The Way It Should Have Been by D.A. Kent


D.A. Kent


May 23, 2001








Captain Janeway has a terrible nightmare - one that makes her extremely upset. She decides to confront her First Officer face-to-face, to see if what she saw in her dream is true.


Paramount owns the show and the characters, who in turn own too much of me.

Captain Janeway paced her quarters, up to the couch, down to her desk, up to the viewport, down to her desk. She ordered a cup of soothing tea from the replicator and cursed it when it burned her tongue. Good coffee never did that, even when it was very hot! In stubborn defiance, she ordered a cup of coffee instead and dumped the tea into the recycle bin.

She continued to pace.

Kathryn had awakened at 0300 from a terrible dream and hadn't been able to get back to sleep. Instead, after tossing and turning until 0430, she had risen and taken a sonic shower, hoping to shake the awful gnawing feelings in her stomach, and in her heart.

Bridge duty awaited her, and though she'd now spent hours trying to calm herself enough to report to the Bridge and focus her attentions on her job, she also knew herself well enough to know that this nightmare wasn't going to go away by itself. She had to find out if what she'd seen in her dream was true. She stopped her pacing and took a deep breath. Yes, she had to know for sure. Kathryn Janeway had had few nightmares of this intensity in her life, but each time one occurred, she had always needed to search out its meaning. Far too often, there was at least a modicum of truth in them.

Kathryn closed her eyes. Her stomach still lurched and her heart still pounded, but there was a definite satisfaction in having made a decision. She opened her eyes and took several more deep breaths.

Now she just had to figure out how to approach Chakotay and get the answers to her questions without upsetting him.


Captain Janeway entered the Bridge from the turbolift at precisely 0825. "Commander Chakotay," she announced, as she walked with purpose toward her Ready Room door, "May I see you a moment?"

Chakotay stood and followed her into her Ready Room without comment. A First Officer didn't question his Captain's orders, yet it was a bit odd that she had posed her order in the form of a question rather than a command.

Once they were behind closed doors, Captain Janeway turned to Chakotay. They regarded each other a moment, and then the Captain took a deep breath. She needed to behave normally. She didn't want Chakotay to think something was bothering her.

"How about a cup of tea?" she asked, in as pleasant a voice as she could muster. To her own ears, she sounded pretty good.

"Fine," he said, and then watched her order tea for both of them from the replicator.

She gestured toward her desk and they both headed in that direction. Putting the tea down before them, Kathryn sat and tested her tea carefully.

"What is it, Captain?" he asked gently.

Damnit. Why could he always tell when something was the matter. "What's what, Chakotay?"

He sighed. "Something is wrong. I'd like to know what it is, and if I'm not mistaken, you've also asked me in here to tell me about it."

Damn him. She was quiet a moment, but her nerves were still on edge. Finally, she put down the cup and began to pace the floor as she'd done in her quarters earlier. There was no need to pretend everything was all right. Not when Chakotay could judge her every mood. "I had a terrible dream last night," she said, finally.

He nodded. It was rare for her to have a dream that upset her as much as this one obviously had. And as a spiritual person, Chakotay knew that dreams could have special significance. Kathryn didn't usually believe in them, but this one had obviously left a strong impact on her state of mind.

"Why don't you tell me about it, Kathryn?" he asked.

"It's nothing," she said. "And it's not the dream I want to talk about this morning." She brushed it away quickly. "I just wanted to let you know why I'm so keyed up. I haven't had much sleep." She began to pace again.

"All right," he said, "Then what do you want to talk about?" Maybe he'd be able to figure out what was bothering her anyway.

"It's . . . well . . . I'm not sure how to begin."

Chakotay nodded, waiting for her to continue. It was certainly not like her to be unsure about anything.

She took another deep breath, then turned to look directly at him. "Chakotay," she began again, "We're very close to home now. Relatively speaking, of course. If we're lucky, and keep on our toes, we should be home within a few years." He nodded. "What I'm about to ask you now is off the record, from one friend to another. It has nothing to do with command, and you are under no obligation, or order, to answer me, do you understand?" she asked.

Again, Chakotay nodded. There was nothing else he could do, but he didn't like the unease in her voice.

"Chakotay . . . are you . . . involved with . . . no, that's not what I mean to ask." She paused to collect her thoughts, to ask the question properly. She knew he wasn't involved - in the literal sense - with anyone. "Are you in love with someone on this ship?" She blurted it out, before she could talk herself out of using the word she had wanted to avoid.

Chakotay was startled. In all the years he'd known Kathryn Janeway, nothing she said or did surprised him anymore, yet somehow she'd managed to do so now. He couldn't speak, and he surely didn't know what he would say if he could.

"Chakotay?" she whispered, taking a step toward him. Had she surprised him? Maybe he wasn't ready to talk about . . . it. She lowered her head and closed her eyes. Please, she warned herself, don't let him see your feelings. For a moment, all she could see was an image in her mind - an image she'd had last night, of Chakotay and Seven together.

Finally, she raised her head to look him in the eye. It was one of the hardest things she'd ever forced herself to do, but she had to know the answer to her question, and she knew the answer would be there, in his eyes. They always told her the truth.

But he turned his head away, unable to face her. And she suddenly knew she had waited too long to ask him the very question she'd just asked. She should have asked him five years ago when she would have known the answer, when it would have been a different one than it obviously was today.

Chakotay's heart was hammering inside his chest. Why did she ask now? Why did she suddenly want to know? He knew it had to have something to do with her dream from last night, but what? Did she really want to know how he felt? Now, after all these years? He took a deep breath, stalling for time. He couldn't be sure she really wanted to know the truth. Kathryn Janeway never opened herself up to truths that were different from what she wanted to hear.

"Chakotay . . ." she began.

"Yes," he said, cutting her off. After a moment, he looked at her. "Yes, I am."

She forced herself to remain where she was, and to look at his face. But she had to turn away before she could look deeply into his eyes. She didn't want to see his love for another woman there. She couldn't, not now, not after all they'd been through together. Not after she'd held out hope for so long . . . but it was her fault, wasn't it, and not his? She had turned him away for years, after all.

It was her fault that he'd turned to Seven.

"Kathryn? Why do you ask? Why now?" She wasn't behaving as the Captain, nor as Kathryn. He was trying to understand her reaction, now that he'd answered her question truthfully. But he couldn't tell what she was thinking. And she wouldn't look him in the eye.

She shook her head and moved away, to the viewport. Her back was to him and she stared at the stars as they streaked by, wishing she could move away with them, wishing she wasn't human, wasn't a woman, wasn't a Captain in love with her First Officer.

The dream had been strange, awful. Voyager had made it home, but not without a price. They had suffered 22 more casualties, Tuvok was suffering from a rare and fatal disease, and Seven of Nine was dead.

The dream had been so real, and even now she felt the terrible sense of loss that her future self, Admiral Janeway, had felt for many years after Voyager's return to Earth, and to the Federation. She smiled grimly to herself as she continued to look out the viewport. Admiral Janeway. She'd made Admiral, after all. Her father would have been proud.

But the greatest sense of loss was deep inside her now, a loss so deep that she couldn't fathom it being a dream. She had pushed Chakotay away for so long he had turned to Seven for companionship.

The full impact of the dream hit her again, and she felt goosebumps rise on the back of her neck. It was a horrid predicament, in the dream. She, Admiral Janeway, had gone back in time to help Voyager defeat the Borg one last time, giving her life for the cause. Kathryn now thought about how appropriate that would be. She had always been prepared to die for her crew. In the dream, though, she had managed to slip a virus into the Borg Queen as she was being assimilated, a virus she had brought from the future, and one that eventually destroyed the entire Collective.

It had been a bittersweet ending, though, for Admiral Janeway. She had given her life for the man, and the crew, that she had fallen in love with in the Delta Quadrant. She had known in her heart that there was nothing for her in the Alpha Quadrant anymore. Chakotay had died a few years after they'd reached Earth, several years after Seven's death. Without Chakotay by her side, there had been no reason for Admiral Janeway to go on anyway. She had spent her last days on Earth recalling her time in the Delta Quadrant with fondness, and her former First Officer with an ache in her heart, and in her soul.

Chakotay watched Kathryn from where he stood. Something was wrong. He wanted to go to her, take her in his arms, and make everything all right. But he couldn't do that; she'd never allow it. For years he'd wanted to hold her, love her, but she'd refused him. And now that she'd asked him point blank about his feelings, his answer didn't seem to tell her what she wanted to hear. But then, he wasn't surprised. He was only surprised that she'd asked in the first place.

"Kathryn?" he called to her softly.

She turned quickly, seemingly surprised to see him standing there. This made him even more uneasy. Kathryn Janeway did not forget herself in any situation.

He took a step closer to where she stood. "I know something is wrong, Kathryn. Tell me about it. Whatever it is, we'll work it out together."

She smiled a tentative, sad smile. "Like always before?" she whispered.

"Yes, like always, Kathryn," he answered. Maybe it was best to forget about the question she'd asked him earlier.

But she looked away. How could she tell him that in her dream she'd lost him to Seven of Nine? In her dream, Seven had died during the attack by the Borg, but only after she had married Chakotay. Kathryn sighed. Why did her dreams have to seem so life-like? If Chakotay and Seven had married in the Delta Quadrant, then more than likely she herself had performed the ceremony that had united them. Could she do it, she wondered. Could she have married them? Yes. If that was what it took to make Chakotay happy.

"Kathryn?" He was becoming truly concerned.

And from the time frame in her dream, that would also mean that Chakotay and Seven were seeing each other discreetly even now. And he had just admitted that he was in love with her. Why was it that more of her dreams than not had so much truth to them? Was she really going to be assimilated by the Borg someday, just as her dream had shown her? Was it really a prediction of things to come? And did it matter so much what happened to her, anyway? After all, if she lost Chakotay, she had nothing else to live for. That thought brought her up cold.

But she was wrong, there was one thing to live for, one thing she had to do before she died. She had to get her crew home. She'd promised.

Kathryn Janeway took a deep breath, then turned to face an anxious First Officer. "I'm sorry, Chakotay. I have a great deal on my mind just now."

"I can see that. Yet you won't discuss it with me."

"It doesn't matter," she said in a calm voice.

"It might. To me."

"Chakotay, I'm fine now."

"No, you're not, Kathryn. Something has upset you deeply, and whatever it is still bothers you." He decided to go for broke. "Why did you ask me earlier if I am in love with someone on board ship?"

"I told you it doesn't matter," she said, and forced herself not to turn away again.

"I think it does matter," he said. "Why did you ask?"

"Why do you want to know?" She desperately needed to regain the upper hand.

"Because it's not like you to ask that sort of question, Kathryn." He closed the distance between them, and took her shoulders gently when she tried to move away from him. "Why did you ask a question that you've never wanted to know the answer to before now?"

"I . . ."

"Yes, tell me." He refused to let her go, knowing she would move away if he did so, and he needed to look into her eyes.

She refused to be bullied into telling him anything. "Chakotay," she said calmly, "please release me." He did.

They continued to stare into each other's eyes, until suddenly Kathryn felt a sob rise in her throat and she quickly turned her back to him.

"Tell me." He said it simply.

She shook her head. "I can't. I told you it's not important." But she didn't turn to look at him.

"Kathryn, whatever it is, it's tearing you apart." He sighed. "After my admission a few minutes ago, surely you know I want to be a part of whatever this is. I want to help, or at least share your burden."

She turned to him, confusion showing in her eyes. "Help, Chakotay? How can you share my burdens like before, as though nothing has changed?" She paused for a moment, trying to figure out his meaning. "You can't devote time to my personal needs when you have other obligations now. It's not like before." She paused. She had to force herself not to be selfish where Chakotay was concerned. After all, he had chosen Seven. "And as I said, we'll be home before too long. Perhaps it's time you tell her how you feel, Chakotay, bring it into the open."

"What?" It was his turn to be confused. "Kathryn, nothing you're saying makes any sense to me."

"I'm serious, Chakotay. If you're in love with her, tell her. It's time." Even though her heart would break, it was time.

"I've told her, Kathryn," he said softly.

She looked down. So, it was true, and Seven knew how he felt. She forced down a lump that was stuck in her throat. "Good."

"That's all you can say?" he asked softly.

"What more do you want me to say, Chakotay?" she asked. Did he expect her to congratulate him, wish them well? Maybe some day, because it was what he wanted. But not now. Now she just wanted to be alone.

"I'd like you to tell me . . . how you feel about it!" Now he was feeling as uncomfortable as she seemed to be. Something wasn't right. They had often disagreed, even argued. But they'd never been downright uncomfortable with each other.

"That's not important."

"Not important? It's extremely important to me, Kathryn!"

She moved away from him, far away, and down to her desk, before turning back to him. "What do you want me to say, Chakotay? Congratulations?"

"What do you mean? I don't know what you're talking about, Kathryn!" He started down to her level, but she moved away again.

"Please, Chakotay." She stopped. "I'm happy for you. Can we leave it at that for now?"

He stopped, too. "You're happy for me? That's it?" He couldn't believe this conversation. "What about you?"

"What about me?"

"How do you feel about it?" he asked, perplexed.

"I feel fine, just fine," she said, trying to sound that way, but failing miserably.

"I see." He was quiet a moment. "Then it's true. You're no longer in love with me."

For a complete ten seconds, time stood still, and they regarded each other again.

"What did you say?" she whispered to him from across the room.

He swallowed. "You're no longer in love with me." His voice was soft, shaken. He had made a mistake in telling her how he felt.

"Chakotay?" She moved slowly toward him. "You think I'm no longer in love with you?" Her voice was so soft he barely heard her. How odd, she thought somewhere in the back of her mind, odd that they had never spoken of love before at all, but now it seemed so normal to do so, so understood.

"I've lost you." He felt numb. It was as he'd feared all these years. Time had moved on, and taken them away from each other.

"Lost me?" She could barely speak now, and could only repeat his words.

"Yes. I'd always hoped there would be a time for us, Kathryn, but it's too late now, isn't it?"

"Chakotay? Look at me." He managed to do so. Whenever she spoke, he reacted, whether it was the Captain speaking, or Kathryn.

"Are you saying you're in love with . . . me?" Her throat was dry, raw from tears, yet she managed to ask him the most important question she could imagine.

"Of course I'm in love with you, Kathryn." He swallowed. "I can't remember a time when I wasn't in love with you." He saw the emotion play across her face. "Kathryn, you asked me earlier . . ."

". . . I asked if you were in love with someone on Voyager."


"And you said you were."

"Yes." And then something occurred to him. "What did you expect me to say, Kathryn? Who did you think I was in love with?"

"Seven, of course."

"Seven! Kathryn, where did you get such a crazy idea? Seven?" He couldn't believe it. "Kathryn, that's the most ridiculous notion I've ever heard!"

She smiled. "It was in my dream."

"Your dream? Your dream? Kathryn, I've known you to have some pretty strange and incredible dreams over the past few years, but none as ridiculous as this one!" He began to pace her Ready Room. "The entire idea is completely out of the question." He stopped pacing and stared at her. She was smiling. "Oh, now it's funny?"

"No, of course not," she said gently, and moved down to his level. "Chakotay, are you really in love with me?"

He forced himself to calm down. He looked into the eyes of the woman he still loved, had always truly loved, and was at peace again. "I love you more than life, Kathryn, more than you'll ever know."

Tears welled in her eyes. "Well. I guess my dream was wrong this time."

"Whatever your dream was about, Kathryn, it was definitely wrong. Put away all those ideas of my being involved with Seven of Nine. She's your Borg, your reclamation project, not mine."

"True." She smiled up at the man she loved. "You were completely against my taking Seven from the Collective and keeping her on Voyager."

He took a deep breath. "Yes. I was."

"In fact, if memory serves me right, you originally wanted to blow her out an airlock . . ." she said, still smiling.

"She's worked out fine, Kathryn. You were right, she adds a great deal to this crew." Then he gently took her shoulders again. "But she's not the woman for me, Kathryn. Someone else will have to put up with her when the time comes. Someone else will have to deal with her stubbornness." He sighed. "I'm content to deal with yours."

They stared at each other a bit longer, and then slowly grinned at each other. Kathryn Janeway took the hands of her First Officer from her shoulders and placed them on her waist. "I believe I told you a few moments ago that it's time."



"For what, Kathryn? Tell me again," he said softly.

"Time to kiss me," she whispered, as she moved her lips closer to his.

"Only if you promise me one thing," he managed to say.

"Anything," she whispered, and she meant it.

"Promise me if you have any other crazy dreams, you'll tell me about them before you jump to conclusions."

"You have my word on that," she murmured, as she placed her lips against his.


Feedback, please?