Signature
by Myu

Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager and everything associated with it is owned by CBS/Paramount.
Notes: Originally written for VAMB's Secret Santa 2013 for Madzilla, who requested a post-series J/C story. Post-Endgame - after being released from Starfleet Security, Chakotay resolves to find Janeway and tell her how he feels.
Rating: General/PG - slight trigger warning here (highlight to read):
brief mention of Borg baby death
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Chakotay walked through the dingy corridors and didn't bother to make small talk with the officer escorting him. Over the last few months in the Starfleet security building there had been far too many awkward, one-sided conversations and he was through with trying to be civil. He stepped out into the sunshine, and the breath he let out exhaled more than air after months of being grilled and cross-examined.

He had been made to account for every aspect of his Maquis past in such minute detail that the minor and major charges blurred together and it was all a mass of incidents without colour or distinction anymore. He couldn't quite seem to make them understand that he was probably more 'Starfleet' now than he ever had been, but then the personnel didn't seem to be particularly interested in responding to anything he said; all they were focused on was squeezing every last insignificant memory from him about a part of his past that he didn't associate himself with that closely anymore. The decision to release him had come as something of a surprise, and Chakotay had to read the official documents later to have an inkling of why they'd done it. He had skimmed the statement and found he couldn't take many of the words in, but had the strong feeling that someone had intervened on his behalf and suspected he knew exactly who.

Chakotay strode slowly through the grounds of Starfleet Headquarters, suddenly unsure of what he should do or where he should go. He had been assigned some temporary quarters, but one glance at the address told him they were located in the accommodation buildings by the Academy complex and the prospect of sharing a floor with young cadets wasn't that appealing. Instead he made his way over to a small coffee shop and used an information terminal there to access his personal database and communications. He scrolled through the list of messages, looking for a familiar name. When the one he wanted to see didn't appear, he opened up the comm system on the terminal to call Tom and B'Elanna. When an excited-sounding B'Elanna answered, he felt his mood begin to lift.
Come over, she had demanded before he could make an awkward request, and he made his way to the nearest transport point.

Chakotay was greeted warmly at Tom and B'Elanna's house on the other side of San Francisco, and found his cheeks hurting from smiling too hard and his voice hoarse from talking and laughing – something he hadn't done properly in too long.
"Thanks for all this," He told B'Elanna over dinner.
"For what?" B'Elanna replied, slightly distracted. At that moment she was trying to give a bottle to an indifferent Miral with little success.
"You two – you three," He made a face at Miral and received a gummy grin in response, "I've hardly had a single person smile at me in the past few months."
"I know what that's like," Tom remarked sympathetically, "Just try living with B'Elanna."
"Hey..." B'Elanna warned, and turned back to the baby.
Chakotay put his cutlery to one side and thought of the last time they had all been together.
"Have you seen anyone else from Voyager recently?"
"Harry comes by occasionally," Tom said, and counted off a few others. B'Elanna chimed in, but it wasn't quite the answer Chakotay was looking for.
"What about Kathryn?"
"Captain Janeway? No...I haven't heard anything." B'Elanna said, setting the empty bottle down. Tom lifted the wriggling infant from B'Elanna's lap and untied her splattered, stained bib.
"Nothing?"
Tom and B'Elanna exchanged a glance. Looking back to Chakotay, the young half-Klingon shrugged and was very matter-of-fact.
"Nope. Are you ready for dessert?"
"Sure," He said, wondering why the two of them seemed so unaffected.

"You seemed surprised back then – when we said we hadn't heard from the Captain." B'Elanna said later, after they had cleared everything away. Tom was in the house putting the baby down for a nap and he and B'Elanna were sitting out on the small patio to the rear of the house. Since they had returned to Earth Chakotay had tried to spend time outside every day, even though that had largely meant standing on a secured terrace at Starfleet Security surrounded by a forcefield.
"I suppose I was," Chakotay said simply, "I just thought we'd all have kept in touch."
He had forgotten how sharp B'Elanna was; how she picked up on small details and committed them to memory. It was something of great value to her as an engineer, but could be both useful and a little annoying in a social context.
"We didn't know her like you did, Chakotay. Captain Janeway...Captain," She pronounced, " – that's what she was to me. She was our superior, our leader."
"Not like me," Chakotay replied wryly.
"I didn't mean that," B'Elanna said, frowning, "For me Captain Janeway was more...distant, I guess. I respected her, and I'm happy to hear about how she's doing, but I don't expect her to drop by my house and offer to babysit. You know as well as I do that you dealt with the crew much more closely than she did. Besides, I've known you for much longer and your command style in the Maquis was a lot different. "

Chakotay fell silent, and B'Elanna gave him a sideways look. She exhaled loudly.
"Chakotay, you have got to get rid of this chip in your shoulder about the Maquis defectors. It wasn't anything to do with you or your abilities."
"Uh-huh," Chakotay answered with heavy irony.
"Look, Tom was young. He was an idiot – even he'll admit that – and I think the reason he hardly ever talks about it is because he's ashamed. Tuvok was under orders and was only doing his job; you're not to blame for him excelling at everything except cracking a joke. Seska fooled everyone, including me. Even Tuvok didn't suspect her before we blew her cover on Voyager, and you know he notices everything even if he doesn't act on it. You're a good leader, Chakotay – you just got really unlucky."
Chakotay shrugged half-heartedly, and she continued:
"I liked that you were my friend, but that didn't stop me from respecting the authority you had as first officer. Just because you connected more with people doesn't mean you were any less of a leader. I knew I had the Captain's support, but there had to be that distance between the two of us for it to work. I think that was pretty typical for everyone who served under her – you and Tuvok were the exceptions. I kind of thought that if we hadn't been in the Delta Quadrant then you and she would have been...closer than you already were." B'Elanna let the words hang in the air, and didn't look to him for a response.
"I miss her." Chakotay said honestly.
"So go and tell her that," B'Elanna retorted, nudging him with her elbow.

B'Elanna's words stayed with him as he made his way back to his temporary quarters and, after unpacking a few essentials from his packing crates and deciding to leave the rest, he sat with a hot drink and looked out at the night sky. There was hardly a star to be seen above the lights of the city skyline, but the unfamiliar urban landscape seemed to buzz with life and activity and it was odd to think there were so many humans – or at least Alpha Quadrant species – nearby and to know that they were mostly strangers. It was almost the polar opposite of Voyager, where he could probably have found his way round blindfolded and knew everyone by face, if not by name. While there had certainly been no shortage of contact with aliens, with every new species they had to introduce themselves, explain their circumstances and be regarded as cultural oddities when they visited new planets. On Earth he realised he could walk down the street and be completely anonymous, but not see any species he hadn't encountered before. San Francisco was vaguely familiar in some ways, but it wouldn't have taken much for him to lose his way in the bustling streets and the thought of getting lost was a little unnerving, to say the least.

Across the street one of the Starfleet administrative buildings stood tall. Most of the rooms were dark, but there were a lone few illuminated windowpanes and he could see heads bent over desks studiously and the odd officer approaching the door or the replicator. He thought of the many instances when he and Kathryn had spent hours locked in in his office or her ready room, and the long nights where there had been some plan to work out or a backlog of reports to catch up on. He looked down at the untouched mug in his hand and realised that he didn't really want the tea that much; he had only replicated it out of habit because Kathryn was rarely more than arm's length away from a cup of coffee. He imagined Kathryn similarly hunched over a desk somewhere as the dregs of a cafetiιre grew cold beside her, and there was a slight ache in his chest. During his time at Security Chakotay had often thought of his friends from Voyager and wondered how they were doing, but it wasn't until then that he quite realised how keen he was to see Kathryn and how affected he was when she wasn't present in his life.

After every significant event on the ship he and Kathryn had had a chance to clear up, have everything sink in and then analyse the situation thoroughly, but that was something that was horribly absent from that final all-guns-blazing approach they'd taken when the opportunity to get home arose. The Admiral Janeway of the future had barged into their timeline, their ship and their lives without invitation and after a period of conflict they had reached a compromise with her, but Chakotay has barely had time to raise any kind of objection or really process it properly. Now he felt like the Admiral had forced the turn of fate somehow and it seemed wrong, like she had reached out for the hands of time and wrenched them back a few notches. After her arrival he remembered being inherently confused, for some reason, and felt his opinion changing about a few things. He had been consciously trying to loosen up a bit beforehand and was trying to let go of aspects of the past, then he was suddenly uncomfortable about having had a few dates with Seven and realised he had to put a stop to it before it could go any further. Then before he'd been able to digest any of that they had engaged with the Borg, were hurtling across space and everything about that complicated time was exploding around them. They rode the shockwave to the Alpha Quadrant and were met by a massive fleet of Federation vessels in battle formation, and then in the aftermath of the speed and shouts, the fire and force, the action and adrenaline...a quiet com message announced their arrival and a tiny baby was born.

Chakotay had no memory of anything that happened next until the crew were all trooping down the corridors to disembark from the ship. He had wanted to talk to Kathryn about something familiar to ground their experience, but the sole thing he could think to mention was that the only other time they had ever made the trip down the decks all together was when Seska took over Voyager with the Kazon and abandoned the crew on a barren planet a couple of years into their journey. It hardly seemed the appropriate time to bring that particular incident up, so he remained silent. While the department heads were making sure the crew were all accounted for, Kathryn pulled Chakotay aside and spoke to him, her words quick and her voice a little breathless:
"Once we get back to Headquarters I expect I'll be in debriefings for weeks – maybe even months, and we're probably going to be separated. But afterwards..."
Chakotay nodded dumbly. The docking doors began to open, and she threw a worried glance over her shoulder.
"...come and find me," She said hurriedly, and squeezed his arm before turning and standing to attention for the mass of Starfleet officials...

Chakotay thought over her words as he went to bed and lay awake gazing out of the windows in his San Francisco quarters, wondering if Kathryn knew where he was and that he had been released from Security. It seemed odd that she hadn't tried to send him a message, and he couldn't help but wonder if there was a reason for that.
He thought of something that his sister Sekaya had said a couple of weeks back. He had been allowed to speak to her a few times while at Starfleet and found out that she was working on a remote planet which was difficult to get to on standard transports, so they had agreed to meet up once her project was finished.
"Everyone keeps asking me about you," Sekaya had said, smiling, "Have you had many requests from journalists for your story?"
"I don't know; I haven't been allowed to access my messages," Chakotay replied, "I'd rather leave that to Kathryn, though – she was the one who got us through it."
She gave him a sharp look.
"You know, Chakotay, I was reading that people rarely survive difficult experiences independently. In life-or-death situations it's mostly been pairs or groups that come through."
"That's different."
"Same principle, though," Sekaya shot back, "I know you weren't constantly fighting for your lives out there, but I'm sure she wouldn't agree with you that she was the most important one. It's happened throughout history, particularly in situations where people have been held captive over a long period – you might find that one person ultimately survives, but they usually had a friend or group of comrades and they looked out for each other; gave each other something to fight for and to live for."
"That's interesting," Chakotay had admitted, thinking of the times he and Kathryn had clashed and how utterly desolate everything had seemed during those incidents. It felt like there had been a few too many times where he had had to remind or reassure Kathryn that she wasn't alone; it was something she seemed to have had difficulty accepting and he wasn't entirely sure why.

Chakotay rose early the next morning and left the building for a walk around the grounds. The few people he saw were officers stifling yawns and cadets out jogging – some setting out looking bright-eyed and sprightly; others returning to the building drenched in sweat. They all seemed to travel in pairs or groups, although they all varied to some extent: there were couples dressed in matching outfits; girls with identical high ponytails and determined frowns; groups utterly mismatched in terms of age and body type; officers striding along clutching padds and chatting to each other. After walking for about half an hour the sun was higher in the sky and he could see more officers heading purposefully between the administrative buildings, so he guessed the workday was getting underway. He had looked up Kathryn on the Starfleet contact list before going to bed and found that her office was less than a ten-minute walk away from his quarters.

It didn't take him long to find the right building and he didn't have any trouble finding the rooms she had been allocated. The main door opened onto a smallish kind of reception area, but it was bright and airy and there were hints of Kathryn everywhere - in the cut flowers near the door, the collection of . A young cadet sat by a desk poring over a computer screen.
"Excuse me," Chakotay said politely.
The cadet jumped from her seat and her back was ramrod-straight.
"Yes, sir!"
"At ease," Chakotay had to stop himself from rolling his eyes – clearly the young woman hadn't been acting as Kathryn's assistant for long enough if that was still her reaction to an officer. Nothing changed in the cadet's appearance, save for her mouth suddenly creasing as she bit her bottom lip nervously.
Behind the cadet's desk there was a wall of opaque glass with two transparent panels across a pair of glass sliding doors. Through the clear parts of the glass he could see the edge of another desk, and couldn't help but think that it was classically Kathryn – he could catch a glimpse of the office, but he couldn't see the whole room and she could easily monitor who approached the door from her workstation. Much the same could be said about her life and personality in general, he mused – someone could approach and see a portion of activity from a limited perspective, but ultimately it was Kathryn's choice about whether to them you in or not, and she could see them coming from a mile off.
"I'm looking for Captain Janeway."
"The Admiral is not here at present, sir."
Chakotay studied her for a moment and she flushed. He hadn't known that Kathryn had been promoted, though it didn't surprise him in the slightest.
"Do you know where I might find her?"
"I'm afraid I don't, sir – I wasn't given any details." The cadet looked unsure, "I just know she isn't going to be back for the rest of the month. I'm sorry, sir."

He regarded the young cadet and spoke kindly:
"I'm Janeway's former first officer, Chakotay."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, sir." The young woman relaxed visibly.
"Have you been assisting the ca – ah, the Admiral – for long?"
"About a month and a half now, sir." She smiled shyly, "Admiral Janeway has agreed to be my advisor for my thesis, provided I help out here for a few hours each week," She gestured to the various padds scattered across the desk. Chakotay caught sight of Kathryn's signature on one – a hurried scribble which was entirely illegible, but somehow took exactly the same shape every time so it was immediately recognisable and distinctive. It was her 'Starfleet signature' for official documents, but when she had to sign reports over to him she preferred to initial them, and in personal notes at the bottom of the computer-generated text there was always a scrawled 'K' with a flourish.
"Good luck with it. Don't let her work you too hard."
"I won't, sir. Thank you, sir."

Chakotay stood outside the office doors for a minute. He had half-wanted to joke with the cadet about Kathryn's work habits and manner, but it wasn't really possible to gauge exactly how well the younger woman knew her superior and how she regarded her personally, and he wasn't sure if she genuinely didn't know where Kathryn was or whether she had chosen not to tell him – or been told not to.
He told himself to get a grip and stop being so suspicious, and walked down the corridor to exit the building. As he passed the bank of replicators in the hall he caught sight of a face he recognised – Vice Admiral Patterson, a lecturer at Starfleet Academy. He had known the man insomuch as he had managed by some miracle to pass the classes he took under his instruction as a cadet, but he remembered that Kathryn had been quite friendly with him. Patterson's name had also come up in a consultation with an adviser he had been made to attend after his debriefing about options he may wish to pursue in Starfleet. The only suggestion he could offer the adviser was a vague interest in further study or teaching at the Academy, and she had recommended talking to Patterson in the first instance.

Patterson greeted Chakotay warmly when he explained who he was, and invited him up to his office to chat about the Academy and what to expect. As the conversation went on Chakotay couldn't help but take a liking to him; he was so open and friendly.
"I actually had something else to ask you about..." Chakotay began once the conversation about the Academy seemed to reach a natural end.
"Oh? Go on." Patterson set his coffee cup down and clasped his hands together in front of him.
"I wanted to ask you about Admiral Janeway."
The Vice Admiral's eyes sparked with interest and an amused smile spread over his face.
"You know her, don't you?" Chakotay pressed.
"Katie Janeway? Of course. One of the brightest I've ever taught. I knew her father as well. Great man."
Katie? Chakotay thought, bemused. He hadn't been expecting that.
"I wondered if you had heard from her recently. I served as her first officer, but I've been busy since my return and I haven't been able to get in touch with her yet."

The other man's eyes narrowed slightly, though his lips twitched to disperse any hint of malice. Chakotay had the faint impression that he was being sized up, and wondered if the old man would hide the truth for a woman he referred to affectionately with a pet name even though she now outranked him.
"Ah, I'm afraid I can't help you, Commander. I occasionally hear from her in writing and she visits my office now and then, but it's been a few weeks since I saw her last."
Chakotay found it hard to conceal his disappointment and had to fight against his shoulders slumping. The Vice Admiral cocked his head and folded his arms.
"Her mother still lives in
Indiana. I have some things I was going to give her in person, but I've been busy and haven't gotten round to taking them. Why don't you take them for me? I'll let her know you're coming."
"Thank you, sir. I'd be happy to," Chakotay said automatically, wondering if he had just been set up.
"She doesn't like it when I transport things directly," Patterson offered by way of explanation, "– especially since one time the pattern buffer malfunctioned and something was damaged. It's the only time we get to see each other face-to-face, but I'm sure she won't mind just this once."
He beckoned Chakotay into a small, dim walk-in cupboard off his office. There were some holophotos decorating the wall, and Chakotay stopped to look at one more closely. There was a small candid picture of a much younger Kathryn standing in an Academy uniform, with her hands on her hips and mouth opened to speak. The teasing glint in her eye and the slight upturn of the corners of her mouth immediately made him think that she was about to tell some outlandish story. The Vice Admiral turned around, clutching a packing crate, and smiled.
"That was taken at a family event, if you'll believe that. Ready to take on the world, she was, even at that age."

Chakotay suddenly recalled Kathryn standing before him, deliberately on the other side of a darkened room, talking about being solely responsible for stranding their ship in the Delta Quadrant. One hand had loosely rested on her hip and she had appeared weary and withdrawn, but her voice was steady and her words were crushing. At the time he had tried to reason with her, but he stubbornly refused to argue in an effort not to give her any ammunition to destroy herself further. He had had to bite his tongue to keep from telling her that she was taking the easy way out – that directing all her anger and frustration towards herself was the simplest kind of coping mechanism and probably one of the least effective – while knowing that in saying nothing he risked maintaining the gap between them and making her feel more isolated still. After that he'd always taken care to remember that behind Kathryn's incredible determination and drive lay an infinite capacity for guilt and punishing self-criticism, and he was always wary of this tendency of hers to internalise the negative aspects of their journey even as he admired her exacting standards and self-assurance.

"I can believe it," Chakotay said, smiling to himself for a moment. He shook himself out of his reverie and found Patterson watching him, his gaze still quite intent.
"I'll make sure this arrives safely." He said, taking the box carefully.
"You do that. Take care, Chakotay." Patterson replied, looking as if he wanted to say more.
"Likewise. I'll be in touch, sir."

Later Chakotay realised his day had taken a turn for the bizarre – in the morning he had half-expected to find Kathryn at work in her office, and now he was running an errand for someone he barely knew and taking a trip across the country to Kathryn's childhood home. On a whim he had decided to rent a hovercar and was enjoying the journey, but he began to feel a little nervous. While packing the crate into the back of the car the lid had become dislodged and he had a glimpse of the contents. On top of some wrapped items was a frame containing a photo and certificate from some kind of awards ceremony. In the picture Kathryn was standing with a group of other officers in dress uniform, and at the bottom next to some Starfleet seals were a few scratchy signatures and a neat 'Kathryn Janeway' in script beneath. She must have been quite young at the time, Chakotay reflected – the boxy shoulders of the uniforms and athletic build demanded of the younger officers made it difficult to guess ages, but the fact that her signature was nothing more than her name written in her best handwriting seemed a bit too juvenile for her to be any older than about twenty. He had replaced the lid of the box and clicked it into place, feeling like these small hints of Kathryn here and there were reminding him that, as much as he might feel like he knew her better than anyone else on board Voyager, that there were lots of gaps that he didn't know about or couldn’t account for.

A few hours later Chakotay was considering switching to auto-pilot – he was just about getting bored with the scenery passing and he didn't want to get over-tired – when he passed a sign with a vaguely familiar place name and took the exit from the highway. As he drove along a narrow, winding road he suddenly realised why the name had rung a bell. Kathryn had mentioned it quite a few times in passing and he had always been vaguely curious about it. Before he could think about it properly, he was looking out for the landmarks Kathryn had spoken of – a sign with the county name on it, an area of woodland, a low stone wall, an old wooden sign and a dirt track leading off the road into the wilderness...

Kathryn knew it like the back of her hand because she used to make the journey numerous times, whereas Chakotay could find it because he was her confidante and she had in all likelihood spoken to him about it in far greater detail than she would later recall. The track led to a house belonging to Mark Johnson, the man Kathryn had been engaged to. Chakotay started off down the path, making the argument to himself that it wasn't out of his way, and Mark was surely as good a person as any to ask about where Kathryn might be. He might have at least had an inkling about where she would typically go if she had decided to take a holiday, and he could always say truthfully that he had needed a break and had come off the main road to take a walk and refuel at the service station a few miles north of Mark's house.

Not to mention that he was very curious about Mark, as well. One evening after Chakotay and Kathryn had been unwinding a little too much with a second bottle of Talaxian wine, Kathryn had alluded to her engagement reaching a kind of stalemate before she had left Earth for the last time. She hadn't wanted to give up her command post yet or restrict herself to short-term Alpha Quadrant missions, she didn't feel like joining the Terran-based research project everyone had expected her to apply for, and she admitted that she hadn't been sure how she and Mark would have managed when their outlook on a future life together was so divided, before changing the subject to indicate that that topic was closed.

Chakotay could fill in some of the gaps with some intuition and assorted knowledge of their relationship he had picked up from their conversations together – although he wasn't much older than she was, Mark seemed to have more traditional values and had been talking more and more of settling down together properly at some point in the near future. Kathryn had joked about how she had grown to only marginally lessen her hatred of Mark's sprawling farmhouse and had usually had to beg him to stay over at her apartment during the winter, when she couldn't face the permanent draughts and long, muddy trek between the front door and the road with the only transport point. Though they had been together for a few years before they got engaged, there had never been any talk of a wedding. She didn't wear her ring regularly before they came on board, and hadn't even brought it with her to Voyager.

Chakotay looked down quickly at the padd, which confirmed he was at the right house. He stopped and regarded it for a moment. It was a large wooden structure and looked so...old-fashioned. Purposely so, as well – the logs weren't quite cut perfectly, the stakes of the fence weren't even and the woodwork on the door and window-frames was weathered and stained. Chakotay realised that, while he was quite happy with more traditional dwellings, he preferred them to look more like nature had grown around the structure. Mark's cabin was in a cleared area of woodland and had a neat cordoned-off garden with greenery and flowers planted in straight rows, and fussy little plantholders and homemade ornamental knick-knacks were everywhere. The whole effect was a little bizarre, and he wasn't sure that he liked it.

Chakotay was startled out of his thoughts when the door opened with a slight squeak of hinges and Mark appeared. He took in a breath of fresh air and started down the wooden steps, trowel in hand, collecting a worn, patched hat from a hook as he went.
"Hello," Chakotay said, suddenly feeling as though he wanted to find out more about the man with whom Kathryn had once taken the decision to spend her life with.
Mark looked over at his visitor, his expression betraying nothing but a slight veneer of curiosity.
"Hi. Can I help you?"
"Hello, Mr Johnson. My name is Chakotay. I served on the U.S.S. Voyager with Captain Janeway."
Mark glanced at him with some mild interest.
"Call me Mark. What can I do for you, Chakotay?"
"I won't keep you long. I've been tied up at Starfleet for the last few months and I haven't been able to contact anyone. Now – it's –"
He lost his train of thought; the corners of Mark's mouth twitched into a knowing half-smile and it was like a cloak had been lifted – any trace of being on edge or guarded vanished from his demeanour.
"You want to know if I've heard anything from Kath."
Chakotay let out a breath.
"That's about the measure of it."
Mark gave a hint of a sigh, looking contemplative.
"No, I haven't heard anything from her. She dropped by once shortly after Voyager returned but, apart from that, nothing."
"I'm trying to find her, but I've had no luck so far. I don't suppose you have any idea where she might have gone?"
Mark's features softened for a moment, and he looked at once both fond and a little bewildered.
"...yes and no. Kath sometimes took it upon herself to take a time-out when things got a little crazy, but she'd just...leave a note and she was gone. I think she went to some cottage somewhere, but I never knew where. The first time she did it I was just about driven mad with worry, the way she just upped and left. But then she did it again, and then I kind of thought she had that in mind when she accepted that mission on Voyager..." He seemed lost in thought, and shook his head quickly.

Just then a woman with dark brown hair came out of the house.
"Honey? Could you please – oh."
She smiled at the two of them and made her way down the uneven steps with care, brushing off her hands on the apron she wore.
"Chakotay, this is my wife, Mandy. Mandy, this is Chakotay."
Mandy shook Chakotay's hand.
"Nice to meet you, Chakotay."
"Nice to meet you, too. I was Captain Janeway's first officer and I was passing through so I just wanted to ask Mark, er –"
"You were on Voyager? We were so glad to hear that the ship got home safely. I didn't know anyone on the ship personally, but after Mark told me I often thought of you all and hoped you were out there somewhere." Mandy squeezed Mark's arm, and he smiled down at her.
"That's very kind of you," Chakotay said, feeling faintly surprised at Mandy's warm friendliness, "I didn't have that much hope for a long time, but there was a great sense of community. It was a bit like a family, that way."
"That's a wonderful thing to come out of a situation that must have seemed so bleak. Family is very important to us, too." Mandy's free hand came to rest on the neat bump that was straining against the front of her apron as she moved.
"I'm so sorry, I've left something on the stove. I'll leave you two in peace. Chakotay, we had far more apples this year than we could ever possibly use, so please take some from the boxes over there if you like."
Chakotay thanked her and she disappeared back into the house.

"Congratulations," Chakotay said to Mark, who was looking a little bashful.
"Thanks. We're very excited."
"Well, I don't mean to keep you. I should probably be going. Thank you for your time."
"Chakotay –?"
Chakotay stopped and looked at Mark expectantly.
"Sorry I couldn't give you a straight answer about Kath. But, if it helps – I know she'll be okay."
Chakotay considered this for a moment.
"I know you're right. Thanks, Mark."
"Any time."

He said his goodbyes and made his way back up through the wilderness to the road, thinking the whole way. Chakotay hadn't really considered what Mark's wife would be like, but Mandy's pleasant chatter confirmed to him immediately that she fit into their life together exactly. Mark needed someone who was perfectly content with the way he was and who loved the way of life he had chosen. Mandy had been so visibly happy and proud that Chakotay had felt his own mood brighten, and it was without any bitterness that he thought Kathryn was better off out of that relationship. Next to Kathryn, Mark seemed so...solid and solemn; almost stoic. He was someone who wanted a home and a family and a wife and his own pocket-handkerchief lawn with home-sown sunflowers smiling at the sky. Kathryn seemed to thrive on the energy around her and he could easily imagine that vitality dying if she had stayed with him.

At the end of the track he sat on the upraised root of a large tree to have a little longer out in the fresh air before returning to the car. It wasn't even that Mark seemed like any kind of toxic presence, he thought, it was just that he couldn't see Kathryn being anything more than 'quietly' happy with the man – probably satisfied and reasonably content with her life, but ultimately missing the fiery passion that was so quintessentially Kathryn. Maybe the Kathryn Mark wanted was what she thought would be best for her at one time in her life. Chakotay remembered the single occasion that she had mentioned her first fiancι and observed that she had probably spoken more animatedly about him in a few sentences than she had ever done in talking about Mark.

He looked at the tree trunk next to him and did a double-take when he saw a small 'K. Janeway' carved into the bark. He suddenly remembered that that night on Voyager Kathryn had told him about a day when Mark had insisted on dragging her out in the damp autumn drizzle to look for mushrooms in the woods and she had eventually gotten fed up and sat by the path to wait for him. She had laughed as she told him how cold and wet and miserable she had been, and in schoolgirl-type defiance was using the knife she was supposed to be cutting roots with to gouge her name into a tree trunk. Mark had caught up with her as she was admiring her handiwork and chuckled as he read the surname aloud.
"Not for much longer, huh?" He had said to her, and Kathryn's voice had faltered when she got to this point in the story and she seemed to lose her thread.

Chakotay thought of Kathryn sitting there and wondered if she had realised then, in the same way he just had, that staying with Mark would have made her lose something of herself – her character, her identity, her name... He wondered about the last time she had walked past and if she had reflected that the letters, though a little weathered with time, would outlast their relationship. Perhaps when she had driven her knife into the bark she knew that 'K. Johnson' wasn't something she wanted or was suited to, and possibly in the end they wouldn't have needed the separation of half a galaxy to realise that Kathryn Janeway would have to sacrifice so much more than a few letters to become Kath Johnson.

In the car he thought about it still and his mind turned to how Kathryn had taken the news; whether she had found it difficult to accept that Mark had moved on and had the life he had likely hinted that he wanted for himself and Kathryn at one point. Even Chakotay had found it a little strange and couldn't help comparing Mandy with Kathryn – they were of a similar height and colouring, and he had wondered if Mark had a 'type' and felt guilty for thinking such. He struggled to imagine Kathryn in Mandy's place; she was too aware that her position as Voyager's captain didn't afford her the luxury of becoming too domestic. The one time they had remotely approached the issue was a sharp learning curve for them both and he suddenly recalled the two of them standing silently in Sickbay, both all too aware of the ramifications of their actions and neither willing to take a step forward.

*     *     *

They had encountered a damaged Borg cube with child survivors and it was like finding a crack and ripping it open to expose the contents to harsh light. He had been aware that the Borg subjected assimilated children to a controlled environment to speed their ageing, but coming face to face with these beings that blended ruthless Borg logic with flawed childish impulse brought home how brutal the whole process was. One of the children had been a baby that looked too impossibly small to have such a number of mechanical devices embedded into her skin, and Chakotay felt too numb to feel anything when the Doctor told them the maturation chamber was beyond repair and that neither he nor Seven knew how to save her. After that both he and Kathryn seemed to switch off, guided by some unspoken binding to duty that both resented and neither wanted to challenge. He had been holding the small bundle – more blanket than baby – to his chest so that she might hear his heartbeat, and Kathryn had been at his side, leaning across him awkwardly as she laid her arm across his and stroked the tiny greyish-white cheek over and over. He dimly remembered the way Kathryn squared her shoulders and walked out of Sickbay when the Doctor closed his tricorder, and he had followed her to her quarters where they sat side-by-side and yet seemed intolerably alone.

"I want to say 'What kind of life would they have given her?' but then I just think, what kind of life could we have given her?" Kathryn said finally, looking at her hands.
"Kathryn?"
"The life we have here, our community – it can be enough for us, but that's because we've had our upbringing with a family and a support network. I've been so proud of the way we banded together here, but...it could never have been enough for her. We couldn't have been her parents. The doctor told me her world was destroyed – there's no-one to tell. No-one who would grieve for her."
"You can't tell me you feel nothing, Kathryn," Chakotay said, a little incredulous.
"No, Chakotay, I can't. But don't you see? It's not enough; it's not what she deserved. We haven't lost a daughter. We didn't love her and come to care for her like parents, and to pretend we did would be an insult to her memory. Yesterday I held her and felt nothing. I – I said...something..."
Chakotay placed one of his hands over hers.
"Yesterday she was choking in a broken maturation chamber aboard a cold, Borg starship. Today she was wrapped up in a soft blanket and rocked to sleep while someone touched her face to let her know they were nearby. It doesn't matter that it wasn't her parents. She was warm and safe; she wasn't in pain and she was comforted in her last moments. That's what matters."
Kathryn nodded hesitantly, but still looked miserable.
"Will you stay with me? I can't face being alone, and...you still look pale."
He nodded, and they fell asleep slumped against each other on Kathryn's sofa.

In the night he had woken to her shifting about, and while half-asleep he had drawn her close and felt comforted by the warm weight of her body against his. When the morning came and the lights grew brighter in her quarters, he felt her stir and kept his breathing quiet and even in case she wanted to pull away from him. He felt her lift her head and without thinking he opened his eyes and their lips met. Although they were both awake it seemed an entirely unconscious decision; such a natural progression that he didn't give it any more thought than he did to blinking. It was slow and gentle and warm and loving, and the sadness that had brought them together the previous day was overcome by a spark of life that attracted them to each other ever more powerfully. Kathryn shuddered against him and relaxed completely into his arms, but then she suddenly tensed up again and held onto him tightly. It wasn't until she wiped her eyes on her sleeve that he noticed she was in tears.
"Her...us..." Kathryn offered by way of explanation when he questioned her, "...things that can't be, by circumstance."
It was all he could manage to get out of her before she went silent and her back stiffened. Her fingers dug into him and the slight quiver in her chest made him guess she was probably suppressing a sob.

Chakotay now wondered if it had been that moment of exposed vulnerability that had unnerved her; if the lapse in control represented much more than a hushed cry and twitching muscles. Clinging to him like he was drowning might have helped her to strengthen her resolve, but holding someone so close had always made him think of fragility. Kathryn was fit and strong and cut quite an imposing figure at times, but the gentle press of her ribs and hipbones against him and the heartbeat beneath made him acutely aware that she could be hurt and reminded him that, even with unbroken bones and a strong pulse, people could still feel damaged within, as he had done for so many years. When he had been transported onto her bridge years ago he hadn't considered that she would have soft, warm skin and he would catch a faint blossom scent in her hair, hadn't imagined that her fingers would entwine with his and grip hard even as she was pulling her hand away.

Later that morning he met the Doctor, Seven and Kathryn in Sickbay. The remaining Borg children were sitting on the biobeds, faces four identical pictures of innocence and expectation, touched with suspicion and wonder.
"What happened to the baby that was in the maturation chamber?"
Predictably, the first question from the older boy was the one that Chakotay had been dreading.
"The Doctor did his best, but the cube was too badly damaged and we couldn't help her. I'm afraid she died late last night," Kathryn made it sound simple, but when she had put her coffee cup down earlier he had seen her hand quiver a little.
"You failed," The comment sounded like an accusation, and it was disturbing to hear the Borg's words enunciated in the voice of a small girl.
"We all did our best for her, but in the end it wasn't enough," Chakotay hated how feeble he sounded by comparison.
"Why?" One of the twin boys asked. The solemn stares of all the children were unnerving.
"It just wasn't meant to be," the Doctor said kindly. Chakotay caught Kathryn's eye and she held his gaze a little too long before looking away. They both stood there silently, separated by rank at a distance so much further than the span of the biobeds between them.

He hadn't needed her to explain that it wasn't appropriate for her to become involved with a subordinate – he could have probably predicted the words she'd use with some accuracy – and he was aware that she knew it, too. They wouldn't have a stilted conversation about where their relationship could go, because they had already done that on New Earth with the most impossibly awkward allusions to parameters and stories, and then for some reason had assumed that everything would stay neatly within those defined limits, the story that would stop when the book was closed and shelved. But it hadn't ended, and neither of them could say it had been a reflection of what they had done for the Borg baby, because their actions towards each other had been born of real feelings, incomparable to a forced, superficial lullaby for a stranger doomed to an eternal night. The sequence of events troubled Chakotay greatly, and he often found himself lying awake listening to the sound of his own heartbeat pulsing through his empty arms.

*     *     *

Gretchen Janeway was difficult to read, Chakotay thought when he was confronted with her. He could see hints of expressions echoed in Kathryn at points, but it wasn't until she smiled that he truly saw a resemblance between them.
She had invited him into the house without comment, but when he had told her his name and rank and where he had been for the past few months her expression was blank and he kept talking, wondering how long he could stand it. When he finally broke and took a sip from the glass of water she had placed in front of him, she suddenly gave him a half-smile and the wicked glint in her eye let on more than her mouth would.
"I believe you, Mr Chakotay. I have to admit, I did wonder how long you were going to hold out on me." She leaned forward and her voice took on a conspiratorial tone, "I do enjoy making Federation officers squirm sometimes. Forgive me."
Chakotay laughed, and some of the tension that had built up on the journey evaporated and he felt more free to speak.
"I'm trying to find out where Kathryn might have gone. Do you know where she might be?"
Gretchen looked like she might be hiding a smile, but answered him seriously:
"I have the address of the place where she'll be staying. I'll give it to you with some extra directions, as it's a little difficult to find if you don't know what you're looking for."

It was an apt choice of phrase, Chakotay thought as the woman left the room. What exactly was he looking for – or, rather, what was he expecting to find when he tracked Kathryn down? He had been piecing together details about her since he'd tried to visit her, and all that seemed to be emerging was that he became more desperate to see her, to find out where their destination could be now that the journey was over. He'd been trying to find her, and in doing so had done exactly that, except he was beginning to realise that in a way he had found everyone else's Kathryn but his, and he was beginning to feel that 'his' Kathryn was the real one. He was beginning to realise that Sekaya was right –  that people did survive in groups, and in that respect Voyager was certainly no exception. B'Elanna and Tom, Tom and Harry, Seven and Naomi, Neelix and Naomi, Tuvok and Kathryn –  they had all stuck to each other for stability, for warmth, for guidance...now that he was back in the Alpha Quadrant, however, he felt he needed Kathryn more than ever, and he wondered if leaving her life and taking a time-out could indicate that she was overwhelmed and might have needed him as well.

His gaze fell on a holophoto that had been behind Gretchen, blocked from his view. Two young girls in leotards, dance skirts and bright hairbands grinned up at the picture-taker, and the caption at the bottom read Phee and Kitty's 1st dance recital in a child's wobbly, careful hand with coloured embellishments.
"Chakotay?" A young woman entered the room, and Chakotay recognised her as Kathryn's sister, Phoebe.
"Nice to meet you. Phoebe?" He checked, and she nodded.
"My mother had to answer a call, but she said you were looking for directions to the cottage. I've had a lot of friends over there, so I'm used to writing idiot-proof guides. No offence."
Chakotay laughed again, partly because of the way she had put him at ease exactly as Gretchen had done. It seemed that they came in a two as well, banded together to take on the world with the same enthusiasm and mischief reflected in the Vice Admiral's holophoto of Kathryn.
"So what brings you out here?" Phoebe asked, her words a little blunt but her eyes keen and interested.
"I brought some things for your mother..." Chakotay was beginning to wonder if Phoebe ever blinked, and gave up the pretence, "I just want to see Kathryn."
Phoebe turned her attention to the padd and added a couple of extra lines.
"Tell Kat she owes me one," She said finally, and put the padd into his outstretched hand.
"...I will." He answered, not quite sure what she was referring to.
"But don't call her that. I'm the only one who can get away with it."

Chakotay was sent off with two identical Janeway smiles and a small package to give to Kathryn that he suspected were the brownies she had raved about once upon a time. As he was about to get into the car he thought back to his conversation with Sekaya as he caught sight of Phoebe and Gretchen hovering in the doorway, talking animatedly to each other with emotions mirrored in their expressions, an easy relationship undoubtedly strengthened to provide support in the absence of a daughter and sister. It was an image that stayed with him throughout the remainder of the journey and provided some respite from wondering how Kathryn would react to his appearance. He was glad to have Phoebe's directions to follow, as the small cottage wasn't easy to find and the roads weren't the best, but he was relieved to find that Kathryn hadn't chosen somewhere too far from civilisation – a hill close by offered some privacy and distance from the neighbouring village, but it certainly wasn't far removed from anything she might need.
Phoebe's last words to him echoed in his head, even though they weren't particularly profound. Tell Kat...but don't call her that. He hadn't known Kathryn to complain about anything like that, but she had come close once, a few months ago:

It had been a while since everyone had congregated in Sandrine's on the Holodeck, and it was a surprise when Kathryn appeared. It was shortly after she had been injured on an especially difficult away mission with Celes, Harren and Telfer and she had refused to take any sick leave, against the Doctor's wishes. On the Bridge that day she had been a little short with the crew at times and had retreated to her ready room wherever possible. He had noticed that she kept grimacing slightly and guessed that she was still in some pain, so her presence on the Holodeck was unexpected, to say the least. She was watching the pool game, and Chakotay suddenly realised that all in attendance referred to Kathryn exclusively as 'Captain' even though everyone else was pretty much on a first-name basis with a few nicknames tossed into the mix, and for some reason there also seemed to be a few pointed references to her rank thrown around in jest, like joking that nobody could cheat because the captain might throw them in the Brig.

Chakotay watched Kathryn's smile grow tighter as the evening went on and she then left so quietly he almost didn't notice when she slipped out. He followed her out down the corridor to the turbolift.
"Is everything all right?" He asked, and she looked over her shoulder without turning to face him properly.
"It's nothing. I'm just a little tired," She replied faintly, sounding distracted. He paused.
"Okay. Let me know if you want to talk. Sleep well, Kathryn."
Kathryn went very still as the turbolift arrived.
"...you're the only one who calls me that," She muttered, and ducked into the turbolift before he could say anything in response.

Chakotay hadn't quite considered until that moment how difficult it must have been for Kathryn sometimes. The fact that she couldn't enjoy a simple Holodeck outing with the crew as anyone else would; the way some lower-ranking crewmembers would become nervous around her and stumble over their words even after seven years...to never hear her given name. He could appreciate that it was probably easier for him in that respect – with just the one name people had less of an issue with feeling like it was too personal, although he did notice that some crewmembers he knew less well avoided using his name at all when they spoke to him and there were some who would only ever refer to him as 'Commander'. He knew he couldn't do anything about it – the smooth running of the ship depended on the hierarchy structure – but he enjoyed spending time with Kathryn outside of work and almost resented that there were so few opportunities where she could truly be herself and not have to consider her role as captain.

As Chakotay approached the cottage over the hill he thought of the people he had met after leaving Headquarters – all with a different relationship to this woman, who when presented with the same face would regard it in entirely different ways: a daughter, a sister, a student, a protιgιe, a colleague, a mentor..they all had their own impression of who and what she was – so much so that they all knew her by a different name. As much as he marvelled at it all, he felt that the different roles were only part of a whole, that list of familiar names was only a limited set of credits for a much larger picture with more depth and beauty than the sum of its parts. Admiral Janeway was a celebrated officer who was known throughout the Fleet for guiding a ship through the Delta Quadrant; Kath was the reluctant, unsure fiancιe who disappeared; Kitty fought with her little sister and dreamt of joining the Academy... There was the little girl who painstakingly added a swirly cat's tail to the 'y' in her name, the woman who scored her mark across a failing engagement, the leader who no longer needed to spell out her designation to make an impression...they were too restricted alone and insufficient all together, and he loved them all and more.

He was crossing a field near the boundaries of the cottage when there was some movement ahead. Kathryn left the house with her head down, coiling a lead between her hands and patting one of her pockets while a dog with rust-coloured fur trotted past her and sniffed around a flowerbed. Chakotay took in what he could see of her appearance from a distance and could see that not much seemed to have changed in the months since he'd seen her last – in terms of appearance, at least. She ambled down the lane towards the path that bordered the fence in front of him.
As she approached the edge of the property Chakotay realised that he was seeing a different Kathryn, however – this petite woman who shuffled her way along with her head ducked slightly seemed a far cry from the captain who used to stride across her Bridge confidently.
Chakotay coughed slightly. Kathryn glanced upwards and stopped so suddenly in her tracks that she stumbled a few steps forwards. The lead fell from her hands and dropped onto the ground, where the dog promptly picked it up in her mouth and ran on ahead. Both stood looking at each other for a moment. Up close, Chakotay noticed that Kathryn's hair was longer, slightly darker and more reddish than when he had seen it last and felt that she looked a little like a doll – the wool coat, comfortable trousers, sensible walking shoes and matching scarf and mittens all seemed too neat, too perfect. Her body was angular, her movements stiff and her motionless stare and glassy eyes made her appear frozen, as though her mechanism had stopped.
"Chakotay –" She faltered, blinking, "I didn't – Molly –!"
The dog was running up to the fence, and with a few scrabbles and wriggles had slipped underneath it and was approaching Chakotay.
"Can you catch her by the collar? She won't return when I call her." Kathryn's voice stopped, and she swallowed thickly, "Don't worry, she's gentle."
Chakotay had already crouched by the Irish setter and gave her a quick scratch behind the ears before getting hold of the brown collar around her neck. He tugged at the lead, but it was firmly in the dog's mouth and his orders to 'drop' fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until Kathryn spoke the command in a ringing tone that enunciated every sound that the object fell to the ground. He snapped the catch onto the collar and stood back up to face Kathryn. They were on paths running parallel to each other, separated by a fence in the middle.
"Hi," She said, a little breathily.
"Hi. Could I walk with you?" He asked, suddenly unable to think of anything else to say.

She nodded and murmured that there was a gate further up the path, and they began walking along in step, the fence almost acting as a buffer between them, and he sighed inwardly to realise that even while they were standing together, there was still one last obstacle in the way of them truly being together. He shot a quick glance at her and saw her brow furrow slightly. It wasn't long before her curiosity broke the stillness.
"When did they release you?"
"The day before yesterday. I wasn't really expecting it when it happened. I wondered if you had anything to do with it...?"
"Maybe," Kathryn said, her lips curling, "Nice to know I still have a few friends in high places."
"I bumped into Vice Admiral Patterson. I'm sure he was only too happy to help 'Katie'."
She glanced up at him.
"He's a wonderful man, but I always hated that nickname. He's making me give a lecture to his students next semester in return."

She wrinkled her nose a little and was quiet for a moment, then looked up again.
"How did you know where I was?"
"Your mother. Your sister."
Her slight frown deepened.
"I told my mother I was going to
Switzerland."
It was Chakotay's turn to look puzzled.
"They told me to come here."
They walked on a few more steps.
"Maybe they know you too well," Chakotay tried again, forcing a chuckle.
"Hm," Kathryn muttered, shoving her hands into her pockets. They walked on in silence, following the path.

"I saw Mark. Mark and Mandy."
He saw Kathryn's face twitch slightly out of the corner of his eye, and was fairly certain she had just stopped herself from rolling her eyes. He couldn't blame her – they sounded like some twee double act, which he supposed in some ways they were.
"He's been busy," Kathryn caught Chakotay's eye and gave a short sigh, "I've met her. It was fine. I'm actually happy for them."
"Me, too. It's just..."
"...she's a Mandy." She finished simply, and then looked a little reproachful, "I don't mean anything bad by that."
"You mean – she's not a Kathryn," He paused, then couldn't help a smile, "You're not a Kath."
Kathryn's brow creased but she was smiling, too.
"I suppose I was, once, to him...or I could have been. Chakotay, how...?"

He suddenly fell silent, and she bit her lip.
"I'm...so glad to see you," She said, to his surprise, "But I just don't understand...I didn't know what was happening with you and I wasn't sure appealing to Admiral Paris would have any effect. I've been working solidly since we got back and once when I got the time to walk Molly she ran away from me in the park and I thought I'd lost her. And then, thinking I was close to losing you as well
– I just had to..." Kathryn looked at him desperately, and he thought back to Mark's words.

Chakotay stopped and turned to her properly.
"I just wanted to find you and talk to you; I missed you so much," He said honestly, and her face softened as her stare lost some of its intensity, "But on the way everyone I met had a different view of you, different impressions... You surprised me in that respect, the way you mean so much to so many people."
"And to you?" Kathryn cut in suddenly.
"You're a great many things to me," He said quietly.
Kathryn let out a barely audible breath, and blinked a few times.
"As you are, to me," She began throatily, and then tried again:
"I tried to take stock when I got back to Earth. I've seen so many people, and they all seem to have a different idea of who I am and what I've done. I've had people tell me I was a leader, a pioneer, an explorer...and all I could think of is what I'm not. And it's stupid and trivial, but there was one thing I wanted to be that I couldn't ever on Voyager..."
Chakotay looked at her curiously.
"Yours." The answer came simply and Kathryn looked embarrassed.
"I know it sounds..." She shook her head, "but it's how I feel. I came here to try and sort things through, but it's just...you. It's always been you. Our time on Voyager has ended, but I can't bear thinking anymore that we had to end before we could ever begin to start anything there."
"Kathryn, come here," Chakotay said abruptly, motioning her forward, suddenly determined that the only barrier between them was one they had to overcome themselves. He dropped the handle of the lead around a fence-post; Molly was sniffing around the grass verge, oblivious.

Kathryn approached the fence a little hesitantly and climbed up. Once she was sitting on the top he stepped forward, caught her in an embrace to lift her down and didn't let go once they were clear of the fence.
She kissed him urgently the moment she was in his arms, and he didn't feel like he had truly appreciated they were home until that moment when there was no longer any space between them, nor ship protocol and rank to complicate what should have been entirely simple and untroubled. Until that point when his palms rested in the small of her back and her arms were tightly wound round his neck he hadn't truly felt that their long journey was over. Once her feet were back on the ground Kathryn buried her face in his neck, and he murmured his love to her quietly when tears were threatening to take over. Once she had calmed she looked up at him and guided his chin downwards with her finger and thumb so that she might taste his lips again, responding to him with a pressing readiness that made everything else he was aware of begin to evaporate.

Something occurred to him and he drew back, despite her slight sigh of protest.  
"What do you want me to call you?" Chakotay asked.
"Um, I've always preferred just Kathryn," She answered, raising her eyebrows, "Everyone else seems to think otherwise."
Chakotay had to bite back a laugh.
"I love you, Kathryn. All of you."
"And I love you..." Kathryn returned his kisses with fervour, and she grabbed Molly's lead and led him back in the direction of the house. On the step she fumbled with the entrance keypad and he couldn't help but steal another few kisses from her, enjoying the way he could dissolve her concentration when he touched her.
"Chakotay?" Kathryn murmured, nibbling on the edge of his lip.
"Mm?"
"What took you so long?"
He almost choked, and she took her opportunity to pull him into the house to begin everything that shouldn’t have ended, all in the name of love.


- End -
---
Additional notes: I've added to and amended this a bit from the original story I sent in the exchange, though it's still generally the same. This is the picture I based Kathryn's cadet photo on, for those who like that sort of thing. Many thanks to Madzilla for her request, and thanks for reading!

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