Disclaimer: All Voyager characters are the property of Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended
"Six years I’ve been waiting for him to give me a sign, and he picks someone else," Kathryn Janeway grumbled to herself. She looked back and forth between her first officer and the reclaimed Borg standing at tactical, the Admiral’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.
Should I take this development as a sign he’s ready for a relationship or as a warning that I’m too late? Kathryn mulled over the possibilities for a short time before deciding that a cup of coffee would help her concentration. She stood up and announced, "Mr. Chakotay, you have the bridge. I’ll be in my ready room."
She retreated to her ready room where she picked up her favorite coffee cup, only to hear an odd rattle. Looking into her cup, she was startled to find a program chip lying in the bottom.
What is this, and how did it end up in my coffee cup? Kathryn wondered. Well, there’s only one way to find out. After the initial shock had worn off, she took the chip to her desktop terminal.
Inserting the chip into the access port revealed an image of one of Voyager’s VIP rooms, where the familiar computer voice called out ‘Access Protocol Admiral-1E4B971327 in place. Begin at your leisure.’ Upon the conclusion of the announcement, Kathryn was surprised to see her future self walk onto the screen and seat herself behind the desk, push a lock of white hair behind her ear, and begin to speak.
"Hello Kathryn. If you’re seeing this then I’ve succeeded in bringing Voyager home. But now I have another mission for you," the image on the screen said, a wicked smile on her face.
"First off: I lied. There never was an actual marriage of any kind between Chakotay and Seven.
"But on to the story. Three months ago from your prospective, Seven created a series of holodeck programs to explore romantic relationships. For whatever reason she chose to create a holographic duplicate of Chakotay. It was the program, as I’ll call it from here on, that caused her to collapse at that time. Our Doctor made a grave error… he kept knowledge of the program secret." The admiral’s expression became much darker.
"Instead of deleting her program, she continued to run it until she requested a removal of the emotional dampener that she has, another secret the Doctor kept from the crew. While the removal causes complications, she will appear to pull through without farther incident.
"Appearances can be deceiving however. The removal of her fail-safe caused her to progressively draw deeper into her program for the next two and a half years, until the point she actually believed her program was real.
"Seven had progressed in her holo-relationship until she and her holo-Chakotay actually married. I should have known things were amiss when Seven began wearing a wedding ring. But I didn’t realize this until that fateful day I actually spoke up.
"Chakotay and I had beamed down to a planet to negotiate for supplies. We had begun to discuss the possibilities of starting a relationship and we were unsurprisingly, making a romantic gesture.
"Unfortunately, Seven chose that moment to demand a ‘date’ with her ‘husband’ and come upon us in the middle of your first kiss. Seven roughly pulled us apart and demanded to know why I was kissing her husband.
"Chakotay and I had been suspicious of some of Seven’s behavior but this was a major surprise in both areas; we struggled to come up with an answer. Before we could do so, Seven wrapped her hands around my neck and screamed "NO ONE TAKES MY HUSBAND!’ Chakotay leaped to my defense, pulling Seven away from me. Unfortunately he pulled her off me at the same moment I pushed her away from me. This caused both Chakotay and Seven to fall and she hit her head on a sharp rock.
"Chakotay immediately called for a beam out to Sickbay for the three of us. He and I were only bruised – me more seriously so from the near strangulation – but Seven was unconscious and dying. I have said that Seven died that day. In fact the Doctor had performed his usual miracles, so her body was cured but her spirit was another matter indeed.
"After hearing our account of what happened, the doctor said that this was more than just a head injury. She also had a full-blown case of holodiction and that there was no one on board that had any sort of counselor’s training on the subject of holodiction. After getting Seven out of immediate danger, he called an emergency meeting to discuss Seven’s condition.
"He told us of the holoprogram and his failed attempts to get Seven to delete it. Every time he thought he had enough evidence to report the program, Seven would move and encrypt it to make it impossible to be found. Not wanting to seem paranoid, he refrained from reporting until he was able to gather enough evidence to report her. You should have heard Chakotay’s response about being left out of the loop once again. After we got him calmed down we brainstormed ideas on how to deal with our Borg.
"After much discussion it was determined that he only way we could help Seven was to reinstall her emotional dampener at the highest setting and to block all memories of her fictitious relationship with Chakotay as the attack proved her delusion a threat to shipboard security. A mind-meld might had helped her but Tuvok’s neurological disorder made it unsafe for him to meld with anyone else."
Kathryn winced at that last statement. She knew her old friend was ill but to have his disease progress so quickly…?
"The procedure was, on the surface, a success – Seven recovered her health quickly," her counterpart continued, "but we quickly learned that much of what had made Seven who she was had been lost forever. Oh she continued to perform her duties in her usual efficient manner, but lacked her creativity, her ingenuity, and most importantly, her humanity. She never again attempted to explore her humanity. It was as if she had been replaced by machine intelligence. So what I said to you about Seven’s dying was true ‘from a certain point of view.’ However her body died only a few months ago from my perspective.
"Sadly Seven was not the only crewmember who was affected by her breakdown. Chakotay and I, having been caught in the act, by a jealous Seven, could not continue our relationship for fear of another attack in case her memories resurfaced. We lobbied here for the Doctor to outright erase her memories, not simply block them, but were overruled by the Doctor. We slowly drifted apart, until his death shortly after our arrival home. For the past ten years, I’ve been working on a plan to get us back.
"I have included a holoprogram of a Christmas dinner for the two of us at this restaurant I found, for you and Chakotay. Take this opportunity, Kathryn. It’s more than just a holoprogram though. It also contains routines that should disable or quarantine Seven’s program so that it will no longer be useable. Hopefully my twenty-six years of studying her program will allow me to beat it.
"With the program disabled, you should be able to reach Seven in time to keep her from becoming completely delusional.
"One thing, to keep in mind. Seven will likely demand the removal of her fail-safe shortly, like she did in my time. In order to ensure the best results for the removal, it must be deactivated in increments. Also, I recommend the removal operation be performed by Doctor Beverly P…" she paused for a moment, "Crusher. She has more expertise in removing Borg implants than any other doctor in Starfleet. Under her guidance, you should be able to avert the damage caused by the Doctor’s imperfect removal. There needs to be more than one doctor and more surgical personnel present."
A beep interrupted the Admiral’s discussion, "I don’t have much time left, so I’ll remind you – make this a better future for you, for Chakotay, and for Seven. Don’t let Seven continue with that program and don’t let Seven take Kathryn from Chakotay. I promised him over his gravestone I would bring Kathryn back – Do it! Janeway out."
Kathryn stared at the now-blank monitor, hardly believing what she had heard. She had only half believed that marriage story the Admiral had cooked up, and now it seemed to her that she was never meant to believe it. In fact, she suspected that she wasn’t really the person who was meant to hear it. If, indeed, there never was any romantic relationship between Chakotay and Seven…
Her musing over the situation was interrupted by a beep from her combadge.
"Chakotay to Janeway"
"How are you holding up, Kathryn."
Gladdened to hear her name rather than her title, Kathryn replied, "Ok."
"Listen Kathryn, I’m wanting to cash in that rain check I ask for earlier. Could you meet me in the mess hall?"
"Actually, I’ve got a new holodeck program I want to try. Could you meet me on the holodeck level in thirty minutes?"
"The replicator sounds better than Chell’s cooking. Meet you there. Chakotay out."
After taking the time to change into her ivory pantsuit and apply a little more makeup, Kathryn arrived at a vacant Holodeck 1 and inserted the admiral’s chip.
Program Janeway Christmas 94A, activated, droned the computer voice. A minute later, Program File X199 has disabled all holodeck files and programs with Seven-of-Nine alpha three.
"Programs under Seven-of-Nine alpha three?" Kathryn turned her head to face the voice behind her. She noticed that Chakotay, too, had changed into civilian clothes and held a small package in his hand.
"I’ll explain as soon as we set inside. My future self lent us this holoprogram. Shouldn’t we see what’s behind these doors?"
Chakotay nodded his assent to Kathryn’s question.
They went through the doors to find another yet unfamiliar restaurant decorated for the Christmas season. A nondescript waiter led them to a table already set with plates of garlic pasta caliente, steamed asparagus, herbed new potatoes and finally spicy corn salad. Two glasses of champagne sat alongside the food. The couple took their seats and began to eat.
Kathryn had taken only a few bites before feeling obligated to respond to Chakotay’s earlier question. "Chakotay, about what you heard the computer say earlier." She took a deep breath before continuing, "Apparently Seven has been using the holodeck to engage in relationships with a holographic representation of you. In the Admiral’s timeline, her program got more than a little out of hand according to a recorded message she left me. She started this program – these programs – a few months ago."
"Why wasn’t I informed of these programs?" Chakotay’s quiet voice belied his anger.
Relieved that Chakotay didn’t pressure for more details, Kathryn answered, "From what she said only the Doctor knew of this program and felt it best to keep its existence a secret from the crew, even us. It was supposed to have been deleted after her incidents with her fail-safe device, but it seems that was not the case.
"Where did Seven get the idea that I’d want a romantic relationship with her?" Chakotay erupted, "I’m not opposed to having a romantic relationship with someone…"
At that moment the program subtly changed into a more romantic setting with candles in the holly centerpiece and classic Christmas music in the background.
"it seems this program has a few routines the Admiral didn’t tell me about. It wasn’t a romantic dinner earlier…"
"Until my statement about not being opposed to a ship board romance. This evening is giving me more questions than answers."
Kathryn gulped, her bite of pasta hanging in her throat. It was now or never. "Chakotay, remember that time six years ago, when Kes nearly went through premature elogium?"
"Shortly prior to that, you had expressed reservations about having relationships on Voyager. Now while there are no regulations completely prohibiting or even discouraging intimate relationships between superiors and subordinates per se, there are regulations that require that all intimate relationships have the express consent of both parties involved. As your commanding officer, any explicitly romantic overture I might have made given the content of you reservations might be construed as violating consent."
Chakotay looked chest fallen. He had known that Kathryn had seemed reluctant to become involved with him, but the realization that he was to blame for her withdrawal was a little too much to bear. It took Chakotay a few more bites of dinner before he could speak again. "The times you wanted to define parameters…"
"Were attempts to ascertain your consent," Kathryn finished for Chakotay. "I love you, Chakotay, and have wanted to be with you for many years now. But as long as you withheld your consent, I could only wait."
"You have my consent now, you’ve always had it." Chakotay said a rough edge to his voice.
"Oh Chakotay," Kathryn reached across the table for Chakotay’s hand, "Have we both waited too long for each other to make a move?"
The combined look of sadness, hope and love shinning in Kathryn’s eyes broke thought Chakotay’s barriers. "No, I don’t think so. Not anymore. Kathryn, for many years now I have wanted to tell you, Kathryn, I love you, can we be together!"
"And if you had said that, I’d probably be the one in Sickbay instead of B’Elanna," retorted Kathryn. "I mean it when I said I was a child of the twenty-fourth century. I have no problem with starting a family on a starship. It’s a dangerous life, but life’s been dangerous for centuries."
"Kathryn…" Chakotay leaned across the table to be met by Kathryn, her lips ready for a kiss. He returned the favor, savoring their first kiss before a voice interrupted them.
"Is there anything I can get for you?" The waiter had returned to their table.
Kathryn was the first to answer. "We’re nearly finished here how about two slices of pecan pie with whipped cream?"
They ate the rest of their meal in silence, each confident in the other’s feelings.
Upon the conclusion of the meal, Kathryn spoke, "Chakotay…as good as this has been, I’m getting a little tired. Could you walk me back to my quarters?"
"I have something to give you first," Chakotay said, producing the box he had brought earlier. "Kathryn, I apologize for asking you to give me a rain check earlier but this was the reason I had to miss lunch. I was making you your Christmas present."
"But Chakotay…I haven’t got anything for you…" Kathryn appeared reluctant to accept the brightly wrapped box.
"You have already given me one of the greatest gifts, Kathryn. Open it."
Kathryn complied, opening the box to find an intricately carved wooden pendent in the shape of a small lizard.
"Chakotay, it’s..." Chakotay’s warning about offending her animal guide came to her.
"I had been wondering what to make for you when this image came to me," he volunteered. "Do you like it?"
"Do I like it? Let’s just say… it’s a sign we are meant to be together."
"Thank you. Now, what do you say I walk you back to your quarters?"
Kathryn extended her arm to Chakotay, and he took it. "I’d be delighted to."
The walk back to the captain’s quarters was fairly uneventful, save for a few looks from passing crewmembers. Upon arrival, Chakotay released Kathryn’s arm turned to her and said, ‘Merry Christmas, Kathryn."
"Merry Christmas, Chakotay," Kathryn replied. Impulsively she reached for Chakotay’s neck and pulled him to her for a searing passionate kiss. He responded with equal ardor, pulling her to him in a passionate embrace.
When the couple finally broke for air, Chakotay released her and turned back toward his quarters. Before Kathryn could enter her door code, Chakotay faced Kathryn once again, a wide grin placed on his handsome features. "Kathryn if you keep that up, you’ll end up like B’Elanna, only in Starfleet Medical."
"I’ll be looking forward to that," Kathryn retorted as she retired to her quarters for the night.
Author’s Postscript: No, Kathryn is not looking forward to labor per se, but rather to what it represents.