The Day Before Forever - Part 1 The Day Before Forever


 

Part 1
This is for Suz who said I had to post it.

'Contrary to popular opinion I didn't fall in love with her at first sight.' This announcement, made by the man at the centre of attention in Sandrine's that night, enjoying his last hours as a bachelor, was greeted by a round of Yeah, rights ... and one raised eyebrow. 'I didn't,' Chakotay protested, 'at that point I was thinking, "where the hell are we, where the hell is B'elanna and what is Starfleet doing here?" It was more a question of evaluating the situation that thinking, "well that's all right then, I've met the woman I'm going to marry."'

'But it didn't take you very long to fall for her, did it?' Tom Paris pointed out from his seat on the other side of the table. 'I mean I was on the Bridge just after you beamed over for the first time and your face was a picture when she walked right up to you and told you to treat me with respect.' Ayala snorted, 'he does have a point Chakotay.' This, it had been agreed was an informal occasion, no rank.

'She caught me by surprise,' the soon to be groom said, a little defensively, 'I'd never met anyone who just about came up to my shoulder and yet still treated my body space as though it was her personal property.'

'Well, as I said, she made a big impression.' Tom looked convinced he'd won the argument, Chakotay looked as though he were still prepared to debate the point. Tuvok, as the closest thing they had to the father of the bride, who was under strict instructions not to let things get out of hand, wisely determined that this was the moment to intervene.

'I am curious Commander, exactly when did you realise you were in love with Captain Janeway?' Chakotay smiled, a distinctly far away and private smile, as though he had temporarily forgotten exactly who he was marrying in the morning and just been reminded. 'I'm not saying I wasn't attracted to Kathryn, I think I realised that pretty early on and I have a feeling I didn't always hide the fact very well.'

A couple of the others made a stab at an innocent expression - not very successfully. Chakotay shook his head at his own transparency and then added, 'but you know, as long as we were sort of flirting in public then it was safe -- all part of our command relationship. But, somewhere along the line we started to almost flirt in private and then I had to wonder about that, because who were we doing that for, if not ourselves? It happened gradually I think, that first year - when we found the 37s and gave the crew the chance of remaining behind I realised that she had got under my skin. When we were trying to unmask the person who was spying for the Kazon and I was left out of the process I was really, deeply hurt by that exclusion -- and I found myself wondering why it mattered so much, not just that I was trusted, but that I was the one she turned to when their was a problem. By the time we were on New Earth together I was sure what I was feeling was special and very important.'

He glanced up at the others, not sure how they would feel about what he had said, he had revealed more about his feelings than he had planned to, but he was so emotional at the moment, once he got started talking about her, he couldn't stop. It wasn't as bad as he feared, most of them were smiling at him, even Tuvok was looking benevolent.

'But you didn't?' At Chakotay's questioning look Tom became uncharacteristically flustered, 'erm, consummate your relationship, on New Earth?'

Chakotay sighed theatrically, 'don't tell me there are still replicator credits in the "did they do it on New Earth pool"? Well, just to set the record straight -- and since we are getting married tomorrow -- no, we didn't, on New Earth.' His smile was downright smug as he added, 'and before you ask, no, I'm not telling you where we were when we did.' Having prevented that question Chakotay sat back in his chair, glanced around the assembled company and then asked in a distinctly plaintive tone. 'Did you have to come back for us so quickly Tuvok? I'm sure warp 2 or 3 would have sufficed, we just needed some more time.'

Tuvok raised an eyebrow at this and replied deadpan, 'I apologise Commander -- had I realised something so important was a stake I would have taken a lengthy detour.'

Part 2
Dedication: There's nothing like threats to your life to help you focus your mind.

(Meanwhile in the Captain's quarters)

B'elanna Torres looked around the Captain's quarters and suppressed a smile, the place was a mess. There were glasses scattered all over the floor and the remains of a very large cake, that had been rapidly consumed an hour ago, were on the table. Sam Wileman lay across the sofa with her feet in Susan Nicoletti's lap, Jennie and Megan were sitting cross legged on the floor giggling like six year olds, 7 of 9 was standing (of course) looking on with a bemused air and their strong, single minded Captain -- the woman who had stood unblinking against the Borg and the Hirogen, well she was having your basic pre-wedding tantrum.

Sam had asked, quite reasonably under the circumstances, how the Captain was feeling about the ceremony tomorrow and the Ca... Kathryn, for tonight, B'elanna reminded herself had lost her temper.

'I am not getting married tomorrow, I don't know why everyone thinks that I am. I'm not having a relationship with Chakotay, we're just friends. This is not happening, we have to do something. I'm a different Kathryn Janeway, yes that's it, there's been a dimensional shift and I'm from a dimension where this isn't happening, and definitely not tomorrow, maybe Q was involved.'

For a split second B'elanna actually entertained the idea that she might be telling the truth, she couldn't decide if this was because of her inherent loyalty to Kathryn Janeway, or because out here in the Delta Quadrant experience had taught her that anything was possible. But then she got up from her seat, strolled into the bedroom, removed a couple of items from the wardrobe and then went back out into the living room.

'Remember these?' She said, waving them in the general direction of the Captain, 'I don't think they'd fit you.' The idea of their diminutive Captain wearing far too big dark trousers and long cream shirt produced more giggles from the others and shut Kathryn up. Instead of ranting she flopped back onto the couch and buried her face in her hands.

'I don't believe this is happening,' she groaned.

'It's just pre-wedding jitters,' Sam said, patting her shoulder kindly in a gesture she'd never dream of under any other circumstances, 'I was sick the whole night before my wedding.'

'Really?'

'Oh yes - of course it could have been due to all the alcohol, or the sweets and chocolate, but I'm convinced it was nerves.'

'Captain,' everyone turned to look at 7 of 9 who had remained largely silent throughout the proceedings, 'if you do not wish to marry Commander Chakotay why did you agree to do so?'

Kathryn Janeway smiled suddenly, remembering how Chakotay had proposed earlier in the week -- the sea of faces, many of them looking shocked and surprised as he had walked across the room to her, in the middle of the reception and got down on one knee -- not exactly the start to their shore leave she had envisioned.

She hadn't know what had come over him, why he had wanted to alter the nature of their comfortable relationship, until he had explained how he felt the need to formalise the relationship, to make a public statement of love and commitment. Her instinctive response had been that they did not need to be married to do that -- but, looking at it from his perspective, perhaps they did. He had waited so long and with such patience and then let her determine the course of their relationship, perhaps this time she did need to do something that was important to him, for him and to show the crew that their commitment to one another was serious.

'It's not that I don't want to marry him 7, it's that it's happening tomorrow -- I haven't had very long to get used to the idea, it's all happening so fast.'

'It isn't too late to do something about that, you could still call off the ceremony,' B'elanna offered, wondering how she would tell Chakotay if that was what Kathryn decided to do.


Part 3

(In a local hostelry)

'You mean you aren't nervous at all?' Tom looked across the table at Chakotay with disbelief, 'not even slightly?'

'Tom, Tuvok took care of all the details, what could go wrong?' Tuvok raised his eyebrow at this remark, but did not intervene.

'You aren't worried that she'll change her mind, stand you up?' Tom, it seemed was determined to try and rattle Chakotay, Chakotay was equally determined to remain calm.

'We're talking about Kathryn Janeway, we all know her better than that.' At the assortment of muffled agreements Tom decided he was slightly outnumbered and decided to change tacks.

'I'm not saying she will stand you up, I'm just saying, if it were me I'd be nervous.'

'Because you think B'elanna might not show up,' Harry offered, 'you know you might be right in that case.'

'Especially if I managed to talk her out of it,' Chakotay continued, 'and you know I'd try.'

'I wasn't talking about B'elanna and I exactly, I was just making the general point that most grooms are nervous. But, since you aren't, you can answer me another question, why bother, getting married I mean? It isn't as if we all didn't know about the two of you months ago.'

Chakotay's expression darkened slightly and he took a long, slow sip of his drink before enquiring as casually as he could. 'How long have you all known?'

Tom grinned evilly and most of the other men sitting around the table looked as though they thought now was a really good time to clean the warp conduits. 'Well, lets see...there was the time you contacted Tuvok and told him the Captain was taking the day off and that you would be late for Alpha shift, gee I wonder what that was all about. And then there was, what a whole week? When you and she would just spend hours together in the Ready Room - of course you said you were doing the crew evaluations, and who were we to doubt you. Of course every time you were together you either gazed into each others eyes and forgot the rest of us existed, or tried to pretend that you weren't watching each other all the time. Actually, come to think of it, that was about the time you stopped eating dinner in the mess hall and started having lots of cosy working dinners -- in her quarters or yours. Those crew evaluations must be hell. And then there was the Christmas party, could you two have been dancing any closer? Poor Harry was embarrassed, weren't you pal?'

Tom deliberately ignored the warning look Harry sent him and continued, 'but well, in all honesty, after everyone but the two of you had left the party, a Talaxian morale officer and cook, who shall remain nameless for his own protection, came back into the holodeck and erm, saw you kissing - that's how we really knew.'

Harry knew Tom had crossed the line this time and he was expecting a explosion, which didn't materialise, instead Chakotay grinned with delight. 'Tom Paris, you know nothing. We really were doing crew evaluations, and the first time I ever kissed Kathryn was under the mistletoe at the Christmas party.'


Part 4

(Back in the Captain's quarters)

Kathryn Janeway held B'elanna's gaze for a full minute, although it felt longer. B'elanna was sure everyone in the room was holding their breath - except perhaps for 7 who might not recognise the emotional cadence of this moment. The Captain, uncharacteristically, looked away first.

'No, that won't be necessary I am getting married tomorrow.' Everyone, it seemed heaved a huge sigh of relief at this announcement.

Sam, as the only married woman among them took the bold step of giving their Captain a quick hug.

'You know when it's right, don't you?'She said, smiling although she had tears in her eyes.

'I suppose you do,' Kathryn brushed away a few tears from her own cheeks, she looked determined not to give in and cry in front of her crew and their was a moment of discomfort until Susan asked suddenly,

'So, do we get to see this dress or not?'

With only three days to organise the wedding, it had all been a bit of a rush. Luckily their hosts had a tradition of conducting marriages on a beach at sunrise, followed by a day long celebration, a tradition the crew had heartily embraced. Replicator credits had been donated by the whole crew to contribute to the wedding feast and also to dress the wedding party in something special -- only Tuvok was wearing a dress uniform.

'It's next door,' B'elanna had seen it hanging up when she'd gone into the bedroom earlier, 'can I show them Kathryn?'

'Yes, but I'm warning you, you'll be disappointed. It's just a dress, no lace, no veil, no flounces. It took me hours to come up with something suitable and I don't care what anyone says I'm wearing it.'

But no one said anything when B'elanna returned carrying the dress. Out here, so far away from home they all understood that the choice was waste replicator credits on something elaborate that would never be worn again, or be practical and create something that could be suitable for more than this special occasion. No one was surprised that the captain had chosen the latter option and replicated a very simple cream dress, long and sleeveless with a fitted bodice.

'It's perfect,' Jenny said, her voice a little choked until she smiled at her sister, 'Meg, I think it's time for the present.'

'I thought we said no presents?' The Captain looked at the shy, smiling faces and melted, 'all right, you're forgiven.' From behind the sofa Megan produced a small, brightly wrapped parcel and handed it to Kathryn.

'It isn't much, just a token of our good wished, we hope you'll be very happy.' As she began to unwrap the gift B'elanna said thoughtfully,

'It isn't exactly a gift for the wedding.' She was sure she would remember the expression of shocked delight on the Captain's face for a very long time. As she examined the small piece of cream silk that purported to be a night gown Kathryn Janeway was forced to agree.

'No, I can see that, it's more of a honeymoon present for Chakotay.' But she was smiling.
 

Part 5

They were giving presents in Sandrines as well. 'Tom wanted to get you an exotic dancer,' Harry said nervously - almost certain he'd managed to talk him out of the idea.

'An exotic dancer who takes all her clothes off, it was a tradition in the late twentieth century,' Tom insisted unconvincingly, 'but Harry pointed out that I really didn't want to end up permanently assigned to sickbay and if the Captain found out what my idea of a wedding present was there was a good chance of that. So we got you this instead.' He handed Chakotay a data padd, and then added, 'a honeymoon.'

Chakotay scanned the data and took a moment to understand what he was seeing, crew rotations, shore leave, a cabin on the beach, miles away from people and command responsibilities. It looked very much as though their crew had conspired to send them off by themselves for a couple of days, and he got to be the one to tell Kathryn.

'I told you he'd rather have had a stripper.' Tom's remark interrupted his musings.

'Sorry,' he grinned sheepishly, 'it's wonderful, thank you - I don't know what to say.'

'Just enjoy it,' Tom said, winking.

'Are you sure this is all right with you Tuvok?' He had to ask, if he and Kathryn were going to be away, that would leave Tuvok in command of Voyager. Tuvok, didn't get a chance to answer because before he could open his mouth Tom announced smugly,

'Of course it's all right, it was his idea.'

'Really?' This was a definite surprise. Tuvok raised an eyebrow and looked less than thrilled at having his involvement so blatantly publicised.

'It seemed logical that having got married you and the Captain would also wish to have a honeymoon, I'm sure the Captain will benefit from the additional rest.' Tom laughed outright, Harry, Ayala and the others tried valiantly not to.

'Thank you Tuvok,' Chakotay struggled to keep a straight face, 'we'll certainly bear that in mind.'
 

Part 6

In the Captain's quarters the atmosphere had become more relaxed, another bottle of wine had been produced and the Captain seemed to have acknowledged that it was natural to be nervous on the night before her wedding, she was much calmer now. So much so that when Jenny asked with mock innocence, 'so where was the first time you and Chakotay made love?' she replied without so much as batting an eyelid.

'The first time was on the floor of this very room,' she gestured towards the area beneath the couch, 'just about there in fact, and then on the couch, in the shower and finally in bed -- a couple of times.' She grinned at the expressions of her guests -- for once, rank had been well and truly thrown out of the window, 'well, you did ask.'

'I know.' Jenny had turned a very delicate shade of pink -- a fact which was exacerbated when her sister pointed it out.

'Oh -- look Jen, we could use you face to signal a red alert!'

'It's not funny,' a now thoroughly mortified Jenny said, 'you go this colour as well.'

'I do not understand why discussing the Captain and Commander's first copulation should cause Ensign Delany to,' 7 searched for a suitable word, but had not found one when Sam supplied it.

'Blush, she's blushing 7, it means she is embarrassed and I guess she didn't expect such a brutally honest answer,' catching the twinkle in her commanding officer's eye she shook her head slightly. 'If it was honest.' All heads turned to look at the Captain who was covering her mouth to prevent herself from laughing outloud.

'I'm not telling.' She said between chuckles.
 

Part 7

The party in Sandrine's was breaking up rather earlier than Tom Paris had hoped. For most of the guests the fact that they had to get up well before dawn was enough to persuade them that they needed a relatively early night. But Tom didn't see things that way.

'Come on Chakotay - you're getting married in the morning -- this is your last night of freedom, you can't just go to bed.' Chakotay with a rare burst of tolerance towards Tom responded by patting him on the shoulder rather than slapping him down.

'Tom, it's because I'm getting married in a few hours that I'm going to bed now. Tomorrow you can party for as long as you like, but I don't want to sleep through my own wedding.'

Tom left the holodeck still muttering to himself about people who had forgotten how to enjoy themselves. Harry followed, rolling his eyes at his friends performance and quietly wishing Chakotay good night. Ayala and Parsons were next, looking a little shy, a far cry from the way they had behaved when they were all Maquis rebels together -- but a great deal had changed since that time, he was marrying a Starfleet Captain in the morning, how different could you get?

'Everything is arranged for tomorrow.' Tuvok told him.

'I never doubted it for a moment.' The two men stood together for a moment in the doorway to the holodeck. 'I was just thinking how much has changed since we came to the Delta Quadrant.'

'It is logical to assume that your marriage will mean further changes for everyone -- yourselves most of all.'

'We'll try not to allow it to effect the smooth running of the ship Tuvok.'

'If I were you I would concentrate on adjusting to being married to the Captain, and being happy.' It was a strange feeling - a sudden, unexpected closeness; he and Tuvok had never been friends and yet he knew about the close friendship that existed between Kathryn and her Chief of Security.

'You've been married for a long time Tuvok and you know Kathryn well, any last minute advice?' The eyebrow inched it's way upwards - as tough Tuvok were seriously considering his response.

'Learn to be tolerant,' was the rather surprising response. Chakotay was still considering it when Tuvok turned back and added, 'and patient.'
 

Part 8

She was sitting on her sofa when she heard the first sounds from the room next door. Smiling she tapped her comm badge, 'Janeway to Chakotay.'

'Chakotay here,'

'Late night Commander?'

'Oh you know,' she could tell he was smiling, 'stuff to do. We've been given a present - a honeymoon.'

'That's sweet, I got a present as well - but it's a surprise.'

'Really, I can't wait.' She imagined his expression and shook her head slightly. 'You sound as though you enjoyed yourself.'

'I did, more than I expected. B'elanna supervised the clearing up and packed everyone off early -- she even told me to get some sleep.'

'No last minute nerves?' Into the long silence that followed he said softly, 'Kath?'

'Actually yes -- a serious case of pre wedding jitters, but it's OK now. I was just feeling a bit swept along by the speed everything happened at and I panicked -- but I'm all right.'

'Are you sure you don't want me to come over there? Tuck you in?'

'I'd love it if you came over to tuck me in, I always do -- but the groom isn't supposed to see the bride before the wedding, it's bad luck.'

'I never imagined you would be superstitious.'

'Well -- just until tomorrow I am -- I just wanted to say goodnight, and I'll see you before sunrise.'

'Sleep well - I'll see you in the morning.'
 

The End

Did they live happily ever after? I have no idea, that's a whole different story.