Summary: Running out of time can bring home the truths you’re not willing to admit, even to yourself.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Codes: Janeway & Janeway, Janeway/Chakotay
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 7 prompt: “No worries, we still have time” (which I modified slightly). Episode addition to Deadlock.
She can’t quite meet my eyes; hers keep sliding away. Her mouth shapes words that are meant to placate me, to get me off her ship so she can carry out the order she’s pretending she won’t give the moment I’m through that rift.
And I always thought I was quite a good liar.
“You’re going to self-destruct your ship.”
“What makes you say that?” she tries to brazen it out.
I tell her that’s what I would do in her position, and we trade orders for a few more seconds, but in the end, she’s right. It’s her ship.
I back down.
“Fifteen minutes,” I bargain for one last concession. “Then it’s your decision.”
She gestures for me to precede her down the ladder to the main level of Engineering. Her displaced bridge crew – dirty, bloodied, but wearing an aura of determination – watch us as we reach the deck. I suppose this is almost as strange for them as it is for me. Us.
Her first officer’s gaze lights on me then slides over to her. He smiles faintly, and I turn just in time to catch the softening of her expression as their eyes meet. It makes me shift on my feet; do I look at my Chakotay like that?
“Ready to go, Captain?” she asks, her attention switching back to me.
I speak on impulse. “Might the commander accompany us back to deck fifteen?”
Chakotay glances uncertainly to the other me, who gives me a sharp look. “Why?”
I shrug. “For a fresh perspective. Two heads are better than one, but in this case there’s really only one head in the game.”
She gives him the slightest of nods and begins striding toward the corridor; I follow, the commander a step behind.
“What do you hope to accomplish?” she tosses over her shoulder when the three of us are alone.
“I don’t know, but given we only have fifteen minutes to come up with a plan, we need all the help we can get.”
The other captain mutters something under her breath and heaves open the Jeffries tube hatch.
“Captain.” Chakotay’s hand skims her shoulder. “We still have time.”
His touch holds her still, although it’s barely a brush of his fingers. I watch her face and wonder if she realises what it shows.
Conversation stalls as we climb down four decks. By the time Chakotay reaches floor level my doppelganger has her tricorder out.
“The breach is widening,” she says. “The clock may be ticking even faster than we thought.”
“What about boosting power to the bussard collectors?” Chakotay offers. “We could use them to draw in energy from the plasma drift, funnel enough power to the deflector dish for a resonance burst.”
My counterpart is shaking her head. “Even if we could divert enough energy to the deflector, it’s likely we’d encounter the same problem as before. The subspace divergence field is just too chaotic to recreate.”
“Let me get back over there,” I assert. My pulse is beginning to accelerate, my skin to itch with the need to get back to my Voyager, to my people. To my home. “Maybe Lieutenant Torres and I can come up with something.”
The captain turns her tricorder to scan the rift. “It’s stable,” she says. “You’re clear to go.”
The rift shimmers faintly. I walk up to the edge of it, and at the last minute I turn back to them. They are standing side by side, his body slightly behind her left shoulder. Her eyes are fixed on mine, but he is looking at her.
“Good luck, Captain,” she says.
I step into the rift.
The contrast is jarring between that devastated Voyager and the clean corridors of my ship.
“Captain,” Chakotay rises from his seat as I step onto my bridge.
I push aside the relief I feel upon seeing him. It’s just that I’m glad to be home. “Status?” I snap out.
“The antimatter supply is continuing to drain,” he answers, waiting for me to sit before he does so. “We have about twenty-three minutes –”
“Captain,” Harry interrupts from Ops, “I’m picking up a ship on approach.”
The events of the next few minutes leave me reeling. How can fate issue so cruel a twist? How did I find myself about to give the same order I just tried to stop my counterpart from giving?
The fifteen minutes’ grace I secured from that other captain are up, but it’s our fate that’s sealed. I order the self-destruct sequence.
For long moments, facing the viewscreen with my hands clutching the arms of my chair, I struggle to overcome a wave of emotion so strong I almost drown under it.
And then I feel it: a warm hand laid over mine, clasping my fingers, imbuing me with the strength I need to carry this through. I turn to Chakotay and read in his eyes the same steady resolve that has defined him since the moment I made him my first officer.
“Is it too late to tell you something?” he asks quietly.
I shake my head, smiling. “We still have time.”
He swallows. “Captain, I want you to know that serving with you has been an honour,” he begins, “and although I wouldn’t have chosen for things to end this way, I don’t have any regrets.”
“Neither do I. You’ve been an exemplary officer, and,” it’s suddenly difficult to force the words past my aching throat, “a wonderful friend.”
He draws in a breath, then turns my hand over and laces his fingers into mine. “There’s just one more thing I need to tell you,” he says, his voice breaking just a little, “I –”
He’s cut off by three Vidiians stepping off the turbolift. Our time has run out.
“Hello,” I address them.
I stand, and Chakotay gets to his feet at my back, his presence bracing me, supporting me.
The invaders come to a halt. If I could read their expressions, I expect they’d show dawning suspicion of the trap I’ve laid for them.
“I’m Captain Kathryn Janeway,” I continue, my voice steady and even. “Welcome to the bridge.”
As the self-destruct sequence reaches zero, my thoughts are filled not with regret for the home I’ll never reach on Earth, but gratitude for the one I’ve found right here.