Title: Choose Life Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 2/19 Rating: PG Codes: J, J/C, AU Summary: Resolutions done right. An AU based on the episode "Resolutions". Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha!
The dim lighting of the room revealed an odd mish-mash of Starfleet survival gear, personal mementoes and rough-hewn wood furniture. The smell of a home-cooked meal still lingered in the air, and the silence of a pristine planet would have contrasted sharply with the eternal hum of a starship, if Kathryn Janeway had not already begun to forget the sights and sounds of space travel. The only sound here was Chakotay's voice, deep into yet another story.
When he finished it, she asked, "Is that really an ancient legend?"
"No. But that made it easier to tell you," he answered.
In the two years she'd known him, Janeway had never quite gotten the trick of conversing with Chakotay. He had this circuitous way of saying things - they got said, but you couldn't pin them on him afterwards because he'd couched them in some metaphor or story. How could she argue with a story?
She could only mull his words over until she agreed with them, or ignore them and go her own way. Now that he was the proverbial last man on Earth, ignoring him was not the viable option it had been aboard Voyager. She would finally have to learn to speak Maquis, or else she would lose too many arguments.
The first plasma storm distracted her from her linguistic project. When her scientific equipment was destroyed, Kathryn had only one hope left of rejoining Voyager - Tuvok. Chakotay seemed to sense it, though she hardly admitted it to herself. He set about squashing her last hope.
"Tuvok's not coming back for us, Kathryn," he said over breakfast one morning.
"Of course not," she demurred, "he has his orders."
"Even if he found the cure, he wouldn't turn around to bring it to us."
She had to argue that one. "Tuvok is my friend."
"I thought so myself, once upon a time. Logic cuts both ways."
There it was again - his Maquis method of argument. If Tuvok betrayed Chakotay, Tuvok could betray Janeway as well. Hadn't he already, on Sikaris? Unable to do battle with metaphors, she changed her tack; "You're right. It wouldn't be logical to return for us. 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...'"
"'Or the two'," he finished her quotation. "If there's any way he can lead the crew without us, he'll do it. It would take a mutiny to turn him around."
In that case, she could only hope never to see Voyager again. "Well, you did leave about forty Maquis on his hands," she joked, but her voice betrayed her. Tuvok was not coming back.
He kissed her, and never brought up the topic again. So their life together on New Earth began.
Weeks stretched into months; Chakotay built that log cabin, they sailed down the river in that boat, Kathryn became a capable farmer and read Victorian novels by firelight in the evenings.
The farming was the hardest part. Of course they needed to save replicator energy, but plowing and sowing seemed so...primitive in comparison to her life as a scientist and starship captain. At first she considered it an unpleasant necessity, like those PADDs full of reports she'd filled out over the years - even here in the Delta Quadrant, where there had been no one to report to.
Yet when the first green shoots forced their way out of the ground, she was far more excited than after a day of PADD-punching. She dragged Chakotay out to the field to see them.
In fact, she dragged him out there every day to check on the progress of her crop. Kathryn examined the shoots carefully for insects, but the local flora and fauna seemed determined to ignore this Earthly incursion. The only remaining danger was the plasma storms, which appeared to be seasonal.
The sky was certainly clear on the day Chakotay said, "Let's get married." They were relaxing under a tree after the crop inspection. Perhaps he hoped the flicker of sunlight on the leaves would hypnotize her into saying yes.
Kathryn laughed. "Do you think we're corrupting the monkey?" she asked.
He didn't laugh. "We're civilized human beings. We should get married."
"Well, you are the last man on earth," she teased him. "Shall the monkey officiate?"
He seemed unmoved by her flippant attitude - perhaps he was willing to take 'I do' any way he could get it.
"We can begin a civil registry," he elaborated.
"You're serious about this."
"Yes I am."
Kathryn got up and walked back to the cabin. She heard him start after her, but then stop, following no farther.
Ten minutes later, she called his name. He showed up unusually quickly at the cabin door.
"What have you got there?" he asked from the doorway as his eyes adjusted to the dim interior light.
She closed the cover of the oversized book she'd just replicated and showed him the title: Civil Registry, New Earth Colony, 2373 - ____. On the first page she had already written the date and 'marriage'. She signed her name, then handed him the pen. He signed. Noticing that there were two columns for witnesses, he filled those in as well - she watched as he wrote 'heaven' and 'earth'.
As the months passed, Kathryn forgot Starfleet and Voyager. Though she'd expected to be bored senseless after so much time on one planet, she found instead that the free time was the greatest benefit of her new life. All those books she'd never had time to read, all those scientific theories she hadn't had time to investigate, were waiting for her in the Federation database.
It no longer surprised her that many of those books and theories had come out of peaceful colony worlds like this one. She even began to appreciate the Maquis determination to defend their homes, rather than move back to the more civilized homeworlds or start over on a new colony located in an undisputed part of space. This was *her* world; who else knew the pattern of its stars, the scent of its autumn evenings, and the tingling of its plasma storms in the air?
She'd thought she understood her particular Maquis' poetic language, until one day, four months after their impromptu marriage, he said he wanted to talk.
"There's another woman, isn't there?" she said, grinning, as they walked among the stalks of corn - her first crop was ripening well.
"There could be."
Kathryn raised an eyebrow.
"I want to have children," he revealed solemnly.
She glared at him as she said, "That's impossible."
"How so?" he asked.
"They would be infected, like us. They could never leave here. What kind of life would that be?" She spoke hurriedly, pulling down an ear of corn unconsciously and shucking it in her anger.
"I thought you were happy here."
"I am, but I have you. They could never marry."
"They might be immune. You might find a cure, with their help. Someone else could get stuck here with us. Anything can happen in life," he said calmly.
"The odds would be against them." But then the odds had always been against Voyager. She had to believe her old ship still sailed between the stars.
"Life is always a gamble, Kathryn."
She stalked home and spent a few hours in the cabin with a tricorder, fuming and testing her corn six ways to Sunday.
The argument went on for weeks. Kathryn spoke of the joys of romance, of society, of space exploration. Chakotay praised nature and family and starlight. One day, as they were walking to the river, she made the mistake of trying to bring the discussion to a final conclusion:
"I can't do it, Chakotay," she said. "I can't have children in a place like this, just for our own selfish purposes." The trees, fields and nimbus clouds around them put her to the lie - it was not such a bad place, after all.
"It's not selfish at all, Kathryn. Any benefit to us is purely incidental."
For the first time, she worried that she was going to lose this argument. If he explained, she would end up agreeing with him, though she couldn't yet guess what particular logic lent such certainty to his words.
He might have let her get away, but her curiosity got the better of her and she nodded to him to continue.
"Existence is always better than non-existence - even a few moments' existence, even a planet-bound, solitary life, no matter the handicap, suffering or challenges. Life is the greatest gift you can give - with it, you give the entire universe to your children."
"Do you ever wonder," she asked him out of the blue five months later, "whether we're even sick anymore?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, it could all have been a...malfunction. Maybe Seska got to the EMH and reprogrammed him. Maybe Tuvok..." Kathryn's voice trailed off.
He didn't protest the extravagance of her theory; instead, he seemed to take it even more seriously than she did herself.
"Well, there's an easy way to find out. We can take the shuttle up and see how far we get - I'll set it to land on autopilot if we pass out."
"No. We can't risk it."
"I'm sure we can get back down to the surface before anything serious happens."
"It'll have to remain a mystery, Chakotay. We'd probably be all right, but I can't risk the baby."
Six months later, Koti was born. After her was Owen, and now, after almost five years on New Earth, Kathryn was seven months pregnant with their third child. She puttered around the cabin slowly - the wheat was in the bins, and the corn in the fields. She looked out the window into the tomato garden...