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The Journey Home
By Racethewind10


"Congratulations…Captain Mills," Kathryn said, gesturing for Regina to step ahead of her onto the bridge of her newly commissioned Intrepid Class ship. Voyager A. And underneath the professional pride of an Admiral welcoming her protégé to the deck of her ship, there was another note, one that struck a far deeper chord.

Tearing her gaze away from her bridge (oh yeah that felt good), Regina caught the shine in her mentor's steel-blue eyes. It wasn't the emotions the younger woman could see on Kathryn's face that made her heart catch, it was that the Admiral let her see them. And so because they were alone, and together for perhaps the last time until the Voyager A's shakedown cruise was finished, Regina stepped forward, cupped Kathryn's face with gentle hands and kissed her softly.

"Thank you," she whispered. The Captain wasn't talking about the ship - that, she'd worked her ass off to get command of - but for all the other things Kathryn had shown her. And while Regina Mills was a Starfleet captain and her soul ached to be out among the stars, she was also a woman in love and her heart wanted very much to stay right here with the remarkable woman who had taken possession of it.

"Just bring her back in one piece," Kathryn tried to tease gently. The flash of fear in her eyes, however, belied the mirth. If anyone knew the dangers of Captaincy, it was Kathryn Janeway.

"You know I will," Regina responded, equally somber, understanding easily the intent behind the command. If the ship came back whole, so did the Captain.

Steeling herself, Kathryn stepped away and Regina watched with a little bit of awe, even now, as the command mask fell into place. Only the tiniest sparkle in those too-knowing eyes giving the Admiral's true feelings away.

Nodding sharply, Admiral Janeway looked around the bridge, expression softening in fondness for just a moment before returning to her protégé.

"You have your orders, and a lot of work to do. Good luck Captain."

"Thank you Admiral," Regina tried to emulate Kathryn's crisp tones.

And then, without a backward glance, both women turned away; Regina to her bridge, Kathryn to the turbolift.

Later there would be letters and communiques, promises and "I miss you's."

Now, there was the beckoning lure of space…the final frontier.

"Don't look at me that way, Kathryn."

"You broke your ship. On its first cruise I might add!"

Alone in the Admiral's quarters finally, after what seemed like days of debriefings about what was supposed to be a relatively harmless patrol of a relatively harmless sector, Regina had walked in to find Kathryn waiting for her, still in uniform, hands on hips and an expression that someone who didn't know her well might have thought was furious.

Regina did know her well, though. Well enough to see that beneath the supposed ire was profound relief and a struggle not to let it show. She would probably never admit it, but Kathryn Janeway had been terrified.

When it came to stubborn women, Regina Mills had never thought she'd meet her match.

She had.

"I did not break the ship. We got into a minor,"

"You call that minor?"

"Minor skirmish or two with some raiders preying on the new colonies in that sector. The ship performed beautifully. Your designs for the upgraded armor did their job. We just put a few dents in her, that's all. Besides," Regina narrowed her eyes, mirroring Kathryn's own pose of hands on hips. "You're hardly one to talk about eventful shakedown cruises."

Kathryn's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Don't start something you can't finish, Captain."

Thankfully, nearly a decade after Kathryn's triumphant return to the Alpha Quadrant, the subject could be touched on with humor and not just pain. It had taken time – years – but Regina knew more than perhaps any person outside of Kathryn's original crew about just what the diminutive woman in front of her had experienced during what was supposed to be her relatively easy mission in a relatively uneventful sector.

"All I'm saying is, I didn't break the ship. I just…scratched the paint. Not bad for a first firefight. My crew is ok. I'm ok." As she spoke, Regina moved slowly forward until she crowded Kathryn's personal space, reaching out to take one slender fingered hand in her own. Only then could she feel the fine tremor that passed through Kathryn's delicate frame before the older woman regained her composure.

Outside the large picture windows of the Admiral's second story apartment, San Francisco glistened, bathed in golds and purples from the setting sun that slipped through the glass to pick out the red highlights in Kathryn's still-dark hair. It left those remarkable steel-blue eyes in shadow, but Regina didn't need any help to see the slow transformation of her lover's features.

As if the physical contact were a catalyst, the tension, the shield of sharp humor, the mask of command, all of it melted away. The Admiral took off her uniform and there was only Kathryn standing there, lips finally edging into a relieved smile.

"And I am so very glad," the smaller woman finally whispered, her voice nearly throbbing with long-contained emotion as she reached up to cup Regina's cheek.

The Captain nearly moaned at the gentle contact. It hadn't been that long of a cruise, but Regina had gotten used to Kathryn's presence in her life very quickly. As exciting and challenging as having her own command was, the younger woman had missed Kathryn. Through all the repairs and seeing to her crew, her own trip to sickbay and the debriefings that followed, there had been a small, tightly controlled part of the Captain that had ached to be near Kathryn again. Now she gave that part rein, turning her head and pressing a soft kiss against Kathryn's palm.

One kiss became another, then Regina was holding Kathryn's hand and kissing the tips of those slender fingers (that she'd had more than a few excruciatingly pleasant dreams about before things on Voyager got too exciting). Now it was Kathryn's turn to make a slightly breathless, almost strangled sound. The noise hit Regina's blood like a shot of pure adrenaline.

There was so much more than absence driving them when they kissed. Kathryn's hands tangled in the hair at the nape of Regina's neck and the Captain pulled the smaller woman tightly against her. The way they fit together never ceased to drive Regina absolutely crazy.

Sometimes when they'd been apart they would take all night making slow, sweet love to each other.

Tonight was not one of those nights.

Except for the fact that it was nearly impossible to rip Starfleet uniforms, there would have been shredded clothing all over the floor. As it was, uniform jackets were tossed with abandon and pips scattered like tiny brass stars, disappearing under furniture to be hunted for later. Regulation grey tank tops and trousers followed, leaving a crumpled trail of clothing to the doorway of Kathryn's bedroom.

There, in the fading twilight of a warm Earth evening, Kathryn and Regina reclaimed each other from The Admiral and The Captain. From duty and danger and the unknown. Gone was the vastness of space, the structure of command. All that existed was the breath between them and the racing beat of their hearts.

If there was a thread of desperation in Kathryn's touch as she sought to map every inch of Regina's body with fingers and lips and eyes and tongue, they didn't speak of it. They didn't really speak at all really. No words of love or fear or relief were uttered. Regina had been right; Kathryn wouldn't allow herself the luxury. Yet if their voices were silent, their bodies were not, and Regina gladly surrendered herself to Kathryn's need to assure herself that she was alive and whole and here. In every fierce kiss and tender touch she heard the words the older woman couldn't bring herself to utter, and it was more than enough.

After all, Regina wore the same uniform. She knew what it cost.

The night wore on and gradually need gave way to gentle desire. Sweat slickened skin pressed against unheeded bedcovers as finally Kathryn yielded, letting Regina's mouth map the familiar planes of her body, from stubborn jaw to sculpted shoulder, from the curve of her throat to the sweep of her breasts.

Only as night deepened and tipped toward dawn did they both finally lie quietly together, hearts beating sluggish with contentment. Tangled limbs and tangled sheets painted by the moonlight in shades of silver. Regina lay with her head on Kathryn's shoulder, the older woman's slender arms around her. Below her ear, the soft sound of Kathryn breathing was leading her toward sleep and Regina didn't fight it. As much as she loved her ship, here in Kathryn's arms, she was home.

Far above the glittering city in which the two women slept, just past where the blue tinge of atmosphere gave way to the perfect blackness of space, two familiar ships rested side by side in dry dock, waiting for their next adventure.

After months of waking up to get ready for Alpha shift, Regina's eyes opened at 0500 sharp, despite the fact that neither she, nor the other woman still currently asleep next to her in the king-sized bed had set the alarm. The Captain didn't mind though. For the first time she she'd taken command of the Voyager A, the brunette allowed herself the luxury of dozing. The bed was soft, silk sheets and down comforter creating a sensual cocoon around her tired body. It wasn't the bed clothes that made the moment so delicious however.

Eyes still closed, Regina moved her hand, slipping her fingers along the edge of Kathryn's ribs to caress the warm skin of her back lazily.

"Still on Alpha shift schedule I see," came the low, gravely voice, amusement still clear despite it being muffled from where Kathryn's face was turned against the pillow. The Admiral lay on her stomach, Regina half sprawled against her.

"Hmm and what's your excuse?" The younger woman smiled, pressing a kiss to a bare shoulder.

With a soft hum of approval, Kathryn rolled over, blinking open steel blue eyes. Regina noted with only a tiny bit of exasperation that the older woman didn't look at all tired. Despite being assigned to HQ for the last few years, Kathryn didn't seem to have lost any of the traits of having a deep-space command. It intimidated the hell out of a lot of people.

Regina found it endearingly sexy.

"Why sleep when there are more pleasant things to do?" Kathryn asked archly, demonstrating the answer to her rhetorical question by slipping a hand into Regina's hair and guiding her down for a slow, deep kiss.

Sliding her arms under Kathryn, Regina let her body press the smaller woman down into the soft down cushion of the bed as she let Kathryn's mouth take control of her own. Admiral Janeway was a wicked kisser.

Wicked enough to leave them both breathless, a stain of color bright across Regina's cheeks and Kathryn's eyes sparkling.

Regina made a mental note to make good on the dare she read in those eyes later.

Right now though, the Captain wanted to take her damned sweet time getting out of bed. She wanted to doze here, in Kathryn's arms, pressing lazy soft kisses to the elegant column of the older woman's throat. Maybe later they would share coffee and breakfast on the couch. Or maybe Regina would kiss that spot just below Kathryn's ear that made her melt and they wouldn't get out of bed till noon.

"What are you smiling about?" That damned whiskey voice asked just above her ear. Regina grinned wider, raising her eyes to Kathryn's.

"Nothing. Its just nice to have time."

The Admiral smiled, but the expression was soft and for a moment, distant, and Regina knew she was remembering her Voyager.

When they had first met, Kathryn had worn that look often, and a part of Regina had been afraid of what it meant; been afraid that someday the longing she saw there would become too much and Kathryn would slip away from her.

Eventually, the younger woman realized that she was paying attention to the wrong thing.

Because no matter how far she traveled, Kathryn Janeway always, always came home.

And Regina Mills planned on being there for her, for as long as Fate would give them.

The End

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