Disclaimer: Paramount owns them all but the story is mine….
Summary: Captain Janeway is sent back in time to protect the life of her first officer, and discovers he knows a thing or two about tactics.
Captain Kathryn Janeway sat at the back of the lecture hall. She was attempting to be as inconspicuous as possible but the admiral’s uniform she wore was drawing more than its fair share of attention. It wasn’t often that someone of her rank sat in on an advanced tactics course at the academy. The cadets were finding her presence a distraction but their instructor was taking it all in his stride.
Lieutenant Chakotay stood before the big screen at the front of the theatre, hands on his hips, and looking every bit the military’s representative with his crew-cut hair and crisp ‘fleet uniform. Janeway was impressed. He was a fine lecturer with a good grasp of the tactics he was teaching and had a calm, confident delivery, which was offset by the occasional flashes of wit.
He had noted her presence and Janeway had caught his quick nod of acknowledgment at the beginning of the lecture. Chakotay was obviously curious as to her motives for attending his class. She was pleased to see, therefore, that he was able to set his curiosity to one side, the better to focus on his students. If it weren’t for that briefest of nods, she would have sworn that he had not noticed her at all.
“The Picard Manoeuvre,” he continued, turning towards the screen’s recreation of the battle of Zeta Maxia, “is entirely reliant on your opponent being equipped with light-speed sensors only. If your opponent is using faster-than-light sensors I would strongly recommend against its implementation.” He paused here to take a deep breath, his dark eyes scanning the room for a likely looking candidate. “Anyone care to speculate on what might happen if this manoeuvre were attempted against, let’s say, a Romulan Warbird?”
Silence. Janeway failed to suppress a grin as she noted a number of cadets’ attempts at evasive manoeuvres. Some were pretending to be making important entries to their data padds, others were checking recording devices for mysterious technical faults, a couple had dropped things on the floor which necessitated a lengthy search beneath their seats. One cadet was even feigning sleep. This was a dangerous tactic that Janeway had once tried during a lecture on Klingon physiology by Admiral McCoy. She suspected Chakotay would be a little more lenient than McCoy had been. At least she hoped so for the sake of the young Bolian who was making a passible attempt at a snore.
“Something amusing you, Admiral?” Chakotay had caught her grin. So he was paying attention.
“No, Sir!” Her quick response, delivered like that of a green first year intern, was entirely mitigated by the ridiculous grin splitting her features. Chakotay snorted and looked at his booted feet, trying to hide his own grin. Her sense of humour had caught him by surprise. She could feel his smile before she saw it, could feel her own cheeks growing redder by the minute. The bright-eyed students were watching the entire exchange with interest, she knew. Hell, there had always been this insane chemistry between the two of them, and the air of the lecture hall was suddenly sizzling with it. He didn’t know her; had never met her, and yet….there it was. The spark of attraction was undeniable.
Kathryn Janeway cast her mind back to what had begun as just another day in the Delta Quadrant. Whatever the heck that was. She had reported for duty and retired to her ready room to work on some long-overdue crew evaluations when a uniformed figure had materialised to stand directly in front of her desk. She had blinked a couple of times and then attempted to hail Tuvok.
“There’s no point in trying to call for help, Captain. I have disabled your comm link for the moment. You know me, do you not? I am Captain Ducane of the time ship Relativity. And I am here to help you. Well, shall we say ‘help you to help yourself’? The matter is an urgent one, involving one of your own people.”
“U-huh…. Congratulations on the promotion and please forgive my incredulity Captain, but are you asking me to believe that the temporal police want my help? Funny, I was under the impression I was considered to be temporal enemy number one or thereabouts. And regardless of any change of heart you may have had…. you can take my word for it when I say that what you asking is out of the question. No, let me finish….You know me, Ducane. I am a captain and I have a starship to run here. I simply don’t have the time to go off gallivanting….”
“Time? You have the gall to talk to me about time? Understand this, Captain – you are going to do what I say. There is no question of refusal to cooperate. I will give you your instructions and if you perform your duty to your usual standards I will return you to Voyager. If all goes well you should be returned here to this precise moment in the timeline with no one the wiser…and no time lost. Simple.”
“Oh no you don’t. I’ve been railroaded by experts, Mister. There’s one too many ‘ifs’ in that little speech of yours and I’m not in the business of ifs.”
Ducane had looked at her the way a scientist looked at a bug on a slide and then smiled. She had not liked that smile at all. The phrase temporal psychosis came to mind. “You are stranded in the Delta Quadrant, thousands of light years from home on a ship held together with spit and bailing wire and you want absolutes? Please Captain, be reasonable. Use your not inconsiderable intelligence to consider my words and give them the weight they deserve. As I said, this affair concerns one of Voyager’s own.”
“All right. I’m willing to listen to your little story. But I’m warning you …this had better be good.”
It had been. Ducane had gone on to explain that her first officer’s life was in danger. Someone was manipulating time in an attempt to assassinate Commander Chakotay. Before he joined the Maquis, before his tour of duty aboard the Gettysberg, Chakotay had served as an instructor at Starfleet Academy for almost nine years. If Janeway refused to help, then that was where he would die. The year was 2366. Chakotay was thirty-seven years old, a lieutenant and as yet untouched by the Federation/Cardassian politics which would see him resign his commission and join the Maquis freedom fighters.
According to Ducane, Janeway’s mission was to return to the Academy and act as a bodyguard for her first officer. He had arranged a cover for her. She was to be Admiral Janeway, and somehow, although he was unwilling to discuss the details, he had added her profile to Starfleet records, as well as creating memories of her service record in the minds of the top brass. Ducane supplied Janeway with official papers, a new uniform, and a backpack, which concealed the Chronoton Wave Device.
Once activated, Kathryn would have thirty seconds in which to get this device as close to the rogue assassin as possible. It was designed to destroy everything within a ten meter radius whilst simultaneously restoring its target to their original timeline. Any eyewitnesses would swear that the target had perished in the blast. Captain Ducane would lock the temporal transporters onto Kathryn shortly afterwards and return her to Voyager as promised.
It sounded simple enough. And yet Kathryn couldn’t help wondering why she couldn’t be told who it was that was gunning for the life of her first officer. Ducane had cited the Temporal Prime Directive but it didn’t wash with her. And then there was the question of how she was to activate this device without injuring Chakotay himself or an innocent bystander. There were still too many variables unaccounted for.
Still, she thought, for a time she would be back on Earth, and not in the 1900’s either. If the situation weren’t so serious she could almost think of it as a holiday.
But it was serious. An attack on her first officer, this early on in the timeline, was an attack on Voyager. That was something the time cop had not needed to elaborate on. If it hadn’t been for Chakotay they would never have made it this far. Her mission was to protect Chakotay during the crucial few days his life was in jeopardy. How she managed this was entirely at her own discretion.
His lectures had seemed a good place to start.
“Admiral? When you say ‘no, Sir’, are you saying that you are not amused or that you are unable to explain what would happen if the Picard Manoeuvre were attempted against a Romulan vessel?”
Wise ass, she thought, raising a speculative eyebrow at him. “Well, let me see, Lieutenant. Correct me if I’m wrong…. since light travels at around 300,000 kilometres per second, and given an enemy vessel was equipped with light-speed sensors, a shift to warp speed would enable a starship to appear in two places at one time. Over a distance of 9 million kilometres, this would provide a thirty-second window of opportunity. The tactical advantages there are fairly self-evident I should think. Especially against a race like the Ferengi who don’t cope well with surprises.”
She looked around to find she had the attention of the entire class. Even the somnolent Bolian had roused himself to listen to her answer. Chakotay nodded for her to continue. His eyes sparkled with barely concealed delight. Was it her answer that pleased him, she wondered, or something else?
“Now, a Romulan Warbird…. That’s a different matter entirely. Two years ago,” Janeway searched her memory for the correct details of the Federation’s first encounter with a D’deridex Class Warbird, “the U.S.S. Enterprise encountered a B-Type Warbird. These are huge ships, twice the size of one of our Galaxy Class starships. They have a firepower that is at the very least the equal of our own and on top of this they are fitted with a cloaking device which makes them virtually undetectable. I would also suggest that the average Romulan Commander has a more subtle grasp of combat tactics than would a Ferengi Damon, although perhaps less avaricious.
“So, let us say for the sake of argument that the Warbird we encountered is not cloaked. Perhaps the Commander is over-confident. And we are ….inexperienced but enthusiastic, and decide to give the Picard Manoeuvre a go. We have the Romulans on screen. Diplomacy has failed and they have locked onto us with their disruptors. We engage our warp drive and move into a firing position on the enemy’s right flank. To a non-warp capable vessel…we would drop out of warp and fire…having appeared to be in two places at once and confused our opponent. To Romulan Commander Toreth, for example, we would appear to be what is colloquially known as a ‘sitting duck’. They would most likely fire their disruptor canons and render us into space dust.”
“Space dust, Admiral? Is that a technical term?”
“I have some other ‘technical terms’ but I think ‘space dust’ conveys my meaning.”
Chakotay tugged at his ear. It was a familiar gesture, something his older counterpart was in the habit of doing when either amused or irritated.
“That it does, Admiral. I’m sorry….I didn’t get your name?”
“Janeway. Admiral Janeway. Strategic Command.”
“Well, Admiral Janeway.” Chakotay’s expression turned serious, and Janeway guessed that her presence had gone from intriguing to disturbing. “Welcome to Advanced Tactics 101. Would you mind if I asked if you’re learning anything?”
“Not at all. Feel free to ask me whatever you want.”
He smiled. “I see you are already familiar with the first rule of tactics.”
“Diplomacy. The best tactic is always to avoid conflict.”
“Touche!” She flipped him a small salute, which he acknowledged with a wink and a dimple, eliciting more than a few wistful sighs from the fresh-faced young females scattered around the hall.
At the conclusion of the lecture, Kathryn Janeway sat back in her seat and winced. She’d forgotten how uncomfortable these seats could be. They were clearly designed to prevent sleep or relaxation of any kind. Kudos to the Bolian. If he could manage to appear relaxed in one of these seats he should be considering a career on the stage. A number of students had made their way to the front of the class to speak with Chakotay and Kathryn made the decision to give them time to clear before she approached him.
It was going to be difficult enough to explain her presence to him without an audience. Kathryn noted wryly that none of the male students had seen the need to consult with the teacher. She wondered if he was aware of the havoc he was wreaking with their young hormones and hearts. If he was, he gave no indication of it, listening attentively to each question and taking the time to answer each one fully and concisely.
Kathryn found herself daydreaming about what kind of father Chakotay would make. She recalled the many hours he had spent with young Naomi Wildman on board Voyager, sharing the tales and ancient legends of his tribe with her. She had hung on his every word. Kathryn made a mental note to ask Chakotay whether or not he would be interested in giving Icheb some lessons in tactics.
“A penny for your thoughts?” His gentle voice shocked her out of her reverie. Looking up she found the object of her thoughts perched on the desk beside her, one foot resting on a folding seat.
“Oh, believe me, Lieutenant, when I say that you do not want to know what goes on in this head.”
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”
Was it her imagination or was he flirting with her? Couldn’t be, she decided.
“You can go easy on the charm, Lieutenant…. I’m not here to conduct a performance review.”
“That’s a pity…. why are you here?”
Damn! He was flirting with her. She could see it in his eyes. Was this the same Chakotay? Reluctantly, she ordered herself to keep things professional. She had a job to do.
“You’ll find out soon enough, Lieutenant.”
Getting to her feet, Janeway collected her backpack, swinging it carefully onto one shoulder. It was then that Chakotay noticed the phaser she wore in a holster at her side. His eyes widened.
“Weapons are strictly prohibited on campus, Admiral.”
“Yes, I know. But this one is authorised by Admiral Brand. I have the orders here, if you’d care to examine them.” As she spoke she made her way down to the floor of the auditorium with Chakotay following close behind.
“I don’t understand…. What possible reason could you have for carrying a phaser at Starfleet Academy?”
“Walk with me, Commander. Oh, sorry, I mean ‘Lieutenant’, of course.” She waved off his look of surprise and indicated the door with a sweeping motion.
“Have you had lunch?”
“Are you asking me out?” Damn, he was persistent.
Janeway sighed and rubbed at her neck. His eyes followed her every move. It was New Earth all over again. Just add monkey.
“And so you see,” Janeway concluded over lunch. “You are stuck with me, at least until we find out exactly what it is that’s going on here.” They were seated at a table by the windows in the officers’ mess.
Chakotay pushed aside his salad and shook his head, the shadow of a smile hovering about his mouth. “Well, I suppose it could have been worse…”
“You could have been Admiral Paris. No disrespect, but if I’m going to have an Admiral assigned to watch my back, I’m happy for it to be you. The thought of sharing some time with you isn’t exactly a repugnant one, Admiral Janeway. Janeway. I’ve heard the name Janeway before. Wasn’t there a Vice-Admiral, Edward Janeway?”
“My….my brother. He died eight years ago in the Tau Ceti system.” She tried to sound casual but couldn’t disguise the tremor in her voice. She had been there for the test flight of the Terra Nova, had seen her father die along with her fiance, Justin Tighe. It was not something she would ever forget. She was close to tears.
“I’m sorry.” Chakotay reached forward and took hold of her hand. The sincerity in his eyes made her catch her breath. Gone was the brash, over-confident Academy instructor and in his place was something of the man she had come to rely on.
She attempted a smile. “My apologies, Lieutenant. Give me a minute.”
Chakotay released her hand and watched whilst she swallowed a mouthful of freshly brewed coffee. Her eyes closed and when she opened them again she was smiling.
“I do love a good coffee.”
“It shows…You keep doing that…”
“Staring at my forehead. Like you’re looking for something. And it’s got me thinking…My father has a tattoo there. It’s a custom amongst my people. Perhaps you know of them?”
“You’re from Trebus aren’t you - one of the Dorvan colonies? Yes, I’ve seen something like that before. I didn’t mean to stare. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.” She had to be more careful.
“You weren’t. At least, not in an unpleasant way. You’re kind of young for an Admiral, wouldn’t you say? You can’t be much older than I am…. and yet I haven’t heard of you before. How’s that possible?”
“I’m almost six years older than you Chakotay and….”
“And that’s another thing...the way you say my name. Most people have trouble with the pronunciation. Not you. It’s almost as though you know me. And this is going to sound crazy, but I feel I should know you too. There’s a connection between us. There’s a spiritual bond of some sort. Don’t tell me you don’t feel it. I know it’s not my imagination.
“At first I thought it was something sexual, a kind of chemistry. But the more we speak, the more I get to know you, the more it is that I feel …connected to you.” His words, his sincerity and trust were taking a toll on her determination to keep her distance. Kathryn was torn by the urge to tell him the truth, whatever that was, but the Temporal Prime Directive was standing in her way. She couldn’t risk saying too much and polluting the timeline. It seemed that their relationship, such as it was, would always be governed by protocols and she was saddened by this realisation.
He was waiting for her answer. What to say? She could see the trust in his eyes. Could she honestly say that he was wrong?
“Chakotay…. I’m not going to lie to you. I do feel something like this ‘connection’ you’re talking about. However, right now what is important to me is my mission. There’s a reason that I’m wearing this uniform and these pips. I am doing my job and following orders. I can’t afford distractions. Your life has been threatened and I’m taking the threat very seriously.”
Chakotay closed his eyes for a moment and considered her reply.
“Frankly, Admiral, I can’t see it. I’m a starfleet tactical instructor, and have been for years now. Why would someone want to kill me? Sure, there was that business with the Tarkanian Ambassador…but even that’s ancient history now.”
“Ah, yes. The Tarkanians. Flirting with the Ambassador wasn’t it?”
Chakotay grinned. “She thought I was propositioning her. It was an honest mistake in a difficult first contact situation.”
“I see. I would have thought she’d be flattered.” Unless, of course, he had come on a little too strong…
Janeway sighed. Chakotay had been cleared of all charges related to the Tarkanian incident. Had the Ambassador been right to make a fuss, she wondered?
“Lieutenant. I thought I had made my position clear. I have a job to do…”
“And you would like to set some parameters?…. What? Why are you smiling? You know something, Admiral? I don’t even know your name. Is there something I can call you besides Admiral Janeway?”
“Kathryn. My name is Kathryn. And you can call me Admiral.” And I’ll call you whatever I damned well like, she added silently.
“Kathryn,” he repeated, his head cocked to one side. “I like that. It has a nice ring to it. And you have a beautiful smile. Pleased to meet you, Kathryn.” He extended his hand and when she didn’t respond he reached over and took her hand between his anyway. “It’s all right, Admiral. I hear you. And we’ll keep things professional. For now.”
Kathryn nodded and withdrew her hand from between his. “I appreciate your cooperation.”
“Will you be sleeping with me?”
“In my quarters I mean.”
His glorious smile and gentle persistence were wearing away at her defences.
Initially, Kathryn had wanted to reprimand him. Hell, she’d wanted to dump her drink in his lap and see if that didn’t cool his ardour. This was most certainly a different man to the Chakotay she knew and served with. His younger self was brash, confident, and came on like a Borg armada. Something had changed him.
Kathyrn thought about this. She recalled the details of the destruction of his home world; the senseless devastation, the loss of life. Still, it couldn’t have been easy for him to resign his commission and throw in his lot with the Maquis, not after so many years of service to the ideals of the Federation. And then there were his experiences with the Maquis to be accounted for. She could only guess at the horrors he had experienced, the friends he had lost. And Seska? How had his relationship with the Cardassian spy impacted on his life? Or the discovery that Tuvok was a Federation spy?
All of these experiences and more, no doubt, had taken their toll, taken the man sitting next to her, and shaped him into ‘her’ Chakotay; her first officer, and her best friend. The process couldn’t have been an easy one for him. It would have hurt like hell. Kathryn realised that she did not want to add to the many hardships of his life. She wanted to ease his burdens, not become yet another one of them.
Kathryn Janeway simply couldn’t find it within herself to become angry with this Lieutenant Chakotay. In fact, she was overcome by an intense desire to shield him. If only she could hold him in her arms, comfort and protect him, and offer him the love she felt for him at that moment… and had always felt for him.
But no… he would remember, wouldn’t he? If she were to finally relent and admit to her feelings, then her Chakotay would remember it and that would make the task of adhering to Starfleet protocol in the future an impossible one. Temporal Prime Directive. She sighed and shook her head. What had she been thinking? She had to keep things professional.
Focusing her mind on her immediate surroundings, Kathryn became aware of a new sound.
“Shh. Chakotay… I think I can hear music…” Janeway held up her hand, listening.
“Yes…me too! It must be love.” Chakotay laughed. “There’s a concert on at the parade grounds. Would you like to take a look? I could use some fresh air.”
“Oh, could we?” Janeway couldn’t resist a brass band.
As they approached the bandstand two cadets got up and offered them their seats in the front row. Taking the seat to her left, Chakotay leaned over and whispered, “The privileges of rank.” Janeway nodded and turned her attention back to the band. They were good but that was to be expected. The Academy band was renowned for its brass and woodwind sections.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the Academy that day. It was springtime and a warm breeze scudded in from off the bay. The sun was warm and the company couldn’t be faulted. In just over a year’s time all this would be gone.
The battle of Wolf 359, the Borg invasion of Earth would decimate the ranks of Admirals and ensigns alike. This carefree spirit of exploration and adventure, so typical of Starfleet pre-Borg would never return. The thought was a painful one. Kathryn’s eyes misted over.
“Something wrong?” She felt Chakotay’s hand on her shoulder.
“No…I just wish we could capture this moment, bottle it and keep it safe. I don’t want it to end…. ever.” Kathryn gazed helplessly into the eyes of her younger first officer, her heart on her sleeve. He leaned in closer, brushing his forehead lightly against hers. She could smell his aftershave, the scent of cedar and sandalwood.
“If we weren’t here, in the middle of the parade grounds with half of the Academy looking on…I'd kiss you, Admiral Janeway. You look like you need to be kissed.”
“Oh,” she breathed, her heart pounding against her ribs. For a brief, insane moment, she wished that he would. Then again, they were already attracting more than their fair share of attention.
After the concert the pair waited for the crowds to disperse before making their way back to Chakotay’s rooms. As they walked they discussed inconsequential things; the personal cost to Picard of the loss of the Stargazer, the music they had just listened to … the fine line between flirtation and diplomacy. He had tried to get her to talk about herself but Kathryn carefully steered the discussion back to music and archaeology.
A young cadet, carrying an inordinate number of padds and a black clarinet case tripped and fell beside them, almost knocking Chakotay down with him as he went. Kathryn had her hand on her phaser, fearing an attack, before she recognised the dark-haired boy.
“Harry?” She laughed. Amazing, the people you bump into.
Cadet Harry Kim scrambled to his feet, blushing profusely and muttering his apologies. When he saw who it was he had fallen against he snapped to attention and dropped his belongings again.
“At ease cadet… before you break something.” He was so young…what was he, she wondered, sixteen maybe? She could feel a lump forming in her throat.
“Is this your first year at the Academy, Mr Kim?” She ignored Chakotay’s sharp look.
“Yes Ma’am. Admiral…Lieutenant…I’m sorry about this…I didn’t mean to…that is to say I should be more careful, watch where I’m going….”
“Relax Harry!” I sound like Paris, she thought. “Tell me, cadet.… were you playing just now, at the concert?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He was so proud of himself, and so very, very green.
Janeway bent down and collected Harry’s things for him, brushing down his uniform as she did so and finishing up with a playful pat on his cheek. “It was a wonderful concert. The Comm…. Lieutenant and I enjoyed it very much. Thank-you.”
She dismissed him and watched with motherly pride as he beat a hasty retreat. Chakotay didn’t say a thing, but linked his arm in hers as they continued on their way, a smile hovering about his handsome mouth.
Janeway took the opportunity to take a look around his rooms whilst Chakotay had a shower. They had a comfortable lived-in feel to them. The walls were hung with tapestries and paintings; images of his home world interspersed with framed shots of early starfleet vessels, and sailing ships. The couch and armchairs were old but cosy, covered by throw rugs and cushions. A desk in one corner was cluttered with term papers, padds and a PC terminal.
Kathryn picked up a small, framed photograph from the desktop and smiled. Chakotay’s graduation photo. He looked so serious. All of nineteen years she guessed, and not one family member in sight.
Placing the picture back down, she sat at the desk and activated the computer on an impulse, placing a call to Indiana, audio only from her end.
“Hello?” Gretchen Janeway peered back at her blankly from the small screen.
“Mum, it’s Kathryn. Sorry about the link, I’m routing it via an Earth terminal and the visual quality wasn’t good enough….”
“Kathryn? Where are you? I thought you were on an assignment?”
“Yes, I am. How are you Mum?”
“Kathryn, I’m fine, but you sound awful. Is everything all right?”
“Everything’s fine. I’m just a little tired.”
“Get some rest honey, don’t worry about me. We’ll talk when you get back. I’ll bake some of those brownies you like and we’ll sit out on the porch, have a good old chinwag. I promise.”
Kathryn was shaking. She had so much to say, so much she wanted to say but couldn’t.
“Kathy? Are you there love? I can’t hear you.”
“I’m here,” she sniffed, her voice choking up. “I love you Mum.”
“I love you too, honey. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes. Listen, Mum… this is important. If anything were to happen to me, if I were to go missing and you didn’t hear from me for a long time, no matter how long …don’t give up hope. I want you to know that I’ll be coming back, however long it takes, I’ll always come home.”
“No! Don’t talk like that. You’re scaring me, Kathryn. Nothing’s going to happen, do you hear me? I can’t stand the thought of losing anyone else. You know how it was when your father died. Don’t you do that to me, Kathryn.”
“Just promise me … that you believe me, that you won’t lose hope.”
“I promise, honey. I know you’ll do your best. You always do.”
Wiping away her tears, Kathryn looked up to see Chakotay standing in his bedroom doorway.
“I’ve got to go now, Mum. Give my love to Phoebe will you, when you see her? Tell her I miss her.”
“I’ll do that. I love you, Kathryn. Take care.”
Kathryn ended the transmission and closed her eyes.
“I thought I heard voices.” Kathryn opened her eyes again and noticed for the first time that he was wearing nothing but a loose towel, draped around his waist. He looked good enough to eat. She cleared her throat nervously.
“So I heard. You must care for her very much.”
She nodded, slowly. “Yes, I do. What about you, Chakotay? Do you miss your family?”
“I’ll go and get dressed.” He turned and headed back into his room. End of discussion.
When he returned his mood had improved. “I’m starved. What’s for dinner?”
“What do you mean ‘what’s for dinner’? Aren’t you cooking?”
“Well, I don’t normally, but if you think it might impress you….”
“Forget it. I can replicate with the best of them. How does vegetable biryani sound to you?"
“Just fine. Thank-you. Er…. I have some papers to grade, would you mind…?”
“You want me to set the table too?”
Kathryn sighed. Maybe this wasn’t New Earth after all. So much for rank and its privileges.
Later, after they had eaten, she broached the subject of family again.
“Starfleet is my family, Kathryn. I’m Starfleet through and through, have been since I was fifteen years old. When I think about home, it’s Earth I’m thinking about, not Trebus. My parents made it very clear to me that they didn’t support my decision to enter the Academy. My sister was even less enthusiastic, if that’s possible. I’ve tried to make peace with my heritage,” he indicated the sand paintings and wall hangings. “I’ve even learned to respect the traditions and beliefs of my people. But that’s as far as it goes. There’s no love lost between my father and I. In my heart I’ll always be a ‘fleeter. It’s the life I’ve chosen. And it’s a good life.”
Dear Lord, thought Kathryn. He had no idea what the future held in store for him. In another four or five years his homeworld would be devastated by a Cardassian attack, his family all dead. A peace-loving, gentle people who could trace their ancestry back to Earth’s ancient Mayan civilisation, Chakotay’s tribe had chosen to settle off world in attempt to preserve their own unique culture away from the twin evils of science and technology.
When the Federation had signed that infamous treaty, and handed Dorvan over to Cardassian rule they had signed the death warrants for those simple colonists, including those who had chosen to settle on Trebus. And Chakotay had handed in his resignation and joined the Maquis, submerging himself in death and destruction. What must it have felt like to have been betrayed by the very institution he had dedicated his life to, she wondered? It must have torn him apart. More than twenty years of loyal and dedicated service down the tubes. Not to mention a lifetime’s worth of dreams.
“I’m curious,” Chakotay was speaking again. “Do you always replicate candles for a meal, or was this a special occasion?”
Kathryn hadn’t considered the implications of a candle-lit dinner when she was setting the table. She and Chakotay always had candles. She was tongue-tied.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were trying to seduce me, Kathryn Janeway. And you an older woman too.” His eyes flashed with mischief. “So much for parameters.”
“Quit stirring me, Lieutenant. I like candles. That’s all.”
“And the meal? How did you know I’m a vegetarian?”
“It’s in your files.”
“I see. And the herbal tea? Is that there too? And the mushroom soup…must be a very thorough personnel record. Perhaps you could leave a note to use less pepper next time. Although I’d say that you do have an amazing memory for details, Kathryn. Tell me, how does knowing my soup preference help you protect me from assassination?”
He had a point. She needed to change the subject. “Listen, Lieutenant, I think it would be best if we put our heads together and see if we can’t pinpoint those times when you will be most vulnerable to attack.”
Chakotay bit down on his bottom lip as he mentally reviewed his schedule. If he noticed the change of topic he didn’t make an issue of it. “Tomorrow, noon. I’ve been asked to test pilot a new shuttle. A type 12. It’s only a prototype, of course. The paint’s probably still wet.”
Kathryn did the equation. Chakotay + shuttlecraft = disaster. Since the accident in the Tau Ceti system, Kathryn had always been a little shy of the words ‘test flight’. She had already lost two men she loved to one of these. The thought of losing a third made her feel physically ill.
“You’re not going. Cancel the test. Tell them to find someone else.”
“Kathryn…relax. It’s just a little fun. And I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself.”
“Chakotay, please… Don’t you see, it would be the perfect opportunity for someone to get to you. They could sabotage the shuttle, hide an explosive on board, ambush you…”
“Come with me then. You know yourself, Kathryn, if I cancel the flight, they’ll only find some other way of getting to me. And I may not have you around to protect me when they do. Besides, I’ve been looking forward to this for months now. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten out from behind a desk. I miss space… I miss the freedom, the excitement, the beauty of it. And the type 12, by all accounts, is like nothing that’s gone before. It’s a long-range, high-speed shuttlecraft…”
“With warp nacelles connected to the ship by spars extending from the rear of the cabin. It’s highly manoeuvrable and capable of planetary entry and landing. It has transporters and is….”
“I can see I’m preaching to the converted,” Chakotay laughed. “You seem to know a lot the type 12, given it’s barely passed the planning stage. I can’t wait to see it. So how about it Admiral? Will you come with me?”
His enthusiasm was contagious. She grinned in spite of herself. Chakotay beamed. “You won’t regret it Kathryn. I promise.”
She shook her head. “I’m regretting it already.”
Rolling her head back against her shoulder, she winced. She could feel a headache coming on. Without a word, Chakotay left his seat and moved to stand behind her, resting his hands on her tense shoulders. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as his fingers began to massage her aching muscles. He could work miracles with those hands of his. And this was one luxury she could afford to indulge in. It felt so good that for a moment she forgot where she was, and when she was.
“Remind me to thank your mother for having those migraines.”
Chakotay froze. “You know, it’s been a long time since I looked over my files but I’d be willing to swear there was nothing in there about my mother’s headaches, or how I used to help her with them.”
“Oh? Must have been a lucky guess.”
“Somehow, I don’t think so. What’s really going on Kathryn? Who are you, and why are you here?” He moved around the chair and squatted down on one knee so that he was facing her as he spoke.
Kathryn came to a decision. “There’s not a lot I can tell you, Chakotay. Temporal Prime Directive. I’m … I’m from the future. My mission is just as I told you. Someone is going to make an attempt on your life. And I intend to stop them.”
“And you know me, in this future? We’re friends? Colleagues? Lovers?”
“You’re my first officer. “
“Ah. That would explain why you keep trying to call me Commander.”
“Tell me, am I any good?”
“You’re the best first officer I’ve ever served with.”
“I wasn’t talking about Starfleet. I meant ‘us’. Come on, you know about my mother’s headaches, about my favourite foods, my spiritual beliefs, and then there’s the way you look at me, the way I feel when I’m with you…”
“Chakotay … I’m sorry. I really can’t be discussing these things with you. I’ve already said too much. Please, don’t ask me to tell you any more.”
“Then give me something, Kathryn… something to hold onto, to build my dreams with. At least tell me whether or not we’re lovers. I promise, I won’t ask you anything else.”
Kathryn sighed and returned his steady gaze, “Let’s just say that there are some barriers we never cross.” She hoped he’d understand.
“I’m sorry, I can’t accept that… I won’t accept it.”
“Chakotay, you asked for the truth and I’ve given it you. You can take it or leave it. Just don’t make me pull rank on you.”
“Is that how it is, Admiral? You don’t want to consort with the lower ranks?” She hadn’t wanted to hurt him, but he had been the one to force the issue and now he would just have to accept the truth, no matter how painful.
“I’m a captain, not an admiral…Don’t ask me why the disguise. I really don’t know…. Chakotay, you know the rules as well as I do…there are protocols and procedures, reasons why we couldn’t allow ourselves to become involved.”
“I hope you’re listening to what you’re saying, that we couldn’t allow ourselves to become lovers. Which means that we wanted to, that we do have feelings for each other…That you have feelings for me. Am I right? Do you, Kathryn? Tell me, do you love me? Is that why you’re here now, protecting me?”
“No, don’t ask me that. Please, Chakotay…try to understand. I’m the captain of a starship; your superior officer. There were just too many obstacles…”
“How long did I serve with you, Captain? What’s the average tour of duty anyway? Three years? Five years? Knowing how I feel about you now, I can honestly say that I would have waited. You’re not always going to be my captain. I could resign, get re-assigned. We could make it work.” It was so like him, this need to make crazy promises neither of them could keep.
“Seven years, Chakotay. It’s been almost seven years. And there’s no question of you being re-assigned, believe me.” Her words struck him silent.
Chakotay stood and pulled Kathryn to her feet, keeping a hold on her hands, he drew her in closer to him.
“Well, we’re not on a starship now, Captain. And you may outrank me, but that really doesn’t matter, as I’m not serving under you - yet. So all your excuses, your reasons; they don’t count here and now. And I think you know that. Make love to me, Kathryn. Tonight. Now…. You know you want to.” When she tried to speak, he silenced her with his lips.
Kathryn sat back and watched as Chakotay ran through a series of pre-flight checks and requested clearance from the Utopia Planetia aerospace controller. Earlier she had scanned every inch of the prototype with her tricorder and deemed everything to be in order. Reluctantly, she had declared the small craft ready for flight.
“And are you ready?” Chakotay asked. He was all business this morning. He clearly intended to give her no reason to regret their night together. Not that she ever would. It was something she was going to treasure for the rest of her life.
The sex had been sensational. Chakotay had been more than wonderful; his lovemaking went beyond all expectation. He had proven to be as perceptive as he was persistent, forcing her to explore her sexuality in ways she had never before dreamt possible. Together they broke down the last of her barriers. Sometimes vocal, sometimes silent, Chakotay had the gift of being able to totally savour each and every blessed moment. Kathryn found herself drawn into an erotic whirlpool of sound, taste, scent and touch.
His sense of humour had been a revelation. Never had she laughed so much during sex. “Want me to show you the real Picard Manoeuvre?” he had whispered, and proceeded to demonstrate that despite his accent, Picard was undoubtedly born in France.
It was too good to last. Way too good. Her hot, wet arousal grew in urgency, fuelled by Chakotay’s own suddenly wild and mindless surge towards completion. When her release came Kathryn’s body was racked by a series of orgasms the likes of which she would never have believed possible. And afterwards he had taken her hand and placed it over his pounding heart, leaving her in no doubt as to his feelings for her. Looking into those deep velvety-black eyes, she wondered how much more special the experience would have been with her own Chakotay.
The following morning, Kathryn had showered and wandered about his apartment bare-footed, wearing nothing but an over-sized T-shirt of Chakotay’s which declared in bold letters: EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS…SHOW ME TO YOUR WORMHOLE…. much to his delight.
He had cooked a fine breakfast for them and she had been duly impressed. The subject of the impending shuttle test was momentarily forgotten as they explored their newfound intimacy. As the time for the flight drew closer, Kathryn replicated a fresh uniform and recovered her phaser, tricorder and backpack.
“Ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s do it.”
With the impulse engines already powered and ready to go Chakotay eased the craft out of the shuttle bay doors and into the blackness beyond. Looking back at the shipyards Kathryn noticed the skeletal structure of a starship under construction.
“Voyager,” she gasped, recognising the telltale variable geometry nacelle design.
“You sound like you know her.”
“That’s my ship, Chakotay…Our ship. And she’s a beauty.”
“Tell me about her.”
“She’s an Intrepid Class Starship, small but manoeuvrable. She was the fastest, most technologically advanced, ship of her time. We’ve been through a lot together, that ship and I. Oh, there have been times when I’ve cursed her alright, but my crew always knew better than to try it.”
Chakotay studied her as she continued extolling the virtues of a starship that was for him barely more than a twinkle in a design team’s eyes.
“Care to take a closer look?”
“Your wish is my command, Captain.”
After a time she became aware that she was being watched. “What?”
“I wish… I wish you would look at me the way you look at that ship. You really love her don’t you?”
“Chakotay… about last night…”
“If you’re expecting an apology, Kathryn, I’m going to have to disappoint you. I’ll admit that it’s not like me to come on so strong. And I had no right to push you the way that I did. I must have been lonelier than I thought. That, and you seem to have this ability to drive me wild. This last year I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about some of the choices that I’ve made with regards my career and my plans for the future. I was contemplating settling down, getting married maybe, perhaps even starting a family. And then you came along and I thought …I don’t know… maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I wasn’t thinking.
“For what it’s worth, I understand what you were trying to say, about protocols. I’ve spent most of my life in Starfleet and I know the rules as well as you do. And I respect them too. But if we did break any of those rules last night…I’m not sorry.”
“I know that, Chakotay. And neither am I…. But let’s concentrate on the flight right now, all right? Where to now?”
“Venus. I thought maybe we could buzz some asteroids. I trained there while I was still a student. It’ll be just like old times.”
“Sounds like a plan. Fire up the warp drive, Lieutenant. Let’s go scare some rock.”
It was well over an hour before Chakotay noticed the first signs of trouble. They had just exited the asteroid belt and he had been in the process of complaining about not getting a turn at the helm when he detected the beginnings of a spatial rift opening up off to their port side.
“This could be it, Captain. There’s a distortion forming in the space-time continuum. Are you reading anything?”
“I’ve seen this before. Someone’s generating an artificial graviton matrix. That can mean only one thing … a Federation time ship.”
A small craft appeared in the centre of the rift and grew steadily closer.
“It’s Federation all right. Just look at that warp signature.”
“Raise shields and try hailing them, Chakotay. Let’s not take any chances.”
“No response, Captain. They’re charging weapons.”
“Get us out of here.”
“Aye to that.” Chakotay’s hand flew across the helm controls. “Evasive pattern gamma…”
Boom. The tiny shuttle was rocked by a blast from the time ship’s disruptors.
“Status?” Janeway demanded, bracing herself against a console.
“Stabilisers are off-line. Shields are down. There’s some damage to the weapons grid but I think I can compensate…. We’re being hailed.”
Kathryn Janeway looked up and into the face of an old adversary. In fact, she would have sworn that she was a dead adversary.
“Ah, Captain Janeway. I might have known. Is there no way to be rid of you? But then, I’m a Captain myself now you know. The time-ship Einstein, what do think of it? It was a gift from that imbecile Ducane. He wanted some help with his workload. And I helped him, really I did…and myself too. Well, are you going to say something, or just sit there gaping at me?”
“Who are you?” Chakotay grated out.
“Is that any way to greet your ex-lover, Chakotay? But of course, you’re the younger version aren’t you? So young, so naive…. You look good with a little less weight on you, but I do rather prefer the tattoo. Don’t you, Captain? It was a good look… gave him an edge. I like an angry man, a bitter man; someone with nothing left to live for.”
“Leave him alone, Seska. If you have a grudge, it should be with me.”
“You’re so right. I do have a bone to pick with you. Oh, I’ll admit, things had been cooling down between the two of us, but one look at you, Janeway, and he was a lost cause. It’s funny, but for a while I actually believed he had feelings for me. Just goes to show how wrong a person can be. So now…and here’s a piece of luck… now I get to kill the both of you. A bargain wouldn’t you say? Two for the price of one.”
“Seska,” Chakotay’s voice was deceptively mild. “I don’t believe that you want to kill me. Take your time to consider all your options. I can see that you are a clever woman. Why don’t we talk it through? Think about it…”
“What’s so hard for you to believe, lover-boy? You don’t think I could kill you? Sure, the sex was good…”She turned to look at Janeway, who was blushing. “Wouldn’t you say, Captain? He sure knows how to show a girl a good time, doesn’t he?”
Chakotay glanced across to Kathryn. Returning his stare, she could tell that he was planning something. He flashed her a wink before turning back to face the viewscreen.
“You say we were lovers? Well, I honestly don’t have a problem with that. You’re an attractive woman, and obviously resourceful, intelligent…And, you’re a Cardassian right? I’ve always had a great deal of respect for the Cardassian race. Strong people, with no time for weakness or stupidity.”
He’s laying it on too thick, Janeway thought; but then again, she’d fallen for it too, hadn’t she?
“Can you tell me why you think things wouldn’t work out for us? I can see us making quite a couple. This could be a second chance for us. How about we give it another try?”
“Yeah… nice try, Chakotay. You almost had me going for a while there, but as you say, I’m not so stupid. And I’ve gone to so much trouble to have the pleasure of seeing you die. I’ve had so few real pleasures … So this is good-bye.”
Another volley of disruptor fire scored across the hull of the sleek shuttlecraft, sending them into a spin. Seska was either a remarkably bad shot or she was toying with them. Chakotay gasped as he turned to find Captain Janeway slumped in her chair, a gash across her forehead.
“Kathryn, can you hear me? Are you all right?”
Struggling to remain conscious, Kathryn wiped at the blood trickling down into her eyes and then indicated the backpack she had stowed behind her seat. “Listen. This is important. There’s a device in that bag that can send her back and destroy that ship but you’re going to have to beam it aboard, or close to. The activation code is 74656.”
“Voyager?” he asked. She nodded and smiled, weakly.
“Yes, Voyager… After it’s activated you have thirty seconds to get rid of it, or it’ll kill you.” Her head was swimming and she could feel herself losing the battle to stay awake. “Only … one … chance.” She was aware of a flash of sparks from her console and then the lights went out.
When she came to Kathryn found herself cradled in Chakotay’s arms. She was lying on the floor at the rear of the shuttle and he was removing a hypospray from her neck.
“Spirits, Kathryn, I thought I’d lost you.” His face was streaked with tears.
“You’ve been crying.”
He rested his cheek against hers and took a deep, shuddering breath.
“You stopped breathing. I guess I panicked.”
“Gone. Forget about her. It’s all over, Kathryn. You did it. You saved me.”
“How did you save me?”
“How did you do it?”
“Tactics – my specialty, remember?”
“Ah. I see. You mean you flirted with her.” She pushed him away and sat up, leaning her back against a bulkhead.
“You got me. It took me a while, but I finally convinced her that I wanted to run away with her and indulge in a life of crime and debauchery. When she lowered her shields for transport I activated your booby-trapped backpack and pinned my comm badge to it. That was one hell of a bang. Sorry you missed it.”
“Me too. I would have liked a chance to see you in action.”
“Any time, Captain. You just say the word.”
“You know what I mean.”
“So this is it? Mission accomplished? I guess our time together is almost over. When will I see you again?”
“Five years time.”
“That long?” Chakotay sat back and ran his fingers through his short dark hair. “Do you have to go? Can’t you stay here with me?”
“You know I can’t do that, Chakotay.”
“I’m curious, Kathryn. If you could stay here with me, now, would you? Do you have any feelings for me at all? Can you honestly say that last night meant nothing to you? Or did I dream the whole thing?”
Temporal Prime Directive be damned, she was going to tell him how she felt. She’d loved him too long and too well to leave him like this. He needed to know the truth. She couldn’t bear to see the hurt in his eyes as he had asked her that one last question. And that was when she felt the temporal transporters locking her into the annular confinement beam. She fought desperately to make herself heard but the last thing she saw before dematerialising was the look of despair on Lieutenant Chakotay’s face.
“No!” she yelled as she rematerialised in her ready room on Voyager. “Send me back. Dammit! I mean …please… I want to go back.”
“I’m sorry, Captain, I can’t do that.” The voice wasn’t Ducane’s. Whirling around Kathryn caught sight of a tall dark-haired woman in the uniform of the temporal police.
“Who are you? Where’s Ducane?”
“Relieved of duty. On a permanent basis.”
The newcomer snorted. “Temporal stupidity more like.” She stepped forward and offered her hand. “It’s an honour to meet you, Captain. I’m Captain Janeway also.”
“I see. You look familiar. There’s something about your eyes, they remind me of Commander Chakotay.....And yet you say you're a Janeway? Are we related?”
The future Janeway laughed and nodded, “Maybe is as good as you’re going to get. I’m sorry, but I can’t say more than that. This position is a new one for me and I don’t want to risk my job by saying too much. Ducane went completely off line…you wouldn’t believe the mess he’s left me to fix up. Lucky for me time’s not an issue! However, before I go, there’s something I need to ask you.”
“After the destruction of the time-ship, we had to block Lieutenant Chakotay’s memory of the time he spent with you. It’s pretty much standard procedure. He knew too much and it would have corrupted the time line if he had been able to recall those events. And we’re not all narrow-minded sadists either. Some things he was truly better off forgetting. Now though, when it’s all so much ‘water under the bridge’, I have an offer to make you.
“I can restore Chakotay’s memory. There’s nothing to be gained by suppressing it any longer. That knowledge can no longer be used to influence the past. It’s up to you. You can leave things the way they are, if that’s what will make you happy. Or you can give him his memories back and go forward from there.”
“Coffee, hot,” Kathryn barked at the replicator. Five minutes ago it had all seemed so clear. Now she had been offered an out, and it was so very tempting just to let things slide; let Chakotay go on believing that they were nothing more than good friends. She took a sip of coffee and turned to lock eyes with this future Janeway. With a quick nod of the head she came to a decision.
“For what it’s worth, you’ve made the right choice. It’ll take a few moments before his memories return. It’d be nice if you could help him through the transition. Good-bye and thank-you, for everything.”
Kathryn Janeway watched her namesake dissolve into a shimmer of blue light. Activating her comm badge, she asked Chakotay to join her in the ready room. She smiled and turned to face the opening doors. Suddenly, home seemed a good deal closer.
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