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We speak of many things, Chakotay and I, in our deep silences.
Three Terran standard years have passed since Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant, and with them a succession of twelve 'seasons'. Chakotay described these to me in cheerful detail during their first cycle following our return to Earth.
Spring, he said, was best remembered as a time of dewy greens, clear skies, and vibrant childplay. Though I did not disturb his joy, I found that the pollen made me ill and the sunlight brought headaches.
Months later we sat on our modest veranda, and he spoke of summer...dry, yes, and dusty in our part of the west, but noble in its unyielding power. He reveled in the savagery of the endless desert preserves and dry plains. I could not but help find the heat irritating to my implant-ridden skin and miserable in the slick, putrid sweat it brought.
Fall, and our return to civilization, came far too late. We walked amongst the autumn oranges and reds, the sensation of brisk winds along my bare arms and calves oddly pleasurable. The colors were muted, but warm, the winds rustle a soothing presence. With the fallen leaves I felt only empathy, and brief sadness. The flora was dying, a rotting testament to transitory glory.
The initial winter was difficult, but this, our second, is far harsher. The snows fell unusually soon and unusually heavy, chilling and desolate. I find no solace in our warm hearth and winter home...the coldness, after all, waits only just beyond our door.
It is telling that Chakotay's holiday reading consists of a tome entitled 'The Winter of our Discontent'.
He does not vocalize any complaints. Flesh upon flesh must be a comfort to him, even if the flesh is admittedly not that which he cries out for in his dreams. Nor does he find fault in my increasing silences, though I do not miss the fact that he smiled immeasurably more at her extravagent expressions and raw chuckles.
We have been married two and one-halves an Earth year, and within another half I anticipate an end to the silences and clinging attire indefinately. We will be parents.
There is a post pending, Khet Anan, a small planetoid of bickering natives and disallusioned settlers. Starfleet requests his quiet tact to install a new Federation seat of government. He has put aside his command aspirations. Khet Anan is, after all, a renowned career dead end.
He will go, and she will see him off. He has not said as much, but has urged that I not forge out into the cold to which I am so susceptible in attendence of his departure. I am sensitive, he says. I will break. I agree. He will be the breaker.
We have rarely spoken of my plans after the child is born. I could transfer to Khet Anan. He strongly dislikes the idea, believing the colonies an unfit place for any child, much less our own, to mature in. I cannot argue, but I...will miss him.
Our discontent is mutual, but hardly exclusionary. I have kept tally of our former crewmates. There is the Doctor, entrenched in struggle after struggle for not only his happiness, but the basic right of continued existance. I fear very little, but for his continued safety...I fear very much. Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres remain together, and Miral is thriving, but the strain of life back home is damaging to each. Tom has given up on any ideal of a truce with his father, or a beneficial Starfleet career. He currently works for the Federation as a civilian contractor, and is, as Chakotay puts it, 'dangerously close to old habits'. His disapproval does not surprise, but Lieutenent Kim's does. My own new life with Chakotay has precluded close contact with the former Ensign-but I am continually surprised by the deepening rift between he and Paris. Harry Kim has never taken his friendships lightly, least of all that which he had with Tom. Perhaps he simply grew up, released boyhood ideals, Chakotay has remarked. I hope otherwise. Tuvok remains on Vulcan, though I understand that he has pressed for a command of his own, or a deep space posting. His seperation from his Vulcan family was apparently no less alientating than my own from humanity.
The Captain is the other voyager, of course, and the one I know the most of, through Chakotay, and desire to know the least of. She has made Admiral, promoted in ceremony by Admiral Paris, her former mentor. They have renewed their friendship strongly. The mentor's son hasn't spoken a word to either since, I am given to understand. She has found no great new romantic interest...nor has she released the former. She is the darling of Starfleet for this moment at least. I wonder if she sees blood, tears, and pain reflected from her trophies.
I do. Her own.
I have developed a strong belief in omens.
Over five years have passed, five cycles of Earth seasons, many unwitnessed by our eyes. There has been winter, and discontent. Tom Paris remains imprisoned for black-market smuggling, and the Doctor has yet to obtain full sentiency. Admiral Kathryn Janeway is long dead, slaughtered in rebellion only hours into her first, and only, visit to Khet Anan. To Chakotay.
The child is six now, her young body strong and healthy, brown eyes inquisitive and glowing, her hair shining gold, her gapped smile and feathery laugh brilliance inherited from neither of her parents.
Her favorite color is red.
We have been traveling these last three years, Chakotay and I, on a silent journey through near space, touring, selling, learning, loving.
She is our prized possession. As she slept in the crook of my arm last night, I dreamt of ravens and Borg.
I do not believe in fate. Nor do I disbelieve in omens.