A Perfect Moment - Part 2

B'elanna

The Earth has never seemed that important to me, other than as a rather obvious acknowledgement that our journey was over. Why should the sight of the Planet make any difference to me? I wasn't born there and even my father, who was human, never spent that much time on the Planet - just a few years when he was a kid. My sojourn at Starfleet Academy didn't do anything to endear Earth to me. It certainly wasn't a time packed with happy memories and when the authorities finally decided we were not mutually compatible, I have a clear recollection of announcing that if I never set foot on that Planet again it wouldn't be too much of a disappointment.

So, no big deal, right? Wrong. When the Captain told Harry to activate the view-screen for the first time the sight of that Planet gripped me, like cold steel in the belly, and no matter how much I told myself that it was no different from all the other Planets we'd seen over the last six years I knew it wasn't true.

I'm not sure what impulse brought me to the Bridge in the first place, by rights I should have been in Engineering, trying to squeeze a little more juice out of the beleaguered warp engines. But perhaps I was aware that having been centre stage in the beginning, present for the moment when Janeway destroyed the array that this was the only place I could contemplate being as the adventure came to an end.

And of course I was curious about her reaction. More than anyone she has remained an enigma to me throughout this journey. The two men I'm closest to, Tom and Chakotay, both figure they have special insight when it comes to Kathryn Janeway and I'm in no position to dispute that, but for me she's always been the ultimate mystery.

I used to think that maybe we could become friends and perhaps we can - now that this is over, but I know she couldn't before when she had all those lives depending on her and I respect that. She's always put being the Captain first, never wavered from her commitment to get us home, and we are here - so who can say that she was wrong?

There have been times when I've been so angry with her that I could hardly bring myself to address her. She saved my life when I had determined that death and honour were more important and it took me a long time to forgive her for that, to understand that she made a functional decision, one an Engineer should really appreciate. On a starship you don't give up a useful part if it can be saved, certainly not when it would be difficult to replace adequately. Ever since I started to compare her decision to the kind of decision I might make about the plasma injectors I've understood it better.

She's standing in the middle of the Bridge, with Chakotay at her shoulder and I suppose it will come as no surprise to those of us who have observed her over the last six years, that she has her hands on her hips. Her expression is familiar as well; it's the look she wears when she's totally absorbed by something, whether it's an engineering problem, a tactical consideration or the welfare of her crew. This woman has always taken her responsibilities to us seriously and right now, watching her, watching Earth with such intense consideration I'm certain that she's also thinking about all our fates. Of course, I have to admit that I'm just a little bit sad that she and Chakotay didn't fall into each others arms and celebrate by... well, that's obviously wishful thinking as far as they are concerned and something Tom and I will get around to later. We don't need a reason.

She looks away from the view-screen when the console bleeps and as Harry announces the incoming message, she glances over her shoulder at Chakotay. How I wish that I were close enough to see their expressions, it might answer a lot of questions if I could. But I can't see them and I'll have to check with one of the others later.

The moment of truth arrives when Earth, an image I'm just getting used to having around, is replaced by some stuffy looking Starfleet worthy. I can't help the anxiety that floods through me, Tom's been telling me that everything's going to be all right for days now, and Chakotay's been doing the rounds; raising spirits, sharing fears. And part of me believes them, agrees with them; the optimistic, confident part. But old habits die hard and I've been constructing 'what ifs?' in my head, trying to prepare myself for a worst case scenario - just in case.

Tom's going to be insufferable now that it's clear he was right.

TBC in part 3