He sat staring at the diminutive bundle, still in awe of her tiny perfection. From the jet black curls and crystal blue eyes, to the delicate little fingers and toes, she was a masterpiece. Whenever he looked at her, his breath caught; he was totally captivated and completely helpless to resist her. A power she did not hesitate to use. At three weeks old, she weighed just under seven pounds and had the lung capacity of a Klingon targ. She was every bit her mother when it came to making her preferences known, her every utterance a command that she expected to be instantly obeyed.
He smiled as he watched her now, sleeping peacefully when only minutes ago she had been wildly demanding his undivided attention. She had been a savage beast who refused to be soothed, balling up her tiny fists, straining so that her ivory skin glowed beet red and emitting a screech any predator would be proud to possess. Engineering had increased the soundproofing in their quarters twice in the last week alone and still all of deck three knew when Cat was unhappy. He had changed her, fed her, burped her, walked her, rocked her, and changed her again. She grudgingly accepted all he offered, then demanded more.
As she slept, he thought back to the day he first learned he would finally be a father, it was less than a year ago; that moment when he knew his life would never be the same again. He and Kathryn wanted a child, they had tried for over two years with no luck. Kathryn blamed herself, at forty-five she felt she had waited too long and now she was just too old to conceive a child. The doctor tried to tell her otherwise, he had run all the tests, he had piles of scans and nothing he found indicated a problem with either of them. By all rights they should be able to have a dozen children, yet nothing.
After a very successful trade mission the Katowice held a banquet for the crew. It lasted well into the night and an exhausted command team didn’t crawl into bed until 0300 hours. The computer woke him at 0500 and he told it to reset for 0630 without even opening his eyes. Rolling over and he reached out but found himself alone. He sat up swinging his feet to the floor. As the horrible retching noise registered, so did the flux in his own stomach. Kathryn was barely able to get out of the way before he was beside her emptying the very unsavory contents of his stomach, just as she had done.
“Morning.” She groaned resting her head back against the wall.
“Hell of a way to wake up.” He moved to sit on the floor beside her. “I didn’t even drink much.”
“Me—oh god.” She was back on her knees retching even though her body had nothing more to give up.
“Chakotay to sickbay.” He didn’t have the strength to get off the floor.
“Ahhh Commander, you too?” The Doctor’s jovial reply surprised him.
“I assume you are contacting me because you woke up- unwell, this morning.”
“Well yes, the Captain and I have been…”
“Spare me the details, Commander. I have a full blown epidemic here.” He could hear the Captain’s retching in the background. “It’s food poisoning –of sorts, half the crew has it. Something in the Katowicen food doesn’t sit well with the human members of the crew.”
“Is it serious? What do we do about it?”
“Nothing to worry about, I am sending two hyposprays to your replicator. Use them and go back to bed, in a few hours this will pass. I’ll have more details for you then. Doctor out.”
He retrieved the hyposprays and helped Kathryn back to bed. It was 1100 hours before the sound of the Doctor’s voice woke them.
“Sickbay to Captain Janeway.”
“Janeway here. Doctor what is it?” She opened her eyes and tried to focus.
“Captain I take it you slept well—feeling better?”
“I uhh..” She sat up concentrating on her stomach. “Yes, Yes doctor I feel much better. Do you have answers for me?”
“I believe so Captain, if you could come down here, I will go over them with you.”
“All right Doctor, I’ll be there shortly.”
Twenty minutes later the command team entered sickbay together. A few crewmen were still resting there, but most had returned to duty.
“Captain, Commander, I’ll be right with you.” He checked over his few remaining patients and joined them. “It’s seem Captain, your crew has a propensity for Katowicen ale, unfortunately the feeling is not mutual.”
“How’s that Doctor?” The Captain looked puzzled.
“Its really very simple Captain, after determining the common element, I ran some test on this Katowicen ale. It seems it contains symphora, a substance which produces a violent allergic reaction in humans.”
“I see, did all of the crewmembers you treated drink the ale?”
“Yes, as I assume yourself and the Commander did.” They both looked at Chakotay.
“Yes I had several glasses..” He suddenly looked as puzzled as the Captain. “Kathryn, I drank yours, if I remember correctly.”
“Yes, you did.” She turned to the doctor. “I never even tasted it, the smell made me nauseous and yet my reaction was more severe that Chakotay’s.”
“I was sure it was the symphora. Captain are you sure you didn’t taste it?” He reached for his tricorder.
“Yes doctor, quite sure. I told you the smell made me sick. I couldn’t see why everyone liked it so much.” She watched him take his reading. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to find the flaw in my theory. You didn’t drink the ale, yet you were sick. The hypospray I sent you worked as well on you as on the Commander—I must have missed something.” He smiled and ran another reading. “Ahh—yes, there it is—why didn’t I think of that.”
“What it is?” Kathryn questioned.
“Doc, is something wrong with Kathryn?” Chakotay didn’t understand why the doctor was smiling if he found something wrong with Kathryn.”
“No—nothing, but I did find the reason for her illness.” He snapped shut the tricorder and smiled at them.
“What did you find Doc?” Chakotay stepped closer to his wife, placing one hand on her shoulder.
“Captain, Commander—congratulations, you're going to be parents.”
Sitting here holding his daughter in his arms, he was even happier than he had been that day—decidedly more tired but very, very happy. Kathryn wandered out of the bedroom and he placed a finger to his lips to keep her from waking the baby.
“Finally got her quiet I see.” She whispered as she knelt on the floor in front of him and kissed the baby’s head.
“She’s a tough one, just like her mother.”
“Come on, we should rest while its quiet.”
He followed her into the bedroom, gently placing Catrina in the large crib between her brothers. Arms wound around each other, exhausted but very happy parents watched their triplets sleep peacefully in the starlight.
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