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.