So this is death? Damn. There goes that theory out an airlock. I truly thought there was nothing after we died. Well, except on those few occasions when I faced death or my crew was at risk. There was a prayer then all right. Just in case, you understand. You know the one. 'God, get us out of this one, and I'll never bother you again'. What's that old saying? There's no such thing as an atheist on a battlefield.
So here I am, although quite where 'here' is, I haven't a damn clue. No, wait. I thought of Indiana for just a moment and here I am, standing outside my childhood home. Maybe I'm dreaming or imagining this, but I don't think so. This feels too real.
Oh, this could be interesting. I could have some fun with this. Q for a day? Oh, but this after-death thing is supposed to be for eternity, isn't it? Hope they have a cure for boredom here. Floating about for all eternity isn't my idea of bliss. Guess we'll see how it goes.
Oh, I know what you're asking. OK. OK. Keep our hair on. I'll get there. After all, I'm not in any hurry.
So – how did I end up here? Well, I played God. I meddled with time and history because I wanted to turn the clock back. I wanted a second chance to undo the screw-up I made. Well, it's as good a reason as any, isn't it? Oh, not for myself. That would have been impossible, even for me. For her though…my 'other self'. Generous, aren't I? Bullshit. It wasn't so much for her as against the other HER.
I'll explain, but first I need to tell you about myself.
I'm the great, the legendary Admiral Janeway. I'm the one they all say they admire, but secretly pity. I'm the one who has the poker stuck up her ass according to one first year cadet I overheard. His face when he turned and saw that I'd overheard him was worth the insult though. I never lost that Janeway glare. He dropped out of my class the next day. No loss.
All those years after our return… Reunions with only half a family. Explaining to 'children' in a classroom what they could never understand. My oldest friend descended into madness. Uniforms changed to be more comfortable and yet aesthetically pleasing. My ass. Well, that's where it was usually digging into. They even re-designed our damn comm badges. Change for changes sake. Even the food didn't taste the same.
And then there was HER. There was always HER. And SHE was with HIM. Oh, you know who I'm talking about.
You see, in my timeline, I'd reached a stage in my life where I could say any Goddamn thing I wanted, and people listened. From the media, to their audience, to top admirals. Most importantly though, I finally listened to myself…and I didn't like what I heard.
So I found a way to change it all. Not for me, but for them, for her, my other self. So with the help of the Doctor and Reg, even Korath in his own way, I went back and changed it. Even poor Harry reluctantly helped me. All these years and he still hasn't learned he can't change my mind.
Oh, don't ask me to explain all that temporal bullshit. I don't know if you can get headaches in the after-life, but I'm not risking it.
I told Harry 'our family is not complete anymore'. I really meant that I wasn't complete without HIM.
And HER. Yes, she was like a daughter to me. I certainly loved her as such. But I hadn't lost HIM to HER then.
Oh, I've had a lot of lonely years to become this bitter…bitter and twisted, some would say, but they're not in my heart.
Harry again. Dear Harry, who innocently said 'it's not the destination…it's the journey'. Well, not for me. My journey was loveless and lonely. My destination was what became important.
So I changed it all. Very clever the way I did it, if I say so myself. And why did I do it? Why sacrifice myself? There were many reasons, but in the end, only one. I can repeat about half the family being missing, Tuvok's illness and all that, but in the end… The 'many' I use simply justifies the 'one'.
Of course when I got back to Voyager, their Voyager, I lied. Well, no. I 'omitted' certain facts. I told her, my younger self, about our old friend's illness, and I told her about the losses to the crew. I did not tell her about HER and HIM. Oh no. You see, I know her and how she'd have sacrificed her own happiness for HIS. We're that stupid when we're young. So I… OK. OK. I lied. So what.
Seeing them all again. It almost broke my resolve. I hardened myself though. I've gotten even better at that over the years. So I lied to her. I even hinted strongly to HIM not to give up on her…just as I told her not to wait too long. I set things in motion and alienated HER.
So in the end, it all unfolded as I planned, give or take the odd close call. And it worked. Only the Borg Queen knows all my secrets and she's dead now. She died, taking my secrets with her.
I should be ashamed of what I became, but I'm not. A conscience is no match for a woman with a broken heart. My bitterness trampled it underfoot and killed it.
My thoughts switch to Voyager now and instantly I'm transported there. I can wander her corridors unseen, much like I could with that alien who tried to lure me into his matrix.
My ship…our ship…sails slowly towards Earth, proudly escorted home. It's night and a skeleton staff attends to Voyager's basic needs. The party is over, the remnants still littering the floor of the holodeck simulation someone forgot to turn off. Still, no need to worry about conserving energy now.
Amend that. Another party is about to begin. Her quarters…our quarters. One thought and I'm here. They're here too. Soft music plays and they sway slowly to it. God, I had terrible taste in music back then. A mere detail though.
So, I watch them. Theirs is a dance within a dance, a prelude to the oldest dance of all. I hadn't ever hoped to witness this. The knowledge, the belief, at least the hope that it would happen sustained me in my quest.
I shouldn't be watching them, but I need to. This is the closest I'll get to experiencing this love. This will nourish ME for a very long time.
They lie on her bed now. Starfleet didn't design these beds with this in mind and it's a bit cramped but they seem totally unaware of that. I move closer and I feel like a voyeur in my old age, or new existence or whatever this is called. Either way, I can't look away.
There's a deep reverence to their coming together, a profound gentleness to their touches. They have an almost psychic understanding of where to touch, their movements synchronized as they whisper their promises.
This is more than an act of love. It's worship.
He seems to take control now as he explores and maps her body with fingers and lips, trailing over her skin like a blind man reading Braille, learning what pleases her. He's totally selfless, giving of himself completely. This is for her.
He soothes her when she responds, her urgency getting the better of her. He holds her in a timeless abeyance as he devotes himself to her pleasure and her pleasure alone. And in that way, her pleasure becomes his, is his.
Gentle strokes, soft caresses, and light unhurried touches. He laps at her skin, tasting and savouring. She lies beneath him, her breathing ragged in the stillness of the room. Her face is a study of love and passion, the two cohabiting, and I know in all 'our' lives, no man has ever brought us to this place.
I know what it's costing her to lie back like this and hand over all control to him. I know a part of her wants nothing more than to rear up beneath him and flip him over, before impaling herself on him. But that's lust and what I'm seeing now is about love. She knows what this means to him and her love for him makes it easy to surrender all that she is. She places herself into his hands, trusting him completely with her body and her soul.
He holds himself above her, studying her flushed face and passion glazed eyes. He smiles down at her and mouths 'I love you'. I see her lips repeat the words back to him and in that moment, eyes locked and breath shared, time stands still. I cry as I witness the most beautiful moment that will ever exist.
For a minute, my heart breaks and I feel a stab of pain at what I denied myself in my life. I can't hold it though as they begin to move again. Their love wipes it all away and all I can feel is happiness. I know I made the right decision. Giving up a life not worth living was no sacrifice when I see this.
He kisses her now, deeply tasting her. He takes his time and I suddenly notice that their hands are joined above her head, their fingers entwined as they were so many years ago.
His lips trail over her face and down her neck. She arches her head back, her mouth slightly open, her eyes closed in deep concentration of the feelings he's evoking in her.
He releases her and moves his hands back to her body. He strokes over her breasts as she moans her pleasure. When he lowers his head and takes a nipple into his mouth, she cries out, a throaty pleasure which spurs him on.
There's a slight urgency now in his movements and I see him fight it. There will only be one first time for them and he wants to savour every second of it. He moves to her other breast, his hand taking the place of his mouth on the one he's just abandoned.
Her head thrashes back and forth, and her hands hold his head to her. Nothing will distract him from his task though, as he suckles at her, then gently nips and soothes.
It's strange to me how watching them makes me unaware of my own body. Let's be honest. Had I watched a scene like this before, my hand would have been busy, but watching them eliminates all that from me. All I feel is their love for each other. Like a blinding light, I know the answer. Love is, despite what I'm seeing, not about the physical. It's about the spiritual. Death lesson number one.
He's holding her wrists now as his mouth moves down her body, his tongue leaving a wet trail across her skin. He dips his tongue into her belly button and she arches beneath him, another cry torn from her throat. She's writhing at this stage, desperate for more, but he won't be hurried.
Agonizingly slowly, he moves lower, his hands releasing hers to stroke down her thighs which she has parted for him. There's no embarrassment and she hides nothing from him. He kisses and licks his way up, taking the long route to where she wants him most.
And then he stops and just stares, his face a picture of love and wonder. He spreads her thighs wider and she raises her head, watching him. He looks up and locks eyes with her for a moment and no words are needed this time. His eyes return to watch his fingers as her head drops back, a deep moan from her filling the silence.
He strokes her gently for a moment, softly blowing over her as he stretches his body between her legs. When his mouth covers her, she cries out, her hands clutching the sheets beneath her.
He feeds from her, her nectar nourishing his very soul. He drives her upwards, working her like a master. His tongue explores, learning the places she likes from the sounds she makes. I see his finger enter her, first one, and when he knows he's not hurting her, two more join it. She's bucking beneath him now and his other hand moves to her stomach, as if holding her to him. His movements are slow at first, gentle in and out movements as he lazily licks over her, but soon he increases his pace, taking her with him. His hand moves from her stomach to join the one inside her. His mouth covers her as his other hand snakes beneath her thigh to press gently against her from behind. She cries out passionately at the new sensation, and doesn't fight it.
She's bucking wildly now and I see him fight to stay with her. She's close and he knows it. His pace increases, his hands working together as he sucks hard on her and in that moment, her body spasms and she screams, the most passionate sound I have ever heard.
He doesn't let her rest as he continues to force her body into yet another orgasm. She cries and screams, moans and protests that she can't take anymore, but he ignores her as he pushes her into a third ascent. As she crashes over, he rears up and in what looks like a movement of utter possession, he grips her hips and pulls her to him. And then he waits, the tip of his shaft waiting just at her entrance.
I'm staring at her body, a sheen of sweat covering it, the faint light from the stars making her almost glow. Tears streak her face, mixing with her perspiration and I've never seen anyone look more beautiful. She looks deeply into his eyes and barely nods, giving him the permission he felt he needed. I think he also wanted to wait for her, for them to share this moment in full awareness together.
He leans forward over her as she lies back and her face tells me the moment he fills her. And then they're still, the starlight reflecting off his back now, the tones of shadow and light showing how beautiful this man is.
His hands cup her face, and she mimics him. They savour the moment of their joining on a deeply spiritual level, silently communicating with each other. It's as if this is the moment they've both lived for, were both born for. I know with everything that I am that these two souls are now joined for all eternity.
Eventually he moves within her, in a rhythm as old as time. They never break eye contact as he pulls back and fills her again and again. She tilts her hips, allowing him a deeper penetration and it's his turn to cry out, a sound somewhere between a moan and her name. His pace increases now and she pulls her legs up around his waist, surrendering her body to his.
He's soon pounding into her, his body's needs taking over for a moment and she joins him, her hands gripping his shoulders as she urges him on. I see her begin to lose it as her body begins yet another orgasm. She cries his name in passion, her body tightening around his and he groans out his completion, triggered by hers.
They remain joined for a long time and on a spiritual level, I share their afterglow. I can't move nor tear my eyes away from the beauty before me. And then I realize they've fallen asleep, still joined, and I want to cry. Only now do I look away and move to the other room, staring out at the stars.
So I've witnessed what I set out to achieve. What do I do now? Can I leave here? Ha…maybe I'll stay and haunt HER…do another 'Raven' on the bitch. And yet… And yet…
I've just witnessed pure love and goodness as the man I love joined with my other self. It's changed me. I suddenly find I no longer have any desire to inflict pain on my supposed enemy.
Oh…oh…what's this? Something is happening. I feel a glow within myself and my body feels light. It's as if a weight has lifted as I let go of what held me here. Is that the lesson for today? Hate and bitterness just weigh you down?
Suddenly I float…through the bulkheads and out into space. A million images flash through my mind and I'm everywhere at once, unable to settle on any one thing. And then the places fade from my mind and are replaced with the people of my life. And now I know what is truly important. I'm filled with such intense feelings of love and happiness, smiling faces of those I've loved guiding me somewhere else. I neither know nor care where.
I briefly remember some words. Picard. Something about what we take with us not being as important as how we've lived. Oh, how wrong he was. It's both.
A final image fills my mind, of a man and woman lying lovingly in each other's arms, sated and happy in shared dreams of their future. I smile as I turn towards the faces which await me.
I don't know where my final destination will be, but I'm happy now. I'm at peace and deeply content. I think this time it finally is about the journey.