd taken it.

                "Come in." The sound of the door chime evoked an immediate response, and with her final pivot she gave the entrant a soft, melancoly smile in greeting. "Jaffen."

                "Kathryn…" His eyes took in the cabin, and a soft chuckle escaped his lips. "If this is what you had to come back to- I don't blame you."

                "I don't want to leave." She murmured, sinking onto the couch as he approached, and beckoning for him to do the same. The same couch, same cushions where hours before, she'd sat in Chakotay's arms and let out the hardest grief she'd ever had to face. The loss of an individual whom she'd already known, yet would never meet. It was so simple, the loss of this child, and still… "Jaffen…I love you."

                "I love you," His lips met hers, their eyes closing to savor that brief moment, before her hand drifted to his face, and they moved apart. Too quickly.  Forest green eyes searched out the depths of her own, and his lips parted to question. "Kathryn…what's wrong?"

                "You know already, don't you?" She queried, peering at his face in the half-darkness of her quarters, as she'd refused to bring up the lighting so she wouldn't be force to stare at the pain in her lovers face- to see the haunted look she knew existed within her own eyes. But that, already, obviously did not exist- replaced by a calm, easy acceptance present in his voice, movements, and what of his eyes she could see. "Jaffen- how…"

                "Chakotay contacted me." There was a slight bitterness…reminicent of the days she recalled when Chakotay and Jaffen were at odds…the two men never having liked each other…their only true commonality being their respect and affection for her. Chakotay representing everything that Jaffen never wanted to know about- her other life, and what was going to take her away from him. Not death, not an accident…but returning her to a life in which she belonged. "Kathryn- I'm sorry."

                "I know you are. I…I had my time to be sorry." She sighed softly, and in the light he found her expression weary. His Kathryn- the one light he'd thought would never fade- was fading before his very eyes. And he moved to embrace her, arms folding about her body as Chakotay's had only moments before- he unaware of this fact, and she…she all too aware of it and the feelings it had envoked.  "And I still am, sweetheart. I'll always be sorry." She murmured these last words against his shoulder before pulling away, rising to pace the room resolutely, never meeting his eyes as she continued her constant path. He didn't speak- simply watched her, and she could feel the powerful gaze driving into her back as she pivoted.

                "You were my lover, Kathryn. And this child was my way of keeping you here with me…I didn't know that Chakotay would come, fill your head with all of this- the truth- and take you away from us…from Quarra. I wanted this."

                "You think that I didn't?" She spun once again to face him, expression livid as her lips parted. "Jaffen…this baby…this was the happiest few months of my life…A life I didn't know I had was waiting in the wings, but with this baby…if I had the chance to sort out everything new, everything old…I wanted that life, perhaps more than I wanted this one."

                "But you came back."

                "Of course I came back! Chakotay presented me with the best argument I could have ever hoped to hear," She stopped, voice dropping to just above a whisper as she hoarsely proclaimed, "That I had one hundred and forty-seven people depending on me. One hundred and forty-seven, Jaffen…and those people…just hearing about them made me realize that if I did indeed have that many lives in my hands…I owed them nothing less than to take them the distance. I didn't know the risks of losing our daughter were so high…and I didn't know that the risks of losing you…were even higher."

                Her mouth closed, lips pressing together as Kathryn Janeway felt the first signs of tears pricking at the corners of irate cobalt orbs. But she couldn't cry…not when everything was left to her refusing to do so. If she could hold off just long enough…then she could say her newest goodbye.

                And she didn't want to. In her mind's eye, that one afternoon by the fire, wrapped in Jaffen's arms…the warmth and comfort she had found there remained lodged within a part of her memory she'd not had before. And before she knew it, she was throwing her body into those arms, the same strong, compassionate arms which worked in tandem with those deep brown eyes to convince her that she had the time in life to enjoy what stood in front of her.

                "Oh, Jaffen…I'm going to miss you. I'd ask you to stay, but-"

                "No, Kathryn…I'm home on Quarra. I'm home…but I'll always love you." Jaffen's kiss was sincere, soft on her lips as he bestowed it, taking time to allow her mind to lodge the feel, the taste, within it's depths for a day when she would need to call upon it most. And as she watched him slip away, the light from the corridor spilling once again into her quarters, she realized that indeed, that day would come, and she would need what he had been able to leave her.

                The strength to recover, and keep going.

                "Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible - not to have run away."

                                                                                                                                                -Dag Hammarskjold

                Captain Janeway stepped onto the bridge to the sounds of silence, wondering for a moment at the lack of signals from the stations, absence of soft breathing coming from the stationed crew. But those sounds were there, she realized after a moment- they were only masked by the anxious sound of her own heart beating in her ears.

                It was time to be herself again.

                "Commander, thank you." Chakotay's smile was bright, and apparently infectious, as the majority of crew began to mold their own features into replicas of his own. She too smiled, softly, reminding all that she had a long way to go before she could truly feel at home again…and that she needed their guidance, their loyalty, to aid in that recovery. "I appreciate your assistance."

                "Whenever you need me, Captain." Her first officer nodded assuringly and relocated to his own seat, giving her access to the smooth, grey leather of the right-hand chair- the Command Chair itself. Janeway returned the nod and inhaled, sliding her body into the fitting, pleasing contours of her seat with a relaxed sigh, the sound of which surprised even herself. She was comfortable again…and knew that she would remember this moment for a long time to come.

                "Lieutenant Paris," She leaned back, legs crossed smoothly as the words passed her lips, rolling across the bridge as if they had never left, and knew their way. "Set a course…for home."


                Authors Note: It's taken me ages to finish this…because I've had the worst case of writers block I've ever encountered! I know the ending lacks much to be desired…but if anyone has any little suggestions, please e-mail me at café_night_owl@yahoo.com, and I'll be more than happy to use them, if you'll let me! J I'd like to improve, as anyone does.