Summary:A bit of introspection from Janeway’s point of view.
This story is dedicated to Kat Lady for all her kind help and thoughtfulness. Nobody betas better. Thanks Kat.
Kathryn sat at her desk staring at her console, unseeing.
Her thoughts were not far away, about fifteen metres directly in front of her to be exact. She could picture him on the bridge, sitting relaxed and slightly off centre in his seat, his legs extended and his ankles crossed. He would be reading information from their shared console, and perhaps tapping in some data of his own. Harry would say something from the ops station and he’d swing around and smile at him, perhaps with a cryptic remark tossed back in return. Tom would then throw in some humorous quip, and the friendly banter would start. He would now sit back and quietly listen to the conversation, his eyes dancing around the bridge, always on the alert, even in these rare times of quiet. A gentle, tolerant smile would be playing around his mouth, his eyes full of warm affection for those around him. Kathryn closed her eyes and saw him in her mind’s eye. She was helpless to stop a warm smile from softening her features with her thoughts of him.
They’d had several weeks of plain sailing. No belligerent aliens or destructive phenomena, just the quiet star filled void all around. It was one of the most beautiful areas of space that Kathryn had ever experienced. The crew had nicknamed it ‘Le Beau Jardin’. Crewman Emmanuel from engineering had described the profusion of magnificently coloured nebulae as if they were flowers in a beautiful garden and when he’d spoken of it with his lilting French accent, he’d made it sound exquisitely exotic. The region had imbued the crew with a sense of serenity and peace, and everybody had found himself or herself relaxing and recharging. It had also given Kathryn time to reflect. As she sat here staring at a report on stellar dust clouds, she’d had what could only be described as an epiphany.
She was in love with Chakotay. Hopelessly and deeply in love with him. In this quiet time, when there was nothing to distract her, she’d spent many hours thinking of him and what he meant to her. There had been no clutter of impending doom, no scattered thoughts in the midst of chaos, just hours of quiet solitude to ruminate about the man who owned her heart. She’d been sitting here for days now, just thinking of him and trying to measure his importance in her life. And she’d come to the realisation that he meant everything.
It seemed so cliched, but he was the reason she could face the day. Just the thought of him, waiting for her on the bridge each morning, with his warm eyes and ready smile, made it possible for her to brave each day. She also realised that he was the last thing she thought of at night as she drifted off to sleep. Lying in bed she would look across at their shared wall and whisper his name as she closed her eyes. Just to know he was there was enough to soothe her battered soul, and calm her troubled thoughts.
She’d never seen herself as the sort of woman who would feel comfortable and at ease with handing her heart and soul to another. She was a strong and independent character, and had always considered that to do so would weaken her, but she now understood that his mere presence gave her strength. In most of her relationships with men during her life, there had always been challenge and contention. Never just this easy melding and deep comfortable knowledge of each other. Soulmates was the word that came to mind and perhaps best described this wonderful sense of belonging.
She thought back to her past loves.
Justin had been the rabid love of her youth. They’d wrapped around each other like vines, entangled and entwined. They were so frenzied and enmeshed that eventually they would have choked and strangled each others love out of existence. That sort of intensity within a relationship is impossible to maintain in the long term. His premature death had left deep and lasting scars, but the passing of time had allowed her to look back objectively, and understand that had he lived, their relationship probably wouldn’t have survived.
Her relationship with Mark had been just as doomed. Theirs had been an unequal and lopsided affair, with her career and needs always taking precedence over his. They had lived this mismatched and disproportionate lifestyle for ten years, with Mark forever acquiescing to her demands and needs and she blatantly expecting him do so. She’d ranged above him like an overbearing oak and he in her shadow, the smaller and pliant tree. Eventually she would have blotted out all of the light and the relationship sadly would have died.
Her thoughts drifted back to the man on the bridge. He was her equal. His quiet strength, freely given, imbued her with fortitude and vigour. He supported without oppressing, and he gave without the need to take in return. He was her foil and her conscience, but never her judge. He understood her in ways that no other person ever had. He was aware of her shortcomings, but didn’t measure her by them. He was a good man, willing to stand by her side, but not allowing her to overshadow him. They were like two strong trees growing side by side, singular, straight and tall, but with branches intertwined, adding support and structure. They were both independently strong and their branches ranged wide to shade and protect their crew.
This was the love she had waited for her whole life. This was the long lasting and deep bond that would only strengthen over time. She knew she loved him, and the depth of that love was boundless. Her heart swelled with this knowledge and beat a strong and steady rhythm of joy. She couldn’t wait to tell him of her newfound knowledge. Even though it had been many years ago now, he’d told her once that he loved her, and in the ensuing years, he’d done as he’d promised. He had stayed by her side, always ensuring that her needs came first, and he’d honoured his pledge to make her burdens lighter. She, in turn, had been his confidante and advocate. She’d given him a worthy goal and a valid focus by making him her First Officer. She’d offered him the means of redemption and forgiveness. They were there for each other in ways that were profound and deep. It was now time to be there for each other in every way. She was blissfully happy, filled with love for this man who had kept her sane amidst this insanity, had saved her life on numerous occasions, and who held the secret to her heart.
She took a deep breath, letting the anticipation build as she prepared to tell him of her love. She stood up and walked around to the front of her desk, and stood directly in front of the doorway so she would be the first thing that he saw when he walked through the doors. Another deep breath and a tap of her comm. badge. “Janeway to Chakotay.”
“Chakotay here, Captain.”
“Could you please come to my ready room, Chakotay? There’s something I need to discuss with you.”
“On my way, Captain.”
She pictured him, his body unfurling as he stood from his chair, walking towards her door and nodding to Tuvok on the way, silently handing over the bridge.
The door chimed. “Come.”
He entered the room, stopping a few paces inside the doors. They swooshed shut behind him and there she stood before him, her face as open as her heart. He looked at her, frowning for a moment, and then, as realisation dawned, a delighted smile slowly crept across his face. His eyes shone with love and happiness. Her heart hammered in her chest as their gazes locked and the bond deepened with joyous understanding. The ties that bound them tightened, drawing them together. Arms wrapped around one another, two bodies melding into one. No words were spoken. None were needed. Their heads moved together slowly as smiling lips met in a gentle and loving kiss.
They stood together in front of the view port, arms wound around each other as they looked out into the endless night. Bursts of colour splashed across the vista. They quietly revelled in their love, yet another exquisitely rare blossom in this beautiful garden.