Actually, I was thinking of home, and what it meant to me. A couple of months ago, I asked my mother where my home was (you see, I’ve lived in 3 distinctly different places, and they are all very close to my heart: now I’m in my 4th ‘home’, so things tend to get confusing), and she gave me a unique look into my life and my ‘home’, and I guess that ‘home is where the heart is’ really works! Thanks mom, I hope you know how much it means to me.
Disclaimer: TPTB continue to own the characters that we play with, at least, that’s what they claim. Some of the characters in this story are completely mine, however.
Another sleepless night, and this is what I come with. Hope you like it, let me know: leave a comment. caldosh [Howard C.]
* ~ * ~ *
“You did what?”
She couldn’t believe it!
“Phoebe, why did you let mother sell the house?”
“Mom didn’t want to live there anymore, I am now busy on Betazed, and you were too involved at Starfleet.”
“But why didn’t you ask me?”
She was on the verge of tears, but willed herself not to show them to her sister, “You know I love the place, and coming back from the Delta Quadrant, you know it would be the only place I’d feel at home.”
“I’m sorry, Kath, we didn’t realise that you felt this way. If we’d known, we’d never sold it, you know that. Now, please don’t go to mother and complain to her, I’m sure we can work something out. Maybe you could even talk to the new owner, although Mr Rogers told me that he seemed quite happy there.”
“Mr Rogers? You’re still in touch with him? After all those years, does he still work at the store?”
“No, his son took over, but that doesn’t mean that Mr Rogers doesn’t know what is going on. You should see the store, you’re its most famous customer.”
“You know, I might just go down there, say hello to Mr Rogers, and say goodbye to the house.”
“Good, again I’m sorry, but it was better for mom. She is getting too old for things like looking after a large house. Talk to you later, Phoebe out.”
“Bye Phoebs, I’ll give your love to Mr Rogers. Janeway out.”
* ~ * ~ *
Two days later she was standing in front of her childhood home. Nothing much had changed. Okay, the trees and bushes were bigger, but the fence was still there. On the way over, she had visited Mr Rogers, and he’d been delighted to see her. He also told her that the new owner really fit in, and seemed to have fallen for the house immediately. Kathryn was glad that ‘her’ house was in good hands, she could see that herself just by looking at the flowers in the beds that seemed to be flourishing.
She could hear someone approach her, but didn’t turn around. This was her moment, and her goodbye to a wonderful and almost ideal place. The person stood still behind her, and now she was beginning to become a tad bit curious. Who was it? Suddenly, the wind blew through her hair, and she caught the smell of something familiar, someone’s cologne. She knew this person, there was only one man who wore that scent. She turned around unexpectedly to see Chakotay standing just 5 ft. away from her, his expression unguarded.
“Chakotay? What are you doing here?”
“Just admiring the view.”
His smile melted her heart instantly and she was having a hard time remembering why she’d kept him at bay all those years. Starfleet would’ve never approved, right, that was it. Now, Starfleet could take a hike! Still, he hadn’t explained what he was doing here.
“Really? So, what do you see?”
“I see a beautiful woman who is wistfully looking at a house. Kathryn, would you like a tour?”
“Yes, a tour of my home.”
“Kathryn, really, what did Starfleet do to you at all those unnecessary briefings? Stop you from making sentences longer than six words?”
“Chakotay! What do you mean your home? And you still haven’t told me why you were here.”
“I’m here, because I just came back from town, and I am on my way to do some shopping, and it is my home because I bought it a month ago.”
“You did what?”
“I bought the house. Now, if you like I can start repeating myself, so that you wouldn’t have to ask me all these short questions. Wanna join me?”
“Chakotay, please be serious here. Who sold you this house?”
“I don’t know who the original owner is, because I bought it through my real-estate agent. Did you know that you’re quite well liked in town? Mr Rogers' convenience store has all your pictures on the wall. You’d think you were their local hero.”
“So, what you’re basically saying is that you bought this house?”
“Here you go again. Yes, I bought the house. You see, after Starfleet was done with me, I put an order in for a house through my agent. I guess I should’ve specified where I wanted to live, but I didn’t. Now, two days later she calls me and tells me she’s found the perfect house for me. That same afternoon I come down here, and just fall in love with the place. One day later, I could call myself the proud owner of the most charming house in town. Did you know there’s a massive bathtub in one of the bathrooms?”
“On the first floor, in the bathroom of the master bedroom, yes I know.”
“Chakotay, you see, I am sort of a local hero here. You, my friend, are the owner of the childhood home of one Captain Kathryn Janeway.”
Now it was Chakotay’s turn to be silent. Kathryn just ignored him, and walked into the garden, closely followed by Chakotay who still hadn’t said a word. As she came up to the porch, she suddenly turned around and gave him the biggest crooked smile.
“So, what things did you change? I bet you took out the replicator Phoebe and I gave my mom for her birthday ten years ago?”
“No, actually, I kept it. Seems that someone has given me a taste for coffee and I need the replicator to come up with the perfect blend.”
“Hmm… I’ll buy that excuse, for now.” She went inside.
* ~ * ~ *
The interior hadn’t changed that much, except now it showed Chakotay’s personality rather than her parents'. Still the layout was basically the same. “I like what you’ve done to the house.”
“I haven’t done that much. There’s more I want to do, but I don’t have the time I need. For instance, see the entrance to the study?”
“Well, I thought that it needed something else. Look inside.”
She walked into the study and immediately saw the beautiful handcrafted desk. It was so large that two people could easily sit behind it without interfering with the other’s work. She approached the desk, and carefully touched it with one hand. Completely circling it, while holding on to it with her hands, she just looked at Chakotay in wonder.
“It’s beautiful. Where did you get it?” Before he could answer, Kathryn was already standing in front of him, and put her finger on his lips. “Don’t tell me, I know. You made this didn’t you?” The only answer she got was his smile. On impulse she threw her arms around him, and hugged him hard, “Chakotay, do you have any idea how much I missed you?”
He simply returned the gesture, still not quite believing that he was actually here with Kathryn, in her home. He knew that technically it was his, but as soon as he saw it a month ago, he had felt at home: he should’ve known that this house was special.
Slowly she let go of him and looked into his eyes. Uncertain of his feelings she just turned away from his embrace, and walked out of the study. Chakotay was confused, why did she walk away? He followed her into the main room, but she’d already gone into the kitchen.
“I’m in here Chakotay, just seeing if you really did leave the replicator.”
He wasn’t sure if she’d want him to follow her. Hell, he wasn’t sure why she was here, well, actually, he could guess that she had wanted to say goodbye to her house, but why did she come inside? Why did she hug him like that?
“Do you want some coffee too?”
He decided to go into the kitchen as well, after all, she wasn’t going to kick him out of his own house, now was she?
Kathryn was busy in front of the replicator checking out all its options for coffee.
“You were serious, weren’t you? There’s my 143 blends of coffee programmed into the machine, but not much else. So, which one would you prefer? Janeway 12-3 or 34-16?”
“It doesn’t matter, you can choose. There must be a blend you’ve never given me.”
“Okay, Janeway 45-2 for you, and I’ll have B’Ela’s special.”
They sat down at the kitchen table, blowing the steam off the coffee. Neither spoke a word, and somehow the earlier tension had dissolved and they were just content to be in each other’s presence.
There was a disconnected sounding voice coming from the study.
“Chakotay, are you there?”
He walked over to his viewscreen and answered the hailer.
“Hi B’Elanna, why are you calling?”
“For no particular reason, just seeing how you were doing.”
“Well, I’m doing fine. How are you and Tom?”
“Great. Say, Chakotay, you wouldn’t by any chance want to have a party, now would you?”
“B’Ela, if that’s your way of asking if I’m going to hold a house warming party, don’t worry, I am planning one I just don’t know when yet.”
“So, technically, all you need is a date, then?”
“How about this weekend? We’re all pretty much done with all the briefings, and I guess a party would just about be right now. So, what do you think? You’re up to holding a party in that gorgeous house of yours?”
While they were talking, Kathryn had walked into the study with their two mugs. She smiled at Chakotay when she heard B’Ela’s comments and she started laughing when she cornered Chakotay with her logic.
“Chakotay? Is there someone in the room with you?”
Kathryn couldn’t keep a straight face, but Chakotay wanted to play a little game with his friend.
“No. Why do you ask?”
“I swore I could hear someone laughing just now.”
He could see that Kathryn was definitely loosing it, but he wasn’t going to share his secret yet.
“B’Ela, has spending more and more time with Tom changed your hearing? There is no one here with me in this room, really.”
He didn’t want to look at Kathryn, because he knew he’d loose his composure if he did.
Tom’s head appeared on the viewscreen.
“Hiya Chakotay. A little bird told me that you were having a party this weekend, am I invited?”
“Yes Tom, you’re invited. I am going to need some help setting the thing up, you wouldn’t have any ideas, would you?”
“Now that you mention it, I do have a great idea, but it’s going to need some more planning. Can I get back to you on that? Say, the reason we were also calling is that no one has heard from the Captain, and we were sort of wondering if you have been in touch with her?”
Chakotay wasn’t sure if he should tell his friends that Kathryn was there in the room with him, but she quickly assured him that she wanted them to know, when she came up to the viewscreen and leaned over Chakotay’s shoulder, while giving him his coffee.
“Hello Tom, how are you?”
“O, hello Captain, we’re fine. I didn’t know you were at Chakotay’s house. Hey B’Ela, I’ve found the Captain: she’s at Chakotay’s.”
They could hear the conversation in the background and Chakotay turned towards Kathryn.
“I hope you’re ready for this.”
“They were going to find out sooner or later, we might as well give them the scoop.”
“Chakotay, you slime targ, why didn’t you tell me the Captain was there! I knew I heard someone laughing, but no, you just said no one was there. I’ll get you for that!”
“I’ll be looking forward to it B’Elanna.”
“Okay, now we have a party to plan, but we’ll let you know when we have some more details, right? Torres out.”
As quick as Tom and B’Elanna had entered into the house, they were gone equally fast. Kathryn was still leaning on Chakotay’s shoulders and she couldn’t stop her laughter.
“Tom’s face was worth millions, though I think you’re in serious trouble with B’Elanna.”
He drew her around, and she came to sit in his lap quite naturally.
“Kathryn, we need to talk.”
“I know, Chakotay, but you can’t blame me for postponing, can you?”
“No, but I think that you should explain some things to me, you know, just to make things clearer, because right now I am very confused.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you. I guess I’m pretty confused myself too. Okay, let’s talk, but not here. Let’s go to my tree.”
She took his hand and led him outside.
They were standing in front of a magnificent tree, just on the edge of the garden.
“So, how are your tree climbing skills?” Without saying another thing, Kathryn skilfully climbed up into the tree, and within seconds she was seated on her favourite branch.
Chakotay was still at the bottom, when she looked down at him.
“Don’t tell me: you’re also the only Indian who can’t climb a tree?”
Before Kathryn could make another comment, however, Chakotay was already up in the tree sitting beside her.
“You were saying? I am perfectly capable of climbing trees, as you can see. So, this is your tree, then?”
“Yes, don’t you think he’s gorgeous? I’ve spent so many hours in here, I can’t even recall not sitting in it. Whenever my parents were upset with me, or when I’d had another fight with Phoebe, or when I was just feeling bad, I would come here, climb up and just sit and think about stuff.”
“Now I find myself sitting here with someone whom I owe an explanation. Maybe even several.”
“Why are you here, Kathryn?”
“Two days ago, I found out that mom had sold the house, so I contacted Phoebe. I was pretty upset about it, because I had always assumed that either Phoebe or I would end up living in this house: you see, it really is our house. I told her that I couldn’t believe they had just sold it without telling me, but then Phoebe told me that I was so busy with Starfleet that they didn’t want to disturb me with this. I guess I realised that my childhood dream of living in my house had disappeared together with the house itself. Phoebe made me promise not to bother mom with all this, because apparently she too was pretty shaken up by the move. I came here today because I didn’t want to just leave and never see my home again: I had to say goodbye to it, and maybe even explain to myself and the house why we would not be together anymore. That’s when you saw me.”
“You did seem to be faraway just then. And, have you said goodbye?”
“No, I think I just said hello again.”
“I thought you were going to give me an explanation, yet you keep speaking in riddles.”
“I’m sorry, Chakotay, but you see I came here today to say goodbye to my house, and now, well, I guess, I’d rather say hello to her again, and I’m going to need your help for that.”
“Kath, what are you saying?”
“Chakotay, do you think that we could still, you know, be a couple?”
He took her hands in his, and squeezed them gently. “Kathryn, there is nothing I’d rather be, but you need to be sure of this. I’m not going to step back this time if things become too tricky for you. It’s either forward or nothing at all.”
The smile on Kathryn’s face would have charmed a thousand Kazon. She moved towards Chakotay and placed a chaste kiss on his lips. “I love you, Chakotay.”
Now it was his turn to smile, and Kathryn was once again swept away by the power of those dimples. “I love you too, you know.”
They kissed again, this time with less restraint and the tree became a dangerous place to sit in, because their movements were becoming more and more frantic. Sensing their imminent danger, Chakotay pulled away. He looked at Kathryn, afraid that this was all a dream, but she was still there looking ravishing.
“We’d better go down again.”
“We should. I can tell you that it’s not pleasant to fall out of this tree, believe me, I’ve done it before, and I’d rather not experience it again. Didn’t you also say earlier that you still had some shopping to do?”
Carefully they made their way down, and Chakotay caught Kathryn as she jumped the final couple of feet. She enjoyed the feel of his hands on her hips, and turned around in his embrace. They kissed again, but this time Kathryn was the one to pull away.
“Let’s go and create some new rumours.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, considering the fact that we were the most popular topic to bet on on Voyager, I thought that we might as well continue the tradition.”
“I still don’t know what you’re getting at.”
“Well, you were planning to get your groceries at Mr Rogers', right?”
“Yes, where else would I get them here.”
“Okay, now, what do you think will happen if we enter Mr Rogers' hand in hand?”
She could see his face light up with mischief, as the scenario she pictured him became clear. One of the reasons he liked this town was because of its close knit community. But he remembered from his own town that communities like these would also show a remarkable tendency to gossip, just like on Voyager. Now, what better gossip would a town want than its hero daughter to turn up linked to the ‘new’ (single) man in town!
“Ms Janeway, I like the way you think.” And with one last kiss, they were on their way to Mr Rogers' store.
~ * ~ * ~
They had indeed created some rumours, because it so happened to be that most of the towns inhabitants were in the centre of town, and they could be seen talking about the couple that just passed them. Of course, they all knew Kathryn Janeway; ever since she was a little girl the Janeway’s had been an important part of the community. Of course, they also recognised Chakotay. He was after all new to the town, and upon arrival he had been ‘questioned’ by the town’s most active busybodies.
Kathryn and Chakotay simply ignored the stares and whispers, they knew who people were talking about and they were enjoying it thoroughly. They had bought all the things they needed and they were on their way back home again. When they got back there were several messages waiting for them, one from Tom and B’Elanna. Kathryn’s mother was looking for her, but couldn’t reach her, and she’d asked if Tom knew where she was.
Kathryn hoped Phoebe hadn’t contacted their mother over her earlier disappointment. That was all in the past, and now she happier than she’d ever been before. Sitting behind the desk in the study, Kathryn contacted her mother. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say, she’d think of something.
“Hello mom. I’m sorry you had such a hard time reaching me.”
“It’s okay, Kathryn. I was worried about you, Phoebe told me this morning that you were quite upset over the sale of the house, and I just wanted to make sure that you were all right.”
“Mom, please don’t worry, I’m all right, really.”
“You don’t look too upset. So, have you managed to say goodbye to the house?”
“Yes, and I think I also said hello to her again!”
“What do you mean? Kathryn, where are you now?”
This time Chakotay had walked into the room, carrying two coffee cups. Kathryn looked perfectly at home behind the desk; her legs propped up over the armrest, and running her hands through her hair. “Mom, I would like you to meet someone.” She motioned Chakotay over to stand beside her, “Mom, this is Chakotay. Chakotay, this is my mother, Gretchen Janeway.”
Gretchen was not surprised to meet her daughter’s XO, after all, he was an important figure in all the stories she had told about the Alpha Quadrant. She was just glad that Kathryn had finally come to her senses. When she contacted Tom and B’Elanna, they had already hinted at something like this, but they hadn’t told Gretchen what exactly to expect. And here she was, looking at her daughter and the man who obviously made her very happy. Kathryn was simply beaming.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Chakotay.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Mrs Janeway.”
“Please! Mrs Janeway was my mother-in-law, call me Gretchen.”
“Gretchen it is. You know, you’re easier about your first name than that daughter of yours. It took forever before she let me use it. Still, I wish we’d met sooner, and in person.” Both Chakotay and Gretchen were looking at Kathryn, who all of a sudden remembered that she had to be somewhere else. She practically ran from the study, and left a confused Chakotay behind.
“Don’t worry about her, Chakotay, she’s just a prime example of a Janeway-escape-ism: ‘Run when you can’t explain’. She’ll come back.”
“She must, her coffee is still here, and I believe it’s fresh: she’ll be back.” And before he knew it, she was back, this time carrying a plant. Seating herself on Chakotay’s lap, she showed it to her mother.
“Mom, I can’t believe you left this one behind. Chakotay told me it was almost dead when he found it. How could you? It’s the monster plant aunt Philippa gave you years ago.”
“Kathryn, there’s a reason why I left it behind: I don’t want it!”
“Really, mother, it was a gift, and you always told us to cherish all gifts even the ones we didn’t like.”
“What is that plant doing there? And where are you?”
“Mom, are you planning anything tonight?”
“No, why, should I?”
“We were just wondering if you’d like to come over for dinner, that way you and Chakotay can finally meet in person.”
“I’m not really doing anything tonight. I’d love to come for dinner, as long as Kathryn isn’t the cook.”
“Gretchen, don’t worry. Kathryn is allowed near the replicator, but not the stove.”
“Good, for a moment I was worried. Cooking never was her forte, I hope you know that.”
“Can you come over around 6:30?”
“Of course, but you still haven’t answered my question: where are you?”
“You’ll find out when you get here. I’ll just transmit the co-ordinates and then you can beam over.”
“You really don’t want me to know where you are, do you? Okay, Kathryn, I’ll bite. This time only! I’ll see you two later. Gretchen out.”
~ * ~ * ~
Kathryn was trying to sit still, but she couldn’t. Her mother had not contacted them when she received the co-ordinates, and Kathryn thought that she must’ve recognised them. You don’t live in a house for over 40 years without knowing the co-ordinates. Still, Kathryn was nervous. She always was when she’d introduced boyfriends to her parents, but this was different, this was special. Chakotay was not just a ‘boyfriend’, he was her soulmate. How do you tell your mother that you have found the person your heart has been looking for all its life? Hopefully her mother would understand without too much explanation. Chakotay was busy in the kitchen and he wouldn’t even let Kathryn near the door, let alone help him, so here she was: a complete nervous wreck. And why? Her mother obviously liked Chakotay, and she was sure the feeling was mutual; they were already ganging up on her.
Before she heard the actual transporter signal, Kathryn already knew that her mother was on her way. She’d expected her to be early, so she wasn’t too surprised when the transporter was activated at 6:15. That was one of the benefits of the house that had attracted Chakotay: it came with its own transporter pad. She walked to the transporter just as her mother became visible. If only she could control her nerves for the next 10 minutes, then everything would be fine.
“Hello Kathryn. Interesting transporter co-ordinates you gave me.” She walked up to her daughter and hugged her. “I wasn’t going to tell you, but when I received the co-ordinates, I actually checked them several times to see if they were the correct ones. I can tell you that I was highly surprised.”
“Mom, I can explain, but I’m not sure if I believe it myself yet!”
“Explain later, first, I’d like to meet your Chakotay. Where is he?”
“In the kitchen, where he’s been for the past hour. Can you believe that man: he won’t even allow me near the door, let alone help out!”
“It seems to me that he’s just taken precautions. I read the report on when you ‘accidentally’ almost burned down the kitchen. No, he’s just making sure you don’t ruin dinner.”
“Mom, I can’t believe you. You’ve never met Chakotay, and already you’re siding with him.”
“I’ve never met him, because you never introduced us before, but I have the utmost respect for him, after all, he took care of you for almost 6 years. That takes a lot of patience.”
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.”
“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.”
“Alright, so I was a stickler for Protocol, but you have to understand 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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“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.”
Something was tickling her nose, but she didn’t want to wake up yet. She was much too comfortable, much too comfortable if her companion was asked. He had tried to wake her up numerous times, and each time his tactics had become more obvious, but still the lady did not move.
Time for another idea. Last night, Kathryn had told him about Justin and her father; it was almost as if she wanted to come clean before they took the next step in their relationship. She had also told him that Phoebe had been her savior. He was looking forward to meeting Phoebe this evening. Dinner with her mother last night had been wonderful: he’d always wanted to meet the woman who almost single-handedly raised her daughters, and she hadn’t disappointed him.
Now however, he was trying to wake her up, but she wouldn’t budge. So much for the easy approach, it was time for something a little more ‘intrusive’. Of course he was happy that she had slept so well, but they had plenty of things to do, and the way he saw it they would still have a lifetime of sleeping in late.
Just as he was slipping out of the bed to start a bath, he saw some movement coming from Kathryn. He halted to see what she would do, but the only movement he got was Kathryn moving into the warm spot he had left behind. He smiled to himself, she was incorrigible. Walking into the bathroom, he could see where Kathryn got her love for bathtubs. The bath was another feature that had helped him make the decision to buy this house: somewhere in the back of his mind he must have been thinking of Kathryn when he bought it, and the bathtub just strengthened the idea that maybe she would be more interested in a relationship with him. He had never thought that events would lead up to what happened yesterday. He had come back from Starfleet HQ where they had offered him several positions, but he hadn’t given them his final choice yet, because he wanted to know what a certain captain would be doing.
~ * ~ * ~
As he was walking towards his house on his way to the store, he saw a figure standing in front of the gate. When he came closer he couldn’t believe his eyes: it was Kathryn. How had she found out about his address? He walked up to her and was shocked by the look on her face. She seemed to be completely oblivious to her surroundings and hadn’t heard him approach. Her face showed a myriad of emotions, but mostly one of sadness. He couldn’t help but stare at her, because she had never looked more beautiful. All he wanted to do at that moment was make sure that she wouldn’t have to feel that sadness again. Suddenly, she turned around, before he could hide his emotions behind a mask on his face. She was surprised to see him here, so she must not have known about his address. It was her turn to surprise him when she told him that he had bought her childhood home.
~ * ~ * ~
When his agent had told him about this house, he had immediately come down have a look at it, and the familiar feeling that had come from the house amazed him. Now he understood why: everything having to do with Kathryn made him feel at home, and what would give more of a feeling of home than her home.
~ * ~ * ~
Later they had walked to her tree in the backyard, and his dreams had come true. Somehow, she had still surprised him when she told him that she loved him too.
~ * ~ * ~
Now, she lay there sleeping in his bed, their bed, and feeling more at home than she had ever had. His home, no their home: the idea just made her go all fuzzy inside. She could feel his gaze on her, but decided not to indulge just yet. The bed was too comfortable, and he’d have to come with a comparable offer before she would ever leave this bed. She could hear him going into the bathroom: now there was a possibility, but he came out again without her hearing the sound of water sprinkling down into her parents’ tub. Too bad, he really could have scored some points there. But he was leaving the room, probably thinking that that would get her to leave the bed: no way.
~ * ~ * ~
She dozed off again.
Hmm,.now this was a smell she could wake up to: coffee. Slowly, she opened her eyes to find herself only millimetres away from a steaming cup and a smiling face.
“I knew that this would wake you up!”
“Thanks, but I was awake.”
Taking her first sip of coffee, she leaned over to Chakotay. “Goodmorning handsome.” He leaned over to get a kiss, but Kathryn was already up and moving into the bathroom. “You know, you could have woken me up just by the sound of this,” and she turned on the water.
He came in after her, and put his arms around her waist. “You wouldn’t have liked the bath I was planning to give you. Do you always sleep in this late?”
“Well, just to get you to wake up, I was seriously considering plunging you into an ice-cold bath. Just to wake you up, you know.” She walked over to the bath, with Chakotay still behind her.
“Do you have any bath-oils I can put in?”
“No, not really. We’ll have to get some today.”
“That’s not necessary. Even though I don’t have a bath, I always keep my oils ready. So, what’s our schedule like today?” She got into the bath, and moved around so that she could lean against Chakotay’s back.
“Well, we need to pick up your things from your apartment, maybe even tell Starfleet where you are, and then move everything in here.”
“The first part is going to be easy. I haven’t unpacked anything except for the necessary stuff …”
“Like bath oils.”
“Like bath oils, exactly. Starfleet will be looking for me anyway, so I guess it will be nice of me to let them know where I am. They still want my decision before tomorrow. And then the wonderful part of our day will be when I move in here!”
“Yes, what postings did they give you?”
“Well, there’s the one where I get to captain my own ship—”
“Really? They gave you a ship, after reading my reports on how you managed to completely destroy almost 5 shuttles? Wow, Starfleet keeps amazing me.”
“Just for that comment, I might actually take the job. No, really, they did offer that position, but I don’t think it will be ‘me’. What did you get?”
“The best of course, or at least that’s what they called it: you’re looking at a possible Admiral, you know that?”
“Admiral Kathryn Janeway: it has a nice ring to it. So, have you decided yet?”
“No, I’m not ready to be admiral yet. All those hours behind a desk doing reports.”
“Well, I always thought you sort of liked doing reports.”
“Never, that was just all part of my plan.”
“Yes, my plan to try to keep away from you.”
“Ouch, you mean that.”
“No, not really. Of course not. So, what other positions did they offer you?”
“Besides the captaincy? There is one that I really want to accept, but I told Starfleet that I would give them their answer after I had discussed it with someone else.”
“Do you really have to ask, Kathryn?”
“No, sorry. They gave me another captaincy as well, but I don’t think I’ll go for that one either.”
“They gave you three options? Ridiculous!”
“Look who’s talking. So, what are you going to decide?”
“I think I’m gonna go for the one that is going to keep me close to you.”
“Well, in that case: how are your teaching skills, Commander?”
~ * ~ * ~
They’d beamed over to Kathryn’s apartment on the grounds of Starfleet HQ. Moving her things to the house was indeed very easy. So far, she had only unpacked two boxes, and they were easily packed up again. Now, as for Starfleet - they didn’t know how they were going to react to the fact that Kathryn and Chakotay were going to stay together no matter what.
Admiral Ramirez seemed happy to see them. Over the past couple of weeks more and more rumours had been circulating around about the Captain and the Commander, curtesey of their crew. The stories they had shared with other Starfleet members were all positive, and somehow the crew had managed to create enormous goodwill for the command team. So, Admiral Ramirez wasn’t too surprised when Kathryn and Chakotay stood before him, requesting their new positions to be together.
It was only a formality, but their positions had to be granted by another HQ member. Of all the people to grant their assignment, Kathryn and Chakotay found themselves in front of the office of Admiral Nechayev. Ramirez had apologised before hand, because he knew of the dragon lady’s reputation.
“I’m sorry, sirs, but Admiral Nechayev is busy. You can only see her if you make an appointment.”
“Lieutenant, we are fully aware that the Admiral is busy, but all we have to give her is a message from Adm. Ramirez. Now, even you could give it to her, and then she could send it back to Adm. Ramirez with her approval. We simply do not have the time to make an appointment which could well be 4 weeks away.”
“Six weeks, actually.”
“There, you see, 6 weeks. It is not possible, we need to assume our positions next week, understood?”
“Yes, Captain, Commander. I’ll see to it that she gets it right away. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”
“That’s all right. How long have you been working for the Admiral?”
“Only two days, sir.”
“Well, Lieutenant, I am sure that the Admiral is pleased with your work, keep it up.”
“Thank you, Captain Janeway.”
~ * ~ * ~
Back outside, Chakotay couldn’t help himself. “Kathryn, you are a wicked woman, you know? That poor Lieutenant now has to explain to the Queen B herself why she didn’t force us into making an appointment. Really, have you no mercy?”
“No, not when it comes to evading your Queen B. Chakotay, you know what she is like - did you know that once I received my orders to capture you, she called me back into her office to tell me that this mission was probably the most important one in my life. She even promised me that upon my successful return, she would personally recommend me for the admiralty.”
“Wow, I didn’t know we were that important. This certainly is an ego boost, wait till I tell B’Elanna.”
“Speaking of B’Elanna, do you think that they have contacted everybody by now with their new piece of information on us?”
“I don’t know, I hope not, but I think that Tom and B’Ela would rather keep everyone guessing, so that they can claim some ‘well’ earned rations.”
“The rations are not going to be of much help here, I’d thought that by now, they would have changed it to lithium.”
“Or maybe our terrible twosome has grownup some, and have decided to finally lets us live our own lives?”
She looked at him to see if he was serious, but the twinkle in his eyes gave his composure away. “Nah, they’d never do that!”
They were laughing so hard that they people around them looked at them in ill-disguised disgust. Somehow, Starfleet seemed a lot stricter than when they had left it all those years ago. Both were secretly hoping that the Academy would be more ‘fun’. Of course, if things were too bad, they could always ask Tom to entertain them. When they were waiting for their meeting with Ramirez, they had discussed the fact that their family was falling apart, but Chakotay was able to reassure Kathryn that Neelix was already planning a Voyager day to celebrate their return each year. He also was planning another commemorative day, but that would be one they would not tell Starfleet about: it was set on the day the Caretaker threw them into the DQ.
~ * ~ * ~
Half-unpacked boxes surrounded them when the comm-unit beeped. Kathryn struggled to get to the study, and almost fell over Chakotay’s legs. “Hey, look where you put those long legs, mister. People might trip over them!”
“Hey shorty, look where you’re walking, some people don’t have the ability to just curl up and fit into the smallest spaces.”
Grumbling something unintelligible, Kathryn finally made it to the study. She activated the screen.
“Hiya Kathy, so what’s up?”
“Phoebe, hello. How did you get this link?”
“How do you think? Mom of course! I don’t know what you did to her, but she is walking on air, and baking brownies like crazy.”
“I think I know why. So, when will you arrive?”
“You’re not going to tell me, are you? Really, Kathryn, sometimes you just have to learn to relax, and let other people in on the magic secret.”
“Phoebe, I’ll tell you when you get here. So, your ETA, darling sis?”
“Please, no Starfleet babble. Actually, that’s why I’m calling: mom wouldn’t give me the co-ordinates, and since we’re early, I thought I’d just call you, and ask for them.”
“I’ll send them to you. Where are you now? I don’t recognise the background.”
“O, we’re at Mr Rogers' house. I just had to see him.”
“You’re at Mr Rogers'? Hang on, I’ll be back in a sec. Has he told you anything?”
“No, just that you came to visit him the other day, that’s all.”
“Good, hang on.”
~ * ~ * ~
Kathryn ran out of the study and managed to almost trip over Chakotay’s legs again.
“Careful, Kath, I don’t want you to break anything!”
“You’re not going to believe this! Phoebe is at Mr Rogers' with her family, and she is asking me for the co-ordinates! What do I tell her? Heck, we’re not even ready here. Do you think she’ll mind to stay in town a little longer? Do you think they could stay here? Do you think they want to stay here? Help Chakotay, I can’t do this.” She sank down on the floor, and cradled her head in her hands. Chakotay walked over to her, and helped her get up.
“I’m not sure I remember all your questions, but yes, they can stay here. I also think that you should ask them how long they are planning to stay at Mr Rogers, that way, we can walk up there and surprise them. Sound okay?”
“Yes, if they’re going to stay here, they might as well meet me as soon as possible, don’t you think?”
“You’re right, of course. Okay, it sounds good, I’ll ask Phoebe. Are you ready to leave?”
“Just go tell Phoebe, and clean up the mess a bit.”
Phoebe was still anxiously awaiting her sister’s return. Their mother had been acting weird, and didn’t want to say anything about the dinner, and Kathryn was certainly not acting like her normal organised self. Something was up.
“Phoebs, sorry it took me so long. I was wondering how long you would be staying at Mr Rogers'?”
“O, he just asked if we could stay for tea. Kathy loves him, because he tells them these great stories about you and me. They’re all really nervous to meet you. I think she got the wrong impression from seeing all the vids from Starfleet, she thinks you’re really a battle-axe.”
“She does what? What have you been telling her Phoebe?”
“Me? I haven’t told her anything. It’s just that you were so collected when they took the interviews, Kathy thinks you’re like Miss Protocol all the way. She’s been practising her salutes.”
“Phoebe, I hope you told her I was a normal person.”
“You, Kathryn Janeway, normal? Are you sure you’re my sister?”
“Stuff it Phoebs. So you’ll be at Mr Rogers' a bit longer then?”
“Yes. Do I get the co-ordinates now, Captain?”
“I’ll send them over in 15 minutes, I need to make sure that Mr Rogers receives the right ones. Janeway out.”
~ * ~ * ~
They practically ran to Mr Rogers' house. Chakotay was fairly nervous. Gretchen had taken an immediate liking to him, but he wasn’t sure Phoebe would too. He only assumed that Kathryn was nervous as well.
When Mr Rogers opened the backdoor, he didn’t seem surprised. “Hello Kathryn, Chakotay. I had a feeling you would be coming by.”
“Hello, Mr Rogers. Have you told her anything?”
“And spoil the surprise, never! They’re in the living room. Do you want something to drink?”
Chakotay started to walk to the living room, telling Mr Rogers that they still had a lot of cleaning up to do before the party started. Kathryn told him they would come by another time.
~ * ~ * ~
“Mommy, when are we going to see Aunt Kathryn?”
“I don’t know sweetheart. Edward! Please, Peter, keep him away from the plants, he’ll eat them. Kathy, your aunt told me she would send the co-ordinates, and we’re just waiting for that.”
They didn’t notice Kathryn standing in the doorway, looking intently at the scene before her. Her sister always had been the lucky one, with such a beautiful family. Chakotay slipped his arms around her waist, and whispered in her ear.
“They seem rather anxious, don’t you think? Maybe it’s time we told them we’re already here?”
She just hugged him tighter to her. “We should, shouldn’t we?”
Just then Kathy turned around. Looking at the adults in the doorway, her conversation stopped, which made Phoebe look up as well. “Kathryn? What? How?” She ran towards her sister and the two women embraced. “O my god! What are you doing here?”
They pulled back to look at each other, scrutinising each line that had been etched in their faces since they last saw each other in person. “Phoebe, you have no idea how good it is to see you!”
“I think, Kathryn, that I do know. I missed you too you know!” They hugged again, but were interrupted by a little girl who was tugging her mother’s skirt. “Mommy!” Kathy was standing there with her hands on her hips, in classic Janeway-mode. “Mommy! Is this Auntie Kathryn?”
Phoebe kneeled down and picked up Kathy. “Kathy, I’d like you to meet your aunt Kathryn. Kathryn, this is your niece and namesake, Kathy.” Kathy held out her hands to Kathryn and allowed her to take her into her arms. The two Kathryn’s looked at each other until Kathy looked over Kathryn’s shoulder and pointed to Chakotay. “Who’s that?”
Phoebe had already been staring at the dark man, and had recognised him as Kathryn’s XO. She wondered why he was here, but then remembered that her mother had told her he’d been there at dinner.
“Chakotay, I’d like you to meet Kathy. Kathy, this is Chakotay.” When she saw his smile, she started to giggle. “What is that you have on your head?”
Chakotay laughed. “I’ll tell you when we go to our house.”
Phoebe just looked at them, and then remembered that she hadn’t introduced the rest of the family. “Kath, meet Peter Hariman. Peter, this is my weird and wonderful sister Kathryn. And this plant eating menace is Edward, our youngest.” The toddler looked from his mother and father to Kathryn and Chakotay and begged to be picked up as well. He buried his face in his mother’s hair. “He’s going through the ‘I only want my mommy’-phase right now, don’t worry, within an hour he is all over you.”
Peter walked up to Kathryn and hugged her. “It’s great to finally meet you. Phoebe never stops talking about you.”
“Well, Peter, I have to say, that when I received the letter from home, I was very upset for not knowing who had married my baby-sis, but I guess we can make up for that now.”
Phoebe walked over to Chakotay, and pulled him aside. “So, Chakotay, what is it like to serve under Kathryn?”
“Phoebe, it is wonderful!”
Epilogue, Part Two
Sorry it took me so long, but here it is: part two of the epilogue! Hope you like it.
The House has been my longest story so far, and finishing it was very gratifying. You could say I’m sort of sad to let the story go, but its time has come. Unfortunately I won’t be able to call it my never-ending saga anymore!
On their way Kathy couldn’t stop talking. She managed to completely dominate Kathryn and Chakotay’s attention. Kathy had grabbed hold of the two adults and was now happily swinging back and forth between them. They still hadn’t told them where they were going, and Phoebe figured Kathryn wanted to show Chakotay where they had lived. Suddenly, Kathy let go and ran towards a driveway.
“Look, mommy. It’s nana’s house!”
The group caught up with her, and Kathryn pushed open the gates. As she started making her way up the path, Phoebe stopped her. “Kathryn, you can’t just go there!”
“It’s not our property anymore. Come on, you’ve shown Chakotay where we lived. Let’s get going, before the owner spots us.”
“I think the owner has already seen us, but don’t worry, I think I can arrange something. Come on, race you to the door!”
And she took off. Kathy followed her aunt, thinking that she was not at all like the news items had shown her to be. This aunt was great! Even mommy wouldn’t just do things like this. Before Phoebe realised it, her daughter was running after Kathryn, and Edward demanded to run around as well. Peter just shrugged, and Chakotay suggested they follow the threesome.
“Phoebe, over these past years I have learned never to underestimate Kathryn’s power to charm herself out of a situation. She’ll be alright.”
“You seem to know her better that I do, Chakotay. Well, what are you waiting for, race you to the door!” He didn’t follow her however. Instead he chose to just walk down the path, and when he got to the porch he was greeted by three panting adults and two giggling children. Edward, by now used to his aunt’s crazy behaviour, had climbed on Kathryn’s lap and was sucking his thumb.
Kathryn looked up at Chakotay, “Hello there, Mr Chakotay, I hope you’re not too upset by our race down your rose path just now?”
“Never, Ms Janeway. Would you like to come in for something to drink?”
“Why thank you, kind sir. I’d simply love some coffee.”
Phoebe was perplexed. What was going on? “Kath?”
“Oh sorry. Pheebs, want something to drink? Chakotay, why don’t we go to the back and sit out on the terrace for a while. I don’t think Phoebe could handle the situation inside right now.”
“What situation?” And before anyone could react, Phoebe had already stormed inside. She almost tripped over the boxes they hadn’t been able to put away. “Kathryn! Inside, now!”
Kathryn smiled apologetically at her companions, “It seems someone is calling me. Will you excuse me for a moment?”
~ * ~ * ~
She smiled at the sight before her. Phoebe was looking around at all the boxes. “Kathryn Marie Janeway, you have some explaining to do.”
“I know, Phoebe. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, but I didn’t know how.”
“It’s okay, I think. A big surprise still, but it’s okay.”
While they went over to the sofa, Chakotay and Peter came in, each carrying a child. Kathy demanded to be put down, and ran over to her mother, “It really is nana’s house, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Kathy, this is nana’s house. Or, actually, it was nana’s house, it is now Chakotay’s house.”
The little girl seemed satisfied with the explanation and went off to wander around the house, closely followed by her brother. Her mother, however, was not satisfied, and had got up again only to pace the room. “Kathryn, will you please just tell us what it going on? I mean, our mother is going crazy baking brownies for I don’t know how many people, your friends Tom and B’Elanna have already contacted me twice to ask if I knew of a good housewarming present for you, and now I find myself in our childhood home with you pretending to visit your former First Officer who obviously has bought the house.”
“Phoebe, just be quiet for a moment, will you? I’ll explain, but first I think Chakotay should do what he promised to do.”
“And what is that?”
“Making us all some coffee.”
Chakotay had already gone into the kitchen and, after hearing Kathryn’s statement, came in handing them each their coffee. “I just assumed that you all wanted the stuff. After all,” and he looked at Peter, “hanging around those Janeway women seems to alter your taste buds. O, and before you ask, it’s blend 1-a, Kathryn. Just plain and simple coffee.”
Peter looked relieved when he heard it was just regular coffee, “Chakotay, are you saying that you are also constantly surprised by the blends they have come up with?”
“Yes, I have even gone so far as to keep the replicator in this house, just because of the varieties Kathryn has got me hooked on. Have you ever tried the Portonian Special with cold milk?”
“Well, let’s see, Phoebe loves it.”
“So does Kathryn. Still, what did you think?”
“I’ve come to the conclusion, and I’m just assuming you didn’t like it either, that we men happen to miss a chromosome in order to like that blend.”
They both laughed, but Kathryn and Phoebe looked shocked.
“Chakotay, you told me you liked the Portonian Special! Do you know how many replicator rations I spend on that, just for you!”
“Peter, could you give me a hand with something?”
“Sure, just lead the way.”
The two men practically ran towards the study.
“Coward. Can you believe that man, Phoebe?”
“Of course. So, tell me all.”
“All? You mean you want to hear about all those years that I wasted?”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind. Remember our talk about the sale of the house? Well, the next day I decided to pay Mr Rogers a visit. Afterwards, I came over here to say goodbye to the house. As I was standing outside the gate, I felt Chakotay’s gaze. It’s funny you know, ever since we first met I have been able to feel his presence.”
“Yes, I did notice a close connection between you two. Kathryn, what do you think? That I’m stupid? Nearly every conversation we’ve had so far has featured Chakotay in one way or another, mom can’t stop talking about him, and I am now sitting in his house with your stuff clearly being moved in.”
“Sorry, Pheebs. Alright, I felt Chakotay behind me, and we started talking. He invited me for a tour of the house, saying that he had bought it recently. I can tell you it definitely surprised me, but I guess I got him right back when I told him it was our home before that. Well, we went in and mom came over for dinner later that evening.”
“That’s about it, really.”
“That’s not what mom told me. Before I forget, she wanted me to find out if you have stayed the night.”
“She asked what?”
“If you spend the night.”
“Pheebs, mom would never ask you that!”
“Okay, so she didn’t. I wanted to know.”
Kathryn got up and went into the study, followed closely by Phoebe. “Kath, I asked you a question,” but Kathryn didn’t answer.
~ * ~ * ~
She found Peter and Chakotay, who had put up some shelves, arranging her books. “Hello gentlemen, need a hand?”
“No thanks, Kathryn, we’re almost ready here.”
“Okay. Chakotay, could I speak to you for a moment?”
They went outside for a moment.
“Peter, what do you think?”
“Well, about Kathryn and Chakotay.”
“Phoebe, I don’t know your sister. Then again, they do seem very ‘together’, don’t they?”
“That’s what mom was hinting at this morning. Do you know she went on and on talking about Chakotay? And his cooking. And the fact that he chased Kath around the house.”
“Are you uncomfortable with this?”
“No. I mean, it’s been so long since I really had the chance to sit down and talk to Kath, and now I have the feeling that I don’t really know my sister anymore, you know. We used to talk about everything, and now she is too afraid or something to tell me about this wonderful man. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being paranoid, but still, she could’ve said something. Now, she’s just being secretive.”
“But you don’t know what happened between them. You said earlier that everything Kathryn told you about Voyager featured Chakotay in one way or another. Then again, she never said they were together, officially. I just think they haven’t really started their relationship until maybe a couple of days ago. Now, I don’t think you were ready to show me to your family until at least several months after we started seeing each other. Don’t you think Kathryn maybe feels the same way?”
“As per usual you are my voice of reason, aren’t you?”
“Whatever you say, my darling Phoebe.”
“Let’s see if we can find Kathy and Edward.”
~ * ~ * ~
“She must know by now. I don’t see why I should specifically tell her.”
Kathryn and Chakotay were sitting in the chairs on the front porch.
“Kathryn, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, always.”
“Are you really sure about this?”
“Yes. Of course. Why do you ask?”
“You seem reluctant to tell your family that we’re together. I mean, your mother must have known you would spend the night.”
“She actually told me to.”
“She did? Right, but you never introduced me to her properly.”
“I didn’t, did I? Sorry, it’s just that this is all so new to me. Us, I mean. Do you know how long I’ve been trying to gain control over my emotions? Every time I saw you, or thought of you, or heard someone else talk about you, I was ready to just shout I love him. But I couldn’t. And now, we’re together, and I still think it’s a dream and I’m about to wake up and then I’ll find myself back in my quarters. Ouch! What did you that for?”
“Just making sure you’re not dreaming. I understand, however. But please, Kathryn, talk to me. I think Phoebe won’t be upset if we ask them to book into the B&B in town. They can stay some other time.”
“What are you talking about? Phoebe is not going anywhere.” She took his hand as she got up from the chair. “Let’s go.”
Chakotay followed her inside, it was his only option, because Kathryn’s grip on his hand was very tight.
“Phoebe? Where are you? I feel like I’m 9 years old again and mom just told me to find Phoebe for dinner. “Phoebe?”
“Up here, Kath!” They walked up the stairs and found Phoebe and her family in their old playroom.
“Aunt Kathryn, was mommy really ever this small?” Kathy showed her aunt a picture of Phoebe and her taken many Christmasses ago.
“She was, Kathy. Do you know who the other girl is?”
“Well, Kathy, that’s your aunt Kathryn.”
The little girl started giggling, then ran out of the room, again followed by Edward, and their father.
“Peter, don’t let Kathy fall down the stairs again. Did mom tell you what happened when we moved all her stuff out? Well, Kathy fell down the stairs trying to help Peter carry a heavy box. I haven’t stopped teasing him about ‘dropping’ his daughter. You know …”
“Phoebe, shut up.”
“Excuse me? I won’t shut up, just because you …”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. Just listen, okay?”
Epilogue, Part Three
Really! I mean it! This is the last part!
Phoebe and Peter stayed in the old guestroom, while Kathy and Edward slept in their mom’s old bedroom. Kathryn and Phoebe had stayed up almost the entire night, talking about life, the universe and everything. And about Peter and Chakotay. When Kathryn had told her about the events of the last couple of years, and how she had felt about Chakotay, Phoebe was even more amazed by her sister’s resilience.
~ * ~ * ~
Someone was pulling her hair. And bouncing up and down on her stomach. She tried to roll over to where Chakotay was sleeping, but she couldn’t move, because apparently that certain someone had brought a friend who was keeping her legs in place. After checking with Chakotay, Kathy and Edward decided to give their aunt an unusual wake-up call.
“Goodmorning, aunt Kathryn.” Kathy cheerfully called out. All they received as an answer was a grunt.
“Aunt Ka’wyn, play?”
“Come on, sis, where is your sense of adventure?” Phoebe joined her children on the bed. “Let’s get up and see if breakfast is ready!”
“You get up way too early. Let me sleep.”
“Here, Phoebe, let me help. Maybe this will wake her up.”
Slowly the smell of coffee permeated the room. Kathryn carefully opened one eye and found herself looking straight at four pairs of eyes.
“She’s awake! Thank you, uncle Chakotay. Come on, aunt Kathryn, let’s play.”
~ * ~ * ~
It took some more gentle persuasion from Chakotay to get Kathryn to leave her bed this early. Phoebe couldn’t help but tell her sister this is what she could expect when she had children of her own. Kathryn tried to ignore the comment, but found she couldn’t. One look at Chakotay gave her all the answers she needed, and she replied that their children simply would have to visit their aunt Phoebe’s regularly then. Of course, Chakotay just lifted her up after hearing this, and he twirled Kathryn around to the delight of the children. Kathy simply thought this new aunt and uncle were great people, and she didn’t fully understand why her mommy had never introduced them to her before.
~ * ~ * ~
Together with Peter and Phoebe they managed to give most of Kathryn’s possessions a fitting place in the house, and after lunch they realised they still had much to plan for the party that evening. Tom and B’Elanna came by round 2 PM carrying more bags and trays than they could handle. His theme was still a surprise to everyone but B’Elanna, but she assured Chakotay he had nothing to worry about. Of course, Tom noticed Kathryn’s things in the house only 5 minutes after arriving and he teased B’Elanna mercilessly about loosing her bet to Kes.
The four crewmembers told Phoebe and Peter all about Kes, and Neelix and the other new crewmembers, until they noticed Kathy crawling away in a corner. When they asked her about it, she told them it was to hide from the Borg who were also coming to the party. It took Kathryn the better part of the afternoon to reassure Kathy that Seven was not Borg anymore. She told the little girl that Seven in fact was probably less Borg than any humans she had ever met.
Around dinnertime most of the crew had arrived. They were pleased to see their commanding officers together. When Tom announced the result of the various bets he’d been keeping over the years, people weren’t surprised to find Kes the winner in most of them. She really knew and understood more than they realised at the time. The party was a huge success, and Gretchen’s brownies were the hit of the evening. Finally Chakotay understood why they were so special. Of course he never really tasted his, because he was too busy looking at Kathryn’s face when she ate hers.
The theme of the party was only obvious after people had visited the specially created room. Tom had come up with a wonderful idea. Together with the Doctor he had managed to make pictures of all the room aboard Voyager, even the Captain’s quarters. He had then commented on them, and while you walked down the makeshift hallway, his voice could be heard telling you about the juicy gossip on the various rooms.
~ * ~ * ~
Only the members of the senior crew and Kathryn’s family were left. They’d already congratulated Tom on his overwhelming success this evening, when B’Elanna came back into the garden again, carrying a large package. It was hers and Tom’s housewarming present for Chakotay and Kathryn.
“Old man, Captain, I hope you won’t be too upset when you find out what Tom and I did. Well, Seven and Harry and the Doctor and Neelix and, yes, even Tuvok helped us. We just wanted to give you something which we thought we would be giving you about three months after we brought you back from that planet. We hope you like it. We had someone else help us make, but you’ll see that when you open it.”
~ * ~ * ~
Chakotay and Kathryn tore open the paper. They were holding a painting of their shelter with the garden, accompanied by a monkey on a bathtub.
“You see, it was clearly not painted by us. I think, Kathryn, you’ll recognise the artist. And well, as for the monkey and the bathtub, let’s just say you weren’t as secretive about it as you wanted to be. I guess you really don’t remember the party Neelix threw two nights after you returned to the ship, because you really were quite talkative, and the monkey and the bathtub were favourite topics with you both. That’s when we decided to work on something that would help you remember the wonderful time you had down there.”
Before B’Elanna knew it, she was already swept up in an enormous bearhug from Chakotay, while Kathryn proceeded to hug and kiss the others. Phoebe just then was able to look at the painting, and almost bowled her mother over when she discovered who the artist exactly was.
~ * ~ * ~
There was a note attached to the painting:
Mia Katerina, There is strength in unity. I wish you and your Angry Warrior all the happiness in the world. Te amo,
Leonardo Ps: how will I ever finish the portrait of the prince’s worthless son without your inspiration?
FIN - finally!