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EMAIL: jrossca@sympatico.ca


SUMMARY: After seven years the crew of Voyager finally get home.


The Homecoming


Chakotay carefully entered his override code into the keypad and held his breath as the doors swooshed open. Funny how noisy they seemed when one wanted absolute silence. He took a half step in, not enough for the door to close, and surveyed the scene.

No one in sight. No sounds of any movement, and only a faint smell of coffee. Well, that wasn’t too surprising, considering whose cabin this was. He took a soft step forward.

He almost made it to the desk.

"Good morning, Commander."

He whirled around and there she was, leaning on the doorjamb of her bedroom holding a mug of coffee. She was wearing only a man’s flannel shirt (his!) which just covered her ass and she looked absolutely stunning. Her legs were long and beautifully shaped and he couldn’t help but imagine them twining around.…….

"Mmhmm. They go all the way down to the floor."

"Ah. Yes. Good morning, Captain." But where did they go up to?

"You know, Chakotay, I think that when you’re in my quarters and all I have on is makeup and a shirt with two buttons, you should call me Kathryn. I might even call you Chak. What do you think about that?"

"Not much, sounds too much like Paris." Two buttons? What happened to the others? How or who…….

"Nah, he calls you Old Man. Well, I’ll reconsider, but I like it. Now, what’s with this unauthorized invasion of my quarters? Isn’t it a bit late for a Maquis mutiny?"

"Yeah, those moments have passed." Did she know Paris called her Old Woman, as in the mate of Old Man? Ma and Pa Kettle in Space. Somehow, he bet she did know.

"Moments?!" She laughed and walked towards the couch. Chakotay didn’t take his eyes off her and marveled at how his damn shirt refused to betray her modesty. Next time he’d replicate a shirt that moved more in a breeze.

She continued, "I wasn’t aware that there were multiple times of temptation, Commander. You’ll have to tell me all about them." She patted the seat cushion next to her. "But first, what’s going on?"

He joined her on the couch. "Well, it’s pretty simple, Kathryn. You’ve been so busy with all the formalities with Starfleet this past week that we’ve hardly had two minutes for a coffee. Today is the official disembarkment of the crew and I just wanted to give you a little something before it gets crazy. Just a little token from a friend who considered it an honour to serve as your First Officer in The Delta Quadrant Adventures. Who knows when we’ll have another two minutes for a cup of coffee together?"

He pulled a small package out from under his shirt. She watched him carefully and, not for the first time, noticed how good he looked in civvies. Not that she didn’t appreciate him in uniform, but a loose shirt, open at the neck and tucked into pants like those, well, give a girl a break. Her eyes traveled over his lap (gods!) then over his muscled thighs, and down to his bare feet. He loved bare feet, just like she did.

"Mine go all the way down to the floor, too."

Kathryn started and looked up at Chakotay’s face. His eyes were black and he held her gaze without blinking. Slowly, they both smiled and she ducked her head to hide the blush. Then she rose up off the couch and started towards the replicator.

"Where are my manners? I think we have two minutes for a cup of coffee now -- I’m having another one, what would you like, Chak?"

"Coffee’s fine with me, too, thanks." Chak? Good God. And what the hell would it take to make that dammed shirt swing open? He accepted the steaming mug as she sat down again and handed her the small package, carefully gift-wrapped.

"I hope you like it, Kathryn. It brought back a lot of memories for me as I made it."

She carefully opened the package and pulled out a silver charm bracelet, hanging it high from a couple of her fingers. It was exquisite, but there was something more to it. She looked closer. There was a little bathtub, and there was a tiny Delta Flyer. A pool table, a 1937 truck, and a rose. A leola root, a Maquis command bar, and a scorpion. A broken shuttle (she smiled), an amazing image of Queen Arachnia (she laughed out loud), and many more. But her favourite was the tattoo.

"Chakotay, I honestly don’t know what to say. This is the most wonderful gift I’ve ever been given and to think you made it yourself. Thank you so much. Please, would you put it on me?"

He bent over her wrist and said, "I’m glad you like it. But, in fairness, I only designed the specs for all the charms, the replicator actually produced everything."

"Still, it explains why you’ve been eating at Chez Neelix for over a month now. I was beginning to think your leola root scent was a new cologne." She paused. "I can’t tell you how much this means to me." And again Kathryn lowered her head, but this time to hide the tears that, for some reason, had started unbidden.

"Hey," he said softly and gently pulled her face up to his with his hand. "Don’t cry. Think of it as a medal for getting us through all the days in the DQ. You earned it; boy did you earn it."

She blinked back some tears but her eyes never left his. He didn’t feel his face lowering to hers and yet suddenly he was kissing her and she was kissing him back. Her arms wound around his neck and, as her fingers combed through his hair, he pulled her onto his lap. She hadn’t been teasing; all she was wearing was some makeup, his shirt, and now his bracelet. His one hand slid under the shirt and slowly travelled over her hip and then higher to support her bare back. His other hand searched for the two surviving buttons.

A communicator beeped and announced, "Tuvok to Captain Janeway."

"Oh. My. God." He groaned against her mouth. She was shuddering in his arms and catching her breath. Tuvok would catch any irregularity in her voice.

"How in the hell does he know exactly when to interrupt us? Tell me now, Kathryn, do you two have a signal? Has this been pre-arranged all these years?

"No, never. I honestly don’t know how he does it, but whatever his magic, I have to respond. Where the hell is my communicator?" She looked around wildly and he absently thought how well the wild look suited her. "Oh, to hell with it!" And she scrambled off his lap and ran to her desk, initiating an audio only link.

"Janeway here, Tuvok. Report."

"Captain, Admiral Paris is transmitting from Deep Space Nine. Would you like me to route it to your quarters?"

"Thank you, Tuvok. Audio only, please."

"As you wish, Captain." Chakotay caught the tone in his voice and looked at Kathryn. She winked.

"Kathryn! Have I caught you at a bad time? Should I call back later?" Admiral Owen Paris’ exuberant voice bounced throughout the room.

"Absolutely not, Admiral. Let’s just say you know me well enough as it is, shall we?"

His laughter filled the room. "It’s all set, Kathryn. Just as you requested, right down to the last point. There was some trepidation with the brass and I must say you haven’t made many fans with the press with your ‘invitation only’ reception, but it’s your show. Voyager’s homecoming is your baby. Can I do anything else for you?"

"No, thanks Admiral. You’ve done the impossible; I can’t thank you enough as it is. We’ll all be transporting down starting at 1600 hours. We should be assembled by 1630 in the auditorium for the official start of the end of our mission."

"Looking forward to then, Kathryn. Take care. Paris out."

Chakotay got up and walked over to her desk. She was still leaning against the edge and didn’t move as he came closer. He positioned his hands on her waist and hoisted her fully onto the desk. Then he kneed her legs apart and came as close to the desk’s edge as possible, putting his hands on her shoulders.

"Want to bring me up to speed with the ‘impossible’, Kathryn? Or is this a surprise for everyone?" He hooked a piece of hair behind her ear.

"No, it’s just that I wanted to hear the confirmation before I called the senior staff together. I wouldn’t mind getting your opinion on it before the meeting, however. Now that it’s done I’m feeling a little worried that it’s not going to be as popular as I hoped."

"Go ahead. Tell me." He kissed the part of her neck that the piece of hair had covered.

"Chakotay, am I the only one who considers the crew of Voyager as family? I mean, real family. I feel closer to these people than to many of my blood relatives although, considering some of my blood relatives, that isn’t much of a stretch. Or am I just wishful thinking?"

He looked up. "You’re really serious, aren’t you? Well, in answer to your question, no. No, you’re not the only one who thinks this way. I’ve heard it in the halls, on the bridge, in the messhall, everywhere. There has been a real ambivalent feeling aboard Voyager about reaching the Alpha Quadrant. And I feel the same way."

"Really? You’re not just saying that?

"No. I’m not just saying that. But why is this important to you?"

"Because, it’s part of the deal I made. There will be absolutely no arbitrary Starfleet re-assignments. All Voyager crewmembers, including Neelix, Seven, Icheb, and the families created during the past seven years will have the right to stay aboard after the refit. Or, if they choose to leave, they will head the list for any assignment they post for. Oh, and if they do choose to stay, they may bring aboard a spouse or lover if they wish. Voyager’s refit will accommodate this."

"Whoa. That’s interesting. The Intrepid class starship is hardly conducive to civilians."

"Actually, it isn’t as dangerous as it sounds since the majority of us have already paired up. And it’s not like we haven’t been carrying civilians, anyway. Neelix, Kes, Seven, Naomi, the Babyborgs for a while…. they all worked out just fine. They can just carry on with their regular duties and we’ll find non-military jobs for the new people who choose to come aboard."

"It sounds reasonable. Was that all you demanded?"

"No. I put in for crew promotions with no leeway for discussion. All crewmen are now ensigns and all ensigns are now lieutenant j.g’s. Except Harry, of course. I mean, he wouldn’t be Harry if he wasn’t an ensign." She laughed.

"I hope you’re joking about that one. That kid could write his own ticket out in the real world."

"Of course I’m kidding! I got him two grade jumps, up to full lieutenant, whether he chooses to stay or not. He deserves no less. And B’Elanna goes up to Lt. Commander, ditto. And, if she and Tom stay aboard, I retain the right to promote Tom to Lt. Commander when I deem it appropriate, with no flack from headquarters. Tuvok, of course, will become a full Commander."

"God, we’re going to be up to our asses in brasses. A ship of officers, now that’s a first. I really can’t believe that Starfleet is letting this happen. It’s totally unheard of."

"I know. But when you’re holding the cards you may as well place the bets. And, Chakotay, these people deserve so much. I feel I’m actually letting them down by only offering them the right to choose their next assignment and giving them their well-deserved promotions. They would have earned those promotions by now anyway if I hadn’t stranded all of us in the Delta Quadrant."

"No, not all, Kathryn. Almost a third of our crew would probably be dead or in prison now if not for you. We can’t forget we were once Maquis, even if you can. I don’t imagine Starfleet totally forgot about us, either."

"Actually, you’re wrong on that one, Chakotay. I quizzed them with every monthly transmission on that exact point, beginning with our first response. I gave them a deadline to come to terms with our Maquis crew with a perfectly sound argument. If they had any problems with any Maquis on board Voyager, we would simply turn around and go back. I left no room for compromise."

He stared at her. "You’re kidding! You threatened to abscond with a Starfleet starship in the event they wanted to put known terrorists on trial? Without even consulting us? Or the rest of the crew? Spirits, Kathryn, you’ve got balls, I’ll say that much for you."

"Nah. They waffled for a month or two, but I knew from Barclay that the Maquis score had been settled as soon as the war with the Dominion started. Starfleet doesn’t like the Cardassians either; they just didn’t like the idea of a mere captain calling the shots. I just demanded that it be confirmed officially."

"Would you have?"

"Would I have what?"

"Turned around and gone back?"

"In a New York minute, Terrorboy. Of course, I would have made appropriate arrangements for any crewmember that wished to continue on towards Earth, but my guess was that it would have been a tiny number. And, who’d want them sulking and pouting around here anyway?"

He shook his head. "Terrorboy, shit. You scare the hell out of me, and that’s a fact. So, since I’m already shaking in my boots, I have to ask you something. Are you asking a spouse or lover to come aboard?

She curled her legs around his and her arms around his neck. "Oh, c’mon, Chakotay. We’re not in the DQ now. We made it. We’re officially on leave, well, almost, anyway. Protocol is just a hazy memory until after the refit. I can finally admit that I’ve always loved you – Gawd, what a relief! Funny, I love bare feet, too, and that was one of the first things that made me comfortable with you. Odd, eh?"

"I don’t think so, it just seems human to me. But your bare feet, Kathryn, not fair! Red toe nails?! They made me hot every time. It was always a test to keep myself from grabbing them and going up from there -- and you knew it."

"Yeah, I knew. But there was nothing I could do about it so I just kept painting them to remind us both that I was still a woman behind the pips. I hated pushing you away all the time when I knew I didn’t want you to find anyone else, so I guess that makes me a mean, manipulative bitch. You can’t imagine how sorry and guilty I always felt and how relieved I am now that it’s all over."

She paused and for the first time her voice had an inflection of insecurity. "It is all over, isn’t it Chakotay? We’re home now, right?"

Chakotay looked down at her tenderly. "Kathryn, have you been listening to yourself? You bet your whole career on making sure that Starfleet couldn’t break up Voyager’s family. Love, you’ve been home for the past seven years and just wouldn’t let yourself believe it." He bent down and kissed her softly. "Yes, Kathryn, it’s all over. I can finally say I love you too, and so, Captain, I now officially inform you that I will be staying on Voyager as your First Officer."

"Oh, did I forget to mention that? It was my final demand. They tried to force an admiralcy on me but I told them to stick that idea up a black hole. Protocol’s been amended and they’ve given us a rotating joint command. Every six months we switch positions between Captain and XO. I explained how it would be the most efficient use of the command team since I would never relinquish my command permanently, but that it would also be quite possible that I’d be indisposed for chunks of time with babies. Actually, I think they’ve been toying with that idea for the new generational ships anyway, and they knew that Voyager’s crew was already solid with us. They finally said that Voyager had proven to be an amazingly effective testing ground for almost everything and that we’d be perfect for testing this innovative concept, too. And, personally, I’m looking forward to being in your face every six months to force you to take care of yourself. So, Captain, are you up to it?"

He found those two buttons and undid them. Then he slid her bottom off the top of the desk and onto his hips. He turned around and started walking them towards the bedroom.

"Yes, Captain, I am definitely ‘up’ to it." He laid her on the bed and whispered, "Welcome home, Kathryn."



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