Kathryn touched Chakotay's arm as if she wanted to tell him something, but the other hand covering her mouth prevented her from speaking. She was up and rushing toward her ready room before she was able to say anything. Chakotay gave her a minute before following. "Tuvok, you have the bridge. I'm going to check on the captain."
He entered the ready room without chiming and when the doors closed, called out, "Kathryn?" Hearing the water running in her lavatory, he leaned against her desk and waited.
A minute later she came out looking a little pale and patted her hands and face with a towel. Not surprised to see him, she said, "Ugh."
"Sit down. I'll get you a glass of water."
She obeyed and laid her head on the back of the sofa. "I'm never eating that stew again."
"From last night?" Chakotay handed her the water and sat down next to her.
After taking a drink, she laid her head down again. "From the last three nights. I've been sick every day since. One would think I'd learn after the second time, if not the first."
"That's quite a delayed reaction for food poisoning." He felt her head to see if she was feverish.
Kathryn looked at him when she felt his hand. "You think it's a bug?"
"Well, you're not warm and you haven't been off the ship for awhile, so probably not."
She smiled a little. "Your professional medical opinion?"
"Something like that."
"Have you been feeling queasy? You've eaten the stew."
Chakotay shook his head. "No, and I haven't heard that anybody has missed their shift due to food poisoning."
She took another sip of the water and set it down on the table. "And I doubt you brought back a virus. You've been back for over two weeks. The Doctor would have found any germs by now."
He sighed deeply as he remembered his time with the Vori. "Yeah."
"Are you feeling better?"
He took a deep breath. "I think so. I slept better last night. I believe our talk the night before helped a lot."
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "I'm glad. We should talk like that more often… not just when one of us is feeling bad."
Chakotay thought about their all-night talk and how it had helped him work through not only his recent brain-washing, but also how it had mended their strained relationship in the aftermath of the failed Borg alliance. "Definitely, but I'm getting too old for all-nighters."
"What are you complaining about? You got the day off yesterday."
He chuckled, "So I did."
"Although to be fair, I didn't report for duty until 10:00." She added, "After my nauseating experience yesterday morning, I should have my head examined for eating that stew again."
"Well, I'll cover the bridge while you go to sickbay."
"I'm feeling much better now."
He looked at her in disbelief. "Yeah, sure you are."
"No, I am. I think I'm actually hungry now. I must have it out of my system."
"Yes, I am… and for more than just coffee." She laughed at the irony and said, "You know… if it weren't impossible, I'd say these were pregnancy symptoms."
Chakotay squinted as he thought about the symptoms. "Do I dare ask about your cycle?"
She answered emphatically. "No." After a moment's pause while he got the medical tricorder out of her med kit, she added, "Besides… it's never been regular."
He scanned her and then with eyebrows raised in surprise, he handed her the tricorder. "Look."
She looked at it, and then looked again. "This can't be. It's impossible."
"Stranger things have happened."
She scanned herself again. "It says it's human."
Chakotay tapped his com-badge. "Chakotay to Tuvok."
"I'm going to accompany the captain to sickbay. You have the bridge."
Chakotay reached for her hand and said, "Let's go."
She nodded her head and stood to follow him, still scanning and rescanning, hoping for different results.
As soon as they arrived in sickbay, Kathryn said, "I need to use your tricorder."
With a little exasperation, the Doctor handed her one, "Far be it for me to do the medical scanning around here." He was somewhat appeased when she handed him the one she had been using.
The Doctor looked at her tricorder and then with a smile, he said, "Congratulations to you both!"
Chakotay bit back a smile as Kathryn spoke with growing agitation, "It's not his. It isn't anybody's. It can't possibly exist!"
Chakotay placed a supporting hand on Kathryn's shoulder while she continued to make adjustments to the tricorder with each scan. He asked the Doctor, "Can you determine if there is any indication of alien intervention?"
With tension in her voice, Kathryn added, "Not if! We need to find out how and when this happened because this is not a natural pregnancy. Something extraordinary caused it."
His excitement deflated, the Doctor said, "All right, lie down and I'll have a look."
Chakotay guided Kathryn over to the main bio-bed while he told the Doctor about her morning sickness. When she was fully reclined, he took the tricorder and gave it back to the Doctor. He suggested, "Let him see what he can find."
Kathryn sighed heavily and closed her eyes as the arches closed over her. "This can't be happening."
Chakotay squeezed her shoulder. "Let's see what we're dealing with before you start to worry."
"That's easy for you to say."
Chakotay shook his head, even though with her eyes closed, she couldn't see him. He said quietly, "No, it isn't."
She looked up at him. "You're worried?"
"What? About you being impregnated by an alien? Why would that worry me?"
The Doctor interrupted their conversation. "Captain, I need you to lie still while I do a deep tissue scan."
She took a deep breath to relax while Chakotay made himself comfortable by propping his hip against the side of the bed. He tried to think about all the possible implications of her being pregnant and having a child, but it was somewhat overwhelming.
He refocused his thoughts on watching the Doctor move back and forth between the bio bed and the main medical station. A lot of "hmms" and other similar sounds accompanied his work. Chakotay thought about how intricate the Doctor's programming must be to create such detailed human nuances. He opened his mouth to mention it to Kathryn when he realized that she had fallen asleep. He smiled and resisted the urge to touch her face.
About ten minutes later, the Doctor came over and lowered the arch back into the bed. "I have some answers for you."
The movement and the Doctor's voice was enough to wake Kathryn. She stretched and said, "Fell asleep."
The Doctor said, "Very normal during the first trimester. Have you noticed that you've been extremely fatigued?"
Kathryn sat up. "Well, now that you mention it, yes, I have. But I thought it was just the stress of the last couple of months catching up with me."
Chakotay was glad she didn't bring up their late night conversations.
The Doctor continued, "You were right. The embryo has no father."
"What?" Kathryn asked.
"It has exactly the same DNA pattern as you, Captain."
Chakotay asked, "A clone?"
"Yes, she's a perfectly healthy clone in the eighth week."
Kathryn questioned again, "A clone?"
As the Doctor nodded, Chakotay asked, "Then we need to examine the ships logs and scans for eight weeks ago."
Shaking his head, the Doctor said, "Six weeks ago. Pregnancies are dated from two weeks prior to conception," without stopping, he added, "and I have a theory on how it happened."
Kathryn asked, "How?"
"I've dated the age of the embryo to stardate 51008… the day that Kes left."
The Doctor said, "She was capable of cellular manipulation. Did you ever discuss motherhood with her?"
Kathryn closed her eyes and put her hand on her forehead. "A few times."
"Enough so that she might have thought to give you this unexpected gift?"
Kathryn groaned. "She could have at least asked first."
Chakotay stepped closer to gently caress her arm. "You talked about it a lot?"
"When she went through the Elogium two years ago, we talked a lot about motherhood. I told her that it was something I had always wanted, but that I had missed the opportunity."
"That's it?" Chakotay asked.
Shaking her head, she said, "No. We had quite a few discussions that week. And we talked when Naomi was born and again on her birthday last year." Kathryn paused as she thought about their conversations. "Also, when we returned from New Earth, I told her that I thought of her as the daughter I never had, but always wanted. We had a similar conversation when she told me she was leaving."
The Doctor asked, "Did she ever concentrate on you, as if she were trying to move something with her mind?"
Kathryn shook her head, "No, but we did give each other a long, and tearful hug. I suppose it could have happened then."
Seeing that Kathryn was getting emotional, the Doctor excused himself. "I'll be back in a moment."
Chakotay moved to stand in front of Kathryn and took her hands. "It sounds like this is something you have really wanted."
She sighed and squeezed his hands. "But not something I thought I could have. Not when I can't get involved in a relationship out here."
Chakotay smiled warmly. "Then this really is a gift."
Kathryn withdrew her hands from his and hugged herself. "I don't know what to think."
"You have about seven months to think about it."
She groaned as the Doctor returned. He handed her a box and said, "Here's a hypospray and medicine that you should take every morning. It includes vitamins and an anti-nausea drug to help with the morning sickness. Your due date is September 25th, assuming the pregnancy progresses normally. Go get some rest and we can talk more tomorrow."
Overwhelmed and exhausted, Kathryn nodded and let Chakotay help her off the bed. "Thanks Doctor."
As they left sickbay, Kathryn asked Chakotay, "I think I'll take the day off, if that's okay with you?"
"I wouldn't let you do anything else." He figured she must be in shock and exhausted to admit to needing rest. They walked back to her quarters in silence, each absorbing the sudden and dramatic change that the morning had brought.
When they arrived, Chakotay followed her in. "Do you need anything?"
She shook her head and said, "Let's just keep this to ourselves for now, okay?"
Chakotay nodded, "Definitely, and I'll let the Doctor know."
Kathryn nodded and took off her jacket. "At least I have an excuse for feeling so sleepy."
Smiling, Chakotay said, "And I thought it was our late night talks."
"Those probably added to it, but right now, I'm just feeling light headed. I'm so tired."
He led her into the bedroom. "Let's get you settled in, then."
As she curled onto the bed, she asked, "Tucking me in?"
He chuckled quietly as he took off her boots and covered her with an afghan. "I'm going to assume that you'll sleep through my lunch break, so call me when you're awake and I'll come by after my shift."
Sleepily, she answered, "All right. Take care of my ship."
He squeezed her shoulder and said, "Always," before leaving.
Chakotay wasn't able to return to Kathryn's quarters until after 19:00 due to last minute personnel issues that he had to resolve. She had called him at 17:00 to let him know that she had been up for a couple hours and was busy going through things and cleaning her quarters. He had pointed out that it was a bit early for the nesting phase, and she had said that it kept her mind occupied.
When he entered, she came out of the bedroom, still wearing her uniform pants and t-shirt, and in her stocking feet. She held up a sand painting that he had made for her on New Earth. "Will you help me hang this up?"
He took it from her. "I didn't realize you still had it."
"Of course I do." She spun around the room until she decided on a location. "There." She pointed to the wall that separated their quarters.
Chakotay got the tools needed and had it up in a few minutes. "How does that look?"
Kathryn stared at it for a moment and said, "I'm not sure, but we'll leave it for now and maybe move it later."
He chuckled at her indecision because it was so unlike her. As he put the tools away, he asked, "So how are you feeling?"
Still staring at the sand painting, she said, "Good. The anti-nausea meds work well so I've been indulging in replicated food all afternoon."
"So you haven't gone to the mess hall yet?"
She shook her head. "I don't think I can face Neelix's food right now."
"I can understand that."
"But to answer the question you aren't asking, I don't think it has registered yet."
Chakotay looked at the painting with her. "I've been having trouble concentrating on anything else today."
"There's a baby inside me." She stated as if it were news to him.
"So I heard."
"What am I going to do with a baby?"
Chakotay put his arm around her shoulders. "You're going to love it."
She sighed. "I think it's going to take a bit more than just love."
"No… the rest should come naturally."
"I'll remember you said that when it comes around to 02:00 feedings."
Chuckling, he said, "And dirty diapers?"
She turned to him. "I don't know if I can do this."
He took her hands in his. "The Kathryn Janeway I know can do anything… especially with a fantastic crew to help her. And I know they will embrace this child as their own, just as they have Naomi. You are not alone."
She swallowed with the memory of him saying that before, and then her using it against him when they argued over the Borg alliance. "I know. I really do."
"And I will help you in every way I can… 02:00 feedings, dirty diapers, and all."
Several days later…
Chakotay looked up from his reports with Kathryn walked into his office. "Hi."
She started pacing. "I can't do this right now."
"Have a baby, that's what. It's just too much!" She rubbed her neck.
Chakotay got up and came around to her. "You've got a headache?"
"Yes, and her name is Seven of Nine."
He stood behind her and massaged her shoulders. "Ready to drop her off at the next planet?"
"You're NOT helping."
He sighed. "I'm sorry."
She turned around and said, "I really think we can help her. I just don't know if I can manage dealing with her and being pregnant. I'm so exhausted and she's so infuriating… my patience is just about gone."
"What can I do to help?"
"I don't know." She sounded defeated. "She and B'Elanna are not getting along."
"You want me to have a talk with B'Elanna?"
Kathryn looked at him as she thought about it. "Maybe so. I do understand why B'Elanna is upset, but we all need to pull together if this is going to work."
"I'll see what I can do. Maybe we can come up with a project for Seven of Nine, separate from engineering."
Kathryn sighed. "That would a great idea, but the ship still has so many Borg implants, and we really need her help to remove them."
"I'll see if I can think of something for her to do after the ship is put back together. Maybe Harry can help."
She nodded and wiped her eyes.
"You're tired, aren't you?"
"I can't afford to be tired right now. There's too much to do."
She raised her hand to interrupt him before he could say it. "I know. I need sleep because I'm pregnant." She looked at him. "The crew is going to start thinking I'm getting lazy if I keep running off to take naps."
He smiled and shook his head. "They won't even ask. It's so unlike you that they won't even consider that as a possibility."
She yawned. "Okay, I'll admit defeat, but only because I can barely keep my eyes open."
He turned her towards the door and they walked out together. "I'll go check on things in engineering while you rest."
"Will you call me when you're ready for dinner?"
She nodded, yawning again. "Yes."
Several nights later…
Kathryn woke from an intense dream, her breathing ragged and her mind spinning. Her dreams had been getting more vivid lately, and this one was about the baby. A small baby that looked exactly like her… an infant that looked like a 44-year old. It wasn't the first time that she had thought about the fact that the infant was a clone, but she had been trying to push that thought out of her mind. She hoped that growing up in a different environment would make the child distinctive enough that it wouldn't feel like a clone. But no matter how much she tried to dismiss it, the fact was that this child was going to look exactly like her was disturbing.
Wanting to see what could be done about it, she got dressed and went to sickbay. The Doctor was activated when she got there.
"Captain? Are you feeling ill?"
Very focused and intent, she demanded, "Fix this. I don't want a clone."
"Ah. I see." The Doctor waived her over to the medical station. "I thought you might question this at some point, so let me show you what I've done."
Kathryn spent an hour talking to the Doctor about the possibilities of genetic manipulation and then returned to her quarters. Still unable to sleep, she replicated some herbal tea, downloaded some articles on the subject, and sat down to read.
She wasn't far into the first article when she heard a crash from the other side of the wall. She tapped her communicator. "Janeway to Chakotay."
"I'm sorry. Did I wake you?"
She chuckled. "No. I was reading. What did you break?"
"It's 02:00… you should be asleep."
She raised an eyebrow. "As should you."
"I couldn't sleep, so I decided to install a book shelf in my sleeping area."
"Uh huh?" She asked, urging him to continue his explanation.
"And it appears that I didn't fasten it well enough to the bulkhead."
"Need some help?"
"You can't sleep either?"
"I've got a lot on my mind. Actually, I'd like to talk if you're awake anyway."
"Come on over. I'll make the coffee."
A few minutes later, Kathryn entered Chakotay's quarters and heard him call out, "In here." She followed his voice to find him in the sleeping area holding up one end of a shelf with his shoulder while re-attaching the other end to the bulkhead. She took the loose end off his shoulder and he said, "Thanks."
"So why are you moving your books in here? Too far to walk?"
"You're going to laugh."
She chuckled. "Why do you say that?"
"I think I'm nesting." When she laughed, he gave her an annoyed look and then started working on the end she was holding up. "I thought I should move my breakable items in here for when I baby sit."
"Very practical of you."
"I thought so." He stood back and examined his work. "Is it crooked?"
"I don't think so, but put something breakable on it and see if it falls off. Then you'll know for sure."
He gave her yet another look of mild exasperation. "Thanks."
She chuckled and followed him back to the living area. "You said something about coffee?"
"Sure." He put the tools away and got her a cup of coffee from the replicator. Joining her on the sofa, he said, "So what's on your mind at this late hour?"
"I couldn't sleep and went to see the Doctor."
"Let me guess. He wouldn't give you a sleep aid because of your condition."
She shook her head. "I didn't ask for one."
He studied her carefully. "Something wrong?"
"No." She set her cup down. "Well, yes. But not really."
"Well that clears it all up."
She smiled self-consciously. "I guess I'm having a little trouble talking about it, and I'm not quite sure how to explain."
Chakotay leaned forward, concern evident in his expression. "What is it?"
Kathryn was quiet for a moment before she said, "I'm having a lot of trouble accepting the fact that this baby is a clone. She will look exactly like me."
Chakotay nodded. "Yes."
"I went to see if there was anything the Doctor could do."
Kathryn looked out at the stars. "The first thing he thought of would be to bring out the recessive genes in the embryo. It would change her hair color, eye color, etc."
"That's not against Federation law?"
"No. He said it's only illegal to increase intelligence, strength, and so forth."
"And you don't like that idea?"
"She would probably look like my sister. "
"What else did the Doctor suggest?"
Her eyes met his. "Replace some of the genes with those from another DNA source."
Chakotay rubbed his chin as he absorbed what she was telling him. "Are you considering that option?"
"I'm not sure."
"It would provide more genetic variation."
She nodded and picked up her coffee cup for another sip. "But it also means choosing a father for my child."
Chakotay thought for a moment before suggesting, "You could do a random pick from the crew."
Kathryn smiled knowingly. "The Doctor had the same suggestion, but I'd rather know who the father is and be able to tell her."
"Which means you want her to have a relationship with the donor?"
She nodded. "Yes…. No."
Chakotay scrunched his eyebrows in confusion. "Which?"
"Not with the donor, but with her father. My father meant the world to me and I wouldn't want to deprive my daughter of hers."
"You just have to find one."
Kathryn looked down at her hands and then up at him again. "How would you feel about it?"
Chakotay wasn't surprised by the question. "I thought that might be where you were going."
"I wasn't sure if I should even ask, considering…"
"Well… our relationship, and because of what happened with Seska stealing your DNA."
Chakotay's eyes shot up to hers in surprise when he heard that name. "Seska?"
"I know it's not quite the same, but…"
He interrupted her to avert her concerns. "Don't even think about it. This has no similarity to that whatsoever."
"All right." It had only been a year since Seska's baby had been born, and even though it turned out not to be his son, she knew he grieved for the child. To avoid jumping to any more conclusions, she waited quietly for him to speak.
He was quiet for a long moment. "Well, I did get jealous at the thought of you having Q's baby, didn't I?"
She smiled, relaxing a little. "Yes, you did."
"And I wasn't too thrilled with the knowledge that you had three lizard babies with Paris."
"Would you have preferred to be chasing three lizard babies of your own?"
"Well, no. But if anyone was going to parent them, I'd have preferred me over Tom."
Grinning, she said, "I didn't know you felt that way."
Chakotay sighed deeply. "So I guess we should discuss our relationship."
Nodding, she said, "Probably so."
He looked at her and waited until her eyes met his. "I think we should be as honest as possible with each other. Nothing held back and no walls built around protocol. Our ranks don't exist… this is just you and me."
"I'd love to, but I can't exactly leave our ranks at the door. This has a direct impact on our duty to this crew."
Shaking his head, he said, "I don't mean that we should ignore our duty, but rather that we should feel free to say anything without our positions interfering."
She smiled. "So you're asking for permission to speak freely?"
"No… I'm saying that I don't want to have to ask for that permission on issues that involve the baby."
Kathryn moved closer to him and took one of his hands in hers. "Don't you think we're beyond that concern? As friends?"
Chakotay studied her for a moment before deciding to plunge ahead with his concerns. "Yes, but it wasn't too long ago that we lost that friendship because of a professional disagreement. I want to be able to talk about that openly with you as a friend, not as an officer."
"Do you really think we lost it?"
"Not completely, or we wouldn't be sitting here now."
She squeezed his hand. "In the end, we discovered that the Borg were coming between us and that we shouldn't let that happen. I thought we caught it before it was too late?"
"We did, but what worries me is that our professional disagreement turned personal."
Kathryn's movements froze as she said, "I see."
"And I'm worried that adding a child to the mix is going to complicate things even more. As much as I would love to be her father…"
Interrupting him, Kathryn pulled her hand away and nodded. "I guess that's my answer." She stood up and turned away before he could see the pained expression on her face. She started for the door when he called out.
"Kathryn, wait." He stood and captured her hand although her back was still turned to him. When she didn't say anything, he said, "That's not your answer. I just think we need to work through these issues together before we make a decision like this."
She nodded and looked up at the ceiling. "If only Kes had given me the time to sort out my life before creating this baby."
"Kathryn." He didn't know what to say that would make her feel better. "When would you have had time to do that?"
Turning to him, she said, "I think we're both really exhausted right now. Let's talk more tomorrow."
He nodded. "That's probably best."
She squeezed his hand and pulled hers away. "Goodnight."
The next morning, Chakotay rang Kathryn's chime at 07:00. He wanted to catch her before she left her quarters.
After a short delay, Kathryn called out, "Come."
As soon as he saw the exhaustion in her eyes, he said with a sigh of apology, "You didn't get any sleep, did you?"
Kathryn massaged her neck and said, "I had a lot to think about."
Nodding his head, he said, "I guess so."
"I shouldn't have asked you to donate your DNA."
"That's definitely not true. I'm honored that you want me to be your baby's father."
She picked up her jacket off of a nearby chair. "Well, I'm rescinding the offer in light of what you said. I've decided that I should let the crew know about the baby and ask if someone is interested in adopting it. The Doctor can manipulate the chromosomes to match the adoptive parents."
Calmly, he said, "No, Kathryn. That's not the answer."
She turned back to him, exasperated. "Well, then what is the answer, Chakotay? Should I resign and become a full-time mother? I certainly don't know where I'm going to find the time to raise a child when my duty to this crew already takes everything I've got."
"I don't have all the answers, but I know that we'll make time for her. She deserves everything we can give her and I will do everything I can possibly do to make this work."
"Except be her father."
"I didn't say that."
"Would you like to raise her without me, then? Because it sure sounds like you don't want to be a parent with me."
Chakotay scratched his head in frustration. "You don't understand what I was trying to say."
"No, I understand perfectly. You don't think I can handle my job and share parenting a child with you. Actually, no, you don't think I can handle my job at all. You made that quite clear."
Taking a deep breath, he said, "I'm sorry, Kathryn. I made a mistake in bringing that up and I should have just let it go."
"No. If you are really concerned, then you were right in addressing it."
"I'm not. I wasn't 'addressing' it with my captain. I was trying to 'discuss' a personal relationship with my friend."
She zipped up her jacket and picked up her communicator off the desk. "Look. Let's just drop this altogether. I'll figure something out."
He tried to take her hands, but she wouldn't let him. "I don't want to drop it. I'd like your forgiveness for what I said, and I'd like to be your child's father."
"You can't possibly mean that."
His eyes were locked with Kathryn's. "We still have a lot to discuss and work out, but I realized when I woke this morning that it will probably be the greatest joy in my life to be your child's father. Whatever challenges we have, she deserves two parents and I'm honored that you asked me."
Shaking her head, she said, "I can't. As much as I want to, it just isn't right. What you said last night reinforced my belief that I can't get involved with a member of my crew - and that we're too close already. Even though there would be no romantic relationship between us, having a child together will certainly complicate things even more than they already are."
Ignoring her earlier protests, he grabbed her hands and held them tightly. "No. That's not right at all. If anything, we'll be stronger united than we are apart."
She wanted to believe him. In her heart she knew that they could overcome any obstacle, especially if the crew or their daughter were at stake. "You're my closest friend and I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize that. I'm sorry for using that friendship against you. I was angry and I have no excuse for my behavior."
"Let me do this, Kathryn. I have always wanted a child. We have six months to decide how we will be parents together while maintaining our command relationship."
She looked up at him. "And perhaps fix that relationship too?"
"Not fix, just make stronger."
"You really want this?"
"I really do."
"And you have no doubts that we can make it work?"
"I'm not saying it will be easy, but I think we can do it."
"All right." Kathryn squeezed his hands and let go. "We have a week before we have to do this. Let's put if off for a few days to make sure we don't have any doubts."
"Okay. And I think we should tell the crew how this baby was created and what we are doing, before we do it."
"You really think so?"
He nodded. "I do."
"Okay. Staff meeting on Thursday, and we'll do this on Friday."
He pulled her close and quickly kissed her forehead. "Why don't you finish getting ready, and I'll go to the mess hall and bring back some breakfast."
She nodded as he turned and left. Taking a deep breath, she thought about what just happened. Chakotay was going to be the father of her child and all she had left to do was manage being pregnant and raising a child while captaining a starship. "No problem!"
A week later (following Revulsion)…
Chakotay entered the briefing room to find Kathryn sitting at the table, looking over a couple of padds. "Hey there."
She looked up and smiled warmly. "Hi."
"We've been missing each other." He sat on the table edge near her.
Setting the padds down, she leaned back and sighed. "With everything that's been going on, I can see why."
"I know. I haven't seen you much since Tuvok's promotion dinner."
"Hey…. Thanks for all of your work getting the astrometrics lab functioning. I think that is definitely the answer to where Seven should be."
"Harry was unsure at first, but I think he's warmed up to her."
With a raised eyebrow, she asked, "Warmed up?"
He shrugged. "Fallen for?"
She nodded knowingly. "Hey, is B'Elanna going to be joining us today?"
"Yes. She feels ready to return to duty."
Kathryn shivered. "Can you imagine having your heart squeezed like that?"
"Ugh." Chakotay scowled and covered his chest. "I'd rather not. And from now on, we steer clear of psychopathic holograms."
"Fine by me." She looked up at him. "So, are you ready to commit to being a father today?"
"Without a doubt." He extended his hand to grasp hers. "How about you. Are you ready to tell them?"
She took a deep breath. "I have to do it sometime."
The door to the briefing room opened to admit Harry and Tom for the briefing. Chakotay pulled his hand away and turned to greet them.
The rest of the senior staff eventually arrived and the meeting began. All business was covered quickly and they arrived at the last item on Kathryn's agenda.
"The last thing I want to cover today is a personal matter, but one that will eventually affect everyone." She paused for a moment while they looked up from their padds. "When Kes left us ten weeks ago, she left us with a second gift."
Harry asked, "More than the big leap?"
Kathryn smiled at the nickname that had been given to Kes's gift. "Yes. Kes was like a daughter to me and as you know, we were very close." Kathryn looked at Neelix. "When she went through her Elogium, we had a lot of conversations about life and motherhood." Kathryn looked at the Doctor before she continued. "I want you all to know that I am pregnant with a clone and we are certain that Kes created it."
Neelix quickly asked, "A clone of Kes?"
The Doctor answered. "No, a clone of the captain."
Tuvok asked, "You are certain that it was Kes?"
The Doctor spoke. "The age of the embryo indicates that it was created on the date Kes left."
"That only indicates that it was the same day." Tuvok pointed out.
The Doctor said, "She did have the ability to do it."
"That does not prove that she did."
Chakotay could see that this conversation was getting to Kathryn. "Thank you, Gentlemen. The captain, the Doctor, and I have studied all of the data and this is the only plausible explanation."
Tom asked, "So I guess this means congratulations are in order?"
Kathryn smiled. "Yes, but there's more we need to tell you." Taking a deep breath, she looked at Chakotay and then back at everyone else. "The Doctor has found a way to replace some of the DNA to give the child a father, and Commander Chakotay has agreed."
The whole room sat in a stunned silence until the Doctor said, "We will actually be replacing one of the X chromosomes completely. It's quite a process and I'm looking forward to it."
B'Elanna asked, "So this hasn't been done yet?"
Kathryn shook her head. "No. The procedure will take place tomorrow."
Neelix chimed in. "Well, this is exciting news! I think we should have a celebration!"
Chakotay raised a hand to subdue his exuberance. "Not yet, Neelix. When she's born you can plan a celebration, but not before."
Tom asked for clarification, "If I understand this correctly, you two are having a child together?"
Kathryn nodded. "Yes."
Tom asked, "So does this mean you two are a couple?"
Chakotay forced himself to maintain a poker face as she answered. "No. It only means that Commander Chakotay, my closest friend, has agreed to donate his DNA to give this child a father."
Seeing that the conversation needed to end, Chakotay said, "So if that's all the questions, we will adjourn until Monday morning."
The crew took their cue to leave and filed slowly out of the room, leaving only Tuvok, Chakotay, and Kathryn. Tuvok asked, "Do I need to mention the impact this will have on the command structure?"
Kathryn stood. "I understand your concerns, Commander, and I can assure you that we are not taking this decision lightly. I am hoping that the three of us will continue to operate as a check and balance system as we have done for the last three years."
Knowing better than to argue with her once she's made up her mind, Tuvok said, "Very well."
After Tuvok excused himself, Chakotay stood to join Kathryn. "Well, that went over better than I thought."
"Are we making the right decision?"
"We're making the best decision we can right now. And I think having a daughter with you couldn't possibly be a bad conclusion."
She gathered her padds. "Well, if I'm going to be out of commission for the next couple of days, I need to go get some work done. Will you check on things in astrometrics and engineering before taking the bridge?"
He smiled. "Of course. I'll see you later."
She nodded and they left the room, each going separate ways.
A few minutes later in engineering, B'Elanna pulled Chakotay aside and said, "Are you crazy?"
"No, I don't believe that I am."
"Well, I do! How can you have a child with her?"
Chakotay and B'Elanna had many conversations about their relationships over the years, and she knew how deeply he felt for Kathryn. "You know why."
"She's just using you."
He shook his head. "No, she's not. The woman I love has asked me to be the father of her child. How could that be bad?"
"Because she doesn't love you back!"
Chakotay smiled. "That's where you're wrong. We do love each other, she just doesn't know how to accept it."
"So, what? You're going to start out as two single parents and figure it out as you go along? This is going to be one screwed up kid."
"I have no intentions of being a single parent. I have six months to show her that it's okay to be in love and be the captain of this ship."
B'Elanna muttered, "It hasn't worked in the last three years."
He squeezed her arm and winked at her. "Just watch and see."
The next evening…
Chakotay entered sickbay to find the lights low and Kathryn sleeping on one of the biobeds. As he was looking her over, the Doctor approached and asked, "How are you feeling, Commander?"
Looking up, Chakotay said, "Oh, I'm fine. The sedative has pretty much worn off so I thought I'd take a walk." During the procedure, the Doctor had sedated both patients so he could do the intricate work of combining their chromosomes and reintegrating them into the embryo. Afterwards, Chakotay had returned to his quarters to sleep off the effects of the medication. Kathryn had remained in sickbay under mild sedation so that the Doctor could closely monitor the embryo to make certain that it wouldn't reject the manipulation.
The Doctor nodded at Kathryn. "She and the baby are doing well, but I don't think I'll release her until morning."
"Mind if I sit here for a bit?"
"Not at all. I'll be in my office if you need anything."
After the Doctor left, Chakotay pulled a stool next to Kathryn's bed. He let his hand hover above her abdomen, being careful not to touch and wake her. A sense of joy filled him as he thought about the tiny life inside Kathryn that was now his daughter. It was something he dared not imagine before, but now gave him a new sense of purpose and direction that he had never felt before.
"Feel anything?" Kathryn's raspy voice startled him
He pulled his hand away. "Just imagining."
"Have you spoken to the Doctor? Is everything ok?"
With a tender smile, he said, "Everything is fine. He'll release you in the morning."
"So it worked?"
He nodded. "It worked."
Kathryn lightly stretched, almost afraid to make any sudden movements. "I don't feel any different - not that I should, but…"
"But you thought you would?" Chakotay took her hand in his.
She shrugged. "I suppose not. Do you?"
Smiling, he said, "Yes. I feel joyful and a little sleepy."
She chuckled. "You're going to be a daddy."
"And you're going to be a mommy."
Seriousness crept into her voice in light of the magnitude of their decision. "We can do this, right?"
He started to say that it was a little late to be asking that now, but decided to give her the reassurance she was seeking. "Yes. I believe that together, we can do anything."
Smiling, she asked, "Even get this ship home while struggling with the daily challenges of parenthood?"
"Hey… Tom is the one driving. All we have to do is provide a nurturing and safe environment for the little one here." Chakotay tentatively placed his hand on Kathryn's belly.
With only a little sarcasm, Kathryn responded. "No problem. Voyager is a very safe place." She covered his hand with hers to let him know it was okay to touch her.
Chakotay gingerly rubbed his hand back and forth. "Do I feel it?"
She guided his hand to the slight swell. "Right there."
"How can you tell?"
"Well, it's firmer and feels like the side of a ball." She carefully pressed his hand into her stomach and guided his fingertips across the small bump.
"Hmmm." Chakotay concentrated on what he was feeling. "I just don't feel it yet."
"You will soon," she said tenderly.
Smiling, he said, "May I add the first name to a list of possibilities?"
"I haven't created a list yet, but sure."
"Chenoa. It means 'Bird of Peace.' It was my father's sister's name."
"Like a dove." Kathryn smiled. "It's beautiful."
Pulling his hand away, he asked, "Have you thought of a name yet?"
"The only one I have considered so far is Kes."
He nodded, "Oh yes, that would be nice… and appropriate."
"Well," she blushed a little. "We have a few months to decide."
"In my tribe, it's custom for the eldest male member of the family to name the child."
"So in this case, that's you?"
Chakotay shook his head and chuckled. "No, my great uncle who lives in Arizona."
Kathryn raised an eyebrow. "Oh, and what's his name? Maybe we should name her after him?"
Chakotay laughed. "Bob. His name is Bob."
Kathryn couldn't help but laugh. "I don't think so."
"Oh, I don't know. How about Roberta or Bobbie?"
"Not that Robert, or Bob, isn't a perfectly nice name, but it doesn't sound very Mayan."
Chakotay smiled. "No, but neither is Uncle Bob. My Father said I took after him too much… being more interested in the stars than in my responsibilities to the earth."
The Doctor came over to them and lightheartedly said, "Commander, I think it might be time for you to go. You're making my patient laugh too much."
Kathryn smiled. "Laughter is the best medicine."
The Doctor agreed. "Yes, in most cases. But not when I'm trying to keep you quiet and still."
Chakotay stood. "All right, Doctor. I'll go." Chakotay waited for the Doctor to take the hint and leave them alone for a moment before he turned to Kathryn. "Call me if you need anything?"
"I will." She reached up to take his hand. "Thank you."
He smiled warmly and leaned over to lightly kiss her forehead. "No, thank you."
Several weeks later (preceding and during "Scientific Method")…
Kathryn tried to get comfortable as Chakotay massaged her neck and shoulders. He had tried varying his pressure, but the deep kneading made her head hurt worse. His feather touches made her uncomfortable, and she found everything in-between annoying. Frustrated, she pulled away from Chakotay's massaging hands. "It's not working."
Chakotay sighed. "I'm sorry."
Kathryn put her jacket back on and said, "Thanks for trying, but I think I'll just go try to sleep."
"Was I touching you wrong?"
She shook her head. "No, it's just me. Nothing is working. I just need to sleep or something."
He could tell she was in pain, but she hadn't given anything that he tried a chance to work. "How about if we go to the holodeck and create a hot tub. The heat might help."
Sighing heavily, she said, "And that would be great except that it would hurt the baby. Pregnant women can't use hot tubs."
"I'm sorry. Maybe we should try floating in a cool swimming pool?"
"Just let it go. I'll probably feel better in the morning."
He rose to walk her out. "Promise me you'll see the Doctor in the morning if it's not better?"
Impatiently, she said, "It's not like I haven't had headaches before, Chakotay. I don't need this mothering."
Even though he knew she didn't feel well, he wouldn't let her be impertinent. "I'm just trying to help, Kathryn."
"I'm sorry, but I just don't feel well." She held her hand against the side of her head. "You're right. I'll go see the Doctor tomorrow. It's just that he's been giving me pain meds for weeks and the pain keeps getting worse. He recommended a bunch of relaxation techniques that he's insisting that I try before he gives me any more medication."
"Maybe he can do a better job with the massage than I can. Or you can talk him into a different analgesic?"
She nodded, eager to end the conversation. "Okay. Well… I'll see you tomorrow."
He touched her back as she walked out. "Call me if you need anything… even just someone to sit up with you."
She nodded in reply and walked down the corridor.
The next day, after the Doctor attempted to help Kathryn using osteopathic pressure therapy, her head felt worse. When Chakotay summoned her to the bridge, she had trouble concentrating on the discovery of a binary pulsar - something she would normally be thrilled about.
Before the staff meeting, Chakotay came into her ready room. He held up a hand in protest before he spoke. "I'm not meddling. I just want to check on you. You don't look well."
"The Doctor's massage was worse than yours."
"I guess I'll take that as a compliment."
She waved away his concern. "I think it's more like nothing is helping." She touched her head. "If this is a pregnancy symptom, we may need to find a surrogate or something." She looked at him in all seriousness. "I don't think I can handle much more of this. It feels like there are needles in my skull."
"I really wish there was something I could do."
She sighed. "Maybe a cool swim later is worth a try."
Smiling, he said, "It's a date."
"Leave me alone with Tom and B'Elanna after the staff meeting. We have something to discuss."
Concerned, he asked, "Anything I should know about?"
"Normally, yes. But since they are senior staff, I think I should point out their lack of discretion myself."
"Ah, their secret trysts that are becoming the talk of the ship."
"Have you said anything to them?"
He shook his head. "It seemed like harmless fun to me."
"How could you dismiss it so casually?" Her anger was rising.
"It's only secret kisses in the jeffries tubes."
Now just as angry with him as she was with Tom and B'Elanna, she raised her voice. "It's inappropriate behavior for Starfleet officers. They're supposed to be setting an example for the crew!"
It was clear to him that she wasn't going to be talked out of her opinion so he said, "Okay, I'll talk to them."
"No. Obviously you don't see the importance, so I'll take care of it." She moved around the desk to head out for the staff meeting. "You can handle the rest of the agenda."
As he followed her out the door, he took a deep breath to avoid saying anything that would be considered insubordination. He also made a mental note to follow up with Tom and B'Elanna later, after the wrath of Kathryn Janeway had descended upon them.
Later that evening, Kathryn went to visit Chakotay in sickbay. He had developed a disorder that made him age very rapidly. She had been to see him earlier when he was first admitted and again when B'Elanna was injured, but she now returned to apologize for raising her voice earlier and for not giving him more comfort when he became ill. He had been sitting next to Neelix when she walked in, but upon seeing his captain, Neelix moved so Kathryn could talk with Chakotay privately.
Kathryn placed her hand on his arm and looked at him with pity. "I'm so sorry, Chakotay."
He shrugged. "The Doctor is working on it. Maybe once we move away from the pulsars, this will all be reversed."
"I hope so." She pulled herself up onto the bed to sit beside him. "I owe you an apology."
Taking her hand, he asked, "For what?"
She gently moved her thumb back and forth across his arthritic knuckles. "I was just talking to Tuvok in the ready room. He helped me see that I've been a real terror… asked me if I wanted him to flog the crew."
Chakotay chuckled. "May I help?"
She smiled warily, glad that he wasn't upset with her. "Thanks for being so patient. This pain is really getting to me."
"Don't worry… I've got a lot more patience where that came from."
She started to lean against him, but stopped herself. "Sorry… I've got to remember that I can't lean on you."
He carefully put his arm around her and drew her close. "You can always lean on me… even when I'm old and frail."
Sympathetically, she said, "I had hoped that we would have about fifty more years before we got to that point."
"We'll figure out what's causing all of this and get through it."
"You're being very optimistic."
"Hmmm… comes with the wisdom of old age, I guess."
She shook her head in amusement.
Kathryn's com-badge beeped. "Tuvok to Janeway."
She tapped her badge. "Janeway here."
"Seven of Nine has apprehended an intruder in engineering."
Kathryn straightened. "An intruder?"
"Yes, Captain. Seven of Nine reports fifty-six aliens on board, all slightly out of phase and performing medical experiments on the crew. She adjusted her sensory nodes to identify them and managed to bring one into phase with us. She's taking the intruder to the brig now."
"I'll meet them there." She raised an eyebrow at Chakotay as she slid off the biobed. "Looks like we're about to get to the bottom of this."
Less than a day later, the aliens left the ship when Kathryn flew Voyager between the two pulsars. Amazed that they survived, the crew was now in the process of healing. The Doctor had been busy removing all of the medical appliances that had been attached to most of the crew.
In sickbay, Chakotay lay on one of the biobeds asleep. He was still aged beyond his years, but the process had been reversed and within another day, he would be back to his youthful health and appearance.
Kathryn had finally come in for her treatment. As always, she put the rest of the crew's care before her own. While waiting for the Doctor, Kathryn sat next to Chakotay's bed and watched him sleep. Although her head hurt too much to smile, her expression softened as she looked upon her friend. He wasn't as old as he had been last time she'd seen him, but he definitely looked like he was in his eighties. Assuming that he wouldn't wake, she stroked his hairless head.
"Hey you." Chakotay said.
Kathryn relaxed her posture in surrender. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"This place has been pretty noisy, so I haven't been able to fall into a deep sleep."
She placed her hand on his shoulder. "Do you want me to get the Doctor to release you to quarters?"
"Only if you'll go with me so I can make sure you get some rest."
"I'm so exhausted that I might actually take you up on that."
A sly smile spread across his face. "But you wouldn't join me if you weren't exhausted?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Sleep with you? Wouldn't that be a little improper?"
"The way I see it, I've already knocked you up."
She laughed, and then grabbed her head to stop the onslaught of pain. "Oh, I shouldn't laugh… I shouldn't even move."
With immediate concern, Chakotay raised himself on his elbows. "He hasn't treated you yet?"
She shook her head. "Don't blame him. I wanted the rest of the crew to be treated first."
Chakotay looked over at the surgical area and called, "Doctor?"
Coming over immediately, the Doctor said, "Captain, I didn't see you come in."
Chakotay asked, "Now that she's here, can you start working on her?"
Nodding, the Doctor said, "Of course. I've been waiting for her all day. Lie down on the bed and I'll get my tools."
Kathryn stretched out on the biobed next to Chakotay's and closed her eyes. She had been trying to touch the needles that Seven had told her were in her skull, but no matter how much she touched her head, she couldn't feel them.
Chakotay pulled himself up and off the biobed to stand by Kathryn. She looked up at him and said, "What are you doing?"
"Holding your hand."
"Because I've seen and heard everyone's reaction to the removal of the devices and I want to be here for you."
She moaned and closed her eyes. "It can't possibly feel any worse than it already does."
He squeezed her hand. "As soon as this is over, we'll get you some nice pain meds and get you back to your quarters for a very long night's sleep."
Eyes still closed, she asked, "Promise?"
Empathizing with how pathetic she felt and sounded, he said, "Yes, I promise."
The Doctor came to Kathryn's bedside and began the procedure. Chakotay managed to stay out of his way and still hold Kathryn's hand. Although the pain seemed to recede immediately after the needles were pulled out, she squeezed his hand tightly as he extracted each one. When it was over, the Doctor checked to make sure that the baby was fine and was about to administer a hypospray.
Chakotay asked, "What is that?"
"A sedative," the Doctor said.
"May we go back to her quarters and sleep there?"
The Doctor nodded. "I need the beds anyway." He gave Chakotay the hypospray and said, "Give this to her when you get her settled and she should fall asleep immediately. I can't give her anything to counteract the dopamine, but we'll let her sleep until the levels have receded."
Kathryn spoke. "You don't have to talk about me like I'm not here."
Chakotay smiled and the Doctor moved on to attend to another patient. "Can you sit up?"
Kathryn very slowly and carefully pulled herself up. As soon as her feet were on the floor, she swayed slightly and Chakotay used what strength he had to stabilize her. He said, "Hey… take it slow. I can't carry you right now."
Quietly she said, "You wouldn't be carrying me regardless of your condition."
Amused at her willfulness, he said, "All right. Can you walk?"
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?"
He shook his head and smiled. "Come on. Let's go."
Together, they hobbled out of sickbay and made it back to her quarters. He helped her remove her boots, and she managed to get herself changed into a loose shirt and shorts. They crawled into her bed and Chakotay pulled the covers up over them. Kathryn opened an eye once she got settled. "So we're sleeping together?"
"Looks that way."
"What's the crew going to say?"
"Do you care?"
"Not at the moment."
"Good." He administered the sedative and watched her drift off to sleep.
A few days later, Kathryn entered Chakotay's office. She stood in front of his desk and raised her hands to call attention to her shorter hair. "What do you think?"
Chakotay looked up and was startled by her appearance. Mournfully, he said, "I wasn't expecting it to be that short."
She dropped her hands. "I thought it might help reduce the tension headaches. And besides, babies tend to grab onto long hair."
He studied her for a minute. "Actually, it's very cute."
Putting her hands on her hips, she asked, "Cute?"
He chuckled. "Very cute."
She grimaced at him and walked out while muttering, "Starfleet captains are NOT supposed to be cute!"
He shook his head and returned to his work.
A few days later (During the end Year of Hell, Part II, when time was restored)…
From her chair on the bridge, Kathryn asked Seven, "When can you bring the astrometrics lab online?"
"We just did."
Harry added, "In fact we're in the process of charting a new course home."
Kathryn smiled. "I'd say this is cause for celebration."
A hail from an approaching Krenim vessel interrupted their conversation. The Krenim commander said, "You've entered Krenim space. State your identity."
Kathryn answered, "Captain Janeway of the starship Voyager. We're just passing through, trying to get home."
"This region is in dispute. I suggest you avoid our territory," the commander answered.
"Thanks for the warning."
Chakotay ordered, "Tom, plot a course around Krenim space." He turned back to Kathryn to see her staring off into space with her hand on her stomach. He touched her arm and whispered, "Are you okay?"
She slowly turned to him and whispered, "Yes. I just had a weird sense of déjà vu." She squeezed his hand and said, "Probably nothing."
He squeezed her hand back and said to the whole bridge crew, "So what do you think? How about a ground-breaking ceremony for our new Lab?"
Tom said, "Sounds great."
Kathryn said, "I think I have a bottle of Saint Emillion for the occasion - 2370, I hear that was a good year."
One month later…
"Come." Chakotay admitted Kathryn to his quarters.
She smiled at the large spread of breakfast foods on the table. "What's all this for?"
He pulled out a chair for her. "Don't you know what today is?"
Kathryn thought for a moment. "Sunday? You made a Sunday brunch?"
Sitting across from her, he said, "Not just any Sunday. It's Mother's Day."
"Really?" she smiled as he served her.
"So I thought I would make an old-fashioned Sunday brunch to celebrate your first Mother's Day. That's why I reworked the schedule so we could both be off duty."
"I'm not exactly a mother, yet." Extremely hungry, she wasn't shy about diving in.
"Then we'll celebrate your first again next year."
She was happy, very happy. The last month had been very quiet. Seven was making real progress, the ship was running efficiently, and she was becoming comfortable with the idea that she was going to have a daughter. They enjoyed their meal, chatting happily throughout.
Afterwards, Chakotay told her to close his eyes while he went to the sleeping area to retrieve something. When he returned, he told her to open her eyes. She found a wooden cradle on the floor in front of her.
"Oh, Chakotay. It's beautiful!" She kneeled down and carefully touched the intricate carvings.
"I thought you'd like it."
Admiring it, she said, "You carved this."
He kneeled down with her. "I carved the design, but the rest was made with a lathe and a band-saw on the holodeck."
"Where did you get the wood?"
Shrugging, he said, "On a shore leave."
Sure that he wasn't being truthful she said, "Out with it. Where did it come from?"
He stood. "I saved some wood from New Earth knowing that it would be hard to find when I felt like picking up my tools again."
She stood with him. "You haven't done any woodworking since then?"
"It didn't feel right. Everything I made on New Earth was for our home." He left the rest unsaid.
Touching his arm, she said, "And this is for our daughter's home. It's perfect."
"I hoped you would think so. I also want to make a baby bed. She can use this for her dolls when she's older."
"Sounds wonderful." She kneeled down again. "Show me what you've carved."
Pointing to the center of the headboard area, he asked, "Can you see the dove?"
"Oh!" The shapes jumped out at her. "I see it… and a scale, a sextant, telescope, and what's that?" She pointed to the bottom right corner.
He tugged on his ear. "That is an attempt at carving a tricorder."
She laughed. "Oh, I can see it now."
"Sure you can."
"Really. It's very clearly a rectangle with buttons on it." They laughed together. "So why did you carve those things?"
"It's a tradition to hang the tools appropriate for a successful adult life on the headboard of a newborn's bed."
"Okay, I can see the tools, but what about the dove? Is that for Chenoa?"
"I wasn't sure that you remembered."
"Of course I do. I hope it's okay that I've been calling her that when I talk to her."
"You've been calling her Chenoa?"
"I like the name… and after all, you're the eldest member of our little tribe here. So would you like to name her that?"
"Actually, I think Tuvok would be the oldest. Would you like him to name her?"
She chuckled. "No, not really."
He looked at her very seriously. "That's what you really want?"
She patted his knee. "Yes, it is. Chenoa Janeway."
She took his hand and pulled them both to a standing position. "It's a fitting name."
He looked at her for a moment and then remembered that he had something else. He picked up a padd off the desk and handed it to her. "Something else for Mother's Day."
"The cradle is already too much," she said as she turned on the padd and sat down in a chair to read it. It contained schematics for revised crew quarters. "What is this?"
He sat on the arm of the chair and pointed to the display. "I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to reconfigure our quarters to add a room for Chenoa."
Kathryn pursed her lips and nodded without saying anything.
Nervous about her reaction, he continued, "Our living rooms are at the far ends, lavatories next, then each of our sleeping areas. Chenoa's room is in between with a door to each sleeping area, and a door to the corridor for a caregiver to use when we're on duty."
She was quiet for a moment. "I'm not sure what to say."
Not sure why she was hesitant, he said, "It's just an idea. Did you have something else in mind?"
"Well." She swallowed. "I hadn't planned on making any changes at all. I figured I'd just put the baby's bed in my sleeping area."
Chakotay stood. "I see." He started clearing away the breakfast dishes and then stopped to say, "I guess I shouldn't have assumed."
"Assumed what?" she asked defensively.
He put down the dish that he was holding. "That I would be a part of her life."
She stood. "I never said you wouldn't be a part of her life. The entire reason we changed her DNA was so that she would have a father."
"Exactly what do you mean by father?"
Very defensive, she asked, "What kind of question is that?"
He picked up a stack of dishes and dumped them into the recycler. "I want to know what part I will have in her life."
She stopped him before he grabbed more dishes. "You'll be her father. You'll spend time together learning and having fun. She'll be able to come to you when she needs guidance."
He cut her off. "That's not the way I see a father. That's an uncle or friend. That's what I am to Naomi."
Her tone softened. "No, it's more than that. Much more."
Getting frustrated, he said, "Kathryn, I assumed that we would share custody of the baby."
"We can do that without sharing quarters."
He tried to keep his anger contained. "I don't want to have to schedule visiting hours. I just want to share access to her and give her open access to both of us. And we're not sharing quarters. There are two separate living and sleeping areas in that plan."
"If she has open access to both of us then you will too. That certainly sounds like shared quarters to me."
"What are you worried about? That I might encroach on your privacy?"
"Yes! That's exactly what I'm worried about."
He was obviously aggravated. "Fine. We can put a lock on the doors to our quarters that allows only Chenoa through."
"That's not acceptable. She will be living with me and you can spend time with her whenever you want. End of discussion."
Incensed, he said, "You can't just end this discussion like that. I'm asking to be a part of my daughter's life. And I want to be a hell of a lot more than a glorified babysitter."
Losing her patience, she said, "Chakotay, you're her father. You will be there for her when she needs you. You will love her, teach her, guide her, and watch her grow up."
"That's what your father was to you - someone to teach and guide you once in awhile. That's not the kind of father that I intend to be."
Angry, she said, "How dare you say that about my father."
"From what you've told me, it's true."
"And you say that I get too personal? That is over the line, Commander!"
"Dammit, Kathryn! This is as personal as it gets! I'm not going to ask for permission to speak freely about our daughter!"
His glare ice-cold, he said, "I think you had better leave before you say anything else that you might regret."
She threw the padd down and walked out.
Several hours later when they had cooled down, Kathryn rang the chime to Chakotay's quarters. She entered to find him sitting at his desk drinking tea and working on his computer.
He turned his chair to face her. "Hi."
She stood near the doorway with her arms crossed. "I don't think I properly thanked you for the cradle. It's very beautiful."
Guarded, he said, "I'm glad you like it."
"I was thinking that I could make an afghan for it."
"That would be nice."
She shrugged. "Maybe I could sew in an alpha quadrant star chart so she could find her way home."
"Very appropriate." He set his cup down. "Kathryn, I need to apologize for what I said about your father."
She was quiet for a moment before she said, "My father was gone a lot, and I always wanted more from him. Even though I'm almost forty, it still hurts when I think about it."
"I'm really sorry."
"I always wanted more from my father. I want Chenoa to have more time with you than I had with Dad." She looked at him. "I don't know how this is going to work out, but it has to."
He stood and came over to her. Taking her hands, he said, "And we can't let ourselves fight like that."
"No. It's not good for anyone."
"Especially not for Chenoa here." Chakotay reached out to touch Kathryn's stomach. "May I?" he asked her.
She took his hand and pressed it against her slightly bulging tummy. "According to what I've read, I should have felt the first movement by now, but I haven't felt anything yet."
"Have you asked the Doctor?"
"He said there isn't anything to worry about. Everything checks out fine."
Chakotay spent another moment touching his daughter and then pulled his hand away. "May I get you anything to drink?"
She shook her head. "No, I'm fine." She followed him over to the couch and sat down. The padd was still where she had thrown it, so she picked it up and turned it back on. "We need to find a compromise."
He asked, "What do you have in mind?"
"We can build two rooms for her. One in each of our quarters."
"Assuming the rooms will be the same size as the one in those plans, that would take an additional 4 meters. We could do it, but it might mean that our living and sleeping areas would be combined."
She thought about it for a minute. "That won't work. I have too many crewmembers that visit me in my quarters."
"Me too. I'd have to make my bed every day."
She laughed and was glad the tension was broken. "You don't make your bed?"
"I don't see why. I'm just going to get back into it."
"Yes, you are a contrary."
Chakotay suggested, "She could have her own quarters with an extra sleeping area for one of us, depending on who was with her that night."
"I didn't think we had spare quarters on this deck?"
"We don't. It would have to be on deck six."
"That's awfully far away, and I think I would be spending all my time down there feeding her."
"Do you really think my idea of putting locks on the doors to each of our quarters is bad one?"
She was quiet for a minute. "No, I suppose not." She looked at him. "Can you give me some time to think about it?"
"Of course." He squeezed her hand.
They spent the rest of the day talking and growing closer as they discussed their fathers and their memories from childhood.
A few days later (Preceding and during Random Thoughts)…
Kathryn and Chakotay walked towards the transporter room while she gave him last minute instructions. "Can you manage without us awhile? I'd like to get some fresh air."
He smiled, "Of course. It will be good for you." Just before they reached the transporter room door, he took her arm to stop her. "However, promise that you'll stay with the others and be careful."
She looked at him reprovingly. "I'm a big girl, Commander. I can take care of myself."
He sighed. "I know. I'm just feeling over-protective with that precious cargo you're carrying."
She laid her hand on his chest. "I promise I'll hold my buddy's hand the whole time."
He shook his head and rolled his eyes. Ushering her along to the transporter, he said, "See that you do."
Later, after the beating took place in the Mari marketplace, Tuvok and Kathryn returned to the ship. When she entered the bridge, she said to Chakotay, "Commander, join us in the ready room. We have a problem."
After the door closed, Chakotay asked, "What happened?"
Kathryn said, "B'Elanna has been arrested."
Tuvok answered. "For having violent thoughts. One of the Mari citizens beat another and Chief Examiner Nimira believes that Lt. Torres's thoughts were the cause of it."
"What?" Chakotay asked in disbelief.
Kathryn said, "We have one day to get to the bottom of it before they erase some of her memory engrams and potentially cause neurological damage."
"Do you have a plan?" Chakotay asked.
"Tuvok and I are going to go over what we know. Get the rest of the crew back on board. I don't want anyone else getting accused of anything."
Chakotay nodded. "Will do. Let me know if I can do anything else." He returned to the bridge.
Chakotay joined Kathryn on the turbolift as she was leaving the bridge. He said, "I hope you're not planning on returning to the planet."
"I need to check on B'Elanna."
"Computer, stop turbolift."
Kathryn sighed and turned towards him. "Don't even start."
"How many violent thoughts are running through your head right now?"
She pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. "Plenty and they're mostly directed at you."
"Kathryn, please let Tuvok handle this."
She took a deep breath and looked at him intently. "I can't sit on this ship for the next four months, you know."
"But you also don't need to be where random beatings are taking place."
She rubbed her neck. "Fine. Send Tom to check on her. However… next time I want to leave this ship, you're not stopping me."
"I promise I'll only keep you here if weapons or fists are flying."
She shook her head in annoyed amusement and said, "Computer, resume turbolift."
A few days later….
"Happy Birthday, Kathryn." Chakotay handed her a small box. They had just finished eating her birthday dinner and were now sharing a bottle of sparkling cider.
She took the gift with a huge smile on her face. "You didn't have to get me anything."
He chuckled. "But I can see from the smile on your face that you're glad I did."
She opened the box and found a pocket watch. She carefully took it out and set the box down. She looked up at him and asked, "A watch?"
He smiled. "With 19th century mechanical movement. It's a replica of the chronometer worn by Captain Cray of the British Navy. His ship was hit by a typhoon in the Pacific. Everyone back in England thought they were killed, but eight months later Cray sailed the ship into London Harbor. There wasn't much left of it - a few planks, half a sail, but he got his crew home."
As she listened to him and looked at the watch, she was surprised that she felt disappointed. It's not that she didn't like the gift, but it wasn't what she'd expected. She had been preparing to argue with him about a gift that was too romantic. This wasn't romantic at all. And now she was surprised that she was unhappy about it.
He could tell by the expression on her face that something was wrong. "You don't like it."
She looked and said, "What?" When she realized that she had heard his question, she said, "No, I like it very much." She pasted a smile on her face. "It's perfect. Thank you."
Confused by her reaction, he let it go. He had wanted to give her something more sentimental and romantic, but thought that would push her too much at this point. He changed the topic to ship's gossip, and they spent the rest of the evening discussing the crew.
When Kathryn climbed into bed later that night, she picked up the watch and studied it. It was a very nice watch and exactly the type of gift that she would have appreciated very much under different circumstances. She placed her hand on the ever-growing bulge in her abdomen. Now six months pregnant, she thought maybe the hormones were making her sentimental and wishy-washy. Deciding she would think on it more the next day, she settled herself into bed and fell asleep.
Three days later (at the ending of "Concerning Flight")…
After they had retrieved the stolen ship's computer and a few other items, the crew had begun the process of replacing everything else that was stolen. Chakotay and Kathryn stood in the cargo bay looking at the flying machine that DaVinci had created on the planet. Chakotay took a deep breath and said, "You jumped off a cliff in this?"
She pulled at her collar a little and scratched her neck. "I did, Yes."
"What if I hadn't come along?"
"But you did."
He shook his head. "I kept my promise though. I didn't stop you from going down there."
"No, you didn't say a word."
They were still staring at the large flying contraption and not looking at each other. "You were being shot at you know."
She nodded and clucked her tongue. "I know."
"I was worried."
She reached over and took his hand. "So was the Maestro. He didn't think a pregnant woman had any sense traveling to the New World in the first place."
He sighed and squeezed her hand. "But you're safe now."
She smiled and looked at him. When she had drawn his eyes to her she winked and said, "For the moment."
He shook his head and started to follow her out the door. She stopped right in front of him as he said, "Just let me know when you're ready to have this thing disassembled."
She sucked in her breath and put her hand on her belly. "Oh."
Alarmed, he asked, "Is something wrong?" He steadied her with a hand on her shoulder.
She pressed his hand into her belly. "Do you feel that? She's kicking."
He concentrated for a long minute. "I don't feel anything."
Kathryn had a huge smile on her face. "There's a baby in there."
Chuckling he said, "You just realized that? No wonder you went hang gliding."
"That was pretty stupid."
"I thought so."
"It was that or phaser fire."
Shaking his head, he said, "I hope you realize that I will be locking you in your quarters for the next four months."
She gave him a reproachful glare and then took his hand to lead him out of the cargo bay.
Three weeks later (during Mortal Coil)…
Chakotay, Tom, and Neelix had gone on an away mission to gather proto-matter from a nebula and had returned with a lifeless Neelix. The Doctor and Seven were attempting to revive him with Borg nanaprobe technology that would reverse cellular necrosis.
After they left sickbay, Kathryn pulled Chakotay into a storage room to speak with him privately. Facing him, she placed her hands on his arms and looked up with very sad eyes. "Oh, Chakotay."
He pulled her into a hug. "Let's hope that Seven's technology works."
Her head on his shoulder, she said, "Please tell me there was no danger of you being the one in sickbay right now." The thought of him dead was one that shook her to the core, and even more so now that she was carrying their child. She had been surprised lately that all the feelings for him that she thought she had buried were swelling within her.
Always protective when she showed her vulnerability, he squeezed her tight. "I'm okay."
"I feel awful thinking that." She closed her eyes and let herself absorb the warmth of his presence.
He kissed the top of her head. "Come on, let's get to bridge."
Later, after Seven and the Doctor were successful and Neelix had recovered, the crew was in the mess hall celebrating Prixin, the Talaxian annual festival of family.
Tuvok opened the celebration. "Welcome to the first night of Prixin, the Talaxian observance of familial allegiance. This year, Mr. Neelix has requested that I commence the celebration with the traditional salutation. 'We do not stand alone. We are in the arms of family: father, mother, sister, brother, father's father, father's mother, father's brother, mother's brother, fa-....' Suffice it to say the list is extensive. 'We gather this day to extol the warmth and joy of those unshakable bonds. Without them we could not call ourselves complete. On this day we are thankful to be together. We do not stand alone.'"
Kathryn stood next to Chakotay while Tuvok spoke of the bonds of family. When Chakotay glanced at her and smiled, she returned the smile and discretely placed her hand in his. She could feel in her heart that she and Chakotay were becoming closer every day and that their little family would be very strong with those unshakable bonds that Tuvok was talking about.
A few days later (during "Waking Moments")…
During a quiet afternoon on the bridge, Harry and Tom decided to try to guess the baby's name. Tom offered another possibility. "How about Harriet?"
Harry rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, "Oh, that's great, Tom."
"It would be an honor for you, Harry. Even better than a promotion!"
Kathryn laughed and said, "No, it's not Harriet." She looked up at ops. "But if I had a boy, I would definitely consider Harry."
Harry blushed, but didn't say anything in response.
Samantha offered, "I think you should name her after your sister, Captain."
"Phoebe?" Kathryn warmed with thoughts of her sister. "She was pregnant when we left. She told me she'd name the baby after me if I made it back in time for the delivery."
Chakotay reached over to hold her hand as Tom said, "And if you didn't, what was she going to name it?"
"Can you believe that I didn't think to ask?"
Before anyone had a chance to respond, the ship shook and Kathryn stood. "Red Alert!"
Tuvok reported, "We're under fire!"
The ship shook violently again and Chakotay watched Kathryn stumble to the floor. He called out, "Raise shields! Return fire!"
The battle seemed to go on around him in a blur as Chakotay kneeled to help Kathryn. She was obviously in considerable pain, and clutching the side of her distended belly. In the background, he heard Tuvok say that the enemy had been disabled. Then Tom was with him, scanning Kathryn with a medical tricorder. He heard Tom call out to sickbay and said something about the placenta. Chakotay looked up towards the view screen and saw a bony-looking alien standing there staring at him.
Chakotay woke from the nightmare and sat up straight in bed. His breathing was rapid as he searched for and found his com-badge. "Chakotay to Janeway!"
Hearing the alarm in his voice, she answered, "Chakotay? What's wrong?"
He swung his feet over the side of the bed. "Kathryn. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Having a little trouble sleeping, but I'm okay."
Sighing in relief, he said, "May I come over? I think I need to see you."
"Sure. Come on."
He didn't even take time to dress. When he arrived, she was also still in her nightclothes. Chakotay pulled her into a hug. "You're okay."
She wrapped her arms around his broad back and held him close. "I'm fine. What happened?"
He pulled back and put his hands on her pregnant belly. "And Chenoa is okay?"
"Actually, I was thinking about calling you." She moved his hand to the side and pressed it into the baby. "She's really moving and I thought you might want to feel it."
"Moving?" Chakotay gasped as he felt something move under his hand. "That's her?"
Kathryn smiled and nodded. "She is very active tonight. Between her and some bad dreams, I haven't been able to sleep."
His hand still on her stomach, he said, "As you can probably guess, I had a bad dream too. More of a nightmare, actually."
Taking his hand and leading him to the couch, she said, "I gathered." They sat down and she curled into his side, bringing his arm around her so that both of his hands rested on the baby. "Tell me about it?"
He sighed. "Oh, the usual… Ship came under attack, you got hurt, I froze." His hands moved around, trying to find the baby's movements again.
"And what do I say every time you have this dream?" She moved his fingers to the right spot and she relaxed into him a little deeper.
"Yeah, I know. I'll never freeze when it really happens."
"You never do."
"But this time, Chenoa was in danger."
"When the time comes, you'll realize that she won't be safe if the ship isn't safe."
She shrugged. "It's what I keep trying to tell myself."
Bringing both of them into a relaxing position, he said. "We'll just have to keep each other on task."
Sleepily, she nodded. "We will."
The baby moved again and Chakotay gasped. "There she is!" He watched her stomach in awe as he concentrated on watching for another movement. A few minutes later, he realized that Kathryn was asleep so he bent his head down and kissed the top of her head. Quietly, he said, "Goodnight, my Kathryn."
A couple weeks later (at the end of "Message in a Bottle")…
Kathryn, Chakotay, and Tuvok hurried to sickbay to greet the Doctor upon his return from the alpha quadrant, hoping not only that he had made it back safely, but that he had also brought back some really good news.
When the Doctor materialized he said, "Starfleet declared Voyager officially lost fourteen months ago, but I set the records straight. I told them everything that has happened to this crew. Starfleet has contacted your families with the news, and promises that they will work nonstop to find a way to get Voyager back home. I also have a message for Voyager: 'You're no longer alone.'"
A little chocked up, Kathryn said, "60,000 light years seems a little closer today." She reached out to the Doctor. "Thank you so much."
He glowed under her appreciation. "Well, what's a hologram to do?" He looked at her belly and said, "May I give you a quick checkup? I feel like I've missed out not being here."
"Sure." She turned around and said, "Tuvok, can you take the bridge?" At Chakotay's questioning look she told him, "Stay with me."
He nodded and helped her up onto a biobed while the Doctor went to find his tools. Chakotay asked, "Are you feeling all right?"
"Yes. Actually, I feel great." Suddenly worried that he didn't want to be there, she offered, "But you don't have to stay. I just thought…"
"Of course I want to stay," he said reassuringly. "You just haven't invited me to any appointments since the DNA replacement and I thought something might be bothering you." Taking her hands in his, he said, "You've been very quiet in the last couple of weeks."
"I haven't invited you?" She looked surprised and then realized it was true and stated, "I haven't."
"Don't worry about it."
She could tell that his feelings were hurt. "I'm sorry. I just didn't even think about it."
"It's okay." At her disbelieving expression, he added, "Really. Just as long as I get to be here for her birth."
"Unless the ship is under fire and Tuvok is incapacitated, you'd better be."
He chuckled. "Yes, Ma'am."
"Would you like to hear her heartbeat and see the internal scan image?"
"I would love to."
The Doctor returned, grumbling about Tom's disorganization and did a scan of Kathryn and the baby. He said, "Everything looks perfect."
Kathryn asked the Doctor, "Can you show Chakotay the internal scan image? And put her heartbeat on audio?"
"Of course." The Doctor was thrilled to show off his improved scanning technology again. He had Kathryn lie down and then he raised the biobed arch over her.
Kathryn watched Chakotay's face start to glow when the Doctor showed them what the baby looked like inside. When the heartbeat audio was turned on, Chakotay looked at Kathryn with joy in his eyes. "I think that is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard."
Smiling, she said, "It is, isn't it?" She closed her eyes and let the sound of the rapid heartbeat surround her. When she felt Chakotay's fingers caress her hair, she decided that maybe she wasn't the most unlucky woman in the galaxy after all.
Three weeks later (at the end of "Hunters")…
Chakotay and Kathryn were sitting on the couch in her ready room. They had just survived an encounter with their newest adversaries, the Hirogen, and had received part of a transmission from the alpha quadrant containing letters from home. Kathryn had received a letter from Mark saying that he had given up hope and gotten married.
Chakotay asked, "How are you doing?"
He snorted and said, "You'd say that if you just had your legs torn off by a Trachon beast." He continued. "Look what you've been through in the last few days. We finally make a connection with home and it's ripped away from us."
Kathryn's head fell back on the sofa.
"We manage to make another enemy who's going to try and hunt us down and destroy us." He watched as she began rubbing her head. "And on top of that…"
"It's all right. You can say it. On top of all that, I got a 'Dear John' letter." She sighed. "It wasn't really a surprise. I guess I didn't really expect him to wait for me considering the circumstances. It made me realize that I was using him as a safety net. You know… as a way to avoid becoming involved with someone else."
Chakotay's heart started beating faster. "You don't have that safety net anymore."
"That's right," Kathryn agreed.
"I've said it before Kathryn, and I'll say it again… You're not alone and to my way of thinking, there's still plenty of time."
She shook her head. "No, there's not."
"No?" His heart quickened even more.
Kathryn put her hand on her large belly. "We have a daughter that will be born in a few months."
He nodded, not sure what to say. She had been so unpredictable lately that he was nervous about misreading her.
Taking his hand, she said, "Chakotay, I've been avoiding this for a very long time." She looked up into his eyes. "I've continually reminded myself of my engagement to Mark to keep from thinking about starting a relationship."
He swallowed. "But you don't have that excuse anymore."
Shaking her head, she said, "No, I don't… and I think I've known that for awhile."
"So what's been stopping you?"
Her eyes were locked with his. "I've thought a lot about that recently."
Voice thick with emotion, she said, "I think I'm afraid."
He tilted his head in concern. "Afraid of what?"
With sadness in her eyes, she said, "Afraid of falling in love again."
"Why does that make you sad?" He held her hands between his.
She struggled against threatening tears. "Damn these hormones! They make me so emotional."
Calmly, he said, "It's okay. It's just me."
She pulled her hands away and wiped the moisture out of her eyes. "Chakotay, I've lost everyone I've ever loved. I don't think I can take any more. I'm already scared to death that I might lose this child, not to mention the nightmare of losing you."
He held his breath. "Does that mean you love me?"
She released her breath. "Of course I do." She shook her head. "I don't know how or when it happened, but in the last month it's dawned on me that I'm in love with you and that I have no idea what to do about it. I'm terrified and flustered, completely stressed and happier than I can ever remember being." Looking at him, she said, "And on top of all that, I have no idea how you feel."
Doing his best to keep from crying out in joy, he asked, "No idea at all?"
Her heart swelled when she saw his elation. "I don't want to be wrong."
Chakotay shook his head in amazement as he leaned forward and drew her closer. He gently cupped her face and wiped away her falling tears with his thumbs. "Kathryn."
Her breathing was heavy in anticipation as his lips descended to hers - the warmth rushing through her like an ocean wave crashing upon a shore. His fingers slowly traced their way back to her neck and threaded up into her hair, pulling the kiss even deeper.
"Neelix to the ready room. The party's about to begin and there are only two people missing."
Kathryn pulled back with a slight gasp. Her eyes not leaving Chakotay's, she tapped her com-badge and said, "We're on our way."
His fingers were still curled in her hair. "Just in case that leaves any doubt in your mind whatsoever… I love you, Kathryn. I can't promise that nothing will ever happen to me or our daughter, but I can try my best to make every day of our lives full of love."
His words took their time sinking in. When they did, a lop-sided smile followed. "I love you too." She chuckled. "And I can't believe that I've told you."
A huge smile on his face, he drew his hands down to her shoulders, and then down her arms to hold her wrists. "Go out with me tomorrow night."
"A regular, normal, romantic date on the holodeck."
"All right. After all the bad news we've received, we deserve a night of spoiling ourselves. And it will give us time to discuss the ramifications of this conversation."
He shook his head. "No discussing ramifications of anything."
"No." He leaned forward and gave her a soft kiss. "Come on, we have a party to get to." He rose and offered her his arm. "Would you be my date?"
Laughing, Kathryn took it and said, "I would love to." Together, they left her ready room and headed for the party.
Two days later…
"For you." Chakotay pulled a peace rose from behind his back.
Kathryn pushed her computer terminal away and took the rose. "It's beautiful."
"So are you." He came around behind her desk and leaned back against it to face her.
Laughing, she said, "Oh, please, spare me."
He leaned down and took her lips into a soft and tender kiss. When he pulled back, he touched her cheek and said, "You are very beautiful."
Blushing a little, she asked, "Are you always this romantic or is this just because you're wooing me?"
"Hmmm… maybe I'm just trying to get my captain off-balance so I can take over her ship."
"Is that so?" She stood and leaned against him. Still holding the rose, she put her arms around his neck. "You think a rose and a kiss is enough to knock me off my feet?"
"I was hoping." Their lips were very close as he spoke.
"Well… I was hoping for another date."
"You enjoyed last night?" They'd had their second date the previous night - a candlelit dinner in her quarters.
"I did, very much… at least until I fell asleep on you." She laid her head on his shoulder. "Sorry about that."
"I didn't mind. You're beautiful when you're asleep."
Looking back up into his eyes, she asked, "So is it gluttonous of us to have dates three nights in a row?"
"I've already reserved the holodeck and I'm here to take you away."
"The rose is your lure?"
"Not exactly. More like… a celebration of your life."
Surprised, she asked, "My life?"
"I planned a sailing trip on Lake George for us."
"Oh." She realized that he was talking about their celebration following her near-death experience and pulled out of his arms. "It's been a whole year, hasn't it?"
Capturing her hand as she drew away, he said, "I didn't mean to make you sad."
"It's okay. I just didn't remember." She breathed in the scent of the rose and decided not to let the pain of what happened a year ago get her down. "But you said celebration, right?"
He smiled. "I did."
"Then let's go."
Later that evening, Kathryn put on a soft sundress and they took the sailboat out. After their picnic dinner, they let the boat drift on the calm water as they relaxed on the deck. She reclined in Chakotay's arms and stared up at the stars. "We're not going to have too many more chances to do this before Chenoa comes."
"And then we'll find a babysitter. I don't think that will be too much of a problem." His thumbs drew lazy circles on the backs of her hands.
"Our life is really going to change."
"For the better." He kissed her cheek. "Speaking of babysitters, I've received a lot of unsolicited requests to watch her while we're on duty."
"Everyone is really going to help us, aren't they?"
He spread his hands across her belly to caress the baby. "Our big Voyager family. Everyone is very excited about having another baby onboard."
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, fully enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat, the scent of the man she loved, the warmth of his arms, the touch of his fingers as they stroked across her belly, and the feel of her baby inside. Arching her back against him, Kathryn pushed her hands up along his arms and relaxed into him further.
He gazed at her soft body laid out before him, noticing how the soft fabric highlighted her curves and created an aura of sensuality. With her arms lifted, the low neckline exposed more of her cleavage than she had probably intended, but he didn't mind. He drew his fingers up her side, grazing her breast along the way. She gasped at the sensitive touch and then moaned softly. As his fingers moved further up her body, she turned her face toward his to encourage his fingers in their graceful dance along her extended neck. Ever so slowly, he traced down her low and open neckline to the swell of her breast.
A deep, overwhelming warmth spread through her as he softly skated his fingers back and forth along the rise of her breast, dipping just underneath the lacey edge of her bra. When his touch found the valley between her breasts, she slowly and breathlessly said, "Oh, Chakotay."
His movements paused as she lifted her face up to his. She threaded her fingers in his hair to pull his lips down to meet hers. The warmth of his kiss intensified the heat within her as his lips softly and gently moved against her mouth. She drew his free hand up from where it had been caressing the baby to her breast. He gasped into her mouth as she pressed his fingers into her soft bosom.
"Kathryn," he said against her lips while kneading the soft breast with his hand.
"Mmmm hmmm?" She urged his lips to continue.
"We have to stop."
She didn't agree. "Hmmm mmmm." Pulling his lips down to her's again, she deepened the kiss and coaxed his tongue into playing with hers.
Giving it another long moment, he let himself enjoy her kiss as much as possible. He cupped both breasts tenderly and let his thumbs run across the hardened peaks.
Breaking the kiss, she arched her back with a gasp. "Oh!"
He dropped his hands to her waist as she sat up. "I'm sorry."
She turned to look at him. "Don't be. I don't know if it's the long abstinence or the pregnancy, but I think I might be a bit more sensitive than usual."
He cupped her jaw and gave her a soft kiss. "We need to cool down. I didn't reserve the holodeck for the entire night."
"I imagine it's probably getting pretty late." She wrapped her arms around him in a hug. "Thank you for all of this."
His fingers made gentle circles on her back. "You're welcome. I love you, Kathryn."
Squeezing tighter, she responded, "I love you, too."
One month later…
"This is beautiful!" Kathryn stood on a white sand beach wearing a cotton dress and sandals. She shaded her eyes as she looked out over the clear turquoise water. "Is it an ocean?"
Chakotay put their picnic basket down. He was wearing a light linen top and shorts, looking ready for a day on the beach. "More like a sea."
"And we're the only ones here? I would think it would be crawling with tourists."
"It's private land owned by the governor. The cottage that he's letting us use is about 200 meters behind us." After a peaceful month with no sign of the Hirogen, Voyager had arrived at a star system surrounded by a huge web of security stations. The inhabitants of the system were very similar to humans and had an impressive defense system to protect their population from the Hirogen. The aliens had been very welcoming and had provided a considerable amount of supplies in exchange for information about space beyond Hirogen territory.
Now that trade negotiations had been finalized, the crew was taking a week of shore leave. They would need to be ready to fight when they left, because their new friends warned them that there were more Hirogen to come. They had offered to let Voyager's crew settle there to avoid further encounters with the Hirogen, but the crew had made the unanimous decision to forge ahead.
Chakotay had made arrangements to take Kathryn away from the ship for the entire week to get some much needed rest. She slowly spun around, taking everything in. "This is incredible. I want to go stick my feet in the water."
"I'll join you." They toed off their shoes and walked hand-in-hand down to the water.
Kathryn took a deep breath and lifted her face to the sky. "I miss the sun."
Chakotay held her close as her face was lifted upward. "I bet it misses your radiance just as much."
She laughed. "Oh, you are so full of it."
He didn't have to ask twice. Her lips met his and the passion that had been steadily growing between them over the last month rose even higher.
Kathryn's eyes remained closed as they drew apart. "We get an entire week to do nothing but this?" When he didn't answer, she opened her eyes to see why.
Stroking her cheek, he said, "There is one other thing I want you to do while we're here."
"I think you should marry me."
"Down here?" she asked.
"I want you to feel like Kathryn when we get married, and I know that on the ship…"
"I'm always the captain," she finished for him.
"Okay?" Had he heard her right?
Smiling at his surprise, she said, "You weren't expecting me to agree?"
"I was at least expecting to debate it a little."
"Well, go ahead and convince me if it's that important to you."
He frowned. "I worked on my speech for days… practiced it in the shower, while getting dressed, when working out..."
She wrapped her arms around the back of his neck and smiled. "I have a secret."
"I was planning on asking you the same question tonight."
"If you were hoping I'd say yes, then why do you find that hard to believe?"
"I'm just surprised. Thrilled, but surprised."
"Well, I've already bound myself to you for life through our child. Why not make it official?"
Eyebrows scrunched, he asked, "I was hoping you would marry me because you love me."
She laughed and gave him a quick kiss. "Well, that too. I love you and I would love to marry you."
"Then I hope you don't mind that I've made arrangements to have a wedding tomorrow."
She pulled back. "Tomorrow?"
"Here, on this beach. I've made arrangements with a local official to conduct the wedding. According to their laws, we don't need any witnesses."
"No witnesses? Can't we wait until we get back to Voyager so the crew can attend?"
"I'd rather not have a Starfleet wedding, if that's okay."
She hadn't thought of that. "All right."
"I thought having it here, in this beautiful place, would be romantic."
"But then Tuvok, and B'Elanna, and the others wouldn't be able to attend."
"I know. It would be just you and me… a special, private memory that we don't have to share with anyone."
She placed her hand on his chest. "This is really important to you, isn't it?"
"Oh, I've just been getting excited while planning. But if you want to wait and do the ceremony on Voyager, we could. But I'd rather not wear a uniform."
Uncertain, he questioned, "Okay?"
"We'll go ahead with the wedding you've planned here, tomorrow, but we'll keep it a secret from the crew. And then when we all beam back on board, we'll have Neelix throw a holodeck reception and announce it to them all at once."
Smiling, he said, "That would be perfect."
She cuddled up to him again. "Now that we've got that solved… feed me. Your daughter and I are starving."
The next evening…
"That was weird." Chakotay sat next to Kathryn on a blanket, watching the waves roll in. Their wedding official had left about thirty minutes earlier with instructions that to solidify their bond, the happy couple were to remain in silence until the sun set.
Kathryn sighed. "I'm afraid that I have to agree with you."
"I've heard of odd traditions at weddings, but this one takes the cake."
"Well, Betazoids get married without clothing."
Glancing sideways, Chakotay said, "Yes, but they don't use finger paint on each other's bodies."
"Ceremonial Bonding Oil."
"Whatever. It was weird."
She laughed. "And it tickled."
"Do you think it will come off?"
"I hope so. Not that the 'amulets of devotion' decorating my body aren't lovely."
Chakotay admired her 'amulets.' "I have to admit that I definitely enjoyed painting them on you."
"But with the official watching?"
"I guess that's why they have no other witnesses."
She scratched her head. "I'm afraid we're meant to use these as a wedding night roadmap."
"That could be fun."
At eight months pregnant, Kathryn wasn't so sure. "I don't think all of my 'amulets of devotion' will be aligning with your 'amulets of devotion' with Chenoa here in the way."
"It could be fun trying." He stood and dusted the sand off of his legs.
Kathryn looked up, admiring his nudity and her lovely art work. She nodded. "Not bad."
She could see him blush even in the fading twilight. She cleared her throat. "Good thing I've taken painting lessons from Da Vinci. Maybe if the oil doesn't come off, I can ask him to critique my work."
He groaned. "Come on, Mrs. Janeway."
She grabbed his outstretched hands and let him hoist her up off the ground. "That's my mother's name."
He picked up their blanket and shook the sand out. "Mrs. Chakotay then?"
Shaking her head, "Maybe you should just call me 'Your Woman'?"
"I would, but I like all my body parts intact, thank you very much." Taking her hand, he led her to the house.
She glanced over to admire him. "I do too."
He dusted sand off his rear. "I think I have sand in places I'd rather not."
Laughing, she said, "First order of business is a shower."
"The sand is sticking to the Ceremonial Bonding Oil."
"Lights up your amulets." She glanced at his backside in appreciation.
He shook his head and walked a little faster to get to the cottage.
Chakotay had hoped that showering together would be sensual, but instead, he found that Kathryn was unbelievably ticklish, and they ended up laughing uncontrollably as they washed each other. Most of the oil came off, but it did leave the skin stained a little. They were both thankful that there were no 'amulets' on their faces.
Finishing up in the bathroom, Chakotay wrapped a towel around his waist and turned off the light. He walked into the bedroom suite to find the moonlight casting a glow on his beautiful wife stretched out on her side. A satin robe covered her body, creating an ethereal aura. Almost giddy with happiness, he sat next to her and gazed upon her for a long moment.
"You okay?" Kathryn asked.
"Absolutely. I don't think I can recall a time when I've been this happy."
Stroking his cheek, she said, "You look happy."
He leaned down, pausing before his lips met hers. "But the real question is 'Are you happy, my lovely wife?'"
Her fingers delicately traced his hair line. "Very."
Lowering his lips, he let her soft mouth meet his. Her arms folded around him, bringing him down to rest on the bed along side her. The deep kiss intoxicated him as his tongue danced in her supple mouth and his hands cupped and stroked her bottom through the satiny fabric of her robe. Pausing to catch his breath, he pulled back to gaze into her eyes.
"Are you ready for this?" Her fingers were drawing delicate circles on his bare back, sending chills up his spine.
"Being married?" His fingers traveled slowly over her hip and then up to caress the underside of her breast.
Chuckling, she said, "Making love. We haven't managed to complete that little mission yet."
He kissed her softly, his fingers exploring her breast further. "There's no one to chase us out of the holodeck."
Breathing heavily, she said, "Not tonight."
His lips traveled down her neck to the base of her throat, planting a moist kiss on the hollow of her collarbone. "No danger of Tuvok calling us."
Peeling away her robe, his lips found the valley of her breasts. "You've had a restful two days, so you're not sleepy."
She yawned. "Don't say that. You'll jinx it."
As he let the robe slide off her, he said, "I didn't realize that my Kathryn, the scientist, was superstitious." She giggled as his lips followed the rise of the baby and found her navel. "But she does seem to be very ticklish."
She laughed and crossed her arms over her tummy to defend herself from him.
He rose away from her, moving her arms back down to rest on the bed. "You are so beautiful."
She seemed to bask in the glow of his adoration. "Thank you."
"Let's see if we can relax you a little. Maybe you won't be so ticklish."
He had her turn back to her side and he began massaging her shoulders and gradually worked his way down, spending a little extra time on her lower back and bottom. She stretched and made herself a little more comfortable when he got to her legs and feet. He took his time, fully enjoying her soft, smooth skin. When he began to work back up the front of her body, altering his touch to be more sensual, he realized that she was snoring softly. Chuckling to himself, he guessed that he jinxed her after all.
Careful not to wake her, he rose from the bed and pulled the sheet up to cover her. He walked around to the other side of the bed and crawled in behind her. As he gathered her into his arms to spoon her, she woke.
Sleepily she asked, "Fell asleep again?"
"Shhhhhh." He stroked her hair. "Go back to sleep."
She moaned softly. "But it's our wedding night."
Kissing the back of her shoulder, he said. "And I promise that tomorrow, the first day of our marriage, will be a day you'll never forget."
Obviously too tired to argue, she snuggled back into his embrace and quickly fell asleep again.
A few weeks later (During Killing Game)…
The Hirogen had taken over the ship and had been playing out their "hunt" with the crew in holographic simulations for nineteen days. The crew members that weren't involved in the simulations were either locked down in the cargo bays or being forced to add more holo-emitters throughout the ship to create a larger field of battle for the Hirogen. Those that were in the simulations had no memories of who they really were.
"Welcome to le coeur de lion! I'm Katrine. The first round is with my compliments, on one condition - you leave the war outside." Kathryn laughed to accentuate her demand that her restaurant be a peaceful place. She was in a World War II simulation of a town in France called St. Claire where a local resistance movement was waging a private war against the Germans who had taken control of the city. Kathryn moved around the dinner club, seating her customers and paying attention to her special guests.
Two Hirogen hunters entered the restaurant dressed as Nazis. Kathryn excused herself and spoke to her bartender, Tuvok. "Our new Kommandant?"
"British intelligence believes he's been sent to oversee the occupation of the city," Tuvok confirmed. "I've heard that he is a formidable military strategist and notorious for his cruelty." Tuvok added, "You should be careful, in your condition."
With a little steel in her voice, she says, "My 'condition' is called pregnancy, and, as I've told you before, I won't let it stop me." Pasting a smile on her face, she told Tuvok, "Make him feel at home. Send him a bottle of Chateau latour with my compliments."
"I hate to waste good wine. Give him the '36."
A few days later, the restaurant was quiet as a lull in the battle allowed the American soldiers to converse and make plans with the members of the resistance. A noise caused everyone to grab guns and aim them behind the bar where a cabinet rattled. When it opened, Kathryn poked her head out of a jeffries tube hatch and looked up to see multiple firearms aimed at her.
"Hold your fire," she said with command authority, and then continued crawling out, followed shortly after by Seven.
Tuvok said, "Katrine. You survived."
"Are you surprised?" With help from Seven, the Doctor, and Harry, she'd regained her memories and returned to the World War II simulation to enlist the help of her holographic persona's allies. Because she was no longer truly Katrine, she was skeptical of the welcome she might receive.
Lowering his weapon, Tuvok said, "Very surprised. Nazi headquarters was destroyed. We assumed you were killed in the explosion."
Suspicious, B'Elanna pointed to the jeffries tube and asked, "What is that? Some kind of escape tunnel?"
"That's precisely what it is," Seven answered.
Chakotay took in Kathryn's condition and asked, "You're the leader of the local resistance?"
She was very relieved to see that Chakotay was alive and well. Nodding in agreement, she said, "That's right. Is that a problem?"
He motioned towards her extended belly and said, "I wasn't expecting you to be with child."
Knowing this was a sore point with Katrine, Tuvok offered, "Katrine's husband was killed during the German occupation."
Having lost her false memory of her life in St. Claire, she was surprised by this information, but managed to cover it. She said, "My pregnancy does not affect my ability to lead the resistance."
"I won't argue. You've done a great job." He extended his hand. "I'm Captain Miller, Fifth Armored Infantry, and this is Lieutenant Davis."
A quirky smile accompanied her handshake. "It's a pleasure." She knew he wouldn't remember his real life, but it felt odd to be introducing herself to her own husband.
"I take it you've seen the German bunker we uncovered?"
Assuming he meant the hole in the holo-grid, she answered, "I just came from there."
"We suspect it's a munitions lab. Can you confirm that?"
Going along with whatever he suggested, she said, "Yes, a munitions lab."
"Then this is it. I'm calling out an air strike."
She stopped him. "Hold on, Captain. There's an easier way to do this, with a minimum of casualties."
"Let's hear it."
"I've located the generator that powers the entire complex. It's heavily guarded, but with your help, I can get close enough to set off some explosives."
"My orders are to blow the entire compound before the Germans send in reinforcements."
"Captain Miller, I saw technology in there you can't begin to imagine… warheads powerful enough to destroy this entire valley if they're detonated. Call for an air strike and it may be the last call you make." She was actually worried that the holographic bombs would further destroy her ship.
"How can you get close enough?"
"This tunnel." She pointed to the jeffries tube. "I've been watching this compound for several months and I've got a man inside."
Tom said, "But the place is crawling with Krauts."
"That's why I need your help." Pointing to a "map" of the bunker, she said, "If your men can clear these two corridors, it'll give us access to this entryway. Get me there and I can take care of the rest."
Chakotay agreed and handed out assignments to his soldiers. He turned back to her. "You'll lead us into the compound, but I'm coming with you."
"I work better alone."
"That wasn't a request. It was an order," Chakotay said. He wasn't about to let a lady go on a dangerous mission alone, not to mention a very pregnant lady. From the looks of her, he was sure she would go into labor at any second.
"Order? Do I look like I'm wearing one of your uniforms?" Janeway argued. "I go alone."
"I thought you needed our help? I'll be right behind you."
She reluctantly acquiesced knowing that two heads would be better than one and that she would feel better knowing he was nearby in case the baby decided to make an entrance. She had been feeling twinges of pain in her uterus since she was thrown in the explosion of the Nazi headquarters. She had been wondering if her holodeck persona, Katrine, had been feeling those early labor pains too.
A few minutes later, when the restaurant came under attack, Chakotay and Janeway headed for the escape tunnel. Chakotay opened the door and said, "Mademoiselle, after you."
As they crawled through the jefferies tube, Chakotay said, "You're a gung ho kind of gal, aren't ya?"
"Does that bother you?"
"Nope. Just not used to it, that's all. The girls back home are a little different."
"I guess when it comes to my people's safety, this girl tends to get a little 'gung ho,'" Kathryn admitted, sounding amused.
"There's nothing to apologize for. I'm the same way with my men. There's not a day goes by when I don't think to myself, 'I'm going to get 'em back to safety, even if I die trying.'"
Her voice softened. "I know the feeling."
"I find it hard to believe that you're able to do so much in your condition."
She cocked her head. "Believe it. I'm just doing what I have to do to insure a future for my daughter."
"How do you know it's a girl?"
She'd forgotten that the technology to verify gender hadn't been created at this point in history. "Just a hunch."
They went into the Klingon simulation where Kathryn spoke to the Doctor and formulated a plan to disable the neural interfaces. She decided to keep her labor pains a secret from him so that he wouldn't insist that she stay with him. Knowing that she had to work quickly before her pain became debilitating, she didn't want any time wasted.
Kathryn and Chakotay crawled back into the jeffries tube and worked their way up to sickbay, planting a bomb along the way. When they arrived, they found the only occupant to be the Hirogen doctor who they immediately apprehended. Chakotay escorted him out of sickbay at gunpoint, and Kathryn stayed behind to bring down the neural interfaces. The Hirogen doctor disarmed Chakotay and went back to stop Kathryn. Before Chakotay could go after him, he winced in pain as his neural interface was disabled and his memory returned. He immediately noticed the fighting in the holodeck, and not remembering that he was there helping Kathryn, headed to the battle to assist.
When the alien doctor got back to sickbay, he found Kathryn working at the computer terminal. He shot her in the leg as she ran out, but died as the bomb went off in sickbay. Kathryn was immediately apprehended by two Hirogen officers and was taken to her ready room to meet with the Hirogen Alpha where she was able to negotiate a cease-fire by offering to give the Hirogen holographic technology.
The Hirogen Beta and Tuvok received instructions from Kathryn and the Alpha to implement the cease-fire. Tuvok found Chakotay and had him convince the holographic soldiers to pull out of St. Claire.
After Chakotay gave out the cease-fire orders, he pulled Tuvok aside. "You heard directly from the captain?"
"Yes. She was meeting with the Hirogen Alpha."
Chakotay took a deep breath. "Then she's okay. I've been worried."
"If it makes you feel better, Seven of Nine told us that the captain is still pregnant and did not appear to be lacking any of her usual strength and determination."
"Thank you, Tuvok. That does make me feel better." Knowing that she could take care of herself, Chakotay went to help with the cease-fire.
However, the Hirogen Beta was convinced by one of the Nazi holograms to show no mercy for the weak and decided to restart the war on the holodeck rather than obey the cease-fire order. Once the battle was underway, he hunted down Kathryn and the Alpha so that he could assume command of the ship. He found them in engineering and murdered his commanding officer. Kathryn expected to be killed too, but the Hirogen told her to run so he could hunt her down in true Hirogen fashion.
Kathryn stayed ahead of the alien, but the fast pace was wearing out her exhausted and bleeding body. She tried not to let her fear cause her to panic and start making mistakes. Her pants leg was damp with the blood she was losing and the cramps in her abdomen were getting more powerful the more she ran. When she saw a gap in the holo-emitters in a corridor, she planned a trap and waited for the Hirogen to find her. While she was waiting, she appraised her pain and realized that she was running out of time… the contractions would be impossible to ignore much longer. Her focus returned to the hunt when she heard the Hirogen nearing. She drew him closer with a plea for her life and then attacked him with a piece of a broken bulkhead. She ran as fast as she could until she found a weapon and a better hiding place.
Meanwhile, the Hirogen regained his bearings and chased after her. He came to the opening in the holodeck and looked down upon his soldiers losing the battle. Janeway came up behind him and asked for surrender. When he refused and raised his weapon, she had no choice but to shoot him. He fell back into the opening of the holodeck and dropped to the deck below.
Kathryn saw the holo-emitters overload, and knowing that she could do nothing else to assist, sank down in a hidden corner to deal with her labor pains until someone found her. She hoped it would be a member of her crew rather than another alien out hunting prey.
On the holodeck, several Voyager crewmembers were injured including Seven, who had received a near-fatal bullet wound. The only Hirogen still alive on the holodeck confessed that most of the crew were locked down in the cargo bay.
Chakotay was handing out orders to retake control of the ship. "Paris, stay here with the injured until we can get a triage center set-up. Ayala, guard this Hirogen. Tuvok, take Sims and Thompson and go to the bridge to check in with the captain. Torres and Vorik, get to engineering and assess our situation. As soon as we find com-badges, put them on. If the com system isn't working now, I want us ready as soon as it is. Everyone else is coming with me to liberate the rest of our crew."
Taking the remaining three crewmen, Chakotay went to the cargo bay and the four of them easily overcame the Hirogen soldiers standing guard. The crew inside cheered when they saw their first officer. He held up his hands to quiet them so he could apprise them of the situation. After summarizing, he started outlining how they would retake the ship. "I need all of the security personnel to assist in apprehending any remaining Hirogen. Medical and science personnel are to get to the holodecks and mess hall to set up triage - we have a considerable number of wounded, sickbay is not functional, and the Doctor is offline. Engineering personnel: Lt. Torres will give you further instructions."
Ensign Stevens interrupted and handed him a box with all of their com-badges in it. He picked one up immediately and said, "Chakotay to Janeway." When no answer was received, he said, "Chakotay to bridge."
"Tuvok here, Commander."
Relieved that the com system was up, he motioned to Stevens to pass out the com-badges to the crew in the bay. "What's our status?"
"The bridge is secure. Ensign Kim had all of the Hirogen apprehended when I arrived. He reports that Captain Janeway left with the Hirogen Alpha several hours ago."
"Understood. I'm in the main cargo bay with the rest of the crew. They'll be returning to duty momentarily."
They cut the communication line just as Torres called. "Commander, engineering was empty except for a dead Hirogen. Vorik says he is the Alpha."
Chakotay's heart lurched… Harry said that Kathryn had been with the Alpha and now the Alpha was dead. "No sign of the captain?"
"Do we have internal sensors?"
"No, and we won't for some time."
"Understood. I'm sending your staff to you now." The crew waited in silence as he finished. "All right everyone. Get to work."
The crew easily regained control of the ship. There were only a handful of Hirogen left alive and their two commanding officers were both found dead. Ensign Kim had been aware of the details of the cease-fire agreement, and he and Chakotay were able to convince the remaining Hirogen to take the holographic technology and leave.
Four hours had passed, and there was still no sign of the captain. Chakotay was beside himself with worry. They assumed that the Alpha had been killed by the Beta when Kathryn was with him, and the Beta had been found dead in the holodeck. Chakotay couldn't help but worry that Kathryn had been a victim of the Beta before he had been shot in the holodeck simulation.
Chakotay clenched his fists, barely managing to keep from yelling at Lt. Carey who was replacing the burned out holo-emitters in the mess hall so they could get the Doctor back online. His holo-emitter was buried somewhere in the debris of sickbay and had not been located yet.
Tom pulled Chakotay aside and said, "He's doing the best he can."
Taking a deep breath, Chakotay said, "I'm sorry. I…" He covered his mouth and rubbed it hard to fight off the escalating fear that his wife was in serious danger.
Seeing that Chakotay was on the verge of losing control, Tom pulled him to a corner and had him sit where no one else could see him. "Hey, I understand. We're all worried about her, too. Give yourself a minute."
Chakotay nodded as Tom walked away, afraid that he would break down if he tried to speak. Kathryn had been in danger before, but never before had the facts pointed to such a morbid conclusion. The fact that she was thirty-nine weeks pregnant only added to his fear. He closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe deeply for several minutes until he could get control of his emotions.
When he heard cheers, he returned to the group in the center of the room to find the Doctor functioning again. Tom was bringing the Doctor up to speed when Chakotay received a call on his com-badge. Tapping it, he said, "Go ahead."
"This is Ensign Parker, sir. I've found the captain."
The room went silent and Chakotay closed his eyes, scared to death of what Parker might say next. Although he couldn't seem to breathe, he managed to ask, "And?"
"She's in pretty bad shape, sir. She seems to be in a lot of pain and barely hanging on. Should I bring her to the mess?"
The stress of the situation, the relief at finding her alive, and the knowledge that she was hurt was too much for him. Chakotay was visibly shaking and seemed to be unable to answer the question.
Tom put his hand on Chakotay's back to show his support while the Doctor took over the conversation. "Ensign, can you tell me what the captain's injuries are?"
"No sir. My tri-corder isn't functioning and she's in a dark corner. I only found her because I heard her moaning."
They heard Kathryn's pain-filled voice croak, "Ko…. tay?"
Her voice shocked Chakotay into action. "Kathryn! Parker, where are you?"
"Deck Eleven, sir. Right next to the hole in the holo-grid. Wait… she's trying to say something."
The Doctor rushed to gather supplies and handed them to Tom and Chakotay. "Paris, get down there and assess the situation. Take the commander with you."
Parker said, "I'm sorry, Sir. I can't make it out. She was repeating 'bay' and now she's curled up in pain again. I think I need to move her."
"No!" The Doctor turned to Tom. "I think she's in labor. Let me know what your readings are as soon as you get there."
The two men ran out of the room and moved quickly through the jeffries tubes down to deck eleven. Because of the multiple holes in the holo-grid, it took them a few minutes to find her. When they did, they saw her lying on the floor in the fetal position, curled as tightly as her pregnant body would allow.
Chakotay kneeled down by her head and began stroking her hair. "Kathryn, I'm here." Her eyes were clamped shut and her fists were clenched so that her knuckles were white. Her breathing was labored and she moaned with each breath.
Tom opened communications with the Doctor and said, "She's definitely in labor, Doc. Eight centimeters, ninety percent effaced, and her water is broken. She's lost a lot of blood and is severely dehydrated."
Alarmed, the Doctor asked, "She's bleeding? Has she been injured?"
"I can't tell… wait, here it is. She's been shot."
Chakotay's head popped up. He yelled, "What?"
"In the thigh. It isn't severe, but it did bleed heavily."
Kathryn relaxed a little, diverting Chakotay's attention back to her. She cracked open her eyes. "Chakotay?"
"I'm here, love. Right here." He picked up her hands and forced her grip open. "Hang onto me." Chakotay wasn't sure who was shaking more as she grabbed onto his hands.
"Ba… Baby's coming."
He leaned down and kissed her. "I know. It'll be okay."
"Knew… you'd… find me."
Chakotay's eyes welled up with pain at the thought of her suffering here alone. He wished that he could have personally scoured each deck until he found her.
They were interrupted when Tom injected a hypospray into her neck. "That was a pain killer, Captain. These are for dehydration and fluid loss." He injected two more. "You should be feeling better soon."
She nodded and took a deep breath. "'Nother one."
"A contraction?" Chakotay asked.
She gripped his hands and clenched down. Grimacing in pain, she held her breath.
"Breathe, Captain. Breathe," Tom said as he ran the tissue regenerator over her leg to stop the bleeding. The wound would require surgery later, but this would do for now.
She held her breath as long as she could and then exhaled and gasped for air until the contraction was over and then relaxed in exhaustion.
Tom touched Chakotay's arm and whispered. "You're going to have to help her. She's not managing this well."
"What can I do?"
"The Doctor didn't instruct you in labor management?"
"It was scheduled for two weeks ago, but, thanks to the Hirogen, it never happened."
"You've got to get her to concentrate on her breathing. It will help with the pain and get the baby the oxygen that it needs."
Samantha Wildman rounded the corner and said, "The Doctor thought you could use my help."
Samantha carried a large shirt and a few blankets with her. "Captain, it's Sam. Let's get you more comfortable."
"Wait…" Kathryn clenched up again and moaned.
Tom said, "Breathe, Captain. You've got to breathe."
"Shhhhhh…. Mmmmmmmmm." The Captain started breathing deeply, pausing every few breaths. When it was over, she said, "Shut up, Paris."
He ignored her and helped Sam remove Kathryn's trousers. Tom said, "Chakotay, sit with your back against the wall." Chakotay obliged and carefully stepped over Kathryn to slide in between her and the bulkhead.
Already feeling better, Kathryn was strong enough to say, "Paris, I'm not having this baby here."
"Yes, you are."
"That isn't a request. That's an order."
"Sorry, ma'am. She's coming soon and we don't have anywhere to put you on this deck that would be more comfortable. Turbo lifts aren't functioning."
Chakotay gently massaged her back and said, "It'll be okay."
Kathryn groaned and closed her eyes again. "Chakotay, I can't do this."
"Yes, you can. I promise."
Tom spread a blanket on the floor in front of Chakotay, and all three of them helped Kathryn sit up and lean back onto his chest. He situated his arms under hers and covered her belly with his hands, which she immediately grabbed onto and clenched down for the next contraction.
Chakotay lowered his head to hers and calmly said, "Breathe with me." He took slow, deep inhalations and then blew them back out just as slow. It took her a moment, but she eventually matched his pattern.
When the pain subsided, she relaxed her head back onto his shoulder for a minute and then looked up. Her eyes were bloodshot and she was very pale. "You're okay?"
He exhaled dramatically, relief flooding him. "Yeah, I'm okay." He chose not to tell her that had it not been for a group of holographic Klingons, he would have been a victim of a firing squad. "Thankfully, you are too."
"That's a matter of opinion."
Closing his eyes, he snuggled against her. "But you will be." Quietly, he whispered, "You really had me terrified this time, you know."
"Couldn't be any worse than all those other times I've scared you."
He rested his lips against her temple. "Yes, it could." He breathed with pure relief.
"Here it comes." She gripped his hands and tightened up her body.
"Relax." Chakotay started his slow breathing again and Kathryn joined him.
When it was over, she exhaled and relaxed back against him again. "That one wasn't as bad."
Tom said, "The pain meds are kicking in. Let's put this on you." He held up the over-sized shirt that Sam had brought.
Kathryn nodded and leaned forward to let Chakotay remove her shirt and bra. As soon as she changed into the shirt, another contraction hit and she and Chakotay stepped into their breathing pattern again.
As Kathryn relaxed, Sam said, "You're doing great now, Captain."
With eyes closed, she said, "Good. Now tell me what's happening with my ship."
Tom protested that she not worry about it, but Chakotay knew it would help her feel in-control so he filled her in. They worked through two more contractions while they were talking.
Kathryn asked, "We really have to do this here, in the corridor?"
Chakotay said, "I'm sorry, but yes."
"I guess we shouldn't have blown up sickbay."
"You did that?" He massaged her hands.
"Actually, you did that. I just told you to."
"You were Captain Miller, an American Soldier, and you thought I was Katrine, the leader of the French resistance. You wouldn't let me go off by myself, so we did it together."
"Glad to know that I was looking out for you. How did we get separated?"
She interrupted their conversation with another contraction. "Here it comes." They breathed through it together and after she relaxed for a minute, she continued. "We were separated immediately before I shut down the interfaces, so you wouldn't have remembered that I was around the corner in sickbay."
"Sickbay had just exploded when I came to. You were in there?"
Tiredly, she shook her head. "I had just left. That's when I was captured and taken up to meet with the Alpha."
"I should have stayed there to help you."
"You didn't remember." She sat up as she felt the next contraction coming on. Chakotay took the cue and re-started their breathing pattern. She settled back into his arms when it was over. "I can still feel the contractions, but it doesn't hurt anymore."
Tom said, "Let me know if it starts to hurt again, but we're about ready to start pushing."
"Already? Doesn't this take hours?"
"Kathryn, if you were in active labor when the holo-grid overloaded, then you've been doing this for a little more than five hours."
Tom said, "With as much blood as you lost, you probably passed out for awhile."
She closed her eyes and laid her head back against Chakotay's shoulder. During the next fifteen minutes, she had six more contractions until Tom said it was time to push.
"Captain, you can sit up or squat or whatever makes it the easiest, but with each contraction, you need to bear down."
"I'll just stay right here." Sam helped her pull her knees up and showed Chakotay how to hold her.
After the first two pushes, Tom stopped her. "You're doing great, Captain. She's coming down quickly. Let me open up your perineum for you." Tom used a tool to expand the tissue to make it easier for the baby to come through.
Kathryn went back to pushing. During the next contraction, she cried out with pain. Chakotay immediately held on tighter, not sure what else to do to help her. When the contraction was over, she was panting. She took a minute to catch her breath and then said, "Hurts, Tom."
"I'm sorry, but it's more than the pain meds can handle. If I give you any more right now, you'll start to get sleepy."
She nodded and started taking deep breaths to prepare for the next push. When the contraction started building, she grabbed her thighs and began to bear down with everything she had left in her. She focused on pushing past the pain, as if she were back with the Nechani trying to endure her self-imposed physical tests in order to save Kes's life. This felt like saving Kes's life all over again… not just because of the physical strength required, but because this baby was Kes's gift to them and she needed to push the baby out to save her life.
"Stop, Captain!" Tom yelled.
His voice startled her and she gasped for air. She had worked so hard at pushing that she had tuned everyone else out and had even forgotten to breathe.
Tom said, "I feel the head and you need to lie back so she can come out."
Still gasping, she reclined against Chakotay. "Slow your breathing, Kathryn. Don't hyperventilate." She forced her lungs to fill and then pushed the air out slowly. Chakotay let go of her legs and wiped her damp hair away from her forehead. He kissed her temple and said, "It's almost over."
"Okay, Captain. She'll be out with the next push."
Chakotay grabbed her legs and whispered in her ear, "Are you ready to meet your daughter?"
"OUR daughter." She nodded and said, "It's coming." She took three deep breaths and then pushed hard, crying out as the baby's head passed through. As soon as the baby was out, Kathryn collapsed against Chakotay in exhaustion.
Tom caught the slippery baby and immediately suctioned out her nose and mouth, causing her to start crying. He clamped off the umbilical cord and laid her on Kathryn's chest. Chakotay and Kathryn were speechless as they saw their daughter for the first time. Once she got settled on her mom's chest, she quieted and started looking around.
Kathryn said, "Oh, Chakotay. We did it."
"You did it," he said shakily.
Hearing the waiver in his voice, she looked up at Chakotay and noticed a couple of tears running down his face. She kissed one of them away and said, "I love you."
Tom lifted the umbilical cord and a pair of scissors. "Would you like to do the honors, Commander?"
Chakotay wiped his eyes and said, "I would love to." He took the scissors and cut the cord. "Save the placenta in stasis for me, would you?"
"What for?" Kathryn asked.
"Tradition. When we get home, I'll plant a tree over it."
Chakotay laughed. "No, but we'll pick out the perfect one."
Sam said, "Let me clean her off while you deliver the placenta, Captain."
Sighing, Kathryn let Sam take the baby and said, "I forgot about that."
"Just stay where you are and give me one more push, Captain."
Kathryn grabbed hold of her thighs and crunched down. The placenta came out with no trouble at all and Tom said, "Now you're done." She moaned in relief and sank back into Chakotay's arms.
A moment later, Sam came back and had Kathryn open her shirt. They got the baby latched onto her breast and Kathryn jumped, "Oh!"
Smiling Sam said, "Be glad she isn't Ktarian… they're born with teeth." They all watched her for a minute and Sam asked, "So… what's her name?"
As he started cleaning up the medical tools, Tom said, "Yes, we have a pool going."
Kathryn looked up at Chakotay, encouraging him to answer. He touched the baby's downy head and said, "Chenoa. Her name is Chenoa Kes Janeway. Our little dove."
Two weeks later…
Kathryn sat on the sofa feeding Chenoa while Chakotay worked at the desk in their quarters. She had returned to duty a week after the baby was born, but only part-time. Tuvok had been picking up the rest of her bridge duty while Chakotay had been busy managing both repairs and the crew's psychological needs.
They had taken the ship back to the planet where they had gotten married to use the space dock for repairs. There were several large fractures in the hull and the expansion of the holodecks had caused so much structural damage that the ship was unable to maintain a stable warp field longer than a few minutes. In addition, there was extensive damage in almost every room and corridor.
The door chimed and Kathryn covered her chest. Chakotay answered the door to find Naomi Wildman requesting entrance.
"I have a gift for Chenoa." Naomi held something behind her back.
"Well, in that case, come on in." Chakotay directed her to the sofa to sit next to Kathryn. "Chenoa is finishing her dinner right now."
"Actually, we're all done." Kathryn buttoned up her shirt.
Naomi presented a Flotter doll. "I used the rations I got from her name pool to make this for her."
Surprised, Kathryn said, "Well, thank you. You won the pool?"
As she nodded, Chakotay asked, "How did you guess Chenoa?"
"Well, you showed me the cradle and I saw the dove on it. So I looked up what dove means in your language, sir."
He responded, "That was very smart. I am very proud of you for noticing that."
Kathryn said, "Very good work." She asked, "Would you like to hold her, Naomi?"
Nodding vigorously, she said, "Could I?"
"Sit against the back of the sofa." Chakotay took Chenoa from Kathryn and carefully laid her across Naomi's lap, putting a pillow under Naomi's elbow to hold up the baby's head. "Be very still."
Naomi was mesmerized by the infant in her arms. Chenoa looked up at Naomi's face and yawned wide, making Naomi giggle. "I think she's sleepy."
"She sleeps a lot."
Naomi said, "I know. She must sleep all the time because she's been asleep every time I've seen her."
Chakotay looked over Naomi's head to catch Kathryn's attention. When she looked up, he winked at her, thinking about how much they would love for the baby to sleep all the time.
As soon as Chenoa fell asleep, Naomi said, "I'd better go. My mom told me not to stay long."
Chakotay picked up the baby and Kathryn said, "Thank you so much for Flotter."
"You're welcome. Bye." They laughed as Naomi ran out the door.
Chakotay sat back down and cradled Chenoa in his arms. Kathryn cuddled up next to him and laid her head on his shoulder. Kathryn said, "I can't believe she's ours."
"I know. It's amazing how much our life has changed in the past year. I keep thinking that I should pinch myself to try to wake up from this dream… Ouch!"
Kathryn laughed. "Still dreaming?"
"If I weren't holding her, you'd be in trouble right now." "Is that so?" Kathryn got up and headed towards the bedroom. "I'll be in here, ready to cause trouble, if you want to put her down."
As Chakotay put Chenoa in her cradle, he thought about how amazed he was at the woman that Kathryn had become since they first confessed their love for each other. She was happy and full of life, and it seemed that she wasn't letting her guilt control her emotions any more. Chenoa blessed their lives even further, giving him everything he had always wished for - a family, a wife, and a life full of love.
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