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“B’Elanna, they’re still not here.”

“I know Tom, I find it odd too that both are missing, but there’s nothing we can do.”

Harry came up to them, “Any sign of either one of them yet?”

“Nope, Harry, still no Captain or Chakotay.”

The three of them walked back to the livingroom where most of the guests had assembled, all waiting for Tom to make his speech.

“Tom,” he looked around at his father, “We can’t wait any longer. Your guests are getting restless.”

“Dad, I know, it’s just, I want to wait a little longer.”

“Son, that’s what you said 30 minutes ago.”

“But I have a feeling they’ll be here any minute now. I mean, the Captain isn’t the kind of person to be late, is she? And neither is Chakotay.”

“Why are you so sure they’re together? After all, the last thing I heard, the Commander had taken a leave of absence to go back to Dorvan. And Kathryn has almost locked herself up in her house.”

“Don’t we know, Dad. B’Ela and I have tried both of them, but they won’t say anything. Did I tell you about the strange message Chakotay left us 4 days ago?”

“B’Elanna told me he’d been in touch, but nothing more.”

“Well, we’d gone shopping and when we came back there was a note from Chakotay saying he would be able to make it tonight. Before we could reply there was another message, again from Chakotay: he said he felt like one of the medieval knights going on a quest looking for the Holy Grail.”

“What did he mean?”

“We don’t know, we still haven’t figured it out. That’s part of the reason why we’re so anxious for him to come. B’Ela and I even have a bet going: she claims it has something to do with the Captain, but I don’t believe in that fairy tale anymore, I think he’s on some tribal quest, you know, to honor his people or something.”

“Are you sure you are my son Thomas Eugene Paris?”

“Dad?”

“If I have to believe all the wild stories your crewmates have told me, you are Kathryn and Chakotay’s biggest supporter! I can’t see how you could have started doubting your feelings?”

“But dad, it’s too late. I mean, we’ve been home for close to 9 months, don’t you think something would have happened between the two of them by now?”

“They have been busy with all the briefings. I know the Voyager Committee wouldn’t have appreciated a budding romance between the ship’s Commanding Officers. And don’t you think that after more than 7 years of fighting for a cause, they maybe needed some time to regroup? To see who they had become, andto see if they even liked that new person, without having to put valuable energy into a new relationship with someone so very close to you?”

“I hadn’t looked at it that way. Do you think that’s what happened?”

“Tom, I really have no idea, but I think you shouldn’t close your betting pool just yet. I’ve known Kathryn Janeway for a long time now, and she is certainly full of surprises.”

The two men walked into the hallway.

“There you are, Tom, I was afraid you had disappeared.”

“Why, what is it, B’Ela?”

“Guess who just came waltzing in, slightly out of breath, apologizing profusely?”

“The Captain? She’s here?”

“She is, and — she brought a date!”

“She did?” Tom’s face suddenly dropped, “What are we going to tell Chakotay?”

A large form loomed up behind Tom, “Yes, what are you going to tell me?”

Tom swiveled around, “Chakotay? You’re here? I mean, you’re late!” He looked helplessly at B’Elanna. “What my Helmboy is trying to say is he’s pleased you managed to make it tonight.”

Chakotay laughed at Tom’s expression, “Tom and B’Elanna, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world, isn’t that right, Kathryn.”

Only now did Tom notice the Captain standing slightly behind Chakotay and B’Elanna.

“Hello Tom.” She smiled and put her arm through Chakotay’s, “We are really sorry we’re late, but we got held up.”

“You mean, you held us up, don’t you?” Chakotay grinned at Kathryn, “After all, I was ready at 8, but you had some trouble locating your shoes: it took you almost 10 minutes finding one and another 15 minutes for the other one.”

Tom was speechless and B’Elanna was laughing, at him but also at the antics of Kathryn and Chakotay. “Will you two stop it. Sheesh, you’re almost behaving like an old married… Kahless!” Before she could finish that thought she caught Kathryn’s look at Chakotay who broke out in a grin so wide it would crack his face.

“Oops.”

Kathryn just laughed and hugged Chakotay’s arm, “Hey, it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t say anything.”

“Well, neither did I.”

A loud thud interrupted their bantering: Tom had fainted and landed awkwardly on his back. B’Elanna was at his side immediately and Chakotay looked around for the Doctor.

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