Disclaimer: Paramount still owns ‘em, more’s the pity

Rating:  PG-13

                                                   TEN YEARS

By Mary S.

Prologue:  2378

           Kathryn Janeway stared out the viewport of her ready room, contemplating the landscape of stars in front of her – a very familiar landscape.  Alpha Quadrant, sector 001.  Earth.  Home.  She should be giddy, she told herself, dancing with the sheer joy of knowing they had done it, they had brought Voyager home.  Instead, she felt torn – glad to be back, relieved that finally the never-ending burden of her captaincy would be taken from her for a little while, but, overall, sad that her family would be breaking up.  Oh, there would be reunions, get-togethers from time to time, but it wouldn’t be the same.                               

           As she picked up her coffee, she sighed.  There was another reason too, she had to admit, why she felt so confused – Chakotay.  The time had come to make a decision:  did she continue to put her career first or follow her heart and bid Starfleet goodbye?  She was under no illusions either way.  If she chose to make a life with him, her career was gone.  Command had already hinted that they were not about to forgive and forget the Maquis; they would see her action as betrayal.  If she went on without him, she had no doubt an admiral’s chair was hers anytime she wanted it.

           What to do.  She went at it from another angle – her feelings.  But that resulted in even more confusion.  She didn’t know if what she felt was genuine love, or just a very close friendship.  She was so used to his presence, his support.  To think of being without it made her shudder.  And yet, she had always been independent, her own person.  She should not be that reliant – on anyone.  Never had been before.  Well, not since Justin’s death over twenty years ago.

           What to do.  She didn’t know, couldn’t make up her mind, and abruptly walked back to her desk.  The message light on her monitor was flashing, a pile of padds awaited her attention.  She sat down and absorbed herself in work.  She would think about Chakotay later.

Part 1:

           The captain and crew of the long lost ship Voyager were greeted with a huge welcome home party at Starfleet headquarters.  The ship was actually allowed to land – a very rare privilege – and a red carpet was rolled up to the foot of the ramp.  Janeway, with Chakotay at one shoulder and Tuvok at the other, led her polyglot crew out to thunderous cheering and applause.  The crowd was enormous, stretching as far as she could see.  Why, there must be a hundred thousand people here!  All shouting and waving in a great cacophony of noise that rolled over them and across the open space behind, startling anyone who didn’t already know that Voyager had come home.

           At the front of this vast assemblage stood the president of the Federation himself (she could tell who he was by the special collar he wore).  Flanking him were the admirals, and just behind, a very excited group of people, either jumping up and down or standing with huge smiles pasted on their faces – the families.

           The crew lined up behind the senior staff and, as one, stood at attention.  The president stepped forward. 

           “Captain Janeway, crew of Voyager.  Welcome home.  You are the first good thing to happen to us in far too long.  We are all so very, very glad to have you back.”  He walked up to her, took both her hands in his, then kissed her formally on both cheeks.

           She smiled up at him and thanked him on behalf of them all.  He turned back to face the throng, smiled at their impatience and called – “Come on, you’ve waited long enough!”  In a second, they were enveloped by the horde.

           In the first mad rush, Janeway could see no face she knew, but then she heard a very familiar voice.  “Kathryn! Kathryn!” and a moment later, her mother was hugging her hard, tears pouring down her face.  Her sister Phoebe was right behind; in another second, all three were wrapped tightly around each other, crying softly.  In that moment, Kathryn Janeway finally believed she really was home.

           From a few feet away, Chakotay watched, smiling.  He was glad to see her so happy – he knew only too well what a burden she had carried.  At the same time, he was just a little envious – no one was there to greet him.  As if sensing his thoughts, Kathryn looked up, caught his eye and immediately beckoned him to her.

           “Mom, Phoebe, this is my first officer, Chakotay.  Without him, we would not be here.”  Neither Gretchen nor Phoebe missed the very real affection in her voice.  This man was a lot more than just second-in-command.  Both looked him over quickly but thoroughly, then both smiled.  Gretchen held out her arms.  “Welcome home, Chakotay.” 

           He laughed and stepped into her hug.  “Thank you, Mrs. Janeway.  I am very glad to be back.”

           “No Mrs. Janeway.  My name is Gretchen.  Use it.”

           “Yes ma’am.”  She chuckled, hugged him again and released him.  “My daughter Phoebe.”

           Phoebe Janeway in turn gave and received a hug.  She was most impressed with him and extremely curious about just what the relationship was between him and her sister.  She would have to grill Kathryn later.

           At that point, Admiral Paris came up to them, a somewhat bemused expression on his face.  He must have met B’Elanna, thought Kathryn and glanced at Chakotay.  He was obviously thinking the same thing – there was a definite twinkle in his eye.

           “Kathryn!”  And Paris hugged her.  “Thank you for bringing home my son.”

           “I was very glad to have him with me, Admiral.  Tom saved us all more than once.  May I introduce my first officer, Commander Chakotay.”

           “Commander”, acknowledged Paris.  He shook hands but there was a distinct reserve in his tone that hadn’t been there a moment before.  He turned back to Janeway who hadn’t missed any of the exchange.  Her chin came up and she looked Paris straight in the eye.

           “The commander is my best friend as well as closest colleague, Admiral.  You will treat him with the same respect you do me.”

           Paris had the grace to look slightly embarrassed.

           “Kathryn,” began Chakotay, not wanting to provoke a scene, “it’s all right.  I’m sure the admiral is not the only one in Starfleet who is uncomfortable around me.”

           “Thank you, Commander,” cut in Paris dryly.  “I can fight my own battles.”  He looked at Janeway.  “He is right, though, Kathryn.  There is a lot of resentment of the Maquis.”

           “Even now?  What’s left to resent?”

           “A lot of people went through a great deal of turmoil because of them.  The general public doesn’t care one way or another, but in Starfleet, it’s a different story.”

           Chakotay’s face had hardened during this exchange, although he remained silent.  Gretchen stepped in.

           “Enough, Owen.  This is a happy day.  Time to celebrate.  Chakotay, are you meeting anyone or will you join us?”

           “No, Gretchen, I’m not.  But I don’t want to intrude.”

           Phoebe took his arm.  “You’re not.  Come.  I want to hear all about you.”  And in an aside to Kathryn.  “He’s absolutely gorgeous, darling.  Is he yours, or can I have him?”

           They all burst out laughing, which defused the tension just as Phoebe had intended.  Chakotay looked at her with new interest.  She might look like her sister but her personality was quite different.  He allowed her to lead him away.  Kathryn spoke a moment longer to Paris before following with her mother.  It felt good to be home.


           Two weeks later, Janeway was seriously wondering if she should have stayed in the Delta Quadrant.  Day after day she spent at Headquarters, first in debriefing, then in argument with one admiral after another, trying to get pardons for her Maquis crew.  She had realized very quickly that while she might be Starfleet’s ‘golden girl’ right now, there were limits to what they would allow.  And the Maquis were on the other side.  Their argument was simple – all the other Maquis captured had been prosecuted; why should hers be treated differently?  She simply could not make them understand that these ones had saved her and her ship countless times; that she didn’t think of them as Maquis but as her crew; and that the service they had performed for the Federation for seven years far outweighed any indictable crimes committed before.

           What it came down to, she discovered, was that the admirals simply could not properly understand what her situation had been.  It was all very well to talk of “all alone” and “no support”, but most of them had not commanded a deep space mission in years, if ever.  They truly could not grasp what desperate straits Voyager had been in, time and time again.  And so they were unable to fully appreciate just how valuable every crewmember had become.

           For days, she felt as if she were repeatedly banging her head against a brick wall.  Today would see the final decision.  She walked into the big boardroom where the panel of inquiry was to meet.  They were all there.

           “Captain Janeway,” began Admiral Nechayev, now chief of staff.  “We have reached a decision.  In response to your arguments, we have agreed to a compromise.  All the Maquis will be pardoned except one – Chakotay.  He alone will face a charge of treason on their behalf.  As their leader, that is fair.  All other charges have been dropped.  Chakotay has been informed of our decision and has agreed to it.  He has been taken into custody.”

           Janeway stood ashen-faced.  She had failed.  As the panel rose, she started to speak, but Nechayev stopped her cold.  “There will be no further discussion, CAPTAIN.  Report to Personnel for reassignment.  Dismissed.”

           They walked out.  She continued to stand, unable to believe their small-mindedness.  Finally, she pulled herself together and went in search of Owen Paris.

           The admiral wasted no time explaining that they were very lucky to have gotten off all the other Maquis.  She must understand that things were a lot different now.  The Federation had gone through a dreadful war while she was gallivanting around the Delta Quadrant.  (Dear lord, she thought, is that what he thinks we were doing!  Why can’t any of them understand!)  He advised her to cut her losses and get on with her life.  Why, she could  have her pick of postings!  Everyone wanted her!

           Janeway left.  She decided to go to the top and requested an interview with Nechayev.  She tried to be on her best behaviour with the admiral, not her most favourite person, but at the latter’s second snide remark about her and the commander – “just what was your relationship with him, Captain?  Did you even remember the existence of Starfleet protocols?” – she blew up.

           “Can’t any of you even try to understand what we went through?  You all seem to think it was a never-ending party on board, when in fact, we didn’t know from one day to the next if we would even survive!  There was no down time, Admiral, no R & R.  For any of us.  We had to be on alert constantly, because, as sure as there were stars in the sky, one alien or another would be trying to blow us out of it!  I wouldn’t be here, none of us would, if it hadn’t been for Chakotay and the Maquis!  There was no Starfleet and  Maquis.  We were one crew!  We got home because we worked as one crew!  Why can’t you see that!”  She paused, somewhat out of breath.

           Nechayev sat thoughtfully, then looked directly at her.  “Very well, Captain.  I will accept that perhaps Chakotay’s contribution should play some part in his trial.  But understand this.  He did commit treason, he has admitted it, and he will pay the penalty.  However, I will personally recommend to the court that he be shown leniency because of ‘extenuating circumstances’.  That is all I can do.”  And she turned to her monitor.  Janeway knew she would get no more.

           Three days later, after pleading guilty, Chakotay was sentenced to ten years in prison with no parole.