Summary: How did the captain’s lost rank pip end up in Chakotay’s bed? Inquiring minds want to know.
Characters: Janeway, Q, Braxton, Chakotay
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS knows all, sees all, and owns all.
Notes: A sequel to Helen8462’s The Pip, which was a response to Prixin Prompt #1 (Explain how Kathryn knew where Chakotay kept his Antarian cider). I’ve borrowed some dialogue from her story, with her permission.
This story is also a response to Prixin Prompt #4: After Voyager's return to Earth Kathryn has a feeling Chakotay isn't who he says he is.
Well, this is interesting. I’ve never actually been the recipient of the Janeway Glare before. Now I can see why it works so well on upstart cadets and overly friendly alien diplomats. Still, at least having spent her past few hours traipsing through various timeframes means my younger self is a little more receptive to the idea of meeting another version of me.
Even if she is wrinkling her nose disbelievingly at my hairstyle.
Perhaps the most irritating part about coming face to face with a younger, sprightlier, and – I admit it – happier version of myself is her complete lack of tolerance for the choices I made while stuck out in the Delta quadrant. Oh, not my tactical decisions; I think she was a little overwhelmed at encountering macroviruses and deceitful Cardassian spies and Borg drones, and she’s probably just relieved to know that we survived all that. No, it’s my personal choices she has opinions about. Specifically my romantic choices. Or lack thereof.
“So which timeframe are you from?” she demands, folding her arms.
“Seven years in your future,” I answer. “Since you won’t remember anything that happened today, I might as well tell you we made it home. Four months ago.”
Relief washes across her face. “I’m glad to hear that. So, what can I do for you, Captain?”
“I need your pip.”
She raises an eyebrow. “You don’t appear to be missing one.”
“Oh, these aren’t real. And actually, I’m supposed to be wearing rank bars. I’m an admiral.”
“Congratulations,” she says drily. “Are you going to explain any of this to me?”
“There’s no time. I’m sorry. Chakotay will be initiating the warp pulse any moment now.”
“Oh, yes,” she answers as she removes the pip and drops it into my outstretched hand. “Chakotay.”
I give her a mild glare of my own. “Something you want to say to me, Captain?”
“He’s a handsome man,” she muses. “Intelligent, charming. Seems to be quite fond of me. You. Us. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”
I flush. “You certainly seemed to. Just how close do we get?”
“I’m engaged, not dead. And you were apparently out here for almost seven years.” I watch sadness flit across her eyes. “I can’t believe Mark would wait that long for me. So why don’t you tell me what barriers you and Chakotay do cross?”
I hesitate, and finally answer, “It’s complicated.”
“But,” I draw myself up, “I have a feeling I’m about to uncomplicate it.”
She searches my eyes for a moment longer, then nods. “Then I guess I’ll see you in the future too, Admiral. Make it a good one.”
I watch the captain stride away toward her bridge and turn to find Q grinning at me. “Quite the little spitfire, isn’t she? Now do you see why I find you so enchanting?”
I roll my eyes at him. “Let’s get on with it, Q. What am I supposed to do with this pip?”
“Oh, that’s simple. You just have to leave it somewhere your fellow with the drawing on his face will find it.”
“And where might that be?”
But before Q can answer, Braxton steps in between us. “I can’t allow this to happen. The temporal prime directive –”
“That old chestnut?” Q sighs. “You really are a tedious little toad, aren’t you?”
“Wait a minute,” I interrupt before Braxton can start spitting vitriol back at him. “Captain, if I’m understanding things correctly, we’ve already prevented the demise of the Federation in the future – your past. Isn’t that what you came here to do?”
“The Department of Temporal Investigations has empowered me to prevent any changes to the timeline, no matter how minor,” he says pompously. “Changing history for your own benefit would seem to fall into that category, Admiral.”
“You can’t seriously tell me your temporal jackboots give a damn whether Chuckles ends up with Drone Girl or Kathy here,” Q snorts. “Although you probably should.”
“Why?” I turn to Q.
“Oh, I probably shouldn’t say anything.” Q inspects his fingernails and flicks a glance at Braxton. “Temporal prime directive and all.”
Now I’m curious. “I’d say we’ve already smashed it to smithereens, wouldn’t you, Captain?”
Braxton folds his arms and glares. But as he doesn’t protest further, I tilt my head at Q, eyebrows raised.
“All right then,” Q grins. “In the twenty-sixth century, a young lady by the name of Elizabeth Jones graduates from Starfleet Academy. On her first posting she meets a dashing lieutenant. They fall in love and eventually marry and procreate, in the revolting way you humans do. The lieutenant’s name is John Braxton.”
Captain Braxton scowls.
“The captain’s ancestor?” I ask.
“Naturally. But the interesting part is that Elizabeth Jones never existed.”
“You’ve lost me, Q.”
“At least, not in one timeline. You see, Lizzie’s great-great-great grandparents went by the names of Chakotay and Kathryn Janeway.”
My mouth falls open.
I’m going to have a child?
“But if the captain here has his way, you two lovebirds will never come to your senses, Chuckles will end up in a childless marriage to Miss Cyborg, and Lizzie Jones will never be born. Consequently, neither will he.” Q jerks his chin at Braxton.
“Wait just a minute,” I stammer. “Are you telling me Captain Braxton is one of my descendants?”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you,” Q crows. “And the silly twit is trying to wipe himself out of existence by restoring a timeline that never should have been. Aren’t you just so proud, Kathy?”
Braxton and I are wearing identical expressions of shock now.
“You didn’t know?” I ask him. “How could you not know?”
“Oh! Oh!” Q bounces on his toes, hand in the air. Braxton and I turn to look at him. “That’s down to me.”
“It gets boring in the Continuum, so I thought I’d liven things up with a little cosmic joke.” Q giggles. “Surprise, Captain! The joke is on you.”
Braxton gathers himself with a roar and springs at Q, who snaps his fingers, disappears, and reappears on my other side. Braxton falls flat on his face.
“Well,” I comment as Braxton picks himself up, glowering at the chortling Q, “that’s really got to give you the pip.”
After everything that’s happened today, ducking into a Jeffries tube on Deck Eight to avoid a de-Borgified Seven of Nine and her tricorder really should seem like just another day at the office.
“The temporal displacement signature appears to be localised here,” I hear her saying as her tricorder beeps and whirs.
“There should be no remaining temporal fluctuations.” Crap, it’s Tuvok. “The chronokinetic surge was avoided.”
“Curious,” Seven agrees.
“Now what do we do?” I whisper to Q and Braxton. “Those two are not going to just let this go.”
“Never fear, Kathy,” Q declares. “Why do you think I’ve let your pesky little descendant keep hanging around? He’s going to create a diversion.” He smirks at Braxton. “Start crawling, Captain. You need to draw those two away from Kathy here while she completes her mission.”
“You’re going to pop that pip into Chuckles’ bed.”
Q ignores me, clicks his fingers, and Braxton’s arms and legs begin lurching forward of their own accord. “Bye-bye,” Q calls after him. “Don’t worry, I won’t let them find you.”
“The signal is moving,” Seven announces from outside the Jeffries tube. “We should continue tracking it.”
“I will return to the bridge and initiate internal scans,” I hear Tuvok reply as they move away.
“Ready, Kathy?” Q asks, but before I can reply, he snaps his fingers and I find myself standing in my first officer’s bedroom with a pip in my hand.
I sit down hard on the bed.
The door to Chakotay’s quarters slides open.
Crap! I look around wildly for a place to hide. No time. Tossing the pip onto his pillow, I dive under the bed.
I hear him moving around his living area, the soft chime of console keys, the whir of the replicator. Oh, that’s right – I remember taking my replicator apart earlier that day and not having time to put it back together. He’s preparing our dinner. The outer door slides open and I breathe a sigh of relief and start to slide out from under the bed.
Then the doors close and his soft footfalls come closer. Oh God, he’s coming into the bedroom. I freeze in place.
Chakotay opens a drawer and I hear the chink of a bottle; he must’ve gone to the cargo bay earlier to get the Antarian cider. His footsteps move away, then pause.
Crap. He’s coming closer. I can see his boots as he stops by the bed. He leans over the pillow. He’s picking up the pip…
“Huh,” I hear him mutter. He opens another drawer and I hear the soft chirp of a tricorder.
Then Chakotay starts to laugh.
“Kathryn Janeway,” he says aloud, “you never cease to surprise me.”
For a moment I think I’ve been discovered, but then he puts down the tricorder and tucks the bottle under his arm, humming to himself as he collects the dishes from the replicator and exits his quarters.
Cautiously I squirm out from under the bed and scramble to my feet.
Q is sitting on Chakotay’s bed looking extremely pleased with himself.
“So,” he says. “Want to see what happens next?”
We’re sitting in the armchairs in my living area watching Chakotay and my one-year-younger self sprawled on the couch, sipping Antarian cider and flirting. Yes, flirting. There’s no other word for it.
“Are you sure they can’t see us?” I mutter to Q.
“Shh,” he says, annoyed. “We’re just getting to the good part.”
Chakotay is smirking, and the other me is blushing and worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. “I had to tell her there are some barriers we never cross,” he’s saying. “But apparently that was a lie.” He holds up my rank pip. “Or it’s going to be.”
The other me takes a fourth pip from her collar and drops it into Chakotay’s empty glass.
“Wait a minute,” I object, “where did that come from?”
“Details,” Q dismisses. “Look, look!”
Chakotay is putting the pip back on Captain Janeway’s collar. He’s leaning in close. So close I can see the other me shiver and close her eyes.
“What were we saying about there being a part of your life you know nothing about?” she whispers.
He turns his head slightly. “That it sounds like the future.”
She twists to meet him. “Interesting,” she breathes. I can hear the catch in her voice, and he’s not smiling anymore. As we watch, she leans into him and he dips his head to hers.
The moment their lips touch, I’m enveloped in white light.
I materialise, gasping and shaking, behind my desk at Starfleet Command, wearing my grey-shouldered uniform and – I reach up to check – a vice-admiral’s rank bars.
I’m alone, and it’s dark outside my window. Glancing at the console on my desk, I realise the time reads 1900 hours and the date is May 20, 2378.
I’m exactly where and when I started.
I get unsteadily to my feet. “Q! Where are you?”
There’s no reply.
“Well, what was the point of all this, then?” I shout into the empty room. “Why make me go through all that if nothing has changed?”
I sink back into my chair, blinking back despondent tears. Damn Q. What kind of mean-spirited gift was that, anyway?
There’s a knock at my office door, and a head pops around it. Dark hair, tattoo and a pair of dimples.
“I thought I’d find you here.”
My jaw drops. Q may be mischievous, but I’ve never known him to be cruel before. Not like this.
It takes a moment or two to find my voice. “Why are you doing this?”
Q/Chakotay’s smile drops and he comes closer. “Kathryn? Are you all right?”
“Oh, like you care!” I’m on my feet again, striding out from behind my desk, toe to toe with him. “Next time you come bearing gifts, you can just damn well keep them. I mean it!”
Q/Chakotay stares at me. “What’s wrong, Kathryn? You’re starting to scare me.” His eyes widen. “Is something wrong with the baby?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“That’s it,” he mutters. “I’m taking you to the Doctor.”
I plant my hands on my hips. “You’re not taking me anywhere. I’m done dancing to your tune. Just get out and leave me alone. Preferably for the rest of my life.”
“Kathryn,” he says in that soft voice that sounds so exactly like Chakotay’s.
Wait a minute.
“You’re not Q,” I realise slowly.
“Q?” Chakotay glances around the room fearfully. “Why would you think I – No, of course I’m not Q!”
Swallowing hard, still not quite believing it, I raise my chin. “Prove it.”
He stares at me for a moment longer. Then his eyes glint with determination and he steps forward, takes me into his arms, and kisses me.
With tenderness, passion, and oh, so much skill.
And as I melt into his kiss, it all comes rushing in – or rushing back. The night of the burnt-out deflector dish. My search for my missing pip and its discovery in the most unexpected of places. Our kiss and the hours that followed, spent in his arms. The decision never to spend another night apart from that moment on. The return to Earth, our promotions, the house we bought together. The discovery, just this morning, that we’re going to have a baby.
The best gift I could ever have received.
I kiss him back until I can barely breathe or hold myself upright, and as we break apart I tighten my arms around him and send Q a silent message of thanks.
“Better now?” Chakotay smiles against my hair.
He holds me tighter. “Happy birthday, Kathryn.”
“Chakotay?” I murmur into his neck.
“What do you say we skip dinner?”
He pulls back to grin at me. “Aren’t you hungry?”
I give him a look from under my lashes. “Oh, I’m hungry.”
“Noted,” he almost purrs. He steps back and holds out his arm. I take it, pressing myself close against his side.
“By the way,” I add as we head for the door, “I’ve been thinking about what we should call the baby. What do you think of Pip?”