Remembering the Future

 

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

 

A/U Admiral Janeway’s return doesn’t bring Kathryn and Chakotay to the home TPTB imagined.

 

Chakotay looked around the mess hall, surprised by the somber mood of the crew. When Tom Paris had suggested that they have a memorial service for Admiral Janeway, Chakotay was caught between wanting to laugh or cry. The older Janeway was so much like his Kathryn, yet so different.

His Kathryn? He shook his head, she wasn’t his, had never been his, no matter how many times he’d wished it or she’d hinted at it.

No, the admiral was defiantly proof that Kathryn would never be his and, besides, he was in a relationship with Seven now. She was the only woman he should be thinking of as his.

Closing his mind off to any other thoughts in that vane, he again tried to focus his thoughts solely on the admiral. She was a nice woman; with a razor sharp wit and a kind of glow in her eyes that made her seem younger than her years. He respected her and found her agreeable to work with. He searched himself further and found that he missed her presence on the bridge now that she was gone, but that was the extent of it. He’d really had no further contact with her outside of duty, as the fact that she was Kathryn had made him feel uncomfortable.

He sighed, he was going in circles. The truth was, the idea of a funeral for her had put him on edge and now that the event was indeed a reality, he wanted to leave. The only thing that stopped him was the fact that everyone else seemed so keen on the idea. Even Kathryn has quietly acquiesced to the gathering when Tom had asked for her permission, simply stating that if the crew felt it important to honor the admiral, then she would not protest. Chakotay guessed that, if he was honest, it was her approval that was making it hard to keep from being angry. Was she so caught up in her own bubble of Starfleet protocol that she couldn’t see how odd it was for someone to have a funeral for themself? Especially their older self. He felt anger rising at her righteousness and worked hard to quell it.

He glanced over at Seven of Nine, trying to find some inner peace and hoping that his beautiful girlfriend could provide it for him. She’d been so willing to pay attention to him, so open in acknowledging his growing attraction to her. Her somewhat clumsy attempts at romance were enough to make him feel that he at least he was involved with someone who was trying to show some part of herself other than the perfect Starfleet officer.

His glance at Seven, however, told him that he was not the only one feeling uncomfortable with the situation. Seven was clearly battling with her own demons regarding the admiral. Irritated, he wondered just how much power an old woman with so little to show for in her own time, had exerted in order to unsettle a woman who had formally been borg. Fuming, he reminded himself bitterly that it wasn’t wise to ever underestimate Kathryn Janeway, in any timeline.

For her own part, Seven was feeling the effects of the admiral’s visit and departure intensely. The admiral’s emotional outbursts had unnerved her and the fact that the woman had traveled back in time for inefficient reasons had confused her. The reasons that the admiral had given her in an attempt to convince her to give up her relationship with Chakotay and to lie to Captain Janeway were not ones that dealt with the ship but, rather, were tied to her own life and, she suspected, to the lives of Captain and Admiral Janeway. The reasons seemed illogical, far too emotional to be directives she should follow and, in the end, she hadn’t.

So why was it that she still had a nagging feeling that something was wrong? Feelings were new to her but she had sensed from Admiral Janeway that the woman was in pain and, after analysis, she discovered that she found this conclusion most relevant when considering the admiral’s statement that she would be hurting those who loved her if she did not comply with the admiral’s wishes. She had been tempted to ask the admiral who it was that the woman thought she loved, and this had led to the realization that the admiral was probably referring to herself and Chakotay. These thoughts had been unsettling as Seven realized that she did indeed love the captain in a fashion similar to the way most human offspring cared for their parents, but that she did not harbor this kind of feeling, nor truly romantic feelings, for the commander. Later into the admiral’s visit, these realizations, coupled with the way the captain and the admiral looked when they were around Chakotay, told Seven she was not the appropriate mate for the commander and that the captain was.

Standing here at the admiral’s funeral, she experienced yet another new feeling. Guilt. She determined that she did not find her presence to be appropriate at the gathering in light of these new understandings and she was going to leave when she caught Chakotay looking at her from across the room. His gaze kept her rooted to the spot, too ashamed to tell him what she has discovered. He was a perceptive man and if she left now, he would follow her and ask her if she was well. She did not desire to answer this question and so reasoned that staying at the funeral would be the most efficient way to avoid the issue.

Chakotay had had enough; the captain had given a very kind speech about how brave the admiral had been to sacrifice herself for the safety of the ship and the chance to get them home. The captain had stressed just how much she’d admired the woman’s ability to be brave in the face of the Borg and had rallied the crew with the reminder to always put their best foot forward and do what was right, no matter the cost. Chakotay had had it with her high-handed moralizing and, as soon as the empty casket had been jettisoned, he walked to her in order to make his excuses and leave before he said something he regretted. However, he was surprised to find that as he approached Kathryn, she smiled at him with watery eyes. He’d never seen her cry and while part of him wanted to take her in his arms and comfort her, another part of him was thoroughly disgusted that she was so self-centered as to only cry at her own funeral after years of crew deaths met with a professional stoicism that not even he could match.

Before he could stop himself, he said in a voice only she could hear, “The tears are a really nice touch but, of course, she was you. The only person Captain Janeway can’t stand to lose is herself.”

Without giving her a chance to respond, he strode to the doors and exited.

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The ride to the commander’s deck was too short and when Seven reached it, she was nowhere near ready to face him, but something within her convinced her that she had no choice. When lift doors opened, she barreled through them, running all the way to the commander’s door. Once there, she leaned heavily on the gray doors, trying desperately to get some control before she faced him. When she was satisfied that some of her Borg reserve had resurfaced, she smoothed her hair and uniform before ringing the chime. His relaxed “Come,” tore at her heart as she realized that by doing what she was about to, she might hurt him, but she knew that the hurt she would cause if she did not was far worse that any he would feel. She suspected that the commander loved the captain as much as the captain did him and she knew that arrangement would be far better for them all in the future.

Walking as calmly as she could through the doors, she caught only a brief glimpse of the commander’s dimpled smile before focusing on a point above his head. “Commander,” she stated, amazing herself at the coolness of her tone, “I wish to terminate our association.” She saw him open his mouth to speak but she continued to talk before he could respond. “I believe you would be better suited for a bond with the captain but, barring that, I still wish to end our relationship, it is not proper under the circumstances. Goodnight Commander.”

“What circumstances?” Chakotay shouted, completely bewildered by Seven’s actions, but it was too late, she was already gone.

Once outside the commander’s quarters, Seven leaned against the bulkhead, swallowing the lump in her throat that threaten to choke her. She had one more stop to make and this one would be even harder than the last. Quickly turning to the door outside the captain’s quarters, she rang the chime and hoped that the captain would answer it before she passed out from fear. Seconds later, she heard the “Come” spoken in a serious and resigned voice form the other side of the door. It took all of Seven’s strength to walk into the room where Captain Janeway sat reading a report.

“Seven, what can I do for you?” Janeway asked, clearly busy.

“I am sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to inform you that I am no longer in a relationship with the commander.”

Seven’s words caught Janeway off guard, and she looked quickly from the pad she was reading and into Seven’s tearful eyes.

“I just wanted you to know, goodnight, Captain.” Janeway opened her mouth to say something in response when Seven suddenly turned to face her once more and said in a whisper, “I’m sorry, Kathryn.”

Janeway tried to form an adequate response, but she didn’t know to say, she had her own demons to deal with regarding Chakotay’s words to her at the funeral, but for now she would focus on Seven. She did the only thing she could think of. Taking a deep breath, she opened her arms and waited. Seconds later, a shivering, whimpering, sobbing form was pressed up against her own and she was rubbing the young woman’s back. Overcome by grief of her own, Kathryn slowly felt tears slide down her face.

This is how Chakotay found them. As he watched them, he decided that his questions could wait. Quietly, he stepped beside them and gently wrapped his arms around their trembling forms, content just to keep them safe for now.

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Twenty minutes later, Kathryn had managed to coax Seven into lying down in her bed, the young borg clearly exhausted by whatever had prompted the emotional display. If she was honest, Kathryn was slightly confused. What had caused Seven to display such emotion? Perhaps it was her relationship with Chakotay, coupled with Admiral Janeway’s traumatic visit. She told herself that she would get to the bottom of the young woman’s distress as soon as they both had some sleep.

Kathryn was making up the couch when she realized that she had forgotten Chakotay’s presence completely, which was a rarity for her, because he seemed to constantly fill her thoughts to the point of distraction. She moved over to where he was standing by the replicator. She was clearly standing too close, because when he turned around, a tea in one hand and a coffee in the other, they bumped against each other, sparks flying and coffee sloshing.

How remarkably like them, she thought, her own temperament led her to sometimes be rash and explosive in her thinking while his calm presence usually stayed the course and brought it to a honorable end, even if she sometimes disagreed with his assessment. That is, until today, when she discovered how little he thought of her. He used to be the calm sea that enclosed her waves and she was profoundly grateful for his presence in her life, though she had wished wholeheartedly that he felt enough to assert a greater one.

Over the years her love for him had never waned, though they had disagreements and, at times, almost out and out shouting matches. She had always loved him with the fierceness that encompassed all of who she was and guided each of her movements everyday. And yet he knew nothing of the quiet strength he gave her. She had thought that he had remained the steadfast and loyal friend, held back by her own adherence to protocol, but he had shattered that all earlier that day.

His soft voice interrupted her thoughts. “Here you are, Captain, coffee black, the perfect balm for your soul,” Chakotay said, trying to make ammends for his words.

She then took a sip from her cup as she made her way to the couch, and he followed suit, sipping his tea as they went, giving them both time to collect their thoughts before speaking. He was hoping that Kathryn wasn’t so mad at him that she’d refuse to explain Seven’s behavior.

He was at a loss as to how to explain Seven’s behavior towards him. He had thought they had a good relationship, although he knew it wasn’t as fulfilling as the one he would have had with Kathryn. And, as long as Kathryn didn’t know, he could justify to himself that he was merely testing the waters. Besides, he doubted that she would care who he was with or if he was even alive after his outburst today. Still, when he had rushed into the room, he feared that Seven had told Kathryn of their relationship, but it was clear that Seven was crying to her over something much more important than her first failed relationship and he had breathed a sigh of mental relief. She didn’t know, she wouldn’t know and all of them were still safe, at least in that regard.

He was jolted out of his self-assurance a moment later as Kathryn said very quietly, but almost too evenly, “Seven mentioned when she came to see me that she had ended her relationship with you. I was unaware that a relationship had begun.”

“Kathryn, I, I…”

Kathryn knew she was avoiding the greater issue, but protecting Seven felt easier than exposing her own broken heart, “Save it Chakotay, you couldn’t even bother to tell me you were seeing Seven? Couldn’t even mention it over a nice game of hoverball or dinner in the mess hall? Or heaven help you, blurted it out when we were reviewing reports?”

“I, I, I…” Chakotay’s throat was tight and there seemed to be a lump forming in it that he just couldn’t swallow.

Kathryn finished the last sip of her coffee, swallowing it like her version of spinach from Tom’s old Popeye cartoons. “It doesn’t matter, Commander, I know what’s going on now. And while I don’t exactly approve, there’s nothing I can do to stop you. Just be careful,” she said a little softer. “She’s young and trusting. Underneath her cool faÁade she’s an arrogant teenager who knows no better and who really doesn’t understand emotions for what they are. Don’t let your ego make it more difficult for her.”

“My ego? Well, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black. Here you are lecturing me over how to treat Seven and warning me not to break her heart when you’re the biggest, coldest, most callous heartbreaker I’ve ever met, Kathryn. I’ll do as I please, when it comes to Seven but I guarantee I’ll teach her that love is something worth fighting for. She may be your child Kathryn, or as near to one as you’ll ever have, but she won’t grow up like you. She’ll know what love is.” He was too angry to remember that Seven had broken up with him.

Kathryn’s eyes blazed with fury, but Chakotay was startled to also find raw pain in her expression. “I’m glad,” she whispered. Chakotay was caught off guard by her simple statement. He had expected Kathryn to be furious with him but instead, she had basically patted him on the back for his affection for Seven and it frightened him.

But before he could think of something to say, Seven came in from the bedroom and fixed him with a glare so eerily like Kathryn’s that it took him a minute before he realized that it was indeed the younger woman who stood before him. Thinking quickly, he then adopted a posture of authority to hide his unease. Seven placed herself directly in between he and Janeway, who was also standing by this time. Seven took no notice of this, merely keeping her eyes fixed on Chakotay as she acted as a self-appointed shield for Kathryn. No one said a word for a moment and the room was so tension filled that Chakotay could have sworn his heart stopped in fear. One of these women was a formidable opponent. Both of them together were downright dangerous.

“You have no right to say those things to the captain. Furthermore, you are not in love with me and further still you should not be. As you say, it could be extrapolated that I am the closest thing to offspring that the captain has, and though my outburst earlier was quite childish, it did demonstrate quite clearly for you that my bond to the captain is quite strong and therefore, you should not have attempted to socialize with me in a romantic manner if you hold those feelings for her.”

Chakotay blushed furiously and had to take a few seconds before he could respond. “I’m sorry, Seven, you’re right. I behaved as I should not have. I was inefficient, as you would say.” He tried to smile but failed miserably as he realized that the two women were still glaring at him, each angry for their own reasons and collectively protective of one another. “I’m sorry,” he whispered once more, before hanging his head. Seven turned from him and faced Kathryn.

“I’m sorry Captain, for my emotions earlier. It was not efficient behavior, nor was it appropriate for my developmental age.”

Kathryn smiled a wry half smile. “Seven, sometimes we all need to be held and the captain is often referred to as the mother or father of the ship. You need not be sorry.”

“But Captain, I was not coming to you as the captain, but rather as Kathryn, the person to which I am most closely bonded. It was a break of protocol. As for what I wanted to apologize for when I arrived, I recognize that I seemed to have damaged your relationship with the commander, that is my error and one that shall not be repeated.”

Kathryn turned away from the young woman so that Seven would not see her tears as she said, “That’s perfectly all right, no harm done.” Seven stood in attention for a moment before saying goodnight to Kathryn and walking through the doors to the corridor.

As the doors swished shut, Kathryn turned once again to face Chakotay whose eyes were now fixed upon her. “You may go now as well, Chakotay, I have nothing left to say to you.” Kathryn made for the bedroom in quick, steadystrides; not even turning to make sure Chakotay had exited before entering her bedroom.

Chakotay thought a moment about leaving before turning and sitting on the couch. He knew that he couldn’t go to Kathryn now, but felt that leaving would be a mistake. They had left the issues between them alone for too long.

Realizing that he could be there all night, he cautiously lay down on the couch and pulled up the sheet that Kathryn had been laying out when she had planned to sleep on the couch. Then, he placed one of the couch cushions under his head as a pillow. He instantly regretted it, as Starfleet couches were not known for their soft upholstery. He definitely couldn’t sleep on one of those for a pillow and his neck was already telling him that he was too damn old to be sleeping without one at all. So he sat up once more and leaned back against the frame of the couch, using what little cushion it provided as a pillow. Closing his eyes, he tried to sleep, but it wasn’t easy, as he had to keep reminding his body that it didn’t matter that Kathryn was sleeping alone in the next room. He didn’t want to cause any more trouble for her than he already had, and he honestly didn’t know how to apologize for a relationship that had ruined the one that they never had and for comments that he hadn’t believed even as he’d said them. Shaking his head, he again tried to sleep, telling himself that thinking about feeling guilty for cheating on and arguing with a woman he had never dated just proved to him how very complicated being in love with Kathryn Janeway really was. He swore he’d go mad if he stayed up for yet another night thinking about it.

Sometime later, he awoke to a strange sound. It took him a minute to figure out where he was, and he bumped his head on the top of the couch in his confusion, causing him to almost cry out in pain until he remembered that the woman in the next room had no idea that he was still here and would probably phaser him if she found out. Focusing his sleep-addled brain, he struggled to remember what woke him up until he heard it again. It sounded like a whimper, not a whimper that someone makes in their sleep, a consciously felt, heart-broken whimper. “Kathryn!” he exclaimed softly, cursing himself when he realized that he said it out loud. Knowing now that she must have heard him, he made his way to the bedroom, heart hammering in his chest.

Reaching the bedroom, he stood in the doorway for a moment before moving further in, in case she noticed him and wanted him to leave. But as he studied her, his heart tore as he realized that she was too upset to recognize his presence. She lay on her side, the part of her face that he could see was bright red, with tears making quick tracks down her face. Whatever was troubling Kathryn was deeper than merely being furious at him for not telling her about his new girlfriend or for his hurtful comments at the funeral. He knew that he had to help her in whatever way he could. Slowly, he approached the bed and sat down on it. Gently but firmly gathering her into his arms, he lifted her, so that she rested with her head against his chest. He then waited the frightening seconds until she was sure to pull away, but the rebuke never came, and this worried him even more.

Kathryn continued to cry, unaware that he was even with her, even as he made soothing noises and stroked her hair, willing her to slow her sobs and relax. They stayed in this unknowing embrace for what felt to him like hours, but which he guessed was in reality about twenty minutes. Then suddenly, Kathryn raised her head and looked him in the eye, clearly seeing that he was there and registering their position. Again, he expected her to leave his arms, had no doubt about it in his mind, but she stayed and continued to look him in the eye for a full two minutes.

They stared at each other for so long that Chakotay was startled to hear her whisper, “I want to be like her, Chakotay.”

“Who, Kathryn?”

“Her. She was Kathryn, not the captain, not the admiral, Kathryn.”

Chakotay began to be even more concerned. She wasn’t making any sense; perhaps she was having a breakdown of some sort. He raised his hand to tap his commbadge, but stopped when she touched his hand with her own.

“I’m all right Chakotay, I promise. It’s just that she could be the woman; she didn’t have to hide her feelings and her pain. She had been through so much that showing her humanity wasn’t wrong anymore. She just wanted to be happy in her old age.”

Chakotay now knew that Kathryn was talking about the admiral, but what did she mean? He had seen a woman bent on getting her own way, on changing the timeline and doing as she pleased.

Kathryn saw the puzzled and slightly disappointed look on Chakotay’s face and thought to explain. “She came back to save her family. She didn’t come back because the ship was important to the Federation or because the original mission went badly according to procedure. She came back to save those she loved from being hurt. I don’t have that luxury, and I envy her.”

Kathryn began to cry silently once more and Chakotay pulled her even closer, trying to comfort her even as his mind tried to make sense of what she was saying. Admiral Janeway had come back to get Voyager home early, to save the crew from a longer mission and, while it was sweet of Kathryn to consider them family in the true sense, he didn’t quite understand the regret she seemed to be feeling. She had clearly shown the crew time and time again that they meant her very life to her. There was nothing more to say. She had always done what the admiral had strived to do; it was nothing new. “Kathryn, the crew knows that you love them, that you would die for them. The admiral just proved that that commitment never changes.”

Kathryn sat up, pulling away from him, and looking into his eyes once more, her eyes now flashing with frustration and anger. “You don’t understand, do you? She didn’t come back for the crew. Yes, that was an added bonus, but she came back for the closest thing she had to a daughter and the man she loved.” Kathryn let her words hang there, not sure what else to say and still having difficulty talking through the frequent hiccups that had appeared as her crying had slowed. “She did this because the woman she was was heartbroken over the loss of her family, over the unending separation from the two people she cared for the most in the world, and I envy her because she was willing to risk it all. She was a mother and a soulmate first, and a Starfleet officer second. Something I’ve never believed I could be.” Chakotay sat up slowly, pulling further away from Kathryn as he tried to piece together what she was trying to tell him. He had noticed that the admiral had seemed particularly protective of Seven, even going so far as to ask the young borg to lie to the captain so as to help the ship and by extension Seven avoid peril. Seven had described her behavior as emotional, fierce but gentle, things that Seven had found intriguing but inefficient and unsettling. Kathryn, however, clearly found those things to be desirable. Clearing his throat, he reassured her, “If you want to spend more time with Seven, you’re welcome to. I’m sure she would enjoy your company.” Kathryn’s eyes again darkened.

“You still don’t get it Chakotay and perhaps I shouldn’t have even tried to explain it to you.”

“What don’t I get, Kathryn? So, you want to be a mother? So you want to be more demonstrative? Fine.”

“No, that’s not what I want.” She was yelling now, angered by his flippancy. “I want to be seen as a human being. I want to be a human being. I want to be loved for who I am, and I want for that not to fly in the face of protocol.”

His eyes blazed, all the compassion of earlier gone from them. “Those protocols which you speak of are a prison of your own making, Kathryn. Nowhere in the rulebook does it say that a captain seventy thousand light-years away from home has to spend his or her life in isolation, that’s your interpretation, Kathryn. I’ve tried for years to tell you that I saw you as a person; that others would too, if you gave them the chance. But you never wanted that. So we respect Captain Janeway, we love Captain Janeway, and have to be content with that.”

“Well, I’m not content with that, Chakotay, I’m sorry I’ve made you so angry over the years. I’ve only been doing what I thought was right. What I thought I should be doing.”

“Well, I’m happy that you discovered that it’s not what you want. May your new resolution bring you happiness Kathryn. I, for one, wonder how long it will last.” With that, he turned on his heel and began to make his way out of the bedroom, too confused to say anything else. Only her call kept him from leaving her quarters all together.

“Chakotay wait, please. This isn’t all about Seven or even me. There’s something else the admiral could do that I couldn’t.” She waited with bated breath to see if he would turn around. He didn’t. Kathryn squared her shoulders, swallowed the lump in her throat, and said emotionally, “She could show that she loved you. I would give my life for the ability to do that and the admiral did.” Chakotay slowly turned around, his eyes wide with disbelief.

As Chakotay locked his eyes with her own, Kathryn sought to make him believe her. “She loved you. She couldn’t live without you. She didn’t have to say it, Chakotay, it was in her eyes, the hurt and loneliness of your absence consumed her, drove her to return to us and to attempt, above all else, to return to you or rather to give me the chance to come to you, a chance I have dearly wanted to take for years, seven in fact. She was able to freely express to me and to anyone else who wanted to see it, just how much she loved you and how much she wanted Seven to be happy and safe. She told me of your relationship and it burned me to the quick, Chakotay, because I love you just as much as she loved you and unlike her, I can’t act on it, or that is I thought I couldn’t, I want to now. I want to honor her memory in that way, give her what she wanted, what I want, have always wanted.”

Chakotay hadn’t moved and Kathryn’s heart began to race at the thought that though Seven had broken off their relationship, he was still in love with the young woman. Her fears never materialized, however, as he slowly made his way back to the bed.

“Kathryn,” he said quietly, in awe of her declaration and of how much sadness was in her voice. Slowly, he walked closer to her, trying not the startle her with the depth of emotion he was feeling. But Kathryn had other ideas, she stepped purposely toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing herself close, not to arouse him, but just to reassure herself that he was indeed alive and in her arms.

Chakotay relished the feel of his soulmate against him, he’d given up hope of ever sharing this moment with her, and, because of that, he had betrayed two of the three women that meant the most to him on Voyager. Taking a shaky breath, he risked rubbing her back tentatively, still afraid that this was a dream or that Kathryn would deny all of this latter.

Sensing his hesitancy, Kathryn pulled back slightly, but remained in his arms, as she lifted her tear-filled eyes to him and said, “I’m not going to leave you, Chakotay. If time and death couldn’t separate us, the mighty Captain Janeway of old doesn’t stand a chance. Besides, you have Kathryn in your corner, and she remembers the future.

Stroking his wet check, she gently pulled his lips down to hers and brought them together for a simple, loving kiss. Passion simmered just under the surface, but she was well aware that their first kiss had to be one that spoke to the depth of their relationship. The passion between them had always sparked, even when they were angry, but the love between them was precious and fragile, it had endured, despite all, but Admiral Janeway had made it quite clear that love, above all else, had to be at the core of what one did and how one lived.

After the kiss ended, Chakotay kissed her cheeks and forehead, before pulling her close and whispering in her ear, “I’m sorry, Kathryn. Sorry for so many things. I want you to know that Seven was a mistake. I realize now that I should have understood love comes first, just as you said. I want you to understand that I never forgot how much I love you.” Bending his head, he captured her mouth with his own, returning the emotion of her kiss with his.

Then, he pulled away from her, grasped her hand, and led her to the couch. Once seated, he pulled her close, still relishing the idea that he could do so without her pulling away. They sat in silence for a few moments, just enjoying each other’s presence, before he said, “I’m sorry she’s gone too, Kathryn,” watching as a tear fell from his love’s eye and landed on her already damp cheek. “She was a remarkable woman, who gave everything, including her life, so that I could have a future, a future with the person I love. I am sorry I behaved the way I did at the funeral. There really was no excuse for what I said, but I think my actions may have had something to do with the fact that she was you, and so, in essence, I was burying you. I couldn’t…”

Kathryn put her finger to his lips, using her other hand to wipe away the tears that had begun to fall from his eyes. “Shhhh, my love, I’m safe and I’m here and I love you.” Holding him tight once more, she whispered against his neck, “Sharing our love is the best way we can honor Admiral Janeway.”

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When their emotions had settled, they moved to the viewport, staring out at the quadrant that had now become their home with Kathryn leaning back against Chakotay and his arms wrapped lovingly around her.

They were home.

That was the one thing Admiral Janeway hadn’t understood. Home wasn’t in the Alpha quadrant, only accessible by a borg hub; it was wherever they were together.