He escorted her to his parents’ house in silence. Sneaking sideway glances, Kathryn realized her companion had a permanent frown on his forehead, as if he was contemplating a universal evil.
It took them only about 10 minutes to arrive at the lodge. When he opened the front door, a warm light spilled out followed by the sound of laughter.
“That would be my parents.”
~ * ~ * ~
The layout of the house was simple but also very inviting, the ground floor was dominated by the large den in the middle, functioning as a central point in the house.
The laughter continued and Kathryn saw two figures huddled over what appeared to be a boardgame.
“Paka, you know you can’t make that move!” The man only grinned at his companion. “Then why do you keep trying it every other game? You know I’m not going to let you!”
Chakotay walked over to the low settee his parents were sitting on, “Ama, Father, I’d like you to meet our guest.”
The couple jumped up, surprised by the intrusion. “O my, we completely forgot. I’m so sorry. Miss Janeway, isn’t it? We didn’t mean to ignore you, but whenever Paka persuades me to join him for a game of Dysseia, we seem to loose track of time.” The woman came up to her and gave her a warm hug before kissing both of her cheeks. “Welcome to our home. May it be yours in peace and love. I am Mikolani, wife of Kolopak and mother of Chakotay and Teresini. And this is my husband of too many Dysseia games, Kolopak.” He too crushed her in a bear hug,
“Welcome to Trebus, Commander.”
Kathryn was momentarily speechless, but recovered quickly, “Thank you for your warm and kind welcome. I apologize for the inconvenience of arriving earlier than announced.”
“My dear child, it’s no inconvenience at all. Besides we could do with some diversion.” Mika put her arm through Kathryn’s and guided her to one of the sofas. “Now let’s make you more comfortable. Kotay will bring your luggage upstairs. Can I get you something to drink?”
“You wouldn’t happen to have some coffee, I’m just dying for a cup.” Stunned by her informality, Kathryn was about to excuse herself, when Mika just looked at her and smiled.
“Finally someone in this household who understands the importance of coffee.”
Kolopak took a seat across from her, while in the background she could hear Mika mumble something at her son, who grudgingly took the luggage up the stairs.
~ * ~ * ~
“Well then, Commander, I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am Starfleet send you here. It seems I’ve let myself run wild in the lab and it could use someone trained.”
“Sir, I don’t know how useful I will be to you, but it should be worth while. It will be very different from life aboard a starship, and that, I’m afraid, was my main reason for requesting this position.”
“Please, Commander, call me Kolopak or Paka. Sir is too formal, especially since you’ll be my partner in crime.” He grinned at her, showing a distinctive pair of dimples.
“Only if you will stop calling me Commander. Kathryn is better suited to our partnership.” He could see the beginning of a smile on the younger woman’s face. “Besides, if we are indeed going to walk the path of illegal activities, I’d rather not be reminded of Starfleet.” Her smile came out in full force this time, the right side catching up with the lopsided grin started earlier.
“I understand you read up on our situation here?”
“I did, at least as far as the Elders would let me. More often than not they gave me the impression you yourself would fill me in on the various projects.”
Roaring laughter filled the room, when Mika came back again.
“Here you go, my dear, real coffee from the best beans this land has given us.” She put two steaming mugs on the table nearby. The aroma filled the area in no time, and when Kathryn took her first sip she was once more reminded why this was her favorite beverage.
When she opened her eyes, two pairs of dark orbs were focused on her.
“Did I do something wrong?” She looked from one to the other.
“O no, Kathryn, sorry for our attention, but you just reminded me of my first meeting with Mika. You see, I came from what my mother used to call a coffee-free family. Meeting Mika, and her family, was quite an introduction to a whole new world: they are all addicted to coffee even though they claim they are not.”
“Of course, we’re not addicted, Paka. You can never be addicted to coffee, simply because you can never drink enough of it. Don’t you agree, Kathryn?”
Before she could answer, a voice interrupted. “I wouldn’t answer that if I were you. The subject is simply too dangerous.” Chakotay walked down the last few steps of the stairs and joined them in the den. He sat down next to his mother, looking intensely at Kathryn, daring her to comment on his last words.
She straightened unconsciously and looked him straight in the eyes, “Speaking from my own experience, I must agree with your mother. You can never drink too much coffee. I’d even turn my starship around for it.”