Getting the Ending Right

Delta Story
cmwende@compuserve.com

GETTING THE ENDING RIGHT PG-13

Summary: Janeway is presented with three scenarios regarding the love of her life. Will the final
ending re-create events in history, or create history of its own?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Captain’s Log, Stardate 50811.2:

We have returned from an away mission on Prexnia 3, an M planet in the Nerlian system. This
system has not been defined on any of the starmaps we had last received from the Habolians, and
stellar cartography was hard pressed to indicate when the twin star system had appeared in their
searches.

However, we found the planet to be a most hospitable one. Although its inhabitants were not as
advanced technologically as we are, they had many useful natural resources which they were
willing to trade for information regarding the presence of other cultures we had met bordering
and within their stars’ system. We were able to bring aboard much in the way of fresh food
supplies, ionized phospholaurentium to replenish our warp coils, and, most importantly, provide
shore leave for the crew. Now after six days of refreshing ourselves and our ship, we are ready
to resume our journey.
Supplemental, Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 50811.2

During the six days at Prexnia 3, Chakotay and I managed to have 48 hours of shore leave. Even
though our personal relationship is well accepted by the crew, life on Voyager provides very
little privacy, for we must constantly be at the ready for the needs of the ship and crew. With the
crew having had four days time for relaxation and refreshment, Tuvok suggested that Chakotay
and I allow ourselves 48 hours together, promising to contact us only in the case of dire
emergency.

Tom and B’Elanna had found a rustic inn nestled in the mountains in the southern hemisphere of
the planet and recommended it to us. Their advice was well founded. Not only were we
provided with a spacious suite overlooking a mountain valley, but it also had a *huge* bathtub!
It was meant to be…I cannot remember a time when I was more relaxed, unless I go back to the
time when Mark and I
went to Lake Tahoe……………..

Janeway’s recording was interrupted by a rapidly enveloping fog. In seconds, her ready room
was entirely obscured by its presence. “What is…” she barely got out before she became quite
light headed. It was becoming difficult for her to breathe; the temperature and humidity in the
room were becoming uncomfortable.

Just as quickly as the fog appeared, it evaporated, revealing a golden clad Q, lying across the
surface of her desk.

“Kathy, Kathy…I let you turn me down for that Cheshire cat of a first officer you have, and now
you’re reminiscing of past loves. What *are* we going to do with you? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Being
unfaithful to good ole Chuckles…”

“Q, this is *none* of your business! And you now have a wife and child with whom *you*
should be! Why must you continue to pester me?”
“Pestering? Bosh! My dear Kathy, I’m just here to help you out in your predicament. I think it’s
time for moldy Mark and cutesy Chuck to meet, don’t you? Let them settle this *mano a
mano*… to the victor belongs the spoils…and you *are* such a prize… maybe I should allow
myself in on this little game…”

“Q, doesn’t the Continuum need you? What about Ms. Suzie and your adorable son?”

“Oh, she’s taken him off to Grand Q’s for a millennium or so, and I *had* to find something to
occupy my time. And you humans are so entertaining. Let’s see…”

There was a blinding flash. Janeway felt herself being drawn through a howling wind tunnel.
Suddenly, she was deposited quite unceremoniously on a deep, soft surface. As she regained her
senses, she realized that she was lying on a plushly cushioned divan. There were servants all
around her. As she tried to make sense out of her surroundings, she felt the cooling zephyrs of
two large ostrich fans being waved at either end of her lounge. Her eyes focused more, she saw
that her body
was draped in a white, diaphanous material that fell into pleats below her breasts. A narrow
piece of transparent fabric tightly spanned the breasts themselves and barely covered her upper
arms. Her exposed feet were clad in sandals composed of only thin soles and straps. Around her
neck was a necklace made of flattened rectangles of gold, embedded with gems that looked to be
rubies and sapphires. Gold circlets were twisted around her upper arms. But the strangest
sensation was the feel of hair on her forehead; she suddenly realized that she had short hair
creating a border along her forehead…what was that called…oh, yes! bangs…what a strange
name! Feeling down the sides of her hair, she noticed that it was of a much thicker texture than
usual. Pulling some of the longer-than- shoulder length hair into her peripheral vision, she
noticed how much darker it was; why, it was black!

The room surrounding her was sparsely furnished, but the sofa upon which she was lying, two
chairs and a small table were of heavy carved ebony. The table was heavily laden with plates or
fruit, nuts and other confections. Its surface was made from a variety of colors and textures of
mosaic tiles. The walls were covered by what appeared to be gold damask. An opening to the
outside allowed the bright sunlight, as golden as the wall hangings, to enter.

A servant, naked from the waist up, clad only in an intricately folded skirt of white linen, was
bringing in a gold tray which held a gem-encrusted silver carafe of wine and three large carved
silver goblets. The servant put the tray on the table. “My lady, the two gentlemen from Rome
are here. Would you like to have both of them welcomed into your chamber now?”

Kathryn Janeway’s mind was trying to quickly the assimilate the scenario unfolding around
her…what had happened in the blink of an eye, a blip in the continuum… oh, yes! Q! He had
been there, talking about her relationships with Mark and Chakotay… how dare he! And now,
here she was in this ridiculous, obscene outfit and even more ridiculous hair… wait a minute!
Her mind swiftly put together her surroundings… her dress… the “two gentlemen from Rome…”
*My God! — I’m
Cleopatra,* she thought.

She abruptly sat upright, pulling her legs around to allow her to rise to a standing position. As
soon as she did so, the servants bowed in acknowledgment of their queen. The two gentlemen
from Rome… they had to be Julius Caesar and Marc Antony… but, who… why… *I guess the
only way to get to the bottom of this is to…*

“Yes, let them both come in,” she responded to the inquiring servant. (Did he look a little like
Tuvok, she thought, looking at him as he turned to receive her guests. Come to think of it, the
two young women bearing the fans looked like… Jenny and Megan Delaney… no, oh, no…)
The tall dark servant reappeared with the two guests. They were almost the same height, one
appearing older than the other, with dark hair streaked with gray, softened further by hazel eyes.
His forehead bore the creases brought about by a life full of care of others’ burdens and heavy
responsibility. A tenuous smile enlivened his serious face. His eyes caressed her image, but the
caress was one of spent energies. The younger man had jet black hair and eyes of the same color.
His face was darker than his compatriot’s, and seemed unmarked by lines. Shadows along the
upper part of his left forehead gave him a sultry appearance. He, too, smiled, but his smile
seemed directly connected to his eyes. His eyes did not so much caress her as engulf her; his
gaze weakened her knees…her guests looked like… Mark and Chakotay!
*No, no,* her mind tried to yell for Q, only to find that the sole words she could utter were those
to issue a greeting to her guests. ” My home is honored by the presence of the great men from
Rome.”

Two more servants entered — were they Tom and Harry? — who brought the chairs forward for
their mistress’ guests. “Please, my lords, be seated,” she said as she waved them to the seats. She
herself resumed her prone position. She felt the eyes of both men trace every curve of her body
as she stretched herself across the cushions and positioned the pleats of her gown.

“How do the affairs of the great state of Rome allow both of you to be here at the same time?”
she asked of her prominent guests. With out a word, the older of the two (Julius Caesar/Mark?)
arose and walked over to her. Taking her by the hand, he gently urged her to stand. Still holding
her hand, he led her to the opening which
led to a balcony. Leaving a seemingly calm (Marc Antony/ Chakotay?) behind them, he led her
onto the balcony to overlook the city below. A deep blue sea embraced the flowing lines of the
building-lined landscape.
Speaking in a deep voice that presumed both authority and question, he addressed her. “My
goddess, you and I together could rule all of this and Rome and more, even lands which have yet
to been seen. Come with me to Rome, and I will endow you with all that is mine. My conquests
are nothing unless I have you beside me. You, glorious woman, are the one thing I lack. Come
with me, and the world is ours together.” He gently but firmly pulled her towards him and kissed
her. The kiss was one of conquest and possession, but it was not one of passion. She already
had possessions, power, and the adoration of thousands; what she wanted – no, *needed* – was
the obsessive, consuming passion of one man. And she knew that the man now holding her
could not make her the object of such a love.

“As kind as you have been to me, and with all the glories you promise me, I cannot leave my
people. Just as you must be with yours, I must remain with mine. I must be where they need me.
Your love, admiration and respect are precious gifts, but my life demands that I consider my
people and their needs. Remember me, as I shall always remember you; but Rome is your home,
just as this vast land is mine.” She returned his kiss, but it carried with it the flavor of finality.
He slowly pulled away, looking at her with a longing stare. Then, he turned, and left through the
chamber where the other man was still seated.

As the caesar named Julius walked past the younger man, he said with sorrow in his voice, “The
prize is yours; may you enjoy your reward.”
Marc Antony walked out into the balcony, where the other man had left the queen of Egypt. A
gentle breeze lifted the folds of her gown, to reveal the exquisite body underneath. He walked
behind her, and, placing his hands on her shoulders, turned her around to face him. Without a
word, he pulled her to him and gave her the kiss that she craved. Her arms entwined his neck as
his hands traced the warm curves of her body. The combined senses of his touch, his taste, his
smell… yes, *this* was what she had been waiting a lifetime for, as her body became more his
than hers…
The dizzying fog once more appeared, spinning her mind and senses, as again she was caught in
the seemingly fathomless vortex. She tried to calm her thoughts. She faintly seemed to hear Q’s
maniacal laughter and voice. “Oh, Kathy, Kathy… why must you make it so easy? Perhaps
another time and place….”

The whirling atmosphere and the vertigo it produced quickly receded. Kathryn sensed the
rhythmical
movement of the strong muscles of a large horse underneath her straddling body and legs. Dust
filled
her eyes and nostrils, as animal sounds and human voices surrounded her. Her eyes became
adjusted
to a very bright sunlight that was punctuated with by shadows from overhanging tree branches.
She
found herself astride a magnificent gray horse, whose mane was interlaced with ribbons and
flowers.
She was seated in a saddle which had her positioned with both of her legs to the left side of the
mounted animal. The voluminous folds of her cloak and equally full gown underneath swirled
to the
back, as the horse cantered along. She felt the weight of a heavy braid bouncing on her back.
She
braved taking one hand away from the reins, and touched a metal circlet which surrounded her
head,
holding a short, fine textured veil in place.

“My Lady, are you weary? Do you wish to rest?” She turned her head to the rider at her right.
There
she saw a similarly attired and mounted young woman, who looked like…B’Elanna Torres? “We
should be there before sundown. I know it has been a tiring three days on the road, but the king
does
await you.”

*King?* Kathryn thought. Her eyes broke contact with her solicitous younger companion and
quickly
surveyed the rest of the group riding with her. There was another even younger appearing
woman
along side her. This woman had turned and was speaking to one of the dozen or so men in the
group. All of the men were attired with outer coverings of chain mail armor. Swords swung
from
their sides or saddles, and most had long lances attached to their saddles also.

Several wisps of blond hair escaped from underneath the veil of the speaking woman. Based on
her
slight stature, Kathryn knew that when she saw her face, it would be that of Kes.

The blonde waif turned, and her velvet voice fulfilled the prediction. “Lady Guinevere, Sir
Thomas
has suggested that we do stop. He knows of a small lake up ahead. It would provide a perfect
respite for the horses to drink and graze. Lady Edith and I can prepare refreshing drink for all.
Pray, do let us stop.”

*Guinevere* raised her hand. “Agreed,” she said. “A rest would do us all well.” *Besides*, she
thought, *I’ve got to figure out where Q has transported us this time.*
Fifteen minutes later, a grassy glen with a crystal blue lake came into view. The riding party
quickly
dismounted. Several of the men cared for the horses, wiping them down while the animals
greedily
drank from the lake. Lady Edith and Lady Helena, which seemed to be the names of the two
female
attendants, unloaded goblets and flacons and fruit from the saddle bags. They spread a large
piece of
tapestry on the ground at the foot of an ancient oak tree for their mistress. Lady Edith, the taller
and
darker of the two women, bade her to sit. They served her first, before providing refreshment to
the
men in the party.

Kathryn noticed that, even at rest, the men remained in their protective mail garments, their
weapons
never out of ready reach. As her eyes scanned her guard unit, she suddenly saw a figure whom
she
had missed in her earlier survey. He had been following the entourage by a couple of hundred
yards.
As he dismounted, he looked over at her. The dark face, the smoky eyes, the piercing look — it
was
Chakotay. She lowered her eyes to break the intimate contact, but not before her two ladies had
noticed the shared moment.

Lady Helena leaned over to Lady Edith’s awaiting ear, whispering. Even with softly spoken
words,
the comment resonated and floated on the breeze of late spring, falling onto their mistress’ ears.
“My Lord Lancelot has a look to him that is more than protection for our lady. And she gazes at
him
more and more frequently. I have even seen her touch his arm or body. The King should not
have
sent one of his knights of the table round to escort her, for *all* know that his knights possess
magical power and charms.”

*Lancelot…Guinevere…and the king, who must be Arthur*, thought Kathryn. *Q, ‘what’ have you
done now?*

The lovely Guinevere rose from her shaded resting area and straightened the full circle of her
sky-
blue gown. “My ladies,” she said addressing Edith and Helena, “I wish to draw apart alone for a
little
while.”

“Do you think that wise, my lady?” Lady Edith asked with an agitated voice. “We know not
what
the woods hold.”

“I will be ever vigilant in observing my surroundings,” said the lady Guinevere. “You and my
able
men are only a shout away.” And she quickly disappeared into the cool shadows of the dense
trees.

*I must think!* thought Kathryn. *How did this story go? Guinevere married Arthur as part of an
alliance to unite the fiefdoms of Britain almost two millennia ago. Arthur had formed an elite
group
of knights to aid him in his benevolent causes and quests. And Lancelot…Lancelot…*

Just then, she heard a noise behind her. She turned, only to find herself immediately in the arms
of
the dark knight to whom her eyes had been magically drawn earlier. “My lady, we both know
that
this marriage to the king is wrong; you *cannot* go through with it. Let us escape now and
return to
my homeland of Normandy.” His hands were tightly grasping her shoulders as he drew her to
him
and passionately kissed her. Before she realized it, her hands were responding, positioning
themselves under his heavy mail coat, greedily feeling the taut muscles of his body under his
tunic.

“My heart sings words of yes, but my head reminds me of duty, my love. I *must* marry Arthur,
for this is the destiny and hope for our lands. He has loved me for so long. How were you and I
to
know that we would meet after I was pledged to him?”

“And how can I go on serving with him, knowing that my life and heart belong to you? For you
are
my soul, my life, my love…” the dark knight was whispering into her auburn tresses.

“Then my soul, my life and my love are yours,” she murmured back. “Physically I will be his, but
the physical state is transitory. My soul will be with yours for all of eternity. Now — we must
return to the others, else they will suspect. My life, my love, my existence…” One last time they
shared a long, deep kiss; one last time they held each other, as if transferring their very spirits
into
one another.

The brief respite from the trip was over. The group reformed, refreshed and ready for the final
leg
of their journey to… Camelot.

~~~~~~~

As Guinevere and her escort party approached the spectacular castle and its walls, the sun was
lowering in the western sky. casting a golden hue on the panoramic scene. The very stones
themselves seemed to be made of the precious metal. Lancelot rode ahead, to alert the king of
the
arrival of his bride and queen. By the time the travelers arrived at the bridge crossing the castle’s
wide moat, well wishers lined the sides of the road and the bridge itself. Flags and streamers
were
waving, and bluebells and apple blossoms were strewn in their path. The fragrance of the
crushed
flowers was heavy in the late afternoon air. Arthur himself awaited Guinevere, with all of his
knights
around him. Lancelot joined them, standing straight but expressionless.
Kathryn/Guinevere also remained in a stiff repose. As they drew closer…closer…closer, the
features
of her future husband came into focus. There, covered with the regal red and gold robes of the
house
of Uther, stood — Mark.

Kathryn’s face went ashen. Lady Helena turned to her, supporting her as she dismounted. “My
lady,
are you faint? Your face has lost its color.”

“No, my friend. I am well. ‘Tis the journey and the relief of a safe arrival at our new home.”
She
quickly made her way to the king, lowering herself in a deep curtsey. “My lord and king.”

Arthur/Mark took her hands between his. “My lady, no show of homage is necessary, other than
telling me that I am to be your love and your husband.” He raised her, and kissed her on either
cheek. His hazel eyes met hers of blue, and searched their depths for her commitment to their
troth.

“My liege, you have waited for me for many years. I have come to fulfill our pledge, and to
become
your wife and queen. All that I have and am are yours. I will be your queen, and together we
will
work to unify this land. This I pledge to you.” She stood on her toes to return his kisses of
betrothment. She blinked back the tears which suddenly filled her eyes, and smiled at him. He
looked down at her, and read her tears as a sign of happiness for their union.

“My sweet Guinevere – my love, my wife. I give you Camelot and all herein. I and my knights
are
ever at your service, and with our lives we pledge our faithfulness to you. Come now, let us
begin
our celebration and our lives together.” He lovingly enveloped her in his protective arm as he
guided
her through the massive gate. They turned to enter, and she stole one glance at Lancelot. His
eyes
bravely stared ahead, looking far into the world of what might have been, in another time,
another
place. Somewhere in the distance was the mournful cry of a lone loon. Camelot would never
again
be the same. Lady Helena looked up at the knight as she passed by. “Good sir, grieve not. A
time
will come for you and my lady to be as one. Love spans all time, and truly mated souls will
always
find one another.”

The knight turned and looked at the golden haired lady-in-waiting. As the shadows fell upon his
face,
Lady Helena saw a dark pattern form along his left forehead. In her deepest heart, she felt that
there
was a significance to its appearance.

Arthur and Guinivere passed through the castle portals, into a hall ablaze with candles, flowers
and
greenery. She looked into the flames of a group of the tapers…
And found herself being transported once more. She closed her eyes and felt her brain
exploding into
a cry, “Q, this is enough!”

“No, no, my Kathryn. *They* still haven’t gotten it worked out yet…”
“They?” asked Kathryn. “Who is ‘they’ – and why am I involved…?” she stopped in midsentence.
“It’s Mark and Chakotay, isn’t it? *That’s* what this is all about; but why?”

“Tch, tch. All in good time, Captain. Tell me, why did you refuse me, hmmmm? I could have
given you power, riches; why, even a trip back to the Alpha Quadrant! But what would happen
there? You would still have to make a choice. There, in the AQ, is long-suffering Mark: first,
patiently waiting for you to notice him; then patiently waiting for you to pursue your career; and
now
— well, probably patiently waiting for you still…oh, yes, Kathy; *I* know what’s happening, but
that’s not for you to know! And then here, in the Delta Quadrant, poor Chakie, pining away for
you,
hoping that your memories of Mark will vaporize in the next plasma storm. You *do* like to
keep
your men on a short leash, don’t you, Kathryn? Well, let’s continue our little storytelling game
and
find out which way it will go. Why don’t you step back and just watch this part with me? Can
you
stay out the action long enough to observe this time?”

“Wait a minute, Q. Don’t I have any say in this? After all, it *is* my life that you’re playing with

– my life, my decision!”

Q reached over to her and patted her on the head. “Now, now, you’ve had *years* to decide.
Let’s
see what happens when you relinquish some of that control and let others make your choice for
you.”
He put a finger on her lips as she started to speak, but, to her horror, she realized that his touch
had
rendered her speechless. All she could do was wait for the next scene in Q’s bizarre game to
play
out.

Kathryn closed her eyes momentarily, opening them quickly when she heard noises that sounded
like
Q had transported them into Tom’s holodeck program of Sandrine’s bar. It *was* a bar, filled
with
tables of laughing people and complete with a pool table at the rear. But it was not Sandrine’s.
The
doors of the tavern opened, allowing cold, damp air to come in. Three figures appeared through
the
haze, and she recognized the voices: Tom, Harry and B’Elanna. She shot a searing gaze at Q and
tried to speak. “Go on, you can get closer; they can’t see you,” he whispered to her.

Tom’s voice was the first she heard. “Man, I thought facing my father was going to be the
toughest
part of getting back. But after 15 hours with that debriefing team, Dad was a pussycat.”
Kathryn noticed that all three of the younger people looked rather exhausted.

“Yeah, I guess I got off easy,” Harry added. “Only seven hours. But I’ve got to summarize
everything again for the Academy. I’m just glad that the worst is over now.”

“Speak for yourself, you two.” B’Elanna looked frustrated, with anger and a touch of fear in her
eyes. “I don’t know what they’re going to decide about those of us who were Maquis. Chakotay
is
still with those predators! I know the Captain said that she was going to fight for amnesty for us,
but
who knows what those…those…*Vidiians* will take in return!” Her Klingon temper was rapidly
surfacing.

Kathryn started putting her clues together — Voyager had returned to the Alpha Quadrant, to
Earth, to
San Francisco and Starfleet. That meant that…oh, my God! She knew what Q was planning
now…*No; please no,* she thought.

The three junior officers sat down at one of the vacant tables, and Tom ordered a pitcher of beer.
*Beer! The *real* thing!* he thought. *The second best thing in the universe…* All of them
reverently watched the sparkling bubbles form as he poured glasses of the brew for all of them,
allowing the frothy foam to spill over the sides, savoring the aroma and sight. Tom took a sip,
and
his face took on the look of having been transported to heaven. Here he was back on Earth, his
father finally approving of his accomplishments and contributions on Voyager’s journey, and
sipping
cold beer with the woman he loved and his best friend. Life was good!
Harry broke Tom’s reverie by bringing up the Captain. Like a good son, he was worried about his
Starfleet “mom”, who had supported all of the crew’s service and performance. But he knew that
personally she had a lot to face also. “What do you think is going to happen to the Captain?” he
queried. “I monitored a couple of her communications to Earth — okay, so I eavesdropped! —
before we arrived. She contacted her mother and sister, and she tried to contact her friend, Mark
Johnson. Her sister told her that he was at a conference on Vega II, but that they could alert him.
When we arrived, I saw Mrs. Janeway and Phoebe, but there wasn’t any one else with them.”

B’Elanna’s eyes darted between Tom and Harry. “That’s just as well. I don’t know how she could
have faced him right then, with Chakotay debarking the shuttle with her. I wonder what sort of
fireworks are going to go up when those three finally meet.” Just then, her eyes focused on a
familiar
face coming through the door. He, like his compatriots already at the San Francisco bar, looked
drained of energy and emotion. “Commander, we’re over here,” she called to him. Voyager’s
first
officer saw the younger crew members, and headed over to join them. They stood as he
approached.
Even now, in off-duty mode, they showed their mutual respect for all he had done for them over
the
past five years.

“Well, at least I’m not in the brig – yet,” he sighed, as he motioned for them all to sit. “I really
should be getting some sleep. What time is it – 0200? And we started at 0700, um – yesterday.
They
want me back at 0900.”

B’Elanna fearlessly started with the questions with which all of them were bursting. “Are we
going
to be charged? Reprimanded? Drummed out of whatever service we are in? How’s the Captain?”

“Whoa, slow it down, B’Elanna! My mind is working on one-tenth impulse! No, I don’t think
we’ll
be facing any mutiny charges, after all we’ve done and been through. But other disciplinary
action? –
that’s still up for grabs. I think that we’re at the mercy of whatever the Captain can say. And, no,
I
haven’t seen Kathryn – er, the Captain – since they escorted us into separate debriefing rooms.
But,
as I was excused a little while ago, I met her sister, Phoebe. She was waiting outside the room
where
Kathryn was. Nice woman! Looks a lot like Kathryn, but her hair is a bit more uncontrolled.
She
was very pleasant. We chatted and I told her where we would be, if Kathryn got out anytime
soon. I
think I could sleep for 12 hours straight, yet my body is working on pure adrenaline right now.”
He
looked at the pitcher with its remaining beer. “I almost could join you in some of that, but I
better
stick to something my body knows.” With that, he got up and walked over to the bar. He
ordered a
Vulcan graling nectar with sparkling water, and returned, slumping quite un-Starfleet like into
the
chair.

The Voyager officers returned to their quizzing of each other over the events in the 20 hours
since
their return to Starfleet headquarters. With the late hour, the tavern’s customers were starting to
dwindle. Going against the exodus, another couple arrived. The woman was scanning the room,
searching for the face of a person she had met earlier. Her eyes lit up, as she recognized
Chakotay’s
visage.

“Chakotay!” Phoebe Janeway called out. She turned to speak to the person next to her, and they
walked over to the seated foursome.
Chakotay rose to meet her. She reached over, and hugged him. “Kathryn was excused, but she
really needed some rest. She needs to reconvene with them
tomorrow.”

Chakotay sighed and looked disappointed. “I know the feeling. I’ve got to go back, too. Is she
all
right?”

“Tired,” said Phoebe. “But she seemed to be in good spirits, considering all of the stress.”
Phoebe
realized that the man next to her was shifting uncomfortably. “Oh, please excuse my lack of
manners; must be the late hour. Chakotay, I’d like for you to meet Mark Johnson.”

B’Elanna, Tom and Harry stifled a collective gasp at the mention of Mark — Captain Janeway’s
Mark! Chakotay’s dark eyes livened at the mention of his name. He extended his hand to the
man
standing next to Phoebe. Mark — this was Mark. He was about Chakotay’s height, with a
slighter
build. His hair was almost entirely gray, and its edges framed a lined face punctuated by hazel
eyes.
*His hair has changed since that photograph I remember,* thought Chakotay. *But I guess my
own
hair has a little of that color in it now, too.*

“Mark, good to meet you. I’ve — er, um — heard a lot about you,” said a very uncomfortable
Chakotay. *Is my hand shaking? Is it cold and clammy?*

Mark took the extended hand, and shook it calmly. “A pleasure, sir. It’s good to meet folks who
have been with Kathryn throughout this ordeal.”

Chakotay quickly introduced the other three officers to Phoebe and Mark. They pulled up two
more
chairs, and ordered another pitcher of beer.

Much small talk was bantered around the table, but it was obvious that no one in the group was
at
ease. Tension was higher than at a Cardassian/Starfleet negotiating session. Phoebe, with
typical
Janeway bravura, decided that the time had come to allow Mark and Chakotay some time
together.
Seeing the pool table in the back of the room, she said, “Tom Paris, are you still the pool shark
that I
remember hearing about? How about B’Elanna and I taking on you and Harry for a couple of
games?”

The others in the group silently applauded her for the ease of her distracting gambit. Tom got
up.
“You’re on. But I warn you, Torres has a temper! Don’t criticize her technique!” He ducked, as
B’Elanna threw a punch towards him. Phoebe glanced quickly at Mark. Their eyes
communicated a
message that the others could not read. A plea? Comfort? Courage? Tom was already trying out
the
various cue sticks for balance.

After the others had left, Chakotay nervously cleared his throat. ” Have you seen Kathryn yet?”

“No, I just got in from Vega II. Phoebe met me, and told me what the situation was. I guess we’ll
get to see each other tomorrow,” said the other man. “It seems like it’s been forever at times; and
then again, only yesterday…”

“I know what you mean. One minute my Maquis crew and I were being chased as renegades;
and
the next, we were Starfleet allies. It’s been quite an eventful five years…”

It was Mark’s turn to appear nervous. “You have probably talked enough about what all has
happened, so I won’t ask specifics. Besides, it’s probably classified at this point, isn’t it?”

“That’s what we’ve been told to say.” Chakotay sighed. How much *more* was classified? Had
Kathryn told Phoebe and her mother about them? Did Mark know? “I’m sure after all the
debriefings
are over, a general report will be issued.” *God, was it hot in here all of a sudden?* Chakotay
thought. His stomach, which had not had much food in it over the last 24 hours, was turning
cartwheels. This was worse than the lengthy interrogation he had been through that day.

Chakotay continued. “Kathryn seems to have come back in good shape. There were some rough
times for all of us, but good old Starfleet technology kept us patched up pretty well. You won’t
be
disappointed by how she looks. As a matter of fact,” he grinned, “she looks pretty damned
good.”
His eyes took on the look that he always got nowadays when he thought about his captain, *his*
Kathryn… He realized his lapse in decorum and quickly added, “We all tended to look after one
another. It got to be a real family out there.”

Mark’s eyes were carefully studying the wet rings left on the table by the beer glasses. His
fingers
traced their liquid outlines, rubbing out their forms. “We sort of became a family support group
here
on earth, too. Voyager had been gone for two years before Starfleet finally declared the ship and
crew missing and presumed dead. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. Again, I was
“on hold”, waiting for Kathryn. It seemed like the story of my life was nothing but chapters
filled
with waiting, again.” His eyes looked up, and straight into those of the ex-Maquis.

Chakotay quietly said, “My Maquis days were the rare time in my life when I lost the teachings
of
my people regarding patience.” Then, his face lit up with a grin. “Thankfully, I remembered
them
on Voyager. I certainly needed it serving with Kathryn Janeway!”
For the first time since the two men met, Mark’s face showed a smile of relaxation. “She’s quite
something, isn’t she? I believe some of the words I’ve been known to hear or say about her
include
stubborn, obstinate, compulsive…”

“Adamant, unmovable, bullheaded…” added Chakotay. The two were laughing now. In the
midst of their commradery, they did not see a couple of glances shot their
way from the group at the pool table.

“I guess she really needed those qualities to get her through some of the earlier times in her life.
And, I would think that, in what all of you have been through, they were not undesirable, either,”
Mark replied, more seriously.

The first officer nodded. “There were times when she alone believed in her decisions. But she
never
lost faith that we would make it back to the Alpha Quadrant. We had a lot of heated discussions
regarding her ideas. I’m afraid I didn’t make it any easier on her. But, we always seemed to…”
Chakotay looked down at his almost empty glass, as he weighed his next words very carefully.
“…we always seemed to arrive at agreeable parameters and to compromise in a professional
manner.”

Now it was Mark’s turn to study his glass. He was silent for a while, then looked up. Again, his
light eyes pierced the darkness of the other man’s. “How long have you been in love with her?”
he
asked in a firm, steady voice.

Chakotay’s eyes met Mark’s, his gaze never wavering. However, his voice did, as he answered,
“From the first time I met her on Voyager. I was totally under her spell.” His swallowed. “I’m
sorry, Mark. Now that we are back, and I have no idea what my fate will be, you and she can
take
up where you left off.”

Mark softly chuckled. “Five years at this time of my life is a long time for me to wait for a
Janeway.” His eyes, now with a hint of glee in them, once more locked onto those of the man
across
the table from him. “Chakotay, Phoebe and I have been married for a year and a half.”

The larger man almost fell out of his chair, so startled was he with the shock of this news.
“Whatever…how…why?” his questions tumbled out, as he tried to regain a semblance of
composure.

“I’m sure Kathryn has told you that when she left, I told her that her – *our* – dog, Molly, was
pregnant. Well, I had never been through this experience before, but I knew that all of the
Janeway
women were dog people. So, I contacted Phoebe to help me. Then, when Voyager disappeared,
we
became a support for one another. As the news became less and less hopeful, we became even
closer.
And, well…the rest, as they say, is history.”

Chakotay began to laugh. Tears were forming in his eyes – whether from laughter or relief, he
didn’t
know. “This is unbelievable!” he managed to get out. “Kathryn has tried to calm the rising
jealousy
I could feel the closer we got to earth by saying that you would always be like a brother to her —
and
here you are, her brother-in-law!” He sobered somewhat. “Does she know? Has Phoebe told
her?”

“No, not yet. We thought one shock at a time was enough for her.” Marked was smiling broadly
now, and he looked up as he felt Phoebe’s gaze calling to him. “And, hopefully, you will love
Phoebe as a sister,” he said, as he rose and motioned Chakotay to follow him over to join the
others.

Suddenly, it was if the door of the bar had opened again, as thick fog swept over the scene. The
figures, the voices disappeared, as once more Q’s heavy sigh could be heard. “Well, well, Kathy.
Quite an ending to this little story, isn’t it? And poor little Captain Janeway wasn’t even there to
have
her say.” They were back in the captain’s ready room on Voyager. Q was now sitting up on her
desk, as she was pacing around it.

He snapped his fingers, and Kathryn’s mouth was open and running. “Q, this is preposterous!
You can’t tell me that this is what will happen. Why, Mark and Phoebe
don’t even *like* each other…he thinks she’s interfering, pushy, overbearing…”

“My, my; those *do* sound like family characteristics, don’t they?” Again, he sighed. “My dear
Kathy, we have just been exploring rewriting history — or is it writing history? I really don’t
know
which, but it’s so much fun, don’t you think?
And I really do sort of like your sister. I wonder if she is available. Hmmmm… maybe I’ll take a
little trip to earth. Toodles!”

Kathryn was left alone.

The only sound in the room was her plaintive cry, “Q, come back here!”
****************

…If we do not learn from the lessons of history, we are destined to repeat them…

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