The Best of Both Girls
A Captain Janeway Adventure
by Jim Wright
Kathryn Janeway awoke to an unfamiliar sensation. Her eyes still closed, it took her a moment to remember the sensation: the sun was shining on her face. She moaned softly, reveling in the long-forgotten luxury.
When she finally opened her eyes, Chakotay's face was the first thing she saw. "What time is it?" She asked.
Chakotay's smile was enhanced by the twinkle in his eyes. "Friday."
Janeway bolted upright. "Friday? But our homecoming celebration was set for--"
"They postponed it, Kathryn. Don't worry. It wouldn't be a homecoming without the Captain who got us back."
Janeway's eyes half-closed as the compliment warmed her as much as the Indiana sunshine. Her smile was pure bliss. "We are home, aren't we? It's not a dream. Not some alien mind control. Not--"
It took Janeway a moment to realize that something was different. "I--they're gone. The Collective--gone! Chakotay, what happened? I don't remember anything after the restaurant."
Chakotay frowned. "Wouldn't you like some breakfast first?"
Janeway made a face. "I think I'll be full for the next year from my last meal. Admiral Paris may never offer to pick up another check!"
Chakotay snorted. "You don't know the half of it. Your bar tab alone ate up most of the budget for Voyager's overhaul." Janeway punched him in the arm playfully, then collapsed into giggles, her laughter joined by Chakotay's soft, deep chortles.
"Where am I, anyway?"
"Don't you recognize your old room?"
"My old--you know something, I didn't!" Janeway looked around, and sighed. "It's been too long since I was here last."
Janeway lifted her knees under the sheets; she rested her hands and head on them, hugging herself tightly. "Too long, Chakotay," she said again, sadly.
Chakotay put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed. "You're here now. Your mother and sister are waiting for you downstairs. They've been worried about you. Should I let them know you're up?"
"My mother and sister were never that noisy, Chakotay."
"Half the town is here too." Chakotay winked.
"Auggh!" Flinging herself back in the bed, Janeway covered her face with the sheets. "Make them go away. That's an order."
Does the word mutiny mean anything to you? Chakotay almost said with his dry delivery. He was glad he hadn't--after the Borg insurrection, there would be no humor in a comment like that. "I'll do what I can," he said instead. "What about your mother and sister?"
Janeway peeked out from the sheets and pouted. "Only if they bring coffee," she said.
Chakotay grinned. "They've been grinding it all morning. I almost hate to tell you, but you've been declared the Queen of the Starbucks colonies. Your Voyager logs are already running as commercials in half the sector!"
Genuinely horrified, Janeway reached for her pillow and screamed into it. "Is it too late to go back to the Delta Quadrant?"
Chakotay smiled--oh, what a smile! "I'm afraid so." Chakotay rose. "It's good to have you back, Kathryn." His eyes locked onto hers to drive the words home…then he was gone.
Kathryn Janeway swept the room with her eyes. She saw the plaques, the awards, the trophies for tennis--and the obscenities she once proudly called sculpture. She had never seen anything so wonderful. She glanced at the photos of her parents, her sister.
It all seemed too much to process. She once held the very galaxy in her grasp--now she had trouble thinking about getting out of bed. She felt so small…
"This can't be happening. It can't all be over…."
It was rhetorical.
But someone answered.
"It doesn't have to be, mon chere."
"At your service, Kathy." A bright flash filled the room--and in its wake stood Q, smirking in that aggravating way of his.
Janeway's temper flared. "You! You're responsible, aren't you? What have you done!!!"
Q smiled that infuriatingly disarming smile. "Moi? Nothing! On my honor as a god, I had nothing to do with any of this. But, o! it was marvelously entertaining! You were magnificent!"
"Entertaining? Q, do you know what I've been through the past two months? Do you know what this past WEEK has been like? Billions of people are DEAD because of me!"
"Nonsense!" Q chided. "They're dead because that's what you mortals do! Some merely have the sense to do it sooner than others." Q leaned in close, whispering in sotto voice, "and you must admit, Kathy--a drone's life isn't much to write home about. You did them a favor."
Janeway fixed a searing glare of death in Q's direction. Q clutched his chest, mortally wounded, and burst into flames.
But soon he was back--dressed in his favorite affectation, a Starfleet Captain's uniform. Tsk-tsk, he said. "Temper, temper."
"That's cold-blooded--even for you, Q."
"Perhaps--but it's no less true for it." Q circled Janeway's bed like a seasoned predator. "You should know, Kathy; for a time, you saw wonders of the galaxy that few mortals will ever experience. You expanded your consciousness to fill the known universe! You saw stars born and stars die. You saw planets stripped of life by natural causes--and saw the first stirrings of the next wave of existence in its wake."
Janeway's mind drifted, remembering.
Q gently cupped her chin in his hand and turned her face to his. "You assimilated--and you freed from the shackles of constrained cohabitation. You saved lives…and when you had to, you destroyed--on a grand, glorious scale." Janeway did not share Q's enthusiasm for that. She would bear that burden the rest of her life. But if Q judged her, he didn't judge her harshly--quite the reverse.
Q leered. "You even used the Collective for your little games, didn't you? Allowing Will Riker the chance to impress an old girlfriend. Bravo!"
Q leaned in close. Their cheeks brushed. The warmth of the man was overpowering. Whispering in her ear like a confident lover, Q cooed, "You, my dear Kathryn, were far more like a Q than you may care to admit. I was impressed. My bride is jealous."
Janeway stared, unable to speak. She hadn't been awake long enough to grasp the concept. "You're joking," she rasped at last.
"Not at all, my dear. For a glorious moment, you held the galaxy in your hands, but the galaxy is like fine sand. You can't possibly expect to hold onto it all without losing even a single grain! But you tried--and I love you for it. It's that boundless human compassion of yours that one day may allow your insignificant species to rival even the Continuum."
Janeway stared dumbly back, her mind reeling. "But not yet."
Q smiled with more kindness than he would ever admit to. "One step at a time, mon chere. You're already farther along than my dear capitaine Jean Luc--you learned the lesson without my help. Humanity's potential is staggering--but the only way to reach it is by letting go of what you know, and reaching into the unknown. It's easy to master what you do know--but it's so limiting if you stop there."
Q floated away from the captain and toward the window. "The paths of existence are infinite--as long as you never run out of questions. Don't be afraid to let go and step into the unknown."
With a wink, Q was gone. And with him, a tremendous weight from Kathryn Janeway's shoulders.
But not all of it.
Everyone's telling me to let go. I'm a captain--holding on is what I do. What do they know?
Janeway laughed. That's the question, isn't it?
Thank you, Q. She heard his answer in her mind--any time, mon chere.
Janeway heard the stampede coming up the stairs. For the first time in years, Kathryn Janeway had no idea what to do next.
And for the first time in years, she didn't mind that one bit.
Copyright © 1997-1999 Jim Wright
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