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Rating:  G

                                                             PARDONED


By Mary S.




           Captain Kathryn Janeway listened in growing impatience to Admiral Hayes as he droned on and on – and on, about all the procedures to be followed once they got through the wormhole they had found and returned to the Alpha Quadrant.  If they got through the wormhole, which was a big ‘if’. 

           Harry had found it two days earlier; the probe sent through confirmed coordinates in the Alpha Quadrant, in a sector more or less on the border between  Romulan and Klingon space.  Voyager contacted Starfleet Headquarters immediately to let them know they were going to be home a whole lot sooner than anticipated.  And now this. 

           Janeway was paying so little attention that she nearly missed his last sentence. 

           “Excuse me, Admiral, I didn’t quite catch that last bit.  Starfleet has decided what?”

           “Listen up, Captain,” Hayes replied testily.  “We can’t waste time.”

           You mean I can’t, you old goat, she thought rebelliously.  You can waste as much as you please.  You’re an admiral.  She sighed.  Much as she wanted to get home, there were some things she hadn’t missed.  Stuffy admirals were at the top of the list.

           “I said, Captain, that upon review of all circumstances, and taking into account your unique situation, the Federation Council has decided to take no action against any of your Maquis crew.  In light of their exemplary service to Voyager, and by extension Starfleet, they will all be granted full pardons.  Furthermore, as a conciliatory gesture to welcome you home, all Maquis presently incarcerated in Federation prisons, will be released forthwith and also granted pardons.”

           Janeway was speechless.  She had hardly dared to hope that her people might get off.  To free all the Maquis was  extraordinary.  

           “Does that include Commander Chakotay?”  She asked cautiously.

           “When I said all, I meant all,” replied Hayes even more testily.  “Has your hearing been affected by your time in the Delta Quadrant?”

           The Captain was all apology.  “I’m very sorry, Admiral.  I find myself quite stunned, you see.  I was hoping they might not be sent to trial, but this!  I don’t know what to say!”

           “I’ll be frank with you, Captain.  Not everyone at Headquarters agrees with this.  However, the Council’s wishes take precedence over Starfleet’s.  The decision stands.  Welcome home.  Hayes out.”

           Janeway sat for some time, deep in thought, examining every word of the conversation.  No, he had been very clear.  She jumped up, strode to the centre of her ready room, and paged Chakotay.

           “Commander.  I’d like to see you in my ready room.  At once.”

           “Aye, Captain,” came the reply.  The chime rang for entry ten seconds later.

           “Yes, Captain?”

           “Chakotay, look at this.”  And she turned her desk monitor around so he could see it.  She replayed the last part of Hayes’ instructions, and then the part about the Maquis. 

           Chakotay was every bit as astonished as she had been.  He pushed the replay button, obviously not believing his ears.  When it had cycled through a second time, he turned to look at her, his eyes shining in a way she had never seen in all the time they had been together.

           “Kathryn!  I – I can’t believe it!  It’s too good to be true!  Do you think he means it?”

           “You heard what he said to me when I questioned him.  Yes, I think he does.  Oh Chakotay!  I never dared believe they would give you all pardons!  And the rest of the Maquis, too!  It’s wonderful!”

           As she finished, he suddenly let out a yelp of pure joy, threw his arms around her, and swung her off her feet.  She laughed and hugged him tight.

           “Oh stop!  You’re making me dizzy!”

           “Good!  I want to make you dizzy!”  And he spun her around several times more before collapsing on the steps.  She landed half on top of him, his arms still wrapped around her, both laughing in childish glee.  She looked down at his ecstatic grin, the dimples in full force, and couldn’t resist.  Before she had time to think about what she was doing, she kissed him hard.

           Chakotay was so surprised that for several seconds, he didn’t move.  But then the reflexes kicked in and he kissed her back, pushing his tongue against her lips to open her mouth.  She pulled back and stared at him.  He watched her carefully, willing to let her set the pace.  She licked her lips unconsciously, then bent and kissed him again quickly.

           “We better stop now, Chakotay, before we do something that I don’t think either of us is ready for.”

           He nearly burst out laughing.  “You may not be ready.  I have been for almost seven years.”

           She looked a little startled, unsure how she should react.  Before she could pull away, he hugged her tight to him.  He knew she would have to come to this in her own time, and he wouldn’t force it.  But for a few minutes, he wanted to just hold her and savor the feel of her body in his arms.   He buried his face in her hair and breathed in the scent that was uniquely Kathryn.

           She realized he wouldn’t push her, and was almost sorry.  As his hold tightened, she increased her own grip around his shoulders.  God, this man felt good!  She had restrained herself for so long, that to allow herself the freedom to just feel him against her, was almost more than she could stand.

           They continued to sit on the steps together for several minutes until finally she raised her head from where it had been buried in his neck, to look at him. 

           “Chakotay, pleasant as this is, I think we better go back to work.”

           He groaned slightly.  “I could stay here for the rest of shift – and a while after.”

           “I know,” she chuckled.  “But I think they’re going to be wondering just what is so private.  And the rumours will start flying all over again.”

           He let her go reluctantly and stood up.  “Kathryn, I …I would like to continue this, what we’ve started.”  He looked at her hesitantly.  “Will you have dinner with me tonight?”

           She smiled almost shyly.  “Yes, I will.  But I don’t want to rush anything.  We’ve come so far; we’re nearly there.  I want us to take our time.”

           He gave her that gorgeous, full-dimpled smile, the one that was guaranteed to turn her into a pile of goo.   Then he bent and kissed her very gently, running his tongue over her lips, one after the other.  She nearly came apart then, but her Captain’s training stiffened her spine, and she held herself together.  She was able to look at him in a reasonably coherent manner and even suggest that he make the announcement about the Maquis’ pardons to the crew. 

           He nodded, and they headed out to the bridge and back to work.

TheEnd

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