Beverly blinked, trying to reconcile this image of the bridge with the memory from so long ago. She felt Chakotay gently squeeze her shoulder before he picked his way to Seven’s frozen body. Taking a deep breath, she steadied herself, stepping over demolished bridge structures. The doctor knelt by Kathryn’s side, but sat stiffly - partially because of her older joints subjected to a life outside of conventional life, and more significantly because Kathryn was actually dead. Now that she was here, Beverly wasn’t sure quite what to do – it was one thing to mentally prepare to see her wife dead and frozen in place, but actually seeing her stole her breath away, and broke her heart again. She took a quick head to toe observation of the captain, finding Kathryn’s sprawled body in contradiction to the peaceful expression on her face.
Please tell me you didn’t lay here long before you died.
Faintly hearing Chakotay’s heavy steps on the upper bridge, she shook her shock away and gently reached to Kathryn’s frozen face. Brushing the frost from the captain’s forehead, Beverly leaned forward and pressed a kiss there.
I love you.
The cold of Kathryn’s skin was to be expected, but she was still somehow unprepared; the last time she’d touched Kathryn, she was kissing her goodbye in the shuttle bay with a well-timed cheeky comment.
One minute we’re discussing brownies, and the next I’m across the galaxy without you, and without a clue if you’re alive or dead.
Chakotay, behind her, opened a link to Tessa, and Beverly knew her time was almost up. Gently rubbing her thumb across Kathryn’s cheek one more time, she said her goodbyes. As she started to rise, a sparkle of light glimmered in the dim emergency lighting. Beverly’s grandmother’s ring was on Kathryn’s hand.
I didn’t know you wore it on duty, love, or was this deemed a special enough occasion? Preparation for meeting the admiral upon arrival, perhaps?
Clapping her hands to her knees, she finally stood. She crossed back to Chakotay, who rose to meet her, while still talking to Tessa.
“I’ve found her – lock onto the transporter relay and beam her to the lab.”
“Make it quick…this isn’t exactly a happy reunion.”
In the moments waiting for Tessa to prepare, Beverly noted Seven’s appearance, glad that she seemed to be in practically pristine condition – perfect for their mission to save them all…not that the dead borg’s perfection was really any shock to anyone. Even in death, Seven, really? Quirking a half smile, she also noted that apparently she had been crying as now tears frozen in their tracts pulled at her skin. Oh well. Can’t say I expected anything different, but then again I handled it better than I expected. Give credit where it’s due, Beverly.
Chakotay pulled her into a quick side hug, her arm sliding around his waist as she peeked at Kathryn, and back to Seven.
From the Delta Flyer, Tessa commed them again. “I’ve got a lock.”
Beverly pulled away as he responded, turning fully to get one last look at Kathryn.
“Good. Beam her to the lab and we’ll meet you there. Chakotay out.” He gently touched Beverly’s shoulder. “We’ll get her back, Beverly.”
“I know, I know. It’s still…hard.”
“Come on – let’s go change history and see her again.”
Ladies and gentlemen, please! May I introduce the next generation of instellar propulsion, the Quantum Slipstream Drive. Four years, two months, eleven days. That's precisely how long Voyager's been in the Delta Quadrant. During that time, we've advanced the frontiers of exploration, and more importantly, we've survived. Now, it's time to go home. Enjoy the celebration, but keep in mind we've still got a lot of work to do before tomorrow's flight.
Go easy on that champagne, Lieutenant.
Kathryn hurried her steps to sneak behind Beverly as she chatted with Seven, inquiring about her implants – something about one was malfunctioning that morning, but Kathryn hadn’t gotten the full report yet. With a quick grin to Seven in advance apology, she quickly hugged the doctor from behind, startling her. She slid around to Beverly’s side and gently took her hand, twining their fingers.
“Please excuse me, Seven, if I might steal the doctor away?”
Seven inclined her head in acquiescence. “It is not a problem, Captain. I hope you enjoy your copular celebrations tonight. Doctor Crusher, please do not injure the captain as tomorrow is, as Lieutenant Paris exclaimed earlier, ‘a big day.’”
Kathryn’s jaw dropped, and Beverly just quickly shushed Seven and pulled the captain away before she could correct the situation.
Still stuttering and stammering, Kathryn tried to pull back to give Seven a piece of her mind, but Beverly quickly pulled her in for a kiss.
Pulling back, she glared up at the doctor. “Beverly, you can’t just keep shushing me with kisses – I need to go talk to Seven about just blatently discussing…these…matters…please stop giving me that look. You know I can’t resist that look.”
Beverly rolled her eyes and looped her arm through Kathryn’s, gently tugging her toward the door.
Heaving a sigh, Kathryn leaned into Beverly. “Fine. You win, but just this once.”
“Kathryn, I almost always win.”
Dead silence from Kathryn was the only response.
“Okay okay, but only this one time, I promise.” Beverly kissed Kathryn’s temple, much to the amusement of a passing ensign who smiled at the display. “Maybe.”
Kathryn rolled her eyes and looked over the crowd, half-heartedly thinking about how much a mess the confetti made. Glancing up at Beverly and seeing flecks in her hair, she quickly changed her mind and thought the mess was definitely and completely worth the clean-up work. With a small grin, she overlooked her crew and their new technology, proud of each and every one of them for their accomplishments.
Bumping her hip against Beverly’s, she brought her gaze to the warp core. “Quantum matrix, benamite crystals, Borg technology…can you imagine what Starfleet is going to say?”
Beverly laughed at the image. “I don’t think we’ll hear any complaints – the Federation’s first slipstream drive. They’ll probably nominate us for the Cochrane Medal of Honour.”
Kathryn gently laughed, not entirely sure how that would go over at Starfleet Command, but she was willing to let it go for now. “I’ll start working on my acceptance speech.”
“Personally, I’d like to thank the Borg Collective. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”
This time, she laughed fully. “Oh Beverly, my mother will love you.”
“Good. I’ve to have someone cook for me sometimes.”
Elbowing the doctor in the side, Kathryn glared up at her smirk. “I might retract my invitation with that attitude, but…dinner plans?”
“Oh nothing terribly special. Date with a replicator, tea, and medical reports.”
“Cancel them – that’s an order.”
She glanced up to capture Beverly’s renewed smirk and cheeky salute. “Aye aye, Captain.”
Kathryn laugh echoed through engineering as they exited.
After losing track of time while reading last minute reports, Kathryn practically tripped in her haste to leave her ready room and bolt to the turbolift. Now on her deck, she practically ran down the hall, hoping she had enough time to actually cook dinner for once. She started unzipping and unhooking bits of her uniform as soon as her doors had shut; a sonic shower would still leave her time to cook and set the table.
Rushing into the shower barely long enough to feel clean, she nearly tripped over her boots in her dash to the closet.
You’re nervous, aren’t you, you old fool? Relax. It’s Beverly. Slow down before you break your neck. She’d never let you live it down.
She gathered her uniform and boots, only to dump them on her closet floor.
One deep blue dress and set of underwear later, she wandered barefoot to the replicator. Gently patting the top panel, she muttered appeasements and compliments and waxed poetic, eventually retracting her opinion that it was nothing more than a stupid miserable overrated glorified toaster from Hell, the lousy piece of junk.
Pressing a few buttons and wishing for the best, a bottle of wine materialised.
Alright – step one, accomplished.
Pouring a glass to take a break before attempting an actual recipe, Kathryn slowly made her way around her quarters and lit candles, humming along to the piano songs she ordered the computer to play.
Deciding she finally felt brave enough to try cooking, she praised her replicator again, pressing buttons carefully and slowly. It beeped its acknowledgement and she jumped, partially because she was focused and probably partially because of the wine. Letting the replicator work, she refilled her glass, and slowly sipped her wine as the replicator hummed through the process.
Her nerves already on edge, she nearly tripped when the computer announced an incoming transport; beautiful lilies appeared in the middle of the dinner table. She leaned over to smell them and rearrange a few just as her door chimed.
Beverly walked through, twirling in the doorway for Kathryn’s approval – approval which she gave wholeheartedly. Kathryn walked over and ran her hands up Beverly’s sides and over her shoulders. Gently, she pulled Beverly in for a quick kiss.
“You look stunning, my dear doctor, and I hope you’ve got an appetite!” Spinning away, she walked to the table, pulling Beverly by both hands stretched behind her. Halfway, she was yanked back against Beverly’s chest, back to the doctor. Beverly planted kisses down her neck as her hands meandered across the velvet over Kathryn’s stomach, and Kathryn hummed her approval.
However, the replicator beeped, and her eyes flew open. She tried to pry Beverly’s hands away, but they only went to even more distracting places.
“Beverly?” More kisses. “Mmm…wait no – Beverly!”
“What, my dear captain, could be more important than your favourite doctor?”
“Oh. Right.” As soon as Kathryn felt Beverly detach herself, and she quickly rushed to the replicator and complimented it profusely for actually producing their dinner.
Beverly sat, pouting in full force. “Are you sure dinner can’t wait?”
Kathryn laughed and turned back to the table, warily setting the dish down as though it might combust on the spot. “I’ve even programmed a dish my grandmother used to make on earth – vegetable biryani – and you want my efforts to just go to waste?”
At Beverly’s silence, Kathryn looked up. “What?”
“It sounds delicious…but um…I didn’t know you could cook?”
As Beverly continued to eye their dinner with nothing but suspicion, Kathryn burst out laughing again. “Just because I normally draw the line at coffee, doesn’t mean I don’t know how to cook for special occasions.”
Beverly broke the staring contest with the biryani to raise a sceptical eyebrow at the captain.
“Okay fine. I bribed the replicator at least twice, but Beverly…you know it hates me. It’s our last night in the Delta Quadrant…it’s special enough of an evening that it listened, for once.”
Beverly reached across and grabbed Kathryn’s hand, giving it a squeeze. “And it’s delicious – I’m so happy you and the replicator are finally on the same level!”
“Just in time to leave, naturally.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less.” Kathryn squeezed Beverly’s hand back and went back to her dinner.
The two ate in silence for a few minutes, each lost in nervous thought. Realising she wasn’t actually eating, Kathryn dropped her fork with a clatter and leaned back. “We launch tomorrow at 0800…are you ready?”
Beverly hesitated. “I…I worry about the shuttle. Chakotay and Harry are both excellent officers…but I worry about what could happen if turbulence gets too rough and one goes down – one person alone can’t manage that flight path. We can’t send the EMH because we could need him here…”
Kathryn sighed. “Beverly, if you want to go, you just have to ask the captain, and I hear she’s usually accommodating to her senior staff.” She leaned across and grabbed both the doctor’s hands. “If it will make you feel better, please go with them.”
“Are you sure? I didn’t want to leave you alone on the bridge.”
“I think I’ll be okay!” She grinned. “Just hurry back, okay? I want you here when we land my ship.”
“Aye, Captain.” Beverly hesitated again before continuing with a small grin. “I assume this means you’ve made your decision?”
“Mmm. You three will take the Flyer, and we’ll be right behind you. I’ve got to make an announcement…”
Beverly stood, kneeling in front of Kathryn. “Right now…or is there time for dessert?” Her hands slipped under the edge of Kathryn’s dress and gently massaged up her thighs.
“I was…going to make the announcement soon…but I can send a quick message to Chakotay…if you stop that for a moment. Goodness, Beverly, I can’t even think when you do that, let alone talk.” Beverly stood, running her hands slowly up Kathryn’s body and back down her arms to her hands, pulling her up.
Kathryn felt herself manoeuvred to back into the table, bent backward by Beverly’s kisses and by wandering hands pressing everywhere and anywhere. Again, she found herself trying to detach the doctor, but failing spectacularly. As Beverly’s kisses shifted to her neck, Kathryn shrugged and opened a line to Chakotay, hoping for the best. “Janeway to Chakotay.”
Beverly chuckled against Kathryn’s neck.
“Chakotay here, Captain.”
“We launch at 0800.” She paused and stifled a gasp as Beverly sucked over her pulse, and at the same time, moved dishes from behind Kathryn. “Please make an announcement to the crew.”
“Are you sure? There are so many variables…” He continued to talk over the comline but Kathryn wasn’t paying attention, instead trailing her hands over Beverly’s ribs to ghost over her breasts. Her massive grin at Beverly’s shiver was hidden in the crook of the doctor’s neck. Eventually, his voice cut through the haze in her brain.
“Hmm? Oh. This could be our only chance to use the Quantum Drive…” Lying back across the table, Kathryn wove her fingers in Beverly’s hair as the doctor started kissing down her body, shifting Kathryn’s dress out of the way as much as possible.
“True, Kathryn, but we both know if we showed this to any ‘Fleet engineer, they’d think we were out of our minds.”
He again kept talking, but she’d made her decision and really wanted to get on with the better part of the evening. “Long enough. We’ve waited long enough….are you with me?”
As Beverly knelt and began kissing up Kathryn’s legs, Kathryn hoped her breathiness didn’t translate over the com. “Good. I will see you at 0700 tomorrow in my ready room for last minute details. Good night, Commander.” Beverly pulled Kathryn’s panties off, flinging them somewhere behind her.
“Sounds good, Captain. Enjoy your night, Kathryn…Beverly. Chakotay out.”
As the comline clicked shut, Beverly chuckled once at Chakotay’s goodbye, and then licked through Kathryn’s folds. Kathryn’s head thudded against the table as her hands clenched through Beverly’s hair, and her moan echoed in the small room.
Kathryn pulled the blankets back onto the bed, and over the sleepy doctor. Snuggling close, she wrapped her arm around Beverly’s waist. “Beverly?”
She felt the doctor place a sleepy kiss on her forehead. “Yes?”
“When we get home tomorrow…if I can get out of meetings long enough, I want to go home and see my mother.”
“I think you should – she’ll be absolutely beyond happy to see you again, safe, sound, and home.”
Kathryn traced goosebumps across Beverly’s ribs. “I was hoping that you would come with me?”
With another sleepy kiss to her forehead, Kathryn felt Beverly respond. “Of course I will. I’ve been wanting to meet this woman since I met you – oh – and I want some brownies, too.”
Snuggling just a little closer, Kathryn buried her face in the doctor’s neck. “I wanted you to mee her…as my wife.”
She watched Beverly’s chest hitch, breath catching midway. “Kathryn…I…”
Hot tears burned her eyes. “I’m sorry – it was a dumb thing to say, and I shouldn’t have assumed that we were marr-” She was abruptly cut off as Beverly pulled her chin up to meet her for a deep gentle kiss.
“I would be absolutely honoured. Kathryn. It’s not on the record, but you’re wearing my ring and we’ve made our promises and our plans. You are my wife, my love.”
Kathryn’s tears overflowed as she kissed Beverly again and again, soft butterfly kisses when her words failed her.
After she’d settled back into Beverly’s arms, she felt the doctor sigh. She looked up to see a faraway look pass over her face. “Bev?”
“Mmm. I was just thinking – when we get back – do you think Admiral Paris would marry us, officially, before we even left the ship? I don’t want to take any chances, or waste any time. Last time we tried this, the whole damn ship was taken over before we had a chance to say ‘I do.’”
“Shhh. Don’t even say it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t jinx a thing. I will marry you, of course, if we can, but I’m not even going to think about it. I don’t have good luck in these cases and I don’t want to push our luck any more than we already are with this slipstream.”
Beverly laughed and hugged Kathryn closer. “Fair enough.” She kissed Kathryn’s forehead. “I love you.”
Smiling, Kathryn pressed a kiss over Beverly’s heart. “I love you.”
Harry finished his message and returned to help the doctors.
“What was that all about?” The EMH didn’t look up from Seven’s body as he inquired, but Beverly’s tired but curious eyes flickered up.
“Oh? Nothing. Letter to a friend. How’s it look?”
Noting that they were content to work without her, Beverly slipped back to the computer console. She pulled up the same commands Harry used, and adjusted a couple to piggyback this message, and address it to the captain; if Harry could send a message back in time, so could she.
I hope I don’t give you too much of a headache – this much time manipulation hurts even my head.
Peeking over her shoulder, she made sure the two men were engrossed in their work; overhearing Harry’s description of their homecoming, she blinked tears away before she started recording; their homecoming hadn’t been pleasant – rewards and galas only made the sting of their losses worse.
Not wanting to be away for too long, she gently touched her fingers to her lips, and to the screen, signing off. As she started to move away, her hand brushed across the controls, and Janeway’s final log started playing; apparently Harry had saved it and brought the file to the Flyer.
Captain’s log, Stardate 52143.6. With any luck, my next log entry will be made in the Alpha Quadrant…but should our luck run out, I’d like to day for the record that the crew of Voyager acted with distinction and valour.
She carefully touched the screen over Kathryn’s smile, happy to see it again even if just in a recording. As the shuttle came under fire, Beverly had to get back to work with Seven’s implant, but seeing Kathryn again, alive, added a new spark to her drive.
I’ll see you soon.
“You need to let go of my hand for me to board the shuttle.”
“Oh.” Kathryn blushed and dropped the doctor’s hand, stepping back. With a broad wave of her arm, she wordlessly invited Beverly to board.
Beverly gave a cheeky grin, saluted, and spun on her heel. Three strides later, she spun again. Reaching out, she took Kathryn’s face in her hands, and pulled her into a deep but quick kiss. Kissing her once more on the nose, Beverly turned back to the shuttle. Over her shoulder, she commented one last time. “Tell Admiral Paris to meet me on the bridge when we’re in the same quadrant for the wedding, and have your mother bring brownies to the party. I have quite the craving for them.”
Kathryn’s jaw dropped at her audacity; covering her shock, she spun back and growled for the attending dock crew to get back to work and close their mouths before space flies landed. Once the doors shut behind her on her way to the bridge, she finally grinned.
Captain's log, supplemental. Our slipstream flight may have been brief, but it took nearly ten years off our journey. I've given the order to dismantle the Quantum Drive until the technology can be perfected. Despite the setback, we have a renewed sense of momentum…it no longer seems a question of if we get home, but when.
Kathryn returned to her quarters after delivering Harry’s message to himself; she called for a glass of wine while she started removing her uniform. As her jacket hit the couch, she leaned over to unzip her boots when she was interrupted by the door chime.
Sighing, she stood up straight. “Come in.”
Harry practically fell through the doors, breathless. “Captain – there was another message after mine, addressed to you – I um…brought the whole computer when the file probably would have sufficed I’m sorry and I – ”
She cut him off with a wave of her hand. “It’s alright Mr. Kim. I can send you the file to your quarters when I’m done with mine – go get some rest, and appreciate that you still got us ten years closer to home, and your parents, okay?”
He nodded, suddenly aware he was in her quarters at night, and he’d clearly disturbed her. “I’m sorry for the intrusion, Captain, and good night.” He left in as much hurry as his arrival.
Dropping the computer to her coffee table, she sank back into the couch as it activated. As the elder Beverly appeared and began talking, Kathryn shot forward, hands over her mouth. Blinking back tears as the doctor continued, her breath caught as she absently noticed that Beverly was even more beautiful, but absolutely exhausted. The message ended and Kathryn got up, pacing across her quarters. She turned back and grabbed her jacket, nearly frantic in trying to turn it properly to locate the combadge.
“Janeway to Beverly.”
“Beverly, here, Kathryn. You sound odd – are you okay?”
“Not really – can you come to my quarters immediately?” Kathryn noted that small clatters and swishes of fabric came from the other end of the line – the doctor hadn’t even waiting for confirmation to start on her way.
“Don’t move – I’ll be there in two minutes tops…Doctor? I’m leaving – Kathryn needs me for an emergency of some kind – no not medical you’re fine here thank you. Kathryn? I’m on my way. Crusher out.”
Kathryn laughed at her doctor’s methods, but appreciated her expediency just the same.
True to her word, Beverly appeared at Kathryn’s door in less than two minutes. “Kathryn? What’s wrong? Is there something in the reports? I thought everything was okay?”
Not moving from her seat on the couch, Kathryn patted next to her. “I’m okay, I suppose, but I need you to watch this for me. I told you Harry had a message from himself today…but apparently there was one from you – er her, too, addressed to me.”
Beverly slowly lowered herself to sit, unnerved by the prospect. “Are you sure I should see this? It’s your message…”
“I need you to see it, Beverly.” She leaned forward and hit play, calling the older doctor back up. She felt Beverly’s sharp intake of breath at her own appearance.
“Kathryn? Oh good this is working. I have to be quick before the EMH grouches at me as he hasn’t gotten better with time – fifteen years ago, the slipsteam crashed for you, but not us. We made it back…but we had to live with not knowing where you were, and then we found you...all dead. If you get this, it means we saved you, and that’s enough for me to erase my existence to this point. Kathryn, I love you and I’ve always loved you. Please don’t make me wait until you get home to move forward with our lives. I’m saving you now so you can live everything I couldn’t, because you were here and frozen while I was carted from party to gala to party. Please don’t keep me on hold. I love you.” The elder doctor touched her fingertips to her mouth, and to the screen, one final goodbye before the transmission ended.
Kathryn turned slowly to see Beverly fuming, her hands clenched and her entire body tense. “Beverly?”
“She shouldn’t have said any of that – I know why we are living the way we are, and you know I respect that with everything I am, Kathryn.”
Kathryn reached for Beverly’s hands, and gently stroked them open to hold hers. “I know you do. She died a lonely woman, Bev, and I think I understand her pain.”
“It doesn’t matter. She was out of line.”
“Bev – it’s okay.” Leaning forward, Kathryn started placing kisses along Beverly’s jaw, coaxing her to turn her face and meet her with more kisses. Finding her non responsive, Kathryn gave up subtle and climbed into Beverly’s lap.
Beverly’s face went from angry to bemused as the captain settled herself. “I do hope I’m suitably comfortable for a seat, Captain?”
“I suppose so, if you’re done fuming.” Kathryn leaned forward, kissing any remaining anger away.
“I could be convinced, I think.”
“Good. Come with me.” She clambered off Beverly’s lap as quickly as she’d sat. At the doctor’s raised eyebrow, she rolled her eyes. “To bed, Beverly. Come with me to bed.” Spinning on her heels, Kathryn sauntered away, peeling layers of uniform off as she went. “Or don’t and I’ll come of my own accord. Take your pick.”
Beverly sat in shock until a bra landed in her lap; she jumped up, bolting after her captain, trapping her just inside the bedroom door and tossing her onto the bed.