(Time: Six months after Voyager’s return to Earth from the Delta Quadrant, Admiral Kathryn Janeway’s office at Starfleet Academy. Janeway and Chakotay enter the office in silence, having just left a meeting with Admiral Hayes. The meeting has been short and to the point: reassignments for the former two senior officers on Voyager. Chakotay is being promoted to the rank of captain and given command of the refitted Voyager, which he will take into deep space for a year’s exploration along the edges of the Delta Quadrant. Janeway will continue at the Academy as well as taking on duties as a roving ambassador for the Federation.
She rounds the desk, brushing her hand around the top of the large desk and slumps down into a high-backed cushioned chair that seems to swallow her. She stares at the desk while turning a padd over and over again in nervous energy. Chakotay follows her inside, pulling the door closed behind him. He stands at a parade rest on the far side of the desk, looking at her with disbelief, trying to discern her reactions.)
CHAKOTAY: (Looks shocked and bewildered) What just happened?
JANEWAY: (Looks up, her eyes filled with a mixture of surprise and anguish. ) Well, our worlds just got turned upside down.
CHAKOTAY: (Bracing himself on the desk and leaning towards her) We both knew this day might happen.
JANEWAY: Our separation.
CHAKOTAY: (Trying to smile) Oh, well. The Delta Quadrant is only what – 10,000 light years away?
JANEWAY: (Also attempting a brave front) Actually, it’s only 9,473…
CHAKOTAY: (Sighs and shakes head) A lot of decisions need to be made here. And I’m not talking about our staffing decisions… are you ready for all this?
JANEWAY: Are you? What about Seven? (She gets up and walks around the desk.)
CHAKOTAY: (Moves towards her, brushing her cheek with his hand) Kathryn, you know that she’s a thing of the past, something I regret with every breath… (His face takes on one of his radiant smiles) She just… isn’t my…type.
JANEWAY: (Pulls away but not angrily, a smile coming across her face, too) Nor mine. (She looks up at him mischievously) You know, you two did work well together – after all, you were the one who brought her to life… you were quite a team.
CHAKOTAY: (Puzzled) That’s odd… coming from you.
JANEWAY: (Pacing nervously) Why? She was… is… an intelligent woman. I admire bright, talented people and I know you do, too. I bear her no animosity and I don’t think she knows enough… to bear me anything recriminatory – on a personal level, that is. (She backs up against the desk, bracing herself on her outstretched arms. She notes some reluctance in Chakotay’s eyes at her comments and stands upright. ) What’s the matter, Chakotay? Should I be afraid of her?
CHAKOTAY: (Eyes laughing) No, Kathryn – never! Why, I’ll bet you could bend her like a pretzel!
JANEWAY: (Meeting his eyes) Did you?
(Silence. Chakotay lowers his eyes and starts to turn for the door. She moves back behind her desk, resuming her nervous movements with the padd. )
CHAKOTAY: (Turning, with a final question) So… uh… are you ready for all of this?
JANEWAY: (Looking up, her eyes drilling into his) Are you?
CHAKOTAY: I’ve been dreading it for a while. But now that it’s here, it doesn’t seem too bad; I’ll just take it a day at a time… (He turns and moves towards her then stops short with hesitance. He swallows before speaking) Kathryn, we have so much more to talk about… about us…
JANEWAY: I… I know. But I just don’t know what to say. Relationships – hunh! Once you get to the point where you begin to dissect them, they’re dead already.
CHAKOTAY: I don’t think you mean that. It’s just that Janeway defense mechanism again. (They look at each other in silence again. ) When you’re ready to talk, let me know.
JANEWAY: (Gets up and moves around the desk, standing next to him but not touching) Well, we have three more days – Captain.
(Kathryn has just gotten home from work and changed into a pair of soft brown wool slacks, an ecru turtleneck jersey and a brocade vest. The late afternoon sun reflects low off the waters of San Francisco Bay. She stares out the window in deep thought, her eyes changing from dull sadness to a vibrant gleam. She smiles, grabs a jacket and leaves. We see her next at the door of Chakotay’s apartment. He has just opened the door; he’s holding a partially filled box, obviously packing. They smile at each other. )
CHAKOTAY: (Attired very casually, in work clothes) Hello yourself. (Nods his head, inviting her in. She looks around – packing and storage containers all over. ) Yeah, I know. There’s nothing so final as an apartment full of storage containers.
JANEWAY: (Finds a container that she can sit on and does so) Not to mention a fully packed apartment. So… are you taking all of this with you?
CHAKOTAY: (Closes yet another container) No, Tom and B’Elanna are storing a lot of it for me. But a year-long tour in deep space does mean that I’ll be taking quite a bit with me – you never know what you’re going to need!
JANEWAY: (Laughs) You mean like everything we did not have with us on Voyager? A six-week mission that took only seven years?
CHAKOTAY: (Sits down beside her, laughing too) I guess that was really a test of stretching our resources, wasn’t it?
JANEWAY: (Shakes her head in disbelief) How did we do it? It was quite a feat in survival wasn’t it? (Looks at him. Their eyes meet then quickly look away. ) Are you ready?
CHAKOTAY: Just about. (Nervous silence. ) Kathryn, let’s talk about… you and me.
JANEWAY: (Gets up, walks a couple paces then turns back, her eyes filled with hesitation) Neither one of us…
CHAKOTAY: (Goes to her, takes her hand between his)… wants to be the first to say goodbye. Yes, I know; we’ve been singing that song for years.
JANEWAY: (Makes no move to pull away, but lowers eyes) Chakotay, I don’t think that I will ever feel about anyone else the way I feel about you.
CHAKOTAY: (Drops her hand; takes her chin in his hand and raises it, forcing her to look at him) Ah, that’s all very flattering. But one piece of advice – don’t share that information with any other man in your future. He might not understand.
JANEWAY: (Gently removes his hand, but holds onto it) Do you understand…?
CHAKOTAY: …Why we can’t make it work? Why we let fate decide our futures? No, I don’t. (He pulls away from her and resumes some busy work with one of the containers)
JANEWAY: (Walks over to him) Let me ask you a personal question. Of all the women in your life, what was it that attracted them to you?
CHAKOTAY: (Looking up, rather befuddled at this turn of the conversation. Because of this, his answer comes out short and blunt. ) Well, they wanted me and they let me know it.
JANEWAY: I wanted you; you knew that.
CHAKOTAY: (Exasperated) Kathryn, no man wants to be a mind reader. And with you, there’s always been something else – work, Starfleet protocol, involvement in everyone else’s problems…
JANEWAY: (Softly) That’s all passed.
CHAKOTAY: (Not convinced – he’s been down this path before) Is it?
JANEWAY: We have twelve hours…
CHAKOTAY: We’ve had almost eight years…
JANEWAY: Maybe we just needed a deadline.
CHAKOTAY: Well, we’ve certainly got one now.
(They move towards each other. Their heads awkwardly twist from side to side, trying to find the best way to approach one another. Their lips finally meet, at first with a gentle hesitancy. But this quickly becomes a ravenous frenzy, as they discover each other after their long denial. As their hands begin to move down their bodies, they break apart, their eyes wide with the knowledge of the direction their actions are taking. )
JANEWAY: (Tries to catch her breath, her eyes glazed with rising passion) Just what are you proposing we do now?
CHAKOTAY: (Just as wanting as she is) I’m… I’m proposing… yes, that’s it. (He pulls back a bit from her, his face suddenly beaming) Let’s get married, Kathryn.
JANEWAY: (Her answer –she kisses him deeply before pulling away) It works for me – but would it work for us, Chakotay? I mean – my being here in San Francisco, your going far away somewhere, gallivanting all around space…
CHAKOTAY: (Sighs) There's always going to be that five hundred kilo targ in the middle of the room, isn’t there?
JANEWAY: After all this time, if we’re going to make this marriage work, one of us will have to give up our Starfleet career.
CHAKOTAY: (Kisses her fingertips) We could wait until I retire…
JANEWAY: That’s another decade or so, hmmm?
CHAKOTAY: I love you, Kathryn. But I don’t want to give up my career and you don’t want to give up yours.
JANEWAY: (Sighs, leans back into his arms) So we’re right back to where we started.
CHAKOTAY: (A sudden idea shows in his eyes; he takes her by her shoulders and turns her around) Kathryn, do you believe in fate?
JANEWAY: (Trying to figure out where he’s headed with all this) Well, it certainly brought us together…
CHAKOTAY: And fate could keep us together. I have an idea…
(As the scene opens, it is night. A brightly lit sign above a heavy door announces that the place is at an upscale bar, Triton’s Horn. Background music indicates that it is a lively but not boisterous place. Chakotay is alone at the bar; he is in his Starfleet dress uniform. A vivacious, attractive female bartender, Jeanine, comes up to him. She smiles at him knowingly – it’s obvious that he’s been here before. )
JEANINE: What can I get for you tonight, Captain?
CHAKOTAY: (Smiles at her, but looks a bit dazed) How about some Altarian cider?
JEANINE: (She turns to locate the cider and begins pouring some into a tall glass) What put that smile on your face?
CHAKOTAY: (Shakes head incredulously but still smiling) Well, I just got engaged – uh – at least I think I did.
JEANINE: (Places glass in front of him) Don’t you think you ought to find out?
CHAKOTAY: (Takes a sip of cider) That’s kind of why I’m here now.
(Door opens and Kathryn enters. She isn’t in uniform – she’s in a dark burgundy dress with a deep ‘V’ neckline. Its long skirt has an equally deep slit that shows off legs that have been seldom seen. She walks over to the stool next to the one Chakotay is sitting on and sits down.)
JANEWAY: Hello, stranger. Waiting for someone?(She leans over to him and kisses him. )
CHAKOTAY: (Returns her kiss, smiling) Not any more… ever.
JEANINE: (Smiles at the scene playing out in front of her) What can I get for you?
JANEWAY: (Looks to see what Chakotay is drinking and smiles) I’ll have an Altarian cider, too.
JEANINE: (As she turns to get the cider and a mug, she shakes her head) Figures a guy like him would get a woman like you.
JANEWAY: (Teasingly) Well, we’re still working on that.
JEANINE: (Laughs) Oh, so that makes you the almost-fiancée.
JANEWAY: (Smiles slyly, taking drink from bartender) That’s the part we’re working on.
JEANINE: (Glances at Janeway’s hand) I don’t see a ring…
JANEWAY: (Looks at Chakotay, who is having a good time observing this ‘girl talk’) We’re negotiating that.
JEANINE: Lucky you!
JANEWAY: (Takes Chakotay’s arm and pulls him close) Lucky us!
(The doors open again and Tom and B’Elanna come flying in, their faces excited and happy. Janeway and Chakotay turn and see them. )
TOM: (He and B’Elanna rush towards them) Admiral! Comman… I mean, Captain!
B’ELANNA: (Hesitates momentarily, then throws caution to the wind and hugs Janeway) It’s true? (Janeway smiles and nods, looks at Chakotay)
TOM: (Pumps Chakotay’s hand enthusiastically and slaps him on the back with the other hand) Congratulations! This is quite a night…
CHAKOTAY: (A little taken in by the younger couple’s enthusiasm) Thanks for coming on such short notice.
B’ELANNA: Are you kidding? How long have we waited for this – wouldn’t miss it for the world! (B’Elanna hugs Chakotay and kisses him on the cheek; Tom does likewise with Janeway)
TOM: Yeah, it’s about time…
(Chakotay and Janeway look at each other. This isn’t a surprise to anyone?)
JEANINE: (Laughs as she puts two large bottles of Altarian cider and several chilled mugs on the bar for the others. ) I’m on it, Captain!
(The bar doors open again and the Doctor and Harry Kim enter. )
CHAKOTAY: (Looks up surprised) Harry… Doc!
(Jeanine continues pouring the liquid into the mugs. )
JANEWAY: (Beaming) Looks like the whole crew is coming…
(Tuvok enters, not exactly looking happy.)
TUVOK: (Glares at B’Elanna) Lt. Torres, I received your message. But this does not look like a transporter emergency to me…
B’ELANNA: Yeah; I’m afraid I lied. (Tuvok looks at her with displeasure.) Sorry about that. But Chakotay told me it was a surprise and I knew I wouldn’t get you here any other way.
TUVOK: Indeed. However, I did think that with the Captain’s imminent departure that a social gathering would be in the spirit of the night.
JANEWAY: (Looks at Chakotay, her eyes twinkling) Well… that is if Chakotay actually is leaving…
HARRY: (Shocked) Chakotay – you’re not thinking about turning down the command of Voyager, are you?
(Janeway and Chakotay get up. He opens his arm to her and she nestles into its confines. The rest of the group looks around at each other, silently asking what this is all about, although Tom and B’Elanna are in on what’s to come. )
CHAKOTAY: Kathryn and I have an announcement to make – (everyone looks on expectedly) we’re getting married.
(A din of cheers and congratulations ring out from everyone. Hugs are exchanged, hands clasped… and many eyes brighten with tears of happiness. )
JANEWAY: (Signaling for quiet so she can say something) But in order for this marriage to succeed, we decided that one of us will have to resign their Starfleet commission.
(Gasps arise; no one could see this coming! But everyone knows with these two that this decision is only ‘logical’. )
CHAKOTAY: And it’s no surprise that we couldn’t decide which one. (He and Janeway are holding hands and squeezing tightly.)
JANEWAY: So – since fate brought us together, we’re going to let fate decide for us. Tom…
(Tom digs into his tunic and pulls out an old silver coin. He holds it up for all to see. )
TOM: This is a coin from the former Earth nation, the United States of America – it’s called a silver dollar. It’s been handed down father to son in my family for over four hundred years. By tradition, it can be used to make decisions by flipping it and seeing how it lands. The front of the coin is called ‘heads’ and the back, ‘tails’. Before it is flipped, one side of the decision calls either heads or tails, and whichever way it lands determines the decision.
(Everyone leans in to look at the coin.)
TOM: (Continues) With this coin, the ‘heads’ side is this one… with the figure of a winged woman and the word ‘Liberty’ circling the top. (He glances over to Chakotay and winks, remembering the name of their ill-fated Maquis vessel. ) The other side, showing an eagle with outstretched wings, is the ‘tails’ side. I will ask either the Admiral or the Captain to call a side; the opposite side will be that of the other person. Whichever side comes up – the side chosen by fate – represents the one of them who will resign from Starfleet. (He looks over at Janeway) Let’s let the bride call…
JANEWAY: (Swallows nervously and noticeably) Tails…
(Tom expertly flips the coin. It soars into the air about a meter and a half, twirling and twisting as it arcs upwards. Eight pairs of eyes follow its trajectory and watch as it reaches its apex and begins its downward descent. It lands. Everyone gasps, smiles and all eyes turn to look at…)