by VoyWriter

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It was an historic occasion, an event, certainly a cause for celebration – the entry
of this new world into the United Federation of Planets. Ten years in the making.
Mostly due to the efforts of one man – though he would claim with unassuming
grace that many worked to bring it forth. And he would be right – and not. The
success was from his doing, but he was helped.

Kathryn Janeway studied the official invitation that appeared now on her monitor
along with the press release Starfleet’s PR department had attached – pictures
there. A dark-eyed man, a bit more gray than she remembered in his hair, but the
same intensity in his expression, the same laughing challenge in his gaze, the
same brush of feathers tattooed upon his brow. Her fingers found pause against
the screen, tracing a memory, and she pressed them to her mouth and felt the
breath escape her lips.


Ambassador Chakotay now. From Newearth – the planet he had forged into a new
world for his beleaguered people – the people he had championed once again on
Voyager’s return some twelve years earlier. His people. Now his legacy. Living

Admiral Janeway.

She touched the newly pressed pip that gave her a new title and a new place
among the elite of Starfleet’s ranks. What price power? What price twelve more
years in space? And what gain?

Fourteen new worlds explored and opened. A war prevented. Another ended.
Accomplishments. There had been accomplishments, and those not insignificant.
She had forged her place in history – beyond Voyager’s ill-fated run – as a
diplomat and explorer. She had tested the limits of ship and crew – and Captain –
and not found that none were lacking. Not insignificant. Significant. But singular
in terms of human comfort. Her own comfort.

After Voyager had returned, there had been the inevitable unceasing, unrelenting
rounds of debriefings and reporting – six months worth. Disposition of the crew.
Acceptance of the field commissions – all of them – including a once brash young
helmsman upgraded to a full Lieutenant, and his counterpart at ops made
Lieutenant junior grade. And with that reinstatement for Tom Paris, an offer for
B’Elanna Torres-Paris to finish a few credentials and keep her rank and
commission, too. And she did. And all three stayed with Voyager. Stayed with
Janeway. Stayed with her.

Tuvok going home. Asking for extended leave and then setting up a Starfleet
training school on Vulcan for special services – security.

Neelix taking Kes to see the world named Earth and finding the jangling hustle of
Mars colony the place they would call home.

And then there was Chakotay. Traitor once. Now welcomed back with open arms.

They never had done it. Not in five years lost in space. Never become the lovers
many fated them to be. Never taken the relationship beyond friendship, and
maybe even a few steps back from that in the end. Distancing. Her distancing.

Janeway touched her fingers to the image on the screen once more. It is possible
to hurt someone simply by your indecision. She knew that now. Knew that she
had let pass by a lifetime of that smile, that quirky sense of humor, that passion
that he offered. Even at the end. One last chance.

Twelve years ago. She and Chakotay sat in the ready room of Voyager -in
between debriefings, near the end, but both still assigned to the ship – and so to
one another.

Janeway took a long pull on the real coffee in her mug and looked up at the man
across the desk. “I understand Starfleet has offered you your own ship. Flagship of
the border patrol.”

“Yes. I assume you had something to do with it.”

“I might have.” She inclined her head and shrugged. “And? What did you decide?”

“I declined, Kathryn. I need to go home, yes. But not as an outsider. However, I
am curious…”


“Your reasons.”

“For suggesting you for the job? I would think that would be obvious.”

“For not suggesting I stay on Voyager. I would have done it. I’d have kept this
uniform for you.”

She studied her coffee, and then met his level gaze. “None of the complications
we faced before are any different this time out.”

“It’s only as complicated as you chose to make it, Kathryn.”

“You made it quite clear you wanted a relationship.”

“Yes. I do. And you don’t?”

“I need some time to get my bearings. It’s been a long five years.”

“I see.”

“Tom Paris will be serving as XO.”

“He’ll make you a fine First Officer.”


“I’m not sure who you’re denying here, Kathryn – yourself or me – but either way it
seems we both come out with less.”

And he was right. At least for her. She had settled things with Mark. That was
over. Both of them had moved on, maybe even before she left on Voyager that
first time. So the only thing keeping her from some new relationship was herself –
her own hesitation, indecision, maybe even fear. Fear of loss. Loss of self and
self-control. Knowledge that this passion was bigger than the ship and crew and
space, and that it might engulf her and make her less instead of more.

She had looked across the desk at Chakotay, her eyes refreshing that mental
image of him she would carry for the next ten years and more. She finally spoke.
“So what will you do, then?”

“I’m going back to Dorvan. I want to see what I can do to help.”

“There is no Maquis anymore.”

“No. Not the same as we were before – but there are still things worth fighting
for.” He cut his gaze to match his pointed words.

Two days later they were all released and she and Chakotay parted. Now it was
twelve years later. She had not seen him since. Until now. This image now.

She had heard he went to Dorvan – and from there through the stable Paris
wormhole to the delta quadrant – and New Earth – Newearth. She knew of his
petition to claim that world – their world – for his people. And that it was granted.
And that he had married. Eventually. Some years later. That news from Tom,
delivered with soft hesitation. Eight years ago – about – on Voyager.

“I have news of Chakotay.” Janeway’s First Officer stood before her desk, padd in
hand, the results of the morning’s sensor sweep. A good officer. A good XO. A
good friend, too. But not who she expected to see when she looked up from her
desk each time or when she shifted in her chair upon the bridge. It was still
disorienting. At least a bit. That it was Tom and not Chakotay. Soft drawl instead
of stoic calm.

“I thought you might want to know that he got married. On Newearth. I guess that
she’s a doctor. B’Elanna heard from a friend.”

Her guard had slipped a little then, enough for her XO to see regret and sorrow,
jumbled with her honest pleasure at Chakotay’s happiness.

She was silent for a moment and then spoke. “Thank you, Tom. If…B’Elanna
should talk to this friend again…tell him… I wish him well.”

Tom raised a brow and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” And then he’d turned to leave, but
stopped a second near the door and looked back at her, alone and lonely at her
desk. His voice was soft and kind. “Captain, I’m sure he’d wish the same for you.”

“Admiral?” That same voice interrupted her and she looked up at now Captain
Paris, standing in the doorway.

He walked into the room. “I just came to say good-bye. We’re heading out
tomorrow. B’Elanna’s just seeing to the last of the refits.”

Janeway stood and walked around her desk, crossing to him and then resting one
slim hand upon his chest. “You take good care of my ship now, Mister.”

“I believe she’s my ship now, but I’ll do my best.” Tom teased her without one
missed beat. It was a new relationship. This newly minted Captain and his old
CO. But it was an old relationship as well. These old friends. Saved and savior –
both some of each.

Tom glanced about the comfortable room, noting a few mementos, but little else
to distinguish it from any other room, save the full length windows on one wall.
“So this is your new office.”

“When I’m here. Which doesn’t look to be too often. I’m off in a day or so myself.”

Tom crossed to the window and grinned appreciatively. Presidio Park shown like
an emerald against the blue waters of the bay. “Nice view. I walked through the
park on my way over. It’s a good day to be out.”

They talked a little more and he left – off to his new duties, his new life, his new
challenges. There was no one else she would have trusted with her ship, save one,
and him, she had sent away.

She looked out the window and suddenly felt cooped up, at odds with the office
and maybe even a bit at odds with the rank and the extra pip, too fresh not to pull
a bit at her collar and her mind. A walk might do her good.

The old park had been first turned over to the city in the late 1900’s. It was
refurbished then – at least some of the buildings – and the trails and roads and golf
course opened to the public for the first time ever.

She chose the old pathway that meandered near the water, just above a sandy
beach and bordering on a playground and large open field. She saw him then.
Knew him instantly even from a distance. He was in the field, chasing a small
child, dark-haired, maybe three or four, and he laughed and scooped the toddler
up and tossed him up and caught him in strong arms.

Two other boys appeared and tackled him and they rolled and laughed, oblivious
to anyone but themselves. Or so it seemed.

But he had noticed her. As the boys raced off he sat, hands resting on bent knees
and watched her, standing there on the path watching him. Then he rose and
dusted off his clothes – civilian clothes, colony clothes – tunic, pants, feet bare –
boots with a sweater stuck off to the side.

He walked to her. And she could not move. At first. Balance slipping and
regained. She smiled and then stepped forward.

“Kathryn?” A question, although there was no question, and a grin. Open. Honest.
Nothing hidden. A man self-possessed of himself and content.

“Hello, Ambassador.”

“I’m not sure I’m used to that, yet.” He chuckled and shook his head, rubbing one
ear in a habit that was so familiar she almost felt as if time had moved backwards
for that moment and put them both aboard the ship, side by side on the bridge.

“I heard about your promotion, Kathryn. Congratulations. I know you deserve it.”

“And you’re here for the ceremony. Congratulations yourself. It’s quite an honor.
You accomplished a great deal in a short time.”

“I had a lot of help.”

“Did you see Tom? He was in my office not so long ago.”

“Yes. We’re staying at their place.”

“Those are your boys?” She looked over his shoulder at the bunch who was
heading toward them now at warp speed.

Chakotay turned and his grinned broadened with unabashed delight. “Cashia,
Rafis, Mewan – that’s in order of size.” He corralled them in, arms around their
shoulders. “Boys, this is Admiral Janeway.”

The oldest, maybe 8, offered his hand politely. He had his father’s eyes, obsidian
with a glint of humor. “Dapa has your picture in his office.”

Janeway raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, taking the outstretched hand with a
smile. “I’m pleased to meet you…”


“Cashia.” She repeated the three syllables.

Chakotay tousled his son’s dark hair. “Cashia, take your brothers to find their
shoes, and grab my boots and sweater. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Still no shoes?” She remembered that about him. He hated shoes. He loved the
earth beneath his feet and had gone without them any time he could – on New
Earth. The old New Earth. Their New Earth.

Chakotay grinned as he watched his sons run off. “I wear them less now. Shoral
says I look like a farmer, not an ambassador.”

Shoral. His wife. Tom had mentioned the name. A couple of times. Was she tall
or short? Dark or light? Did she know the lines of his jaw? Had she traced the
outer edges of that tattoo with her mind? Had he told her anything – of them – but
then what was there to tell…

“Is your wife with you?” Pleasant conversation. And a need to know.

“No. She’s at home. We just…I have new daughter, Kathryn. Just before we left.”

“Congratulations. Quite a brood.” But not hers. With him. Never hers.

He tugged his ear again, grinning awkwardly, a bit embarrassed maybe. “This one
was a bit of a surprise. We thought that we were done.”

There was silence then. Uncomfortable. Odd that. They had never minded silence
in the past, filling it with their company. She spoke at last.

“Are you here long, then?”

“A while. I have some business after the ceremony. Are you coming?”

“I can’t. I’m sorry. I need to go off-world.”

“When are you leaving? Maybe we could have dinner.”

“There’s so much going on – I’m still trying to adjust to this new pip..” She
fingered the fourth pip and smiled.

He looked at her, silent a moment, and then he nodded. “Well…” Then he held out
his arms. “Say good-bye at least?”

Kathryn hesitated and then stepped into the embrace, awkward to both at first.
Certainly to her. He was more muscular than she remembered, harder, leaner than
before. But his arms still met the same places on her back, around her waist, near
her ribs, and his face still touched and breath still warmed.

“I’ve missed you.” He whispered the words into her hair. “Sure you can’t manage a
dinner with an old friend?”

She pressed her hands against his back, up and down his spine. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Apology. Beyond dinner. Beyond this meeting. Beyond the years they’d lost – that
she had sacrificed.

He gave her one last warming squeeze and then stepped back. “I’m sorry, too.”
Gently he touched her cheek. “Be happy, Kathryn.”

She watched his receding back as he headed to his waiting brood. When would
they meet again? Touch again? Have this chance to build a friendship once again
– rebuild – repair – take advantage of each other’s company, become a part of one
another’s lives?

He had padded a few meters away when she called out and stopped him.
“Ambassador – do your boys eat crab?”

He turned, chuckling, a grin upon his face. “These boys, Admiral? What don’t
they eat?”

“If you haven’t taken them to see the Pier yet… I have another day before I

Chakotay nodded and his smile reached out to warm her. “I’d like that very



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