(Yeah, sad name for a story. I tried to find a pun on Endgame, and just couldn’t do it. The best chess term I could come up with was “Book draw” which is an endgame position known to be a draw with perfect play. It seemed to fit, but it’s a weird name for a story. Sometimes cliche’s are useful).
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager. Pity.
Special thanks to Elem, who is the most wonderful beta. She did an amazing job on this (but I have fiddled a bit since she sent it back, so if there are mistakes – they’re mine). Thank you, Elem.
Janeway sat quietly in her command chair but, if she was honest with herself, she felt a little giddy. They’d done it. They were home. She closed her eyes and tried to tamp down all the emotions that were threatening to erupt.
“Captain, I’ve got critical readings coming from the warp core.”
Janeway’s eyes popped open. Harry’s voice had an edge to it that she recognized – something was very wrong. When she glanced towards him, his expression confirmed her fears.
“Janeway to Engineering, what’s going on down there?”
“We’ve got cascading failures right across the board, Captain! We were hit by some kind of huge electromagnetic surge when we came through the hub!” Nicoletti shouted over all the alarms that could be heard in the background. “We’re in serious trouble.”
“Can we dump the core, Lieutenant?”
“Negative, Captain. All those controls blew when we exited.” Nicoletti was a little short of breath and in the background more explosions could be heard. “Even the manual override has seized. I tried it.”
“Unless we get it under control, it’s going to breach in about ten minutes.”
“Are we going to get it under control?”
The hesitation was only slight and the words seemed to be wrenched forcibly from Nicoletti. “No ma’am. We’re not.”
“Right.” Janeway stood up. “Chakotay, turn us around, get us as far from any vulnerable craft, satellites and outposts as you can. Harry are there any ships close enough to transport us off Voyager?”
“No ma’am, they’ve all returned to the positions they were holding prior to our arrival. The closest is…” Harry paused while he checked his console. “… at least fifteen minutes away, which would put them outside…”
“Harry, let Starfleet know what’s happening, tell them we’re abandoning ship.” Harry nodded and bent to his task. “All hands, abandon ship! Report to your assigned escape pod. This is not a drill.” Janeway looked over her shoulder. “Seven get to sick bay and, if he needs it, help the Doctor with B’Elanna. Tuvok, make sure the evacuation is orderly.”
With a nod, Tuvok left the bridge followed by Seven and the other officers at non-essential stations. Janeway paused and put her hand to her eyes for only a split second. “Chakotay, how far away can we get?”
“Far enough. All planets and ships will be safe.”
“Well, that’s good news anyway.” She resumed her seat. The rest of the bridge crew had gone, leaving only the three senior officers. “Harry, is the message away?”
“Right, then get to your escape pod. You too, Commander and please make sure there are no stragglers.”
Ensign Kim’s eyes met Chakotay’s. Neither wanted to leave Janeway on her own.
Sensing their reticence, she continued.
“I’ll be right behind you both.” She looked at their obstinate faces. “That wasn’t a suggestion, gentlemen. I will be downloading as much information as I can into my pod’s computer before I leave. I’ll be using the aerowing.” She knew that they thought she was planning to go down with the ship. “Go. Now. I have almost eight minutes, I plan to use it.”
“Commander, I order you to make sure all the crew are accounted for and that everyone is their pods, especially our newest crewmember, please.”
And with that, Kim and Chakotay left the bridge.
Janeway knew which files to copy to the escape pod’s computer. She made sure she got all the information about the Borg hub, stealth technology, ablative shielding, transphasic torpedoes, chronoton deflector and any other technology and information about the Collective that the old shrew, Admiral Janeway, had brought with her from the future.
But they weren’t the only files that she deemed vital. She scanned the lists and made sure she also included the personnel records and logs, not only of current crew, but of the crew that had been lost… that she had lost along the way. Their relatives deserved to be given everything she could possibly provide in memory of their loved ones.
A quick glance at the clock indicated that she had about two minutes before she had to get out. The file transfers were going well. The captain’s escape pod was the aerowing, and although it had been cannibalized for some spare parts over the years, she knew that it still had a functioning computer. The other systems were less important at this stage.
As the aerowing was a little larger than the standard escape pod, Janeway also decided that it was worth transporting aboard the specimens, samples and artifacts that they gathered along their journey. Chakotay had been scrupulous in cataloging and storing the various treasures they had been presented with along the way, and the task of moving them to the aerowing would be straightforward.
Only another minute or so to go. The computer clearly indicated that the ship’s and crew’s memories and mementoes were being transplanted from one ship to another.
It was while she was watching the progress monitor that the awful truth struck her. Her ship, her beautiful ship was about to be destroyed. Janeway slumped back into her chair. It was though she’d been hit. The realization that this was the final time that she would ever see Voyager, devastated her.
Voyager had lived up to its name and its class of ship. It truly was Intrepid, in every sense of the word. Voyager had protected her and the crew through events that could only be described as amazing. Most defied belief. A thousand images swirled through her mind. The battles with the Kazon and the Hirogen, crossing Devore space and engaging the Borg. This ship had kept them safe throughout the last seven years and they had met more species, made more friends and enemies than any other ship in history.
A system error appeared on her screen. An item requested to be transported was too large. There was no room on the aerowing for a bathtub. She cleared the error and unconsciously wiped away a tear.
Janeway closed her eyes. The trauma of the losses, both personal and professional, were almost physically painful and she was so distracted by her thoughts that she didn’t hear the doors to the bridge open.
“Chakotay? I thought I told you to get to your escape pod.”
“You did. You also ordered me to ‘make sure there were no stragglers’. Everyone else is off the ship. I wanted to see if you needed any help.” Chakotay noticed that the file transfers were complete. “Kathryn, we have to leave now.”
“I know. I was just saying goodbye.”
But she didn’t move. Janeway was now staring at Tom Paris’ station. Holding the back of his chair, she closed her eyes and ran her fingers along the fabric.
“Kathryn, we’ve got to go now. We’ve only got two minutes.”
She shook herself and looked slightly shocked. It was clear to Chakotay that she had lost track of time.
He took her by the arm and guided her to the escape hatch that would lead them directly to the tube to the aerowing.
With one final backward glance, Janeway allowed herself to be guided to the hatch.
“Better put on your safety harness, Chakotay, this could be a little rough.”
“You too, Kathryn.”
As Janeway guided the craft away from the ship, she looked back wistfully, until the attitude of the ship changed and Voyager was behind them. She gave him a weak smile.
“Are you okay?” he asked, softly.
“The crew is safe. Voyager fulfilled her mission.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
The little shuttle sped away from the beleaguered ship. Both occupants ignored the countdown visible on the control panel that showed how many seconds of existence their beloved ship had left, but both knew when it was time to close their eyes, a fraction before the explosion rocked them and their craft.
The few seconds of violence, that followed Voyager’s death, were intense and despite being strapped into their seats, both Janeway and Chakotay gripped the armrests of their seats to maintain some semblance of control, with varying degrees of success. Despite the inertial dampeners, both felt the ship topple and spin, end over end, as the roar of the explosion filled the cabin. After what seemed, to the occupants, like hours of teeth rattling noise and motion, the craft became still and silent.
“Kathryn?” Chakotay looked across at the captain, who had her eyes closed and was leaning back into her seat.
“That was like one of the Doctor’s soothing osteopathic massages.” she quipped, but the smile didn’t really reach her eyes.
“Our engines are off line.” said Chakotay quietly, getting back to business.
“Doesn’t matter, a rescue ship will be here in,” she looked at the panel in front of her, “about four minutes.”
The two sat quietly in their seats, with Chakotay stealing glances at Janeway. She was unusually still and just staring out the front window. He had never seen her looking so crushed and defeated.
There was a brief popping sound and then a loud crash as panels on the aerowing exploded and smoke filled the cabin.
“We’ve lost life support!” Chakotay yelled, over the din of sizzling lines.
“Are you all right?” called out Janeway, worried that she couldn’t see him properly.
“Fine.” Chakotay undid his seat belt and made his way aft. “I’ll see if I can get life support functional.”
“We should have only a few minutes or so before a rescue vessel turns up.” Janeway turned to watch him, releasing her safety harness. “We’ve got enough oxygen, so just…Chakotay look out!”
She could see the panel just above where he was crouched about to blow. As she dove across the flight deck to push him out of the way, it exploded.
It took a couple of seconds for Janeway to remember where she was – in the aerowing, escaping from Voyager with Chakotay. And it was eerily quiet.
Her first attempt at trying to turn around and see where he was, was less than successful. Judging by the bulkhead she was staring at, the force of the explosion had blown her clear across the deck and into the opposite wall. A piece of the panel that exploded had sliced into the thigh and the pain when she moved was intense. It was only a few seconds later, however, that she realized that Chakotay hadn’t answered her.
“Chakotay, are you all right?” It didn’t occur to Janeway that she couldn’t even hear her own voice. She called out to him again. “Chakotay, answer me.” Silence.
Hunting frantically through the wreckage she finally found him. He was lying face down on the deck with various pieces of exploded panel covering him. Suddenly, her leg didn’t hurt that much anymore and she half crawled, half dragged herself to his side.
“Chakotay, wake up!” she reached up and grabbed the remains of a first aid kit from an overhead locker. “Chakotay, please.”
Ripping open the box revealed that most of the contents were gone. There was no tricorder. Desperately, she placed her fingers on his neck, trying to detect a pulse but her hand was shaking so much that it was almost impossible for her to feel anything.
She hauled herself into a semi-upright position and fighting increasing panic, she tried to check his body for injuries. Apart from a large lump and cut on the back of his head, she wasn’t able to detect any other obvious trauma.
After frantically pushing the debris off his hips, she rolled him over onto his back. Placing her ear to his chest, she was unable to hear a heart beat. Truly alarmed now, Janeway placed her face close to Chakotay’s in an effort to feel his breathing. She couldn’t feel that either.
Starting CPR, she kept up her one sided and, strangely silent to her own ears, conversation with him.
“Chakotay, please.” Pump. Breath. “You have,” Pump “to start,” Pump “breathing,” Pump “I order you to breathe”. Pump. Breath. She was getting confused. How many compressions to breaths had she done? She was doing it all wrong and he would die because of her ineptitude. “Chakotay, please don’t leave me. I love you.” Pump. Pump. In her now near panicked state, she imagined him trying to speak to her, but believed she was starting to hallucinate due to lack of oxygen. Where the hell was that rescue ship?
The effort of the CPR was making her very aware that she hadn’t escaped the explosion unscathed. But she had to stay conscious. It was her fault that Chakotay was injured. They were home, she couldn’t lose him now that they were home. Janeway felt faint.
“Chakotay, please. I’m sorry. Please be okay. You can’t die, damn you, I love you.” She bent down to try and detect his breathing. “No! Chakotay! Wake up. You have to start breathing again. Please. Please don’t die.” In frustration, she beat her fist against his chest. Again she thought she saw him move but the total silence around her was as disorienting as the oxygen deprivation.
She didn’t hear the comm call. All she could see was her best friend, the man she’d loved for years, dead or dying in front of her and it was all her fault. Less than twenty seconds later, when she and Chakotay were transferred aboard another vessel, she was unconscious, draped across his chest.
Was that her mother?
“Kathryn? Wake up, honey. You’re home .”
It was definitely her mother. Janeway opened her eyes and saw the beaming face of Gretchen Janeway looking down at her.
“Chakotay? Where’s Chakotay?” These were the first words she said to her mother in seven years.
“He’s fine, darling. Just fine. He wasn’t badly injured, just a bump on the head and two broken arms, but he’s as good as new now. I think he’s gone to get a new uniform and then he’ll be back.” Her mother’s eyes were shining. “Oh baby, it’s so lovely to see you.”
“He wasn’t breathing. I had to do CPR, but I didn’t do it properly, Mom. Do they know he wasn’t breathing? I couldn’t find a pulse. I should tell someone, just in case.”
“Calm down, honey. He’s perfectly all right. You were the one who was injured, Kathryn. Don’t you remember?”
“He’s really okay?” her mother nodded. “Thank god. I thought I’d killed him.”
“Well, you didn’t. Welcome home, honey.” She pulled her daughter into an emotional embrace. “I’ve been so worried about you, but you’re home now. It’s so lovely to have you back.”
“It’s good to be home. Thanks, Mom.” Janeway looked past her mother. “Where’s Phoebe?”
“She’ll be here soon. We’ll all go home together. Now, you get into your uniform and we’ll join the rest of the crew. They’re sort of next door, meeting their relatives and friends.”
Janeway eased herself off the bed and picked up a new uniform that had been laid out for her and made her way behind a screen to put it on. She’d just slipped on her turtle neck when a soft knock alerted the women that someone was at the door.
“Gretchen, lovely to see you.” Admiral Owen Paris entered the room and leant down to kiss the older Janeway on the cheek. “Can I borrow your daughter for a few moments? I have some official issues to discuss with her.” Gretchen looked unwilling to allow her daughter out of her sight. “We’ll join you at the muster area in a few minutes.”
Gretchen Janeway, recognized a command, rather than a request, when she heard one, and acquiesced. She kissed her daughter once more before telling her that she’d be waiting with the others and asked Owen not to be too long.
It was only when Tom Paris had wanted to introduce his mother to Kathryn Janeway that he realized that both Voyager’s captain and first officer had not yet joined their crew. Mrs Paris and B’Elanna had struck up an instant rapport and while they were chatting, Tom’s thoughts went to Janeway.
His mother wasn’t in San Francisco, however, but at home, and their conversation had been over the vid system. Mrs Paris was minding his sister’s three children and, as it was probably only an hour or two before all the crew were released, she decided to wait for them at home.
“Tommy, I want you here as soon as you can get away and my new daughter and grand daughter where I can hug them.”
“Yes, Mom. We’ll be home soon, I promise.”
After speaking to Harry, Tom and B’Elanna learned that Janeway and Chakotay had been on the last pod to leave Voyager and there were rumors sweeping the crew that they had both been injured. Seeing Tuvok standing aloof from the rest of the crew, Tom knew that he would know where their commanding officers were.
Tuvok confirmed that the pair had been injured. “I have been informed that they will be joining the rest of the crew soon.” Although the Vulcan would’ve denied it, Tom thought he detected a hint of worry from him. “Perhaps, if you will permit me, I should mind Miral while you obtain further intelligence from your father, Mr Paris.”
B’Elanna reluctantly relinquished her daughter who suddenly became quiet and serene in Tuvok’s arms.
“That’s amazing, Tuvok. How do you do that?”
“I have an affinity for infants.” Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “However, perhaps Miral would appreciate if you are only gone for a maximum of fifteen minutes.”
B’Elanna was staring at Tuvok in amazement when Tom pulled her by the arm.
“Understood, Tuvok. B’Elanna, let’s get going.”
As all Voyager’s crew were required to undergo a medical examination on return to Earth, the muster area was next to Starfleet Medical. Tom and B’Elanna made their way to the Emergency unit and asked about their crewmates at the nurse’s desk.
“Commander Chakotay is just getting a new uniform and I believe Admiral Paris is with Captain Janeway now. They’re both ready to be released.”
“Thank you, could you direct me to Captain Janeway?” Tom realized that he only had to find Janeway. Chakotay wouldn’t be far away once they’d got her.
“Just down the hall, take the left fork and first door on the left.” The nurse pointed down one of the corridors. “Oh, and welcome home.”
After thanking the nurse again, they walked slowly down the corridor.
“Dad’s with her? That explains why Mom didn’t know where he was. Figures that he went to see Janeway first.” Tom was surprised at the amount of bitterness that he heard in his own voice. Suddenly he felt like a teenager again and all the old resentments were bubbling to the surface. He tried to tamp them down. Now wasn’t the time.
As they were about to round the left turn, they could hear a raised voice, a male raised voice, coming from Janeway’s room.
“That’s my father.” Said Tom flatly.
At first, they didn’t pick up the tone but just before they got to the door to Janeway’s room, Tom put out an arm to stop his wife. Now he recognized the tone. The pair were now transfixed, listening to the amazing exchange.
“Of all the brainless, half assed and downright irresponsible actions, I think this takes the cake. Do you agree, Captain?” A very small sound was heard. Maybe this wasn’t Janeway’s room after all. “I didn’t catch that reply, Captain.”
“Yes, Sir.” It was indeed Janeway.
Tom and B’Elanna looked at each other with wide eyes. Janeway was being chewed out by Tom’s father?
“What is your chief responsibility as Captain?”
“My crew, Sir.”
“And are Commander Chakotay and indeed yourself members of your crew, Captain?”
“Given the size of Voyager’s warp core and the specifications for the aerowing, what would be the regulation minimum safe exit time, Captain?”
“Four minutes, Sir.”
“Four. And how much time did you actually leave, Captain?”
Every time his father said the word “captain”, Tom winced. He wanted to run into the room and rescue Janeway. Owen Paris was the only person he knew that could use your rank like a weapon against you. Tom always thought it was only himself that was made to endure this kind of dressing down. Hearing him tear strips off someone of Janeway’s caliber was a revelation.
“Less than two minutes, Sir.”
“Putting at serious risk two senior crew.”
“What ever possessed you to do such an idiotic thing? What the hell were you thinking, if you were thinking at all?”
There was a pause.
“I’m waiting for your answer, Captain. What was so important that you risked your life and the life of Commander Chakotay?”
“I was just remembering how well Voyager had served me and my crew, sir.”
Admiral Paris made a noise that Tom recognized only too well. It was the noise air made as he sucked it through his teeth. It usually signified that the recipient of his wrath was about to lose a beloved body part.
“Did you wake up and take a stupid pill this morning, Janeway? What did you think I’d have to tell your mother, Captain? ‘I’m sorry, Gretchen, but your daughter was killed because she was indulging in a little trip down memory lane’?”
Whoa, thought Tom. He’s playing the ‘Mom’ card. It was another tactic that he thought his father only used against him.
“You’re damned lucky that I’m in a good mood due to your return this morning, Janeway, otherwise you’d have my size ten boot print on your butt and you certainly wouldn’t be putting all four pips back on your collar when you finish dressing. However, don’t think you’re going to get off lightly from this little escapade. Do you understand, Captain?”
“Your debriefing starts in two weeks, Captain. You will report to my office one hour before your session on the first day. Am I clear?”
“Crystal clear, Admiral.”
“Right, now come here, Katie. I want a hug.”
“There’s not much left to hug I’m afraid, Owen. Admiral Paris just got through with me.”
They both laughed, although Janeway’s sounded a little rueful.
“I’m sure you deserved it.”
“Yes, Sir. I’m sure I did.”
“Katie, I know Voyager was a fine ship, but you’re so much more important. You do know that, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry, Owen.”
Tom and B’Elanna risked a quick peek in the room. The old man was embracing the Captain. They were just about to announce themselves when Owen Paris spoke.
“Thank you for bringing my son and his family home to us, Katie. I’m sure no one else could’ve done such a wonderful job.”
“Owen, Tom is a remarkable man and an exemplary officer. His bravery, resourcefulness and good humor were integral to the success of getting us home. I can’t tell you how many times he saved Voyager.”
There was a slight pause. B’Elanna gave Tom’s hand a squeeze and then they both froze when they heard the next exchange.
“And your daughter in law, Owen, you’re going to love B’Elanna Torres. Her temper…”
“As bad as yours, Katie?”
“Worse. And the best damned engineer I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”
It was Tom’s turn to give B’Elanna a small hug.
“Remember, Kaufel on the Pegasus, Owen? B’Elanna is better. And also another superb officer. I was very lucky to have them on my staff.”
Owen whistled, clearly impressed.
“I can’t wait to get to know them both. Which reminds me, you’d better get back to your mother,” Owen gave her a smile. “Or she’ll be after me. You’d better finish getting ready.”
“You’re going home for two weeks. Didn’t you listen to me before?” he asked in a mock threatening tone.
“Well, to be honest, Owen, I was concentrating on keeping my head attached to my body.”
Tom and B’Elanna heard them both laugh.
“Owen, are my crew being taken care of, has everyone got…”
“Everyone is just fine, relax, you’ve earned it. Now get ready and we’ll join them.”
“I think this is the room, B’Elanna.” Tom winked at his wife. “The nurse said that the Captain…” the pair emerged around the doorway to join the older Paris and Janeway “Hi Dad! Hello, Captain. Captain, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, thank you, Tom.”
“Tom,” said Owen, grasping his son’s hand and pulling him into a hug. “It’s so wonderful to see you. We’ve been so worried about you.” He released his son and turned to B’Elanna “And you must be B’Elanna, it’s so wonderful to finally meet you too. Welcome home, my dear. Where’s my grand daughter?”
“She’s with Tuvok.” said B’Elanna, expecting Janeway and Admiral Paris to be as shocked as she was.
“Oh-oh, good luck getting her back. Tuvok and babies.” Janeway shook her head and glanced at Owen, and the pair shared a smile. This seemed to be old news.
“Well, I outrank him, so I’ll be getting my grand daughter as soon as possible. If I don’t get her home as quickly as I can to your mother, Tom, I’ll be sleeping on the sofa.”
At this point, Voyager’s first officer also appeared at the doorway.
“Captain? How are…?”
“Chakotay! Are you all right?” Janeway grabbed his hand and dragged him into the room. She examined him closely, as if confirming that he was indeed in one piece and really breathing. Chakotay just stood patiently while Janeway inspected his condition. Finally, somewhat reassured, she remembered who she was with.
“Admiral Paris, may I introduce my first officer, Commander Chakotay?”
“Welcome home, son.”
“Thank you, sir.” Chakotay turned to Janeway. “Captain, are you sure you’re all right. You were quite, um, distressed in the shuttle.”
Janeway forgot that there was anyone in the room but her and Chakotay.
“What do you mean I was distressed? You were unconscious. I was very worried about you.” Her tone was almost accusatory.
“No, I was awake, but you didn’t seem to recognize the fact.” Chakotay seemed amused. The other occupants of the room were fascinated. “The doctor said you were temporarily deafened by the explosion. That was apart from the disorientation caused by the concussion.”
“You were awake? But I…when…it was…that’s not…” Janeway looked completely flummoxed. Suddenly, what she’d said to him while she thought he was unconscious came back to her. “You were awake?”
“Yes, I tried talking to you but you wanted to do all the talking. No surprise there, really.” He was looking at her in a most peculiar way. “You ordered me to breathe as I recall and then you punched me.” Just as her expression was about to clear, he added. “Among other things. I couldn’t move my arms to defend myself.” Chakotay smiled at the bemused faces of the others in the room. “She doesn’t usually hit me.” He said pleasantly.
“Katie, are you sure you’re well?” Owen Paris asked. “Should I get Gretchen?”
Janeway was suddenly embarrassed. She had completely forgotten that she and Chakotay weren’t alone in the room.
“I’m fine, sir.” She smiled weakly. “Just a little shocked, maybe.” Gathering her wits about her, she said in a commanding voice. “We should join the others.”
“Maybe you should finish dressing first, Captain.” Ventured Chakotay, looking way too smug for Janeway’s liking.
Janeway didn’t have a chance to consider the implications of Chakotay having heard and remembered what she’d said in the shuttle. Once at the muster point she was swamped with thank yous from the crew and their families and she was more than happy to lose herself in the emotional moments that ensued.
After seven years of command distance, she reveled in the embraces and touches of her crew, even allowing a stray tear or two to escape.
Finally, most of the crew had been farewelled, although it seemed that now they had all reached their destination, they didn’t want to be parted from each other.
When only the senior staffed remained, Harry bought his parents over to meet Janeway, who was reminded by the call from Harry’s mother, all those years ago, that he’d forgotten his clarinet. The Doctor had already left with Doctor Zimmerman, who was even more abrasive than his creation. Tom and B’Elanna were organizing Miral (after prizing her out of Tuvok’s arms) and Tom’s father was just getting the group together so they could leave for the Paris home.
Chakotay and Seven were with Seven’s aunt, Mrs Hansen. Chakotay was talking quietly with the younger woman, who was listening intently. Every now and then, they would look in Janeway’s direction.
As the Kim’s moved off, after leaving contact details with everyone, Tuvok joined Janeway, who was trying not to watch Seven and Chakotay.
“Captain, Admiral Paris has organized a transport to Vulcan. I will be leaving in ten minutes.”
“Let me know how you get on, Tuvok. And please, send my best to T’Pel.”
“I will indeed, Captain. I am sure that T’Pel will insist that you visit us at your earliest convenience.” Tuvok turned to Janeway’s mother. “And you too, Gretchen.”
“Sounds wonderful, Tuvok. I’m looking forward to seeing your new grandchildren.”
“As am I.” He turned back to Janeway. “Please feel free to bring the Commander, Captain. You would both be welcomed.”
Before Janeway could think of an answer, he was gone.
“We’ll be on our way ourselves shortly, Kathryn. We’re just waiting for…oh, I’ll just go and speak to Owen for a second. Don’t go away, darling.” And with that, Gretchen too, was gone.
Janeway turned to see Chakotay making his way towards her.
“Are you going now, Chakotay?”
“I think so,” he turned to see Seven and her aunt wave toward them and head out the main door. “Kathryn, about what you said in the pod…”
“I’m so sorry, Chakotay. I’m sure I’ve embarrassed you. I was a little panicked.”
“You didn’t mean it?”
“Of course I mea…well, you’re with Seven now, and I wouldn’t dream of…”
“Yes or no?”
“Yes, I’m sorry. Shouldn’t you be following Mrs Hansen?”
“Seven and I have broken up. Not that we actually had much of a relationship to break.”
To his surprise, Janeway looked upset.
“This is my fault. I’m sor…”
“No. We broke up before we got home.” Chakotay looked at her intently. “Kathryn I don’t know what the Admiral told you, but that was in her timeline. None of that will necessarily, or even should, happen in this timeline. And besides, I realized that I’m not in love with Seven.”
“Oh?” Hope flared in Janeway for the first time since she’d received the call from Engineering.
“You know what?” he asked. Janeway shook her head. “There’s no longer a Voyager command structure because, well, there’s no Voyager.” Chakotay raised an eyebrow.
“So, you’re no longer under my command?”
As his eyebrow raised another fraction, a huge smile broke out on her face.
“Chakotay, how would you like to come home with me to Ind…”
“So, are you two ready?” Gretchen suddenly appeared next to them. “Chakotay, I’ve let Owen know that you’ll be coming home with us, if that’s all right? Phoebe will meet us there, so be prepared for a barrage of questions, but I’m sure you’ll cope.
“Are you ready to go home?” Gretchen asked them both.
“Welcome home, Chakotay.”
“Welcome home, Kathryn.”
“Yes, Mom, we’re ready. Lead the way.”