"Are you listening, Kathy?"
Kathryn Janeway glared at her dinner companion. "Call me that again, and I'll start addressing you as Willy."
William Riker grinned, delighted at her retort. "My apologies, Kate, but you don't seem to be present this evening."
She sat up straighter in her seat and took another sip of wine. "I'm sorry." Leaning forwards, she stroked the back of his hand. "My mind’s on one of my classes."
"One of Starfleet Academy’s finest cadets, Kathryn Janeway, having trouble with a class? Surely not!"
"Not academic trouble. More of a personality clash."
"Ah, now that I can believe."
She slapped his hand playfully and pulled away.
"Enough brooding. I mean it, Kate. Do you have any idea how many strings I had to pull to secure this reservation?"
He said it in a light hearted enough way to ensure she knew he wasn’t being entirely serious, and predictably she felt the worries on her shoulders begin to lighten.
"A guitar full, I would guess," she conceded. Situated in the remote Scottish Highlands and accessible only by transporter pad, The Clan Gem was the most popular eating place amongst Starfleet cadets at the moment.
Her schedule was such that she barely managed to get any time to herself at all most weeks, and it was an extreme rarity that she found herself with an entire evening to spend with her beloved Will.
"Eat up and enjoy yourself. We can talk about this problem you're having tomorrow. Together we'll sort it, I promise."
She didn’t doubt him for a nanosecond. Although gregarious and easy-going with his friends, when the chips were down Will was always a true professional at heart. He worked harder than anyone else she knew, including herself, and he took his Academy career extremely seriously.
Not for the first time she found herself wondering how different her life at the Academy could have been had she not decided to start dating Will. Everything seemed easier with him around somehow, and his personality complimented hers in a lot of ways - he never allowed her occasional pensive or depressive moods to last for long.
Will's poker evenings were legendary. Not only was he guaranteed to assemble a fascinating and talented group of peers without fail, he sometimes managed to pull a Professor, Captain or one time, even an Admiral, out of the hat.
"Never you mind," was all he had said when Kathryn had asked him how he did it.
At first she had concerns that they would get in trouble, but it soon became clear that the powers that be were fully aware of the games and were prepared to let it slide so long as they never got out of hand and the participants maintained their excellent academic scores. They probably reasoned that the top students in particular needed an outlet of some kind, and what was the harm in a game of cards?
What they probably didn't know was that they sometimes played strip poker, and that there was always a lot of alcohol.
There was always a lot of steam to blow off at Starfleet Academy.
"Damn," she muttered, letting her cards fall to the table. Signing resignedly, she removed her thick blue sweater, revealing a black form fitted t-shirt underneath. She pretended not to notice Professor Geena’s inappropriate stare. It was necessary for him to let his guard down so she and Will could successfully hustle him.
She took a long sip of brandy and her eyes met Will’s. Geena would pay for humiliating her in class. And he would never bother her again, they would make absolutely sure of that.
Although she appeared slightly drunk and incapable, she was inwardly cold sober and immensely enjoying the spectacle unfolding in front of her. Without fail Geena lost an item of clothing each and every round and grew steadily more intoxicated. By the end of the game he was wearing nothing but his underwear she doubted whether he would be able to stand unaided. She gave Will the nod to proceed as planned.
Two of their female accomplices helped Geena remove his black boxer shorts, soothing and reassuring him as they did so. Kathryn took a good look at what lay beneath and let out a throaty chuckle.
"How did you know?" Will asked, smirking widely, holo recorder at the ready.
"It was obvious that he was desperately trying to make up for something.”
The club was noisy, crowded, hot - nothing to do with the fact it was located under a volcano, but everything to do with the faulty environmental controls. She quietly slipped away from the table, located the relevant panel and began making repairs.
"Found you." Will was slightly drunk and wore a triumphant expression which quickly gave way to confusion. "What are you doing?"
"This won't take long. It's hotter than hell in here and I intend to do something about it."
His arms slipped around her waist, his mouth gently rested against the skin of her bare back. "You're from Indiana -"
"And you're from Alaska. Yet I'm the one more bothered by the heat," She finished, enjoying the feel of his body pressed into her back.
They remained like that whilst she completed the repair. Once complete she turned to face him, raised herself up onto her tip toes and kissed his lips softly.
"I need a break," Will complained. He dropped the stack of PADDs he was holding on to the bed and stood to stretch. "We've been at this for hours. Let's take a quick walk."
They chose to walk in the Academy gardens, Kathryn's choice of course, although she disappointingly wasn’t greeted with a rose.
"Mom and Phoebe are annoyed that I still haven't introduced you," she said suddenly.
He studied her keenly. For a family as close as hers he had thought her decision odd, but then again, what did he know about families?
"I'd be happy to meet them, you know that. I promise to be on my best behaviour, especially around that gorgeous sister of yours.”
Kathryn shook her head. "Best not to, I think, seeing as we’ll both be stationed shortly."
Will absorbed that for a few moments, then said: "I would have loved to introduce you to my mother."
She was acutely aware that this would probably be the last time they had sex.
The tears began to fall as she felt her orgasm approach. She shifted position, gently easing him on to his back and sat in his lap, her face pressed into his shoulder. She took up the rhythm he had started and it was all over for her a few moments later.
He cupped her face in his hands so he could see her properly. They kissed, and she found that her tears stopped of their own accord. She loved this man, as he loved her, and they were destined for great things. Time to let go, but not to part in sadness.
Shards Six through Ten were damaged beyond repair
"A moment, number one."
Will watched the remainder of the senior officers file out in silence before taking a seat.
"As you know several new crew-members are coming on-board today. I would like you personally greet them and give them a brief tour of the Enterprise."
He didn't make a move for the exit just yet - Picard only asked him to do this if there was a new crew member he wanted Will to keep an eye on, for better or for worse.
"Lieutenant Janeway is amongst them. A rare and valuable asset, or so her file assures me - a scientist, an all-rounder, and an exceptional one at that."
Shard Twelve is Incomplete
The seven new additions to the Enterprise’s crew materialised on the transporter pad. Miles O'Brien noted with interest that Commander Riker seemed nervous. He watched the Commander greet each newcomer one at a time, leaving Kathryn Janeway for
Shard Thirteen is Incomplete
"Lieutenant Janeway. Welcome on-board the Enterprise."
She looked good; she looked just as she had on their last night together, only slightly slimmer and with a few extra lines around her mouth. He liked the last change - it added to her character.
Her eyes were as lively and intelligent as ever and that made him ache when she returned his greeting. "Thank you, Commander." She noted the interested expression on the transporter chief’s face and added, “We’ve already
Throughout the duration of the short tour he could sense her studying him more than once, and wondered how much he had changed since she last saw him.
He wound up the tour on the deck where their quarters were situated and soon afterwards they were alone.
"I'm sorry if my arrival came as an unwelcome surprise. I don't want to cause friction for either of us," Was the first thing she said.
He highly approved of her choice of word and let her know with a smile.
"On the contrary, your arrival is very welcome and in no way unexpected - you're the best of the best, Kate. It was only a matter of time until you joined me here on the Enterprise."
She only half-smiled at the compliment, as he knew she would. "I want to know everything, Will. How did you become First Office of the Enterprise already? And don’t give me the crap I can and have read in your personnel file - I want to know how you really did it.”
Before he could come up with an appropriate response he spotted Deanna and realised that the situation could potentially become very messy - in a good as well as the bad way, knowing both women as he did.
He made the introduction as straight faced as he possibly could and noted the knowing look on Deanna's face - had she figured out that Kathryn was the Academy girlfriend he sometimes mentioned, or was she simply reading him?
"You’re late for the game," Deanna said once all the usual pleasantries had been exchanged. "Would you care to join us too, Kathryn? Have you played poker before?"
Will and Kathryn exchanged a knowing glance and left it at that. Deanna was a partial telepath after all.
Shards Fourteen and Fifteen were damaged beyond repair
"He still cares about you a great deal, you know."
Deanna was slurring her words, and for a moment Kathryn wished she were elsewhere and not having this awkward, drunken conversation. Then again, over the years she'd been on board she had grown extremely fond of both Deanna and Beverly and always looked forward to their weekly evening together in Ten Forward.
If only Deanna wasn't such a lightweight when it came to liquor. Maybe then their conversations wouldn't often retread this old ground.
"That's hardly a secret," Beverly admonished gently. “And I have half a mind to replace that cocktail with a hot chocolate.”
"Deanna, I know you still have romantic feelings for him,” Kathryn said in what she hoped was a non-confrontational way. “And I want you to know -"
Deanna finished her sentence for her: "- you won’t stand in the way, and you would be happy for us." She openly read her for a few moments. "And you really do mean it."
Beverly rubbed Deanna's shoulder affectionately. "Like I told you, Deanna; it’s up to you."
Kathryn leaned back in her chair. "Is now a good time to ask whether you're the one responsible for the beard?"
Kathryn took a seat in the ready room. She'd been in here several times before over the years, but this time she was anxious. When Picard had summoned her here, there had been a hard edge to his voice.
He got to the matter directly. "You'll have heard that Voyager finally made it home last week."
She started. She had not been expecting this at all. "Yes, of course."
He grew pensive for a moment. "They've been gone a long time, and the nature of their return is sensitive, to say the least. A Maquis renegade captaining the vessel in the place of it’s dead Starfleet Captain, a divided crew... it's going to take a long time to clear up the mess."
Kathryn nodded silently. Her father had taken a keen interest in the disappearance of Voyager and had already discussed the developments with her.
"You have your part to play in that," Picard continued. "Five years worth of logs need investigating. I'm told there are truly extraordinary things contained within them; Voyager made some starting discoveries during her time away and has pushed scientific boundaries in a way many didn’t dream possible."
"Starfleet wants me to fulfil this role?"
"Yes; you'll head a team of ten. I'll be very sorry to lose you, but when Admiral Paris requested your transfer I was in no position to refuse - as he said himself, there's no one better suited to the job than you are."
“Thank you for seeing me at such short notice, Captain Chakotay.”
"We’re off duty - I would prefer Chakotay.”
Kathryn got an electric shock when they shook hands and found herself instantly liking this man.
“They’ve let you keep your field title. For now, at least”.
“Voyager is a Starfleet ship, and that’s how I ran her. Always," Chakotay emphasised the last word. "Most of my crew is 'fleet, and every nut and bolt of her is 'fleet. It was only right. And it got us home."
"There are no nuts and bolts within her, I can assure you," Kathryn replied, admiring the vessel from the view port. She couldn't tear her eyes from Voyager and had spent the entire journey here intensely studying her schematics. And the more he spoke of Voyager, his crew and their journey, the more something resonated deeply within her - she knew without a doubt that she was somehow intimately connected to this ship. And until she could unravel the questions why and how, she would remain obsessed with Voyager and enthralled by its Captain.
“I don’t envy your task, Commander. Let me know if I can be of any help to you.”
“Call me Kathryn.”
Shard Nineteen was damaged beyond repair
Shard Twenty is Incomplete
Chakotay awoke her with a kiss. "Here's your coffee. See you later."
She drank her coffee, showered and dressed. She moved purposefully around the apartment they now shared, waiting for another pot to brew, her mind already back on Voyager's logs. It had taken her team almost a year to finish their initial scrutiny of Voyager’s logs, and today they were finally ready to begin going through the lesser scientific discoveries with a fine tooth comb. The major finds had of course been referred on to specialists long ago.
She realised something was wrong the moment she reached the office. The entire team was already assembled and talking animatedly, crowded over a single console.
She peered over a shoulder and examined the detail on the work station.
She was watching a video of herself, in a red uniform, conducting some kind of experiment in Voyager’s science lab. The video
Shard Twenty One
"Spare me the details," Chakotay cut in, "just tell me in layman's terms - what does this mean?"
She took a breath. "Because of my actions on-board Voyager the timeline has been altered and fragmented, creating multiple time-lines which are incomplete. We exist in one of those."
"But wouldn't we have noticed?" Chakotay asked quietly, accepting her explanation far better than she expected him to.
"Not necessarily," she replied. “This is all we know.”
"So what now?"
"We need to put this right - reunite the time-lines."
"But that will irrevocably change our lives, and very possibly the lives of every person who has ever lived.”
"We have no choice," she said earnestly, becoming angry. "The fragmentation is only going to get worse."
He regarded her keenly. "Okay, you've convinced me. Guide me. Tell me what it is I need to do to."
Shard Twenty Two was damaged beyond repair
Shard Twenty Three is Incomplete
“I need to ask you to do something for me.”
“Can it wait, Kate?” Will asked with raised eyebrows. “I’m getting married in five minutes.”
They were in his quarters on board the Enterprise. She took a step forwards, closed the space between them, and said: “I need you to do exactly as I say. It won’t make much sense, and may seem dangerous, but if you don’t help me the consequences will be worse than you can possibly imagine. There’s no time to explain. I need you to trust me.”
He didn’t hesitate. “Then you had better speak quickly, because in less than six minutes a very angry Deanna Troi plus hundred strong wedding party will be searching for me and this is the first place they’re going to look.”
They set off for the bridge at a jog and she
Shard Twenty Four is Incomplete
She kissed him slowly, savouring it, guilt weighing heavily at the pit of her stomach. The fact he didn't discourage her only made it worse. But then in a few seconds the original timeline would be restored, and none of this would have hap-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Starfleet threw Voyager a fitting homecoming party. Impressive, celebratory yet sombre - a silent nod to the fallen who hadn't been able to reunite with their families.
Kathryn surveyed the reception room from her vantage point on the balcony above, making a note of who seemed left out or overwhelmed and resolved the seek them out tomorrow and ensure they were okay. They were still her crew, her family, until the debriefing was over next month.
"I hope I’m not disturbing you?"
She turned to greet the welcome intruder. It took her a few seconds to place the face: a fellow cadet at one time, and someone whose career she had followed since with great interest. A truly remarkable man if ever there was one, but sadly she had never had the opportunity to get to know him.
"It’s certainly been a long time, William Riker. What can I do for you?"
“I’ve been sent to fetch you.” He took her arm and began leading her back towards her homecoming party. She didn’t resist. "I look forward to hearing more details of your adventures in the Delta Quadrant following your debriefing. From what little I've heard so far it sounds like you had a hell of a time out there."
They began to descend the stairs. "You could say that. We had a few run-ins with the Borg and your friend Q amongst others, as I'm sure you've already heard. And, of course, there was the time we broke the Warp 10 barrier and my helmsman and I turned into lizards and procreated."
He laughed softly. "I would ask if you were joking if it wasn't for my time on the Enterprise."
Will made sure she was out of sight before removing the PADD he had been given by the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations that morning from his pocket. He would confirm to them that Kate - Captain Janeway - clearly had no memory of the events within and that they had managed to successfully repair the timeline with no visible damage first thing tomorrow morning.
He found a quiet space and read through the shards one last time, his mind wandering, before deleting the contents.