His Father's Son.

Rated PG13.

The Q meddle in Kathryn's future.

A big thank you to Shayenne who did a wonderful beta job. Any remaining mistakes are mine.

 

Disclaimer: All Voyager characters are the property of Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended.
 

 

 

The spectacular beauty of the nebula, combined with the unimaginable freedom to dip and somersault through its colourful plumage was awe inspiring. Information filtered unobstructed into her brain bombarding her with answers to questions she'd never thought to ask before. Kathryn's scientific mind was almost orgasmic and her confidence in her growing ability that cocooned her in the omnipotence of the Q, grew stronger.


Then a of singular beauty overwhelmed her. Awakening the remnants of her humanity. A thought slowly began to blossom: that the price she was paying for the exquisite freedom that she was experiencing was too dear. The echo of her former life mugged her and dragged her away from the thrall of being Q.

The extreme coldness of space was unable to penetrate into her being, which floated, free from any confinements. Yet, this immunity to withstand physical coldness did not extend its power to heat her soul.


Kathryn fought to regain her humanity. The fight to dominate activated a spiral of unease that uncoiled in her inner essence. The knowledge that she was now alone fed her struggle. Snapping her fingers, she disappeared.

The Q collectively watched and sighed. The female Q stormed away from her fellow beings, mentally slamming the door behind her. Q laughed out loud. Gaining pleasure from his mate's fall from grace. After all she'd been the one responsible for bringing Admiral Janeway into the fold.

Q easily located the runaway and began studying his Kathy. He felt a surge of admiration for her tenacity.

Usually the overwhelming power given to a new recruit into the Continuum corrupted the recipient, easily quashing their personalities traits. Yet, this stubborn female withstood a total transition. Seven times in the last two years, she'd rebelled just before she became totally immersed in her own burgeoning power.

Something, or someone, held her fast to Earth.

Q cursed that blue planet.

Yet he also shared a bond with its people. They fascinated him. They were just so unpredictable. In the last million years, they'd managed to surprise Q twice!
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Chakotay had been staring out into space for so long that his surroundings had retreated into the darkness of night. Finally he stood up and entered his bedroom. Without bothering to bathe or undress he absentmindedly flung himself down onto his unmade bed.

His large hand swiped away a solitary tear that threatened to seep from his eye. It was two years ago today that Kathryn died.

He tried not to wallow in grief. Yet, every day was a constant battle. Chakotay managed to keep his sorrow under control and demonstrate to his friends that he'd moved on.

Hell, he'd even deceived himself last week.

Turning over, Chakotay grabbed a pillow. And thumped it so hard that several feathers escaped through the busted seams.

Staring into the greyness of his bedroom, his thoughts tumbled over themselves. Images he'd rather forget pushed away pictures that were usually embedded in his mind. Kathryn's face was fading.

Reaching over towards his bedside table his fingers touched a picture frame. Chakotay asked for lights. Pushing himself up to rest on his elbows and forearms, he cradled Kathryn's image in his hands.

The previous week he'd been persuaded to take a visiting relative of Tom's out to dinner. He'd liked Sara's company and was tempted by her invitation to meet again. Yet, the thought of beginning a new relationship swathed him in guilt.

Kathryn smiled up at him. Her reflection burned into his mind.

Chakotay stared at Kathryn picture intently, and gasped. Shaking his head he berated himself. The image before him was just an optical illusion. Looking back down he was relived, yet saddened to see, that the slight wry smile he'd thought he'd seen play across her face had vanished. It had, for a moment, appeared that she was playfully chastising him. Reminding him not to judge himself too harshly, that he was human, with needs

Chakotay watched as water splashed against the picture then slowly ran down Kathryn's image. He became aware it was his tears. All the grief he'd subjugated over the last two years broke through his defences releasing a deluge of salty liquid. Turning over he rested the picture on his chest. Cradling it protectively he whispered her name. The melancholy desire of his longing caressed every syllable.

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Earth was beneath her. Its oceans peeked out between the clusters of clouds that drifted across vast regions of the planet. It was an exquisite sight. Its beauty held Kathryn spellbound. And those moments spent in adoration were her undoing.

Invisible chains held her fast in seconds. This now familiar pattern angered Kathryn and her indignation at being curtailed from reaching Earth yet again gave her powers an extra dimension. The chains were unleashed so fast that the momentum propelled her through space. Clicking her thumb across her fingers, Kathryn was transported to land somewhat ungracefully in the gardens of Star Fleet headquarters.


Kathryn quickly looked around to make sure that her arrival had gone unnoticed. Only then did she become aware of a growing general discomfort in her butt. A pleasing aroma was her first clue. Then, as she glanced around, an infusion of colour swamped her senses. Lifting her hands up she came face to face with the pain inducing elements. One palm was host to a cluster of rose thorns. Her derriere, not to be outdone, throbbed.

With a dramatic flash of light announcing his arrival, Q appeared before her clutching a pair of tweezers.


Grabbing her thorn-free hand he pulled her up. "Kathy, Kathy, Kathy!"

"Q! hold it right there. You come any nearer to me with those tweezers and I will not be responsible for any damage that befalls you."

Q nodded his head and took a step back. "Kathy, your distrust pains me."

With a slight wave of his hand the thorns located in various parts of Kathryn's body vanished.

Kathryn glared at Q.

He raised his eyebrows and waited.

She brushed the remaining dirt from her uniform. Then reluctantly said, "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Why you persist in wearing your Star Fleet uniform, is beyond me."

Kathryn ceremoniously pulled her cuffs down, lifted her chin up and said, "It keeps me connected to an important part of myself."

Q smirked. "So, what if I made your uniform disappear? You'd not only be a feast to look at, but, you'd find it easier to settle within the Continuum."

Kathryn rolled her eyes. Raising her hand she pinched the bridge of her nose.

As Q patiently watched her, his thoughts wandered. She was his favourite human. And since she'd been recruited into the Continuum she was his favourite Q.


He started to daydream. Q was proud of his son, although he'd never tell him so. After much trial and error, Junior had turned out well. Yet, he felt his family was incomplete. His and Kathy's child would be exceptional. And the sex would be great. "Don't even go there, Q!" Kathryn's voice echoed through Q's mind.

Q sauntered over to stand near her. "This mind reading. It works both ways."

Q stood waiting for the implications that his statement would evoke.

Kathryn said, "You left your mind open for me to read."

Kathryn was puzzled. She'd learned to share her everyday thoughts. But, she was under the illusion that personal and private recollections were off limits.

"Sometimes, Kathy, you leave the backdoor to your thoughts open."

Observing her face attentively he waited for the telltale signs that would indicate that she'd cottoned on. He did not have to wait too long.

Q was so wrapped up in his smug sense of self righteousness that Kathryn's hand connected with his face and had fallen back to her side before the stinging on his cheek registered.

Q was the on brink of initiating a novel form of retaliation. But looked into her eyes he experienced an emotion so alien to his nature that for a second he was dazed.

The blueness of her eyes reflected her deep anguish and despair.

He'd peered furtively into her recollections and in doing so, tainted a past experience that she treasured.

Kathryn could never again recall the memories that had sustained her these last two years without fearing that the collective Q would eavesdrop on her reminiscing.

Q felt uneasy for the first time in his existence. It took him a while to realise that the emotion he was experiencing was shame.

A word that seldom passed his lips trailed after Kathryn, but she'd transported without hearing his apology.


Q remained where he was. His mate appeared by his side. It was on the tip of her tongue to rebuke him. But instead she said, "I've also made a mistake. The Admiral is not Q material."

They both vanished.

And their son walked towards the rose bed. Bending down he picked up a fallen rose. Its petals were wilting, yet its scent still filled the air. He inhaled deeply. These were Aunt Kathy's favourite flowers. Blowing gently he breathed life back into the flattened roses.
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Kathryn's anger was fuelled by a surge of power which transported her through space. This time she landed with style. Somewhere in the journey she'd fully embraced her Q potential, and was now experiencing a degree of intensity so profound that mentally and physically she felt a potency that made every atom of her being thrum. Slowly the ripples of acceptance found her centre. And calmed. She'd taken the final step into a different existence.

All in the Continuum sensed that their number had increased. The human female had finally permitted the connection. She was Q!

Kathryn's body dissolved and it atoms scattered to visit every nook and cranny of her host planet. Lifeforms, plants and the terrain underwent intense scrutiny. Information was soaked up. Heavy laden with data, her atoms scurried back to rejoin together and recreate her human body. A form she would always use.

The relationship between Kathryn and the planet intensified.

With a wave of her hand the lush thicket before her creaked and slivered away, retreating to reveal an abode she'd never forgotten. The door slid aside and she entered. She felt strange. A feeling of spiralling into herself consumed her. Her surroundings were the same, but different.

Images, sounds and emotions of her time on New Earth became so real. She relived moments so vividly that she experienced again the pain of saying goodbye to Voyager. The raging storm that carried her through the forest with its raindrops pelting against her skin. Then a moment of warmth, contentment and love as a hand reached out to entwine with hers. Only to once again feel that future snatched from her as Voyager returned. The mixture of pain and happiness that event provoked had been so emotionally confusing for her then. Its power was still strong enough to evict her back to the present.

Kathryn suddenly realized that she'd not been reminiscing. She'd actually been experiencing each moment again. The knowledge that she could go back in time was a power she needed to gain control of. Misuse would bring chaos. She was already fighting the temptation to go back, not just to New Earth. So many paths she'd wrongly chosen were now begging her to return and right a wrong. A moment in time screamed at her, the icy memory of her father's and Justin's death had the power to ignite a grief that even after all these decades still simmered within her. And the fear that she might not be able to control this new power scared her. Making her cling tightly to Star Fleet regulations. Protocol, once again became her mantra.


Retuning to Earth was her ultimate aim. As Q, she could go anywhere. Yet she understood the Q's reluctance in allowing her to return to Earth. To go there in her novice state would be akin to giving a cadet free reign with a state-of-the-art star ship.


Kathryn needed time to adjust to her new powers. A safe haven to experiment. She needed to find a new inner balance.

Her hand reached out and her fingers caressed the frame of an unfinished sand painting. New Earth welcomed her home.

=======================================================

Chakotay scanned the bridge and found the captain's chair empty. Shifting his eyes slightly they alighted on the person he'd been summoned to see.

Tom swung around and faced his visitor. "Have you settled into your quarters, Chakotay?" Tom asked as he gestured to the pilot to take over the helm.

Chakotay replied, "Yes, Captain."

Tom walked towards the ready room. And as the door slid open he exaggeratedly bowed and twirled his hand in a light hearted call for his guest to enter.

Chakotay smiled. The last time he'd been in the ready room. Kathryn had been the Captain. Bracing himself, he entered.

Her ghost occupied the room.

Tom saw Chakotay's eyes linger on his desk where a single rose cradled in a slender vase took pride of place.

Awkwardly, Tom's fingers shifted the vase only to return it back to its previous position.

A silence filled with memories joined them in the room.

Eventually, Tom spoke, "Sometimes I think even Voyager misses her."

Chakotay walked towards Tom and patted his shoulder. He realized that his own grief had made him selfish. The pools of moisture that filled Tom eyes spoke volumes.

Tom made some lame joke and the moment passed. The two men discussed Chakotay joining the crew of Voyager on a return trip to the Delta Quadrant. Only this time his duties would be as an adviser. Voyager had been fitted with the latest slip steam technology. Tom admitted he sometimes wished he was still the pilot although, as the Captain he could take the helm whenever he fancied.

Afterward they joined B'Elanna and Miral in the Captain's quarters. There for the first time since Kathryn's death, Chakotay was honest about his emotions. It was a draining discussion. Yet, it was the first step towards the reconstruction of his soul.

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The assorted group of figures finished their debate. An error in judgment needed to be undone. Q volunteered to invalidate Kathryn's powers. His mate was adamant that she should do the deed. A squabble of major proportions broke out. Their son, who'd been quiet the entire meeting stepped forward and said, "I'll do it."

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Chakotay had been aboard Voyager nearly six months and had finally managed to adjust to life aboard. Not being included in the day to day running of the ship and being unaware of every close encounter, he found himself with a lot of free time.

Miral had managed to conscript him into teaching. One day a week he gave art lessons. The small group of parents who'd brought their children aboard were now proud owners of sand paintings. And without realizing it, he'd become the ship's counsellor. His collection of artefacts from the different worlds they'd visited, half filled a cargo bay.

Yet, lately he'd became unsettled.

There was one fear that made him cower before it. The dread of insanity. He'd never mastered that old enemy. Chakotay was aware that his insanity gene had been altered before his birth, yet, he'd never shaken off the idea that it could re-present itself.

Flashing images of his grandfather, confused and disorientated, mingled with pictures of himself fighting strange aliens in the holodeck.


Entering his quarter, he slumped down into his chair. As tired as he was he fought sleep, yet, also craved it.

A feeling of powerlessness swamped him. He'd not felt this helpless since childhood when he'd first witnessed his grandfather's delusional behaviour, and been ashamed of his own reactions which had been an emotional withdrawal from a man he'd adored. But the old man's irrational behaviour had embarrassed the younger Chakotay. The complete lack of control exhibited by his grandfather germinated the seeds of his grandson's fear.

Chakotay stood up. Bathed and entered his bedroom where he knew that his reality was waiting to deteriorate into his worse nightmare. But it was a madness that he'd began to desire more intensely each night.

Flopping down on his bed he waited for the bouncing to subside. When the bed stilled he closed his eyes and wished that his fears could be as easily mollified.


The aroma of New Earth was always the first indication that he'd returned. The heavy smell of soil combined with the scent of tomatoes grew stronger. As always,

Kathryn would be lying on the ground, her hands covered in earth. Every visit started the same way. She'd look over her shoulder at him, and smile. Chakotay would start to walk towards her. But before he could touch her she'd disappear. And he'd spend the rest of his night alone, wandering around New Earth.Yet he couldn't shift the idea that she was somehow still there. Occasionally he'd snatch a hint of her scent. And turning around quickly, he'd catch a shadow melting away.

Yet, tonight Kathryn stood waiting for him. And instead of the floral dress she always wore, she'd donned a crisp new Star Fleet uniform.

Chakotay instantly became alert. And for the first time he managed to speak to her before she vanished.

He'd spent much of his time alone on New Earth fantasizing about what he'd wished he could say to her. Not once did he imagine that he would be granted that wish. Or that his first utterance would be said in anger.

"Kathryn, the last time I saw you on New Earth wearing that uniform we were ready to beam up to Voyager. Where on your return you wore that uniform like a suit of armour. It restrained your emotions. And the pips in your collar were poised like red hot pokers primed to act against the few occasions you reached out to grasp a fuller existence."

Kathryn walked close to him yet, wouldn't look up at him.

"Chakotay." Closing her eyes she whispered his name again, "Chakotay."

Her hand rested on his chest. Using the remnants of her powers that Q Junior would sever completely after this meeting Kathryn made a contact that connected not only their bodies. Information flowed between them. Chakotay became aware that he'd actually been visiting New Earth. None of this was a figment of his deranged mind. He was actually visiting Kathryn! His anger rose. All this time wasted. She'd brought him home, and rewarded him with a smile.

Each new fact which hit him fed his confusion. She was Q. She was alive.

There were so many questions he needed answers too. Why did she let him grieve? Why hadn't she told the truth before now about the nightly reunions?

Kathryn tried to give him the answers.

But Chakotay had stopped listening. He grabbed her shoulders and pushed her away from him.

Kathryn defiantly raised her head. Her arm shook slightly as it reach out to reconnect with him. Holding his glare she said, "I have shared as much time with you as I can. Any longer and I could not trust myself to adhere to my own rule. Its ironic, my powers are disminishing just as I've managed to refine them enough to bring you to New Earth each night. and just glimpse you for a moment. The temptation to talk to you, to touch you was so overwhelming.


"Dame you, Kathryn! That's just a fancy way of saying that protocol had to be upheld. Whose protocol is it anyway? Star Fleet's? No, you are way beyond them. If I remember rightly Q didn't let rules get in his way when he wanted to mate with you."

Her hand rested over his heart. And she felt its tempo increase with every barb he sent her way.

Closing his eyes he stepped away from her. Her hand fell to slap against her side.

Kathryn spoke, "I've been banished from the Continuum."

Getting no response from Chakotay. Kathryn tried to make light of the situation."I'm just not what they're looking for. Still too human!"

Chakotay laughed. Stepping forward he grasped her chin. His fingers dug into her flesh, holding her fast. He tilted her face up. Then he hissed, "Kathryn, that's the last thing that I'd ever accuse you of." A part of him wanted to pull her close and embrace her but his rage was stoked by a uncontrollable agony which had its own momentum. His mental anguish was so intense that it dragged words out of him with only one aim: to hurt!

"Why did you bring me here to tell me this truth and say goodbye yet again? Do you always have to have the last word, Kathryn? Wouldn't it had been kinder to have allowed me to think this was all just a delusion?"


Q Junior appeared. "I brought you here."

"Then you can send me back." Chakotay walked away. With his back to them he repeated, "Just send me back!"

As he waited for their reaction, Chakotay looked down at his feet. A wave of remorse washed over him. He bent and picked the only rose left standing. He'd trampled all over a small rose bed. Now ready to listen, he started to turn around. Just as his surroundings started to fade.

Chakotay found himself standing in his quarters.

He studied the rose in his hand. Its thorns stung. He watched as blood trickled down his fingers: evidence that backed up his experience. He wasn't insane. The universe might be, but he'd never been so clear of thought before.

Kathryn was alive! It didn't matter how.

And he'd walked away from her.

Chakotay squeezed the rose stem harder, but the thorns were too weak. Nothing could inflict enough pain to mask the despair that he was feeling. It was all most unbearable. He'd left her alone.

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Q Junior knelt down and blew gently on the squashed roses. They sprang back to life.


"Aunt Kathy, I've studied Earth's customs. These roses are supposed to be an expression of love. Why do you two keep destroying them?"

Kathryn watched the roses dancing in the breeze. Clenching her jaw she tilted it upwards and stared at the sky. She dared the tears to fall, sniffing back the unshed tears that were rash enough to try and defy her and escape through her nostrils. Kathryn bent down and began tending to the roses.

Q Junior said, "Aunt Kathy, I can take you home."

"I am home!"

"You're Q but without the powers. I know how that feels, it happened to me while I was in your care aboard Voyager. If I leave you here you'll be stranded but I can get you home in a click of my fingers. Your banishment is without mercy. There will be no second chance.Your clock of life has been reset-- there will be no eternity."

Kathryn replied nonchalantly, "I'd always thought that certain members of the Continuum thought rules were made to be broken."

Q Junior smiled then whispered conspiratorially, "Aunt Kathy, I am my father's son."

She nodded and said, "I'll call out for you if I ever change my mind."

Kathryn delicately selected a rose. Standing up, she faced Q Junior. "Mind the thorns."

She lifted his hand up and placed the rose in his palm, then gently closed his fingers around the stem.

Q Junior kissed her cheek. "Bye, Aunt Kathy."

Q Junior disappeared in a flash. Only to instantly return and say, "Oops. You'll need some form of contact."

A metal object started to appear on the top of her right hand. It shifted and moved, then melded into her skin. Only then did its shape became apparent. A small, perfect metal rosebud sparkled in the sunlight.

"Call me when you need me!" Q Junior vanished.

Deep in thought, Kathryn turned and began walking back to the shelter.

She'd asked and expected Q Junior to break the rules. Yet she'd clung to protocol. And in doing so had once again hurt Chakotay. As the door swished closed behind her, Kathryn knew that she'd have many a long night to debate her actions. And face the truth that Chakotay had danced around. Her insistence on clinging to protocol was an defensive action. Only now, she wasn't sure if protocol was her security blanket or jailer.

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Q Junior watched the scene play out before him. Everyone on the bridge of Voyager was unaware of his observations. They fought valiantly to defend their ship.

Systems were failing. Tom was piloting the ship, her pilot wounded early on in the battle. The Doctor was inundated with casualties.

In engineering, B'Elanna was just about maintaining control.

Chakotay sat in the Commander's chair. Its previous occupant had died in the first wave of the attack.

The ship shook violently, and was almost spun over by the intensity of the attack.

Chakotay was ejected from his seat. He was stunned, but managed to drag himself back towards the chairs. He pulled himself up, yet, this time he sat in the Captain's chair.

His hands gripped the arm rests and he felt a closeness to Kathryn, both in moments of relaxation, and times of conflict. He recalled how she would punch the arm rests, then stab the air with her index finger to reinforce her point of view. And how sometimes that same finger would fall to hit his chest.

Blood trickled down his forehead, slowly blurring his vision. He wiped it away. For the next hour Voyager's crew battled for survival. Chakotay glanced at Tom, and thought how proud Kathryn would be of him. He was a good Captain.

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Kathryn was talking to the monkey. Some days she held in-depth conversations with him. There were times when she'd almost been positive that he understood her. There was a spark of intelligence in her friend's eyes.


The metal rose on her hand started to glimmer. Then voices she'd only dreamed of, were suddenly crystal clear. And in the background of the transmission, she could hear the hum of Voyager.

The monkey scampered away through the trees..

Kathryn touched the metal rose. And it unfurled. In its centre images started to become visible. Pictures that pierced her heart.

Q Junior appeared by her side, and waited for her instructions.

Her eyes were a steely blue. And Kathryn demanded in a voice that bode no thought of being ignored, "Take me to them."

Q Junior finally saw why she was his father's favourite human.

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Kathryn instantly found herself on Voyager's bridge. The devastation was appalling.

She touched the less than pristine bridge wall and whispered, "Hello, old friend."

There was no welcome back from the crew. Everyone on the bridge was unconscious. Or dead.

She immediately sat in the Commander's chair.

Tom stirred and lifted his head up. With all his will power he managed to turn around. He blinked, hardly able to believe his own eyes.

"Is that really you?"

Kathryn nodded.

Tom was covered in blood and dirt. With most of the ship's systems off line, he reached over and his fingers played across the console. The ship reacted to his reassuring touch.

A muffled voice filled the bridge as B'Elanna informed Tom that she'd regained control. But the warp core was damaged and it would be several days before they regained full power.

Tom replied, "I'll inform the Captain."

B'Elanna sounded baffled as she answered, "Tom, you're the Captain."

Tom turned around again just in time to see Kathryn reach out to touch Chakotay.

"No B'Elanna. I was just the caretaker. There is only one Captain of Voyager!"

There was no reply from his wife. Tom didn't expect any. He knew that at this very moment she was on her way to the bridge.

Kathryn's fingers travelled down Chakotay's arm and touched the clammy skin of his hand. Immediately as if summoned by her thoughts the Doctor materialized on the bridge.

Before he could utter a word. Kathryn pointed out that several crew members were seriously injured. She saw the questions in the Doctor's eyes and mouthed, "Later."

B'Elanna entered the bridge like a bat out of hell. Then stood motionless staring at Kathryn. Her emotions were all over the place-- Kathryn was back. She wanted to hug her friend.

Yet, she also had to fight the impulse to pick Kathryn up twirl her around three time, before throwing her against the side of Voyager. She wanted to understand why Kathryn hadn't informed them that she was alive, But she also realised that now was not the time.

Kathryn held her arms out and beckoned B'Elanna over. The two women embraced.

The Doctor's voice pulled them apart. "Transport Chakotay to sick bay immediately."

As B'Elanna looked down at Chakotay motionless body her fingers dug deeply into Kathryn's arm. Then they both watched the Doctor and Chakotay dissapear in the blue haze of transportation.

.
Tom, although in need of medical attention himself locked the transporter coordinates and transported his injured crew members to sick bay. Then turned his attention towards the two woman. Just as the tingling sensation of the transporter started they both turned in unison to face him. Even as their two bodies started to vanished Tom could still make out the ashen pallor of their skin. And the worry reflected in their eyes.

After making contact with each department, Tom called a replacement pilot to the bridge.When the security officer returned from sick bay Tom handed the bridge over to him.

Tom took the turbolift rather than transport. He needed to take a moment, he'd lost so many members of his crew today.

Standing just before the catchment area to open the sick bay door, Tom composed himself. Taking a deep breath he entered.

Confidently he walked up to the group of people and said, "Report!" Three pairs of eyes turned to face him. No words were needed. The countenance of their faces said it all.

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Kathryn and a small group of people stood around Chakotay's grave. New Earth would be his resting place. He'd been happy there. Gradually people moved away until only Kathryn remained. Carefully she dug a hole and planeted a rose bush.

Then she sat leaning against a nearby tree. She spent the rest of the day talking to Chakotay, trying to explain her actions. Although hearing her reasons out loud even she found several sounded weak. Yet, she hoped that Chakotay had understood.

Tom and B'Elanna informed her of the many converstations they'd shared with Chakotay. How he'd regretted many of the things he'd said to her in their last meeting. Only now did they realise exactly what he'd meant.

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On entering the bridge she sat down in the Captain's chair. A poignant silence filled the air.

The memory of her previous return from New Earth triggered Kathryn to look to her side. But there was just a empty seat.

Then a newer memory: of Chakotay accusing her of hiding behind her uniform urged her to look within herself. And he was right, already she was retreating. Glancing around the bridge she saw Tom: his posture was tense. Several original members of the crew who'd served with them both in the Delta Quadrant were looking morosely at their control panels.

Lastly her eyes alighted on B'Elanna, who looked steely eyed back at her. Her Klingon persona was adamant it would deal with the honourable death of her friend. Then just for a second, Kathryn witnessed a momentarily lapse in her stance and in that second saw a pain and sorrow that was equal to her own.

Leaving the authority of the Captain's chair. Kathryn walked across the bridge. Reaching out, she gathered B'Elanna into her arms. The younger woman did not reciprocate, she stood rigidly in the Captain's embrace. But Kathryn held her fast. Just when Kathryn thought that her actions were not welcomed, she felt a shudder shimmer through the younger woman who then cried silently into Kathryn's shoulder. That she made no noise only emphasized the depth of B'Elanna grief.

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Kathryn, tired after an eventful day, waved her guests goodbye. Then bathed and made herself ready for bed. She felt off centre, and oddly out of step with time. It was as if she were waiting for something to happen. Turning to lie on her side, her eyes fell on a picture. Smiling she said, "Goodnight."

Kathryn woke just as the sun was rising. Her body felt heavy as if a weight were holding her in place. The old chair that she'd salvaged from Voyager when it had been decommissioned held her steadfastly in its grasp. The air was still, and a quietness clung to the room. Eventually she stood up and made her way towards the kitchen.

Just before she left the room completely she stopped in her tracks. She could have sworn that she'd gone to bed last night.

Shaking her head in bemusement she entered the kitchen.

Everything seemed a little unfocused this morning. Plodding over to the replicator she asked for her favourite blend of coffee.

Kathryn reached out to claspe her coffee cup and noticed that the skin on the back of her hand was different. It was smooth, making the Q implanted rosebud appear brighter.


She caught sight of her reflection in the window pane, and the image staring back at her filled her with bewilderment. Unable to believe her eyes. Kathryn hurried into the bathroom, where the mirror confirmed her earlier finding. She stood staring at her reflection and was completely dumbfounded.

Eventually Kathryn touched her face. She'd never considered herself a conceited person but nevertheless she became enchanted by her mirror image. Then the logical part of her mind kicked in. The overnight alterations to her face and body were impossible. Fine lines replaced the previously entrenched wrinkles that had been etched into her face. Her hair no longer white gleamed its titan hues cascading around her face, reflecting its warmth onto her cheeks. Her blue eyes sparkled with the light of youth. She was in her prime. Someone was playing games. One name instantly came to mind. Q. She called out to him, but no one answered.

Deep in thought she entered her bedroom and looked casually across the room. And what she saw there stopped her in her tracks!

Her fear was silent. There was no urgent thumping against her eardrums. And her heart was still in her chest. Her mind reacted to the situation yet her body was dormant. And completely oblivious to her mind's flight signals Kathryn remained rooted to the spot..

Kathryn, ever the scientist, eventually moved and studied the body before her. Reaching out, her hand felt for a pulse. There was none. She was dead!

 

She bent down and opened the drawer on her bedside cabinet and picked up a medical tricorder. Expertly she scanned the body curious to find out her cause of death. It only took a moment for the tricorder to give her an answer. For a second the reply stunned her, then she recalled something that Q Junior had told her on New Earth. That her clock of life had been reset. Over the course of her turbulent life she'd occasionally imagined how she'd die but she'd never envisioned this ending. Yet the flashing on the tricorder begged to differ, insistently it diagnosed natural causes.


Carefully avoiding herself, she sank down to sit on the bed.

After awhile her fear ebbed to be replaced with utter amazement. Everything seemed sublime. She'd never completely accepted that there was life after death. Now she had the ultimate proof. As her shock marginally subsided Kathryn recalled the myths she heard about the afterlife.

There were no bright lights and no one was waiting to meet her. Yet, she was filled with a sense of expectation.

After awhile she stood up and turned to look down at her body. Kathryn began to experience an odd feeling. The room started to fade away, then reassert itself. It was happening so fast that it reminded her of the flickering images in the old movies that Tom used to show aboard Voyager. Then without warning the room disappeared. There was nothing. Only a void.

Then chinks of light fluttered abstractedly around Kathryn and the pitch black background only emphasized the light's brilliance. She perceived a power steering her forward. Yet, there were no markers to plot her course. The lights started to brush against her. Their tentative touched made her skin tingle.

At any other time their touch would of been pleasurable. But her heightened senses crossed the line into pain. Kathryn's sensation of physical discomfort grew and the probing taps began sending small electrical impulses throughout her body which caused her excruciating agony. Just before she slipped into unconsciousness a thought grew, if she'd died, why was she feeling pain!?

===========================================================


Kathryn had been conscious for awhile but aware that she was being studied, kept her eyes close.

Clenching her jaw tightly, she mentally cursed desperately trying to banish the humour of the situation. Tom instantly came to mind. He'd have appreciated her trail of thoughts. Here she was dead. Playing dead!

She'd become ready to act. There was only so long she could play possum!

Then, something suspiciously akin to a hand touched her. It felt human and a warmth flowed through her.

"Kathryn, I know that you're awake!"

Her whole body tensed. At first the thumping consumed her thoughts until the background noise of life became as familiar as it had always been. And the drumming against her eardrums grew comforting.

Her mind struggled to understand the possibilities that hearing that voice opened. Every muscle in her body went taunt. Kathryn made a strenuous effort to remain calm.

Keeping her eyes closed, she asked, "Is that you?"

No one replied. Yet, she sensed someone draw nearer.

Then a voice said, "Open your eyes Kathryn."

"Are you a figment of my imagination?"

"I've never known you to be frightened to face your fears, Kathryn."

"I've never been dead before, Chakotay. If I open my eyes you may vanish!"

"I'll never leave you, Kathryn."

She'd experienced so much in her lifetime. But nothing so outrageously impossible as this. Here she was. Dead. Talking to a man who'd been dead for decades. And from somewhere deep inside she made a flippant reply to his statement of love.

"Sure, until another blond comes along!"

Chakotay's deep laughter filled the room. Kathryn was shocked at her statement and even more amazed at Chakotay's reaction to it.

Pushing herself up by her elbows, she opened her eyes and said, "What's so damned funny?"

As soon as they made eye contact a jolt of joy struck her dumb. She couldn't really believe he was there, and from Chakotay's expression he felt the same way. So, an action older than words expressed their love. They pulled each other into an embrace. As she inhaled his scent, their heartbeats joined in unison.

Eventually Kathryn became rational enough to talk. Chakotay listened in thrall to all the news about his old friends, smiling when she informed him that Tom and B'Elanna had named their son after him.


Kathryn slowly became aware that Chakotay was staring at her lips. He could clearly hear her voice but was no longer processing the meaning of her words. She softened her voice to a whisper then stopped talking altogether. As she waited for him to register her silence, Kathryn studied his face reinforcing the imprint of his features into her memory. She'd forgotten how much she liked the kink that stopped his nose from being perfect. Her hand reached up and her finger trailed down his nose to carress the slight bend.

She watched Chakotay respond to her touch. He looked up puzzled. Raising his eyebrows, he said, "I was. . ."

"I know." Kathryn stood up and slowly began to undress.

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Chakotay rolled over to face Kathryn pulling her towards him. Her body was so languid it flowed effortlessly over him like water.

Kathryn's voice drifted through the fog of his exhaustion. It took a moment for him to process her words. Then he said, "No, we are not dead, Kathryn."

She mumbled, "Good," against his chest, then managed to push herself up and face him. "Then how did we end up alive here on New Earth?"

"An old friend of yours is responsible, Kathryn."

"Q ?"

"No. Right family. Wrong Q."

"Q's partner?"

"One more wrong guess, and you will have to pay a forfeit."

"Really. Forfeits can be good. Do you think that you can be imaginative?"

"Kathryn Janeway!"

Their first attempt at lovemaking had failed to match either of their fantasies. It had been a rushed coupling, over almost before it had begun.

Chakotay had begun to apologize profusely only to be silenced by Kathryn with a searing kiss.

Afterward they'd held each other. Both were starved of intimacy. The freedom to touch and hold each other fed a different need, one just as strong as a sexual need. The feel of each caress quenched a deep instinctual urge. Skin against skin pushed the demons of loneliness away. So, as they'd snuggled together, the tenderness of their embrace lit the embers of passion. They'd gone on to make love again, and this overshadowed many of their fantasies.

Chakotay dragged himself from his reminiscing and jokingly said, "Well, I'm sure that I'll get the hang of it eventually, Kathryn."

Her laughter, which took him by surprise, warmed his heart. Last night she'd permitted him to pass the walls that protected her soul. To see her without pretence and the view made him love her even more. The mystery of their resurrection receded from their thoughts as they made love.

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Kathryn tried to gently shake him awake but Chakotay was in a deep sleep.

Carefully she pulled his eyelids up and asked, "You in there? We need to talk."

Kathryn released his eyelids. Chakotay blinked several times then focused on the mad woman hovering above him and asked, "What?"

"It was Q Junior who brought us here."

Chakotay had seen her this motivated before and realized that he'd get no peace until she knew the truth. He yawned then stretched. His body arched, almost sending Kathryn on an away mission. He pushed himself up and nestled his head against the pillows. She shimmied up and rested against him. Her fingers tapped impatiently on his chest.

He managed to get two words out before she interrupted him.

Craning her neck she looked up at him and said, "Clones. We're clones?"

"Yes."

Chakotay nearly laughed out loud at her amazed expression.

As Kathryn sat up her hair tumbled around her face. She had no idea how beautiful she looked. Once again she asked, "Clones?"

Chakotay looked up at Kathryn who blew the wayward strands of hair off her face then indignantly said, "Well, I'm waiting."

Her impatient mood could only mean one thing. He rolled over to the other side of the bed, stood up and walked over to the replicator.

Kathryn gathered together several pillows. Perched against the softness of her nest of pillows she watched Chakotay walk back towards her. The aroma hit her senses first. Chakotay crouched down and held the cup to her lips. After several sips she began to feel human.

"We're clones. Yet we retain the memories of our previous life?"

"Yes, Kathryn."

Chakotay sat down beside her and watched Kathryn's mixed reaction to the news flicker across her face. He let her process the information.

"As far as I can tell all my memories appear intact. I'm a clone with total recall. It's unsettling, yet fascinating."

Kathryn's mind went into overdrive. She threw her head back, and sighed. "Oh damn. Time travel always gave me a headache. Cheating death leaves me with no mind left to think with." She was animated. "Cloning is possible on Earth. But not with the technology to transfer the complexity of thought, emotions and dreams of the individual."

"We're Q clones. Q Junior has gone to a lot of trouble to accelerate the cloning process and make us exact replicas. I think he has a crush on you."

Kathryn flipped him with the back of her hand. The metal rose seared his skin. Flinching, he looked down at his chest. The pain dissipated and Chakotay watched as the rawness of his skin faded to expose a delicate outline of a rosebud.

Kathryn leant forward and brushed her lips against the imprint. "It's beautiful."

Chakotay grinned and said, "Yes, it is."

"What's so funny?"

"You won't see many angry warriors branded with a rosebud."

Reaching up she kissed him. As she pulled away she whispered, "We've been given a second chance, Chakotay."

"Yes, we have." Chakotay held his hand up. Kathryn's fingers slowly interlocked with his.

"That's a beautiful rose on your hand. Where did it come from?"

"A parting gift from Q Junior. My own intergalactic intercom. I'm to buzz him when I need anything."

"I wonder why it branded me?"

"I can only surmise that Junior wanted us both to have a rose that we could not destroy."

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Leaning across the patio table Chakotay picked up her hand. And his index finger trailed around the edge of the rose.

Kathryn looked at him inquisitively, and asked, "What?"

"When we've seen all we need to on this planet maybe you could buzz Q Junior."

"Why?"

"New Earth, is special to us both. At first we'll enjoy its peace and tranquillity. Its a haven where we can finally be together. Yet, after awhile we would start to look upward at the stars."

Kathryn squeezed his hand.


Chakotay brushed his lips across her fingertips. He look deep into her eyes and softly said, "Kathryn, Q Junior was there when I awoke and informed me that we'd only live for seven years."

Kathryn looked stunned. Chakotay gently led her around the table to sit on his lap.

They held each other in silence for nearly an hour before Kathryn spoke,
"One day, I'll contact Q Junior. And you know what, Chakotay."

"What?"

"I'll haggle us the best little space ship going."

"I know you will, Kathryn."

"I don't intend to over think the reasons behind this second chance." She leant into kiss him and whispered, "It's our time."

Eventually they pulled apart, stood up and begain walking towards the river. Kathryn asked, "Tell me what else did Q Junior said?"

"He said that he regretted being unable to convince the Q to approve our cloning. And that he'd broken all the rules to help us."

Kathryn recalled her last conversation with Q Junior and a knowing look filtered across her face.

Running on ahead she called out, "He is his father's son. Enough talk of the future. Let's go and start building the boat we talked about on our first visit to New Earth."

Stopping suddenly she said, "No, cancel that. Surely we should build a new bathtub first."

The monkey heard the two humans laughing. Scratching its head it bounded through the trees. Then it jumped down and landed beside the humans' shelter. As his arm reached out it began to undergo a transformation. And the hand that touched the rose belonged to a completely different identity. Fingers snapped the rosebud off its stem.

After lifting the rosebud up to sniff its scent, Q then placed it in his lapel. Kathy was happy again.

.
Q Junior appeared by his side.

Slapping his son's back, Q said, "Well done. You are indeed your father's son!"

"Thank you, father."