Days of Future’s Past

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“Days of Future’s Past”

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Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

– T. S. Eliot

************************************************************

A young girl sat brushing her thick dark hair in her
quarters. The sterile atmosphere had been softened over many
years by knickknacks and the soft fall of fabric and colors.
Against the muted warmth of the room, the girl bloomed like an
exotic hothouse orchid. She was a paradox in and of herself, her
ebony curls framing a pale, spirited face with a strong nose and
chin, her eyes a gorgeous cloud of blue and gold, depending on
her mood.

Right now her eyes were an intense shade of blue,
glittering as she pulled her hair into a regulation chignon at
the nape of her neck, her slim hand brushing past an intricate
tattoo over her right eye. This completed, she stood up,
brushing off the severe crimson and black of her uniform,
straightening her collar, decorated with a small dull-bronze pip.
She set resolutely out of her room, headed stalwartly out towards
the Captain’s quarters.

************************************************************

When she arrived, she was greeted by a woman sitting in a
large chair, a huge gold-bound book in her lap. The woman’s hair
caught the mellow light, accentuating the gold and silver
highlights that threaded her dark hair. She lifted her head at
the familiar beep, her face breaking into a maternal smile.
“Kehs,” she murmured, laying the heavy book aside to stand up and
hug her.

The girl grinned, her smile causing a strange gasp from the
older woman. “Hello, Mother.”

“I though you’d come, Kehs. What did you want to talk
about today?”

The younger woman sat on the floor in a familiar attitude,
gazing up at her mother with abject fascination, which sent the
Captain’s heart to her throat in remembrance. “Father.”

Janeway sank back into her chair, clutching the book and
feeling suddenly very old. The invisible lines now asserted
themselves, and she nodded. “I suppose you don’t remember him
very well… you were so young when he…”

Kehs looked down. “Died.”

Janeway’s eyes bored holes through her daughter. “NO! We
don’t know if he’s alive or dead…” she murmured brokenly.

Dispite her age, Kehs hugged her mother’s knees fiercely,
her own tears had been wept out, later replaced by curses, and
finally, resignation and a vague feeling of emptiness. Her
father had left on an away mission, and had been captured by
Kazon, never to be seen by Voyager again.

She was only five at the time, her few memories of him were
very clear: hugging her, wiping her face when she had spilled
Neelix’s cheese sauce over her head when she was three, tucking
her into her bed, showing her exquisitely carved stones,
patiently explaining to the serious young Kehs each of the
symbols on them. Dispite the length of time, she never forgot
those spiritual lessons, or the look in his eyes when he beamed
with pride when she would repeat them back a week later verbatim,
adding her own childish spin on his wise words.

Finally, Janeway cleared her throat enough to speak,
gesturing to a footstool nearby. She opened the thick album in
her lap, quickly turning past the inscription written in
Chakotay’s hand – – some things were just too deeply personal to
tell even your daughter. Besides, she had memorized it the first
day she saw it – – it was buried in a warm, living part of her
heart and soul, where Chakotay, Kes, and Tom lived on in her
memories. She pointed to the first picture in the album,
explaining, “It would have been easier to put these pictures in
the files, but your father insisted it would be more meaningful
if we had something with more weight to thumb through. He spent
a week’s replicator rations on this for us…” she sighed, her
eyes reminiscent.

Her gaze fell back to the picture that was under her
finger. “This was taken at Kes’s second birthday party. She was
an Ocampa, and they only live 9 years normally, but we were lucky
enough to have her with us for 11 years. She died when you were
very small, and we knew the end was near when you were born, and
she asked us to name you after her. Neelix, Tom, and the Doctor
couldn’t stand the thought of another Kes, but Kes was adamant,
so we added an ‘h’ to her name. She was the first person to hold
you after you were born, and she was your god-mother. She loved
you so much. Even when she couldn’t hold you anymore, I brought
you to see her everyday. When she died, you were right next to
her, curled in the crook of her arm, and she had the most
peaceful smile I’ve ever seen on her face. You cried for days
afterwards… you didn’t understand why Kes didn’t wake up.”

A tear splashed down, and she smiled wanly as she pointed
to another picture, of two young men, one in a red uniform and a
roguish expression, the other in gold with an innocent smile.
“That’s Tom Paris and Harry Kim. They…”

“Lieutenant Kim?? He used to look like THAT?” laughed
Kehs, staring at the fresh-faced young man.

Janeway stared at her daughter, and then realized it had
been more than 15 years since she had looked at these pictures.
“Yes, this was his first mission. He was so young then, very
ambitious. The best ensign a Captain could hope for. Everyone
on this crew has been more than I could have hoped for…” she
sighed again, but she couldn’t get ahead of herself, and
backtracked, “And this is Tom Paris. He began to take alot of
risks without Kes to give him a real reason to take care of
himself. Finally, he was taking a shuttle to a Talaxian planet,
when he just… ended it all, or beamed to the planet for good,
we don’t really know – – his comm badge was lying on the seat of
the chair – – but for all intents and purposes the shuttle was
empty when we tractored it in.” She lifted her hand to turn the
page, saying, “And this is the crew on the Bridge…”

But Kehs grabbed her hand, saying, “What about Father?”

Janeway sighed. “I suppose I thought I might be able to
distract you, but I see you’re too much like, or extremely
different from, both of your parents to be so blind.”

Kehs looked at her mother with a familiar arch of her
eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Janeway sighed, realizing she had unconsciously left the
door wide open for her daughter to probe further, and that there
was no turning back now. “In the beginning of this trip, we
expected to be home in three weeks, with a few bruises and the
Maquis prisoners we had come for. But due to the Caretaker,
which I’ve told you about, and perhaps some of my own hubris, I
ended up captaining a ship half Starfleet, half Maquis halfway
across the galaxy from where we began. It was strange at first,
and very exciting. We tried vainly for the first few years to
find a way home, but when we realized we wouldn’t be getting home
for 70 years, we dedicated ourselves to exploration primarily,
but I never gave up the hope that someday I would see Mark
again.”

“Mark?”

Janeway crimsoned. “I was in love with him – – I left him
on Earth, taking care of my dogs.”

“Oh.”

“But after a few years, I realized that Mark should go on
with his life, even if I couldn’t. I had very lofty ideals on
how I should distance myself from the crew, and I stuck to them.”

“Until…”

“Until one day, three years after Voyager had been sent
across the galaxy, I had been communing with my spirit guide…”

“Father’s ritual!” cried Kehs.

“Yes, with Commander Chakotay, as I knew him then. I was
in the center of a peaceful place in my mind, when I felt a hand
on my shoulder. I don’t know why, but I felt my ideals
rearranging themselves to suit him. He kissed me, and my ideals
just gave up on me then and there. I was very good friends with
all of the senior officers after that, but I think I was
attracted to your father even when he was a Maquis Captain trying
to kill me, but of course, I didn’t know it then.” she said,
turning a few pages, her eyes glistening.

Her slim fingers caressed a picture of herself and
Chakotay, her voice rich with emotion as she said, “This was
taken about two years later, when we were married. It was a
small ceremony, with a small party at Sandrine’s afterwards.”
She flipped another page, revealing a picture of Janeway holding
a small child. “You were born two years later. Tuvok did most
of the commanding the first year, and we spent alot of our off-
duty time with you. But we were traveling through what Neelix
said was unpopulated space, and you were a relatively quiet baby,
so we had no trouble. In fact, all of the Bridge crew came to
see you almost as soon as the Doctor announced your birth. You
were the most beautiful baby in the universe, and there are 150
people on this ship who would agree with me.” she smiled as she
glanced at the picture of herself and Chakotay holding Kehs.

She turned another page, her face pure joy as she recounted
her babyhood. “As soon as you could walk, you were dragging us
out of bed, or toddling off to the Mess Hall or the Bridge. You
loved to just sit in Chakotay’s lap and watch the viewscreen for
hours. You would fall asleep, and I’d carry you off to bed.
Then you learned to talk, and you were ordering around the
ensigns like you were born to. And if they didn’t do what you
asked, you’d look at them so sweetly they probably would have
caused a core breach if you wanted them to.”

She thumbed through a few more pictures, until she came to
a picture of Kehs holding a large carved rock. “When you were
four, you became very introspective and quiet. You asked your
father to teach you everything he knew about the carvings he made
and his tattoo. You were fascinated by it.”

“I know, I still remember what he taught me.” she murmured,
squeezing her mother’s hand.

Janeway stared at the dark face staring up from the album,
and smiled wistfully. “So do I, Kehs, so do I.”

A beep issued from Kehs’s comm badge, and a severe voice
said, “Bridge to Ensign Kehs. You are needed on the Bridge.”

Kehs smiled sadly at her mother. “Yes, Commander Tuvok.
I’m on my way.”

************************************************************

Janeway shivered unconsciously as Kehs left. After
Chakotay left, she never allowed anyone to call Tuvok
“Commander,” dispite his rank. After a few years, the pain
subsided just enough to let her call her first officer “Commander
Tuvok” on the Bridge, but in her mind and her Ready Room, Tuvok
was always “Lieutenant Tuvok” to her.

He had been a dear friend to her, and was her rock in the
months after Chakotay’s disappearance. She had become absorbed
in her work, forgetting her little daughter, and Tuvok always
convinced her to let go of the sorrow; the one to countermand her
order to destroy every Kazon ship they found. Finally, she put
the broken pieces of her psyche together, and became once again a
wise and caring captain to her crew, and a loving mother to her
daughter. But sometimes she felt strangely incomplete, as when
she came home to her daughter, who looked up at her and hugged
her and loved her, and she realized that she wouldn’t ever
embrace her husband again, only this wee part of themselves that
brightened her mother’s life.

She raised Kehs in extraordinary grace and maturity,
blossoming into the lovely young woman she and Chakotay had
wanted their only daughter to become. Tuvok educated her mind as
Janeway had educated her soul: with the utmost care and
attention. It was he that discovered that Kehs had a little of
the telekinetic abilities of her namesake, though not to the
amazing heights of the Ocampa. Her sympathy and assertiveness,
as well as the adventuresome spirit of her parents, led her to
don the crimson uniform of command. Janeway had been very proud
and glad – – as well as a little saddened that Chakotay would not
see the day she received her uniform and diploma. Before the
ceremony, she and Kehs had sat in her quarters, conducting what
Kehs hoped would contact Chakotay wherever he was. Janeway had
felt a warm, protective presence in the room, which passed as
quickly as it had come, but left Janeway with a warm assurance of
his love, no matter how far apart they were.

Janeway smiled, reflecting on her life. She had been very
sad when she realized she would never see Mark again, but they
had been apart from each other for long stretches of the time
they had been together. But she and Chakotay had been together
constantly for 14 years, had been aware of their feelings for
each other for 2, then were married for 9 years. It was as if
their souls had become so closely knit, they no long even had to
speak but with their eyes. Dispite the brave facade her crew
saw, a small part of her was lonely and a bit afraid when she
realized they would probably never find the Kazons, much less
hope that Chakotay might still be alive if they did.

Kehs’s voice suddenly echoed through the room, strangely
thick. “Captain, you might want to come to the Transporter
Room.”

“Right now?”

“RIGHT now. The Kazon have transported someone on board
you might want to see.”

************************************************************

Janeway shook her head of the memories, and hurried to the
Transporter Room, wondering what new aliens they had met up with
now. A small crowd had filled the room, which parted before the
Captain’s stride. She looked up, and she gasped at the figure on
the transporter. “Chakotay!” she whispered.

“Captain?” he murmured disjointedly, stepping from the
platform. The crowd had vanished except for Kehs and Janeway.
He shook his head, and turned to stare at Kehs, and at the
familiar tattoo on her forehead. “Who are you?”

Kehs smiled joyously. “I’m Kehs, Father.”

Chakotay blinked rapidly. “What?”

“Kehs, your daughter. I’m not surprised you don’t
recognize me.”

“You’re not?”

“I was only five when you disappeared.”

“Disappeared?”

Janeway put an arm around Kehs’s shoulder. “Now, Kehs, I’m
sure the Kazons’ must have addled his memory. Go to your
quarters, and we’ll return later.”

Kehs smiled naively at Janeway. “Yes, Mother.”

Chakotay stared even more. “Mother?”

“Why, yes, Chakotay, I would hope so. You are my husband.”
grinned Janeway.

Chakotay leaned on the transporter console. “I’m sorry, I
must be a little more than a bit addled. I’m very confused.”

Janeway smiled, guiding him toward the door. “I’m sure
everything will be quite clear after we talk in our quarters.”

Chakotay was too dumb-founded at this point to do anything
but nod and follow the woman he thought was just his captain.

************************************************************

Janeway handed him a steaming cup of coffee, and settled in
next to him on the sofa. Chakotay put the mug down, and put a
hand next to his forehead. Janeway smiled warmly at him as he
gazed around the room. “I… we… lived here?”

Janeway nodded. “For nine years.”

“Nine years? How many years have we been out here?”

“Twenty-eight years.”

“And how many years was I missing?”

“Fourteen. You disappeared when Kehs was five, and she’s
nineteen now.”

“Gods…” murmured Chakotay, “That’s another thing I don’t
remember… Kehs. Tell me about her.”

Janeway smiled reminicently. “She was born two years after
we were married, and she and my duty to the ship and crew were
the only thing that kept me sane after you disappeared. I would
fire on any Kazon that came in sensor range for months. But I
finally accepted that wasn’t going to do any good, and life went
back to some semblance of normalcy.”

“And Kehs?”

“Kehs was devastated, but children are very resilient,
especially Kehs. She was always very solemn and wise, and then
more than ever. She pored over your logs and your carvings even
more than when you were there. She would take your medicine
bundle and commune with her spirit guide…”

“She has a spirit guide??”

“You helped her find it a few weeks before you were
captured. She was constantly talking to it, but she could never
find you, and that pained her. She still talks to it, and when
she turned fifteen, she took your tattoo to honor you. She said
she wanted to help you make amends with your father, and she
hoped that you’d come to her then.”

“She’s very spiritual, I take it.”

“She’s amazingly like you, and it hurt me at first, then it
was comforting. I made her wear her hair over the tattoo at
first, but finally I accepted she was her father’s daughter, even
if her father was dead or millions of miles away.”

A tear sparkled in her eye, a restrained ache she’d buried
for so long bubbling to the surface. Her voice was clouded as
she murmured, “I missed you so much, Chakotay!”

Chakotay looked at Janeway, and he wrapped his arms around
her, murmuring, “It’s all right, I’m here now…” more confused
than ever.

************************************************************

Chakotay was relieved to find the Doctor unchanged in the
midst of this confusion. “Ah, Commander Chakotay, you’re back.”

“You’re not surprised to see me after all these… years?”
said Chakotay.

“Time means little to me other than just another stardate,
and it means even less without Kes.” sighed the Doctor, but he
immediately scrutinized Chakotay. “What seems to be the problem,
Commander?”

“I don’t remember anything…”

“How much do you remember, Commander?” he asked, scanning
his head.

“I don’t remember the past 13 or so years that supposedly
occurred before I was captured! Before that, I remember
everything in great detail.”

The Doctor snapped the tricorder shut, raising his eyebrow.
“Interesting. You have forgotten almost all of your experiences
on Voyager?”

“Yes… except for the first year or so…”

“Interesting. Do you remember being captured by the
Kazon?”

“Sort of… I remember being held hostage, but Captain
Janeway was about to beam me back, and I ended up back here.”

“Hmm… I am at a loss, but I do suggest bed rest right
now. Even if you were in perfect health, you need it.”

************************************************************

Chakotay lay on a sofa in his quarters, trying to piece the
events he’d missed – – or forgotten – – together. It was very
strange he only remembered up to his abduction – – and that
Janeway was only his Captain and friend the way he remembered it.
And now he found himself back on a very different Voyager, 27
years gone by he could not recall, with a wife and a grown
daughter, two friends dead, and a thousand and one minute changes
surrounding him.

He wondered how he could forget, even with amnesia, such a
long amount of time, and such landmarks in his life as marrying
and having a daughter! And with such a woman as Janeway!
Chakotay was still amazed that Janeway would ever forget Mark,
and that she would ever let herself fall in love with a
subordinate.

*I must be pretty good* smiled Chakotay, but he sobered as
he saw his face in the mirror. His face was too young and
healthy to have been over sixty. His brain clicked, and he
suddenly realized that it was not a strange case of amnesia – –
he had somehow fallen into a spatial rift like Harry – – but he
hadn’t been on a shuttlecraft.

He racked his brain to think of why and how, when Janeway
padded up beside him softly. He was concentrating very hard, and
he didn’t notice her presence until she laid a hand on his
shoulder. He looked up, a million questions about Kazon and
transporters throbbing in his brain, but when he looked at the
love and longing in her beautiful blue eyes, he hadn’t the heart
to ask any of them.

He smiled at her, and she swept her arms around his
shoulders. He found himself amazed at the youthful resiliency in
her form and face. Her face was unlined, save for small lines
that he – – or the Chakotay that had existed in this thread of
time – – had caused. Her hair was thick and dark, save for a few
strands of silver. She didn’t look 60-odd anymore than he did,
but her eternal loveliness was a gift from God, not due to rifts
or anomalies.

He smoothed her soft hair and face, drawing her face to
his. Her lips caressed his softly, taking his breath away in the
sweetness of the moment. He had dreamed of this moment in the
deep recesses of his mind for so long, but he had never in his
wildest imaginings thought it could be so perfect. She pulled
away, her lips covering his cheek with a million light kisses as
she did so.

She sat down very close to him, her arms still around him.
“It’s so wonderful to have you back.”

Chakotay sighed deeply, his breath rustling wisps of her
hair about. “There’s something I have to tell you about.”

Janeway sidled nearer. “What about, Chakotay?”

“When I transported onto this ship, it was from a Kazon
ship, but not from the Kazon ship on your port bow.”

“What?”

“Well, that’s the thing. It’s not the same ship that
abducted your husband. It was a Kazon ship in another point of
time that brought me here by mistake.”

“What do you mean?”

Chakotay looked away from Janeway’s penetrating gaze. “I
am Commander Chakotay from 27 years in your past. I am as yet
unmarried, and we have only been in the Delta Quadrant for a
year. Kes – – the Ocampa – – is two years old, and Tom Paris and
Neelix are as close to friends as they can be. There must have
been some sort of mix up, and I ended up here.”

“You must be so insulted…”

“INSULTED?!?” gasped Chakotay. “I have been dreaming of it
since I met you!”

Janeway smiled happily. “Then why don’t you stay here
Chakotay?”

************************************************************

Chakotay stared at Janeway. “I can’t do that, Captain.”

“I’m Kathryn in this time thread, Chakotay, and yes you
can. You have a wonderful life here… ”

“…which I didn’t get to experience half of.”

“But you may not be able to experience any of in your time
stream, Chakotay! Who knows if she will ever love you there!”

“You do.”

“But this a totally different point in time, Chakotay! It
is governed by different events that may or may not occur in your
time stream.”

“I…” But Chakotay’s objections were cut off by Kehs’s
entrance.

“Father, Mother.” she said, smiling.

She hugged Janeway, and fell to the floor before them,
looking up at the two of them through the silky fans of her
lashes. “Father,” she said, laying her head on his knee. He
looked at Janeway, and she shook her head violently.

He put a tentative hand on her head, stroking the dark
waves of her hair, the thick curls brushing away to reveal the
glowing ivory of her cheek and forehead, where the tattoo reached
from scalp to eyebrow. He traced the design, a sense of pride
swelling inside him for this daughter who was his in only a
remote sense of the word – – and who might not ever exist in his
real place in time. She lifted her head, and as she hugged him,
he wondered what his Kathryn Janeway was doing right now with
this Janeway’s husband.

************************************************************

In a time thread 27 years before the one the Commander had
found himself in, Kathryn Janeway was preparing to receive her
First Officer back from the Kazon ship off their bow. The blue
thread of the transporter beam expanded into the muscular form of
Commander Chakotay. But as the features came into focus, Janeway
noticed he had aged – – his graying hair and lines on his
chiseled face implied he was at least a very youthful 55.

He turned to Janeway, his eyes pure fire. He stepped
quickly from the platform, eyes on Janeway. “Kathryn!” he
exclaimed, catching her up in his arms and kissing her. Tuvok
and Harry could only stare as Janeway just slipped her arms down,
too amazed to struggle.

Finally, he pulled away, and Janeway stared at Chakotay.
“What…?”

Chakotay grinned at her. “That wasn’t the welcome I was
expecting from my wife, Kathryn.”

Janeway looked back at Harry and Tuvok, who shrugged their
shoulders and arched their eyebrows respectively. She turned
back to Chakotay. “What have they done to you, Commander?” she
said.

“They tortured me the first few years, but finally they
realized I wasn’t going to give in, and so I’m here.”

“Years?!? You were only gone for a day, and it was a
peaceful meeting, or as peaceful as it can be with Kazons!” She
stared at his gray hair. “You’ve… aged, Commander… how??”

“This is what 14 years does to us, Kathryn.”

“This is very strange… ”

“I think it’s rather strange you don’t remember your own
husband, Kathryn.”

“Stop calling me that! I’m Captain Janeway, and I’m not
married to anyone, especially not Commander Chakotay, whoever you
are!”

Chakotay looked pained. “This is very odd… Captain.”

*That’s an understatement* thought Janeway as she led him
out of the Transporter Room.

************************************************************

Back in the alternate time thread, Chakotay was reviewing
all “he” had missed with his “wife” and “daughter,” who lay on
the floor looking up in awe of him. He was in awe of the whole
situation, but even as he reveled in the love and warmth of this
reality, he realized that he had missed too much for him to be
any use here – – the older Chakotay that had fallen in love and
had a daughter here belonged here – – even if he never had a
chance with Janeway in his reality, it was where he belonged.

He looked around, wondering – – hoping – – if this would
ever happen in his time thread… whether there would ever be a
beautiful daughter like Kehs, or if he would ever have a wife
like this Kathryn Janeway. He vowed then that if – – when – – he
got back to his proper place, he would tell Janeway how much he
loved her. His reverie was interrupted by Kehs’s sweet mellow
voice. “Father, I’ve missed you so!”

He smiled benevolently at the eager young face he might
never see on his Voyager. “I’ve missed you too, Kehs.”

************************************************************

Back on his reality, Janeway was desperately trying to
figure out what had happened to her First Officer. “Can you
explain what happened, Commander?”

“Of course… Captain.” began the older Chakotay. “You
see, I was married to Kathryn Janeway and I had a lovely little
daughter named Kehs. We were very happy until I was captured by
Kazon when Kehs was five. I was dragged around the quadrant for
14 years until they finally were captured by Voyager. I was
about to beam to Voyager when I found myself here – – which is
what I thought was Voyager.” He blushed, and added, “By the way,
I am sorry for my actions when I first saw you. I miss my wife
terribly.”

Janeway smiled. “It’s quite all right. I miss my First
Officer. I suppose it must be some sort of mix-up in realities,
and Commander Chakotay must be in your reality.”

“If he’s anything like the Chakotay I am, he won’t want to
leave.” grinned Chakotay.

“He’ll come back.” said Janeway resolutely, wondering if
her alternate reality Janeway had that much of a hold on
Chakotay. She knew that his alternate reality did.

************************************************************

Chakotay worked feverishly with Harry on the transporter,
trying to figure out how to get him back home. Harry tapped out
a few figures on the console, saying, “The way I see it, if we
beam you to your Voyager at the same time as your Voyager
transports this reality’s Chakotay here, then we might be able to
swap the two of you. But we have no coordinates or time frame to
work from.”

“So we need to find some coordinates, Harry!” said
Chakotay.

“OK, OK, but this may take awhile. I can hypothetically
create a long range scanner on a frequency high enough to find
and contact your reality.”

“I don’t do ‘hypothetical,” Harry – – I want that scanner
soon.”

“Yes sir.”

“What are you talking about, Father?” said Kehs, slipping
into the room.

Chakotay looked at Harry, and said quickly, “Just some
transporter adjustments, dear.”

“Oh… I’ll go…”

“No… it’s all right, I’m done now. Why don’t we have
lunch together?”

Kehs smiled happily. “Sure, I have an hour or so until my
shift.”

************************************************************

The alternate Chakotay was also eating Neelix’s pithy
cuisine with Janeway in her quarters, relating his courtship of
her alter ego. Janeway barely ate as she sat in awe of this
thrilling personage she thought she knew so well – – but then
again, this was a person who’s life was ruled by events that may
not have occurred in her reality. The thought that the Chakotay
she knew might be a totally different man put a lump in her
throat.

“She – – you – – was so beautiful, when I first saw her I
fell in love with her. She was staring at me with the grimmest
stare I’ve ever seen on her face. I think I’ve loved her ever
since. But it wasn’t until 3 years later she found out – – I was
helping her contact her spirit guide, and I put a hand on her
shoulder. She opened her eyes, and I just had to kiss her. We
were married for 7 years before the accident. I miss her so
much!” he said passionately, clutching Janeway’s hand. They
stared into each other’s eyes, and he stroked her cheek, pulling
it to his. Janeway was so surprised and thrilled she could only
wrap her arms around him. Suddenly, Chakotay moaned, pulling
away from her.

“My head… it’s like it’s going to explode!!” he yelled.
His eyes went wide, and he saw a young woman with dark hair and a
pale tattooed face in his mind’s eye. Janeway hunched over him,
afraid.

************************************************************

Kehs hugged her “father,” and he brought a hand up to his
forehead. “My head… ” he said, seeing his Captain’s face
looking concernedly. *I’ve got to get to sickbay!* he thought.

************************************************************

“And all of a sudden, I saw my daughter’s face.” said
Chakotay as the Doctor scanned him with a critical eye.

“I see. It would appear you had a mental connection for a
few seconds with your alter ego, so to speak. He probably saw
Janeway’s face, no doubt.” he said.

“That’s it!!” cried Harry. When the gathered senior
officers turned to stare at him, he replied, “You see, if we can
harness the connection when it’s great, we can send a message to
the alternate time stream and arrange a transport time.”

“Wonderful. Do it. Doctor, alert Mr. Kim when a
connection is made.” said Janeway, turning from Chakotay, daring
to hope that she would get her Chakotay back.

************************************************************

Meanwhile, back across the gulf of time, to an identical
sickbay 27 years in Voyager’s alternate future, Chakotay was
telling the Doctor of his vision. “It would appear that you made
contact with your alter ego, Commander.”

“Alter ego?? Father, what is he talking about??” cried
Kehs, hugging his arm.

“Nothing, Kehs, nothing.” he tried to calm his “daughter.”

************************************************************

“Captain, we’ve created the neural implant. It will
release a impulse with the message when the spatial – mental
connection is made. We can implant it anytime.”

“Are you sure it won’t have any side effects to either’s
brain?” said Janeway tentatively.

“We won’t know until after the connection is made.”

Janeway sighed, hoping her risk would get her First Officer
back. “Do it.”

************************************************************

Even as his Captain was risking his existences to get him
back, Chakotay was eating with his “daughter,” wondering of the
wisdom of trying valiantly to get back to his Voyager as he
talked to this bright, articulate young woman.

His Janeway would never let anything, not even love, shadow
her duty to the ship and crew, and even if she did get involved
with… someone… she would never be a mother and still remain
captain – – it went against her principals.
But, he thought as he stared at “his” and Janeway’s
daughter, did he honestly know the woman who sat next to him day
after day for a year now? She was as far away from him as the
lowliest of ensigns. That was expected, even in the Delta
Quadrant. That was how it was. But even worse was that he had
been a Maquis – – and she would never understand how it was to
have to give up Starfleet to honor your parents and protect your
family. And so, throughout the entire meal, Kehs chattered
blithely on about a thousand different things, but Chakotay,
plagued by doubts, heard not a wit.

Kehs had begun to relate her 16th birthday when a sharp
stabbing and an echoing voice rushed through his head. The mess
hall went black, and Janeway’s voice and face filled his mind.
Her face was stony and her voice tight as she said, “Commander,
this is the Captain. We’ve recorded these instructions for you
to follow. They are being transmitted by the Chakotay here to
your brain. Have the transporter lock on to these coordinates at
0600 hours tomorrow morning…” Then Janeway’s resonant voice
proceeded to rattle off a stream of numbers and figures for him
to enter into the computer. Then her face half-turned from him,
a sigh filling his consciousness, and Janeway said in a
passionate half-whisper, “Get home, Chakotay. You have to.”

A click signaled the end of the message, and Janeway’s
worried visage melted to reveal the daughter-she- would-probably-
never-have’s face wearing an identical expression. “Father?
What happened??”

Chakotay shook his head, unable to think of anything but
getting the hell to the transporter room, yelling, “Chakotay to
Kim! Get down to the transporter room NOW!”

************************************************************

Janeway hurried to the sickbay when she heard that the
connection had been made, hoping for the best but fearing the
worst. She entered the room like a madwoman, rushing to the
alternate Chakotay’s bedside, barking, “How is he?” as she
clutched the end of the bed.

“He should be fine, but we won’t be able to assess for
permanent brain damage until he regains consciousness,” said the
Doctor blandly.

Janeway turned on the Doctor, boring holes into him. At
that moment, the good Doctor found out what fear was. Slowly,
levelly, her simple words knifing him, she said, “I don’t take
“should”s well, Doctor.”

“I’ll tell you as soon as he wakes,” said the Doctor
tentatively, backing behind Kes.

“He’d better wake soon – – there isn’t much time until
0600!” she said, gripping Chakotay’s hand until her knuckles
turned white. She had the fleeting thought that perhaps Chakotay
could feel her fear across the depths of time and space.

“If he doesn’t wake in time to transport, then you won’t be
able to send a neural impulse again – – he won’t survive.”

Janeway’s worried gaze fell on Chakotay’s impassive face, a
salt water tear trickling down her cheek and splashing on the
aged Chakotay’s tattoo, bringing its distinctive lines to a
starker clarity in her heart-wrenched soul.

************************************************************

Back in the alternate future, Chakotay was relating the
coordinates and figures with superhuman recall, inspired no doubt
by Janeway’s passion-rife plea for his return. Fueled by it and
pure adrenaline, he put Lieutenant Kim and his minions through
their paces as he resumed his feverish work on the transporter.
Chakotay glanced at the time, yelling, “It’s almost 0530!!
Hurry!”

“I’m hurrying as fast as I could!!” yelled Kim. At 0555,
Kim sighed. “Done!” he said, lifting his hands from the
console.

“Thank God!” he said, stepping onto the platform.

But at that fateful moment, Janeway rushed in. “You’re
leaving?!?” she gasped, clutching his hand.

“I have to – – I belong there.”

“Don’t!!”

“Just have faith… Kathryn,” he said, gazing into her
bleary blue eyes. She squeezed his hand, and he drew his free
hand to her face, wrapping her in a final embrace. He drew
away, and disappeared, leaving this strange possible future-
paradise for the place he now called home.

************************************************************

At 0530, 27 years beforehand, Janeway was dozing a short
distance from where the older Chakotay lay, now half-awake. His
gaze fell on Janeway’s form, and for a split second he thought
he’d been transported back to his Voyager already. But then
Janeway awoke, her eyes not beaming with the affectionate warmth
his Kathryn did. He groaned, a searing pain coursing through his
head, waking Janeway, who gasped at the time. “We have to get
you to the transporter room immediately!” she cried, grabbing his
hand impatiently and half-dragging him to the transporter room.
When they reached the transporter room’s doorway, the older
Chakotay grabbed her arm, twirling her around so that she reeled
from the force of her own acceleration. Chakotay looked at her
hungrily, staring deeply at her. “Must I go?”

Janeway looked away. “You don’t belong here.”

“But what if…”

“There are too many “what if”s in this life to do anything
but send you back to where he belongs.”

Chakotay nodded. “I suppose you’re right. You’re not
really my Kathryn – – but I’m afraid of how long we’ve been
apart, how much I’ve missed…”

Janeway turned to look at him. “I’m sure she loves you and
misses you just as much as I miss my… first officer.”

Chakotay grinned, reminding her of her commander’s dusky
smile. He strode onto the platform, and turned to her again.
“Absence maketh the heart grow fonder, Captain.”

Janeway returned the older man’s smile as he disappeared in
a shimmering wisp of blue plasma.

************************************************************

Janeway’s smile faded after a few minutes of impatient
waiting. She clutched Harry’s sleeve as she stood next to him,
not even blinking as she watched the platform as if her whole
life lay upon it. *Maybe it does,* thought Janeway, her heart in
her throat. The blood pumped in her head, and she nearly sank
physically from the pure fear. Finally, she turned from the
transporter and walked toward the door, her heart heavy and the
salt water brimming in her eyes. In a froggy whisper, she
croaked, “Scan for…”

But her order was countermanded by a burst of white light
from the transporter. Janeway was thrown to the floor by the
blast, and Tuvok and Harry fell behind the console.

Janeway pushed the stray hair from her face, her bun
hanging loosely by a single pin. She blinked the dizziness from
her eyes, and saw Chakotay, HER Chakotay, bending over her with
grave concern in his face. “Chakotay!” she gasped, the tears
sparkling in her eyes radiating pure joy.

Chakotay grinned at her, the beaming from her eyes so like
the Janeway he had just left. He put his arm around her waist as
if to help her up, but neither made a move to regain their
equilibrium. “Yes… Kathryn,” he said, deliriously happy as he
saw the pleasure in her eyes.

She pushed herself up a little higher with one arm, and
wrapped her free arm around his shoulders, as he drew his head
towards hers. They kissed softly, even more sweet than their
alter realities had led them to imagine.

Janeway pulled away, nodding towards the console where
Tuvok and Harry lay just behind. Chakotay grinned and helped her
up, just as Tuvok and Harry staggered up from behind the console.
They shared a enigmatic smile, and they left the room as Tuvok
began to spurt technobabble. Tuvok closed his mouth, and ignored
Harry’s repressed smirk.

************************************************************

Meanwhile, another, older Janeway clenched a 27-years-older
console as a similar thread of blue revealed a gray-haired man
with a prominent tattoo. Tears sparkled in the unfaded blue
eyes, and a long lingering, ageless kiss was exchanged, unheeding
of Lt. Kim and Commander Tuvok. God was in his heaven, and all
was right with every world.

************************************************************

The two commanding officers walked down the strangely empty
hall towards the turbolift. As they stepped inside, Janeway
murmured resolutely, “Captain’s Quarters.”

She turned to Chakotay, who remained mute, a shadow of a
smile playing on his lips and glimmering in his eyes. Janeway
was relived to see it again. In a low voice he said, “When would
you like my report on this?”

Janeway smiled mysteriously at Chakotay. “How about right
now… in my quarters?”

Chakotay grinned as he heard the words he had put not-so-
subtly in her full red mouth. “You’re the captain.”

************************************************************

Janeway strode into her quarters, remembering how his older
counterpart had been in here only a few hours before. “Coffee,
black.”

Chakotay turned to Janeway as she sat down on the couch
beside her. “Well, I suppose you know about the alternate
reality already.”

“Some of it.”

“The…”

“Daughter, etc.” Janeway said, then sobered. In a small
voice she said, “What did you think?”

“What?”

“Me… the two of us… married…” faltered Janeway
hesitatingly.

Chakotay blushed, smirking slightly. “You will never grow
old, Captain…”

Janeway knitted her brow. “Captain?”

“I’ve always called you Captain, Captain.” said Chakotay.

“What about just now in the transporter room?”

“I don’t know… it just seemed to be the right thing to
do… it felt right.” said Chakotay. “Why?”

Janeway stared into her cup with a whimsical little smile.
“Oh, I don’t know, it just felt right for you to say it.”

With this frank admission, Chakotay sidled closer to her,
carefully enveloping her hands in his as he extricated her cup
from her clenched fingers. He moved his hands from hers only
long enough to put the mug aside, and then to stroke the last few
pins from her hair gently, his fingers caressing her face, slowly
tilting her chin up to him. Janeway had briefly experienced his
embrace and those of his alter-ego, but it was nothing compared
to this – – his lips consuming hers passionately, his arms
enveloping her warmly.
He broke away from her mouth, smiling down at her half-
tilted body. He opened his mouth to speak, but Janeway pressed
her finger to silence him, looking gravely at him. She could
feel his mouth frown from beneath it, and his eyes cloud with
confusion as she shook her head blankly. “Not here, not yet,
Chakotay.” she murmured. Her hand moved from his lips to his
chest, making a mild attempt to put distance between them. She
could feel his heart pounding under her palm, as fast or faster
than the thundering of her own.

Janeway stared at Chakotay’s features for the longest time,
unable to discern the emotion on his face – – it was almost
devoid of any. The dawning realization of the impact of her
words made her blush furiously. She opened her mouth to
apologize, but it was Chakotay’s turn to silence her. “I
understand completely… Captain.” he said slowly, “It was just
the… moment, I suppose.”

Janeway smiled wryly at Chakotay. “It’s not that I don’t –
– appreciate – – the affection, Chakotay… it’s just a bit fast
– – I realize you just came back from an alternate reality where
everything had been settled long before you got there, but here
we’ve still got alot of things to discuss… especially since
falling in love doesn’t just affect us…” Goaded by Chakotay’s
sudden grin at “falling in love,” she added, her lips curving
into a velvety half-smile as she did so, “But the first thing I’d
like to tell you is, you can call me Kathryn.”

Chakotay grinned again, fired up by her frank admission,
stroked her hair again, sending a heady aroma from her cascading
curls, but he reigned in his every instinct, assisting Janeway
aright again. He held onto her arm, whispering calmly, “You
know, we have all the time in the world – – or rather, 75 years –
– to work through this… and I’m very patient, Kathryn.”

She blushed, smoothing her hair back behind her ears into
some semblance of order. As she pulled a last veiling lock from
in front of her eyes, she noticed Chakotay’s intense gaze, its
penetrating look silently worshipping her every move and glance.
Crimsoning hotly, she nevertheless turned slightly towards him
again.

The embarrassed and almost shy look flitting across her
lips, for the first time, combined with the disarray of her hair,
the flush of her cheeks and the challenge in her brilliant eyes
so enchanted him it was impossible for him to do anything but
sweep his hands around her throat, burying his fingers in her
warm hair, and kiss her again, as old equals and new lovers.
Janeway felt a surge of jubilance and victory, her entire body
responding to the kiss. She relished it for a few minutes, and
suddenly pulled away, smiling, “I have bridge duty now.”

As they separated outside of her quarters, Chakotay watched
her disappear down the corridor, then glanced back at the clock
in her quarters. “It’s 10 minutes until the shift change!” he
thought, puzzled.

At the same time, Janeway was smiling to herself. “Always
leave them wanting more,” she laughed, ever fully the captain.

************************************************************

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