Categories: Ship, Het, Humor, Romance
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Q, Neelix
A/N: Written for Ripples in the Pond at Anne's Rose Garden. So what's different in this alternate universe?
Credits: Thank you to Brianna, MsBeast, and Anne Rose for the beta jobs.
Disclaimer: Hi again Paramount. Look over there for a second. *whistles*
Q appeared as suddenly as he always tended to appear. "Good morning, Kathy! No fights with the Borg today?"
"Haven't scheduled any." Kathryn had long since grown used to dealing with Q.
He feigned concern. "Won't you get a bit bored, then?"
"Oh, come now, Kathy! Don't put on a brave face for me. I know how you hate to be bored." Q snapped his fingers and a body length mirror appeared. "Step on through the looking glass, my dear, and see what your life could be like."
Kathryn snatched up a tricorder and aimed it at the mirror. She could see a reflection of her ready room, but not one of herself.
"Now where's the fun in that, Kathy? I thought you were an explorer." Q shoved her thorough.
Kathryn emerged into what appeared to be an exact duplicate of her ready room. The only difference seemed to be that another Kathryn Janeway, also wearing captain's pips, was already seated at the desk.
"May I help you?" the other Janeway asked, and reached for her tricorder. And, Kathryn was quite certain, her hidden phaser.
Kathryn glanced behind herself, but was not surprised to see that the mirror had disappeared. "Q sent me. He didn't really elaborate as to why."
There was the not to be unexpected trip to sickbay, and the DNA scan that verified her identity. The stardate was exactly the same here as it had been in her own universe. All of the important points in Voyager's history matched up perfectly.
"Something must be different," Kathryn said. "Or why would Q have sent me here..."
The other Janeway shrugged. "Why does Q do anything?"
"I have a theory," Kathryn said. "Perhaps you and I should talk privately."
The two captains retired to the resident Janeway's quarters.
"Are you and Chakotay lovers?" Kathryn asked.
"Certainly not," Janeway said. "Are you intimate with your Chakotay?"
"No, I'm not."
"Then why would you ask?"
"I guess I half expected that he and I - well, you - would be lovers here."
"Did you expect me to have different values? Different priorities? Our ships' histories are identical. Would that be true if one of us had thrown duty to the wind?"
"I thought maybe you had found a way to make it work," Kathryn said. "I thought maybe that's why Q sent me here."
"How would I have found a way to make it work, if you haven't?"
Kathryn shrugged. "Wishful thinking, I suppose."
"I know what you mean." The other Janeway fiddled with her combadge in an eerily familiar way. "I never realized how powerful love could be. I never understood all those people who let it alter their careers. Maybe they weren't all crazy."
"He's special," Kathryn said. "We don't deserve him."
"Probably not. Sometimes I wish he'd just move on. He deserves to be happy."
"I know what you mean. But just the thought of losing him...."
"...makes you feel like your heart's being torn out through your spine?" the other Janeway finished for her.
"We might lose him someday. Better to another woman than to one of the other possibilities. I can't imagine being out here without him beside me."
Both Janeways shuddered at the possibility. "I just wish I could tell him I loved him." They both said it, softly, and then stared at one another.
"Never said that out loud before?" Kathryn asked her counterpart, although she knew the answer.
"No, I haven't. How can something that hurts so much feel so good?"
"I was just going to ask how something that feels so good can hurt so much."
"Protocol," they both spat with equal bitterness.
"We haven't always obeyed Starfleet policy," Kathryn said. "Why do we let this one be our prison?"
"And his," her counterpart added. "It shouldn't be his."
Kathryn ran her fingers across the pips on her collar. "I worked hard to become a captain, and I'm good at it. I don't want to give it up, but that isn't really the question, is it?"
"If they take our commands away, it won't be for falling in love."
"The Maquis situation isn't exactly resolved, but do we really think that Starfleet's decision regarding fifty-odd people would really hinge on our sex lives?"
"I already send him into danger; I would already be losing the man that I love if, if the unthinkable happened."
"I couldn't promote him unfairly, even if I wanted to; he's already first officer."
"I already love him."
"He already loves me."
The two women shared a smile. "We're telling him, aren't we?"
They both expected Q to appear. When he didn't, they took a late night tour of the ship. They both had a regular route; routes which by some incredible coincidence were identical. They ended with the mess hall.
Kathryn had almost forgotten that she wasn't on her own Voyager. She was reminded of the fact when her counterpart ordered on the mess hall lights. "You've got curtains in here!"
Q deposited her back in the mess hall on her own Voyager, and Kathryn reached immediately for her combadge.
Chakotay's relief at hearing from her was palpable even over the comm system. "Is everything okay, Captain?"
"Not quite yet," she said. "I need to see you. Will you meet me in your quarters?"
He met her in the corridor outside his door. "Kathryn? It's been hours."
"I'm okay, Chakotay," she assured him. She followed him into his quarters. "Q was concerned that the boredom of a routine day might cause me ill effects."
"So I gathered from his note." Chakotay's attempt to keep the jealousy from his face wasn't particularly successful.
She noticed the crumpled note in his hand and took it. "Oh Chakotay, I didn't spend the day with Q. I'll tell you all about it, I promise. Tomorrow." She stepped closer to him. Her hand came to rest on his chest. "I have something I've been wanting to tell you."
"Today I had a very enlightening discussion, with someone very wise. We both came to the same conclusion. We decided - I decided - that I should tell you."
"Then maybe you should tell me."
"I love you."
He stared at her in shock, as she had expected he would, for almost an entire second. Then he pulled her into his arms and brought his lips down on hers, and she knew she had made the right decision.
"So, Kathy, when should Neelix expect those curtains?" Q asked, but he never got a response.
If there are an infinite number of parallel universes, some won't be too much different from the one we know. For more on that, see Max Tegmark's article in the May 2003 issue of Scientific American.
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, May 2003.