Disclaimer: All the characters, well most of them belong to paramount. This story is very much mine.
Note: I have taken liberties in twisting the event of Basics but then every story I write tampers with canon in some way.
Seven, this is all very interesting, but I’m afraid I don’t understand.” The Captain rested the padd on her desk. “I thought Icheb was interested in studying spatial harmonics.”
“Yes, Captain, and I believe he will return to that course of study.” Seven, stood tall with her hands behind her back, her posture correct, her expression neutral, but her voice held just a trace of disgust.
“So, why this sudden change to genetics?” Kathryn watched Seven take an uncustomary calming breath. “And why are you asking my approval, you are in charge of his studies?”
“Icheb’s parents have suggested that he might have an aptitude for genetics as well." Her disapproval was evident in her voice.
“I see and you don’t approve of this?”
“The Brunali do appear to have a certain aptitude in that area.”
“I didn’t ask that.” Kathryn smiled at Seven’s obvious jealously of Icheb’s parents. “I asked if you disapprove of Icheb’s studying genetics?”
“Icheb is an individual, he is free to chose his own course of study.”
“Seven, you are avoiding my question. Do you disapprove of Icheb’s studying genetics or just the fact that his parents suggested it?” Kathryn came around the desk and placed her hand on Seven's shoulder. “It’s alright, Seven. I completely understand the resentment you feel toward Icheb’s parents. They put him at risk, were willing to sacrifice his life – a life you hold very dear…” Kathryn smiled. “But he is here now and he’s safe. This decision is yours to make. I trust you will decide wisely.”
“The decision has already been made. Icheb wishes to pursue this line of study and I believe he should be permitted to do so.”
“Good, a wise decision.” Kathryn walked to the replicator. “Can I get you something?”
“No, thank you, Captain.”
“So, Icheb will change his studies, was there something else you needed to discuss with me?” Kathryn took a seat behind her desk.
“Icheb is intrigued with this study. He has begun to study the microgenetic alterations his parents performed on his DNA. He wishes to pursue a course of study involving different species, beginning with common, inherited traits.”
“He has discussed with the doctor the possibility of accessing the medical data available on crewmembers and most especially those whose family’s medical records may also be accessible in Starfleet medical records.”
“I don’t know that we can allow him access to medical records. That information is private.”
“The doctor believes that most of the information could be accessible as raw data.”
“I will need to discuss this with the doctor first.”
“He is anticipating your visit.”
“Alright, then.” Kathryn shook her head, of course he was waiting, patience was something Icheb would never learn from Seven. “I will discuss this with the Doctor and get back to you.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
“Yes, Seven is there something else?”
“Icheb is most anxious to begin his study….”
“Well, then, I suppose I should pay the doctor a visit.” Kathryn stood smiling at Seven’s quiet insistence. “Do you suppose I’ll be as determined to provide opportunities for my son when he is older?”
“You are a more than adequate mother, I’m sure you will provide him with everything he needs.”
“Yes, well, if I follow your example I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Kathryn wasn’t sure ‘more than adequate’ was what she wanted to hear but coming from Seven she took it as a compliment. “Shall we visit sickbay?”
Kathryn handed the bridge to Chakotay with a nod as Seven silently followed her to sickbay.
“Ahh, Captain, I have been expecting you.”
“Good, then if you have time now, we can discuss your plans regarding Icheb’s new course of study. I hear ..” She glanced back at Seven. “he is most anxious to begin.”
“Yes, Captain and a worthy course it is.” He gestured toward the office. “If we can have a seat I’ll explain my idea.”
The Captain took a seat in the office, the Doctor settled behind his desk and Seven stood silently watching.
“Captain, we are a tightly contained society here on Voyager but a highly diversified one. I believe the crew would make a fine test group for young Icheb’s studies.”
“I understand that, Doctor and our options are limited outside that group. What I’m concerned about here is invading the privacy of our people.”
“I believe that if we assign generic codes – code names if you will—to each case that the identity of the individual can remain hidden while their genetic history can be available for study.”
“Wouldn’t the very diversity of our crew give away the identity of certain persons?”
“A large portion of the crew is human, most of them would clearly remain anonymous even presented in family groups, but, yes, some of our best subjects would be easily identified by their very uniqueness.” He shifted, nodding toward the woman standing by the door. “Take Seven for example. Since downloading the data banks from the Raven we have a complete family history on Seven but following that to it natural conclusion would very quickly reveal Sevens identity. The very uniqueness of her remaining Borg physiology would both make the study worth while and expose her identity.”
“So you will be excluding Seven from the study?”
“On the contrary, Seven has already consented to being part of Icheb’s study.”
“I see and do you plan on asking the consent of others as well?”
“Only those I feel would be an important part of the study and would have a significant chance of exposure.” The Doctor shifted impatiently. “Captain, I assure there are no deep dark secrets in our medical data base. Icheb is doing research here, learning the basics so that he may better apply his own inherent aptitude for genetics.”
“Well, once you have the data prepared and the course laid out, than I’ll take another look.” The Captain stood to signal the end of the meeting. “Let me know when you are ready.”
“I will, thank you.” The doctor hesitated. “Captain, there is one more thing.”
“Yes?” She looked from one to the other, Seven obviously knew the doctors next question.
“Well, both you and the Commander have extensive medical backgrounds in our data banks. Your own family is documented for generations.”
“I suppose we are. There has been a long succession of Janeways in ‘Fleet.”
“Yes, well, I would like your permission to use that history-coded of course but the current generation may …”
“Oh, Kieran.” Kathryn smiled. “I sometimes forget Icheb hasn’t been with us that long.”
“He would likely discover it quickly.”
“It’s not a secret, Doctor.”
“No, but that might reveal your identity.”
“I don’t think that will be a problem. Just let me check with Chakotay, I’ll let you know.”
“Thank you Captain.”
Kathryn left sick bay intending to return to the bridge. It had been a long time since she considered Kieran’s biological makeup. Wandering as she thought about it, she found herself on the wrong side of deck five. She checked her chronometer, only another hour left to her shift; she deserved a break.
“Janeway to the Bridge.” Kathryn slapped her comm badge with a smile.
“Commander, I‘ve have a little matter to handle on deck five.” Kathryn knew no further explanation was necessary “You have the bridge for the remainder of the shift.”
“Aye, Captain.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “I will help you with that matter as soon as I’m finished here.”
“I’ll look forward to it, Commander. Janeway out.”
The Captain continued her stroll around the deck five stopping just outside the big double doors. When she stepped forward the quiet hiss of the doors drew the attention of several people inside, but not the one she had been looking for.
“Captain, you’re early.”
“Yes, Lieutenant, I hope that isn’t a problem.”
“Not a problem exactly, it’s just that Kieran is still sleeping.”
“Sleeping? At this hour?” Kathryn laughed. “Well, no wonder he’s full of hell when he gets home!”
“I’m sorry, Captain. He doesn’t usually sleep this late but we were late getting lunch and …”
“It’s OK, Lieutenant.”
“I can wake him if you’d like.”
“No, hibernating bears react better to being woken up; he's like his father in that regard." Kathryn smiled as the Lieutenant tried to surpress a giggle. "Just hail me when he wakes up.”
Kathryn suddenly had time on her hands. Chakotay would be on the bridge for at least another hour, Kieran was sleeping and she was on her own. A nice hot bath crossed her mind but she knew she just get comfortable and Lieutenant Jones would page her. Coffee would be nice but she would probably have to go to the mess hall for that and solitude sounded better she ordered the lift to deck 7.
Several crewmen scrambled politely out of her way as she wandered through he rows of plants. They were in their sixth year in the Delta Quadrant and still the mere sight of the Captain sent certain crewmen scurrying.
Kieran had no such apprehension. Kathryn remember fondly the first time those chubby little fingers had discovered the shiny gold pips at her neckline. His first few tries weren’t very successful but it didn’t take him long to bust her down to crewmen. Kieran had long since taken charge of both their lives; luckily he had no way of knowing how difficult the transition had been.
Very early in their journey Kathryn had been aware of Chakotay’s prior relationship with crewman Seska, although she never pressed him for details. It was clearly in his past and just as clearly not over from Seska’s point of view. There had even been several incidences when Seska felt the need to make Kathryn aware of her position. Although Kathryn was sorry to see the woman go unpunished she was secretly relieved when Seska escaped. It not only freed Voyager of a dangerous traitor, but it made for one less barrier between the Captain and her first officer.
They were tens months into their journey, and their friendship was clearly established by the time they encountered Seska again, but it was a painful set back in their budding relationship. Kathryn completely understood Chakotay’s sense of responsibility where Seska was concerned but she couldn’t condone his methods. His behavior had made her job more difficult; she was hurt and she was angry and for the first time she realized that the line between person and profession had already blurred.
Kathryn accepted his apology but silently vowed to create a more professional distance between them. A vow that lasted only as long as it took them to return to the bridge at Tuvok’s call. Kathryn still got chills when she recalled Seska’s message and the total look of devastation on Chakotay’s face.
“Jones to Janeway.”
“Janeway here, Lieutenant.”
“Captain, Kieran is awake now, if you would like to pick him up.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant, I’m on my way.”
Kathryn picked up Kieran who excitedly clamored on about his day, all the way home. He practically recited the stories that the Lieutenant had read them and complained that Naomi had destroyed his sand painting. They had gone to the park on the holodeck and he wanted to swim in the pond, but Jonesy wouldn’t let him.
“Can we swim, Mama? Will you take me?” Kieran tugged at her pant leg.
“Maybe on my next day off.” Kathryn keyed in the code and smiled as he ran in ahead of her. “Maybe Daddy can come with us and we can have picnic too.”
“What can Daddy do now?” Chakotay came in right behind her, catching her around the waist and pulling her back against him.
“Kieran wants to swim, I told him on our next day off we could have a picnic and go swimming.”
“Good and maybe Mama will wear that tiny black bathing suit.” Chakotay whispered into her ear.
“Behave yourself and go occupy the boy while I make dinner.” Kathryn pushed out of is grasp.
“Oh spirits, Kieran, head for the escape pods Mama is making dinner!” Chakotay laughed as he followed the now shrieking boy into the other room.
Kathryn could hear them playing in Kieran’s bedroom as she worked around the table. Their relationship had not always been this good; she remembered their very rocky start.
They stood on the hillside watching Voyager land; it was the most beautiful sight Kathryn ever remembered seeing. Kathryn went straight to the bridge where Tom briefed her on the events leading up to his regaining control of the ship.
“Welcome back, Captain.”
“Well done, Lieutenant.” Kathryn smiled as she shook Tom’s hand.
“I had a lot of help, the Talaxian’s, the Doctor, Mr. Suder.”
“Suder?” Harry called as he checked over the opps station. “We thought he was killed in the initial attack.”
“No, he and the Doctor sabotaged the ship. Suder disabled the phasers before they killed him.”
Kathryn nodded and patted his shoulder as she surveyed the damage to the ship.
“How badly are we damaged Tom? Can we lift off?”
“Yes, Captain I think we can if we have to, but it might be better to do the initial repairs on the surface.”
“Alright Tom, right now you know more about this ship than I do. We’ll remain on the ground until we get a clear idea of the damages.” Kathryn looked around her. “Tom you take charge up here, I’ll get to engineering and confer with B’Elanna.”
“Captain.” Tom waited until she looked up at him. “You might want to stop by sickbay on your way. That’s where they took the bodies.”
“Suder and ..” Tom took a breath. “Seska.”
“Yes, Captain and the baby is there too.”
“The baby, was he…”
“No, Captain, he’s fine.”
“I’ll stop by sickbay before checking engineering.” The Captain turned toward the lift then turned back. “Thank you, Tom.”
As Kathryn waited for the lift to take her to deck five she thought about Chakotay. Had he gone to engineering as he planned or had he too made a stop in sickbay? As she entered sickbay she found her answer. In the center of the room, Tuvok was offering a Vulcan pray for the spirit of Mr. Suder and Chakotay was standing silently beside a bio bed on the far wall.
“Welcome home, Captain.”
“It good to be home Doctor and I hear you played a large part in our return. Thank you.” Although she carried on a conversation with the Doctor, the Captain’s eyes never left the man standing on the other side of the room.
“Just doing my duty.” He followed her gaze. “Captain, when he is finished there we need to talk.”
“What’s the problem, Doctor?”
“The problem is….” The doctor shrugged at the wailing sound of the disgruntled baby. “… making his presence known.”
“Is he alright?” The Captain moved closer and peered into the crib.
“Yes, he’s healthy enough.”
“He’s a big boy.” Kathryn lifted the baby in an effort to soothe him. “But..?” She looked at the doctor but he didn’t respond. “You sounded like you were going to qualify that answer.”
“Well, his mother is lying on that bio bed. I imagine being an orphan isn’t the best way to start out in this life.”
“Is he an orphan, Doctor?” Kathryn rocked the baby as she studied the reluctant face of the doctor.
“No.” He watched her closely; she had a right to know but he didn’t have the right to tell her. “His father is still alive.”
“Then this is Chakotay’s son?” Kathryn approached the silent doctor. “He has just become a member of my crew, his presence here could greatly affect my –the command structure of this ship. I do have a right to any information that could adversely affect the welfare of this crew.”
“Yes, Captain, you do.” It was an excuse, but one he readily accepted. “I did a DNA comparison. He is the Commander’s son.”
They hadn’t realized Chakotay was there until he brushed past the doctor and exited sickbay. Kathryn quickly handed off the baby and started after him.
“Captain.” The doctor called after her, shaking his head.
“Doctor, we’ll be back.”
“Captain, I’m a doctor not a wet nurse!”
“You can handle it, doctor. Be creative.”
“Chakotay.” Kathryn caught him as he entered the lift. He said nothing just moved aside to make room for her. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, Captain.” He stared straight ahead. “Deck 11”
“We have work to do, Captain.”
“Yes, Chakotay we do.” Kathryn touched his arm and felt him stiffen. “Together we have many responsibilities, including that baby in sickbay.”
“Seska’s child is not your responsibility.” Chakotay stepped away. “I will make arrangements for his care.”
The lift opened on deck 11 and Chakotay left a bewildered Kathryn standing alone. He was right, they had a ship to repair and the baby was safe in the doctor’s care; she would give him some time to adjust to this turn of events.
As it all too often did, the minutes turned to hours and the day to night it was long past midnight when the Captain returned to her quarters. She entered quietly, smiling to herself at the glow of light from the bedroom as she tiptoed in that direction. Their stay on this planet had been short but she found herself looking forward to once again sleeping in her own bed, safely wrapped in his strong arms.
Kathryn peeked into the twilight of the bedroom; it was empty. She glanced around the living area and checked the bathroom.
“Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.”
“COMMANDER CHAKOTAY IS LOCATED ON DECK THREE SECTION ALPHA 3112, FIRST OFFICERS QUARTERS.”
Kathryn sat on the edge of the bed; she hadn’t expected this. Their relationship had evolved slowly over the course of their two year journey, finally being consummated during their time on New Earth. After their return to Voyager, they maintained separate living quarters but spent most of their nights together in her bed. Kathryn thought of going to him now but maybe he just needed some time. Tomorrow would be soon enough to face the changes this latest twist would bring. Kathryn took a quick sonic shower and fell into bed exhausted.
In the morning there was more work to do. Chakotay’s mood had improved only slightly, he was still quiet and distant. The Doctor had paged her several times already seeking a solution to their new childcare problem, preferably one that did not include him. Kathryn hadn’t had a chance to speak to Chakotay alone, and she had promised the doctor an answer before the day was out, so she suggested they have lunch. She practically had to make it an order before he agreed.
Lunch was yet another disaster. Chakotay showed up, silently played with his food while she made idle conversation about repairs and then the whole thing disintegrated into a screaming match before he walked out.
“We risked our lives to save that child. We put Voyager and her crew in danger and now you want to turn your back on him?”
‘NO, Kathryn WE did not do that – YOU did. I remember the conversation clearly.” Chakotay slammed his fist into the table as they both recalled that day in the ready room.
“This is not my responsibility. She has no right to expect me….” Chakotay began to pace the room.
“She knows you, Chakotay.” Kathryn came forward. “She knew how you’d react when you saw your son in danger.”
“I have a duty to this crew. I can’t just leave and go looking for the child.”
“And I’d never consider letting you go into a Kazon Nistrim stronghold by yourself.” Kathryn took hold of his shoulders to stop his pacing. “If we do this we do it together. That’s something else Seska would know, too.”
“Do you think it’s a trap?”
“Do I think Seska is capable of manipulating you and me with this? – Oh yes.”
“And it was time for her to deliver, that baby we saw did look part Cardassian and part human.
“And knowing Culluh, his pride was wounded when he realized the child wasn’t his. It makes sense Chakotay. It might all be true.”
“Still the safest thing would be to ignore this message and resume our course!” His pacing and his anger returned.
“I’m not going to resume our course just yet. I want you to think about it Chakotay. It has to be your decision.”
“It was your decision, Chakotay.”
No, Kathryn, you never gave me a choice. You waited, Voyager hung dead in space and we all waited until I felt the entire crew staring at me wondering why I wasn’t chasing after this child.
“The entire crew didn’t even know.”
“The bridge crew then and who ever they whispered to. You pressured me into going after this child but you can’t force me to raise it.”
“Chakotay, he’s your son!
“Biology does not make a parent, Kathryn – I will provide for his care because he carries my genes but that fact alone can not make me love him.”
“Chakotay, I know you are upset but the child has done nothing wrong, he’s …”
“If you are so taken with him, Captain—You raise him!”
Chakotay stormed out of her quarters.
“Hey, are you gonna daydream all night or are you going to feed us?” Chakotay romped into the living area Kieran bouncing on his shoulders.
“Oh.” Kathryn jumped. “Ready in a minute, you two go wash up.”
“Icky.” Kieran made a face.
“Yeah, buddy, but she’s the Captain.” Chakotay whirled them around toward the bathroom.
Kathryn laughed as she heard them mutter something about ‘girls’ as the door slid closed behind them. She retrieved the casserole from the replicator thinking how much better she had gotten at this in spite of herself. She remembered when she first brought Kieran home, she couldn’t imagine then how she would ever manage.
Kathryn couldn’t envision telling the crew Chakotay didn’t want this child—she didn’t even believe it herself. She decided to keep that fact as quiet as possible.
When the doctor had pressured her for a name, Kathryn had him enter Kieran in the log, just one name like his father. It was a slightly Anglican spelling of an old Irish name meaning ‘little dark one’. With his tan complexion, thick black hair and dark eyes it suited him well. After that, and she suspected prompting from Tom who was all too aware of rift between his commanding officers, the doctor had been very helpful. He assisted in setting up a daycare program for Naomi and Kieran, one he assured her was expandable to cover ‘future additions’. Kathryn took the baby home.
It was a difficult adjustment for someone who had always been an overachiever. Kathryn suddenly found herself face to face with a task she had no idea how to tackle. She had never been very domestic and motherhood was always some far off fairy tale of perfect love. However, her reality suddenly included dirty diapers and the unforgiving screech of a hungry child in the wee hours of the night. Even her normal insomnia didn’t allow her enough hours in the day to get it all done; she still had a ship to run.
Over dinner, Kathryn explained the Doctor’s plan for Icheb’s new course of study.
“Sounds interesting.” Chakotay detected something more and smiled knowingly. “Sooo, what’s the catch?”
“Well, some of the best subjects, those with the most genetic history available, would also be easily identifiable by that history.”
“I take it you are not in favor of leaving those people out?” He waited for Kathryn to nod her agreement. “And would I be correct in assuming you are one of those people?”
“Yes, well we are. If Icheb is to study all of us then…”
“Yes, I had totally forgotten that Icheb wouldn’t actually know that I’m not Kieran’s mother.”
“It’s been a long time since anyone considered it otherwise. Will it bother you to have it brought up again?”
“No, Everyone on this ship except Icheb and possibly Naomi knows I’m not Kieran’s biological mother. I just wanted to be sure it was alright with you, before I gave the doctor permission to include us.”
“I have no objection. I came to terms with this a long time ago.”
“Mama, story Mama!” The excited little boy tugged on Kathryn’s hand.
“OK, but you need to get ready for bed first.” She laughed when he glanced at his father for help. “Never mind, Daddy is going to clean up from dinner and you are going to take a bath!”
“Girls.” Chakotay rolled his eyes at his son.
“Capin!” The boy replied and ran off to the bathroom.
Chakotay finished cleaning up and stood quietly in the doorway watching Kathryn read a old fashion story book to the sleepy child. He smiled at how well they fit together now, not like that first night he had forced himself to check on them.
Kathryn had taken the child to live with her; it had all but ended their personal relationship. Chakotay never asked her about the child and she didn’t volunteer, their professional relationship went on as if the boy never existed. Chakotay would occasionally see them in the mess hall or strolling in hydroponics; he usually managed to avoid them.
Kathryn was thinner and paler, she had circles under her eyes but Chakotay forced himself to ignore it. The baby had lived with her almost a month and Chakotay knew all too well how many times she got up with him each night. The bulkhead between their quarters was not thick enough to mute the cries of one hungry, Cardassian baby.
It was 0300 hours when the baby woke that night, Chakotay could hear Kathryn try to quiet him as she replicated him a bottle. This usually took a few minutes and then everyone on deck three could go back to sleep, but tonight it started again almost immediately.
Chakotay checked the chronometer 0325. Something wasn’t right. He heard Kathryn get the bottle and the baby quiet down, it was only a few minutes ago, but the baby still fussed. The fussing grew louder until the baby’s cries became sharp and desperate. Chakotay tried to ignore him, but it continued for what seemed like forever.
“Chakotay to Janeway” Chakotay paged thinking something was wrong, he got no answer. “Damn it, Kathryn!”
Chakotay struggled out of bed and pulled on his trousers. He paged again, rang her chime but still no answer. Finally he entered his override.
“Kathryn what the hell is wrong with that child?” He demanded as he made his way into her bedroom. “Kathryn?”
Chakotay stopped in the doorway. The obviously distressed infant lay on the bed next to Kathryn, his bottle just inches from his seeking mouth. Kathryn was either dead or sound asleep; he hoped it was the latter.
“Kathryn?” Chakotay touched her and she groaned. “Alright.” He picked up the wailing infant and the bottle. “OK, here you go.” The baby sucked eagerly at the bottle. “Easy, boy- Kieran? Is that what she named you?” Chakotay spoke to the infant who had interest only in filling his stomach. “It’s a nice name, suits you.”
Chakotay moved over to the chair. He took a good look at Kathryn while he fed the baby. She had to be completely exhausted to sleep through this, how had he ignored that for so long? She did this for him and he punished her for it. The baby stirred and he looked down. He wasn’t a bad looking child, dark and creamy skin, the ridges on his forehead stood out only slightly and those under his eyes were hardly noticeable at all. There really wasn’t much of his mother’s race evident in him, except maybe that loud temper. His hair was thick and black like Chakotay’s and when he opened his eyes they were big and dark and so familiar.
The child was quiet now and Chakotay changed him and rocked him to sleep. He couldn’t resist the urge to lean in and kiss his bumpy forehead when he covered him. Chakotay pulled the blankets over Kathryn and kissed her cheek before returning to his own quarters.
Unable to sleep, caught between love and hate in an endless inner turmoil Chakotay sought help through a vision quest.
He found himself in a quiet forest, a man –his own father, in the distance squatting on the ground. Chakotay made his way toward him. Chakotay lowered himself to the ground smiling when his father looked his way. Kolopak nodded and continued to build his fire.
“I have a son, father.” Chakotay broke the silence and his father looked up at him.
“A son, Chakotay? Oh, this is the reason for your despair? Was he born with two arms and two legs and a heart that beats?”
“Then it is a cause for celebration.” Kolopak laughed “You will make a fine father. You needn’t worry.”
“I’m not sure I’m willing to be a father to him.”
“Umm, not willing?”
“He was born without my consent. I had no part in it.”
“No part in it?” Kolopak shook his head “Well, it’s been a long time, so forgive me but it seemed that I had to play a part before your mother could conceive.”
“My DNA was taken from me. Used by a woman to impregnate herself without my permission.”
“I see and you are trying to decide if you should accept the child in your heart.”
“It’s more than that.”
“But it must begin with that!”
“How do you take a child into your heart who is forced upon you by a mother’s deception?
“He knows nothing of deception- he is innocent.”
“That’s what Kathryn said.”
“A wise woman your Kathryn—she has not deceived you.” Kolopak spoke it as a statement as if he already knew Kathryn had not done this thing.
“No, not Kathryn, she has taken the child in, given it love, a home.”
“And yet you deny both of them?” Kolopak studied his son’s face. “Centuries ago, when the women of our tribe were raped by white conquers many gave birth to their children. And we did not reject them, they were accepted by the tribe. One was a direct ancestor of ours, Chakotay. His name was Sayahtu. He became a great leader of our people. Here is a man who was given life without his mother’s consent, are you so different from her? And is your child so different from Sayahtu?”
“He is your son, Chakotay and he is a child of our people.”
With Chakotay’s consent Kathryn gave the doctor permission to include their family in Icheb’s studies. All the files he showed her had letter coding only the doctor understood. He held the last one in front of her smirking. This one you might be interested in.
“CKCCAK?” The series of letters meant no more to her than any of the others. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
“This is your family file. Can’t you tell?”
“No, I’m sorry I haven’t felt I necessary to break you code.” She saw the disappointment on the doctor’s face. “OK, so enlighten me.”
“Well, it quite simple in this case actually.” His mood brightened. “It stands for Captain Kathryn, Commander Chakotay and Admiral Kieran.”
“Admiral?” Kathryn laughed “Why is that?”
“From what I see the boy is clearly in charge, has been since the first time you lifted him from that crib.”
“I guess you’re right, Doctor.” The Captain patted his shoulder as she stood. “And right now its time to take the admiral swimming, so if you’ll excuse me?”
“Certainly, thank you, Captain.”
“Wish Icheb well and tell him I’ll be checking his progress from time to time.”
“I will do that, Captain.” The doctor turned her toward the door. “Now hurry along or you’ll be late.”
Icheb reported his progress on a monthly basis. The Captain often looked over his findings while he explained endless genetic relationships and countless possible future genetic manipulations that would in someway enhance each race on a molecular level. While scrolling through some of his recent studies she came upon a familiar code “CKCCAK”.
“This is an interesting one, Captain.” Icheb looked over her shoulder. “I have not projected anything for this group yet, but I have found some interesting inconsistencies in the genetic history.”
“Interesting, how?” Kathryn could see he had yet to discover this was her own family.
“Well, according to all the data available, tracing this subject backwards we find that the genetic line only carries on one side.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look here.” He pointed to the strands of DNA and lists of molecular codes. “The bio clearly states that this subject is a direct descendent of these two but the DNA of this one is not at all consistent.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes, Captain, It’s very basic.” Icheb scrolled through more results. “A very simple DNA comparison clearly shows that this subject is a direct descendent of only one of this pair.”
“Oh, I see.” The captain looked blankly at the screen. “I don’t suppose there could be a mistake?”
“No, Captain. It’s a very simple test but just to be perfectly sure I did perform several more sophisticated analyses.” Icheb keyed in some additional information.
“Thank you, Icheb, but I think I need to return to the bridge now.” Kathryn stood. “Keep up the good work.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
Icheb returned to his studies even before the doors closed behind the Captain. The Captain was far more distracted as she wandered the corridors ending up in sickbay.
“Captain, a nice surprise, its not often you visit me, voluntarily. What can I do for you?”
“Doctor.” Kathryn looked around to be sure they were alone. “Can you access Icheb’s studies from your terminal?”
“Yes, I often track his progress that way.”
“Will you do it for me?” Kathryn moved toward his office and he followed.
“Do what, Captain? Is something wrong?”
“I’m not sure.” Kathryn moved to his console. “Would you bring up “CKCCAK” please.”
“That’s your file, Captain. Certainly there is nothing in there you don’t already know.”
“Yes, Certainly.” The doctor punched in a code and the file lit up the screen.
“Here.” The Captain scrolled to the point in question. “Icheb was very vague in his description but I do have a scientific background and as he so carefully pointed out –it is rather basic. Doctor?”
“Yes, Captain. I see it.”
“Well does it say what I think it says?”
“I’m not sure you …”
“Doctor, as I read this report, it clearly states that this subject, who would be Gretchen Janeway, is my mother and this one, who would be Edward Janeway, is not biologically related to me at all.” Kathryn sat down and stared at the silent doctor.
“Captain, I sure there..”
“Doctor, is that what the report says?”
“Thank you.” The Captain left without another word.
The next few days found the Captain looking a little tired, there was a little less bounce in her step but that wasn’t really unusual for an overworked Starship Captain with a rambunctious four year old. When it didn’t improve over the next few weeks Chakotay became concerned. Kathryn insisted there was nothing wrong and yet she grew more distracted every day. Finally, Chakotay turned to the Doctor for assistance.
“Commander, I’m not sure what you are concerned about.” The doctor shook his head in disgust. “or why you think the Captain would have come to me with her problem. You say the Captain is tired, cranky, she isn’t sleeping or eating properly?”
“Yes, something is wrong but she won’t talk to me about it, Doctor.” Chakotay shook his head. “I don’t know. I wake up and she’s gone—off walking the ship in the middle of the night.”
“Ahhh, another unusual symptom.”
“Doctor!” Chakotay was in no mood for the Doctor’s usual sarcasm.
“Commander, we both know the Captain has never taken particularly good care of herself. She consumes too much caffeine, she never eats properly and her sleep habits leave much to be desired. She has run this ship 24/7 for six years, never takes my advice and is the primary care giver to a very active four year old. On top of that, she has to deal with every stray alien in the quadrant, most of whom are hell bent and blowing us out of the sky. She is overworked, under nourished and completely exhausted so forgive me if I don’t find it unusual that you aren’t getting any.”
“Doctor, on any other day I might appreciate your snide wit, but not today. I’m tired and I’m hungry, my son is spending far too many hours in the care of others and my wife is crawling through the bowels of the ship until all hours of the night. Doctor, I’m really concerned about Kathryn, if you have no insight just say so.”
“I’m sorry, Commander, but even holograms have bad days and I’m afraid you caught me at the very end of one. I’m afraid I can’t help you.”
“If you think of anything that might help, please let me know.”
The Doctor watched the Commander leave sick bay before returning to his office and slumping behind his desk. This had not been a very good day, but he had more work to do. The Doctor flipped on the screen and keyed in his entry code, maybe Icheb had made progress worth noting. Slowly, it dawned on him, maybe this was the answer.
“Doctor to Commander Chakotay.”
“Chakotay here Doctor, did you think of something?”
“Yes, Commander I think I might have. Can you return to sickbay?”
“On my way.”
When Chakotay finished with the doctor, he stopped by the daycare only to be pleasantly surprise that Kathryn had beaten him to it. Hurrying to their quarters he was hoping for a happier greeting but when the door slid back it was dimly lit and quiet in side.
“Kathryn?” Chakotay saw her standing at the view port.
“Hi.” She turned to face him, she smiled but it lacked any kind of spark. “Hungry? Dinner is still in the warmer.”
“Sure, where’s Kieran?”
“He ate at daycare. He’s in his room waiting for you to say goodnight.”
“OK, I’ll be right back.”
Chakotay spent a few minutes talking with his sleepy son then returned to find Kathryn dishing out their dinner. At least she had a plate, it was a start. They ate quietly for a few minutes while Chakotay tried to figure out how to bring up the subject.
“Sorry, it’s a bit dry, you were later than I expected.” Kathryn broke the silence.
“Its fine. I was… “ Chakotay put down his fort and took her hand. “I stopped to see the doctor.”
“Is something wrong? Are you sick?” Kathryn suddenly responded with more life than he had seen in days and it made him laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“I’m sorry, but I haven’t seen you that quick to respond in a personal conversation in weeks.”
“I guess I’m the one who should apologize. I’ve been a bit down.”
“More than a bit down, Kathryn and I’m worried about you. Please don’t be angry that I spoke to the doctor.” In reality Chakotay would welcome anger at this point at least it would be a sign of life.
“I told you, I’m fine and I have to guess he told you the same.”
“Yes, but he told me something else too, something you didn’t tell me.”
“Oh.” Kathryn put down her fork and turned away. “He told you I have- we have been living a lie.”
“We have not been living a lie. This doesn’t change anything.”
“Chakotay, I hear what you are saying and I appreciate your meaning. Logically, I even know you are right but ….” Kathryn walked away from the table toward the viewport, wrapping her arms around her fight to hold back her tears.
“Kathryn...” He stepped up and pulled her back against his chest. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I couldn’t Chakotay. How could I tell you it’s all a lie? I’m not who you think I am – hell, I’m not even who I thought I was.” Kathryn turned shaking her head as the tears broke free once more. “I don’t even know who I am any more.”
“Kathryn, you are the same person you always were. Nothing has changed; you haven’t changed.”
“But everything I though I was has changed.” Kathryn stepped back and dried her tears with the back of her hand. “I don’t expect you to understand this ..” she took his hand and led him to the couch. “but bear with me. I know it isn’t logical and I know that physically nothing has changed but there is this –this—space-this hole- in me and it feels very, very real. I’m Kathryn Janeway, I tell that to every alien we meet--- only I’m not really a Janeway am I? All those years I was daddy’s little goldenbird but- he wasn’t. And I was a Starfleet legacy, a shoe in at the academy and I worked so hard to make him proud of me and to prove that I was more than just Admiral Janeway’s daughter but I needed have bothered. So much of what I have done in my life revolves around being a Janeway and suddenly--- I’m not.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Be here, let me work this out on my own, but…” Kathryn bit her lip as she struggled with a fresh set of tears. “don’t go away.”
Chakotay held her close and the thoughts and fears she had held too herself for weeks just tumbled out. Kathryn talked for hours about this man who wasn’t her father. Chakotay could see that it helped her to talk about him, even as it hurt her to think it hadn’t been real. It was as real as it had ever been, of course and Chakotay understood that; he only hoped Kathryn would again some day. She told him about the times she had excelled and how proud he was of her, about how good it felt when he smiled at her. She tried to explain her joy at pleasing him and how deeply it pained her when she disappointed him. The important things he told her and the fact that he was always beside—even if he was on the other side of the sector she knew that he supported her. He didn’t expect her to live life perfectly but he demanded she live it fully. Kathryn talked until she fell asleep and Chakotay carried her into their bed.
Only a short time later, Chakotay woke alone, again. The muffled sounds in the other room at least assured him she was safe. He waited for her to return to bed but she didn’t. Finally he went in search of her.
“Kathryn, are you alright?” Not since the void had he seen Kathryn like this and it worried him.
“I’m…..” She turned and looked at him, her eyes at once fearful and empty. “I don’t know. That’s it isn’t it?” She turned back to the view port.
“Kathryn, talk to me, please.”
“There’s nothing more I can say. I don’t know!” Kathryn shook her head running her fingers through her hair. “I don’t know who I am any more.”
“We’ve been through this, Kathryn. You’re the same person you always were.” Chakotay could see when she turned to him that she wanted to believe him. “You haven’t changed just because you read some report.”
“I feel like I’ve been living a lie. Like I have no right to be the person I led you all to believe I was--- the person I thought I was.”
“Can I help?” Chakotay reached out and pulled her into a tight embrace.
“Bear with me, Chakotay. Give me the space to work this through and ...” Kathryn tightened her arms around him. ..hold me.”
“I love you, Kathryn and whether you believe it or not, I know exactly who you are.”
As the weeks passed, Kathryn seemed to work through her sorrow. Outwardly she smiled more and appeared relaxed but Chakotay knew she was still deeply troubled. His heart ached every time he saw the doubt, every time that sadness invaded her eyes. Her whole identity has been tainted, if only in her own mind and all he could do was stand by and hope she could recover. Slowly she did.
Voyager was in orbit around a lovely M class and much of the crew had enjoyed shore leave. Kathryn and Samantha Wildman had taken the kids to the surface to go swimming; Kieran's favorite pasttime. Chakotay packed a picnic and joined them just in time for lunch.
“Hi.’” Kathryn waved from where she was stretched out on the blanket.
“Kathryn you should put some clothes on before you burn.” Chakotay leered as his eyes roved over the exposed creamy white skin.
“Please you know the doctor had me inoculated and dipped in sunscreen before he even let me off the ship.”
“I’m telling you woman it isn’t safe to be out here with that much skin exposed.”
“Well, I could always go help the kids pick flowers.” Samantha gestured to the two children romping in the field. “ I’m sure there must be some flowers far far away—out of sight.”
“Don’t let this lecherous old man chase you away from lunch.” Kathryn tossed a towel at Chakotay and scrambled to her feet. “Unpack that basket you brought and I’ll get the kids.”
Chakotay’s reply was lost in the loud rumble of the quacking ground. For a moment they were stunned and then another shock hit, and two high pitched squeals sent them scrambling toward the children.
Kathryn reached Namoi first and literally tossed her back into Chakotay’s arm as she struggled forward on the trembling ground. As Kathryn reached for Kieran the ground shook violently and he vanished just outside her grasp.
“Kieran!” Kathryn screamed as she tumbled forward. She clung to the tall grass to hold her position as the entire planet seemed to heave around her.
Just as suddenly as it started, it was over. Kathryn struggled to her knees as Chakotay came up beside her.
“Kieran, my god where is he?” Kathryn allowed Chakotay to drag her to her feet.
His cries were muffled but she could hear him. They moved forward slowly, carefully picking their way through the patches of tall weeds that remained. Suddenly Chakotay grabbed her arm and jerked her back. Directly, in front of them was a break in the surface. It wasn’t a large crack and they had no way of knowing how deep it was but they could hear the now hysterical child’s voice inside. He sounded as if he wasn’t very far down but he was out of reach.
“Ohmygod.” Kathryn grabbed Chakotay’s arm.
“Chakotay to Voyager.”
“Voyager here Commander what the hell happened down there?” Tom’s voice responded.
“You would know that better than me. Tom, get a lock on Kieran’s bio signature and beam him to sickbay.”
“Lieutenant, I can’t get a lock on him.”
They could hear the panic in the frantic voice of the ensign, who would be standing just behind Tom, through the open link.
“Keep trying.” Tom ordered “Harry, what the hell is blocking us?”
Kathryn was on her knees, peering into the darkness as she tried to calm the crying child. Chakotay explained their problem to Tom as calmly as possible.
“That’s it, Tom.” Harry’s voice was heard. “There’s something in that plate the transporter can’t penetrate.”
“That Plate could shift again at any time.” Seven’s voice indicated that Tom had gone to alert status.
“Chakotay he’s wet, he says the water is higher.” Kathryn called then turned back to the child. “I’m right here honey we’ll have you out in a minute.”
“Chakotay, we can’t transport him.” Tom relayed the condensed version of the nearly frantic conversations behind him. “I’m sending down a team we may have to dig him out.”
“Quickly, lieutenant, I can not be certain how soon the planet with shift again.” Seven advised calmly.
Chakotay turned at the sound of Kathryn’s gasp. Samantha had passed her a wrist light and Kathryn got her first real glimpse of the situation. Kieran was wedged down a very slender crack, much too far for anyone’s arm to reach and the water was rising quickly around him.
“Mama’s right here honey I’ll get you out in a minute.” Kathryn turned back to Chakotay. “The water is up to his waist we are running out of time.”
“Maybe I can reach him.” Chakotay moved Kathryn aside and stretched out as far as he could. ‘Grab my hand. Kieran can you grab my hand?”
The child just cried harder, he wanted his mama, he wanted out, he was cold and he was scared.
Chakotay looked back helplessly. The away team was running across the field but the water was rising fast; they were running out of time. Kathryn crawled over to the edge and the ground shook again. Kieran screamed.
The away team tried to gently widen the opening but the walls began to crumble in and bury the child; the water had reached his chest.
“Chakotay.” Kathryn looked back at him then down at the frantic child. “I’m going down there.”
“Kathryn, you won’t fit.”
“I’m the smallest one here; I have to fit.” Kathryn took a deep breath as she formulated a plan. “I will have to go headfirst. If I can grasp him under his arms maybe you can pull us both out.”
“Kathryn, if you get stuck down there head first, if the water, if the plate…” Kieran cried out again and Chakotay knew he had to risk them both if Kieran was to have a chance. He nodded. “Put the harness on, we’ll need it to get a good grip on you.”
“It’s too bulky. I’ll never fit.” Kathryn moved back toward the crack. “Kieran, you have to listen to me. Stop crying, I’m coming down there but you have to stop crying and help me. Can you help me, Kieran?”
The boy quieted a little as Kathryn moved closed continuing to give him instructions.
“Someone shine that light down there I need to see him. OK, Kieran, I’m coming.”
Kathryn squirmed deeper forcing her upper body into the tiny opening. Her voice was more muffled now but they could hear her continue to instruct the child. She needed help. Kathryn ordered them to push her, force her deeper into the hole. Chakotay could hear the splash of the water as Kathryn struggle to get a solid grip on the child, he held his breath.
Finally, Kathryn yelled for them to pull her up and eight hands took a death grip on the captain’s lower body and began slowly working her out. Twice she called for them to stop while she and Kieran adjusted their grips and once the surface shook so violently they thought they would lose them, but finally they pulled the cold, muddy, duo to the relative safety of the surface.
Chakotay wrapped them in blankets and Tom immediately had them transported to sickbay. Kieran was cold and frightened but suffered no more than a few scratches. Kathryn cursed that bathing suit that left so much of her delicate skin exposed to the jagged walls but they were only superficial wounds that the doctor easily repaired. Less than an hour in sickbay and everyone returned home.
Kieran was exhausted from his ordeal and Kathryn read him a story tucked him safely into his bed for a much needed nap. Only the smell of fresh coffee finally lured her away from his side.
“Can you forgive me?” Kathryn took a seat beside Chakotay on the couch and accepted the hot coffee he offered.
“Kathryn this wasn’t your fault it was and earthquake.”
“I know.” Kathryn laughed. “I mean can you forgive me for being so selfish and putting you through hell these last months.”
“Kathryn, you can’t help how you feel and I know that report hurt you very deeply.”
“It did, Chakotay. It shook me right to the core. It was like everything I knew or thought I knew about myself suddenly vanished; I was scared. It took a while but I finally understand.”
“If it makes you feel better than I’m glad.” Chakotay tucked her hair behind her ear. “Want to tell me?”
“I know now how it really was. The man who raised me, that man who taught me and encouraged me, even pushed me to be all I could be. The man who fought with me, took care of me and loved me, who put my welfare above all others –that man is my father. You told me yourself four years ago. Biology doesn’t make a parent. When I saw our son in danger today it was suddenly so clear. He didn’t lie to me all these years. It doesn’t matter what the report said or whose genes I carry. Edward Janeway is my father.”
Kathryn smiled through her tears and move willingly into the arms of her husband.
"Welcome home, Kathryn."
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