Categories: Ship, Het, Romance, Fluff
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Q
A/N: Written for Omega 13 at Love Through The Years.
Credits: Thank you to Kim for the beta, and at her suggestion I will now issue a severe sap warning: Wear gloves at all time while handling this fic.
Disclaimer: Paramount, fire Berman and we'll talk.
"It's a gift, Kathy." Q grinned. "Don't disappoint me."
The omnipotent pest was gone before she could argue further.
She stared at the innocent looking little box. With it, she could travel back in time and change anything. Anything that could be changed within thirteen seconds, anyhow.
Was thirteen seconds enough time to change a life? She thought immediately of all of those who had died under her command. She wondered if any of them could be saved in so short a time. Ensign Harper's unborn child...Justin...her father...any of the deaths on Voyager.
If she went back and beamed Justin out of the sinking shuttle would she be married to him now? Would she have left him, resentful of her own decision to save him instead of her father? Would he have died in some other way by now, perhaps even at the hands of the Cardassians?
No, there were too many questions. She could not use Q's gift to save a life. The consequences were too unpredictable, which was precisely why the Temporal Prime Directive existed.
Something smaller, more personal, perhaps.
Her mind flashed to a fondly remembered moment on New Earth, when she had nearly given in to her desire to kiss Chakotay. What would be different now, if she had?
She would know what it was like to kiss the man she loved. That would be the difference. Protocol would be the same. Tuvok still would have retrieved them. The painful return to routine might have even been worse. She closed her eyes and swallowed.
Then again, she couldn't imagine loving him more than she already did. The memory of a kiss would be something to treasure on long, lonely Delta Quadrant nights. She fiddled with the device and imagined Chakotay's lips on hers after all this time.
No, that wasn't fair to him. She couldn't kiss him, knowing that Tuvok was on the way and they'd still be apart five years later.
There had been other times, so many other times, when she had wanted to kiss him. She played each memory in her mind, but didn't seriously consider changing any of them. She didn't want to tamper with anything as perfect as the friendship she shared with Chakotay.
Even the dark moments were part of that friendship. To change the past would be to diminish it, to steal the honesty from it. Her relationship with Chakotay had to be real, nothing less.
Was it honest? Did he truly know how much she loved him? She never showed him, not the way he showed her. She fiddled with the box again. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to go back to New Earth for thirteen seconds. She could tell Chakotay that she loved him.
Then again, why go back to New Earth? True, while there she would have been free to tell him, but that was no longer true if her current self went back, knowing that they would soon be aboard Voyager again. Temporal mechanics always did give her a headache.
She should tell him. Not in the past, but in the here and now. He deserved to hear it. She already loved him. Would speaking the words impact upon her command?
The reasons for protocol marched dutifully through her mind.
She couldn't love him more than she already did. She already sent him into dangerous situations; she already would be losing the man she loved if he died. Nepotism? She could hardly promote him unfairly; she couldn't promote anyone, and even if she could he was already first officer.
The Maquis situation wasn't a serious concern since she had received the news of Tevlik and the Dominion War. There really wasn't a reason to wait any longer. She loved him. She could love him.
Kathryn pushed aside Q's gift and headed for Chakotay's quarters.
He met her at the door, sleep rumpled and perplexed. "Come in."
She stepped inside, letting the door close, and looked up into the dear face she had loved for so long. Her hand came up to stroke his tattoo, tracing the lines as she had done so often in her mind. "I love you."
"Kathryn." He studied her face and took her into his arms. There was affection in his eyes, but it remained guarded even as he stroked her cheek.
"I love you, Chakotay," she repeated, watching as the love in his eyes emerged from behind its veil. "It's time the waiting ended."
He smiled then and kissed her softly. "I love you, Kathryn. I think I always have." Their lips met again.
Yes, thirteen seconds could change a life.
Q appeared, but they were too wrapped up in each other to notice. "No, Kathy, I'm not disappointed at all."
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, March 2003.