Part 1: A CHANGE OF VIEW

By Brianna Thomas

Rated PG-13

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and it's characters, mores the pity. This is written merely in admiration of the characters created by a group of talented actors. Quotes are lyrics from songs performed by Jann Arden on her album Greatest Hurts, © 2001, Universal Music. Once again, I'm using a Canadian performer, and here's a link to follow for her. http://www.jannarden.com/discography.php?album_id=14

Code: PG13

Summary: Takes place subsequent to Endgame at the first reception after the conclusion of debriefings for the Voyager crew. It is done in the first person from the POV of Tom, B'Elanna, Mike Ayala, Jenny Delaney, Harry, and Admiral Paris.

Dedicated to my pals in Koffee Klub who diligently stand for truth, justice, and the J/C way.

It's great to see everybody so relaxed after the past month of interrogation - Starfleet calls it debriefing - plus the poking and prodding of 40,000 medical personnel. Okay, it was about a hundred. All right, it was fifty, give or take a few, but it was more than my patience could stand, and B'E exploded at least ten times. And that isn't an exaggeration. Between being half Klingon, the stress of being back on Earth, and her postpartum hormonal fluctuations, well, let's just say she's been a little testy lately. I'm just glad I have the quick reflexes of a pilot.

Of course, the Doctor is highly offended at Starfleet for not taking his word that we're all fine. He sees it as a personal affront that his reports and his care of us are being scrutinized. Even after working with him as his medic for so many years, the size of Doc's ego still surprises me.

So here we all are at the first big reception, the entire crew plus families, and of course, eons of Starfleet brass. The press too, anticipating the official promotions and commendations to be awarded tonight.

Actually, it was the press that helped settle the issue of the Maquis. I have a feeling that somebody somewhere, like maybe a short red-haired captain, put a little bug in the ear of paparazzi, because the hardliners at HQ had to do some fast step-dancing regarding their planned actions. Seems the public is mighty tired of the whole thing after the horrors of war, especially since the Maquis were proven right. Not all the issues are completely settled yet, like the Doctor and Seven, but my dad tells me nobody's going to be prosecuted, which is a relief for the Equinox Five. It's handy having a dad for an admiral, because he told me all about how both Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay sat side-by-side, fighting tooth and nail for them, citing their exemplary service since coming onboard Voyager.

So, tonight we party a bit, as much as is possible in these new dress uniforms. I gotta say, they are damned ugly, and pretty uncomfortable. Harry's been tugging at the neck of his all evening, and B'E was complaining before we even arrived that the thing is about as comfortable as Klingon regalia, and that's saying a lot. She escaped a few minutes ago to the restroom, saying if she didn't get out of this room full of 'fleet brass, she was going to hit something.

Standing with Baytart, drink in hand, I look over the hall. Naomi has been dragging her father around most of the evening, introducing him to anybody and everybody. Right now they're talking to my dad, of all people. Right next to them, Gretchen Janeway is chatting with Reg Barclay, waving her hands around just like another Janeway I know. When she reaches up to pat his shoulder I nearly laugh. I wonder if gestures are genetic?

Just over there, Mike Ayala is introducing his tiny grandmother to Captain Janeway. Talk about the proverbial "little old lady;" she makes the captain look tall. The captain still appears tired. Now that we're home, I hope she's sleeping better than she did on Voyager. Often, when I would head for bed after a night in Sandrine's or working the late shift, I would meet her walking the halls.

Mike and Megan have been a couple for what seems like forever now; actually, if I remember rightly, since about six months after we got our original letters from home and he learned his first wife had remarried and had a kid. I wonder when he's is going to "pop the question." Come to think of it, a few minutes ago, Mike and Megan's dad were talking quietly in a corner, and at second glance, Mike has that edgy look of a man whose life is hanging in the balance, so I would bet my last bottle of Risan wine that tonight's the night.

Not too far from them, Harry and Jenny stand talking with Chakotay. The look in Jenny's eye is a combination of proprietor and predator. Harry isn't going to know what hit him.

Speaking of the Commander, I have yet to understand this relationship with Seven. Hell, yeah, she's beautiful, and got the figure of a goddess, but her personality leaves a whole lot to be desired. I know she's making great strides, and she really has tried to adjust to life outside the collective, but still... Her attitude continues to be part overbearing Borg, part immature child. Harry showed me how much having a friend can mean, so I tried to befriend her, but it always rankled me knowing all that brilliance was not her own, but the result of knowledge assimilated from millions of other poor souls. I can't imagine what in the universe Chakotay was thinking to actually start dating her. I know they've barely seen each other since we got back, so I'm hoping the time apart will have acted like a cooling off period. Although he and Seven arrived together tonight, she's spent the whole evening talking only with Tuvok, T'Pel, and the Vulcan ambassador, never making any effort to talk to any of us, not even with Icheb or Naomi. And after three years with us on Voyager, to me, that says it all.

I don't know. Even though B'E was spitting mad when she found out about the relationship, she insisted we both had to stay out of it, and she's right, of course. Even if I'd wanted to meddle, what the heck could anyone do? Just because most of the crew had secretly - and not so secretly - held hopes that Chakotay and Janeway would get together, it not our business. But it doesn't stop me wishing. I've always admired Captain Janeway - hell, may as well admit it - loved her in a way, and I just want her to be happy. For me, loving and being loved by B'Elanna, and having Miral complete our family has made me realize it's the only thing in life that really matters. Beauty, latinum or all the possessions in the world can't replace it. The life I have now, including my fledgling relationship with my dad, is because of Kathryn Janeway. And although my relationship with Chakotay was rocky at the beginning, I respect the big guy and actually like him.

Baytart is talking about Neelix. I wish he was here, and yeah, I'm a softy, but I still miss Kes. I'd love to hear her views on this gathering. She was such a combination of innocence and wisdom. I hope she's fulfilled what she wanted to do and be. Finding Dexa and Brax really set Neelix free, so how could I begrudge him that? Baytart excuses himself to get another drink, and I look up just in time to see the captain and Chakotay both turn from their conversations at the same time and come face to face.

It feels as though all air in the entire room just got sucked out an open airlock. I'm surprised every conversation in the place hasn't stopped, because if ever there was a historical moment taking place, this is it. I can see both their faces, and there are no masks, nothing standing between them anymore. As though every pretense, every obstacle has been swept away, and for the first time, the possibilities are wide open. Their expressions are of shock, and the intensity of the longing is stark. It's enough to melt titanium. I knew they were friends and that they cared for each other, but holy cow, I had no idea. No idea at all.

Chakotay's raises a hand and it looks like he's going to touch the captain's face, then he blinks and his hand drops back to his side. It's like he suddenly remembered where he is, or perhaps that he doesn't have the right to touch her. Captain Janeway breathes deeply, as though she's just waking up, and command masks drop back into place over both of their faces. Without a word, they both turn and walk away.

The whole thing took about ten seconds, but I know everything has changed. I watch as Chakotay goes to stand at Seven's elbow and says something in her ear. She nods precisely, excuses herself from her conversation with the Vulcans, and the two head for the door to the gardens.

I have to find B'E and tell her.

I've got money in my pocket
I like the color of my hair
I've got a friend who loves me
Got a house, got a car, I've got a good mother
And her voice is what keeps me here

Cardboard masks of all the people I've been
Thrown out with all the rusted, tangled, dented god dammed miseries
You could say I'm hard to hold
But if you knew me you'd know
I've got a good father and his strength is what makes me cry

Feet on ground, heart in hand
Facing forward, be yourself
I've never wanted anything
No I've, no I've, never wanted anything
So bad…so bad 1

*****

Kahless, the gods must be punishing me for something, because no sooner do I get into the women's restroom, than I'm confronted by Nechayev. And she's oh so nice, and oh so friendly, and I'm going to be oh so sick if I don't get away from her NOW. Condescending bitch, acting like she's bestowing some great honor on me by conversing with me, asking me about Miral. I came in here to get a break from wading through oceans of Starfleet brass, and this is what I get instead. The only relief has been the sympathetic look I got from Gretchen Janeway when she came in a couple of minutes ago.

I use the excuse of an overly stretched postpartum bladder to get away from the dear admiral and lock myself in a cubicle. Thank the gods Tom and I haven't had to stay in Starfleet quarters, or somebody would have died by now. Tom's mother, Doris, told me how after he was born, her hormonal swings were so bad, she took a flyswatter to Owen once when he complained about tuna casserole for the third time in a week.

So far, the biggest highlight of being back in the Alpha Quadrant, other than Miral, has been watching Tom and Owen tiptoeing their way toward a new relationship. It's been going way better than we could have possibly hoped, although I'm sure that presenting them with a grandchild helped a whole lot.

I will never, ever admit this to anyone, but while I'm hiding here, I use some of the techniques that Tuvok taught me to control my emotions. Speaking of Tuvok, it royally pissed me off to see that Borg ignoring the rest of us to talk only with the Vulcans. I've got nothing against them, but gods, WE are the ones who rescued her, WE are the ones who put up with her and helped her "regain her humanity" for the last three years. And she's giving us the cold shoulder.

I was relieved to see she's wearing an ordinary navy pantsuit and not those god-awful catsuits of hers. I admit, her arriving with Chakotay didn't help my mood at all. I just don't get it. What the hell was he thinking? Wasn't "thinking" that's what, at least not with his brains. I love the big lug to death; he's the closest thing I've got to a brother, and he's saved me so many times, including from myself. He's incredibly brave, and a brilliant tactician, but he's always had bad taste in women. And this is the worse yet. Why couldn't he just hook up Janeway, for crying out loud? She's not perfect by any means, but who the heck is? Certainly not me. But at least she's his equal in experience, sheer guts, and passionate determination. I'm starting to get peeved again, so there's just no way I can go back to that ballroom and deal with being sweet and polite and noble. If one more person asks me how I like being back in the Alpha Quadrant, somebody's going to get hurt, and wouldn't the press just love that? I sneak out of the restroom and head for the nearest balcony.

It really is a beautiful night, and I stand and breath in the fragrance of the gardens. Who would have thought it? - B'Elanna Torres, semi-kicked out of Starfleet Academy, so-called Maquis terrorist, now wife to basically a great guy, mother to a beautiful daughter, and returning "hero" from the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant. I'll bet old Boothby is laughing wherever he is.

I hear a voice from beneath the balcony that I recognize all too well and the tension starts to build in my jaw again.

"You said you wished to speak with me, Chakotay."

"Yes, Seven, I need to tell you something. I…"

"I also wish to speak with you, so this an opportune time to do that. While we were still on Voyager, you said you wished to be within transporter range of me when we returned home."

Chakotay said that? That he wanted to be within transporter range of her? Gods, that's…that's… I don't know whether I'm going to be sick or throw something.

"Yes, I remember. But…"

"But I need to tell you, I have made a decision about my future that will render that impossible."

I had been about to go back inside, but this catches my attention. I don't give a damn that I'm eavesdropping. There is a pause before Chakotay responds, as though this conversation is not going the way he expected.

"What have you decided?"

"As soon as Starfleet will allow me to leave, I will be moving to Vulcan. I have accepted a position with the Vulcan Science Academy. I believe that my emotional," her voice hesitates a second, "composition will be best accommodated in that environment."

"I thought you were looking forward to exploring your humanity once you got home?"

I know Chakotay well enough to recognize from his tone that although his words sound like he's trying to persuade her to reconsider, that really isn't the case. Makes me wonder what I missed while I was hiding out in the restroom.

"I was, but I find the curiosity and animosity presented to me on Earth to be very…" Again she hesitates, searching for a word. " - disconcerting. Here, at best I am an oddity and at worst, I am an object of fear and loathing, whereas on Vulcan I shall be accepted for what I can contribute to their society."

"I'm so sorry, Seven."

Damn. She's making me feel guilty, and I hate that. I really hate that. I've been so wrapped up in my own little world, I hadn't considered at all what it would be like for Seven here on Earth. Of course things would be difficult for her; why hadn't I thought of that and done something to help her? I hear Chakotay speak again.

"Weren't you going to have the doctor remove your failsafe device once things got settled?"

Her what?

"I have reconsidered that. With the arrival of Admiral Janeway on Voyager, there was not time for the operation, and I am finding handling emotions very…stressful. The contract with the Science Academy is for two years, and I will reassess things at that time. I am…sorry if this disappoints you."

There is a pause, and I edge closer to the railing to peer over the side. They're sitting on the stone bench right below the balcony, and Chakotay's back is to me so I can't see his face. His head is bowed and he takes Seven's hand.

"It's all right, Seven. I understand. You must do what is best for you."

"I want you to know, Chakotay, how much I…appreciate your kindness and your support. Everyone on Voyager has helped me over the years, but my relationships with the Doctor, Captain Janeway and most of all, with you mean more to me than I know how to say. I…"

Gods, she's choked up and I'm sure that's a tear on her face. Chakotay confirms it when he lifts a hand to wipe it away.

"Seven, real friendships last forever and aren't dimmed by time or distance. After what we went through in the Delta Quadrant, all of us on Voyager have become more than friends - we're family. And it will always be so. May as well face it; you're stuck with us."

She laughed. I would never have believed it, but she did. An honest-to-goodness laugh from Seven of Nine. They stand, and she leans in and kisses him on the cheek.

"You are a good man, Chakotay. You deserve much happiness, and I believe that you will find it."

She looks up toward the windows of the hall, and I draw back into the shadows. By the time I check back over the edge, Seven has left and Chakotay is alone. His head is tilted back to the sky, almost like he's praying or something, but I'm still unable to see his face. He's my friend, and I can't help wondering how he's taking this, basically being dumped. When he turns to head back inside, I am shocked at his expression.

He's smiling.

I hurry back in and scan the crowd for Tom. As I do, I spot Mike Ayala with a purposeful look on his face leading Megan Delaney toward the exit. Seems like a lot of relationships are changing tonight.

Lived a good life, lived a sweet life
Oh, I have a beautiful friend
I am breathless from the mercy of a smile
I am standing on the brink of the most perfect love
Oh I am saved, saved

I am saved
I believe I am not going to be
Like I was
I have changed
I am saved 2

*****

"Abuela, may I present Captain Janeway. Captain, this is my grandmother, Marguerita Consueles Ayala."

"It's an honor, Señora Ayala."

Two of the strongest women in the galaxy greet each other. I have always been impressed by Captain Janeway's gracious attitude - when she's not blowing someone out of the skies. Many times over the years when I witnessed the way she dealt with hostile aliens, I was reminded of my grandmother. So small, yet so powerful. When I was growing up, I'd seen many a man taller than me cower before the onslaught of a tongue lashing by Marguerita Ayala. Right now, something makes me look up, and over her head, Chakotay catches my eye and winks at me from where he stands with Harry and Jenny. On more than one occasion, he's been one of those big men on the receiving end of her chiding. He once told me, "Mike, even if I didn't understand Spanish, I would know exactly what your grandmother is saying, and she's not asking after my health."

Maybe it's because of our long friendship together, or watching each other's back for so long, but Chakotay and I seem to have an instinct when it comes to each other. So many times we've saved each other's butt, to the point that although he's always been my superior officer, I love him like the older brother I lost. I just wish he had better taste in women. I wish he could find real happiness; he surely deserves it. I've heard the rumors about him and Seven of Nine, and it saddens my heart to think of it. I always thought he and the captain would make as wonderful a team in life as they do on the bridge. Maybe it's just the romantic Spanish genes in me coming out.

I have lost track of the conversation before me, and realize too late by the twinkle in my grandmother's eyes, that she is about to embarrass me.

"Tell me, Captain Janeway," she asks straight-faced in her soft Spanish accent, "my Miguel, he was a good boy?"

I'm six feet tall, almost thirty-three years old, yet I have to resist the urge to squirm like a little boy again.

Without batting an eye, the captain replies, "Yes, ma'am. The lieutenant was a tremendous addition to our crew out there. We were fortunate to have him with us."

I am very surprised and touched by the captain's words. After a couple of minutes, the conversation ends and as we walk away, the captain winks at me. The duplication of Chakotay's action catches me by surprise, and she grins at my shock before turning away.

Suddenly, that instinct kicks in again, and I know something is up with my friend - my brother - Chakotay. Because of the crowd of people milling around, all I can see is the back of his head, yet I can tell from his frozen stance that whatever he is facing is almost shocking to him. Before I can maneuver into a better position to see what is going on, Chakotay whirls around and heads straight over to where Seven is in conversation with Tuvok and couple of other Vulcans I don't recognize. In spite of how long and how well I've known Chakotay, I can't even begin to describe the look on his face.

I have no time to think about it, because I have one more big introduction to make.

"Abuela, I would like to introduce Megan Delaney. Megan, this is my grandmother, Marguerita Consueles Ayala."

I hold my breath as the two shake hands. Megan is quite tall for a woman, yet she seems to shrink as Abuela looks her up and down. Grandmother turns to me abruptly, and my heart sinks at her stern expression.

"Miguel, a word with you. Now." She grabs me by the wrist and hauls me off. I glance back to see the shattered expression on Megan's face, and try to smile at her reassuringly.

At the side of the room, my grandmother turns to me and starts poking me in the chest. I can only imagine how ridiculous it looks, this tiny white-haired woman with the snapping brown eyes reaching up with her bony pointed finger.

"When, chico?" she demands. Whenever she calls me 'boy,' I know I'm in trouble. She sweeps on. "When are you going to do right by this Megan and marry her? Her eyes cannot hide how she adores you; she wears her heart on her coat. Ninety-two years I am now, and still my lap is empty. How much longer do I have to wait for great-grandchildren, eh?"

I couldn't have corrected her misuse of the English idiom if I tried, and I gape at her, speechless. By way of answer, I pull a small box from my pocket and open it, the lights of the ballroom glinting off the diamonds within. Abuela stares at the ring and as she slowly nods her head in approval, the tension in my chest loosens.

"And the girl's father?"

"Has given his blessing."

She frowns at me. "You spoke to him before you spoke to me?" Spanish feathers are ruffled.

"I told him I would have to have your approval also. He understood."

Smiling one of her rare smiles, she nods again. "Bueno. On the day she marries you, you will give her this." The gold jeweled cross she always wears is pressed into my hand.

"Abuela…" I know she has worn it from the day she married my grandfather, over seventy years ago.

She cuts my protest off with a gesture. "Who else am I to give it to, Miguel? You and Megan are all I have left."

Three years in the Maquis and seven more in the Delta Quadrant never touched me the way the approving kiss on my forehead does when my tiny grandmother pulls my head down with both her small hands. Tears sting my eyes.

"Now go." She pushes me firmly in the direction of where Megan stands at the side of the room with her sister, Jen. "Make me a happy woman," are my grandmother's parting words. When I look back, she is marching over to speak to B'Elanna's father, John Torres, her posture regally upright, like the flamenco dancer she once was.

Chell nabs me before I can get to Megan, and it's about ten minutes before I get loose again. All the while, Megan fidgets, casting anxious glances toward me now and then. I have no idea what Chell is talking about, but he finally winds down enough that I can excuse myself. As soon as I place my hand in the middle of Megan's back as I have so many, many times before, I can feel the tense muscles relax.

Jen already knows I plan on proposing to Megan tonight, so I just nod to her, take my love's hand and lead her out the door to the gardens. I can feel the questions simmering in her. At one point, we see Tom and B'Elanna in the distance, talking animatedly. I draw Megan off the main brick path to a small secondary trail. Under a weeping willow, we find a narrow bench. It is so dark under the tree, that we are completed secluded. No one walking by, or even sitting on the nearby bench in the open moonlight less than twenty feet away would even know we are here.

I repeat what Abuela said, and that her father says we seem to be a good match. Then I tell her how when I thought my heart had died when I received Teresa's letter telling me of her marriage and child, the fates brought me Megan to teach me to love again. I tell her she is everything I've ever wanted in a life-mate, that I love her with all my heart and soul. I offer her the little box and ask her to be my wife. And for once, my talkative Megan has nothing to say, but I think it is safe to assume from the stranglehold of her arms around my neck and fervent press of her lips on mine, that her answer is yes.

It is a minute or more before something penetrates my joy-filled brain. When I open my eyes and look at the bench across the way, for a disjointed moment, I feel as though I'm having an out-of-body experience, or looking into a mirror of some sort.

A large dark-haired man is tightly holding and passionately kissing a woman. Both are wearing Starfleet uniforms. It takes a couple of blinks before I realized I am looking at Chakotay. From the angle of his body, I cannot see the woman, but I know it isn't Seven.

I feel the moment that Megan recognizes him, and the sudden tension in her body warns me she wants to leave. Tightening my grip on her, I silently bid her to remain motionless. Chakotay didn't survive as a Maquis for so many years without having exceptional hearing, and any movement on our part will be detected. We are trapped.

It is Megan who recognizes the woman first and her eyes pop open wider than the time I took her to ride the ferris wheel on the holodeck. At the same moment, I hear the deep, husky voice I have heard raised in command on Voyager's bridge at least a hundred thousand times.

"I thought I'd lost you."

"I'm so sorry, Kathryn. I've been such a fool."

"No, no. It's not your fault; it was all my doing. Oh, gods, Chakotay, so much wasted time."

Years of lonely regret and tears are in that voice.

"Hush, love, you did what you had to do. None of it matters any more. We made it, Kathryn; we got everyone home safely and now we can be together."

"And I will never allow anything to separate us, ever - I swear it."

"Kathryn…" He sounds happy, yet cautious about such an all encompassing declaration.

"I love you, Chakotay."

"Spirits, Kathryn, I love you so, love you so."

I can tell Chakotay is crying. So are Megan and I. Her chin digs into my shoulder, and her tears wet my neck. The words that continue to pour out of them both, the laying bare of their hearts and souls, is unlike anything I have ever heard; words of apology, forgiveness, love and commitment, all interspersed with tender kisses. It is the most intimate thing I have ever witnessed, and I wish desperately to be anywhere else. Both of these courageous people had been my captains. This woman, whose strength and ingenuity saved us over and over from powerful enemies, now declaring that she cannot live without him, and this man, who sacrificed everything he had right from the beginning, stating that he would die for her. It is almost heart wrenching, how much these two had given up for us all.

It seems like forever that we are trapped there, Megan's hand pressed over her mouth, my arms still tightly around her. Finally, a distant sound is heard, something like a gong. I hear Captain Janeway speak.

"We must go back now, Chakotay. That's the signal it's almost time for the commendations and awards."

The two of them stand, and I think that maybe we are about to be released from our captivity. But two paces later, Chakotay sweeps the captain into his arms and whirls her around and around, until they are both laughing.

"I love you, Kathryn. Spirits, what a relief! I can finally tell you!"

Another kiss. The captain breaks away and begins dragging Chakotay by the arm. "Come on, we're going to be late."

As they walk away, Chakotay's teasing voice drifts back to us. "What are you worried about, Kathryn? They can't very well start without you."

Megan slumps against me, and I see the emotional exhaustion I am feeling reflected on her face. I love this face - love her smiles, her tears, her pouts, her anger. I fully intend that the first thing I will see every morning for the rest of my life will be this face. I lift her chin until she is looking at me.

"Not even Jen, Megan," I caution her. "We cannot tell anyone what we just saw here toni…"

Gentle fingers on my lips stop me. "I know Mike," she whispers, "I know."

I've never seen this kind of love
The kind that won't wash away
And then leave you in the dark
I would die for you, I would die for you
I would die for you

I've never kissed a sweeter mouth
I've never been swept away
It's what dreams are made up of
Don't you know I could not survive
Without you in my life
I would die for you, I would die for you
I would die for you 3

*****

Grandpa used to tell me, "Jennifer, you are like one of those - what do you call them? - Italian jumping beans. You jump here; you jump there. Never sticking with anything."

Every time, I would answer, "Mexican jumping beans, Grandpa. Mexican, not Italian."

He would always wave his hand dismissively. "Whatever. You mark my words, young lady. Someday you're going to get tired of all this jumping and flitting around you do and want to settle down."

And I would laugh at the very notion. There were too many places to visit, too much to see and explore. The only thing I ever found that I stuck with longer than two weeks was Starfleet because it gave me all the excitement I craved and more. Well, the laugh is on me, because I've decided I've had all I want of going, seeing and exploring. When I told Grandpa this week that I plan on applying to the Academy to see if they'll take me as an instructor, he laughed so hard I thought he would fall off his chair. I haven't even told Megan yet, and this is probably the first thing that I've ever withheld from her, other than the fact that Mike plans on proposing tonight.

Dad said just a minute ago that he's impressed with Mike, and it takes a lot to impress my father. Mike is such a sweetie; actually asked me if I approve of him for Megan. How could I not? She's been the happiest and most content I've ever known her since she hooked up with him. Their relationship is what made me do some taking stock, some looking around. And when I did, I found Harry.

He honestly cares about people. He was the only one to stand up for Tom Paris in the beginning, and unlike most people, Harry actually saw Megan and I as individuals. Early on, when Tom, Harry, Megan, and I had so much fun with the Captain Proton program, I knew that Harry was interested in Megan. Things in the DQ could be so tense sometimes, we needed those downtimes to just goof around, and it was then that I discovered there's a lot more to Harry Kim than just Ensign Eager. I used to think that Harry was naïve, but after a while, I figured out it's not that at all; he's innocent, and in spite of everything we experienced in the DQ, he's retained that innocence. He's not the least bit jaded, and when it comes right down to it, there's a lot to be said for that. He's smart, capable, and utterly reliable. Once Megan started seeing Mike, things changed, but somehow Harry and I still hung out together. We've become good friends, and sometimes I think I see something more in his eyes when he looks at me. I trust I'm not misreading things, because tonight I'm planing - hoping - to take this relationship a whole lot further.

Speaking of not sharing things, when Megan and Mike return from the gardens, it's obvious that both of them have been crying. But the happy look on their faces, and the incredible rock on Megan's hand, tell me everything's okay. But I know, I just know that Megan isn't telling me everything when she bounces over to hug me and show me the ring. I wonder what else happened out in garden? And from the way she keeps glancing over to where the captain and commander are standing, I would guess it somehow involves the command team.

It's time for the commendations, promotions and awards. I've heard that a special pin has been designed just for the Voyager crew. I hate that the press is calling us "The Voyager Survivors." It wasn't like that at all. We're not survivors; we're family.

The captain stands on a small platform with Commander Chakotay at her left shoulder, just like always. It strikes me how good they look together, how right it feels. It's like they're two pieces of cloth sewn together, and to pull them apart would ruin the garment.

Captain Janeway calls for the crowd's attention, and begins with saying all the usual stuff you'd expect at an occasion like this. Then she tells the crowd that we need to pay honor and tribute to those who didn't make it back. And she begins to recite - not read - names, one after the other. At first, the names are of people I don't recognize, but from Commander Chakotay's startled reaction and blinking eyes, I realize that she's listing the dead from his crew, the Liberty. Looking around the room, I see the same reaction in every former Maquis. When I see Marla Gilmore tightly press her lips together, I know the Captain is naming the dead of the Equinox as well. Then it's Voyager's turn, from Staadi and Cavit through to Joe Carey. It's not that long of a list considering all we went through, but long enough to tell everyone that the past seven years dearly cost us all.

Then it's on to the happier part of the ceremony. The commander hands her the pins and pips as each crewmember is called forward by name to receive their awards and in most cases, promotions. Not even little Naomi is left out. Everyone lines up in formation after receiving their awards.

Then it's the senior staff's turn, and I honestly think the roof could have fallen in from the cheers of the whole crowd when Ensign Harry Kim is promoted to full Lieutenant. The smile on the captain's face is genuine and I think she almost hugged him. The only other people with bigger smiles are Harry's glowing parents standing off to the side, madly snapping pictures.

Then both Commander Tuvok and Commander Chakotay are promoted to Captain, and I'm at a loss to describe the look on the captain's face when she pins that fourth pip on Chakotay's collar. It is joy, relief, and something much deeper. A prickle runs up my spine and I wonder if just maybe another close friendship might be changing tonight.

The newly promoted Captain Chakotay raises his voice to the crew. "Attention." We snap into place. "About face." As a unit, we pivot and face the crowd of families and Starfleet brass.

Captain Janeway speaks. "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the crew of Voyager."

The applause is thunderous. I have to say, I'm really moved to be a part of this experience, this time, this family. I'm so proud to be a member of this team.

When the ovation dies down a bit, another voice calls, and we turn back around. It is Admiral Paris.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is one more promotion to be awarded this evening. Captain Janeway, front and center."

From where I'm standing in the second row, I have a perfect view of her face. For just a second, her expression is one of utter dismay and shock and I know she had no idea this was coming. Then her face shuts down and she moves to takes her place before the admiral. The difference between her previous open happy smile is very noticeable.

"For outstanding service under extreme and prolonged circumstances, it is my pleasure to grant you the rank of admiral, with all the privileges and responsibilities therein."

The applause is even greater and longer than it was for Harry, and that's only fair. None of Voyager's crew, me included, would be here now if it weren't for her. Eventually, the crew is dismissed, and the press have a field day, jockeying for position. Admiral Paris and Admiral Janeway pose for pictures, looking happy, but something doesn't feel right. Scanning the crew, I see Tom and B'Elanna exchange glances and so do Megan and Mike.

Sometime later, the admiral finally gets to give Harry that hug, and while they talk, his parents approach. Mrs. Kim is the same height as Admiral Janeway, but practically engulfs the admiral in a huge hug. Come to think of it, neither of Harry's parents are very tall, and I wonder where he got his height from. After a couple of minutes, Admiral Janeway excuses herself to talk with her own mother, and Harry looks at me and beckons me over. I've met his parents before, but it makes me happy that he wants me there. They are lovely people, so proud of their son, as they have every right to be. I think that tomorrow their faces will ache from all the smiling they've been doing. He hugs them goodbye, since the whole crew has been given rooms here tonight. Once they leave, he turns to me with one of his beautiful Harry smiles that leave me breathless.

"So, Mike finally proposed." Harry tucks an escaping strand of hair behind my ear, and the lightly intimate touch sends a shiver of hope through me. "Are you happy?" he asks.

"Almost." Here goes nothing. I take a deep breath and whisper a question in his ear.

Harry's eyes widen for a second, then a slow smile spreads over his face. When he whispers his answer to me, his lips brush my ear, and I have to grip his arm to stand upright. Over his shoulder I can see Megan and Mike being congratulated by Comm…no, make that, Captain Chakotay. Nearby, the new admiral is talking with her mother, and tears of gratitude prick my eyes for everything I have. I have to speak to her, to thank her for all she did for us.

I tell Harry I want to talk to Admiral Janeway, then go to stand a little behind her, waiting for the opportunity. When Mrs. Janeway leaves I take two steps forward, but Chakotay beats me to it.

"Congratulations, Admiral," he says. There is a dark intensity to his eyes that I can't read.

The admiral puts her hand on his chest, and I am swept back to Voyager by the sight.

"Chakotay, I meant what I said in the garden. Nothing is going to change that, I promise you."

The garden. Where Megan and Mike were. I am turning to leave when I hear Captain Chakotay reply, "You can't promise me that, not now." Out of the corner of my eye I see him finger the pips on her collar.

The evening winds down, and not many people are left. I decide it's time, but before I head to the lift, I catch Harry's eye where he's talking with Allens. He gives me a smile and a quick wink, and I smile back. My heart is pounding and I can only hope that my face isn't giving too much away. I can tell from the look Megan gives me that she knows.

At the lift, I'm surprised to be joined by the captain, no, the admiral. This is going to take me a little while to adjust to. But here's the opportunity I was looking for earlier, so I seize it. "Congratulations, Admiral, you deserve it."

Janeway actually winces, but smiles nonetheless. "Thanks, Jenny. It feels a little strange, but I'll get used to it, I suppose."

Odd that over seven years, I'd never really talked much with her. A couple of times, I had to present information during a senior staff meeting, and each time I was so impressed by the fact that she treated me like I belonged there. "I wanted to thank you for all you did for us. I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for you." Somehow my words feel very inadequate for the gratitude I feel.

There are tears in her eyes. "Thank you, Jenny, but it was all of us. We were a team and it's because of how we worked together that we're here today. I could thank you just as much."

We are quiet for a moment, then she says, "Lovely news about Mike and Megan. I guess you'll be maid of honor. Do they have any idea when?"

"Megan said they don't want to wait long. Now that they're home, they're ready to get on with the next part of their lives."

"What about you, Jenny? Any thoughts on what you'd like to do next?"

Somehow I just know she's the right person to talk to. "I thought about applying to the Academy to be an instructor. Do you think I'd be any good at it? Do you think they'd want me?"

She looks me straight in the eye and I notice for the first time how tired she looks. The last seven years have been hard on her.

"Jenny, they'd be lucky to have you. If you like, I could speak to someone there for you, at least get you an interview. After that, of course, you're on your own."

The gesture touches me; she's still looking out for her crew. "Thank you, Cap…uh, Admiral. I would really appreciate it." I give her an apologetic smile. "It'll take me a while to get used to your new title too."

The lift doors open and we step in. "Admiral, what about you? What are you going to do next?"

She looks down at her polished boots. "Well, I need to see my sister; she's expecting again, so she couldn't come tonight. After some leave, I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of time helping the powers that be around here sort through the massive amount of information we brought back on the Delta Quadrant. I haven't thought beyond that."

I feel a strange compulsion to speak more boldly than I ever would have dared on Voyager. "Admiral, we're all so grateful to be home, but that journey is done. Like Megan and Mike, it's time for all of us to move on with our lives. You're not responsible for us any more, so you should just go ahead and do whatever you want that will make you happy."

My jaw snaps shut and I shudder inwardly. Gods, I cannot believe I just spoke to my former commanding officer like that. She's eyeing me in a strange way and I can't tell if she's going to laugh or tell me I'm out of line.

She does neither. "You know, I think you're right, Jenny. I'll give it some serious thought."

The doors open to the top floor where the senior staff has been given rooms. As I step out with her, I realize what I've done, and I can't help myself. I'm blushing.

The admiral smiles warmly at me, and as she steps over to what is obviously her door to key in her code, she points down the hall. "I believe Harry's room is that way."

I'm left standing there with a big, stupid grin on my face.

It's a while before Harry arrives, so I get to enjoy the fancy accommodations on my own for a bit. When he steps through the door, well, lets just say, he may not be an ensign any more, but he gives new meaning to the term "eager." I can't help wondering what lit a fire under my usually quiet, gentle guy. But I'm not complaining, definitely not complaining.

Take your coat and shoes off
Come and sit beside me
We could talk for hours
Or we could just do nothing

Give me all your disappointments
I'll give you my secrets
We could lay our heads down
Or be forever sleepless

Four billion people surround us
So many souls lose their way
All that we have is each other
And that's all I've ever wanted 4

*****

Man, these uniforms are uncomfortable. I tug at the neck for the umpteenth time, wishing for my old gold and black. The new regular uniforms are a little better than these dress ones, but not a whole lot.

It's been so great to be able to talk with everyone this evening; I've had a ball. I find it amazing when I think about how much we've all grown and changed from when we started out so long ago; seven years in the Delta Quadrant and I'm certainly not "green Ensign Kim" anymore.

The highlight for me tonight has to be watching a befuddled Mike Ayala being lectured by his teeny tiny grandmother. I have a feeling he didn't get away with much as a kid with her around. That's some fancy ring Megan's wearing, and although technically it's breaking uniform protocols to wear any jewelry, I'm sure no one will say anything, not tonight. Although, you never know with sticklers like Fleet Admiral Nechayev around. I'm really happy for them both, and I know Jenny is too.

Funny how people can just kind of grow on you. On Voyager, at first I liked Megan more than Jenny, but the more time I spent around her, well, my feelings for her changed. A lot. I didn't want to rush things, figured it was better to get close as friends, but now that we're home, I'm hoping she'd like to be more than just friends too.

Speaking of friends, I've not seen much of my pals, Tom and B'E, since Voyager got back. Everything happened so fast - Admiral Janeway arriving from the future, then sacrificing herself to the Borg, the battle, Miral's arrival, and then poof, we were back. I wonder what will come next for Tom? He's such a gifted pilot - he can make a starship fly like a hovercraft - but he's also really great at creating holoprograms. He could wind up being a writer. He'd be bound to do a better job than the Doctor.

Tom says things are going okay with his dad, and I'm really glad. My parents mean such a lot to me, I can't imagine how much of a hole it would leave in my life if my relationship with them was strained. This room is practically crackling with excitement tonight, but I'm sure my parents are the most fired up of everyone. Sometimes, it gets to be a little much, but I do love them. No one could ever have more supportive or loving parents than mine. I'm really glad that they like Jenny.

Thinking about parents, reminds me of Icheb's folks. Talk about the ultimate betrayal; your own parents sending you off to be assimilated by the Borg, just to get the collective infected with a virus. If my Mom ever finds out, she'll be wanting to take Icheb in and mother him to death. Maybe I should introduce them - probably do them both good.

Way back, I used to wonder if there might be something there for Seven and me, but that was just a passing infatuation on my part. I've heard the rumors about her and Commander Chakotay, and although I really want her to be happy here on Earth, somehow I just don't see it. Nothing against Seven, but there's a depth of soul to the commander that just isn't there in Seven. The two arrived together tonight, yet Seven has spent the whole evening with the Vulcans. And after all the time she spent with us on Voyager, I find that really sad. I know she doesn't mean to be rude, probably just that she's still really uncomfortable with social situations, but it makes it look like she just doesn't care.

Maybe it's like wanting your parents to be happy, but I'd always kind of hoped that the captain and the commander would get together. I know the regulations regarding fraternization as well as anybody, but it seemed to me that those two were so well suited. I got to know the commander pretty well and he's a good man, and working with the captain was nothing short of awe-inspiring. She's human - made her share of mistakes - but she's brilliant, dedicated to a fault, and most of the time, she's really nice. They both deserve to be happy, and not that anybody would care about my opinion, something tells me the best way that will happen is if they're together.

When it's time for the awards ceremony, and the captain starts listing the dead, you could hear a pin drop in the room. The fact that the captain recites the list from memory tells me how much every death has preyed upon her all these years. I'm almost blown away when everyone cheers when the captain pins that full pip on me. For a second, it appears as though the captain's going to hug me, she seems so genuinely happy for me. Standing so close to me, I realized again just how small she is, and I can see on her face how tired she is. I really hope now that we're home, she can let go and relax. One Janeway already sacrificed everything for Starfleet and Voyager's crew, and I think that's more than enough.

The light on her face when she pins the extra pip on Chakotay is something to see, and it's starts me wondering if maybe there's hope. They've been friends even longer than Jenny and I. Captain Chakotay calls us to attention and Captain Janeway presents us to the crowd. A big lump forms in my throat, and I've never been prouder to be a part of Starfleet, and most especially, this crew. We're a family, and we did it together.

Then Admiral Paris calls for the crowd's attention and presents the promotion to Captain Janeway. I'm frankly shocked at her reaction. Rather than pleasing her, all the joy disappears from her face, and just for a second, her eyes flick over to Captain Chakotay's with undisguised consternation. Then the command face I know so well drops into place and she goes to receive her pip.

The applause for her is overwhelming and so much deserved. None of us would be here if it weren't for her. It takes Chakotay a couple of seconds before he joins in and I'm sure those are tears he's blinking back, and suddenly I get it. Once again, she's above him in rank. Does that mean…? Do they want to…? Surely now that we're back and she's not his commanding officer things could work out, couldn't they?

After the pictures, I get a chance to speak to Admiral Janeway. The Admiral from the future that I met on Voyager seemed so driven, so bitter and I desperately don't want that for her. She deserves a better life than that, but I have no clue what to say or do. Before I can even get a word out, she pulls me into a hug, and for a second, it feels like she's hanging on for dear life.

There are tears in her eyes when she lets me go. "Lieutenant." She addresses me formally but pats my face, then touches the pip she just put there. "You've deserved this for so long. Of all my regrets, it's one of the biggest that I couldn't promote people the way they should have been."

"We understood, Cap…Admiral." She grimaces slightly at the title. I'm going to do it; I'm going to say something. "Admiral, what about you? What will…?" Just then, my parents approach, and the moment is lost.

The admiral's mother is ready to leave, so Admiral Janeway excuses herself to talk with her. I can only hope things work out for her, she means such a lot to me. Over the years, she's been my commanding officer, mentor, friend, part mother/part big sister. It just makes me more determined that I'm not going to let this chance with Jenny slip by, so I beckon her from across the room to join me and my folks.

After my parents leave, I give into the urge to touch Jenny, and tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, as I ask if she's happy about Mike and Megan's engagement. There's a look in her eyes, a tentative, yet hopeful expression. Her reply of, "Almost," confuses me for a second, until she whispers in my ear, asking me for the entrance code to my room upstairs. I'm more than happy to give it to her and I deliberately let my lips brush her ear as I tell her. I'd say from her reaction that she didn't mind.

Jenny says she wants to say thank you to Admiral Janeway for everything and goes to stand a little behind where's she's still talking with her mother. I don't know if Jenny will get her chance or not, because I can tell Chakotay also wants to talk with the admiral. It's a while before I see Jenny heading for the lift, and I give her a wink and a smile that she returns. Seems the admiral has decided to call it a night too, because she follows Jenny out. Just before she exits, she looks back and for a brief second, catches Chakotay's eye. The look they exchange is hotter than a binary pulsar, then she's gone.

Tom calls me over, then he and B'Elanna invite me to the Paris's for a barbecue next week to just hang out. Seems that Naomi has been begging to come over and see the baby. B'E says Miral eats constantly, and I bet she's grown a ton in the last month. When I ask if I can bring Jenny, Tom gives me that knowing grin of his.

"Fine by me. What about you, hon?"

B'Elanna plays along, "I don't know, let me think about it." She taps her foot and gazes in silence at the ceiling for a bit, then smirks at me. "Yeah, okay, bring her along, too." She stretches up to kiss my cheek. "If she hurts you, I'll have to break her legs."

I grin at my friends. "I'll be sure to tell her that."

A number of people have already left, including Captain Chakotay, and after getting stopped by Chell for a few minutes, I finally make it to the lift. I think when Chell inherited the mess hall, he also inherited Neelix's gift of the gab.

My heart is starting to pound with combined nerves and excitement as I step off the lift and start down the hall toward my room. As I pass one door, I hear a strange noise that makes me pause. It sounds like someone's in pain. In a couple of seconds, I recognize the voices of my former commanding officers, but unlike I've ever heard them before, and I know it's not pain I'm hearing. When I look at the door number, I see I'm standing outside Janeway's room, and from the sound of things, Chakotay must have barely made it inside the door before they… My first reaction is joy, then my whole body flushes hot.

All of a sudden, my nerves are totally gone, and I really, really want to see Jenny. Right now.

I feel like you know me
I know, well, I know, I know you do
I've got this thing going on inside my head
I've got this thing for you

I feel like you know me well
I've tried to let you see me for yourself
I feel like I'm…I'm out of my head
I've got this thing for you

I like your face, I like your body, like your feet, I like your nose
I like your chest beneath the covers, like your heart, I like your soul
I like your life inside me pounding like a heart inside a dream
Inside a dreamer that's been dreaming of a perfect symphony

I like the way you walk beside me like a paper in the wind
The way you swing your arms so gladly, where you end and I begin
I like everything
About you
Baby, I do 5

*****

That Naomi Wildman is one smart little whippersnapper. Reminds me of Tom when he was her age. I'll never forget the first time I sat him at the controls of a shuttle when he was about eight years old. His mother would have had an old fashioned coronary if she'd known about it.

Tonight I learned that like his old man, my son is an observer of people. I've always enjoyed watching people's actions and reactions, and assessing what's really happening. One of the people I've been studying is my own son, and I realize that at the same time as he's been socializing, he too has been observing the goings on. Nice to know he inherited something from me besides his receding hairline. I can tell from the sudden tension in his body that he's spotted something interesting, but it's gone before I can see what it was.

I've been discovering a lot of things about my son in the last four weeks. We both decided to approach things as though we're meeting someone new, because in a very real way, we are. Before Voyager started its journey, I had already lost my son, and then I lost him again when the ship disappeared, and I will never be the same. When I got the letter he wrote while he was in the brig for thirty days, I initially wondered if he'd changed at all, but by the time I finished reading it, I knew he was changed every bit as much as I've been.

I see it in his face, in his eyes, when he talks about some of their experiences, some of the people he met. I see it in the way he looks at his wife and daughter. I know this young woman, B'Elanna, has as much to do with the change in my son as anyone, probably every bit as much as Kathryn Janeway's influence too.

Hard to recognize little Katie Janeway in the powerful woman I see aptly handling crew, families, and press. Gretchen is almost as excited as the Kims, and I wish Edward was here to see this. He'd be so proud of his girl, and rightly so. What she accomplished is nothing short of amazing, astonishing. The way Tom talks about her, it's obvious that her whole crew would lay down their lives for her without a second thought. And the way she fought so hard for them all during some of the sessions we've had, it's obvious the feeling is mutual. I know I'll never be able to thank her enough for what she did for my son. I messed things up, and Katie Janeway fixed them, and for that I'll always be grateful.

But the cost is so visible in her, and I don't like some of the things I'm seeing. There are lines and shadows on her face that have nothing to do with being seven years older. There's a sorrow about her that I can't put my finger on. She's obviously paid dearly; the logs make it clear that she's sacrificed more in seven years than most captains ever have to in an entire career. Just her encounters with the Borg are enough to give someone nightmares for weeks, let alone those characters, the Viidians, or the Hirogen. It's almost time for the awards ceremony, and I hope the surprise we have for Katie will take away some of the sting of all she endured.

I could have sworn that I just saw the same young woman draped all over two different crewmen, one of whom is young Harry Kim. I suppose he's not all that young any more - should be going on, what? Thirty I guess. Ah, I remember now. That must be the twins - Denby? Daily? Something like that. One of the girls flies over to the other, all teary-eyed, waving about what looks like an engagement ring. There's a tall dark fellow with a happy grin following behind who has to be the prospective groom. I think it's nice, but I only hope Nechayev or McDuff don't catch sight of that ring; those two can be such pricks when it comes to adherence to protocols.

That former Borg has been at the side with the Vulcan contingent most of the evening, although she disappeared for a while. Tom told me that she and Commander Chakotay have been seeing each other, which really surprises me. No accounting for taste, I guess. Certainly, she's a beautiful woman, or at least, part woman. I haven't been involved in any of her debriefings, but from what I've heard, she's pretty much a cold fish, and that doesn't strike me as Chakotay's type.

Interesting. Chakotay and Katie just arrived back from the gardens, and I'd say something's up. Now that would make an interesting couple. Wonder what Edward would think?

The joy and pride in Katie as she gives out the commendations is palpable. I could swear she almost hugged Harry Kim. But when I see the look on her face as she pins on Chakotay's new pip, my years of assessing people comes to hand. She's doing a fairly good job of controlling herself, but she can't totally hide it; she loves him. And I think it's safe to say from the way he looks at her, it's mutual. Doris says I'm awfully softhearted for a curmudgeon, and it's especially true when it comes to Katie Janeway. I only hope what's coming will help.

When I see the way the joy vanishes and the command face appears when I announce her promotion, I have my doubts. She thanks me, but won't meet my eyes. As we pose for the requisite pictures for the press, I can feel the tension in her.

My life has been Starfleet, and there's good and bad things about that. My family paid dearly for my long absences, along with meetings and calls at all hours. I couldn't ask for a better wife than Doris, but I realize it's been hard on her at times. I know some of my peers would drum me right out on my ass and consider me a heretic if they ever heard me say this, but as much as I love Starfleet, I know there's more to life that this organization. Katie's sacrificed enough of herself to Starfleet and I think it's time she got a more rounded life. Maybe I'll see if I can talk to her about that. When I see the look that Katie and Chakotay exchange just before she leaves, I think maybe I won't need to after all.

One of things I don't like about being an admiral, especially being one of the "hosts" of an evening, is having to stick around until the end. I'm not getting any younger, and I'd really prefer to be heading to bed. But as I've always done, and will continue to do until I retire, the call of duty prevails over personal preferences.

Finally, there's hardly anybody left when I join my son leaning against a wall, watching the maintenance crew beginning their cleanup. "Where's your mother?" I ask.

"She and B'E went to the ladies' room."

We both sigh, knowing we're in for a long wait. After a minute, Tom starts to laugh.

"What?"

"Look at us," he says.

I take a good look and start to laugh as well. We've assumed identical positions; leaning against the wall, arms folded, right ankle crossed over left. Mutt and Jeff, we are. Father and son.

An aide skids to a stop right in front of me. Why is it that these young ones always look like some demon is chasing them?

"Sir, you have an urgent in-house communication."

At this hour? I sigh. Can't there be even one night without some emergency cropping up? "Who's it from, Ensign?" Maybe I can palm it off on someone else.

"It's from Admiral Janeway, sir."

Admiral Janeway? Just for a brief moment, my mind thinks of Edward, but when Tom stiffens and straightens up, I remember. Katie. Now I'm concerned. "Patch it through in here." I indicate a side room.

By the time I return, the women are back. "Owen," Doris asks with a worried look, "is Katie all right?"

"Oh, I'd say so. I'll be meeting her in my office in about ten minutes."

Tom pipes up. "Shall I just take Mom home with us?"

"No. Sorry, my dear, I know it's late, but I need you on this one." I'm about to turn toward the doors, then look over my shoulder. "Actually, Katie didn't specify, but you two may as well come along also."

"What's happening?" my daughter-in-law asks.

"A wedding," I reply and keep walking. After a couple of steps, I realize that nobody is with me, and I look back. It's impossible to contain my grin at the three blank faces that stare at me. Tom is the first to recover and starts to laugh. He's laughing so hard, he has to lean on his wife. I can't help joining him when I think how the expressions of shock and confusion worn by Doris and B'Elanna will probably be mirrored on Alynna Nechayev's face when I drop the copy of that marriage certificate on her desk tomorrow. I have a feeling things are going to be rather interesting around here for the next little while.

Four billion people surround us
So many souls lose their way
All that we have is each other
And that's all I've ever wanted 4

The End

1 Good Mother. Written by Jaan Arden Richards and Robert Foster © 1994 PolyGram Songs (Canada)
2 Saved. Written by Jaan Arden Richards and Jeffrey Vanston © 1997 PolyGram Music Publishing (Canada)
3 I Would Die For You. Written by Jaan Arden Richards © 1993 PolyGram Songs (Canada)
4 Sleepless. Written by Jaan Arden Richards and Russell Broom © 1999 Universal Music Publishing
5 Thing For You. Written by Jaan Arden Richards and Russell Broom © 2001 Universal Music Publishing

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On to Part 2 "A Change of Perspective", written from Kathryn and Chakotay's POV. Part 2 is rated NC17
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