SYNOPSIS: What if Harry's encoded message wasn't the only message sent from the Delta Flyer in "Timeless"?

RATING: At least R, probably NC-17 for semi-graphic sexual situations.

DEDICATION: To my pond-mates at JetC8. See you in July!

THE USUAL: Except for Lt. Carroll, they're not mine, I'm only using them for my own shameless purposes. Some dialog excerpted from the episode is property of Paramount.

"A lifetime of not knowing where or how, or why or when
You think of me, or speak of me, or wonder what befell
The someone you once loved so long ago, so well.
Never want to feel as living shuffles by,
You don't have to ask me and I need not reply.
Every moment of my life from now until I die
I will think of you or dream of you or fail to understand
How a perfect love can be confined and out of hand.
Is it written in the stars,
Are we paying for some crime?
Is that all that we are good for
Just a stretch of mortal time?
Is this God's experiment
In which we have no say?
In which we're given paradise
But only for a day."

"Written In the Stars" by Elton John, 1999

===============================================

"A Stretch of Mortal Time" by Becca O.

Personal log, supplemental.

Kathryn Janeway leaned toward the console with concerned interest, her chin resting in her hands, cup of newly replicated coffee nearby, cooling and forgotten.

Kathryn, if you're seeing this, then it means that Harry and I have finally succeeded. Voyager is restored and the preceding 15 years wiped from existence. I know what you must think, after all, temporal matters were never your favorite. Chakotay's grin beamed at her from across time, at once familiar yet strange in its aged features.

"Oh Chakotay, what have you done?" she sighed, wiping a weary hand across her forehead. The previous days had been fraught with tension. First the thrill of success when the quantum slipstream technology had been declared ready for use and then the agonizing time that followed, resulting in their abandonment of the project altogether.

And now this.

In fascinated horror, she watched as the events of Voyager's once-doomed future played out on the screen in front of her. Tears falling silently from her chin, she listened as Chakotay chronicled his impassioned search for the lost Voyager; his terror at finding her lifeless, yet perfectly preserved body on the frozen bridge of the submerged starship. How he had missed her so much that no power in the universe would stop him from trying to right the wrongs of so many years past.

The countdown has begun, Kathryn. In a matter of seconds I'll be by your side once again. There are no words to tell you how that makes me feel. I only hope that we've been given this second chance for a purpose, and I can't - no, I WON'T believe that after all these years of searching for you that we're meant to be apart. Don't let my search be in vain, Kathryn. End log entry, Chakotay out.

The screen faded to black. Pressing her fingers to her lips, she stifled a cry that had it broken free, would have been impossible to quell. Replaying the message, she paused it midway, gazing softly at the face she knew so well, aged from the passing of time. Reaching out her fingers, she traced the contours of his face pausing only to brush longingly at the strands of gray that swept through his hair.

"Computer, what time is it?"

The time is 22:45 hours

Knowing what must be done, she rose with a renewed sense of purpose. "Computer, locate Commander Chakotay."

=============

Before searching out the commander, the captain had one other stop to make.

As the doors to the mess hall swished apart, she knew instantly that sleep would be a long time coming for Harry Kim. His agony over the failed mission was displayed on his face for all to see.

Gently, she explained to the disbelieving young man what had transpired.

"Wait a second. If I sent a message from the future and changed the past...then that future would no longer exist, right? So...how could I have sent the message in the first place? Am I making any sense?"

Rubbing her temples she smiled sympathetically. "My advice in making sense of temporal paradoxes is simple: don't even try. To me...all that matters is that somewhere, somehow...sometime, you come through for us." Handing him a tricorder she continued, "Well, if you won't take it from me--take it from you. Seven found a log entry encoded into the telemetry. From Harry Kim...to Harry Kim."

Patting him on the back, she rose to leave knowing that Harry must be left to his own thoughts if he was to come to terms with his actions.

=====================

The bridge crew snapped to attention, caught off guard by their captain's late night visit.

"At ease. I'm looking for the Commander."

"He's gone to his quarters, Captain. He said we were to call him there if we needed him."

"Thank you, Lieutenant Carroll. As you were."

=====================

"Come in," Chakotay called.

Kathryn entered his quarters, stopping short as he emerged from the back toweling his dampened hair.

"I'm sorry, it's late. I should have called first. Or waited till morning."

She turned to leave, but was halted by a firm hand on her arm.

"It's all right. You're here now, what's wrong?" Sensing the imminent denial, he continued. "Don't tell me 'nothing', I can see it in your eyes."

"It's hard to explain."

"Try." It had been a very long time since he had seen Kathryn this unsure of herself and it worried him.

"Maybe I should just show you." At his raised eyebrow, she held out the her tricorder, which contained his encoded message. "You should sit down."

"What's this all about?"

Taking his hand, she pulled him to the sofa. Inserting the tricorder into the viewer, she sat back, watching his face as he heard his own words echo through time.

Once again she heard his impassioned plea, once again she failed to stop the tears from falling.

The countdown has begun, Kathryn. In a matter of seconds I'll be by your side once again. There are no words to tell you how that makes me feel. I only hope that we've been given this second chance for a purpose, and I can't - no, I WON'T believe that after all these years of searching for you that we're meant to be apart. Don't let my search be in vain, Kathryn. End log entry, Chakotay out.

The silence in the room was overpowering.

Then a sound resembling a soft sob escaped from Chakotay's soul, freeing Kathryn to give in at last to the tears that had been held in check for hours.

"Is this true?" She found her voice at last, albeit raspy from the emotions running rampant in her heart. "Or is it just another reality? One that never really happened?"

"Gods, Kathryn, you're even confusing me." Chuckling softly, he pulled her close, tucking her head against his shoulder.

"What's wrong with us, Chakotay? Are we so dysfunctional that we can only admit our feelings when faced with impending disaster?"

"The only 'impending disaster' I can see would be living without you, like the 'me' you just received a message from. Kathryn, if we can't learn from history, even a re- written history, then what's the purpose in living?"

Sitting upright, he turned to face her. "I love you, and I have for a very long time. I know that's not news to you, but I also know that living with this space between us isn't enough. Not anymore. I need you in my life. I need you in my bed. Or in your bed."

Kathryn laughed. "How nice of you to be so flexible."

Bending his head to hers, her grasped her face in his hands, wiping the moisture from her eyes with his thumbs. "I can be very flexible..." he whispered as his mouth met hers in a kiss that rocked their souls.

Chakotay wove his fingers through her hair, holding her head in place as he deepened the kiss, pulling her body over his own as they tumbled backward.

Instinctively, Kathryn rocked her hips against his lower body. The hardness she encountered made her tingle in anticipation.

"So long," she whispered in between breathless kisses. "It's been so long."

Cupping his hands around her bottom, Chakotay pulled her closer, pressing up against her in a futile effort to join with her. Pushing her up and away, reaching for the front zipper of her uniform, he slowly lowered the tab exposing the tight, regulation-gray t-shirt that all the crew wore. Somehow, it looked much better on Kathryn.

Her breasts were taut beneath the fabric, nipples straining for release as his hands closed over their softness.

The touch was almost more than she could bear. Throwing her head back in ecstasy, she cried out as Chakotay's thumbs began brushing gently over the turgid peaks.

The sound very nearly caused him to lose control. Of its own accord, his erection leapt against her. Tugging at her tunic in frustration, he heard her laugh. Damn her! She was enjoying his discomfort.

Finally her arms were free of the sleeves and she grasped the hem of the undershirt, pulling it slowly over her head. Her breasts were free of their confinement and perfect ... oh so perfect.

"Beautiful. Kathryn, you're so beautiful."

The reverence in his voice was stunning. Closing her eyes against the stinging moisture that was gathering, she was thrown slightly off-balance as he sat up, lips finding one breast and laving it with his tongue. Reaching between them, he pressed his hand over her mound and was rewarded with a rush of heated moisture.

"Now, Chakotay," she breathed heavily. "I need you now."

Struggling to their feet, each assisted the other in discarding their remaining clothes. All barriers finally removed, they stood, their eyes locked in silent admiration. Almost shyly, Kathryn reached for him, taking him in hand. Stroking firmly, she began to kiss his neck ... his shoulders ... his chest .... When she would drop to her knees to worship him with her mouth, he halted her with a groan.

"Not this time. I'd never last." Kissing her soundly, he gently lowered her to the sofa. "Make love with me, Kathryn."

Cradling him between her thighs she whispered, "Please, now."

The only sounds in the commander's cabin were the soft sounds of their joining; the gentle brush of skin against skin as he entered and withdrew from her time and again. All too soon the steady, rhythmic pace gave way to quickened, frenzied thrusts as their climax neared.

"Kath--" the strangled plea was incomplete; the effort to hold himself in check was becoming a losing battle.

"Soon ... soon ..." came the whispered reply, her body tensing in anticipation.

Rising on one elbow, Chakotay reached a hand in between their sweat-slicked bodies; his thumb pressing firmly against the very spot where they were joined. The forward motion of his hips served to increase the friction until with one final push, Kathryn shattered in his arms, her body pulsing around his. Crying out her name, he spilled himself into her, collapsing onto her shoulder.

---------------------------

They made love again and again, far into the early morning hours as if to make up for lost time or perhaps to store away memories "just in case".

As the ship began the transformation into 'day', Chakotay spoke.

"It can't end here, Kathryn. I can't go back to being just your friend."

"Chakotay, you were never just my 'friend'. I think deep inside I've always known that. It took a glimpse into the future to make me see what I'd be missing if I didn't grasp every bit of living that comes my way."

"But protocol--"

"You know, I've become quite sick of that word. Protocol is for the Bridge. After hours, we make up our own rules. Is that clear?"

"Aye, Captain," he responded with a grin. "I told you I can be flexible."


FINI
4-22-99



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