Due to the flying capabilities of both Tom and Nog, the rescue mission went without a problem and the away team was safely back on board Voyager.
Chakotay walked into the sickbay and saw the doctor working on Michelle while Garak looked on.
Chakotay walked over to Garak, "What happened down there Garak?"
"Basically there was a group of 'rebels' who are not happy with the current government. They had decided to over throw the government at the same time that Voyager was in negotiation. The rebels blew open the door to the room where we were located. Michelle was hit in back by some metal. The first sign that something was wrong was when Lt Ayala came into the room to warn us, about 30 seconds before the explosion. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to keep her safe."
Chakotay placed his arm on Garak's shoulder, "Garak, you were the only person who realized something wasn't right. If you hadnt been there, the Captain might not even be alive."
Garak was silent for a moment, looking over to Michelle. In a low voice said, "I don't know what I would do if she doesn't pull through."
Chakotay put his hand on Garak's shoulder, "You're a good man Garak. Michelle is very lucky to have your friendship. As we all are. She will be fine."
"I hope so," replied Garak never taking his eyes from Michelle.
"You love her, don't you?" asked Chakotay.
"Yes I do," said Garak.
Apart from Michelle and her injuries, the rest of the away team was fine except for a few scratches and bruises.
Chakotay had remained in charge of Voyager while Michelle was recovering from her injuries. Kathryn had informed the crew of her true rank and while some members initially felt uncomfortable around her, within a couple of days things were back to normal.
Kathryn and Chakotay were informed that the Captain wished to see them both in her quarters to discuss the current status of Voyager. When they arrived, Michelle greeted them at the door and asked for them to sit down. Both Kathryn and Chakotay could tell that whatever Michelle wanted to discuss concerned her deeply.
Michelle looked at them both realizing that what she was about to tell them would effect both their professional and private lives. Her biggest hope was that Kathryn would be able to get past the Starfleet protocol. "Thank you for coming. After several discussions with the Doctor and a lot of reflection on my part, I can no longer serve as Voyagers Captain due to my medical condition."
"Michelle, what do you mean by your medical condition?" asked Kathryn, concerned for her friend.
"Due to the fact that I was moved a number of times while being held hostage, the severalty of my injury was increase to the point that the Doctor was unable to ensure that I would gain full movement of my legs. Apparently at one stage the doctor wasnt even sure that I would be able to walk without assistance from a walking stick but thankfully Voyager has the best Doctor in Starfleet and this was not the case," said Michelle.
"Maybe your lack of mobility is not as bad as you think, you should run a few simulations " said Chakotay.
"Ive already done this under the watchful eye of the Doctor and the critical eye of Tuvok. It was felt that my ability to command Voyager has been impaired and that it would be best for me to stand down as Captain," said Michelle. "Chakotay, you have done a wonderful job of commanding Voyager while I have been recovering but I must hand over the command of Voyager to Kathryn due to her higher rank. I hope that you can understand my decision."
"I do understand and its only fitting, considering that Voyager was to be Kathryns ship to begin with. I promise you that I will serve her as faithfully as I have done you," said Chakotay.
Michelle smiled knowing that she had crossed over the first hurdle. Michelle then looked at Kathryn to gauge her reaction to her decision. Michelle had noticed Kathryn had become the perfect Starfleet officer, no emotions showing. Kathryn, please dont do this to yourself, thought Michelle.
"Kathryn?" said Michelle.
"If you are certain about this, then I promise right now to make sure that this crew gets home like you have always planned," said Kathryn. She then turned to Chakotay. "Commander, I would very much like for you to continue as the first officer. You have served Captain Spencer and Voyager well and I have every confidence that you will continue to do so." Kathryn then turned back to Michelle, "Have you any ideas as to what you want to do?"
"As I matter of fact, I do. Tuvok has always been suggesting that a regular refresher course for the crew in battle simulations etc is needed to ensure Voyagers survival. The problem has been in the past, the lack of personnel to assign to this. I would like to do this and also work with the junior officers and prepare them for advancement and so on. And finally I wish to spend time with Kol and Naomi. They are two very bright children who show so much potential, I would very much like to be a mentor to them," said Michelle.
Chakotay leaned forward and took Michelles hands in his, "You already are."
"I would be more than happy for you to fulfill those roles, I couldnt think of anyone better," said Kathryn.
"Okay then, its agreed," said Michelle.
The crew was informed of the restructure of the command team and life on Voyager got back to normal for everyone except Kathryn and Chakotay. Due to the new command structure, Kathryn was avoiding Chakotay outside ship business and this was not only hurting Chakotay but also everyone else around them, especially Kol.
Michelle and Garak discussed the situation one night. It was decided that Michelle would talk to Kathryn and try to get her to see what she was throwing away. The next night Michelle found herself in Kathryns quarters, discussing the merits of Starfleet protocol and the current situation on Voyager.
"You know Kathryn, my life on Voyager has been the most rewarding and fulfilling I have ever had in Starfleet. I was the only Starfleet Captain in the Delta Quadrant and I had a mission to get my people back home. That was my life. Chakotay tried to convince me that I should have a personal life as well but I couldnt break away from what I was taught at the academy. I really thought that I was doing the right thing by everyone, being the Captain and thats it. But after the Kakadu arrived and I got to know and fall in love with Garak, I realized that I had in that short amount of time, become a much better Captain. It was because I was looking after Voyager, the crew and myself and not just Voyager and the crew. Kathryn you need to be complete otherwise you are just the shell of the person the crew grew to love," said Michelle.
"Michelle, I am complete as I need to be. I have my work, my friends and Kol," said Kathryn.
"Yes you do but you wont let the man who loves you, love you," said Michelle.
"I cant do that Michelle. You of all people should know why," said Kathryn.
"Yes I do. But I also know that Voyager may not reach the Alpha Quadrant anytime soon. Can you tell me that if it takes another ten years that this sacrifice that you are making at the moment is the right thing to do? Kathryn, not all of Starfleet regulations apply to Voyagers situation," said Michelle.
Kathryn got up and walked over to the window and looked out, remaining silent. Michelle realized that she wasnt going to get through to Kathryn that she could both be the Captain and love Chakotay so she decided to try a different tack.
"Kathryn, you never told me how you and Chakotay first met," said Michelle.
Kathryn told Michelle how she and Chakotay met at an official function and the way in which Chakotay broke through the brick wall which she had built around her emotions and enabled her to love again.
"I have a feeling that Chakotay would have been the only one who could have done it. I keep a journal and have done so since the 20th Century. After I arrived on Voyager, I came across a journal of mine that I wrote when I was engaged to Justin in the 20th Century. One entry that hit me when I reread it was about a fortuneteller that Justin and I met at the local 'Royal Show'. We both had our fortunes read. When she read my fortune she first said, You, my dear, will live a very special life. One that will effect many people, one that will save many people, now and in the future. The fortuneteller went on to say that there was a man in my life who was my soul mate and that I would be brought forward in time to be with him by the almighty. She also said that there be a lot of trouble and the paths of my soul mate and I would diverge but that we would be brought together again. It would be up to each of us as to whether it will be total happiness or total misery. At the time I didnt think much of it but now I know that she was talking about Chakotay."
Michelle was quiet for a moment, "That is a very powerful story, Kathryn. Thank you for sharing it. Look its getting late, so Id better go." Michelle moved towards the door that had opened, but turned around. "I have only one question, Kathryn. What do you want, happiness or misery?" With that Michelle left the room but not before she ran into Chakotay who said hello and then walked into Kathryns quarters wishing to discuss some ship business.
Kathryn hadnt seen Chakotay walk in, she was too caught up in what Michelle had asked her. "So what do you want Kathryn? Happiness or misery?" said Kathryn to herself.
"I want happiness and I know that I will only find it with you," said Chakotay who had heard what Kathryn said. "I know that it's going to be hard especially after what has happen. Not to mention the situation with the ranks and what with me being a wanted man, but I know we can do it," he said as he walked towards Kathryn.
Kathryn laughed, "Are you trying to talk me out of it?" She started walking towards Chakotay and said, "I also want happiness."
Their lips met in an enduring passionate kiss and they broke apart when they heard a "Yes!" from the little boy who was peeping around the corner.
"Kol what are you doing up? Its past your bedtime," said Chakotay.
"I know, but I just knew you were going to 'make up' and I just had to see it. Uncle Neelix and Uncle Garak are going to love hearing that you kissed," said Kol.
"Oh no you don't. Kol - you will not tell either Uncle Neelix or Uncle Garak about the fact that we kissed. Do you understand?" said Kathryn.
Kol nodded his head. "Okay then, back to bed" said Kathryn.
"Can I ask one more question?" said Kol. Kathryn nodded her head. "Uncle Chakotay, now that you and Mum are engaged again, can I call you Dad?"
"Why do you think that we're engaged?" said Kathryn.
"Because you still have the ring and you kissed," said Kol.
"I can't fault his logic. So how about it, will you, Kathryn Janeway, still marry me?" said Chakotay.
"I never expected to be proposed to like this," said Kathryn.
"If I remember correctly, I had proposed to you after a candle light dinner and everything else that makes for a romantic atmosphere. Besides the first proposal still stands. I'm just doing it in front of our son," said Chakotay.
With a smile on her face, Kathryn looked at Kol and Chakotay and said, "Yes." A yippee was heard from Kol, and Chakotays face beamed with happiness. "But we need to take things slowly. And that means, Kol, you are not to tell anyone. Do you understand?" said Kathryn.
"Yep! Well I better go to bed now. Nite Mum, Nite Dad," said Kol as he gave them both a hug and kiss. Just before he was out of the room Kol turned around with a grin on his face, "Oh, and Id love to have a little brother or sister one day really soon."
"Good night Kol" said both of them a little more forcefully than usual.
Chakotay looked at Kathryn and asked, "Do you still have the necklace that you use to wear the ring on?"
Kathryn picked up the box with the ring and took it out. As the ring came out, Chakotay saw that the necklace was still attached.
Chakotay took the ring and necklace from Kathryn and placed it around her neck and then kissed her again.
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