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Alec stands in the center of the bridge, his hands behind his back, and stares out at his ship with quiet pride. The USS Voyager, the starship he’s been given to command now that he’s officially a Captain. After all his years of hard work and sacrifice, he’s finally made it.

“It’s a galaxy class ship,” Admiral Penhallow tells him. “Which means it’s top of the line. I’m sorry your first mission isn’t quite glorious enough to live up to this ship’s capabilities, but…”

“All missions are important,” Alec disagrees, smiling politely at Jia. “I’ll be happy to christen the ship with any mission you see fit to assign me.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that, because despite its lack of glory, this mission is actually quite important, and your crew is the only one available to accept it on such short notice. It concerns some Downworlders.”

Alec feels himself tense automatically and sincerely hopes Jia hasn’t noticed it. Downworlders was the self-chosen name a large group of rebels had given themselves after they’d decided to openly fight against the Federation. The Federation just happened to be the organization Alec had been working for, for nearly 20 years now.

Most Federation members were strongly opposed to the Downworlders – most of them found the mere existence of a rebel group horrifying. Alec could understood their disapproval, he truly could. The Federation strived to promote peace, harmony, compassion, and acceptance in all aspects of life. Ever since planet Earth had achieved space travel in the mid 22nd century and helped found the United Federation of Planets, their core principles had all focused on peaceful interaction with other planets, species, and cultures.

Of course, that hadn’t mean war had been entirely eliminated from Earth’s history. There had been a decades-long war with the Klingons, which had only been resolved when Alec was a young boy, and the Federation was still at war with the Borg and the Romulans. But that meant that the Federation couldn’t afford any more wars, and that was why they’d deliberately chosen to create a peace treaty with the Clave when they’d encountered their race last year.

But the peace treaty was something many Federation citizens couldn’t accept, and they’d been fighting against the Clave, even though it was a direct violation of Federation orders, ever since.

“Downworlders, sir?” Alec asks, once he feels confident he has his emotions under control again.

“Yes, we need your crew to track down a group of them who are fighting nearby. Their ship is called the Maquis.”

Alec frowns. The Maquis was the ship his sister was currently serving on as chief medical officer. She’d only taken the position a couple of weeks ago, when the ship’s former doctor had been injured and relieved of duty. He’d had no idea that the Maquis belonged to Downworlders, though.

“Wait, sir, are you telling me my sister has infiltrated the Maquis?”

“Yes, exactly. She’s been sending us information and we now know where to find them. Your mission is to track them down and bring them back to Starfleet Command.”

“I understand,” Alec says. “Is there a timeline on this mission?”

“Try to have them back here by next week,” Admiral Penhallow decides. She hands him a report with the mission details, nods at him, and turns to leave.

Once he’s alone again, Alec muses over the news about his sister. He’d really had no idea that Isabelle’s assignment on the Maquis was anything other than a normal job. If he’d known what she was getting herself into, he would’ve definitely gotten his word in before she left.

Although – he probably should’ve known. Maquis was a French word and had been the name of a group fighting against the Nazis in occupied France during World War II. He should have recognized the word and deduced its meaning as soon as he heard it. He shakes his head, irritated with himself. He hopes to god she’s ok. Realistically, he knows she must be – Jia would have told him if something had gone wrong with Isabelle’s assignment. But he’s Isabelle’s big brother, and it’s in his nature to worry about her. Especially since they’ve been pretty much joined at the hip since they were children.

Well, he’ll be reunited with her soon. He’ll catch up with the Maquis and, as soon as that mission is resolved, he’ll request to have Isabelle transferred to Voyager. Everything will be fine, he tells himself as he takes one last look around the bridge. As he makes his way to the turbo lift which will take him to his ready room, he starts going over his mental to-do list: he still has a few more applications for bridge officers to review before he makes his final decisions regarding his staff. There’s a bit of a time crunch on that because the plan, according to Jia’s report, is to pick up those new officers at a space station called The Institute in less than 48 hours and then, as soon as they’re settled in on board, to immediately head out in search of the Maquis.

He just hopes he can make the decision quickly, so he can get to bed sooner rather than later. But knowing himself, he’ll agonize over the applications for hours before feeling confident that he’d made the right decision. He’s worked hard his entire life to make captain at such a young age and there’s no way he’s going to start taking it easy now.

He reaches his ready room and the first words out of his mouth after he crosses the threshold are: “Coffee, black.” He directs that at the replicator built into the wall opposite his desk. Immediately, the machine lights up and produces a cup full of steaming coffee, seemingly out of thin air. He grabs it without looking, having lived with replicators his entire life – they’re a standard part of life everywhere in the Federation, whether on a planet or in a starship.

Sighing, Alec settles into the chair behind his desk, takes a bracing sip of his coffee, and begins to review the applications.

 

“Aline, what’s our ETA?” Alec asks from his seat on the bridge.

“If we maintain our current speed of warp 8, we’ll reach Isabelle’s coordinates within ten minutes,” Aline answers without taking her eyes off the sky outside.

“Good. Helen, how are our shields working?”

“They’re functioning perfectly,” Helen reports.

Alec nods at her in thanks and settles further into his seat. So far everything is running so smoothly, that he’s starting to feel suspicious. Isabelle’s coordinates had been precise, letting them know exactly where to find the Maquis, and his crew that he’s hand picked having been working together flawlessly. Can it be that this mission, his very first assignment as captain, will work perfectly? It seems too good to be true.

“Sir, I’m picking up some strange readings here,” Clary says suddenly from behind him. “I’m detecting – I think it’s a wormhole.”

Alec frowns. “None of our star charts indicated wormholes in this region of space.”

“According to the readings, it’s unstable, possibly collapsing,” Clary continues. “We should steer clear of it, sir.”

“Send the exact coordinates to Aline,” Alec instructs. Clary does so and a moment later Alec can see Aline adjusting her controls.

“We’ll be able to avoid the wormhole completely,” Aline announces. “ETA is now –”

The entire ship suddenly shudders, with so much force that Alec can barely stay in his seat. “Helen?!”

“It’s another ship, sir!” Helen answers. “It’s firing on us!”

“It has to be the Maquis,” Alec realizes. “Our sensors didn’t show any other ships in the area.”

“Our sensors aren’t showing the Maquis!” Clary cries. “I think the energy from the wormhole is disrupting our signal –” She’s interrupted by yet another forceful shudder which once again nearly knocks everyone to the ground.

“Shields?” Alec asks again.

“They’re down to 85%,” Helen says grimly.

“Evasive maneuvers,” Alec tells Aline. She nods and swings the ship around at a sharp angle that has everyone wincing but it seems to work, at least for a minute; but then the Maquis reappears, firing ceaselessly upon them.

“Shields are down to 60%!” Helen yells.

“Aline – !”

“I’m trying, sir, but they’re relentless! I can’t evade them!”

Alec grits his teeth. He doesn’t blame the Maquis for firing on them, not really. They’re just defending themselves – they must have seen Voyager and immediately felt like they were under attack. They were just being proactive by firing first.

But that doesn’t change the fact that he has to protect his crew, complete the mission, and retrieve his sister. So that means he has to fight back.

“Move closer to the wormhole,” he instructs Aline.

“Sir?!”

“Trust me!” Alec insists. Aline hesitates for only a second and then steers the ship in a wide arc that brings them closer to the wormhole. The Maquis doesn’t follow them.

“If they follow us over here, the wormhole will probably mess with their sensors as well,” Alec explains. “Until then, let’s try to repair our shields. Helen, you –”

Voyager shakes with a force much greater than it had before. This time everyone does fall out of their seats; only Aline manages to remain upright.

“It’s not the Maquis,” Clary says frantically. “It’s –”

“The wormhole,” Alec finishes for her. “How is that possible?! We’re still pretty far away –”

“It’s unstable…”

“How unstable? As in, imploding?” Alec demands.

“Yes,” Clary confirms. “Sir, we need to retreat. The wormhole isn’t going to last much longer; if we’re still in range when it implodes –”

“Aline, retreat. We’ll take our chances with the Maquis –”

But they’ve waited just a second too long. The wormhole implodes, but instead of sending Voyager flying in the opposite direction, their ship is pulled in, dragged into the fiery center of the wormhole’s destruction.

There’s nothing they can do to escape. The pull from the collapsing wormhole is too powerful to resist. No matter what Aline tries, Voyager is dragged further and further inward. The ship is trembling so fiercely that Alec squeezes his eyes shut, convinced that this is the end; the ship is going to rip itself apart and they’ll all be scattered into nothingness.

And then suddenly, it all stops. What had felt like an eternity had most likely only been a matter of less than a minute. Alec blinks open his eyes and blinks slowly a couple of times as he takes in his surroundings. The ship is still intact. The space around them seems stable. A quick glance around the bridge confirms that all of his crew seem alive and unharmed – shaken and terrified out of their minds, sure, but no lasting damage as far as he can tell.

Still, Alec has to clear his throat a few times before he can speak. “Everyone check in.”

There’s a murmured chorus of “fine, sir” from around the bridge. Alec taps the communications badge on his chest which allows him to talk to anyone on the ship, no matter where they are. “Lightwood to engineering. Status report.”

“Everything’s fine, Captain,” his head engineer, Ollie, responds, as clearly as if she were standing right next to him. “No one is injured and all systems are online.”

Alec would actually like to know more, but he doesn’t have the time for personal conversations right now. The point is that Ollie’s voice had been steady – she could take care of herself and her team for now. “Good. I’ll come visit you shortly. Lightwood out.”

He checks in with sick bay and all other departments, none of whom report serious injuries. Finally satisfied that his ship and his crew are doing fine, at least for the time being, Alec releases a deep breath and turns to Clary. “Any sign of the Maquis?”

“Yes, sir. I’m picking up their signal. They’re only a few kilometers away.”

“Can you read any other signals? Are they approaching us?”

“No, sir. They’re currently at a standstill.” Her voice sounds strange, something Alec immediately picks up on.

“What is it, Ensign?” he asks, using her rank to snap her focus back.

Clary hesitates. She looks up at him and he can’t even begin to interpret the look on her face. “We’re…well, unless these readings are completely wrong, we’ve travelled quite a distance from our previous position. The wormhole seems to have deposited us in…in the Delta Quadrant.”

Complete silence greets her announcement. Every crew member on the bridge seems to freeze in shock. The silence stretches on, for so long that it begins to feel unnatural, but still Alec can’t seem to find his voice. What Clary’s said just seems too preposterous, too horrifying, to even begin to conceptualize it.

“The Delta Quadrant,” Alec echoes when he finally manages to unstick his throat. “Ensign, are you sure –”

“I just ran a diagnostic on our sensors, sir,” Clary says, her voice trembling. “The sensors are functioning at 100% efficiency. These readings are accurate. We’re in the Delta Quadrant.”

The Delta Quadrant. It’s an entirely unknown, unexplored region of space. No Starfleet ship has ever visited this quadrant before, and there’s good reason for it. The Delta Quadrant is 75,000 light years away from home. Even if Voyager travelled at top speeds and ran into literally no problems during their entire journey, it would still take them 75 years to return to their home in the Alpha Quadrant.

Somehow, Alec’s simple mission of retrieving the Maquis and returning them to Starfleet Command has turned into the last mission he’ll ever serve. Chances are he’ll die on this ship before making it back home to Earth.

He slowly looks around the bridge, taking in the stunned, desperate faces of his crew. He’s done this to them. He insisted Aline trust him, insisted she fly closer to the wormhole in an attempt to overpower the Maquis. If he hadn’t done that, if he’d somehow found a way to capture the other ship without wandering too close to the wormhole, none of this would have happened. They’d still be in the Alpha Quadrant, within safe range of Earth.

He turns back around, locking gazes with Aline. Her face is wiped clean of any emotion. She’s simply staring at him, waiting for her next orders. Somehow, that gives him the strength he needs. You’re the Captain, he reminds himself. You need to be strong for your crew. Pull yourself together.

“Aline, head for the Maquis. If they’ve checked their sensor readings, they’re probably just as stunned as we are, and they’re probably more willing now than ever to talk to us.”

“Yessir,” Aline replies. She swings the ship around and heads for the Maquis’ destination via the coordinates that Clary sends her without having to be asked. Despite himself, Alec feels a twinge of pride for his crew and how well they’re holding themselves together.

“In range,” Clary announces after a few minutes.

“On screen,” Alec says.

The viewscreen at the front of the ship transforms into a video screen. The sky outside is replaced by an image of the most beautiful person Alec has ever seen – dark hair, flawless makeup, jewelry everywhere. He looks the exact opposite of a Starfleet leader, but that makes sense, considering he’s not Starfleet. He’s not wearing a uniform like Alec is, but rather a deep red tunic that stretches so tightly across his chest and arms that the material looks fit to burst. Alec is flat out stunned by the sight of the other man, so much so that he has to swallow three times before he can remember where is and what he’s supposed to be doing.

“This is Captain Alexander Lightwood of the Federation starship Voyager,” Alec says. “We intend you no harm.”

“Forgive me if I find that a little difficult to believe,” the other man answers, in a melodious voice that fits him perfectly. “Unless you want to tell me that you weren’t given orders to capture us and bring us to Starfleet Command?”

“We were,” Alec agrees, unable to help inserting a wry tone into his voice. “But let me remind you that you fired on us, and never gave us the chance to retaliate. Secondly, I’m assuming you’ve realized by now where we are.”

The other man’s voice is a bit more somber when he speaks again. “We have. We had just realized that you were using the wormhole to disguise your signal and initiated pursuit when the implosion occurred. We were dragged in just like you.”

“Considering the situation we’re in, I propose a truce. Any attempts to fulfill Voyager’s original mission no longer make sense. Our main priority should be returning to the Alpha Quadrant.”

“Agreed. I –” The other man abruptly falls silent.

Before Alec can ask what’s wrong, Ollie’s panicked voice bursts over his comm badge. “Captain! The Maquis is suffering from a warp core breach. They need to get off their ship, now!”

“Lock onto their signals and transport them here, immediately!” Alec tells her.

“Yes sir!” Ollie barely takes the time to acknowledge his order before she’s gone. Alec looks back at the screen to see the other man looking scared but determined.

“See you in a second,” Alec tells him.

The other man nods and, as Alec watches, disappears from view.

“Ollie, talk to me! Do we have all of their crew?” Alec barks. Time is of the essence and they can’t afford to wait a second longer. A warp core breach is the worst possible disaster a starship can experience – the warp core is what enables them to travel faster than light, and if it’s damaged, the ship will quite literally explode.

Thus the time crunch – Ollie had locked onto the energy signals every crew member of the Maquis had been submitting, using that to transport them automatically from their ship to Voyager. As soon as every person has been evacuated, Voyager can hightail it out of here before the explosion occurs.

“We do, sir!” Ollie confirms.

Alec looks to Aline. “Maximum warp!”

Aline doesn’t waste a second. A moment later they’re well clear of the Maquis. Alec waits for Aline to confirm that they’re out of range; as soon as she has, he gives Helen command of the bridge and runs down to the transport bay.

Standing in the middle of the room is a small group of people, one of whom is the man Alec had talked to before, and standing next to him is Isabelle.

“Izzy!” Alec gasps, rushing forward to pull her into a tight embrace.

“I’m fine, big brother,” Isabelle assures him, although she squeezes him back just as tightly.

“Big brother?” the man repeats. “Let me guess. You were working for Starfleet all along. You gave them the coordinates to find us.”

Isabelle steps out of Alec’s arms. “Yes, I did. But I hardly think that’s the biggest issue we’re facing right now.”

The man sighs and shakes his head. Then he gestures to his companions. “This is my crew. I’m Magnus, and this is Dorothea, Catarina, Maia, and Luke. Isabelle you already know, of course,” he adds in a mutter.

“Alec Lightwood. Look…” Alec sighs and scrubs a hand over his face before he continues. “I know this situation is fucked up. We were sent to capture you and bring you back to Starfleet Command to await trial. I know that technically makes us enemies, but – we’re both stranded in the Delta Quadrant now. The Alpha Quadrant is at least 75 years away. Maybe we should combine our crews and make the journey back home together.”

Seeing the skepticism forming on the others’ faces, Alec sighs again. “I’m not forcing you. If you want, we’ll help find you a ship and then when we can go our separate ways.”

The skepticism is replaced by shock. “You’d do that?” Magnus asks. “You’d disobey a direct order from Starfleet and let us go?”

“I told you earlier that fulfilling our original mission no longer makes sense,” Alec points out. “In 75 years, who knows if anyone from Starfleet will even remember your criminal record. So like I said, we should focus on what’s really important: getting home.”

Magnus exchanges looks with his crew. None of them look very convinced, but they don’t argue with him either. After several long seconds of silence, Magnus sighs, nods, and turns back to Alec. “All right. We’ll join your crew.”

Chapter Text

“What was your Starfleet rank before you joined the Downworlders?” Alec asks as he leads Magnus into his ready room.

There’s a brief moment of silence as Magnus apparently decides whether or not he wants to answer. “Commander,” he answers finally. “So not quite as impressive as you.”

“What does that mean?” Alec turns toward his replicator before Magnus can respond. “Coffee, black. Do you want anything?”

“Just some tea. Peppermint, with two sugars.”

Alec hands Magnus his drink before sitting down at his desk. He gestures for Magnus to take a seat opposite him before repeating his earlier question.

“I’d heard of you before today, you know,” Magnus says. “You made quite the impression on Starfleet Academy. You graduated earlier than anyone else ever had, and now you’re a captain at only 35? That’s never been done before. I’m 37 and I’d probably need another three years before I was awarded the same rank – provided I hadn’t joined a rebel group, of course.” He winks at Alec here and Alec nearly chokes on his coffee.

“I started at the Academy when I was 16,” he explains once he’s calmed down. “And my parents – well –”

“Yes, I’ve heard of them too. They’re very rich and very influential.”

Alec frowns, unable to tell exactly what Magnus is saying – if he’s simply stating a fact or if he’s attempting to imply that Alec only made captain at such a young age due to his parents’ status. He sincerely hopes it’s not the latter. He’s spent literally half his life working his ass off to get where he is now, and he doesn’t like hearing that questioned. Although why a stranger’s opinion of him should matter so much, he isn’t sure.

“Well, if you’re amenable, I’d like to return your rank to Commander and make you my first officer.”

“I’d like that,” Magnus says, and it sounds sincere. Taking that as a good sign, Alec continues.

“What about your crew? What were their ranks and assignments?”

“Luke was also a commander. He was my head of security. Dot and Catarina are both lieutenant commanders, both in astrophysics, and Maia is a lieutenant and my science officer.”

“That all sounds good. We’ll find them some Starfleet uniforms –”

“Excuse me?” Magnus interrupts. “My crew and I deserted Starfleet and joined the Downworlders for a reason. I can’t ask them to wear those uniforms. It would be an insult.”

“An insult how? You’re joining our crew. Obviously you’d wear the same uniforms as us.”

A muscle twitches in Magnus’ jaw. He opens his mouth to say something, but before he can, there’s a sound similar to a doorbell, signifying that someone wants access to the room.

“Enter,” Alec calls.

The door slides open and Clary steps into the room. When she sees Magnus, she stops short. “Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t realize you were busy.”

“It’s fine,” Alec assures her. “What do you have for me, Ensign?”

“Our exact location and a star chart of the surrounding region. Maia helped me with it.” She hands him the tablet and he scans it briefly before nodding. “All right, thank you, Ensign. Please inform the senior staff to be on the bridge in five minutes. Dismissed.”

She nods in acknowledgement and starts to turn around. Halfway to the door, however, she stops and looks at Magnus. “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Clary Fray, I’m the communications officer.”

“Pleased to meet you, Clary. However, I’d prefer if you didn’t call me sir. I know it’s Starfleet procedure to address all of your superiors with that title, regardless of gender, but since I’m nonbinary, I’d prefer if you just referred to me as Commander. Or Magnus.”

“Oh, ok,” Clary says, then smiles brightly. “Then welcome aboard, Commander.”

Magnus returns her smile warmly. “Thank you, my dear.”

Once Clary is gone, Magnus turns back to Alec. “As I was saying –”

“I understand your point,” Alec interrupts. “But these circumstances are different than anything either of us have ever experienced. And if your crew doesn’t wear the uniforms, that will only engender a sense of separation between us. A sense of otherness. I don’t want my crew to always think of you as the outsiders. I want you to be a part of our family. Equals.”

Magnus is quiet for several moments. Finally, they nod. “I understand, and I agree. Thank you, Alexander, for at least listening to me.”

Alec startles. He’s not used to anyone calling him Alexander. Izzy started calling him Alec when they were young kids, and it’s always stuck. But he finds he doesn’t mind. In Magnus’ soft, rich voice, Alexander sounds…special.

“You’re welcome,” he replies. “By the way, I’m sorry for assuming your gender. Is it ok if I use they/them pronouns? Or do you prefer something else?”

“They/them is perfect,” Magnus smiles. “And you can call me Magnus. It’s ok if I call you Alexander?”

“Of course.”

Magnus smiles at him, and there’s a moment, where Alec just…breathes. He stares at Magnus, at how perfect their makeup looks, at the light glinting off their jewelry, and he feels calm. Despite barely knowing them, Alec feels, suddenly, as if everything is going to be ok. He doesn’t know how he knows this. It’s just a gut feeling, nothing more, but he trusts it.

“We should go,” Alec says abruptly, once he realizes how long he’s been staring at Magnus. “I need to address the crew.”

“What will you tell them?” Magnus asks, standing and following Alec to the door.

“I don’t know.” Alec releases his breath in a nervous puff. “I’ll tell them that my first and foremost goal is to get them home. I don’t really know what else I can say.”

“That should be enough,” Magnus says, smiling at him as they step into the corridor. “You’re their captain. They’ll trust you.”

“I hope so,” Alec mutters.

“They will,” Magnus insists. “You’ll see.”

Alec releases another breath and leads the way to the bridge. When he steps inside, everyone stands at attention.

“At ease,” he tells them. Once everyone looks more relaxed, Alec gestures to Magnus. “This is Commander Magnus Bane. They will be my first officer. I want everyone to treat the Downworlder crew with the same respect you would treat any Starfleet crew member. They belong with us now.

“It’s a long journey home. Even at top speed, it will take at least 75 years for us to reach the Alpha Quadrant. Not only are we only the Federation citizens here, we’re also most likely the only humans. We shouldn’t waste the opportunity to do some exploration while we’re here, but at the same time, we can’t forget that we need to uphold Starfleet laws and ideals. Just because we’re in an unknown region of space doesn’t mean we should forget who we are or where we come from. Understood?”

There’s a chorus of “yessirs!” Alec nods. “We’re one crew,” he reminds them. “We’re in this together. If any of you ever have concerns, or need help, you can come to me or to Commander Bane at any time.”

“Yessir,” everyone says again. Alec nods at them. “Dismissed.”

He looks over and sees Magnus smiling at him, with something that almost seems like pride on their face. Alec swallows down the pleasure he feels at that. He doesn’t have time for distractions.

 

 

 

“I just can’t believe it,” Clary murmurs, staring at Luke. “All these years I thought you were dead, and now all of a sudden, you’re here?”

She hadn’t seen him at first. Only Alec had seen the crew of the Maquis at first – she hadn’t seen Luke until Alec had made his speech on the bridge. One second she’d been listening to the captain talk, the next she’d noticed Luke standing behind him. All the breath had left her lungs at the sight of him; as soon as Alec had dismissed the crew, she’d gotten Luke’s attention and brought him into the nearest empty room.

He’d been just as shocked as she had, both of them staring at each other in stunned silence for several seconds until Clary had finally found her voice.

“Did you do it on purpose? Have you been hiding from me this entire time, letting me think you were dead – ?”

“It’s not like that,” Luke interrupts. “I didn’t want it to be like this, Clary, I promise you.”

“Then what was it supposed to be like?” Clary demands. “You disappeared four years ago. Starfleet told me and Mom that you died on a mission. Are you saying you didn’t know?”

Before Luke can respond, there’s a sound at the door and Maia, Alec, Isabelle, and Magnus walk in.

“Sorry to interrupt you,” Alec says, glancing at Clary uncertainly. “We were passing by and heard raised voices…”

“You’re not interrupting anything, sir,” Clary responds. “Except me finding out my father isn’t actually dead like I thought the past four years.”

“Your father?” Alec repeats, clearly confused.

“Adoptive father,” Luke clarifies. “But I raised her from infancy.”

“Until 4 years ago,” Clary interrupts. “When he died – at least according to Starfleet. This is the first time I’ve seen him since that day.”

“I never wanted that,” Luke says. “You have to believe me.”

Clary crosses her arms over her chest. “Then what did you want?”

“I didn’t want them to lie to you and Jocelyn. I didn’t even know they were going to. Four years ago, after I left Starfleet and joined the Downworlders, Starfleet apparently told you that I died on a mission. Except there was no mission. I guess they didn’t want you to feel the shame of knowing a family member was in a rebel group.”

“And you knew?” Clary asks, her voice starting to shake. “You knew we thought you were dead, and you didn’t think to get a message to us somehow?”

“I didn’t want to put the two of you in danger. I’ve made a lot of enemies with the Clave, they could’ve come after you and Jocelyn if they knew you existed. I thought it was best if I pretended like I really was dead.”

“And when Mom died? What did you think then? That being a Downworlder was more important than coming to the funeral? More important than letting me know I wasn’t an orphan?”

“Clary –”

“I’ve heard enough,” Clary announces. “Not only did you abandon me and Mom, but you did so to join a rebel group! You being part of this group was more important than being with your family. That’s something I can’t forgive.” She spins on her heel and makes to storm out of the room, but Maia catches her arm.

“Please just listen to him,” Maia says quietly. “If you still want to storm out afterward, you’re free to do so, but…just give him a chance to explain?”

Clary looks over her shoulder and sees Luke looking at her pleadingly. She sighs and nods. “Fine. What is it you want to tell me?”

“I know how loyal you are to Starfleet,” Luke begins.

“Which I got from you and Mom. You were both in Starfleet before I was born. I was raised mostly on starships.”

“Jocelyn and I loved Starfleet,” Luke agrees. “Until we discovered the planet Bajor and found out what a race called the Clave were doing.”

“What they were doing was horrible,” Clary starts to say, but Luke interrupts.

“Clary, I don’t think you know the full truth of what the Clave were doing.”

“What does that mean? The Clave were attempting to colonize a planet that actually belonged to the Bajorans but when Starfleet found out we persuaded them to stop and leave the Bajorans alone.”

“Not exactly,” Luke says. “It was more complex than that.”

“Complex how?” Clary demands, starting to grow frustrated. “Stop beating around the bush and just tell me.”

When Luke hesitates, Maia takes over. “The Clave weren’t attempting to colonize Bajor, they already had. Decades ago. And they didn’t stop at colonization. They had enslaved the Bajorans and committed several acts of mass genocide.”

“No,” Clary protests immediately. “No, that’s not true. Why would Starfleet keep something like that from us? Why would they lie to everyone and make up some softcore version of the truth?”

“You know why,” says Maia. “Because of the Prime Directive.”

Clary shakes her head. “How could the Prime Directive apply in a situation like this?!”

“Belief in the Prime Directive has to be absolute.” That’s Luke again. “You can’t just pick and choose when to uphold it. Either you always uphold it or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.”

“For Starfleet, apparently. But not for you and the other Downworlders?”

Luke nods. “The Prime Directive forbids Starfleet from interfering in the culture or development of another planet. For Starfleet, this meant they couldn’t step in and make the Clave stop what they were doing. Not by force, at least. They managed to negotiate something and the Clave agreed to leave Bajor and return to their planet. But during the time it took to settle the negotiations, parts of the Clave continued murdering Bajorans. So many innocent people were slaughtered while Starfleet stood by and did nothing.”

“And that’s why you left Starfleet and joined the Downworlders?” Clary can barely speak, her voice is shaking so hard.

“Yes. The Downworlders couldn’t justify following the Prime Directive in this case. They wanted to make the Clave pay for what they did. When Starfleet rejected their ideas, well, that’s when we decided to quit our jobs and take matters into our own hands.

“But being a Downworlder is dangerous, Clary, and I made a lot of enemies. When I found out by chance that Starfleet had told you and Jocelyn I was dead, I thought it was a blessing in disguise. If everyone thought I was dead, no one from the Clave would think to contact my family or to hurt you two to hurt me. I thought I was keeping you safe this way. I’m so sorry.”

“I’ve got to get out of here,” Clary mutters, wiping tears from her eyes as they start to fall. Without waiting for a reply, she turns and darts out of the room. Luke doesn’t come after her.

 

Clary is laying facedown on her bed when there’s a beep at her door. She sighs and rolls over. “Come in.”

The door slides open and reveals Maia. “Hey. I know you’re probably not in the mood to talk, but…I didn’t think it was a good idea for you to be alone.”

Clary gives a hollow laugh. “Are you sure you want to be around me right now? I’m not exactly in the greatest of moods.”

“That’s understandable,” Maia says, sitting down on the edge of Clary’s bed.

“I just found out the organization I’ve spent my entire life in lied to all of its citizens about the mass genocide that it conveniently swept under the rug. My father who I’ve spent the past four years mourning isn’t really dead, he’s alive but he abandoned me to fight with the Downworlders, and….I’m upset about that, obviously, but I can’t really say I blame him. I kind of want to join the Downworlders myself right now.”

“It’s a lot to take in,” Maia agrees. “But try not to let it overwhelm you too much. You didn’t know about the Clave and what they were doing to the Bajorans.”

“You did though. And so did Luke and plenty of others. How did they find out and I was clueless?” Clary sits up and stares at Maia, desperate for some kind of answer, some explanation.

“Hardly anyone was informed, only people with a high enough security clearance. But when those people revolted, they took their crews with them. I was serving on the same ship as Luke when he found out. He told me and I decided to join him immediately.”

“And that’s why Starfleet lied to the rest of us? They didn’t want us to revolt too?”

“They never expected anyone to revolt. So many of their officers abandoning their posts was a huge, nasty shock for them. They couldn’t risk that happening with anyone else, so they hushed up the truth. It was the only thing they could do.”

“For four years? They lied to our faces for four years? They’d rather me think Luke was dead than know he joined the Downworlders? How could they –” She shook her head, feeling more tears springing to her eyes and angrily wiping them away. “It’s not like the Downworlders didn’t have a reason for rebelling. They were just standing up for genocide victims. How could that be so bad?”

“It’s like I said back there, it violated the Prime Directive. You grew up with parents in Starfleet, you’re in Starfleet yourself. You know how important the Prime Directive is to their ideals. It’s one of the very first laws they created.”

“But could the Prime Directive apply here? When we discover a species committing mass genocide, we’re supposed to just turn away and pretend we didn’t see it?” Clary scrubs her hands over her face, wiping away even more tears. “I understand the importance of the Prime Directive. Its purpose is to prevent us from getting involved in matters that don’t concern us and aren’t our business. But in this case….how could…” Her voice trails off. 

“That’s the question every Downworlder asked themselves back then,” Maia says quietly. “I’m sorry you had find out this way, though. Especially about Luke.”

Clary smiles sadly. “He’s everything to me. The only reason I didn’t call him Dad was because he and my mom were never married, but he was there for me my entire life. When I thought he died…” She has to clear her throat before she can continue. “I got the news four years ago. I was 18, just about to start at the Academy…Luke was only supposed to be gone for 2 months.”

Her voice fades again and she starts to get lost in her thoughts, when suddenly a hand reaches out and entwines with hers. She looks up, startled, to find that Maia is smiling at her.

“Look, I know we don’t know each other very well. We just barely met today, but…I know Luke, and I know he was really broken up by you thinking he was dead. He only did it to protect you, because he loves you so much. Just give him a chance to prove that to you again, huh? And don’t beat yourself up too much about the lies from Starfleet. You didn’t know. Now you do. Only what you do from now on counts, not what happened in the past. Ok?”

“Okay,” Clary whispers.

“I’ll leave you alone now, huh?” Maia asks, starting to rise from the bed, but Clary holds fast to her hand.

“Actually…I’m not really ready to be alone. Could you just stay here, for a little while? Just long enough for us to eat dinner, maybe?” She bites her lip. “I don’t want to force you…just…I would appreciate it.”

“Of course I will,” Maia replies. She slowly removes her hand from Clary’s and makes for the replicator in the corner of the room. “What do you feel like eating?”

“Surprise me?” Clary asks, smiling, and is rewarded by Maia’s smile in return.

 

Clary cries for a good portion of the night, but she also tells Maia a lot about herself. She’s 22 to Maia’s 26 and a recent graduate of Starfleet Academy. She was born in Brooklyn but had spent most of her life on starships following her parents on their various assignments. Luke and Jocelyn had never been married, which is why Clary had never referred to Luke as “Dad”, but he’d been there for her entire life – until she turned 18, when she started at the Academy and received the news that Luke had gone MIA.

“My mom died shortly after that,” Clary says, sniffling. “Some obscure disease that Starfleet doctors had never heard of. I almost dropped out of the Academy to be honest, but I knew my parents wouldn’t have wanted that. I forced myself to stay in just for them. I graduated about a month ago and then Alec hand-picked me for his crew. I could barely believe it. Me, a rookie, serving under the youngest captain in Starfleet history? It was like a dream come true.”

“Until we got stuck here,” Maia says softly.

“To be honest? I’m not really that upset about it,” Clary confesses. “There’s not much left for me on Earth. And now that I have Luke back…it’s not so bad here.”

“Luke’s great,” Maia agrees. “I was serving on the same ship as him when he found out about the Clave. When he asked me to join him I didn’t have to think twice.”  

“So what was it like? Being in the Downworlders, I mean?”

“Scary. I mean, it’s war. Constant fighting and bloodshed.”

“Did you ever get hurt?”

“Yeah. Pretty bad once. I wouldn’t recommend it.” Maia grins at Clary here and Clary feels her heart speed up a little bit in response.

 

 

When Maia wakes up the next morning, the first sight that greets her is Clary’s bright red hair spread like a halo across the pillow. She smiles at the sight, realizing she must have fallen asleep here last night while telling Clary stories about her and Luke’s adventures together.

Clary had asked multiple questions, wanting to know as much as possible about her father and life with the Downworlders. Maia hadn’t even realized she’d fallen asleep, but when she checks her watch, it’s 0700 hours. Her shift starts in an hour, so that means she had better get a move on.

When she steps out of the room, the first person she sees is Isabelle. Isabelle glances at the door behind her and then looks back up at Maia. Maia knows Isabelle is absolutely the type of person who would have memorized everyone’s room assignment and knows exactly whose room Maia has just walked out of. However, there’s absolutely no judgement on her face when they lock eyes.

“Are you just coming from Clary’s room?” Isabelle asks. “How is she doing?”

“Better now than she was last night,” Maia replies. “She was pretty upset last night, what with finding out about Luke and the truth about the Clave and all that. But I think she’s doing better now that she had someone to talk to about it.”

“That’s good,” Isabelle murmurs. There’s a moment of silence. Maia and Isabelle had clicked instantly on the Maquis and had started sleeping together on Isabelle’s very first day. That had stopped yesterday when Maia had realized Isabelle had been a spy.

“I’m sorry, by the way,” Isabelle says. “I never wanted to lie to you.”

“That’s ok. I mean, I can’t really blame you. You were just following orders, and that’s what Starfleet does best, right?”

Isabelle bites her lip. “Hey, I’m on your side.”

“You are?” Maia can’t keep the skepticism from her voice, but then, to be fair, she wasn’t really trying to.

“I am. I support the Downworlders. I asked Admiral Penhallow for the assignment to the Maquis, because I was hoping I could help you guys. I don’t know how exactly,” she adds upon seeing Maia’s still skeptical expression. “Maybe talk to Alec and see if he would help you, or try to help you escape, or something.”

“So you expect me to believe that you’re, what, like a triple agent?”

It’s the amused expression on Isabelle’s face that convinces Maia. “All right, all right. So you’re a triple agent and you wanted to help us all along. I believe you.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s going to be nearly a century before we make it back to the Alpha Quadrant, so, who’s on which side is pretty much irrelevant, right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Isabelle tucks some hair behind her ear. “And you and Clary – how’s that going?”

That makes Maia smile. “Good. I mean, I like her, and I think she likes me. But it’s still new.”

“It’s none of my business anyway,” Isabelle says, reaching up to scratch the back of her neck.

“It could be your business, if you wanted,” Maia tells her.

“Yeah?” Isabelle asks softly.

“Yeah.”

Isabelle’s smile widens. “Well…I need to go talk to Alec. I want him to hear from me personally that I’m, you know.”

“A triple agent?” Maia supplies, grinning.

“Catch you later,” Isabelle smiles at her one more time before walking away. Maia watches her until she disappears around the corner, then heads down the hallway to her own quarters.

 

 

Magnus can admit it to themselves, they have a bit of a crush on Alec. And they’re fairly positive that Alec returns their feelings. Alec probably thinks he’s doing a good job of hiding it, but he’s also the least subtle man alive. Magnus can’t even count the amount of times they’d glanced over at Alec only to find Alec quickly glancing away from them.

When Magnus had given up on sleep this morning at 0400 hours and asked the ship’s computer where Alec was, the computer had informed him that Alec was in his ready room. Magnus had entered the room to find Alec hunched over his desk, dark circles under his eyes as he perused his tablet. Magnus had been able to tell right away from the defeated slump to Alec’s shoulders that he hadn’t been able to find a wormhole or any other special anomaly that would help them reach the Alpha Quadrant in less time than seven and a half decades.

“You need a fresh pair of eyes?” Magnus had asked. Alec had waved for him to sit down and they’d been examining the star charts Clary had brought them yesterday ever since.

“There’s really nothing here,” Alec murmurs now, propping his head up on his hand. “I hate to be so pessimistic, but I really think we’re stuck here with no way out.”

“We might still find something,” Magnus says. “These are only star charts of the nearest surrounding region. But we have plenty of other regions to explore.”

“I know,” Alec sighs. “But it’s just hard, you know? As captain, I need to keep the crew motivated, and that’s difficult when I don’t have any good news to share.”

“It’s only the second day, Alexander,” Magnus assures him. “We still have plenty of time to figure out a solution.”

Alec smiles at them. “You’re right. Thanks Magnus. And in the meantime, like you said, there’s plenty of regions for us to explore for the sake of Starfleet.”

“There you go,” Magnus says with a smile, which Alec instantly returns. Alec’s smile is awfully soft, and seems so sweet and intimate for colleagues who have only known each other for a day. Magnus tells themselves not to read too much into it, but they can’t help it. Alec is beautiful and kind and sweet, and has shown Magnus nothing but acceptance and respect since they met. Can Magnus be blamed for having a massive crush on him after only one day?

But they’re also not sure exactly what Alec’s feelings toward them are. Alec certainly seems attracted to them, but attraction isn’t the same as romantic feelings, and if attraction is all that’s there, then maybe all Alec is looking for is a fling.

Not that Magnus is opposed to flings – they’ve engaged in plenty of them, as long as the other people involved knew it was temporary. But this time, Magnus isn’t interested in just a fling, and more than that, a fling might be awkward if they’re going to be stuck together on the same ship for 75 years.

No, Magnus had better wait and see if they can figure out exactly what Alec’s feelings are before they make an official move.

Alec’s buzzer sounds and without looking away from Magnus, Alec calls out, “Come in.”

The door to the room slides open and reveals Isabelle. Despite the fact that it’s only shortly after 0700 hours, and Magnus knows for a fact that Isabelle’s shift doesn’t start until 0800 (which Magnus knows because they personally wrote up the duty rosters and distributed them last night), she’s already dressed and looks ready to go.

“Good morning, Captain,” Isabelle says. “Commander.”

“Good morning, Isabelle,” Magnus says, smiling warmly at her.

Isabelle smirks at him. Starfleet protocol would normally require Magnus to address her either as Doctor, her official title, or Lieutenant, the Starfleet equivalent of her rank. But on the Maquis, no one had bothered with titles. Everyone had usually referred to each other by last name – although Magnus hadn’t known Isabelle’s true last name before, and had gotten used to calling her Trueblood.

“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Alec says, making Isabelle flash Magnus another smirk before she redirects her gaze to her brother. Magnus has to stifle a laugh as well – Alec addressing his sister by rank instead of her name, even when they’re alone, is hilarious.

“Alec, I have to tell you something, and…I’m not sure how you’re going to take it. Just try to stay calm, ok?”

“That’s a great start,” Alec mutters.

“I’m just going to say it: I’m pro Downworlder.”

“You’re a Downworlder?!” Alec gapes at her.

“No, but I support them.”

Alec sets the tablet down and gets up from his chair to put his hands on Isabelle’s shoulders. “Izzy, what are you saying? What were you really doing on the Maquis?”

“I was going to try to help them escape. Or try to persuade you to let them go.”

“Goddamnit, Izzy,” Alec sighs. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was? How badly it could have gone? If Jia Penhallow had found out –”

“But she didn’t. Everything’s fine now, Alec.”

“You can say that now, but you still took a huge risk that could’ve ended very badly! Do you have any idea how I would’ve felt seeing you locked up for treason? Or worse, what if Jia had done the same thing to you as she did to Luke, and lied to me about you being dead? Do you know how much that would’ve destroyed me?”

“I’m sorry,” Isabelle whispers. “I just had to do something, Alec. I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing.”

Alec sighs again, but this time Magnus thinks they hear a note of resignation in it. “I understand,” Alec murmurs, pulling Isabelle into a hug.

“You do?” Isabelle asks, sounding surprised. “You’re not mad? You’re not going to demote me or throw me in the brig for being a traitor?”

“Why would I do that? Neither of those things would be any help, and besides, I’m not punishing any Downworlders. We’re one crew now, remember?”

Magnus feels a swell of pride in their chest, pride that they see mirrored on Isabelle’s face. “Thanks, big brother. I knew I could count on you.”

“You always can,” he promises her, pressing a kiss to her temple.

“Well,” Isabelle says, withdrawing from his arms. “I should go. My shift starts in half an hour.”

“You’re off at 1700?”

“Yeah.”

“Meet for dinner in the mess hall right after?”

“Count on it,” Isabelle says, flashing him a smile, and then she’s out the door.

Alec clears his throat and then sits back down in his chair. There’s silence for a few seconds as Magnus studies him and Alec pretends (horribly) he doesn’t notice.

“You’re not like other captains, are you?” Magnus asks after a few more seconds.

They watch as an array of emotions play across Alec’s face. First he looks insulted, like he thinks Magnus has just implied something bad about him. Then he looks confused, as if he’s puzzling out the meaning of Magnus’ question. Finally Alec asks in an overly casual tone, “What do you mean by that?”

“Can I ask you a question?” Magnus asks instead of answering.

Alec nods.

“How do you really feel about Downworlders?”

Alec sets down his tablet. “Do you want the official Starfleet answer?”

“I already know the official Starfleet answer. I want to know your personal opinion.”

“I think the Downworlders’ reaction made perfect sense. What the Clave did was beyond disgusting. It was reprehensible and inhumane and I wanted to kill most of them with my bare hands.” Alec pauses and looks down at the tablet like he’s not really seeing it. “But I also think that as a Starfleet captain, I have certain principles to uphold. As a leader, I can’t always do what I personally want. I have to do what I think is best for the entire Federation. And I don’t want to encourage war. I want to eliminate it.”

“See?” Magnus says, smiling. “That’s why you’re not like other captains. You’re…much more open minded. You have a good heart.”

“I…I don’t really know what to say to that,” Alec answers.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Magnus tells him. They check their watch. “What time does your shift start?”

“0800,” Alec says with a sigh.

“Same as mine. We have 15 minutes left, what do you say we give the wormhole searching a rest and get some coffee?”

“That sounds great,” Alec agrees, and Magnus doesn’t think they’re imagining how closely Alec walks to them as they leave the room.

Chapter Text

“Do you mind if I sit here?” a familiar voice asks.

Aline looks up from her plate to see Helen standing on the other side of the table, holding her own plate loaded with food.

“Sure,” she says, flashing the other woman a small smile, which Helen returns before sitting down not on the opposite side of the table, but in the chair right next to Aline’s. Aline looks back down at her plate, hoping her blush isn’t too obvious.

The two of them had had several classes together during their senior year at the Academy, and Aline had harbored an enormous crush on Helen. She’d considered asking her out several times, but had never been able to summon the nerve. Then they’d been assigned to the same ship immediately after graduation, and now they were going to be on that same ship together for the next 75 years. It seemed like fate.

“Do you not like your food?” Helen asks after a few moments of silent eating – at least on her own part. Aline had mostly been pushing her food around on her plate.

“What? Oh, no, it’s…it’s fine. I’m just not that hungry, I guess. I have a lot on my mind.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Aline puts down her fork and looks back up at Helen, who’s watching her with an open, patient expression. “I guess…I’m just not entirely sure I deserve to be here.”

“You mean, stranded in the Delta Quadrant?”

“No, I mean on this ship. How often do recent Academy graduates get hand-picked for a galaxy class ship, and by Captain Lightwood himself? I’m just not sure I earned it. Especially considering who my mom is.”

“Admiral Jia Penhallow.”

“Yeah.”

“You know what I think? I think you kicked ass at the Academy. Your mom didn’t have anything to do with that. Your mom didn’t make you as gifted and talented as you are. You did that all on your own. You got the grades and the scores by yourself, and that’s what made you stand out to Captain Lightwood.”

“I…” Aline is struck speechless, not only at Helen’s kind words, but also at the implication behind them – that Helen had been paying attention to her.

“And I’m glad you’re here,” Helen continues. “You were a huge help to the Captain yesterday. If we’re going to survive out here, we’re going to need a talented pilot like you.”

Aline is pretty sure her face has to be on fire by now from how hard she is blushing. “Thanks. I, uh, that’s an awful lot of nice things to say to a stranger.”

“Oh, I don’t know if you’re a stranger, exactly. More like…the girl I’ve had a massive crush on for the past four years.”

It’s a good thing Aline has already set down her fork, otherwise she definitely would’ve dropped it in surprise. “You have?!”

“Of course I have.”

Aline pushes back her chair and rises to her feet. Offering her hand to Helen, she says, “Do you want to get out of here? Maybe go to the Holodeck?” The Holodeck is a computer simulation that the user can edit to their desire. The simulation can take you anywhere you want to go – a forest on Earth to hike through, a beach on Betazed, or a romantic dinner in 1920s Paris. It was the perfect place for a first date.

“I thought you’d never ask,” Helen says, beaming.

 

 

“We’re approaching our first M-class planet,” Clary announces.

It’s the following day and so far everything is running as smoothly as can be hoped. Alec had anticipated tension between his crew and the Downworlders, but Magnus and Luke seem to have everything well under control. Alec has observed them interacting with the Maquis crew and seen how much trust and respect they inspire. He only hopes he inspires the same in Voyager’s staff.

“Signs of life?” Alec asks. M-Class planets have similar environments to Earth and therefore also usually possess sentient life similar to that on Earth.

“The planet has ten continents and all ten of them show signs of humanoid life,” Clary confirms.

Alec is just about to give the order to open communication when Clary says, “Sir, they’re sending a distress signal.”

“On screen,” Alec instructs.

The view screen is taken over by an image of three humanoids. Even sitting down, they appear much smaller than humans, their skin is pink and scaly, and they have pale blue horns protruding from either side of their heads. However, they’re undeniably humanoid.

“This is Captain Alec Lightwood of the Federation starship Voyager,” Alec says. “We received your distress signal. How can we help you?”

“My name is B’K’al,” the humanoid on the left says. “Welcome to Faynos. I’m from the easternmost continent and we need your protection from the western continents.”

Alec waits as the universal translator embedded in his comm badge analyzes the patterns of B’K’al’s language and then translates it into English for him. Once the translator has successfully translated one sentence, it’s able to do so automatically, so that Alec and the rest of the bridge crew will hear everything B’K’al says in English, at almost the exact same time they speak in their own language.

“We’d be glad to help you,” Alec replies. “Why do you need protection?”

“Faynos has seven western continents and only three eastern ones,” B’K’al explains. “The western continents are more densely populated and they’re running out of certain resources – resources that our continents are still abundant with. We would have been glad to help them, but they never asked. They just invaded and started stealing from us. Anyone who tries to stand up to them is slaughtered.”

“We can be on your planet in ten minutes,” Alec tells B’K’al and their companions. “Please send us the exact coordinates of your present location.” He waits until Clary nods to him in confirmation, then nods to B’K’al. “Voyager out.”

Clary disables the view screen and Alec gets to his feet. “Magnus, Luke, and Clary, you’re with me. Clary, please alert Lieutenant Roberts that she is also requested for this mission. We’ll meet in the transport bay in ten minutes. Ensigns Blackthorn and Penhallow, you have the bridge until we return.”

“Yessir,” both Helen and Aline say simultaneously.

Alec nods to Magnus and Luke, who both follow him off the bridge, Clary splitting off to collect Maia. Ten minutes later the five of them are in the transport bay with Ollie, who sends their energy signatures from the transport bay down to the coordinates on the planet B’K’al had sent them.

“Captain Lightwood,” B’K’al greets him. “Thank you so much for coming. These are my associates, M’A’Shai and O’Sh’Ta.”

Alec introduces his crew and then B’K’al explains the situation in more detail. The eastern continents, due to being less heavily populated, still have enough natural resources, such as fresh water and forests, while the western continents are running dangerously low. B’K’al provides multiple examples of Westerners appearing and robbing farms, of swarming the forests and cutting down trees, and killing anyone who tries to protect their property.

“You’ve spoken with their leaders and assured them there is no need for force?”

“Many times,” B’K’al confirms. “They will not listen.”

“Lieutenant Roberts, take a look at these readings,” Alec says. “Is it your opinion that the western continents can salvage what resources they have left and reverse their situation? Or is assistance from the eastern continents necessary?”

Maia studies the readings over the next hour, while Alec, Magnus, and Luke discuss the situation further with B’K’al and come up with some possible treaties with the Westerners, should Maia’s readings prove negative.

“The situation is reversible,” Maia announces after some time. “After about 10 years, the Westerners should have enough of their natural resources back to sustain themselves.”

“That’s great news,” Luke says, “but that’s still a decade away, and until then, we need to stop them from robbing and attacking the eastern continents.”

“We need to set up a conference with the Western leaders,” Alec says.

“They won’t respond to an invitation,” M’A’Shai protests. “They never have.”

“Then what is your proposal?”

“We find the Westerners before they attack and stop them ourselves,” O’Sh’Ta declares.

Alec frowns. “I can’t condone that.”

“You said you would help us!” O’Sh’Ta cries.

“And I will. But I can’t condone attacking people without cause.”

“You have cause! They’re stealing from us! All you have to do is catch them in the act and you’ll have your proof.”

“I can’t do that,” Alec says firmly. “But we will go with you to meet the Western leaders in their offices, and we won’t leave until they’ve agreed to negotiate with us.”

“We could have done that on our own!” O’Sh’Ta fumes.

“Then why didn’t you do it on your own?” Luke asks.

“We couldn’t have done it on our own,” B’K’al interrupts, glaring at O’Sh’Ta. “The other leaders won’t listen to us. But if we bring you with us, and show that we have outside support, that will have to make a difference.”

“And we’ll gladly help you,” Alec promises. “Ensign Fray is an expert in contract negotiations,” he adds, nodding to her.

“Thank you,” B’K’al says fervently, reaching across the table to shake everyone’s hand. “Thank you so much.”

They spend some more time reviewing Maia’s data to make sure it’s as detailed as possible before B’K’al leads them to their transport bay.

“Have you visited their offices before?” Magnus asks. Alec looks over at them, unable to help himself from taking every opportunity to gaze at his first officer. Magnus is the most gorgeous person Alec has ever seen – not only because of their physical beauty, but because every time Magnus moves, it seems like a dance. Every time they speak, it sounds like music. Alec is constantly breathless in Magnus’ presence, but he doesn’t think he can be blamed for that.

He’d been a bit disappointed when Magnus had shown up for their first shift with no jewelry on. The makeup had stayed, but the jewelry was unfortunately against Starfleet regulations. Alec had already gotten used to his gaze straying to the gentle clinking of Magnus’ bracelets and necklaces whenever they moved, but now that that was all gone, Alec had to come up with other excuses for looking at them.

“We have, but we’ve never been able to get past security,” says M’A’Shai sourly.

“We’ll help with that,” says Alec, straightening the collar of his uniform as they step out of the transport bay, which has deposited them directly outside the offices.

“Excuse me, do you have an appointment?” one of the guards stationed outside the front door calls to them.

“No, but we don’t need one,” Alec says, striding toward them. “We’re here to talk to your bosses.”

“Without an appointment?” the guard snaps.

“We didn’t think making an appointment made any sense, considering that you’ve ignored all of our calls,” O’Sh’Ta snarls.

“We’re not leaving until you talk to us,” Luke adds, crossing his arms across his chest.

The guard looks at O’Sh’Ta. “What planet did you even find them on? They don’t look like they’re from around here.”

“We’re not, and since we have no nearby planet to return to, that means we can stick around here for ages,” Clary pipes up.

The guard sighs. “Fine. But don’t be surprised if they kick you out before you’re even over the threshold. They’re very busy.”

“Busy stealing and murdering, we know,” O’Sh’Ta elbows the guard as they pass, which Alec pretends not to see.

The secretary stationed outside the office door looks startled when their group marches past their desk, but their calls to stop! I said stop! Stop right now! Don’t you ignore me! go ignored. Alec gestures for everyone to wait while he knocks politely on the door (O’Sh’Ta in particular looks very disappointed that Alec didn’t kick it down).

“If that’s you, Shiraba, come on in,” a voice calls.

Sitting behind the desk is a Faynosian who looks very similar to B’K’al and their group. They’re surrounded by six other Faynosians, who Alec can only assume are the leaders of the seven western continents. He notices a few security guards lining the walls and eyes them warily, but they make no move toward him or his companions, so he returns his gaze to the Faynosian behind the desk.

“You’re not Shiraba,” says the same voice that had just spoken. They gape at Alec. “Who are you?”

“I’m Captain Alec Lightwood of the Federation starship Voyager, and this is my crew. We’re here to discuss the theft and murder your citizens are wreaking on the eastern continents.”

“Federation?” the Faynosian repeats. “I’ve never heard of you.”

“We’re from the other side of the galaxy,” Alec explains. “We were passing by your planet on our way home when we received B’K’al’s distress signal.”

“Distress signal? I have no idea what distress you could be referring to,” the Faynosian says with a little laugh that makes the hair on the back of Alec’s neck stand up. “This theft and murder you claim to know of is simply a fabrication on their part.” They point at B’K’al.

“We’ve seen the reports,” Alec replies. “We’ve analyzed the data. There’s no need to lie to us. We’re here to negotiate with you.”

“Negotiate? Do you know who I am? I am Mashtakesh! I am the leader of this continent, the largest and wealthiest continent on this entire planet! I don’t have to listen to you, some jumped-up alien foreigner who just flew by and stopped to listen to the first piece of trash who would spew filthy lies at them!”

“Please calm down,” Alec says. “We’re not here for a fight. We just want to sit down and have a mature conversation with you.”

“I am not having a conversation with someone who associates with garbage,” Mashtakesh seethes. And before Alec can react, they snap their fingers at the guards, who grab Clary and Maia.

Luke lunges forward, panic on his face, and gets knocked to the ground. Apparently this species is a lot stronger than they appear. Alec looks back at Mashtakesh. “You don’t need to do this. Let us just talk with each other. We can come up with a plan that benefits everyone. My science officer, Maia –” he nods to her – “she came up with some plans that will help your people restore your natural resources. If you just listen to us –”

There’s suddenly a scream from behind him. Alec whirls around to see Clary crumpling to the ground, bleeding profusely from a gash along her collarbone.

“What happened?!” Luke yells.

“She was fighting back,” the guard who’d been holding her says, as simply as if they’re describing the weather.

Seeing the rage forming on Luke’s face, Alec turns back to Mashtakesh. “You will talk to us. You will let Luke and Clary transport back to our ship so she can receive medical attention, and then you will sit down with us and negotiate with us until this matter is settled.”

Alec isn’t sure what Mashtakesh sees on his face. Their guards have already proved to be strong enough to overpower his crew – Mashtakesh could simply order them all to be executed and wipe their hands off this whole mess. But maybe Mashtakesh does have a conscience after all, because after several tense seconds, they sigh and nod.

Alec gestures to Luke, who bends down to carefully scoop Clary up from the ground. The second she’s secured in his arms, Luke taps the comm badge on his chest. “Garroway to Voyager. Two to beam up, directly to sick bay.”

“Acknowledged,” Ollie’s voice says. Alec watches as Luke’s image shimmers out of view, Clary’s along with his. Then he turns back to Mashtakesh. “Let’s talk.”

 

The negotiations take hours. Mashtakesh argues with their suggestions at every opportunity, and their six other associates are no better. Worse, every time one of them makes an argument, O’Sh’Ta and M’A’Shai fire back with insults, which only delays the process even further. Alec is immensely grateful for Magnus’ presence – they’re like a calming force at Alec’s side, offering reasonable advice and suggestions that keep Alec in check.

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the negotiations draw to a close. B’K’al, who had drafted the contracts, passes them around for everyone’s signature.

“As the contract says, each eastern continent will provide you with 30% of our resources per year. In return, the western continents will provide us with financial assistance.”

“Seven continents being forced to pay for three seems highly unfair,” Mashtakesh mumbles.

“Seven continents teaming up to rob and murder three continents also seems highly unfair to me,” B’K’al snaps. It’s the first time they’ve lost their temper all day, and the uncharacteristic gesture seems to startle everyone into quieting down.

“This was a successful meeting,” Alec says once everyone has signed. “This shows why negotiation is always preferable to brute force. Communication and cooperation should always be the first option considered, not violence and coercion. I hope this is a learning point for you,” he adds, directing his gaze to Mashtakesh.

Mashtakesh stiffens. “Your constant attempts to villanize me are not appreciated.”

“You not only condoned the robbery and cold-blooded murder of innocent people, but you personally organized it,” Alec tells them. “You should use your power to help people, not to put them in danger. That’s your job as a leader.”

“We had run out of resources!” one of the other leaders – Orrobek, Alec thinks they’re called – cries. “It was an emergency! What else were we supposed to do?!”

“You could have come to us at any time,” B’K’al tells them. “We would have been glad to help you.”

“There wasn’t time,” Orrobek argues.

“But there was time to murder innocent people?”

“They resisted! They should have understood our situation!”

“They were protecting their property,” Magnus interrupts. “Most of those people weren’t well to do. They earned modest wages, and you tried to steal what they’d worked hard for and devoted their lives to. Of course they resisted. And you slaughtered them.”

There’s a nasty silence following Magnus’ statement. Alec can see regret starting to form on some of the leaders’ faces and clenches his jaw against the disgust he feels rising in him, at the idea that they couldn’t see what they were doing was wrong until someone else spelled it out for them.

He swallows against the anger he feels before it has the chance to show on his face. He has to be impartial here.

“If you need us to, we can orbit the planet for a few days to make sure they hold to their word,” Alec tells B’K’al.

B’K’al glances over at Mashtakesh, whose skin has visibly paled at the idea.

“That won’t be necessary,” B’K’al says with a satisfied smirk.

The contracts are discussed one more time, then Maia reviews her research forecasts with the Western leaders once again. “You’re free to keep this data,” Maia tells them, handing the tablet over. “And if you have any questions, B’K’al will be happy to help you, I’m sure. They created the original data I based my research on.”

Orrobek in particular looks sour at that idea, but they say nothing in protest. Alec and his crew stand to leave, closely followed by the Eastern leaders.

“I’m sure you’ll be wanting to return to your ship as soon as possible,” B’K’al says as they step into the transport bay. “But we can’t thank you enough for what you did. We’ve been sending out a distress call for weeks, but your ship was the first to answer it.”

“Of course, we were glad to help,” Alec responds.

B’K’al opens to their mouth to reply, but something else captures their attention; they suddenly press a hand to their ear, frowning.

“Is everything ok?” Alec asks.

B’K’al shakes their head. “I’ve just been notified of another massacre, on M’A’Shai’s planet. It took place while we were working out the negotiations.”

 

 

 

“Should I report to the bridge, sir?” Maia asks as they walk out of the transport bay back on Voyager. “Or to the conference room for a debriefing?”

Alec glances out of the corner of his eye over to Magnus. Magnus hasn’t said a word to him since they heard about the massacre. Granted, it’s only been ten minutes since then, but they’ve been a long ten minutes. Alec isn’t used to Magnus being quiet around him and actually finds it unnerving.

“The debriefing will take place later,” he tells Maia. “I need to go check on Clary. Magnus, would you care to accompany me?”

“Sure,” Magnus says. Their voice is clipped and Alec winces upon hearing it. He’s not sure why, but Magnus is clearly angry with him.

“Are you ok?” he asks.

Magnus gives him an incredulous look. “Is that a legitimate question?”

Alec comes to a halt, Magnus copying him. “Yes. What’s wrong?”

“Fifty people were slaughtered today, that’s what’s wrong! Fifteen of them were children. How are you not bothered?”

“I am bothered,” Alec argues. “But it was out of my control.”

“Out of your control? How can you say that?! We could have stopped it if we’d followed O’Sh’Ta’s advice and confronted those people directly!”

“You know we couldn’t have done that. The Prime Directive doesn’t allow –”

“Are you actually capable of thinking on your own or do you always have to reference the Prime Directive?”

“The Prime Directive was created for a reason,” Alec reminds them. “To keep humans in check. You know what our ancestors were like. They involved themselves in everyone else’s business, usually by convincing themselves they were doing so for the greater good, that they were helping…but all they did is cause destruction. The Prime Directive prevents us from repeating the mistakes of our ancestors.”

“Your ancestors,” says Magnus coolly.

“What?” Alec asks, utterly nonplussed.

Your ancestors,” Magnus repeats. “Your ancestors invaded other nations and forced their good intentions on my ancestors. You don’t need to lecture me about a law that was created to ease your ancestors’ guilty conscience.”

“I – Magnus – no, you’re misunderstanding me. I’m not excusing or condoning anything, not what happened with our ancestors and not what happened today. I’m just saying, what else could we have done today? We followed Starfleet procedure. We did a good thing and helped people.”

“And while we sat in a room with mass murderers arguing about contracts, fifty innocent people, including children, were slaughtered. Those were deaths we could have prevented, if we hadn’t followed your precious procedure.”

“How could we have prevented those deaths?” Alec asks, beginning to lose his temper despite himself. “We had no idea where it was going to happen. The planet has ten continents, Magnus! We could have gone to the wrong continent, we could have been too late to stop the killings, or it could’ve been that we would’ve been overpowered and unable to stop them. You’re – you’re being idealistic. I understand where you’re coming from, but you’re not thinking practically. Real life can’t always be the same way you imagine in your perfect idea of the world.”

He realizes his words were a mistake the second they leave his mouth. Magnus goes rigid and their face goes carefully, awfully blank. It’s like all signs of life, of warmth, that had previously existed on Magnus’ person disappear – or worse, it’s like they’re deliberately shielding them from Alec.

“I see,” Magnus says quietly. “Well. I don’t want to bother you with my idealistic delusions. If you’ll give me permission, sir, I’d like to return to my quarters, where I can’t bother anyone.”

“Magnus, please, that’s not what I –”

“May I be excused, please? Sir?” Magnus interrupts, their voice stiff.

Alec sighs. “Yes, you may.”

Magnus turns sharply on their heel and begin to march away. After a few feet, they abruptly stop and, without looking back, mutter toward the carpet, “I thought you were different from other captains. But you’re a puppet just like the rest.”

Alec feels Magnus’ parting words like a stab to the gut. He stands in the hallway, completely immobile, and stares at the empty space Magnus had left for several long moments, unable to make himself move. He stares unseeingly at the floor while Magnus’ words chase themselves around in his mind over and over: you’re a puppet just like the rest. You’re a puppet. You’re a puppet…

He remembers when Magnus had told him he wasn’t like other captains, remembers the soft smile on Magnus’ face and how his whole body had flooded with warmth at the compliment, feels that warmth replaced by cold now. He and Magnus have only known each other for two days, but they’ve always talked to one another like friends, rather than boss and subordinate, and the idea that he’s disappointed his friend – the only friend besides Izzy that he has in the entire galaxy – fills him with despair. It doesn’t matter that it’s only been two days. Out here in the Delpha Quadrant, he has hardly anything, and now he feels like he’s lost something precious. 

 

 

Isabelle is analyzing samples she’d taken from Catarina earlier that day when Luke and Clary abruptly materialize in front of her. Luke is cradling Clary in her arms, and Clary has a bloody hand pressed to her equally bloody collarbone.

Isabelle jumps to her feet. “Lay her on that bed,” she instructs, and Luke complies immediately. He lays Clary down and then moves out of Isabelle’s way without her having to tell him. Isabelle presses close to Clary, lifting her medical tricorder, which takes internal scans that confirms Clary isn’t bleeding internally.

Reassured on that front, Isabelle replaces her tricorder with her hypospray, which she holds up to Clary’s neck to inject medicine directly into her bloodstream. Within seconds, the wound stops bleeding and the pain disappears from Clary’s face. Isabelle swipes her tricorder briefly over Clary’s throat and the dried blood gathered there vanishes as well.

“How are you feeling?” Isabelle asks, using the tricorder to take internal scans again.

“Much better,” Clary says. “Thank you.”

Isabelle consults the scans. “According to these readings, you’re good to go. No major arteries were hit and all bleeding has stopped.”

“Thank you,” Clary repeats.

“What happened, anyway?” Isabelle asks, glancing at Luke.

“We went to talk to the Western leaders and their guards weren’t very friendly,” Luke says, stroking a hand through Clary’s hair. “Clary here fought back against the guard who tried to restrain her and he stabbed her. You sure you’re ok, kiddo?” he adds, looking down at her.

“I’m feeling great,” Clary assures him. “Thanks to Dr. Lightwood here.”

For some reason, hearing Clary address her as Doctor has Isabelle feeling a bit flustered. “Please,” she protests, praying she’s not visibly blushing, “you can just call me Isabelle.”

Out of the corner of his eye, she sees Luke raise an eyebrow and curses herself.

“If you’re sure you’re ok, kiddo, I should get back to the Captain and see if he wants a debriefing,” Luke says to Clary. “When can she be released?” He directs that question at Isabelle.

“She can go now if she likes,” Isabelle replies, “although I’d like her to report to me in another 12 hours so I can do a follow-up exam.”

“Great,” says Luke. He presses a kiss to Clary’s temple and departs. Isabelle chances a glance upward at Clary to see the other woman staring at her unashamedly.

“Forgive me, but I can barely believe you’re already the chief medical officer at your age,” Clary says. “You can’t be more than a few years older than me.”

“I’m 26.”

“Exactly. And I’m 22 and barely an ensign. That’s very impressive.”

“Well…I did start at the Academy when I was 16, just like my brother did. So I’d already graduated at 20. Then I did three years of medical school, followed by three years of residency on the starship Alec was commander of at the time. I just finished with that a few months ago.”

“I can’t imagine having started at the Academy when I was only 16,” Clary says musingly. “Did you actually want to do that? Or was it more of a pressure thing from your parents?”

Isabelle smirks at her. “Do you always interrogate your doctor like they’re the patient instead of you?”

Clary grins. “I can’t be blamed if said doctor is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.”

One of?” Isabelle repeats, arching an eyebrow.

“Maia is also on this ship,” Clary explains.

“Oh, right. Maia is wonderful,” Isabelle agrees.

There’s a beat where they both just stare at one another. Isabelle is the first to break it. “It wasn’t really a pressure thing, at least not for me. I think maybe for Alec it was, at least in the beginning, but I think he’s happy about it now.”

“You and Alec are pretty close,” Clary observes.

“Very. He’s my best friend in the entire world. Even though he’s 9 years older than me, he never treated me like I was his annoying kid sister or anything like that. He always made me feel important, you know? I was only 7 when he left for the Academy. It was weird when he first left, because no one had ever started at the Academy that early.

“I mean, it’s not like it was forbidden to start at 16. There was no rule against it or anything. It’s just that most applicants didn’t finish their regular schooling until they were 17, and then the preparation for the entrance exams usually takes a year…but Alec finished his schooling early and then took the entrance exams without any preparation. I didn’t really understand what was going on when he left, but he made sure to come home and visit me every single chance he got.”

“That’s sweet,” Clary says, smiling.

“Yeah. He always tried to take such good care of me. He visited once when I was fifteen and found out our parents were planning on me following in his footsteps. He got really upset and made me swear to him this is something I wanted and wasn’t being forced into. I promised him I wanted it and then after that he was really supportive. He started visiting me at the Academy on a regular basis and helped me study for exams and everything. Everyone he’s ever worked with has complained about how difficult it is to get Alec to take vacations, but any time I needed him? He was there. He took the entire week before my MCATs off just so he could help me study.”

“That’s amazing,” Clary murmurs. “He reminds me of Luke. We’re both really lucky to have been raised with such great people in our lives.”

“We are,” Isabelle says. “And to be honest…I’m not that upset about us being stuck in the Delpha Quadrant. As long as Alec is here, there’s not much else I need.”

“I feel the same way about Luke. And Maia’s been really welcoming to me so far…and now that I know I have a great doctor like you around, I feel all set.”

“If all my patients are as great as you, I don’t have anything to complain about either,” Isabelle says with a smirk.

“Well…I should probably go tell the Captain that I’m ok,” Clary says after another moment of them simply staring at each other.

“Ok,” Isabelle says, and then, when Clary has slid off the bed and is already halfway across the room, she calls to her: “Hey….Maia and I are meeting in the mess hall tonight at 1700 if you want to join us for dinner.”

Clary smiles at Isabelle over her shoulder. “I’d like that.”

 

 

“I think you’re overexaggerating,” Dot announces.

Magnus scowls at her. “I am not. He called me an idealist.”

Dot gives them an unimpressed look. “And?”

And he said my political opinions were unrealistic and inapplicable to ‘the real world’. He was basically telling me I’m a stupid child who doesn’t understand how the adult world works.”

“I don’t think that’s what he meant, Magnus,” Catarina tells them, adjusting the magnification of the star chart she’s looking at.

“Then what did he mean?” Magnus counters. They can’t believe their friends are being so uncooperative. They’d come to the astrophysics lab to complain to their two best friends about the bad mood they were in, and said friends had done nothing but tell them that they were being a brat (not that they’d actually used that word, but Magnus can read between the lines).

“I think Alec has been involved in Starfleet his entire life, from the time he was a small child accompanying his parents on their assignments, and he’s been educated with Starfleet ideals since he was a teenager. He’s always going to think like a soldier, because that’s what he is.” Catarina gestures for her wife to come closer and Dot does so, studying the chart Catarina has pulled up for a few moments before tapping a spot in the upper left corner. “Concentrate here,” Dot recommends.

To Magnus, she says, “You, however, didn’t grow up with Starfleet. You joined at 18 because you followed me there –”

“I did not –”

“You followed me there,” Dot repeats, raising her voice to speak over them, “and you weren’t even sure the first couple of years you were there that you wanted to stay. So your viewpoint of Starfleet is completely different from his. And besides, you know that Starfleet isn’t all bad, not really. Starfleet was founded on good principles and the Prime Directive isn’t a pointless law. It was created with good intentions and you shouldn’t ignore that just because you’re angry.”

“You two are Downworlders!” Magnus cries, unable to believe what they’re hearing. “The both of you were just as furious when you found out what the Clave were doing, and that the Federation was sweeping it under the rug!”

“Of course we were,” Catarina interrupts. “But just because we disagreed with the Federation on this doesn’t mean the Prime Directive is wholly wrong. Would you rather that Starfleet abandons it? Would you rather that they go back to involving themselves in every alien dispute, even when they’re not wanted? The point is, Alec has good intentions, you know that. He tried his best and sometimes that’s all you can ask of people. He’s a human man, he’s not perfect.”

“And I think you’re angry because he disappointed you,” Dot adds. “You were thinking of him as more of a friend than your captain, and then he hurt your feelings, and you took it personally.”

“Because you have a massive crush on him,” Catarina teases.

Magnus scowls again. “My crush on Alexander is well established, there’s no need to tease.”

Before either of their friends can respond, the door opens behind them and Alec walks in. “Hello Lieutenant Commander Loss, Lieutenant Commander Rollins. Commander.”

Magnus winces. They don’t like Alec addressing them as Commander instead of Magnus, like they’ve gotten used to over the past couple of days. It seems incredibly impersonal, and they hate it.

“Good afternoon, Captain,” Catarina replies. “Can we help you with something?”

“Actually, I’m here for Magnus. When I couldn’t find them in their quarters, I asked the ship’s computer where they were, and was told I could find them here.”

Alec probably wants Magnus to accompany him to the mission debriefing, Magnus thinks, although why he came here to collect Magnus in person instead of just contacting them via comm badge, Magnus isn’t sure.

“May I talk to you, Commander? In private?” Alec asks.

“Of course,” Magnus says, a little startled because now it doesn’t seem like this is about a mission debriefing. They follow Alec into the relative privacy of the hallway, hoping their nerves aren’t showing too clearly on their face. Based on Alec’s brusque tone earlier, they’re sure Alec is about to dress them down or even demote them.

“I’d like to apologize to you,” Alec says. “About what happened before. The way I talked to you earlier was really uncalled for.”

Magnus blinks. That was absolutely the last thing they’d been expecting to hear. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that I’m sorry for the way I treated you. You’re – well, first of all, you’re my first officer, and I respect you and value your input. Second of all – and I hope this isn’t out of line, but I consider you to be a friend and confidant as well, and you don’t talk to friends the way I talked to you.

“I want to be honest with you, Magnus. I wish I could have prevented those deaths. I wish I could’ve listened to O’Sh’Ta’s advice and confronted those vicious murderers directly.” He sighs, and Magnus watches him closely, noticing the shift in his posture – when they’d first entered the hallway, Alec had stood with his hands behind his back, his feet planted apart – the standard military pose. Now he relaxes, his posture becoming more opening. He moves closer to Magnus, meeting his gaze directly as he speaks.

“But I don’t want to lie to you, and so here’s the truth. As much as I wish I could have done that, I still stand by my choice today. We really had no way of knowing where that attack was going to happen. We might have gone to the wrong place and missed the massacre entirely. We might have found the right place but been outnumbered, or we might have accidentally caused civilian casualties. And I can’t have that on my conscience. The choice I made – the negotiations – that was the safest option I could think of, and I wouldn’t change it. That doesn’t mean I’m not broken up by what happened.”

Magnus crosses their arms across their chest. “Well, Alexander…thank you for being honest with me. I appreciate it. And I know what you mean. Those deaths just hit me hard. I can’t stop thinking about them. About the children. It reminded me of being in the Downworlders, when I first found out about the atrocities on Bajor. Like everything I worked for meant nothing.”

“Hey.” Alec suddenly steps close and places his hands on Magnus’ shoulders. “It’s not for nothing. You’re amazing. You care so much and you fight for what you care about. That’s really admirable. And the next time something like this happens, talk to me, all right? And we’ll figure it out together.”

Magnus stares into Alec’s eyes, at the earnest expression on his face, feels the firm but gentle pressure of Alec’s grip on their shoulders and feels themselves relax for the first time since they came to this planet.

“Thank you, Alexander. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry too. You’re not a puppet. Not at all. I’ve never had a captain before who would seek me out and talk to me this openly. You’re one of a kind.”

They watch a small, happy little smile blossom on Alec’s face. “Thanks, Magnus,” he murmurs. “So are you.” He gives Magnus’ shoulders a soft squeeze. “Are we good?” he asks, his voice still soft and intimate, and Magnus doesn’t think they can be blamed for the hitch in their breathing. Magnus has served under multiple captains, but they’ve never had a captain who seeks them out to apologize for doing what captains do – taking charge. They’ve never had a captain who cares so much about their opinions, who feels the need to ask if things are ok between them.

Magnus suddenly very, very much wants to kiss Alec – and since they can read Alec like a book, they can tell Alec wants it too. They watch Alec carefully, not sure if Alec is actually going to do it or not.

“Astrophysics to Captain Lightwood,” Dot’s voice suddenly blasts through Alec’s comm badge.

Alec immediately snaps to attention. “Go ahead, Lieutenant Commander.”

“We’re approaching an M class planet,” Dot informs him. “It’s less than a light year away.”

“ETA?”

“Less than a day. Captain, that’s not all.”

“Go ahead, Lieutenant Commander.”

“The planet is inhabited by humans, sir.”

“What kind of humanoids?” Alec asks.

“Not humanoids, sir. They’re humans. It’s a planet inhabited by humans.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Send out a standard greeting,” Alec instructs Clary, “in all languages and frequencies.”

Clary nods and does so. Alec waits and, a moment later, Clary looks up at him. “Incoming message, sir.”

“On screen.”

“This is Annabelle DuBois of Earth II,” the woman on the screen says. “How may we help you?”

“With your permission, we would love to visit your planet,” Alec says. “We were rather stunned – to say the least – to find a colony of humans here in the Delta Quadrant.”

“Then we have quite a story to tell you, Captain,” Annabelle replies, sounding amused. “We’ll send you the coordinates for you to beam to.”

The screen goes black as Annabelle disconnects the communication. Alec turns back to the bridge. “Magnus, Luke, Helen, and Aline, you’re with me. We’ll also bring Maia and Isabelle. Ensign Fray, you have the bridge.”

Alec calls Maia and Isabelle on the way down to the transport bay. Once there, Sam, Ollie’s wife and co-head engineer, transports their group down to the planet.

They arrive inside a transport bay that looks similar to the one they’d just left behind. Anabelle is standing there waiting for them, accompanied by three other humans. Alec can’t deny the amazement he feels as he takes the four of them in – they’re fellow humans, just like him and his crew. He didn’t think he’d ever see humans outside of his crew again, had actually been assuming that he would die on Voyager, so seeing so many humans waiting for him is a little mind boggling.

“Captain,” Annabelle says, stepping forward to shake his hand. “Welcome to Earth II. First, would you like a tour?”

“Please,” Magnus says. “And tell us, how long have you been there?”

“Our ancestors came here from Earth in 2225,” Annabelle says as she leads their group outside.

“So 150 years ago,” Magnus translates.

“Yes. They were attacked by some Klingons and there was some kind of malfunction with their warp core, an explosion of some kind, that blasted them into the Delta Quadrant. They were a big ship, of about 150 people, and they decided almost right away that they’d rather find a planet here to live on then try to make it back home. And now, here we are, over 3,000 people and growing.”

“That’s incredible,” Luke says. “That’s really an impressive accomplishment.”

“The planet was empty when they arrived,” Annabelle says as she leads them outside. “They built everything you see here today.”

Alec literally gasps, and he isn’t the only one. If he hadn’t known any better, he’d have thought he was on Earth. Everything – the architecture, the crafts flying in the sky, the trains racing around the tracks above their heads – everything reminds him of Earth. The people walking around are a striking similarity as well – their clothing, their speech – is a reminder.

“You never had any interest in returning to the Alpha Quadrant?” Luke asks.

“Why would we?” Annabelle responds. “This is our home. None of the people living here today have been to Earth.”

She leads them around for hours, showing them important landmarks, explaining their natural resources, their commerce system, their economy, their technology – everything.

“You really have built an entire life for yourselves here,” Maia says. “Or at least, your ancestors did.”

“They didn’t want to waste their lives away in a ship trying to get back to Earth,” Annabelle agrees. “No offense…” she adds hastily, darting a quick, nervous look at Alec.

“No problem,” Alec assures her. “I can understand why your ancestors decided to stay here. They really accomplished something amazing, probably with very limited resources in the beginning.”

“You’re welcome to stay as long as you want,” Annabelle tells them.

“Thank you,” Alec, Magnus, and everyone else chorus simultaneously.

“I have to check in with my colleagues,” Annabelle says, “but please, feel free to look around, and if you have any questions, ask anyone you see and they’ll be glad to assist you all.” She waves goodbye and departs, leaving the Voyager crew standing together in a place that looks just like home.

 

 

“Oh my gosh,” Helen gasps. “Look. Peaches.”

“What about them? We have peaches on the ship,” Aline says, amused.

“Those are synthetic,” Helen protests. “I haven’t had real food since the last time I was home at my mom’s house. Which was right before final exams.”

“You’re not going to stay on this planet just for the authentic peaches, are you?” Aline asks, still mostly joking, but with an apparently audible note of seriousness in her tone, because Helen looks up from the peach she’d just accepted from the vendor and frowns at her.

“Stay on the planet? Why would I do that?”

“It’s just like Earth,” Aline points out. “I’m assuming the Captain will give everyone the option to stay here.”

“You think so? I mean, he’s the Captain, he makes the orders.”

“Our entire mission is to get back to Earth. Now we found a planet just like Earth, and we don’t have to travel three-quarters of a century to reach it. Of course lots of the crew will want to stay here.”

Helen is silent for several seconds. Then she turns to the vendor and asks for another peach, which she hands to Aline. “You’d better enjoy that while it lasts, because it won’t taste the same once we’re back on the ship.”

Aline’s eyes widen. “You’re not –”

“Of course I’m not staying on the planet,” Helen interrupts. “I have a duty to the Captain and I’m not going to give up on that. And I’m not going to leave you. Not when we’ve only been on one date so far.”

“Well….” Aline says, smiling as she bites into the peach. “This is our second date – I mean, if you want it to be.”

“Of course I want it to be.” Helen nods to the peach. “How is it?”

“It tastes amazing,” Aline admits. “Maybe we could take a couple more with us to eat while we walk?”

Helen smiles and turns back to the vendor.

 

 

“God, this is amazing,” Isabelle murmurs. “I love the beach so much.”

“You’ve mentioned that a few times already,” Maia says, amused. “When’s the last time you had the chance to visit one?”

“Hmm…three years ago, right before I started my residency. I haven’t had much time since then.”

“Well, you look great,” Maia says appreciatively, looking up and down Isabelle’s body. “I’m so glad we were able to get bikinis our size at that shop.”

“You’re telling me. You look incredible too.” Isabelle rolls over to face Maia, who tilts up her face for a kiss.

“You’re getting sand in my hair,” Isabelle laughs when Maia raises one hand to cup the back of Isabelle’s head.

“Are you saying you want me to stop?” Maia counters.

“Don’t you dare.”

They kiss for several long minutes, until Isabelle pulls back. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Are you going to stay here on the planet if Alec offers?”

Maia pulls Isabelle back down onto the sand so they’re facing each other. “No, I’m not.”

Isabelle’s surprise is obvious. “You’re not? But I thought…the chance to live on a planet like Earth where you won’t be accused of treason….”

“It crossed my mind, if you want me to be completely honest,” Maia replies. “But then I thought about it, and…I know Magnus and Luke won’t leave. As much as they hated Starfleet, they’re still born leaders, and they could never abandon that. And if Magnus and Luke are staying, then so am I. Besides,” she adds, when she notices Isabelle dipping her head to hide her expression, “I know you and Clary won’t leave as long as Alec and Luke are still on board, and if you and Clary are on Voyager, then so am I.”

Isabelle looks back up, a smile slowly spreading across her face. “Yeah?”

“Of course. I thought I’d made my feelings toward you perfectly clear by now,” Maia says, smiling, before she presses a kiss to Isabelle’s temple. “I just wish Clary were here to enjoy the beach with us.”

“We’ll take her to a beach on the Holodeck,” Isabelle says, holding out her hand for Maia to take. Maia smiles again and entwines their fingers, settling back down into the sand with a happy sigh.

 

 

“What’s got you down, Captain?” Luke asks.

“Nothing, Commander,” Alec replies without looking at him. “I’m fine.”

Luke waits only a few seconds before asking, “Permission to speak freely, sir?”

Alec looks at him this time. “Permission granted.”

“Everyone else from the crew looks like they’re having a great time here,” Luke says. “Yet you look miserable. Is that just because you think that as the captain you’re not allowed to have fun, or…?”

“Do you want the honest answer?” Alec asks.

“Yessir.”

“First of all, you don’t have to call me sir when we’re having a private conversation,” Alec says, raising an eyebrow at him. “You’re older than me.”

Luke has to chuckle at that. “Sure. So, Alec, why the long face?”

“Well, you already said it. Everyone’s having a great time here. On a planet that looks just like Earth. So I’m thinking, a lot of the crew are going to want to stay here.”

“Stay here?” Luke repeats, not really understanding what he’s hearing. “Why would they stay here?”

“I have to give them that choice, Commander – Luke,” he amends when Luke raises an eyebrow at him in return. “I can’t deny them an opportunity like this.”

“You could. You’re the captain. You give the orders and the crew follows them. If you didn’t mention the possibility of staying here, you know no one would dare to ask.”

“I don’t want to be a captain people are afraid to talk to,” Alec says, shaking his head. “I can’t deny them at least the option. It wouldn’t be right.”

Luke stays silent for several seconds, thinking over the best way to continue the conversation. “We could all stay,” he suggests. “Getting back to Earth is our whole mission, so – this is the next best thing, and with the added bonus of not having to travel nearly a century to reach our destination. And if we all stayed, then you wouldn’t have to make a difficult choice.”

Alec looks at him. “Do you want to stay here?”

Once again, Luke doesn’t answer right away. He slowly tips his head back to look at the sky, his thoughts automatically straying to Clary, even though Voyager is too far away to see from here. Then he glances out toward the beach, where he’d seen Maia heading either with Isabelle in tow. He thinks about the very likely possibility that he’ll die on Voyager if they can’t find a way to make it home sooner, and then he imagines what he’d be returning to on Earth if they did find manage to find a shortcut home. Finally, he looks around himself, at the sight of his crewmates mingling with the local population, at the happiness on their faces, at the sound of their laughter.

“No,” he answers, returning his gaze to Alec. “If there’s any chance we can make it back to Earth in less time than 75 years, then I have to do it. Even if it makes being convicted of treason. I’d rather go to prison for doing the right thing then stay here on this planet and be happy while my brothers and sisters in the Downworld are still suffering. While Bajorans may still be suffering, despite the Clave’s claims that they’re not hurting them anymore.”

“That’s what I’d thought you say,” Alec says, a small smile twitching the corners of his mouth, before it gives away to a sigh. “And I agree. I can’t stay here and if you can’t either, that means Voyager has to continue on, and if we do that, then we have to offer the crew a choice.”

Luke follows Alec’s gaze and isn’t surprised to see the captain staring at Magnus, who’s currently deep in conversation with a vendor selling pottery. The vendor is a stunning woman and the conversation they’re having has them both laughing constantly. Luke knows Magnus extremely well by now and he honestly doesn’t think Magnus is flirting with the vendor, nor does he think the expression on Alec’s face is jealousy per se.

Rather, Alec simply looks conflicted, as if he has so many thoughts weighing him down that he can’t even begin to sort through them. Luke doesn’t envy him one bit, and not for the first time, he’s glad he’s not the captain.

“C’mon, man,” he says, tugging on Alec’s arm. “While we’re still being causal with each other, let me get you a drink. You sure look like you could use one.”

Alec’s smile is small and barely present, but still seems genuine. “Sure,” he agrees. “Lead the way.”  

 

 

“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Alec says.

Everyone turns to look at him. He swallows hard to prepare himself. “I know everyone who had a chance to visit Earth II really enjoyed themselves. So.” He swallows again. “If anyone would like to resign their commission on Voyager and stay on Earth II, then…you have my permission and my blessing. Anyone who wishes to stay on the planet should be present in the transport bay at 1800 hours. Dismissed.”

There’s complete silence meeting his speech, followed almost immediately by a swell of chatter. Alec catches sight of Magnus standing a few feet away, staring right at him, and quickly glances away. The idea that Magnus might stay on the planet sounds like torture to him, and unfortunately, he’s terrified that this might happen. He’d seen how Magnus had acted on the planet. He’d looked happy and free, in a way Alec had never seen them act on the ship.

“Hey, big brother. There something you want to talk about?”

Alec turns and sees Isabelle standing next to him. “Nope,” he replies, looking away from her again.

“Come on.” Isabelle tugs on Alec’s arm to pull him into his ready room. Once inside, she pushes him down into his chair and then perches next to him on the edge of the desk. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Alec mumbles.

“Tough. Tell me.”

Alec sighs and scrubs his hands over his face. “I’m worried about how many people might decide to stay on Earth II. Especially –”

“Magnus?” Isabelle interrupts.

“You said that, not me,” Alec starts to protest, but the words die in his throat at Isabelle’s knowing look.

“Ok, fine. I’m worried Magnus might stay. They have good reason to. On Earth II they’re not wanted for treason.”

“Look, Alec, I can’t promise that Magnus will stay on Voyager. I can’t promise that anyone will. But if Magnus does want to remain on the planet, you can tell them how you feel. Chances are, knowing how you feel might change their mind.”

“I don’t want to try to influence Magnus’ decision,” Alec says, frowning. “I don’t want to manipulate them, even unintentionally.”

“Telling someone how you feel isn’t manipulating them,” Isabelle disagrees. “They deserve to know something like that.”

“Fine, I guess you’re right,” Alec says with another sigh. “At least I know for a fact you’re staying.”

“Of course I am, if you are,” Isabelle says. “And so are my girlfriends.”

“Girlfriends, plural?” Alec asks. “I thought it was just you and Maia.”

“Well, ever since Clary showed up in sick bay and flirted outrageously with me, it’s girlfriends, plural,” Isabelle says, beaming. “All three of us went out to dinner that night and really hit it off.”

“That’s great, Iz,” Alec tells her, smiling. “I’m really glad to hear that. You really deserve that kind of happiness.”

“And so do you,” Isabelle says, hopping off the desk and pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “Just think about what I said, ok?”

“Ok.”

“You promise?”

“I promise,” Alec says, laughing a little. “Now I do actually have work to do, so I’ll see you later, yeah?”

Isabelle smiles and gives him a little wave before leaving the office. Alec pulls his tablet toward him and starts looking through some new star charts from Dot and Catarina, trying not to think too much about how nervous he still is about the possibility of Magnus leaving Voyager. And him.

 

 

“Do you want me to accompany you, sir?” Luke asks at shortly before 1800 hours.

Alec looks around the mess hall one more time. Actually, as his first officer, Magnus should be accompanying him, but they hadn’t turned up for dinner. Alec actually hasn’t seen them since they returned to Voyager from Earth II. He’s trying not to feel too panicky about that, but it’s not really working.

“Thank you, Commander, but that’s not necessary. I’ll be back shortly.” Alec takes a deep breath and approaches the transport bay, trying not to throw up. He doesn’t want any member of his crew to leave, actually. He won’t begrudge them for it, because it’s their own decision, but the idea of having to say goodbye to any of them is –

He steps into the transport bay and sees that the room is empty. Not a single member of the crew is there. He releases his breath in a long, shaky sigh and looks around the empty room again –

He turns around when he hears footsteps behind him, and his heart sinks when he sees Magnus approaching him. He tries to keep his emotions in check, but he knows he’s failed when he feels his bottom lip quiver. Magnus must read everything on Alec’s face, because their expression turns concerned as they come to a stop in front of Alec.

“Alexander, what’s wrong?”

Alec can barely speak beyond the lump in his throat. “You’re, uh, you’re staying then?”

“Yes, of course I am.”

“Of course. I understand. I won’t lie and say I’m not disappointed, but I did tell everyone they could make their own decision.”

Magnus frowns. “Alexander, what are you saying? I’m saying that I’m staying here on Voyager.”

The relief that floods through Alec at Magnus’ words is powerful enough to almost knock him over. “Magnus…” Alec can feel tears appearing in his eyes. “Magnus, I thought you were going to stay on the planet.”

“I did consider it,” Magnus admits, their voice soft and hushed. It makes Alec feel like they’re the only people in the universe, like nothing else exists except the two of them. In fact, he feels that way with Magnus all the time – it’s just a magical quality they possess.

“I did consider it,” Magnus repeats. “The idea of staying a planet that was similar to Earth but where I wasn’t wanted for treason definitely sounded appealing. I mean, spending 75 years on a ship headed toward my severe punishment…” They shake their head and trail off. “But more than that, I didn’t want to leave you.”

“You didn’t?”

“No.” Magnus reaches out to grab Alec’s hand and squeeze it. “I have people here on this ship – old friends like Dot and Catarina, Maia and Luke – and new friends, like Isabelle.”

“And me?” Alec asks, smiling slightly.

“No, Alexander, you’re not a friend. You’re…so much more than that. The thought of saying goodbye to you…I couldn’t even imagine it. I recoiled the second I tried.”

“Me too.” Alec’s voice cracks. “I was so scared you were going to leave, but I wasn’t sure if I should tell you that….I didn’t want you to think I was trying to coerce you, since I’m technically your boss.”

“I’m never going to leave you, not unless you want me to,” Magnus promises, lifting their joined hands and pressing a kiss to Alec’s knuckles.

“Never.” Alec’s voice is still rough from the unshed tears, and he buries his face in Magnus’

shoulder. “Never, Magnus.”

Alec doesn’t know how long they stand there, embracing with their faces tucked into each other’s necks, but he doesn’t care. He has Magnus, for as long as he wants, and that’s all that matters.

 

 

“Magnus! Come on! We have to go!” Alec shouts, struggling to make himself heard over the sound of the massive winds blowing around them.

Magnus doesn’t answer, instead banging their fist on the door of the apartment complex they’re standing in front of. After a few seconds, the door opens and the person on the other side emits a cry of joy as they see the small child bundled in Magnus’ arms. They accept the child from Magnus gratefully, and even though Alec is too far away to hear what is being said, he can tell the person is thanking Magnus profusely.

“MAGNUS!” Alec shouts again.

Magnus turns away from the apartment and begins jogging toward Alec, Alec watching them anxiously the entire time.

“I couldn’t leave that child out there by herself, Alexander,” Magnus explains. “Her sister said that their parents have been out looking for her for nearly an hour.”

“It’s fine, Magnus, but we really need to go,” Alec says urgently. “The storm’s just getting worse and worse and we need to get out of it.”

Magnus nods and offers Alec their hand, which Alec immediately accepts. He starts running, Magnus following him, trying to find a good spot out of the way of the storm to stop so they can contact Voyager and be beamed up.

There’s suddenly a huge boom of thunder above them, followed by a flash of lightning. The echo of the boom has barely faded before it’s followed by another.

“Shit,” Alec breathes. “We really need to get out of here stat.” The landscape around them is completely flat, with nothing to shelter them from the storm. Not to mention that they’re surrounded by trees.

“Alexander, look – up there, it looks like a cave.”

“Perfect,” Alec says, picking up speed. He and Magnus crawl into the cave just as there’s another resounding boom of thunder from outside.

“Lightwood to Voyager,” Alec says, tapping his comm badge.

There’s no response.

“Lightwood to Voyager,” Alec repeats. When there’s still no response, he frowns at Magnus. “Maybe there’s something wrong with my comm badge? You try.”

“Bane to Voyager,” Magnus says, tapping their own badge. Nothing.

“It must be the storm,” Magnus says, frowning as well. “The lightning is interfering with our badges, most likely.”

“Ok, well, we’ll just have to stay in here until the storm is over,” Alec says, sighing. He scoots closer to Magnus. “At least it’s big enough in here for us both to lie down, in case we need to get some rest.”

“That’s good, but I’m not sure what we would do about food.”

“I don’t plan on us being here long enough for that to happen,” Alec says. He taps his comm badge for a third time. “Lightwood to Voyager.”

For a few seconds there’s nothing but a crackling noise, but finally, he hears Dot’s voice. “Captain! Thank god. When you had the rest of the away team beam up half an hour ago, we all thought you and Magnus would follow soon. What happened?”

“We got caught in the storm while returning a lost little girl to her family,” Alec explains. “The storm’s gotten worse but we managed to find a cave to hide out in. Can you beam us up?”

“I can’t, Captain,” says Dot regretfully. “The storm is interfering with our signal and transport isn’t working at all. Sam and Ollie are working on it but it might take awhile.” There’s a strange note in her voice that Alec immediately picks up on, but before he can question it, Magnus does it for him.

“What’s wrong, Dot?”

Dot hesitates for a moment before answering, “Cat and I looked up weather patterns for this planet. They get these storms often and…sometimes they last for days.”

Alec’s heart sinks. They have no food with them and he doubts they’ll find any in this cave. The only chance they have is going back outside and trying to make it back to those apartment complexes they’d run past earlier, but he wants to avoid that as long as possible.

“All right, Dot, just keep us updated,” Alec tells her.

“Will do, Captain.”

“Lightwood out.” Alec looks over at Magnus. “I guess we’re stuck here for awhile.”

Magnus smiles tightly. “My claustrophobia isn’t happy, but at least the company is pleasant.”

“Maybe we should try to get some sleep,” Alec suggests. “It was a long day, even though the mission was just archaeological. We did walk several kilometers.”

“Sounds good,” Magnus agrees. They rub their arms. “It’s pretty cold in here. Would you be opposed to sleeping together?”

“I, uh, no.” Alec clears his throat. “I’m not opposed at all.”

Magnus beams. “Fantastic. Come over here, Captain.”

Alec crawls over to where Magnus is sitting and stretches out next to him. The ground is horribly cold and his uniform isn’t much protection – shivering, he rolls closer, until his arm is touching Magnus’.

“Feel free to snuggle, Captain,” Magnus says teasingly.

Alec hesitates for only a few seconds before flipping onto his side and pressing his body against Magnus’ hip. Magnus is clearly surprised, but they recover quickly and tuck their face into Alec’s neck. Smiling to himself, Alec closes his eyes and tries to drown out the sound of the storm raging outside.

 

 

 

When he wakes up the next morning, it only takes one quick glance around the cave for Alec to realize that Ollie and Sam haven’t managed to resolve the issue with the transporter yet. He sighs and looks down at Magnus, who is still fast asleep next to him.

That is, until Alec’s stomach gives a massive rumble of hunger which startles Magnus awake. Magnus quickly sits up, their eyes wide, until they seem to realize what had happened, and they chuckle.

“A little hungry, are we?” they tease.

“Just a bit,” Alec admits. He glances toward the entrance to the cave. “But the storm is still raging out there. From what I can hear, it’s gotten even worse.”

“Maybe Dot and Catarina have some good news? Try contacting them, maybe they have an update,” Magnus suggests.

Alec nods in agreement and presses his comm badge. “Lightwood to Voyager.” No response.

Alec flops back down onto his back. “I think I’m going to try to go back to sleep so I won’t notice how hungry I am.”

 

 

The next morning is the same. It’s now been two days without food and both of them are starving, but the storm outside is so ferocious that neither of them are willing to risk going outside. So they sit inside the cave and wait, periodically trying to contact Voyager, with no results.

To keep themselves busy, Alec and Magnus talk, about anything and everything that comes to mind. They discuss their childhoods, their Starfleet careers, and everything in between. They never run out of things to talk about, and Alec is honestly grateful that if he had to get stuck in a cave with no food for two days, his companion is Magnus. They’re both managing to keep each other calm and prevent each other from panicking.

Finally, after hours, their conversation fades into silence, sleepiness overtaking both of them. Alec’s eyes slip shut and he drowses comfortably – except for the gnawing feeling in his stomach.

“If we die here…” Magnus says suddenly, startling Alec awake.

“We’re not going to die here, Magnus, c’mon. Sam and Ollie are going to figure this out.”

“Your optimism is admirable,” Magnus says, breathing a little laugh. “But just humor me for a second, hmm?”

“Sure,” Alec relents.

“If we die here, there’s something I have to tell you.” Magnus reaches out and grasps Alec’s hand. “You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but getting sucked into that wormhole and captured by a Starfleet ship was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me, because it led me to you.”

Alec’s breath hitches. “Magnus…”

“If we die here, I’ll honestly be glad it happened with you at my side. That’s just…all that I want. To always be at your side.”

“Magnus…”

“Can I kiss you?” Magnus asks, their voice whisper-soft.

Alec doesn’t respond with words. He closes the distance between them and kisses Magnus, reaching up to cup Magnus’ cheek in both hands as he pours everything he’s been feeling the past few days into the kiss. He wants Magnus to feel everything – his respect, admiration, trust, but also the strong emotion that Magnus inspires in him every time they’re together. He thinks about the first time he saw Magnus, about how beautiful they were and how Alec had felt struck speechless in their presence, but more than that, how beautiful Magnus had proven themselves to be on the inside.

When he feels Magnus shudder against him, he knows he’s translated his feelings into the kiss successfully. Magnus cups one hand around Alec’s neck and the other wraps around Alec’s shoulder and squeezes. Feeling encouraged by Magnus’ tactility, Alec lowers one of his hands to Magnus’ neck and starts rubbing his thumb against the tendons he feels there. Magnus shudders again and deepens the kiss, and that’s when Alec realizes how stupid he’s been this entire time. He’d been reluctant to initiate a relationship with Magnus this entire time because Magnus was his subordinate (at least officially, even though Alec didn’t think of them as such) and he’d felt unsure about pursuing a relationship that broke Starfleet regulations.

But more than that, Alec had worked his ass off for the past twenty years to become the youngest Captain in Starfleet history, and he’d worried that a relationship with someone who affected him as strongly as Magnus did would do nothing but distract him from his duties and negatively impact his work ethic. But he’d been wrong. By denying his own feelings for Magnus, he’d been closing himself off and denying himself happiness. And he doesn’t want to do that anymore.

The kiss ends and Magnus rests their forehead together. “That’s all I wanted. That’s everything I’ve been wanting since our first meeting in your office.”

“Me too,” Alec murmurs, his voice a little rough. He gently turns Magnus’ face to the side so he can press soft kisses to their temples, then their forehead, nose, cheeks, and finally their lips again.

“You didn’t just kiss me because you think we’re going to die?” Magnus asks.

“I don’t think we’re going to die. To prove it, once we’re back on Voyager, I want to kiss you again.”

“Just one more time?”

“No. All the time.” Alec presses another kiss to Magnus’ lips. “That ok with you?”

“More than ok, Alexander. I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into. I’m going to expect you to kiss me everyday now. Multiple times per day, even.”

“I promise, for the next 75 years, I’ll kiss you multiple times per day, every day.” He stiffens a little once he realizes what he’s said, implying that he and Magnus are going to be together for the next 75 years – or until death do them part, whichever comes first – but Magnus just tightens their grip on Alec’s neck and uses the leverage to pull Alec down into another kiss.

They kiss softly, their hands never leaving each other’s bodies, until Alec’s comm badge sparks to life.

“Astrophysics to Captain Lightwood.”

Alec moves back from Magnus just the amount needed to talk freely and not a centimeter more.

“Lightwood here.”

“We solved the problem that was preventing the two of you from coming aboard,” Catarina says. “Stand by for transport.”

“Acknowledged.”

A moment later, Alec feels his body become lighter than air and closes his eyes to appreciate the sensation. Beaming does take a little while to get used to, but he loves it now.

Then he hears Catarina’s voice again. “Well. Welcome back, Captain. And you, Commander.”

Alec opens his eyes to meet her amused look. He realizes he and Magnus are still wrapped around each other, kneeling together on the transport bay. He doesn’t let go of Magnus, however.

“Lieutenant Commander,” he greets her.

“I see you and Magnus found a way to entertain yourselves while you were on the planet,” she says, clearly not even bothering to contain the smirk on her face.

“We did,” Magnus answers dryly. “We were there for quite awhile, after all.”

“Sorry,” says Dot cheerfully. “But at least the trip wasn’t an entire waste if it got you two to get your heads out of your asses.”

“Careful or we’ll think you two orchestrated this,” Magnus says, narrowing their eyes at her.

“We would never!” Catarina says, her eyes sparkling with amusement. “Seriously though, I’m glad you two are ok. You should probably run along to sick bay so Isabelle can check you out.”

Alec gets to his feet, pulling Magnus along with him. “Is everything ok on the bridge?” he asks.

“Yes, Luke has everything perfectly under control,” Dot assures him. “And everyone else is doing fine as well.”

“Thank you for helping us,” Alec tells her.

“Anything to get our Captain and Commander back,” Catarina says, smiling at both him and Magnus.

“Make sure he goes to sick bay right away,” Dot tells Magnus in a dramatic stage whisper.

Alec rolls his eyes, but when they step into the hallway, Magnus does tug on his hand and, before Alec can move in any direction, tells him seriously, “Sick bay is this way, Captain.”

“I know where sick bay is!” Alec says as Magnus starts to essentially drag him down the hallway.

“And you’ll accompany me there?”

“Yes,” Alec says, laughing a little.

“And if Isabelle tells you to go get some rest in your quarters, will you listen to her instead of trying to sneak back onto the bridge?”

“Only if you come back to my quarters with me,” Alec says. Magnus comes to an abrupt stop and turns to look at Alec, questions in their eyes.

“Not like that!” says Alec hastily. “I just meant – maybe we could sleep, just sleep, together. We had quite a day, what with almost dying and all.”

“You said you didn’t think we were going to die!” Magnus says accusingly.

“I didn’t! But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared. I just couldn’t let you know that because I’m the captain and I always have to remain calm.”

“You don’t have to do that with me,” Magnus tells him. “We can be honest with each other.”

“I know that now,” Alec murmurs back, reaching up to brush a lock off hair from Magnus’ forehead. “Now let’s hurry up and get to sick bay and get that out of the way. I can’t wait for this day to be over.”

 

 

 

Isabelle launches herself at Alec the second he and Magnus step into sick bay and only releases him when he points out that she can’t examine him when they’re glued together. Isabelle is clearly reluctant to let go of him, but does so and runs several scans on both him and Magnus, all of which show them to be in good health.

“I would still recommend going straight to your quarters and getting some rest,” Isabelle says. “After the both of you get something to eat, I mean. Even though the atmosphere on that planet was similar to Earth’s, spending several hours in a cramped cave with limited oxygen took a toll on both of you.”

“As the captain –” Alec begins.

“Shut up, your shift ends in less than half an hour anyway and no one’s going to judge if you skip out on 25 minutes,” Isabelle says. “Same goes for you,” she tells Magnus.

“No worries, Alexander has already promised me that we can go back to his quarters and snuggle,” says Magnus cheerfully.

Magnus!” Alec hisses, sounding so betrayed that Magnus has to quickly duck their head down, forbidding themselves from looking at Isabelle, lest they both burst into laughter at Alec’s dramatics.

“It is my professional opinion that you should do that,” Isabelle says, grinning. “I better not see either of you in the hallway until breakfast time tomorrow.”

“Well, if the doctor orders it…” Magnus leaps to their feet.

“I just need to stop by the bridge and talk to my crew,” Alec protests as Magnus pulls him to his feet.

“You will not!” Isabelle warns. “Magnus, if you have to drag him to his quarters, you do it!”

“Yes ma’am!”

Fine,” Alec sighs as they enter the hallway. “Magnus, you can stop dragging me, I’m coming with you willingly.”

“I’m just being cautious,” Magnus replies. “You know how you tend to get.”

Alec scoffs but says nothing until they reach his quarters. Once there, Magnus lets go of Alec and waits to see what will happen. Alec had said they weren’t going to do anything but sleep, but they’re curious to see how exactly that will proceed.

“You want to eat something before we go to bed?” Alec asks, stopping in the middle of the room.

“Definitely,” Magnus says, following Alec to his replicator.

“In the mood for anything in particular?”

“Four slices of toast with butter and jam, and a cup of chamomile tea,” Magnus replies. The replicator responds immediately, and Magnus accepts the plate and mug from Alec eagerly.

Alec requests a stack of pancakes slathered in butter and syrup and a mug of hot chocolate. They both take the plates back to Alec’s bed and eat, both of them trying to pace themselves and take it easy on their stomachs, but it’s difficult when every bite of crunchy toast tastes like manna.

“I have some spare pajamas I can lend you,” Alec says once they’ve finished eating. He sounds nervous. “And if you want the bathroom first, go ahead.”

Magnus smiles. “Thank you, Alexander.” They get up and head into the bathroom to remove their makeup. The extra pajamas they find sitting on a shelf next to the sink. They remove their uniform and hang it on the back of the door, then pull on the pajamas.

“Oh my god,” Alec breathes when Magnus opens the door and steps back into the room. “You look amazing.”

Magnus looks down at themselves. “Like this? I have no makeup on and I’m wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt.”

“You’re beautiful,” Alec repeats. “Absolutely stunning.”

“Thank you,” Magnus says, smiling. They wait for Alec to get up and take his place in the bathroom, but instead Alec continues to stare at them as if mesmerized.

“Are you ok?” Magnus asks, laughing a little self-consciously.

“I’m sorry,” Alec says, getting up from the bed to approach them. “You just look so beautiful.”

“I got the impression you liked the makeup,” Magnus says, watching Alec as he comes to a stop in front of them.

“I do. I love the makeup. I also love this. I love however you look.”

“Oh,” says Magnus quietly.

“Is that ok?”

“It’s very ok. You just surprised me, is all.”

“In a good way?”

“In the best way. You’re incredibly sweet,” Magnus murmurs.

“What can I say? You bring it out in me,” Alec says, shrugging one shoulder.

“Oh? Tell me more.”

“I’ve barely been able to keep my eyes off you from the moment we met. Everything about you is breathtaking. Whether you’re wearing makeup and jewelry or not. As long as it’s this face….and this voice…I’m hooked.”

Magnus studies Alec carefully, half-expecting to see some sign that he’s lying, but they find none. They swallow hard around the lump in their throat, not sure if they’re ever going to get used to Alec’s earnest, heartfelt way of speaking that’s made so much better by how it’s obviously not practiced.

“The first time I saw you, I was convinced I wouldn’t like you at all,” Magnus says, grinning when Alec makes a face. “I was expecting to hate you, to be honest…but you surprised me. You turned out to be the exact opposite of what I was expecting, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that fact. You’re the most incredible person I’ve ever known.”

Magnus hears the hitch in Alec’s breath and watches Alec shift closer, intent clearly written all over his face. They shiver in anticipation and close their eyes, opening them again when Alec speaks.

“Magnus…Magnus, if I kiss you right now, I’m not going to be able to hold myself back,” Alec says, his voice raw.

Magnus almost replies with, “And what if I don’t want you to hold yourself back?” but then they reconsider. They really don’t want to rush into things with Alec, not when everything is so perfect, and besides, they’re most likely going to die on this ship together. They have the rest of their lives.

“Then don’t kiss me. Go get changed instead.” They take a step back, away from Alec and clearing the way to the bathroom door.

Alec huffs a little laugh. “Ok. That’s probably the best idea.” He grabs a pair of sweatpants which are sitting on top of the nearby dresser and disappears into the bathroom.

Magnus sits on the bed to wait for him, listening to water running as Alec washes up. A few moments later, Alec emerges from the bathroom, wearing the sweatpants but no shirt. Magnus sits up straighter when they realize this, their eyes flitting all over Alec’s very nice, very bare chest.

“Sorry,” Alec says, sounding, for some reason, a bit embarrassed. “I never sleep in a short normally, but I can put one on if it makes you uncomfortable.”

“You will do no such thing,” Magnus responds, their eyes still glued to the mesmerizing sight of Alec’s chest hair. “Now get over here.”

Alec breathes out another laugh. “Whatever you say.”

“Oh, don’t say things like that to me,” Magnus says as Alec sits next to him. “You’re going to give me ideas.”

“I…can’t think of a safe response to that, so I’m just going to say silent.”

Magnus smirks at him before indicating the two sides of the bed. “Do you have a preference?”

“I usually just starfish in the center,” Alec admits. “So no. You?”

“Yes, actually. I have to sleep on the left, so you get the right side. That ok?”

“Perfect.”

They crawl under the covers together and the second their back hits the mattress, Magnus can feel all the built up tension from the last two days’ adventures oozing out of their body. “Oh god.”

“I know,” Alec murmurs. “Good night, Magnus.”

“Sleep well, Alexander.”

“Computer, turn off the lights,” Alec instructs, the sentence ending on a yawn. The lights in the room dim and then go out, leaving only the starlight from outside to shine through the windows. Magnus reaches out and after a couple of fumbles, manages to land one hand on Alec’s chest.

Alec tenses, but it seems to be more from surprise than anything else, because a moment later he relaxes and his breathing evens out. Smiling to themselves, Magnus closes their eyes and falls instantly asleep.

Chapter Text

When Magnus wakes the next morning, the first thing they notice is that Alec is still asleep next to them. They smile and snuggle closer, simply relishing the closeness. Before yesterday, they had been starting to doubt that Alec would ever make a move. After Magnus had told Alec they were planning to stay on Voyager instead of Earth II, they had been sure that Alec would initiate something – Alec had seemed immensely relieved by Magnus’ decision, considering the way his body had trembled against Magnus’ as they’d embraced, and Magnus had definitely felt tears on the shoulder of their uniform.

But no, in the days following their departure from Earth II, Alec had shown no indication that he had any plans to initiate anything. Magnus had just started to give up, when they’d gotten stuck in that cave and apparently that’s all the prompting Alec had needed.

Sighing happily, Magnus snuggles even closer to Alec and presses a kiss to his chest. His skin is just as soft and warm as it had been last night – actually, even warmer still, thanks to the comfortable blankets they’d slept under. Magnus kisses his chest again and that causes Alec to stir and then wake up fully, his eyes fluttering open and shut a few times before focusing in on Magnus.

“Good morning,” Alec says, his voice still soft with sleep.

“Good morning,” Magnus replies. “Did you sleep well?”

“Amazingly well. You?”

“Also very well. You’re like a furnace, did you know? I hope it didn’t bother you that I was glued to your side for the most of the night.”

“I didn’t mind at all. I, uh, I don’t know if you want to keep sleeping here in the future, but, if you do…you can keep on doing that.”

“Good to know.” Magnus kisses Alec’s chest for a third time.

“You keep doing that,” Alec observes.

“You have a very nice chest. I just want to show appreciation.”

“Yeah? Well, I appreciate you showing appreciation.”

Magnus grins at that and this time kisses Alec’s lips instead. They kiss slowly, unhurried, knowing they have all the time in the world –

“Sick bay to Captain Lightwood.”

Alec sighs and reluctantly pulls back from Magnus’ lips to reach for the comm badge on his nightstand.

“Hey, Iz, what’s up?”

“Sorry to bother you, big brother, but both yours and Magnus’ shift starts at 0800 hours and it’s already 7:30, and I haven’t seen either of you in the mess hall yet, so…”

“Ah, shit,” Alec sighs. “I completely forgot to set an alarm. Thanks for letting us know, Iz.”

“Us?” Isabelle repeats slyly. “Did you two have a good night?”

Alec rolls his eyes. “Yes, I enjoyed eating and sleeping on something that was not a cave floor for the first time in two days. I’ll see you later, yeah?”

“See you,” Isabelle replies. 

Alec sets his comm badge back down and turns back to Magnus with a sigh. “I guess it’s back to our daily schedule.”

“At least we can spend it together,” Magnus reminds him. “And after our shift, we could go on our first official date.”

“First official date?” Alec repeats. “Where do you want to go?”

“We’ll need the Holodeck for sure. I’ll come up with something. All you and your cute little butt need to do are show up.”

“Don’t talk about my butt twenty minutes before we’re supposed to start our shift,” Alec says. “Save that talk for the Holodeck.”

“Yessir,” Magnus says, saluting.

“Oh my god.”

 

 

“Hey, Isabelle,” Clary says cheerfully as she walks into sick bay. “Do you have a minute?”

“For you? I have multiple minutes.” Isabelle sets down her tricorder. “What’s up?”

“I was thinking, we should take Maia out tonight. The three of us haven’t all been on a date together yet.”

“That’s a great idea,” Isabelle agrees. “Do you have anything in mind?”

“Well, she majored in marine biology at the Academy, right? I did some research on planets with oceans and I have some good ideas of where we could take her – on the Holodeck, of course.”

“That’s so sweet,” Isabelle says, smiling. “It sounds like a great idea to me. What are you thinking, after our shift?”

“Yeah, I checked and we’re all off at 1600 hours, so we can go before dinner…build up an appetite…”

“What exactly are you planning for us to do?” Isabelle asks, laughing.

“You’ll see,” says Clary, winking.

 

 

Alec and Magnus’ shift ends at 1700. When they leave the bridge, Alec expects Magnus to lead him to the mess hall for dinner, but Magnus pulls him toward the Holodeck corridor instead. Magnus comes to a stop before the 2nd door on the left.

“Computer, please load program Magnus Bane 1.”

“Program loaded successfully. Please enter the Holodeck to initiate the program.”

The doors slide open and Magnus and Alec step through. Immediately, they’re hit with a wave of sound – the sound of excited screaming from the crowd of people they’re standing in the middle of, plus the sound of eardrum-shattering music emanating from the stage several meters away. They appear to be in a stadium, in the middle of a music concert, although Alec doesn’t recognize where they are. He can’t really concentrate on anything except the noise, actually.

“Computer, please lower the sound by 20%,” Magnus calls. A moment later, the noise decreases significantly and Alec flashes Magnus a grateful smile.

“Where are we?” Alec asks.

“Wembley Stadium, in London. July 13th, 1985.”

“1985?” Alec echoes. “That’s nearly 400 years ago. What’s special about today?” He doesn’t bother to keep his voice down, knowing that the noise level will drown out his voice – and regardless, the other concert attendees are paying them no attention. They’re holograms, and won’t react to either Magnus or Alec unless one of them initiates an interaction.

“It’s the Live Aid concert, and Queen is performing soon. Queen is a musical band, a very famous one,” Magnus adds at Alec’s puzzled expression. “I was a huge fan of them when I was younger. Freddie Mercury was a celebrity I really looked up to.”

“Freddie Mercury was a member of Queen?”

“The lead vocalist,” Magnus confirms. “He was Indian and bisexual, in a time when neither was well received. I know it’s difficult to imagine nowadays, now that true equality has been achieved within the Federation, but when Freddie Mercury was alive, it was very difficult to be like him and in the spotlight.”

Alec squeezes Magnus’ hand. “So this concert is a performance of his?”

“Actually, Live Aid was a concert attended by multiple different artists. Its intent was to raise money for the Ethiopian famine crisis. Afterward, critics claimed that the brains behind Live Aid, Bob Gedolf, had ignored warnings that the Ethiopian government had actually created the famine themselves, and that most of the money raised from Live Aid actually went toward purchasing weapons from the Soviet Union, instead of helping victims of the famine.”

“That’s awful,” Alec says, frowning.

“It is,” Magnus agrees. “But that’s not why I brought you here. I brought you here because Queen’s performance here – which should start in about 5 minutes – has been voted as the greatest live performance in the history of rock music. When I was younger, I used to watch videos of their performance all the time, and I wanted to share it with you.”

“Wow,” Alec murmurs. “Thank you for wanting to share something important to you with me.”

“It’s much better sharing important experiences like this with someone who’s also important to you,” Magnus says, smiling, and Alec has to kiss them for that, he just has to.

“It’s starting,” Magnus says when they break apart. “That’s Freddie Mercury right there.”

“Wow,” Alec says again. Freddie Mercury is an extremely good looking man, wearing white pants and a white tank top that shows off his chest hair (Alec is beginning to think that Magnus might have a thing for chest hair, considering how much they gushed about Freddie, and how they reacted to seeing Alec shirtless). When he begins singing, Alec is even more impressed.

Over the next 20 minutes, Alec listens to the band perform some of the best songs he’s ever heard. He doesn’t pay attention to most of the band though, his attention almost entirely focused on Freddie, who has a stage presence that’s mesmerizing. His energy is infectious and Alec knows he isn’t the only one who’s feeling it – the crowd sings along with Freddie the entire time, showing him so much love and admiration that Alec can feel chills running up and down his arms.

At one point Freddie begins leading the crowd in unison refrains – he’ll sing a note, then gesture at the crowd, indicating that he wants them to mimic him. The crowd does so happily, and not only the crowd – Alec startles slightly when he hears Magnus joining in. Magnus has a great voice, from what Alec can tell, but that’s not what Alec is focusing on – Magnus looks so happy; it’s clear they’re thrilled to be here, and it doesn’t matter that’s it just a Holodeck program and not the real thing. The Holodeck program is realistic enough to pretend – even though the members of the crowd are all computer generated, they’re all mirror images of the people who really attended this concert 400 years ago, and Freddie seems more than real.

Freddie hits a note then that lasts for several seconds, and the sight of Magnus literally bouncing up and down while echoing the note causes Alec to realize with a rush that he’s in love. He’s in love with Magnus. Maybe it’s too soon – they’ve known each other for a grand total of two weeks, they only confessed their feelings for each other and shared their first kiss for the first time yesterday. But Alec knows what he feels, and this is real. It explains why he reacted so strongly when he thought Magnus was staying on Earth II, why he’d been enchanted with Magnus from the moment he’d seen them on the Maquis through the viewscreen.

It’s no surprise he’s fallen in love with Magnus, considering that Magnus has done nothing for the past two weeks but make Alec feel alive, to make him more critical of himself and his actions as a captain, but also more accepting of himself and his right to be happy. He’s done little but think of Magnus and how strongly he feels about them since the moment they met and that means something. Alec had often feared that he’d never find anyone to spend his life with because he’d never felt like he could open up to anyone, that he’d never be able to connect with anyone outside of Isabelle. But now he has found someone. And that someone is standing right next to him.

Freddie stops singing and Magnus turns to Alec with a big, happy grin on their face. They stop dancing when they notice the look on Alec’s face – Alec isn’t sure exactly what expression it is, but it must be something intense, because Magnus’ grin fades and their expression becomes intense as well.

“Alexander?” Magnus asks, their voice so soft that Alec can barely hear them over the sound of the crowd.

Alec doesn’t answer with words. He moves closer and cups Magnus’ face in his hands, kissing them deeply. Magnus’ hands fly up to wrap around the back of Alec’s neck, their fingers tangling into the hair at Alec’s nape. Alec’s hands slide down from Magnus’ face to squeeze those magnificent shoulders.

One kiss bleeds into another and another, but Alec can’t bear to let go of Magnus, and it seems Magnus feels the same way. They cling to each other while the crowd cheers and Freddie sings in the background. When they finally break apart, Alec rests his forehead against Magnus’ and just breathes, his eyes still shut to appreciate how close Magnus is.

“Is there a particular reason you kissed me like that, Alexander?” Magnus asks, their voice a little rough. “Not that I’m complaining, believe me I’m not.”

Alec’s eyes slide open. “I…I want to tell you something. Maybe it’s too soon and, and it’s ok if you don’t feel the same way, I promise. But I just want you to know that I – that I love you. I’m in love with you, Magnus.”

For a moment there’s silence – Alec knows that there’s still a concert happening a few feet away, but it ceases to exist while he waits for Magnus’ response. And then Magnus smiles, and they slide their hands down from Alec’s neck to cup his face. “I love you too, Alexander,” they murmur.

Alec feels a grin lighting up his face. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Magnus answers, grinning back. “In fact…” They lower one hand to Alec’s hip and uses the leverage to guide Alec into position. “Dance with me.”

“I’m not exactly sure how to dance to this style,” Alec confesses, looking over to the stage uncertainly, but Magnus shakes their head.

“Don’t pay attention to the music. Just follow my lead.”

Alec nods and entwines his hand with Magnus’ free hand that isn’t resting on his hip. “Ok.”

Magnus begins moving slowly, gracefully, turning in slow circles that are easy for Alec to follow. Alec copies their every move until he begins to understand the pattern himself and then they sway together, bodies wrapped closely together and heads resting on each other’s shoulders, the sound of the concert a mere background noise.

 

 

“Can one of you tell me what’s going on?” Maia asks with a laugh as she allows herself to be tugged down the hallway by both of her girlfriends.

“It’s date night!” Clary explains, looking over her shoulder with a grin.

“I understand that, but where exactly is this date night taking place?”

“Holodeck. We programmed something really nice for you,” Isabelle promises.

“You’re going to love it,” Clary assures her. “We had to make it really special since this is our first date with all three of us.”

“Well, you’ve really got me excited now,” Maia says with another laugh as the three of them come to a stop in front of one of the unoccupied Holodeck doors.

“Just wait and see,” Isabelle says gleefully as she loads the program and the doors slide open. Maia casts her a fond smile and presses a kiss to her cheek before walking through the doors. A moment later, her jaw drops.

“No way,” she breathes, her eyes going wide as she takes in the sight before her.

Spread out before her is a beach with unbelievably soft, white sand. The sand gives way to an ocean of the clearest water she’s ever seen. The water is so clear that, even from where she’s standing, she can see the life existing underneath the waves. She turns back to her girlfriends, stunned.

“Where are we?”

“Betazed,” Clary says. “They’re famous for their beaches.” She’s smiling, clearly pleased by Maia’s reaction.

“And we have the beach to ourselves?” Maia asks.

“Of course we do,” Isabelle answers. “We’re not I the mood to share you with anyone.”

“Good.” Maia slips out of her shoes and pulls her shirt over her head. “Swimsuits?” she asks.

“Or we could just go skinny dipping,” Isabelle says, not taking her eyes off Maia.

“Swimsuit,” Maia repeats.

Clary reaches into the bag at her feet and reluctantly hands over a swimsuit. Maia bursts out laughing at the disappointed look on both her girlfriends’ faces. “We’ll have time for that later,” she promises. “But for now, let’s go swimming fully clothed.”

The three of them change into their swimsuits and wade out into the water. The temperature is perfect – cool and refreshing, the perfect balance to the warm sunshine. Maia ducks briefly underneath the surface of the water, admiring the plants and creatures she recognizes as well as the ones she doesn’t, before she moves forward to press a kiss to Isabelle’s bare stomach. Then, before Isabelle can react, she slides upward, emerging from the water, and drops kisses across Isabelle’s cleavage before moving on to Clary.

“I love this date,” she tells her girlfriends as they crowd around her, leaving kisses on her neck. “You two are the best.”

“Only the best for you,” Clary murmurs.

“Because you’re the best,” Isabelle continues. “And since you’re the best, you want to teach us about the ocean?”

“Sure,” Maia agrees. “Let’s start with seaweed.” Maia ducks underwater again to scoop some up. “Seaweed has multiple different uses. It can be used to dress wounds, prevent bacterial colonization, stop certain viruses…”

She’s aware both Clary and Isabelle are staring at her, enraptured, rather than at the seaweed, but she doesn’t mind. She’s flattered that her girlfriends arranged this date in the first place, that they’re so excited just to stand here and listen to her ramble about whatever she wants. That apparently, as long as she’s happy, so are they.

 

 

“Can I ask you something?” Magnus asks as they lay together in bed. They’re in Alec’s quarters again and have been since they returned from Live Aid.

“Right now you can ask me anything you want,” Alec says with a happy sigh. “Although try not to take advantage of that, since my brain isn’t functioning at maximum capacity right now.”

Magnus chuckles. “You enjoyed yourself that much, huh?”

“Well, you were there.”

“I was.” Magnus takes a moment to press a quick kiss to Alec’s bare chest. “Anyway, I was actually serious about my question. If…well, if we do find a way to make it back to the Alpha Quadrant sooner rather than later…what do you imagine is going to happen?”

They feel Alec’s body tense underneath them as soon as they say the words “Alpha Quadrant”. They feel themselves tense in response, but they needn’t have worried; Alec only takes another moment to respond.

“If that happens…I mean, there’s only one thing I can do, isn’t there? I’m not going to let anything happen to you or the other Downworlders. I’ll do whatever I can to make sure none of you are punished.”

Magnus props themselves up on their elbow so they can look down at Alec. “Do you mean that?”

Alec rises as well so he can be on Magnus’ eye level. “Of course I am. Look, I…” He takes a deep breath. “I know what my original mission was. I was following orders and I won’t lie to you, I’m still loyal to Starfleet and…most of what they stand for. But in this matter? If they tell me to turn you and the rest of the Maquis crew in, I won’t do it.”

“Alexander…” Magnus’ next breath comes out uneven. “You would do that?”

“You seem upset,” Alec observes, sounding worried. “Is that not what you wanted to hear? It’s the truth…”

“It’s exactly what I hoped to hear,” Magnus assures him, “it’s just honestly not what I expected to hear. I know how much being in Starfleet means to you, Alexander, and if your superiors order you to turn me and my crew over and you refuse, you could get court martialed and stripped of your rank, or even dishonorably discharged –”

“Our crew,” Alec corrects, interrupting them.

“I’m sorry?”

“Our crew,” Alec repeats. “If my superiors order me to turn over you and our crew, I won’t do it. No matter what they threaten me with. It’s not just your crew anymore, Magnus, it’s our crew, because we’re united now, like a family. Right?” He tacks on the last word like a question, as if he feels the need to double check.

“Of course we are,” Magnus promises him. “We are a family. I just…I feel guilty for being happy with your answer. It makes me feel selfish, in a very ugly way. I don’t want you to sacrifice things just for me and a few other people you’ve only known for a couple of weeks.”

“A captain will do anything for their crew,” Alec insists. “And I’ll do anything for you. That’s just how it is now, no matter what you say. You don’t need to feel selfish about that, because you’re not talking me into it or anything – this is how I feel all on my own. Because I…I love you, Magnus.” His voice wavers as he says it and Magnus feels like all the breath has been sucked out of their lungs. They stare at Alec, at the earnest, heartfelt expression on his face, and feels tears form in their eyes.

“I love you too, Alexander.” They have to kiss Alec then, a kiss Alec returns eagerly.

 

 

“So where exactly are we?” Helen asks as she and Aline walk hand in hand down the street.

“We’re in Paris in 1946, shortly after the end of World War II,” Aline explains. “You’ve mentioned a few times how much you love Paris, so I researched good time periods to visit, and this was on the list. Look.” She pulls Helen over to a nearby vendor. “Taste this croissant. It’s freshly baked.” She hands over a few coins to the vendor, then places the croissant in Helen’s hands.

Helen takes a bite and her eyes instantly fall shut. “Oh my god.”

“Good, right?” Aline asks.

“For being computer generated, it sure is,” Helen agrees. She looks around her. “They’re selling fruit over there,” she adds, pointing.

“Let’s go,” says Aline with a grin, taking Helen’s hand and leading her to the booth. “What are you in the mood for?”

“Strawberries,” Helen decides.

Aline picks up a couple of strawberries but ignores Helen when she extends one hand, instead holding one of the strawberries up to Helen’s mouth. Helen parts her lips and Aline gently feeds her the fruit. A little bit of juice dribbles down Helen’s chin and there’s a charged moment between the two of them before Helen licks the juice away.

“What do you want?” Helen asks at last.

“Surprise me,” Aline answers, and closes her eyes.

Helen turns toward the booth. The vendor points enthusiastically to their selection of grapes. Helen scoops up a few and starts to turn back toward Aline, but the vendor waves their hands frantically to catch her attention, then holds up a plate covered in Brie cheese. Helen stifles her laugh and grabs a piece, then tells Aline, “Open up.”

Aline opens her mouth and Helen delicately places a grape on her tongue, then another. Aline makes a pleased humming noise. Helen feeds her the piece of Brie cheese next and watches Aline chew happily, her eyes still closed to appreciate the taste more fully.

When Aline’s eyes finally flutter open, she looks very pleased. “Great surprise,” she murmurs.

“You want another surprise?” Helen asks.

“Yes please.”

“Close your eyes,” Helen instructs.

Aline does so and Helen steps close to brush her lips softly against Aline’s. She can feel Aline’s lips forming into a smile as she does so.

“Ok, that was an even better surprise,” Aline murmurs when they part.

“I’m glad. I had to say thank you for bringing me here. It was really sweet of you.”

“Only the best for my lady.” Aline reaches up to brush some hair out of Helen’s eyes.

Helen grabs her hand and presses a kiss to her wrist. They smile at one another for a moment, and then Aline turns around, pulling Helen with her. “C’mon, we’ve still got lots more to explore.”

 

 

“Astrophysics to the captain.”

Alec taps his comm badge. “Go ahead, Lieutenant Commander.”

“Sir, we have the latest data from our search available,” Catarina tells him.

“Send the data to my ready room, please,” Alec requests.

“Done, sir.”

Alec examines the new data present on his tablet. The data shows the various planets, most of them M-class, in their vicinity, as well as a few which are not M-class. However, there are no signs whatsoever of a wormhole or any spatial anomaly whatsoever – in other words, absolutely nothing that could lead them back to the Alpha Quadrant quickly. Alec holds in his sigh, not wanting to let Catarina know how disappointed is. It’s not like it’s her fault, and besides, the captain has to remain strong at all times.

“Are we close enough to any of the M-class planets to determine which have achieved warp speed?” he asks. Starfleet is forbidden from interacting with planets that haven’t achieved warp speed yet, which means they most likely aren’t aware of the existence of intelligent life outside of their solar system. Therefore, the arrival of an entirely different species (especially a species from the other side of the galaxy, in this case) would be too shocking, which is why first contact is forbidden until the planet becomes capable of travel outside their boundaries.

“Yes, we’re close enough to two of them to determine that they’ve managed warp speed,” Catarina confirms. “Should we set course for one of them?”

“Yes, I’ll alert the bridge that we should set course for the second planet,” Alec decides. “Thank you, Lieutenant Commander. Lightwood out.”

“Lightwood to bridge,” he says next.

“Yes, Captain,” Aline’s voice says.

“I’ve just sent you coordinates for a new M-class planet, please proceed.”

“Yes, sir. Coordinates received, sir.”

“Thank you. Inform me when we’re within communication range. Lightwood out.”

Alec turns back to the data he’d received from Catarina, intending to pore over it until he hears from the bridge, however long that may be. He’s interrupted by a buzz at the door.

“Enter.”

Magnus steps into the room. Their eyes zero in on the tablet in Alec’s hands and they make a tsk tsk noise. “Alexander, how long have you been staring at that thing?”

“Not long, actually. Catarina just sent me new data about three minutes ago. I swear,” he adds defensively when Magnus flashes him a disbelieving look.

“Well, what’s the news?” Magnus asks. They walk around Alec’s desk and perch on the arm of his chair. Alec automatically reaches up to wrap an arm around Magnus’ waist and help them maintain their balance.

“We have some M-class planets in range, but that’s about it. No wormholes or special anomalies that we could use to get us back home.”

“So, pretty much the same news Cat and Dot give us every time,” Magnus summarizes.

Alec sighs. “Essentially.”

“Hey,” Magnus says, apparently having sensed the stressed tone in Alec’s voice. “Don’t fret your pretty little head. We’ll find something eventually.”

“I know we will,” says Alec, “but what does ‘eventually’ mean? Does it mean three months from today, nine months, three years? Nine years? Or even longer?”

“It’s only been six months, darling,” Magnus reminds him. “And,” they continue quickly when Alec opens his mouth, “you’ve done a marvelous job of keeping up the crew’s morale in that time. I mean that, Alexander. The crew is continuously in good spirits. You’ve done a fantastic job of keeping them motivated and optimistic.”

“But, like you said, it’s only been six months. How will the crew feel when it’s been six years? Or sixteen? If we come across another planet similar to Earth II – any planet where the crew could feel at home – you know I have no right to keep them from staying. And I wouldn’t blame them. Who would want to stay on this ship for the next 74,5 years when they could find another Earth-like planet to live out their lives on?”

“No one chose that option when we found Earth II,” Magnus points out.

“That was at the beginning of our journey. There’s no knowing how the crew will feel in a year or two.”

“Maybe a few years from now, a few crew members would choose to stay on a planet, given the chance,” Magnus allows, “but the majority wouldn’t. This crew is loyal to you, Alexander, and they want to stay with you until the mission reaches its end.”

“I don’t want to stay with me out of a sense of obligation, though,” Alec argues. He’s aware he probably sounds whiny and petulant, but he can’t help it. This isn’t about being a successful Captain with a blindly loyal crew. He wants to be a successful Captain, sure, but he wouldn’t begrudge a few members of his crew wanting to literally abandon ship if the only other choice was to stay aboard Voyager for three quarters of a century. No, the problem is that as Captain, it’s his responsibility to take care of his crew, complete the mission to the best of his ability, and return his crew home safely. And right now he’s failing miserably. He needs to find a way to return his crew to the Alpha Quadrant as quickly as he possibly can, otherwise he’ll be a failure forever.

“They won’t,” Magnus says, pulling Alec from his thoughts. “They’re loyal you, yes, but they’re also loyal to Starfleet and to their jobs. They’ll want to stay on Voyager because this is the best place for them to be, in every way possible, and they wouldn’t be happy anywhere else. And yes, a large part of that does have to do with you. Because you’re a fantastic captain. And a wonderful person.”

“Yeah, because you’re not biased at all,” Alec mumbles. “You’re only my partner.”

“Will you shut up and accept the compliment,” Magus growls, but their voice is soft and affectionate, and Alec closes his eyes and presses his forehead to Magnus’, so grateful for his partner’s support – for their entire existence, actually.

“I love you so much,” Alec whispers. “Thank you.”

Magnus responds by cupping Alec’s face in their hands and tilting his face upward for a kiss. “I love you too, darling,” they say once the kiss ends. "And might I add, I’m proud of you.”

“You don’t have to keep telling me I’m a good captain, Magnus, you made that point already,” Alec mumbles.

“That’s not what I meant. I meant, I’m proud of you for kissing me while you’re on duty. You never would’ve done that at the beginning of our relationship.”

Alec breathes out a laugh. “That’s because I’ve become addicted to your kisses. I can’t resist you anymore.”

“Mmm, that’s good to know,” Magnus murmurs, leaning in for another kiss. Just before their lips meet, they add, “I do think you’re a good captain, by the way, and I’ll keep telling you that until you believe it.”

Alec grips the lapels of Magnus’ suit and pulls them down into a much fiercer kiss.

 

 

 

 

“What’s today’s star date?” Clary asks as she brushes her hair.

 “2376.15,” Isabelle answers.

“January 15th already?” Clary says, surprised. “That means we’ve been in the Delta Quadrant for six months now.”

“It’s difficult to believe,” Maia says thoughtfully. “Six months is a long time, but it both feels like we’ve been here forever and also like it was just yesterday that we arrived.”

“The day we arrived was unbelievable,” Clary recalls. “First we wind up on the other side of the galaxy, then I find out that my apparently dead father is actually alive, and then…you helped me with that map for Alec and I developed a massive crush on you within just a few seconds.” She directs those last words at Maia, grinning.

“That was my plan all along,” Maia says teasingly.

“Your plan all along was to leave me for Clary?” Isabelle demands, the fake anger in her voice so over-the-top that both Clary and Maia struggle to keep a straight face.

“My plan all along was to get both of you,” Maia replies. “And I succeeded.”

“You sure did,” Clary says, beaming. “We all succeeded, because we all got each other.”

“And it really couldn’t get any better than this,” Isabelle concludes.

“And no matter what happens…if we’re here another six months….or another six years…we’re still going to be together,” Clary adds.

“Is it likely we’ll be here another six years?” Maia muses.

“Alec said Dot and Catarina haven’t found anything new,” says Isabelle. “They’ve been checking periodically for the past six months, but there’s nothing. It could be that they find something tomorrow. Or a year from now. Or it could be that they never find anything, and we’ll have to make the entire trip back home ourselves.”

“That wouldn’t really be so bad though, would it?” Clary asks. She looks between her two girlfriends. “I mean…I’m just speaking for myself, but I have you two, and I have Luke. I don’t really need anything else.”

“Same for me,” says Maia.

“As long as I have Alec and you two, I don’t care where I am,” Isabelle agrees. “I just don’t think Alec realizes that. Most of the crew isn’t in a rush to get back to the Alpha Quadrant – I know he and Luke and Magnus aren’t either – but there are a few crew members who are actively hoping for a miracle. But even those members still trust Alec and know he’s doing his best to get them back home, yet Alec can’t see that. He’s driving himself sick with worry that he’s failing as captain.”

“Alec’s the best captain I’ve ever worked with,” Clary says. “I mean…this is my first assignment, but I worked with a lot of captains during training at the Academy and none of them can compare to Alec.”

“For Starfleet he’s not bad,” Maia agrees, her lips twitching with an amused smile.

“He’ll be all right,” Isabelle reassures Clary; Clary must not have been as good at hiding the worried expression on his face as she’d thought. “Magnus will work on him.”

“Speaking of, we could get to work ourselves,” Clary says brightly.

“You really have a one-track mind,” Maia laughs.

“I was just talking about cuddles,” says Clary with a pout.

“I’ll cuddle you,” Isabelle says, stepping forward to wrap her arms around Clary and kiss her cheek.

“Me too,” Maia says, playfully hip checking Isabelle until she moves over and gives her room to kiss Clary’s other cheek.

 

 

“Do you realize that as of today, we’ve been in the Delpha Quadrant for six months?” Helen asks.

Aline looks up from her tablet. “Is that so? Wow. The time seems to have flown by. But…they’ve also been a good six months.”

Helen leans over in bed and kisses her.

“A very good six months,” Aline amends.

Helen grins at her. “The best six months.” She presses a kiss to Aline’s nose before she pulls away, causing Aline to giggle.

“You know…Alec hasn’t found any way to get us back to Alpha Quadrant faster,” Aline says once her giggles fade. “Dot and Catarina are checking constantly, but they haven’t found anything.”

“I guessed as much,” says Helen, her tone much more serious.

“You don’t mind, do you? I mean, I know back when we were on Earth II you said you were going to stay on the ship, but that was nearly six months ago…and we were a lot more optimistic back then…”

“I’m staying on the ship,” Helen interrupts, her voice gentle. She places her hand on top of Aline’s. “No matter what. You’re my girlfriend and I’m not leaving you behind. I love you, Aline.”

Aline releases her breath in a relieved sigh. “I love you too.”

“C’mere,” Helen says, opening her arms, and Aline accepts her embrace gratefully.

 

 

“Captain, incoming message,” Clary announces.

“Onscreen,” Alec instructs.

A humanoid species appears on the screen. There are two of them, both with scaly green skin and clawed hands. They look extremely reptilian, but are still undeniably humanoids.

“This is Captain Lightwood of the Federation starship Voyager,” Alec tells the species. “How may we assist you?”

“Captain, I am Lemara, und this is my partner, Osheek. We require assistance with the oceans on our planet. A species of sea animal is going extinct and we believe it’s due to pollution in the waters, but we can’t be sure. Can you help us?”

Alec glances over his shoulder and sees Maia already approaching him. He returns his attention to the screen. “I have an excellent science officer aboard who will be happy to assist you. Please send us coordinates for where we can meet you and we’ll be with you shortly.”

“Coordinates received, sir,” Clary confirms a moment later.

“We’ll meet you in ten minutes,” Alec tells Lemara. “Voyager out.” Clary disables the view screen.

“Lieutenant Roberts, Commander Garroway, and Commander Bane, the three of you, along with Lieutenant Lightwood, will go on this away mission.” He taps his comm badge. “Bridge to Lieutenant Lightwood.”

“Yes, Captain,” Isabelle’s voice responds.

“You are requested for an away mission on the planet. Please proceed immediately to the transport bay.”

“Acknowledged.”

Alec glances over at Magnus next. Magnus flashes him a small smile. “You’re staying on board this time, Captain?”

“The Captain can’t go on every single mission.” He reaches over and squeezes Magnus’ hand. He wants to do more, but there is protocol he has to follow, and kissing his partner on the bridge does not follow said protocol. (Kissing while alone in his ready room is different).

He can tell from Magnus’ widening smile that they’ve understood the meaning behind Alec’s touch. “We’ll be back soon, darling,” they murmur, before rising from their seat and following Luke and Maia off the bridge.

 

 

Luke can hear Maia and Isabelle whispering with one another as they follow him and Magnus to the transport bay. He can’t make out exactly what they’re saying, but based on the fact that every other word interspersed with giggles, he knows it must be flirting. He doesn’t bother reprimanding them; they’re not officially on duty for the away mission until they enter the transport bay.

He feels eyes on him and turns in time to exchange an amused smile with Magnus.

“They’re cute,” Magnus says quietly. “I’m glad to see their relationship is still thriving.”

“So am I,” Luke whispers back. “I think they thought they were good about keeping their relationship a secret while they were on the Maquis, but everyone knew. At least I did.”

“So did I,” Magnus says with a smirk. “It seems like nothing can get in their way. As soon as they were both on Voyager, they picked up right where they’d left off. And brought your daughter in.” They glance sideways at Luke. “You’re ok with that, I assume? That your daughter is in a relationship with two people at the same time?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Luke asks. “They love her and she loves them. They make each other happy. That’s all that matters.”

“And what about you?”

“What about me?”

“Everyone has someone. Dot and Catarina, Sam and Ollie…Helen and Aline; Clary, Isabelle, and Maia; and Alec and myself. Don’t you want someone for yourself?”

“I had someone,” Luke reminds them. “And I wasn’t there when she died.”

“Luke…you can’t blame yourself for that. How were you to know? Jocelyn wouldn’t want you to punish yourself for that and you know it. And neither would Clary.”

Luke is silent for several moments while he considers that. Finally, he mumbles, “There’s no one on board who I feel a connection with anyway. I mean, we’ve been on this ship for a year and I haven’t met anyone who’s captured my attention – that means something, don’t you think?”

“Maybe,” Magnus concedes, and Luke starts to think the topic has been dropped, until Magnus adds: “Or maybe you just haven’t allowed yourself to look until now.”

Luckily, they arrive at the transport bay then, saving Luke from having to respond. He hears Maia and Isabelle quiet down behind him as they all take their places.

“Beaming to the planet,” Ollie says.

The transport deposits them inside the building Lemara had called them from – more specifically, inside what appears to be a conference room. Lemara and Osheek are there waiting for them and stand to greet them when they materialize.

“I’m Commander Bane,” Magnus says, stepping forward to make the introductions. “This is Commander Garroway, Dr. Lightwood, and our science officer, Lieutenant Roberts.”

“Welcome,” Lemara says, nodding to all of them. “Thank you so much for coming. We’re Lemara and Osheek and we’re president and co-president of our planet’s Oceans Preservations Committee. We’ve been noticing that many members of a certain species have been dying suddenly with no apparent cause. They’re now on the risk of extinction if we don’t do something soon.”

“What is the estimated timeline for extinction?” Maia asks.

“Twenty years,” Lemara says grimly. Maia winces.

“Ok, let me have a look at the data,” she requests.

For the next couple of hours, Magnus and Luke review the data with Maia, Lemara, and Osheek. Maia asks multiple questions, double checks various facts.

“We don’t have the technology to fix this problem on our own,” Osheek explains. “We don’t even possess the technology to determine exactly what the problem is. That’s why we need your help.”

“Well, I think I’ve seen as much as I can here,” Maia decides. “I’ll need to visit the ocean and take samples.”

“Of course,” Lemara says. “Follow us, please.”

Luke leads their group after Lemara and Osheek. The beach is just outside, and Luke has to smile at Maia’s happy exhale when she catches sight of the water. He watches her as she approaches the water’s edge and kneels to collect samples. There’s a pleased smile on her face, and she looks more relaxed than he’s used to seeing her – or at least as he was used to seeing her on the Maquis. Being on Voyager has been good for her, he thinks – Clary and Isabelle’s companionship, a break from the constant fighting and bloodshed of the war against the Clave….and now she’s in her element, working with water.

Maybe Magnus had been right and he should start looking for someone who can make him look as relaxed as Maia does.

“Isabelle, could you help me?” Maia calls.

Isabelle joins her and they spend the next few minutes together collecting and organizing samples. Lemara and Osheek wander over to them and ask Maia questions while Isabelle takes over organizing the samples.

“Ca you believe it’s been a year since we left the Downworlders and rejoined Starfleet?” Luke asks Magnus.

Magnus chuckles. “If you’d told me this time last year where I’d be today, I would’ve laughed in your face.”

“I’m fine with where we are though,” Luke says. “The only thing I don’t like is not knowing what’s going on with the war with the Clave. Not knowing how our friends in the Downworld are doing. Who knows if the war is still going on? What if all our friends are imprisoned? I don’t like not knowing that.”

“Me neither,” says Magnus, their voice hushed.

“But we have no way of finding out. It would take 74 years for any message of ours to reach the Alpha Quadrant.” Luke sighs. “I try not to think about it too much, since I know I can’t do anything to change it. Mostly I think about glad I am that things turned out the way they did. I know that sounds strange, considering that we’re so far from home and working with Starfleet again, but….it isn’t all that bad.”

“It’s not bad at all,” Magnus says, a soft smile appearing on their face that Luke recognizes instantly. He can’t help but laugh.

“Oh, you have got it so bad.”

“I was never hiding that,” Magnus sniffs, making Luke laugh again.

“Alec’s a great captain,” Luke agrees. “I don’t think we would’ve been happy like this on any other ship besides his.” He doesn’t need Magnus to agree out loud; it’s clear from the lovesick look on their face that they’re on the same page.

“And if there’s any way for us to get home sooner and find out what happened to our friends, Dot and Catarina will find it,” Magnus adds.

“They’re the best,” Luke confirms.

“Ok,” Maia says, rising to her feet. “I think I’ve collected enough samples. We can go back to the research center for analysis.”

Luke and Magnus follow the others back inside. Luke, bringing up the rear, turns right before he steps over the threshold, convinced he had seen a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye. After a moment, however, he shrugs, assuming he must have imagined it, and steps fully inside the room.

“Do you already have a hypothesis?” Osheek asks as Maia and Isabelle spread the samples they’ve gathered over the table.

“Yes, but I’d rather not say anything right now,” Maia responds.

“I understand. Please let us know if we can assist you with the analysis,” Lemara says.

Maia and Isabelle begin analyzing the samples, occasionally asking Magnus, who has a scientific background as well, for a third opinion. Maia, as the marine biologist, is doing the most work, but she seems to value input from Magnus and Isabelle. Finally, Maia looks up at Lemara and Osheek.

“It definitely seems to be industrial pollution,” she tells them. “Do you know of any company nearby which produces these chemicals?” She hands over her report.

Lemara’s eyes widen. “Yes we do. This company has been summoned to court multiple times due to suspected negligence in waste disposal, but they’ve never been officially punished. If we could show this evidence to the court, this company is bound to be in serious trouble!”

“Will you accompany us to the court and help us present our case?” Osheek asks.

Maia hesitates. “We can’t,” she says after a quick glance at Luke and Magnus. “Our laws prevent us from becoming too involved with other cultures and their way of life. But all the information you need is right here in this report. If you present this in court, I have no doubt it will be enough to bring this company to justice.”

“This report is much more detailed and specific than anything we’ve been able to produce before,” Lemara admits. “I’m sure we can use this. Thank you so much, Lieutenant Roberts.”

“You’re w –”

Suddenly, Luke senses movement out of the corner of his eye. It turns out that shadowy figure he thought he’d imagined earlier had been real after all. “Maia, get down,” he urges her. Magnus draws their phaser next to him.

The shadowy figure turns out to be two separate people, something Luke unfortunately hadn’t been able to anticipate. He lunges toward Maia and Isabelle while Magnus moves toward Lemara and Osheek. Both Luke and Magnus draw their phasers, firing at the two intruders. The intruder Magnus had been aiming at goes down instantly, Magnus’ phaser having been set to stun. Luke, however, struggles with the alien he’s fighting, unable to fire a good hit. Magnus rushes over to join him, but there was no need; Maia and Isabelle have already helped Luke take them down.

There’s a moment of stunned silence, broken by Lemara saying shakily, “I don’t recognize them, but I bet you anything they’re from the chemical company. They must have been watching us for some time and realized that we were trying to build up a case against them.”

“I’ve called the police,” Osheek whispers. “They should be here any second.”

Magnus moves back toward the two of them – probably to comfort and reassure them, Luke thinks, since they both seem pretty shaken up – and that’s when disaster strikes. Apparently the intruder Magnus had taken down so quickly had just been faking, and as soon as Magnus is within range, they reach up and stab them in the leg. Magnus crumples instantly to the ground.

The next several minutes are chaos. The police arrive and wrestle the intruder into submission. They take statements from Osheek and Lemara and then take the two intruders away. Luke, however, is only vaguely aware of all of this happening, because he’s too busy watching in horror as Isabelle hovers over Magnus, who is rapidly bleeding out from the stab wound in their leg.

“They punctured the femoral artery,” Isabelle explains, her voice unnaturally calm and steady. “They’ll bleed out within the next few minutes if I can’t –” She pulls out her hypospray and moves it over Magnus’ injury, which injects the medicine directly into their system. After several long, deliberate swipes, she switches the hypospray for her tricorder to perform an internal scan.

“Everything’s been knit back up,” she announces, to Luke’s immense relief. “There’s no signs of internal bleeding, only signs of rejuvenation…but we still need to get them to sick bay immediately. I want to keep them for observation for at least 24 hours.”

Luke nods. “Why don’t you beam up with them first, and Maia and I will stay here to wrap things up.”

“Ok, good idea.” Isabelle activates her comm badge. “Lightwood to Voyager. Two to beam up, directly to sick bay.”

“Acknowledged,” Sam’s voice says. A moment later, Isabelle, supporting the still unconscious Magnus, shimmer out of view. Luke and Maia turn back to Lemara and Osheek, who understandably look a bit shell-shocked.

“Will you be okay?” Maia asks gently. “I’m really sorry this happened to you both.”

“We’ll be fine,” Lemara answers, their voice admirably even. “We have more than enough evidence now to bring this company to justice and stop them from intentionally poisoning the ocean and harming the animals who live there. I’m so sorry about what happened to your colleague –”

“They’ll be ok,” Maia says reassuringly. “Isabelle already healed them, now they just need to recuperate.”

“That’s good to hear.” Osheek holds out their hand for Maia and Luke to shake. “Thank you so much for your help.”

“It was my pleasure, truly,” Maia says.

“We should get back to our ship now,” says Luke, “but we’ll stay in orbit for a few more hours, so feel free to contact us again if you need any more help today.”

“We’ll keep that in mind, thank you. Now get back to your ship and give your colleague our best wishes,” says Lemara.

“Garroway to Voyager. Two to beam up, directly to sick bay, please.”

“Acknowledged,” Sam answers. A second later, Luke, Maia at his side, finds himself in sick bay. Magnus is resting in one of the beds while Isabelle moves her tricorder over them, taking scans. Alec, predictably, is at Magnus’ side, holding their hand in his.

“I’m never letting you go on an away mission by yourself again,” Alec is saying.

Magnus, who’s conscious now, rolls their eyes. “You’re overreacting.”

“You got stabbed,” Alec shoots back, his voice shaking a little. “You almost bled out!”

“And how exactly would you have prevented that, if you had been there?” Magnus demands. 

“I would’ve pushed you out of the way.”

“And gotten stabbed yourself? I don’t like the sound of that,” Magnus frowns.

“And I didn’t like hearing that the love of my life had been nearly stabbed to death and was unconscious from blood loss,” Alec snaps.

“Alec, I’m sorry, but can you have this conversation later?” Isabelle interrupts. “Magnus needs to relax and they can’t do that if you’re sitting here arguing with them.”

“Fine,” says Alec reluctantly. “Can I stay if I keep quiet?”

Isabelle’s lips twitch. “Yes, if you shut up, you can stay.”

“Good.”

Isabelle glances over at Luke and Maia as she continues taking scans. “You two all right? How’d it go with Lemara and Osheek?”

“Fine,” Luke replies. “They’re confident they can win this case against that industrial company and get them to stop what they’re doing. And they send you their best, Magnus.”

“I’ll be here for the rest of the day,” Alec tells him, “so please send your debriefing report directly to my tablet when you’re finished.”

“Yessir. Magnus, I’ll come back later and check on you, yeah?”

“Only if you promise not to bitch at me like Alec is,” says Magnus, drawing a “Hey!” from Alec.

Luke grins. “I promise.”

 

 

Alec stirs when he feels movement beside him. He opens his eyes and sees Magnus awake and stretching next to him.

“Hey,” he whispers.

“Good morning,” Magnus replies.

“How are you feeling?”

“Perfect. You?”

“I’m not the one who got stabbed yesterday.”

“I’m fine, Alexander. And as long as you’re asleep next to me, I’ll never not be good.”

Alec narrows his eyes. “Don’t sweet talk me to distract me. I’m still upset.”

“Alexander, I promise, I’m fine. Isabelle was there and she took wonderful care of me. Everything’s good now.”

“I just – I can’t stomach the idea of losing you. When I got that call from Izzy saying you were in sick bay…”

Magnus’ expression softens. “I know, darling. I would have reacted the same if our situations had been reversed.”

“I love you,” Alec whispers, his voice rough with unshed tears. He snuggles closer and rests his forehead against Magnus’.

“I love you too,” Magnus whispers back.

“Please don’t ever leave me.”

“I won’t, I promise…”

Their lips have barely met in a kiss when Catarina’s voice fills the room. “Astrophysics to Captain Lightwood.”

Alec reluctantly pulls back from Magnus and touches his comm badge. “Proceed, Lieutenant Commander.”

“Captain, please report to Astrophysics. Dot and I believe we’ve discovered a wormhole.”

Alec freezes. “A wormhole? But…there was nothing on the scans you produced for me last week.”

“This wormhole just recently appeared,” Catarina explains. “Dot and I thought we noticed it yesterday when we approached this planet, but we couldn’t be sure at the time….but our most recent tests have confirmed it. It’s a wormhole, Captain.”

“Do we know where it’s leading?” Alec asks, barely breathing.

“We can launch a probe right away if you give the order, Captain.”

“Launch it,” Alec answers instantly. “I’ll be with you shortly. Lightwood out.” He turns back to Magnus. “Holy shit…”

“I know,” Magnus says, voice hushed. “This could change everything.”

Chapter Text

“The probe has left the Delta Quadrant,” Dot reports. “We’re tracking its movements and….it’s in the Alpha Quadrant now, sir.”

Alec blows out a heavy breath. “No traceable damage to the probe?”

“None, sir.”

“So this is it,” Alec realizes. “If we use this wormhole, we could be back home within minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” Dot confirms.

Alec looks between her and Catarina. “What is your opinion? Should we do this?”

Dot and Catarina exchange glances. “Do you want an honest answer, sir?” Catarina asks.

“Please.”

“I think we should take the chance,” Catarina says. “We have no idea when another opportunity like this will arise.” 

“I agree,” Dot chips in.

Alec nods. “That’s what I think too. I’ll bring this up with the crew.”

 

The crew reacts essentially the same way that Alec had expected: they’re all in favor of traveling through the wormhole. “All right,” Alec announces once the votes have been cast. “We’ll commence in one hour. For now, return to your stations.” He waits until he sees the crew obeying before turning on his heel and returning to sick bay, where Magnus is still being held for observation.

“How is it looking?” Alec asks as he steps inside the room. Isabelle is performing scans on Magnus again and doesn’t look up until she’s completed them.

“Well, Magnus has only been here for 18 hours instead of the 24 hours I was hoping, but – all of their scans look good. I see no lingering damage – everything has healed up nicely. So, this time only, I’ll make an exception and release Magnus early so they can sit on the bridge with you.”

“Thank God,” Magnus says. Isabelle narrows her eyes at them.

“You’ve been lovely,” Magnus says quickly, “but I need to get out of this bed and this room. I need a change of scenery.”

“You sure the bridge counts as a good change of scenery?” Isabelle asks.

“Of course it does. Alec is there.”

Isabelle shakes her head, chuckling. “You two are ridiculous.”

Neither Alec nor Magnus respond because as soon as Magnus was on their feet, Alec had immediately stepped in to kiss them.

“Get out of my office,” Isabelle says.

 

An hour later, Alec and Magnus settle into their seats on the bridge. The atmosphere on the bridge is tense and expectant; no one is speaking, but their nerves are palpable in the air. Magnus watches Alec breathe slowly in and out to calm himself; when he speaks, his voice is even and steady.

“Ensign Penhallow,” he directs at Aline. “Proceed with the coordinates sent from Astrophysics.”

“Yessir,” Aline answers, her voice just as steady as Alec’s. Her hands glide steadily over the control panel as well, and Magnus feels so proud of her – so proud of everyone in this crew, in fact. To say that they’d been nervous about their crew mixing with Alec’s would be a massive understatement, but it had all unfolded perfectly, in a way they could never have imagined. Their crew had apparently respected them, and Luke, enough to cooperate with Alec’s crew – but that wasn’t all. Alec had made it clear to his crew from the beginning that they should treat the Downworlders with respect and his crew had listened. It had been a year now since that fateful day when Voyager and the Maquis had first been sucked into the wormhole – a blessing in disguise, honestly.

Magnus swallows hard, not sure how to feel. On the one hand, they know how important it is that Voyager makes it back to the Alpha Quadrant – and accomplishing it in one year instead of the expected 75 is nothing short of a miracle. But despite Alec’s stubbornness that he won’t let anything happen to the Downworlders on the crew, Magnus can’t help but worry. How much power will Alec have in this situation? Is he really prepared to risk everything to fight not only all of Starfleet, but also the entire Federation?

They glance over at Alec, who is sitting straight in his chair, his posture making him look powerful, confident, and in control. It’s only because Magnus catches sight of Alec’s fingers drumming quietly against the armrest of his chair that clues them in that their partner isn’t as calm and collected as he appears.

Alec glances over then and catches Magnus’ eyes on him. He seems to read everything Magnus is currently feeling on their face and his own expression changes, becomes much more earnest but also, somehow, much softer and gentler at the same time.

“Magnus, I swear,” he says, his voice pitched low so no one else will be able to hear. “I’ll make it happen.”

“I know you will, darling,” Magnus murmurs. “I have the utmost faith in you.”

Alec holds out his hand, surprising Magnus. As much as Alec has changed in the past year – as much as he’s loosened up, become less rigid, more open – he’s still always remained professional while on the bridge, and that had included no public displays of affection. It’s not like holding hands is an ostentatious display, but it’s still a first, and Magnus is touched. They slide their hand inside Alec’s, but Alec takes it a step further, entwining their fingers and then raising their joined hands to his lips. He brushes a kiss across the back of Magnus’ hand, their knuckles, their fingertips, until Magnus can feel tears forming in the corners of their eyes.

“You and me,” Alec whispers. “Always.”

“Always,” Magnus echoes, their voice tight.

“Approaching the wormhole, Captain,” Aline announces.

Without looking away from Magnus, Alec asks simply, “Helen?” and Helen responds promptly, “No sign of resistance from the ship, sir. All systems appear to be functioning at 100%.”

“Engage, Ensign Penhallow,” Alec orders.

It seems like the entire bridge collectively holds its breath as Aline steers the ship into the wormhole. Magnus tightens their grip around Alec’s hand as the ship is dragged in by the wormhole’s gravity, tugged along at breakneck speed while the crew has no choice but to sit back and pray.

And then it’s over. Voyager comes to an abrupt standstill, and everything is suddenly calm again. Alec clears his throat before asking, “Ensign Fray?”

“Our coordinates are once again in the Alpha Quadrant, sir,” Clary replies. “We’re currently only about an hour away from Earth, sir.”

Magnus can sense everyone glancing at each other out of the corner of their eye. They can also see Alec’s posture loosening up and a smile forming on his face. “All right, everyone,” Alec tells the bridge crew. “Let’s give a well-deserved round of applause to our magnificent pilot, Aline, for getting us through the wormhole safely.”

Everyone instantly bursts into applause – Helen can be heard whistling more loudly than everyone.

“Thank you, Aline,” Alec tells her once the crew has quieted down. He taps his comm badge. “Attention crew. We have successfully traveled through the wormhole and are now only one hour away from Earth. Please take a moment of silence to appreciate the hard work of our pilot, Ensign Penhallow, for her excellent navigation skills, and for Lieutenant Commanders Rollins and Loss for their hard work and efforts which payed off in discovering the wormhole.”

After a few moments of respectful silence, Alec continues. “We will now begin our approach to Earth. Please stand by for further instructions.”

Alec returns to his seat and the rest of the bridge crew follows suit. Alec instructs Aline to proceed to Earth and after they’re once again underway, he turns to Magnus.

“This is almost over, babe,” he murmurs.

“As long as we’re together, there’s nothing we can’t handle,” Magnus answers, and they mean it.

 

 

“This is Starfleet Command. Please identify yourself.”

“This is Captain Alec Lightwood of the Federation starship Voyager.”

There’s a stunned silence from the other end of the channel. The silence stretches on for several seconds, for so long that Alec glances over his shoulder at Clary to confirm that the channel is still open and functioning. After a quick nod from her, he turns back around in his seat, just in time for a very familiar voice to reach his ears.

“Alec? Is that really you?”

Alec breaks protocol for just one second to answer, “Yeah Mom, it’s me.” The words catch in his throat a little.

“What…what happened to Voyager?”

“While completing our original assignment to track down the Marquis, both of our ships were dragged into a disintegrating wormhole. The result landed both ships in the Delta Quadrant.”

“The Delta Quadrant?” Maryse gasps. “Then how did you manage to get back here so quickly?”

“Another convenient wormhole,” Alec says. He can still barely believe he’s talking to his mother again. He never thought he’d hear her voice again, much less see her (even though it’s only through a viewscreen at the moment, but still).

“This means you were in the Delta Quadrant for the entire year you were missing?” Maryse sounds like she’s struggling to maintain her composure as well.

“Yes. We encountered several alien civilizations and made several astonishing discoveries. The amount of new information we’ve gathered for Starfleet is truly incredible.”

There’s another pause – Alec can make out some background noise and assumes Maryse is talking to someone.

Sure enough, when she speaks again, her voice sounds much more formal and controlled than it had previously. “Captain Lightwood, when you say we – are you referring solely to the crew of Voyager, or is the Maquis included in this?”

“The crew of the Maquis no longer exists,” Alec says, matching his tone to his mother’s. “They joined the Voyager crew at the beginning of our mission.”

Silence once again. “The Maquis crew has been serving aboard your ship?”

“As previously stated, there is no Maquis crew. The former members joined Starfleet’s ranks immediately after their ship was destroyed by the wormhole.”

“On whose authority?”

“My authority,” Alec says, officially losing his patience and not caring who knows it. He has no idea how many people are with his mother in Starfleet Command – he can only see his mother on the screen right now; everyone else must be standing offscreen. For all he knows his boss’ bosses are standing there, but he doesn’t care anymore. He’s not going to sit here for another hour debating the existence or non-existence of the Maquis crew.

“Captain Lightwood.” His mother’s voice is replaced by one Alec doesn’t recognize. “The crew members of the Maquis are confirmed Downworlders. They committed treason against not only Starfleet, but also the United Federation of Planets. They need to be brought to justice.”

“They have been brought to justice,” Alec states calmly. “They’ve served as members of this crew for the past year. They’ve worked in union and harmony with us and proved what a commendable work ethic they have. I’m proud to have them serve with me.”

“Regardless of your personal feelings, Captain Lightwood, that doesn’t change the fact that all Dornworlders have committed treason –”

“How exactly have they committed treason?” Alec interrupts. “Because they decided to fight to protect the lives of innocents? The victims of genocide? Was putting a stop to war and violence and discrimination not one of the founding guidelines of Federation history?”

“Of course the Federation doesn’t support those kinds of atrocities, but we are Starfleet, and the Prime Directive clearly states –”

“If you attempt to prosecute any member of my crew, I will resign my commission.”

“So will I,” says Isabelle abruptly from behind Alec.

“So will I,” Helen and Aline say simultaneously.

“Me too,” Clary adds.

“Engineering to bridge,” comes Ollie’s voice suddenly.

Alec can’t imagine that Ollie would interrupt this moment unless there was something serious going on, so he touches his comm badge. “Go ahead.”

“We would just like to add, everyone in engineering will resign their commissions as well.”

“Everyone from sick bay will as well,” Isabelle chips in. “My staff just notified me.”

“I think our point has been made,” Alec says, turning back to the viewscreen. “Our crew has 150 people who are originally Starfleet. If you add that to the others who have deserted to join the Downworlders…you’re rapidly losing a large percentage of your workforce. And of course this trend will just continue.”

“Are you blackmailing us?” the still unseen Starfleet member asks – or rather snarls.

“Yes,” says Alec simply.

Maryse takes over the conversation again. “Alec…Captain Lightwood. We…have been discussing the treatment of the Downworlders in the past year. After Voyager and the Maquis went missing, the war between the Downworlders and the Clave took a turn for the worse –” Alec feels Magnus’ hand squeeze around his and gives a reassuring squeeze back.

“There were many casualties on both sides. We had just been discussing if we should initiate action to end the war when you returned to us. This seems like a sign, in my opinion.”

“Admiral Lightwood,” says the same voice from before, sounding even more furious than before. “Please do not exaggerate. There were no discussions. You proposed – but no one else –”

“I remember there being quite a bit of support for my proposal, Admiral Herondale,” Maryse answers coolly. She turns back to Alec. “Captain Lightwood, if you would be willing to work with us to proceed with the plans to end the war, we will provide pardons to all Downworlders. No charges will be pressed against anyone.”

Alec looks at Magnus for confirmation, unwilling to make the decision without them. The overjoyed look on Magnus’ face is answer enough. He looks back at the viewscreen. “We accept those terms. Permission to return to Earth?”

“Permission granted. We will meet you at Docking Bay 12A,” Maryse confirms.

“Acknowledged. Voyager out.”

Clary turns off the viewscreen and closes the communication channel. There’s a moment of silence and then the entire bridge bursts into cheers. Alec, meanwhile, isn’t paying attention to anyone except Magnus.

“You did it,” Magnus whispers; Alec can only hear them because Magnus has cradled Alec’s face in their hands and pressed their foreheads together. “You did it, Alexander.”

Their faces are close enough together that Alec can feel the tears rolling down Magnus’ face. “We did it,” he corrects. “None of this would’ve been possible without you.”

“I love you so much,” Magnus says, their voice breaking.

“I love you too, babe. And now there’s nothing stopping us, is there? We can be together forever with nothing standing in our way.”

Magnus wraps their arms around Alec’s shoulders and buries their face in Alec’s neck, and Alec holds on just as tightly, never wanting to let go.

 

When Alec steps onto the docking bay, several important looking people are waiting for them, but Alec has eyes only for Maryse. He glances over at Magus to check that they’re ok with this; at Magnus’ encouraging nod, Alec pulls them over to Maryse.

“Mother,” he says warmly, “this is my partner, Magnus Bane.”

“Hello, Magnus. I’m Maryse Lightwood. Welcome back to the Alpha Quadrant.”

“Thank you,” Magnus answers, their voice equally friendly.

Maryse hugs Alec first, so tightly that he can barely breathe, but he doesn’t mind. Then, to his amazement, she hugs Magnus too. Magnus flashes Alec a wide-eyed look over Maryse’s shoulder, but they don’t seem bothered, just stunned.

Then Isabelle appears with Maia and Clary in tow and for several minutes there’s nothing happening except lots of tight hugs and tears and introductions. Alec has never seen Maryse look as happy as she does now.

Finally, Maryse informs them that there will be a debriefing tomorrow at 0900 hours and releases them to their temporary lodging.

“This all feels a bit surreal,” Magnus says as they enter their assigned room. “So many things happened today…not the least of which is you being reunited with your mother. How did that feel? I know you had a complicated relationship with her.”

“I did. I used to resent her when I was younger for putting so much pressure on me, with the Academy and everything…but we did talk about it once, after I made Captain, and things got better after that. Plus…what with me thinking I’d never see her again…that really changed things.”

“I completely understand,” Magnus says, dropping their bags on the bed and then turning back around to face Alec. “And I can’t believe everything else that’s happened today. Starfleet is going to try to end the war, the entire crew made it back safe and sound, the Downworlders aren’t penalized….and I have you. Forever.”

“I really like the sound of that,” Alec murmurs.

“You do, do you?” Magnus slides their arms around Alec’s neck and begins playing with the hair at the nape of Alec’s neck.

“Very much. Did you know, every time we hug, you always play with my hair?”

“I do?” Magnus asks, sounding amused. “Well, did you know that your voice always becomes very soft when you talk to me?”

“Mmm. You just bring it out in me, I guess.” Alec smiles and dips his head to give Magnus a long, lingering kiss. His hands slide down to trail against Magnus’ chest and Magnus’ grip in his hair tightens in response.

The kiss slowly comes to an end and Alec pulls back slightly. “Hey, so. Sit down for a second, I want to ask you something.”

Magnus sinks down onto the bed and Alec joins them. “We’ve been through so much together, haven’t we?” Alec starts. “And for me, every second we’ve spent together has been the best of my life. Even when you were angry with me or when we were fighting…it just made me want to be a better person. Everything about you makes me want to be a better person. Not just that, but I feel like when I’m around you, I’m the best version of myself. I’m happier and more confident and sure of myself, and I’m – I just never thought I could have this, you know? To feel so close to another person, and to feel like…god, I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Magnus says, smiling at Alec like they’ve never seen anything more beautiful.

“Magnus,” Alec says, “I can’t imagine ever being without you again…will you marry me?” He pulls a ring box out of his pocket and opens it to reveal a beautiful silver band. “I had it engraved too. On the inside it says Aku cinta kamu.”

“Indonesian for I love you,” Magnus whispers. “Alexander, where – where and when did you get this?”

“Last week after we finished that archaeological mission on Votra Prime,” Alec explains. “Remember when you volunteered to supervise the return of the equipment? I went into town and bought this.”

“Did you get one for yourself too?”

“I did,” Alec confirms. “Are you – is this you saying yes?”

“Of course I’m saying yes! How many times have I said that I want to be with you forever?”

Alec can feel a huge smile taking over his face. “Yes?” he checks. “You’re saying you want to marry me?”

“Yes,” says Magnus, laughing. “But I want to propose to you too.”

“Ok, go for it,” says Alec, giddy.

“Alexander. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The past year with you has been the happiest of my life, and there’s nothing I look forward to more than many more happy and wonderful years with you at my side. Will you marry me?”

“Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you, Magnus.”

Magnus beams at him. “Give me the ring, darling.”

Alec reverently slides the ring onto Magnus’ finger, then, when Magnus gestures, pulls out the other ring so Magnus can place it his finger. Once both rings are on, they both just stare at them, both of them hardly breathing.

“We just got engaged,” Alec says, voice hushed.

“We really did. Alexander…I love you so much.”

“Not as much as I love you.”

“We are not having this argument again,” Magnus protests, laughing again.

“Why, because you’re afraid you’ll lose?”

“Just shut up and kiss me.”

“Gladly.”  

 

 

Luke can’t fall asleep that night. So many things happened today that he can’t relax his brain long enough to fall asleep. Finally, after two hours of lying restlessly in bed, he gives up and decides to head outside.

It’s a bit chilly outside, despite being June in San Francisco, and he’s grateful that he brought a jacket as he wanders through the gardens outside of Starfleet Command. Luckily it’s well lit and he can admire the flowers as he walks along. He’s just starting to think that he’s relaxed enough to return to bed when he bumps into someone.

“Oh, I’m so sorry – Admiral Lightwood,” he says as he recognizes Maryse. “I didn’t even see you.”

“It’s quite all right,” Maryse says, smiling. “I wasn’t paying attention either.” Then she seems to recognize him too. “Lucian? Lucian Garroway? I – well, I saw you on the docking bay earlier, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to you.”

“Yeah, I saw you too, but you seemed pretty busy with your kids and I didn’t want to interrupt.”

Maryse smiles. “You should’ve still come over and said hello. I don’t think I’ve seen you since that mission we served on Betazoid…what, 15 years ago?”

“Yeah, I think that’s right.” Luke finds himself smiling as well.

“I met with your daughter, Clary,” Maryse says. “She’s dating my Isabelle. And another woman named Maia. They seem to be really happy together.”

“They are,” Luke agrees. “I’m so glad I found her again. I never thought I’d have the chance again.”

“That’s how I felt when I saw Alec and Isabelle again. I was terrified I would never be able to again. You must’ve been so relieved when you reunited with Clary.”

“Do you want to sit?” Luke asks, gesturing to a nearby bench.

“Sure.”

“Can I ask you something, Maryse?” He assumes it’s ok to call her that, since she’d referred to him by first name earlier.

“Of course.”

“What made the Federation change their minds about the Clave-Downworlder war? Downworlders were being charged with treason last time I checked, but now you’re not only pardoning us, but also claiming you’ll help end the war? What happened?”

Maryse’s smile fades and she looks away. “We made so many mistakes, Lucian. I’m so ashamed of so many of my choices. We thought we were honoring the Prime Directive, but…then so many people started dying. Not just Downworlders and Clave members, but also Bajorans who had joined the fight. That was the opposite of what we wanted. And then we thought, as long as this war continued, Downworlders and Bajorans were going to continue dying…then Voyager was officially declared missing and…it was just too much. We realized we’d been wrong from the beginning.”

Maryse blows out a long breath. “We also realized that we’d overlooked a very simple solution. We invited the Bajorans to join the Federation of Planets. Their application process is almost complete now, and as soon as they’re officially citizens, the Federation will have every right to protect their own. Even if we have to join the war ourselves. But…we’re thinking…or rather hoping…that the Clave won’t want to start a war with a force as great as us as well.”

“So…a loophole,” Luke summarizes in amusement. “You got around the Prime Directive with a loophole.”

“Isn’t that what everyone does?” Maryse asks, chuckling. “Sometimes it’s your only option. I just wish we’d realized it sooner.”

“Hey,” Luke says, nudging her shoulder with his. “This wasn’t all on you. You aren’t responsible for what everyone else did. The important thing is that you realized it now and you’re taking strides to fix it. Focus on that.”

“Thank you,” Maryse says softly. After a few moments of actually comfortable silence, she turns to look at him. “So what are your plans after this?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I think I’d like to return to Starfleet, actually, once I’m sure the war is over, the Bajorans are left in peace, and my fellow Downworlders are ok. Then I’d like to travel again. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.”

“And isn’t it about time you made Captain, too?” Maryse teases.

“I’d say so. I am 53. And besides, I need to catch up to you so I can be Admiral by the time I’m your age.”

“I’m only 5 years older than you,” says Maryse warningly, but there’s a laugh in her voice.

“You look 10 years younger though, if you ask me,” says Luke honestly.

“You’re very charming,” Maryse says, smiling widely.

“Well, you deserve to be charmed.”

Maryse smiles and scoots closer to him on the bench.

 

 

“I’m looking forward to a shower,” says Helen wearily. She, Aline, Clary, Maia, and Isabelle have all found themselves walking toward temporary lodging together.

“God, me too,” Aline agrees.

“I hope our room has a hot tub, actually,” Maia says, rubbing at her shoulder.

“Oooh, that’d be great. I could use a good soak,” Isabelle sighs.

“I hate to ruin the mood,” Clary says, “but…has anyone thought about what’s going to happen after this? What are the chances that we’ll be allowed to return to Voyager?”

“I’d say if it’s up to Mom, pretty good,” Isabelle answers with a grin.

“She did kick ass earlier,” Maia agrees. “I’d say it looks good.”

“I hope so too,” Helen adds. “I really don’t want to leave Voyager either.”

“It’s home,” Aline says quietly.

They all stop and stare at one another. “Let’s go get some sleep,” Maia suggests, “and then tomorrow we’ll work on getting back to our home.”

Everyone agrees and, after trading hugs, go their different ways.

“You really meant that?” Helen asks as she and Aline let themselves into their room. “That Voyager is home?”

“I did,” Aline confirms. “Although the place doesn’t always matter. As long as you have the right person at your side, anyplace can be home.”

“You’re such a sap,” Helen says, chuckling. “And I love you for it.”

“Yeah? You love me?” Aline asks, only half pretending to blush.

“I love you so much that I want to marry you,” Helen says, her voice abruptly becoming serious.

Aline freezes. “You do?”

“More than anything.”

Aline is clearly still stunned, but she recovers quickly. “Not as much as I want to marry you.”

Helen laughs through the tears forming in her eyes. “I don’t – don’t have a ring. I’m sorry, it was just – spur of the moment and –”

“I don’t care.” Aline has tears in her eyes as well. “I don’t care. We’re engaged, that’s all that matters.”

“We’re engaged,” Helen echoes. “Oh my god.”

And then she says little else, because Aline pushes her down onto the bed and kisses her within an inch of her life.

 

 

“This is the most amazing hot tub I’ve ever been in,” Maia says with a happy sigh.

“Next time we go on the Holodeck, we definitely need to use one of these,” Isabelle says, tipping her head back with her eyes closed.

“Hey…l just want you two to know…I really love you both. And I’m so happy that we all met,” Clary murmurs. She’d been sitting on the opposite end of the hot tub, but now she swims over to where Maia and Isabelle are and hovers in front of them.

“So am I. I’m really glad your ship captured mine and brought me aboard Voyager. It was the best day of my life,” Maia says, grinning.

“And I’m really glad that I infiltrated the Maquis and made it possible for that to happen,” Isabelle adds.

Clary laughs. “So it seems like it was fate for all of us to meet.” She squeezes her way in between Maia and Isabelle, giggling as they descend on her and start covering her with kisses.

 

 

2378.145 (June 25th, 2378)

 

“Well, I have excellent news for you,” Isabelle announces. “You’re pregnant, Catarina.”

“Really?! Oh my god. That’s so amazing.” Catarina looks up at Dot, who’s already beaming down at her.

“You’re about six weeks along, so that last treatment seems to have worked,” Isabelle continues. “Congratulations, you two.”

When Dot and Catarina embrace each other, crying softly, Isabelle smiles and says quietly, “I’ll give you two a minute,” before heading for her office a few feet away.

“I just didn’t think this would happen so soon,” Catarina says into Dot’s neck. “I know we talked about having kids a lot, but then the war happened and…even though the war ended two years ago, we didn’t start trying until a few months ago…”

“We’re just lucky, I guess,” Dot replies. She pulls back from the embrace and reaches down to rub her hand against Catarina’s stomach.

“The luckiest,” Catarina confirms, placing her hand on top of Dot’s.

 

 

“Dot is pregnant,” Isabelle tells Clary and Maia when they stop by to visit her for lunch.

“Really?!” Clary squeals. “Since when? When did you find out?”

“Today,” Isabelle says, and then, seeing Maia’s look, adds, “They gave me permission to tell.”

“That’s really exciting,” Maia smiles. “Have you two ever thought about which one of us should get pregnant? Or do we want to adopt?”

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Isabelle admits. “I know we’ve talked about it and we all want kids, but I haven’t really thought about how we get them.”

“I don’t think I want to be pregnant, to be honest. I’d rather adopt, I think,” Clary puts in.

“That’s fine with me,” Maia says. “I just want to be with you two and have kids together.”

“I’m glad we’re all in agreement,” says Isabelle happily. “I love it when my wives and I are all in agreement.”

“I love the sound of that. ‘My wives’. We’re all wives with each other,” Clary grins.

“We sure are.” Maia wraps an arm around Clary’s waist and tugs her in close, then guides her over to Isabelle’s lap so they can all kiss while wrapped together.

 

 

“What do you think of this one?” Helen asks.

“Very nice. But I think I have the perfect one.” Aline taps on the tablet screen a few times until she can bring up the picture she’s looking for. “Sam and Ollie told me about this one. That’s where they went on their honeymoon.”

“I love it,” Helen says enthusiastically. “Let’s go on our honeymoon here.”

“We’re going to have a honeymoon,” Aline says, grinning so hard she can barely stand it. “We’re married and we’re planning our honeymoon.”

“I still can’t believe it,” Helen says. “I love you so much.”

“Not as much as I love you, wife of mine,” Aline responds.

“Say that again.”

“Wife of mine.”

“Say it again.”

“Wife…” Aline presses a kiss to Helen’s nose. “Of…” A kiss to her forehead. “Mine.” And a kiss to her lips.

“I love being your wife,” Helen sighs happily.

 

 

 

“So I just got a video call from Luke and my mom,” Alec says as he settles onto the couch next to Magnus. “They’re doing fine. Luke’s a Captain now and he and Mom are running the Victory together.”

“That’s great. I’m really happy for them.” Magnus tugs on Alec’s arm. “Why are sitting so far away, husband?”

“I’m sitting right next to you, babe,” says Alec in amusement.

“Not close enough,” Magnus insists. “Come closer.”

“If you wish.” Alec presses closer until he’s practically sitting in Magnus’ lap. “Better?”

“Mmm, much better. You’re so warm, husband. I love being this close to you.”

“And I love it when you call me husband,” Alec says softly. “Even after two years of hearing it.”

“Then you’ll love it when I’m still calling you that 50 years from now.”

“Mmm. I think I’ll love everything you do for the next 50 years from now.” As he speaks, Alec starts to disentangle himself from Magnus and push them down onto the couch.

“I love you,” Magnus whispers as they settle on their back and pull Alec down on top of them.

“Love you too, babe.”

Magnus doesn’t respond, but that’s because Alec is kissing their neck and Magnus appears to be incapable of speech at the moment. Alec doesn’t mind, though, not one bit.