Warning: the following story contains implications of a m/m relationship. Run as fast as you can if you can't tolerate homosexuality, gets easily offended with stuff like that.

Disclaimer: Chakotay, Paris and the rest of the Voyager crew belong to Paramount Pictures. The rest of the characters are products of my imagination.

Pairing: C/P (predominantly)

Title: Phoenix Fire

Summary: News of Voyager's return spread across the Alpha Quadrant.

Notes: Knowlege of "On Butterfly Wings" and "Phoenix" will be helpful.

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Phoenix Fire: Prologue

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The news of the lost Federation starship spread like wildfire. Overnight, thousands of webpages appeared on networks, each speculating how Voyager would look after travelling in the Delta Quadrant. Tasteful and gaudy Net sites set up discussion polls and voting booths. How would Voyager look? How many existing crewmembers were left onboard the ship? Borg technology? Cool!

Everyone crowded around their vid-screens, fixing their eyes on the pictures of Voyager sent by the rescue starship, the USS Feng Huang. Adults and children looked with a mixture of awe, disbelief and admiration at the sleek-looking ship, shimmering with reflected starlight. They took in the beautiful design of the ship. Voyager glistened, criss-crossed with eerie green lines, tell-tale signs of her fused Borg-Federation technology.

They whispered about the half-Borg onboard the ship. Half-Borg? How would she look like? Reptilian? Half-mechanical? Did she possess a soul? They whispered about the combined Starfleet-Maquis crew. Maquis? You mean, they merged with the Maquis?

It was a period rife with a lot of speculation.

The ship would appear out of the wormhole in about two days' time.

As for those whose lives were intricately linked with Voyager, parents and loved ones, it was a time of excitement and anticipation. They had waited and prayed for so long. Some of them had already given up hope and moved on. Voyager's return startled so many of them.

It came out of the blue.

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In a spartanly-furnished office, a Starfleet admiral stared at the vid-screen with clear blue eyes. He blinked once, shut the vid off and leaned back into his huge armchair. His son was coming back. His son, thought dead, was apparently well and alive. The admiral glanced at the holo-pictures in his office, his heart constricting. His son was coming back.

In another place, a long-haired woman curled languidly into the arms of a deeply-tanned man. She closed her eyes, trying not to think about Voyager. She had managed to move on. She had found this wonderful man who loved and cherished her. Most of all, he didn't leave her. Libby O'Connor sighed and shut out the strains of clarinet music echoing hollowly in her head.

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On the ship called Voyager, two men held each other and thought about homecoming. They were going home, back to family and friends.

Back to reality.

They kissed, enjoying each other's company. They wanted to spend every precious moment together. They had a feeling that things would somehow be different. One would be the scion of a Starfleet family and one would be a leader in the Maquis community. They were from two different worlds.

They watched the opalescent flicker of the wormhole like the orange flames of phoenix wings. It was a beautiful sight.

They were going home.