Phoebe Janeway looked around her while Gretchen hand was busy collecting their luggage.
“Mom, do you think we should have send another message? It doesn’t seem they received the original one, there is no one to pick us up.”
“Honey, we’re early. And if they didn’t receive it, we can always find them here. It doesn’t seem a large colony, so we probably won’t get lost. Let’s just wait a few moments.”
~ * ~ * ~
They were seated outside the T&C Office under an overhanging part of the roof. Gretchen squinted against the sun, but she could still see the two figures approaching. A tall man and a younger woman came walking up to the small building. The man was extremely handsome and obviously related to his companion.
“Mrs Gretchen Janeway? Welcome to Trebus. I am Chakotay, son of Kolopak and this is my sister Teresini.”
“Pleased to meet you, Chakotay. This is my other daughter, Phoebe. She’s the reason I am here.”
Chakotay regarded the two women. He could clearly see Kathryn’s resemblance to her mother, and her sister also showed the same facial characteristics.
“Mrs Janeway, sorry we’re late, but it’s actually Kathryn’s fault. See, we didn’t want her to know you were coming, so we had a hard time convincing her to join Father in his lab.”
Gretchen looked at the young girl, puzzled by her comment. “Why would Kathryn not want to work at the lab? Isn’t that why she’s here in the first place?”
“Mom, see, it’s what I always thought, Kathryn is just as lazy as I am.” Phoebe laughed and winked at Chakotay, “Besides with someone as handsome as this one, I wouldn’t want to go to work either.” She linked her arm through his, “Lead the way, Mr. Handsome.”
Sini was amazed, Phoebe was so different from her sister, and she was shamelessly flirting with her brother. And he let her.
Chakotay on the other hand carefully removed his arm from Phoebe’s and picked up their luggage. Sini and Phoebe grabbed the two remaining bags.
“You will be staying with my parents, Mrs Janeway. They received your message this morning and our mother has been busy all day clearing one of the guestrooms.”
“Chakotay, would you mind calling me Gretchen?” She smiled at him, showing a by now familiar lopsided grin, “To me Mrs Janeway is still my mother-in-law and I’d rather not be reminded of her.”
Phoebe maneuvered herself between her mother and Chakotay, causing Sini to almost burst out in giggles. Gretchen looked over her shoulder and winked at the girl, telling her she was aware of her younger daughter’s antics.
“I do hope your mother didn’t have to go through too much trouble for us. I mean, first Kathryn comes barging in and now we are here.”
“Phoebe, Ama only had a friend of the family take out Kathryn’s things.”
Gretchen looked at Chakotay, “That’s right. She told us she’d get her own little house here, but I didn’t think it would be finished already.”
Silencing his sister with a look, which didn’t go unnoticed by Phoebe and Gretchen, Chakotay replied, “Her house has been ready for quite some time now. I just secretly hope they will have moved the bed by the time we get to my parents’ house.”
“And why is that, Chakotay?” Phoebe latched on to him again, “Don’t tell me you’re the kind of man who doesn’t like physical labor?”
This time Sini lost it. She came to a halt right before they reached the house and she couldn’t stop laughing. Gretchen had an extremely hard time controlling hers too, and even Chakotay couldn’t stop the grin forming on his face. Phoebe looked at her companions, not quite realizing what she had done to cause them this much laughter. Trying to get herself under control, Gretchen took deep breaths and closed her eyes. Finally she gained some semblance of tranquility and she took her daughter aside.
“Phoebe Elizabeth Janeway, how often do I have to tell you not to literally throw yourself at every man you meet? If Teresini hadn’t thought the situation was so funny, I would have been even more embarrassed than I am now. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I’m sorry, mom. It’s just that he is so incredibly handsome. And he probably doesn’t mind. I mean, with a face and a body like that he must be used to it by now.”
Her mother’s look was more than explanatory. “And how do you know he’s used to your shameless flirting? Didn’t you listen when I read you this society’s rules and regulations? I’m still amazed Kathryn was allowed to work here.”
“So you’re saying Chakotay is probably bonded. I guess I should be afraid of a jealous wife then. I hadn’t thought about that. Do you think I should apologize to him now, or later, or should I pretend I never did a thing?”
“My dear, you are old enough to make your own decisions. Just think before you act.”
The two walked back to Chakotay and Sini, and they continued on their way.
~ * ~ * ~
As they approached the last house on the edge of the circle of dwellings, which made up the village, they could already hear a man’s voice yelling at someone else.
“Lora, I told you not to turn it to the right, you should have lifted the left corner.”
“Look Suttonay, how do you suppose I lift the left corner, when you and Paka are too busy pushing me and the thing outside?”
Gretchen looked questioningly at Chakotay’s distressed expression. Before he could explain, three men and an enormous looking bed stumbled outside. Phoebe and Sini were fortunately quick enough to step out of the way, or they would have been trapped and crushed under an intricate looking contraption.
Suttonay was the first to notice the spectators. “Paka, it seems you have visitors!” He yelled to the man who was hidden from view by the headboard of the bed. Lorakish immediately walked upto Sini and Phoebe and took their luggage from them. Paka stepped forward and greeting Gretchen and Phoebe with the same warm hug he’d given to Kathryn barely two days ago. “Welcome to Trebus. Don’t mind the mess. It seems my son wanted his bed back. Now, the three of us were only too glad to help him of course, but he forgot to mention he would be busy himself!”
From the back of the house, they heard a woman’s voice, “Paka! Don’t be rude, show our guests in. And tell that son of yours I expect the other bed to be returned. And Kathryn told me to tell him he should pick her up from the lab before the sun reaches the middle sky.”
Paka ushered Gretchen and Phoebe inside, and Sini excused herself and went outside again to help Suttonay and Lorakish.
Mika came to the central room and greeted the two women. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to already meet Kathryn’s mother and sister. She will be so surprised when she sees you.”
“The pleasure is all ours. I’m sorry for the short notice, and we are grateful we can stay here. A week ago I didn’t even know I’d be sitting here, it all went so fast – it was a real spur of the moment decision.”
Mika looked at her husband, “Could you get us something to drink please? Coffee?”
Phoebe’s head perked up at the mention of the word coffee. Mike had to grin at the young woman’s face and Gretchen laughed. “I can see you know about Kathryn’s dedication to the beverage. I don’t think I have ever seen two people so enthralled with anything. It’s something they get from their father’s side of the family. Even though I like it enough, it’s not a religious experience for me.”
Paka returned with the coffee, “Mika was extremely pleased when she discovered Kathryn shared her fondness for coffee. I’m afraid she was the only one in our family with a taste for it.”
Nodding in agreement with Paka, Mika took a sip and continued, “Paka, I don’t want to scare you away, but weren’t you helping Chakotay move his bed?”
Mumbling something, he went outside.
~ * ~ * ~
“Okay, how do you propose we handle this, Suttonay?” Four men and a young woman looked from the bed to the doorway and back to the bed again.
Suttonay checked the construction again, “Chakotay when you made this labor of love, you never thought about making it detachable?”
Looking at anything but his companions, Chakotay shook his head, “Sorry it never occurred to me it would be too large to fit through a door.”
Lorakish and Sini burst out in laughter. “You mean to say you always expected to build a house with a 7 foot doorframe? Man, you do think big.”
It had taken them close to half an hour moving the bed from one house to another, and another half hour removing the old bed, which would be brought back to his parents’ house. Now they were looking at the house and the bed, and had been for some time.
~ * ~ * ~
A sixth person joined them. “It looks like you have a problem, Chakotay.”
He didn’t need to turn to know who had just spoken. Reaching out his hand behind him, he grasped hers and pulled her out in front of him. “And what are you going to do about it? As much as I love the stars, I would rather sleep inside.”
It took Lorakish and Suttonay close to five minutes to register what the newest mover had said. The older brother was the first to recover. “I beg your pardon? Kotay? Please explain.”
Lorakish was still speechless with his mouth hanging open. Sini put her hand under his chin and closed it for him. Chakotay sheepishly grinned at his best friend, “Why else do you think I wanted to move this bed? Certainly not because we need the exercise.”
Releasing her hand from Chakotay’s grasp, Kathryn looked the chronometer on her wrist. “Back to my earlier statement: it looks like you have a problem. And we’ll all have one if we don’t hurry. The village meeting is starting soon.”
The six of them regarded the bed and the door again.
“Well, maybe I could get used to sleeping outdoors. At least until you build an extra part to the house. We’re going to need the space anyway.”
Chakotay looked at Kathryn quizzically, “We are? What for?”
The look she gave him was clear enough, at least to Sini, but all four men were puzzled. “Where do you want me to leave all my things? I mean those two pieces of luggage are certainly not all my earthly possessions. Besides, we’re also going to have to install a workstation, so you’ll have to connect to the energy network soon. And we’ll need to be hooked up to that power supply for the replicator to work.”
Chakotay swallowed, “Energy network? Replicator?”
She looked up at him and smiled sweetly, “I guess I forgot to tell you I don’t cook. I only replicate. I was even voted Replicator Queen in my first year at the Academy.”
One look from his father made Chakotay hold back the comment he had wanted to make. Instead Paka took Kathryn by the arm and lead her in the house. “Why don’t we look at the options from the inside and see if we can come up with a solution.”