All Roads Lead

By Diane

Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager and its characters are property of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.



Once the doors of her quarters closed behind her, Kathryn Janeway reached for the fastening of her uniform top and peeled it off. Bone weary as she was, she placed it over the back of the chair at her desk, knowing she'd be glad she had done so in the morning.

Her only thoughts from the bridge to her quarters had been of bed, but when her eyes fell on the replicator, thoughts of warm rich coffee replaced them. She swithered about replicating one, but she was so tired she was sure one cup wouldn't make any difference. It was too much of a temptation, so she made her way to the replicator. "Coffee, black," she ordered. Within seconds, a mug of steaming hot coffee was before her, its aroma wafting up to make her mouth water.

As a yawn escaped, one hand automatically covered her mouth while the other reached for the cup. Closing her eyes, she raised it to her mouth and took a long welcome sip. She sighed in pleasure, relaxing immediately, feeling the difficulties of the day begin to fade away.

Though she remembered she had promised herself she would go straight to bed, the sudden urge to lie back on a chair and simply watch the stars streak by was too great. She crossed the room and sat down facing the view port, kicked off her boots, and wriggled her toes in an effort to free them.

'What a day,' Kathryn thought. She hadn't been fighting off alien ships, or negotiating for hours on end for supplies, or even carrying out repairs on Voyager. Instead, she had spent the entire day sitting behind her desk, reading and re-reading reports, reports that had somehow managed to appear within a few short hours of one another. There had still been a few remaining by the time she had finished her duty shift for the day.

She groaned to herself, but couldn't contain a chuckle as she remembered some of the reports that she had literally ploughed through. She promised herself there and then to speak to Tuvok and Neelix about any future reports they made. They would really have to try and be a little more concise.

Lying back, Kathryn closed her eyes, letting her mind sink into oblivion. She took advantage of having nothing to think about, no life threatening decisions to make or options to weigh. Those moments were rare, though she had to admit to herself that they had become that little bit more common lately.

Kathryn managed to keep her mind clear for several minutes, but it could never stay unoccupied for long. She was too used to having it filled with a million and one things at any one time. Her thoughts soon began to wander, choosing a path of their own. And they wandered along the path they had so often of late. Maybe, she thought to herself, it was with everything that had happened lately.

Every time they would begin with how she and the rest of the crew had been swept to the delta quadrant and stranded there, nothing completely new; but then she would begin thinking of all the little incidents that would have to have happened to bring them here, right to this very moment.

All the roads she could have taken, or that others who had affected her life could have taken. All the decisions she had made, all the decisions that she hadn't made. There were so many options that it had made her wonder; what exactly could her life have been like under any other circumstances?

It was these thoughts that had finally led her to one conclusion in particular, and one that she only recently found she could admit. All those paths, all those roads, had led her to him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was only when Kathryn tried to take another sip of her drink that she realised that the cup she held was empty. For a moment she contemplated the wonderful idea of a never-ending cup of coffee. 'Kathryn,' she chuckled to herself, 'When thoughts like these enter your head it is definitely time for bed.'

Not wanting to fall asleep on the chair and wake up with a stiff neck, Kathryn got up and crossed to the replicator. Once she had placed the coffee cup back inside, she headed for the bedroom, taking the pips from her collar before pulling her tank top over her head as she went.

Quickly, she got ready for bed, finally changing into something comfortable. Exhausted, she pulled back the covers and crawled under them, thankful that the day was finally over and she could get some sleep. Before she could completely sink into the softness of the mattress though, she raised her head and quickly changed her pillow for the one on the other side of the bed. More relaxed now, she settled down.

But tired as she was, her mind was still too active to let her fall asleep. Again, her thoughts wandered along the different roads in her life that had led her to him. Not just the road that had brought two crews to the delta quadrant, or the road that had led these crews to merge into one. This time she thought of the roads they had travelled together, that had allowed them to get to know one another in their personal as well as professional lives.

His dedication to duty, no matter what was involved, always following her and trusting in her completely. She recalled all the times he had expressed deep concern for her safety, unable to hide his worry whenever she placed herself in danger.

She thought of all the opportunities there had been to learn about him, his likes and dislikes, about his beliefs and opinions. About his feelings and attitudes towards a host of things. Working dinners that had gradually grown more intimate and off duty time spent together in the holodeck or in their quarters. All the public appearances at ship functions they had taken advantage of, in order to spend just a little more time with each other. Both had gotten to know each other so well, and even his annoying habit of keeping track of the number of cups of coffee she had consumed secretly pleased her.

She closed her eyes and let the emotions these memories stirred wash over her, trying not to think of all the years that had been wasted. They were too painful and she didn't want to think of them right now.

She quickly pushed those thoughts to the side and tried to bring back the more pleasant ones. The roads which had allowed them to get to know one another, gave them the chance to grow closer to one other; the roads that had led her to Chakotay.

*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kathryn was so relaxed she wasn't bothered that she hadn't yet fallen asleep. Simply lying in bed like this was a luxury in itself. Turning on her side, snuggling deeper into the bed, her eyes suddenly caught sight of the bundle on the chair near the bed, and she smiled as her eyes drifted shut.

The bundle brought back more memories of times they had spent together, both past and recent. In her mind, memories and pictures seemed to coalesce into one, as moments were remembered then quickly replaced with another that was just as pleasant. All memories were filled with the image of this man, of his black hair and dark brown eyes, eyes that seemed able to read every thought that crossed her mind. Her smile grew wider as she realised that was precisely why she had finished her duty shift when she did. Those eyes had known she was tired and was in need of rest. If he hadn't been there, no doubt she would have worked until well into the next shift.

Her mind continued on that path, recalling his softly spoken words to her, as well as all the little tactics he had used to persuade her to stop where she was. Her memory brought up the image of the surprised smile that had spread across his face when she relented, a smile that had brought out his dimples. She recalled every mannerism and body movement that were unique to him, ones that she would recognise anywhere. This time, he had stood with his hands behind his back, a very Starfleet position, all the while leaning towards her, almost unconsciously closing the gap between them.

She didn't know when she had begun to pick up these subtleties of his, but she was sure they were meant only for her. Even if no one else ever noticed, she certainly did every time. With those pleasant thoughts on the verge of filling her dreams, she drifted closer and closer to sleep.

What seemed like moments later, but could well have been hours, she was roused by faint noises that floated in from the other room. Staying where she was, unwilling to open her eyes, she waited, listening as the noises drew closer. Moments later, the covers behind her were pulled back, and she shivered slightly as the cold air met her skin.

When a warm, familiar body replaced the cold air, she turned instinctively and snuggled as close as possible. She sighed as arms surrounded her, pulling her into their embrace, and a mouth lowered to kiss her gently before settling beside her.

"Goodnight Kathryn."

"Goodnight Chakotay," Kathryn replied. "Thank you for finishing the reports," she mumbled, now only seconds away from being pulled once again into a peaceful sleep.

"You're welcome. Now shhh."

With that, they fell into unconsciousness together. Kathryn's last fleeting thought was of the road that had consumed her earlier thoughts, of the one road she was infinitely glad she had travelled. The road that had led her to love.


The End



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