Disclaimer: All the characters belong to Paramount—big deal they don’t know what to do with them!
Second place in Pink contest
The stars stretched beyond her vision; her unseeing eyes stared out through the view port, into the past. It had been a long and lonely seven years, but that part was behind her now, at least the loneliness was. Life had undergone so many changes in the last six months and now—well, they had adjusted to difficult changes in the past—as Seven would say, they would ‘adapt’ to this also.
She had been on a diplomatic mission, away from the ship for almost a week, but came home with most of the needed supplies and good solid leads as to where to find the rest. The mission had been a success. She docked the flyer in shuttle bay two and quickly ran through the shutdown sequence. Lieutenants Ayala, Q’tarm and Jenkins, as anxious as their Captain to end this mission, hurried through their tasks as well.
“Lieutenants.” She knew they were tired and eager to get back to their normal lives. “Why don’t you take your gear and head home, we can debrief tomorrow. And I’m sure we could all use some down time.”
“Aye, Captain.” Three smiling faces responded together.
Needing no further coaxing, they scurried out of the shuttle bay. Smiling, she watched them go, then gathered up her own things; it was good to be home. As she turned back, she caught sight of him entering the bay. Suddenly time froze; she could feel her heart pound and she had to hold herself back so that she didn’t run to him. The severity of her reaction surprised her; slowly she straightened up, standing still as she watched him approach.
“Welcome home, Captain.” He smiled, dimples in full force; all she could do was stand mutely and smile at him. “Kathryn?” He came forward and touched her arm. “Are you all right?”
“God, Yes.” She looked up at him, her eyes dancing with laughter.
“What?” He couldn’t help but return her smile.
“I’m just very glad to see you.” She held his eyes for a moment, then lifted her bag and nodded toward the door. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He followed her out of the shuttle bay. “I know the mission was a success --- may I also assume it was a good mission for you?”
“Successful, yes—but, the good part happened just now.” They entered the lift together. “Deck three.” She snuck a look at her bewildered first officer and once again laughed.
“Kathryn, I think you are scaring me now.” He smiled at her; she reached up and touched his cheek.
As the lift opened, she dropped her hand and walked past him. “Join me for tea, Commander?” She tossed over her shoulder as she entered her code. When he didn’t answer, she stepped inside turning back to face him, head cocked, crooked smile and again the dancing eyes. “Well?”
“How could I resist?”
He entered but she didn’t move back to give him more room. Standing her ground, she forced him to come very close to allow the door to close. Without warning, she slipped her arms around him, hugging him.
“I missed you.” Moving away she glanced at her puzzled friend, then headed for the replicator. “Tea?”
He didn’t answer but she wasn’t waiting for one. He moved to the couch, watching her silently. She placed the tea on the table in front of him, still smiling at his confusion; she sat beside him.
“Chakotay.” She started
“Kathryn.” He spoke at the same moment. “Sorry, you first.”
“Chakotay, I’m happy to be home; it was a good mission—textbook in fact- but….” She faltered for the first time, taking a deep breath. “It went very well, we were headed back—Ayala and Jenkins were teasing Q’tarm. They were relaxed and happy, comfortable even with me on board.” She looked up to see if he was following her meaning. “I learned a bit about their personal relationships as I watched. They have lives here on Voyager, happy lives, friends, lovers. When we docked, I dismissed them quickly, knowing they were anxious to see their friends—their partners. It was nice, good to see them so happy.” She had been looking down as she spoke, but knew he was still watching her. “I was happy for them, but then I looked up and you were in the doorway.” She raised her head and studied his face for a moment. “I couldn’t deny it anymore. I’m just like them. I’m glad to be home—to be coming home—to – you.” She reached up cupping his face in her hands, gently drawing it towards her until their lips just brushed together. Holding the soft kiss for only a second she rested her forehead on his. “What are you thinking?”
“I think.” He drew back with a solemn look. “I think, this may well be your most successful mission yet.” He smiled, and pulled her into his arms. “I love you.” He buried his face in her hair. “I think, I must have always loved you.”
That was the beginning; life was redefined on Voyager as the crew adjusted to the changes in the command relationship. But the crew, much like the Commander, accepted the changes easily and quickly; the Captain took a little longer. Although the swift change was her idea; Kathryn had a difficult time with some of the adjustments. She was still a very private person and found it hard to accept the permanent smirk on Chakotay’s face, or more accurately, what that look conveyed to the rest of the crew.
“Good morning, Captain, Commander.” The smiling ensign greeted them on their way into the mess hall.
“Morning, Ensign.” They replied in unison, as they made their way to this morning’s breakfast offerings.
“Captain, you look lovely this morning.” Neelix set aside the pot he was stirring and come to serve them.
“Good morning, Neelix.” The captain replied, raising her eyebrow toward Chakotay. “Thank you.”
“Coffee?” He poured without waiting for her answer. “Commander, you look especially --- pleased today.” He lifted the cover off some strangely colored dishes, ignoring the Commanders chuckles and the Captain’s attempt to hide the poke she gave him. “What can I get you?”
“Just some toast with that coffee, thanks.” The captain placed the coffee on a tray and looked around for table, in the crowded mess hall. “I’ll grab that table.” She nudged Chakotay. “You grab my toast.”
“Yes, dear.” He whispered, earning him a mock death glare as she walked away.
“Commander?” From the look on Neelix’s face it was apparent the Captain wasn’t the only on to hear him. “Can I get you something while we wait for the Captain’s toast?”
“Yeah.” He winked and chuckled. “I’ll have some of this.” He pointed to an oatmeal looking substance. “And a cup of tea.”
Taking the loaded tray he worked his way across the room to where Kathryn sat at a small table in the corner.
“Here you go.” He sat across and passed her toast; she shook her head at him. “What?”
“Do you have to be so- so—so damned….”
“Happy?” He finished, laughing at her frustration.
“Obvious!” She blurted out, then glanced around at all the faces now turning toward them and rolled her eyes.
She had to admit he had gotten better; he wasn’t quite so obvious anymore — well most of the time anyway. The crew enjoyed the transition and none of her fears had proved true. Their command relationship was just as strong and professional as ever, their personal one even stronger and it hadn’t interfered with the running of the ship in anyway she had noticed. Well, not until now at any rate. In good times they had all had fun with it, sometimes at her expense, but it was always good natured. In more stressful times, she was happily surprised to find she was able to draw even more strength from their relationship—more strength from him.
She had first realized this about four months ago. The ship had come under attack; they were badly damaged and had had to break orbit leaving an away team on the surface. She had no other option; there were three crewmen on the surface but she had a badly damaged ship with one hundred forty six other crewmen to consider; she reluctantly gave the order. It was the right thing to do, she knew it and the silent obedience of her crew told her they understood, yet it was times like now that she hated being the Captain. It was these times that she doubted her ability to see this crew through, to bring them home as she had promised.
His hand reached across the console and gently pressed against hers, offering quiet support. She looked up and he nodded: he understood and supported her, with one small gesture he gave her strength.
B’Elanna had teams working around the clock, the senior staff took hardly any rest and still it took three days to return for the away team and when they did there were only two crewmen to be rescued. She was in sick bay when they beamed aboard. Ensign Miller and Lieutenant Simmons, were cold and dehydrated with some minor injuries, Lieutenant Q’Tarm was not as lucky. She had suffered massive internal injuries when the cave they were hiding in collapsed on them; without Voyager around to offer medical assistance she never stood a chance.
The Captain waited until the doctor was finished treating their wounds, then she spoke to the two surviving crewmen. It was a difficult conversation, they had literally watched their friend die because medical assistance was out of reach. Although they would never even have suggested it, the Captain felt the burden of their grief added to the already crippling weight on her shoulders. As they were speaking, she noticed Ayala and Duffy enter sickbay, going directly to the covered biobed on the other side of the room. She watched for a few minutes, turning away to give him some privacy once Ayala left, but then she had to do something, say something.
Crossing the room she put her hand on his shoulder. She wasn’t sure now what was said; she had tried to comfort him when no comfort was possible. He had spoken quietly, making every effort not to lash out, not to try to ease his grief by adding to hers, but it was there. She could see it on his face, she knew, whether he wanted to or not, he blamed her for his loss. She blamed herself, after all she was the Captain it was her duty to keep these people safe—she couldn’t guarantee it, she knew that rationally, but still she felt personally responsible.
With no words to ease each other’s pain, they lapsed into an awkward silence. Standing alone together, they stared at the forever stilled form of Mar’tessa Q’tarm. It could have been a few minutes or maybe an hour, she wasn’t sure. Some one, perhaps it was Ayala, came and led Duffy away. Her heart broke as her mind replayed visions of the laughing young woman she had spent a week with not so long ago. A young woman who had helped to make positive changes in her own life, a bright energetic young crewman lost to them forever.
She hadn’t known she was crying until he wiped the tears from her cheek. He touched her hand and she glanced down at her fingers cold and white from the tight grip they held on the edge of the biobed.
“Kathryn, come home.”
He gently eased her away. Leading her silently to their quarters, he held her through the night as her grief poured out. He never tried to stop her, or tell her she shouldn’t be so upset; he did what no one else on the ship could do—he let her be human. He let her feel her pain, cry out and work through it and he shared it with her, easing her burdens.
But that was different, they both understood the burdens of command, the responsibility, the joy and the grief; this they had never discussed, never even considered it. Honestly, she had thought about it, but it wasn’t practical and she wasn’t so sure Chakotay would be agreeable. She paced the upper level of her ready room. This felt very odd, this uncertainty. She was always so sure of him; they were sure of each other. She could predict his reactions to almost everything and he certainly knew her—probably better than she knew herself. And yet on something so important she had no idea what he would think—or maybe she just didn’t want to see it. God this waiting was making her crazy. She wished he would hurry and get here. Then the door chimed and she felt a knot form in her stomach.
“Come.” She turned to face the door.
“Captain, you wanted to see me?” The Commander stood just far enough inside the readyroom for the door to close behind him.
“Tuvok, said…” He was confused.
“Yes, Well, actually…” She smiled and reached her hand out toward him, seeing him relax a bit when she did. “I wanted to see you, Chakotay.”
“That’s even better.” He smiled and joined her on the upper level.
“I hope you think so when I’m finished.” She took his hand and sat on the couch facing him.
“Kathryn, is something wrong?” He was concerned about the seriousness of her expression.
“Well, Chakotay..” She took a deep breath; one hand instinctively reaching to rub her temple.
“No, I just..” She ran her hand through her hair. “I’m not sure how to say this.” She looked up, hopelessly.
“Kathryn, what is it?” He was getting frightened. “Just tell me, god Kathryn, you know you can tell me anything.”
“I know, I‘m just not… well, it’s just that.” She looked at him and shook her head. “We never … I don’t know…” She was getting worked up over this.
“Kathryn, take a breath, calm yourself down.” He had never seen her unable to express herself before and it scared him to wonder what could cause this. He took her hand. “Now, just tell me what’s wrong.”
“Chakotay, I -- I went to see the doctor earlier..” She dropped her head and ran her fingers through her hair again.
“Kath, are you sick? What’s wrong?” He raised her chin so he could see her face; there were tears in her eyes. “Kath, I’m sure he can handle it – what ever it is.” She didn’t answer and he felt the panic rise. “Kathryn, he can treat it – can’t he? What ever it is?”
“I’m sorry, Chakotay..” She got up and crossed to the view port, trying to control her emotions.
“Sorry? Kath…..” He was up in a second, turning her back to face him.
“Oh no, Chakotay…” She saw the color drain from his face. “No, no, Chakotay nothing like that. I’m not sick.”
“You’re not? Then what?” He took hold of her shoulders. “Kathryn, please just tell me.”
“OK..” She nodded and took another breath. “Chakotay, I- I—We.. that is….”
“What?!” He was straining to keep control.
“I’m pregnant.” She watched his face; fear turned to relief, to shock, to amazement. He dropped his hands and walked away keeping his back to her. “Chakotay?” She was worried, as she slowly approached him she placed her hand on his back and he started to shake. “Chakotay, I know we didn’t plan this, we…” He shook harder and she couldn’t hold back her tears any longer.
“Kathryn.. “ Was all he managed to say through his laughter, as he turned and took her in his arms. “Shhhh, don’t.”
“I’m sorry, I..” She was sobbing into his chest.”
“Kath?” He stepped back lifting her chin, showing her a wide dimpled grin. “Come and sit.” He moved them back to the couch and sat beside her. “I know we never talked about this, I never dreamed…” He reached her a tissue. “Here, wipe your face and we’ll talk now.” He waited for her to dry her tears. “OK, tell me why you are so upset.”
“We didn’t plan this—I don’t understand. Our boosters are up to date…”
“It’s OK. We can figure that out later, just tell me how you feel about it.” She didn’t answer him. “Kathryn?”
“I’m the captain, I …”
“No, Kathryn—I’m asking how you feel.” He cupped her face with his hands. “Kathryn, do you want this baby?” He watched his words register and the shock settle on her face; she never took her eyes off his, just slowly nodded. He laughed out loud and drew her into a tight embrace. “Then nothing else matters.”
“What if we can’t do this? What if something goes wrong?”
“Of course we can do this, we’ve done tougher things and Doc. will be here to help and if something goes wrong—well it won’t but if it does, then we’ll deal with that too.”
“Are you sure?” She studied his smiling face. “Do you want this baby?”
“Absolutely.” He laughed again. “I know it wasn’t planned and we never even discussed it but- yes. He hugged her again.
She leaned back so that she could study his face again. Then she laughed too.
“You’re gonna do it again—aren’t you?”
“What?” He flashed the dimples and chuckled.
“Walk around with that obvious smirk on your face.”
“Oh you mean be happy?” He chuckled. “Yep, guess I am.”
“Here we go again.” She rolled her eyes and laid her head on his chest. He was right; why hadn’t she seen it before? Like most things out here, they hadn’t planed this but they would deal with it together and be happier for it. She smiled; she was very fortunate. She had her ship and crew she was lucky enough to have Chakotay by her side and now they would have their baby, she had a good life—yes she was a very lucky woman.
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