|BEFORE THE DAWN|
| When Kathryn reached her
quarters they were dark, she checked the time--2200--early yet. She
knew Chakotay wouldn't stay late, but he would be a while yet. She
took a relaxing bath and went to bed. She woke up several hours later
with the crashing sound in the other room. She heard him swear under
his breath and laughed.
"Light 1/2." She reached for her bathrobe, slipping into it as she entered the living area. "Hi"
"Huh?--Hi." He grinned at her from his position on the floor.
"Good party?" She laughed at him sprawled out across her boots.
"OK----it's not the party it's these damn boots." He held them up.
"Sorry, thought I put them away." She offered him a hand up. "You OK?"
"Yea---did I wake you?"
"Yes---but I don't mind." She went to the replicator and ordered them tea.
"We may have to man this thing all the way to earth.----those boys may never sober up."
"Rebi better ---he's getting married day after tomorrow."
"It's only synthehol---but they are enjoying it --how did yours go?"
"Same --all everyone want to talk about is me and ----whoever."
"It used to be me---you and me--guess that's no fun any more."
"They still talk about you---how you reacted to Michael--how you reacted to Gath---how you re..."
"Nice ladies.." He was laughing "Like to mull over my pain."
"Mezoti and Jessica didn't know about Michael--until tonight and B'Elanna told them about Tom and the transwarp thing---they were scandalized."
"God how did I ever marry such a wicked woman?"
"Please---I had to threaten Sam to get the subject changed."
"From the smirk, I take it you threatened her with me---would that be correct?"
"Among other things--but could you just imagine those girls. They think I'm wicked, but you --you walk on water---they should only know!"
"Poor long suffering me."
"Yea poor you ---hey--speaking of Sam..."
"Who was speaking of Sam, I was talking about me."
"I was--She knows about Soamir. I had no idea."
'Working in sickbay she.."
"Teach you to go by the book. You should learn to take chances.."
"Like you?!" As soon as she said it she was sorry, she saw his expression change---tried to pretend she didn't notice. "More like something Harry would do, rememb.."
"Kathryn, there is one person we have never talked about."
"And there is no need to now." She got up and recycled the cups.
"How long have you know about..." He followed her into the bedroom.
"Tashal? OK, her name was Tashal." She hung up her robe, giving him a weak smile before climbing into bed. "enough talk, come to bed."
"Kathryn?" He sat next to her. "How---how long? Why didn't you ever ..."
"If I tell you, will you come to bed? ---It's late we have an early shift." He didn't answer ---just sat looking at her, she sat up. "OK---I've always known----I---I saw her." She took a deep breath. "I never said anything because--there was nothing to say." He looked away and she put her hand on his shoulder. "Chakotay ---- it was a long time ago and it long over---let's not do this."
"We have to --don't you think it's about time?"
"No, I chose not to talk about it then and I don't want to do it now---It happened--it's over and it was all my fault---nothing else to talk about."
"Your fault? Is that why you never said anything----you blame your self?"
"It was my fault---I made the decision, I gave the orders that started it, I was the one who couldn't handle the outcome, I was the one who shut you out, I was the one who was shallow and empty---unable to recognize my own pain--never mind yours----Yes -it was my fault." She laid back down, turning away from him.
"Kathryn, not everything is your fault--just because you're Captain. God I was a coward--hiding behind the excuse of not hurting you---all the while you blamed yourself. I'm so sorry.'
They had debated it long and hard--to attempt to cross this sector of space or go around. Crossing could be dangerous --- there was a civil war of sorts--each side claiming sovereignty --each side backing their claims with war ships. They could negotiate with both sides--claim neutrality and possibly be allowed safe passage or they could go the long way. To go around this sector would add eighteen months to their trip and they were reluctant to do that. In the end, it was decided they should try negotiation.
It was a typical quiet morning on Voyager. Alpha shift prepared for their day and gamma shift looked forward to some relaxation.
"Good morning." Kathryn entered the living area to find Chakotay and Katie having breakfast.
"Morning--thought you were gonna sleep all day."
"Might have if you two weren't so noisy." She bent to kiss her daughter, who reached for her with sticky hands. "Morning honey---finish this nice breakfast daddy made you." She made a face, sitting next to the child and accepting the coffee Chakotay handed her. "Thanks. you're ready early, what's up?"
"I have to meet with B'Elanna early--if I dress Katie while you shower, can you drop her off?"
"Sure. problem in engineering?"
"No, more like trouble in paradise. I don't think it's serious---just B'E needing to let off steam and I think it will straighten it's self out."
"I hope so---this could become a very small ship it they separated."
"Yea, not enough decks between engineering and the bridge."
"Not to mention no spare living quarters."
"I'm sure it will be fine--they do this every now and then---He probably spent too much time on the holodeck or didn't pick up the kids---whatever-- she'll get over it."
"Hope so." She got up and considered their daughter. "Maybe I should dress her---she's a mess and your all dressed. What is that stuff?" She examined the mushy substance oozing through Katie's fingers.
"Oatmeal---Talaxian style." He laughed as he cleared it away. "Minus the leola root---go ahead, I can do this."
"Yea --go on."
By the time she finished her shower, Katie was clean and dressed. Chakotay went off to his meeting with B'Elanna and Kathryn took Katie to day care. The daycare was located on deck five, next to sickbay. It was one of the most secure sections of the ship, buried in the middle it was less vulnerable to attack---which was exactly why sickbay had been located there. It was manned on rotating shifts twenty four hours a day, just as any other area of the ship. It provided regular daycare, as well as emergency care---they never knew when they might be needed.
When Kathryn brought Katie in, some of the regulars were already there. Tom and B'Elanna's three year old daughter Kayla was chasing her big brother Owen, who was five. Jake and Jessica Kim--Harry and Jenny's three year old twins were trying to get in the crib with Megan and Bills new baby, Billy. One year old Joey Carey sat playing quietly by himself.
"Morning Captain." Ensign Carol MacKay, greeted them.
"Morning Ensign---busy this morning."
"Yes, alpha is a busy shift this week." She bent down. "Hi Katie, want to come play with us?" Katie eagerly let go of her mother and raced across the room. "Hey--don't you wanna say good bye to mommy?"
"Mama." Katie raced back to her mother, arms outstretched.
"Have a good day baby." Kathryn scooped her up, kissing her. "You be a good girl, daddy will come and get you for lunch--OK?" She put Katie back on her feet. "I'll see you later--I love you." She kissed her head as Katie spun, waved good bye and was off again. "Have a good day Ensign."
"You too Captain." As they spoke Katie raced over to Joey and pulled away the toy he played with, Joey grabbed Katie's hair and Katie screamed. "Oops gotta go." Ensign MacKay headed for the kids. "Hey Joey--let go of Katie's hair..."
Kathryn smiled as she watched for a few more minutes, then slipped out for the relative quiet of the bridge.
It was a quiet morning and the Captain spent most of it in her ready room. She lost all track of time, until the chime rang. She glanced at the chronometer--1200--lunch time.
"Come" She called out anxious to see both of them. "Hi."
"Mama." Katie made a dash for her.
"Hi----could you move those padds" He balanced their trays, as he came in.
"Yea." Kathryn struggled to the table, Katie wrapped around her leg. "Hey---I can't walk like this." She reached down and pick the girl up.
"Here." Chakotay had set down the trays and brought Katie's small chair to the low table. "There you go." He settled her in the chair and placed her lunch in front of her.
"Fine--no big deal--she will get over it." He sat next to her on the couch.
"I hear your daughter has been beating on little Joey." He passed her food over.
"MY daughter---how come when she's beating up little boys she's MY daughter and when she's sweet and cute she's your daughter?"
"Just works that way---like mother like daughter."
"I don't think so--anyway he pulled her hair."
"And just what did our little darling do to provoke this hair pulling?" He laughed. "Gonna tell me nothing?"
"Well --she -might have taken his toys---but she only wanted to play."
"Sure if she ran the game---like mother like dau... Ouch." He jumped when she punched his arm and he grabbed her hand and pinned it to the couch. "Mommy want to play too?" He leaned in and kissed and they both jumped when Katie squealed.
"Katie." Kathryn sat up quickly, but laughed when she saw the smiling, jelly covered face.
"Get back here."
He grabbed for her, but only caught her sleeve. She wiggled out of her jacket and ran behind the couch, he chased her. Katie giggled and squealed as she watched her parents play this cat and mouse game around the ready room. He grabbed for her again and they tumbled down the step and landed with a thud, in a tangled mess, on the lower level. Before they could stop laughing long enough to catch their breath, Katie leaped from the step landing on both of them. Jelly hands grabbed at both uniforms and sticky cheeks smeared against theirs. The door opened.
"Captain." Tuvok stood looking down at his commanding officers, tangled together on the floor of the ready room, faces smeared with jelly and Katie proudly smiling from the top of the pile.
"Yes, Mr. Tuvok." She used her best Captains voice.
"The commotion and resounding thud, caused concern on the bridge--- I wanted to be sure you were not injured." He stood with one eyebrow raised in amusement, in the doorway, affording at least half the bridge crew a good view..
"We're fine Tuvok, Thank You" She tried to reply as if her current position, on the bottom of this pile, was a normal one.
"Indeed." he backed out and allowed the door to close.
Their laughter could be hear across the bridge as the door closed. It was good to see them like this. They had adapted an old saying on Voyager --"As the Captain goes --so goes Voyager". Right now Voyager was a happy ship.
Tom shook his head at the sight. It was good to see her like that--his straight laced, tough Captain. The woman who would not hesitate to lay down her own life for this ship and crew, the woman who could face down the meanest alien, take on any challenge, fight any foe, who could be fierce when she had to be and gentle when she could be. Yeah--- it was good to see her on the floor with jelly smeared on her face---good to see them so happy.
After lunch, they scrapped the jelly off their uniforms and washed their faces, then took Katie back to daycare together. Whenever possible their day went this way, Katie spent as much time with them as possible. She ate almost every meal with one or both of them, one of them was always there when she woke up in the morning or went to sleep at night--there were far too many disadvantages to life on a Starship for a child---they were determined to give her everything they had to offer.
They returned to the ready to complete the pile of reports on her desk. If they worked together and finished the padds early enough, they planned to take Katie for a picnic on the Holodeck. Two hours and many cups of coffee later they were almost finished.
"Tuvok to Janeway"
"Yes Tuvok." She hoped this wasn't important, she wanted to change before picking up Katie.
"Captain, two Sagerian war ships just dropped out to warp."
"On my way." She gave Chakotay a questioning look. "Let's see what this is about." He nodded and followed her onto the bridge.
"Two war ships--weapons powered. They dropped out of warp directly in our path." Tuvok reported.
"Shields" She felt certain Tuvok would have already done this--the order was automatic.
"On screen, Mr. Kim" She and Chakotay took their seats.
"Drop your shields and prepare to be boarded." An Angry looking alien almost yelled at her.
"I have no intention of being boarded----I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway and you are?"
"Forgive me Captain, I am Bo'gata of the Serer-NU." He made a mock bow. "NOW DROP YOUR SHIELDS AND PREPARE TO BE BOARDED."
"Bo'gata, what is this about---We have an agreement with both the Seger-NU and the Seger-EVS to pass peacefully through this sector."
"Past agreements are irrelevant---the war is over, the Seger-NU have defeated the cowards. Drop your shields."
"No--I have no interest in your conflict or it's out come --- both sides agreed to allow our safe passage and...."
"WOMAN----Enough. Drop your shields or you will be destroyed."
"Bo'gata..." The transmission ended and the bridge shook with the first blast. "Report"
"Shields holding 98%--no damage."
"Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Paris---Tuvok target their weapons and fire." The next blast almost knocked her from her chair.
"Shields down to 57%---direct hit no effect on their shields."
"Ready torpedoes---Lock on their weapons and fire at will."
"Captain they are sending a power surge that is cutting though our shields." Harry wasn't sure if he was more scared or amazed.
"Reinforce them with a deflector pulse ---Tom get us out of here."
The ship rocked violently, consoles flashed and sparked, smoke filled the bridge. Primary systems began to fail, Tuvok disabled the first ships weapons the second pursued them. Shields fell to 28%, damage and causality reports flood in from all decks. Warp drive was off line, the second ship was closing on them--they couldn't out run them on impulse They were unable to disable the energy beam and it was slicing through the hull with every surge. She ordered Tuvok to target their propulsion---hit the warp core if necessary---stop that ship!
The force of the blast, when it came, propelled them faster than their own thrusters. The ship rocked, alarms rang and damage reports filled the smoky air. Hull breaches were reported on decks four, five, seven and eleven, force fields were holding and repair crews were on the way. Shields were down, warp was gone and life support was fluctuating. The only encouraging news was that after the second ship exploded the other Serer ship broke off pursuit--they were alone--for now.
"Tom get us as far away as you can."
"Aye Captain--impulse is holding"
"Good--I'm going to engineering to see what I can do for B'Elanna--Commander coordinate the repairs--Tuvok you have the bridge."
"Captain..." Harry look up at her.
"Yes Harry." When he didn't answer she turned toward him impatiently. "Harry---what is it?"
"Captain---damage report deck five--causalities reported..." He blanched. "Daycare" For a second all activity on the bridge stopped everyone turned toward the Captain.
"Janeway to MacKay" She received no response. "Janeway to daycare"
"Caffery here Captain--it's bad--MacKay is dead..."
"On my way." She looked at Chakotay, Tom, then at Harry. "Ensign Hallero, take the helm, Lieutenant Phieffer take over at Ops---Chakotay, Tom, Harry---let's go."
The lifts were off line, they silently climbed down the four decks to Daycare. The entire deck was filled with smoke--falling bulkhead -sparking wires. They made their way to daycare. Children were crying, frantic caregivers were trying to calm them and assess the damage. Owen ran up to Tom, dragging his little sister behind him. Harry found the twins crying but unhurt. Kathryn surveyed the damage, Chakotay searched frantically for Katie.
"Sickbay, Commander---Katie is in sickbay."
He wasn't sure who said it he never turned
to look, just grabbed Kathryn and rushed out the door.
"Captain, Commander." He needed to say no more; the look on his face told them all.
"Where is she?" The Captain's voice was barely audible.
"Here." He took her arm and led her to the surgical bio bed where Katie lay motionless.
There were lights and monitors all around,
but none flashed or beeped--just deadly silence. Their laughing little
bundle of joy lay still and quiet. They stood just staring for several
minutes. Chakotay stepped closer, then lifted the tiny body.
A deep animal cry escaped, as he crumbled to the floor, cradling Katie's
lifeless body. His body racked in uncontrollable sobs and Kathryn
knelt beside him.
News travels fast on a Starship and it didn't take the crew long to learn of the most recent casualties, which included Ensign MacKay from daycare, Lieutenant Unicrn from engineering and one child---Katie Janeway. Losses of this kind always took a toll--but this one--this time they had lost a child--the first loss of this kind they ever experienced. If the loss of such and innocent were not enough--it was Katie, the pride and joy and only child of the Captain and first officer. What just a few hours ago was a happy loving family, was now shattered and broken and the heart of Voyager went with it.
The Captain climbed down the six decks to main engineering, if along the way she noticed the heartfelt looks from her crew, she did not acknowledge it. She didn't acknowledge anything, she just made her way to engineering.
"Captain?----Kathryn?" B'Elanna met her at the door. "You shouldn't be here..."
"B'Elanna I..." She stopped and took a deep breath. "Lieutenant we need that warp drive--what can I do to help you?"
"Kat---Captain--are you sure?" B'Elanna studied her.
"B'Elanna we need to be gone before they come back --How are repairs going?"
"OK--I have teams on all the hull breaches, life support is stabilized, phasers are on line and we have thrusters and impulse. Several teams are on minor repairs and I guess you and I will bring the warp drive on line--a couple of hours I figure."
"Alright--lets get started."
It took longer than expected and it was 2330 before the Captain returned to her quarters, but they were once again warp capable. She keyed in the code and enter the darkened living area. Chakotay was here, she had asked the computer, she looked around for him. The light was on in Katie's room, she found him there. He was just sitting on her bed, he didn't look up when she came in, but he knew she was there.
"Chakotay." She sat beside him and he put his arm around her shoulder. "Are you OK?"
"No--I don't think I'll ever be OK again." When he looked at her she saw the truth of his words.
"I know. I.." It was all she got out before the flood of
tears, she had held back so long, broke loose.
They were still in Katie's room when the computer sounded their wake up call. They had said very little in the past few hours, they just hung on hoping it would all go away. It didn't.
"THE TIME IS 0500 HOURS. THE TIME IS 0500 HOURS."
"Computer reset twenty four hours." She raised her head up off his shoulder, "Coffee?"
"I guess." He followed her into the other room. "Was it only yesterday? She was just..." He sat on the couch head in his heads.
"I don't think I can do this." She sat beside him, placing their coffee on the table. "I don't want to---I'm tired--tired of being strong, tired of being the Captain, tired of everything."
"I know." He picked his head up and looked at her. "But...we will --we have to."
It was a difficult day, for the entire crew. Everyone wanted to say something and yet there was nothing to say. The reality of the situation was that it could happen to anyone of them at any time, they always knew it was possible, but until yesterday no one truly believed it would. Now it was all too real and tomorrow's services would make it very, very final.
The Command team had put in an appearance and even stayed on the bridge for a short time, but to everyone's relief they returned to their quarters before lunch. Neither of them had slept in thirty or so hours and so they were less than surprised when the doctor made a house call.
"Come in." Kathryn call in a flat weary voice.
"Captain." The doctor came in carrying a medical bag reminiscent of old country doctors of centuries ago--it almost made her laugh.
"What can I do for you, Doctor?"
"Nothing--is the Commander here?"
"Yes--in...there." She nodded her head in the direction of Katie's room.
"I see, well I am here to be sure the two of you get some rest." He held up his hand to forestall her protest. "Don't bother, you will both rest and that's an order. Now would you like to change into something more comfortable before I sedate you?"
"Sure." She couldn't fight him--she didn't have any fight left, she just went and changed.
She was no sooner finished, when the Doctor and Chakotay came into the bedroom.
"Both of you lie down. You will sleep through to morning--don't worry you will be up in plenty of time to make final arrangements for the service."
They climbed into bed without protest
and the Doctor administered a hypospray to each. Before he left their
quarters, they were sleeping. He instructed the computer to monitor
them and returned to sick bay.
They dropped the dress off with the doctor and made a trip to the hydroponics bay. When they were finished there, they went to the cargo bay, where the ceremony would be held. It was early yet, only the doctor was there--everything was ready and he had put the dress on Katie, but hair was not his area of expertise. He was looking helplessly at the bow when the came in.
"Doctor--is there a problem?" Kathryn had to smile at the helpless look on his face.
"I'm sorry, as you can see I don't have much experience with hair."
"It's alright, I'll do it." She reached out took the bow and carefully arranged Katie's hair.
Chakotay place the peace rose in Katie's hands and the doctor slipped out allowing them this last time with their daughter. They were standing together, just gazing down at Katie as the crew silently filed into the cargo bay. Every crewmember that could be spared--and it was most of the crew-and all of the children stood silently awaiting the ceremony. Finally they stepped back and the Captain nodded to Mr.Tuvok, who began the service. Tuvok conducted the ceremony, a few of the crew spoke, but the final speaker was the Captain. She spoke of each one individually and somehow even managed to talk about Katie's brief life without breaking down---the same could not be said for the others in the room, many of whom wept openly.
They stood at attention, in full dress uniforms to pay one last tribute to their fallen colleagues. The whistle sounded it's final solemn salute. It was just as the last casing was shot into space that the Captain collapsed. Chakotay reached for her, but was so unsteady himself it took Harry and B'Elanna to steady him, as Tom lifted the unconscious Captain. The crowd parted allowing them to pass and on the Doctors instructions, Tom brought her home.
The Commander returned to work a few days later,
but it was a full week before anyone saw the Captain again. When
she entered the bridge, that first time back, she was once again the Captain.
Not even the senior staff could tell that it took all her strength just
to put on the uniform and be the Captain. Chakotay knew, he lived with
it and hoped someday she would be more than the empty shell he saw when
the uniform came off.
Kathryn didn't socialize much anymore and Chakotay only a little more than her. They attended mandatory functions, weddings, christening the Praxton party, but only briefly. Whenever they dined in the mess hall, which was not often, they avoided the busy times when most of the families ate. Although the Captain carefully monitored the ship as she always had, she hadn't been in the daycare since that fateful day nearly a year ago. She had been off the ship exactly twice in that time, both times for negotiations, she couldn't avoid or arrange to hold on Voyager. The crew had shore leave opportunity four different times in the past year, but neither of the commanding officers had taken advantage of it. People noticed these things, but on the surface they seem to be doing so well it was believed it would just take a little more time. Someone had seen them holding hands as they walked the ship and spirits soared.
They were in space dock for repairs, had been for three weeks. It was a great relief to find this place, the ship benefited greatly from the extensive maintenance docking allowed and the crew could enjoy the space station and an occasional foray to the planet below. The Commander had been planet side several time over the weeks and enjoyed playing some pool with Tom and Harry at the bar located in the station. It seemed no amount of convincing could bring Kathryn off the ship.
"Come." She called automatically, when the ready room door chimed.
"Captain." He sounded formal, but he was smiling when she looked up at him.
"Commander, is there something I can do for you?" She returned his smile.
"Come planetside with me." His eyes pleaded with her, but the vail that fell over her face told him he was wasting his time.
"Oh Chakotay, I'm sorry ---I can't"
"Kathryn--- there isn't that much to do--we've been in dock for three weeks--please. It's very lovely and I want to show you this beautiful waterfall."
"I'm sorry --you go--enjoy." She came around the desk, taking his arm. "I can't"
"Can't or Won't?" He was tired of her shutting herself up like this---it was making him angry. "You have to stop this ---- get off this ship ---breath the air--for gods sake ---Kathryn."
"I can't --I need..."
"You need!--- What about what I need?" He took hold of her shoulders. "Kathryn ---I need you ---come with me, just for a little while."
"I wish I could." Her struggle was all too visible in the moist blue eyes. "If I leave here I won't be able to hold together --- if I let go, now---- I won't be able to put the Captain back together again. I can't take that chance."
"Trust me, Kathryn." He pulled her close . "I'll hold you together, if necessary---please." She let him hold her, but in a few minutes he felt her stiffen and knew her resolve had returned --he had lost again.
"I do trust you, Chakotay." She spoke softly, moving back to look up at him with a forced smile. "Soon, I promise..."
"Kathryn, it's been a year---it's time."
"I can't---I can't just wipe her from my memory---from my heart." She moved away from him, toward the viewport. She was my baby-----I..."
"She was my daughter- too". He stood behind her, trying to keep the anger from his voice. "I'm not asking you to forget her--- I could never--she will always be apart of us---probably the best part---Kathryn, don't make her the only part. We can't bring her back and we can't just stop living."
"Why? Why can't we? I don't want to do this any more." When she turned, the tears spilled down her cheeks.
"Kathryn." He reached for her, but she backed up-wiping her eyes.
"I know--I'm the Captain---damn it, let me be the Captain then." Her anger flashed, but when she saw the pained look on his face she softened. "Oh Chakotay, I'm sorry." She came forward and touched his face, trying to smile through her tears. "Go, have a nice day---relax--I promise, before we leave here---in a few days, OK? I'll come and see your waterfall, we can have a picnic----OK?"
"Sure--a few days, OK." He smiled, but it was forced. "OK--I'll go pick out the spot."
"Yes, do that."
He left and she returned to her desk. She sat staring at the padd in front of her, unable to read through the blur of her tears. He was right--she knew, he was right. She had to let go---she had to a great extent, but something about never leaving the ship made her feel closer to Katie---closer to Katie and slowly slipping farther from Chakotay. She wasn't aware of how long she sat there until Tuvok came in for shift change.
"Come." She was surprised to see Tuvok. "Tuvok?"
"Captain, do you have any special instructions for beta shift?"
"Beta? My is it that time already?" She glanced at the chronometer---yes she had been sitting here for five hours.
"No---nothing special. The bridge is yours Mr. Tuvok." Kind of pointless she thought---we are docked, have been for weeks.
"Thank You, Captain." He turned and left her alone.
She sat for a few minutes more, then knew what she needed to do. She left the ready room and crossed to the lift.
"I will be beaming down to the surface for a while."
"Yes, Captain." His expression never changed, but you could hear the relief in his voice.
She thought about changing, but she had delayed long enough, instead she went straight to transporter room one.
"Ensign, locate the coordinates Commander Chakotay used earlier today and beam me there."
Kathryn waited on the transport pad as the Ensign scanned for the coordinates. She didn't miss the smile creeping across the Ensigns face.
"I have them, Captain"
The Captain materialized in a square, at the edge of town. There weren't many people and just a few shops. She looked around the area, but she didn't spot him.
"Captain?" A man's voice asked from behind her.
"Yes, I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway and you are?" She turned and smiled at the man.
"Captain, I am Devlin. I am glad you decided to visit us."
"Well, Mr. Devlin---seems you were expecting me."
"No-----actually I thought you wouldn't come."
"How do you know me?"
"The Commander, he spoke of you--he hoped you would come some weeks ago."
"Chakotay, I came to find him---do you know where he is?"
"Not certainly---but a guess would say, he and Tashal could be found at the water ---he likes to go there."
"I see and Tashal would be...?
"Tashal is my sister, she has appointed herself unofficial ambassador and tour guide."
"Oh---the water is it far, could you tell me how to get there?"
"Not far at all, let me take you."
"If it wouldn't be a problem---thank you." She smiled taking the arm he offered.
As they walked, he talked of the planet, their culture and government. He pointed out different plants and animals of interest as they followed a wide path through a wooded area.
"Your journey is a long one."
"Yes we have been trying to get home for almost thirteen years now. We are only a little more than half the way there."
"It must be difficult---lonely--traveling so long."
"We have each other and our numbers are growing." She laughed. "Why would you think we are lonely?"
"The commander---he is a very lonely man and I don't know you but-- you seem very lonely as well."
"Do I? Well, we are far from alone..."
"Yes----but still lonely." He watched her smile fade. "I'm sorry---it was just an observation, I didn't mean to offend you."
"Oh you haven't ---Do we have much farther to go?"
"Just over that hill."
They climbed the hill and were rewarded with the most beautiful scenery she had seen in a very long time. Below them lay a lush green valley with a deep blue pool and the most spectacular waterfall. No wonder he wanted her to come here. The scene was breathtaking -but empty, no Chakotay. They looked around for them and enjoyed the view for several minutes, then started back to town... Devlin led the way down the hill. Kathryn turned for one more look before heading down after him. Something caught her eye, it caught the sun and flashed just long enough to draw her attention. His communicator badge. She squinted into the sun, it was difficult to make them out in the shadows. It took another minute to focus, but then she clearly made out the two figures lying in the grass on the other side of the pool. She turned and trotted down the hill to catch up.
"Captain---are you alright?" They had been walking quietly for a few minutes.
"Huh?---Oh -I'm fine--just thinking." She smiled at him and he seemed to relax.
"I'm sorry we didn't find them."
"Yes----listen, the Commander wanted to show me the waterfall, let's not spoil it for him. Don't tell him I was here---OK?"
"If you wish."
Once they returned to town, Kathryn bid Devlin goodbye and returned to Voyager. She checked in with Tuvok, who was surprised by her quick return, then went to their quarters. She replicated a glass of wine and took a long hot bath. She had been in bed for hours, but not really sleeping, when he came in. She heard him replicated something and a few minutes later, he was quietly undressing. He slipped into the bed, trying not to wake her, she rolled to face him.
"Hi---have a nice day?"
"You're awake---I sorry, did I do that?"
"No I wasn't really sleeping, just drifting. She turned on her side, propped her head up on her hand, watching him.
"You OK?" He tried to study her face in the dark.
"Yea, I missed you." He laid down and she snuggled close to him
"Wish you would have come with me."
"How about tomorrow?"
"Really? A picnic--tomorrow?" She couldn't see him, but she could hear the smile.
"If you still want to"
"Of course I want to--but I'm supposed to be on duty tomorrow." He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. "Know anyone who could fix that?"
"I just might have a little influence."
In the morning she arranged with Tuvok to cover for them. They were in dock there wasn't really anything that needed to be done. Tuvok was more than happy to do anything to provide them with this small respite. They transported to the same coordinates she had the day before, she wasn't sure what would happen. When she saw Devlin and he seemed to grasp the situation, she relaxed.
"Commander, good to see you, I thought you would be working today." Devlin shook hands with Chakotay and turned to look at Kathryn, she looked considerably different dressed this way. He smiled at her. "And who, may I ask, is this lovely lady?"
"Devlin, this is Captain Kathryn Janeway." Chakotay looked at her and smiled. "My wife."
"You wife?" His surprise was genuine, and a very good cover. "You are a lucky man. Welcome, Captain."
"Thank You." Her smile told him, what she was thanking him for.
"We are going to the falls for a picnic." Chakotay put his free arm around her.
'Well don't let me keep you---have a nice day."
They walked the path to the waterfall, hand in hand. Chakotay spread the blanket under a large shade tree on the other side of the water. It was a beautiful day, the sky was a deep blue and the planet's twin suns were warm and comforting. They explored the area, he showed her all the beautiful places he had found on his previous visits, they swam in the pool and played in the waterfall. They shared their picnic lunch in the shade of the tree and this time when they talked about Katie, it was in celebration of her life and the joy she gave them and not just in mourning for her death. They made love in the sunshine and he remembered feeling it had been a long time. They had, had sex countless times in the past year, but this time for the first time in a very long time, they made love. When they returned to Voyager, they started their new life -together.
"Kathryn------Tashal, was just....."
"Don't.-please." She put her finger to his lips. "Don't say anymore. Tashal was someone who helped you through a difficult time---when I couldn't --in fact she helped us both. If I hadn't gone down to the planet that day, if I hadn't seen you ---I may never have broken out of my self pity---never realized what I was doing to you-----to us. We should thank her for all the good -all the happy years we've had since then and move on."
"I love you Kathryn"
"Through all the years and everything that has happened, all that we have gone through---that is the one thing I have never doubted." She leaned over, pressing a soft kiss on his lips. "I love you." She smiled. "We need to get up in two hours---can we sleep now?"
"Yes Ma'am." He laid down and drew her to him.
End part eight--TBC
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