Summary: They’re home… but it’s not what they hoped for. Estranged by circumstance and misunderstanding and kept apart by devious design, Voyager’s former command team are drawn into a world of danger, deception and political intrigue that could end up costing their lives.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Seven, Kim, Tuvok, Torres, Paris, Sekaya, Original Female Characters, Original Male Characters
Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Janeway/Other, Chakotay/Seven, Kim/Seven
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Warning: Non-consensual sex depicted.
This is the last time I'll abandon you
And this is the last time I'll forget you
I wish I could
- Muse, Stockholm Syndrome
Chapter Seven: Adrift
“Thanks,” Kathryn smiled at the barista as she lifted her cup and sipped, sighing in pleasure. She’d managed to convince her personal trainer to finish this morning’s session early, leaving her just enough time to stop in at her favourite coffee shop on her way to work.
Her head was aching, a constant, low throb that seemed as though it had been with her forever, and even caffeine wasn’t really helping. Inhaling the steam rising from her coffee, she switched on the padd containing her schedule for the next week. Gretchen had been disappointed but resigned that Kathryn had had to cancel their weekend plans and it only made Kathryn more determined to spend some time with her mother before the wedding.
Which, she realised with a confusing mix of emotions she wasn’t sure she wanted to name, was only two weeks away now.
She was beset with a sudden need to talk to someone who knew her. Closing her schedule, she opened a comm channel.
~Katie!~ Gretchen had clearly been in the garden; rosy-cheeked from the cold, her smile was open and honest and everything Kathryn had been longing to see.
“Hi, mom.” She found herself blinking back tears.
~What’s wrong?~ Gretchen demanded immediately.
“Nothing, I’m –”
~Don’t give me any of that ‘fine’ bullshit.~ Gretchen glared at her daughter. ~Tell me what’s going on. You look tired, honey.~
“It’s just a headache. Feels like I’ve had it for weeks.”
~Don’t you have doctors at HQ?~ Gretchen’s voice was tart.
“You know how I feel about doctors.” Kathryn shrugged listlessly. “And the only one I want to see is busy writing papers on Delta quadrant diseases.”
~Uh-huh.~ Her mother frowned at her. ~Don’t mess with your health, Katie. See a doctor. Better yet, come here and let me look after you. If anyone could use a break, it’s you.~
“I’d love to, but I’m so busy –”
~I know. Diplomacy, negotiations, wedding plans…~ she paused, noting Kathryn’s involuntary flinch. ~What? What did I say?~
~Kathryn Janeway, don’t lie to me. Are you having doubts about marrying Ryan?~
The headache ramped up and Kathryn rubbed her temples. “Of course not, mom. Listen, I have to go. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
She disconnected before Gretchen could press her further, closing her eyes against the spikes of pain in her head.
Kathryn laid the padd on the table and brought the coffee to her lips, staring unseeingly through the café window. Last week Chakotay had asked her if she was sure about marrying Ryan, and she’d said she was.
I hope you and Ryan will be very happy together, he’d said.
She certainly cared for Ryan. He loved her, and she enjoyed their conversations, and he never failed to satisfy her sexually. Was that happiness? She thought she’d known happiness in different forms before, with Justin and with Mark. Did it matter that what she had with Ryan was different?
Shaking herself, she returned her attention to the padd and was making notations when she felt somebody’s presence beside her table, and looked up.
“Chakotay,” she blurted.
“Hello, Kathryn.” He smiled at her tentatively. “I was just passing and saw you in here. I hope you don’t mind if I join you?”
“I don’t think –”
“Kathryn,” he interrupted, “there’s something I need to tell you. And I need you to hear me out.”
The gravity of his tone sent apprehension curling into the pit of her stomach. “All right,” she said slowly. “What is it?”
“Not here. Can we take a walk?”
Without a word she slipped her padd into her shoulder bag, drained her coffee and stood.
He led her into the secluded gardens behind the café and they walked slowly, side by side, not touching, until the silence got to her. “What is it you want to tell me, Chakotay?”
“It’s about Ryan.”
She went still. “What about him?”
Chakotay ran a hand through his hair. “How much do you know about him, Kathryn? I mean, his personal history.”
“I know enough.” She didn’t mean to sound defensive. “Why?”
“Do you know where he was born? Who his parents were?”
“Vega Colony. And his father was Admiral Bart Austin.”
“What about his mother?”
“I …” She realised she had no answer. “It’s never come up.”
“There’s a reason for that.” Chakotay hesitated, then reached for her hands. She stared at them. “Kathryn, I don’t think Ryan is a good guy. I believe his mother was Deltan, and he’s been hiding that fact from you because –”
She jerked her hands away. “You’ve been checking up on him?”
“What the hell for?” she snapped. “It’s not your place, Chakotay. You’re not my first officer anymore.”
“I overheard a conversation that raised a number of suspicions,” he answered carefully, “so I did some checking. You know the effect Deltan physiology can have on humans. I think Ryan is half-Deltan and he’s using his genetic abilities to manipulate you.”
Chakotay heaved in a breath. “Forgive me for asking this, but … when you’re together, do you feel … out of control?” He tugged his ear, then clarified, “I mean, sexually.”
Her face drained of colour. “That is none of your goddamned business!”
“Kathryn, I’m sorry, but –”
“No,” she snarled, striding away from him, then turning back with clenched fists. “I don’t know what the hell your problem is, Chakotay, but you have crossed the line. I don’t care what you’re playing at. From now on, you stay away from me!”
“Kathryn, wait,” he shouted after her, but she was gone.
Over the next few weeks, Chakotay searched every database he could access – and some he, officially, couldn’t – in his quest for more information about Ryan Austin, and turned up next to nothing on him prior to his relocation to Earth in 2352. It smacked of a cover-up, and he suspected the late Admiral Bart Austin was responsible.
It also made him wonder if the senior Austin had been a member of Jonah Miles’ clandestine agency. Even a high-ranking Starfleet admiral would find orchestrating this level of conspiracy difficult without friends in high places, to borrow a phrase from Nyla Kjogo.
But if Bart Austin had been Section 31, Jonah Miles didn’t know about it. He’d ordered Chakotay to investigate whether the admiral’s son was involved with Entera, after all. And his reaction when Chakotay relayed what he had learned about Ryan Austin’s collusion with Kjogo had been reminiscent of Kathryn Janeway’s steely stare and deadly, low-voiced response to some alien threat.
Kathryn Janeway. Who was now, he thought with an ache in his chest that left him breathless, Kathryn Austin.
He was furious with himself for approaching her the way he had. Given their strained relationship, he should have known she would be instantly on the defensive. He should have gathered more evidence, sent it to her in writing, given her space and time to consider it, allowed her to draw her own conclusions. Running full-tilt at Kathryn with something she didn’t want to hear had never gone well on Voyager, and it had been disastrous that day in the café gardens.
Because of his idiocy, she had gone full steam ahead into a poisonous marriage to a man who was using her, and Chakotay blamed himself.
He’d seen the news vids of her wedding; how could he miss them, when it had been front page news for weeks? Kathryn had looked so beautiful in her cream silk column dress, a bouquet of her mother’s hothouse orchids in her hands. He knew they were honeymooning on Risa. He knew the gossip press were speculating whether the marriage had happened so quickly because she was pregnant. And he knew that Ryan Austin’s approval rating had skyrocketed, and that he was tipped for an easy victory at the Federation Council election in three days’ time.
The election was, as predicted, a landslide, and Kathryn Janeway – she’d declined to adopt her new husband’s name – was beset with unease.
She’d sleepwalked through her own wedding – kept to immediate family only, at her insistence, though she’d lost the fight with Admiral Kjogo about posing for press-release photos. The exchange of vows had been jarringly brief and she’d barely had time to hug her mother and sister before Kjogo had appeared to hurry the newlyweds to her chosen photo location. When Kathryn had seen the pictures on the broadcasts the following morning, she’d barely recognised herself in the woman with the tight-eyed smile.
Her headaches had worsened to the point where she had finally taken Gretchen’s advice and visited the duty doctor at HQ, citing stress and requesting a hypospray. It had controlled the pain enough to get her through the manic fortnight preceding the wedding, and she’d convinced herself that stress was, in fact, the reason for her migraines. She was sure that all she needed was a vacation.
But ten days on Risa for her honeymoon had lowered her stress level not a bit. Each time she ventured out the paparazzi had shown up, compelling her to put on a show of smiling, newlywed bliss until she could escape back to their beach hut.
The honeymoon had not been a holiday for Ryan either. He’d spent almost dawn to dusk working – communicating with his support staff, running his courier business, giving interviews and posing for publicity photos with Kathryn on his arm – and by the time he dropped into bed beside her each night, he didn’t want to talk. All he wanted to do was fuck and fall asleep.
Kathryn had found herself increasingly restless and jittery as each day wore on, preoccupied with waiting for that moment, the moment he pulled her into his arms. She refused to analyse why she felt lonelier than ever now that she was married, or why her head would ache and her stomach twist with nausea that only seemed to abate when Ryan touched her.
Now that they were back in San Francisco he’d moved into her place, holding meetings in her lounge room and letting his aides use her communications equipment. Kathryn worked late in her office at HQ most nights, longing for the peace of her previously empty apartment, and would only come home when the stress migraines grew so bad her vision began to blur.
Ryan would take one look at her white, tight-lipped face and send his assistants away. He’d peel off her uniform and loosen her hair, his strong hands easing the tension from her shoulders. His massages always ended the same way: warm lips on her skin, his body pressed to hers, his fingers or tongue urging her into climax before he thrust into her, prolonging the intensity. She began to crave the orgasms he wrung from her so effortlessly, almost as much as the languorous relief that followed.
She knew the press was hinting heavily that she’d be making a baby announcement any day now, and she was trying so hard to ignore it. The idea of having a child with Ryan filled her with a terror she found incomprehensible. She had always wanted children, so surely she should want to have them with the man she’d just pledged to love and honour for the rest of her life?
Ryan seemed to think so. The morning before the polls opened, as she pinned up her hair before the bathroom mirror, he casually asked her when she planned to stop her birth control boosters.
“I – hadn’t thought about it,” she stammered, caught off guard.
He turned to kiss her forehead, hands sliding onto her hips. “Don’t you think you should?” he murmured. “You’ll make such a wonderful mother, Kathryn.”
“Ryan…” she held her hands over his, stilling them. “We need to talk about this.”
“Of course we will,” he said blithely, moving back to the mirror to straighten his tie. “After I win the election tomorrow we can both relax. Who knows – maybe it’ll happen sooner than we think.” He grinned at her reflection. “You might have to speak with that slavedriver Kjogo about winding down your working hours.”
Kathryn bit her lip.
“Gotta go.” Ryan kissed her tenderly, drawing her into his arms, and despite herself she melted, pressing her body into his. “Damn,” he growled. “Don’t make me late, woman.”
He gave her ass a squeeze, nipped her neck lightly just above her rank bar, and loped out the door.
Kathryn lowered herself to sit on the side of the bathtub, eyes squeezed shut as she willed away the pervading sense of dread.
Nyla Kjogo fronted up to Kathryn’s office the Monday after Ryan’s successful appointment as Federation Councillor – a first, as Kathryn had previously always been summoned to hers – and offered her congratulations, along with an invitation to tour the Yaraka sector with her celebrated husband.
“For what purpose?” Kathryn asked.
“President Zife has specifically requested that Councillor Austin meet with representatives from the unallied planets in the Borderlands, and your presence is required to lend the Starfleet seal of approval. Thanks to your trade negotiations with Midrian and Japori, several independent worlds in the region have started making overtures for Federation protection. I want you out there pressing the flesh, Kathryn. Take Lieutenant Jens with you, too. I’ll have her line up a series of PR engagements.”
Kathryn had had enough.
“Admiral.” She stood, clenching her fingers to hide their trembling. “I didn’t join Starfleet to wear pretty dresses and pose for the cameras. I’m a scientist, not a politician’s accessory, and I damn well want to be out there exploring, not batting my eyelashes at fat diplomats who wouldn’t know a hypergiant from a house cat!”
She stared at Kjogo, breathing harshly.
“Are you finished?”
Kathryn lifted her chin and swallowed. “Yes, sir.”
“Good.” Kjogo unfolded her arms and tossed a padd on Kathryn’s desk. “Here’s your itinerary. You leave in two days. Pack some pretty dresses, Kathryn, and don’t forget to smile like I know you can.”
After Kjogo’s departure Kathryn allowed herself a short and uncharacteristic outburst of sobs, then heaved in a breath, wiped her fingers under her eyes and walked over to rest her forehead against the cool surface of the window.
Her head was killing her and her heart was pounding so fast she felt it might choke her. Maybe her mother was right about seeing a proper doctor – not just one she could palm off with the excuse that she was under stress.
“Are you all right, Admiral?”
Kathryn started; she hadn’t heard her aide enter the office. Tora Jens stood by her desk, forehead creased in concern. She carried a tray that held a coffee pot and two dainty cups.
“I’m fine,” Kathryn answered automatically. “It’s just a headache.”
She could see Jens’ gaze cataloguing the signs she knew must be visible – reddened eyes, blotched skin – and she walked over to her desk, turning her back as she pretended to search for a padd.
“Let me pour you a coffee,” Jens said firmly, and before Kathryn could decline she had carried the tray over to the small sofa and sat, looking expectantly at her boss as she poured not one, but two espressos.
Kathryn debated whether to reprove her aide for her presumption, but found she couldn’t bring herself to do it. “A coffee does sound good,” she admitted, taking the seat opposite Jens and bringing the cup to her lips.
A soft huff of laughter made her open her eyes and turn her attention to her aide, who was smirking at her.
“I did it again, didn’t I?” Kathryn said ruefully, recalling Tora’s reaction the first time the lieutenant had watched her enjoy her coffee.
Jens’ smile broadened. “Frankly, Admiral, I don’t know how your first officer on Voyager managed to focus on his job when he watched you do that every day. He must have had the restraint of a Vulcan.” She tasted her own espresso and added contemplatively, “Though I imagine he was quite a source of distraction himself.”
Having swallowed a too-large mouthful of coffee, Kathryn couldn’t quite muster up the glare that comment deserved. Fortunately, Jens wasn’t blind to her reaction and moved smoothly on.
“Admiral Kjogo gave me a copy of the itinerary for the Borderlands visit. Shall I take you through it?”
“God, no.” Kathryn pressed her fingertips against the spot where her temple was beginning to throb again. “Just flag any political or trade developments on the off-chance an interviewer decides to ask me a real question. And Tora, try to reserve me an evening or two off, preferably with my husband. I’ll put you in touch with Ryan’s assistant so you can coordinate our schedules.”
Tora Jens’ face had gone blank. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Something wrong?” Kathryn raised her eyebrows at Jens’ change in demeanour.
“Will Councillor Austin be accompanying you?”
“Actually, it’s more that I’ll be accompanying him.” Kathryn tried to keep the resentment from her tone. “Why do you ask?”
Jens was obviously practiced at concealing her emotions, but the long pause before the young woman mumbled something about arranging extra personal security told Kathryn that her aide wasn’t being truthful.
She raised a hand to cut the lieutenant off. “As soon as I mentioned my husband, you clammed up. Out with it, Tora. Do you have a problem with Ryan?”
Jens’ blue eyes signalled yes, but she answered, “No, Admiral, of course not.”
Kathryn frowned at her, trying to puzzle out why her aide would take issue with her husband. Was it his politics she disliked, or the man himself?
“Shall I make you a doctor’s appointment before we leave?”
“For your headaches,” the lieutenant replied, and only at Jens’ pointed glance did Kathryn realise she had the fingers of one hand pressing into the knot that had formed at the base of her skull.
“Oh,” she said. “No. I’m just a little tired.”
Jens looked conflicted. “You’ve been getting those headaches for months now, Admiral. Are you sure you don’t want me to –”
“I said, no,” Kathryn snapped, her words dropping like stones into the space between them.
She stared silently at the younger woman. The sympathy she read in Tora’s eyes wasn’t surprising. The guilt and remorse, however, was.
“I’m sorry,” Jens said with quiet intensity.
“No, I’m the one who should apologise,” Kathryn said woodenly. “And don’t worry about me. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll get started on your schedule immediately,” and before Kathryn could dismiss her, Jens had retreated to the outer office.
Kathryn dropped her head onto her folded arms with a groan.
Everything felt wrong. She was surrounded by people whose motivations she couldn’t quite define, and she no longer trusted her instincts. If she could only rid herself of these headaches, maybe she’d be able to think clearly. Maybe everything would start to make sense.
I should make time to speak to a counsellor, she thought, and rejected the idea immediately. Even if Kjogo allowed it, what could she possibly talk about? Seven years captaining a ship back from the Delta quadrant wasn’t exactly a relatable experience. As for what had happened to her since, she wouldn’t know where to start.
Were she on Voyager, she’d pull together the captain’s mask, shove the troubling emotions down into the corner of her soul and carry on. But she was someone’s wife now. Surely instead of bottling it all up as she had for the past eight years, she should tell her husband her troubles? Wasn’t that what married couples were supposed to do – share the good times and the bad?
And, God, could she use a hug right about now. Maybe it was time to change the habit of almost a decade.
Suddenly energised, she programmed the coordinates into her personal transporter and materialised in the anteroom of Ryan’s new office. His assistant was absent but the office door was ajar, so Kathryn headed for it, a smile playing at her lips. Her steps slowed as she heard voices inside.
A feminine giggle, followed by low male laughter.
She peeked inside. Ryan lounged on the edge of his desk, his posture relaxed, a smile kinking his lips. Beside him – close; perhaps a little too close – stood a slender woman Kathryn judged to be in her early thirties. As she watched, the woman tossed her black hair so that it cascaded prettily down her back and cocked a hip, emphasising long legs in a short skirt.
Kathryn pushed open the door.
“Kathryn!” Ryan immediately pushed off the desk to come over and take her in his arms. “What are you doing here?”
Before she could answer, he swung around, his arm still locked around Kathryn’s waist.
“This is Vela Marquez from President Zife’s office. She very kindly came to hand-deliver our itinerary for the Borderlands tour. Admiral Kjogo must have filled you in by now?”
Vela Marquez extended her hand to Kathryn with a polished smile. “It’s an honour to meet you, Admiral Janeway.” She turned to Ryan. “I’d better be going, Councillor.”
“Give my regards to the president,” Ryan called as the office door closed behind her, then turned back to Kathryn, taking her face in his hands. “This is great, huh? Us taking a trip together, influencing the future of the Federation.”
“That’s a little hyperbolic, isn’t it?” Kathryn arched an eyebrow at him.
“Isn’t that what we’re all here for – the good of the Federation?”
She wasn’t sure what to think. His excitement was infectious and she couldn’t help the corners of her lips turning up, but she was still furious at Kjogo’s high-handedness and she wanted sympathy from her husband about the very thing that was giving him such joy. And then there was that young woman Marquez, who’d been standing just a little too close to him…
Ryan’s thumbs were stroking her cheekbones. She watched his eyes darken and felt that now-familiar pulse and thrum of arousal, the ever-present headache fading to a dull background note.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” he murmured, leaning in to nip at her lower lip. His hands slid down over her shoulders, one tugging at the zip on her jacket as the other settled onto her breast.
“Ryan.” She placed her hands against his chest. “We can’t do this here.”
“Yes, we can,” he mumbled against her throat. Her jacket hung open now and his fingers were under her turtleneck, pushing it upward on his wrists.
Kathryn felt her breath hitching in her throat. “This isn’t what I came here for…”
“Whatever the reason,” his teeth closed over her nipple through the shirt as he deftly unfastened her pants, “you’re here now, so let’s make the most of it…”
And then his fingers were inside her panties, stroking deliciously, and she shuddered and gave into him, as she always did.