Summary: As Voyager at lasts makes it to the Alpha Quadrant, the Borg have one more surprise.
“It’s Starfleet again, Captain.”
“On screen please, Harry.”
After Tom Paris had left the Bridge, there had been an atmosphere of almost reverential silence as everyone contemplated the previous few minutes. The exchange between captain and operations officer could have taken place in a library.
The booming voice of the caller snapped them out of their collective introspection.
“It’s about time, Captain. You didn’t call to say that you’d be late for dinner.” The stony-faced Admiral on screen had his hands on his hips although his loud, sarcastic tone was mitigated by a huge smile.
It wasn’t Admiral Paris and nobody else on the Bridge recognized him, but it was plain to see that he and the captain were old friends.
“I’m sorry, Admiral. I was a little detained,” Janeway gave him her trademark grin, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs, “I hope you didn’t wait for me, sir. You look like you’ve eaten since I saw you last. Several times.”
“I am not fat, and you’re lucky you’re still out of transporter range, young lady, or I’d beam over there with what’s left of your meal.”
“I only had to be thrown across the galaxy for seven years to avoid your chicken risotto. Yes, sir, I’m very lucky.”
The older man laughed. “And you’ve acquired a smart mouth, my dear, since you’ve been away,” he sighed dramatically. “Where’s my darling little Katie in pigtails who was so polite and used to hang on my every word? You were as cute as a little pixie in those days.”
“A little pixie?” Janeway snorted. “Well, thank you for removing the last shred of any remaining respect my crew might still have for me,” her eyes narrowed. “Uncle Bob?”
“Yes, my dear?”
Janeway stood up and put her hands on her hips in a similar posture to the Admiral.
“I’m telling my mother on you.”
The admiral laughed hard and shook his head.
“Is that what you did in the Delta Quadrant, Katie? Threatened the Borg with your mommy?”
“Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” Janeway was laughing too, obviously enjoying talking to an old friend. “So, if I’m not in the brig and Mom hasn’t dealt with you, we can make another date for…”
The movement, to the right of Janeway, caught everyone on the bridge by surprise.
Afterwards, no one could understand how the Borg drone hadn’t been seen before it reared up and lunged for her First Officer, who like the rest of the bridge crew, was enjoying their captain’s exchange with her friend.
The admiral on the vid screen only saw Janeway shout out and throw herself towards the intruder.
“Chakotay! Look out!”
The drone seemed disoriented and strangely panicky. At Janeway’s call it moved in her direction and as she attempted to push it away from her first officer, it swung its arm wildly, catching her on the side of her face and sending her sprawling back towards her command chair.
Chakotay jumped at the drone’s right arm, which was now turned towards Janeway. It looked as if it was going to attempt to assimilate her. The arm that was reaching for her was a travesty of technology; a mass of spikes, electronic bristles and snake-like tubules. Desperately pulling back on the limb, he called out for an emergency beam out and he didn’t hear Harry’s reply, but he understood in that nanosecond that the transporters were off line.
Suddenly, Chakotay lost his grip on the straining arm and, as if on a spring, it swung away from him and into Janeway, just as she was regaining her feet. The force of the drone stumbling forward pressed her back down into her chair.
The Borg frantically moved its limb, still partially skewering Janeway. With a metallic whirring sound, it rotated back and forth. It was then brutally pulled out of her and it thrashed back into Chakotay. As he was sent toppling back towards the conn he saw Janeway crumple and slide to the deck, just as a figure seemed to fly passed him and into the now out of control drone.
As he picked himself off the console, he realized that the figure was Ensign Anderson who had launched herself into some kind of martial arts flying kick, catching the drone in the center of his chest and sending him to the floor. Ayala and Harry had also joined the melee, and with the assistance of Seven, they managed to get behind the Borg just as he was getting to his feet and deactivated him.
When he looked back towards his captain, Chakotay thought for a horrible second that she was dead and he couldn’t stop the desperate “No!” he shouted in denial. As he struggled back over to her he was a little relieved to see her uncoordinated attempt at sitting up and ignoring the sharp pain in his back where he’d struck the console, he rushed to her.
The captain was propped up against her command chair, loosely clutching her side. Her hand was covered in blood, her face was pale. Her eyes were open but they were unfocussed, her pupils dilated so much that her shocked eyes looked almost black.
“Kathryn?” he moved his hand over the injury. His stomach turned when he realized that one hand wasn’t enough and cupped his other hand on her side, as well. “Kathryn?” Her name was an urgent plea and he didn’t take his gaze from her face as he then called out. “Harry, can you beam us to Sickbay?”
Janeway’s face turned fractionally towards Chakotay and looked at him with confused eyes. The first blow she had received to her face was already bruising stood out in stark comparison to her pale face.
“Chakotay?” she rasped in barely a whisper, her free hand attempting to touch his face, “you ‘kay?”
Harry wasn’t wasting words. “No. Off line.” Time was obviously of the essence.
“I’m fine, Kathryn.” Without taking his eyes off her, “Ayala, help me here.” Ayala moved over to the command chair. “Mike, can you pick her up, while I keep pressure on the wound?”
“On three.” And, with that, the two men lifted up Janeway and started to move towards the turbo lift.
“Harry, you have the Bridge.”
“Yes, ma’am?” The two men made quick progress to the door.
“Look after the crew. Get them home.”
“You got us home, Kathryn…you…” and the doors on the turbo lift closed and hid them from the view of the Bridge and the screen.
All eyes were on the lift doors, until Harry shook himself out of his profound shock and tried to regain his composure.
“Ensign Anderson, is the Borg drone secure?”
“Yes, sir. He’s deactivated.”
“Confirmed,” Seven added.
“Are either of you injured?”
“I am undamaged.”
“Kim to Sickbay.” Harry’s voice cracked slightly. “The Captain has been seriously wounded. Commander Chakotay is bringing her down there now.”
“Acknowledged.” The Doctor sounded stunned, but didn’t ask any questions.
“Ensign Anderson, please assist Commander Tuvok to his quarters and wait there until I can get the Doctor to check on him.” Harry wasn’t sure what was wrong with Tuvok, who hadn’t moved from his console, but the haunted look on the Vulcan’s face was enough to assure him that something was very much amiss. When Tuvok nodded to Harry and followed Anderson without question from the Bridge, it confirmed his suspicions. “Ensign Baytart, take the conn.”
Baytart nodded and quickly moved into position.
“Seven, take tactical. I want a full ship scan for any other Borg drones.”
If Harry hadn’t been so heartsick and worried about the Captain and what had just happened, he would’ve been thrilled with Seven calling him ‘sir’. He made his way back to his station.
“Lieutenant Baxter, report to the Bridge, on the double.”
“On my way.”
“Engineering, I need transporters as soon as possible.” He took a breath, “Seven, when they’re back, beam the drone to the brig and erect a level ten forcefield around it, just in case.”
Only then did Harry stop and rub his hand across his face. Just minutes ago they were all so happy and the Captain was trading jokes with…
The voice surprised Harry. He had forgotten the admiral on the viewscreen. The older man’s tone had none of the levity it held only moments before. He looked upset and horrified.
“As soon as you’re within transporter range, I’ll be sending physicians and medical staff to Voyager.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Cheers could be heard even through the Bridge bulkheads. And then, as if by some collective clairvoyance, there was quiet. It was as if all 140 crew realized that it wasn’t their captain addressing them and that something was very wrong.
“Unfortunately,” Harry took another gulp of air, “Captain Janeway was injured during the mission. I…I have no word on her condition as yet.” he paused again to wipe his hands over his face. “Would all crew prepare for inspection in thirty minutes. Section heads prepare for mission handover and final reports. Kim out.”
Mike Ayala sagged against the closed doors outside Sick Bay as he heard Kim’s announcement. He’d just left Chakotay inside. He thought his friend was in deep shock. Chakotay had tried to keep the Captain talking but she had passed out just as they’d approached the Sick Bay door and his friend had been frantic, calling her to open her eyes. Even after they’d put her on the biobed, Chakotay wouldn’t let her go. Ayala had gently pulled him away while the Doctor had examined her. Paris looked shattered as well.
Ayala sincerely hoped that Janeway would be okay. She had changed his mind about Starfleet and he knew from his friend that she had been ferocious in her defense of the Maquis in her communications with the Alpha Quadrant.
He also knew that everyone one of the Maquis considered Chakotay their friend, but they now considered Janeway to be their captain.
“Ayala to Kim.”
“Go ahead, Lieutenant.”
“The captain is in Sick Bay. Commander Chakotay will be unavailable for some time.”
“Understood. How is…”
“I don’t know, Harry. Not good.” Ayala was known for being soft spoken but his reply was barely a whisper.
There was a long pause before Kim spoke again.
“Mike, can you go to the transporter room, please? We’ll be receiving visitors within minutes. Commander Tuvok is… indisposed, so you’re ranking security officer.”
Ayala contacted his security details on his way and told them to look sharp. He wanted to show any brass that Janeway ran a tight ship. They were waiting for him as he entered, lined up at perfect attention. He acknowledged them with a nod.
The transporter operator announced that the first arrivals were about to be received. They were two doctors and some other medical staff. He directed two officers to escort them to Sick Bay. Ayala wasn’t surprised. It was unlikely that the Doctor would be willing to move the captain anytime soon unless…and he didn’t want to contemplate that possibility. He shook himself and tried not to think of how badly hurt she was.
The next transport bought two officers. One was the admiral that the captain had been talking to when they’d first arrived back. He looked like he’d aged twenty years since Ayala had first seen him only fifteen minutes earlier.
“Welcome to Voyager, sirs. I’m Lieutenant Ayala.”
The admirals stepped off the transporters and the friend of the captain’s held out his hand.
“Lieutenant, I’m Admiral Galloway,” he shook Ayala’s hand. “This is Admiral Collins. Welcome home, son.”
“Thank you, sir.” Ayala waited respectfully for their orders.
“Son, I’m worried about my…Captain Janeway, I’d like to be taken to Sick Bay and Admiral Collins should go to the bridge.”
“Of course, sir.” Ayala turned to his officers and nodded. Jarvis stepped forward and received his instructions from Ayala. If either of the visitors objected to Ayala instructing the detail taking the admiral to Sick Bay to check with the Doctor before entering, they didn’t say anything.
“Admiral Collins, Ensign Rollins will escort you to the bridge, sir.”
Rollins stepped forward and the Admiral motioned him to lead the way.
As they walked down the corridor, Admiral Collins stopped. Rollins and the other security officer paused as well.
“Ensign, does it bother you taking orders from a Maquis?”
“We don’t have any Maquis on board, sir. Voyager is a Starfleet ship.”
“Yes, but it must’ve have been difficult at the beginning,” the Admiral insisted.
“At the beginning, sir, we had to work together to survive,” Ensign Rollins smiled, “and afterwards, the Captain insisted that we be a ‘Fleet crew.”
“Insisting doesn’t make it so, Ensign.”
“You don’t know the Captain, sir, or you wouldn’t say that.”
There was no disrespect in the ensign’s tone or manner. He was simply stating a fact.
“I’m looking forward to meeting this captain of yours, son.”
“I sincerely hope you get the opportunity, sir.” For the first time, Rollins looked uncertain. “Admiral, may I ask if you have any news on the Captain’s condition?”
“I’m sorry, son. I don’t know any more than you.” Admiral Collins patted the ensign’s shoulder, “I have every confidence in your EMH and the other medical personnel.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, I do too.” The group moved off again. “This way, sir.”
There was a slight pause, “What the hell happened up there, Harry?”
“We picked up a drone hitchhiker somewhere in the hub.”
“Tom, do you know…”
“Not really, Harry. I only helped the Doc for a few minutes before the other medical personnel arrived. B’Elanna and I have come to our quarters to get out of their way,” another pause, this time B’Elanna spoke up.
“I think you better send someone to Chakotay. He looked pretty… upset.”
Seven looked up and caught Harry’s eye. She nodded and left the bridge.
“Someone’s on their way now, B’E.” Harry didn’t elaborate on whom that was. “The crew are apparently congregating in the Mess Hall… I think it’d be a good idea for a senior officer to be present.”
“Tom will be there in a few minutes, Harry.”
“Tom, the ship comes first, even when we’re home. Go.”
“Please, at ease everyone. Carry on.” He looked around the Bridge. “Who is in charge here?”
“That would be me, Admiral.” Harry Kim presented himself to the older man, “Ensign Harry Kim, sir. Welcome to Voyager.”
“Welcome home, son.” The admiral shook Harry’s hand. “Welcome home all of you,” he added looking around the Bridge.
“Thank you, sir.” Harry’s smile faltered. “Admiral, do you have any word on Captain Janeway?”
“Sorry, Mister Kim, I don’t have any news for you.” Harry just nodded in resignation.
“Care to give me a status report, Ensign?”
“Of course, sir. My apologies.” Harry stood at attention. “Voyager is secure. We have attained standard orbit. Several persons, including yourself have come aboard. Captain Janeway is in Sick Bay. Commander Chakotay is also in Sick Bay. The non-essential crew are assembling in the Mess Hall. Relief crews will be boarding in approximately forty five minutes.”
“Where is Commander Tuvok?”
“Mr Tuvok is in his quarters, sir. He was taken ill as we arrived in the Alpha Quadrant.”
“Thank you, Ensign. Carry on. I’m sure once head quarters has its jaw off the ground, they’ll be in touch with some orders for you,” The admiral turned back to Ensign Rollins. “Ensign, I would like to look around the ship and then talk to some of the crew.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry nodded to Rollins, who stepped forward. “I believe most of the crew are in the Mess Hall.”
“Aye, sir.” Rollins motioned towards the turbo lift, “if you’ll follow me, please, Admiral?”
The mood was somber and quiet in the Mess Hall. Tom didn’t think it had ever had this many people in it at one time or had it been so silent. It was yet another strange event in a totally strange day, he thought. When he’d first entered, all eyes had focused on him, some people with hopeful, yet scared, expressions.
“Sorry, everyone, I don’t have any news for you. Harry will let us know as soon as he gets any word from the Doc,” the crew acknowledged his comment, obviously disappointed, so he added, “I can tell you that Starfleet have sent an excellent medical team to help him, so the Captain’s in good hands.”
Paris received sincere but subdued congratulations from the crew as he mingled in the tightly packed room.
Chell was making coffee and tea while – in the tradition of Neelix – trying to be as positive as he could, but no one missed that his complexion looked an very un-Chell-like pale mauve.
“Admiral on deck!”
All present in the Mess Hall snapped to attention.
“Do you know, I think that’s the first time you’ve ever stood at attention for me, Tom?”
Old arguments and differences were put aside as father and son embraced.
“It’s wonderful to see you, son.” Paris looked around the room. “It’s wonderful to see all of you. Please, everyone, at ease.”
“Dad, do you have any news about the Captain?”
The admiral shook his head, “I’m sorry, Tom. I only just got here.” He looked around the gathering, “Where is your lovely wife?”
“I’ve got a bit of a surprise for you about that, actually.” Tom managed a small smile, “B’Elanna is in our quarters, sir. I’m sorry but I can’t take you there…I’m here as a senior officer at the moment and…”
His father beamed at him, obviously pleased at his son’s conscientiousness, but then was suddenly worried. “I hope B’Elanna wasn’t injured as well.”
“No, sir. She’s fine. Actually…” Tom considered for a moment, “Paris to Torres.”
“Yes, Tom? Do you know how the Captain is?”
“No, sorry.” Tom looked at his father, “B’Elanna, why don’t you join us in the mess hall? Use the transporters.”
“Tom, after I put Yosa on report last week for…”
“B’E, stand down. Have a look out the view port.”
“Oh, right. I guess I can relax rationing now. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Torres out.”
“She sounds like a fine Chief Engineer, son.”
“She’s the best.” Tom remembered his manners. “Admiral Paris, I’d like to present the majority of Voyager’s crew. Everyone, my dad.”
When Admiral Collins entered the Mess Hall, Admiral Paris was holding a baby and a Bolian officer was handing out sandwiches with the help of a small half-Katarian girl.
The crew, including the apronned Bolian and the little girl, snapped to attention and he waved them to be at ease with a smile.
“What have you got there, Owen?”
“Bud, I’d like you to meet my granddaughter, Miral, my son, Tom and my daughter-in-law, B’Elanna.” He inclined his head over his shoulder, “and this is the wonderful crew of Voyager.”
“Welcome home, everyone. It’s very good to see you all.”
The Bolian crewman wearing a floral apron appeared at his side and offered him coffee or tea.
Since Admiral Galloway had joined them, they had been mainly silent. They had been deep in a quiet conversation, holding hands, when he’d first arrived. The pair had strangely he thought, shaken hands, then embraced and pulled apart but remained sitting together as he took a seat with them after subdued introductions. Galloway didn’t even bother to try to imagine what it all meant.
When the Doctor looked over towards them and nodded, both Chakotay and Seven exhaled in relief.
“I believe the Doctor has just indicated that the Captain is out of danger.”
“Are you sure, my dear?” asked Galloway, almost as if he didn’t want to let himself believe it.
“Yes, Admiral. The Doctor knows that we appreciate being informed as soon as possible.” Seven confirmed.
“Then that’s wonderful news,” the admiral rubbed his eyes in relief. “Thank you.”
“Now, perhaps one of the medical personnel will see to Commander Chakotay’s injury.” Seven arose and made her way towards the medical staff.
“Seven, it’s fine, I’m…ah,” Chakotay made to stand but then quickly sat back down and Seven paused, raised an eyebrow and then continued on her quest for assistance.
Chakotay was clutching his lower back and again attempted to stand, this time slowly.
“Take it easy, son. Everything is under control.” Galloway placed his hand gently on Chakotay’s shoulder.
“I need to make sure the ship is secured, sir. The Captain will want…”
“She’ll want you looked after, son. The ship is fine, the crew is safe. Relax, your work is done.”
Reluctantly, Chakotay eased himself back into his chair.
The admiral looked up to see Seven talking to one of the medical assistants. The two women looked towards the office, had a short conversation and Seven returned to the office.
Both men looked up to her expectantly.
“Captain Janeway will recover. A member of the visiting medical team will be with you in two to three minutes, Commander.” Seven turned to Galloway. “Your staff is efficient and appreciated, Admiral.”
“Thank you, my dear.” Galloway smiled at her, “Your doctor is highly regarded, I know.”
“He is devoted to our well being,” stated Seven simply, “and especially to Captain Janeway.”
Within a few minutes, someone came in and scanned Chakotay, administering some treatment and obtaining an assurance that he would, “take it easy for a day or two”, the young woman then returned to the main Sick Bay area.
Chakotay stretched gingerly and, satisfied with the result, stood.
“Well, I really should get back to it now,” he took another glance towards the now relaxed activity and slapped his communicator. “Chakotay to the Bridge.”
“Commander, Ensign Kim here, sir,” Chakotay smiled at Harry’s perfect ‘by the book’ response, “may I ask how the Captain is?” Well, maybe not entirely perfect.
“I’m happy to report that she’s going to be fine.” In the background he could hear people making relieved comments and he thought he heard Baxter shout “Yes!”. Chakotay smiled. “How’s everything up there, Ensign?”
“We’re in standard orbit. Relief crew have come aboard, but I thought you should be here for the handover, sir. Most of the crew are in the Mess Hall. No further orders as yet.”
“Good work, Harry. I’ll be up in a few minutes for a full report.”
“Yes, sir. Kim out.”
Thoughts of Tuvok bought on a little stab of anxiety. She closed her eyes and concentrated. Was he injured too? She couldn’t remember how the hell she’d been hurt, let alone Tuvok’s condition. She paused and tried to think…Tuvok’s condition? Why did that thought make her feel ill?
Lifting her head slightly and adjusting her gaze, she was relieved to see no other patients in Sick Bay. Initial relief was then replaced with confusion.
There were two science officers at a far console. Not unexpected, except for the fact that neither were from her crew and both were wearing the new type of Starfleet uniform.
Great. Just great. She had a concussion again. Hallucinations would mean an extra day with ancient Italian opera and lectures about acceptable caffeine intake. Her head dropped back to her pillow.
She tried to remember how she’d been injured. The last memory she had was…was of Admiral Janeway…
They were home? Why was she in Sick Bay? Had something gone wrong?
“Ah, you’re awake.”
“There you are, Doctor Everett, you owe me dinner.” Before Janeway could point out that he was a hologram and he didn’t eat, the Doctor added, “Captain, the ship and crew are fine. How do you feel?”
“Like Voyager landed on me.” Janeway glanced at the Doctor and noticed he had two companions, both wearing white medical coats and trying to look calm and professional, but failing miserably. They actually looked thrilled. She closed her eyes against the bright Sick Bay glare.
“Well, yes, a headache and some minor inconveniences are to be expected after your little encounter.”
She cracked her eyes open and squinted towards the three again.
“What happened?” her eyes moved between the Doctor and his companions, “I’m assuming we’re back in the Alpha Quadrant?”
With that question all three lifted their tricorders and scanned her head. The flitting, flickering lights of their instruments danced around randomly in front of her eyes like demented fireflies. This only caused her to get angrier and with that, her head hurt more.
“Hmm, still some cranial swelling…”
“Not surprising that there’s a little residual amnesia…”
“No permanent damage though…”
“Blood pressure is a little high…”
“We can use the nano resonance scanner once we’re at Starfleet Medical…”
“I’ve heard about that in the last data stream, is it true that…”
“Stop!” All three froze at her tone, tricorders poised in mid air, all eyes concentrating on her face. The strangers looked slightly apprehensive. Her Doctor looked amused. “Doctor, are we home?”
All three answered with a smile.
Kathryn’s mouth opened to reply, but she couldn’t think of anything to say.
Home. They’d made it. Her last clear memory was that they could easily have wound up being assimilated or blown up.
“How is Mister Tuvok?”
The Doctor’s, her doctor’s, expression sobered. “His wife and several other family members are on a Starfleet vessel making best speed to Earth.” His tone softened as he knew how worried she would be about him. “They’ll be here in a week. He’ll be fine, I promise you.” He examined his tricorder. “I’m sure Commander Chakotay will be able to answer all your questions.”
“Thank you, Doctor…s. Perhaps we could call him?”
“Well, as it’s only 0200, I’m sure he’ll be asleep. He sustained a slight injury to his back while you both were wrestling our drone friend and he needed to rest.” He closed his tricorder with a triumphant snap and smiled his special smug smile that he used whenever he was about to attempt to do something that was going to annoy her. “And I’m afraid we need to sedate you to attend to your cranial swelling. We’ll call him as soon as you’re awake in the morning.”
Before she could demand that he call Harry or Tom instead, she felt the cold metal of the hypo and heard a slight hiss and she was asleep.
When Janeway next awoke, she at least knew where she was. Though her eyes were still closed, she could recognize the subtle whirs and beeps of the medical equipment. Finally, fully awake, she opened her eyes and tilted her head to the direction of the Doctor’s office. It wasn’t the Doctor, however, who was waiting for her to wake up.
“Hi, yourself. How are you feeling?”
“Much better, thank you. Have you managed to give the Doctor the slip?” she tried to see over Chakotay’s shoulder.
“No, he and his new best friends have started giving the crew their post mission physicals in their quarters. They’ve split up and should be finished by this evening.” Chakotay gave her a smile. “Do you need anything?”
“I think I’ve got everything I needed in the last few…” her brow creased in confusion, “er, how long?”
“It’s around 1400 now, so about twenty hours, which contained in there the longest few hours of my life. I forbid you to launch yourself at any more Borg drones twice your size.” He leaned forward and crossed his arms.
“I think it says ‘boss’ somewhere on my uniform, but in this case, I think I can safely promise you not to do it again.”
“You’re not wearing a uniform, so I’m the boss while you’re here,” he unfolded an arm and pointed at her, “so make sure you do.”
“What’s Voyager’s status?”
“Well, quite a bit has happened since you decided to laze around Sick Bay. The ship is overloaded with people. We’re like a big orbiting party.”
She smiled, relieved that things were going well.
“And your mother will be glad that you’re awake.”
“My mother?” Of course she’d be glad, but she must be worried. Although, surely Uncle Bob spared her mother the details about her injury.
Chakotay smiled, “She’s on board too. She spent the night in your quarters. She beamed aboard, as did some others, late last night. I think she’d only just left sick bay when you woke up earlier this morning.”
“My mom’s here? On board?” Kathryn’s eyes were suddenly very bright.
“Yep, Voyager’s full to the brim with people. Naomi’s father is among them.”
“Can we call her now? Please?”
“Of course.” He grinned at her obvious excitement and tapped his communicator. “Chakotay to Gretchen.”
“Yes, sweetheart? Is…”
“Yes, ma’am, Kathryn is awake and asking for you.”
“I’ll be right there!”
It seemed like only seconds later that Gretchen Janeway came running through the Sick Bay doors.
“Baby, welcome home.”
“Mom…” was all Janeway could manage in reply.
Chakotay was about to move away and give them a bit of privacy.
“Oh no, stay with us, Chakotay. You’re family too.” Gretchen reached out and grabbed his arm. “Once you’re on your feet and…did Chakotay tell you about the plans…well, anyway, once you’re well enough, you can both come home to Indiana. He’s as sweet and charming as you told me.” She finished, triumphantly.
It took Kathryn a moment to react to her mother’s statement, knowing what she’d shared in some of her letters home. Oh-oh. “Mom…”
“Good morning, Mrs Janeway. I told you your daughter would be fine.” The Doctor suddenly appeared with them and he looked back to Janeway and scowled. “Captain, you will remain here for at least another hour or so, and no arguments.” He anticipated the objection. “Before you say anything, I now have the support of the Admiralty, not to mention your mother, so at last I can insist on you looking after yourself.”
Kathryn found herself torn between an urge to decompile the Doctor’s program, talk to her mother and wanting to escape completely.
At that moment, Chakotay was called to the Bridge and turned to leave. “Er, I’ll join you in your quarters as soon as I can, Captain.”
“Now, I understand that you want to catch up with your mother, but I need to just perform a few more tests.” The Doctor turned to Gretchen, “Mrs Janeway may I ask you to give me just thirty more minutes and then she’s all yours again.”
“Of course, Doctor. You’ve done a wonderful job. Thank you so much. I’ll go and have a late lunch with some of your lovely crew.” Kissing her her daughter on the cheek. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, darling. Be good for the Doctor, won’t you? Do everything he says.”
“Ah, Mrs Janeway,” the Doctor sighed dramatically, “if only you’d been in the Delta Quadrant with us.”
It was quite a surprise when the Doctor allowed her to return to her own quarters. Janeway was only slightly annoyed that it very much appeared that the Doctor and her mother had come to an ‘arrangement’. But, if it meant escaping from Sick Bay, then she was prepared to endure their conspiracy. Her mother was obviously the best thing to happen to the Doctor in seven years.
“How are you feeling, darling?” her mother asked, as Janeway gently lowered herself onto the sofa.
“Much better now that I’m in my own quarters.”
“Well, you can be in your own bed in Indiana, tomorrow night, Kathryn.” Gretchen beamed at her. “I can’t wait.”
“Mom, I don’t know…”
At that moment the door chime sounded and Gretchen bid the visitor to enter It was Chakotay.
“I just dropped by the see how you both were doing.” Chakotay smiled at Gretchen and then looked to Kathryn. “Do you need anything done, Kathryn?”
“A situation report perhaps, but I know you’ve got everything under control.”
Gretchen wrapped her arm around Chakotay’s waist. “Oh, he certainly has, darling.” She gave him a squeeze. “Robert said that Chakotay and the rest of the crew are a credit to you.”
Janeway was a bit startled that her mother had discussed her crew with her uncle, but she smiled at her first officer and said, “I think my crew make me look good. It’s why I keep them,” with a wink to Chakotay.
“Well, I think they’re all lovely,” said Gretchen. “Anyway, relax, honey.” Gretchen ushered Chakotay to the sofa next to her daughter. “Sit down here and we’ll have something nice to eat and a cup of coffee. You must have nothing in your tummy…” Gretchen stopped and looked stricken and let out a little sob.
“Mom, I’m fine now. Really. But…”
“Yes, you are fine. Thank goodness.” Gretchen made her way to the replicator. “Now, let’s see if this object can give us something edible. I’m assuming the coffee will be drinkable?”
“Just.” Janeway leaned back, “Mom, there’s something you need to know…”
“Now, darling, there’s nothing to worry about, really. Once you’re settled at home, we can have a long talk.” Gretchen placed a small coffee and a plate of toast in front of her daughter and made her way back to the replicator. “The Doctor said nothing too heavy for a day or two,” she added by way of an explanation of the meager offering. “It’s going to be wonderful. Phoebe is on her way home and will be joining us tomorrow.” She returned and placed a cup of tea in front of Chakotay who was still enjoying watching the two women.
Janeway was distracted by her mother’s assertion that she would be allowed to go home straight away. Imagining how some of her more dubious decisions, details of which she had sent back in the data exchanges, would be greeted by those back in the Alpha Quadrant. She thought it much more likely that she, at least, would be spending some time explaining, probably from the brig or New Zealand.
“What do you mean you’re not sure…haven’t you been told about tomorrow?”
Chakotay smiled at the sight of Gretchen Janeway. She was standing in front of her daughter with her hands on her hips. Maybe it was genetic. He’d always thought that Kathryn was impressive, but her mother was truly imposing.
“Tomorrow?” The younger Janeway looked towards Chakotay, who opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Gretchen .
“I don’t believe it.” Gretchen reached over and smacked Chakotay’s comm badge. “Janeway to Admiral Galloway.”
Chakotay looked across to Janeway. “I always thought you got it from your father,” he whispered. Janeway shrugged in reply.
“Yes, Gretchen, how can I…”
“Don’t you ‘Gretchen’ me, Robert, you targ. Get yourself here this instant.”
“I’m just in a meeting…”
Janeway could hear the muffled laughter in the background and rubbed her forehead wondering vaguely if her mother had just added five years to her sentence. She looked at Chakotay through narrowed eyes. He was enjoying this way too much. As he realized that she was glaring at him, he tried to hide his glee at her discomfort with her mother.
“I don’t give a damn where the hell you are, get your fat butt to Kathryn’s quarters this minute.”
Now the laughing in the background was loud and raucous.
Janeway’s head fell in her hands and Chakotay heard a faint “Oh god” and tried to comfort her with a small pat on the shoulder while trying to achieve a more neutral expression on his face.
“I’ll be with you shortly, Gretchen.” The connection was closed.
“Mom.” Janeway made a token effort to speak to her mother.
“I can’t believe that you haven’t been informed.” Chakotay’s enjoyment evaporated when Gretchen wheeled on him. “Weren’t you supposed to keep her apprised?”
“Um, well, I just…” Chakotay thought that the older Janeway was much more formidable than the younger. He silently marveled to himself that this was even possible.
“Mom.” Janeway almost pleaded.
“Yes, well, anyway, once Robert explains everything, I’ll have to return home to get things ready for you. I can’t leave Martha in charge of the food or all that will be in the house will be beer and chips.”
“She sure can, but actually surviving them is the tricky part.”
Both Janeways smiled, obviously sharing an Aunt Martha memory.
“I haven’t had a beer, or chips, in seven years.” Janeway added with a wistful sigh.
“I’ll make sure that we have some as well as real food, darling, but,” Gretchen started collecting her few things she had bought with her, “there’s no way I’ll allow Martha to be left to organize your party.”
“Right, about time. Now, explain about tomorrow.” Gretchen grabbed Chakotay’s arm and pulled him to his feet, “Kathryn eat your toast and we’ll be back in half an hour, or so. Chakotay,” she placed her arm through his, “buy me a coffee in the mess hall.”
Janeway and Galloway watched the pair leave.
“I hope your first officer will be all right.” Galloway laughed.
“Sir,” Janeway wasn’t enjoying her mother’s antics perhaps as much as she usually might. “My apologies for…”
Galloway waved her exclamations away.
“Don’t worry, I’m used to it.” Galloway smiled at her and sat beside her on the couch, “Anyway, tomorrow. Long story short…a very brief welcome home ceremony, brief at the insistence of your doctor, then you’ll be on your way home for a least a week. Your injury has given Star Fleet the opportunity to get over the shock and sort themselves out before your debriefing.”
“What about my crew? I have to ensure that they’ll be…”
“Kathryn, after the display they put on, you have nothing to worry about. I assure you.”
Admiral Galloway shifted on the couch so that he was looking directly at her.
“Do you know what happened when you were injured?” Janeway shrugged and shook her head. “Your crew were amazing. Your first officer and Lieutenant Ayala looked after you, both ex-Maquis, I might add. An ensign took command, after making sure that Commander Tuvok was taken care of. Your ex-Borg took over tactical. Then, Ayala was in charge of the Transporter Room as well as accepting all the visitors. Did you know that he followed Starfleet protocol to the letter?”
Kathryn smiled but shook her head again.
“Admiral Bailey told him not to bother with a security detail and that he knew his way around, Lieutenant Ayala just nodded, said ‘yes, sir’ and allocated a standard two person team to accompany him. And that was just one example. I have to tell you that the Federation as well as the Starfleet representatives watched everything and were mightily impressed with them all. All lingering doubts have been well and truly set aside. I think Bailey wants to offer Ayala a job, if Collins doesn’t get him first.”
“I had no idea, but I’m not surprised, sir.” Janeway tried to find a comfortable way to sit up straighter. “Commander Chakotay and the other ex-Maquis are fine officers.” Not being able to find a good way to sit up straight, Janeway leaned back again.
“They are indeed. You should have seen Chakotay demanding transport for Tuvok to meet his family. It seemed illogical when his family were only a few days away anyway. I think any doubts about Maquis/Starfleet relations were put to bed right then.”
“Kathryn, Tuvok was the spy who infiltrated Chakotay’s cell.”
“God, I’d forgotten,” she rubbed the back of her neck,”well, not forgotten, but it seems so long ago and Chakotay and Tuvok are such a formidable team. Especially when they gang up on me.”
“Yes, well, Chakotay asked the Doctor if he should expedite Tuvok’s access to his family and the Doctor said yes and the next thing Chakotay is insisting on his transport to their ship as soon as possible.” Galloway laughed, “He was very forceful although not raising his voice or threatening. Everyone has been extremely impressed by him.”
“He’s the finest officer I’ve ever served with, sir. They’re all fine people. I’ve been worried about their reception.”
“Well, don’t. Your whole crew will be welcomed with open arms, my dear.”
“That’s a huge relief, sir.” Janeway relaxed back into the couch and then another thing occurred to her. “So, why aren’t they all down on Earth meeting their families?” Janeway asked.
Galloway helped with some cushions and made her more comfortable.
“Ah, well, that’s an interesting story.” The admiral took her hand, “Admiral Pilon announced that disembarkation would start this afternoon, but then Crewman er, Harris, is it…?”
“A bit abrasive?”
Janeway winced and nodded.
“Yes, that’d be him. Well, he told Admiral Pilon that they didn’t abandon a member of their crew and that they wouldn’t leave without you.” Galloway laughed, but Janeway looked horrified.
“Oh, no.” She paled. “he didn’t?”
“He sure did. And every crew member, both Starfleet and Maquis, backed him up.”
Janeway’s eyes widened with alarm. “Sir, I hope you don’t…”
“Relax, Katie. Jack was delighted. Honestly, I haven’t heard one bad word from anyone since you got back. Everyone is singing the praises of your crew. Owen Paris said that he went down and visited the Mess Hall to talk to the crew, and not one person, ‘Fleet or Maquis, asked about what was going to happen to them but they were most concerned with your well being.”
“They’re an exceptional crew, sir. The best. Every one of them.”
“I can see that, my dear,” he leaned in and whispered, “and they’re devoted you.” He patted her knee. “I’d better get back.”
“Sir, I’m sorry that Mom…”
“It’s fine, Katie. I was actually at the Officer’s Club. But please don’t tell your mother that,” he said with a smile. “See you tomorrow at the ceremony.”
Janeway leaned back into the sofa, relaxing properly she thought to herself, for the first time in seven years. Relief and happiness washed over her and she almost felt the need to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Just to be totally sure, she tapped the back of her hand like Chakotay had described to her when he explained his lucid dreaming. She chuckled to herself at the action and the result.
It was all real and it was more than she had ever allowed herself to hope for during the journey. The crew were safe and Voyager was back in the Alpha Quadrant. It was more than a dream come true.
The door slid open and her mother, trailed by Chakotay, bustled through.
“I saw Robert leaving. All clear now, darling?”
“Yes, Mom, it’s wonderful,” Janeway met Chakotay’s gaze. “Everyone is going to be just fine, thank goodness.”
Gretchen joined her daughter on the sofa, putting her arm around her and holding her close.
“It’s so wonderful to have you home, Kathryn.”
Chakotay marveled at Kathryn Janeway being held like a child and not protesting.
“Kind of a dream come true for me, Mom,” Janeway replied in a shuddering whisper.
“For all of us, darling.” Gretchen gave her daughter another hug and stood up. “Well, I’d better get back to Indiana unless we want nothing but beer and nuts. You have a relaxing night’s sleep and take it easy, won’t you? I’ll be back first thing in the morning for the ceremony and to bring you home.”
“I think it’ll be the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years.”
Gretchen leaned down and kissed her daughter’s head. “So, anything special you’d like, besides caramel brownies?” She laughed at the look of delight on both Kathryn and Chakotay’s faces. “Can I make an engagement cake?”
“For you and Chakotay.” Gretchen explained as it if was obvious.
“We’re not engaged, Mom, but…”
“Well, of course, you couldn’t while on the mission, but now…”
“Mom, please,” Janeway interrupted, “please!” Gretchen stopped and looked at her daughter, “Mom, Chakotay is in a relationship with Seven. He doesn’t…we’re not…” Janeway ineffectively waved her arms between herself and her first officer.
“Oh, but in your letters you said you loved him. You said he completed you.”
Janeway winced. Her humiliation complete.
“I did, yes. But he doesn’t…Mom. We’re not together. We’ve never been together.” Janeway glanced at her mother’s face. “I’m sorry.”
Gretchen looked stricken. “Oh, Kathryn, Chakotay. I’m so sorry. You’re both just so…I mean to see you together…” her mouth snapped shut. “I hope you’ll forgive me?”
Both Janeway and Chakotay gave her a weak smile.
“I hate to leave you like this, after putting my foot in it so badly, but I really must return home to get the house organized.” She rallied a little as she made her way to the door. “Chakotay, I hope you’ll forgive an old woman. Of course, you’re still very welcome to join us tomorrow at the house and stay as long as you want, right Kathryn?”
“Absolutely,” she said but the one word answer was all Kathryn could manage.
“Well, I’ll leave you in Chakotay’s capable hands.” Gretchen kissed her daughter and Chakotay before heading for the door. “Kathryn remember not to overdo it, won’t you darling? We don’t want your first real day at home to be in hospital.”
“I promise, Mom.”
Gretchen seemed satisfied with this promise, giving them a little wave as she went out the door, “See you in a couple of hours.”
“Kathryn, is all that true?” Chakotay’s voice was barely above a whisper. Janeway guessed that he was incredibly angry and hurt.
“Yes,” she owed him the truth. “I’m so very sorry, Chakotay. I never imagined that Mom would construe we had a romantic relationship.”
“I had no idea.” He shook his head. “None.”
“You weren’t supposed to. It wouldn’t have been fair to you because I could never do anything about my feelings out there.” Janeway was almost afraid to ask him, “Chakotay, can you ever forgive me? The last thing I would ever want to do is to hurt you or Seven in any way.”
Whether it was a side effect of her injury or just dread, but Chakotay’s continued silence was terrifying her and her body ached in response. She suddenly felt cold and clammy.
“I’m so sorry.” She thought she was going to either cry or throw up. “Chakotay, I know you’ve moved on.” He still hadn’t said anything.
Her face felt hot, but not from embarrassment. Now she knew. She was going to throw up.
“Help me,” she said. It must’ve been the tone or the words, but Chakotay snapped out of his reverie.
“Sick. Bathroom.” She didn’t want to risk opening her mouth anymore than necessary.
Of course, she knew he’d help her, but she was a little surprised when he scooped her up off the sofa and carried her to the bathroom and then set her down gently.
As she lost the small amount of food and coffee that she had just consumed, she thought that Chakotay had left her. Well, she’d declared that she loved him and had then been sick in the toilet. That would be enough to drive most people away.
The warm dressing gown that was gently placed around her hunched shoulders made her remember, yet again, why she’d blabbed to her mother. The feeling of his hand gently rubbing in slow circles on her back almost made her swoon and, despite feeling dreadful, she reveled in the warmth of his touch.
“I called the Doctor.” Of course he had. “He said some nausea was to be expected, but he’ll bring around something for you.” The chime announced that the Doctor and, Janeway suspected, no doubt his two new shadows had just arrived.
Expecting to have a crowd join her in her own bathroom did not excite her and she prepared to get rid of them as soon as possible. But it was only Chakotay who returned, with a hypospray. He showed it to her, with a gesture asking permission to administer it. Janeway leaned her head to the side to give him access.
“Thanks,” was about all she could manage. She was so very tired and sad.
“Let’s get you cleaned up a bit and you can relax like you’re supposed to.”
He helped her up and supported her at the sink while she freshened herself up. She turned and he handed her a towel. As she took it, he picked her up again and she and the towel were again in the living area. She was too tired and heartsick to object.
“The Doctor suggested that some ginger tea may help, can I get you one?”
“Thank you, tea would be about all I could manage, I think.”
“I’ll join you.” He patted her knee and went to the replicator.
“Kathryn, I’ll be honest with you,” Chakotay didn’t look at her but stared at her coffee mug, “I’d given up on there ever being an ‘us’. I had tried to move on.”
It was as though he had summarized what she knew, but always tried to ignore, in her fantasies. To hear him actually verbalize it hurt more than any injury the Borg drone had inflicted on her. She almost smiled at the irony. It was a Borg drone that had hurt her so badly, after all.
“I wouldn’t ever want to…”
“I thought I was over you,” Chakotay interrupted, running his hand through his hair, “but when that drone hurt you, I…” he struggled for a moment and then seemed to regain his poise. “I realized I was still in love with you. Seven and I ended our…relationship while you were in Sick Bay.”
“Do you know, this is the second time today I’ve thought I was dreaming?”
“All good things, I hope.”
They sat in silence and finished their tea. Chakotay put his arm around her and she leaned into him.
“Thank you for looking after Tuvok.”
“The Doctor hinted that the sooner he met his family, the better.”
“He’s…the Vulcan version of upset…he took your getting hurt very hard. He hadn’t scanned for intruders. An oversight that seems to be a symptom of his neurological disorder.” She looked surprised at Tuvok confiding that information. Chakotay smiled sadly, “He told me when he advised that he should be put in the brig for dereliction of duty. I’ve never seen him like that. The Doctor thinks it was the stress of the situation that brought on the symptoms.”
“Thank you for insisting he meet T’Pel early.”
“It’s what you would’ve done,” he said simply. “I spoke to T’Pel and she assured me that he would be fine and that she would contact you with progress reports.”
“Good. Thank you, Chakotay. I’m sorry I haven’t been around to help you with everything. Are you okay, the Doctor said you were hurt?”
“I’m fine. We’re all fine, now.” Chakotay smiled at her. “You gave us quite a scare.”
“Sorry about that. What happened to the drone?”
“Unfortunately, he had to be deactivated.” He knew that she would hope that the drone could’ve been rescued, like Seven.
She nodded in understanding.
“No more business tonight. Let’s just relax for a change.”
“I’m all for that.”
He woke first and smiled when he looked down and saw her hand clutching his t-shirt as if to ensure he couldn’t leave without her.
“Morning,” her eyes weren’t open and her voice was gravelly. He loved it. Her. Everything about it.
She snuggled even closer, still grasping his shirt and kissed his jaw.
“Do you know, I’ve got all that I’ve wished for in the last two days?”
“Except for the Borg drone.”
“Well, yes, I could’ve skipped that bit, but everything else has been… just perfect.”
“Paris to Janeway.”
Chakotay sighed and muttered several curses. Janeway nudged him with her knee, but didn’t release her hold.
“Janeway here, Mr Paris. What can I do for you?”
“We were wondering if you’re up to visitors this morning, Captain? B’Elanna and I have someone to introduce to you.”
She raised herself slightly to glance at her bedside clock.
“Give us an hour, Tom and then come on by. I’m looking forward to seeing you all.”
“Yes, ma’am! Paris out.” They heard B’Elanna’s laugh before the connection was closed.
“Kathryn, you realize what you just said? To Tom.”
“They’re our family, Chakotay. And we’re home.”
“Who are you, and what have you done with Captain Protocol Janeway?”
“She’s gone. So there’s just me. Kathryn Janeway. Scared?”
She laughed and kissed him.
“You should be.” She kissed him again. “Now, unless you want to share everything with our family, we should get up and get dressed. It’s going to be a big day.”
It seemed to Chakotay like Janeway was holding court in her quarters, as a constant stream of people made brief visits to assure themselves that she was well before they all left the ship. The Doctor had given strict instructions about the allowable duration of visits and they complied, simply pleased to see her looking so well and happy.
Janeway had also given Chakotay strict instructions not to move too far from her side and he happily sat next to her on the sofa as she admired and adored Miral and enjoyed all the other visits. Seven had been uncharacteristically emotional and smiled almost as much as Harry Kim. Naomi had come by with Mike Ayala and was quite subdued until she explained about finally meeting her father. When Janeway had invited them all to Indiana for the party, Naomi’s exuberance returned.
“I think I’m okay,” Janeway came out of her bedroom carrying boots and socks but in uniform. “Just a bit tender.”
He took the shoes from her and motioned her towards a chair.
“Let me help with them.”
Kneeling in front of her, he put on her socks and boot, holding up the other boot, shaking his head.
“You should’ve replicated some flatter heels to be more comfortable, Kathryn.”
“It’s not as though we have to conserve rations now,” he said as he put the other boot on.
“Chakotay,” she placed her hand on his shoulder, and he looked up, “Chakotay, thank you.”
He made to stand, “I’ll just give them a bit of a buff.”
“Chakotay. Stop.” He looked up a little nervously, “I want to thank you for the last seven years. We couldn’t have made it without you. It’s been the highlight of my career and life to have served with you and there’s no one I respect more,” she cupped his face in her hand. “Kathryn Janeway loves and respects you but Captain Janeway depends upon you, admires you and would be less of an officer without you.”
“Thank you to both Kathryn and Captain Janeway. I feel the same way about both of you. And I love your mother too.”
He offered her his hand and she stood with a grimace.
“Yeah, well, Phoebe could be another kettle of Janeway, so don’t get cocky.”
It had taken them a bit longer than they’d thought as Janeway was a bit inconvenienced by her all too recent injuries.
As they approached the open doors, the expectant hum of the waiting crew could be heard and Chakotay gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
They stopped just before the door and Chakotay looked to her thinking something was wrong.
Janeway was brushing invisible lint from her jacket. “Do I look okay? Is my uniform…”
The question died on her lips as Gretchen Janeway’s voice came from just inside the open door.
“The problem with your plan, Tom, was that it was too subtle.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” scoffed B’Elanna.
“Hey!” Tom didn’t sound too upset. “Anyway, I can’t afford to upset her. She’s already demoted me once.”
“I thought she showed enormous restraint. I usually want to hit you over the head with a batleth.”
Gretchen laughed, “Oh, B’Elanna, Kathryn must love you.”
“Well, I’m not sure Mrs Janeway. I’ve done plenty to deserve a bit of batlething myself.”
“Nonsense, my dears. Kathryn is very much like her father and he always appreciated someone with spunk.”
“Anyway, you’re a master, Mrs Janeway. You got them together in a few hours and I tried for years.”
“Yeah, you’re too subtle, Tom.” They could hear the amusement and sarcasm in B’Elanna’s tone.
As they moved to the side, the door closed and Kathryn and Chakotay just looked at each other, stunned.
“We’ve been had.”
“I’m outraged,” Chakotay laughed, his eyes sparkling in amusement.
“Well, I’ll be damned. You’d think that I’d be more aware. I mean, I’ve known her all my life.” Janeway shook her head in mock disgust.
“You’re not really upset, are you?”
“No, but I’ll have to get her back somehow.” Chakotay could see the wheels turning in her head, “I need Phoebe.”
“You’ll be seeing her very soon.”
Kathryn almost broke down. “Yes, we will. It’s so wonderful, isn’t it?”
“Wonderful.” He agreed.
Janeway straightened up as much as she could and pulled down on her uniform tunic. “Okay, we’ll deal with my mother when we get to Indiana.” She nodded at the Cargo Bay doors and gave him a radiant smile. “But first, Commander, let’s get this crew home.”