The House – three

For Fiona, b/c she kept asking me to post part 3. Here it is, I hope you like it, Fi!

Gretchen still didn’t believe them, when they had explained how Kathryn came to be in their old house. “Really, Chakotay, what was it that attracted you to this house? There isn’t any particular feature that makes it different from any of the other houses you must have looked at.”

“There isn’t, you’re right. But somehow when I was looking at it, it felt as if this was my home. The last time I had that feeling was when a certain attractive Captain was invading my personal space to ignore my question by saying it was Captain’s prerogative not to have to answer.”

“What question was that? I must have used that old excuse on you more times than I care to remember.”

“Whether you would have served under me.”

“O, that one.”

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“Kathryn! Please, give him your answer.”

“Mom, I knew it, bringing you here was a bad move. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to make myself some coffee. Anyone else a cup?”

“Please. And before you ask, pick any blend you think I can handle.”

“I’ll have my regular one. Chakotay, you actually kept the replicator. After what Kathryn told me about you, I’d figured you would have done away with it.”

“I’m afraid I couldn’t, Gretchen. You see, that daughter of yours gave me a taste for coffee, and in order to be able to drink any blend I want, I had to keep the replicator with all her programming.”

Kathryn came back with the coffee, and they moved to the living room. Gretchen had been impressed with Chakotay’s cooking, and she had specifically asked him for his mother’s chilli’s recipe. She could see why Kathryn had kept him at bay all these years. They complimented each other so perfectly; it was understandable that she might have lost her drive to come back to the Alpha Quadrant – her former home, because she found it in Chakotay. Her daughter was so much more at peace, and Gretchen wondered what would have happened if Kathryn had simply captured Chakotay and had come back from the Badlands to marry Mark. She was glad that it hadn’t happened that way: here she was having dinner with her daughter and her – well, they’d have to tell her what Chakotay exactly was to Kathryn when they felt ready, in the old Janeway house. It made her happy to know that this house would once again know the love and laughter that she had known here. Maybe the house would even know what it is like to have children running around, but she would not tell them that particular wish: no need to push them.

The viewscreen in the study beeped, and they could hear B’Elanna’s voice calling Chakotay.

“Hey, big guy, I know you’re there. Please answer this hail, because Tom has come up with some ideas for your housewarming party.”

Before she could sign off again, Chakotay answered her hail.

“Hi. So what are Tom’s ideas?”

“Well, he’d rather just keep it a surprise until tomorrow, and it really is just one big idea for a great party!”

“I can see that you’re looking forward to it. Anything I need to do?”

“No, not really, just keep the Captain in that house of yours, and please, don’t let her do any cooking.”

Kathryn and Gretchen entered the study just as B’Elanna commented on Kathryn’s supposed cooking abilities. “Why is it that people will do anything to keep me from cooking? B’Ela, I’m not that bad, am I?”

“Eh, no Captain, I guess you’re not, but we all still pretty much remember the time you accidentally burned down Neelix’ kitchen. Of course, we were glad that you also managed to burn down his Leola Root supply – and personally, I still think that that was your reason – but Chakotay’s party tomorrow has to be really special, and, I hope you won’t be offended, we’d rather not repeat the ‘save-the-kitchen-from-the-Captain’ routine.”

“Don’t worry about it too much, Kathryn. It’s just a case of ‘once burned…” Chakotay never got the chance to finish his sentence, because Kathryn was already chasing him through the house.

“Hello, Chak. Where did he go?”

“B’Elanna? Hi, I’m Gretchen Janeway, and I believe that my daughter is chasing Chakotay. So, how are you?”

“I’m great, Mrs Janeway. Will you be there tomorrow too? You see, the Captain has been bribing us with the prospect of your caramel brownies.”

“Please, B’Elanna, before you go any further: call me Gretchen, okay?”

“Gretchen. I’ll have to get used to that, as will most crewmembers. You see, the Captain, even though she’s a really good friend of Tom and me, well, you see, we still call her ‘Captain’, and here you are, the mother of our Captain, telling me to call you by your first name … I’m babbling, aren’t I? Please, tell me to stop.”

“Don’t worry. And I think that one of these days, Kathryn will come around about everybody calling her Captain. So, what do you know about Kathryn and Chakotay?”

Gretchen and B’Elanna exchanged as much information as they could before Kathryn and Chakotay came back to the study. B’Elanna hadn’t heard the story of the house yet, and she wasn’t that surprised that somehow Chakotay had managed to pick Kathryn’s childhood home as his home. Tom budded in a couple of times, claiming that he’d known all along that something like this would happen, and he also told the two women that he had the rations to prove it.

They heard a loud yelp and some more running around before the kitchen door slammed shut. “Well, I guess that answers the question where Kathryn and Chakotay are. Do you think that I should invite Phoebe and her family for the party as well?”

“Of course, Gretchen.” Unlike B’Elanna, Tom had easily adapted to calling his Captain’s mother by her first name. “After all, she encouraged the Captain to come back to her house, and if she hadn’t come back, well, then you wouldn’t have found out what a wonderful cook Chakotay is. Did B’Ela tell you about the time Neelix was down with an obscure virus, and Chakotay was cooking? Well, let me tell you, we had never seen the Captain so happy.”

~ * ~ * ~

Kathryn and Chakotay snuck back into the house. “Kathryn, why are we sneaking around? This is my house, I can do whatever I want.”

“I know, but I’m just curious what mom and B’Ela are talking about. I just know that it is about us, and well, let’s just say that I want to satisfy my curiosity. Besides, they might be talking about the party, and mom is really good at getting people to talk about things they don’t want to talk about.”

“Right, what are we waiting for? Let’s— but hang on, this is not something the great Captain Janeway, poster child of Protocol, would do: eavesdrop on her mother and friends.”

“Let’s not tell anyone, okay? There are some things I’d rather not share with other people. And what do you mean by ‘poster child of Protocol’? I was never that bad.”

“Weren’t you?”

“Alright, so I was a stickler for Protocol, but you have to understand why.”

“Okay, ‘why’?”

“Chakotay, do you know what would have happened if I had let Protocol fly out the window? We’d never have reached the Alpha Quadrant.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because then I’d never have the obsessive drive to get us back, you see, then I would have been happy with what I found in the Delta Quadrant. Maybe I even could have surprised myself and been happy to settle down on a planet.”

“Kathryn, I think I know what you would have found in the DQ, but I still believe that no matter what, you still would have gotten us back. No matter how happy you would have been in the DQ, you would have been happier here in the AQ. Look at you now: in all my time on Voyager, I have never seen you run around trying to catch me, not even when we were on New Earth. Do you really think you would have settled for a planet, when you could have had the planet, not to mention the house?”

While Chakotay was talking to her, she walked up to him, and put her arms around his back. Hugging him to her hard, she snuggled into his chest. “Chakotay, do you realise that you say things that make me want to close my eyes and smile with my heart?”

His only response was to embrace her even more. Soon, they were distracted by the laughter coming from the study. “Do you think it’s wise to listen to their conversation? You may hear more that you bargained for.”

“I don’t care. No matter what, I am still the Captain, and I will not have people talk about me behind my back.”

“Kathryn, one of these days you are going to have to come down from your ivory tower and walk among us common folk. Let them talk about you: it’s your mother and two of your best friends, they won’t say anything they wouldn’t say to your face. Granted, Tom might say a lot more if you gave him the chance.”

“You’re probably right. Do you think that tomorrow I should tell them to just call me Kathryn? Or do you think that they’d want to continue calling me Captain?”

“I think that everyone will decide for themselves what to call you, but if you give them the opportunity to call you Kathryn, I think most of the crew will. After all, we can’t have Naomi call you auntie Captain, now can we?”

“No, I guess not. But then it won’t be special anymore.”

“Special?”

“Yes. You were always the one who called me Kathryn, and that made me feel special, like it was our little secret. Now, if the entire crew calls me Kathryn, it won’t be special anymore.”

“Kathryn, don’t worry, I think we can come up with something else that will be our special secret, don’t you think?”

~ * ~ * ~

“That settles it then, I will bring loads of my caramel brownies to your place, because you are right: Kathryn probably will have eaten them all before the party starts.” Kathryn and Chakotay entered the study, only to find Gretchen talking animatedly to Tom. “Now, Phoebe and her family will arrive later, but I think they should be able to be on time, they are already on their way from Betazed. Tom, it was a pleasure talking to you again, and I will see you tomorrow. Gretchen out.” She turned towards Kathryn. “Sweetheart, I hope you don’t mind me taking over the conversation after you and Chakotay so ungracefully ran out the study. I really have to leave now, it was a pleasure meeting you in person, Chakotay, and I know I will be seeing you tomorrow, not to mention all the times after that. I had a feeling you were something of a permanent fixture in Kathryn’s life when she couldn’t stop telling stories that featured you. Her sister Phoebe is very interested in meeting you as well.”

Kathryn was just standing there, trying to understand everything her mother was saying. Phoebe was coming to the party tomorrow, and her mother was also coming. It would be interesting to see how the crew would react to their Captain’s family, not to mention having the crew walk around in their Captain’s childhood home. But before she could react, her mother had already hugged Chakotay good bye, and was tugging her daughter’s hand to get her to accompany her to the transporter pad.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay?”

“No honey, this is your house now, not mine. I’m really happy for you, and I know that you will give this house all the love she needs. Be happy here, and love that wonderful man. Besides, I will see you tomorrow. Do you want me to go by your apartment to pick up some things for you?”

“No, I’ll do … we’ll do that tomorrow, I think. We haven’t really spoken about our living arrangements.”

“Whatever you decide, please remember that you’ve put your happiness on hold for 7 years already: it’s time to think of Kathryn and Chakotay, and forget what Starfleet will say.”

“I will, mom, thanks.”

“See you tomorrow.”

~ * ~ * ~

Chakotay was cleaning up the dinner table when he found Kathryn leaning against the wall. “Hi there gorgeous.” His dimples were out in full reign again as she walked up to him.

“Hello handsome. Need a hand?”

“Yes, I believe part of the charm of this house is that the dishes have to be done by hand. If you could do them, I’d really appreciate it!”

“I don’t think so, Mr Chakotay, after all, I was not allowed into the kitchen, remember?”

“Well, Ms Janeway, if I recall correctly, I can remember you telling me that whatever I cooked, you would do the dishes: something about ‘the cook never does the dishes’?”

“I’ll get you for this.”

“I hope so.” He gave her a kiss on her forehead and proceeded to push her into the kitchen.

If she was surprised to find that all the dishes had been taken care of, she didn’t show. “Well, I couldn’t have you sweat over the dishes, now could I. You see, as much as I like traditional stuff, some traditions are best kept hidden, like doing the dishes.” He pointed to a cupboard, and as she walked up to it, she could already hear the steady humming of the recycler. “So much more convenient, although I am seriously considering not telling Tom tomorrow, and seeing if he’s willing to do all the dishes.”

“Chakotay, you never manage to stop surprising me, thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. So, can I get you anything?”

“No, thanks, I’m a bit tired. I should be going as well.” Kathryn was already outside the kitchen, so she missed the disappointed look in Chakotay’s face. The minute he came out however, his expression was schooled into the perfect mask he’d been showing all those years.

“Okay, well, what time will you come over tomorrow?”

“I don’t know, when do you think it will start?” All evening, they had been more than comfortable in each other’s presence, but now neither one was willing to state the obvious. “Chakotay?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think you might have a spare bedroom where I can stay the night? I really don’t feel like leaving the house.”

“Of course. Does this house mean that much to you?”

“No … yes, of course, she’s my home.” Once again she walked up to Chakotay to hug him hard. “What I am trying to say is that it isn’t because of the house that I want to stay, but because of you. Chakotay, I love you, and you’re going to have to really try to make me go away.”

With one smooth motion, he swept her up into his arms. “Well, Kathryn, that makes two of us. I love you too, and I’m not going to let you even try to get away from me. Tomorrow morning we’re going over to you apartment, and pick up all your stuff, then move it in here. It will be fun to see if the crew is smart enough to figure things out on their own, without us telling them that their rations are going to exchange owners. Now, where should I dump you?”

“Fair sir, one never dumps a lady.”

“Care to try me?”

“The master bedroom will be just perfect.”

Epilogue