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Katie's Web

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Sunlight played across the cobblestone walk as it snaked its way through the leaves of the trees that danced in the delicate breeze. The day was warm but not unpleasantly humid. Lazy puffs of clouds drifted across the blue sky. Nearly as brilliant blue as her eyes, he thought sadly to himself. They had been happy. At least he’d thought so. He’d tried to be a good husband and a good father. So, what had failed?

“Kathleen Elizabeth, don’t wander too far ahead,” he warned as she skipped towards one of the three fountains that entertained tourists with lighted water shows. If she’d heard him she didn’t acknowledge that she had. She climbed up onto the rock ledge of the fountain and laid down. She reached into the water and swirled her hand around in the coolness of it. He sat down on one of the near by park benches and caught himself looking at the sky. He found it unfulfilling. What he really wanted to see were the stars. He could see her blue eyes in the stars and could sometimes make her face in constellation form. Her heart and soul spoke to him from the moon, the nebulae, and the ocean of space. He could hear her voice in the night wind.

Five years.

They had been blissfully happy for five years.

They had married only months after being home and she had almost immediately gotten pregnant. They agreed that she would take a leave of absence for an undetermined amount of time. He had believed that she was happy with him in their simple life and that raising Katie was enough of a challenge for her. When and how had he missed her longing looks towards the night time sky? How had he failed to realize the meaning behind all of those nights when he would wake to find her in the backyard of their Indiana home, losing herself in the visions of the night? The nighttime sky spoke her name, it called to her, beckoned her to return. “Kathryn, Kathryn, Kathryn…” the stars whispered. “Come home to us Kathryn. We have missed you. We have longed for you to return.”

It all began in the discussion form. She told him that she wanted to return to Starfleet and that she wanted to put her name on the duty roster for the next ship that was commissioned. He had fought her, telling her that Katie needed her at home and that he needed her. He didn’t want to lose her to space. What if something happened? Could she really put Katie through what she herself had gone through as a child? Could she put him through what Gretchen had gone through when she lost Edward or what Mark had gone through when he lost her? The sleepless nights wondering if his love, his wife, was okay, was going to come home in one piece?

She had tried to compromise with him. Picard was looking at promotion to Admiral and she could resign her admiralty to Captain the Enterprise F, the flagship which would allow her family to be with her. He shot down her compromise. He didn’t want to leave solid ground and he did not want Katie being put at risk living on a starship. Eventually the casual scuffles turned into all out war. Their home became a battle zone and literally hell on Earth. They fought constantly and had even ended up sleeping in separate rooms.

Finally, a ship came up. The brand new trans-warp Voyager class starship. She signed on, took a demotion to Captain with pleasure, assumed command, kissed Katie goodbye, and handed him divorce papers. She had requested that he keep physical custody of Katie but that she be permitted contact and visitation at her convenience. He let the case go through uncontested. He wasn’t going to deny her the freedom she desired and he wasn’t going to deny her access to Katie.

“DADDY!” Katie’s scream busted through his musing about the end of his marriage. “Daddy, come quick!”

Chakotay stood from the bench and ran to where Katie was laying on the edge of the fountain, looking into the water. “What’s the matter Katie-Bug?” he asked as he realized she was not hurt or injured in any way. He thanked the Spirits for that little relief. He never would have forgave himself if something happened to her. He sat down next to her on the ledge.

“Daddy, Daddy, oh no!” she cried as she sat back on her knees, her hands flying to her mouth in horror.

“Katie, what is the matter baby?” he asked as he followed her horrified stare.

“Daddy, it’s Charlotte! Save her Daddy, save her! Oh, you have to save her. She will drown!” she was near hysterics.

He smiled lovingly at his little girl as he realized why she was so upset. In the fountain, there was a fat, gray spider nearly waterlogged and swimming for its very life.

“Please, Daddy, get her out! Oh, if she drowns she will never get to save Wilbur! Please Daddy, save her! Save her!” Katie cried out as she leaned towards the fountain to watch the rescue. Ever since he had read the classic children’s story, Charlotte’s Web, to Katie nearly six months ago, every spider, especially fat gray ones, had become Charlotte. They had been on countless spider rescues and Katie had forbidden that any spider be killed. Just because it may not meet the physical description of Charlotte, it may be a different Charlotte with a different animal to save. It was so very cute and amusing, he couldn’t see any reason to discourage her or tell her otherwise. He knew she would eventually grow out of that stage and realize that spiders didn’t write words in their webs to save animals. For now, he continued to indulge her. Dutifully, Chakotay leaned down towards the water, cupped his hands and scooped ‘Charlotte’, water and all, into his hands.

“Whew! Thank you Daddy!” Katie breathed a sigh of relief. “Now, to the trees. We will put her up high so she can fly away to the farm and find Wilbur,” Katie instructed and she led the way. “She can use the thread from her… um… spinning wheel to fly away.”

He laughed. “The word is spinnerets, honey.”

She flashed him her mother’s smile. “Yes, those.”

He lifted the waterlogged spider to the tree and allowed it to climb off of his hands and onto the bark right at nose level for Katie. “Goodbye Charlotte. You must be more careful, you are not able to swim. Now off with you. Go find Wilbur and save his life so Fern won’t cry,” she ordered. She reached forward with a little finger, gave the spider a gentle pet, then waited until it climbed out of sight into the tree.

“What do you say we go try to fly your kite again before your mom gets here?”

Katie gave him a big sorrowful look. “Okay, Daddy.” She paused for a very long moment then said, “Daddy, I love Mommy but do I have to go?”

He stopped dead in his tracks and knelt down. “Why Katie-bug? What would make you not want to go?”

Katie couldn’t hide her distress. She was apparently caught in a dilemma that was making her very uncomfortable. She shifted her feet and pondered the ground as though she were trying to put together the words. “I have more fun with you, Daddy. Mommy is just too busy for me. She is always in her office and never takes me to the park or the aquarium or any of the fun places we go. And she never takes me on adventures or plays with me. She is always telling me to read a book or to wait for her.”

Chakotay let her little words sink in and let them roll around in his head for a bit. No wonder why Katie always seemed a little down when she left and thrilled to return. “What else, Katie?”

“She doesn’t tuck me in and is always shooing me away. She tells me ‘Katie, I am busy. Please go entertain yourself,’ and it makes me sad. Sometimes all I want is a hug.”

What his little six-year-old daughter said disturbed him. It was almost as though taking Katie was an imposition to Kathryn. It sounded like she only took Katie out of obligation when she was on Earth rather than out of love or the desire to spend time with her. Plain and simply enough she wasn’t spending any time with her. “Tell you what, Katie-bug. I will talk to your Mommy when she gets here and ask her if she will spend more time with you,” he promised. “Would that make you feel better?”

“I would be much happier to visit her, Daddy.”

“It’s a deal then. Come on, let go get your kite.” 

******

She carried herself into the park in a business stride, barely acknowledging the onlookers as she passed. Even after seven years she was still regarded as a celebrity and people couldn’t help but stop and stare at her. She could hear their whispering as she passed.

*”Do you know who that is, that’s Captain Janeway.”*

*”No kidding? I thought she would be taller.”*

She didn’t mind anymore. Once upon a time it was disconcerting to know that everywhere she went, people were going to be ogling her with gaping mouths of wonderment. They had wanted to look at her, touch her, smell her, take pictures of her, and some had even wanted to taste her. That had been a disturbing experience and one for another time. She shuttered at the memory.

Kathryn came over the rise and passed the fountain, unaware of the recent Charlotte rescue. She could see them on the great lawn of the park. It almost made her heart stop when she saw Kathleen running across the lawn with a kite string in her hands. Her hair had gotten longer and she had grown a couple of centimeters. She tried to suppress the smile that wanted to break across her face as she watched her little miracle running across the lawn with her daddy close behind, holding the kite high into the air waiting for the wind to take it.

Chakotay.

Her heart still ached at the thought of him. She watched him with their daughter and felt a twinge of pain and regret. What had they done?

Voyager.

Seven years of beautiful friendship that had wrapped into marriage and love.

Where had they gone wrong?

The road they had been following had forked and they had each gone their own ways. He followed the road to become a loving, devoted father and she had turned sharply in the opposite direction, her road leading back to the stars and the life of a Starfleet Captain. No. She couldn’t walk the line of regret again. She could not go back. What had been done was done. They had dissolved into divorce and contempt for one another. They usually spoke civilly for the sake of Kathleen, but that was the extent of their communications with one another. Their friendship, strong and true hadn’t been strong enough to survive the stormy end to their marriage. The former crew had mourned their marriage more than they, themselves had. At the end, they had been so miserable they had been happy to finally be without one another. The crew had taken it hard. They had conspired for seven years to get them together and had celebrated and rejoiced then they had married and she had become pregnant. Happily ever after was how they had envisioned things.

Happily ever after, indeed. Chakotay seemed to keep more of a correspondence with Gretchen and Phoebe than she did. In a way, she was glad for that since it meant Kathleen would be able to enjoy the influences of her Grandmother, her Aunt, and her cousins. Naomi Wildman was the only one whom she would take any gruff from. She had developed into a beautiful young woman who was on the fast track to the Academy for a career in command. She had, on more than one occasion mentioned that Kathryn had been wrong to desert her family and everything that she had accomplished. Kathryn usually found herself brushing the young woman off with a subtle comment that she would one day understand. Starfleet was in her blood and once she became a captain, she would know the passionate hold space had over a person.

What had failed to be communicated to everyone was the fact that she had offered to take captaincy of the Enterprise to accommodate her family. Chakotay wouldn’t hear of it and he absolutely refused to leave solid ground. He made that abundantly clear every time they fought that the only way he was setting foot on a starship would be to move himself and Kathleen to Trebus. He had come out like the wounded, rejected husband and she had just come out as the bitch on everyone’s black list. Kathryn continued to watch them play for a bit. She was about to spoil the fun and she knew it. Chakotay was so easy going with Kathleen whereas she always felt like an intruder and like she had to be the disciplinarian. He never seemed to impose any discipline on her. Kathleen was academically behind by her own standards from when she was a child. At her age she was already reciting times tables while Kathleen only knew addition, subtraction, and a bit of reading and writing.

Kathryn continued on the path that led to the great lawn. She hated to be the party pooper but she was due at a conference that evening and she couldn’t watch them play forever. Life was not about playing and she thought it was time that Kathleen learned of other things besides play and fun and fairytales. After all, Cinderella didn’t always marry Prince Charming and end up with a big castle in the sky.

Chakotay had noticed her watching them from the corner of his eye but he paid her no heed. Once upon a time he would have run to embrace her and cover her with kisses but no longer. He had an iron grip over his heart and would not allow it to quicken at the sight of her. He had died inside the day she had served him divorce papers. Hell, he had died long before that when she had turned him away from her bed, telling him that she wanted to return to space and was therefore not having any more children. It had struck a stake through his heart because she could have easily prevented pregnancy with a booster. He knew what she had been telling him without actually saying it. And, it pained him further to know that she had decided to view Katie as an inconvenience. Their precious love in life form was an inconvenience to her? It sickened him to the core. He hated the thought of her whisking Katie away for a week of unhappiness. He continued to ignore her approach. There, in her black and gray and red uniform, she looked like an unpleasant storm cloud coming to rain on his and Katie’s sunny day.

“Hello Kathleen.” She greeted their daughter who had stopped running with her kite when she noticed her mother approaching. Chakotay’s mood grew a little darker. He only called her Kathleen when he had to get stern with her, which was rare. Mothers swept their children into their arms and snuggled them and covered them with kisses when they haven’t seen their children in months. This woman, his ex wife, was no mother. She greeted Kathleen as though she were an average person on the street and not her daughter.

“Hello, Mother.” Katie returned the formal greeting.

Chakotay cringed internally. It was as though all of the sunshine had just drained right out of Katie and she made a complete metamorphosis into a different child. The playfulness disappeared as was replaced with the demeanor of a nervous academy cadet! “Kathryn, may I talk to you?” he asked with as much civility in his tone as he could muster. He begged the Spirits to give him the strength to be calm with her.

“So talk,” she replied curtly.

Chakotay took a moment and knelt down next to Katie. “Honey, how about you practice flying your kite on your own for a few minutes. Your mommy and I have a couple of things to discuss.”

The Katie he knew was resurrected. “Sure Daddy!” And she dashed off with her kite in hand.

Chakotay stood again and began walking towards a near-by bench, forcing Kathryn to follow him. He wanted to sit and relax. He was hoping it would keep him a bit calmer.

“I don’t have time to sit and make casual conversation, Chakotay,” she told him icily as she stood before him.

“That’s the problem, Kathryn. You never have time for anyone or anything, including our daughter,” he said. He wanted to recoil. That wasn’t exactly how he had wanted to open the conversation. “I didn’t mean to start off like that. It’s just that Katie said something to me today that bothered me. She said when you see her all you do is work. She said you never take her places and do anything with her.”

Kathryn took a deep breath. “Chakotay, when I come to Earth, it’s not exactly a luxury trip. Usually, I am here on business. I fit Kathleen into my schedule where I can and I am doing the best damn job I can. No, I don’t have time to scurry about in the park after butterflies or to watch birds or to play with kites and other such things. I don’t question how you spend your time with her, don’t question how I spend mine.”

“Just tell me something, Kathryn.” There once was a time when saying her name sent a thrill down his spine. Now it tasted like venom in his mouth. “Have you ever come here just to see Katie or is it always about business and Katie is the second through?”

“You try balancing this career and a child. I am doing my God-damned best,” she snapped. How dare he question her?

Chakotay was furious. So, none of her visits to Earth were because she missed Katie. It was about Federation business. Nothing she did was ever with Katie in mind. It was about herself. He couldn’t seem to digest the fact that she had become selfish beyond recognition. “The Kathryn Janeway I used to know was never such a selfish person,” he bit out.

“The Kathryn Janeway you knew finally got tired of making everyone else happy and doing for everyone else. Maybe it is my turn for a change!”

“At the expense of your daughter? Your father may have sacrificed you for the Federation, how dare you do that to Katie. Look at her, Kathryn! She is a beautiful little girl and you don’t even know her! She doesn’t have a Mother, she has a starship captain. No child should snap to attention the way she did when you entered her line of sight.”

“Damn it, Chakotay, I did not come here to fight with you or explain myself to you. This conversation is over. My father did what he did so we could have a good life and that is exactly what I am doing for Kathleen. I tried to compromise with you and you refused to discuss it. You said you were never going to serve on a starship again let alone live on one. No. I’m through discussing this with you. I will worry about my relationship with my daughter.” Kathryn turned and headed towards Kathleen.

Chakotay stood and grabbed her by the arm for which she turned her icy eyes upon him. “What is her favorite color, Kathryn? What is her favorite Flotter story? What is her favorite cereal? You don't even realize she prefers to be called Katie, do you?”

“Release my arm or I will press charges. You gave up your right to touch me, Chakotay.” She completely ignored his questions, but couldn't deny the automatic thrill that raced through her body when he grabbed her and she cursed her body for responding in ways that were now very inappropriate.

“Answer me, Kathryn.”

She stayed mute and continued to stare daggers at him.

Chakotay let go of her arm before he did something he shouldn’t. “A mother would know these things.” He let her stare at his back as he headed towards Katie, waving her over to him. His hatred for her grew with every visit from her. He had to get away from her. He had to take Katie and escape from her. She was not the woman he had loved with his heart and soul. The woman he had loved had desired children and had wanted to be a mother. This woman was just her shell, or maybe he had never even know her at all.

Katie dropped her kite and ran into his open arms. “Did you talk to her?” she asked, anxiously. It seemed she was anxious to get to know her mother, to have her play with her. As it was, her mother was just the figure huddled behind the stack of padds in her office whom she learned about in her history lesson at school.

Chakotay gave her a sad smile. “I tried, Katie. Maybe some of what I said will make a difference but I don’t want to promise you things that will disappoint you.”

“Yes, I know, Daddy. Only make promises you know you can keep.”

“You’re going to have to go now, Katie.”

“I know, Daddy. I love you all the way to Pluto,” she said then kissed his cheek.

“And beyond, Katie-bug.” He squeezed her into a hug. He always felt terrible when she was gone. He knew it was only going to be a week but he was always terribly lonely for her.

Katie turned and walked towards her mother bravely. “I’m ready, Mom,” she told her.

Kathryn grabbed her by the hand. “Come along, then. I don’t want to be late.” She didn’t turn to look back as she called over her shoulder: “I will call you to arrange to return her.” She made a hasty retreat out of the park, dragging Kathleen at a pace that made her run to keep up. She had to distance herself from Chakotay. When he had grabbed her arm and she saw the angry fire in his eyes, she nearly betrayed herself. Perhaps she had gone a bit overboard. She hated to fight with him but he didn’t have any right to question her motives or how she spent her time with her daughter. She would admit to herself that it wasn’t the most ideal situation to have a child and a career which is exactly why she had been so opposed to it while they had been on Voyager. Had she known she was going to be restless and unhappy on Earth as a wife and mother, she probably would have thought twice before jumping feet first into such a settled, grounded life.

“Mom, what are we going to do today?” Katie asked as she trotted along at her mother’s side.

Kathryn sighed. A begin to the badgering. “You are going to wait quietly while I attend a conference at head quarters. After that we will go to dinner and then go home.”

“Let the week of fun begin,” Katie sighed, sarcastically, under her breath. Kathryn stopped dead in her tracks.

“Young lady, don’t you sass me. It is high time you learned that life is about more than fun and games. Some healthy discipline in your life would do you a wonder of good.” She turned on her heel and led her daughter through the main entrance of head quarters. When they reached the conference room, Katie was seated outside the doors on an uncomfortable bench. “You are to wait here until I come for you.” Kathryn stated. “And while you sit here, I want for you to practice your multiplication tables. When I return I am going to ask you to recite the two’s.” She then quickly entered the conference room.

And there Katie sat, in the lonely corridor, watching officers pass by who rarely offered her an upward glance. She didn’t dare move from the bench her mother had seated her upon. And how was she supposed to practice her multiplication tables when she didn’t have a clue as to what multiplication tables were. She sighed. She hated to let her mother down. Whenever she didn’t know how to do something and she asked for help there always seemed to be a look of distress in her mother’s eyes touched with a shade of disappointment. It always made Katie feel less than competent. Katie couldn’t help but admire her mother. It was though she had been born perfect. She never faltered and she never made mistakes. She was a legend and respected by everyone around her. Katie had never told anyone but she longed to be just like her. She longed to be intelligent and beautiful and respected. She didn’t know how to achieve her goal except for giving up being a child and giving up playing. What was this discipline that her mother had spoke of? How could she become disciplined? Did it mean not having fun and not playing? Katie didn’t know if she could ever go through life without playing and having fun, but perhaps she should make the attempt. If it meant being accepted by her mother it was probably a good trade off. She began to think.

What was multiplication? If she were to multiply something it meant making it more than what it had once been. So, were she to multiply one by two times it became two and were she to multiply two by three, what did it become? Two threes became six. How about two multiplied by four? Well, that became eight because two fours together became eight! Two fives were ten and so on. She had it! A smile spread across Katie’s face as she realized that she was not stupid at all. Perhaps she was worthy of being daughter of Kathryn Janeway.

“Kathleen Janeway,” a cool, fluidic voice greeted her.

Katie was drawn from her self indulgence and found herself staring into the face of a dark man with pointed ears. She recognized him from her history lessons and from the stories and pictures her father had given her from when he had been on Voyager.

“Mr. Tuvok,” she greeted him.

“Are you here alone?” he asked as he looked down the corridor both ways.

“No, Sir. My mother is in a conference. I was told to wait here and learn my multiplication tables.”

“And have you succeeded?”

“Yes Sir. I have taught myself my two’s,” she proudly informed him.

“May I join you while you wait for your mother? I am also waiting to meet with her. While we wait, you can practice your multiplication tables for me.”

“Please join me. I was very lonely before you came,” she eagerly gestured to the seat next to her.

Tuvok was impressed with how polite and how disciplined she seemed. It was rare to encounter a human child who possessed such discipline at such an early age. He found it hard to believe she had learned such discipline from her father. While Chakotay was an efficient and disciplined officer, he seemed to have a more carefree approach at fatherhood, or so the Captain had complained on numerous occasions. And, for the child to have adapted such a demeanor from her captain mother would have been very surprising indeed considering the lack of time they spent in the company of one another. “You possess a surprising amount of discipline for a human child of your age. Where have you learned such discipline?” he inquired of her.

“Mr. Tuvok, I am not disciplined at all. I am trying to emulate my mother. She is so professional and tidy but I enjoy playing very much. I am hoping if I behave more like her she will want to spend more time with me.”

Tuvok was taken aback by her logic, regardless of how flawed it was. For a child her age, it was a good theory to believe her mother did not spend time with her due to her carefree nature but he felt it his place to correct her. “Ms. Janeway, your mother does not have the opportunity to spend time on earth due to the nature of her career not due to your lack of discipline. Your mother has expressed her love for you on many occasions. I have been her friend for a long time and she would not have entered into motherhood had she not intended to love her child completely.” He tried to console her fears as best as he could.

“I wish she loved me more than she loved her career.” Katie said sullenly. “Daddy said she used to love him too, but now all they do is fight and argue. It is hard to imagine they were ever in love.”

Tuvok raised an eyebrow. He had spent a great amount of time pondering the break down of the marriage between his former commanding officers. They had spent years "dancing around each other" on Voyager, as Tom Paris had put it, and had immediately professed their love for one another as they arrived home on earth after seven long years. Never once had Kathryn admitted any regrets though she had mentioned a longing for space and that family life was not quite as fulfilling as she had dreamed. “I do not experience emotions and am therefore not the person to consult in regards to your parents love affair. If you seek tales of your parents courtship, the Paris' are the ones you should seek,” he offered.

“Now, let us tend to your studies. The multiplication tables, please.”

Katie noted Tuvok’s suggestion of seeking Tom and B’Elanna in regards to her parents and set about reciting her two’s times tables to her new found companion.  

 

******

“It’s horrible. I feel dreadful when she is gone because I know she is so unhappy. I didn’t hardly sleep at all last night because I missed her so much,” Chakotay confessed as he swallowed down the iced tea Tom handed him.

“Is it really that bad?” Tom asked as they sat on the deck and waited for the steaks to finish grilling.

Chakotay never failed to be impressed by their home. It was so 20th century it could almost have passed for a museum. It had been built in the fashion of a 20th century ranch house complete with a white picket fence. Tom kept the lawn with a push mower and had an authentic gas powered grill upon which he made some of the finest barbeque Chakotay had ever had the pleasure of tasting. There was an antique automobile in the garage as well as other 20th century machinery in various states of repair. The house was decorated to match the era and their television from Voyager had taken up residence in their living room. “I ache for Katie every time I see her with Kathryn. She doesn’t behave like a normal child but like a nervous cadet anxious to achieve approval from the commanding officer.”

“Damn, Chakotay, that’s horrible. You know we haven’t seen her since she took command of the new ship. It was right before we decided to take our jobs at head quarters. She asked us if we were interested in positions on her new ship and seemed very disappointed that we rejected her. What did she expect? Miral was still very little and B’Elanna had just had the miscarriage and was miserable. There was no way we were going off world again,” Tom said as he turned the steaks.

“They smell delicious,” B’Elanna said as she stepped through the patio door carrying a bowl of potato salad. Miral followed her carrying a bowl of potato chips. “What are we talking about?”

“Uncle Chakotay!” Miral screeched as she set down the potato chips and ran to his arms.

Chakotay swept her up into the air. He loved his young niece dearly. She was only about a year and a half older than Katie and they had become great friends. Seeing Miral’s excitement made him long for Katie. He wondered if she was having fun or chained to her desk studying.

“How’s Katie?” Miral asked her Uncle as he returned her feet to the ground.

“She is doing well. I am sure she misses you. She is with her mom this week,” he explained.

“Miral, would you run and get the plates and silverware?” Tom asked, sending her on an errand so he could catch B’Elanna up on the latest.

“Sure, Daddy.”

“What’s going on?” B’Elanna asked. She took a seat at the picnic table and rested a hand on her swollen belly. She was nearly seven months pregnant with twins and still as chipper as ever. Motherhood certainly agreed with her.

Chakotay couldn’t help but admire her. She was positively glowing and had undergone such a remarkable transformation from the angry, misfit young woman whom he had taken under his wing once upon a time and long ago in the Maquis. And Tom as well. He, too, had been a lost soul and together he and B’Elanna had found one another and were able to forge a beautiful friendship, relationship, and marriage. They had created a lovely home and family and he couldn’t help but be a bit envious of the younger couple. This was the dream he and Kathryn were supposed to have been living. He pushed the thought away. So many crushed and broken dreams beneath their feet as they paved their new paths in life. He tuned back into Tom’s conversation with his wife.

“Apparently Kathryn doesn’t do anything but work when she has Katie, and Katie is miserable with her,” Tom covered the situation in a nutshell as he started arranging the ears of corn on the grill.

“After the way Kathryn shut everyone out of her life, it doesn’t surprise me. Did you know Henley works on her new ship and she said Kathryn rarely even acknowledges her? It’s like she wants to shut everyone and everything out. She must be terribly unhappy,” B’Elanna said.

Chakotay scratched his chin for a moment. Kathryn was unhappy? Could that have been an explanation? He didn't know what to make of the idea that she was unhappy now. She had become restless after she’d had Katie which had spiraled into unhappiness which was why she had left. But unhappy now? He thought she had remedied her unhappiness when she had taken off to accept command of her new ship and to head off back into the Delta Quadrant. He said as much to his companions. 

“Did the Doctor ever check her for post partum depression? Sometimes, if untreated, it can go on for an undetermined amount of time.” B’Elanna suggested as she poured another round of iced tea.

“I am sure he did. He cleared her to come home the day after Katie was born. Even then, Kathryn seemed fine. It wasn’t until Katie was about three when she started talking about taking a demotion.” Chakotay told them, sadly. He was trying to keep from souring the day, but this wasn't doing it and he desperately wanted to find a way to change the subject from Kathryn. The thought that she was unhappy left him with mixed emotions. After everything they had been through, he wanted to not care, but he did and it gnawed at him.

“Maybe we should have the Doctor give her a once over. Maybe there is something wrong with her that can be corrected,” Tom suggested as he laid the plate full of steaks on the table.

“I already did that. The Doctor told me that she was in perfect health and there weren’t any anomalous readings at all. Let’s face it, guys. She was unhappy with her feet planted firmly on earth. Maybe she is unhappy out there. I don't know. I just hope she finds what she is looking for.” His eyes went to the sky. He knew she wasn’t there at the moment, but he knew her heart was. “Now, no more talk of her. Let’s enjoy our day and that amazing smelling barbecue, shall we?”

******

“Mommy, can we go outside and play now?” Katie asked, restlessly. She had been sitting beside her mother’s desk for three hours. For three hours she had been silent and practically motionless as she practiced her six’s. It seemed a pointless exercise since her mother had not seemed the least bit impressed that she had know nothing about multiplication before the conference yet by the time of it’s conclusion she had mastered her three’s and even began working on her four’s. Her mother had regarded her with a “good job” and had apologized to Tuvok as though Katie had been some kind of burden on him.

“Kathleen, do you have any idea the labors of being a starship Captain?” Kathryn asked frustrated. She threw down a padd on the table and covered her face in her hands as though trying to will away the headache that had formed behind her forehead.

Katie was puzzled by the query. Of course she didn’t know what it was like to be a captain. She only knew a little of the world her mother lived in. She knew her mother was highly respected and always very busy. Often too busy for her. And she found this fact very odd indeed. Her daddy worked and he was never too busy. Uncle Tom and Aunt B’Elanna worked and were never too busy for Miral. Her mother must have been so much more important than Miral’s parents or her own father because so many people demanded her time and energy that she just didn’t have enough left over for her very own daughter.

“No, Mom. I don't because I don't know anything about what you do. All I know is you are always too busy to play with me. Sometimes I wish you would just leave me with Daddy if you don’t have time for me. You must be too important to make time for me.” Katie finally said firmly. With that, she picked herself up off the floor and began walking towards the door.

“Kathleen Janeway,” Her mother snapped firmly. Kathryn had lifted her head from her hands and stared at her daughter’s retreating back. She froze at the sound of her name and turned back towards Kathryn. She didn’t know whether to laugh at the irony or cry and the truth.

“Did your father tell you that?” She wanted to be angry at Chakotay for telling her the truth. She really wanted to find a way for him to be at fault and to take the blame.

“No, Mom. I figured it out on my own. All of my friends who have Moms and Dads who care a great deal about them and who have time to play with them in the park. You never do. Their Moms and Dads take them to the aquarium and fishing and on vacations. You never do.”

Kathryn gaped in amazement at her young daughter and realized she was her father and Kathleen was her. She had become just like her father and the thought was disturbing. She had let her lust for space and her love of Starfleet steal away all that was precious to her. She had become so jaded and hungry for command of the new Voyager class starship she had forgotten her whole reason for returning to earth and the Alpha Quadrant in the first place. Home and family.

“If you don’t mind, I am going to play because I am tired of waiting on you.” Katie turned on her heel and headed towards the door with a dumbfounded Kathryn staring at her back. When she reached the door, she paused for a moment and looked her straight in the eyes, blue fire meeting blue ice and said: "My name is Katie." Then she disappeared through the door, her footfalls sounding on the floor as she stormed away.

The Captain in her ordered her to ignore the child. What did she know about Starfleet and a career? But Kathryn realized that her daughter of six-years-old knew more about being a family than she did herself. What a fool she had been. She’d had everything she had always dreamed of: a loving husband, great friends, a beautiful daughter, a home, and a future growing old in the company of loved ones. What had gone wrong? Why hadn’t it been enough? Why had her heart called her back to the stars and to her career as a starship captain? To survive on coffee, caramel brownies, and the adrenaline rush? Never enough sleep, never enough time, running the rat race that Starfleet designed for her life? Seven years of Hirogen, Borg, Viidian, Krenim, Kazon, and Devore hadn’t been enough? But now she was doing great work. It only took a matter of hours to travel between the Alpha and the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant. Many of the worlds she had made friends with had welcomed her return to their world and her news of her triumphant success in returning to the Alpha Quadrant and the planet she called Earth. Several had been very interested in her invitation to be considered for membership in the United Federation of Planets and had applied. She had established outposts and had organized colonies. In the two years she had been on this project she had done amazing things to open the Delta Quadrant in ways the Federation had never thought possible during this century. She was currently embroiled in negotiations with Sikarus in regards to trade and membership to the Federation. They were very nervous about sharing their space folding technology with outsiders and especially with her because it had been her people who stole it. Kathryn had been delighted to find that Gath was still the prime minister. She was certain she would be able to gain the upper hand with the minister who had once found her so appealing. He had been equally delighted to see her and was even more surprised to find when she beamed down that she had worn the scarf he had given her. Kathryn was not above using her femininity to lure him into exactly what she wanted. His planet’s space folding technology would be invaluable to the Federation. She implored him with twinkling blue eyes that he take a look at everything the Federation have to offer before he rejected their invitation to apply. Gath had wanted to take a look. At everything the Federation had to offer, including her. She had tactfully negotiated her body off of the bargaining table but had promised that she would consider his offer of an extended personally guided vacation on his home world after his planet had become a member of the Federation. Gath had signed and submitted the application with a few provisions. He wanted permission for his planet to continue to be a resort planet and did not want Federation troops picking it apart. There would be no unessential mining or destruction to his world and those wishing to take up residence must be of a peaceful nature. If they brought crime with them, he reserved the right to put them on the next transport back to where they came from. He was not about to have his planet be overcome by the problems faced by others. Kathryn was now in heated debates with the Federation council regarding his provisions to his application. She needed to find a way to assure them that the space folding technology was worth the provisions regardless of the fact that it had been incompatible with Voyager. Her accomplishments and work were very important. Why did no one seem to understand? She couldn’t expect Kathle...Katie to even comprehend the monumental impact she had on the entire galaxy with the work she was doing, but Chakotay should have. The rest of her former crew and friends should have. Why did she come out being the bad guy? Why did she look like the neglectful, hateful parent? And how had she managed to convey a lack of importance in her life to Katie? How could Katie not know she was the most important little person in her life and that she loved her very dearly? Chakotay was right and she wanted to kick herself for it. She did not have a clue how to be a mother. She was a starship captain through and through.

Maybe… just maybe it was time to give up being a captain and settle down and be a mother. But to do that, she would begin a fight on two grounds. The first would be for Katie to accept her and give her another chance, the second would be for Starfleet to release her. She didn’t know which would be worse.

******

“DADDY!” Katie screamed and she bolted for his arms as soon as he appeared from within their Arizona home. It had only been seven days but she had been sure she had forgotten what he looked like.

Chakotay swept his excited little girl up into his arms and swung her around and around. He hugged her tightly and felt like he had never wanted to let her go again. She could see in her eyes that she had been missing him. “I missed you, little princess,” he told her as he kissed her cheek and hugged her all over again.

“Me too, daddy.” She wrapped her little arms around his neck like she was never going to let go.

When he finally settled her feet back to the ground he patted the top of her head. “How about you go play in your room for a bit. I have to talk to your mom in private.”

Kathryn had hung back, watching Chakotay and Katie together. She steeled herself against the emotion. She was not ready to feel. She was not ready to release the grip she had over her heart and let the flood gates come crashing open. Not yet. She still had things to do.

"Kathryn,” he greeted her simply. He envisioned a shield about himself. He was not going to let her get to him. Not again. He was not going to allow his anger to rise nor was he going to allow himself to falter.

“Chakotay,” she greeted him coolly, perhaps a little cooler than she had intended to.

“Would you like to come in for a few moments?” he invited her. He hadn't wanted to risk another quarrel but there was no use in standing in the heat of the Arizona sun and broaching the topic he had on his mind. Warmer temperatures seemed to invite flairs of temper and Kathryn certainly didn't need the help these days. 

Kathryn nodded and followed him into the cool interior of the home. It was a quaint little home over furnished with big cozy chairs and couches. She had suspected he had carved majority of the furniture himself. He sat on the couch and she took a seat next to him where he had gestured to, careful to keep a physical distance between them.

“I have made a decision in regards to my and Katie’s future,” he stated. “I have decided to resign my commission with Starfleet and take part in the rebuilding and re-colonization on Trebus. I will remain a Federation liaison during the rebuilding efforts. I feel I can do more good there than I can teaching cadets about our achievements in the Delta Quadrant.”

Kathryn felt herself jump from complacent to angry in less than a nanosecond as he spoke. How dare he make such a decision about their daughter’s future without even consulting her? She quickly attempted to calm herself. He had every right. After all, she was mostly an absent parent and she had agreed to give him physical custody over Katie. She shifted her attention to try to quell her temper before attempting to discuss his plan to relocate their daughter from Earth. “I thought you enjoyed teaching at the Academy.”

Chakotay was surprised that she had not exploded over his decision to move Katie off world. “I love teaching but I can’t continue to relive the Delta Quadrant semester after semester. Kathryn, it’s almost like reliving a bad dream at times. I just want to put the whole thing behind me.”

Kathryn smiled ruefully. “Another position where we share differing points of purpose. I can’t put it behind me. It is all around me, every day of my life. Chakotay, it is so much better this time around. I am actually accomplishing things, opening doors, changing lives and the course of the future of an entire quadrant. It is remarkably exciting!” she gushed.

Chakotay was enjoying having a civil conversation with her. “I wish you had been this passionate about our marriage,” he muttered, not realizing that he’d even said anything until he turned and saw the open surprise in her eyes.

“I was passionate, Chakotay,” her voice dropping to a husky whispered. “I still am. Passionate that is.”

Chakotay found himself drawn into her and couldn’t help but let himself drown in her eyes. She was still as beautiful as the day he had first laid eyes on her in the Delta Quadrant on the bridge of her ship when they were still enemies. She had pressed her body against his to keep him away from Paris and he had felt a shock of electricity race through him. She was the one he had been searching for and she was the woman whom he was going to marry. He had decided in that very moment.

“How about being passionate about the right things, before it’s too late?” he asked then swooped in and captured her mouth with his before reality broke the spell that had been cast upon them.

Kathryn felt the anger and discontent melt away as he kissed her, wrapping her into the spell and reminding her of everything she had loved about him, and still missed. She pressed into him and deepened the kiss, feeling his hands cup the back of her head. He kissed her like a starving man, kissed her as he had when he had been her husband. He kissed her the way he had kissed her when seven years of denial had melted away and Voyager had set down on Earth for the very first time. He kissed her as he had on their wedding night when they had made love and like he had the night they had conceived Katie.

Chakotay pulled back to look at her, his hands still laced in her hair. He wanted to make sure she was real and not a fantasy. Caged in emotions were threatening to break their bonds and he wanted to be sure it was Kathryn Janeway whom he held in his arms.

She kept her eyes closed as his lips parted from hers. “Please,” she whimpered, “don’t break the spell.” She knew it wasn't real, but she didn't want it to end, either. She wanted to remember.  

Chakotay stood and swept her up into his arms and carried her to his bedroom, tripping the lock as he went. He set her down and his mouth found hers as they fumbled with fastenings of clothes. He had her standing nude before him in a matter of moments while she had only managed to unfasten his pants. He pulled back from her for just an instant to shed his pants and shirt. He pushed her back onto the bed and covered her with his body. “Kathryn, Kathryn,” he sobbed as he kissed a trail down her body, tasting her and becoming reacquainted with her once again.

Kathryn wrapped her legs around his waist and turned off the warning klaxons that were sounding in her head. She squeezed her eyes closed and tried to shut out the demands of her Starfleet life so she could live in the moment and enjoy his ministrations. This was so terribly wrong. They were divorced and she knew she was not staying the night, or forever with him. But she needed this. She needed him. It tore at her inside and she felt the tears beginning to come. “Chakotay, Chakotay, please,” she begged as she dug her nails into his back.

He couldn’t wait any longer. He crawled up eye level with her again and joined their bodies as one. He held her tightly as he made love with her. They moved as one, souls joining as one, hearts rekindling, the fire being reborn. Seeds of love were released within her. Kathryn lost herself in the love in his eyes and the tears came as she did. She held onto him as they communed in the garden of love together, her body accepting his offering and her heart began to breathe anew.

******

Kathryn awoke hours later and bolted upright. She was highly confused for a moment as she failed to recognize her surroundings. When she finally moved, the slickness at her thighs told her the story. She was in Chakotay’s bed in Arizona. She groaned in displeasure and rolled to her feet, then realized his side of the bed was empty, except for a piece of paper. This was not the way things were supposed to be. This wasn’t supposed to have happened. Quickly, she dressed in her uniform and straightened her hair. Before she left the bedroom, she looked over the note which was in his hand, letting her know he had gone to the market to pick up a few things. She signed and sat down at the small desk in the room and penned a letter to him on the back of the same paper. She didn’t want to have to face him. She didn’t want to have to tell him that she was going to hurt him again. She couldn’t bare the thought to see that look in his eyes. What she had just done was probably renewed his love for her and his belief that she was going to come back to him. It wasn’t true. She just couldn’t do that. Kathryn was fighting back the tears as she wrote her Dear John letter. It wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t ever fair to her. She knew she could have it all. With a little bit of work and a little bit of trust this fledgling beginning could grow wings and soar once again. After all, that’s how they had began in the first place, wasn’t it? A little bit of love and trust had gone a long way. It had created Katie. She completed the letter and laid it on the pillow case upon which she had fallen asleep on. She composed herself, wiped the tears that had collected in her eyes. Perhaps soon she would be able to find happiness. She checked the chronometer. She suspected her ship was probably in orbit waiting for her.

“Janeway to Delta-Voyager.”

“This is Commander Hale, go ahead Captain.”

“Status, Commander.”

“Repairs and refuel is complete, Captain. We are awaiting your return,” he reported.

Kathryn smiled a small, sad smile. He was a very good Commander and they had a good rapport but nothing like the kind she’d had with Chakotay when they had been on Voyager. There were times when she believed her and Chakotay’s communication was almost telepathic. All she had to do was look at him and he knew her thoughts and commands. 

“One to beam up,” she ordered, then felt the familiar sensation of the transporter beam engulf her and dematerialize her body.

******

“Is Mom still here?” Katie asked anxiously. She was very excited by the fact that her mother and her father had been able to spend time alone without it ending in angry words and slamming doors.

“I am sure she probably is,” Chakotay replied happily. The turn of events made him want to stay on Earth and see what was going to happen. He was sure she had melted and given in, perhaps even realizing what she had been missing in her life. She had seemed so different in his arms just a couple of hours ago. When she had dozed off in his bed he had decided to leave her to sleep and head to the market to buy some fresh produce for dinner.

“How about you run on ahead and wake her. Ask her if she wants to stay for dinner.”

Katie took off running ahead of him and bolted into the house.

Chakotay felt his spirits soar. Kathryn had come home. They were going to be a family again! His dreams for the past couple of years were going to come true. Katie was going to have the life she deserved. He didn’t think he could have been happier. Katie dashed into her dad’s bedroom.

“Mom?” she called. She jumped up onto the bed and ripped the covers back. Her mother was gone but there was a note laying on her dad’s pillow. She felt the tears begin. She was gone. She was gone again! How could this have happened? Daddy had been so happy and she had thought she was going to stay. She met her father at the door with tear filled eyes, holding the letter.

Chakotay felt his heart sink into his shoes as he beheld the sight of his teary daughter holding a piece of paper. He knew. He felt as though he had been sucker punched in the gut. She had done it again. He didn’t even have to read the note to know. His head and his heart felt her absence. “Katie, sweetie.” He took her into his arms and accepted the note he held out for him.

“I thought… Daddy, I thought she had come homes,” she wept tearfully.

Hearing her sobs, Chakotay couldn’t prevent the tears from spilling onto his cheeks. He didn’t even want to read the letter and he felt angry at himself for even believing she had come back. “Katie, how about you take the groceries in and put them away. We’ll still make dinner,” he told her. “And then, I’ll take you for ice cream.”

Katie pasted on a chipper face for her father, even though her spirits were sinking within. “Sure, Daddy.”

Chakotay sat on the bench outside the front door and prepared himself to read her farewell.

Darling Chakotay, I know you’re not going to understand and I know your despise of me will probably grow once you have found me gone and read this letter. I can not stay. As much as my heart may desire, I can not. I can not ignore my duties to my uniform. We had our chance together and we failed. I can not put you or myself or Katie through the pain of a failed relationship a second time. Once upon a time, we captured the magic but it was swept away with time. I know you still love me and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love you as well but we are in two different worlds now. I am not able to relinquish command of the Delta-Voyager until my work is through. I won’t make promises to you. I live in a dangerous world and every trip I take into the Delta Quadrant opens the possibility that I may not return. I can not put you through that torture. I will come and visit Katie when I can, but I feel it is in our best interest if you and I avoid each other as much as possible. We can not have another mis-step such as we had this afternoon. I suggest you take Katie and move to Trebus if that is your wish. I will swing by from time to time when I am in the area to visit. And maybe... someday... Yours Always, Kathryn

Chakotay couldn’t stop the river of tears from flowing freely. She had renewed his love and belief that they could possibly salvage something from their crushed lives, and she just all but destroyed it again. He wanted to hate her, he wanted to be angry with her, but he couldn’t. He loved her and desired her more so now than he had in years. He was going to win her back. He didn’t yet know how, but it was a necessity, for his life and Katie's.

******

Kathryn examined herself sideways in the mirror. It was horrible to be getting old. She would have to make a note to have the doctor stabilize her metabolism. Something she must have eaten while on Sikarus must have thrown everything out of balance because she was beginning to get a bump at the mid section. That certainly wouldn’t do. She was a starship captain. She couldn’t allow herself to get soggy around the midsection. She supposed it was to be expected. With all of the welcome parties and receptions she had been attending and the kilos of food that had been forced down her as she was implored to try just one more delicacy of this or that planet it was no wonder she had gained weight. She hadn’t eaten this well since she had lived at home as a child. They had traveled back to the Ocampa home world to see how they had been progressing. Kathryn had been thrilled to see that they had ventured out onto the surface and had even forced the Kazon off of the planet. Since they were still a fledgling society, Delta-Voyager was ordered to just take a look around. The Ocampa had discovered an underwater ocean on one of the planets moons and they developed a water transportation system to help sustain life, developing a settlement with trees and crops above the surface which was an oasis in the middle of their desert planet. They had even made an artificial lake and were attempting to restore the nucleogenic properties of the planet. There were clouds over the lake and clouds meant rain. Kathryn was overcome with joy as she realized that they had made it. She wondered how they had defeated the Kazon. Perhaps it had been with the remarkable telepathic abilities they had suppressed. Regardless she was proud of them for overcoming the odds. She couldn’t help feel a little nostalgic for the past. Chakotay had first devoted his life and service to her and pledged his crew to follow her near this very location. It had taken only seven years of devotion and hard work to get them home and now she was able to travel to the origin of their beginnings in a matter of hours. And, all of it because of the Caretaker and their wayward journey into the Delta Quadrant.

As she took a last glimpse of the Ocampa home world on her view screen she thought of Kes. How she had longed for Kes after she had evolved into the energy being and threw them ten years forward in their journey. Sometimes, she even felt as though Kes were still with her. She had left an imprint upon her heart and Kathryn vowed to never forget the sweet child-like woman for as long as she lived. Purposefully, she strolled out onto the bridge and reassumed command of her ship from Commander Hale. “Set a course for Sikarus and engage,” she ordered as she sat down in her seat.

“Aye, Captain,” the young Lieutenant at the conn replied as her fingers danced across the console.

Janeway stared at the back of the blond head of the Lieutenant at conn. Missy Nichols was her name. She had really short cut blonde hair and sometimes Janeway had to catch herself from calling her Paris. Even after all these years, she could still see them surrounding her and sometimes she lost herself in picturing Voyager’s bridge and her former senior staff. She missed them. All of them. This new staff of hers didn’t possess the camaraderie that Voyager’s crew had. Then again, these people hadn’t been through hell and back with her, either. Things like that changed people, created ties that were binding. Or were supposed to have been binding.

“Approaching Sikarus,” the Vulcan Lieutenant at Ops informed her.

Janeway had been so lost in her thoughts she had completely lost track of time. She was never going to get used to how quickly they could jet around the galaxy. “Take us into standard orbit.”

"We are being hailed.” Ops Lieutenant T’Lar stated.

“Onscreen.”

“Captain Janeway, what a pleasure you have returned to our world. I trust that our application for membership to the Federation has been delivered?” Gath greeted her with a particular twinkle in his eyes.

“Received and your provisions are under advisement,” she told him, attempting to stay strictly business. She couldn’t deny that she liked him and even found him attractive.

“Wonderful. Since you are here, allow us to entertain you. Please, arrange shore leave for your crew. It would be to our delight to receive you.” He was always so pleasant and inviting.

“Thank you, Gath. We’ll make the necessary arrangements and I will contact you in an hour. Voyager out. Commander Hale, work out the duty roster. I am going to pack. You have the bridge.” She had become very greedy in her shore leave. She made sure her crew was accommodated for but she also made sure she enjoyed herself as well. Her first trip through the Delta Quadrant had been anything but enjoyable. As Kathryn entered her quarters she caught sight of a picture of Katie on her table. She paused then made her way over to pick up the picture. Katie. Her little Kathleen Elizabeth Janeway. Kathryn couldn’t hold back the flood gates and tears poured from her eyes. How she loved that little girl and she didn’t know the first thing about showing her. She was a failure as a mother. She collapsed on her couch holding the picture and cried. It had been three months since she had seen her. Three months since she had walked out on Chakotay a second time. They were probably on Trebus now and Kathryn was probably the furthest thing from their minds.

******

“Who is she?” Katie asked when Chakotay stepped through the door with the auburn haired woman. She eyed her suspiciously as he closed the door behind them.

“Katie, this is Cyrie. We have been working together on the settlement and I invited her to join us for dinner.”

Cyrie knelt down to Katie’s level and took her hand. “So you are the famous Katie Janeway. Your father talks about you all the time.”

Katie stared at Cyrie. She had short auburn hair that was cut to her ears and deep, black eyes. Katie immediately recognized the distinct dark eyes from her Betazoid heritage and the nose ridges from her Bajoran heritage. She didn’t try to hide that she did not like the idea that her father had brought a woman home despite the fact that she knew Betazoid’s were telepathic.

“Katie, aren’t you going to say hello?” Chakotay asked as he, too, knelt down next to Cyrie.

Katie gathered her padd that she had been practicing her letters upon and pushed her way past them. “I am not hungry, father. Please excuse me for not joining you for dinner.” She took off to her room and slammed the door behind her.

Chakotay turned to Cyrie. “I’m sorry. She’s not normally like this. I don’t know what’s come over her,” he apologized.

Cyrie smiled. “Perhaps I should go. It is too soon for her.” She had been able to sense Katie’s thoughts and they were of nothing but loyalty for her mother though Cyrie had no idea why. From what Chakotay had told her, Kathryn Janeway had been absent for three months without so much as a word.

“Cyrie, I can’t let her emotions rule my life. I am not a young man any more and I want to start dating again, perhaps even settle down and marry again some day.” Chakotay said as he led the way to the kitchen to prepare dinner. When they had started seeing each other almost two months ago, he had been uncomfortable with the fact that she could read his mind any given time and asked her for her promise to trust him to speak his mind rather than invading his thoughts. She had given her word but now, more than ever, she wished she could read his mind. When they had first met, she had known he was hurt, angry, and still desperately in love with his ex-wife, the legendary Kathryn Janeway. From what she had read about Voyager and had heard about Kathryn Janeway she could easily understand why he loved her. He had opened up and poured his soul out on the table for her, told her of what he had been through with Kathryn and the terms of their final meeting. Cyrie had felt for the poor, emotional man and fell in love with his soul. He was a good man, with a good heart and Kathryn had thrown away a good thing.

“Chakotay, she will come around but we should take small steps. Perhaps next time we should meet at a neutral place. I am the invader here. If we met, perhaps at a park, she might not feel so threatened,” Cyrie suggested.

Chakotay turned from the vegetables he had been chopping and flashed her a dimpled grin. “That’s what I like about you. You are so intelligent and beautiful. Makes me wonder what a big oaf like me did to deserve you.”

Cyrie sat down at the table and poured herself a glass of water from the pitcher. “Makes me wonder what I did to deserve a handsome oaf like you, whose a marvelous cook, too.”

Katie sat in the hallway outside the kitchen. It was enough to make her sick. They were like those high school kids schmoozing each other. It was enough to turn her stomach and make her face turn green. She crossed her arms over her chest and reclined back against the wall. She hated Trebus. She missed her Grandma Gretchen and Aunt Phoebe and Aunt B’Elanna and Uncle Tom and Miral. She wanted to go home. All her dad had talked about the whole way was how they were going to start a new life and how things were going to be so much better. Well, things couldn’t have been worse! Everyone she had ever known was gone from her life and her dad was carrying on with Cyrie as though he had been shot in the butt by cupid. It was just sickening.

Quietly, she crawled away from the kitchen and into her father’s office. There had to be a ship that would take her home. She couldn’t stay here a moment longer. Katie climbed up to the computer and tapped the screen. Her father was a liaison so there had to be information about the ships going between Trebus and Earth and other planets. She tapped in her father’s authorization code. She memorized it when she had seen him type it in. Suddenly, the computer brought up a menu offering communications, trade logs, passenger ships, cargo ships, supply inventories, everything she was interested in. If she understood the list correctly there wasn’t a passenger ship headed to Earth for a month but there was a cargo vessel headed there within two days! But how in the world would she get to it and on top of that, how would she get onto the ship without being noticed. Then she began to ponder: what did cargo ships carry? Medical supplies and other items of trade such as food and equipment. Well, all of those things were shipped in containers. Perhaps, if she could find one of those containers that was going to Earth, she would be able to sneak inside and get shipped back to Earth. It was a crazy idea for her six year old self and she was proud to have thought of it.

Katie pulled up the trade inventory and found that there was a warehouse two kilometers from their house and there was a shipment of moon berries headed for Earth to a market in San Francisco. Well, that was exactly where she wanted to be! She knew how to get to Indiana from there! It was settled. Tomorrow night she would walk the two kilometers to the warehouse, find the barrels of moon berries, settle herself into one of the barrel with some rations, a couple of water jugs, a couple of books on her padds and her wrist beacon so she could see. She was going back home.

******

“Kathryn, dear, you must taste this,” Gath told her as he put the goblet to her lips. Kathryn took a long drink of the beverage. It had the consistency of coffee and was the right temperature but it had a creamy almond type of flavor.

“That’s exquisite,” she replied with an open smile.

“I have heard of your taste for an Earth beverage called coffee. This is the closest thing we have to that particular beverage that provides similar stimulation when ingested,” Gath told her as he wrapped an arm around her waist.

Kathryn allowed the protective touch as they walked through the secluded park. The beautiful apple colored falls drooped from the trees like the weeping willows back home. When the breeze blew she was engulfed by a fragrance that was like jasmine and lilacs all in one. Sikarus was really a beautiful planet, but it was nothing compared to Earth in her heart. Regardless of how much time she spent in space or on other worlds, her heart still belonged to Earth. She knew deep down that she could never make a home on Sikarus or with Gath. She was duty bound and Starfleet was in her blood whereas he was mostly pleasure oriented. She also knew after living on Sikarus in a world of pleasure all his life, Earth would pale in comparison to the utopia Gath was used to. They were of two different minds and would never be able to find life long happiness.

“Thank you for being so attentive.” She smiled up at him as he led her to a bench under one of the beautiful, sweet smelling trees. The falls were so dense, she couldn’t see through them.

“Kathryn, you are a beautiful woman and I find myself very attracted to you. Let me show you all of the pleasures I can offer you,” he whispered as he leaned towards her, letting his lips drift along her jaw bone.

“I can’t…” she tried to protest but then he found that sensitive patch of flesh under her ear and she felt her resolve melting.

“Relax, Kathryn. Just let me pleasure you,” he cooed in her ear as his hand cupped a sensitive breast.

As soon as his fingers made contact with her breast she jumped in shock. The touch was nearly painful and all he did was brush his hand against it. It had been three months since anyone had touched her so it stood to reason she would be hypersensitive. Gath guided her back onto the bench and slid his hands along her thighs, taking the hem of her dress with his hands as he knelt before her. He made love to her flesh with his mouth as he worked his way up the insides of her thighs. He came to the barrier of her panties and gently pulled them aside to reach the prize he sought. He leaned into her, pleasure surging through her as he worked his magic. Kathryn felt layer upon layer of her clothing being removed as he sent waves of passion through her body. When she ascended to the apex it was Chakotay’s face she saw before her eyes not Gath. Any residual pleasure she may have felt was killed the moment his face appeared in her minds eye. She pulled away from Gath.

“No. I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” she told him as she reached for her uniform. “It’s too soon.”

Gath gave her a confused look. “Too soon, Kathryn we have been allies for a year now and friends for even longer. I desired you when you first came to our world and even more so now.”

Kathryn gave him a helpless look. “It’s my husband… I… I just can’t do this right now.”

“But you told me you were divorced. It has been a long time, if I remember correctly. How do you know he is not in the arms of another as we speak? Don’t let your heart pine for him, Kathryn. He was obviously not worthy of a woman such as yourself if he let you go,” Gath stated as he took her hand and tried to coax her back onto the bench.

Kathryn felt her defenses raise at the insult to Chakotay. Of course Chakotay was worthy of her! Before she unleashed her temper upon him she caught herself. What if Gath was right? What if Chakotay had moved on? What if he were on Trebus right now, making love to another woman? What if he remarried? Oh God, she hadn’t thought of that. She had wanted to leave the possibilities reopen for future rendezvous but if he remarried… Her thoughts trailed off.

“Quit living in the memory, Kathryn. That is part of the past. Explore the future possibilities with me,” he tempted as he guided her back onto the bench and slid between her parted thighs. Kathryn felt him nudge against her and wondered when he had removed his pants. She was numb to everything that was happening. All she could do was think of Chakotay and him holding another woman in his arms, telling her he loved her, marrying her, making babies with her. She felt her spirits sink and she retreated within herself as she felt Gath screwing her. She couldn’t bring herself to call it making love because she did not love him. Her heart was bleeding for Chakotay. She had done it again. She had pushed him away on Voyager for seven years, had slowly pushed him out of her life, and just three months ago when she could have grasped the dream again, she ran in the opposite direction without even a goodbye. Kathryn felt him stab into her repeatedly, heard his moans of pleasure, heard him grunt his release, but her world was growing black at the edges until the darkness engulfed her fully and her hold on reality dissipated into unconsciousness.

******

Chakotay draped his arm across the midsection of the beautiful young woman at his side as she slept. He couldn’t sleep. She was plaguing him and haunting his dreams. It had begun as he made love to Cyrie. All he could see was Kathryn’s face as he had gazed at the auburn haired woman beneath him. Kathryn with her hair long again, spread out on the pillow, Kathryn with her dazzling blue eyes full of love, Kathryn in the throes of passion beneath him. He’d managed to find sleep only to be awaken by the sound of her voice calling his name and her face appearing in the dark. He wanted to hate her. He had wanted to be angry at her but he had been more angry with himself for thinking she had come back to him and Katie. He wanted to despise her for playing with his heart and his emotions again but he couldn’t. She had mothered their daughter and he had loved her too long to hate her completely. She haunted his waking world, she haunted his dream world. Tonight he had been shocked awake at visions of her being made love to by another man, a man he had met before, a man on a planet with trees that were apple red and smelled of jasmine and lilac. He had seen her in the arms of the silver haired man. He woke in a cold sweat feeling sick. His Kathryn. His beautiful Kathryn.

He held Cyrie and tried to fall back asleep. He felt like he might come to love Cyrie. It would never compare to the love he had for Kathryn, but he couldn't hold out hope for Kathryn to return, so he wanted to give it his best shot to make things work with Cyrie. Kathryn was gone. He had to come to the acceptance. It had been three months without a single word. Kathryn was off searching for herself and making herself happy while he was left to raise Katie without a mother. She needed a woman in her life. He was content being mother and father, but she was getting older and she was going to be asking questions he wouldn’t be able to answer. And Cyrie reminded him of Kathryn when she was younger and full of fire. The Delta Quadrant had changed her over the years and continued to have a hold on her. He remembered Kathryn when she was full of energy, full of life, full of passion. Cyrie was like that. She was passionate about the reconstruction on Trebus and passionate about life itself. She was efficient but was able to pause and smell the roses on a whim. Kathryn hadn’t been like that. She wasn’t exactly what he would have referred to as spontaneous. Even once they had come home and she was able to relax she remained somewhat uptight about certain things. It was as though she had been living with her guard up for so long she didn’t know how to just relax and be Kathryn and accept that she didn’t always need to live on the defensive edge.

He sighed. Now he wasn’t going to be able to sleep. His mind was working at warp speed as he thought of Kathryn. His dream came flooding back as did the sick feeling in his stomach. It couldn’t be real. It was his mind playing tricks on him. It had to have been. Sure he and Kathryn had been close enough once upon a time to almost sense each other’s thoughts and they had often finished each others sentences but nothing telepathic. Besides, he had never known telepathy to span the distance of the entire galaxy and who knew where she was at this particular moment.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Cyrie’s sleepy voice asked.

“Sorry, I didn’t know you were awake. Talk about what?” he asked. Had she been reading his mind?

“I wasn’t doing it intentionally, but sometimes thoughts from the waking world can enter my dreams. I wasn’t trying to read your mind,” she told him. And it was the truth. She hadn’t been but when her dreams were suddenly assaulted with images of Kathryn Janeway, she had known it was from him. She certainly wouldn’t have been dreaming about her. She disliked her a great deal for the stress she caused Chakotay.

“I don’t want to talk about her,” he replied as he pulled her closer and nuzzled against her neck, desperately trying to push Kathryn from his mind and irritated that his thoughts had spilled over to Cyrie.

“It may help,” she gently pushed. She didn’t want to pry but she was curious to know what had him thinking about Kathryn, especially as he was holding her in his arms. Her jealousy began to flair and she attempted to quell it.

“Just a bad dream. I’m going to look in on Katie.” He rolled out of the bed.

Cyrie turned over and admired how the moonlight played across his dark features and his golden flesh. He was perfectly mouth watering to behold and he couldn’t help but feel aroused as she looked at him. Oh the wondrous places he had taken her on their excursion of love making. He really was proficient and possessed a talent in that department. No wonder Kathryn had popped back in for a roll in the hay three months ago. She wondered if Kathryn would try that trick again because she wouldn’t stand for that. If she managed to forge a relationship with Chakotay there was no way she was going to accept Kathryn popping in for a fling when the desire struck her. Cyrie would tolerate her picking Katie up or dropping her off if that became necessary but, though she knew it sounded selfish, she preferred if Kathryn Janeway would just disappear completely.

******

Kathryn woke with a start and shot upward. Where in the hell was she? What had happened? Her heart was racing in her chest and she was in a different place than she last remembered, then recognized it as the sickbay on her ship. She spent so little time in it, she had to collect herself to remember what it even looked like. She quickly tried to recall her last memory. Maybe she had been taken hostage on Sikarus? And then it came back to her, colors of apple trees and the scent of jasmine and lilac. She felt queasy, knowing what she had done and didn't want to think about it any longer.  

“Captain, calm down. You’re okay. You gave us a bit of a scare,” Doctor Hunter told her as she scanned her with a tricorder. “How long have you known you’ve been pregnant?”

Kathryn blinked and stared at her dumbfounded. “Excuse me, Doctor?” How long had she been out? The last thing she remembered was being in the park with Gath and him making lo..ah screwing her on the bench under the trees. Had he impregnated her as well? She hadn’t been aware that their species’ were compatible for procreation.

“You appear to be almost through your first trimester. You're telling me you didn't know?” Doctor MiKenna Hunter asked.

She suddenly felt dizzy again and as though someone had sucked all of the air out of the room. She slowly nodded before she laid back on the bed as she tried to gather her senses about her. Chakotay. She was pregnant. Oh God what had she done? “Run a DNA comparison scan on the fetus and compare it against the Federation database,” she ordered, though she knew it wasn't necessary. Before that day, in Arizona, there had been no one else.

“Biological parents of the fetus are identified as Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay,” Doctor Hunter reported as she tried to hide the look of question, knowing the scans she had taken just a few moments ago revealed evidence of semen belonging to a Sikaran.

“What happened?” Kathryn questioned as she tried to digest the news.

“The minister called for a transport. He said you had been in the park and just passed out. It looks like nutritional deprivation.”

At least Gath had been kind enough to keep the details of the nature of their visit to the park under wraps. “Thank you Doctor. Am I free to leave?”

“In a moment. Captain, you weren't assaulted, were you? I found traces of..."

Was she assaulted? Not exactly, though she wasn't entirely happy about how things had played out with Gath. But, she wouldn't exactly call it an assault because she had been perfectly capable of disengaging with him had she forced the issue. "No, Doctor. May I leave?"

Doctor Hunter wasn't entirely sure she believed the Captain, but she wasn't going to press her on the issue. "Yes. I have prepared a diet plan with regular vitamin hypos,” she handed Janeway the padd with the information.

“Thank you. I will be in my ready room if you need me,” Kathryn made a quick exit from sickbay and found her way to the bridge and then her ready room, leaving her ship in the competent hands of her first officer. She needed time alone to think. She had to figure out just what she was going to do now that she was pregnant and she and Chakotay were expecting a brother or a sister for Katie. She had to fix this. Kathryn collapsed in her chair behind her desk. She had really made a mess of things this time. How was she going to figure her way out of this. She had to analyze the situation. Chakotay and Katie were probably on Trebus trying to continue on with their lives and she was here in the Delta Quadrant and had just been screwed by the prime minister of a planet she hoped to admit to the Federation. Well. First order of business was dealing with Gath. She was sure he was going to need to know what happened to her and why she passed out. She sent a hail to his office on a secure channel.

“Kathryn! Darling, I have been worried sick about you. Are you alright?” Gath asked as soon as he appeared on her screen.

“I am fine now. It was just a little nourishment deficiency,” she told him, hoping he wouldn’t pressure her for more. She couldn’t get that lucky.

“How could that be, have we not fed you well?” He was extremely concerned. What kind of image was he going to portray to the Federation if he couldn’t even keep one of their captains properly nourished let alone hundreds of thousands of future visitors to his world.

Kathryn gave him an exhausted smile. “It wasn’t you, Gath. I just haven’t been ingesting the appropriate food for my condition.”

“Condition? Kathryn, are you ill? Perhaps we have a medicine which will help.”

Sure, a medicine that will fix the mess I have created of my life? She wondered if he truly had something like that. “Gath, I am not ill. I have… that is… I am pregnant.”

Gath’s eyes went wide with shock, at first considering asking if he was responsible. “I see. And who is the lucky father?” He felt a seed of jealousy begin to take root within him. 

“I just found out. Don’t worry, you’re not responsibles” she paused, letting the lead balloon hang in the air for a moment. “I’m headed back to the Alpha Quadrant soon. I wanted to thank you for your hospitality and tell you that I look forward to welcoming you as a member to the Federation.”

“That is it? We make love and you cast me aside like yesterdays waste?”

“Please. I didn’t plan this. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I want for us to remain friends, don’t make me your enemy,” she requested. “What were you expecting? For me to leave Starfleet and come live with you on Sikarus?”

Gath stared at her in disbelief. “I do not know what I was expecting from you. Your words have a finality in them.”

Kathryn put on her best poker face. “I never once said I was not coming back nor did I ever say we would never have another rendezvous. I simply said I am headed back to the Alpha Quadrant. I have business to attend to.”

Gath couldn’t tell if she was lying to him or not. “Then our world will look forward to your return. Good journey Kathryn.”

Kathryn offered him a smile. “Thank you. Delta-Voyager out.” She fell back into her chair. That was done. It hadn’t gone as smoothly as she had hoped for but it was done for now. She had more important things to concern herself with than Gath’s bruised ego.

“Janeway to Bridge.”

“Go ahead,” Hale’s voice answered her. Didn’t he ever go off duty? He reminded her of herself when she was younger.

“Lay in a course for DS13 and engage at maximum warp. Go to trans-warp as soon as possible,” she ordered.

Her chief engineer Mercedes Jenkins had taken the transwarp drive off-line for a routine maintenance otherwise they would have been at DS13 in just hours.

“Aye, Captain. Bridge out.”

******

Katie slung her backpack over her shoulder and checked her personal global positioning padd. By her records she was only about half a kilometer off from the location of the warehouse. She was making good time and if she kept it up, she would be able to slip into the storage container only a few minutes before it was transported according to her schedule. If it all worked out, she wouldn’t have to worry about being trapped in the container but for a few hours. Once she was absconded in the cargo bay she would at least be able to get out and stretch her legs. She jogged on ahead trying not to second guess herself. This was the right thing. She wanted to go home. And after she had peeked into her fathers bedroom and found him sleeping in the same bed as that woman, she knew she had to act. Once she went missing her father would call her mother and they would go crazy searching for her and perhaps it would be enough to get them back together in the same room and talking to each other. It would be a start.

Katie thought of herself as a spider with a web. Like Charlotte. She was weaving an intricate web and she was hoping to snare her parents in it. She was going to save them as much as she was going to save her own life. She didn’t want for them to be unhappy anymore. As she trudged onward she began to wonder if she was doing the right thing. Was it right for her to deceive her parents and to run away? She couldn’t even fathom the trouble she was going to be in when they caught her but if everything went according to plan, it would be worth it in the end.

The warehouse came into view and her self confidence was renewed. She was almost there. Now she knew she could do this because if she could possibly travel two kilometers on her own she could surly hide out in a storage bin for a couple of days. Katie ran the last little way. Excitement and adrenaline was coursing through her body now. She was so close! Only a little more. ‘Come on, Katie,’ she encouraged herself as she ran on her tired feet. She couldn’t remember when she ever walked two kilometers all at once.

Finally, she made it to the warehouse door. She tapped the key pad. There was an access code. She hadn’t planned on this. Of course there would be. It wasn’t like the goods in the warehouse were going to be left open to any common thief. She sighed but then decided that maybe her Dad's access code would open it. After all, he was in charge of a lot of important things on Trebus. She taped the code into the panel and, as she had hoped, the door signaled entry and slid open. Success was within her grasps. By the time her father noticed her missing she would be well on her way towards earth, but she left him bread crumbs, kind of like Hansel and Gretel, but unlike theirs, hers would work. She scanned the room and found a contained labeled organic and popped the top open. It was full to the top with moon berries. How was she going to fit inside if it were full to the top? This presented another problem, but this one was easier to solve. She looked around a bit more and found an empty bin. She pulled it over to the bin of moon berries and used her hands to scoop them into the empty bin. This was going to work, but this was the best plan she had ever come up with.

Katie was finally able to climb into the bin with her bag. She tucked it underneath her head as she curled herself into the fetal position. The container was a tight fit and she wouldn’t be able to move around much, but at least her plan was going to work. She secured the lid and tried her best to go to sleep. It was going to be a long journey.

******

Chakotay rolled over and found the bed next to him was empty. It was a poor way to start the day when it began alone and brought back bad memories of a time when he recently found his bed unoccupied and it should still have been. His dreams after falling back asleep contained a warm body curled into his. She’d had auburn hair and dazzling blue eyes and had been swollen at the belly with child. His child. They had been whispering names back and forth for their child to be. Kolopak Edward, Edward Chakotay, and finally Kolotay Edward Janeway. He had been dreaming of the way he had cuddled Kathryn when she had been pregnant with Katie. He couldn’t imagine why they had been discussing names for a male child. The only dissension they’d had when deciding on Katie’s name had been her middle name. Kathryn had wanted to name her Kathleen Kes Janeway but he’d insisted upon Elizabeth to honor her father’s mother.

He rolled to his feet and stepped into the bathroom to start the shower, hoping for the thoughts of Kathryn to dissipate. It had been two days since he had seen Cyrie. She’d been called to the next town over for a meeting in regards to the new aqua duct system they wanted to establish. He missed her. She was so very sweet and so full of life. She brought out a side of him that had all but been dormant since Kathryn had left. He felt happy, relaxed and somewhat carefree. His only concern was Katie. She had not been accepting of Cyrie and it worried him. She was normally such a happy child but the past two days had been different. She had become withdrawn and even very snippy. When she looked at him with her mothers eyes, it sent shutters down his spine. It was as though Kathryn herself were watching him with a disapproving eye. Katie was feeling betrayed and she did not understand the metamorphosis that had happened. For the past two years she’d had him all to herself but now she was being forced to share and it was almost as though she were on the defensive against a change in their way of life. On more than once occasion in the past couple of days she had fixed him with the infamous Janeway glare which she had also inherited from her mother. A simple little look form her was enough to make him feel guilty and as though he were betraying Kathryn. He let the warm water wash over his body. If only it could wash away his worries as it washed away dirt straight down the drain. Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if all it took to ease the mind and the worries of the day was a hot shower?

Chakotay stepped out of the shower. The hot water had eased a bit of his stress but it hadn’t washed away his problems. He was going to have to talk to Katie. As he toweled off and dressed he tried to decide what he was going to say to Katie, or rather what he could say that wouldn’t be seen as a betrayal. Once he was dressed and had run a comb through his hair, he headed towards the other end of the house where her bedroom was located.

“Katie?” he called as he knocked on the door. After a moment when he didn’t receive an answer, he opened the door a crack. He liked to allow her the privacy she deserved but he was a bit worried. Her room looked like that of a normal six year old child. There were toys and books everywhere. It was very little girl being pink and white and purple complete with the four poster bed Kathryn had chosen when she had been pregnant. On the walls hung holo-photos of himself and her mother, the Paris family, many members of the Voyager crew, the Wildman family, and some of the friends she had made at school. There were also drawings and paintings she had done herself.

“Katie?” he said again as he approached her sleeping form in the bed. Chakotay tore back the covers in terror when she failed to answer him only to find her pillows piled under them in the shape of her body, with a globe of Earth for the head. “Katie!” he yelled as he flung the closet open. “Katie, if you’re playing a trick this is not funny. Come out!” Chakotay dropped to his knees and checked under the bed before tearing out of the room and down the hall. “Katie Janeway!” he yelled as he tore through the house, searching desperately for her. Where was she? He was beginning to sweat and get terrified. Where in the hell was she? He seriously hoped she was not playing a trick on him. The sinking feeling in his stomach told him this was no game. Katie had disappeared. Chakotay ran into the backyard and checked the places where she normally played only to come up empty handed. “KATIE!” he yelled at the top of his lungs, his voice carrying for a great distance. Panic was beginning to set in. She had run away. It had to have been the answer. It didn’t look like someone had forced their way into the house and her pillows had been piled neatly with the globe to give the indication her head was under the covers.

He went back into the house and sat down at his desk and tried to calm himself. He sent a transmission to the planet’s security force letting them know she had gone missing. He also included a photo and description of her. They would find her. She was a six year old little girl. How far away could she have gotten? Next, he sent a message to Cyrie to let her know what had happened and that they would not be meeting at the park for their picnic dinner. He thought about sending a transmission to Kathryn but paused. If he sent her a message, by the time it reached her it could be old news. He didn’t want to worry her over nothing. Chakotay quickly packed a day bag with rations and water and headed out of the house. He was going to track her down and then they were going to have a long talk about the future.

******

DS13 came into view on the screen and Kathryn couldn’t help but feel a bit better. She always felt good when she was able to mingle with members of Starfleet other than her own crew. It was nice to converse with other Captains about their adventures in the Delta Quadrant. The only trouble was they all considered her an expert on all things Delta Quadrant which there were many worlds she had never visited, races she had never heard of. Regardless, not a single one of them failed to respect her or look at her with admiring eyes. The one thing they were all glad for was the Borg had been mostly non-existent. There had been reports of a few random cubes, but many of them were found to be drifting full of disconnected Borg in various states of decay. Even after more than five years the Borg had not come close to rebuilding their empire. Kathryn couldn’t help but be proud of the damage she had done. She had protected Earth from a powerful predator and the Federation was able to sleep peacefully at night without having to be concerned about Borg attacks.

“Open a channel.” she paused, waiting for the signal.

“This is Captain Janeway of the Delta-Voyager. Requesting permission to dock.”

“Permission granted, Captain and welcome to DS13. Docking pylon three.”

“Thank you. We look forward to our stay.” She turned to her conn Lieutenant. “You heard her, take us in nice and slow. Commander, prepare the crew for our lay over.” Kathryn watched as the pretty blonde Lieutenant guided the ship to the docking pylon. There was a jolt as the clamp took hold of the ship and they were secured. “Good job, Lieutenant. Janeway to Engineering.” “Yes, Captain?” Mercedes Jenkins responded. “I want you to finish that trans-warp refit and for the drive to be back online by the time we leave here. Pull personnel from other departments and run double shifts if you have to,” she ordered.

“Yes, Captain. Engineering out.”

Kathryn knew she wasn’t being unreasonable. B’Elanna Torres hadn’t had official academy training but when Kathryn had demanded something, she had produced. On their first journey through the Delta Quadrant, it hadn’t been a matter of having space stations and friendly ports of call to dock at to do repairs. A lot of things were done on the fly with mismatched parts and never enough power.

“Commander, work out the shifts so the crew all have an opportunity for a little r and r. I will see you on the station, you have the bridge.” Kathryn was anxious to get out and stretch her legs a bit. She was beginning to feel restless and some what moody. Her damn hormones were out of whack from being pregnant and she knew she was riding on the edge of snapping at someone. That and per doctor’s orders, her caffeine consumption had been dramatically reduced. Decaffeinated coffee was just a waste of beans, in her opinion.

She smiled a little ruefully as she boarded the turbo lift and headed towards the promenade of DS13. She wondered how Chakotay had managed to handle her before when the Doctor had tapered her caffeine when she had been pregnant with Katie. The poor, dear man. He had tolerated her through the best and the worst of things and had continued to stand by her. He had even held her near dead in his arms and never gave up on her. How could she have given up on him and Katie? This time things felt different. When she had gotten pregnant with Katie she was younger and had just come home from their seven years in the Delta Quadrant. She had just been promoted to Admiral and hadn’t had a chance to get used to the change. She had thought she was ready to settle down and be a mother and a wife and an Admiral behind a desk. But then the announcement of the new Voyager class ships and the commissioning of the Delta-Voyager, she knew she had to be on the bridge of the lead ship. She knew she had to be the one to head back to the Delta Quadrant and to start laying the ground work for a Federation presence. This time things were different. She had done her work. She had gone back to the Delta Quadrant and laid the foundation for generations to come, she had opened the door to countless new worlds to bring their uniqueness to the Federation. Allies were being made, pacts being formed. And she was the one who was at the lead of it all. It hadn’t been enough to just make her way through the Delta Quadrant alive and to bring her crew home to be welcomed as the triumphant hero’s they were. She had to be right in the thick of the development and the progress being made. She had done all of that. She had paved the road, now it was up to others to travel it. Home was calling to her stronger than it ever had and home was Chakotay and Katie and the new little life that was growing within her. She didn’t care where they were, just so long as the future held a together for them.

“Captain Janeway! Captain Janeway!”

Kathryn turned and found herself being charged by Neelix. She broke into a smile. She hadn’t seen him in person since they’d left him behind on the station with his future wife and step-son. She opened her arms and he grabbed her in a full hug. “Neelix! It’s wonderful to see you!”

“And you as well! I have heard tales of all of the wonderful things you are accomplishing here.” He said as they strolled along the promenade.

“Yes, and I also heard the Federation officially designated you an ambassador and a liaison. Congratulations, Neelix.”

Neelix grinned. “It keeps me busy. Did I tell you Dexa is pregnant again? It’s a boy. We’ve decided on Neelix Jr.”

“Neelix, again! How many little ones do you have?” Kathryn asked. She was so happy for him and the happiness he had found.

“We have Brax, the twins Kathryn and Kes, and Neelix Jr. on the way.”

“That is simply wonderful. And, if you can keep a secret…” she wasn’t going to tell anyone until she told Chakotay and Katie but she figured Neelix was safe. He and Naomi regularly sent letters back and forth but that shouldn’t pose a problem. She intended to be back to Earth soon just in case he let her news slip.

“I have always been able to keep your secrets, Captain,” he told her.

“I am expecting as well.”

Neelix gave her a confused look. “But Captain…”

She waved him off. “It’s a long, sad story, Neelix, but let’s just say I am on my way back to Earth to try to make things right.”

Neelix flashed her a renewed smile. “I hope for the best for you and Chakotay.”

Kathryn welcomed the pause as a means to change the conversation. “So what brings you so far from home?”

“I was sent here to meet a representative of the Drayan home world. They are seeking admittance to the Federation.” Kathryn thought back to their early years in the Delta Quadrant.

"Aren’t they the species that ages backwards? They send their elderly, who appear as children, to the planets moon to die? The moon Tuvok crash landed on?”

“The very same. Despite the confusion that occurred on that incident of first contact they were impressed by Voyager and our technology. When they heard the Federation was accepting applications from potential new Delta Quadrant planets, they requested consideration.”

“I am glad to hear our rough beginnings didn’t have a lasting negative affect,” Kathryn told him. “When is your meeting?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“We plan to leave in two days. If you’re finished with your business on the station we could take you back home. I am sure you don’t want to be away from Dexa any longer than necessary. And I would love to meet your family. ”

“No. She is due in a few weeks and I miss the kids terribly. I remember back when Kes first asked me to become a father. I was wrought with indecision and worry but now… well the more the merrier. Having Naomi and Brax in my life was like practice and when Dexa and I got married I was ready for anything. The twins were a complete surprise and a lot more work but Brax is a great big brother. He is a lot of help for Dexa and me. I am sure your namesake would love to meet you, as would the rest of the family.”

“Well, how about we have some lunch and you can tell me all of the stories from the homestead?”

“Sounds like a date, Captain. And I can even recommend a place, come with me.”

Kathryn followed him to a little restaurant in a quiet corner of the station. She hadn’t been able to read the name on the sign but the smells were inviting. The atmosphere was dim and subdued. It appeared to be a very classy place.

“This is my favorite place on this station. The only place on a Starfleet installation that serves cuisine made with real leola root.”

With a look of worry, Kathryn began to question the wisdom of allowing Neelix to chose the location for lunch. She should have known he would pick a place, in fact the only place, that served leola root! She accepted a menu from the waiter and began to review it for dishes that didn’t contain leola root.

“The leola root pasta is my absolute favorite accompanied with the glazed gasche with steamed Talaxian tomatoes,” he told her.

Kathryn finally settled on the leola and ginger soup, a salad with creamy leloa dressing and a spiced leola tea. There was no avoiding the leola root as it seemed the specialty of this particular diner was just that.

“Don’t worry, Captain. They use leola in everything they make here, but to varying degrees. Trust me, you won’t even notice it.”

Kathryn smiled, she highly doubted that. “So you remember my and other crew members particular distaste for leola?”

“I know it wasn’t the most popular little root but it got us through a lot of bad times, didn’t it?”

She couldn’t deny that. That nasty little root had made some palatable concoctions and there had been times if it hadn’t been for the creativity of the little Talaxian they would have probably starved. He had been a very pivotal member of their crew. Had they not made it home so soon after his departure she was sure he was going to be sorely missed as the journey wore on. She was glad it hadn’t. He had an inevitable ability to see the glass as half full in any situation no matter how dire.

They were half way through their meal when she heard someone yelling her name from across the restaurant.

“Captain Janeway!” She turned and found herself staring at a young Ensign whom she didn’t recognize. She waved her arm, signaling for the Ensign to approach her table.

“Ma’am, you have a message from the Alpha Quadrant, priority alpha,” he told her. "The internal comm system is down for maintenance so I was sent to find you personally," he explained before she asked.

Kathryn no longer felt hungry despite the fact that the ginger soup and salad were actually tasting wonderful. “Excuse me, Neelix.” Alpha priority was nothing to joke about. It meant it was important. Odd that he didn’t say it was from Starfleet Command. Who else would need to contact her with such urgency? “Where’s the nearest office?” she asked the young man.

“Just down the corridor. I’ll take you there, Ma’am,” he told her and lead the way out of the restaurant. They rounded the corner and he gestured to the door to the office of the chief of security. She keyed the chime for admittance.

“Come,” a woman’s voice requested.

Kathryn stepped into the room and found herself starting at a lovely, young woman in security yellow. Her pips told Kathryn she was a Lieutenant Commander. Apparently she had ascended the ranks quickly. “May I use your terminal? I have an urgent message from the Alpha Quadrant.”

“Of course. I’ll step out for a moment, Captain.”

“Thank you.” Kathryn slid into the chair at the desk and brought up the transmission log and accessed the message. She was shocked to see Chakotay’s face on the screen but shock turned to concern at the look in his eyes.

“Kathryn, Katie has run away. I didn’t want to concern you because I know you are busy and I thought she would come back after she cooled off, but it has been nearly three days. She didn’t leave a note and I can’t find her anywhere. Security has combed the surface of Trebus and no one can find her. I have a feeling she is no longer on the surface of the planet but I don’t know how that is possible. Please, Kathryn, I beg you to come. I’ll be on Trebus waiting for your transmission.”

Kathryn felt her heart sink and worry began to consume her body. What had happened that had made Katie run away? So many questions had to be answered before she had the right to decide who to be angry at. What if she had been kidnapped? “Computer begin transmission.” She paused for the computer beep to signal the beginning of her message. “Chakotay, I received your message. I don’t know what happened there but I am on my way home. I will meet you on Trebus in one day’s time.” She ended the transmission and tried to gather her wits about her. Her little girl was missing. And she hadn’t been there to protect her. What made Chakotay think she had run away? The daughter of Kathryn Janeway would be a valuable hostage to someone who wanted to begin a galactic war.

An alert flashed on the screen, directed to let the security chief know that the station's internal comm system was back online, but could experience sporadic outages over the coming 24 hours. Kathryn knew she wouldn't be around long enough to worry about it. 

“Janeway to Hale, emergency recall of all crew. Tell Jenkins to bring the transwarp engines back online. I don’t care if she had to stick the parts together with bubble gum. I want those engines within the half hour. Have helm lay in a course for Trebus and clear our departure from the station. I’ll explain later. Janeway out.”

She waved a thank you to the security chief and jogged towards the corridor that would lead her back to her ship. She slapped her comm. badge. “Janeway to Neelix.”

“Neelix here,” he replied. “Is everything okay, Captain?”

“It was a message from Chakotay. Katie has been missing for three days. I’m headed back to the Alpha Quadrant right now. I guess we will have to delay meeting your family.”

“I understand, Captain. I hope Katie is okay. Good luck to you.”

“Thank you, Neelix. Janeway out.”

As soon as she set foot on her ship she broke into a run for the nearest lift that would dump her out onto the bridge. She was ready to leave. Now.

“Report,” she snapped as she exited the lift.

“More than half of the crew have returned to the ship. The course is laid in and we are cleared for launch. I am still waiting in Jenkins and the transwarp drive,” Hale told her. “Captain, what is the emergency.”

“My daughter has gone missing from her home on Trebus and can’t be found. I don’t know what the circumstances are, but we know what a valuable hostage she would be in the wrong hands.”

“I understand, Captain.”

“Janeway to Jenkins.”

“Jenkins here, Captain.”

“How long until we have transwarp? I want to be back in the Alpha Quadrant by dinner time.”

“Captain, we had the drive scattered in pieces on the floor of the engine room, it takes time.”

“Don’t talk to me about time, Lieutenant, unless you are giving me a time when I will have transwarp at my disposal,” she snapped.

“Captain, I have medics assembling the drive. Give me a half an hour.”

“You have fifteen minutes. Janeway out."

She paced the bridge back and forth like a caged animal. She wasn’t getting any closer to Katie by sitting here at DS13. Her little girl was out there in the universe somewhere, alone or, worse, with strangers and she was probably scared.

“Captain, all crew are accounted for,” Hale told her, finally.

“Good. Helm, lay in a course for Trebus at maximum warp. Engage at transwarp as soon as we have the ability.” She finally calmed her nerves enough to sit in her chair. Now that they had transwarp capabilities, warp 9.9 wasn’t nearly fast enough or the most ideal way to travel. She remembered when they were facing the prospect of a 70 year journey and that was if they could sustain maximum warp the entire way. Now, they could cross that void in just hours. Their own galaxy was now opened up and next Starfleet had plans to set course for Andromeda for exploration. But, Kathryn knew that wouldn’t be her mission. She planned to be home with her children when Starfleet launched that mission in the future.

******

Katie popped the top on the cargo container. This was the third time in as many days she had been brave enough to venture out of her hiding place. The first day she had only spent about an hour stretching her legs while yesterday she spent most of the day out and about. She had eaten some of the moon berries, knowing a couple of handfuls wouldn’t be noticed and she had eaten her daily rations. It was almost like a picnic. She had laid her small blanket out on the floor and opened her canteen and snacked on berries and rations. As she climbed out of the bin and settled down onto the floor, she began hoping they were getting close to Earth. She was starting to miss socializing with people and being able to breathe fresh air. And her mother lived on a starship for months on end? Katie certainly couldn’t see the allure of life in space. How much fun was it to look at bulk heads all day versus looking at a sunset or rolling green hills or the majestic mountains that rose out of the ground and seemed to touch the sky? She didn’t think she could ever give up living on solid ground. Katie reclined back against the bin and tried to focus on the padd in her hand. It was her twelve times tables. She wanted her mother to be proud of her when she returned. She wanted for her to know she had mastered the times tables all by herself without help from anyone. She couldn’t concentrate. The numbers seemed to blur together and all she could think about was her parents and whether or not they were going to be mad at her for taking off on her own. She hoped they were at least able to admire her dedication and her resourcefulness at finding a way back to Earth all by herself. She hated Trebus. Ever since the moment she had arrived. It was too hot and there was too much dirt. It had been nothing like the rolling hills and fields of Indiana or the dry heat of Arizona. She had loved Arizona because it had been hot yet close to the ocean. She’d had a big yard to play in and if she wanted to see the desert it was just beyond her back yard. Her best friend Miral was only a transport away, too. She missed Miral a lot. Despite her occasional lapse of temper, she was so much fun. She was always getting them into mischief and of course she practically lived in a twentieth century museum.

Katie munched on her rations and decided that before she made her way to Grandma Gretchen she would transport to see Miral. She hoped Uncle Tom and Aunt B’Elanna didn’t try to stop her from leaving once they found out she was alone. Hopefully the web she was spinning would be successful. First it required getting her parents together. That was the key. She hoped that as soon as she had gone missing her dad had called her mom and she hoped her mom cared enough about her to come hurrying back from the Delta Quadrant to help search for her. That would get them together. Katie knew that by the time she arrived at Grandma Gretchen’s home in Indiana her disappearance would have been all the talk of the Federation. After all, Captain Janeway’s daughter didn’t just disappear without it becoming an interstellar headline. Grandma Gretchen would call her mom and dad and they would rush to wrap her in their arms, thankful she was okay. If all went as planned, they would realize just how important it was to have their family together and they would kiss and make up. Katie knew she could have dealt without the kissing and mushy part, but if it made them realize how much they missed each other and how much they really cared about each other, it would be okay.

It all began because of Charlotte’s Web. If a little spider could save the life of a common pig, surly she could save the relationship of both of her parents. Just because she was small didn’t mean she couldn’t accomplish great things. After all, Charlotte had been no bigger than her fist and she managed to make an entire countryside believe that Wilbur was some terrific, radiant, humble pig. If she was capable of all that, surly Katie was perfectly capable of monumental tasks!

Suddenly a buzzer sounded, making her jump. Terror was struck into her heart as she threw her stuff back into the bin. She couldn’t get caught, not this late in the game. She climbed up into the bin and pulled the lid closed. She had no idea if it was an alarm to notify someone that there was a life sign in the cargo bay or if it was the red alert alarm. All she knew was she could not be found. She wished she knew how close they were to Earth.

“Attention all hands, prepare cargo for transport.”

Katie nearly yelped with excitement. It was almost as though someone had heard her ask and provided an answer. She was nearly to earth! She was going to be able to breathe fresh air and bask in the heat of the sun! She was almost home! She would wait a few hours before she ventured outside the container. She had no idea what time of day it was on earth and she had no idea where in San Francisco she was being transported. Once everything was quiet around her she would poke head out and see if it were clear for her to venture out of her hiding place.

Katie felt her container suddenly shift and then there was a bump. She hoped it was the crew moving the container into a better transport position. Perhaps grouping like containers together for transport to different locations on Earth. She fumbled around and found her tricorder and scanned. There were three humanoids in the vicinity of her bin. They were moving the bins and crates around and, as she suspected, grouping them together. Then suddenly they were gone. She knew she had dematerialized and must now be on earth. She swept the area. There were at least half a dozen humanoids around and she hoped that they didn’t decide to scan or check the transport they had just received. She hadn’t thought of that. But, it didn’t look as though any of them were paying much attention to the newly arrived bins. They seemed to be concentrated in a corner of the room. She was curious to know what they were doing. Daringly, Katie popped the lid just enough to see outside and she found herself staring at the ocean. She had made it! She was in a warehouse on Earth in San Francisco and she knew she must have been staring at the Pacific Ocean through the open warehouse door! She scanned the room again. The humanoids hadn’t changed location and there weren’t any other’s in the area. Perhaps she should make a break for it while it was still daylight. She closed the tricorder and maneuvered her position in the bin so she could pack everything into her bag. When she was sure she had everything secured she lifted the lid and climbed down to the floor and snapped it back closed. She made for the open warehouse doors and as she rounded a corner she ran face first into a burly human.

“What are you doing in here, kid?” he demanded as she jumped back.

“I’m very sorry, sir. I must have taken a wrong turn. I’ll be on my way now.” She hurried away from him before daring to stop to open her bag and pull out her hat. She wanted to cover her head and shield her face so she wasn’t as quickly recognized just in case her disappearance was interstellar headline news. If her face were plastered on the video casts, her mother’s blue eyes and auburn hair would give her away for sure. Katie took one last look at the ocean and breathed in the salty air. She was home. She had really done it! She was finally home. She turned on her heel and flipped open the tricorder to locate the nearest transporter padd so she could visit Miral and her Aunt and Uncle.

******

“Assuming standard orbit of Trebus, Ma’am,” the conn Lieutenant announced as Janeway jumped to her feet.

“Prepare to begin transporting search teams. Don’t do anything until you hear from me. I’m going down first. Commander, you have the bridge.” She was already in the turbolift by the time she finished her sentence. She couldn’t believe Katie had run away from Chakotay. She had always seemed so happy when she was with her father. It was hard to believe that things had changed that drastically or she was that unhappy being on Trebus. When she reached the transporter room, she stepped up onto the pad with a nod to the transporter chief. “Energize,” she ordered.

As soon as her vision returned, Kathryn allowed her eyes to sweep the landscape. It was not that unlike Earth now that the reconstruction had begun, but it was hot. It was almost a full five degrees Celsius hotter than Earth’s average climate. And humid too. Her lungs made her very aware of the thickness of the air as soon as she took her first breath. It reminded her of the rain forest preserves on Earth. She should have figured that was why Chakotay had preferred his home world of Trebus over Earth. She admired his quaint little home as she approached. It even looked like Chakotay. Rustic and very earthly. She could certainly see him living in such a humble abode. Kathryn sighed. She wasn’t ready for this confrontation. She was not sure she was ready to join forces with him to find Katie let alone tell him about the secret she carried within her womb, but she didn’t have much of a choice. Perhaps she would save the secret until they had Katie safe and sound in their arms. She knocked on the door and her heart nearly broke when he opened it. He looked like he had aged ten years over the course of the three months she had been gone and she suspected it was mostly during the past three days. He looked wrought with worry and as though he had not slept in three days. He probably hadn’t. She knew when she had tried to sleep she had tossed and turned as her mind had been preoccupied with worry about Katie.

“Kathryn, I’m so glad you came,” he immediately wrapped her into a hug then remembered himself and pulled back.

“I don’t know what made her run away. She has had a little difficulty adjusting but she has seemed fine, for the most part.”

“Chakotay?” A woman’s voice interrupted them and Kathryn leaned so she could see into the house behind Chakoaty. She found herself staring into the eyes of a lovely woman with auburn hair and black eyes. She was Bajoran/Betazoid. Kathryn felt her mood darken and she starred daggers at the woman.

Chakotay turned as the woman approached. “Kathryn,…” he began.

“So you’re legendary Kathryn Janeway.” Cyrie said curtly.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name or title,” Kathryn fired back. She felt her defenses rallying.

“Cyrie. Chakotay and I have been seeing each other for about two months now,” she announced with a smug look upon her face.

Kathryn tried to keep her cool façade from shattering at that very moment. Chakotay had moved on. He had left her in the dust and had moved forward with his personal life. What a fool she had been for thinking he would be sitting around waiting for her to come coasting back from the Delta Quadrant, despite her intentions of her Dear John letter to leave possibilities open. He certainly hadn’t anticipated the surprise she had been hoping to share with him once they found Katie.

“Well, I can certainly understand why Katie may have run off, now,” Kathryn bit out past her darkening mood. “I have my crew assembled to scour the surface of the planet. I want to exhaust the possibility she could be here before we start widening the search and accept the conclusion that she is probably no longer on Trebus.”

Chakotay couldn’t help the bit of a grin that was pulling at the corners of his mouth. Always Captain Janeway to the rescue. She was so planned and well thought out. If she was truly worried about Katie, her training as a Starfleet Captain didn’t allow her to show it emotionally, though with her now involved in the search, he had no doubt that they would find Katie.

“Janeway to Delta-Voyager, beam down the search parties.”

“Aye Captain.”

Chakotay turned to Cyrie. “I want you to stay here in case she comes back.”

Cyrie was silent. She had been reading the emotions that were playing back and forth between the divorced pair. Despair and disappointment from Janeway as well as jealousy and excitement and contentment and reassurance from him. She could sense that he was almost joyous to see her. She had been very excited to see him as well, until she had walked into Janeway’s line of sight. Cyrie had been about ready to open her mind to Janeway’s thoughts when Chakotay interrupted. “I should be at your side,” she protested. She wasn’t about ready to let the two of them out of her sight alone. After the amount of electricity that seemed to radiate from them, she was afraid of what would happen.

“I need you here. If she comes back and no one is here she may take off again,” he insisted. He wanted a moment alone with Kathryn.

Cyrie relented. She knew she was not going to get anywhere with him and she did not want to argue with him in front of Janeway. That would only give her the impression that there were instabilities in their relationship.

Together, Chakotay and Kathryn headed away from the house and Cyrie watched after him. She couldn’t help but be irritated by the whole situation. All of this because of the fact that their child had an extraordinary devotion to her absent mother.

“I hadn’t realized you had moved on,” Kathryn stated evenly. She did not want to appear as though she were overly interested or beginning an aggressive conversation.

“Did you really expect me to stay alone for the rest of my life, Kathryn? Not all of us have Starfleet to fill that void in our lives,” he replied back, perhaps a little harsher than he had intended.

Kathryn recoiled. “I wasn’t trying to pry. If you are happy…” she drifted off. If he was happy, what? She wished him well? Hoped for the best? If she said any of that she would be lying.

“Maybe Katie should come live with me after this is all over,” she attempted to turn the topic of conversation. She didn’t have the stomach to discuss his romantic life.

Chakotay stopped dead in his tracks. “On the Delta-Voyager? Hardly.”

“No. I mean with me. In San Francisco. I haven’t informed anyone yet, but when this is all over with, I plan to step down and recommend Harry for command of the Delta Voyager,” she told him. She was hoping to avoid the question of why but she wasn’t that lucky.

“Why did you suddenly come to that decision?” he asked as they trudged onward, unknowingly retracting Katie’s exact steps.

Kathryn smiled slyly. “We’ll just say I was inspired. In fact, I may leave Starfleet all together,” she continued.

He grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. He looked her over hard, as though he were looking for evidence that she had gone out of her mind. What she was telling him was all he had ever wanted from her.

“It’s really me, Chakotay. I haven’t lost it. I went back to the Delta Quadrant to lay the foundation for decades to come. I’m not only famous, I’m infamous. I have accomplished things we never thought were possible and I am done. I have other things in life I want to explore.”

Chakotay remained silent as they continued onward. Could she really be telling the truth? Was it possible she had really decided to give up everything that had been her life for nearly four decades? She had told him she had started training herself for the Academy when she was a young child. It had been her life’s dream to be part of Starfleet. Could she really walk away from all of that? Could he believe her?

“Do you think she could be in there?” Kathryn pointed to a warehouse as they came over a rise and into the town.

“It looks like a big enough place to hide.”

“Let’s take a look.” Kathryn whipped out her tricorder and began scanning the area for traces of her missing daughter. A hair follicle, a drip of saliva, skin flakes from being scratched by a tree or a bush. Anything that would give them a clue. Then they got their biggest. They found a strand of her auburn hair wrapped around a twig of a tree only twenty meters from the warehouse. “She was here,” Kathryn whispered as she scanned the hair and double checked the DNA match.

“Don’t get overly excited. It just means her hair is here. It could have blown here,” he cautioned.

Kathryn ignored him. “I would have come to a place like this to hide. Think, Chakotay. There must be hundreds of containers and bins for her to hide in, not to mention food and water."

“She’s only six years old, Kathryn. Do you really think she would have thought of such a thing?” Chakotay rethought his words after they had left his mouth. She was, after all, the daughter of Kathryn Janeway. He had already found her to be very intelligent and resourceful.

Kathryn just gave him a look and she knew he was already rethinking what he had just said. She came to the door of the warehouse and scanned it for traces of their little girl’s DNA. She wasn’t at all surprised to find that her hands had touched that very door. Kathryn opened it and headed inside. She set her tricorder to do a wide sweep of the area but came up empty. Katie had been there and already gone.

What if… no, she couldn’t have. Could she?

Kathryn had an idea suddenly electrify her mind and she realized what Katie had done and where Katie had went. It all became clear as though she were reading the very thoughts of her daughter. "Did she leave any kind of clue, any kind of note. Tell me about the exact moment you discovered she was missing."

Chakotay thought for a moment. "I went into her room and called for her, thinking she was sleeping, but when I pulled back the covers there was nothing but some pillows and a globe of Earth of make it look like she was sleeping in her bed under the blankets."

“She went home, Chakotay.” Kathryn told him as she snapped her tricorder closed. “Don’t you see? It all makes sense. She made her way to the warehouse, perhaps discovered a shipment Earth bound, packaged herself up nice and nearly and shipped herself home.”

“But wouldn’t someone have noticed?”

Kathryn waved her hand about. “Look at this place? Do you think anyone really does a serious inventory of these containers? She could have hid in one easily. Where would we find a record of ships going to Earth?”

“If we can find their computer, I have priority access,” he told her.

"I'll bet Katie has seen you enter your code dozens of times, hasn't she?"

"Yes, she likes to sit on my lap while I work, so she would probably know how to operate the computer, too."

It didn’t take them long to find the office. He knocked on the door and a pleasant looking woman allowed them access to the computer system once he identified himself and explained what they were looking for. After a few moments, Chakotay pointed to the screen. “Here it is. It’s a ship called Mercedes. It transported a load of moon berries to San Francisco this week. From the report it was due to drop off it’s load this morning!”

“That’s our best bet. Janeway to Delta-Voyager, two to beam up.”

“Kathryn?”

“I assumed…” she began but was cut off as she dematerialized. Once they were on the Delta-Voyager they headed towards the bridge.

“I didn’t anticipate coming with you.”

“I assumed you wanted to. I can have them transport you back.”

“No, I just need to contact Cyrie and let her know what is going on,” he told her.

Kathryn grimaced at the mention of the young woman she had already tried to forget about who was waiting at his home. “You can do that from the bridge. Janeway to Bridge.”

“Go ahead, Captain.”

“Recall the away teams. We are headed to Earth. Contact Starfleet and let them know our E.T.A. Lay in a course at maximum warp.”

It felt good to have a ship that she didn’t have to worry about whether or not the warp drive was doing to run out of dylithium at the next solar system.

“It’s a beautiful ship, Kathryn,” he told her as they jogged along the corridors.

“That it is. It’s hard to say goodbye to it, but I no where near as hard as leaving Voyager. This ship can take me home whenever I feel the desire. It has brought me through some rough spots, but nothing like Voyager. Maybe I was trying to recapture that feeling,” Kathryn said wistfully as she looked around.

“I’m not as attached to the crew. We don’t laugh and joke and play on the holodeck like I did with the crew of Voyager.”

“So I heard.”

Kathryn gave him a confused look. “What does that mean?”

“I still converse with people. I was told Henley was on board and that you never sought her out, despite the fact that she was a loyal, dedicated crewman on Voyager. She told us you were mostly withdrawn and lived in your ready room or your quarters unless there was a chance for shore leave or an away mission.”

She thought about that for a moment then finally replied. “I guess I have been very closeted. Life hasn’t exactly turned out how I had hoped and I came out of our divorce as the bad guy all around. It was easier to just hide my face and turn tail and sever ties than face the music.”

Their conversation was ended abruptly as they were dumped out onto the bridge by the lift.

Chakotay couldn’t help but look around. The entire crew seemed to work as one efficient machine and the bridge itself was very state of the art. As Kathryn stepped up to the elevated command level he was transported back to the first moment he had laid eyes on her on Voyager’s bridge. Not when he had seen her on his view screen but when he had rematerialized on Voyager’s bridge and stood face to face with the powerful, petite woman. His heart knew he would follow her anywhere and he had betrayed his heart. He hadn’t followed her anywhere but let her take off, leaving him in her wake. She was so strikingly beautiful as she stood in the center of the bridge with her hands on her hips.

“Commander, have all of the away teams returned?”

Chakotay had to bite his tongue to silence his response. He had almost started to answer her but quickly remembered that he was not her Commander any longer. He was simply Chakotay, retired from Starfleet and this was part of his past. But she was not. His beautiful Captain, his withdrawn ex-wife, she was as beautiful as the first moment he met her.

“Yes, Captain. All present and accounted for.”

“Good. Helm, engage,” She ordered then sat in her chair. She gestured to the chair to her right and motioned for him to sit.

Hale took the position of first officer on her left. Chakotay eyed Hale. He didn’t look like the type of officer Janeway would have chosen as a first officer. From his appearance, Chakotay could read that he was a yes man. He probably didn’t challenge her at all and was probably a good little lap dog. Everything Janeway ordered or said was probably followed with approval from him. When he had been first officer to Kathryn, if he felt she was wrong he had challenged her, questioned her, and even told her of his disapproval. Despite their clashes on certain matters, they had worked in concert, moving as easily as instruments in a symphony transitioned from melody and counter-melody to harmonize together. With Janeway and Hale, it was probably more like her leading a stampede and him trying desperately to keep up. He couldn’t help but snicker a little at the mental imagery but quickly silenced himself when she threw a glance in his direction. He caught her eyes and felt the breath sucked right out of him and he flashed back to Voyager again. They had played this game for years. She would glance his way, hold the gaze for a moment, then turn as though the heat of his returned gaze was too much for her. They had made a good team. It was a shame they had lost the magic.

******

“Katie!” Miral cried out as she bolted across the lawn to greet her friend. “I have missed you very much.”

Katie grabbed Miral in a hug. She couldn’t wait to tell her of the adventure she had. “I missed you too! I think you got taller while I was gone again!”

Miral was only a year and a half older than Katie but due to her Klingon heritage, she stood a full head taller than her young friend who was fully human.

“I like what you did with your hair,” Katie told her as they sat down at the picnic table in the back yard of the Paris home.

Miral had probably the most unruly hair in the entire Alpha Quadrant. It always wanted to stick straight out from her head. It was nearly jet black, thick and frizzy. Another thing inherited from her Klingon genes. Miral was only a quarter Klingon and her forehead ridges were even less pronounced than her mother’s who was half Klingon. She had certainly inherited the stubborn streak from her mother but her father’s sense of humor. She was always up to something and getting into some kind of trouble.

“Do you? Mom told me she used to do something similar when she was younger. It is just so hard to manage sometimes.” Miral reached up and toyed with the braids at her temples. “The rest I just smooth down with a spray gel.”

“It looks pretty. I like the beads too,” Katie told her, admiring the pink and purple beads that held the ends of the braids together.

“So, how did you get here all alone?” Miral asked anxiously, noticing she didn't see her Uncle or the Captain anywhere.

“It wasn’t that hard, really. In fact, it was easier than I expected. I managed to find a bin of moon berries that were being transported to Earth. I hid in side of one of the bins for three days on the cargo ship and then abracadabra, they transported me here, to San Francisco!” Katie grinned at her ingenuity.

Miral clapped her hands together. “Bravo! I am very happy you came home. I have been terribly lonely since you have been gone. So, now what? Are you going to live here with us? I am sure my parents would say yes.”

“No. As a last resort if my plan doesn’t work, I will but I am hoping to get my mom and dad back together. That is why I decided to do this. I am weaving a web and I want to catch them in it,” Katie confided in her friend.

“How do you plan to do that?”

“If dad called mom and told her I was missing she probably came back from the Delta Quadrant to help him find me. I know I have probably been on the newscasts so everyone is aware that I am missing. I am counting on the fact that your parents will try to contact them to let them know I am here. When I leave here, I will be waiting at Grandma Gretchen’s home in Indiana. If they show up together then everything should fall into place on it’s own.” Katie explained.

Miral was impressed. Katie was much younger than she but she already sounded much smarter. She was only six years old and she came up with the plan all on her own. “Wow! That’s amazing.”

“Katie Janeway!” a female voice boomed from behind her.

“The entire quadrant has been on alert looking for you. Where have you been?” a male voice continued.

Katie turned and found herself staring at her Aunt B’Elanna and Uncle Tom before she was swept into their arms and held tightly. She began to wonder if they were going to release her so she could breathe. She squirmed a little to make them aware of her need for oxygen.

“We have to contact Janeway and Chakotay,” B’Elanna stated as she gave her one final squeeze and settled her back on the ground.

“What were you thinking, running away from home?” Tom demanded as he knelt down to her level.

“I wasn't at home, so how could I have run away from it? This is my home and this is where I wanted to be." she replied. She didn’t intend to tell them the entire story. They probably wouldn’t understand because they were grown-ups, like her parents. She had come to the decision that grown-ups understood very little about children.

Tom and B’Elanna shared a knowing look before B’Elanna said: “Miral, don’t let her out of your sight. We’re going to call her parents and let them know we found her.”

Katie waited until they had disappeared into the house before she turned to Miral. “I have to go now. Tell them I ran from you and escaped over the fence.”

“Good luck, Katie.” Miral hugged her friend one last time then watched as she climbed over the fence. She waited a full five minutes before running into the house and interrupting her parent’s conversation with Katie’s parents. “Katie ran away again!”

“Where did she go?” Tom demanded.

“I don’t know. I think she said something about going to Indiana.” Miral said.

“Don’t worry about it, Tom. We’ll be in orbit this afternoon. She is probably headed to my mother’s house. We’ll meet her there, Delta-Voyager out.” Janeway closed the comm. signal.

“Do you really think that’s where she is going?” Chakotay asked as he took a seat in one of the chairs across the desk from her.

“Probably. She knows I’m not on Earth and I don’t know of anywhere else in Indiana she would be going,” Janeway replied. “I told you she went home.”

“And I didn’t think you knew her at all,” he replied a little too honestly as he reclined back.

Kathryn nearly cringed at, but realized he didn't seem perturbed so she contorted the cringe into a smiled. “I know her enough to know she thinks like me. She was homesick and obviously unhappy on Trebus.”

Chakotay decided it was time to tell her. “She didn’t like Cyrie. I brought Cyrie home from work for dinner and Katie turned her nose up at her immediately and gave me the infamous Janeway look. I felt as though I had frost forming on my face by the time she finally turned and headed to her room. It was only two days after that when she disappeared.”

“I see. While I am happy for you, I think the implications of your relationship on Katie need to be examined.” Kathryn tried to be as polite and nice about it as she possibly could.

“You didn’t appear to thrilled to learn about Cyrie,” he pointed out. It was time he got to the root of the issue that caused Kathryn to react to Cyrie like an invader in her territory.

“It was just a shock.” Kathryn tried to brush him off. She didn’t want to discuss this. Not now. There were too many other pressing issues and this was not one she wanted to lay on the table.

Chakotay wasn’t going to relent. They were going to discuss this before they reached Earth and before they reached Katie. “It was more than shock, Kathryn. You reacted as though you were jealous that I had moved on.”

Kathryn recoiled. He was going to push her into this and she hadn’t had time to prepare for the possible emotional backlash that would come from a conversation of this nature. “I just wish I had been warned, that’s all.” She played him off again. She stood and moved away from the desk to distance herself from him. She couldn’t look at him and lie to him.

Chakotay doubled his resolve. He was going to make her tell him exactly what she had been feeling. Hell or high water, she was going to admit what he saw in her eyes and heard in her voice. “I am not the enemy, Kathryn. I never tried to do anything that would hurt you.” He came up behind her and stood as physically close to her as he could without touching her. “Kathryn,” he whispered, calling to her, willing her to open up to him.

Kathryn felt her shell being eradicated by his closeness, his voice, his breath in her hair. She wanted to break down and tell him she was sorry, but that was not becoming of a Starfleet Captain and she was still wearing the uniform. She wanted him to take her into his arms and tell her everything was going to be all right between them. She wanted to fix what they had broken so long ago. Was it possible? Could they go back? She turned and faced him, her blue eyes sparkling as bright as diamonds. “I wanted to tell you, but I was afraid,” she whispered as she took his hand and laid it on her belly.

Chakotay gave her a curious look before the realization hit home. He ran his hand over the small swell of her belly and nearly broke down and cried as he suddenly understood. “No, Kathryn…It can’t be…” The dreams he’d had, her invasion into his sleeping world, the dreams of holding her pregnant body against his, the dream of discussing names for a boy child… It wasn’t true, it was too good to be true…

Anger engulfed her as she shoved his hand away and stormed off towards the view port to lose herself in the stars. She knew it. She should have know he wasn’t going to be happy. “I guess this doesn’t fit in with your happy life scenario with Cy-what’s-her-name. I am sorry to have burdened you, Chakotay.”

Chakotay felt as though he had been slapped in the face. Didn’t fit into his life? This was everything he could have hoped for! She was crazy to believe he wasn’t elated about this! “Kathryn, I didn't mean... I couldn’t have asked for something more perfect to happen!” He crossed the distance between them and took her into his arms.

Kathryn reached up and wiped at her tears of anger and sadness. “You’re happy? You said no…”

“I was overcome by the news. I am ecstatic!” he told her as he used his thumb to wipe the tear form cheek. “Kathryn, I failed you. When I first laid eyes upon you on Voyager’s bridge, I made a promise in my heart to follow you anywhere and I didn’t keep that promise. I let our love be divided by something as simple as where we were to live. I vow to you, if you let me back in, I will never do that again.”

Kathryn started crying all over again. “Damn pregnancy hormones,” she hissed as she wiped at the fresh tears. “I am sorry for all of the pain I have caused you, Chakotay. I never wanted to hurt you or Katie and I ended up doing both. Because of my stubbornness and determination to make a difference in the universe I hardly even know my own daughter. I can’t do that again.”

Chakotay pulled her into his arms and pulled her head against his chest. “Kathryn, it’s all right,” he tried to soothe her. He felt a wave of relief wash through his body as he held her in his arms. It was as though his heart had been living in a cage since she had left and now it was finally free. The love he thought had faded rushed back in to claim it’s place.

Kathryn tipped her teary eyed face to towards him. “I wish I could take back the last two years,” she told him. She felt as though a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She did still love him. She had never stopped loving him, her heart had just been in the wrong place. It belonged wherever he was. It felt good to be in his arms.

“Bridge to Janeway, we’re approaching Earth.”

Kathryn pulled her wits about her and dried her eyes.

“Understood. Assume standard orbit. Chakotay and I will be beaming down alone.”

“Aye, Captain. Bridge out.”

******

“Katie… What on Earth?” Gretchen asked as her granddaughter leapt into her arms.

“I came home, Grandma! Trebus was a dreadful place,” she told her Grandma as she allowed herself to be cradled in her arms and hugged and kissed.

“Mom, I could have sworn I heard… Katie!” Phoebe screeched as she knelt down and stole her niece from Gretchen’s arms.

“I thought we would never see you again. You have gotten so big!”

“I am sure your parents are worried sick!” Gretchen told her.

“Dad and mom are probably on their way. I think they know I am here.” Katie informed her proudly. “Do you have any caramel brownies, Grandma. I am very hungry. And some hot chocolate too, please.”

Gretchen shot a look at Phoebe to which Phoebe just shrugged her shoulders. “I think you have a story to tell us, Katie. How about you share it with us and I'll get you a brownie and some hot chocolate,” Gretchen suggested as she led her towards the kitchen. One thing was certain. She was not going to be letting Katie out of her sight until she heard from Chakotay or Kathryn.

“I missed home.” Katie told her Grandma as she put the hot chocolate on to warm and set the caramel brownies on the table.

Phoebe slid into a chair next to her niece and helped herself to one of her mom’s famous caramel brownies. She smiled as she bit into the warm, sticky center. It was these very brownies that brought Kathryn home from the Delta Quadrant. She was almost sure of it. After all, her beloved replicator couldn’t hold a candle to the real, homemade thing.

“So, how did you come to be here all alone?” Gretchen questioned as she served the hot chocolate and slid into a seat across from Katie and Phoebe.

"I shipped myself home in a cargo container to get my Dad and Mom back together," she said proudly.

Phoebe almost choked on her hot chocolate. In that moment, she knew that Katie was certainly her sister’s child. "Just that simple?"

“Lot's of things are simple when you are small and no one is expecting it of you,” Katie said through a sticky mouthful of caramel brownie. “And I am sure mom and dad are on their way here right now. In fact, if everything goes correctly, they should be arriving here in a couple hours.

Gretchen and Phoebe, once again, exchanged looks. “You mean they are coming together?” Gretchen asked. She didn’t want to get too hopeful. She hadn’t seen Kathryn but a couple of times since she had left Earth and took command of the new ship that took her back to the other side of the galaxy. She had been devastated by Chakotay’s decision to move Katie to Trebus and had even asked him to let her stay on Earth with either herself or Phoebe but he kindly declined. But, Gretchen didn’t know whether or be happy or worried that they would be arriving on Earth together. The last time she had spoke to Chakotay, Kathryn had left without so much as a goodbye. She hadn’t know what had happened between her and Chakotay the last time they were together but Gretchen suspected it had been emotionally tragic. Chakotay had seemed very dark and bitter. It was almost as though the angry warrior Kathryn had spun tales on had returned.

“That was my plan. Without having the powers of the Q, how else was I supposed to get them back together?” Katie asked as she finished off her first brownie and reached for a second one.

"And wherever did you come up with such an idea?" Phoebe questioned, also snagging a second brownie. 

"Well, if Charlotte the spider can weave a web and save Wilbur the pig, certainly I could weave my own and save my family," she said in a very matter-of-fact way. 

Gretchen and Phoebe were both stunned into silence at the ingenuity of the child. She had come up with an elaborate plan to bring her parents back together without any help or prompting. One had to admire her cunning and her determination, even if it was possibly a bad idea. Kathryn and Chakotay had parted ways on a somewhat sour note. It was unlikely they would be able to capture the magic they’d once shared when they were on Voyager and when they first arrived home. Both women decided not to spoil the dreams of the little girl. They would leave it to Kathryn and Chakotay to explain why they were divorced to Katie.

******

“Don’t you think we should have called ahead?” Chakotay asked as they headed towards the front door of the Janeway home.

“No. I didn’t want to give Katie the change to continue playing cat and mouse with us. She probably already knew we were coming. She had to have know Tom and B’Elanna would contact us,” Kathryn replied as the ascended the porch steps. She reached out her hand and rapped on the door. Despite her picking as a child and young adult, Gretchen had insisted that a knock at the door served the same purpose as a bell or a chime.

The next sequence of events were a blur to Kathryn as both her mother and her sister squeezed through the door frame at the same time to grab her in a hug. She fought to keep her balance as they nearly knocked her backwards off the porch.

“Kathryn, you’ve come home, again!” Phoebe squealed like an excited puppy.

“We’ve missed you terribly, Kathryn,” her mother whispered as tears splashed on her cheeks. “After Voyager, I thought you’d never go back… it’s been horrible with you gone again.”

Kathryn couldn’t hold back her own tears at her mother’s heartbreaking whisperings.

“I know, Mom. I am home for good now. I’ll tell you all about it.” When Kathryn pulled away from the entanglement of her mother and sister she found herself staring into her own eyes. Katie was standing in the doorway watching the scene, unnoticed and somewhat surprised. She had never seen her mother in an emotional state before. Kathryn looked to Chakotay for guidance and he smiled. He had missed Katie desperately but he knew enough to stand back and let mother and daughter face one another before he swept his runaway little girl into his arms and smothered her with kisses and happiness at the fact that she was safe and sound. Kathryn didn’t know how to proceed. She had never really bonded with Katie as mothers and daughters usually did. There had been a void separating them for so very long, she was uncertain how to even approach Katie. Instinct took over and Kathryn knelt down on her knees and held her arms out to Katie.

Katie looked at her mother curiously. She couldn’t really remember a time when her mother had shown this much emotion or even sought anything as affectionate as a hug from her. Her eyes found her father’s, seeking guidance regarding what she should do. When he jerked his chin towards her mother, Katie knew. She stepped into her mothers arms and wrapped her arms around her neck and in that moment, Katie knew she had never felt anything as sweet as her mothers hug.

“Katie-bug, I have been a dreadful mother to you. Can you ever forgive me?” Kathryn whispered in her ear. Holding Katie in her arms brought back a flood of emotion and memory from the first moment she had held her crying and pink in her arms.

“Only if you promise never to leave me again,” Katie replied.

Kathryn grinned through her tears. “I love you, Katie-bug and I promise I will never leave again, and if I do you will be by my side.”

Katie hugged her even tighter. “I love you too, Mommy.”

It was a long, silent moment before mother and daughter finally released one another, a relationship newly mended. Kathryn stood and let Chakotay sweep Katie into his arms and emotional tears were replaced by screeches of laughter from the little girl.

“I think you have an adventure to tell us about, Katie,” he said as he put her up on his shoulders and wrapped a protective arm around Kathryn. Things were certainly on the mend, for all of them. “But first, how would you feel if I told you that you are expecting a little brother or a little sister in a few months?”

Gretchen and Phoebe shot each other a surprised but relieved look as they followed Chakotay, Kathryn and Katie back into the house. They knew they would have plenty of time to smother the family, but decided to give them a bit of space for the moment.

Katie felt a satisfied grin spread across her face. She was not ignorant and she knew the basic ingredients for a baby to be made. She knew it took a man and a woman and they had to love each other very much before a baby could begin to grow in the mommy’s tummy. “I would say my plan to fix our family worked better than I had hoped it would,” she replied as he swung her down to her feet and the five of them sat down in the living room.

Kathryn gasped and Chakotay couldn’t help but laugh. He should have known that Katie was up to something when she took off. It wasn’t like her to do things without a purpose.

“You did this so your father and I would get back together?” Kathryn asked in shock.

Katie grinned proudly as she observed her parents cuddled together on the couch. They looked like her Aunt B’Elanna and Uncle Tom when they cuddled on the couch in front of the television at night. They were in love again and they were going to be a family again. It was all she could have hoped for. “It was all part of my web,” she told her mother. “I was like Charlotte. She saved Wilbur’s life in the story by spinning a web and I saved our family by running away and forcing the two of you to come together to find me.” She climbed into their laps and laid her head on her mother’s tummy. “And one day, I am going to tell the story of Katie’s Web to my little brother. That way, he will know how I fixed everything so he could be born.”

Epilogue-Nine Months Later

“And Kolotay, do you know what Charlotte did? She spun a web right there at the fair. She had written the word humble in the web because it fit Wilbur perfectly. Everyone was impressed that the miracle had made its way to the fair. Even though the pig in the next pen had won first prize, Wilbur was given a special medal of honor and the farmer promised that Wilbur could continue living. It was everything Wilbur and Charlotte had wanted! She had saved his life just like she had promised. But in saving his life, Charlotte gave her own. She worked very hard to save him and on her last night at the fair she had given every last bit of her energy to create an egg sac for her babies. Even though Charlotte died at the fair, Templeton helped retrieve the egg sac and Wilbur took the babies home to the farm with him. He protected them all winter and in the spring they hatched. Five hundred and eleven of the babies left to find their own place in the world, but three of Charlotte’s children stayed with Wilbur because they were too small to fly away on the silk from their spinning wheels, I mean spinneret’s. He named then Joy, Nellie, and Arania and they lived happily ever after. The point of the story, baby brother, is no matter how small you are, you can accomplish great things. I know you don’t understand right now but some day I will tell you about the greatest accomplishment I ever achieved.” Katie cradled her new baby brother in her arms. She smiled down at him as he gurgled and cooed at the sound of her voice.

Kathryn smiled at the sight she had just encountered in the nursery. Her beautiful seven-year-old daughter was cradling her three month old baby brother, Kolotay Edward Janeway, and telling him the story of Charlotte’s Web.

“Beautiful, aren’t they?” Chakotay asked from over her shoulder as he snapped a picture of the scene of their daughter sitting in the rocking chair intently telling her story to her baby brother who was smiling at the rises and falls in her voice and the sparkling of her eyes as she gazed down at him. He didn’t understand a word she was saying, but he loved his big sister very much.

Chakotay nuzzled his nose against the top of his wife’s head. They had remarried less than a week after they had returned to Earth and found their runaway little girl at her Grandma’s home. After they had married, Kathryn took a promotion to admiral for a second time but insisted she remain grounded on Earth. They also renewed and refreshed some of their friendships with the former crew of Voyager. Then, after Kolotay had been born she took a indefinite leave of absence.

“Yes, they are beautiful. I can’t get enough of watching them,” Kathryn whispered so as not to disturb the scene.

“Should we tell Katie?” Chakotay asked as he wrapped his arms around his wife’s waist to lay his protective hands over her belly. They had just found out she was one month pregnant with a baby girl.

“No, let’s wait. She’s very intent on her story. Let’s not disturb her,” Kathryn decided.

“We can always tell her later.”

“Fair enough,” Chakotay replied as he pulled the door half way closed and they turned and headed down the hall towards their own room. “Ever sorry you came home?”

Kathryn smiled brightly at him as they closed the door to their room and they tumbled down onto the bed. “Not at all. I won’t deny that sometimes I catch myself looking at the stars but not for the same reasons I used to.”

“And what are your reasons now, Kathryn?” he asked her as he made a trail of kisses down her throat to her collar bone.

“Remembering the events that brought us together so very long ago,” Kathryn told him as he made his way to her belly and kissed the flesh protecting the new little life they had created through love.

“Mmm,” he mumbled as he tongued her belly button and started to dip lower when there was a knock at the door.

Nanoseconds later the door burst open and Katie leapt up onto the bed. “Can I sleep with you tonight? I already but Kolotay in his crib,” Katie said as she cuddled next to her mother.

“Katie, do you remember what I told you about private time?” Chakotay asked his daughter.

Katie let out an exaggerated sigh. “But you had private time last night and the night before that!” she complained.

Kathryn laughed out loud. “She’s right, honey. There is always tomorrow,” she suggested as she pulled Katie tighter against her.

Chakotay climbed up into bed next to them with Katie in the middle. “I know when I am defeated. I may be able to fight one Janeway female but not two,” he replied.

“Well, you better start getting Kolotay on your side now because in a few months you’re going to be really out numbered by Janeway females,” Kathryn poked at him.

“Out numbered? Mom, are we having another baby?” Katie squealed, excitedly.

“Yes, sweetie, you and Kolotay are going to have a baby sister within the next year,” Kathryn told her.

Katie was overjoyed. She loved the responsibility that came with being a big sister to Kolotay and the idea of having a new baby in the house was thrilling. She felt the excitement welling up inside of her to the point she thought she was going to burst. Then she realized something. “You two need your private time. After all, when the new baby comes, you’re not going to get any private time for a long while,” Katie said seriously as she kissed one parent then the other then bounded off of the bed and out the door. She closed it behind her with a click.

Kathryn and Chakotay faced each other with wide-eyed expressions. “I hadn’t considered that,” she said. “Kolotay has been so good, I forgot about the first three months of sleeping only two hours at a stretch."

“I guess we better not waste the time we have,” Chakotay suggested as he wrapped his beloved wife in his arms and captured her mouth with his.

Kathryn sent a silent thank you to their lucky stars and another one to their precocious daughter. If it hadn’t been for Katie’s Web, who knows how life would have turned out.