The sound of the chime sliced through the silence of the Captain’s quarters. Startled, she checked the chronometer - almost 2400 hours.
“Computer, identify crewmember outside these quarters.” She put her coffee on the table and struggled off the couch straightening her bathrobe.
“CREWMAN TAL IS OUTSIDE THE CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS.”
“What the…?” She ran her fingers through her disheveled hair; the chime sounded again. “Come in, Celes.”
“Captain, I’m sorry…” Surprised at seeing the Captain so rumpled, she stopped just inside the door, then turned to go.
“Celes.” Kathryn grabbed her shoulder and turned her back toward the room; she had obviously been crying. “Come in.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be bothering you…” Celes tried to back away.
“You’re here now and it’s no bother.” Kathryn prodded her toward the couch. “Everyone knows I hardly ever sleep.”
“Oh, Captain!” Tals eyes grew large at the sight of two cups on the low table. “I’m so sorry..” She glanced toward the other room.
“We’re alone, Celes.” The Captain eased her down on the couch. “He went home hours ago. Don’t worry; you aren’t disturbing me.”
“Are you sure, Captain?”
“Of course I’m sure.” Kathryn laughed “Would I look like this if I had company?”
“You look fine, Captain. A little tired maybe…” She stood again. “I should…”
“Sit.” The Captain gave an order and crewman Tal immediately obeyed. “Now, I’m going to have some coffee. What can I get you?”
“Tea, please—milk and sugar.”
Kathryn cleared away the old cups and returned with hot beverages for both of them. She settled herself in the chair across from Celes and waited; nothing happened.
“OK, you are obviously unhappy and since you are here, I assume you wanted or needed to tell me about it.” She sipped her coffee and watched Celes over the rim. “So, what has you so unhappy? Is it Harry?”
“NO! Harry is great—well, yea sorta, but not really Harry. I guess you would say it's me or maybe us or not.” Celes threw her hands in the air in frustration.
“One thing at a time.” Kathryn held up her hand to silence Tal. “First, what I know. You and Harry have been – dating? Yes?”
“And from what I see he is very taken with you and you care for him also. Correct?”
“Yes.” Celes nodded her head as if to signal the Captain to continue.
“Did you have an argument or something?”
“No, nothing like that. Harry is a great guy.”
“Yes, I’d agree with that, but that doesn’t make him perfect or make you happy with him.”
“Oh, but I am, happy – that is I’m happy with him, but ..” Again she threw her hand in the air, hopelessly.
“Is he unhappy with you for some reason?”
“No, that is - not yet, oh god, but he will be…” She started to cry. “I’m such a screw up.”
“Celes, calm down. I don’t know if I can help, but I am certain I can’t- if you don’t tell me what the problem is.”
“ME, I’m the problem.” She dropped her head to her hands and sobbed.
“Celes.” Kathryn moved to the edge of her chair and leaned in closer. “How are you the problem?”
“I just am. I - I’m ohmygodcaptain. I’m pregnant.” Looking up she blurted it out, then dropped her face into her hands and cried.
Stunned, Kathryn sat watching the younger woman sob, trying to comprehend what she had just learned. Then she moved over to the couch, cradling Celes as she cried herself out.
“Thanks.” Celes raised her head and accepted the tissues Kathryn offered.
“Does Harry know?” She assumed by this reaction he did not.
“NO! OHMYGOD! I can’t tell him.”
“Celes, you have to tell him…”
“NO, Captain! You don’t understand.” She started to cry again. “I can’t – NEVER, Ohmygod I-- he can’t ever know..”
“All right, calm down.” Kathryn moved to the replicator, refreshed their drinks and returned to sit beside Tal on the couch. “Have you decided not to have the baby?” She was met with a look of surprised terror. “Celes, have you even thought about this?”
“Of course I have—god I can’t think of anything else, haven’t thought of anything else in months.”
“OK, so tell me what you are thinking.” When she received no answer, she continued. “The doctor—you have seen the doctor haven’t you?” Celes nodded. “Good, so he has explained your options here? This is the 24th century and you have the right to make these decisions for yourself.”
“I know, I understand. I just never considered --- well that!” Celes looked panicked again. “I don’t have to, do I, Captain? I mean Sam had Naomi and it was OK, right? I know she’s married and I‘m not but it is the 24th century after all—right? ”
“Celes, the decision is yours. No one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to, OK?” Tal nodded. “Good, here have some tea and try to calm down.”
They sipped their drinks silently for awhile.
“Celes, you said you haven’t thought of anything else in months. How far along are you?” She glanced at the remarkably slim woman beside her.
“Three months, well almost—doc says eleven weeks.”
“And you’ve known about this…?”
“Oh, I’ve known, I guess. I just didn’t want to believe it. I guess I’ve been in denial.” She made a face and gave a lopsided smile. “I had doc confirm it only a week ago. I’ve been trying to figure it out since then.”
“And am I correct that you have decided that you want to have this baby?”
“Yes.” She laughed and repeated it. “Yes, I do. Ya know that’s the first time I really admitted it, even to myself.”
“Well, good. That’s a start. “ She watched the younger woman’s smile reach all the way to her eyes. “It seems to make you happy to say that.”
“Yes, I think it does.”
“Now, I don’t mean to make you unhappy, but what about Harry?”
“What about him?” She snapped. “I’m sorry. It’s, just, well, I don’t want him to know.”
“Celes, it’s a small ship, he bound to find out. Besides he has a right to know.”
“No, he… oh boy.” She sat back and studied the Captain. “You are gonna think I’m some kind of … well..”
“Celes, I’m not here to judge you in anyway.” She watched Tal study her as if making a decision.
“OK, here it is. It’s not Harry’s—the baby—it’s not Harry’s”
“Not Harr…? Well than who?! Wait, you don’t have to tell me that.” She placed an arm around the suddenly trembling woman. “I’m sorry you don’t have to explain.”
“It’s OK. I want to.” She wiped her eyes. “I guess that’s why I’m here. I need to tell someone—I mean doc knows but he’s, well he’s just doc—ya know?”
“Yes, he means well.”
“We had shore leave about that time. You remember the Zakerins.”
“Yes, of course, nice friendly people.”
“Yea, that’s how I saw it too.” Celes laughed. “Maybe too friendly. “Anyway, Harry and I weren’t officially dating; we were friendly but not really dating then. I had no idea then that things would move so quickly with Harry and I was alone, lonely I guess, I had a few drinks—I wasn’t drunk or anything. OH, NO! I knew what I was doing. His name was Banatare. He was nice and fun to be with. We danced, we laughed, it was good. He made me feel special, beautiful even. He accepted me just the way I am, no questions, no judgments, no expectations. I was free, he was there, I was never gonna see him again and hell my boosters were up to date—Oh, Captain, I swear to you, they were. You can ask the doctor.”
“I believe you, Celes”
"So why not? Ya know, no one was ever gonna know but me and the doctor had already cleared them. And..." She looked into the Captain's face. "God you must think I'm awful!"
"I think no such thing. Celes, we're far away from home. We have been out here alone for a very long time." She touched Cele's chin, turning her face to see her eyes. "We have all experienced that desperate loneliness of deep space, especially on this journey, I would venture to say, there isn't a single person in Starfleet, who ever went on a deep space mission who hasn't entertained those very same thoughts."
"But they don't all act on them."
"Maybe not, but I would guess at some point most of us have."
"Don't look so shocked." She couldn't help laughing at the wide-eyed stare she received. "I'm not so different from the rest of you, except that being Captain makes me even more isolated. When we were first stranded here, it was especially difficult. Not one person on this ship ever even spoke my name. For two long years the only time I heard my name in a familiar voice, it was my own. So I do understand how alone you felt."
"Oh, Captain, I'm sorry.... Here I am dumping my problems on you..."
"Celes..." She touched Tal’s arm. "It's all right, I want to help you, if I can. Don't worry about me; I'm fine. I've adjusted to our life out here and now that I have..." Kathryn stopped and studied Tal's face, there was concern and understanding there and a desperate need to share. "Now, that I have allowed Chakotay to share my life, as well as my burden, it's all much easier."
"I'm glad." Celes knew she had just been made privilege to possibly the most speculated about and best-kept secret on the ship.
"It's not an easy thing to do for any of us. With Benatare, now that was easy. He didn't expect anything from you or you from him. There were no strings or promises and therefore no risks. In a real relationship, there are risks. At first we're all insecure. Will he still love me if he knows this or that? How will he react to -- whatever deep secrets we have that we think others will disapprove of us for. When we care about someone, we're frightened that they will reject us."
"Chakotay would never reject you. He loves you; everyone knows that." She spoke without really thinking, then held her breath while she waited for reaction.
"I'm glad you were all so sure." Kathryn smiled. "Chakotay is my best friend and has been for many years but there were still things I was unsure of letting him know, things that might hurt him or make him angry. I had to take those chances and trust that he would still be there, if I wanted to change our relationship."
"My relationship with Harry is different."
"For one thing it's new; we don't have years of sharing to fall back on."
"Really? How long have you known Harry?"
"Since we came aboard, but we weren't friends all that time."
"No, but you knew each other and you worked together and slowly you became friends, right?"
"And you do have the advantage of not starting out enemies."
"Wow, I never thought of it that way." Celes laughed in spite of her self. "You two did have a bit to over come."
"Yes, but the point is that not so long
ago you and Harry decided to change your long standing relationship, to
work toward something more-- not so very different than us."
"No, not when you put it like that. So you think I should tell him?"
"I think that if you are sincere in wanting a deeper relationship with Harry, you have to commit to that relationship and trust that Harry will also. Whether you are destined to be lovers or just friends, Harry will find out about the baby-- this is a very small ship-- I think he deserves to hear it from you. Don't you?"
“Yes, I know you’re right, I just..” She looked around the room as if the answers could be found on the bulkheads. “I just don’t know how.”
“You’ll find a way. Remember, this is Harry, trust him.” Kathryn patted her hand and moved off the couch. “I’ll be right back.”
When Kathryn returned from the bathroom, Celes was curled up on the couch sound asleep. Checking the chronometer, she discovered they had been talking for over four hours; the computer would sound her wake up call in less than an hour. Kathryn took the blanket off the foot of her bed and covered the exhausted crewman. Not seeing much sense in trying to sleep at this late time, she told the computer to reset her wake up and headed for the shower.
Showered and dressed the captain fired off a note to Tal’s bunkmate assuring her of Celes safety, informed Seven that crewman Tal was relieved of duty for the day and left a padd next to the couch telling Celes she was off today and to rest and take care of herself. She exited her quarters right into the arms of her first officer.
“OH!” Looking up she smiled at the man she had just run into. “Shhhh.” She placed a finger to her lips and jerked her head in the direction of his quarters.
“OK.” He shrugged and allowed her to lead the way. “OK, what is this?” he followed her inside and straight to his replicator.
“Oh, just help your self to my rations, Kathryn.”
“Thank you.” She sipped the coffee and sighed. “The first I‘ve had in hours.” She smiled up at him then stood on her toes and kissed him. “Good morning.”
“Good morning to you; nice to know I come second to coffee.”
“Second?” She ducked past him and seated herself on the couch.
“Nice Kathryn, you really know how to make me feel good.” He joined her on the couch. “So why are you sneaking out of your own quarters?”
“Obviously, so that I don’t wake my visitor.” She gave him an exasperated look rolling her eyes.
“Oh, and just who have you been sleeping with?”
“No one; in fact I haven’t slept at all, god I’m exhausted.”
“Not a good answer.” He crossed his arms in front of his chest and tried to keep a straight face. “Who do I have to space?”
“I hardly think crewman Tal is a big threat to you.”
“Celes? You spent the night with Celes?” He shook his head. “So does this mean trouble in paradise? I thought she and Harry made a great couple.”
“Yeah, me too, and yes there is trouble all right.” She replicated herself another coffee and brought him back a tea. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell you but since you will probably be involved on Harry’s end and I already told Celes a few things about us….”
“OH? What are you telling crewmen about us?”
“Not much, but I did admit to starting
a new relationship with you.” She made herself comfortable on his
couch. “Sit, let me explain.”
Kathryn gave Chakotay all the pertinent details while she drank two more cups of his precious rations.
“So?” Kathryn leaned back and waited for his reaction.
“Wow, this isn’t going to be pretty.”
“Think he will take this badly, huh?” She expected he would also but hoped she was wrong.
“Kathryn, be serious. How else can he react?” He recycled their cups. “Come on, we better get to the bridge before we have to put each other on report.”
They exited his quarters in no particular hurry; neither was anxious to see Harry this morning. Chakotay entered the lift behind Kathryn and was about to order it to deck one when the voice stopped him.
“Hold the lift.” Harry shouted as he rushed in behind them. “Thanks.”
“Sure.” Chakotay moved closer to Kathryn.
“Morning, Harry.” Kathryn managed.
“Morning Captain, Commander.” Harry thought the Captain looked odd and strangely the Commander didn’t look at him at all. He shrugged it off; maybe he was interrupting something.
The morning passed slowly. The bridge was quieter than usual or maybe it just seemed that way. They were in a very quiet area of space and there was little to do or see that they hadn’t done yesterday. Finally, it was lunchtime and Harry almost ran to the lift. He hadn’t been able to reach Tal since last night and he was anxious to get to their lunch date.
Celes didn’t show up for lunch so Harry hailed her. When she didn’t answer, he asked the computer to locate her. Harry rushed off to her quarters, hoping to speak to her before he needed to be back on the bridge.
“Harry?” After the third ring, a sleepy Renlay answered the door.
“I don’t know.”
“The computer says she’s here. What the hell is going on?” He stepped past Ren, checking for himself.
“Look, she’s not here.” She followed Harry into the sleeping area. “I told you.”
“I don’t get it.” Harry turned to Ren with Celes’ comm badge in his hand. “Why did she leave this here?”
“I don’t know! Damn it! All I know is I got a message from the Captain that she was OK and off duty today.”
“The Captain? When?”
“Early, it was here when I got off shift.” She sat on the bed. “Can I go back to sleep now?”
“Yea, sure.” Harry wandered toward the door. “Sorry.”
Harry entered the lift, but instead of ordering the bridge he took it to engineering where he commandeered a console and B’Elanna’s override and had the computer locate Celes’ bio signature. Together he and B’Elanna read the screen. Crewman Tal is on deck three, section 301 alpha, the Captain’s quarters. They looked at each other in confusion.
“I don’t know B’Elanna, but I’m about to find out.” Harry shook his head. “Computer locate Captain Janeway.”
“CAPTAIN JANEWAY IS ON DECK TWO, THE MESS HALL”
“I have to find out what’s going on and I sure can’t force my way into the Captain’s quarters.”
“But you’re supposed to be on the bridge.”
“Kim to the bridge.”
“Bridge here, Mr. Kim.” Tuvok’s calm voice responded.
“Mr. Tuvok. B’Elanna needs my assistance in engineering for a short time.” He ignored the low growl behind him. “Ensign Lang can cover ops until I finish.”
“Understood, Mr. Kim. Bridge out.”
“Nice, drag me into this.”
“What are friends for?” Harry smiled and patted her shoulder. “Wish me luck, Maquis.”
“If you're after the Captain, you’ll need it, Starfleet.” B’Elanna shook her head as Harry headed out to confront the Captain.
The Captain and Commander had finished lunch and were just leaving the mess hall when Harry approached them.
“Captain.” Harry noted that, although she tried to hide it behind the captain's mask, her discomfort was evident, again.
“Mr. Kim. What can I do for you?”
“Captain, can I ask you something?”
“Yes..” She glanced at Chakotay and moved into the hall. “What is it you need?”
“I’m looking for Celes and I found her comm. badge in her quarters. Now the computer says she in your quarters.”
“Yes, that’s where I last saw her.” Kathryn worked to maintain a calm appearance.
“She..” Kathryn looked toward Chakotay again. “Harry, she came to talk to me last night it became quite late and she feel asleep on my couch.”
“About what?!” He was a bit more abrupt than he meant to be, and he saw her stiffen immediately and he knew she would never answer that. “Look, Captain, just tell me if she’s OK.”
“She’s OK, Harry.” Kathryn put her hand on his shoulder. “I can’t discuss this with you, you know that.”
“I know, but ..” He looked so hopeless and worried as he ran his fingers through his hair. “This isn’t normal and I’m worried.”
“Harry, let me go check on her. If she is ready for company I’ll hail you, but either way you will know she is all right.”
The captain left Harry and Chakotay standing rather awkwardly together out side the messhall. Kathryn keyed in her code and the door slid back spilling light into her still dark quarters.
"Lights 1/4." She requested softly, not wanting to disturb Tal.
"Where? Ohmygod.." A startled Celes jumped up from the couch. "Captain, I'm sorry.."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." The captain crossed to the replicator. "Can I get you something?" She looked back to see a bewildered Celes looking like she was trying to decide whether to cry or run. "Celes, sit down. Please relax." She turned back to the replicator. "One Coffee black, one tea milk and sugar."
By the time Kathryn took a seat across from, Celes had put the pieces back together and looked considerably calmer. Tal accepted the tea with an awkward smile.
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm OK. I'm sorry. Did I fall asleep on you?"
"Yes, and it was quite late so I just covered you and let you sleep." Kathryn smiled and pointed to the padd on the table. "I left you a note that you were relieved of duty today. I informed Seven and sent a message so that Renlay wouldn't be worried."
"Thank you, captain. I'm sorry to be so much trouble."
"No trouble. It's very quiet. Seven won't miss you and you needed the rest." Kathryn sipped her coffee. "Celes, Harry is worried about you."
"Ohgod! He doesn't know-- you didn't? Of course not. OHGOD!"
"Calm down. I didn't tell him anything, but he did look for you and you know Harry-- resourceful as ever- he discovered you weren't home and located you here."
"Did he ask? What did you tell him?" With wide eyes, she studied the calm woman across from her.
"I told him you came to talk to me and
it got late. I also told him you were fine and I would check on you."
She set her cup on the table. "That satisfied him for now and I think
you should rest here for the remainder of the day, but you do need to talk
to him, sometime. You need to tell him something."
"I know you are right, just..." She shrugged. "It's so hard."
"You are going to be fine." The Captain recycled her cup. "I need to get to the bridge and to let Harry know that you are OK."
"I should go.." Tal jumped up again.
"No, stay here. No one will bother you here." Kathryn put her hands on the young woman's shoulders. "Relax, rest, take a bath."
"Ahh, the privileges of rank." Kathryn laughed. "Yes, I have a wonderful big bathtub in there; enjoy it while you can."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, now can I tell Harry you will see him tonight?" Tal nodded slowly, her eyes big with fright. "Good. You can meet him here; I have other things to do."
"Oh, Captain. I couldn't. I've already put you out enough."
"I told you I have other things to do. You need to meet him privately. You have a roommate and his quarters would just add to the pressure."
"Thank you, Captain." Tal watched the Captain punch instructions into the computer.
"Here." Kathryn handed Celes a padd. "This is a temporary access code. You can get a change of clothes and your comm badge..” She raised an eyebrow and Celes cringed. “And use this to get back in. I’ll tell Harry to meet you here at 1800 hours, OK?”
“Yes, thanks again, Captain.”
“I need to get back now. I’ll stop back after my shift to change and then I’ll be out of your way.”
The captain left quickly before Tal had
a chance to question the plan or change her mind; she only hope it all
Harry paced the corridor outside the captain’s quarters. It wasn’t quite 1800 and he had promised the captain he would stick to the plan and give Celes the afternoon to herself. He knew she was in there. Not taking any chances this time he had the computer confirm it. At exactly 1800 hours, he rang the chime and the door slid back to allow him in.
Harry entered slowly, it was very strange to be here and even stranger to be here without the Captain. The lights were dimmer than those in the corridor were and he had to wait a minute for his eyes to adjust. Celes was sitting on the couch, silently watching him.
“Hi.” She stood up. “Can I get you anything?”
“Answers.” He moved closer and noticed she had been crying. “What’s going on?” He reached out to touch her but she stepped back and motioned for him to have a seat. “Celes?”
“Harry, please sit down.” She sat on the couch and he took the chair across from her as she indicated. “Harry, I have to tell you something and it won't be easy. I only hope you don’t hate me when I finish.”
“What could be that bad?” He forced a laugh.
“Harry---- I—I’m—“ She took a deep breath then closed her eyes. She had to get it out, get it over with; it was the only way. “Harry, I’m pregnant.”
He didn’t say anything. When she opened her eyes he was staring at her, slack jawed.
“Wow.” He ran his hand through his hair. “OK, er—give me a minute. It’s a shock, but …” He shook his head and half smiled.
“No. Harry, you don’t understand.” The tears filled her eyes, slowly over flowing to drip down her cheeks. “I’m almost three months pregnant.” She watched the smile slip from his face.
“How? You told me you weren’t seeing anyone before we got together…” He sounded angry but the look on his face was painful.
“I wasn’t—ohgod, Harry—It was a shore leave – he was from Zakerin, his name…”
“I don’t want to know his name—god, Celes—I just can’t….” He began to pace the room.
“Harry, please sit down and talk to me.”
“I can’t.” He paced some more then he smacked the bulkhead and came to stand in front of her. “Celes—I can’t think now. I have to go.” He turned and left.
“Harry—Harry!” Celes yelled at the closing door then ran into the corridor and called him again as the lift closed behind him. “Harry!” Falling back on the floor of the captain’s quarters, she let the door close.
Kathryn and Chakotay had been having dinner when they heard Celes yell Harry’s name. Not wanting to interfere, they waited a few minutes and checked with the computer. Harry was on the holodeck at Sandrine’s and Celes was still in the captain’s quarters.
“Well, that didn’t go well.” Chakotay shook his head helplessly.
“Not from the sounds of it.” Kathryn stood. “I better go check on her.”
“I’ll clean this up and maybe get B’Ella to check on Harry.”
“I’ll talk to you later.” Kathryn kissed his cheek and tried to smile.
Chakotay convinced B’Elanna to check on Harry without giving out too much information. She had known something wasn’t right earlier in the day and needed very little prompting to seek out her friend in need. Kathryn spent several hours talking with Celes, trying to calm her and finally putting her to bed. After making sure she was asleep and instructing the computer to alert her if Tal woke, Kathryn returned to Chakotay’s quarters.
“How is she?”
“Upset, but sleeping now.” Kathryn curled her bare feet up on the couch and leaned against him. “How’s Harry?”
“B’Ella says he’s drinking a lot but not out of control.”
“Did he tell B’Elanna?”
“Not the last time I talked to her. He told her he didn’t think he could see Celes anymore but he didn’t explain.”
“Well, we can’t make that decision for him.” Kathryn leaned over and sipped the wine Chakotay had on the table.
“No, thanks, only needed a sip.” She leaned against him again. “Wish we could help them.”
“I know, but we are doing all we can.” He held her close and kissed her hair thanking the spirits he wasn’t in Harry’s place.
“You can’t know.” She sat up and smiled at him.
“There is no way you can know what you would have done in the same position.” She leaned her forehead against his. “It’s what you were thinking, isn’t it?”
“You know me too well sometimes.” He chuckled. “But you’re wrong. It wouldn’t change how I feel.”
“It may not change what Harry feels either. It might just make him have to stop and figure out exactly what that is.”
“What about her? Will Harry’s decision change what she does?”
“Don’t think so. The sore spot and the bright spot in this are both the baby and I think she surprised herself at how quickly she fell in love with it. When she talks about only the baby her eyes light up.”
“Kathryn?” He grinned at her.
“No, no – forget it. We are too old—we run a starship—we ..” He silenced her with a kiss. “Not fair!”
“Maybe we could just practice.”
“Practice never hurt.” She smiled as her hands worked the fasteners on his shirt.
Slowly she unfastened it, spreading moist kisses on the newly exposed flesh as she eased him out of his shirt. Chakotay rested his head on the couch, closing his eyes and concentrating on the tingling touch of her warm finder tips as they moved across skin. Her lips explored his chest, her tongue teasing him, her teeth nipping at taut nipples. He never noticed her shifting weight until she giggled, grabbed his shirt and ran off into the bathroom.
“Hey!” He called after her as the door locked behind her. “If all you wanted was the shirt you could have asked.” He yelled after her, laughing.
While he eagerly awaited Kathryn’s return the door chimed.
“Damn!” He glanced at the bathroom door and sighed. “Computer, who is out side my quarters?”
“ENSIGN KIM IS IN THE CORRADOR OUTSIDE THESE QUARTERS.”
Chakotay glanced once at the bathroom and groaned.
“Chakotay?” Harry entered a little shaky.
“Come in, Harry.”
“Can I talk to you?” Harry noticed the lower lights and Chakotay’s lack of a shirt but there was only one glass on the table.
“Sure, Harry, come on in and sit down.” Chakotay wondered if he should warn Kathryn. “Want a drink?”
“Think I had enough already.” Harry flopped in the chair. “So, you know?”
“Yes, Harry, I know.”
“What do I do?”
“I can’t answer that. You have to decide how you feel about Celes. Maybe when you figure it out the answer will come.”
“Yea, that’s what B’Elanna said. I thought I knew how I felt, but that was yesterday."
"She's not any different than she was then; neither are you."
"But what I know about her is different."
"OK, is that necessarily bad? Maybe you just have a more realistic picture of her."
"Look, it’s not like I expected her to be a virgin or anything.” Harry shook his head. “It’s just – I don’t know. I guess I didn’t expect her to – well she wasn’t in a relationship or anything and – shit, I don’t know..”
“Haven’t you ever done it, Harry? A lonely shore leave, a stranger you will never see again? I know I have.”
“Yea, sure but I didn’t expect…”
“You didn’t expect a woman to do that?” Kathryn startled them when she spoke.
“Captain?!” Harry gasped when he turned to see her wearing nothing but Chakotay’s shirt. “Oh Damn!” Harry blushed at both the interruption and the captain’s implications.
“Harry, I’m sorry for interrupting, but I just want to say…” She glanced at Chakotay and smiled, then looked back at Harry. “Anyone who has been on a deep space mission – especially one as long as the six years we have spent out here-has considered it. It easy, like Chakotay said—no strings, you are never going to see them again. Yes, Harry, I would venture to say most of the women on this ship have done that. I know I have.” Kathryn tried not to laugh at the shock on Harry’s face. “I’m gonna go check on Celes now.” She bent down and kissed Chakotay good night.” “I’ll see you in the morning, good night.” She placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Take your time, you don’t have to decide now and you don’t even have to decide all at once. Maybe you could still be friends? Think about it.”
Harry watched the captain leave then turned back to see Chakotay shaking his head and laughing.
"Man, I'm sorry. If I had known she was here..."
"Don't worry about it." Chakotay laughed again.
"I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt and.." Harry stopped, examining the man across from him as if he might have just lost his mind. "Just what the hell is so funny?"
"There's the proof, Harry." Chakotay gestured toward the closed door. "All things are possible."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Picture the Captain-- say, the day the Liberty blew up or even as recent as the captain who chased down the Equinox."
"Now realize what just happened here. Kathryn just admitted to having casual sex with virtual strangers and walked out of my quarters, into the corridor -- where anyone on this ship might see her-- wearing only my shirt."
"So? Other than the fact that I just royally screwed up your night-- what does that have to do with me?"
"Do you feel any differently about Kathryn? Do you care less for her or respect her less because you now know she is just as human as we are?"
"Of course not! I'm a little surprised-- not that she's human, just that she told me about it."
"And she did that 'cause she cares about you and about Celes. She doesn't want you to make a hasty decision out of wounded pride and possibly a mistake you will wind up regretting."
"I see what you mean. Maybe things aren't as dark as they look." Harry laughed. "My pride is a little wounded here but hell, she dragged you through the mud!"
"Ahh, but then she showed me how much fun the mud could be." Chakotay's evil grin caused Harry to blush again.
"OK, enough about that!" Harry grew more serious. "I don't know how this is going to work out, but yesterday I would have told you I loved her. I guess that deserves more than a snap decision made over injured pride."
"Sounds like a wise choice. Take it one step at a time."
Kathryn sat back on her blanket and watched them. It had been a very long year since a frightened young crewman had knocked on her door. As she watched the young couple play with their son, in the sand of the holodeck beach, she knew it was well worth the effort they had all put into it. Many times in the early months, Kathryn had witnessed Celes cringe when a shipmate congratulated them; Harry only smiled and nodded. It was a slow, quiet process; Harry never denied the child but he never openly claimed him either. Most of the crew had taken the child's parentage for granted and no effort was ever made to correct them.
Everything changed six months ago after a very long night in sickbay. Harry showed up on the bridge, late for shift, bleary-eyed and out of uniform.
"Captain." Harry stood in front of Kathryn and watched solemnly as she stood up and looked him in the eye.
"Mr. Kim." She pretended to glare but lost to the smile that spread across his face.
"Captain." He suddenly hugged her. "I have a son!" He swung the Captain around in the air.
"Congratulations, Harry." She was laughing when he put her down.
The rest of the bridge crew swarmed over him with their own good wishes, before the captain sent him off to rest and celebrate with his new family.
"Kathryn." Chakotay followed her longing gaze as he eased himself down next to her. "We could always sneak out of here and practice making one of our own."
"Think we'll ever get it right?" She leaned back against him but never took her eyes off the baby.
"I hope so, but practice is fun too." He wondered for a minute if she were serious. "But maybe were too old."
"Speak for yourself. I'm not that old!" She rolled over to face him.
"Yea, but we have a starship to run." He was testing her excuses.
"True, but I can do that and you can change diapers." She tilted her head and gave him a crooked smile.
"OK, so what are we waiting for?"
Kathryn laughed, jumped up and offered him a hand.
"I'll race ya!"
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