Liminal State
liminal-state_bw.jpg

Summary: They’ve escaped the Terran Empire, but this is not the universe, or the Devore warship, they call home … and in this version of the multiverse, Kathryn is forced to confront the warped reflections of people she once called her family. Allied with her jailer and former enemy, Kashyk, against the mirror images of her loved ones, staying alive becomes a dangerous game in which her body is her most valuable bargaining chip.

Written for the @voyagermirrormarch fic event.

 

Characters: Janeway, Kashyk, Mirror Chakotay, Mirror Janeway, Mirror Kashyk, Mirror Tuvok, Mirror Ayala, Mirror Paris, Mirror Seska, Mirror Torres, Mirror Kim, Mirror EMH, Original Characters

Codes: Janeway/Kashyk, Janeway/Mirror Janeway, Mirror Janeway/Kashyk, Mirror Janeway/Mirror Paris, Janeway/Mirror Janeway/Mirror Chakotay, Janeway/Mirror Torres, Janeway/Mirror Paris/Mirror Ayala, Janeway/Mirror Kashyk, Janeway/Mirror Tuvok, Mirror Janeway/Mirror Chakotay, Mirror Paris/Mirror Seska, Janeway/Mirror Chakotay, Janeway/Chakotay

Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Star Trek universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Warning: Violence, rape/non-con and dubious consent.

Rated E

Chapter Two

The woman with Captain Janeway’s face turns pale and staggers, and despite himself, Kash finds himself moving forward to catch her, bracing her elbows before she falls.

“Chakotay, get her a chair,” he instructs, and guides the woman to sit. “Take slow breaths,” he advises her, hand on her upper back as she leans forward, elbows on her knees.

“Thank you,” she says faintly, lifting her head to look at him. Her colour is gradually returning. “It’s been a day full of surprises, and to be honest, I can’t remember when I last ate.”

Kash rests a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Chakotay can get you something to eat while I put the children to bed.” He narrows his eyes. “Better have him heal that cut, too. Looks bad.”

She touches two fingers lightly to the gash on her cheekbone. “I’d forgotten about it,” she confesses, then laughs abruptly. “It’s the least of my problems.”

Kash recognises oncoming hysteria when he sees it. “Still,” he says firmly, “it’s one we can solve, so why don’t we focus on that for now? Chakotay,” he adds, lowering his voice, “get her some soup and a dermal regenerator. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

He leaves the door ajar as he ushers the children into their bedroom, hastening through their bedtime story. From the adjoining room he hears only silence, and by the time his charges have closed their eyes, Kash’s curiosity has climbed to a peak. He switches off the bedroom light and lingers in the shadows by the half-open door, watching.

The woman is perched on the very edge of a straight-backed chair, so still that Kash suspects she’s holding her breath, as Chakotay clasps her chin with the tips of his fingers and waves a dermal wand over her cheekbone. Chakotay’s thighs are spread either side of her knees, his big body leaning into her space. Kash can see her hands twisted together in her lap and her teeth digging into her lower lip.

At first he thinks she’s afraid of Chakotay. But then he realises that her chest is flushed and rising and falling rapidly, and her nipples are hard knots, outlined against the black silk slip she’s wearing.

He’s never seen this woman before in his life. But he’s spent enough time with her doppelganger to recognise the signs of her arousal.

Chakotay’s hands fall away and the woman relaxes fractionally, until Chakotay frowns. “Your throat,” he gestures.

“It’s fine.”

He raises his eyebrows at her, orders, “Hold still,” and slides his hand under her hair, tilting her head back to allow him access.

The woman makes a small, pained sound in her throat, and Chakotay’s gaze sharpens. “Did I hurt you?”

“No,” she husks.

For a long moment, Kash watches as they stare at each other. And then Chakotay lets his hand fall and pushes back his chair, placing the dermal regenerator on the table beside them.

“I’ll get you some soup,” he mutters.

Kash decides it’s safe to enter the room.

“So,” he says conversationally, taking the seat Chakotay has just vacated, “who are you?”

 

=/=


The soup helps restore her colour somewhat, but Kathryn Janeway of the prime universe, as she introduces herself – Kash reflects, amused, that the description shows she shares at least some of his Janeway’s arrogance – is clearly wary of divulging anything more informative than her name. It’s Chakotay who informs him that this Kathryn was accompanied by Kash’s own double.

“Really?” Kash can’t help leaning forward, fascinated. “What’s he like?”

A myriad of expressions cross Kathryn’s face. “He’s a military officer,” she says reluctantly. “An Inspector of the Devore Imperium.”

Kash exchanges a glance with Chakotay, who’s leaning against the bulkhead by the replicator with his arms folded across his chest.

“And you?” Kathryn asks Kash, sipping a spoonful of soup. “How is it that you’re here, uh…”

“Playing nursemaid to Captain Janeway’s offspring?” Kash leans back in his chair, hooking an ankle over his opposite knee. “It’s all right – you can’t emasculate me any more than she already has.”

Kathryn frowns.

“I was also the commander of my own ship in the Devore military,” Kash answers, “until I met Captain Janeway. We Devore tend to keep to ourselves as a species, but every so often we allow outsiders to travel through our space. The captain –”

“The captain,” Chakotay rumbles when Kash falls silent, “discovered that Kash was an active member of the resistance, working to subvert the Devore persecution of telepathic races, and offered to help him and his loyal crew defect from the Imperium in exchange for Voyager’s safe passage. He accepted her offer.”

“It didn’t hurt that she sweetened the deal,” Kash mutters. “Of course, as soon as we reached the other side of Devore space, she double-crossed me and drafted my ship into her fleet.”

Kathryn’s eyes are wide, her spoon lying forgotten in her bowl.

“You can see why Chakotay and I get along,” Kash adds.

“Kash,” warns Chakotay, just as Kathryn opens her mouth to question him further.

Kash glances between them. “She doesn’t know?”

“Know what?” Kathryn interjects.

“How Chakotay and his motley crew of rebels ended up aboard Voyager, serving the Imperial Starfleet.”

Chakotay pushes off the wall, his voice a growl. “I need to get back to the bridge. Keep an eye on her,” and he’s gone, the doors to the captain’s quarters locking audibly behind him.

Kathryn tenses.

“Don’t worry,’ Kash assures her, “someone will let us out in the morning. In the meantime, I can tell you a story.”

 

=/=


“How much do you know about this universe?” Kash asks when they’ve settled onto the couch under the viewport with a glass of Haakonian wine.

“Some,” Kathryn answers guardedly. “There have been occasional incursions, as your captain terms it, between our dimensions over the years, but they’re highly classified.”

“Classified,” Kash repeats. “I’m guessing you’re a member of your Starfleet?”

“You know about that?”

He smiles. “This will probably go faster if you just assume that we know a whole lot more about your universe than you do about ours.”

Kathryn nods.

“Are you familiar with the Terran Empire?”

“Intimately.”

Kash raises an eyebrow at the wry rasp of her tone, but lets it go. “Well, around a hundred years ago an insurgency movement was started by a small group of Terrans. Initially, they just wanted to wrest power from the Emperor, but over time they banded together with other species – Vulcans, Klingons, Cardassians – and formed a rebel faction that eventually became known as the Maquis –”

He pauses, noting that Kathryn’s hand is covering her mouth.

“Are you all right?”

She nods slowly. “It’s nothing. Go on.”

“Chakotay was a Maquis cell leader, one who’d done quite a lot of damage to Empire bases and starships, as I understand it. Captain Janeway was assigned to hunt him down.”

Kash sips his wine slowly, relishing the tale as much as he did when he first heard it.

“The ISS Voyager tracked Chakotay’s ship into an unstable region of space known for Maquis activity, but instead of finding the rebels, they were scanned by a coherent tetryon beam and pulled seventy-five thousand light years –”

“– into the Delta quadrant, by an entity called the Caretaker,” Kathryn finishes.

Kash stares. “Actually, it was known as the Overseer,” he says, “but other than that, you’re right.”

“What happened next?”

“The entity had captured a member of the captain’s crew and one of the Maquis – it was experimenting on them, trying to find a mate to continue its supremacy over a race called the Ocampa – so the captain and Chakotay agreed to work together to retrieve their people. They intended to use the Overseer’s array to return to the Alpha quadrant, but they were attacked by a Kazon vessel. Chakotay piloted his ship into it and triggered a warp core breach, which knocked the Kazon cruiser directly into the array and destroyed it. When Chakotay materialised on Voyager, the captain was furious at losing their chance to get home. She threw him and all the Maquis in the brig.”

“But they’re part of the crew now.”

Kash nods. “After two weeks of trying to run Voyager on a skeleton crew, dodging Kazon attacks, she concluded it was an unsustainable situation. She and Chakotay made a deal: the Maquis would become bonded to Starfleet in exchange for their lives.” Kash sips again. “Chakotay chose his crew over his freedom.”

Kathryn’s breath stutters.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” she whispers. “Nothing at all.”

 

=/=


“You’re exhausted,” he says firmly when he notices her eyelids drooping again, in the midst of his explanation of how Janeway began to amass her allied fleet.

She jerks upright, protesting, but Kash waves her back down. He goes to the closet and pulls out a blanket and pillow, indicating she should curl up on the couch.

“You can sleep here,” he assures her. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Kathryn stares at him and shakes her head with a brief, incredulous laugh.

“What?”

“It’s just,” she can’t seem to stop giggling, “it’s all backwards here … you taking care of me, making sure I eat and sleep … And Chakotay, he can hardly look at me –” She breaks off with a gulp, ducking her head. But not before Kash detects the glimmer of tears in her eyes.

“I take that to mean that my alternate isn’t exactly a prince,” he offers in a light tone to give her time to collect herself.

She wipes her eyes quickly. “He does care about me in his own way,” she says, softly. “But then, I’ve taken pains to ensure he continues to find me worthy of his interest.”

“We all do what it takes to survive,” Kash says, meeting her eyes.

He tucks the blanket over her and switches off the lamp beside the couch.

“Sleep well, Kathryn,” he murmurs, and slips quietly into the children’s bedroom to bunk down on the cot.

 

=/=


She’s still sleeping – curled up in a ball, one hand under her cheek, frowning slightly – when he ushers the children, pyjamaed and sleep-tousled, into the living area for their breakfast. Kash isn’t sure whether it’s the chink of cutlery on china that wakes her, or the children’s escalating conversation, or just the strongly-scented coffee he brews and places on the table, but one moment Kathryn is deeply asleep and the next, she’s on her feet, chest heaving, eyes darting around the room as though there’s a red alert.

“Kashyk,” she blurts when her gaze settles on him, then, “I mean, Kash.”

“Good morning,” he offers.

Slowly, her breathing returns to normal and she reaches up a hand to smooth her hair, then glances down at herself in the skimpy, crumpled slip with a grimace. “What time is it?”

“0700,” he answers. “Coffee?”

Her eyes go wide. “Real coffee?”

Kash grins and pours her a cup, patting the seat beside him at the table. Kathryn folds her blanket neatly and pads over to sit beside him.

He watches as she takes what he presumes is her first sip of real Terran coffee for a good long while. She cradles the cup in both hands, inhaling the steam; her eyes drift closed; she brings the cup reverently to her lips, drinks, and exhales on a low, shivering moan.

He recalls the first time he watched Captain Janeway drink her coffee, and a spasm of that old desire twists his stomach. Some things, he supposes, are universal constants.

Then Kathryn places her cup on the table and looks around at the three children.

“You didn’t ask about them last night,” Kash murmurs. “But I’m guessing this is one thing that differs between our universes.”

“You could say that.” She hesitates. “Are they really …”

“Hers? Yes.”

She’s chewing her lower lip. Lowering her voice even further, she begs, “Who’s their father?”

Kash opens his mouth to reply, but the doors to the captain’s quarters swish open and a tall blond human man strides in, followed by a woman.

A Cardassian woman.

Kathryn shoves back her chair and rises on the balls of her feet, her gaze trained past the man, fixed on the woman. “Seska,” she breathes.

“You’re early,” Kash remarks, getting up to clear away the plates. “And in uniform. Did the captain reassign you to Alpha shift, Tom?”

But the couple ignore him, because at that moment the three children shove away from table and fling themselves at Tom Paris, shouting, “Daddy!”

 

=/=


“They’re the warp ten babies?” Kathryn hisses to Kash, staring as Paris and Seska both crouch to envelop the children in their arms.

“So that did happen in your universe?”

She nods.

“Then why –”

He’s interrupted by Tom Paris’ sardonic tones. “I didn’t expect the pleasure of your company this morning, Captain.” His blue gaze flickers over her. “And so enchantingly dressed, too.”

Kash is about to correct his assumption when he notices that Kathryn’s attention is almost wholly on Seska. They’ve locked eyes, challenge passing clearly between them.

Then Seska’s eyes widen a little.

“Tom,” she says. “This isn’t the captain.”

“Huh?”

The doors slide open again, and Janeway strides in, wearing the same leather outfit she’d had on yesterday. She halts abruptly, her glare encompassing all of them.

“I came here for a shower and solitude,” she growls.

“We’ll get out of your way,” Kash says hastily, beckoning the children to him.

Paris and Seska are staring between Kathryn and Janeway. “Someone mind telling me what the fuck is going on here?” Paris demands.

“Tom,” Kathryn admonishes. “The children.”

He turns incredulous eyes on her. “You’re definitely not my captain.”

Janeway snorts out a laugh.

“We should leave,” murmurs Seska, taking one child’s hand as Kash leads the other two to the door. “Tom?”

“You two are together?” Kathryn blurts aloud.

“Ludicrous, isn’t it?” Janeway drawls, unzipping her vest and tossing it nonchalantly in the direction of the couch. She rests one hand on a cocked hip, apparently heedless of her naked torso, smirking between Kathryn and Seska. “I guess I wasn’t lizard enough for him.”

Kash watches Kathryn’s mouth drop open. “Then you and he – the warp ten flight –”

“Wasn’t our first trip to heaven, no,” Janeway drawls. Then her eyes narrow. “What do you know about the warp ten flight?”

“The same thing happened to us,” Kathryn says, a hand to her head; Kash, hovering in the doorway, thinks she looks as if she might faint. “I mean, to the Tom Paris of my universe, and me.”

“But what?” Janeway leans a hip against the breakfast table, folding her arms under her bare breasts. “Didn’t he fuck you?”

Kathryn’s eyes flash and she straightens, glaring.

“Well, clearly you don’t have three little de-evolved mutant babies of your own, so –”

Kash can almost hear Kathryn grinding her teeth from across the room. “There were … offspring. Cha- my first officer made the decision to leave them in their natural habitat.”

It’s been a long, long time since Kash saw Captain Janeway shocked. He almost takes pleasure in it: in her pallor, the loose curl of her fingers, her parted lips. But she recovers herself almost immediately.

“If my Chakotay had left my children behind on that planet,” she rasps, “I’d have castrated him and strung his balls up from the mess hall ceiling.”

“We view things a little differently, you and I,” Kathryn tells her evenly.

“I don’t know any way to view that other than child abandonment,” Janeway snaps. She straightens, pushing away from the table. “Seska, get the children to their lessons. You, and you,” she points to Kathryn and Kash, in turn, “stay here. Paris, keep an eye on them.”

She turns dismissively, already unzipping her leather pants.

“Wait,” Kathryn says.

Janeway glances back, scowling. “What now?”

“Where is Kashyk?” Kathryn glances at Kash, amending, “I mean, my Kashyk.”

The scowl morphs into a curl-corner smile as Janeway turns and walks back toward Kathryn, only stopping when they’re bare millimetres apart.

Your Kashyk?” she repeats, her voice a purr. “Are you concerned for him, Kathryn?”

Kathryn says nothing.

“Don’t worry,” Janeway laughs, “I didn’t break him. Bent him a little, maybe, but I didn’t do any permanent damage.”

She leans in so close her lips brush Kathryn’s. Kathryn flinches, turning her head away. Janeway reaches up to grasp her chin, immobilising her.

“In fact,” Janeway nuzzles her ear, “I like your Kashyk much better than mine. I think I’ll keep him.”

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